Tampa Bay Real Estate and Community News

Nov. 20, 2018

6 Tips When Buying a Newly Constructed Home

5 Tips When Buying a Newly Constructed Home

The lack of existing inventory for sale has forced many homebuyers to begin looking at new construction. When you buy a newly constructed home instead of an existing home, there are many extra steps that must take place.

To ensure a hassle-free process, here are 5 tips to keep in mind if you are considering new construction:

1. Hire a Realtor. Its Free!

You need your own Realtor from the get-go. The builder will compensate your Realtor with a commissions so their expertise costs you nothing. Your Realtor, who understands the ins and outs of purchasing new construction, works on your behalf to negotiate a better deal, free upgrades, or simply whatever is in your best interest. Your Realtor knows the local market and will help you find the best home in the right neighborhood. 

2. Hire an Inspector

Despite the fact that builders must comply with town and city regulations, a home inspector will have your best interests in mind! When buying new construction, you will have between 1-3 inspections, depending on your preference (the foundation inspection, the pre-drywall inspection, and a final inspection).

These inspections are important because the inspector will often notice something that the builder missed. If possible, attend the inspection so that you can ask questions about your new home and make sure the builder fixes any problems found by the inspector.

3. Maintain good communication with your builder

Starting with the pre-construction meeting (where you will go over all the details of your home with your project manager), establish a line of communication. For example, will the builder email you every Friday with progress updates? If you are an out-of-state buyer, will you receive weekly pictures of the progress via email? Can you call the builder and if so, how often? How often can you visit the site?

4. Look for builder’s incentives

The good thing about buying a new home is that you can add the countertop you need, the flooring you want, or an extra porch off the back of your home! However, there is always a price for such additions, and they add up quickly!

Some builders offer incentives that can help reduce the amount you spend on your home. Do your homework and see what sort of incentives the builders in your area are offering.

5. Schedule extra time into the process

There are many things that can impact the progress on your home. One of these things is the weather, especially if you are building in the summer. Rain can delay the pouring of a foundation as well as other necessary steps at the beginning of construction.

Most builders already have a one-to-two-week buffer added into their timelines, but if you are also in the process of selling your current home, you must keep that in mind! Nobody wants to be between homes for a couple of weeks.

6. Visit the site often

As we mentioned earlier, be sure to schedule time with your project manager at least once a week to see the progress on your home. It’s easy for someone who is not there all the time to notice little details that the builder may have forgotten or overlooked. Additionally, don’t forget to take pictures! You might need them later to see exactly where that pipe is or where those electrical connections are once they’re covered up with drywall!

Bottom Line

Watching your home come to life is a wonderful experience that can sometimes come with hassles. To avoid some of these headaches, keep these tips in mind!

If you are ready to put your current home on the market and find out what new construction is available in your area, let’s get together to discuss your options!

Posted in For Buyers
Sept. 26, 2018

The Cost of NOT Paying PMI

Saving for a down payment is often the biggest hurdle for a first-time homebuyer as median incomes, rents, and home prices all vary depending on where you live.

There is a common misconception among homebuyers that a 20% down payment is required, and it is this limiting belief that often adds months, and sometimes even years, to the home-buying process.

So, if you can purchase a home with less than a 20% down payment… why aren’t more people doing just that?

One Possible Answer: Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI)

Freddie Mac defines PMI as:

“An insurance policy that protects the lender if you are unable to pay your mortgage. It’s a monthly fee, rolled into your mortgage payment, that is required for all conforming, conventional loans that have down payments less than 20%.

Once you’ve built equity of 20% in your home, you can cancel your PMI and remove that expense from your mortgage payment.”

As the borrower, you pay the monthly premiums for the insurance policy, and the lender is the beneficiary. The monthly cost of your PMI depends on the home’s value, the amount of your down payment, and your credit score.

Below is a table showing the difference in monthly mortgage payment for a $250,000 home with a 3% down payment and PMI vs. a 20% down payment without PMI:

The first thing you see when looking at the table above is no doubt the added $320 a month that you would be spending on your monthly mortgage cost. The second thing that should stand out is that a 20% down payment is $50,000!

If you are buying your first home, $50,000 is a large sum of money that takes discipline and sacrifice to save. Many first-time buyers save for 5-10 years before buying their homes.

To save $50,000 in 10 years, you would need to save about $420 a month. On the other hand, if you save that same $420 a month, you could afford a 3% down payment in less than a year and a half.

In a recent article by My Mortgage Insider, they explain what could happen in the market while you are waiting to save for a higher down payment:

“The time it takes to save a (larger) down payment could mean higher home prices and tougher qualifying down the road. For many buyers, it could prove much cheaper and quicker to opt for the 3% down mortgage immediately.”

