Misinformed About Owning versus Renting? Is it Truly More Affordable to Rent?

Recently, multiple headlines have been written asserting that homeownership is less affordable today than at any other time in the last decade. Though the headlines are accurate, they lack context and lead too many Americans to believe that they can’t partake in a major part of the American Dream – owning a home.

In 2008, the housing market crashed and home values fell by as much as 60% in certain markets. This was the major trigger to the Great Recession we experienced from 2008 to 2010. To come back from that recession, mortgage interest rates were pushed down to levels that were never seen before.

For the last ten years, you could purchase a home at a dramatically discounted price and attain a mortgage at a historically low mortgage rate.

Affordability skyrocketed.

Now that home values have returned to where they should be, and mortgage rates are beginning to increase, it is less affordable to own a home than it was over the last ten years.

However, what is not being reported is that it is MORE AFFORDABLE to own a home today than at any other time since 1985 (when data was first collected on this point).

If you take out the years after the crash, affordability today is greater than it has been at almost any time in American history.

This has not been adequately reported which has led to many Americans believing that they cannot currently afford a home.

As an example, the latest edition of Freddie Mac’s Research: Profile of Today’s Renter reveals that 75% of renters now believe it is more affordable to rent than to own their own homes. This percentage is the highest ever recorded. The challenge is that this belief is incorrect. Study after study has proven that in today’s market, it is less expensive to own a home than it is to rent a home in the United States.

Thankfully, some are starting to see this situation and accurately report on it. The National Association of Realtors, in their 2019 Housing Forecast, mentions this concern:

“While the U.S. is experiencing historically normal levels of affordability, potential buyers may be staying out of the market because of perceived problems with affordability.”

Bottom Line

If you are one of the many renters who would like to own their own homes, talk to me at 972-813-9788 or atfowler@newavenuerealty.com to find out if homeownership is affordable for you right now.

5 Tips for Building Your Next Home

The lack of existing inventory for sale has forced many homebuyers to begin looking at new construction. When you buy a newly constructed home instead of an existing home, there are many extra steps that must take place.

To ensure a hassle-free process, here are 5 tips to keep in mind if you are considering new construction:

1. Hire an Inspector

Despite the fact that builders must comply with town and city regulations, a home inspector will have your best interests in mind! When buying new construction, you will have between 1-3 inspections, depending on your preference (the foundation inspection, the pre-drywall inspection, and a final inspection).

These inspections are important because the inspector will often notice something that the builder missed. If possible, attend the inspection so that you can ask questions about your new home and make sure the builder fixes any problems found by the inspector.

2. Maintain good communication with your builder

Starting with the pre-construction meeting (where you will go over all the details of your home with your project manager), establish a line of communication. For example, will the builder email you every Friday with progress updates? If you are an out-of-state buyer, will you receive weekly pictures of the progress via email? Can you call the builder and if so, how often? How often can you visit the site?

3. Look for builder’s incentives

The good thing about buying a new home is that you can add the countertop you need, the mudroom you want, or an extra porch off the back of your home! However, there is always a price for such additions, and they add up quickly!

Some builders offer incentives that can help reduce the amount you spend on your home. Do your homework and see what sort of incentives the builders in your area are offering.

4. Schedule extra time into the process

There are many things that can impact the progress on your home. One of these things is the weather, especially if you are building in the fall and winter. Rain can delay the pouring of a foundation as well as other necessary steps at the beginning of construction, while snow can freeze pipes and slow your timeline.

Most builders already have a one-to-two-week buffer added into their timelines, but if you are also in the process of selling your current home, you must keep that in mind! Nobody wants to be between homes for a couple of weeks.

5. Visit the site often

As we mentioned earlier, be sure to schedule time with your project manager at least once a week to see the progress on your home. It’s easy for someone who is not there all the time to notice little details that the builder may have forgotten or overlooked. Additionally, don’t forget to take pictures! You might need them later to see exactly where that pipe is or where those electrical connections are once they’re covered up with drywall!

Bottom Line

Watching your home come to life is a wonderful experience that can sometimes come with hassles. To avoid some of these headaches, keep these tips in mind!

If you are ready to put your current home up for sale and find out what new construction is available in your area, call me at 972-813-9788 or atfowler@newavenuerealty.com and the search for your new one.

