What Buyers Need to Know About HOAs

What Buyers Need to Know About HOAs | MyKCM

When searching for a home, you may end up selecting a property in a community with a Homeowners Association (HOA). Before you buy, it’s important to know how an HOA works and what they mean for you.

According to a recent article on realtor.com,

“In a nutshell, an HOA helps ensure that your community looks its best and functions smoothly…The number of Americans living in homes with HOAs is on the rise, growing from a mere 1% in 1970 to 25% today, according to the Foundation for Community Association Research.”

An HOA is governed by a board nominated by those living in the neighborhood. It is designed to make sure the residents have a support structure to maintain the value of the community while abiding by a set of guidelines called Common Restrictive Covenants (CC&R),

“Simply put, CC&Rs are just the rules you’ll have to follow if you live in that community. Unlike zoning regulations, which are government-imposed requirements on how land can be used, restrictive covenants are established by HOAs to maintain the attractiveness and value of the property.”

It’s important for homeowners to understand that each HOA is a little different, and they usually have monthly or quarterly fees required for homeowners. These fees can vary based on property size, number of residents, amenities, and more. There may be additional fees charged to homeowners if the reserve fund for the HOA cannot cover a major or unexpected cost, like severe storm damage.

The fees, however, also help maintain common areas such as swimming pools, tennis courts, elevators (for high-rise buildings), and regular wear and tear. Although they are an added cost to the homeowner, an HOA can be a major benefit when it comes to maintaining the value of your neighborhood and your property.

The same article continues to say,

“After your offer to buy a home is accepted, you are legally entitled to receive and review the community’s CC&Rs over a certain number of days (typically between three and 10)…If you spot anything in the restrictive covenants you absolutely can’t live with, you can bring it up with the HOA board or just back out of your contract completely (and keep your deposit).”

Most lenders will factor your HOA fees into your loan package, ensuring the amount of the loan is appropriate for what you can truly afford.

There are some great benefits to having an HOA oversee your neighborhood, and it’s important to understand what fees, structures, and regulations will come into play if there is an HOA where you’d like to live.

Bottom Line

When you’re looking at a potential property to buy, let’s get together so you have a professional who can help you understand the neighborhood’s HOA structure and fees. This way, you’ll feel confident and fully informed when buying a home. Give The Johnson Team a call today at (888) 713-3056 or email us at Info@JohnsonTeamRealEstate.com.

Home Prices Increase in Every Price Range

Home Prices Increase in Every Price Range | MyKCM

CoreLogic’s Home Price Index (HPI) Report revealed,

National home prices increased 3.6% year over year in July 2019 and are forecast to increase 5.4% from July 2019 to July 2020.

They also analyzed four individual home-price tiers, showing the increase in each.

Here’s the breakdown:

Home Prices Increase in Every Price Range | MyKCM

To clarify the methodology, CoreLogic explains,

“The four price tiers are based on the median sale price and are as follows: homes priced at 75% or less of the median (low price), homes priced between 75% and 100% of the median (low-to-middle price), homes priced between 100% and 125% of the median (middle-to-moderate price) and homes priced greater than 125% of the median (high price).”

What does this mean if you’re selling?

Price appreciation can differ depending on your price range. If you’re a homeowner thinking of selling, let’s get together to find out how much your home is increasing in value, so you can price it competitively for today’s market. Have any questions? Give The Johnson Team a call today at (888) 713-3056 or email us at Info@JohnsonTeamRealEstate.com.

The Ultimate Fall Home Maintenance Checklist

For homeowners, fall is the last chance to lock down all your home maintenance tasks before winter comes, and with it threats of weather-related inconvenience and damage. With a little preventive maintenance, you can spend your winter cozy and secure in your home with no worries about freezing pipes or drafty windows. Here are a few things to do this fall in preparation for winter.

Make sure your house is sealed. If you’re not quite ready to invest in new windows, weatherstripping and door sweeps can prevent drafts and keep heat contained. If there are any weaknesses in your roof or gaps in your siding where water, air, or animals could enter, now is the time to seal them up!

Prep your plumbing. This is a good time to check to make sure that all of your pipes are properly insulated! Frozen pipes don’t just prevent you from accessing running water, but they can lead to pipes bursting, which makes for an expensive repair. Before the season turns, make sure to drain and store any garden hoses, and shut off water to any outdoor faucets.

Button up your landscaping. If you want your grass to stay healthy through the winter, this is the time to fertilize and reseed! Once the leaves have turned, pruning trees and bushes will set them up for success come next spring. While you’re at it, this is a good time to service and then store your lawn mower and other gardening and landscaping equipment.

