17 Jul

Want To Buy a Home Now? Consider These Strategies.

Whether you're a first-time or move-up home buyer, you may be considering postponing a purchase if your area's affected by climbing home prices. Or you may be balking at today's mortgage interest rates (more about those later in this newsletter).
However, no matter where prices and rates may be, you have some different strategies to consider.Buy now, refinance later. While it's impossible to predict when interest rates will change, almost all lenders expect rates to eventually go down. If you're buying in an area where home prices are still rising, this approach could be worth considering, especially if you're renting and not building equity.Make a larger down payment. If you have the funds to do this, it could help you in several ways. In addition to a possibly lower interest rate on a mortgage, it will provide lower monthly payments. Also, you may be able to forgo mortgage insurance or cancel it sooner than later.Consider a shorter loan term. While this translates into higher monthly payments, it also earns you a lower rate. For example, while the current average rate for 30-year loans was 6.71% earlier this week (according to Freddie Mac), 15-year loans came in at an average rate of 6.06%. You'll also save quite a bit in long-term interest.1

MORTGAGE IQWill The 3% Loan Rate Ever Return?If you've decided to postpone buying a home because of the current interest rates, it's possible that you could wait longer than you'd planned.
If you're waiting for the rates we saw in 2021 (which sank to under 3%, according to Freddie Mac), you may never buy. Here's why.Almost every economist has predicted that the 3% mortgage rate will probably never return. This is because the mega-low rates were triggered by a unique, unforeseen set of circumstances that began with a global pandemic in 2020. Thankfully, pandemics are rare.While some forecasters predict that rates will decline over the next 12 months, they don't see rates dropping below 5% any time soon. One MLS chief economist described the feelings of many would-be home buyers:"People are still working through their five stages of grief on this mortgage rate stuff. And I think you have to reach the stage of acceptance ... rates aren't going to come down to where we were back during 2020 and 2021."One takeaway from these forecasts: Sure, mortgage rates might drop a little, but this may only end in frustration — especially if you're stuck in a property that isn't right for you. Perhaps it's time to accept the current rate atmosphere, buy that next home, and enjoy the truly unique rewards of home ownership.Ready to get started? Contact me and we'll review your options.2


Consumer Confidence Continues to Rise

According to the nonprofit think tank The Conference Board*, consumer confidence recently rose to its highest level in 17 months.
This was driven by several factors, including fewer worries about the possibility of a recession. However, spending plans were mixed.While more Americans anticipated a real vacation instead of past years' staycations, plans for bigger purchases like homes and appliances cooled due to higher interest rates.
  • Overall consumer confidence increased 7.2 points in June, reaching 109.7. This is the highest level since January 2022.
  • Confidence in the Present Situation (aka now) rose 6.4 points.
  • The Expectation Index (aka the future) climbed even more, from 71.5 to 79.3 points. This was the biggest jump in six months.
Respondent feedback was positive in most areas, with ratings for business conditions and the labor market rising. While there was still some optimism about the short term outlook, these were somewhat lower, only rising by 1%.While some respondents admitted they had put home buying plans on hold, these decreases were marginal. Plans for new home purchases decreased to 0.5% while those planning to buy an existing home fell to 2.2%.3* The Conference Board is a global, nonprofit think tank and business membership organization formed over 100 years ago. The board specializes in providing business, labor, climate and consumer data.

DID YOU KNOW?Think Like a Burglar Before VacationVacations should be 100% fun and relaxing, but it can be difficult to kick back if you're worried about burglars taking advantage of your absence. While it's always smart to stop your mail and activate a security system, there are other things you can do to deter break-ins. And since they're subtle clues that only burglars tend to consider, they may have never crossed your mind.
Don't have a dog? Fake it. Security pros agree that dogs are an excellent deterrent: even if they don't bark to raise the alarm, nobody wants to be bitten. You can pretend to own one by leaving a dog leash or bowl at the door, and even going the extra mile by putting up a "Do Not Let the Dog Out" sign or similar on a fence or gate.Put work boots to work. Leaving one or two pairs of muddy work boots outside your front or back doors suggests that someone's around. (Stop by a thrift shop and grab a pair if you don't have any.) If you live alone, a family's worth of footwear left outside can artificially bump up your home's population, even when you're not away.Light them up. In addition to using light timers inside the house, install motion detector lights to deter unwanted evening visitors. Be sure to mount these lights as high as possible so a burglar can't simply unscrew the bulb or break the fixture.Share your vacation selfies later, not sooner. Some burglars follow social media and make notes of anyone posting pics from afar. Save your holiday photos until you're home...you'll have more time to edit out sunburn, bad hair or photo-bombing tourists before posting them.4

PERSONAL FINANCESShould You Consider a Driver Monitoring App?You may be aware that more auto insurance companies are adopting methods to evaluate their customers' driving performance. It's a simple premise: if a data tracker (usually a phone app) tells your insurer that you practice safe driving habits, you may earn a lower premium. This is something many of us are searching for as rates and prices continue to climb.
While the first driver usage trackers were plug-in devices, they've evolved into iPhone and Android apps. You may recognize one or more of these "telematics programs": Progressive's SnapshotDrive SafeSave by State Farm, and DriveEasy from Geico.If you're considering allowing your insurer to monitor your driving habits so you may possibly save on your premium, here's some of the types of data it may collect:
  • How much you drive, how fast, and what times of the day you drive
  • Hard braking and rapid acceleration (both considered no-nos)
  • Whether you're naughty and text while driving
If you're undecided whether to use one of these apps, here are a few things to consider.
  • Even if you had a legitimate reason for braking hard or speeding up quickly—for example, if you brake to avoid a jaywalker—the app will record this as high-risk and possibly ding your score.
  • If your work hours are considered high-risk (most apps consider driving between 12 midnight and 4:00 am to be riskier for drivers), you may want to discuss this with your insurance company.
  • If you aren't comfortable sharing such a large amount of personal information, you may want to stick with your current policy.5

FOODAngel Food Cake and Berry Trifle
This Angel Food Cake and Berry Trifle is a delicious way to use summer berries and is quick and easy to prepare. If you're a fan of the Great British Bake-Off, you may have seen similar, more complex versions of this dessert prepared with brandy or liqueur.

REAL ESTATE TRENDSOn The Move Soon? Here's How to Keep on Truckin'.Summer is the most popular season for moving house, especially for households with school-aged children.
If you have a move coming up, it can be a challenge if you're unprepared, especially if you're going the DIY route with a rented moving truck. Here are some tips to keep in mind.
  1. Before you pack, declutter. Purge any items you no longer need to save money and time. This is often described as the most important step. (A moving sale could also help you finance moving costs.)
  2. If you're using one or more PTO days to move, take an additional day off so you can rest, connect your wifi and unpack your essentials.
  3. Load the heaviest items near the front of the moving truck. This helps ensure that all items' combined weight is distributed evenly.
  4. When loading bigger items, visualize what might shift if your driver is forced to stop suddenly. Will anything slide forward and damage another item?
  5. Make a list of everyone who will need your new address, including your employer, bank and/or credit union, the IRS and any subscriptions.
  6. Still looking for that dream home? Contact me for a no-obligation review of your finances and a complimentary loan pre-qualification.6
* The email will not be published on the website.