Marilyn Balchan

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Lowest Mortgage Rates in History: What It Means for Homeowners and Buyers

Posted On: September 3rd, 2020 8:49PM

In July, the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell below 3% for the first time in history.1 And while many Americans have rushed to take advantage of this unprecedented opportunity, others question the hype. Are today’s rates truly a bargain?

 Lowest Mortgage Rates

While average mortgage rates have drifted between 4% and 5% in recent years, they haven’t always been so low. Freddie Mac began tracking 30-year mortgage rates in 1971. At that time, the national average was 7.31%.2 As the rate of inflation started to rise in the mid-1970s, mortgage rates surged. It’s hard to imagine now, but the average U.S. mortgage rate reached a high of 18.63% in 1981.3

 

Fortunately for home buyers, inflation normalized by October 1982, which sent mortgage rates on a downward trajectory that would bring them as low as 3.31% in 2012.3 Since 2012, 30-year fixed rates have risen modestly, with the daily average climbing as high as 4.94% in 2018.4

 

So what’s causing today’s rates to sink to unprecedented lows? Economic uncertainty.

 

Mortgage rates generally follow bond yields, because the majority of U.S. mortgages are packaged together and sold as bonds. As the coronavirus pandemic continues to dampen the economy and inject volatility into the stock market, a growing number of investors are shifting their money into low-risk bonds. Increased demand has driven bond yields—and mortgage rates—down.5

 

However, according to National Association of Realtors Chief Economist Lawrence Yun, “the number one driver of low mortgage rates is the accommodating Federal Reserve stance to keep interest rates low and to buy up mortgage-backed securities.” According to Yun, “we will see mortgage rates stay near this level for the next 18 months because of the significance of the Fed’s stance.”6

 

 

HOW DO LOW MORTGAGE RATES BENEFIT CURRENT HOMEOWNERS?

 

Low mortgage rates increase buyer demand, which is good news for sellers. But what if you don’t have any plans to sell your home? Can current homeowners benefit from falling mortgage rates? Yes, they can!

 

A growing number of homeowners are capitalizing on today’s rock-bottom rates by refinancing their existing mortgages. In fact, refinance applications have surged over the past few months—and for a good reason.7 Reduced interest rates can save homeowners a bundle on both monthly payments and total payments over the lifetime of a mortgage.

 

The chart below illustrates the potential savings when you decrease your mortgage rate by just one percentage point. When it comes to refinancing, the bigger the spread, the greater the savings.

 

Estimated Monthly Payment On a 30-Year Fixed-Rate Mortgage

 

Loan Amount

4.0%

3.0%

Monthly Savings

Savings Over 30 Years

$100,000

$477

$422

$55

$20,093

$200,000

$955

$843

$112

$40,184

$300,000

$1,432

$1,265

$167

$60,277

$400,000

$1,910

$1,686

$224

$80,368

$500,000

$2,387

$2,108

$279

$100,461

 

 

Be sure to factor in any prepayment penalties on your current mortgage and closing costs for your new mortgage. For a refinance, expect to pay between 2% to 5% of your loan amount.8 You can divide your closing costs by your monthly savings to find out how long it will take to recoup your investment, or use an online refinance calculator. For a more precise calculation of your potential savings, we’d be happy to connect you with a mortgage professional in our network who can help you decide if refinancing is a good option for you.

 

 

HOW DO LOW MORTGAGE RATES BENEFIT HOME BUYERS?

 

We’ve already shown how low rates can save you money on your mortgage payments. But they can also give a boost to your budget by increasing your purchasing power. For example, imagine you have a budget of $1,500 to put toward your monthly mortgage payment. If you take out a 30-year mortgage at 5.0%, you can afford a loan of $279,000.

 

Now let’s assume the mortgage rate falls to 4.0%. At that rate, you can afford to borrow $314,000 while still keeping the same $1,500 monthly payment. That’s a budget increase of $35,000!

 

If the rate falls even further to 3.0%, you can afford to borrow $355,000 and still pay the same $1,500 each month. That’s $76,000 over your original budget! All because the interest rate fell by two percentage points.If you’ve been priced out of the market before, today’s low rates may put you in a better position to afford your dream home.

 

On the other hand, rising mortgages rates will erode your purchasing power. Wait to buy, and you may have to settle for a smaller home in a less-desirable neighborhood. So if you’re planning to move, don’t miss out on the phenomenal discount you can get with today’s historically-low rates.

 

 

HOW LOW COULD MORTGAGE RATES GO?

