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January
1

 

Last year, one factor drove the real estate market more than any other: rising mortgage rates.

In March 2022, the Federal Reserve began a series of interest rate hikes in an effort to pump the brakes on inflation.1 And while some market sectors have been slow to respond, the housing market has reacted accordingly.

Both demand and price appreciation have tapered, as the primary challenge for homebuyers has shifted from availability to affordability. And although this higher-mortgage rate environment has been a painful adjustment for many buyers and sellers, it should ultimately lead to a more stable and balanced real estate market.

So what can we expect in 2023? Will mortgage rates continue to climb? Could home prices come crashing down? While this is one of the more challenging real estate periods to forecast, here's what several industry experts predict will happen to the U.S. housing market in the coming year.

MORTGAGE RATES WILL FLUCTUATE LESS

In 2022, 30-year fixed mortgage rates surged from roughly 3% in January to around 7%. According to Rick Sharga of real estate data company ATTOM, "We've never seen rates double in so short a period."2

This year, economists forecast a less dramatic shift.

In an interview with Bankrate, Nadia Evangelou, senior economist for the National Association of Realtors, shares her vision of three possible mortgage rate scenarios:3

  1. Inflation continues to surge, forcing the Fed to repeatedly raise interest rates. In that scenario, she predicts that rates could reach as high as 8.5%.
  2. Inflation decelerates and mortgage rates follow suit, averaging 7 to 7.5% for the year.
  3. Rising interest rates trigger a recession, which could ultimately lead mortgage rates to drop closer to 5% by the end of the year.

Realtor.com forecasts something similar to scenario #2 above: "Mortgage rates will average 7.4% in 2023, trickling down to 7.1% by year's end."4 The Mortgage Bankers Association, however, projects something closer to Evangelou's scenario #3, with the 30-year fixed rate declining steadily throughout the year, averaging 6.2% in Q1 and 5.2% by Q4.5

Economists at Fannie Mae fall somewhere in the middle. In a recent press release, they predicted that the U.S. economy will experience a "modest recession" this year.6 But in their December Housing Forecast, they project that 30-year fixed mortgage rates will only fall by half a point from an average of 6.5% in Q1 to 6.0% in Q4.7

"From our perspective, the good news is that demographics remain favorable for housing, so the sector appears well-positioned to help lead the economy out of what we expect will be a brief recession," said Fannie Mae Chief Economist Doug Duncan.6

What does it mean for you?  Even the experts can't say for certain where mortgage rates are headed. Instead of trying to "time the market," focus instead on buying or selling a home when the time is right for you. There are a variety of mortgage options available that can make a home purchase more affordable, including adjustable rates, points, and buydowns—and keep in mind you can always refinance down the road. We'd be happy to refer you to a trusted mortgage professional who can outline your best options.

SALES VOLUME WILL FALL AND INVENTORY WILL RISE

It looks like the home-buying frenzy we experienced in recent years is behind us. While the desire to own a home remains strong, higher mortgage rates have made it unaffordable for a large segment of would-be buyers.

Many economists expect the number of home sales to continue to decline this year, leading to an increase in listing inventory and days-on-market, or the time it takes to sell a home. But, there is a wide range when it comes to specifics.

Economists at Fannie Mae forecast that total home sales will fall by around 20% this year before rising again by nearly 15% in 2024.7 National Association of Realtors Chief Economist Lawrence Yun projects a less extreme dip of 7% in 2023 with a rebound of 10% next year.8

Realtor.com Chief Economist Danielle Hale foresees something in between. "The deceleration in home sales is likely to continue as high home prices and mortgage rates limit the pool of eligible home buyers. We anticipate that existing home sales will decline another 14.1% in 2023." She expects this drop in sales to lead to a nearly 23% increase in inventory levels this year, offering more choices for buyers who have struggled to find a home in the past.9

However, given the severe lack of housing supply, even with a double-digit increase, the market is expected to remain relatively tight and below pre-pandemic levels. Hale points out: "It's important to keep historical context in mind. The level of inventory in 2023 is expected to fall roughly 15% short of the 2019 average."9

What does it mean for you?  If you've been frustrated by a lack of inventory in the past, 2023 may bring new opportunities for you to find the perfect home. And today's buyers have more negotiating power than they've had in years. Contact us to find out about current and future listings that meet your criteria.

If you're hoping to sell, you may want to act fast; rising inventory levels will mean increased competition. We can help you chart the best course to maximize your profits, starting with a professional assessment of your home's current market value. Reach out to schedule a free consultation.

HOME PRICES WILL REMAIN RELATIVELY STABLE

While some economists expect home prices to fall this year, many expect them to remain fairly stable. "For most parts of the country, home prices are holding steady since available inventory is extremely low," said Yun at a November conference.8

Nationally, Yun expects the average median home price to tick up by 1% in 2023, with some markets experiencing greater appreciation and others experiencing declines.8 Economists at Fannie Mae offer a similar projection, forecasting a slight decrease in their Home Price Index of about 1.5%, year-over-year.7

Other experts foresee a larger fluctuation. Hale expects U.S. home prices to rise by 5.4% this year, while Morgan Stanley is forecasting a 7% drop from the peak in June 2022.9,10

Still, many economists agree that a housing market crash like the one we experienced in 2008 is highly unlikely. The factors that caused home prices to plunge during the Great Recession—specifically lax lending standards and a surplus of inventory—aren't prevalent in our current market.10 Therefore, home values are expected to remain comparatively stable.

