Southwest Florida Real Estate and Community News

Homebuyers Are Getting Used to the New Normal




Before you decide to sell your house, it’s important to know what you can expect in the current housing market. One positive trend right now is homebuyers are adapting to today’s mortgage rates and getting used to them as the new normal.

To better understand what’s been happening with mortgage rates lately, the graph below shows the trend for the 30-year fixed mortgage rate from Freddie Mac since last October. As you can see, rates have been between 6% and 7% pretty consistently for the past nine months:

According to Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at the National Association of Realtors (NAR), mortgage rates play a significant role in buyer demand and, by extension, home sales. Yun highlights the positive impact of stable rates:

“Mortgage rates heavily influence the direction of home sales. Relatively steady rates have led to several consecutive months of consistent home sales.”

As a seller, hearing that home sales are consistent right now is good news. It means buyers are out there and actively purchasing homes. Here’s a bit more context on how mortgage rates have impacted demand recently.

When mortgage rates surged dramatically last year, escalating from roughly 3% to 7%, many potential buyers felt a bit of sticker shock and decided to hold off on their plans to purchase a home. However, as time has passed, that initial shock has worn off. Buyers have grown more accustomed to current mortgage rates and have accepted that the record-low rates of the last few years are behind us. As Doug Duncan, SVP and Chief Economist at Fannie Maesays:

“. . . consumers are adapting to the idea that higher mortgage rates will likely stick around for the foreseeable future.”

In fact, a recent survey by Freddie Mac reveals 18% of respondents say they’re likely to buy a home in the next six months. That means nearly one out of every five people surveyed plan to buy in the near future. And that goes to show buyers are planning to be active in the months ahead.

Of course, mortgage rates aren’t the sole factor affecting buyer demand. No matter where mortgage rates stand, people will always have reasons to move, whether it’s for job relocation, changing households, or any other personal motivation. As a seller, you can feel confident there is a market for your house today. And that demand is pretty strong as buyers settle into where rates are right now. 

Bottom Line

The way buyers perceive today’s mortgage rates is shifting – they’re getting used to the new normal. Steady rates are contributing to strong buyer demand and consistent home sales. Let’s connect so we can get your house on the market and in front of those buyers.

April 11, 2024

Why are builder building smaller homes?

Why are Builders Building Smaller Homes? Tom here from SWFLReal-Estate.com and building smaller homes is just one of several changes coming to the housing market. This move is all about Affordability. The cost of new build are driven by 4 different drivers. Cost of the dirt, design intricacies, fit and finish and of course the size of the home. 




There’s no arguing it, affordability is still tight. And if you’re trying to buy a home, that may mean you need to look at smaller houses to find one that’s still in your budget. But there is a silver lining: builders are focused on building these smaller homes right now and they’re offering incentives. And that can help give you more options that fit the bill.

Newly Built Homes Are Trending Smaller

During the pandemic, homebuyers wanted (and could afford) larger homes – and builders delivered. They focused on homes that were bigger, so people had more space for things like working from home, having a home gym, bonus rooms for virtual school, and more.

But with the affordability challenges buyers are facing today, builders are increasingly shifting their attention to bringing smaller single-family homes to the market. The graph below uses data from the Census to show how this trend has evolved over the last few years:

a graph of a number of blue bars

 

So, why the shift to less square footage? It’s simple. Builders want to build what they know will sell. Basically, they focus on where the demand is strongest. And once mortgage rates started climbing and consumers felt the challenges of affordability creeping in, it became clear there was (and is) a very real need for smaller homes. As the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) explains:

“After a brief increase during the post-covid building boom, home size is trending lower and will likely continue to do so as housing affordability remains constrained.”

A recent article in the Real Deal says this about how this helps buyers:

Even a slightly smaller home can be thousands of dollars cheaper — for both builders and buyers. . . In response to affordability challenges, major homebuilders are shifting priorities away from the big ticket homes and towards the cheaper set.”

What This Means for You

If you’re having a hard time finding something in your budget, it may help to look at smaller homes. And, if you consider new builds specifically, you may find a few other fringe benefits that can help on the affordability front – like price reductions or mortgage rate buy-downs. As NAHB says:

“More than one-third of builders cut home prices in 2023. NAHB expects builders to continue offering smaller homes and more affordable designs as housing affordability remains a barrier to homeownership.”

