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Why ‘Days on Market’ is a Key Metric When Selling a House

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What’s really measured by days on market, and the implications this figure has for homebuyers and sellers alike ( FROM US NEWS)

When you’re trying to buy or sell a home, it’s important to take advantage of all the data that’s at your disposal. “Days on market” is an especially critical number to take into account. But what does this number actually mean, and why does it matter for your real estate transaction?

 

What Does Days on Market Measure?

When we talk about days on market, we’re talking about the amount of time the home is posted on the multiple listing service, or MLS, which allows real estate agents to search for local properties for sale. The timer starts whenever a house is officially listed on the market, and it ends when the seller has a signed and accepted contract with the buyer.

So, when you’re browsing real estate sites and you come across a home that has their days on market listed as one or two, that means the place was just listed. Chances are, it hasn’t had very many, if any, showings yet.

By contrast, if the home has 100 days on market, that means the seller has been trying to find a buyer for a long time – and things aren’t going well.

So what days on market tells you is more than just how long the place has been for sale. It also provides insight into how the house has been perceived by buyers in general.

Interpreting Days on Market

To that end, it’s important to understand some of the ways in which days on market can impact the sale of your home.

We’ll offer a couple of illustrations. Imagine that a buyer makes an offer on your home after being listed on the market for 48 hours. As a seller, you may not feel very desperate to cut a deal – after all, you just listed the place – and as such, you may be pretty rigid about the sale price. The buyer, meanwhile, will know that the house is new to the market, and will expect you to be pretty hard-lined about what you will and won’t accept. The offer you get will probably be fairly close to the list price.

In a second illustration, imagine that your home has been on the market for 45 days. Buyers will assume that you’ve had a lot of showings but not a lot of offers – and they may even assume you’re getting antsy to sell. Maybe even antsy enough to accept their offer, even if it’s fairly lower than anticipated. And they may be right. Questioning whether another offer will come your way, you may take the deal.

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Both illustrate a simple point: It’s important to sell your home quickly. The longer it’s listed on the market, the harder it’s going to be for you to negotiate a deal aligned with your asking price.

When it comes to tips for selling your home, a lot of it boils down to this: Make a strong first impression so you can get some good offers right out of the gate.

But how can you do this? For those wondering how to sell your house fast, what steps should you take?

 

Tips for Selling Your House as Quickly as Possible

Minimizing your days on market boils down to a few things.

First, get the pricing right. This is critical. If you overprice your home, it may languish on the market for days, weeks or even months. The best real estate agents will help you figure out the sweet spot that maximizes your return while still attracting buyers.

In fact, pricing your home too low may actually work in your favor by inciting a bidding war, depending on the current available inventory in your area.

Second, make sure your home looks move-in ready right out of the gate by staging it with the right furniture and finishing touches. You only have one chance to make a first impression.

Next, be mindful of the time of year. Putting your home on the market in spring or summeris almost always preferable to selling in the off-season. If you can wait until peak time, you’re more likely to have buyer interest and sell more quickly than in a cold market.

Finally, posting on social media can speed up your home sale by spreading the word to your personal network and beyond. Sometimes, a buyer could be closer than you think in the form of a friend, neighbor or relative, or someone in their social spheres. The more eyes on your listing, the better. 

WRITTEN BY DEANNA HAAS FOR US NEWS

 

LOS ANGELES REAL ESTATE: San Fernando Valley home prices shatter all-time record

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Homes sold for record-high prices in the San Fernando Valley during the month of June, according to a new report from the Southland Regional Association of Realtors. FTOM CURBED LA)

The median sale price for single-family homes was $722,000—nearly $15,000 higher than the previous record of $708,000, set last year. Condominium prices also reached an all-time high of $455,000 during the month.

“I’ve had multiple offers on everything I’ve sold this year,” says a local Sherman Oaks Realtor.

It’s not just the Valley. Prices across Los Angeles are crawling upward. The county’s median sale price tied an all-time record in May, according to real estate tracker CoreLogic. Sale numbers from June will be released later this month.

