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Why You Should Consider Condos as Part of Your Home Search

Why You Should Consider Condos as Part of Your Home Search | Simplifying The Market

The historically low inventory over the past few years led to challenges for many buyers trying to find a home that met their needs and their budget. If you’re in the same boat, you should know the recent shift in the housing market may have opened up doors for you to restart your search.

The inventory of homes for sale has increased this year, and that’s giving buyers much needed options. As Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at realtor.com, says:

“. . . today’s shoppers have more than 5 homes to consider for every 4 they had at this time a year ago.”

But perspective is important. Overall, housing supply is still low. If you need even more choices, expanding your search by adding additional housing types, like condominiums, could help.

Exploring Condos Could Add Options That Fit Your Budget

One thing to consider is condos generally differ from single-family homes in average space and floorplans. But that size difference is one reason why condos can be a more affordable option. According to a recent report from realtor.com, condo buyers paid roughly 7% less for their home than buyers of other housing types last year. With rising mortgage rates and home prices, the relative affordability of a condo could be worth considering.

Remember, your first home doesn’t have to be your forever home. The important thing is to get your foot in the door as a homeowner. Buying a condo now can springboard you into a bigger home later on. An article from the Urban Institute explains:

Because condos and co-ops are generally more affordable, they tend to help first-time homebuyers step onto the first rung of the homeownership ladder. These buyers often use the equity on their condo to then purchase a larger single-family home.

In other words, owning a condo will help you start building wealth in the form of home equity. In time, the equity you build can fuel a future purchase should you decide you want to buy a home with more space or different amenities.

Condo Living Provides Several Great Perks

Boosting the number of options in your budget during your home search is just one reason to consider condos, but there are several other benefits to condo living.

First, they tend to require minimal upkeep and lower maintenance – and that can give you more time to spend doing the things you enjoy. A recent article from Bankrate highlights this, saying:

Condos can be a good option for anyone who wants to keep home maintenance to a minimum . . . if the roof is leaking or the carpet in the lobby needs to be replaced, that’s not your responsibility — the condo association handles those duties.”

Plus, since many condos are located in or near city centers, they offer the added benefit of being in close proximity to work and leisure. Again, realtor.com explains:

“Buying a condo, which is generally less expensive than a single-family home, enables a household to afford to own in the middle of it all, and often means a newer-built home with less maintenance responsibility.”

Ultimately, owning and living in a condo can be a lifestyle choice. And if that appeals to you, they could give you the added options you need to buy your first home.

Bottom Line

Adding condominiums to your housing search could be a great move. If you’re ready to search condos in our area, let’s connect today.

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A Crucial First Step: Mortgage Pre-Approval [INFOGRAPHIC]

A Crucial First Step: Mortgage Pre-Approval [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

A Crucial First Step: Mortgage Pre-Approval [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Some Highlights

  • Mortgage pre-approval means a lender has reviewed your finances and, based on factors like your income, debt, and credit history, determined how much you’re qualified to borrow.
  • Being pre-approved for a loan can give you clarity while planning your homebuying budget, confidence in your ability to secure a loan, and helps sellers know your offer is serious.
  • Connect with a trusted professional to learn more and start your homebuying process today.
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Buyers Are Regaining Some of Their Negotiation Power in Today’s Housing Market

Buyers Are Regaining Some of Their Negotiation Power in Today’s Housing Market | Simplifying The Market

If you’re thinking about buying a home today, there’s welcome news. Even though it’s still a sellers’ market, it’s a more moderate sellers’ market than last year. And the days of feeling like you may need to waive contingencies or pay drastically over asking price to get your offer considered may be coming to a close.

Today, you should have less competition and more negotiating power as a buyer. That’s because the intensity of buyer demand and bidding wars is easing this year. So, if bidding wars were the biggest factor that had you sitting on the sidelines, here are two trends that may be just what you need to re-enter the market.

1. The Return of Contingencies

Over the last two years, more buyers were willing to skip important steps in the homebuying process, like the appraisal or inspection, to try to win a bidding war. But now, fewer people are waiving the inspection and appraisal.

