Fort Lauderdale Mortgage Rate Outlook: Rates Rising?

The Fort Lauderdale mortgage rate outlook this spring is creating a sense of urgency on the part of prospective home purchasers. With interest rates having edged up slightly and home prices rising continuously, many borrowers are making a beeline to apply for home loans. Their rationale is the sooner they act, the more they potentially will save – on interest rate charges and home price increases.

Interestingly, home purchasers are electing to take out adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs) in unusually high numbers in hopes they can handle the Fort Lauderdale mortgage rate outlook of potentially higher rates and save money on their mortgage payments in the first few years.

 The latest Fort Lauderdale mortgage rate outlook has caused some prospective home buyers and borrowers to apply for home loans before rates go even higher.

Mortgage activity has been on the rise in recent weeks, having increased nearly 3.5% from one week to the next, based on the most recent report from the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA.) Despite the week over week increase, total mortgage volume is roughly 18% lower than it was during the same period in 2016. Experts say the lower volume has more to do with the decrease in the number of refinance applications than it does with the Fort Lauderdale mortgage rate outlook. While most borrowers refinanced a year ago when interest rates were at or near record lows, there is still some refinance activity in the mortgage marketplace. The volume of refinance loans is down 34% so far this year, but mortgage lenders have seen an increase of more than 5% in recent weeks – based on consumer fears that the Fort Lauderdale mortgage rate outlook might include higher interest rates moving forward.

Some analysts attribute the rush to refinance to recent remarks made by key Federal Reserve officials indicating what wound up being another interest rate increase in March. In addition, other economic factors came into play such as the recent Gross Domestic Product (GDP,) manufacturing results and inflation projections. While mortgage interest rates really are not directly tied to federal funds rates – upward or downward – a rate increase by the Federal Reserve could still make mortgage interest rates increase, only time will tell on this for sure. Fed funds rates are generally more short-term in nature, while mortgage rates are longer term, of course.

How will the Fort Lauderdale mortgage rate outlook impact the usually brisk spring real estate sales season? While the true impact remains to be seen, economists say demand on the part of home buyers is still high. The problem, they contend – which is of greater concern than the prospect of higher interest rates – is affordable homes are still in short supply. The inventory shortages that occurred during much of 2016 have carried over into 2017, and don’t appear to be improving anytime soon. Since a good portion of the housing demand is on the part of millennials and first-time buyers, the inventory shortage is of major concern.

As mentioned above, one of the results of the recent Fort Lauderdale mortgage rate outlook is more buyers are opting for adjustable rate mortgage solutions in an effort to save money since the ARMs offer lower interest rates for a certain time period. Statistics reported by the MBA showed that the ARM share of recent mortgage lending applications was the highest since 2014. The results simply highlight the concern borrowers have for higher interest rates, and in spite of the indications, home demand remains high going into the spring. In addition to the ARM share of applications reaching a three-year high, the average loan size for applications to purchase homes reached a high of $313,000. This is the result of two different factors. First-time buyers tend to impact the higher mortgage amounts less than buyers in the market who are moving up and buying bigger, newer and more expensive homes.

The Fort Lauderdale mortgage rate outlook may have a definite impact on the spring market, however, all early indications are that due to high demand and the overall impression that interest rates – despite their slight upward tick in recent months – are still relatively low. Many borrowers remember when interest rates were in the 8%-9% range for a number of years. With that in mind, rates roughly 50% as high are veritable bargains today – in spite of the higher home prices that exist in today’s real estate market.

More first-time borrowers are going to faced with the dilemma of continuing to pay higher rents versus putting their monthly payments into paying a mortgage and building equity in a home of their own. The home participation or home ownership rate reached an all-time low in 2016, but the trend seems to be one of slight improvement during 2017. Time, as usual, will tell as first-timers decide what to do and when to do it. Housing inventory, as already cited, will determine a great deal as the market needs starter homes and more affordably priced houses to meet the demands of some of the first-time home buyers. In addition, there needs to be a larger supply of “move-up” homes for that segment of the buying public that’s ready to expand into a larger home, a better neighborhood or a newer home.

You can find more articles pertaining to the Fort Lauderdale mortgage rate outlook in the "Fort Lauderdale Mortgage Info" section of articles just below Fort Lauderdale Real Estate Categories in the column to your right.

Fort Lauderdale Home Improvement Ideas: Ready, Set, Sell!

Fort Lauderdale home improvement ideas usually are reserved for homeowners who want to make their homes bigger, more attractive or more modern. However, many home improvement steps can be taken to prepare your home when it comes time to sell. If you’ve made the decision to sell your home, it’s not just a good idea – sometimes it’s a necessity – to make your home as attractive and presentable as possible for prospective buyers. Here’s how.

Be Ready to Hit the Market Running Listing your home for sale isn’t a decision to be made lightly. In addition, putting your home on the market before you’re ready or it’s ready can severely hamper your ability to sell it for its full value. Make sure you prepare your home for the real estate marketplace. Follow these Fort Lauderdale home improvement ideas and make the best impression you can for potential buyers to sell your home quickly and for the best price.

Fort Lauderdale home improvement ideas include de-cluttering the house in preparation for selling it.

Clean and Declutter Your Home While it may sound cliche’ to some, we can’t emphasize enough how important it is to make sure your home is clean and free from unsightly clutter. Follow these steps and you’ll be glad you did when you receive an offer that’s at or near your full asking price.

