FHFA announces further extension of COVID-related mortgage relief

The Federal Housing Finance Agency is providing an additional three months of forbearance to borrowers with loans backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, totaling 18 months of relief due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The FHFA said Thursday that it was aligning its policies with the Biden administration to address economic burdens for homeowners due to COVID-19. The change comes nearly three weeks after the agency extended the total forbearance period to 15 months.

When Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act last year, it allowed borrowers with federally backed mortgages to request up to 12 months of forbearance — divided into two 180-day increments — if they experienced financial hardship.

In forbearance, a borrower is allowed to suspend payments by extending the loan’s terms. There is no set cutoff date for the 18-month forbearance period because borrowers have entered and exited forbearance at different times.

“Today’s extensions of the COVID-19 forbearance period to 18 months and foreclosure and eviction moratoriums through the end of June will help align mortgage policies across the federal government,” FHFA Director Mark Calabria said.

“Today’s extensions of the COVID-19 forbearance period to 18 months and foreclosure and eviction moratoriums through the end of June will help align mortgage policies across the federal government,” FHFA Director Mark Calabria said.

Bloomberg News

The FHFA also said Thursday that it was extending a moratorium on foreclosures and real estate-owned evictions until June 30 for loans backed by Fannie and Freddie. Because housing prices have jumped dramatically, borrowers are more likely to be able to sell their homes than go into foreclosure than in financial crisis in 2008, when many were underwater on their mortgages.

The foreclosure moratorium had been set to expire on March 31, but the FHFA is offering another three-month extension only for single-family mortgages backed by the government-sponsored enterprises. The REO eviction moratorium applies to properties acquired by the GSEs through foreclosures or deed-in-lieu transactions.

Earlier this month, the Biden administration announced similar extensions of relief for loans backed by the Federal Housing Administration, Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Agriculture.

“Today’s extensions of the COVID-19 forbearance period to 18 months and foreclosure and eviction moratoriums through the end of June will help align mortgage policies across the federal government,” FHFA Director Mark Calabria said in a press release. “Borrowers and the housing finance market alike can benefit during the pandemic from the consistent treatment of mortgages regardless of who owns or backs them.”

Roughly 2.6 million homeowners were in forbearance plans as of Feb. 14, representing 5.29% of loans serviced, the Mortgage Bankers Association said Monday.

The share of Fannie- and Freddie-backed loans in forbearance fell slightly to 2.97% last week, from 3.01% on Feb. 8, the MBA said. By comparison, 5.22% of all loans serviced are currently in forbearance plans, the MBA said.

Source: nationalmortgagenews.com

What the Flip? Portland Home Gets a Major Face-Lift and Gains $600K in Value

Flipping a house is a lot of work that can yield a big profit. But not every project is guaranteed to be lucrative. So what’s the key to successfully making over a fixer-upper and selling it for a gain? Our series “What the Flip?” presents before and after photos to identify the smart construction and design decisions that ultimately helped make the house desirable to buyers.

Known for friendly faces, eclectic locals, and beautiful scenery, Portland, OR, has been seen as a desirable place to put down roots for a while now. It was even rated the ninth best U.S. city to live in by U.S. News & World Report. All of those benefits, plus historically low real estate inventory, mean housing prices in Portland are high. But for flippers who can nab a fixer-upper with good bones, there’s plenty of potential for profit—as this example shows.

The flippers who took on this five-bedroom, five-bathroom house made a smart move by pouncing on the well-worn property for $875,000 when it was listed in June 2019. After a full-on renovation, they put the home up for sale, and in December 2020 it was sold for $1,475,000.

So how did they raise the home’s value by $600,000 in just a year and a half—and during a pandemic, no less? The booming market wasn’t the only thing that made this home sale such a success. The fresh renovations also had something to do with making this a must-have property.

Taking into account the home’s now-stylish interior design, we asked our team of experts to look at before and after photos and weigh in on the changes that made the biggest difference in this home. Here’s what they had to say.

Living room

Talk about major changes! Once full of dark, drab wallpaper and a dated, textured ceiling, the living room now has a brighter, cleaner look.

