Home. What does it mean to you? Has the meaning evolved over the past month. For many, home now means more!
Self-quarantine has forced us all to spend more time in our homes. Due to that, we better understand our home's true value. In times like this, we reflect on the safety, comfort and security of where we live. We've also become more appreciative of the versatility of the space we call home.
Home is where we live, work, play, eat, sleep, learn, exercise, relax… Well, you get it! The list goes on. Home is, now, where we do everything! Living rooms have become classrooms. Our spare bedrooms have transformed into exercise studios. And our back porches have become our virtual meeting spaces. Kitchens have become restaurants serving breakfast, lunch and dinner every single day of the week (and way too many snacks in between).
Unfortunately, we've had to turn some bedrooms into hospital quarantine rooms for our loved ones. Taking time to care for the sick while trying not to get sick ourselves. Home is now where we shelter in place.
Home is where we stay to keep safe; to keep our families safe and keep our communities safe. Staying in our homes is literally saving people's lives; our homes have become life-saving devices.
What does home mean to you? We'd love to know. Share with us @corabettthomasrealty! Do you love where you live? Do you rest easy knowing your home is your safe haven? If not, a Cora Bett Thomas Realty agent is here to help you find and define what home looks like to you.
With all of the unanswered questions caused by COVID-19 and the economic slowdown we're experiencing across the country today, many are asking if the housing market is in trouble. For those who remember 2008, it's logical to ask that question.
Many of us experienced financial hardships, lost homes, and were out of work during the Great Recession – the recession that started with a housing and mortgage crisis. Today, we face a very different challenge: an external health crisis that has caused a pause in much of the economy and a major shutdown of many parts of the country.
Let's look at five things we know about today's housing market that were different in 2008.
When we look at appreciation in the visual below, there's a big difference between the 6 years prior to the housing crash and the most recent 6-year period of time. Leading up to the crash, we had much higher appreciation in this country than we see today. In fact, the highest level of appreciation most recently is below the lowest level we saw leading up to the crash. Prices have been rising lately, but not at the rate they were climbing back when we had runaway appreciation.
The Mortgage Credit Availability Index is a monthly measure by the Mortgage Bankers Association that gauges the level of difficulty to secure a loan. The higher the index, the easier it is to get a loan; the lower the index, the harder. Today we're nowhere near the levels seen before the housing crash when it was very easy to get approved for a mortgage. After the crash, however, lending standards tightened and have remained that way leading up to today.
One of the causes of the housing crash in 2008 was an oversupply of homes for sale. Today, as shown in the next image, we see a much different picture. We don't have enough homes on the market for the number of people who want to buy them. Across the country, we have less than 6 months of inventory, an undersupply of homes available for interested buyers.
The chart below shows the difference in how people are accessing the equity in their homes today as compared to 2008. In 2008, consumers were harvesting equity from their homes (through cash-out refinances) and using it to finance their lifestyles. Today, consumers are treating the equity in their homes much more cautiously.
Today, 53.8% of homes across the country have at least 50% equity. In 2008, homeowners walked away when they owed more than what their homes were worth. With the equity homeowners have now, they're much less likely to walk away from their homes.
The COVID-19 crisis is causing different challenges across the country than the ones we faced in 2008. Back then, we had a housing crisis; today, we face a health crisis. What we know now is that housing is in a much stronger position today than it was in 2008. It is no longer the center of the economic slowdown. Rather, it could be just what helps pull us out of the downturn. So to help keep the inventory high and you're thinking of selling, now's the time! Reach out to one of our agents today to talk about getting your house on the market!
For starters, you need to know that our team of trusted advisors at Cora Bett Thomas Realty are here to meet your needs. 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.
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, and we already have tips and tricks for you!
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.
Why Locals Love Life on Wilmington Island: 4 Reasons to Move Here
"It feels like home!" This seems to be a resounding answer to those living on Wilmington Island. From the water and superb location, to the family friendly atmosphere and the laid-back coastal lifestyle… Residents who move here, seem to never leave. Cora Bett Thomas Realty has polled some of their clients to ask why they love life on Wilmington Island. Here are few of the recurring answers:
Water, Water, Everywhere
First and foremost- nothing beats an island view. Whether you live in a peaceful waterfront neighborhood or you're more tucked away inland, you have the opportunity to see the water many times a day. The sights and sounds of the coast are everywhere! On your way to the grocery store you drive on bridges and causeways, on your trip to a friends you see the marsh and smell the mud, and on your way to church each Sunday you're greeted with the beautiful waterways you're surrounded by.
