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What to Consider When Selling Your Home in a Rising Rate Environment

March 13, 2018 - 3:23pm

There are many economic variables to consider when selling your home when interest rates are rising. If that’s the only changing economic variable, you’re generally going to see a negative impact on both home sales and home prices. This means as interest rates rise, the buyer pool for your home is going to shrink.

In 2008, the Federal Reserve set rates at 0.25 percent because of the recession and the lack of buyer confidence or demand. Since then, buyer confidence and buyer demand have risen. In December 2015, rates climbed to 0.5 percent and continued to rise to where they are today at 1.5 percent. The Fed has noted rates will rise to 2 percent in 2018 and then 3 percent by 2020.

What Happens to the Ability to Sell Your Home With These Rises in Interest Rates?
If interest rates rise 1 percent and all other economic factors remain the same, purchasing power for homebuyers will decrease by just over 11 percent; therefore, every quarter-percent (0.25 percent) rise of interest rates reduces homebuyer purchasing power by 3 percent.

That means for a home purchase of $300,000, a 1 percent interest rate rise reduces buying power to just under $267,000. So, someone who potentially may have been able to purchase your home may no longer have the buying power to do so. This creates a smaller buyer pool and less demand for your home. It’s also likely to increase supply as fewer people are able to purchase homes.

If mortgage rates rise, it becomes more probable for indecisive buyers to rush into the market, and the short term will likely see a decent boost; however, it could add extra pressure if rates continue to rise without leveling out.

While interest rates play a role in the housing market, there are a variety of personal and economic factors to consider, as well.

What Other Economic Factors Play a Role?
Supply and demand play crucial roles in determining the movement of home prices. If supply goes up, home prices go down. If supply goes down, home prices will probably go up. If demand increases, home prices mostly likely will as well; however, if fewer people are looking to buy homes, then prices will most likely decrease. As a seller, these are important factors to consider when putting your home on the market.

The sale of new homes is another factor to consider alongside rising interest rates because supply and demand will always play a factor in the home-buying process. Supply increases when new homes are created. Assuming that interest rates don’t rise too rapidly, paying attention to new-home inventory levels will give you an indication of what to expect as a seller.

Monthly income, as it relates to monthly mortgage payments, is a more important variable to gauge than interest rates alone. Your debt-to-income ratio plays a larger factor in your ability to qualify for a mortgage than interest rates alone. When monthly income rises, your ability to absorb higher interest rates does, as well. This means that as long as people are making more money, they’ll also be able to pay off any increase in debts.

When the real estate market crashed in 2007-2008, monthly payments of principal and interest were nearing 25 percent of the U.S. median family monthly income. Even with a rise in interest rates, Americans are currently seeing the highest monthly median income in the last 35 years. Because of this, the percentage of monthly income going toward monthly payments is still well below levels that analysts consider dangerous.

Overall, we seem much more hesitant to take out mortgages than we have been in the past.

One of the largest surprises is the percentage of all-cash transactions for home purchases. Even with interest rates at historic lows, the percentage of all-cash transactions is higher than normal because we’re more cautious about taking on debt than we have been in recent decades.

High stock market valuations allow people to diversify their percentage of assets, cash out and reinvest in real estate to keep their portfolio balanced.

The number of distressed properties is a result of a strong job environment. This allows folks to pay their mortgages without defaulting, while also helping to keep prices up even with a rise in interest rates.

While interest rates play a large factor in selling your home for top dollar, they’re in no way the only deciding factor. All of the factors mentioned above should be taken into consideration before you rush into selling your home because of high interest rates.

Ryan Fitzgerald is the founder of Raleigh Realty, a local real estate firm in Raleigh, N.C., that specializes in helping people find great homes for sale online.

This appeared first on ZING! by Quicken Loans. For more information, please visit realestate.quickenloans.com/.

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Categories: Real Estate

4 Ways to Prepare for a Competitive Spring Home-Buying Season

March 4, 2018 - 1:05pm

(TNS)—With housing inventory far lower than demand and mortgage rates poised to rise, it’s going to be a competitive market for homebuyers this spring.

If you’re looking to buy a home this season, here’s how to prepare yourself to enter the fray. 

Get your financial house in order.
Unless you plan on paying for the house in cash, you’ll need to apply for a mortgage. No matter how streamlined the process is, you’ll still need to gather a significant amount of documentation to give an accurate financial picture to the lender.

