Category Archives: Home Ownership

How To Age In Place Safely In Your Home

 

Source: Michael Longsdon

Every year, about half of all Americans over 65 suffer a fall. These can be harmless, but they can also cause lasting injuries and even death. As you grow older, it is important to take proactive steps to prevent accidents by making changes to your environment that minimize the risk of falling and enhance your ability to age in place.

Falling risks increased in certain areas

More than half of all senior falling injuries occur inside the home. The bathroom, kitchen, hallway, stairs, and bedroom pose the most risk for a multitude of reasons.

Bathroom and kitchen

According to the AARP, the bathroom is the most dangerous room in the house for seniors. The kitchen is a close second. This is because water and soap make surfaces slippery, getting in and out of a shower or bath also involves balance, which can tend to deteriorate with age.

The vast majority of injuries in the bathroom could be avoided with the installation of grab bars next to all showers, baths and toilets. You should also place a non-slip rubber mat on the surface or your bath or shower to avoid slipping accidents and always use a bath mat to absorb excess water on the floor. Kitchens should likewise be outfitted with non-slip mats at the sink and fridge, where spills are most likely to occur.

Hallways and stairs

While individual rooms in the house tend to be well-lit, hallways and stairwells can sometimes be neglected as they are rarely used during the night. This means that an older person who, say, needs to use the toilet in the middle of the night, will not be able to see where they are going and are likely to slip and fall.

You should also clear hallways of any potential tripping hazards. This includes carpets and throw rugs, which are one of the most common causes of indoor falls. At the very least, buy some non-slip rug pads, which adhere to the bottom of your rugs to keep it from curling upward and tripping someone over. Stairs may be made safer by installing a gate at the top and increasing the amount of ambient lighting available. Reflective stips may also add to visibility.

Bedroom

Getting a good night’s sleep is important for a variety of reasons including your general physical and mental health, but it can also reduce the risk of falls. You are more likely to injure yourself if you are tired throughout the day and are not paying attention to where you step. Additional falling risks in the bedroom stem from standing up too soon or rising from an unstable surface, such as a sagging mattress.

Many people assume that older people need less sleep, but this is simply untrue. While changes in sleep architecture are normal as we age, sleep deprivation is not. Senior sleep needs are the same as that of a middle-aged adult, but the difference is that they might have a harder time getting the recommended number of hours. If you are not sleeping well, you need to figure out why and tackle the problem right away. Start by ensuring your mattress allows for quality, restful sleep. Mattresses for seniors need to maintain neutral spine alignment and have enough contouring to relieve pressure points. Refer to this guide to learn more about how to choose the best mattress for your specific needs.

Exercise

Start making small changes to your lifestyle as well. For instance, improving your strength and balance through exercise – yoga is a great option – will also greatly help you avoid injury. A combination of environmental and lifestyle changes is the best guarantee for a safe and comfortable old age and it is never too soon to get started.

These small changes will help you age in place by decreasing your risk of injury and increasing your ability to live independently.

A Decade Low in Housing Affordability Won’t Kill the Real Estate Boom

Source: Dr. Steve Sjuggerud, Stansberry Research

I’ve spent years urging anyone who would listen to buy a house…

Folks didn’t want to hear that story back in 2011, when I first began pounding the table. Investors were scared. Nobody wanted to buy.

That’s why housing was such a great deal, though. It was dirt-cheap and hitting all-time levels of affordability.

Plenty has changed since then…

U.S. home prices have steadily climbed, and housing affordability has fallen as a result.

Today, housing affordability is at a decade low. But as I’ll show, that doesn’t mean the boom is dead.

Let me explain…

The idea of housing affordability is simple. When someone buys a home, he doesn’t worry so much about the purchase price… He worries about the monthly payment. If he can afford the payment, he can afford the house.

The monthly payment includes a few numbers… namely the home’s price and the interest rate. Compare that with the person’s income, and you know how affordable (or not) a home would be.

Importantly, these numbers are similar for a lot of folks. So the National Association of Realtors uses median home prices, median income, and mortgage rates to build an overall measure of housing affordability in America.

This indicator tells us if housing is cheap, expensive, or somewhere in between.

Again, things have changed since I first began urging readers to buy real estate. Housing affordability is now at a 10-year low. Take a look…

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A high affordability number indicates housing is cheap… signaling a great time to buy. A low number indicates an expensive market, where folks will have to stretch to buy.

