Last year, the Federal Reserve took action to try to bring down inflation. In response to those efforts, mortgage rates jumped up rapidly from the record lows we saw in 2021, peaking at just over 7% last October. Hopeful buyers experienced a hit to their purchasing power as a result, and some decided to press pause on their plans.
Today, the rate of inflation is starting to drop. And as a result, mortgage rates have dipped below last year’s peak. Sam Khater, Chief Economist at Freddie Mac, shares:
“While mortgage market activity has significantly shrunk over the last year, inflationary pressures are easing and should lead to lower mortgage rates in 2023.”
That’s potentially great news if you’re a buyer aiming to jump back into the housing market. Any drop in mortgage rates helps boost your purchasing power by bringing down your expected monthly mortgage payment. This means the lower mortgage rates experts forecast this year could be just what you need to reignite your homebuying goals.
While this opens up a window of opportunity for you, remember: you shouldn’t expect rates to drop back down to record lows like we saw in 2021. Experts agree that’s not the range buyers should bank on. Greg McBride, Chief Financial Analyst at Bankrate, explains:
“I think we could be surprised at how much mortgage rates pull back this year. But we’re not going back to 3 percent anytime soon, because inflation is not going back to 2 percent anytime soon.”
It’s important to have a realistic vision for what you can expect this year, and that’s where the advice of expert real estate advisors is critical. You may be surprised by the impact even a mild drop in mortgage rates has on your budget. If you’re ready to buy a home now, today’s market presents the opportunity to get a more affordable mortgage rate, find your dream home, and face less competition from other buyers.
The recent pullback in mortgage rates is great news – but if you’re ready to buy now, holding out for 3% is a mistake. Work with a local real estate expert to explore the options in your area and learn how today’s rates impact your goals.
- Buying a home is a major transaction that can seem even more complex when you don’t understand the terms used throughout the process.
- If you’re looking to become a homeowner this year, it’s important to know these housing terms and how they relate to the current market so you feel confident throughout the homebuying process.
- Work with a trusted real estate professional who can answer any questions as they come up.
If you’re getting ready to buy your first home, you’re likely focused on saving up for everything that purchase involves. One cost that’s likely top of mind is your down payment. But don’t let a common misconception about how much you need to save make the process harder than it could be.
Understand 20% Isn’t Always the Typical Down Payment
Freddie Mac explains:
“. . . nearly a third of prospective homebuyers think they need a down payment of 20% or more to buy a home. This myth remains one of the largest perceived barriers to achieving homeownership.”
Unless specified by your loan type or lender, it’s typically not required to put 20% down. This means you could be closer to your homebuying dream than you realize. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the median down payment hasn’t been over 20% since 2005. In fact, the median down payment today is only 14%. And it’s even lower for first-time homebuyers at just 6% (see graph below):
Learn About Options That Can Help You Toward Your Goal
If saving for a down payment still feels like a challenge, know that there’s help available. A real estate professional and trusted lender can show you options that could help you get closer to your down payment goal. According to latest Homeownership Program Index from Down Payment Resource, there are over 2,000 homebuyer assistance programs in the U.S., and the majority are intended to help with down payments.
Plus there are even loan types, like FHA loans, with down payments as low as 3.5%, as well as options like VA loans and USDA loans with no down payment requirements for qualified applicants.
To understand your options, be sure to do your homework. If you’re interested in learning more about down payment assistance programs, information is available through sites like Down Payment Resource. Then, partner with a trusted lender to learn what you qualify for on your homebuying journey.
Remember, a 20% down payment isn’t always required. If you want to purchase a home this year, reach out to a trusted real estate professional to start the conversation and explore your down payment options.
While it’s exciting to start thinking about moving in and decorating after you’ve applied for your mortgage, there are some key things to keep in mind before you close. Here’s a list of things you may not realize you need to avoid after applying for your home loan.
Don’t Deposit Large Sums of Cash
Lenders need to source your money, and cash isn’t easily traceable. Before you deposit any amount of cash into your accounts, discuss the proper way to document your transactions with your loan officer.
Don’t Make Any Large Purchases
It’s not just home-related purchases that could disqualify you from your loan. Any large purchases can be red flags for lenders. People with new debt have higher debt-to-income ratios (how much debt you have compared to your monthly income). Since higher ratios make for riskier loans, borrowers may no longer qualify for their mortgage. Resist the temptation to make any large purchases, even for furniture or appliances.
Don’t Cosign Loans for Anyone
When you cosign for a loan, you’re making yourself accountable for that loan’s success and repayment. With that obligation comes higher debt-to-income ratios as well. Even if you promise you won’t be the one making the payments, your lender will have to count the payments against you.
Don’t Switch Bank Accounts
Lenders need to source and track your assets. That task is much easier when there’s consistency among your accounts. Before you transfer any money, speak with your loan officer.
