75 Years of VA Home Loan Benefits

75 Years of VA Home Loan Benefits | MyKCM

On Veterans Day, we salute those who have served our country in war or peace, and we thank them for their sacrifice.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of VA Home Loan Benefit offerings through the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act, also known as the GI Bill. Since 1944, this law has created opportunities for those who have served our country, ranging from vocational training to home loans.

Facts About VA Home Loans:

  • Nearly 24 million home loans have been guaranteed by the Veterans Administration.
  • Nearly 82% of VA home loans are made with no down payment.
  • The VA also provides grants to help seriously disabled Veterans purchase, modify, or construct a home to meet their needs. Last year the VA provided 2,000 grants totaling $104 million.

Benefits of a VA Home Loan:

  1. No down payment
  2. No Private Mortgage Insurance*
  3. Lower credit score requirements
  4. Limitation on closing costs
  5. Lower average interest rates

*More information on VA Home Loan Fees

Bottom Line

The best thing you can do this week to celebrate Veterans Day is to share this information with those who can benefit from these opportunities. For more information, or to find out how to qualify to use a VA Home Loan Benefit, let’s get together to navigate through the process. 

Thank you for your service!

The #1 Reason to List Your House in the Winter

The #1 Reason to List Your House in the Winter | MyKCM

Many sellers believe spring is the best time to put their homes on the market because buyer demand traditionally increases at that time of year. What they don’t realize is if every homeowner believes the same thing, then that’s when they’ll have the most competition.

So, what’s the #1 reason to list your house in the winter? Less competition.

The #1 Reason to List Your House in the Winter | MyKCM

Housing supply traditionally shrinks at this time of year, so the choices buyers have will be limited. The chart below was created using the months supply of listings from the National Association of Realtors. As you can see, the ‘sweet spot’ to list your house for the most exposure naturally occurs in the late fall and winter months (November – January).

The #1 Reason to List Your House in the Winter | MyKCM

Temperatures aren’t the only thing that heats up in the spring – so do listings! In 2018, listings increased from December to May. Don’t wait for these listings and the competition that comes with them to come to the market before you decide to list your house.

BONUS: Serious Buyers Are Out in the Winter

At this time of year, purchasers who are serious about buying a home will be in the marketplace. You and your family will not be bothered and inconvenienced by mere ‘lookers.’ The lookers are at the mall or online doing their holiday shopping.

Here’s the bottom line

If you’ve been debating whether or not to sell your house and are curious about market conditions in the Whatcom County area, let’s get together to determine the best time to list your house!

These Financing Myths are Scaring People Away

It’s a spooky time of year right now with Halloween coming up next week, but it’s not just the horror films and haunted houses that are giving people a fright this fall. Common myths about what it takes to get a loan in today’s market are actually scaring buyers away from getting into the real estate market. We sat down with a Caliber Home Loans officer the other day to discuss what some of the top myths people fall victim to when it comes to buying property. If you have been guilty of believing any of the following assumptions or asked similar questions, you’re not the first! We understand that buying a home can be a stressful experience and might seem out of reach, but hopefully these answers will leave you feeling more knowledgeable about the loan process and maybe even encouraged to learn more about the opportunities available to you.

Myth #1: I need a 20% down payment to buy a home

This belief has been around forever, and we are happy to say that there are many low down payment options out there including 5%, 3%, and even 0% down! The concern with the low down payment options is higher interest rates, but these days lenders are offering great 0% down programs with competing rates including USDA rural housing loans.

Myth #2: I will be stuck paying for high mortgage insurance in a low down payment program

In simple terms, mortgage insurance is a fee to offset the risk for the mortgage investor. It is true, there are situations where the program available comes with a set mortgage insurance. However, not having the means to put 20% down doesn’t necessarily trigger a high mortgage insurance. To save yourself some money, there’s ways to buy it away upfront or build it into the interest rate!

Myth #3: I need a perfect credit score to qualify

Yes, taking the time to build up your credit score is definitely going to pay off when it comes time to buy property. Focusing on things such as paying off student or credit card debt, not making large purchases like buying a car, and maintaining a steady income will all affect credit score in a positive way. When it comes down to qualifying for a loan, there are low down programs that allow for 620 credit score and some even some as low as a 580! So, don’t get discouraged or assume your score isn’t high enough before speaking with a lender that can lay out some options to look into.

Myth #4: Lender credit inquiries will ruin my score

There are two different types of credit checks; soft and hard pulls. The hard pulls are associated with actions such as applying for credit cards, submitting rental applications, or even when applying for a new job. What the credit scoring system allows is for consumers to shop for certain services without your score getting hit after each inquiry, and mortgages are included in those services! The system actually allows a consumer to meet with multiple lenders during a 30 day window and the various credit pulls will only show up as one inquiry.