What does it mean for you?  It can feel scary to buy a home when there's uncertainty in the market. However, real estate is a long-term investment that has been shown to appreciate over time. And keep in mind that the best bargains are often found in a slower market, like the one we're experiencing right now. Contact us to discuss your goals and budget. We can help you make an informed decision about the right time to buy.

And if you're planning to sell this year, you'll want to chart your path carefully to maximize your profits. Contact us for recommendations and to find out what your home could sell for in today's market.

RENT PRICES WILL CONTINUE TO CLIMB

 Affordability challenges for would-be buyers, inflationary pressures, and an overall lack of housing could continue to drive "above-average" rent price increases in much of the country.11 The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas expects year-over-year rental price growth to tick up to 8.4% in May before moderating later in the year.12

According to Hale, "U.S. renters will continue to face challenges from limited supply and excess demand in the coming year that will keep upward pressure on rent growth. At a national level, we forecast rent growth of 6.3% in the next 12 months, somewhat ahead of home price growth and historical rent trends."9

However, there are signs that the surge in rent prices could be tapering. According to Jay Parsons, head of economics for rental housing software company RealPage, there's some evidence of a slowdown in demand. He predicts that market-rate rents will rise just 3.3% this year. Still, analysts agree that a return to lower pre-pandemic rental prices is unlikely.10

What does it mean for you?  Rent prices are expected to keep climbing. But you can lock in a set mortgage payment and build long-term wealth by putting that money toward a home purchase instead. Reach out for a free consultation to discuss your options.

And if you've ever thought about purchasing a rental property, now may be a perfect time. Call today to get your investment property search started.

WE'RE HERE TO GUIDE YOU

While national real estate forecasts can provide a "big picture" outlook, real estate is local. And as local market experts, we can guide you through the ins and outs of our market and the issues most likely to impact sales and drive home values in your particular neighborhood.

If you're considering buying or selling a home in 2023, contact us now to schedule a free consultation. We'll work with you to develop an action plan to meet your real estate goals this year.

The above references an opinion and is for informational purposes only.  It is not intended to be financial, legal, or tax advice. Consult the appropriate professionals for advice regarding your individual needs.

Sources:

  1. Forbes -
    https://www.forbes.com/advisor/investing/fed-funds-rate-history/
  2. Bankrate -
    https://www.bankrate.com/mortgages/will-mortgage-rates-go-up-in-december-2022/
  3. Bankrate -
    https://www.bankrate.com/real-estate/housing-market-predictions-2023/
  4. com -
    https://www.realtor.com/news/trends/2023-the-year-of-the-homebuyer-our-bold-predictions-on-home-prices-mortgage-rates-and-more/
  5. Mortgage Bankers Association -
    https://www.mba.org/docs/default-source/research-and-forecasts/forecasts/mortgage-finance-forecast-dec-2022.pdf?sfvrsn=b584bf7_1
  6. Fannie Mae -
    https://www.fanniemae.com/newsroom/fannie-mae-news/economy-still-expected-enter-and-exit-modest-recession-2023
  7. Fannie Mae -
    https://www.fanniemae.com/media/45801/display
  8. National Association of Realtors -
    https://www.nar.realtor/newsroom/nars-lawrence-yun-predicts-us-home-prices-wont-experience-major-decline-could-possibly-rise-slightly
  9. com -
    https://www.realtor.com/research/2023-national-housing-forecast/
  10. The New York Times -
    https://www.nytimes.com/2022/11/04/realestate/housing-market-interest-rates.html
  11. CNBC -
    https://www.cnbc.com/2022/09/28/how-much-higher-rent-will-go-in-2023-according-to-experts.html
  12. Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas -
    https://www.dallasfed.org/research/economics/2022/0816

 

October
29

Some Highlights

  • Even with higher mortgage rates, the mortgage process doesn't need to be something you fear. Here are some steps to help as you set out to buy a home.
  • Know your credit score and work to build strong credit. When you're ready, lean on the pros and connect with a lender so you can get pre-approved and begin your home search.
  • Any major life change can be scary, and buying a home is no different. Partner with a trusted real estate professional to take fear out of the equation.

Resources: Keeping Current Matters

October
2

Deciding whether to jump into the housing market or rent instead is rarely an easy decision – especially if you're a first-time homebuyer. But in today's whirlwind market, you may find it particularly challenging to pinpoint the best time to start exploring homeownership. 

 A real estate boom during the pandemic pushed home prices to an all-time high.1 Add higher mortgage rates to the mix, and some would-be buyers are wondering if they should wait to see if prices or rates come down.

 But is renting a better alternative? Rents have also soared along with inflation – and are likely to continue climbing due to a persistent housing shortage.2 And while homebuyers can lock in a set mortgage payment, renters are at the mercy of these rising costs for the foreseeable future.

 So, what's the better choice for you? There's a lot to consider when it comes to buying versus renting. Luckily, you don't have to do it alone. Reach out to schedule a free consultation and we'll help walk you through your options. You may also find it helpful to ask yourself the following questions: 

1. How long do I plan to stay in the home?

 You'll get the most financial benefit from a home purchase if you own the property for at least five years.3 If you plan to sell in a shorter period of time, a home purchase may not be the best choice for you.

 There are costs associated with buying and selling a home, and it may take time for the property's value to rise enough to offset those expenditures.

 Even though housing markets can shift from one year to the next, you'll typically find that a home's value will ride out a market's ups and downs and appreciate with time.4 The longer you own a property, the more you are likely to benefit from its appreciation.

