Pikes Peak Homes and Land
Chris J Clark, REALTOR®
Broker/Owner
Phone (719) 464-5839
Chris@PPHAL.com

Blog

The relationship between home ownership and net worth

During the span between 2019 and 2022, the COVID-19 pandemic significantly disrupted both society and economic activities. Nevertheless, the latest Survey of Consumer Finance, which has recently been unveiled, highlights widespread enhancements in the financial well-being of American families during this timeframe, especially concerning their net worth.

The median net worth of homeowners increased 37%, after adjustment for inflation, between 2019 and 2022.  This is the largest three-year increase in the history of the modern Federal Reserve Board’s triennial survey dating back to 1989 and more than twice the next largest one on record.

The survey showed increases in both median and mean net worth were near universal across different types of families, grouped by either economic or demographic characteristics.

For families who owned a home, the median net housing value, the value of the home, less secured debt, increased 44% between the same three-year period.  The median homeowner has a net worth of $396,000 compared to approximately $10,400 for renters making the net worth of a homeowner 38 times the household wealth of a renter according to the latest data.

Housing wealth, in this study, represented on average approximately 75% of the total assets of the lowest income household.  In the middle-income distribution, housing wealth represents between 48% and 74% of total assets.  For the top 10% of the income distribution, the wealthiest households’ share was 33%.  The study suggested that as income and net worth increases, the diversification of investments increases.

Even though there was significant increase in the value of homeowners’ property during this period, the debt secured by the residential property was relatively unchanged and the median amount of this debt decreased by less than one percent to $155,600 in 2022.  During the same period credit card debt was stable.

Odeta Kushi, deputy chief economist at First American, summarized by saying “For the majority of households that transition into homeownership, the most recent data reinforces that housing is one of the biggest positive drivers of wealth creation in this country.”

Starting in 2022, mortgage rates more than doubled the rates during the fall of 2021 and continued to rise throughout 2022 and most of 2023 to the high 7% range which the market had not reached for 30 years.  This rate affected buyers’ affordability and challenged a belief that rates would stay low since they had been for over ten years after the Great Financial Crisis.

While homeownership is still a major part of the “American Dream”, would-be buyers are having to adapt to the higher rates.  And even if rates moderate during 2024, the low housing inventory experienced across the country will continue to increase prices which favors current homeowners.  It could take years to reach a balanced market.

The challenged buyers should remember that homes have appreciated 5.56% annually for the last sixty years.  The average mortgage rate in the same period is 7.74%. 

Based on the impressive margin that homeowners have 38 times more net worth than renters and that the contributing factor is the home’s equity, Buyers who can financially afford to buy now should investigate exactly what it will take to get into a home now.

Download our Buyers Guide.

Understanding Credit Life Insurance for Home Buyers

Credit life insurance is a specialized type of insurance designed to provide financial protection for borrowers and their families in the event of the borrower’s untimely death. This insurance is often associated with loans, including mortgages, and is specifically tied to the outstanding balance of the loan. In the case of a home purchase, credit life insurance will cover the remaining mortgage balance if the homeowner passes away before the loan is fully paid off.

In some cases, lenders may include the expense of credit life insurance in your loan principal. This arrangement means that you’ll accrue interest on the combined amount, potentially resulting in increased costs over time. Consequently, opting for traditional life insurance, as opposed to credit life insurance, might be a more financially prudent choice to protect your family’s financial well-being.

Credit life insurance offers peace of mind to homeowners, knowing that their loved ones won’t be burdened with mortgage payments in case of an unexpected tragedy.  It can be a safeguard for their loved ones from inheriting the mortgage debt in the event of their death. It ensures that the home loan is paid off, preventing financial strain on surviving family members.

Some lenders may require or recommend credit life insurance as part of the loan approval process, making it easier for homebuyers to qualify for a mortgage but it is not typically mandatory, and the borrower usually has the option to request its removal from the loan agreement. 

Advantages of Regular Life Insurance:

While credit life insurance serves a specific purpose, there are advantages to opting for a regular life insurance policy instead:

  • Regular life insurance provides a broader range of coverage beyond mortgage debt. It offers financial protection to beneficiaries for various needs, such as income replacement, education, and long-term financial security.
  • Unlike credit life insurance, which is tied to a specific loan, regular life insurance can be used to address multiple financial goals and needs, making it a versatile option.
  • Regular life insurance remains in force regardless of changes in your mortgage or loan status. It can be maintained even if you refinance, pay off your mortgage, or move.
  • Some life insurance policies, such as whole life or universal life, offer a cash value component that can grow over time, potentially providing additional financial benefits.
  • With regular life insurance, you have the flexibility to choose any beneficiary, not just the lender, ensuring your loved ones are financially protected.

