The Impact of Higher Interest Rates

The Impact of Higher Interest Rates | Keeping Current Matters

Last week, an article in the Washington Post discussed a new ‘threat’ homebuyers will soon be facing: higher mortgage rates. The article revealed:

“The Mortgage Bankers Association expects that rates on 30-year loans could reach 4.8 percent by the end of next year, topping 5 percent in 2017. Rates haven’t been that high since the recession.”

How can this impact the housing market?

The article reported that recent analysis from Realtor.com found that -

“…as many as 7% of people who applied for a mortgage during the first half of the year would have had trouble qualifying if rates rose by half a percentage point.”

This doesn’t necessarily mean that those buyers negatively impacted by a rate increase would not purchase a home. However, it would mean that they would either need to come up with substantially more cash for a down payment or settle for a lesser priced home.

Below is a table showing how a jump in mortgage interest rates would impact the purchasing power of a prospective buyer on a $300,000 home.

Buyers Purchasing Power | Keeping Current Matters

Bottom Line


If you are considering a home purchase (either as a first time buyer or move-up buyer), purchasing sooner rather than later may make more sense from a pure financial outlook.

Rent vs. Buy: Either Way You’re Paying A Mortgage

Rent vs. Buy: Either Way You're Paying A Mortgage | Keeping Current Matters

There are some people that have not purchased a home because they are uncomfortable taking on the obligation of a mortgage. Everyone should realize that, unless you are living with your parents rent free, you are paying a mortgage - either your mortgage or your landlord’s.

As The Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University explains:

“Households must consume housing whether they own or rent. Not even accounting for more favorable tax treatment of owning, homeowners pay debt service to pay down their own principal while households that rent pay down the principal of a landlord plus a rate of return.  

That’s yet another reason owning often does—as Americans intuit—end up making more financial sense than renting.”

Christina Boyle, a Senior Vice President, Head of Single-Family Sales & Relationship Management at Freddie Mac, explains another benefit of securing a mortgage vs. paying rent:

“With a 30-year fixed rate mortgage, you’ll have the certainty & stability of knowing what your mortgage payment will be for the next 30 years – unlike rents which will continue to rise over the next three decades.”

As an owner, your mortgage payment is a form of ‘forced savings’ that allows you to have equity in your home that you can tap into later in life. As a renter, you guarantee your landlord is the person with that equity.

The graph below shows the widening gap in net worth between a homeowner and a renter:

Increasing Gap in Family Wealth | Keeping Current Matters

Bottom Line


Whether you are looking for a primary residence for the first time or are considering a vacation home on the shore, owning might make more sense than renting with home values and interest rates projected to climb.

Distressed Property Sales Hit New Low

Distressed Property Sales Hit New Low | Keeping Current Matters

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) just released their Existing Home Sales Report revealing that distressed property sales accounted for 6% of sales in October. This is down from 9% in 2014 and the lowest figure since NAR began tracking distressed sales in October 2008.

Below is a graph that shows just how far the market has come since January 2012 when distressed sales accounted for 35% of all sales.

Percentage of Distressed Property Sales | Keeping Current Matters

Existing Home Sales Up Year-Over-Year

Mortgage interest rates remained below 4% in October prompting existing home sales to stay at a healthy annual pace of 5.36 million. Year-over-year sales were up 3.9%.

Inventory of homes for sale remain below the 6-month supply that is necessary for a normal market, as they fell 2.3% to a 4.8-months supply. The shortage in inventory has contributed to the median home price rising an additional 5.8% to $219,600.

NAR’s Chief Economist, Lawrence Yun had this to say about the lack of inventory:

"New and existing-home supply has struggled to improve so far this Fall, leading to few choices for buyers and no easement of the ongoing affordability concerns still prevalent in some markets."

There is good news though, as Yun went on to say:

"As long as solid job creation continues, a gradual easing of credit standards even with moderately higher mortgage rates should support steady demand and sales continuing to rise above a year ago."

Bottom Line


If you are debating putting your home on the market this year, now may be the time. Buyers are still out there looking for their dream home. Meet with a local Rebe Homes real estate professional who can help you determine your best plan.

Millennials: What FICO Score is Needed to Buy a Home?

