Why It Just Became Much Easier To Buy a Home

Why It Just Became Much Easier To Buy a Home | Simplifying The Market

Since the pandemic began, Americans have reevaluated the meaning of the word home. That’s led some renters to realize the many benefits of homeownership, including the feelings of security and stability and the financial benefits that come with rising home equity. At the same time, many current homeowners have decided their house no longer meets their needs, so they moved into homes with more space inside and out, including a home office for remote work.

However, not every purchaser has been able to fulfill their desire for a new home. Here are two obstacles some homebuyers are facing:

  • The ability to save for a down payment
  • The ability to qualify for a mortgage at the current lending standards

This past week, both of those challenges have been mitigated to some degree for many purchasers. The FHFA (which handles mortgages by Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, and the Federal Housing Administration) is raising its loan limit for prospective purchasers in 2022. The term used to describe the maximum loan amount they will entertain is the Conforming Loan Limit.

What Is the Difference Between a Conforming Loan and a Non-Conforming Loan?

Investopedia explains the difference in a recent post:

“Conforming loans are the only loans that meet the requirements to be acquired by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Jumbo loans, which exceed the conforming limit, are the most common type of nonconforming loan.”

What Difference Does It Make to Me as a Home Buyer?

A Forbes article earlier this year explains the benefits of a conforming loan and why they exist:

“Since lenders can’t sell non-conforming loans to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac to free up their cash, they’re a bit riskier for the lender. This is especially true for jumbo loans, which aren’t backed by any government guarantees. If you default on a jumbo loan, it’s a huge blow to the lender.

Thus, lenders generally charge higher interest rates to compensate, and they can have even more requirements. For example, lenders who give out jumbo loans often require that you make a down payment of at least 20% and show that you have at least six months’ worth of cash in reserve, if not more.”

What Happened Last Week?

The FHFA has significantly increased its Conforming Loan Limits for 2022. Sandra L. Thompson, FHFA Acting Director, explains in the press release that:

“Compared to previous years, the 2022 Conforming Loan Limits represent a significant increase due to the historic house price appreciation over the last year. While 95 percent of U.S. countie​s will be subject to the new baseline limit of $647,200, approximately 100 counties will have conforming loan limits approaching $1 million.”

This means that more homes now qualify for a conforming loan with lower down payment requirements and easier lending standards – the two challenges holding many buyers back over the last year.

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) also increased its Conforming Loan Limits for 2022. That could also mean an easier path to homeownership for many prospective buyers. As the Forbes article explains:

“FHA loans can be very beneficial if you don’t have as much savings, or if your credit score could use some work.”

Bottom Line

Buying your first or your next home may have just gotten much easier (less stringent qualifying standards) and less expensive (possibly lower mortgage rate). Let’s connect to discuss how these changes may impact you.

Resources:
  1. To get more information on the new FHFA Conforming Loan Limits, click here.
  2. To get more information on the new FHA Conforming Loan Limits, click here.

Tips for Single Homebuyers: How To Make Your Dream a Reality

Tips for Single Homebuyers: How To Make Your Dream a Reality | Simplifying The Market

If you’re living on your own and looking to buy a home, know that you can make your dream a reality with thoughtful planning and the right team of experts. Research from Freddie Mac shows 28% of all households (36.1 million) are sole-person, and that number is growing. Over the past 40 years, the number of sole-person households has nearly doubled, and that’s a trend that’s expected to continue. According to Freddie Mac:

Our calculation suggests that there will be an additional 5 million sole-person households in the United States by the next decade. This means 42% of the household growth will be contributed by sole-person households, . . .”

If you fall into this category, here are three tips to help you achieve your homeownership goals.

1. Know Your Credit Score

When you buy a home on your own, you have to qualify for your loan based solely on your own finances and credit history. Investopedia says:

“. . . lenders will be looking at just one credit profile: yours. Needless to say, it has to be in great shape. It is always a good idea to review your credit report beforehand, and this is especially true of solo buyers.”

It’s important to find out your score so you know where it falls. If you’re not sure if it’s strong enough or where to focus your energy to improve it, meet with a professional for expert advice on your individual situation.

