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Buying your first home is an exciting decision and a major milestone that has the power to change your life for the better. As a first-time homebuyer, it’s a vision you can bring to life, but, as the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shares, you’ll have to overcome some factors that have made it more challenging in recent years:

“Since 2011, the share of first-time home buyers has been under the historical norm of 40% as buyers face tight inventory, rising home prices, rising rents and high student debt loads.”

That said, if you’re looking to purchase your first home, here are two things you can consider to help make your dreams a reality.

Save Money with First-Time Homebuyer Programs

Being able to pay for the initial costs and fees associated with homeownership can feel like a major hurdle. Whether that’s getting a loan, being able to put together a down payment, or having money for closing costs – there are a variety of expenses that can make buying your first home feel challenging

Fortunately, there are a lot of public and private first-time homebuyer programs that can help you get a loan with little-to-no money upfront. CNET explains:

A first-time homebuyer program can help make homeownership more affordable and accessible by offering lower mortgage rates, down payment assistance and tax incentives.” 

In fact, as Bankrate says, many of these programs are offered by state and local governments:

Many states and local governments have programs that offer down payment or closing cost assistance – either low-interest-rate loans, deferred loans or even forgivable loans (aka grants) – to people looking to buy their first house . . .” 

To take advantage of these programs, contact the housing authority in your state and browse sites like Down Payment Resource.

The Supply of Homes for Sale Is Low, So Explore Every Possibility

It’s a sellers’ market, meaning there aren’t enough homes on the market to meet buyer demand. So, how can you be sure you’re doing everything you can to find a home that works for you? You can increase your options by considering condominiums (condos) and townhomes. U.S. News tells us these housing types are often less expensive than single-family homes:

Condos are usually less expensive than standalone houses . . . They are also less expensive to insure.”

One reason why they may be more affordable is because they’re often smaller. But they still give you the chance to get your foot in the door and achieve your dream of owning and building equity. Beyond that, another major perk is they typically require less maintenance. As U.S. News says in the same article:

The strongest reason for purchasing a condo is that all external maintenance is usually covered by the condo association, such as landscaping, pool maintenance, external painting, paving, plowing and more. This fee also covers some internal maintenance, such as gas, electric, plumbing, HVAC and other mechanical systems.” 

Townhomes and condos are great ways to get into homeownership. Owning your home allows you to build equity, increase your net worth, and can fuel a future move.

The best way to make sure you’re set up for success, especially if you’re just starting out, is to work with a trusted real estate agent. They can educate you on the homebuying process, help you understand your local area to find options that are right for you, and coach you through making an offer in a competitive market.

Bottom Line

Today’s housing market provides some challenges for first-time homebuyers. But, there are still ways to achieve your goals, like utilizing first-time homebuyer programs and considering all of your housing options. Connect with a local real estate professional so you have an expert on your side who can help you navigate the process.

Comparing real estate metrics from one year to another can be challenging in a normal housing market. That’s due to possible variability in the market making the comparison less meaningful or accurate. Unpredictable events can have a significant impact on the circumstances and outcomes being compared. 

Comparing this year’s numbers to the two ‘unicorn’ years we just experienced is almost worthless. By ‘unicorn,’ this is the less common definition of the word:

“Something that is greatly desired but difficult or impossible to find.” 

The pandemic profoundly changed real estate over the last few years. The demand for a home of our own skyrocketed, and people needed a home office and big backyard. 

Waves of first-time and second-home buyers entered the market.Already low mortgage rates were driven to historic lows. The forbearance plan all but eliminated foreclosures.Home values reached appreciation levels never seen before.

It was a market that forever had been “greatly desired but difficult or impossible to find.” A ‘unicorn’ year.

Now, things are getting back to normal. The ‘unicorns’ have galloped off. 

Comparing today’s market to those years makes no sense. Here are three examples: 

Buyer Demand 

If you look at the headlines, you’d think there aren’t any buyers out there. We still sell over 10,000 houses a day in the United States. Of course, buyer demand is down from the two ‘unicorn’ years. But, according to ShowingTime, if we compare it to normal years (2017-2019), we can see that buyer activity is still strong (see graph below):

Home Prices

We can’t compare today’s home price increases to the last couple of years. According to Freddie Mac, 2020 and 2021 each had historic appreciation numbers. Here’s a graph also showing the more normal years (2017-2019):

We can see that we’re returning to more normal home value increases. There were several months of minimal depreciation in the second half of 2022. However, according to Fannie Mae, the market has returned to more normal appreciation in the first quarter of this year.

Foreclosures 

There have already been some startling headlines about the percentage increases in foreclosure filings. Of course, the percentages will be up. They are increases over historically low foreclosure rates. Here’s a graph with information from ATTOM, a property data provider:

There will be an increase over the numbers of the last three years now that the moratorium on foreclosures has ended. There are homeowners who lose their home to foreclosure every year, and it’s heartbreaking for those families. But, if we put the current numbers into perspective, we’ll realize that we’re actually going back to the normal filings from 2017-2019.

