What Credit Score Do You Need for a Mortgage?

Seb FreyBlog

According to data from the most recent Origination Insight Report by Ellie Mae, the average FICO® score on closed loans reached 753 in February. As lending standards have tightened recently, many are concerned over whether or not their credit score is strong enough to qualify for a mortgage. While stricter lending standards could be a challenge for some, many buyers may be surprised by the options that are still available for borrowers with lower credit scores. The fact that the average American has seen their credit score go up in recent years is a great sign of financial health. As someone’s score rises, they’re building toward a stronger financial future. As more Americans with strong credit enter the housing market, we see a natural increase in the FICO® score distribution of closed loans, as shown in the graph below:If your credit score is below 750, it’s easy to see this data and fear that you may not be able to qualify for a mortgage. However, that’s not always the case. While the majority of borrowers right now do have a score above 750, there’s more to qualifying for a mortgage than just the credit score, and there are still options that allow people with lower credit scores to buy their dream home. Here’s what Experian, a global leader in consumer and business credit reporting, says: Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans: “With a 3.5% down payment, homebuyers may be able to get an FHA loan with a 580 credit score or higher. If you can manage a 10% down payment, though, … Read More

Americans See Major Home Equity Gains [INFOGRAPHIC]

Seb FreyBlog

Some Highlights Today’s home price appreciation is driving equity higher throughout the country. If your needs are changing and you’re ready for a new home, your equity may be a great asset to power your next move. Now is a great time to put your equity toward a down payment on the home of your dreams.

To Renovate or Not To Renovate Before You Sell

Seb FreyBlog

When thinking about selling, homeowners often feel they need to get their house ready with some remodeling to make it more appealing to buyers. However, with so many buyers competing for available homes right now, renovations may not be as vital as they would be in a more normal market. Here are two things to keep in mind if you’re thinking of selling this season. 1. There aren’t enough homes for sale right now. A normal market has a 6-month supply of houses for sale, but today’s housing inventory sits far below that benchmark. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), there’s only a 1.9-month supply of homes available today. As a result, buyer competition is high and homes are only on the market for about 21 days, during which time many receive multiple offers from hopeful buyers. In a competitive market that’s moving so quickly, it makes sense to sell your house when buyers are scooping homes up as fast as they’re being listed. Spending costly time and money on renovations before you sell might just mean you’ll miss your key window of opportunity. While certain repairs on your house may be important, your best move right now is to work with a real estate advisor to determine which improvements are truly necessary, and which ones are not likely to be deal-breakers for buyers. Today, many buyers are more willing to take on home improvement projects themselves in order to get the home they’re after, even if it means putting in a little extra … Read More

What Is the Strongest Tailwind to Today’s Recovering Economy?

Seb FreyBlog

Last year started off with a bang. Unemployment was under 4%, forecasters were giddy with their projections for the economy, and the residential housing market had the strongest January and February activity in over a decade. Then came the announcement on March 11, 2020, from the World Health Organization declaring COVID-19 a worldwide pandemic. Two days later, the White House declared it a national emergency. Businesses and schools were forced to close, shelter-in-place mandates were enacted, and the economy came to a screeching halt. As a result, unemployment in this country skyrocketed to 14.9%. A year later, the economy is recovering, and the U.S. has regained more than half of the jobs that were originally lost. However, some businesses are still closed, and many schools are still struggling to reopen. Despite the past and current challenges, there is one industry that’s proven to be a tailwind helping to counter all of these headwinds to our economy. That industry is housing. Remarkably, the residential real estate market (including existing homes and new construction) has flourished over the last twelve months. Sales are up, prices are appreciating, and more new homes are being built. The housing market has been a pillar of strength in an otherwise slowly recovering economy. How does the real estate market help the economy? At the beginning of the pandemic, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) released a report that explained: “Real estate has been, and remains, the foundation of wealth building for the middle class and a critical link in the flow of … Read More

What Is the #1 Financial Benefit of Homeownership?

Seb FreyBlog

There are many financial and non-financial benefits of homeownership, and the greatest financial one is wealth creation. Homeownership has always been the first rung on the ladder that leads to forming household wealth. As Freddie Mac explains: “Homeownership has cemented its role as part of the American Dream, providing families with a place that is their own and an avenue for building wealth over time. This ‘wealth’ is built, in large part, through the creation of equity…Building equity through your monthly principal payments and appreciation is a critical part of homeownership that can help you create financial stability.” Odeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist at First American, also notes: “The wealth-building power of homeownership shows that home is not only where your heart is, but also where your wealth is…For the majority of households that transition into homeownership, the most recent data reinforces that housing is one of the biggest positive drivers of wealth creation.” Last week, CoreLogic released their latest Homeowner Equity Insights Report, which reveals the surge in wealth created over the last twelve months through increased home equity. The report makes five key points: Roughly 38% of all homes are mortgage-free The average equity gain of mortgaged homes in the last year was $26,300 The current average equity of mortgaged homes is greater than $200,000 There was a 16.9% increase in total homeowner equity Total homeowner equity reached over $1.5 trillion Here’s a map that shows the equity gains by state:Increasing equity is giving homeowners the power to better manage the challenges of the … Read More

