Should I Refinance My Home?

 

With the recent lower interest rates, many homeowners are wondering if they should refinance.

To decide if refinancing is the best option for your family, start by asking yourself these questions:

Why do you want to refinance?

There are many reasons to refinance, but here are three of the most common ones:

  1. Lower your interest rate and payment – This is the most popular reason. If you have a 5% interest rate or higher, it might be worth seeing if you can take advantage of the current lower interest rates, hovering below 4%, to reduce your monthly payment and overall cost of the loan.
  2. Shorten the term of your loan – If you have a 30-year loan, it may be advantageous to change it to a 15 or 20-year loan to pay off your mortgage sooner.
  3. Cash-out refinance – With home prices increasing, you might have enough equity to cash out and invest in something else, like your children’s education, a vacation home, or a new business.

Once you know why you might want to refinance, ask yourself the next question:

How much is it going to cost?

There are fees and closing costs involved in refinancing, and Lenders Network explains:

“If you were to refinance that loan into a new loan, total closing costs will run between 2%-4% of the loan amount.”

They also explain that there are options for no-cost refinance loans, but be on the lookout:

“A no-cost refinance loan is when the lender pays the closing costs for the borrower. However, you should be aware that the lender makes up this money from other aspects of the mortgage. Usually pay charging a slightly higher interest rate so they can make the money back.”

If you’re comfortable with the costs of refinancing, then ask yourself one more question:

Is it worth it?

To answer this one, we’ll use an example. Let’s assume you have a $200,000 home loan. A 4% refinance cost will be $10,000. If you want to lower your interest rate from 6% to 4%,  then refinancing is going to save you $244 per month. To break even ($10,000/$244), you need to continue owning your home for over 40 months.

Now that you know how the math shakes out, think about how much longer you’d like to own your current home. If you plan to stay for more than 3 years, then maybe it is advantageous for you to refinance.

If, however, your current home does not fulfill your present needs, you might want to consider using your potential refinance costs for a down payment on a new move-up home. You will still get a lower interest rate than the one you have on your current house, and with the equity you’ve already built, you can finally purchase the home of your dreams.

Bottom Line

There are many opportunities for growth in the current real estate market. To find out what’s right for your family, meet with a local real estate professional who can help you understand your options and guide you toward the best decision.

 

 

Posted on July 16, 2019 at 10:12 pm
Becky and Steve Larsen | Category: Helpful Information, Statistical Information, Strategy

2020 Real Estate Excise Tax Laws are Changing!

The majority of sellers will enjoy a slight savings once the new tax structure starts in 2020, however, sellers whose homes are worth $1.5M or more should pay close attention as the tiered system will cost them more in 2020. If you own a high-end home and have been considering downsizing, doing so inside of 2019 may be a winning strategy.

If you or someone you know is curious about the value of your home or you have considered a move, please reach out. It is our goal to help keep our clients informed and empowered to make good real estate decisions.

 

 

 

 

Posted on June 27, 2019 at 10:11 pm
Becky and Steve Larsen | Category: Helpful Information, Statistical Information, Uncategorized

Multigenerational Homes Are on the Rise

We are seeing the trend everywhere…….Why are Multigenerational Homes on the Rise?

 

As loved ones start to get older, we start to wonder: how long will they be able to live alone?  Will they need someone there to help them with daily life? There’s a reason to ask those questions now more than ever, as the average life expectancy in the U.S. is 78 years old!  As a result, 41% of Americans in the market are searching for a home that can accommodate a multigenerational family.

The graph below shows the number of people by generation that purchased a multigenerational home because they will either be taking care of an aging parent or they just want to spend time together.Multigenerational Homes Are on the Rise | Keeping Current Matters

Of those buyers, 26% indicated they will be taking care of an aging parent, and 14% said they want to spend time with an aging parent. These numbers do not come as a surprise. According to Pew Research Center, 64 million Americans (20% of the population) lived in a multigenerational household in 2016 (Last numbers available).Multigenerational Homes Are on the Rise | Keeping Current MattersAn increasing number of studies affirm the benefits of being part of a multigenerational household. These benefits aren’t just for the grandchildren, but for the grandparents as well. According to these two resources:

The University of Oxford

“Children who are close to their grandparents have fewer emotional and behavioral problems and are better able to cope with traumatic life events, like a divorce or bullying at school”.

