Bergen County Real Estate and Community News

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.

Feb. 16, 2021

3 Reasons We’re Definitely Not in a Housing Bubble

3 Reasons We’re Definitely Not in a Housing Bubble | Simplifying The Market

 

Home values appreciated by about ten percent in 2020, and they’re forecast to appreciate by about five percent this year. This has some voicing concern that we may be in another housing bubble like the one we experienced a little over a decade ago. Here are three reasons why this market is totally different.

1. This time, housing supply is extremely limited

The price of any market item is determined by supply and demand. If supply is high and demand is low, prices normally decrease. If supply is low and demand is high, prices naturally increase.

In real estate, supply and demand are measured in “months’ supply of inventory,” which is based on the number of current homes for sale compared to the number of buyers in the market. The normal months’ supply of inventory for the market is about 6 months. Anything above that defines a buyers’ market, indicating prices will soften. Anything below that defines a sellers’ market in which prices normally appreciate.

Between 2006 and 2008, the months’ supply of inventory increased from just over 5 months to 11 months. The months’ supply was over 7 months in twenty-seven of those thirty-six months, yet home values continued to rise.

Months’ inventory has been under 5 months for the last 3 years, under 4 for thirteen of the last fourteen months, under 3 for the last six months, and currently stands at 1.9 months – a historic low.

Remember, if supply is low and demand is high, prices naturally increase.

2. This time, housing demand is real

During the housing boom in the mid-2000s, there was what Robert Schiller, a fellow at the Yale School of Management’s International Center for Finance, called “irrational exuberance.” The definition of the term is, “unfounded market optimism that lacks a real foundation of fundamental valuation, but instead rests on psychological factors.” Without considering historic market trends, people got caught up in the frenzy and bought houses based on an unrealistic belief that housing values would continue to escalate.

The mortgage industry fed into this craziness by making mortgage money available to just about anyone, as shown in the Mortgage Credit Availability Index (MCAI) published by the Mortgage Bankers Association. The higher the index, the easier it is to get a mortgage; the lower the index, the more difficult it is to obtain one. Prior to the housing boom, the index stood just below 400. In 2006, the index hit an all-time high of over 868. Again, just about anyone could get a mortgage. Today, the index stands at 122.5, which is well below even the pre-boom level.

In the current real estate market, demand is real, not fabricated. Millennials, the largest generation in the country, have come of age to marry and have children, which are two major drivers for homeownership. The health crisis is also challenging every household to redefine the meaning of “home” and to re-evaluate whether their current home meets that new definition. This desire to own, coupled with historically low mortgage rates, makes purchasing a home today a strong, sound financial decision. Therefore, today’s demand is very real.

Remember, if supply is low and demand is high, prices naturally increase.

3. This time, households have plenty of equity

Again, during the housing boom, it wasn’t just purchasers who got caught up in the frenzy. Existing homeowners started using their homes like ATM machines. There was a wave of cash-out refinances, which enabled homeowners to leverage the equity in their homes. From 2005 through 2007, Americans pulled out $824 billion dollars in equity. That left many homeowners with little or no equity in their homes at a critical time. As prices began to drop, some homeowners found themselves in a negative equity situation where the mortgage was higher than the value of their home. Many defaulted on their payments, which led to an avalanche of foreclosures.

Today, the banks and the American people have shown they learned a valuable lesson from the housing crisis a little over a decade ago. Cash-out refinance volume over the last three years was less than a third of what it was compared to the 3 years leading up to the crash.

This conservative approach has created levels of equity never seen before. According to Census Bureau data, over 38% of owner-occupied housing units are owned ‘free and clear’ (without any mortgage). Also, ATTOM Data Solutions just released their fourth quarter 2020 U.S. Home Equity Report, which revealed:

“17.8 million residential properties in the United States were considered equity-rich, meaning that the combined estimated amount of loans secured by those properties was 50 percent or less of their estimated market value…The count of equity-rich properties in the fourth quarter of 2020 represented 30.2 percent, or about one in three, of the 59 million mortgaged homes in the United States.”

If we combine the 38% of homes that are owned free and clear with the 18.7% of all homes that have at least 50% equity (30.2% of the remaining 62% with a mortgage), we realize that 56.7% of all homes in this country have a minimum of 50% equity. That’s significantly better than the equity situation in 2008.

Bottom Line

This time, housing supply is at a historic low. Demand is real and rightly motivated. Even if there were to be a drop in prices, homeowners have enough equity to be able to weather a dip in home values. This is nothing like 2008. In fact, it’s the exact opposite.

Feb. 9, 2021

Do I Really Need a 20% Down Payment to Buy a Home?

 

Do I Really Need a 20% Down Payment to Buy a Home? | Simplifying The Market

 

Is the idea of saving for a down payment holding you back from buying a home right now? You may be eager to take advantage of today’s low mortgage rates, but the thought of needing a large down payment might make you want to pump the brakes. Today, there’s still a common myth that you have to come up with 20% of the total sale price for your down payment. This means people who could buy a home may be putting their plans on hold because they don’t have that much saved yet. The reality is, whether you’re looking for your first home or you’ve purchased one before, you most likely don’t need to put 20% down. Here’s why.

According to Freddie Mac:

“The most damaging down payment myth—since it stops the homebuying process before it can start—is the belief that 20% is necessary.”

If saving that much money sounds daunting, potential homebuyers might give up on the dream of homeownership before they even begin – but they don’t have to.

Data in the 2020 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) indicates that the median down payment actually hasn’t been over 20% since 2005, and even then, that was for repeat buyers, not first-time homebuyers. As the image below shows, today’s median down payment is clearly less than 20%.Do I Really Need a 20% Down Payment to Buy a Home? | Simplifying The Market

What does this mean for potential homebuyers?

As we can see, the median down payment was lowest for first-time buyers with the 2020 percentage coming in at 7%. If you’re a first-time buyer and putting down 7% still seems high, understand that there are programs that allow qualified buyers to purchase a home with a down payment as low as 3.5%. There are even options like VA loans and USDA loans with no down payment requirements for qualified applicants.

It’s important for potential homebuyers (whether they’re repeat or first-time buyers) to know they likely don’t need to put down 20% of the purchase price, but they do need to do their homework to understand the options available. Be sure to work with trusted professionals from the start to learn what you may qualify for in the homebuying process.

Bottom Line

Don’t let down payment myths keep you from hitting your homeownership goals. If you’re hoping to buy a home this year, let’s connect to review your options.

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