Why Getting Pre-Approved Should Be Your First Step

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In many markets across the country, the number of buyers searching for their dream homes greatly outnumbers the number 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.

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Access is an Important Factor in Getting Your House SOLD!

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So, you’ve decided to sell your house. You’ve hired a real estate professional to help you with the entire process, and they have asked you what level of access you want to provide to potential buyers.

There are four elements to a quality listing. At the top of the list is Access, followed by Condition, Financing, and Price. There are many levels of access that you can provide to your agent so that he or she can show your home.

Here are five levels of access that you can give to buyers, along with a brief description:

  1. Lockbox on the Door – this allows buyers the ability to see the home as soon as they are aware of the listing, or at their convenience.
  2. Providing a Key to the Home – although the buyer’s agent may need to stop by an office to pick up the key, there is little delay in being able to show the home.
  3. Open Access with a Phone Call – the seller allows showings with just a phone call’s notice.
  4. By Appointment Only (example: 48-Hour Notice) – Many buyers who are relocating for a new career or promotion start working in that area prior to purchasing their home. They often like to take advantage of free time during business hours (such as their lunch break) to view potential homes. Because of this, they may not be able to plan their availability far in advance or may be unable to wait 48 hours to see the house.
  5. Limited Access (example: the home is only available on Mondays or Tuesdays at 2pm or for only a couple of hours a day) – This is the most difficult way to be able to show your house to potential buyers.

In a competitive marketplace, access can make or break your ability to get the price you are looking for, or even sell your house at all.

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Your Friends Are Crazy Wrong If They’re Telling You Not to Buy

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The current narrative is that home prices have risen so much so that it is no longer a smart idea to purchase a home. Your family and friends might suggest that buying a home right now (whether a first-time home or a move-up home) makes absolutely no sense from an affordability standpoint. They are wrong!

Homes are more affordable right now than at almost any time in our country’s history except for the foreclosure years (2009-2015) when homes sold at major discounts. As an example, below is a graph from the latest Black Knight Mortgage Monitor showing the percentage of median income needed to buy a medium-priced home in the country today in comparison to prior to the housing bubble and bust.

Your Friends Are Crazy Wrong if They're Telling You Not to Buy | Keeping Current Matters

As we can see, the percentage necessary is less now than in those time periods.

The Mortgage Monitor also explains that home affordability is better today than it was in the late 1990s in 47 of 50 states.

 

Your Friends Are Crazy Wrong if They're Telling You Not to Buy | Keeping Current Matters

Bottom Line

Your friends and family have your best interests at heart. However, when it comes to buying your first home or selling your current house to buy the home of your dreams, getting the whole story from a real estate professional is crucial.

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A Housing Bubble? Industry Experts Say NO!

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With residential home prices continuing to appreciate at levels above historic norms, some are questioning if we are heading toward another housing bubble (and subsequent burst) like the one we experienced in 2006-2008.

Recently, five housing experts weighed in on the question.

Rick Sharga, Executive VP at Ten-X:

“We’re definitely not in a bubble.”

“We have a handful of markets that are frothy and probably have hit an affordability wall of sorts but…while prices nominally have surpassed the 2006 peak, we’re not talking about 2006 dollars.”

Christopher Thornberg, Partner at Beacon Economics:

“There is no direct or indirect sign of any kind of bubble.”

“Steady as she goes. Prices continue to rise. Sales roughly flat.…Overall this market is in an almost boring place.”

Bill McBride, Calculated Risk:

“I wouldn’t call house prices a bubble.”

“So prices may be a little overvalued, but there is little speculation and I don’t expect house prices to decline nationally like during the bust.”

David M. Blitzer, Managing Director and Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices:

“Housing is not repeating the bubble period of 2000-2006.”

“…price increases vary unlike the earlier period when rising prices were almost universal; the number of homes sold annually is 20% less today than in the earlier period and the months’ supply is declining, not surging.”

Bing Bai & Edward Golding, Urban Institute:

“We are not in a bubble and nowhere near the situation preceding the 2008 housing crisis.”

“Despite recent increases, house prices remain affordable by historical standards, suggesting that home prices are tracking a broader economic expansion.”

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A Colorado county of 30,000 people is the healthiest place in America — here’s why

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  • Summit County, Colorado is the healthiest place in the US, according to a wealth of public health data.
  • The county is middle to upper-middle class and has high rates of physical activity.
  • A rare lung condition makes the high-altitude lifestyle slightly more challenging, however.

It’s not just the skiing that keeps residents of Summit County, Colorado spry.

Located about an hour’s drive west from Denver, the mountainous county of roughly 30,000 people is the healthiest place in America, ranking at or near the bottom of numerous causes of death.