The latest data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows the percentage of buyers waiving their home inspection and appraisal is declining. And a recent survey from realtor.com confirms more sellers are accepting offers that include these conditions today. According to their August study:

  • 95% of sellers reported buyers requested a home inspection
  • 67% of sellers negotiated with buyers on repairs as a result of the inspection findings

This goes to show buyers are more able to include these conditions in their offers today and negotiate as needed based on the outcome of the inspection.

2. Sellers Are More Willing To Help with Closing Costs

Generally, closing costs range between 2% and 5% of the purchase price for the home. Before the pandemic, it was a common negotiation tactic for sellers to cover some of the buyer’s closing costs to sweeten the deal. This didn’t happen as much during the peak buyer frenzy over the past two years.

Today, as the market shifts and demand slows, data from realtor.com suggests this is making a comeback. A recent article shows 32% of sellers paid some or all of their buyer’s closing costs. This may be a negotiation tool you’ll see as you go to purchase a home. Just keep in mind, limits on closing cost credits are set by your lender and can vary by state and loan type. Work closely with your loan advisor to understand how much a seller can contribute to closing costs in your area.

Bottom Line

Regardless of the extremely competitive housing market of the past several years, today’s data suggests negotiations are starting to come back on the table. This is good news if you’re planning to enter the housing market. To find out how the market is shifting in our area, let’s connect.

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Three Things Buyers Can Do in Today’s Housing Market

Three Things Buyers Can Do in Today’s Housing Market | Simplifying The Market

It’s clear the 2022 housing market has been defined by rising mortgage rates. With rates on the rise, it’s also become more costly to purchase a home. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR):

“Compared to one year ago, the monthly mortgage payment rose to $1,944 from $1,265, an increase of 53.7%.”

If you’re thinking of buying a home or have been trying to recently, that’s a big increase in a monthly mortgage payment – and it may be causing you to press pause on your plans. This jump is making homes less affordable, especially compared to the last two years when mortgage rates were at historic lows.

The good news is you can navigate today’s housing market and this rising rate environment with a few simple tips. Here are three things you may want to consider to help make your homeownership goals a reality.

1. Expand Your Search Area and Criteria

If you’ve been looking for a home in the city center or a specific area that’s starting to feel out of your price range, you may want to try looking a little further out in a location that could be more affordable. Expanding your search location or re-prioritizing the items on your wish list can open up opportunities you haven’t considered, and that could help you afford more of what you need (and want) in a home. As CNET notes:

“Area growth is likely to keep pace with the market, which means that the outskirts of town might be hopping within five years. Consider stepping out of your ideal location by searching in the nearby cities. You may find better prices and more square footage.”

2. Explore Alternative Financing Options

Working with a trusted lender to learn about the different loan types and options is essential too. According to Nerd Wallet:

“A variety of mortgages are available with varying down payment and eligibility requirements.”

Experts know how to point you in the right direction when it comes to exploring ways to find the best home loan for your situation. With rising mortgage rates making it more costly to finance a home today, there may be an ideal option out there your loan officer can introduce you to. This could make a home purchase more affordable and within your financial reach over the life of your loan.

3. Look for Grants, Gift Funds, and Down Payment Assistance

There are also many options available when it comes to securing the funding you need to purchase a home. One valuable resource to explore is downpaymentresource.com. Searching for specific down payment assistance options available in your local community could be a game changer when it comes to taking your first step toward homeownership. As NAR indicates:

“Many local governments and non-profit organizations offer down-payment assistance grants and loans, targeted to area borrowers and often with specific borrower requirements.”

Plus, there are programs and special benefits for individuals working in certain professions or with unique statuses, including teachers, doctors and nurses, and veterans.

Ultimately, that means there are many federal, state, and local programs available for you to explore. The best way to do that is to connect with a local real estate professional and your lender to learn more about what’s available in your area.

Bottom Line

If you’ve been searching for a home and have found yourself stepping out of the process because you’re worried about rising costs, let’s connect. Having a team of local advisors on your side may be just what you need to guide your search in a new and more affordable direction.

