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RE/MAX Innovative Properties
2 Ash Street
Hollis, NH 03049

Karen R. Brown

Karen R. Brown
Licensed in MA & NH

c: 603.321.7513 | o: 603.465.8800

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Expert Home Price Forecasts for 2024 Revised Up

 

Over the past few months, experts have revised their 2024 home price forecasts based on the latest data and market signals, and they’re even more confident prices will rise, not fall.

So, let’s see exactly how experts’ thinking has shifted – and what’s caused the change.

2024 Home Price Forecasts: Then and Now

The chart below shows what seven expert organizations think will happen to home prices in 2024. It compares their first 2024 home price forecasts (made at the end of 2023) with their newest projections:

 a blue and white graph with text

 

The middle column shows that, at first, these experts thought home prices would only go up a little this year. But if you look at the column on the right, you'll see they've all updated their forecasts and now think prices will go up more than they originally thought. And some of the differences are major.

There are two big factors keeping such strong upward pressure on home prices. The first is how few homes are for sale right now. According to Business Insider:

Low home inventory is a chronic problem in the US. This has generally kept home prices up . . .”

A lack of housing inventory has been pushing prices up for a long time now – and that’s not expected to change dramatically this year. But what has changed a bit is mortgage rates.

Late last year when most housing market experts were calling for home prices to rise only a little bit in 2024, mortgage rates were up and buyer demand was more moderate.

Now that rates have come down from their peak last October, and with further declines expected over the course of the year, buyer demand has picked up. That increase in demand, along with an ongoing lack of inventory, is what’s caused the experts to feel the upward pressure on prices will be stronger than they expected a couple months ago.

A Look Forward To Get Ahead of the Next Forecast Revisions

Real estate experts regularly revise their home price forecasts as the housing market shifts. It’s a normal part of their job that ensures their projections are always up-to-date and factor in the latest changes in the housing market.

That means they’ll continue to revise their projections as the housing market changes, just as they’ve always done. How those forecasts change next is anyone’s guess, but pay attention to mortgage rates.

If they trend down as the year goes on, as they’re expected to do, that could lead to more buyer demand and even higher home price forecasts.

Basically, it’s all about supply and demand. With supply still so limited, anything that causes demand to go up will likely cause prices to go up, too.

Bottom Line

At first, experts believed home prices would only go up a little this year. But now, they've changed their minds and forecast prices will grow even more than they originally thought. Let’s connect so you know what to expect with prices in our area.

Home Equity Can Be a Game Changer When You Sell


Are you on the fence about selling your house? While affordability is improving this year, it’s still tight. And that may be on your mind. But understanding your home equity could be the key to making your decision easier. An article from Bankrate explains:

Home equity is the difference between your home's value and the amount you still owe on your mortgage. It represents the paid-off portion of your home.
You'll start off with a certain level of equity when you make your down payment to buy the home, then continue to build equity as you pay down your mortgage. You'll also build equity over time as your home's value increases.”

Think of equity as a simple math equation. It's the value of your home now minus what you owe on your mortgage. And guess what? Recently, your equity has probably grown more than you think.

In the past few years, home prices skyrocketed, which means your home's value – and your equity – likely shot up, too. So, you may have more equity than you realize.

How To Make the Most of Your Home Equity Right Now

If you're thinking about moving, the equity you have in your home could be a big help. According to CoreLogic:

“. . . the average U.S. homeowner with a mortgage still has more than $300,000 in equity . . .”

Clearly, homeowners have a lot of equity right now. And the latest data from the Census and ATTOM shows over two-thirds of homeowners have either completely paid off their mortgages (shown in green in the chart below) or have at least 50% equity (shown in blue in the chart below):

 

 

That means roughly 70% have a tremendous amount of equity right now.

