Why You May Want To Cash in on Your Second Home

Why You May Want To Cash in on Your Second Home | Simplifying The Market

When stay-at-home mandates were enforced last year, many households realized their homes didn’t really fulfill their new lifestyle needs. An office (in some cases two), a media room, space for children to learn, a gym, and a large yard are all examples of amenities that became highly desirable almost overnight.

Zelman & Associates recently reported that sales of primary residences grew by 9% in 2020. That increase in demand was met by the lowest supply of homes for sale in history. High demand and low supply caused prices to skyrocket over the past twelve months. Here are three home price indexes released most recently that show how home values have risen:

Prices increased by double digits in every region of the country and in 19 of 20 major metros. Chicago was the only exception, where prices still rose by 9%.

What does this mean to those who purchased a second home during the pandemic?

Many people didn’t want to give up a home in the city or close to their office. Instead, they purchased a larger second home farther away and moved there to stay safe and have more space. According to the same Zelman report, sales for second homes rose an astonishing 27% in 2020.

That large second-home retreat on a lake or in the mountains would demand a higher price than the average house. Let’s assume a buyer purchased such a home for $500,000. Assuming the middle 13.2% appreciation shown above, that home would now be worth about $566,000.

Those who bought second homes to improve their lifestyle during the height of the pandemic, or those who just wanted to be in a safer environment, also made a great investment.

What should these homeowners do now as the pandemic is receding, and the economy is reopening?

The buyers of those second homes now have a decision to make. Many will move back to the original home they still own (the one that’s closer to work, friends, and family). Should they keep the second home? That could depend on answers to questions like these:

  • Now that you may have to go back to the office (at least a few days a week) and students are required to physically attend school, would you still use the second house enough to warrant the expenses of an additional home?
  • Would you go to the second home on most weekends, or would you return to the movie theater, attend sporting events, eat out at fine restaurants, or spend your time traveling again?

Bottom Line

If you purchased a larger second home during the pandemic, you were able to make day-to-day life much easier for those important to you. You also made it much safer. However, with those goals already accomplished, you now need to decide whether to continue paying the extra expenses or sell the house and cash in your profit. If you decide selling makes sense, let’s connect today to discuss the value of your second home.

Top Reasons To Own Your Home [INFOGRAPHIC]

Top Reasons To Own Your Home [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Top Reasons To Own Your Home [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Some Highlights

  • June is National Homeownership Month, and it’s a great time to consider the benefits of owning your own home.
  • If you’re thinking of buying a home, it might just help you find the stability, community, and comfort you’ve been searching for over the past year.
  • Let’s connect today to determine if homeownership is the right next step for you.

Dreaming of a Bigger Home? Why Not Buy It This Year?

Dreaming of a Bigger Home? Why Not Buy It This Year? | Simplifying The Market

Are you clamoring for extra rooms or a more functional floorplan in your house? Maybe it’s time to make a move. If you’ll be able to work remotely for the long-term or your overall needs have simply changed, it’s a great time to sell your house and move up. Why? With mortgage rates in their favor and higher-priced home sales powering more moves across the country, sellers in today’s market are finding the space they need (and have always dreamed of) by purchasing a home in the upper end of the housing market.

With so few homes available for sale and high demand from today’s homebuyers, sellers are profiting in major ways this season. Bidding wars are gaining traction, driving up the sale price of more and more homes throughout the country. This means sellers are able to leverage extra cash from higher-priced sales while also taking advantage of today’s low mortgage rates when they purchase their next home. It’s the perfect scenario to move up into a true dream home. According to the April Luxury Market Report from the Institute for Luxury Home Marketing:

“The Institute’s recent analysis of sales in 2020 for homes over 5,000 square feet support the continuing preference for larger homes. The analysis determined that there was a 17% increase in the number of 5,000+ sq ft homes sold when compared to the number of sales in 2019.

Luxury home prices continue to see record highs in the majority of affluent ex-urban communities, as the influence of being able to work from home is still driving buyers away from living in high density areas. Low interest rates also remain in play, allowing buyers to realize the affordability of owning a larger property, which further reinforces this trend.”

Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist for the National Association of Realtors (NAR), also explains:

“The market is hot pretty much everywhere and across all price points . . . The only area where there is sufficient inventory is in $1 million-plus homes . . . .”

While this price range certainly doesn’t fit every budget, if it’s in your reach this summer, you may want to make your move sooner rather than later. Today, more homes are available in this segment of the market, but as the report mentions, more buyers are investing here too, so competition may heat up sooner rather than later.

