Posts Tagged ‘Market Trends’

4 Surprising Things That Might Increase Your Home’s Value

May 29, 2020

4 Surprising Things That Might Increase Your Home's ValueYou’ve probably heard that living near excellent schools or having curb appeal can boost the value of your home. However, a home’s value is dependent upon a lot of different factors. Some of these things are more obvious than others. Things that might seem insignificant can have an impact on your home’s worth. Here are some surprising things that can affect the existing value of your home or how much a buyer is willing to pay for it.

#1 A Blue Kitchen or Bathroom

Painting your home is an easy and cost-effective way to update your home. Just make sure that you select the right colors. Based on recent research, walls that are painted cool neutral colors like blue are more likely to appeal to buyers. According to a 2017 study by Zillow, homes with blue bathrooms sell for an average of $5,500 more than expected. Houses that had blue kitchens sold for $1,809 more compared to similar homes that had a white kitchen.

#2 How Close You Are To A Supermarket

Being next to a well-known supermarket can increase the value of your home. If the supermarket is considered upmarket, then the increase in value is even higher. According to “Zillow Talk, The New Rules of Real Estate,”  homes that are near a Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods grocery store appreciate up to 40 percent faster than other homes. The presence of a popular store like Trader Joe’s has a positive effect on market values over time.

#3 A Joanna Gaines’ Aesthetic

Joanna Gaines’s urban farmhouse aesthetic is more than just chic; it can have a surprisingly positive effect on the value of your home. According to a Zillow analysis of home sale descriptions from 2016, houses that had the keywords “farmhouse sink” and “barn door” sold quicker and at a premium compared to similar homes. Listings that had the words “barn door” sold 57 days quicker and for 13.4 percent more than similar homes. For sale listings that included a “farmhouse sink” sold for 8 percent more. So, if you plan to make interior updates in your home, you might want to watch a couple of episodes of “Fixer Upper” for inspiration.

#4 Your Proximity to Starbucks

Do you live within a quarter of a mile from a Starbucks? If so, then you are in luck? A study released by Zillow in 2015 found that homes that were within a quarter of a mile from the Seattle-based coffeehouse increased by 96 percent on average from 1997 to 2014. This number is well above the average of 65 percent of all U.S. homes.

Whether you are in the process of buying a new home or updating your existing home, think about the above factors as they may play a role in the value of your home.

What Is Pooled-Funds Investing?

May 7, 2020

What Is Pooled-Funds InvestingUnder the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act, which was signed into law by President Obama on April 5, 2012, the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) relaxed the rules about advertising investments. This allowed the trend of crowdfunding to expand dramatically giving real estate investors more opportunities for pooled-funds investing.

What Is Polled-Funds Investing?

A pooled investment fund takes in money from a group of investors to use to acquire real estate for larger amounts than each investor’s money would support. Prior to the passage of the JOBS Act, these pooled investment funds were only accessible by large investors through private placements and private real estate investment trusts (REITs). The minimum investment might be up to $250,000 or more. High-net-worth individual investors and institutions were the only investors capable of the buy-in to gain access to these investments, which usually offered better and more stable returns.

After the JOBS Act came into being, the advertising of these pooled investment funds was possible under the new law. The phenomena of crowdfunding came out of this. Money from many investors creates a larger investment fund managed by a professional team, intending to obtain strong performance results.

Better Investment Opportunities For The Smaller Investor

These new investment opportunities allow the smaller investor to participate in a greater diversity of real estate than they could achieve on their own. Moreover, an investor can create a pooled fund to acquire a property with the help of other investors. To use this technique to buy real estate, it is helpful to work with a qualified real estate agent or broker who understands this concept of pooled investment funds.

Due Diligence Required

Not all investment pools succeed in producing decent returns for investors. The SEC is no longer regulating these polled investments carefully. This means that the challenge of due diligence falls on the individual investor. Before investing, it pays to conduct exhaustive research about the pooled investment fund, the cost of the fund management fees, the expertise of the fund’s management, and their past investment-performance history. Always remember past results are no guarantee of future performance and never invest any funds that you cannot afford to lose.

Summary

The relaxing of SEC regulations in 2012 allowed many opportunities for pooled investments to flourish. While there is the possibility of strong returns on investment, there is also some risk. Investors considering a pooled investment fund, such as a crowdfunding deal, should conduct thorough due diligence and get advice from a qualified REALTORS® in the market where the property will be located before making any investment.

