For over 78 years, Veterans Affairs (VA) home loans have provided millions of veterans with the opportunity to purchase homes of their own. If you or a loved one have served, it’s important to understand this program and its benefits.
Here are some things you should know about VA loans before you start the homebuying process.
What Are VA Loans?
VA home loans provide a pathway to homeownership for those who have served our nation. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs describes the program like this:
“VA helps Servicemembers, Veterans, and eligible surviving spouses become homeowners. As part of our mission to serve you, we provide a home loan guaranty benefit and other housing-related programs to help you buy, build, repair, retain, or adapt a home for your own personal occupancy.”
Top Benefits of the VA Home Loan Program
In addition to helping eligible buyers achieve their homeownership dreams, VA loans have several other great benefits for buyers who qualify. According to the Department of Veteran Affairs:
- Qualified borrowers can often purchase a home with no down payment.
- Many other loans with down payments under 20% require Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI). VA Loans do not require PMI, which means veterans can save on their monthly housing costs.
- VA-Backed Loans often offer competitive terms and mortgage interest rates.
A recent article from Veterans United sums up just how impactful this loan option can be:
“For the vast majority of military borrowers, VA loans represent the most powerful lending program on the market. These flexible, $0-down payment mortgages have helped more than 24 million service members become homeowners since 1944.”
John Bell, Acting Executive Director of the Department of Veterans Affairs Loan Guaranty Service, also explains why this program is so powerful:
“It provides early ownership for many people that would not have that opportunity to begin with. Since there’s no down payment, it allows people to hold their wealth and it gives them the ability to have long term financial security by being able to own a house and let that equity grow.”
Homeownership is the American Dream. Our veterans sacrifice so much in service of our nation, and one way we can honor and thank them is to ensure they have the best information about the benefits of VA home loans. Thank you for your service.
Every time there’s a news segment about the housing market, we hear about the affordability challenges buyers are facing today. Those headlines are focused on how much mortgage rates have climbed this year. And while it’s true rates have risen dramatically, it’s important to remember they aren’t the only factor in the affordability equation.
Here are three measures used to establish home affordability: home prices, mortgage rates, and wages. Let’s look closely at each one.
1. Mortgage Rates
This is the factor most people are focused on when they talk about homebuying conditions today. So far, current rates are almost four full percentage points higher than they were at the beginning of the year. As Len Kiefer, Deputy Chief Economist at Freddie Mac, explains:
“U.S. 30-year fixed mortgage rates have increased 3.83 percentage points since the end of last year. That’s the biggest year-to-date increase in rates in over 50 years.”
That increase in mortgage rates is impacting how much it costs to finance a home purchase, creating a challenge for many buyers that’s pricing some out of the market. While the current global uncertainty makes it difficult to project where mortgage rates will go in the future, experts do say that rates will likely remain high as long as inflation does.
2. Home Prices
The second factor at play is home prices. Home prices have made headlines over the past few years because they skyrocketed during the pandemic. Now, the most recent Home Price Index from S&P Case-Shiller shows home values continued to decelerate for a fifth consecutive month (shown in green in the graph below):
This deceleration is happening because higher mortgage rates are moderating demand, and as a result, easing the buyer competition and bidding wars that previously drove prices up.
What’s worth noting though, is how much higher home prices still are than they were before the pandemic (shown in blue in the graph above). Even now, we have a long way to go to get to more normal levels of home price appreciation, which is historically closer to 4%. When both mortgage rates and home prices are high, affordability and your purchasing power become a greater challenge.
But while prices are still elevated in many markets, some areas are seeing slight declines. It all depends on your local market. For insight into what’s happening in your area, reach out to a trusted real estate professional.
The one big, positive component in the affordability equation is the increase in American wages. The graph below uses data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to show how wages have grown over time. This year is no exception.
As the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports:
“Median weekly earnings of the nation’s 120.2 million full-time wage and salary workers were $1,070 in the third quarter of 2022 (not seasonally adjusted), the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported…This was 6.9 percent higher than a year earlier…”
So, when you think about affordability, remember the full picture includes more than just mortgage rates. Home prices and wages need to be factored in as well. Because wages have been rising, they’re a big reason why serious buyers are still purchasing homes this year.
If you have questions or want to learn more, reach out to a trusted advisor who can explain how all of these variables work together and what’s happening in your area. As Leslie Rouda Smith, President of the National Association of Realtors (NAR), says:
“Buying or selling a home involves a series of requirements and variables, and it’s important to have someone in your corner from start to finish to make the process as smooth as possible… and objectivity to deliver trusted expertise to consumers in every U.S. ZIP code.”
