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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

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5 Simple Graphs Proving This Is NOT Like the Last Time

With all of the volatility in the stock market and uncertainty about the Coronavirus (COVID-19), some are concerned we may be headed for another housing crash like the one we experienced from 2006-2008. The feeling is understandable. Ali Wolf, Director of Economic Research at the real estate consulting firm Meyers Research, addressed this point in a recent interview:

“With people having PTSD from the last time, they’re still afraid of buying at the wrong time.”

There are many reasons, however, indicating this real estate market is nothing like 2008. Here are five visuals to show the dramatic differences.

1. Mortgage standards are nothing like they were back then.

5 Simple Graphs Proving This Is NOT Like the Last Time | MyKCM

During the housing bubble, it was difficult NOT to get a mortgage. Today, it is tough to qualify. The Mortgage Bankers’ Association releases a Mortgage Credit Availability Index which is “a summary measure which indicates the availability of mortgage credit at a point in time.” The higher the index, the easier it is to get a mortgage. As shown below, during the housing bubble, the index skyrocketed. Currently, the index shows how getting a mortgage is even more difficult than it was before the bubble.

2. Prices are not soaring out of control.

5 Simple Graphs Proving This Is NOT Like the Last Time | MyKCM

Below is a graph showing annual house appreciation over the past six years, compared to the six years leading up to the height of the housing bubble. Though price appreciation has been quite strong recently, it is nowhere near the rise in prices that preceded the crash.There’s a stark difference between these two periods of time. Normal appreciation is 3.6%, so while current appreciation is higher than the historic norm, it’s certainly not accelerating beyond control as it did in the early 2000s.

3. We don’t have a surplus of homes on the market. We have a shortage.

5 Simple Graphs Proving This Is NOT Like the Last Time | MyKCM

The months’ supply of inventory needed to sustain a normal real estate market is approximately six months. Anything more than that is an overabundance and will causes prices to depreciate. Anything less than that is a shortage and will lead to continued appreciation. As the next graph shows, there were too many homes for sale in 2007, and that caused prices to tumble. Today, there’s a shortage of inventory which is causing an acceleration in home values.

4. Houses became too expensive to buy.

5 Simple Graphs Proving This Is NOT Like the Last Time | MyKCM

The affordability formula has three components: the price of the home, the wages earned by the purchaser, and the mortgage rate available at the time. Fourteen years ago, prices were high, wages were low, and mortgage rates were over 6%. Today, prices are still high. Wages, however, have increased and the mortgage rate is about 3.5%. That means the average family pays less of their monthly income toward their mortgage payment than they did back then. Here’s a graph showing that difference:

5. People are equity rich, not tapped out.

5 Simple Graphs Proving This Is NOT Like the Last Time | MyKCM

In the run-up to the housing bubble, homeowners were using their homes as a personal ATM machine. Many immediately withdrew their equity once it built up, and they learned their lesson in the process. Prices have risen nicely over the last few years, leading to over fifty percent of homes in the country having greater than 50% equity. But owners have not been tapping into it like the last time. Here is a table comparing the equity withdrawal over the last three years compared to 2005, 2006, and 2007. Homeowners have cashed out over $500 billion dollars less than before:During the crash, home values began to fall, and sellers found themselves in a negative equity situation (where the amount of the mortgage they owned was greater than the value of their home). Some decided to walk away from their homes, and that led to a rash of distressed property listings (foreclosures and short sales), which sold at huge discounts, thus lowering the value of other homes in the area. That can’t happen today.

Bottom Line

If you’re concerned we’re making the same mistakes that led to the housing crash, take a look at the charts and graphs above to help alleviate your fears.

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Real Estate Is Soaring, But Not Like 2008

Unlike last year, the residential real estate market kicked off 2020 with a bang! In their latest Monthly Mortgage MonitorBlack Knight proclaimed:

“The housing market is heating entering 2020 and recent rate declines could continue that trend, a sharp contrast to the strong cooling that was seen at this same time last year.”

Zillow revealed they’re also seeing a robust beginning to the year. Jeff Tucker, Zillow Economist, said:

“Our first look at 2020 data suggests that we could see the most competitive home shopping season in years, as buyers are already competing over…homes for sale.”

Buying demand is very strong. The latest Showing Index from ShowingTime reported a 20.2% year-over-year increase in purchaser traffic across the country, the sixth consecutive month of nationwide growth, and the largest increase in the history of the index.

The even better news is that buyers are not just looking. The latest Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) showed that closed sales increased 9.6% from a year ago.

This increase in overall activity has caused Zelman & Associates to increase their projection for home price appreciation in 2020 from 3.7% to 4.7%.

Are we headed for another housing crash like we had last decade?

Whenever price appreciation begins to accelerate, the fear of the last housing boom and bust creeps into the minds of the American population. The pain felt during the last housing crash scarred us deeply, and understandably so. The crash led us into the Great Recession of 2008.

Real Estate Is Soaring, But Not Like 2008 | MyKCM

If we take a closer look, however, we can see the current situation is nothing like it was in the last decade. As an example, let’s look at price appreciation for the six years prior to the last boom (2006) and compare it to the last six years:There’s a stark difference between these two periods of time. Normal appreciation is 3.6%, so while current appreciation is higher than the historic norm, it’s certainly not accelerating beyond control as it did leading up to the housing crash.

Today, the strength of the housing market is actually helping prevent a setback in the overall economy. In a recent post, Odeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist for First American explained:

“While the housing crisis is still fresh on the minds of many, and was the catalyst of the Great Recession, the U.S. housing market has weathered all other recessions since 1980. With the exception of the Great Recession, house price appreciation hardly skipped a beat and year-over-year existing-home sales growth barely declined in all the other previous recessions in the last 40 years…In 2020, we argue the housing market is more likely poised to help stave off recession than fall victim to it.”

