What Credit Score Do You Need To Buy A House?

There are many misconceptions about the credit score needed to buy a house. Recently, it was reported that 24% of renters believe they need a 780-800 credit score to be considered for a mortgage. The reality is they are misinformed!

Only 25% of the Americans have a FICO® Score between 740 and 800. Here is the breakdown according to Experian:

  • 16% Very Poor (300-579)

  • 18% Fair (580-669)

  • 21% Good (670-739)

  • 25% Very Good (740-799)

  • 20% Exceptional (800-850)

Randy Hopper, Senior Vice President of Mortgage Lending for Navy Federal Credit Union said,

Just because you have a low credit score doesn’t mean you can’t purchase a home. There are a lot of options out there for consumers with low FICO® scores,”

There are many programs available with low or no credit score requirement. The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) now requires a minimum FICO® score of 580 if you want to qualify for the low down payment advantage. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) does not set a minimum credit score requirement, but most lenders require a score of at least 640. Veterans Affairs (VA) loans have no credit score requirement.

As you can see, none of them are above 700!

It is true that the average FICO® score for all closed loans in January was 726, but there are plenty of people taking advantage of the low credit score requirements. Here is the average FICO® Score of closed FHA Loans since April 2012 according to Ellie Mae:As you can see, that number has been dropping for the last seven years. As a matter of fact, the average FHA Purchase FICO® Score reported in January 2019 was 675!

One of the challenges is that Americans are unsure about their credit score. They just assume that it is too low to qualify and do not double check. Credit.com confirmed that only 57% of individuals sought out their credit score at least once last year.

FICO® reported,

Since October 2009, the average year-over-year FICO® Score has steadily and consistently increased, from a low of 686 in 2009 to the latest high of 704 as of 2018.”

Here is the increase in the average US FICO® Score over the same period of time as the graph earlier.

Bottom Line

At least 84% of Americans have a score that would allow them to buy a house. If you are unsure what your score is or would like to improve your score in order to become a homeowner, sit down with a real estate professional that can help you to set a path to reach your dream!

Want To Increase Your Family's Wealth? Here's How!

Everyone should realize that unless you are living somewhere rent-free, you are paying a mortgage – either yours or your landlord’s. Buying your own home provides you with a form of ‘forced savings’ that allows you to use your monthly housing costs to increase your family’s wealth.

Every month that you pay your mortgage, you are paying off a portion of the debt that you took on to purchase your home. Therefore, you own a little bit more of your home every month in the form of home equityAs your home’s value increases, you also gain home equity.

Every quarter, Pulsenomics surveys a nationwide panel of over 100 economists, real estate experts, and investment and market strategists. They are asked to project how residential home prices will appreciate over the next five years for their Home Price Expectation Survey (HPES).

The latest data from their Q1 2019 Survey revealed that home prices are expected to round out the year 4.3% higher than they were in January. For the next 5 years, home values will appreciate by an average of 3.21% a year.

This is great news for homeowners!

For example, let’s assume a young couple purchased and closed on a $250,000 home in January of this year. Simply through their home appreciating in value, those homeowners can build their home equity by over $40,000 over the next five years.

Let’s look at the potential equity gained over the same period of time at some higher price points:

In many cases, home equity is a large portion of a family’s overall net worth.

Bottom Line

Whether it’s your first or your fifth, if your plan for this year includes buying a home, meet with a local real estate professional who can help you understand where prices are headed in your area.

How Can I Increase My Family's Net Worth?

How Can I Increase My Family's Net Worth?

Every three years, the Federal Reserve conducts their Survey of Consumer Finances. Data is collected across all economic and social groups. The latest survey data covers 2013-2016.

The study revealed that the median net worth of a homeowner is $231,400 – a 15% increase since 2013. At the same time, the median net worth of renters decreased by 5% ($5,200 today compared to $5,500 in 2013).

These numbers reveal that the net worth of a homeowner is over 44 times greater than that of a renter.

