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Mainstream Concerns about an Economic Slowdown

by Cheryl Scott-Daniels

Mainstream Concerns about an Economic Slowdown

Mainstream Concerns about an Economic Slowdown Revisited | MyKCM

Many believe a recession could happen within the next two years. 70% of economists and market analysts surveyed last year believe that a recession will occur in 2019 or 2020 and that 42% of consumers currently looking to purchase a home also agree that a recession will occur this year or next.

However, the U.S. economy has performed well in the first quarter of 2019 and that has caused some experts to change their thinking on an impending economic slowdown.

Here are a few notable examples:

Anthony Chan, Chief Economist at JPMorgan Chase

“I feel really comfortable that the economy is slowing down this year, but not going into a recession… It doesn’t look, to me, like the odds of a recession in 2020 are there.”

Dean Baker, Senior Economist at the Center for Economic & Policy Research

 “To sum up the general picture, the U.S. economy is definitely weakening… However, with wages growing at a respectable pace, and job growth remaining healthy, we should see enough consumption demand to keep the economy moving forward. That means slower growth, but no recession.”

Lisa Shalett, Chief Investment Officer, Wealth Management at Morgan Stanley

“I’m not convinced a recession is coming soon… I see an improving housing market (low rates help), a rebound in bank lending, a tight labor market, higher oil prices and well-behaved credit markets. All these point to a stable U.S. economic outlook.”

Bottom Line

We are seeing a stronger economy than many had predicted. That has caused some experts to push off the possibility of a recession further into the horizon.

 

One Loan for Purchase & Renovations

by Cheryl Scott-Daniels
4/24/2019

The FNMA HomeStyle conventional mortgage allows a buyer to purchase a home that needs renovations and include them in the financing.  This facilitates the purchase of the home and the renovations in one loan rather than getting a separate second mortgage or home equity line of credit.

The combination of these loans should save closing costs as well as interest rates which would typically be higher on a home improvement loan.

The borrower will need to have an itemized, written bid from a contractor covering the scope of the improvements.  Any type of renovation or repair is eligible if it is a permanent part of the property.  Improvements must be completed within 12 months from the date the mortgage loan is delivered.

  • 15 and 30-year fixed rate and eligible adjustable rate loans are available.
  • Typical FNMA down payments are available starting as low as 3% for a one-unit principal residence to 25% for three and four-unit principal residence and one-unit investment properties.
  • Borrower must choose his or her own contractor to perform the renovation.
  • Lender must review the contractor hired by the borrower to determine if they are adequately qualified and experienced for the work being performed. The Contractor Profile Report (Form 1202) can be used to assist the lender in making this determination.
  • Borrowers must have a construction contract with their contractor. Fannie Mae has a model Construction Contract (Form 3734) that may be used to document the construction contract between the borrower and the contractor.
  • Plans and specifications must be prepared by a registered, licensed, or certified general contractor, renovation consultant, or architect. The plans and specifications should fully describe all work to be done and provide an indication of when various jobs or stages of completion will be scheduled (including both the start and job completion dates)

Up to 50% of the renovation funds may be advanced for the cost of materials after the closing of the loan.

This mortgage does have a provision for the borrower to do a portion of the work themselves if it doesn't exceed 10% of the total project and it must pass inspection on completion just as the contractor's work.

It is recommended that borrowers thoroughly research this program before they commit to a loan.  For detailed information, see FNMA HomeStyle Renovation Mortgage and Selling Guide Announcement SEL-2017-02  It is important to work with a mortgage officer who is familiar with these loans who can guide you through the process.

 

What You Need to Know About Today’s Real Estate Market

by Cheryl Scott-Daniels

3 Graphs that Show What You Need to Know About Today’s Real Estate Market

3 Graphs that Show What You Need to Know About Today's Real Estate Market | MyKCM

The Housing Market has been a hot-topic in the news lately. Depending on which media outlet you watch, it can start to be a bit confusing to understand what’s really going on with interest rates and home prices!