I DID A THING: CREDIT & ME

Purchase a copy: store.bookbaby.com/book/credit-and-me

For years, I had been helping my friends work on their credit and feeding them into being more financially responsible. 

So one day during a conversation, one of my friends suggested I put all my experiences in a book to help others. I side-eyed her because that is what I do when people suggest things that I would never think to do. However that evening, I thought long and hard about it. I would share my journey with my homeownership counseling clients to help them understand. We would talk about how they learned about money and so on. 

I wrote this book in 2016 and 2017. I finally released it in 2018. Here’s your chance to learn more about credit with my stories from my college mistakes. 

 
Purchase Here: store.bookbaby.com/book/credit-and-me

Year One: The Realtor BOUGHT A House

It’s October 30, 2018. That means that I’ve officially been a homeowner for a year.

What have I learned since moving in? Here are the things:

The one thing that took some getting adjusting to was the extra bills. In an apartment, I was used to water/sewer/trash being included in the rent. My first water/sewer/trash bill had me like 😶. I went through the breakdown and realized that the sewer amount was the highest cost. I called my mom and asked what makes a sewer bill high? How can I eliminate or lower that? Well, I can’t but I can do my best to conserve my water usage. So yes, if you visit me, please keep your shower usage to 10 minutes or less (that part is really for my mom who likes long shower however I have NEVER been able to run water like that at her house. I still can’t at 30.)

I knew I wasn’t purchasing a lawn mower nor did I want to relive my childhood of cutting grass. I hired services for that. That’s an extra cost.

My HOA assessment always seem to fall in a forgetful quarter. 😂 It comes every quarter but somehow I forget. All the other bills I was used to.

The one thing that has happened in a year was just how much my neighborhood has changed or my whole area for that fact. Last year, there was no house to the left of me.

Today, there is a 2 story home beside me. There is another one in front and one currently being built directly in front of me too. The wooded area behind me? Well it is still there but by next year, there will be houses behind me. I wanted a country feel for at least 2-3 years. Unfortunately, the growth of the area says differently. I’m happy about that. We have a Fuzzy’s Taco nearby so I’m content.

As a homeowner, I wanted to quickly finish out my home and have people visit. The one thing I learned was that your home is a work in progress. I still don’t think I’ve sat down and truly felt like “wow, I did this.” Not yet. I’m too busy at the moment. I will during this year’s holidays. I just knew when I moved in, I’d change so many things. However, after purchasing the fridge, new bed for the master bedroom, loveseat for the living room, I knew I didnt need to rush to complete my journey. I had that conversation with potential a first time homebuyer about pacing yourself for the adjustment. She quickly told me that she’d just finance everything.

As much as that can be possible, you want to take your time before doing that. Homeownership is a major focus and anything can happen. That’s one extra debt you don’t want to focus on when a repair is needed.

I quickly learned that my dreams outweighed my budget for my home. After one year, I still have builder grade items in my home (hello light fixtures I want gone…I digress.) With my style for my home, I realize I am not in a rush to find anything. I actually found light fixtures that I want but they don’t ship to the states. 🤦🏾‍♀️

I spend some Saturday mornings at Home Depot to learn new things to do around my house. Although, I can easily hire someone to do things, I’d rather find out how to do it and save the labor cost. I’ve learned how to install a toilet, install a backsplash, lay floors, and more. I’m my own handy woman. It’s actually quite therapeutic for myself.

Remember when I said my dreams outweighed my budget, let’s talk about my master closet. So in my home, I have 2 walk-in closets in my master suite. I badly wanted to have the bigger one designed. The first quote was $5000 for one section of the closet. I quickly went to Target and bought cube storage for $600 and arranged my closet. I’ll most likely get them professionally done within the next year but for the time being I needed something to get my life together.

I still love my backyard. It is my peaceful place. I haven’t designed it yet because it costs $17,000 for my dream design and I’m trying to figure out how to have cheaper dreams.

However, Ace and I have been absolutely loving our home and still creating it to be what we would love. Yes, Ace is my dog.

The space is perfect for me and perfect for a resale in the next 4 years. I plan to stay a minimum of 5 years and maximum of 10 years. Cheers to Year One!

