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Homeownership

Getting a mortgage in 2020, what’s changed?

(HOMEOWNERSHIP) In this unexpected marketplace, here’s some advice on how to get a mortgage in 2020.

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Mortgage papers held in hands with a pen, being handed to the other hands.

Mortgages are terrifying. The idea of being committed to a payment for the next 30 years is a viscerally horrifying concept—which makes it a perfect topic to visit this season. Here is what you need to know about applying for a mortgage in the tail end of 2020.

Firstly, it’s important to understand that while mortgage rates are currently low—the last 3 weeks have seen interest rates dip well below three percent—that doesn’t mean you can expect the lowest possible rate. There are a lot of factors that play into the mortgage rate you receive: Credit, location, estimated value, and even your occupation. For this reason, you should evaluate your own eligibility so you know how “safe” you are before calling your bank.

You should also know that your credit history—while always important—will play even more of a role if you plan on buying any time soon. In the absence of other economic factors, lenders are looking much more closely at debt in comparison to income, and some lenders reserve the right to ask applicants to reduce or eliminate sources of debt before granting a loan.

Another aspect of the loan application process involves extremely timely employment checks—some of which may seem invasive. It isn’t out of the ordinary for lenders to vet applicants’ job stability, including whether or not the job will subject workers to increased risk of contracting COVID; for now, at least, a higher-risk opportunity for you might lead to a more tenuous standing in lenders’ eyes.

Finally, most experts in the loan field agree that helping your loan service help you is a crucial aspect of getting information quickly and accurately—something that is of paramount importance these days. The best way to do this is simply for you to be available to the best of your ability; the quicker you can respond with the necessary information, the faster your selected lender will be able to move you through the application process and get you a quote.

Everything feels uncertain right now, and the real estate field isn’t exempt from that feeling. By following the information here, you can cut back on your own uncertainty—and, in the process, potentially score a decent rate on a mortgage.

Homeownership

Remodeling projects like these increase a home’s value the most

(HOMEOWNERSHIP) Knowing which remodeling projects to tackle when a home is being put on the market can save a lot of wasted effort and money.

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remodeling

If you’re looking to help your clients to identify which projects to tackle before putting their home on the market, look no further: the National Association of Realtors surveyed thousands of real estate agents, industry professionals, and consumers on interior and exterior house remodeling projects, and these are the best projects for upping a home’s value before listing it on the market, ranked on the most value and cost recovery a homeowner can get.

  • Refinishing hardwood floors. Start from the bottom to earn top dollar. Refinishing floors transform a home from worn-out and aging to vibrant and inviting, and only costs about $2500 according to the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI). The project also increases a home’s value by that same amount, meaning a homeowner can recover 100 percent of the costs. Pretty sweet deal.
  • Upgrading insulation. Because it’s what’s inside that counts. This project costs about $2100 based on NARI Remodeler’s estimate and increases a home’s value by $2000 according to Realtors surveyed. That’s a 95% cost recovery.
  • Adding new wood floors. If you don’t have wood floors to refinish, add them in! This costs about $5,500 according to NARI Remodelers, and the increased sales value is $5000. A homeowner can recover 91% of costs from a new wood floor addition.
  • Replacing HVAC system. A new HVAC system adds energy efficiency and refreshes the entire home, and NARI Remodelers estimate doing so costs $7000. The increased value for sellers is $5000 according to NAR REALTORS, meaning an easy breezy 71% cost recovery for homeowners.
  • Converting a basement into a living area. Not only is this cost and space-efficient, it’s also undeniably trendy. A basement makeover costs about $36,000 according to NARI Remodelers estimate and increases value for sellers by $25,000 according to Realtors surveyed. That comes out to a cost recovery of 69%.

Which projects are the most costly?

In case you’re curious, these are some of the most expensive remodeling projects:

  • New master suite. More like master $uite – this costs about $112,500 with a cost recovery of 53%. 
  • Converting an attic into a living area. Cute idea, but also a $65,000 one with a 61% cost recovery. One might say the price is through the roof.
  • Complete kitchen renovation. This project costs an estimated $60,000 with a 67% cost recovery. Even more if you want to throw in a brick oven, and you probably do.
  • New bathroom. With an estimated cost of $50,000 and a 52% cost recovery, make sure you aren’t flushing money down the drain with your bathroom addition!