Bottom Line

There will be very unsettling headlines around the housing market this year. Most will come from inappropriate comparisons to the ‘unicorn’ years. A real estate professional is a great resource to help you keep everything in proper perspective.

Some Highlights

If you want to sell your house, consider doing it this summer. The days are longer, the weather is warmer, and it’s a great time for sellers.If your needs have changed, now’s the time to capitalize on the low inventory and multiple offers in today’s sellers’ market.Connect with a local real estate agent today if you’re ready to sell your house and move to a home that meets your changing needs.

If you’re trying to decide if now’s the time to sell your house, here’s what you should know. The limited number of homes available right now gives you a big advantage. That’s because there are more buyers out there than there are homes for sale. And, with so few homes on the market, buyers will have fewer options, so you set yourself up to get the most eyes possible on your house.

Here’s what industry experts are saying about why selling now has its benefits:

Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at the National Association of Realtors (NAR):

“Inventory levels are still at historic lows. Consequently, multiple offers are returning on a good number of properties.”

Selma Hepp, Chief Economist at CoreLogic:

“We have not seen the traditional uptick in new listings from existing homeowners, so undersupply of housing will continue to heighten market competition and put pressure on prices in most regions. Some markets are already heating up considerably, but price premiums that we saw last spring and summer are unlikely.”

Clare Trapasso, Executive News Editor at Realtor.com:

“Well-priced, move-in ready homes with curb appeal in desirable areas are still receiving multiple offers and selling for over the asking price in many parts of the country . . .”

Jeff Tucker, Senior Economist at Zillow:

“. . . sellers who price and market their home competitively shouldn’t have a problem finding a buyer.”

Bottom Line

If you’re thinking about selling your house, connect with a real estate advisor who can share the expert insights you need to make the best possible move today.

You’re probably feeling the impact of high inflation every day as prices have gone up on groceries, gas, and more. If you’re a renter, you’re likely experiencing it a lot as your rent continues to rise. Between all of those elevated costs and uncertainty about a potential recession, you may be wondering if it still makes sense to buy a home today. The short answer is – it does. Here’s why. 

Homeownership actually shields you from the rising costs inflation brings.

Freddie Mac explains how: 

“Not only will buying today help you begin to build equity, a fixed-rate mortgage can stabilize your monthly housing costs for the long-term even while other life expenses continue to rise – as has been the case the past few years.”

Unlike rents, which tend to rise with time, a fixed-rate mortgage payment is predictable over the life of the mortgage (typically 15 to 30 years). And, when the cost of most everything else is rising, keeping your housing payment stable is especially important.

The alternative to homeownership is renting – and rents tend to move alongside inflation. That means as inflation goes up, your monthly rent payments tend to go up, too (see graph below):

A fixed-rate mortgage allows you to protect yourself from future rent hikes. With inflation still high, when your rental agreement comes up for renewal, your property manager may decide to increase your payments to offset the impact of inflation. Maybe that’s why, according to a recent survey, 73% of property managers plan to raise rents over the next two years.

 Having your largest monthly expense remain stable in a time of economic uncertainty is a major perk of homeownership. If you continue to rent, you don’t have that same benefit and aren’t as protected from rising costs.

Bottom Line

A stable housing payment is especially important in times of high inflation. Connect with a real estate agent so you can learn more and start your journey to homeownership today.

For many of us, visiting the same vacation spot every year is a summer tradition that’s fun, relaxing, and restful. If that sounds like you, now’s the time to think about your plans and determine if buying a vacation home this year makes more sense than renting one again. According to Forbes

“. . . if the idea of vacationing at the same place every year makes you feel instantaneously relaxed, buying a vacation home might be a wise move.”  

To help you decide if making a move like this is right for you, let’s explore why you may want to consider purchasing a vacation home today. 

Benefits of Owning Your Vacation Home

You don’t have to worry about finding a place to stay. It can be a challenge to find a rental where you want, when you want. Some summer vacation destinations are more popular than others, meaning your favorite place may be booked up in advance. Bankrate explains why owning your vacation home means you don’t have to worry about that sort of inconvenience: 

“. . . a second home can offer a place to have quality time with your family and ensures that you always have a vacation destination.”  

It’s an investment. Home values typically appreciate over the long haul. That holds true for your vacation home as well, especially if it’s in an area with growing market demand. This can help grow your net worth with time.  

Vacation homes may provide tax benefits. If you own a vacation home, you may be eligible for tax deductions based on where it is. However, before buying, you’ll want to consult with a tax professional to discuss first as taxes can vary by location.

It could potentially turn into a retirement location. If you love the location of your vacation home, you could potentially sell your primary residence and retire there in the future.

