- VA Loans can help make homeownership possible for those who have served our country.
- These loans offer great benefits for eligible individuals and can help them buy a VA-approved house or condo, build a new home, or make improvements to their house.
- Homeownership is the American Dream. One way we can honor and thank our veterans is to ensure they have the best information about the benefits of VA home loans.
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.
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 questioning whether or not to buy a home this year due to today’s cooling market, consider the long-term financial benefits of homeownership.
- As a homeowner, equity increases your wealth. On average, nationwide, home prices appreciated by 290.2% since 1991.
- Homeownership wins in the long run. If you’re ready to buy a home, let’s connect today.
If you’re planning to buy a home, knowing what to budget for and how to save may sound scary at first. But it doesn’t have to be. One way to take the fear out of budgeting is understanding some of the costs you might encounter. And to do that, turn to trusted real estate professionals. They can help you plan your finances and prepare your budget.
Here are just a few costs experts say you can expect.
1. Down Payment
Saving for your down payment is likely top of mind as you set out to buy a home. But do you know how much you’ll need to save? While each situation is different, there’s a common misconception that putting 20% down toward your purchase is required. An article from the Mortgage Reports explains why that’s not always the case:
“The idea that you have to put 20% down on a house is a myth. . . . The right amount depends on your current savings and your home buying goals.”
To understand your options, partner with a trusted real estate professional to go over the various loan types, down payment assistance programs, and what each one requires.
2. Closing Costs
“Closing costs are the fees you pay when finalizing a real estate transaction, whether you’re refinancing a mortgage or buying a new home. These costs can amount to 2 to 5 percent of the mortgage so it’s important to be financially prepared for this expense.”
The best way to understand what you’ll need at the closing table is to work with a trusted lender. They can provide you with answers to the questions you might have.
3. Earnest Money Deposit
If you want to cover all your bases, you can also consider saving for an earnest money deposit (EMD). An EMD is money you pay as a show of good faith when you make an offer on a house. According to realtor.com, it’s usually between 1% and 2% of the total home price.
This deposit works like a credit. It’s not an added expense – it’s paying a portion of your costs upfront. You’re using some of the money you already saved for your purchase to show the seller you’re committed and serious about their house. Realtor.com describes how it works as part of your sale:
“It tells the real estate seller you’re in earnest as a buyer, . . . . Assuming that all goes well and the buyer’s good-faith offer is accepted by the seller, the earnest money funds go toward the down payment and closing costs. In effect, earnest money is just paying more of the down payment and closing costs upfront.”
Keep in mind, an EMD isn’t required, and it doesn’t guarantee your offer will be accepted. It’s important to work with a real estate advisor to understand what’s best for your situation and any specific requirements in your area. They’ll help you determine what moves you should make in the homebuying process to have the greatest success.
Budgeting for your home purchase doesn’t have to be scary. Let’s connect so you’ll have an expert on your side to answer any questions you have along the way.
Over the past two years, the substantial imbalance of low housing supply and high buyer demand pushed home sales and buyer competition to new heights. But this year, things are shifting as supply and demand reach an inflection point.
The graph below helps tell the story of just how different things are today.
This year, buyer demand has eased as higher mortgage rates and mounting economic uncertainty moderated the market. This slowdown in demand is clear when you look at the red bar on the graph. It uses the latest data from ShowingTime to illustrate how showings (an indicator of buyer demand) have softened by just over 12% compared to the same time last year.
Now for a look at how housing supply has changed, turn to the green bar. It uses data from realtor.com to show active listings are up nearly 27% compared to last year. That’s because the moderation of demand allowed housing inventory to increase in 2022.
What Does This Inflection Point Mean for Buyers?
If you’re thinking of buying a home, you’ll have less competition and more options than you would have had last year. Enjoy having more homes to choose from in your home search and lean on a trusted real estate professional to understand how the increase in supply has also increased your negotiation power. That professional can talk you through the opportunities and challenges buyers face in today’s shifting market. You may be surprised to find they’re different than they were a year ago.
What Does This Inflection Point Mean for Sellers?
If you’re looking to sell your house, know that inventory is still low overall. That means, if you work with an agent to price your house based on current market value, it will still sell despite the inventory gains and moderating buyer demand this year. That’s because there are still buyers out there who want to move, and your house may be exactly what they’re looking for.
If you’re thinking of buying or selling a home, the best place to turn to for information on today’s supply and demand is a trusted real estate professional. Let’s connect so you know what’s happening in our local market and what that means for you.
- If you’re trying to buy your first home in today’s housing market, you’ll want to know what you can do as mortgage rates rise and inventory stays low overall.
- Connect with a lender to get pre-approved, prioritize your wish list, consider condos, and expand your search radius.
- Your first home is out there. Let’s connect to explore your options and what other first-time buyers are doing to find their homes.
As you set out to buy a home, saving for a down payment is likely top of mind. But you may still have questions about the process, including how much to save and where to start.
If that sounds like you, your down payment could be more in reach than you originally thought. Here’s why.
The 20% Down Payment Myth
If you believe you have to put 20% down on a home, you may have based your goal on a common misconception. Freddie Mac explains:
“. . . nearly a third of prospective homebuyers think they need a down payment of 20% or more to buy a home. This myth remains one of the largest perceived barriers to achieving homeownership.”
Unless it’s specified by your loan type or lender, it’s typically not required to put 20% down. According to the latest Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the median down payment hasn’t been over 20% since 2005. There are even loan types, like FHA loans, with down payments as low as 3.5%, as well as options like VA loans and USDA loans with no down payment requirements for qualified applicants.
This is good news for you because it means you could be closer to your homebuying dream than you realize. For more information, turn to a trusted lender.
Down Payment Assistance Programs Can Be a Game Changer
A professional will be able to show you other options that could help you get closer to your down payment goal. According to latest Homeownership Program Index from downpaymentresource.com, there are over 2,000 homebuyer assistance programs in the U.S., and the majority are intended to help with down payments.
A recent article explains why programs like these are helpful:
“These resources can immediately build your home buying power and help you take action sooner than you thought possible.”
“It is a common misconception that homebuyer assistance is only available to first-time homebuyers, however, 38% of homebuyer assistance programs in Q1 2022 did not have a first-time homebuyer requirement.”
There are also location and profession-based programs you could qualify for as well.
Saving for your down payment is an important first step on your homebuying journey. Let’s connect today and make sure you have a trusted lender to help explore your options.
- 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.
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.