One key question that’s top of mind for homebuyers this year is: why is it so hard to find a house to buy? The truth is, we’re in the ultimate sellers’ market, so real estate is ultra-competitive for buyers right now. The number of buyers searching for a home greatly outweighs how many homes are available for sale.
While low inventory in the housing market isn’t new, it’s a challenge that continues to grow over time. Here’s a look at two reasons why today’s housing supply is low and what that means for you.
1. New Home Construction Fell Behind for Several Years
The graph below shows new home construction for single-family homes over the past five decades, including the long-term average for housing units completed. Builders exceeded that average during the housing bubble (shown in red on the graph). The result was an oversupply of homes on the market, so home values declined. That was one of the factors that led to the housing crash back in 2008.
Since then, the level of new home construction has fallen off. For the last 13 straight years, builders haven’t been able to construct enough homes to meet the historical average (as illustrated in green on the graph). That underbuilding left us with a multi-year inventory deficit going into the pandemic.
2. The Pandemic’s Impact on the Housing Market
Then, when the pandemic hit, it fueled a renewed appreciation and focus on the meaning of home. Having a safe space to live, work, school, and exercise became even more important for Americans throughout the country. So, as mortgage rates dropped to at or below 3%, buyers eagerly entered the market looking to capitalize on those low rates to secure a home that would fulfill their changing needs. At the same time, sellers hesitated to put their houses on the market as concerns about the pandemic mounted.
The result? The number of homes available for sale dropped even further. A recent article from realtor.com explains:
“Last month, the number of home listings dropped 26.8% compared with the same time a year earlier. This meant there were about 177,000 fewer homes listed in what’s already typically a slower month due to the holidays and colder weather. . . .”
What Does All of This Mean for You?
For a buyer, low inventory can be a challenge. You want to find the home of your dreams, and you don’t want to settle. But what if there just aren’t that many homes to choose from?
There is some good news. Experts are projecting more homes will soon become available thanks to sellers re-entering the market. Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at realtor.com, shares this hope, but offers perspective:
“We expect that we’ll start to see a turnaround and inventory will stabilize and start to go up a little bit in 2022. . . . But that means we’re looking at inventory levels of roughly half of what we saw before the pandemic. For buyers, the market is likely to continue to move fast. If you see a home you like, you want to jump on it right away.”
Basically, inventory is still low, even though more homes are coming. But you shouldn’t put your plans on hold because you’re waiting for those additional houses to hit the market. Instead, stick with your search and persevere through today’s low inventory. You can find your next home if you’re patient and focused.
Remember your goals and why finding a home is so important. Those things should be the driving force behind your search. Share them with your agent and be clear about your priorities. Your trusted advisor is your greatest support as you navigate today’s low housing supply to find the home of your dreams.
If you’re planning to buy this year, the key to success will be patience given today’s low inventory. Let’s connect to discuss what’s happening in our area, what homes are available, and why it’s still worthwhile to prioritize your home search today.
Last week, the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate from Freddie Mac jumped from 3.22% to 3.45%. That’s the highest point it’s been in almost two years. If you’re thinking about buying a home, this news may have come as a bit of a shock. But the truth is, it wasn’t entirely unexpected. Experts have been calling for rates to rise in their 2022 projections, and the forecast is now becoming a reality. Here’s a look at the projections from Freddie Mac for this year:
- Q1 2022: 3.4%
- Q2 2022: 3.5%
- Q3 2022: 3.6%
- Q4 2022: 3.7%
As the numbers show, this jump in rates is in line with the expectations from Freddie Mac. And what they also indicate is that mortgage rates are projected to continue climbing throughout the year. But should you be worried about rising mortgage rates? What does that really mean for you?
As rates increase even modestly, they impact your monthly mortgage payment and overall affordability. If you’re looking to buy a home, rising mortgage rates should be an incentive to act sooner rather than later.