Before you even begin house shopping, look at your credit report to make sure there are no errors that could affect your score. Also, pay off any delinquent bills and reduce any other debts you owe so that your debt-to-income ratio (DTI) is favorable. Use a calculator to figure out your DTI and see if you need to make changes. Your goal is to look as attractive to lenders as possible so that you are you approved and can get the best rate on a loan.

Make sure you’ll qualify for a mortgage.
In order to get a mortgage, lenders want to know you’ll be able to meet your monthly obligations no matter what. This means they’ll ask to see your entire financial situation including employment history, salary, savings, investments, debts and anything else that makes up your net worth. Use a prequalifying mortgage calculator to get an idea of what size loan is right for your needs.

Even if you think you’re a strong candidate, never assume you’ll automatically qualify with the first lender you contact. Lenders’ guidelines have become stricter since the housing crisis of 2008, and you could lose out on the house you want if you can’t close on a loan. “Sometimes one deficiency can be offset by another strength. For example, if you have a higher DTI ratio, saving up enough to put a bigger down payment can help,” says Bill Banfield, executive vice president of Capital Markets for Quicken Loans. 

Choose the right REALTOR®.
Unless you’re a seasoned pro, having a REALTOR® on your side can make a big difference.

“An experienced agent will know what could happen that might make a deal fall apart and how to keep that from happening,” says Dori Summer, a real estate agent with Keller Williams Realty in Coral Springs, Fla.

Making an offer on a house in a competitive market can require more than just a willingness to pay the price. If a seller has to choose between multiple buyers, they’re likely to choose the one that’s coming to them with the best overall package. A good agent will present your offer along with other information, including your ability to get a loan, how much you’re able to put down and anything else that might make you more appealing than someone else vying for the same property.

Be prepared to pay the price.
Home prices in close to two-thirds of the housing market are at an all-time high, according to a February 2018 report by the National Association of REALTORS®.

“Sellers in this current market get at least 95 percent of their asking price,” says Samona Rosenberg, a licensed real estate agent with Stein Posner Real Estate Services in Boca Raton, Fla.

If you see the house you want and you know it’s in your budget, it may not make sense to hold out to see if the price will drop.

“The best properties all have multiple offers,” says Erik Williams, a REALTOR® with Keller Williams Realty in Cambridge, Mass. “If it’s a desirable property, it’s desirable to buyers. The people that I see get places under agreement are the most prepared people and the most aggressive.”

©2018 Bankrate.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

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Categories: Real Estate

Ask the Expert: What Can Sellers Do to Prepare for a Home Inspection?

January 18, 2018 - 4:28pm

Today’s Ask the Expert column features Buddy Stark, director of Operations for HomeTeam Inspection Service.

Q: What can sellers do to prepare for a home inspection?

A: Completing these quick and easy tasks before beginning the selling process will help reduce stress and save your clients valuable time during the home-selling process.

Clean the House
An important part of selling a home is keeping it clean in anticipation of a showing. Cleaning the home will convey that it’s been well cared for and that the house is less susceptible to any issues caused by neglect.

Check All Windows
Have your client take a quick inventory of the windows to make sure they’re in good working order. Replace windows that are cracked or broken before the inspection to save time during the selling process.

Finish the Honey-Do List
Some areas of the home, although not typically thought of as areas that would affect a home’s appeal, may be displayed as safety concerns on a home inspection report. Your client can help themselves by replacing burnt-out lightbulbs, testing smoke detectors, replacing air filters and unclogging drains. These little things are easy to forget in day-to-day life, but taking care of them is a relatively easy task that will help potential buyers focus on the important systems of the home.

Check All Outlets
A sampling of electrical outlets will be tested as part of the home inspection to make sure they’re in good working order. Encourage your clients to take note of which outlets are not functioning in the home and replace them. Or, they may want to consider hiring an electrician to make sure both outlets and the electrical box are updated and in proper working condition.

Clear Areas for Easy Access
Home inspectors will be looking at the major parts of the home, including the foundation, HVAC systems, electrical systems, plumbing and even the water heater. Making sure home inspectors can easily access these areas, including the basement and attic, will save time during the inspection process.

Consider a Pre-Listing Inspection
Hiring experienced and professional home inspectors can save a lot of headaches during the selling process. They will thoroughly go through the home and notify clients of any potential issues ahead of listing the property.

