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
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.
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!
On the House
Charlie Lawson – GCS Title
Recent figures from the government might be a bummer for home builders, but they’re keeping a stiff upper lip. There are so many numbers about what’s going on month-over-month and year-over-year, but there’s a couple of quotes from big brains in the industry that I think explain the fact that builder confidence hasn’t wavered much even though reports indicate their progress has hiccupped a little:
“We still expect strong housing demand and low inventory in the market for previously owned homes to lift single-family housing starts, later in the year.” – Genworth Mortgage Insurance Chief Economist Tian Liu
We mentioned tight inventory in some market areas and price ranges in last week’s blog, so Mr. Liu’s assessment seems right on and a good reason for home buyers to check out new construction. The next quote also touches on something we mentioned in last week’s blog – the fact that rates dropped to a three-year low:
“Solid job creation and low mortgage interest rates will sustain continued gains in the single-family housing market in the months ahead.” – National Association of Home Builders Chief Economist Robert Dietz
Whether you’re looking for a brand new home – or just a home that’s brand new to you – the same things are important: Planning and professional help. Anyone thinking of buying a home needs to get a personal consultation regardless of what your timeframe is. Competition for existing homes can be tough, so pre-approval for a mortgage and great representation will help you make the most of what’s available. We work with many experienced professionals and would be glad to refer you to someone who can help. We also have many builder partners, so let us know if we can help! ~Charlie
On the House
Charlie Lawson – GCS Title
Different aspects of the housing market are going in different directions. But the latest “ups and downs” are pretty favorable. RE/Max is out with its latest National Housing Report and it shows we’ve got a healthy market that’s really picking up:
- The U.S. housing market has gone 50 months without a drop in the median sales price
- Home sales jumped 33.4% from February to March – that’s also a 3.6% year-over-year increase
- Forty-four of the 53 metro areas included in the report experienced home price increases
More homes have sold, prices are holding steady and rising in most areas; we’re also finding that the time it takes a home to sell is decreasing:
- March marked the 36th consecutive month where time on market was fewer than 80 days
- The average days on market in March was 71 – down four days from February and seven days year-over-year
As we’re seeing a jump in market activity, we’re simultaneously seeing a crash in mortgage interest rates. We’ve got the lowest interest rates since May 2013 according to the Primary Mortgage Market Survey from guarantor Freddie Mac. This “crash” is a good thing for a lot of people! Lower rates will make it possible for more people to qualify for mortgages and can stimulate buying activity, allowing more homeowners to be able to move up, downsize or move on. One thing to be concerned about is low housing inventory in some housing areas and price ranges; however, your professional real estate and lending professionals can help you be prepared to compete for the home of your dreams in a fast-paced marketplace. Getting pre-approved for a mortgage (and talking to a lender even if you’re not quite ready to buy) and discussing your goals and preferences with a Realtor will help you navigate the market conditions and take advantage of interest rates that won’t last forever. ~Charlie
We’re in the last month of first quarter 2016 already, we’re anxiously awaiting the change of season, the Home & Garden Show is underway and everybody’s talking about the “Spring Housing Market.” – And if they’re not talking about it, those of us in the business should be! We are heading into the busiest (and most fun) time of year and before we know it, Realtors, Loan Officers and consumers will be trying to take care of business and take advantage of our amazing Minnesota summers. We’ve got time to get ready for the spring market and make sure we get the most out of it before it goes by too fast – like the warm, green months always do. What needs to be done now? For consumers, whether or not they own homes, the first two steps are easy:
1. Talk to a professional real estate agent. For January, CoreLogic reports that home values rose 1.3% from December to January and they’re up 6.9% year-over-year in January. Homeowners may decide it’s time to make a move of some sort they didn’t realize was possible and renters need to explore the markets where they’d eventually like to buy.
2. Talk to an experienced Loan Officer. Financing is often a process that takes planning and time – especially for first-time buyers. Homeowners should also get a mortgage review to check equity postion and make sure they have the best loan in the current conditions.
