Western Massachusetts Real Estate and Community News

Sept. 28, 2022

How an Expert Can Help You Understand Inflation & Mortgage Rates

How an Expert Can Help You Understand Inflation & Mortgage Rates

If you’re following today’s housing market, you know two of the top issues consumers face are inflation and mortgage rates. Let’s take a look at each one.

Inflation and the Housing Market

This year, inflation reached a high not seen in forty years. For the average consumer, you probably felt the pinch at the gas pump and in the grocery store. It may have even impacted your ability to save money to buy a home.

While the Federal Reserve is working hard to lower inflation, the August data shows the inflation rate was still higher than expected. This news impacted the stock market and fueled conversations about a recession. It also played a role in the Federal Reserve’s decision to raise the Federal Funds Rate last week. As Bankrate says:

“. . . the Fed has raised rates again, announcing yet another three-quarter-point hike on September 21 . . . The hikes are designed to cool an economy that has been on fire. . .”

While their actions don’t directly dictate what happens with mortgage rates, their decisions have contributed to the intentional cooldown in the housing market. A recent article from Fortune explains:

“As the Federal Reserve moved into inflation-fighting mode, financial markets quickly put upward pressure on mortgage rates. Those elevated mortgage rates . . . coupled with sky-high home prices, threw cold water onto the housing boom.”

The Impact on Rising Mortgage Rates

Over the past few months, mortgage rates have fluctuated in light of growing economic pressures. Most recently, the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate according to Freddie Mac ticked above 6% for the first time in well over a decade (see graph below):

How an Expert Can Help You Understand Inflation & Mortgage Rates | Keeping Current Matters

The mortgage rate increases this year are the big reason buyer demand has pulled back in recent months. Basically, as rates (and home prices) rose, so did the cost of buying a home. That pushed on affordability and priced some buyers out of the market, so home sales slowed and the inventory of homes for sale grew as a result.

Where Experts Say Rates and Inflation Will Go from Here

Moving forward, both of these factors will continue to impact the housing market. A recent article from CNET puts the relationship between inflation and mortgage rates in simple terms:

“As a general rule, when inflation is low, mortgage rates tend to be lower. When inflation is high, rates tend to be higher.”

Sam Khater, Chief Economist at Freddie Mac, has this to say about where rates may go from here:

“Mortgage rates remained volatile due to the tug of war between inflationary pressures and a clear slowdown in economic growth. The high uncertainty surrounding inflation and other factors will likely cause rates to remain variable, . . .”

While there’s no way to say with certainty where mortgage rates will go from here, there is something you can do to stay informed, and that’s connect with a trusted real estate advisor. They keep their pulse on what’s happening today and help you understand what the experts are projecting. They can provide you with the best advice possible.

Bottom Line

Rising inflation and higher mortgage rates have had a clear impact on housing. For expert insights on the latest trends in the housing market and what they mean for you, lean on a trusted real estate professional.

Sept. 26, 2022

The True Strength of Homeowners Today

The True Strength of Homeowners Today

The real estate market is on just about everyone’s mind these days. That’s because the unsustainable market of the past two years is behind us, and the difference is being felt. The question now is, just how financially strong are homeowners throughout the country? Mortgage debt grew beyond 10 trillion dollars over the past year, and many called that a troubling sign when it happened for the first time in history.

Recently Odeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist at First American, answered that question when she said:

“U.S. households own $41 trillion in owner-occupied real estate, just over $12 trillion in debt, and the remaining ~$29 trillion in equity. The national “LTV” in Q2 2022 was 29.5%, the lowest since 1983.”

She continued on to say:

“Homeowners had an average of $320,000 in inflation-adjusted equity in their homes in Q2 2022, an all-time high.”

What Is LTV?

The term LTV refers to loan to value ratio. For more context, here’s how the Mortgage Reports defines it:

“Your ‘loan to value ratio’ (LTV) compares the size of your mortgage loan to the value of the home. For example: If your home is worth $200,000, and you have a mortgage for $180,000, your LTV ratio is 90% — because the loan makes up 90% of the total price.

You can also think about LTV in terms of your down payment. If you put 20% down, that means you’re borrowing 80% of the home’s value. So your LTV ratio is 80%.”

Why Is This Important?

This is yet another reason we won’t see the housing market crash. Home equity allows homeowners to be in control. For example, if someone did need to sell their home, they likely have the equity they need to be able to sell it and still put money in their pocket. This was not the case back in 2008, when many owed more on their homes than they were worth.

