Do You Really Need Title Insurance?

Borrowers often ask me if they should purchase title insurance when buying a home. I always recommend that they speak with their attorney so as to make an informed decision. I have always purchased title insurance on the properties I have purchased as I am a believer in insurance as a foundation to any solid financial plan. Why do buyers question purchasing title insurance when the risk of loss is so high? After all, no one seems to question the need for homeowners or rental insurance. I believe the reason is twofold: (1) buyers do not understand the benefits of purchasing it, and (2) title insurance is unlike other types of insurance in that it covers issues that have already happened.

Indeed, there is a long list of risks covered by title insurance, but basically what the buyer is hedging for are the unknown or hidden hazards that might jeopardize his or her ownership in the home. Hidden hazards may include:

  • Liens that were not revealed in title exam or made known to settlement agent prior to closing. Normally, a title exam reveals any liens on the property which need to be paid off and released prior to closing. If, however, the title examiner overlooked a judgment, tax, or mortgage lien on the property or failed to note it in the title exam, the buyer would be liable to pay the lien incurred by the previous owner.
  • Boundary line issues that an accurate survey would not reveal.For example, if a survey failed to note that a neighbor’s shed encroached on the purchaser’s property, title insurance would cover the cost of removing the shed and resolving any accompanying boundary line dispute.
  • Forgery or lack of authority. If there was a forged signature on the deed in the chain of title, or a person or corporation signed a deed without authority to do so, the transfer of ownership to the buyer would be in question.
  • An unknown heir of a previous owner came forth to claim ownership in the property. For example, suppose a seller passed away and his three children sold the house to a purchaser. If an unknown fourth child later came forth to claim his quarter ownership in the house, the purchaser’s title to the property is in jeopardy.
  • Instruments executed under an expired power of attorney. 
  • Mistakes in the public record at the county in which the property lies. 

While lenders mandate that owners purchase lender’s title insurance (which only protects the lender’s interest in the property), homeowner’s title insurance is completely optional. It is a one-time fee that covers the owner for life.

 

80% of Renters Believe Homeownership is a Part of Their American Dream

According to the latest Aspiring Home Buyers Profile by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), 82% of surveyed renters desire to own a home in the future, with 80% believing homeownership is a big part of achieving their American Dream.

The profile went on to state that 50% of millennials believe that their rent will increase, with 20% believing that an increase in rent will be the catalyst that pushes them to consider buying a home vs. renewing their lease.

So, what is holding renters back?

80% of Renters Believe Homeownership is a Part of Their American Dream | Simplifying The Market

What would make renters take the plunge?

80% of Renters Believe Homeownership is a Part of Their American Dream | Simplifying The Market

NAR’s Chief Economist, Lawrence Yun believes that,

“Housing demand in 2018 will be fueled by more millennials finally deciding to marry and have kids and the expectations that solid job growth and the strengthening economy will push incomes higher.”

Yun goes on to warn that,

“However, with prices and mortgage rates also expected to increase, affordability pressures will persist. That is why it is critical for much of the country to start seeing a significant hike in new and existing housing supply. Otherwise, many would-be first-time buyers will be forced to continue renting and not reach their dream of being a homeowner.”

Bottom Line

If you are one of the many homeowners whose houses no longer fit their needs and are looking to move up to your dream home, now is a great time to list your starter home! First-time buyers are out in force looking to achieve their American Dream.

Whether You Rent or Buy, Either Way You’re Paying a Mortgage!

There are some people who have not purchased homes because they are uncomfortable taking on the obligation of a mortgage. Everyone should realize, however, that unless you are living with your parents rent-free, you are paying a mortgage – either yours or your landlord’s.

As Entrepreneur Magazine, a premier source for small business, explained in their article, “12 Practical Steps to Getting Rich”:

“While renting on a temporary basis isn’t terrible, you should most certainly own the roof over your head if you’re serious about your finances. It won’t make you rich overnight, but by renting, you’re paying someone else’s mortgage. In effect, you’re making someone else rich.”

Christina Boyle, Senior Vice President and head of the Single-Family Sales & Relationship Management organization at Freddie Mac, explains another benefit of securing a mortgage as opposed to paying rent:

“With a 30-year fixed rate mortgage, you’ll have the certainty & stability of knowing what your mortgage payment will be for the next 30 years – unlike rents which will continue to rise over the next three decades.”

