Rate Meaning

Mortgage interest rates have hit another record low this week.

 

Mortgage applications for purchases just hit an 11-year high.

 

Rates are at a level that many people could never have imagined.

 

Here’s something that is surprising to many people…

 

Rates are 1.5% lower than they were just two years ago.

 

Here’s what that means for buyers…

 

Pretend someone is looking at a $500,000 home and they will have a 20% down payment.

 

The difference in monthly payment is $320 between two years ago and today.

 

Obviously that is a significant amount of money.

 

Imagine what a person could do with $320 per month.

 

The fact that rates are at record lows is one of many reasons that the market is so strong right now and prices continue to appreciate at healthy levels.

At Windermere Real Estate we are taking Safer at Home and Social Distancing very seriously.  Our people are following our Safe Showings protocol, staying connected to their clients, and providing help wherever needed.

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Economist’s Perspective

Our Chief Economist made a video for all of our clients where he shares his perspective on COVID-19’s impact on housing.  You can watch it by clicking the image below:

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Economist’s Perspective

Our Chief Economist made a video for all of our clients where he shares his perspective on COVID-19’s impact on housing.  You can watch it by clicking the image below:

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Headwind vs. Tailwind

So far the tailwind of historically-low mortgage rates are prevailing over Wall Street and COVID-19 concerns.

Buyers are still active.  Properties are still closing.  Moving trucks are still showing up at people’s homes.

Open house traffic has declined, but we notice plenty of buyers looking for property.  (one of our open houses last weekend had over 40 visitors)

For many, the interest rates are just too good to pass up.

We even see instances of multiple-offer situations for properties priced right in high-demand locations.

Rates today, compared to 4%, equate to not only a monthly savings for those refinancing but also equates to tens of thousands in additional purchase power.

For the average price of a home on the Front Range, the savings is $171 per month and the increased purchase power is $35,811.

Here’s what we expect to happen over the coming months.  Listing inventory and transaction volume will both decline.  We will no doubt see lower activity compared to a year ago.

But thoughts of the market “coming to a screeching halt” can’t be validated because of the historical performance of our market and because of the inherent fundamentals in place.

We will continue to track the numbers and communicate the facts so that you remain well-informed.

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Rate Forecast

Here is our interest rate Forecast for the next year.

Our Chief Economist, Matthew Gardner, predicts that rates for a 30-year fixed mortgage will stay between 3.8% and 3.9% for 2020.

He doesn’t see rates going above 4.0% until at least the first quarter of 2021.

This is obviously great news for buyers as their payments will stay much lower as compared to having a rate at the long-term average of 7.5%.

If you would like to see the slides from Matthew Gardner’s Forecast presentation, we would be happy to get those in your hands.  Just let us know if we can help!

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On Sale

With interest rates so low, one could argue that money is essentially on sale.

It’s actually half off.

30-year mortgage rates hit 3.75% which is exactly half of their long term average.

Rates have averaged 7.5% over the last 40 years so today buyers are getting half of that rate.

The “sale” on mortgage rates creates a significant savings in monthly payment because of the 1%/10% rule.

For every 1% change in interest rate, the monthly payment will change roughly 10%.

So when rates go up to 4.75%, a buyer’s payment will be 10% higher.

For example, the principal and interest payment on a $400,000 home with a 20% down payment at today’s rates is $1,482.

If rates were 1% higher, the payments jump up to $1,669.

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Chugging Along

 

The real estate market keeps chugging along.

Here’s news from the Mortgage Banker’s Association…

Last week, applications to purchase a home hit their highest level since April 2010. This is clearly a sign that the spring selling season is starting off in full swing.

You may remember that the reason why April 2010 was so active is because of the Home Buyer Tax Credit that was in effect. In order to get a special income tax incentive, buyers had to go under contract in April 2010 and close by June 30, 2010.

Today, purchase applications are at their highest level in 9 years and are up 14% over last year. Interest rates are roughly 0.5% lower than 6 months ago and roughly 3.0% below their long-term average.

