If you’re reading headlines about inflation or mortgage rates, you may see something about the recent decision from the Federal Reserve (the Fed). But what does it mean for you, the housing market, and your plans to buy a home? Here’s what you need to know.
While the Fed’s working hard to lower inflation, the latest data shows that, while the number has improved some, the inflation rate is still higher than the target (2%). That played a role in the Fed’s decision to raise the Federal Funds Rate last week. As Bankrate explains:
“Keeping its inflation-fighting streak alive, the Federal Reserve has raised interest rates for the 10th time in 10 meetings . . . The hikes aimed to cool an economy that was on fire after rebounding from the coronavirus recession of 2020.”
While the Fed’s actions don’t directly dictate what happens with mortgage rates, their decisions do have an impact and contributed to the intentional cooldown in the housing market last year.
During times of high inflation, your everyday expenses go up. That means you’ve likely felt the pinch at the gas pump and in the grocery store. By raising the Federal Funds Rate, the Fed is actively trying to lower inflation. If the Fed is successful, it could also ultimately lead to lower mortgage rates and better homebuying affordability for you. That’s because when inflation is high, mortgage rates tend to be high. But, as inflation cools, experts say mortgage rates will likely fall.
Moving forward, both inflation and mortgage rates will continue to impact the housing market. And as Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at the National Association of Realtors (NAR), says:
“Mortgage rates are likely to descend lower later in the year as the consumer price inflation calms down . . .”
Mike Fratantoni, Chief Economist at the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), explains:
“We continue to expect that mortgage rates will drift down over the course of the year as the economy slows . . .”
While there’s no way to say with certainty where mortgage rates will go from here, the experts think mortgage rates will trend down this year if inflation comes down too. To stay informed on the latest insights, connect with a trusted real estate advisor. They keep their pulse on what’s happening today and help you understand what the experts are projecting and how it could impact your homeownership plans.
Don’t let headlines about the latest decision from the Fed confuse you. Where mortgage rates go from here depends on what happens with inflation. If inflation cools, mortgage rates should tick down as a result. Let’s connect so you have expert insights on housing market changes and what they mean for you.
If you’re looking to buy a house, you may find today’s limited supply of homes available for sale challenging. When housing inventory is as low as it is right now, it can feel like a bit of an uphill battle to find the perfect home for you because there just isn’t that much to choose from. If you need to open up your pool of options, it may be time to consider a newly built home.
According to the latest data from the U.S. Census, there’s positive news when it comes to new home construction. When you look at the first three months of this year, you’ll find:
And, while this is all good news for broadening your options for your home search, there are other perks that come with considering a newly built home.
When you buy a new home under construction, you can tailor it to your unique needs and taste. Bankrate says:
“Building means customizing. . . . instead of wishing your home had a certain kind of flooring, a sunroom or some other special amenity, you’ll be able to tailor the property to your exact needs.”
Another perk of a new home is that nothing in the house is used. It’s all brand new and uniquely yours from day one.
And, because everything is new, you’ll likely find there are fewer maintenance and repair needs up front. As Realtor.com explains:
“. . . if something does go wrong with your new home, not only are there likely some manufacturer warranties in place, but many builders also include additional home warranties . . .”
Lastly, building a home gives you the opportunity to incorporate more energy-efficient options that can help lower your costs over time – which can feel especially important when inflation’s raising many of the costs around you.
If you’re having trouble finding your dream home in today’s market, it may be time to consider newly built homes as an option. Let’s connect so you have an expert on your side to help you explore what’s available in our local area.
If you’re a homeowner thinking about making a move, you may wonder if it’s still a good time to sell your house. Here’s the good news. Even with higher mortgage rates, buyer traffic is actually picking up speed.
Data from the latest ShowingTime Showing Index, which is a measure of buyers actively touring homes, helps paint the picture of how much buyer demand has increased in recent months (see graph below):
As the graph shows, the first two months of 2023 saw a noticeable increase in buyer traffic. That’s likely because the limited number of homes for sale kept shoppers looking for homes even during colder months.