Boston College

“Researchers found that emotionally close ties between grandparents and adult grandchildren reduced depressive symptoms in both groups”.

This research gives helpful insight into why 41% of Americans are in the market to buy a multigenerational home.

Bottom Line

If you have a home that could accommodate a multigenerational family and are thinking about selling, now is the perfect time to put it on the market! The number of buyers looking for this type of home will only continue to increase.

 

Keeping Current Matters – Published May 2019

 

Posted on June 3, 2019 at 11:39 pm
Becky and Steve Larsen | Category: Helpful Information, Statistical Information

Generational Shift Impacts Demand for Real Estate

 

The generational shift that is happening in our country right now is having a strong influence on demand for real estate. As the Millennials gain a stronger foothold into their adulthood, Generation X settles in with family, Boomers move towards retirement and the Silent Generation find themselves making moves for health reasons, the desire to match their homes to the time in their life is creating strong demand in the real estate market.

In the month of April, the absorption rate based on pending sales was 81% in north King County and 91% in south Snohomish County. Historically low interest rates are helping to fuel this demand. In fact, rates are over half a point lower than they were six months ago.  The low rates are enabling people to make moves with less debt service to satisfy their changing needs for housing based on their age and lifestyle. Below you can see a chart from the National Association of Realtors outlining this motivation.

Recently, the National Association of Realtors did a survey of home buyers to help understand the generational influence on real estate. From July 2017 to June 2018 they gathered data which outlined the top motivators for each age group. Let’s take a look at what caused these groups to make moves.

Young Millennials (1990-1998)
This group accounted for 11% of all home buyers and were predominantly first-time home buyers. Motivated by the desire to start building wealth through owning real estate and purchasing as close to work as possible, this group enjoyed small ramblers, townhomes and condos. This group used financing to obtain their purchases and used savings or gift funds to amass their down payment. A common misconception from this group is that they need a large down payment in order to purchase. This group utilized loan programs with smaller, single-digit down payments to help get their foot in the door of becoming a home owner and building wealth.

Older Millennials (1980-1989)
This group accounted for 26% of all home buyers, the largest group! They have become more established in their careers and are getting married and having children, which is creating the need for a larger home. They tend to gravitate toward larger homes and are willing to move a bit further away from work to obtain the larger square footage. This group is moving into the suburbs and considering school districts and commute times. Some were able to move equity from their first home to the next, creating a larger down payment;  others bought for the first time to avoid high rents.

Generation X (1965-1979)
This group accounted for 24% of all home buyers, the second largest group. They are motivated to upgrade to the largest square footage of all, and take a multi-generational approach to their housing. Many with aging children and/or parents, it is not uncommon for this group to consider having room for adult children or older parents. Still in prime earning years, proximity to work is very important.  Positive equity positions have helped this group make these transitions.

Younger Boomers (1955-1964)
This group accounted for 18% of all home buyers. Job change and desire to be closer to friends and family motivated this group. Positive equity growth enabled some of this group to have sizable down payments. Another interesting fact about this group is that one in four were a single female, some of which were first-time home buyers.  In some cases divorce and death lead individuals to still take on home ownership to build wealth and avoid high rents.

Older Boomers (1946-1955)
This group accounted for 14% of all home buyers. The ability to move equity from one home to the next was a huge influence for this group, and enabled them to find that “forever home” with large down payments and in some cases with “all cash”. The house with less maintenance, more upgrades, possibly further away from job centers, but still close to family and friends.  Single level living is of high priority for this group along with turn-key finishes.

Silent Generation (1925-1945)
This group accounted for 7% of all home buyers and often centered themselves in senior living choices. Smaller homes or condos with stair free access in communities close to family and health services are a priority for this group. Through years of equity growth many of these purchases are “all cash” or only with the need for a very small mortgage.

