Bergen County Real Estate and Community News

Nov. 16, 2022

Top Questions About Selling Your Home This Winter

Top Questions About Selling Your Home This Winter | Simplifying The Market

There’s no denying the housing market is undergoing a shift this season, and that may leave you with some questions about whether it still makes sense to sell your house. Here are three of the top questions you may be asking – and the data that helps answer them – so you can make a confident decision.

1. Should I Wait To Sell?

Even though the supply of homes for sale has increased in 2022, inventory is still low overall. That means it’s still a sellers’ market. The graph below helps put the inventory growth into perspective. Using data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), it shows just how far off we are from flipping to a buyers’ market:

Top Questions About Selling Your Home This Winter | Simplifying The Market

While buyers have regained some negotiation power as inventory has grown, you haven’t missed your window to sell. Your house could still stand out since inventory is low, especially if you list now while other sellers hold off until after the holiday rush and the start of the new year.

2. Are Buyers Still Out There?

If you’re thinking of selling your house but are hesitant because you’re worried buyer demand has disappeared in the face of higher mortgage rates, know that isn’t the case for everyone. While demand has eased this year, millennials are still looking for homes. As an article in Forbes explains:

At about 80 million strong, millennials currently make up the largest share of homebuyers (43%) in the U.S., according to a recent National Association of Realtors (NAR) report. Simply due to their numbers and eagerness to become homeowners, this cohort is quite literally shaping the next frontier of the homebuying process. Once known as the ‘rent generation,’ millennials have proven to be savvy buyers who are quite nimble in their quest to own real estate. In fact, I don’t think it’s a stretch to say they are the key to the overall health and stability of the current housing industry.”

While the millennial generation has been dubbed the renter generation, that namesake may not be appropriate anymore. Millennials, the largest generation, are actually a significant driving force for buyer demand in the housing market today. If you’re wondering if buyers are still out there, know that there are still people who are searching for a home to buy today. And your house may be exactly what they’re looking for.

3. Can I Afford To Buy My Next Home?

If current market conditions have you worried about how you’ll afford your next move, consider this: you may have more equity in your current home than you realize.

Homeowners have gained significant equity over the past few years and that equity can make a big difference in the affordability equation, especially with mortgage rates higher now than they were last year. According to Mark Fleming, Chief Economist at First American:

“. . . homeowners, in aggregate, have historically high levels of home equity. For some of those equity-rich homeowners, that means moving and taking on a higher mortgage rate isn’t a huge deal—especially if they are moving to a more affordable city.” 

Bottom Line

If you’re thinking about selling your house this season, let’s connect so you have the expert insights you need to make the best possible move today.

Posted in Blog, For Sellers
Nov. 15, 2022

Why It May Be Time To Add Newly Built Homes to Your Search

Why It May Be Time To Add Newly Built Homes to Your Search | Simplifying The Market

If you put a pause on your home search because you weren’t sure where you’d go once you sold your house, it might be a good time to get back into the market. If you’re willing to work with a trusted agent to consider a newly built home, you may have even more options and incentives than you realize. That may be why the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) says the share of buyers looking for new construction is increasing:

“According to the quarterly Housing Trends Report, the popularity of new construction homes is continuing to rebound . . .”

Here’s a few reasons more buyers may be drawn to newly built homes.

More Options To Choose from and Potential Builder Incentives

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 has increased this year, it’s still below more typical years like 2019. Currently, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), there is a 3.2-month supply at the current sales pace. For reference, a roughly 6-month supply is considered a balanced market, leaving us in a sellers’ market today.

While it’s a smaller segment of the overall inventory of homes for sale, the supply of newly built homes has grown even more. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) explains:

New single-family home inventory remained elevated at a 9.2 months’ supply (of varying stages of construction). A measure near a 6 months’ supply is considered balanced.”

Here’s why this matters for you. While you have more homes to choose from in either category, there’s one extra benefit of newly built homes. Because the inventory of newly built homes has grown so much, builders are motivated to sell their properties before they build more.