After you sell your house, you can use your equity to help you buy your next home. Here’s how:

  • Be an all-cash buyer: If you’ve been living in your current home for a long time, you might have enough equity to buy your next home without having to take out a loan. If that’s the case, you won’t need to borrow any money or worry about mortgage ratesInvestopedia states:
“You may want to pay cash for your home if you're shopping in a competitive housing market, or if you'd like to save money on mortgage interest. It could help you close a deal and beat out other buyers.
  • Make a larger down payment: Your equity could also be used toward your next down payment. It might even be enough to let you put a larger amount down, so you won’t have to borrow as much money. The Mortgage Reports explains:
Borrowers who put down more money typically receive better interest rates from lenders. This is due to the fact that a larger down payment lowers the lender’s risk because the borrower has more equity in the home from the beginning.”

The Easy Way To Find Out How Much Equity You Have

To find out how much equity you have in your home, ask a real estate agent you trust for a Professional Equity Assessment Report (PEAR). 

Bottom Line

Planning a move? Your home equity can really help you out. Let’s connect to see how much equity you have and how it can help with your next home.

Are More Homeowners Selling as Mortgage Rates Come Down?


If you’re looking to buy a home, the recent downward trend in mortgage rates is good news because it helps with affordability. But there’s another way this benefits you – it may inspire more homeowners to put their houses up for sale.

The Mortgage Rate Lock-In Effect

Over the past year, one factor that’s really limited the options for your move is how few homes were on the market. That’s because many homeowners chose to delay their plans to sell once mortgage rates went up. An article from Freddie Mac explains:

The lack of housing supply was partly driven by the rate lock-in effect. . . . With higher rates, the incentive for existing homeowners to list their property and move to a new house has greatly diminished, leaving them rate locked.”

These homeowners decided to stay put and keep their current lower mortgage rate, rather than move and take on a higher one on their next home.

Early Signs Show Those Homeowners Are Ready To Move Again

According to the latest data from Realtor.com, there were more homeowners putting their houses up for sale, known in the industry as new listings, in December 2023 compared to December 2022 (see graph below):

 

 

Here's why this is so significant. Typically, activity in the housing market cools down in the later months of the year as some sellers choose to delay their moves until January rolls around.

This is the first time since 2020 that we’ve seen an uptick in new listings this time of year. This could be a signal that the rate lock-in effect is easing a bit in response to lower rates.

What This Means for You

While there isn’t going to suddenly be an influx of options for your home search, it does mean more sellers may be deciding to list. According to a recent article from the Joint Center for Housing Studies (JCHS):

A reduction in interest rates could alleviate the lock-in effect and help lift homeowner mobility. Indeed, interest rates have recently declined, falling by a full percentage point from October to November 2023 . . . Further decreases would reduce the barrier to moving and give homeowners looking to sell a newfound sense of urgency . . .”

And that means you may see more homes come onto the market to give you more fresh options to choose from.

Bottom Line

As mortgage rates come down, more sellers may re-enter the market – that gives you an opportunity to find the home you’re looking for. Let’s connect so you’ve got a local expert on your side who’ll help you stay on top of the latest listings in our area.

What You Need To Know About Saving for a Home in 2024


If you’re planning to buy a home, knowing what to budget for and how to save may sound intimidating – but it doesn’t have to be. One way to ease those concerns is to make sure you understand some of the costs you may encounter up front. And to do that, always turn to trusted real estate professionals. They can help you set a plan and take a strategic look at your budget and your process before you even get started.

Here are just a few things experts say you should be thinking about.

1. Down Payment

Saving for your down payment is likely top of mind as you set out to buy a home. But do you know how much you’ll need? While every buyer’s situation is different, there’s a common misconception that putting 20% of the purchase price down is required. An article from the Mortgage Reports explains why that’s not always the case:

“The idea that you have to put 20% down on a house is a myth. . . . The right amount depends on your current savings and your home buying goals.”

To understand your options, partner with trusted real estate professionals to go over the various loan types, down payment assistance programs, and what each one requires. The more you know ahead of time, the easier the process will be.

2. Closing Costs

Make sure you also budget for closing costs, which are a collection of fees and payments made to the various parties involved in your transaction. Bankrate explains:

Closing costs are the fees you pay when finalizing a real estate transaction, whether you’re refinancing a mortgage or buying a new home. These costs can amount to 2 to 5 percent of the mortgage so it’s important to be financially prepared for this expense.”

