There are many benefits to working with a real estate professional when selling your house. During challenging times, like what we face today, it becomes even more important to have an expert you trust to help guide you through the process. If you’re considering selling on your own, known in the industry as a For Sale By Owner (FSBO), it’s critical to consider the following items.
1. Your Safety Is a Priority
Your safety should always come first, and that’s more crucial than ever given the current health situation in our country. When you FSBO, it is incredibly difficult to control entry into your home. A real estate professional will have the proper protocols in place to protect not only your belongings but your health and well-being too. From regulating the number of people in your home at one time to ensuring proper sanitization during and after a showing, and even facilitating virtual tours, real estate professionals are equipped to follow the latest industry standards recommended by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) to help protect you and your potential buyers.
2. A Powerful Online Strategy Is a Must to Attract a Buyer
Recent studies from NAR have shown that, even before COVID-19, the first step 43% of all buyers took when looking for a home was to search online. Throughout the process, that number jumps to 97%. Today, those numbers have grown exponentially. Most real estate agents have developed a strong Internet and social media strategy to promote the sale of your house.
3. There Are Too Many Negotiations
Here are just a few of the people you’ll need to negotiate with if you decide to FSBO:
· The buyer, who wants the best deal possible
· The buyer’s agent, who solely represents the best interest of the buyer
· The inspection company, which works for the buyer and will almost always find challenges with the house
· The appraiser, if there is a question of value
As part of their training, agents are taught how to negotiate every aspect of the real estate transaction and how to mediate the emotions felt by buyers looking to make what is probably the largest purchase of their lives.
4. You Won’t Know if Your Purchaser Is Qualified for a Mortgage
Having a buyer who wants to purchase your house is the first step. Making sure they can afford to buy it is just as important. As a FSBO, it’s almost impossible to be involved in the mortgage process of your buyer. A real estate professional is trained to ask the appropriate questions and, in most cases, will be intimately aware of the progress being made toward a purchaser’s mortgage commitment. You need someone who’s working with lenders every day to guarantee your buyer makes it to the closing table.
5. FSBOing Is Becoming More Difficult from a Legal Standpoint
The documentation involved in the selling process is growing dramatically as more and more disclosures and regulations become mandatory. In an increasingly litigious society, the agent acts as a third-party to help the seller avoid legal jeopardy. This is one of the major reasons why the percentage of people FSBOing has dropped from 19% to 8% over the last 20+ years.
6. You Net More Money When Using an Agent
Many homeowners think they’ll save the real estate commission by selling on their own. Realize that the main reason buyers look at FSBOs is because they also believe they can save the real estate agent’s commission. The seller and buyer can’t both save on the commission.
A study by Collateral Analytics revealed that FSBOs don’t actually save anything by forgoing the help of an agent. In some cases, the seller may even net less money from the sale. The study found the difference in price between a FSBO and an agent-listed home was an average of 6%. One of the main reasons for the price difference is effective exposure:
“Properties listed with a broker that is a member of the local MLS will be listed online with all other participating broker websites, marketing the home to a much larger buyer population. And those MLS properties generally offer compensation to agents who represent buyers, incentivizing them to show and sell the property and again potentially enlarging the buyer pool.”
The more buyers that view a home, the greater the chance a bidding war will take place, potentially driving the price higher, too.
Listing on your own leaves you to manage the entire transaction by yourself. Why do that when you can hire an agent and still net the same amount of money? Before you decide to take on the challenge of selling your house alone, let’s connect to discuss your options.
We talk a lot about why it makes financial sense to buy a home, but more often than not, we’re drawn to the emotional reasons for homeownership.
No matter the living space, the feeling of a home means different things to different people. Whether it’s a certain scent or a favorite chair, the feel-good connections to our own homes are typically more important to us than the financial ones. Here are some of the reasons why.
1. Owning your home is an accomplishment worth celebrating
You’ve likely worked very hard to achieve this dream, and whether it’s your first home or your fifth, congratulations are in order for this milestone. You’ve earned it.
2. There’s no place like home
Owning your own home offers not only safety and security but also a comfortable place where you can simply relax and kick-back after a long day. Sometimes, that’s just what we need to feel recharged and truly content.
