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Let’s kick off this month discussing some of the biggest topics in real estate today.

is the market going to crash? what about home prices? affordability?

Are we in a housing bubble?

This shows home values going all the way back to World War II. And if you think about that, the reason we go back to World War II is that was the start of the modern day housing boom here in this country. If you think about GIs coming back from the war and the GI Bill provided for education, provided for them to go out and buy a home. And ever since then, up until today, there’s been one time in this country where homes lost significant value and that was back in 2008. So back in 2008 we saw homes lose value really for two reasons. First reason, loose lending standards. You think back then, no income, no job, no verification and we know how that ended up. The second reason was cash out refinances. People took the equity they had, cashed it out, bought jet skis and went on vacation, the financed lifestyle. Did things thinking this will never end and it ended poorly. So let’s recap there. Apply for a loan that you don’t have to qualify for and then you take your equity and you cash it out and that’s what ended up in 2008 when homes lost value.   http://www.econ.yale.edu/~shiller/data.htm

Let’s take a look at home values going all the way back to World War II – the start of the modern day housing boom in the United States. Notice that 2008 was the only time homes lost significant value, and this is really for two reasons. First, loose lending standards – lack of income verification, lack of job verification, etc. Second, cash out refinances – people took the equity they had, cashed it out, and bought depreciating assets. In these times people were able to apply for a loan they didn’t qualify for, and then borrow against the equity.

First, the forbearance numbers continue to edge downward. As of the most recent numbers in April, 690,000 loans still in forbearance, well below where we started out of May of 2020.  https://www.blackknightinc.com/blog-posts/forbearance-plans-edge-higher/?

All that said, this market is different. First, the forbearance numbers continue to edge downward. As of last month, there are 690,000 loans still in forbearance – well below where we started out in May of 2020. According to Black Knight, 92% of the people that entered forbearance have come out of it.

One of the latest statistics that’s come out is 92% of the people that entered forbearance have come out of it, according to Black Knight. And those that have come out, as of March 31st, here’s the clearest picture. Thirty-seven percent in the green area were paid in full. Those are the ones that took forbearance maybe as an insurance policy and said I don’t know what’s going to happen and they didn’t need it. Forty-four point six, the blue shaded area, went through some kind of work out with their bank, either a modification, a rate and term refinance or a deferral. They tacked it on the back. Four out of five people either went through a modification or paid it off in full and there were no issues. That’s a very, very positive sign. Now, there are 18% that are still in some sort of trouble. We don’t know. They have no loss mitigation plans or they’re already into the loss mitigation plan.  https://www.mba.org/news-research-and-resources/newsroom

Thirty-seven percent were paid in full – those that likely took forbearance as an insurance policy and didn’t need it. Forty-four percent went through some kind of modification, refinance, or deferral – tacking it on the back end. So, 4 out of 5 people exited forbearance – a very positive sign. However, there are 18% that are still in jeopardy – they have no loss mitigation plan or are already into the loss mitigation plan. But let’s not forget that people have options today – you can sell your home with the appreciation we’ve seen over the last couple of years.

We have learned from history that prices can fall. The more important question is if it’s going to happen right now. And that’s hard to say.   Danielle Hale, Chief Economist, realtor.com
Lending standards are nothing like they were in the early 2000s. We talked about the things that people had done that caused the crisis. Well, there’s two components that this report by the urban institute outlined. First, is produce risk in the mortgage business and second is borrower risk. product risk. Think about that as the types of loans that are available to people. And that’s been virtually eliminated. If you start back in1999, we’re talking about all the way to 2021. product risk is not there. The loans that were available back then are not available today. borrower risk. Think about that as asset profile, credit score, all the thing that it takes to qualify for a loan and those have been severely curtailed. It’s gotten harder to qualify for a loan after the housing crisis. That’s when the qualified mortgage came out and demonstrate the ability to repay, all the things that we know about the mortgage business about how hard it’s gotten to qualify. This graphic tells the story of the differences today between back then.   https://www.urban.org/policy-centers/housing-finance-policy-center/projects/housing-credit-availability-index