Millennials: What FICO Score is Needed to Buy a Home? | Keeping Current Matters

In a recent article by the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, it was revealed that some Millennials are not looking to purchase a home simply because they don’t believe they can qualify for a mortgage.

The article quoted Jessica Lautz, the National Association of Realtors’ Managing Director of Survey Research, as saying that there is a significant population that does not think they will be approved for a mortgage and doesn’t even try. The article also quoted Fannie Mae CEO Tim Mayopoulos :

“I do think that there’s a sense out there in the marketplace among borrowers that credit may not be available, especially for people with lower credit scores.”

So what credit score is necessary?

A recent survey reported that two-thirds of the respondents believe they need a very good credit score to buy a home, with 45 percent thinking a “good credit score” is over 780.

In actuality, the FICO score on closed loans (as reported by Ellie Mae) is much lower and has been dropping over the last several months.

FICO Score Requirements | Keeping Current Matters

Bottom Line


Millennials who are considering a home purchase should get advice from a local real estate or mortgage professional now. They may be surprised how much the requirements for a mortgage have eased.

Equity Matters A LOT… Just Ask Freddie Mac

Equity Matters A Lot... Just Ask Freddie Mac | Keeping Current Matters

There are many reasons, both financial and non-financial, that homeownership remains an important part of the American Dream. One of the biggest reasons is the fact that it helps build family wealth. Recently, Freddie Mac wrote about the power of home equity. They explained:

“In the simplest terms, equity is the difference between how much your home is worth and how much you owe on your mortgage. You build equity by paying down your mortgage over time and through your home's appreciation. In a nutshell, your money is working for you and contributing toward your financial future.”

They went on to show an example where a person bought a home for $150,000 with a down payment of 10% ($15K), resulting in a loan amount of $135,000. The buyer secured a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage at 4.5% with a monthly mortgage payment of $684.03 (not including taxes and insurance).

The chart below demonstrates the home equity built after 7 years of making mortgage payments and assuming the historic national average of 3% per year home appreciation:

Home Equity Earned | Keeping Current Matters

And that number continues to build as you continue to own the home.

Merrill Lynch published a report earlier this year that showed the average equity homeowners have acquired by certain ages.

Average Home Equity | Keeping Current Matters

Bottom Line

Home equity is important to building wealth as a family. Referring to the first scenario above, Freddie Mac explained:

“Now, if you continued to rent, and made the same payment of $684.03 per month, you'd have zero equity and no means to build it. Building equity is a critical part of homeownership and can help you create financial stability.”


Put your housing cost to work for you and your family. Meet with a real estate professional today to explore your options.

How to Get the Most Money from the Sale of Your House

How to Get the Most Money from the Sale of Your House | Keeping Current Matters

Every homeowner wants to make sure they maximize the financial reward when selling their home. But, how do you guarantee that you receive maximum value for your house? Here are two keys to insuring you get the highest price possible.

1. Price it a LITTLE LOW

This may seem counterintuitive. However, let’s look at this concept for a moment. Many homeowners think that pricing their home a little OVER market value will leave them room for negotiation. In actuality, this just dramatically lessens the demand for your house. (see chart)

Impact of Price on Visibility | Keeping Current Matters
Instead of the seller trying to ‘win’ the negotiation with one buyer, they should price it so demand for the home is maximized. In that way, the seller will not be fighting with a buyer over the price but instead will have multiple buyers fighting with each other over the house.

In a recent article on realtor.com, they gave this advice:

“Aim to price your property at or just slightly below the going rate. Today’s buyers are highly informed, so if they sense they’re getting a deal, they’re likely to bid up a property that’s slightly underpriced, especially in areas with low inventory.”

2. Use a Real Estate Professional

This too may seem counterintuitive. The seller may think they would net more money if they didn’t have to pay a real estate commission. Yet, studies have shown that typically homes sell for more money when handled by a real estate professional.

Recent research posted by the Economists’ Outlook Blog revealed:

“The median selling price for all FSBO homes was $210,000 last year. When the buyer knew the seller in FSBO sales, the number sinks to the median selling price of $151,900. However, homes that were sold with the assistance of an agent had a median selling price of $249,000 – nearly $40,000 more for the typical home sale.”
Median Selling Price FSBO vs Agent | Keeping Current Matters
Bottom Line


Price it at or slightly below the current market value and hire a professional. That will guarantee you maximize the price you get for your house.