Credit life insurance can provide a valuable safety net for homebuyers by addressing their mortgage debt in the event of their passing. However, it’s essential to consider the broader financial needs of your family and explore regular life insurance options, which offer more extensive coverage and flexibility. Ultimately, the choice between credit life insurance and regular life insurance should align with your specific financial goals and priorities.

Discover how to make a difference in your neighborhood

Whether you’re a seasoned homeowner or just starting this thrilling chapter, every time you turn your key, you’re not just entering a house but also embedding yourself in a neighborhood. The heartbeat of a vibrant community doesn’t solely rest upon pristine lawns or architectural beauty, but predominantly on its residents, wonderful folks like you! Consider these suggestions to enjoy your new neighborhood and actively contributing to making it a wonderful place to live.

Foster Connection – Begin your journey by fostering connections. Introduce yourself to your neighbors, participate in or organize social events, and involve yourself in local gatherings, HOA, Next Door, or forums. Establishing a network of friendly faces creates a sense of belonging and shared responsibility towards the well-being of the neighborhood.

Create a Safe Environment – A safe community is a serene community. Be mindful of adhering to speed limits while driving through your neighborhood, watch out for children playing, and consider organizing or participating in a neighborhood watch program. Ensuring that everyone feels secure enhances the quality of life for all residents.

Champion Cleanliness and Green Practices – Your new neighborhood is an extension of your home. Engage in and advocate for practices like regular clean-up drives, recycling initiatives, and maintaining green spaces. Planting trees or creating communal gardens can be wonderful projects that not only beautify the area but also instigate sustainable living.

Support Local Businesses – Frequent local shops, cafes, and services to boost the neighborhood’s economy. Supporting local businesses fosters a self-sustaining community, often making it more attractive to future residents and other local entrepreneurs.

Volunteer and Offer Support – Whether it’s helping a neighbor with yard work or volunteering in local schools, your acts of kindness will ripple through the community, establishing a culture of support and assistance that enriches everyone’s lives.

Organize and Participate in Events – From block parties to garage sales, events can add vivacity to any neighborhood. They provide a platform for residents to mingle, forge friendships, and create cherished memories, threading a fabric of unity and camaraderie.

Respectful Living – Being mindful and considerate of your neighbors is foundational. Adhere to noise guidelines, maintain your property, and respect shared spaces. A culture of mutual respect enhances peaceful co-existence and cultivates a harmonious environment.

Advocate for Improvements – If you observe areas for improvement, like a need for better street lighting or safer playgrounds, take the initiative. Work with local authorities, attend town meetings, or organize petitions to facilitate beneficial changes.

In contributing towards shaping a great neighborhood, you’re not only enhancing your living experience but also elevating the quality of life for existing and future residents. Your active involvement, care, and initiatives sow the seeds for a community where everyone enjoys a sense of belonging, security, and joy in their daily lives. After all, the richest neighborhoods are those woven with the threads of unity, understanding, and collective effort. So, embrace your role and be the beacon that lights up your community with positivity and progress!

How Home Value Growth Beats Renting

Over the last 60 years, the average sales price of homes has appreciated at a rate of 5.56% annually, according to the Federal Reserve Economic Data. During the same period, rent has increased at a rate of 3.88% annually which presents a compelling argument in favor of home ownership.

When we analyze these figures, it becomes evident that homes have not only appreciated in value at a faster rate than the increase in rental costs, but they have also provided homeowners with a substantial asset that builds equity over time. This discrepancy in growth rates means that, in the long run, homeowners are likely to experience a greater return on their investment compared to renters.

Renters, while they may have the flexibility of moving without the ties of property ownership and might have lower upfront costs, do not gain any equity from their monthly payments. Their money goes straight to their landlord, and they are subject to the annual increases in rent. Over time, as rent continues to rise, renters might find themselves allocating a larger portion of their income to housing expenses compared to homeowners with fixed-rate mortgages, whose monthly payments remain constant.

Homeowners, on the other hand, can lock in their housing costs, particularly if they have a fixed-rate mortgage. Even as the value of their property increases, their monthly mortgage principal and interest payments remain steady. Furthermore, as they pay down their mortgage, they build equity in their home, which becomes a valuable asset. This asset can be leveraged for other financial opportunities, such as funding education, investing, or purchasing additional property.

