Area Real Estate News & Market Trends

You’ll find our blog to be a wealth of information, covering everything from local market statistics and home values to community happenings. That’s because we care about the community and want to help you find your place in it. Please reach out if you have any questions at all. We’d love to talk with you!

April 8, 2024

Is It Easier To Find a Home To Buy Now?

 




One of the biggest hurdles buyers have faced over the past few years has been a lack of homes available for sale. But that’s starting to change.

The graph below uses the latest data from Realtor.com to show there are more homes on the market in 2024 than there have been in any of the past several years (2021-2023):

a graph of a number of homes for sale

 

Does That Mean Finding a Home Is Easier?

The answer is yes, and no. As an article from Realtor.com says:

There were nearly 15% more homes for sale in February than a year earlier . . . That alone could jolt the housing market a bit if more “For Sale” signs continue to appear. However, the nation is still suffering from a housing shortage even with all of that new inventory.

Context is important. On the one hand, inventory is up over the past few years. That means you’ll likely have more options to choose from as you search for your next home.

But, at the same time, the graph above also shows there are still significantly fewer homes for sale than there would usually be in a more normal, pre-pandemic market. And that deficit isn’t going to be reversed overnight.

What Does This Mean for You?

You might find a few more choices now than in recent years, but you shouldn’t expect a ton of options.

To help you explore the growing list of choices you have now, team up with a local real estate agent you trust. They can really help you understand the inventory situation where you want to buy. That’s because real estate is local. An experienced agent can share some smart tips they’ve used to help other buyers in your area deal with ongoing low housing supply.

Bottom Line

If you’re thinking about buying a home, let’s team up. That way, you’ll be up to date on everything that could affect your move, including how many homes are for sale right now.

Posted in Home Buying
April 1, 2024

Single Women Are Embracing Homeownership




In today's housing market, more and more single women are becoming homeowners. According to data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), 19% of all homebuyers are single women, while only 10% are single men.

If you're a single woman trying to buy your first home, this should be encouraging. It means other people are making their dreams a reality – so you can too.

Why Homeownership Matters to So Many Women

For many single women, buying a home isn't just about having a place to live—it's also a smart way to invest for the future. Homes usually increase in value over time, so they’re a great way to build equity and overall net worth. Ksenia Potapov, Economist at First Americansays:

“. . . single women are increasingly pursuing homeownership and reaping its wealth creation benefits.”

The financial security and independence homeownership provides can be life-changing. And when you factor in the personal motivations behind buying a home, that impact becomes even clearer.

The same report from NAR shares the top reasons single women are buying a home right now, and the reality is, they’re not all financial (see chart below):

a blue and white diagram with white text

 

If any of these reasons resonate with you, maybe it’s time for you to buy too.

Work with a Trusted Real Estate Agent

If you’re a single woman looking to buy a home, it is possible, even in today’s housing market. You’ll just want to be sure you have a great real estate agent by your side.

Talk about what your goals are and why homeownership is so important to you. That way your agent can keep what’s critical for you up front as they guide you through the buying process. They’ll help you find the right home for your needs and advocate for you during negotiations. Together, you can make your dream of homeownership a reality.

Bottom Line

Homeownership is life-changing no matter who you are. Let's connect today to talk about your goals in the housing market.

Posted in Home Buying
March 25, 2024

What To Know About Credit Scores Before Buying a Home




If you want to buy a home, you should know your credit score is a critical piece of the puzzle when it comes to qualifying for a mortgage. Lenders review your credit to see if you typically make payments on time, pay back debts, and more. Your credit score can also help determine your mortgage rate. An article from US Bank explains:

“A credit score isn’t the only deciding factor on your mortgage application, but it’s a significant one. So, when you’re house shopping, it’s important to know where your credit stands and how to use it to get the best mortgage rate possible.”

That means your credit score may feel even more important to your homebuying plans right now since mortgage rates are a key factor in affordability. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the median credit score in the U.S. for those taking out a mortgage is 770. But that doesn’t mean your credit score has to be perfect. The same article from US Bank explains:

“Your credit score (commonly called a FICO Score) can range from 300 at the low end to 850 at the high end. A score of 740 or above is generally considered very good, but you don’t need that score or above to buy a home.”