You can see that housing is getting less affordable. It recently fell to affordability levels not seen since 2008. But that doesn’t tell the full story.

Despite a decade low for affordability, we’re now right at the long-term average. Check it out…

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It’s true that the easy money in real estate might be behind us. But affordability hasn’t completely dried up.

We are clearly in the late innings of this boom. The great deals are getting harder to find, but certain markets still have plenty of value remaining.

I’ve personally put a large chunk of my net worth into Florida real estate. I’ve sold some of those properties for big profits… but I’ve been able to find new deals too.

So while affordability is down, I remain bullish on U.S. housing. We’re still near the long-term average for affordability in U.S. housing. And folks can still make money in U.S. real estate.

If you’re looking to put money to work, buying a house is still a solid deal today.

What to Expect on Closing Day

Source: Chris Knox, Sr. Loan Advisor – Fairway Mortgage Co.

When you purchase a home, the most exciting part of the process is the day you finally are handed the keys. But, before this happens, you will need to sign some important papers to close the deal. Closing day is going to be a busy one with your mind on moving into your new home, but it is important to know what will happen at the closing table so that you are prepared.

Generally, the closing will happen at the office of the settlement agent (potentially an attorney, depending on which state you close in), or the closing could take place at one of the real estate agent’s offices or my office. Your real estate agent, the seller’s agent, the title agent and a notary may be there. I will also make my best effort to be there in case you have any last-minute questions.

Be sure to bring your ID (if there is a co-signer, please make sure they have their ID as well). We will have already discussed whether you are wiring the money or bringing a certified check for costs such as down payment, taxes, insurance or other closing costs. Don’t worry; I will make sure you are well-prepared.

You can then read, ask questions about and sign the loan documents that Fairway has prepared for you. Included in this paperwork is going to be your Closing Disclosure (which we will have reviewed together before closing), the promissory note (which says you will repay Fairway for the loan amount that you are borrowing) and the deed of trust (also known as the lien on the property). If you have questions about these, please do not hesitate to ask me.

My goal is to fully prepare you for what will happen at the closing table. We will talk often before then, and I will answer questions you may have and do my best to make this a stress-free process for you.

Chris Knox
Sr. Loan Advisor
NMLS# 129636
WA# MLO-129636
Phone: (253) 905-4810

105 8th Ave. SE, Suite 102
Olympia, WA 98501
http://loansbychrisknox.com/

Everything You Need To Know About Down Payments!

Source: Chris Knox, Fairway Independant Mortgage Corp.

For homebuyers purchasing their first house, the biggest obstacle to overcome is often the down payment. Making sure you fully understand the down payment and closing costs will help you throughout the home mortgage loan process. Many options for first-time homebuyers allow for little or no down payment on your home, and I am here to help answer any questions.

Depending on the loan program, the down payment may not have to come from your savings. A family member can sometimes make a “gift” to you to cover the down payment, or you could choose to pull money from your retirement plan. A mortgage planner can help you understand ways to take money from a retirement plan to buy your first house, without paying any tax penalties. If you choose a down payment of more than 5% but less than 20%, you will have to pay private mortgage insurance. Known as PMI, private mortgage insurance protects the lender in the event the loan goes into default.

In addition to the down payment on your mortgage, closing costs and pre-paid expenses are also involved with a home purchase. You usually must pay lender costs, an appraiser and legal fees associated with transferring the title on the house from the seller to you, the buyer. In addition, you will pay homeowners insurance for one year in advance, and the lender will establish an escrow account, which will take a portion of your monthly payment and save it to pay your future property tax bills and homeowners insurance bills. Most first-time homebuyer loans will require you to have an escrow account to pay for the future tax and insurance bills.

Some first-time homebuyer programs allow negotiation with the seller of the home to have them pay a portion of the closing costs. Doing so can help reduce how much money is needed to purchase your first house. Be sure to talk with your real estate agent before making an offer to negotiate that into the deal. It is always a great idea to talk with a lender first, so you can understand exactly what the closing costs will be and how much you will need the seller to pay.

As qualified FHA, VA and USDA mortgage lenders, the licensed mortgage professionals at Fairway can help you determine the best loan program to use for your first home. I will help you decide which loan program is best for you, the right amount for your down payment and how much the seller should pay for your closing costs, and I will give you other considerations to make sure you get the best financing for your first home purchase. You can trust me to make your home loan as stress-free as possible. Call me today to set up an appointment.

