Homes Sold By Jessica Harless | NextHome Realty Center

Down Payment Assistance Programs Can Help You Achieve Homeownership

For many homebuyers, the thought of saving for a down payment can feel daunting, especially in today’s market. That’s why, when asked what they find most difficult in the homebuying process, some buyers say it’s one of the hardest steps on the path to homeownership. Data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows:

“For first-time home buyers, 29 percent said saving for a downpayment [sic] was the most difficult step in the process.

If you’re finding that your down payment is your biggest hurdle, the good news is there are many down payment assistance programs available that can help you achieve your goals. The key is understanding where to look and learning what options are available. Here’s some information that can help.

First-Time and Repeat Buyers Are Often Eligible

According to downpaymentresource.comthere are thousands of financial assistance programs available for homebuyers, like affordable mortgage options for first-time buyers. But, of the many programs that are available, down payment assistance options make up the large majority. They say 73% of the assistance available to homebuyers is there to help you with your down payment.

And it’s not just first-time homebuyers that are eligible for these programs. Downpaymentresource.com notes:

“You don’t have to be a first-time buyer. Over 38% of all programs are for repeat homebuyers who have owned a home in the last 3 years.”

That means no matter where you are in your homeownership journey, there could be an option available for you.

There Are Local Programs and Specialized Programs for Public Servants

There are also multiple down payment assistance resources designed to help those who serve our communities. Teacher Next Door is one of those programs:

“The Teacher Next Door Program was designed to increase home ownership among teachers and other public servants, support community development and increase access to affordable housing free from discrimination.”

Teacher Next Door is just one program that seeks to help teachers, first responders, health providers, government employees, active-duty military personnel, and veterans reach their down payment goals.

And, most importantly, even if you don’t qualify for these types of specialized programs, there are many federal, state, and local programs available for you to explore. And the best way to do that is to connect with a local real estate professional to learn more about what’s available in your area.

Bottom Line

If saving for a down payment seems daunting, there are programs available that can help. And if you work to serve our community, there may be even more opportunities available to you. To learn more about your options, let’s connect so you can start your homebuying journey today.

Courtesy of KCM

Homes Sold By Jessica Harless | NextHome Realty Center

Real Estate Voted the Best Investment Eight Years in a Row

Real Estate Voted the Best Investment Eight Years in a Row

In an annual Gallup poll, Americans chose real estate as the best long-term investment. And it’s not the first time it’s topped the list, either. Real estate has been on a winning streak for the past eight years, consistently gaining traction as the best long-term investment (see graph below):

Real Estate Voted the Best Investment Eight Years in a Row | MyKCMIf you’re thinking about purchasing a home this year, this poll should reassure you. Even when inflation is rising like it is today, Americans agree an investment like real estate truly shines.

Why Is Real Estate a Great Investment During Times of High Inflation?

With inflation reaching its highest level in 40 years, it’s more important than ever to understand the financial benefits of homeownership. Rising inflation means prices are increasing across the board. That includes goods, services, housing costs, and more. But when you purchase your home, you lock in your monthly housing payments, effectively shielding yourself from increasing housing payments. James Royal, Senior Wealth Management Reporter at Bankrateexplains it like this:

A fixed-rate mortgage allows you to maintain the biggest portion of housing expenses at the same payment. Sure, property taxes will rise and other expenses may creep up, but your monthly housing payment remains the same.”

If you’re a renter, you don’t have that same benefit, and you aren’t protected from increases in your housing costs, especially rising rents.

History Shows During Inflationary Periods, Home Prices Rise as Well

As a homeowner, your house is an asset that typically increases in value over time, even during inflation. That‘s because, as prices rise, the value of your home does, too. And that makes buying a home a great hedge during periods of high inflation. Natalie Campisi, Advisor Staff for Forbesnotes:

Tangible assets like real estate get more valuable over time, which makes buying a home a good way to spend your money during inflationary times.

Bottom Line

Housing truly is a strong investment, especially when inflation is high. When you lock in a mortgage payment, you’re shielded from housing cost increases, and you own an asset that typically gains value with time. If you want to better understand how buying a home could be a great investment for you, let’s connect today.

