Homeownership has always been the first rung on the ladder leading to household wealth. As Freddie Mac recently posted:
“Homeownership has cemented its role as part of the American Dream, providing families with a place that is their own and an avenue for building wealth over time. This ‘wealth’ is built, in large part, through the creation of equity…Building equity through your monthly principal payments and appreciation is a critical part of homeownership that can help you create financial stability.”
Home equity is the difference between the current market value of your house and the amount you currently owe on your mortgage. To estimate your equity, subtract your mortgage balance from the market value of your home.
You can find what you owe on your mortgage by looking at your last monthly statement or by contacting your lender. If you need help determining the current market value of your home, contact a local real estate professional.
Is homeownership truly a better path to wealth than renting?
Some argue that renting eliminates the cost of property taxes and home repairs. Every potential renter must realize that all the expenses the landlord incurs (property taxes, repairs, insurance, etc.) are already baked into the rent payment – along with a profit margin. You don’t save money by renting.
As proof of this, First American broke down the net worth of homeowners and renters by income categories. Here are their findings:
Only one income category ($127-192K) has a higher net worth for renters over homeowners. Every other category shows that being a homeowner leads to greater accumulated wealth.
When can you cash in on your housing wealth?
Your home equity is part of your total wealth as a homeowner. The two most common ways homeowners can leverage their wealth are:
Selling: When you decide to sell your home, the equity you’ve built over time will come back to you in the sale. For example, if you paid off your $200,000 mortgage and sold your home for $350,000, you would receive $150,000 after closing.
Refinancing: You can refinance your current mortgage and take out some of the equity you have accumulated. With today’s historically low mortgage rates, you may be able to take out substantial cash and keep your monthly payment the same. Thankfully, homeowners today are doing this responsibly and not repeating the same mistakes made in 2006-2008 when some cashed out their entire equity to purchase luxury items like new cars, lavish vacations, etc.
How can these options help homeowners?
During these difficult times, many households are struggling with their housing expenses. Homeowners, because of their equity, have better alternatives. Odeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist at First American, recently explained that homeowners financially impacted by the pandemic will not necessarily be faced with foreclosure:
“The foreclosure process is based on two steps. First, the homeowner suffers an adverse economic shock…leading to the homeowner becoming delinquent on their mortgage. However, delinquency by itself is not enough to send a mortgage into foreclosure. With enough equity, a homeowner has the option of selling their home, or tapping into their equity through a refinance, to help weather the economic shock.”
What might the future bring?
Most experts are calling for home prices to continue appreciating going forward. The Home Price Expectation Survey, a survey of a national panel of over one hundred economists, real estate experts, and investment & market strategists, indicates appreciation will continue for at least the next five years. Using their annual projections, the graph below shows the equity build-up a purchaser would potentially earn by buying a $300,000 home this January:
Home equity, for most Americans, is the quickest way to build household wealth. That wealth gives homeowners more options during good times and in difficult situations.
Every day that passes, people have a need to buy and sell homes. That doesn’t stop during the current pandemic. If you’ve had a major life change recently, whether with your job or your family situation, you may be in a position where you need to sell your home – and fast. While you probably feel like timing with the current pandemic isn’t on your side, making a move is still possible. Rest assured, with technology at your side and fewer sellers on the market in most areas, you can list your house and make it happen safely and effectively, especially when following the current COVID-19 guidelines set forth by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
You may have a new baby, a new employment situation, a parent who moved in with you, you just built a home that’s finally ready to move into, or some other major part of your life that has changed in recent weeks. Buyers have those needs too, so rest assured that someone is likely looking for a home just like yours.
According to the NAR Flash Survey: Economic Pulse taken April 5 – 6, real estate agents indicate, not surprisingly, that there’s a noticeable decline in current homebuyer interest. That said, 10% of agents said in the same survey that they saw no change or even an increase in buyer activity. So, while buyer interest is low compared to normal spring markets, there are still buyers in the market. Don’t forget, you only need one buyer – the right one for your home.
Here’s the other thing – people are spending a lot of time on the Internet right now, given the stay-at-home orders implemented across the country. Buyers are actively looking at homes for sale online. Some of them are reaching out to real estate professionals for virtual tours and getting ready to make offers too. Homes are being sold in many markets.
There Is Less Competition Right Now
The same survey indicates that 56% of NAR members said sellers are removing their homes from the market right now. This can definitely work in your favor. If other sellers are removing their listings, your home has a better chance of rising to the top of a buyer’s search list and being seen. Keep in mind, listings will pick up again soon, as 57% of the respondents note that sellers are only planning to delay the process by a couple of months. If you need to sell right now, don’t wait for the competition to get back into the market again.
This year, delayed listings from the typically busy spring season will push into the summer months, so more competition will be coming to the market as the pandemic passes. Getting ahead of that wave now might be your biggest opportunity.
Your Trusted Real Estate Advisor Can Help
Real estate agents are working hard every single day under untraditional circumstances, utilizing technology to help both buyers and sellers who need to continue with their plans. We’re using virtual tours to show homes currently on the market, staying connected with the buyers and sellers through video chats, and leveraging resources to complete transactions electronically. We’re making sure the families we support remain safe and can keep their real estate needs on track, especially as life is changing so rapidly.
Homes are still being bought and sold in the midst of this pandemic. If you need to sell your house and would like to know the current status in our local market, let’s work together to create a safe and effective plan that works for you and your family.
· Believe it or not, there are lots of things you can do to prep your house for a sale without even going to the store.
· Your real estate plans don’t have to be completely on hold even while we’ve hit the pause button on other parts of daily life.
· Tackling small projects from cleaning the corners you may normally skip to tidying up your yard are easy and necessary wins if you’re thinking of listing your house and making a move.