Posts Tagged ‘Atlanta real estate’

Is a Housing Boom Coming?

November 19, 2019

Stephen McBride, a contributor for Forbes magazine, posted an October article titled, “The Biggest Housing Boom In History Has Just Begun.” McBride approaches the subject from an investor perspective, but as someone employed in the home finance world, the article is very relevant to my job.

One of McBride’s sources stated, “The most important driver of home prices is supply and demand.  And right now, there is a chronic undersupply of homes in America.”  Since the late 1950’s, the US has seen an average of 1.5 million homes built annually, according to Census Bureau data.  However, since the Great Recession started in 2008, new home construction has averaged only 900,000 units annually.  That’s a shortfall of 600,000 off the historical annual average for 10 years now.  So we have a cumulative undersupply of 6,000,000 homes relative to historical data.  The article goes on to state, “fewer homes were built in the last decade than any decade since the ’50’s.”

On the demand side, the focus is the Millennial cohort.  The Millennials are the largest generation in American history.  Now the median age of the Millennial cohort is 34.  This historical average age of people buying their first home is 33.  According to the National Association of Realtors, one-third of home buyers are now Millennials.  The article goes on to state that “Every year for the next decade, tens of millions of Millennials will hit home buying age.”

Put these two factors together and you have a tight housing supply coupled with increasing demand.  Supply and demand analysis therefore predicts that home prices will rise.  (This makes me want to buy another house or two!)

I earned my economics degree a long time ago, but the supply and demand basics have not changed.  This appears to be the perfect storm for rising home prices.  And that could mean significant wealth growth for home owners over the next several years.

Want to get into the market now while mortgage rates are near historic lows and before home values start rising quickly again?  Give me a call at Dunwoody Mortgage.  We will get you prequalified quickly and help you close with the best financing for your current situation.  You can buy a home with a minimum 3% to 3.5% down payment and a credit score of 620+.  Now could be the perfect time for you to buy a home.

Home Affordability at its Highest Point in Years

November 1, 2019

According to a recent report by Black Knight, Inc., home affordability reached its best level in years in August 2019.  This follows a consistent decline in home affordability from late 2016 through late 2018.  Home affordability hit a nine-year low in November 2018, as mortgage rates rose to the 5% range.  At that time, the national home payment to income ratio rose to 23.7%.  According to Black Rock, this led to an extended slow down in home price growth.

Since November 2018, mortgage rate declines plus this slower home appreciation has greatly improved home affordability.  The national payment to income ratio has dropped to 20.7%.  This ratio means that the monthly principal and interest (P&I) payment on an average-priced home now requires only 20.7% of the national median income.

Put another way, interest rate declines between November 2018 and August 2019 has increased home buying power by about $46,000. In August 2019, a home buyer would pay the same P&I amount on a $246,000 home mortgage as she would have paid on a $200,000 home mortgage in November 2018.

On the other hand, I found websites and recent articles showing that Atlanta-area rents have risen around 4% in the preceding 12 months.  In short, owning a home in Atlanta has gotten more affordable while renting has gotten more expensive.

Do you rent your home in Georgia?  Has your rent increased making money tight?  Give me a call and let’s talk about mortgage affordability.  You don’t need perfect credit to buy a home, and you will need only a minimum 3% to 3.5% for your down payment.  (Military veterans can obtain VA loans with a 0% down payment.)  With the current low mortgage rates, you might be able to buy more home than you thought you could, for a lower monthly payment than you thought you would have to make.  And with buying a home, you will get the equity / wealth benefits from potential home appreciation.  It’s a GREAT time to buy a home in Georgia!!

Is It Time to Refinance An FHA Mortgage?

October 11, 2019

As discussed previously, using an FHA loan to buy a home makes sense for home buyers with relatively low credit scores and limited down payment funds. FHA loans offer very attractive pricing for these home buyers.

