3 Questions You Need To Ask Before Buying A Home

3 Questions You Need To Ask Before Buying A Home

If you are debating purchasing a home right now, you are probably getting a lot of advice. Though your friends and family have your best interests at heart, they may not be fully aware of your needs and what is currently happening in the real estate market.

Ask yourself the following three questions to help determine if now is a good time for you to buy in today’s market.

1. Why am I buying a home in the first place?

This is truly the most important question to answer. Forget the finances for a minute. Why did you even begin to consider purchasing a home? For most, the reason has nothing to do with money.

For example, a study by realtor.com found that “73% said buying in a good school district was “important” in their search.

This report supports a study by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University which revealed that the top four reasons Americans buy a home have nothing to do with money. The actual reasons are:

  • A good place to raise children and provide them with a good education
  • A place where you and your family feel safe
  • More space for you and your family
  • Control of that space

What does owning a home mean to you? What non-financial benefits will you and your family gain from owning a home? The answer to that question should be the biggest reason you decide to purchase or not.

2. Where are home values headed?

According to the latest Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the median price of homes sold in February (the latest data available) was $249,500. This is up 3.6% from last year. The increase also marks the 84th consecutive month with year-over-year gains.

Looking at home prices year over year, CoreLogic is forecasting an increase of 4.6%. In other words, a home that costs you $250,000 today will cost you an additional $11,500 if you wait until next year to buy it.

What does that mean to you?

Simply put, with prices increasing, it may cost you more if you wait until next year to buy. Your down payment will also need to be higher in order to account for the higher price of the home you wish to buy.

3. Where are mortgage interest rates headed?

A buyer must be concerned about more than just prices. The ‘long-term cost’ of a home can be dramatically impacted by even a small increase in mortgage rates.

Freddie MacFannie Maethe Mortgage Bankers Association and NAR have all projected that mortgage interest rates will increase over the next twelve months, as you can see in the chart below:

3 Questions You Need To Ask Before Buying A Home | MyKCM

Bottom Line

Only you and your family will know for certain if now is the right time to purchase a home. Answering these questions will help you make that decision.

Slaying the Largest Homebuying Myths Today

Slaying the Largest Homebuying Myths Today [INFOGRAPHIC]

Slaying the Largest Homebuying Myths Today [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

Some Highlights:

  • The average down payment for first-time homebuyers is only 6%!
  • Mortgage interest rates have been on the decline since November! Hop in now to lock in a low rate!
  • 88% of property managers raised their rents in the last 12 months!
  • The average credit score on approved loans continues to fall across many loan types!

Home Value Appreciation Stops Falling, Begins to Stabilize

 

Home Value Appreciation Stops Falling, Begins to Stabilize

Home Value Appreciation Stops Falling, Begins to Stabilize | MyKCM

The percentage of home price appreciation on a year-over-year basis has decreased each month for over a year. The question was how far annual appreciation would fall. It seems we may now have the answer.

In a recent post on the National Association of Realtors’ Economists’ Outlook Blog, it was revealed that Realtors are starting to sense that home values are beginning to stabilize and that we may see appreciation beginning to accelerate again:

“About 3,000 REALTORS® who responded to NAR’s February 2019 REALTORS Confidence Index Survey had more optimistic— although modest— home price growth expectations over the next 12 months. Respondents expect home prices to typically increase by 1.9 percent nationally, up from 1.4 percent in the January survey.”

The thinking that home appreciation has bottomed-out was also confirmed in two additional housing reports recently released:

CoreLogic Home Price Index – The analysts at CoreLogic increased their projection for home appreciation for the next twelve months to 4.7% as compared to the 4.6% they projected in their previous report.

The Home Price Expectation Survey – In the 2019 first quarter survey, the nationwide panel of over one hundred economists, real estate experts, and investment & market strategists increased their projection for home value growth in 2019 to 4.3% compared to the 3.8% increase they had projected in the fourth quarter of 2018.

Bottom Line

Agents working the business every day, one of the premier data companies in the real estate space, and one hundred housing experts all agree: home price appreciation has ended its decline and looks to be stabilizing… and may even accelerate.

