Is a 20% Down Payment Really Necessary To Purchase a Home?

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There’s a common misconception that, as a homebuyer, you need to come up with 20% of the total sale price for your down payment. In fact, a recent survey by Lending Tree asks what is keeping consumers from purchasing a home. For over half of those surveyed, the ability to afford a down payment is the biggest hurdle.

That may be because those individuals assume a 20% down payment is necessary. While putting more money down if you’re able can benefit buyers, putting 20% down is not mandatory. As Freddie Mac puts it:

The most damaging down payment myth—since it stops the homebuying process before it can start—is the belief that 20% is necessary.”

If saving that much money sounds overwhelming, you might be ready to give up on the dream of homeownership before you even begin – but you don’t have to. According to the Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the median down payment hasn’t been over 20% since 2005. It may sound surprising, but today’s average down payment is only 12%. That number is even lower for first-time homebuyers, whose average down payment is only 7%.

Based on the Home Buyers and Sellers Generational Trends Report from NAR, the graph below shows an even closer look at the down payment percentage various age groups pay:

 

 

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As the graph shows, the only groups who put 20% or more down on average are older homebuyers who likely can use the sale of an existing home to fuel a larger down payment on their next home.

What does this mean for you?

If you’re a prospective homebuyer, it’s important to know you don’t have to put the full 20% down. And while saving for any down payment amount may feel like a challenge, keep in mind there are programs for qualified buyers that allow them to purchase a home with a down payment as low as 3.5%. There are also options like VA loans and USDA loans with no down payment requirements for qualified applicants.

To understand your options, you do need to do your homework. If you’re interested in learning more about down payment assistance programs, information is available through sites like downpaymentresource.com. Be sure to also work with a real estate advisor from the start to learn what you may qualify for in the homebuying process.

Bottom Line

Don’t let the myth of the 20% down payment end your homebuying process before it begins. If you want to purchase a home this year, reach out to a trusted real estate professional to start the conversation and explore your options.

Reasons You Should Consider Selling This Fall

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If you’re trying to decide when to sell your house, there may not be a better time to list than right now. The ultimate sellers’ market we’re in today won’t last forever. If you’re thinking of making a move, here are four reasons to put your house up for sale sooner rather than later.

1. Your House Will Likely Sell Quickly

According to the Realtors Confidence Index released by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), homes continue to sell quickly – on average, they’re selling in just 17 days. As a seller, that’s great news for you.

Average days on market is a strong indicator of buyer demand. And if homes are selling quickly, buyers have to be more decisive and act fast to submit their offer before other buyers swoop in.

2. Buyers Are Willing To Compete for Your House

In addition to selling quickly, homes are receiving multiple offers. That same survey shows sellers are seeing an average of 4.5 offers, and they’re competitive ones. The graph below shows how the average number of offers right now compares to previous years:

 

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Buyers today know bidding wars are a likely outcome, and they’re coming prepared with their best offer in hand. Receiving several offers on your house means you can select the one that makes the most sense for your situation and financial well-being.

3. When Supply Is Low, Your House Is in the Spotlight

One of the most significant challenges for motivated buyers is the current inventory of homes for sale. Though it’s improving, it remains at near-record lows. The chart below shows how today’s low inventory stacks up against recent years. The lighter the blue is in the chart, the lower the housing supply.

 

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If you’re looking to take advantage of buyer demand and get the most attention for your house, selling now before more listings come to the market might be your best option.

4. If You’re Thinking of Moving Up, Now May Be the Time

If your current home no longer meets your needs, it may be the perfect time to make a move. Today, homeowners are gaining a significant amount of wealth through growing equity. You can leverage that equity, plus current low mortgage rates, to power your move now. But these near-historic low rates won’t last forever.

Experts forecast interest rates will rise. In their forecast, Freddie Mac says:

“While we forecast rates to increase gradually later in the year, we don’t expect to see a rapid increase. At the end of the year, we forecast 30-year rates will be around 3.4%, rising to 3.8% by the fourth quarter of 2022.”

When rates rise, even modestly, it’ll impact your monthly payment and by extension your purchasing power.

Bottom Line

Don’t delay. The combination of housing supply challenges, low mortgage rates, and extremely motivated buyers gives sellers a unique opportunity this season. If you’re thinking about making a move, reach out to your real estate advisor to talk about why it makes sense to list your house now.