2. Explore Down Payment Options

Next, look into down payment programs so you can get a feel for what you’ll need to save to buy a home. Rob Chrane, CEO of Down Payment Resource, explains:

“Buyers should discuss their program options with their loan officer and real estate agent to make sure they choose the program best suited to their personal needs.”

In this step, lean on the pros to determine what you’re eligible for and what’s right for you.

3. Think About Your Future Home and Your Needs

You should also spend time thinking about what you want. What type of home do you picture yourself in? To answer that question, Quicken Loans shares this advice:

Think about your lifestyle, what you want out of your home and your needs. Is being close to work important? Do you need a lot of yard space? Do you want an extra bedroom that you can transform into a home office? Condo or detached home? Lots of space for entertaining? It’s all up to you (and your budget).”

Again, a professional can help you balance what you want and how much you should spend on your monthly housing costs to determine what type of home is right for you.

While buying a home solo can feel like a big challenge, it doesn’t have to be. If you lean on the professionals, they can help you navigate these waters and make sure you’re able to take advantage of the great opportunities in today’s housing market (like low mortgage rates) to buy your dream home.

Bottom Line

The share of sole-person households is growing. If you’re looking to buy a home on your own, be confident that the dream is achievable. When you’re ready to begin your search, let’s connect so you have expert advice each step of the way.

VA Loans: Helping Veterans Achieve Their Homeownership Dreams

VA Loans: Helping Veterans Achieve Their Homeownership Dreams | Simplifying The Market

The purpose of Veterans Affairs (VA) home loans is to provide a pathway to homeownership for those who have sacrificed so much by serving our nation. As the Veterans Administration says of the program:

“The objective of the VA Home Loan Guaranty program is to help eligible Veterans, active-duty personnel, surviving spouses, and members of the Reserves and National Guard purchase, retain, and adapt homes in recognition of their service. . . .”

For over 75 years, VA home loans have provided millions of veterans and their families the opportunity to purchase their own homes.

2020 Data on VA Home Loans

  • 1,246,817 home loans are guaranteed by the Veterans Administration
  • The average VA loan amount totals $301,044
  • 178,171 of those using a VA Loan are first-time homebuyers

Top Benefits of the VA Home Loan Program

As we reflect on their sacrifice and honor our nation’s veterans, it’s important to ensure all veterans know the full extent of benefits VA home loans offer. As Jeff London, Director of the VA Home Loan Program, says:

“VA loans offer an extraordinary opportunity for veterans because of lower interest rates, lower monthly payments, no or low-down payments, and no private mortgage insurance.”

Those who qualify for a VA home loan are eligible for the following:

  • Borrowers can often purchase a home with no down payment. In 2020, 350,094 individuals using a VA Loan were able to purchase their homes without putting money down.
  • Many other loans with down payments under 20% require Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI). VA Loans do not require PMI, which means veterans can save on their monthly housing costs.
  • Finally, VA-Backed Loans often offer the most competitive terms and interest rates.

Bottom Line

One way we can honor and thank our veterans this year is to ensure they have the best information about the benefits of VA home loans. Homeownership is the American Dream. Our veterans sacrifice so much in service to our nation and deserve to achieve their homeownership goals. Thank you for your service.

Is a 20% Down Payment Really Necessary To Purchase a Home?

Is a 20% Down Payment Really Necessary To Purchase a Home? | Simplifying The Market

There’s a common misconception that, as a homebuyer, you need to come up with 20% of the total sale price for your down payment. In fact, a recent survey by Lending Tree asks what is keeping consumers from purchasing a home. For over half of those surveyed, the ability to afford a down payment is the biggest hurdle.

That may be because those individuals assume a 20% down payment is necessary. While putting more money down if you’re able can benefit buyers, putting 20% down is not mandatory. As Freddie Mac puts it:

The most damaging down payment myth—since it stops the homebuying process before it can start—is the belief that 20% is necessary.”

If saving that much money sounds overwhelming, you might be ready to give up on the dream of homeownership before you even begin – but you don’t have to. According to the Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the median down payment hasn’t been over 20% since 2005. It may sound surprising, but today’s average down payment is only 12%. That number is even lower for first-time homebuyers, whose average down payment is only 7%.

