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Category Archives: Real Estate

Homeowners Today Have Options To Avoid Foreclosure

Even with the latest data coming in, the experts agree there’s no chance of a large-scale foreclosure crisis like the one we saw back in 2008. While headlines may be calling attention to a slight uptick in foreclosure filings recently, the bigger picture is that we’re still well below the number we’d see in a more normal year for the housing market. As a report from BlackKnight explains:

“The prospect of any kind of near-term surge in foreclosure activity remains low, with start volumes still nearly 40% below pre-pandemic levels.”

That’s good news. It means the number of homeowners at risk is very low compared to the norm.

But, there’s a small percentage who may be coming face to face with foreclosure as a possibility. That’s because some homeowners may have an unexpected hardship in their life, which unfortunately can happen in any market.

For those homeowners, there are still options that could help them avoid having to go through the foreclosure process. If you’re facing difficulties yourself, an article from Bankrate breaks down some things to explore:

  • Look into Forbearance Programs: If you have a loan from Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, you may be able to apply for this type of program. 
  • Ask for a loan modification: Your lender may be willing to adjust your loan terms to help bring down your monthly payment to something more achievable.
  • Get a repayment plan in place: A lender may be able to set up a deferral or a payment plan if you’re not in a place where you’re able to make your payment.

And there’s something else you may want to consider. That’s whether you have enough equity in your home to sell it and protect your investment.

You May Be Able To Use Your Equity To Sell Your House

In today’s real estate market, many homeowners have far more equity in their homes than they realize due to the rapid home price appreciation we’ve seen over the past few years. That means, if you’ve lived in your house for a while, chances are your home’s value has gone up. Plus, the mortgage payments you’ve made during that time have chipped away at the balance of your loan. That combo may have given your equity a boost. And if your home’s current value is higher than what you still owe on your loan, you may be able to use that increase to your advantage. Freddie Mac explains how this can help:

“If you have enough equity, you can use the proceeds from the sale of your home to pay off your remaining mortgage debt, including any missed mortgage payments or other debts secured by your home.”  

Lean on Experts To Explore Your Options

To find out how much equity you have, partner with a local real estate agent. They can give you an estimate of what your house could sell for based on recent sales of similar homes in your area. You may be able to sell your house to avoid foreclosure.

Bottom Line

If you’re a homeowner facing hardship, lean on a real estate professional to explore your options or see if you can sell your house to avoid foreclosure.

Category Archives: Real Estate

4 Tips To Make Your Strongest Offer on a Home

Are you thinking about buying a home soon? If so, you should know today’s market is competitive in many areas because the number of homes for sale is still low – and that’s leading to multiple-offer scenarios. And moving into the peak homebuying season this spring, this is only expected to ramp up more.

Remember these four tips to make your best offer.

1. Partner with a Real Estate Agent

Rely on a real estate agent who can support your goals. As PODS notes:

“Making an offer on a home without an agent is certainly possible, but having a pro by your side gives you a massive advantage in figuring out what to offer on a house.”

Agents are local market experts. They know what’s worked for other buyers in your area and what sellers may be looking for. That advice can be game changing when you’re deciding what offer to bring to the table.

2. Understand Your Budget

Knowing your numbers is even more important right now. The best way to understand your budget is to work with a lender so you can get pre-approved for a home loan. Doing so helps you be more financially confident and shows sellers you’re serious. That gives you a competitive edge. As Investopedia says:

“. . . sellers have an advantage because of intense buyer demand and a limited number of homes for sale; they may be less likely to consider offers without pre-approval letters.”

3. Make a Strong, but Fair Offer

It’s only natural to want the best deal you can get on a home, especially when affordability is tight. However, submitting an offer that’s too low does have some risks. You don’t want to make an offer that’ll be tossed out as soon as it’s received just to see if it sticks. As Realtor.com explains:

“. . . an offer price that’s significantly lower than the listing price, is often rejected by sellers who feel insulted . . . Most listing agents try to get their sellers to at least enter negotiations with buyers, to counteroffer with a number a little closer to the list price. However, if a seller is offended by a buyer or isn’t taking the buyer seriously, there’s not much you, or the real estate agent, can do.”

The expertise your agent brings to this part of the process will help you stay competitive and find a price that’s fair to you and the seller.