Location, Location, Location
This safe beautiful area is close to both the hustle and bustle of downtown Savannah, as well as the sand and ocean breeze on Tybee Island. Wilmington Island is mostly residential, with a business district complete with everything you need. Located right here in your neighborhood are delicious local eateries, plenty of shopping, and other homegrown businesses… so you are certainly spoiled for choice. You have everything you need right here on Wilmington Island, and many say you never have to leave. But if you are craving a night on the town, or a beach day with friends, you don't have to go far! Wilmington Island isn't just a pass through, it's a destination. It's isolated in a sense. If you come here, you come for a reason.
Fit for All
Wilmington Island is a wonderful place for all walks of life. The community has both public and private schools for growing families, welcoming neighborhoods on every corner for those relocating, and neighbors that look out for one another. There is a strong sense of community and safety when living here. The sights and sounds are endless and the restaurants and activities are just waiting for you!
Active & Laidback At The Same Time
The islands community has something for everyone. With easy access to coastal waterways, the residents here love to boat on the weekends, take advantage of in-shore fishing, and kayak whenever they wish. Golfers feel right at home with Savannah Country Club right in their backyard. There are neighborhood pools, tennis courts, and unbeatable island views. But amidst all the adventure, the locals seem to live a laid-back coastal lifestyle.
Written by: Graham Sadler
Access to Jumbo Mortgages is becoming extremely difficult due to the COVID-19 situation, and this will have a direct impact on the ability of Buyers to purchase more expensive houses.
A Jumbo Loan is a type of financing that exceeds the limits set by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA). In Savannah the single-family house maximum amount for a conforming loan is $510,400 – although this amount does vary by region. Below this number loans are guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.
The Jumbo is a type of non-confirming loan designed to finance luxury properties and homes in competitive real estate markets like ours. These loans typically have more stringent requirements – higher credit scores, higher down payments, lower debt-to-income ratios – and also have higher interest rates.
The Jumbo Mortgage loan market is disappearing as some mortgage lenders face a liquidity issue. Typically, these loans, as with conforming mortgages, are bundled and sold to investors. Mortgage Servicers must continue to pay investors in the event of forbearance, where recently unemployed borrowers simply cannot pay. This may lead to a liquidity crisis for lenders without sufficient reserves. Only with the conforming loans backed by Fannie and Freddie are investors protected from losses in the event that homeowners don't pay.
Investor demand for Jumbo Mortgages has dried up as they turn to mortgage bonds for government backed loans, where investors get paid even if large numbers of borrowers are in forbearance. "Most mortgages get made by lenders who then sell it to someone else", says Greg McBride, Bankrate Chief Financial Analyst. "If there is no willing buyer, lenders will stop making loans so as not to be stuck holding the bag".
Wells Fargo Home Lending has suspended the purchase of non-confirming loans from correspondent sellers, effective immediately, until business conditions stabilize. Citi bank stated that they were offering Jumbo Loans as of last Thursday.
While some commentators nationally are suggesting that the jumbo is almost completely gone, in local markets buyers still have options, and Savannah is no exception as lenders have access to portfolio loans. However, as risk has increased the terms are tighter, and lenders want to see a loan-to-value ratio of 75% or lower. Add to that a reserve requirement of housing expenses (principal, interest, taxes, insurance – PITI) increased from 6 months to 12 months. Rates are still competitive – close to 4.75% for a fixed rate 30-year term – but factor in a 1% origination fee for anything above a 75% LTV. Borrowers can also take advantage of lower interest rates with 5- and 7-year adjustable rate.
All of this is subject to change at short notice, as Chris Vogler with BankSouth noted "the lending world is on fire right now as everyone tries to figure out how to navigate risk".
Based on current economic projections, with the economy creeping back to life in the 3rd quarter, lenders are poised to return to 'normal' standards. However, as with all sectors, if the virus situation drags on for an extended time the current terms will become the new normal.
More updates on the effects of the COVID-19 virus on the housing marketing to come. For more information or questions, please contact Graham Sadler.