Housing inventory is at an all-time low. There are 39% fewer homes for sale today than at this time last year, and buyer demand continues to set records. Zillow recently reported:
“Newly pending sales are up 25.5% compared to the same week last year, the highest year-over-year increase in the weekly Zillow database.”
Whenever there is a shortage in supply of an item that’s in high demand, the price of that item increases. That’s exactly what’s happening in the real estate market right now. CoreLogic’s latest Home Price Index reports that values have increased by 5.5% over the last year.
This is great news if you’re planning to sell your house; on the other hand, as either a first-time or repeat buyer, this may instead seem like troubling news. However, purchasers should realize that the price of a house is not as important as the cost. Let’s break it down.
There are several factors that influence the cost of a home. The two major ones are the price of the home and the interest rate at which a buyer can borrow the funds necessary to purchase the home.
Last week, Freddie Mac announced that the average interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was 2.87%. At this time last year, the rate was 3.73%. Let’s use an example to see how that difference impacts the true cost of a home.
Assume you purchased a home last year and took out a $250,000 mortgage. As mentioned above, home values have increased by 5.5% over the last year. To buy that same home this year, you would need to take out a mortgage of $263,750.
How will your monthly mortgage payment change based on today’s lower mortgage rate?
This table calculates the difference in your monthly payment:That’s a savings of $61 monthly, which adds up to $732 annually and $21,960 over the life of the loan.
Even though home values have appreciated, it’s a great time to buy a home because mortgage rates are at historic lows.
When most of us begin searching for a home, we naturally start by looking at the price. It’s important, however, to closely consider what else impacts the purchase. It’s not just the price of the house that matters, but the overall cost in the long run. Today, that’s largely impacted by low mortgage rates. Low rates are actually making homes more affordable now than at any time since 2016, and here’s why.
Today’s low rates are off-setting rising home prices because it’s less expensive to borrow money. In essence, purchasing a home while mortgage rates are this low may save you significantly over the life of your home loan.
Taking a look at the graph below with data sourced from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the higher the bars rise, the more affordable homes are. The orange bars represent the period of time when homes were most affordable, but that’s also reflective of when the housing bubble burst. At that time, distressed properties, like foreclosures and short sales, dominated the market. That’s a drastically different environment than what we have in the housing market now.
The green bar represents today’s market. It shows that homes truly are more affordable than they have been in years, and much more so than they were in the normal market that led up to the housing crash. Low mortgage rates are a big differentiator driving this affordability.
What are the experts saying about affordability?
Experts agree that this unique moment in time is making homes incredibly affordable for buyers.
Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist, NAR:
“Although housing prices have consistently moved higher, when the favorable mortgage rates are factored in, an overall home purchase was more affordable in 2020’s second quarter compared to one year ago.”
Bill Banfield, EVP of Capital Markets, Quicken Loans:
“No matter what you’re looking for, this is a great time to buy since the current low interest rates can stretch your spending power.”
Mortgage News Daily:
“Those shopping for a home can afford 10 percent more home than they could have one year ago while keeping their monthly payment unchanged. This translates into nearly $32,000 more buying power.”
“Homeowners are the clear winners. Low mortgage rates mean the cost of owning is at historically low levels and who gains all the benefits of strong house price appreciation? Homeowners.”
When purchasing a home, it’s important to think about the overall cost, not just the price of the house. Homes on your wish list may be more affordable today than you think. Let’s connect to discuss how affordability plays a role in our local market, and your long-term homeownership goals.
With so few houses for sale today and low mortgage rates driving buyer activity, bidding wars are becoming more common. Multiple-offer scenarios are heating up, so it’s important to get pre-approved before you start your search. This way, you can put your best foot forward – quickly and efficiently – if you’re planning to buy a home this season.
Javier Vivas, Director of Economic Research at realtor.com, explains:
“COVID-19 has accelerated earlier trends, bringing even more buyers than the market can handle. In many markets, fierce competition, bidding wars, and multiple offer scenarios may be the common theme in the weeks to come.”
Here are three things you can do to make your offer a competitive one when you’re ready to make your move.