Second, the lending default risk is lower. The Urban Institute looked at Default Risk in the Mortgage Market and that helps us see how lending standards are nothing like they were in the early 2000s. There is product risk and borrower risk. The loans that were available back then are not available today. When looking at the borrower risk, think about asset profiles, credit scores – all of those things needed to qualify for a loan – have been curtailed. It’s gotten harder to qualify for a loan. Now we have to demonstrate the ability to repay.

the foreclosure market is an all-time low. Now, the last couple of years certainly there’s been a moratorium in place and the federal government has stepped in and said, look, we’re not going to process these foreclosures during the pandemic. [00:07:03) And those are coming back and we’ve talked about that on the monthly market report. But back during the housing crisis, over nine million people went through foreclosure.   https://www.attomdata.com/news/market-trends/foreclosures/attom-q1-2022-u-s-foreclosure-market-report/ https://www.attomdata.com/news/market-trends/foreclosures/attom-year-end-2021-u-s-foreclosure-market-report/

Third, the foreclosure market is an all-time low – from a high of about 3 million homes in foreclosure to 78,000 last quarter.

Tighter lending standards have led to less foreclosures in the market. Now, that makes a lot of sense, right? If you have a highly qualified or a better qualified borrower, you’re going to see less defaults and we’re seeing exactly that. That certainly is not going to play into a crash. If you needed a further example of that, this is a look at the loans that have been given to people with a credit score less than 620. So, again, go back to the housing crisis. So many loans – this is in volume in billons of loans with a credit score less than 620. And where do we stand as the third quarter of 2021, the most recent information from the Federal Reserve, a fraction of where we were back then. So we can clearly say lending standards are different. That story is different. One of the major contributors back in 2008 is not around.   https://www.newyorkfed.org/medialibrary/interactives/householdcredit/data/xls/HHD_C_Report_2021Q3.xlsx

Fourth, lending standards are tighter which can be attributed to less foreclosures in the market. Qualified buyers mean less defaults. During the crisis we saw about 4 times the amount of loans approved for individuals with a credit score less than 620.

The other question though a lot of people bring up is well, as homes get expensive, as homes have risen, people aren’t going to be able to support that debt and that’s a challenge. Well, mortgage debt is not a challenge. Again, this is from the Federal Reserve. This is the household debt service ratio for mortgages and that’s as a percentage of disposal personal income.  https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/MDSP

Fifth, mortgage debt is not a challenge. According to the Federal Reserve, the household debt ratio is the lowest it has been since the 1970s. Why? Because of rising wages. Today, we are much better positioned than we were back in the financial crisis.

Finally, cash out refinances are extremely low. The difference in annual mortgage payments for cash out refinances was over $3,000 and $4,000 back during the housing crisis, while we hover around the $34 mark right now. There is very little change in the mortgage payment as somebody goes through a cash out refinance.

We learned a lot of lessons during the housing crash, and can see how the market dynamics are very different today. So, what is to come in the remainder of 2022? The Fed started off the month by raising the Fed funds rate. How will this affect home prices?

MBA: https://www.mba.org/docs/default-source/research-and-forecasts/forecasts/mortgage-finance-forecast-apr-2022.pdf NAR: https://cdn.nar.realtor/sites/default/files/documents/forecast-q2-2022-us-economic-outlook-04-27-2022.pdf Fannie Mae: https://www.fanniemae.com/media/43346/display Freddie Mac: https://www.freddiemac.com/research/forecast/20220418-quarterly-forecast-purchase-market-will-remain-solid-even-mortgage-rates-rise HPES: https://pulsenomics.com/surveys/#home-price-expectations CoreLogic: https://www.corelogic.com/intelligence/u-s-home-price-insights/            Zelman: https://www.zelmanassociates.com/

Looking at the most recent updated home price forecast from the top seven forecasters, we see 9% appreciation for 2022.