Based on the Home Buyers and Sellers Generational Trends Report from NAR, the graph below shows an even closer look at the down payment percentage various age groups pay:Is a 20% Down Payment Really Necessary To Purchase a Home? | Simplifying The MarketAs the graph shows, the only groups who put 20% or more down on average are older homebuyers who likely can use the sale of an existing home to fuel a larger down payment on their next home.

What does this mean for you?

If you’re a prospective homebuyer, it’s important to know you don’t have to put the full 20% down. And while saving for any down payment amount may feel like a challenge, keep in mind there are programs for qualified buyers that allow them to purchase a home with a down payment as low as 3.5%. There are also options like VA loans and USDA loans with no down payment requirements for qualified applicants.

To understand your options, you do need to do your homework. If you’re interested in learning more about down payment assistance programs, information is available through sites like downpaymentresource.com. Be sure to also work with a real estate advisor from the start to learn what you may qualify for in the homebuying process.

Bottom Line

Don’t let the myth of the 20% down payment halt your homebuying process before it begins. If you want to purchase a home this year, let’s connect to start the conversation and explore your options.

The Truths Young Homebuyers Need To Hear

The Truths Young Homebuyers Need To Hear | Simplifying The Market

For many young or first-time homebuyers, purchasing a home can feel intimidating. A recent survey shows some homebuyers ages 25 to 40 may be unsure about the homebuying process and what they can afford. It found:

  • “1 in 4 underestimated their buying potential by $150k or more”
  • “1 in 4 underestimated the increase in value by $100k or more”
  • “47% don’t know what a good interest rate is”

Because they feel uncertain, many young homebuyers have given up on their search, or worse, they’ve decided homebuying isn’t for them and never started on their journey to begin with.

If you’re interested in buying but aren’t sure where to begin, here are three key concepts about homeownership you should understand before you get started.

1. What You Need To Know About Down Payments

Saving for a down payment is sometimes viewed as one of the biggest obstacles for homebuyers, but that doesn’t have to be the case. As Freddie Mac says:

The most damaging down payment myth—since it stops the homebuying process before it can start—is the belief that 20% is necessary.”

According to the most recent Home Buyers and Sellers Generational Trends Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the median down payment for homes purchased between July 2019 and June 2020 was only 12%. That number is even lower when we control for age – for buyers in the 22 to 30 age range, the median down payment was only 6%.

2. You May Be Able To Afford More Home Than You Think

Working remotely, exercising, and generally spending more time than ever in our homes has changed what many people are looking for in their living space. However, some young homebuyers don’t feel they can afford a home that suits their growing needs and have decided to continue renting instead. That means they’ll miss out on some of the long-term benefits of owning a home. As an article recently published by NAR points out:

“Many young adults are underestimating how much they need for homeownership, the survey finds. Millennials underestimated how much home they can afford right now, how much interest they would pay over a 30-year mortgage, and how much home values appreciate, on average, over 10 years…”

Knowing how much home you can afford when starting the buying process is critical and could be the game-changer that gets you from renting to buying.

3. Homeownership Will Become Less Affordable the Longer You Wait

Finally, with mortgage rates starting to rise along with home prices appreciating, putting off buying a home now could cost you much more later. Sam Khater, Chief Economist at Freddie Mac, notes:

As the economy progresses and inflation remains elevated, we expect that rates will continually rise in the second half of the year.”

Most experts forecast interest rates will rise in the months ahead, and even the smallest increase can influence your buying power. If you’ve been on the fence about buying a home, there’s no time like the present.

Bottom Line

If you feel overwhelmed by the prospect of starting your home search, you’re not alone. Let’s connect today so we can talk more about the process, what you’ll need to start your search, and what to expect.

What To Expect as Appraisal Gaps Grow

What To Expect as Appraisal Gaps Grow | Simplifying the Market

In today’s real estate market, low inventory and high demand are driving up home prices. As many as 54% of homes are getting offers over the listing price, based on the latest Realtors Confidence Index from the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Shawn Telford, Chief Appraiser at CoreLogic, elaborates:

“The frequency of buyers being willing to pay more than the market data supports is increasing.”

While this is great news for today’s sellers, it can be tricky to navigate if the price of your contract doesn’t match up with the appraisal for the house. It’s called an appraisal gap, and it’s happening more in today’s market than the norm.