Back in the housing crash of 2008, builders were building too many homes, and that oversupply is part of what contributed to the housing bubble bursting. Now, builders don’t want to have a surplus of inventory in their pipeline, and many are offering buyers incentives to help move that inventory along. As Doug Duncan, Chief Economist at Fannie Maeexplains:

“. . . a continual increase in the number of completed homes available for sale is now occurring, with the inventories of such homes now at the highest level since July 2020. . . . This suggests to us that builders may be increasingly willing to offer more aggressive incentives and discounts to maintain sales of completed inventory.”

While specifics will vary by builder and market, some buyers are seeing builders reduce prices and offer incentives. To find out what’s available in your area, lean on a trusted real estate professional.

Lifestyle Benefits of Buying a Newly Built Home

In addition to more supply and the potential for builder incentives, newly built homes have various benefits that may suit your lifestyle. For example, you likely won’t have as many little repairs to tackle, like leaky faucets, shutters to paint, and other odd jobs around the house. That can free up time for you to do other things you’re passionate about.

Another perk of a new home is that nothing in the house is used. It’s brand new and uniquely yours from day one. You’ll have all new appliances, windows, roofing, and more. These things can help lower your energy costs, which can add up to significant savings over time. You may even have the latest and greatest technology features built into your new home.

Builder sums up why some buyers today are turning to newly built homes:

“For some, it’s the lure of something new and modern. For others, it’s the move-in ready experience. And now there’s another factor to consider when making this decision: technology.”

If any of these benefits appeal to you, it’s time to connect with a trusted real estate advisor to learn more.

Bottom Line

If you’re considering a newly built home, let’s connect so you have an expert guide on what’s available in our local market. Together we’ll explore your options and the benefits of an all-new home.

Posted in Blog, For Buyers
Nov. 14, 2022

Home Equity: A Source of Strength for Homeowners Today

Home Equity: A Source of Strength for Homeowners Today | Simplifying The Market

Experts agree there’s no chance of a large-scale foreclosure crisis like we saw back in 2008, and that’s good news for the housing market. As Mark Fleming, Chief Economist at First Americansays:

“. . . don’t expect a housing bust like the mid-2000s, as lending standards in this housing cycle have been much tighter and homeowners have historically high levels of home equity, so there likely won’t be a surge in foreclosures.”

Data from the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) helps tell this story. It shows the overall percentage of homeowners at risk is decreasing significantly with time (see graph below):

Home Equity: A Source of Strength for Homeowners Today | Simplifying The Market

But even though the volume of homeowners at risk is very low, there is still a small percentage of homeowners who may be coming face to face with foreclosure as a possibility today. If you’re facing difficulties yourself, it can help to understand your options. It starts with knowing what foreclosure is. Investopedia defines it like this:

Typically, default is triggered when a borrower misses a specific number of monthly payments . . . Foreclosure is the legal process by which a lender attempts to recover the amount owed on a defaulted loan by taking ownership of and selling the mortgaged property.

The good news is there are alternatives available to help you avoid going through the foreclosure process, including:

  • Reinstatement
  • Loan modification
  • Deed-in-lieu of foreclosure
  • Short sale

But before you go down any of those paths, it’s worth seeing if 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

Equity is the difference between what you owe on the home and its market value based on factors like price appreciation.

In today’s real estate market, many homeowners have far more equity in their homes than they realize due to the home price appreciation we’ve seen over the past few years. According to CoreLogic:

“The total average equity per borrower has now reached almost $300,000, the highest in the data series.”

So, what does that mean for you? If you’ve lived in your house for at least a few years or more, chances are your home’s value, and your equity, has risen dramatically. In addition, the mortgage payments you’ve made during that time chipped away at the balance of your loan. 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.

Rick Sharga, Executive VP of Market Intelligence at ATTOM Dataexplains how equity can help:

“Very few of the properties entering the foreclosure process have reverted to the lender at the end of the foreclosure. . . We believe that this may be an indication that borrowers are leveraging their equity and selling their homes rather than risking the loss of their equity in a foreclosure auction.”

Lean on Experts To Explore Your Options

To find out how much equity you have, work with a local real estate professional. 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.

If you find out you have to pursue other options, your agent can help with that too. They’ll be able to connect you with other professionals in the industry, like housing counselors, who can look into your unique situation and offer advice on next steps if selling isn’t your best alternative.

Bottom Line

If you’re a homeowner facing hardship, let’s connect so you have an expert on your side to explore your options and see if you can sell your house to avoid foreclosure.