To learn more, let’s connect today and make sure you have a trusted lender so you’re able to make an informed decision if you’re planning to buy or sell a home right now.
If you’re thinking about selling your house but wondering if buyers are still out there, know that there are still people who are searching for a home to buy today. And your house may be exactly what they’re looking for.
While the millennial generation has been dubbed the renter generation, that namesake may not be appropriate anymore. Millennials, the largest generation, are actually a significant driving force for buyer demand in the housing market today. Here’s why.
Millennial Homebuying Power
While there’s no denying higher mortgage rates are making it more challenging to afford a home today, many millennials are still eager and able to buy homes – whether it’s their first or they’re moving up. That’s in large part because of the value they place on education.
A recent article from First American says millennials may be the most educated generation in our nation’s history. Because of that, they tend to earn higher wages, and that translates to greater homebuying power. Odeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist at First American, explains:
“In 2020, millennials with a bachelor’s degree had a median household income of over $100,000, while those with at least a graduate degree had a median household income of over $120,000. Compare those income levels with the median household income of millennials with just a high school degree (or some college) of $60,000 and the earning power benefits of higher education are undeniable. . . . Millennials’ pursuit of higher education is good news for the housing market. . . because education is the key to unlock both greater earning power and, in turn, homeownership.”
And since wages are one of the key things that factor into affordability when it comes to buying a home, these higher earnings can help millennials achieve their homeownership goals.
Millennials Continue To Be a Driving Force of Demand
A number of studies have looked into how the millennial generation views homeownership and how they’re uniquely positioned to define the housing market moving forward. As the largest generation, the volume of potential millennial homebuyers will have an impact on the market for years to come. As an article in Forbes explains:
“At about 80 million strong, millennials currently make up the largest share of homebuyers (43%) in the U.S., according to a recent National Association of Realtors (NAR) report. Simply due to their numbers and eagerness to become homeowners, this cohort is quite literally shaping the next frontier of the homebuying process. Once known as the ‘rent generation,’ millennials have proven to be savvy buyers who are quite nimble in their quest to own real estate. In fact, I don’t think it’s a stretch to say they are the key to the overall health and stability of the current housing industry.”
If you’re thinking of selling your house but are hesitant because you’re worried that buyer demand has disappeared in the face of higher mortgage rates, know that isn’t the case for everyone. While demand has eased this year, millennials are still looking for homes. As Mark Fleming, Chief Economist at First American, says in an article:
“While not the frenzy of 2021, the largest living generation, the Millennials, will continue to age into their prime home-buying years, creating a demographic tailwind for the housing market.”
Millennials are interested in and well-positioned to achieve their homeownership dreams. If you’re ready to sell your house, know that it may be just what they’re looking for.
- When you head out to buy a home, there are a number of key milestones you’ll encounter along the way.
- The process includes everything from building your team and understanding your finances to going house hunting, making an offer, and more.
- Your journey starts here. Let’s connect so you have expert guidance each step of the way.
Rising interest rates have begun to slow an overheated housing market as monthly mortgage payments have risen dramatically since the beginning of the year. This is leaving some people who want to purchase a home priced out of the market and others wondering if now is the time to buy one. But this rise in borrowing cost shows no signs of letting up soon.
Economic uncertainty and the volatility of the financial markets are causing mortgage rates to rise. George Ratiu, Senior Economist and Manager of Economic Research at realtor.com, says this:
“While even two months ago rates above 7% may have seemed unthinkable, at the current pace, we can expect rates to surpass that level in the next three months.”
So, is now the right time to buy a home? Anyone thinking about buying a home today should ask themselves two questions:
1. Where Do I Think Home Prices Are Heading?
There are two places to turn to answer this question. First is the consensus of what experts are saying. If you look at what experts are projecting for home prices in 2023, they’re forecasting home price appreciation around 2%. While it’s true some are calling for depreciation, most are calling for appreciation in home values over the next year.
The second spot to turn to for information is the Home Price Expectation Survey from Pulsenomics – a survey of a national panel of over one hundred economists, real estate experts, and investment and market strategists. According to the latest release, the experts surveyed are also calling for home price appreciation for the next several years (see graph below):
2. Where Do I Think Interest Rates Are Heading?
Like mentioned above, Ratiu sees mortgage rates rising over the next several months. Another expert agrees. Mark Fleming, Chief Economist at First American, says:
“While mortgage rates are expected to continue to drift higher over the coming months, much of the rapid increase in rates is likely behind us.”
The instability in the world and higher inflation are driving this volatile market, resulting in higher borrowing rates for those looking to buy homes.
If you’re thinking about buying a home, asking yourself about home prices and mortgage rates will help you make a powerful and confident decision. Experts see both prices and rates rising in the future. The alternative is to rent, but rents are also increasing. That may mean buying a home makes more sense than renting.