To help tell the story of why the latest report is significant, let’s compare foot traffic this February with each February for the last six years (see graph below). It shows this was one of the best Februarys for buyer activity we’ve seen in recent memory.
In the last six years, we saw the most February buyer traffic in 2021 and 2022 (shown in green above), but those years were highly unusual for the housing market. So, if we compare February 2023 with the more normal, pre-pandemic years, data shows this year still marks a clear rise in buyer activity.
The uptick in buyer traffic is even more noteworthy considering the increase in mortgage rates this February. The Freddie Mac 30-year fixed mortgage rate rose from 6.09% during the week of February 2nd to 6.50% in the week of February 23rd. But even with higher rates, more buyers were looking for a home.
Jeff Tucker, Senior Economist at Zillow, says the increased buyer activity could continue:
“More buyers will keep coming out of the woodwork. We always see a seasonal uptick in home shoppers in March and April . . .”
If you’re looking to sell your house, seeing buyers still active in the market this year should be encouraging. It’s a sign buyers are out there and could be looking for a home just like yours. Working with a real estate professional to list your house now will help you get your home in front of eager buyers today.
Rising foot traffic is a bright spot for this year’s housing market and indicates that buyers are looking to purchase this year, even with higher mortgage rates. If you’re ready to sell your house, let’s connect.
Wondering if you should continue renting or if you should buy a home this year? If so, consider this. Rental affordability is still a challenge and has been for years. That’s because, historically, rents trend up over time. Data from the Census shows rents have been climbing pretty steadily since 1988.
And, data from the latest rental report from Realtor.com shows rents continue to grow today, even though it’s at a slower pace than we saw at the height of the pandemic:
“In March 2023, the U.S. rental market experienced single-digit growth for the eighth month in a row . . . The median asking rent was $1,732, up by $15 from last month and down by $32 from the peak but is still $354 (25.7%) higher than the same time in 2019 (pre-pandemic).”
With rents much higher now than they were in more normal, pre-pandemic years, owning your home may be a better option, especially if the long-term trend of rents increasing each year continues. In contrast, homeowners with a fixed-rate mortgage can lock in a monthly mortgage payment for the duration of their loan (typically 15-30 years).
The graph below uses national data on the median rental payment from Realtor.com and median mortgage payment from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) to compare the two options. As the graph shows, depending on how much space you need, it’s typically more affordable to own than to rent if you need two or more bedrooms:
So, if you’re looking to live somewhere where you have two or more bedrooms to accommodate your household, give you more breathing room to spread out your belongings, or dedicate the extra space to practice your hobbies, it might make sense to consider homeownership.
In addition to shielding you from rising rents and being more affordable when you need more space, owning your home also allows you to start building your own equity, which in turn grows your net worth.
And, as home values typically rise over time and you pay off your mortgage, you build equity. That equity can set you up for success later on because you can use it to help fuel a move to an even bigger space down the line. That’s why, according to Zonda, the top reason millennial homeowners bought their home over the past year was to build their own equity instead of someone else’s.
If you’re trying to decide whether to buy a home or continue renting, let’s connect to explore your options. With rents rising, it may make more sense to pursue your dream of homeownership.
There’s been a lot of focus on higher mortgage rates and how they’re creating affordability challenges for today’s homebuyers. It’s true that rates climbed dramatically since the record-low we saw during the pandemic. But home affordability is based on more than just mortgage rates – it’s determined by a combination of mortgage rates, home prices, and wages.
Considering how each one of these factors is changing gives you the full picture of home affordability today. Here’s the latest.
While mortgage rates are higher than they were a year ago, they’ve hovered primarily between 6% and 7% for nearly eight months now (see graph below):
As the graph shows, mortgage rates have experienced some volatility during that time. And even a small change in mortgage rates impacts your purchasing power. That’s why it’s so important to lean on your team of real estate professionals for expert advice to stay up to date on what’s happening in the market. While it’s hard to project where mortgage rates will go from here, many experts agree they’ll likely continue to remain around 6%-7% in the immediate future.