If any of these myths resonated, I would love to direct you to a seasoned loan officer that may have the right program available. It never hurts to ask the questions. Getting another perspective might help you see what you weren’t able to before!

Whatcom County & a Complete NWMLS Market Snapshot of September 2019

Earlier this month, the entire Northwest Multiple Listing Service provided us with a detailed snapshot of the housing market. I have provided that report below but wanted to first compare the data given to what we saw specifically in Whatcom County last month and what we can expect heading into the 4th quarter of 2019.

According to the NWMLS, there was just over 2 months of available inventory in the entire database, where in Whatcom County the months supply was 2.5, up 8.7% from this time last year. Lynden has been gradually increasing inventory levels since last September and has climbed up to 2.8 months, 47.4% jump year over year! In a balanced market, we generally see 4 to 6 months of inventory, so demand continues to out way supply considerably.

Adversely to the entire MLS, the median sales price of homes in Whatcom County this September was right around $380,000 and Lynden was slightly lower at $375,000. Closing prices in all three areas are climbing with over 5% increases year over year.

Of the 8,000 residential and condominium properties sold in the entire MLS, 4% of that was in Whatcom County with 314 total closed sales in the month of September.

Why it’s Smart to Buy During the Holidays!

Hello! Happy Tuesday and the 1st day of October! We think that it’s now officially acceptable to embrace the fall season. Go hang the autumn decor, sip on all things pumpkin spice, and don’t forget to turn those heaters on cause it’s getting chilly outside!

This time of year tends to be hectic for many people as calendars fill up with family get togethers, company parties, and all kinds of necessary end of year tasks. The majority of people are busy and have put their goals of buying a home on the back burner. If you are serious about getting into a new home before the new year, it couldn’t be a better time to hunker down and get looking!

The competition will continue to drop as the holidays near, so your chances of getting into a multiple offer situation is significantly less. Also, those that are keeping their house on the market or even just now listing it are likely highly motivated to sell before the new year! Keep a look out for competitively priced inventory and frequent price drops as sellers get more anxious to find a buyer.

We want to make sure you are ready to move forward quickly, so here is some professional advice we recommend taking to best prepare for buying a home. It may have been a few years since you purchased property or maybe this is your first time. Things have changed a bit and it pays to be aware of these changes. Since the recession and the sub-prime mortgage meltdown, banks have become more stringent in their lending standards which has an effect on people buying a home. Here are some things you can do now to prepare:

  • Get a copy of your credit report – go to annualcreditreport.com and download a free report from each of the three credit agencies: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Review and make sure everything is accurate. If there are discrepancies, get them cleaned up.
  • Determine your down payment source – will you be using proceeds from your current home for your down payment? A savings account? Borrowing money from a family member? Receiving a gift from a family member? Different paperwork is involved with each which your lender would be happy to go over with you.
  • Meet with a lender – a quality lender has your best interest in mind and wants to help get you set up with a loan program that fits into your budget. Sitting down with a lender gets you honest and professional feedback in regards to your debt to income ratio, credit history, and a comfortable price range.

We want to help facilitate this next step in your life, so please don’t hesitate to give us a call for further information on a property of interest or if you’d like us to set up a specific search. Our goal is to get you in that new home without the stress that can come up when making such a large purchase. Enjoy your holiday season and remember we are just a phone call away!

Affordability is not the issue…

A recent study performed by Corelogic found that an increasing 40% of people labeled affordability as the #1 obstacle to becoming a homeowner. Yes, property values are rising, but the actual price of a home isn’t the only factor to consider. Purchasing power is a significant piece as well.

What many people are failing to consider is that mortgage rates have dropped considerably over the year making buyer’s purchasing power very strong. Mark Fleming also noted, “If the 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage declines just a fraction more, consumer house-buying power would reach its highest level in almost 20 years.”

In the most recent Freddie Mac survey, the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate was 3.49% during the week ending September 5, the lowest weekly average since October 2016. The average rate in August was 3.62%, the ninth consecutive month of falling mortgage rates!

Taking this all into consideration, this fall is actually a great time to get back in the housing market. Give us a call if you have questions about this information or the housing market in general!

The Time to Sell May Be Sooner Than You Think!