These trends change over the years, so make sure your knowledge is up to date locally since we all know local trends trump national. Hopefully today you’ve garnered some ammo to help clients better understand how to improve their home’s value!

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Homeownership

Marriage is happening later in the US and the reason is not what you think

(HOMEOWNERSHIP) It’s seemingly later and later that Americans are getting married. You may have ideas as to why, but the reasoning is not what you think.

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marriage move in

As we know, homeownership is a cornerstone of American family life. Homes provide long-term financial stability as a major investment for homeowners. Furthermore, they also provide a strong environment in which to raise a family; so many of us have fond memories of running around our backyards or cozying up in the family room. So, it stands to reason that homeownership and marriage are tied together; many couples will buy a home soon before or soon after marriage.

With all that said, some of the following statistics may be alarming, as it points to a trend that may play into the delay of homeownership.

Lots of data gathered over the past few years shows Americans are marrying later and later, if at all, according to a report from The Guardian. Today, Half of American adults are married, compared to 75% in 1960. The disparities are mostly consistent with class divisions.

Per the Guardian article, “26% of poor adults are married, compared with 51% in 1990.” That same study found 39% of the modern working class of adults are married, but that number was 57% in the 90s.

Education is closely tied with financial status, so an education disparity is also present. Today, 50% of adults with a high school are married; that rate was over 60% 25 years ago.

As the Guardian puts it, “Young people are increasingly seeing marriage as a “capstone” rather than a “cornerstone” event, a crowning achievement once other goals have been reached, rather than a launchpad for adulthood.”

That achievement is financial stability, and many more Americans are feeling a financial crunch.

There’s data to back this up, too. For example, a poll found “nearly half of never-married adults with incomes under 30k say being financially insecure is a major reason” behind their lack of marital commitment to a partner.

Part of a steady income is a steady job, and past Pew Research found 78 of never-married women wanted a future partner to have a steady job.

A decline in manufacturing jobs is contributing to this as well, per some economic research on the subject, which may help to explain how the steepest drops in marriage rates come from the lower and middle class.

It’s not unreasonable to speculate that major living costs factor into that decision as well. For example, with real estate prices going up around the country, especially in major cities with strong job markets, the capstone that is owning a home is pushed farther away from the average American.

If marriage and homeownership are so closely tied together, the delay of one may also contribute to a delay in the other.

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Homeownership

How buyers are competing in a tight housing market

(HOMEOWNERSHIP) It’s a seller’s market with housing supply at an all-time low. Here’s what buyers are doing to increase their chances of buying a home.

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family in their living room with moving boxes during the competitive housing market

Home inventory is at an all-time low in most places around the country. Most people believe that the COVID-19 pandemic is responsible. Families are staying put in their homes, rather than looking for a new place to live. Sellers and realtors are winning in this highly competitive market, making us wonder how buyers are faring.

Cash is king

According to the NAR, cash sales are up by an average of 21%. Buyers are hoping that cash makes their offer more attractive. Closing without a loan has a lot of benefits to the seller. The sale is more likely to close, as it isn’t dependent on a loan. Plus, there are fewer costs involved in the closing. Since 2013, cash sales haven’t been trending upward, so this is an interesting turn for sellers. Buyers who make cash offers reduce the risk of getting rejected by the seller.

Buyers making larger down payments

Sellers also benefit when buyers make a 20% down payment or more. A higher down payment increases the chance of getting a loan. According to the NAR, almost 50% of buyers are making a down payment of at least 20%, which is up from 40% of buyers in 2011. Buyers avoid mortgage insurance premiums, which makes it a win-win for everyone.

Buyers aren’t even offering or negotiating

The third way buyers are coping in this market is to back off and not even make an offer when they know a home already has competition. Why get your hopes up, only to have them dashed when you can’t negotiate?

Will supply return?

The good news is that the housing supply outlook is on the increase. As vaccinations roll out and people feel safer to show their home, more homes should come on the market. Housing permits are up, too. This should help even out the market and give buyers a better chance to find a home.

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