For many Americans, a dream and common goal is owning a home: a piece of land, a roof over our heads, and a place where we can grow and flourish.

If you’re dreaming of buying a home this year, start by connecting with a local real estate professional to understand what goes into the process. With a trusted advisor at your side, you can then begin to answer the questions below to set yourself up for homebuying success.

1. How Can I Better Understand the Process, and How Much Can I Afford?

The process of buying a home is not one to enter into lightly. You need to decide on key things like how long you plan on living in an area, school districts you prefer, what kind of commute works for you, and how much you can afford to spend.

Keep in mind, before you start the process to purchase a home, you’ll also need to apply for a mortgage. Lenders will evaluate several factors connected to your financial track record, one of which is your credit history. They’ll want to see how well you’ve been able to minimize past debts, so make sure you’ve been paying your student loans, credit cards, and car loans on time. If your financial situation has changed recently, be sure to discuss that with your lender as well. Most agents have loan officers they trust and will provide referrals for you.

According to ConsumerReports.org:

“Financial planners recommend limiting the amount you spend on housing to 25 percent of your monthly budget.”

2. How Much Do I Need for a Down Payment?

In addition to knowing how much you can afford on a monthly mortgage payment, understanding how much you’ll need for a down payment is another critical step. Thankfully, there are many different options and resources in the market to potentially reduce the amount you may think you need to put down.

If you’re concerned about saving for a down payment, start small and be consistent. A little bit each month goes a long way. Jumpstart your savings by automatically adding a portion of your monthly paycheck into a separate savings account or house fund. AmericaSaves.org says:

“Over time, these automatic deposits add up. For example, $50 a month accumulates to $600 a year and $3,000 after five years, plus interest that has compounded.”

Before you know it, you’ll have enough for a down payment if you’re disciplined and thoughtful about your process.

3. Saving Takes Time: Practice Living on a Budget

As tempting as it is to pass the extra time you may be spending at home these days with a little retail therapy, putting that extra money toward your down payment will help accelerate your path to homeownership. It’s the little things that count, so start trying to live on a slightly tighter budget if you aren’t doing so already. A budget will allow you to save more for your down payment and help you pay down other debts to improve your credit score.

A survey of millennial spending shows, “68% reported that shelter in place orders helped them save for their down payment.” Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at realtor.com, also notes:

“If there is any silver lining to the current economic landscape, it’s that mortgage rates are hanging around record lows…Additionally, shelter-in-place orders helped many who were fortunate enough to keep their jobs save for a down payment — one of the largest hurdles of buying a home. The combination of low rates and the opportunity to save is enabling many millennials to move up their home buying timeline.”

While you don’t need to cut all of the extras out of your current lifestyle, making smarter choices and limiting your spending in areas where you can slim down will make a big difference.

Bottom Line

If homeownership is on your dream list this year, take a good look at what you can prioritize to help you get there. To determine the steps you should take to start the process, let’s connect today.

Two Reasons We Won’t See a Rush of Foreclosures This Fall | MyKCM

The health crisis we face as a country has led businesses all over the nation to reduce or discontinue their services altogether. This pause in the economy has greatly impacted the workforce and as a result, many people have been laid off or furloughed. Naturally, that would lead many to believe we might see a rush of foreclosures like we saw in 2008. The market today, however, is very different from 2008.

The concern of more foreclosures based on those that are out of work is one that we need to understand fully. There are two reasons we won’t see a rush of foreclosures this fall: forbearance extension options and strong homeowner equity.

1. Forbearance Extension

Forbearance, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), is when your mortgage servicer or lender allows you to temporarily pay your mortgage at a lower payment or pause paying your mortgage.” This is an option for those who need immediate relief. In today’s economy, the CFPB has given homeowners a way to extend their forbearance, which will greatly assist those families who need it at this critical time.

Under the CARES Act, the CFPB notes:

 “If you experience financial hardship due to the coronavirus pandemic, you have a right to request and obtain a forbearance for up to 180 days. You also have the right to request and obtain an extension for up to another 180 days (for a total of up to 360 days).” 