The best way to show what’s really going on in today’s real estate market is to go straight to the data! We put together the following three graphs along with a quote from Chief Economists that have their finger on the pulse of what each graph illustrates.

Interest Rates:

“The real estate market is thawing in response to the sustained decline in mortgage rates and rebound in consumer confidence – two of the most important drivers of home sales. Rising sales demand coupled with more inventory than previous spring seasons suggests that the housing market is in the early stages of regaining momentum.” – Sam Khater, Chief Economist at Freddie Mac

3 Graphs that Show What You Need to Know About Today's Real Estate Market | Keeping Current Matters

Income:

“A powerful combination of lower mortgage rates, more inventory, rising income and higher consumer confidence is driving the sales rebound.” – Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at NAR

3 Graphs that Show What You Need to Know About Today's Real Estate Market | Keeping Current Matters

Home Prices:

“Price growth has been too strong for several years, fueled in part by abnormally low interest rates. A mild deceleration in home sales and Home Price Index growth is actually healthy, because it will calm excessive price growth — which has pushed many markets, particularly in the West, into overvalued territory.” – Ralph DeFranco, Global Chief Economist at Arch Capital Services Inc.

3 Graphs that Show What You Need to Know About Today's Real Estate Market | Keeping Current Matters

Bottom Line

These three graphs indicate good news for the spring housing market! Interest rates are low, income is rising, and home prices have experienced mild deceleration over the last 9 months. If you are considering buying a home or selling your house, let’s get together to chat about our market!

The Enormous Divide Between the Headline and the Truth

by Cheryl Scott-Daniels

The Enormous Divide Between the Headline and the Truth

The Enormous Divide Between the Headline and the Truth | MyKCM

“I have observed that not the man who hopes when others despair, but the man who despairs when others hope, is admired by a large class of persons as a sage.” – John Stuart Mill (1840s)

Even back in the mid-1800s, people knew that negative news sells. That is still true today. All forms of media realize that they will get more eyeballs, clicks, likes, and engagement by posting something negative. However, they must realize that negative headlines impact markets.

Just last week, the National Association of Home Builders released a survey revealing:

“Negative media reports making buyers cautious was a significant problem for 48% of builders in 2018, but 62% expect it to be a problem in 2019.”

Even today, good news is headlined with a negative spin in order to get attention. Here are two recent examples from mainstream media:

Actual Headline #1Cash-out refis are back – will homes become ATMs again?

The real story: The headline is accurate – to a point. It is true that the percentage of refinances in which the homeowner received cash at the closing has increased to levels that existed in 2006. However, the actual amount of equity homeowners “cashed-out” compared to a decade ago isn’t close.

The dollar amount cashed-out last year was $63 billion. That seems like a really large number until we compare it to 2006, when homeowners cashed-out $321 billion. That is more than five times the current amount.

In 2006, people did use their homes as ATMs. They purchased new cars, boats, and lavish vacations. Today, the cashed-out equity is being used to consolidate debt, as seed capital for a new business, or to help a child with their college tuition.

Actual HeadlineConsumer Debt hits $4 Trillion. Americans are diving deeper and deeper into debt.

The real story: The first sentence of the headline is accurate. The second sentence couldn’t be further from the truth. Total consumer debt is the highest it has ever been. That’s because the population continues to grow, and so does the economy (prices and wages).

The important number is how that total debt ranks as a percentage of disposable personal incomeThat percentage is the lowest ever recorded!! People are not “diving deeper and deeper into debt”. The exact opposite is true. They have less debt now than ever before.

Bottom Line

If you are thinking about buying or selling a home, it is important that you have a true professional handling your real estate needs. Someone who knows the truth about the current economy and its potential impact on the housing market.

The Housing Market Will “Spring Forward” This Year!

by Cheryl Scott-Daniels

The Housing Market Will “Spring Forward” This Year!

The Housing Market Will “Spring Forward” This Year! | MyKCM

Just like our clocks this weekend, in the majority of the country, the housing market will soon “spring forward!” Similar to tension in a spring, the lack of inventory available for sale has been holding back the market.

