What FICO® Score Do You Need to Qualify for a Mortgage?

What FICO® Score Do You Need to Qualify for a Mortgage? | Simplifying The Market

It’s common knowledge that your FICO® score plays an important role in the homebuying process. However, many buyers have misconceptions regarding what exactly is required to get the loans they need.

While a recent announcement from CNBC shares that the average national FICO® score has reached an all-time high of 706, the good news for potential buyers is that you don’t need a score that high to qualify for a mortgage. Let’s unpack the credit score myth so you can to become a homeowner sooner than you may think.

With today’s low interest rates, many believe now is a great time to buy – and rightfully so! Fannie Mae recently noted that 58% of Americans surveyed say it is a good time to buy. Similarly, the Q3 2019 HOME Survey by the National Association of Realtors said 63% of people believe now is a good time to buy a home. Unfortunately, fear and misinformation often hold qualified and motivated buyers back from taking the leap into homeownership.

According to the same CNBC article,

“For the first time, the average national credit score has reached 706, according to FICO®, the developer of one of the most commonly used scores by lenders.”

This is great news, as it means Americans are improving their credit scores and building toward a stronger financial future, especially after the market tumbled during the previous decade. With today’s strong economy and increasing wages, many Americans have had the opportunity to improve their credit over the past few years, driving this national average up.

Since Americans with stronger credit are now entering the housing market, we are seeing an increase in the FICO® Score Distribution of Closed Loans (see graph below):What FICO® Score Do You Need to Qualify for a Mortgage? | Simplifying The MarketBut hang on – don’t forget that this does not mean you need a FICO® score over 700 to qualify for a mortgage. Here’s what Experian, the global leader in consumer and business credit reporting, says:

FHA Loan: “FHA loans are ideal for those who have less-than-perfect credit and may not be able to qualify for a conventional mortgage loan. The size of your required down payment for an FHA loan depends on the state of your credit score: If your credit score is between 500 and 579, you must put 10% down. If your credit score is 580 or above, you can put as little as 3.5% down (but you can put down more if you want to).”

Conventional Loan: “It’s possible to get approved for a conforming conventional loan with a credit score as low as 620, although some lenders may look for a score of 660 or better.”

USDA Loan: “While the USDA doesn’t have a set credit score requirement, most lenders offering USDA-guaranteed mortgages require a score of at least 640.”

VA Loan: “As with income levels, lenders set their own minimum credit requirements for VA loan borrowers. Lenders are likely to check credit scores as part of their screening process, and most will set a minimum score, or cutoff, that loan applicants must exceed to be considered.”

Bottom Line

As you can see, plenty of loans are granted to buyers with a FICO® score that is lower than the national average. If you’d like to understand the next steps to take when determining your credit score, let’s get together so you can learn more.

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62% of Buyers Are Wrong About Down Payment Needs

62% of Buyers Are Wrong About Down Payment Needs | Simplifying The Market

Contrary to common misconception, a down payment is often much less than many believe.

According to the ‘2019 Home Buyer Report conducted by Nerdwallet, many first-time buyers still believe they need a 20% down payment to buy a home in today’s market:

“More than 6 in 10 (62%) Americans believe you must put at least 20% down in order to purchase a home.”

When potential homebuyers think they need a 20% down payment to enter the market, they also tend to think they’ll have to wait several years (in some markets) to come up with the necessary funds to buy their dream homes. The report continues to say,

“The truth: 32% of current U.S. homeowners put 5% or less down on their home, according to census data.” (as shown below):

62% of Buyers Are Wrong About Down Payment Needs | Simplifying The MarketThe lack of knowledge about the home-buying process is unfortunately keeping many motivated buyers on the sidelines.

Bottom Line

Don’t let a lack of understanding keep you and your family out of the housing market. Let’s get together to discuss your options today.

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Homeowners Are Happy! Renters? Not So Much.