  • Remove as much clutter as possible before you start to clean. There's no better time to get rid of unwanted items and things you’re just tired of staring at each day (we’re talking about objects, not family members!) You can donate unneeded items to a local charity, or have a yard sale if you have larger items. In addition, recycling companies are usually more than happy to come pick up large metal items – often at no charge.
     
  • Give your house a good deep-cleaning. While this step will take the largest investment of time, it will also yield the best results. Try to involve the entire family and assign everybody a task or two. Make sure you give necessary attention to the bathrooms and kitchen – lots of women who will ultimately make the decision on the house purchase will be looking them over closely. Lastly, clean the inside and the outside of your home’s windows. You’ll be surprised how it will make your home sparkle – and buyers will notice!
     
  • Take the time to organize your closets, cabinets and drawers. Don't just stuff them with things you want to get out of the way. You’ll be surprised at how many prospective buyers will open cabinets and closets so they can get an idea of the amount of storage space they contain. Clean, organized cabinets, drawers and closets will give the buyers the impression that you take care of the home – which may translate into a feeling that the rest of the home and its systems are well-maintained, too.

Make Do-it-Yourself Repairs One of the next Fort Lauderdale home improvement ideas – and possibly one of the least expensive – is to perform various repairs to your home you can take care of all by yourself with a little time and know-how.

  • Fix leaky faucets and running toilets
  • Replace the caulking around showers, tubs and sinks
  • Repair or replace grout, if necessary
  • Repair cracks, stains, or nail holes in walls and repaint them in a neutral color
  • Fix cracked, broken or discolored windows
  • Replace or repair damaged or missing window screens
  • Replace burned-out light bulbs or fluorescent tubes

Improve Your Home’s Curb Appeal The old adage, “You never get a second chance to make a good first impression” is never truer than when you’re showing your home to prospective purchasers. If they don’t like what they see in exterior photos online or in person, chances are they may not look further. And, if your home’s curb appeal is just “average,” most buyers may adopt the feeling the rest of the home is “average,” as well. You want to “wow” your buyers. Make them love what they see on the outside and they will look forward to seeing the rest of the house. Consider these “spruce-up” tips for your home’s outside, too.

  • Trim the bushes, shrubs and trees in your yard
  • Fix broken downspouts and gutters
  • Apply new mulch as needed to give your planted areas a fresh, clean look
  • Clean and repair concrete or stone areas such as driveways and walkways. Pay close attention to oil stains and weeds or grass growing through the cracks.
  • Add some flowers to give your lawn and garden a little more color. Add a new doormat to your doorstep or front porch area. Ensure that the house numbers are clean and easy to see.

As you can see, with a relatively small amount of time, attention and expense to your home, these and a few of your own Fort Lauderdale home improvement ideas will help you give it a renewed appearance – making it more attractive inside and out to prospective home shoppers.

You can find more articles pertaining to Fort Lauderdale home improvement ideas in the Fort Lauderdale Home Improvements section of our site below Fort Lauderdale Real Estate Categories in the column to your right.

Fort Lauderdale Real Estate Interest Rates and Affordability

Recent trends have seen Fort Lauderdale real estate interest rates rise slightly over the past couple of months. While prospective home buyers may feel disillusioned by rising rates, let's take a look at what it may mean for them and the possibility of becoming homeowners.

As mortgage rates increase, naturally, the amount of home you can purchase decreases. In other words, the higher the interest rate, the higher the payment — and perhaps the lower the mortgage amount must be to be affordable. Borrowers need not be completely dismayed however, as there is flexibility among mortgage lenders and their qualification guidelines. Let's take a short revisit of the rate fluctuations since the presidential elections of this past November and review how interest rates have affected home affordability. How will recent Fort Lauderdale real estate trends affect the housing market?

Fort Lauderdale real estate interest rates have risen slightly over the past couple of months.

A Recap of Fort Lauderdale Real Estate Interest Rates and the Outlook for the Future

Between the election on November 8 and Christmas of 2016, Fort Lauderdale real estate interest rates went up .75%. The rate increase was fueled in part by the feeling on the part of the American public that the new administration would enact policies of infrastructure spending, tax cuts, and a certain amount of deregulation that, once enacted, would be inflationary. In addition the skyrocketing gains in the stock market pushed the bond yields downward, and since mortgage rates are very closely tied to the US Treasury bond rates, mortgage rates had nowhere to go but up.

Most savvy economists felt when interest rates rose, they would also level off in time. And, while that is happening, it is still volatile at best. Interest rates go up and down literally daily in response to investors reacting to policies of the new administration. When investors exhibit concern that post-election inflation will continue to occur, the rates go higher. Conversely, when investors feel inflation will be softened by certain policies, delays in action, or hindrances, rates will come down.

The bottom line for interest rates is the post-election peak seems to be over, and the net result is an interest rate increase of roughly .5% since the election.

Experts predict continued rate volatility as stock market investors and the Federal Reserve work to gauge interest rate movement as part of the new government administration. Here's how that volatility is expected to impact housing activity.

The Effect of Fort Lauderdale Real Estate Interest Rates on Home Affordability

According to experts, a $350,000 home purchase on which a prospective borrower plans to put down 20%, a rate increase of .5% reduces the affordability by roughly $17,000.