As Charlie Bilello, Chief Market Strategist, at Creative Planningexplains:

“Homebuilders are adapting to the lowest affordability on record by building smaller homes and offering more incentives/price cuts. The median square footage of a new single-family home in the US has moved down to its lowest level since 2010.”

If you explore these options, you’ll also get brand new everything, enjoy a house with fewer maintenance needs, and some of the latest features available. That’s worth looking into, right? 

Bottom Line and side note! Smaller homes simpler to build so they are finished quicker so you start to capture appreciation sooner. This is one solution to the housing shortage AND Affordability issue in America. 

Builders building smaller homes can give you more affordable options at a time when you may really need it. If you’re hoping to buy a home soon, let’s connect to look at what’s available in our area. TomFMiller7@gmail.com

 

 

April 10, 2024

Should I Move with Today’s Mortgage Rates

Should I Move with Today’s Mortgage Rates?

Tom here from SWFLReal-Estate.com. I speak to clients everyday and a common topic if not the most discuss is interest rates. While they have diffed down manying are waiting for them to drop lower. Ok, everyone has "their rate" the point where they are willing to get off the fence and buy the home but a new twist is that many are now excepting where the rates are at and they are as the new reality. Gone are the days of super low rate and people see the reality that they are not coming back. While rates will continue to drop the reality IS they will land around the 5-6% range and be there for many years.




When mortgage rates spiked up over the last few years, some homeowners put their plans to move on pause. Maybe you did too because you didn’t want to sell and take on a higher mortgage rate for your next home. But is that still the right strategy for you?

In today’s market, data shows more homeowners are getting used to where rates are and thinking it may be time to move. As Mark Zandi, Chief Economist at Moody’s Analyticsexplains:

“Listings are up a bit as life events and job changes are putting increasing pressure on locked-in homeowners to sell their homes. Homeowners may also be slowly coming to the realization that mortgage rates aren’t going back anywhere near the rate on their existing mortgage.

recent study from Bank of America sheds light on some of the things homeowners say would make them sell, even with rates where they are right now (see visual below):

a group of blue and white icons

 

What Would Motivate You To Move?

Now that you know why other people would move, take a minute to think about what would make a move worth it for you. Is it time to take a chance and go for your dream job, even though it’s not local? Are you looking for a neighborhood that has more to offer and a close-knit sense of community? Maybe you just need more space, you’re looking for your next great adventure, or you want a house that opens up rental opportunities to pad your income.

And here’s something else to consider. Mortgage rates are still expected to go down over the course of the year. And once that happens, there’s going to be a big rush of buyers jumping back into the market. While you could delay your plans until rates drop, you’ll only have more competition with those buyers if you do.

So, does that mean it’s worth it to move now, even with rates where they are? The answer is: that it depends.

You'll want to consider today’s mortgage rates, where they’re expected to go from here, and what would prompt you to want to make a change as you decide on your next steps. An expert can help with that. 

Bottom Line

Other homeowners are getting used to rates and deciding to move. Let’s chat to go over what matters most to you and if it’s time for you to jump back into the market too. 

April 2, 2024

What you need to know about closing costs.

What Every Homebuyer Should Know About Closing Costs. Rule of thumb, it takes between 2% to 5% to buy a home! Let talk about what you need to do now or how we can save you $$ 

 SWFLReal-Estate.com

 




Before making the decision to buy a home, it's important to plan for all the costs you’ll be responsible for. While you're busy saving for the down payment, don't forget you’ll want to prep for closing costs too.

Here’s some helpful information on what those costs are and how much you should budget for them.

What Are Closing Costs?

A recent article from Bankrate explains:

Closing costs are the fees and expenses you must pay before becoming the legal owner of a house, condo or townhome . . . Closing costs vary depending on the purchase price of the home and how it’s being financed . . .”

Simply put, your closing costs are the additional fees and payments you have to make at closing. According to Freddie Mac, while they can vary by location and situation, closing costs typically include:

  • Government recording costs
  • Appraisal fees
  • Credit report fees
  • Lender origination fees
  • Title services
  • Tax service fees
  • Survey fees
  • Attorney fees
  • Underwriting Fees

How Much Are Closing Costs?

