The Price of Perfection: Don’t Wait for the Perfect Home

The Price of Perfection: Don’t Wait for the Perfect Home.

In life, patience is a virtue – but in the world of homebuying, waiting too long in hopes of finding the perfect home actually isn’t wise. That’s because the pursuit of perfection comes at a cost. And in this case, that cost may be delaying your dream of homeownership. As Bankrate explains:

“One of the most common first-time homebuyer mistakes is looking for a home that checks each of your boxes. Looking for perfection can narrow your choices and lead you to pass over good, suitable options for starter homes in the hopes that something better will come along.”

The Cost of Holding Out for Perfection

Nothing in life is ever perfect – and that’s true when you search for a home too. Unless you’re building a brand-new home from the ground up, chances are there are going to be some features or finishes you wouldn’t have picked yourself. It may be as simple as paint colors, a light fixture, or the tile in the bathrooms or kitchen. Or even that the backyard isn’t fenced in. It could also be that the home itself is great, but it’s not the ideal location you were hoping for.

But here’s the trade-off you’d be making without even realizing it. In all that time you’d spend searching for the perfect place, you’d overlook a lot of homes that would’ve worked for you. U.S. News explains:

“. . . you may miss opportunities if you enter the process with blinders on and aren’t open-minded . . . Countless potential buyers never buy because of this, and thus miss great investments or never move on to the next chapter of their lives.”

It’s Time To Redefine Perfection

Especially with affordability and inventory where they are today, buying a home that needs some updates, is a few neighborhoods away from your ideal location, or doesn’t have all your desired features can be a smart move. Here’s why.

For starters, these homes are usually more affordable, which is important at a time when some buyers are struggling to find options in their budget.

And they give you a chance to make the space your own or discover a whole new area of town. You may find out you actually love that neighborhood. Or, swapping out a feature here or there after move-in isn’t such a big deal. So, look past the green shag carpet and see the bones of the house. With a little vision and creativity, you can turn a good house into a fantastic home.

How an Agent Helps You Explore Your Options

If you’re open to a home that needs a little elbow grease or is a bit further out, let your agent know. They’ll be happy to show you how this can really open up your pool of homes to pick from. They’ll also help coach you through this process by:

1. Prioritizing Your Must-Haves: Your agent will want to revisit your wish list and separate your non-negotiables from your nice-to-haves. From there, they’ll focus on what’s really most important to you as they come up with a bigger list of options for you to choose from.

2. Coaching You To See the Potential: As you tour these added options, your agent will help you look beyond cosmetic flaws and imagine what the home could be with a little work. Simple updates like a fresh coat of paint or new flooring can make a big difference.

3. Connecting You with Local Pros: And an agent’s support goes one step further. If they know what you’re hoping to change after you move in, they can connect you with local pros who can get the job done. That way it’s less work for you, and you don’t have to worry about tracking down contractors.

Bottom Line

Remember, there is no perfect home. But with expert help and an open mind, an agent can find you the right home – even in today’s market. Connect with a local real estate agent to see what’s out there.

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Things To Avoid After Applying for a Mortgage [INFOGRAPHIC]

Things To Avoid After Applying for a Mortgage [INFOGRAPHIC].

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Some Highlights

  • There are a few key things you’ll want to avoid after applying for a mortgage to make sure you’re in the best position when you get to the closing table.
  • Don’t change bank accounts, apply for new credit, make any large purchases or transfers, and don’t co-sign loans for anyone.
  • Here’s a good rule of thumb. Always connect with your loan officer before making any financial decisions once you’ve started the mortgage process.
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Homeownership: The Heart of the American Dream

Homeownership: The Heart of the American Dream.

Everyone’s vision for the future is personal and unique. But for many, common goals include success, freedom, and prosperity — values closely tied to having your own home and the iconic feeling of achieving the American Dream.

A recent survey by Bankrate reveals exactly that: homeownership is still a part of the American Dream. The results show, at 78%, that owning a home tops the list, surpassing other significant milestones such as retirement, having a successful career, and more (see below):No Caption Received

So, why is buying a home important to so many today? One reason is the financial and physical security it provides. Many people see homeownership as a way to reduce stress because owning a home with a fixed-rate mortgage stabilizes what is likely their largest monthly expense.

Another factor is the potential for building wealth. That’s because, over time, homeowners gain equity as they pay down their mortgage and as home prices appreciate, leading to longer-term financial stability.

But what about the responsibilities that come with owning and maintaining a home? According to a survey by Entrata, only 23% of renters feel homeownership is too much work, indicating the majority are open to the commitments and obligations that come with being a homeowner.

