Bergen County Real Estate and Community News

Sept. 1, 2021

Your Checklist To Get Ready To Sell [INFOGRAPHIC]

 

Your Checklist To Get Ready To Sell [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Some Highlights

  • When it comes to selling your house, you want it to look its best inside and out.
  • It’s important to focus on tasks that can make it inviting, show it’s cared for, and boost your curb appeal for prospective buyers.
  • Let’s connect to make sure your house shows well and catches a buyer’s eye.
Aug. 31, 2021

What Buyers and Sellers Need To Know About the Appraisal Gap

What Buyers and Sellers Need To Know About Appraisal Gaps | Simplifying The Market

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):What Buyers and Sellers Need To Know About the Appraisal Gap | Simplifying The Market

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. Let’s connect so you have an ally to help you navigate an appraisal gap to get the best possible outcome.

Aug. 24, 2021

What Do Experts Say About Today’s Mortgage Rates?

 

What Do Experts Say About Today’s Mortgage Rates? | Simplifying The Market

 

Mortgage rates are hovering near record lows, and that’s good news for today’s homebuyers. The graph below shows mortgage rates dating back to 2016 and where today falls by comparison.

 

What Do Experts Say About Today’s Mortgage Rates? | Simplifying The MarketGenerally speaking, when rates are low, you can afford more home for your money. That’s why experts across the industry agree – today’s low rates present buyers with an incredible opportunity. Here’s what they have to say:

Sam Khater, Chief Economist at Freddie Macpoints out the historic nature of today’s rates:

“As the economy works to get back to its pre-pandemic self, and the fight against COVID-19 variants unfolds, owners and buyers continue to benefit from some of the lowest mortgage rates of all-time.”

Mark Fleming, Chief Economist at First Americantalks about how rates impact a buyer’s bottom line:

“Mortgage rates are generally the same across the country, so a decline in mortgage rates boosts affordability equally in each market.”

Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at realtor.com, also notes the significance of today’s low rates and urges buyers to carefully consider their timing:

Those who haven’t yet taken advantage of low rates to buy a home or refinance still have the opportunity to do so this summer.”

Hale goes on to say that buyers who don’t act soon could see higher rates in the coming months, negatively impacting their purchasing power:

“We expect mortgage rates to fluctuate near historic lows through the summer before beginning to climb this fall.”

And while mortgage rates are still low today, the data from Freddie Mac indicates rates are fluctuating ever so slightly right now, as they moved up one week before inching slightly back down in their latest release. It’s important to keep in mind the influence rates have on your monthly mortgage payment.

Even small increases can have a big impact on what you pay each month. Trust the experts. Today’s rates give you opportunity and flexibility in what you can afford. Don’t wait on the sidelines and hope for a better rate to come along; the rates we’re seeing today are worth capitalizing on.

Bottom Line

Mortgage rates hover near record lows today, but experts forecast they’ll rise in the coming months. Waiting could prove costly when that happens. Let’s connect today to discuss today’s rates and determine if now’s the time for you to buy.

Aug. 10, 2021

Key Questions To Ask Yourself Before Buying a Home

 

Key Questions To Ask Yourself Before Buying a Home | MyKCM

 

Sometimes it can feel like everyone has advice when it comes to buying a home. While your friends and loved ones may have your best interests in mind, they may also be missing crucial information about today’s housing market that you need to make your best decision.

Before you decide whether you’re ready to buy a home, you should know how to answer these three questions.

1. What’s Going on with Home Prices?

Home prices are one factor that directly impacts how much it will cost to buy a home and how much you stand to gain as a homeowner when prices appreciate.

The graph below shows just how much experts are forecasting prices to rise this year:Key Questions To Ask Yourself Before Buying a Home | Simplifying The MarketContinued price appreciation is great news for existing homeowners but can pose a significant challenge if you wait to buyUsing these forecasts, you can determine just how much waiting could cost you. If prices increase based on the average of all forecasts (12.46%), a median-priced home that cost $350,000 in January of 2021 will cost an additional $43,610 by the end of the year. What does this mean for you? Put simply, with home prices increasing, the longer you wait, the more it could cost you.

2. Are Today’s Low Mortgage Rates Going To Last?

Another significant factor that should inform your decision is mortgage interest rates. Today’s average rates remain close to record-lows. Much like prices, though, experts forecast rates will rise over the coming months, as the chart below shows:Key Questions To Ask Yourself Before Buying a Home | Simplifying The MarketYour monthly mortgage payment can be significantly impacted by even the slightest increase in mortgage rates, which makes the overall cost of the home greater over time when you wait.

3. Why Is Homeownership Important to You?

The final question is a personal one. Before deciding, you’ll need to understand your motivation to buy a home and why homeownership is an important goal for you. The financial benefits of owning a home are often easier to account for than the many emotional ones.

