Four Trends Will Shape the Housing Market in 2017

By: Kathleen Beck, Mortgage Lender

CA BRE #01058848  |  NMLS #243181

It doesn’t take much reflecting on 2016 to understand that 2017 will find creative ways to surprise us. Knowing the complexity of the market I want to break down what we can expect to see shape our buyers market for 2017 and also combine that with what Realtor.com annual market study to draw a picture of the key housing trends to come.

According to Jonathon Smoke, Chief Economists of Realtor.com, “The pace of growth is still strong and, for pricing, still represents an above-average level of appreciation.”

Key 2017 Predictions:

The West Will Lead the Way

Realtor.com expects metropolitan markets in the West to see price increase of up to 5.8% and sales increase of 4.7%. The Western markets also are dominating the 2017 Realtor.com Top Housing Markets, including Sacramento, Los Angeles, Tuscan and Portland.

Millennials and Baby-Boomers Will Move Markets

Both millennials and baby boomers are approaching life stages that naturally motivate people to change their living experiences such as, getting married, buying a home, having children, empty nesting and retiring. Jonathon Smoke predicts that millennials will make up 33% of buyers in 2017.

Slowing Down Price Appreciation

Home price increases are forecasted to slow from what was forecasted at 4.9% in 2016 to 3.9%. “Prices are still likely to go up at an above-average pace as long as supply remains so tight,” Smoke says.

Fast Markets with Fewer Homes

The average time it takes a home to move from “listed” to “sold”, is currently 68 days in the top 100 metropolitan areas. That average age of inventory (68 days) is 11 days faster than the national average. The conditions limiting home supply are not expected to change in 2017.

The number one thing I recommend for all my clients is to get your documents in order and lets talk about what the market is doing and when would be best for them to buy. Everyone’s timeline is different and making sure you feel comfortable with both what the market is doing and also what you want your financial future to looks like are always my top two priorities.

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3 New Year Resolutions for Future Homeowners

As the holidays swirl and the New Year is just around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about your new years resolutions. If buying a home is on your list of 2017 goals, it’s the right time to start creating resolutions that direct you to accomplishing that milestone of home ownership.

Here are some great New Years resolutions to focus on in 2017 to help make your goals a reality in the New Year.

Check and Raise Your Credit Score

Being familiar with your credit score and history is one of the biggest factors mortgage brokers and banks will look at when determining whether or not to lend to you. Starting with a free online credit report provider and analyzing your score is the beginning to finding ways to raise your current credit. If your credit score is lower than you’d like don’t panic. It is always a good time to start taking easy steps to improve your credit.

Tips to Raising Your Credit Score:

  • Pay your bills on time
  • Pay credit cards down to 1/3 of the high limit each of your credit cards
  • Pay off your credit balances every month

Organize the Documents Needed to Purchase a Home

Having the documents and forms need to complete the home buying and mortgage process can help your entire transaction run smoother and also help you get a better sense of where you stand in terms of loan qualifications.

Documents to Start Gather:

  • Tax returns for the past two years
  • W-2 income statements
  • Two most recent pay stubs
  • Most recent credit-card statements
  • Most recent bank and investment account statements
  • Divorce decrees and child support documents

Get a Pre-Approval

A pre-approval means a legitimate financial institution has looked into your financial background and determined what you qualify for, letting real estate brokers and sellers know that you’re the real deal. Regardless of where you stand on the map to homeownership, connecting with a trusted mortgage professional should be at the top. Understanding what steps are needed to get you from point A to point B can provide a sense of ease during this process. More importantly, knowing what your home buying budget is changes the entire buying experience and also gives you leverage to move forward if you do walk into the home of your dreams over the weekend.

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10 Rules For Today’s New Home Buyers

Over the past few decades the housing market has gone through a boom and a bust, followed by an insane decade of home-price escalation, wide-scale under-financing, and subprime lending. Today, many homebuyers are stepping into the real estate arena for the first time and they are wondering where they fall in the home buying “market” cycle.

Many clients ask me what advise or “rules” I give buyers based on my experience of the ever-changing market. Here are some rules for homebuyers looking to make the transition to homeowner.

