First Time Home BuyersFor BuyersHousing MarketMillennialsMove-Up BuyersPricing April 17, 2023

Think Twice Before Waiting for Lower Home Prices

As the housing market continues to change, you may be wondering where it’ll go from here. One factor you’re probably thinking about is home prices, which have come down a bit since they peaked last June. And you’ve likely heard something in the news or on social media about a price crash on the horizon. As a result, you may be holding off on buying a home until prices drop significantly. But that’s not the best strategy.

A recent survey from Zonda shows 53% of millennials are still renting right now because they’re waiting for home prices to come down. But here’s the thing: the most recent data shows that home prices appear to have bottomed out and are now on the rise again. Selma Hepp, Chief Economist at CoreLogic, reports:

“U.S. home prices rose by 0.8% in February . . . indicating that prices in most markets have already bottomed out.”

And the latest data from Black Knight shows the same shift. The graph below compares home price trends in November to those in February:

So, should you keep waiting to buy a home until prices come down? If you factor in what the experts are saying, you probably shouldn’t. The data shows prices are increasing in much of the country, not decreasing. And the latest data from the Home Price Expectation Survey indicates that experts project home prices will rise steadily and return to more normal levels of appreciation after 2023. The best way to understand what home values are doing in your area is to work with a local real estate professional who can give you the latest insights and expert advice.

Bottom Line

If you’re waiting to buy a home until prices come down, you may want to reconsider. Let’s connect to make sure you understand what’s happening in our local housing market.

For SellersHousing Market April 11, 2023

The Big Advantage If You Sell This Spring

Thinking about selling your house? If you’ve been waiting for the right time, it could be now while the supply of homes for sale is so low. HousingWire shares:

 

“. . . the big question is whether we are finally starting to see the seasonal spring increase in inventory. The answer is no, because active listings fell to a new low last week for 2023 . . .”

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) confirms today’s housing inventory is low by looking at the months’ supply of homes on the market. In a balanced market, about a six-month supply is needed. Anything lower is a sellers’ market. And today, the number is much lower:

 

“Total housing inventory registered at the end of February was 980,000 units, identical to January and up 15.3% from one year ago (850,000). Unsold inventory sits at a 2.6-month supply at the current sales pace, down 10.3% from January but up from 1.7 months in February 2022.”

Why Does Low Inventory Make It a Good Time To Sell?

The less inventory there is on the market when you sell, the less competition you’re likely to face from other sellers. That means your house will get more attention from the buyers looking for a home this spring. And since there are significantly more buyers in the market than there are homes for sale, you could even receive more than one offer on your house. Multiple offers are on the rise again (see graph below):

If you get more than one offer on your house, it becomes a bidding war between buyers – and that means you have greater leverage to sell on your terms. But if you want to maximize the opportunity for a bidding war to spark, be sure to lean on your expert real estate advisor. While we’re still in a strong sellers’ market, it isn’t the frenzy we saw a couple of years ago, and today’s buyers are focused on the houses with the greatest appeal. Clare Trapasso, Executive News Editor at Realtor.com, explains:

“Well-priced, move-in ready homes with curb appeal in desirable areas are still receiving multiple offers and selling for over the asking price in many parts of the country. So, this spring, it’s especially important for sellers to make their homes as attractive as possible to appeal to as many buyers as possible.”

Bottom Line

If you’ve been waiting for the right time to sell your house, low inventory this spring sets you up with a big advantage. Let’s connect today to make sure your house is ready to sell.

For SellersHousing Market April 11, 2023

Homebuyer Activity Shows Signs of Warming Up for Spring

The spring season appears to be warming up in housing as more and more buyers enter the market. And after rising mortgage rates sidelined so many buyers last year, that’s a good sign for sellers. Realtor.com has the latest:

“Spring is officially here, and like green shoots emerging from the bleak winter, new data suggests that more buyers are back in the market, although more subdued compared to a year ago.”

We know buyer activity is trending up because of mortgage purchase application data. According to Investopedia:

“A mortgage application is a document submitted to a lender when you apply for a mortgage to purchase real estate.”

