Why Millennials Are Having Trouble Buying Homes

Why Millennials Are Having Trouble Buying Homes

This topic is near and dear to my heart of two reason – the cost of real estate on the San Francisco Peninsula – and the fact I’m experiencing the same frustrations!

There are many reasons why the millennial generation – young adults in their 20s and early 30s – are either having trouble buying a home or have decided to delay their purchase. Recent troubles in home purchasing have left many millennials feeling discouraged and wondering if they will ever become homeowners. Many experts are also worried about the lack of homes being purchased by millennials, because the housing market is fairly dependent on young first-time homebuyers.

The census bureau has reported that only about 36 percent of Americans below the age of 35 have become homeowners. Despite the fact that this number is so low, at least 90 percent of millennials would rather buy a house than continue to rent. If the percentage of millennials that would prefer to own their own home is so high, then why is the percentage of actual homeowners so low?

Why millennials are not buying

One major factor is the trickle down of expensive college educations. As the price of college continues to rise, more students are forced to take on the load of student debt. Millennials rack up student loans throughout their college career, not realizing that it will one day affect their ability to purchase a home. This is especially sad because the mortgage on an average priced home is cheaper than renting an apartment in most cases.

While student loans provide recent graduates with the advantage of establishing their credit history, they can hurt them when it comes time to apply for a home loan. Lenders consider an applicant’s debt to income ratio as part of the loan application. A hefty student loan can greatly hurt what the bank views as an ability to make payments on a mortgage.

This is particularly true for someone that has private student loans, because private loans tend to have higher interest rates and shorter payment terms, meaning that their monthly payment is much higher than that of someone who only has government student loans. Another problem that people run into is multiple student loan payments. If you are making five $70 dollar payments to separate lenders as opposed to one $150 dollar payment to one lender, you weaken your ability to prove that you can afford to take on a mortgage payment.

If that is not enough to worry about, there is still the fact that you have to save for a down payment. Many millennials barely have a savings account, much less a 20 percent down payment. Those who do decide to buy will rely on their parents and other family members to help with the expense of their down payment.

Another reason why millennials are having trouble buying homes deals with the job market. The country is finally making its way out of one of the biggest recessions we have seen in a long time, and finding a job can still be difficult for some people, especially for those who are new to the job market and lack experience. While a college degree can help get one in the door, it still does not warrant the pay level that many millennials need in order to cover their student loans and a mortgage.

It might take a little time, but, hopefully, we will start to see more millennials buying homes sometime in the near future. If you have trouble buying a home and would like credit counseling and loan information, contact The Caton Team

I read this article at: http://activerain.trulia.com/blogsview/4486707/why-millennials-are-having-trouble-buying-homes

My two cents – I’ve been able to work with several millennial buys who have either saved their pennies or were given investment assistance. It can be very discouraging on the San Francisco Peninsula to be a 1st time buyer – but options are out there – If you think outside the box and open your mind. Curious how you can become a homeowner – contact The Caton Team and we can come up with a plan to turn your dreams into Realty!

Remember to follow our Blog at: https://therealestatebeat.wordpress.com/

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.  

Email Sabrina & Susan at: Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Call us at: 650-568-5522 Office: 650-365-9200

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Thanks for reading – Sabrina

The Caton Team – Susan & Sabrina – A Family of Realtors

Sabrina BRE# 01413526 / Susan BRE #01238225 / Team BRE#70000218/ Office BRE# 0149900

 

10 Things Today’s Buyers Look for in a Home

I love sharing interesting articles I’ve read along the way.  As a full time Realtor, and almost a Millennial – I enjoyed learning what my clients are looking for and why.  Enjoy!

10 Things Today’s Buyers Look for in a Home

While David Letterman’s Top 10 lists generally culminate in a No. 1 ranking, the following list includes in no particular order 10 things that are important to buyers today, especially Millennials who represent a significant buyer niche in today’s market.

Quality of the neighborhood – The National Association of Realtor’s 2012 Profile of Buyers and Sellers revealed that neighborhoods are really important to buyers, but that neighborhood choice varies by household composition.

Convenience to job – Commuting is a necessary evil, but homes that are close to work enhance work-life balance, a growing priority for many Americans, especially Millennials.

Overall affordability of homes – With job markets tight and retirement funds depleted or eroded thanks to the Great Recession, it has never been more important to keep housing related costs as low as possible, ideally no more than one third of your pre-tax income.