 

5 Tips for Making Your Best Offer

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In today’s sellers’ market, standing out as a buyer is critical. Multi-offer scenarios and bidding wars are the norm due to the low supply of houses for sale and high buyer demand. If you’re buying this fall, you’ll want every advantage, especially when you’ve found the home of your dreams.

Below are five things to keep in mind when it’s time to make an offer.

1. Know Your Budget

Knowing your budget and what you can afford is critical to your success as a homebuyer. The best way to understand your numbers is to work with a lender so you can get pre-approved for a loan. As Freddie Mac puts it:

“This pre-approval allows you to look for a home with greater confidence and demonstrates to the seller that you are a serious buyer.

Showing sellers you’re serious can give you a competitive edge. It enables you to act quickly when you’ve found your perfect home.

2. Be Prepared To Move Fast

Speed and the pace of sales are contributing factors to today’s competitive housing market. According to the latest Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the average home is on the market for just 17 days. As the report notes:

“Eighty-nine percent of homes sold in July 2021 were on the market for less than a month.”

When homes are selling fast, staying on top of the market and moving quickly are key. After you’ve worked with your agent to find the home that suits your needs, they’ll help you put together and submit your best offer as soon as possible.

 

3. A Real Estate Professional Can Lead You to Victory

No matter what the housing market looks like, rely on a trusted real estate advisor. As Freddie Mac says:

“The success of your homebuying journey largely depends on the company you keep. . . . be sure to select experienced, trusted professionals who will help you make informed decisions and avoid any pitfalls.

Agents are experts in the local real estate market. They have insight into what’s worked for other buyers in your area and what sellers may be looking for in an offer. It may seem simple, but catering to what a seller may need can help your offer stand out.

4. Craft a Strong, Fair Offer

In the past, offering at or near the asking price was enough to make your offer appealing to sellers. In today’s market, that’s often not the case. According to the latest Realtors Confidence Index from NAR, 50% of offers are above the list price.

In such a competitive market, emotions and prices can run high. Having an agent to help craft a strong, fair offer is critical in these situations. Your agent can help you understand:

  • The market value of the home
  • Recent sales trends in the area
  • Current buyer demand

5. Understand the Seller’s Needs, but Resist Waiving Certain Contingencies

When crafting an offer, you’ll want to keep both your best interest and the interest of the seller in mind. Your trusted real estate advisor will help you consider which levers you could pull, including contract contingencies (conditions you set that the seller must meet for the purchase to be finalized). Of course, there are certain contingencies you don’t want to give up, like the home inspection.

Freddie Mac explains:

 

“Resist the temptation to waive the inspection contingency, especially in a hot market or if the home is being sold ‘as-is’, which means the seller won’t pay for repairs. Without an inspection contingency, you could be stuck with a contract on a house you can’t afford to fix.”

Bottom Line

In today’s competitive housing market, it’s more important than ever to make a strong offer on a home. Connect with a local real estate professional to make sure your offer rises to the top.

The Truth About Today’s Buyer Demand

 

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When it comes to the latest news in real estate, there are a lot of sensational headlines in the media. In times like this, when it can be hard to know what to believe, put your trust in the experts. Those of us in the housing market respect that buying or selling a home is a major life decision, and we offer advice based on what the data shows.

Despite what you may have read, the housing market is still undeniably strong. Here’s a look at what leading experts have to say about buyer demand today and how it continues to shape the industry:

Michael Lane, President at ShowingTime:

“In general, there are definite signs of cooling demand. However, buyer traffic is still at historically high levels compared to pre-pandemic showings.”

Odeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist at First American:

“Seasonally adjusted purchase applications tick up slightly to the highest level since July. Demand for homes remains strong and steady. Excluding 2020 (not a good benchmark) purchase applications are the strongest in a decade.” 

Selma Hepp, Deputy Chief Economist at CoreLogic:

Home buyer demand pushed price growth to a new record high in June, with S&P CoreLogic national Case-Shiller Index clocking in an 18.6% year-over-year growth rate. The month-to-month index jumped 2.18%, making it another strong monthly growth, and the fastest May-to-June increase since the data series began.”

What It Means for You

As a seller, buyer demand is an important factor that helps influence how fast your house will sell and how many buyers may be competing for it. When buyers have to compete against each other for a limited supply of available homes, bidding wars can drive prices up. While things have cooled slightly since the peak of the pandemic housing rush, buyer demand is still far surpassing historical norms. That’s why we’re still in a sellers’ market.

