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Lower Mortgage Rates Are Bringing Buyers Back to the Market

Lower Mortgage Rates Are Bringing Buyers Back to the Market | MyKCM
 

As mortgage rates rose last year, activity in the housing market slowed down. And as a result, homes started seeing fewer offers and stayed on the market longer. That meant some homeowners decided to press pause on selling.

Now, however, rates are beginning to come down—and buyers are starting to reenter the market. In fact, the latest data from the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) shows mortgage applications increased last week by 7% compared to the week before.

So, if you’ve been planning to sell your house but you’re unsure if there will be anyone to buy it, this shift in the market could be your chance. Here’s what experts are saying about buyers returning to the market as we approach spring.

Mike Fratantoni, SVP and Chief Economist, MBA:

Mortgage rates are now at their lowest level since September 2022, and about a percentage point below the peak mortgage rate last fall. As we enter the beginning of the spring buying season, lower mortgage rates and more homes on the market will help affordability for first-time homebuyers.”

Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist, National Association of Realtors (NAR):

The upcoming months should see a return of buyers, as mortgage rates appear to have already peaked and have been coming down since mid-November.”

Thomas LaSalvia, Senior Economist, Moody’s Analytics:

"We expect the labor market to remain robust, wages to continue to rise—maybe not at the pace that they did during the pandemic, but that will open up some opportunity for folks to enter homeownership as interest rates stabilize a bit."

Sam Khater, Chief Economist, Freddie Mac:

“Homebuyers are waiting for rates to decrease more significantly, and when they do, a strong job market and a large demographic tailwind of Millennial renters will provide support to the purchase market.”

Bottom Line

If you’ve been thinking about making a move, now’s the time to get your house ready to sell. Let’s connect so you can learn about buyer demand in our area the best time to put your house on the market.

The 3 Factors That Affect Home Affordability

The 3 Factors That Affect Home Affordability | MyKCM
 

If you’ve been following the housing market over the last couple of years, you’ve likely heard about growing affordability challenges. But according to experts, the key factors that determine housing affordability are projected to improve this year. Selma Hepp, Executive, Deputy Chief Economist at CoreLogicshares:

“. . . with slowly improving affordability and a more optimistic economic outlook than previously believed, the housing market could show resilience in 2023.”

The three measures used to establish home affordability are home prices, mortgage rates, and wages. Here’s a closer look at each one.

1. Mortgage Rates

Mortgage rates shot up to over 7% last year, causing many buyers to put their plans on hold. But things are looking different today as rates are starting to come down. George Ratiu, Senior Economist at realtor.comexplains:

“Let’s celebrate some good news. . . . mortgage rates are down. With inflation showing a tangible slowdown, I do expect mortgage rates to follow suit in the months ahead.”

Even a small change in rates can impact your purchasing power. Nadia Evangelou, Director of Forecasting for the National Association of Realtors (NAR), gives this context:

“With a 6% rate instead of 7%, buyers pay about $2,700 less every year on their mortgage. As a result, owning a home becomes affordable to about 1.4 million more renters and 4.3 million more homeowners.”

If 7% rates paused your homebuying plans last year, this could be the opportunity you need to get back in the game. Be sure to work with a team of experts who know the latest on mortgage rates and can give you the best advice for the current market.

2. Home Prices

The second factor at play is home prices. Home prices have made headlines over the past few years because they skyrocketed during the pandemic. When discussing home prices in 2023, Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at NAR, says:

“After a big boom over the past two years, there will essentially be no change nationally . . . Half of the country may experience small price gains, while the other half may see slight price declines.”

So, while prices will likely be flat this year in some markets, others could see small gains or slight declines. It all depends on your local area. For insight into what’s happening in your market and how prices are impacting affordability, reach out to a trusted real estate professional.

3. Wages

The final component in the affordability equation is wages. The graph below uses data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to show how wages have increased over time:

The 3 Factors That Affect Home Affordability | MyKCM

When you think about affordability, remember the full picture includes more than just mortgage rates and prices. Wages need to be factored in as well. Because wages have been rising, many buyers have renewed opportunity in the market.