What Does This Mean for You?

While buying a home today might seem daunting due to higher mortgage rates and rising home prices, the long-term benefits can make it worthwhile. If you’re considering homeownership, remember that it’s more than just a financial investment — it’s a step toward securing your future.

Bottom Line

Owning a home is a significant and powerful decision that represents a big part of the American Dream. If you’re ready to take this step, start by reaching out to a local real estate agent who can guide you through the process and help you make your homeownership goals a reality.

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Real Estate Still Holds the Title of Best Long-Term Investment

Real Estate Still Holds the Title of Best Long-Term Investment.

With all the headlines circulating about home prices and mortgage rates, you may be asking yourself if it still makes sense to buy a home right now, or if it’s better to keep renting. Here’s some information that could help put your mind at ease by showing that investing in a home is still a powerful decision.

According to the experts at Gallup, real estate has been crowned the top long-term investment for a whopping 12 years in a row. It has consistently beat out other investment types like gold, stocks, and bonds. Just take a look at the graph below – it speaks volumes:No Caption Received

But why does real estate continue to reign supreme as a top-notch long-term investment? It’s because, even today, buying a home can be your golden ticket to building wealth over time.

Unlike other investments that can feel a bit like riding a rollercoaster with all the ups and downs and ongoing risk factors, real estate follows a more predictable and positive pattern.

History shows home values usually rise. And while prices may vary by market, that means as time goes by, your house is likely to appreciate in value. And that helps you grow your net worth in a big way. As an article from Realtor.com explains:

Homeownership has long been tied to building wealth—and for good reason. Instead of throwing rent money out the window each month, owning a home allows you to build home equity. And over time, equity can turn your mortgage debt into a sizeable asset.”

So, if you’re on the fence about whether to rent or buy, remember that real estate was consistently voted the best long-term investment for a reason. And if you want to get in on that action, it may make sense to go ahead and buy (if you’re ready and able).

Bottom Line

When it comes to building wealth that stands the test of time, real estate is the name of the game. If you’re ready to start on your own journey toward homeownership, connect with a local real estate advisor today.

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The Difference Between an Inspection and an Appraisal

The Difference Between an Inspection and an Appraisal.

When you decide to buy your first home, you may come across a number of terms and conditions you’re not familiar with. While you may have a general idea of what an inspection is, maybe you’re not sure why you need one or how it’s different from an appraisal. To keep it simple, here’s an explainer of each one and what they mean for you as a homebuyer.

Home Inspection

Once you’re under contract on a home you’d like to buy, getting an inspection is a key part of the process. An inspection gives you a clear idea of the safety and overall condition of the home – which is important for such a big transaction. As a recent Realtor.com article explains:

A home inspection is something that protects your financial interest in what will likely be the largest purchase you make in your life—one in which you need as much information as possible.”

If anything is questionable in the inspection process – like the age of the roof, the state of the HVAC system, or just about anything else – you have the option to discuss and negotiate any potential issues or repairs with the seller before the transaction is final. And don’t worry – you don’t have to go through that process alone. Your real estate agent will be your advocate and negotiate with the seller for you.

Home Appraisal

While the inspection tells you about the current state of the house, an appraisal gives you its value. Bankrate explains:

“When buying or selling a home, an appraisal verifies that the sale price of the home is in line with fair market value. This ensures the homebuyer doesn’t pay more than the home is worth, and the mortgage lender doesn’t lend more than it is worth.”

Regardless of what you’re willing to pay for a house, if you’ll be using a mortgage to fund your purchase, the appraisal protects you from overpaying and the bank from lending you more than the home is worth.

And if there’s ever any confusion or discrepancy between the appraisal and the agreed-upon price in your contract, your trusted real estate professional will help you navigate any additional negotiations to try to close the gap.

Bottom Line

The inspection and the appraisal are different but equally important steps when buying a home – and you don’t need to manage them by yourself. Connect with an agent today so you have expert guidance from start to finish.

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Focus on Time in the Market, Not Timing the Market

Focus on Time in the Market, Not Timing the Market.

Should you buy a home now or should you wait? That’s a big question on many people’s minds today. And while what timing is right for you will depend on a lot of other personal factors, here’s something you may not have considered.

If you’re able to buy at today’s rates and prices, it may be better to focus on time in the market, rather than timing the market.