Over the past few years, home prices appreciated rapidly as the record-low mortgage rates we saw during the pandemic led to a surge in buyer demand. The heightened buyer demand happened while the supply of homes for sale was at record lows, and that imbalance put upward pressure on home prices. However, today’s higher mortgage rates have slowed down price appreciation.
And, the truth is, home price appreciation varies by market. Some areas are seeing slight declines while others have prices that are climbing. As Selma Hepp, Chief Economist at CoreLogic, explains:
“The divergence in home price changes across the U.S. reflects a tale of two housing markets. Declines in the West are due to the tech industry slowdown and a severe lack of affordability after decades of undersupply. The consistent gains in the Southeast and South reflect strong job markets, in-migration patterns and relative affordability due to new home construction.”
To find out what’s happening with prices in your local market, reach out to a trusted real estate agent.
The most positive factor in affordability right now is rising income. The graph below uses data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to show how wages have grown over time:
Higher wages improve affordability because they reduce the percentage of your income it takes to pay your mortgage since you don’t have to put as much of your paycheck toward your monthly housing cost.
Home affordability comes down to a combination of rates, prices, and wages. If you have questions or want to learn more, reach out to a real estate professional who can explain what’s happening locally and how these factors work together.
If you’re planning to buy a home, knowing the key factors that impact affordability is important so you can make an informed decision. To stay up to date on the latest on each, let’s connect today.
If you’re buying a home this spring, today’s housing market can feel like a challenge. With so few homes on the market right now, plus higher mortgage rates, it’s essential to have a firm grasp on your homebuying budget. You’ll also need a sense of determination to find the right house and act quickly when you go to put in an offer. One thing you can do to help you prepare is to get pre-approved.
To understand why it’s such an important step, you need to know what pre-approval is. As part of the process, a lender looks at your finances to determine what they’d be willing to loan you. From there, your lender will give you a pre-approval letter to help you understand how much money you can borrow.
Freddie Mac explains it like this:
“A pre-approval is an indication from your lender that they are willing to lend you a certain amount of money to buy your future home. . . . Keep in mind that the loan amount in the pre-approval letter is the lender’s maximum offer. Ultimately, you should only borrow an amount you are comfortable repaying.”
Basically, pre-approval gives you critical information about the homebuying process that’ll help you understand how much you may be able to borrow so you have a stronger grasp of your options. And with higher mortgage rates impacting affordability for many buyers today, a solid understanding of your numbers is even more important.
That’s not the only thing pre-approval can do. Another added benefit is it can help a seller feel more confident in your offer because it shows you’re serious about buying their house. And, with sellers seeing a slight increase in the number of offers again this spring, making a strong offer when you find the perfect house is key.
As a recent article from the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) says:
“If you plan to use a mortgage for your home purchase, preapproval should be among the first steps in your search process. Not only can getting preapproved help you zero in on the right price range, but it can give you a leg up on other buyers, too.”
Getting pre-approved is an important first step when you’re buying a home. It lets you know what you can borrow for your loan and shows sellers you’re serious. Connect with a local real estate professional and a trusted lender so you have the tools you need to purchase a home in today’s market.
If you’re planning to buy a home, an inspection is an important step in the process. It assesses the condition of the home before you finalize the transaction. It’s also a different step in the process from an appraisal, which is a professional evaluation of the market value of the home you’d like to buy. In most cases, an appraisal is ordered by the lender to confirm or verify the value of the home prior to lending a buyer money for the purchase. Here’s the breakdown of each one and why they’re both important when buying a home.
Here’s the key difference between an inspection and an appraisal. Bankrate says:
“In short, while an appraisal helps you understand a home’s value, inspections help you understand a home’s condition.”
The home inspection is a way to determine the current state, safety, and condition of the home before you finalize the sale. 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 as a buyer have the option to discuss and negotiate any potential issues or repairs with the seller before the transaction is final. Your real estate agent is a key expert to help you through this part of the process.
