Over the last few years, getting a home loan in Knoxville hasn’t been as easy as in the past. With banks battening down the hatches after the turbulent robo-signing scandal, and years of rampant sub-prime loans, the lending standards were tightened quite a few belt holes. Couple that with the last few years of uber-low interest rates and homeowners re-financing like crazy, and banks didn’t have to budge. Well, the tide is turning. Now that interest rates are trending higher and homeowners are no longer jumping on the refinance bandwagon, banks need business. The good news for homebuyers is that in order to get more business, banks will likely have to loosen those tight lending standards. If you were turned down in the past because of self-employment or other issues, it might be a good time to revisit the process of getting a home loan. You just might like the results. Need a recommendation for a lender or a looking for real estate advice? Contact us today!
Limited inventory and rising prices have created a seller’s market in Knoxville and we are seeing buyers competing fiercely for homes, even to the point of bidding wars, but that doesn’t mean that it’s still not a great time for buying a home in Knoxville.
Here is why:
- HOME PRICES ARE STILL RISING
Because the housing market bottomed, reaching it’s lowest point in March of 2012, the price gains that we have seen recently still leave plenty of room for the home values to climb. What is causing the rising prices? Lack of supply, which is the result of slower homebuilding activity, diminishing foreclosures, and sellers slow to come to market because they are waiting for prices to increase further (much of this is because sellers who purchased during the height of the market owe more on their homes than their current value).
- RATES ARE LOW BY HISTORICAL STANDARDS
Mortgage rates, currently hovering around 4.6 percent, have increased by a full percentage point since May – but they are still lower than they were just two years ago and far lower than the long-term average of about 8 percent.
- GETTING A HOME LOAN IS SOMEWHAT EASIER
Because of the rising interest rates, less people will be refinancing, making banks more willing to work with homebuyers. Don’t get me wrong, the days of the “no-documentation”, “no down payment” days are long gone, but credit is available for borrowers who are qualified.
- OWNING A HOME IS STILL CHEAPER THAN RENTING
Even taking the recent price and rate increases into account, it is cheaper to buy than to rent in all 100 of the largest real estate markets, according to an analysis by Trulia.com. Nationwide, assuming a buyer stays in a home for at least 7 years, it is 37 percent cheaper to buy than to rent. Actually, studies show that in 78 of the largest 100 markets, rates would have to more than double to over 10 percent for markets to tilt in favor of renting.
- INVESTOR COMPETITION IS DECREASING
Many of the factors stated above are driving investors out of the market. The reduced amount of foreclosures coupled with rising prices are making investors lose interest. Chief Economist with the National Association of Realtors, Lawrence Yun stated, “Investors are recalculating their numbers, because it might make less sense for them to buy in order to flip or rent now. That’s an opportunity for primary owner-buyers to have less competition and still a historically favorable environment, even if affordability is weaker.”
As you can see, it’s still a great time for buying a home in Knoxville. But make no mistake, prices are still increasing and rates may as well. The sooner you can buy the better. Contact us today to get started!
Thinking of building or doing some remodeling on a home in Knoxville? Each year new products hit the market that can give you ideas if you are building a home in Knoxville. At this years International Builders Show in Las Vegas some of those new products were on display. The video below shows some of the new innovative products hitting the building materials market. If you are thinking of building a home in Knoxville or selling a home in Knoxville and need some advice, contact the Holloway Group today and we’ll be happy to assist in any way that we can.
It’s finally done. The driving around. Looking at Knoxville real estate daily on the internet and in person. The offers. The counter offers. More counteroffers. The anxiety. The inspection. Now the time has come. That special day. Closing day, the day the keys are handed over and the movers are packed up and ready to deliver your life to a new home.
Troy Stavros, Broker and Partner with the Holloway Group says, “Don’t breathe easy just yet. There are still some things to get in order to make the transition to your new home in Knoxville happen with minimum headaches. Some early planning can really make move-in so much better.”