As an owner, your mortgage payment is a form of ‘forced savings’ which allows you to build equity in your home that you can tap into later in life. As a renter, you guarantee the landlord is the person building that equity.

Interest rates are still at historic lows, making it one of the best times to secure a mortgage and make a move into your dream home. Freddie Mac’s latest report shows that rates across the country were at 4.22% last week.

Bottom Line

Whether you are looking for a primary residence for the first time or are considering a vacation home on the shore, now may be the time to buy.

Buying A Home Is More Affordable Than Renting In 54% Of US Counties

According to ATTOM Data Solutions’ 2018 Rental Affordability Report, “buying a median-priced home is more affordable than renting a three-bedroom property in 240 of 447 [or 54% of] U.S. counties analyzed for the report.”

For the report, ATTOM Data Solutions compared recently released fair market rent data from the Department of Housing and Urban Development with reported income amounts from the Department of Labor and Statistics to determine the percentage of income that a family would have to spend on their monthly housing cost (rent or mortgage payments).

Daren Blomquist, Senior Vice President of ATTOM Data Solutions had this to say:

“Although buying is still more affordable than renting in the majority of U.S. housing markets, the majority is shrinking as home price appreciation continues to outpace rental growth in most areas.”

However, the report also shows that the average fair market rent rose faster than average weekly wages in 60% of the counties analyzed in the report (266 of 447 counties). With rents rising, many renters should consider buying a home soon.

Bottom Line

Rents will continue to rise, and mortgage interest rates are still at historic lows. Before you sign or renew your next lease, let’s get together to help you determine if you are able to buy a home of your own and lock in your monthly housing expense.

Why Is There So Much Paperwork Required to Get a Mortgage?

Why is there so much paperwork mandated by the lenders for a mortgage loan application when buying a home today? It seems that they need to know everything about you and requires three separate sources to validate each and every entry on the application form.

Many buyers are being told by friends and family that the process was a hundred times easier when they bought their home ten to twenty years ago.

There are two very good reasons that the loan process is much more onerous on today’s buyer than perhaps any time in history.

1. The government has set new guidelines that now demand that the bank proves beyond any doubt that you are indeed capable of paying the mortgage.

During the run-up to the housing crisis, many people ‘qualified’ for mortgages that they could never pay back. This led to millions of families losing their home. The government wants to make sure this can’t happen again.

2. The banks don’t want to be in the real estate business.

Over the last seven years, banks were forced to take on the responsibility of liquidating millions of foreclosures and also negotiating another million plus short sales. Just like the government, they don’t want more foreclosures. For that reason, they need to double (maybe even triple) check everything on the application.

However, there is some good news in the situation.

The housing crash that mandated that banks be extremely strict on paperwork requirements also allowed you to get a mortgage interest rate around 4%.

The friends and family who bought homes ten or twenty years ago experienced a simpler mortgage application process, but also paid a higher interest rate (the average 30-year fixed rate mortgage was 8.12% in the 1990s and 6.29% in the 2000s).

If you went to the bank and offered to pay 7% instead of around 4%, they would probably bend over backward to make the process much easier.

Bottom Line

Instead of concentrating on the additional paperwork required, let’s be thankful that we are able to buy a home at historically low rates.

The Cost of NOT Owning Your Home

Owning a home has great financial benefits, yet many continue to rent! Today, let’s look at the financial reasons why owning a home of your own has been a part of the American Dream for as long as America has existed.

Zillow recently reported that:

“In reality, buying or renting a home is an intensely personal decision, with emotional and even financial considerations that go beyond whether to invest in this one (admittedly large) asset. Looking strictly at housing market numbers, there is a concrete point at which buying a home makes more financial sense than renting it.”

What proof exists that owning is financially better than renting?

1. We recently highlighted the top 5 financial benefits of homeownership:

  • Homeownership is a form of forced savings.
  • Homeownership provides tax savings.
  • Homeownership allows you to lock in your monthly housing cost.
  • Buying a home is cheaper than renting.
  • No other investment lets you live inside of it.

2. Studies have shown that a homeowner’s net worth is 44x greater than that of a renter.

3. Just a few months ago, we explained that a family that purchased an average-priced home at the beginning of 2017 could build more than $48,000 in family wealth over the next five years.

4. Some argue that renting eliminates the cost of taxes and home repairs, but every potential renter must realize that all the expenses the landlord incurs are already baked into the rent payment– along with a profit margin!!

Bottom Line

Owning a home has always been, and will always be, better from a financial standpoint than renting.

