Your "Local" Specialist Blog

Why Getting Pre-Approved Should Be Your First Step
Why Getting Pre-Approved Should Be Your First Step | Keeping Current Matters

In many markets across the country, the number of buyers searching for their dream homes greatly outnumbers the number of homes for sale. This has led to a competitive marketplace where buyers often need to stand out. One way to show you are serious about buying your dream home is to get pre-qualified or pre-approved for a mortgage before starting your search.

Even if you are in a market that is not as competitive, knowing your budget will give you the confidence of knowing if your dream home is within your reach.

Freddie Mac lays out the advantages of pre-approval in the ‘My Home’ section of their website:

“It’s highly recommended that you work with your lender to get pre-approved before you begin house hunting. Pre-approval will tell you how much home you can afford and can help you move faster, and with greater confidence, in competitive markets.”

One of the many advantages of working with a local real estate professional is that many have relationships with lenders who will be able to help you with this process. Once you have selected a lender, you will need to fill out their loan application and provide them with important information regarding “your credit, debt, work history, down payment and residential history.”

Freddie Mac describes the ‘4 Cs’ that help determine the amount you will be qualified to borrow:

  1. Capacity: Your current and future ability to make your payments
  2. Capital or cash reserves: The money, savings, and investments you have that can be sold quickly for cash
  3. Collateral: The home, or type of home, that you would like to purchase
  4. Credit: Your history of paying bills and other debts on time

Getting pre-approved is one of many steps that will show home sellers that you are serious about buying, and it often helps speed up the process once your offer has been accepted.

Bottom Line

Many potential home buyers overestimate the down payment and credit scores needed to qualify for a mortgage today. If you are ready and willing to buy, you may be pleasantly surprised at your ability to do so as well.


Posted by Cheryl Talbot ABR,GRI,e-PRO,MRP,SFR on December 13th, 2017 11:01 AMLeave a Comment

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December 8th, 2017 8:56 AM

The Cost of NOT Owning Your Home

The Cost of NOT Owning Your Home | Keeping Current Matters

Owning a home has great financial benefits, yet many continue to rent! Today, let’s look at the financial reasons why owning a home of your own has been a part of the American Dream for as long as America has existed.

Zillow recently reported that:

“In reality, buying or renting a home is an intensely personal decision, with emotional and even financial considerations that go beyond whether to invest in this one (admittedly large) asset. Looking strictly at housing market numbers, there is a concrete point at which buying a home makes more financial sense than renting it.”

What proof exists that owning is financially better than renting?

1. We recently highlighted the top 5 financial benefits of homeownership:

  • Homeownership is a form of forced savings.
  • Homeownership provides tax savings.
  • Homeownership allows you to lock in your monthly housing cost.
  • Buying a home is cheaper than renting.
  • No other investment lets you live inside of it.

2. Studies have shown that a homeowner’s net worth is 44x greater than that of a renter.

3. Just a few months ago, we explained that a family that purchased an average-priced home at the beginning of 2017 could build more than $48,000 in family wealth over the next five years.

4. Some argue that renting eliminates the cost of taxes and home repairs, but every potential renter must realize that all the expenses the landlord incurs are already baked into the rent payment– along with a profit margin!!

Bottom Line

Owning a home has always been, and will always be, better from a financial standpoint than renting.


Posted by Cheryl Talbot ABR,GRI,e-PRO,MRP,SFR on December 8th, 2017 8:56 AMLeave a Comment

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Mortgage Interest Rates Are Going Up... Should I Wait to Buy?
Mortgage Interest Rates Are Going Up… Should I Wait to Buy? | Keeping Current Matters

Mortgage interest rates, as reported by Freddie Mac, have increased over the last several weeks. Freddie Mac, along with Fannie Mae, the Mortgage Bankers Association and the National Association of Realtors, is calling for mortgage rates to continue to rise over the next four quarters.

This has caused some purchasers to lament the fact that they may no longer be able to get a rate below 3.5%. However, we must realize that current rates are still at historic lows.

Here is a chart showing the average mortgage interest rate over the last several decades:

Mortgage Interest Rates Are Going Up… Should I Wait to Buy? | Keeping Current Matters

Bottom Line

Though you may have missed getting the lowest mortgage rate ever offered, you can still get a better interest rate than your older brother or sister did ten years ago, a lower rate than your parents did twenty years ago, and a better rate than your grandparents did forty years ago.