The best way to understand what you’ll need at the closing table is to work with a trusted lender. They can provide you with answers to the questions you might have.

3. Earnest Money Deposit

If you want to cover all your bases, you can also consider saving for an earnest money deposit (EMD). An EMD is money you pay as a show of good faith when you make an offer on a house. According to Realtor.com, it’s usually between 1% and 2% of the total home price.

This deposit works like a credit. It’s not an added expense – it’s paying a portion of your costs upfront. You’re using some of the money you’ve already saved for your purchase to show the seller you’re committed and serious about buying their house. Realtor.com describes how it works as part of your sale:

It tells the real estate seller you’re in earnest as a buyer . . . Assuming that all goes well and the buyer’s good-faith offer is accepted by the seller, the earnest money funds go toward the down payment and closing costs. In effect, earnest money is just paying more of the down payment and closing costs upfront.”

Keep in mind, an EMD isn’t required, and it doesn’t guarantee your offer will be accepted. It’s important to work with a real estate advisor to understand what’s best for your situation and any specific requirements in your local area. They’ll advise you on what moves you should make so you can make the best possible decisions throughout the buying process.

Bottom Line

When buying a home, being informed about what to save for is key. Let’s connect so you’ll have an expert on your side to answer any questions you have along the way.

Why Now Is Still a Great Time To Sell Your House

 

If you were worried buyer demand disappeared when mortgage rates went up, the data shows there are plenty of interested buyers still out there. The housing market isn't as frenzied as it was during the ‘unicorn’ years when buyer demand was through the roof, mortgage rates were historically low, and home values rose like we’ve never seen before. But that doesn’t mean the market is at a standstill.

Nationally, demand is still high compared to the last normal years in the housing market and plenty of buyers are making moves right now. Here’s the data to prove it.

Showing Traffic Is Up

The ShowingTime Showing Index is a measure of how frequently buyers are touring homes. The graph below uses that index to show buyer activity over the past eight Octobers:

 

 

In the graph, the ‘unicorn’ years are shown in pink. You can see demand has dipped some since then. That’s in response to higher mortgage rates. But, when you compare 2023 to the blue bars on the left that represent the last normal years in the market (2018-2019), you can tell buyers are still more active than the norm.

But showing traffic isn’t the only way to see buyer demand is still high. The number of offers other sellers are getting and the average days homes are on the market tell the same story.

Sellers Are Still Seeing Multiple Offers

According to the latest data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), sellers are receiving an average of 2.5 offers on their houses. Let’s look at how that compares to recent years (see graph below):

 

 

It’s true that’s fewer than the number of offers sellers were receiving during the ‘unicorn’ years (shown in pink). But compared to last year, the number is up slightly. And it’s higher than it was in the more normal, pre-‘unicorn’ years in the housing market too.

Homes Priced Right Are Selling Fast

And it’s not just that sellers are still typically getting multiple offers more than the norm, they’re also seeing their homes sell fast. That’s a direct result of strong buyer demand. According to Zillow:

“. . . low inventory levels are spurring surprisingly strong competition . . . demand has remained resilient, and attractive, appropriately priced listings are moving quickly.”

To help showcase that homes for sale are still going quickly, let’s look at data from NAR on the median days on market for this same time of year from 2018 through now (see graph below):

  

 

As the graph shows, this year homes are sitting on the market only slightly longer than they were during the frenzy of the ‘unicorn’ years. And compared to the last normal years in the market, homes are still selling much faster than they did back then. That’s good news for sellers because it means there are eager buyers out there right now.

Bottom Line

You haven't missed your chance to sell at a time when sellers are receiving multiple offers, and homes are selling fast. When you’re ready to sell your house, let’s connect to get the ball rolling.

