Posts Tagged ‘metro Atlanta mortgage’

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.

 

 

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The Impact of Student Loans on Home Purchases

March 20, 2019


Homeownership among people aged 24 through 32 declined 9% between 2005 and 2014.  There are many factors contributing to this trend.  One, obviously, was the Great Recession.  With higher unemployment, people underemployed, and people laid off, those in the 24 – 32 age bracket (just coming out of college) found a difficult labor market.  This caused them to delay their home buying plans.  On top of this, the Federal Reserve recently reported that increasing student loan debt has also lowered home ownership in this age group.

Millennials now carry a collective $1.5 trillion in student loan debt.  A recent Bankrate.com study reports that 31% of millennials (aged 23 – 38) have delayed buying a home because of student loan debt.  According to the study, almost 75% of the survey respondents stated that they have delayed major life financial milestones such as getting married, having children, saving for retirement, creating an emergency fund, and buying a car.

Reading studies like this makes it sound as though student loans are preventing people from qualifying for a home loan  Don’t confuse the ability to qualify for a home purchase versus simply putting off buying a home.  They are not the same.  I’ve helped people purchase a home that suits their budget even with student loan debt hitting six figures.  A potential home buyer will make a housing payment.  If they plan to live in one area for several years and have a good job, why not make a mortgage payment and build wealth instead of paying rent?  Again, they will have a housing payment of some kind.


Here are some loan options that may allow people with student loan debt to buy a home now rather than waiting:

  • 3% down Home Ready and Home Possible mortgages.
  • 3.5% down FHA mortgages.
  • 0% down VA mortgages for military veterans.
  • 3% down conventional mortgages.

To me, the report’s most eye-opening statement is this:  77% of millennials with student loan debt would approach college differently if they could go back and change it.  The respondents stated that they would apply for more scholarships or enroll in less expensive universities or colleges.

Do you have a friend or family member who thinks they cannot buy a home due to their student loan debt?  If so, refer them to me.  I will analyze their income and debts relative to all loan programs and help them chart the fastest course to home ownership.  With the many loan programs available, they might be able to buy now.


Recasting a mortgage

February 25, 2019

My recent post discussed ways in which a buyer can make a non-contingent offer on a home in this competitive seller’s market. I mentioned recasting as an option to consider if a buyer could only make a minimum down payment on the new home if they don’t sell their current home. Having the mortgage recast later is a good way to get around not making a large down payment when going through the buying/selling process in reverse order (buying the new home and then selling the current home instead of selling then buying). What does recast mean?

A recast is a feature most loan servicers allow where remaining payments are recalculated based on the new principal balance. This is often done after a significant principal reduction takes place on the loan. A recast is a cheaper alternative than simply refinancing. If today’s mortgage rates are higher than the rate on the home owners current mortgage, then a recast would be a very good option should one make a large principal reduction and want to lower the monthly payment.

Here is an example of recasting. My client wants to purchase a new home without selling her current home. This way she makes a non-contingent offer to buy her new home. Ideally, my client would love to make a 20% down payment, but the money for the down payment is tied up as equity in her current home. All she could afford to do right now is 5% down. The purchase price is $400,000 with 5% down, so the loan amount is $380,000. This makes a monthly mortgage payment of $1,870 (not including taxes/insurance/PMI). My client buys the new home, then sells the current home. She now has an extra $100,000 to pay down the mortgage balance on her new home.

The new loan amount is $280,000, which is great! But… since this is a fixed rate loan, the monthly payment is still $1,870. Now she contacts her loan servicer and requests a recast of mortgage. The rate is the same, but the principal balance is much lower. When the loan is recast, now the payment drops to $1,377. This is how my client can purchase her new home without selling her current home first AND eventually get the payment to reflect the new loan amount.

Looking to buy a home in the state of Georgia, want to make a non-contingent offer, and recast later, contact me today. In just a few minutes, I can have you well on your way to make an offer on a home.

Also, a note to existing home owners who want to recast their loan. Be sure to contact your loan servicer before making the large principal reduction. You want to make sure the loan servicer will allow a recast. You also want to know the steps they want you to take to complete it. Perhaps they want you to complete a form and start the recast request prior to making the large principal reduction. Every loan servicer is different, so be sure to contact them to know exactly how they want you to go about it.

VA Mortgage Volume Grows (Again)

December 28, 2018

For the seventh straight year, the number of homes purchased using VA mortgages has increased.  VA home purchase loan volume has increased dramatically in the last five years – up 59%.  610,000 VA home loans have been closed in the current fiscal year, generating $161 billion in loan volume.  According to Chris Birk, director of education at Veterans United, “More Veterans have used this $0 down loan in the last five years than in the prior dozen years combined.”  VA loans now comprise about 10% of the residential mortgage market.

Many experts consider the VA loan to be the “most powerful home loan on the market.”  One key reason – low interest rates.  Industry researchers report that VA loans have consistently had the lowest interest rates for 53 straight months.  A second key reason – veterans can obtain a loan with a zero down payment.  That enables many veterans to buy now instead of waiting several years while saving money for another loan program’s minimum down payment.  A third reason – VA loans require no monthly mortgage insurance payment.  Combining these three factors can make a home purchase much more affordable for American military veterans.

