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For Buyers

Home Prices Are Climbing in These Top Cities

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Thinking about buying a home or selling your current one to find a better fit? If so, you might be wondering what’s going on with home prices these days. Here’s the scoop.

The latest national data from Case-Shiller and the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) shows they’re going up (see graphs below):

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As you can see, home prices were rising for most of 2023. But over the course of December and January, they were virtually flat – which is pretty normal for that time of year.

But here’s what you need to know now. As of February, when the spring market kicked off, prices were on the rise again.

Home Prices Are Going Up in Most of America’s Top Cities

After seeing a jump in home prices nationally in February, you might be wondering if they’re going up in your area, too. While it depends on where you live, prices are rising in 18 of the top 20 cities Case-Shiller reports on in the monthly price index (see chart below):

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Most experts also think home prices will keep rising and end the year on a high note. Forbes explains why:

“Even as mortgage rates have reached their highest level since November, persistent demand coupled with limited housing supply are key drivers pushing home values upward.”

How This Impacts You

  • For Buyers: If you’re ready, willing, and able to buy a home, purchasing before prices go up even more might be a smart choice, since home values are expected to keep climbing.
  • For Sellers: Prices are going up because there still aren’t enough homes available for sale right now compared to today’s buyer demand. So, if you work with an agent to price your house right, you might receive multiple offers and sell quickly. 

Bottom Line

The data shows home prices are increasing nationally. Chat with a local real estate agent to see exactly what’s going on with prices in your neighborhood.

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Buying Tips

Why a Vacation Home Is the Ultimate Summer Upgrade

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Summer is officially here and that means it’s the perfect time to start planning where you want to vacation and unwind this season. If you’re excited about getting away and having some fun in the sun, it might make sense to consider if owning your own vacation home is right for you.

An Ameriprise Financial survey sheds light on why people buy a second, or vacation, home (see below): No Caption Received

  • Vacation destination or a place to get away from the stresses of everyday life (81%) – Having a second home to use as a vacation spot can be a special place where you go to relax and take a break from your daily routines and stressors. It also means you won’t have to worry about finding somewhere to stay when you go there.
  • Better weather (49%) – Buying in a place where there may be nicer weather can be a great escape, especially if it’s cold or rainy where you usually live. It lets you enjoy sunny days and warm temperatures, even when it’s not so nice back home.
  • Rental income (41%) – You can rent it out to other people when you’re not using it, which can help you make some extra money.
  • Primary residence in the future (33%) – You can eventually move into the home full-time during retirement. That means you can enjoy vacations there now and have a getaway ready for your future.
  • Having a venue for gatherings with family and friends (25%) – It would be a special spot where you can have parties, regular family trips, and create fun memories.

Ways To Buy Your Vacation Home

And you don’t have to be wealthy to buy a vacation home. Bankrate shares two tips for how to make this dream more achievable for anyone who’s interested:

  • Buy with loved ones or friends: If you’re okay with sharing the vacation home, you can go in on the purchase price together and pool your resources to make it more affordable.
  • Put a savings plan in place: This will require patience and persistence but consider adding a vacation home savings plan to your budget and contributing to it monthly.

Finding Your Dream Spot with a Little Help from an Agent

If the idea of basking in the sun at your very own vacation home sounds appealing, you might want to start looking now. Summer’s when everyone’s trying to buy their slice of paradise, so it’s best to start early.

Your first move is to team up with a real estate agent. They know all the ins and outs of the area you want to be in, and which homes you should look at. Plus, they can give you the lowdown on everything you need to know about having a second home and how it can benefit you. The same article from Bankrate says:

Buying real estate in a new area — or even one you’ve vacationed in for many years — requires expert guidance. That makes it a good idea to work with an experienced local lender who specializes in loans for vacation homes and a local real estate professional. Local lenders and Realtors will understand the required rules and specifics for the area you are buying, and a local Realtor will know what properties are available.”

Bottom Line

If the idea of owning your own vacation home appeals to you, connect with a real estate agent.

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Buying Tips

What You Need To Know About Today’s Down Payment Programs

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There’s no denying it’s gotten more challenging to buy a home, especially with today’s mortgage rates and home price appreciation. And that may be one of the big reasons you’re eager to look into grants and assistance programs to see if there’s anything you qualify for that can help. But unfortunately, many homebuyers feel like they don’t know where to start. 

A recent Bank of America Institute study asked prospective buyers where they lack confidence in the process and need more information. And this is what topped the list:

53% said they need help understanding homebuying grant programs.

So, here’s some information that can help you close that gap.

What Is Down Payment Assistance?

As the Mortgage Reports explains:

“Down payment assistance (DPA) programs offer loans and grants that can cover part or all of a home buyer’s down payment and closing costs. More than 2,000 of these programs are available nationwide. . . DPA programs vary by location, but many home buyers could be in line for thousands of dollars in down payment assistance if they qualify.”

And here’s some more good news. On top of all of these programs, you probably don’t need to save as much for your down payment as you think. Contrary to what you may have heard, typically you don’t have to put 20% down unless it’s specified by your loan type or lender. So, you likely don’t need to save as much upfront, and there are programs designed to make your down payment more achievable. Sounds like a win-win.

