Your Opportunity to Achieve the American Dream Keeps Getting Better!

Forbes.com recently released the latest results of their American Dream Index, in which they measure “the prosperity of the middle class, and…examine which states best support the American Dream.”

The monthly index measures several different economic factors, including goods-producing employment, personal and commercial bankruptcies, building permits, startup activity, unemployment insurance claims, labor force participation, and layoffs.

The national index score was rounded out to 100.0 in January as a baseline for comparison and it rose the fourth straight month in a row to 101.8.

Alaska, coming in at 89.4, represented the lowest score on the index due in part to the recent collapse in oil prices. In contrast, Wyoming came in with the highest score at 115.1. The full results can be seen in the map below.

Your Opportunity to Achieve the American Dream Keeps Getting Better! | Simplifying The Market

Forbes Senior Editor Kurt Badenhausen explained why many states saw a boost in the index last month:

“The American Dream Index rose for the fourth straight month to 101.8 propelled by gains in goods-producing jobs and building permits, as well as declines in unemployment claims and mass layoffs.

Goods-producing jobs (manufacturing, mining, construction and agriculture) were up for the ninth straight month in May…Building permits rose for the fourth straight month compared to the prior year.”

Bottom Line

The American Dream, for many, includes being able to own a home of one’s own. With the economy improving in many areas of the country, that dream can finally become a reality.


Source: KMC

Buyer’s Market Helps Premium Home Sales Soar

Buyer's Market Helps Premium Home Sales Soar | Simplifying The Market

We previously reported how a shortage of inventory in the starter and trade-up home markets is driving prices up and causing bidding wars, creating a true seller’s market. At the same time, in the premium home market, an over-abundance of inventory has started to see prices come down and put buyers in the driver’s seat, creating the beginning of a buyer’s market.

Last week, the National Association of Realtors released their Existing Home Sales Report which shed some additional light on the impact of inventory levels on sales in each price range.

The chart below shows the year-over-year difference in sales at each price range.

Buyer's Market Helps Premium Home Sales Soar | Simplifying The Market

The under $100K range has shown declines in recent years due to the shortage of distressed homes available for sale (just 5% of sales this past month, compared to 35% in January 2012). Sales in the next two price ranges are no doubt being hindered by low inventory as buyers compete for the same home.

NAR’s Chief Economist, Lawrence Yun, explained:

“Those able to close on a home last month are probably feeling both happy and relieved. Listings in the affordable price range are scarce, homes are coming off the market at an extremely fast pace and the prevalence of multiple offers in some markets are pushing prices higher.”

The biggest surprise? This is the first time in years where the $1M and up price range had the highest jump in sales when compared to last year and to all other price ranges (29.1%)! The two price ranges right underneath the $1M range were a close second and third. As the price went up, so did the sales!

With additional inventory available in the higher price ranges, and the economy improving, many luxury buyers are finding it easier to find their dream homes. Yun commented,

“The job market in most of the country is healthy and the recent downward trend in mortgage rates continues to keep buyer interest at a robust level.”

Bottom Line

If you are one of the many homeowners who is looking to sell your starter or trade up home and move up to a luxury home, now is the time!


Source: KMC

Pre-Approval Should Always Be Your First Step

Pre-Approval Should Always Be Your First Step | Simplifying The Market

In many markets across the country, the number of buyers searching for their dream homes greatly outnumbers the amount of homes for sale. This has led to a competitive marketplace where buyers often need to stand out. One way to show you are serious about buying your dream home is to get pre-qualified or pre-approved for a mortgage before starting your search.

Even if you are in a market that is not as competitive, knowing your budget will give you the confidence of knowing if your dream home is within your reach.

Freddie Mac lays out the advantages of pre-approval in the My Home section of their website:

“It’s highly recommended that you work with your lender to get pre-approved before you begin house hunting. Pre-approval will tell you how much home you can afford and can help you move faster, and with greater confidence, in competitive markets.”

One of the many advantages of working with a local real estate professional is that many have relationships with lenders who will be able to help you with this process. Once you have selected a lender, you will need to fill out their loan application and provide them with important information regarding “your credit, debt, work history, down payment and residential history.” 

Freddie Mac describes the 4 Cs that help determine the amount you will be qualified to borrow:

  1. Capacity: Your current and future ability to make your payments
  2. Capital or cash reserves: The money, savings, and investments you have that can be sold quickly for cash
  3. Collateral: The home, or type of home, that you would like to purchase
  4. Credit: Your history of paying bills and other debts on time

Getting pre-approved is one of many steps that will show home sellers that you are serious about buying, and it often helps speed up the process once your offer has been accepted.

Bottom Line

Many potential home buyers overestimate the down payment and credit scores needed to qualify for a mortgage today. If you are ready and willing to buy, you may be pleasantly surprised at your ability to do so as well.