In addition, homeowners can capitalize on the tax benefits associated with mortgage interest and property tax deductions, and potential capital gains exclusions, which can contribute to the overall financial advantage of home ownership.

In conclusion, while renting may offer flexibility and potentially lower upfront costs, home ownership presents a compelling long-term financial opportunity. The significant difference in the annual growth rates of home prices and rent over the past 60 years underscores the potential for wealth accumulation and financial stability that comes with investing in real estate and the equity building that comes with home ownership.

Download our Buyers Guide and consider getting together with your agent to get the facts of today’s market.

Bridging Wealth Gaps: Home Ownership’s Stand Against Inflation

When exploring the benefits of home ownership, it’s more than just having a place to call your own. Among its many advantages, home ownership stands as a formidable safeguard against inflation and a strong vehicle for long-term wealth accumulation. This article will delve into the dynamics of appreciation and amortization, explaining why owning a home can be one of the most impactful financial decisions you can make.

Inflation, the overall upward price movement of goods and services in an economy, erodes the purchasing power of money. In simpler terms, as inflation rises, each dollar you have buys a smaller percentage of a good or service.  The same inflation that is driving rising mortgage rates is putting upward pressure on home prices.

Over the past sixty years, homes have appreciated in value at an annual appreciation rate of 5.56% according to the Federal Reserve Economic Data.  As a homeowner, you want to benefit from the appreciation.  Inflation for the same period averaged 3.7% (Bureau of Labor Statistics) making homes an effective hedge against inflation.

Real estate, unlike many other assets, is a tangible, real asset. History has shown that over the long term, the value of real assets tends to rise at a rate that at least matches, if not outpaces, inflation. So, as the price of goods and services increases, so does the value of real estate, making homeownership a strategic move against inflationary pressures.

With a fixed-rate mortgage, your monthly principal and interest payment remains constant. As a result, while other costs may rise due to inflation, your primary housing cost (if you exclude taxes and maintenance) remains stable, shielding you from the full impact of inflation.

Home appreciation refers to the increase in the home’s value over time. Given the finite nature of land and the ever-growing demand for housing, especially in thriving areas, real estate often appreciates. This appreciation can result in substantial equity gains for homeowners, creating a form of ‘forced savings’ and making it a powerful tool for wealth accumulation.

Amortization has been considered the silent wealth builder.  Each time you make a mortgage payment, a portion of that payment goes toward the loan’s interest, and the rest pays down the principal, thus retiring your debt incrementally. This process means you’re gradually building equity in the home with each payment. Over time, a larger portion of your payment goes towards the principal, accelerating your equity buildup.

Combined, appreciation and amortization can lead to significant wealth growth for homeowners. As the home’s value rises and the mortgage balance decreases, homeowners often find themselves sitting on a substantial asset, which can be leveraged in various ways, from securing loans to planning retirements.

While the emotional and social benefits of homeownership are often celebrated, the financial benefits are equally compelling. In a world of economic uncertainties and inflationary pressures, owning a home emerges not just as a source of stability but also as a strategy for long-term financial prosperity. By understanding and leveraging the twin forces of appreciation and amortization, homeowners can pave a path to meaningful wealth accumulation even during periods of relatively high mortgage rates.

Navigating Closing Costs During Your Home Sale

Buying or selling a house is an exciting and sometimes confusing experience that includes expenses called “closing costs” that can often catch us by surprise. Closing costs are simply the fees and expenses incurred by buyers and sellers during a real estate transaction’s closing or settlement process. 

Typical closing costs can vary depending on what is customary in an area, the mortgage type, property value, and other factors.  The largest expenses can be the real estate commission and the title policy.  Total closing costs for a buyer can characteristically range from 2% – 5%  of the sales price and 4% – 7% for a seller.

The most common buyer’s closing costs include loan origination fee, title insurance, attorney fees, appraisal, homeowner’s insurance, underwriting, miscellaneous fees associated with a new mortgage, and prepaid interest to the end of the month.

Interest is paid in arrears on mortgages after the borrower has used the money.  The payment due on the first of the month pays the interest for the previous month and is calculated for a full month.  The prepaid interest covers the time from the closing date to the end of that month.  The borrower’s first payment will usually not be the first of the month following the closing date but the next one.

Separate from the closing costs, lenders usually itemize the additional fees collected at closing used to pre-pay portions of the property taxes and insurance to establish the escrow account.  Insurance is always purchased annually in advance which would be due at closing.