Quality of schools – A recent survey by realtor.com revealed that nearly 45 percent of today’s buyers are willing to pay a premium for quality schools

Homes suited for the next 15 years – Just five years ago, buyers were looking to stay in their home about 10 years. Today, buyers expect to stay closer to 15, so it’s important to find a home that can support lifestyles as they evolve through that time period.

A mortgage – In today’s tight credit environment, getting a mortgage can be a challenge. Buyers should be willing to consider homes below what they may quality for in order to bump up the loan to value ratio.

Energy efficiency – The National Association of Homebuilders surveyed buyers to see what was most important to them in new home construction and energy efficiency topped the list. Four of the top most wanted features involve saving energy: 94 percent of home buyers want energy-star rated appliances, 91 percent want an energy-star rating for the whole home, 89 percent want energy-star rated windows, and 88 percent want ceiling fans.

Open floor plans – Spaces that are great for entertaining mean quality time with friends and family, something especially important to Gen Y.

High ceilings – Taller ceilings are not only aesthetically pleasing in that they impart a grandness to the home, they also promote greater air circulation and more natural light than lower ceilings.

Technology – Can you run your home from a cell phone? Then market to a Millennial, who prizes a homes’ technological amenities prized over curb appeal.

This post was originally published on the ERA Real Estate blog, Owning the Fence

I read this article at: http://rismedia.com/2013-10-15/10-things-todays-buyers-look-for-in-a-home/2/

Remember to follow our Blog at: https://therealestatebeat.wordpress.com/

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.  

Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Call us at: 650-568-5522  Office:  650-365-9200

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Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

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Thanks for reading – Sabrina

The Caton Team – Susan & Sabrina – A Family of Realtors

Sabrina BRE# 01413526 / Susan BRE #01238225 / Team BRE#70000218/ 01499008

Feng Shui and Real Estate

I have to say – Real Estate introduced me to the art of Feng Shui 10 years ago.  I was walking through a home that didn’t feel right.  My client mentioned it had bad Feng Shui as she looked out the window to the intersection that was heading straight at them home.  Before she even finished her sentence she was out the door.  I looked Feng Shui right away and have been reading about it ever since.

When we were remodeling our home, I took out my trusted Bagua to choose colors.  When I look at homes I consider the front door, the homes position etc.  I have truly enjoyed learning about Feng Shui.  Enjoy this article I read through the California Association of Realtors.

8 Staging Tips Using Feng ShuiThe ancient Chinese art of feng shui (pronounced “fung shway”) is over 3,000 years old, and has been known to help many REALTORS® sell homes when applied to their listings. This method of arranging inner and outer environments so they consistently support the possibility of all the good things in life encourages health, wealth, great relationships, career, and wisdom – just to name a few. Karen Rauch Carter, author of the bestselling book Move Your Stuff, Change Your Life, works with many REALTORS® who swear by her techniques. Here are a few easy fixes to help prepare your listings for sale the feng shui way.1. Create a happy front door. According to feng shui principles, the easier it is for people to bring opportunities to your front door, the more you’ll have.  Make the walk from the car to the front door a delightful experience. That means no thorny plants nearby, no sidewalk trippers, and no cobwebs to walk through.  Next, add details that draw people to the front door, such as a welcome mat and flowers.  You might even consider painting the front door a shade of red to attract positive energy, especially if it’s positioned in shadow or under an overhang or porch.  Make sure the doorbell and outdoor lights are in good, working order. Clean the door and stoop thoroughly — shine the metal on the knocker, wash any windows — make it the prettiest front door on the block!

2. Fix the leaks. This is, of course, basic common sense, but in feng shui leaking water is equivalent to leaking money. When a leak is fixed, the money stays, and you may just end up selling the home at a higher price.

3. For every room, a true function. When buyers see a treadmill in the bedroom, a computer on the kitchen counter, or a bike in the hallway, it may appear that the house doesn’t seem to have enough room for all the necessary functions. When staging a home, make sure every object in the room matches the room’s function.

4. Manage outdoor plants. Plants, especially dead ones, can block positive energy when physically touching the outside of the house.  When the limbs of a tree are in direct contact, they may even transfer negative energy into the home. Remove worry and excess debris, and the house may sell faster.