While such a decrease in affordability may tend to make a prospective homebuyer look for a lower-priced home, there are other alternatives — especially if you're familiar with how most mortgage lenders operate.

For decades, mortgage lenders have used a debt-to-income (DTI) ratio in their qualification guidelines. A DTI compares the relationship of your total monthly recurring debt to your gross monthly income. Mortgage lenders typically like to see a DTI of 43% or less.

Borrowers earning, say, $65,000 annually with monthly obligations such as an auto loan and credit card bills totaling $615 per month may have qualified for the $350,000 home mentioned above. However, at a slightly higher interest rate of .5% more, they may not. Here’s why: At the income and debt totals currently, the DTI ratio was less than 43%. With the rate increase, it’s climbed to over 44%. At first glance, the only solution is to work to reduce the purchase price down to $333,000 (the original $350,000 less the $17,000 by which the affordability was reduced.) That would reduce your DTI back to a level less than 43%. However, let’s consider an alternative.

Increasing Home Affordability

Rather than trying to get the price reduced by $17,000, most experts recommend lowering your other recurring debt. As an example, a monthly credit card payment of $125 with a remaining balance of $3,125 can be reduced to roughly $45 per month by paying down the balance by just $2,000. Honestly, that may be a much easier solution and a much softer sell than trying to get the seller to come down $17,000.

Analyzing Fort Lauderdale Real Estate Interest Rates and Trends to Make the Best Decisions

It’s important to keep an eye on interest rates and other changes in the marketplace. Remember, in much the same way that the old adage, “All real estate is local,” all mortgage lending is individual. What that means is every situation is different and everyone’s DTI is comprised of components that may be changed slightly to improve the qualification percentage. Don’t make the erroneous assumption that rising rates will always reduce the price a borrower may qualify for.

See more articles pertaining to the latest Fort Lauderdale real estate interest rates and trends in the section of articles on Fort Lauderdale Real Estate just below Fort Lauderdale Real Estate Categories in the column to your right.

Fort Lauderdale Economic News: Millennials and Housing

In recent Fort Lauderdale economic news, it appears home buyers and home sellers are entering the coming spring selling season with a feeling of optimism. Despite interest rates moving slightly upward and home prices continuing to rise, housing sentiment is increasing as well.

Fannie Mae publishes an index each month that ranks buyers’ sentiment. The most recent report showed buyers’ sentiment about the spring real estate sales season has risen to the highest level in six years, in part, due to a strong showing by millennial purchasers.

Millennials are entering the housing market and that's making Fort Lauderdale economic news.

The millennials segment of the home buying population mentioned solid increases in employment confidence and income gains, which go hand-in-hand for first-time home purchasers – creating increased demand in the housing market. And while millennials are finally making the move out of mom and dad’s basement or spare bedroom faster than ever, the majority are still destined to rent, according to Fannie Mae’s research and statistics. As the supply of affordable inventory in the housing market continues to plague many millennials, so too does the higher price appreciation. Simply put, most millennials still find it challenging to afford to purchase their first home.

However, an ever-increasing number of millennials are entering the housing market and that’s making Fort Lauderdale economic news. The same millennials that had put off marriage and having families are slowly turning their thoughts to home ownership. Recent research shows roughly 50% of millennial families have at least one child. That represents an increase of nearly 5% from last year and 7% two years ago. Real estate experts say children in the family is the most common reason young couples buy their first homes. With the U.S. home ownership rate at what has been near an all-time low, that’s good news for millennials and good for the housing economy. In addition, when it comes to living in urban areas, the number of millennials desiring to live the urban lifestyle is decreasing – by more than 6% in just two years. They are opting for the suburbs for the spacious outdoor amenities like playgrounds and parks.

The Fannie Mae buyers’ sentiment survey also revealed 85% of millennial buyers felt their home purchase was a “good financial investment.” And why wouldn't they? They’ve seen the prices of homes rise consistently in many of the popular neighborhoods throughout the country and they’re familiar with the average cost of a home – many have watched homes in their price range continue to rise faster than their income. Despite the higher prices, the fact that millennials see their home as a good investment should fare well for increased demand as they and other millennials begin raising bigger families and buy larger and newer houses as their families grow.

Experts say the Fort Lauderdale economic news would include even greater demand for housing were it not for home values that continue to rise as a result of lower inventories nationwide – especially starter homes, popular with first-time home buyers. According to CoreLogic, nationwide home values increased 6.9% in 2016 compared to 2015. While home prices grew at a faster pace than incomes, the result was lower during the month of December 2016. Analysts cite a rise in mortgage interest rates immediately after the presidential election as possibly having an affect on asking prices by eager home sellers.

A CoreLogic spokesperson said, “Home prices continue to climb across the nation, and the spring home buying season is shaping up to be one of the strongest in recent memory.” He further added, “A potent mix of progressive economic recovery, demographics, tight housing stocks and continued low mortgage rates are expected to support this robust market outlook for the foreseeable future.”

