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Debunking the Top 4 Renting-Is-Better-Than-Owning Myths

If you’ve never bought a home before, some people may try to tell you that renting is a smarter choice than buying. However, for the vast majority of people, that’s simply not true. Here are some of the top myths about the advantage of renting over owning.

Myth No. 1: You can’t afford a down payment. Many would-be homebuyers opt for renting believing that they won’t be able to afford to save the 20 percent down payment. In reality, you usually don’t have to put 20 percent down. In fact, you can usually put down 10 percent, or sometimes 5 percent or less.

Myth No. 2: Renting is cheaper. Even if your monthly mortgage payment ends up being a little higher than what you might have paid in rent, that money is going toward your own long-term financial investment. When you pay rent, you’re making your landlord richer, not yourself.

Myth No. 3: You won’t recoup your money. Unlike stocks, real estate is, in fact, the safest long-term investment you can make. Yes, the market will go through its cycles, but if you’re in it for the long-run, you will earn back your investment (and then some).

Myth No. 4: Renting is less of a hassle. Sure, you have less vested in your rental property, but the blood, sweat and tears you put into turning a house into your home is a richly rewarding experience. Not only are you creating the home you’ve always wanted, without the restrictions of a landlord, you’re also building upon your investment.

If you’d like more homeowner information, please contact me.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2018. All rights reserved.

Tax Reform: Here’s What Could Impact Homeowners Most

A new year has started, and with it a newly enacted tax policy: the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. While most changes will not be noticeable until consumers file their taxes in 2019, the new tax law stands to alter how consumers view homeownership incentives and could impact real estate markets across the country. Additionally, many consumers, but not all, may see a change to their paychecks by next month due to the new tax rate deductions. These are the biggest real estate-related tax policies and how they could affect homeowners.

home tax law

1. Cap on Mortgage Interest Deduction
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act reduced the limit for the mortgage interest rate deduction for new loans starting Dec. 15 to $750,000. Loans that were taken out before this date are grandfathered into the previous tax policy, which featured a $1 million cap on the deduction. Homeowners can refinance their existing mortgage balance up to $1 million while still being able to deduct the interest—the new loan cannot exceed the amount of debt being refinanced.

“Although only 1.3 percent of all U.S. mortgages are likely to be impacted by the capping of the mortgage interest deduction, it poses a risk to large urban areas with high-priced housing stock,” says realtor.com® Senior Economist Joseph Kirchner, Ph.D. “The No. 1 area with the greatest risk to its home prices and sales is Washington, D.C., followed by California, Hawaii, Massachusetts and New York.”

Some tax experts state that the overall impact of these changes will not be seen until current homeowners sell, in which case the purchased property would come under the new regulations.

“Most estimates suggest that by limiting some buyers’ purchasing power, capping the deduction could contribute to slower home value growth in the priciest communities, moderating the gains longtime homeowners can expect when they do eventually sell,” says Alexander Casey, Zillow Group Policy Advisor,

Related story: More than half (56.7 percent) of RISMedia readers believe the tax bill is not “good for homeownership,” according to a poll conducted Dec. 20-21; 32.3 percent believe it is, however, and 11 percent are “not sure.”

2. New SALT Deduction Limit
In the final bill, taxpayers can itemize deductions up to $10,000 for their total state and local property taxes and income or sales taxes. The cap is the same for both individual and married filers.

“Households that pay more than $10,000 in combined state and local taxes each year will be impacted by the new SALT limits,” Casey says. “On one hand, taxpayers who still itemize deductions and whose total state and local tax liability exceeds $10,000 will get a smaller tax break; however, for other households, the continued availability of those deductions, even if they are capped, may be the deciding factor between whether or not they itemize deductions. This matters a lot in areas where SALT deductions were a relatively more significant reason for itemizing—areas with lower home prices, but higher taxes (e.g., upstate New York, Southern New Jersey, Inland California).”

In the previous law, the SALT deduction was unlimited.

