- Mortgage interest rates have dropped considerably this spring and are hovering at a historically low level.
- Locking in at a low rate today could save you thousands of dollars over the lifetime of your home loan.
- Let’s connect to determine the best way to position yourself for a move in today’s market.
Through all the volatility in the economy right now, some have put their search for a home on hold, yet others have not. According to ShowingTime, the real estate industry’s leading showing management technology provider, buyers have started to reappear over the last several weeks. In the latest report, they revealed:
“The March ShowingTime Showing Index® recorded the first nationwide drop in showing traffic in eight months as communities responded to COVID-19. Early April data show signs of an upswing, however.”
Why would people be setting appointments to look at prospective homes when the process of purchasing a home has become more difficult with shelter-in-place orders throughout the country?
Here are three reasons for this uptick in activity:
1. Some people need to move. Whether because of a death in the family, a new birth, divorce, financial hardship, or a job transfer, some families need to make a move as quickly as possible.
2. Real estate agents across the country have become very innovative, utilizing technology that allows purchasers to virtually:
- View homes
- Meet with mortgage professionals
- Consult with their agent throughout the process
All of this can happen within the required safety protocols, so real estate professionals are continuing to help families make important moves.
3. Buyers understand that mortgage rates are a key component when determining their monthly mortgage payments. Mortgage interest rates are very close to all-time lows and afford today’s purchaser the opportunity to save tens of thousands of dollars over the lifetime of the loan.
Many families have decided not to postpone their plans to purchase a home, even in these difficult times. If you need to make a move, let’s connect today so you have a trusted advisor to safely and professionally guide you through the process.
- Believe it or not, there are lots of things you can do to prep your house for a sale without even going to the store.
- Your real estate plans don’t have to be completely on hold even while we’ve hit the pause button on other parts of daily life.
- Tackling small projects from cleaning the corners you may normally skip to tidying up your yard are easy and necessary wins if you’re thinking of listing your house and making a move.
For years, we’ve all heard about the most desirable home features buyers are looking for, from upgraded kitchens to remodeled bathrooms, master suites, and more. The latest on the hotlist, however, might surprise you: home offices.
In a recent article by George Ratiu, Senior Economist with realtor.com, he notes how listings with an office are selling quickly:
“As more companies have been embracing remote work, buyers are driving demand for houses with home offices higher. Homes featuring the term ‘office’ are selling 9 days faster than the overall housing inventory.”
Today, more and more people are working remotely, and that’s not just because the current pandemic is prompting businesses to operate virtually. According to the same piece and the most recent data available, the number of employees working at home was fairly steady from 1997 – 2004 but has been climbing ever since (see graph below):Clearly, the work-from-home population is growing, and technology is making it possible. Just last month, according to an article on Think Google, searches for telecommuting hit an all-time high, and that’s certainly no surprise given our current situation.
People all over the U.S. are looking for answers on how to be most effective at home, and it’s making the ideal workspace more and more desirable. In fact, best practices from seasoned work-from-home professionals, like Chris Anderson, Senior Account Executive at HousingWire, tout that having a dedicated space is a must for productivity.
With today’s increasing demand for home offices, it’s a great feature to highlight within your listing if you’re selling a house that may meet this growing need. From bright natural light with large windows to built-in bookshelves or a quiet and secluded atmosphere, whatever makes your office space shine is worth mentioning to buyers when you’re ready to list your house.
“For housing, the continued increase in the share of remote workers implies that demand for homes with offices or dedicated work spaces will continue to increase. The current coronavirus pandemic offers a dramatic indication of the fact that companies and employees will have to develop plans and clearer policies for remote work beyond the current crisis.”
Remote work may become more widely accepted as this current crisis teaches businesses throughout the country what it takes to function virtually. So, what seems like a business challenge today may be more of the norm tomorrow. With that in mind, if you have a home office, your house may be more desirable to buyers than you think.
Today’s everyday reality is pretty different than it looked just a few weeks ago. We’re learning how to do a lot of things in new ways, from how we work remotely to how we engage with our friends and neighbors. Almost everything right now is shifting to a virtual format. One of the big changes we’re adapting to is the revisions to the common real estate transaction, which all vary by state and locality. Technology, however, is making it possible for many of us to continue on the quest for homeownership, an essential need for all.
Here’s a look at some of the elements of the process that are changing (at least in the near-term), due to stay-at-home orders and social distancing, and what you may need to know about each one if you’re thinking of buying or selling a home sooner rather than later.