How a Pro Can Help You Find Your Perfect Match

As you’re preparing for summer vacation, remember, you could potentially visit your second home instead of another rental unit or hotel. If that sounds appealing to you, a

local real estate agent is your best resource. They have the knowledge and resources to help you understand the area and what vacation homes are available in your budget. Plus, these agents can explain the perks of how owning a second home can benefit you. 

Bottom Line

If any of these reasons for owning a vacation home resonate with you, reach out to a trusted real estate agent. You still have time to enjoy spending the summer in your vacation home.

The process of buying a home can feel a bit intimidating, even under normal circumstances. But today’s market is still anything but normal. There continues to be a very limited number of homes for sale, and that’s creating bidding wars and driving home prices back up as buyers compete over the available homes.

Navigating all of this can be daunting if you’re trying to do it alone. That’s why having a skilled expert to guide you through the homebuying process is essential, especially today. Bankrate shares this perspective: 

“Advice and guidance from a professional real estate agent can be invaluable, particularly amid a hot or unpredictable housing market.”

Here are just a few of the ways a real estate expert makes a big difference: 

Experience – Real estate professionals know the ins and outs of what’s happening today, how it impacts buyers, and how to navigate any hurdles that may pop up.Education – Knowledge is power when it comes to buying a home. Your advisor will simply and effectively explain market conditions and translate what they mean for you so you can feel confident in your decision. Negotiations – Your real estate advisor advocates for your best interests. Having an expert on your side provides assistance with the purchase agreement. An agent can also help you negotiate potential seller concessions if the inspection reveals issues with the home.  Contracts – Real estate advisors guide you through the disclosures and contracts necessary in today’s heavily regulated environment. PricingMaking an offer and negotiating with a seller can be one of the most difficult and stressful parts of the homebuying process. A skilled agent will help you understand what similar homes are selling for so you have the full picture of what you may want to offer.

All of these reasons combined may be why 86% of recent buyers used an agent according to the latest Home Buyers and Sellers Generational Trends Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR). NAR also has this to say about why an agent is so essential today: 

“A great real estate agent will guide you through the home search with an unbiased eye, helping you meet your buying objectives while staying within your budget. Agents are also a great source when you have questions about local amenities, utilities, zoning rules, contractors, and more.” 

What’s the Key To Choosing the Right Expert?

It starts with trust. You’ll want to know you can trust the advice they’re giving you, so you need to make sure you’re connected with a true professional. No one can provide perfect advice because it’s impossible to know exactly what’s going to happen at every turn – especially in today’s market. But a true professional can give you the best possible advice based on the information and situation at hand. 

They’ll help advocate for you throughout the process and coach you on the essential knowledge you need to make confident decisions. That’s exactly what you want and deserve. 

Bottom Line

It’s critical to have an expert on your side who is skilled in navigating today’s housing market. If you’re planning to buy a home this year, connect with a real estate advisor who will give you the best advice and guide you along the way.

The spring housing market has been surprisingly active this year. Even with affordability challenges and a limited number of homes for sale, buyer demand is strong, and getting stronger.

One way we know there are interested buyers right now is because showing traffic is up. Data from the latest ShowingTime Showing Index, which is a measure of buyers actively touring homes, makes it clear more people are out looking at homes than there were prior to the pandemic (see graph below):

And though there’s less traffic than the buyer frenzy of the past couple of years, we’re not far off that pace. There are a lot of interested buyers checking out available homes right now.

But why are buyers so active at a time when mortgage rates are higher than they were just last year?

The Job Market Is Growing at a Stronger-Than-Expected Pace

With inflation still high, the Federal Reserve (the Fed) repeatedly hiking the Federal Funds Rate, and a lot of chatter in the media about a recession, it might surprise you just how strong today’s job market is. What might be even more surprising is the fact that it appears to be getting stronger (see graph below):

Each month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports how many new jobs were added to the U.S. job market. The graph above shows 88,000 more jobs were created in April than in March. In fact, the April numbers beat expert projections. That’s a solid indicator the job market is growing.

Unemployment Is at a Near All-Time Low

Ever since the Fed began fighting inflation, many people expected the low unemployment rate we’ve seen over the past couple of years to rise – but that hasn’t happened.

In fact, what has happened is the unemployment rate has dropped to 3.4% – a 50-year low (see graph below):

With so many people steadily employed and financially stable right now, they’re still able to seriously consider buying a home.

What This Means for You

If you’re thinking about selling your house this year, a market with active buyers is music to your ears. That’s because there’ll be increased interest in your home when you put it on the market, especially at a time when the number of homes for sale is so low.

To get started, your best resource is an experienced real estate agent. They can help you price your house appropriately, navigate the offers you’ll receive, negotiate effectively, and minimize your stress and hassle.

SBottom Line

There are plenty of buyers out there right now trying to find a home that fits their needs. That’s because the job market is strong, and many people have the stable income needed to seriously consider homeownership. To put your house on the market and get in on the action, reach out to a trusted real estate agent.