Why Pet-Friendly Homes Are in High Demand

Why Pet-Friendly Homes Are in High Demand
Why Pet-Friendly Homes Are in High Demand | MyKCM
One of the many benefits of owning your own home is the freedom to find your ‘furever’ friend. By pointing out the aspects of your home that make it ‘pet-friendly’ in your listing, you’ll attract these buyers, rather than alienating the 68% of American households that have a pet!

If you are one of the many homeowners looking to list your home for sale, how do you stand out to the millions of pet parents searching for their dream home?

Whether a dog person, a cat person, or someone who prefers the company of another pet species, 99% of pet owners say that they consider their animal to be family. When finding a home, 95% of animal owners believe it is important that a housing community allows animals.

A study by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) revealed that there are many aspects of the home buying, selling and owning experience that have been greatly impacted by our love for our pets.

This should come as no surprise, as $72 billion was spent on pets in the U.S in 2018. NAR’s President William E. Brown shed some light on the impact of pet owners and their home search.

“It is important to understand the unique needs and wants of animal owners when it comes to homeownership. REALTORS® understand that when someone buys a home, they are buying it with the needs of their whole family in mind; ask pet owners, and they will enthusiastically agree that their animals are part of their family.”

The Power of Pets When Choosing the Right Home
89% of pet owners say they would not give up their pet due to a housing restriction
81% of Americans say their pets play a role in their housing situation
31% of animal owners have refused to put in an offer on a home because it wasn’t a good fit for their animals
19% of Americans say they would consider moving for their pet
12% percent have moved for their pet
New home builders have actually begun installing retractable pet gates that tuck away neatly inside door jams as a highly requested feature in new homes to attract pet-parents.

So, if you are a homeowner looking to sell in today’s pet-friendly environment, point out the features of your home that will attract pet owners:

Fully fenced in backyard – (91% of pet owners ranked this as the most important feature of a home to accommodate their pet)
Locations of dog parks/walking paths/pet-friendly beaches in the area (71% ranked this as the top feature of any neighborhood they would consider)
Proximity to veterinarians/groomers/pet supply stores (31%)
Bottom Line
Americans love their pets and will look for pet-friendly features in the home they wish to buy, so take advantage of this knowledge by pointing out your home’s ability to meet their needs.

10 Steps to Buying a Home

10 Steps to Buying a Home [INFOGRAPHIC]

10 Steps to Buying a Home [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

Some Highlights:

  • If you are thinking of buying a home, you may not know where to start.
  • Here is a simple list of 10 steps that you will go through to purchase a home.
  • Make sure to ask your agent for details about each step and what else may be required in your area!

What Credit Score Do You Need To Buy A House?

What Credit Score Do You Need To Buy A House?

What Credit Score Do You Need To Buy A House? | MyKCMThere are many misconceptions about the credit score needed to buy a house. Recently, it was reported that 24% of renters believe they need a 780-800 credit score to be considered for a mortgage. The reality is they are misinformed!

Only 25% of the Americans have a FICO® Score between 740 and 800. Here is the breakdown according to Experian:

  • 16% Very Poor (300-579)
  • 18% Fair (580-669)
  • 21% Good (670-739)
  • 25% Very Good (740-799)
  • 20% Exceptional (800-850)

Randy Hopper, Senior Vice President of Mortgage Lending for Navy Federal Credit Union said,

Just because you have a low credit score doesn’t mean you can’t purchase a home. There are a lot of options out there for consumers with low FICO® scores,”

There are many programs available with low or no credit score requirement. The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) now requires a minimum FICO® score of 580 if you want to qualify for the low down payment advantage. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) does not set a minimum credit score requirement, but most lenders require a score of at least 640Veterans Affairs (VA) loans have no credit score requirement.

As you can see, none of them are above 700!

It is true that the average FICO® score for all closed loans in January was 726, but there are plenty of people taking advantage of the low credit score requirements. Here is the average FICO® Score of closed FHA Loanssince April 2012 according to Ellie Mae:What Credit Score Do You Need To Buy A House? | MyKCMAs you can see, that number has been dropping for the last seven years. As a matter of fact, the average FHA Purchase FICO® Score reported in January 2019 was 675!

One of the challenges is that Americans are unsure about their credit score. They just assume that it is too low to qualify and do not double check. Credit.com confirmed that only 57% of individuals sought out their credit score at least once last year.