3. You can find more space to meet your needs
Whether you want more room in your home for your changing lifestyle (think: working from home, virtual school, or a personal gym), or you simply prefer to have a large backyard for socially-distant entertaining, you can invest in a location that truly works for your evolving needs.
4. You have control over renovations, updates, and your style
Looking to try one of those complicated wall treatments you saw on Pinterest? Tired of paying an additional pet deposit for your apartment building? Maybe you want to finally adopt that fur-baby puppy or kitten you’ve been hoping for. You can do all of these things in your own home.
Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer or a move-up buyer who wants to start a new chapter in your life, now is a great time to reflect on the intangible factors that turn a house into a happy home.
Once you’ve found the right home and applied for a mortgage, there are some key things to keep in mind before you close. You’re undoubtedly excited about the opportunity to decorate your new place, but before you make any large purchases, move your money around, or make any major life changes, consult your lender – someone who is qualified to tell you how your financial decisions may impact your home loan.
Below is a list of things you shouldn’t do after applying for a mortgage. They’re all important to know – or simply just good reminders – for the process.
1. Don’t Deposit Cash into Your Bank Accounts Before Speaking with Your Bank or Lender. Lenders need to source your money, and cash is not easily traceable. Before you deposit any amount of cash into your accounts, discuss the proper way to document your transactions with your loan officer.
2. Don’t Make Any Large Purchases Like a New Car or Furniture for Your New Home. New debt comes with new monthly obligations. New obligations create new qualifications. People with new debt have higher debt-to-income ratios. Higher ratios make for riskier loans, and then sometimes qualified borrowers no longer qualify.
3. Don’t Co-Sign Other Loans for Anyone. When you co-sign, you’re obligated. With that obligation comes higher ratios as well. Even if you promise you won’t be the one making the payments, your lender will have to count the payments against you.
4. Don’t Change Bank Accounts. Remember, lenders need to source and track your assets. That task is significantly easier when there’s consistency among your accounts. Before you transfer any money, speak with your loan officer.
5. Don’t Apply for New Credit. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a new credit card or a new car. When you have your credit report run by organizations in multiple financial channels (mortgage, credit card, auto, etc.), your FICO® score will be impacted. Lower credit scores can determine your interest rate and maybe even your eligibility for approval.
6. Don’t Close Any Credit Accounts. Many buyers believe having less available credit makes them less risky and more likely to be approved. Wrong. A major component of your score is your length and depth of credit history (as opposed to just your payment history) and your total usage of credit as a percentage of available credit. Closing accounts has a negative impact on both of those determinants of your score.
Any blip in income, assets, or credit should be reviewed and executed in a way that ensures your home loan can still be approved. If your job or employment status has changed recently, share that with your lender as well. The best plan is to fully disclose and discuss your intentions with your loan officer before you do anything financial in nature.
This year will be remembered for many reasons, and optimism is one thing that’s been in short supply since the spring. We’re experiencing a global pandemic, social unrest, an economic downturn, and natural disasters, just to name a few. The challenges brought on by the health crisis have also forced many homeowners to reevaluate their space and what they need in a home going into 2021. So, experts are forecasting that next year is one in which we can be optimistic about real estate for three key reasons.
1. The Economy Is Expected to Continue Improving
Tim Duy from the University of Oregon puts it this way:
“There is nothing fundamentally ‘broken’ in the economy that needs to heal…there was no obvious financial bubble driving excessive activity in any one economic sector when the pandemic hit…With Covid-19 cases surging again, it is understandably hard to look optimistically to the other side of this winter…Don’t let the near-term challenges distract from the economic stage being set for next four years.”
2. Interest Rates Are Projected to Stay Low
In the latest projections from Freddie Mac, interest rates for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage are expected to remain at or near 3% next year. These low rates will continue to make homes more affordable, driving demand for housing in 2021.
3. Future Home Sales Are Forecasted to Grow
While the economy improves and interest rates remain low, homes are also expected to continue appreciating as more people buy in the coming year. Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at realtor.com, says:
“We expect home sales in 2021 to come in 7.0% above 2020 levels, following a more normal seasonal trend and building momentum through the spring and sustaining the pace in the second half of the year.”