2. Strong Homeowner Equity

Equity is also working in favor of today’s homeowners. This savings is another reason why we won’t see substantial foreclosures in the near future. Today’s homeowners who are in forbearance actually have more equity in their homes than what the market experienced in 2008.

The Mortgage Monitor report from Black Knight indicates that of all active forbearances which are past due on their mortgage payment, 77% have at least 20% equity in their homes (See graph below):Two Reasons We Won’t See a Rush of Foreclosures This Fall | MyKCMBlack Knight notes:

“The high level of equity provides options for homeowners, policymakers, mortgage investors and servicers in helping to avoid downstream foreclosure activity and default-related losses.”

Bottom Line

Many think we may see a rush of foreclosures this fall, but the facts just don’t add up in this case. Today’s real estate market is very different from 2008 when we saw many homeowners walk away when they owed more than their homes were worth. This time, equity is stronger and plans are in place to help those affected weather the storm.

Homeownership Rate Continues to Rise in 2020 | MyKCM

So far, it’s been quite a ride this year, and our nation has truly seen its fair share of hurdles. From COVID-19 to record unemployment and then the resulting recession, just to name a few, the second quarter of 2020 has had more than a few challenges. Amidst the many roadblocks, however, the U.S. homeownership rate rose again, signaling great strength in the recovery of the housing market and an indication that even in a time of crisis, Americans still feel confident about buying a home.

Yesterday, the U.S. Census Bureau announced:

“The homeownership rate of 67.9 percent was 3.8 percentage points higher than the rate in the second quarter 2019 (64.1 percent) and 2.6 percentage points higher than the rate in the first quarter 2020 (65.3 percent).”

Homeownership Rate Continues to Rise in 2020 | MyKCMThe increase is also represented by race and ethnicity of the householder:Homeownership Rate Continues to Rise in 2020 | MyKCMThere are many reasons why the homeownership rate in this country is rising, and one of the key factors is historically-low mortgage rates. Rates hovering at all-time lows are helping to drive affordability and enabling more potential homeowners to enter the market today. According to Ralph McLaughlin, Chief Economist for Haus:

“Mortgage rates are the icing on the cake for households that were thinking about buying…They found an unexpected opportunity during the worst economic downturn America has seen since the Great Depression.”

In addition, many potential homebuyers have been using their time this year to search for homes that offer more space than their current rental apartments. Many of these homebuyers are younger and, as noted by Odeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist at First American, are the buyers driving the homeownership rate in an upward direction:

“Big jump in the homeownership rate today, mostly driven by younger households. We saw a spike in the number of owners, and a decline in the number of renters. This is the highest rate of homeownership since 2008.”

This growth is outstanding news for the housing market and for those who have recently found their new homes. If homeownership is on your shortlist this year, maybe now is a great time to meet with a real estate professional to evaluate your current situation. Perhaps historically low mortgage rates can help you to become a homeowner too.

Bottom Line

If you’re thinking of buying a home this year, let’s connect today to take your dream one step closer to reality.

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Announcement from the census: As a result of the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19), data collection operations for the CPS/HVS were affected during the second quarter of 2020. In-person interviews were suspended for the duration of the second quarter and replaced with telephone interview attempts when contact information was available. If the Field Representative was unable to get information on the sample unit, the unit was made a Type A no interview (no one home, refusal, etc.). See the FAQ for more information.

Experts Weigh-In on the Remarkable Strength of the Housing Market | MyKCM

America has faced its share of challenges in 2020. A once-in-a-lifetime pandemic, a financial crisis leaving millions still unemployed, and an upcoming presidential election that may prove to be one of the most contentious in our nation’s history all continue to test this country in unimaginable ways.

Even with all of that uncertainty, the residential real estate market continues to show great resilience. Here’s a look at what the experts have said about the housing market over the past few weeks.

Ivy Zelman, CEO of Zelman & Associates:

“Whether in terms of pending contract activity or our proprietary buyer demand ratings, the various measures of demand captured in this month’s survey can only be described as shockingly strong, in spite of the resurgence in COVID-19 cases.”