Down Payment Assistance Programs Can Help Pave the Way to Homeownership


If you’re looking to buy a home, your down payment doesn’t have to be a big hurdle. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), 38% of first-time homebuyers find saving for a down payment the most challenging step. But the reality is, you probably don’t need to put down as much as you think:

 

Data from NAR shows the median down payment hasn’t been over 20% since 2005. In fact, the median down payment for all homebuyers today is only 15%. And it’s even lower for first-time homebuyers at 8%. But just because that’s the median, it doesn’t mean you have to put that much down. Some qualified buyers put down even less.

For example, there are loan types, like FHA loans, with down payments as low as 3.5%, as well as options like VA loans and USDA loans with no down payment requirements for qualified applicants. But let’s focus in on another valuable resource that may be able to help with your down payment: down payment assistance programs.

First-Time and Repeat Buyers Are Often Eligible

According to Down Payment Resource, there are thousands of programs available for homebuyers – and 75% of these are down payment assistance programs.

And it’s not just first-time homebuyers that are eligible. That means no matter where you are in your homebuying journey, there could be an option available for you. As Down Payment Resource notes:

You don’t have to be a first-time buyer. Over 39% of all [homeownership] programs are for repeat homebuyers who have owned a home in the last 3 years.”

The best place to start as you search for more information is with a trusted real estate professional. They’ll be able to share more information about what may be available, including additional programs for specific professions or communities. 

Additional Down Payment Resources That Can Help

Here are a few down payment assistance programs that are helping many of today’s buyers achieve the dream of homeownership:

  • Teacher Next Door is designed to help teachers, first responders, health providers, government employees, active-duty military personnel, and veterans reach their down payment goals.
  • Fannie Mae provides down-payment assistance to eligible first-time homebuyers living in majority-Latino communities.
  • Freddie Mac also has options designed specifically for homebuyers with modest credit scores and limited funds for a down payment.
  • The 3By30 program lays out actionable strategies to add 3 million new Black homeowners by 2030. These programs offer valuable resources for potential buyers, making it easier for them to secure down payments and realize their dream of homeownership.
  • For Native Americans, Down Payment Resource highlights 42 U.S. homebuyer assistance programs across 14 states that ease the path to homeownership by providing support with down payments and other associated costs.

Even if you don’t qualify for these types of programs, there are many other federal, state, and local options available to look into. And a real estate professional can help you find the ones that meet your needs as you explore what’s available. 

Bottom Line

Achieving the dream of having a home may be more within reach than you think, especially when you know where to find the right support. To learn more about your options, let’s connect.

Are the Top 3 Housing Market Questions on Your Mind?

 

When it comes to what’s happening in the housing market, there’s a lot of confusion going around right now. You may hear one thing in conversation with your friends, see something totally different on the news, and read something on social media that contradicts both of those thoughts. And, if you’re thinking about making a move, that can leave you with a lot of lingering questions. That’s where a trusted local real estate agent comes in.

Here are the top 3 questions people are asking about today’s housing market, and the data to help answer them.

1. What’s Next for Mortgage Rates?

Mortgage rates are higher than they’ve been in recent years. And, if you’re looking to buy a home, that impacts how much you can afford. That’s why so many buyers want to know what’s ahead for mortgage rates. The answer to that question is: no one can say for certain, but here’s what we know based on historical trends.

There’s a long-standing relationship between mortgage rates and inflation. Basically, when inflation is high, mortgage rates tend to follow suit. Over the past year, inflation was up, so mortgage rates were as well. But inflation is easing now. And this is why the Federal Reserve has recently paused their federal funds rate hikes, which means many experts believe mortgage rates will begin to come down.

And in some ways, we’ve started to see hints of slightly lower mortgage rates in recent weeks. But it’s certainly been volatile and will likely continue to be that way going into next year. Some ongoing variation is to be expected, but the anticipation is, that in 2024, we’ll see a downward trend. As Aziz Sunderji, Strategist at Home Economics, says:

“The bottom line is that interest rates are likely to be lower-perhaps even lower than many optimists think - in the weeks and months to come.”

2. Where Are Home Prices Headed?

While there’s been a lot of concern prices would come crashing down this year, data shows that didn’t happen. In fact, home prices are rising in most of the nation. Experts say that trend will continue, just at a slower pace that’s much more normal for the housing market – and that’s a good thing.

