Mortgage rates are much higher today than they were at the beginning of the year, and that’s had a clear impact on the housing market. As a result, the market is seeing a shift back toward the range of pre-pandemic levels for buyer demand and home sales.

But the transition back toward pre-pandemic levels isn’t a bad thing. In fact, the years leading up to the pandemic were some of the best the housing market has seen. That’s why, as the market undergoes this shift, it’s important to compare today not to the abnormal pandemic years, but to the most recent normal years to show how the current housing market is still strong.

Higher Mortgage Rates Are Moderating the Housing Market 

The ShowingTime Showing Index tracks the traffic of home showings according to agents and brokers. It’s also a good indication of buyer demand over time. Here’s a look at their data going back to 2017 (see graph below):

A Window of Opportunity for Homebuyers | Keeping Current Matters

Here’s a breakdown of the story this data tells:

  • The 2017 through early 2020 numbers (shown in gray) give a good baseline of pre-pandemic demand. The steady up and down trends seen in each of these years show typical seasonality in the market.
  • The blue on the graph represents the pandemic years. The height of those blue bars indicates home showings skyrocketed during the pandemic.
  • The most recent data (shown in green), indicates buyer demand is moderating back toward more pre-pandemic levels.

This shows that buyer demand is coming down from levels seen over the past two years, and the frenzy in real estate is easing because of higher mortgage rates. For you, that means buying your next home should be less challenging than it would’ve been during the pandemic because there is more inventory available.

Higher Mortgage Rates Slow the Once Frenzied Pace of Home Sales

As mortgage rates started to rise this year, other shifts began to occur too. One additional example is the slowing pace of home sales. Using data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), here’s a look at existing home sales going all the way back to 2017. Much like the previous graph, a similar trend emerges (see graph below):

A Window of Opportunity for Homebuyers | Keeping Current Matters

Again, the data paints a picture of the shift:

  • The pre-pandemic years (shown in gray) establish a baseline of the number of existing home sales in more typical years.
  • The pandemic years (shown in blue) exceeded the level of sales seen in previous years. That’s largely because low mortgage rates during that time spurred buyer demand and home sales to new heights.
  • This year (shown in green), the market is feeling the impact of higher mortgage rates and that’s moderating buyer demand (and by extension home sales). That’s why the expectation for home sales this year is closer to what the market saw in 2018-2019.
Why Is All of This Good News for You?

Both of those factors have opened up a window of opportunity for homeowners looking to move and for buyers looking to purchase a home. As demand moderates and the pace of home sales slows, housing inventory is able to grow – and that gives you more options for your home search.

So don’t let the headlines about the market cooling or moderating scare you. The housing market is still strong; it’s just easing off from the unsustainable frenzy it saw during the height of the pandemic – and that’s a good thing. It opens up new opportunities for you to find a home that meets your needs.

Bottom Line

The housing market is undergoing a shift because of higher mortgage rates, but the market is still strong. If you’ve been looking to buy a home over the last couple of years and it felt impossible to do, now may be your opportunity. Buying a home right now isn’t easy, but there is more opportunity for those who are looking.

Learn more on Keeping Current Matters.

If there is a home that you would like more information about, if you are considering selling a property, or if you have questions about the housing market in your neighborhood, please reach out. We’re here to help.

While the Federal Reserve is working hard to bring down inflation, the latest data shows the inflation rate is still going up.

You no doubt are feeling the pinch on your wallet at the gas pump or the grocery store, but that news may also leave you wondering: should I still buy a home right now?

Greg McBride, Chief Financial Analyst at Bankrate, explains how inflation is affecting the housing market:

Inflation will have a strong influence on where mortgage rates go in the months ahead. . . . Whenever inflation finally starts to ease, so will mortgage rates — but even then, home prices are still subject to demand and very tight supply.”

No one knows how long it’ll take to bring down inflation, and that means the future trajectory of mortgage rates is also unclear. While that uncertainty isn’t comfortable, here’s why both inflation and mortgage rates are important for you and your homeownership plans.