The 2021 National Homeownership Market Survey shows that six of the nine reasons Americans value homeownership are because of how it impacts them on a personal, aspirational level. The survey says homeownership provides:

  • Stability
  • Safety
  • A Sense of Accomplishment
  • A Life Milestone
  • A Stake in the Community
  • Personal Pride

The National Housing & Financial Capability Survey from NeighborWorks America also highlights the emotional benefits of homeownership:Key Questions To Ask Yourself Before Buying a Home | Simplifying The MarketClearly, there’s a value to homeownership beyond the many great financial opportunities it provides. It gives homeowners a sense of pride, safety, security, and accomplishment – which impacts their lives and how they feel daily.

Bottom Line

Homeownership is life-changing, and buying a home can positively impact you in so many ways. With any decision this big, it helps to have a trusted advisor by your side each step of the way. If you’re ready to begin your journey toward homeownership, let’s connect to discuss your options and begin your journey.

July 20, 2021

Experts Agree: Options Are Improving for Buyers [INFOGRAPHIC]

 

Experts Agree: Options Are Improving for Buyers [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Some Highlights

  • Buyers hoping for more homes to choose from may be in luck as housing inventory begins to rise. Many experts agree – new sellers listing their homes is great news for buyers and the overall market.
  • Although the supply increases are modest, more homes means more options for buyers. A rise in inventory may also help slow the price gains we’ve seen recently and could be a sign of good things to come.
  • If you’re searching for a home, rising inventory is welcome news. Let’s connect today to discuss new listings in our area.
July 13, 2021

Why This Isn’t Your Typical Summer Housing Market

 

In real estate, it’s normal to see ebbs and flows in the market. Typically, the summer months are slower-paced than the traditionally busy spring. But this isn’t a typical summer. As the economy rebounds and life is returning to normal, the real estate market is expected to have an unusually strong summer season.

Here’s how this summer is stacking up against the norm and what it means for you.Why This Isn’t Your Typical Summer Housing Market | Simplifying the Market

Inventory is increasing.

According to the latest Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), inventory levels have been rising since February of this year. Looking at the graph below, there’s a clear upward trend, as shown in the green bars. Currently, there’s roughly a 2.5 months’ supply of homes for sale. And while inventory is trending up as more houses are coming to the market, it’s still much lower than several of the previous summers, as the orange bars indicate.Why This Isn’t Your Typical Summer Housing Market | Simplifying the MarketIf you’re looking to buy, some relief is on the way in the form of more homes coming to the market. Just remember, we still have less inventory than the norm, so be patient in your search.

If you’re thinking of selling, now is the time. Work with your agent to list your house before it has more competition on the market.

Time on the market is still shorter than normal.

Unlike the typical summer trend, time on the market is moving at the fastest speed we’ve seen since NAR started collecting this survey-based information in 2011. The most recent Realtors Confidence Index shows that the average home is on the market for just 17 days, as shown in green in the graph below. This means houses are selling at a much faster pace than a typical summer, which the orange bars represent.Why This Isn’t Your Typical Summer Housing Market | Simplifying the MarketIf you’re looking to buy, this means you need to be prepared to move fast. Brace for a quick pace and rely on your agent to stay in the know on the available homes in your area.

If you’re thinking of selling, data shows your house will likely sell quickly. If you’re worried about where you’ll go once your house sells, consider a newly built home as a good way to move up.

Price appreciation is still rising.

The last big factor making this an unusually strong market this summer is home price appreciation. According to the State House Price Index from the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), we’re currently experiencing double-digit house price appreciation and have an average of 12.6% appreciation across the country. The graph below uses data from NAR to show a more granular view of how prices have changed month-to-month over the past few years. The green bars show the current price appreciation we’re experiencing today. Our current levels are well above what we’ve seen in recent summers, shown by the orange bars.Why This Isn’t Your Typical Summer Housing Market | Simplifying the MarketIf you’re looking to buy, competition and bidding wars are driving prices up. Getting pre-approved can show the seller you’re serious and help you know what you can afford. Once you do, work with your agent to make a strong offer that stands out.

If you’re thinking of selling, seize this opportunity to use your additional equity from this price appreciation to power your next move.

Bottom Line

This isn’t a typical summer. Whether you’re buying or selling, let’s connect to talk about how you can capitalize on today’s market conditions to sell your house or find your dream home.

May 11, 2021

Experts Say Home Prices Will Continue to Appreciate

 

Experts Say Home Prices Will Continue to Appreciate | MyKCM

It’s clear that consumers are concerned about how quickly home values are rising. Many people fear the speed of appreciation may lead to a crash in prices later this year. In fact, Google reports that the search for “When is the housing market going to crash?” has actually spiked 2450% over the past month.

