lake county real estate. and then some…

selling homes…a family tradition


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Rumor has it…

…that mortgage interest rates are at risk of rising as much as 1% over the course of the next year.  Thinking of moving?  Act sooner than later!

The Impact of Higher Interest Rates | Keeping Current Matters

Last week, an article in the Washington Post discussed a new ‘threat’ homebuyers will soon be facing: higher mortgage rates. The article revealed:

“The Mortgage Bankers Association expects that rates on 30-year loans could reach 4.8 percent by the end of next year, topping 5 percent in 2017. Rates haven’t been that high since the recession.”

How can this impact the housing market?

The article reported that recent analysis from Realtor.com found that –

“…as many as 7% of people who applied for a mortgage during the first half of the year would have had trouble qualifying if rates rose by half a percentage point.”

This doesn’t necessarily mean that those buyers negatively impacted by a rate increase would not purchase a home. However, it would mean that they would either need to come up with substantially more cash for a down payment or settle for a lesser priced home.

Below is a table showing how a jump in mortgage interest rates would impact the purchasing power of a prospective buyer on a $300,000 home.

Buyers Purchasing Power | Keeping Current Matters

Bottom Line

If you are considering a home purchase (either as a first time buyer or move-up buyer), purchasing sooner rather than later may make more sense from a pure financial outlook.

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Moving, whether locally or out of state, requires planning ahead…

Any type of a move entails basically the same need – tell everyone!  The post office will forward mail, however they make it fairly easy to register a change of address.  I always suggest leaving your forwarding information for your buyer, as the forwarding order will expire.  It costs them nothing to cross out the old address, and write in the new one.  I have lived in my house for 9 years and still receive Christmas cards every year for the prior owner!

Doctors, dentists and other healthcare facilities you use are high on the list to contact.  If you are making an overseas or long-distance move, and you or a family member has a medical condition, travel with your records.  Remember your pets’ records as well.  If you will be traveling with pets, and plan on putting them in kennels – make sure all of their shots are current before you hit the road.

An organized move will be a smooth move.  For additional moving tips, click here


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Why is there so much mortgage paperwork now? It’s quite simple…

Applying For A Mortgage: Why So Much Paperwork? | Keeping Current Matters

We are often asked why there is so much paperwork mandated by the bank for a mortgage loan application when buying a home today. It seems that the bank needs to know everything about us and requires three separate sources to validate each and every entry on the application form.

Many buyers are being told by friends and family that the process was a hundred times easier when they bought their home ten to twenty years ago.

There are two very good reasons that the loan process is much more onerous on today’s buyer than perhaps any time in history.

  1. The government has set new guidelines that now demand that the bank prove beyond any doubt that you are indeed capable of affording the mortgage. During the run-up in the housing market, many people ‘qualified’ for mortgages that they could never pay back. This led to millions of families losing their home. The government wants to make sure this can’t happen again
  2. The banks don’t want to be in the real estate business. Over the last seven years, banks were forced to take on the responsibility of liquidating millions of foreclosures and also negotiating another million plus short sales. Just like the government, they don’t want more foreclosures. For that reason, they need to double (maybe even triple) check everything on the application.

However, there is some good news in the situation. The housing crash that mandated that banks be extremely strict on paperwork requirements also allowed you to get a mortgage interest rate probably at or below 4%.

The friends and family who bought homes ten or twenty ago experienced a simpler mortgage application process but also paid a higher interest rate (the average 30 year fixed rate mortgage was 8.12% in the 1990’s and 6.29% in the 2000’s). If you went to the bank and offered to pay 7% instead of <4%, they would probably bend over backwards to make the process much easier.

Bottom Line

Instead of concentrating on the additional paperwork required, let’s be thankful that we are able to buy a home at historically low rates.


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Is it easier to qualify for a mortgage?

Is Qualifying for a Mortgage Getting Easier? | Keeping Current Matters 

There has been a lot of talk about how difficult it is to get a home mortgage in today’s lending environment. However, three recent reports have revealed that lending standards are beginning to ease. This is great news for both first time buyers and current homeowners looking to move or buy a second vacation/retirement home. Let’s look at the three reports:

The MBA’s Mortgage Credit Availability Index

This index, issued by the Mortgage Bankers’ Association, measures the availability of credit available in the home mortgage market. A decline in the MCAI indicates that lending standards are tightening, while increases in the index are indicative of a loosening of credit. We can see that the index has been increasing nicely this year:

Mortgage Credit Availability Index | Keeping Current Matters

Fannie Mae’s latest Mortgage Lender Sentiment Survey

This survey revealed that more lenders report that mortgage lending standards across all loan types are easing. The survey asked senior mortgage executives whether their company’s credit standards have eased, tightened, or remained essentially unchanged during the prior three months. The gap between lenders reporting easing as opposed to tightening over the prior three months jumped to approximately 20%. This represented a new survey high of “net easing.” In addition, the share of lenders who expect their organizations to ease credit standards over the next three months also ticked up this quarter.

