The level of equity homeowners have is at an all-time high. According to the U.S. Census, over 38% of owner-occupied homes are owned free and clear, meaning they don’t have a mortgage. Those with a mortgage are seeing their equity skyrocket too. Every time real estate values increase, homeowners get a dollar-for-dollar gain in their home equity.
According to the first-quarter 2021 U.S. Home Equity Report from ATTOM Data Solutions:
“17.8 million residential properties in the United States were considered equity-rich, meaning that the combined estimated amount of loans secured by those properties was 50 percent or less of their estimated market value.
The count of equity-rich properties in the first quarter of 2021 represented 31.9 percent, or about one in three, of the 55.8 million mortgaged homes in the United States. That was up from 30.2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2020, 28.3 percent in the third quarter and 26.5 percent in the first quarter of 2020.”
This surge in home equity has given most homeowners the opportunity to use that equity in one of two ways:
- Refinance to cash out some of the equity or lower their current payment
- Move to a home that better fits their current needs
Let’s break down the possibilities.
An abundance of equity and record-low mortgage rates can make refinancing a home very easy. Some homeowners choose to refinance so they can lower their payments. Others convert a portion of the equity to cash while keeping their monthly payment the same.
There are many homeowners who could take advantage of lower rates and higher levels of equity, but they haven’t yet. According to an Economic & Housing Research Note from earlier this month, there were over five million homeowners with a loan funded by Freddie Mac who would benefit by refinancing their loan. As of January 2021, there were:
- 452,122 loans with an average mortgage rate of 6.17%
- 1,027,834 loans with an average mortgage rate of 4.39%
- 3,687,780 loans with an average mortgage rate of 4.21%
With mortgage rates currently hovering around 3%, any of these homeowners would benefit from refinancing. They could lower their payments by hundreds of dollars per month or cash out large sums of equity while keeping their monthly payment the same.
If a homeowner has a $200,000 fixed-rate mortgage with a 6% interest rate and refinances that loan to a 3% interest rate, their monthly mortgage payment (principal and interest) will go from $1,199 per month to $843 per month – a savings of $356 a month, or $4,272 each year.
On the other hand, if they keep their mortgage payment the same, they could cash out a significant amount of their equity.
2. Move into your dream home
The past year prompted many households to redefine what a dream home really means, and it’s something different to everyone. Those who have a high mortgage rate could use their equity as a down payment and perhaps buy their next home without significantly raising their mortgage payment.
Suppose a person bought a house for $216,000 at the height of the market in 2006. (The median home price in May of 2006). If they put 10% down and took out a mortgage of $194,400 at 6.41% (the average rate in 2006), the monthly mortgage payment (principal and interest) would have been $1,217.
According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), a typical single-family home has grown in value by approximately $150,000 over the last fifteen years. That means the $216,000 house would be worth about $366,000 today.
After deducting selling expenses, they would be left with about $130,000 ($150,000 minus approximately $20,000 in selling expenses).
A seller could take that equity and use it as a down payment on a new house. Let’s assume they purchased a home for $450,000 (roughly $80,000 more than the value of their current home). If they put the $130,000 down, they could take out a mortgage of $320,000 with a 3% interest rate. The monthly mortgage payment (principal and interest) would be $1,349. Therefore, they could buy a home worth $80,000 more than the one they have today and only spend an extra $132 per month.
Whether you’re refinancing your house or moving to a new home, your current mortgage rate and your level of equity are crucial in your decision-making process. Look at your mortgage documentation to find out your interest rate, and then let’s connect to determine the potential equity in your home. You may be surprised by the opportunities you have.
It’s Time To Prepare Your House for a Spring Listing
If you’re thinking of selling your house this spring, now is the perfect time to start getting it ready. With the market gearing up for its busiest time of year, it’ll be important to make sure your house shines bright among the competition.
Here are some valuable tips you can use to get your house market-ready.
Declutter and Organize
First impressions matter, and if your house is a mess, that can easily turn off potential buyers. Before listing, take the time to declutter and organize each room. Decluttering is about more than just tidying up – it’s about creating a sense of space and openness that allows potential buyers to envision themselves living in your home. According to Moving.com:
“Decluttering and organizing your space will go a long way in appealing to potential buyers. . . .decluttering will help the buyers see themselves living in your home. Less clutter inside a home also helps a place appear larger and cleaner, which should attract more buyers.”
Deep Clean Your Kitchen and Bathrooms
The kitchen and bathrooms are focal points for many buyers, and often influence their overall opinion of the house. Ensure these spaces dazzle by giving them a thorough deep cleaning. Pay attention to details like scrubbing grout lines, polishing fixtures, and decluttering countertops. A sparkling kitchen and bathroom can leave a lasting positive impression on potential buyers.