Congratulations! You’ve officially closed on your new forever home and can’t imagine ever wanting to move. Then, life happens and two years in, you’re playing with the idea of selling. We understand that changes or obstacles might mean putting your home on the market sooner than planned! Whatever the situation, the question that may come to mind is, “How soon can I sell this house?”

image and info courtesy of Realtor.com

A general rule of thumb that we relay to our clients is to wait at least five years before playing with the idea of selling. Five years is the typical amount of time it takes to break even on your initial investment. However, if your situation requires an early sell, it’s not the end of the world. An article written this past week on Realtor.com has come up with three quality exceptions to the five year rule:

  1. Your property value goes way up! Occasionally, the market gets hot and property values jump quickly. The current market is a good example of this as home values in Whatcom County have been on a steep and steady incline for a few years now! If you bought a couple years ago and notice your property value rising drastically, we would suggest first figuring out where it is you plan to go next. Moving to a lower-cost community would be beneficial, but you may not be able to get a nicer place in the same area without also paying a higher mortgage. Also, keep in mind that selling a property that you’ve owned for less than two years generates a capital gains tax. Take a look around and run the numbers before taking the plunge!
  2. The neighborhood is going downhill. If you notice a clear downward trend in the quality of the area and homes surrounding you, it might be wise to get ahead of it. Neighborhood characteristics are usually a major attraction or potential deterrent for a buyer, so a declining one could greatly reduce the value of your home. Factors to consider about your neighborhood include it’s distance from noise, factories, malls, new construction projects, or anything that disrupts the quality of life. Ask yourself if any changes are devaluing your home and if yes, get out of there.
  3. You just really hate living there! Although making a profit on the sale is important, that is not the only factor to consider. Your happiness is just as significant if not MORE important than the former. Before pulling the plug, you might consider turning the house into an investment property so that you can stop living there, allow someone else to pay your mortgage and continue to grow your net worth. Sounds like a win, win!

We encourage you to ask the hard questions and explore your options. If you’re unsure what the best decision to make is, we are here to listen and offer professional advice on the matter!

Celebrate Labor Day the Right Way!

The summer season doesn’t technically end for a few more weeks, but since school is officially back in session, it sure feels like fall is here already! This beautiful weather we have had this week says differently, so why not take advantage and get the most out of this last bit of sunshine?!

If you’re in Whatcom County for this long Labor Day weekend, there is a full events calendar provided by Whatcom Talk showcasing all the great local happenings. You can check that out right HERE, but if you’re looking for a few ideas, we’ve got you covered:

  • The Western Washington women’s volleyball team is starting up their preseason games and will be battling against British Columbia this Saturday, August 31 at 1 PM in Carver Gym. Come check out the newly remodeled facility and cheer on your local Vikings!
  • Stock up on seasonal produce from local farmers and artisans at the Ferndale Farmer’s Market. You can find the vendors every Friday from 2-6 PM in the Ferndale Grocery Outlet parking lot through mid-October!
  • Take a drive out to Historical Fairhaven to hear a performance by the Atlantics in the Village Green on Sunday afternoon. The Atlantics will be performing jazz and blues music from 2-5 PM and all ages are welcome! Free to attend.

Whatever you end up doing this weekend, enjoy the holiday! Relax and celebrate all the contributions and achievements American workers have made to allow our country to prosper the way it is today.

Now’s the Time to Buy; Here’s Why!

A common question we are getting from our clients lately is whether or not we see a recession coming that will affect the housing market? Well, if you take a look back at the last 5 recessions we’ve gone through here in the U.S., only two of those have lead to a housing collapse.

Last 5 Recessions:

1980 – prices increased 6.1%

1981 – prices increased 3.5%

1991 – prices decreased 1.9%

2001 – prices increased 6.6%

2008 – prices decreased 19.7%

Many economists believe that an economic slowdown is on the horizon, but that does NOT mean a depreciation in home prices is coming as well. Actually, the latest projections from the Home Price Expectation Survey show an annual appreciation in line with historic norms. Don’t fall victim to the belief that prices will drop any time soon.

Along with the steady market conditions, mortgage rates are down nearly a FULL percentage point since this time last year, according to data from Freddie Mac. Actually, rates have declined to the lowest levels in several years and it’s the perfect time to lock in your mortgage! If you’re still on the fence, give us a call with your questions and we’re happy to discuss the details of how much your mortgage rate will affects monthly house payments.

Housing Market Snapshot

Over the past couple months, the local housing market continues to show signs of a strong seller’s market but at a slower pace than we saw throughout 2018.

In July, the average sales price of a home in Whatcom County was $439,277 with a median price of $394,250. Year over year, prices of residential housing has increased 7.2%.

Although inventory is still drastically lower than what would reflect a balanced market, there has been a steady increase from last October! Last month there were 612 residential properties on the market, 2% below what was for sale in July last year and 10% below inventory levels in July 2017.

Another statistic worth noting is the average days on market for residential properties in the area. The average home in Whatcom County is listed and sold in 40 days. There has been a gradual decline in market time since 2014 when homes were taking double the amount of time to sell!

We understand, this market can be intimidating without someone standing alongside you helping to guide the way! The home you’ve been looking for is out there, and we would love to put our local knowledge and expertise to work for you. Give me and my team a call if buying or selling a home in Whatcom County is your goal. Let’s get you where you want to go!