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What is Really Happening with Home Prices?

What is Really Happening with Home Prices? | Simplifying The Market

Home values have softened over the last twelve months. We are no longer seeing 6-7% annual appreciation levels for the national housing market. The current numbers are closer to 4%. Some have suggested that year-over-year appreciation levels could fall to 3% or less this year.

However, a stronger-than-expected economy and a good spring housing market have changed some opinions. Some analysts are now predicting that home value appreciation may begin to increase as we move forward.

Here are three examples:

Mark Fleming, Chief Economist of First American

“Data on the movement of unadjusted house prices during the early spring home-buying season won’t be available for a few more months, but it’s quite likely that price appreciation will accelerate again.”

CoreLogic’s April “Home Price Insights”

“Home prices nationwide, including distressed sales, increased year over year by 3.7% in March 2019 compared with March 2018…The CoreLogic HPI Forecast indicates that home prices will increase by 4.8% on a year-over-year basis from March 2019 to March 2020.”

Pulsenomics’ Quarterly “Home Price Expectation Survey”

The 2018 4th Quarter survey called for 3.8% appreciation for 2019.
The 2019 1st Quarter survey raised the appreciation projection for this year to 4.3%.

Bottom Line

Price appreciation has slowed over the past year. However, a strong economy and a good housing market have many experts thinking that home values might re-accelerate moderately throughout the rest of this year.

4 Tips for Making a Competitive Offer

4 Tips for Making a Competitive Offer | Simplifying The Market

So, you’ve been searching for that perfect house to call ‘home,’ and you’ve finally found it! The price is right, and in such a competitive market, you want to make sure you make a good offer so that you can guarantee that your dream of making this house yours comes true!

Below are 4 steps provided by Freddie Mac to help buyers make offers, along with some additional information for your consideration:

1. Determine Your Price

   “You’ve found the perfect home and you’re ready to buy. Now what? Julie Lehrer will be by your side, helping you determine an offer price that is fair.”

Based on your agent’s experience and key considerations (like similar homes recently sold in the same neighborhood or the condition of the house and what you can afford), Julie Lehrer will help you to determine the offer that you are going to present.

Getting pre-approved will not only show home-sellers that you are serious about buying, but it will also allow you to make your offer with confidence because you’ll know that you have already been approved for a mortgage in that amount.

2. Submit an Offer

“Once you’ve determined your price, Julie Lehrer will draw up an offer, or purchase agreement, to submit to the seller’s real estate agent. This offer will include the purchase price and terms and conditions of the purchase.”

Talk with Julie Lehrer to find out if there are any ways in which you can make your offer stand out in this competitive market! Julie Lehrer, a licensed real estate agent who is active in the neighborhoods you are considering will be instrumental in helping you put in a solid offer.

3. Negotiate the Offer

   “Oftentimes, the seller will counter the offer, typically asking for a higher purchase price or to adjust the closing date. In these cases, the seller’s agent will submit a counteroffer to your agent detailing their desired changes, at this time, you can either accept the offer or decide if you want to counter.

   Each time changes are made through a counteroffer, you or the seller have the option to accept, reject or counter it again. The contract is considered final when both parties sign the written offer.”

If your offer is approved, Freddie Mac urges you to “always get an independent home inspection, so you know the true condition of the home.” If the inspector uncovers undisclosed problems or issues, you can discuss any repairs that may need to be made with the seller or even cancel the contract altogether.

4. Act Fast

The inventory of homes listed for sale has remained well below the 6-month supply that is needed for a ‘normal’ market. Buyer demand has continued to outpace the supply of homes for sale, causing buyers to compete with each other for their dream homes.

Make sure that as soon as you decide that you want to make an offer, have Julie Lehrer present it as quickly as possible .

Bottom Line

Whether buying your first home or your fifth, having Julie Lehrer, a local real estate professional who is an expert in  the real estate market on your side is your best bet in making sure the process goes smoothly.

Let’s talk about how we can make your dream of homeownership a reality!

