From the grocery store to your energy bills, inflation has become a reality of everyday life. And while June’s inflation reading of 9.1% – a 40-year high – has caused many people to reexamine their budgets, hard assets like real estate are still very much in favor because they offer protection against rising prices. Here are a few reasons why real estate can serve as a hedge against inflation:
Fixed Expenditure – With a fixed-rate mortgage, the monthly payment (principal and interest) for your home will remain the same, whereas rental costs will rise. On top of that, mortgages become “more affordable” over time as wages increase and the value of the dollar decreases.
Home Price Appreciation – In most cases a tangible asset like real estate gets more valuable over time, increasing your equity as your monthly payment stays the same.
Housing Demand – Regardless of economic conditions, there will aways be a demand for real estate, because housing, whether owned or rented, is an essential need. However, beyond shelter and investment diversification, owning a home provides a sense of enjoyment too – a return that goes beyond the financial.There are aspects of inflation that are unavoidable, from increased prices on consumer goods to a fluctuating stock market, but real estate is one of the most reliable ways to fight inflation not just this year but any year.
The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) recently announced that it will raise loan limits for mortgages backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, giving many homebuyers greater purchasing power. Starting in 2021, the maximum conforming loan limit for single-unit properties will increase to $548,250 – a 7.4% increase from the current limit of $510,400.
The announcement is positive news for homebuyers, who will have the opportunity to borrow more money under conforming loan guidelines in addition to taking advantage of record low mortgage rates. Any loan amount above the conforming limit is considered a jumbo loan. Jumbo loans generally have more stringent requirements and tends to carry higher interest rates.
The exact conforming loan limit varies geographically, and while it will increase to $548,250 throughout most of the country including Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, and Wisconsin, it will be higher in more expensive markets such as areas in California and New York. Raised limits reflect rising home prices throughout the U.S. including Chicagoland, where prices are appreciating after remaining relatively flat over the last few years.
How does this affect you?
Connect with a lender to find out! But as a general rule, most experts say that your housing expenses should not exceed 28 percent of your gross monthly income, but a variety of factors – from your credit score to other debt – can open this ratio up to a pretty wide range. Remember that there are other costs involved in buying a home outside of the down payment, such as closing costs, moving, decorating, and remodeling expenses. You should also consult with your accountant or financial advisor to talk about how real estate affects your financial goals. While these new loan limits greatly help buyers, knowing the bottom line is essential. Some lenders I HIGHLY recommend:
By now you know that 2022 was no walk in the park for the real estate market. Rising mortgage rates, falling stocks and high inflation gave buyers and sellers the blues and brought the doom-and-gloomers out of the woodwork. But the housing bears may be a little too downbeat heading into 2023 given a number of factors supporting conditions for a decent market, if not a good one. It may not feel as euphoric as 2021, but the fact is millions of homebuyers across the country will come to the closing table this year…and live to tell about it.
Here are five reasons we feel positive about the 2023 market.
1. Low Inventory
The sudden drop in demand that occurred when rising mortgage rates forced would-be buyers to the sidelines could have done a number on home prices. However low inventory, which is nearly 33% below pre-pandemic levels, has helped keep prices at or near recent highs. Normally, low inventory wouldn’t be cause for celebration, but in the current environment, it’s one factor that has stabilized the market.
2. ROI Potential
Sellers who think they missed their window of opportunity to achieve peak pricing may not be seeing the forest for the trees. According to S&P/Case-Shiller, median home prices in the Chicago metro are up 28% over pre-pandemic levels, while nationally prices are up 39%. Even if home prices undergo a modest correction this year, most sellers should still enjoy a healthy return on investment.
3. Swift Market Times
Another sign of a healthy market: homes are still selling fast. In December, the average market time across the Chicago metro was just 45 days. Meanwhile, in Chicagoland, homes that required no price changes sold in less than 20 days in each of the last three months of 2022.
4. No Relief In Renting
Mortgage rates have driven the cost of homeownership higher, and as a result many people have turned to the rental market. But what they’ve found, especially in major metros like Chicago, is rents near all-time highs. One has to ask oneself if it’s better to start building equity and enjoying the tax benefits of homeownership now or to keep paying a landlord’s mortgage?
5. The New Normal
While mortgages in the 6% range may be a shock compared to recent years, they’re still a full point below the 50-year average. Slowly but surely, the market is absorbing this new reality. Better yet, the Fed’s inflation fight appears to be working, and as inflation comes down rates should follow, giving today’s buyers the opportunity to refinance. The artificially low rates of the pandemic are history, but many a strong market has ridden on the back of rates in the 5s and 6s.
For more information on the market & your particular neighborhood, reach out to me!
Whether you’re in the process of buying or selling a home, or just keep up with real estate news, you’ve probably heard about the lack of inventory in housing markets throughout the country.