Posted by Cheryl Talbot ABR,GRI,e-PRO,MRP,SFR on November 15th, 2017 3:32 PMLeave a Comment

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Multigenerational Households May Be the Answer to Price Increases

Multigenerational Households May Be the Answer to Price Increases | Keeping Current Matters

Multigenerational homes are coming back in a big way! In the 1950s, about 21%, or 32.2 million Americans shared a roof with their grown children or parents. According to an article by Realtor.com, “Nearly 1 in 5 Americans is now living in a multigenerational household – a household with two or more adult generations, or grandparents living with grandchildren – a level that hasn’t been seen in the U.S. since 1950.”

Another report that proves this point is the National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) 2017 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers which states that 13% of home buyers purchased multigenerational homes last year. The top 3 reasons for purchasing this type of home were:

  1. To take care of aging parents (22%, up from 19% last year)
  2. Cost savings (17%)
  3. Children over the age of 18 moving back home (16%, up from 14% last year)

Valerie Sheets, Spokesperson for Lennar, points out that,

“Everyone is looking for the perfect home for any number of family situations, such as families who opt to take care of aging parents or grandparents at home, or millennials looking to live with their parents while they attend school or save for a down payment.”

For a long time, nuclear families (a couple and their dependent children) became the accepted norm, but John Graham, co-author of “Together Again: A Creative Guide to Successful Multigenerational Living,” says, “We’re getting back to the way human beings have always lived in – extended families.”

This shift can be attributed to several social changes over the decades. Growing racial and ethnic diversity in the U.S. population helps explain some of the rise in multigenerational living; “Data suggest that multigenerational living is more prevalent among Asian (28%), Hispanic (25%), and African-American (25%) families, while U.S. whites have fewer multigenerational homes (15%).”

Additionally, women are a bit more likely to live in multigenerational conditions than are their male counterparts (12% vs. 10%, respectively). Last but not least, basic economics.

Valerie Sheets brings to light the fact that home prices have been skyrocketing in recent years. She says that, “As home prices increase, more families tend to opt for living together.”

Bottom Line

Multigenerational households are making a comeback. While it is a shift from the more common nuclear home, these households might be the answer that many families are looking for as home prices continue to rise in response to a lack of housing inventory.



Posted by Cheryl Talbot ABR,GRI,e-PRO,MRP,SFR on November 7th, 2017 10:25 AMLeave a Comment

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Don't Let Fear Stop You from Applying for a Mortgage

Don't Let Fear Stop You from Applying for a Mortgage | Keeping Current Matters

A considerable number of potential buyers shy away from jumping into the real estate market due to their uncertainty about the buying process. A specific cause for concern tends to be mortgage qualification.

For many, the mortgage process can be scary, but it doesn’t have to be!

In order to qualify in today’s market, you’ll need to have saved for a down payment (73% of all buyers made a down payment of less than 20%, with many buyers putting down 3% or less), a stable income and good credit history.

Throughout the entire home buying process, you will interact with many different professionals, all of whom perform necessary roles. These professionals are also valuable resources for you.

Once you’re ready to apply, here are 5 easy steps that Freddie Mac suggests you follow:

  1. Find out your current credit history & score – even if you don’t have perfect credit, you may already qualify for a loan. The average FICO®Score of all closed loans in September was 724, according to Ellie Mae.
  2. Start gathering all your documentation – income verification (such as W-2 forms or tax returns), credit history, and assets (such as bank statements to verify your savings).
  3. Contact a professional – your real estate agent will be able to recommend a loan officer that can help you develop a spending plan, as well as determine how much home you can afford.
  4. Consult with your lender – he or she will review your income, expenses, and financial goals to determine the type and amount of mortgage you qualify for.
  5. Talk to your lender about pre-approval – a pre-approval letter provides an estimate of what you might be able to borrow (provided your financial status doesn’t change), and demonstrates to home sellers that you are serious about buying!

Bottom Line

Do your research, reach out to professionals, stick to your budget, and be sure that you are ready to take on the financial responsibilities of becoming a homeowner.



Posted by Cheryl Talbot ABR,GRI,e-PRO,MRP,SFR on October 31st, 2017 11:15 AMLeave a Comment

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October 26th, 2017 1:27 PM
The #1 Reason to List Your House, NOW!
The #1 Reason to List Your House, NOW! | Keeping Current Matters

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) released the results of their latest Existing Home Sales Report which revealed that sales rose 0.7% month-over-month, but remain 1.5% lower than they were a year ago. Some may look at these numbers and think that now is not a good time to sell their house, but in fact, the opposite is true.

