Is now the best time to sell your house?

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With the world having turned upside down over the past year, you may be taking stock of your life and considering major life choices.

 

Should I change my job?

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Should we have another kid?

Should I sell my house and move to another town?

 

Any large life event is one that should be carefully considered. In this article, we’ll look at whether now is a good time to sell your house by breaking down reasons to sell — and reasons to wait.

 

Related: Local housing market trends by city

Examining the Housing Market in 2021

The coronavirus pandemic brought an unprecedented demand for housing as more people needed houses that would accommodate the shift to working from home as well as kids attending school at home. Also, historically low-interest rates contributed to the sudden demand in housing.

 

Larger homes in the suburbs became a hot commodity, which raised the pricing for homes nationwide. The median house price rose 14.9% from August 2020 to August 2021. While the initial price hike has cooled a bit, experts believe that prices will still remain higher than normal through 2022.

 

So to summarize: Houses have been selling like hotcakes throughout the pandemic. This could provide a good opportunity to sell your house in some situations … but if you’re selling so you can buy another house, there’s more to dig into in order to answer the question, “Should I sell my house now?”

3 Reasons to Sell Your House

Now could be the smartest time to sell your house, depending on your specific situation. Here are some compelling reasons to sell your house in 2021.

Reason #1: Your House is Worth More Now

As you saw above, houses are now worth significantly more than they were a year ago. This isn’t the norm. If you wait to sell your house, you might see it go down in value from where it is now once demand cools. Do you want to take advantage of this rare opportunity or wait it out?

 

If, due to the spike in value, you have significant equity built in your home, it could be a great time to cash out and buy something else.

Reason #2: A Few Minor Repairs Could Increase Value

Even though your home is already likely worth more than it ever has been, you can even get more value out of it if you make common home repairs like replacing pipes or a water heater.

 

Also consider revamping your kitchen or bathrooms, since those are big influencers for people looking for a new home.

Even a fresh coat of paint can breathe new life into your home and make it all the more appealing on an already hot market.

Reason #3: Houses are Selling Fast

Looking to sell quickly? Now’s the time. Houses have, on average, only been on the market for 17 days before selling. Just be prepared to have to move out quickly and make sure you have a plan for where you’ll live next.

3 Reasons You Should Wait to Sell Your House

While there are some great reasons to sell your home right now, it may not be the right time for everyone. Here’s why you might want to wait.

Reason #1: You Can’t Afford to Buy

Selling in a seller’s market is great…but not so great if you need to buy another house, especially if you’re staying in the same area. Buying a house may be cost-prohibitive for you, especially when you factor in closing costs on top of the inflated pricing.

 

On the other hand, if you live in an expensive area, you could sell your home and move to another more affordable state.

Reason #2: You Owe More Than You Could Sell For

If you are upside down on your mortgage, selling won’t provide a solution. You may have taken out a second mortgage or not have paid enough on your first mortgage to recoup the expense by selling, even at an inflated price. That means you would still owe money on a house you no longer live in after selling.

 

If this is the case, it may be better to build equity over time before selling.

Reason #3: You’re Not Ready to Make Home Repairs

While making home repairs before selling could help you get more for your home, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have $30,000 laying around to make those improvements. If you know that certain repairs would help you get more for your house but you can’t afford to make them right now, it may be better to wait to sell until you can afford to invest in those home improvements down the road.

Tips for Selling (and Buying) a Home

Before coming up with your own answer to the question of “should I sell my house,” figure out how much you can afford to pay to buy another. If you can only afford a house that’s smaller than your current one, or in a neighborhood, you don’t want to live in, there’s not much point in selling only to end up worse off.

 

Look at comparables to understand how much homes are selling for in your neighborhood. Go to open houses to see what sort of updates and features sellers are offering so you have an idea of what to do to get your own house ready for sale.

 

Contemplate being represented by a real estate agent and doing it yourself. With the market so hot right now, you likely won’t need much in the way of promoting your home, and there are some great DIY sites that can cut down on the fees you pay to sell.

 

If you’re selling the house on your own, invest in professional photos rather than taking your own, and get the house staged (that means more than just removing all the toys and dog beds before a showing!). The better you present your home, the better the price you can command.

 

Remain patient if you’re also buying. It can feel frustrating to be outbid for what seems like the house of your dreams, but it’s a reality right now. Don’t force a decision — the right house will find you.