Chris Knox
Sr. Loan Advisor
NMLS# 129636
WA# MLO-129636
Phone: (253) 905-4810

105 8th Ave. SE, Suite 102
Olympia, WA 98501
http://loansbychrisknox.com/

Single Woman’s Guide to a Mortgage-Worthy Credit Profile

Source:  / CreditCards.com

Research shows women often face challenges getting approved for home loans, and financial gender inequality may be to blame.

According to a study conducted by the Woodstock Institute, women are more likely than men to be denied mortgage loans. Typical reasons for mortgage denial include a high debt-to-limit ratio or a poor overall credit history.

The gender pay gap is a big reason why many women struggle for total financial independence. While the large-scale fight for gender equality is long and collaborative, there is something you can do to play a part: maintain a high credit score.

A strong credit score is important for financial equality

Your credit score is a tool lenders use to determine your trustworthiness when borrowing money and answer questions about your financial habits.  Will you max out your credit line? Will you pay your bills on time? Will you pay off your debt in full? Are you a high-risk or low-risk borrower?

Anytime you try to borrow money – whether on a credit card, small business loan, car loan or mortgage – your credit report and overall score will be reviewed to determine if you’re approved or denied and what your interest rate and credit limit will be.

A high credit score can also protect you (and your kids, if you have any) in case of divorce, a spouse’s death, or events that cause your spouse’s credit score to drop.

Gender roles in society have an effect on women and credit

Women sometimes have thin credit files due to traditional gender roles. An example is a household in which the husband is the family’s financial manager and applies for all credit cards and loans in his own name. In this case, his wife will not have an opportunity to build credit unless she obtains other credit lines in her name. If the husband dies or the couple divorces, the woman may find it difficult to strike out on her own.

A relatively low income – perhaps due to gender bias in a workplace – can also hamper a woman’s ability to build credit.

One of the most important factors lenders use to calculate your credit score is credit utilization. Credit utilization indicates how much of your total available credit you’re using. For example, if you have a card with a $2,000 limit and your balance is $1,000, you have a credit utilization ratio of 50 percent. The lower your utilization, the better your credit score will be.

Credit limits are often based in part on how much you are able to pay each month. So, since women typically make less than men (thanks, gender pay gap), that can result in a low credit limit, and a better chance of credit score damage from high utilization.

Establishing your own credit

If you have a thin credit file, there are a few ways to build it up:

  • Become an authorized user. If you don’t have any credit history to work with, you can start by becoming an additional cardholder or authorized user on a friend, family member or spouse’s card.
  • Apply for a secured or prepaid card. These cards are great starter cards for those who are worried about credit card debt, and they generally require no credit history to get approved. Just make sure the card you choose reports to one of the major credit reporting agencies.
  • Apply for a rewards credit cardIf you qualify, cards with no annual fee and a low APR can help you build credit with small purchases that you pay off each month. Plus, rewards cards help you earn points and miles that you can use towards travel or your monthly statement.

Preparing your credit before buying a home

Establishing credit isn’t enough to get a solid mortgage approval; your score must be strong, and your credit habits need to be healthy.

Here are a few ways you can make sure your credit profile is in great shape before you apply for a mortgage:

1.  Check your credit reports

A high credit score and a clean credit report can help you lock in a low interest rate. You can visit AnnualCreditReport.com to pull a copy of your report and look over it. You’re entitled to a free copy once a year from the three major credit bureaus – Experian, Equifax and TransUnion.

Review your reports for errors, no matter how small. Correcting these can help bump your score and ensure you have an accurate profile. All three bureaus handle report disputes online, which helps simplify the process.

2. Stay away from larger purchases and unnecessary credit lines

As you get closer to when you plan on applying for a home loan, avoid making large purchases and opening additional lines of credit. Experts advise limiting the number of hard inquiries into your account and keeping your credit profile “quiet” leading up to the homebuying process.

3. Reduce your utilization

Paying off debt (without draining your savings) can help boost your credit score, helping you land a better interest rate on your home loan.

Keeping your utilization low across your accounts is always a good credit habit to get into, whether you’re planning on buying a home or just want to stay financially healthy.

4. Improve your areas of credit weakness

Do you have a habit of forgetting to make payments on time? Set reminders on your phone or enroll in auto pay. Are you behind on any payments? Talk to your lender or card issuer about getting back on track. Did you find multiple errors on your credit reports? Make every effort to get those corrected.

