Home Horizons: Area Real Estate News & Market Trends

You’ll find our blog to be a wealth of information, covering everything from local housing market statistics and home values to community happenings. Our goal is to support our community and help you find a home in it.  Please reach out if you have any questions at all. We’d love to talk with you!

May 27, 2024

Home Warranty as a Seller Concession

Thinking about buying a home, but you’re worried about the upkeep? A home warranty may be able to help. It gives you peace of mind that you’ve got coverage for some repairs. And we may even be able to negotiate to get a seller to cover one for you. Not every seller is going to do it, but I can get the conversation started. Contact me today to learn more about this valuable tool.

Home Warranty

Posted in Market Updates
May 9, 2024

The Top 2 Reasons To Consider a Newly Built Home


When you’re planning a move, it’s normal to wonder where you’ll end up and what your future home is going to look like. Maybe you’ve got a specific picture of that house in your mind. But unless you came into this process knowing you want to buy a newly built home, you may not have pictured new home construction.

A trusted real estate agent can help walk you through these two reasons you may want to reconsider that.

1. Adding Newly Built Homes Could Give You More Options

There are two types of homes on the market: new and existing. A newly built home refers to a house that was just built or is under construction. An existing home is one a previous homeowner has already lived in. Right now, the inventory of existing homes is tight. But there may be options for you on the new home side of things.

Data from the Census and the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows that newly built homes are a bigger part of today’s housing inventory than the norm (see graph below):

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From 1983 to 2019 (the last normal year in the market), newly built homes made up only 13% of the total inventory of homes for sale. But today that number has climbed to over 33%.

Rest assured, after over a decade of underbuilding, builders aren’t overdoing it today. Even with an increase in new construction today, there’s still a significant housing shortage overall. But for you, the uptick in new builds can be a game changer because it gives you more options for your search.

2. Newly Built Homes May Be More Affordable Than You’d Think

You may still be wondering if a new build could really be an option for you. If you’ve previously written them off because you thought they would be out of your budget, consider this. The price gap between a newly built home and an existing house is shrinking. Here's why.

Builders are going to build what’s in demand. And they know people need more options right now, especially ones that are smaller and potentially more affordable. So, they’re focusing on building smaller homes at lower price points. The graph below shows the price difference between new and existing homes is shrinking as that happens:

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As LendingTree explains:

In the past, newly built homes have been much more expensive than existing homes — but that gap has been getting smaller recently. In some places today, you may find that the cost to build versus buy is roughly the same.”

And an article from CNBC says:

“While new builds are still sold for slightly more than existing homes, the price gap has significantly narrowed . . .”

Not to mention, some builders are even offering price cuts and mortgage rate buy-downs right now to sweeten the deal. Today there are many reasons new builds may be worth considering. Other buyers sure seem to think so. As Freddie Mac says:

"As the supply of existing homes for sale remains low and home prices continue to rise, more buyers are choosing to purchase new homes than in previous years."

Just know that buying a newly built home isn’t the same as buying an existing one. Builder contracts have different fine print. So, partner with a local agent who knows the market, builder reputations, and what to look for in those contracts so you have an expert on your side to help you explore this option.

Bottom Line

If you want to find out what builders are doing in our area, let’s connect and check it out together. And if you’re willing to cast a wider net to open up your options even more, we can talk about broadening your search to include other towns nearby.

Posted in Market Updates
May 2, 2024

What is Going on with Mortgage Rates

3 min read

You may have heard mortgage rates are going to stay a bit higher for longer than originally expected. And if you’re wondering why, the answer lies in the latest economic data. Here’s a quick overview of what’s happening with mortgage rates and what experts say is ahead.

Economic Factors That Impact Mortgage Rates

When it comes to mortgage rates, things like the job market, the pace of inflation, consumer spending, geopolitical uncertainty, and more all have an impact. Another factor at play is the Federal Reserve (the Fed) and its decisions on monetary policy. And that’s what you may be hearing a lot about right now. Here’s why.