Life changes motivate real estate decisions.  Career changes, marriage, divorce, family size, retirement, and the desire to be close to family and friends are just some of the reasons people decide to make moves. Fortunately, today’s low interest rates and the ability to transfer equity from one property to another is having a positive effect on demand for real estate. The recent balancing of the market due to more inventory has also made it a bit easier for first-time home buyers to purchase a home.

If you’re curious about the market and how your goals, current lifestyle, and financial position measure up, please contact me. We can help you analyze your ability to match your home to your life. It is our goal to help keep our clients informed and empower strong decisions.

Posted on May 29, 2019 at 9:21 pm
Becky and Steve Larsen | Category: Statistical Information, Strategy

Q1 2019 Western Washington Gardner Report

The following analysis of the Western Washington real estate market is provided by Windermere Real Estate Chief Economist Matthew Gardner. We hope that this information may assist you with making better-informed real estate decisions. For further information about the housing market in your area, please don’t hesitate to contact your Windermere agent.

 

ECONOMIC OVERVIEW

Washington State employment slowed to an annual growth rate of 1.7% — a level not seen since 2012 — and continues a trend of slowing that started in the summer of 2018. I was a little surprised to see such a significant drop in employment growth, but it may be due to the state re-benchmarking their data (which they do annually). As such, I am not overly concerned about the lower-than-expected numbers but will be watching to see if this trend continues as we move through the spring months. The state unemployment rate was 4.5%, marginally below the 4.6% level a year ago.

My latest economic forecast suggests that statewide job growth in 2019 will be positive but is expected to slow. We should see an additional 84,000 new jobs, which would be a year-over-year increase of 2.2%.

 

HOME SALES

  • There were 13,292 home sales during the first quarter of 2019. Year-over-year, sales were down 12.3% and were 23.4% lower than the fourth quarter of 2018.​
  • It is quite likely that part of the slowdown can be attributed to the very poor weather in February. That said, anecdotal information from our brokers suggests that March was a very active month and I expect to see sales rise again through the spring selling season. Notably, pending home sales were only off by 3.5% from the first quarter of 2018.​
  • All counties contained in this report saw sales drop when compared to a year ago. The greatest drops were in the relatively small counties of San Juan, Clallam, Island, and Kitsap.​
  • The decline in interest rates during the first two months of the quarter nudged many home buyers off the fence. I believe this will cause a significant bump in sales activity in the second quarter numbers.

 

 

HOME PRICES

  • In combination with the factors discussed earlier, the 40% increase in listings has caused home price growth to taper to a year-over-year increase of 3.3%.
  • Home prices were higher in every county except Clallam. While the growth of prices is slowing, the strong local economy, combined with lower interest rates, will cause home prices to continue rising through 2019.
  • When compared to the same period a year ago, price growth was strongest in San Juan County, where home prices were up 36.4%. Only one other county experienced a double-digit price increase.
  • As I have said for quite some time now, there must always be a relationship between incomes and home prices, and many areas around Western Washington are testing this ceiling. That said, the region’s economy continues to perform well and incomes are rising, which, in concert with low interest rates, will allow prices to continue to rise but at a significantly slower pace.

 

 

 

DAYS ON MARKET

  • The average number of days it took to sell a home matched the same quarter of 2018.
  • Pierce County was the tightest market in Western Washington, with homes taking an average of 40 days to sell. There were seven counties that saw the length of time it took to sell a home drop compared to the same period a year ago. Market time rose in seven counties and one was unchanged.
  • Across the entire region, it took an average of 61 days to sell a home in the first quarter of 2019. This matches the level seen a year ago but is up by 10 days when compared to the fourth quarter of 2018.
  • In the last two Gardner Reports, I suggested that we should be prepared for days-on-market to increase, and that is now occurring. Given projected increases in inventory, this trend will continue, but this is typical of a regional market that is moving back toward balance.

 

 

CONCLUSIONS

This speedometer reflects the state of the region’s real estate market using housing inventory, price gains, home sales, interest rates, and larger economic factors. I am again moving the needle toward buyers as price growth moderates and listing inventory continues to rise.