5. Place furniture in a commanding position. This means different things for different rooms, but the feng shui basic premise is that furniture should be arranged so the back and head are protected. Don’t have your back to a door or window when you’re on a couch, chair, or bed, and avoid directly facing a wall, especially when sitting at your desk.

6. Keep the energy flowing.  Doors and windows are the entry points for energy to enter or escape, so make sure all are in good working order to encourage positive energy flow.  All doors (including closets) should open freely with nothing blocking their way.  Windows should be easy to open – make sure none are painted or nailed shut. If they’re stuck, you might get stuck with a listing that’s hard to sell.  If possible, open curtains and blinds before a showing to invite energy into the home.

7. Let the buyer find the view. When a home is designed to give you that big WOW view upon entering the front door, consider creating a bold, dramatic design statement to compete for that attention somewhere inside the home. This may seem counter-intuitive, but if buyers are immediately drawn outside, that means nothing inside is holding their attention. The more you can keep attention INSIDE the house before the eyes slip outside, the better energy and “greater likeability” you are creating.

8. Employ the power of red. Homes lacking a fire element may be more difficult to sell. This problem can be addressed with a quick fix of adding red or hot orange colors where appropriate.  Place a vase of red flowers on the counter, or toss a few red throw pillows on the couch or bed if the décor allows. A bowl of red apples is another easy solution. Pointy, triangular shapes are also considered fire elements in feng shui, so consider filling a vase with flowers like birds of paradise. Animal prints can also provide a fire element, as can actual fire, such as candles. Try adding a few splashes of red here and there, and see what it can do for your next listing.

Remember to follow our Blog at: https://therealestatebeat.wordpress.com/

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.

Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Call us at: 650-568-5522

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Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

The Caton Team – Susan & Sabrina – A Family of Realtors

Sabrina BRE# 01413526 / Susan BRE #01238225 / Team BRE#70000218/ 01499008

Keep Your Home Purchase on Track

Keep Your Home Purchase on Track

I love finding great articles to share – I’ve added my 2 cents in itatlics – enjoy – Sabrina

You’ve found your dream home. Make sure missteps don’t prevent a successful closing.

1. Be truthful on your mortgage application

You may think fudging your income a little or omitting debts when applying for a mortgage will go unnoticed. Not true. Lenders have become more diligent in verifying information on mortgage applications. If you fib, expect to be found out and denied the loan you need to fund your home purchase. Plus, intentionally lying on a mortgage application is a crime.

You might get away with your fib when you apply for your loan, but once you find a home and have an accepted offer.  Your lenders underwriter will comb through every bit of your financial life.  One fib will open a huge can of worms and you could find yourself in hot water.  Because not only have you harmed your chances at getting a loan – you’ve held up a seller who is working in good faith with you and has pulled their home off market waiting for you to remove your contingencies and close escrow.  DON’T LIE!

2. Hold off on big purchases

Lenders double-check buyers’ credit right before the closing to be sure their financial condition hasn’t weakened. If you’ve opened new credit cards, significantly increased the balance on existing cards, taken out new loans, or depleted your savings, your credit score may have dropped enough to make your lender change its mind on funding your home loan. 

Although it’s tempting to purchase new furniture and other items for your new home, or even a new car, wait until after the closing.

The only thing you should be doing is saving your pennies until you close escrow on your new home.  People of lost their dream home because they spent money before closing.  Not my clients though – I remind them constantly about the big picture!

3. Keep your job

The lender may refuse to fund your loan if you quit or change jobs before you close the purchase. The time to take either step is after a home closing, not before.

Amen – well said!

4. Meet contingencies

If your contract requires you to do something before the sale, do it. If you’re required to secure financing, promptly provide all the information the lender requires. If you must deposit additional funds into escrow, don’t stall. If you have 10 days to get a home inspection, call the inspector immediately.

There is a clause IN the Real Estate Purchase Contract (in California) that states – Time is of The Essence!  We are not kidding.  Time is contractual – do what you said you would do.  Your mother will be proud! 

5. Consider deadlines immovable

Get your funds together a week or so before the closing, so you don’t have to ask for a delay. If you’ll need to bring a certified check to closing, get it from the bank the day before, not the day of, your closing. Treat deadlines as sacrosanct.

We take each deadline deadly serious.  Could there be delays?  Yes of course, so much of the real estate purchase process is beyond your Realtors control – so make sure you’re doing what you should be doing when you should be doing it – it will streamline an already difficult transaction. 

