Why Did My Credit Score Drop?

Credit report with scoreDATE:JANUARY 15, 2014 | CATEGORY:TIPS & ADVICE | AUTHOR:

Last month your credit score was 735. You checked it again this morning, and it’s 20 points lower. What’s up?

It could be any combination of factors. There aredifferent credit scoring models used, and they can weigh factors differently to determine your score. But these are five of the most common reasons you could experience a dip in your score:

Late credit card or loan payment

Your payment history has a significant impact on your credit score, accounting for about 31 percent of your total rating. If your make a credit card or loan payment more than 30 past its due date, this information will likely show up on your credit report, which could cause your credit score to drop. Anything 30 days or more late matters, and 60 or 90 days late matters even more.

Larger than normal credit purchases

Another key factor in calculating your credit score is your credit utilization ratio. In simpler terms: How much of your credit are you using in relation to your total available credit? In general, the lower this ratio, the better your credit score will be. If you’ve been using more of your available credit lately, you may see a drop in your credit score. If a creditor lowers your credit limit, it may also change your credit utilization ratio and impact your score.

An unpaid account goes to collection

In order to maintain a good credit score, you need to pay all your accounts — not just credit cards and loans — in a timely manner. Late payments to medical facilities, student loans and utilities can be sent to a collection agency, which could in turn show up in your credit report.

You applied for a credit card

When you apply for credit, you give lenders the OK to ask, or “inquire,” for a copy of your credit report. This is known as a hard inquiry on your credit. When the information on your credit report indicates that you’ve applied for multiple new credit lines over a short period of time, your credit score may be lowered as a result.

You closed a credit card account

Canceling a credit card could be a good idea if it eliminates the temptation to charge more than you should. But by closing an old or unused account, you are wiping away some of your available credit, thus increasing your credit utilization ratio. As a result, your credit score may drop. Also, the length of time you’ve had accounts open shows that you have a solid payment history, so that could be another reason to keep that card you’ve had awhile open (as long as you’re paying it on time).

Written by Becky Frost, Senior Manager of Consumer Education for Experian Consumer Services. Experian Consumer Services offers credit monitoring products like freecreditscore.com™, which has resources and calculators that help you understand how credit can impact your life. Credit is an important component when buying, renting or refinancing your home

Posted on January 24, 2014 at 11:44 pm
Shelia Simmons | Category: Economic News, Home ownership, Real Estate News

Predictions for 2014: Sales Will Surge

1.6 Blog Visual  

 

Many housing pundits are calling for home sales to do slightly better in 2014 than they did in 2013. To the contrary, we strongly believe that home sales will skyrocket with increases of 10-15% in 2014. Here are the three categories of buyers we believe will create this strong demand.

The First Time Buyer

The Urban Land Institute recently released a report, Emerging Trends in Real Estate 2014, projecting that 4.48 million new households will be formed over the next three years. Millennials will make up a large portion of these new households. With the economy improving, we believe they will finally be moving out of their parents’ homes and, when they compare renting versus buying, many will choose homeownership.

The Move-Up Buyer

Over the last several years many homeowners were trapped in their home by negative equity. This prevented them from moving up to the home of their dreams. Zillow has justrevealed that home equity increased by $1.9 trillion dollars in 2013 an increase of 7.9% in the last twelve months. With home values rising, this pent-up demand will finally be released and move-up properties will be in high demand.

The Immigrant Buyer

No one knows what will happen with immigration reform. However, we do know what such reform would have on housing demand. A recent study released by the Immigration Task Force of the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) found that immigration reform, if passed, would dramatically increase demand for housing units; increasing residential construction spending by an average of $68 billion per year over the next 20 years.

We realize that our projections are based on three situations that are still uncertain. However, we believe that these issues will come to fruition and thereby dramatically increase demand for homeownership.

Posted on January 6, 2014 at 5:54 pm
Shelia Simmons | Category: Economic News, Real Estate News

NAR’s Existing Home Sales Report

For December 2013:

Posted on January 6, 2014 at 5:45 pm
Shelia Simmons | Category: Economic News, Real Estate News

Average US rate on 30-year loan rises to 4.47 pct.

Average U.S. rates for fixed mortgages rose slightly this week but remained near historically low levels.