 

 

Given the many VA loan benefits, any veteran considering a home purchase should investigate the VA loan option.  The first question a veteran should ask is, “Do I qualify for a VA loan.”  A prior Mortgage Blog post from 2016 addresses this question in detail.  See the post, VA Loans:  How to Qualify, by Clay Jeffreys.  The key update to this post is that the 2019 VA loan limit will be $484,350, as opposed to the $417,000 amount valid in 2016.  A quick summary is that VA loans are available to the following people:

  • People who were on active duty for 90+ days during wartime.
  • People who were on active duty for 181+ days during peacetime.
  • People who served 6+ years in the National Guard or Reserves.
  • Spouse of a service person who died in combat OR resulting from a service related disability.
  • Some people who have served as public health officers or in the Coast Guard.

To qualify, veterans must submit service related documents to the VA, which then provides a Certificate of Eligibility (“COE”) to the mortgage lender.  For example, active duty personnel submit the military form DD-214 to obtain the COE.  The VA requires different documents for National Guard and Reserves personnel.

Instead of standard monthly mortgage insurance, the VA charges a funding fee, based on the home buyer’s service record and down payment percentage.  The lender simply adds the funding fee to the loan balance.  See the post, VA Loans:  Funding Fee, by Clay Jeffreys for a more detailed funding fee explanation.

Do you know a veteran considering a Georgia home purchase?  We at Dunwoody Mortgage love helping veterans buy homes.  We deliver these great VA loan benefits with the excellence service all Dunwoody Mortgage customers receive.  Tell veterans you know to call me.  We will treat them with the honor, respect, and excellence they deserve.


Generation Z is Preparing to Buy Homes

December 13, 2018

A recent study by realtor.com shows that Generation Z (ages 18 – 24) members show their strong home ownership desire because they prepare financially for a home purchase.  The study reports that Gen Z-ers are twice as likely as the previous generations to be saving or plan to be saving for a home purchase by age 25.   The study also noted that 40% of Gen Z-ers plan to become home owners by age 25.  These young people desire to buy homes at rates similar to Millennials and Gen X-er’s, but Gen Z-er’s have started saving sooner than prior generations.

The study shows that 79 percent are certain that they want to own a home, a level similar to the preceding generations.  Only 4 percent of this young generation say they do not want to buy a home.  The striking difference lies in the fact that, by age twenty-five, 74 percent have either started saving or plan to start saving for a home purchase.  Only 33 percent of the prior generations matched this saving discipline.  Some economists speculate that their graduating into one of the best labor markets in decades has given Gen Z-er’s a savings boost.

Other interesting details reported include:

  • Gen Z shows the least home-buying desire for investment or tax savings purposes (29 percent and 16 percent, respectively).
  • The top two reason for Gen Z home purchases are:
    • Customizing their own living space at 61 percent.
    • Raising a family in a home they own at 55 percent.

Great loan programs exist that can help young home buyers (older buyers, too) buy houses for as little as 3 percent down, and with interest rate and mortgage insurance discounts.  And military veterans can obtain VA loans with no down payment.  So young buyers who have started saving may be able to buy a home sooner than they think.

Do you know a young professional who talks about buying a home – perhaps a coworker or a niece or nephew?  Or has a friend with an adult child mentioned their kid’s home buying plans?  If so, please refer them to me.  If they are ready to buy now, we at Dunwoody Mortgage will get them into a home with a great loan that fits their needs.  If they are not ready to buy right now, we will coach them and help them to best prepare for their home purchase.  We love working with young (and older) home buyers.


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.

 

Government impact on housing

August 7, 2018

Sometimes the government gets involved in areas, and things get worse. Here is one area where inaction would be really bad – flood insurance.

On the last possible day, Congress avoided a lapse in the federal flood insurance program when the Senate voted to extend the program through the end of November. The National Flood Insurance Program would have expired July 31 without this action. So the program has been extended, but still doesn’t include any reforms to the program. Despite years of debate and proposals to reform the program, reforms have stalled. In lieu of any changes, Congress has kicked the can down the road another few months. We’ll get to do all of this again in a few months.

This isn’t a case of “they’ll do anything to prevent a lapse of flood insurance coverage.” Congress has let the national flood insurance program lapse some in the past few years. Here is hoping the next change/extension/reform won’t be at the very last minute, but something tells me it will be.

In other mortgage news from the government, it appears the current set up for FHA mortgage insurance will remain the same. There will be no decrease in the monthly premium AND the insurance will still be permanent for the life of the loan.  FHA’s insurance program works differently from private mortgage insurance, which typically falls off after a certain amount of time.

The FHA’s policy wasn’t always this way. The FHA’s previous policy required borrowers to pay mortgage insurance premiums until the outstanding principal balance reaches 78% of the original home value, but the FHA instituted the life of loan policy back in 2013. This action was part of the effort to improve the status of their mortgage insurance fund. While there were some good years of rebuilding the fund, the decline of the funds balance in 2017 caused FHA to pause in potential changes to mortgage insurance.

