The kids are headed back to the classroom and it got me thinking that a lot of adults could use some schooling as well. So much has changed in mortgage and real estate in the last few years and recent numbers from Black Knight Financial Services show evidence of housing market recovery:
- Home prices are up 5.3% year-over-year
- Prices as of June rose for the 50th consecutive month
Interest rates are still low, but a lot of young people grew up during a time of great real estate distress and haven’t experienced the strong markets that propelled the worth and wealth building of their parents. They also haven’t experienced the evolution of interest rates and how high they’ve been to know anything other than the “historic lows” we’ve had for years. They won’t last…it’s time to get schooled up on the current market and what’s involved in buying a home to make an educated decision as to whether homeownership is possible and the right decision for the long run. The GCS Title team and I work with many outstanding, experienced real estate and mortgage professionals who can “teach” you what’s involved in the process and “instruct” you on your options. We’re happy to introduce you! ~Charlie
Zillow has been busy. That makes sense – it takes a lot of research activity and media attention to create the massive online presence they have. Their latest release is a data analysis with this headline: “14% of Renters Can Afford to Buy.” It’s human nature to react to headlines, and that’s a statement that can either prompt people to say, “Maybe I can qualify to buy a home!” or “There’s more than an 80% chance I can’t qualify to buy a home.” Outside of an initial reaction to a news story, many renters really do want to know two things: Could I buy a home? Should I buy a home? It’s definitely worth finding out the answer to both of these questions.
The “could” question can easily be answered by talking to a qualified mortgage loan officer. Qualified lenders can tell you what your status is now and help you get prepared to get approved for a loan if you’re not quite ready or have some work or organizing to do with your financing. A loan officer can help you plan and give you a timeline.
The “should” question is a little more complicated. Ultimately, the individual consumer needs to decide that homeownership is for them. Realtors can provide information to help you decide if owning a home will help you move forward with your goals in the short and long term. Housing is the biggest monthly expense most of us have. Advice from a qualified mortgage loan officer and Realtor can help you figure out how to get the best return on that huge monthly investment.
The GCS Title team and I can introduce you to great people who can help you answer the “coulds” and “shoulds” of owning a home. We’re here to help! ~Charlie
I’m surprised to hear that a member of the public knows what title insurance IS, so imagine my reaction when I heard someone “got in a fight about title insurance.” A friend is on the Board of Directors of her condominium association and apparently got in quite the dustup with others on the board over whether or not they needed to buy title insurance on parking spaces the association was buying downtown Minneapolis. Luckily, she was in the majority and the association purchased policies for all of the spaces, but some common perceptions and misperceptions about title insurance came up in the “argument.” Dissenting board members argued the following things:
- Title insurance is expensive.
Well, it does cost money – but the price is nothing compared to the expense of defending yourself against a lawsuit, mechanic’s lien or another hostile claim to the ownership of and equity in your property.
- We’re buying five parking spaces, but we only need title insurance on one.
Wrong! These parking spaces are newly-constructed and the chance of mechanic’s liens popping up is higher than on a piece of property that has been built for many years. Also, every owner of each piece of property generally gets named in the types of suits that these new spaces are vulnerable to. If something went wrong, the only space protected would be the one with a policy.
- Title companies only insure things when there is no risk.
Wrong again. I could tell you so many stories….
There’s a reason lenders require title insurance policies – they need to make sure their interests are protected. Home buyers should do the same. Title insurance protects you against things you never imagined would come up. The lady that went to the mat to convince her condo board to buy title insurance was pushing to spend some of the association’s money – but the amount they paid is well worth what they’ll save if there’s a problem. Got questions? The GCS Title team and I are here – call anytime! ~Charlie
…when a house goes on the market these days! Zillow’s June Market Report says properties are selling one week faster than they did a year ago and there are 5% fewer homes on the market. The average time on market for a home is 78 days nationwide – including the time it takes to close! Here are some things people need to know about these fast-paced market conditions: Both home buyers and home sellers need to get ready – because things are going to move quick once the sale is set in motion. If you’re buying your first home – or if you’re a seller moving to another home – make sure you have your financing lined up and that you’re pre-approved (that’s different from pre-qualified). If you haven’t found an experienced, professional Realtor and lender to work with – we can help!
Also, GCS Title is all about the customers. We understand the pressures buyers and sellers are under and what how important the transaction we are closing for you is. You can count on us to “bring the hustle” and make sure you can keep up with the market, your closing date and your goals. We’re here to help! ~Charlie
Pokemon might be coming to your neighborhood. The app claiming to get gamers off the couch has sent them into the streets, roaming parks and other public places in a zombie-like state. Online real estate resource Trulia couldn’t resist getting into the game (and probably tapping the phenomenon for publicity) by creating a “cheat map” for enthusiasts that works like this according to Trulia’s senior public relations manager Andrea McDonald: “Assuming the Pokémon in Go are popping up based on the habitat they thrive in, we have tapped into our map making prowess to showcase the potential hotspots across the U.S. for Electric, Fire, Grass, Psychic and Water Pokémon types.”