That means the number of mortgage applications shows how many buyers are applying for mortgages. Put another way, an increase in mortgage applications means an increase in buyer demand – and as Joel Kan, VP and Deputy Chief Economist at the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), explains, application activity started ramping up as mortgage rates fell steadily in March:

“Application activity increased as mortgage rates declined . . . recent increases, along with data from other sources showing an uptick in home sales, is a welcome development.”

In fact, we can see how mortgage rates have a direct impact on applications over time. As rates rose dramatically last year, applications fell in response (see graph below):

 

The recent uptick in mortgage applications, as well as the decline in mortgage rates, is good news for sellers because it means more buyers are actively looking for homes.

What This Means for You

Buyers are coming this spring, which is typically the busiest time of the year in real estate. And as Realtor.com tells us, if you’re a seller, you need to prepare:

“If homeowners are planning to sell in 2023, now is the time to get ready.”

The means working with a local real estate agent to maximize your home’s appeal and get it listed at the ideal price for your area.

Bottom Line

The housing market is warming up for spring. If you’re thinking about selling your house and taking advantage of this recent uptick in buyer activity, let’s connect.

For Sellers February 19, 2024

East Texas! It’s Time To Prepare Your House for a Spring Listing

If you’re thinking of selling your house this spring, now is the perfect time to start getting it ready. With the market gearing up for its busiest time of year, it’ll be important to make sure your house shines bright among the competition.

Here are some valuable tips you can use to get your house market-ready.

Declutter and Organize

First impressions matter, and if your house is a mess, that can easily turn off potential buyers. Before listing, take the time to declutter and organize each room. Decluttering is about more than just tidying up – it’s about creating a sense of space and openness that allows potential buyers to envision themselves living in your home. According to Moving.com:

Decluttering and organizing your space will go a long way in appealing to potential buyers. . . .decluttering will help the buyers see themselves living in your home. Less clutter inside a home also helps a place appear larger and cleaner, which should attract more buyers.”

Deep Clean Your Kitchen and Bathrooms

The kitchen and bathrooms are focal points for many buyers, and often influence their overall opinion of the house. Ensure these spaces dazzle by giving them a thorough deep cleaning. Pay attention to details like scrubbing grout lines, polishing fixtures, and decluttering countertops. A sparkling kitchen and bathroom can leave a lasting positive impression on potential buyers.

Maintain Your Yard

Your home’s exterior is the first thing potential buyers see, so it’s important to make a good impression from the moment they arrive. A well-maintained yard not only enhances curb appeal, but also shows buyers the home has been well taken care of.

Take the time to spruce up your yard by mowing the lawn, trimming bushes, and clearing away any debris or dead plants. Remember, the goal is to create a welcoming environment that entices buyers to step inside and imagine themselves living there. U.S. News says:

“A beautifully landscaped front yard can elevate an ordinary house into a charming home and will help homes sell faster and for more money.”

Find a Listing Agent

A skilled listing agent is your partner in minimizing stress when selling your home. Lean on your agent for advice on decluttering, staging, and enhancing your home’s appeal to potential buyers. Their insights into market trends and recommendations for reliable contractors and stagers are invaluable. As Realtor.com says:

“A good listing agent will help you price your home . . . recommend a photographer and stager to make it look its best, and put your home on the multiple listing service.”

Bottom Line

By decluttering, deep cleaning, and tidying up your house, you can create a welcoming environment that resonates with buyers and increases your chances of a successful sale. Let’s connect on what you need to do to get your house ready to sell this spring.

FinancingFirst Time Home BuyersFor BuyersHousing MarketInterest RatesInterest Rates February 12, 2024

East Texas: What’s Really Happening with Mortgage Rates?

Are you feeling a bit unsure about what’s really happening with mortgage rates? That might be because you’ve heard someone say they’re coming down. But then you read somewhere else that they’re up again. And that may leave you scratching your head and wondering what’s true.

The simplest answer is: that what you read or hear will vary based on the time frame they’re looking at. Here’s some information that can help clear up the confusion.

Mortgage Rates Are Volatile by Nature

Mortgage rates don’t move in a straight line. There are too many factors at play for that to happen. Instead, rates bounce around because they’re impacted by things like economic conditions, decisions from the Federal Reserve, and so much more. That means they might be up one day and down the next depending on what’s going on in the economy and the world as a whole.

