How an Expert Can Help You Understand Inflation & Mortgage Rates

Tuesday, September 27th, 2022

How an Expert Can Help You Understand Inflation & Mortgage Rates | Simplifying The Market

If you’re following today’s housing market, you know two of the top issues consumers face are inflation and mortgage rates. Let’s take a look at each one.

Inflation and the Housing Market

This year, inflation reached a high not seen in forty years. For the average consumer, you probably felt the pinch at the gas pump and in the grocery store. It may have even impacted your ability to save money to buy a home.

While the Federal Reserve is working hard to lower inflation, the August data shows the inflation rate was still higher than expected. This news impacted the stock market and fueled conversations about a recession. It also played a role in the Federal Reserve’s decision to raise the Federal Funds Rate last week. As Bankrate says:

“. . . the Fed has raised rates again, announcing yet another three-quarter-point hike on September 21 . . . The hikes are designed to cool an economy that has been on fire. . .”

While their actions don’t directly dictate what happens with mortgage rates, their decisions have contributed to the intentional cooldown in the housing market. A recent article from Fortune explains:

“As the Federal Reserve moved into inflation-fighting mode, financial markets quickly put upward pressure on mortgage rates. Those elevated mortgage rates . . . coupled with sky-high home prices, threw cold water onto the housing boom.”

The Impact on Rising Mortgage Rates

Over the past few months, mortgage rates have fluctuated in light of growing economic pressures. Most recently, the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate according to Freddie Mac ticked above 6% for the first time in well over a decade (see graph below):

How an Expert Can Help You Understand Inflation & Mortgage Rates | Simplifying The Market

The mortgage rate increases this year are the big reason buyer demand has pulled back in recent months. Basically, as rates (and home prices) rose, so did the cost of buying a home. That pushed on affordability and priced some buyers out of the market, so home sales slowed and the inventory of homes for sale grew as a result.

Where Experts Say Rates and Inflation Will Go from Here

Moving forward, both of these factors will continue to impact the housing market. A recent article from CNET puts the relationship between inflation and mortgage rates in simple terms:

“As a general rule, when inflation is low, mortgage rates tend to be lower. When inflation is high, rates tend to be higher.”

Sam Khater, Chief Economist at Freddie Mac, has this to say about where rates may go from here:

“Mortgage rates remained volatile due to the tug of war between inflationary pressures and a clear slowdown in economic growth. The high uncertainty surrounding inflation and other factors will likely cause rates to remain variable, . . .”

While there’s no way to say with certainty where mortgage rates will go from here, there is something you can do to stay informed, and that’s connect with a trusted real estate advisor. They keep their pulse on what’s happening today and help you understand what the experts are projecting. They can provide you with the best advice possible.

Bottom Line

Rising inflation and higher mortgage rates have had a clear impact on housing. For expert insights on the latest trends in the housing market and what they mean for you, let’s connect.

The True Strength of Homeowners Today

Monday, September 26th, 2022

The True Strength of Homeowners Today | Simplifying The Market

The real estate market is on just about everyone’s mind these days. That’s because the unsustainable market of the past two years is behind us, and the difference is being felt. The question now is, just how financially strong are homeowners throughout the country? Mortgage debt grew beyond 10 trillion dollars over the past year, and many called that a troubling sign when it happened for the first time in history.

Recently Odeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist at First American, answered that question when she said:

“U.S. households own $41 trillion in owner-occupied real estate, just over $12 trillion in debt, and the remaining ~$29 trillion in equity. The national “LTV” in Q2 2022 was 29.5%, the lowest since 1983.”

She continued on to say:

“Homeowners had an average of $320,000 in inflation-adjusted equity in their homes in Q2 2022, an all-time high.”

What Is LTV?

The term LTV refers to loan to value ratio. For more context, here’s how the Mortgage Reports defines it:

“Your ‘loan to value ratio’ (LTV) compares the size of your mortgage loan to the value of the home. For example: If your home is worth $200,000, and you have a mortgage for $180,000, your LTV ratio is 90% — because the loan makes up 90% of the total price.