1. Virtual Consultations – Instead of heading into an office, you can meet with real estate and lending professionals through video chat. Whether it’s your first initial needs analysis as a buyer or your listing appointment as a seller, you can still get the process started remotely and create a plan together. Your trusted advisor is still on your side.
2. Home Searches & Virtual Showings – According to theNational Association of Realtors (NAR), the Internet is one of the three most popular information sources buyers use when searching for homes. Your real estate agent can send you listing information and help you request a virtual showing when you’re ready to start looking. This means you can virtually walk through the homes on your wish list while keeping your family safe. As a seller, you can still have virtual open houses and virtual tours too, so as not to miss those buyers looking to find a home right now.
3. Document Signing – Although this is another area that varies by state, today more portions of the transaction are being done digitally. In many areas, your agent or loan officer can set up an account where you can upload all of the required documents and sign electronically right from your computer.
4. Sending Money – Whether you need to pay for an appraisal or submit closing costs, there are options available. Depending on the transaction and local regulations, you may be able to pay by credit card, and most banks will also allow you to wire funds from your account. Sometimes you can send a check by mail, and in some states, a mobile escrow agent will pick up a check from your home.
5. Closing Process – Again, depending on your area, a mobile notary may be able to bring the required documents to your home before the closing. If your state requires an attorney to be present, check with your legal counsel to see what options are available. Also, depending on the title company, some are allowing drive-thru closings, which is similar to doing a transaction at a bank window.
Although these virtual processes are starting to become more widely accepted, it does not mean that this is the way things are going to get done from now on. Under the current circumstances, however, technology is making it possible to continue much of the real estate transaction today.
If you need to move today, technology can help make it happen; there are options available. Let’s touch base today to discuss your situation and our local regulations, so you don’t have to put your real estate plans on hold.
With interest rates hitting all-time lows over the past few weeks, many homeowners are opting to refinance. To decide if refinancing your home is the best option for you and your family, start by asking yourself these questions:
Why do you want to refinance?
There are many reasons to refinance, but here are three of the most common ones:
1. Lower Your Interest Rate and Payment: This is the most popular reason. Is your current interest rate higher than what’s available today? If so, it might be worth seeing if you can take advantage of the current lower rates.
2. Shorten the Term of Your Loan: If you have a 30-year loan, it may be advantageous to change it to a 15 or 20-year loan to pay off your mortgage sooner rather than later.
3. Cash-Out Refinance: You might have enough equity to cash out and invest in something else, like your children’s education, a business venture, an investment property, or simply to increase your cash reserve.
Once you know why you might want to refinance, ask yourself the next question:
How much is it going to cost?
There are fees and closing costs involved in refinancing, and The Lenders Network explains:
“As an example, let’s say your mortgage has a balance of $200,000. If you were to refinance that loan into a new loan, total closing costs would run between 2%-4% of the loan amount. You can expect to pay between $4,000 to $8,000 to refinance this loan.”
They also explain that there are options for no-cost refinance loans, but be on the lookout:
“A no-cost refinance loan is when the lender pays the closing costs for the borrower. However, you should be aware that the lender makes up this money from other aspects of the mortgage. Usually charging a slightly higher interest rate so they can make the money back.”
Keep in mind that, given the current market conditions and how favorable they are for refinancing, it can take a little longer to execute the process today. This is because many other homeowners are going this route as well. As Todd Teta, Chief Officer at ATTOM Data Solutions notes about recent mortgage activity:
“Refinancing largely drove the trend, with more than twice as many homeowners trading in higher-interest mortgages for cheaper ones than in the same period of 2018.”
Clearly, refinancing has been on the rise lately. If you’re comfortable with the up-front cost and a potential waiting period due to the high volume of requests, then ask yourself one more question:
Is it worth it?
To answer this one, do the math. Will it help you save money? How much longer do you need to own your home to break even? Will your current home meet your needs down the road? If you plan to stay for a few years, then maybe refinancing is your best move.
If, however, your current home doesn’t fulfill your needs for the next few years, you might want to consider using your equity for a down payment on a new home instead. You’ll still get a lower interest rate than the one you have on your current house, and with the equity you’ve already built, you can finally purchase the home you’ve been waiting for.
Today, more than ever, it’s important to start working with a trusted real estate advisor. Whether you connect by phone or video chat, a real estate professional can help you understand how to safely navigate the housing market so that you can prioritize the health of your family without having to bring your plans to a standstill. Whether you’re looking to refinance, buy, or sell, a trusted advisor knows the best protocol as well as the optimal resources and lenders to help you through the process in this fast-paced world that’s changing every day.