The most recent updated home price forecast from the seven forecasters that we watch, these are for 2022 prices, average of these forecasters is 9% appreciation. Many people are saying are homes going to lose value later in the year? Certainly not what experts are saying for this year. If you see these experts, they start to fall between 8 and 10%. We started off the year at about 5% appreciation and we’ve risen slowly each month since then. We said these forecasters had a bias to the upside, meaning they were raising their forecast and we’re certainly seeing that today.   https://pulsenomics.com/surveys/#home-price-expectations

Beyond 2022, we will see a much more normal rate of appreciation like the pre-pandemic rate of 3.8%.

What the home price expectation survey does as well is they look at cumulative house of price appreciation by 2026. If we look at these, they sort of rank them by the optimist, the pessimist, and then the average of all panelists in the middle. Optimists say 46.5% appreciation. Pessimists, 10% appreciation. All the panelists, 26% appreciation by 2026. So, depending on where you sit, I think even if you’re a pessimist in this market, they’re calling for appreciation here between now and 2026.   https://pulsenomics.com/surveys/#home-price-expectations

The home price expectation survey forecasts 26% cumulative home price appreciation by 2026.

... the 30-year fixed mortgage will likely peak at between 5.0% and 5.7%. There is some variability in the relationship, so we might see rates as high as the low 6% range.  Bill McBride, Author, Calculated Risk

As buyers search for homes, we’ve seen interest rates in the first four months of this year rise dramatically. We started the year about 3.1%, and now we’re just over 5.25% on the average 30 year fixed.

New data from the Harris Poll show 84% of Americans plan to cut back spending as a result of price spikes… More than 70% of respondents said they’re feeling the effects of inflation the most in gas prices and groceries.   Bloomberg

Prices are rising all around us, and that is affecting affordability.

Looking at the change in mortgage payment going back to January of 2021. This is based on a loan amount of $300,000 principle and interest only. But if you look at January of 2021, mortgage rates were at historic lows. A typical mortgage payment was about $1,200, a little north of that. Fast-forward to where we are today in this rising mortgage rate environment, and things are different. If we think about where mortgage rates are projected to go and let’s say mortgage rates later this year are around 5.5% as we look at what the experts are saying and what’s projected to happen, that mortgage payment jumps up to over $1,700. if you’re talking about $1,200 to $1,700, that’s roughly a $500 difference.   https://www.freddiemac.com/pmms https://www.mortgagecalculator.net/

Consider a loan amount of $300,000 (principle and interest only). In January 2021, your monthly payment would have been about $1,200. Fast forward to today’s rates, and you are looking at about $1,650 a month for the same home. Projections have this payment increasing by about $500 within the next few months.

The Housing Affordability Index. It goes all the way back to 1990. And if you follow along with us, you’ve definitely seen this before, but really had to break this down and look at it. Is that the higher the bar, the more affordable homes are. If you look at where we are over on the right today at 135.4, that’s the index that NAR is measuring here. Homes are not as affordable as they were over the past 10 or 12 years, and certainly not as affordable as they were in those orange bars, which was the housing crisis. That’s when distressed properties dominated the market. Homes are being sold at a massive discount. We’re certainly not there but as we’ve seen prices rise, mortgage rates rise, homes are not as affordable as they were even over the past couple of years. It’s important to remember that affordability is really a measure of three key things. We mentioned prices and mortgage rates, but it’s also wages. Right now, all three of those things are ticking up but historically, over the past couple of years, mortgage rates have kind of offset some of the rising prices. Well, we’re not sitting in that seat anymore so people are feeling affordability challenges.   https://www.nar.realtor/blogs/economists-outlook/ https://www.nar.realtor/blogs/economists-outlook/housing-affordability-declines-in-february

The Housing Affordability Index shows that homes are more affordable than any time leading up to the housing crisis. So, when people say homes aren’t affordable anymore, we have to ask, “As compared to when?”

Buying your first home is a major decision and an exciting milestone. Even though it can feel daunting at times, it has the power to change your life for the better. If you’re looking to purchase your first home, you may be wondering what’s happening in the housing market today, how much you need to save, and where to start.

Here are three things that can help give you the information you need to confidently pursue your dream of homeownership.