Interest rates have now fallen to their lowest level in three years, so it may be time for current FHA mortgage holders to consider a conventional mortgage refinance. The interest rate savings may not be huge, but changing from FHA mortgage insurance to private mortgage insurance could bring significant financial benefits.

I’m working with a couple now (we’ll call them Jack and Diane) who bought their home in 2017.  At that time, their qualifying credit score was in the mid-600’s and they had just enough cash for the FHA minimum down payment.  This was an ideal scenario for an FHA mortgage.

Fast forward to 2019 – their credit scores have increased and home appreciation in their neighborhood has given them more equity.  A conventional loan now makes sense for their updated situation.  They can refinance to a new interest rate that is just 0.25% less than their current rate.  Normally such a small monthly savings, by itself, does not justify the cost of refinancing.

In addition to the interest rate savings, they will also save money every month with lower mortgage insurance payments.  Switching from their FHA loan to a conventional loan will lower the mortgage insurance monthly premiums by about $120.  Their total monthly savings equal $160, and their refinance has a break-even point of just over two years.  Considering the interest rate savings plus the mortgage insurance savings makes their refinance worthwhile.

An added benefit is that their new private mortgage insurance will cancel in a few years (unlike the FHA insurance which is permanent), increasing their monthly savings to about $200. So, Jack and Diane will realize this bonus savings in just a few years.

Ultimately, home buyers who used an FHA loan two or three years ago may reap big rewards from a conventional refinance now, assuming their property value has increased.

Ron moved into your neighborhood in the last three years or so. At the neighborhood Halloween party, ask Ron if he has heard of an FHA mortgage. If he replies, “Yes, that’s the type of loan I have,” ask him if he would like to lower his monthly payment.  Then connect Ron with me.  We will quickly determine whether moving to a conventional mortgage can help Ron financially.

American Homebuying Power Grows

September 26, 2019

Overall economic circumstances keep improving for potential homebuyers.  First American’s Real House Price Index (RHPI) shows that Americans’ homebuying power increased consistently from January through July 2019.  The index tracks single-family home price changes adjusted for mortgage interest rate changes and personal income changes.

Mortgage interest rates trended downward during the first half of 2019, and they are even lower now compared to mid-year.  First American reported mortgage rates in January were 4.5%, and rates moved into the 3’s over the summer.  Average household income increased over the same time period.

Decreasing mortgage rates combined with increasing household incomes provide a double boost to Americans’ home buying power.  The Index’s “house-buying power” for consumers increased roughly 10% from January through July.  According to First American’s Chief Economist, Mark Fleming, “House-buying power is at the highest it’s been since we began tracking it in 1991.”

That means now is a great time to buy a home!  Even though home prices have been increasing, the decrease in mortgage rates coupled with household income growth make right now the best time to buy a home in almost 30 years, based on the RHPI measures.

Do you have a Georgia friend who complains about a landlord who won’t fix problems?  Let them know that their homebuying power is stronger than it has been in decades, and connect them with me.  I’ll help them obtain the best home mortgage for their unique situation as quickly as possible.  I’ll help your friend take advantage of today’s really low mortgage rates before they increase to 2018 levels or even higher.  Together, we will fire their unresponsive landlord!

Which Type of Mortgage To Use – Scenario 2

August 23, 2019

Now let’s change our buyer scenario. Both Jack and Diane want to make offers on a home, but this time they have 10% to put down. (Curious about a smaller down payment?  Take a look at the prior scenario with a 3.5% down payment.)  They still have the same qualifying credit scores of 680 for Jack and 795 for Diane.

With Jack’s 680 credit score, his monthly payment for a conventional loan (principal, interest, and mortgage insurance “MI”) would be $1,514.30. For a FHA loan, his payment would be $1,452.29. Given Jack’s credit score – even with the 10% down payment – FHA still delivers a better price, even though FHA loans have the draw backs of the up-front MI and the permanent monthly MI (assuming Congress does not change the law).

