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Ways To Use Your Tax Refund If You Want To Buy a Home

Ways To Use Your Tax Refund If You Want To Buy a Home

Have you been saving up to buy a home this year? If so, you know there are a number of expenses involved – from your down payment to closing costs. But did you also know your tax refund can help you pay for some of these expenses? As Credit Karma explains:

“If one of your goals is to stop renting and buy a home, you’ll need to save up for closing costs and a down payment on the mortgage. A tax refund can give you a start on the road to homeownership. If you’ve already started to save, your tax refund could move you down the road faster.”

While how much money you may get in a tax refund is going to vary, it can be encouraging to have a general idea of what’s possible. Here’s what CNET has to say about the average increase people are seeing this year:

The average refund size is up by 6.1%, from $2,903 for 2023’s tax season through March 24, to $3,081 for this season through March 22.”

Sounds great, right? Remember, your number is going to be different. But if you do get a refund, here are a few examples of how you can use it when buying a home. According to Freddie Mac:

  • Saving for a down payment – One of the biggest barriers to homeownership is setting aside enough money for a down payment. You could reach your savings goal even faster by using your tax refund to help.
  • Paying for closing costs – Closing costs cover some of the payments you’ll make at closing. They’re generally between 2% and 5% of the total purchase price of the home. You could direct your tax refund toward these closing costs.
  • Lowering your mortgage rate – Your lender might give you the option to buy down your mortgage rate. If affordability is tight for you at today’s rates and home prices, this option may be worth exploring. If you qualify for this option, you could pay upfront to have a lower rate on your mortgage.

The best way to get ready to buy a home is to work with a team of trusted real estate professionals who understand the process and what you’ll need to do to be ready to buy.

Bottom Line

Your tax refund can help you reach your savings goal for buying a home. Let’s talk about what you’re looking for, because your home may be more within reach than you think.

Source: https://www.simplifyingthemarket.com/en/2024/04/15/ways-to-use-your-tax-refund-if-you-want-to-buy-a-home?a=5256-fd674d1a840c47baa4da566e9ff662ab

Should I Move with Today’s Mortgage Rates?

Should I Move with Today’s Mortgage Rates?

When mortgage rates spiked up over the last few years, some homeowners put their plans to move on pause. Maybe you did too because you didn’t want to sell and take on a higher mortgage rate for your next home. But is that still the right strategy for you?

In today’s market, data shows more homeowners are getting used to where rates are and thinking it may be time to move. As Mark Zandi, Chief Economist at Moody’s Analyticsexplains:

“Listings are up a bit as life events and job changes are putting increasing pressure on locked-in homeowners to sell their homes. Homeowners may also be slowly coming to the realization that mortgage rates aren’t going back anywhere near the rate on their existing mortgage.

recent study from Bank of America sheds light on some of the things homeowners say would make them sell, even with rates where they are right now (see visual below):

a group of blue and white icons

What Would Motivate You To Move?

Now that you know why other people would move, take a minute to think about what would make a move worth it for you. Is it time to take a chance and go for your dream job, even though it’s not local? Are you looking for a neighborhood that has more to offer and a close-knit sense of community? Maybe you just need more space, you’re looking for your next great adventure, or you want a house that opens up rental opportunities to pad your income.

And here’s something else to consider. Mortgage rates are still expected to go down over the course of the year. And once that happens, there’s going to be a big rush of buyers jumping back into the market. While you could delay your plans until rates drop, you’ll only have more competition with those buyers if you do.

So, does that mean it’s worth it to move now, even with rates where they are? The answer is: that it depends.

You’ll want to consider today’s mortgage rates, where they’re expected to go from here, and what would prompt you to want to make a change as you decide on your next steps. An expert can help with that.

Bottom Line

Other homeowners are getting used to rates and deciding to move. Let’s chat to go over what matters most to you and if it’s time for you to jump back into the market too.

Source: https://www.simplifyingthemarket.com/en/2024/04/10/should-i-move-with-todays-mortgage-rates?a=5256-fd674d1a840c47baa4da566e9ff662ab

Top 5 Reasons To Hire an Agent When Buying a Home

Top 5 Reasons To Hire an Agent When Buying a Home [INFOGRAPHIC]

a poster of a company's process

Some Highlights

  • Hiring an agent when buying a home helps you understand the buying process and the local market.
  • They’ll also go over contracts and fine print with you, so you understand what you’re agreeing to. Plus, they’re good at negotiating, making sure you get the best deal.
  • Expert advice from a trusted real estate professional is priceless. Let’s connect today.