According to the Fannie Mae sentiment report which measures consumer confidence regarding the housing market, the biggest gain in confidence was among those respondents who felt now is a good time to purchase a home. In addition, home sellers also felt it was a good time to sell. With more Americans feeling better about their employment and job opportunities, fewer are worried about losing their jobs. Other statistics in the survey showed more households are reporting slightly higher incomes – and the number of people surveyed expecting home prices to continue to rise did indeed increase. Lastly, among respondents asked about expectations that mortgage interest rates would drop, the survey percentages remained largely unchanged for the third consecutive month. This signals to researchers and real estate professionals alike that demand is high in the housing market, prospective purchasers are fairly bullish on home values and, so far, are not thwarted by what could possibly be continued slight increases in mortgage rates.

All in all, it appears that the biggest story in the Fort Lauderdale economic news is that the housing market could see a relatively strong spring selling season. Prices will be as high as they’ve been for the past several months, but qualified purchasers will be fueled by steady incomes and job security for the most part – and, while interest rates are worth watching, most analysts feel they won’t be a deterrent for purchasers anxious to trade up.

You can find more articles pertaining to Fort Lauderdale economic news in the "Economy" section of articles just below Fort Lauderdale Real Estate Categories in the column to your right.

Fort Lauderdale Home Insurance Claims: Winter Perils

Fort Lauderdale home insurance claims – especially during the winter – can be expensive. And, whether you live in a colder climate or a warmer winter one, damages caused by a number of perils can put a damper on things. Let’s look at a few winter – and some all-season – claims and how you can best reduce the risk of them happening to you and your home.

Common Claims (and the Most Expensive)
Once again, it may affect some regions of the country more than others, but damage is damage, no matter where you live. Weather is a leading contributor to a number of Fort Lauderdale home insurance claims. Frozen precipitation – or an abundance of rain, frozen or not – and extremely low temperatures are often responsible for a variety of potential home damage. The insurance industry listed a recent top five list of the most-often claims based on analysis of claims data (and all of them are not necessarily restricted to winter weather): 

Fort Lauderdale home insurance claims can get expensive

Water leaks (and flooding)
Wind damage
Hail damage
Frozen pipes
Roof damage from too much snow and ice

The claims analysis went on to rank the top three most expensive weather claims based on the average cost to repair covered assets:

Frozen pipes – $18,000
Hail damage – $10,000
Falling trees – $6,000

Historically, year after year, these and other Fort Lauderdale home insurance claims total billions in insurance losses. The insurance industry estimates losses of more than $3.5 billion in 2015 and $2.6 billion the year prior to that.

Preventing Common Perils
Of course, perils such as wind and hail damage are difficult to prevent – but not completely impossible to minimize. Consider these defensive measures to prepare for the unexpected – whether it’s in the winter or not.

  • Inspect your roof and keep it in tiptop shape. Keep your gutters clean. Replace worn or missing shingles. By doing so, you can guard against potential water leaks. And water leaks can lead to a whole host of other claims issues.
  • If you have an abnormal accumulation of snow and ice on your home’s roof, act quickly by using a long-handled snow rake or hire the services of a business specializing in snow removal. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Fortunately, in most areas of the country, this has not been an issue this year, as most of the country has experienced an unusually mild winter.
  • Protect your water pipes. Frozen pipes – or old, damaged pipes – can cause expensive repairs. In extreme cold climates, keep your thermostat set at a minimum of 68 degrees. In addition, allow your faucets to drip slowly so the water can move through them without freezing. Lastly, make sure any water pipes located outside are properly insulated. For homes in warmer climates who rarely, if ever, have to worry about winter weather issues, ensure your pipes are sturdy, free of rust and unobstructed. Remember, old pipes can break, too.
  • Make sure your trees are in good shape. Strong winds, ice and sleet often cause tree branches, and even the tree itself, to come falling to the ground – and perhaps on your house. So keep the limbs near your house trimmed back. Insurance experts further recommend to have an arborist inspect trees that may require pruning, may have diseases, or potentially may need to be removed altogether. Again, remember, such perils are not only restricted to areas of the country that have harsh winters. Many tree branches can be broken off by high winds – and entire trees can fall as a result of the ground becoming too saturated with rain or flood waters.

Protect Against Liability Claims
Another of the Fort Lauderdale home insurance claims to be on the lookout for – and to avoid, if possible – are the common slip-and-fall lawsuits and resulting claims. Many of these such incidents occur in the winter, but of course, guests visiting your home can trip and fall anytime during the year, not just during the winter months.

Thankfully, most homeowners are covered against slip-and-fall lawsuits under their liability coverage in a standard home insurance policy. In addition, according to some legal analysts, slip-and-fall cases due to the accumulation of snow and ice on a homeowner’s driveway, sidewalk or porch are difficult to win – particularly in cold-climate states where judges and juries view those perils as known and accepted weather-related hazards.

Regardless of the advantages mentioned above, it’s always a good idea to be as prepared and proactive as possible when it comes to eliminating or lessening the potential for any slip-and-fall accident. We suggest keeping your driveway, sidewalk and other areas that you or guests may walk on free from snow and ice in the winter – or other debris or hazards during other times of the year or in other climates – in order to make it safer for all concerned.

Remember, Fort Lauderdale insurance claims can be expensive – whether they occur in the winter or not. So, be vigilant, be prepared and be ready to address potential hazards around your house that could lead to damages or personal injuries causing you or your insurance company substantial losses – and greater headaches!

You can find more articles pertaining to Fort Lauderdale home insurance claims in the Fort Lauderdale Insurance section of our site below Fort Lauderdale Real Estate Categories in the column to your right.