The seller will owe the taxes from January 1st to the closing date, and it will generally show as a credit to the buyer if they haven’t been paid to the taxing authority for the year yet.  Lenders generally like to have two months of funds for the annual insurance and taxes so they can be paid or renewed before it is due.

Some expenses are paid outside of closing like the inspection fees that would be due to the provider at the time they are made.

While both buyers and sellers are responsible for paying certain closing costs, it is possible for a buyer to negotiate for a seller to pay part or all their closing costs.  VA loans restrict the buyer from paying certain fees and they become the responsibility of the seller.  Such fees include attorney fees, agent fees, escrow fees to establish the account, rate lock fees, appraisal fees or inspections ordered by the lender.

The actual expenses will be determined by the lender and special provisions in the sales contract. Your agent can supply you with an estimate of closing costs you typically will be responsible for at the beginning of the transaction and again at the time the sales contract is written.  Buyers will receive an estimate from their lender at the time of application.

Tap into your home equity five ways

Your home is not just a place to live; it’s a valuable asset that can serve as a financial resource when you need it most. One of the significant advantages of homeownership is the opportunity to build equity over time, which can be accessed in various ways to fund life’s important milestones or unexpected expenses.

Whether you’re looking to undertake a home improvement project, consolidate debt, cover education expenses, or simply ensure financial flexibility for the future, your home equity can be a powerful tool to achieve your goals. By understanding the options available and the implications of each, you can leverage your home’s value to enhance your financial well-being and seize opportunities that come your way.

Home Equity Loans are a fixed amount loan using the equity in the home as collateral. The borrower receives a lump sum and pays it back in regular monthly installments over a fixed term, typically at a fixed interest rate.

A Home Equity Line of Credit is similar to a credit card; a HELOC provides a revolving line of credit using the home’s equity as collateral. Homeowners can borrow as much or as little as they need up to a specified limit, and interest is only paid on the amount borrowed.

 A Cash-Out Refinance involves refinancing the current mortgage for more than the homeowner owes and pocketing the difference. Essentially, homeowners replace their existing mortgage with a new, larger loan and get the difference in cash to be used any way they want.

A Reverse Mortgage is available to seniors, typically 62 and older and allows homeowners to convert part of their home equity into cash without having to sell their home or pay additional monthly bills. Instead of making monthly payments to a lender, the lender makes payments to the borrower.

Homeowners can choose to sell their current property and purchase a less expensive one, using the profit from the sale (equity) for other purposes. This is a more drastic approach as it involves moving, but it can release a significant amount of equity.

Each of these options has its own advantages and considerations, so homeowners should carefully evaluate which method best fits their needs and consult with financial professionals before making decisions.

Why you should check the claim history on the home before you make an offer.

Buying a home is a big decision, and there are a lot of things to consider. One important factor to consider is the home’s claim history. A home’s claim history can tell you a lot about the property, including its potential risks and liabilities.

To identify potential risks because a home with a history of claims may be more likely to experience future claims. This could be due to the location of the home, the age of the home, or the materials used in construction.

The cost of insurance can be higher for homes with a history of claims. Insurance companies factor in the risk of future claims when setting premiums.

You may be able to negotiate a lower price if you discover the home has a history of claims. This is because the seller may be motivated to sell the home quickly to avoid future claims.

The Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange (CLUE) is a database that tracks insurance claims filed on homes.  A CLUE report can be purchased for a fee, and it will show you the number and type of claims that have been filed on the property within the last seven years.  

Sellers are entitled to one free copy of their LexisNexis CLUE report each year; there is a nominal fee for additional, original reports.  Contact LexisNexis by calling 888-497-0011 or by emailing consumer.documents@lexisnexisrisk.com.  As a potential buyer, your agent can request a copy of the report from the listing agent who may have to ask the seller to order it themselves, if they haven’t done so recently.

Another option is to instruct your home inspector to look for signs of damage that may have been caused by previous claims.

Checking the claim history of a home is an important part of due diligence in the home buying process.  It is important to remember that the claim history is not a perfect predictor of the future. Just because a home has had claims in the past does not mean that it will have claims in the future. However, the claim history can give you valuable information that can help you make an informed decision about whether to buy the home.

New Construction Homes with Your Own Agent

Homebuyers in the market who are frustrated by the low inventory are finding what they want in new construction.  Among the obvious advantages are that it is fresh and new, has never been lived in, and can be personalized to an individual’s taste and needs.