What Is House Hacking?

May 1, 2020

What Is House HackingSome clever millennials are teaching the older boomers a new way to invest in real estate, which goes by the name of “house hacking.”

What Is House Hacking?

House hacking has nothing to do with computers, although you may go on the Internet to find candidates for real estate investments suitable for hacking. The goal of house hacking is to acquire a multifamily rental property, live in one part of it and rent out the other parts for enough rental income to cover most, if not all, of the expenses of owning the property.

Live Rent-Free

As the on-site manager of a property that you own, you do not have to pay any rent. If you are clever, and the rental market is robust in the area that you choose for house hacking, then the rental income from the other units in the multifamily property will be sufficient to cover the property’s expenses. Then, you live rent-free.

Finding A Hackable Property

Multifamily properties, up to four units, are the best candidates for house hacking. A two-story townhouse that divides into two separate living spaces, a duplex, a triplex, or a small apartment building may be suitable.

Cash Flow

Calculate the cash flow from the portions of the property that rent to others. If the rent covers all the expenses then the property is said to have a positive cash flow. That is the goal. Have some funds set aside to cover any downtime when a unit is vacant between renters.

Financing

Owner-occupied properties qualify for lower financing rates than non-owner-occupied properties, which are held purely for investment.

Landlord Headaches

As the owner/landlord you will deal directly with any tenant relations and problems. If a pipe breaks in the middle of the night, you are the one who will have to deal with the problem. Be sure to screen tenants thoroughly and maintain the property. Some do not like dealing with tenants; however, if you are careful when selecting tenants and handle any problems professionally, this work provides an excellent experience for understanding further real estate investments to build up your portfolio.

Summary

House hacking came about especially for those from the younger generation of millennials simply because buying a property is very challenging on one income and even difficult on two incomes. If you consider the payment of rent by others as part of the total income that supports a property, the math may work out better. When the numbers work out, you may have found an investment opportunity with house hacking. Work with qualified real estate agents and mortgage professionals who specialize in multifamily properties for the best results.

Case-Shiller: February Home Prices Gained Before Coronavirus Outbreak

April 30, 2020

Case-Shiller February Home Prices Gained Before Coronavirus OutbreakHome prices continued to grow in February according to the Case-Shiller Home Price Indices. National home prices grew at a seasonally-adjusted annual pace of 4.20 percent as compared to national home price growth of 3.90 percent in January. Case-Shiller’s 20-City Home Price Index showed higher home price growth rates in February with average annual home price growth of 3.50 percent. January home prices grew by 3.10 percent for cities included in the 20-City Index.

The lowest year-over-year home price growth rates were posted by Chicago, Illinois with 0.70 percent; New York City posted 1.50 percent growth, and Dallas, Texas with 2.50 percent home price growth.

Phoenix, Arizona home prices grew by a seasonally-adjusted annual rate e of 7.50 percent; Seattle, Washington home prices grew by 6.00 percent year-over-year. Tampa, Florida’s home price growth was tied with Charlotte, North Carolina’s home price growth rate of 5.20 percent. Analysts said that long-standing market conditions of high buyer demand, low inventories of available homes, and mortgage rates near record lows contributed to February’s home price growth.

Gains Across 20 City Composite

Craig Lazzara, managing director and global head of index investment strategy at S&P Dow Jones Indices, said February results “were broad-based with gains in every city in our 20-City Composite; 17 of 20 cities saw accelerating prices.”

February readings were based on home sales completed before the Coronavirus impacted the U.S. economy and government restrictions on all but essential activities reduced buyer traffic and slowed home sales. Areas supported by tourism and recreation were expected to see sharp declines in home prices and sales.

Fed Promises to Use All Remedies as Coronavirus Crisis Grows

The Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee said it would use all available tools to steady economic conditions destabilized by the Coronavirus pandemic. The FOMC said in its post-meeting statement that “The ongoing public health crisis will weigh heavily on economic activity, employment, and inflation in the near term, and poses considerable risks to the economic outlook in the medium term.”

Committee members did not change the current federal interest rate range of 0.00 to 0.25 percent and pledged to hold the Fed rate steady until the economy has weathered the public health crisis and was on track to achieve the Fed’s dual mandate of full employment and price stability.