You can also think about LTV in terms of your down payment. If you put 20% down, that means you’re borrowing 80% of the home’s value. So your LTV ratio is 80%.”

Why Is This Important?

This is yet another reason we won’t see the housing market crash. Home equity allows homeowners to be in control. For example, if someone did need to sell their home, they likely have the equity they need to be able to sell it and still put money in their pocket. This was not the case back in 2008, when many owed more on their homes than they were worth.

Bottom Line

Homeowners today have more financial strength than they have had since 1983. This is a combination of how homeowners have handled equity since the crash and rising home prices of the last two years. And this is yet another reason homeownership in any market makes sense.

Fall Home Selling Checklist [INFOGRAPHIC]

Friday, September 23rd, 2022

Fall Home Selling Checklist [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Fall Home Selling Checklist [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Some Highlights

  • When it comes to selling your house, you want it to look its best inside and out so it catches the attention of buyers. A real estate professional can help you decide what to do to make that happen.
  • Focus on tasks that can make it inviting, show it’s cared for, and boost your curb appeal.
  • Let’s connect so you have advice on what you may want to do to get your house ready to sell this season.

What Experts Say Will Happen with Home Prices Next Year

Thursday, September 22nd, 2022

What Experts Say Will Happen with Home Prices Next Year | Simplifying The Market

Experts are starting to make their 2023 home price forecasts. As they do, most agree homes will continue to gain value, just at a slower pace. Over the past couple of years, home prices have risen at an unsustainable rate, leaving many to wonder how long it would last. If you’re asking yourself: what’s ahead for the price of my home, know that experts are now answering this question, and its welcome news for homeowners who may have been led by the media to believe their home would lose value.

Historically, home prices have appreciated at a rate near 4%. For 2023, the average of six major forecasters noted below is 2.5%. While one, Zelman & Associates, is calling for depreciation, the other five are calling for appreciation. The graph below outlines each expert forecast to show where they project home prices are going in the coming year.

What Experts Say Will Happen with Home Prices Next Year | Simplifying The Market

To understand why experts are calling for appreciation next year, look to the economics of supply and demand. Dave Ramsey, Financial Expert, says this:

“The root issue of what drives house prices almost always is supply and demand . . .”   

Two things are driving home prices upward. First, the undersupply of homes on the market is an issue we continue to face in this country. We still don’t have enough homes on the market for the number of people that want to buy them. To further that point, we’re still in a sellers’ market nationally, and in that scenario, home prices tend to appreciate.

Second, millennials are moving through their peak homebuying years. Since they’re the largest demographic behind the baby boomers, demand isn’t going away any time soon.

Bottom Line

Experts are calling for home prices to appreciate next year, although at a slower pace than the previous three years. The reason for this is simple. The dynamics of supply and demand are playing out in real estate and will continue for many years to come.

Top Reasons Homeowners Are Selling Their Houses Right Now

Wednesday, September 21st, 2022

Top Reasons Homeowners Are Selling Their Houses Right Now | Simplifying The Market

Some people believe there’s a group of homeowners who may be reluctant to sell their houses because they don’t want to lose the historically low mortgage rate they have on their current home. You may even have the same hesitation if you’re thinking about selling your house.

Data shows 51% of homeowners have a mortgage rate under 4% as of April this year. And while it’s true mortgage rates are higher than that right now, there are other non-financial factors to consider when it comes to making a move. In other words, your mortgage rate is important, but you may have other things going on in your life that make a move essential, regardless of where rates are today. As Jessica Lautz, Vice President of Demographics and Behavioral Insights at the National Association of Realtors (NAR), explains:

Home sellers have historically moved when something in their lives changed – a new baby, a marriage, a divorce or a new job. . . .”

So, if you’re thinking about selling your house, it may help to explore the other reasons homeowners are choosing to make a move today. The 2022 Summer Sellers Survey by realtor.com asked recent home sellers why they decided to sell. The visual below breaks down how those homeowners responded:

Top Reasons Homeowners Are Selling Their Houses Right Now | Simplifying The Market

As the visual shows, an appetite for different features or the fact that their current home could no longer meet their needs topped the list for recent sellers. Additionally, remote work and whether or not they need a home office or are tied to a specific physical office location also factored in, as did the desire to live close to their loved ones.