When you buy a home, the mortgage rate and the price of the home matter. Higher mortgage rates impact how much you’ll pay for your monthly mortgage payment – and that directly affects how much you can comfortably afford. And while there’s no denying it’s more expensive to buy and finance a home this year than it was last year, it doesn’t mean you should pause your search. Here’s why.

Homeownership Is Historically a Great Hedge Against Inflation

In an inflationary economy, prices rise across the board. Historically, homeownership is a great hedge against those rising costs because you can lock in what’s likely your largest monthly payment (your mortgage) for the duration of your loan. That helps stabilize some of your monthly expenses. Not to mention, as home prices continue to appreciate, your home’s value will too. That’s why Mark Cussen, Financial Writer at Investopedia, says: 

Real estate is one of the time-honored inflation hedges. It’s a tangible asset, and those tend to hold their value when inflation reigns, unlike paper assets. More specifically, as prices rise, so do property values.”

Also, no one is calling for homes to lose value. As Selma Hepp, Deputy Chief Economist at CoreLogic, says:

“The current home price growth rate is unsustainable, and higher mortgage rates coupled with more inventory will lead to slower home price growth but unlikely declines in home prices.”

In a nutshell, your home search doesn’t have to go on hold because of rising inflation or higher mortgage rates. There’s more to consider when it comes to why you want to buy a home. In addition to shielding yourself from the impact of inflation and growing your wealth through ongoing price appreciation, there are other reasons to buy a home right now like addressing your changing needs and so much more.

Bottom Line

Homeownership is one of the best decisions you can make in an inflationary economy. You get the benefit of the added security of owning your home in a time when experts are forecasting prices to continue to rise.

Read more at Keeping Current Matters.

While most tourists stop at the German Village, Columbus Museum of Art, Huntington Park, and the Columbus Metropolitan Library, there’s much more to this city in Ohio than just tried-and-true, popular attractions. There are also unique eateries, eclectic museums, and breathtaking parks that may change your perception of nature. After booking your Columbus vacation rental, put these hidden gems on your must-see list and wander off the beaten path.

1. Early Television Museum

Located in northwestern Columbus, the early Television Museum will blow your kids’ minds — and maybe even your own. This quirky little museum contains a collection of rare, vintage television sets that date back to before World War II. You’ll sea the big, boxy American-made Andrea 1-F-5 with a 5-inch screen and General Electric’s 12-inch screen with attached speaker manufactured in 1939. The museum also has a collection of pre-war British television sets, as well as early mechanical TVs of the 1920s and 30s, postwar TVs, and early color TVs. Explore the gradual growth and development of one of America’s most popular pieces of technology.

2. Topiary Park

Despite the Topiary Park’s location in the heart of Columbus, it’s a low-key, quiet green space missed by most in favor of the more popular Goodale Park. Other than a quiet atmosphere, the park boasts bushes trimmed to reproduce the people and animals of the well-known Seurat painting. Stroll along the paths and admire the artistry, or join the people-shaped bushes in lounging by the pond. The park is just down the block from both the Columbus Museum of Art and the Kelton House Museum and Garden, so you can explore all three in one afternoon.

3. Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

Because of its location on the western outskirts of the city, the Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park is definitely not usually a top attraction. However, if you get a vacation rental out in the suburbs, you can easily explore this 7,000-acre space at your leisure without crowds jockeying for space. Plus, the park has miles of trails through forests, fields, and rivers, regular family-friendly events, and bison. Take the easy 2-mile Ancient trail along Darby Creek to where For Ancient once stood, or opt for the scenic lake trail. The park also has nature centers, play areas, and picnicking areas along with tons of activities. Go kayaking along the river or do some fishing in the lake. If you visit during the winter, there’s cross country skiing and ice skating available.

4. Rambling House Soda

Rambling House Soda is a like a brewery, but with homemade soda instead of beer. While it serves good old favorites such as sarsaparilla, ginger beer, and lemon lime, it also has the new flavor of the week and an entire line of Columbus Cola. Think Cinnamon or kola nut flavors. Once there, enjoy the easy, laid back live music scene; bluegrass musicians add ambiance to the Rambling House experience, soothing all your tense muscle. The shop has a local following, but its low-key atmosphere puts it out of the way of most tourists. Afterwards, pick up some Ohio State Pizza across the street for dinner.