According to the same Freddie Mac article mentioned above, they’re typically between 2% and 5% of the total purchase price of your home. With that in mind, here’s how you can get an idea of what you’ll need to budget.

Let’s say you find a home you want to purchase at today’s median price of $384,500. Based on the 2-5% Freddie Mac estimate, your closing fees could be between roughly $7,690 and $19,225.

But keep in mind, if you’re in the market for a home above or below this price range, your closing costs will be higher or lower.

Make Sure You’re Prepared To Close

Freddie Mac provides great advice for homebuyers, saying:

“As you start your homebuying journey, take the time to get a sense of all costs involved – from your down payment to closing costs.”

The best way to do that is by partnering with a team of trusted real estate professionals. That gives you a group of experts to help you understand how much you’ll need to save and what you’ll want to be prepped for. It also means you have go-to resources for any questions that pop up along the way.

Bottom Line

Planning for the fees and payments you'll need to cover when you're closing on your home is important. Partnering with a local real estate professional can give you the guidance and confidence you need throughout the process.

April 2, 2024

Why over pricing your home can cost you money!

@ SWFLReal-Estate.com we give you the market info you need to price your to sell quickly and for the most amount of money! See Why Overpricing Your House Can Cost You!




If you’re trying to sell your house, you may be looking at this spring season as the sweet spot – and you’re not wrong. We’re still in a seller’s market because there are so few homes for sale right now. And historically, this is the time of year when more buyers move, and competition ticks up. That makes this an exciting time to put up that for sale sign.

But while conditions are great for sellers like you, you’ll still want to be strategic when it comes time to set your asking price. That’s because pricing your house too high may actually cost you in the long run.

The Downside of Overpricing Your House

The asking price for your house sends a message to potential buyers. From the moment they see your listing, the price and the photos are what’s going to make the biggest first impression. And, if it’s priced too high, you may turn people away. As an article from U.S. News Real Estate says:

Even in a hot market where there are more buyers than houses available for sale, buyers aren't going to pay attention to a home with an inflated asking price.”

That’s because no homebuyer wants to pay more than they have to, especially not today. Many are already feeling the pinch on their budget due to ongoing home price appreciation and today’s mortgage rates. And if they think your house is overpriced, they may write it off without even stepping foot in the front door, or simply won’t make an offer if they think it’s priced too high.

If that happens, it’s going to take longer to sell. And ideally you don’t want to have to think about doing a price drop to try to re-ignite interest in your house. Why? Some buyers will see the price cut as a red flag and wonder why the price was reduced, or they’ll think something is wrong with the house the longer it sits. As an article from Forbes explains:

“It’s not only the price of an overpriced home that turns buyers off. There’s also another negative component that kicks in. . . . if your listing just sits there and accumulates days on the market, it will not be a good look. . . . buyers won’t necessarily ask anyone what’s wrong with the home. They’ll just assume that something is indeed wrong, and will skip over the property and view more recent listings.”

Your Agent’s Role in Setting the Right Price

Instead, pricing it at or just below current market value from the start is a much better strategy. So how do you find that ideal asking price? You lean on the pros. Only an agent has the expertise needed to research and figure out the current market value for your home.

They’ll factor in the condition of your house, any upgrades you’ve made, and what other houses like yours are selling for in your area. And they’ll use all of that information to find that target number. The right price will bring in more buyers and make it more likely you’ll see multiple offers too. Plus, when homes are priced right, they still tend to sell quickly.

Bottom Line

Even though you want to bring in top dollar when you sell, setting the asking price too high may deter buyers and slow down the sales process.

Let’s connect to find the right price for your house, so we can maximize your profit and still draw in eager buyers willing to make competitive offers.

March 26, 2024

What's the latest on Mortgages Rates?

SWFLReal-Estate.com asks "What’s the Latest with Mortgage Rates"?  They will be heading down !! Get Ready!!




Recent headlines may leave you wondering what’s next for mortgage ratesMaybe you’d previously heard there were going to be cuts this year that would bring rates down. That refers to the Federal Reserve (the Fed) and what they do to their Fed Funds Rate. While cutting, or lowering, the Fed Funds Rate doesn’t directly determine mortgage rates, it does tend to impact them. But when the Fed met last week, a cut didn’t happen — at least, not yet. 

