3 Questions to Ask Before Buying a Home

3 Questions to Ask Before Buying a Home | Simplifying The Market

If you are thinking about purchasing a home right now, you are surely getting a lot of advice. Though your friends and family have your best interests at heart, they may not be fully aware of your needs and what is currently happening in real estate. Let’s look at whether or not now is actually a good time for you to buy a home.

There are three questions you should ask before purchasing in today’s market:

1. Why am I buying a home in the first place?

This truly is the most important question to answer. Forget the finances for a minute. Why did you even begin to consider purchasing a home? For most, the reason has nothing to do with finances. A study by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University reveals that the four major reasons people buy a home have nothing to do with money:

  • A good place to raise children and for them to get a good education
  • A place where you and your family feel safe
  • More space for you and your family
  • Control of the space

What non-financial benefits will you and your family derive from owning a home? The answer to that question should be the biggest reason you decide to purchase or not.

2. Where are home values headed?

When looking at future housing values, Home Price Expectation Survey provides a fair assessment. Every quarter, Pulsenomics surveys a nationwide panel of over one hundred economists, real estate experts and investment & market strategists about where prices are headed over the next five years. They then average the projections of all 100+ experts into a single number.

Here is what the experts projected in the latest survey:

  • Home values will appreciate by 4% in 2015.
  • The cumulative appreciation will be 23.5% by 2019.
  • Even the experts making up the most bearish quartile of the survey still are projecting a cumulative appreciation of over 15.1% by 2019.

3. Where are mortgage interest rates headed?

A buyer must be concerned about more than just prices. The ‘long term cost’ of a home can be dramatically impacted by an increase in mortgage rates.

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), the National Association of RealtorsFannie Mae and Freddie Mac have all projected that mortgage interest rates will increase by approximately one full percentage over the next twelve months.

Bottom Line

Only you and your family can know for certain the right time to purchase a home. Answering these questions will help you make that decision.

Did It Make Sense to Wait?

Did It Make Sense to Wait? | Simplifying The Market

There are many people out there who debated purchasing a home over the course of the last year, but ultimately did not. Whatever their reasons were for delaying, let’s look at whether the decision to wait to buy made sense.

What happened in 2014?

The 30 year fixed rate on January 2, 2014 was 4.53% as reported by Freddie Mac. Looking at the chart below, your monthly mortgage payment with principal and interest for a $250,000 home would have been $1,271.17.

Even though interest rates have dropped below 4% and ended 2014 at 3.87%, home prices appreciated by 4.8 percent over the same time according to the Home Price Expectation Survey.

So that same home appreciated by $12,000 and now costs $262,000. The most recent report by Freddie Mac reports the average 30-year fixed rate is currently 3.73%.

Did It Make Sense To Wait? | Simplifying The Market

Many may say, “See waiting a year made total sense, I’m saving $60 a month.” And they’d be right, over the course of the year they saved $729.36.

But what they haven’t realized, is that as the price of the home they purchased went up by $12,000, even if they just put a down payment of 5%, they had to come up with an additional $600 at the start of the process. So really they’ve only saved $129.36 in a year.

Is a savings of $11 a month really worth holding off on pursuing a home to call your own after you weigh all the benefits that come along with that?

  • Building equity you can borrow against in the future
  • Having a safe, comfortable environment that fits your family’s needs
  • Having control over your space
  • Tax benefits
  • And so many more…

Bottom Line

The experts are predicting that homes will appreciate by another 4% and interest rates will increase by a full percentage point by the end of 2015. If you are in a position to be able to buy a home now before these predictions become reality, contact a local real estate professional and start the process.

A Stunning $441 Billion Paid in Rent

A Stunning $441 Billion Paid in Rent | Simplifying The Market

A recently released study revealed that a whopping $441 Billion was spent on rents in the U.S. in 2014. This represents an increase of over $20 Billion from the year before. As shown on the chart below, rents have increased consistently over the last 20+ years.

Median Rents Since 1988 | Simplifying The Market

However, the recent increases have been astounding.

Why such a jump?

Many Millennials have postponed the purchase of their first home while waiting for the economy to recover. This has increased demand and dramatically lowered vacancy rates. In a recent article on the MarketWatch, economics reporter Ruth Mantell explains:

“Landlords have ramped up rents by the fastest pace in six years, with national vacancy rates the lowest in two decades.”

Zillow Chief Economist Stan Humphries let us know that increases will continue:

“Another increase in total rent paid similar to that seen this year isn’t out of the question. In fact, it’s probable.”

4 Reasons to Buy Before Spring

4 Reasons to Buy Before Spring | Simplifying The Market

The holiday season is behind us, time to focus on what exciting new experiences 2015 can bring! If you are planning on becoming a homeowner, or moving up to the home of your dreams in 2015, here are four great reasons to consider buying a home now, instead of waiting until spring.

1. Prices Will Continue to Rise

The Home Price Expectation Survey polls a distinguished panel of over 100 economists, investment strategists, and housing market analysts. Their most recent report projects appreciation in home values over the next five years to be between 15.1% (most pessimistic) and 32.8% (most optimistic).

The bottom in home prices has come and gone. Home values will continue to appreciate for years. Waiting no longer makes sense. 

2. Mortgage Interest Rates Are Projected to Increase

Although Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey shows that interest rates for a 30-year mortgage have softened recently, most experts predict that they will begin to rise over the next 12 months. The Mortgage Bankers Association, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac & the National Association of Realtors are in unison projecting that rates will be up almost a full percentage point by the end of 2015.