Take the time you need to get your finances as healthy as possible before applying for that loan application. An extra six months to get your credit score up could mean the difference between being approved with a great interest rate and barely scraping by with a rate that will cost you an exorbitant amount of money down the line.

Protecting your credit

Your credit isn’t only important in the lead-up to buying a home. Credit scores are commonly used as an indicator for your overall financial health. Establishing strong credit habits and protecting your score can help you remain financially independent throughout your entire life.

Monitor your credit score for fluctuations and suspicious activity. Most card issuers have mobile apps, and many have built-in credit monitoring benefits for all cardholders. A lot of card issuers and banks allow you to set up purchase notifications, which can also help you stay on top of spending while watching out for fraudulent charges.

Another way you can protect your credit is by protecting your personal information. Never give out private information like usernames, passwords or account numbers over the phone or through email.

Finally, avoid using your credit cards more than is necessary. Pay them in full each month to avoid incurring interest charges and keep your credit score in good shape.  And maintain a savings account for emergencies and large purchases.

The bottom line

Building and maintaining a strong credit profile is important – both for future loan applications and overall financial gender equality. Make sure you’re putting your best foot forward for your future by establishing healthy credit habits, whether you’re a newly single divorcee looking to gain financial independence or a college graduate ready to make your mark on the world.

David Lafferty
CreditCards.com
9430 Research Blvd. | Building 4, Suite 400 | Austin, TX 78759

Become An Excellent Homebuyer in 10 Easy Steps

Source: Chris Knox – Fairway Mortgage

Buying a home can be the start of the best decision you have ever made. However, between finding the right place, securing the loan and moving in, you are likely going to experience some stress. Purchasing a home is a large commitment, and the emotions of making such a personal investment require a great team behind you, which is why Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation is here to help.

Here are 10 tips that will help make you a successful homebuyer:

  1. Have the Right Partners – You will work with your mortgage planner and real estate agent a great deal throughout the process, so working well together is crucial. Take the time to select a great team in the beginning, and your first home purchase will be a pleasing and memorable experience.
  2. Income + Lifestyle = Mortgage Payment – Be open, honest and up front with your real estate agent and mortgage planner when discussing your income level and living expenses. Take in to account future considerations such as children and plans you may have for repairs and upgrades for the house. Your dream home is certainly worth a sacrifice, but don’t mortgage your entire future.
  3. Utilize Your Team – Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Your mortgage planner and real estate agent are there to support you and work together for your benefit.
  4. View Several Homes – See multiple properties. With your agent’s help, you should be able to view enough properties to have a good overall perspective of the home market.
  5. Imagine the Property Vacant – Your furnishings and decorations will be the ones filling this residence, so don’t be swayed by beautiful furniture that leaves with the owner.
  6. Be Thorough – Explore all costs and expenses before you commit. These include utilities, taxes, insurance, maintenance and homeowners association dues.
  7. Inspect, Inspect, Inspect! – Ensure that the inspection report was completed by a professional and examine it carefully. For condo purchases, review the bylaws and association fees.
  8. If It is Not in Writing, It Does Not Exist – All promises and discussions should be in writing. Don’t make any assumptions or believe any verbal assurances. Have your real estate agent keep an ongoing log in writing of all discussions and acquire the seller’s written approval on all agreements.
  9. Complete a Final Walkthrough – Visit the property after all furnishings have been moved out, to be sure that there are no surprises. Be certain that the property was left exactly as you agreed upon in the contract. Ensure that all utilities are turned on during your walkthrough, so you can inspect everything in working order.
  10. Plan for Flexibility – Closing dates are not written in stone. Allow for contingencies and have a backup plan. If you or the sellers need a little more time to conclude the final arrangements, do not let delays upset or frustrate you.

Many steps are involved when purchasing a home. While there may be some bumps in the road, I am always here to help in any way I can. Call me today to schedule an appointment to review your financial plans. I look forward to the opportunity to help you make the best home loan decision and show you the path toward homeownership.

Chris Knox
Sr. Loan Advisor
NMLS# 129636
WA# MLO-129636
Phone: (253) 905-4810105 8th Ave. SE, Suite 102
Olympia, WA 98501
http://loansbychrisknox.com/

Is the Housing Market Normalizing? One Sign the Tide’s Turning

Source: Suzanne De Vita RISMedia

 

With demand strong and supply weak, the housing market is overwhelmingly partial to sellers. The average homeowner is profiting $40,000 at resale (with decade-high returns in 2017), and higher in the hottest markets, where they’re attracting multiple offers in record time.