1. Consider All Options When the Number of Homes for Sale Is Low

Today, there are far more buyers in the market than there are homes available for sale. When that happens, it’s a good idea to do what you can to increase your pool of options. That could mean expanding your search to include additional housing types. For first-time buyers, considering condominiums (condos) and townhomes can be an excellent way to increase your choices. According to Bankrate:

“Townhomes often cost less than single-family homes of a similar size in the same location.”

In another article, Bankrate also says:

“Buying a condo can be a great way to dive into homeownership without worrying about the upkeep that comes with single-family homes and townhouses.”

Condos and townhomes are both great entryways into homeownership. When you buy either one, you can start building equity which increases your net worth and can fuel a future move.

2. Know Your Down Payment Could Be More Within Reach Than You Think

Saving for a down payment can feel like one of the biggest obstacles for homebuyers, but that doesn’t have to be the case. As the National Association of Realtors (NAR) says:

One of the biggest misconceptions among housing consumers is what the typical down payment is and what amount is needed to enter homeownership.”

Data from NAR shows the median down payment hasn’t been over 20% since 2005. The graph below breaks down the median down payment by age group for recent homebuyers according to the 2022 Home Buyers and Sellers Generational Trends Report from NAR (see graph below):

Three Tips for First-Time Homebuyers | MyKCM

Based on the data above, the median down payment for all homebuyers is only 13%. That’s well below the common misconception of 20%, and it’s even lower for younger buyers. This could mean you may not need to save as much for a down payment as you initially thought.

There are also down payment assistance programs available for many buyers. Not to mention, some loan options require as little as 3.5% (or even 0%) down for buyers who qualify. While there are advantages to putting 20% down, especially in today’s competitive market, know that you have options.  To get more information on how much you may need to save and the help that’s available, talk with a professional.

3. Work with a Trusted Real Estate Advisor Throughout the Process

Finally, no matter where you’re at in your homeownership journey, the best way to make sure you’re set up for success is to work with a real estate professional.

If you’re just starting out, they can help you with the initial steps, like educating you on the process and connecting you with a trusted lender to get pre-approved. Once you’re ready to begin your search, a real estate professional can help you understand your local market and search for available homes. And when it’s time to make an offer, they’ll be an expert advisor and negotiator to help your offer stand out above the rest.

Bottom Line

Knowledge is key to succeeding on your homebuying journey. Knowing market trends, what you need for a down payment, and what options you have as a buyer today can give you the confidence you need to buy a home.

With a limited number of homes for sale today and so many buyers looking to make a purchase before mortgage rates rise further, bidding wars are common. According to the latest report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), nationwide, homes are getting an average of 4.8 offers per sale. Here’s a look at how that breaks down state-by-state (see map below):

Things That Could Help You Win a Bidding War on a Home | MyKCM

The same report from NAR shows the average buyer made two offers before getting their third offer accepted. In this type of competitive housing market, it’s important to know what levers you can pull to help you beat the competition. While a real estate professional is your ultimate guide to presenting a strong offer, here are a few things you could consider.

Offering over Asking Price

When you think of sweetening the deal for sellers, the first thought you likely have is around the price of the home. In today’s housing market, it’s true more homes are selling for over asking price because there are more buyers than there are homes for sale. You just want to make sure your offer is still within your budget and realistic for the market value in your area – that’s where a local real estate professional can help you through the process. Bankrate says:

Simply put, being willing to pay more money than other buyers is one of the best ways to get your offer accepted. You may not have to increase it by a lot — it’ll depend on the area and other factors — so look to your real estate agent for guidance.”

Putting Down a Bigger Earnest Money Deposit

You could also consider putting down a larger deposit up front. An earnest money deposit is a check you write to go along with your offer. If your offer is accepted, this deposit is credited toward your home purchase. NerdWallet explains how it works:

A typical earnest money deposit is 1% to 2% of the home’s purchase price, but the amount varies by location. A higher earnest money deposit may catch a seller’s attention in a hot housing market.”

