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!

Is the Increase in Inventory a Bullish or Bearish Sign for Real Estate?

In a recent article, National Housing Inventory Crisis Reaches Inflection Pointrealtor.com reported that:

  1. New listings jumped 8% year-over-year nationally, the largest increase since 2013

  2. Total listings in the 45 largest markets are now up 6% on average over last year

This increase in housing inventory has sparked two different reactions. Some are saying this is the first sign of a potential collapse while others are saying it is a welcomed reprieve from the lack of inventory that has stalled the market recently. As Zelman & Associates reported in a recent ‘Z Report’:

“With the rate of home price appreciation starting to decelerate alongside the uptick in inventory, we expect significant debate whether this is a bullish or bearish sign.”

Is this a sign the market might crash?

There are those who look at the increase in inventory as a sign that we are returning to the market we saw last decade. However, a closer look shows that we are nowhere near the levels of inventory we reached before the crash in 2008.

A normal market would have about 6-months inventory, but the latest Existing Home Sales Report issued by the National Association of Realtors revealed that:

“Unsold inventory is at a 4.3-month supply at the current sales pace up from 4.1 months a year ago.”

A decade ago, prices began to rapidly depreciate in June 2007. At that time, we had a 9.1-month supply (more than double what it is today) and inventory kept rising until it hit a peak of 11.1 months in April of 2008.

With the current levels of buyer demand, any such increase in months supply is highly unlikely. As Danielle Hale, realtor.com’s Chief Economist explains:

 “After years of record-breaking inventory declines, September’s almost flat inventory signals a big change in the real estate market. Would-be buyers who had been waiting for a bigger selection of homes for sale may finally see more listings materialize. But don’t expect the level to jump dramatically.

Plenty of buyers in the market are scooping up homes as soon as they’re listed, which will keep national increases relatively small for the time being.”

What will be the result of the increase in inventory?

The increase in inventory will allow many families who had been unable to find a home to finally become homeowners. Again, we quote from the ‘Z Report’:

“In our view, the short-term narrative will probably be confusing, but more sustainable growth and affordability will likely be the end result.”

Bottom Line

If you are either a first-time or second-time buyer who has given up, let’s get together discuss the inventory available in our market.

20 Tips for Preparing Your House for Sale This Fall

Some Highlights:

  • When listing your house for sale, your top goal will be to get the home sold for the best price possible!

  • There are many small projects that you can do to ensure this happens!

  • Your real estate agent will have a list of specific suggestions for getting your house ready for market and is a great resource for finding local contractors who can help!

New Home Sales Up 12.7% From Last Year

According to the latest New Residential Sales Report from the Census Bureau, new construction sales in August were up 3.5% from July and 12.7% from last year! This marks the second consecutive month with double-digit year-over-year growth (12.8% in July).

The report also showed that builders have ramped up construction with an increase in new construction starts and completions. The summer months are often a busy time for builders as they capitalize on the warmer weather to be able to finish projects.

Below is a table showing the change in starts, completions, and sales from last August.

Other notable news from the report is that the percentage of new construction sales in the $200-$299k range has continued to break away from the $300-$399k range.

This shows that builders are starting to build lower-priced homes that will help alleviate some of the inventory challenges in the starter and trade-up home categories. The chart below shows the full breakdown.

What does this mean for buyers and sellers?

If you are thinking of buying or selling in today’s market, you no doubt have heard that there is a shortage of existing homes for sale which has been driving home prices up across the country. The additional new construction coming to the market could help alleviate this shortage, but we are still not back up to pre-crisis levels.

5 Tips for Starting Your Home Search

In today’s real estate market, with low inventory dominating the conversation in many areas of the country, it can often be frustrating to be a first-time homebuyer if you aren’t prepared.

In a recent realtor.com article entitled, “How to Find Your Dream Home—Without Losing Your Mind,” the author highlights some steps that first-time homebuyers can take to help carry their excitement of buying a home throughout the whole process.

1. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage Before You Start Your Search

One way to show you are serious about buying your dream home is to get pre-qualified or pre-approved for a mortgage before starting your search. Even if you are in a market that is not as competitive, understanding your budget will give you the confidence of knowing whether or not your dream home is within your reach.

This step will also help you narrow your search based on your budget and won’t leave you disappointed if the home you tour, and love, ends up being outside your budget!

2. Know the Difference Between Your ‘Must-Haves’ and ‘Would-Like-To-Haves’

Do you really need that farmhouse sink in the kitchen to be happy with your home choice? Would a two-car garage be a convenience or a necessity? Could the ‘man cave’ of your dreams be a future renovation project instead of a make-or-break right now?

