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
…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
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.
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
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
The Spring-Summer market is underway and everywhere you read and watch, you’ll find comments about the real estate market, interest rate movement, shortages of homes for sale in certain areas and price ranges. People outside the real estate and mortgage industries may wonder what it all means – and if they don’t, they should. It’s so easy to draw a conclusion about how the market’s doing, whether or not it’s a good time to buy or sell, if mortgage interest rates are good and so on. The problem with that is, it’s virtually impossible to know whether or not that conclusion is true without information from a real estate and mortgage professional that was researched and prepared specifically for an individual or family. Here are some questions consumers should NEVER try to answer by reading the news or surfing the net alone:
- Can I afford and qualify for a home?
- Can I get enough money for my home to buy a different one?
- Are interest rates good or should I wait to see if they’ll go lower?
- Is it a good time to buy a home or are prices going to hold steady or go down?
These are just a few typical questions that should be verified with a review of your personal situation. Drawing the wrong conclusion based on general information or statistics can cause you to miss an opportunity. Don’t worry – you don’t have to “sign your life away” to get a professional, specific opinion. We at GCS Title work with many experienced professionals and can connect you with people who can answer your questions with no obligation or pressure. Let us know what questions are on your mind – we’re happy to help you get them answered. ~ Charlie
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
A few weeks ago we pointed out that Minneapolis made a Top 10 List for downtowns to buy a home in and this week it’s all about the suburbs. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) is constantly conducting surveys and publishing consumer sentiment and preferences. NAR’s latest report found that 85% of current homeowners and 75% of current renters prefer a suburban single-family house versus 15% of homeowners and 21% of renters aiming to buy a residence in an urban area. Anyone who has noticed the number of units being built in our Minneapolis-Saint Paul downtown areas might disagree with this comment from NAR’s chief economist Lawrence Yun: “The American Dream for most consumers is not a cramped, 500-square-foot condo in the middle of the city, but instead a larger home within close proximity to the jobs and entertainment an urban area provides.”
The last thing I want to do is pit urban lifestyle against life in the ‘burbs – to each his or her own. But that’s just it – we at GCS Title and our Realtor and Loan Officer partners are all about helping you own – whatever type of property best suits your personal taste and situation. Homeownership is still the way many Americans build their worth and financial futures, so don’t let trends, general media reports or anyone else besides a qualified professional help you make the huge decision of what – whether – where or when to buy your own home. Of course we navigate you through your closing, but we also work closely with amazing professionals every day and we’re happy to help you find the right real estate and lending professional to get your questions answered! ~Charlie