Home Automation Conveniences Attract Buyers

The rise in Millennial homebuyers will inevitably change the items that promote faster and more lucrative home salesThe rise in Millennial home buyers will inevitably change the items that promote faster and more lucrative home sales.

Consider trends over the past decades that have included conveniences such as built-in dishwashers, central air, energy efficient appliances and many others. As mechanical and technological advances move into the mainstream, prospective home buyers seek them out and favor properties that come tech ready.

While Millennial buyers have a vastly different world view than previous generations, Baby Boomers and Gen X homeowners are also enjoying the ease of technology. For many homeowners, automation equals convenience and improved quality of life. That’s why having the latest automation integrated into a home can make it a priority home on the market. These are some of the latest — let’s call them gadgets — that seem to be piquing the interest of today’s home buyers.  

Automation Home Control Devices

The era of clap-on lights and voice-controlled systems has given way to smart technologies. Homes that are integrated with smart technologies are getting a leg up in the market and future-leaning companies are rolling out devices to fill the need.

A company called Nanoleaf is marketing a 12-sided remote that can be programed to automate and control an entire smart home. The Nanoleaf Remote is expected to interface with Apple Homekits to produce amazing home scenes and manage devices throughout the household.

If you saw the movie “Minority Report” starring Tom Cruise, you may remember him interacting with a 3D holographic interface. The new “Talon” smart ring hitting the market is a wearable smart remote that looks similar to the popular Fit Bits. It also interfaces with your home in a futuristic way and can automate most everything. The point is that smart homes are popular and complimentary devices will only make them more so.

Alexa Is The New BFF

Alexa became America’s best friend by providing everything from favorite music to voice-command Google searches. Alexa looks to be everyone’s BFF going forward and more and more home automation technologies are developed to directly connect with the little Echo Dot. iDevices’s new light switches can be brightened or dimmed via Alexa. Consider Alexa-driven automation.

Automated Home Security

In an era when security is frequently on people’s minds, things like motion detectors, security cameras and smart locks are looked upon more favorably when they are integrated into the home and fully automated. Homeowners are not looking to take on home security as an after-work task.

The Ring company, among others, is introducing everything from smart doorbells to outdoor lighting. When fully automated, security can be a huge boon for home sellers.

The Real Estate market remains competitive and seemingly small differences between properties can set them apart. Automation and smart-technology integration can be a game-changer in terms of days on the market and asking price.  

Contact your trusted mortgage professional to get your financing pre-approved so you can be ready to make an offer on your new automated dream home.

RISING RATES, MORTGAGE AFFORDABILITY, & REAL ESTATE PRICES

HouseRising interest rates have been a hot topic in the news lately! Following the housing market crash just a decade ago, the U.S. Federal Reserve has worked to keep interest rates low, providing easy access to credit to encourage housing market activity. More recently as the economic climate has continued to improve, changes in the Fed’s policy include raising interest rates. For prospective homebuyers, rising rates may put some pressure on finding a home sooner. Below is some perspective on what rising rates mean for mortgage affordability, along with how they affect the real estate market and housing inventory in areas around Buncombe County.


AUTHORED BY: Cameron Lewis, Branch Manager for Acopia Home Loans in Asheville NC. NMLS 112509

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Interest rates have risen over the last year and are continuing to rise much in part due to the continued forecast of economic growth and the Federal Reserve’s current stance on monetary policy.  Yet rates are still very low from a historical perspective (see FRED Economic Data/St. Louis Fed Graph). It appears that an average 30-year fixed rate over the last 40-plus years is somewhere in the 8% range (65-70% higher than current levels).

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Nonetheless, let’s look back over the last year to see how the increase in rates has affected home affordability.  See the below chart from Keeping Current Matters.  These figures are obviously not exact and don’t include down payment, taxes, insurance or mortgage insurance. But the point is this: rates have risen about .75% from last June to now and it significantly impacts one’s ability to purchase.  Look at the impact this 20% increase in interest rate and 5% increase in purchase price has on one’s housing payments for a $250,000 loan over 30 years – just over $64,000!  Keep in mind that many of our markets in the WNC region have appreciated at a higher pace than 5% over the last year so the cost of waiting could have been greater. 

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For the family in this example to keep their principal & interest payment at or under $2,000 a month, they would have to lower their loan amount from $250,000 in 2017 to $229,000 in 2018.  That is roughly an 8.5% decrease in purchase power.  If interest rates and home prices continue to climb it could significantly reduce one’s buying power even further. What will this comparison look like from ’18 to ’19? Will rates be in the 5.50% range? There’s no way to know for sure, yet it’s generally accepted by economists that rates will continue to rise.


