Market Watch – New Home Sales UP 📈

Forget earlier this year when we saw new home sales actually drop. New home sales for March went up… a lot, up more than 20% in March compared to February, according to data provided by HUD. In fact it wasn’t just a monthly increase but March saw the strongest new home sales in over 14 years! Not since September 2006 have new home sales been at a faster clip.

A combination of low interest rates and high demand look to fuel new home growth for the foreseeable future. The biggest obstacle to new home construction now is a surge in lumber prices which is adding on over $35,000 to the cost of average new single family home according to the National Association of Home Builders.

Overall new home sales growth is up in most of the nation lead by the Midwest and South are up over 50%.


How To Win A Bidding War

The housing market has extremely tight inventory and as a result there are often multiple bids on a home. If you find yourself competing with multiple bidders, here are some tips to come out on top and win a bidding war.
Preapproval Letter
Have a preapproval letter. A preapproval letter shows you are serious and there won’t be trouble getting a mortgage. Without this other bidders will be in a much stronger position.
Make A Higher Offer
Before doing this, make sure you stay within your budget, but a higher offer is (as common sense dictates) often a key to a winning bid. Your real estate agent can be helpful here to get an idea of how many bids are coming in as well as current market prices in the area.
A really good strategy is to add an escalation clause. This helps you avoid overbidding, you can say you will outbid competing offers by a certain amount (for example $5,000) up to a set maximum price.
Write A Letter
A personal letter to the seller about why you love the property and perhaps why you can’t bid higher can be effective. If you explain what you love about the property and give some background on why you can’t bid higher it can leave a great impression and of course it doesn’t cost you anything to write a letter!
Backup Offer
If your bid does not get accepted, then its normally time to keep looking, however you can try to make a backup offer if there is a kick-out clause and have your realtor stay in touch to see if there are issues with the accepted buyers offer.


Market Watch – Rates Drop – Housing Red Hot

Market Watch – Rates Drop – Housing Red Hot
This week we’ve seen rates drop below 3 percent for the first time in months. Freddie Mac reported the average for 30-year-rate-mortgage was 2.97%. This is the first drop below 3% in months and makes refinancing more attractive. The 15 year rate was nearly 2 and a quarter with Freddie reporting the 15-year fixed-rate average was 2.29%

The housing marketing remains scorching hot. Cities are seeing increased activity now as well. Inventories are at extremely low levels which is pushing prices higher as more buyers are entering the market. With inventory so tight and many buyers entering the market, we recommend you consult use for a free qualification to see how much you home you can finance and get a pre-qualification letter to help you get a hand up in the buying process.


Real Estate Investing 101

A lot of folks want to invest in real estate as a way to build wealth. Here are some basic starting points if this is something you’ve been thinking about.
There are two main models that people use when investing in residential real estate – fix and flip or using it as a rental property.
Regardless of which one you want to focus on, the old adage of location, location, location still holds.
A property in need of TLC in a good neighborhood or an area that is up and coming are great strategies.
Build a network and actively research – it’s a good idea to be in touch with a few realtors who can alert you of new listings that are coming to market.
You’ll also want to have a clear idea of your goals, budget and commitment. If you’re fixing and flipping – who is going to do the fixing, if its you, how much time do you have to focus on it.
If you’re renting you’ll want to know the market rents and have clear renting guidelines – the old 1% rule is not used as much anymore as it doesn’t apply to many or most markets but with low interest rates you can try something like 0.8% rule.
Whatever your plan, you’ll definitely want to get per-qualified first. Give us a call and see what you can qualify for and we’ll help get you that pre-qual letter!


How To Boost Your Curb Appeal

Curb appeal is real, it matters, and it’s one of the easiest, lowest cost ways to increase the value and sellability of your home. All those expressions about making a first impression fit houses too! So here are a few tips for boosting curb appeal that can be done in a weekend on a budget.
Make an Entrance
Your entrance and front door should be inviting. You can repaint, restain or maybe replace the front door. Also plants and flowers can really help, often two pieces on either side of an entryway will help frame the entrance.
Having some lights to frame the house in the evening can really make it pop, so check your garage and porch lights and consider investing in some new ones, there are good solar ones now that go on automatically at night and don’t require wiring.
Numbers Numbers Numbers
If your house numbers are old and hard to read, consider getting some new ones and we advise making them easy to read.
Return the old Mailbox to sender
If your mailbox is old and weathered, a new one can really help.
These are all low cost little steps that make a huge difference!


How To Get Your Down Payment Funded

As we see home prices rise, home buyers (especially first-home buyers) need to determine how they will get funds for their down payment. Traditional loans require a 20% down payment, however there are other programs that do not require this large amount. VA loans require zero down payment, and if you qualify FHA loan down payments can be as low as 3.5% down. If you can’t do 20% many lenders may require private mortgage insurance (PMI) on the loan.
Here are typical sources of down payments
Savings – If possible, you should start saving for the down payment a few years in advanced.
Gift Funds are used by many people as well. A friend, relative or employer may help you with assistance towards the down payment. If you do this, its important to keep records of the gift and your lender may ask for a signed gift letter to certify the funds were a gift.
Inheritance is also a common source , note that funds must be available prior the loan closing.
Programs and Grants
There are a number federal, state and local down payment assistance programs that may be available to provide down payment assistance.