5. Book Loft

The Book Loft, a hidden gem, is located in the German Village, one of the most popular areas in Columbus. Not only does this store boast 32 rooms filled with books, but the buildings that houses the enormous collection are all historic, dating to before the Civil War. Peruse the stacks while enjoying the old architecture. Get some eats at Mo Joe Lounge next door, a great place to take a lunch break during your book-shopping extravaganza.

6. The Old Mohawk

The Old Mohawk is another German Village establishment known and loved by the locals. Once upon a time, it was a speakeasy, an underground watering hold during the prohibition. Now it’s a tavern catering to all types of people whether they be families or individuals who want a cold drink after work. While The Old Mohawk serves up your favorite drinks, it also has an extensive menu for both adults and children ranging from quesadillas and sandwiches to homemade meatloaf and season specials.

7. Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum

Kids and kids-at-heart are sure to love this museum dedicated to cartoons of all types throughout the ages. There are political cartoons from the 1800s, old comic strips (Peanuts, anyone?), and even manga, appealing to the younger generations. You can even view cartoons from other countries. The museum hosts regular events and workshops. The museum is located on the Ohio State University campus, so you can follow it up with a visit to the Wexner Center for the Arts and a stroll through The Oval.

8. Cornhenge

If you want to add a unique destination to your Columbus trip, make your way to Cornhenge, a field filled with giant sculptures of corncobs. The 109 6-foot tall cobs were built in honor of Sam Frantz in the very field where he created hybrid corn. However, the monument isn’t just about corn, it’s about the history of the land back to the Native Americans. Cornhenge is located in the northwestern metro era, a nice breath of fresh air from the urban hubbub of downtown Columbus. Plus, the nearby Kiwanis Riverway Park makes this a great area to get a vacation home in for the duration of your stay.

9. Eddie Rickenbacker Childhood Home

Appreciate local history and heroes by visiting the Eddie Rickenbacker Childhood Home, located in east Columbus. In order to support his family, Eddie quit school to work full time in the 6th grade, eventually moving into race car driving before being swept up in the war. He was just as good, if not better, in an airplane. He shot down 26 enemy aircraft in a year and was awarded the Medal of Honor. This National Historic Landmark is one of the few areas dedicated to the war hero.

Read more

If there is a home that you would like more information about, if you are considering selling a property, or if you have questions about the housing market in your neighborhood, please reach out. We’re here to help.

It’s easy to get carried away when designing the backyard of your dreams.

A pool? Yes! Sunroom? Of course! A new fence? Why not?? But the truth is that not all of these backyard features will be a selling point once it’s time to sell your home. 

We’ll explore the backyard features that offer the best return on investment, the nuances of a deck vs a patio, and how to stretch your money for the best backyard – on a budget.  

Do Decks Add Value To A Home? 

Short answer – yes. Long answer: decks are a practical way to add livability (i.e. square footage) to your home in a cost-effective way. Research shows that homeowners recoup at least 76% of their investment which is one the highest returns of any home improvement project. On average, the cost of a wooden deck is about $13,000 with a resale value of about $11,000. So it’s a safe bet for increasing your home value! 

Not only does it add monetary value, but if you enjoy the outdoors – it adds enormous value to your quality of life. Outdoor spaces that are conducive to cooking, eating together, hanging out, or watching the stars will create opportunities for family memories that you didn’t have before.  

Decks vs. Patios 

After you’ve decided to move forward with a deck (great choice BTW) it’s time to get into the details. Do you want to build a deck – and if so, made of which material? Or is a patio a better choice for you? 

Wooden decks are the best choice because they’re affordable to build and desirable to buyers. Composite decking is pricier and doesn’t provide the same resale value – but it does offer higher durability than wood decks.  

Now to patios: typically, patios are built on a concrete slab. They’re commonly set with flagship stone, or a sand and pebble base. They are also built on ground-level, whereas decks are built above-ground. Patios are a great choice if you have a level area off your home and you’re interested in a small space for seating or a patio table. Decks are a better choice if you have a large space you’d like to convert and you don’t have a level backyard. 

