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Winter Home Selling Checklist [INFOGRAPHIC]

Winter Home Selling Checklist [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Winter Home Selling Checklist [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Some Highlights

  • As you get ready to sell your house, focus on tasks that make it inviting, show it’s cared for, and boost your curb appeal.
  • This list will help you get started, but don’t forget, a real estate professional will provide other helpful tips based on your specific situation.
  • Let’s connect so you have advice on what you may want to do to get your house ready to sell this season.
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What You Want To Know If You’re Pursuing Your Dream of Homeownership

What You Want To Know If You’re Pursuing Your Dream of Homeownership | Simplifying The Market

If you’re a young adult, you may be thinking about your goals and priorities for the months and years ahead. And if homeownership ranks high on your goal sheet, you’re in good company. Many of your peers are also pursuing their dream of owning a home. The 2022 Millennial & Gen Z Borrower Sentiment Report from Maxwell says:

“Many young adults have demonstrated their resolve to embark on the journey toward homeownership soon. More than half of millennials and Gen Zs plan to apply for a mortgage sometime within the next year.”

Let’s take a look at why homeownership makes the top of so many young buyers’ to-do list and what you need to consider to achieve your goals if you’re one of them.

Top Motivators To Buy a Home

Before you start the homebuying process, it’s helpful to know why homeownership is so important to you. The survey mentioned above sheds light on some of the top reasons why younger generations are looking to buy a home. It finds:

No matter which of these resonates the most with you, know there are many financial and non-financial reasons why you may want to buy a home. While your top motivator may be different than that of your friends, they’re all equally valid and worthwhile.

Key Obstacles and How To Overcome Them

Whether your homeownership goals come from the heart or are driven by financial aspirations (or both), it can still be hard to know where to start when you’re looking to buy a home. From understanding the homebuying process, to getting pre-approved, and exploring down payment options, it’s a lot to wrap your head around.

The same Maxwell survey also reveals key challenges for potential buyers. Thankfully, the knowledge and guidance of a trusted real estate professional can help you overcome both. Here’s a look at two of the hurdles potential homebuyers say they face:

1. The Mortgage Process Can Be Intimidating

In the Maxwell study, 33.37% said one of their obstacles was that the mortgage process is confusing or difficult to understand.

An article by OwnUp helps explain why the mortgage process is so challenging for buyers:

“There is a general lack of knowledge about home financing. Mortgages are a complicated topic with no one-size-fits-all answer. It’s difficult to understand the space, let alone determine what the right course of action is based on your unique financial picture.

While you may be tempted to do a quick search online to find instant answers to your questions, it may not get you the information you need to understand the full picture. Especially when it comes to financial advice, you want to lean on a true expert. Having trusted professionals on your side can help you to learn what it takes to achieve your dream of homeownership. Not to mention, an expert can give you advice specific to your situation, not generic advice like you’ll find online.

2. It’s Hard To Know How Much You Need To Save

In the Maxwell study, 45.75% believe they don’t have enough saved to cover their down payment or closing cost expenses.

What you may not realize is that, today, there’s a growing number of down payment assistance programs available nationwide to help relieve this pressure. A report from Down Payment Resource says:

“Our Q3 2022 HPI report revealed a 1.6% uptick in the number of homebuyer assistance programs available to help people finance homes, raising the number of programs to 2,309, a net increase of 36 over the previous quarter.”

Additionally, as the housing market cools, buyers are regaining some negotiation power and more sellers are willing to work with buyers to help with closing costs.  Understanding what’s out there and the options available may help you achieve your dream of homeownership faster than you thought possible.

Bottom Line

If you’re serious about becoming a homeowner, know it may be more in reach than you think. Lean on trusted professionals to help you overcome challenges and prioritize your next steps.

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Why There Won’t Be a Flood of Foreclosures Coming to the Housing Market

Why There Won’t Be a Flood of Foreclosures Coming to the Housing Market | Simplifying The Market

With the rapid shift that’s happened in the housing market this year, some people are raising concerns that we’re destined for a repeat of the crash we saw in 2008. But in truth, there are many key differences between what’s happening today and the bubble in the early 2000s.

One of the reasons this isn’t like the last time is the number of foreclosures in the market is much lower now. Here’s a look at why there won’t be a wave of foreclosures flooding the market.

Not as Many Homeowners Are in Trouble This Time

After the last housing crash, over nine million households lost their homes due to a foreclosure, short sale, or because they gave it back to the bank. This was, in large part, because of more relaxed lending standards where people could take out mortgages they ultimately couldn’t afford. Those lending practices led to a wave of distressed properties which made their way into the market and caused home values to plummet.