 

No one can say with certainty how low mortgage rates will fall or when they will rise again. A lot will depend on the trajectory of the pandemic and subsequent economic impact.

 

Forecasters at Freddie Mac and the Mortgage Bankers Association predict 30-year mortgage rates will average 3.2% and 3.5% respectively in 2021.9,10 However, economists at Fannie Mae expect them to dip even lower to an average of 2.8% next year.11

 

Still, many experts agree that those who wait to take advantage of these unprecedented rates could miss out on the deal of a lifetime. “With rates now at all-time historic lows, it’s hard to imagine that people may be holding out for something even better," warns Paul Buege, president and COO of Inlanta Mortgage.12 Positive news about a vaccine or a faster-than-expected economic recovery could send rates back up to pre-pandemic levels.

 

 

HOW CAN I SECURE THE BEST AVAILABLE MORTGAGE RATE?

 

While the average 30-year mortgage rate is hovering around 3%, you can do a quick search online and find advertised rates that are even lower. But these ultra-low mortgages are typically reserved for only prime borrowers. So what steps can you take to secure the lowest possible rate?

 

1.     Consider a 15-Year Mortgage Term

 

Lock in an even lower rate by opting for a 15-year mortgage.If you can afford the higher monthly payment, a shorter mortgage term can save you a bundle in interest, and you’ll pay off your home in half the time.13

 

2.     Give Your Credit Score a Boost

 

The economic downturn has made lenders more cautious. These days, you’ll probably need a credit score of at least 740 to secure their lowest rates.14 While there’s no fast fix for bad credit, you can take steps to help your score before you apply for a loan:15

?      Dispute inaccuracies on your credit report.

?      Pay your bills on time, and catch up on any missed payments.

?      Hold off on applying for new credit.

?      Pay off debt, and keep balances low on your credit cards.

?      Don’t close unused credit cards (unless they’re charging you an annual fee).

 

3.     Make a Large Down Payment

 

The more equity you have in a home, the less likely you are to default on your mortgage. That’s why lenders offer better rates to borrowers who make a sizable down payment. Plus, if you put down at least 20%, you can avoid paying for private mortgage insurance.

 

4.     Pay for Points

 

Discount points are fees paid to the mortgage company in exchange for a lower interest rate. At a cost of 1% of the loan amount, they aren’t cheap. But the investment can pay off over the long-term in interest savings.

 

5.     Shop Around

 

Rates, terms, and fees can vary widely amongst mortgage providers, so do your homework. Contact several lenders to find out which one is willing to offer you the best overall deal. But be sure to complete the process within 45 days—or else the credit inquiries by multiple mortgage companies could have a negative impact on your credit score.16

 

 

READY TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE LOWEST MORTGAGE RATES IN HISTORY?

 

Mortgage rates have never been this low. Don’t miss out on your chance to lock in a great rate on a new home or refinance your existing mortgage. Either way, we can help.

 

We’d be happy to connect you with the most trusted mortgage professionals in our network. And if you’re ready to start shopping for a new home, we’d love to assist you with your search—all at no cost to you! Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

 

The above references an opinion and is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be financial advice. Consult a financial professional for advice regarding your individual needs.

 

 

Sources:

1.     CNN Business -
https://www.cnn.com/2020/07/16/success/30-year-mortgage-rates-record-low/index.html

2.     Freddie Mac -
http://www.freddiemac.com/pmms/pmms30.html)

3.     Value Penguin -
https://www.valuepenguin.com/mortgages/historical-mortgage-rates

4.     Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis -
https://fred.stlouisfed.org/graph/?g=NUh

5.     Bankrate -
https://www.bankrate.com/mortgages/how-interest-rates-are-set/

6.     Washington Post -
https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/06/25/mortgage-rate-remains-historic-low/

7.     Yahoo! Finance -
https://finance.yahoo.com/news/mortgage-refinancing-makes-big-comeback-151500346.html

8.     Bankrate -
https://www.bankrate.com/mortgages/is-no-closing-cost-for-you/

9.     Freddie Mac June 2020 Quarterly Forecast -
http://www.freddiemac.com/fmac-resources/research/pdf/202006-Forecast.pdf

10.   Mortgage Bankers Association Mortgage Market Forecast July 15, 2020 -
https://www.mba.org/news-research-and-resources/research-and-economics/forecasts-and-commentary

11.   Fannie Mae July 2020 Housing Forecast -
https://www.fanniemae.com/resources/file/research/emma/pdf/Housing_Forecast_071420.pdf

12.   Washington Post -
https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/06/25/mortgage-rate-remains-historic-low/

13.   Investopedia -
https://www.investopedia.com/articles/personal-finance/042015/comparison-30year-vs-15year-mortgage.asp

14.   Money -
https://money.com/mortgage-rates-below-three-percent/

15.   Experian -
https://www.experian.com/blogs/ask-experian/credit-education/improving-credit/improve-credit-score/

16.   Equifax -
https://www.equifax.com/personal/education/credit/report/understanding-hard-inquiries-on-your-credit-report/

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Add Value To Your Home With These 9 DIY Improvements

Posted On: July 20th, 2020 11:16PM

Whether you’re prepping your house to go on the market or looking for ways to maximize its long-term appreciation, these nine home improvement projects are great ways to add function, beauty, and real value to your home.