For more information, please visit www.hometeam.com.

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Categories: Real Estate

Making Sense of Valuation’s Alphabet Soup: CMAs, BPOs, AVMs and Appraisals

January 3, 2018 - 4:46pm

The following information is provided by the Center for REALTOR® Development (CRD).

This article explains the four most common valuation methods used for real property transactions and how and when they are used. It’s important to note that the methods below are not necessarily mutually exclusive. Lenders, servicers, investors, and other professionals use one or more of these valuation methods, depending on circumstances and the type of transaction. Often, one valuation method is used to confirm or quality-check the results of another.

Comparative Market Analysis (CMA): A CMA is prepared by a licensed real estate professional and is most commonly used to help determine a home’s listing price. The CMA should not be the only factor in determining listing price; rather, it is a guide for the agent and owner to evaluate the active and sold competition, and to serve as a tool in the price-setting process. A CMA can also be used—depending on variations in state laws—for a variety of other purposes, including loan modifications, short sales and foreclosure/REO purchases, value trend analysis, mediation and negotiation. It should not serve as the sole method of valuing collateral in a real estate transaction where a mortgage is being originated.

Broker Price Opinion (BPO): A BPO is prepared by a licensed real estate professional and is an estimate of the probable future selling price of a property. Like CMAs, BPOs may be used—depending on variations in state laws—for a variety of purposes, including loan modifications, short sales and foreclosure/REO purchases, value trend analysis, mediation and negotiation. They normally should not be used as the sole way to value collateral in a real estate transaction where a mortgage is being originated, even though in some states both BPOs and CMAs are technically permitted for purchase money transactions when the transaction is less than $250,000 (though allowed, CMAs are rarely used for this purpose).

Automated Valuation Model (AVM): An AVM is a service or software that provides property valuations, often based on mathematical modeling. AVMs are most commonly developed or used by lenders, servicer appraisal staff, and investors. While AVMs are most often used by lenders or secondary markets to confirm valuations provided in appraisal reports, they should not be used as the sole method to value collateral in a real estate transaction where a mortgage is being originated. They may, however, be used as the sole valuation option for other types of transactions, such as refinances.

Appraisal: An appraisal is prepared by a licensed or certified appraiser and is an opinion of a property’s value. Appraisals are most often used to value collateral in a real estate transaction and are required for most federally-regulated transactions above $250,000. Exceptions include transactions where no new money is involved. In practice, appraisals are used for the vast majority of purchase money transactions involving a loan. For the most part, lenders or servicers determine the use of appraisal or another acceptable methodology for transactions that are not purchase money.

Source: www.nar.realtor/appraisal/valuation-services-matrix

For more education about valuation and pricing, check out this month’s featured online certification course at the Center for REALTOR® Development, Pricing Strategies: Mastering the CMA, which is the educational requirement for NAR’s Pricing Strategy Advisor (PSA) certification, and is on sale this entire month of January at 25% off its regular price. This certification aims to help real estate professionals enhance skills in pricing properties, creating CMAs, working with appraisers, and guiding their clients through the anxieties and misperceptions related to real estate valuation.

For more information, please visit RISMedia’s online learning portal from NAR’s Center for REALTOR® Development (CRD) and the Learning Library. Here, real estate professionals can sign up for online professional development courses, industry designations, certifications, CE credits, Code of Ethics programs and more. NAR’s CRD also offers monthly specials and important education updates. New users will need to register for an account.

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Categories: Real Estate

Ask the Expert: How Can I Guide Clients Through the Home Inspection Process?

December 25, 2017 - 4:01pm

Today’s Ask the Expert column features Adam Long, president of HomeTeam Inspection Service.

Q: What can be done to guide clients through the home inspection process?

A: After being in business for 25 years and performing over a million inspections, HomeTeam Inspection Service has identified the top ways to ensure a smoother home inspection, contributing to happier clients and a better outcome.

Make It Convenient
The home inspection process—from scheduling to report delivery—should be convenient for everyone involved. Online scheduling, text messaging and electronic delivery of reports make convenience possible when it comes to the home inspection. If a home inspection company isn’t providing this, clients are missing out on the best possible experience.