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How Owning a Home Builds Your Net Worth

How Owning a Home Builds Your Net Worth | Simplifying The Market

Owning a home is a major financial milestone and an achievement to take pride in. One major reason: the equity you build as a homeowner gives your net worth a big boost. And with high inflation right now, the link between owning your home and building your wealth is especially important.

If you’re looking to increase your financial security, here’s why now could be a good time to start on your journey toward homeownership.

Owning a Home Is a Key Ingredient for Financial Success

A report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) details several homeownership trends, including a significant gap in net worth between homeowners and renters. It finds:

“. . . the net worth of a homeowner was about $300,000 while that of a renter’s was $8,000 in 2021.”

To put that into perspective, the average homeowner’s net worth is roughly 40 times that of a renter’s. This difference shows owning a home is a key step in achieving financial success.

Equity Gains Can Substantially Boost a Homeowner’s Net Worth

The net worth gap between owners and renters exists in large part because homeowners build equity. When you own a home, your equity grows as your home appreciates in value and you make your mortgage payments each month. As a renter, you don’t have that same opportunity. A recent article from CNET explains:

Homeownership is still considered one of the most reliable ways to build wealth. When you make monthly mortgage payments, you’re building equity in your home . . . When you rent, you aren’t investing in your financial future the same way you are when you’re paying off a mortgage.”

But on top of that, your home equity grows even more as your home appreciates in value over time. That has a major impact on the wealth you build, as a recent article from Bankrate notes:

“Building home equity can help you increase your wealth over time, . . . A home is one of the only assets that have the potential to appreciate in value as you pay it down.”

In other words, when you own your home, you have the advantage of your mortgage payment acting as a contribution to a forced savings account that grows in value as your home does. And when you sell, any equity you’ve built up comes back to you. As a renter, you’ll never see a return on the money you pay out in rent every month.

Bottom Line

Owning a home is an important part of building your net worth. If you’re ready to start on your journey to homeownership, let’s connect today.

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New Homes May Have the Incentives You’re Looking for Today

New Homes May Have the Incentives You’re Looking for Today | Simplifying The Market

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, this year, builders are on pace to complete more than a million new homes in this country. If you’ve had trouble finding a home to buy over the past year, it may be time to work with your trusted agent to consider a new build and the incentives that come with it. Here’s why.

The Supply of Newly Built Homes Is Rising

When looking for a home, you can choose between existing homes (those that are already built and previously owned) and newly constructed ones. While the inventory of existing homes is on the rise today, it’s still in tight supply, meaning it can be challenging to find just the right one.

The inventory of newly built homes, however, is also rising. And with more options available than there have been in years, a new home may be just the answer you’re looking for. The graph below shows just how much the supply of newly built homes has grown this year.

New Homes May Have the Incentives You’re Looking for Today | Simplifying The Market

And here’s the thing – builders are also keeping a close eye on current market trends. With mortgage rates rising this year and, as a result, buyer demand softening, builders are slowing their pace of new construction. That’s because they learned their lesson in the housing crash of 2008 and want to avoid over-building and having too much inventory in their pipeline.

Basically, while there are more newly built homes on the market today than there have been in years, many builders want to sell their current inventory before adding much more – and that’s where you can really benefit. Today, builders may be more willing to work with buyers. According to a recent survey, 83% of builders have reduced their prices over the last three months.

What That Means for You

The current supply of newly built homes for sale coupled with the fact that data shows the majority of builders are doing price reductions are both great news for you. It means you may have more options and possibly some much-needed relief if you consider newly built homes in your search.

Bottom Line

If you’re ready to buy, it may be time to look for a newly built home. To learn what’s available in our area and what incentives these builders are offering, let’s connect today.

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Buyers: You May Face Less Competition as Bidding Wars Ease

Buyers: You May Face Less Competition as Bidding Wars Ease | Simplifying The Market

One of the top stories in recent real estate headlines was the intensity and frequency of bidding wars. With so many buyers looking to purchase a home and so few of them available for sale, fiercely competitive bidding wars became the norm during the pandemic – and it drove home prices up. If you tried to buy a house over the past two years, you probably experienced this firsthand and may have been outbid on several homes along the way.