 

The best part is, once you’ve secured the materials, most of these renovations can be completed over the course of a weekend. And they don’t require a lot of specialized skills or experience. So grab your toolbox, then get ready to boost your home’s appeal AND investment potential!

 

 DIY Improvements

1. Spruce Up Your Landscaping

 

Landscaping improvements can increase a home’s value by 10-12%.1 But which outdoor features do buyers care about most? According to a survey of Realtors, a healthy lawn is at the top of their list. If your lawn is lacking, overseeding or laying new sod can be a worthwhile investment—with an expected return of 417% and 143% respectively.1

 

Planting flowers is another great way to enhance your home’s curb appeal. And if you choose a perennial variety, your blooms should return year after year. For an even longer-term impact, consider planting a tree. According to the Council of Tree and Landscape Appraisers, a mature tree can add up to $10,000 to the value of your home.2

 

 

2. Clean The Exterior

 

When it comes to making your house shine, a sparkling facade can be just as important as a clean interior. Real estate professionals estimate that washing the outside of a house can add as much as $15,000 to its sales price.3

 

A rented pressure washer from your local home improvement store can help you remove built-up dirt and grime from your home’s exterior, walkway, and driveway. Just be sure to read the instructions carefully—and only use it on surfaces that can withstand the intensity. When in doubt, a scrub brush and bucket of sudsy water will often do the trick.

 

 

3. Add A Fresh Coat Of Paint

 

New paint can have a big impact on both the appearance and value of a property. In fact, it’s one of the most effective ways to revitalize a home’s exterior, update its interior, and make it appear larger and brighter. The best part? Painting is relatively easy and inexpensive!

 

To get the maximum return at resale, stick with a modern but neutral color palette that will appeal to a broad range of buyers. According to a recent survey of home design experts, cool neutrals are a safe bet when it comes to interior paint. And respondents chose white and gray as the best exterior paint colors to use when selling a home.4 However, it’s important to consider a property’s architecture, existing fixtures, and regional design preferences, as well.  

 

 

4. Install Smart Home Technology

 

In a recent survey, 78% of real estate professionals said their buyer clients were willing to pay more for a home with smart technology features.5 The most requested smart devices? Thermostats (77%), smoke detectors (75%), home security cameras (66%), and locks (63%).6

 

The good news is, many of these gadgets are fairly easy to install. And some of them, including smart thermostats and light bulbs, will pay for themselves over time by making your home more energy efficient. In fact, many manufacturers report that smart thermostats can cut back on heating and cooling costs by 10-20%.7  

 

If you already own a smart speaker, like Amazon Alexa or Google Home, choose devices that will pair with your existing technology. This will enable you to create a truly integrated (and in many cases voice-activated) smart home experience.

 

 

5. Modernize Your Window Treatments

 

Smart—or motorized—blinds are also growing in popularity, and several manufacturers make models you can order and install on your own. But they’re not the only way to modernize your window treatments.

 

If you have old aluminum blinds, consider replacing them with plantation shutters, which are energy efficient, durable, and have strong buyer appeal.8 Roman and roller shades are another stylish alternative, and they come in a variety of colors and fabrics, which you can personalize to meet your design and privacy preferences.

 

Fortunately, upgrading your blinds has gotten easier and less expensive in recent years. There are a number of retailers that specialize in affordable window coverings that are simple to measure and hang yourself.

 

 

6. Replace Outdated Fixtures

 

Drastically transform the look and feel of your home by swapping out dingy and dated fixtures for contemporary alternatives. Start by assessing your current light fixtures, faucets, cabinet hardware, door knobs, and even switch plates. Then prioritize replacing those that are particularly outdated or in highly-visible areas, such as your entryway or kitchen.

 

Even if your home is fairly new, consider trading your builder-grade fixtures for higher-end options to give it a more upscale appearance. And forget the old rule about sticking to one metal tone throughout your property. According to designers, mixing metal finishes can add interest and character to a space.9

 

For more designer insights and decor trends, contact us for a free copy of our recent report: “Top 5 Home Design Trends for a New Decade.”