Nov. 14, 2022

What’s Ahead for Mortgage Rates and Home Prices?

What’s Ahead for Mortgage Rates and Home Prices? | Simplifying The Market

Now that the end of 2022 is within sight, you may be wondering what’s going to happen in the housing market next year and what that may mean if you’re thinking about buying a home. Here’s a look at the latest expert insights on both mortgage rates and home prices so you can make your best move possible.

Mortgage Rates Will Continue To Respond to Inflation

There’s no doubt mortgage rates have skyrocketed this year as the market responded to high inflation. The increases we’ve seen were fast and dramatic, and the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate even surpassed 7% at the end of last month. In fact, it’s the first time they’ve risen this high in over 20 years (see graph below):

What’s Ahead for Mortgage Rates and Home Prices? | Simplifying The Market

In their latest quarterly report, Freddie Mac explains just how fast the climb in rates has been:

“Just one year ago, rates were under 3%. This means that while mortgage rates are not as high as they were in the 80’s, they have more than doubled in the past year. Mortgage rates have never doubled in a year before.

Because we’re in unprecedented territory, it’s hard to say with certainty where mortgage rates will go from here. Projecting the future of mortgage rates is far from an exact science, but experts do agree that, moving forward, mortgage rates will continue to respond to inflation. If inflation stays high, mortgage rates likely will too.

Home Price Changes Will Vary by Market

As buyer demand has eased this year in response to those higher mortgage rates, home prices have moderated in many markets too. In terms of the forecast for next year, expert projections are mixed. The general consensus is home price appreciation will vary by local market, with more significant changes happening in overheated areas. As Mark Fleming, Chief Economist at First American, says:

“House price appreciation has slowed in all 50 markets we track, but the deceleration is generally more dramatic in areas that experienced the strongest peak appreciation rates.

Basically, some areas may still see slight price growth while others may see slight price declines. It all depends on other factors at play in that local market, like the balance between supply and demand. This may be why experts are divided on their latest national forecasts (see graph below):

What’s Ahead for Mortgage Rates and Home Prices? | Simplifying The Market

Bottom Line

If you want to know what’s happening with home prices or mortgage rates, let’s connect so you have the latest on what experts are saying and what that means for our area.

Nov. 14, 2022

Homeownership Wins Over Time [INFOGRAPHIC]

Homeownership Wins Over Time [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Some Highlights

Nov. 14, 2022

Do You Believe Homeownership Is Out of Reach? Maybe It Doesn’t Have To Be.

Do You Believe Homeownership Is Out of Reach? Maybe It Doesn’t Have To Be. | Simplifying The Market

It turns out, millennials aren’t the renter generation after all. The 2022 Consumer Insights Report from Mynd says there’s a portion of millennial and Gen Z buyers who are pursuing homeownership as a way to build their wealth, but it may not be exactly the way previous generations have done it. The study explains how they’re breaking into the market:

“. . . younger generations of Americans are not buying into that dream in the same way that older generations have. A growing number of Americans are choosing to make their first real estate purchase as an investment property.”

Instead of buying a home and moving into it themselves, some young buyers are purchasing a home so they can use it as a rental. This tactic may be gaining popularity, at least in part, because of the affordability challenges brought about by today’s higher mortgage rates. The report above mentions how many people in this group are considering this approach. It says:

“Almost half of Millennials and Gen Z (43%) are considering buying an investment property compared to only 9% of Baby Boomers and 27% of Gen X.”

Why Younger Buyers Are Buying a Home To Use as a Rental

This strategy allows buyers to continue living in their current location, like the bustle of a city apartment or a neighborhood that they know and love, where they couldn’t afford to buy. But instead of giving up on the idea of owning a home, they buy a home in a more affordable area with the intention of renting it out.

In a way, they’re getting the best of both worlds. They live where they want, and they still own a home where they can afford it.

Their goal is to generate passive income and diversify their assets. It works like this: in addition to having a rental stream of income, the equity they build in their house will also help grow their net worth over time.

Bottom Line

If you’re thinking about buying a home as an investment strategy to build your wealth, let’s connect to explore your options and nearby areas that may have homes that fit what you’re looking for.