SeattleTimes.com

WASHINGTON —

Average U.S. rates for fixed mortgages rose slightly this week but remained near historically low levels.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday the rate on the 30-year loan increased to 4.47 percent from 4.42 percent last week. The average on the 15-year fixed loan rose to 3.51 percent from 3.43 percent.

Mortgage rates peaked at 4.6 percent in August and have stabilized since September, when the Federal Reserve surprised markets by taking no action on starting to reduce its $85 billion-a month bond purchases. The Fed decided this week that the outlook for the economy appeared strong enough for it to reduce the monthly bond purchases starting in January by $10 billion.

The purchases are designed to keep long-term rates such as mortgage rates low.

A government report issued Wednesday showed that U.S. builders broke ground on homes in November at the fastest pace in more than five years, strong evidence that the housing recovery is accelerating despite higher mortgage rates.

Data from the National Association of Realtors released Thursday showed the number of people who bought existing homes last month declined for the third straight month as higher mortgage rates made home-buying more expensive. In addition, the lingering impact of the partial government shutdown in October may have deterred some sales. Still, the Realtors' association projects that total U.S. home sales this year will be 5.1 million. That would be the strongest since 2007, when the housing bubble burst.

To calculate average mortgage rates, Freddie Mac surveys lenders across the country on Monday through Wednesday each week. The average doesn't include extra fees, known as points, which most borrowers must pay to get the lowest rates. One point equals 1 percent of the loan amount.

The average fee for a 30-year mortgage was unchanged at 0.7 point. The fee for a 15-year loan declined to 0.6 point from 0.7 point.

The average rate on a one-year adjustable-rate mortgage rose to 2.57 percent from 2.51 percent last week. The fee increased to 0.5 point from 0.4 point.

The average rate on a five-year adjustable mortgage rose to 2.96 percent from 2.94 percent last week. The fee remained at 0.4 point.

Posted on December 24, 2013 at 5:19 pm
Shelia Simmons | Category: Economic News, Home improvement, Real Estate News

Harvard: 5 Financial Reasons to Buy a Home

  


Eric Belsky is Managing Director of the Joint Center of Housing Studies at Harvard University. He also currently serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Housing Research and Housing Policy Debate. This year he released a new paper on homeownership – The Dream Lives On: the Future of Homeownership in America. In his paper, Belsky reveals five financial reasons people should consider buying a home.

Here are the five reasons, each followed by an excerpt from the study:

1.) Housing is typically the one leveraged investment available. 

“Few households are interested in borrowing money to buy stocks and bonds and few lenders are willing to lend them the money. As a result, homeownership allows households to amplify any appreciation on the value of their homes by a leverage factor. Even a hefty 20 percent down payment results in a leverage factor of five so that every percentage point rise in the value of the home is a 5 percent return on their equity. With many buyers putting 10 percent or less down, their leverage factor is 10 or more.”

2.) You're paying for housing whether you own or rent. 

“Homeowners pay debt service to pay down their own principal while households that rent pay down the principal of a landlord.”

3.) Owning is usually a form of “forced savings”.

“Since many people have trouble saving and have to make a housing payment one way or the other, owning a home can overcome people’s tendency to defer savings to another day.”

4.) There are substantial tax benefits to owning. 

“Homeowners are able to deduct mortgage interest and property taxes from income…On top of all this, capital gains up to $250,000 are excluded from income for single filers and up to $500,000 for married couples if they sell their homes for a gain.”

5.) Owning is a hedge against inflation.

“Housing costs and rents have tended over most time periods to go up at or higher than the rate of inflation, making owning an attractive proposition.”

Bottom Line

We realize that homeownership makes sense for many Americans for many social and family reasons. It also makes sense financially.

 

Posted on December 13, 2013 at 6:50 pm
Shelia Simmons | Category: Economic News, Home improvement, Home ownership, Real Estate News

Mortgage Rates Inch Downward

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Mortgage RatesReal Estate News   |  Dec 12, 2013   |  By:   |   

Fixed-rate mortgages saw a slight decline this week. The downward move comes after rates saw a healthy increase over the past three weeks in response to positive economic reports, particularly in the growth of private-sector employment.

The drop in rates is seen as a response to a reduction in reports on economic indicators, as major markets brace for news from the Federal Open Market Committee meeting next week.