 

 

7. Upgrade Your Bathroom Mirror

 

A minor bathroom remodel offers one of the best returns on investment, with a $1.71 increase in home value for every $1 you spend.10 We’ve already explored several improvements you can make to your bathroom: new paint, fixtures, and hardware. Now complete the look by upgrading your vanity’s mirror.

 

Before you purchase a new mirror, examine your existing one to see how it is attached to the wall. Some vanity mirrors are glued to the wall and difficult to remove without shattering the glass or damaging the sheetrock behind it.11

 

If you prefer to keep your existing mirror, you can paint the frame—or add one if it’s currently frameless. There are several online retailers that will send you the frame components cut to your specifications, which you can assemble and mount yourself. Much like a work of art, your vanity mirror serves as a focal point for your bathroom, so let your creativity shine through!

 

 

8. Shampoo Your Carpet

 

Carpet is notorious for trapping dust, dirt, and allergens. It’s one of the reasons that most buyers prefer hard surface flooring.12 But if you love your carpet, or you’re not ready to invest in an alternative, make an effort to keep it clean and odor-free.

 

To properly maintain your carpet, you should vacuum it weekly. Experts also recommend a deep shampoo at least every two years.13 Fortunately, this is a cheap and easy DIY project you can knock out in about 20 minutes per room. According to Consumer Reports, you can rent a machine and purchase cleaning fluid and supplies for around $90. With an average return on your investment of 169%, it’s well worth the effort and expense.14

 

 

9. Customize Your Closet

 

Real estate professionals estimate that a closet remodel can add $2500 to a home’s selling price.And while a professional renovation can cost upwards of $6000, there are many high-quality DIY closet systems you can customize and install yourself.15

 

Experts recommend taking a thorough inventory of your wardrobe and accessories before you get started. Make sure frequently-worn pieces are easy to reach, and store seasonal and seldom-used items on high shelves. Place shoe racks near the closet entrance so they are easy to access.16 A little planning can go a long way toward building a closet that you (and your future buyers!) will love.

 

 

GET A COMPLIMENTARY ANALYSIS OF YOUR PROJECT

 

We’ve been talking averages. But the truth is, the actual impact of a home improvement project will vary depending on your particular home and neighborhood. Before you get started, contact us to schedule a free virtual consultation. We can help you determine which upgrades will offer the greatest return on your effort and investment.

 

 

Sources:

1.     HomeLight -
https://www.homelight.com/blog/improve-curb-appeal-landscaping/

2.     National Association of Realtors -
https://www.realtor.com/advice/home-improvement/landscape-renovations-that-pay-off/

3.     HouseLogic.com - https://www.houselogic.com/save-money-add-value/add-value-to-your-home/adding-curb-appeal-value-to-home/

4.     Fixr -
https://www.fixr.com/blog/2020/01/14/paint-color-trends-in-2020/

5.     T3 Sixty -
https://blog.coldwellbanker.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/CES2018-Smart-Homes-An-Emerging-Real-Estate-Opportunity.pdf

6.     Consumer Reports -
https://www.consumerreports.org/smart-home/smart-home-tech-upgrades-to-help-sell-your-house/

7.     American Council for Energy Efficient Economy
https://www.aceee.org/sites/default/files/publications/researchreports/a1801.pdf

8.     Forbes - https://www.forbes.com/sites/trulia/2016/07/05/10-upgrades-under-1000-that-increase-home-values-2/#47b0d3162e60

9.     Insider -
https://www.insider.com/home-design-rules-you-should-be-breaking-2020-1

10.   Zillow -
https://www.zillow.com/sellers-guide/roi-for-bathroom-remodel/

11.   Lowes -
https://www.lowes.com/n/how-to/remove-a-bathroom-mirror

12.   HomeLight -
https://www.homelight.com/blog/what-flooring-increases-home-value/

13.   Angie’s List -
https://www.angieslist.com/articles/how-often-should-i-clean-my-carpets.htm

14.   HomeLight -
https://www.homelight.com/blog/projects-that-increase-home-value/

15.   National Association of Realtors - https://www.nar.realtor/research-and-statistics/research-reports/remodeling-impact

16.   EasyClosets -
https://www.easyclosets.com/tips-ideas/2016/10/02/how-to-plan-your-walk-in-closet/ 

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Is Now a Good Time to Buy or Sell Real Estate?

