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Negotiate a Buydown to Get into a Home Now

January 31, 2023

If you are a prospective homebuyer, things have changed in the past year.  Most notably, mortgage rates have more than doubled which has created an affordability gap that has taken approximately 15 million buyers out of the market.

Inventories are growing but it isn’t because more people are deciding to sell their homes; it is because it is taking longer to sell properties because less people are qualified.  Current housing inventory is a little more than a quarter of what it was in 2008.

Buyers are wondering when the market will return to normal, as if mortgage rates at three and four percent should be commonplace.  The average mortgage rate between April 1971 and November 2022 is 7.76%.

Predictions for mortgage rates in the third quarter 2023 range from 4.5% for Fannie Mae, 5.0% for Mortgage Bankers Association, and 5.2% for Freddie Mac.

Traditionally, over the past 35 years, there is a 175-200 basis point difference between the 10-year Treasury and the 30-year mortgage rates.  However, recently, the spread has been 300 basis points.  Some experts explain this to indicate that the Fed’s tactics for lowering inflation is working and the mortgage market will soon respond which is indicated by lower rates in the past few weeks.

“The gap between the 30-year fixed mortgage rate and the government borrowing rate is much higher today than it has been historically,” NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun, said. “If we didn’t have this large gap, mortgage rates wouldn’t be 7%, they would be 5.8%.”

There is opportunity for prospective buyers in today’s market.  The slowing of housing sales, down 34% from December 2021, have changed the environment buyers were experiencing in 2020 and 2021.  Instead of having to pay a premium over the list price, many sellers are willing to negotiate on price.

Without multiple offers being the normal, buyers can expect to include contingencies for financing, appraisal, inspections, and possibly, the sale of a home currently under contract.

Some buyers who are confident that mortgage rates will come down soon have opted to purchase now with an adjustable-rate mortgage.  This can lower the rate by about one percent for the first period which can be five years.  When mortgage rates returned to acceptable, the borrower could refinance to a fixed-rate mortgage.

Another option to consider would be to do a buydown on the mortgage rate.  Assuming that in the “softer” market, the seller would accept an offer to buydown the interest rate for the first two years.  It would allow the buyer to purchase at today’s prices, with much lower payments for the first two years.

Example

$500,000 Purchase Price, 80% loan-to-value @6.13% for 30 years | Cost of buydown – $8,934
 1st year2nd yearRemainder
Payment Rate4.13%5.13%6.13%
P&I Payments$1,940$2,179$2,432
Monthly Savings$492$253 

This type of mortgage is a standard, conforming, fixed-rate loan where the buyer must qualify at the note rate.  The payment for the first year is 2% less than the note rate and for the second year is 1% less than the note rate.  The difference must be paid in advance at closing and in the case of this example, the seller paid it based on contract negotiations.

During this period of lower payments, if the rate comes down, they could refinance the property.  Let’s further assume that the rates come down at the end of the first year.  If the property is refinanced before the pre-paid interest is owed, the lender is required to reimburse the borrower which could be applied toward the cost of refinancing.

When the mortgage rates do return to an acceptable rate, there may be considerable pent-up demand from the mortgage-ready buyers who were priced out of the market.  This could lead to another seller’s market where high competition results in prices above list price and sellers not willing to accept contingencies.

Temporary rate buydowns have been available for decades.  Their main purpose is to help a borrower get into a home with lower payments initially.  In some cases, they need it because they depleted their cash reserves on the down payment; in other situations, maybe, they are upwardly mobile and expect to be making more income soon.

The reason lenders across the country are talking about them now is because they provide a reasonable and viable alternative to buying a home at today’s prices without having the higher payment initially for the current rates.  It especially makes sense if you believe that rates are coming down soon.

I can give you more information about this and explain how you can negotiate with the seller to pay the fee to get this type of loan.  Call me at 971-337-9396.

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If you’re on the sidelines, at least get ready…

January 23, 2023

If you’re on the sidelines to buy a home, there are things you can do to be ready when you do get back in the game.

