When are the Negotiations Over?

The primary negotiation in a home purchase takes place when the contract is agreed upon that including the price, closing, and possession.   With inventory down over 19% in the past year and multiple offers being more of the norm than the exception, the first round of negotiations can be challenging.

Buyers and sellers alike feel relieved once it has resulted in an agreement, but experienced agents know there is more to come if there are contingencies for financing, inspections, or other things.  The competition for the home may be so tough that the buyer waived their rights for what would be normal contingencies.

Financing is one of the most common contingencies in normal situations but when multiple offers are involved, the cash offers tend to have the advantage.  If you don’t have the resources to make a cash offer, the next best position is to be pre-approved with a commitment letter from the lender.  Arrange for the lender to confirm the pre-approval directly with the listing agent prior to the listing agent presenting the offer.

There have been buyers who know they don’t have the cash to close and apply for a mortgage anyway and try to reinsert the provision outside of the contract.  Experienced listing agents will advise the seller to have the buyer provide proof of funds necessary to close and verify that they do indeed exist.

The purpose of an inspection is for the buyer to receive an objective evaluation of the condition of the home and its components to identify existing defects and potential problems.  The expense for inspections can be several hundred dollars and it’s reasonable for buyers not to want to spend the money before they find out if they can come to terms with the seller.  From a different perspective, sellers want to know quickly if the buyer is going to reject the home due to the inspections because they could be losing time.   For that reason, inspection time frames are limited to a few days from acceptance of the offer.

Sometimes, buyers will expect sellers to make all the repairs listed on the report and this is where the second round of negotiations begins. If the seller refuses, the negotiations can go back and forth until the other party accepts the offer on the table.

When purchasing a new home from a builder, it is expected for everything to be in working order; after all, it is new.  However, it is reasonable to expect that existing homes, that are not new, have a different standard.  While it’s understandable that buyers would want to be aware of major items that are not in “working order”, normal wear and tear of components based on their age should be expected.

In a highly competitive seller’s market, buyers might do whatever they can to get their contract accepted, realizing that there is another place to negotiate when they’re not competing with other buyers’ offers to purchase.

The negotiations involved in a home purchase are not complete until the buyer and seller have signed the papers and the title has passed to the buyer.  Up until the closing is finished, any item that comes up could prolong the negotiations.

For this to be a WIN-WIN situation, both seller and buyer must feel good about the negotiations that led to the transaction closing.  Neither party should feel that the other party had an unfair advantage over them.

Gary Thompson
CRS, SRS, SFR, e-Pro, Broker Associate
Re/Max Masters
(801) 821-9292

5486604-AB00

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You don’t have to give an arm to get a lower rate

Rising interest rates compounded with increasing home prices are causing affordability issues for many buyers.  To keep payments low, you won’t have to give an arm, but more buyers are considering getting an ARM, adjustable-rate mortgages.

Mortgage rates are near their highest point since 2009.  “While housing affordability and inflationary pressures pose challenges for potential buyers, house price growth will continue but is expected to decelerate in the coming months,” said Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s Chief Economist.

A $400,000 home with a 10% down payment and a 30-year term has the choice of a 5.27% fixed rate or 3.96% for a 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgage.  The principal and interest payment will be $1,992.40 for the fixed rate and $1,710.40 for the adjustable-rate saving the buyer $281.99 per month for five years.

There is an additional saving for the buyer choosing the adjustable-rate mortgage because the unpaid balance at the end of the five-year first period is $6,429 less than the fixed rate.  The total savings to the buyer on the adjustable-rate during the first period is $23,348 or $389.13 per month for sixty months.

At the end of the first period, the rate on the mortgage can adjust according to the then, current index plus the margin subject to the caps as specified in the note.  These safeguards remove control from the lender or servicer from arbitrarily raising the rate.

The caps restrict the payments from going up more than a certain amount at each period or overall, for the life of the mortgage.  A common cap might be that it cannot adjust more than 2%, up or down, at any given adjustment period or 6% above or below the initial note rate.

Adjustable-rate mortgages must adjust downward if the index indicates a reduction at the anniversary of the adjustment period.  The overall trend has been lower rates for the past thirty years until recently.

Using an Adjustable Rate Comparison tool, you can project a breakeven point to determine at what point the ARM would be more expensive than the fixed rate, assuming a worst-case situation where the rates would increase the maximum at each period.

In the case of the previous example, the breakeven would occur at 7 years and 6 months.  This means that if the buyer were to sell the home prior to that projection, the ARM would provide the cheapest cost of funds to purchase the home.  On the other hand, if the buyer knew they would stay longer than that, it might be a safer option to go with the fixed rate.