Posted On: June 18th, 2020 9:58PM

graphic of a single family residence

Traditionally, spring is one of the busiest times of the year for real estate.


However, the coronavirus outbreak—and subsequent stay-at-home orders—led many buyers and sellers to put their moving plans on hold. In April, new listings fell nearly 45%, and sales volume fell 15% compared to last year.1

 

Fortunately, as restrictions have eased, we’ve seen an uptick in market activity. And economists at Realtor.com expect a rebound in July, August, and September, as fears about the pandemic subside, and buyers return to the market with pent-up demand from a lost spring season.2

 

But given safety concerns and the current economic climate, is it prudent to jump back into the real estate market?

 

Before you decide, it’s important to consider where the housing market is headed, how it could impact your timeline and ability to buy a home, and your own individual needs and circumstances.

 

 

WHAT’S AHEAD FOR THE HOUSING MARKET?

 

The economic aftermath of the coronavirus outbreak has been severe. We’ve seen record  unemployment numbers, and economists believe the country is headed toward a recession. But people still need a place to live. So what effect will these factors have on the housing market?

 

Home Values Projected to Remain Stable

 

Many Americans recall our last recession and assume we will see another drop in home values. But the 2008 real estate market crash was the cause—not the result—of that downturn. In fact, ATTOM Data Solutions analyzed real estate prices during the last five recessions and found that home prices actually went up in most cases. Only twice (in 1990 and 2008) did prices fall, and in 1990 it was by less than one percent.3

 

Many economists expect home values to remain relatively steady this time around. And so far, that’s been the case. As of mid-May, the median listing price in the U.S. was up 1.4% from the same period last year.4

 

 

Demand for Homes Will Exceed Available Supply

 

There’s been a shortage of affordable homes on the market for years, and the pandemic has further hindered supply. In addition to sellers pulling back, new home starts fell 22% in March.5 In fact, Fannie Mae doesn’t foresee a return to pre-pandemic construction levels before the end of 2021.6

 

This supply shortage is expected to prop up home prices, despite recessionary pressures. Fannie Mae and the National Association of Realtors predict housing prices will rise slightly this year7, while Zillow expects them to fall between 2-3%.8 Still, that would be a far cry from the double-digit declines that occurred during the last recession.9

 

 

Government Intervention Will Help Stabilize the Market

 

Policymakers have been quick to pass legislation aimed at preventing a surge in foreclosures like we saw in 2008. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed by Congress gives government-backed mortgage holders who were impacted by the pandemic up to a year of reduced or delayed payments.10

 

The Federal Reserve has also taken measures to help stabilize the housing market, lower borrowing costs, and inject liquidity into the mortgage industry. These steps have led to record-low mortgage rates that should help drive buyer demand and make homeownership more affordable for millions of Americans.11

 

 

HOW HAS THE REAL ESTATE PROCESS CHANGED?

 

As the pandemic hit, real estate and mortgage professionals across the country revised their processes to adapt to shifting safety standards and economic realities. While these new ways of conducting business may seem strange at first, keep in mind, military clients, international buyers, and others have utilized many of these methods to buy and sell homes for years.

 

New Safety Procedures

 

The safety of our clients and our team members is our top priority. That’s why we’ve developed a process for buyers and sellers that utilizes technology to minimize personal contact.

 

For our listings, we’re holding online open houses, offering virtual viewings, and conducting walk-through video tours. We’re also using video chat to qualify interested buyers before we book in-person showings. This enables us to promote your property to a broad audience while limiting physical foot traffic to only serious buyers.

 

Likewise, our buyer clients can view properties online and take virtual video tours to minimize the number of homes they step inside. Ready to visit a property in person? We can decrease surface contact by asking the seller to turn on all the lights and open doors and cabinets before your scheduled showing.

 

The majority of our “paperwork” is also digital. In fact, many of the legal and financial documents involved in buying and selling a home went online years ago. You can safely view and eSign contracts from your smartphone or computer.

 

 

Longer Timelines and Higher Mortgage Standards

 

The real estate process is taking a little longer these days. Both buyers and sellers are more cautious when it comes to viewing and showing homes. And with fewer house hunters and less available inventory, it can take more time to match a buyer with the right property.

 

In a recent survey, 67% of Realtors also reported delays in the closing process. The top reasons were financing and buyer job loss, but appraisals and home inspections are also taking more time due to shifting safety protocol.12

 

Securing a mortgage may take longer, too. With forbearance requests rising, lenders are getting increasingly conservative when it comes to issuing new loans. Many are raising their standards—requiring higher credit scores and larger down payments. Prepare for greater scrutiny, and build in some extra time to shop around.13

 

 

IS IT THE RIGHT TIME FOR ME TO MAKE A MOVE?

