Is a 20% Down Payment Really Necessary To Purchase a Home?

Is a 20% Down Payment Really Necessary To Purchase a Home? | Simplifying The Market

There’s a common misconception that, as a homebuyer, you need to come up with 20% of the total sale price for your down payment. In fact, a recent survey by Lending Tree asks what is keeping consumers from purchasing a home. For over half of those surveyed, the ability to afford a down payment is the biggest hurdle.

That may be because those individuals assume a 20% down payment is necessary. While putting more money down if you’re able can benefit buyers, putting 20% down is not mandatory. As Freddie Mac puts it:

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 overwhelming, you might be ready to give up on the dream of homeownership before you even begin – but you don’t have to. 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’s average down payment is only 12%. That number is even lower for first-time homebuyers, whose average down payment is only 7%.

Based on the Home Buyers and Sellers Generational Trends Report from NAR, the graph below shows an even closer look at the down payment percentage various age groups pay:Is a 20% Down Payment Really Necessary To Purchase a Home? | Simplifying The MarketAs the graph shows, the only groups who put 20% or more down on average are older homebuyers who likely can use the sale of an existing home to fuel a larger down payment on their next home.

What does this mean for you?

If you’re a prospective homebuyer, it’s important to know you don’t have to put the full 20% down. And while saving for any down payment amount may feel like a challenge, keep in mind there are programs for qualified buyers that allow them to purchase a home with a down payment 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 do 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.

Bottom Line

Don’t let the myth of the 20% down payment halt your homebuying process before it begins. If you want to purchase a home this year, let’s connect to start the conversation and explore your options.

Remote Work Is Here To Stay. Can Your Home Deliver the Space You Need?

Remote Work Is Here To Stay. Can Your Home Deliver the Space You Need? | Simplifying The Market

A lot has changed over the past year. For many people, the rise in remote work influenced what they’re looking for in a home and created a greater appetite for a dedicated home office. Some professionals took advantage of the situation and purchased a bigger home. Other people thought working from home would be temporary, so they chose to get creative and make the space they already had work for them. But recent headlines indicate working from home isn’t a passing fad.

If you’re still longing for a dedicated home office, now may be the time to find the home that addresses your evolving needs. More and more companies are delaying their plans to return to the office – others are deciding to remain fully remote permanently. According to economists from Goldman Sachs in a recent article from CNN:

“Job ads increasingly offer remote work and surveys indicate that both workers and employers expect work from home to remain much more common than before the pandemic.”

Other experts agree. A survey conducted by Upwork of 1,000 hiring managers found that due to the pandemic, companies were planning more remote work now and in the years to come. Upwork elaborates:

“The number of remote workers in the next five years is expected to be nearly double what it was before COVID-19: By 2025, 36.2 million Americans will be remote, an increase of 16.8 million people from pre-pandemic rates.”

The charts below break down their findings and compare pre- and post-pandemic percentages.Remote Work Is Here To Stay. Can Your Home Deliver the Space You Need? | Simplifying The Market

How Does This Impact Homeowners?

If you own your home, it’s important to realize that continued remote work may give you opportunities you didn’t realize you had. Since you don’t need to be tied to a specific area for your job, you have more flexibility when it comes to where you can live.

If you’re one of the nearly 23% of workers who will remain 100% remote: 

You have the option to move to a lower cost-of-living area or to the location of your dreams. If you search for a home in a more affordable area, you’ll be able to get more home for your money, freeing up more options for your dedicated office space and additional breathing room.

You could also move to a location where you’ve always wanted to live – somewhere near the beach, the mountains, or simply a market that features the kind of weather and community amenities you’re looking for. Without your job tying you to a specific location, you’re bound to find your ideal spot.

If you’re one of the almost 15% of individuals who will have a partially remote or hybrid schedule:

Relocating within your local area to a home that’s further away from your office could be a great choice. Since you won’t be going in to work every day, a slightly longer commute from a more suburban or rural neighborhood may be a worthy trade-off for a home with more features, space, or comforts.

Bottom Line

If ongoing remote work is changing what you need in a home, let’s connect to find one that delivers on your new wish list.

Is It Time To Move on to a New Home?

Is It Time To Move on to a New Home? | Simplifying The Market

If you’ve been in your home for longer than five years, you’re not alone. According to recent data from First American, homeowners are staying put much longer than historical averages (see graph below):Is It Time To Move on to a New Home? | Simplifying The MarketAs the graph shows, before 2008, homeowners sold their houses after an average of just five years. Today, that number has more than doubled to over 10 years. The housing industry refers to this as your tenure.