FICO® reported,

Since October 2009, the average year-over-year FICO® Score has steadily and consistently increased, from a low of 686 in 2009 to the latest high of 704 as of 2018.”

Here is the increase in the average US FICO® Score over the same period of time as the graph earlier.

What Credit Score Do You Need To Buy A House? | MyKCM

Bottom Line

At least 84% of Americans have a score that will allow them to buy a house. If you are unsure what your score is or would like to improve your score in order to become a homeowner, let’s get together to help you set a path to reach your dream!

What’s Going On With Bidding Wars?

What’s Going On with Bidding Wars?

What’s Going On with Bidding Wars? | MyKCMIn a strong seller’s market, like the one we have experienced over the past few years, bidding wars are common and expected. This makes sense! A seller’s market is defined as a market in which the inventory of homes for sale cannot satisfy the number of buyers who want to purchase a home.

According to the Cambridge English Dictionarybidding wars occur when two or more parties repeatedly outbid each other as they compete to purchase something- in this case, a home.

In some areas of the country, first-time buyers have been met with fierce competition throughout their experience. Some have been out-bid multiple times before finally winning a bid on a home to call their own.

According to the latest Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), there is currently a 3.7-month supply of homes for sale.

With the current number of houses listed for sale and the level of demand from buyers, this means it would take 3.7 months for all the homes listed to sell if no additional listings came to market. Any supply number under a 6-month supply is considered a seller’s market. According to NAR, the housing market hasn’t had a 6-month supply of homes for sale since August 2012.

Good News for Buyers

A recent report shows that the percentage of houses sold including a bidding war before settling on a final price decreased from 53% in January of 2018 to 13% this year.

One reason for the decline is an influx of homes being listed for sale. Even though the month’s supply number is not increasing, the number of homes for sale is. The chart below shows the year-over-year change in inventory over the last 12 months.

What’s Going On with Bidding Wars? | MyKCM

As you can see, the number of homes for sale has started to build over the last eight months. Prior to this reversal, inventory levels had fallen for 36 consecutive months when compared to the year before.

Danielle Hale, realtor.com’s Chief Economist, gave some insight into why bidding wars are less common on a local level this year,

“[Last year] you might have been the only listing in your neighborhood, and you could put your home up at a certain list price and you would likely see multiple offers at or above that list price. That tide is turning this year.

It’s going to depend on what neighborhood you’re in, but we expect it to be more common this year that you won’t be the only listing.”

Inventory in the luxury and premium markets (the top 25% of listings in an area by price), is increasing at a greater rate than the starter home market. As the choices buyers have continued to increase, the likelihood of a bidding war will decrease.

Bottom Line

If you are debating listing your house for sale this year, you may not want to wait for additional competition as inventory continues to rise.

7 Things to Avoid After Applying for a Mortgage!

7 Things To Avoid After Applying for a Mortgage!

7 Things To Avoid After Applying for a Mortgage! | MyKCMCongratulations! You’ve found a home to buy and have applied for a mortgage! You are undoubtedly excited about the opportunity to decorate your new home! But before you make any big purchases, move any money around, or make any big-time life changes, consult your loan officer. They will be able to tell you how your decision will impact your home loan.

Below is a list of 7 Things You Shouldn’t Do After Applying for a Mortgage! Some may seem obvious, but some may not!

1. Don’t change jobs or the way you are paid at your job! Your loan officer must be able to track the source and amount of your annual income. If possible, you’ll want to avoid changing from salary to commission or becoming self-employed during this time as well.

2. Don’t deposit cash into your bank accounts. Lenders need to source your money and cash is not really traceable. Before you deposit any amount of cash into your accounts, discuss the proper way to document your transactions with your loan officer.

3. Don’t make any large purchases like a new car or new furniture for your new home. New debt comes with it, including new monthly obligations. New obligations create new qualifications. People with new debt have higher debt to income ratios… higher ratios make for riskier loans… and sometimes qualified borrowers no longer qualify.

4. Don’t co-sign other loans for anyone. When you co-sign, you are obligated. As we mentioned, with that obligation comes higher ratios as well. Even if you swear you will not be the one making the payments, your lender will have to count the payment against you.