Take a look at the graph below. It uses data from Mortgage News Daily to show the ebbs and flows in the 30-year fixed mortgage rate since last October:

If you look at the graph, you’ll see a lot of peaks and valleys – some bigger than others. And when you use data like this to explain what’s happening, the story can be different based on which two points in the graph you’re comparing.

For example, if you’re only looking at the beginning of this month through now, you may think mortgage rates are on the way back up. But, if you look at the latest data point and compare it to the peak in October, rates have trended down. So, what’s the right way to look at it?

The Big Picture

Mortgage rates are always going to bounce around. It’s just how they work. So, you shouldn’t focus too much on the small, daily changes. Instead, to really understand the overall trend, zoom out and look at the big picture.

When you look at the highest point (October) compared to where rates are now, you can see they’ve come down compared to last year. And if you’re looking to buy a home, this is big news. Don’t let the little blips distract you. The experts agree, overall, that the larger downward trend could continue this year.

Bottom Line

If you’re in the East Texas, Longview are, let’s connect if you have any questions about what you’re reading or hearing about the housing market.

FinancingFirst Time Home BuyersFor BuyersHousing MarketInterest RatesMove-Up Buyers February 7, 2024

Why Pre-Approval Is Even More Important This Year

On the road to becoming a homeowner? If so, you may have heard the term pre-approval get tossed around. Let’s break down what it is and why it’s important if you’re looking to buy a home in 2024.

What Pre-Approval Is

As part of the homebuying process, your lender will look at your finances to figure out what they’re willing to loan you. According to Investopedia, this includes things like your W-2, tax returns, credit score, bank statements, and more.

From there, they’ll give you a pre-approval letter to help you understand how much money you can borrow. Freddie Mac explains it like this:

A pre-approval is an indication from your lender that they are willing to lend you a certain amount of money to buy your future home. . . . Keep in mind that the loan amount in the pre-approval letter is the lender’s maximum offer. Ultimately, you should only borrow an amount you are comfortable repaying.”

Now, that last piece is especially important. While home affordability is getting better, it’s still tight. So, getting a good idea of what you can borrow can help you really wrap your head around the financial side of things. It doesn’t mean you should borrow the full amount. It just tells you what you can borrow from that lender.

This sets you up to make an informed decision about your numbers. That way you’re able to tailor your home search to what you’re actually comfortable with budget-wise and can act fast when you find a home you love.

Why Pre-Approval Is So Important in 2024

If you want to buy a home this year, there’s another reason you’re going to want to be sure you’re working with a trusted lender to make this a priority.

While more homes are being listed for sale, the overall number of available homes is still below the norm. At the same time, the recent downward trend in mortgage rates compared to last year is bringing more buyers back into the market. That imbalance of more demand than supply creates a bit of a tug-of-war for you.

It means you’ll likely find you have more competition from other buyers as more and more people who were sitting on the sidelines when mortgage rates were higher decide to jump back in. But pre-approval can help with that too.

Pre-approval shows sellers you mean business because you’ve already undergone a credit and financial check. As Greg McBride, Chief Financial Analyst at Bankrate, says:

“Preapproval carries more weight because it means lenders have actually done more than a cursory review of your credit and your finances, but have instead reviewed your pay stubs, tax returns and bank statements. A preapproval means you’ve cleared the hurdles necessary to be approved for a mortgage up to a certain dollar amount.”

Sellers love that because that makes it more likely the sale will move forward without unexpected delays or issues. And if you may be competing with another buyer to land your dream home, why wouldn’t you do this to help stack the deck in your favor?

Bottom Line

If you’re looking to buy a home in 2024, know that getting pre-approved is going to be a key piece of the puzzle. With lower mortgage rates bringing more buyers back into the market, this can help you make a strong offer that stands out from the crowd.

For SellersHousing Market February 7, 2024

Houses Are Still Selling Fast

Have you been thinking about selling your house? If so, here’s some good news. While the housing market isn’t as frenzied as it was during the ‘unicorn’ years when houses were selling quicker than ever, they’re still selling faster than normal.