Experts forecast that buyers and sellers are going to be active in 2021. If you’ve thought about buying or selling your home this year but have held off, now may be the time to take advantage of this market. Let’s connect to take the first step toward your new home today.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday are behind us, yet finding the perfect holiday gifts for friends and family is certainly still top of mind for many right now. This year, there’s another type of buyer that’s very active this holiday season – the homebuyer.
Each month, ShowingTime releases their Showing Index which tracks the average number of appointments received on active U.S. house listings. The most recent index notes:
“The Showing Index reported a 60.9 percent jump in nationwide showing traffic year over year in October, the sixth consecutive month to see an increase over last year.”
Here’s the breakdown of the latest activity by region of the country compared to this time last year:
· The Northeast increased by 65.5%
· The West increased by 64.7%
· The Midwest increased by 55.7%
· The South increased by 54.7%
Why is the traffic so active?
The health crisis definitely put homebuying plans on pause for many earlier this year. Buyers, however, are in the market and making moves well past the typical busy homebuying seasons of spring and summer.
One of the main reasons buyer traffic has continued to soar in the second half of 2020 is how dramatically mortgage rates have fallen. According to Freddie Mac, the average mortgage rate last December was 3.72%. Today, the rate is a full percentage point lower.
There are first-time, move-up, and move-down buyers actively looking for the home of their dreams this winter. If you’re thinking of selling your house in 2021, you don’t need to wait until the spring to do it. Your potential buyer is very likely searching for a home in your neighborhood right now.
If you’re currently feeling the stress of affording your mortgage payment, or if you know someone who is, there’s still time to get help. For homeowners experiencing financial hardship this year, the CARES Act provides mortgage payment deferral options, creating much-needed relief in these challenging times.
It’s important, however, to understand how forbearance works. It’s not automatic. You need to take action now and apply for the program before these options expire.
A study by the Urban Institute determined:
“Approximately 400,000 homeowners who became delinquent after the pandemic began have forgone forbearance and become delinquent. These borrowers may not know they are eligible for forbearance.”
Thankfully, there’s still time to apply for forbearance, even if you’re just learning about it now. Doing so may be the game-changer you need to stay in your home, just when you need it most. Mike Fratantoni, Senior Vice President and Chief Economist at the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), explained:
“The increase in new forbearance requests may be the result of additional outreach to homeowners who had previously not taken advantage of forbearance opportunities.”
If you need to apply for forbearance but aren’t sure how to begin the process, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) published 5 steps to follow when requesting mortgage forbearance:
1. Find the contact information for your servicer
Look at your mortgage statement to find the phone number for your servicer (the company you send your mortgage payment to every month). The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau encourages you to use the number on your statement to avoid scams.
2. Call your servicer
Explain your situation so your servicer can determine your best course of action. Be sure to ask any questions you have about the process.
3. Ask if you’re eligible for protection under the CARES Act
The CARES Act protects homeowners with federally backed loans (FHA, VA, USDA, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac). In addition, some private servicers are also providing forbearance programs.
4. Ask what happens when your forbearance period ends
Depending on the plan available to you, there are different options you may be able to consider. Your servicer will help you get a better understanding of what’s available.
The CFPB also recommends asking questions like:
· What happens to the payments I miss?
· What are my repayment options?
· When will repayment be due?
· Are there any fees?
5. Ask your servicer to provide the agreement in writing
A written agreement allows you to see exactly what type of program you’re agreeing to. It also helps you make sure it matches what you discuss with your provider over the phone.
Help is out there for homeowners in need, but it’s important to apply now while this benefit is still available. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says: don’t wait, forbearance is not automatic. It must be requested. Reach out to your mortgage provider today so you can get the assistance you need to protect the hard-earned investment you’ve made in your home.
Talk of a housing bubble is beginning to crop up as home prices have appreciated at a rapid pace this year. This is understandable since the appreciation of residential real estate is well above historic annual averages. According to the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), annual appreciation since 1991 has averaged 3.8%. Here are the latest 2020 appreciation numbers from three reliable sources:
· FHFA: 7.8%
· CoreLogic: 7.3%
· Case-Shiller: 7%
It’s easy to jump to the conclusion that house appreciation is out of control in today’s market. However, we need to put these numbers into context first.