5. Don’t change bank accounts. Remember, lenders need to source and track assets. That task is significantly easier when there is consistency among your accounts. Before you even transfer money between accounts, talk to your loan officer.

6. Don’t apply for new credit. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a new credit card or a new car. When you have your credit report run by organizations in multiple financial channels (mortgage, credit card, auto, etc.), your FICO score will be affected. Lower credit scores can determine your interest rate and maybe even your eligibility for approval.

7. Don’t close any credit accounts. Many clients have erroneously believed that having less available credit makes them less risky and more likely to be approved. Wrong. A major component of your score is your length and depth of credit history (as opposed to just your payment history) and your total usage of credit as a percentage of available credit. Closing accounts has a negative impact on both those determinants of your score.

Bottom Line

Any blip in income, assets, or credit should be reviewed and executed in a way that ensures your home loan can still be approved. The best advice is to fully disclose and discuss your plans with your loan officer before you do anything financial in nature. They are there to guide you through the process.

4 Reasons to Buy a Home in the Spring

4 Reasons to Buy a Home in the Spring

4 Reasons to Buy a Home in the Spring | MyKCMSpring has sprung, and it’s a great time to buy a home! Here are four reasons to consider buying today instead of waiting.

1. Prices Will Continue to Rise

CoreLogic’s latest U.S. Home Price Insights reports that home prices have appreciated by 4.4% over the last 12 months. The same report predicts that prices will continue to increase at a rate of 4.6% over the next year.

Home values will continue to appreciate for years. Waiting no longer makes sense.

2. Mortgage Interest Rates Are Projected to Increase

Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey shows that interest rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage came in at 4.41% last week. Most experts predict that rates will rise over the next 12 months. The Mortgage Bankers Association, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the National Association of Realtors are in unison, projecting rates will increase by this time next year.

An increase in rates will impact YOUR monthly mortgage payment. A year from now, your housing expense will increase if a mortgage is necessary to buy your next home.

3. Either Way, You Are Paying a Mortgage

Some renters have not yet purchased a home because they are uncomfortable taking on the obligation of a mortgage. Everyone should realize that unless you are living with your parents rent-free, you are paying a mortgage – either yours or your landlord’s.

As an owner, your mortgage payment is a form of ‘forced savings’ that allows you to have equity in your home that you can tap into later in life. As a renter, you guarantee your landlord is the person with that equity.

Are you ready to put your housing cost to work for you?

4. It’s Time to Move On with Your Life

The cost of a home is determined by two major components: the price of the home and the current mortgage rate. It appears that both are on the rise.

But what if they weren’t? Would you wait?

Examine the actual reason you are buying and decide if it is worth waiting. Whether you want to have a great place for your children to grow up, greater safety for your family, or you just want to have control over renovations, now could be the time to buy.

Bottom Line

If the right thing for you and your family is to purchase a home this year, buying sooner rather than later could lead to substantial savings.

No Worries…Home Prices Coming in for a SOFT Landing

No Worries… Home Prices Coming in for a SOFT Landing

No Worries… Home Prices Coming in for a SOFT Landing | MyKCMHome prices have appreciated considerably over the last five years. This has some concerned that we may be in for another dramatic correction. However, recent statistics suggest home values will not crash as they did a decade ago. Instead, this time they will come in for a soft landing.

The previous housing market was fueled by an artificial demand created by mortgage standards that were far too lenient. When this demand was shut off, a flood of inventory came to market. This included heavily discounted distressed properties (foreclosures and short sales).

Today’s market is totally different. Mortgage standards are tighter than they were prior to the last boom and bust. There is no fear that a rush of foreclosures will come to market. The Mortgage Bankers’ Association just announced that foreclosures are lower today than at any time since 1996.

Case Shiller looks at the percentage of appreciation as compared to the same month the year prior. Here is a graph of their findings over the last ten months:

No Worries… Home Prices Coming in for a SOFT Landing | MyKCM

As we can see, home price appreciation is softening as more inventory comes to market. This shows that real estate prices are not crashing, but merely returning toward historic appreciation numbers of 3.6% annually.

Bottom Line

Home prices are leveling off. Long term, that is a good thing for the housing market.