The realtor.com survey summarizes the findings like this:

The primary reason homeowners decided to sell in the last year was the realization that, after so much time spent at home, they wanted different features and amenities, such as walkability, outdoor space, pool, etc. . . .

If you, like the homeowners they surveyed, find yourself wanting features, space, or amenities your current home just can’t provide, it may be time to consider listing your house for sale.

Even with today’s mortgage rates, your lifestyle needs may be enough to motivate you to make a change. The best way to find out what’s right for you is to partner with a trusted real estate professional who can provide expert guidance and advice throughout the process. They can help walk you through your options, so you can make a confident decision based on what matters most to you and your loved ones.

Bottom Line

While the financial reasons for moving are important, there’s often far more to consider. Non-financial reasons can also be a significant motivating factor. If you need help weighing the pros and cons of selling your house, let’s connect today.

Watching the Stock Market? Check the Value of Your Home for Good News.

Tuesday, September 20th, 2022

Watching the Stock Market? Check the Value of Your Home for Good News. | Simplifying The Market

While watching the stock market recently may have started to feel pretty challenging, checking the value of your home should come as welcome relief in this volatile time. If you’re a homeowner, your net worth got a big boost over the past few years thanks to rising home prices. And that increase in your wealth came in the form of home equity. Here’s how it works.

Equity is the current value of your home minus what you owe on the loan. Because there was a significant imbalance between the number of homes available for sale and the number of buyers looking to make a purchase over the past few years, home prices appreciated substantially. And while rising inventory and mortgage rates have cooled the market some in recent months, home prices nationally remain strong.

That’s why, according to the latest Homeowner Equity Insights from CoreLogic, the average homeowner equity has grown by $60,000 over the last 12 months. While that’s the national number, if you want to know what happened, on average, over the past year in your area, look at the map below from CoreLogic:

Watching the Stock Market? Check the Value of Your Home for Good News. | Simplifying The Market

Why This Is So Important Right Now

Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at the National Association of Realtors (NAR), helps explain why this matters so much today:

“. . . the decline in the stock market has dented overall net wealth. It has fallen by $6 trillion from the first to the second quarter. Only housing wealth has held on, with homeowners’ real estate wealth (home value minus mortgage balance) rising by $1.2 trillion.”

While equity helps increase your overall net worth, it can also help you achieve other goals like buying your next home. When you sell your current house, the equity you built up comes back to you in the sale, and it may be just what you need to cover a large portion – if not all – of the down payment on your next home.

Bottom Line

There’s volatility in today’s stock market, but home equity is still incredibly strong. To find out just how much equity you have in your current home, let’s connect.

Will My House Still Sell in Today’s Market?

Monday, September 19th, 2022

Will My House Still Sell in Today’s Market? | Simplifying The Market

If recent headlines about the housing market cooling and buyer demand moderating have you worried you’ve missed your chance to sell, here’s what you need to know. Buyer demand hasn’t disappeared, it’s just eased from the peak intensity we saw over the past two years.

Buyer Demand Then and Now

During the pandemic, mortgage rates hit record lows, and that spurred a significant rise in buyer demand. This year, as rates increased due to factors like rising inflation, buyer demand pulled back or softened as a result. The latest data from ShowingTime confirms this trend (see graph below):

Will My House Still Sell in Today’s Market? | Simplifying The Market

The orange bars in the graph above represent the last few months of data and the clear cooldown in the volume of home showings the market has seen since mortgage rates started to rise. But context is important. To get the full picture of where today’s demand stands, let’s look at the July data for the past six years (see graph below):

Will My House Still Sell in Today’s Market? | Simplifying The Market

This second visual makes it clear that, while moderating compared to the frenzy in 2020 and 2021, showing activity is still beating pre-pandemic levels – and those pre-pandemic years were great years for the housing market. That goes to show there’s still demand if you sell your house today.

