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
Seems like you can’t look, watch or listen to anything without hearing something about mortgage interest rates, the impact of Brexit an rates and even “more historic lows” and a possible refi boom. There’s a ton of articles, information, speculation and opinion about what homeowners can do and gain during times of low interest rates and a lot of it is interesting and helpful. Here are a couple highlights:
- Save thousands of dollars on the life of their loans by getting a lower rate or shorter term (15 vs. 30 year)
- Pay of a home equity line of credit
- Consolidating debt
- Get rid of mortgage insurance
These can all be great things…the problem is, you can’t know for sure if any of these things are possible and if they make sense for you personally when it comes to costs/fees/savings without getting specific, professional advice. While it looks so available online, it’s not necessarily personalized…a mortgage calculator just doesn’t tell the whole story. At GCS Title, we work with many, many incredible mortgage loan officers. These people are licensed, experienced – and they’re actual, local people who you can reach without going through an automated system – which is a big deal when you’re making choices and decisions that affect such a big part of your finances. Loan officers are happy to discuss your situation and let you know if you have options you didn’t know you had and their findings will be geared to what’s right for you – no obligation. Let us know if we can introduce you to a loan officer who can answer your questions…a refi boom could be a great thing – as long as it doesn’t blow up in your face. ~Charlie
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.
It can be hard – and actually kind of boring – to keep up with everything lawmakers are passing that affects the real estate and mortgage industries in the interest of “protecting consumers.” The latest development out of Washington D.C. is passage of the SAFE Transitional Licensing Act that basically gives mortgage loan officers a temporary license when making a change. Those changes could be between companies or across state lines. Why should anyone who isn’t a lender in transition care? The government has spent a lot of time examining the real estate process – lending practices, settlement procedures, licensing, disclosures and marketing rules after the “real estate bubble burst” and the “mortgage meltdown.” All the new rules and scrutiny came after the waves of foreclosures and underwater properties that did in fact cause a great deal of suffering for individuals and the economy. Politicians will always be busy making laws – it’s what they do. We at GCS and the Realtors and lenders we work with also understand that consumers must be protected and empowered. Whether you’re a renter or homeowner, there are many times when real estate and mortgage professionals can be helpful – even outside the times when you’re buying, selling or refinancing. The housing and finance crises of years past have made Realtors and loan officers necessary members of your “household finance team” and they can help you stay on top of your home’s value, your credit, your ability to make a move and your options at any given time. Take advantage of their knowledge and commitment to neighborhoods, communities and your ability to build worth and wealth through homeownership! ~Charlie
You’ve probably heard of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) that affects people’s moods and happiness levels in the winter months when there’s less sunshine. That in mind, some researchers wanted to know if sunshine or clouds affected mortgage loan approvals (not making this up). Folks at the University of Washington compared loan approvals on unexpectedly sunny days to those on unexpectedly cloudy days and found some interesting things: 1) The number of approvals on the sunny days was higher and 2) The “sunny day approvals” also proved more likely to go into default. Anyone who has ever gone through the process of getting a mortgage might (and probably should) freak out to hear this and wonder, “After all the paperwork, scrutiny, explanations and proof of everything, it comes down to SUNSHINE?” It’s not quite that simple, but UW felt their data was strong enough to publicize. UW Associate Finance Professor Ran Duchin says, “The cool thing about this data is that for all the applications that are approved, we could actually trace the performance of those loans being originated, after they’re approved.” Duchin says this data should motivate lenders to investigate “to what extent should we automate some of the decision-making processes … to avoid this sort of human factor, these mistakes.”
I know from years of doing business and working with the finest loan officers and lending institutions that this research makes for an interesting news item, but it’s not even close to the whole story. Things like the weather shouldn’t affect your loan approval or experience as a borrower. One way to make sure you’re not harmed by a “fair weather lender” is to deal with experienced professionals. Get recommendations and research loan officers and companies before making a decision and don’t make an “impulse application” online without due diligence. Anyone who’s ever gotten a mortgage understands how helpful “live humans” are when the process gets stressful and complicated (and that’s practically the definition of “mortgage process”). Ask us! We can connect you with the best of the best.
Ever hear anybody say this – “If I knew then, what I know now….” – ? A lot of us can apply that to many situations in our lives (and not all are suitable for business blogging). I’d love to know – how was 2015 for you? Whether you made your goals, exceeded your goals, fell short of or didn’t make any goals, a new year always brings new opportunity. There’s always business opportunity out there, but the flipping of the calendar is an opportunity for us to mentally hit a reset button and put the bad part of the past behind us, learn from mistakes, figure out how to expand what we did well and basically organize our thoughts and plan to do better. And it’s exciting!
I attended a business planning workshop this fall and am working with other MN real estate and MN mortgage industry professionals to hold ourselves accountable for the goals we set and the way we plan to achieve them. Are you teamed up with anyone to get and stay on track? It doesn’t take much time – but it brings a ton of benefit. I can help you get the planning tools, help and accountability pieces together to make 2016 a great one.
Let’s take steps now so we can celebrate the decision to do so at this time next year!
Here’s to a great 2016!
Owner & President