The good news is, even though rates are climbing, they’re still worth taking advantage of. Historical data shows that today’s rate, even at 3.45%, is still well below the average for each of the last five decades (see chart below):
That means you still have a great opportunity to buy now with a rate that’s better than what your loved ones may have paid in decades past. If you buy a home while rates are in the mid-3s, your monthly mortgage payment will be locked in at that rate for the life of your loan. As you can see from the chart above, a lot can change in that time frame. Buying now is a great way to protect yourself from rising costs and future rate increases while also securing your payment amount for the long term.
Nadia Evangelou, Senior Economist and Director of Forecasting at the National Association of Realtors (NAR), says:
“Mortgage rates surged in the second week of the new year. The 30-year fixed mortgage rate rose to 3.45% from 3.22% the previous week. If inflation continues to grow at the current pace, rates will move up even faster in the following months.”
Mortgage rates are increasing, and they’re forecast to be even higher by the end of 2022. If you’re planning to buy this year, acting soon may be your most affordable option. Let’s connect to start the homebuying process today.
If you’re following along with the news today, you’re probably hearing a lot about record-breaking home prices, rising consumer costs, supply chain constraints, and more. And if you’re thinking about purchasing a home this year, all of these inflationary concerns are likely making you wonder if you should wait to buy. Investopedia explains that during a period of high inflation, prices rise across the board. And while home prices aren’t immune from this increase, here’s why inflation shouldn’t stop you from buying a home in 2022.
Homeownership Offers Stability and Security
Home prices have been increasing for quite some time, and experts say they’re going to continue to climb throughout 2022. So, as a buyer, how can you protect yourself from rising costs for things like food, shelter, entertainment, and other goods and services? The answer lies in housing.
Buying a home allows you to lock in your monthly mortgage payment for the foreseeable future. That means as other prices rise, your monthly payment will be consistent thanks to your fixed-rate mortgage. This gives you the peace of mind that the bulk of your housing costs is shielded from inflation.
James Royal, Senior Wealth Management Reporter at Bankrate, says:
“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.”
If you rent, you don’t have that same benefit and you won’t be protected from rising housing costs. As an added incentive to buy, consider that today’s mortgage interest rates are lower than they have been in decades. While inflation decreases what your dollars can buy, low mortgage rates help counteract it by boosting your purchasing power so you can get more home for your money. They also help keep your monthly payments down. This is especially important during an inflationary period because you’ll want to protect yourself from the impact of inflation as much as possible.
Ali Wolf, Chief Economist at Zonda, explains:
“If you have cash and are expecting inflation, you want to think through where you can put your money so it does not lose value. Housing is commonly looked at as a good inflation hedge, especially with interest rates so low.”
The best hedge against inflation is a fixed housing cost. That’s why you shouldn’t let it stop you from buying a home this year. Not sure where to start? Let’s connect so you have expert advice and help throughout every step of the homebuying process.
As you set out on your homebuying journey, you likely have a plan in place, and you’re working on saving for your purchase. But do you know how much you actually need for your down payment?
If you think you have to put 20% down, you may have set your goal based on a common misconception. Freddie Mac says:
“The most damaging down payment myth—since it stops the homebuying process before it can start—is the belief that 20% is necessary.”
Unless specified by your loan type or lender, it’s typically not required to put 20% down. According to the Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the median down payment hasn’t been over 20% since 2005. It may sound surprising, but today, that number is only 13%. And it’s even lower for first-time homebuyers, whose median down payment is only 7% (see graph below):
What Does This Mean for You?
While a down payment of 20% or more does have benefits, the typical buyer is putting far less down. That’s good news for you because it means you could be closer to your homebuying dream than you realize.
If you’re interested in learning more about low down payment options, there are several places to go. There are programs for qualified buyers with down payments as low as 3.5%. There are also options like VA loans and USDA loans with no down payment requirements for qualified applicants.
To understand your options, you need to do your homework. If you’re interested in learning more about down payment assistance programs, information is available through sites like downpaymentresource.com. Be sure to also work with a real estate advisor from the start to learn what you may qualify for in the homebuying process.
Remember: a 20% down payment isn’t always required. If you want to purchase a home this year, let’s connect to start the conversation and explore your down payment options.
As a buyer in a sellers’ market, sometimes it can feel like you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. When you’re ready to make an offer on a home, remember these five easy tips to help you rise above the competition.