Don’t Keep Them Waiting
Ten years ago, it was commonplace to wait five days or more for a home inspection, but today, consumers want it now. Plus, consumers are busier than ever today. They not only want a home inspection that can be performed soon, but also one that can be performed in half the time of the traditional three- to -four-hour inspection. That’s a large part of what makes HomeTeam successful. Our team approach allows for a faster inspection and more appointment slots each day.

Give Them Options
Clients only want to pay for services they need. While most home inspection companies offer a wide range of services, client needs vary, and the leading home inspection companies allow clients to schedule individual services like pest, mold and radon.

Ensure It’s Educational
A home inspector will not give a pass/fail grade on a home, but will give an objective assessment on the condition of the home during the inspection. Educating the client on their new home and how to maintain it is a sign of a professional inspector. Communicating information in a non-alarming manner is critical to helping clients absorb information and make prudent decisions. An inspector that’s accessible to answer questions onsite and after the inspection instills peace of mind in clients and makes them more confident in their purchase decision.

Deliver Accurate Reporting
In addition to a verbal report that the client receives onsite, the most professional inspection companies will furnish a narrative, electronic report that’s emailed to the client and agent. A narrative-style report is more detailed than a checklist-style report, putting forth a clearer picture of the home with less room for interpretation. Including photos and a summary helps the client easily identify any safety concerns or areas that warrant attention.

For more information, please visit www.hometeam.com.

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Categories: Real Estate

Ask the Expert: How Can Staging Pave the Way for a Better Sell?

December 4, 2017 - 4:19pm

Today’s Ask the Expert column features Patty McNease, director of Marketing for Homes.com.

Q: How can staging pave the way for a better sell?

A: Staging allows your clients to show off the unique features of their home that buyers can come to love. During the holiday season, staging can make a home stand out even more. The following staging tips will help buyers fall in love with their future home just in time for the holidays.

Is staging really necessary?
Many homeowners are concerned about the overall cost to sell their homes. One place they may look to cut expenses is staging. While some think it’s unnecessary, proper staging is crucial to selling a home since it allows buyers to imagine what living there could look like. In fact, according to a recent National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) survey, 77 percent of buyers’ agents said staging a home made it easier for a buyer to visualize the property as their future home, which decreased the amount of time it was on the market.

Which rooms are the most important to stage?
According to the same NAR survey, the living room, master bedroom and kitchen are most critical. This is likely because these are the spaces where future owners will be spending most of their time. When planning these rooms, space and functionality are important. Rooms that are cluttered or difficult to navigate will not appeal to potential buyers.

How should I stage a home around the holidays?
Keep in mind that buying a home is an emotional experience for both the buyer and the seller. Often, the buyer’s emotional connection to the home is what really solidifies the sale. The holidays are a sentimental time for many, as they bring back warm memories and allow younger buyers to imagine future celebrations. Enhance these emotional connections to draw buyers to make an emotional investment in the home.

That being said, it’s important not to go overboard. Since different types of potential buyers will be coming to visit, avoid including overly religious décor. Instead, opt for simple and classic. Also, consider burning a pine- or cranberry-scented candle for those buyers who come over for a tour.

My client is hesitant. How can I convince them to stage their home?
If your client is against staging, remind them that 86 percent of buyers believe viewing a property online is the most useful part of their home search. With so many different options, it’s important to capture their attention in this initial stage of viewing so that they want to see the home in person. If you’re still struggling, show your client a before and after photo from another property you’ve staged, and ask them which home they would rather see.

For more information, please visit www.homes.com.

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Categories: Real Estate

How Much Do You Know About Your Credit Score?

November 27, 2017 - 4:00pm

While your credit score affects everything from your ability to buy a car or a home to how much interest you will pay on the loan, many people don’t know how these scores are calculated or what impacts them positively or negatively.

Moreover, says the Credit Federation of America (CFA), more than 25 percent of respondents in a recent survey did not know that a low credit score could increase the cost of a car loan by $5,000. More than half didn’t realize that utility companies, cellphone companies, and even insurers sometimes check credit scores before issuing services—or that multiple inquiries in a short time, as when you are shopping for a loan, are treated as one inquiry in order to minimize the impact on your score.

The CFA provides more about credit scores that every consumer should know:

All your credit scores are not the same. Most people assume their credit score is a single three-digit number, but each of the three major credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion) scores you differently, since they don’t necessarily have the exact same data in their files.