According to recent data from CoreLogic, 19% of homes had their appraised value come in below the contract price in April of this year. That’s more than double the percentage in each of the two previous Aprils.

The chart below uses the latest insights from NAR’s Realtors Confidence Index to showcase how often an issue with an appraisal slowed or stalled the momentum of a house sale in May of this year compared to May of last year.What To Expect as Appraisal Gaps Grow | Simplifying the MarketIf an appraisal comes in below the contract price, the buyer’s lender won’t loan them more than the house’s appraised value. That means there’s going to be a gap between the amount of loan the buyer can secure and the contract price on the house.

In this situation, both the buyer and seller have a vested interest in making sure the sale moves forward with little to no delay. The seller will want to make sure the deal closes, and the buyer won’t want to risk losing the home. That’s why it’s common for sellers to ask the buyer to make up the difference themselves in today’s competitive market.

Bottom Line

Whether you’re buying or selling, let’s connect so you have an ally throughout the process to help you navigate the unexpected, including appraisal gaps.

Don’t Forget to Budget for Closing Costs

Don’t Forget to Budget for Closing Costs | Simplifying The Market

When buying a home, it’s important to have a budget and make sure you plan ahead for certain homebuying expenses. Saving for a down payment is the main cost that comes to mind for many, but budgeting for the closing costs required to get a mortgage is just as important.

What Are Closing Costs?

According to Trulia:

When you close on a home, a number of fees are due. They typically range from 2% to 5% of the total cost of the home, and can include title insurance, origination fees, underwriting fees, document preparation fees, and more.”

For example, for someone buying a $300,000 home, they could potentially have between $6,000 and $15,000 in closing fees. If you’re in the market for a home above this price range, your closing costs could be greater. As mentioned above, closing costs are typically between 2% and 5% of your purchase price. 

Trulia gives more great advice, explaining:

“There will be lots of paperwork in front of you on closing day, and not enough time to read them all. Work closely with your real estate agent, lender, and attorney, if you have one, to get all the documents you need ahead of time.

The most important thing to read is the closing disclosure, which shows your loan terms, final closing costs, and any outstanding fees. You’ll get this form about three days before closing since, once you (the borrower) sign it, there’s a three-day waiting period before you can sign the mortgage loan docs. If you have any questions about the numbers or what any of the mortgage terms mean, this is the time to ask—your real estate agent is a great resource for getting you all the answers you need.”

Bottom Line

As home prices are rising and more buyers are finding themselves competing in bidding wars, it’s more important than ever to make sure your plan includes budgeting for closing costs. Let’s connect to be sure you have everything you need to land your dream home.

Why Waiting to Buy a Home Could Cost You a Small Fortune

Why Waiting to Buy a Home Could Cost You a Small Fortune | Simplifying The Market

Many people are sitting on the fence trying to decide if now’s the time to buy a home. Some are renters who have a strong desire to become homeowners but are unsure if buying right now makes sense. Others may be homeowners who are realizing that their current home no longer fits their changing needs.

To determine if they should buy now or wait another year, they both need to ask two simple questions:

  1. Do I think home values will be higher a year from now?
  2. Do I think mortgage rates will be higher a year from now?

Let’s shed some light on the answers to these questions.

Where will home prices be a year from now?

If you average the most recent projections from the major industry forecasters, the expectation is home prices will increase by 7.7%. Let’s take a house that’s valued today at $325,000 as an example.

If the buyer makes a 10% down payment ($32,500), they’ll end up borrowing $292,500 for their mortgage. Applying the projected rate of home price appreciation, that same house will cost $350,025 next year. With a 10% down payment ($35,003), they’d then have to borrow $315,022.

Therefore, as a result of rising home prices alone, a prospective buyer will have to put down an additional $2,503 and borrow an additional $22,523 just for waiting a year to make their move.

Where will mortgage rates be a year from now?

Today, mortgage rates are hovering around 3%. However, most experts believe they’ll rise as the economy continues to recover. Any increase in the mortgage rate will also increase a purchaser’s cost. Here are the forecasts for the first quarter of 2022 from four major entities:

The projections average out to 3.6% among these four forecasts, a jump up from where they are today.

