Welcome to my new blog. I always wanted to have a professional looking blog, and have given this a lot of thought. The template is called the “Hemingway Rewritten”, and I figured I always wanted to write and have lots of characteristics of this great American writer like a round belly and white beard. But seriously, the header photo has a beautiful country image, a site that I enjoy seeing now living in Virginia. But my roots are from Brooklyn, New York, and grew up in a land of concrete front lawns and the smell of asphalt on a hot summer morning. And on that hot summer day, you cooled down by not going to a beach a few minutes from your house (I am right by Buckroe Beach), but by opening up a fire hydrant, (aka Johnny pump) and using a seared open tin soda can to jettison the water on your friends and oncoming cars.
I will always love Brooklyn, and do miss it (I spent 49 years there), but Hampton is now my home. I’ve grown accustomed to say hello to strangers I pass on the street, enjoy having the beach 3 minutes away, enjoy a bit slower pace (but really not that much slower) and love not having to spend 45 minutes looking for a parking space.
After teaching for over 21 years in Brooklyn, my main profession now is Real Estate, (however, I was also a Real Estate Agent there as well) and my blog will be focused mostly on those matters. Sure I will talk about new listings, mortgage rates and new construction. But real estate is much more than that. It is about what concerts, shows, and exhibits that are happening in the area as well as sporting events. It is about new stores and restaurants and the local economy. And that is what I am going to accomplish in my new blog.
But those who know me as friends, clients, students and social media friends, you know that I love comedy as well, so you will see some funny posts as well.
On my sidebar, I have listed centers of music, arts, plays, performers, etc. The list will increase as I add more to my blog. For me, the area to which you reside has to be fun, and entertaining. I hope you agree.
If spending more time at home over the past year is making you really think hard about buying a home instead of renting one, you’re not alone. You may be wondering, however, if the dollars and cents add up in your favor as home prices continue to rise. According to the experts, in many cases, it’s still more affordable to buy a home than rent one. Here’s why.
“Owning a median-priced three-bedroom home is more affordable than renting a three-bedroom property in 572, or 63 percent of the 915 U.S. counties analyzed for the report.
That has happened even though median home prices have increased more than average rents over the past year in 83 percent of those counties and have risen more than wages in almost two-thirds of the nation.”
How is this possible?
The answer: historically low mortgage interest rates. Todd Teta, Chief Product Officer with ATTOM Data Solutions, explains:
“Home-prices are rising faster than rents and wages in a majority of the country. Yet, home ownership is still more affordable, as amazingly low mortgage rates that dropped below 3 percent are helping to keep the cost of rising home prices in check.”
In 2020, mortgage rates reached all-time lows 16 times, and so far, they’re continuing to hover in low territory this year. These low rates are a big factor in driving affordability. Teta also notes:
“It’s startling to see that kind of trend. But it shows how both the cost of renting has been relatively high compared to the cost of ownership and how declining interest rates are having a notable impact on the housing market and home ownership. The coming year is totally uncertain, amid so many questions connected to the Coronavirus pandemic and the broader economy. But right now, owning a home still appears to be a financially-sound choice for those who can afford it.”
If you’re considering buying a home this year, let’s connect today to discuss the options that match your budget while affordability is in your favor.
Historically low mortgage rates are a big motivator for homebuyers right now. In 2020 alone, rates hit new record-lows 16 times, and the trend continued into the early part of this year. Many hopeful homebuyers are now wondering if they should put their plans on hold and wait for the lowest rates imaginable. However, the reality is, acting sooner rather than later may be the actual win if you’re ready to buy a home.
According to Greg McBride, Chief Financial Analyst for Bankrate:
“As vaccines become more widely available and a return to normal starts to come into view, we’ll see mortgage rates bounce off the record lows.”
While only a slight increase in mortgage rates is projected for 2021, some experts believe they will start to rise. Over the past week, for example, the average mortgage rate ticked up slightly, reaching 2.79%. This is still incredibly low compared to the trends we’ve seen over time. According to Freddie Mac:
“Borrowers are smart to take advantage of these low rates now and will certainly benefit as a result.”
As mortgage rates rise, the increase impacts the overall cost of purchasing a home. The higher the rate, the higher your monthly mortgage payment, especially as home prices rise too. Sam Khater, Chief Economist at Freddie Mac, says:
“The forces behind the drop in rates have been shifting over the last few months and rates are poised to rise modestly this year. The combination of rising mortgage rates and increasing home prices will accelerate the decline in affordability and further squeeze potential homebuyers during the spring home sales season.”
What does this mean for buyers?