Maintain Your Yard
Your home’s exterior is the first thing potential buyers see, so it’s important to make a good impression from the moment they arrive. A well-maintained yard not only enhances curb appeal, but also shows buyers the home has been well taken care of.
Take the time to spruce up your yard by mowing the lawn, trimming bushes, and clearing away any debris or dead plants. Remember, the goal is to create a welcoming environment that entices buyers to step inside and imagine themselves living there. U.S. News says:
“A beautifully landscaped front yard can elevate an ordinary house into a charming home and will help homes sell faster and for more money.”
Find a Listing Agent
A skilled listing agent is your partner in minimizing stress when selling your home. Lean on your agent for advice on decluttering, staging, and enhancing your home’s appeal to potential buyers. Their insights into market trends and recommendations for reliable contractors and stagers are invaluable. As Realtor.com says:
“A good listing agent will help you price your home . . . recommend a photographer and stager to make it look its best, and put your home on the multiple listing service.”
By decluttering, deep cleaning, and tidying up your house, you can create a welcoming environment that resonates with buyers and increases your chances of a successful sale. Connect with a trusted real estate agent for advice on what you need to do to get your house ready to sell this spring.
Home Equity Can Be a Game Changer When You Sell
Are you on the fence about selling your house? While affordability is improving this year, it’s still tight. And that may be on your mind. But understanding your home equity could be the key to making your decision easier. An article from Bankrate explains:
“Home equity is the difference between your home’s value and the amount you still owe on your mortgage. It represents the paid-off portion of your home.
You’ll start off with a certain level of equity when you make your down payment to buy the home, then continue to build equity as you pay down your mortgage. You’ll also build equity over time as your home’s value increases.”
Think of equity as a simple math equation. It’s the value of your home now minus what you owe on your mortgage. And guess what? Recently, your equity has probably grown more than you think.
In the past few years, home prices skyrocketed, which means your home’s value – and your equity – likely shot up, too. So, you may have more equity than you realize.
How To Make the Most of Your Home Equity Right Now
If you’re thinking about moving, the equity you have in your home could be a big help. According to CoreLogic:
“. . . the average U.S. homeowner with a mortgage still has more than $300,000 in equity . . .”
Clearly, homeowners have a lot of equity right now. And the latest data from the Census and ATTOM shows over two-thirds of homeowners have either completely paid off their mortgages (shown in green in the chart below) or have at least 50% equity (shown in blue in the chart below):
That means roughly 70% have a tremendous amount of equity right now.
- Be an all-cash buyer: If you’ve been living in your current home for a long time, you might have enough equity to buy your next home without having to take out a loan. If that’s the case, you won’t need to borrow any money or worry about mortgage rates. Investopedia states:
“You may want to pay cash for your home if you’re shopping in a competitive housing market, or if you’d like to save money on mortgage interest. It could help you close a deal and beat out other buyers.”
- Make a larger down payment: Your equity could also be used toward your next down payment. It might even be enough to let you put a larger amount down, so you won’t have to borrow as much money. The Mortgage Reports explains:
“Borrowers who put down more money typically receive better interest rates from lenders. This is due to the fact that a larger down payment lowers the lender’s risk because the borrower has more equity in the home from the beginning.”
The Easy Way To Find Out How Much Equity You Have
To find out how much equity you have in your home, ask a real estate agent you trust for a Professional Equity Assessment Report (PEAR).
Houses Are Still Selling Fast
Have you been thinking about selling your house? If so, here’s some good news. While the housing market isn’t as frenzied as it was during the ‘unicorn’ years when houses were selling quicker than ever, they’re still selling faster than normal.
The graph below uses data from Realtor.com to tell the story of median days on the market for every January from 2017 all the way through the latest numbers available. For Realtor.com, days on the market means from the time a house is listed for sale until its closing date or the date it’s taken off the market. This metric can help give you an idea of just how quickly homes are selling compared to more normal years:
When you look at the most recent data (shown in green), it’s clear homes are selling faster than they usually would (shown in blue). In fact, the only years when houses sold even faster than they are right now were the abnormal ‘unicorn’ years (shown in pink). According to Realtor.com:
“Homes spent 69 days on the market, which is three days shorter than last year and more than two weeks shorter than before the COVID-19 pandemic.”
What Does This Mean for You?
Homes are selling faster than the norm for this time of year – and your house may sell quickly too. That’s because more people are looking to buy now that mortgage rates have come down, but there still aren’t enough homes to go around. Mike Simonsen, Founder of Altos Research, says:
“. . . 2024 is starting stronger than last year. And demand is increasing each week.”
If you’re wondering if it’s a good time to sell your home, the most recent data suggests it is. The housing market appears to be stronger than it usually is at this time of year. To get the latest updates on what’s happening in your local market, connect with a real estate agent.
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