But today, revised lending standards have led to more qualified buyers. As a result, there are fewer homeowners who are behind on their mortgages. As Marina Walsh, Vice President of Industry Analysis at the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), says:

For the second quarter in a row, the mortgage delinquency rate fell to its lowest level since MBA’s survey began in 1979 – declining to 3.45%. Foreclosure starts and loans in the process of foreclosure also dropped in the third quarter to levels further below their historical averages.”

There Have Been Fewer Foreclosures over the Last Two Years

While you may have seen recent stories about the number of foreclosures rising today, context is important. During the pandemic, many homeowners were able to pause their mortgage payments using the forbearance program. The program gave homeowners facing difficulties extra time to get their finances in order and, in many cases, work out a plan with their lender.

With that program, many were concerned it would result in a wave of foreclosures coming to the market. That fear didn’t materialize. Data from the New York Fed shows there are still fewer foreclosures happening today than before the pandemic (see graph below):

Why There Won’t Be a Flood of Foreclosures Coming to the Housing Market | Simplifying The Market

That means, while there are more foreclosures now compared to last year (when foreclosures were paused), the number is still well below what the housing market has seen in a more typical year, like 2017-2019.

And most importantly, the number we’re seeing now is still far below the number we saw during the market crash (shown in the red bars in the graph). The big takeaway? Don’t let a headline in the news mislead you. While foreclosures are up year-over-year, historical context is essential to understanding the full picture.

Most Homeowners Have More Than Enough Equity To Sell Their Homes

Many homeowners today have enough equity to sell their homes instead of facing foreclosure. Due to rapidly rising home prices over the last two years, the average homeowner has gained record amounts of equity in their home. And if they’ve stayed in their homes even longer, they may have even more equity than they realize. As Ksenia Potapov, Economist at First American, says:

Homeowners have very high levels of tappable home equity today, providing a cushion to withstand potential price declines, but also preventing housing distress from turning into a foreclosure. . . the result will likely be more of a foreclosure ‘trickle’ than a ‘tsunami.’”

A recent report from ATTOM Data explains it by going even deeper into the numbers:

“Only about 214,800 homeowners were facing possible foreclosure in the second quarter of 2022, or just four-tenths of one percent of the 58.2 million outstanding mortgages in the U.S. Of those facing foreclosure, about 195,400, or 91 percent, had at least some equity built up in their homes.”

Bottom Line

If you see headlines about the increasing number of foreclosures today, remember context is important. While it’s true the number of foreclosures is higher now than it was last year, foreclosures are still well below pre-pandemic years. If you have questions, let’s connect.

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3 Ways You Can Use Your Home Equity

3 Ways You Can Use Your Home Equity | Simplifying The Market

If you’re a homeowner, odds are your equity has grown significantly over the last few years as home prices skyrocketed and you made your monthly mortgage payments. Home equity builds over time and can help you achieve certain goals. According to the latest Equity Insights Report from CoreLogic, the average borrower with a home loan has almost $300,000 in equity right now.

As you weigh your options, especially in the face of inflation and talk of a recession, it’s important to understand your assets and how you can leverage them. A real estate professional is the best resource to help you understand how much home equity you have and advise you on some of the ways you can use it.  Here are a few examples.

1. Buy a Home That Fits Your Needs

 If you no longer have the space you need, it might be time to move into a larger home. Or it’s possible you have too much space and need something smaller. No matter the situation, consider using your equity to power a move into a home that fits your changing lifestyle. 

If you want to upgrade your house, you can put your equity toward a down payment on the home of your dreams. And if you’re planning to downsize, you may be surprised that your equity may cover some, if not all, of the cost of your next home. A real estate advisor can help you figure out how much equity you have and how you can use it toward the purchase of your next home.

2. Reinvest in Your Current House

According to a recent survey from Point, 39% of homeowners would invest in home improvement projects if they chose to access their equity. This is a great option if you want to change some things about your living space but you aren’t ready to make a move just yet.

Home improvement projects allow you to customize your home to suit your needs and sense of style. Just remember to think ahead with any updates you make, as some renovations add more value to your home and are more likely to appeal to future buyers than others. For example, a report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows refinishing or replacing wood flooring has a high cost recovery. Lean on a local professional for the best advice on which projects to invest in to get the greatest return on your investment when you sell.

3. Pursue Your Personal Goals

In addition to making a move or updating your house, home equity can also help you achieve the life goals you’ve dreamed of. That could mean investing in a new business venture, retiring or downsizing, or funding an education. While you shouldn’t use your equity for unnecessary spending, leveraging it to start a business or putting it toward education costs can help you achieve other lifelong goals.

Bottom Line

Your equity can be a game changer. If you’re unsure how much equity you have in your home, let’s connect so you can start planning your next move.