To really explore tenure, it’s important to understand what drives people to make a move. An article from The Balance explores some of the primary reasons individuals choose to sell their houses. It says:

“People who move for home-related reasons might need a larger home or a house that better fits their needs, . . . Financial reasons for moving include wanting a nicer home, moving to a newer home to avoid making repairs on the old one, or cashing in on existing equity.”

If you’ve been in your home for longer than the norm, chances are you’re putting off addressing one, if not several, of the reasons other individuals choose to move. If this sounds like you, here are a few things to consider:

If your needs have changed, it may be time to re-evaluate your home.

As the past year has shown, our needs can change rapidly. That means the longer you’ve been in your home, the more likely it is your needs have evolved. The Balance notes several personal factors that could lead to your home no longer meeting your needs, including relationship and job changes.

For example, many workers recently found out they’ll be working remotely indefinitely. If that’s the case for you, you may need more space for a dedicated home office. Other homeowners choose to sell because the number of people living under their roof changes. Now more than ever, we’re spending more and more time at home. As you do, consider if your home really delivers on what you need moving forward.

It’s often financially beneficial to sell your house and move.

One of the biggest benefits of homeownership is the equity your home builds over time. If you’ve been in your house for several years, you may not realize how much equity you have. According to the latest Homeowner Equity Report from CoreLogic, homeowners gained an average of $33,400 in equity over the past year.

That equity, plus today’s low mortgage rates, can fuel a major upgrade when you sell your home and purchase a new one. Or, if you’re looking to downsize, your equity can help provide a larger down payment and lower your monthly payments over the life of your next loan. No matter what, there are significant financial benefits to selling in today’s market.

Bottom Line

If you’ve been in your home for 5-10 years or more, now might be the time to explore your options. Today’s low rates and your built-up equity could provide you with the opportunity to address your evolving needs. If you feel it’s time to sell, let’s connect.

Have You Ever Seen a Housing Market Like This? [INFOGRAPHIC]

Have You Ever Seen a Housing Market Like This? [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Have You Ever Seen a Housing Market Like This? [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Some Highlights

  • Whether you’re buying or selling – today’s housing market has plenty of good news to go around.
  • Buyers can take advantage of today’s mortgage rates to escape rising rents and keep monthly payments affordable. Sellers can reap the benefits of multiple offers and a fast sale.
  • If this sounds like good news to you, let’s connect today so you can capitalize on the unique opportunity you have in today’s market.

Is the Number of Homes for Sale Finally Growing?

Is the Number of Homes for Sale Finally Growing? | Simplifying The Market

An important metric in today’s residential real estate market is the number of homes available for sale. The shortage of available housing inventory is the major reason for the double-digit price appreciation we’ve seen in each of the last two years. It’s the reason many would-be purchasers are frustrated with the bidding wars over the homes that are available. However, signs of relief are finally appearing.

According to data from realtor.com, active listings have increased over the last four months. They define active listings as:

The active listing count tracks the number of for sale properties on the market, excluding pending listings where a pending status is available. This is a snapshot measure of how many active listings can be expected on any given day of the specified month.”

What normally happens throughout the year?

Historically, housing inventory increases throughout the summer months, starts to tail off in the fall, and then drops significantly over the winter. The graph below shows this trend along with the month active listings peaked in 2017, 2018, and 2019.Is the Number of Homes for Sale Finally Growing? | Simplifying The Market

What happened last year?

Last year, the trend was different. Historical seasonality wasn’t repeated in 2020 since many homeowners held off on putting their houses up for sale because of the pandemic (see graph below). In 2020, active listings peaked in April, and then fell off dramatically for the remainder of the year.Is the Number of Homes for Sale Finally Growing? | Simplifying The Market

What’s happening this year?

Due to the decline of active listings in 2020, 2021 began with record-low housing inventory counts. However, we’ve been building inventory over the last several months as more listings come to the market (see graph below):Is the Number of Homes for Sale Finally Growing? | Simplifying The MarketThere are three main reasons we may see listings continue to increase throughout this fall and into the winter.

  1. Pent-up selling demand – Homeowners may be more comfortable putting their homes on the market as more and more Americans get vaccinated.
  2. New construction is starting to take off – Though new construction is not included in the realtor.com numbers, as more new homes are built, there will be more options for current homeowners to consider when they sell. The lack of options has slowed many potential sellers in the past.
  3. The end of forbearance will create some new listings – Most experts believe the end of the forbearance program will not lead to a wave of foreclosures for several reasons. The main reason is the level of equity homeowners currently have in their homes. Many homeowners will be able to sell their homes instead of going to foreclosure, which will lead to some additional listings on the market.

Bottom Line

If you’re in the market to buy a home, stick with it. There are new listings becoming available every day. If you’re thinking of selling your house, you may want to list your home before this additional competition comes to market.