 Once you've found a community that you'd like to stay in for several years, then buying over renting can really pay off. You'll not only benefit from appreciation, but you'll also build equity as you pay down your mortgage – and you'll have more security and stability overall.

 Also important: If you plan to stay in the home for the life of the mortgage, there will come a time when you no longer have to make those payments. As a result, your housing costs will drop dramatically, while your equity (and net worth) continue to grow. 

2. Is it a better value to buy or rent in my area?

 If you know you plan to stay put for at least five years, you should consider whether buying or renting is the better bargain in your area.

 One helpful tool for evaluating your options is a neighborhood's price-to-rent ratio: just divide the median home price by the median yearly rent price. The higher the price-to-rent ratio is, the more expensive it is to buy compared to rent.5 Keep in mind, though, that this equation provides only a snapshot of where the market stands today. As such, it may not accurately account for the full impact of rising home values and rent increases over the long term.

 According to the National Association of Realtors, a typical U.S. homeowner who purchased a single-family existing home 10 years ago would have gained roughly $225,000 in equity — all while maintaining a steady mortgage payment.6

 In contrast, someone who chose to rent for the past 10 years would have not only missed out on those equity gains, but they would have also seen U.S. rental prices increase by around 66%.7

 So even if renting seems like a better bargain today, buying could be the better long-term financial play.

 Ready to compare your options? Then reach out to schedule a free consultation. As local market experts, we can help you interpret the numbers to determine if buying or renting is the better value in your particular neighborhood.

3.Can I afford to be a homeowner?

 If you determine that buying a home is the better value, you'll want to evaluate your financial readiness.

 Start by examining how much you have in savings. After committing a down payment and closing costs, will you still have enough money left over for ancillary expenses and emergencies? If not, that's a sign you may be better off waiting until you've built a larger rainy-day fund.

 Then consider how your monthly budget will be impacted. Remember, your monthly mortgage payment won't be your only expense going forward. You may also need to factor in property taxes, insurance, association fees, maintenance, and repairs.

 Still, you could find that the monthly cost of homeownership is comparable to renting, especially if you make a sizable down payment. Landlords often pass the extra costs of homeowning onto tenants, so it's not always the cheaper option.

 Plus, even though you'll be in charge of financing your home's upkeep if you buy, you'll also be the one who stands to benefit from the fruits of your investment. Every major upgrade, for example, not only makes your home a nicer place to live; it also helps boost your home's market value.

 If you want to buy a home but aren't sure you can afford it, give us a call to discuss your goals and budget. We can give you a realistic assessment of your options and help you determine if your homeownership dreams are within reach.

4. Can I qualify for a mortgage?

 If you're prepared to handle the costs of homeownership, you'll next want to look into how likely you are to get approved for a mortgage.

 Every lender will have its own criteria. But, in general, you can expect a creditor to scrutinize your job stability, credit history, and savings to make sure you can handle a monthly mortgage payment.

 For example, lenders like to see evidence that your income is stable and predictable. So if you're self-employed, you may need to provide additional documentation proving that your earnings are dependable. A lender will also compare your monthly debt payments to your income to make sure you aren't at risk of becoming financially overextended.

 In addition, a lender will check your credit report to verify that you have a history of on-time payments and can be trusted to pay your bills. Generally, the higher your credit score, the better your odds of securing a competitive rate.

 Whatever your circumstances, it's always a good idea to get preapproved for a mortgage before you start house hunting. Let us know if you're interested, and we'll give you a referral to a loan officer or mortgage broker who can help.

5. How would owning a home change my life?

 Before you begin the preapproval process, however, it's important to consider how homeownership would affect your life, aside from the long-term financial gains.

 In general, you should be prepared to invest more time and energy in owning a home than you do renting one. There can be a fair amount of upkeep involved, especially if you buy a fixer-upper or overcommit yourself to a lot of DIY projects. If you've only lived in an apartment, for example, you could be surprised by the amount of time you spend maintaining a lawn.

 On the other hand, you might relish the chance to tinker in your very own garden, make HGTV-inspired improvements, or play with your dog in a big backyard. Or, if you're more social, you might enjoy hosting family gatherings or attending block parties with other committed homeowners.

 The great thing about owning a home is that you can generally do what you want with it – even if that means painting your walls fiesta red one month and eggplant purple the next!

 The choice – like the home – is all yours.  

HAVE MORE QUESTIONS? WE'VE GOT ANSWERS 

The decision to buy or rent a home is among the most consequential you will make in your lifetime. We can make the process easier by helping you compare your options using real-time local market data. So don't hesitate to reach out for a personalized consultation from our Montague Miller & Co trusted real estate professionals, regardless of where you are in your deliberations. We'd be happy to answer your questions and identify actionable steps you can take now to reach your long-term goals.

The above references an opinion and is for informational purposes only.  It is not intended to be financial, legal, or tax advice. Consult the appropriate professionals for advice regarding your individual needs. 

