Wondering How Much You Need To Save for a Down Payment?

Wondering How Much You Need To Save for a Down Payment? | Simplifying The Market

If you’re getting ready to buy your first home, you’re likely focused on saving up for everything that purchase involves. One cost that’s likely top of mind is your down payment. But don’t let a common misconception about how much you need to save make the process harder than it could be.

Understand 20% Isn’t Always the Typical Down Payment

Freddie Mac explains:

“. . . nearly a third of prospective homebuyers think they need a down payment of 20% or more to buy a home. This myth remains one of the largest perceived barriers to achieving homeownership.

Unless specified by your loan type or lender, it’s typically not required to put 20% down. This means you could be closer to your homebuying dream than you realize. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the median down payment hasn’t been over 20% since 2005. In fact, the median down payment today is only 14%. And it’s even lower for first-time homebuyers at just 6% (see graph below):

Wondering How Much You Need To Save for a Down Payment? | Simplifying The Market

Learn About Options That Can Help You Toward Your Goal

If saving for a down payment still feels like a challenge, know that there’s help available. A real estate professional and trusted lender can show you options that could help you get closer to your down payment goal. According to latest Homeownership Program Index from Down Payment Resource, there are over 2,000 homebuyer assistance programs in the U.S., and the majority are intended to help with down payments.

Plus there are even loan types, like FHA loans, with down payments as low as 3.5%, as well as options like VA loans and USDA loans with no down payment requirements for qualified applicants.

To understand your options, be sure to do your homework. If you’re interested in learning more about down payment assistance programs, information is available through sites like Down Payment Resource. Then, partner with a trusted lender to learn what you qualify for on your homebuying journey.

Bottom Line

Remember, a 20% down payment isn’t always required. If you want to purchase a home this year, let’s connect. You’ll also want to make sure you have a trusted lender so you can explore your down payment options.

Applying For a Mortgage? Here’s What You Should Avoid Once You Do.

Applying For a Mortgage? Here’s What You Should Avoid Once You Do. | Simplifying The Market

While it’s exciting to start thinking about moving in and decorating after you’ve applied for your mortgage, there are some key things to keep in mind before you close. Here’s a list of things you may not realize you need to avoid after applying for your home loan.

Don’t Deposit Large Sums of Cash

Lenders need to source your money, and cash isn’t easily traceable. Before you deposit any amount of cash into your accounts, discuss the proper way to document your transactions with your loan officer.

Don’t Make Any Large Purchases

It’s not just home-related purchases that could disqualify you from your loan. Any large purchases can be red flags for lenders. People with new debt have higher debt-to-income ratios (how much debt you have compared to your monthly income). Since higher ratios make for riskier loans, borrowers may no longer qualify for their mortgage. Resist the temptation to make any large purchases, even for furniture or appliances.

Don’t Cosign Loans for Anyone

When you cosign for a loan, you’re making yourself accountable for that loan’s success and repayment. With that obligation comes higher debt-to-income ratios as well. Even if you promise you won’t be the one making the payments, your lender will have to count the payments against you.

Don’t Switch Bank Accounts

Lenders need to source and track your assets. That task is much easier when there’s consistency among your accounts. Before you transfer any money, speak with your loan officer.

Don’t Apply for New Credit

It doesn’t matter whether it’s a new credit card or a new car, when you have your credit report run by organizations in multiple financial channels (mortgage, credit card, auto, etc.), it will have an impact on your FICO® score. Lower credit scores can determine your interest rate and possibly even your eligibility for approval.

Don’t Close Any Accounts

Many buyers believe having less available credit makes them less risky and more likely to be approved. This isn’t true. A major component of your score is your length and depth of credit history (as opposed to just your payment history) and your total usage of credit as a percentage of available credit. Closing accounts has a negative impact on both of those aspects of your score.

Do Discuss Changes with Your Lender

Be upfront about any changes that occur or you’re expecting to occur when talking with your lender. Blips in income, assets or credit should be reviewed and executed in a way that ensures your home loan can still be approved. If your job or employment status has changed recently, share that with your lender as well. Ultimately, it’s best to fully disclose and discuss your intentions with your loan officer before you do anything financial in nature.