The Fed decided to start raising the Federal Funds Rate to try to slow down the economy (and inflation) in early 2022. That rate impacts how much it costs banks to borrow money from each other. It doesn't determine mortgage rates, but mortgage rates do respond when this happens. And that’s when mortgage rates started to really climb.

And while there’s been a ton of headway seeing inflation come down since then, it still isn’t back to where the Fed wants it to be (2%). The graph below shows inflation since the spike in early 2022, and where we are now compared to their target rate:

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As the graph shows, we’re much closer to their goal of 2% inflation than we were in 2022 – but we’re not there yet. It's even inched up a hair over the last 3 months – and that’s having an impact on the Fed’s plans. As Sam Khater, Chief Economist at Freddie Macexplains:

“Strong incoming economic and inflation data has caused the market to re-evaluate the path of monetary policy, leading to higher mortgage rates.”

Basically, long story short, inflation and its impact on the broader economy are going to be key moving forward. As Greg McBride, Chief Financial Analyst at Bankrate, says:

It’s the longer-term outlook for economic growth and inflation that have the greatest bearing on the level and direction of mortgage rates. Inflation, inflation, inflation — that’s really the hub on the wheel.”

When Will Mortgage Rates Come Down?

Based on current market data, experts think inflation will be more under control and we still may see the Fed lower the Federal Funds Rate this year. It’ll just be later than originally expected. As Mike Fratantoni, Chief Economist at the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), said in response to the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) decision yesterday:

“The FOMC did not change the federal funds target at its May meeting, as incoming data regarding the strength of the economy and stubbornly high inflation have resulted in a shift in the timing of a first rate cut. We expect mortgage rates to drop later this year, but not as far or as fast as we previously had predicted.

In the simplest sense, what this says is that mortgage rates should still come down later this year. But timing can shift as new employment and economic data come in, geopolitical uncertainty remains, and more. This is one of the reasons it’s usually not a good strategy to try to time the market. An article in Bankrate gives buyers this advice:

“ . . . trying to time the market is generally a bad idea. If buying a house is the right move for you now, don’t stress about trends or economic outlooks.”

Bottom Line

If you have questions about what’s happening in the housing market and what that means for you, let’s connect.

Posted in Market Updates
April 29, 2024

Months of Inventory in Kitsap County

Wondering how much inventory we have in Kitsap County? This graph gives you a way to see how many months it will take to sell all the homes currently for sale in our area. Low inventory means little competition for home sellers and despite the higher interest rates homes are still selling fast. DM me to learn more about what's available and how fast things are selling right now. #keepingcurrentmatters #kcmlocal #housingsupply #homeinventory #housinginventory #homesforsale #realestatemarket #expertanswers

 

Posted in Market Updates
April 9, 2024

Don’t Let Your Student Loans Delay Your Homeownership Plans

If you have student loans and want to buy a home, you might have questions about how your debt affects your plans. Do you have to wait until you’ve paid off those loans before you can buy your first home? Or is it possible you could still qualify for a home loan even with that debt? Here’s a look at the latest information so you have the answers you need.

Bankrate article explains:

Roughly 60 percent of U.S. adults who have held student loan debt have put off making important financial decisions due to that debt . . . For Gen Z and millennial borrowers alone, that number rises to 70 percent.”

This includes one of the biggest financial decisions you’ll ever make, buying a home. But you should know, even with student loans, waiting to buy a home may not be necessary. While everyone’s situation is unique, your goal may be more within your reach than you realize. Here’s why. 

Can You Qualify for a Home Loan if You Have Student Loans?

According to an annual report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), 38% of first-time buyers had student loan debt and the typical amount was $30,000.

That means other people in a similar situation were able to qualify for and buy a home even though they also had student loans. And you may be able to do the same, especially if you have a steady source of income. As an article from Bankrate says:

“. . . you can have student loans and a mortgage at the same time. . . . If you have student loans and want a mortgage, there are multiple home loan programs you might qualify for . . .”

The key takeaway is, for many people, homeownership is achievable even with student loans. 

You don’t have to figure this out on your own. The best way to make a decision about your goals and next steps is to talk to the professionals. A trusted lender can walk you through your options based on your situation, and share what’s worked for other buyers.