What That Means for You When You Sell

The key to selling in a changing market is understanding where the housing market is now. It’s not the same market we had last year or even earlier this year, but that doesn’t mean the opportunity to sell has passed.

While things have cooled a bit, it’s still a sellers’ market. If you work with a trusted local expert to price your house at the current market value, the demand is still there, and it should sell quickly. According to a recent survey from realtor.com, 92% of homeowners who sold in August reported being satisfied with the outcome of their sale.

Bottom Line

Buyer demand hasn’t disappeared, it’s just moderated this year. If you’re ready to sell your house today, let’s connect so you have expert insights on how the market has shifted and how to plan accordingly for your sale.

Home Design Trends to Watch this Year

Tuesday, March 20th, 2018

We frequently get questions from clients who are taking on decorating and remodeling projects and want to ensure their dollars are invested wisely.

Which looks will last for years to come, and which ones will feel dated quickly? What colors and styles are most popular among buyers in our area? How can I add the most value to my home?

So we’ve rounded up some of the hottest trends in home design to help guide you through the process. Whether you’ve planned a simple refresh or a full-scale renovation, making smart and informed design choices will help you maximize your return on investment … and minimize the chance of “remodeler’s remorse” down the road.

 

WHAT’S HOT NOW

While 2017 was all about millennial pink, brass fixtures and bright white kitchens, this year we expect to see a move toward warmer, cozier elements throughout the home.

1. Warm Colors
A cool color scheme has dominated home design in recent years, but this year warm neutrals like brown and tan are back, along with rich jewel tones. While the pastel craze of last year is still hanging on, expect to see alternative color palettes featuring deep, saturated shades of red, yellow, green and navy. Grey will remain popular, but in warmer tones, often referred to as “greige.”

 2. Cozy Elements
Along with warmer colors, we can expect to see a shift from stark, modern design to cozier looks. Velvet upholstery, woven textures and natural elements, like wood and stone, will heat things up this year.

3. Mixed Metals
It used to be considered gauche to mix finishes, however the look of mixed metals will be very big in 2018. Brass will continue to trend, along with matte black and classics like polished chrome and brushed nickel.

4. Bold Patterns
Expect to see a lot of bright, bold patterns in the form of geometric shapes and graphic floral prints. These will be featured on everything from furniture to throw pillows to tile.

5. Natural Elements
Look for the use of natural elements throughout the home, including wood, stone, plants, flowers and grass. Botanical patterns will also be seen in prints, wallpaper and upholstery. Concrete accents will complement these additions in an effort to bring the essence of the outdoors inside the home.

6. Feature Walls
Also called an accent wall, a feature wall is one that exhibits a different color or design than the other walls in the room. Expect to see an increased use of feature walls showcasing rich paint colors, bold patterned wallpaper, and textures brought in through millwork and shiplap.

7. Statement Lighting
Lighting will take center stage with distinctive fixtures, including local artisan and vintage pendants and chandeliers. And smart lighting technology will enable homeowners to customize their lighting experience based on time of day, activity and mood.

8. Hardwood Floors
Hardwood floors will continue to dominate the market. The trend is toward either very dark stains paired with light-colored walls or light stains with darker walls. Greyish tones will remain popular, as will matte finishes, which are easier to maintain than high gloss. Expect to see frequent use of wider and longer wood planks, as well as distressed and wire-brushed finishes, which add texture and dimension.

9. Smart Homes
Everything is getting “smarter” in homes, from locks and lights to thermostats and appliances. And with devices like Google Home and Amazon Alexa, you can control many of these with voice activation from a central hub. We will see continued integration of and advancements in smart-home technology in 2018.

KITCHEN TRENDS

While white kitchens will remain popular in 2018, expect to see more color this year in everything from cabinets to tile to appliances.

1. Two-toned Cabinets
Two-toned cabinets are quickly overtaking the white-on-white look that has dominated kitchen design for the past few years. While white remains a classic, grey and bleached-wood cabinet variations are surging in popularity, along with darker neutrals like navy and green.