5 Tips for Making Your Best Offer

5 Tips for Making Your Best Offer | Simplifying The Market

In today’s sellers’ market, standing out as a buyer is critical. Multi-offer scenarios and bidding wars are the norm due to the low supply of houses for sale and high buyer demand. If you’re buying this fall, you’ll want every advantage, especially when you’ve found the home of your dreams.

Below are five things to keep in mind when it’s time to make an offer.

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. It enables you to act quickly when you’ve found your perfect home.

2. Be Prepared To Move Fast

Speed and the pace of sales are contributing factors to today’s competitive housing market. According to the latest Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the average home is on the market for just 17 days. As the report notes:

“Eighty-nine percent of homes sold in July 2021 were on the market for less than a month.”

When homes are selling fast, staying on top of the market and moving quickly are key. After you’ve worked with your agent to find the home that suits your needs, they’ll help you put together and submit your best offer as soon as possible.

3. A Real Estate Professional Can Lead You to Victory

No matter what the housing market looks like, rely on a trusted real estate advisor. As Freddie Mac says:

“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 may need can help your offer stand out.

4. Craft a Strong, Fair Offer

In the past, offering at or near the asking price was enough to make your offer appealing to sellers. In today’s market, that’s often not the case. According to the latest Realtors Confidence Index from NAR, 50% of offers are above the list price.

In such a competitive market, emotions and prices can run high. Having an agent to help craft a strong, fair offer is critical in these situations. Your agent can help you understand:

  • The market value of the home
  • Recent sales trends in the area
  • Current buyer demand

5. Understand the Seller’s Needs, but Resist Waiving Certain Contingencies

When crafting an offer, you’ll want to keep both your best interest and the interest of the seller in mind. Your trusted real estate advisor will help you consider which levers you could 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, like the home inspection.

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.”

Bottom Line

Today’s competitive housing market makes it more important than ever to make a strong offer on a home. Let’s connect to make sure your offer rises to the top.

Fact or Fiction: Homebuyer Edition [INFOGRAPHIC]

Fact or Fiction: Homebuyer Edition [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Fact or Fiction: Homebuyer Edition [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Some Highlights

  • When it comes to the current housing market, there are multiple misconceptions – from what the current supply of available homes looks like to how much houses are selling for.
  • It takes professionals who study expert opinions and data to truly understand the real estate market and separate fact from fiction.
  • Trust the pros. If you want to understand why it’s still a good time to buy, let’s connect today.

Home Price Appreciation Is Skyrocketing in 2021. What About 2022?

Home Price Appreciation Is Skyrocketing in 2021. What About 2022? | Simplifying The Market

One of the major story lines over the last year is how well the residential real estate market performed. One key metric in the spotlight is home price appreciation. According to the latest indices, home prices are skyrocketing this year.

Here are the latest percentages showing the year-over-year increase in home price appreciation:

The dramatic increases are seen at every price point and in all regions of the country.

Increases Are Across Every Price Point

According to the latest Home Price Index from CoreLogic, each price range is seeing at least a 19% increase year-over-year:Home Price Appreciation Is Skyrocketing in 2021. What About 2022? | Simplifying The Market

Increases Are Across Every Region in the Country

Every region in the country is experiencing at least a 14.9% increase in home price appreciation, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA):Home Price Appreciation Is Skyrocketing in 2021. What About 2022? | Simplifying The Market

Increases Are Across Each of the Top 20 Metros in the Country

According to the U.S. National Home Price Index from S&P Case-Shiller, every major metro is seeing at least a 13.3% growth in prices (see graph below):

Home Price Appreciation Is Skyrocketing in 2021. What About 2022? | Simplifying The Market

What About Price Appreciation in 2022?

Prices are the result of the balance between supply and demand. The demand for single-family homes has been strong over the last 18 months. The supply of houses available for sale was near historic lows. However, there’s some good news on the supply side. Realtor.com reports:

“432,000 new listings hit the national housing market in August, an increase of 18,000 over last year.”

There will, however, still be a shortage of supply compared to demand in 2022. CoreLogic reveals:

“Given the widespread demand and considering the number of standalone homes built during the past decade, the single-family market is estimated to be undersupplied by 4.35 million units by 2022.”

Yet, most forecasts call for home price appreciation to moderate in 2022. The Home Price Expectation Survey, a survey of over 100 economists, investment strategists, and housing market analysts, calls for a 5.12% appreciation level next year. Here are the 2022 home appreciation forecasts from the four other major entities:

  1. The National Association of Realtors (NAR): 4.4%
  2. The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA): 8.4%
  3. Fannie Mae: 5.1%
  4. Freddie Mac: 5.3%

Price appreciation is expected to slow in 2022 when compared to the record highs of 2021. However, it is still expected to be greater than the annual average of 4.1% over the last 25 years.