Source: https://www.simplifyingthemarket.com/en/2024/04/05/top-5-reasons-to-hire-an-agent-when-buying-a-home-infographic?a=5256-fd674d1a840c47baa4da566e9ff662ab

What’s the Latest with Mortgage Rates?

What’s the Latest with Mortgage Rates?

Recent headlines may leave you wondering what’s next for mortgage rates. Maybe you’d previously heard there were going to be cuts this year that would bring rates down. That refers to the Federal Reserve (the Fed) and what they do to their Fed Funds Rate. While cutting, or lowering, the Fed Funds Rate doesn’t directly determine mortgage rates, it does tend to impact them. But when the Fed met last week, a cut didn’t happen — at least, not yet.

There are a lot of factors the Fed considered in their recent decision and most of them are complex. But you don’t need to be bogged down by those finer details. What you really want is the answer to this question: does that mean mortgage rates aren’t going to fall? Here’s what you need to know. 

Mortgage Rates Are Still Expected To Drop This Year

While it hasn’t happened yet, that doesn’t mean it won’t. Even Jerome Powell, the Chairman of the Fedsays they still plan to make cuts this year, assuming inflation cools:

“We believe that our policy rate is likely at its peak for this tightening cycle and that, if the economy evolves broadly as expected, it will likely be appropriate to begin dialing back policy restraint at some point this year.”

When this happens, history shows mortgage rates will likely follow. That means hope isn’t lost. As a recent article from Business Insider explains:

“As inflation comes down and the Fed is able to start lowering rates, mortgage rates should go down, too. . .

What This Means for You

But you don’t necessarily want to wait for it to happen. Mortgage rates are notoriously hard to forecast. There are so many factors at play and any one of those can change the projections as the economy shifts. And it’s why the experts offer this advice. As Mark Fleming, Chief Economist at First American, says:

“Well, mortgage rate projections are just that, projections, not promises and don’t forget how hard it is to forecast them. . . So my advice is to never try to time the market . . . If one is financially prepared and buying a home aligns with your lifestyle goals, then it could be the right time to purchase. And there’s always the refinance option if mortgage rates are lower in the future.”

Basically, if you’re looking to move and trying to time the market, don’t. If you’re ready, willing, and able to move, it may still be worth it to do it now, especially if you can find the home you’ve been searching for.

Bottom Line

If you’re looking to buy a home, let’s connect so you have someone keeping you up-to-date on mortgage rates and helping you make the best decision possible.

Source: https://www.simplifyingthemarket.com/en/2024/03/26/whats-the-latest-with-mortgage-rates?a=5256-fd674d1a840c47baa4da566e9ff662ab

Does It Make Sense To Buy a Home Right Now?

Does It Make Sense To Buy a Home Right Now?

Thinking about buying a home? If so, you’re probably wondering: should I buy now or wait? Nobody can make that decision for you, but here’s some information that can help you decide.

What’s Next for Home Prices?

Each quarter, Fannie Mae and Pulsenomics publish the results of the Home Price Expectations Survey (HPES). It asks more than 100 experts—economists, real estate professionals, and investment and market strategists—what they think will happen with home prices.

In the latest survey, those experts say home prices are going to keep going up for the next five years (see graph below):

a graph of green bars

Here’s what all the green on this chart should tell you. They’re not expecting any price declines. Instead, they’re saying we’ll see a 3-4% rise each year.

And even though home prices aren’t expected to climb by as much in 2025 as they are 2024, keep in mind these increases can really add up over time. It works like this. If these experts are right and your home’s value goes up by 3.78% this year, it’s set to grow another 3.36% next year. And another 3.87% the year after that.

What Does This Mean for You?

Knowing that prices are forecasted to keep going up should make you feel good about buying a home. That’s because it means your home is an asset that’s projected to grow in value in the years ahead.

If you’re not convinced yet, maybe these numbers will get your attention. They show how a typical home’s value could change over the next few years using expert projections from the HPES. Check out the graph below:

a graph of growth in a chart

In this example, imagine you bought a home for $400,000 at the start of this year. Based on these projections, you could end up gaining over $83,000 in household wealth over the next five years as your home grows in value.

Of course, you could also wait – but if you do, buying a home is just going to end up costing you more.

Bottom Line

If you’re thinking it’s time to get your own place, and you’re ready and able to do so, buying now might make sense. Your home is expected to keep getting more valuable as prices go up. Let’s team up to start looking for your next home today.

Source: https://www.simplifyingthemarket.com/en/2024/03/20/does-it-make-sense-to-buy-a-home-right-now?a=5256-fd674d1a840c47baa4da566e9ff662ab

The Benefits of Downsizing When You Retire

The Benefits of Downsizing When You Retire

If you’re taking a look at your expenses as you retire, saving money where you can has a lot of appeal. One long-standing, popular way to do that is by downsizing to a smaller home.