An increase in rates will impact YOUR monthly mortgage payment. Your housing expense will be more a year from now if a mortgage is necessary to purchase your next home.

3. Either Way You are Paying a Mortgage

As a paper from 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.”

4. It’s Time to Move On with Your Life

The ‘cost’ of a home is determined by two major components: the price of the home and the current mortgage rate. It appears that both are on the rise.

But, what if they weren’t? Would you wait?

Look at the actual reason you are buying and decide whether it is worth waiting. Whether you want to have a great place for your children to grow up, you want your family to be safer or you just want to have control over renovations, maybe it is time to buy.

If the right thing for you and your family is to purchase a home this year, buying sooner rather than later could lead to substantial savings.

The REAL Reasons Americans Buy a Home

The REAL Reasons Americans Buy a Home | Simplifying The Market

Last week, we reported on the financial reasons that the New York Times felt that homeownership was important. The Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University performs a study every year surveying participants for the reasons that American’s feel are most important in regards to homeownership.

There’s No Place Like Home

The top 4 reasons to own a home cited by respondents were not financial.

1. It means having a good place to raise children & provide them with a good education

From the best neighborhoods to the best school districts, even those without children at the time of purchasing their home, may have this in the back of their mind as a major reason for choosing the location of the home that they purchase.

2. You have a physical structure where you & your family feel safe

It is no surprise that having a place to call home with all that means in comfort and security is the #2 reason.

3. It allows you to have more space for your family

Whether your family is expanding, or an older family member is moving in, having a home that fits your needs is a close third on the list.

4. It gives you control over what you do with your living space, like renovations and updates

Looking to actually try one of those complicated wall treatments that you saw on Pinterest? Want to finally adopt that puppy or kitten you’ve seen online 100 times? Who’s to say that you can’t in your own home?

The 5th reason on the list, is the #1 financial reason to buy a home as seen by respondents:

5. Owning a home is a good way to build up wealth that can be passed along to my family

Either way you are paying a mortgage. Why not lock in your housing expense now with an investment that will build equity that you can borrow against in the future?

Bottom Line

Whether you are a first time homebuyer or a move-up buyer who wants to start a new chapter in their life, the holiday season is a great time to reflect on the intangible factors that make a house a home.

Do You Fit the Description of the Typical First Time Homebuyer?

Do You Fit the Description of the Typical First Time Homebuyer? | Simplifying The Market

There are many people sitting on the sidelines trying to decide if they should purchase a home or sign a rental lease. Some might wonder if it makes sense to purchase a house before they are married and have a family. Others may think they are too young. And still others might think their current income would never enable them to qualify for a mortgage.

We want to share what the typical first time homebuyer actually looks like based on the National Association of REALTORS most recent Profile of Home Buyers & Sellers. Here are some interesting revelations on the first time buyer:

First Time Homebuyers Profile | Simplifying The Market

Bottom Line

You may not be much different than many people who have already purchased their first home.

New York Times: Homeownership is Best Way To Build Wealth

New York Times: Homeownership is Best Way To Build Wealth | Simplifying The Market

The New York Times recently published an editorial entitled, Homeownership and Wealth Creation.” The housing market has made a strong recovery, not only in sales and prices, but also in the confidence of consumers and experts as an investment.

The article explains:

“Homeownership long has been central to Americans’ ability to amass wealth; even with the substantial decline in wealth after the housing bust, the net worth of homeowners over time has significantly outpaced that of renters, who tend as a group to accumulate little if any wealth.”

Many of the points that were made in the article are on track with the research that the Federal Reserve has also conducted in their Survey of Consumer Finances.

The study found that the average net worth of a homeowner ($194,500) is 36x greater than that of a renter ($5,400).

One reason for this large discrepancy in net worth is the concept of ‘forced savings’ created by having a mortgage payment and was explained by the Times:

“Homeownership requires potential buyers to save for a down payment, and forces them to continue to save by paying down a portion of the mortgage principal each month.”

“Even in instances where renters have excess cash, saving a substantial amount is difficult without a near-term goal, like a down payment. It is also difficult to systematically invest each month in stocks, bonds or other assets without being compelled to do so.”

Bottom Line

“As a means to building wealth, there is no practical substitute for homeownership.” If you are a renter who is considering making a purchase, sit with a local real estate professional who can explain the benefits of signing a contract to purchase over renewing your lease!

Home Prices Continue to Rise

Home Prices Continue to Rise | Simplifying The Market

“Broad-based Slowdown for Home Prices”

That is a headline you might have seen over the past weekend. And though it is true, we must understand the story behind the headline. Case Shiller reports on the year-over-year difference in home values. Their latest report revealed that the rate of appreciation has slowed – not that prices are falling!! Here is exactly what they said:

“The 20-City Composite gained 4.9% year-over-year, compared to 5.6% in August.”

Prices are still up this month over last year’s values (4.9%) just not as much as they were last month (5.6%).

Home Prices are NOT Falling.

As a matter of fact, the latest Home Price Expectation Survey by Pulsenomics (a survey of a nationwide panel of over one hundred economists, real estate experts and investment & market strategists) showed that home prices will continue to appreciate for the next several years.

Home Price Expectation Survey Projected Prices | Simplifying The Market

Bottom Line

Both first time buyers and families thinking of moving-up to their dream home can be assured that their investment in their new home makes sense.