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VA Loans: Making a Home for the Brave Possible

VA Loans: Making a Home for the Brave Possible | Simplifying The Market

Since the creation of the Veterans Affairs (VA) Home Loans Program, over 22 million veterans have achieved the American Dream of homeownership. Many veterans do not know the details of the program and therefore do not take advantage of the benefits available to them.

If you are a veteran or you know someone who is, here is a breakdown of the VA Home Loan benefits that can be used to achieve the American Dream!

Top 5 Benefits of a VA Home Loan

  1. The greatest benefit of a VA Loan is that borrowers can buy a home with a 0% down payment. In 2016, 82% of all VA Loans put down 0%!
  2. Primary Mortgage Insurance (PMI) is not required! (Most other loans with down payments under 20% require PMI, which adds additional costs to your monthly housing expense!)
  3. Credit Score requirements are also lower for VA Home Loans. The average FICO® score of a borrower for an approved VA Loan is 620, compared to 676 (FHA) or 753 (Conventional).
  4. There is also a limitation on a veteran buyer’s closing costs. Sellers can pay all of a buyer’s loan-related closing costs and up to 4% in concessions in some cases.
  5. Even with interest rates rising, VA Loans continue to have the lowest average interest rates of all loan types.

Who Qualifies for a VA Home Loan?

One of the most important first steps when applying for a VA Home Loan is obtaining your Certificate of Eligibility (COE). “The COE verifies to the lender that you are eligible for a VA-backed loan.”

You Can Apply for a VA Loan if You:

  • Serve 90 consecutive days during wartime
  • Serve 181 consecutive days during peacetime
  • Have more than 6 years in the National Guard or Reserves
  • Are the spouse of a service member who has died in the line of duty or as the result of a service-related disability

You Can Use a VA Loan To:

  • Purchase a Home
  • Purchase a Condo
  • Build a Home
  • Refinance an existing home loan
  • Make improvements to a home by installing energy-related features or making energy-efficient improvements

Bottom Line

For more information or to find out if you or a loved one would qualify to use the VA Home Loan Benefit, let’s get together! Thank you for your service!

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Buying This Summer? Be Prepared for Bidding Wars

Buying This Summer? Be Prepared for Bidding Wars | Simplifying The Market

Summer is traditionally a busy season for real estate. Buyers come out in force and homeowners list their houses for sale hoping to capitalize on those buyers who are looking to purchase before the new school year. This year will be no different!

Buyers have already been out in force looking for their dream homes and more are on their way. The challenge is that the inventory of homes for sale has not kept up with demand, which has led to A LOT of competition for the homes that are available.

A recent article by the National Association of Realtors touched on the current market conditions:

“Realtors® in areas with strong job markets report that consumer frustration is rising. Home shoppers are increasingly struggling to find an affordable property to buy, and the prevalence of multiple bids is pushing prices further out of reach.”

Realtor.com went on to explain why buyers are flocking to the market in such big numbers:

“A booming economy and stable employment in most parts of the country have created a new generation of eager home buyers – and led to fevered price battles spilling over into some unexpected, smaller markets.”

Javier Vivas, Director of Economic Research for Realtor.com had this to say about competition:

Multiple-offer scenarios are no longer reserved to the usual big, fast-moving markets…demand for homes has spilled outward into secondary, smaller markets, and more buyers are gearing up to face fierce competition in more places around the country.”

Realtor.com looked at the number of homes that were selling above asking price to determine which markets were heating up. Below are the Top 10:

  • Akron, OH
  • Worcester, MA
  • Lexington, KY
  • Irvine, CA
  • Greensboro, NC
  • Sioux Falls, SD
  • Madison, WI
  • Louisville, KY
  • Tacoma, WA
  • Little Rock, AR

Bottom Line

Let’s get together to discuss our exact market conditions so that we can help you create a strategy to secure your new home in this competitive atmosphere!