Below are the Top 5 Things To Do Before and After Closing:
1) PLAN NEEDED REPAIRS WELL IN ADVANCE
Whether it is needed repairs that the seller did not cover after inspections, or a small remodeling project to make the home more the buyer’s style, getting these lined up prior to closing will make the transition much easier. After closing the buyer’s hands will be full with unpacking and getting settled, so having these workers already in place will allow the work to get done faster and with less stress on the new homeowner.
2) SETUP THE UTILITIES
Most sellers will have arranged to have the utilities cut off on the day of closing. As if new homeowners don’t have enough on their plate with moving in, the last thing needed is no power or water. The best plan is to call the utility companies and setup the start date well in advance of closing. At that point the utility company may say that the seller has not given a notification of cancellation. If that is the case a simple reminder to the seller will be sufficient. Sellers are in the midst of packing up and may have forgotten as well. Take the lead and be proactive. Problem solved, future headache eliminated.
3) CHANGE THE LOCKS
The new homeowner just received the keys to a new home. More than likely the buyers aren’t the only people with this same set of keys. Oftentimes a homeowner will give a key to neighbors, relatives, real estate agents, workman, etc. The moment the house and keys are in the hands of a new homeowner, it’s time to call a locksmith.
4) GET A CLEANING CREW
While some sellers will go to the trouble of having the home cleaned after move out, most do not. Who wants to move boxes and furniture, and basically everything a new homeowner owns into a dirty house. Start living in the home with a clean slate and a clean house.
5) HAVE A HANDYMAN READY FOR ACTION
A new homeowner will have plenty going on during move-in. Having another set of hands around to take care of some of the projects might be just what the doctor ordered to save your back and sanity. Moving boxes to different rooms, moving furniture, etc. A few hundred dollars spent on a handyman or some college kids the day of move in is money well spent.
Troy Stavros, Broker and Partner with the Holloway Group stated, “While there have been rumblings that the guidelines for qualifying for a mortgage in Knoxville may get a little more lenient this year, buyers still need to start the process with the basics.”
The following are the Top 10 documents an individual must have ready in order to apply for a mortgage:
1. Driver’s License
2. Secondary ID (could be a passport or social security card)
3. Most recent paystubs for a 1 month period (for salaried or hourly employees)
4. W2 forms for the past 2 years
5. Signed federal tax returns (all pages/schedules) for the last 2 years
6. Most recent bank and asset statements for the last 2 months
7. Fully executed contract on the Knoxville real estate being purchased
8. If refinancing, a copy of the deed on the subject property
9. Name, address, phone number of landlord (if you are currently renting)
10. Name, address, phone number of the title company or attorney handling the closing.
Stavros concluded, “If you are thinking of buying a home in Knoxville, get your documents in order so you can obtain a pre-approval prior to shopping. This will allow you and a potential seller to know that you have the ability to buy the homes you are viewing.”
Troy Stavros, Broker and Partner with the Holloway Group stated, “We’ve witnessed time and again the incorrect information being displayed on many of the top, national real estate websites. The most accurate information can be found on local, brokerage sites, because they are pulling directly from the local Multiple Listing Service.”
While local Knoxville real estate brokerages have an agreement with each other to display the entirety of each other’s inventory of Knoxville homes for sale, other third-party listing portals, like Trulia and Zillow, may only receive some listings directly from an MLS. Individual brokers have the ability to withhold listings from these sites, and in many real estate markets, these websites must rely on individual brokerages, agents and third-party syndicators for listing data. The result in trying to pull this information from multiple sources is that these sites end up with incomplete or inaccurate listing data.
Recently, research was completed by Zip Realty, comparing the actual listings in certain zipcodes for sale, and verified on the MLS, to the listing data shown on Zillow and Trulia. The study claims that more than 15% of homes shown for sale on Zillow and Trulia weren’t actually on the market, and up to 30% of homes that were listed for sale in an MLS were not identified by Zillow and Trulia as being on the market.