Note the amount of direct sun your backyard gets as well. While building, this is a great time to decide on whether or not a covered area is right for your deck or patio. If you have brutal summers or not enough tree coverage, opt for at least partial shade. If you live somewhere temperate or with great foliage, you can probably leave the coverage out. 

Backyard Features That Add Value 

In addition to your deck, there are other profit-driving (and quality-of-life enhancing) outdoor features you can add to your dream backyard. Our 5 favorite backyard features that add value to your home include: 

Privacy Features 

Bushes, fences, and bamboo add depth and detail to the lines of your backyard – but they also serve an important function. Depending on your proximity to other neighbors, you might have total visibility into your backyard which is less than ideal. Instead of sharing your memories with the nosy family next door, consider bush installations that add both beauty and privacy. 

Shade Features 

On the same note, and a great suggestion to consider if your backyard lacks mature trees, is the concept of shade features. Pergolas, fruit trees, vines, and other larger growth is a great way to add vibrancy and life to your backyard, while also granting you some necessary relief. These are inexpensive options that continue to grow in both size and value over time – the larger they are, the more shade they provide. 

A Swimming Pool 

Swimming pools are a polarizing feature. For some, they’re a must-have. For others, they’re high-maintenance and high-overhead. Think through the potential buyer of your home: do many people in the area want/have pools? Then it’s likely a good choice for your area. If you install an expensive pool though, don’t expect a high return. In-ground pools can cost between $30,000 and $100,000 to install, and recouping that investment depends greatly on who is buying. However, if it’s not about resale value, and it’s just about enjoyment – there’s nothing better than floating in your personal pool on a hot summer day. 

A Fire Pit 

Fire pits vary greatly in size, scope, and materials. Some people want them purely for function: a place to warm up and toast marshmallows on cool nights. Others create architectural statements that are luxurious and stylish. These obviously come with heftier installation costs. Think through your use of a fire pit and your objectives for your home value. Heavier investments will yield higher returns, but it’s not worth it if you don’t see the opportunity for consistent use. 

An Outdoor Kitchen 

Outdoor kitchens are a luxury, but they’re quickly becoming a backyard status symbol in certain climates. If outdoor livability is high in your area, an outdoor kitchen will pay for itself in a matter of months. Although they can cost anywhere from $15,000 to upwards of $100,000 – it’s best to keep it simple. NAR reports state that an inset grill, stainless steel drawers, a sink and 60 square feet of counter space is plenty for an adequate and functional cooking space. Plus, it makes sense financially! For a simpler install, homeowners can expect about a 71% return on investment. Who’s ready for dining al fresco? 

Knowing which outdoor features offer the best returns and drive the most value is an important step in designing your dream backyard. Even if a home sale isn’t in your immediate future, it’s best to make updates with your home’s worth in mind. If you’re thinking about selling – but don’t want to undergo the hassle and cost of updating your outdoor space, call Curbio! You don’t pay a dollar until your home sells, and with homeowners pocketing an average of $50,000 more in profit, every dollar counts.

Read more Curbio

If there is a home that you would like more information about, if you are considering selling a property, or if you have questions about the housing market in your neighborhood, please reach out. We’re here to help.

Traveling to Ohio early this July? There are plenty of great places to stop and visit over the holidays. Whether you’re looking for a fun vacation rental out on the lake or at the beach, or want to explore some local towns and eateries, Ohio is filled with fun activities for the whole family. Check out our list of the best places to visit over the 4th!

1. Cedar Point- Sandusky

Love roller coasters and amusement parks? Cedar Point is the place for you! Known as the roller coaster capital of the world, this park is filled with award-winning roller coasters that are sure to thrill the whole family, young and old! When you need a quick break from all the rides, take a break on the beach and enjoy the beautiful views of Lake Erie, or play a nice game of beach volleyball. Vacation rentals and hotels are available all around the area. On the fourth, the park hosts their annual “Light Up the Point” event with fireworks and all-you-can-eat grilling!

2. Columbus

The capital of Ohio is known for having great festivities around the Fourth of July. Downtown Columbus will be hosting their annual “Red, White, and BOOM” festival, which features the largest firework display in all of Ohio, the largest Independence Day Parade in Central Ohio, a food festival and an afterparty. Go out during the day and explore the festivities, then return to your vacation rental at night and enjoy the incredible view of the fireworks. The event is filled with a variety of family-friendly activities, so be sure to bring everyone out to join in on the fun!