Homeowners Are Happy! Renters? Not So Much. | Simplifying The Market

When people talk about homeownership and the American Dream, much of the conversation revolves around the financial benefits of owning a home. However, two recent studies show that the non-financial benefits might be even more valuable.

In a recent survey, Bank of America asked homeowners: “Does owning a home make you happier than renting?” 93% of the respondents answered yes, while only 7% said no. The survey also revealed:

  • More than 80% said they wouldn’t go back to renting
  • 88% agreed that buying a home is the “best decision they have ever made
  • 79% believed owning a home has changed them for the better

Those surveyed talked about the “emotional equity” that is built through homeownership. The study says more than half of current homeowners define a home as a place to make memories, compared to 42% who view a home as a financial investment. Besides building wealth, the survey also showed that homeownership enhances quality of life:

  • 67% of current homeowners believed their relationships with family and loved ones have changed for the better since they bought a home
  • 78% are satisfied with the quality of their social life
  • 82% of homeowners said they were satisfied with the amount of time they spend on their hobbies and passions since purchasing a home
  • 75% of homeowners pursued new hobbies after buying a home

Homeowners seem to be very happy.

Renters Tell a Different Story…

According to the latest Zillow Housing Aspirations Report45% of renters regret renting rather than buying — more than five times the share of homeowners (8%) who regret buying instead of renting. Here are the four major reasons people regret renting, according to the report:

  • 52% regret not being able to build equity
  • 52% regret not being able to customize or improve their rentals
  • 50% regret that the rent is so high
  • 49% regret that they lack private outdoor space

These two studies prove that renting is just not the same as owning.

Bottom Line

There are both financial and non-financial benefits to homeownership. As good as the “financial equity” is, it doesn’t compare to the “emotional equity” gained through owning your own home.

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Are You Ready for the ‘Black Friday’ of Real Estate?

Are You Ready for the ‘Black Friday’ of Real Estate? | Simplifying The Market

According to a new study from realtor.com, the week of September 22 is the best time of year to buy a home, making it ‘Black Friday’ for homebuyers.

Every year, ‘Black Friday’ is a highly anticipated event for eager shoppers. Some people prepare for weeks, crafting and refining a strategic shopping agenda, determining exactly when to arrive at each store, and capturing a wish list of discounted must-have items to purchase. But what about buying a home? Is there a ‘Black Friday’ for the home-buying process? Believe it or not, there is.

According to a new study from realtor.com, the week of September 22 is the best time of year to buy a home, making it ‘Black Friday’ for homebuyers.

After evaluating housing data in 53 metros from 2016 to 2018, realtor.com determined that the first week of fall is when buyers “tend to find less competition, more inventory, and the biggest reductions on list price.

The report explains,

“During the first week of fall, buyers tend to face 26% less competition from other buyers, and they are likely to see 6.1% more homes available on the market compared to other weeks of the year…nearly 6% of homes on the market will also see price reductions, averaging 2.4% less than their peak.”

What’s so different about the first week of fall?

George Ratiu, Senior Economist with realtor.com says,

“As summer winds down and kids return to school, many families hit pause on their home search and wait until the next season to start again…as seasonal inventory builds up and restores itself to more buyer-friendly levels, fall buyers will be in a better position to take advantage of today’s low mortgage rates and increased purchasing power.”

Learn more about how prices, listings, and buyer competition stack up during the first week of fall in your metro area.

Bottom Line

If you want to take advantage of the ‘Black Friday’ of home buying, let’s get together to discuss the benefits of making your next move this fall.

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What Is the Probability That Home Values Sink?

What is the Probability that Home Values Sink? | Simplifying The Market

With the current uncertainty about the economy triggered by a potential trade war, some people are waiting to purchase their first home or move-up to their dream house because they think or hope home prices will drop over the next few years. However, the experts disagree with this perspective.

Here is a table showing the predicted levels of appreciation from six major housing sources:What Is the Probability That Home Values Sink? | Simplifying The MarketAs we can see, every source believes home prices will continue to appreciate (albeit at lower levels than we have seen over the last several years). But, not one source is calling for residential real estate values to depreciate.