Bottom Line

If you owned a home over the past year, you’ve seen your household wealth grow substantially, and you’ll see another nice boost in 2022. If you’re thinking of buying, consider buying now as prices are forecast to continue increasing through at least next year.

Understand Your Options To Avoid Foreclosure

Understand Your Options To Avoid Foreclosure | Simplifying The Market

Even though experts agree there’s no chance of a large-scale foreclosure crisis, there are a number of homeowners who may be coming face-to-face with foreclosure as a possibility. And while the overall percentage of homeowners at risk is decreasing with time (see graph below), that’s little comfort to those individuals who are facing challenges today.Understand Your Options To Avoid Foreclosure | Simplifying The MarketIf you haven’t taken advantage of the forbearance period, it may be time to research and understand your options. It starts with knowing what foreclosure is. Investopedia defines it like this:

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. Typically, default is triggered when a borrower misses a specific number of monthly payments . . .” 

The good news is, there are alternatives available to help you avoid having to go 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.

Understand Your Options: 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. Over the last year, buyer demand has been high, but housing supply has been low. That’s led to a substantial increase in home values. When prices rise, so does the amount of equity you have in your house.

According to CoreLogic, on average, homeowners gained $33,400 in equity over the last 12 months, and the average equity on mortgaged homes is now $216,000 (see map below):Understand Your Options To Avoid Foreclosure | Simplifying The MarketSo, what does that mean for you? Over the past year, chances are your home’s value and therefore your equity has risen dramatically. If you’ve been in your home for a while, the mortgage payments you’ve made over 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.

Frank Martell, President and CEO of CoreLogic, elaborates on how equity can help:

Homeowner equity has more than doubled over the past decade and become a crucial buffer for many weathering the challenges of the pandemic. These gains have become an important financial tool and boosted consumer confidence in the U.S. housing market.”

Don’t Go at It Alone – Lean on Experts for Advice

To find out what your house is worth in today’s market, work with a local real estate professional. We’ll be able to give you an estimate of what your house could sell for based on recent sales of similar homes in your area. Since home prices are still appreciating, you may be able to sell your house to avoid foreclosure.

If you find out that you have to pursue other options, your agent can help with that too. We’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 the best alternative.

Bottom Line

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

Reasons You Should Consider Selling This Fall

Reasons You Should Consider Selling This Fall | Simplifying The Market

If you’re trying to decide when to sell your house, there may not be a better time to list than right now. The ultimate sellers’ market we’re in today won’t last forever. If you’re thinking of making a move, here are four reasons to put your house up for sale sooner rather than later.

1. Your House Will Likely Sell Quickly

According to the Realtors Confidence Index released by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), homes continue to sell quickly – on average, they’re selling in just 17 days. As a seller, that’s great news for you.

Average days on market is a strong indicator of buyer demand. And if homes are selling quickly, buyers have to be more decisive and act fast to submit their offer before other buyers swoop in.

2. Buyers Are Willing To Compete for Your House

In addition to selling quickly, homes are receiving multiple offers. That same survey shows sellers are seeing an average of 4.5 offers, and they’re competitive ones. The graph below shows how the average number of offers right now compares to previous years:Reasons You Should Consider Selling This Fall | Simplifying The MarketBuyers today know bidding wars are a likely outcome, and they’re coming prepared with their best offer in hand. Receiving several offers on your house means you can select the one that makes the most sense for your situation and financial well-being.

3. When Supply Is Low, Your House Is in the Spotlight

One of the most significant challenges for motivated buyers is the current inventory of homes for sale. Though it’s improving, it remains at near-record lows. The chart below shows how today’s low inventory stacks up against recent years. The lighter the blue is in the chart, the lower the housing supply.
Reasons You Should Consider Selling This Fall | Simplifying The MarketIf you’re looking to take advantage of buyer demand and get the most attention for your house, selling now before more listings come to the market might be your best option.

4. If You’re Thinking of Moving Up, Now May Be the Time

If your current home no longer meets your needs, it may be the perfect time to make a move. Today, homeowners are gaining a significant amount of wealth through growing equity. You can leverage that equity, plus current low mortgage rates, to power your move now. But these near-historic low rates won’t last forever.

Experts forecast interest rates will rise. In their forecast, Freddie Mac says:

“While we forecast rates to increase gradually later in the year, we don’t expect to see a rapid increase. At the end of the year, we forecast 30-year rates will be around 3.4%, rising to 3.8% by the fourth quarter of 2022.”

When rates rise, even modestly, it’ll impact your monthly payment and by extension your purchasing power.

Bottom Line

Don’t delay. The combination of housing supply challenges, low mortgage rates, and extremely motivated buyers gives sellers a unique opportunity this season. If you’re thinking about making a move, let’s chat about why it makes sense to list your house now.