Don’t Apply for New Credit
It doesn’t matter whether it’s a new credit card or a new car, when you have your credit report run by organizations in multiple financial channels (mortgage, credit card, auto, etc.), it will have an impact on your FICO® score. Lower credit scores can determine your interest rate and possibly even your eligibility for approval.
Don’t Close Any Accounts
Many buyers believe having less available credit makes them less risky and more likely to be approved. This isn’t true. A major component of your score is your length and depth of credit history (as opposed to just your payment history) and your total usage of credit as a percentage of available credit. Closing accounts has a negative impact on both of those aspects of your score.
Do Discuss Changes with Your Lender
Be upfront about any changes that occur or you’re expecting to occur when talking with your lender. Blips in income, assets or credit should be reviewed and executed in a way that ensures your home loan can still be approved. If your job or employment status has changed recently, share that with your lender as well. Ultimately, it’s best to fully disclose and discuss your intentions with your loan officer before you do anything financial in nature.
You want your home purchase to go as smoothly as possible. Remember, before you make any large purchases, move your money around, or make major life changes, be sure to consult your lender – someone who’s qualified to explain how your financial decisions may impact your home loan.
If you’re thinking about buying or selling a home, you probably want to know what’s really happening with home prices, mortgage rates, housing supply, and more. That’s not an easy task considering how sensationalized headlines are today. Jay Thompson, Real Estate Industry Consultant, explains:
“Housing market headlines are everywhere. Many are quite sensational, ending with exclamation points or predicting impending doom for the industry. Clickbait, the sensationalizing of headlines and content, has been an issue since the dawn of the internet, and housing news is not immune to it.”
Unfortunately, when information in the media isn’t clear, it can generate a lot of fear and uncertainty in the market. As Jason Lewris, Cofounder and Chief Data Officer at Parcl, says:
“In the absence of trustworthy, up-to-date information, real estate decisions are increasingly being driven by fear, uncertainty, and doubt.”
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Buying or selling a home is a big decision, and it should be one you feel confident making. To help you separate fact from fiction and get the answers you need, lean on a local real estate advisor.
A trusted expert is your best resource to understand what’s happening at the national and local levels. They’ll be able to debunk the headlines using data you can trust. And using their in-depth knowledge of the industry, they’ll provide context so you know how current trends compare to the normal ebbs and flows in the industry, historical data and more.
Then, to make sure you have the full picture, they’ll tell you if your local area is following the national trend or if they’re seeing something different in your market. Together, you’ll use all of that information to make the best possible decision for you.
After all, making a move is a potentially life-changing milestone. It should be something you feel ready for and excited about. And that’s where an agent comes in.
If you have questions about the headlines or what’s happening in the housing market today, connect with a real estate professional for expert insights and advice.
Are you prepping to buy your first home? If so, one of the steps you should take early on is making sure you’re financially ready for your purchase. Here are just a few of the financial fundamentals you’ll need to focus on as you set out to buy a home.
Build Your Credit
Your credit is one element that helps determine which home loan you’ll qualify for. It also impacts your mortgage interest rate. While there are many factors that go into your mortgage application, a higher credit score could lead to a lower monthly payment in the long run.
So how do you make sure your credit is in the best shape possible when it’s time to buy? A recent article from NerdWallet lists a few tips you can use as you work to build and strengthen your credit. They include:
- Tracking your credit and disputing any errors that show up on your reports.
- Paying your bills on time. This includes making loan payments and paying down any open lines of credit.
- Keeping your credit card balances low. Paying more than your minimum monthly balance when you’re able can help.
Automate Your Savings for Your House Fund
You might also be wondering how you can achieve your down payment savings goals. Bankrate provides buyers with a number of tips to help you save, including searching for down payment assistance programs and ways you can save more, faster. As the article says:
“One of the best ways to save for anything — including a down payment — is to set it and forget it. If you receive a regular paycheck, ask your employer to direct a portion of that payment into a savings account. If you’re a freelance worker or independent contractor, set up a recurring transfer from a checking account to a savings account to establish the routine.”
As you prepare for your purchase, you’ll also need to have a good grasp on your budget and how much you’ll be able to borrow for your home loan. That’s where the pre-approval process comes in.
Pre-approval from a lender lets you know how much money you can borrow for your home loan. And having that knowledge, plus an understanding of your savings, can help you decide on your target price range for a house.
From there, you can start browsing for houses online and see what’s available in your area in that general price point. This can help you really understand your options so you can start to picture your future home.
For Customized Advice, Build a Team of Professionals
Finally, the best way to make you’re prepared for your purchase is to connect with trusted real estate professionals. Having expert advisors in the industry will help you make strong decisions throughout the homebuying process based on your specific goals, finances, and situation. They know the market and can guide you toward the home of your dreams.
If you’re ready to get the homebuying process started, connect with a local real estate advisor to begin building your team of professionals today.