The article went on to say,

“Since renters typically devote a higher percentage of their income to housing than homeowners, providing flexible down payment options can help renters with solid earnings purchase a home – and gain a fixed-rate mortgage with principal and interest payments that will not increase over the life of the loan.”

If the prospect of having to pay PMI is holding you back from buying a home today, Freddie Mac has this advice,

“It’s no doubt an added cost, but it’s enabling you to buy now and begin building equity versus waiting 5 to 10 years to build enough savings for a 20% down payment.”

Based on results of the most recent Home Price Expectation Survey, a homeowner who purchased a $250,000 home in January would gain $50,000 in equity over the next five years based on home price appreciation alone (shown below).

Bottom Line

If you have questions about whether you should buy now or wait until you’ve saved a larger down payment, let’s get together to discuss our market’s conditions and help you make the best decision for you and your family.

May 31, 2018

Will Home Prices Fall as Mortgage Rates Rise?

Will Home Prices Fall as Mortgage Rates Rise?

Mortgage interest rates have increased by more than half of a point since the beginning of the year. They are projected to increase by an additional half of a point by year’s end. Because of this increase in rates, some are guessing that home prices will depreciate.

However, some prominent experts in the housing industry doubt that home values will be negatively impacted by the rise in rates.

Mark Fleming, First American’s Chief Economist: 

“Understanding the resiliency of the housing market in a rising mortgage rate environment puts the likely rise in mortgage rates into perspective – they are unlikely to materially impact the housing market… 

The driving force behind the increase are healthy economic conditions…The healthy economy encourages more homeownership demand and spurs household income growth, which increases consumer house-buying power. Mortgage rates are on the rise because of a stronger economy and our housing market is well positioned to adapt.”

Terry Loebs, Founder of Pulsenomics:

“Constrained home supply, persistent demand, very low unemployment, and steady economic growth have given a jolt to the near-term outlook for U.S. home prices. These conditions are overshadowing concerns that mortgage rate increases expected this year might quash the appetite of prospective home buyers.”

Laurie Goodman, Codirector of the Housing Finance Policy Center at the Urban Institute:

“Higher interest rates are generally positive for home prices, despite decreasing affordability…There were only three periods of prolonged higher rates in 1994, 2000, and the ‘taper tantrum’ in 2013. In each period, home price appreciation was robust.”

Industry reports are also calling for substantial home price appreciation this year. Here are three examples:

Bottom Line

As Freddie Mac reported earlier this year in their Insights Report, “Nowhere to go but up? How increasing mortgage rates could affect housing,”

“As mortgage rates increase, the demand for home purchases will likely remain strong relative to the constrained supply and continue to put upward pressure on home prices.”

Posted in BLOG, Market Updates
May 25, 2018

Selling Your House on Your Own Could Cost You

In this extremely hot real estate market, some homeowners might consider selling their homes on their own which is known as a For Sale by Owner (FSBO). They rationalize that they don’t need a real estate agent and believe that they can save the fee for the services a real estate agent offers.

However, a study by Collateral Analytics reveals that FSBOs don’t actually save anything, and in some cases may be costing themselves more, by not listing with an agent.

In the study, they analyzed home sales in a variety of markets. The data showed that:

“FSBOs tend to sell for lower prices than comparable home sales, and in many cases below the average differential represented by the prevailing commission rate.” (emphasis added)

Why would FSBOs net less money than if they had used an agent?

The study makes several suggestions:

  • “There could be systematic bias on the buyer side as well. FSBO sales might attract more strategic buyers than MLS sales, particularly buyers who rationalize lower-priced bids with the logic that the seller is “saving” a traditional commission. Such buyers might specifically search for and target sellers who are not getting representational assistance from agents.” In other words, ‘bargain lookers’ might shop FSBOs more often.
  • “Experienced agents are experts at ‘staging’ homes for sale” which could bring more money for the home.
  • “Properties listed with a broker that is a member of the local MLS will be listed online with all other participating broker websites, marketing the home to a much larger buyer population. And those MLS properties generally offer compensation to agents who represent buyers, incentivizing them to show and sell the property and again potentially enlarging the buyer pool.” If more buyers see a home, the greater the chances are that there could be a bidding war for the property.

Conclusions from the study:

1. FSBOs achieve prices significantly lower than those from similar properties sold by Realtors using the MLS.

2. The data suggests the average price was near 6% lower for FSBO sales of similar properties.

Bottom Line

As Dave Ramsey, America’s trusted voice on money, explains:

“Research has shown that, between mistakes, lack of negotiating skills, pricing errors and general exposure on the market, you’ll cost yourself more than the real estate commission…You’ll come out slightly better and with a lot less hassle if you use a top-shelf agent.”

Posted in For Sellers
Jan. 19, 2018

Thinking of Selling Your Tampa Bay Home? Now is the Perfect Time

 

In Tampa Bay, it is common knowledge that a great number of homes sell during the spring-buying season. For that reason, many homeowners hold off on putting their homes on the market until then. The question is whether or not that will be a good strategy in 2018.