Inflation and the Comeback from the Housing Crash
Following the housing crash, home values depreciated dramatically from 2007-2011. Values are still recovering from that unusually long period of falling prices. We must also realize that normal inflation has had an impact.
Bill McBride, the founder of the well-respected Calculated Risk blog, recently summed it up this way:
“It has been over fourteen years since the bubble peak. In the Case-Shiller release today, the seasonally adjusted National Index, was reported as being 22.2% above the previous bubble peak. However, in real terms (adjusted for inflation), the National index is still about 2% below the bubble peak…As an example, if a house price was $200,000 in January 2000, the price would be close to $291,000 today adjusted for inflation.”
The COVID Impact on Home Prices
The pandemic caused many households to reconsider whether their current home still fulfills their lifestyle. Many homeowners now want larger yards that are both separate and private.
Their needs on the inside of the home have changed too. People now want home offices, gyms, and living rooms well-suited for video conferencing. Barbara Ballinger, a freelance writer and the author of several books on real estate, recently wrote:
“While homeowners continue to want their outdoor spaces that offer a safe retreat, that appeal has shifted into other parts of the home, coupling comfort with function. In other words, homeowners want amenities for work and leisure, and they plan to enjoy them long after the pandemic.”
At the same time, concerns about the pandemic have caused many homeowners to put their plans to sell on hold. Realtor.com just released their November Monthly Housing Market Trends Report. It explains:
“Nationally, the inventory of homes for sale decreased 39.2% over the past year in November…This amounted to 490,000 fewer homes for sale compared to November of last year.”
More people buying and fewer people selling has caused home prices to escalate. However, with a vaccine on the horizon, more homeowners will be putting their houses on the market. This will better balance supply with demand and slow down the rapid appreciation.
That’s why major organizations in the housing industry are calling for much more moderate home appreciation next year. Here are the most recent forecasts for 2021:
· National Association of Realtors: 4.5%
· Freddie Mac: 2.6%
· Fannie Mae: 2.1%
This Is Nothing Like 2006
Finally, let’s put to rest some of the concerns that today’s scenario is anything like what led up to the last housing crash. Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at the National Association of Realtors (NAR), explains why this is nothing like 2006:
“Such a frenzy of activity, reminiscent of 2006, raises questions about a bubble and the potential for a painful crash. The answer: There’s no comparison. Back in 2006, dubious adjustable-rate mortgages taxed many buyers’ budgets. Some loans didn’t even require income documentation. Today, buyers are taking out 30-year fixed-rate mortgages. Fourteen years ago, there were 3.8 million homes listed for sale, and home builders were putting up about 2 million new units. Now, inventory is only about 1.5 million homes, and home builders are underproducing relative to historical averages.”
Most aspects of life have been anything but normal in 2020. That includes buying and selling real estate. High demand coupled with restricted supply has caused home prices to appreciate above historic levels. With the end of the health crisis in sight, we will see price appreciation return to more normal levels next year.
Last Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released the November Jobs Report. It revealed that, though headed in the right direction, the nation’s job recovery has slowed. The consensus reaction is best exemplified by a quote from Glassdoor Senior Economist, Daniel Zhao:
“We saw positive job gains, but I think the sentiment is largely negative because we know that we’re heading into a dark winter.”
There’s no doubt that millions of households have been – and continue to be -devastated by the economic downturn caused by the pandemic.
We should, however, put the current situation into perspective. Where we currently stand is much better than where most experts thought we would be at this time. Jed Kolko, Chief Economist of Indeed, explained in his State of the Labor Market that, though the situation is not good, we’re doing better than original expectations:
“Though the labor market rebound is incomplete, it has nevertheless surpassed expectations. In May, after payrolls plunged and unemployment spiked, the Wall Street Journal panel of economic forecasters projected unemployment would be over 11% in December 2020 and not fall below 7% until the first half of 2022 — a milestone already passed in October.”
With the announcement that vaccines should be available soon, we’re not far from the most damaged segments of the economy gaining momentum again.
Jeff Sparshott of the Wall Street Journal recently wrote:
“Even with signs of a recent slowdown, the labor-market recovery since this spring has been stronger than most economists expected. Many now project widespread vaccine distribution will eventually help lift the economy further as businesses are allowed to reopen and consumers feel more comfortable traveling, going to the movies.”