The national slowdown in sales is directly tied to a lack of inventory available for the buyers who are out in the market looking for their dream homes! The inventory of homes for sale has fallen year-over-year for the last 28 months and has had an upward impact on home prices.

NAR’s Chief Economist Lawrence Yun had this to say,

“Home sales in recent months remain at their lowest level of the year and are unable to break through, despite considerable buyer interest in most parts of the country.

Realtors® this fall continue to say the primary impediments stifling sales growth are the same as they have been all year: not enough listings – especially at the lower end of the market – and fast-rising prices that are straining the budgets of prospective buyers.” (emphasis added)

The houses that are on the market are selling fast, too! According to NAR’s Realtors Confidence Index, the median number of days it took for a house to go from listed to under contract over the past three months was 34.

Bottom Line

If you are one of the many homeowners who is debating listing your house for sale this year, the time is now! Meet with a local real estate professional who can guide you through the process and discuss the specifics of your market!


Posted by Cheryl Talbot ABR,GRI,e-PRO,MRP,SFR on October 26th, 2017 1:27 PMLeave a Comment

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October 24th, 2017 11:39 AM

5 Reasons to Hire a Real Estate Professional When Buying or Selling!

5 Reasons to Hire a Real Estate Professional When Buying or Selling! | Keeping Current Matters

Whether you are buying or selling a home, it can be quite an adventurous journey. This is why you need an experienced real estate professional to guide you on the path to your ultimate goal. In this world of instant gratification and internet searches, many sellers think that they can For Sale by Owner or FSBO.

The 5 reasons you NEED a real estate professional in your corner haven’t changed, but have rather been strengthened by the projections of higher mortgage interest rates & home prices as the market continues to pick up steam.

1. What do you do with all this paperwork?

Each state has different regulations regarding the contracts required for a successful sale, and these regulations are constantly changing. A true real estate professional is an expert in his or her market and can guide you through the stacks of paperwork necessary to make your dream a reality.

2. Ok, so you found your dream house, now what?

There are over 180 possible steps that need to take place during every successful real estate transaction. Don’t you want someone who has been there before, someone who knows what these actions are, to make sure that you achieve your dream?

3. Are you a good negotiator?

So maybe you’re not convinced that you need an agent to sell your home. After looking at the list of parties that you will need to be prepared to negotiate with, you’ll soon realize the value in selecting a real estate professional. From the buyer (who wants the best deal possible), to the home inspection companies, to the appraiser, there are at least 11 different people who you will need to be knowledgeable of, and answer to, during the process.

4. What is the home you’re buying/selling really worth?

It is important for your home to be priced correctly from the start to attract the right buyers and shorten the amount of time that it’s on the market. You need someone who is not emotionally connected to your home to give you the truth as to your home’s value. According to a study by Collateral Analytics, FSBOs achieve prices significantly lower than those from similar properties sold by real estate agents:

“FSBOs tend to sell for lower prices than comparable home sales, and in many cases below the average differential represented by the prevailing commission rate.”

Get the most out of your transaction by hiring a professional.

5. Do you know what’s really going on in the market?

There is so much information out there on the news and on the internet about home sales, prices, and mortgage rates; how do you know what’s going on specifically in your area? Who do you turn to in order to competitively and correctly price your home at the beginning of the selling process? How do you know what to offer on your dream home without paying too much, or offending the seller with a lowball offer?

Dave Ramsey, the financial guru, advises:

“When getting help with money, whether it’s insurance, real estate or investments, you should always look for someone with the heart of a teacher, not the heart of a salesman.”

Hiring an agent who has his or her finger on the pulse of the market will make your buying or selling experience an educated one. You need someone who is going to tell you the truth, not just what they think you want to hear.

Bottom Line

You wouldn’t replace the engine in your car without a trusted mechanic. Why would you make one of the most important financial decisions of your life without hiring a real estate professional?



Posted by Cheryl Talbot ABR,GRI,e-PRO,MRP,SFR on October 24th, 2017 11:39 AMLeave a Comment

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Thinking of Selling your Home? Competition is Coming

Thinking of Selling your Home? Competition is Coming | Keeping Current Matters

The number of building permits issued for single-family homes is the best indicator of how many newly built homes will rise over the next few months. According to the latest U.S. Census Bureau and U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development Residential Sales Report, the number of these permits were up 7.7% over last year.

How will this impact buyers?

More inventory means more options. Danielle Hale, Realtor.com’s Chief Economistexplained this is good news for the housing market – especially for those looking to buy:

“It’s not spectacular construction growth, but it’s slow and steady in the right direction. Eventually, the pickup in single-family home construction will mean [buyers] will have more options. Especially with the limited number of sales right now, more options are really needed.”