Right now, the inventory of houses for sale is also at a historic low, making it more challenging than normal to find a home to buy in many areas. As more buyers hit the market in the typically busy spring buying season, it may become even harder to find a home in the coming months. With this in mind, Len Keifer, Deputy Chief Economist for Freddie Mac, recommends taking advantage of both low mortgage rates and the opportunity to buy:
“If you’ve found a home that fits your needs at a price you can afford, it might be better to act now rather than wait for future rate declines that may never come and a future that likely holds very tight inventory.”
While today’s low mortgage rates provide great opportunities for homebuyers, we may not see them stick around forever. If you’re ready to buy a home, let’s connect so you can take advantage of what today’s market has to offer.
In 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr. inspired a powerful movement with his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. Through his passion and determination, he sparked interest, ambition, and courage in his audience. Today, reflecting on his message encourages many of us to think about our own dreams, goals, beliefs, and aspirations. For many Americans, one of those common goals is owning a home: a piece of land, a roof over our heads, and a place where we can grow and flourish.
If you’re dreaming of buying a home this year, start by connecting with a local real estate professional to understand what goes into the process. With a trusted advisor at your side, you can then begin to answer the questions below to set yourself up for homebuying success.
1. How Can I Better Understand the Process, and How Much Can I Afford?
The process of buying a home is not one to enter into lightly. You need to decide on key things like how long you plan on living in an area, school districts you prefer, what kind of commute works for you, and how much you can afford to spend.
Keep in mind, before you start the process to purchase a home, you’ll also need to apply for a mortgage. Lenders will evaluate several factors connected to your financial track record, one of which is your credit history. They’ll want to see how well you’ve been able to minimize past debts, so make sure you’ve been paying your student loans, credit cards, and car loans on time. If your financial situation has changed recently, be sure to discuss that with your lender as well. Most agents have loan officers they trust and will provide referrals for you.
“Financial planners recommend limiting the amount you spend on housing to 25 percent of your monthly budget.”
2. How Much Do I Need for a Down Payment?
In addition to knowing how much you can afford on a monthly mortgage payment, understanding how much you’ll need for a down payment is another critical step. Thankfully, there are many different options and resources in the market to potentially reduce the amount you may think you need to put down.
If you’re concerned about saving for a down payment, start small and be consistent. A little bit each month goes a long way. Jumpstart your savings by automatically adding a portion of your monthly paycheck into a separate savings account or house fund. AmericaSaves.orgsays:
“Over time, these automatic deposits add up. For example, $50 a month accumulates to $600 a year and $3,000 after five years, plus interest that has compounded.”
Before you know it, you’ll have enough for a down payment if you’re disciplined and thoughtful about your process.
3. Saving Takes Time: Practice Living on a Budget
As tempting as it is to pass the extra time you may be spending at home these days with a little retail therapy, putting that extra money toward your down payment will help accelerate your path to homeownership. It’s the little things that count, so start trying to live on a slightly tighter budget if you aren’t doing so already. A budget will allow you to save more for your down payment and help you pay down other debts to improve your credit score.
A survey of millennial spending shows, “68% reported that shelter in place orders helped them save for their down payment.” Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at realtor.com, also notes:
“If there is any silver lining to the current economic landscape, it’s that mortgage rates are hanging around record lows…Additionally, shelter-in-place orders helped many who were fortunate enough to keep their jobs save for a down payment — one of the largest hurdles of buying a home. The combination of low rates and the opportunity to save is enabling many millennials to move up their home buying timeline.”
While you don’t need to cut all of the extras out of your current lifestyle, making smarter choices and limiting your spending in areas where you can slim down will make a big difference.
If homeownership is on your dream list this year, take a good look at what you can prioritize to help you get there. To determine the steps you should take to start the process, let’s connect today.
The housing market made an incredible recovery in 2020 and is now positioned for an even stronger year in 2021. Record-low mortgage interest rates are a driving factor in this continued momentum, with average rates hovering at historic all-time lows.
According to the latest Realtors Confidence Index Survey from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), buyer demand across the country is incredibly strong. That’s not the case, however, on the supply side. Seller traffic is simply not keeping up. Here’s a breakdown by state:As the maps show, buyer traffic is high, but seller traffic is low. With so few homes for sale right now, record-low inventory is creating a mismatch between supply and demand.
NAR also just reported that the actual number of homes currently for sale stands at 1.28 million, down 22% from one year ago (1.64 million). Additionally, inventory is at an all-time low with 2.3 months supply available at the current sales pace. In a normal market, that number would be 6.0 months of inventory – significantly higher than it is today.