  1. Research and learn about the area the home is in that you are interested in buying. Talk to the neighbors. You’re not just buying a house, you’re buying a neighborhood.
  2. Put down 20% of the purchase price if possible to avoid mortgage insurance.
  3. Keep extensive financial records, and be patient throughout the entire process.
  4. Don’t overpay for a house you can’t really afford expecting the market to appreciate.
  5. Less home can actually mean more money in your pockets.
  6. Actively manage your credit and shoot for a score above 750.
  7. Plan to stay in your home as long as possible.
  8. Budget for all the costs of homeownership not just the monthly mortgage payment. Calculate funds for property taxes, insurance, upkeep, and even emergency home repair)
  9. Feel out your job and the security you have within your role with the company. Also look into your companies industry and make sure you don’t foresee any fluctuation in the market industry that could alter your employment.
  10. Connect with a trusted lender and work patiently and closely with them to ensure your financially side of the transaction is not only inline for the success of your offer, but also for the success of your family’s financial future.

I am always available to help interested homebuyers learn more about where they stand financially and how they can transition smoothly into home ownership.

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Millennial Buyers to Transform the 2017 Real Estate Market

Every year realtor.com® does an annual survey of home buyers to compile data on home-buying trends. According to their 2016 findings, more than half of all homes next year will be bought by first-time home buyers, and the survey states most of those buyers will be millennials.

  • In 2016 33% of home buyers were first-time buyers
  • In 2017 52% of home buyers were first-time buyers
  • In 2017 61% of first-time buyers will be under age 35.

Jonathan Smoke, chief economist for realtor.com® said, “This represents an ‘Oh, shift’ moment in housing. With so many first-time buyers in the market, competition will be even fiercer next year for affordable starter homes in the suburbs. Those looking to buy may want to consider a winter home purchase in order to avoid bidding wars and higher prices spurred by a potential increase in millennial buyers.”

Millennial First Time Home Buyer Focus:

  • Safety
  • Privacy
  • More Space
  • Indoor and outdoor space

Millennials’ Top Reasons for Buying:

  • Moving in with a partner
  • Getting married
  • Growing tired of their current living space
  • planning an addition or two to their family

Millennial Buyers Prefer:

  • Single-family homes (39%)
  • Townhomes (34%)
  • Multifamily homes (15%)
  • Condos (10%)

If you are a millennial thinking about buying in the near future, or just someone who wants to beat the millennial rush, we should sit down and talk about what you are looking for and how your financing can be lined up to meet your home buying needs.

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Colder Months Equal Better Home Prices for Buyers

As the temperature drops and we all brace for the winter, there are major advantages to finding the home of your dreams during the cold season.

During the warmer seasons there tends to be an increase in inventory on the market but with that increase comes a hefty increase in price and contract competition. More buyers are looking and when it comes time to put an offer in, chances are you are not the only buyer interested.

Research has found that by home hunting during the colder months, buyers are more likely to find that prices have dropped and competition has also lowered.

  • Sale prices decrease in the autumn months
  • In the 50 metro areas, home sale prices dropped 2.96% on average (that’s a drop of $8,300 on the median home)
  • Home sale prices are usually lowest in winter

When discussing winter buyers, Jonathan Smoke, Chief Economist of Realtor.com outlined “You have 50%-60% more inventory relative to the number of buyers, so there’s basically more options per buyer, and that translates into less competition.”

We found that NerdWallet backed up Smoke’s statements with data on how home prices usually bottom out in the winter months, providing an opportunity to save money.

The main advantages of less competition translates into lower home prices allowing buyers the opportunity for a lower down payment. During traditional market peak months, there tends to be more inventory on the market but with that inventory, buyers pay a higher premium.

We find that buying a home really depends on when you as a buyer are comfortable and prepared and that time is different for every buyer. When the numbers are crunched, winter statistically is the best opportunity for buyers as competition tends to fall away.

The best thing for all interested in purchasing a home is to connect with an experienced Loan Officer and discuss the home buying process. Every buyer has different needs and sitting down and discussing your home buying goals are is the best first step.

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Avoid These Mortgage Mistakes

Buying a home is an exciting process. If done following my simple process, you could save time and money and potentially avoid some serious mistakes along the way.

Shopping For Your Home Before Shopping For Your Mortgage

This is often times the easiest thing for home buyers to miss. It is so easy to start viewing homes and make an estimated guess on what you can afford. This is actually the biggest time waster when it comes to home buying.

I always recommend to get pre-approved before looking. Don’t waste one minute of your time shopping for a home that is outside your price range. Not only does it waste your valuable time but it also can be an emotional process if you get attached to property outside your price range. I always advice my clients to start working with me three to six months before they start the  home buying process.  This will give us time to check your credit and put together a game plan if you need to improve your credit like paying down the right debt and removing possible errors on your credit report.

 Make sure you consider ALL your spending habits

When I work with borrowers, we review their credit report and their spending habits, including their disposable income (i.e. hobbies, habits and other items that will affect your bottom line when being lent to). Things such as golfing on weekends, shopping at the outlets, everything comes into play when deciding your mortgage affordability.