Bottom Line

Lots of other people with student loan debt are able to buy their own homes. Talk to a lender to go over your options and see how close you are to reaching your goal. 

 

Posted in Market Updates
April 3, 2024

The Best Week To List Your House Is Almost Here

Are you thinking about making a move? If so, now may be the perfect time to start the process. That’s because experts say the best week to list your house is just around the corner.

A recent Realtor.com study looked at housing market trends over the past several years (with the exception of 2020, since it was an unusual year), and found the best week to put your house on the market this year is April 14-20:

“Every year, one week stands out from the rest as that perfect stretch of time when it’s great to be a home seller. This year, the week of April 14–20 is the best time to sell—that is, if sellers want to see lots of interest in their homes, sell quickly, and pocket some extra cash, according to Realtor.com® data.”

Here’s why this matters for you. While the spring market is a great time to sell no matter the week, this may be the peak sweet spot. And if you’ve been putting your plans on the back burner and waiting for the right time to act, this could be the nudge you need to make your move happen. As Hannah Jones, Senior Economic Research Analyst at Realtor.com explains:

“The third week of April brings the best combination of housing market factors for sellers. The best week offers higher buyer demand, lower competition [from other sellers], and fewer price reductions than the typical week of the year.”

But, if you want to get in on the action, you’ll need to move quickly and lean on the pros. Your local real estate agent is the perfect go-to when it comes to figuring out a plan to prep your house and get it on the market.

They’ll be able to offer advice to balance your target listing date with what you need to do from a repair and renovation standpoint. And they can walk you through exactly how to prioritize your list so you know what to tackle first.

For example, if your house is already in good shape, you’ll be able to really focus in on the smaller things that are easy to do and make a big impact. As an article from Investopedia says:

“You won’t have time for any major renovations, so focus on quick repairs to address things that could deter potential buyers.”

Here are some specific examples from that articlea blue and white sign with text

Just remember, even if you’re not ready to list within the next couple of weeks, that’s okay. The window of opportunity doesn’t close when this week ends. Spring is the peak homebuying season and it’s still a seller’s market, so you’ll be in the driver’s seat all season long. 

Bottom Line

Ready to get the ball rolling? Let’s connect and schedule a time to go over your next steps.

 

Posted in Market Updates
Feb. 13, 2024

What’s Really Happening with Mortgage Rates?

Are you feeling a bit unsure about what’s really happening with mortgage rates? That might be because you’ve heard someone say they’re coming down. But then you read somewhere else that they’re up again. And that may leave you scratching your head and wondering what’s true.

The simplest answer is: that what you read or hear will vary based on the time frame they’re looking at. Here’s some information that can help clear up the confusion.

Mortgage Rates Are Volatile by Nature

Mortgage rates don’t move in a straight line. There are too many factors at play for that to happen. Instead, rates bounce around because they’re impacted by things like economic conditions, decisions from the Federal Reserve, and so much more. That means they might be up one day and down the next depending on what’s going on in the economy and the world as a whole.

Take a look at the graph below. It uses data from Mortgage News Daily to show the ebbs and flows in the 30-year fixed mortgage rate since last October:

 

 

If you look at the graph, you’ll see a lot of peaks and valleys – some bigger than others. And when you use data like this to explain what’s happening, the story can be different based on which two points in the graph you’re comparing.

For example, if you’re only looking at the beginning of this month through now, you may think mortgage rates are on the way back up. But, if you look at the latest data point and compare it to the peak in October, rates have trended down. So, what’s the right way to look at it?

The Big Picture

Mortgage rates are always going to bounce around. It’s just how they work. So, you shouldn’t focus too much on the small, daily changes. Instead, to really understand the overall trend, zoom out and look at the big picture.

When you look at the highest point (October) compared to where rates are now, you can see they’ve come down compared to last year. And if you’re looking to buy a home, this is big news. Don’t let the little blips distract you. The experts agree, overall, that the larger downward trend could continue this year

Bottom Line

Let’s connect if you have any questions about what you’re reading or hearing about the housing market.