Bottom Line

If you’re torn on whether or not you want to sell your home this year, rest assured it’s still a great time to make a move. Work with a real estate professional today to discuss how you can sell now and do it on your best terms thanks to today’s buyer demand.

5 Tips for Making Your Best Offer

 

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In today’s sellers’ market, standing out as a buyer is critical. Multi-offer scenarios and bidding wars are the norm due to the low supply of houses for sale and high buyer demand. If you’re buying this fall, you’ll want every advantage, especially when you’ve found the home of your dreams.

Below are five things to keep in mind when it’s time to make an offer.

1. Know Your Budget

Knowing your budget and what you can afford is critical to your success as a homebuyer. The best way to understand your numbers is to work with a lender so you can get pre-approved for a loan. As Freddie Mac puts it:

“This pre-approval allows you to look for a home with greater confidence and demonstrates to the seller that you are a serious buyer.

Showing sellers you’re serious can give you a competitive edge. It enables you to act quickly when you’ve found your perfect home.

2. Be Prepared To Move Fast

Speed and the pace of sales are contributing factors to today’s competitive housing market. According to the latest Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the average home is on the market for just 17 days. As the report notes:

“Eighty-nine percent of homes sold in July 2021 were on the market for less than a month.”

When homes are selling fast, staying on top of the market and moving quickly are key. After you’ve worked with your agent to find the home that suits your needs, they’ll help you put together and submit your best offer as soon as possible.

3. A Real Estate Professional Can Lead You to Victory

No matter what the housing market looks like, rely on a trusted real estate advisor. As Freddie Mac says:

“The success of your homebuying journey largely depends on the company you keep. . . . be sure to select experienced, trusted professionals who will help you make informed decisions and avoid any pitfalls.

Agents are experts in the local real estate market. They have insight into what’s worked for other buyers in your area and what sellers may be looking for in an offer. It may seem simple, but catering to what a seller may need can help your offer stand out.

4. Craft a Strong, Fair Offer

In the past, offering at or near the asking price was enough to make your offer appealing to sellers. In today’s market, that’s often not the case. According to the latest Realtors Confidence Index from NAR, 50% of offers are above the list price.

In such a competitive market, emotions and prices can run high. Having an agent to help craft a strong, fair offer is critical in these situations. Your agent can help you understand:

  • The market value of the home
  • Recent sales trends in the area
  • Current buyer demand

5. Understand the Seller’s Needs, but Resist Waiving Certain Contingencies

When crafting an offer, you’ll want to keep both your best interest and the interest of the seller in mind. Your trusted real estate advisor will help you consider which levers you could pull, including contract contingencies (conditions you set that the seller must meet for the purchase to be finalized). Of course, there are certain contingencies you don’t want to give up, like the home inspection.

Freddie Mac explains:

“Resist the temptation to waive the inspection contingency, especially in a hot market or if the home is being sold ‘as-is’, which means the seller won’t pay for repairs. Without an inspection contingency, you could be stuck with a contract on a house you can’t afford to fix.”

Bottom Line

In today’s competitive housing market, it’s more important than ever to make a strong offer on a home. Connect with a local real estate professional to make sure your offer rises to the top.

Home Price Appreciation Is Skyrocketing in 2021. What About 2022?

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One of the major story lines over the last year is how well the residential real estate market performed. One key metric in the spotlight is home price appreciation. According to the latest indices, home prices are skyrocketing this year.

Here are the latest percentages showing the year-over-year increase in home price appreciation:

The dramatic increases are seen at every price point and in all regions of the country.

Increases Are Across Every Price Point

According to the latest Home Price Index from CoreLogic, each price range is seeing at least a 19% increase year-over-year:

 

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Increases Are Across Every Region in the Country

According to the U.S. National Home Price Index from S&P Case-Shiller, every major metro is seeing at least a 13.3% growth in prices (see graph below):

 

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What About Price Appreciation in 2022?

Prices are the result of the balance between supply and demand. The demand for single-family homes has been strong over the last 18 months. The supply of houses available for sale was near historic lows. However, there’s some good news on the supply side. Realtor.com reports:

“432,000 new listings hit the national housing market in August, an increase of 18,000 over last year.”

There will, however, still be a shortage of supply compared to demand in 2022. CoreLogic reveals:

“Given the widespread demand and considering the number of standalone homes built during the past decade, the single-family market is estimated to be undersupplied by 4.35 million units by 2022.”

