The Cost of Waiting to Buy a House: Interest Rates Edition

The Cost of Waiting to Buy a House: Interest Rates Edition

Some Highlights:

  • Interest rates are projected to increase steadily heading into 2019.
  • The higher your interest rate, the more money you end up paying for your home and the higher your monthly payment will be.
  • Rates are still low right now – don’t wait until they hit 5% to start searching for your dream home! 


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Housing Market: Another Gigantic Difference Between 2008 and 2018 in Hunterdon and Somerset Counties

Housing Market: Another Gigantic Difference Between 2008 and 2018 in Hunterdon and Somerset Counties

Some are attempting to compare the current housing market to the market leading up to the “boom and bust” that we experienced a decade ago. They look at price appreciation and conclude that we are on a similar trajectory, speeding toward another housing crisis.

However, there is a major difference between the two markets. Last decade, while demand was being artificially created by extremely loose lending standards, a tremendous amount of inventory was coming to the market to satisfy that demand. Below is a graph of the inventory of homes available for sale leading up to the 2008 crash.

 

Housing Market: Another Gigantic Difference Between 2008 and 2018 | MyKCM

A normal market should have approximately 6 months supply of housing inventory. As we can see, that number jumped to over 11 months supply leading up to the housing crisis. When questionable mortgage practices ceased, and demand dried up, there was a glut of inventory on the market which caused prices to drop as there was too much supply and not enough demand.

Today is radically different!

There are those who believe that low mortgage rates have created an artificial demand in the current market. They fear that if mortgage rates continue to rise, some of the current demand will dry up (which is a possibility).

However, if we look at supply again, we can see that the current supply of homes is well below the norm of 6 months.

Housing Market: Another Gigantic Difference Between 2008 and 2018 | MyKCM

Bottom Line

We will not have a glut of inventory like we did back in 2008 and home values won’t come tumbling down. Instead, if demand weakens, we will return to a normal market (approximately a 6-month supply) with historic levels of appreciation (3.6% annually).

 

 


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Homebuyers Willing to Sacrifice ‘Must-Haves’ in Favor of Good School Districts like Hunterdon and Somerset Counties

Homebuyers Willing to Sacrifice ‘Must-Haves’ in Favor of Good School Districts like Hunterdon and Somerset Counties

It should come as no surprise that buying a home in a good school district is important to homebuyers. According to a report from Realtor.com, 86% of 18-34 year-olds and 84% of those aged 35-54 indicated that their home search areas were defined by school district boundaries.

What is surprising, however, is that 78% of recent homebuyers sacrificed features from their “must-have” lists in order to find homes within their dream school districts.

The top feature sacrificed was a garage at 19%, followed closely by a large backyard, an updated kitchen, the desired number of bedrooms, and an outdoor living area. The full results are shown in the graph below.

 

Homebuyers Willing to Sacrifice ‘Must-Haves’ in Favor of Good School Districts | MyKCM

Buyers are attracted to schools with high test scores, accelerated academic programs, art and music programs, diversity, and before and after-school programs.

With a limited number of homes available to buy in today’s real estate market, competition is fierce for homes in good school districts. Danielle Hale, Chief Economist for Realtor.com, explained further,

“Most buyers understand that they may not be able to find a home that covers every single item on their wish list, but our survey shows that school districts are an area where many buyers aren’t willing to compromise.

For many buyers and not just buyers with children, ‘location, location, location,’ means ‘schools, schools, schools.’” (emphasis added)

Bottom Line

For buyers across the country, the quality of their children’s (or future children’s) education ranks highest on their must-have lists. Before you start the search for your next home, let’s get together to discuss the market conditions in our area.

 


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Are You Thinking of Selling Your Home in Hunterdon or Somerset County? Competition Is Coming!

Are You Thinking of Selling Your Home in Hunterdon or Somerset County? Competition Is Coming!

The number of building permits issued for single-family homes is the best indicator of how many newly built homes will rise over the next few months. According to the latest U.S. Census Bureau and U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development Residential Sales Report, the number of building permits issued in June was 850,000, a 0.8% increase from May.

How will this impact buyers?

More inventory means more options. Mark Fleming, First American’s Chief Economist, explained that this is good news for the housing market – especially for those looking to buy:

“The continued year-over-year growth in completions means more homes on the market in the short-term, offering some immediate relief in alleviating housing supply shortages.”

How will this impact sellers?

More inventory means more competition. Today, because of the tremendous lack of inventory, a seller can expect:

  1. A great price on their home as buyers outbid each other for it.
  2. A quick sale as buyers have such little inventory to choose from.
  3. Fewer hassles as buyers don’t want to “rock the boat” on the deal.

Bottom Line

If you are considering selling your house, you’ll want to beat this new competition to market to ensure that you get the most attention on your listing and the best price for your house.