Sources:

  1. CNN -
    https://www.cnn.com/2022/08/11/homes/home-prices-second-quarter/index.html
  2. NPR - https://www.npr.org/2022/07/14/1109345201/theres-a-massive-housing-shortage-across-the-u-s-heres-how-bad-it-is-where-you-l
  3. Bankrate -
    https://www.bankrate.com/mortgages/5-year-real-estate-rule/
  4. Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis -
    https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/MSPUS
  5. National Association of REALTORS - https://www.nar.realtor/blogs/economists-outlook/price-to-rent-ratios-by-state-from-2014-2019
  6. National Association of REALTORS -
    https://www.nar.realtor/blogs/economists-outlook/single-family-homeowners-typically-accumulated-225K-in-housing-wealth-over-10-years
  7. Statista -
    https://www.statista.com/statistics/200223/median-apartment-rent-in-the-us-since-1980/
September
7

Mortgage rates have been on a roller coaster ride this year, rising and falling amid inflationary pressures and economic uncertainty. And even the experts are divided when it comes to predicting where rates are headed next.1

This climate has been unsettling for some homebuyers and sellers. However, with proper planning, you can work toward qualifying for the best mortgage rates available today – and open up the possibility of refinancing at a lower rate in the future.

How does a lower mortgage rate save you money? According to Trading Economics, the average new mortgage size in the United States is currently around $410,000.2 Let's compare a 5.0% versus a 6.0% fixed-interest rate on that amount over a 30-year term.

Mortgage Rate
(30-year fixed)

Monthly Payment on $410,000 Loan
(excludes taxes, insurance, etc.)

Difference in Monthly Payment

Total Interest Over 30 Years

Difference in Interest

5.0%

$2,200.97

 

$382,348.72

 

6.0%

$2,458.16

+ $257.19

$474,936.58

+ $92,587.86

With a 5% rate, your monthly payments would be about $2,201. At 6%, those payments would jump to $2,458, or around $257 more. That adds up to a difference of almost $92,600 over the lifetime of the loan. In other words, shaving off just one percentage point on your mortgage could put nearly $100K in your pocket over time.

So, how can you improve your chances of securing a low mortgage rate? Try these eight strategies:

  1. Raise your credit score.

Borrowers with higher credit scores are viewed as "less risky" to lenders, so they are offered lower interest rates. A good credit score typically starts at 690 and can move up into the 800s.3 If you don't know your score, check with your bank or credit card company to see if they offer free access. If not, there are a plethora of both free and paid credit monitoring services you can utilize.

 If your credit score is low, you can take steps to improve it, including:4

  • Correct any errors on your credit reports, which can bring down your score. You can access reports for free by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com.
  • Pay down revolving debt. This includes credit card balances and home equity lines of credit.
  • Avoid closing old credit card accounts in good standing. It could lower your score by shortening your credit history and shrinking your total available credit.
  • Make all future payments on time. Payment history is a primary factor in determining your credit score, so make it a priority.
  • Limit your credit applications to avoid having your score dinged by too many inquiries. If you're shopping around for a car loan or mortgage, minimize the impact by limiting your applications to a short period, usually 14 to 45 days.5

 Over time, you should start to see your credit score climb — which will help you qualify for a lower mortgage rate. 

  1. Keep steady employment.

If you are preparing to purchase a home, it might not be the best time to make a major career change. Unfortunately, frequent job moves or gaps in your résumé could hurt your borrower eligibility.

When you apply for a mortgage, lenders will typically review your employment and income over the past 24 months.5 If you've earned a steady paycheck, you could qualify for a better interest rate. A stable employment history gives lenders more confidence in your ability to repay the loan.

That doesn't mean a job change will automatically disqualify you from purchasing a home. But certain moves, like switching from W-2 to 1099 (independent contractor) income, could throw a wrench in your home buying plans.6

  1. Lower your debt-to-income ratios.

Even with a high credit score and a great job, lenders will be concerned if your debt payments are consuming too much of your income. That's where your debt-to-income (DTI) ratios will come into play.

There are two types of DTI ratios:7

  1. Front-end ratio — What percentage of your gross monthly income will go towards covering housing expenses (mortgage, taxes, insurance, and dues or association fees)?
  2. Back-end ratio — What percentage of your gross monthly income will go towards covering ALL debt obligations (housing expenses, credit cards, student loans, and other debt)?

What's considered a good DTI ratio? For better rates, lenders typically want to see a front-end DTI ratio that's no higher than 28% and a back-end ratio that's 36% or less.7

If your DTI ratios are higher, you can take steps to lower them, like purchasing a less expensive home or increasing your down payment. Your back-end ratio can also be decreased by paying down your existing debt. A bump in your monthly income will also bring down your DTI ratios. 

  1. Increase your down payment.

Minimum down payment requirements vary by loan type. But, in some cases, you can qualify for a lower mortgage rate if you make a larger down payment.8

Why do lenders care about your down payment size? Because borrowers with significant equity in their homes are less likely to default on their mortgages. That's why conventional lenders often require borrowers to purchase private mortgage insurance (PMI) if they put down less than 20%.

A larger down payment will also lower your overall borrowing costs and decrease your monthly mortgage payment since you'll be taking out a smaller loan. Just be sure to keep enough cash on hand to cover closing costs, moving expenses, and any furniture or other items you'll need to get settled into your new space.

  1. Compare loan types.

All mortgages are not created equal. The loan type you choose could save (or cost) you money depending on your qualifications and circumstances.

For example, here are several common loan types available in the U.S. today:9

  • Conventional — These offer lower mortgage rates but have more stringent credit and down payment requirements than some other types.
  • FHA — Backed by the government, these loans are easier to qualify for but often charge a higher interest rate.
  • Specialty — Certain specialty loans, like VA or USDA loans, might be available if you meet specific criteria.
  • Jumbo — Mortgages that exceed the local conforming loan limit are subject to stricter requirements and may have higher interest rates and fees.10

When considering loan type, you'll also want to weigh the pros and cons of a fixed-rate versus variable-rate mortgage:11 

  • Fixed rate — With a fixed-rate mortgage, you're guaranteed to keep the same interest rate for the entire life of the loan. Traditionally, these have been the most popular type of mortgage in the U.S. because they offer stability and predictability.
  • Adjustable rate — Adjustable-rate mortgages, or ARMs, have a lower introductory interest rate than fixed-rate mortgages, but the rate can rise after a set period of time — typically 3 to 10 years.