Source: KMC

2 Myths Holding Back Home Buyers

2 Myths Holding Back Home Buyers | Simplifying The Market

In Realtor.com’s recent article, “Home Buyers’ Top Mortgage Fears: Which One Scares You?” they mention that “46% of potential home buyers fear they won’t qualify for a mortgage to the point that they don’t even try.”

Myth #1: “I Need a 20% Down Payment”

Buyers overestimate the down payment funds needed to qualify for a home loan. According to the First Quarter 2017 Homeownership Program Index (HPI) from Down Payment Resource, saving for a down payment was the barrier that kept 70% of renters from buying.

Rob Chrane, CEO of Down Payment Resource had this to say,

There are many mortgage-ready renters today, but they don’t know it. Often, homebuyers remain sidelined for years due to the down payment.

Many believe that they need at least 20% down to buy their dream home, but programs are available that allow buyers put down as little as 3%. Many renters may actually be able to enter the housing market sooner than they ever imagined with new programs that have emerged allowing less cash out of pocket.

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

The survey revealed that 59% of Americans either don’t know (54%) or are misinformed (5%) about what FICO® score is necessary to qualify.

Many Americans believe a ‘good’ credit score is 780 or higher.

To help debunk this myth, let’s take a look at Ellie Mae’s latest Origination Insight Report, which focuses on recently closed (approved) loans.

2 Myths Holding Back Home Buyers | Simplifying The Market

As you can see in the chart above, 53.2% of approved mortgages had a credit score of 600-749.

Bottom Line

Whether buying your first home or moving up to your dream home, knowing your options will make the mortgage process easier. Your dream home may already be within your reach.


Source: KMC

The Cost of Renting vs. Buying in the US [INFOGRAPHIC]

The Cost of Renting vs. Buying in the US [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

The Cost of Renting vs. Buying in the US [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Some Highlights:

  • Historically, the choice between renting or buying a home has been a tough decision.
  • Looking at the percentage of income needed to rent a median-priced home today (29.2%) vs. the percentage needed to buy a median-priced home (15.8%), the choice becomes obvious.
  • Every market is different. Before you renew your lease again, find out if you can put your housing costs to work by buying this year!


Source: KMC

Buying Is Now 33.1% Cheaper Than Renting in the US

Buying Is Now 33.1% Cheaper Than Renting in the US | Simplifying The Market

The results of the latest Rent vs. Buy Report from Trulia show that homeownership remains cheaper than renting with a traditional 30-year fixed rate mortgage in the 100 largest metro areas in the United States.

The updated numbers actually show that the range is an average of 3.5% less expensive in San Jose (CA), all the way up to 50.1% less expensive in Baton Rouge (LA), and 33.1% nationwide!

Other interesting findings in the report include:

  • Interest rates have remained low and, even though home prices have appreciated around the country, they haven’t greatly outpaced rental appreciation.
  • With rents & home values moving in tandem, shifts in the ‘rent vs. buy’ decision are largely driven by changes in mortgage interest rates.
  • Nationally, rates would have to reach 9.1%, a 128% increase over today’s average of 4.0%, for renting to be cheaper than buying. Rates haven’t been that high since January of 1995, according to Freddie Mac.

Bottom Line

Buying a home makes sense socially and financially. If you are one of the many renters out there who would like to evaluate your ability to buy this year, let’s get together to find your dream home.


Source: KMC

Top Home Renovations for Maximum ROI [INFOGRAPHIC]

Top Home Renovations for Maximum ROI [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Top Home Renovations for Maximum ROI [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Some Highlights:

  • Whether you are selling your home, just purchased your first home, or are a homeowner planning to stay put for a while, there is value in knowing which home improvement projects will net you the most Return On Investment (ROI).
  • While big projects like adding a bathroom or a complete kitchen remodel are popular ways to increase a home’s value, something as simple as updating landscaping and curb appeal can have a quick impact on a home’s value.
  • For more information about top renovation projects that net you the most ROI, you can check out the complete list here.


Source: KMC

The TRUTH Behind the RENT vs. BUY Debate

The TRUTH Behind the RENT vs. BUY Debate | Simplifying The Market

In a blog post published last Friday, CNBC’s Diana Olnick reported on the latest results of the FAU Buy vs. Rent Index. The index examines the entire US housing market and then isolates 23 major markets for comparison. The researchers at FAU use a “‘horse race’ comparison between an individual that is buying a home and an individual that rents a similar-quality home and reinvests all monies otherwise invested in homeownership.”

Having read both the index and the blog post, we would like to clear up any confusion that may exist. There are three major points that we would like to counter:

1. The Title

The CNBC blog post was titled, “Don’t put your money in a house, says a new report.” The title of the press release about the report on FAU’s website was “FAU Buy vs. Rent Index Shows Rising Prices and Mortgage Rates Moving Housing Markets in the Direction of Renting.”

Now, we all know headlines can attract readers and the stronger the headline the more readership you can attract, but after dissecting the report, this headline may have gone too far. The FAU report notes that rising home prices and the threat of increasing mortgage rates could make the decision of whether to rent or to buy a harder one in three metros, but does not say not to buy a home.