How to Make a Winning Offer on a Home

Seb FreyBlog

Today’s homebuyers are faced with a strong sellers’ market, which means there are a lot of active buyers competing for a relatively low number of available homes. As a result, it’s essential to understand how to make a confident and competitive offer on your dream home. Here are five tips for success in this critical stage of the homebuying process. 1. Listen to Your Real Estate Advisor An article from Freddie Mac gives direction on making an offer on a home. From the start, it emphasizes how trusted professionals can help you stay focused on the most important things, especially at times when this process can get emotional for buyers: “Remember to let your homebuying team guide you on your journey, not your emotions. Their support and expertise will keep you from compromising on your must-haves and future financial stability.” A real estate professional should be the expert guide you lean on for advice when you’re ready to make an offer. 2. Understand Your Finances Having a complete understanding of your budget and how much house you can afford is essential. The best way to know this is to get pre-approved for a loan early in the homebuying process. Only 44% of today’s prospective homebuyers are planning to apply for pre-approval, so be sure to take this step so you stand out from the crowd. Doing so make it clear to sellers you’re a serious and qualified buyer, and it can give you a competitive edge in a bidding war. 3. Be Prepared to Move Quickly According to the latest Realtors … Read More

How to Be a Competitive Buyer in Today’s Housing Market [INFOGRAPHIC]

Seb FreyBlog

Some Highlights With so few houses for sale today, it’s important to be prepared when you’re ready to buy a home. Meeting with your lender early, knowing your must-haves and nice-to-haves, preparing for a bidding war, and keeping your emotions in check are all ways to gain confidence in the homebuying process. If you’re looking for an expert guide to help you navigate today’s lightning-fast housing market, let’s connect today.

Will the Housing Market Bloom This Spring?

Seb FreyBlog

Spring is almost here, and many are wondering what it will bring for the housing market. Even though the pandemic continues on, it’s certain to be very different from the spring we experienced at this time last year. Here’s what a few industry experts have to say about the housing market and how it will bloom this season. Danielle Hale, Chief Economist, realtor.com: “Despite early weakness, we expect to see new listings grow in March and April as they traditionally do heading into spring, and last year’s extraordinarily low new listings comparison point will mean year over year gains. One other potential bright spot for would-be homebuyers, new construction, which has risen at a year over year pace of 20% or more for the last few months, will provide additional for-sale inventory relief.” Ali Wolf, Chief Economist, Zonda: “Some people will feel comfortable listing their home during the first half of 2021. Others will want to wait until the vaccines are widely distributed. This suggests more inventory will be for sale in late 2021 and into the spring selling season in 2022.” Freddie Mac: “Since reaching a low point in January, mortgage rates have risen by more than 30 basis points… However, the rise in mortgage rates over the next couple of months is likely to be more muted in comparison to the last few weeks, and we expect a strong spring sales season.” Mark Fleming, Chief Economist, First American: “As the housing market heads into the spring home buying season, the ongoing supply and demand … Read More

6 Simple Graphs Proving This Is Nothing Like Last Time

Seb FreyBlog

Last March, many involved in the residential housing industry feared the market would be crushed under the pressure of a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic. Instead, real estate had one of its best years ever. Home sales and prices were both up substantially over the year before. 2020 was so strong that many now fear the market’s exuberance mirrors that of the last housing boom and, as a result, we’re now headed for another crash. However, there are many reasons this real estate market is nothing like 2008. Here are six visuals to show the dramatic differences. 1. Mortgage standards are nothing like they were back then. During the housing bubble, it was difficult not to get a mortgage. Today, it’s tough to qualify. Recently, the Urban Institute released their latest Housing Credit Availability Index (HCAI) which “measures the percentage of owner-occupied home purchase loans that are likely to default—that is, go unpaid for more than 90 days past their due date. A lower HCAI indicates that lenders are unwilling to tolerate defaults and are imposing tighter lending standards, making it harder to get a loan. A higher HCAI indicates that lenders are willing to tolerate defaults and are taking more risks, making it easier to get a loan.” The index shows that lenders were comfortable taking on high levels of risk during the housing boom of 2004-2006. It also reveals that today, the HCAI is under 5 percent, which is the lowest it’s been since the introduction of the index. The report explains: “Significant space remains to safely … Read More

How Upset Should You Be about 3% Mortgage Rates?

Seb FreyBlog

Last Thursday, Freddie Mac announced that their 30-year fixed mortgage rate was over 3% (3.02%) for the first time since last July. That news dominated real estate headlines that day and the next. Articles talked about the “negative impact” it may have on the housing market. However, we should realize two things: 1. The bump-up in rate should not have surprised anyone. Many had already projected that rates would rise slightly as we proceeded through the year. 2. Freddie Mac’s comments about the rate increase were not alarming: “The rise in mortgage rates over the next couple of months is likely to be more muted in comparison to the last few weeks, and we expect a strong spring sales season.” A “muted” rise in rates will not sink the real estate market, and most experts agree that it will be “a strong spring sales season.” What does this mean for you? Obviously, any buyer would rather mortgage rates not rise at all, as any upward movement increases their monthly mortgage payment. However, let’s put a 3.02% rate into perspective. Here are the Freddie Mac annual mortgage rates for the last five years: 2016: 3.65% 2017: 3.99% 2018: 4.54% 2019: 3.94% 2020: 3.11% Though 3.02% is not as great as the sub-3% rates we saw over the previous seven weeks, it’s still very close to the all-time low (2.66% in December 2020). And, if we expand our look at mortgage rates to consider the last 50 years, we can see that today’s rate is truly outstanding. Here … Read More