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Your House Could Be the #1 Item on a Homebuyer’s Wish List During the Holidays

Your House Could Be the #1 Item on a Homebuyer’s Wish List During the Holidays | Simplifying The Market

Each year, homeowners planning to make a move are faced with a decision: sell their house during the holidays or wait. And others who have already listed their homes may think about removing their listings and waiting until the new year to go back on the market.

The truth is many buyers want to purchase a home for the holidays, and your house might be just what they’re looking for. Here are five great reasons you shouldn’t wait to sell your house.

1. While the supply of homes for sale has increased this year, there still aren’t enough homes on the market to keep up with buyer demand. As Nadia Evangelou, Senior Economist & Director of Forecasting at the National Association of Realtors (NAR), explains:

“There’s still this gap between demand and supply because we were underbuilding for many years. . . . So now we see demand is slowing, but it still outpaces supply.”

2. Serious homebuyers are out looking right now. Millennials are driving homebuying demand today, and many are eager to make a purchase. Mark Fleming, Chief Economist at First American, explains:

“While not the frenzy of 2021, the largest living generation, the Millennials, will continue to age into their prime home-buying years, creating a demographic tailwind for the housing market.”

3. The desire to own a home doesn’t stop during the holidays. In fact, homes decorated for the holidays appeal to many buyers. Plus, purchasers who look for homes during the holidays are ready to buy.

4. You can restrict the showings in your house to days and times that are most convenient for you. That can help you minimize disruptions, which is especially important this time of year.

5. Rents have skyrocketed in recent years. And, many buyers are looking to escape rising rents and avoid falling into the rental trap for another year. As an article from Zillow says:

“Over the next 12 months, rents are expected to grow more than inflation, the stock market and home values.”

Your home could be their ticket to leaving renting behind for good.

Bottom Line

There are still many reasons it makes sense to list your house during the holiday season. Let’s connect to determine if selling now is your best move.

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Home Sweet Home: The Emotional Benefits of Homeownership [INFOGRAPHIC]

Home Sweet Home: The Emotional Benefits of Homeownership [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Home Sweet Home: The Emotional Benefits of Homeownership [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Some Highlights

  • While there are many financial perks to owning a home, there are also powerful non-financial benefits to consider if you’re thinking about making a move.
  • Homeownership allows you to express yourself, gives you greater privacy and comfort, enhances your connection to your community and loved ones, and is an achievement to feel proud of.
  • Let’s connect today to discuss all that homeownership has to offer.
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What Buyers Need To Know About the Inventory of Homes Available for Sale

What Buyers Need To Know About the Inventory of Homes Available for Sale | Simplifying The Market

If you’re thinking about buying a home, you’re likely trying to juggle your needs, current mortgage rates, home prices, your schedule, and more to try to decide if you want to jump into the market.

If this sounds like you, here’s one key factor that could help you with your decision: there are more homes for sale today than there were at this time last year. According to Calculated Risk, for the week ending in November 18th, there were 47.7% more homes available for sale than there were at the same time in 2021. And having more options for your home search may be exactly what you need to feel confident about making a move.

Here’s a look at where the increased housing supply is coming from so you can get a better sense of what’s happening in the market today and what it means for you.

What Caused the Growth in Housing Inventory This Year?

The increase we’ve seen in housing supply this year isn’t from the source you think it is. Rather than an influx of recent homeowners listing their houses for sale (known as new listings), the primary reason the supply has grown is because homes are staying on the market a bit longer (known as active listings).

That’s happening because higher mortgage rates and home prices have helped moderate the peak frenzy of buyer demand, which has slowed down the pace of sales. And, as the pace of sales has eased, inventory has grown as a result.

The graph below uses data from realtor.com to show that it’s active listings, not new listings, that have driven the growth we’ve seen over the past few months:

What Buyers Need To Know About the Inventory of Homes Available for Sale | Simplifying The Market

And while overall inventory gains may slow down this winter due to typical housing market seasonality, you still have a chance to capitalize on the current supply.

What This Means for Your Home Search

Regardless of the source, the increase in available housing supply is good for buyers. More homes available for sale means you have more options to choose from as you search for your next home, and you may even have more time to consider them.

So, if you tried to buy a home last year and lost out in a bidding war or just couldn’t find something you liked, this may be the news you’ve been waiting for. If you start your search today, those additional options should make it less difficult to find a home you love, especially as some other buyers pause their search this holiday season.

Just remember, housing supply is still low overall, so it won’t suddenly be easy – it’ll just be less challenging than it was at this time last year. As a recent article from realtor.com says:

“Despite this improvement in the number of homes actively for sale, active listings still lag their pre-pandemic levels.”

The increase in housing supply helps put you in a great position to kick off the new year in your dream home. And who better to help you find it than a trusted, local real estate professional?

Bottom Line

If you’re ready to jump into the housing market and see what’s available in our local area, let’s connect.