“The new SALT limit will have the greatest impact on states that provide a large number of services to their citizens by, first, reducing the benefit of tax cuts by disallowing the full value of this deduction, and, second, compounding the issue of the standard deduction vs. the mortgage interest rate deduction,” Kirchner says.

3. Preserved Exclusion of Capital Gains
This tax policy remains unchanged from the previous law, which stated that homeowners must live in their home for two out of the past five years in order to qualify for the exclusion.

“About 10 percent of home sellers last year sold their home after living in it between two and five years,” says Casey. “Keeping the status quo means these sellers no longer need to make that difficult choice, and can instead feel more free to list their home on a more flexible schedule without fear of a potentially hefty tax hit.”

The Senate bill proposed an increase to the residency requirement to five years of the past eight, but it did not pass to the final version.

“Today, homeownership is imperative for middle-class wealth-building and financial stability,” says Kirchner. “It allows people to invest in a long-term asset that pads their retirement savings, provides a safety net for unforeseen circumstances, and equity to back investment in education or small business. The survival of the capital gains exclusion means that the advantages of this type of investment will remain (except, of course, with regard to impact of changes to deductions).”

4. Deductibility on Home Equity Loans
The new law states that taxpayers will no longer be able to deduct interest paid on home equity loans beginning in 2018, unless the funds are being used to significantly improve the residence. This provision expires in 2026, when it reverts back to the previous cap of $100,000 of home equity debt.

“Deductible interest on home equity loans used to provide homeowners another layer of financial security by giving them the ability to obtain low-cost financing,” Kirchner says. “Now, without the ability to deduct interest, owners effectively will have to pay more for their loans, which could put downward pressure on the homeownership rate.”

Casey believes the removal of this homeownership incentive will not have a dramatic impact on the homeownership rate, but will affect home renovations instead.

“A lot of personal and economic factors matter more,” Casey says. “This deduction is more important for financing major home renovations, so eliminating this deduction could contribute to underinvestment in the housing stock, making it more difficult for struggling communities to reinvent themselves.”

5. Doubling of the Standard Deduction
In the previous law, the standard deduction for single taxpayers and married couples filing individually was $6,350. This amount is nearly doubled in the new law to $12,000. For married couples filing jointly, the previous standard deduction was $12,700, which has been increased to $24,000.

“A doubled standard deduction will have a big impact on how many homeowners ultimately decide to take advantage of the mortgage interest deduction,” says Casey. “When you combine a much larger standard deduction, with the fact that some itemized deductions have been capped or pared back, many filers may no longer find it financially advantageous to itemize deductions.”

He adds that according to Zillow’s calculations, under the current tax code, itemizing and claiming the mortgage interest deduction is financially worthwhile on an estimated 44 percent of all U.S. homes. In addition, under the new law, itemizing and claiming the MID is worthwhile on only 14.4 percent of homes nationwide.

“The doubling of the standard deduction changes the equation for homeownership incentives and essentially renders the mortgage interest rate deduction ineffective for the majority of owners,” says Kirchner. “Until now, most households did not itemize their deductions until they bought a home, which added significant tax benefits to ownership. Based on the changes to the standard deduction, this benefit will disappear for all but those homeowners who have mortgages in excess of $550,000, depending on what other deductions they have.”

Location and Timing
The impact, however, will largely be based on where taxpayers are located. Those in high-cost states may see the biggest changes in how they file, especially with the new $10,000 SALT limit. According to Zillow Research, 51 percent of Americans surveyed last year said they agree with the statement that “the property tax rate in my community is unfair to me.” These sentiments may rise in response to residents of high-tax burdened markets receiving a higher tax bill because of the new limit.

For example, Zillow analysis conducted for the Wall Street Journal states that a top income earner in New York, who owns in the top-third price range of the metro, pays an estimated $23,000 in property and state income tax every year, which is double the amount now allowed for deductions. The analysis also reported $10,000 in similar circumstances for Raleigh, N.C., and $12,000 for a Chicagoan. These are just a few areas where high-earning taxpayers would be adversely impacted by the new SALT deduction cap. According to a Wall Street Journal article, Moody’s Analytics estimates that 80 percent of counties across the country will see a negative impact on home prices in the summer of 2019.