While affordability hurdles are not completely going away this year, based on current trends and projections, 2023 should bring some sense of relief to homebuyers who have faced growing challenges. As Mike Fratantoni, Chief Economist at the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), says:

“Rates are expected to move lower for the year, and home price growth is expected to cool, both of which will help affordability challenges.”

Bottom Line

If you have questions, let’s connect. You’ll also want to make sure you have a trusted lender so you can explore your financing options. You may be closer to owning a home than you think.

The Truth About Negative Home Equity Headlines

 

The Truth About Negative Home Equity Headlines | MyKCM
 

Home equity has been a hot topic in real estate news lately. And if you’ve been following along, you may have heard there’s a growing number of homeowners with negative equityBut don’t let those headlines scare you.

In truth, the headlines don’t give you all the information you really need to understand what’s happening and at what scale. Let’s break down one of the big equity stories you may be seeing in the news, and what’s actually taking place. That way, you’ll have the context you need to understand the big picture.

Headlines Focus on Short-Term Equity Numbers and Fail To Convey the Long-Term View

One piece of news circulating focuses on the percentage of homes purchased in 2022 that are currently underwater. The term underwater refers to a scenario where the homeowner owes more on the loan than the house is worth. This was a huge issue when the housing market crashed in 2008, but it's much less significant today.

Media coverage right now is based loosely on a report from Black Knight, Inc. The actual report from that source says this:

Of all homes purchased with a mortgage in 2022, 8% are now at least marginally underwater and nearly 40% have less than 10% equity stakes in their home, . . .”

Let’s unpack that for a moment and provide the bigger picture. The data-bound report from Black Knight is talking specifically about homes purchased in 2022, but media headlines don’t always mention that timeframe or provide the surrounding context about how unusual of a year 2022 was for the housing market. In 2022, home price appreciation soared, and it reached its max around March-April. Since then, the rate of appreciation has been slowing down.

Homeowners who bought their house last year right at the peak or those who paid more than market value in the months that followed are more likely to fall into the category of being marginally underwater. The qualifier marginally is another key piece of the puzzle the media isn’t necessarily including in their coverage.

So, what does that mean for those who purchased a home in 2022? It’s important to remember, owning a home is a long-term investment, not a short-term play. When headlines focus on the short-term view, they’re not necessarily providing the full context.

Typically speaking, the longer you stay in your home, the more equity you gain as you pay down your loan and as home prices appreciate. With recent market conditions, you may not have gained significant equity right away if you owned the home for just a few months. But it’s also true that many homeowners who recently bought their house are unlikely to be looking to sell quite yet.

Bottom Line

As with everything, knowing the context is important. If you have questions about real estate headlines or about how much equity you have in your home, let’s connect.

Applying For a Mortgage? Here's What You Should Avoid Once You Do.

Applying For a Mortgage? Heres What You Should Avoid Once You Do. | MyKCM
 

While it’s exciting to start thinking about moving in and decorating after you’ve applied for your mortgage, there are some key things to keep in mind before you close. Here’s a list of things you may not realize you need to avoid after applying for your home loan.

Don’t Deposit Large Sums of Cash

Lenders need to source your money, and cash isn’t easily traceable. Before you deposit any amount of cash into your accounts, discuss the proper way to document your transactions with your loan officer.

Don’t Make Any Large Purchases

It’s not just home-related purchases that could disqualify you from your loan. Any large purchases can be red flags for lenders. People with new debt have higher debt-to-income ratios (how much debt you have compared to your monthly income). Since higher ratios make for riskier loans, borrowers may no longer qualify for their mortgage. Resist the temptation to make any large purchases, even for furniture or appliances.

Don’t Cosign Loans for Anyone

When you cosign for a loan, you’re making yourself accountable for that loan’s success and repayment. With that obligation comes higher debt-to-income ratios as well. Even if you promise you won’t be the one making the payments, your lender will have to count the payments against you.

Don’t Switch Bank Accounts

Lenders need to source and track your assets. That task is much easier when there’s consistency among your accounts. Before you transfer any money, speak with your loan officer.

Don’t Apply for New Credit

It doesn’t matter whether it’s a new credit card or a new car, when you have your credit report run by organizations in multiple financial channels (mortgage, credit card, auto, etc.), it will have an impact on your FICO® score. Lower credit scores can determine your interest rate and possibly even your eligibility for approval.