Currently, the mortgage insurance is so high on FHA loans that it rarely makes sense for a borrower to consider using an FHA loan unless they have really low credit and/or a very high debt threshold. Good credit, low debt, but short on the down payment? Conventional loans allow only a 3% down payment (compared to FHA’s 3.5% down payment). Hopefully FHA can update their mortgage insurance policy in the near future to provide more options for well qualified borrowers.

Looking to buy a home before the end of the year? Ready to have a new home for the holidays?!? If you are purchasing in Georgia, contact me today. I’ll get you ready to make an offer in one quick phone call.

A Seller’s Market – Thoughts on Why

July 26, 2018


The seller’s market continues on in the Atlanta area.  I have recently heard Realtors talking about their clients making offers on homes that have 12 – 15 competing offers.  One Realtor friend told me about a home that he listed last December.  The Realtor did painstaking research on the neighborhood and comparable properties.  The analysis said a fair price was $299,000.  The winning offer was $355,000!  That’s about 18% over the asking price.

So how did we get to this point?  According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, one key factor is that for over 10 years now, home construction has not kept pace with US population growth.  The article stated that current home construction per household is close to its lowest level in 60 years – since the late 1950’s.  In years past, this lower construction level was somewhat offset by the number of foreclosed homes available for purchase.  But that is no longer the case as foreclosure rates have decreased dramatically since the Great Recession.

In the Atlanta metro area, this housing “shortage” is compounded by population growth.  The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported in June that the metro area’s recent annual population growth of 1.5% exceeds the rates for eight of the top ten US metro areas.  With this growth rate, Atlanta is on pace to surpass the population of Philadelphia by 2022, becoming the eight most populous city in the country.

See the source image

All of this affects the mentality of a big group of potential home buyers.  They currently own a home, and they want to move to meet the needs of a growing family or shorten their commute.  But their income level will not support two mortgages, so their offers must be contingent on selling their current home.  That creates two problems.  The first is that sellers can choose from multiple offers and they are much more likely to choose a non-contingent offer than a contingent one.  Secondly, these would-be home buyers are very reluctant to list their current home without having a new home under contract.  And it makes sense – they don’t want to sell their current house and not be able to buy a new one.  Let’s face it…moving stinks, and having to move twice stinks twice as much.  So many would-be home buyers are “sitting on the sidelines,” waiting for the market to get less competitive before they seriously look for homes.

Dunwoody Mortgage can actually help our clients better position themselves to win competitive home purchase situations.  You ask, “How can the lender help the buyer win a contract?”  I’ll tell you…in the next blog post.  If you or someone you know wants to buy a house and doesn’t have time to wait for the next post, call me.  I would love to tell you how Dunwoody Mortgage can help home buyers win in this sellers market.


Study Shows Financial Benefits of Home Ownership – Part 2

April 11, 2018

When considering a home purchase, people generally like to have some data to analyze the pros and cons.  Luckily for you, I found a recent study that discusses some of these details.  Also luckily for you, I read it so you don’t have to read it!  You can find a link to the report below, but let’s hit some of the highlights.

The homeownership study by Laurie S. Goodman and Christopher Mayer (https://www.urban.org/research/publication/homeownership-and-american-dream) first concludes that financial returns for a home purchase in a “normal” market are “strong” and typically outperform the stock market.  Goodman and Mayer analyzed home (not apartment) rental data from Zillow, national home ownership cost data from the American Housing Survey (plus other sources for local market data), along with home sales price data.   Their analysis begins by assuming a home purchase at the end of 2002, prior to significant home price increases in 2003 – 2006 followed by the decline in the 2007 – 2012 years (If you want more details, you can see of yourself using the link above on pages 44-45).

The authors go on to explain how they compare the costs of renting a house versus the costs and equity appreciation vs. tax benefits of home ownership.  I’ll let you chew through the details.  They provide a detailed table analyzing multiple years of home ownership relative to other potential investments.  It is very interesting to look at the details on an annual basis over the study’s time frame.  (You can find this information on pages 45 – 46).

(Perhaps a home is not best for everyone)

Ultimately, the authors conclude (page 47) that owning a house “appears to be generally financially advantageous relative to renting, regardless of whether a home buyer itemizes deductions.”  Another key finding reads, “Including the value of deductions, the homebuyer would have outperformed all the alternative investments in all years.”  Note that they report buyers who did not itemize would show a few years of underperforming a comparative index.

As a mortgage lender, I wish there were additional analysis using returns for down payments of less than 20% (the authors’ assumption), as many of my clients do make smaller down payments.  I also find it interesting to consider the “holding period” of home ownership relative to the changes in property values seen during the period of 2008 through 2016.  Bottom line, it really helps the home owner’s return when property values appreciate – no duh, right?

More details to come in a future post.  For now, do you know someone considering buying a Georgia home in the next 3 months?  Are they thinking about renewing a lease?  If so, forward this post to them and ask them to call me.  We can discuss the financial pros and cons of their decision.  If they elect to buy, we at Dunwoody Mortgage will take great care of them and work hard to make their mortgage experience great.