Low-tax states, however, may benefit from the new tax code. According to the WSJ, parts of North Carolina, Alabama, Nebraska, Indiana and Tennessee may see boosts in their home prices and local economies. And the same Zillow analysis that surveyed high property and income taxes in other states says an individual in a similar financial situation would pay one-quarter of the amount in Nashville, Tenn. For those that have been on the fence about moving, the tax overhaul may be the deciding factor. But those who live in high-tax states may not see the negative impact from taxes as reason enough to leave their homes.

According to NAR research, here are the five metro areas that will be most affected by the new tax law (based on homes with mortgages valued over $750,000): 

  1. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif.
  2. San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, Calif.
  3. Santa Cruz-Watsonville, Calif.
  4. Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, Calif.
  5. Urban Honolulu, Hawaii

The top five metros based on share of owners that pay over $10,000 in real estate taxes:

  1. New York-Newark-Jersey City, N.Y., N.J., Pa.
  2. Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, Conn.
  3. Trenton, N.J. Metro Area
  4. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif.
  5. San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, Calif.

“Only 6 percent of homeowners have mortgages exceeding $750,000, and only 5 percent pay more than $10,000 in property taxes, but most homeowners won’t itemize under the new regime,” said NAR President Elizabeth Mendenhall in response to the bill’s passing. “While we’re pleased that important homeownership incentives such as the capital gains exclusion survived in conference, additional changes are required to truly incentivize homeownership in the tax code.”

Timing also plays a role. Many of the provisions in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, including individual tax cuts, expire in 2025 and therefore may lead to tax hikes in the future, according to the Distributional Analysis of the Conference Agreement for the TCJA by the Tax Policy Center. The report states that taxes would be reduced by $1,600 on average in 2018, increasing after-tax incomes by 2.2 percent; however, in 2025, the average tax cut as a share of after-tax income would decrease by 1.7 percent for most income groups.

“The tax bill decreases homeownership incentives, but these benefits are not the only factors in the homeownership decision,” Kirchner says. “In the short run, homebuyers can look forward to more money in their pocket that can be used for a down payment or larger home.”

He adds that cuts in government services and economic development programs, along with the rescinding of tax cuts for individuals in a few years and the impact of tax reform-induced deficit on inflation, will weaken the impact of the after-tax income boost on homeownership.

“The change definitely removes some of the federal government’s preferential treatment towards homeownership,” Casey says. “Ultimately, with these new reforms, households will be more likely to maximize their tax breaks with a standard deduction. And when someone uses the standard deduction, it doesn’t matter if they spent an extra $5,000 on a house, a boat or a vacation—the spending is treated the same when tax season comes.

“It will be interesting to see how the temporary nature of some of these tax cuts shake out,” says Casey. “Will those households on the edge of homeownership make decisions based on what their new take-home income is in February, or will there be some apprehension if they think their taxes will rise down the road?”

According to an NAR statement, “As a result of the changes made throughout the legislative process, NAR is now projecting slower growth in home prices of 1-3 percent in 2018 as low inventories continue to spur price gains; however, some local markets, particularly in high-cost, higher-tax areas, will likely see price declines as a result of the legislation’s new restrictions on mortgage interest and state and local taxes.”

Stay tuned to RISMedia for more developments.

Liz Dominguez is RISMedia’s associate content editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at ldominguez@rismedia.com.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Home-Buying in 2018: Purchase in the Winter or Wait Until Spring?

There are only a few days left in 2017, and if you’re looking for a house, you might be down to the wire. Should you go all in and purchase now or wait until the spring?