Don’t Close Any Accounts

Many buyers believe having less available credit makes them less risky and more likely to be approved. This isn’t true. A major component of your score is your length and depth of credit history (as opposed to just your payment history) and your total usage of credit as a percentage of available credit. Closing accounts has a negative impact on both of those aspects of your score.

Do Discuss Changes with Your Lender

Be upfront about any changes that occur or you’re expecting to occur when talking with your lender. Blips in income, assets or credit should be reviewed and executed in a way that ensures your home loan can still be approved. If your job or employment status has changed recently, share that with your lender as well. Ultimately, it’s best to fully disclose and discuss your intentions with your loan officer before you do anything financial in nature.

Bottom Line

You want your home purchase to go as smoothly as possible. Remember, before you make any large purchases, move your money around, or make major life changes, be sure to consult your lender – someone who’s qualified to explain how your financial decisions may impact your home loan.

Planning To Sell Your House? It's Critical To Hire a Pro.

Planning To Sell Your House? Its Critical To Hire a Pro | MyKCM
 

With higher mortgage rates and moderating buyer demand, conditions in the housing market are different today. And if you’re thinking of selling your house, it’s important to understand how the market has changed and what that means for you. The best way to make sure you’re in the know is to work with a trusted housing market expert.

Here are five reasons working with a professional can ensure you’ll get the most out of your sale.

1. A Real Estate Advisor Is an Expert on Market Trends

Leslie Rouda Smith, 2022 President of the National Association of Realtors (NAR), explains:

"During challenging and changing market conditions, one thing that's calming and constant is the assurance that comes from a Realtor® being in your corner through every step of the home transaction. Consumers can rely on Realtors®' unmatched work ethic, trusted guidance and objectivity to help manage the complexities associated with the home buying and selling process.”

An expert real estate advisor has the latest information about national trends and your local area too. More importantly, they’ll know what all of this means for you so they’ll be able to help you make a decision based on trustworthy, data-bound information.

2. A Local Professional Knows How To Set the Right Price for Your House

Home price appreciation has moderated this year. If you sell your house on your own, you may be more likely to overshoot your asking price because you’re not as aware of where prices are today. If you do, you run the risk of deterring buyers or seeing your house sit on the market for longer.

Real estate professionals provide an unbiased eye when they help you determine a price for your house. They’ll use a variety of factors, like the condition of your home and any upgrades you’ve made, and compare your house to recently sold homes in your area to find the best price for today’s market. These steps are key to making sure it’s set to move as quickly as possible.

3. A Real Estate Advisor Helps Maximize Your Pool of Buyers

Since buyer demand has cooled this year, you'll want to do what you can to help bring in more buyers. Real estate professionals have a large variety of tools at their disposal, such as social media followers, agency resources, and the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) to ensure your house gets in front of people looking to make a purchase. Investopedia explains why it’s risky to sell on your own without the network an agent provides:

You don’t have relationships with clients, other agents, or a real estate agency to bring the largest pool of potential buyers to your home.”

Without access to the tools and your agent’s marketing expertise, your buyer pool – and your home’s selling potential – is limited.

4. A Real Estate Expert Will Read – and Understand – the Fine Print

Today, more disclosures and regulations are mandatory when selling a house. That means the number of legal documents you’ll need to juggle is growing. NAR explains it like this:

“Selling a home typically requires a variety of forms, reports, disclosures, and other legal and financial documents. . . . Also, there’s a lot of jargon involved in a real estate transaction; you want to work with a professional who can speak the language.”

A real estate professional knows exactly what all the fine print means and how to work through it efficiently. They’ll help you review the documents and avoid any costly missteps that could occur if you try to handle them on your own.

5. A Trusted Advisor Is a Skilled Negotiator

In today’s market, buyers are also regaining some negotiation power as bidding wars ease. If you sell without a professional, you’ll also be responsible for any back-and-forth. That means you’ll have to coordinate with:

  • The buyer, who wants the best deal possible
  • The buyer’s agent, who will use their expertise to advocate for the buyer
  • The inspection company, which works for the buyer and will almost always find concerns with the house
  • The appraiser, who assesses the property’s value to protect the lender

Instead of going toe-to-toe with all the above parties alone, lean on an expert. They’ll know what levers to pull, how to address everyone’s concerns, and when you may want to get a second opinion.