Many potential sellers believe that waiting until Spring is in their best interest. Traditionally, they would have been right.

Buyer demand has seasonality to it. Usually, this falls off in the winter months, especially in areas of the country impacted by arctic conditions.

That hasn’t happened this year.

Demand for housing has remained strong as mortgage rates have remained near historic lows. Even with an increase in rates forecasted for 2019, buyers are still able to lock in an affordable monthly payment. Buyers are increasingly jumping off the fence and into the market to secure a lower rate.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) recently reported that in 2018 the top 10 dates sellers listed their homes all fell in April, May, or June.

Those who act quickly and list now, before a flood of increased competition, will benefit from additional exposure to buyers.

Bottom Line

If you are planning on selling your home in 2019, meet with a local real estate professional to evaluate the opportunities in your market.

Mortgage Payments - Can You Afford It

by Cheryl Scott-Daniels

Depends If You Can Afford It

Affordability, stability and flexibility are the three reasons homebuyers overwhelmingly choose a 30-year term.  The payments are lower, easier to qualify for the mortgage and they can always make additional principal contributions.

However, for those who can afford a higher payment and commit to the 15-year term, there are three additional reasons: lower mortgage interest rate, build equity faster and retire the debt sooner.

The 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage is the loan of choice for first-time buyers who are more likely to use a minimum down payment and are concerned with affordable payments.  For a more experienced buyer who doesn't mind and can qualify making larger payments, there are some advantages.

Consider a $200,000 mortgage at 30 year and 15-year terms with recent mortgage rates at 4.2% and 3.31% respectively.  The payment is $433.15 less on the 30-year term but the interest being charged is higher.  The total interest paid by the borrower if each of the loans was retired would be almost three times more for the 30-year term.

Let's look at a $300,000 mortgage with 4.41% being quoted on the 30-year and 3.84% on the 15-year.  The property taxes and insurance would be the same on either loan.  The interest rate is a little over a half a percent lower on the 15-year loan, but it also has a $691.03 higher principal and interest payment due to the shorter term.

The principal contribution on the first payment of the 30-year loan is $401.56 and it is $1,235.09 on the 15-year loan.  The mortgage is being reduced by $833.53 more which exceeds the increased payment on the 15-year by $142.50.  Interestingly, over three times more is being paid toward the principal.

Some people might suggest getting a 30-year loan and then, making the payments as if they were on a 15-year loan.  That would certainly accelerate amortization and save interest.  The real challenge is the discipline to make the payments on a consistent basis if you don't have to.  Many experts cite that one of the benefits of homeownership is a forced savings that occurs due to the amortization that is not necessarily done by renters.

Use this 30-year vs. 15-year financial app to compare mortgages in your price range.  A 15-year mortgage will be approximately half a percent cheaper in rate.  You can also check current rates at FreddieMac.com.

Charm of an Existing Home

by Cheryl Scott-Daniels

Do You Prefer the Charm of an Existing Home?

Do You Prefer the Charm of an Existing Home? | MyKCM

When homebuyers begin their research, they want to see all their available options! In many cases, they will include both new construction and existing homes in their search; but is a new construction home really the house of their dreams?

According to a recent survey by Zillow, of the 38% of total buyers that added new construction to their list, only 11% ultimately purchased a newly constructed home!

They added that 71% of these buyers are repeat buyers who are financially secure, with 45% using the money from the sale of their previous homes to make a purchase.

Below are some reasons why buyers are interested in purchasing a new build:

  • Everything in the house is new/never used (49%)
  • To be close to family (41%)
  • The home is the best value for their money (37%)
  • Appealing home features (34%)
  • Desirable location (34%)

So, then why did most of the buyers surveyed choose not to purchase a new home?

1) Location

Buyers could not find new construction in the desired neighborhood, and some felt that new construction is not established (e.g., landscaping, community, neighbors).

2) Timing

Buyers face the end of a lease or sale of their previous property and could not wait for a house to be built.

3) Price

Some buyers felt that new construction base prices were deceiving. Adding upgrades and HOA fees no longer made the home fit in their price range.