There are multiple things to consider before purchasing a house; location, square footage and style are just three of the many factors. Whether or not to buy a home during the winter or wait until the spring is something to consider, as well. Here are six reasons why it might be beneficial to buy before the flowers start to bloom.

homebuying2018
Search for Homes

You Face Less Competition in the Winter
Most Americans look for houses in the spring and buy in the summer. Approximately 50 percent of all homes are sold during the summer months. Why? Well, many people prefer to close on a home purchase and move when the children are out of school. That way, they’re established in the new house by the time the new school year starts. Many people also prefer to look when the weather is warmer and there is more daylight in the evening.

As a result, if you purchase in the winter, there will be less competition. Fewer buyers will be out there looking, so you’ll likely face less of a bidding war. Many people also want to close during the winter, as the spring market starts very early in the year.

Sellers Are Likely to Be Motivated
Because the majority of buyers purchase in the summer, sellers may be more motivated in the winter. This is especially true if they need to be out of the house due to a job relocation or other consideration with a specific time frame. A motivated seller is good news for a buyer. You can get them to sweeten the deal, either by coming down on the asking price or throwing in some goodies.

Does it look like the stove or refrigerator may need replacing soon, for example? You can ask the seller to purchase a new one as a condition of your purchase. The same goes for a number of other things you might have to upgrade or replace soon.

Interest Rates Are Likely to Rise Next Year
Interest rates, of course, have a large impact on your house payments. The higher the interest rate, the higher the payment will be. While the direction of interest rates is never certain, many observers think that interest rates will rise some time next year. The U.S. Federal Reserve, the government body that sets interest rates, meets several times per year. Not only that, but they meet multiple times a year and tend to hike interest rates in a strong economy to prevent inflation. They could raise interest rates several times next year. In other words, the sooner you buy, the lower the interest rate you can lock in is likely to be.

Housing Prices Are Climbing
In general, housing prices have been climbing steadily over the past several years in most areas of the country. That trend is expected to continue, fueled by the strong economy. If it does, housing prices are likely to be higher by the spring.

Each region and area varies, of course. It’s always wise to check the direction of housing prices in the location you want to buy in by contacting your real estate agent.

Inventory Shrinks in the Winter
Because fewer people look in the winter, many real estate agents and sellers act accordingly. They remove houses from the listing market in the winter, waiting for spring to come. There are approximately 10 percent fewer houses on the market in the winter.

You may have fewer housing options if you’re looking in the winter, but you can ask your real estate agent if they know of any homes that were on the market but withdrawn by sellers. If the sellers are planning on putting their homes on the market as spring approaches, you could be the early bird.

Should you purchase a home now or wait until it starts to get warmer outside? There are many things to think about. The decision depends on what is best for you and the home of your dreams. Happy hunting, in whatever year you choose!

Search for Homes

Editor’s Note: This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin’ now at blog.rismedia.com:

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Top Things Millennials Consider When Buying Their First Home

Dogs – It’s no secret that us millennials love our dogs. In a recent industry survey, research showed that millennials are now more likely to buy a home because they want a place for their dogs to run around rather than because of the birth of a child. In the top five list, more space for a dog fell at No. 3, with 33 percent of respondents answering such. The birth of a child was the fifth reason, with just 19 percent of respondents answering that way.

Millennials are factoring their pet’s needs when looking to buy a home. Top things we’re looking out for are homeowners associations that would restrict certain breeds and proximity to dog parks, as well as access to doggie daycare options.

Only more living space, 66 percent, and the opportunity to build equity, 36 percent, were noted by more millennials as reasons they bought their first home.

The industry survey also revealed that among millennials who have never purchased a home, 42 percent say that their dog—or the desire to have one—is a key factor in their desire to buy a home in the future.

Fixer-Upper – HGTV has the current state of the housing market to thank for the success of their many fixer-upper shows. It’s true that many millennials are looking for a fixer-upper as their first home because in most of places it’s a financial impossibility to put a down payment on anything else (this also explains the steady rise in renters in this country). Overcome with student debt and faced with less high-paying jobs after graduating, most people my age must either rent or move into a very small home. Fixer-uppers are becoming the third increasingly popular option.