Top Days to List Your Home for Sale


Top Days to List Your Home for Sale [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Some Highlights:

  • ATTOM Data Solutions conducted an analysis of more than 29 million single family home and condo sales over the past eight years to determine the top days to list your home for sale.
  • The top five days to list your home brought in a 10% premium over market value and are all in either May or June!
  • “Families start their home search when they know their kids will be out of school and when the weather is ideal for home viewing and moving, giving home sellers an upper hand in price negotiations.”
  • There is still time to list your home before these dates pass you by!

New Research Shows Housing Is Affordable For First-Time Buyers

New Research Shows Housing Is Affordable For First-Time Buyers | Simplifying The Market

Home prices have been on the rise for the last seven years, leading many housing market analysts to conclude that first-time homebuyers are being shut out of the market due to affordability concerns.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reports on the percentage of First-Time Home Buyers (FTHB) on a monthly and yearly basis. Their latest report shows that FTHB’s made up 33% of buyers in March, which matches their reported share in 2018.

NAR uses survey data from their members to come up with this statistic, so their results do not include every transaction completed. Rather, they only show the transactions reported by members who complete the survey.

The other entity that reports on FTHB share is the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). The AEI uses data from mortgage applications that define an FTHB as “any borrower who did not have a mortgage for the preceding three years.”

This means the AEI measurement also includes former homeowners who transitioned out of a home they previously owned and re-entered the market after at least 3 years. The latest FTHB share data from AEI shows that first-time buyers made up 57.5% of all mortgages in August 2018. NAR’s data shows a 31% share for the same time period.

New research from the New York Federal Reserve shows that these traditional reports on FTHB share have been unable to give an accurate depiction of this group’s involvement in the market.

The NY Fed was able to take consumer credit data and identify when a mortgage payment entered a consumer’s credit report to determine when a first-time home purchase was made. Using this data, they were able to show that AEI’s reported FTHB share was consistently 10% higher. The NAR reports were right on par with their findings until 2010, when NAR’s share dropped to the 11% gap seen today.

So, what does this all mean?

First-time home buyers have not disappeared from the market as many analysts had believed. Buying a home is very much a part of the American Dream for younger generations, just like it had been for their parents and grandparents.

This also means that rising prices have not scared buyers away from the market. Many first-time buyers are making sacrifices to save their down payment and make their dream a reality.

Bottom Line

If you are one of the many renters who is scrolling through listings on your phone every night dreaming of buying your own home, there are opportunities in every market to make that dream a reality!

A Lack of Inventory Continues to Impact the Housing Market

A Lack of Inventory Continues to Impact the Housing Market | Simplifying The Market

The housing crisis is finally in the rear-view mirror as the real estate market moves down the road to a complete recovery. Home values are up and distressed sales (foreclosures and short sales) have fallen to their lowest point in years. The market will continue to strengthen in 2019.

However, there is one thing that may cause the industry to tap the brakes: a lack of housing inventory! Buyer demand naturally increases during the summer months, but supply has not kept up.

Here are the thoughts of a few industry experts on the subject:

Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at National Association of Realtors

“Further increases in inventory are highly desirable to keep home prices in check, the sustained steady gains in home sales can occur when home price appreciation grows at roughly the same pace as wage growth.”

Jessica Lautz, Vice President of NAR

“There’s a supply-demand mismatch… More inventory is needed at the lower end and a price reduction may be needed at the upper end.”

Danielle Hale, Chief Economist of Realtor.com

“Heading into spring, U.S. prices are expected to continue to rise and inventory is expected to continue to increase, but at a slower pace than we’ve seen the last few months as fewer sellers want to contend with this year’s more challenging conditions… A buyer’s experience will vary notably depending on the market and price point they’re targeting.”

Bottom Line

If you are thinking of selling, now may be the time!

Demand for your house will be strong at a time when there is very little competition. That could lead to a quick sale for a really good price!

What’s a Seller’s Disclosure?


In many residential sales, sellers are required to provide information about the condition of the property, which benefits the buyer and seller.