That’s because it shows the seller you’re seriously interested in their house and have already set aside money that you’re ready to put toward the purchase. Talk to a professional to see if this is something you can do in your area. 

Making a Higher Down Payment 

Another option is increasing how much of a down payment you’re going to make. The benefit of a higher down payment is you won’t have to finance as much. This helps the seller feel like there’s less risk of the deal or the financing falling through. And if other buyers put less down, it could be what helps your offer stand out from the crowd.

Non-Financial Options To Make a Strong Offer

Realtor.com points out that while increasing these financial portions of the deal can help, they’re not your only options:

. . . Price is not the only factor sellers weigh when they look at offers. The buyer’s terms and contingencies are also taken into account, as well as pre-approval letters, appraisal requirements, and the closing time the buyer is asking for.”

When it’s time to make an offer, partner with a trusted professional. They have insight into what sellers are looking for in your local market and can give you expert advice on what levers you may or may not want to pull when it’s time to write an offer.

From a non-financial perspective, this can include things like flexible move-in dates or minimal contingencies (conditions you set that the seller must meet for the purchase to be finalized). For example, you could make an offer that’s not contingent on the sale of your current home. Just remember, there are certain contingencies you don’t want to forego, like your home inspection. Ultimately, the options you have can vary state-to-state, so it’s best to lean on an expert real estate professional for guidance.

Bottom Line

In today’s hot housing market, you need a partner who can serve as your guide, especially when it comes to making a strong offer.

If you’re following along with the news today, you’ve likely heard about rising inflation. You’re also likely feeling the impact in your day-to-day life as prices go up for gas, groceries, and more. These rising consumer costs can put a pinch on your wallet and make you re-evaluate any big purchases you have planned to ensure they’re still worthwhile.

If you’ve been thinking about purchasing a home this year, you’re probably wondering if you should continue down that path or if it makes more sense to wait. While the answer depends on your situation, here’s how homeownership can help you combat the rising costs that come with inflation.

Homeownership Offers Stability and Security

Investopedia explains that during a period of high inflation, prices rise across the board. That’s true for things like food, entertainment, and other goods and services, even housing. Both rental prices and home prices are on the rise. So, as a buyer, how can you protect yourself from increasing costs? The answer lies in homeownership.

Buying a home allows you to stabilize what’s typically your biggest monthly expense: your housing cost. If you get a fixed-rate mortgage on your home, you lock in your monthly payment for the duration of your loan, often 15 to 30 years. James Royal, Senior Wealth Management Reporter at Bankrate, says:

A fixed-rate mortgage allows you to maintain the biggest portion of housing expenses at the same payment. Sure, property taxes will rise and other expenses may creep up, but your monthly housing payment remains the same.” 

So even if other prices rise, your housing payment will be a reliable amount that can help keep your budget in check. If you rent, you don’t have that same benefit, and you won’t be protected from rising housing costs.

Use Home Price Appreciation to Your Benefit

While it’s true rising mortgage rates and home prices mean buying a house today costs more than it did a year ago, you still have an opportunity to set yourself up for a long-term win. Buying now lets you lock in at today’s rates and prices before both climb higher.

In inflationary times, it’s especially important to invest your money in an asset that traditionally holds or grows in value. The graph below shows how home price appreciation outperformed inflation in most decades going all the way back to the seventies – making homeownership a historically strong hedge against inflation (see graph below):

How Homeownership Can Help Shield You from Inflation | MyKCM

So, what does that mean for you? Today, experts say home prices will only go up from here thanks to the ongoing imbalance in supply and demand. Once you buy a house, any home price appreciation that does occur will be good for your equity and your net worth. And since homes are typically assets that grow in value (even in inflationary times), you have peace of mind that history shows your investment is a strong one.

Bottom Line

If you’re ready to buy a home, it may make sense to move forward with your plans despite rising inflation.

If you’re planning to buy a home this season, you’re probably thinking about what you’ll need to do to get your offer accepted. In previous years, it was common for buyers to try and determine how much less than the asking price they could offer to still get the home. The buyer and seller would then negotiate and typically agree on a revised price that was somewhere between the buyer’s bid and the home’s initial asking price.