Get ready to heat your home. Your air conditioning may still be going strong now (depending on where you live!) but before too long, it’ll be time to turn on the heat. Check up on your furnace, boiler, and any fireplaces and chimneys while you still have time to get repairs and tune-ups done.

You don’t want to wait until squirrels are wintering in your attic or a snow-covered tree branch lands on your roof to start thinking about how to prepare your home for winter! Instead, take the initiative this fall and take care of these basics to prepare for the change of season and prevent costly, time-sensitive repairs! Have any questions? Give The Johnson Team a call today at (888) 713-3056 or email us at Info@JohnsonTeamRealEstate.com.

Things to Avoid After Applying for a Mortgage

Things to Avoid After Applying for a Mortgage | MyKCM

Congratulations! You’ve found a home to buy and have applied for a mortgage! You’re undoubtedly excited about the opportunity to decorate your new home, but before you make any large purchases, move your money around, or make any big-time life changes, consult your loan officer – someone who will be able to tell you how your decisions will impact your home loan.

Below is a list of Things You Shouldn’t Do After Applying for a Mortgage. Some may seem obvious, but some may not.

1. Don’t Change Jobs or the Way You Are Paid at Your Job. Your loan officer must be able to track the source and amount of your annual income. If possible, you’ll want to avoid changing from salary to commission or becoming self-employed during this time as well.

2. Don’t Deposit Cash into Your Bank Accounts. Lenders need to source your money, and cash is not really traceable. Before you deposit any amount of cash into your accounts, discuss the proper way to document your transactions with your loan officer.

3. Don’t Make Any Large Purchases Like a New Car or Furniture for Your New Home. New debt comes with it, including new monthly obligations. New obligations create new qualifications. People with new debt have higher debt to income ratios…higher ratios make for riskier loans…and sometimes qualified borrowers no longer qualify.

4. Don’t Co-Sign Other Loans for Anyone. When you co-sign, you are obligated. As we mentioned, with that obligation comes higher ratios as well. Even if you swear you will not be the one making the payments, your lender will have to count the payments against you.

5. Don’t Change Bank Accounts. Remember, lenders need to source and track assets. That task is significantly easier when there is consistency among your accounts. Before you even transfer any money, talk to your loan officer.

6. Don’t Apply for New Credit. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a new credit card or a new car. When you have your credit report run by organizations in multiple financial channels (mortgage, credit card, auto, etc.), your FICO® score will be affected. Lower credit scores can determine your interest rate and maybe even your eligibility for approval.

7. Don’t Close Any Credit Accounts. Many clients erroneously believe that having less available credit makes them less risky and more likely to be approved. Wrong. A major component of your score is your length and depth of credit history (as opposed to just your payment history) and your total usage of credit as a percentage of available credit. Closing accounts has a negative impact on both of those determinants in your score.

Bottom Line

Any blip in income, assets, or credit should be reviewed and executed in a way that ensures your home loan can still be approved. The best advice is to fully disclose and discuss your plans with your loan officer before you do anything financial in nature. They are there to guide you through the process. Give The Johnson Team a call today at (888) 713-3056 or email us at Info@JohnsonTeamRealEstate.com.

Friday The 13th Pending Ratios

If you have been following the local real estate market you know it’s active and inventory is low. If you are thinking of selling now is the time!

The number of real estate signs you see in yards can be deceiving as to the number of homes actually for sale WITHOUT offers on them. If you are seeing new signs around your neighborhood and curious if any of those homes already have offers on them, we have your answers!

Every week we keep track of how many homes are for sale around Bellingham and Whatcom County and how many of those homes have pending offers on them. Pending is the time frame between when an offer has been mutual accepted between the buyer’s and the seller’s of the home and when the title actually transfers hands. This give the buyer’s time to get the financing, do inspection, review the title reports and more.

As of Friday, September 13th, the pending ratio in Bellingham was 41%. Click the links to view a report of how many homes are for sale in each area by price range and how many of them are pending showing just how active certain sectors of the market are.

The Birch Bay Pending ratio was 31%

The Ferndale pending ratio was 41%

The Lynden pending ratio was 37%

The Sudden Valley pending ratio was 41%

If you are thinking of selling your home or property, Johnson Team Real Estate would love to help! We are here to help you will all your real estate needs! You can reach us toll free at 1-888-713-3056 or email us at Info@JohnsonTeamRealEstate.com

Current Purchase Rates as of September 12th

Thinking of buying, selling, or refinancing?  The mortgage rates are a must know! Interest rates are the rates at which money can be borrowed for a set period of time. The higher the rate, the more money a borrower must pay in the form of interest on the loan. When mortgage rates are lower, this makes the purchasing of a home more affordable. Although the cost of mortgages is closely tied to the interest rate, the price at which homes are sold does not always appear in direct correlation.