2. Mortgage Interest Rates are Rising

According to Freddie Mac, mortgage interest rates reached their lowest mark of 2017 last week at 3.89%. Interest rates have hovered around 4% for the majority of 2017, giving many buyers relief from rising home prices and helping with affordability.

While experts predict that rates will increase by the end of 2017, the latest projections have softened, with Freddie Mac predicting that rates will rise to 4.3% in Q4.

3. “Renting may be a better option than buying, according to the report.”

Of the 23 metros that the study reports on, 11 of them are firmly in buy territory, including New York, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, and more. This means that in nearly half of all the major cities in the US, it makes more financial sense to buy a home than to continue renting one.

In 9 of the remaining metros, the decision as to whether to rent or buy is closer to a toss-up right now. This means that all things being equal, the cost to rent or buy is nearly the same. That leaves the decision up to the individual or family as to whether they want to renew their lease or buy a home of their own.

The 3 remaining metros Dallas, Denver and Houston, have experienced high levels of price appreciation and have been reported to be in rent territory for well over a year now, so that’s not news…

Beer & Cookies

One of the three authors of the study, Dr. Ken Johnson has long reported on homeownership and the decision between renting and buying a home. The methodology behind the report goes on to explain that even in a market where a renter would be able to spend less on housing, they would have to be disciplined enough to reinvest their remaining income in stocks/bonds/other investments for renting a home to be a more attractive alternative to buying.

Johnson himself has said:

“However, in perhaps a more realistic setting where renters can spend on consumption (beer, cookies, education, healthcare, etc.), ownership is the clear winner in wealth accumulation. Said another way, homeownership is a self-imposed savings plan on the part of those that choose to own.” 

Bottom Line

In the end, you and your family are the only ones who can decide if homeownership is the right path to go down. Real estate is local and every market is different. Let’s get together to discuss what’s really going on in your area and how we can help you make the best, most informed decision for you and your family.


Source: KMC

Homeownership Is a Good Financial Investment!

Homeownership Is a Good Financial Investment! | Simplifying The Market

According to a recent report by Trulia“buying is cheaper than renting in 100 of the largest metro areas by an average of 33.1%.” The report may have some people thinking about buying a home instead of signing another lease extension, but does that make sense from a financial perspective?

Ralph McLaughlin, Trulia’s Chief Economist explains:

“Owning a home is one of the most common ways households build long-term wealth, as it acts like a forced savings account. Instead of paying your landlord, you can pay yourself in the long run through paying down a mortgage on a house.”

The article listed five reasons why owning a home makes financial sense:

  1. Mortgage payments can be fixed while rents go up.
  2. Equity in your home can be a financial resource later.
  3. You can build wealth without paying capital gains.
  4. A mortgage can act as a forced savings account.
  5. Overall, homeowners can enjoy greater wealth growth than renters.

Bottom Line

Before you sign another lease, let’s get together and discuss all your options.


Source: KMC

4 Reasons to Buy This Summer!

4 Reasons to Buy This Summer! | Simplifying The Market

Here are four great reasons to consider buying a home today, instead of waiting.

1. Prices Will Continue to Rise

CoreLogic’s latest Home Price Index reports that home prices have appreciated by 7.1% over the last 12 months. The same report predicts that prices will continue to increase at a rate of 4.9% over the next year.

The bottom in home prices has come and gone. Home values will continue to appreciate for years. Waiting no longer makes sense.

2. Mortgage Interest Rates Are Projected to Increase

Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey shows that interest rates for a 30-year mortgage have remained around 4%. Most experts predict that they will begin to rise over the next 12 months. The Mortgage Bankers Association, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac & the National Association of Realtors are in unison, projecting that rates will increase by this time next year.

An increase in rates will impact YOUR monthly mortgage payment. A year from now, your housing expense will increase if a mortgage is necessary to buy your next home.

3. Either Way, You are Paying a Mortgage

There are some renters who have not yet purchased a home because they are uncomfortable taking on the obligation of a mortgage. Everyone should realize that, unless you are living with your parents rent-free, you are paying a mortgageeither yours or your landlord’s.

As an owner, your mortgage payment is a form of ‘forced savings’ that allows you to have equity in your home that you can tap into later in life. As a renter, you guarantee your landlord is the person with that equity.

Are you ready to put your housing cost to work for you? 

4. It’s Time to Move on with Your Life

The ‘cost’ of a home is determined by two major components: the price of the home and the current mortgage rate. It appears that both are on the rise.

But what if they weren’t? Would you wait?

Look at the actual reason you are buying and decide if it is worth waiting. Whether you want to have a great place for your children to grow up, you want your family to be safer or you just want to have control over renovations, maybe now is the time to buy.

If the right thing for you and your family is to purchase a home this year, buying sooner rather than later could lead to substantial savings.


Source: KMC