Author Archives: Mike Domines

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How Mortgage Rate Increases Affect Home Buyers

Mortgage rates have been increasing lately and there is an expectation that they will move higher this year. But while home prices get a lot of attention, rising mortgage rates are a little more difficult for buyers to calculate in terms of what it will cost them. Here’s some help. According to one recent model, a less than one percent increase in mortgage rates over the next year would result in a $100 increase to the typical monthly mortgage payment. But since the costs of homeownership are influenced by many different factors, this projection has to make certain assumptions about things like the rate at which home prices will increase, for example. In other words, any increase to mortgage rates will cost home buyers but just how much is difficult to calculate precisely. So what should home buyers expect? Well, since a stronger economy and improved job market make it more likely that the Fed will raise interest rates further this year, buyers should expect that mortgage rates will remain low by historical standards but continue to edge higher, taking monthly mortgage payments higher along with them.


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Analysis Finds Property Tax On The Rise

When considering the costs of homeownership, it’s sometimes easy to forget about property tax. Home buyers focus a lot of attention on their prospective mortgage payment and the potential cost of any remodels and renovations but often forget to think about how much taxes will run them each year. This is a mistake. Take, for example, new research from ATTOM Data Solutions. Their recent tax analysis found that the average property tax on a single family home last year was $3,399, a 3 percent increase from 2016. That’s nearly $300 a month. But property taxes can differ from one place to the next. As evidence, states like Hawaii, Alabama, Colorado, Tennessee, and West Virginia were found to have lower than average effective property tax rates. They can also vary from city to city. That’s why it’s a good idea to look into how much homeowners pay in property taxes in the areas where you’d most like to buy a home. It may not sway your decision on where you buy, but it will give you a more accurate assessment of how much it’ll cost to buy a house in a particular city.


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How Photography Can Help Sell Your House

Increasingly, people rely on technology to simplify tasks that were once difficult or time consuming. These days, everything from grocery shopping to running a business can be done with an assist from a smartphone app. So it’s no surprise that home shoppers would also go to the internet to gather information on how, what, and where to buy a house. And it’s for that reason that photography has become an important tool for homeowners who are looking to sell a house. For example, a recent National Association of Realtors’ study found 89 percent of buyers who searched listings on the internet said photos were the most useful feature. That makes sense. After all, the photos that accompany online listings can offer home shoppers an idea of what the home looks like inside and out. And while it’s always best to see the house in person – as photography can sometimes give an inaccurate impression of what shape a house is in – good photos are clearly a must if you’re selling a home today.


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What Style Of House Do You Prefer?

Most regions offer house hunters a variety of architectural styles to choose from. Whether you prefer bungalows to ranches or modern over contemporary, you can likely find something that fits your preference. But, according to one recent survey, what you’re looking for might depend on your age. That’s because the results show millennial home buyers are looking for a different kind of home than older buyers. For example, younger buyers expressed a preference for colonial and contemporary homes, when they had a preference at all. On the other hand, buyers over the age of 55 were much more interested in finding a ranch – which is an architectural style favored by only 6 percent of millennials. Of course, some of this has to do with practicalities – such as retirees in search of a one-story home because it eliminates any concern about future mobility and navigating stairs – but it’s also a question of personal taste and aesthetics. Ultimately, though, whatever type of house Americans say they prefer, they generally all say they want that house to have ample storage, a garage, and multiple bedrooms.


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More Home Buyers Sign Contracts In February

If you want to get a feel for how many home buyers there are currently active in the housing market, the National Association of Realtors’ Pending Home Sales Index is a good place to start. It tracks the number of contracts to buy homes signed during the month and, because it measures contract signings and not closings, it’s a good future indicator of where home sales will be a month or so down the road. In short, if there are a lot of pending sales, there will likely be a lot of final sales. Which is why, February’s results are a pretty good indication that the spring season is ramping up. Contract signings were up 3.1 percent in February and rebounded in all four regions of the country. The largest increase was in the Northeast, though pending sales also saw significant improvement in the South. Still, despite the gains, NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun says the pace falls short of last year’s level. “Contract signings rebounded in most areas in February but the gains were not enough to keep up with last February’s level, which was the second highest in over a decade,” Yun said.