4. Trust Your Agent During Negotiations

After you submit your offer, the seller may decide to counter it. When negotiating, it’s smart to understand what matters to the seller. Once you do, being as flexible as you can on things like moving dates or the condition of the house can make your offer more attractive.

Your real estate agent is your partner in navigating these details. Trust them to lead you through negotiations and help you figure out the best plan. As an article from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) explains:

“There are many factors up for discussion in any real estate transaction—from price to repairs to possession date. A real estate professional who’s representing you will look at the transaction from your perspective, helping you negotiate a purchase agreement that meets your needs . . .” 

Bottom Line

In today’s competitive market, let’s work together to find you a home you love and craft a strong offer that stands out. 

Category Archives: Real Estate

Why Today’s Seller’s Market Is Good for Your Bottom Line

Thinking about selling your house and wondering if now’s a good time to do it? Here’s what you need to know. Even though the number of homes for sale has been growing this year, there still aren’t enough homes on the market for all the buyers who want to buy.

So, what does that mean for you? To keep it simple, it means it’s still a seller’s market. Here’s how it works:

  • neutral market is when supply and demand is balanced. Basically, there are enough homes to meet buyer demand based on the current sales pace, and home prices hold fairly steady.
  • buyer’s market is when there are more homes for sale than there are buyers. When that happens, buyers have more negotiation power because sellers are willing to make compromises to close the deal. In a buyer’s market, sellers may have to do price cuts to re-ignite interest in their home, and prices may go down. But we haven’t seen this for years since there are so few homes available to buy.
  • In a seller’s market, it’s just the opposite. When the supply of homes for sale is as low as it is right now, it’s much harder for buyers to find homes to purchase. That creates increased competition among purchasers which can lead to more bidding wars. And if buyers know they may be entering a bidding war, they’re going to do their best to submit a very attractive offer upfront. This could drive the final sale price of your house up.

The graph below uses data from the National Association of Realtors to show just how deep into seller’s market territory we still are today:

a screenshot of a chart

What Does This Mean for You?

The market is still working in your favor. If you lean on an agent for advice on how to get your house list ready and how to price it competitively, it should get a lot of attention from eager buyers. That means you’ll likely get multiple offers and see your house sell quickly and for top dollar. As a recent article from Ramsey Solutions explains:

A seller’s market is when demand for homes is higher than the supply of homes. And that’s still the case right now. If you’re planning to sell your house, you can expect to sell it fairly quickly for close to your asking price—as long as your asking price is realistic for the current market.”

Bottom Line

Today’s housing market still favors sellers. If you’re ready to sell your house, let’s connect so you can start making your moves.

Category Archives: Real Estate

Your Home Is a Powerful Investment

Going into 2023, there was a lot of talk about a possible recession that would cause the housing market to crash. Some in the media were even forecasting home prices would drop by as much as 10-20%—and that might have made you feel a bit unsure about buying a home.

But here’s what actually happened: home prices went up more than usual. Brian D. Luke, Head of Commodities at S&P Dow Jones Indicesexplains:

“Looking back at the year, 2023 appears to have exceeded average annual home price gains over the past 35 years.”

To put last year’s growth into context, the graph below uses data from Freddie Mac on how home prices have changed each year going back to 1980. The dotted line shows the long-term average for appreciation:

a graph showing the average of a home appreciation

The big takeaway? Home prices almost always go up.

As an article from Forbes says:

“. . . the U.S. real estate market has a long and reliable history of increasing in value over time.”

In fact, since 1980, the only time home prices dropped was during the housing market crash (shown in red in the graph above). Fortunately, the market today isn’t like it was in 2008. For starters, there aren’t enough available homes to meet buyer demand right now. On top of that, homeowners have a tremendous amount of equity, so they’re on much stronger footing than they were back then. That means there won’t be a wave of foreclosures that causes prices to fall.

The fact that home values went up every single year except those four in red is why owning a home can be one of the smartest moves you can make. When you’re a homeowner, you own something that typically becomes more valuable over time. And as your home’s value appreciates, your net worth grows

So, if you’re financially stable and prepared for the costs and expenses of homeownership, buying a home might make a lot of sense for you.

Bottom Line

Home prices almost always go up over time. That makes buying a home a smart move, if you’re ready and able. Let’s connect to talk about your goals and what’s available in our area.

Category Archives: Real Estate

What Mortgage Rate Do You Need To Move?

