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Is Now a Good Time to Refinance My Home?

With interest rates hitting all-time lows over the past few weeks, many homeowners are opting to refinance. To decide if refinancing your home is the best option for you and your family, start by asking yourself these questions:

Why do you want to refinance?

There are many reasons to refinance, but here are three of the most common ones:

1. Lower Your Interest Rate and Payment: This is the most popular reason. Is your current interest rate higher than what’s available today? If so, it might be worth seeing if you can take advantage of the current lower rates.

2. Shorten the Term of Your Loan: If you have a 30-year loan, it may be advantageous to change it to a 15 or 20-year loan to pay off your mortgage sooner rather than later.

3. Cash-Out Refinance: You might have enough equity to cash out and invest in something else, like your children’s education, a business venture, an investment property, or simply to increase your cash reserve.

Once you know why you might want to refinance, ask yourself the next question:

How much is it going to cost?

There are fees and closing costs involved in refinancing, and The Lenders Network explains:

As an example, let’s say your mortgage has a balance of $200,000. If you were to refinance that loan into a new loan, total closing costs would run between 2%-4% of the loan amount. You can expect to pay between $4,000 to $8,000 to refinance this loan.”

They also explain that there are options for no-cost refinance loans, but be on the lookout:

“A no-cost refinance loan is when the lender pays the closing costs for the borrower. However, you should be aware that the lender makes up this money from other aspects of the mortgage. Usually charging a slightly higher interest rate so they can make the money back.”

Keep in mind that, given the current market conditions and how favorable they are for refinancing, it can take a little longer to execute the process today. This is because many other homeowners are going this route as well. As Todd Teta, Chief Officer at ATTOM Data Solutions notes about recent mortgage activity

“Refinancing largely drove the trend, with more than twice as many homeowners trading in higher-interest mortgages for cheaper ones than in the same period of 2018.”

Clearly, refinancing has been on the rise lately. If you’re comfortable with the up-front cost and a potential waiting period due to the high volume of requests, then ask yourself one more question:

Is it worth it?

To answer this one, do the math. Will it help you save money? How much longer do you need to own your home to break even? Will your current home meet your needs down the road? If you plan to stay for a few years, then maybe refinancing is your best move.

If, however, your current home doesn’t fulfill your needs for the next few years, you might want to consider using your equity for a down payment on a new home instead. You’ll still get a lower interest rate than the one you have on your current house, and with the equity you’ve already built, you can finally purchase the home you’ve been waiting for.

Bottom Line

Today, more than ever, it’s important to start working with a trusted real estate advisor. Whether you connect by phone or video chat, a real estate professional can help you understand how to safely navigate the housing market so that you can prioritize the health of your family without having to bring your plans to a standstill. Whether you’re looking to refinance, buy, or sell, a trusted advisor knows the best protocol as well as the optimal resources and lenders to help you through the process in this fast-paced world that’s changing every day.

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Equity Gain Growing in Nearly Every State

Rising home prices have been in the news a lot lately, and much of the focus is on whether they’re accelerating too quickly and how sustainable the growth in prices really is. One of the often-overlooked benefits of rising prices, however, is the impact they have on a homeowner’s equity position.

Home equity is defined as the difference between a home’s fair market value and the outstanding balance of all liens on the property. While homeowners pay down their mortgages, the amount of equity they have in their homes climbs each time the value increases.

Today, the number of homeowners that currently have significant equity in their homes is growing. According to the Census Bureau, 38% of all homes in the country are mortgage-free.  In a home equity studyATTOM Data Solutions revealed that of the 54.5 million homes with a mortgage, 26.7% of them have at least 50% equity. That number has been increasing over the last eight years.

CoreLogic also notes:

“…the average homeowner gained approximately $5,300 in equity during the past year.”

The map below shows a breakdown of the increasing equity gain across the country, painting a clear picture that home equity is growing in nearly every state.

Bottom Line

This may be the year to take advantage of your home equity by applying it forward, either as you downsize or as you move up to a new home.

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Why the Stock Market Correction Probably Won’t Impact Home Values

With the housing crash of 2006-2008 still visible in the rear-view mirror, many are concerned the current correction in the stock market is a sign that home values are also about to tumble. What’s taking place today, however, is nothing like what happened the last time. The S&P 500 did fall by over fifty percent from October 2007 to March 2009, and home values did depreciate in 2007, 2008, and 2009 – but that was because that economic slowdown was mainly caused by a collapsing real estate market and a meltdown in the mortgage market.