Bottom Line

The year has started off very nicely for the residential housing market. If you’re thinking of buying or selling, now may be the time to get together to discuss your options.

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How Your Tax Refund Can Move You Toward Homeownership This Year

If you’re looking to buy a home in 2020, have you thought about putting your tax refund toward a down payment? Homeownership may be one step closer than you think if you spend your dollars wisely this year.

Based on data released by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Americans can expect an estimated average refund of $2,962 when filing their taxes this year.

How Your Tax Refund Can Move You Toward Homeownership This Year | MyKCM

The map below shows the average tax refund Americans received last year by state:According to programs from the Federal Housing Authority, Freddie Mac, and Fannie Mae, many first-time buyers can purchase a home with as little as 3% down. Truth be told, a 20% down payment is not always required to buy a home, even though that’s a common misconception about homebuying. Veterans Affairs Loans allow many veterans to purchase a home with 0% down.

How can my tax refund help?

If you’re a first-time buyer, your tax refund may cover more of a down payment than you ever thought possible.

How Your Tax Refund Can Move You Toward Homeownership This Year | MyKCM

If you take into account the median home sale price by state, the map below shows the percentage of a 3% down payment that’s covered by the average tax refund:The darker the blue, the closer your tax refund gets you to homeownership in one of these programs. Maybe this is the year to plan ahead and put your tax refund toward a down payment on a home.

Bottom Line

Saving for a down payment can seem like a daunting task, but the more you know about what’s required, the more prepared you’ll be to make the best decision for you and your family. This tax season, your refund could be your key to homeownership.

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Impact of the Coronavirus on the U.S. Housing Market

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) has caused massive global uncertainty, including a U.S. stock market correction no one could have seen coming. While much of the news has been about the effect on various markets, let’s also acknowledge the true impact it continues to have on lives and families around the world.

With all this uncertainty, how do you make powerful and confident decisions in regard to your real estate plans?

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) anticipates:

“At the very least, the coronavirus could cause some people to put home sales on hold.”

While this is an understandable approach, it is important to balance that with how it may end up costing you in the long run. If you’re considering buying or selling a home, it is key to educate yourself so that you can take thoughtful and intentional next steps for your future.

For example, when there’s fear in the world, we see lower mortgage interest rates as investors flee stocks for the safety of U.S. bonds. This connection should be considered when making real estate decisions.

According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB):

“The Fed’s action was expected but perhaps not to this degree and timing. And the policy change was consistent with recent declines for interest rates in the bond market. These declines should push mortgage interest rates closer to a low 3% average for the 30-year fixed rate mortgage.”

This is exactly what we’re experiencing right now as mortgage interest rates hover at the lowest levels in the history of the housing market.

Bottom Line

The full impact of the Coronavirus is still not yet known. It is in times like these that working with an informed and educated real estate professional can make all the difference in the world.

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The Difference an Hour Makes

Some Highlights:

  • Don’t forget to set your clocks forward this Sunday, March 8 at 2:00 AM EST in observance of Daylight Saving Time, unless you’re a resident of Arizona or Hawaii!
  • Every hour in the United States, 568 homes are sold and median home values rise by $1.92.
  • As we “spring forward” this year, let’s get together to see how you can take advantage of every hour in the housing market.
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The Overlooked Financial Advantages of Homeownership

There are many clear financial benefits to owning a home: increasing equity, building net worth, growing appreciation, and more. If you’re a renter, it’s never too early to make a plan for how homeownership can propel you toward a stronger future. Here’s a dive into three often-overlooked financial benefits of homeownership and how preparing for them now can steer you in the direction of greater stability, savings, and predictability.

1. You Won’t Always Have a Monthly Housing Payment

According to a recent article by the National Association of Realtors (NAR):

“If you’ve been a lifelong renter, this may sound like a foreign concept, but believe it or not, one day you won’t have a monthly housing payment. Unlike renting, you will eventually pay off your mortgage and your monthly payments will be funding other (possibly more fun) things.”

As a homeowner, someday you can eliminate the monthly payment you make on your house. That’s a huge win and a big factor in how homeownership can drive stability and savings in your life. As soon as you buy a home, your monthly housing costs will begin to work for you as forced savings, coming in the form of equity. As you build equity and grow your net worth, you can continue to reinvest those savings into your future, maybe even by buying that next dream home. The possibilities are truly endless.

2. Homeownership Is a Tax Break

One thing people who have never owned a home don’t always think about are the tax advantages of homeownership. The same piece states:

“Both the interest and property tax portion of your mortgage is a tax deduction. As long as the balance of your mortgage is less than the total price of your home, the interest is 100% deductible on your tax return.”

Whether you’re living in your first home or your fifth, it’s a huge financial advantage to have some tax relief tied to the interest you pay each year. It’s one thing you definitely don’t get when you’re renting. Be sure to work with a tax professional to get the best possible benefits on your annual return.

3. Monthly Housing Costs Are Predictable

A third item noted in the article is how monthly costs become more predictable with homeownership:

As a homeowner, your monthly costs are most likely based on a fixed-rate mortgage, which allows you to budget your finances over a long period of time, unlike the unpredictability of renting.”

With a mortgage, you can keep your monthly housing costs steady and predictable. Rental prices have been skyrocketing since 2012, and with today’s low mortgage rates, it’s a great time to get more for your money when purchasing a home. If you want to lock-in your monthly payment at a low rate and have a solid understanding of what you’re going to spend in your mortgage payment each month, buying a home may be your best bet.

Bottom Line

If you’re ready to start feeling the benefits of stability, savings, and predictability that come with owning a home, let’s get together to determine if buying a home sooner rather than later is right for you.