Courtesy of KCM

Homes sold by Jessica Harless | FHA Limits

FHA Loan Maximum Increase for 2022

Good news, the maximum loan amounts for FHA and Conventional Conforming is going up about 18% in 2022, and are effective 1-1-2022

New FHA loan limit for Harris and surrounding counties will be $420,680 – up from $356,362

New Conventional Conforming limit will be $647,200 –up from $548,250.

This is great news for FHA buyers that can now borrow over $64,000 more in 2022 using the more flexible FHA loan

This is really great news for conventional buyers, who can borrow almost $99,000 more, without having to use the more stringent NON conforming loan products 

If you are thinking about a move in 2022, now is the time to reach out to your local lender. If you don’t have a lender you know and trust. I can provide you with a list of several who have helped my past clients.  When you are ready to start your home search or list your home- let’s talk!

Together we’ll make your dream home your NextHome!

courtesy of:
Amal Boulos
Sr. Loan Officer | Network Funding, LP
New texas HOA laws

New Texas HOA Laws In Effect

Recent changes in HOA Laws benefit Homeowners, Home Buyers | Sellers,  and REALTORS®!

From the Texas REALTOR® magazine September/October 2021 issue: Several new REALTOR®-supported homeowners association reform laws took effect September 1. These changes will bring more balance between the rights of property owners and their property owners’ associations.

The 87th Texas Legislature passed these changes as Senate Bill 1588, which was authored by Sen. Bryan Hughes and Rep. Chris Turner.

  • Fees are capped for subdivision information ($375), resale certificates ($75), and updated resale certificates ($75).
  • TREC will create a publicly accessible central database of Texas HOAs by December 1, 2021. HOAs that have filed management certificates in county records before December 1, 2021, are required to file with TREC by June 1, 2022.
  • HOAs are required to maintain websites with management certificates and meeting information and notifications.
  • HOAs that have at least 60 lots or contract with a management company are required to file dedicatory instruments with the county and provide certain contact information on all dedicatory instruments and management certificates.
  • Property owners have new protections from negative credit reporting when a fine or fee is in dispute, and HOAs are required to give a detailed report of charges and offer a payment plan before reporting delinquencies.
  • New laws improve some conflicts of interest within HOA architectural review boards.
  • HOAs are barred from requiring access to lease agreements and are only allowed to request a tenant’s contact info and lease beginning and end dates.
  • HOAs are required to solicit bids for contracts for services over $50,000.
  • HOAs are barred from prohibiting certain pool safety enclosures, the installation of certain security measures on an owner’s private property, or certain religious displays.
  • HOA boards are required to provide members with timely notice about meetings.
  • New laws improve due process in dispute resolution and provide additional legal avenues when seeking resolution from a dispute with an HOA.
Homes Sold by Jessica Harless | NextHome Realty Center

Key Questions To Ask Yourself Before Buying a Home

Courtesy of Keeping Current Matters

Sometimes it can feel like everyone has advice when it comes to buying a home. While your friends and loved ones may have your best interests in mind, they may also be missing crucial information about today’s housing market that you need to make your best decision.

Before you decide whether you’re ready to buy a home, you should know how to answer these three questions.

1. What’s Going on with Home Prices?

Home prices are one factor that directly impacts how much it will cost to buy a home and how much you stand to gain as a homeowner when prices appreciate.

The graph below shows just how much experts are forecasting prices to rise this year:Key Questions To Ask Yourself Before Buying a Home | Simplifying The MarketContinued price appreciation is great news for existing homeowners but can pose a significant challenge if you wait to buyUsing these forecasts, you can determine just how much waiting could cost you. If prices increase based on the average of all forecasts (12.46%), a median-priced home that costs $350,000 in January of 2021 will cost an additional $43,610 by the end of the year. What does this mean for you? Put simply, with home prices increasing, the longer you wait, the more it could cost you.

2. Are Today’s Low Mortgage Rates Going To Last?

Another significant factor that should inform your decision is mortgage interest rates. Today’s average rates remain close to record-lows. Much like prices, though, experts forecast rates will rise over the coming months, as the chart below shows:Key Questions To Ask Yourself Before Buying a Home | Simplifying The MarketYour monthly mortgage payment can be significantly impacted by even the slightest increase in mortgage rates, which makes the overall cost of the home greater over time when you wait.

3. Why Is Homeownership Important to You?

The final question is a personal one. Before deciding, you’ll need to understand your motivation to buy a home and why homeownership is an important goal for you. The financial benefits of owning a home are often easier to account for than the many emotional ones.