Yet, most forecasts call for home price appreciation to moderate in 2022. The Home Price Expectation Survey, a survey of over 100 economists, investment strategists, and housing market analysts, calls for a 5.12% appreciation level next year. Here are the 2022 home appreciation forecasts from the four other major entities:

  1. The National Association of Realtors (NAR): 4.4%
  2. The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA): 8.4%
  3. Fannie Mae: 5.1%
  4. Freddie Mac: 5.3%

Price appreciation is expected to slow in 2022 when compared to the record highs of 2021. However, it is still expected to be greater than the annual average of 4.1% over the last 25 years.

Bottom Line

If you owned a home over the past year, you’ve seen your household wealth grow substantially, and you’ll see another nice boost in 2022. If you’re thinking of buying, consider buying now as prices are forecast to continue increasing through at least next year.

What Buyers and Sellers Need To Know About the Appraisal Gap

 

 

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It’s economy 101 – when supply is low and demand is high, prices naturally rise. That’s what’s happening in today’s housing market. Home prices are appreciating at near-historic rates, and that’s creating some challenges when it comes to home appraisals.

In recent months, it’s become increasingly common for an appraisal to come in below the contract price on the house. Shawn Telford, Chief Appraiser for CoreLogic, explains it like this:

Recently, we observed buyers paying prices above listing price and higher than the market data available to appraisers can support. This difference is known as ‘the appraisal gap . . . .’”

Why does an appraisal gap happen?

Basically, with the heightened buyer demand, purchasers are often willing to pay over asking to secure the home of their dreams. If you’ve ever toured a house you’ve fallen in love with, you understand. Once you start to picture yourself and your furniture in the rooms, you want to do everything you can to land the property, including putting in a high offer to try to beat out other would-be buyers.

When the appraiser comes in, they look at things a bit more objectively. Their job is to assess the inherent value of the home, so they’re going to study the facts. Dustin Harris, Appraiser Coach, drives this point home:

It’s important for everyone to understand that the appraiser’s job in the end is to remain that unbiased third party, to truly tell the client what that home is worth in the current market, regardless of what decisions have been made on the price side of things.”

In simple terms, while homebuyers may be willing to pay more, appraisers are there to assess the market value of the home. Their goal is to make sure the lender isn’t loaning more money than the home is worth. It’s objective, rather than emotional.

In a highly competitive market like today’s, having a discrepancy between the two numbers isn’t unusual. Here’s a look at the increasing rate of appraisal gaps, according to data from  CoreLogic (see graph below):

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What does this mean for you?

Ultimately, knowledge is power. The best thing you can do is understand an appraisal gap may impact your transaction if you’re buying or selling. If you do encounter an appraisal below your contract price, know that in today’s sellers’ market, the most common approach is for the seller to ask the buyer to make up the difference in price. Buyers, be prepared to bring extra money to the table if you really want the home.

Above all else, lean on your real estate agent. Whether you’re a buyer or seller, your trusted advisor is your ally if you come up against an appraisal gap. We’ll help you understand your options and handle any additional negotiations that need to happen.

Bottom Line

In today’s real estate market, it’s important to stay informed on the latest trends. Work with a real estate professional to help you navigate an appraisal gap to get the best possible outcome.

5 Reasons Today’s Housing Market Is Anything but Normal

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There are many headlines out there that claim we’re reverting to a more normal real estate market. That would indicate the housing market is returning to the pre-pandemic numbers we saw from 2015-2019. But that’s not happening. The market is still extremely vibrant as demand is still strong even while housing supply is slowly returning.

Here’s the definition of normal from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary:

“conforming to a type, standard, or regular pattern: characterized by that which is considered usual, typical, or routine.

Using this definition, here are five housing industry metrics that prove we’re nowhere near normal.

1. Mortgage Rates

If we look at the 30-year mortgage rate chronicled by Freddie Mac, we can see the average rates by decade:

  • 1970s: 8.86%
  • 1980s: 12.7%
  • 1990s: 8.12%
  • 2000s: 6.29%
  • 2010s: 4.09%

Today, the average mortgage rate stands at 2.87%, which is very close to the historic low.

Currently, mortgage rates are anything but usual, typical, or routine.

 

2. Home Price Appreciation

According to Black Knight, a housing data and analytics company, the average annual appreciation on residential real estate prices since 1995 has been 4.14%.

According to the latest forecast from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), home price appreciation will hit 14.1% this year, which will be greater than any year since Black Knight began collecting this data.

Currently, home price appreciation is anything but usual, typical, or routine.