Perhaps because of those high prices, June also saw an unusually low number of sales in the Valley. Only 487 houses and 158 condos changed hands during the month; both numbers were the lowest recorded during the month since 1984, when the Realtors association began tracking sales.

“Prices have risen to a point where affordability issues combined with limited availability constrain buyer choices,” the group’s president, Dan Tresierras, said in a statement.

Tresierras points out that relatively low mortgage interest rates may be inspiring home shoppers to hit the market, but that there aren’t many options for them to choose from once they start looking around. Only 1,352 homes and condos were listed for sale during the month of June, down slightly from the same time last year and far below the level of inventory typically available in the Valley.

4917EdgertonAvenue.0001Still,  buyer interest remains strong, in spite of high price tags.

“As long as they’re priced right, homes in the southern Valley are still selling like crazy,” say local realtors.

With buyers persisting in their home searches for the time being, prices will likely continue to rise for the limited number of homes available for purchase, says Southland association CEO Tim Johnson.

“Lower interest rates help buyers get more house for their dollars,” he says. “Yet it also brings out more prospective buyers, which translates into additional upward pressure on prices.”

WRITTEN BY ELIJAH CHILAND FOR CURBED LA

Mortgage Rates Hold Steady at Long-Time Lows, Good News for Borrowers

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FROM MARKETWATCH.COM: Rates for home loans were little-changed during a choppy week for financial markets, but hovered near their lowest in about two years, giving a boost to home shoppers.

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.75% in the July 11 week, unchanged compared to a week ago, Freddie Mac said Thursday. More than halfway through the year, the popular product has managed only eight weekly increases.

The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.22%, up four basis points. The 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage averaged 3.46%, up from 3.45%.
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Fixed-rate mortgages track the yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note, which has moved higher in early July as investors pause to consider the massive rally of the past few weeks. Bond yields rise as prices fall, and vice versa.

Investors snatched up bonds in May and June as concerns about slowing global growth and an intensifying trade war made riskier investments like stocks less attractive. In unsettled times, investors prefer the certainty of safer, fixed-income assets.

Also fueling investor interest for bonds: the Federal Reserve. Policymakers at the central bank have been rattled enough by those cross-currents that they seem certain to cut interest rates at an upcoming meeting. The Fed doesn’t directly control the 10-year Treasury note, but its overall sense of caution can set the tone for financial markets.

The fixed-income streams bonds pay out would be less valuable if interest rates or inflation were rising, but neither looks to be the case now. After the jump of the past week, rates – including those for mortgages – look set to decline again, good news for anyone on the hunt for a home.

Written By Andrea Riquier For MarketWatch.com

6 Things Every Home Buyer, Seller, and Owner Need to Know About Today’s Housing Market

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FROM REALTOR.COM : It doesn’t matter if you’re owning or renting, buying or selling, or still sitting on the sidelines waiting to join the game. Just about everyone wants to know what’s going on in the housing market.

Because it’s a moving target. While plummeting prices can be a boon for buyers, they can throw sellers into a panic—and, in a worst-case scenario, plunge the world into a recession, as we saw when the housing bubble burst a decade ago. Meanwhile, a lack of new housing coming onto the market can lead to price spikes for both buyers and renters.

That current dearth of new construction is exacerbating a national housing shortage and leading to an increase in prices, according to the recently released annual State of the Nation’s Housing report from the Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies.

“The major takeaway is that the housing market is strong,” says Daniel McCue, senior research associate at the center. But “there’s a housing shortage brought on by several years of low levels of homebuilding. It’s led to increased competition, which has driven up home prices. And it’s led to [a lack of] housing affordability.”

Here are six key findings from the report.

1. Homeownership rate is rising again

Over the past two years, homeownership has been rising again, hitting 64.4% of U.S. households in 2018. The rate rose 0.5% from the previous year, resulting in an additional 1.6 million households who closed on properties.

That’s fantastic news. The homeownership rate had plummeted during the financial crisis as scores of foreclosures swept through the country. Now it’s back up to what it was from about 1985 through 1995, according to McCue.
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“Homeownership had declined a lot,” he says. “So [for many buyers] it was finally having the money and the income to make this happen.”