Today’s cooling housing market, the rise in mortgage rates, and mounting economic concerns have some people questioning: should I still buy a home this year? While it’s true this year has unique challenges for homebuyers, it’s important to factor the long-term benefits of homeownership into your decision.
Consider this: if you know people who bought a home 5, 10, or even 30 years ago, you’re probably going to have a hard time finding someone who regrets their decision. Why is that? The reason is tied to how you gain equity and wealth as home values grow with time.
The National Association of Realtors (NAR) explains:
“Home equity gains are built up through price appreciation and by paying off the mortgage through principal payments.”
Here’s a look at how just the home price appreciation piece can really add up over the years.
Home Price Growth Over Time
Even though home price appreciation has moderated this year, home values have still increased significantly in recent years. The map below uses data from the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) to show just how noteworthy those gains have been over the last five years.
If you look at the percent change in home prices, you can see home prices grew on average by almost 64% nationwide over that period.
That means a home’s value can increase substantially in a short time. And if you expand that time frame even more, the benefit of homeownership and the drastic gains you stand to make become even clearer (see map below):
The second map shows, nationwide, home prices appreciated by an average of over 290% over roughly a thirty-year span.
While home price growth varies by state and local area, the nationwide average tells you the typical homeowner who bought a house thirty years ago saw their home almost triple in value over that time. This is why homeowners who bought their homes years ago are still happy with their decision.
Even if home price appreciation eases as the market cools this year, experts say home prices are still expected to appreciate nationally in 2023. That means, in most markets, your home should grow in value over the next year even if the pace is slower than it was during the peak market frenzy when prices skyrocketed.
The alternative to buying a home is renting, and rental prices have been climbing for decades. So why rent and fight annual lease hikes for no long-term financial benefit? Instead, consider buying a home. It’s an investment in your future that could set you up for long-term gains.
Don’t let the shifting market delay your dreams. Data shows home values typically appreciate over time, and that gives your net worth a nice boost. If you’re ready to start your journey to homeownership, let’s connect today.
- If you’re trying to decide whether to rent or buy a home, consider the advantages homeownership offers.
- Buying a home can help you escape the cycle of rising rents, it’s a powerful wealth-building tool, and it’s typically considered a good hedge against inflation.
- If you’re ready to take advantage of the benefits of homeownership, let’s connect to explore your options.
Today’s market is at a turning point, making it more essential than ever to work with a real estate professional. Not only will a trusted real estate advisor keep you updated and help you make the best decisions based on current market trends, but they’re also experts in managing the many aspects of selling your house.
Here are five key reasons why working with a real estate professional makes sense today.
1. A Professional Follows the Latest Market Trends
With higher mortgage rates and moderating buyer demand, conditions are changing and staying on top of the latest market information is crucial when you sell.
Working with an expert real estate advisor helps ensure you can stay updated on what’s happening. They know your local area and follow national trends too. More importantly, they’ll know what this data means for you, and as the market shifts, they’ll be able to help you navigate it and make your best decision.
2. A Professional Helps Maximize Your Pool of Buyers
Your agent’s role in bringing in buyers is important. Real estate professionals have a large variety of tools at their disposal, such as social media followers, agency resources, and the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) to ensure your house is viewed by the most buyers. Investopedia explains why it’s risky to sell on your own without the network an agent provides:
“You don’t have relationships with clients, other agents, or a real estate agency to bring the largest pool of potential buyers to your home. A smaller pool of potential buyers means less demand for your property, which can translate into waiting longer to sell your home and possibly not getting as much money as your house is worth.”
3. A Professional Understands the Fine Print
Today, more disclosures and regulations are mandatory when selling a house. That means the number of legal documents you’ll need to juggle is growing. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) explains it best, saying:
“Selling a home typically requires a variety of forms, reports, disclosures, and other legal and financial documents. . . . Also, there’s a lot of jargon involved in a real estate transaction; you want to work with a professional who can speak the language.”
A real estate professional knows exactly what needs to happen, what all the fine print means, and how to work through it efficiently. They’ll help you review the documents and avoid any costly missteps that could occur if you try to handle them on your own.
4. A Professional Is a Trained Negotiator
If you sell without a professional, you’ll also be solely responsible for all the negotiations. That means you’ll have to coordinate with:
- The buyer, who wants the best deal possible
- The buyer’s agent, who will use their expertise to advocate for the buyer
- The inspection company, which works for the buyer and will almost always find concerns with the house
- The appraiser, who assesses the property’s value to protect the lender
In today’s changing market, buyers are regaining some negotiation power as bidding wars ease. Instead of going toe-to-toe with all the above parties alone, lean on an expert. They’ll know what levers to pull, how to address everyone’s concerns, and when you may want to get a second opinion.