Bottom Line

If you’re planning to sell your current home to move into a larger one, let’s connect today. We’ll discuss your current situation and the opportunities in our local market.

What’s Motivating People To Move Right Now?

What’s Motivating People To Move Right Now? | Simplifying The Market

This year, Americans are moving for a variety of reasons. The health crisis has truly reshaped our lifestyles and our needs. Spending so much more time in our current homes has driven many people to reconsider what homeownership means and what they find most valuable in their living spaces.

According to the 2020 Annual National Movers Study:

“For customers who cited COVID-19 as an influence on their move in 2020, the top reasons associated with COVID-19 were concerns for personal and family health and wellbeing (60%); desires to be closer to family (59%); 57% moved due to changes in employment status or work arrangement (including the ability to work remotely); and 53% desired a lifestyle change or improvement of quality of life.”

With a new perspective on homeownership, here are some of the reasons people are reconsidering where they live and making moves right now.

1. Working from Home

Remote work became the new norm, and for some, it’s persisting longer than initially expected. Many in the workforce today are discovering they don’t need to live so close to the office anymore and they can get more for their money if they move a little further outside the city limits. Apartment List notes:

“The COVID pandemic has sparked a rebound in residential migration: survey data suggest that 16 percent of American workers moved between April 2020 and April 2021, up from 14 percent in 2019 and the first increase in migration in over a decade… One of the major drivers in this trend is remote work, which expanded greatly in response to COVID and will remain prevalent even after the pandemic wanes. No longer tethered to a physical job site, remote workers were 53 percent more likely to move this past year than on-site workers.”

If you’ve tried to convert your guest room or your dining room into a home office with minimal success, it may be time to find a larger home. The reality is, your current house may not be optimally designed for this kind of space, making remote work very challenging.

2. Room for Fitness & Activities

Staying healthy and active is a top priority for many Americans, and dreams of having space for a home gym are growing stronger. A recent survey of 4,538 active adults from 122 countries noted the three fastest-growing fitness trends amongst active adults:

  • At-home fitness equipment (up 50%)
  • Personal trainers/nutritionists (up 48%)
  • Online fitness courses, classes, and subscriptions (up 17%)

Having room to maintain a healthy lifestyle at home – physically and mentally – may prompt you to consider a new place to live that includes space for at-home workouts, hobbies, and activities for your household.

3. Outdoor Space

Better Homes & Gardens recently released the outdoor living trends for this year, and three of them are:

  • Outdoor Kitchens: 60% of homeowners are looking to add outdoor kitchens.
  • Edible Garden: Millions of people began gardening during the pandemic . . . to supplement pantries with homegrown fruits, vegetables, and herbs.
  • Secluded Spaces: As outdoor activity increases, so does the need for privacy.

You may not, however, currently have the space you need for these designated areas – inside or out.

Bottom Line

If you’re clamoring for more room to accommodate your changing needs, making a move may be your best bet, especially while you can take advantage of today’s low mortgage rates. It’s a great time to get more home for your money, just when you need it most.

3 Things To Prioritize When Selling Your House

3 Things To Prioritize When Selling Your House | Simplifying The Market

Today’s housing market is full of unprecedented opportunities. High buyer demand paired with record-low housing inventory is creating the ultimate sellers’ market, which means it’s a fantastic time to sell your house. However, that doesn’t mean sellers are guaranteed success no matter what. There are still some key things to know so you can avoid costly mistakes and win big when you make a move.

1. Price Your House Right

When inventory is low, like it is in the current market, it’s common to think buyers will pay whatever we ask when setting a listing price. Believe it or not, that’s not always true. Even in a sellers’ market, listing your house for the right price will maximize the number of buyers that see your house. This creates the best environment for bidding wars, which in turn are more likely to increase the final sale price. A real estate professional is the best person to help you set the best price for your house so you can achieve your financial goals.

2. Keep Your Emotions in Check

Today, homeowners are living in their houses for a longer period of time. Since 1985, the average time a homeowner owned their home, or their tenure, has increased from 5 to 10 years (See graph below):3 Things To Prioritize When Selling Your House | Simplifying The MarketThis is several years longer than what used to be the historical norm. The side effect, however, is when you stay in one place for so long, you may get even more emotionally attached to your space. If it’s the first home you purchased or the house where your children grew up, it very likely means something extra special to you. Every room has memories, and it’s hard to detach from that sentimental value.

