Bergen County Real Estate and Community News

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.

Oct. 24, 2022

Tips For First-Time Homebuyers [INFOGRAPHIC]

Tips For First-Time Homebuyers [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

 

Some Highlights

  • If you’re trying to buy your first home in today’s housing market, you’ll want to know what you can do as mortgage rates rise and inventory stays low overall.
  • Connect with a lender to get pre-approved, prioritize your wish list, consider condos, and expand your search radius.
  • Your first home is out there. Let’s connect to explore your options and what other first-time buyers are doing to find their homes.
Posted in Blog, For Buyers
Oct. 24, 2022

Perspective Matters When Selling Your House Today

Perspective Matters When Selling Your House Today | Simplifying The Market

Does the latest news about the housing market have you questioning your plans to sell your house? If so, perspective is key. Here are some of the ways a trusted real estate professional can explain the shift that’s happening today and why it’s still a sellers’ market even during the cooldown.

Fewer Homes for Sale than Pre-Pandemic

While the supply of homes available for sale has increased this year compared to last, we’re still nowhere near what’s considered a balanced market. A recent article from Calculated Risk helps put this year’s increased inventory into context (see graph below):

Perspective Matters When Selling Your House Today | Simplifying The Market

It shows supply this year has surpassed 2021 levels by over 30%. But the further back you look, the more you’ll understand the big picture. Compared to 2020, we’re just barely above the level of inventory we saw then. And if you go all the way back to 2019, the last normal year in real estate, we’re roughly 40% below the housing supply we had at that time.

Why does this matter to you? When inventory is low, there is still demand for your house because there just aren’t enough homes available for sale.

Homes Are Still Selling Faster Than More Normal Years

And while homes aren’t selling as quickly as they did a few months ago, the average number of days on the market is still well below pre-pandemic norms – in large part because inventory is so low. The graph below uses data from the Realtors’ Confidence Index by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) to illustrate this trend:

Perspective Matters When Selling Your House Today | Simplifying The Market

As the graph shows, the pre-pandemic numbers (shown in blue) are higher than the numbers we saw during the pandemic (shown in green). That’s because the average days on the market started to decrease as homes sold at record pace during the pandemic. Most recently, due to the cooldown in the housing market, the average days on the market have started to tick back up slightly (shown in orange) but are still far below the pre-pandemic norm.

What does this mean for you? While it may not be as fast as it was a couple of months ago, homes are still selling much faster than they did in more normal, pre-pandemic years. And if you price it right, your home could still go under contract quickly.

Buyer Demand Has Moderated and Is Now in Line with More Typical Years

Buyer demand has softened this year in response to rising mortgage rates. But again, perspective is key. Getting 3-5 offers like sellers did during the pandemic isn’t the norm. The graph below uses data from NAR going back to 2018 to help tell the story of this shift over time (see graph below):

Perspective Matters When Selling Your House Today | Simplifying The Market

Prior to the pandemic, it was typical for homes sold to see roughly 2-2.5 offers (shown in blue). As the market heated up during the pandemic, the average number of offers skyrocketed as record-low mortgage rates drove up demand (shown in green). But most recently, the number of offers on homes sold today (shown in orange) has started to return to pre-pandemic levels as the market cools from the frenzy.

What’s the takeaway for you? Buyer demand has moderated from the pandemic peak, but it hasn’t disappeared. The buyers are still out there, and if you price your house at current market value, you’ll still be able sell your house today.

Bottom Line

If you have questions about selling your house in today’s housing market, let’s connect. That way you have context around what’s happening now, so you’re up to date on what you can expect when you’re ready to move.

 

Oct. 24, 2022

Three Things Buyers Can Do in Today’s Housing Market

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

If you’re looking to buy a home, you probably want to secure the lowest interest rate possible for your home loan. Over the last couple of years, that was easier to do as the housing market saw record-low mortgage rates, but this year rates have risen dramatically.

If you’re looking for ways to combat today’s higher rates and lock in the lowest one you can, here are a few factors to focus on. Since approval opportunities can vary, connect with a trusted lender for customized advice.

Your Credit Score

Credit scores can play a big role in your mortgage rate. Freddie Mac explains:

When you build and maintain strong credit, mortgage lenders have greater confidence when qualifying you for a mortgage because they see that you’ve paid back your loans as agreed and used your credit wisely. Strong credit also means your lender is more apt to approve you for a mortgage that has more favorable terms and a lower interest rate.”

That’s why it’s important to maintain a good credit score. If you want to focus on improving your score, your trusted advisor can give you expert advice to help.

Your Loan Type

There are many types of loans, each offering different terms for qualified buyers. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) says:

There are several broad categories of mortgage loans, such as conventional, FHA, USDA, and VA loans. Lenders decide which products to offer, and loan types have different eligibility requirements. Rates can be significantly different depending on what loan type you choose.”