What does this mean for buyers and sellers?
Buyers need to remain patient in the search process. At the same time, they must be ready to act immediately once they find the right home since bidding wars are more common when so few houses are available for sale.
Sellers may not want to wait until spring to put their houses on the market, though. With such high buyerdemand and such a low supply, now is the perfect time to sell a house on optimal terms.
The real estate market is entering the year like a lion. There’s no indication it will lose that roar, assuming inventory continues to come to market.
At the onset of the economic disruptions caused by the COVID pandemic, the government quickly put into place forbearance plans to allow homeowners to remain in their homes without making their monthly mortgage payments. Today, almost three million households are actively in a forbearance plan. Though 29.4% of those in forbearance have continued to stay current on their payments, many have not.
Yanling Mayer, Principal Economist at CoreLogic, recently revealed:
“A distributional analysis of forborne loans’ payment status reveals that more than one third (39.1%) of all forborne loans are now 150+ days behind payment, while as many as 1-in-4 (25.5%) are 180+ days past due.”
These homeowners have been given permission to not make their payments, but the question now is: how many of them will be able to catch up after their forbearance program ends? There’s speculation that a forthcoming wave of foreclosures could be the result, and that could lead to another crash in home values like we saw a decade ago.
However, today’s situation is different than the 2006-2008 housing crisis as many homeowners have tremendous amounts of equity in their homes.
What are the experts saying?
Over the last 30 days, several industry experts have weighed in on this subject.
“We may very well see a meaningful increase in the number of homes listed for sale as these borrowers choose to sell at what is arguably an intermediate top in the market and downsize to more affordable homes rather than face foreclosure.”
“The foreclosure process is based on two steps. First, the homeowner suffers an adverse economic shock…leading to the homeowner becoming delinquent on their mortgage. However, delinquency by itself is not enough to send a mortgage into foreclosure. With enough equity, a homeowner has the option of selling their home, or tapping into their equity through a refinance, to help weather the economic shock. It is a lack of sufficient equity, the second component of the dual trigger, that causes a serious delinquency to become a foreclosure.”
“With a greater cushion of equity, troubled homeowners have dramatically improved options: a greater ability to access funding (e.g. home equity lines) to keep paying monthly expenses until family finances might recover, improved ability to qualify for and support a loan modification, and, if push comes to shove, the ability to sell the home and monetize their increased net worth while reducing monthly payment obligations. So, what should lenders and servicers expect: a large number of foreclosures or only a modest increase? I believe the latter.”
With today’s positive equity situation, many homeowners will be able to use a loan modification or refinance to stay in their homes. If not, some will go to foreclosure, but most will be able to sell and walk away with their equity.
Won’t the additional homes on the market impact prices?
Distressed properties (foreclosures and short sales) sell at a significant discount. If homeowners sell instead of going into foreclosure, the impact on the housing market will be much less severe.
We must also realize there is currently an unprecedented lack of inventory on the market. Just last week, realtor.comexplained:
“Nationally, the number of homes for sale was down 39.6%, amounting to 449,000 fewer homes for sale than last December.”
It’s important to remember that there weren’t enough homes for sale even then, and inventory has only continued to decline.
The market has the potential to absorb half a million homes this year without it causing home values to depreciate.
The pandemic has led to both personal and economic hardships for many American households. The overall residential real estate market, however, has weathered the storm and will continue to do so in 2021.
According to many experts, the real estate market is expected to continue growing in 2021, and it’s largely driven by the lasting impact the pandemic is having on our lifestyles. As many of us spend extra time at home, we’re reevaluating what “home” means and what we may need in one going forward.
Here are 4 reasons people are reconsidering where they live and why they’re expecting to buy a home this year.
1. Record-Low Mortgage Interest Rates
In 2020, the average interest rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage hit a record low 16 times, continuing to fall further below 3%. According to Freddie Mac, the average 30-year fixed interest rate today is 2.65%. Many wonder how low these rates will go and how long they’ll last. Len Keifer, Deputy Chief Economist for Freddie Mac, advises:
“If you’ve found a home that fits your needs at a price you can afford, it might be better to act now rather than wait for future rate declines that may never come and a future that likely holds very tight inventory.”
This sense of urgency is driving many to buy this year.
2. Working from Home
Remote work is a new normal for many businesses, and it’s lasting longer than most expected. Many in the workforce today are discovering they don’t need to live close to the office anymore and they can get more for their money by moving a little further outside of the city limits. David Mele, President at Homes.com, says:
“The surge in the work-from-home population has rewritten the playbook for many homebuying and rental decisions, from when and where to relocate, to what people are looking for in their next residence.”