The 2021 National Homeownership Market Survey shows that six of the nine reasons Americans value homeownership are because of how it impacts them on a personal, aspirational level. The survey says homeownership provides:

  • Stability
  • Safety
  • A Sense of Accomplishment
  • A Life Milestone
  • A Stake in the Community
  • Personal Pride

The National Housing & Financial Capability Survey from NeighborWorks America also highlights the emotional benefits of homeownership:Key Questions To Ask Yourself Before Buying a Home | Simplifying The MarketClearly, there’s a value to homeownership beyond the many great financial opportunities it provides. It gives homeowners a sense of pride, safety, security, and accomplishment – which impacts their lives and how they feel daily.

Bottom Line

Homeownership is life-changing, and buying a home can positively impact you in so many ways. With any decision this big, it helps to have a trusted advisor by your side each step of the way. If you’re ready to begin your journey toward homeownership, let’s connect to discuss your options and begin your journey.

Homes Sold by Jessica Harless | Next Home Realty Center

The Cost of Buying a Home – What Buyers Need to Know

Most buyers come into the home buying process with a budget already in mind. But if they match their home price to their available budget, they may end up in hot water come closing time. That’s why it’s so important to make sure as buyer,  you properly prepare for the hidden costs you’ll encounter on the road to homeownership. Here are a few expenses to be sure you are aware of.

Closing costs — Many of the closing costs are negotiable, but it’s common for buyers to pay most of them, particularly in a seller’s market. Mortgage fees, title insurance, recording fees, and appraisal fees are some of the small numbers that will add up to be the closing costs, which can vary and depends on the purchase price.
Moving costs — Once the closing is over and the home belongs to you, you’ll still have to shoulder the expenses of moving in. These numbers can vary depending on how far you’re moving and much of the moving labor you’re willing to do yourself, but you should know the answer to these questions before buying a home.

Utilities — While you may be able to afford the monthly mortgage payments, it’s important that you also consider the utility costs at your new home. Depending on their previous living situation, you may not think to consider the costs that come with water, electric, trash, and other necessary monthly utilities.

HOA Fees — If the property being considered is under the restrictions of a homeowner’s association, you could be looking at another few hundred a month in fees. Many HOAs provide services that you may find useful and worth the expense, but you may also want to look into what the HOA provides and make sure you feel comfortable signing on for the fees in exchange for whatever the service provides.

Property taxes — These are calculated based on the value of the property, as well as state and city regulations. This means that different properties even in the same city could come with different property taxes.

Insurance — Homeowners with a mortgage are almost always required to get homeowner’s insurance, so this is a non-negotiable expense for most buyers. The cost will depend on location and other factors, but you can expect their annual premium to be around a thousand dollars.

Once you have a complete understanding of the full financial picture of a home purchase, you may find that your budget has shifted. By getting this out of the way early, you will be looking at homes in your correct price range and will ultimately end up in a house that suits your needs and your budget.

Info courtesy of Russell Rhodes, SWBC Mortgage
20200529-MEM (1)

Top Reasons to Own Your Home

Top Reasons to Own Your Home [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM
Homes Sold by Jessica Harless | NextHome Realty Center

Some Highlights

June is National Homeownership Month, and it’s a great time to consider the benefits of owning your own home.
If you’re in a position to buy, homeownership might help you find the stability, community, and comfort you’ve been searching for this year.
Let’s connect today to determine if homeownership is the right next step for you and your family.

Homes Sold by Jessica Harless | NextHome Realty Center

Why Home Equity Is a Bright Spark in the Housing Market

Given how we have seen more unemployment claims than ever before over the past several weeks, fear is spreading widely. Some good news, however, shows that more than 4 million initial unemployment filers have likely already found a new job, especially as industries such as health care, food and grocery stores, retail, delivery, and more increase their employment opportunities. Breaking down what unemployment means for homeownership, and understanding the significant equity Americans hold today, are important parts of seeing the picture clearly when sorting through this uncertainty.

One of the biggest questions right now is whether this historic unemployment rate will initiate a new surge of foreclosures in the market. It’s a very real fear. Despite the staggering number of claims, there are actually many reasons why we won’t see a significant number of foreclosures like we did during the housing crash twelve years ago. The amount of equity homeowners have today is a leading differentiator in the current market.