Additionally, ARCH Mortgage Insurance Company in their current Housing and Mortgage Market Review revealed their latest ARCH Risk Index, which estimates the probability of home prices being lower in two years. There was not one state that even had a moderate probability of home prices lowering. In fact, 34 of the 50 states had a minimal probability.What Is the Probability That Home Values Sink? | Simplifying The Market

Bottom Line

Those waiting for prices to fall before purchasing a home should realize that the probability of that happening anytime soon is very low. With mortgage rates already at near historic lows, now may be the time to act.

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Everybody Calm Down! This Is NOT 2008

Everybody Calm Down! This Is NOT 2008 | Simplifying The Market

Last week realtor.com released the results of a survey that produced three major revelations:

  1. 53% of home purchasers (first-time and repeat buyers) currently in the market believe a recession will occur this year or next.
  2. 57% believe the next recession will be as bad or worse than 2008.
  3. 55% said they would cancel plans to move if a recession occurred.

Since we are currently experiencing the longest-ever economic expansion in American history, there is reason to believe a recession could occur in the not-too-distant future. And, it does make sense that buyers and sellers remember the horrors of 2008 when they hear the word “recession.”

Ali Wolf, Director of Economic Research at the real estate consulting firm Meyers Research, addressed this point in a recent interview:

“With people having PTSD from the last time, they’re still afraid of buying at the wrong time.”

Most experts, however, believe if there is a recession, it will not resemble 2008. This housing market is in no way the same as it was just over a decade ago.

Zillow Economist, Jeff Tucker, explained the difference in a recent article, Recessions Typically Have Limited Effect on the Housing Market:

 “As we look ahead to the next recession, it’s important to recognize how unusual the conditions were that caused the last one, and what’s different about the housing market today. Rather than abundant homes, we have a shortage of new home supply. Rather than risky borrowers taking on adjustable-rate mortgages, we have buyers with sterling credit scores taking out predictable 30-year fixed-rate mortgages. The housing market is simply much less risky than it was 15 years ago.”

George Ratiu, Senior Economist at realtor.com, also weighed in on the subject:

“This is going to be a much shorter recession than the last one, I don’t think the next recession will be a repeat of 2008…The housing market is in a better position.”

In the past 23 years, there have been two national recessions – the dot-com crash in 2001 and the Great Recession in 2008. It is true that home values fell 19.7% during the 2008 recession, which was caused by a mortgage meltdown that heavily impacted the housing market. However, while stock prices fell almost 25% in 2001, home values appreciated 6.6%. The triggers of the next recession will more closely mirror those from 2001 – not those from 2008.

Bottom Line

No one can accurately predict when the next recession will occur, but expecting one could possibly take place in the next 18-24 months is understandable. It is, however, important to realize that the impact of a recession on the housing market will in no way resemble 2008.

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A Recession Does Not Equal a Housing Crisis [INFOGRAPHIC]

A Recession Does Not Equal a Housing Crisis [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

A Recession Does Not Equal a Housing Crisis [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Some Highlights:

  • There is plenty of talk in the media about a pending economic slowdown.
  • The good news is, home values actually increased in 3 of the last 5 U.S. recessions, and decreased by less than 2% in the 4th.
  • Many experts predict a potential recession is on the horizon. However, housing will not be the trigger, and home values will still continue to appreciate. It will not be a repeat of the crash in the 2008 housing market.

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A Latte a Day Keeps Homeownership Away [INFOGRAPHIC]

A Latte a Day Keeps Homeownership Away [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

A Latte a Day Keeps Homeownership Away [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Some Highlights:

  • The pumpkin spice latte is launching soon, so you may be tempted to spend your extra cash on a daily caffeine fix, but that small expense can add up to a big number – fast!
  • Saving for a down payment takes a little discipline, so limiting your extra purchases (like a latte a day from your favorite coffee shop) will help you get there faster.
  • Depending on where you live, putting away just a small amount each day will get you to the average down payment you may need for homeownership faster than you think.