4) Appeal

For some buyers, new construction homes are too “cookie cutter,” and models are limited. Others feel that the charm and uniqueness of an existing house trumps one that’s never been lived in.

Bottom Line

Not all buyers are looking for a newly built house! There are many buyers looking for “the charm and uniqueness” of an existing home. If you are considering selling your house, don’t wait! Let’s get together to come up with a plan to feature the charming details of your house to future buyers.

Standard or Itemized Deductions

by Cheryl Scott-Daniels

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 increased the standard deduction to $24,000 for married couples.  There will be some instances that homeowners may be better off taking the standard deduction than itemizing their deductions.  In the past, homeowners would most likely be better off itemizing but the $10,000 limit of state and local taxes (SALT) adds one more issue to consider.

Let's look at a hypothetical homeowner to see how a strategy that has been around for years could benefit them now even though they haven't used it in the past.  The strategy is called bunching; by timing the payments in a tax year so that they can be combined to make a larger deduction.

Let's say that the married couple filing jointly has a $285,000 mortgage at 5% for 30 years that has about $14,000 in interest being paid.  The property taxes are $6,000 and they have $4,000 a year in charitable contributions for a total of $24,000 of allowable itemized deductions on Schedule A.

Standard Itemized.jpg

Since that deduction amount is the same as the Standard Deduction, there is no monetary advantage one way or the other.  However, if the taxpayers were to pay their interest because they must make timely house payments but only pay $2,000 of the 2018 property taxes in December of 2018 and the balance of the $4,000 in January, they transfer part of the deduction into 2019.

Additionally, if they make their intended charitable contribution for 2018 in January of 2019, it makes that deductible on the 2019 return.

Since the total deductible amounts paid out in 2018 was $16,000, the taxpayers would have an $8,000 benefit that year from taking the Standard Deduction. 

Assuming they made the same $4,000 charitable contribution in 2019 during the year and paid the house payment and property taxes on time, their total deductions for 2019 would be $32,000 which is $8,000 more than the Standard Deduction.

In this example, the taxpayers in 2018 and 2019, would benefit a total of $16,000 in tax deductions by bunching and electing to take the standard deduction one year and itemizing the next. 

This is only an example but if your situation is similar, it might benefit you to consider an alternative when to take the standard deduction and when to itemize.  This is a conversation you need to have with your tax professional to see if it would work for you.

The Market Is Looking Good

by Cheryl Scott-Daniels

24 Hours that Suddenly Improved the Market

24 Hours that Suddenly Improved the Market | MyKCM

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 Reportthat 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.

Gift of Equity

by Cheryl Scott-Daniels

Gift of Equity

There is a little-known mortgage program that could provide the vehicle for the right person to get into a home.  If a person sells their home to another for less than the fair market value, the difference in the appraised value and the sales price is considered a gift of equity for the buyer.

FHA requires that borrowers receive gifts of equity only from family members transferring title to the borrower. 

An appraisal is required to determine the value of the home.  The sales price is subtracted from the appraised value to determine the equity to be gifted.  If a home appraises for $300,000 when the owner will sell it for $250,000, the gift is $50,000.

The gift is applied to the down payment.  In this example, the borrower would have to qualify for a $250,000 mortgage which would require private mortgage insurance because a 20% down payment on a $300,000 home would be $60,000.  If the buyer had an additional $10,000 in cash to put down, the PMI would not be required, and the monthly payments would be lower.

The seller would need to provide a gift letter stating the amount of the gift, the date the gift, and that no repayment is expected or required.  It also needs to have the donor's name, address, phone, email and relationship to the buyer.  In addition, the settlement statement will need to show the gift being credited from the seller to the buyer.  The lender may require additional documentation.

Beginning in 2018, the annual gift tax exemption is increased to $15,000 per person per year and lifetime exemption to $5.6 million.  The fact that the $50,000 exceeds the individual amount doesn't mean there will necessarily be any gift tax due now.  The seller should consult their tax professional.

 

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 65

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