3. Hocking Hills

For a more scenic vacation, Hocking Hills is the place to be. This beautiful nature-oriented town is filled with various natural wonders including Old Man’s Cave and Cedar Falls. On the Fourth of July, Hocking college hosts “Thunder in the Valley”, southeast Ohio’s top fireworks display. You can enjoy the show from your vacation rental or cabin, or venture out and explore some of the different food trucks and vendors that will be in the area for the event. Bring the kids along for some fun games, or get together and plan a nice Fourth of July canoe trip down Lake Hope.

4. Coney Island- Cincinnati

This small amusement park comes alive every Fourth of July with not only fireworks but hot air balloons! LaRosa’s Balloon Glow is an annual event at the park that comes with music, entertainment, and fun roller coasters! Spend your entire day at the park at Sunlite Water Adventure, or relax at your vacation rental near the Ohio River until it’s time for the hot air balloon display to begin. For this event, we would recommend choosing a vacation rental near Coney Island in order to limit the amount you have to pay for parking.

5. Akron

Barbecue fans will want to check this one out. Akron’s annual “Rib, White, and Blue” event takes place over four days and features a great selection of fall-off-the-bone barbecue ribs. There’s an on-going rib cook-off happening throughout the event, so be sure to try as many vendors as you can to judge for yourself. This event also features a great selection of live music, from tribute bands to a grand finale show by the Akron Symphony Orchestra. Also at the end of the night is a spectacular firework show! Choose a vacation rental in Akron for the weekend to be near all the action, or plan a day trip to the city on the fourth to enjoy a quick taste of BBQ and fireworks.

6. Blossom Music Festival- Cuyahoga Falls

This is a great place to be for a nice, relaxing Fourth of July holiday. The Blossom Music Festival is put on by the Cleveland Orchestra every summer, and features a variety of different American composers; Including band legend John Philip Sousa. At the end of the concert, there is a nice firework show as the orchestra plays the iconic “1812 Overture.” This is a great event for older kids and adults, so plan a picnic on the lawn or have a nice barbecue at your vacation rental before you head over!

7. Dayton

Dayton’s “Lights in Flight” festival is a great multi-cultural event that takes place around the fourth every year. With a firework show that earned the Dayton People’s Choice Award for best firework show in the Miami Valley, this festival is a great place to bring the family. There’s live music, great food, and plenty of fun entertainment opportunities! Walk around downtown Dayton to enjoy the festival, or enjoy the scenic views of the RiverScape Metropark from your vacation rental. The festival runs down the riverfront, so you’ll be able to enjoy your holidays along the water.

8. Toledo

Known as Ohio’s longest living-history village, Toledo always hosts an “Old-Fashioned 4th of July Weekend” event that’s filled with fun activities for the whole family. Grab a scoop of hand-cranked ice cream, play some old-fashioned patriotic games, or listen to the historic tunes being played on the reed organ. The festival also runs events through local museums! This is a great festival for the kids to come and have fun while learning more about this country’s history, as well as a little about the history of Toledo. Choose a vacation rental near the downtown area to be near all the fun!

9. Bay Village

At Bay Village’s annual Bay Day festival, there are activities for everyone in the family to participate in. From a classic car cruise-in to the magic show and variety of small rides, this festival is a great weekend adventure for you and the kids. At the end of the festival there is a huge fireworks display, so bring your picnic blanket or camp out in front of your vacation rental to watch from home. Bay Village is also located right on Lake Erie, so if the festival isn’t your thing take the family out for a fun beach day at Huntington State Park.

10. Greater Cleveland Aquarium- Cleveland

The Greater Cleveland Aquarium hosts their annual “Red White and Brew” event every year around the Fourth of July. Enjoy live music waterfront and a great selection of food and beer all day while you explore the aquarium, and at night you can step outside and enjoy the beautiful view of the City of Cleveland’s fireworks. The aquarium is also located in the Flats district of downtown Cleveland, so feel free to wander around and explore the variety of different waterfront activities the city has to offer. Choose a vacation rental near the water so you can rent a boat and enjoy your day on the lake, or boat over to the aquarium to join in on all the fun!