Posted in Blog, For Buyers
Nov. 14, 2022

3 Trends That Are Good News for Today’s Homebuyers

3 Trends That Are Good News for Today’s Homebuyers | Simplifying The Market

While higher mortgage rates are creating affordability challenges for homebuyers this year, there is some good news for those people still looking to buy a home.

As the market has cooled this year, some of the intensity buyers faced during the peak frenzy of the pandemic has cooled too. Here are just a few trends that may benefit you when you go to buy a home today.

1. More Homes To Choose from

During the pandemic, housing supply hit a record low at the same time buyer demand skyrocketed. This combination made it difficult to find a home because there just weren’t enough to meet buyer demand. According to Calculated Risk, the supply of homes for sale increased by 39.5% for the week ending October 28 compared to the same week last year.

Even though it’s still a sellers’ market and supply is still lower than more normal levels, you have more to choose from in your home search. That makes finding your dream home a bit less difficult.

2. Bidding Wars Have Eased

One of the top stories in real estate over the past two years was the intensity and frequency of bidding wars. But today, things are different. With more options, you’ll likely see less competition from other buyers looking for homes. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the average number of offers on recently sold homes has declined. This September, the average was 2.5 offers per sale. In contrast, last September, the average was 3.7 offers per sale.

If you tried to buy a house over the past two years, you probably experienced the bidding war frenzy firsthand and may have been outbid on several homes along the way. Now you have a chance to jump back into the market and enjoy searching for a home with less competition.

3. More Negotiation Power

And when you have less competition, you also have more negotiating power as a buyer. 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 the latest data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows the percentage of buyers waiving those contingencies is going down.

As a buyer, this is good news. The appraisal and the inspection give you important information about the value and condition of the home you’re buying. And if something turns up in the inspection, you have more power today to renegotiate with the seller.

survey from realtor.com confirms more sellers are accepting offers that include contingencies today. According to that report, 95% of sellers said buyers requested a home inspection, and 67% negotiated with buyers on repairs as a result of the inspection findings.

Bottom Line

While buyers still face challenges today, they’re not necessarily the same ones you may have been up against just a year or so ago. If you were outbid or had trouble finding a home in the past, now may be the moment you’ve been waiting for. Let’s connect to start the homebuying process today.

Oct. 24, 2022

What’s Ahead for Home Prices?

What’s Ahead for Home Prices? | Simplifying The Market

As the housing market cools in response to the dramatic rise in mortgage rates, home price appreciation is cooling as well. And if you’re following along with headlines in the media, you’re probably seeing a wide range of opinions calling for everything from falling home prices to ongoing appreciation. But what’s true? What’s most likely to happen moving forward?

While opinions differ, the most likely outcome is we’ll fall somewhere in the middle of slight appreciation and slight depreciation. Here’s a look at the latest expert projections so you have the best information possible today.

What the Experts Are Saying About Home Prices Next Year

The graph below shows the most up-to-date forecasts from five experts in the housing industry. These are the experts that have most recently updated their projections based on current market trends:

What’s Ahead for Home Prices? | Simplifying The Market

As the graph shows, the three blue bars represent experts calling for ongoing home price appreciation, just at a more moderate rate than recent years. The red bars on the graph are experts calling for home price depreciation.

While there isn’t a clear consensus, if you take the average (shown in green) of all five of these forecasts, the most likely outcome is, nationally, home price appreciation will be fairly flat next year.

What Does This Mean?

Basically, experts are divided on what’s ahead for 2023. Home prices will likely depreciate slightly in some markets and will continue to gain ground in others. It all depends on the conditions in your local market, like how overheated that market was in recent years, current inventory levels, buyer demand, and more.

The good news is home prices are expected to return to more normal levels of appreciation rather quickly. The latest forecast from Wells Fargo shows that, while they feel prices will fall in 2023, they think prices will recover and net positive in 2024. That forecast calls for 3.1% appreciation in 2024, which is a number much more in line with the long-term average of 4% annual appreciation.

And the Home Price Expectation Survey (HPES) from Pulsenomics, a poll of over one hundred industry experts, also calls for ongoing appreciation of roughly 2.6 to 4% from 2024-2026. This goes to show, even if prices decline slightly next year, it’s not expected to be a lasting trend.

As Jason Lewris, Co-Founder and Chief Data Officer for Parcl, says:

“In the absence of trustworthy, up-to-date information, real estate decisions are increasingly being driven by fear, uncertainty, and doubt.”

