Is Buying A Home A Good Investment?

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A house is, with 100-percent certainty, an investment.

An investment is the outlay of money (i.e., a home down payment), usually for income or profit. Buying a home allows you to save on the monthly cash outflow you’d spend renting a comparable property. Instead, you’ll have a somewhat fixed, long-term housing cost thanks to your fixed mortgage payment until you pay it off, and then you’ll have no mortgage payment at all. You’ll also benefit through appreciation in your home’s value, possible tax advantages, mortgage amortization on the loan and not being burdened with housing costs in retirement.

Of course, while buying a home is an investment, that doesn’t necessarily mean it is a good investment. Avoid short-term real estate ownership, fixer-uppers, properties that are much more expensive to own than a comparable property would be to rent, and properties in poorly run homeowners associations.

The most important consideration when buying a home is your ownership time frame. Basically, the longer you own it, the better an investment it will be for you. The optimal holding period for most real estate purchases, whether it’s your personal home or a rental property, is your entire life.

Many homes do not have the best investment rates of return, and some, like fancy prize properties, should generally be avoided. However, two important aspects of investing in a personal residence do add value to your wealth picture (although, unfortunately, that value cannot be calculated):

  1. A monthly mortgage payment requires you to do something most Americans find challenging: Saving the money they earn.
  2. Individuals who retire with a paid-off home (or rental properties) are more likely to live a comfortable retirement than people who must pay rent or a big mortgage payment each month after they retire.

For those two reasons alone, most personal residences are a good investment, provided you hold them long-term. However, you must be sure to buy a home with a mortgage you can comfortably afford on your income, or that you can rent out later in life to a tenant who can pay the mortgage for you.

If you stick to those guidelines, you’re likely to reap the rewards of your real estate ownership.

Home Prices Continue To Rise

“Broad-based Slowdown for Home Prices”

That is a headline you might have seen over the past weekend. And though it is true, we must understand the story behind the headline. Case Shiller reports on the year-over-year difference in home values. Their latest report revealed that the rate of appreciation has slowed – not that prices are falling!! Here is exactly what they said:

“The 20-City Composite gained 4.9% year-over-year, compared to 5.6% in August.”

Prices are still up this month over last year’s values (4.9%) just not as much as they were last month (5.6%).

Home Prices are NOT Falling.

As a matter of fact, the latest Home Price Expectation Survey by Pulsenomics (a survey of a nationwide panel of over one hundred economists, real estate experts and investment & market strategists) showed that home prices will continue to appreciate for the next several years.

Projected-Prices

Bottom Line

Both first time buyers and families thinking of moving-up to their dream home can be assured that their investment in their new home makes sense.

For professional real estate services, call Jim Trump @ (214) 609-7123 or jtrump@kw.com

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NOW Is The Best Time To Sell Your Home. Here Is The Proof~

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Most homeowners believe that the winter is not a good time to sell. This belief is based on the fact that historically the number of buyers decreases in the winter and then increases dramatically during the spring buying market. Though this is still true, there is an interesting pattern developing over the last few months. The number of prospective purchasers actively looking at a home (foot traffic) has remained strong going into the fall. As a matter of fact, the foot traffic far exceeds the numbers reported for the same months last year (see chart):

Foot-Traffic

At the same time, the National Association of Realtors revealed that the months’ supply of housing inventory has decreased from 5.5 months to 5.3. That equates to less competition for homeowners selling today as compared to next spring when many homeowners will decide to put their home on the market.

Bottom Line

Since buying activity is still strong, this might be a great time to put your house on the market. Call The North Texas Home Hunter for professional real estate services, (214) 609-7123 or email jtrump@kw.com

Harvard University’s Five Financial Reasons To Buy A Home

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Eric Belsky is Managing Director of the Joint Center of Housing Studies at Harvard University. He also currently serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Housing Research and Housing Policy Debate. Last year, he released a paper on homeownership – The Dream Lives On: the Future of Homeownership in America. In his paper, Belsky reveals five financial reasons people should consider buying a home. Here are the five reasons, each followed by an excerpt from the study:

1.) Housing is typically the one leveraged investment available.

“Few households are interested in borrowing money to buy stocks and bonds and few lenders are willing to lend them the money. As a result, homeownership allows households to amplify any appreciation on the value of their homes by a leverage factor. Even a hefty 20 percent down payment results in a leverage factor of five so that every percentage point rise in the value of the home is a 5 percent return on their equity. With many buyers putting 10 percent or less down, their leverage factor is 10 or more.”