It’s Required by Texas Law

Sellers of a single-unit residential property are required to provide a seller’s disclosure notice to a buyer. The notice details what the sellers know about the property at the time they complete and sign the notice. You’ll see more than one version of the notice. The Texas Real Estate Commission has one, which meets the law’s minimum requirements, and Texas REALTORS® has one, which provides more information for buyers and serves as a risk-reduction tool for sellers.

What’s in the Notice?

The five-page Texas REALTORS® Seller’s Disclosure Notice covers a wide range of topics. It asks sellers to list the appliances and systems in the property, current defects, past insurance claims, past inspection reports, and other conditions of the property.

How it Helps Sellers

The notice provides sellers a place to document and share their knowledge of a property and can reduce sellers’ risk of being sued. If a buyer claims after closing that he didn’t know about previous termite damage, the sellers can point to Section 3 of the notice where they indicated
the termite damage—assuming the sellers filled out the notice correctly.

How it Helps Buyers

It’s impossible to foresee a house’s every potential problem. A disclosure notice that details known conditions and defects can help provide a more complete picture of a property. Buyers may, for example, learn that a house has well water, plumbing problems, and aluminum wiring.

That information can be used for inspections to further understand the extent of any issues.

Need help understanding the seller’s disclosure or other aspects of a real estate transaction? Talk to Julie Lehrer, a Texas REALTOR®.

2 Trends Helping Keep Housing Affordable

2 Trends Helping Keep Housing Affordable | Simplifying The Market

Two positive trends have started to emerge that impact the 2019 Spring Housing Market. Mortgage interest rates for a 30-year fixed rate loan have dropped to new lows, right as reports show that wages have increased at their highest rate in decades!

These two factors have helped keep housing affordable despite low supply of houses for sale driving up prices. First American’s Chief Economist, Mark Fleming, explains the impact,

“Ongoing supply shortages remain the main driver of the performance gap as the housing market continues to face an inventory impasse – you can’t buy what’s not for sale.

However, an unexpected affordability surge, driven primarily by lower-than-anticipated mortgage rates, rising wages and favorable demographics, has boosted housing demand.”

Mortgage interest rates had been on the rise for most of 2018 before reaching their peak in November at 4.94%.

According to Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey, interest rates last week came in at 4.20%.

Average hourly earnings grew at an annual rate of 3.2% in March, up substantially from the 2.3% average pace seen over the last 10 years.

These two factors contributed nearly $6,000 worth of additional house-buying power for median households from February to March 2019, according to First American’s research. Fleming is positive about the prolonged impact of lower rates and higher wages.

“We expect rising wages and lower mortgage rates to continue through the spring, boosting housing demand and spurring home sales.”

Bottom Line

Low mortgage interest rates have kept housing affordable throughout the country. If you plan on purchasing a home this year, act now while rates are still low!

Mainstream Concerns about an Economic Slowdown Revisited

Mainstream Concerns about an Economic Slowdown Revisited | Simplifying The Market

Recently, we reported that many believe a recession could happen within the next two years. We explained that 70% of economists and market analysts surveyed last year believe that a recession will occur in 2019 or 2020 and that 42% of consumers currently looking to purchase a home also agree that a recession will occur this year or next.

However, the U.S. economy has performed well in the first quarter of 2019 and that has caused some experts to change their thinking on an impending economic slowdown.

Here are a few notable examples:

Anthony Chan, Chief Economist at JPMorgan Chase

“I feel really comfortable that the economy is slowing down this year, but not going into a recession… It doesn’t look, to me, like the odds of a recession in 2020 are there.”

Dean Baker, Senior Economist at the Center for Economic & Policy Research

“To sum up the general picture, the U.S. economy is definitely weakening… However, with wages growing at a respectable pace, and job growth remaining healthy, we should see enough consumption demand to keep the economy moving forward. That means slower growth, but no recession.”

Lisa Shalett, Chief Investment Officer, Wealth Management at Morgan Stanley

“I’m not convinced a recession is coming soon… I see an improving housing market (low rates help), a rebound in bank lending, a tight labor market, higher oil prices and well-behaved credit markets. All these point to a stable U.S. economic outlook.”