“Mortgage rates were little changed amid a light week of economic data releases,” Frank E. Nothaft, Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist, said in a statement.

“Of the few releases, total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 203,000 in November, and the unemployment rate declined to 7 percent. Also, single-family mortgage debt outstanding increased for the first time since 2008. This is a positive sign, as it reflects that the pick-up in new purchase-money originations has offset loan paydowns and led to a net increase in principal outstanding.”

The average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage dropped 0.04 percentage point, according to the latest mortgage survey by Freddie Mac. Previously at 4.46 percent, it is now at 4.42 percent. The 30-year fixed-rate average has increased by more than a full percentage point year-over-year; it was at 3.32 percent a year ago.

The average rate on a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage edged downward to 3.43 percent, a change of 0.04 percentage point week-over-week. A year ago, the 15-year fixed rate averaged a modest 2.66 percent.

Hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages also saw a decrease. After nearing the 3 percent mark, the average on a five-year ARM eased to 2.94 percent. The one-year ARM dropped 0.08 percentage point this past week and is now at 2.51 percent.

While news from the Federal Open Market Committee meeting is expected to bring an uptick in mortgage rates, it may have a trickle-down effect through December and into the beginning of January. In the latest Mortgage Rate Trend Index by Bankrate.com, the majority of loan experts polled believe that rates will hold steady in the short-term.

“Mortgage rates to hold steady until we hear from the Fed regarding whether the tapering starts this month or not,” opined Greg McBride, senior financial analyst at Bankrate.com.

Posted on December 13, 2013 at 6:43 pm
Shelia Simmons | Category: Economic News, Real Estate News

Planning to Buy a Home in 2014? Get Ready Now

By Christine DiGangi
By Credit.com   | Posted Dec 2nd 2013 9:07AM Updated Dec 3rd 2013 12:37PM



With big changes coming to the mortgage industry at the beginning of next year, many consumers will want to evaluate their homebuying plans. Regulations drafted by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will change the definition of a qualified mortgage for any loan applications received on and after Jan. 10, and many consumers may find themselves unable to meet the new requirements.



Qualified mortgages are loans that meet certain standards designed to ensure that borrowers are highly likely to be able to pay back the amount in question. Facing this challenge, it's up to the hopeful homeowner to improve their chances of mortgage approval by doing the necessary research, improving their credit profiles and meeting the qualified mortgage standards well in advance of filling out loan applications.



It's important to meet qualified mortgage standards because government-sponsored enterprises, known as GSEs, like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have said they won't buy non-qualified mortgages starting next year, said Joshua Weinberg, senior vice president of compliance with First Choice Lending/Bank. Fannie and Freddie don't lend to homeowners directly, rather they purchase mortgages from banks and then bundle them into securities and sell those securities to investors.



For lenders that originate mortgages with the intention of selling them to the GSEs, as many do, originating non-qualified mortgages won't be feasible. Other lenders own the mortgages they originate, meaning they don't have to worry about selling them to GSEs, and such larger portfolios could probably take on non-qualified mortgages.



What's Changing? Mortgages must pass tests of sorts to meet the standards of a qualified mortgage: The APR must be within 150 basis points (1.5 percentage points) of the annual prime offer rate, the loan term cannot exceed 30 years, points and fees cannot exceed 3 percent of the loan balance and there can be no negative amortization or interest-only payments. Under these conditions, the mortgage qualifies for safe harbor, meaning the lender is not at risk of being sued by a borrower who is unable to repay the loan.



There's a class of loans called higher-priced qualified mortgages, in which the APR exceeds the 150 basis-point limit, and in those cases, the loan falls under rebuttable presumption, meaning the lender is assumed to have complied with ability-to-pay requirements, unless a borrower or attorney argues otherwise. Loans with rebuttable presumption will likely come at an additional premium, said Cameron Findlay, chief economist at Discover Home Loans, though the price of that premium is unclear at this point.



The ability to repay comprises a series of requirements that must be met by the borrower and verified by the lender, including income and debt levels. All of these CFPB regulations are aimed at protecting consumers from mortgages they can't reasonably expect to repay, because such faulty loans triggered the recent financial crisis. Given these limitations, and some new restrictions on lenders that also go into effect in January, some have suggested that consumers may find themselves struggling to acquire a mortgage.