Bottom Line

Homeowners today have more financial strength than they have had since 1983. This is a combination of how homeowners have handled equity since the crash and rising home prices of the last two years. And this is yet another reason homeownership in any market makes sense.

Sept. 23, 2022

What Experts Say Will Happen with Home Prices Next Year

What Experts Say Will Happen with Home Prices Next Year

Experts are starting to make their 2023 home price forecasts. As they do, most agree homes will continue to gain value, just at a slower pace. Over the past couple of years, home prices have risen at an unsustainable rate, leaving many to wonder how long it would last. If you’re asking yourself: what’s ahead for the price of my home, know that experts are now answering this question, and its welcome news for homeowners who may have been led by the media to believe their home would lose value.

Historically, home prices have appreciated at a rate near 4%. For 2023, the average of six major forecasters noted below is 2.5%. While one, Zelman & Associates, is calling for depreciation, the other five are calling for appreciation. The graph below outlines each expert forecast to show where they project home prices are going in the coming year.

What Experts Say Will Happen with Home Prices Next Year | Keeping Current Matters

To understand why experts are calling for appreciation next year, look to the economics of supply and demand. Dave Ramsey, Financial Expert, says this:

“The root issue of what drives house prices almost always is supply and demand . . .”   

Two things are driving home prices upward. First, the undersupply of homes on the market is an issue we continue to face in this country. We still don’t have enough homes on the market for the number of people that want to buy them. To further that point, we’re still in a sellers’ market nationally, and in that scenario, home prices tend to appreciate.

Second, millennials are moving through their peak homebuying years. Since they’re the largest demographic behind the baby boomers, demand isn’t going away any time soon.

Bottom Line

Experts are calling for home prices to appreciate next year, although at a slower pace than the previous three years. The reason for this is simple. The dynamics of supply and demand are playing out in real estate and will continue for many years to come.

Sept. 19, 2022

Will My House Still Sell in Today’s Market?

Will My House Still Sell in Today’s Market?

If recent headlines about the housing market cooling and buyer demand moderating have you worried you’ve missed your chance to sell, here’s what you need to know. Buyer demand hasn’t disappeared, it’s just eased from the peak intensity we saw over the past two years.

Buyer Demand Then and Now

During the pandemic, mortgage rates hit record lows, and that spurred a significant rise in buyer demand. This year, as rates increased due to factors like rising inflation, buyer demand pulled back or softened as a result. The latest data from ShowingTime confirms this trend (see graph below):

Will My House Still Sell in Today’s Market? | Keeping Current Matters

The orange bars in the graph above represent the last few months of data and the clear cooldown in the volume of home showings the market has seen since mortgage rates started to rise. But context is important. To get the full picture of where today’s demand stands, let’s look at the July data for the past six years (see graph below):

Will My House Still Sell in Today’s Market? | Keeping Current Matters

This second visual makes it clear that, while moderating compared to the frenzy in 2020 and 2021, showing activity is still beating pre-pandemic levels – and those pre-pandemic years were great years for the housing market. That goes to show there’s still demand if you sell your house today.

What That Means for You When You Sell

The key to selling in a changing market is understanding where the housing market is now. It’s not the same market we had last year or even earlier this year, but that doesn’t mean the opportunity to sell has passed.

While things have cooled a bit, it’s still a sellers’ market. If you work with a trusted local expert to price your house at the current market valuethe demand is still there, and it should sell quickly. According to a recent survey from realtor.com, 92% of homeowners who sold in August reported being satisfied with the outcome of their sale.

Bottom Line

Buyer demand hasn’t disappeared, it’s just moderated this year. If you’re ready to sell your house today, lean on a trusted real estate professional to understand how the market has shifted and how to plan accordingly for your sale.

Sept. 14, 2022

Three Things Buyers Can Do in Today’s Housing Market

Three Things Buyers Can Do in Today’s Housing Market

 

It’s clear the 2022 housing market has been defined by rising mortgage rates. With rates on the rise, it’s also become more costly to purchase a home. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR):

“Compared to one year ago, the monthly mortgage payment rose to $1,944 from $1,265, an increase of 53.7%.”

If you’re thinking of buying a home or have been trying to recently, that’s a big increase in a monthly mortgage payment – and it may be causing you to press pause on your plans. This jump is making homes less affordable, especially compared to the last two years when mortgage rates were at historic lows.