You don’t want to eliminate all the fun you have when you are looking to buy a home but I always recommend digging into spending and making decisions on which items will potentially make it more difficult to make your mortgage payments and also which items are important to your quality of life.

Failing to Review Disclosures and Other Important Documents Completely

I am always available to my clients to review documents and disclosures that may seem complicated or confusing to them as it may be their first time in the home buying process. Every time new disclosures are released it is vital that you review them in depth and feel comfortable with any changes that may be taking place. It literally can cost you money when you don’t review them completely and see minor changes that will ultimately be brought up at closing but could be better understood earlier the process.

Since 2015 there are two primary documents you want to make sure you pay close attention to.

  1. Loan Estimate

What to look for:

  • The total cost of the loan or the APR.
  • Cash to close.
  • Loan terms
  • Mortgage rate
  • Monthly payment
  1. Closing Disclosure

What to look for:

  • Did you receive the Closing Disclosure three days prior to close?
  • Does the Closing Disclosure match the loan estimate?
  • Are the interest rate and the APR the same?

When I am working with my borrowers it is vital that they understand each step of the process and also avoid making these mistakes. If you are interested in learning more about the mortgage process or are thinking about buying a home and want to make sure you don’t waste your valuable time, give me a call to discuss your mortgage needs.

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Understanding Mortgage Rate Locks

Mortgage rates locked down / fixed concept

Understanding Mortgage Rates Locks

There is no reason any buyer should settle for anything less than the lowest rate possible. But understanding how rates work and also that sometimes the best price on a loan isn’t always the best rate on a loan. Let’s understand how you can get the best possible overall terms and how that affects your mortgage rate.

Mortgage Rate Locks

A mortgage rate lock occurs when a mortgage lender makes a commitment to honor a specific interest rate for a specific period of time. Mortgage rate locks are stated in 15-day increments with the two most common rate lock periods at 30 days and 45 days. Usually, the longer a lender has to lock your rate the higher your mortgage rate. Rates should be locked for the number of days required to close your purchase or refinance your loan.

Here are important guiding principles when understanding mortgage rate locks.

  • Always get your rate lock agreement in writing
  • Understand your rate lock policy
  • Ask about rate-lock fees

All borrowers needs a rate lock in order to close their loan or refinance.

Mortgage Rate Lock Expiration

When a mortgage rate expires lenders are under no obligation to the original locked rate.

A rate lock extension can be acquired and is exactly what it sounds like, an extension to the original rate lock. The terms of the extension are agreed upon by the lender and the borrower and come at an expense leading to the importance of choosing your rate lock terms wisely.

If mortgage rates rise or drop, you don’t have the ability to get a new rate.

Floating Your Mortgage Rate

Prior to closing, if you chose to float your rate, you are assigned a mortgage rate at the prevailing market rate of that particular day. This can be risky as the unknown and availability of rates can fluctuate.

It is always important to make sure you are working with someone who you trust and is a great communicator. Understanding what rates are available to you and what your home buying or refinancing timeline is can play a huge role in your monthly payments. Ask as many questions as you can and make sure you are confident when you make the decision to lock, extend or float your mortgage rate.

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I hate to keep harping on you, but…

good-news

Get it, HARPing?  Corny, I know but it is exciting news and I really want you to know!  I first told you about the government’s HARP (Home Affordable Refinance Program) and how amazing it is for underwater homeowners.  The program was set to end in December but it has now been extended.

Homeowners who owe more than their home is worth will get another shot at shoring up their finances under a new streamlined refinance option announced today.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency said today that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will be offering a new refinance plan beginning in October 2017.

It was also announced that HARP is being extended until Sept. 30, 2017. We had been expecting the Home Affordable Refinance Program to expire in December.

The eligibility criteria with HARP is that the loan had to be originated before June 1, 2009, to qualify. But there is no such cutoff date under the new refinance option that begins later next year. Other main differences: The new option is expected to be more sustainable going forward, and homeowners can use it to refinance more than once.

More than 300,000 homeowners across the U.S. are still eligible to refinance under HARP.
Call me today to find out if you qualify.  I love to help!

new publicity shot kathleen beckKathleen Beck, Mortgage Lender
916.722.0395 direct
Kathleen@BeckHomeLoanPro.com / http://www.BeckHomeLoanPro.com
West Coast Mortgage Group
CA BRE# 01058848 / NMLS#243181

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Is the right time?

Young couple thinking and looking at a laptop computer

The mortgage checks most homeowners write every month serve as a regular reminder for them to look into potentially refinancing their mortgages at a lower rate.