Most millennials can’t afford much more than a small, basic house. Young and educated (and with home-flipping reruns on TV), millennials are open to investing in larger homes in questionable conditions because of the potential value that lies in them.

This year, Home Depot reported that same-store sales rose 6.3 percent, amid forecasts for just a 4.4 percent increase. The company attributes this to millennials who are buying their first home and tend to purchase houses that need repair and remodeling.

According to Houzz’s 2017 House and Home study, buyers who bought their first home in 2016 spent an average of $33,800 on renovations—a 22 percent increase over 2015.

Laundry Room – Year after year, surveys taken on millennials’ buying decisions point to the same thing. When looking for a first home, the No. 1 individual home feature we’re looking for is a separate laundry room. Across the board, millennials are willing to sacrifice comforts like a two-story foyer and extra square footage for a laundry room. And we have our reasons.

In a 2015 NAR survey, 55 percent of millennial respondents said they wouldn’t buy a new home that didn’t have a separate laundry room.

With laundry rooms being such a huge factor in millennials’ buying decisions, you may want to take a closer look at the way you’re presenting the laundry room in your listings. Focus on freshening it up and add more photos of it to your listing.

Eco-Friendly – This point may sound counter-intuitive to millennials’ desire for a fixer-upper, but making a home more attractive to us millennials with a few green features doesn’t have to cost a fortune. When viewing a house, seeing simple things like LED lighting, solar panels and double-paned windows instantly make a property more attractive to us. Not only is energy efficiency trendy, but it will help millennials save money in the long run on power bills—not to mention our generation is very focused on reducing our carbon footprint.

If you want to catch the attention of the growing millennial market, showcase how eco-friendly the property is. Make sure that there’s a high-speed internet connection, and, if not, research an alternative.

Being green is incredibly important to many millennials, so you have leverage when advising the seller to invest in solar panels or replacing appliances that aren’t energy-efficient. Also, be ready to show off the outdoor living space.

Voice-recognized smart home devices from major tech companies are taking over home features. Demonstrate ways that the home can be fully automated with the right products and efforts. Consider featuring safety devices like doorbell cameras that are connected via a smartphone app, as well as smart thermostats, which are slowly becoming the norm.

Jameson Doris is RISMedia’s blog and social media editor. Email him your real estate news ideas at jdoris@rismedia.com. Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2017. All rights reserved.

First-Time Homebuyers: Your Time Is Now

Fall is for first-timers.

Seventy of the top 100 largest metropolitan areas see more starter homes on-market in October, November and December, relieving prices 4.8 percent over spring, according to the recently released Trulia Inventory and Price Watch. The most dramatic shifts—in favor of first-time homebuyers.

“Housing markets have long been plagued by tight inventory and worsening affordability, but it’s not completely hopeless for would-be homeowners,” says Cheryl Young, senior economist at Trulia. “The seasonal swings in listings and prices means buyers will likely find more homes for sale at a lower price in the fall and winter months.”

Make no mistake: The housing market is still in a squeeze. Entry-level home inventory sank 20.4 percent year-over-year over the summer, while move-up home inventory shrunk 12.5 percent. Even luxury homes were at a shortage, down 2.3 percent. First-time homebuyers were forced to shell out 39.7 percent of their monthly earnings for a starter home.

The change of season, still, could usher in more opportunities.

“Starter homebuyers should begin looking now,” Young says. “The fall season provides a great opportunity for finding the right home and neighborhood, thanks to a bump in homes for sale on the market, followed by lower winter prices.”

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

Suzanne De Vita is RISMedia’s online news editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at sdevita@rismedia.com.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2017. All rights reserved.

7 Easy Ways to Watch Your Credit Scores Soar

On the widely used FICO credit score scale, only one in 200 consumers reaches the pinnacle: a score of 850 – a score that has lenders fighting for your business and nets you the best possible interest rates on everything from automobiles  to mortgage loans.