 

The ‘Golden Girls’ Strategy? Elderly Adults Share Home Ownership

April 28, 2020

The 'Golden Girls' Strategy Elderly Adults Share Home OwnershipThe “Golden Girls” trend got its name from the popular television sitcom about four elderly women who live together to share expenses. It is becoming a popular way in real life for elderly adults to share homeownership and it has many benefits.

The cost of assisted living is quite high. The median cost in the United States for assisted living is $4,051 per month. In many parts of America, that amount makes a substantial mortgage payment. Rather than pay that high price to live in an adult assisted-living community, many able-bodied elderly are choosing to pool their resources and live together in a large home that they own together.

Buying A Home To Share

The homes that work well for this are those that have many bedrooms, each with a private bath, and are on one-level. Three- or four-bedroom homes are ideal because the cost of the home and the operating expenses can be shared among three or four elderly adults to reduce each person’s cost compared to what they would spend if they were alone.

It Is Fun To Share

The communal areas for a shared-living arrangement are the main living room, dining area, and kitchen. Many find that by sharing the cost of a home, among like-minded peers, that the quality of life is very nice. The pooling of resources usually creates enough money to pay for the expenses and to pay for in-home personal assistance as needed. Most importantly, loneliness is reduced, which sometimes leads to serious depression in the elderly who live alone.

Many baby boomers are now entering retirement. Estimates are that seven out of 10 will need some form of assisted living care. Females still live longer than men on average, so that is why this trend is more about elderly women living together than men. However, the concept works just as well for both sexes.

Multigenerational living is also becoming popular for the same reasons. It costs so much to own and maintain a home that it is not as easily accomplished by households with one or two workers who contribute to pay for the expenses. Most situations benefit from having a third or a fourth contributor, which reduces the average contribution for all.

Get Competent Legal Advice

When considering any shared ownership of a home, it is very important to use the services of a competent legal counsel to draw up the ownership agreement. Shared homeownership is a type of partnership and benefits from having a “buy-sell” provision in the agreement that allows any remaining co-owners to buy out the portion held by a co-owner who dies or otherwise becomes physically unable to continue living in the home.

Summary

Most baby boomers had roommates when they went to college to share expenses. Embracing a “Golden Girls” strategy to share home ownership is like returning to a style from the younger times. It is wise to be very careful about who is chosen to form a home-ownership partnership; however, with proper legal documentation and prudence in choosing who to live with, this can be a very satisfying way to spend your golden years.

Disruptive Technology And The Real Estate Market

April 22, 2020

Disruptive Technology And The Real Estate MarketRecent advancements in technology continue to disrupt the real estate market. This includes the use of “Big Data” for data mining, artificial intelligence combined with machine learning, augmented and virtual reality, use of drones, blockchain technology, and the ongoing deployment of 5G.

The Use Of Big Data

Consumers have access to more information about real estate market conditions because of the collection and online presentation of the results of data mining “Big Data.” For example, it is easy to learn if a market is a buyer’s or a seller’s market by searching for the median number of days a house will be on the market before it sells in a certain area.

Artificial Intelligence And Machine Learning

Artificial intelligence (AI) combined with machine learning works with data mining of Big Data to make the information more actionable. Real estate investors can set up search parameters to look for the exact type of properties that they want and let the AI software do the grunt work to find the investment opportunities.

Machine learning allows AI chatbots to learn correct responses to inquires from the questions previously asked. AI chatbots provide customer service 24/7 non-stop to handle leads and make sure to neglect no one.

Augmented And Virtual Reality

Virtual reality allows interested buyers to do a digital walk-through of a property and be able to imagine what it looks like. Augmented reality is used by some REALTORS® to digitally stage a home, listed for sale, by using digital furniture in the virtual walk-through. This furniture is selectable based on a potential buyer’s taste. Staging a home digitally is far less expensive than using real furniture.

Use Of Drones

The exciting use of drones captures a beautiful fly-over and fly-around a property to show what it looks like on the outside and its surrounding environment.

Blockchain Technology

Blockchain technology, which is the type of software used for cryptocurrency, will have an application for digital verification and signatures in real estate transactions. This technology allows the reduction of all the massive paperwork for a title closing to a secure, digital format.

Deployment Of 5G

The 5G mobile technology allows the connections to a smart device that can broadcast information about a property listing to the local environment. This allows for digitally-assisted home viewing, which is responsive, interactive, and for a potential buyer to ask questions about a property.