The good news is you can navigate today’s housing market and this rising rate environment with a few simple tips. Here are three things you may want to consider to help make your homeownership goals a reality.

1. Expand Your Search Area and Criteria

If you’ve been looking for a home in the city center or a specific area that’s starting to feel out of your price range, you may want to try looking a little further out in a location that could be more affordable. Expanding your search location or re-prioritizing the items on your wish list can open up opportunities you haven’t considered, and that could help you afford more of what you need (and want) in a home. As CNET notes:

“Area growth is likely to keep pace with the market, which means that the outskirts of town might be hopping within five years. Consider stepping out of your ideal location by searching in the nearby cities. You may find better prices and more square footage.”

2. Explore Alternative Financing Options

Working with a trusted lender to learn about the different loan types and options is essential too. According to Nerd Wallet:

“A variety of mortgages are available with varying down payment and eligibility requirements.”

Experts know how to point you in the right direction when it comes to exploring ways to find the best home loan for your situation. With rising mortgage rates making it more costly to finance a home today, there may be an ideal option out there your loan officer can introduce you to. This could make a home purchase more affordable and within your financial reach over the life of your loan.

3. Look for Grants, Gift Funds, and Down Payment Assistance

There are also many options available when it comes to securing the funding you need to purchase a home. One valuable resource to explore is downpaymentresource.com. Searching for specific down payment assistance options available in your local community could be a game changer when it comes to taking your first step toward homeownership. As NAR indicates:

“Many local governments and non-profit organizations offer down-payment assistance grants and loans, targeted to area borrowers and often with specific borrower requirements.”

Plus, there are programs and special benefits for individuals working in certain professions or with unique statuses, including teachers, doctors and nurses, and veterans.

Ultimately, that means there are many federal, state, and local programs available for you to explore. The best way to do that is to connect with a local real estate professional and your lender to learn more about what’s available in your area.

Bottom Line

If you’ve been searching for a home and have found yourself stepping out of the process because you’re worried about rising costs, connect with a trusted real estate expert. Having a team of local advisors on your side may be just what you need to guide your search in a new and more affordable direction.

Sept. 12, 2022

Getting Your House Ready To Sell? Work with an Agent for Expert Advice

Getting Your House Ready To Sell? Work with an Agent for Expert Advice

In a market that’s shifting as fast as it is today, many homeowners wonder what, if anything, needs to be renovated before they sell their house. That’s where a trusted real estate professional comes in. They can help you think through today’s market conditions and how they impact what you should – and shouldn’t – do before selling your house.

Here are some considerations a professional will guide you through.

What You Need To Know About Your Local Market

Since the supply of homes for sale has increased so much this year, today’s buyers have more options than they had last year. That may mean you’re not able to ignore some of those repairs or cosmetic updates you could have skipped in previous months. As a recent article from realtor.com says:

“To stand out in the market, sellers should make their home attractive to buyers, which usually means some selective updates.”

The key word here is selective. Since it’s still a sellers’ market, focusing on a few key areas may be enough to make your house stand out from other options. And since inventory is still low overall, it’s also possible buyers may be willing to handle the renovations themselves once they move in. It all depends on buyer demand and the available inventory in your local area. For advice on what’s happening in your market and what to do to make your house show well, lean on a professional.

Not All Renovation Projects Are Equal

In addition to making sure your house makes a good first impression, you’ll also want to consider the return on your investment (ROI) for any renovations. According to the 2022 Remodeling Impact Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), here are the projects that could net you the best return when you sell your house (see visual below):

Getting Your House Ready To Sell? Work with an Agent for Expert Advice | Keeping Current Matters

Again, your real estate advisor is your best resource. When your agent comes to your house for a walk-thru and consultation, they’ll use their expertise to offer any insight into what you may need to repair, replace, or refinish. They also know what other sellers are doing before listing their homes and how buyers are reacting to those upgrades to help steer you in the right direction. As Dr. Jessica Lautz, Vice President of Demographics and Behavioral Insights for NAR, explains:

“This year, the winner was hardwood flooring. Hardwood floor refinishing and putting in new wood flooring had the most significant value, . . .”

How To Draw Buyer Attention to the Upgrades You’ve Made

For any projects you’ve already completed or for those you plan to do before listing, make sure your real estate professional knows. They’re not just an advisor to help you decide where to focus your efforts, they’re also skilled at highlighting any upgrades in your listing. That way, potential buyers know about the features that may help sell them on the house.