Fort Lauderdale Home Selling Issues

If you’re selling your home or contemplating doing so, there are some Fort Lauderdale home selling issues to consider. While to ultimate goal of any real estate transaction is for complete satisfaction for every party involved – from the buyer to the agent to the seller to the lender – sometimes it just doesn’t work out that way. What happens if – prior to the close of the sale – somebody gets cold feet, buyer’s remorse, or the seller has second thoughts? As the seller, how can you get out of the sales transaction without making too many waves? Can you?

Fort Lauderdale home selling issues that can end up killing a deal

NOTE: Although we never work for sellers or list homes for sale, as exclusive buyer's agents, we can help you by referring you to the most qualified listing agents in the marketplace, due to our experience in working with these agents over the years. Even though we always work only for buyers and never for sellers, we offer these tips on Fort Lauderdale home selling recommendations to potential home sellers who may be in the process of or starting to think about selling their home.

More often than not, deals that progress to the contract stage usually close without a major hitch. However, sometimes there are Fort Lauderdale home selling issues that can kill the deal or put a bad enough taste in the mouth of the seller that he changes his mind. And, you can back out of the transaction as long as you have the proper contract contingencies along with ample communication with your real estate agent – but you need to be vigilant and don’t wait too long.

One key to backing out of the contract is to work with an experienced real estate professional. Make sure you and your agent are both on the same page when it comes to issues like the sales price, closing date, contingencies and negotiable items such as who’s paying closing costs or other seller concessions.

By keeping the lines of communication open with your real estate agent and consulting with him or her during every part of the home selling process, sellers are more informed – and better equipped, perhaps – to anticipate items that may arise regarding their home and what prospective buyers may want to negotiate.

If you’re readying your house for the market, or if it’s early in the home-selling process, an open and honest discussion with your real estate professional may save you time and trouble. Sit down with your agent and explain that you’re not ready, you’re having second thoughts, or you want to put the process on the back burner temporarily. A good, experienced agent will usually be very receptive as to how you feel – honestly, nobody wants to go through the agony of trying to sell a home only to have the seller change his mind down the road. Bring up any Fort Lauderdale home selling issues now and avoid the awkward and painful repercussions that may occur at a later date.

If you’re a little farther into the process or if you’ve already signed the contract to sell your home, backing out of that deal can be a little more involved, but not impossible. Let’s look at your best available options for escaping the contract without creating too much damage:

Issues with the Appraisal or Home Inspection
Normally, sales contracts carry with them a contingency whereby the prospective purchaser (as well as the mortgage lender) be satisfied with the appraisal of the home and the findings of the home inspection report. Depending on the results of either, further negotiations could result between the buyer and the seller.

In the current "seller's market" situation, it’s not unusual for an appraisal to come back lower than the agreed-upon sales price. In that case, additional negotiations and discussions must occur between each party to remedy the situation. Usually, its pretty simple: Either the seller agrees to lower his price or the buyer agrees to pay more money than what the appraisal was. Of course, a third alternative is that both parties walk away from the contract based on the contingency mentioned above.

The same situation can occur with a home inspection – another of the Fort Lauderdale home selling issues that could arise threatening a deal to fall apart. If certain problems were discovered during the routine inspection, the buyer may be more concerned – especially if the seller isn’t willing to pay to make the necessary repairs prior to the closing of the sale. The end result is that both parties – again, due to the contingency – will agree to back out of the contract.

The “Kick-Out” Stipulation
As with the contingencies mentioned above, it’s also normal for a typical contract of sale to include a contingency that says if the potential buyer can’t sell his current home, he’s not obligated to close on the new home. Some contracts may also include a contingency whereby the seller finds a new home by a certain date to ensure he has a place to move. If either scenario doesn’t occur, then either party can exercise the “kick-out” clause in the contract – enabling them to back out of the contract based on the contingency not being met.

Back Out as Early as Possible
As soon as you are made aware of Fort Lauderdale home selling issues that may trigger your desire to back out of the contract – act fast. Real estate experts say the worst thing you can do is wait. Typically, the buyer has more options when it comes to backing out of the contract than does the seller. When the seller wants to back out, the sooner he acts, the better off he will be. Waiting too long could mean you’re setting yourself up for a breach of contract – especially if there’s a third party involved who’s entered into a contract with the buyer or the seller for an additional purchase or sale.

See more articles pertaining to Fort Lauderdale home selling issues in the two sections of articles on Fort Lauderdale Home Selling Tips and Fort Lauderdale Homes for Sale just below Fort Lauderdale Real Estate Categories in the column to your right.

Fort Lauderdale Home Buying Strategies: Our Best Advice

Fort Lauderdale home buying strategies can be vital as you enter the market this spring in search of a new home. While a home search is always an exciting and challenging one, in what is currently a sellers’ market, it can be especially daunting. Chances are pretty good that a seller will have his choice of buyers and offers from which to choose. That makes it a little more difficult in the event you find “the” home that’s right for you and your family. If you’ve bought a home before, you know the feeling. You’ve searched high and low and visited numerous open houses and finally found that “just right” home that meets all your needs – and is perfect for your budget, too. But, what happens if the seller isn’t as excited about you or your offer as you’d like for him to be? Then what? Let’s look at five Fort Lauderdale home buying strategies that may help you deal with a seller who doesn't necessarily like you or your offer for his home.