Don’t let fear or uncertainty change your plans. If you’re unsure about where prices are headed or how to make sense of what’s going on in today’s housing market, reach out to a local real estate professional for the guidance you need each step of the way.

Bottom Line

The housing market is shifting, and it’s a confusing place right now. Let’s connect so you have a trusted real estate professional to help you make confident and informed decisions about what’s happening in our market.

Oct. 24, 2022

Should You Still Buy a Home with the Latest News About Inflation?

Should You Still Buy a Home with the Latest News About Inflation? | Simplifying The Market

While the Federal Reserve is working hard to bring down inflation, the latest data shows the inflation rate is still high, remaining around 8%. This news impacted the stock market and added fuel to the fire for conversations about a recession.

You’re likely feeling the impact in your day-to-day life as you watch the cost of goods and services climb. The pinch it’s creating on your wallet and the looming economic uncertainty may leave you wondering: “should I still buy a home right now?” If that question is top of mind for you, here’s what you need to know.

Homeownership Is Historically a Great Hedge Against Inflation

In an inflationary economy, prices rise across the board. Historically, homeownership is a great hedge against those rising costs because you can lock in what’s likely your largest monthly payment (your mortgage) for the duration of your loan. That helps stabilize some of your monthly expenses. James Royal, Senior Wealth Management Reporter at Bankrateexplains:

A fixed-rate mortgage allows you to maintain the biggest portion of housing expenses at the same payment. Sure, property taxes will rise and other expenses may creep up, but your monthly housing payment remains the same.”

And with rents being as high as they are, the ability to stabilize your monthly payments and protect yourself from future rent hikes may be even more important. Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at the National Association of Realtors (NAR), explains what happened to rents in the latest inflation report:

“Inflation refuses to budge. In September, consumer prices rose by 8.2%. Rents rose by 7.2%, the highest pace in 40 years.”

When you rent, your monthly payment is determined by your lease, which typically renews on an annual basis. With inflation high, your landlord may be more likely to increase your payments to offset the impact of inflation. That may be part of the reason why a survey from realtor.com shows 72% of landlords said they plan to raise the rent on one or more of their properties in the next year.

Becoming a homeowner, if you’re ready and able to do so, can provide lasting stability and a reliable shelter in times of economic uncertainty.

Bottom Line

The best hedge against inflation is a fixed housing cost. If you’re ready to learn more and start your journey to homeownership, let’s connect.

Oct. 24, 2022

The Latest on Supply and Demand in Housing

The Latest on Supply and Demand in Housing | Simplifying The Market

Over the past two years, the substantial imbalance of low housing supply and high buyer demand pushed home sales and buyer competition to new heights. But this year, things are shifting as supply and demand reach an inflection point.

The graph below helps tell the story of just how different things are today.

The Latest on Supply and Demand in Housing | Simplifying The Market

This year, buyer demand has eased as higher mortgage rates and mounting economic uncertainty moderated the market. This slowdown in demand is clear when you look at the red bar on the graph. It uses the latest data from ShowingTime to illustrate how showings (an indicator of buyer demand) have softened by just over 12% compared to the same time last year.

Now for a look at how housing supply has changed, turn to the green bar. It uses data from realtor.com to show active listings are up nearly 27% compared to last year. That’s because the moderation of demand allowed housing inventory to increase in 2022.

What Does This Inflection Point Mean for Buyers?

If you’re thinking of buying a home, you’ll have less competition and more options than you would have had last year. Enjoy having more homes to choose from in your home search and lean on a trusted real estate professional to understand how the increase in supply has also increased your negotiation power. That professional can talk you through the opportunities and challenges buyers face in today’s shifting market. You may be surprised to find they’re different than they were a year ago.

What Does This Inflection Point Mean for Sellers?

If you’re looking to sell your house, know that inventory is still low overall. That means, if you work with an agent to price your house based on current market value, it will still sell despite the inventory gains and moderating buyer demand this year. That’s because there are still buyers out there who want to move, and your house may be exactly what they’re looking for.

Bottom Line

If you’re thinking of buying or selling a home, the best place to turn to for information on today’s supply and demand is a trusted real estate professional. Let’s connect so you know what’s happening in our local market and what that means for you.