No matter what, contact a local real estate professional for expert advice on what work needs to be done and how to make it as appealing as possible to future buyers. Every home is different, so a conversation with your agent is mission-critical to make sure you make the right moves when selling this season.

Bottom Line

In today’s shifting market, it’s important to spend your time and money wisely when you’re getting ready to move. Work with a real estate advisor to find out where to focus your efforts before you sell.

Sept. 9, 2022

Why It’s So Important To Hire a Pro [INFOGRAPHIC]

Why It’s So Important To Hire a Pro [INFOGRAPHIC] | Keeping Current Matters

Posted in For Buyers, For Sellers
Sept. 7, 2022

Expert Forecasts on Mortgage Rates

Expert Forecasts on Mortgage Rates

If you’ve been thinking of buying a home, you may have been watching what’s happened with mortgage rates over the past year. It’s true they’ve risen dramatically, but where will they go from here, especially as the market continues to slow?

As you think about your homeownership goals and decide if now’s the time to make your move, the best place to turn to for that information is the professionals. Here’s a summary of the latest mortgage rate forecasts from housing market experts.

Experts Project Mortgage Rates Will Stabilize

While mortgage rates continue to fluctuate due to ongoing inflationary pressures and economic uncertainty, experts project they’ll start to stabilize in the months ahead. According to the latest projections, mortgage rates are expected to hover in the low to mid 5% range initially, and then potentially dip into the high 4% range by later next year (see chart below):

Expert Forecasts on Mortgage Rates | Keeping Current Matters

That could bring you some welcome relief. So far this year, mortgage rates have climbed over 2% due to the Federal Reserve’s response to inflation, and that’s made it more expensive to buy a home. And wondering if the rise in rates will continue is keeping some prospective buyers on the sidelines.

But now that experts say mortgage rates should stabilize, this gives you a bit more certainty about what they think the future holds, and that may help you feel more confident about your decision to buy a home.

Bottom Line

Whether you’re looking to buy your first home, move up to a larger home, or even downsize, you need to know what’s happening in the housing market so you can make the most informed decision possible. Reach out to a trusted real estate professional to discuss your goals and determine the best plan for your move.

Sept. 5, 2022

Here’s Why It’s Still a Sellers’ Market [INFOGRAPHIC]

Here's Why It's Still a Sellers' Market [INFOGRAPHIC] | Keeping Current Matters

Aug. 31, 2022

A Trusted Real Estate Advisor Provides Expert Advice

A Trusted Real Estate Advisor Provides Expert Advice

If you’re a homeowner or are planning to become one soon, you’re probably looking for clear information about today’s housing market. And if you’ve turned to the news or even just read headlines recently, you might feel like you’re left with more questions than answers. The best way to make sure you get what you need is to work with an expert.

Why You Want To Lean on a Trusted Professional

With any big milestone in life, it’s wise to seek advice from people who are experts in their field.  While you likely want that advice to be perfect, perfect simply isn’t possible. But professionals have the knowledge and experience to be able to provide you with the best advice for your situation.

For example, let’s say you need an attorney, so you seek out an expert in the type of law required for your case. They won’t immediately tell you how the case is going to end or how the judge or jury will rule. But what a good attorney can do is discuss the most effective strategies based on their experience and help you put a plan together. They’ll even use their knowledge to work with you to adjust as new information becomes available.

Similarly, the job of a trusted real estate professional is to give you the best advice they can. Just like you can’t find a lawyer to give you perfect advice, you won’t find a real estate professional who can either. That’s because it’s impossible to know exactly what’s going to happen throughout your transaction. But an expert real estate advisor knows market trends and the ins and outs of the homebuying and selling processes.

They’ll use that knowledge to explain both the national headlines and what’s happening in your local area. That way, you have the best of both worlds and can feel confident in your decision to buy or sell. Freddie Mac explains why having an expert on your side is so essential:

“The success of your homebuying journey largely depends on the company you
keep. . . . Be sure to select experienced, trusted professionals who will help you make informed decisions and avoid any pitfalls.”

With their expertise, a real estate advisor can anticipate what could happen next and work with you to put together a solid plan. Then, they’ll guide you through the process, helping you make decisions along the way. That’s the very definition of getting the best – not perfect – advice. And that’s the power of working with a real estate advisor.

Bottom Line

To get expert advice when you buy or sell a home this year, contact a local real estate professional.

Posted in For Buyers, For Sellers