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2019 Will Be a Great Year for Buyers AND Sellers

2019 Will Be a Great Year for Buyers AND Sellers

Many homeowners believe that rising interest rates and home prices have scared away buyers and therefore have not listed their houses for sale. However, the truth is that buyers who were unable to find a home last year are out in force, and there are even more coming!

NerdWallet’s 2018 Home Buyer Report revealed that:

“Approximately one-third (32%) of Americans plan to purchase a home in the next five years. Millennials are most likely to have such a purchase in their five-year plan (49%), versus 35% of Generation X and 17% of baby boomers.”

As we can see, buyers are optimistic! According to the report, here are the top reasons Americans plan to buy:

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How to Save Thousands of Dollars in Interest on Your Mortgage

One of the most common loans you can get to buy a home is a 30-year fixed rate mortgage. If the thought of paying for your home over the course of 30-years seems daunting, here are some easy ways to shorten that term which will actually end up saving you money over the life of your loan.

Any additional payments to the principal amount (the original sum of money borrowed in a loan), helps to cut down the amount of interest that you will pay over the life of your loan and can also help to shave years off the loan as well.

When you make ‘extra’ payments toward your loan, the key is to let your lender/bank know that you want the extra funds to go toward your principal balance as they will not automatically do this for you.

You don’t have to double your mortgage payment to make a big difference either!

If you have a 30-year mortgage on a median-priced home ($250,000) with a 5% interest rate, you’ll be responsible for a $1,342.05 monthly principal and interest payment. Over the course of the loan, if you pay your exact monthly payment, you will have paid $233,133.89 in interest alone!

Paying a Little Extra Can Pay Off Big

1. Pay an additional 1/12th of your mortgage payment every month

Benefit: In the example above, adding $111.84 to your monthly mortgage payment might not seem like a lot, but each year you will have paid one extra month’s worth of payments which will shorten the term of your loan by 4 years and 8 months, all while saving you $42,000 in interest!

2. Pay an additional $50 per month towards your mortgage

Benefit: Fifty dollars might not seem like enough to make a difference on the term of your loan, but that small amount will save you over $21,000 in interest and will take over 2 years off the end of your loan. Twenty-eight years from now, you’ll be happy to pay off your loan that much sooner!

3. Make one-time lump sum payments when you can

Benefit: If you find yourself with a little extra money after a yearly bonus, a tax return, or from investment dividends, paying that money towards the principal can cut your costs. This option, however, is less predictable than the extra monthly payments.

If you have higher interest debts, like credit cards, consider using any extra funds you have to pay those debts down before applying that money towards your mortgage. Also, if you do not plan on staying in your home for more than 10 years, paying extra toward your mortgage might not make sense.

Bottom Line

If you’re wondering what strategies would work best for you to shorten the term of your loan, let’s get together to answer your questions.

What’s ahead for Real Estate in 2019?

What’s ahead for Real Estate in 2019?

What’s ahead for Real Estate in 2019?

As we begin another year, everyone wants to know: “Where is the housing market headed in 2019?”

It’s not only buyers, sellers, and homeowners who are impacted. The real estate market plays an integral role in the overall U.S. economy.  Fortunately, key indicators point toward a stable housing market in 2019 with signs of modest growth. However, shifting conditions could impact you if you plan to buy, sell, or refinance this year.

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What Makes a House a Home For You?

We frequently talk about why it makes sense to buy a home financially, but more often than not the emotional reasons are the more powerful or compelling ones.

No matter what shape or size your living space is, the concept and feeling of a home can mean different things to different people. Whether it’s a certain scent or a favorite chair, the emotional reasons why we choose to buy our own homes are typically more important to us than the financial ones.

1. Owning your home offers stability to start and raise a family

From the best neighborhoods to the best school districts, even those without children at the time of purchase may have this in the back of their minds as a major reason for choosing the location of the home that they purchase.

2. There’s no place like home

Owning your own home offers you not only safety and security, but also a comfortable place that allows you to relax after a long day!

3. You have more space for you and your family

Whether your family is expanding, an older family member is moving in, or you need to have a large backyard for your pets, you can take all this into consideration when buying your dream home!