Working with a trusted lender is the best way to get more information on how your credit score could factor into your home loan and the mortgage rate you’re able to get. As FICO says:

“While many lenders use credit scores like FICO Scores to help them make lending decisions, each lender has its own strategy, including the level of risk it finds acceptable. There is no single “cutoff score” used by all lenders and there are many additional factors that lenders may use to determine your actual interest rates.”

If you’re looking for ways to improve your score, Experian highlights some things you may want to focus on:

  • Your Payment History: Late payments can have a negative impact by dropping your score. Focus on making payments on time and paying any existing late charges quickly.
  • Your Debt Amount (relative to your credit limits): When it comes to your available credit amount, the less you’re using, the better. Focus on keeping this number as low as possible.
  • Credit Applications: If you’re looking to buy something, don’t apply for additional credit. When you apply for new credit, it could result in a hard inquiry on your credit that drops your score.

Bottom Line

Finding ways to make your credit score better could help you get a lower mortgage rate. If you want to learn more, talk to a trusted lender.

Posted in Home Buying
March 18, 2024

The First Step: Getting Pre-Approved for a Mortgage




a screenshot of a website

Some Highlights

Posted in Home Buying
March 11, 2024

Why We Aren't Headed for a Housing Crash




If you’re holding out hope that the housing market is going to crash and bring home prices back down, here’s a look at what the data shows. And spoiler alert: that’s not in the cards. Instead, experts say home prices are going to keep going up.

Today’s market is very different than it was before the housing crash in 2008. Here’s why.

It’s Harder To Get a Loan Now – and That’s Actually a Good Thing

It was much easier to get a home loan during the lead-up to the 2008 housing crisis than it is today. Back then, banks had different lending standards, making it easy for just about anyone to qualify for a home loan or refinance an existing one.

Things are different today. Homebuyers face increasingly higher standards from mortgage companies. The graph below uses data from the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) to show this difference. The lower the number, the harder it is to get a mortgage. The higher the number, the easier it is:

a graph showing a line going up

 

The peak in the graph shows that, back then, lending standards weren’t as strict as they are now. That means lending institutions took on much greater risk in both the person and the mortgage products offered around the crash. That led to mass defaults and a flood of foreclosures coming onto the market.

There Are Far Fewer Homes for Sale Today, so Prices Won’t Crash

Because there were too many homes for sale during the housing crisis (many of which were short sales and foreclosures), that caused home prices to fall dramatically. But today, there’s an inventory shortage – not a surplus.

The graph below uses data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and the Federal Reserve to show how the months’ supply of homes available now (shown in blue) compares to the crash (shown in red):

a graph of a number of people

 

Today, unsold inventory sits at just a 3.0-months’ supply. That’s compared to the peak of 10.4 month’s supply back in 2008. That means there’s nowhere near enough inventory on the market for home prices to come crashing down like they did back then.

People Are Not Using Their Homes as ATMs Like They Did in the Early 2000s

Back in the lead up to the housing crash, many homeowners were borrowing against the equity in their homes to finance new cars, boats, and vacations. So, when prices started to fall, as inventory rose too high, many of those homeowners found themselves underwater.

But today, homeowners are a lot more cautious. Even though prices have skyrocketed in the past few years, homeowners aren’t tapping into their equity the way they did back then.

Black Knight reports that tappable equity (the amount of equity available for homeowners to access before hitting a maximum 80% loan-to-value ratio, or LTV) has actually reached an all-time high:

 a graph of a growing graph

 

That means, as a whole, homeowners have more equity available than ever before. And that’s great. Homeowners are in a much stronger position today than in the early 2000s. That same report from Black Knight goes on to explain:

“Only 1.1% of mortgage holders (582K) ended the year underwater, down from 1.5% (807K) at this time last year.”

And since homeowners are on more solid footing today, they’ll have options to avoid foreclosure. That limits the number of distressed properties coming onto the market. And without a flood of inventory, prices won’t come tumbling down. 

Bottom Line

While you may be hoping for something that brings prices down, that’s not what the data tells us is going to happen. The most current research clearly shows that today’s market is nothing like it was last time.

Posted in Market Updates
March 4, 2024

Why You Want an Agent’s Advice for Your Move




No matter how you slice it, buying or selling a home is a big decision. And when you’re going through any change in your life and you need some guidance, what do you do? You get advice from people who know what they’re talking about.

Moving is no exception. You need insights from the pros to help you feel confident in your decision. Freddie Mac explains it like this:

“As you set out to find the right home for your family, be sure to select experienced, trusted professionals who will help you make informed decisions and avoid pitfalls.”

