Interest rates have hovered around 4% for the majority of 2017, which has given many buyers relief from rising home prices and has helped with affordability. Experts predict that rates will increase by the end of 2017 and will be about three-quarters of a percentage point higher, at 4.5%, by the end of 2018.
Last week’s Freddie Mac Primary Mortgage Market Survey revealed that interest rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage have fallen to their lowest mark this year, at 3.88%. This is great news for homebuyers looking to purchase and homeowners looking to refinance.
The rate you secure greatly impacts your monthly mortgage payment and the amount you will ultimately pay for your home.
Let’s take a look at a historical view of interest rates over the last 45 years.
Be thankful that you can still get a better interest rate than your older brother or sister did ten years ago, a lower rate than your parents did twenty years ago, and a better rate than your grandparents did forty years ago.
In many markets across the country, the number of buyers searching for their dream homes greatly outnumbers the amount of homes for sale. This has led to a competitive marketplace where buyers often need to stand out. One way to show you are serious about buying your dream home is to get pre-qualified or pre-approved for a mortgage before starting your search.
Even if you are in a market that is not as competitive, knowing your budget will give you the confidence of knowing if your dream home is within your reach.
Freddie Mac lays out the advantages of pre-approval in the My Home section of their website:
“It’s highly recommended that you work with your lender to get pre-approved before you begin house hunting. Pre-approval will tell you how much home you can afford and can help you move faster, and with greater confidence, in competitive markets.”
One of the many advantages of working with a local real estate professional is that many have relationships with lenders who will be able to help you with this process. Once you have selected a lender, you will need to fill out their loan application and provide them with important information regarding “your credit, debt, work history, down payment and residential history.”
Freddie Mac describes the 4 Cs that help determine the amount you will be qualified to borrow:
- Capacity: Your current and future ability to make your payments
- Capital or cash reserves: The money, savings, and investments you have that can be sold quickly for cash
- Collateral: The home, or type of home, that you would like to purchase
- Credit: Your history of paying bills and other debts on time
Getting pre-approved is one of many steps that will show home sellers that you are serious about buying, and it often helps speed up the process once your offer has been accepted.
Many potential home buyers overestimate the down payment and credit scores needed to qualify for a mortgage today. If you are ready and willing to buy, you may be pleasantly surprised at your ability to do so as well.
- Historically, the choice between renting or buying a home has been a tough decision.
- Looking at the percentage of income needed to rent a median-priced home today (29.2%) vs. the percentage needed to buy a median-priced home (15.8%), the choice becomes obvious.
- Every market is different. Before you renew your lease again, find out if you can put your housing costs to work by buying this year!
According to a recent report by Trulia, “buying is cheaper than renting in 100 of the largest metro areas by an average of 33.1%.” The report may have some people thinking about buying a home instead of signing another lease extension, but does that make sense from a financial perspective?
Ralph McLaughlin, Trulia’s Chief Economist explains:
“Owning a home is one of the most common ways households build long-term wealth, as it acts like a forced savings account. Instead of paying your landlord, you can pay yourself in the long run through paying down a mortgage on a house.”
The article listed five reasons why owning a home makes financial sense:
- Mortgage payments can be fixed while rents go up.
- Equity in your home can be a financial resource later.
- You can build wealth without paying capital gains.
- A mortgage can act as a forced savings account.
- Overall, homeowners can enjoy greater wealth growth than renters.
Before you sign another lease, let’s get together and discuss all your options.
To start the year, housing experts all agreed on one thing: 2017 was going to be the year we would see mortgage interest rates begin to rise. After years of historically low rates, and an improving economy, the question wasn’t if they would increase but instead how much they would increase. Some thought we could see rates hit 5-5.5% by the end of the year.
However, the exact opposite has happened. Instead of higher rates as we head into the middle of 2017, we now have the lowest rates of the year (as reported by Freddie Mac). Here is a graph of mortgage rate movement since the beginning of the year:
Projections still call for an increase…
Four major entities (Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, the Mortgage Bankers Association and the National Association of Realtors) are still projecting that rates will increase by the fourth quarter of the year.
No one knows for sure where interest rates will be in six months. However, if you are thinking about buying your first house or trading up to the home of your dreams, you can still get a mortgage at historically low rates RIGHT NOW.
