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
Home prices are up again according to the latest figures from CoreLogic. In June, U.S. home prices saw a 5.7% year-over-year increase. Anyone looking for a home in the Twin Cities Metro – whether it’s a first home, a move up or a down-size – has probably experienced the fast pace of the market due in part to low housing inventory. Some of that could be attributed to supply and demand, but CoreLogic’s Chief Economist Frank Nothaft says, “Mortgage rates dipped in June to their lowest level in more than three years, supporting home purchases. Local markets with strong economic growth have generally had stronger home-price growth.”
We did a blog recently explaining how home appreciation outpaced a leading investment index in 2015, and this year looks equally strong. If you have questions about whether or not real estate is a sound investment, now is a great time to talk to a real estate professional about the home you have – or the one you want. A conversation with a loan officer is also a great idea – CoreLogic’s chief economist mentioned interest rates and you should find out what they mean to you. At GCS Title, our team helps home buyers and sellers get to the “closing finish line” – but, we’re here for you at other times as well. What does the housing market news mean to you? We can help you get the answers you need – let’s talk! ~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
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 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!
The summer could be a rollercoaster based on new information from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and online real estate resource Zillow. Sales of existing homes went up 1.7% between March and April and they’re up six-percent year-over-year. Prices are higher too: NAR reports that the median home price has jumped 6.3% from April 2015, making this the 50th consecutive month of annual home price gains. So there’s the highs – the lows have to do with housing inventory. The April Zillow Real Estate Market Report shows there are 3.4% fewer homes on the market today than there were this time last year. There’s an eight-percent drop in the number of homes for sale in the entry level price range, making it even tougher for first-time home buyers than other property categories. So we’ve got a supply and demand situation that’s driving prices up. I’m not bringing this up to scare people, but rather to make them aware. These market conditions mean it’s more important than ever for consumers to make sure they’re working with experience, full-time, qualified real estate and mortgage professionals. When bidding wars are likely, top-notch representation is critical. GCS is here to help home buyers and sellers have a great experience throughout the closing process and we work with outstanding Realtors and loan officers every day. Let us know if you’d like to meet one! ~Charlie
Pretty much everybody wants a pat on the back, but absolutely everybody likes money in their pocket. New home price information doesn’t exactly put money in your pocket – more like in your portfolio. CoreLogic says home prices went up 2.1% between February and March and they’re up 6.7% year over year between March 2015 and 2016. Here’s what CoreLogic’s chief economist Frank Nothaft said:
“Housing helped keep U.S. economic growth afloat in the first quarter of 2016 as residential investment recorded its strongest gain since the end of 2012. Low interest rates and increased home building suggest that housing will continue to be a growth driver.”
To real estate and mortgage professionals, these numbers are encouraging for the market and business. Consumers may take them either way…renters in particular may get nervous and think homeownership is out of their reach before they’ve taken even the most preliminary steps to pursue it. Let’s work together to get the word out that while “timing is everything,” it’s also very individualized. Getting help and guidance from professional Realtors and loan officers will help determine the right time to buy a home and getting into one will help people start building equity. Their pocketbooks will appreciate it. Let’s help them get started! ~ Charlie
I guess you could say MN is physically in the middle of the country, but you might find it surprising to find that it’s in the same position with regard to median rents. Check this out: Nationally, the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment is $1140 and $1300 for a two-bedroom. We’re keeping right up here in Minnesota – the average price for a one-bedroom in the metro area is $1036 and $1438 for a two-bedroom. Year over year, rents are up 2.8% nationwide as of April. Isaac Newton’s famous quote “What goes up must come down” never seems to apply to things that require money coming from your pocket, so it’s doubtful rents will be headed in the opposite direction.
Price, market, interest rate fluctuations and compliance issues make it really hard to publish comparisons between monthly rent and payments on a home. But that shouldn’t stop those of us in the industry from having comparisons on hand between rent and mortgage payments that can be rattled off in conversation with our leads, prospects, strangers and anyone else we come in contact with. The fact that a home can be purchased for the same amount or less than rent often sparks “water cooler conversations” and a lot of questions that we and our Realtor and loan officer partners are happy to answer. Let’s get the buzz going!