While fewer properties on the market means increased competition for buyers, there are still ways for home shoppers to navigate inventory challenges and have an edge in the marketplace. Here are a few tips :
Tap into Pre-Market Opportunities
Pre-market (or private market) listings are homes that are for sale (i.e., there is a signed listing agreement), but are not yet publicly listed on the MLS. As a result, buyers won’t find these listings on major search portals like Zillow, Trulia, or Realtor.com, or national brokerage sites such as Redfin.
This could be for a variety of reasons. For example, a seller may want to do some prep work to get their home ready for sale or may be waiting for spring market. In some cases, it’s the desire for more privacy.
Pre-market listings make up a growing segment of the market, and they are typically on networks only available to real estate agents. And when inventory is low and there is strong competition among buyers, it’s so important to work with an agent that can tap into these networks and keep you informed on new opportunities.
All of my clients have access to Zenlist, a home search app that includes both active listings from the MLS and pre-market listings, all in one collaborative platform. Meanwhile, @properties’ internal @agent app is another resource that helps match my buyers with homes for sale. Reach out to me to learn more about these networks.
An up-to-date mortgage pre-approval (or proof of funds if you’re a cash buyer) is essential if you’re looking to purchase a home nowadays. As a buyer, this not only lets you know what you can afford, but also lets the seller know that you’re a qualified buyer, which is especially important in today’s environment if in-person showings are involved.
Talk to your mortgage broker to make sure your pre-approval is current, and if you don’t have a mortgage broker, your agent can share recommendations.
Request a Digital CMA
Whether you’re just starting your home search or preparing to make an offer on a property, a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) will give you insights into pricing and market activity in your specific area.
@properties’ proprietary Digital CMA takes the traditional CMA (think paper printouts and PDFs) to the next level by providing real-time MLS data in an interactive, digital platform that you can access on the fly. You can also add properties to the report and leave comments for me to review.
Ultimately the Digital CMA ensures you always have the most accurate data to make the most informed offer on a property.
Make Your Offer Stand Out
When inventory is low, multiple offer scenarios are more common. If you’re ready to make an offer on a home you love, work with your agent to do everything you can to make your offer stand out, especially if the seller has other offers.
Buyers in search of a new home this spring are benefitting from Zenlist, a new technology that offers access to the most complete and up-to-date database of homes in the Chicagoland marketplace. Zenlist is a gamechanger for how buyers and their agents work together to successfully conduct home searches, especially in today’s very competitive, low-inventory market. If you haven’t read my all encompassing post on home buying, be sure to read that next!
Here are 10 things you can do with Zenlist:
Check Out Thousands of Listings (even before they hit the market)
Zenlist gives homebuyers access to the greatest number of local listings by combining active listings from the MLS with pre-market (or private) listings that aren’t available on popular apps like Zillow, Trulia, Redfin, or Realtor.com. With today’s inventory being so low, this is an incredible tool to have as a buyer because it gives you the opportunity to see a growing segment of the market that is normally reserved for agents.
Collaborate With Ease
Homebuyers can only gain access to Zenlist through a licensed real estate agent. Once on the app, buyers and agents can save searches, share them back and forth, share and comment on listings, and send messages. Looking with a family member or partner? Zenlist allows you to collaborate with them too. See a home you like? Just make a note, and your co-buyer and agent can see it and respond.
Send Questions Directly to Your Real Estate Agent
Have questions or thoughts about a specific listing? Send them directly to your real estate agent through the app. Zenlist lets you ask questions and discuss listings with your agent in one convenient place, rather than jumping from email to text to calls.
Within the app, you can easily build tour folders of homes that you want to see in person, giving your agent everything they need to request a showing. This includes any of the notes or questions you’ve made on the home.
Immediately Receive Notifications
In a market where inventory is low and demand is high, it’s important to be the first to know when a home fitting your criteria hits the market. Zenlist is on it, and instantly notifies you of new listings – including pre-market listings – the minute they hit the app. Zenlist usually posts new listings faster than Redfin or Zillow.
Filter Searches Easily and Intuitively
Whether you are looking for a home within a particular school district or you need a three-car garage, Zenlist lets you filter searches with greater specificity than other apps. You can even draw asymmetrical search boundaries, and easily hide listings that don’t fit your criteria, giving your agent even more insights into your preferences to help with your search.
Google Street View is integrated into Zenlist, making it easy to check out an area virtually. You can explore a neighborhood and its shops, restaurants, and amenities before making an in-person visit.
Keep Track of Homes
Zenlist keeps track of all the homes you’ve toured as well as upcoming showings.
View Home Layouts
In the age of virtual showings, getting an idea of a home’s layout is crucial to your search. Zenlist provides a list of rooms and dimensions per floor level for every listing so that you can really envision the home (even if it doesn’t have a floorplan) before scheduling an in-person showing.
View Tax and Assessor Information
Zenlist makes listing information extremely transparent. You can view property tax information, as well as the past sales history of every home.
For more information on Zenlist and to gain access to the platform, reach out to me!