It is good to be aware of available options when financing a home.  Analyzing, and using the best information available, can help you make an informed decision.  Make your own comparison using our ARM Comparison.  Current interest rates can be found on Freddie Mac.

Gary Thompson
CRS, SRS, SFR, e-Pro, Broker Associate
Re/Max Masters
(801) 821-9292

5486604-AB00

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Coordinating the Sale and Purchase of Your Home

Usually, it is easier to buy a home than to sell a home but that isn’t necessarily the case currently. In today’s market, it can be scary to sell your home before buying another because you could find yourself without a home.

Most sellers will not accept a contingency on the sale of a buyer’s home in today’s market.  So, let’s look at some of the alternatives that homeowners are using to facilitate the transactions. 

If you have the income, credit, and cash available, the replacement home can be purchased with a new 80-90% loan-to-value mortgage and sell the existing home after you have moved into the new home.  This would require making two payments for a while but probably gives the seller the least amount of pressure to find the replacement property before the existing one is put on the market.

If the mortgage on the new home has the option to recast the payment, additional down from the equity in the previous home after it sells would lower the payments without causing any additional expense to refinance.

Another alternative may be available if your home has enough equity to borrow against it in a Home Equity Line of Credit or a bridge loan.   This type of loan is generally made by banks who will loan qualified owners up to 80% of the appraised value less the current mortgages on the property.  Freeing up the equity in your existing home will give you a down payment for purchasing the new home before you sell the previous one.

If a seller has assets in qualified retirement programs, it is possible to do temporary loans against them to facilitate the interim purchase.  There can be penalties on some of these if they are not repaid in a timely manner.  It would be good to investigate with your tax professional to see if this is a viable option.

Hard money lenders provide a source that will be more common to investors than homeowners.  These types of loans are generally approved and funded quickly, have less requirements than bank loans and provide funding for projects that cannot be financed elsewhere.  Interest rates are higher than bank loans, are written for short terms (1-2 years), and usually require 25-30% down payment or equity.

Power Buyers and iBuyers offer to purchase your home for cash and provide a quick closing.  Deeper investigation into these options may reveal that you will not receive the full equity of your home because they have to discount the home to cover the expenses they will incur as a seller.    

In today’s very complicated market, the value of a real estate professional representing your best interests, providing you advice, options and experience has never been greater.  While there are similarities in transactions, each one is unique, and you certainly need a professional to be guiding you through the process.Agents are trained and experienced in coordinating the purchase and sale of homes.  This can be especially beneficial in navigating unfamiliar waters.

Gary Thompson
CRS, SRS, SFR, e-Pro, Broker Associate
Re/Max Masters
(801) 821-9292

5486604-AB00

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A New Opportunity for Homebuyers

You may not have heard of anyone assuming an existing mortgage for over thirty years and didn’t know they were even possible any longer.  The reason is simple, it didn’t make financial sense but now that interest rates are increasing, it may be an opportunity for some homebuyers.

Conventional loans added clauses to mortgages back in the early 80’s that gave the noteholder the right to raise the interest rate if a loan was assumed, as well as require the new buyer to qualify for the loan.  This essentially ended the practice of assuming conventional mortgages.

Then, in the late 80’s, FHA and VA mortgages did impose the right to qualify the new buyers, but the big difference was that the mortgage rate would remain the same as the original borrower.  Even so, it still effectively ended the assumptions of FHA and VA mortgages because rates on mortgages trended down for the next thirty years.

There was really no benefit to assume a mortgage that still required qualifying because it was possible to obtain a new mortgage with a lower rate.  Generations of buyers have never even contemplated assuming a mortgage but now, in 2022, it might well be an alternative that will lower the cost of buying a home.

Mortgage rates hit a bottom in early 2021 and have been increasing since, this year especially. 

Since qualifying is required for assuming an FHA or VA mortgage and only owner-occupants are eligible, you might be asking what are the benefits?  If the interest rate on the existing mortgage is less than the rate on a new mortgage, there could be a savings.

In addition to that, there are fewer closing costs involved on assumptions of FHA and VA mortgages than originating new mortgages.  Another benefit is that assuming an existing mortgage will be further into the amortization schedule than a new one which means equity-buildup occurs faster.  And finally, lower interest rate loans amortize faster than higher rate loans.

The rub in this situation is that many buyers don’t have enough money to purchase an equity but there is a remedy for that.  Let’s assume the buyer was considering a 90% conventional loan.  If they identified a home with an assumable mortgage, they could put the same 10% down payment in cash, subtract the existing mortgage balance from what would be the 90% new mortgage and secure a second mortgage for the difference.