In fact, according to Fair Isaac, the company behind the FICO score ratings, consumers who achieve a score of 750 or more are excellent candidates for favorable treatment.

But paying your bills on time and carrying no balances may not be enough to catapult your score to desired levels. Consumer finance experts at The Motley Fool offer simple tips that can help boost your scores into the stratosphere:

Ask for increased credit limits – Not because you plan to use them, but because the higher your credit limits, the less likely you are to use more than 30 percent of your aggregate credit, which is what lenders look for when they judge credit-worthiness.

Ask for lower interest rates – If you are carrying a balance, a lower interest rate can save you big bucks and help you pay it off faster – and if you pay on time each month, a request for a lower rate is granted more often than not by lenders who want to keep your business.

Keep 0-balance accounts open – Some consumers think that closing paid-off accounts will help your credit score. In fact, accounts in good standing that are left open for an extended period can help your overall score. Use them once or twice a year to ensure they stay open and aren’t closed by your lender for lack of use.

Open new accounts only when it makes sense – People with good credit are constantly offered more credit. Open a new account only for a large purchase you expect to pay off quickly. Don’t open a store account to save a few bucks on a small purchase.

Focus on revolving debt first – If you carry balances, remember that revolving debt, such as department store credit cards, charge the highest interest rates – and FICO notes what kind of debt you carry.

 Check your FICO score annually – You can do so for free from each of the three credit reporting bureaus. Failing to check them annually risks not discovering errors before your scores are adversely affected.

By Barbara Pronin

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2017. All rights reserved.

How to Find a House Today

This year may be the most difficult in a decade to buy a home, especially for a first-time homebuyer. Prices are soaring in most markets, and for affordable starter homes, the price is rising faster than larger homes.* Supplies are suffering from a three-year inventory drought that also is hitting starter homes hardest. The number of starter and trade-up homes fell 8.7 percent and 7.9 percent, respectively, during the past year, while the inventory of premium homes has fallen by just 1.7 percent, according to Ralph McLaughlin, Trulia’s chief economist.*

There’s little leeway for mistakes in today’s marketplace. Discipline is essential, and the learning curve is stepped. Buying a home is serious business, and in most markets today, it is the most difficult step in the process for move-up buyers, as well as first-timers.

Here are five tips on house-hunting in today’s marketplace that will put you ahead of the competition and may spell the difference between success and failure.

Hire a specialist. If you had a serious medical condition, you would seek advice and treatment from a medical specialist. Real estate is also a large and complex field. Many brokers and agents specialize in delivering better service to their clients and customers. If you’re serious about finding a home today, hire a REALTOR® who specializes in serving buyers. Look for one with the designation ABR after their name. It stands for Accredited Buyer’s Representative and means that they are REALTORS® who have received specialized training from the Real Estate Buyer’s Agent Council (REBAC) and have experience representing buyers. Even if you don’t hire a specialist, you should hire a REALTOR®. Not all agents are REALTORS®; REALTORS® are members of the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) who are licensed and abide by NAR’s Code of Ethics. Hiring a REALTOR® with an ABR designation won’t cost you anything, and a professional’s assistance could make all the difference. Above all, don’t try to go it alone today. Last year nearly 90 percent of successful buyers used an agent.**

Don’t start your search until you are ready. It’s a good idea to spend some time online surfing real estate sites and learning about real estate and checking out what’s available; however, you aren’t a serious buyer until you have done all you can to improve your credit, raised the money you need for a down payment, been pre-approved for a mortgage from at least one lender and hired an agent

Make a budget and stick to it. The amount for which your lender pre-approves you is not your budget. Your pre-approved amount is conditional and can change when you apply for a mortgage. Moreover, it does not include many of the other costs of homeownership, like taxes, home insurance and maintenance. Sit down with your agent, make your budget and stick to it. As a rule of thumb, economists recommend you spend no more than 30 percent of your gross income on housing costs. Make a pledge to yourself to stick to your budget. There are few heartaches worse than falling in love with a house you can’t afford or stretching yourself so thin that you are “house poor” for years to come.