Bottom Line

You want your home purchase to go as smoothly as possible. Remember, before you make any large purchases, move your money around, or make major life changes, be sure to consult your lender – someone who’s qualified to explain how your financial decisions may impact your home loan.

Confused About What’s Going on in the Housing Market? Lean on a Professional.

Confused About What’s Going on in the Housing Market? Lean on a Professional. | Simplifying The Market

If you’re thinking about buying or selling a home, you probably want to know what’s really happening with home prices, mortgage rates, housing supply, and more. That’s not an easy task considering how sensationalized headlines are today. Jay Thompson, Real Estate Industry Consultant, explains:

“Housing market headlines are everywhere. Many are quite sensational, ending with exclamation points or predicting impending doom for the industry. Clickbait, the sensationalizing of headlines and content, has been an issue since the dawn of the internet, and housing news is not immune to it.

Unfortunately, when information in the media isn’t clear, it can generate a lot of fear and uncertainty in the market. As Jason Lewris, Cofounder and Chief Data Officer at Parcl, says:

In the absence of trustworthy, up-to-date information, real estate decisions are increasingly being driven by fear, uncertainty, and doubt.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Buying or selling a home is a big decision, and it should be one you feel confident making. To help you separate fact from fiction and get the answers you need, lean on a local real estate advisor.

A trusted expert is your best resource to understand what’s happening at the national and local levels. They’ll be able to debunk the headlines using data you can trust. And using their in-depth knowledge of the industry, they’ll provide context so you know how current trends compare to the normal ebbs and flows in the industry, historical data and more.

Then, to make sure you have the full picture, they’ll tell you if your local area is following the national trend or if they’re seeing something different in your market. Together, you’ll use all of that information to make the best possible decision for you.

After all, making a move is a potentially life-changing milestone. It should be something you feel ready for and excited about. And that’s where an agent comes in.

Bottom Line

If you have questions about the headlines or what’s happening in the housing market today, let’s connect so you have expert insights and advice on your side.

Financial Fundamentals for First-Time Homebuyers

Financial Fundamentals for First-Time Homebuyers | Simplifying The Market

Are you prepping to buy your first home? If so, one of the steps you should take early on is making sure you’re financially ready for your purchase. Here are just a few of the financial fundamentals you’ll need to focus on as you set out to buy a home.

Build Your Credit

Your credit is one element that helps determine which home loan you’ll qualify for. It also impacts your mortgage interest rate. While there are many factors that go into your mortgage application, a higher credit score could lead to a lower monthly payment in the long run.

So how do you make sure your credit is in the best shape possible when it’s time to buy? A recent article from NerdWallet lists a few tips you can use as you work to build and strengthen your credit. They include:

  • Tracking your credit and disputing any errors that show up on your reports.
  • Paying your bills on time. This includes making loan payments and paying down any open lines of credit.
  • Keeping your credit card balances low. Paying more than your minimum monthly balance when you’re able can help.

Automate Your Savings for Your House Fund

You might also be wondering how you can achieve your down payment savings goals. Bankrate provides buyers with a number of tips to help you save, including searching for down payment assistance programs and ways you can save more, faster. As the article says:

“One of the best ways to save for anything — including a down payment — is to set it and forget it. If you receive a regular paycheck, ask your employer to direct a portion of that payment into a savings account. If you’re a freelance worker or independent contractor, set up a recurring transfer from a checking account to a savings account to establish the routine.”

Get Pre-Approved

As you prepare for your purchase, you’ll also need to have a good grasp on your budget and how much you’ll be able to borrow for your home loan. That’s where the pre-approval process comes in.

Pre-approval from a lender lets you know how much money you can borrow for your home loan. And having that knowledge, plus an understanding of your savings, can help you decide on your target price range for a house.

From there, you can start browsing for houses online and see what’s available in your area in that general price point. This can help you really understand your options so you can start to picture your future home.

For Customized Advice, Build a Team of Professionals

Finally, the best way to make you’re prepared for your purchase is to connect with trusted real estate professionals. Having expert advisors in the industry will help you make strong decisions throughout the homebuying process based on your specific goals, finances, and situation. They know the market and can guide you toward the home of your dreams.

Bottom Line

If you’re ready to get the homebuying process started, let’s connect so you can begin to build your team of professionals today.

Mortgage Rates Are Dropping. What Does That Mean for You?