I do not see any clouds on the horizon that suggest we will see a downturn in sales activity in 2019. That said, this will be the year we move closer to balance. Buyers who were sidelined by the significant increase in listings in the second half of 2018 are starting to get off the fence as mortgage rates drop. I foresee a buoyant spring market ahead.

 

As Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate, Matthew Gardner is responsible for analyzing and interpreting economic data and its impact on the real estate market on both a local and national level. Matthew has over 30 years of professional experience both in the U.S. and U.K.

In addition to his day-to-day responsibilities, Matthew sits on the Washington State Governors Council of Economic Advisors; chairs the Board of Trustees at the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at the University of Washington; and is an Advisory Board Member at the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies at the University of Washington where he also lectures in real estate economics.

 

Posted on April 26, 2019 at 12:10 am
Becky and Steve Larsen | Category: Quarterly Reports, Statistical Information

Q1 2019 North King County Quarterly Report

NORTH KING COUNTY: Months of inventory was reduced as we finished out the first quarter of 2019. Months of inventory is the amount of months it would take to sell out of homes if no new listings came to market. This illustrates the balance between supply and demand. We peaked at 2.5 months in November of 2018 and found ourselves at 1.2 month this March.

The first quarter of 2019 saw 1,667 new listings and 1,325 pending sales – demand tracked well with supply! It remains a seller’s market (0-3 months of inventory), but not as constricted of a market as last year, which saw an average of 0.7 months in the first quarter compared to 1.4 months this year. As we head into spring, we should see continued growth in new listings and demand will be strong, fueled by low interest rates and positive jobs reports.

 

The second half of 2018 had a large influx of homes that came to market, and an interest rate jump which created a gap between supply and demand. Buyers enjoyed some negotiations and credits in the fall and winter due to more selection, but as interest rates reduced in the first quarter, we saw demand increase. This is helping to absorb inventory and reduce the average days on market it takes to sell a home. Median price is up 6% complete year-over-year, which is still higher than the 4% norm, but much less than the unsustainable 14% gains from 2017 to 2018. This balancing out in the market has been a positive phenomenon as affordability has been a challenge for many. Both sellers and buyers are finding great opportunities in the current market.

 

This is only a snapshot of the trends in north King County; please contact us if you would like further explanation of how the latest trends relate to you.

Posted on April 11, 2019 at 11:46 pm
Becky and Steve Larsen | Category: Quarterly Reports, Statistical Information

Q1 2019 Seattle Eastside Quarterly Report

EASTSIDE: Months of inventory has reduced as we finished out the first quarter of 2019. Months of inventory is the amount of months it would take to sell out of homes if no new listings came to market. This illustrates the balance between supply and demand. We peaked at 3.6 months in December of 2018 and found ourselves at 1.5 months this March.

The first quarter of 2019 saw 2,304 new listings and 1,703 pending sales – demand tracked well with supply! It remains a seller’s market (0-3 months of inventory), but not as constricted of a market as last year, which saw an average of 0.9 months in the first quarter compared to 2 months this year. As we head into spring, we should see continued growth in new listings and demand will be strong, fueled by low interest rates and positive jobs reports.

 

The second half of 2018 had a large influx of homes that came to market, and an interest rate jump which created a gap between supply and demand. Buyers enjoyed some negotiations and credits in the fall and winter due to more selection, but as interest rates reduced in the first quarter, we saw demand increase. This is helping to absorb inventory and reduce the average days on market it takes to sell a home. Median price is up 6% complete year-over-year, which is still higher than the 4% norm, but much less than the unsustainable 14% gains from 2017 to 2018. This balancing out in the market has been a positive phenomenon as affordability has been a challenge for many. Both sellers and buyers are finding great opportunities in the current market.

 

This is only a snapshot of the trends on the Eastside; please contact US if you would like further explanation of how the latest trends relate to you.

Posted on April 11, 2019 at 11:08 pm
Becky and Steve Larsen | Category: Quarterly Reports, Statistical Information

Q1 2019 South Snohomish County Quarterly Report

SOUTH SNOHOMISH COUNTY: Months of inventory was reduced as we finished out the first quarter of 2019. Months of inventory is the amount of months it would take to sell out of homes if no new listings came to market. This illustrates the balance between supply and demand. We peaked at 2.8 months in September of 2018 and found ourselves at 1 month this March.

