Numbers Count: Weekly mortgage data highlights
Numbers count. They matter to bankers and to prospective homebuyers, sellers, and real estate professionals. Here’s my take on the key numbers on the housing market this week.The numbers: Is it getting easier to buy a home?
A record-high 54% of consumers surveyed in February said they think it would be easy to get a home mortgage today, and those saying it would be difficult fell 4 points to a record low of 43%, according to Fannie Mae’s February 2015 National Housing Survey released March 9. The monthly survey, begun in mid-2010, found that 47% of respondents — an all-time high — said the economy is headed in the right direction, while those who said it is headed in the wrong direction decreased to 45%, a new survey low.What counts: Mortgage credit availability has been on a 3-year climb, with some dips here and there, and in February, mortgage lenders reported a further easing of credit — particularly for jumbo mortgages, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. This is a good combination heading into the spring home-buying season: lenders easing credit terms and more consumers feeling confident about their ability to get a mortgage.
If you are one of those confident consumers and are thinking of buying a home soon, here are two important things to consider:
- Get preapproved: A preapproval letter takes some of the worry out of the purchase process for the buyer and the seller. A preapproval letter indicates that, based on documented evidence of your finances, a lender is prepared to lend you a specific amount, pending completion of the mortgage application process. A preapproval letter may strengthen an offer on a home because it demonstrates the buyer can afford the property and has a lender waiting in the wings to provide a mortgage.
- File your taxes: If you plan to use your 2014 income to qualify for a mortgage, you may want to file your taxes sooner rather than later. If your income rose last year, the added income may help you qualify for a larger mortgage. Your lender will need two years of tax returns, so if you haven’t filed your 2014 tax return, then your loan qualification will be based on 2012 and 2013 income. If you have filed your most recent return and want to use your 2014 income to qualify for a mortgage, your lender will need an IRS-issued 2014 tax transcript. Without it, your loan application may be delayed. Consult a tax professional if you have questions.
Denver, San Francisco, Boston, San Diego, Dallas, and 15 other metro markets are seeing an uptick in inventory as we near the spring home-buying season, according to an analysis by Realtor.com. Realtor.com looked at listings and online views of its site for February and found there were significantly more homes for sale than a year ago.What counts: For sellers eager to sell, here are 3 tips to consider in the selling process:
- Price it right. Home prices have risen significantly in the past three years coming out of the recession. Real estate agents caution sellers against pricing a home too high and having it sit on the market too long. A study a couple of years ago, on the other hand, found potential advantages to pricing your home 10-20% higher than similar homes.
- Stage your home. Preparing to show a home for sale has become an art — from what colors to use and how to arrange the furniture to whether to leave your bathrobe hanging on the bathroom door. Investing some time in learning what works may pay off in the sale price and demand for your home.
- Remove your pets and their toys, water bowls, and litter boxes, so prospective buyers aren’t distracted or put off by pet odors and paraphernalia.