In addition, Jim Dalrymple II of Inman News notes:

“One of the most noteworthy things that came up in Inman’s conversations with agents was that every single one said they’ve had conversations with clients about whether or not the market is heading into a bubble.”

To alleviate some of these concerns, let’s look at what several financial analysts are saying about the current residential real estate market. Within the last thirty days, four of the major financial services giants came to the same conclusion: the housing market is strong, and price appreciation will continue. Here are their statements on the issue:

Goldman Sachs’ Research Note on Housing:

“Strong demand for housing looks sustainable. Even before the pandemic, demographic tailwinds and historically-low mortgage rates had pushed demand to high levels. ... consumer surveys indicate that household buying intentions are now the highest in 20 years. … As a result, the model projects double-digit price gains both this year and next.”

Joe Seydl, Senior Markets EconomistJ.P.Morgan:

“Homebuyers—interest rates are still historically low, though they are inching up. Housing prices have spiked during the last six-to-nine months, but we don’t expect them to fall soon, and we believe they are more likely to keep rising. If you are looking to purchase a new home, conditions now may be better than 12 months hence.”

Morgan Stanley, Thoughts on the Market Podcast:

“Unlike 15 years ago, the euphoria in today's home prices comes down to the simple logic of supply and demand. And we at Morgan Stanley conclude that this time the sector is on a sustainably, sturdy foundation . . . . This robust demand and highly challenged supply, along with tight mortgage lending standards, may continue to bode well for home prices. Higher interest rates and post pandemic moves could likely slow the pace of appreciation, but the upward trajectory remains very much on course.”

Merrill Lynch’s Capital Market Outlook:

“There are reasons to believe that this is likely to be an unusually long and strong housing expansion. Demand is very strong because the biggest demographic cohort in history is moving through the household-formation and peak home-buying stages of its life cycle. Coronavirus-related preference changes have also sharply boosted home buying demand. At the same time, supply is unusually tight, with available homes for sale at record-low levels. Double-digit price gains are rationing the supply.”

Bottom Line

If you’re concerned about making the decision to buy or sell right now, let’s connect to discuss what’s happening in our local market.

May 4, 2021

Should I Buy Now or Wait? [INFOGRAPHIC]

 

Should I Buy Now or Wait? [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

Some Highlights

  • If you’re thinking that waiting a year or two to purchase a home might mean you’ll save some money, think again.
  • Mortgage interest rates are currently very low, but experts across the board are forecasting increases in both home prices and interest rates.
  • Buying a home now means you’ll spend less in the long run. Let’s connect to put your homebuying plans in motion before home prices and mortgage rates climb even higher.
March 9, 2021

How to Prepare Your House for a Winning Sale This Spring [INFOGRAPHIC]

How to Prepare Your House for a Winning Sale This Spring [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

Some Highlights

  • With so few homes available to buy today, houses are in high demand, and they’re selling fast.
  • That means it’s a great time to sell if you’re ready to make a move.
  • Let’s connect to make sure your house is ready for a top-dollar sale this spring. It may be closer than you think!
March 2, 2021

Home Prices: What Happened in 2020? What Will Happen This Year?

Home Prices: What Happened in 2020? What Will Happen This Year? | MyKCM

The real estate market was on fire during the second half of 2020. Buyer demand was way up, and the supply of homes available for sale hit record lows. The price of anything is determined by the supply and demand ratio, so home prices skyrocketed last year. Dr. Lynn Fisher, Deputy Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) Division of Research and Statisticsexplains:

“House prices nationwide recorded the largest annual and quarterly increase in the history of the FHFA Home Price Index. Low mortgage rates, pent up demand from homebuyers, and a limited housing supply propelled every region of the country to experience faster growth in 2020 compared to a year ago despite the pandemic.”

Here are the year-end home price appreciation numbers from the FHFA and two other prominent pricing indexes:

The past year was truly a remarkable time for homeowners as prices appreciated substantially. Lawrence Yun, Senior Economist at the National Association of Realtors (NAR), reveals:

“A typical homeowner in 2020, just by being a homeowner, would have accumulated around $24,000 in housing wealth.”

What will happen with home prices this year?

Many experts believe buyer demand will soften somewhat as mortgage rates are poised to bump up slightly. Some also believe the inventory challenge will ease as more listings come to market this year.

Based on this, most forecasters anticipate we’ll see strong appreciation in 2021 – but not as strong as last year. Here are seven prominent groups and their projections:Home Prices: What Happened in 2020? What Will Happen This Year? | MyKCM

Bottom Line

Home price appreciation will be strong this year, but it won’t reach the historic levels of 2020. Let’s connect if you’d like to find out what your house is currently worth in our local market.