In today’s real estate market, buyers shouldn’t shop for a home with the same expectations.

Things Are Different Today

Today’s housing market is anything but normal. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the average home that’s sold today:

Homes selling quickly and receiving multiple offers shows how competitive the housing market is for buyers right now. This is because there are more buyers on the market than homes for sale. When the number of homes available can’t keep up with demand, homes often sell for more than the asking price.

How Does This Impact You When It’s Time To Submit an Offer?

Market conditions should help guide your decisions throughout the process. Today, the asking price of a home is often the floor of the negotiation rather than the ceiling. Knowing this is important when it’s time to submit an offer, but you should also use that information as you’re searching for homes too. After all, you don’t want to fall in love with a home that ultimately sells for a price higher than what you’ve budgeted for.

The Mortgage Reports has advice if you’re looking to purchase a home in a competitive market. The article encourages you to be realistic with your housing search, saying:

The best thing to do is set your budget and expectations ahead of time so you know how much you can afford to offer — and when to walk away. This will make negotiations a lot easier.”

Of course, when you’ve found your dream home, you’ll want to do everything you can to submit your best offer up front and win a potential bidding war. Knowing the current market is key to crafting a winning offer. That’s where working with an expert real estate advisor becomes critical.

A real estate professional will draw from their experience and expert-level knowledge of today’s housing market throughout the process. They’ll also balance conditions in your area to make sure your offer stands out above the rest.

Bottom Line

Understanding how to approach the asking price of a home and what’s happening in today’s real estate market are critical for buyers.

Homeownership has become a major element in achieving the American Dream. A recent report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) finds that over 86% of buyers agree homeownership is still the American Dream.

Prior to the 1950s, less than half of the country owned their own home. However, after World War II, many returning veterans used the benefits afforded by the GI Bill to purchase a home. Since then, the percentage of homeowners throughout the country has increased to the current rate of 65.5%. That strong desire for homeownership has kept home values appreciating ever since. The graph below tracks home price appreciation since the end of World War II:

Why This Housing Market Is Not a Bubble Ready To Pop | MyKCM

The graph shows the only time home values dropped significantly was during the housing boom and bust of 2006-2008. If you look at how prices spiked prior to 2006, it looks a bit like the current spike in prices over the past two years. That may lead some people to be concerned we’re about to see a similar fall in home values as we did when the bubble burst. To help alleviate those worries, let’s look at what happened last time and what’s happening today.

What Caused the Housing Crash 15 Years Ago?

Back in 2006, foreclosures flooded the market. That drove down home values dramatically. The two main reasons for the flood of foreclosures were:

1. Many purchasers were not truly qualified for the mortgage they obtained, which led to more homes turning into foreclosures.
2. A number of homeowners cashed in the equity on their homes. When prices dropped, they found themselves in an underwater situation (where the home was worth less than the mortgage on the house). Many of these homeowners walked away from their homes, leading to more foreclosures. This lowered neighboring home values even more.

This cycle continued for years.

Why Today’s Real Estate Market Is Different

Here are two reasons today’s market is nothing like the one we experienced 15 years ago.

1. Today, Demand for Homeownership Is Real (Not Artificially Generated)

Running up to 2006, banks were creating artificial demand by lowering lending standards and making it easy for just about anyone to qualify for a home loan or refinance their current home. Today, purchasers and those refinancing a home face much higher standards from mortgage companies.

Data from the Urban Institute shows the amount of risk banks were willing to take on then as compared to now.

Why This Housing Market Is Not a Bubble Ready To Pop | MyKCM

There’s always risk when a bank loans money. However, leading up to the housing crash 15 years ago, lending institutions took on much greater risks in both the person and the mortgage product offered. That led to mass defaults, foreclosures, and falling prices.

Today, the demand for homeownership is real. It’s generated by a re-evaluation of the importance of home due to a worldwide pandemic. Additionally, lending standards are much stricter in the current lending environment. Purchasers can afford the mortgage they’re taking on, so there’s little concern about possible defaults.

