Western Massachusetts Real Estate and Community News

Jan. 20, 2023

Think Twice Before Waiting for 3% Mortgage Rates

Pre-Approval in 2023: What You Need To Know

Last year, the Federal Reserve took action to try to bring down inflation. In response to those efforts, mortgage rates jumped up rapidly from the record lows we saw in 2021, peaking at just over 7% last October. Hopeful buyers experienced a hit to their purchasing power as a result, and some decided to press pause on their plans.

Today, the rate of inflation is starting to drop. And as a result, mortgage rates have dipped below last year’s peak. Sam Khater, Chief Economist at Freddie Macshares:

“While mortgage market activity has significantly shrunk over the last year, inflationary pressures are easing and should lead to lower mortgage rates in 2023.”

That’s potentially great news if you’re a buyer aiming to jump back into the housing market. Any drop in mortgage rates helps boost your purchasing power by bringing down your expected monthly mortgage payment. This means the lower mortgage rates experts forecast this year could be just what you need to reignite your homebuying goals.

While this opens up a window of opportunity for you, remember: you shouldn’t expect rates to drop back down to record lows like we saw in 2021. Experts agree that’s not the range buyers should bank on. Greg McBride, Chief Financial Analyst at Bankrateexplains:

“I think we could be surprised at how much mortgage rates pull back this year. But we’re not going back to 3 percent anytime soon, because inflation is not going back to 2 percent anytime soon.

It’s important to have a realistic vision for what you can expect this year, and that’s where the advice of expert real estate advisors is critical. You may be surprised by the impact even a mild drop in mortgage rates has on your budget. If you’re ready to buy a home now, today’s market presents the opportunity to get a more affordable mortgage rate, find your dream home, and face less competition from other buyers.

Bottom Line

The recent pullback in mortgage rates is great news – but if you’re ready to buy now, holding out for 3% is a mistake. Work with a local real estate expert to explore the options in your area and learn how today’s rates impact your goals.

Jan. 16, 2023

What Past Recessions Tell Us About the Housing Market

What Past Recessions Tell Us About the Housing Market

It doesn’t matter if you’re someone who closely follows the economy or not, chances are you’ve heard whispers of an upcoming recession. Economic conditions are determined by a broad range of factors, so rather than explaining them each in depth, let’s lean on the experts and what history tells us to see what could lie ahead. As Greg McBride, Chief Financial Analyst at Bankratesays:

“Two-in-three economists are forecasting a recession in 2023 . . .”

As talk about a potential recession grows, you may be wondering what a recession could mean for the housing market. Here’s a look at the historical data to show what happened in real estate during previous recessions to help prove why you shouldn’t be afraid of what a recession could mean for the housing market today.

A Recession Doesn’t Mean Falling Home Prices

To show that home prices don’t fall every time there’s a recession, it helps to turn to historical data. As the graph below illustrates, looking at recessions going all the way back to 1980, home prices appreciated in four of the last six of them. So historically, when the economy slows down, it doesn’t mean home values will always fall.

What Past Recessions Tell Us About the Housing Market | Keeping Current Matters

Most people remember the housing crisis in 2008 (the larger of the two red bars in the graph above) and think another recession would be a repeat of what happened to housing then. But today’s housing market isn’t about to crash because the fundamentals of the market are different than they were in 2008. According to experts, home prices will vary by market and may go up or down depending on the local area. But the average of their 2023 forecasts shows prices will net neutral nationwide, not fall drastically like they did in 2008.

A Recession Means Falling Mortgage Rates

Research also helps paint the picture of how a recession could impact the cost of financing a home. As the graph below shows, historically, each time the economy slowed down, mortgage rates decreased.

What Past Recessions Tell Us About the Housing Market | Keeping Current Matters

Fortune explains mortgage rates typically fall during an economic slowdown:

Over the past five recessions, mortgage rates have fallen an average of 1.8 percentage points from the peak seen during the recession to the trough. And in many cases, they continued to fall after the fact as it takes some time to turn things around even when the recession is technically over.”

In 2023, market experts say mortgage rates will likely stabilize below the peak we saw last year. That’s because mortgage rates tend to respond to inflation. And early signs show inflation is starting to cool. If inflation continues to ease, rates may fall a bit more, but the days of 3% are likely behind us.