There are a lot of factors the Fed considered in their recent decision and most of them are complex. But you don’t need to be bogged down by those finer details. What you really want is the answer to this question: does that mean mortgage rates aren’t going to fall? Here’s what you need to know. 

Mortgage Rates Are Still Expected To Drop This Year

While it hasn’t happened yet, that doesn’t mean it won’t. Even Jerome Powell, the Chairman of the Fedsays they still plan to make cuts this year, assuming inflation cools:

“We believe that our policy rate is likely at its peak for this tightening cycle and that, if the economy evolves broadly as expected, it will likely be appropriate to begin dialing back policy restraint at some point this year.”

When this happens, history shows mortgage rates will likely follow. That means hope isn’t lost. As a recent article from Business Insider explains:

“As inflation comes down and the Fed is able to start lowering rates, mortgage rates should go down, too. . .

What This Means for You

But you don’t necessarily want to wait for it to happen. Mortgage rates are notoriously hard to forecast. There are so many factors at play and any one of those can change the projections as the economy shifts. And it’s why the experts offer this advice. As Mark Fleming, Chief Economist at First American, says:

“Well, mortgage rate projections are just that, projections, not promises and don't forget how hard it is to forecast them. . . So my advice is to never try to time the market . . . If one is financially prepared and buying a home aligns with your lifestyle goals, then it could be the right time to purchase. And there's always the refinance option if mortgage rates are lower in the future.”

Basically, if you’re looking to move and trying to time the market, don’t. If you’re ready, willing, and able to move, it may still be worth it to do it now, especially if you can find the home you’ve been searching for.

Bottom Line

If you’re looking to buy a home, let’s connect so you have someone keeping you up-to-date on mortgage rates and helping you make the best decision possible.

March 25, 2024

What Every Homebuyer Should Know About Closing Costs

At SWFLReal-Estate.com its all about giving you the information you need to make YOUR best decision! So this is BLOG is

"What Every Homebuyer Should Know About Closing Costs!

 

Remember there are out of pocket cost just to check out a property as well ( inspections and appraisal ) 




Before making the decision to buy a home, it's important to plan for all the costs you’ll be responsible for. While you're busy saving for the down payment, don't forget you’ll want to prep for closing costs too.

Here’s some helpful information on what those costs are and how much you should budget for them.

What Are Closing Costs?

A recent article from Bankrate explains:

Closing costs are the fees and expenses you must pay before becoming the legal owner of a house, condo or townhome . . . Closing costs vary depending on the purchase price of the home and how it’s being financed . . .”

Simply put, your closing costs are the additional fees and payments you have to make at closing. According to Freddie Mac, while they can vary by location and situation, closing costs typically include:

  • Government recording costs
  • Appraisal fees
  • Credit report fees
  • Lender origination fees
  • Title services
  • Tax service fees
  • Survey fees
  • Attorney fees
  • Underwriting Fees

How Much Are Closing Costs?

According to the same Freddie Mac article mentioned above, they’re typically between 2% and 5% of the total purchase price of your home. With that in mind, here’s how you can get an idea of what you’ll need to budget.

Let’s say you find a home you want to purchase at today’s median price of $384,500. Based on the 2-5% Freddie Mac estimate, your closing fees could be between roughly $7,690 and $19,225.

But keep in mind, if you’re in the market for a home above or below this price range, your closing costs will be higher or lower.

Make Sure You’re Prepared To Close

Freddie Mac provides great advice for homebuyers, saying:

“As you start your home buying journey, take the time to get a sense of all costs involved – from your down payment to closing costs.”

The best way to do that is by partnering with a team of trusted real estate professionals. That gives you a group of experts to help you understand how much you’ll need to save and what you’ll want to be prepped for. It also means you have go-to resources for any questions that pop up along the way.

Bottom Line

Planning for the fees and payments you'll need to cover when you're closing on your home is important. Partnering with a local real estate professional can give you the guidance and confidence you need throughout the process.

March 20, 2024

Does buying a house make sense now?

Does It Make Sense To Buy a Home Right Now? When I have conversation with clients this  topic almost always comes up! Where will the market be next year? or where is it heading? basically the conversation goes, where was it five years ago? It was lower, so I ask where will it be in five years? My clients say it will be higher. We know the likely hood of the market heading up is high so question answered! They are really asking for confirmation and support.           SWFLReal-Estate.com




Thinking about buying a home? If so, you're probably wondering: should I buy now or wait? Nobody can make that decision for you, but here's some information that can help you decide.