The bump was primarily thanks to more millennials and young Gen Xers flooding the market. An additional 1.1 million of them closed on properties from 2016 to 2018.

“You have a bigger group of young adults getting older and reaching the ages where they are getting married, having children, and reaching the prime first-time home buyer [point],” McCue says.

The boost in homeownership was in spite of record-high home prices in many parts of the country and rising mortgage interest rates.

In 2012, the monthly median home payment was only $1,176, after adjusting for inflation, according to the report. But just six years later, it had jumped almost 51%, to $1,775 a month.

“The fact that homeownership is rising despite all of the affordability challenges that buyers are facing reflects how important homeownership is to the American dream,” says Chief Economist Danielle Hale of realtor.com®.

2. Fewer folks are renting

Simple math: If the number of homeowners is rising, it means that the number of renters is falling. The number of households renting the roofs over their heads fell by 110,000, to 43.2 million, from 2017 through 2018. That’s in stark contrast to the previous 12 years, when the number of tenants grew by nearly 850,000 households annually.

Increasing rents, going up 3.6% annually in 2018 compared with 3.8% in 2017, may have something to do with it.

“Rents are high and rising,” says Hale. But homeownership tends to be more of a fixed cost as folks know what their monthly mortgage will be. “Renters tend to pay more of their income toward housing than homeowners do.”
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But here’s another shift: Renters are becoming wealthier. About a quarter of them now have household incomes of $75,000 or more. That means many are choosing not to become homeowners even though they could afford to do so.

But more middle-class renters, earning between $45,000 and $75,000 a year, are becoming cost-burdened. The percentage of these folks spending more than 30% of their income (which is considered the max folks should pay for housing) shot up from 13% in 2001 to 25% in 2018, according to McCue.

3. The rate of new home construction is slowing

Even with record demand from prospective buyers, the rate of home construction slowed in 2018. Yes, the number of new, completed homes was up 2.8%, to 1.18 million units, from 2017 to 2018, but that growth rate is actually the lowest since 2012, when the recovery from the Great Recession kicked in.

“We’re eight years into the recovery, and we’re still only 75% back to normal rates of home building,” says McCue.

He blames the lack of building to increasing land prices, cumbersome local regulations, and a construction labor shortage that make building more difficult and expensive.

Still, building was more prevalent in some parts of the country than others. For example, home construction starts were up 7% in the West, where the population is growing, and 5% in the South, where land is more plentiful and cheap. But they fell just under 1% in the expensive Northeast, where there’s not as much land available to build on, and dropped 4% in the Midwest.

“Some of that is simply a reflection where people are moving,” says Hale.
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4. Homes are getting bigger and less affordable

Most first-time buyers don’t want—and can’t afford—a megamansion. They’re seeking smaller, more affordable single-family houses. But builders aren’t putting them up.

Just 22% of single-family homes clocked in at under 1,800 square feet, according to the report. That’s compared with 32% from 1999 through 2011.

That’s because it’s simply more profitable to put up bigger, more luxurious abodes and sell them for higher prices.

“It’s difficult for builders to build modest-sized, more affordable homes,” says McCue. But “there’s plenty of demand out there for these [homes].”

5. Home sales are slipping

The lack of homes, the rising prices, and the crazy competition may be why the number of home sales is falling. After years of a white-hot, frenzied real estate market, 5.3 million existing (i.e., previously lived-in) residences were sold in 2018. That’s compared with 5.5 million in 2017.

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“Home sales declined mainly at the end of 2018, when mortgage interest rates increased,” says McCue. Even the slightest interest rate increase can add quite a bit to a monthly mortgage payment.

But there are now more homes available for sale, even though they tend to be on the more expensive side. The number of homes for sale priced at under $200,000 has dropped, while more properties going for $750,000 or more are coming onto the market, says Hale.

“The biggest increase in inventory is in expensive homes for sale, where demand is the weakest,” she says.

6. Home price growth is also slowing

Buyers shouldn’t get too excited. Home prices aren’t coming down—they’re just not increasing at such a fast pace. Home price appreciation went from 6.5% at the beginning of 2018 to just 4.6% at the end of the year, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller National Home Price Index.

The median home list price is $310,000, according to realtor.com.