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5 Reasons Millennials Choose to Buy a Home [INFOGRAPHIC]

5 Reasons Millennials Choose to Buy a Home [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Some Highlights:

  • “The majority of millennials said they consider owning a home more sensible than renting for both financial and lifestyle reasons — including control of living space, flexibility in future decisions, privacy and security, and living in a nice home.”
  • The top reason millennials choose to buy is to have control over their living space, at 93%.
  • Many millennials who rent a home or apartment prior to buying their own homes dream of the day when they will be able to paint the walls whatever color they’d like or renovate an outdated part of their living space.
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Next Recession in 2020? What Will Be the Impact?

Next Recession in 2020? What Will Be the Impact? | Simplifying The Market

Economists and analysts know that the country has experienced economic growth for almost a decade. They also know that a recession can’t be too far off. A recent report by Zillow Research shed light on a survey conducted by Pulsenomics in which they asked economists, investment strategists and market analysts how they felt about the current housing market. That report revealed the possible timing of the next recession:

Experts largely expect the next recession to begin in 2020.”

That timing concurs with a recent survey of economists by the Wall Street Journal:

“The economic expansion that began in mid-2009 and already ranks as the second-longest in American history most likely will end in 2020 as the Federal Reserve raises interest rates to cool off an overheating economy, according to forecasters surveyed.”

Here is a graph comparing the opinions of those surveyed by both the Wall Street Journal and Pulsenomics:

Next Recession in 2020? What Will Be the Impact? | Simplifying The Market

Recession DOES NOT Equal Housing Crisis

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a recession is defined as follows:

“A period of temporary economic decline during which trade and industrial activity are reduced, generally identified by a fall in GDP in two successive quarters.”

A recession means the economy has slowed down markedly. It does not mean we are experiencing another housing crisis. Obviously, the housing crash of 2008 caused the last recession. However, during the previous five recessions home values appreciated.

Next Recession in 2020? What Will Be the Impact? | Simplifying The Market

According to the experts surveyed by Pulsenomics, the top three probable triggers for the next recession are:

  • Monetary policy
  • Trade policy
  • A stock market correction

A housing market correction was ranked ninth in probability. Those same experts also projected that home values would continue to appreciate in 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022.  

Others agree that housing will not be impacted like it was a decade ago.

Mark Fleming, First American’s Chief Economist, explained:

“If a recession is to occur, it is unlikely to be caused by housing-related activity, and therefore the housing sector should be one of the leading sources to come out of the recession.”

And U.S. News and World Report agreed:

“Fortunately – and hopefully – the history of recessions and current issues that could harm the economy don’t lead many to believe the housing market crash will repeat itself in an upcoming decline.”

Bottom Line

A recession is probably less than two years away. A housing crisis is not.

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Are You Wondering If You Can Buy Your First Home?

Are You Wondering If You Can Buy Your First Home? | Simplifying The Market

There are many people sitting on the sidelines trying to decide if they should purchase a home or sign a rental lease. Some might wonder if it makes sense to purchase a house before they get married or start a family, some might think they are too young, and still, some others might think their current incomes would never enable them to qualify for a mortgage.

We want to share what the typical first-time homebuyer actually looks like based on the National Association of Realtors’ most recent Profile of Home Buyers & Sellers. Here are some interesting revelations on the first-time buyer:

Are You Wondering If You Can Buy Your First Home? | Simplifying The Market

Bottom Line

You may not be much different than many people who have already purchased their first homes. Let’s meet to determine if your dream home is within your grasp today.

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Top 4 Home Renovation For Maximum Return On Investment (ROI)

Renovation for Max Return On Investment

Renovation For Maximum Return On Investment

Renovation For Maximum Return On Investment

Top 4 Home Renovations for Max ROI [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Renovation For Maximum Return On Investment  Highlights:

  • Whether you are selling your home, just purchased your first home or are a homeowner planning to stay put for a while, there is value in knowing which renovation projects will net you the most Return On Investment (ROI).
  • A minor bathroom renovation can go a long way towards improving the quality of your everyday life and impressing homebuyers.
  • Adding curb appeal by upgrading your landscaping helps get buyers in the door.  These upgrades rank as the 2nd and 4th renovation for returns on investment.