The big takeaway is you don’t need to fear the word recession when it comes to housing. In fact, experts say a recession would be mild and housing would play a key role in a quick economic rebound. As the 2022 CEO Outlook from KPMG, says:

“Global CEOs see a ‘mild and short’ recession, yet optimistic about global economy over 3-year horizon . . .

 More than 8 out of 10 anticipate a recession over the next 12 months, with more than half expecting it to be mild and short.”

Bottom Line 

While history doesn’t always repeat itself, we can learn from the past. According to historical data, in most recessions, home values have appreciated and mortgage rates have declined.

If you’re thinking about buying or selling a home this year, you can make the best decision by working with a trusted real estate professional. That way, you have expert advice on what’s happening in the housing market and what that means for your homeownership goals.

Jan. 13, 2023

What Experts Are Saying About the 2023 Housing Market

Jan. 13, 2023

Key Terms to Know When Buying a Home

Key Terms To Know When Buying a Home [INFOGRAPHIC] | Keeping Current Matters

Posted in For Buyers
Jan. 9, 2023

#TeamCuoco Year To Date Sales - 2022

Posted in Our Office
Jan. 5, 2023

Wondering How Much You Need To Save for a Down Payment?

Wondering How Much You Need To Save for a Down Payment?

If you’re getting ready to buy your first home, you’re likely focused on saving up for everything that purchase involves. One cost that’s likely top of mind is your down payment. But don’t let a common misconception about how much you need to save make the process harder than it could be.

Understand 20% Isn’t Always the Typical Down Payment

Freddie Mac explains:

“. . . nearly a third of prospective homebuyers think they need a down payment of 20% or more to buy a home. This myth remains one of the largest perceived barriers to achieving homeownership.

Unless specified by your loan type or lender, it’s typically not required to put 20% down. This means you could be closer to your homebuying dream than you realize. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the median down payment hasn’t been over 20% since 2005. In fact, the median down payment today is only 14%. And it’s even lower for first-time homebuyers at just 6% (see graph below):

Wondering How Much You Need To Save for a Down Payment? | Keeping Current Matters

Learn About Options That Can Help You Toward Your Goal

If saving for a down payment still feels like a challenge, know that there’s help available. A real estate professional and trusted lender can show you options that could help you get closer to your down payment goal. According to latest Homeownership Program Index from Down Payment Resource, there are over 2,000 homebuyer assistance programs in the U.S., and the majority are intended to help with down payments.

Plus there are even loan types, like FHA loans, with down payments as low as 3.5%, as well as options like VA loans and USDA loans with no down payment requirements for qualified applicants.

To understand your options, be sure to do your homework. If you’re interested in learning more about down payment assistance programs, information is available through sites like Down Payment Resource. Then, partner with a trusted lender to learn what you qualify for on your homebuying journey.

Bottom Line

Remember, a 20% down payment isn’t always required. If you want to purchase a home this year, reach out to a trusted real estate professional to start the conversation and explore your down payment options.

Dec. 28, 2022

Financial Fundamentals for First-Time Homebuyers

Financial Fundamentals for First-Time Homebuyers

Are you prepping to buy your first home? If so, one of the steps you should take early on is making sure you’re financially ready for your purchase. Here are just a few of the financial fundamentals you’ll need to focus on as you set out to buy a home.

Build Your Credit

Your credit is one element that helps determine which home loan you’ll qualify for. It also impacts your mortgage interest rate. While there are many factors that go into your mortgage application, a higher credit score could lead to a lower monthly payment in the long run.

So how do you make sure your credit is in the best shape possible when it’s time to buy? A recent article from NerdWallet lists a few tips you can use as you work to build and strengthen your credit. They include:

  • Tracking your credit and disputing any errors that show up on your reports.
  • Paying your bills on time. This includes making loan payments and paying down any open lines of credit.
  • Keeping your credit card balances low. Paying more than your minimum monthly balance when you’re able can help.

Automate Your Savings for Your House Fund

You might also be wondering how you can achieve your down payment savings goals. Bankrate provides buyers with a number of tips to help you save, including searching for down payment assistance programs and ways you can save more, faster. As the article says:

“One of the best ways to save for anything — including a down payment — is to set it and forget it. If you receive a regular paycheck, ask your employer to direct a portion of that payment into a savings account. If you’re a freelance worker or independent contractor, set up a recurring transfer from a checking account to a savings account to establish the routine.”