According to a recent survey conducted by Genworth Financial Inc. at the Annual Mortgage Bankers’ Association Secondary Market Conference, mortgage professionals say that first-time buyers still believe a 20% down payment is necessary to buy in today’s market.
Nearly 40% of mortgage industry professionals surveyed believe that a lack of knowledge about the home-buying process is keeping potential buyers on the sidelines. Saving for a down payment is often cited as a huge barrier for first-time homebuyers to make the leap into homeownership.
If homeowners believe that they need a 20% down payment to enter the market, they also believe that they will have to wait years (in some markets) to come up with the necessary funds to buy their dream homes.
The greatest source of confusion cited in the survey results centered around down payments. The results are broken down in the chart below:
Rohit Gupta, CEO of Genworth Mortgage Insurance had this to say,
“While first-time homebuyers continue to drive the purchase market, we believe many are staying on the sidelines due to the misconception that a 20 percent down payment is required to secure a mortgage.
There are various low down payment options available today that allow prospective homebuyers to reach their dreams of homeownership sooner. It is crucial that, as an industry, we proactively educate eligible borrowers about solutions that will enable them to buy a home when they’re ready.”
Don’t let a lack of understanding of the home-buying process keep you and your family out of the housing market. Let’s get together to discuss your options!
So, you’ve been searching for that perfect house to call a ‘home,’ and you finally found one! The price is right, and in such a competitive market, you want to make sure that you make a good offer so that you can guarantee that your dream of making this house yours comes true!
Freddie Mac covered “4 Tips for Making an Offer” in their latest Executive Perspective. Here are the 4 tips they covered along with some additional information for your consideration:
1. Understand How Much You Can Afford
“While it’s not nearly as fun as house hunting, fully understanding your finances is critical in making an offer.”
This ‘tip’ or ‘step’ should really take place before you start your home search process.
As we’ve mentioned before, getting pre-approved is one of many steps that will show home sellers that you are serious about buying, and will allow you to make your offer with the confidence of knowing that you have already been approved for a mortgage for that amount. You will also need to know if you are prepared to make any repairs that may need to be made to the house (ex: new roof, new furnace).
2. Act Fast
“Even though there are fewer investors, the inventory of homes for sale is also low and competition for housing continues to heat up in many parts of the country.”
According to the latest Existing Home Sales Report, the inventory of homes for sale is currently at a 3.7-month supply; this is well below the 6-month supply that is needed for a ‘normal’ market. Buyer demand has continued to outpace the supply of homes for sale, causing buyers to compete with each other for their dream homes.
Make sure that as soon as you decide that you want to make an offer, you work with your agent to present it as soon as possible.
3. Make a Solid Offer
Freddie Mac offers this advice to help make your offer the strongest it can be:
“Your strongest offer will be comparable with other sales and listings in the neighborhood. A licensed real estate agent active in the neighborhoods you are considering will be instrumental in helping you put in a solid offer based on their experience and other key considerations such as recent sales of similar homes, the condition of the house and what you can afford.”
Talk with your agent to find out if there are any ways that you can make your offer stand out in this competitive market!
4. Be Prepared to Negotiate
“It’s likely that you’ll get at least one counteroffer from the sellers so be prepared. The two things most likely to be negotiated are the selling price and closing date. Given that, you’ll be glad you did your homework first to understand how much you can afford.
Your agent will also be key in the negotiation process, giving you guidance on the counteroffer and making sure that the agreed-to contract terms are met.”
If your offer is approved, Freddie Mac urges you to “always get an independent home inspection, so you know the true condition of the home.” If the inspector uncovers undisclosed problems or issues, you can discuss any repairs that may need to be made with the seller, or cancel the contract.
Whether you’re buying your first home or your fifth, having a local professional on your side who is an expert in their market is your best bet in making sure the process goes smoothly. Happy House Hunting!
- The “Cost of Waiting to Buy” is defined as the additional funds it would take to buy a home if prices and interest rates were to increase over a period of time.
- Freddie Mac predicts that interest rates will increase to 4.8% by this time next year, while home prices are predicted to appreciate by 4.9% according to CoreLogic.
- Waiting until next year to buy could cost you thousands of dollars a year for the life of your mortgage!