 

The reality is, there’s no “one size fits all” answer as to whether it’s a good time to buy or sell a home because everyone’s circumstances are unique. But now that you know the state of the market and what you can expect as you shop for real estate, consider the following questions:

 

Why do you want or need to move?

 

It’s important to consider why you want to move and if your needs may shift over the next year. For example, if you need a larger home for your growing family, your space constraints aren’t likely to go away. In fact, they could be amplified as you spend more time at home.

 

However, if you’re planning a move to be closer to your office, consider whether your commute could change. Some companies are rethinking their office dynamics and may encourage their employees to work remotely on a permanent basis.

 

 

How urgently do you need to complete your move?

 

If you have a new baby on the way or want to be settled before schools open in the fall, we recommend that you begin aggressively searching as soon as possible. With fewer homes on the market and a lengthier closing process, it’s taking longer than usual for clients to find and purchase a home.

 

However, if your timeline is flexible, you may be well-positioned to score a deal. We’re seeing more highly-incentivized sellers who are willing to negotiate on terms and price. Talk to us about setting up a search so we can keep an eye out for any bargains that pop up. And get pre-qualified for a mortgage now so you’ll be ready to act quickly.

 

If you’re eager to sell this year, now is the time to begin prepping your home for the market. A second wave of infections is predicted for the winter, which could mean another lockdown.14 If you wait, you might miss your window of opportunity.

 

 

How long do you plan to stay in your new home?

 

The U.S. real estate market has enjoyed steady appreciation since 2012, which made it fairly easy for owners and investors to buy and sell properties for a profit in a short period of time. However, with home values expected to remain relatively flat over the next year, your best bet is to buy a home you can envision yourself keeping for several years. Fortunately, at today’s rock-bottom mortgage rates, you can lock in a low interest rate and start building equity right away.

 

 

Can you meet today’s higher standards for securing a mortgage?

 

Mortgage lenders are tightening their standards in response to the growing number of mortgage forbearance requests. Many have raised their minimum credit score and downpayment requirements for applicants. Even if you’ve been pre-qualified in the past, you should contact your lender to find out if you meet their new, more stringent standards.

 

 

Is your income stable?

 

If there’s a good chance you could lose your job, you may be better off waiting to buy a home. The exception would be if you’re planning to downsize. Moving to a less expensive home could allow you to tap into your home equity or cut down on your monthly expenses.

 

 

WHEN YOU’RE READY TO MOVE—WE’RE READY TO HELP

 

While uncertain market conditions may give pause to some buyers and sellers, they can actually present an opportunity for those who are willing, able, and motivated to make a move.

 

Your average spring season would be flooded with real estate activity. But right now, only motivated players are out in the market. That means that if you’re looking to buy, you’re in a better position to negotiate a great price. And today’s record-low mortgage rates could give a big boost to your purchasing power. In fact, if you’ve been priced out of the market before, this may be the perfect time to look.

 

If you’re hoping to sell this year, you’ll have fewer listings to compete against in your neighborhood and price range. But you’ll want to act quickly. Economists expect a surge of eager buyers to enter the market in July—so you should start prepping your home now. And keep in mind, a second wave of coronavirus cases could be coming in this winter. Ask yourself how you will feel if you have to face another lockdown in your current home.

 

Let’s schedule a free virtual consultation to discuss your individual needs and circumstances. We can help you assess your options and create a plan that makes you feel both comfortable and confident during these unprecedented times.

 

 

The above references an opinion and is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be financial advice. Consult a financial professional for advice regarding your individual needs.

 

 

Sources:

1.     Forbes - https://www.forbes.com/sites/ellenparis/2020/05/08/latest-housing-market-update-from-realtorcom/#20bf7829113e

2.     HousingWire -
https://www.housingwire.com/articles/realtor-com-housing-market-will-bounce-back-this-year-but-the-rebound-will-be-short-lived/

3.     Curbed -
https://www.curbed.com/2019/1/10/18139601/recession-impact-housing-market-interest-rates

4.     Realtor.com -
https://www.realtor.com/research/weekly-housing-trends-view-data-week-may-9-2020/

5.     Money.com -
https://money.com/coronavirus-real-estate-home-prices/

6.     Fannie Mae -
https://www.fanniemae.com/resources/file/research/emma/pdf/Housing_Forecast_051320.pdf

7.     HousingWire -
https://www.housingwire.com/articles/pending-home-sales-tumble-on-covid-19-shock/

8.     HousingWire -
https://www.housingwire.com/articles/zillow-predicts-small-home-price-drop-through-rest-of-2020/

9.     Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis -
https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/CSUSHPINSA