Now, there’s an early indicator that the market may shift. At the start of summer, 14.2 percent of listings nationwide had their prices reduced, according to a new report by Zillow. At the beginning of the year, 13 percent had cuts, and at the close of 2016, 11.7 percent were lowered. The increase between January and June is the largest on record in the report, and doubled the jump in the same six months in 2017.

The bigger bounds are generally on higher-priced properties, and on the West Coast, the report shows. Of costlier listings, 16.2 percent have been slashed since the start of the year—up 0.9 percent. By comparison, 11.2 of lower-priced properties have been reduced—down 0.1 percent. The disparity illustrates the immense interest in more practically priced properties, which are in scarcer supply.

The amount of discounted homes increased the most in San Diego, up 7.7 percent in the last six months, to 20 percent. The amount climbed in Denver, Las Vegas, Orlando, Portland, Ore., Sacramento and Seattle, as well. On the flip side, the share shrank in Philadelphia, from 17.2 percent to 16.2 percent, as well as in Indianapolis, Pittsburgh and San Antonio.

Is the change a change in dynamic? According to Aaron Terrazas, senior economist at Zillow, the concessions could be a premature sign of a swing, but not yet.

“The housing market has tilted sharply in favor of sellers over the past two years, but there are very early preliminary signs that the winds may be starting to shift ever so slightly,” says Terrazas. “A rising share of on-market listings are seeing price cuts, though these price cuts are concentrated at the most expensive price points and primarily in markets that have seen outsized price gains in recent years.

“It’s far too soon to call this a buyer’s market,” Terrazas says. “Home values are still expected to appreciate at double their historic rate over the next 12 months, but the frenetic pace of the housing market over the past few years is starting to return toward a more normal trend.”

For more information, please visit www.zillow.com.

Seniors Can Reap Big Benefits in Downsizing

Source: Michael Longsdon  ElderFreedom.net

Seniors can reap big benefits in downsizing

There comes a certain time in many of our lives when we’re simply ready to move somewhere smaller. It could be because it’s becoming more difficult to manage a large property, the fact that the children have flown the coop, or even just because you want a change. There are numerous benefits to owning a smaller home, from ease of cleaning to being more energy-conscious.

Here is a guide to help you get started.

How to pack the household for transport

Packing for a weekend getaway is one thing, but packing your entire house is quite another. The first part, and often the most difficult, is going through your things and coming up with what you can say goodbye to. A smaller space will, unfortunately, mean less room for things. Start by either going through your clothes and letting go of possessions that don’t fit or don’t make you feel good about yourself, or things you’ve not worn in over a year.

You could also start in your kitchen and get rid of the gadgets you don’t use, or the pots that are too big or too small for practical use. Once you have completed your purge, think about packing a first-night box that’s full of stuff you will immediately need, from dinner supplies to your toothbrush and pajamas. For larger items, or if you simply have too much to do by yourself or with a partner, you may want to hire a company, not only to transport your items, but to pack them for you, too.

How to transition with pets

If you have pets, this is going to be a stressful experience for them. However, there are ways for you to mitigate their anxiety. If you stay calm through all the many stresses of moving, it will help your pet feel safe. If you introduce them to things slowly, it will help them as well. Take them for a few visits to the kennel where they will be staying during the move, introduce them to the new house or apartment before moving in, and get them crate-trained so they associate their crate with safety and comfort.

How to choose help

Research is going to be incredibly important during this time. First, you should consider working with an experienced real estate agent to help you sell your old place and buy your new home. Not only will they help you sell your current home more quickly, they will also be knowledgeable about home values in your current market (which currently average about $286K in Rainier, WA). This information will help you budget for your new home and all of your other moving expenses so you’ll stay on track financially.

You’ll also want a reliable moving company that is known for consistency and commitment to excellence. It’s one thing to get a recommendation from a friend, and that is often a good place to start, but you need to do a lot of digging. There are many websites you can visit to do some background checking, such as the Better Business Bureau, to get a few names. Once you have a few companies to pick from, get estimates and compare. It may be a lot of work, but it will be worth it to choose the best company possible for your budget.