5 Tips for Starting Your Home Search

In today’s real estate market, with low inventory dominating the conversation in many areas of the country, it can often be frustrating to be a first-time homebuyer if you aren’t prepared.

In a recent realtor.com article entitled, “How to Find Your Dream Home—Without Losing Your Mind,” the author highlights some steps that first-time homebuyers can take to help carry their excitement of buying a home throughout the whole process.

1. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage Before You Start Your Search

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, understanding your budget will give you the confidence of knowing whether or not your dream home is within your reach.

This step will also help you narrow your search based on your budget and won’t leave you disappointed if the home you tour, and love, ends up being outside your budget!

2. Know the Difference Between Your ‘Must-Haves’ and ‘Would-Like-To-Haves’

Do you really need that farmhouse sink in the kitchen to be happy with your home choice? Would a two-car garage be a convenience or a necessity? Could the ‘man cave’ of your dreams be a future renovation project instead of a make-or-break right now?

Before you start your search, list all the features of a home you would like and then qualify them as ‘must-haves’, ‘should-haves’, or ‘absolute-wish list’ items. This will help keep you focused on what’s most important.

3. Research and Choose a Neighborhood You Want to Live In

Every neighborhood has its own charm. Before you commit to a home based solely on the house itself, the article suggests test-driving the area. Make sure that the area meets your needs for “amenities, commute, school district, etc. and then spend a weekend exploring before you commit.”

4. Pick a House Style You Love and Stick to It

Evaluate your family’s needs and settle on a style of home that would best serve those needs. Just because you’ve narrowed your search to a zip code, doesn’t mean that you need to tour every listing in that zip code.

An example from the article says, “if you have several younger kids and don’t want your bedroom on a different level, steer clear of Cape Cod–style homes, which typically feature two or more bedrooms on the upper level and the master on the main.”

5. Document Your Home Visits

Once you start touring homes, the features of each individual home will start to blur together. The article suggests keeping your camera handy and documenting what you love and don’t love about each property you visit. They even go as far as to suggest snapping a photo of the ‘for sale’ sign on the way into the property to help keep the listings divided in your photo gallery.

Making notes on the listing sheet as you tour the property will also help you remember what the photos mean, or what you were feeling while touring the home.

Bottom Line

In a high-paced, competitive environment, any advantage you can give yourself will help you on your path to buying your dream home. Take advantage of my buyer brunch this Saturday. You can register here: buyerbrunch.eventbrite.com.

Source: Keeping Current Matters

The Crown is Yours.

Real estate is a complex nature. WHO you work with really does matter. New Avenue Realty has worked with hundreds of homeowners (future and current) to buy or sell real estate in North Texas with over $15 million sold. The proof is in the numbers. Your experience will be royal.

Want to BUY or SELL a home? Chat with us at 972-813-9788 or atfowler@newavenuerealty.com.

New Home Sales on the Rise!

According to the latest New Residential Sales Report from the Census Bureau, new construction sales in August were up 3.5% from July and 12.7% from last year! This marks the second consecutive month with double-digit year-over-year growth (12.8% in July).

The report also showed that builders have ramped up construction with an increase in new construction starts and completions. The summer months are often a busy time for builders as they capitalize on the warmer weather to be able to finish projects.

Below is a table showing the change in starts, completions, and sales from last August.

New Home Sales Up 12.7% From Last Year | Keeping Current Matters

Other notable news from the report is that the percentage of new construction sales in the $200-$299k range has continued to break away from the $300-$399k range.

This shows that builders are starting to build lower-priced homes that will help alleviate some of the inventory challenges in the starter and trade-up home categories. The chart below shows the full breakdown.

New Home Sales Up 12.7% From Last Year | Keeping Current Matters

What does this mean for buyers and sellers?

If you are thinking of buying or selling in today’s market, you no doubt have heard that there is a shortage of existing homes for sale which has been driving home prices up across the country. The additional new construction coming to the market could help alleviate this shortage, but we are still not back up to pre-crisis levels.

3 Ways to Prepare for Homeownership While Renting

You may not be ready to buy your first home, but that doesn’t mean you can’t prepare now. Here are three actions you can do while renting that will put you in a better position when you’re ready to buy.