According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, 10% of American homebuyers are now selecting ARMs, up from just 4% at the start of this year.12 An ARM might be a good option if you plan to sell your home before the rate resets. However, life is unpredictable, so it's important to weigh the benefits and risks involved. 

  1. Shorten your mortgage term.

A mortgage term is the length of time your mortgage agreement is in effect. The terms are typically 15, 20, or 30 years.13 Although the majority of homebuyers choose 30-year terms, if your goal is to minimize the amount you pay in interest, you should crunch the numbers on a 15-year or 20-year mortgage.

With shorter loan terms, the risk of default is less, so lenders typically offer lower interest rates.13 However, it's important to note that even though you'll pay less interest, your mortgage payment will be higher each month, since you'll be making fewer total payments. So before you agree to a shorter term, make sure you have enough room in your budget to comfortably afford the larger payment. 

  1. Get quotes from multiple lenders.

When shopping for a mortgage, be sure to solicit quotes from several different lenders and lender types to compare the interest rates and fees. Depending upon your situation, you could find that one institution offers a better deal for the type of loan and term length you want.

Some borrowers choose to work with a mortgage broker. Like an insurance broker, they can help you gather quotes and find the best rate. However, if you use a broker, make sure you understand how they are compensated and contact more than one so you can compare their recommendations and fees.14

Don't forget that we can be a valuable resource in finding a lender, especially if you are new to the home buying process. After a consultation, we can discuss your financing needs and connect you with loan officers or brokers best suited for your situation.

  1. Consider mortgage points.

Even if you score a great interest rate on your mortgage, you can lower it even further by paying for points. When you buy mortgage points — also known as discount points — you essentially pay your lender an upfront fee in exchange for a lower interest rate. The cost to purchase a point is 1% of your mortgage amount. For each point you buy, your mortgage rate will decrease by a set amount, typically 0.25%.15 You'll need upfront cash to pay for the points, but you can more than make up for the cost in interest savings over time.

However, it only makes sense to buy mortgage points if you plan to stay in the home long enough to recoup the cost. You can determine the breakeven point, or the period of time you'd need to keep the mortgage to make up for the fee, by dividing the cost by the amount saved each month.15 This can help you determine whether or not mortgage points would be a good investment for you. 

Getting Started

Unfortunately, the rock-bottom mortgage rates we saw during the height of the pandemic are behind us. However, today's 30-year fixed rates still fall beneath the historical average of around 8% — and are well below the all-time peak of 18.45% in 1981.16, 17

And although higher mortgage rates have made it more expensive to finance a home purchase, they have also eliminated some of the competition from the market. Consequently, today's buyers are finding more homes to choose from, fewer bidding wars, and more sellers willing to negotiate or offer incentives such as cash toward closing costs or mortgage points.

If you're ready and able to buy a home, there's no reason that concerns about mortgage rates should sideline your plans. The reality is that many economists predict home prices to continue climbing.18 So you may be better off buying today at a slightly higher rate than waiting and paying more for a home a few years from now. You can always refinance if mortgage rates go down, but you can't make up for the lost years of equity growth and appreciation.

If you have questions or would like more information about buying or selling a home, reach out to schedule a free consultation with your local Montague Miller & Company real estate professional. We'd love to help you weigh your options, navigate this shifting market, and reach your real estate goals!

Sources:

  1. Washington Post - https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2022/08/04/mortgage-rates-sink-below-5-percent-first-time-four-months/
  2. Trading Economics - https://tradingeconomics.com/united-states/average-mortgage-size
  3. NerdWallet - https://www.nerdwallet.com/article/finance/what-is-a-good-credit-score
  4. org - https://www.debt.org/credit/improving-your-score/
  5. The Balance - https://www.thebalance.com/will-multiple-loan-applications-hurt-my-credit-score-960544
  6. Time -https://time.com/nextadvisor/mortgages/how-lenders-evaluate-your-employment/
  7. Bankrate - https://www.bankrate.com/mortgages/why-debt-to-income-matters-in-mortgages/
  8. NerdWallet - https://www.nerdwallet.com/article/mortgages/payment-buy-home
  9. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau - https://www.consumerfinance.gov/owning-a-home/loan-options/
  10. NerdWallet - https://www.nerdwallet.com/article/mortgages/jumbo-loans-what-you-need-to-know
  11. Bankrate - https://www.bankrate.com/mortgages/arm-vs-fixed-rate/
  12. MarketWatch - https://www.marketwatch.com/picks/as-mortgage-rates-rise-heres-exactly-how-more-homebuyers-are-snagging-mortgage-rates-around-4-01656513665
  13. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau - https://www.consumerfinance.gov/owning-a-home/loan-options/#anchor_loan-term_361c08846349fe
  14. Federal Trade Commission - https://consumer.ftc.gov/articles/shopping-mortgage-faqs
  15. Bankrate - https://www.bankrate.com/mortgages/mortgage-points/
  16. CNBC - https://www.cnbc.com/select/mortgage-rates-today-still-relatively-low/
  17. Rocket Mortgage - https://www.rocketmortgage.com/learn/historical-mortgage-rates-30-year-fixed
  18. MarketWatch - https://www.marketwatch.com/picks/continuing-home-price-deceleration-heres-what-5-economists-and-real-estate-pros-predict-will-happen-to-the-housing-market-this-year-01659347993
June
1

 

The last two years caught many of us off guard—and not just because of the pandemic. They also ushered in the hottest housing market on record, with home prices rising nationally by nearly 19% in 2021, driven primarily by low mortgage rates and a major supply shortage.1

 But while some had hoped 2022 would bring a return to normalcy, the U.S. real estate market continues to boom, despite rising interest rates and decreasing affordability.