But here’s the news you’ve been waiting for: data shows clear signs bidding wars are easing this year.

According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the average number of offers on recently sold homes has declined considerably over the past few months (see graph below):

Buyers: You May Face Less Competition as Bidding Wars Ease | Simplifying The Market

The graph shows homes were seeing a high of around five offers earlier this year. But the latest data shows that average was down to just shy of three offers per recently sold home. This shift is happening largely because rising mortgage rates moderated buyer demand and slowed home sales, resulting in a growing supply of homes on the market. Essentially, more choices for buyers.

What This Means for You

If you put your home search on pause because you were outbid last year or because you didn’t want to deal with the peak intensity of bidding wars, you can breathe a welcome sigh of relief. While it’s still a sellers’ market, an uptick in inventory gives you a window of opportunity to jump back in. You may still be competing with some buyers, but it likely won’t be anything like it was just a few short months ago.

Bottom Line

If you put your plans on pause because of intense bidding wars in recent years, it may be time to kick off your home search. Today, bidding wars are easing and that may mean less competition for you as a buyer. If you’re serious about buying a home or making a move, let’s connect to get started today.

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Why You May Want To Start Your Home Search Today

Why You May Want To Start Your Home Search Today | Simplifying The Market

If you’re thinking about buying a home, you likely have a lot of factors on your mind. You’re weighing your own needs against higher mortgage rates, today’s home prices, and more to try to decide if you want to jump into the market. While some buyers may wait things out, there’s a reason serious buyers are making moves right now, and that’s the growing number of homes for sale.

So far this year, housing inventory has been increasing and that’s making the prospect of finding your dream home less difficult. While there are always reasons you could delay making a big decision, there are also always reasons to consider moving forward. And having a growing number of options for your home search may be exactly what you needed to feel more confident in making a move.

What’s Causing Housing Inventory To Grow?

As new data comes out, we’re getting an updated picture of why housing supply is increasing so much this year. As Bill McBride, Author of Calculated Risk, explains:

We are seeing a significant change in inventory, but no pickup in new listings. Most of the increase in inventory so far has been due to softer demand – likely because of higher mortgage rates.”

Basically, the inventory growth is primarily from homes staying on the market a bit longer (known as active listings). And that’s happening because higher mortgage rates and home prices have helped moderate the peak frenzy of buyer demand.

The graph below uses data from realtor.com to show how much active listings have risen over the past five months as a result (shown in green):

Why You May Want To Start Your Home Search Today | Simplifying The Market

Why This Growth Is Good News for You

Regardless of the source, the increase in available housing supply is good for buyers. More housing supply actively for sale means you have more options as your search for your next home. A recent article from realtor.com explains just how significant the inventory growth has been and why it’s good news for your plans to buy:

“Nationally, the inventory of homes actively for sale on a typical day in July increased by 30.7% over the past year, the largest increase in inventory in the data history and higher than last month’s growth rate of 18.7% which was itself record-breaking. This amounted to 176,000 more homes actively for sale on a typical day in July compared to the previous year and more choice for buyers who are still looking for a new home.

The growth this year is certainly good news for you, especially if you’ve had trouble finding a home that meets your needs. If you start your search today, those additional options should make it less difficult to find a home than it would have been over the past two years.

Bottom Line

If you’re ready to jump into the market and take advantage of the increasing supply of homes for sale, let’s connect today. The opportunity is knocking, will you answer?

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3 Tips for Buying a Home Today

3 Tips for Buying a Home Today | Simplifying The Market

If you put off your home search at any point over the past two years, you may want to consider picking it back up based on today’s housing market conditions. Recent data shows the supply of homes for sale is increasing, giving buyers like you additional options.

But it’s important to keep in mind that while inventory is improving, it’s still a sellers’ market. And that means you need to be prepared as you set out on your home search. Here are three tips for buying the home of your dreams today.

