Buying a house is an important decision and major investment. It’s also a step toward the American dream. Like many Americans, our heroes can be hesitant to make the leap. Many heroes often ask, “Should I buy a house in 2019?” or “When is the best time to buy a house”? It’s a great question. It’s an important question. There are many advantages to becoming a homeowner. But, if your circumstances are questionable, then it might be best to wait. Here are some historical trends and key housing market indicators for 2019 to consider before you decide to buy a home.
Look at Housing Market Key Indicators
One of the best ways to decide if you should buy a house is to look at the real estate market in your local area and try to determine if existing conditions work for your situation. Here are some national key indicators and trends to note, courtesy of the National Association of Realtors and Ellen Paris, Forbes.com contributor.
Home Inventory Levels
The old rule of “supply and demand” applies to the housing market. When there are fewer houses for sale (low inventory), house prices typically increase, because there are more buyers than houses for sale. When the inventory number of homes for sale is high, home prices typically drop because there are more houses available than buyers.
How does this help answer the question, “Should I buy a house in 2019?” Last year, was a competitive market for home buyers. There were more home buyers than houses for sale. Things improved throughout the year beginning in October and have continued to improve into 2019. The inventory forecast for 2019 is moderate, coming in between a 6-7 percent increase. This growth will be seen in the mid-to higher-end price tier, not the entry-level priced homes, making it tougher for first time home buyers.
Home Pricing History
Now for some bad news. Housing prices have been rising steadily the last few years, and this trend will continue in 2019. The national median-existing home price is expected to rise 3.1 percent in 2019, according to the National Association of Realtors. Buy a home today for $200,000 and that same home may cost you $206,200 by the end of the year. $6,200 is a lot of money. Prices are expected to climb throughout the year, and into 2020. If purchasing a home is something you’re seriously considering, you will likely pay more by waiting. Yes, continue to do your research. But, we recommend you speak with our local real estate and mortgage specialists and get the best answers to your questions. They will also explain how you can save money when you buy a home with Homes for Heroes.
Number of Days On the Market
The number of days the average home stays on the market can help determine if you’re in a hot or cool market. The longer a home stays on the market, the better it is for buyers. Sellers are more likely to reduce the price or accept an offer below their asking price when the home takes longer to sell. The average amount of time homes spend on the market has been dropping since 2010 and it’s expected to continue in 2019. That means home buyers will need their ducks in a row to act fast on the home they want.
Here’s where things get tricky. All the key indicators we’ve discussed so far are following general year-over-year trends. But the housing market fluctuates greatly depending on what time of year it is. Spring is the busiest home-buying season, so that’s when inventory and prices peak, and average days on the market decreases. But things slow down in the fall and winter months. So, depending on your goals and timeline, the market could look differently if you wait to buy a home.
The interest rate is a big topic of conversation this year, and probably one you’ve kept top of mind when asking, “Should I buy a house?” The Federal Reserve raised interest rates a couple of times last year. In 2018, the average rate for a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage was 4.54 percent, according to FreddieMac mortgage rate trend data since 1972.
In January, the Federal Reserve backed off their stance on raising interest rates, at least in early 2019. This is good news for potential home buyers like you. If you’re wondering how interest rates affect a potential homebuyer, essentially interest rate increases mean banks raise mortgage loan rates, costing home buyers more money over the life of their mortgage. Experts say rates will probably continue to increase throughout 2019 and go as high as 5.50 percent. Some experts predict more modest increases. Interestingly enough, rates have actually dropped since the beginning of the year. That’s great news for home buyers! The question remains when will they begin to increase again, and how swiftly?
Renting vs Buying a House
If you’re not a current homeowner you may be asking yourself, “Should I buy a house or rent?”. In addition to the national trends, you will need to understand your own financial situation. Consider these factors as you make your decision:
How is Your Credit?
For most potential buyers, federal interest rates don’t matter nearly as much as their credit history. That’s because the mortgage loan interest rate you get from a bank is largely determined by your credit score. People with lower credit scores typically pay higher interest rates. The difference in rates can add hundreds of dollars to your monthly mortgage payment. The smart way to go is to improve your credit score.
If you haven’t checked your credit lately, you may want to take a look at it. Every American is entitled to one free annual credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus. To get your report, go to www.AnnualCreditReport.com. But note, these reports will not contain your actual score. For that, you may need to pay a small fee. Many banks and credit card companies also offer credit score checks to their customers for free, so check to see if this service is available to you before paying for your score.
FICO scores (the most commonly used credit scores) range from 300 to 850. If yours is 670 or above, you’ll qualify for a better interest rate on a loan. If your score is less than 670, here are some ways to improve it:
- Pay down your credit card bills to within 10 percent of your limit. If your card’s limit is $1,000, your balance should be no more than $100. Doing this will increase your score almost immediately.
- Make all of your payments on time. One late payment can drop your score up to 100 points, but on-time payments will raise it.
- Check your credit report for errors. If negative information exists and you don’t recognize the account or the charge, dispute it.
- Never close a credit account. Even if you don’t use it, keep it open. Closing an account can negatively impact your score.
- If you have an account in default, request a “pay for deletion.” It’s an agreement made with your creditors that you’ll pay a debt in full or an agreed-upon amount in exchange for them deleting the negative information on your credit report. Simply paying off your debt will not raise your score unless the creditor deletes it from your record.
How is Your Income?
Most financial experts agree that your housing costs should total no more than 30 percent of your income. Ask yourself, “Can I find an affordable home based on what I’m earning now?” Also, look at your debt-to-income ratio. If you’ve got a high amount of debt and a relatively low income, it will be more difficult to get a home loan. Paying down your debt before applying for a mortgage can make things easier.
Do You Have Enough for a Down Payment?
Experts recommend putting down 20 percent or more when you buy a house, and there are a few reasons why. For starters, if you put less than 20 percent down, you’ll have to pay private mortgage insurance (PMI). On a $300,000 loan, that could cost you an extra $250 every month. Another reason to make a larger down payment is to protect yourself in the event that you have to move shortly after you buy the home. With a small or nonexistent down payment, you might find yourself underwater, owing more than you can sell the home for, if housing prices fluctuate. This is particularly important for heroes who work in professions where being transferred is a real possibility.
Do You Have Enough for Closing Costs?
In addition to a down payment, you’ll also need money for closing costs. Experts say you can expect to pay around 2 to 5 percent of the value of the property. So, on a $300,000 house, you’ll pay between $6,000 – $15,000 in closing costs. Working with Homes for Heroes specialists can often help save on some of your closing costs.
Your down payment and closing costs make up two of the four other costs of buying a house you will need to consider.
Should You Buy a House in 2019?
This is a lot to take in. Hopefully we provided some good information to help answer, “Should I buy a house in 2019?” Remember, not every market is the same. Just because certain trends are happening nationally doesn’t mean those same conditions are affecting the community where you want to buy a house.
So if you’re ready to buy, or simply want questions answered, register with Homes for Heroes. There’s no obligation. We’ll connect you with our real estate and mortgage specialist in your area who can give you accurate information about the community where you want to buy a house, and how your financial situation stacks up to make it happen. Heroes who use our real estate and mortgage specialists save an average of $2,400 when they buy a home. So, whether it’s in 2019 or somewhere down the line, Homes for Heroes wants to help you buy a house and save money in the process.