Summary

Technology continues to make the search experience when buying more effortless and more pleasant. The promising news for REALTORS® is that even though around half of the homebuyers find a property online that is of interest, the vast majority (93%) use a real estate agent to close the transaction. Technology is making the process easier; however, smart buyers still work with a qualified real estate agent to buy a home.

If you are interested in buying a new home or refinancing your current property, be sure to contact your trusted home mortgage professional.

The Narrowing Gap Between Renting And Buying A Home In The US

April 17, 2020

According to data compiled by Realtor.com in the fourth quarter of 2019, it is still more affordable overall to rent versus buy a home — but just barely. The median monthly mortgage payment at the end of 2019 was $1,600, while the median monthly rent payment was $1,319. This is largely due to steadily-increasing rates, rising home prices, and near-record-low mortgage rates.

The Narrowing Gap Between Renting And Buying A Home In The USThe Realtor.com study looked at 593 counties across the country. As compared to the fourth quarter of 2018, the average monthly cost of renting a home increased 4%, up from $1,254, while the average monthly cost of homeownership actually declined 1%, falling from $1,658.

These numbers represent exactly 30% of a homeowner’s gross income and 25% for renters, based on median household income. 

A Turning Tide

In a stunning 84% of the 593 counties that were part of the study, renting is less expensive than buying. The average home price in these areas is 260% higher than the national median, while rent prices average about 79% more than the national median. 

Interestingly though, 26 of the 593 counties experienced the opposite for the first time ever: It became more affordable to purchase a home than to rent, even if only by a narrow margin.

The largest metropolitan areas in which homeownership is more economical than renting now include Bronx County, New York; the greater Cleveland area; Columbia, South Carolina, and the surrounding areas; Indianapolis, Indiana; and Camden County, New Jersey, which includes Philadelphia, as well as cities in Maryland and Delaware.

In 16% of the counties analyzed, buying a home is less expensive monthly than renting, which is up from 12% in 2018. 

On the other end of the spectrum, several large counties made the switch from being more affordable to buy a home to more affordable to rent. The top five include the Wichita Falls, Texas, area; Harrisburg-Carlisle, Pennsylvania; Luzerne County, Pennsylvania; the Greensboro, North Carolina metro area; and Craven County, North Carolina. 

With the costs of homeownership becoming more favorable over the past year, the gap between renting and buying a home is more narrow than it ever has been in the U.S. If you are in the market for a new home, be sure to contact your trusted real estate or mortgage professional.

What Should I Consider Most When Buying A Home This Year?

April 16, 2020

What Should I Consider Most When Buying A Home In 2020There are two times when it is best to buy a home. When you have to buy one and when you can afford to buy one. In general, owning a home is better than renting one because you are building up equity for yourself, instead of throwing your money away by helping the landlord buy the property with your rent money.

Best- And Worst-Case Scenario Planning

Be prepared for owning a home, especially if this will be your first time as a homebuyer. There is a natural tendency to stretch finances to the breaking point when wanting to own a home.

Try to be patient and have a contingency plan for what would happen if you lose your job or if your significant other loses his or her job if you are buying a home with the help of another income.

A surprising piece of counter-intuitive advice is NOT to use all of your savings as a down payment, even if you have to pay more for the mortgage. Instead, hold back three to six months of mortgage payments in your savings to use in case there is an unexpected job loss or problem.

That will give you enough time to recover from a temporary problem without having to worry about having enough money to make the mortgage payments.

Keep Emotions Under Control

Try not to let your emotions override practical considerations. Most people trade-up from the first home that they buy. A house need not be “perfect”; however, you want it to be in a decent condition to avoid having large expenses right after buying it, unless you are a fixer-upper type and know what you are doing.

Seller’s Or Buyer’s Market

It is useful to know whether the area you want to buy a home is a seller’s or a buyer’s market. In a seller’s market, there may be many buyers for fewer sellers. In that caseyou will need to be more competitive in your approach when buying a house.

One easy way to tell if the area is a seller’s market is to ask your REALTOR® to find out the median number of days that homes are on the market for sale and the percentage of the asking price that the average home sells for.

Don’t be surprised to learn in a seller’s market that homes stay listed only for a short time, and they sell for nearly the asking price. Having a pre-approved lending commitment before you go looking for a home in a seller’s market is one way to make your offer(s) stronger.