2.) You’re paying for housing whether you own or rent.

“Homeowners pay debt service to pay down their own principal while households that rent pay down the principal of a landlord.”

3.) Owning is usually a form of “forced savings”.

“Since many people have trouble saving and have to make a housing payment one way or the other, owning a home can overcome people’s tendency to defer savings to another day.”

4.) There are substantial tax benefits to owning.

“Homeowners are able to deduct mortgage interest and property taxes from income…On top of all this, capital gains up to $250,000 are excluded from income for single filers and up to $500,000 for married couples if they sell their homes for a gain.”

5.) Owning is a hedge against inflation.

“Housing costs and rents have tended over most time periods to go up at or higher than the rate of inflation, making owning an attractive proposition.”

Bottom Line

We realize that homeownership makes sense for many Americans for an assortment of social and family reasons. It also makes sense financially.

For professional real estate services, contact The North Texas Home Hunter at (214) 609-7123 or jtrump@kw.com

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Discrediting 4 Myths About Buying A Home

103 A recent study by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University revealed that when renters were asked why they do not plan to own in the future, financial constraints were a more common response than the perceived lifestyle benefits they may receive from renting. Today, I want to go over those financial challenges and see if I can put some fears to rest and also clear up some misconceptions.

Here are the top four financial hurdles that cause renters not to buy:

You Cannot Afford a Home

Over 50% of renters consider this as a financial barrier to homeownership. However, study after study has shown us that there are major misunderstandings about what is required to purchase a home. The biggest misconception is the amount of a down payment required. A recent survey revealed that 44% of respondents believed that a 20% down payment was required. In actuality, mortgages are available with as little as 5% down, possibly even 3 1/2%, and zero down in certain situations. The same survey showed that 30% of respondents believe that only individuals with ‘high incomes’ can obtain a mortgage. In actuality, there are several programs that have been created to help moderate income families buy a home of their own (look at the FHA program for example).

You Do Not Have Good Enough Credit to Get a Mortgage

The survey mentioned above showed that 64% of respondents believe they must have a “very good” credit score to buy a home. Most people don’t realize that the average credit score for closed loans has actually dropped 24 points in the last two years. For more information on credit scores click here.

It’s Not a Good Time to Buy a Home

Determining when the right time is to buy a home from a pure financial calculation can be difficult. There are two elements of the cost of a home: the price of the house and the mortgage interest rate. When considering a purchase, you want to have at least an indication where prices and mortgage rates are headed. According to over 100 experts, house values are expected to increase by almost 20% between now and 2018. Freddie Mac recently projected that mortgage rates would be as much as one full point higher by this time next year. With both prices and interest rates projected to increase, now is the perfect time to buy a home.

It’s Cheaper to Rent than Buy

This is a myth that doesn’t want to die. However, Trulia recently reported that, in fact, buying is actually dramatically cheaper than renting. Here is what they said:

“Homeownership remains cheaper than renting nationally in all of the 100 largest metro areas. In fact, buying is 38% cheaper than renting now, compared with 35% cheaper than renting one year ago.”

Bottom Line

If you are even thinking about buying, get the facts from a trained professional. You may be pleasantly surprised by what you find out.

Contact The North Texas Home Hunter for professional real estate services. (214) 609-7123 or jtrump@kw.com

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False Expectations In The Real Estate World.

I have written about the headache that Realtors have trying to put a price on a listing, a price that makes sense; and therefore can be rationalized when talking with the seller, potential buyers and buyers’ agents. The task is getting to be hazardous in a hot market when real estate pros are using all kinds of bizarre strategies and tactics to yield the best deal for the owner while forging for themselves a reputation of superhero.

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The one scenario, or what I call a gimmick, that has been in vogue the last two years or so, consists of putting a price on a property well below what the listing agent perceives to be today’s market value, in order to create a bidding war that may result in multiple offers well over the asking price.

This technique sometimes works to the benefit of the seller, and always works to the benefit of the listing agents. They can brag in the media that they are so darn good that they get top dollar (like 10-20% more than the list-price) for their listings. Obviously a bunch of would-be sellers are supposed to be so impressed by the performance that they will want those superheroes to list their homes and duplicate the magic.

