An Automated Valuation Model, AVM, is a computer approach that looks at public records to make a determination based on square footage, comparable sales and other elements. It is as easy as putting your address in a blank but unfortunately, AVM results may only be accurate about 20% of the time.
A popular AVM, Zestimate®, states “It is considered a starting point at determining a home’s value.” While an AVM contains some of the same information as a comparable market analysis, it lacks a critical human factor.
Having a pair of experienced eyes consider aspects that are not easily quantified can make a big difference. A skilled professional can tell which properties are truly comparable. A knowledgeable expert can recognize features, floorplans and other things that can affect value but are difficult to quantify.
Even if a person isn’t ready to sell their investment, they like to know its value. It is easy to find the price of stocks or mutual funds on any given day but the value of a home is more difficult.
Regardless of whether you’re just curious as to how much your home is worth or are ready to monetize your equity, I’m available to give you that information without obligation. If you’re not ready now, just keep this letter for when you are.
Homeowners should recognize that the same trusted professional who helped them buy or sell their home can be a valuable resource while they own their home too.
Think of your REALTOR® as an indispensable homeowner’s resource who can make recommendations about a variety of services that homeowners will use throughout the tenure in their home. This experience far exceeds personal experience because of the day-to-day activities working in the industry.
- To recommend reputable and reasonable service providers.
- To offer information about your community, nearby businesses and local agencies.
- To solicit general homeowner knowledge such as protesting your property tax assessment, determining fair market value, determining the best improvements and other things.
- To assist with advice and suggestions about maintenance, protecting value and saving money.
Our goal is to have a long-term relationship with you. We want to help you be a better homeowner not only when you need to buy or sell but all of the year’s in-between. We want to earn a recommendation to your friends. We want you to consider us your REALTOR® for life.
A variety of factors have led to a shortage of rental units, especially single family homes, and as a result, rents have been steadily increasing nationwide. In most markets, it is considerably less to own than to rent.
In some cases, the total house payment is less than the rent for a similar size and condition home which supports a purchase. However, when you factor in some of the financial benefits like principal reduction, appreciation and tax savings, the difference becomes even more dramatic.
Let’s look at an example of a $250,000 home with 3.5% down payment and a 4.50% mortgage for 30 years. We’ll assume a 3% annual appreciation, 25% federal tax bracket, $1,200 annual maintenance and current rent of $2,100 a month.
The total house payment with property taxes, insurance and mortgage insurance premium would be $1,834 a month. Once the principal reduction, appreciation, tax savings and maintenance have been considered, the net cost of housing is about $673 a month. It costs a tenant over $1,400 more a month to rent than to own which would amount to $17,000 in the first year alone. That’s almost twice as much as the down payment to get into the home.
In this example, the down payment of $8,750 grows to almost $94,000 in seven years due to appreciation and amortization of the loan. Owning a home is one of the few investments available that allow these personal and financial benefits.
One of the obstacles in the past five to seven years has been a borrower’s inability to qualify for a mortgage but new programs and relaxed requirements have allowed more people to be eligible for mortgages. The important step is to talk to a trusted mortgage professional very early in the home search process. Your REALTOR® can make recommendations based on experience from actual closed transactions.
Use the Rent vs. Own calculator to see what the benefits might be in your price range.
Rental homes have several distinct advantages compared to alternative investments. These advantages coupled with the opportunity for a higher yield make it a clear choice for some investors.
- Most investments must be paid for in cash. Stocks can be purchased with 50% cash but if the value goes down, more cash has to be used to keep the margin at 50%. Rentals can readily be financed with only 20-25% down payment.
- Most loans made for business or investment purposes are at a floating interest rate compared to the prevalent fixed-rate mortgage on non-owner occupied real estate.
- Terms for investment loans if possible are generally six months to a year with a possible renewal but real estate commonly has long term loans up to 30 years.
- Real estate has a long-term history of appreciation.
- Real estate enjoys tax advantages like long-term capital gains treatment, cost recovery and tax deferred exchanges that are not available to many other types of investments.
- Single family homes and similar properties give the investor a reasonable amount of control to make improvements and manage the property which are limited to simply determining when to buy and sell for other investments.
The ins and outs of stocks, bonds, mutual funds, commodities and other investments are unfamiliar with most people. It is obviously possible for anyone to invest in them but the lack of knowledge about how they work could make it more difficult to have a successful outcome. On the other hand, homeowners can use their experiences to select, manage and sell with much more confidence using a single family home for rental purposes.
To find out more about investing in rental properties, contact your real estate professional.
According to a Federal Reserve report on Consumer Finances, homeowners’ net worth is 36 times greater than that of renters. Building on that study, the National Association of REALTORS® believes that by the end of 2015, the factor will grow to 41 times greater.
There can be several factors that contribute to this disparity but an important one is the forced savings that is achieved due to an amortized mortgage. A portion of the payment goes to the reduction of the principal balance of the mortgage which increases equity in the home.
Appreciation is also a major contributor to homeowners’ equity. Homes, in most areas, have consistently increased in value over the long term and during the past four years have experienced solid growth. Many economists expect home prices to increase in the next five years.
Let’s look at a scenario where a qualified buyer considers three different options to see what their investment would be in five years: purchase a certificate of deposit, invest in the stock market or buy a home. The following assumptions are made: a $250,000 home with an $8,750 down payment with a 4.5% mortgage for 30 years and 3% annual appreciation; CD rate at 2% and a 5% return in the stock market.
The $8,750 would grow to $9,661 in the certificate of deposit, to $11,167 in the stock market and to $69,900 in equity with a home purchase. That is over a six times growth in the same period of time due to the amortization of the loan and the appreciation.
Check out Your Best Investment to compare possible differences in your price range.
It seems fairly innocuous; a friend or family member wants you to co-sign on a loan because they don’t qualify. They assure that they’ll make the payments; they’re quite convincing and very appreciative. You don’t want to disappoint them and after all, it’s not like it’s going to cost you anything…is it?
Think of it this way. They couldn’t get a loan unless you co-sign for them. If they don’t make the payments, the lender is going to look to you to repay the loan plus late and collection fees. The lender may be able to sue you, file a lien on your home or garnish your wages.
And it’s not just money that you could be losing, it could be your credit too. Co-signing a loan is a contingent liability that could affect your debt-to-income ratio and your ability to borrow.
Co-signing is an obligation to repay the debt if the other signer is unable. You could be out the money and unable to recoup the loss because you don’t have control of the asset. The impact on your credit could take years to recover.
Before you obligate yourself, consider all of the ramifications involved in co-signing a loan for someone.
As rates are inching up but still very affordable, buyers should remember that there is an alternative to a fixed rate mortgage that can provide the lowest cost of housing for the homeowners who understand the parameters.
A $300,000 fixed-rate mortgage at 4% has a principal and interest payment of $1,432.25 per month for the entire 30 year term. A 5/1 adjustable mortgage at 3% has a $167.43 lower payment for the first five years and then, can adjust, up or down, based on a predetermined index.
Another interesting fact is that the unpaid balance on the ARM at the end of the first five years is $4,624 lower than the fixed-rate mortgage. The total savings in the first five years on the ARM is $14,669.00.
Adjustable rate mortgages are not the right choice for everyone but buyers should at least consider the options based on their individual situation. It could be an obvious choice for a buyer who is only going to be in the home for five years or less.
Use the ARM Comparison worksheet to see what possible savings you could have based on your actual numbers. A trusted mortgage professional can help you to understand the advantages and disadvantages based on your situation. You need the facts to make the best decision.