Selling Your Home? The Importance of Using a Real Estate Professional

Selling Your Home? The Importance of Using a Real Estate Professional | Keeping Current Matters

When a homeowner decides to sell their house, they obviously want the best possible price with the least amount of hassles. However, for the vast majority of sellers, the most important result is to actually get the home sold.

In order to accomplish all three goals, a seller should realize the importance of using a real estate professional. We realize that technology has changed the purchaser’s behavior during the home buying process. For the past three years, 92% of all buyers have used the internet in their home search according to the National Association of Realtors’ most recent Profile of Home Buyers & Sellers.

However, the report also revealed that 95% percent of buyers that used the internet when searching for a home purchased their home through either a real estate agent/broker or from a builder or builder’s agent. Only 2% purchased their home directly from a seller whom the buyer didn’t know.

Buyers search for a home online but then depend on an agent to find the actual home they will buy (53%) or negotiate the terms of the sale & price (48%) or understand the process (60%).

The plethora of information now available has resulted in an increase in the percentage of buyers that reach out to real estate professionals to “connect the dots”. This is obvious, as the percentage of overall buyers who used an agent to buy their home has steadily increased from 69% in 2001.

Bottom Line


If you are thinking of selling your home, don’t underestimate the role a real estate professional can play in the process.

Why You Should Sell Now… Before Winter Hits

Why You Should Sell Now... Before Winter Hits | Keeping Current Matters

People across the country are beginning to think about what their life will look like next year. It happens every Fall. We ponder whether we should relocate to a different part of the country to find better year-round weather or perhaps move across the state for better job opportunities.
Homeowners in this situation must consider whether they should sell their house now or wait. If you are one of these potential sellers, here are five important reasons to do it now versus the dead of winter.

1. Demand is Strong

Foot traffic refers to the number of people out actually physically looking at home right now. The latest foot traffic numbers show that buyers are still out in force looking for their dream home. These buyers are ready, willing and able to buy…and are in the market right now!

As we get later into the year, many people have other things (weather, holidays, etc.) that distract them from searching for a home. Take advantage of the buyer activity currently in the market.

2. There Is Less Competition Now

Housing supply is still well under the 6 months’ supply necessary for a normal market. This means that, in many markets, there are not enough homes for sale to satisfy the number of buyers in that market. This is good news for home prices. However, additional inventory is about to come to market.

There is a pent-up desire for many homeowners to move as they were unable to sell over the last few years because of a negative equity situation. Homeowners are now seeing a return to positive equity as real estate values have increased over the last two years. Many of these homes will be coming to the market in the near future.

Also, new construction of single-family homes is again beginning to increase. A study by Harris Poll revealed that 41% of buyers would prefer to buy a new home while only 21% prefer an existing home (38% had no preference).

The choices buyers have will continue to increase over the next few months. Don’t wait until all this other inventory of homes comes to market before you sell.

3. The Process Will Be Quicker

One of the biggest challenges of the housing market in recent times has been the length of time it takes from contract to closing. Banks are requiring more and more paperwork before approving a mortgage. Any delay in the process is always prolonged during the winter holiday season. Getting your house sold and closed before those delays begin will lend itself to a smoother transaction.

4. There Will Never Be a Better Time to Move-Up

If you are moving up to a larger, more expensive home, consider doing it now. Prices are projected to appreciate by over 18.1% from now to 2019. If you are moving to a higher priced home, it will wind-up costing you more in raw dollars (both in down payment and mortgage payment) if you wait. You can also lock-in your 30-year housing expense with an interest rate below 4% right now. Rates are projected to rise by this time next year.

5. It’s Time to Move On with Your Life

Look at the reason you decided to sell in the first place and determine whether it is worth waiting. Is money more important than being with family? Is money more important than your health? Is money more important than having the freedom to go on with your life the way you think you should?
Only you know the answers to the questions above. You have the power to take back control of the situation by putting your home on the market. Perhaps, the time has come for you and your family to move on and start living the life you desire.


That is what is truly important.