Between you, me and the rest of the world, I have a hard time understanding how reasonable home sellers can fall for such a deceptive marketing formula! I mean, if you have a $315k home which may go for $340,000 in a “sellers’ market” and you list it at $300k, it does not take an eagle to predict that the house will likely sell around the same $340,000 or so. Hello?

Such edgy way to do business, in my opinion, is not only dangerous but is creating lots of unwelcome side-effects. Let’s deal with these two points, one at a time:

Dangerous:

When we play games with the market, the market can play games with us. Real estate is not an exact science. If you deliberately underprice a property, there is no certainty that the gimmick will work every time. When it does not, the seller (and the perspiring agent) may be faced with a nasty dilemma or how to respond to clean offers just matching the asking price. At the high-end, you never can count on a host of qualified buyers fighting over a property. Often, there is only one candidate writing a bid, and he sure does not want to pay a dime more than he has to. Also, after months of madness in the marketplace, mostly due in many areas to a record low inventory, many are the buyers who are emotionally exhausted. They keep on writing offers and get rejected time after time, losing to the one buyer who cannot live without that particular home, at any price. The excitement of trying to buy can quickly become the discouragement of over-negotiating and coming up empty. Most buyers are no longer willing to play games. Sellers beware.

Unwelcome side-effects:

Not all sellers, on the advice of their agents, underprice their home in order to get more. The great majority of the sellers list their homes at market, if not a bit over; makes sense. The problem is that, even though they are told by their agents that the listing price is indeed on the high side, lots of sellers, intoxicated by ads suggesting that some brokers routinely sell homes 5 or 10%, sometimes 25% over asking, fully expect that they too will get a heck of a lot more than the advertised price. It’s contagious.

One humble and practical piece of advice to Realtors out there: When you think of a price (rational or not) for a listing, be sure to have a good, clear talk with the seller, to explain what your strategy is and what he/she can reasonably expect in the way of offers. Not a bad idea to repeat the explanation again & again. Nothing is more deceiving than a false expectation, in fact, it’s a relationship killer. You want a win-win, not a lose-lose. The time to prepare the minds and set up the stage for what’s coming is before you jot down the price on the listing contract. Good luck!

Have a Real Estate Question?

Having the right real estate agent can make a huge difference in the buying or selling of a home. Have a question about real estate, or need help with research, or other assistance? Send your question anytime, day or night. Please be as specific as possible with your question. The more information you provide, the better we can respond to your request. You can jtrump@kw.com, or call me, your North Texas Home Hunter, directly at (214) 609-7123.

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Questions To Ask Yourself Prior To Buying A Home

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If you are thinking about purchasing a home right now, you are surely getting a lot of advice. Though your friends and family have your best interests at heart, they may not be fully aware of your needs and what is currently happening in real estate. Let’s look at whether or not now is actually a good time for you to buy a home. There are three questions you should ask before purchasing in today’s market:

Why am I buying a home in the first place?

This truly is the most important question to answer. Forget the finances for a minute. Why did you even begin to consider purchasing a home? For most, the reason has nothing to do with finances. A study by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University reveals that the four major reasons people buy a home have nothing to do with money:

  • A good place to raise children and for them to get a good education
  • A place where you and your family feel safe
  • More space for you and your family
  • Control of the space

What non-financial benefits will you and your family derive from owning a home? The answer to that question should be the biggest reason you decide to purchase or not.

Where are home values headed?

When looking at future housing values, Home Price Expectation Survey provides a fair assessment. Every quarter, Pulsenomics surveys a nationwide panel of over one hundred economists, real estate experts and investment & market strategists about where prices are headed over the next five years. They then average the projections of all 100+ experts into a single number. Here is what the experts projected in the latest survey:

  • Home values will appreciate by 4% in 2015.
  • The cumulative appreciation will be 19.5% by 2018.
  • Even the experts making up the most bearish quartile of the survey still are projecting a cumulative appreciation of over 11.2% by 2018.

Where are mortgage interest rates headed?

A buyer must be concerned about more than just prices. The ‘long term cost’ of a home can be dramatically impacted by an increase in mortgage rates. The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), the National Association of Realtors, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have all projected that mortgage interest rates will increase by approximately one full percentage over the next twelve months.

Bottom Line

Only you and your family can know for certain the right time to purchase a home. Answering these questions will help you make that decision.

For professional real estate services, call The North Texas Home Hunter @ (214) 609-7123 or jtrump@kw.com

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