The graph below uses data from Realtor.com to tell the story of median days on the market for every January from 2017 all the way through the latest numbers available. For Realtor.com, days on the market means from the time a house is listed for sale until its closing date or the date it’s taken off the market. This metric can help give you an idea of just how quickly homes are selling compared to more normal years:

When you look at the most recent data (shown in green), it’s clear homes are selling faster than they usually would (shown in blue). In fact, the only years when houses sold even faster than they are right now were the abnormal ‘unicorn’ years (shown in pink). According to Realtor.com:

“Homes spent 69 days on the market, which is three days shorter than last year and more than two weeks shorter than before the COVID-19 pandemic.”

What Does This Mean for You?

Homes are selling faster than the norm for this time of year – and your house may sell quickly too. That’s because more people are looking to buy now that mortgage rates have come down, but there still aren’t enough homes to go around. Mike Simonsen, Founder of Altos Researchsays:

“. . . 2024 is starting stronger than last year. And demand is increasing each week.”

Bottom Line

If you’re wondering if it’s a good time to sell your home, the most recent data suggests it is. The housing market appears to be stronger than it usually is at this time of year. To get the latest updates on what’s happening in our local market, let’s connect.

Infographics January 30, 2024

Why It’s More Affordable To Buy a Home This Year

 

Some Highlights

First Time Home BuyersFor BuyersInterest Rates January 30, 2024

2 Factors That Impact Mortgage Rates

If you’re looking to buy a home, you’ve probably been paying close attention to mortgage rates. Over the last couple of years, they hit record lows, rose dramatically, and are now dropping back down a bit. Ever wonder why?

The answer is complicated because there’s a lot that can influence mortgage rates. Here are just a few of the most impactful factors at play.

Inflation and the Federal Reserve

The Federal Reserve (Fed) doesn’t directly determine mortgage rates. But the Fed does move the Federal Funds Rate up or down in response to what’s happening with inflation, the economy, employment rates, and more. As that happens, mortgage rates tend to respond. Business Insider explains:

The Federal Reserve slows inflation by raising the federal funds rate, which can indirectly impact mortgages. High inflation and investor expectations of more Fed rate hikes can push mortgage rates up. If investors believe the Fed may cut rates and inflation is decelerating, mortgage rates will typically trend down.”

Over the last couple of years, the Fed raised the Federal Fund Rate to try to fight inflation and, as that happened, mortgage rates jumped up, too. Fortunately, the expert outlook for inflation and mortgage rates is that both should become more favorable over the course of the year. As Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at Realtor.comsays:

“[M]ortgage rates will continue to ease in 2024 as inflation improves . . .”

There’s even talk the Fed may actually cut the Fed Funds Rate this year because inflation is cooling, even though it’s not yet back to their ideal target.

The 10-Year Treasury Yield

Additionally, mortgage companies look at the 10-Year Treasury Yield to decide how much interest to charge on home loans. If the yield goes up, mortgage rates usually go up, too. The opposite is also true. According to Investopedia:

“One frequently used government bond benchmark to which mortgage lenders often peg their interest rates is the 10-year Treasury bond yield.”

Historically, the spread between the 10-Year Treasury Yield and the 30-year fixed mortgage rate has been fairly consistent, but that’s not the case recently. That means, there’s room for mortgage rates to come down. So, keeping an eye on which way the treasury yield is trending can give experts an idea of where mortgage rates may head next.

Bottom Line

With the Fed meeting later this week, experts in the industry will be keeping a close watch to see what they decide and what impact it’ll have on the economy. To navigate any mortgage rate changes and their impact on your moving plans, it’s best to have a team of professionals on your side.

FinancingFirst Time Home BuyersFor BuyersInterest Rates January 5, 2024

Thinking About Buying a Home?

If you’re thinking of buying a home this year, you’re probably paying closer attention than normal to the housing market. And you’re getting your information from a variety of channels: the news, social media, your real estate agent, conversations with friends and loved ones, the list goes on and on. Most likely, home prices and mortgage rates are coming up a lot.

Here are the top two questions you need to ask yourself as you make your decision, including the data that helps cut through the noise.

1. Where Do I Think Home Prices Are Heading?

One reliable place you can turn to for information on home price forecasts is the Home Price Expectations Survey from Fannie Mae – a survey of over one hundred economists, real estate experts, and investment and market strategists.

According to the most recent release, the experts are projecting home prices will continue to rise at least through 2028 (see the graph below):

So, why does this matter to you? While the percent of appreciation may not be as high as it was in recent years, what’s important to focus on is that this survey says we’ll see prices rise, not fall, for at least the next 5 years.