 

If you are searching for a Bergen County Realtor contact Steven Batista at 201-207-5217. I help with all your real estate needs.

 

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Are Lending Standards Too Loose…or Too Tight?

Lending Standards 

Lending standards

Are lending standards too loose or too tight? With home values appreciating at record rates, some are concerned that we may be heading for another housing bubble.  Similar to the one we experienced a decade ago. 

One of the major culprits of that housing boom and bust was the loosening of standards for mortgage credit.

In a study done at the University of North Carolina immediately after the crisis, it was revealed that:

“Lenders began originating large numbers of high risk mortgages from around 2004 to 2007, and loans from those vintage years exhibited higher default rates than loans made either before or after.”

A study by John V Duca, John Muellbauer, and Anthony Murphy concluded that those risky mortgages caused the housing crisis:

“Our findings indicate that swings in credit standards played a major, if not the major, role in driving the recent boom and bust in US house prices.”

How do today’s mortgage lending standards compare to those from 2004 to 2007?

The Mortgage Bankers’ Association tracts mortgage lending standards in their Mortgage Credit Availability Index (MCAI).

A decline in the MCAI indicates that standards are tightening, while increases in the index are indicative of loosening credit.

The chart below hightlights the period between 2004 and 2007 when loose lending standards caused the housing bubble.

We can see that the index has risen slightly over the last several years.  We are nowhere near the standards that precipitated the housing crisis.

Lending Standards

Bottom Line

If anything, lending standards today are too tight and are preventing some qualified buyers from getting the mortgage credit they deserve.

If you're looking to get pre-qualified and learn about the lending standards, visit my partners page.  Contact one of my preferred mortgage specialists.

For all your real estate needs, contact Steven Batista at 201-207-5217 and start the home buying process.

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Parents Say Kids’ Opinions Matter Big When Buying a Home

Parents Say Kids’ Opinions Matter Big When Buying a Home | Simplifying The Market

A recent survey conducted by Harris Poll and released by SunTrust Mortgage found that “55% of homeowners with a child under the age of 18 at the time when they purchased their home said that the opinion of their offspring played a major role in their home buying decision.”

When the results were broken down by the parent’s age, millennials (those 18-36) led the way with 74% of homeowners saying that their child’s opinion was a factor in choosing which home to buy. Eighty-three percent of renters believe that their child’s opinion would be a deciding factor when looking to purchase a home.

So what features in a home are most important to kids?

Parents Say Kids’ Opinions Matter Big When Buying a Home | Simplifying The Market

Coming in at 57%, it should come as no surprise that gaining their own bedrooms was the top most-desirable feature of any home for kids, followed by a large back yard to play in at 34%.

Todd Chamberlain, Head of Mortgage Banking at SunTrust explained the reasoning behind the survey,

“As a parent of two kids, I know from experience that including children in the home buying process is not only fun for the whole family, but also educational for our homebuyers of tomorrow.”

Bottom Line

If you’re thinking about selling your home this year, make sure to highlight all the kid-friendly features your home has to offer so that you can sway the real decision makers.

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4 Steps to Follow When Presenting an Offer in Today’s Market!

Presenting an Offer

Presenting an Offer in Today’s Market!

Presenting an Offer

Presenting an offer in today's real estate market isn't easy.  You’ve been searching for the perfect home and you’ve finally found it!

The price is right, the market is competitive and you want to make sure that you make a great offer. In doing so, you can guarantee moving into your dream home.

Below are 4 steps provided by Freddie Mac to help homebuyers presenting an offer obtain their dream home:

1. Determine Your Price

You’ve found the perfect home and you’re ready to buy. Now what? I  will be by your side and help you determine an offer price that is fair.

If I represented you in the purchase of your home, I'd provide comparable homes which recently sold in the neighborhood. I will help you to determine the offer price.