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What Homeowners Want To Know About Selling in Today’s Market

What Homeowners Want To Know About Selling in Today’s Market | Simplifying The Market

If you’re thinking about selling your house, you’re likely hearing about the cooling housing market and wondering what that means for you. While it’s not the peak intensity we saw during the pandemic, we’re still in a sellers’ market. That means you haven’t missed your window. Realtor.com explains:

“. . . while prospective home sellers may lament that they missed their prime window, in reality, this is still a terrific time to sell. In fact, according to a recent Realtor.com® home seller survey, 95% of sellers who sold their home in the past year got more than they paid for it.

Nonetheless, some of the more prominent pandemic trends have changed, so sellers might wish to adjust accordingly to get the best deal possible.”

The key to success today is being realistic and working with a trusted real estate advisor who can help you set your expectations based on where the market is now, not where it was over the past few years.

Here are a few things experts say today’s sellers need to consider.

Be Willing To Negotiate

At the peak of the pandemic frenzy, sellers held all the leverage because inventory was at record lows and buyers were willing to enter bidding wars over homes that were available. This year, the supply of homes for sale has increased as the market cooled. Even though inventory is still low overall, buyers today have more options, and with that comes more negotiation power.

As a seller, that means you may see more buyers getting an inspection, requesting repairs, or asking for help with closing costs today. You need to be prepared to have those conversations. As Ali Wolf, Chief Economist at Zonda, says:

“Today’s market is different than it was just six months ago. . . Sellers that want the contract to move forward should be willing to work with the buyer. . . Consider helping with the closing costs or addressing many of the items on the home inspection list.”

Price Your Home at Market Value

It’s not just that the number of homes for sale has grown this year. Buyer demand has also pulled back in light of higher mortgage rates. As a result, pricing your house appropriately so you can catch the eyes of serious buyers is important. Greg McBride, Chief Financial Analyst at Bankrate, explains:

Price your home realistically. This isn’t the housing market of April or May, so buyer traffic will be substantially slower, but appropriately priced homes are still selling quickly.”

You don’t want to overreach with your price and deter buyers. At the same time, you don’t want to undervalue your home and leave money on the table. This is another area where an agent’s expertise comes in handy.

Think About Your First Impression on Buyers

Buyers have more options and are more particular about their investment since it costs more to buy a home given today’s mortgage rates. As a result, you need to make sure your house shows well. As an article from realtor.com says:

To stand out in the market, sellers should make their home attractive to buyers, which usually means some selective updates.”

This could include everything from staging the home, to making small cosmetic updates, tackling repairs, or undergoing renovations. A trusted real estate professional will help you assess what may be worthwhile to do compared to other recently sold homes in your area.

Bottom Line

To sum it all up, your house should still sell today and move quickly if you’re realistic about today’s market. As a press release from Zillow puts it:

. . . sellers need to do things right to attract the attention of these buyers — pricing their home competitively and making their listing attractive to online home shoppers.”

For expert advice on how to quickly sell your house in a shifting market, let’s connect.

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Mortgage Rates Will Come Down, It’s Just a Matter of Time

Mortgage Rates Will Come Down, It’s Just a Matter of Time | Simplifying The Market

This past year, rising mortgage rates have slowed the red-hot housing market. Over the past nine months, we’ve seen fewer homes sold than the previous month as home price growth has slowed. All of this is due to the fact that the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate has doubled this year, severely limiting homebuying power for consumers. And, this month, the average rate for financing a home briefly rose over 7% before coming back down into the high 6% range. But we’re starting to see a hint of what mortgage interest rates could look like next year.

Inflation Is the Enemy of Long-Term Interest Rates

As long as inflation is high, we’ll see higher mortgage rates. Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve seen indications that inflation may be cooling, giving us a glimpse into what may happen in the future. The mortgage market is eagerly awaiting positive news on inflation. As Ali Wolf, Chief Economist at Zonda, says:

The housing market is expected to face continued uncertainty heading into 2023 as consumers, financial markets, and policymakers work through their respective challenges in today’s economy. . . . we are watching for any additional stability in the MBS market, signs of cooling inflation, and/or less aggressive Federal Reserve action to give us confidence that mortgage rates are past their peak.”

What Does This Mean for the Future of Mortgage Rates?

As we get through the inflation battle and start to see that coming down, we should expect mortgage rates to follow. We’ve seen nods of this over the past couple of weeks. As the Federal Reserve works to bring inflation down, mortgage rates will come down as well. Bill McBride from Calculated Risk says:

My current view is inflation will ease quicker than the Fed currently expects.”

As we look toward next year, we certainly hope he’s right.

Bottom Line

Mortgage rates will come down – it’s just a matter of time. The hope is we continue to see more positive news on inflation, and that’ll bring mortgage rates down. This will give prospective homebuyers more buying power and lead to more homeowners throughout the country.