The Importance of Home Equity to a Family

The Importance of Home Equity to a Family | Keeping Current Matters

There has been much written about how dramatically home values have increased over the last several years. With the increase in values, comes an increase in the equity each home owning family now has. The Joint Center of Housing Studies at Harvard University recently reported that, after taking inflation into account, aggregate home equity has increased 60% since 2010. Home equity is the major component of most family’s overall wealth.

Why is this so important?

Throughout history, families have tapped into their homes for many important reasons. Perhaps it was to get seed capital to start a new business; perhaps to help finance their children’s college education; perhaps to get needed medical attention not covered by insurance.

Up to ten years ago, families were able to use the equity in their homes to better the living situation for themselves and their family. More small businesses were created. College students weren’t forced to take on massive student debt. People could get needed medical care.

This hasn’t been the case over the last ten years as families found themselves in a position of having zero equity or, even worse, negative equity post the housing collapse. However, that is about to change.

Using your home as an ATM is not a good idea.

We realize that there are inherent risks to tapping into the equity in your home especially if you do it for the wrong reasons. Back in 2005-2007, homeowners were using their homes as their own personal ATM machine to buy depreciating assets like cars, boats and jet skis. This reckless behavior should never be repeated.

However, using your equity (aka family wealth) to invest in yourself, your children or other family members that could use help still makes sense. And the good news is that more and more families can do this as home values continue to increase.

Bottom Line

Home equity gives families an additional financial option when money is needed. The proper use of this family wealth can be used to grow generational wealth.

As Julián Castro, U.S. Secretary of HUD, recently explained:


“Generation after generation, the primary vehicle to create wealth in our country has been through homeownership. In the U.S., homeownership has provided an opportunity for one generation to hand over to the next that opportunity and that wealth.”

Homeownership Builds Wealth and Offers Stability


Homeownership Builds Wealth and Offers Stability | Keeping Current Matters

The most recent Housing Pulse Survey released by the National Association of Realtors revealed that the two major reasons Americans prefer owning their own home instead of renting are:
  1. They want the opportunity to build equity.
  2. They want a stable and safe environment.
Building Equity

In a recent article, John Taylor, CEO of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, explained that those who lack the opportunity to become homeowners have a weakened ability to reinvest their wealth:

“We traditionally have been huge supporters of homeownership. We see it as a way to provide stability for households but also as an asset-building strategy. If you continue to be a renter, locked out of the homeownership arena, increasingly those things are further and further out of reach. They’re joined at the hip. They perpetuate each other.”

Family Stability

Does owning your home really create a more stable environment for your family?
survey of property managers conducted by rent.com last month disclosed two reasons tenants should feel less stable with their housing situation:
  • 68% of property managers predict that rental rates will continue to rise in the next year by an average of 8%.
  • 53% of property managers said that they were more likely to bring in a new tenant at a higher rate than negotiate and renew a lease with a current tenant they already know.
We can see from these survey results that renting will provide anything but a stable environment in the near future.

Bottom Line


Homeowners enjoy a more stable environment and at the same time are  given the opportunity to build their family’s net worth.

Where Are Mortgage Rates Headed? This Winter? Next Year?

Where Are Mortgage Rates Headed? This Winter? Next Year? | Keeping Current Matters

The interest rate you pay on your home mortgage has a direct impact on your monthly payment. The higher the rate the greater the payment will be. That is why it is important to look at where rates are headed when deciding to buy now or wait until next year.

Below is a chart created using Freddie Mac’s October 2015 U.S. Economic & Housing Marketing Outlook. As you can see interest rates are projected to increase steadily over the course of the next 12 months.

Mortgage Rate Projections | Keeping Current Matters

How Will This Impact Your Mortgage Payment?

Depending on the amount of the loan that you secure, a half of a percent (.5%) increase in interest rate can increase your monthly mortgage payment significantly.

According to CoreLogic’s latest Home Price Index, national home prices have appreciated 6.4% from this time last year and are predicted to be 4.7% higher next year.

If both the predictions of home price and interest rate increases become reality, families would wind up paying considerably more for their next home.

Bottom Line


Even a small increase in interest rate can impact your family’s wealth. Meet with a local Rebe Homes professional to evaluate your ability to purchase your dream home.