1. Know Your Budget
Knowing your budget and what you can afford is critical to your success as a homebuyer. The best way to understand your numbers is to work with a lender so you can get pre-approved for a loan. As Freddie Mac puts it:
“This pre-approval allows you to look for a home with greater confidence and demonstrates to the seller that you are a serious buyer.”
Showing sellers you’re serious can give you a competitive edge, and it helps you act quickly when you’ve found your perfect home.
2. Be Ready To Move Fast
Homes are selling quickly in today’s competitive housing market. According to the Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR):
“Eighty-three percent of homes sold in November 2021 were on the market for less than a month.”
When houses are selling this fast, staying on top of the market and moving quickly are key. Your agent can help you put together and submit your best offer as soon as you find the home you want to buy.
3. Lean on a Real Estate Professional
No matter what the housing market looks like, rely on a trusted real estate advisor. As Freddie Mac also notes:
“The success of your homebuying journey largely depends on the company you keep. . . . Be sure to select experienced, trusted professionals who will help you make informed decisions and avoid any pitfalls.”
Agents are experts in the local real estate market. They have insight into what’s worked for other buyers in your area and what sellers may be looking for in an offer. It may seem simple, but catering to what a seller needs can help your offer stand out.
4. Make a Strong, but Fair Offer
According to the latest Realtors Confidence Index from NAR, 40% of offers today are above the list price. In such a competitive market, emotions and prices can run high. Having an agent to help you submit a strong, yet fair offer is critical in these situations. Your agent can help you understand the market value of the home and recent sales trends in the area.
5. Be a Flexible Negotiator
When putting together an offer, your trusted real estate advisor will help you consider which levers you can pull, including contract contingencies (conditions you set that the seller must meet for the purchase to be finalized). Of course, there are certain contingencies you don’t want to give up. Freddie Mac explains:
“Resist the temptation to waive the inspection contingency, especially in a hot market or if the home is being sold ‘as-is’, which means the seller won’t pay for repairs. Without an inspection contingency, you could be stuck with a contract on a house you can’t afford to fix.”
Today’s competitive landscape makes it more important than ever to make a strong offer on a home. Let’s connect to make sure you rise to the top along the way.
Once you’ve found your dream home and applied for a mortgage, there are some key things to keep in mind before you close. It’s exciting to start thinking about moving in and decorating your new place, but before you make any large purchases, move your money around, or make any major life changes, be sure to consult your lender – someone who’s qualified to explain how your financial decisions may impact your home loan.
Here’s a list of things you shouldn’t do after applying for a mortgage. They’re all important to know – or simply just good reminders – for the process.
1. Don’t Deposit Cash into Your Bank Accounts Before Speaking with Your Bank or Lender.
Lenders need to source your money, and cash isn’t easily traceable. Before you deposit any amount of cash into your accounts, discuss the proper way to document your transactions with your loan officer.
2. Don’t Make Any Large Purchases Like a New Car or Furniture for Your Home.
New debt comes with new monthly obligations. New obligations create new qualifications. People with new debt have higher debt-to-income ratios. Since higher ratios make for riskier loans, qualified borrowers may end up no longer qualifying for their mortgage.
3. Don’t Co-Sign Other Loans for Anyone.
When you co-sign, you’re obligated. With that obligation comes higher debt-to-income ratios as well. Even if you promise you won’t be the one making the payments, your lender will have to count the payments against you.
4. Don’t Change Bank Accounts.
Remember, lenders need to source and track your assets. That task is much easier when there’s consistency among your accounts. Before you transfer any money, speak with your loan officer.
5. 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 impacted. Lower credit scores can determine your interest rate and possibly even your eligibility for approval.
6. Don’t Close Any Credit Accounts.
Many buyers believe having less available credit makes them less risky and more likely to be approved. This isn’t true. 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 of those determinants of your score.
Any blip in income, assets, or credit should be reviewed and executed in a way that ensures your home loan can still be approved. If your job or employment status has changed recently, share that with your lender as well. The best plan is to fully disclose and discuss your intentions with your loan officer before you do anything financial in nature.