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Another Tool to Improve Affordability

October 3, 2022

The rapid rise in mortgage rates during 2022 coupled with continued appreciation of home prices have limited the number of buyers in the market which is reflected by the lower number of home sales currently.  “It’s a fact that many households are impacted by higher mortgage rates as they no longer earn the qualifying income for the median-priced home.” Nadia Evangelou, NAR Economist

One of the things that agents are doing to help buyers lower their house payments is to suggest an adjustable-rate mortgage.  The rates on these types of loans are tied to indexes that reflect the current market rates and produce less risk for the lender.  The payments adjust on the anniversary date based on the index plus margin named in the note.

While many people think that they only adjust upward, they also adjust downward when the index indicates it.  For the week of September 29, 2022, the Freddie Mac 5/1 ARM was 5.03% compared to the 30-year fixed-rate of 6.70%.

Another tool that experienced agents are using to address affordability issues are interest rate buydowns.  In recent years, there have not been many buydowns used because interest rates were already very low, but now, more people are considering them again.

A buydown is prepaying the interest on a mortgage at the time of closing to lower the payment for a specific period or for the term of the mortgage.  Obviously, it would be more expensive to buydown the rate for the whole term of the mortgage.

Either the seller or the buyer can buydown the rate and it would be specified in the sales contract.  From a practical perspective, sellers in the recent past haven’t had to consider this option because of the high demand and multiple offers that were commonplace.  Now that sales have slowed, and both inventory and market time is increasing, some sellers want to make their homes more marketable and are seeking a competitive advantage.

A common temporary buydown is called a 2/1 which reduces the payment in the first two years of the loan by calculating the borrower’s payment at 2% less than the note rate for the first year and 1% less than the note rate for the second year.  Years three through thirty, the payment would be the normal payment at the note rate.

A buydown is a fixed rate, conforming mortgage that the borrower must qualify at the note rate to indicate that borrowers will be able to afford the mortgage after the first two years of lower payments.

As an example, on a $400,000 sales price with a 90% mortgage at 5.54% interest for 30-years, the normal principal and interest payment would be $2,053.08.  By using a 2/1 buydown, the payment for the first year would be at 3.54% interest, 2% lower than the note rate, making the payment $1,624.61.  The second year, it would be at 4.54% interest, 1% lower than the note rate, making the payment $1,823.63.

The buyers’ payment would be $428.47 lower each month for the first year and $220.45 a month lower for the second year.  The total savings would be $7,787.04 which becomes the cost of the 2/1 buydown.  This amount must be paid at the time of closing by either the seller or the buyer.

2/1 Buydown Example1st Year2nd Year3rd … 30th Years
Interest Rate4.7%5.7%6.7%
Principal & Interest Payment$1,867.10$2,089.44$2,323.00
Monthly Savings$455.90$233.56 
Annual Savings/Total Savings$5,470.80$2,802.72$,8,273.52

The most prevalent providers of buydowns in the past have been builders.  It is a concession like paying closing costs or upgrades for the buyer.  As sales have started to slow, some builders in particular price ranges and areas are currently considering this benefit to close more sales.

To summarize: a buydown is a fixed-rate mortgage where the interest is pre-paid for a period to help the borrower with lower payments for a time.  A 2/1 buydown allows the buyer to have significantly lower payments in the first two years which will give them time to settle into the house while they can be confident of what the payment will be in years three through thirty.

The pre-paid interest is deductible for the buyer, even if the seller pays for it.  This is something that the buyer will want to talk about with their tax advisor when they are doing their income tax for that year.

If you are selling a home, talk to your listing agent about this option to increase marketability.  If you are a buyer, discuss this as an affordability option.  If your agent isn’t familiar with buydowns, ask them to research it with a trusted mortgage officer.  Buydowns are legal and have been available for decades.  The determining factor may be whether the market has softened enough that sellers are willing to consider them.

Interest rate buydown

September 29, 2022

Who does the market favor?

September 27, 2022

Who

Cause to Pause

September 26, 2022

Rising mortgage rates are causing some would-be buyers to pause their decisions until they determine whether rates are going to come back down.  While it may be possible, the probability is that prices are going to continue to increase.

On December 23, 2021, the 30-year fixed-rate, according to Freddie Mac, was 3.05% and is at 6.29% as of September 22, 2022, a 3.24% increase. On a $360,000 mortgage, the principal and interest payment went from $1,528 to $2,226.  The $698 difference represents a 46% increase in the payment.

It seems understandable to pause and see if rates will come down again, especially since they went up so fast, but it probably isn’t going to happen anytime soon based on the Fed’s position on controlling inflation.

The fact that inventories are growing slightly, and market times are increasing doesn’t negate that supply cannot keep up with demand and homes are continuing to appreciate, albeit, not as much as they did in 2021.