First-Time and Repeat Buyers Are Often Eligible

It’s also worth mentioning, that it’s not just first-time homebuyers that are eligible for many of these programs. That means whether you’re looking to buy your first house or your fifth, there could be an option for you. As Down Payment Resource notes:

You don’t have to be a first-time buyer. Over 39% of all [homeownership] programs are for repeat homebuyers who have owned a home in the last 3 years.”

Additional Down Payment Resources That Can Help

Here are a few of the down payment assistance programs that are helping many buyers achieve their dream of homeownership, even now:

  • Teacher Next Door is designed to help teachers, first responders, health providers, government employees, active-duty military personnel, and Veterans reach their down payment goals.
  • Fannie Mae provides down payment assistance to eligible first-time homebuyers living in majority-Latino communities.
  • Freddie Mac also has options designed specifically for homebuyers with modest credit scores and limited funds for a down payment.
  • The 3By30 program lays out actionable strategies to add 3 million new Black homeowners by 2030. These programs offer valuable resources for potential buyers, making it easier to secure down payments and realize their dream of homeownership.
  • For Native Americans, Down Payment Resource highlights 42 U.S. homebuyer assistance programs across 14 states that ease the path to homeownership by providing support with down payments and other associated costs.

If you want more information on any of these, the best place to start is by contacting a trusted real estate professional.

They’ll be able to share more details about what may be available, including any other programs designed to serve specific professions or communities. And even if you don’t qualify for these types of programs, they can help see if there are any other federal, state, and local options available you should look into. 

Bottom Line

Affordability is still a challenge, so if you’re looking to buy, you’re going to want to make sure you’re taking advantage of any and all resources available.

The best way to find out what’s out there is to connect with a team of real estate professionals, including a trusted lender and a local agent. 

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For Buyers

Do Elections Impact the Housing Market?

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The 2024 Presidential election is just months away. As someone who’s thinking about potentially buying or selling a home, you’re probably curious about what effect, if any, elections have on the housing market.

It’s a great question because buying or selling a home is a major decision, and it’s natural to wonder how such a major event might impact your plans.

Historically, Presidential elections have only had a small, temporary impact on the housing market. Here’s the latest on exactly what’s happened to home sales, prices, and mortgage rates throughout those time periods.

Home Sales

During the month of November, in years when the Presidential election takes place, there’s typically a slight slowdown in home sales. As Ali Wolf, Chief Economist at Zonda, explains:

“Usually, home sales are unchanged compared to a non-election year with the exception being November. In an election year, November is slower than normal.

This is mostly because some people feel uncertain and hesitant about making big decisions during such a pivotal time. However, it’s important to know this slowdown is temporary. Historically, home sales bounce back in December and continue to rise the following year.

In fact, data from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows after nine of the last 11 Presidential elections, home sales went up the next year (see graph below): No Caption Received

The graph shows annual home sales going back to 1978. Each year with a Presidential election is noted in blue. The year immediately after each election is green if existing home sales rose that year. The two orange bars represent the only years when home sales decreased after an election.

Home Prices

What about home prices? Do they drop during election years? Not typically. As residential appraiser and housing analyst Ryan Lundquist puts it:

“An election year doesn’t alter the price trend that is already happening in the market.”

Home prices are pretty resilient. They generally rise year-over-year, regardless of elections. The latest data from NAR shows after seven of the last eight Presidential elections, home prices increased the following year (see graph below): No Caption Received

Just like the previous graph, this shows election years in blue. The only year when prices declined after an election is in orange. That was during the housing market crash, which was far from a typical year. Today’s market is different than it was back then.

All the green bars represent when prices rose the following year. So, if you’re worried about your home losing value because of an election, you can rest easy knowing prices rise after most Presidential elections.

Mortgage Rates

Mortgage rates are important because they affect how much your monthly payment will be when you buy a home. Looking at the last 11 Presidential election years, data from Freddie Mac shows mortgage rates decreased from July to November in eight of them (see chart below): No Caption Received

Most forecasts expect mortgage rates to ease slightly throughout the remainder of the year. If they’re right, this year will follow the trend of declining rates leading up to most previous elections. And if you’re looking to buy a home in the coming months, this could be good news, as lower rates could mean a lower monthly payment.

What This Means for You

So, what’s the big takeaway? While Presidential elections do have some impact on the housing market, the effects are usually small and temporary. As Lisa Sturtevant, Chief Economist at Bright MLS, says:

“Historically, the housing market doesn’t tend to look very different in presidential election years compared to other years.”

For most buyers and sellers, elections don’t have a major impact on their plans.

Bottom Line

While it’s natural to feel a bit uncertain during an election year, history shows the housing market remains strong and resilient. If you have questions, reach out to a local real estate agent. They’re here to help you navigate the market, election year or not.

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The information contained, and the opinions expressed, in these article are not intended to be construed as investment advice. Let's Talk Real Estate and Keeping Current Matters, Inc. do not guarantee or warrant the accuracy or completeness of the information or opinions contained herein. Nothing herein should be construed as investment advice. You should always conduct your own research and due diligence and obtain professional advice before making any investment decision. Let's Talk Real Estate and Keeping Current Matters, Inc. will not be liable for any loss or damage caused by your reliance on the information or opinions contained herein.