 So what's driving this persistent demand? And is there an end in sight?

Here are three factors impacting the real estate market right now. Find out how they could affect you if you're a current homeowner or plan to buy or sell a home this year.

 MORTGAGE RATES ARE RISING FASTER THAN EXPECTED

 Over the past couple of years, homebuyers have faced intense competition for new homes—in part due to historically low mortgage rates that were a result of the Federal Reserve's efforts to keep the economy afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 However, in response to a concerning level of inflation, the Fed is now reversing those efforts by raising the federal funds rate. And as a result, mortgage rates are rising, as well. Few experts predicted, though, that mortgage rates would go up as quickly as they have.

 In January 2022, the Mortgage Bankers Association projected that rates would reach 4% by the end of this year.2 By mid-April, however, the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate had already hit 5%, up from around 3% just one year prior.3 On a $400,000 mortgage, that 2% difference could translate into an additional $461 per monthly payment.

 Since then, mortgage rates have continued on an upward trend. So what impact are these rising rates having on demand? While many buyers had hoped for a cooling effect, experts warn that may not be the case.

 Ali Wolf, chief economist at housing market research firm Zanda, told Fortune magazine, "Rising mortgage rates are having a counterintuitive effect on the housing market. Home shoppers are actually sprung into action in an attempt to buy a home before mortgage rates rise any higher."4

 Since inventory remains low, the resulting "race" has kept the homebuying market highly competitive–at least for now.

 What does it mean for you?

 While current 30-year fixed mortgage rates represent an increase over previous months, they remain well below the historical average of 8%.5 As inflation across the economy continues, the Fed is likely to raise rates further this year. Buyers should act fast to secure a good mortgage rate. We'd be happy to refer you to a lender who can help.

 For sellers, speed is also of the essence. The pool of potential buyers may shrink as mortgages become more expensive. And if you plan to finance your next home, you'll want to act quickly to secure a favorable rate for yourself. Contact us today to discuss your options.

 HOME PRICES KEEP CLIMBING

 History shows that higher interest rates don't necessarily translate to lower home prices. In fact, home prices rose 5% between 1980 and 1982, a period of significantly higher mortgage rates and inflation.5

 Forecasters expect that home prices will continue to go up throughout 2022, though likely at a slower pace than the 18.8% increase of the last 12 months.4 Bank of America predicts that prices will be up approximately 10% by the end of this year, while Fannie Mae estimates 11.2%.6,7

 In addition to limited supply and a race to beat rising mortgage rates, home values are also climbing because of positive economic indicators, like low unemployment.8 Plus, rents are soaring–up 17% from a year ago–which is prompting more first-time homebuyers to enter the market.9 Add to that the continued popularity of remote work, and it's easy to see why property prices continue to surge.

 However, it's not all bad news for prospective homebuyers. Economists expect that as mortgage rates rise, the rate of appreciation will continue to taper, though the effect may be gradual.

 "Eventually mortgage rates will slow down home prices," according to Ken Johnson, an economist at Florida Atlantic University interviewed by Marketwatch.10 "We should not see rapid upticks in prices as mortgage rates rise." Forecasters agree—Fannie Mae expects price increases to slow to 4.2% in 2023.7

 What does it mean for you?

 While the pace of appreciation is likely to decrease next year, home prices show no signs of going down. However, current labor shortages are leading to higher salaries and better job opportunities for many workers. You may find that your income growth outpaces home prices, making homeownership more affordable for you in the future.

 For homeowners, the outlook's even brighter. You could find yourself sitting on a nice pile of equity. Contact us for a free home value assessment to find out.

 INVENTORY REMAINS EXTREMELY LOW

 As noted, one of the largest hurdles to homeownership is a lack of inventory. According to a February 2022 report by Realtor.com, there's an expanding gap between household formation and home construction, which has resulted in a nationwide shortage of 5.8 million housing units.11

 The origins of this shortage date back to the 2008 housing crisis, during which crashing home values led contractors to stop building new properties—a trend that has not been fully reversed.12

 That decline in home construction also resulted in a decrease in the number of home building professionals, a trend that was exacerbated by job losses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, many builders are limited by their ability to find qualified labor.

 Another major challenge is a staggering increase in the cost of materials. Pandemic-related supply chain shortages have been a significant driver, with home building material costs rising on average 20% on a year-over-year basis. The price of framing lumber alone has tripled since August 2021.13

 These trends add tens of thousands of dollars to the cost of a typical home. Factors like a lack of buildable land in many areas, restrictive zoning, and a shortage of developers are also contributing to the issue.14

 Most homebuying experts agree that the lack of inventory is the primary factor driving rising housing prices and unprecedented competition for homes. With available housing units near four-decade lows, the end of the current housing boom is not yet in sight.15

 What does it mean for you?