There are lenders that make this type of loan and buyers need to shop and compare rates and fees on them just like they would if they were getting a new first mortgage.  Your agent can suggest lenders for second mortgages.

Most search filters on portal websites do not include assumable mortgages.  You will need to rely on your agent to ferret them out.  If the agent you are working with hasn’t suggested assumptions, it may be that they are unaware of their existence.

Gary Thompson
CRS, SRS, SFR, e-Pro, Broker Associate
Re/Max Masters
(801) 821-9292

5486604-AB00

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Assumptions Make Sense Again

Existing FHA and VA mortgages are assumable at the note rate to owner-occupied buyers who qualify.  This can be an alternative to paying higher, current rates and benefit buyers with lower closing costs while saving money on the payment.

For the last 20 years, rates have been steadily coming down and there was no reason to qualify for the assumption when a new loan had a lower interest rate.

Assuming an FHA or VA loan with a lower interest rate will obviously mean lower payments but it will also build equity faster because the amortization schedule is advanced from a new 30-year mortgage.  Another benefit is that the acquisition costs on an assumption are much lower than starting a new loan.

In the example in Table One, a couple bought a home two years ago for $400,000 with a 3% FHA mortgage that has principal and interest payments of $1,656.  It is now worth $435,000.

Let’s look at a hypothetical situation involving the sale of this home after two years.  The savvy listing agent explains that the home may have additional marketability due to the assumability of the FHA mortgage in place.

In scenario #1, the buyer purchases it for $435,000 with 10% down payment at the then, current rate of 5% for 30 years.  The principal and interest payment is $2,102.  If the home appreciates at 4% annually the equity will be $230,989 in seven years.

In scenario #2, the buyer purchases it at the same price with the same down payment but assumes the 3% mortgage with 28 years remaining.  Since he doesn’t have enough cash to buy the equity, he gets a second mortgage for the balance at 5%.  The combination of the payments on the first and second are $1,739 or $363 less than the payments in scenario #1.

In seven years, the $363 savings accumulated to $30,492.  The future equity is $21,457 larger on the assumption because the first mortgage is at a lower rate and the loan is amortizing faster.  In this example, the buyer is much better off assuming the FHA mortgage.

There will be a challenge in identifying which homes for sale have assumable FHA or VA mortgages because for decades it didn’t make much difference to list it in the description.  Many MLS’s are not even including fields for existing mortgages.

Finding the “Right” home for a buyer is important but equally important is finding the “Right” financing.  Not all agents have the training or the tools to identify the possible opportunities for buyers but the ones who do are invaluable.

Gary Thompson
CRS, SRS, SFR, e-Pro, Broker Associate
Re/Max Masters
(801) 821-9292

5486604-AB00

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In Search of a Big Mortgage – 12/8/2021

The Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loan limits are adjusted annually to keep up with cost of living but with the appreciation experienced in many markets, it may not be enough. When the conforming loan limit is not enough, qualified buyers can turn to a jumbo loan.

The maximum loan limit on conforming, conventional loans for 2022 is $625,000 for a single-family home but is increased up to $937,500 for designated high price areas.  The underwriting guidelines for conforming loans are consistent with regards to things like minimum down payment, private mortgage insurance, debt-to-income ratio, minimum credit score and cash reserves required.

Jumbo loans are loans more than the FNMA maximum limits and are considered non-conforming loans.  This allows lenders to set their own requirements on maximum loan amount, minimum required credit score, maximum debt-to-income ratio, and minimum down payment.

The rates paid on the jumbo loans may be the same as conforming loan rates.  It might sound logical that a larger loan would have more risk and therefore, be priced higher.  Lenders do not sell jumbo loans to FNMA which saves them the guarantee fee normally required.    This makes the jumbo loan more profitable.  Borrowers are encouraged to shop the rates. 

A minimum credit score of 700 will probably be required together with a debt-to-income ratio below 45%.  While many borrowers seeking a jumbo may be putting 20% down, it is possible to find a lender who may only require 10% down payment.  Lenders may be more lenient with regards to mortgage insurance.

Lenders may also require six to twelve months of cash reserves due to the increased risk of the larger loan amount.

It is a common practice for banks to make jumbo loans to attract other business that the borrower might be able to influence like company, corporate, or investment accounts.

Gary Thompson
CRS, SRS, SFR, e-Pro, Broker Associate
Re/Max Masters
(801) 821-9292

5486604-AB00

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Cash-Out Refinance

With the rapid appreciation that homes have had in the last two years, most homeowners have equity.  A common way to release part of the equity is to cash-out refinance but some homeowners may not be eligible currently.