In this scenario with Jack’s 10% down payment, the mortgage insurance falls off after 11 years (even if Congress doesn’t act). Meaning, the FHA loan becomes even more attractive now and into the future.

With Diane’s 795 credit score, her monthly payment for a conventional loan would only be $1,391.24. Her FHA loan payment would be $1,452.29. (Note that it is the same as Jack’s payment, even though Diane’s credit score is over 100 points better.) In this case, Diane can now save money by using the conventional loan. The conventional loan has the best pricing from the beginning, and it provides the PMI cancellation benefits mentioned in the previous post.

With this example, one can definitely see how FHA loans do not have the same impact when it comes to the interest rate, mortgage insurance, and monthly payment versus conventional loans. Even with such a large gap between the credit scores (680 versus 795), the payment on the FHA loan is the same.

Ultimately, every client situation is unique. For some borrower circumstances (e.g., self-employed, buying a condo, high debt to income ratio, etc.), we may recommend one loan option because the buyer has a better chance to win approval, even if the payment winds up being slightly higher.

Do you know someone planning to buy a home in Georgia?  If they have questions, connect them with me.  I love helping people understand their mortgage options and helping them determine the best approach to financing a home purchase.

Types of Mortgages – Conventional

July 30, 2019

Now let’s take a look at conventional mortgage details.  (Click here to review FHA loan details.  And here is a link to the Home Ready program changes.)

In general, conventional loans are less forgiving of credit issues than are FHA loans.  Conventional loans require longer wait times after derogatory credit events like foreclosure or bankruptcy.  And the borrower’s credit score has a much greater impact on conventional loan pricing versus FHA loans.  The lower one’s credit score, the higher the interest rate.  In some cases, a credit score 100 points lower could cause the borrower’s interest rate to increase by almost one percentage point.

Ultimately, this makes conventional mortgages less attractive to borrowers with lower credit scores and more attractive to those with higher credit scores.

Conventional loans do not require up-front mortgage insurance, but private mortgage insurance (“PMI”) is required for down payments less than 20%.  PMI rates vary based on the borrower’s credit score and down payment.  For the same loan amount, the monthly PMI will be dramatically different for a 690 credit score borrower making a 5% down payment vs. a 780 credit score borrower making a 15% down payment.  PMI is not permanent.  It automatically terminates when the borrower’s loan balance reaches 78% of the original contract price or appraised value (whichever is lower).  And, in certain circumstances, the borrower can request PMI cancellation prior to reaching the 78% threshold.

Borrowers can obtain a conventional loan with a minimum 3% down payment.  This often only makes sense when the borrower’s credit score is 720 or higher.  With a lower score, the PMI cost for a 3% down loan can get pretty expensive.  We often recommend that conventional buyers make a 5% or more down payment to keep PMI costs lower.

Another advantage of conventional loans is the maximum loan amount.  While FHA caps out at a purchase price of around $390,000 using the minimum down payment, conventional loans can go higher.  How much higher?  How about a $500,000 purchase price with a 3% down payment.  That is about 25% higher than the FHA maximum.

In the next posts, we will compare some hypothetical home buyer scenarios to determine which loan is best – conventional or FHA.  Do you know someone who wants to buy a Georgia home?  Please refer them to me.   We Dunwoody Mortgage professionals ask important questions to determine if we can help our clients make slight changes (down payment amount, paying down a credit card balance, etc.) that help them save money with a better interest rate and / or lower PMI premium.  We work hard to deliver excellent service and pricing to our customers, and our consistently positive reviews show our clients are pleased with our work.

 

Buying a Home Earlier Delivers Long Term Wealth Benefits

May 22, 2019


It is common knowledge that many Millennials are delaying “life milestones.”  A recent study by the Urban Institute shows this by documenting the increase in young adults living with their parents.  People often assume that adults living with parents can save more money, better positioning themselves for a home purchase.  But this study reports that although the intentions are positive, the actual economic results tend to be negative.  The study concludes that adults who lived with their parents between ages 25 and 34 were less likely to form independent households and buy homes 10 years later, as compared with young adults who did not live with their parents.  And this result can negatively impact their future wealth.