Weinberg described it this way: Originating a mortgage has been a process that blends science and art. The science includes the regulations that give clear guidelines for what does and does not meet qualified mortgage standards. The art comes in when an originator decides to approve or deny a mortgage application, even if a borrower doesn't meet every requirement in the book, because his or her experiences can give important context to a case that numbers and rules cannot.



"With this QM rule we're seeing an elimination of the art and a focus on the science," Weinberg said. "The way the points and fees will be calculated is now a pretty defined standard. My gut says because of the shrinking art component and the emphasis on the science, fewer people are going to qualify for loans."



While the new regulations are beyond consumer control, there are several things potential homeowners can do to prepare for buying residential property in 2014.



1. Ask Questions: If this all sounds a bit confusing, don't worry. You're not alone. Both Findlay and Weinberg acknowledged the complexity of the new rules and said there's confusion among lenders. For potential homeowners who don't understand what these changes mean for them, there's no shame in asking someone to explain them.



There are a lot of components to mortgages that first-time homebuyers may not be familiar with. Say a lender instructs you to reduce your debt-to-income ratio — that means how much of your income is tied up in student loan payments, collections accounts, judgments and other existing loan obligations. You've just learned that points and fees can't exceed 3 percent of the loan balance, but what's a point?



A point, for the record, is prepaid interest on the loan, with one point equal to 1 percent of the loan. If a borrower would rather have a lower interest rate than the one they're offered then they can pay points to lower that rate.



There's bound to be something that confuses the borrower, and no one should enter into such a large financial decision with uncertainty. Ask a lender to explain it to you, but understand that the lenders are nailing down the new processes, as well. "It doesn't bode well for the consumer when there's this confusion," Findlay said.



It's important to shop around for mortgages, and consumers should know that they can concentrate their mortgage search into a few weeks in order to minimize the impact on their credit scores. Inquiries are a major factor in your credit scores, and too many inquiries can hurt your credit. Mortgage inquiries made within that short period (which varies by credit scoring model) will count as a single inquiry on their credit reports, and because multiple inquiries would normally ding credit scores, this allows consumers to find the best offer without harming their credit profiles. If you want to see how inquiries are affecting your credit, you can look at your free Credit Report Card, which grades you on important credit score factors and gives you free credit scores.



2. Tackle Debt: If you have debt, you should try to reduce it, and this is true for all consumers, not just those looking to buy a house. Potential homeowners, however, should be extra motivated to conquer their debt: Under new ability-to-repay requirements necessary to attain a qualified mortgage, a borrower's debt-to-income ratio must be 43 percent or less, including the potential mortgage payment.



"Not only do we consider the debts that show up on your credit report, but we have to look at debts you may expect to pay in the future," Weinberg said, giving the examples of child support and student loans in deferment. "They are also going to need to be comfortable and aware of managing that debt. They are going to be asked questions about that."



Whether you're looking to buy a home next year or in two years, make a plan to manage debts now. It can only help.



3. Start the Paperwork: Though these new requirements impact consumers, they also affect lenders, and no one wants to be the first to screw up. The ability-to-repay measures require a lot of documentation, which will need to come from you, the applicant.



"We're really needing to get a very holistic perspective on the borrower in order to complete the analysis necessary to meet compliance," Weinberg said. Borrowers should ask a lender exactly what they'll need to provide, and in order to answer lenders' questions, they should also take stock of their credit profile.



Consumers are entitled to a free annual copy of their credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus — Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. That's three credit reports, so it's smart to review at least one before starting the homebuying process.



No one is sugar-coating these changes — they're a lot to handle. Changes are common in this post-crisis climate, so the best consumers can do is ask questions and do their part to prepare and educate themselves. "If we're making better loans, and the consumers are protected better, that's better at the end of the day," Weinberg said.

Posted on December 3, 2013 at 5:59 pm
Shelia Simmons | Category: Economic News, Home improvement, Real Estate News

5 Signs You’re Ready to Be a Homeowner

 

Credit.com

No one can tell you when you’re ready to become a homeowner. But it’s probably fair to say a lot of first-time buyers wish otherwise. Buying a home is often one of the biggest purchases you’ll ever make. It’s also among the most infrequent. 