Logan Mohtashami, Lead Housing Analyst at HousingWire:

“Existing home sales are still down year over year by 11.3%, but as crazy as this might sound, we have a shot at getting positive year-over-year growth…We may see an existing home sales print of 5,510,000 in 2020.”

Matthew Speakman, Zillow Economist:

“In a remarkable show of resilience, the housing market has stared the pandemic right in the eye and hasn’t blinked.”

Todd Teta, Chief Product Officer for ATTOM Data Solutions:

“The housing market across the United States pulled something of a high-wire act in the second quarter, surging forward despite the encroaching economic headwinds resulting from the Coronavirus pandemic.”

Ali Wolf, Chief Economist of Meyers Research:

“The housing recovery has been nothing short of remarkable. The expectation was that housing would be crushed. It was—for about two months—and then it came roaring back.”

Clare Trapasso, Senior News Editor of realtor.com:

“Despite the crippling and ongoing coronavirus pandemic, millions out of work, a recession, a national reckoning over systemic racism, and a highly contentious presidential election just around the corner, the residential real estate market is staging an astonishing rebound.”

Bill Banfield, EVP of Capital Markets at Quicken Loans:

“The pandemic has not stopped the consistent home price growth we have witnessed in recent years.”

Economic & Strategic Research Group at Fannie Mae:

Recent home purchase measures have continued to show remarkable strength, leading us to revise upward our home sales forecast, particularly over the third quarter. Similarly, we bumped up our expectations for home price growth and purchase mortgage originations.”

Mark Fleming, Chief Economist at First American:

“It seems hard to deny that when one looks at many of the housing market statistics, a “V” shape is quite apparent.”

Bottom Line

The experts seem to agree that residential real estate is doing remarkably well. If you’re thinking of jumping into the housing market (whether buying or selling), this may be the perfect time.

How Is Remote Work Changing Homebuyer Needs? | MyKCM

With more companies figuring out how to efficiently and effectively enable their employees to work remotely (and for longer than most of us initially expected), homeowners throughout the country are re-evaluating their needs. Do I still need to live close to my company’s office building? Do I need a larger home with more office space? Would making a move to the suburbs make more sense for my family? All of these questions are on the table for many Americans as we ride the wave of the current health crisis and consider evolving homeownership needs.

According to George Ratiu, Senior Economist for realtor.com:

“The ability to work remotely is expanding home shoppers’ geographic options and driving their motivation to buy, even if it means a longer commute, at least in the short term…Although it’s too early to tell what long-term impact the COVID-era of remote work will have on housing, it’s clear that the pandemic is shaping how people live and work under the same roof.” 

Working remotely is definitely changing how Americans spend their time at home, and also how they use their available square footage. Homeowners aren’t just looking for a room for a home office, either. The desire to have a home gym, an updated kitchen, and more space in general – indoor and outdoor – are all key factors motivating some buyers to change their home search parameters.

A recent realtor.com-HarrisX survey indicates:

“In a June poll of 2,000 potential home shoppers who indicated plans to make a purchase in the next year, 63% of those currently working from home stated their potential purchase was a result of their ability to work remotely, while nearly 40% [of] that number expected to purchase a home within four to six months and 13% said changes related to pandemic fueled their interest in buying a new home.

Clearly, Americans are thinking differently about homeownership today, and through a new lens. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) notes:

“New single-family home sales jumped in June, as housing demand was supported by low interest rates, a renewed consumer focus on the importance of housing, and rising demand in lower-density markets like suburbs and exurbs.”

Through these challenging times, you may have found your home becoming your office, your children’s classroom, your workout facility, and your family’s safe haven. This has quickly shifted what home truly means to many American families. More than ever, having a place to focus on professional productivity while many competing priorities (and distractions!) are knocking on your door is challenging homeowners to get creative, use space wisely, and ultimately find a place where all of these essential needs can realistically be met. In many cases, a new home is the best option.

In today’s real estate market, making a move while mortgage rates are hovering at historic lows may enable you to purchase more home for your money, just when you and your family need it most.

Bottom Line

If your personal and professional needs have changed and you’re ready to accommodate all of your family’s competing priorities, let’s connect today. Making a move into a larger home may be exactly what you need to set your family up for optimal long-term success.