10.   Consumer Financial Protection Bureau -
https://www.consumerfinance.gov/coronavirus/cares-act-mortgage-forbearance-what-you-need-know/

11.   Bankrate -
https://www.bankrate.com/mortgages/federal-reserve-and-mortgage-rates

12.   National Association of Realtors -
https://www.nar.realtor/sites/default/files/documents/2020-05-11-nar-flash-survey-economic-pulse-05-14-2020.pdf 

13.   Forbes -
https://www.forbes.com/sites/alyyale/2020/04/17/buying-a-home-during-the-pandemic-dont-expect-your-everyday-home-purchase/#fadad3d33b0c

14.   Washington Post -
https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2020/04/21/coronavirus-secondwave-cdcdirector/

 

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20 Ways to Save Money and Stretch Your Household Budget

Posted On: May 8th, 2020 6:45PM

20 ways to save money



These days, it seems like everyone’s looking for ways to cut costs and stretch their income further. Fortunately, there are some simple steps you can take to reduce your household expenses without making radical changes to your standard of living. When combined, these small adjustments can add up to significant savings each month.

 

Here are 20 things you can start doing today to lower your bills, secure better deals, and begin working toward your financial goals.

 

1.     Refinance Your Mortgage - For prime borrowers, mortgage rates are at or near historic lows. Depending on your current mortgage rate and the terms you choose, refinancing could save you a sizable amount on your monthly payments. There are fees and closing costs associated with refinancing, so you’ll need to talk to your lender to find out if refinancing is a good option for you.

 

2.     Evaluate Your Insurance Policies - If it’s been a while since you priced home or auto insurance, it may be worthwhile to do some comparison shopping. Get quotes from at least three insurers or independent agents. Try bundling your policies to see if there’s a discount. And inquire about raising your deductible, which should lower your premium.1

 

3.     Bundle Cable, Phone, and Internet - You can also save money by bundling your cable, phone, and internet services together. Shop around to see who is willing to give you the best deal. If switching is too much of a hassle, ask your current provider to match or beat their competitor’s offer.

 

4.     Better Yet, Cut the Cord on Cable - In many cases, you can save even more if you cancel your cable subscription altogether. An antenna should give you access to the major stations, and many of your favorite shows are probably available on-demand through a less expensive streaming service subscription.

 

5.     Revisit Your Wireless Plan - You can often save by switching from a big brand to an independent, low-cost carrier. If that’s not feasible, ask your current provider for a better deal or consider downgrading to a cheaper plan.

 

6.     Adjust Your Thermostat - Turning your thermostat up or down a few degrees can have a noticeable impact on your monthly heating and cooling costs. To maximize efficiency, change your filters regularly, and make sure your windows and doors are well insulated.

 

7.     Use Less Hot Water - After heating and cooling, hot water accounts for the second largest energy expense in most homes.2 To cut back, repair any leaks or dripping faucets, install low-flow fixtures, only run your dishwasher when full, and wash clothes in cold water when possible.

 

8.     Lower Overall Water Consumption - To decrease your water usage, take shorter showers, and turn off the sink while you brush your teeth and wash your hands. If you don’t have a low-flow toilet, retrofit your current one with a toilet tank bank or fill cycle diverter.And irrigate your lawn in the morning or evening to minimize evaporation.3

 

9.     Conserve Electricity - Save electricity by shutting off your computer at night and installing energy-efficient LED light bulbs. You can minimize standby or “vampire” power drain by utilizing power strips and unplugging idle appliances.4

 

10.  Purchase a Home Warranty - While there is an upfront cost, a home warranty can provide some protection and peace of mind when it comes to unexpected home repair costs. Most plans provide coverage for major systems (like electrical, plumbing, and HVAC) and appliances (such as your dishwasher, stove, or refrigerator).

 

11.  Outsource Less - From lawn care to grocery shopping to minor home repairs, we pay people to do a lot of things our parents and grandparents did themselves. To save money, try cutting back on the frequency of these services or taking some of them on yourself.

 

12.  Prepare Your Own Meals - It costs nearly five times more to have a meal delivered than it does to cook it at home.5 And home cooking doesn’t just save money; it’s healthier, cuts down on calorie consumption, and can offer a fun activity for families to do together.