Bottom Line

Don’t go at it alone. If you’re planning to sell your house this winter, let’s connect so you have an expert by your side to guide you in today’s market.

Mortgage Rates Are Dropping. What Does That Mean for You?

 

Mortgage Rates Are Dropping. What Does That Mean for You? | MyKCM
 

Mortgage rates have been a hot topic in the housing market over the past 12 months. Compared to the beginning of 2022, rates have risen dramatically. Now they’re dropping, and that has to do with everything happening in the economy.

Nadia Evangelou, Senior Economist and Director of Forecasting at the National Association of Realtors (NAR), explains it well by saying:

Mortgage rates dropped even further this week as two main factors affecting today's mortgage market became more favorable. Inflation continued to ease while the Federal Reserve switched to a smaller interest rate hike. As a result, according to Freddie Mac, the 30-year fixed mortgage rate fell to 6.31% from 6.33% the previous week.”

So, what does that mean for your homeownership plans? As mortgage rates fluctuate, they impact your purchasing power by influencing the cost of buying a home. Even a small dip can help boost your purchasing power. Here’s how it works.

The median-priced home according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR) is $379,100. So, let’s assume you want to buy a $400,000 home. If you’re trying to shop at that price point and keep your monthly payment about $2,500-2,600 or below, here’s how your purchasing power can change as mortgage rates move up or down (see chart below). The red shows payments above that threshold and the green indicates a payment within your target range.

Mortgage Rates Are Dropping. What Does That Mean for You? | MyKCM

This goes to show, even a small quarter-point change in mortgage rates can impact your monthly mortgage payment. That’s why it’s important to work with a trusted real estate professional who follows what the experts are projecting for mortgage rates for the days, months, and year ahead.

Bottom Line

Mortgage rates are likely to fluctuate depending on what happens with inflation moving forward, but they have dropped slightly in recent weeks. If a 7% rate was too high for you, it may be time to contact a lender to see if the current rate is more in line with your goal for a monthly housing expense.

You Have More Negotiation Power When You Buy a Home Today

You May Have More Negotiation Power When You Buy a Home Today | MyKCM
 

Did the frequency and intensity of bidding wars over the past two years make you put your home search on hold? If so, you should know the hyper competitive market has cooled this year as buyer demand has moderated and housing supply has grown. Those two factors combined mean you may see less competition from other buyers.

And with less competition comes more opportunity. Here are two trends that may be the news you need to reenter the market.

1. The Return of Contingencies

Over the last two years, more buyers were willing to skip important steps in the homebuying process, like the appraisal or the inspection, in hopes of gaining an advantage in a bidding war.  But now, things are different.

The latest data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows the percentage of buyers waiving their home inspection or appraisal is down. And a recent article from realtor.com points out more sellers are accepting contingencies:

“A year ago, sellers were calling all the shots and buyers were launching legendary bidding wars, waiving contingencies, and paying for homes in cash. But now, the shoe is on the other foot, and 92% of home sellers are accepting some buyer-friendly terms (frequently related to home inspections, financing, or appraisals), . . .”

This doesn’t mean we’re in a buyers’ market now, but it does mean you have a bit more leverage when it comes time to negotiate with a seller. The days of feeling like you may need to waive contingencies or pay drastically over asking price to get your offer considered may be coming to a close.

2. Sellers Are More Willing To Help with Closing Costs

Before the pandemic, it was a common negotiation tactic for sellers to cover some of the buyer’s closing costs to sweeten the deal. This didn’t happen as much during the peak buyer frenzy over the past two years.

Today, data suggests this is making a comeback. A realtor.com survey shows 32% of sellers paid some or all of their buyer’s closing costs. This may be a negotiation tool you’ll see as you go to purchase a home. Just keep in mind, limits on closing cost credits are set by your lender and can vary by state and loan type. Work closely with your loan advisor to understand how much a seller can contribute to closing costs in your area.