For some homeowners, that connection makes it even harder to separate the emotional value of the house from the fair market price. That’s why you need a real estate professional to help you with the negotiations along the way.

3. Stage Your House Properly

We’re generally quite proud of our décor and how we’ve customized our houses to make them our own unique homes. However, not all buyers will feel the same way about your design and personal touches. That’s why it’s so important to make sure you stage your house with the buyer in mind.

Buyers want to envision themselves in the space so it truly feels like it could be their own. They need to see themselves inside with their furniture and keepsakes – not your pictures and decorations. Stage, clean, and declutter so they can visualize their own dreams as they walk through each room. A real estate professional can help you with tips to get your home ready to stage and sell.

Bottom Line

Today’s sellers’ market might be your best chance to make a move. If you’re considering selling your house, let’s connect today so you have the expert guidance you need to navigate through the process and prioritize these key elements.

Should I Move or Refinance?

Should I Move or Refinance? | Simplifying The Market

The level of equity homeowners have is at an all-time high. According to the U.S. Census, over 38% of owner-occupied homes are owned free and clear, meaning they don’t have a mortgage. Those with a mortgage are seeing their equity skyrocket too. Every time real estate values increase, homeowners get a dollar-for-dollar gain in their home equity.

According to the first-quarter 2021 U.S. Home Equity Report from ATTOM Data Solutions:

“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 first quarter of 2021 represented 31.9 percent, or about one in three, of the 55.8 million mortgaged homes in the United States. That was up from 30.2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2020, 28.3 percent in the third quarter and 26.5 percent in the first quarter of 2020.”

This surge in home equity has given most homeowners the opportunity to use that equity in one of two ways:

  1. Refinance to cash out some of the equity or lower their current payment
  2. Move to a home that better fits their current needs

Let’s break down the possibilities.

1. Refinance

An abundance of equity and record-low mortgage rates can make refinancing a home very easy. Some homeowners choose to refinance so they can lower their payments. Others convert a portion of the equity to cash while keeping their monthly payment the same.

There are many homeowners who could take advantage of lower rates and higher levels of equity, but they haven’t yet. According to an Economic & Housing Research Note from earlier this month, there were over five million homeowners with a loan funded by Freddie Mac who would benefit by refinancing their loan. As of January 2021, there were:

  • 452,122 loans with an average mortgage rate of 6.17%
  • 1,027,834 loans with an average mortgage rate of 4.39%
  • 3,687,780 loans with an average mortgage rate of 4.21%

With mortgage rates currently hovering around 3%, any of these homeowners would benefit from refinancing. They could lower their payments by hundreds of dollars per month or cash out large sums of equity while keeping their monthly payment the same.

Example:

If a homeowner has a $200,000 fixed-rate mortgage with a 6% interest rate and refinances that loan to a 3% interest rate, their monthly mortgage payment (principal and interest) will go from $1,199 per month to $843 per month – a savings of $356 a month, or $4,272 each year.

On the other hand, if they keep their mortgage payment the same, they could cash out a significant amount of their equity.

2. Move into your dream home

The past year prompted many households to redefine what a dream home really means, and it’s something different to everyone. Those who have a high mortgage rate could use their equity as a down payment and perhaps buy their next home without significantly raising their mortgage payment.

Example:

Suppose a person bought a house for $216,000 at the height of the market in 2006. (The median home price in May of 2006). If they put 10% down and took out a mortgage of $194,400 at 6.41% (the average rate in 2006), the monthly mortgage payment (principal and interest) would have been $1,217.

According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), a typical single-family home has grown in value by approximately $150,000 over the last fifteen years. That means the $216,000 house would be worth about $366,000 today.

After deducting selling expenses, they would be left with about $130,000 ($150,000 minus approximately $20,000 in selling expenses).

A seller could take that equity and use it as a down payment on a new house. Let’s assume they purchased a home for $450,000 (roughly $80,000 more than the value of their current home). If they put the $130,000 down, they could take out a mortgage of $320,000 with a 3% interest rate. The monthly mortgage payment (principal and interest) would be $1,349. Therefore, they could buy a home worth $80,000 more than the one they have today and only spend an extra $132 per month.

Bottom Line

Whether you’re refinancing your house or moving to a new home, your current mortgage rate and your level of equity are crucial in your decision-making process. Look at your mortgage documentation to find out your interest rate, and then let’s connect to determine the potential equity in your home. You may be surprised by the opportunities you have.