How to take care of yourself

Moving is full of stress and uncertainty, so it’s extra important to take care of your own sense of well-being. Staying organized will help immensely when juggling the seemingly endless tasks ahead. Having a schedule will help keep you on track and succeed in keeping your blood pressure down. Once you arrive at your new home, get each room organized so that you can really start the settling-in process. Take your time unpacking each room, and as the moving boxes disappear, you’ll find that you are able to truly relax.

Balancing your schedule perfectly may not be enough to keep a level head, so find ways that work for you to relax. Whether it is working out every morning, doing yoga in the afternoon, reading your favorite or newest novel, or even taking a long, hot bath, do something to unwind and keep yourself sane.

Downsizing can seem intimidating, but it’s worth it if it makes your life easier. Fewer things to look after, smaller spaces to clean, and fewer stairs to navigate all can improve the quality of your life and open up more of your time to find things you enjoy. These truly are the golden years, and rather than spend them cleaning a large house you just don’t need, make time for yourself and your loved ones.

Image Courtesy of Pixabay.com

The Biggest Homeownership Hurdles for Millennials

Source: Liz Dominguez-RISMedia

Millennials should be making a sizable stamp in homeownership, but they have been largely absent from the housing space. Why is it that the largest generation in U.S. history isn’t participating in real estate as heavily as its predecessors? There are many difficulties standing in their way, according to new research.

A recent report by the Urban Institute, “Millennial Homeownership: Why Is It So Low, and How Can We Increase It?” delves deeper into the generational home-buying gap to assess the factors that are holding millennials back from their homeownership goals. When looking at the 25-34 age group, millennials are behind Gen Xers and baby boomers in homeownership rates by 8-9 percentage points, according to the report. When comparing overall homeownership rates in 2015, millennials were behind baby boomers by 42.8 percent and Gen Xers by 28.2 percent.

While factors such as parental wealth and creditworthiness play a role, there are more overarching influences on the millennial homeownership rate. The biggest obstacles?

Settling down is being pushed further out.
Millennials are delaying major life events such as marriage and childbearing. These milestones are typically associated with higher homeownership rates; in fact, the possibility of owning a home increases by 17.9 and 6.2 percentage points, respectively, for those who are married or have children.

According to the 2015 American Community Survey by the U.S. Census Bureau, 40 percent of millennials are married. This is 7.5 percent lower than the 2000 rate for similar age groups, and 13.8 percent lower than the 1990 rate. The average marriage age is being pushed out further out: Between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of 18- to 34-year-olds who never married increased by nearly 20 points to 53.9 percent. Many millennials are also waiting longer to have children. Between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of married households with children (with a household head age group of 18-34) decreased from 36.9 percent to 25.7 percent.

High student loan debt is tightening millennials’ wallets.
When compared to preceding generations, millennials are more likely to pursue higher education. According to 2015 rates, 65.8 percent of millennial household heads received some level of college education, a 10.1 percentage point increase from 1990 and a 13.3 point increase from 2000.

However, rising education costs have far exceeded income increases, creating a debt challenge. An estimated 36 percent of millennials have student loan debt, compared to 18 percent of Gen Xers and 4.1 percent of baby boomers.

Data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York show that a 25-year-old’s average education debt has increased from $4,516 in 2003 to $10,033 in 2015. These high levels of debt are proving to be homeownership barriers for millennials who are struggling to save for a down payment while paying off their loans. They also increase debt-to-income ratios, potentially making it more difficult for them to obtain a mortgage.

Exorbitant home values are pricing them out of homeownership.
Members of the millennial generation, especially those with higher levels of education, typically flock to more populous locations, such as New York City and San Francisco, in search of high-skilled cities with employment opportunities and urban amenities. These areas tend to be more expensive, with low housing elasticity due to a shortage of new construction for starter homes, the report states.

Additionally, many millennials are rent-burdened, paying more than 30 percent of their income toward rent, leaving them less room in their budget to save for a down payment. According to research by the Pew Charitable Trust, the transition to homeownership is slower for rent-burdened individuals. The demand and pricing for rental housing dramatically increased after the financial crisis.

The racial divide remains a far-reaching challenge.
Millennials are the most racially and ethnically diverse generation. The increasing share of minority members, and the added home-buying challenges they experience, is lowering millennial homeownership rates on average, cites the report. According to 2015 statistics, white households represent the highest share of homeowners, making up 39.6 percent of all households. Meanwhile, the Hispanic homeownership rate decreased to 24.6 in 2015, and the black homeownership rate has been in continuous decline since 2000, sitting at 13.4 percent in 2015. The Asian household rate has fluctuated, dropping between 1990 and 2000 from 30.6 to 26.6 percent, before increasing to 27.2 percent in 2015.