Another tool that lenders have been offering are rate buydowns. That means that you can significantly bring your payments down for anywhere from one to three years in exchange for a payment to that lender. And that could work as a closing credit from the seller! It's not a guartantee, but in a year or two or three, after the buydown ends, you may be able to refinance for a lower rate. Please get in touch with me for details!

Bottom Line

Despite the extremely competitive housing market of the past several years, today’s data suggests negotiations are starting to come back to the table. To find out how the market is shifting in our area, let’s connect today.

Home Ownership is an Investment in Your Future

 

Homeownership Is an Investment in Your Future | MyKCM
 

There are many people thinking about buying a home, but with everything affecting the economy, some are wondering if it’s a smart decision to buy now or if it makes more sense to wait it out. As Bob Broeksmit, President and CEO of the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), explains:

The desire for homeownership is strong. Many prospective buyers are waiting for the volatility in mortgage rates to subside, as well as for a clearer picture of the economic outlook.”

If you’re in that position, remember that it’s important to consider not just what’s happening today but also what benefits you may gain in the long run.

There’s a lot of information out there about how homeownership helps build a homeowner’s net worth over time. But even today, many people think first about things like 401(k)s before they think of owning a home as a wealth-building tool. It’s especially important if you’re a young prospective homebuyer to understand how homeownership is another key way to invest in your future. An article from Bloomberg notes:

“Millennials have higher average 401(k) balances than Generation X did when they were the same age, but they're not any better off financially. . . . A lot of that has to do with being less likely to own a home.”

To help you understand just how much owning a home can have a positive impact on your life over the years, take a look at what the data shows. The same Bloomberg article helps show the gap in wealth between renters and homeowners who are 65 years and older (see graph below). The difference is substantial, even when incomes are similar.

Homeownership Is an Investment in Your Future | MyKCM

So, if you want to create wealth to help set you up for success later on, it may be time to prioritize homeownership. That’s because, whether you decide to rent or buy a home, you’ll have a monthly housing expense either way. The question is: are you going to invest in yourself and your future, or will you help someone else (your landlord) increase their wealth?

Bottom Line

Before putting your homeownership plans on hold, let’s connect to go over your options. That way, you’ll have expert advice on how to make the best decision right now and the best investment in your future.

Why There Won't be a Flood of Foreclosures in Boston or Elsewhere

Why There Won’t Be a Flood of Foreclosures Coming to the Housing Market

Why There Wont Be a Flood of Foreclosures Coming to the Housing Market | MyKCM
 

Courtesy of Keeping Current Matters.

With the rapid shift that’s happened in the housing market this year, some people are raising concerns that we’re destined for a repeat of the crash we saw in 2008. But in truth, there are many key differences between what’s happening today and the bubble in the early 2000s.

One of the reasons this isn’t like the last time is the number of foreclosures in the market is much lower now. Here’s a look at why there won’t be a wave of foreclosures flooding the market.

Not as Many Homeowners Are in Trouble This Time

After the last housing crash, over nine million households lost their homes due to a foreclosure, short sale, or because they gave it back to the bank. This was, in large part, because of more relaxed lending standards where people could take out mortgages they ultimately couldn’t afford. Those lending practices led to a wave of distressed properties which made their way into the market and caused home values to plummet.

But today, revised lending standards have led to more qualified buyers. As a result, there are fewer homeowners who are behind on their mortgages. As Marina Walsh, Vice President of Industry Analysis at the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), says:

For the second quarter in a row, the mortgage delinquency rate fell to its lowest level since MBA’s survey began in 1979 – declining to 3.45%. Foreclosure starts and loans in the process of foreclosure also dropped in the third quarter to levels further below their historical averages.”

There Have Been Fewer Foreclosures over the Last Two Years

While you may have seen recent stories about the number of foreclosures rising today, context is important. During the pandemic, many homeowners were able to pause their mortgage payments using the forbearance program. The program gave homeowners facing difficulties extra time to get their finances in order and, in many cases, work out a plan with their lender.