The reality is, for some people, working remotely in their current home is challenging, especially when there may be other options available.
3. More Outdoor Space
Another new priority for homeowners is having more usable outdoor space. Being at home is driving those in some areas to seek less densely populated neighborhoods so they have more room to stretch their legs. In addition, those living in apartments and townhomes are often looking for extra square footage, both inside and out.
According to the State of Home Spending report by HomeAdvisor, of the households surveyed, almost half reported spending 27% more on outdoor living over the past year. This is a trend that’s expected to grow in 2021 and beyond.
4. Avoiding Renovations
It’s recently come to light that many homeowners would also rather buy a new home than go through the process of fixing up the one they have. According to the 2020 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), 44% of homebuyers purchased a new home to “avoid renovations or problems with the plumbing or electricity.”
Depending on what needs to be addressed, today’s high buyer demand may make it possible to skip some renovations before selling. Many of these homeowners have prioritized buying over renovating for convenience and potential cost savings.
It’s clear that homeownership needs are changing. As a result, Americans are expected to move in record numbers this year. If you’re trying to decide if now is the right time to buy a home, let’s connect today to discuss your options.
From transformation to restoration – Article from Housing Wire January 6, 2021, 11:09 am By Kevin McmahonShare O
2020 has certainly been a year to remember. While we may be ready to firmly plant our feet in 2021, we shouldn’t leave the past 12 months behind without taking a critical look at how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the housing market, and how it will pave the way for 2021 and beyond. Before we repress these 2020 memories, let’s dive into how this pandemic has created housing disruption in a number of areas of the industry, providing us all a nudge toward trying new processes and technologies that we maybe have assumed were still a few years away.
Let’s start with a look at originations and delinquencies. We’ve all thrown out our 2020 housing market forecasts at this point as the origination market has screamed to all-time records. According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, mortgage origination volume is expected to reach $3.1 trillion, with the largest refinance market since 2003 and the largest home purchase loan market since 2005 and 2006. Then of course, we have the pandemic, which thrust us into an unexpected level of unemployment thereby increasing delinquencies. As unemployment increases and incomes decline, borrowers refrain from buying homes and the rate of requests for forbearance or some type of homeowner assistance increases, naturally. It’s at that moment that the mortgage industry changes course from focusing primarily on helping borrowers purchase homes to helping them keep their homes.
This is not what we’ve seen throughout 2020, though. As an industry, it’s been a challenge to wrap our arms around this unprecedented market and the disruption that accompanies it. Unlike every cycle before it, 2020 brought originations at record high levels at one end of the spectrum and delinquencies at the other end of the spectrum that also are reaching heights we haven’t seen since the crisis. According to Black Knight, the highest government sponsored enterprise forbearance rate was reported on May 29th as 7.2% compared to 4% in the first week of October. Generally, forbearance has been trending downward since the end of May. So, on one end are employed borrowers who are able and happy to take advantage of the low interest rates to purchase a home or refinance an existing mortgage. On the opposite end, there are unemployed borrowers who now have easy access to homeowner assistance programs that can aid them in keeping their homes, including payment deferral and forbearance.
What does it mean for the 2021 housing market?
With all that said, we’re all left wondering where we go from here. How much of 2021 will be a continuation of 2020? Is pandemic life the new normal, or is there a way back to life as we knew it in 2019? We talk a lot at Genworth about our belief statements. We force ourselves, no matter the level of uncertainty, to establish our point of view, assign probabilities to that point of view and then set strategy from there. There are many different paths we can take as an industry, but one belief statement that is increasingly shared across mortgage finance: The forced increased use and implementation of technology to reduce process friction is finally here to stay and will only accelerate.
Just one example is the disruption in the appraisal world. For months now, desktop and drive-by appraisals have been the go-to processes for appraising homes and enabled the mortgage lending process to continue. According to Genworth Mortgage Insurance Chief Appraiser Adam Johnston, the use of desktop and drive-by appraisals have been a necessary adaptation to concerns about the spread of COVID-19, and may continue to be used as standard practice or as a go-to solution should we find ourselves in another situation, similar to COVID-19. While these more virtual and low-to-no contact forms of appraisals are being utilized with increased frequency, they do present a few challenges that must be taken into consideration, one of them being borrower-supplied photo fraud. This type of fraud can take place when the photographs of the home’s interior condition, quality and features are not from the borrower’s actual interior. When confronted with this situation, appraisers can utilize a third-party photo capture tool that has strong fraud controls and capabilities built within, including location validation, photo date and time, internet photo detection and notification controls to alert the appraiser of photographs with suspicious characteristics.