Take a homeowner’s budget for a test drive. While you can’t predict all homeownership costs to the last penny, you can come up with a rough estimate of how owning a home will affect your budget. A REALTOR® can help you figure out how much you can afford, the potential mortgage payment you’d make, your local property taxes, and repair costs you might want to consider as a homeowner.

Check your credit report. Before you apply for a loan, request a free credit report to find out what a lender would see. If your report has errors, you can correct them before they affect your ability to qualify for a mortgage loan. And you might be able to take steps to improve your credit before purchasing a property. Your REALTOR® may be able to help you find resources to repair your credit.

Create a realistic wish list. There’s probably not a home that will offer every single amenity you desire, but you should have a general idea of what you’re looking for. So while a home with fewer than two bathrooms may be non-negotiable, perhaps you’d see the potential in one with a smaller kitchen or a not-so-appealing exterior paint job.

It’s never too early to talk to a REALTOR® when you know you’re going to buy a home. A REALTOR® can answer your questions about the homebuying process and help you avoid surprises along the way.

Article: Texas Association of Realtors

Is the Real Estate Market Finally Getting Back to Normal?

The housing market has been anything but normal for the last eleven years. In a normal real estate market, home prices appreciate 3.7% annually. Below, however, are the price swings since 2007 according to the latest Home Price Expectation Survey:

After the bubble burst in June 2007, values depreciated 6.1% annually until February 2012. From March 2012 to today, the market has been recovering with values appreciating 6.2% annually.

These wild swings in values were caused by abnormal ratios between the available supply of inventory and buyer demand in the market. In a normal market, there would be a 6-month supply of housing inventory.

When the market hit its peak in 2007, homeowners and builders were trying to take advantage of a market that was fueled by an “irrational exuberance.”

Inventory levels grew to 7+ months. With that many homes available for sale, there weren’t enough buyers to satisfy the number of homeowners/builders trying to sell, so prices began to fall.

Then, foreclosures came to market. We eventually hit 11 months inventory which caused prices to crash until early 2012. By that time, inventory levels had fallen to 6.2 months and the market began its recovery.

Over the last five years, inventory levels have remained well below the 6-month supply needed for prices to continue to level off. As a result, home prices have increased over that time at percentages well above the appreciation levels seen in a more normal market.

That was the past. What about the future?

We currently have about 4.5-months inventory. This means prices should continue to appreciate at above-normal levels which most experts believe will happen for the next year. However, two things have just occurred that are pointing to the fact that we may be returning to a more normal market.

1. Listing Supply is Increasing

Both existing and new construction inventory is on the rise. The latest Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors revealed that inventory has increased over the last two months after thirty-seven consecutive months of declining inventory. At the same time, building permits are also increasing which means more new construction is about to come to market.

2. Buyer Demand is Softening

Ivy Zelman, who is widely respected as an industry expert, reported in her latest ‘Z’ Report:

“While we continue to expect a resumption of growth in resale transactions on the back of easing inventory in 2019 and 2020, our real-time view into the market through our Real Estate Broker Survey does suggest that buyers have grown more discerning of late and a level of “pause” has taken hold in many large housing markets.

Indicative of this, our broker contacts rated buyer demand at 69 on a 0- 100 scale, still above average but down from 74 last year and representing the largest year-over-year decline in the two-year history of our survey.”

With supply increasing and demand waning, we may soon be back to a more normal real estate market. We will no longer be in a buyers’ market (like 2007-February 2012) or a sellers’ market (like March 2012- Today).

Prices won’t appreciate at the levels we’ve seen recently, nor will they depreciate. It will be a balanced market where prices remain steady, where buyers will be better able to afford a home, and where sellers will more easily be able to move-up or move-down to a home that better suits their current lifestyles.

Bottom Line

Returning to a normal market is a good thing. However, after the zaniness of the last eleven years, it might feel strange. If you are going 85 miles per hour on a road with a 60 MPH speed limit and you see a police car ahead, you’re going to slow down quickly. But, after going 85 MPH, 60 MPH will feel like you’re crawling. It is the normal speed limit, yet, it will feel strange.

That’s what is about to happen in real estate. The housing market is not falling apart. We are just returning to a more normal market which, in the long run, will be much healthier for you whether you are a buyer or a seller.