According to 2014 data from the Institutes for Health Metrics and Evaluation, Summit County has the nation’s lowest death rates due to cancers overall; breast cancer, prostate cancer, and pancreatic cancer individually; chronic respiratory diseases; and the second-lowest heart disease rate.

It also has the lowest death rate overall and the highest life expectancy, at 86.83 years, beating the national average by eight years.

summit county colorado Annual death rates by US county, with lower rates in blue and higher rates in red. IHME

What’s going on?

A lot of what makes Summit County so healthy is also what makes the other four Colorado counties in the top-10 ranking for life expectancy so healthy: an over-representation of higher-income, young, white residents relative to national averages.

About 81% of the county is white. The median age is 37.1 with a household income of $67,983 and property value of $478,800. The poverty rate was 13.7%.

Now compare those numbers with the demographic data in Union County, Florida, the least healthy county in the US. Union is 67% white, with a median age of 40.3, household income of $39,163, and property value of $87,500. The poverty rate is 20%.

Unlike Union, which has poor access to health services, Summit residents are generally wealthier and better-equipped financially to seek out health care when they need it. They participate less in unhealthy activities, such as smoking. Summit’s smoking rate in 2015 was 14.6%. The national rate is 15.1%. In Union, meanwhile, 20.9% of people smoke.

Living near popular winter resorts in Breckenridge and Frisco, Summit residents also have more opportunities than most to stay active year-round.

Keeping an eye on the heart

Summit may be leading the nation in cancer prevention and avoiding heart disease, but there are some costs to living at such high elevations. At 9,000 to 10,000 feet, Summit residents of all ages are at risk of developing high-altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE). The condition arises when too much fluid enters the lungs, due to a lack of oxygen.

Dr. Christine Ebert-Santos said she saw 44 cases of HAPE in 2015, split across three types. The first are people visiting from low-lying regions. The second are people used to high-altitude coming back after a long visit. And the third are people who are long-term residents, who develop the illness suddenly.

What’s challenging about HAPE, according to Dr. Ebert-Santos, is people are “not really sick,” she told ParkRecord.com. The person’s oxygen levels are too low, but they don’t have asthma or pneumonia, which would hospitalize a person if they coincided with low oxygen levels. This can lead people to misdiagnose the condition as asthma, and panic when typical inhaler treatments don’t work.

“There’s so much that we don’t know, in every walk of life — every facet, not just medicine,” she said. “So we cling to the things we know, like asthma and pneumonia, and it’s like if you have a hammer, everything’s a nail.”

But with the exception of a rare lung condition, Summit residents tend to live long, healthy lives — proving each year the health benefits of financial stability, low poverty, and staying active.

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Why Sell Now Instead of Later? The Buyers are Out Now

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Each year, most homeowners wait until the spring to sell their houses because they believe that they can get a better deal during the normal spring buyer’s market. However, recently released data suggests that a seller’s best deal may be available right now. The concept of ‘supply & demand’ reveals that the best price for an item will be realized when the supply of that item is low and the demand for that item is high. Let’s see how this applies to the current residential real estate market.

SUPPLY

It is no secret that the supply of homes for sale has been far below the number needed for over a year. A normal market requires six months of housing inventory to meet the demand. The latest report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) revealed that there is currently only a 4.2-month supply.

Supply is currently very low!!

DEMAND

A report that was just released tells us that demand is very strong. The most recent Foot Traffic Report (which sheds light on the number of buyers out looking at homes) disclosed that there are more buyers right now than at any other time in the last twelve months. This includes more buyers looking at homes right now than at any time during last year’s spring market.

Demand is currently very high!! 

Bottom Line

Waiting until the spring to list your house for sale made sense in the past. This year is different. The best deal is probably available right now.

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Renting or Buying…Either Way, You’re Paying Someone’s Mortgage

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There are some people who have not purchased homes yet 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 mortgage – either yours or your landlord’s.

As Entrepreneur Magazine, a premier source for small business, explained in their article, “12 Practical Steps to Getting Rich,”

“While renting on a temporary basis isn’t terrible, you should most certainly own the roof over your head if you’re serious about your finances. It won’t make you rich overnight, but by renting, you’re paying someone else’s mortgage. In effect, you’re making someone else rich.”

Christina Boyle, Senior Vice President and head of the Single-Family Sales & Relationship Management organization at Freddie Mac, explains another benefit of securing a mortgage vs. paying rent:

“With a 30-year fixed rate mortgage, you’ll have the certainty & stability of knowing what your mortgage payment will be for the next 30 years – unlike rents which will continue to rise over the next three decades.”

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

Interest rates are still at historic lows, making it one of the best times to secure a mortgage and make a move into your dream home. Freddie Mac’s latest report shows that rates across the country were at 3.94% last week.

Bottom Line

Whether you are looking for a primary residence for the first time or are considering a vacation home on the shore, now may be the time to buy.

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