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If there is a home that you would like more information about, if you are considering selling a property, or if you have questions about the housing market in your neighborhood, please reach out. We’re here to help.

Between April 1 and September 1, 80 percent of Americans move into a new space—from recent grads swapping dorms for their first apartment to those looking to make the most of the reliable weather. If you’ve previously had to grapple with fitting all of your belongings into a handful of boxes, coliving company Common is here to help by partnering with professional organizer Caroline Solomon. Follow her dos and don’ts, and packing (and unpacking) all your necessities will be as pain-free as possible—even when that means narrowing down your mug collection. 

Do: Declutter First, Pack Later

While going full Marie Kondo prior to a big move may feel like common sense, Solomon says decluttering in preparation for packing needs to go deeper than weeding out the items that don’t spark joy. “Put aside the part of your brain that holds onto those ‘just in case’ items, and focus on what you reach for on a daily, even monthly basis,” she explains. 

So while the immersion blender you bought for one soup recipe may seem to have a future of usefulness, if you haven’t pulled it out in three months, it may be time to part ways. “We can all stand to lose a few mugs along the way,” Solomon says, laughing.  

Don’t: Stuff It All In

It may be tempting to overload every box full to the brim, saving the amount of stuff you actually have to transport, but Solomon insists that technique is a recipe for disaster. “Limiting the categories will make unpacking that much easier,” she says. “It just means to not throw in extra books with the bath towels.”

For fragile items and kitchenware, use any extra space to add more protective padding. Solomon cuts down on waste by wrapping glassware and padding small appliances with hand towels and that day’s newspaper. 

Do: Set Aside a Priorities Box

Solomon suggests setting aside a box or two of things you’ll need right away—think: bedsheets, coffee maker, bath towels, and silverware. No one wants to finally chill out at the end of a long moving day only to realize that their beloved bathrobe is somewhere at the bottom of a pile of wardrobe boxes. 

To keep all of that cardboard organized, Solomon recommends color-coding each box’s label by room. “Our brain gets overloaded when writing down more than four categories,” she explains. “And then we just get kind of lazy; color allows for immediate recognition.” 

Don’t: Start Too Early

Whether it’s due to anxiety or excitement, a common gut reaction to signing a new lease or closing on your dream home is to start preparing right away. However, in order to maintain a high morale until the very end of this stressful time, Solomon recommends not starting to pack or organize until a maximum of three weeks out. “You have to be aware that you’re still living in your old place,” she says. “Even if your mind has moved on.” No one wants to live in a warehouse-like living room for months on end. The most difficult part of moving season should be parting ways with your college alumni coffee mug, not keeping up your routine while looking forward to your new digs. 

Read more…

If there is a home that you would like more information about, if you are considering selling a property, or if you have questions about the housing market in your neighborhood, please reach out. We’re here to help.

April marks sixth consecutive month of declines for contract signings.

Pending home sales continued spiraling downward in April, a 3.9% decrease from a month prior, resulting in an index reading of 99.3, according to data released Thursday by the National Association of Realtors.

In March the index’s reading was 103.7. An index of 100 is equal to the level of contract activity in 2001.

The decline marked the sixth consecutive month of decreases and the 11th consecutive month of year-over-year drops for the Pending Home Sales Index. According to NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun, it’s the slowest pace of contract signings in nearly a decade.

“The escalating mortgage rates have bumped up the cost of purchasing a home by more than 25% from a year ago, while steeper home prices are adding another 15% to that figure,” Yun said.

Yun expects existing home sales to fall by 9% in 2022 with home price appreciation leveling off to 5% by the end of the year.

“If mortgage rates stabilize roughly at the current level of 5.3% and job gains continue, home sales could also stabilize in the coming months,” Yun said. “Home sales in 2022 are expected to be down about 9%, and if mortgage rates climb to 6%, then the sales activity could fall by 15%. Home prices in the meantime appear in no danger of any meaningful decline. There is an ongoing housing shortage, and properly listed homes are still selling swiftly – generally seeing a contract signed within a month.”