The first quarter of 2019 saw 1,708 new listings and 1,547 pending sales – demand tracked quite well with supply! It remains a seller’s market (0-3 months of inventory), but not as constricted of a market as last year, which saw an average of 0.6 months in the first quarter compared to 1.3 months this year. As we head into spring, we should see continued growth in new listings and demand will be strong, fueled by low interest rates and positive jobs reports.

 

The second half of 2018 had a large influx of homes that came to market, and an interest rate jump which created a gap between supply and demand. Buyers enjoyed some negotiations and credits in the fall and winter due to more selection, but as interest rates reduced in the first quarter, we saw demand increase. This is helping to absorb inventory and reduce the average days on market it takes to sell a home. Median price is up 6% complete year-over-year, which is still higher than the 4% norm, but much less than the unsustainable 15% gains from 2017 to 2018. This balancing out in the market has been a positive phenomenon as affordability has been a challenge for many. Both sellers and buyers are finding great opportunities in the current market.

 

This is only a snapshot of the trends in south Snohomish County; please contact us if you would like further explanation of how the latest trends relate to you.

Posted on April 11, 2019 at 11:03 pm
Becky and Steve Larsen | Category: Quarterly Reports, Statistical Information

Q1 2019 Seattle Metro Quarterly Report

SEATTLE METRO: Months of inventory was reduced as we finished out the first quarter of 2019. Months of inventory is the amount of months it would take to sell out of homes if no new listings came to market. This illustrates the balance between supply and demand. We peaked at 2.5 months in November of 2018 and found ourselves at 1.2 month this March.

The first quarter of 2019 saw 2,456 new listings and 1,892 pending sales – demand tracked quite well with supply! It remains a seller’s market (0-3 months of inventory), but not as constricted of a market as last year, which saw an average of 0.7 months in the first quarter compared to 1.5 months this year. As we head into spring, we should see continued growth in new listings and demand will be strong, fueled by low interest rates and positive jobs reports.

 

The second half of 2018 had a large influx of homes that came to market, and an interest rate jump which created a gap between supply and demand. Buyers enjoyed some negotiations and credits in the fall and winter due to more selection, but as interest rates reduced in the first quarter, we saw demand increase. This is helping to absorb inventory and reduce the average days on market it takes to sell a home. Median price is up 5% complete year-over-year, which is still higher than the 4% norm, but much less than the unsustainable 16% gains from 2017 to 2018. This balancing out in the market has been a positive phenomenon as affordability has been a challenge for many. Both sellers and buyers are finding great opportunities in the current market.

 

This is only a snapshot of the trends in the Seattle Metro area; please contact us if you would like further explanation of how the latest trends relate to you.

 

Posted on April 11, 2019 at 10:58 pm
Becky and Steve Larsen | Category: Quarterly Reports, Statistical Information

Rent vs. Own? What’s the Best Investment?

The current break-even horizon* in the Seattle Metro area is 1.69 years!

 

*The amount of time you need to own your home in order for owning to be a superior financial decision.

With expensive rental rates, historically low interest rates, and home prices softening, there are advantages to buying versus renting.

In fact, the Seattle Metro area has seen some of the sharpest rent hikes in the country over the last few years! There are several factors to consider that will lead you to make the best decision for your lifestyle and your financial bottom line. Zillow Research® has determined the break-even point for renting versus buying in our metro area. In other words, the amount of time you need to own your home in order for owning to be a superior financial decision. Currently in Seattle, the break-even point is 1.69 years – that is quick! What is so great about every month that ticks away thereafter, is that your nest egg is building in value.

I am happy to help you or someone you know assess your options; please contact me anytime.

These assumptions are based on a home buyer purchasing a home with a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage and a 20 percent down payment; and a renter earning five percent annually on investments in the stock market.

Read the full article on the Zillow Research website here

Posted on March 14, 2019 at 5:33 pm
Becky and Steve Larsen | Category: Statistical Information, Strategy