Sellers Are Ready To Enter the Housing Market

Sellers Are Ready To Enter the Housing Market | Simplifying The Market

One of the biggest questions in real estate today is, “When will sellers return to the housing market?” An ongoing shortage of home supply has created a hyper-competitive environment for hopeful buyers, leading to the ultimate sellers’ market. However, as the economy continues to improve and more people get vaccinated, more sellers may finally be in sight.

The Home Purchase Sentiment Index (HPSI) by Fannie Mae recently noted the percentage of consumer respondents who say it’s a good time to sell a home increased from 61% to 67%. Doug Duncan, Senior Vice President and Chief Economist at Fannie Mae, indicates:

Consumer positivity regarding home-selling conditions nearly matched its all-time high.” (See graph below):

Sellers Are Ready To Enter the Housing Market | Simplifying The MarketFannie Mae isn’t the only expert group noticing a rise in the percentage of people thinking about selling. George Ratiu, Senior Economist at realtor.com, shares:

“The results of a realtor.com survey . . . showed that one-in-ten homeowners plans to sell this year, with 63 percent of those, looking to list in the next 6 months. Just as encouragingly, close to two-thirds of sellers plan to sell their homes at prices under $350,000, which would offer a tremendous boost to affordable housing for first-time buyers.”

Bottom Line

If you’re considering selling your house, don’t wait for more competition to pop up in your neighborhood. Let’s connect today to explore the benefits of selling your house now before more homes come to the market.

Americans See Real Estate as a Better Investment Than Stocks or Gold

Americans See Real Estate as a Better Investment Than Stocks or Gold | Simplifying The Market

Last month, in a post on the Liberty Street Economics blog, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York noted that Americans believe buying a home is definitely or probably a better investment than buying stocks. Last week, a Gallup Poll reaffirmed those findings.

In an article on the current real estate market, Gallup reports:

“Gallup usually finds that Americans regard real estate as the best long-term investment among several options — seeing it as superior to stocks, gold, savings accounts and bonds. This year, 41% choose real estate as the best investment, up from 35% a year ago, with stocks a distant second.”

Here’s the breakdown:Americans See Real Estate as a Better Investment Than Stocks or Gold | Simplifying The MarketThe article goes on to say:

“The 41% choosing real estate is the highest selecting any of the five investment options in the 11 years Gallup has asked this question.”

Is real estate really a secure investment right now?

Some question American confidence in real estate as a good long-term investment right now. They fear that the build-up in home values may be mirroring what happened right before the housing crash a little more than a decade ago. However, according to Merrill Lynch, J.P. Morgan, Morgan Stanley, and Goldman Sachs, the current real estate market is strong and sustainable.

As Morgan Stanley explains to their clients in a recent 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.”

Bottom Line

America’s belief in the long-term investment value of homeownership has been, is, and will always be, very strong.

Don’t Forget to Budget for Closing Costs

Don’t Forget to Budget for Closing Costs | Simplifying The Market

When buying a home, it’s important to have a budget and make sure you plan ahead for certain homebuying expenses. Saving for a down payment is the main cost that comes to mind for many, but budgeting for the closing costs required to get a mortgage is just as important.

What Are Closing Costs?

According to Trulia:

When you close on a home, a number of fees are due. They typically range from 2% to 5% of the total cost of the home, and can include title insurance, origination fees, underwriting fees, document preparation fees, and more.”

For example, for someone buying a $300,000 home, they could potentially have between $6,000 and $15,000 in closing fees. If you’re in the market for a home above this price range, your closing costs could be greater. As mentioned above, closing costs are typically between 2% and 5% of your purchase price. 

Trulia gives more great advice, explaining:

“There will be lots of paperwork in front of you on closing day, and not enough time to read them all. Work closely with your real estate agent, lender, and attorney, if you have one, to get all the documents you need ahead of time.

The most important thing to read is the closing disclosure, which shows your loan terms, final closing costs, and any outstanding fees. You’ll get this form about three days before closing since, once you (the borrower) sign it, there’s a three-day waiting period before you can sign the mortgage loan docs. If you have any questions about the numbers or what any of the mortgage terms mean, this is the time to ask—your real estate agent is a great resource for getting you all the answers you need.”

Bottom Line

As home prices are rising and more buyers are finding themselves competing in bidding wars, it’s more important than ever to make sure your plan includes budgeting for closing costs. Let’s connect to be sure you have everything you need to land your dream home.