What does it mean to you if home values and mortgage rates increase?

A buyer will pay a lot more in mortgage payments each month if both of these variables increase. Assuming a buyer purchases a $325,000 home this year with a 30-year fixed-rate loan at 3% after making a 10% down payment, their monthly principal and interest payment would be $1,233.

That same home one year from now could be $350,025, and the mortgage rate could be 3.6% (based on the industry forecasts mentioned above). That monthly principal and interest payment, after putting down 10%, totals $1,432.

The difference in the monthly mortgage payment would be $199. That’s $2,388 more per year and $71,640 over the life of the loan.

Add to that the approximately $25,000 a house with a similar value would build in home equity this year as a result of home price appreciation, and the total net worth increase a purchaser could gain by buying this year is nearly $100,000. That’s a small fortune.

Bottom Line

When asking if they should buy a home, many potential buyers think of the nonfinancial benefits of owning a home. When asking when to buy, the financial benefits make it clear that doing so now is much more advantageous than waiting until next year.

How Much Time Do You Need To Save for a Down Payment?

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

One of the biggest hurdles homebuyers face is saving for a down payment. As you’re budgeting and planning for your home purchase, you’ll want to understand how much you’ll need to put down and how long it will take you to get there. The process may actually move faster than you think.

Using data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Apartment List, we can estimate how long it might take someone earning the median income and paying the median rent to save up for a down payment on a median-priced home. Since saving for a down payment can be a great time to practice budgeting for housing costs, this estimate also uses the concept that a household should not pay more than 28% of their total income on monthly housing expenses.

According to the data, the national average for the time it would take to save for a 10% down payment is right around two and a half years (2.53). Residents in Iowa can save for a down payment the fastest, doing so in just over one year (1.31). The map below illustrates this time (in years) for each state:How Much Time Do You Need To Save for a Down Payment? | Simplifying The Market

What if you only need to save 3%?

What if you’re able to take advantage of one of the 3% down payment programs available? It’s a common misconception that you need a 20% down payment to buy a home, but there are actually more affordable options and down payment assistance programs available, especially for first-time buyers. The reality is, saving for a 3% down payment may not take several years. In fact, it could take less than a year in most states, as shown in the map below:How Much Time Do You Need To Save for a Down Payment? | Simplifying The Market

Bottom Line

Wherever you are in the process of saving for a down payment, you may be closer to your dream home than you think. Let’s connect to explore the down payment options available in our area and how they support your plans.

Your Tax Refund and Stimulus Savings May Help You Achieve Homeownership This Year

Your Tax Refund and Stimulus Savings May Help You Achieve Homeownership This Year | Simplifying The Market

If you’re planning to buy a home this year, saving for a down payment is one of the most important steps in the process. One of the best ways to jumpstart your savings is by starting with the help of your tax refund.

Using data from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), it’s estimated that Americans can expect an average refund of $2,925 when filing their taxes this year. The map below shows the average anticipated tax refund by state:Your Tax Refund and Stimulus Savings May Help You Achieve Homeownership This Year | Simplifying The MarketThanks 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. In addition, Veterans Affairs Loans allow many veterans to put 0% down. You may have heard the common myth that you need to put 20% down when you buy a home, but thankfully for most homebuyers, a 20% down payment isn’t actually required. It’s important to work with your real estate professional and your lender to understand all of your options.

How can your tax refund help?

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

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 anticipated tax refund:Your Tax Refund and Stimulus Savings May Help You Achieve Homeownership This Year | Simplifying The MarketThe darker the blue, the closer your tax refund gets you to homeownership when you qualify for one of the low down payment programs. Maybe this is the year to plan ahead and put your tax refund toward the down payment on a home.

Not enough money from your tax return? 

A recent paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research found that, of the households that received a stimulus check last year, “One third report that they primarily saved the stimulus money.” If you had the opportunity to save your Economic Impact Payments, you may consider putting that money toward your down payment or closing costs as well. Your trusted real estate professional can also advise you on the down payment assistance programs available in your area.

Bottom Line

Saving for a down payment can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. This year, your tax refund and your stimulus savings could add up big when it comes to reaching your homeownership goals.