Here are some of our recommended Fort Lauderdale home buying strategies

First, remember a seller can refuse a prospective buyer for any reason. While it’s unusual for people selling their homes to be finicky or fickle, it’s not unheard of. Plus, as mentioned above, in a sellers’ market they may be able to afford to be a little more stubborn when it comes to the sales price, the terms, any contingencies, or the closing and move-out date.

Consider these tips in working with a seller in that position:

Hit Them With Your Best Shot.  No, not literally, even though it may be tempting, we’re not advocating violence! What we’re suggesting is that if you submit an offer and suffer through the back-and-forth of counter offers, it could be time to stop playing games and wasting time. Cat and mouse can be fun and challenging, but we're talking about a home here. If you like the home and want it, make your very best offer. At that point – win or lose – you’ve done all you can do – and now the proverbial ball is in the seller’s court to accept or reject your best deal. While they may reject your offer and hold out for a better one from another potential purchaser, sometimes they may rethink your offer a few weeks later.

Keep on Keeping on.  Another of our recommended Fort Lauderdale home buying strategies is to “cut your losses and move on.” While doing so is difficult and often heart-wrenching, sometimes it’s necessary. If the seller isn't open to working with you or negotiating, it could be time to throw in the towel and move on to the next listing. Wasting time, talent, energy and desire on wanting the seller to see the deal the same way you do may mean you’ll lose out on the next “perfect’ home out there – and trust us, there’s always another one waiting.

Live and Learn.  The best coaches in the country – no matter the sport or the level of competition – will say, "…other than preparation and execution, learning from mistakes in competition is very important for the next game." So, when things don’t go exactly as you planned, take a little time to try to figure out what went wrong – and learn from it for the next negotiation on the next house. The more you understand about what worked and didn’t work, the more likely your next transaction will be more successful. Just like most things in life, it’s critical to live and learn.

Don’t Overthink This.  While you’re performing your analysis on the experience you’ve had in negotiating with or trying to work with a seller in buying their home, be careful not to overthink the seller. As is the case with most people – even close friends and family – nobody really knows what goes on inside a seller’s head. Maybe they’re not really ready to let go of their home. Maybe they’re holding out for every single dollar they can squeeze out of the deal. Perhaps they aren't prepared to move and are dragging their feet in an effort to buy time. Whatever the reason, don’t waste precious time trying to figure out the seller and his motivations or desires. Move on to the next property and concentrate on it.

Self-Analysis Can be Healthy.  Fort Lauderdale home buying strategies can be useful – but only if you use them to your advantage and to accomplish your necessary goals. So, remember this: If you keep trying to work with sellers that refuse to cooperate, maybe you’re the problem, not them. Identify a seller who is both motivated and serious about selling his home. Work with them and make the best deal you can. Don’t waste time pining over the “one that got away,” as there are other fish in the sea. Keeping a positive attitude and a feeling of optimism in the face of rejection or disappointment may mean the difference between finding the right home and becoming frustrated. Stay positive and get what you want.

Read more about home buying advice in the section of articles on Fort Lauderdale Home Buying Tips just below our Fort Lauderdale Real Estate Categories in the column to your right.

Fort Lauderdale Real Estate News Trends

Fort Lauderdale real estate news trends seem to indicate an increasing number of Americans in search of the proverbial American Dream of home ownership may not be able to experience it. In a nutshell, they either can’t afford the prices of new homes or are unable to save money for a down payment.

Recent statistical models show prospective home buyers at various household income levels are likely to experience sticker shock when shopping for a home this spring. Finding a home in their affordable price range is expected to be a challenging task for many.

Recent Fort Lauderdale real estate news trends indicate an ever-growing number of Americans may not be able to buy a home.

Home prices throughout much of the nation have risen by as much as 40% during the past five years. Conversely, incomes have increased roughly half that pace, therefore, creating a chasm between price and affordability. First-time buyers and those in the lower-tiered household income range will face significant competition for the listings they may be able to afford. In addition, higher interest rates may also dampen their ability to afford many homes on the market. If interest rates continue to rise, potential home buyers and borrowers on the qualification borderline may be unable to qualify for mortgage financing.

An even more disheartening twist in the Fort Lauderdale real estate news trends is the feeling among some housing experts that lack of available credit is a bigger problem than what interest rates do or don’t do. In the words of one housing economist, there appears to be two completely separate housing markets today: One for higher-income purchasers that seems to be brisk and successful, and one for affordable housing units that’s stagnant and struggling.

Lack of growth in the category of starter homes is cited as one reason first-time home buyers, such as millennials, have been slower then previous generations to buy their first home. Incomes just haven’t kept pace with home price increases, making it difficult for middle-class income borrowers from attaining home ownership.

As has been mentioned numerous times in Fort Lauderdale real estate news trends, the inventory of available – and affordable – homes is in short supply. Due to this tight supply, those homes that are on the market are likely priced higher than they ordinarily would be, creating a seller’s market – what typically occurs when the supply doesn't equal demand. In this case, even the lesser priced homes may be out of reach for many prospective purchasers.

The Down Payment Dilemma
To make matters worse for some, saving money for a sufficient down payment is also a challenge that’s a direct result of two factors: 1) Not earning enough money to be able to save and, 2) As home prices continue to rise, so do rents for the first-time homeowners waiting for the right time to buy.