Today, according to John Burns Consulting58.7% of homes in the U.S. have at least 60% equity. That number is drastically different than it was in 2008 when the housing bubble burst. The last recession was painful, and when prices dipped, many found themselves owing more on their mortgage than what their homes were worth. Homeowners simply walked away at that point. Now, 42.1% of all homes in this country are mortgage-free, meaning they’re owned free and clear. Those homes are not at risk for foreclosure (see graph below):Why Home Equity is a Bright Spark in the Housing Market | Simplifying The MarketIn addition, CoreLogic notes the average equity mortgaged homes have today is $177,000. That’s a significant amount that homeowners won’t be stepping away from, even in today’s economy (see chart below):Why Home Equity is a Bright Spark in the Housing Market | Simplifying The MarketIn essence, the amount of equity homeowners have today positions them to be in a much better place than they were in 2008.

Bottom Line 

The fear and uncertainty we feel right now are very real, and this is not going to be easy. We can, however, see strength in our current market through homeowner equity that was not been there in the past. That may be a bright spark to help us make it through.

 Keeping Current Matters – 5/6/2020
smart Home - Jessica Harless

TOP SMART HOME TRENDS FOR 2019

If there is one thing we know about the future, it’s that smart technology will increasingly be an everyday part of our lives. And the public is ready. Each year, sales increase on voice recognition products such as Amazon Echo, Google Assistant, and Apple’s HomeKit. Currently, 60 percent of customers have one or more of these items in their homes, and each year the IoT category (Internet of Things – devices that communicates together wirelessly) increases, resulting in more smart products that would make George Jetson feel right at home.

2019 brings us even more products and advancements that show how smart tech is smarter. Here’s a look at what we’ll see during 2019.

INCREASED HOME SECURITY AND SAFETY

Home video surveillance has been a success and you will see much more of it. Updated products from doorbell companies such as Nest and Ring provide detailed video of your front door, and neighboring cameras will coordinate to allow for additional views (with your neighbor’s permission). Along with a slew of video doorbell and camera products, there are also updated smart locks that give you automatic locking capability and easy access automatically via your app or voice technology.

Additional safety features on the rise include warnings of water leaks and fires, allowing you to catch issues sooner.

CLEANING

There are continued advances with vacuum robots and this year brings us to the next level. One ongoing issue with these products is the need for constant emptying, but the iRobot Roomba i7 automatically cleans itself, reducing the frequency of manual emptying.

Vacuum robots are growing in popularity each year. They clean automatically at your schedule, avoiding stairs and ledges and attacking dirtier areas through the help of laser sight technology. And their ability to automatically leave and return to a charging station means you don’t have to lift a finger.

Other advances in the cleaning category are new self-cleaning toilets and stoves as well as wifi controlling capability for washers, dryers, stoves, and dishwashers.

HOME FRAGRANCE

Fragrances are perhaps the biggest extension of the beauty tech category. Products from companies like Kompoz and Moodo become your personalized home fragrance concierge. They use a jukebox-style system for creating ambient scents to suit your mood or occasion. Moodo’s product called MoodoGo also offers this tech for your car.

BATHROOMS

The biggest news in this category has been in smart toilets. They are now motion activated, lighting when you approach. You can talk to your AI devices such as Alexa and Google Assistant, listen to music, and even activate a light show for ambiance. Not only do these toilets provide our favorite benefits of Japanese-style features such as seat warning and bidet technology, but they are also now self-cleaning. The Kohler Numi even has a foot warmer.

Other areas of the bathroom are seeing advancements as well. There are voice-activated shower and tub controls and increased tech with mirrors that allow you to check the weather, order replacement toiletries via Amazon Replenishment, and get beauty tips from the ever-expanding line of beauty tech.

KITCHENS

There is an increased focus on AI interaction on products throughout the kitchen such as coffee makers and Instapots and even faucets. With the limitations of voice technology, there is a need for more involved smart screens that provide more information and interaction, so we are seeing interactive screens on refrigerators and stoves. Refrigerators such as the Samsung Family Hub series of refrigerators have a built-in screen that functions much like a tablet. You can download recipes off the web or download apps that specialize in all things food-related, including delivery company apps for easy ordering. You can check your calendar, create a shopping list, let your kid’s hand draw notes, and enjoy favorite TV shows and music. These screens are also handy controllers for smart home devices including doorbells, lighting, and other smart kitchen devices, communicating with AI devices such as Alexa and Google Assistant.