The Takeaway

Selling your house this year could be a smart financial decision, but it’s important to make sure you’re looking at the bigger picture with your finances.

 

Learn More:

This article
originally appeared on 
SoFi.com and was
syndicated by
MediaFeed.org.

 

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Guide to government home loans

 

Ah, home buying. It’s invigorating! Complex. Expensive, too. This is why the vast majority of homebuyers rely on mortgages to obtain their dream homes.

Conventional loans are the most popular, but government-backed loans are often easier to qualify for and may have lower interest rates and more lenient terms.

The powers that be offer a variety of mortgages and mortgage insurance programs that can keep your down payment and interest rates low. But raking through government websites can be exhausting and far less fun than comparing paint swatches.

So which government home loan might be right for your purposes? Here are the details.

Related: 20 most affordable cities based on cost per square foot of homes

 

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First of all, it’s important to understand that there are many types of mortgage loans.

Home loans range from fixed rate (meaning the interest stays consistent over time) to adjustable rate (interest rates can fluctuate with the market) and from conforming (meeting the amount caps established by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) to jumbo (very large mortgages).

For the purposes of this article, we’re mostly concerned with the difference between conventional mortgage loans — those originated by private banks and lenders — and government-insured mortgage loans, which are offered by private banks and lenders but backed or insured, by government institutions.

While conventional loans are the most popular type on the market, there are good reasons for borrowers to seek out government-insured loans.

Because lenders covered by government insurance can rest assured that they’ll get something for their trouble, even if borrowers default, government-backed loans are often easier to qualify for than conventional mortgages, and may have more lower interest rates and more lenient terms.

In some cases, government-backed loans or even loans offered directly by the government, can help families secure housing when doing so would otherwise be out of reach.

For example, the U.S. Department of Agriculture offers government-assisted home loans specifically for low-income rural families who cannot otherwise afford housing.

The government offers and insures a wide range of home loans and related financial assistantships, aimed toward everyone from first-time buyers to those looking to rehabilitate or refinance a residence.

Below, find our brief guide to the most common and well-known government home loans.

 

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The Federal Housing Administration offers mortgage insurance on single-family and multifamily properties, as well as residential care facilities like hospitals, and has been doing so since 1934.

For the everyday consumer, that can translate to a home loan with a low down payment and closing costs, as well as easier credit qualification than with many private lenders.

The FHA backs a variety of loans that cater to the specific needs of the borrower, such as FHA Reverse Mortgages for senior citizens and FHA Energy Efficient Mortgages for those looking to finance home improvements that will increase energy efficiency (and therefore lower housing costs).

However, FHA loans are perhaps most popular among first-time buyers looking for government home loans—in large part because of the low down payment requirement.

Borrowers with FICO credit scores of 580 or more may qualify for a down payment as low as 3.5% of the sales price of the home, whereas some conventional home loans may require 15% or even 20%. (Borrowers with credit scores under 580 are required to put 10% down even with an FHA government-insured loan.)

Most FHA loans do require mortgage insurance, although it’s not quite the same as the private mortgage insurance required in a conventional mortgage when a borrower can’t come up with a certain down payment.

FHA loan borrowers are required to pay an upfront mortgage insurance premium of 1.75% of the base loan amount, as well as an annual mortgage insurance premium whose rate is calculated based on the loan-to-value ratio and mortgage term.

Mortgage insurance premium rates range from 0.45% to 1.05% and are lower for those who opt for shorter mortgage terms.

 

 

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The USDA is another government entity that helps make homeownership more achievable for low-income Americans — specifically those who reside in, or are willing to reside in, rural areas. Two of its most popular programs are the Single Family Housing Guaranteed Loan Program and Single Family Housing Direct Home Loans.

Both programs require a minimum borrower credit score of 640, and both require the property to be in an area the department recognizes as rural.

(Generally, towns with populations less than 35,000 qualify, but the USDA offers an interactive map that can help consumers figure out whether or not a community is considered rural.)

The income requirements and application process differ, however. Here are the important distinctions.

 

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The Single Family Housing Guaranteed Loan Program is a government-insured mortgage that helps approved applicants purchase or improve rural properties.

Because it offers approved third-party lenders a 90% loan note guarantee, borrowers can receive 100% financing with absolutely no down payment, which is a pretty special deal.