The Downside of Trying To Time the Market 

Trying to time the market isn’t a good strategy because things can change. Here’s an example. For the better part of this year, projections have said mortgage rates will come down. And while experts agree that’s still what’s ahead, shifts in various market and economic factors have pushed back the timing of when that’ll happen. Here’s how that’s impacted homebuyers who’ve been sitting on the sidelines. As U.S. News says:

Those who put off buying a home during the past few years as they were holding out for lower mortgage rates have been left out of the market . . . mortgage rates have stayed higher for longer than previously expected, keeping monthly housing payments elevated. In other words, affordability didn’t improve for those who chose to wait.”

This is why timing the market may not pay off if you’re ready and able to buy now.

The Proof Is in the Pudding: How Homeowners Benefit from Rising Home Prices

Delaying your plans also means missing out on the equity you’d gain if you went ahead with your purchase today. And the potential equity gains that are at stake may surprise you.

Each quarter, Fannie Mae releases the Home Price Expectations Survey. It asks over one hundred economists, real estate experts, and investment and market strategists what they forecast for home prices over the next five years. In the latest release, experts are projecting home prices will continue to rise through at least 2028 (see the graph below): No Caption Received

To give these numbers context, let’s take a look at a breakdown of what you stand to gain once you buy. The graph below uses a typical home’s value to show how a home could appreciate over the next few years using those HPES projections: No Caption Received

In this example, let’s say you went ahead and bought a $400,000 home at the beginning of this year. Based on the expert forecasts from the HPES, you could gain more than $83,000 in household wealth over the next five years. That’s not a small number.

This data helps paint the picture of why time in the market really matters.

The Advice You Need To Hear If You’re Ready and Able To Buy Now

Right now, you may be focused on what’s happening with mortgage rates and how those impact your monthly payment, but don’t forget to factor in home prices.

Prices are expected to continue climbing, just at a more moderate pace. And while a moderate rise in prices may not be fun for you now, once you own a home, that growth will be a huge perk. That’s the time in the market piece.

Sure, you could try timing the market, but the equity you’ll be missing out on in the meantime is something to seriously consider. If you’re ready and able to buy now, you have to decide: is it really worth waiting?

Rather than focusing on timing the market. It’s better to have time in the market.

As U.S. News Real Estate sums up:

“There’s never a one-size-fits-all answer to whether now is the right time to buy a home. . . . There’s also no way to predict precisely what the market will do in the near future . . . Perfectly timing the market shouldn’t be the goal. This decision should be determined by your personal needs, financial means and the time you have to find the right home.” 

Bottom Line

If you’re debating whether to buy now or wait, remember it’s time in the market, not timing the market. And if you want to get the ball rolling and set yourself up for those big equity gains, connect with an agent to make it happen. 

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Housing Market Forecast: What’s Ahead for the 2nd Half of 2024

Housing Market Forecast: What’s Ahead for the 2nd Half of 2024.

As we move into the second half of 2024, here’s what experts say you should expect for home prices, mortgage rates, and home sales.

Home Prices Are Expected To Climb Moderately

Home prices are forecasted to rise at a more normal pace. The graph below shows the latest forecasts from seven of the most trusted sources in the industry:

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The reason for continued appreciation? The supply of homes for sale. Jessica Lautz, Deputy Chief Economist at the National Association of Realtors (NAR), explains:

“One thing that seems to be pretty solid is that home prices are going to continue to go up, and the reason is that we don’t have housing inventory.”

While inventory is up compared to the last couple of years, it’s still low overall. And because there still aren’t enough homes to go around, that’ll keep upward pressure on prices.

If you’re thinking of buying, the good news is you won’t have to deal with prices skyrocketing like they did during the pandemic. Just remember, prices aren’t expected to drop. They’ll continue climbing, just at a slower pace.

So, getting into the market sooner rather than later could still save you money in the long run. Plus, you can feel confident experts say your home will grow in value after you buy it.

Mortgage Rates Are Forecast To Come Down Slightly

One of the best pieces of news for both buyers and sellers is that mortgage rates are expected to come down a bit, according to Fannie Mae, the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), and NAR (see chart below):

No Caption ReceivedWhen you buy, even a small drop in mortgage rates can make a big difference in your monthly payments. For sellers, lower rates will bring more buyers back into the market, which can help you sell faster and potentially at a higher price. Plus, it may help you get off the fence, if you’ve been hesitant to sell due to today’s rates.

Home Sales Are Projected To Hold Steady

For 2024, the number of home sales will be about the same as last year and may even rise slightly. The graph below compares the 2024 home sales forecasts from Fannie Mae, MBA, and NAR to the 4.8 million homes that sold last year:

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The average of the three forecasts is about 5 million sales in 2024 – a small increase from 2023. Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at NAR, explains why:

“Job gains, steady mortgage rates and the release of inventory from pent-up home sellers will lead to more sales.”