AUTHORED BY: Collin O’Berry, Managing Broker of the Altamont Property Group with Keller Williams Realty in Asheville NC. NC License 274582.

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While it’s expected that rate increases will continue, their effect on home values isn’t necessarily a direct correlation. Some would expect prices to decline as rates rise.

In Buncombe County, the real estate market has been experiencing fewer home sales over the past 12 months, down approximately 5 % thus far in 2018 in comparison to 2017. General inventory levels are the most likely culprit for this sales pace. At the same time prices have continued to rise, with prices in Buncombe County up over 10% from this time in 2017. These numbers suggest more of the same – price appreciation and similar levels of inventory for the foreseeable future. Also, the Asheville market draws a wide range of buyers across age groups and income levels, including primary owner occupants, retirees, investors and second home owners. This diversity in market activity is another factor contributing to price appreciation.

I hear weekly where buyers voice concern about real estate prices and desire to wait until property values stagnate. While these are valid concerns, it’s important to pay attention to inventory levels as indicators of where prices are trending in different segments of the market. In Buncombe County, inventory levels are very low in the more affordable segments of the market (300k and less) and buyer demand has continued to be strong. The cost and scarcity of quality building land means builders need to build more expensive homes to make the investment feasible, meaning less affordable new construction homes are under construction. Inventory in middle segments of the market (300-650k) is more balanced with the most desirable listings selling quickly. There can be some great opportunities for both buyers and sellers here. For the luxury segments of the market, many opportunities can be found for savvy buyers, ranging from in-town historic homes and condos, to mountain properties and homesteads. Inventory levels in the Asheville city limits tend to be lower across the board. Click here for the May 2018 market absorption report for Buncombe County.

All in all, many factors point to decreased long-term affordability with rising rates and rising prices if buyers choose to wait. This is especially true for buyers seeking affordable homes. For investors these market conditions have more of an influence on purchase decisions and timing. Also of importance is the market is ripe with opportunity for trade up or downsizing buyers to sell their homes for maximum value, and save or re-invest their realized equity.


Your questions, comments, and feedback are most welcome! Also please be sure to connect with Collin or Cameron if you are seeking expert real estate or mortgage lending advice.

Cameron Lewis can be reached at clewis@acopiahomeloans.com, 828-231-4909, or at http://www.acopiahomeloans.com/cameron-lewis.

Collin O’Berry can be reached at collin.oberry@gmail.com, 828-772-1667, or www.altamontpropertygroup.com.

Understanding the Factors That Impact Your Credit Score

Understanding the Factors That Impact Your Credit ScoreMost consumers believe if they pay their bills on time, they need not worry about their credit score. Oftentimes, it is a rude awakening when they apply for a mortgage loan, car loan, or any revolving credit to learn they are not going to get the lowest rates available due to their credit score. This is because paying bills on time only accounts for 35 percent of your credit score. The remaining 65 percent is spread out among other factors that impact your credit score.

Credit Usage and Impact on Score

Nearly one-third, 30 percent, of your credit score is based on how much of your available credit you are using. For example, if you have combined credit available of $100,000 and you use $90,000, you will suffer a decline in your credit score. Those consumers who have similar credit lines and are using $9,000 will get a slight bump in their score.

New Credit vs. Old Credit

We seldom think about how long we have held a line of credit open. However, some consumers “exchange” credit lines for other credit lines due to special offers made by credit card companies. This is not necessarily a good idea since 15 percent of your credit score is determined by the age of your credit accounts. The longer you have had an account, the better in most cases. The calculation will take all open credit accounts, take the amount of time they have been open and get an “average age”. If you have six accounts which have been open less than a year and six that have been open five years, the newer accounts will count against you in this case.

Mixing up Credit Lines

A consumer who has only a mortgage and a single credit score will take a modest hit on their credit score versus a consumer who has multiple credit cards, a mortgage, and an auto loan. The types of credit you have will account for 10 percent of your credit score and the more varied your open credit lines, the better. While it is inadvisable to open new credit lines simply to show a variety of types, having installment loans, retail credit cards, and traditional credit cards is a good idea.

New Lines of Credit Opened

One danger many consumers are unaware of is suddenly opening new lines of credit. For example, a new homeowner may open a new account with a home improvement store, a general retail store, and a new credit card to help them furnish and repair their new home. This could be a red flag since the credit lines are new, and there is no established history on the mortgage, or the new credit lines. Since this factor accounts for 10 percent of your credit score, you could suffer a temporary decline in your credit score.

Consumers should be aware of the factors which impact their credit score, and also be aware of the factors that do not impact their scores. Understanding your credit score may be the most important tool you have when buying a home, or refinancing your current mortgage.