To help show just how confident experts are in this continued appreciation, take a look at the Home Price Expectation Survey from Pulsenomics. It’s a survey of a national panel of over 100 economists, real estate experts, and investment and market strategists. As the graph below shows, the consensus is, that prices will keep climbing next year, and in the years to come.

 

 

3. Is a Recession Around the Corner?

While recession talk has been a common thing over the past few years, there’s good news on that front.

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) polls experts on this topic regularly. And last year at this time, most of them thought a recession would have happened by now. But as experts look at all the leading indicators today, they’re changing their minds and saying a recession is getting less and less likely. The latest results show that more experts now think we’re not headed for another recession (see chart below):

 

 

This is big news for the housing market. And while the 48% to 52% split may seem close to half and half, the key thing to focus on is that the majority of these experts think we’ve avoided a recession already.

Bottom Line

The big takeaway? The data shows there isn’t cause for concern – there are actually more signs of hope. Let’s connect to talk more about the housing market questions on your mind as we head into the new year. 

Homeowner Net Worth Has Skyrocketed


If you’re weighing your options to decide whether it makes more sense to rent or buy a home today, here’s one key data point that could help you feel more confident in making your decision. Every three years, the Federal Reserve Board releases the Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF). That report covers the difference in net worth for both homeowners and renters. Spoiler alert: the gap between the two is significant.

The average homeowner’s net worth is almost 40X greater than a renter’s. And here’s the data to prove it (see graph below):

 

The Big Reason Homeowner Net Worth Is So High

In the previous version of that report, the net worth of the average homeowner was roughly $255,000 and that of the average renter was $6,300. But in the release that just came out this year, the gap widened as homeowner net worth climbed dramatically. As the Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF) report says:

“. . . the 2019-2022 growth in median net worth was the largest three-year increase over the history of the modern SCF, more than double the next-largest one on record.”

One of the biggest reasons homeowner net worth skyrocketed is home equity.

Over the last few years, known as the ‘unicorn’ years for housing, home prices went through the roof. That’s because there weren’t enough homes for sale, and there was a big influx of buyers rushing to buy them and take advantage of the then record-low mortgage rates. That imbalance of supply and demand pushed prices higher and higher. As a result, most homeowners who had a home during that time saw their equity grow a lot.

If you’re still in the middle of making your decision on whether to rent or buy, you may wonder if you missed the boat on the big net worth boost. But here’s what you need to realize. As a recent article in The Ascent explains:

Whether your net worth increased in recent years or not, there are steps you can take to boost that number in the coming years. . . buying a home can be a great way to grow your net worth, since home values have a tendency to rise over time.”

Historically, home prices climb over time. Even now that mortgage rates are closer to 7-8%, prices are still rising in many areas of the country because supply is still low compared to demand. That’s why expert forecasts for the next few years call for ongoing appreciation – just at a pace that’s more typical for the housing market.

While it likely won’t be the record ramp-up that happened over the last few years, people who buy now should continue to grow equity in the years ahead. That means, if you’re ready and able to buy a home today, you’ll be making an investment that’ll help build your net worth in the long run.

As Jessica Lautz, Deputy Chief Economist at the National Association of Realtors (NAR), says:

“. . . when deciding to rent vs buy, one must calculate the total cost of homeownership (maintenance, utilities, commuting, etc.) and the total financial benefit. Based on new Fed data . . . the median net worth of homeowners was $396,200 vs renters at $10,400. There is no question about the wealth gains that homeownership provides.”

Bottom Line

If you’re on the fence about whether to rent or buy a home, remember that homeownership can give your net worth a big boost over time. If you want to learn more about this or the many other benefits of owning a home, let’s connect.

How Buying a Multi-Generational Home Helps with Affordability Today


In today's world of rising housing costs, many buyers are looking for ways to still be able to buy a home. Some of them have found a solution in multi-generational living.

Multi-generational living is when two or more adult generations live together under one roof. This includes siblings, parents, or even grandparents. Here’s an in-depth look at why more buyers are choosing this option today, so you can see if it may be right for you too.