With more inventory available and mortgage rates expected to go down, a few more homes are expected to be sold this year compared to last year. This means more people will be able to move. Let’s work together to make sure you’re one of them.

Bottom Line

If you have any questions or need help navigating the market, reach out to a local real estate agent.

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Why a Vacation Home Is the Ultimate Summer Upgrade

Why a Vacation Home Is the Ultimate Summer Upgrade.

Summer is officially here and that means it’s the perfect time to start planning where you want to vacation and unwind this season. If you’re excited about getting away and having some fun in the sun, it might make sense to consider if owning your own vacation home is right for you.

An Ameriprise Financial survey sheds light on why people buy a second, or vacation, home (see below): No Caption Received

  • Vacation destination or a place to get away from the stresses of everyday life (81%) – Having a second home to use as a vacation spot can be a special place where you go to relax and take a break from your daily routines and stressors. It also means you won’t have to worry about finding somewhere to stay when you go there.
  • Better weather (49%) – Buying in a place where there may be nicer weather can be a great escape, especially if it’s cold or rainy where you usually live. It lets you enjoy sunny days and warm temperatures, even when it’s not so nice back home.
  • Rental income (41%) – You can rent it out to other people when you’re not using it, which can help you make some extra money.
  • Primary residence in the future (33%) – You can eventually move into the home full-time during retirement. That means you can enjoy vacations there now and have a getaway ready for your future.
  • Having a venue for gatherings with family and friends (25%) – It would be a special spot where you can have parties, regular family trips, and create fun memories.

Ways To Buy Your Vacation Home

And you don’t have to be wealthy to buy a vacation home. Bankrate shares two tips for how to make this dream more achievable for anyone who’s interested:

  • Buy with loved ones or friends: If you’re okay with sharing the vacation home, you can go in on the purchase price together and pool your resources to make it more affordable.
  • Put a savings plan in place: This will require patience and persistence but consider adding a vacation home savings plan to your budget and contributing to it monthly.

Finding Your Dream Spot with a Little Help from an Agent

If the idea of basking in the sun at your very own vacation home sounds appealing, you might want to start looking now. Summer’s when everyone’s trying to buy their slice of paradise, so it’s best to start early.

Your first move is to team up with a real estate agent. They know all the ins and outs of the area you want to be in, and which homes you should look at. Plus, they can give you the lowdown on everything you need to know about having a second home and how it can benefit you. The same article from Bankrate says:

Buying real estate in a new area — or even one you’ve vacationed in for many years — requires expert guidance. That makes it a good idea to work with an experienced local lender who specializes in loans for vacation homes and a local real estate professional. Local lenders and Realtors will understand the required rules and specifics for the area you are buying, and a local Realtor will know what properties are available.”

Bottom Line

If the idea of owning your own vacation home appeals to you, connect with a real estate agent.

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What You Need To Know About Today’s Down Payment Programs

What You Need To Know About Today’s Down Payment Programs.

There’s no denying it’s gotten more challenging to buy a home, especially with today’s mortgage rates and home price appreciation. And that may be one of the big reasons you’re eager to look into grants and assistance programs to see if there’s anything you qualify for that can help. But unfortunately, many homebuyers feel like they don’t know where to start. 

A recent Bank of America Institute study asked prospective buyers where they lack confidence in the process and need more information. And this is what topped the list:

53% said they need help understanding homebuying grant programs.

So, here’s some information that can help you close that gap.

What Is Down Payment Assistance?

As the Mortgage Reports explains:

“Down payment assistance (DPA) programs offer loans and grants that can cover part or all of a home buyer’s down payment and closing costs. More than 2,000 of these programs are available nationwide. . . DPA programs vary by location, but many home buyers could be in line for thousands of dollars in down payment assistance if they qualify.”

And here’s some more good news. On top of all of these programs, you probably don’t need to save as much for your down payment as you think. Contrary to what you may have heard, typically you don’t have to put 20% down unless it’s specified by your loan type or lender. So, you likely don’t need to save as much upfront, and there are programs designed to make your down payment more achievable. Sounds like a win-win.

First-Time and Repeat Buyers Are Often Eligible

It’s also worth mentioning, that it’s not just first-time homebuyers that are eligible for many of these programs. That means whether you’re looking to buy your first house or your fifth, there could be an option for you. As Down Payment Resource notes:

You don’t have to be a first-time buyer. Over 39% of all [homeownership] programs are for repeat homebuyers who have owned a home in the last 3 years.”