Please contact your trusted mortgage professional to discuss how your credit score may be impacting your ability to finance your next home purchase. 

Is It A Good Idea To Buy A Remodeled Home?

Is It A Good Idea To Buy A Remodeled Home?Are you considering buying a flipped house? Here are some ways to tell if it is a good idea or not.

If you watch popular TV shows like Property Brothers, Flip or Flop and Fixer Upper, you might believe that buying a remodeled home is a great idea. These shows always have happy endings. The process looks fun and easy, and the houses turn out beautiful. However, it is rarely this easy when buying a real-life remodeled home.

There are plenty of flipped houses that turn out to have significant problems. Contractors who do remodels sometimes rush through the job. This can lead to subpar work. While the house might look beautiful initially, problems could start to show up months later.  

A flipped house can be a great deal. However, it pays to do your homework before buying one. Maintain a skeptical eye when touring the home. If you notice any of these things, move on.

Unpermitted Work

If you live in a full-disclosure state like Texas, you are in luck. Sellers are required to disclose to buyers everything that they know about the house. This should make it easy to get a list of the work that the flipper completed.

Even if you don’t live in a state that requires full disclosure, still ask for a list of work. After you have a list of the upgrades, check for permits. Most larger remodeling projects need a permit.

Avoid a remodeled home that has had unpermitted upgrades. There is a chance that it is not up to code. Aside from being a safety risk, unpermitted work can make it harder to get financing or insurance on a home.

A Flipper With A Bad Reputation

Before making an offer on a rehabbed home, ask who did the work. Learn everything you can about the person or company. Are they known for doing high-quality work?  

Flippers that have solid reputations want happy customers. Most want to avoid legal issues later, which could ruin their reputation and damage their business. So, they will usually ensure that the work is up to standard.

Avoid flippers or contractors that are not well known. Many move on to the next town after the job is over and so don’t care if they leave behind unhappy customers as they won’t be around.

A Failed Inspection

Beautiful hardwood floors, countertops and shiny new kitchen appliances might make a house look like it was just built. However, most flipped houses hide a dark history. Many remodeled homes have had a substantial lack of maintenance and were in a state of significant disrepair before being flipped.

Some contractors cover up problems rather than do the extensive work needed. Therefore, it pays to have the home inspected. A good home inspector will be more likely to spot things that an average homeowner might miss.

Your trusted mortgage professional can help you get your financing in order and provide you with a pre-approval letter so you are primed and ready to make an offer on the right property for you.

 

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – June 25th, 2018

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – June 25th, 2018Last week’s economic reports included readings from the National Association of Home Builders, Commerce Department reports on housing starts and building permits issued. Sales of pre-owned homes were reported along with weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

Builder Confidence Slips as Trade Wars Boost Lumber Prices

According to the National Association of Home Builders, home builder confidence in current market conditions was down two points to 68 as compared to May’s index reading of 70. Analysts said that rising lumber prices impacted builder sentiment and have replaced labor costs as builders’ primary expense.

Increased building costs were cited as a concern for builders despite high demand for homes and limited homes for sale. Rising materials costs were attributed to trade wars caused by recent tariffs on lumber.

NAHB said that three components of the Home Builders Housing Market Index were also lower in June. Builder confidence in current market conditions slipped one point to an  index reading of 75; builder confidence in market conditions within the next six months also dropped one point to 76.

Builder confidence in buyer traffic in new housing developments dipped one point to 50. Any reading over 50 indicates more builders than fewer were confident about housing market conditions.

Housing Starts Hit 11-Year High in May

May housing starts surpassed April’s reading of 1.280 million starts on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis. May’s reading of 1.350 million starts also surpassed expectations of 1.300 million starts. Higher volume and faster pace of building homes was good news for real estate and mortgage industry pros, as building more homes is the only way to relieve marked shortages of available homes in many areas.

Rising materials costs could dampen construction pace as tariffs and resulting trade wars increase. May’s reading for housing starts was the highest since 2007 and was 20.00 percent higher year-over-year.

Building permits issued in May were 4.60 percent lower than April’s reading. Building permits were issued at a pace of 1.301 million permits on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis.

Sales of Pre-Owned Homes Slip as Supply Tightens

Previously owned homes sold at a slower pace in May as short supplies of homes constrained already tight markets. The National Association of Realtors® reported 5.43 million sales on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis. Analysts expected a reading of 5.52 million sales based on April’s reading of 5.45 million sales. May sales of previously owned homes were three percent lower year-over-year.

Analysts said that there is little relief in sight and that there is a growing disparity in home sales; sales of homes worth $250,000 or more were up six percent, while sales of homes worth less than $250,000 fell by eight percent. Short supplies of homes for sale encouraged bidding wars and sidelined first-time and moderate-income buyers.

Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims Lower

Freddie Mac reported lower average mortgage rates last week; the rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage dropped five basis points to 4.57 percent; rates for a 15-year fixed mortgage were eight basis points lower at 4.04 percent and rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages were unchanged at an average of 3.83 percent.

Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for 30-year fixed rate mortgages, 0.40 percent for 15-year fixed rate mortgages and were 0.30 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

First-time jobless claims fell to 218,000 claims filed last week as compared to the prior week’s reading of 221,000 new claims filed and expectations of 220,000 new claims.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic releases include Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, new and pending home sales and weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

3 Tips For Getting The Most Out Of Your Time House Hunting

3 Tips For Getting The Most Out Of Your Time House HuntingIn the ideal home-buying scenario, you’d have plenty of time to find the perfect home. However, this is not always possible. Maybe you are relocating for a job and have to buy a house from across the country. If this is the case, you might have to limit the time that you spend house hunting.

Here are some tips to help you make your search as productive as possible. 

#1 Get A Mortgage Pre-Approval 

Before attending open houses and searching for a home, you should get pre-approved for a mortgage. Getting pre-approved for a mortgage will help you identify the exact price range that you should be shopping for. It will also let home sellers know that you are a serious buyer. If you are competing with other buyers, a seller will be more likely to take your offer seriously if they know that you can afford the home. 

Sometimes you’ll hear the terms pre-qualification and pre-approval thrown around interchangeably. However, these two terms are very different. A pre-approval is much more valuable when it comes to buying a home. Although you will have to provide a lot more information for a full pre-approval, this qualification will provide you with a specific loan amount that you are approved for. A pre-qualification is just an estimate of the amount that you can afford based on your income and other factors. It is not as personalized or customized for your specific situation as a pre-approval. 

#2 Find A Good Real Estate Agent 

Find a good real estate agent who is knowledgeable of the area that you want to buy in. Ideally, they have lived in the area for a long time and know the community. A good local agent can bring invaluable knowledge to the table about the city. They should be familiar with the homes in the area. They might even know about homes that aren’t on the market yet but will be soon. This knowledge can be invaluable when you are in a time crunch and want to get the most out of your house hunting time. 

#3 Make A List Of Your Must-have Amenities 

You don’t want to spend time looking at homes that won’t meet your needs. There are probably some things that you’d like to have in a house, as well as things that you must have. So, if you’re in a time crunch, the first thing you should do is make a must-have list. Make a second list of things that you’d like to have but that are not required. Don’t bother looking at homes that lack the qualities on your must-have list. 

First things first, contact your trusted home loan professional and get your pre-approval started today!

3 Programs That Allow You To Buy A Home With No Money Down In 2018

3 Programs That Allow You To Buy A Home With No Money Down In 2018Home buyers are typically advised to put at least 20% down for a mortgage. Coming up with that amount can seem almost impossible if you have little to no money left over after paying bills each month.

Fortunately, if you want to buy a house but are worried about coming up with the 20 percent down needed for a downpayment, you still have plenty of options. There are still plenty of programs that allow you to buy a home with a low down payment or even no money down in 2018. 

Here are some of the best programs that designed for homebuyers who don’t have a massive chunk of cash to put down at closing. Maybe one of these options will be the perfect solution to make your dreams come true. 

#1 VA Home Loans 

If you are a veteran, in the National Guard and Reserves or an active-duty service member, then you may qualify for a VA home loan. The VA offers 100 percent financing. So, you don’t need any money down. The VA does not require mortgage insurance. There is a funding fee, which must be paid by the borrower. However, the lender can roll the fee into the loan amount. The funding fee is typically 2.15 percent of the loan amount. 

#2 USDA Loans

The U.S.Department of Agriculture (USDA) offers a zero-down mortgage for low to moderate-income families. This program was created to help rural development. The loans are only available in towns that have populations of 10,000 or less. However, this is quite a large area. In fact, the USDA program covers more than 97 percent of the United States. Many eligible smaller towns are located right outside major cities.

The USDA program was designed for first-time home buyers although there are some exceptions to this rule. USDA loans do not require mortgage insurance. There is an upfront guarantee fee of one percent. The lender can roll this fee into the loan amount. 

#3 FHA Home Loans

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) provides one of the most popular low down payment mortgage options in the country.  Normally this loan product requires a minimum 3.5% down payment.  However, 100 percent of the down payment money can be a financial gift from a relative or a non-profit organization.  This allows a borrower to get into their home with no money down.

Contact your trusted mortgage professional to find out about these programs or others that might be right for you.