Similar features are appearing on ovens, with additional benefits such as touch screen doors for easy-to-use controls and technology that automatically senses how long to cook an item. You can even watch your food cook on your smart device thanks to onboard cameras. You can control functions remotely and make sure it’s off when you’re not at home.

SMART TVS

For TV’s in 2019, the biggest news is they are getting larger, more detailed, and some models even fold like a roller shade such as the LG Display 65” TV. This rollaway design may make a TV’s constant presence in your living room a thing of the past. With smart tech, we are seeing a continued focus on voice recognition, allowing you to ask Alexa and other devices to start your favorite shows and adjust volume controls or pause it without a need to stare at your controller.

BABY TECH

New smart tech in baby care is working hard to make parenting easier. You can track your baby’s breathing, vital signs, and movement as well as record video and more accurately hear and speak. One surprising addition is Nanit’s creation of Breathing Wear – a swaddling blanket that works with its camera devices to provide breathing monitoring without the need for a cumbersome and uncomfortable hand or foot band.

PET TECH

It’s the dawn of a new day for pets. We are undergoing the refinement of “digital daycare,” allowing you to care for your furry friends while you are away, avoiding the cost and hassle of pet daycare. More advanced microchip technology will track your pet’s whereabouts and communicate wirelessly with pet doors, allowing your pet in and other intruders out.

There is more focus on devices that monitor, track, and report your pet’s every move using more advanced HD cameras, LCD displays, and monitor detectors. Pets can also call you, and I assure you they will. In between their calls, they will have more activities to keep them busy. They can enjoy puzzle games that provide treats, play with automatic ball launchers such as iFetch, and play specially designed game consoles with special touchpads.

There is also an increased focus on automatic feeders and waste disposals such as self-cleaning litterboxes and even a new smart toilet for dogs called InuBox.

WATCH FOR INCREASING SMART TECH IN THE FUTURE

The continued focus on smart technology means we will expect much more in the way of convenience. They will gladly take on the tasks you hate, making home life easier and more fun. It’s hard to argue with that.

reprint from luxury home marketing…

 

Affordability - Jessica Harless

How to Get a Better Perspective on Affordability

 

Headlines spotlight the fact that buying a home is less affordable today than it was at any other time in more than a decade. Those headlines are accurate.

Understandably, buying a home is more expensive now than immediately following one of the worst housing crashes in American history. Over the past decade, the market was flooded with distressed properties (foreclosures and short sales) selling at 10-50% discounts. There were so many that this lowered the prices of non-distressed homes in the same neighborhoods. As a result, mortgage rates were kept low to help the economy.

Prices have since recovered. Mortgage rates have increased as the economy has gained strength. This has impacted housing affordability. However, it’s necessary to give historical context to the subject of affordability.

Two weeks ago, CoreLogic reported on what they call the “typical mortgage payment”. As they explain:

“One way to measure the impact of inflation, mortgage rates and home prices on affordability over time is to use what we call the ‘typical mortgage payment.’ It’s a mortgage-rate-adjusted monthly payment based on each month’s U.S. median home sale price. It is calculated using Freddie Mac’s average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage with a 20 percent down payment…

The typical mortgage payment is a good proxy for affordability because it shows the monthly amount that a borrower would have to qualify for to get a mortgage to buy the median-priced U.S. home…

When adjusted for inflation, the typical mortgage payment puts homebuyers’ current costs in the proper historical context.”

Here is a graph showing the results of CoreLogic’s research:

How to Get a Better Perspective on Affordability | MyKCM

As the graph indicates, the most recent calculation remained 28% below the all-time peak of $1,275 in June 2006. That’s because the average mortgage rate at that time was 6.68%. As seen in the graph, both today’s typical payment and CoreLogic’sprojection for the end of the year are less than it was in January 2000.

Bottom Line

Even though home prices are appreciating at a slower rate, home affordability will likely continue to slide. However, this does not mean that buying a house is an unattainable goal in most markets. It is still less expensive today than it was prior to the housing bubble and crash.

courtesy of Keeping Current Matters