All four major U.S. regions recorded year-over-year decreases in contract signings. The Northeast saw the largest drop at 14.3% to a reading of 74.8. Month over month, the South (119.0), the West (85.9) and the Northeast (74.8) saw decreases of 4.7%, 4.3% and 16.2%, respectively. The Midwest was the only region to record a monthly increase (6.6%), bringing its index to 100.7.

Read more Real Trends.

Rising interest rates are making adjustable-rate mortgages an increasingly attractive alternative to common 30-year, fixed-rate home loans.

ARMs made up 13% of all home loans by dollar volume in March, their highest share since January 2020, according to CoreLogic.

The increase coincides with a sharp rise in mortgage rates. The average weekly rate on a 30-year mortgage slipped this week to 5.25% from 5.3% last week, which was the highest level since 2009, according to mortgage buyer Freddie Mac. The average rate was 3% a year ago.

Rising mortgage rates, in conjunction with sharply higher home prices, make homeownership less affordable.

“It’s natural for homebuyers to be looking at ways to reduce that mortgage payment, and one of the ways is to use an adjustable-rate mortgage,” said Selma Hepp, deputy chief economist at CoreLogic.

Adjustable-rate mortgages don’t make it any easier to qualify for financing, but they do offer buyers some flexibility with their monthly mortgage payments in the first few years of the loan term.

For example, a homebuyer who takes out a typical 5/1 ARM will have a low, fixed rate for the first five years of the loan. After that, the loan adjusts to an adjustable interest rate, which could be higher or lower, until the debt is paid off, or the buyer refinances the loan.

Such loans became less attractive the last couple of years as average long-term mortgage rates fell to an all-time low.

ARMs’ share of all loans by dollar value sank to just 4% in January 2021 from 13% a year earlier, according to CoreLogic. ARMs have made up between 10% and 19% of all loans by dollar value over the last 12 years.

At the height of the last housing boom in 2005 ARMs represented just under 45%, CoreLogic said.

Back then, such home loans were more common because lenders could sign up homebuyers for a loan and then take it off their balance sheet by selling it to investment banks that made a big business of selling mortgage-backed securities to investors. Far looser lending criteria also set up many loans to default when they adjusted to a higher rate.

Such a scenario isn’t in the cards now, however, as banks have beefed up their lending standards since the Great Recession.

“We still see very solid underwriting standards,” Hepp said. “The last few years have been some of the best underwritten loans, irrespective of what people use as their mortgage type.”

Read more…

If there is a home that you would like more information about, if you are considering selling a property, or if you have questions about the housing market in your neighborhood, please reach out. We’re here to help.

Searching for a home can be frustrating, especially during periods of low inventory when it feels like every house you look at goes from “listed” to “under contract” in less than 24 hours. However, for those on the other side of the process, who have finally found their dream home and put in an offer, the words “under contract” can spell sweet relief. 

Here’s what you need to know about what it means when a home is “under contract,” and what comes next. 

What does “under contract” mean?

When a buyer makes an offer and the deal is accepted, the property is officially under contract, and escrow is opened. In addition to meaning that your bid has been accepted (congrats!) it also means that the clock has started on your “due diligence” timeframe. 

“[You] have 17 days to conduct [your] inspections,” Dailey says. “These can include home, roof, pool… and other very important inspections.” Your seller may have provided disclosures about the home’s history and the neighborhood when they listed the property, but this will be your only opportunity to verify these things for yourself before you take possession of your new home. “These steps are critical to a successful sales process,” she says.

What comes after going “under contract”?

There’s still a lot to be done between going under contract and getting the keys to your new home. In addition to the inspections, you’ll need to complete the process to secure your mortgage. If you’re already pre-approved (which most real estate agents require before they’ll even begin showing you houses), the process entails providing supporting documentation to make sure you can afford your monthly payments. This can take some time, so it’s important that you remain in contact with your lenders and get them anything they need as quickly as possible. Otherwise, you run the risk of your under-contract home going back onto the market where others are free to bid on it again. 

Going “under contract” doesn’t always mean you’ll close on your new home.