Though millions of Americans are still out of work, the situation was forecasted to be even direr than it is today. Once a vaccine becomes available, the economy should complete its comeback, and so should the labor market.
This year, the opportunity to work remotely has increased the demand for vacation homes. Gay Cororaton, Senior Economist and Director of Housing and Commercial Research at the National Association of Realtors (NAR), notes:
“Working from home is a positive factor in demand for vacation homes.”
Buyers are taking advantage of the fact that working from home might be someplace other than their primary residence – at the beach, in the mountains, or somewhere in between. NAR explains:
“Sales in vacation-home counties increased 48% on average year over year in the third quarter; overall, 81% of vacation-home counties saw a year-over-year sales increase.”
Is it Time to Sell Your Vacation Home?
If you’ve been thinking about selling your vacation home, putting it on the market now while demand is high might be your best move. Here are two reasons why.
1. Vacation Homes Are Selling Quickly
These homes are not staying in the market for very long. NAR also notes:
“In September, 68% of vacation homes sold in less than a month. Historically, about 30% sell that quickly…It’s a pretty amazing uptick compared to past years.”
2. Home Prices Are Rising
With an increase in demand, prices go up. NAR continues:
“In the third quarter, prices in vacation-home counties rose by about 32% year over year. Seventy-nine percent of these counties experienced year-over-year price gains. NAR defines a vacation-home county as one in which seasonal housing accounts for at least 20% of stock.”
If your vacation home is sitting idle, maybe not attracting as many renters as you usually see, or if you simply want to sell it so you can trade up or take it off your worry list, now may be the time. Demand is high, so you’re in the ideal spot to get a stronger return on your investment today.
Demand is on the rise, so let’s discuss your next steps when it comes to selling your vacation home.
Homeownership is on the goal list for many young adults, but sometimes it’s hard to know exactly how to get there. From understanding the homebuying process to pre-approval and down payment assistance options, uncertainty along the way can ultimately hold some buyers back.
Today, there are over 75 million Millennials and 67 million Gen Z’ers in the U.S., making up a significant number of both current and soon-to-be homebuyers. According to a recent Fannie Mae survey of more than 2,000 of these individuals:
“88% said they are confident they will achieve homeownership someday.”
In addition, the survey also reveals that for younger generations, the motivation to own a home may be more emotional than financial compared to previous generations:
· <50% say they want to use their home as an asset
· 78% believe it’s the best way to live the way they want, without restrictions
· 80% believe homeownership is the best way to make it on their own
Whether homeownership goals come from the heart or are driven by financial aspirations (or maybe both), the obstacles standing in the way don’t have to bring these dreams to a screeching halt. The same survey also reveals two key roadblocks for potential buyers. Thankfully, they’re both easily overcome with the power of knowledge and trusted advisors leading the way. Here’s a look at these two challenges potential homebuyers face today:
1. 73% of future homebuyers are unaware of low-down-payment mortgage options
For those who want to purchase a home, low-down-payment options are instrumental to affording one sooner rather than later, especially given the amount of debt many younger adults have accumulated. Fannie Mae also notes:
“Among the challenges they face is an unprecedented amount of debt, along with a lack of understanding of the mortgage process and their own purchasing power. Debt, in particular, creates many obstacles such as a limited ability to save and the fear of taking on more debt.”
Today, there are more than 2,340 down payment assistance programs available nationwide to help relieve this pressure. Understanding what’s out there and the options available may help many buyers become homeowners faster than they thought possible. In a year like this, with record-low mortgage rates making their mark in the history books, being able to take advantage of the opportunity buyers have right now is essential to long-term affordability.
2. 64% of buyers expect lenders and other real estate professionals to educate them about the mortgage process
While many people love to do a quick search online to find instant answers to their questions, it isn’t the only way younger generations want to consume information or build their knowledge base. As the survey mentions, having trusted professionals help them learn what it takes to achieve their dreams is definitely on their wish list too.
If you’re aiming for homeownership someday, it may be in closer reach than you think. Let’s connect so you can learn about the process and get the guidance you need to make it happen.