Mistakes To Avoid On Your First Buy/Sell

Mistakes To Avoid On Your First Buy/Sell

If this the first time you’re considering buying a home, or selling your first purchase, there are a lot of possible challenges you can end up facing. Having the right agent can ensure you’re able to get through these challenges, but since some of the issues are universal, let’s review some mistakes you want to avoid making.

1. THE RIGHT PRICE

Pricing a property is a science of it’s own. There are a lot of components and factors, so many small details, that ultimately lead to the value of a home. Although there are a lot of sites with estimates, namely Zillow, the technology uses on online sites to determine property values are simply not accurate. Zillow even states that their numbers can be inaccurate up to a whopping 20%. Without a background as a real estate professional, it’s virtually impossible for a consumer to be able to know the proper components needed to price a home. When you’re purchasing a home, you’re want to find a deal, can lead to stubbornness about what you’re willing to pay and what you think a home is worth. But what you WANT it to be worth is the complete opposite of what it should sell for. If you’re a first time seller, you may want to sell your home for as much as you can squeeze out of it, but this can lead to unrealistic expectations, and ultimately lead to an overpriced home that never sells. Don’t make the mistake of assuming you know what a home’s value should be. Instead, partner with a real estate agent that truly is working for your best interest, and let them provide you the tools to support home values, so you can place an offer, or price your home, at a number that makes sense.

2. REFUSING TO NEGOTIATE 

Pricing a property is a science of it’s own. There are a lot of components and factors, so many small details, that ultimately lead to the value of a home. Although there are a lot of sites with estimates, namely Zillow, the technology uses on online sites to determine property values are simply not accurate. Zillow even states that their numbers can be inaccurate up to a whopping 20%. Without a background as a real estate professional, it’s virtually impossible for a consumer to be able to know the proper components needed to price a home. When you’re purchasing a home, you’re want to find a deal, can lead to stubbornness about what you’re willing to pay and what you think a home is worth. But what you WANT it to be worth is the complete opposite of what it should sell for. If you’re a first time seller, you may want to sell your home for as much as you can squeeze out of it, but this can lead to unrealistic expectations, and ultimately lead to an overpriced home that never sells. Don’t make the mistake of assuming you know what a home’s value should be. Instead, partner with a real estate agent that truly is working for your best interest, and let them provide you the tools to support home values, so you can place an offer, or price your home, at a number that makes sense.

If you go into a sale, or purchase, refusing to make negotiations, hard-set on what you want without exception, you’re more than likely going to cause a lot of grief and stress for yourself during the sales process. When you’re looking to buy or sell a home, you have to have an open mind about negotiations. They are a common practice within the industry, with buyers wanting to spend less and sellers wanting to net more. If neither party is willing to make negotiations, you’ll find yourself in a contract time and time again, only to fall apart before you can finally close on the home. Having a great agent will help you ensure you make negotiations that are reasonable to lead both parties to the closing table, without compromising you. 

3. REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS

Although we all have an idea in our mind what our dream home should be, sometimes the market, and your budget, don’t fit realistically into check marking everything off of your list. Find an agent that helps you look for the most important needs in your dream house, but keep an open mind to a home that fits most of your needs, but not necessarily all of them. Having too many expectations within a home can become stressful and result in never finding a home that really matches your needs. If a home has the major components you are seeking, get creative and see if the other things you want can be added down the road. Have a certain number of non-negotiable items, like bedroom/bathroom count, but then have a list of “wants.”

4. YOU’RE NOT ALONE, DON’T GO IT ALONE

Don’t make the mistake of trying to handle the sales process all on your own. There is a reason that the real estate profession, and the laws around it, are as strong as ever. Real estate agents are a necessity during the sales process to ensure the right steps are taken to get a home sold. Buying and selling is a difficult process that requires knowledge and expertise that comes from a professional within the industry. From legal terms, to finding homes that aren’t even listed on the market, there are a lot of ins and outs un-experienced buyers and sellers may not think about, which can lead to losing value on your home or never finding the right one. Avoid the stress of “learning the hard way” and find a professional that can give you the guidance you need to get the task at hand completed and ensure you’re happy with the outcome.