When working with your real estate advisor, make sure you find out what’s available in your area and which types of loans you may qualify for.

Your Loan Term

Another factor to consider is the term of your loan. Just like with location and loan types, you have options. Freddie Mac says:

When choosing the right home loan for you, it’s important to consider the loan term, which is the length of time it will take you to repay your loan before you fully own your home. Your loan term will affect your interest rate, monthly payment, and the total amount of interest you will pay over the life of the loan.”

Depending on your situation, the length of your loan can also change your mortgage rate.

Your Down Payment

If you’re a current homeowner looking to sell and make a move, you can use the home equity you’ve built over time toward the down payment on your next home. The CFPB explains:

In general, a larger down payment means a lower interest rate, because lenders see a lower level of risk when you have more stake in the property. So if you can comfortably put 20 percent or more down, do it—you’ll usually get a lower interest rate.”

To learn more, connect with a lender to find out the difference a higher down payment can make for your new mortgage.

Bottom Line

These are just few factors that can help determine your mortgage rate if you’re buying a home. The best thing you can do is have a team of professionals on your side. Connect with a local real estate professional and a trusted lender so you have the expert advice you need in each step of the process.

Oct. 17, 2022

What Are Experts Saying About the Fall Housing Market?

What Are Experts Saying About the Fall Housing Market? | Simplifying The Market

The housing market is rapidly changing from the peak frenzy it saw over the past two years. That means you probably have questions about what your best move is if you’re thinking of buying or selling this fall.

To help you make a confident decision, lean on the professionals for insights. Here are a few things experts are saying about the fall housing market.

Expert Quotes for Fall Homebuyers

A recent article from realtor.com:

This fall, a more moderate pace of home selling, more listings to choose from, and softening price growth will provide some breathing room for buyers searching for a home during what is typically the best time to buy a home.”

Michael Lane, VP and General Manager, ShowingTime:

Buyers will continue to see less competition for homes and have more time to tour homes they like and consider their options.” 

Expert Quotes for Fall Sellers

Selma Hepp, Interim Lead of the Office of the Chief Economist, CoreLogic:

“. . . record equity continues to provide fuel for housing demand, particularly if households are relocating to more affordable areas.”

Danielle Hale, Chief Economist, realtor.com:

“For homeowners deciding whether to make a move this year, remember that listing prices – while lower than a few months ago – remain higher than in prior years, so you’re still likely to find opportunities to cash-in on record-high levels of equity, particularly if you’ve owned your home for a longer period of time.”

Bottom Line

Mortgage rates, home prices, and the supply of homes for sale are top of mind for buyers and sellers today. And if you want the latest information for our area, let’s connect today.

Oct. 10, 2022

Saving for a Down Payment? Here’s What You Should Know.

Saving for a Down Payment? Here’s What You Should Know. | Simplifying The Market

As you set out to buy a home, saving for a down payment is likely top of mind. But you may still have questions about the process, including how much to save and where to start.

If that sounds like you, your down payment could be more in reach than you originally thought. Here’s why.

The 20% Down Payment Myth

If you believe you have to put 20% down on a home, you may have based your goal on a common misconception. Freddie Mac explains:

“. . . nearly a third of prospective homebuyers think they need a down payment of 20% or more to buy a home. This myth remains one of the largest perceived barriers to achieving homeownership.”

Unless it’s specified by your loan type or lender, it’s typically not required to put 20% down. According to the latest Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the median down payment hasn’t been over 20% since 2005. There are even loan types, like FHA loans, with down payments as low as 3.5%, as well as options like VA loans and USDA loans with no down payment requirements for qualified applicants.

This is good news for you because it means you could be closer to your homebuying dream than you realize. For more information, turn to a trusted lender.

Down Payment Assistance Programs Can Be a Game Changer

A professional will be able to show you other options that could help you get closer to your down payment goal. According to latest Homeownership Program Index from downpaymentresource.com, there are over 2,000 homebuyer assistance programs in the U.S., and the majority are intended to help with down payments.

A recent article explains why programs like these are helpful:

These resources can immediately build your home buying power and help you take action sooner than you thought possible.”

And if you’re wondering if you have to be a first-time buyer to qualify for these programs, that’s not always the case. According to an article from downpaymentresource.com:

“It is a common misconception that homebuyer assistance is only available to first-time homebuyers, however, 38% of homebuyer assistance programs in Q1 2022 did not have a first-time homebuyer requirement.

There are also location and profession-based programs you could qualify for as well.

Bottom Line

Saving for your down payment is an important first step on your homebuying journey. Let’s connect today and make sure you have a trusted lender to help explore your options.