The study reported that the percent of young adults living with parents almost doubled between 2000 and 2017 – growing from 11.9% to 22%.  This means 5.6 million more young adults live with parents now.  Reasons for this increase include, but are not limited to (1) Student debt – since 2000, student loan debt has more than tripled.  This debt burden makes it harder for young adults to live independently.  (2) Income – adults with lower incomes are more likely to live with parents.  (3) Housing costs – real rents are at historic highs, making it harder for young adults to live independently.  (4) Below average credit – in 2016, the median credit score was 640 for Millennials and 662 for Gen Xers.

So how does this trend affect young adults over time?  Studies show that home ownership is one of the best tools for building wealth.  And UI reports here that the biggest housing investment returns go to adults who bought homes at younger ages.  The study concludes, “our results suggest that living with parents has negative long-term economic consequences.”

As mentioned in a previous blog post, perhaps many of these young adults believe the many untrue myths that stop people from pursuing home ownership.  The fact is, buying a home with a small down payment, below average credit, and other debt can be easier than many people imagine.

Do you have friends in Georgia whose adult children live with them?  Do you know a young co-worker living with his parents?  Perhaps they fear they cannot buy a home because of below average credit scores or limited available cash.  Since the study shows these young adults may wind up better off financially if they buy a home sooner, refer these people to me.  We at Dunwoody Mortgage will do everything we can to help them buy a home and start building their wealth now, positioning them for a better economic future.

Home Sales Sentiment on the Rise

May 1, 2019

Lower than expected mortgage interest rates in the first four months of 2019 have helped drive Fannie Mae’s Home Purchase Sentiment Index (HPSI) to its highest level since June 2018.  Economists and experts have predicted higher mortgage rates for the last few years.  Rates trended higher in 2018 until the stock market volatility happened in November.  Then interest rates declined to below 4.5% and have stayed there for the last few months.  Lower interest rates occurring when potential home buyers expected higher rates translates to great news for home buyers.

HPSI jumped 5.5 points in March to the highest level since last June.  Survey responses considering now a “good time to buy” rose 7% while responses considering now a “good time to sell” rose 13%.  And the study shows that more consumers expect interest rates to decrease further.

Doug Duncan, senior vice president and chief economist at Fannie Mae stated, “The results further corroborate the positive effect of falling mortgage rates on affordability, which we expect will help support a rebound in home sales.”  Duncan further noted, “job confidence…also continues to support housing sentiment, while income growth perceptions firmed from both prior month and year-ago levels, potentially supporting an uptick in housing demand.”  Ultimately, lower interest rates, job confidence, and growing income expectations are fueling the current housing market.

Personally, I am seeing more interested buyers and homes for sale than I have seen since 2016.  That is a great thing.  Ultimately, with the lower rates and positive overall economic news, now is a great time to buy or sell a home.

Do you have a friend who complains about high rent and an inattentive landlord?  Tell her that now is a great time to fire her landlord and start building equity in her own home.  Then have her call me.  We at Dunwoody Mortgage will deliver outstanding mortgage experience along with these great low mortgage rates.

 

 

Atlanta Home Market Update

September 26, 2018


A new report on the Atlanta housing market shows a significant decline in home sales, year over year, along with a much greater decline in Atlanta home sales as compared to the national housing market.  The number of August Atlanta home sales declined 7.1% from 2017 to 2018.  The national decline in home sales was only 1.1% for the same period.  The data shows varying results for different parts of the metro area:

  • Cobb County sales declined 9%
  • DeKalb County sales declined 8%
  • Clayton sales declined 17%
  • Gwinnett County reported a more than 10% sales decline
  • On the other hand, Fulton County sales increased 14%

Atlanta home prices continue to increase, even while the number of sales decrease.  One example of this is the Old Fourth Ward section of Atlanta.  From 2017 to 2018, the number of home sales declined 19%.  But at the same time, average prices in the Old Fourth Ward have risen by about 35%.