4. You have control over renovations, updates, and style

Looking to actually try one of those complicated wall treatments that you saw on Pinterest? Tired of paying an additional pet deposit for your apartment building? Or maybe you want to finally adopt that puppy or kitten you’ve seen online 100 times? Who’s to say that you can’t do all of these things in your own home?

Bottom Line

Whether you are a first-time homebuyer or a move-up buyer who wants to start a new chapter in your life, now is a great time to reflect on the intangible factors that make a house a home.

24 Hours that Suddenly Improved the Market

This year started strong for real estate, but then the market began to soften. Home inventory in the starter and move-up categories dwindled to almost nothing, mortgage rates were projected to rise, and home sales had decreased for several months in a row.

To many, the outlook heading into 2019 appeared dim… at best.

Then, in a 24-hour window last week, things seemed to change. On Wednesday, the National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) revealed in their Existing Homes Sales Report that home sales had INCREASED for the second consecutive month. The next day, NAR’s economic research team announced that the percentage of first-time buyers in the market was higher than last month and even higher than a year ago.

What happened to turn around the downward momentum in the market? 

You only needed to wait a few hours to find out. On the heels of NAR’s revelations, Zillow released their November Real Estate Market Report that explained:

“After nearly four years of annual declines in inventory, the number of homes for sale has now increased year-over-year for three straight months…”

Ending 2018, we now know two things:

  1. Listing inventory increased over the last three months

  2. Home sales increased over the last two months

Maybe a lack of inventory was the major challenge all along.

But, what about those pesky interest rates?

Last Thursday (the day after all of the above news), Freddie Mac announced that mortgage rates did not increase but instead decreased…again. From their release:

“The response to the recent decline in mortgage rates is already being felt in the housing market. After declining for six consecutive months, existing home sales finally rose in October and November and are essentially at the same level as during the summer months.

This modest rebound in sales indicates that homebuyers are very sensitive to mortgage rate changes – and given the further drop in rates we’ve seen this month, we expect to see a modest rebound in home sales as well.”

Bottom Line

Will 2019 start out better than many have predicted? Perhaps, but we’ll have to wait and see. Things do look much better today, though, than they did just a month ago.

Don't Get Caught in the Rental Trap in 2019

Every year around this time, we take time to reflect and plan for next year. If you are renting your current home but have dreams of homeownership, your plan for the new year may include buying, and you wouldn’t be alone!

According to the 2018 Bank of America Homebuyer Insights Report, 74% of renters plan on buying in the next 5 years, with 38% planning to buy in the next 2 years!

When those same renters were asked why they disliked renting, 52% said that rising rental costs were their top reason, and 42% of renters believe that their rent will rise every year. The full results of the survey can be seen below:

It’s no wonder that rising rental costs came in as the top answer! The median asking rent price has risen steadily over the last 30 years, as you can see below!

There is a long-standing rule that a household should not spend more than 28% of its income on housing expenses. With nearly half of renters (48%) surveyed already spending more than that, and with their rents likely to rise again… why are they renting?

When asked why they haven’t purchased a home yet, not having enough saved for a down payment (44%) came in as the top response. The report went on to reveal that nearly half of all respondents believe that “a 20% down payment is required to buy a home.”

If the majority of those who believe they haven’t saved a large enough down payment believe that they need 20% down to buy, that means a large number of renters may be able to buy now!

Bottom Line

If you are one of the many renters who is fed up with rising rents but may be confused about what is required to buy in today’s market, contact a local real estate professional who can help you on your path to homeownership.

No Bubble Here! How New Mortgage Standards Are Helping

Real estate is shifting to a more normal market; the days of national home appreciation topping 6% annually are over and inventories are increasing which is causing bidding wars to almost disappear. Some see these as signs that the market will soon come tumbling down as it did in 2008.

As it becomes easier for buyers to obtain mortgages, many are suggesting that this is definite proof that banks are repeating the same mistakes they made a decade ago. Today, we want to assure everyone that we are not heading to another housing “bubble & bust.”