 

3. Months’ Supply of Inventory (Homes for Sale)

According to NAR:

“Months’ supply refers to the number of months it would take for the current inventory of homes on the market to sell given the current sales pace. Historically, six months of supply is associated with moderate price appreciation, and a lower level of months’ supply tends to push prices up more rapidly.”

As of the latest Existing Homes Sales Report from NAR, the current months’ supply of inventory stands at 2.6. That’s less than half of a normal supply.

Currently, the supply of homes for sale is anything but usual, typical, or routine.

 

4. Days It Takes To Sell a Home

The days-on-market metric gives an indication of how hot a market is and how quickly homes are selling. In 2019, prior to the pandemic, the average days on market stood at 35, according to NAR. Today, that number is cut in half and is now at 17 days.

Currently, the days-on-market metric is anything but usual, typical, or routine.

 

5. Number of Offers per Listing

According to NAR, the number of offers per listing stood at 2.2 in 2019. Today, that number is double at 4.5.

Currently, the number of offers per listing is anything but usual, typical, or routine.

 

Bottom Line

When…

  1. Mortgage rates are near historic lows
  2. Price appreciation is at historic highs
  3. Housing inventory is less than half of the normal amount
  4. The time it takes to sell a home is cut in half, and
  5. There are twice as many offers on each house

…it’s hard to say we’re in a normal market.

What You Can Do Right Now To Prepare for Homeownership

 

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As rent prices continue to soar, many renters want to know what they can do to get ready to buy their first home. According to recent data from ApartmentList.com:

The first half of 2021 has seen the fastest growth in rent prices since the start of our estimates in 2017. Our national rent index has increased by 11.4 percent since January . . . .”

Those rising rental costs may make it seem impossible to prepare for homeownership if you’re a renter. But the truth is, there are ways you can – and should – prepare to purchase your first home. Here’s some expert advice on what to do if you’re ready to learn more about how to escape rising rents.

Start Saving – Even Small Amounts – Now

Experts agree, setting aside what you can – even smaller amounts of money – into a dedicated savings account is a great starting point when it comes to saving for a down payment. As Cindy Zuniga-Sanchez, Founder of Zero-Based Budget Coaching LLCsays:

“I recommend saving for a home in a ‘sinking fund’ . . . . This is a savings account separate from your emergency fund that you use to save for a short or mid-term expense.

Zuniga-Sanchez adds saving in smaller increments can help make a large goal – such as saving for a down payment –achievable:

“Breaking up your goals into smaller bite-sized pieces by saving incrementally can make a large daunting number more manageable.”

Assess Your Finances and Work on Your Credit

Another tip experts recommend: take a look at your overall finances and credit score and find ways to reduce your debt. According to the HUD, the average credit score of first-time homebuyers is 716. If you’re not sure what your credit score is, there are numerous online tools that can help you check. If your score is below that average, don’t fret. Remember that an average means there are homeowners with credit scores both above and below that threshold.

If you find out your score is below the average, there are several ways to improve your credit before you apply for a loan. HUD recommends reducing your debt as much as you can, paying your bills on time, and using your credit card responsibly.

Start the Conversation with Your Advisor Today

Finally, it’s important to talk to someone who understands the market and what it takes to become a first-time homebuyer. That’s where we come in. A trusted advisor can help you navigate your specific market and talk you through all the available options. Having the right network of real estate and lending professionals in your corner can help you plan for the homebuying process as well as determine what you can afford and how you can get pre-approved when you’re ready.

Most importantly, we can help you understand how homeownership is achievable. As Lauren Bringle, Accredited Financial Advisor with Self Financial, says:

“Don’t write home ownership off just because you have a low income . . . . With the right tools, resources and assistance, you could still achieve your dream.”

Bottom Line

If you’re planning to be a homeowner one day, the best thing you can do is start preparing now. Even if you don’t think you’ll purchase for a few years, meeting with a trusted real estate advisor to understand the process will set you up for success on your journey to homeownership.

Waiting To Buy a Home Could Cost You [INFOGRAPHIC]

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Some Highlights

  • If you’re thinking of buying a home but wondering if waiting a few years will save you in the long run, think again.
  • The longer the wait, the more you’ll pay, especially when mortgage rates and home prices rise. Even the slightest change in the mortgage rate can have a big impact on your buying power no matter your price point.
  • Don’t assume waiting will save you money. Connect with your trusted real estate professional to set the ball into motion today while mortgage rates are hovering near historic lows.