1. Understand How Mortgage Rates Impact Your Homebuying Power

Mortgage rates have increased significantly this year, and over the past few weeks, they’ve been fluctuating quite a bit. It’s important to stay up to date on what’s happening with rates and understand how they can impact your purchasing power when you’re thinking of buying a home. The chart below can help.

Let’s say your budget allows for a monthly mortgage payment in the $2,100-$2,200 range. The green in the chart indicates a payment within or below that range, while the red is a payment that exceeds it.

3 Tips for Buying a Home Today | Simplifying The Market

As the chart shows, even a small change in mortgage rates can have a big impact on your monthly payments. If rates rise, you could exceed your budget unless you pursue a lower home loan amount. If rates fall, your purchasing power may increase, which could give you additional options for your search.

2. Be Open to Exploring Different Options During Your Search

The supply of homes for sale is improving, which gives you more homes to choose from. But historically, supply is still low. That means as you search for homes, if you still don’t find something that meets your needs, it may be worth expanding your search.

A recent article from the Washington Post highlights a few things buyers can consider today. It encourages opening yourself up to more areas. For example, if there’s a location you’ve previously ruled out (like a particular town, for example) it may be worth taking another look.

And if you’re able to, opening your search up to include other housing types, like newly built homes, condominiums, or townhomes can further increase your pool of options. Even as the inventory of homes for sale improves today, finding ways to cast a wider net during your search could help you find a hidden gem.

3. Work with a Local Real Estate Professional for Expert Guidance

Ultimately, you need to be prepared when you set out to buy a home. Jeff Ostrowski, Senior Mortgage Reporter for Bankrate, explains:

“Taking the leap to homeownership can provide a feeling of pride while boosting your long-term financial outlook, if you go in well-prepared and with your eyes open.”

No matter where you’re at in your homeownership journey, the best way to make sure you’re set up for success is to work with a real estate professional. If you’re just starting your search, a real estate professional can help you understand your local market and search for available homes. And when it’s time to make an offer, they’ll be an expert advisor and negotiator to help yours stand out above the rest.

Bottom Line

Strategically planning your home search by understanding today’s mortgage rates, casting a wide net, and building a team of experts can be the keys to finding the home of your dreams. To make sure you have expert advice each step of the way, let’s connect.

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The U.S. Homeownership Rate Is Growing

The U.S. Homeownership Rate Is Growing | Simplifying The Market

The desire to own a home is still strong today. In fact, according to the Census, the U.S. homeownership rate is on the rise. To illustrate the increase, the graph below shows the homeownership rate over the last year:

The U.S. Homeownership Rate Is Growing | Simplifying The Market

That data shows more than half of the U.S. population live in a home they own, and the percentage is growing with time.

If you’re thinking about buying a home this year, here are just a few reasons why so many people see the value of homeownership.

Why Are More People Becoming Homeowners?

There are several benefits to owning your home. A significant one, especially when inflation is high like it is today, is that homeownership can help protect you from rising costs. Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at the National Association of Realtors (NAR), explains:

“In the 1970s, when inflation was running around 10%, home prices were rising at approximately the same rate. Renters actually have a harder time in inflationary periods, because rents tend to rise along with inflation, whereas mortgage payments stay the same for homeowners with fixed-rate mortgages.”

When you buy a home with a fixed-rate mortgage, you can lock in what’s likely your biggest monthly expense – your housing payment – for the duration of that loan, often 15-30 years.

That gives you a predictable monthly housing expense that can benefit you in the short term, but you’ll also gain equity over time as your home appreciates in value and you make your monthly mortgage payment.

And with that growing equity, your net worth will increase as well. In fact, the latest data from NAR shows the median household net worth of a homeowner is roughly $300,000, while the median net worth of renters is only about $8,000. That means a homeowner’s net worth is nearly 40 times that of a renter.

The U.S. Homeownership Rate Is Growing | Simplifying The Market

Bottom Line

The U.S. homeownership rate is growing. If you’re ready to purchase the home of your dreams, let’s connect so you can begin the homebuying process today.