Reasons To Buy a Multi-Generational Home

According to a recent study by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the top two reasons people are opting for multi-generational homes today have to do with affordability (see graph below):

 

Cost Savings: About 28% of first-time buyers and 11% of repeat buyers are deciding on a multi-generational home to save on costs. By pooling their resources, households can share the financial responsibilities like mortgage payments, utilities, property taxes, and maintenance, to make homeownership more affordable. This is especially helpful for first-time homebuyers who may be finding it tough to afford a home on their own in today's market.

More Space: Another 28% of first-time buyers and 18% of repeat buyers are doing it because they want a larger home they couldn’t afford on their own. For some of the repeat buyers who listed this as a main motivator, it could be because they find themselves taking care of older parents while also welcoming back young adults who've returned to the nest. With everyone chipping in and combining their incomes, suddenly, that big dream home with more space is within reach. As the Triangle Business Journal explains:

Choosing multi-gen living allows people to purchase a home much larger than they could afford on their own by leveraging the combined income, credit and a down payment of those that they will be occupying the home with.”

Lean on an Expert

If you’re interested in this too, partner with a local real estate agent. Finding the perfect multi-generational home isn't as simple as shopping for a regular house. That’s because there are more people with even more opinions and needs that should be considered.

You've got to make sure everyone has their own space, find room for shared household time, and possibly even create adaptable areas for older relatives. It's a puzzle, and the pieces need to fit just right. Your real estate agent has the expertise and local knowledge to help you find that home where everyone can be comfortable without breaking the bank. As MoneyGeek.com puts it:

"Having a good multigenerational property can improve the prospects of success when living with loved ones. A multigenerational home should fit the specific needs of most family members regardless of age or health. Speaking to a real-estate agent can help you gain clarity and locate a fit."

Bottom Line

Buying a multi-generational home can be a smart way to tackle some of today’s affordability challenges. When you team up to share expenses, you can make your dream of homeownership more attainable. If this sounds like an option for you and your loved ones, let’s connect to help you find a home that’s the perfect fit.

The Latest Expert Forecasts for Home Prices in 2023

 

Are you thinking about making a move? If so, all the speculation that home prices would crash this year may have you feeling a bit on edge about your decision. Let the data and the experts reassure you. Prices aren’t in a downward spiral and will actually finish the year strong.

Even though you may have heard talk that prices would drop 5, 10, or even 20% this year, that hasn’t happened. The big reason why is the supply of homes for sale is too low. There are just more buyers looking to buy than homes available, and that’s kept prices from falling.

To prove this year wasn’t a bust for home prices, let’s look at the latest 2023 forecast from a number of experts.

Most Experts Project Home Prices Will Net Positive this Year

The general consensus from industry experts is that home price appreciation will actually be positive for 2023. The graph below shows the latest 2023 year-end forecasts from six different organizations:

 

As you can see, all but one project nationally prices will net positive this year. That’s significant because it shows the majority are optimistic about home price growth.

If you’re still worried about the one red bar that shows an overall price drop for the year, think about this. The projection from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) is for only a slight decline. It’s not the big crash all the headlines called for. Plus, if you average all six forecasts together, the expectation is that prices will net somewhere around 3.3% positive growth for the year.

If these 6 organizations aren’t enough to convince you that prices won’t come tumbling down, here’s something else to consider. One of the six forecasts represented in the graph is the Home Price Expectation Survey (HPES) from Pulsenomics. It combines survey results from over 100 economists, investment strategists, and housing market analysts. The HPES found that the average from all 100 of those experts is 3.3% price growth for the year.

If you look back at the graph above, you’ll notice the blue average for the forecasts in this graph is also 3.3%. While individual forecasts may vary, both the HPES survey and the average of these forecasts provide the same projection. And 3.3% appreciation is a completely different story than prices falling.

Bottom Line

If you’re worried about home prices falling this year, let the experts reassure you. Based on the average of the latest forecasts, home prices will actually show positive growth this year. If you have questions about what’s happening with home prices in our local area, let’s connect.