Get Pre-Approved

As you prepare for your purchase, you’ll also need to have a good grasp on your budget and how much you’ll be able to borrow for your home loan. That’s where the pre-approval process comes in.

Pre-approval from a lender lets you know how much money you can borrow for your home loan. And having that knowledge, plus an understanding of your savings, can help you decide on your target price range for a house.

From there, you can start browsing for houses online and see what’s available in your area in that general price point. This can help you really understand your options so you can start to picture your future home.

For Customized Advice, Build a Team of Professionals

Finally, the best way to make you’re prepared for your purchase is to connect with trusted real estate professionals. Having expert advisors in the industry will help you make strong decisions throughout the homebuying process based on your specific goals, finances, and situation. They know the market and can guide you toward the home of your dreams.

Bottom Line

If you’re ready to get the homebuying process started, connect with a local real estate advisor to begin building your team of professionals today.

Dec. 25, 2022

Merry Christmas!

Dec. 23, 2022

What To Expect from the Housing Market in 2023

What To Expect from the Housing Market in 2023

 

The 2022 housing market has been defined by two key things: inflation and rapidly rising mortgage rates. And in many ways, it’s put the market into a reset position.

As the Federal Reserve (the Fed) made moves this year to try to lower inflation, mortgage rates more than doubled – something that’s never happened before in a calendar year. This had a cascading impact on buyer activity, the balance between supply and demand, and ultimately home prices. And as all those things changed, some buyers and sellers put their plans on hold and decided to wait until the market felt a bit more predictable.

But what does that mean for next year? What everyone really wants is more stability in the market in 2023. For that to happen we’ll need to see the Fed bring inflation down even more and keep it there. Here’s what housing market experts say we can expect next year.

What’s Ahead for Mortgage Rates in 2023?

Moving forward, experts agree it’s still going to be all about inflation. If inflation is high, mortgage rates will be as well. But if inflation continues to fall, mortgage rates will likely respond. While there may be early signs inflation is easing as we round out this year, we’re not out of the woods just yet. Inflation is still something to watch in 2023.

Right now, experts are factoring all of this into their mortgage rate forecasts for next year. And if we average those forecasts together, experts say we can expect rates to stabilize a bit more in 2023. Whether that’s between 5.5% and 6.5%, it’s hard for experts to say exactly where they’ll land. But based on the average of their projections, a more predictable rate is likely ahead (see chart below):

What To Expect from the Housing Market in 2023 | Keeping Current Matters

That means, we’ll start the year out about where we are right now. But we could see rates tick down if inflation continues to drop. As Greg McBride, Chief Financial Analyst at Bankrateexplains:

“. . . mortgage rates could pull back meaningfully next year if inflation pressures ease.

In the meantime, expect some volatility as rates will likely fluctuate in the weeks ahead. If we see inflation come back under control, that would be good news for the housing market.

What Will Happen to Home Prices Next Year?

Homes prices will always be defined by supply and demand. The more buyers and fewer homes there are on the market, the more home prices will rise. And that’s exactly what we saw during the pandemic.

But this year, things changed. We’ve seen home prices moderate and housing supply grow as buyer demand pulled back due to higher mortgage rates. The level of moderation has varied by local area – with the biggest changes happening in overheated markets. But do experts think that will continue?

The graph below shows the latest home price forecasts for 2023. As the different colored bars indicate, some experts are saying home prices will appreciate next year, and others are saying home prices will come down. But again, if we take the average of all the forecasts (shown in green), we can get a feel for what 2023 may hold.

What To Expect from the Housing Market in 2023 | Keeping Current Matters

The truth is probably somewhere in the middle. That means nationally, we’ll likely see relatively flat or neutral appreciation in 2023. As Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at the National Association of Realtors (NAR), says:

After a big boom over the past two years, there will essentially be no change nationally . . . Half of the country may experience small price gains, while the other half may see slight price declines.”

Bottom Line

The 2023 housing market is going to be defined by mortgage rates, and rates will be determined by what happens with inflation. The best way to keep a pulse on what experts are projecting for next year is to lean on a trusted real estate advisor.

Dec. 21, 2022

2023 Housing Market Forecast [INFOGRAPHIC]

2023 Housing Market Forecast [INFOGRAPHIC] | Keeping Current Matters