Eligibility requirements state that borrowers’ income can’t exceed 115% of the median household income of the area, meaning the loan is directed toward low- to moderate-income families.

Interest rates depend on credit history and lender but are often lower than those associated with conventional loans.

 

KatarzynaBialasiewicz / istockphoto

 

Single Family Housing Direct Home Loans are offered, as the name suggests, directly from the USDA, making them different from most of the other government-insured loans discussed in this article. These loans provide payment assistance to qualified borrowers to reduce their mortgage payment for a limited period of time.

The program is for low and very-low-income applicants. The amount of assistance offered is based on borrowers’ adjusted family income, but as with Single Family Housing Guaranteed Loans, no down payment is required.

The interest rate on USDA Direct Home Loans can be as low as 1%, and may be repaid over a term of up to 38 years.

Along with meeting the income eligibility requirements — which are lower in this case — borrowers must also be without safe, decent and sanitary housing, and must be financing a property of 2,000 square feet or less in an eligible rural area, as defined above.

Along with home purchase costs, the funds from this loan program can also be used to to build, repair, renovate or relocate a home, as well as to cover costs associated with preparing land for dwelling such as drilling a well or installing a septic system.

 

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The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs insures conventional loans offered to service members, veterans, and eligible surviving spouses.

VA-backed purchase loans often result in better terms for the homebuyer. Case in point: Almost 90% of these loans don’t require a down payment.

While there’s no minimum credit score requirement on the VA side, the individual private lenders may have their own minimums — 580 to 660 is typical.

VA-backed borrowers may also be able to forgo private mortgage insurance or mortgage insurance premiums, as well as enjoy fewer closing costs and lower interest rates than they’d otherwise receive.

There is, however, a one-time VA Funding Fee, which lowers the cost of these loans to the taxpayer and is calculated based on the specific type and total amount of the home loan. The VA Funding Fee on purchase loans ranges from 1.4% to 3.6%.

The VA also helps those with existing home loans refinance their mortgages in order to reduce their interest rates or acquire cash that can be used toward other financial goals.

 

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Native American Direct Loans are offered directly by the VA to eligible Native American veterans and veterans married to Native Americans.

Like VA-backed purchase loans, those who qualify for an NADL can enjoy a $0 down payment and won’t have to pay private mortgage insurance or mortgage insurance premiums.

NADLs also offer borrowers a low, fixed interest rate repayable over a 30-year term. What’s more, the benefit is reusable, meaning a borrower can take out more than one of these loans in a lifetime. The funds can be used to purchase a residence as well as to build or improve one.

As with other VA loans, however, recipients of NADLs may be required to pay the VA Funding Fee. Borrowers will also need to provide documentation proving they earn a high enough income to cover their mortgage payments.

 

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While FHA, USDA, VA and NADL loans are probably the best known, there are even more government housing loans and assistantship programs available.

For instance, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development offers the Good Neighbor Next Door Program, which offers law enforcement officers, grade school teachers, and first responders a 50% discount on the list price of homes in eligible revitalization areas.

Participants must live in the property as their sole residence for three full years and sign a “silent second” mortgage for the discounted amount in case they fail to fulfill the three-year requirement.

In addition to its straightforward home loan program, the FHA offers 203k loans, which help borrowers buying older residences finance the extensive remodeling and repairs such properties often require.

These loans simplify the process by providing one source of funding for both home purchase and home improvement, though borrowers can also take out a loan for home improvement alone.

Finally, keep in mind that state governments may also offer additional homebuying assistance programs that can ease the burden of paying for a house. Check out HUD’s directory of state sites and programs for information.

 

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While government home loans can help low- and moderate-income families establish housing with low or no down payment and competitive interest rates, they’re not the only option on the market — and in some cases, a conventional loan can be an equally savvy money move.

For one thing, many government-backed home loans restrict which properties and borrowers are eligible to participate. Conventional loans can offer the borrower more agency and flexibility.

For homebuyers with credit scores in the “very good” or “excellent” categories and who have a substantial down payment, conventional loans may offer interest rates and terms that are nearly as attractive as those offered for government-backed mortgages.

And if you can put down at least 20% on a conventional mortgage, you’ll avoid paying PMI, whereas every FHA loan requires mortgage insurance premiums.

Learn more:

This article
originally appeared on 
SoFi.com and was
syndicated by
MediaFeed.org.

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