Doug Duncan, senior vice president and chief economist at Fannie Mae, addressed this easing of standards:

“For the first time in seven quarters, we see a pronounced increase in the share of lenders, particularly medium- and larger-sized lenders, reporting on net an easing of credit standards … This is a significant result in light of public discourse on credit availability and standards … Overall, we expect that lenders’ tendency toward easing credit standards, together with relatively low mortgage rates and a strengthening labor market, will continue to support the housing market expansion.”

Ellie Mae’s latest Origination Insights Report

The easing of credit standards is also confirmed in this report which showed that the average FICO score on a closed loan fell to its lowest point in well over a year. Here is a chart of average FICO scores on closed loans so far in 2015:

Ellie Mae FICO Scores | Keeping Current Matters

Just keep an eye on interest rates…

Although this is all great news, there was one challenge in the recently released data. Ellie Mae reported that the average interest rate on closed loans is beginning to inch upward:

Ellie Mae Interest Rates | Keeping Current Matters

What this means to you…

If you are a first time buyer or a current homeowner thinking of moving up to a bigger home or buying a vacation home, now may be the time to act. Mortgage lending standards are beginning to ease and interest rates are beginning to inch up.


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Is it better to rent or buy?

Buying A Home Is Better Way to Produce Wealth Than Renting | Keeping Current Matters

According to the latest Beracha, Hardin & Johnson Buy vs. Rent (BH&J) Index homeownership is a better way to produce greater wealth, on average, than renting.

The BH&J Index is a quarterly report that attempts to answer the question:

Is it better to rent or buy a home in today’s housing market?

The index examines that entire US housing market and then isolates 23 major markets for comparison. The researchers at use a “’horse race’ comparison between an individual that is buying a home and an individual that rents a similar quality home and reinvests all monies otherwise invested in homeownership.”

Ken Johnson, Real Estate Economist & Professor at Florida Atlantic University, and one of the index’s authors states: “The U.S. as a whole is still in clear buy territory. The cities of Cincinnati, Chicago, Cleveland, and New York City are deep into buy territory.”

Miami and Portland had been inching closer toward renting being the better option but have “pulled back from the edge.” Johnson goes on to say, “that’s a good sign for home pricing as it suggests prices are going to level off in these metro areas.”

Bottom Line

Buying a home makes sense socially and financially. Rents are predicted to increase substantially in the next year, so lock in your housing cost with a mortgage payment now.


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Hesitant about selling? Are one of these your reason? You may not need to wait…

Are one of these your reason?   You may not need to wait…

Over 23% Thinking of Selling. Why the Hesitation? | Keeping Current Matters

Last month, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported that housing inventory was down 4.7% from the same time last year and that the month’s inventory of homes for sale stood at 4.8 – far below the six months necessary for a normal housing market. Why is there such a shortage of inventory?

The recently released Homeowner Sentiment Survey suggests that the American homeowner may not be fully aware of the opportunities that exist in the current real estate market. The survey, conducted by Edelman Berland for HSF Affiliates, also reports that many homeowners would be placing their home up for sale if they were better informed about today’s market.

Since the housing industry is facing a shortage of housing inventory, the survey’s findings are crucially important.

The survey reported that 23% of current homeowners questioned are considering selling their home, but haven’t yet put it up for sale. That’s almost one out of every four houses. This is the inventory necessary to normalize the balance between “supply & demand” in the current market.

Why are potential sellers hesitating?

The survey shows that 55% of the 23% contemplating selling “would be more likely to put their homes on the market if given more information about the process”. What information do they need?

Here are a few of the challenges that potential sellers perceive to exist according to the survey along with what is actually happening in today’s market:

1. More than half (53%) don’t realize that “the number of homes for sale on the market is lower, giving buyers fewer choices”. As a matter of fact, only 6% of potential sellers believe that listing inventory has recently decreased.

In reality, as we mentioned before, inventory is down from last year.

2. 80% think credit scores make it difficult to get a loan.

In reality, though other studies have shown that many Americans believe that you need a credit score of at least 780 to get a loan when the actual median scores on closed loans are demonstratively lower than that.

3. 76% believe stricter lending requirements make it more difficult to get a mortgage.

In reality, the Mortgage Credit Availability Index shows lending standards have been consistently easing over the last year.

4. 68% think that current homeowners are trapped into their mortgages and are unable to sell their current homes.

In reality, a recent Fannie Mae study revealed that 32% of Americans are dramatically underestimating the current equity in their homes. Many more can afford to make the move they desire.

What’s the answer?

Every family should feel confident when they are buying or selling a home. In order to feel confident they need to truly understand their options and opportunities. HSF Affiliates CEO Gino Blefari put it best when he addressed the findings of the survey:

“Education is essential in today’s market. The stage is set for real estate professionals to connect with consumers, learn their needs and concerns and determine the best way for sellers and buyers to capitalize on the opportunities that exist today.”