If you’ve been thinking about buying a home, mortgage rates are probably top of mind for you. They may even be why you’ve put your plans on hold for now. When rates climbed near 8% last year, some buyers found the numbers just didn’t make sense for their budget anymore. That may be the case for you too.

Data from Bright MLS shows the top reason buyers delayed their plans to move is due to high mortgage rates (see graph below):

a graph of blue rectangles with text

David Childers, CEO at Keeping Current Matters, speaks to this statistic in the recent How’s The Market podcast:

“Three quarters of buyers said ‘we’re out’ due to mortgage rates. Here’s what I know going forward. That will change in 2024.”

That’s because mortgage rates have come down off their peak last October. And while there’s still day-to-day volatility in rates, the longer-term projections show rates should continue to drop this year, as long as inflation gets under control. Experts even say we could see rates below 6% by the end of 2024. And that threshold would be a gamechanger for a lot of buyers. As a recent article from Realtor.com says:

Buying a home is still desired and sought after, but many people are looking for mortgage rates to come down in order to achieve it. Four out of 10 Americans looking to buy a home in the next 12 months would consider it possible if rates drop below 6%.”

While mortgage rates are nearly impossible to forecast, the optimism from the experts should give you insight into what’s ahead. If your plans were delayed, there’s light at the end of the tunnel again. That means it may be time to start thinking about your move. The best question you can ask yourself right now, is this:

What number do I want to see rates hit before I’m ready to move?

The exact percentage where you feel comfortable kicking off your search again is personal. Maybe it’s 6.5%. Maybe it’s 6.25%. Or maybe it’s once they drop below 6%.

Once you have that number in mind, here’s what you do. Connect with a local real estate professional. They’ll help you stay informed on what’s happening. And when rates hit your target, they’ll be the first to let you know. 

Bottom Line

If you’ve put your plans to move on hold because of where mortgage rates are, think about the number you want to see rates hit that would make you ready to re-enter the market.

Once you have that number in mind, let’s connect so you have someone on your side to let you know when we get there.

Category Archives: Real Estate

Finding Your Perfect Home in a Fixer Upper

If you’re trying to buy a home and are having a hard time finding one you can afford, it may be time to consider a fixer-upper. That’s a house that needs a little elbow grease or some updates, but has good bones. Fixer-uppers can be a really great option if you’re looking to break into the housing market or want to stretch your budget further. According to NerdWallet:

“Buying a fixer-upper can provide a path to homeownership for first-time home buyers or a way for repeat buyers to afford a larger home or a better neighborhood. With the relatively low inventory of homes for sale these days, a move-in ready home can be hard to find, especially if you’re on a budget.”

Basically, since the number of homes for sale is still so low, if you’re only willing to tour homes that have all your dream features, you may be cutting down your options too much and making it harder on yourself than necessary. It may be time to cast a wider net.

Sometimes the perfect home is the one you perfect after buying it.

Here’s some information that can help you pinpoint what you truly need so you can be strategic in your home search. First, make a list of all the features you want in a home. From there, work to break those features into categories like this:

  • Must-Haves – If a house doesn’t have these features, it won’t work for you and your lifestyle.
  • Nice-To-Haves – These are features you’d love to have but can live without. Nice-to-haves aren’t dealbreakers, but if you find a home that hits all the must-haves and some of these, it’s a contender.
  • Dream State – This is where you can really think big. Again, these aren’t features you’ll need, but if you find a home in your budget that has all the must-haves, most of the nice-to-haves, and any of these, it’s a clear winner.

Once you’ve sorted your list in a way that works for you, share it with your real estate agent. They’ll help you find homes that deliver on your top needs right now and have the potential to be your dream home with a little bit of sweat equity. Lean on their expertise as you think through what’s possible, what features are easy to change or add, and how to make it happen. According to Progressive:

“Many real estate agents specialize in finding fixer-uppers and have a network of inspectors, contractors, electricians, and the like.”

Your agent can also offer advice on which upgrades and renovations will set you up to get the greatest return on your investment if you ever decide to sell down the line.

Bottom Line

If you haven’t found a home you love that’s in your budget, it may be worth thinking through all your options, including fixer-uppers. Sometimes the perfect home for you is the one you perfect after buying it. To see what’s available in our area, let’s connect.