And if you’re worried about the number of people still in forbearance, you should know there’s no risk of that causing an upheaval in the housing market today. There won’t be a flood of foreclosures.

2. People Are Not Using Their Homes as ATMs Like They Did in the Early 2000s

As mentioned above, when prices were rapidly escalating in the early 2000s, many thought it would never end. They started to borrow against the equity in their homes to finance new cars, boats, and vacations. When prices started to fall, many of these homeowners were underwater, leading some to abandon their homes. This increased the number of foreclosures.

Homeowners didn’t forget the lessons of the crash as prices skyrocketed over the last few years. Black Knight reports that tappable equity (the amount of equity available for homeowners to access before hitting a maximum 80% loan-to-value ratio, or LTV) has more than doubled compared to 2006 ($4.6 trillion to $9.9 trillion).

The latest Homeowner Equity Insights report from CoreLogic reveals that the average homeowner gained $55,300 in home equity over the past year alone. Odeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist at First Americanreports:

“Homeowners in Q4 2021 had an average of $307,000 in equity – a historic high.”

ATTOM Data Services also reveals that 41.9% of all mortgaged homes have at least 50% equity. These homeowners will not face an underwater situation even if prices dip slightly. Today, homeowners are much more cautious.

Bottom Line

The major reason for the housing crash 15 years ago was a tsunami of foreclosures. With much stricter mortgage standards and a historic level of homeowner equity, the fear of massive foreclosures impacting today’s market is not realistic.

In the last few weeks, the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate from Freddie Mac inched up to 5%. While that news may have you questioning the timing of your home search, the truth is, timing has never been more important. Even though you may be tempted to put your plans on hold in hopes that rates will fall, waiting will only cost you more. Mortgage rates are forecast to continue rising in the year ahead.

If you’re thinking of buying a home, here are a few things to keep in mind so you can succeed even as mortgage rates rise.

How Rising Mortgage Rates Impact You

Mortgage rates play a significant role in your home search. As rates go up, they impact how much you’ll pay in your monthly mortgage payment, which directly affects how much you can comfortably afford. Here’s an example of how even a quarter-point increase can have a big impact on your monthly payment (see chart below):

How To Approach Rising Mortgage Rates as a Buyer | MyKCM

With mortgage rates on the rise, you’ve likely seen your purchasing power impacted already. Instead of delaying your plans, today’s rates should motivate you to purchase now before rates increase more. Use that motivation to energize your search and plan your next steps accordingly.

The best way to prepare is to work with a trusted real estate advisor now. An agent can connect you with a trusted lender, help you adjust your search based on your budget, and make sure you’re ready to act quickly when it’s time to make an offer.

Bottom Line

Serious buyers should approach rising rates as a motivating factor to buy sooner, not a reason to wait. Waiting will cost you more in the long run.

Being intentional and competitive are musts when buying a home this season. That’s why pre-approval is so important today. Pre-approval from a lender is the only way to know your true price range and how much money you can borrow for your loan. Peter Warden, Editor of The Mortgage Reportsexplains:

“The lender will check out your personal finances and issue you a letter confirming the amount you’re eligible to borrow. This not only gives you a firm budget for house hunting, but also lets sellers know you’re qualified to make an offer.”

Why does that matter so much today? There are many more buyers looking for homes today than there are homes available for sale, and that’s creating some serious competition. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the average home is getting 4.8 offers per sale. As a result, bidding wars are still common.

Your pre-approval gives you a leg up in these situations. That’s because you know exactly what you’re approved to borrow before you write your offer, and it lets the seller know you’re qualified to buy their home. This helps both you and the seller feel confident in what you’re bringing to the table. And that puts you in a better position to potentially win a bidding war.

As Warden puts it:

“There’s another important reason to get preapproved, too. And that’s because there are way more buyers than homes in today’s market — which means you need to be ultra-prepared if you want to win a bidding war. Most sellers are getting multiple offers right now. And most won’t even entertain an offer without a preapproval letter included.”