House hunt every day. Looking for a house in today’s market is like having a second job. Financially, finding the right home may be even more important to you than a second job. The outcome of your search will determine where you live and how much you spend on housing for years to come. Be proactive with your agent to learn as much as you can about the home-buying process and conditions in your market. Spend time every day reviewing listings and learning about neighborhoods. Drive the neighborhoods in which you are interested and go to open houses to get a feel for the market and to meet listing agents who may have a home that meets your criteria. Check out “coming soon” listings to get a head start on the competition.

Use a selection of sites. Most buyers start their house search on one of the major national real estate sites like realtor.com®, Zillow or Homes.com. These sites have great features, research and how-to material. As you get more serious about finding a house, increase your selection of sites to include your local multiple listing services, if yours has a consumer site with listings (not all do). Also, bookmark several of the leading local brokerages in your market. Listings may appear earlier on a local brokerage site than a national site, and often updated information like contracts or price changes are posted first on the site of the listing broker who represents the property. Sign up for email updates of listings that fit your criteria.

Be flexible. You may find that you cannot afford to live where you would like, or you can’t afford the size or amenities you want. If those are deal-breakers for you, you may not be ready to buy in your market today—or you might revisit your plans and decide to live a little farther out from the city, buying an older house that you can improve over time. Starting out in a condo might be an acceptable alternative. Chances are prices in your market are not going to decline, and by buying now, you will begin to accumulate equity. Though mortgage rates have risen over the past year, they are still very reasonable by historical standards, which means that the odds are they will continue to rise, rather than fall, in the future. Expand the geography and price ranges on the websites you are using and see what you find.

Sweeten your offer. When you find a house on which you want to make an offer, ask your agent for a comparative market analysis (CMA) to determine its value. Don’t rely on the estimated values provided by valuation tools on real estate sites. Knowing the value is important not just for deciding how much to offer, but also to anticipate how much the house will appraise for. CMAs are based on recent sales of comparable properties, similar to appraisals. Chances are you will be competing with other buyers, including investors who pay all cash. Sellers are not only looking for the best price; they also want an offer that will close on time from a buyer whose financing won’t fall through. Consider sweetening your offer by increasing your down payment and getting more than one pre-approval. Be flexible on considerations like renting back if the owner is a move-up buyer who may need time to find a new home. If you are a move-up buyer, sell your current home before you buy a new one. Most sellers react negatively to offers that are contingent upon a buyer first selling his current home.

Don’t lose your deal. About 23 percent of contracts on homes today have a delayed settlement, and 7 percent of contracts fail to close and are terminated. The leading causes for delayed settlements are issues related to obtaining financing and appraisal issues. Among contracts that were terminated, 25 percent faced issues related to home inspections, and 20 percent had issues related to the buyer’s ability to obtain financing.*** One way to improve your odds for financing is to get more than one pre-approval so that you are ready to talk to a second lender if your first application fails. Most appraisal issues result from appraisals that come in lower than the contract price and buyers must come up with more cash. One way to protect against a low appraisal is to know the value of the house before you make an offer and make a larger down payment than you have to.

Persistence pays off. Don’t despair if a seller selects another offer over yours. Learn from your experiences. A better home may come on the market tomorrow. Last year buyers searched for an average of 10 weeks and looked at a median of 10 homes**, but that’s just a national average for all buyers. If you are a first-time buyer in a hot market, expect your hunt to take longer. Don’t quit when the weather turns cold. Fall and winter can be good times to find a home. There are fewer listings than in the spring or summer, but there’s also less competition, and sellers are usually more motivated.

* McLaughlin, Ralph. (2017, May 22) Don’t Call It a Comeback: How Rising Home Values May Be Stifling Inventory. Retrieved from www.trulia.com/blog/trends/inventory-q117/

** 2016 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers. National Association of REALTORS®.

*** REALTORS® Confidence Index: Report on March 2017 Survey. National Association of REALTORS®. Retrieved from www.nar.realtor/sites/default/files/reports/2017/2017-03-realtors-confidence-index-04-21-2017.pdf.