A 20% down payment on the median-priced home of $192,500 in the U.S. currently is roughly $38,500 based on a recent Zillow report. Compounding the problem, in parts of the country where incomes are higher and prospective homeowners are able to save money, the real estate prices in those areas are more expensive, too – making it the typical "catch 22" scenario when it comes to affording a home.

Despite mortgage loan programs requiring considerably less than the widely-accepted 20% down payment – some as little as 3.5% – first-time borrowers are finding those loans are available at higher interest rates and they require the addition of private mortgage insurance (PMI.) PMI insurance is a type of mortgage protection insurance insuring the lending institution against the borrower defaulting on the mortgage payments. The premiums on PMI can be rather steep – especially on top of an already-high loan amount and resulting monthly mortgage payment.

To combat against the higher cost of financing more and putting less of a down payment, many first-time home buyers are tapping into other assets to make the American Dream a reality. Fort Lauderdale real estate news trends are seeing some prospective first-timers withdrawing money from their 401(k) accounts, while others are relying on loans or gifts from parents to provide the necessary 20% to avoid PMI – and the monthly escrow of taxes and insurance payments required for loans with higher loan-to-value (LTV) ratios such as these. Typically, lending institutions who finance more than 80% of the appraised value of a home will require the borrowers to pay the monthly pro-rated portion of the real estate property taxes and the homeowners insurance premium into an escrow account. When the taxes and insurance premiums are due and payable, the lending institution then pays those amounts out of the borrower’s escrow funds and the process starts all over again for the next year.

While the short-term solution may be to increase the number of affordable homes on the market, unfortunately that process takes a while. New home construction, while brisk in some markets, still lags behind demand. In addition, home builders are commanding top dollar for new homes, forcing purchasers to sell their existing ones for as much equity as possible.

It’s a cycle worth continuing to follow as part of the Fort Lauderdale real estate news trends – not only here in Fort Lauderdale , but throughout the nation in coming months.

See more articles pertaining to the most current Fort Lauderdale real estate news trends in the section of articles on Fort Lauderdale Real Estate News just below Fort Lauderdale Real Estate Categories in the column to your right.

Fort Lauderdale Mortgage Forecast: Easy Money?

The Fort Lauderdale mortgage forecast – at least for the near future – is that home loans will continue to be easier to obtain than anytime in the last ten years. The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) recently published a report showing data that seems to suggest mortgage lenders have relaxed many of their lending regulations and standards for every type of loan – including FHA and USDA home loans – both backed by the U.S. government.

Between 2008 and 2016, it was estimated credit availability to take out mortgages tightened by close to 90%, according to an MBA report. However, today’s Fort Lauderdale mortgage forecast is brighter than before, and more people are qualifying for loans than in the last decade. Officials say even those borrowers who may have been turned down for a mortgage loan a year or more ago are likely to be granted financing in today’s lending environment.

 The Fort Lauderdale mortgage forecast is for mortgages to become easier to obtain than in the last 10 years.

Let’s Look at the Numbers The MBA publishes its Mortgage Availability Index (MCAI) every month in an effort to show the current mortgage lending market as a single number. The MBA obtains data from over 95 lenders nationwide, looking at loan-to-value ratios, FICO credit scores and lending limits as a measure of how much or little flexibility there are in loan guidelines.

The most recent report shows the MCAI at a fairly high 177.1 – a huge increase from what many term its benchmark index of March 2012 of 100. What this means is that mortgages are almost twice as easy to obtain as they were just five short years ago.

The Fort Lauderdale mortgage forecast is for relaxed lending standards to not only continue to be a part of a mortgage lender’s loan guidelines, but they’re making an impact in other areas as well. Mortgage software company Ellie Mae just released a report showing mortgage lenders approve 77% of applicants – an increase of 6% in roughly 18 months. In addition, the MCAI rose 1.1% in only one month. The report also showed that lenders have relaxed lending requirements for loans above the national conforming loan maximum of $424,100.

Availability, as a result, has increased for nearly every type of loan offered:

  • Government mortgage availability rose 0.2% from the prior month
  • Conventional mortgage loan availability was up 2.3% from the previous month
  • Jumbo mortgage availability increased 4.7% from the prior month

Government mortgages referenced above include the three major lending programs – the FHA loan, the VA loan and the USDA mortgage.

USDA Loans Increase Government Mortgage Availability

First-time home buyers really like the little-known USDA home loan program. USDA loans require no down payment, one of only two loan products with that feature – the other being the VA loan – which is available to current or previous members of the Armed Forces. USDA loans are also known as Rural Housing Loans and eligibility requirements are based on the home’s location. Primarily, neighborhoods throughout the U.S. that are in less densely populated areas are the easiest in which to qualify. Before you assume these programs are available only to homes located “in the boonies,” consider this – the eligibility maps are 17 years old. In many areas, was characterized as “rural” in 2000 could be part of suburbia today. The Fort Lauderdale mortgage forecast will continue to be impacted by USDA loans.