Getting a pre approved mortgage will show home sellers that you are serious about buying their home. A pre approved mortgage will allow you to make an offer with confidence because you've been approved in the offer amount.

2. Submit a Home Offer

Once you’ve determined your price, I will draw up an offer or purchase agreement and submit to the seller’s real estate agent. This offer will include the purchase price and terms and conditions of the purchase.

3. Negotiate the Offer

Oftentimes, the seller will counter the offer by asking for a higher purchase price or an adjustment to the closing date.  In these cases, the seller’s agent will submit a counteroffer to me, detailing their desired changes.  You can either accept the offer or decide if you want to counter.

Each time changes are made through a counteroffer, you or the seller have the option to accept, reject or counter it again. The contract is considered final when both parties sign the written offer.”

If your offer is approved, Freddie Mac urges you to “always get an independent home inspection, so you know the true condition of the home.” If the inspector uncovers undisclosed problems or issues, you can discuss any repairs that may need to be made with the seller or even cancel the contract altogether.

4. Act Fast

The inventory of homes listed for sale has remained well below the 6-month supply that is needed for a ‘normal’ market.

Buyer demand has continued to outpace the supply of homes for sale.

This has caused homebuyers to compete with each other for their dream homes.

As soon as you decide that you want to buy the home, you should contact me ASAP so I present it as quickly as possible.

Bottom Line 

I'm an expert who's on your side and can ensure that presenting an offer goes smoothly when buying your home. Let’s talk about how we can make your dreams of homeownership a reality!

Contact me to strategize about ways to make your offer stand out in this competitive market. I am active in the neighborhoods you are considering and will be instrumental in presenting an offer.

If you're searching for a Bergen County Realtor, contact Steven Batista at 201-207-5217.  I help clients buy Bergen County NJ Real Estate.

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4 Reasons Why Summer Is a Great Time to Buy a Home!

Summer Is a Great Time to Buy a Home

Summer Is a Great Time to Buy a Home

Summer Is a Great Time to Buy a Home

Summer Is a Great Time to Buy a Home and here are four great reasons to consider buying a home today instead of waiting.

1. Prices Will Continue to Rise

CoreLogic’s latest Home Price Insights reports that home prices have appreciated by 7% over the last 12 months. The same report predicts that prices will continue to increase at a rate of 5.2% over the next year.

Home values will continue to appreciate for years. Waiting no longer makes sense.

2. Mortgage Interest Rates Are Projected to Increase

Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey shows that interest rates for a 30-year mortgage have increased by half a percentage point already in 2018 to around 4.5%.

Most experts predict that rates will rise over the next 12 months. The Mortgage Bankers Association, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the National Association of Realtors are in unison, projecting that rates will increase by nearly a full percentage point by this time next year.

An increase in rates will impact YOUR monthly mortgage payment. A year from now, your housing expense will increase if a mortgage is necessary to buy your next home.

3. Either Way, You Are Paying a Mortgage

There are some renters who have not yet purchased a home because they are uncomfortable taking on the obligation of a mortgage.

Everyone should realize that unless you are living with your parents rent-free, you are paying a mortgage – either yours or your landlord’s.

As an owner, your mortgage payment is a form of ‘forced savings’ that allows you to have equity in your home that you can tap into later in life.

As a renter, you guarantee your landlord is the person with that equity.

Are you ready to put your housing cost to work for you?

4. It’s Time to Move on with Your Life

The ‘cost’ of a home is determined by the price of the home and the current mortgage rate. It appears that both are on the rise but what if they weren’t? Would you wait?

Look at the actual reason you want to buy a home and decide if it is worth waiting.

Having a great place for your children to grow up, safeguarding your family in a good neighborhood or having control over renovations are the most common reasons why homebuyers are choosing now to buy a home.

If the right thing for you and your family is to buy a home this year, buying sooner rather than later could lead to substantial savings.

Summer Is a Great Time to Buy a Home

 

For all your real estate needs, contact Steven Batista at 201-207-5217 and start the home buying process.