 Prospective buyers should be prepared to compete for a home, since low inventory can lead to multiple offers. You may also need to expand your search parameters. If you're ready to look, we're ready to help.

 For sellers, the picture is rosier. In this strong market, your home may be worth more than you realize. Contact us to find out how much your home could sell for in today's market.

 WE'RE HERE TO GUIDE YOU

 While national real estate trends can provide a "big picture" outlook, real estate is local. And as local market experts, we can guide you through the ins and outs of our market and the local issues that are likely to drive home values in your particular neighborhood.

 If you're considering buying or selling a home, contact one of our Montague Miller & Co real estate professionals to schedule a free consultation. We can help you assess your options and make the most of this unique real estate landscape.

Sources:

  1. Marketwatch - https://www.marketwatch.com/picks/home-price-appreciation-will-normalize-what-5-economists-and-real-estate-pros-predict-will-happen-to-home-prices-in-2022-01646940841
  2. Bankrate -
    https://www.bankrate.com/mortgages/mortgage-rate-forecast
  3. CNBC -
    https://www.cnbc.com/2022/04/16/heres-how-much-the-same-mortgage-costs-now-compared-to-last-year.html
  4. Fortune -
    https://fortune.com/2022/03/23/housing-market-interest-rate-economic-shock/
  5. National Association of Realtors -
    https://www.nar.realtor/blogs/economists-outlook/instant-reaction-mortgage-rates-april-07-2022
  6. Fortune -
    https://fortune.com/2022/03/16/home-prices-2022-2023-bank-of-america-forecast-mortgage-rates/
  7. Fortune -
    https://fortune.com/2022/03/07/what-home-prices-will-look-like-2023-fannie-mae/
  8. Fortune -
    https://fortune.com/2022/03/17/home-prices-drop-housing-markets-california-michigan-massachusetts-corelogic/
  9. CNN -
    https://www.cnn.com/2022/03/23/success/us-national-rent-february/index.html
  10. MarketWatch -
    https://www.marketwatch.com/story/home-prices-increase-at-one-of-the-fastest-rates-on-record-but-higher-mortgage-rates-should-slow-future-growth-11648559497
  11. com -
    https://www.realtor.com/research/us-housing-supply-gap-expands/
  12. NPR -
    https://www.npr.org/2022/03/29/1089174630/housing-shortage-new-home-construction-supply-chain
  13. Investopedia -
    https://www.investopedia.com/housing-market-dips-in-early-march-2022-5222449
  14. NPR -
    https://www.npr.org/2022/03/29/1089174630/housing-shortage-new-home-construction-supply-chain
  15. Fortune -
    https://fortune.com/2022/03/14/housing-market-key-metric-inventory-zillow-bad-for-buyers/

May
23

Some Highlights

What does the rest of the year hold for the Houseing Market? Here's what experts have to say about what lies ahead.

Home Prices are projected to rise and so are mortgage rates.  Experts are also forecasting another strong year for home sales as people move to meet their changing needs. 

Connect with a Montague Miller & Co local real estate professional so you can make your best move this year.

Resources: Keeping Current Matters, CoreLogic, Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, NAR, Calculated Risk, MBA

March
9

Key Factors That Impact Affordability Today | MyKCM

You can't read an article about residential real estate without the author mentioning the affordability challenges that today's buyers face. There's no doubt homes are less affordable today than they were over the last two years, but that doesn't mean homes are now unaffordable.

There are three measures used to establish home affordability: home prices, mortgage rates, and wages. Let's look closely at each of these components.

1. Home Prices

The most recent Home Price Insights report by CoreLogic shows home values have increased by 19.1% from last January to this January. That was one reason affordability declined over the past year.

2. Mortgage Rates

While the current global uncertainty makes it difficult to project mortgage rates, we do know current rates are almost one full percentage point higher than they were last year. According to Freddie Mac, the average monthly rate for last February was 2.81%. This February it was 3.76%. That increase in the mortgage rate also contributes to homes being less affordable than they were last year.

3. Wages

The one big, positive component in the affordability equation is an increase in American wages. In a recent article by RealtyTrac, Peter Miller addresses that point:

"Prices are up, but what about wages? ADP reports that job holder incomes increased 5.9% last year but rose 8.0% for those who switched employers. In effect, some of the higher cost to buy a home has been offset by more cash income."

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) also recently released information that looks at income and affordability. The NAR data provides a comparison of the current median family income versus the qualifying income for a median-priced home in each region of the country. Here's a graph of their findings:

Key Factors That Impact Affordability Today | MyKCM

As the graph shows, the median family income (shown in blue on the graph) is greater than the qualifying income needed to buy a median-priced home (shown in green on the graph) in all four regions of the country. While those figures may vary in certain locations within each region, it's important to note that, in most of the country, homes are still affordable.

So, when you think about affordability, remember that the picture includes more than just home prices and mortgage rates. When prices rise and rates rise, it does impact affordability, and experts project both of those things will climb in the months ahead. That's why it's less affordable to buy a home than it was over the past two years when prices and rates were lower than they are today. But wages need to be factored into affordability as well. Because wages have been rising, they're a big reason that, while less affordable, homes are not unaffordable today.

Bottom Line

To find out more about affordability in our local area, let's discuss where home prices are locally, what's happening with mortgage rates, and get you in contact with a lender so you can make an informed financial decision. Remember, while less affordable, homes are not unaffordable, which still gives you an opportunity to buy today.