This time, the stock market correction is being caused by an outside event (the coronavirus) with no connection to the housing industry. Many experts are saying the current situation is much more reminiscent of the challenges we had when the dot.com crash was immediately followed by 9/11. As an example, David Rosenberg, Chief Economist with Gluskin Sheff + Associates Inc., recently explained:

“What 9/11 has in common with what is happening today is that this shock has also generated fear, angst and anxiety among the general public. People avoided crowds then as they believed another terrorist attack was coming and are acting the same today to avoid getting sick. The same parts of the economy are under pressure ─ airlines, leisure, hospitality, restaurants, entertainment ─ consumer discretionary services in general.”

Why the Stock Market Correction Probably Won’t Impact Home Values | MyKCM

Since the current situation resembles the stock market correction in the early 2000s, let’s review what happened to home values during that time.The S&P dropped 45% between September 2000 and October 2002. Home prices, on the other hand, appreciated nicely at the same time. That stock market correction proved not to have any negative impact on home values.

Bottom Line

If the current situation is more like the markets in the early 2000s versus the markets during the Great Recession, home values should be minimally affected, if at all.

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Colorado Springs Market Snapshot: March 23-29

If you have questions about how the Colorado Springs real estate market has changed in the last few weeks, we would be happy to talk to you.

If you are interested in what you need to do to prepare to either list or purchase a house in the next few months check out this post where we go over things to do while at home over the next few weeks. We are always happy to discuss options and specifics about your needs.

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Don’t Let Frightening Headlines Scare You

There’s a lot of anxiety right now regarding the coronavirus pandemic. The health situation must be addressed quickly, and many are concerned about the impact on the economy as well.

Amidst all this anxiety, anyone with a megaphone – from the mainstream media to a lone blogger – has realized that bad news sells. Unfortunately, we will continue to see a rash of horrifying headlines over the next few months. Let’s make sure we aren’t paralyzed by a headline before we get the full story.

When it comes to the health issue, you should look to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or the World Health Organization (WHO) for the most reliable information.

Finding reliable resources with information on the economic impact of the virus is more difficult. For this reason, it’s important to shed some light on the situation. There are already alarmist headlines starting to appear. Here are two such examples surfacing this week.

1. Goldman Sachs Forecasts the Largest Drop in GDP in Almost 100 Years

It sounds like Armageddon. Though the headline is true, it doesn’t reflect the full essence of the Goldman Sachs forecast. The projection is actually that we’ll have a tough first half of the year, but the economy will bounce back nicely in the second half; GDP will be up 12% in the third quarter and up another 10% in the fourth.

This aligns with research from John Burns Consulting involving pandemics, the economy, and home values. They concluded:

“Historical analysis showed us that pandemics are usually V-shaped (sharp recessions that recover quickly enough to provide little damage to home prices), and some very cutting-edge search engine analysis by our Information Management team showed the current slowdown is playing out similarly thus far.”

The economy will suffer for the next few months, but then it will recover. That’s certainly not Armageddon.

2. Fed President Predicts 30% Unemployment!

That statement was made by James Bullard, President of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. What Bullard actually said was it “could” reach 30%. But let’s look at what else he said in the same Bloomberg News interview:

“This is a planned, organized partial shutdown of the U.S. economy in the second quarter,” Bullard said. “The overall goal is to keep everyone, households and businesses, whole” with government support.

According to Bloomberg, he also went on to say:

“I would see the third quarter as a transitional quarter” with the fourth quarter and first quarter next year as “quite robust” as Americans make up for lost spending. “Those quarters might be boom quarters,” he said.

Again, Bullard agrees we will have a tough first half and rebound quickly.

Bottom Line

There’s a lot of misinformation out there. If you want the best advice on what’s happening in the current housing market, let’s talk today.

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Two Big Myths in the Homebuying Process

The 2020 Millennial Home Buyer Report shows how this generation is not really any different from previous ones when it comes to homeownership goals:

“The majority of millennials not only want to own a home, but 84% of millennials in 2019 considered it a major part of the American Dream.”

Unfortunately, the myths surrounding the barriers to homeownership – especially those related to down payments and FICO® scores – might be keeping many buyers out of the arena. The piece also reveals:

“Millennials have to navigate a lot of obstacles to be able to own a home. According to our 2020 survey, saving for a down payment is the biggest barrier for 50% of millennials.”

Millennial or not, unpacking two of the biggest myths that may be standing in the way of homeownership among all generations is a great place to start the debunking process.

Myth #1: “I Need a 20% Down Payment”

Many buyers often overestimate what they need to qualify for a home loan. According to the same article:

“A down payment of 20% for a home of that price [$210,000] would be about $42,000; only about 30% of the millennials in our survey have enough in savings to cover that, not to mention the additional closing costs.”

While many potential buyers still think they need to put at least 20% down for the home of their dreams, they often don’t realize how many assistance programs are available with as little as 3% down. With a bit of research, many renters may be able to enter the housing market sooner than they ever imagined.