Knowing you’re prepared to buy a couch or a car is one thing. The last lot in a cul-de-sac is something else entirely. The right time to pull the trigger is when you’re financially and emotionally prepared for the responsibility. But it’s not like the heavens part and a choir of closing agents signal the time has come. It’s ultimately up to you to determine you’re ready. But here are a few signs and stages that might signal you’ve got a handle on homebuying.

1. You Genuinely Want It This is an emotional component for sure. Renting is easier than owning a home in a lot of ways. Each exudes its own sense of freedom, and the flexibility of renting resonates with many people. Looking at homeownership as a lark or even an investment isn’t always the best approach. A quarter of Americans have moved from their city or geographic area in the past five years, according to a Gallup survey released earlier this year. The last few years have also made clear that equity isn’t a guarantee. Homeownership isn’t for everyone. Pursue a home purchase because you genuinely embrace the freedom, opportunities and potential challenges that come with it.

2. You Own Your Credit Your homebuying journey will be a brief one if you can’t meet a lender’s qualifying credit score. Credit benchmarks will vary based on the loan type and the lender, but for most loan programs you’re talking a minimum of 620 (but likely significantly higher for non-government-backed loans). 

Get free copies of your credit reports early from AnnualCreditReport.com. It's also important to monitor your credit scores for changes — which you can do either by using a paid monitoring service, or using a free credit score tool, such asCredit.com’s Credit Report Card. About one in five credit reports contain errors and inaccuracies serious enough to affect your credit scores (and therefore possibly making harder to get credit, like a home loan). Hunt down mistakes and dispute them. Work to lower balances, pay down high-interest debt and get your credit in fighting shape. Qualifying for a loan is the initial hurdle. But continuing to improve your score can also help you save money. Higher credit scores generally translate into better mortgage rates and terms.

3. You’ve Saved for It Even if you’re eligible for a zero-down mortgage backed by the VA or the USDA, there are always going to be upfront costs to consider, from appraisals and home inspections to closing costs and even good faith deposits

Assets are going to play an important role when you’re looking to land a loan. Most homebuyers will also have to contend with a down payment. FHA loans require a minimum 3.5% down, while it’s typically 5% for conventional loans. On a $150,000 mortgage, that’s $5,250 and $7,500, respectively, which you’re going to part with on closing day. Beyond that, lenders are always on the lookout for “payment shock,” which is essentially the impact of higher monthly housing costs on a borrower’s bottom line. If that down payment is all you’ve got to your name, you might be in trouble. 

4. You Understand Your Mortgage Options If you didn’t serve in the military or you don't have a family member who has served, you can pretty much skip VA loans. But you might be able to get a no-down payment loan using the USDA’s home loan program. Conventional financing will require a higher credit score and a bigger down payment, but you’ll likely get better rates and terms than you would with an FHA loan. Does your state offer a down payment assistance program? Are there first-time homebuyer grants or initiatives available? You don’t need to be a mortgage expert to buy a home. But it’s important to understand the basics regarding your options and the pros and cons of each. 

5. You’re Financially Prepared for What Lies Ahead Shopping for and buying the home is the fun part. What isn’t so enjoyable is having your washing machine give out three weeks after closing, or finding your fridge is on the fritz. The days of letting your landlord deal with repairs and maintenance are gone once you’re a homeowner. 

When the yard gets unruly, you’re either buying a lawnmower or paying a neighborhood kid. You’re rooting for hailstorms to skip over your street. In short, you’re paying for all sorts of things you didn’t have to before. They’re sporadic costs, and they’re not always so drastic. But they’re something to consider as part of your homebuying calculus.

Posted on December 3, 2013 at 5:55 pm
Shelia Simmons | Category: Economic News, Home ownership

2014 housing outlook: Home prices head higher

 

After a surge in home values in most cities in the past year, prices will increase more slowly in 2014.

By Pat Mertz Esswein of Kiplinger on msn.com

Home prices will rise in 2014 but at a slower, more steady pace compared with historical trends.

The housing recovery has pushed up home prices nearly everywhere. In the past year, home prices rose in 225 of the 276 cities tracked by Clear Capital, a provider of real estate data and analysis. Prices nationwide increased  by 10.9 percent, pushing the median price for existing homes up by $30,000, to $215,000. For people who have waited to sell their home or refinance their mortgage, that's good news. 