5. A Professional Knows How To Set the Right Price for Your House
If you sell your house on your own, you may be more likely to overshoot your asking price. That could mean your house will sit on the market because you priced it too high for where the market is now. Today, pricing a house requires even more expertise to ensure you get it right. NAR explains it like this:
“A great real estate agent will look at your home with an unbiased eye, providing you with the information you need to enhance marketability and maximize price.”
Real estate professionals know the ins and outs of how to price your house accurately and competitively. To do so, they compare your house to recently sold homes in your area and factor in the current condition of your home. These steps are key to making sure it’s set to move quickly while still getting you the highest possible final sale price.
Whether it’s following local and national trends and guiding you through a shifting market or pricing your house right, a real estate agent has essential insights you’ll want to rely on throughout the transaction. Don’t go at it alone. If you plan to sell your house, let’s connect.
The real estate market is on just about everyone’s mind these days. That’s because the unsustainable market of the past two years is behind us, and the difference is being felt. The question now is, just how financially strong are homeowners throughout the country? Mortgage debt grew beyond 10 trillion dollars over the past year, and many called that a troubling sign when it happened for the first time in history.
Recently Odeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist at First American, answered that question when she said:
“U.S. households own $41 trillion in owner-occupied real estate, just over $12 trillion in debt, and the remaining ~$29 trillion in equity. The national “LTV” in Q2 2022 was 29.5%, the lowest since 1983.”
She continued on to say:
“Homeowners had an average of $320,000 in inflation-adjusted equity in their homes in Q2 2022, an all-time high.”
What Is LTV?
The term LTV refers to loan to value ratio. For more context, here’s how the Mortgage Reports defines it:
“Your ‘loan to value ratio’ (LTV) compares the size of your mortgage loan to the value of the home. For example: If your home is worth $200,000, and you have a mortgage for $180,000, your LTV ratio is 90% — because the loan makes up 90% of the total price.
You can also think about LTV in terms of your down payment. If you put 20% down, that means you’re borrowing 80% of the home’s value. So your LTV ratio is 80%.”
Why Is This Important?
This is yet another reason we won’t see the housing market crash. Home equity allows homeowners to be in control. For example, if someone did need to sell their home, they likely have the equity they need to be able to sell it and still put money in their pocket. This was not the case back in 2008, when many owed more on their homes than they were worth.
Homeowners today have more financial strength than they have had since 1983. This is a combination of how homeowners have handled equity since the crash and rising home prices of the last two years. And this is yet another reason homeownership in any market makes sense.
Some people believe there’s a group of homeowners who may be reluctant to sell their houses because they don’t want to lose the historically low mortgage rate they have on their current home. You may even have the same hesitation if you’re thinking about selling your house.
Data shows 51% of homeowners have a mortgage rate under 4% as of April this year. And while it’s true mortgage rates are higher than that right now, there are other non-financial factors to consider when it comes to making a move. In other words, your mortgage rate is important, but you may have other things going on in your life that make a move essential, regardless of where rates are today. As Jessica Lautz, Vice President of Demographics and Behavioral Insights at the National Association of Realtors (NAR), explains:
“Home sellers have historically moved when something in their lives changed – a new baby, a marriage, a divorce or a new job. . . .”
So, if you’re thinking about selling your house, it may help to explore the other reasons homeowners are choosing to make a move today. The 2022 Summer Sellers Survey by realtor.com asked recent home sellers why they decided to sell. The visual below breaks down how those homeowners responded:
As the visual shows, an appetite for different features or the fact that their current home could no longer meet their needs topped the list for recent sellers. Additionally, remote work and whether or not they need a home office or are tied to a specific physical office location also factored in, as did the desire to live close to their loved ones.
The realtor.com survey summarizes the findings like this:
“The primary reason homeowners decided to sell in the last year was the realization that, after so much time spent at home, they wanted different features and amenities, such as walkability, outdoor space, pool, etc. . . . ”
If you, like the homeowners they surveyed, find yourself wanting features, space, or amenities your current home just can’t provide, it may be time to consider listing your house for sale.
Even with today’s mortgage rates, your lifestyle needs may be enough to motivate you to make a change. The best way to find out what’s right for you is to partner with a trusted real estate professional who can provide expert guidance and advice throughout the process. They can help walk you through your options, so you can make a confident decision based on what matters most to you and your loved ones.
While the financial reasons for moving are important, there’s often far more to consider. Non-financial reasons can also be a significant motivating factor. If you need help weighing the pros and cons of selling your house, let’s connect today.