A worldwide pandemic and an economic recession have had a tremendous effect on the nation. The uncertainty brought about by both has made predicting consumer behavior nearly impossible. For that reason, forecasting home prices has become extremely difficult.
Normally, there’s a simple formula to determine the future price of any item: calculate the supply of that item in ratio to the demand for that item. In housing right now, demand far exceeds supply. Mortgage applications to buy a home just rose to the highest level in 11 years while the inventory of homes for sale is at (or near) an all-time low. That would usually indicate a strong appreciation for home values as we move throughout the year.
Some experts, however, are not convinced the current rush of purchasers is sustainable. Ralph McLaughlin, Chief Economist at Haus, explained in their June 2020 Hausing Market Forecast why there is a concern:
“The upswing that we’ll see this summer is a result of pent-up demand from homebuyers and supply-in-progress from homebuilders that has simply been pushed off a few months. However, after this pent-up demand goes away, the true economic scarring due to the pandemic will begin to affect the housing market as the tide of pent-up demand goes out.”
The virus and other challenges currently impacting the industry have created a wide range of thoughts regarding the future of home prices. Here’s a list of analysts and their projections, from the lowest depreciation to the highest appreciation:
- CoreLogic: Year-Over-Year decline of -1.5%
- Haus: Year-Over-Year decline of -1%
- Zillow: Year-Over-Year change is forecasted to bottom out at -0.7%.
- Home Price Expectation Survey: Decline of -0.3% in 2020
- Fannie Mae: Increase of 0.4% in 2020
- Freddie Mac: Increase of 2.3% in 2020
- Zelman & Associates: Increase of 3.0% in 2020
- National Association of Realtors: Increase of 3.8% in 2020
- Mortgage Bankers Association: Increase of 4.0% in 2020
We can garner two important points from this list:
- There is no real consensus among the experts.
- No one projects prices to crash like they did in 2008.
Whether you’re thinking of buying a home or selling your house, know that home prices will not change dramatically this year, even with all of the uncertainty we’ve faced in 2020.
With interest rates hitting all-time lows over the past few weeks, many homeowners are opting to refinance. To decide if refinancing your home is the best option for you and your family, start by asking yourself these questions:
Why do you want to refinance?
There are many reasons to refinance, but here are three of the most common ones:
1. Lower Your Interest Rate and Payment: This is the most popular reason. Is your current interest rate higher than what’s available today? If so, it might be worth seeing if you can take advantage of the current lower rates.
2. Shorten the Term of Your Loan: If you have a 30-year loan, it may be advantageous to change it to a 15 or 20-year loan to pay off your mortgage sooner rather than later.
3. Cash-Out Refinance: You might have enough equity to cash out and invest in something else, like your children’s education, a business venture, an investment property, or simply to increase your cash reserve.
Once you know why you might want to refinance, ask yourself the next question:
How much is it going to cost?
There are fees and closing costs involved in refinancing, and The Lenders Network explains:
“As an example, let’s say your mortgage has a balance of $200,000. If you were to refinance that loan into a new loan, total closing costs would run between 2%-4% of the loan amount. You can expect to pay between $4,000 to $8,000 to refinance this loan.”
They also explain that there are options for no-cost refinance loans, but be on the lookout:
“A no-cost refinance loan is when the lender pays the closing costs for the borrower. However, you should be aware that the lender makes up this money from other aspects of the mortgage. Usually charging a slightly higher interest rate so they can make the money back.”
Keep in mind that, given the current market conditions and how favorable they are for refinancing, it can take a little longer to execute the process today. This is because many other homeowners are going this route as well. As Todd Teta, Chief Officer at ATTOM Data Solutions notes about recent mortgage activity:
“Refinancing largely drove the trend, with more than twice as many homeowners trading in higher-interest mortgages for cheaper ones than in the same period of 2018.”
Clearly, refinancing has been on the rise lately. If you’re comfortable with the up-front cost and a potential waiting period due to the high volume of requests, then ask yourself one more question:
Is it worth it?
To answer this one, do the math. Will it help you save money? How much longer do you need to own your home to break even? Will your current home meet your needs down the road? If you plan to stay for a few years, then maybe refinancing is your best move.
If, however, your current home doesn’t fulfill your needs for the next few years, you might want to consider using your equity for a down payment on a new home instead. You’ll still get a lower interest rate than the one you have on your current house, and with the equity you’ve already built, you can finally purchase the home you’ve been waiting for.
Today, more than ever, it’s important to start working with a trusted real estate advisor. Whether you connect by phone or video chat, a real estate professional can help you understand how to safely navigate the housing market so that you can prioritize the health of your family without having to bring your plans to a standstill. Whether you’re looking to refinance, buy, or sell, a trusted advisor knows the best protocol as well as the optimal resources and lenders to help you through the process in this fast-paced world that’s changing every day.
Rising home prices have been in the news a lot lately, and much of the focus is on whether they’re accelerating too quickly and how sustainable the growth in prices really is. One of the often-overlooked benefits of rising prices, however, is the impact they have on a homeowner’s equity position.
Home equity is defined as the difference between a home’s fair market value and the outstanding balance of all liens on the property. While homeowners pay down their mortgages, the amount of equity they have in their homes climbs each time the value increases.
Today, the number of homeowners that currently have significant equity in their homes is growing. According to the Census Bureau, 38% of all homes in the country are mortgage-free. In a home equity study, ATTOM Data Solutions revealed that of the 54.5 million homes with a mortgage, 26.7% of them have at least 50% equity. That number has been increasing over the last eight years.
CoreLogic also notes:
“…the average homeowner gained approximately $5,300 in equity during the past year.”
This may be the year to take advantage of your home equity by applying it forward, either as you downsize or as you move up to a new home.
The real estate market is expected to do very well this year as mortgage rates remain at historic lows. One challenge to the housing industry is the lack of homes available for sale. Last week, move.com released a report showing that 2020 is beginning with the lowest available housing inventory in two years. The report explains:
“Last month saw the largest year-over-year decline of housing inventory in almost three years with a dramatic 12 percent decline, pushing the number of homes for sale in the U.S. to the lowest level since January 2018.”
The report also revealed that the decline in inventory stretches across all price points, as shown in the following graph: George Ratiu, Senior Economist at realtor.com, explains how this drop in available homes for sale comes at a time when more buyers are expected to enter the market:
“The market is struggling with a large housing undersupply just as 4.8 million millennials are reaching 30-years of age in 2020, a prime age for many to purchase their first home. The significant inventory drop…is a harbinger of the continuing imbalance expected to plague this year’s markets, as the number of homes for sale are poised to reach historically low levels.”
The question is: What does this mean to you?
If You’re a Buyer…
Be patient during your home search. It may take time to find a home you love. Once you do, however, be ready to move forward quickly. Get pre-approved for a mortgage, be ready to make a competitive offer from the start, and understand that a shortage in inventory could lead to the resurgence of bidding wars. Calculate just how far you’re willing to go to secure a home if you truly love it.
If You’re a Seller…
Realize that, in some ways, you’re in the driver’s seat. When there is a shortage of an item at the same time there is a strong demand for that item, the seller of that item is in a good position to negotiate. Whether it is the price, moving date, possible repairs, or anything else, you’ll be able to demand more from a potential purchaser at a time like this – especially if you have multiple interested buyers. Don’t be unreasonable, but understand you probably have the upper hand.
The housing market will remain strong throughout 2020. Understand what that means to you, whether you’re buying, selling, or doing both.