What’s Next for Home Prices?

Each quarter, Fannie Mae and Pulsenomics publish the results of the Home Price Expectations Survey (HPES). It asks more than 100 experts—economists, real estate professionals, and investment and market strategists—what they think will happen with home prices.

In the latest survey, those experts say home prices are going to keep going up for the next five years (see graph below):

 a graph of green bars

 

Here’s what all the green on this chart should tell you. They’re not expecting any price declines. Instead, they’re saying we’ll see a 3-4% rise each year.

And even though home prices aren’t expected to climb by as much in 2025 as they are 2024, keep in mind these increases can really add up over time. It works like this. If these experts are right and your home's value goes up by 3.78% this year, it's set to grow another 3.36% next year. And another 3.87% the year after that.

What Does This Mean for You?

Knowing that prices are forecasted to keep going up should make you feel good about buying a home. That’s because it means your home is an asset that’s projected to grow in value in the years ahead.

If you’re not convinced yet, maybe these numbers will get your attention. They show how a typical home’s value could change over the next few years using expert projections from the HPES. Check out the graph below:

 a graph of growth in a chart

 

In this example, imagine you bought a home for $400,000 at the start of this year. Based on these projections, you could end up gaining over $83,000 in household wealth over the next five years as your home grows in value.

Of course, you could also wait – but if you do, buying a home is just going to end up costing you more. 

Bottom Line

If you're thinking it's time to get your own place, and you’re ready and able to do so, buying now might make sense. Your home is expected to keep getting more valuable as prices go up. Let’s team up to start looking for your next home today.

March 18, 2024

What Is your Rate?

What Mortgage Rate Do You Need To Move? This a great quest we all need to ask yourself! So many clients are pausing waiting to pull the trigger. So what rate is your trigger? SWFLReal-Estate.com




If you’ve been thinking about buying a home, mortgage rates are probably top of mind for you. They may even be why you’ve put your plans on hold for now. When rates climbed near 8% last year, some buyers found the numbers just didn’t make sense for their budget anymore. That may be the case for you too.

Data from Bright MLS shows the top reason buyers delayed their plans to move is due to high mortgage rates (see graph below):

 a graph of blue rectangles with text

 

David Childers, CEO at Keeping Current Matters, speaks to this statistic in the recent How’s The Market podcast:

“Three quarters of buyers said ‘we’re out’ due to mortgage rates. Here’s what I know going forward. That will change in 2024.”

That’s because mortgage rates have come down off their peak last October. And while there’s still day-to-day volatility in rates, the longer-term projections show rates should continue to drop this year, as long as inflation gets under control. Experts even say we could see rates below 6% by the end of 2024. And that threshold would be a gamechanger for a lot of buyers. As a recent article from Realtor.com says:

Buying a home is still desired and sought after, but many people are looking for mortgage rates to come down in order to achieve it. Four out of 10 Americans looking to buy a home in the next 12 months would consider it possible if rates drop below 6%.”

While mortgage rates are nearly impossible to forecast, the optimism from the experts should give you insight into what’s ahead. If your plans were delayed, there’s light at the end of the tunnel again. That means it may be time to start thinking about your move. The best question you can ask yourself right now, is this:

What number do I want to see rates hit before I’m ready to move?

The exact percentage where you feel comfortable kicking off your search again is personal. Maybe it’s 6.5%. Maybe it’s 6.25%. Or maybe it’s once they drop below 6%.

Once you have that number in mind, here’s what you do. Connect with a local real estate professional. They’ll help you stay informed on what’s happening. And when rates hit your target, they’ll be the first to let you know. 

Bottom Line

If you’ve put your plans to move on hold because of where mortgage rates are, think about the number you want to see rates hit that would make you ready to re-enter the market.

 

Once you have that number in mind, let’s connect so you have someone on your side to let you know when we get there.

March 14, 2024

North Fort Myers, Has their time Come?