Category Archives: Real Estate

The Benefits of Downsizing When You Retire

If you’re taking a look at your expenses as you retire, saving money where you can has a lot of appeal. One long-standing, popular way to do that is by downsizing to a smaller home.

When you think about cutting down on your spending, odds are you think of frequent purchases, like groceries and other goods. But when you downsize your house, you often end up downsizing the bills that come with it, like your mortgage payment, energy costs, and maintenance requirements. Realtor.com shares:

“A smaller home typically means lower bills and less upkeep. Then there’s the potential windfall that comes from selling your larger home and buying something smaller.”

That windfall is thanks to your home equity. If you’ve been in your house for a while, odds are you’ve built up a considerable amount of equity. And that equity is something you can use to help you buy a home that better fits your needs today. Daniel Hunt, CFA at Morgan Stanleyexplains:

Home equity can be a significant source of wealth for retirees, often representing a large portion of their net worth. . . . Retirement planning can be complex, but your home equity shouldn’t be overlooked.”

And when you’re ready to use that equity to fuel your next move, your real estate agent will be your guide through every step of the process. That includes setting the right price for your current house when you sell, finding the home that best fits your evolving needs, and understanding what you can afford at today’s mortgage rate.

What This Means for You

If you’re thinking about downsizing, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do the original reasons I bought my current house still stand, or have my needs changed since then?
  • Do I really need and want the space I have right now, or could somewhere smaller be a better fit?
  • What are my housing expenses right now, and how much do I want to try to save by downsizing?

Then, meet with a real estate agent to get an answer to this one: What are my options in the market right now? A local real estate agent can walk you through how much equity you have in your house and how it positions you to win when you downsize.

Bottom Line

Want to save money in retirement? Consider downsizing – it could really help you out. When you’re ready, let’s connect about your goals in the housing market this year.

Category Archives: Real Estate

Why Access Is So Important When Selling Your House

If you’re gearing up to sell your house this spring, one of the early conversations you’ll have with your agent is about how much access you want to give buyers. And you may not realize just how important it is to make your house easy to tour.

Spring is the peak homebuying season, so opening up your house to as many showings as possible can really help you capitalize on all the extra buyer activity we see at this time of year.

Since buyer competition ramps up in the spring, buyers are going to want to move fast to see your house once they find your listing. And, if they see it and fall in love with it at a time they know they’re competing with other buyers, you may be more likely to get the offer you’re looking for on your home.

It’s understandable you want to keep the disruptions to your own schedule to a minimum, and you may be stressed about having to keep it clean, but it’s worth it. As an article from Investopedia explains:

If someone wants to view your house, you need to accommodate them, even if it inconveniences you. Clean and tidy the house before every single visit. A buyer won’t know or care if your house was clean last week. It’s a lot of work, but stay focused on the prize.”

To figure out what’s best for you, your agent will walk you through options like the ones below. This list breaks things down, starting with what’s most convenient for buyers and getting less buyer-focused as the list goes on:

  • Lockbox on the Door – A key is available via a lockbox, which makes it easy for agents to show the home to potential buyers. This gives the most flexibility because the key is on-site and convenient.
  • Providing a Key to the Home – An agent would have to stop by an office to pick up the key with this option. This is still pretty convenient for showings, but not quite as simple.
  • Open Access with a Phone Call – You allow a showing with just a phone call’s notice, which can be great for someone who sees your house while driving by.
  • By Appointment Only – This gives you a more advanced warning so you can get the house tidied up and be sure you have somewhere else you can go in the meantime. But it’s also a bit more restrictive.
  • Limited Access – You might go this route if you only want to have your house available on specific days or at certain times of day. But realize this is the most difficult and least flexible of the choices.

As an article from U.S. News Real Estate says:

“Buyers like to see homes on their schedule, which often means evenings and weekends. Plus, they want to be able to tour a home soon after they find it online, especially if they’re competing with other buyers. If your home can be shown with little or no notice, more prospective buyers will see it. If you require 24 hours’ notice, they may choose to skip your home altogether.”

Your agent is going to help you find the right path forward based on your schedule and what’s working for other sellers in your area. And if you’ve got a hardline on granting buyers more access or have interested out of town buyers that just can’t be there in person, your agent will get creative and help you explore other options like video tours, virtual showings, and more.

Bottom Line

When it comes to selling your house, you want to be sure to get as much buyer activity as you can. Let’s connect to talk about which level of access helps make that possible.