6 Reasons waiting until after the Holidays Isn’t a Smart Decision

Waiting until after the Holidays, Isn’t a Smart Decision | Keeping Current Matters

Every year at this time, many homeowners decide to wait until after the holidays to put their home on the market for the first time. Others who already have their home on the market decide to take it off the market until after the holidays. Here are six great reasons not to wait:

1. Relocation buyers are out there. Companies are not concerned with holiday time and if the buyers have kids, they want them to get into school after the holidays.

2. Purchasers that are looking for a home during the holidays are serious buyers and are ready to buy.

3. You can restrict the showings on your home to the times you want it shown. You will remain in control.

4. Homes show better when decorated for the holidays.

5. There is less competition for you as a seller right now. Let’s take a look at listing inventory as compared to the same time last year:

Supply of Homes | Keeping Current Matters

6. The supply of listings increases substantially after the holidays. Also, in many parts of the country, new construction will make a comeback in 2016. This will lessen the demand for your house.

Bottom Line


Waiting until after the holidays to sell your home probably doesn't make sense.

House Hasn’t Sold Yet? Take Another Look at the Price


House Hasn’t Sold Yet? Take Another Look at the Price | Keeping Current Matters

The residential housing market has been hot. Home sales have bounced back solidly and are now at their second highest pace since February 2007. Demand remains strong going into the winter. Many real estate professionals are reporting that multiple offers are occurring regularly and listings are actually selling above listing price. What about your house?

If your house hasn’t sold, it is probably the price.

If your home is on the market and you are not receiving any offers, look at your price. Pricing your home just 10% above market value dramatically cuts the number of prospective buyers that will even see your house. (See Chart)

Proper Pricing Pyramid | Keeping Current Matters

Bottom Line


The housing market is hot. If you are not seeing results you want, sit down with your agent and revisit the pricing conversation.

Baby Boomers Finding Freedom In Retirement

Baby Boomers Finding Freedom In Retirement | Keeping Current Matters

Within the next five years, Baby Boomers are projected to have the largest household growth of any other generation during that same time period, according to the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard. Let’s take a look at why…

In a recent Merrill Lynch study, “Home in Retirement: More Freedom, New Choices” they surveyed nearly 6,000 adults ages 21 and older about housing. 

Crossing the “Freedom Threshold”

Throughout our lives, there are often responsibilities that dictate where we live. Whether being in the best school district for our children, being close to our jobs, or some other factor is preventing a move, the study found that there is a substantial shift that takes place at age 61.

The study refers to this change as “Crossing the Freedom Threshold”. When where you live is no longer determined by responsibilities, but rather a freedom to live wherever you like. (see the chart below)

Crossing The Freedom Threshold | Keeping Current Matters

As one participant in the study stated:

“In retirement, you have the chance to live anywhere you want. Or you can just stay where you are. There hasn’t been another time in life when we’ve had that kind of freedom.”

On the Move

According to the study, “an estimated 4.2 million retirees moved into a new home last year alone.” Two-thirds of retirees say that they are likely to move at least once during retirement.
The top reason to relocate cited was “wanting to be closer to family” at 29%, a close second was “wanting to reduce home expenses”. See the chart below for the top 6 reasons broken down.

Merrill Lynch Moving In Retirement | Keeping Current Matters

Not Every Baby Boomer Downsizes

There is a common misconception that as retirees find themselves with fewer children at home, they will instantly desire a smaller home to maintain. While that may be the case for half of those surveyed, the study found that three in ten decide to actually upsize to a larger home.
Some choose to buy a home in a desirable destination with extra space for large family vacations, reunions, extended visits, or to allow other family members to move in with them.
"Retirees often find their homes become places for family to come together and reconnect, particularly during holidays or summer vacations."

Bottom Line


If your housing needs have changed or are about to change, meet with a local real estate professional in your area who can help with deciding your next step.

Why You Should Hire A Professional When Buying A Home!

Why You Should Hire A Professional When Buying A Home! | Keeping Current Matters

Many people wonder whether they should hire a real estate professional to assist them in buying their dream home or if they should first try to go it on their own. In today’s market: you need an experienced professional!

You Need an Expert Guide if you are Traveling a Dangerous Path

The field of real estate is loaded with land mines. You need a true expert to guide you through the dangerous pitfalls that currently exist. Finding a home that is priced appropriately and ready for you to move in to can be tricky. An agent listens to your wants and needs, and can sift out the homes that do not fit within the parameters of your “dream home”.