 

 


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12 Common First-Time Home Buyer Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

12 Common First-Time Home Buyer Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Reposted from NerdWallet.com
First-time home buyers are prone to missteps, such as getting just one rate quote. Here are some common errors and how to steer clear of them.
Every year, first-time home buyers venture into the market and make the same mistakes that their parents, siblings and friends made when they bought their first houses.

But today’s novice buyers can stop the cycle. Here are 12 mistakes that first-time home buyers make — and what to do instead.

 

1. Not figuring out how much house you can afford

Without knowing how much house you can afford, you might waste time. You could end up looking at houses that you can’t afford yet, or visiting homes that are below your optimal price level.

For many first-time buyers, the goal is to buy a house and get a loan with a comfortable monthly payment that won’t keep them up at night. Sometimes it’s a good idea to aim low.

How to avoid this mistake: Use a mortgage affordability calculator to help you know what price range is affordable, what’s a stretch and what’s aggressive.

 

2. Making a down payment that’s too small

You don’t have to make a 20% down payment to buy a home. Some loan programs (see item No. 5) enable you to buy a home with zero down or 3.5% down. Sometimes that’s a good idea, but homeowners occasionally have regrets.

In a survey commissioned by NerdWallet, one in nine (11%) homeowners under age 35 agreed with the statement “I should have waited until I had a bigger down payment.” It was one of the most common regrets that millennial homeowners had.

How to avoid this mistake: Figuring out how much to save is a judgment call. A bigger down payment lets you get a smaller mortgage, giving you more affordable monthly house payments. The downside of taking the time to save more money is that home prices and mortgage rates have been rising, which means it could become more difficult to buy the home you want and you may miss out on building home equity as home values increase. The key is making sure your down payment helps you secure a payment you’re comfortable making each month.

In another survey commissioned by NerdWallet, millennial homeowners described how long it took to save for a down payment. Among millennials who had bought a home in the previous five years, it took an average of 3.75 years to save enough to buy. So if it’s taking you three or four years to save up, you have plenty of company.

 

3. Emptying your savings

If you buy a previously owned home, it almost inevitably will need an unexpected repair not long after. Maybe you’ll need to replace a water heater or pay a homeowner’s insurance deductible after bad weather.

“That’s a growing pain for the first-time homeowner, when stuff breaks,” says John Pataky, executive vice president of the consumer division of EverBank. “They find themselves in a hole quickly” if they don’t have enough saved for emergencies.

How to avoid this mistake: Save enough money to make a down payment, pay for closing costs and moving expenses, and take care of repairs that may come up. Lenders will give you estimates of closing costs, and you can call around to get estimates of moving expenses.

 

4. Not looking for first-time home buyer programs

As a first-time home buyer, you probably don’t have a ton of money saved up for the down payment and closing costs. But don’t make the error of assuming that you have to delay homeownership while saving for a huge down payment. There are plenty of low-down-payment loan programs out there, including state programs that offer down payment assistance and competitive mortgage rates for first-time home buyers.

Yes, 11% of millennial homeowners say they regret not making a bigger down payment. But the vast majority don’t express such a regret.

How to avoid this mistake: Ask a mortgage lender about your first-time home buyer options and look for programs in your state. You might qualify for a U.S. Department of Agriculture loan or one guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs that doesn’t require a down payment. Federal Housing Administration loans have a minimum down payment of 3.5%, and some conventional loan programs allow down payments as low as 3%.

 

5. Ignoring VA, USDA and FHA loan programs

A lot of first-time home buyers want to or need to make small down payments. But they don’t always know the details of government programs that make it easy to buy a home with zero or little down.

How to avoid this mistake: Learn about the following loan programs:

  • VA loans are mortgages guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. They’re for people who have served in the military. VA loans’ claim to fame is that they allow qualified home buyers to put zero percent down and get 100% financing. Borrowers pay a funding fee in lieu of mortgage insurance.
  • USDA loans can be used to buy homes in areas that are designated rural by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Qualified borrowers can put zero percent down and get 100% financing. You pay a guarantee fee and an annual fee in lieu of mortgage insurance.
  • FHA loans allow for down payments as small as 3.5%. What’s more, the Federal Housing Administration can be forgiving of imperfect credit. When you get an FHA loan, you pay mortgage insurance for the life of the mortgage, even after you have more than 20% equity.

6. Getting just one rate quote

Shopping for a mortgage is like shopping for a car or any other expensive item: It pays to compare offers. Mortgage interest rates vary from lender to lender, and so do fees such as closing costs and discount points.

But according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, almost half of borrowers don’t shop for a loan.