And home prices rising, even at a more moderate pace, is good news not just for the market, but for you too. It means, by buying now, your home will likely grow in value, and you should gain home equity in the years ahead. But, if you wait, based on these forecasts, the home will only cost you more later on.

2. Where Do I Think Mortgage Rates Are Heading?

Over the past year, mortgage rates spiked up in response to economic uncertainty, inflation, and more. But there’s an encouraging sign for the market and mortgage rates. Inflation is moderating, and here’s why this is such a big deal if you’re looking to buy a home.

When inflation cools, mortgage rates generally fall in response. That’s exactly what we’ve seen in recent weeks. And, now that the Federal Reserve has signaled they’re pausing their Federal Funds Rate increases and may even cut rates in 2024, experts are even more confident we’ll see mortgage rates come down.

Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at Realtor.comexplains:

. . . mortgage rates will continue to ease in 2024 as inflation improves and Fed rate cuts get closer. . . . a key factor in starting to provide affordability relief to homebuyers.”

As an article from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) says:

Mortgage rates likely have peaked and are now falling from their recent high of nearly 8%. . . . This likely will improve housing affordability and entice more home buyers to return to the market . . .”

No one can say with absolute certainty where mortgage rates will go from here. But the recent decline and the latest decision from the Federal Reserve to stop their rate increases, signals there’s hope on the horizon. While we may see some volatility here and there, affordability should improve as rates continue to ease.

Bottom Line

If you’re thinking about buying a home, you need to know what’s expected with home prices and mortgage rates. While no one can say for certain where they’ll go, making sure you have the latest information can help you make an informed decision. Let’s connect so you can stay up to date on what’s happening and why this is such good news for you.

For SellersSelling Myths October 3, 2023

Why Your House Didn’t Sell

If your listing expired and your house didn’t sell, you’re likely feeling a little frustrated. Not to mention, you’re also probably wondering what went wrong. Here are three questions to think about as you figure out what to do next.

Did You Limit Access to Your House?

One of the biggest mistakes you can make when selling your house is restricting the days and times when potential buyers can tour it. Being flexible with your schedule is important when you’re selling your house, even though it might feel a bit stressful to drop everything and leave when buyers want to see it. After all, minimal access means minimal exposure to buyers. ShowingTime advises:

“. . . do your best to be as flexible as possible when granting access to your house for showings.”

Sometimes, the most determined buyers might come from far away. Since they’re traveling to see your house, they may not be able to change their plans easily if you only offer limited times for showings. So, try to make your house available as much as you can to accommodate them. It’s simple. If no one’s able to look at it, how’s it going to sell?

Did You Make Your House Stand Out?

When selling your house, the old saying matters: you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Putting in the work to make the exterior of your home look nice is just as important as how you stage it inside. Freshen up your landscaping to improve your home’s curb appeal so you can make an impact upfront. As an article from U.S. News says:

“After all, if people drive by, but aren’t interested enough to walk through the front door, you’ll never sell your house.”

But don’t let that impact stop at the front door. By removing personal items and reducing clutter inside, you give buyers more freedom to picture themselves in the home. Additionally, a new coat of paint or cleaning the floors can go a long way to freshening up a room.

Did You Price Your House Compellingly?

Setting the right price is extremely important when you’re selling your house. Even though it might feel tempting to push the price higher to maximize your profit, overpricing can scare away buyers and make it hard to sell quickly. Business Insider notes:

“. . . the biggest mistake sellers make is overpricing their home.”

If your house is priced higher than others like it, it could make buyers lose interest. Pay attention to the feedback people give your agent during open houses and showings. If lots of people are saying the same thing, it might be a good idea to think about lowering the price.

For all these insights and more, rely on a trusted real estate agent. A great agent will offer expert advice on relisting your house with effective strategies to get it sold.

Bottom Line

It’s natural to feel disappointed when your listing has expired and your house didn’t sell. Let’s connect to figure out what happened and what to reconsider or change if you want to get your house back on the market.

For SellersHousing Market September 19, 2023

Are More Homes Coming onto the Market?

Are More Homes Coming onto the Market?

The number of homes for sale is an essential factor shaping today’s market. And, if you’re considering whether or not to list your house, that’s one of the biggest advantages you have right now. When housing inventory is this low, your house will stand out, especially if it’s priced right.