By: G. M. Filisko

Got questions – I am here to help – call or click – info@theCatonteam.com

I read this article at: http://members.houselogic.com/articles/keep-your-home-purchase-track/preview/

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.

Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Call us at: 650-568-5522

Visit our Website at:   http://thecatonteam.com/

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Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

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Thanks for reading – Sabrina

A Cinderella Story – Michael and Two Condos

A Cinderella Story – Michael and Two Condos

With 25+ years of combined Real Estate experience, The Caton Team is blessed with working with our clients one home after the other.

When Michael bought his first condo with Susan years ago – it was only natural for him to call her again now that he was ready to buy his next home.  By now Susan & I had teamed up and I had the joy of working with Michael as well.

Such a professional and patient gentlemen, we started our journey early in 2013.  Faced with limited inventory and competition we took our time to find choice properties and enjoyed finding the right condo complexes that would fit his lifestyle.

Finally on a sunny Tuesday we found a great 2-bedroom 2-bath condo in San Mateo.  It was a short sale but we were up for the task.  Offer in, up against three other offers – we were so happy to let him know his offer was accepted.

Then the wait begins.  For a short sale, the seller has a long to-do list.  Great clients do what they need to do to get a short sale approved.  Other types of people brush their responsibility off.   We knew short sales take time to get approved.  We knew short sales are a LOT of work. Each week we checked in with the seller’s agent and received short and useless updates.  We grew suspicious and Susan hit the Internet to do some investigating.  Much to our surprise, the unit was set for foreclosure auction the following day!  Quickly The Caton Team reached out to the seller’s agent to implore the urgency of a true update.  Sadly, not all Realtors are created equal and this particular agent brushed us off again.  We did all we could do as the buyer’s Realtor and the following day, with baited breath, we watched the auction site to see if it would be postponed.  Right before our eyes the unit was sold at auction.  When we called the sellers agent to get a handle on this situation – she kindly hung up the phone.

Without missing a beat Susan called Michael and we hit the ground running looking for a new home.  It didn’t take long, another unit, very similar to the one we just lost, was for sale – but they were taking offers the following day!

Michael is a trooper; he met Susan at the home the next morning, saw it, wrote the offer and submitted by the deadline.  By that evening we had the joy of telling him is offer was accepted!  Within less than 24 hours we went from bad news to fantastic news.

It ain’t over till it’s over though – that is a fact.  As the escrow proceeded we had a hiccup – the unit did not appraise for our offer price….which was less than the last sale of an identical unit.   When interest rates went up – the market had turned from a sellers market early in the year to a different market in a matter of weeks.  The appraiser was cautious – and we can’t blame him for being prudent.  No one wants another bust!  Thankfully both the listing agent and the sellers understood the situation and we were able to re-negotiate a win/win deal that evening.

The best feeling in the world is handing over the keys.  Though it was a long and bumpy ride, The Caton Team was able to get our client a better home and in the end Michael is happy – and that makes everything worthwhile.

How can The Caton Team help you?

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.

Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Call The Caton Team at 650-568-5522

Visit our Website at:   http://thecatonteam.com/

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Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

Will The Mortgage Rate Spike Slow Market Recovery?

I love finding articles with timely information – had to share this fabulous article by Jed Kolko, Chief Economist on Trulia…

Enjoy and I would love to hear your insight and comments as well!

Will The Mortgage Rate Spike Slow Market Recovery?

Ever since mortgage rates started their steep climb in early May, we’ve all been on high alert, watching how higher rates will affect the housing market. For a would-be buyer calculating the mortgage payment on their dream home, the effects are obvious: the increase in the 30-year fixed rate from 3.59% in early May to 4.73% at the end of August (according to the Mortgage Bankers’ Association, or MBA) means a 15% increase in the monthly payment on a $200,000 mortgage. That should deter homebuyers and reduce mortgage applications, sales, and prices, right? In theory, yes, but of course the real world is much more complicated. Mortgage rates aren’t rising all on their own: other housing and economic shifts are happening at the same time.