Stavros concluded, “Ask any REALTOR how they feel about the accuracy of the pricing estimates given for homes on these sites, and the answers will be eye opening. While these sites can and do offer some great articles regarding buying and selling a home, when it comes to knowing the market, you must go local. This includes finding what is actually available for sale in the market place and getting an accurate analysis of the correct value of a home. Local REALTORS are in the trenches of the Knoxville real estate market every day, no mathematical formula will ever replace that experience.”
Troy Stavros, Broker and Partner with the Holloway Group says, “Buying a foreclosure in Knoxville may seem like it should be just as easy as buying any home, but there are certain factors that make it more tricky. While some of the processes and procedures are the same, there are steps to take and things you should know going in, to help make the outcome a positive one.”
Below are the Top 5 Things To Know About Buying Knoxville Foreclosures:
#1: Forget the Auctions – If a buyer is reading this, then most likely they aren’t a seasoned veteran of buying distressed properties. Why should novices steer clear of auctions? The auction process is far more risky. First, prospective buyers don’t get a chance to inspect the home for damage or issues (two factors that are more common than not in a distressed property, because of the fact that the home may have sat vacant for a period of time or had unhappy owners leaving). Second, potential buyers don’t have a chance to find out if there are any outstanding liens on the property for which the buyer will ultimately be responsible. Third, there is a chance that when buying at an auction, the owner that was foreclosed on may still be living in the home. Another big headache that can be costly from both a dollar and stress level. Fourth, most auctions require cash on hand, or the ability to pay the entire purchase price within a few days. This is not an option for most buyers.
#2: Buy From A Bank – All of the reasons to buy from a bank are the complete opposite of the reasons above. First, buyers get the opportunity to inspect the property. Second, the bank is required to pay off all liens and back taxes. Third, the owner will be long gone once the bank has foreclosed and if not the bank will have them removed prior to listing the home. Fourth, buyers have the time to get financing in place like a typical home sale.
#3: Get Pre-Approved – This is a step in the home buying process that the Holloway Group stresses whether buying a home in Knoxville that is distressed or non-distressed. To have the best opportunity to secure a home when negotiating, the buyer must be able to provide a pre-approval letter from a lender with any offer submitted. Most banks will not even accept an offer on a foreclosure without one. Not to mention, that by providing a pre-approval letter showing that the buyer has the ability to secure financing, is a serious motivator for any seller.
#4: Expect a Low Appraisal – Once the deal is agreed upon with the bank and the financing secured, there is one more hurdle to leap over, the appraisal. Appraisals have been know to come in low on distressed properties because of neglect, vandalism, or damage. A lender will only lend a buyer the amount for which the home appraises, so until that number comes in, don’t breathe easy. Also if a buyer is planning on utilizing an FHA loan, there are additional strict regulations regarding the condition of the property, so FHA may require repairs to be completed prior to closing the loan. For more information here is an article we wrote regarding “How To Get Top Dollar Out Of Your Home Appraisal“.
#5: Be Prepared To Spend Money On Repairs – One of a distressed home buyer’s best friends should be a Knoxville contractor. Even before negotiating, a buyer should have an estimate from a contractor as to the price of repairs. Stavros stated, “Because of the neglect and disrepair of most foreclosed homes, the repair list can be extensive and expensive. Know what costs are involved and incorporate those costs into the negotiations and the bottom line price.”
Troy Stavros, Broker and Partner with the Holloway Group stated, “Even though the Knoxville real estate market may change with ebb and flow of the economy, the reasons people buy homes in Knoxville and beyond pretty much stay constant.” The following list of reasons was garnered from the research done by the National Association of REALTORS for their 2012 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers Report. The list below starts with the most cited reason and descends in order.