Rising home prices in Seattle enabled Mike and Kristin Litke to refinance their first mortgage last summer and pay off a second mortgage that had an 8.2 percent interest rate. The Litkes, who bought their three-bedroom, 1.5-bath home for $512,500 in 2007 at the peak of Seattle's housing market, had used the second mortgage to avoid paying private mortgage insurance. In 2010, just as home prices in the area hit a trough, they refinanced their first mortgage to a 30-year fixed rate of 4.375 percent but were stuck with the second mortgage because they didn't have enough equity to do a "cash-out" refi.

This time, however, their home appraised for $521,000, allowing them to refinance into one 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage of $416,800 at 4.25 percent. They have reduced their monthly payment by $360, giving them some wiggle room in their budget and providing an infusion of college-savings funds for their kids: Stephen, 3½, and Stella, 10 months.

What's ahead
In 2013, a sense of urgency drove traditional buyers hoping to take advantage of still-affordable home prices and historically low mortgage rates. Buyers found selection limited and were often forced into bidding wars with investors and other buyers who paid cash. Sellers reaped the rewards in terms of quick sales, often above the asking price.

Almost half of the cities tracked by Clear Capital experienced double-digit increases in home prices, led by Las Vegas, with a gain of 32 percent. Such spikes reflected a continuing "correction to the overcorrection," says Alex Villacorta, vice-president of research and analytics for Clear Capital. Buyers and investors rushed in to snap up homes with prices that had fallen too far. Homes continue to be affordable, despite recent run-ups — on average, prices are still 31.5 percent below their 2006 peak. The percentage of monthly family income consumed by a mortgage payment (assuming a mortgage rate of 4.1 percent) is just 15.6 percent, on average, compared with 23.5 percent in mid 2006.

"Houses are very cheap," says David Stiff, principal economist at CoreLogic, a property and mortgage-data analytics company.

Market observers agree that home prices will rise in 2014, but at a slower, more steady pace compared with historical trends. Clear Capital forecasts that home prices nationally will rise by 3 percent to 5 percent in 2014, about the historical average. Kiplinger expects an increase of 4 percent.

"The most notable thing about 2014 will be how un-notable 2014 is," Villacorta says.

Meanwhile, the Conference Board, a nonprofit association of businesses, found that the percentage of consumers who intend to buy a home in the next six months was the highest since 2000. Adding to the push: pent-up demand among young people who, hampered by lack of jobs or insufficient income, have been living in their parents' basements or sharing apartments with roommates. Celia Chen, a housing analyst with Moody's Analytics, says Moody's expects the economy to expand enough in the coming year to enable young people to begin moving out. They'll probably rent first, but low vacancy rates and higher rents will prompt some renters to move on to homeownership.

As home prices continue to rise, more owners who had been underwater — meaning that they owed more on their mortgage than their home was worth — will emerge from the sidelines and start selling and buying homes. CoreLogic reports that almost 3.5 million homeowners were lifted out of negative equity between the end of 2012 and mid 2013. Nevada, Florida, Arizona, Michigan and Georgia have the highest shares of underwater homeowners.

A sellers market
In the past year, sales of existing homes and condos rose by 11 percent, to 5.29 million — almost the highest level in four years. The National Association of Realtors expects sales to remain about the same in 2014. Sales nationally have increased across all regions and in all but one price category, signaling a broad-based recovery.

Although sales of entry-level homes (priced at $100,000 or less) have fallen by almost half in the past year in the West, they're still rising in the Northeast, where the job recovery has lagged behind other regions. Sales of homes priced between $750,000 and $1 million have risen the most.

"A consistent stock market recovery for a prolonged period has opened up the wallets of upper-income homeowners," says Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors.

Nationally, the supply of homes for sale stands at five months' worth. (Months' supply is a measurement of how long it would take to sell everything at the current pace of sales. A market balanced between buyers and sellers has about six months' supply of homes.) The current level slightly favors sellers, but in many cities inventory is much tighter. For example, the Washington, D.C., suburbs of Montgomery County, Md., and Northern Virginia had about two months' supply in September. Yun says the housing market has moved toward a shortage that will persist through 2014.