Atlanta’s housing challenge is an inventory shortage, especially at the lower end of the home price spectrum.  ReMax reported that the supply of homes listed for sale in metro Atlanta was down 13% in August as compared to August 2017.  Ultimately, buyers compete against each other for desirable homes and this forces prices up.

From my experience, it seems that homes priced under $300,000 have seen strong competition this year.  One client found a home priced around $260,000 in an attractive Gwinnett neighborhood.  My client’s offer was one of about 20 offers on this one house.  Some Realtor friends have told me about making offers on Atlanta condos where the listing agent received 12 – 15 other offers.

It is very tough for buyers to compete in this market.  I have several clients who have decided to put home ownership on hold until 2019.  It takes patience and persistence to keep going.

For pointers on how a lender can help a buyer compete, see this prior Mortgage Blog post:  https://wp.me/p1Gub-YJ.  Buyers should talk with Realtors about other ways to make their offers more attractive.  Effective ideas include:

  1. If cash is available, the buyer can offer to pay the purchase price regardless of the property’s appraised value.
  2. The buyer must have a flexible schedule to visit homes and make offers right when they hit the market.
  3. The buyer can consider writing a personal note to the seller explaining why the house is perfect.  (I’ve seen this work before.)

Experienced Realtors can offer more effective tips for winning the contract.  If you have a friend or coworker wanting to buy a home in Atlanta, ask if they want their lender to help them beyond financing a house by helping win the contract.  Then refer them to me.  We at Dunwoody Mortgage will do all in our power to help them win the contract and close on the purchase, and we will do it quickly too.


How the Lender Can Help Win the Contract

August 14, 2018


The last post covered reasons why we have such a sellers’ market in Atlanta real estate.  Now let’s cover how a lender can help win a contract.  We lenders have a few ways to help strengthen our buyers’ offers relative to competitors.

Firstly, many listing agents prefer to work with local lenders rather than the national and online lenders.  The Realtors also like the ability to communicate with local lenders – they can call us with any issues or questions and often get a faster response than with a national lender.  I once had a Realtor who was listing a home tell me, “We chose your client’s offer because they had a letter from you, and we know that you would make the closing happen on time.”  Trust is important and we local lenders work hard to build that trust in our markets.

Secondly, when my clients make an offer, sometimes the listing agent will call me to verify the information provided in the prequalification letter.  I’m always happy to talk with the agents, and I use this as a chance to actively promote my client’s strengths.  I once took a call from a Realtor on the Saturday of a holiday weekend.  When I answered she immediately responded, “Oh thank goodness!  A lender who works Realtor hours not bankers hours.”  We can be available on weekends and in the evenings to help our buyers.  I have volunteered to proactively call listing agents on my client’s behalf.  It helps to promote my client’s strengths.

The most powerful way a lender can help a buyer win a contract is to underwrite the buyer with a “to be determined” property — before the buyer actually makes an offer.  We fully underwrite the buyer, but without the property-specific details.  So there’s no appraisal, no title work, etc. (until a house is under contract).  This gives the ability to provide a letter stating that underwriting has already approved the borrower.  It also allows us to shorten the closing timeframe (since we don’t have to underwrite the buyer again) and potentially eliminate the financing contingency, which is standard on most home purchase contracts.  Having underwriting approval positions the buyer strongly relative to other offers with only prequalification letters.  The only offer stronger is a cash offer.  In competitive markets expecting multiple offers on listed homes, this approach can position the buyer to better win.

If you have a friend or family member who has been making home purchase offers and is frustrated about not winning, have them contact me.  We at Dunwoody Mortgage will do everything possible (from a lender perspective) to help them win.