Numbers Count: Home prices keep rising

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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: 37 months of rising home prices

Closeup on a vertical "For Sale" sign with townhouses extending behind it.Home prices increased by 5.9% in March from a year ago — the 37th consecutive monthly rise in home prices, according to the CoreLogic Home Price Index (HPI) released May 5. Colorado, Nebraska, New York, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, and Wyoming reached new highs, according to the March index. Colorado had the largest home price appreciation at 9.2%, followed by Texas at 8%, New York at 6.8%, Tennessee at 6%, Nebraska at 5.3%, Oklahoma at 4.6%, and Wyoming at 4.3%.

Home price appreciation is fastest among lower-priced homes, according to CoreLogic. Homes priced at least 75% below the national median home price increased 11% in March from a year ago.

What counts: In competitive housing markets where prices are rising, buyers may want to look for ways to increase their odds of getting into the home they desire. Here are a few tips:

1) Get pre-approved. As noted in previous articles, if you are truly in the market for a home and prepared to make an offer if you find the right place, then carefully consider getting a pre-approval letter from a lender. Making an offer with a pre-approval letter may reassure a seller that you have funds for the down payment and that you have a lender willing to provide the mortgage you need to buy a home.

2) Consider a larger down payment. Sometimes a buyer willing to invest more cash in a property may be seen as more committed and therefore more attractive to some sellers.

3) Remove contingencies. If you can avoid contingencies on an offer, that may sway some sellers interested in closing quickly. If, for example, your offer is contingent on you selling your current residence, some sellers may not want to accept that condition if they have multiple offers, including offers without contingencies.

4) Talk to your real estate agent. Ask your real estate agent to find out what’s important to the seller. Sometimes a seller wants to close quickly rather than simply take the highest offer. Conversely they may want flexibility to stay in the house until they find another home. Knowing the seller’s situation, you can tailor your offer to those needs. Including a buyer’s letter can strengthen your offer by explaining your interest in the property and your ability to close quickly or provide flexibility on a move-in date for a seller.

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