Let the Spring Selling Season begin!

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Are You Better Off Paying Your Mortgage Earlier or Investing Your Money?

Posted in BuyingSelling, and Living by Guest Author 

Photo Credit: Rawpixel via Unsplash

Few topics cause more division among economists than the age-old debate of whether you’re better off paying off your mortgage earlier, or investing that money instead. And there’s a good reason why that debate continues; both sides make compelling arguments.

For many people, their mortgage is the largest expense they will ever incur in their lives. So if given the chance, it only makes logical sense you would want to pay it off as quickly as possible. On the other hand, a mortgage is also the cheapest money you will ever borrow, and it’s generally considered good debt. Any extra money you obtain could be definitely be put to good use elsewhere.

The reality is, however, a little less cut and clear. For some homeowners, paying off their mortgage earlier is the right answer. While for others, it would be far more advantageous to invest their money.

 

Advantages of paying off your mortgage earlier

  • You’ll pay less interest: Each time you make a mortgage payment, a portion is dedicated towards interest, and another towards principal (we’ll ignore other costs for now). Interest is calculated monthly by taking your remaining balance, the length of your amortization period, and the interest rate agreed upon with your lending institution.

If you have a $300,000 mortgage, at a 4% fixed rate over 30 years, your monthly payment would be around $1,432.25. By the time you finish paying off your mortgage, you would have paid a total of $515,609, of which $215,609 were interest.

If you wanted to lower the total amount you pay on interest, you don’t need to make a large lump sum to make a difference. If you were to increase your monthly mortgage payment to $1,632.25 (a $200 a month increase), you would be saving $50,298 in interest, and you’ll pay off your mortgage 6 years and 3 months earlier.

Though this is an oversimplified example, it shows how even a small increase in monthly payments makes a big difference in the long run.

  • Every additional dollar towards your principal has a guaranteed return on investment: Every additional payment you make towards your mortgage has a direct effect in lowering the amount you pay in interest. In fact, each additional payment is, in fact, an investment. And unlike stocks, bonds, and other investment vehicles, you are guaranteed to have a return on your investment.
  • Enforced discipline: It takes real commitment to invest your money wisely each month instead of spending it elsewhere.

 

Your monthly mortgage payments are a form of enforced discipline since you know you can’t afford to miss them. It’s far easier to set a higher monthly payment towards your mortgage and stick to it than making regular investments on your own.

Besides, once your home is completely paid off, you can dedicate a larger portion of your income towards investments, your children or grandchildren’s education, or simply cut down on your working hours.

 

Advantages of investing your money

  • A greater return on your investment: The biggest reason why you should invest your money instead comes down to a simple, green truth: there’s more money to be made in investments.

Suppose that instead of dedicating an additional $200 towards your monthly mortgage payment, you decide to invest it in a conservative index fund which tracks S&P 500’s index. You start your investment today with $200 and add an additional $200 each month for the next 30 years. By the end of the term, if the index fund had a modest yield of 5% per year, you will have earned $91,739 in interest, and the total value of your investment would be $163,939.

If you think that 5% per year is a little too optimistic, all we have to do is see the S&P 500 performance between December 2002 and December 2012, which averaged an annual yield of 7.10%.

  • A greater level of diversification: Real estate has historically been one of the safest vehicles of investment available, but it’s still subject to market forces and changes in government policies. The forces that affect the stock and bonds markets are not always the same that affect real estate, because the former are subject to their issuer’s economic performance, while property values could change due to local events.

By putting your extra money towards investments, you are diversifying your investment portfolio and spreading out your risk. If you are relying exclusively on the value of your home, you are in essence putting all your eggs in one basket.

  • Greater liquidity: Homes are a great investment, but it takes time to sell a home even in the best of circumstances. So if you need emergency funds now, it’s a lot easier to sell stocks and bonds than a home.