If a person waited a year to see if the rates come down but, in the meantime, the prices increased 10% and the rates stayed the same, the home in the example above, would have a $226 larger P&I payment.

As an alternative strategy, the buyer could purchase the home on a 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgage with a 4.64% rate for five-years.  Instead of $2,226 for the P&I payment for the fixed rate at 6.29%, the payment on the ARM would be $1,926, a $300 savings.

They would have purchased the home at today’s prices, avoiding appreciated prices and would have five years to refinance at a lower fixed rate should they come down.  Assuming the rate adjusted upward the maximum amount at each period, it would take over seven years to exhaust the savings on the lower payments for the first five years.

It is unfortunate that some buyers missed a window of opportunity to purchase last fall when mortgage rates were near an all-time low.  That window has closed, and it may not open again.  People who can still afford to buy, even though rates are significantly higher, are taking a risk waiting for rates to come down.  Even if they are correct, the prices will be higher, offsetting any possible savings. 

If they are wrong, both prices and rates will be higher, and they may be priced out of the market.

In the 1980s, when mortgage rates topped 18%, the best real estate agents in the country presented alternative financing choices to buyers.  If your agent hasn’t had conversations with you about alternatives to fixed rate financing, there could be options available that you need to consider.

Depending on your price range and individual situation, investigate local and state financial assistance programs, ARM Comparison2/1 Buydown, and Cost of Waiting to Buy and download our Buyers Guide.

Don’t Sell Your Current Home

September 23, 2022

Don't

Benefits of Homeownership

September 20, 2022

Benefits

Five Factors that affect the Sale of Any Home

September 19, 2022

Owners directly control four of the five factors that affect the sale of any home: price, location, condition, terms, and the agent you select.  The one thing you can’t control is the location of the home, but you can adjust the other factors to compensate for failings.

The seller controls the price of the home which determines its positioning in the marketplace.  If is priced too high, it will take longer to sell and, in some cases, for less than what it should have sold for because when it doesn’t sell immediately, it is assumed that there must be an issue with it.  If it is priced too low, the owner will not realize as much of their equity as they should.

Not pricing the home in the proper search brackets could keep the property from being exposed to potential and likely, buyers.  For example, if a home is priced at $399,000 to follow an age-old retail marketing principle, many of the most likely buyers will never know about it because they are searching for properties in the $400,000 to $450,000 range.

The seller also controls the condition of a property which affects not only the marketability of a home but indirectly, the price.  Homes in the best condition appeal to more buyers because for the most part, they are using their available cash for the down payment and closing costs and may not be able to afford to make cosmetic or more expensive improvements to the property.

Clutter can keep buyers from seeing your home, and more importantly, it will keep them from seeing themselves in your home.  There are three basic causes of clutter: there is too much stuff in the home; there is not enough space in the home; and there is no organization.

Selling a home is about positioning it to sell which sometimes means temporarily or permanently getting rid of things that make the home look small or distracts the buyers from seeing its potential for them.

Terms are the financial preferences established by the seller.  In a competitive market with multiple bids, a seller may not have to offer any terms such as a financing, appraisal, or inspection contingencies.  This will restrict the number of buyers who are financially able to pay cash and are willing to do so.

In lower price range homes, there could be a wealth of qualified buyers that need to use low down payment options, closing cost assistance from the seller, or other things.  When the seller consents to offer a variety of terms, the market of potential buyers increases.  The seller can still select the most qualified if they are not limiting protected classes.

The fourth marketing factor that the seller controls is the agent they select to represent them in the sale of the home.  Selecting the “right” person to market your home is very important and worth careful consideration.

Your agent will be the manager of the entire marketing process. They’ll position your home to be competitive with the other homes in your price range and area while attracting the broadest range of buyers possible.  Your agent will offer advice on what needs to be done before the property is offered for sale.  Your agent can also offer recommendations for a variety of service providers if work needs to be done.

There are a lot of professionals involved in the sale of a home like lenders, title officers, appraisers, inspectors, insurance agents, surveyors, and the buyer’s agent, just to name a few.  Your listing agent will coordinate the communications between the other professionals and negotiate directly with them.  Your agent’s role as third party negotiator is critical and you need to feel confident in their ability to serve your best interests.

  1. Price
    • Too high; not realistic
    • Doesn’t acknowledge Internet search range
  2. Location
    • A poor location can negatively affect price
    • Since location cannot change, must adjust price for a poor location
    • Condition
    • Clutter
    • Drive-up appeal
    • Deferred maintenance
    • Odors
    • Carpets
    • Lack of updates
  3. Terms (applicable to certain price ranges)
    • Buyer concessions like closing costs
    • Incentives like home warranty, appliances, floor covering, etc.
    • Buy-down interest rates
  4. The Agent you select
    • Experience
    • Knowledge of neighborhood
    • Promotional expertise

For more information, download the Sellers Guide.

Mortgage Rates in Perspective

September 19, 2022

Mortgage
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