Mortgage Rates Are Dropping. What Does That Mean for You? | Simplifying The Market

Mortgage rates have been a hot topic in the housing market over the past 12 months. Compared to the beginning of 2022, rates have risen dramatically. Now they’re dropping, and that has to do with everything happening in the economy.

Nadia Evangelou, Senior Economist and Director of Forecasting at the National Association of Realtors (NAR), explains it well by saying:

Mortgage rates dropped even further this week as two main factors affecting today’s mortgage market became more favorable. Inflation continued to ease while the Federal Reserve switched to a smaller interest rate hike. As a result, according to Freddie Mac, the 30-year fixed mortgage rate fell to 6.31% from 6.33% the previous week.”

So, what does that mean for your homeownership plans? As mortgage rates fluctuate, they impact your purchasing power by influencing the cost of buying a home. Even a small dip can help boost your purchasing power. Here’s how it works.

The median-priced home according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR) is $379,100. So, let’s assume you want to buy a $400,000 home. If you’re trying to shop at that price point and keep your monthly payment about $2,500-2,600 or below, here’s how your purchasing power can change as mortgage rates move up or down (see chart below). The red shows payments above that threshold and the green indicates a payment within your target range.

Mortgage Rates Are Dropping. What Does That Mean for You? | Simplifying The Market

This goes to show, even a small quarter-point change in mortgage rates can impact your monthly mortgage payment. That’s why it’s important to work with a trusted real estate professional who follows what the experts are projecting for mortgage rates for the days, months, and year ahead.

Bottom Line

Mortgage rates are likely to fluctuate depending on what happens with inflation moving forward, but they have dropped slightly in recent weeks. If a 7% rate was too high for you, it may be time to contact a lender to see if the current rate is more in line with your goal for a monthly housing expense.

You May Have More Negotiation Power When You Buy a Home Today

You May Have More Negotiation Power When You Buy a Home Today | Simplifying The Market

Did the frequency and intensity of bidding wars over the past two years make you put your home search on hold? If so, you should know the hyper competitive market has cooled this year as buyer demand has moderated and housing supply has grown. Those two factors combined mean you may see less competition from other buyers.

And with less competition comes more opportunity. Here are two trends that may be the news you need to reenter the market.

1. The Return of Contingencies

Over the last two years, more buyers were willing to skip important steps in the homebuying process, like the appraisal or the inspection, in hopes of gaining an advantage in a bidding war.  But now, things are different.

The latest data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows the percentage of buyers waiving their home inspection or appraisal is down. And a recent article from realtor.com points out more sellers are accepting contingencies:

“A year ago, sellers were calling all the shots and buyers were launching legendary bidding wars, waiving contingencies, and paying for homes in cash. But now, the shoe is on the other foot, and 92% of home sellers are accepting some buyer-friendly terms (frequently related to home inspections, financing, or appraisals), . . .”

This doesn’t mean we’re in a buyers’ market now, but it does mean you have a bit more leverage when it comes time to negotiate with a seller. The days of feeling like you may need to waive contingencies or pay drastically over asking price to get your offer considered may be coming to a close.

2. Sellers Are More Willing To Help with Closing Costs

Before the pandemic, it was a common negotiation tactic for sellers to cover some of the buyer’s closing costs to sweeten the deal. This didn’t happen as much during the peak buyer frenzy over the past two years.

Today, data suggests this is making a comeback. A realtor.com survey shows 32% of sellers paid some or all of their buyer’s closing costs. This may be a negotiation tool you’ll see as you go to purchase a home. Just keep in mind, limits on closing cost credits are set by your lender and can vary by state and loan type. Work closely with your loan advisor to understand how much a seller can contribute to closing costs in your area.

Bottom Line

Despite the extremely competitive housing market of the past several years, today’s data suggests negotiations are starting to come back to the table. To find out how the market is shifting in our area, let’s connect today.

Homeownership Is an Investment in Your Future

Homeownership Is an Investment in Your Future | Simplifying The Market

There are many people thinking about buying a home, but with everything affecting the economy, some are wondering if it’s a smart decision to buy now or if it makes more sense to wait it out. As Bob Broeksmit, President and CEO of the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), explains:

The desire for homeownership is strong. Many prospective buyers are waiting for the volatility in mortgage rates to subside, as well as for a clearer picture of the economic outlook.”