Closing old accounts will not necessarily boost your scores. Closing old or inactive accounts may inadvertently lower your credit score because now your credit history appears shorter. If you want to simplify, close newer credit accounts first, or put the cards away so you don’t use them, but your credit history stays intact.

Paying off a bad debt will not erase it from your score. Once a debt goes to collection, or you’ve established a history of late payments, you will deal with the consequences even if you pay off what you owe. It will show as paid, but it is not erased. Also, while your score will get a boost if you pay off an old debt, it may not be by as much as you think. The best way to increase your scores and keep them high is to make payments on time every month over the long haul.

Co-signing for a loan impacts your scores. When you co-sign for someone else’s loan, you are responsible for the debt—and if the person your co-signed for does not pay, your credit score will be impacted.

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Categories: Real Estate

4 Ways to Pay Off Your Mortgage Early

November 26, 2017 - 1:02pm

(TNS)—If you can afford it, it might be simple to pay off your mortgage earlier. But should you? That’s a complicated question.

Homeowners with low mortgage rates may be better off putting extra money in a Roth IRA or 401(k), both of which might offer a higher return than paying off the mortgage.

Then there’s the college aid factor. If you’re applying for need-based aid for your kids, that home equity could count against you with some colleges because some institutions view equity as money in the bank.

If, after those caveats, you want to pay off your mortgage early, here are four ways to make it happen.

  1. Refinance with a shorter-term mortgage.
    You can pay off the mortgage in another 15 years by refinancing into a 15-year mortgage.

Let’s say you got a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage for $200,000 at 4.5 percent. Then, five years later, you can refinance into a 15-year loan at 4 percent. Doing so pays off the mortgage 10 years earlier and saves more than $60,000 (if you exclude closing costs on the refi).

Those shorter-term mortgages often carry interest rates a quarter of a percentage point to three-quarters of a percentage point lower than their 30-year counterparts.

Refinancing isn’t quick or free. It requires filling out the application, providing documentation and having an appraiser visit. There are closing costs.

And even with a lower interest rate, that quicker payoff means higher monthly payments. And this method is a lot less flexible. If you decide that you don’t have the extra money one month to put toward the mortgage, you’re locked in anyway.

Unless the new interest rate is lower than the old rate, there’s no point in refinancing. Without a lower rate, you’ll get all the same benefits (and none of the extra costs) by just increasing your payment a sufficient amount.

  1. Pay a little more each month.
    Divide your monthly principal and interest by 12 and add that amount to your monthly payment for a year. Result: You make the equivalent of 13 payments in 12 months.

Let’s say you got a $200,000 mortgage at 4.5 percent. After five years of making the minimum payments, you add an extra 1/12 of a month’s principal and interest to each monthly payment. Doing so pays off the mortgage three years and three months earlier and saves more than $18,000 interest.

Before you make anything beyond the regular payment, call your mortgage servicer and find out exactly what you need to do so that your extra payments will be correctly applied to your loan.

Let them know you want to pay “more aggressively” and ask the best ways to do that.

Some servicers may require a note with the extra money or directions on the notation line of the check.

In any event, if you’re putting extra money toward your loan, always check the next statement to make sure it’s been properly applied.

  1. Make an extra mortgage payment every year.
    Instead of paying a little more each month, make one extra monthly payment each year. One way to do this is to save 1/12 of a payment every month, and then make an extra payment after every 12 months. This gives you the flexibility to use the extra savings for something else if a more pressing expense arises.

Let’s say you do this starting the first month after getting a 30-year mortgage for $200,000 at 4.5 percent. That would save more than $27,000 interest, and you would pay off the mortgage four years and three months earlier.

  1. Throw ‘found’ money at the mortgage.
    Get a bonus? A tax refund? An unexpected windfall? However it ends up in your hands, you can funnel some or all of your newfound money toward your mortgage.

Let’s say you got a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage for $200,000 at 4.5 percent. Then, five years later, you can make an extra $10,000 lump-sum payment. Doing so pays off the mortgage two years and four months earlier, and saves more than $19,000 in interest.

The upside: You’re paying extra only when you’re flush. And those additional payments toward the principal will cut the total interest on your loan.

The downside: It’s irregular, so it’s hard to predict the mortgage payoff date. If you throw too much at the mortgage, you won’t have money for other needs.

©2017 Bankrate.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as professional advice. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of RISMedia.

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Categories: Real Estate