With that program, many were concerned it would result in a wave of foreclosures coming to the market. That fear didn’t materialize. Data from the New York Fed shows there are still fewer foreclosures happening today than before the pandemic (see graph below):

Why There Wont Be a Flood of Foreclosures Coming to the Housing Market | MyKCM

That means, while there are more foreclosures now compared to last year (when foreclosures were paused), the number is still well below what the housing market has seen in a more typical year, like 2017-2019.

And most importantly, the number we’re seeing now is still far below the number we saw during the market crash (shown in the red bars in the graph). The big takeaway? Don’t let a headline in the news mislead you. While foreclosures are up year-over-year, historical context is essential to understanding the full picture.

Most Homeowners Have More Than Enough Equity To Sell Their Homes

Many homeowners today have enough equity to sell their homes instead of facing foreclosure. Due to rapidly rising home prices over the last two years, the average homeowner has gained record amounts of equity in their home. And if they’ve stayed in their homes even longer, they may have even more equity than they realize. As Ksenia Potapov, Economist at First Americansays:

Homeowners have very high levels of tappable home equity today, providing a cushion to withstand potential price declines, but also preventing housing distress from turning into a foreclosure. . . the result will likely be more of a foreclosure ‘trickle’ than a ‘tsunami.’”

A recent report from ATTOM Data explains it by going even deeper into the numbers:

“Only about 214,800 homeowners were facing possible foreclosure in the second quarter of 2022, or just four-tenths of one percent of the 58.2 million outstanding mortgages in the U.S. Of those facing foreclosure, about 195,400, or 91 percent, had at least some equity built up in their homes.”

Bottom Line

If you see headlines about the increasing number of foreclosures today, remember context is important. While it’s true the number of foreclosures is higher now than it was last year, foreclosures are still well below pre-pandemic years. If you have questions, let’s connect.

Top Questions About Selling Your Home This Winter

Top Questions About Selling Your Home This Winter | MyKCM
 

There’s no denying the housing market is undergoing a shift this season, and that may leave you with some questions about whether it still makes sense to sell your house. Here are three of the top questions you may be asking – and the data that helps answer them – so you can make a confident decision.

1. Should I Wait To Sell?

Even though the supply of homes for sale has increased in 2022, inventory is still low overall. That means it’s still a sellers’ market. The graph below helps put the inventory growth into perspective. Using data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), it shows just how far off we are from flipping to a buyers’ market:

Top Questions About Selling Your Home This Winter | MyKCM

While buyers have regained some negotiation power as inventory has grown, you haven’t missed your window to sell. Your house could still stand out since inventory is low, especially if you list now while other sellers hold off until after the holiday rush and the start of the new year.

2. Are Buyers Still Out There?

If you’re thinking of selling your house but are hesitant because you’re worried buyer demand has disappeared in the face of higher mortgage rates, know that isn’t the case for everyone. While demand has eased this year, millennials are still looking for homes. As an article in Forbes explains:

At about 80 million strong, millennials currently make up the largest share of homebuyers (43%) in the U.S., according to a recent National Association of Realtors (NAR) report. Simply due to their numbers and eagerness to become homeowners, this cohort is quite literally shaping the next frontier of the homebuying process. Once known as the ‘rent generation,’ millennials have proven to be savvy buyers who are quite nimble in their quest to own real estate. In fact, I don’t think it’s a stretch to say they are the key to the overall health and stability of the current housing industry.”

While the millennial generation has been dubbed the renter generation, that namesake may not be appropriate anymore. Millennials, the largest generation, are actually a significant driving force for buyer demand in the housing market today. If you’re wondering if buyers are still out there, know that there are still people who are searching for a home to buy today. And your house may be exactly what they’re looking for.

3. Can I Afford To Buy My Next Home?

If current market conditions have you worried about how you’ll afford your next move, consider this: you may have more equity in your current home than you realize.

Homeowners have gained significant equity over the past few years and that equity can make a big difference in the affordability equation, especially with mortgage rates higher now than they were last year. According to Mark Fleming, Chief Economist at First American:

“. . . homeowners, in aggregate, have historically high levels of home equity. For some of those equity-rich homeowners, that means moving and taking on a higher mortgage rate isn’t a huge deal—especially if they are moving to a more affordable city.” 

Bottom Line

If you’re thinking about selling your house this season, let’s connect so you have the expert insights you need to make the best possible move today.

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