And while perfect advice isn’t possible – not even from the experts, what you can get is the very best advice out there.

The Power of Expert Advice

For example, let’s say you need an attorney. You start off by finding an expert in the type of law required for your case. Once you do, they won’t immediately tell you how the case is going to end, or how the judge or jury will rule. But what a good attorney can do is walk you through the most effective strategies based on their experience and help you put a plan together. They’ll even use their knowledge to adjust that plan as new information becomes available.

The job of a real estate agent is similar. Just like you can’t find a lawyer to give you perfect advice, you won’t find a real estate professional who can either. That’s because it’s impossible to know everything that’s going to happen throughout your transaction. Their role is to give you the best advice they can.

To do that, an agent will draw on their experience, industry knowledge, and market data. They know the latest trends, the ins and outs of the homebuying and selling processes, and what’s worked for other people in the same situation as you.

With that expertise, a real estate advisor can anticipate what could happen next and work with you to put together a solid plan. Then, they’ll guide you through the process, helping you make decisions along the way. That’s the very definition of getting the best – not perfect – advice. And that’s the power of working with a real estate advisor.

Bottom Line

If you’re looking to buy or sell a home, you want an expert on your side to help you each step of the way. Let’s connect so you have advice you can count on.

Feb. 26, 2024

Why Having Your Own Agent Matters When Buying a New Construction Home




Finding the right home is one of the biggest challenges for potential buyers today. Right now, the supply of homes for sale is still low. But there is a bright spot. Newly built homes make up a larger percent of the total homes available for sale than normal. That’s why, if you’re craving more options, it makes sense to see if a newly built home is right for you.

But it’s important to remember the process of working with a builder is different than buying from a homeowner. And, while builders typically have sales agents on-site, having your own agent helps make sure you have proper representation throughout your homebuying journey. As Realtor.com says:

“Keep in mind that the on-site agent you meet at a new-construction office works for the builder. So, as the homebuyer, it’s a smart idea to bring in your own agent, as well, to help you negotiate and stay protected in the transaction.”

Here’s how having your own agent is key when you build or buy a new construction home.

Agents Know the Local Area and Market

It’s important to consider how the neighborhood and surrounding area may evolve before making your home purchase. Your agent is well-versed in the upcoming communities and developments that could influence your decision. One way a real estate agent can help is by reviewing the builder's site plan. For example, you’ll want to know if there are any plans to construct a highway or add a drainage ditch behind your prospective backyard.

Knowledge of Construction Quality and Builder Reputation

An agent also has expertise in the construction quality and reputation of different builders. They can give you insights into each one's track record, customer satisfaction, and construction practices. Armed with this information, you can choose a builder known for consistently delivering top-notch homes.

Assistance with Customization and Upgrades

The most obvious benefit of opting for new home construction is the opportunity to customize your home. Your agent will guide you through that process and share advice on the upgrades that are most likely to add long-term value to your home. Their expertise helps make sure you focus your budget on areas that will give you the greatest return on your investment later.

Understanding Builder Negotiations and Contracts

When it comes to working with builders, having a skilled negotiator on your side can make all the difference. Builder contracts can be complex. Your agent can help you navigate these contracts to make sure you fully understand the terms and conditions. Plus, agents are skilled negotiators who can advocate for you, potentially securing better deals, upgrades, or incentives throughout the process. As Realtor.com says:

“A good buyer’s agent will be able to review any contracts before you sign on the dotted line, ensuring you aren’t unwittingly agreeing to terms that only benefit the builder.” 

Bottom Line

If you are interested in buying or building a new construction home, having a trusted agent by your side can make a big difference. If you'd like to start that conversation, let’s connect.

Feb. 19, 2024

There’s No Foreclosure Wave in Sight




Some Highlights

  • Headlines saying foreclosures are rising might make you feel uneasy. But the truth is, there’s no need to worry.
  • If you look at the latest numbers, they’re still below pre-pandemic norms and way below what happened during the crash.
  • If you're worried about a flood of foreclosures, the data shows a foreclosure crisis is not where the market is today and is not where it’s headed.
Posted in Market Updates
Feb. 12, 2024

Don’t Wait Until Spring To Sell Your House




As you think about the year ahead, one of your big goals may be moving. But, how do you know when to make your move? While spring is usually the peak homebuying season, you don’t actually need to wait until spring to sell. Here's why.