When you think about cutting down on your spending, odds are you think of frequent purchases, like groceries and other goods. But when you downsize your house, you often end up downsizing the bills that come with it, like your mortgage payment, energy costs, and maintenance requirements. Realtor.com shares:

“A smaller home typically means lower bills and less upkeep. Then there’s the potential windfall that comes from selling your larger home and buying something smaller.”

That windfall is thanks to your home equity. If you’ve been in your house for a while, odds are you’ve built up a considerable amount of equity. And that equity is something you can use to help you buy a home that better fits your needs today. Daniel Hunt, CFA at Morgan Stanleyexplains:

Home equity can be a significant source of wealth for retirees, often representing a large portion of their net worth. . . . Retirement planning can be complex, but your home equity shouldn’t be overlooked.”

And when you’re ready to use that equity to fuel your next move, your real estate agent will be your guide through every step of the process. That includes setting the right price for your current house when you sell, finding the home that best fits your evolving needs, and understanding what you can afford at today’s mortgage rate.

What This Means for You

If you’re thinking about downsizing, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do the original reasons I bought my current house still stand, or have my needs changed since then?
  • Do I really need and want the space I have right now, or could somewhere smaller be a better fit?
  • What are my housing expenses right now, and how much do I want to try to save by downsizing?

Then, meet with a real estate agent to get an answer to this one: What are my options in the market right now? A local real estate agent can walk you through how much equity you have in your house and how it positions you to win when you downsize.

Bottom Line

Want to save money in retirement? Consider downsizing – it could really help you out. When you’re ready, let’s connect about your goals in the housing market this year.

Source: https://www.simplifyingthemarket.com/en/2024/03/07/the-benefits-of-downsizing-when-you-retire?a=5256-fd674d1a840c47baa4da566e9ff662ab

Why There Won’t Be a Recession That Tanks the Housing Market

Why There Won’t Be a Recession That Tanks the Housing Market

There’s been a lot of recession talk over the past couple of years. And that may leave you worried we’re headed for a repeat of what we saw back in 2008. Here’s a look at the latest expert projections to show you why that isn’t going to happen.

According to Jacob Channel, Senior Economist at LendingTree, the economy’s pretty strong:

“At least right now, the fundamentals of the economy, despite some hiccups, are doing pretty good. While things are far from perfect, the economy is probably doing better than people want to give it credit for.”

That might be why a recent survey from the Wall Street Journal shows only 39% of economists think there’ll be a recession in the next year. That’s way down from 61% projecting a recession just one year ago (see graph below):

a graph of the economic growth of the economy

Most experts believe there won’t be a recession in the next 12 months. One reason why is the current unemployment rate. Let’s compare where we are now with historical data from Macrotrends, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), and Trading Economics. When we do, it’s clear the unemployment rate today is still very low (see graph below):

a graph of a graph showing the number of employment rate

The orange bar shows the average unemployment rate since 1948 is about 5.7%. The red bar shows that right after the financial crisis in 2008, when the housing market crashed, the unemployment rate was up to 8.3%. Both of those numbers are much larger than the unemployment rate this January (shown in blue).

But will the unemployment rate go up? To answer that, look at the graph below. It uses data from that same Wall Street Journal survey to show what the experts are projecting for unemployment over the next three years compared to the long-term average (see graph below):

a graph of blue bars

As you can see, economists don’t expect the unemployment rate to even come close to the long-term average over the next three years – much less the 8.3% we saw when the market last crashed.

Still, if these projections are correct, there will be people who lose their jobs next year. Anytime someone’s out of work, that’s a tough situation, not just for the individual, but also for their friends and loved ones. But the big question is: will enough people lose their jobs to create a flood of foreclosures that could crash the housing market?

Looking ahead, projections show the unemployment rate will likely stay below the 75-year average. That means you shouldn’t expect a wave of foreclosures that would impact the housing market in a big way.

Bottom Line

Most experts now think we won’t have a recession in the next year. They also don’t expect a big jump in the unemployment rate. That means you don’t need to fear a flood of foreclosures that would cause the housing market to crash.

Source: https://www.simplifyingthemarket.com/en/2024/03/05/why-there-wont-be-a-recession-that-tanks-the-housing-market?a=5256-fd674d1a840c47baa4da566e9ff662ab

Why Today’s Housing Supply Is a Sweet Spot for Sellers

Why Today’s Housing Supply Is a Sweet Spot for Sellers

Wondering if it still makes sense to sell your house right now? The short answer is, yes. And if you look at the current number of homes for sale, you’ll see two reasons why.