New construction homes can be more expensive upfront, but they can save you money in the long run. These homes are built to the latest building codes, which means they are more energy-efficient and require less maintenance. They also come with warranties that can help protect you from unexpected repairs.

New construction homes can be a great option for first-time homebuyers. They offer a blank slate that you can customize to your liking, and they don’t have the same wear and tear as older homes.

Working with a REALTOR® can help you navigate the process of buying a new construction home. They can help you find the right builder, negotiate a good price, and make sure that the home is built to your specifications.

One of the most critical steps in designing your dream home is enlisting the expertise of a qualified real estate professional. A REALTOR® brings essential knowledge of the local market, construction processes, checklists, and negotiation skills. They can help you explore financing options, connect you with reputable builders and guide you through the complex steps of purchasing new construction.

Navigate the path to your dream home with these steps guided by your REALTOR®:

  1. Select a Real Estate Professional: Find a trusted agent to champion your interests, negotiate with builders and ensure a seamless transaction.
  2. Research Builders and Neighborhoods: Discover builders, track records and neighborhoods using the expertise of your real estate professional.
  3. Get Pre-approved: Determine your budget and financing options by securing pre-approval from a trusted lender.
  4. Navigating Legal and Documentation Processes: Your real estate professional understands local regulations, permits and zoning requirements. They will guide you through the paperwork and review things along the way, allowing you to focus on the creative aspects of your dream home.
  5. Construction and Project Management: Your real estate professional will accompany you through the construction process. Your agent will work with the builder’s agent to oversee the timeline and progress, to address any concerns that may arise.

An important step is having your agent introduce you to the builder’s home for the first time and register you as their client.  Builders have sales teams that will assist you, but they don’t represent you; they are employees of the builders.

Another consideration is to have a home inspection, even though it may not seem necessary.  It is comforting to have your inspector verifying that the building is up to code and being done the way it should be.  Some buyers elect to have inspections done at the major steps of the building process, but this does add some additional cost.

The importance of having a REALTOR® by your side is part of your investment in a home.  Your agent will be with you every step of the way and advocate for you in the process.  Your path to home-sweet-home starts with selecting your agent.

How Rapid Rescoring Can Make a Difference

Imagine you’re on the verge of securing a mortgage, and a slightly higher credit score could mean a lower interest rate. The good news? There’s a quicker way to make that possibility a reality. Mortgage loans are often more time-sensitive than other loans. If you find yourself in a situation where a slightly improved credit score could open doors to better rates, the solution might lie in rapid rescoring.

When it comes to mortgage loans, time is of the essence. Your offer has been accepted, and you have a limited window to qualify for a new loan. But what if there was a way to boost your credit score swiftly and improve your chances of securing a lower interest rate?

Enter rapid rescoring … a powerful tool that mortgage lenders use to diagnose potential actions that could lead to a credit score increase. It’s important to note that these diagnostic reports are estimates, and their accuracy can vary since different lenders employ distinct scoring formulas. However, this innovative approach can provide a viable solution for improving your credit score in a time-sensitive scenario.

Let’s say you realize you have sufficient funds in your savings account to significantly pay down your credit card debt. Acting on your mortgage officer’s advice, you make the payment, anticipating a positive impact on your credit score. This strategic step is a prime example of how you can proactively influence your credit standing.

Following your payment, your lender can initiate a rapid rescore by obtaining an updated copy of your credit report from one or more of the three nationwide consumer reporting agencies … Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. With this fresh data in hand, your lender can reevaluate your credit scores based on the latest information, including your substantial debt payment aimed at elevating your scores.

Rapid rescoring is designed to be swift, typically taking three to five business days to complete. The exact duration may vary depending on your individual circumstances, but the benefits can be significant.

Before requesting your lender to initiate a rapid rescore, it’s prudent to evaluate your entire financial situation. Ensure there are no unforeseen negative developments on the horizon, such as new delinquent payments or other potential issues that could affect your credit.

If you find yourself in a credit score range where a few extra points could unlock better terms for your mortgage, rapid rescoring could be an excellent option to explore.

In the intricate world of mortgage loans, rapid rescoring emerges as a valuable strategy for potential homebuyers aiming to secure favorable terms. By understanding the potential of rapid rescoring and acting strategically, you can potentially save time and even money in the long run. When considering this option, remember to assess your entire financial landscape and consult with a trusted mortgage professional to make an informed decision that aligns with your goals.