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Homeowners Say They’re Optimistic About Buying

Asking Americans whether or not they think this is a good time to buy a house can be an imprecise way of measuring interest in the housing market. That’s because there are a number of personal factors that are weighed when deciding whether or not it’s time to make a move. Which is why survey results can sometimes show one group of people who are pessimistic about their options, while another group expresses optimism. For example, a recent survey from the National Association of Realtors found optimism about buying a house is running high among current homeowners but not as much with renters. That’s due to recent equity gains. In short, as home prices have increased, homeowners have benefited and now see an opportunity to turn their gains into a new house. Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, says this may be good for the overall market. “There’s no question that a majority of homeowners have amassed considerable equity gains since the downturn,” Yun said. “Supply conditions would improve measurably, and ultimately lead to more sales, if a growing number of homeowners finally decide that this spring is the time to list their home for sale.”


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What Strategies Are Buyers Using This Spring?

From all accounts, this spring’s housing market is going to be a busy one. High buyer demand has carried over from last year and so have inventory concerns in many markets. In other words, anyone hoping to find and buy a house this spring should be prepared for competition from other interested buyers. What does that mean? Well, in short, it means moving quickly and saving up some extra money to sweeten the pot, if necessary. In fact, according to a recent survey, home buyers say they are checking online listings every day and 40 percent say they’re planning to put more than 20 percent down. Other strategies buyers say they’re employing this spring to beat the competition include setting price alerts and offering above asking price. Overall, home buyers are aware of current conditions and are preparing themselves for the possibility of having to win over a home seller with an offer that exceeds all others. As evidence of this, just six percent of survey respondents said they are doing nothing to prepare for competition from other buyers.


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Sales of Existing Homes Rebound In February

Sales of previously owned homes declined in both December and January. But that isn’t all that surprising. Cold weather in much of the country, combined with the end of the year and the holidays often causes home sales to slow down. This year, however, with current inventory levels and affordability conditions, some worried that the slow sales pace may mean something more significant and could even lead to a disappointing spring season. But new numbers from the National Association of Realtors provide some relief, showing February sales rebounding 3 percent from the month before, with single-family home sales up 4.2 percent. Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, says increases in the South and West made up for slumping sales in colder areas like the Midwest and Northeast. “A big jump in existing sales in the South and West last month helped the housing market recover from a two-month sales slump,” Yun says. “The very healthy U.S. economy and labor market are creating a sizable interest in buying a home in early 2018.” More here


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Homes Stay On The Market For Fewer Days

These days, there are a lot of people interested in buying a house. A stronger economy, more jobs, and years of pent-up demand have led to a rising number of Americans who are eager to make a move. But while that’s positive, more buyers active in the market also means homes sell faster. In fact, according to Nationwide’s recent Health of Housing Markets Report, the average home was on the market for just 67 days in 2017 – with houses in some market going in half that time. That means, buyers need to do their homework, cause they may not have the luxury of being able to take their time debating each home’s pros and cons. It also means good news for sellers. “As we head into spring and the traditional season when sales heat up, buyers will find that desirable homes won’t be on the market for long,” says David Berson, Nationwide’s senior vice president and chief economist. “Today, the average home is on the market almost half the length of time that it was six years ago. Of course, that is good news for people looking to sell their home.” More here.


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Are More New Houses On The Way?

Generally speaking, there are fewer homes available to buy right now than is considered normal. And though conditions will differ from one market to the next, when inventory is an issue, it leads to competition and higher prices. That’s because, there are too many buyers vying for the number of homes currently available. But when there are more buyers than there are homes for sale, conditions are also ripe for builders. And typically, they’ll take notice and build more homes to accommodate those buyers. Based on recent readings of the National Association of Home Builders’ Housing Market Index – which measures builders’ confidence in the market for new homes – that may be where the market is right now. For example, builders confidence has been at or above 70 for four consecutive months, on a scale where any number above 50 indicates more builders see conditions as good than poor. And most of their optimism is based on market conditions and their expectations for future sales, rather than current traffic. Which means, builders see an opportunity in this year’s market and may begin ramping up construction of new homes. If that happens, it’ll provide more choices for buyers and help slow spiking price increases. More here.


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