If you’ve ever wondered why homes that are under contract still show up during your home search, it’s because those deals can still fall through. “The reason is that many times issues come up during escrow, and the parties do not agree on some of the issues. “Deals can go sideways for a number of reasons.” 

For example, financing can fall through, inspections may uncover extensive repairs that neither the seller nor the borrower want to foot the bill for, or a party to the transaction can fail to uphold the terms of the contract. “Even personality conflicts can cause a deal to fall apart,” she explains. “Escrow is very stressful to both parties, and that is why it is critical to have a good agent who knows the law and knows how to protect you.”

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If there is a home that you would like more information about, if you are considering selling a property, or if you have questions about the housing market in your neighborhood, please reach out. We’re here to help.

Whether because they could finally work from anywhere, realized they needed more space, or simply decided to move closer to family, many people uprooted themselves this past year.

So if you have new neighbors moving in, why not welcome them to your neighborhood with a gift that makes them feel like they’re part of your community?

Here, 10 relatively low-cost ideas that say, “Won’t you be my neighbor?”:

1. A dessert from your favorite bakery

When I moved to my new neighborhood six years ago, we were given a box of dulce de leche pastries from our local Uruguayan bakery. It would have taken us years to discover that this was the best bakery and that these were the best of their dozens of offerings — and we felt like locals knowing what to order the first time we went there ourselves. If you do the same, be sure to include the business’s card or menu, since it’s so easy to forget a name.

2. A local trail map 

No matter where you live, there are likely hiking trails within a short drive (even New York City has more than a dozen trails within city limits!). Introduce the new neighbors to the nearby nature by giving them a trail map or guidebook. If it’s a map or book with multiple trails, be sure to mark a favorite short hike to give them an idea of where to start.

3. A subscription to the local paper

If your community is lucky enough to have a newspaper, this is a great way to help your new neighbors get to know their new home and support the local press at the same time. Aside from keeping up with local politics, hometown papers are often a great way to find contractors, plumbers, landscapers, dog walkers, and other services they might need.

4. A perennial that thrives in your garden

If a plant is growing in your yard, there’s an awfully good chance it will grow in the neighbors’ yard, too. A perennial is nice, because it’ll bloom for years to come, reminding them of their neighbors kind welcome when they first moved in. When you make the gift, mention why you like this plant for your locale, and offer any tips for getting it established. 

5. Regional delicacies

Give them a taste of something they can only get in your town/county. My pal, design writer Sophie Donelson, says she was delighted when her neighbors surprised her with Tetley Tea and cherry blossom candy when she moved to Canada last year. It may be an old wives tale that local honey keeps the allergies at bay, but a jar of honey remains a simple symbol of wishes for a sweet life in a new home. 

6. Take-out menus 

Even the most avid home cook is likely to order dinner in those hectic first weeks. Spare them the experience of the mediocre Italian place that comes up first on Google by sharing menus from your favorite spots. If you’re feeling generous, include a gift certificate to one, too!

7. A membership to a local institution

Give the gift of a truly local experience by gifting them a membership to your local historical society, museum, or public garden. If there’s more than one, pick one that they’re less likely to discover on their own.

8. Flowers, and especially ones cut from your garden

In my book, flowers are always a welcome gift, but especially so when they’re homegrown. Those blossoms will also provide a spot of beauty in what will likely be a chaotic house. Be sure to put them in a vessel they don’t need to return, like a rinsed-out glass jar, so they have one less thing to keep track of.

9. Something to pop in the oven

If you love to cook, a one-pan meal, like a lasagna or a tray of enchiladas, will give your new neighbors a welcome break from takeaway or cooking. Eggs and nuts are among the most common food allergies, so avoid those if you can. 

10. Something truly practical

Trust us, they’ll love these ideas even though they’re not traditional gifts. Pack up a plastic shower curtain, bottles of shampoo and conditioner, and a bar of soap for the ultimate first-night-in-a-new-home gift. Maria Topper, a Chicago stylist who often stages homes for sale, suggests another practical gift: a pack of toilet paper and rolls of paper towels. 

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If there is a home that you would like more information about, if you are considering selling a property, or if you have questions about the housing market in your neighborhood, please reach out. We’re here to help.