If you’re in that position, remember that it’s important to consider not just what’s happening today but also what benefits you may gain in the long run.

There’s a lot of information out there about how homeownership helps build a homeowner’s net worth over time. But even today, many people think first about things like 401(k)s before they think of owning a home as a wealth-building tool. It’s especially important if you’re a young prospective homebuyer to understand how homeownership is another key way to invest in your future. An article from Bloomberg notes:

“Millennials have higher average 401(k) balances than Generation X did when they were the same age, but they’re not any better off financially. . . . A lot of that has to do with being less likely to own a home.”

To help you understand just how much owning a home can have a positive impact on your life over the years, take a look at what the data shows. The same Bloomberg article helps show the gap in wealth between renters and homeowners who are 65 years and older (see graph below). The difference is substantial, even when incomes are similar.

Homeownership Is an Investment in Your Future | Simplifying The Market

So, if you want to create wealth to help set you up for success later on, it may be time to prioritize homeownership. That’s because, whether you decide to rent or buy a home, you’ll have a monthly housing expense either way. The question is: are you going to invest in yourself and your future, or will you help someone else (your landlord) increase their wealth?

Bottom Line

Before putting your homeownership plans on hold, let’s connect to go over your options. That way, you’ll have expert advice on how to make the best decision right now and the best investment in your future.

Key Advantages of Buying a Home Today

Key Advantages of Buying a Home Today | Simplifying The Market

There’s no doubt buying a home today is different than it was over the past couple of years, and the shift in the market has led to advantages for buyers today. Right now, there are specific reasons that make this housing market attractive for those who’ve thought about buying but have sidelined their search due to rising mortgage rates.

Buying a home in any market is a personal decision, and the best way to make that decision is to educate yourself on the facts, not following sensationalized headlines in the news today.  The reality is, headlines do more to terrify people thinking about buying a home than they do to clarify what’s actually going on with real estate.

Here are three reasons potential homebuyers should consider buying a home today.

1. More Homes Are for Sale Right Now

According to data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), this year, the supply of homes for sale has grown significantly compared to where we started the year (see graph below):

Key Advantages of Buying a Home Today | Simplifying The Market

 

This growth has happened for two reasons: homeowners listing their homes for sale and homes staying on the market a bit longer as buyer demand has moderated in response to higher mortgage rates.

The good news for you is that more inventory means more homes to choose from. And when there are more homes on the market, you could also see less competition from other buyers because the peak frenzy of competing over the same home has eased too.

2. Home Prices Are Not Projected To Crash

Experts don’t believe home prices will crash like they did in 2008. Instead, home prices will moderate at various levels depending on the local market and the factors, like supply and demand, at play in that area. That’s why some experts are calling for slight appreciation and others are calling for slight depreciation (see graph below):

Key Advantages of Buying a Home Today | Simplifying The Market

If you consider the big picture and average the expert forecasts for 2023 together, the expectation is for relatively flat or neutral price appreciation next year. So, if you’re worried about buying a home because you’re afraid home prices will crash like they did in 2008, rest assured that’s not what expert projections tell us.

3. Mortgage Rates Have Risen, but They Will Come Down

While mortgage rates have risen dramatically this year, the rapid increases we’ve seen have moderated in recent weeks as early signs hint that inflation may be easing slightly. Where they’ll go from here largely depends on what happens next with inflation. If inflation does truly begin to cool, mortgage rates may come down as a result.

When that happens, expect more buyers to jump back into the market. For you, that means you’ll once again face more competition. Buying your house now before more buyers reenter the market could help you get one step ahead. As Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist for NAR, says:

The upcoming months should see a return of buyers, as mortgage rates appear to have already peaked and have been coming down since mid-November.”

When mortgage rates come down, those waiting on the sidelines will jump back in. Your advantage is getting in before they do.

Bottom Line

If you’re thinking about buying a home, you should seriously consider the advantages today’s market offers. Let’s connect so you can make the dream of homeownership a reality. 

Prioritizing Your Wants and Needs as a Homebuyer in Today’s Market

Prioritizing Your Wants and Needs as a Homebuyer in Today’s Market | Simplifying The Market

There’s no denying mortgage rates are higher now than they were last year. And if you’re thinking about buying a home, this may be top of mind for you. That’s because those higher rates impact how much it costs to borrow money for your home loan. As you set out to make a purchase this winter, you’ll need to be strategic so you can find a home that meets your needs and budget.

Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at realtor.com, explains:

“The key to making a good decision in this challenging housing market is to be laser focused on what you need now and in the years ahead, . . . Another key point is to avoid stretching your budget, as tempting as it may be given the diminished purchasing power.”

In other words, it’s important to be mindful of what’s a necessity and what’s a nice-to-have when searching for a home. And the best way to understand this is to put together a list of desired features for your home search.

The first step? Get pre-approved for a mortgage. Pre-approval helps you better understand what you can borrow for your home loan, and that plays an important role in how you’ll craft your list. After all, you don’t want to fall in love with a home that’s out of reach. Once you have a good grasp of your budget, you can begin to list (and prioritize) all the features of a home you would like.

Here’s a great way to think about them before you begin:

  • Must-Haves – If a house doesn’t have these features, it won’t work for you and your lifestyle (examples: distance from work or loved ones, number of bedrooms/bathrooms, etc.).
  • Nice-To-Haves – These are features that you’d love to have but can live without. Nice-To-Haves aren’t dealbreakers, but if you find a home that hits all the must-haves and some of the these, it’s a contender (examples: a second home office, a garage, etc.).
  • Dream State – This is where you can really think big. Again, these aren’t features you’ll need, but if you find a home in your budget that has all the must-haves, most of the nice-to-haves, and any of these, it’s a clear winner (examples: farmhouse sink, multiple walk-in closets, etc.).

Finally, once you’ve created your list and categorized it in a way that works for you, discuss it with your real estate advisor. They’ll be able to help you refine the list further, coach you through the best way to stick to it, and find a home in your area that meets your needs.

Bottom Line

Putting together your list of necessary features for your next home might seem like a small task, but it’s a crucial first step on your homebuying journey today. If you’re ready to find a home that fits your needs, let’s connect.

Prioritizing Your Wants and Needs as a Homebuyer in Today’s Market

Prioritizing Your Wants and Needs as a Homebuyer in Today’s Market | Simplifying The Market

There’s no denying mortgage rates are higher now than they were last year. And if you’re thinking about buying a home, this may be top of mind for you. That’s because those higher rates impact how much it costs to borrow money for your home loan. As you set out to make a purchase this winter, you’ll need to be strategic so you can find a home that meets your needs and budget.

Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at realtor.com, explains:

“The key to making a good decision in this challenging housing market is to be laser focused on what you need now and in the years ahead, . . . Another key point is to avoid stretching your budget, as tempting as it may be given the diminished purchasing power.”

In other words, it’s important to be mindful of what’s a necessity and what’s a nice-to-have when searching for a home. And the best way to understand this is to put together a list of desired features for your home search.

The first step? Get pre-approved for a mortgage. Pre-approval helps you better understand what you can borrow for your home loan, and that plays an important role in how you’ll craft your list. After all, you don’t want to fall in love with a home that’s out of reach. Once you have a good grasp of your budget, you can begin to list (and prioritize) all the features of a home you would like.

Here’s a great way to think about them before you begin:

  • Must-Haves – If a house doesn’t have these features, it won’t work for you and your lifestyle (examples: distance from work or loved ones, number of bedrooms/bathrooms, etc.).
  • Nice-To-Haves – These are features that you’d love to have but can live without. Nice-To-Haves aren’t dealbreakers, but if you find a home that hits all the must-haves and some of the these, it’s a contender (examples: a second home office, a garage, etc.).
  • Dream State – This is where you can really think big. Again, these aren’t features you’ll need, but if you find a home in your budget that has all the must-haves, most of the nice-to-haves, and any of these, it’s a clear winner (examples: farmhouse sink, multiple walk-in closets, etc.).

Finally, once you’ve created your list and categorized it in a way that works for you, discuss it with your real estate advisor. They’ll be able to help you refine the list further, coach you through the best way to stick to it, and find a home in your area that meets your needs.

Bottom Line

Putting together your list of necessary features for your next home might seem like a small task, but it’s a crucial first step on your homebuying journey today. If you’re ready to find a home that fits your needs, let’s connect.