If that’s not enough of a reminder, the mortgage industry is one of the biggest advertisers around, pushing the supposed ease of refinancing with online “speedy mortgages” and the like. But before you decide to pursue a refi, ask yourself:

How long do you plan to stay in the house?

The old rule of thumb was that you need to be there for at least two to three years to justify the costs of obtaining the new loan – but, each situation is different and you really have to run the numbers. In the current low-rate environment, the old rules may not apply because most existing mortgage interest rates are so low in the first place. While you may plan to stay in your house forever, ask yourself, if your income or job situation changed, or if a family emergency were to arise, would you need to move?

How long you plan to stay is a key factor affecting whether the interest rate on your new loan is low enough to justify the costs and trouble of refinancing. Another perspective: How many months of savings on the reduced mortgage payment resulting from the refi would it take to earn back the expenses of the new loan?

For many, the answer today is many months – perhaps more months than you want to have a mortgage, considering that your present mortgage would generally be paid off much sooner than the new one. Before the 2007-2008 financial crisis, 30-year fixed-mortgage rates were in the 5- to 6-percent range. So in the last five years or so, almost anyone with good credit and equity who took out a mortgage in the previous decade was able to refinance their rate down by as much as two percentage points, resulting in a substantial savings in monthly payments.

But in today’s low-rate environment, with many existing mortgages set at a rate not much higher than 4 percent, this kind of rate reduction isn’t possible. So there’s not as much room for a substantial savings in your monthly payment.

You should view these savings through the lens of the seven to nine years Americans typically stay in their homes. Of course, how much of a difference a refi would make depends on when you got your mortgage, how big it was, and the rate you could get now with your income and credit. In the past, when rates were higher, it usually made sense to refi if you could shave two percentage points off your interest rate. You can do the math with one of the many online mortgage calculators available.

One way to improve your rate, even when prevailing rates aren’t declining, is to change from a 30-year mortgage to a 15-year loan. Rates on these shorter mortgages tend to be lower, but this will probably increase your payment. However, you will pay off your mortgage much sooner, saving a lot of interest and potentially freeing up this money for paying expenses during retirement.

If you had to move unexpectedly, could you cover the new mortgage payments by renting out the house?

You may not want to be in the rental business, but you never know what life will bring. You could lose your job and find a new one in another area, or you might have to move for family reasons. Selling homes quickly isn’t easy – even in the best of markets and locales – because real estate is an illiquid asset and takes time to sell.

I have a client who had a strong bias against renting her house, but after making a year and a half of payments on an empty house, all the while having to pay the mortgage on her new home, her anti-renting bias evaporated. At that point, she was willing to do anything to cover the payments and stop hemorrhaging money needlessly. Having an honest discussion with yourself could save a lot of anguish and cash down the road.

So before you refi, it’s a good idea to compare rents for comparable dwellings in your neighborhood to the new mortgage payment. If there’s a shortfall, you might want to reconsider refinancing. Sure, your new mortgage payment might be less than what you’re paying on your current loan. But you’ve already paid the costs for that loan. If you can’t cover the mortgage with the rent, the difference would put you that much further in the hole.

Are the homes in your neighborhood increasing in value?

If not, refinancing would mean extending your commitment of indebtedness in a neighborhood that may not deliver the appreciation needed to justify getting a new loan.
How much will any cash that you’d have to put down on the new loan lower your cash reserves?

Homeowners need good cash reserves to maintain the property, do repairs and make mortgage payments in case of job or income loss. Significantly lowering these reserves just to save a little every month on your mortgage payment generally isn’t a good idea, given the cost of money and the inability of people in dire straits to get loans. These cash reserves are critical for maintaining your home and protecting your investment in it. So it’s important to know how much – by what percentage – these costs would lower your cash reserves.
What’s the condition of your home?

When will it need a new roof, air conditioner, hot water heater or appliances? When will it need exterior repairs or painting? Are there any deferred maintenance issues that might soon arise, causing you to spend your cash on hand? If so, you should think twice before giving that money to the mortgage company for a refinance. Make sure you have a plan to cover repairs until you can replenish the cash reserves they might consume.

By asking yourself these five questions and exploring the nuances of the answers, you can constructively explore the issue of whether it’s a good idea to seek refinancing.

Better yet, give me a call.  We can go over all your options.  I love to help!

new publicity shot kathleen beckKathleen Beck, Mortgage Lender
916.722.0395 direct
Kathleen@BeckHomeLoanPro.com
West Coast Mortgage Group
CA BRE#01058848 / NMLS#243181

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