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5 Easy Steps to Avoid Overwhelm from Media Overload

5 Easy Steps to Avoid Overwhelm from Media Overload | Simplifying The Market

When someone is thinking about buying or selling a home, they want to be well-informed. They want to make the right decision for themselves and their family. They scour the internet for any information they can find about the housing market.

Today, there is an abundance of information available. It is often conflicting news. It can easily lead to confusion and concern, perhaps even causing a potential buyer or seller to cancel their plans to move altogether. Instead, the best things to do are sit down and take a deep breath.

In a recent article, Jeff Davidson, a recognized speaker on the subject of productivity, explained:

“The pace at which new information arrives will accelerate every day…Too often, the reflex to take action only exacerbates your time-pressure problems. Do not bite off more than you can chew, and acknowledge that often, the wisest response to too much competition for your time and attention is to simply slow down to assess the best way to proceed.”

To that point, here is an easy five-step process to follow if all of this information seems overwhelming:

  1. Calm Down – Don’t let the confusion lead to concern or panic.
  2. Slow Down – As Davidson suggests, just “slow down to assess.”
  3. Think – Remember the reasons you wanted to move in the first place. Are they still important?
  4. Plan – Determine whether or not the new information should change anything. If you need further clarification on some points, reach out to a real estate professional in your area for a better understanding.
  5. Act – After thorough consideration, feel good about your decision, whether you decide to move or not.

Bottom Line

Don’t let the plethora of seemingly conflicting information on the housing market stop you from moving forward with your life. Let’s get together to ensure you get the valuable counsel you need so you can make the right decision for you and your family.

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Seniors Are on the Move in the Real Estate Market

Seniors Are on the Move in the Real Estate Market | Simplifying The Market

Did you know August 21st is National Senior Citizens Day? According to the United States Census, we honor senior citizens today because,

 “Throughout our history, older people have achieved much for our families, our communities, and our country. That remains true today and gives us ample reason…to reserve a special day in honor of the senior citizens who mean so much to our land.

To give proper recognition, we’re going to look at some senior-related data in the housing industry.

According to the Population Reference Bureau,

The number of Americans ages 65 and older is projected to nearly double from 52 million in 2018 to 95 million by 2060, and the 65-and-older age group’s share of the total population will rise from 16 percent to 23 percent.”

Seniors Believe in Homeownership

In a recent report, Freddie Mac compared the homeownership rates of two groups of seniors: the Good Times Cohort (born from 1931-1941) and the Previous Generations (born in the 1930s). The data shows an increase in the homeownership rate for the Good Times Cohort because seniors are now aging in place, living longer, and maintaining a high quality of life into their later years.Seniors Are on the Move in the Real Estate Market | Simplifying The MarketThis, however, does not mean all seniors are staying in place. Some are actively buying and selling homes. In the 2019 Home Buyers and Sellers Generational Trends Report, the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) showed the percentage of seniors buying and selling:Seniors Are on the Move in the Real Estate Market | Simplifying The Market

Here are some highlights from NAR’s report:

  • Buyers ages 54 to 63 had higher median household incomes and were more likely to be married couples.
  • 12% of buyers ages 54 to 63 are first-time homebuyers, 5% (64 to 72), and 4% (73 to 93).
  • Buyers ages 54 to 63 purchased because of an interest in being closer to friends and families, job relocation, and the desire to own a home of their own.
  • Sellers 54 years and older often downsized and purchased a smaller, less expensive home than the one they sold.
  • Sellers ages 64 to 72 lived in their homes for 21 years or more.

Bottom Line

According to NAR’s report, 58% of buyers ages 64 to 72 said they need help from an agent to find the right home. The transition from a current home to a new one is significant to undertake, especially for anyone who has lived in the same house for many years. If you’re a senior thinking about the process, let’s get together to help you make the move as smoothly as possible.

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