How to avoid this mistake: Apply with multiple mortgage lenders. Research from Freddie Mac indicates that borrowers could save an average of $1,500 over the life of the loan by getting one more rate quote, and an average of $3,000 if they get five rate quotes. All mortgage applications made within a 45-day window will count as just one credit inquiry.

 

7. Not checking credit reports and correcting errors

Mortgage lenders will scrutinize your credit reports when deciding whether to approve a loan and at what interest rate. If your credit report contains errors, you might get quoted an interest rate that’s higher than you deserve. That’s why it pays to make sure your credit report is accurate.

How to avoid this mistake: You may request a free credit report each year from each of the three main credit bureaus. You may dispute any errors you find.

 

8. Not knowing whether to pay discount points

Mortgage discount points are fees you pay upfront to reduce your mortgage interest rate. Interest rate savings can add up to a lot of money over the life of a mortgage, and discount points are one way to gain those rate savings if you’re in the right position to purchase them.

How to avoid this mistake: If making a minimal down payment is an accomplishment, the choice is simple: Don’t buy discount points. If you have enough cash on hand, the value of buying points depends on whether you plan to live in the home longer than the “break-even period.” That’s the time it takes for the upfront cost to be exceeded by the monthly savings you get from a lower interest rate.

 

9. Applying for credit before the sale is final

One day, you apply for a mortgage. A few weeks later, you close, or finalize, the loan and get the keys to the house. The period between is critical: You want to leave your credit alone as much as possible. It’s a mistake to get a new credit card, buy furniture or appliances on credit, or take out an auto loan before the mortgage closes.

Here’s why: The lender’s mortgage decision is based on your credit score and your debt-to-income ratio, which is the percentage of your income that goes toward monthly debt payments. Applying for credit can reduce your credit score a few points. Getting a new loan, or adding to your monthly debt payments, will increase your debt-to-income ratio. Neither of those is good from the mortgage lender’s perspective.

Within about a week of the closing, the lender will check your credit one last time. If your credit score has fallen, or if your debt-to-income ratio has gone up, the lender might change the interest rate or fees on the mortgage. It could cause a delay in your closing, or even result in a canceled mortgage.

How to avoid this mistake: Wait until after closing to open new credit accounts or to charge furniture, appliances or tools to your credit cards. It’s OK to have all those things picked out ahead of time; just don’t buy them on credit until after you have the keys in hand.

 

10. Shopping for a house before a mortgage

It’s more fun to look at homes than it is to talk about your finances with a lender. So that’s what a lot of first-time home buyers do: They visit properties before finding out how much they are able to borrow. Then, they are disappointed when they discover they were looking in the wrong price range (either too high or too low) or when they find the right home, but aren’t able to make a serious offer.

How to avoid this mistake: Talk to a mortgage professional about getting pre-qualified or even preapproved for a home loan before you start to seriously shop for a place. The pre-qualification or preapproval process involves a review of your income and expenses, and it can make your bid more competitive because you’ll be able to show sellers that you can back up your offer.

Neal Khoorchand, broker-owner of Century 21 Professional Realty, in the South Ozone Park neighborhood of Queens, New York, pre-qualifies his clients before showing them properties.

“If you’re qualified for a one-family house for $500,000, we’re not going to show you a one-family for $600,000 — it would be a waste of time,” he says.

 

11. Underestimating the costs of homeownership

After you buy a home, the monthly bills keep stacking up. This can come as a surprise if you’re not ready.

“It’s not just your mortgage payment,” says Seth Feinman, vice president of Silver Fin Capital, a mortgage brokerage in Great Neck, New York. “You’re going to have the oil bill, the gas bill, you’re going to have a cable bill, you’re going to have all these things that the bank doesn’t care about when qualifying you for a mortgage.”

Renters often pay these kinds of bills, too. But a new home could have higher costs — and it might come with entirely new bills, such as homeowner association fees.

How to avoid this mistake: Work with a real estate agent who can tell you how much the neighborhood’s property taxes and insurance typically cost. Ask to see the seller’s utility bills for the last 12 months the home was occupied so you have an idea how much they will cost after you move in.

 

12. Miscalculating repair and renovation costs

First-time home buyers are frequently surprised by high repair and renovation costs. Buyers can make two mistakes: First, they get a repair estimate from just one contractor, and the estimate is unrealistically low. Second, their perspective is distorted by reality TV shows that make renovations look faster, cheaper and easier than they are in the real world.

How to avoid this mistake: Assume that all repair estimates are low. James Ramos, owner of Re/Max Bay to Bay, a real estate brokerage in Tampa, Florida, recommends doubling the estimates to get a more realistic view of costs.

Seek more than one estimate for expensive repairs, such as roof replacements. A good real estate agent should be able to give you referrals to contractors who can give you estimates. But you also should seek independent referrals from friends, family and co-workers so you can compare those estimates against ones you receive from contractors your agent refers.