But there are some early signs that more listings are coming. According to the latest data, new listings (homeowners who just put their house up for sale) are trending up. Here’s a look at why this is noteworthy and what it may mean for you.

More Homes Are Coming onto the Market than Usual

It’s well known that the busiest time in the housing market each year is the spring buying season. That’s why there’s a predictable increase in the volume of newly listed homes throughout the first half of the year. Sellers are anticipating this and ramping up for the months when buyers are most active. But, as the school year kicks off and as the holidays approach, the market cools. It’s what’s expected.

But here’s what’s surprising. Based on the latest data from Realtor.com, there’s an increase in the number of sellers listing their houses later this year than usual. A peak this late in the year isn’t typical. You can see both the normal seasonal trend and the unusual August in the graph below:

As Realtor.com explains:

“While inventory continues to be in short supply, August witnessed an unusual uptick in newly listed homes compared to July, hopefully signaling a return in seller activity heading toward the fall season . . .”

While this is only one month of data, it’s unusual enough to note. It’s still too early to say for sure if this trend will continue, but it’s something you’ll want to stay ahead of if it does.

What This Means for You

If you are putting off selling your house, now may be the sweet spot to make your move. That’s because, if this trend continues, you’ll have more competition the longer you wait. And if your neighbor puts their house up for sale too, it means you may have to share buyers’ attention with that other homeowner. If you sell now, you can beat your neighbors to the punch.

But, even with more homes coming onto the market, the market is still well below normal supply levels. And, that inventory deficit isn’t going to be reversed overnight. The graph below helps put this into context, so you can see the opportunity you still have now: 

Bottom Line

Even though inventory is still low, you don’t want to wait for more competition to pop up in your neighborhood. You still have an incredible opportunity if you sell your house today. Let’s connect to explore the benefits of selling now before more homes come to the market.

Housing Market August 14, 2023

Where Are People Moving Today and Why?

Plenty of people are still moving these days. And if you’re thinking of making a move yourself, you may be considering the inventory and affordability challenges in the housing market and wondering what you can do to help offset those. A new report from Gravy Analytics provides insight into where people are searching for homes and what they’re prioritizing most right now. That information could help you plan your own move.

1. People Are Moving to Cities with Lower Housing Costs

One big factor motivating where buyers are going is affordability and that’s no big surprise. People are relocating to areas that have less expensive housing options. As a result, small cities are thriving. Hannah Jones, Economics Data Analyst at Realtor.comsummarizes why:

“Affordability is still very much front and center . . . a lot of what’s available is outside of the price range of many buyers. . . . so they look elsewhere for a little more bang for the buck.”

The takeaway for you? If you’re having trouble finding a home that fits your budget, it may help to browse other, more affordable locations nearby.

2. People Want to Live Where They Vacation

And, if you’re already expanding your search radius, you may be able to include a location that features your favorite type of destination, like a suburb near the beach or a mountain town. Data shows many other homeowners are making that type of move a priority today. According to the same report from Gravy Analytics:

“Whether it’s the opportunity to enjoy more weekend hikes in the mountains or to wake up to a lakeside sunrise, people are moving to areas that were once thought of as vacation spots.”

Even with today’s home prices and mortgage rates, here’s why a move like this could be possible for you. If you’re already a homeowner, the equity you’ll get when you sell your current house can help fuel that move and give you the down payment you’d need for your dream home.

3. People Who Work Remotely Are Taking Advantage of that Flexibility

Ongoing remote work is another major factor in where people are moving. A recent report from the McKinsey Global Institute says this about recent movement patterns:

“Many of these moves happened because employees untethered from their daily commutes began to care less about how far they lived from the office.”

If you’re a remote or hybrid worker, you don’t have to live in the same city, or sometimes even the same state, as your job. That means you can prioritize other things, like being closer to loved ones, when buying a home.

In fact, the same McKinsey Global Institute report notes for people who moved during the pandemic, 55% reported moving farther from the office. And since remote work is still a popular choice today, homebuyers will likely continue to take advantage of that flexibility.

Bottom Line

Lots of people are still moving today. If you want help navigating today’s inventory or affordability challenges, and expert advice to help you find your ideal home, let’s connect.