This type of loan replaces the current mortgage by paying it off and an additional amount of cash for the owner.  Generally, lenders will consider a new mortgage up to a total of 80% of the current value.

Typically, the rate on a cash-out refinance will be slightly higher than a traditional purchase money mortgage.  As is in any lending situation, the rate depends on the borrower’s credit and income.  The best interest rates are available to borrowers with higher credit scores, usually over 740.

Loan-to-value can affect the rate a borrower pays also.  A 70% loan-to-value mortgage could be expected to have a lower interest rate than an 80% LTV because there is a larger amount of equity remaining in the property and therefore, less risk for the lender.

There are no restrictions on how the owner can use the money.  It can be used for home improvements, consolidating debt, other consumer needs or for investment.

Eligibility Requirements as found in FNMA Selling Guide B2-1.3-03 Cash-Out Refinance Transactions

“Cash-out refinance transactions must meet the following requirements:

  • The transaction must be used to pay off existing mortgages by obtaining a new first mortgage secured by the same property or be a new mortgage on a property that does not have a mortgage lien against it.
  • Properties that were listed for sale must have been taken off the market on or before the disbursement date of the new mortgage loan.
  • The property must have been purchased (or acquired) by the borrower at least six months prior to the disbursement date of the new mortgage loan except for the following:
    • There is no waiting period if the lender documents that the borrower acquired the property through an inheritance or was legally awarded the property (divorce, separation, or dissolution of a domestic partnership).
    • The delayed financing requirements are met. See Delayed Financing Exception below.
    • If the property was owned prior to closing by a limited liability corporation (LLC) that is majority-owned or controlled by the borrower(s), the time it was held by the LLC may be counted towards meeting the borrower’s six-month ownership requirement. (In order to close the refinance transaction, ownership must be transferred out of the LLC and into the name of the individual borrower(s). See B 2-2-01, General Borrower Eligibility Requirements (07/28/2015) for additional details.)
    • If the property was owned prior to closing by an inter-vivos revocable trust, the time held by the trust may be counted towards meeting the borrower’s six-month ownership requirement if the borrower is the primary beneficiary of the trust.
  • For DU loan case files, if the DTI ratio exceeds 45%, six months reserves is required.”

Let me know if I can be of any help! Sincerely, Gary

Gary Thompson
CRS, SRS, SFR, e-Pro, Broker Associate
Re/Max Masters
(801) 821-9292

5486604-AB00 Contact Me Visit Website Subscribe to Newsletter

No Need to Make Common Mistakes

A successful home sale, considered by many owners, is to maximize their proceeds in the shortest time with the least inconveniences.  Just because it is a seller’s market doesn’t mean that homeowners can shortcut some of the steps that make it happen and they certainly need to avoid commonly made mistakes.

Pricing too high

Low inventory and high demand have contributed to the rising prices of homes.  NAR reports that the median sales price is up 17.8% in the past year and CoreLogic recently released data that July set new record growth of 18% year over year.  This might give sellers a false sense of security about overpricing their home

Pricing a home too high initially can limit activity, attract the wrong buyers and ultimately, cause the home to realize a lower price than optimum.  There is an interesting dynamic that takes place when there is a shortage of homes to show, and a new home hits the market.  Buyers, who have been in the market but not purchased yet, will rush out to see the home.  They are familiar with what homes are selling for and possibly, have even lost bids on one or more.

These savvy buyers expect certain amenities based on the price of the home.  They can tell if a home is priced right or not.

Failure to do Market Preparation

There are people who will buy a home that is not pristine and does not have everything in good working order, but they usually will not pay top dollar for the home.  They recognize the money that needs to be spent and will adjust the price accordingly.

To command the highest price, the home needs to be spotlessly clean with everything working as it should be.  The home needs to be depersonalized to appeal to the broadest group of people.  The clutter needs to be removed so it isn’t distracting or give the impression that the rooms, counters, or closets are small.

It is important to evaluate if painting is necessary along with replacing floor covering, appliances and/or light fixtures.

Thinking the agent doesn’t matter

Market time is down to 17 days and 89% of homes are sold within a month.  These statistics might be used to rationalize that an agent is not currently playing an important role in the home but that would be a mistake.

Nine out of ten homeowners use an agent, and the four most important reasons were to help sell the home within a specific timeframe, help price the home competitively, help seller market the home to potential buyers and help the seller find ways to fix up home to sell it for more money.