“Home prices have gotten so high in so many areas that it was just unsustainable to keep rising at the rates that they had,” says McCue. “Home prices have far outpaced rises in income over the last five years.” 
  
 WRITTEN FOR REALTOR.COM BY CRAIG TRAPASSO

HOW TO: Quickly Raise Your Credit Score Before Applying For A Mortgage

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Though you can buy a house with bad credit, the process is a whole lot easier when your credit score is in good shape. And if you’re teetering between fair and good credit, it could mean a difference of thousands of dollars in interest over the life of your loan. (FROM HUFFPOST).
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So before you start your mortgage application, it’s a good idea to boost your score as much as possible. Fortunately, there are several ways to improve your credit score in a matter of weeks.

What credit score is needed for a mortgage?

The credit score you need to qualify for a mortgage depends on the type of loan you’re after. FHA loans, for example, only require a credit score of 500 to qualify, though you need to put down at least 10% as a down payment and pay private mortgage insurance. To put down just 3.5%, a credit score of 580 is required.

“FHA loans come with additional costs such as mortgage insurance premium, so you will want to make sure that even if you are approved for a loan it is still a wise decision,” said Brian Walsh, manager of financial planning at SoFi.

But for conventional mortgages, he said, the minimum credit score needed is in the mid-600s. An analysis of Credit Karma members shows the average credit score for first-time homebuyers in the U.S. is 684, though the number varies by location, according to Dana Marineau, vice president at Credit Karma.

Even so, that’s probably not good enough to qualify for the best interest rates. To get the best loan terms, you’ll likely need a score of 720 or better.

Ways to increase your credit score quickly

So what can you do to bump up your score within a reasonable amount of time? Though building good credit takes years of maintaining good habits, there are a few things you can do to give your score a boost before applying for a mortgage.

1. Dispute credit report errors.

“You should start by getting a copy of your credit report and looking for any mistakes,” Walsh said. “There may be errors on your credit report that could negatively impact your score.” In fact, one report by the Federal Trade Commission found that one in five consumers had an error on at least one of their credit reports.

To review your credit reports for errors, start by visiting annualcreditreport.com. This is the only website that’s federally authorized to provide free credit reports. Look through each report for mistakes such as incorrect name or address, credit lines that don’t belong to you, duplicate entries, incorrect account status and other errors that could lead to a lower score.

Since each credit bureau collects and reports credit information independently, you’ll need to check all three reports. If you find a mistake, you’ll also need to dispute it with each bureau. Each one has a slightly different process for disputing errors, but instructions can easily be found on their websites.

2. Pay down some debt.

Once you’re sure that your credit reports are up-to-date and accurate, look for ways to reduce the amount of debt you owe.
One of the major deciding factors in applying for a mortgage is your debt-to-income ratio. This number measures how much of your monthly income goes toward paying back debts.

“If you can pay off a loan, that loan’s monthly payment goes away, improving your debt-to-income ratio,” said Justin Pritchard, a certified financial planner and owner of Approach Financial in Montrose, Colorado. “Lenders prefer that your total debt payments take up a relatively small portion of your total monthly income. Eliminating a payment may help you qualify for a loan.”

Most mortgage lenders require a back-end DTI (the total amount of income allocated toward debt, including your potential mortgage payment) of no more than 43%. So by paying down a credit card balance or paying off your car loan, you will immediately lower your DTI and increase your odds of approval.

And though DTI doesn’t directly affect your credit score, paying down outstanding debt does. That’s because “amounts owed,” also known as your credit utilization ratio, makes up 30% of your FICO score. The more of your available credit you borrow against, the more it can negatively affect your score. So again, by reducing how much debt you have to your name, you become a much more attractive borrower.

3. Ask for a credit limit increase.

In addition to paying down debt, another easy way to improve your score instantly is by getting a credit limit increase. While this won’t change your debt-to-income ratio, it will lower your credit utilization since your outstanding debt remains the same while your available credit increases.