For industry professionals, let’s work together to reach the people who can truly benefit from home value and seasonal market acceleration. My team and I can connect you with partners in your area, those who have similar goals and specialties and help coordinate co-branded outreach to help as many people as we can. I always want to know how GCS is doing from the closing side, but I also want to know how you’re doing and to work together to create business. Spring is around the corner. Let’s heat up our efforts before everything thaws out!
Ladies and gentlemen it’s official. The Super Bowl is over and Minnesota homebuyers and MN home sellers are ready to take their next steps toward buying or selling a MN home now. The spring market has sprung! I know it’s still a wee-bit chilly outside – still great for enjoying our Minnesota winter sports like my personal favorite of snowmobiling – but these MN home sellers and MN home buyers and itching to start the process today so that they can be into their new MN homes as soon as that snow melts.
Why does this matter if you’re looking at buying or selling a MN home? It means that if you’ve been waiting for more inventory to come on the real estate market, you’re likely to start seeing it now. It also means that you’re likely to start seeing more competition among those listings from other MN homebuyers who are looking at and interested in the same homes.
As interest rates and home prices remain extremely affordable, the MN spring housing market it heating up! It’s time to get in the game today if you’re ready to own a home this early spring or early summer. Got questions or need to get connected to a real estate agent or mortgage professional in your area? We have had the pleasure of working with some of Minnesota’s absolute best. Let us know if you need a recommendation!
Eleven months may sound like a long – or short – period of time to you, but when it comes to buying a MN home, it’s a pretty good number. The Chief Economist for mortgage guarantor Fannie Mae has some interesting news that should get renters’ attention: Doug Duncan believes “…mortgage rates will edge up only gradually, ending the year around 4.2%.” If this prediction proves true, that gives people almost an entire year to get in position to buy a MN home and still take advantage of interest rates that will most likely not be this low again in their adult lifetimes.
This is an important message that can have huge, long-term positive impact on the financial future of people who take advantage of this low interest rate opportunity. Most industry professionals and experts agree that it’s unlikely interest rates or home prices will go down, so the old phrase “buy low, sell high” applies to today’s market climate.
Let’s make sure the public knows the benefits of homeownership and how it’s key to how most Americans build worth and wealth. I think it’s also important to educate consumers about the fact that the home buying process isn’t confined to just a month or two. We know that people should talk with a lending professional to make a plan to get ready to buy, but the public doesn’t realize that getting qualified can be a process involving different steps over a few months rather than a yes or no answer at a single point in time. We’ve got eleven whole months to get people in position to become homeowners – let’s do this!
Credit scores are going to be making news. Without a lot of boring details, this is because of a new bill on Capitol Hill that will allow other scoring methods besides the dominant, industry-standard Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO). Depending on how excited the media gets about this, the public will likely start hearing things like, “New credit scoring methods will make it easier for low and middle-income people and those without traditional credit histories to now be considered for mortgage loans.”
The bill – known as the Credit Score Competition Act of 2015 – is well-received within the industry. National Association of Mortgage Professionals past President John Councilman says, “The need to rethink credit scoring is long overdue – the current system shuts out some creditworthy borrowers.” Sounds good, right? It basically is…but it’s still important for consumers to get educated by lending and real estate professionals about what their specific options and challenges are.
The internet has been good and evil for the home buying process. News like the potential for people to use things like their rent payment history and other things to build a credit profile will open the door to all kinds of offers and promotions by online entities just looking to make a quick buck than build clients for life. “Too good to be true” offers that waste peoples’ time could sour bona fide potential clients on the idea and process of buying a home. That’s just wrong!
If you’re a consumer wondering if the changes in the works could help you, we can connect you with responsible, experienced professionals that can give you the real scoop for your specific situation. To our mortgage and real estate partners, let’s work together to make sure this piece of good news doesn’t backfire for the people it’s intended to benefit.