Improve your credit score to qualify for the best mortgage rate available which are reserved for those with the highest scores.  Get a copy of your current credit reports from all three of the main credit bureaus: Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian.  You can get them at AnnualCreditReport.com without paying for them.

While you won’t see a credit score on these reports, you will see a history of your available credit accounts.  According to the Federal Trade Commission, one in five people have at least one error on one of their credit reports which can lower your score or increase the cost or likelihood of receiving new credit.  Identify and correct these mistakes. 

Explain in writing the error in the report and include copies of documents that support your dispute.  Both the credit bureau and the business that supplied the information must correct the information that is in error.  There will not be a fee to correct it.  You can get specific info for the process on each credit reporting companies’ website and from the FTC Consumer Advice.

There is a term call “credit utilization” which describes how much of your available credit on each revolving account is currently being used.  If the limit on one card were $10,000 and you had a $5,000 balance, the utilization ratio is 50%.  Amounts above 30% can negatively impact your credit score even if you do pay the balance each month.

Any delinquent items that may appear on your credit report need to be cleared up.  Regardless of whether there is a legitimate reason, it needs to be explained to the credit bureau.  Beginning in 2023, medical collections less than $500 will no longer be reported on consumer credit reports.

Continue to save for a down payment because mortgages less than 80% of loan-to-value require mortgage insurance which increases the monthly payment.  The exception to the rule is for VA loans which do not require it.  The cost of mortgage insurance could add 0.5% to 2% or more to the payment.

Lower your debt-to-income ratio by paying off installment loans for cars, boats, and other things.

While there are legitimate credit repair services available, you may be able to get excellent advice from a trusted mortgage professional.  You’ll eventually want to be pre-approved before you start looking at homes.  I can make a recommendation to connect you with someone who will get you ready to get back into the game.

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Negotiating Your Position

January 17, 2023

The seller wants the most for their home and the buyer wants to pay the least possible.  From the very beginning of the homebuying process, there are adversarial positions between the principals.  If you happen to be in a multi-offer situation, it just complicates things further.

Then, there are the emotions that tend to cloud the decision making on both sides of the transaction.  Sellers have lived in the home for years, possibly, with cherished family experiences and maybe, having put considerable effort and money into capital improvements.

On the buyer side, they may have lost out on several homes due to competing offers and now, this year, interest rates have doubled, and the discretionary funds required to pay for a home could be causing cuts in their budget in other areas.

A year ago, buyers were waiving contingencies for financing, appraisals, inspections, and other things just to be competitive.  Today, to make the home more affordable with the higher mortgage rates, buyers need the seller to make financial concessions but who is going to make their case to the seller for them?

The role of a third-party negotiator played by the real estate professionals has always been valuable to the success of the transaction but now, it may even be essential.  Sellers enjoyed an extraordinary market in their favor for the past two years with incredible appreciation and so many buyers chasing so few homes, the sellers were able to write their own ticket.

Inflation and mortgage rates have put the brakes on the market, eliminating over 15 million mortgage-ready buyers.  The buyers who are still in the market need to be cautious, so they don’t overextend themselves and overpay for a home.

The agents can assist both the buyers and sellers in seeing things in an objective way that reflects the current market and not the way it was a year ago.  All parties must be reasonable and not expect too much.  They need to consider facts and not feelings.

Negotiating the sale or purchase of a home is a competition; for one person to get something, someone must give something up.  If a person doesn’t feel comfortable with this, it is important to work with an agent who can bring their skills to the table on your behalf.  As your advocate, they can champion your position and put transactions together that would not have been possible if it were left to the principals alone.

Negotiation skills are acquired through training and experience.  When interviewing an agent, ask them what role negotiation plays in their marketing plan if you’re a seller and purchase plan, if you are a buyer.  An agent who cannot defend their position in the transaction may not be the right person to defend yours.

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© 2023 Leigha Carver
1008 12th St SE, Salem, OR 97302
Broker Licensed in the State of Oregon