The other listings that do come out in the spring will represent increased competition to any seller. Do a greater number of homes actually come to the market in the spring as compared to the rest of the year? The National Association of Realtors (NAR) recently revealed the months in which most people listed their homes for sale in 2017. Here is a graphic showing the results:

The three months in the second quarter of the year (represented in red) are consistently the most popular months for sellers to list their homes on the market. Last year, the number of homes available for sale in January was 1,680,000.

That number spiked to 1,970,000 by May!

What does this mean to you?

With the national job situation improving, and mortgage interest rates projected to rise later in the year, buyers are not waiting until the spring; they are out looking for homes right now. If you are looking to sell this year, waiting until the spring to list your home means you will have the greatest competition amongst buyers.

Bottom Line

It may make sense to beat the rush of housing inventory that will enter the market in the spring and list your home today.

Posted in For Sellers
Dec. 12, 2017

Before You Make an Offer, Here Are 4 Tips for Success!

So, you’ve been searching for that perfect house to call a ‘home,’ and you finally found it! The price is right, and in such a competitive market, you want to make sure that you make a good offer so that you can guarantee that your dream of making this house yours comes true!

Freddie Mac covered “4 Tips for Making an Offer” in their Executive Perspective. Here are the 4 tips they covered along with some additional information for your consideration:

1. Understand How Much You Can Afford

“While it’s not nearly as fun as house hunting, fully understanding your finances is critical in making an offer.”

This ‘tip’ or ‘step’ should really take place before you start your home search process.

Getting pre-approved is one of many steps that will show home sellers that you are serious about buying, and will allow you to make your offer with the confidence of knowing that you have already been approved for a mortgage for that amount. You will also need to know if you are prepared to make any repairs that may need to be made to the house (ex: new roof, new furnace).

2. Act Fast

“Even though there are fewer investors, the inventory of homes for sale is also low and competition for housing continues to heat up in many parts of the country.” 

The inventory of homes listed for sale has remained well below the 6-month supply that is needed for a ‘normal’ market. Buyer demand has continued to outpace the supply of homes for sale, causing buyers to compete with each other for their dream homes.

Make sure that as soon as you decide that you want to make an offer, you work with your agent to present it as soon as possible.

3. Make a Solid Offer

Freddie Mac offers this advice to help make your offer the strongest it can be:

“Your strongest offer will be comparable with other sales and listings in the neighborhood. A licensed real estate agent active in the neighborhoods you are considering will be instrumental in helping you put in a solid offer based on their experience and other key considerations such as recent sales of similar homes, the condition of the house and what you can afford.”

Talk with your agent to find out if there are any ways that you can make your offer stand out in this competitive market!

4. Be Prepared to Negotiate

“It’s likely that you’ll get at least one counteroffer from the sellers so be prepared. The two things most likely to be negotiated are the selling price and closing date. Given that, you’ll be glad you did your homework first to understand how much you can afford.

Your agent will also be key in the negotiation process, giving you guidance on the counteroffer and making sure that the agreed-to contract terms are met.”

If your offer is approved, Freddie Mac urges you to “always get an independent home inspection, so you know the true condition of the home.” If the inspector uncovers undisclosed problems or issues, you can discuss any repairs that may need to be made with the seller, or cancel the contract.

Bottom Line 

Whether buying your first home or your fifth, having a local real estate professional who is an expert in their market on your side is your best bet to make sure the process goes smoothly. Let’s talk about how we can make your dreams of homeownership a reality!

Posted in Buying a Home
Dec. 4, 2017

5 Reasons to Sell This Winter!

5 Reasons to Sell This Winter! | Simplifying The Market

Here are five reasons listing your home for sale this winter makes sense.

1. Demand Is Strong

The latest Buyer Traffic Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows that buyer demand remains very strong throughout the vast majority of the country. These buyers are ready, willing and able to purchase… and are in the market right now! More often than not, multiple buyers are competing with each other to buy a home.

Take advantage of the buyer activity currently in the market.

2. There Is Less Competition Now

Housing inventory is still under the 6-month supply that is needed for a normal housing market. This means that, in the majority of the country, there are not enough homes for sale to satisfy the number of buyers in the market. This is good news for homeowners who have gained equity as their home values have increased. However, additional inventory could be coming to the market soon.

Historically, the average number of years a homeowner stayed in their home was six, but has hovered between nine and ten years since 2011. There is a pent-up desire for many homeowners to move, as they were unable to sell over the last few years because of a negative equity situation. As home values continue to appreciate, more and more homeowners will be given the freedom to move.

The choices buyers have will continue to increase. Don’t wait until this other inventory comes to market before you decide to sell.