 

Misael Lizarraga is a real estate writer with a passion for teaching real estate concepts to first time buyers and investors. He runs realestatecontentguy.com and is a contributing writer for several leading real estate blogs in North America.

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5 Reasons Rising Interest Rates Won’t Wreck the Housing Market

Interest rates have been trending higher since the fall of 2017, and I fully expect they will continue in that direction – albeit relatively slowly – as we move through the balance of the year and into 2019. So what does this mean for the US housing market?

It might come as a surprise to learn that I really don’t think rising interest rates will have a major impact on the housing market. Here is my reasoning:

1. First Time Home Buyers 

As interest rates rise, I expect more buyers to get off the fence and into the market; specifically, first time buyers who, according to Freddie Mac, made up nearly half of new mortgages in the first quarter of this year. First-time buyers are critical to the overall health of the housing market because of the subsequent chain reaction of sales that result so this is actually a positive outcome of rising rates.

2. Easing Credit Standards

Rising interest rates may actually push some lenders to modestly ease credit standards. I know this statement will cause some people to think that easing credit will immediately send us back to the days of sub-prime lending and housing bubbles, but I don’t see this happening. Even a very modest easing of credit will allow for more than one million new home buyers to qualify for a mortgage.

3. Low Unemployment 

We stand today in a country with very low unemployment (currently 4.0% and likely to get close to 3.5% by year’s end). Low unemployment rates encourage employers to raise wages to keep existing talent, as well as to recruit new talent. Wage growth can, to a degree, offset increasing interest rates because, as wages rise, buyers can afford higher mortgage payments.

4. Supply

There is a clear relationship between housing supply, home prices, and interest rates. We’re already seeing a shift in inventory levels with more homes coming on the market, and I fully expect this trend to continue for the foreseeable future. This increase in supply is, in part, a result of homeowners looking to cash in on their home’s appreciation before interest rates rise too far. This, on its own, will help ease the growth of home prices and offset rising interest rates. Furthermore, if we start to see more new construction activity at the lower end of the market, this too will help.

National versus Local

Up until this point, I’ve looked at how rising interest rates might impact the housing market on a national level, but as we all know, real estate is local, and different markets react to shifts in different ways. For example, rising interest rates will be felt more in expensive housing markets, such as San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, and Orange County, but I expect to see less impact in areas like Cleveland, Philadelphia, Pittsburg, and Detroit, where buyers spend a lower percentage of their incomes on housing. The exception to this would be if interest rates continue to rise for a prolonged period; in that case, we might see demand start to taper off, especially in the less expensive housing markets where buyers are more price sensitive.

For more than seven years, home buyers and real estate professionals alike have grown very accustomed to historically low interest rates. We always knew the time would come when they would begin to rise again, but that doesn’t mean the outlook for housing is doom and gloom. On the contrary, I believe rising interest rates will help bring us closer to a more balanced real estate market, something that is sorely needed in many markets across the country.

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The Cost of Waiting

It’s true, certain parts of our market are cooling off. We are seeing fewer multiple offers, fewer bidding wars, and fewer inspection concessions.
However, homes that are priced right and in great condition are selling, and in many cases, selling quickly.

As buyers feel the market cool a bit, it may cause them to want to wait. They sometimes feel like it’s a better choice to ‘wait and see what happens.’

The reality is, there is a real cost to waiting given two specific facts.

1. Interest rates will continue to rise
2. Prices will continue to rise

Interest rates are a little more than 0.5% higher than a year ago and experts predict them to be another 0.5% higher by this time next year.

Prices have been appreciating at roughly 10% per year for the last four years. Based on the numbers, we see that appreciation could be 5% per year for the next two years.

So, let’s look at a house priced at $450,000 today. If prices go up “only” 5% for the next 12 months, that home will cost $22,500 more in a year.

And, if rates go up another half percent, the monthly payment will be $206 higher. That’s an 11% increase!

In an environment of rising prices and rising rates, there is a real cost to “wait and see.”

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