1. Take Advantage of Lower Mortgage Rates

Last October, the 30-year fixed mortgage rates peaked at 7.79%. In January, they hit their lowest level since May. That means you may not feel as locked-in to your current mortgage rate right now. That downward trend in rates has made moving more affordable now than it was just a few months ago.

Another reason today’s rates make now a good time to sell? More buyers are jumping back into the market. Many had been waiting on the sidelines for rates to fall, but now that that’s happening, they’re eager and ready to buy. That means more demand for your house. According to Sam Khater, Chief Economist at Freddie Mac:

“Given this stabilization in rates, potential homebuyers with affordability concerns have jumped off the fence back into the market.”

2. Get Ahead of Your Competition

Right now, there are still more people looking to buy a home than there are houses for sale, which puts you in a great position. But keep in mind, with the recent uptick in new listings, we’re seeing more sellers may already be re-entering the market.

Listing your house now helps you beat your competition and makes sure your house will stand out. And if you work with an agent to price it right, it could sell fast and get multiple offers. U.S. News explains:

“When there is low housing inventory, sellers could get top dollar for their homes.”

3. Make the Most of Rising Home Prices

Experts forecast home prices will keep going up this year. What does that mean for you? If you're ready to sell your current house and plan to buy another one, it may be a good idea to think about moving now before prices go up more. That would give you the chance to buy your next home before it gets more expensive.

4. Leverage Your Equity

Homeowners today have tremendous amounts of equity. In fact, a recent report from CoreLogic says the average homeowner with a mortgage has more than $300,000 in equity.

If you've been waiting to sell because you were worried about home affordability, know your equity can really help with your next move. It might even cover a big part, or maybe all, of the down payment for your next home.

Bottom Line

If you're thinking about selling your house and moving to another one, let’s connect to get the process started now so you can get a leg up on your competition.

Posted in Home Selling
Feb. 5, 2024

Foreclosure Activity Is Still Lower than the Norm




Have you seen headlines talking about the increase in foreclosures in today’s housing market? If so, they may leave you feeling a bit uneasy about what’s ahead. But remember, these clickbait titles don’t always give you the full story.

The truth is, if you compare the current numbers with what usually happens in the market, you’ll see there’s no need to worry.

Putting the Headlines into Perspective

The increase the media is calling attention to is misleading. That’s because they’re only comparing the most recent numbers to a time where foreclosures were at historic lows. And that’s making it sound like a bigger deal than it is.

In 2020 and 2021, the moratorium and forbearance program helped millions of homeowners stay in their homes, allowing them to get back on their feet during a very challenging period.

When the moratorium came to an end, there was an expected rise in foreclosures. But just because foreclosures are up doesn’t mean the housing market is in trouble.

Historical Data Shows There Isn’t a Wave of Foreclosures

Instead of comparing today’s numbers with the last few abnormal years, it’s better to compare to long-term trends – specifically to the housing crash – since that’s what people worry may happen again.

Take a look at the graph below. It uses foreclosure data from ATTOM, a property data provider, to show foreclosure activity has been consistently lower (shown in orange) since the crash in 2008 (shown in red):

 

So, while foreclosure filings are up in the latest report, it’s clear this is nothing like it was back then.

In fact, we’re not even back at the levels we’d see in more normal years, like 2019. As Rick Sharga, Founder and CEO of the CJ Patrick Companyexplains:

Foreclosure activity is still only at about 60% of pre-pandemic levels. . .”

That’s largely because buyers today are more qualified and less likely to default on their loans. Delinquency rates are still low and most homeowners have enough equity to keep them from going into foreclosure. As Molly Boesel, Principal Economist at CoreLogic, says:

“U.S. mortgage delinquency rates remained healthy in October, with the overall delinquency rate unchanged from a year earlier and the serious delinquency rate remaining at a historic low… borrowers in later stages of delinquencies are finding alternatives to defaulting on their home loans.”

The reality is, while increasing, the data shows a foreclosure crisis is not where the market is today, or where it’s headed.

Bottom Line

Even though the housing market is experiencing an expected rise in foreclosures, it’s nowhere near the crisis levels seen when the housing bubble burst. If you have questions about what you’re hearing or reading about the housing market, let’s connect.

Posted in Market Updates