2. Quartz Countertops
Granite reigned as the top countertop choice for many years, but quartz is now king. It’s highly durable, low-maintenance and comes in a wide variety of styles and colors. It’s also heat resistant, scratch resistant and non-porous (unlike granite and marble) so it doesn’t need to be sealed.
3. Bold Backsplashes
After years of dominating backsplash design, the white subway tile is officially on its way out. Expect to see it replaced with more elaborate shapes, patterns, colors and textures. Tile that mimics the appearance of wood, concrete and wallpaper is also gaining in popularity.

4. Statement Sinks
While stainless steel and white porcelain are always safe bets, the trend is moving toward sinks that make more of a statement. Look for unexpected pops of color and materials like natural stone and copper. Touch-free faucets are expected to gain favor with homeowners this year, too.

5. Brass is (Still) Back
Brass fixtures came back in a big way over the past couple of years and will continue to be a popular choice in 2018 along with matte black, black nickel, polished chrome and brushed nickel. Missing from the list? Rose gold, which is decidedly “out” this year.

6. Multi-purpose Islands
Kitchen islands have evolved from simple prep-stations into the “workhorse” of the kitchen. Many feature sinks, built-in appliances and under-counter storage while also serving as a casual dining area. They have become the focal point of the kitchen, and we expect to see more of them in 2018 and beyond.

7. Black Stainless Steel
Black stainless steel is the hot new finish option for appliances, and it’s hitting the market in a big way. It offers a cutting-edge look and is easier to keep clean than traditional stainless steel. However, it’s harder to match finishes amongst different brands, so it’s probably only feasible as part of a complete appliance package.

8. Appliance Garages
Appliance garages are counter-level compartments designed to house small appliances like blenders, toasters and stand mixers. They make it convenient to have these items readily accessible, without the look of a cluttered counter.

BATH TRENDS

Expect to see many of the same kitchen design preferences carry over into bathrooms this year, including two-tone cabinets, quartz countertops and brass fixtures.

1. Neutral Tones
Neutral shades will continue to dominate in the master bathroom as homeowners seek a soothing and relaxing retreat atmosphere. But expect to see more options than just white. Shades of brown, grey, blue, green and tan will help to warm things up.

2. Natural Elements
Natural materials are particularly hot right now in bathroom design. This includes the use of wood and stone on walls, cabinets, counters and backsplashes, as well as the incorporation of botanical design elements.

3. Large Tiles
We expect to see a lot more large and slab-sized tiles in bathrooms, which have less grout so they are easier to clean and maintain. Wood-look porcelain tiles are also a favorite in wet areas, as they offer the warmth and rustic appeal of wood with the durability of tile.

4. Stone Sinks
Sinks will continue to be an area where homeowners like to exhibit creativity, and hand-carved stone sinks are especially fashionable right now. These may be more suited to powder rooms, where functionality isn’t as crucial.

5. Freestanding Tubs
There’s been a tub resurgence in bathroom design after years of preference for stand-alone showers. Modern tastes are gravitating toward freestanding tubs that serve as a showpiece for the bathroom.

6. Smart Features
Smart technology has entered the bathroom with the addition of features like wireless shower speakers and high-tech toilets, as well as digital shower controls that automatically adjust to your preferences in temperature and spray intensity.

OUR ADVICE

Style trends come and go, so don’t invest in the latest look unless you love it. That said, highly-personalized or outdated style choices can limit the appeal of your property for resale.

For major renovation projects, it’s always a good idea to stick to neutral colors and classic styles. It will give your remodel longevity and appeal to the greatest number of buyers when it comes time to sell. It will also give you flexibility to update your look in a few years without a total overhaul. Use non-permanent fixtures – like paint, furniture and accent pieces – to personalize the space and incorporate trendier choices.

If you’d like advice on a specific remodelling or design project, give us a call! We’re happy to offer our insights and suggestions on how to maximize your return on investment and recommend local shops and service providers who may be able to assist you.

 

Sources:

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    http://www.countryliving.com/home-design/decorating-ideas/g3988/kitchen-trends
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