Posted in Blog, For Buyers
Oct. 10, 2022

The Journey To Buy a Home [INFOGRAPHIC]

The Journey To Buy a Home [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Some Highlights

  • When you head out to buy a home, there are a number of key milestones you’ll encounter along the way.
  • The process includes everything from building your team and understanding your finances to going house hunting, making an offer, and more.
  • Your journey starts here. Let’s connect so you have expert guidance each step of the way.
Posted in Blog, For Buyers
Oct. 10, 2022

Two Questions Every Homebuyer Should Ask Themselves Right Now

Two Questions Every Homebuyer Should Ask Themselves Right Now | Simplifying The Market

Rising interest rates have begun to slow an overheated housing market as monthly mortgage payments have risen dramatically since the beginning of the year. This is leaving some people who want to purchase a home priced out of the market and others wondering if now is the time to buy one. But this rise in borrowing cost shows no signs of letting up soon.

Economic uncertainty and the volatility of the financial markets are causing mortgage rates to rise. George Ratiu, Senior Economist and Manager of Economic Research at realtor.comsays this:

“While even two months ago rates above 7% may have seemed unthinkable, at the current pace, we can expect rates to surpass that level in the next three months.”

So, is now the right time to buy a home? Anyone thinking about buying a home today should ask themselves two questions:

1. Where Do I Think Home Prices Are Heading?

There are two places to turn to answer this question. First is the consensus of what experts are saying. If you look at what experts are projecting for home prices in 2023, they’re forecasting home price appreciation around 2%. While it’s true some are calling for depreciation, most are calling for appreciation in home values over the next year.

The second spot to turn to for information is the Home Price Expectation Survey from Pulsenomics – a survey of a national panel of over one hundred economists, real estate experts, and investment and market strategists. According to the latest release, the experts surveyed are also calling for home price appreciation for the next several years (see graph below):

Two Questions Every Homebuyer Should Ask Themselves Right Now | Simplifying The Market

2. Where Do I Think Interest Rates Are Heading?

Like mentioned above, Ratiu sees mortgage rates rising over the next several months. Another expert agrees. Mark Fleming, Chief Economist at First Americansays:

“While mortgage rates are expected to continue to drift higher over the coming months, much of the rapid increase in rates is likely behind us.” 

The instability in the world and higher inflation are driving this volatile market, resulting in higher borrowing rates for those looking to buy homes.

Bottom Line

If you’re thinking about buying a home, asking yourself about home prices and mortgage rates will help you make a powerful and confident decision. Experts see both prices and rates rising in the future. The alternative is to rent, but rents are also increasing. That may mean buying a home makes more sense than renting.

Oct. 10, 2022

The Long-Term Benefit of Homeownership

The Long-Term Benefit of Homeownership | Simplifying The Market

Today’s cooling housing market, the rise in mortgage rates, and mounting economic concerns have some people questioning: should I still buy a home this year? While it’s true this year has unique challenges for homebuyers, it’s important to factor the long-term benefits of homeownership into your decision.

Consider this: if you know people who bought a home 5, 10, or even 30 years ago, you’re probably going to have a hard time finding someone who regrets their decision. Why is that? The reason is tied to how you gain equity and wealth as home values grow with time.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) explains:

“Home equity gains are built up through price appreciation and by paying off the mortgage through principal payments.

Here’s a look at how just the home price appreciation piece can really add up over the years.

Home Price Growth Over Time

Even though home price appreciation has moderated this year, home values have still increased significantly in recent years. The map below uses data from the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) to show just how noteworthy those gains have been over the last five years.

The Long-Term Benefit of Homeownership | Simplifying The Market

If you look at the percent change in home prices, you can see home prices grew on average by almost 64% nationwide over that period. 

That means a home’s value can increase substantially in a short time. And if you expand that time frame even more, the benefit of homeownership and the drastic gains you stand to make become even clearer (see map below):

The Long-Term Benefit of Homeownership | Simplifying The Market

The second map shows, nationwide, home prices appreciated by an average of over 290% over roughly a thirty-year span.

While home price growth varies by state and local area, the nationwide average tells you the typical homeowner who bought a house thirty years ago saw their home almost triple in value over that time. This is why homeowners who bought their homes years ago are still happy with their decision.

Even if home price appreciation eases as the market cools this year, experts say home prices are still expected to appreciate nationally in 2023. That means, in most markets, your home should grow in value over the next year even if the pace is slower than it was during the peak market frenzy when prices skyrocketed.

The alternative to buying a home is renting, and rental prices have been climbing for decades. So why rent and fight annual lease hikes for no long-term financial benefit? Instead, consider buying a home. It’s an investment in your future that could set you up for long-term gains.

Bottom Line

Don’t let the shifting market delay your dreams. Data shows home values typically appreciate over time, and that gives your net worth a nice boost. If you’re ready to start your journey to homeownership, let’s connect today.