Top 10 Reasons People Buy Knoxville Homes
#1 REASON: Desire To Own A Home Of My Own in Knoxville
#2 REASON: Desire For A Larger Knoxville Home
#3 REASON: Job Related Relocation or Move to Knoxville
#4 REASON: Change In Family Situation
#5 REASON: Affordability Of Knoxville Homes
#6 REASON: Desire To Be Closer To Family/Friends/Relatives in Knoxville
#7 REASON: Desire For A Home In A Better Area
#8 REASON: Retirement
#9 REASON: Desire For A Smaller Home in Knoxville
#10 REASON: Desire To Be Closer To Job/School/Transit
Responses varied among age and home buying experience. The report showed that younger buyers were more inclined to buy because of the desire to own a home (this reason was cited by 60% of first time home buyers), while older buyers (those in the 65 and older category) cited the desire to be closer to family and friends and retirement as the primary factors for buying.
Troy Stavros, Broker and Partner with the Holloway Group at Gables & Gates, REALTORS says, “Today’s strict lending guidelines can call for even more steps in the process, but with a plan it can be done with less stress.” The following steps should be taken prior to searching Knoxville real estate, in order to make getting loan approval a smooth, successful endeavor:
STEP 1. Start pulling together documentation prior to starting a Knoxville real estate search. Mortgage experts are recommending starting 6 months to a year prior to beginning a home search. Why so early? There could be credit issues to resolve, debt that needs to be paid off, or down payment money to be saved to allow for approval. Those things take time. Waiting too long can hit a buyer twice as hard, by coupling the denial of a loan with the loss of a dream home.
STEP 2. Get pre-approved prior to starting a home search. This is a major step that anxious buyers like to skip over that can cause heartbreak. A pre-approval (not a pre-qualification!), uses complete documentation and gives a buyer the green light from the lender that should a home be found, financing is approved and available. By not completing this step prior to a home search, many buyers are looking at homes in price ranges they cannot afford. This leads to frustration and heartbreak, when a buyer realizes the perfect home the search has found is out of reach.
STEP 3. Most new buyers understand that saving up for a down payment is necessary but many are not aware of closing costs. The down payment and closing costs can be two significant numbers, and buyers need to plan on saving up for both prior to beginning a home search. Closing costs can vary, but a general rule of thumb is to plan to pay around 3-4% of the purchase price.
Troy Stavros, Broker and Partner with the Holloway Group stated, “In today’s home buying process, with the current stringent lending guidelines, a client’s credit score plays a pivotal role in whether or not they will be approved for a loan on Knoxville real estate. One error on a client’s credit report can be the difference between being approved or denied a loan. That is why it is so important that each person obtain and review a copy of their report each year, giving them to ability to find and correct errors effecting their credit score.”
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released a report revealing only one in five people actually obtain a copy of their credit report each year. The report also stated, in 2011, consumers reached out to credit reporting companies about 8 million times to challenge information on their report. Overall, the actions led to 32 to 38 million disputed items.
Stavros said, “When looking to buy Knoxville real estate, the instances of being able to get a mortgage with less than stellar credit are behind us.” A recent report by Ellie Mae, which represents 20 percent of all U.S. mortgage originations, found the average FICO score for a closed loan in October was 750, while the average denied loan had a score of 706. Once approved, the effect your score has on your loan doesn’t stop. A loan savings calculator provided by myFICO, the consumer division of FICO, shows how credit scores can effect the interest rate one would receive on a mortgage. As of December 14, 2012, a person with an average FICO score of 760-850 would receive a 2.975% rate on a 30-year fixed rate mortgage. However, if one had a score of 620-639, the rate would be 4.564%.
According to Stavros, “Just because you aren’t planning on purchasing any Knoxville real estate this year doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be reviewing your credit report. Oftentimes it could take months to get an error off your report. With your credit score being one of the most important tools in getting a loan approval, it’s best to always keep it sharp. For current homeowners it also is a major part of refinancing. Not a homeowner? More and more employers are looking at a prospective employees credit report before hiring. Yearly review is just good practice all around.”