An article from Calculated Risk shows there are 15.6% more homes for sale now compared to the same week last year. That tells us inventory has grown. But going back to 2019, the last normal year in the housing market, there are nearly 40% fewer homes available now:

a graph with red and blue squares

Here’s a breakdown of how this benefits you when you sell.

1. You Have More Options for Your Move

Are you thinking about selling because your current house is too big, too small, or because your needs have changed? If so, the year-over-year growth gives you more options for your home search. That means it may be less of a challenge to find what you’re looking for.

So, if you were holding off on selling because you were worried you weren’t going to find a home you like, this may be just the good news you needed. Partnering with a local real estate professional can help you make sure you’re up to date on the homes available in your area.

2. You Still Won’t Have Much Competition When You Sell

But to put that into perspective, even though there are more homes for sale now, there still aren’t as many as there’d be in a normal year. Remember, the data from Calculated Risk shows we’re down nearly 40% compared to 2019. And that large a deficit won’t be solved overnight. As a recent article from Realtor.com explains:

“. . . the number of homes for sale and new listing activity continues to improve compared to last year. However the inventory of homes for sale still has a long journey back to pre-pandemic levels.”

For you, that means if you work with an agent to price your house right, it should still get a lot of attention from eager buyers and could sell fast.

Bottom Line

If you’re a homeowner looking to sell, now’s a good time. You’ll have more options when buying your next home, and there’s still not a ton of competition from other sellers. If you’re ready to move, let’s connect to get the ball rolling.

Source: https://www.simplifyingthemarket.com/en/2024/02/27/why-todays-housing-supply-is-a-sweet-spot-for-sellers?a=5256-fd674d1a840c47baa4da566e9ff662ab

Expert Home Price Forecasts for 2024 Revised Up

Expert Home Price Forecasts for 2024 Revised Up

Over the past few months, experts have revised their 2024 home price forecasts based on the latest data and market signals, and they’re even more confident prices will rise, not fall.

So, let’s see exactly how experts’ thinking has shifted – and what’s caused the change.

2024 Home Price Forecasts: Then and Now

The chart below shows what seven expert organizations think will happen to home prices in 2024. It compares their first 2024 home price forecasts (made at the end of 2023) with their newest projections:

a blue and white graph with text

The middle column shows that, at first, these experts thought home prices would only go up a little this year. But if you look at the column on the right, you’ll see they’ve all updated their forecasts and now think prices will go up more than they originally thought. And some of the differences are major.

There are two big factors keeping such strong upward pressure on home prices. The first is how few homes are for sale right now. According to Business Insider:

Low home inventory is a chronic problem in the US. This has generally kept home prices up . . .”

A lack of housing inventory has been pushing prices up for a long time now – and that’s not expected to change dramatically this year. But what has changed a bit is mortgage rates.

Late last year when most housing market experts were calling for home prices to rise only a little bit in 2024, mortgage rates were up and buyer demand was more moderate.

Now that rates have come down from their peak last October, and with further declines expected over the course of the year, buyer demand has picked up. That increase in demand, along with an ongoing lack of inventory, is what’s caused the experts to feel the upward pressure on prices will be stronger than they expected a couple months ago.

A Look Forward To Get Ahead of the Next Forecast Revisions

Real estate experts regularly revise their home price forecasts as the housing market shifts. It’s a normal part of their job that ensures their projections are always up-to-date and factor in the latest changes in the housing market.

That means they’ll continue to revise their projections as the housing market changes, just as they’ve always done. How those forecasts change next is anyone’s guess, but pay attention to mortgage rates.

If they trend down as the year goes on, as they’re expected to do, that could lead to more buyer demand and even higher home price forecasts.

Basically, it’s all about supply and demand. With supply still so limited, anything that causes demand to go up will likely cause prices to go up, too.

Bottom Line

At first, experts believed home prices would only go up a little this year. But now, they’ve changed their minds and forecast prices will grow even more than they originally thought. Let’s connect so you know what to expect with prices in our area.

Source: https://www.simplifyingthemarket.com/en/2024/02/22/expert-home-price-forecasts-for-2024-revised-up?a=5256-fd674d1a840c47baa4da566e9ff662ab

What’s Really Happening with Mortgage Rates?

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

Let’s connect if you have any questions about what you’re reading or hearing about the housing market.

Source: https://www.simplifyingthemarket.com/en/2024/02/12/whats-really-happening-with-mortgage-rates?a=5256-fd674d1a840c47baa4da566e9ff662ab