Being present during showings

It may not be convenient, but sellers should try to leave the home when it is being shown.  Buyers like to look at the home freely and ask questions or point out things to their agent.  Sellers may have the best of intentions, but they have not established rapport with the buyer and don’t really know what is causing the questions.

Not letting your agent negotiate for you

The role the agent plays as third-party negotiator is one of the most important things an agent does for a seller.  It begins long before buyers even make an offer.  The protocol is for the buyer’s agent to go to the listing agent with the question and if necessary, they can ask you and get back to the buyer’s agent.

Buyers and sellers have inherently different objectives.  Sellers want the highest price and buyers want to pay the least.  Sellers want the terms of the contract in their favor and the buyers want them to favor them.  Buyers want lots of contingencies to let them out of the contract and sellers want the fewest possible contingencies.  Sellers want the most earnest money and buyers want to put up the least possible.

Agents are skilled at negotiation not only because of training but also experience.  Sellers’ experience is usually limited to personal transactions separated by years in frequency.   Agents see multiple transactions in their daily business and can guide people through difficult areas.

Not responding to offers in a timely manner

Normally, an offer can be withdrawn, at any time, up until the point that it is accepted.   The expression a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush reminds us that the offer you have is real and the ones in the bush, may never come to fruition.

A common situation occurs when there is large amount of activity on the home and an offer comes in quickly.  Instead of negotiating on that offer, the sellers wait to see if any better ones are received.  By waiting, the seller runs the risk of the buyer changing their mind.

Alternatively, in the same situation described, the seller may decide to put the home on the market on Saturday morning and let prospective buyers know that they will be deciding on all offers received over the weekend on Sunday evening.

Your agent is a valuable part of selling a home who can offer advice, bring perspective to the transaction, and suggest different ways to help you achieve your goals.  Once you have the right agent, everything else will start to fall into place.

Let me know if I can be of any help! Sincerely, Gary

Gary Thompson
CRS, SRS, SFR, e-Pro, Broker Associate
Re/Max Masters
(801) 821-9292

5486604-AB00 Contact Me Visit Website Subscribe to Newsletter

Deciding on Whether to Move

Some homeowners feel like they may as well throw a dart against the wall to decide whether to move or not.  Other people might invoke a process attributed to Benjamin Franklin.  Supposedly, to evaluate the options and bring clarity to the choice, this American founding father would list all the reasons for and against the decision on a sheet of paper.  After reducing it to writing, the choice would appear either by obvious majority or practicality.

Buying a home is an emotional decision but selling a home can be also.  Separating the rationale from the emotion can make decisions seem obvious but they may still not be crystal clear.

There is an inventory shortage that caused prices to rise and market time to shorten.  In many active markets there is less than 30-days’ supply of homes for sale which is half of what was available a year ago.  This will make it easier to sell and maximize the proceeds from your current home.

69% of economists who participated in the first quarter 2021 Zillow Home Price Expectations survey believe home inventory will begin to grow in the second half of this year or the first half of 2022.

Mortgage rates are near record lows which will keep payments at a minimum.  With the inflation rate in the United States expected to be between 2-3%, many borrowers consider that it balances with the mortgage rate to be an effective zero percent.

“Consumers are facing much higher home prices, rising mortgage rates, and falling affordability, however, buyers are still actively in the market,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist.  “At least half of the adult population has received a COVID-19 vaccination, according to reports, and recent housing starts and job creation data show encouraging dynamics of more supply and strong demand in the housing sector.”

The pandemic has allowed many buyers have the flexibility to work from home for now and in some situations, permanently.  That opens new location possibilities options that would not have existed if they had to commute to work daily.  Economists believe that the increased preference to work remotely will be a permanent shift even if it is only a part of the work week.

This provides opportunities for homeowners to relocate in an area that doesn’t have the high demand that their current area does and could benefit from more affordable housing for the replacement while possibly, maximizing the sales price of their current home.

Good information specific to your needs is essential to making good decisions.  Explore the possibilities with your real estate agent.  They can provide facts about the sale and purchase of another home.  Once you have the facts, you may use the Ben Franklin Balance Sheet to help you with your decision.

Gary Thompson
CRS, SRS, SFR, e-Pro, Broker Associate
Re/Max Masters
(801) 821-9292

5486604-AB00 Contact Me Visit Website Subscribe to Newsletter

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vSOVDODz-kGlXJZpmu6MFw Gary Thompson, CRS, SRS, SFR, e-Pro, Broker Associate
Re/Max Masters
7070 S 2300 E
Suite 110
Salt Lake City, UT 84121
(801) 821-9292
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