Category Archives: Real Estate

Why There Won’t Be a Recession That Tanks the Housing Market

There’s been a lot of recession talk over the past couple of years. And that may leave you worried we’re headed for a repeat of what we saw back in 2008. Here’s a look at the latest expert projections to show you why that isn’t going to happen.  

According to Jacob Channel, Senior Economist at LendingTree, the economy’s pretty strong:

“At least right now, the fundamentals of the economy, despite some hiccups, are doing pretty good. While things are far from perfect, the economy is probably doing better than people want to give it credit for.”

That might be why a recent survey from the Wall Street Journal shows only 39% of economists think there’ll be a recession in the next year. That’s way down from 61% projecting a recession just one year ago (see graph below):

a graph of the economic growth of the economy

Most experts believe there won’t be a recession in the next 12 months. One reason why is the current unemployment rate. Let’s compare where we are now with historical data from Macrotrends, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), and Trading Economics. When we do, it’s clear the unemployment rate today is still very low (see graph below):

a graph of a graph showing the number of employment rate

The orange bar shows the average unemployment rate since 1948 is about 5.7%. The red bar shows that right after the financial crisis in 2008, when the housing market crashed, the unemployment rate was up to 8.3%. Both of those numbers are much larger than the unemployment rate this January (shown in blue).

But will the unemployment rate go up? To answer that, look at the graph below. It uses data from that same Wall Street Journal survey to show what the experts are projecting for unemployment over the next three years compared to the long-term average (see graph below):

a graph of blue bars

As you can see, economists don’t expect the unemployment rate to even come close to the long-term average over the next three years – much less the 8.3% we saw when the market last crashed.

Still, if these projections are correct, there will be people who lose their jobs next year. Anytime someone’s out of work, that’s a tough situation, not just for the individual, but also for their friends and loved ones. But the big question is: will enough people lose their jobs to create a flood of foreclosures that could crash the housing market?

Looking ahead, projections show the unemployment rate will likely stay below the 75-year average. That means you shouldn’t expect a wave of foreclosures that would impact the housing market in a big way.

Bottom Line

Most experts now think we won’t have a recession in the next year. They also don’t expect a big jump in the unemployment rate. That means you don’t need to fear a flood of foreclosures that would cause the housing market to crash.

Category Archives: Real Estate

What To Know About Credit Scores Before Buying a Home

If you want to buy a home, you should know your credit score is a critical piece of the puzzle when it comes to qualifying for a mortgage. Lenders review your credit to see if you typically make payments on time, pay back debts, and more. Your credit score can also help determine your mortgage rate. An article from US Bank explains:

“A credit score isn’t the only deciding factor on your mortgage application, but it’s a significant one. So, when you’re house shopping, it’s important to know where your credit stands and how to use it to get the best mortgage rate possible.”

That means your credit score may feel even more important to your homebuying plans right now since mortgage rates are a key factor in affordability. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the median credit score in the U.S. for those taking out a mortgage is 770. But that doesn’t mean your credit score has to be perfect. The same article from US Bank explains:

“Your credit score (commonly called a FICO Score) can range from 300 at the low end to 850 at the high end. A score of 740 or above is generally considered very good, but you don’t need that score or above to buy a home.”

Working with a trusted lender is the best way to get more information on how your credit score could factor into your home loan and the mortgage rate you’re able to get. As FICO says:

“While many lenders use credit scores like FICO Scores to help them make lending decisions, each lender has its own strategy, including the level of risk it finds acceptable. There is no single “cutoff score” used by all lenders and there are many additional factors that lenders may use to determine your actual interest rates.”

If you’re looking for ways to improve your score, Experian highlights some things you may want to focus on:

  • Your Payment History: Late payments can have a negative impact by dropping your score. Focus on making payments on time and paying any existing late charges quickly.
  • Your Debt Amount (relative to your credit limits): When it comes to your available credit amount, the less you’re using, the better. Focus on keeping this number as low as possible.
  • Credit Applications: If you’re looking to buy something, don’t apply for additional credit. When you apply for new credit, it could result in a hard inquiry on your credit that drops your score.

Bottom Line

Finding ways to make your credit score better could help you get a lower mortgage rate. If you want to learn more, talk to a trusted lender.

Copyright © 2024 Gary Evans – Your Home Sold GUARANTEED or I'll Buy It*