Fortunately, the recent past is a useful guide. The 30-year fixed rate jumped .47 points in May 2013 and .51 points in June 2013, comparing the levels at months’ end (MBA). (Side point: the 30-year fixed reached 4.80 this morning, September 11, .22 points higher than at the end of June, which means July, August, and early September have seen much milder increases compared with the May & June spike.) But this year isn’t the only time when mortgage rates have jumped up: they also climbed at least .4 points in seven other months since 1999. With some simple time-series regressions, we traced out the typical paths of mortgage applications, sales, and prices in the months immediately after a mortgage rate spike.

The Month-by-Month Impact of a Rate Spike
Our analysis of mortgage rates and other housing data from January 1999 through April 2013 – just before the current spike – shows that mortgage rates hit refinancing applications (MBA) earlier and harder than any other measure of housing market activity. (Not all of the data series are available back to 1999.) Here’s the timeline of what typically happens when rates spike by half a point in a month:

  • The month when rates spike: Refinancing applications typically fall by 45% in the month of a spike, with further falls one and two months after mortgage rates jump, compounding the effect. The drop in refinancing applications this year was roughly 50% cumulatively over two months, which actually looks small compared with similar rate jumps in the recent past.
  • 1-2 months after the spike: Pending home sales and home-purchase mortgage applications typically decline slightly, though the effect isn’t statistically significant. New home sales also decline modestly.
  • 3 months after a spike: New home sales and existing home sales drop. That means that the May mortgage rate spike should show up most strongly in August new home sales and existing home sales, both of which will be reported later this month (on September 25 and September 19, respectively).

Compared with the impact on refinancing, the impact of a rate spike on home-purchase mortgage applications and sales volumes is very small and not always statistically significant.

Refinance mortgage applications (MBA) Same month as rate spike (plus additional impact 1-2 months after)

-45%

Yes May data (already reported)
Pending home sales (NAR) 1 month after

-1.1%

No June data (already reported)
Home-purchase mortgage applications (MBA) 2 months after

-2.6%

No July data (already reported)
New home sales (Census) 3 months after (plus modest impact 1-2 months after)

-2.4%

Yes August data, to be reported Sept 25
Existing home sales (NAR) 3 months after

-1.7%

Yes August data, to be reported Sept 19
Sales prices (Case-Shiller, FHFA) No short-term impact

N/A

N/A N/A
Note: The “effect in month of biggest impact” equals the month-over-month change in the indicator for a 0.5 point rate spike, relative to when the mortgage rate doesn’t change, in percentage points.

The Longer-Term Impact of Sustained Rate Increases
Even if the immediate impact of mortgage rate spikes is small – aside from the huge effect on refinancing – shouldn’t sustained rate increases should depress housing activity? Again, recent history tells a more complicated story. Since 1999, mortgage purchase applications and all measures of sales activity – NAR pending home sales, NAR existing home sales, and Census new home sales – have actually been higher when mortgage rates were higher. Sales prices were also the same level or higher (depending on the sales price index) when mortgage rates were higher compared to periods of lower rates. Of all the measures of housing activity, only refinancing applications were lower during periods of higher mortgage rates.

Here’s the missing piece of the puzzle: over the past decade and a half, mortgage rates have been higher when the economy was doing better. Since 1999, the correlation between the monthly unemployment rate – a good, if imperfect, measure of how the economy is doing overall – and the 30-year fixed rate was -0.8, making it a very strong relationship.

Furthermore, every measure of housing activity (except refinancing activity) improved when the overall economy did better. That means that a stronger economy is associated with BOTH higher mortgage rates AND more sales, higher home prices, and more home-purchase mortgage applications. That’s why these measures of housing activity go up when mortgage rates are higher.

If we statistically remove the effect of changes in the overall economy (by including the unemployment rate as a control in a simple statistical regression), then we see exactly what we’d expect: mortgage applications, sales, and home prices are all lower when mortgage rates are higher. In other words: all else equal, higher mortgage rates do depress housing demand.