How Lee County leaders hope a North Fort Myers project can revitalize the area

By Ryan Kruger,

19 hours ago
North Fort Myers has alway been a inexpensive place to live and the red headed step child  to Fort Myers and Cape Coral, but it also has been place that has great potential. Hurricanes are many things and most of them bad but they are also engines for change with the coming of Hurricane IAN  and the destruction it caused to the areas just off of both Fort Myers bridges and coupled with the continued growth of the River district now is the time, long awaited time, for North Fort Myers to get some attention and what we see there now versus 5 years from now will be quite different!. 
https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=4K7Gal_0rrFNrPK00

When you drive over the Caloosahatchee River into North Fort Myers, one of the first things you see off of Cleveland Avenue is a giant, vacant eyesore.

The former home of the Hancock Bridge Square, a once bustling shopping area, has sat vacant for years.

“That was the place to go if you needed anything,” said Lee County Commissioner Brian Hamman, who grew up in the area. “It had a Walmart and a grocery store. But once the two big anchors closed down, the smaller tenants didn’t stand a chance because they didn’t get the customers that they used to get. Eventually, the entire plaza closed down.”

Last week, the Lee BOCC approved a performance incentive grant of up to $200,000 for the redevelopment of Hancock Bridge Square.

The performance-based grant is intended to incentivize Mast Capital, which has plans to build up to 300 apartments at the site, according to the county.

As Lee County’s population has boomed in recent years, North Fort Myers has remained stagnant.

It’s a pass-through community for many commuters heading from Cape Coral to Fort Myers.

“I’ve talked to the businesses around Hancock Square and many of them told me, ‘why am I gonna fix my business up if I’m going to be next to this eyesore? Why invest my money if they’re not gonna look any good?’” said Hamman.

The North Fort Myers Revitalization Incentives program was first created in 2018.

Since then, $2 million has been appropriated to developers working to revitalize the area.

“People are hesitant to invest money in their business if they’re next to an eyesore,” said Hamman.

“Now that we’ve got some of the bigger, vacant buildings knocked down or in the process of being rebuilt as something beautiful. I think that will be a catalyst for the rest of the area to clean things up and bring more customers in.”

March 14, 2024

Why todays sellers market is good for your bottom line!

Why Today’s Seller’s Market Is Good for Your Bottom Line




Thinking about selling your house and wondering if now’s a good time to do it? Here’s what you need to know. Even though the number of homes for sale has been growing this year, there still aren’t enough homes on the market for all the buyers who want to buy.

So, what does that mean for you? To keep it simple, it means it’s still a seller’s market. Here’s how it works:

  • neutral market is when supply and demand is balanced. Basically, there are enough homes to meet buyer demand based on the current sales pace, and home prices hold fairly steady.
  • buyer’s market is when there are more homes for sale than there are buyers. When that happens, buyers have more negotiation power because sellers are willing to make compromises to close the deal. In a buyer’s market, sellers may have to do price cuts to re-ignite interest in their home, and prices may go down. But we haven’t seen this for years since there are so few homes available to buy.
  • In a seller’s market, it’s just the opposite. When the supply of homes for sale is as low as it is right now, it’s much harder for buyers to find homes to purchase. That creates increased competition among purchasers which can lead to more bidding wars. And if buyers know they may be entering a bidding war, they’re going to do their best to submit a very attractive offer upfront. This could drive the final sale price of your house up.

The graph below uses data from the National Association of Realtors to show just how deep into seller’s market territory we still are today:

 a screenshot of a chart

 

What Does This Mean for You?

The market is still working in your favor. If you lean on an agent for advice on how to get your house list ready and how to price it competitively, it should get a lot of attention from eager buyers. That means you’ll likely get multiple offers and see your house sell quickly and for top dollar. As a recent article from Ramsey Solutions explains:

A seller’s market is when demand for homes is higher than the supply of homes. And that’s still the case right now. If you’re planning to sell your house, you can expect to sell it fairly quickly for close to your asking price—as long as your asking price is realistic for the current market.”

Bottom Line

Today’s housing market still favors sellers and with dropping interest rates buyers are now considering coming off the fence and buying. With limited inventory, the simple rule of "supply and demand" will kick in and prices will rise. If you’re ready to sell your house, let’s connect to discuss what's right for you and what's important to you! Many times a seller has sufficient funds from the sale of their current home to pay cash for their forever home and possible invest some into cash flow properties or investments generate funds. Let's talk, call Tom @ 239-313-9209 or we can connect through   SWFLReal-Estate.com,