Bottom Line

We are seeing a stronger economy than many had predicted. That has caused some experts to push off the possibility of a recession further into the horizon.

The Benefits of a 20% Down Payment

The Benefits of a 20% Down Payment | Simplifying The Market

If you are in the market to buy a home this year, you may be confused about how much money you need to come up with for your down payment. Many people you talk to will tell you that you need to save 20% or you won’t be able to secure a mortgage.

The truth is that there are many programs available that let you put down as little as 3%. Those who have served our country could qualify for a Veterans Affairs Home Loan (VA) without needing a down payment.

These programs have cut the savings time that many families would need to compile a large down payment from five or more years down to a year or two. This allows them to start building family wealth sooner.

So then, why do so many people believe that they need a 20% down payment to buy a home? There has to be a reason! Today, we want to talk about four reasons why putting 20% down is a good plan, if you can afford it.

1. Your interest rate will be lower.

Putting down a 20% down payment vs. a 3-5% down payment shows your lender/bank that you are more financially stable, thus a good credit risk. The more confident your bank is in your credit score and your ability to pay your loan, the lower the rate they will be willing to give you.

2. You’ll end up paying less for your home.

The bigger your down payment, the lower your loan amount will be for your mortgage. If you are able to pay 20% of the cost of your new home at the start of the transaction, you will only pay interest on the remaining 80%. If you put down a 5% down payment, the extra 15% on your loan will accrue interest and end up costing you more in the long run!

3. Your offer will stand out in a competitive market!

In a market where many buyers are competing for the same home, sellers like to see offers come in with 20% or larger down payments. The seller gains the same confidence that the bank did above. You are seen as a stronger buyer whose financing is more likely to be approved. Therefore, the deal will be more likely to go through!

4. You won’t have to pay Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI)

Simply put, PMI is “an insurance policy that protects the lender if you are unable to pay your mortgage. It’s a monthly fee, rolled into your mortgage payment, that is required for all conforming, conventional loans that have down payments less than 20%.”

As we mentioned earlier, when you put down less than 20% to buy a home, your lender/bank will see your loan as having more risk. PMI helps them recover their investment in you if you are unable to pay your loan. This insurance is not required if you are able to put down 20% or more.

Many times, home sellers looking to move up to a larger or more expensive home are able to take the equity they earn from the sale of their house to put down 20% on their next home.

If you are looking to buy your first home, you will have to weigh the benefits of saving a 20% down payment vs. the time and cost of continuing to rent while you save that amount.

Bottom Line

If your plan for your future includes buying a home and you’re already saving for your down payment, let’s get together to help you decide what down payment size best fits with your long-term plan!

Why Access Is One of the Most Important Factors in Getting Your House Sold!

Why Access Is One of the Most Important Factors in Getting Your House Sold! | Simplifying The Market

So, you’ve decided to sell your house. You’ve hired a real estate professional to help you through the entire process, and they have asked you what level of access you want to provide to your potential buyers.

There are four elements to a quality listing. At the top of the list is access, followed by condition, financing, and price. There are many levels of access that you can provide to your agent so that he or she can show your home.

Here are five levels of access that you can give to buyers, along with a brief description:

  • Lockbox on the Door – this allows buyers the ability to see the home as soon as they are aware of the listing, or at their convenience.
  • Providing a Key to the Home – although the buyer’s agent may need to stop by an office to pick up the key, there is little delay in being able to show the home.
  • Open Access with a Phone Call – the seller allows showings with just a phone call’s notice.
  • By Appointment Only (example: 48-Hour Notice) – Many buyers who are relocating for a new career or promotion start working in that area prior to purchasing their home. They often like to take advantage of free time during business hours (such as their lunch break) to view potential homes. Because of this, they may not be able to plan their availability far in advance or may be unable to wait 48 hours to see the house.
  • Limited Access (example: the home is only available on Mondays or Tuesdays at 2 pm or for only a couple of hours a day) – This is the most difficult way to be able to show your house to potential buyers.

With more competition coming to the market this spring, access can make or break your ability to get the price you are looking for, or even sell your house at all.