Why is inventory low?
In some cities, institutional investors have been scooping up properties to rent out. Plus, builders cut way back on new-home construction during the bust, and homeowners who bought at the top of the market are still reluctant to sell until they can recoup more of their investment. Some are still underwater, unable to pay off their mortgage with what they'd get for their home.

In Oakland County, Mich., in suburban Detroit, agent Melanie Bishop says home prices fell so far during the economic downturn that even longtime homeowners reaped little or no profit when they sold. But with the housing market's rebound, sellers' prospects have improved. She recently helped Corey and Suzy MacDonald sell the four-bedroom, 2.5-bath home in West Bloomfield that they bought in late 2006 for $272,000.

In the spring of 2012, Corey MacDonald became self-employed, and the couple decided to relocate to Florida. They listed their home for sale at $265,000, just enough to pay off their mortgage and expenses. The best offer they received was $245,000, so they decided to postpone their move and try again later. Last summer, they listed the home for sale at $289,900. On the first day, they received an offer of $310,000. "It was a perfect deal," MacDonald says. He ultimately took a job in Atlanta, and the couple used the proceeds from their Michigan sale to put down 20 percent on their next home.

The influence of investors will wane as the low-hanging fruit (including foreclosures) disappears in 2014. Once, whole cities were ripe for the picking — such as Cape Coral, Fla., and Phoenix in 2012, as well as Las Vegas and Atlanta in 2013 — but investors must now dig deeper at the neighborhood level, says Villacorta. That's a job probably best suited to smaller numbers of local investors who know their markets best.

Where will new supply come from?
Most people who list their homes for sale expect to buy another one, so it's a wash in terms of net inventory. According to the National Association of Home Builders, whose members retrenched during the bust, just less than half as many homes were started this year as in a normal market. NAHB forecasts that a normal pace of housing starts won't resume until late 2015. Tight credit, land and labor, as well as rising costs for materials, are constraining builders.

Distressed properties are still adding to the supply of homes nationally, but foreclosure filings are falling. Fewer homeowners are losing their homes as the economy improves, home prices (and home equity) rise, and lenders agree to more short sales (homes sold for less than their owners owe on their mortgages).

"We're in the home stretch of getting through the foreclosure crisis," says Daren Blomquist, vice-president at RealtyTrac, which monitors the foreclosure market. "But we won't cross the finish line, with filings back to pre-crisis level, until early 2015."

Posted on December 3, 2013 at 5:50 pm
Shelia Simmons | Category: Economic News, Home improvement, Home ownership

5 Reasons to Buy A Home Now Instead of Spring

  

 

Based on prices, mortgage rates and soaring rents, there may have never been a better time in real estate history to purchase a home than right now. Here are five major reasons purchasers should consider buying:

Supply Is Shrinking

With inventory declining in many regions, finding a home of your dreams may become more difficult going forward. There are buyers in more and more markets surprised that there is no longer a large assortment of houses to choose from. The best homes in the best locations sell first. Don’t miss the opportunity to get that ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ buy.

Price Increases Are on the Horizon

Prices are projected to appreciate by over 25% from now to 2018. First home buyers will probably pay more both in price and interest rate if they wait until the spring. Even if you are a move-up buyer, it will wind-up costing you more in net dollars as the home you will buy will appreciate at approximately the same rate as the house you are in now.

Owning a Home Helps Create Family Wealth

Whether you are rent or you own the home you are leaving in, you are paying a mortgage. Either you are paying your mortgage or your landlord’s. The Fed, in a recent study, revealed that the net worth of the average homeowner is 30 times greater than that of a renter.

Interest Rates Are Projected to Rise

The Mortgage Bankers Association, the National Association of RealtorsFreddie Macand Fannie Mae have all projected that the 30-year mortgage interest rate will be over 5% by the end of 2014. That is an increase of almost one full point over current rates.

Buy Low, Sell High

We would all agree that, when investing, we want to buy at the lowest price possible and hope to sell at the highest price. Housing can create family wealth as long as we follow this simple principle. Today, real estate is selling ‘low’ compared to where it will be next year. It’s time to buy.

Posted on November 25, 2013 at 9:24 pm
Shelia Simmons | Category: Economic News, Home improvement, Home ownership, Real Estate News