March
9

Down Payment Assistance Programs Can Help You Achieve Homeownership | MyKCM

For many homebuyers, the thought of saving for a down payment can feel daunting, especially in today's market. That's why, when asked what they find most difficult in the homebuying process, some buyers say it's one of the hardest steps on the path to homeownership. Data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows:

"For first-time home buyers, 29 percent said saving for a downpayment [sic] was the most difficult step in the process."

If you're finding that your down payment is your biggest hurdle, the good news is there are many down payment assistance programs available that can help you achieve your goals. The key is understanding where to look and learning what options are available. Here's some information that can help.

First-Time and Repeat Buyers Are Often Eligible

According to downpaymentresource.com, there are thousands of financial assistance programs available for homebuyers, like affordable mortgage options for first-time buyers. But, of the many programs that are available, down payment assistance options make up the large majority. They say 73% of the assistance available to homebuyers is there to help you with your down payment.

And it's not just first-time homebuyers that are eligible for these programs. Downpaymentresource.com notes:

"You don't have to be a first-time buyer. Over 38% of all programs are for repeat homebuyers who have owned a home in the last 3 years."

That means no matter where you are in your homeownership journey, there could be an option available for you.

There Are Local Programs and Specialized Programs for Public Servants

There are also multiple down payment assistance resources designed to help those who serve our communities. Teacher Next Door is one of those programs:

"The Teacher Next Door Program was designed to increase home ownership among teachers and other public servants, support community development and increase access to affordable housing free from discrimination."

Teacher Next Door is just one program that seeks to help teachers, first responders, health providers, government employees, active-duty military personnel, and veterans reach their down payment goals.

And, most importantly, even if you don't qualify for these types of specialized programs, there are many federal, state, and local programs available for you to explore. And the best way to do that is to connect with a local real estate professional to learn more about what's available in your area.

Bottom Line

If saving for a down payment seems daunting, there are programs available that can help. And if you work to serve our community, there may be even more opportunities available to you. To learn more about your options, let's connect so you can start your homebuying journey today.

Resources: Keeping Current Matters, Teacher Next Door, Simplifying the Market, National Association of Realtors (NAR)

March
16

difference between cost and price buying a home

 

As a seller, you will be most concerned about 'short term price' – where home values are headed over the next six months. As a buyer, you must be concerned not about price but instead about the 'long term cost' of the home.

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), the National Association of RealtorsFannie Mae and Freddie Mac all projected that mortgage interest rates will increase by about three-quarters of a percentage point over the next twelve months.

According to CoreLogic's most recent Home Price Index Report, home prices will appreciate by 5.2% over the next 12 months.

What Does This Mean as a Buyer?

Here is a simple demonstration of what impact an interest rate increase would have on the mortgage payment of a home selling for approximately $250,000 today if home prices appreciate by the 5.2% predicted by CoreLogic over the next twelve months:

Cost of Waiting | Keeping Current Matters

April
27

 
February
3

how long to save down payment title graphicIn a recent study conducted by Builder.com, researchers determined that nationwide it would take "nearly eight years" for a first-time buyer to save enough for a down payment on their dream home.

Depending on where you live, median rents, incomes and home prices all vary. By determining the percentage a renter spends on housing in each state and the amount needed for a 10% down payment, they were able to establish how long (in years) it would take for an average resident to save.

According to the study, residents in South Dakota are able to save for a down payment the quickest in just under 3.5 years. Below is a map created using the data for each state:

Years Needed to Save 10% Down | Keeping Current Matters

What if you only needed to save 3%?

What if you were able to take advantage of one of the Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae 3% down programs? Suddenly saving for a down payment no longer takes 5 or 10 years, but becomes attainable in under two years in many states as shown in the map below.

Years Needed to Save 3% Down | Keeping Current Matters

Bottom Line

Whether you have just started to save for a down payment, or have been for years, you may be closer to your dream home than you think! Meet with a local real estate professional who can help you evaluate your ability to buy today.

June
15

rent vs buy either way you are paying a mortgage mm blog titleThere are some people that have not 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 mortgage – either your mortgage or your landlord's.

As The Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University explains:

"Households must consume housing whether they own or rent. Not even accounting for more favorable tax treatment of owning, homeowners pay debt service to pay down their own principal while households that rent pay down the principal of a landlord plus a rate of return.

That's yet another reason owning often does—as Americans intuit—end up making more financial sense than renting."

Christina Boyle, a Senior Vice President, Head of Single-Family Sales & Relationship Management 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' 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.

The graph below shows the widening gap in net worth between a homeowner and a renter:

Increasing Gap in Family Wealth | Keeping Current Matters

Bottom Line

Whether you are looking for a primary residence for the first time or are considering a vacation home on the shore, owning might make more sense than renting with home values and interest rates projected to climb.

January
6

mortgage interest rate over 4 percent title graphicMortgage interest rates, as reported by Freddie Mac, have increased over the last several weeks. Along with Freddie MacFannie Mae, the Mortgage Bankers Association and the National Association of Realtors are all calling for mortgage rates to continue to rise over the next four quarters.

This has caused some purchasers to lament the fact they may no longer be able to get a rate less than 4%. However, we must realize that current rates are still at historic lows.

Here is a chart showing the average mortgage interest rate over the last several decades.

Historic Mortgage Rates By Decade | Keeping Current Matters

Bottom Line

Though you may have missed getting the lowest mortgage rate ever offered, you can still get a better interest rate than your older brother or sister did ten years ago; a lower rate than your parents did twenty years ago and a better rate than your grandparents did forty years ago.