Before you start your search, list all the features of a home you would like and then qualify them as ‘must-haves’, ‘should-haves’, or ‘absolute-wish list’ items. This will help keep you focused on what’s most important.

3. Research and Choose a Neighborhood You Want to Live In

Every neighborhood has its own charm. Before you commit to a home based solely on the house itself, the article suggests test-driving the area. Make sure that the area meets your needs for “amenities, commute, school district, etc. and then spend a weekend exploring before you commit.”

4. Pick a House Style You Love and Stick to It

Evaluate your family’s needs and settle on a style of home that would best serve those needs. Just because you’ve narrowed your search to a zip code, doesn’t mean that you need to tour every listing in that zip code.

An example from the article says, “if you have several younger kids and don’t want your bedroom on a different level, steer clear of Cape Cod–style homes, which typically feature two or more bedrooms on the upper level and the master on the main.”

5. Document Your Home Visits

Once you start touring homes, the features of each individual home will start to blur together. The article suggests keeping your camera handy and documenting what you love and don’t love about each property you visit. They even go as far as to suggest snapping a photo of the ‘for sale’ sign on the way into the property to help keep the listings divided in your photo gallery.

Making notes on the listing sheet as you tour the property will also help you remember what the photos mean, or what you were feeling while touring the home.

Bottom Line

In a high-paced, competitive environment, any advantage you can give yourself will help you on your path to buying your dream home.

Buying a Home? Do You Know the Lingo?

Some Highlights


Buying a home can be intimidating if you are not familiar with the terms used during the process.

  • To start you on your path with confidence, we have compiled a list of some of the most common terms used when buying a home.

  • The best way to ensure that your home-buying process is a confident one is to find a real estate professional who not only puts your family’s needs first, but will guide you through every aspect of the transaction with ‘the heart of a teacher.’


Dispelling the Myth About Home Affordability

We have all seen the headlines that report that buying a home is less affordable today than it was at any other time in the last ten years, and those headlines are accurate. But, have you ever wondered why the headlines don’t say the last 25 years, the last 20 years, or even the last 11 years?

The reason is that homes were less affordable 25, 20, or even 11 years ago than they are today.

Obviously, buying a home is more expensive now than during the ten years immediately following one of the worst housing crashes in American history.

Over the past decade, the market was flooded with distressed properties (foreclosures and short sales) that were selling at 10-50% discounts. There were so many distressed properties that the prices of non-distressed properties in the same neighborhoods were lowered and mortgage rates were kept low to help the economy.

Low Prices + Low Mortgage Rates = High Affordability

Prices have since recovered and mortgage rates have increased as the economy has gained strength. This has and will continue to impact housing affordability moving forward.

However, let’s give affordability some historical context. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) issues their Affordability Index each month. According to NAR:

“The Monthly Housing Affordability Index measures whether or not a typical family earns enough income to qualify for a mortgage loan on a typical home at the national and regional levels based on the most recent monthly price and income data.”

NAR’s current index stands at 138.8. The index had been higher each of the last ten years, peaking at 197 in 2012 (the higher the index the more affordable houses are).

But, the average index between 1990 and 2007 was just 123 and there were no years with an index above 133. That means that homes are more affordable today than at any time during the eighteen years between 1990 and 2007.

Bottom Line

With home prices continuing to appreciate and mortgage rates increasing, home affordability will likely continue to slide. However, this does not mean that buying a house is not an attainable goal in most markets as it is less expensive today than during the eighteen-year stretch immediately preceding the housing bubble and crash.


25% of Homes with a Mortgage are Now Equity Rich!

Rising home prices have been in the news a lot lately and much of the focus has been on whether home prices are accelerating too quickly, as well as how sustainable the growth in prices really is. One of the often-overlooked benefits of rising prices, however, is the impact that they have on a homeowner’s equity position.

Home equity is defined as the difference between the home’s fair market value and the outstanding balance of all liens (loans) on the property. While homeowners pay down their mortgages, the amount of equity they have in their homes climbs each time the value of their homes go up!

According to the latest Equity Report from ATTOM Data Solutions, “13.9 million U.S. properties in Q2 2018 were equity rich — where the combined estimated balance of loans secured by the property was 50 percent or less of the property’s estimated market value — representing 24.9% of all U.S. properties with a mortgage.”

This means that nearly a quarter of Americans who have a mortgage would be able to sell their homes and have a significant down payment toward their next home. Many who sell could also use their new-found equity to pay off high-interest credit cards or help children with tuition costs.

The map below shows the percentage of properties with a mortgage in each state that were equity rich in Q2 2018.