3. The Process Will Be Quicker

Today’s competitive environment has forced buyers to do all they can to stand out from the crowd, including getting pre-approved for their mortgage financing. This makes the entire selling process much faster and much simpler as buyers know exactly what they can afford before home shopping. According to Ellie Mae’s latest Origination Insights Report, the time to close a loan has dropped to 44 days, after seeing a 12-month high of 48 days in January.

4. There Will Never Be a Better Time to Move Up

If your next move will be into a premium or luxury home, now is the time to move up! The inventory of homes for sale at these higher price ranges has forced these markets into a buyer’s market. This means that if you are planning on selling a starter or trade-up home, your home will sell quickly, AND you’ll be able to find a premium home to call your own!

Prices are projected to appreciate by 4.7% over the next year according to CoreLogic. If you are moving to a higher-priced home, it will wind up costing you more in raw dollars (both in down payment and mortgage payment) if you wait.

5. It’s Time to Move on With Your Life

Look at the reason you decided to sell in the first place and determine whether it is worth waiting. Is money more important than being with family? Is money more important than your health? Is money more important than having the freedom to go on with your life the way you think you should?

Only you know the answers to the questions above. You have the power to take control of the situation by putting your home on the market. Perhaps the time has come for you and your family to move on and start living the life you desire.

That is what is truly important.

Posted in Real Estate Blog
Dec. 1, 2017

Median Days on the Market Drops to 34! [INFOGRAPHIC]

Median Days on the Market Drops to 34! [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Median Days on the Market Drops to 34! [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Some Highlights:

  • The National Association of REALTORS® surveyed their members for their Confidence Index.
  • The REALTORS® Confidence Index is a key indicator of housing market strength based on a monthly survey sent to over 50,000 real estate practitioners. Practitioners are asked about their expectations for home sales, prices and market conditions.
  • Homes sold in less than 60 days in 44 out of 50 states, and Washington D.C.
  • Homes typically went under contract in 34 days in October!
Posted in Real Estate Blog
Nov. 30, 2017

The Real Reason Home Prices are Increasing

The Real Reason Home Prices are Increasing | Simplifying The Market

There are many unsubstantiated theories as to why home values are continuing to increase. From those who are worried that lending standards are again becoming too lenient (data shows this is untrue), to those who are concerned that prices are again approaching boom peaks because of “irrational exuberance” (this is also untrue as prices are not at peak levels when they are adjusted for inflation), there seems to be no shortage of opinion.

However, the increase in prices is easily explained by the theory of supply & demand. Whenever there is a limited supply of an item that is in high demand, prices increase.

It is that simple. In real estate, it takes a six-month supply of existing salable inventory to maintain pricing stability. In most housing markets, anything less than six months will cause home values to appreciate and anything more than seven months will cause prices to depreciate (see chart 1).

The Real Reason Home Prices are Increasing | Simplifying The Market

According to the Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the monthly inventory of homes has been below six months for the last four years (see chart 2).

The Real Reason Home Prices are Increasing | Simplifying The Market

Bottom Line

If buyer demand outpaces the current supply of existing homes for sale, prices will continue to appreciate. Nothing nefarious is taking place. It is simply the theory of supply & demand working as it should.

Posted in Real Estate Blog
Nov. 29, 2017

2 Charts That Show the Truth about Home Affordability

2 Charts That Show the Truth about Home Affordability | Simplifying The Market

There is a lot of discussion about the current state of housing affordability for both first-time and move-up buyers, and much of the narrative is tarnished with a negative slant. However, the truth is that housing affordability is better today than at almost any time in our history.

The naysayers are correct in the fact that affordability today is not as good as it has been over the last several years. But, we must remember that home prices collapsed during the housing crash, and distressed properties (foreclosures and short sales) kept home values depressed for years. When we compare affordability to the decades that proceeded the crash, a different story is revealed.

Here is a graph of the National Association of Realtors’ Housing Affordability Index. The higher the graph, the more affordable homes are.

2 Charts That Show the Truth about Home Affordability | Simplifying The Market

We can see that affordability is better today than in the fifteen years prior to the boom and bust.

CoreLogic just published a report showing the National Homebuyers’ “Typical Mortgage Payment.” Here is a graph of their findings:

2 Charts That Show the Truth about Home Affordability | Simplifying The Market

It reveals that, though a ‘typical’ housing payment was less expensive in 2012 (remember distressed properties), it is currently less expensive than it was in 2000 and is still projected to be lower next year than it was in 2000.

Bottom Line

Mark Fleming, Chief Economist at First American, explained it best:

“While borrowing power for the potential home buyer has fallen relative to the low point of 2012, it remains high today and will remain high next year, relative to the long run average. If you don’t want to rent anymore and are considering becoming a homeowner, even if mortgage rates rise next year, your borrowing power will remain strong by historic standards.”

Posted in Real Estate Blog