Mortgage Interest Rates Are Going Up… Should I Wait to Buy?

Mortgage interest rates, as reported by Freddie Mac, have increased over the last several weeksFreddie Mac, along with Fannie Mae, the Mortgage Bankers Association and the National Association of Realtors, is calling for mortgage rates to continue to rise over the next four quarters.

This has caused some purchasers to lament the fact that they may no longer be able to get a rate below 3.5%. However, we must realize that current rates are still at historic lows.

Here is a chart showing the average mortgage interest rate over the last several decades:

Mortgage Interest Rates Are Going Up… Should I Wait to Buy? | Simplifying The Market

Bottom Line

Though you may have missed getting the lowest mortgage rate ever offered, you can still get a better interest rate than your older brother or sister did ten years ago, a lower rate than your parents did twenty years ago, and a better rate than your grandparents did forty years ago.

Thinking About Buying? Know Your Credit Score

Knowing your credit score or getting a recent copy of your credit report is one of the first steps that you can take toward knowing how ready you are to start the home buying process.

Make sure all the information listed on your report is accurate and work to correct any mistakes. The higher your credit score, the more likely you will be to receive a better interest rate for your mortgage, which will translate into more ‘home for your money.’

Many potential buyers believe that they need a 750 FICO® Score or higher to be able to purchase a home. The truth is that according to Ellie Mae’s Origination Report, over 53% of loans were approved with a FICO® score under 750 last month!

Here are some tips for improving your credit score:

  • Make payments, including rent, credit cards, and car loans, on time.
  • Keep your spending to no more than 30% of your limit on credit cards.
  • Pay down high-balance credit cards to lower balances, and consider balance transfers to free up credit.
  • Check for errors on your credit report and work toward fixing them.
  • Shop for mortgage rates within a 30-day period — too many spread-out inquiries can lower your score.
  • Work with a credit counselor or a lender to improve your score.

Once you know your score, your next step will be finding a lender and getting pre-approved for a mortgage. Doing this will ensure that you know your budget before you start looking for your dream home.

Buying Remains Cheaper Than Renting in 39 States!

In the latest Rent vs. Buy Report from Trulia, they explained that homeownership remains cheaper than renting with a traditional 30-year fixed rate mortgage in the 100 largest metro areas in the United States.

The updated numbers show that the range is an average of 3.5% less expensive in San Jose (CA), all the way up to 50.1% less expensive in Baton Rouge (LA), and 33.1% nationwide!

A study by GoBankingRates looked at the cost of renting vs. owning a home at the state level and concluded that in 39 states, it is actually ‘a little’ or ‘a lot’ cheaper to own (represented by the two shades of blue in the map below).

Buying Remains Cheaper Than Renting in 39 States! | Simplifying The Market

One of the main reasons owning a home has remained significantly cheaper than renting is the fact that interest rates have remained at or near historic lows. Freddie Mac reports that the current interest rate on a 30-year fixed rate mortgage is 3.91%.

Nationally, rates would have to reach 9.1%, a 128% increase over today’s average of 4.0%, for renting to be cheaper than buying. Rates haven’t been that high since January of 1995, according to Freddie Mac.

Bottom Line

Buying a home makes sense socially and financially. If you are one of the many renters who would like to evaluate your ability to buy this year, let’s get together and find you your dream home.

Net Worth of Homeowners 44X Greater than Renters

Every three years, the Federal Reserve conducts their Survey of Consumer Finances in which they collect data across all economic and social groups. The latest survey data, covering 2013-2016 was released two weeks ago.

The study revealed that the 2016 median net worth of homeowners was $231,400 – a 15% increase since 2013. At the same time, the median net worth of renters decreased by 5% ($5,200 today compared to $5,500 in 2013).

These numbers reveal that the net worth of a homeowner is over 44 times greater than that of a renter.

Owning a home is a great way to build family wealth

As we’ve said before, simply put, homeownership is a form of ‘forced savings.’ Every time you pay your mortgage, you are contributing to your net worth by increasing the equity in your home.

That is why, for the fourth year in a row, Gallup reported that Americans picked real estate as the best long-term investment. This year’s results showed that 34% of Americans chose real estate, followed by stocks at 26% and then gold, savings accounts/CDs, or bonds.

Greater equity in your home gives you options

If you want to find out how you can use the increased equity in your home to move to a home that better fits your current lifestyle, let’s get together to discuss the process.