Posted in Market Updates
Feb. 7, 2024

Houses Are Still Selling Fast

Have you been thinking about selling your house? If so, here’s some good news. While the housing market isn't as frenzied as it was during the ‘unicorn’ years when houses were selling quicker than ever, they’re still selling faster than normal.

The graph below uses data from Realtor.com to tell the story of median days on the market for every January from 2017 all the way through the latest numbers available. For Realtor.com, days on the market means from the time a house is listed for sale until its closing date or the date it’s taken off the market. This metric can help give you an idea of just how quickly homes are selling compared to more normal years:

 

 

When you look at the most recent data (shown in green), it's clear homes are selling faster than they usually would (shown in blue). In fact, the only years when houses sold even faster than they are right now were the abnormal ‘unicorn’ years (shown in pink). According to Realtor.com:

“Homes spent 69 days on the market, which is three days shorter than last year and more than two weeks shorter than before the COVID-19 pandemic.”

What Does This Mean for You?

Homes are selling faster than the norm for this time of year – and your house may sell quickly too. That’s because more people are looking to buy now that mortgage rates have come down, but there still aren’t enough homes to go around. Mike Simonsen, Founder of Altos Researchsays:

“. . . 2024 is starting stronger than last year. And demand is increasing each week.”

Bottom Line

If you’re wondering if it’s a good time to sell your home, the most recent data suggests it is. The housing market appears to be stronger than it usually is at this time of year. To get the latest updates on what’s happening in our local market, let’s connect.

Posted in Market Updates
Feb. 2, 2024

Two Factors That Impact Mortgage Rates

If you’re looking to buy a home, you’ve probably been paying close attention to mortgage rates. Over the last couple of years, they hit record lows, rose dramatically, and are now dropping back down a bit. Ever wonder why?

The answer is complicated because there’s a lot that can influence mortgage rates. Here are just a few of the most impactful factors at play.

Inflation and the Federal Reserve

The Federal Reserve (Fed) doesn’t directly determine mortgage rates. But the Fed does move the Federal Funds Rate up or down in response to what’s happening with inflation, the economy, employment rates, and more. As that happens, mortgage rates tend to respond. Business Insider explains:

The Federal Reserve slows inflation by raising the federal funds rate, which can indirectly impact mortgages. High inflation and investor expectations of more Fed rate hikes can push mortgage rates up. If investors believe the Fed may cut rates and inflation is decelerating, mortgage rates will typically trend down.”

Over the last couple of years, the Fed raised the Federal Fund Rate to try to fight inflation and, as that happened, mortgage rates jumped up, too. Fortunately, the expert outlook for inflation and mortgage rates is that both should become more favorable over the course of the year. As Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at Realtor.comsays:

“[M]ortgage rates will continue to ease in 2024 as inflation improves . . .”

There’s even talk the Fed may actually cut the Fed Funds Rate this year because inflation is cooling, even though it’s not yet back to their ideal target.

The 10-Year Treasury Yield

Additionally, mortgage companies look at the 10-Year Treasury Yield to decide how much interest to charge on home loans. If the yield goes up, mortgage rates usually go up, too. The opposite is also true. According to Investopedia:

“One frequently used government bond benchmark to which mortgage lenders often peg their interest rates is the 10-year Treasury bond yield.”

Historically, the spread between the 10-Year Treasury Yield and the 30-year fixed mortgage rate has been fairly consistent, but that’s not the case recently. That means, there’s room for mortgage rates to come down. So, keeping an eye on which way the treasury yield is trending can give experts an idea of where mortgage rates may head next.

Bottom Line

With the Fed meeting later this week, experts in the industry will be keeping a close watch to see what they decide and what impact it’ll have on the economy. To navigate any mortgage rate changes and their impact on your moving plans, it’s best to have a team of professionals on your side.

Posted in Market Updates
Feb. 1, 2024

McCormick Tour of Homes

Join me the weekend of March 23rd-24th, from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM, to tour 12 stunning model homes crafted by 7 renowned homebuilders! Discover a variety of home plans and take an insider’s tour of the lifestyle destination offered within McCormick’s Master-Planned Community in Port Orchard, WA. RSVP Below.

Posted in Market Updates