Each month, the Mortgage Bankers’ Association (MBA) releases a measurement which indicates the availability of mortgage credit known as the Mortgage Credit Availability Index (MCAI). According to the MBA:

“The MCAI provides the only standardized quantitative index that is solely focused on mortgage credit. The MCAI is calculated using several factors related to borrower eligibility (credit score, loan type, loan-to-value ratio, etc.).” *

The higher the measurement, the easier it is to get a mortgage. During the buildup to the last housing bubble, the measurement sat at around 400. In 2005 and 2006, the measurement more than doubled to over 800 and was still at almost 600 in 2007. When the market crashed in 2008, the index fell to just over 100.

Over the last decade, as credit began to ease, the index increased to where it is today at 186.7 – still less than half of what it was prior to the buildup of last decade and less than one-quarter of where it was during the bubble.

Here is a graph depicting this information (remember, the higher the index, the easier it was to get a mortgage):

Bottom Line

Though mortgage standards have loosened somewhat during the last few years, we are nowhere near the standards that helped create the housing crisis ten years ago.

*For more information on the MCAI, including methodology, FAQs, and other helpful resources, please click here.

4 Reasons to Sell Your House This Winter

Some Highlights:

  • Buyer demand continues to outpace the supply of homes for sale which means that buyers are often competing with one another for the few listings that are available!

  • Housing inventory is still under the 6-month supply needed to sustain a normal housing market.

  • Perhaps the time has come for you and your family to move on and start living the life you desire.

Homeowners Aged 65+ Have 48x More Net Worth Than Renters

Every three years, the Federal Reserve conducts their Survey of Consumer Finances in which they collect data across all economic and social groups. Their latest survey data covers responses from 2013-2016.

The study revealed that the median net worth of a homeowner was $231,400 – a 15% increase since 2013. At the same time, the median net worth of renters decreased by 5% ($5,200 today compared to $5,500 in 2013).

These numbers reveal that the net worth of a homeowner is over 44 times greater than that of a renter.

There are many who see that statistic and point toward how broad the range of respondents are for the Federal Reserve survey. Their study includes all economic and social groups and also includes all age groups. The argument is that older respondents have a higher likelihood of being homeowners, while the homeownership rate among younger survey takers is much lower.

Recently, the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University focused on homeowners and renters over the age of 65. Their study revealed that the difference in net worth between homeowners and renters at this age group was actually 47.5 times greater!

Baby Boomers are Downsizing, Are You Ready to Move?

For a while now baby boomers have been blamed for a portion of the housing market’s current lack of housing inventory, but should they really be getting the blame?

Here’s what some of the experts have to say on the subject:

Aaron Terrazas, Senior Economist at Zillow, says that “Boomers are healthier and working longer than previous generations, which means they aren’t yet ready to sell their homes.

According to a study by Realtor.com85% of baby boomers indicated they were not planning to sell their homes.

It is true that baby boomers are healthier and are thus working and living longer, but are they also refusing to sell their homes? 

Last month, Trulia looked at the housing situation of seniors (aged 65+) today compared to that of a decade ago. Trulia’s study revealed that:

Although seniors appear to be delaying downsizing until later in life, as a group, households 65 and over are still downsizing at roughly the same rate as in years past.”

Trulia also explains that, 

5.5% of households 65 and over moved, pretty evenly split between moves to single family (2.7%) and multifamily (2.4%) homes. In 2005these percentages were virtually the same, with 5.5% of senior households moving, including 2.5% into single family and 2.5% into multifamily homes.”

So, if these percentages are the same, what is the challenge?

Recent reports tell us that the older population grew from 3 million in 1900 to 47.8 million in 2017.

In addition, the Census recently revised the numbers from their National Population Projections:

The aging of baby boomers means that within just a couple decades, older people are projected to outnumber children for the first time in U.S. history…By 2035, there will be 78.0 million people 65 years and older compared to 76.7 million under the age of 18.

Bottom Line

If you are a baby boomer who is not sure whether you should downsize or move to a warmer climate (other people are doing it, why not you?), call a local real estate professional who can help you evaluate your options today!