As Rates Rise, All Else Won’t Be Equal
When it comes to mortgage rates, all else is never equal. Three other factors will complicate or even offset the impact of the recent rise in mortgage rates, even if rates continue to climb: the strengthening economy, expanding inventory, and looser mortgage credit:

  • A post-recession economic recovery tends to push interest rates higher as demand for credit increases and if investors start to worry more about inflation. Furthermore, the Fed has said it will taper its bond-buying only if the economy seems strong enough to weather it. Both through market forces and the actions of the Fed, rising rates should be accompanied by a strengthening economy.
  • Inventory has been expanding for the past six months on a seasonally adjusted basis. More for-sale inventory on the market slows price gains: in fact, the Trulia Price Monitor and other price indexes have been slowing down before the May rate spike could have affected prices, pointing to expanding inventory as a likelier explanation for the price slowdown. While rising rates and expanding inventory should both slow down prices, these same two factors should pull sales in opposite directions. All else equal, rising rates should slow sales, but expanding inventory should boost sales – since more homes can be sold if there are more homes for sale. Therefore, even though this month’s sales data should be slowed by sales, it could be lifted by rising inventory.
  • Mortgage credit, though still tight, shows signs of loosening for two reasons. First, as they face diminishing demand for refinancing, banks might look to expand their home-purchase lending instead. Furthermore, new mortgage rules coming into effect next year will give banks more clarity about which loans are considered risky, hopefully making banks more willing to write mortgages deemed to be safer. The negative impact of rising rates, therefore, could be partially offset by looser mortgage credit.

All told, the housing market and the economy have a lot of moving parts. Aside from the sharp and immediate effect that rising mortgage rates have on refinancing, the impact of rising rates on the housing recovery is hard to pinpoint. This month’s sales reports, covering new and existing home sales from August, should show some decline from the May rate spike, but mortgage rates are just one of many factors affecting the housing recovery.

I read this article at:  http://pro.truliablog.com/news/will-the-mortgage-rate-spike-slow-market-recovery/?ecampaign=tnews&eurl=pro.truliablog.com%2Fnews%2Fwill-the-mortgage-rate-spike-slow-market-recovery%2F

Remember to follow our Blog at: https://therealestatebeat.wordpress.com/

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.

Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Call us at: 650-568-5522

Want Real Estate Info on the Go?  Download our FREE Real Estate App:  http://thecatonteam.com/mobileapp

Visit our Website at:   http://thecatonteam.com/

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6 Wills, Won’ts and Worries of 2013 Home Buyers…. great article – had to share…

When I read this – I just had to share….

 

6 Wills, Won’ts and Worries of 2013 Home Buyers

 

Trulia Article By Tara-Nicholle Nelson

If you’ve ever taken up running, you might know what it’s like to strap on your new shoes, head over to the track and take those first few strides, then feel a pain in your chest, heaviness in your feet and possibly, actually see stars. Maybe your last steps off the track were accompanied by the thought process: “Either I’m crazy, or runners are.”

Until you have talked to a legitimate, dyed in the wool runner and told them your story, explaining why you detest running with every iota of your being you won’t know the runner’s secret: everyone feels that way at first. It’s the normal physiological adjustment to the increased load you’re putting on your cardiovascular and musculoskeletal systems, this pain you felt when you took those first few steps.  It goes away in just a moment, if and only if you keep on running.

Sometimes, knowing that others react to a tough situation by feeling the same emotions, thinking the same thoughts, or doing the same things you do flat out helps you feel less crazy, panicked and out of control of your situation. It’s the concept behind support groups but, last I checked, there really isn’t such a thing as group therapy for home buyers. (Well, some would say that’s what Trulia Voices is for, but I digress.)

Today’s rapidly rising prices and generally volatile market does make things tough for buyers, so we thought we’d systematically explore – and then share – what’s going on inside the minds of the buyers on today’s market.  Hopefully, sellers will find some insights for marketing their properties, too.

Fresh off the presses, here are some of the insights and takeaways from our latest American Dream Survey, pinpointing the things today’s buyers worry about, will and won’t do in their quest to get their own corner of the American Dream: a home.

Worry:  Mortgage rates and prices will rise before I buy.  Trulia’s Economist Jed Kolko reports that “the top worry among all survey respondents who might buy a home someday is that mortgage rates will rise further before they buy (41%), followed by rising prices (37%).”  The worry is valid, given the fact that the market was depressed for so long and has a long recovery road ahead of it.  It’s compounded by the fact that buying a home has gone from something that used to take a month or two and now routinely takes 6 months, 9 months, a year or even longer!

Here’s the deal: you can’t stop prices from rising. And fixating on this particular fear poses the potential pitfall of  rushing to buy or making compromises that will turn out badly in the end.  Don’t dilly dally, if you’re ready and in the market, and don’t mess around making lowball offers with no chance of success.  But otherwise, don’t let this fear drive your buying and timing decisions.