Often, you can request an increase and get approved instantly through your card company’s website. Sometimes, however, you’ll need to call and ask.
Keep in mind that credit card issuers will sometimes run a credit check before granting a credit limit increase. Doing so results in a hard inquiry on your credit report, though just one inquiry will have a negligible impact. And if your credit has taken a hit since you first opened your credit card account, your issuer might actually lower your limit instead.

4. Get added as an authorized user.

Another way to instantly improve your credit is by piggybacking on someone else’s. If you have a family member or a close friend with excellent credit, you could ask them to add you as an authorized user on one of their credit cards.

When someone adds an authorized user to a credit card, that account’s information is reported on both people’s credit reports. If you’re added to an account with a long, clean history, it can bump your score a bit higher. The best part is, you don’t actually need to use the credit card or even know the card’s information. The primary account holder’s activity will automatically transfer to you, too.

Credit bureaus don’t give as much weight to authorized user status as they do primary cardholder status. Still, every little bit helps. Just keep in mind that you’ll need to share both the good and the bad of that account. If the primary holder misses a payment or maxes out the card, you’ll suffer the consequences as well.

5. Consider a credit-builder loan.

If you have limited experience with different types of credit, a credit-builder loan might help you diversify your credit mix — which accounts for 15% of your FICO score — and bump up your score a bit.

“These small loans, which are typically less than $1,000, aren’t really loans at all ― at least not in the traditional sense,” said Marineau, the vice president at Credit Karma. “The financial institution deposits the loan amount into a locked savings account you can’t access, and over the next six to 24 months, you pay off the loan just as you would with any other loan. Once the loan is fully paid off, the accumulated money is returned to you in total.” 

If you’re worried about adding another credit inquiry to your reports, the good news is that many lenders offering these loans (typically credit unions) don’t require a traditional credit check to qualify. Instead, they might evaluate your banking history through the consumer reporting agency ChexSystems, according to Experian.

6. Request a rapid rescore.

Once you’ve done all the hard work of cleaning up your credit, you’ll want your credit scores to reflect that. That’s where rapid rescoring can help.

“You might be able to use rapid rescoring to get your credit reports updated quickly (within a week or so) and receive a more favorable score,” Pritchard said. This is much faster than the weeks or months it can take for credit changes to be reflected in your score normally. “Not every lender offers that, but if it’s available and it helps, go ahead and use it.”

Other tips to keep your credit in good shape

While you’re working to improve your credit before buying a house, there are a few mistakes you should avoid so your progress isn’t undone.

Don’t miss any payments: The single worst thing you can do for your credit is pay a bill late. Payment history makes up 35% of your FICO score ― the most heavily weighted factor.

Don’t apply for new credit: Until you’ve locked in your mortgage, avoid chasing attractive sign-up bonuses and rewards offers. If a lender sees several credit inquiries leading up to your mortgage application, it will be a red flag that you’re too reliant on credit.

Do your rate shopping over a two-week period: That said, you’ll need to shop around and get rate quotes from different mortgage lenders. Fortunately, credit bureaus recognize that rate shopping is a natural part of the mortgage process. “Just make sure you shop around within a short period of time, since inquiries made within a certain window are grouped together,” said Walsh, the financial planning manager at SoFi. “That window is between 14 and 45 days depending on the model used, so plan on shopping around within two weeks to be safe.”

Keep credit card balances as low as possible: Even if you plan to pay the entire balance when your bill comes, there’s a good chance your balance is reported to the credit bureaus mid-month, making it seem like you’re using a lot of credit. “Even if you pay off your credit cards every month, you need to keep your balances especially low when applying for a mortgage,” Pritchard said. “When they pull your credit, they get a snapshot of your account balances, and that might be from the day before you pay off your balance.” A good rule of thumb is to keep your balance below 30% of your credit limit, though the lower, the better. “If that means paying off your credit card every week while you’re in the application process, it’s probably worth it,” he said.

Don’t close accounts: It might seem counterintuitive, but you should avoid closing any revolving credit accounts like credit cards, even if you aren’t using them. Closing an account immediately reduces your available credit. If you have outstanding debt, this will cause your credit utilization ratio to jump up. Your best bet is to avoid making any major changes until you sign your mortgage contract.

WRITTEN BY CASEY BOND FOR HUFFINGTONPOST.COM


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