Its best to contact us and we can review your situation and see what program best fits your needs and what you may qualify for, so click on our online prequal for more!


How Owning A Home Can Lower Your Taxes

As we enter tax season, it seems like a good time to talk about how owning a home can help lower your tax bill. First, lets clarify that you’ll need to do an itemized return to take advantage of the deductions. Second the deductions are just that deductions from the income that is subject to tax, not just looping that number off your tax bill.
So now that we’re clear 😊lets review. The biggest one, you may already be familiar with – the interest deduction. The money you pay in interest over the year on your loan is fully deductible on the first $750,000 of your loan or up to $1 million if your loan was originated before December 15, 2017.
The other biggie is deducting property taxes. You can deduct up to $10,000 in state and local taxes including property taxes.
Another deductible is if you paid points to lower your interest rate – this payment is tax deductible.
Finally another popular deduction is one many of came to know last year – the home office. However even though many of have one now – the deduction is meant only for the self employed – if you work full time for a company it may not qualify.


Buying A Home with Student Loan Debt

The good news is you went to college, studied hard and earned your education, the other side for some is student loan debt. Having loans is not a deal breaker but it will factor into the important debt-to-income (or DTI) ratio, and mortgage underwriters are primarily looking at the numbers so having it be student loan debt isn’t different from a car loan in the math.

Strategies to get approved with student loan debt
Pay it down – this maybe easier said than done but if you have extra money or got a raise then try to pay down the debt
Consolidate it – if you can consolidate your debt and lower your monthly payment (even not the overall loan amount) this will help your monthly DTI ratio
Co-sign – this can be a delicate process but its one to consider if you have a trustworthy, reliable family member or friend

Programs and Assistance
Sometimes a conventional mortgage might not be possible but there are options!
FHA, VA, and USDA loans offer a lot more flexibility and lower down payments than traditional mortgages
Grants and Programs – there are a number of grants and programs out there from the federal to local level that you may qualify for
If you’re interested in qualifying for a loan but worried about your student debt give us a call or apply online and we can see what best fits your needs!


Top 10 Things In A New Neighborhood

A lot of Americans have moved or considered moving in the last year. When you move you aren’t just moving into a new home but also a neighborhood, so you want to be sure to check the area out carefully, here are 10 things to consider.
1. Property Taxes – you should look at property taxes and also how much they’ve increased in the last five years and if any increases are planned. It’s a good idea to build this into your budget too.
2. Amenities – check what’s nearby based on your interests, restaurants, groceries stores, houses of worship etc.
3. Future development – it’s a good idea to check and see what future development is planned – it might be a good or bad thing but either way its worth checking.
4. Crime rates – you can check local crime rates online or even contact the local police department to get a better feel.
5. See the area for yourself – its best to hang around the area especially at different times of the day to get a feel for what its really like.
6. Commute times – you probably already thought about this but make sure to check the times during rush hour too.
7. Schools – if you have kids, you already thought about this. But good schools can also be a good sign of a well-kept neighborhood.
8. Housing Values – check the current values and compare them with five and 10 years ago.
9. Walkability and activities – depending on your tastes see what activities are nearby.
10. Personal Fit – everyone has different tastes so try to match the neighborhood with yours – new or old, tight-knit or independent, quiet or bustle, these are individual fits but finding the right one will help you enjoy your home that much more!
And of course reach out to us with questions and if you haven’t gotten pre-qualified yet make sure you do 🙂


Should You Buy A Fixer-Upper?

With the housing market tight in many parts of the country and affordability a big issue for many would be buyers, buying a fixer-upper might be tempting. We’ve all seen the home make-over shows with amazing before and afters but should you do it?
Here are a few things to consider:
1. Know Your Limits
How much of the work can you do. How much time do you have to put into renovations. Are you prepared to live in a work zone for a while
2. Work Out Costs In Advance
Have a contractor walk through the inspection with you and get a written estimate for work he would do. If you are doing the work yourself price the costs of supplies, either way add 15% to the costs because surprises are likely.
3. Check Permitting Costs and Procedures
Check with local officials to see if the work requires a permit and the permit costs.
4. Be Extra Careful with Structural Issues
If the house requires structural repairs then double check the work and pricing. Hire a structural engineer to do an inspection and if structural work needs to be done make sure your bid discounts this work
5. Include Inspection Contingencies
Make sure you hire professional inspectors and check for hidden issues like mold, piping issues, pest damage etc. And if things come up ask for discounts. And if too many red flags come up or the seller won’t properly discount the costs for repair then you may want walk away and keep looking!