The National Association of Realtors (NAR) explains:
“A home purchase is typically the largest investment someone will make. Protect yourself by getting your investment appraised! An appraiser will observe the property, analyze the data, and report their findings to their client. For the typical home purchase transaction, the lender usually orders the appraisal to assist in the lender’s decision to provide funds for a mortgage.”
When you apply for a mortgage, an unbiased appraisal (which is required by the lender) is the best way to confirm the value of the home based on the sale price. Regardless of what you’re willing to pay for a house, if you’ll be using a mortgage to fund your purchase, the appraisal will help make sure the bank doesn’t loan you more than what the home is worth.
This is especially critical in today’s sellers’ market where low inventory is driving an increase in bidding wars, which can push home prices upward. When sellers are in a strong position like this, they tend to believe they can set whatever price they want for their house under the assumption that competing buyers will be willing to pay more.
However, the lender will only allow the buyer to borrow based on the value of the home. This is what helps keep home prices in check. If there’s ever any confusion or discrepancy between the appraisal and the sale price, your trusted real estate professional will help you navigate any additional negotiations in the buying process.
The inspection and the appraisal are critical steps when buying a home, and you don’t need to manage them by yourself. Let’s connect today so you have the expert guidance you need to navigate the entire homebuying process.
In the United States, there are over 72 million millennials. If you’re part of that generation and have thought about buying a home, you aren’t alone. According to Zonda, 98% of millennials want to become a homeowner at some point if they aren’t already. But why? There are plenty of reasons you may choose to become a homeowner. Here’s why other millennials have made that decision (see graph below):
This graph shows why millennials are buying homes according to Zonda’s 6th annual millennial survey. The top reasons include building equity, a change in life stage, wanting stability, rising home values, and wanting to make somewhere truly their own. Here’s a look at each in more detail.
Building equity – Homeownership is a long-term investment that allows you to build wealth, increase your net worth, and become more financially stable. Beyond that, the alternative to owning a home is typically renting. With the way rents have risen so dramatically over time, it may make sense to build your own equity instead of the equity of the person you’re renting from.
A change in life stage – As a millennial, you’re reaching your prime homebuying years. That means you may be at the point where you need more space or a different location.
Stability or settling down – This could mean establishing your career or just generally deciding more concretely what you want your life to look and feel like. As that idea becomes clearer, you may want to establish that lifestyle in a particular place and put down roots.
Rising home values – By purchasing a home, you own an asset that traditionally increases in value over time. That can mean your home will have a higher resale value if you decide to move again.
Wanting to make somewhere “mine” – Owning a home gives a sense of freedom because you can customize it however you want, make updates as you see fit, and be yourself in a place that’s solely your own.
There are plenty of great reasons why millennials are buying homes today. If you’ve thought about becoming a homeowner and any of these reasons resonate with you too, let’s connect to explore your options.
As the housing market continues to change, you may be wondering where it’ll go from here. One factor you’re probably thinking about is home prices, which have come down a bit since they peaked last June. And you’ve likely heard something in the news or on social media about a price crash on the horizon. As a result, you may be holding off on buying a home until prices drop significantly. But that’s not the best strategy.
A recent survey from Zonda shows 53% of millennials are still renting right now because they’re waiting for home prices to come down. But here’s the thing: the most recent data shows that home prices appear to have bottomed out and are now on the rise again. Selma Hepp, Chief Economist at CoreLogic, reports:
“U.S. home prices rose by 0.8% in February . . . indicating that prices in most markets have already bottomed out.”
And the latest data from Black Knight shows the same shift. The graph below compares home price trends in November to those in February:
So, should you keep waiting to buy a home until prices come down? If you factor in what the experts are saying, you probably shouldn’t. The data shows prices are increasing in much of the country, not decreasing. And the latest data from the Home Price Expectation Survey indicates that experts project home prices will rise steadily and return to more normal levels of appreciation after 2023. The best way to understand what home values are doing in your area is to work with a local real estate professional who can give you the latest insights and expert advice.
If you’re waiting to buy a home until prices come down, you may want to reconsider. Let’s connect to make sure you understand what’s happening in our local housing market.
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