Will:  Be aggressive. B. E. Aggressive. Economist Kolko explained, “among survey respondents who plan to buy a home someday, 2 in 3 (66%)  would use aggressive tactics such as bidding above asking, writing personal letters to the seller, or removing contingencies, to name a few.”  What buyers do and don’t do in the name of aggressively pursuing their dream homes (and, consequently, what sellers expect) is slightly different in every town.

Knowing that other buyers are facing down the same challenges you are and coming up with similar, aggressive solutions can help you feel a little less crazy about your thought processes and emotions and the desperate measures that come to mind when you hear how many others think “your” home is their dream home. And that puts you back in control of what can sometimes feel like an out-of-control situation. Reality check: you are 100% in the driver’s seat when it comes to how aggressive you want to be in your pursuit of any given home, and which specific tactics you leverage in the course of that pursuit.

Worry:  I won’t find a home I like.  Forty-three percent of people who plan to buy a home in the next 12 months expressed the concern that they might not be able to even find a property they like. Perhaps these people were just seriously persnickety, but I suspect there’s a bigger issue at play here.  All of us can find a home we like, but whether there’s anything we like enough to buy in our price range is a completely separate issue.

This worry, then, seems to be closely related to the fear of rising prices – buyers are rightfully fearful that home value increases will put their personal dream homes out of their price range. This is why it’s super important to:

  • be aggressive about seeing suitable properties as soon as they come onto the market
  • work with an agent whose offer pricing advice you trust
  • adjust your house hunt downward in price range if the market dynamics include lots of over-asking sales prices, and
  • not to let months and months go by while you make lowball offers or otherwise be slow to  come to the reality of what homes are actually selling for in your area.

The sooner you put yourself seriously in the game and make reality-based offers, the more likely you’ll be able to score a home you like in your price range.

Worry:  I will have to compete with other buyers for the home I like. Twenty-seven percent of those who plan to buy at some point in the future and 32% of those who plan to buy in the next year said they feared the prospect of facing a bidding war. This worry is well-grounded. In California, the average property receives four offers – but stories of dozens of offers abound. And it’s not just a West Coast phenomenon: buyers from coast to coast trade tales of getting outbid and having to throw in their firstborn child, lastborn puppy and most precious earthly possessions just to get into contract.

Truth is, market dynamics vary from town to town, and even neighborhood to neighborhood, but if you’re buying on today’s market or planning to buy anytime soon, bidding wars, multiple offers and over-asking sales prices are a reality you will probably have to factor into your house hunt.

Won’t:  Bid way more than asking.  Only 9 percent of wanna-be buyers said they would bid between 6 and 10 percent over the asking price for a property. This finding surfaces the uber-importance of checking in with an experienced local agent to get a briefing on precisely how much over asking homes are selling for in your area.  This empowers you to tweak your online house hunting price range low enough that you can make an over-asking offer and be successful without breaking the bank.  And once you’ve gotten a reality-based estimate of the over-asking norm, it will loom less ominously in your mind’s eye as a potential American Dream-killer.

Worry:  I won’t qualify for a mortgage.  Thirty percent of all people who identified themselves as planning to buy a home in the future said they were worried they might not be able to qualify for a home loan. (Interestingly, only 25 percent of buyers in hot markets like Oakland and Las Vegas expressed this concern – rapidly rising prices and knowing lots of other buyers are closing transactions in your town seems to ease this fear.)

Of all the worries on the list, this is the one over which a smart buyer has the most power. So exercise it! Work with a mortgage broker who was referred by friends, family members or an agent you trust.  And ideally, work with them months – even a year or more – before you plan to buy.  They can help you put an action plan in place around boosting your savings and credit score, and minimize your debt and credit dings, that you can work to minimize mortgage qualifying dramas when the time is right. They can also help give you a stronger sense of what you can afford vis-a-vis your income, to help you anticipate any challenges related to what sort of home your dollar will buy in your market.

ALL: What worries do you have about today’s market? Which steps are you willing to take in your quest to achieve the American Dream?

I read this article at:  http://www.trulia.com/blog/taranelson/2013/07/6_wills_won_ts_and_worries_of_2013_home_buyers?ecampaign=cnews20+and1308A&eurl=www.trulia.com%2Fblog%2Ftaranelson%2F2013%2F07%2F6_wills_won_ts_and_worries_of_2013_home_buyers

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Thanks for reading – Sabrina