1. Be Ready
A recent survey shows that only 52% of active homebuyers obtained a pre-approval letter before they began their home search. That means about half of active buyers missed out on this key part of the process.
Buyers who are pre-approved are definitely a step ahead when it’s time to make an offer. Having a pre-approval letter indicating you’re a qualified buyer shows sellers you’re serious. It’s often a deciding factor that can tip the scale in your direction if there’s more than one offer on a home. It’s best to contact a mortgage professional to start your pre-approval process early, so you’re in the best position right from the start of your home search.
2. Present Your Best Offer
In a highly competitive market, it’s common for sellers to pick a date and time to review all offers on a house at one time. If this is the case, you may not have an opportunity to negotiate back and forth with the sellers. As a matter of fact, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) notes:
“Not only are properties selling quickly, but they are also getting more offers. On average, REALTORS® reported nearly three offers per sold property in July 2020.”
Make sure the offer you’re presenting is the best one the sellers receive. A real estate professional can help you make sure your offer is a fair and highly competitive one.
3. Act Fast
With existing homes going like hotcakes, there’s no time to waste in the process. NAR reports how the speed of home sales is ramping up:
“Properties typically remained on the market for 22 days in July, seasonally down from 24 days in June and from 29 days in July 2019. Sixty-eight percent of homes sold in July 2020 were on the market for less than a month.”
In addition, NAR notes:
“Total existing-home sales…jumped 24.7% from June to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.86 million in July. The previous record monthly increase in sales was 20.7% in June of this year. Sales as a whole rose year-over-year, up 8.7% from a year ago (5.39 million in July 2019).”
As you can see, the market is gaining steam. For two consecutive months houses have sold very quickly. Essentially, you may not have time to sleep on it or shop around when you find a home you love. Chances are, someone else loves it too. If you take your time, it may not be available when you’re ready to commit.
The housing market is very strong right now, and buyers are scooping up available homes faster than they’re coming to market. If you’re planning to purchase a home this year, let’s connect to discuss the trends in our current area, so you’re ready to compete – and win.
You may have heard that pre-approval is a great first step in the homebuying process. But why is it so important? When looking for a home, the temptation to fall in love with a house that’s outside your budget is very real. So, before you start shopping around, it’s helpful to know your price range, what you’re comfortable within a monthly mortgage payment, and ultimately how much money you can borrow for your loan. Pre-approval from a lender is the only way to do this.
According to a recent survey from realtor.com, many buyers are making the mistake of skipping the pre-approval step in the homebuying process:
“Of over 2,000 active home shoppers who plan to purchase a home in the next 12 months, only 52% obtained a pre-approval letter before beginning their home search, which means nearly half of home buyers are missing this crucial piece of paperwork.”
This paperwork (the pre-approval letter) shows sellers you’re a qualified buyer, something that can really help you stand out from the crowd in the current ultra-competitive market.
How competitive is today’s market? Extremely – especially among buyers.
With limited inventory, there are many more buyers than sellers right now, and that’s fueling the competition. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), homes are receiving an average of 2.9 offers for sellers to negotiate, so bidding wars are heating up.
Pre-approval shows homeowners you’re a serious buyer. It helps you stand out from the crowd if you get into a multiple-offer scenario, and these days, it’s likely. When a seller knows you’re qualified to buy the home, you’re in a better position to potentially win the bidding war and land the home of your dreams.
Danielle Hale, Chief Economist for realtor.com notes:
“For ‘a buyer in a competitive market, it’s typically essential to have pre-approval done in order to submit an offer, so getting it done before you even look at homes is a smart move that will enable a buyer to move fast to put an offer in on the right home.’”
In addition, today’s housing market is also changing from moment to moment. Interest rates are low, prices are going up, and lending institutions are regularly updating their standards. You’re going to need guidance to navigate these waters, so it’s important to have a team of professionals (a loan officer and a real estate agent) making sure you take the right steps along the way and can show your qualifications as a buyer at the time you find a home to purchase.
In a competitive market with low inventory, a pre-approval letter is a game-changing piece of the homebuying process. If you’re ready to buy this year, let’s connect before you start searching for a home.