How will this impact sellers?

More inventory means more competition. Today, because of the tremendous lack of inventory, a seller can expect:

  1. A great price on their home as buyers outbid each other for it
  2. A quick sale as buyers have so little to choose from
  3. Fewer hassles as buyers don’t want to “rock the boat” on the deal

With an increase in competition, the seller may not enjoy these same benefits. As Hale said:

“As new construction continues to increase, home shoppers will eventually have more [choices] and a bit more time to make purchase decisions compared to today’s quick-moving housing market.”

Bottom Line

If you are considering the sale of your home, it might make sense to beat this new construction competition to the market.


Posted by Cheryl Talbot ABR,GRI,e-PRO,MRP,SFR on October 7th, 2017 11:42 AMLeave a Comment

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October 5th, 2017 9:45 AM

A Tale of Two Markets: A 6-Month Update

A Tale of Two Markets: A 6-Month Update | Keeping Current Matters

Six months ago, we reported that the mismatch between the type of inventory of homes for sale and the demand of buyers in the US was causing the formation of two markets.

In the starter and trade-up home categories, there were significantly more buyers than there were homes for sale, causing a seller’s market. In the premium, or luxury, home categories, the opposite was true as there was a surplus of these homes compared to the buyers that were out searching for their dream homes, which created a buyer’s market.

According to the National Association of Realtors latest Existing Home Sales Report, the inventory of existing homes for sale in today’s market is at a 4.2-month supply. Inventory is now 6.5% lower than this time last year, marking the 27th consecutive month of year-over-year decreases.

Looking at the latest report from Trulia, we can see that not much has changed, and in fact, recent natural disasters across the country have made inventory conditions even more dire.

Trulia’s market mismatch score measures the search interest of buyers against the category of homes that are available on the market. For example: “if 60% of buyers are searching for starter homes but only 40% of listings are starter homes, [the] market mismatch score for starter homes would be 20.”

The results of their latest analysis are detailed in the chart below.

A Tale of Two Markets: A 6-Month Update | Keeping Current Matters

Nationally, buyers are searching for starter and trade-up homes and are coming up short with the listings available, which is leading to a highly competitive seller’s market in these categories.

Premium homebuyers, on the other hand, have the best chance of less competition and more inventory of listings in their price range with a 14.7-point surplus, which is creating more of a buyer’s market.

Bottom Line

Real estate is local. If you are thinking about buying OR selling this fall, sit with a local real estate professional who can share with you the exact market conditions in your area.



Posted by Cheryl Talbot ABR,GRI,e-PRO,MRP,SFR on October 5th, 2017 9:45 AMLeave a Comment

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September 28th, 2017 4:18 PM
Why Are So Few Homes for Sale?
Why Are So Few Homes for Sale? | Keeping Current Matters

There is no doubt that the largest challenge in today’s housing market is a lack of housing inventory for sale. This challenge has been defined as an “overwhelming lack of supply,” and even a “straight up inventory crisis.”

First American just released the results of a survey which sheds light on the reasons for the current lack of supply.

The survey asked title agents and real estate professionals to identify what they believe are the top reasons for this lack of inventory in their markets. Here are the results of the survey:

  • 47% – existing homeowners are worried that they will not be able to find a home to buy
  • 5% – first-time buyer demand is absorbing a large share of available homes
  • 3% – existing homeowners’ mortgage rates are lower than the current rates
  • 6% – insufficient or negative equity in the home
  • 6% – foreign buyer demand is absorbing a large share of available homes

As the survey revealed, there is a shortage of current homeowners willing to put their homes on the market for one of three reasons (see numbers 1, 3 and 4 above).

Is this an opportunity for some homeowners?

The report on the survey explains:

“The crowd has spoken, and it seems in many markets home buyers and sellers alike are ‘imprisoned’ by the lack of housing inventory.”

That leaves a tremendous opportunity for every homeowner not facing these concerns. If you can put your home on the market today, you are subject to far less competition than at any time in recent history. That will result in your home selling quickly and for the highest possible price.

Bottom Line

While many homeowners are feeling imprisoned for multiple reasons, those who are not handcuffed by these concerns have a once in a lifetime opportunity to sell their houses at a peak selling time.


Posted by Cheryl Talbot ABR,GRI,e-PRO,MRP,SFR on September 28th, 2017 4:18 PMLeave a Comment

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