By Steve Cook, Real Estate Economy Watch

 

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2017. All rights reserved.

Larry Theodore

Century 21 American Homes would like to congratulate Larry Theodore – Licensed broker associate – Farmingdale.

Larry Theodore

Larry was recently honored at the Century 21 Awards Banquet for being the top-producing Century 21 real estate agent in the New York metro region for 2016, as well as one of the top 21 agents in Century 21 Worldwide.

Source: Newsday.com

Larry was also featured recently in Top Agent Magazine. The article captures Larry’s early days as an entrepreneur at the age of 13 with his very own landscaping business. Larry learned the value of hard work from his grandfather, he gives his all in each of his 100+ transactions done every year.

Source: TopAgentMagazine.com

Larry was again featured in Newsday’s Hometown Shopper as Merchant of The Week.

Larry’s hard work and dedication to his clients inspires all of us.

To learn more about Larry Theodore, visit LarryTheodore.com, e-mail ltheodore@c21amhomes.com, or call 516-859-8738.

For Your To-Do List: Buy a Home

If you’re not planning on buying a home any time soon, perhaps you should be. Just over half (54 percent) of Americans say they are likely to buy a home in the next five years – up 12 percent from last year – according to the 2017 BMO Harris Bank Homebuyers Report. In addition, Americans surveyed will average a 32 percent down payment.

The report, conducted by Pollara, also found that:

– Among likely first-time buyers, 80 percent plan to get preapproved for a mortgage before making an offer and 10 percent are already preapproved.

– Around four-in-five will set a budget before looking for a home.

– The majority (65 percent) of those looking to buy a new home will consult a real estate agent, while 61 percent said they will visit online real estate websites and 38 percent will seek recommendations from friends and family.

The benefits of homeownership are many, but among the most significant are:

– Owning a home is a secure long-term investment.

– Tax deductions make homeownership a much smarter financial path than renting.

– When you own a home, you are free to do with it as you see fit – paint, remodel, add-on and personalize to your heart’s content.

According to the report, 70 percent of American homeowners spent six months or less looking for a new home before they made a purchase. In addition, 10 percent bought their home without participating in an active real estate search – or even any plan to buy at all – because a specific property caught their attention.

The report also found that Millennials (the generation born between 1982 and 2004) are more likely to use a mobile device as a resource to help in their home search (37 percent). In addition, Millennials are more likely than older age groups to rely on recommendations from friends and family (45 percent) when conducting a home search.

Source: BMO Harris Bank

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2017. All rights reserved.

Mortgage Rates Bottom to New Low

Mortgage rates this week bottomed to a new low for the year, with the 30-year, fixed rate averaging 3.94 percent, according to Freddie Mac’s recently released Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®). The 15-year, fixed rate, at the same time, averaged 3.19 percent, while the 5-year, Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable rate averaged 3.11 percent.

modern yellow detached house in the suburbs

modern yellow detached house in the suburbs

“In a short week following Memorial Day, the 10-year Treasury yield fell four basis points,” says Sean Beckett, chief economist at Freddie Mac. “The 30-year mortgage rate remained relatively flat, falling one basis point to 3.94 percent and once again hitting a new 2017 low.”

Source: Freddie Mac

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

The post Mortgage Rates Bottom to New Low appeared first on RISMedia.

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Elmhurst, NY 11373

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Wantagh, NY 11793

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East Meadow, NY 11554

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Fresh Meadows, NY 11366

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Syosset, NY 11791

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Lynbrook, NY 11563

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Oceanside, NY 11572

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Long Beach, NY 11561

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Levittown, NY 11756

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Merrick, NY 11566

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Farmingdale, NY 11735

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Franklin Square, NY 11010

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Westbury, NY 11590

516.334.4333

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