How can the industry overcome these challenges?
According to the report, many potential homebuyers are not aware of down payment assistance, especially first-time buyers. The first step to correcting this problem? Increasing awareness of government-sponsored programs through financial education as part of a high school or college curriculum.

Additionally, the Urban Institutes proposes a streamlined and tech-centered mortgage application that shortens the process and more thoroughly assesses risk. The underwriting process should also be revised to include factors not typically within a credit score assessment, such as rental payment history, in order to assist consumers with low credit or a lack of credit history. Other proposed solutions take the form of revised student loan debt reporting, changes to land-use and zoning regulations, and reduced racial and ethnic disparities.

June Is National Homeownership Month

Source:  Liz Dominiguez/RISMedia

June is National Homeownership Month, and the industry is recognizing the importance of homeownership as a milestone of the American Dream.

This year’s theme, set by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), is “Find Your Place.” HUD is one of many agencies that provide resources to help consumers obtain and sustain homeownership. Through its network of housing agencies, consumers can seek out counselors for homeowner education, foreclosure prevention and budgeting assistance. With mortgage options through the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), consumers with low credit or low-down payment funds can reach their homeownership goals faster—a significant method of aid for millennials and upcoming buyer generations flooded with student loans, making it difficult to amass the funds needed for conventional financing. According to HUD, over 47 million homeowners since 1934 purchased a home with a mortgage insured by FHA, and around 40 percent of all borrowers purchase their first home using an FHA loan.

“Homeownership serves as an enduring symbol of security and prosperity, and it provides many Americans with a legacy they can pass down to their children and grandchildren,” said HUD Secretary Ben Carson in a statement. “During National Homeownership Month, we recognize the abiding value of owning a home, and we rededicate ourselves toward helping hard-working families to find their place in the American dream.”

Although homeownership rates are currently stalled at 64.2 percent, experts say the lack of dramatic increase is a reflection of a market that is withstanding challenges such as low inventory and rising interest rates. While the number has not moved much since the first quarter of 2017, there have been gradual increases since 2016, following a significant drop after the housing crisis.

While the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) celebrates its commitment to homeownership year-round through resources provided on its Homeownership Matters and HouseLogic sites, NAR President Elizabeth Mendenhall recognized June as a pivotal time to reaffirm the association’s mission to promote homeownership.

“National Homeownership Month is a time to celebrate and promote the modern American Dream of owning a home,” said Mendenhall in a statement. “Homeownership changes lives and enhances futures, and many Americans see it as one of their greatest hopes. These individuals are counting on the nation’s 1.3 million REALTORS® to champion and protect homeownership and help make it more affordable, attainable and sustainable. REALTORS® pledge to continue to lead efforts to ensure that the dream of homeownership is not only possible, but very real, for any and all who want to achieve it, so they can have a place of their own to make memories, start growing their financial futures, and build strong communities.”

In addition, Freddie Mac’s website for National Homeownership Month provides valuable resources for homeowners, such as educational articles, homeownership program statistics and opportunities consumers can take advantage of in order to make their homeownership dream a reality.

According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), primary residences are ahead of all other financial assets, business interests and retirement accounts, accounting for nearly one-quarter of all assets held by households in 2016, as reported in the latest edition of the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances.

“Homeownership is a primary source of net worth for many Americans, and is an important step in accumulating personal financial assets over the long term,” said Randy Noel, chairman of the NAHB, in an interview on NAHBNow.

In recognition of National Homeownership Month, NAHB is making a toolkit available for its members; the toolkit includes a video on the value of homeownership, sample social media posts, radio scripts and other talking points, relevant articles, and even print ads showcasing the benefits of homeownership.

Citing the passing of the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act and this past year’s tax reform bill as recent progress, President Donald Trump released a statement pledging the administration’s commitment toward increasing homeownership incentives across the country:

“During National Homeownership Month, we affirm the joy and benefits of homeownership. For millions of Americans, owning a home is an important step toward financial security and achieving the American Dream. My Administration is committed to fostering an economic environment in which every family has the opportunity to enjoy the sense of pride and stability that can come with owning a home.”