Myth #2: “I Need a 780 FICO® Score or Higher”

In addition to down payments, buyers are also often confused about the FICO® score it takes to qualify for a mortgage, believing they need a credit score of 780 or higher.

Two Big Myths in the Homebuying Process | MyKCM

Ellie Mae’s latest Origination Insight Report, which focuses on recently closed (approved) loans, shows the truth is, over 50% of approved loans were granted with a FICO® score below 750 (see graph below):Even today, many of the myths of the homebuying process are unfortunately keeping plenty of motivated buyers on the sidelines. In reality, it really doesn’t have to be that way.

Bottom Line

If you’re thinking of buying a home, you may have more options than you think. Let’s connect to answer your questions and help you determine your next steps.

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Buying a Home: Do You Know the Lingo?

Highlights:

  • Buying a home can be intimidating if you’re not familiar with the terms used throughout the process.
  • To point you in the right direction, here’s a list of some of the most common language you’ll hear along the way.
  • The best way to ensure your homebuying process is a positive one is to find a real estate professional who will guide you through every aspect of the transaction with ‘the heart of a teacher.’
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New Homes Coming to the Housing Market This Year

The number of building permits issued for single-family homes is the best indicator of how many newly built homes will begin to come to market over the next few months. According to the latest U.S. Census Bureau and U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development Residential Construction Report, the number of building permits issued in January was 1,551,000. This is a 9.2% increase from December.

How will this impact buyers?

New inventory means more options. Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at the National Association of Realtors (NAR),explained how this is good news for the housing market – especially for those looking to buy:

“More construction will mean more housing inventory for consumers in the later months of this year…Spring months could still be quite tough for buyers since it takes time to convert housing starts into actual housing completions.”

How will this impact sellers?

More inventory means more competition. Yun continues to say:

“As trade-up buyers move into these newly completed homes in the near future, their existing homes will be released onto the market.”

Today, because of the tremendous lack of inventory, a seller can potentially anticipate:

  1. great sale price on their house as buyers engage in potential bidding wars.
  2. quick sale as buyers have little inventory to choose from.
  3. Fewer hassles as buyers want to smoothly secure a contract.

Bottom Line

If you’re considering selling your house, you’ll want to list sooner rather than later. This way, you’ll get ahead of this new competition coming to market and ensure the most attention toward your listing and the best price for your house.

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A Note from the Brandon Smith Team

Dear Valued Clients,  

Our thoughts are with those affected by COVID-19, as well as heath care professionals, government officials and organizations who are working tirelessly on containment and caring for those in need. At The Platinum Group, Realtors the health and safety of our clients, agents and staff is our top priority.  We remain fully operational and hard at work and are taking the necessary steps to ensure we provide the best customer experience possible during this time of uncertainty. 

We recognize that this is a challenging and unprecedented time in our society and will diligently follow all guidelines set forth by the government and industry associations. We are humbled by your loyalty and trust in us and we take our responsibility seriously.  We look forward to serving all your real estate needs as we stay focused on how to serve you best!  

Some COVID-19 measures we already have in place for:

Sellers:

  • High resolution photos for listings- showcase your home to buyers online in putting your home a notch above the rest.
  • Dynamic web presence allowing virtual showings through photos and slideshow tours.
  • eContracts- allows for electronic signing of contracts and disclosures.

Buyers:

  • All properties searches are web based.
  • Video emails & text capability- allows virtual showings of house through your smart device.
  • eContracts- allows for electronic signing of contracts and disclosures.
  • Private tours through homes allowing little to no additional contact with anyone.

If you are considering buying or selling in the coming months, this is an excellent time to start working towards that goal. Listed below are some ideas you can do while you are at home.

Sellers:

  • Finish up maintenance projects you have been putting off: painting rooms, fixing leaky faucets, chalking around tubs and showers etc.
  • Clean and declutter to prepare for staging: best tip for identifying clutter is take a picture of your room. Things you frequently overlook become more obvious once you take a picture. (You are always welcome to send me the pics as well!)
  • If you are interested in a consult we can video call and I can give you some tips on what to prioritize as you walk through the home.

Buyers:

  • Get your financial information together to get ready to apply for your loan: paystubs, debt payments etc.
  • Finish up filing your taxes. You will need to have the information handy to provide to your lender.
  • Talk to your lender about the best steps regarding your credit and debt to income.
  • Use our online tools on like our website to look at different neighborhoods and help refine what you are looking for.

The market is ever changing and if you are curious about stepping into the market soon or would like to hear how this is impacting our local economy, please do not hesitate to reach out. I am keeping a close eye on interest rate, home values, supply & demand and other market factors constantly to make sure I have the capacity to keep you all well informed as we move through this issue. I hope you and your family are keeping safe, healthy and your careers are not being impacted in any negative manner.

The Brandon Smith Team