Whether you’re looking to “catch ’em all” or for someplace to live, apps can be a great help. They don’t replace the expertise of great real estate agents though. We happen to know a lot of them and we’re happy to connect you. The GCS Title team also works really hard to make sure buyers and sellers don’t feel like they’re walking blindly through the closing process…we love being part of your home buying and selling experience. How can we help you? ~Charlie
If you read the team bios at gcstitle.com, you’ll notice themes: We all appreciate how every day in this business is different, we thrive on solving problems and we love helping people – not only buyers and sellers who are going through an important transaction that they only do a handful of times in their lives, but the Realtors as well. The 2016 National Association of Realtors member profile came out recently and I noticed that the median gross income for agents with 16 years of experience or more went up $4600 last year – great news for those seasoned pros. Not so great news was the fact that NAR members with two years of experience or less fell $600. Being self-employed and working on straight commission is challenging and we understand the importance of every client and transaction to the Realtors we work with and we consistently work to help agents and loan officers to develop business instead of simply asking them for it.
Closings and everything that goes into them is our business at GCS but we believe our role extends beyond that in the industry and beyond. We also work with our real estate and lending partners to reach out to the buying and selling public, participate in community events with Spare Key, support our veterans through organizations like the American Warrior Initiative. We believe we’re all in this together and we’re always looking for ways to support our partners and community. How can we help you? ~Charlie
Every day, the GCS Title team and I talk with real estate and mortgage professionals. A hot topic lately is “low inventory” in some areas and price ranges. It’s an issue at the national level too according to Zillow – their Chief Economist Dr. Svenja Gudell says, ” There still aren’t enough homes on the market to keep up with the high demand from every type of home buyer. In many markets, those looking to buy a home in the bottom or middle of the market will need to be prepared for bidding wars and homes selling for over the asking price. This summer’s selling season’s borders will most likely be blurred again as many buyers are left without homes and will need to keep searching.” With this in mind, it’s a great idea for current homeowners to find out what their properties are worth. CoreLogic reported that home prices grew 6.7% year-over-year nationwide, so you could have more equity than you think.
Homeowners: Have you checked in with a Realtor lately? You may have options you didn’t know you had. We can connect you with great real estate pros who can give you current, accurate information for your home and neighborhood. Get a status report…you may get some big ideas!
Home prices are up again, though not as much as previous months. It’s funny…the real estate and lending industry trades announce things like the 5% year-over-year home appreciation gain noted in the April S&P/Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index cautiously because the April gain was less than the one in March. Here’s where you need to grab the grain of salt: The gain was 5.1% in March – so the “drop” was a whopping .1%. Here’s what the Managing Director and Chairman of the Index Committee at the S&P Dow Jones Indices had to say: “… the greatest threat to U.S. housing may come from across the Atlantic and from the domestic political scene.” While the Brexit vote and the crazy presidential race we’re watching are important, they don’t change the fact that we all need a place to live and the biggest expense most people have each month goes to housing. SO, as industry experts and TV pundits wring their hands in print, on air and online, talk to local industry experts about what’s going on in your neighborhood, city and personal housing scenario. Ask questions…find out how you’re doing personally and if there are any adjustments that you should or could make to protect yourself or advance your goals. Checking in with experienced real estate and mortgage professionals should be part of a regular routine. The news can be really scary, but your local experts are here to interpret markets and events and can give you great advice and peace of mind.
A lot of new rules and changes have hit the real estate and mortgage industries in the last few years. Here’s a little background and an update and then we’ll get to what you really need to know.
The intent of a lot of these new regulations – and all the acronyms that go along with them like CFPB and TRID – is to educate and protect consumers. The Dodd Frank Act is responsible for a lot of changes in the way business is done going forward and there are many folks opposed to all or part of the sweeping bill. A congressman from Texas has now introduced what he calls “the Republican plan to replace Dodd-Frank and promote economic growth.” Its name is Financial CHOICE Act— complete with its own acronym that stands for “Creating Hope and Opportunity for Investors, Consumers and Entrepreneurs.” It’s not clear if it will get anywhere – there’s no companion bill in the Senate yet or official reaction from the rest of Washington.
It’s almost impossible to keep track of everything politicians are up to with regard to real estate and mortgage regulation. For now, know this: You need to surround yourself with great professionals who are up to date on the rules, timelines and how to make the transaction go as smooth as possible for everyone involved. At GCS Title, we have an amazing team dedicated to doing just that. Meet our great people here: https://www.gcstitle.com/meet-the-team/
Whether you’re a Realtor, a loan officer, a homeowner or potential buyer, we want you to know “we get it” and we’re here to help. Call us any time! ~Charlie
A very official-sounding report called “Government Regulation in the Price of a New Home” released by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) that has some surprising info. It claims that government regulations and the cost of complying with them make up nearly one-fourth of the price of a new home. Think about that as you walk through the model on a new construction project or a house on the Parade of Homes! You can read about it yourself at https://www.nahb.org/en/news-and-publications/press-releases/2016/05/regulatory-costs-account-for-nearly-a-quarter-of-the-price-of-a-new-home.aspx .
Apparently, the costs associated with regulation have jumped 30% between 2011 and 2015 which coincides with the launch of the main agency and many new rules associated with the Dodd Frank reform bill. NAHB’s CEO Jerry Howard says “The cost of regulation in the price of a new home is rising more than twice as fast as the average American’s ability to pay for it. That is simply not sustainable.” Even though the rules and regulations that have been created for and imposed on real estate and mortgage transactions were mostly created by politicians, our “On the House” blog isn’t about politics. We’re here to share important and interesting news that affects consumers, mortgage loan officers and Realtors.
We at GCS Title think the takeaway is this: The NAHB report highlights how many regulations there are and we’re here to help consumers and our real estate and mortgage partners navigate the rules to successful closing. Our entire team is dedicated to making the process as easy and comfortable for everyone involved. Got questions? We’re here to help!