A great agent will also have relationships with mortgage professionals and other experts that you will need in securing your dream home.

You Need a Skilled Negotiator

In today’s market, hiring a talented negotiator could save you thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of dollars. Each step of the way – from the original offer, to the possible renegotiation of that offer after a home inspection, to the possible cancellation of the deal based on a troubled appraisal – you need someone who can keep the deal together until it closes.

Realize that when an agent is negotiating their commission with you, they are negotiating their own salary; the salary that keeps a roof over their family’s head; the salary that puts food on their family’s table. If they are quick to take less when negotiating for themselves and their families, what makes you think they will not act the same way when negotiating for you and your family?

If they were Clark Kent when negotiating with you, they will not turn into Superman when negotiating with the buyer or seller in your deal.

Bottom Line


Famous sayings become famous because they are true. You get what you pay for. Just like a good accountant or a good attorney, a good agent will save you money…not cost you money.

2016: Homeowner’s Net Worth Will Be 45x Greater Than a Renter

2016: Homeowner’s Net Worth Will Be 45x Greater Than a Renter | Keeping Current Matters

Every three years the Federal Reserve conducts a Survey of Consumer Finances in which they collect data across all economic and social groups. The latest survey, which includes data from 2010-2013, reports that a homeowner’s net worth is 36 times greater than that of a renter ($194,500 vs. $5,400).

In a recent Forbes article the National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) Chief EconomistLawrence Yun predicts that in 2016 the net worth gap will widen even further to 45 times greater.

The graph below demonstrates the results of the last two Federal Reserve studies and Yun’s prediction:

Increasing Gap in Family Wealth | Keeping Current Matters

Put Your Housing Cost to Work For You

Simply put, homeownership is a form of ‘forced savings’. Every time you pay your mortgage you are contributing to your net worth. Every time you pay your rent, you are contributing to your landlord’s net worth.

The latest National Housing Pulse Survey from NAR reveals that 80% of consumers believe that purchasing a home is a good financial decision. Yun comments:

“Though there will always be discussion about whether to buy or rent, or whether the stock market offers a bigger return than real estate, the reality is that homeowners steadily build wealth. The simplest math shouldn’t be overlooked.”

Bottom Line


If you are interested in finding out if you could put your housing cost to work for you through homeownership, meet with a real estate professional in your area who can guide you through the process.

Buying a Home Remains 35% Less Expensive than Renting!

Buying a Home Remains 35% Less Expensive than Renting! | Keeping Current Matters

In the latest Rent vs. Buy Report from Trulia, they explained that homeownership remains cheaper than renting with a traditional 30-year fixed rate mortgage throughout the 100 largest metro areas in the United States.

The updated numbers actually show that the range is from an average of 16% in Honolulu (HI), all the way to 55% in Sarasota (FL), and 35% Nationwide!

The other interesting findings in the report include:
  • Interest rates have remained low and even though home prices have appreciated around the country, they haven’t greatly outpaced rental appreciation. “In the past year, these two trends have made homeownership even more affordable compared with renting.”
  • Some markets might tip in favor of renting if home prices increase at a greater rate than rents and if – as most economists expect – mortgage rates rise, due to the strengthening economy.
  • Nationally, rates would have to rise to 10.6% for renting to be cheaper than buying – and rates haven’t been that high since 1989.  
Bottom Line


Buying a home makes sense socially and financially. Rents are predicted to increase substantially in the next year, lock in your housing cost with a mortgage payment now.

October Monday Funday Winner!


It’s time to announce the winner of this Month’s Fun Day Monday. Watch the video below to see who this month's lucky winner is.


This Month’s Quiz Question:
What are the original three colors of candy corn, a popular Halloween candy?

A. Red, white & blue
B. Orange, yellow & white C. Green, red & blue        
D. Pink, orange & white
The correct answer this month is B) Orange, Yellow & White.

Interesting Fact: The original three colors of candy corn: orange, yellow, and white, mimic a corn kernel. Although 75% of the annual candy corn production is for Halloween, you can find it year round in varying holiday colors. ...and, it's fat free! 

Congratulations to this month's winner who is receiving a $25 gift card to Amazon!!

Keep playing and best of luck next month.