Summary

Take time when buying a home to do some market research first. Get your loan commitment approved, before shopping for a home. Make looking for a home to buy an adventure. Avoid stretching yourself to a financial breaking point and plan to stay in your home for a few years, at least, before you trade-up.

If you are in the market for a new home or interested in listing your current property, be sure to set an appointment with your trusted real estate professional.

Mortgage Relief Refinance Programs For 2020

April 15, 2020

Mortgage Relief Refinance Programs For 2020There are lots of people out there who are searching for options for mortgage relief. A quick search will reveal options for programs such as FMERR and HARP; however, many of the articles regarding these programs are a bit outdated. This makes them misleading. Sometimes, people might think they can apply for these programs when, in reality, they cannot. These programs have expired. Fortunately, there is another option for HIRO.

What Is HIRO?

HIRO is the mortgage relief refinance program for 2020. Run by Fannie Mae, this program does have some similarities to its ancestors (HARP and FMERR); however, it also allows homeowners to refinance even if they don’t have any equity. Furthermore, there isn’t a maximum LTV (loan to value) ratio. The biggest difference between HIRO and prior programs is that only people who currently have mortgages through Fannie Mae are able to qualify.

Some of the other conditions of this program include:

  • The loan must have been originated on or after October 1, 2017
  • There is a long history of making payments on-time
  • There cannot have been any more than one late payment in the prior year
  • There cannot be any late payments in the last six months
  • The loan to value ratio is at 97.01 percent or above

If these conditions are met, someone might be able to find mortgage refinance relief through HIRO.

Reasons To Refinance

Of course, if someone is looking to apply for this program, there must be some tangible benefit. Some of the reasons why someone might want to refinance include a lower monthly payment, a loan with an earlier end date, or a transition from a risky adjustable-rate mortgage to a much safer fixed-rate mortgage. These are a few of the common reasons why someone might want to refinance through HIRO.

Options For Government-Backed Loans

If someone has a mortgage through a government program such as USDA, VA, or the FHA, they will need to apply for other mortgage relief programs. This means looking for streamline refinances. These are specific refinance programs that are meant for people with loans backed by the government. These programs often have less paperwork because there is no need to verify income or employment. Furthermore, there is no need to get the home appraised.

The Department Of Veterans Affairs Is Allowing Drive-by Appraisals Because Of COVID-19

April 3, 2020

The Department Of Veterans Affairs Is Allowing Drive-by Appraisals Because Of COVID-19The COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic has impacted every industry across the country. Many people are being asked to shelter in place and everyone has been asked to practice social distancing to try to curtail the spread of this deadly virus.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) has asked both Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae to make some changes in the manner they conduct property appraisals and employment verification.

Shortly after the move by the FHFA, The Veteran’s Administration (VA) and Federal Housing Administration (FHA) followed suit by relaxing property appraisal requirements. Due to the unusual circumstances that are facing the country right now, these changes are necessary to keep people safe while minimizing the blow to the economy.

Exterior Inspection Appraisals

One of the critical parts that must happen during the purchase of a home is something called an appraisal. Typically, these appraisals involve an on-site inspection of the home, taking a close look at everything inside to try to make sure the price is as accurate as possible. Now, appraisals can be done on something that is called an exterior-only or “drive-by” basis. This means that appraisers might drive by to confirm that the property exists, but will not physically inspect it. 

In some cases, they might just use the computer, find comparable properties, and appraise it in this manner. This is normally referred to as a “desktop appraisal”. This is important for everyone, including those who are Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) home loan borrowers.

Why Appraisals Are Needed Now

Even though fewer people may be currently looking at houses, there are other reasons why an appraisal might be necessary. Many people are looking for sources of emergency funding, particularly as hours get cut and people get laid off.

There are still bills that need to be paid, including utility bills and mortgages. Therefore, many people are looking at taking out a second mortgage as a source of immediate liquidity. Sometimes, an appraisal might be needed to make this happen.

Other Measures Are Being Taken By The FHFA

In addition to the notice about drive-by appraisals, the FHFA has also suspended any foreclosures and evictions in many cases. People who are facing hardship due to the pandemic can also apply for forbearance, which can take a lot of stress off of the shoulders of individuals and families.

If you have questions about your mortgage and financing options available to you during the Coronavirus pandemic, contact your trusted mortgage professional. They will be best able to analyze your personal situation and provide the most accurate feedback.