Technology has also supported a shift in industry roles. We notice that originators are increasingly continuing to morph into loan counselors rather than paper shufflers. Prior to the pandemic, one in four applications were taken in person or over the phone, and that number has quickly moved to one in seven. The introduction of easy-to-use point-of-sales systems has eased that transition. Processors are becoming loan facilitators guiding the borrower through the process rather than exercising their stare and compare expertise for document-based data entry; and underwriter shortages are driving the use of technology to stratify which loans need what level of review, thereby improving the use of high cost resources. Every step of the process is moving at a much quicker pace thanks to 2020’s housing disruption. In 2021, we expect to see this trend continue as dead time is removed and the elapsed time from application to close shrinks.
2020 has also been another proving ground where the housing market shows that unprecedented challenges call for unprecedented solutions. We’ve seen its importance before, when during the 2008 financial crisis, new policies and services and enhancements to existing policies were created. Those policies and services include automated income and employment verification, credit risk transfers from the GSEs to private investors and the Private Mortgage Insurer Eligibility Requirements that strengthened the mortgage insurance industry’s risk and capital standards. Housing disruption naturally and inevitably clears a path to innovation.
In 2020, we were forced to use digital tools such as remote online notary and in-person electronic notary for closing. Next year, it’ll be imperative to work with state legislatures to complete the regulatory work so these tools can be used in all 50 states, compared to where we are now which is right around 50%.
Digital home shopping has also taken off. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, shopping for a home online has increased and naturally spurred improvements in the digital tools that give borrowers the same experience without stepping foot inside the home. As shared at a recent Blend conference, 45% of homes in these past several pandemic months were sold without the buyer physically visiting the property.
Also, other tools are evolving where a homebuyer may enter a home without a real estate agent or owner present, and tour the home with a virtual guide that points out key characteristics of interest to the potential buyer. Artificial intelligence helps facilitate this process. When it comes to data management, moving AI into that process will help determine when a loan has complete data and is ready for underwriting more quickly; and as it relates to document management, the processor wouldn’t be the one figuring out what’s missing, but the system would and then alert the borrower of the need via a point-of-sale system.
As we move into 2021, there’s still quite a bit of uncertainty about the COVID-19 pandemic and what the lasting effects on the economy and the housing market will be. However, I believe this year is that nudge of housing disruption the industry needed to push forward with innovations that lived on whiteboards for years. Successful organizations going forward will be the ones who embrace and leverage these changes to run better businesses in 2021 and beyond.
To read the full December/January issue of HousingWire Magazine, click here.
According to the latest CoreLogicHome Price Insights Report, nationwide home values increased by 8.2% over the last twelve months. The dramatic rise was brought about as the inventory of homes for sale reached historic lows at the same time buyer demand was buoyed by record-low mortgage rates. As CoreLogicexplained:
“Home price growth remained consistently elevated throughout 2020. Home sales for the year are expected to register above 2019 levels. Meanwhile, the availability of for-sale homes has dwindled as demand increased and coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreaks continued across the country, which delayed some sellers from putting their homes on the market.
While the pandemic left many in positions of financial insecurity, those who maintained employment and income stability are also incentivized to buy given the record-low mortgage rates available; this is increasing buyer demand while for-sale inventory is in short supply.”
Where will home values go in 2021?
Home price appreciation in 2021 will continue to be determined by this imbalance of supply and demand. If supply remains low and demand is high, prices will continue to increase.
According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the current number of single-family homes for sale is 1,080,000. At the same time last year, that number stood at 1,450,000. We are entering 2021 with approximately 270,000 fewer homes for sale than there were one year ago.
However, there is some speculation that the inventory crush will ease somewhat as we move through the new year for two reasons:
1. As the health crisis eases, more homeowners will be comfortable putting their houses on the market.
2. Some households impacted financially by the pandemic will be forced to sell.
Low mortgage rates have driven buyer demand over the last twelve months. According to Freddie Mac, rates stood at 3.72% at the beginning of 2020. Today, we’re starting 2021 with rates one full percentage pointlower than that. Low rates create a great opportunity for homebuyers, which is one reason why demand is expected to remain high throughout the new year.
Taking into consideration these projections on housing supply and demand, real estate analysts forecast homes will continue to appreciate in 2021, but that appreciation may be at a steadier pace than last year. Here are their forecasts:
There’s still a very limited number of homes for sale for the great number of purchasers looking to buy them. As a result, the concept of “supply and demand” mandates that home values in the country will continue to appreciate.