Every advantage you can gain as a buyer is crucial in a market that’s constantly changing. Mortgage rates are rising, home prices are going up, and lending institutions are regularly updating their standards. You’re going to need guidance to navigate these waters, so it’s important to have a team of professionals, such as a loan officer and a trusted real estate advisor, on your side. They’ll help make sure you’re ready to put your best foot forward.

Bottom Line

Getting pre-approved for a mortgage helps you better understand what you can afford and signals to sellers you’re serious about purchasing their home.

If you’re buying or selling a home this year, you’re likely saving up for a variety of expenses. For buyers, that might include things like your down payment and closing costs. And for sellers, you’re probably working on a bit of spring cleaning and maintenance to spruce up your house before you list it.

Either way, any money you get back from your taxes can help you achieve your goals. Using a tax refund is a common tactic for buyers and sellers. SmartAsset estimates the average American will receive a $2,897 tax refund this year. The map below provides a more detailed estimate by state:

Using Your Tax Refund To Achieve Your Homeownership Goals This Year | MyKCM

If you’re getting a refund this year, here are a few tips to help with your home purchase or sale this season.

How Buyers Can Use Their Tax Refund

According to American Financing, there are multiple ways your refund check can help you as a homebuyer. A few include:

This list is a great start, but it isn’t exhaustive of all the costs you may encounter as you set out on your homebuying journey. The best way to prepare is to work with a trusted real estate professional to make sure you understand what’s to come in the process.

How Sellers Can Use Their Tax Refund

If you own a home and are planning to sell this spring, your tax refund can help you make sure your home is ready to list. Here are a few ways current homeowners can put their tax refund to good use:

Of course, it’s important to talk with your trusted real estate advisor before taking on any projects. They’ll make sure you can focus on areas that’ll help you receive the best possible price when you sell.

Bottom Line

Funding your home purchase or sale can feel like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. Your tax refund can help you reach your goals.

Many consumers are wondering what will happen with home values over the next few years. Some are concerned that the recent run-up in home prices will lead to a situation similar to the housing crash 15 years ago.

However, experts say the market is totally different today. For example, Odeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist at First American, tweeted just last week on this issue:

“. . . We do need price appreciation to slow today (it’s not sustainable over the long run) but high price growth today is supported by fundamentals- short supply, lower rates & demographic demand. And we are in a much different & safer space: better credit quality, low DTI [Debt-To-Income] & tons of equity. Hence, a crash in prices is very unlikely.”

Price appreciation will slow from the double-digit levels the market has seen over the last two years. However, experts believe home values will not depreciate (where a home would lose value).

To this point, Pulsenomics just released the latest Home Price Expectation Survey – a survey of a national panel of over 100 economists, real estate experts, and investment and market strategists. It forecasts home prices will continue appreciating over the next five years. Below are the expected year-over-year rates of home price appreciation based on the average of all 100+ projections:

Those responding to the survey believe home price appreciation will still be relatively high this year (though half of what it was last year), and then return to more normal levels over the next four years.

What Does This Mean for You as a Buyer?

With a limited supply of homes available for sale and both prices and mortgage rates increasing, it can be a challenging market to navigate as a buyer. But buying a home sooner rather than later does have its benefits. If you wait to buy, you’ll pay more in the future. However, if you buy now, you’ll actually be in the position to make future price increases work for you. Once you buy, those rising home prices will help you build your home’s value, and by extension, your own household wealth through home equity.

As an example, let’s assume you purchased a $360,000 home in January of this year (the median price according to the National Association of Realtors rounded up to the nearest $10K). If you factor in the forecast for appreciation from the Home Price Expectation Survey, you could accumulate over $96,000 in household wealth over the next five years (see graph below):

The Future of Home Price Appreciation and What It Means for You | MyKCM

Bottom Line

If you’re trying to decide whether to buy now or wait, the key is knowing what’s expected to happen with home prices. Experts say prices will continue to climb in the years ahead, just at a slower pace. So, if you’re ready to buy, doing so now may be your best bet for your wallet. It’ll also give you the chance to use the future home price appreciation to build your own net worth through rising equity.

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