The Housing Market Remains Safe

Mention the increased availability of mortgage credit and some people immediately equate that with concern for another housing market crash. In their minds, the logic is easy mortgage availability was responsible for the housing crisis back in 2008 and 2009 – so, if credit becomes easy to obtain we are likely to repeat history. However, here’s something that may calm your fears. Remember the Mortgage Banker’s Association (MBA) MCAI index report discussed earlier? The MBA estimates it reached close to 900 during the bubble in late 2006. Again, the index today is just 177.1. Industry experts say the Fort Lauderdale mortgage forecast is for credit availability to remain strong – and safe – because the housing market is a different animal than it was over a decade ago. Lenders are less likely to be as lax as they were in the years leading up to the housing crisis.

Lastly, mortgage lenders today are more cognizant that making good, sound mortgage loans is the foundation of the housing industry. There are more safeguards in place to prevent history from repeating itself than ever before – primarily as a result of the housing crash. Borrowers today need to have good credit – not excellent, blemish-free credit reports – but a history of paying their monthly obligations on time, over time. In addition, they need sufficient income to qualify for the monthly payments. Of course, they need to have a sufficient down payment to qualify for most mortgage loans, though not all.

Simply put, we remain optimistic with the Fort Lauderdale mortgage forecast for 2017 and beyond. Here’s hoping the housing market will continue to recover to its full capacity.

You can find more articles pertaining to the Fort Lauderdale mortgage forecast in the "Fort Lauderdale Mortgage Info" section of articles just below Fort Lauderdale Real Estate Categories in the column to your right.

Fort Lauderdale Economic Update: The Cost of Housing

As spring rapidly approaches, the Fort Lauderdale economic update is for housing to cost more for many new prospective home buyers. Higher mortgage rates, rising home prices and slow-to-moderate job and income growth threaten to combine for a less than stellar spring home buying season.

The end of 2016 saw home affordability reach its lowest point since 2009, and the home ownership rate dropped to historical lows across the U.S. Some economists feel a cure for the home affordability problem isn’t in the cards for 2017.

 As for the Fort Lauderdale economic update, some economists feel a cure for the home affordability problem isn't in the cards for 2017.

According to a new report issued by Black Knight Financial Services, American homeowners have to pay 22.2% of their median income to meet their mortgage payments on a median priced single family residence. The data is based on a survey of borrowers who have a 30-year fixed rate mortgage. By comparison, the housing bubble of 2005-2006 saw roughly 36% of median incomes to afford a home. Keep in mind that home prices and mortgage interest rates were even higher during that time.

The differences between the housing bubble of slightly more than a decade ago and today’s market are fuel for the most recent Fort Lauderdale economic update. Back in 2005, most borrowers didn’t take out 30-year fixed rate mortgages, preferring to utilize alternate lending programs featuring low- or no-down payments and very low introductory interest rates. In addition, many borrowers took advantage of negative amortization loans allowing the homeowner to postpone payments and add them to the overall loan balance. Many of these “creative” financing options contributed to the housing crash and, as a result, some of these type loans are no longer legally available.

The current 22.2% of median income that the average borrower has to pay today to meet his mortgage payment represents a 10% increase during the fourth quarter of 2016 – the result of a quick rise in post-election mortgage interest rates. The above-mentioned Black Knight report bases their comparisons on 30-year fixed rate mortgages today, making it a more appropriate “apples to apples” comparison if some factor in the mortgage market is responsible for a change in affordability. In 2005-2006 when the home affordability equation was grossly out of line, the mortgage programs available at that time artificially increased the homeowner's buying power and drove up home prices. In actuality, without the creative lending programs and products the housing affordability would be far from sustainable.

In a nutshell, here’s where the Fort Lauderdale economic update has created a cause for concern: With home prices having risen steadily during 2016, they were 7.2% higher across the nation compared from December 2015. The national index at the end of 2016, according to a report from CoreLogic, was 3.9% below the peak housing price pace in April 2006. This year, CoreLogic’s projections are that the national index will rise 4.7% – putting housing prices at a new high level before the end of the year. In addition, other indices that are tracked show that in some regions of the country, prices are already higher than their previous peaks – higher than the last housing boom.

Economists say the central cause of higher prices these days is not solely restricted to low mortgage interest rates, but also to tighter home inventory and record demand from home buyers. The spring buying season is expected by many to be extremely tight. Home builders have increased the number of units under construction, but not by much. In addition, there is expected to be a huge increase in demand on the part of first-time home buyers, especially millennials who have been on the sidelines for the past few years.

As always, time will soon tell. The lower than expected housing inventory levels continue to plague a full-blown housing recovery. That is seen as one of the major culprits in creating and inflating home prices of the homes that are on the market – creating a short supply and a high demand – the very definition of a seller’s market. Ironically, while interest rates do play a factor in the challenges of the spring selling season and beyond, mortgage rates are not expect to rise much higher than the 4.5% level during 2017, a very affordable interest rate – if home prices weren’t expected to rise higher than in 2016. Remember, while interest rates were at all-time market lows for much of the past 12-18 months, even a slight increase to the 4.5%  – or even the 5% threshold is a very good bargain compared to where interest rates have been for much of the last decade.

Nationally, most homes in most real estate markets remain more affordable than those in the housing bubble days. However, the Fort Lauderdale economic truth is that the housing market is currently feeling more pressure in terms of affordability since the recovery began in recent years.

You can find more articles pertaining to the Fort Lauderdale economic update and outlook in the "Economy" section of articles just below Fort Lauderdale Real Estate Categories in the column to your right.