Additional Down Payment Resources That Can Help

Here are a few of the down payment assistance programs that are helping many buyers achieve their dream of homeownership, even now:

  • Teacher Next Door is designed to help teachers, first responders, health providers, government employees, active-duty military personnel, and Veterans reach their down payment goals.
  • Fannie Mae provides down payment assistance to eligible first-time homebuyers living in majority-Latino communities.
  • Freddie Mac also has options designed specifically for homebuyers with modest credit scores and limited funds for a down payment.
  • The 3By30 program lays out actionable strategies to add 3 million new Black homeowners by 2030. These programs offer valuable resources for potential buyers, making it easier to secure down payments and realize their dream of homeownership.
  • For Native Americans, Down Payment Resource highlights 42 U.S. homebuyer assistance programs across 14 states that ease the path to homeownership by providing support with down payments and other associated costs.

If you want more information on any of these, the best place to start is by contacting a trusted real estate professional.

They’ll be able to share more details about what may be available, including any other programs designed to serve specific professions or communities. And even if you don’t qualify for these types of programs, they can help see if there are any other federal, state, and local options available you should look into. 

Bottom Line

Affordability is still a challenge, so if you’re looking to buy, you’re going to want to make sure you’re taking advantage of any and all resources available.

The best way to find out what’s out there is to connect with a team of real estate professionals, including a trusted lender and a local agent. 

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Do Elections Impact the Housing Market?

Do Elections Impact the Housing Market?.

The 2024 Presidential election is just months away. As someone who’s thinking about potentially buying or selling a home, you’re probably curious about what effect, if any, elections have on the housing market.

It’s a great question because buying or selling a home is a major decision, and it’s natural to wonder how such a major event might impact your plans.

Historically, Presidential elections have only had a small, temporary impact on the housing market. Here’s the latest on exactly what’s happened to home sales, prices, and mortgage rates throughout those time periods.

Home Sales

During the month of November, in years when the Presidential election takes place, there’s typically a slight slowdown in home sales. As Ali Wolf, Chief Economist at Zonda, explains:

“Usually, home sales are unchanged compared to a non-election year with the exception being November. In an election year, November is slower than normal.

This is mostly because some people feel uncertain and hesitant about making big decisions during such a pivotal time. However, it’s important to know this slowdown is temporary. Historically, home sales bounce back in December and continue to rise the following year.

In fact, data from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows after nine of the last 11 Presidential elections, home sales went up the next year (see graph below): No Caption Received

The graph shows annual home sales going back to 1978. Each year with a Presidential election is noted in blue. The year immediately after each election is green if existing home sales rose that year. The two orange bars represent the only years when home sales decreased after an election.

Home Prices

What about home prices? Do they drop during election years? Not typically. As residential appraiser and housing analyst Ryan Lundquist puts it:

“An election year doesn’t alter the price trend that is already happening in the market.”

Home prices are pretty resilient. They generally rise year-over-year, regardless of elections. The latest data from NAR shows after seven of the last eight Presidential elections, home prices increased the following year (see graph below): No Caption Received

Just like the previous graph, this shows election years in blue. The only year when prices declined after an election is in orange. That was during the housing market crash, which was far from a typical year. Today’s market is different than it was back then.

All the green bars represent when prices rose the following year. So, if you’re worried about your home losing value because of an election, you can rest easy knowing prices rise after most Presidential elections.

Mortgage Rates

Mortgage rates are important because they affect how much your monthly payment will be when you buy a home. Looking at the last 11 Presidential election years, data from Freddie Mac shows mortgage rates decreased from July to November in eight of them (see chart below): No Caption Received

Most forecasts expect mortgage rates to ease slightly throughout the remainder of the year. If they’re right, this year will follow the trend of declining rates leading up to most previous elections. And if you’re looking to buy a home in the coming months, this could be good news, as lower rates could mean a lower monthly payment.

What This Means for You

So, what’s the big takeaway? While Presidential elections do have some impact on the housing market, the effects are usually small and temporary. As Lisa Sturtevant, Chief Economist at Bright MLS, says:

“Historically, the housing market doesn’t tend to look very different in presidential election years compared to other years.”

For most buyers and sellers, elections don’t have a major impact on their plans.

Bottom Line

While it’s natural to feel a bit uncertain during an election year, history shows the housing market remains strong and resilient. If you have questions, reach out to a local real estate agent. They’re here to help you navigate the market, election year or not.

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