Thank you Sidney Stonecypher at People’s Bank Home Loan Center for the rates. If you have any mortgage questions you can reach her at 360-650-5365!



September by the Numbers

Whether you’re interested in buying a home or selling your house, the current market is full of opportunity. Let’s get together to explore your options! Give The Johnson Team a call (888) 713-3056 or email us at Info@JohnsonTeamRealEstate.com.

What Is the Probability That Home Values Sink?

What Is the Probability That Home Values Sink?| MyKCM

With the current uncertainty about the economy triggered by a potential trade war, some people are waiting to purchase their first home or move-up to their dream house because they think or hope home prices will drop over the next few years. However, the experts disagree with this perspective.

What Is the Probability That Home Values Sink?| MyKCM

Here is a table showing the predicted levels of appreciation from six major housing sources:As we can see, every source believes home prices will continue to appreciate (albeit at lower levels than we have seen over the last several years). But, not one source is calling for residential real estate values to depreciate.

What Is the Probability That Home Values Sink?| MyKCM

Additionally, ARCH Mortgage Insurance Company in their current Housing and Mortgage Market Review revealed their latest ARCH Risk Index, which estimates the probability of home prices being lower in two years. There was not one state that even had a moderate probability of home prices lowering. In fact, 34 of the 50 states had a minimal probability.

Bottom Line

Those waiting for prices to fall before purchasing a home should realize that the probability of that happening anytime soon is very low. With mortgage rates already at near historic lows, now may be the time to act. Give The Johnson Team a call at (888) 713-3056 or email us at Info@JohnsonTeamRealEstate.com.

Millennial Buying Power Poised to Boost Homeownership

Millennial Buying Power Poised to Boost Homeownership | MyKCM

In a recent article by Realtor Magazine, Mark Fleming, Chief Economist of First American Financial Corporation, notes,

“The largest group of millennials by birth year will turn 30 in 2020, which puts them entering their prime homebuying years”.

The article continues to describe how millennials have more buying-power than the generations that preceded them, making their interest in embracing homeownership stronger than ever,

“Millennials—the most educated generation—have the highest incomes across their generational cohorts, even when salaries are adjusted for inflation.”

This combination of power and desire has the potential to drive positive growth in the homeownership rate heading into the near future. According to Fleming,

‘“The gap between the potential and actual homeownership in 2018 narrowed slightly as the growth in homeownership modestly exceeded the increase in potential demand,” he says, citing First American’s Homeownership Progress Index.

“We expect the homeownership rate to further close the gap with potential in the years ahead as millennials continue to make important decisions, such as attaining an education and, later in life, getting married and having children.”’

That said, the shortage of sellable inventory in the entry and mid-range levels that’s attractive to potential millennial buyers may be a contributing factor as to why many millennials haven’t yet purchased a home. According to another recent report citing Frank Martell, President and CEO of CoreLogic,

“Lower rates are certainly making it more affordable to buy homes and millennial buyers are entering the market with increasing force. These positive demand drivers, which are occurring against a backdrop of persistent shortages in housing stock, are the major drivers for higher home prices, which will likely continue to rise for the foreseeable future.”

With millennials aging-up into mortgage-ready and home-buying territory, along with their strong buying interest and buying power, this generation is poised and ready to have positive impact on homeownership rates across the country. Many of them just need to find a home they’re excited to buy in this competitive end of the market.

Bottom Line

If you’re thinking of selling, let’s connect and determine if now is a great time for you to list your house and move-up. More millennials are getting ready to jump into the market and join the ranks of homeownership, so demand for homes in the starter and mid-level range will continue to be strong. Give The Johnson Team a call today at (888) 713-3056 or email us at Info@JohnsonTeamRealEstate.com.

Home Sales Expected to Continue Increasing In 2020

Home Sales Expected to Continue Increasing In 2020 | MyKCM

Freddie MacFannie Maeand theMortgage Bankers Associationare all projecting home sales will increase nicely in 2020.

Home Sales Expected to Continue Increasing In 2020 | MyKCM

Below is a chart depicting the projections of each entity for 2019, as well as for 2020.As we can see, Freddie MacFannie Mae, and the Mortgage Bankers Association all believe homes sales will increase steadily over the next year. If you’re a homeowner who has considered selling your house recently, now may be the best time to put it on the market. Give The Johnson Team a call today at (888) 713-3056 or email us at Info@JohnsonTeamRealEstate.com.