Real Estate News
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Buying Season is Back. Here's What to Expect.
With peak buying season upon us, here's what analysts are expecting to see this year:
Increasing Mortgage Rates
It appears, depending on how the economic recovery progresses, that mortgage rates could continue to increase. Earlier in the year, rates were holding under 3%, but those rates have steadily increased over the past several weeks. As more and more Americans are vaccinated, it's expected that economic recovery will continue, and this will likely contribute to an upward movement in mortgage rates. If you're thinking of buying this summer, it may be in your best interest to lock in a rate as soon as possible.
Inventories Could Increase
Many home shoppers found the lack of inventory to be a major source of frustration during the past year. It was difficult - if not impossible - to find available properties, and when something went on the market, it was often scooped up in days or sometimes just hours.
Some analysts are expecting to see increased inventory this year. As more people become vaccinated and a general sense of stability returns, home sellers who were deterred from making a move in 2020 will be more likely to list their properties.
Another trend that could continue influencing the real estate market this spring and beyond is an increase in millennial buyers. Nearly five million millennials are set to turn 30 this year, and they now comprise the biggest segment of home buyers. In 2018, millennial homeownership was at record lows, but there's evidence that is changing.
Around 86% of younger millennials and 52% of older ones are buying their first homes, and some are buying luxury properties that are well beyond what you'd consider a starter home.
Millennials will likely drive the market throughout 2021. A survey from the National Association of Home Builders in the fourth quarter of 2020 found that 27% of millennial respondents planned to buy a home in the next 12 months, up from 19% the year before.
The Online Trends Are Growing
Online real estate services grew in functionality and popularity this past year.
3D home tours, virtual agent/broker teleconferencing, and online closings aided by tools like DocuSign are all ways that technology is facilitating a simpler home selling or buying experience. Regardless of the state of the pandemic, the convenience afforded by online real estate technology is here to stay.
Private Mortgage Insurance Explained
When a lender looks at a loan application, their main question is "what risk do I take on by issuing this loan?" Credit checks, bank statements, employment verification – all the documentation required when getting approved for a loan is in service of assessing what the odds are that the loan will go into default. This is why a down payment is such a crucial part of obtaining a home loan. When a borrower has a substantial down payment (20 to 30% or more), the lender's exposure is lessened in the event of a default.
This 20-30% figure used to be required, yet clearly this kept a lot of people from realizing the benefits of homeownership, especially first time buyers. That is until 1957, when Max H. Karl, a real estate attorney, founded Mortgage Guaranty Insurance Corporation and invented the modern form of private mortgage insurance.
PMI is designed to address the hefty down payment hurdle. Instead of coming to the table with 20% or more for a down payment, a private mortgage insurance policy allows consumers to buy and finance a home without a large down payment. With PMI, the borrower pays a small percentage of the total loan amount (0.3 - 1.5%/year) in addition to their mortgage and insurance payments. As an example, a $200,000 loan with a PMI rate of 1% will come out to $167 dollars extra a month for a borrower. It's not nothing, but for many it's a manageable trade off.
Yet sometimes PMI can get a bad rap, as something to be avoided at all costs. Until the end of the 90's this attitude was understandable – homeowners had limited resources to cancel PMI and were often stuck with it for the life of their loan. That changed with the Homeowners Protection Act of 1998. It required automatic termination of PMI when the loan balance reaches 78% of the original value through natural amortization. Borrowers can often drop their PMI even before reaching that 78% figure – once a borrower reaches 20% equity in their home, they can request a cancellation of PMI. As home prices continue to rise, borrowers build up equity in their homes faster, meaning they can often drop PMI payments earlier than they think.
If you're curious about buying a home for the first time, or you're wondering how the value of your home has changed over time, reach out to us. We have up-to-date market information to help you make decisions with confidence.