 

13.  Plan Your Menu in Advance - Meal planning is deciding before you shop what you and your family will eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It can help you lower your overall food bill, eliminate waste, and minimize impulse purchases. When possible, buy produce that is in season, and utilize nutrient-rich but inexpensive protein sources like eggs, beans, ground turkey, and canned tuna.

 

14.  Plant a Garden - You can save even more on produce by growing it yourself. If you have space in your yard, start-up costs are relatively minimal. Gardening can be a rewarding and enjoyable (not to mention delicious) hobby for the whole family. And it could save you around $600 per year at the grocery store!6

 

15.  Review Memberships and Subscriptions - Are you paying for services and subscriptions you no longer need, want, or can utilize? Determine if there are any that you should suspend or cancel.

 

16.  Give Homemade Gifts - Who wouldn’t appreciate a scratch birthday cake or tin of cookies? And if you enjoy crafting, Pinterest and Instagram are full of inspiring ideas. Show your recipient how much you care with a homemade gift from the heart.

 

17.  Minimize Your Debt Payments - The best way to reduce a debt payment is to pay down the balance. But if that’s not an option right now, try to negotiate a better interest rate. If you have a good credit score, you may be able to qualify for a balance transfer to a 0% or low-interest rate credit card. Keep in mind, the rate may expire after a certain period—so be sure to read the fine print.

 

18.  Get a Cash-back Credit Card - If you regularly pay your credit card balance in full, a cash-back credit card can be a good way to earn a little money back each month. However, they often come with high-interest rates and fees if you carry a balance. Commit to only using it for purchases you can afford.

 

19.  Ask for Deals and Discounts - It may feel awkward at first, but becoming a master haggler can save you a lot of money. Many companies are willing to negotiate under the right circumstances. Always inquire about special promotions or incentives. See if they are able to price match (or beat) their competitors. And if an item is slightly defective or nearing its expiration date, ask for a discount.

 

20.  Track Your Household Budget - One of the most effective ways to reduce household expenses is to set a budget—and stick to it. A budget can help you see where your money is going and identify areas where you can cut back. By setting reasonable limits, you’ll be able to reach your financial goals faster.

 

 

Want more help getting a handle on your finances? Use the budget worksheet below to track income and expenses—and start working towards your financial goals today! Please reach out to me for a downloadable version.


WE’RE HERE TO HELP

We would love to help you meet your financial goals. Whether you want to refinance your mortgage, save up for a down payment, or simply find lower-cost alternatives for home repairs, maintenance, or utilities, we are happy to provide our insights and referrals. And if you have plans to buy or sell a home this year, we can discuss the steps you should be taking to financially prepare. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation!

 

 

The above references an opinion and is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be financial advice. Consult a financial professional for advice regarding your individual needs.

 

 

Sources:

 

1.     Insurance Information Institute -
https://www.iii.org/article/twelve-ways-to-lower-your-homeowners-insurance-costs

2.     Department of Energy -
https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/water-heating/reduce-hot-water-use-energy-savings

3.     Money Crashers -
https://www.moneycrashers.com/ways-conserve-water/

4.     Harvard University -
https://green.harvard.edu/tools-resources/poster/top-5-steps-reduce-your-energy-consumption

5.     Forbes -
https://www.forbes.com/sites/priceonomics/2018/07/10/heres-how-much-money-do-you-save-by-cooking-at-home/#2c53b2f35e54

6.     Money -
https://money.com/gardening-grocery-savings/

 


Household Budget Worksheet


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Live Virtual Open House

Posted On: April 29th, 2020 11:02PM

Live Virtual Open House HomeSmart Professionals

As an agent with HomeSmart Professionals, we are leading the way with a new focus on Live Virtual Open Houses and Live Virtual Showings. 

 

Live Virtual Open Houses are conducted with a set date and time, as with a traditional Open House. The difference is that it is done online with Zoom, FaceTime, Facebook Live, and the like.

 

We advertise and promote the Live Virtual Open House with all our HomeSmart agents in the Coachella Valley, as well as with our community of agents through the MLS, Zillow, Realtor.com, and more.

 

When it is time to conduct the Live Virtual Open House, potential Buyers visit via link anytime within the Live Virtual Open House scheduled time. They can preview the home via live video walkthrough, focusing the video to those areas they are most interested in, zooming in for a more detailed look at certain features, and asking questions of the agent conducting the Open House. 

 

You may wonder, who is doing the live video feed? It can be the Seller, or me as Host of the Live Virtual Open House.

 

Buyers and Sellers, you do not need to sit on the sidelines during this time of Covid19. Let’s make your Real Estate need a done deal. Contact me to begin your journey. I’m Keepin’ It Real in Real Estate”!

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