“The application of white paint on everything really works well in this room,” says designer, real estate agent, and house-flipping investor Laura Schlicht. “Two of this house’s biggest assets have been artfully played up: the architectural moldings and the fantastic view.”

“It was a great move to get rid of the extra door on the side of the fireplace,” adds real estate investor and agent Molly Gallagher, of Falk Ruvin Gallagher. “There are plenty of other ways in and out of the room, and it allowed them to widen the hearth and keep the green-tiled theme going.”

Kitchen

The old kitchen was spacious, but that’s about all it had going for it. Once the flippers worked their magic, they had a kitchen that would impress any prospective buyer.

“Removing a section of the wall between the dining room and kitchen brings much more light into the kitchen, bouncing off the bright white cabinets, rather than keeping the view for the dining room itself,” says Kate Ziegler, real estate investor and real estate agent.

She adds that her top question from buyers touring homes is whether or not they can remove a wall.

“Having done this update for the buyers broadens the audience for this home, and boosts sale price as a result,” says Ziegler.

Real estate investor and agent Tracie Setliff, also with Falk Ruvin Gallagher, was impressed with the island addition.

“The island placement is perfect—it seems like it was always there and makes up for some of the storage lost by opening up the wall,” she adds.

“We love that they nod to the original lights and time period of the home with the updated light fixtures they chose,” adds Gallagher. “And they smartly chose to appeal to a wide buyer pool by not adding in some specific tile that will be dated in five years.”

Home office

Before 2020, a home office was just a bonus, but now it’s essential—whether it’s for work or school, or both. Even though this renovation was started before the coronavirus pandemic, the flippers chose to upgrade this home office in a major way, which really paid off by the time they listed the home.

“I love that they removed the old attached bookshelf,” says Setliff. “The room has an airier feel to it without the hulk of the built-in shelving. There are so many cute bookshelves that are much sleeker.”

Schlicht agreed, explaining that the built-in bookcase, while often a bonus, was actually the wrong size for the space and made the room feel crowded.

“Let’s take a moment to notice the windows,” says Ziegler. “New windows are a significant cost that most new buyers don’t want to take on in the near term—but the payback in efficiency can be remarkable. Replacing windows as part of a flip makes the whole space look more contemporary and polished, but also adds real value to the home that buyers can quantify.”

Dining room

At first glance, it may seem like the only real change in the dining room was a new coat of white paint, but Ziegler says that’s not the case. In fact, she was rather impressed with the flippers’ efforts in this room.

“The dining room demonstrates places where the investors behind this work took the time to restore and retain older details: keeping the built-in sideboard, and even the mirror detail below the smaller window shows a thoughtful approach and is indicative of more time-intensive work,” Ziegler says.

“Restoring details rather than replacing with cheaper, contemporary alternatives requires patience and care, and that attention to detail is something buyers notice even if they don’t have the vocabulary to describe it,” she adds. “The updated chandelier is trendy but also a nod to midcentury modern styling that is appropriate for a house of this age.”

Setliff is happy to see the “boring” light fixture go, in favor of the new “sophisticated, sculpturelike light.”

“Buyers do not want to have to change fixtures, as simple as it seems, and keeping it fun yet unfussy was the way to go,” she says. “It is interesting how you notice the views from the windows now that your eye isn’t drawn to the dark brown of the built-in cabinets and window trim.”

Den

This old den went from afterthought to amazing after this flip, and our experts are impressed with the results.

“Goodbye, ’60s; hello, now!” says Gallagher. “Knotty pine is best reserved for Wisconsin supper clubs these days, and today’s buyers are not interested in having a supper club theme for their den.”

“Removing drop ceilings and wood paneling is an easy, instant update, but the nicer detail here is the addition of recessed lighting,” says Ziegler. “Recessed lighting in a basement space creates the illusion of more headroom, making for a much more comfortable den. Updating the basement den adds valuable square footage that buyers might have otherwise written off as just basement space.”

And we can’t forget about the star of this room: the fireplace.

“Replacing the dated brick with a pop of green tile and the white surround and mantel transform this new den,” says Setliff.

Source: realtor.com

Price-to-Rent Ratio in 50 Cities

Better to buy or rent? The price-to-rent ratio helps to gauge affordability in any city, especially for people on the move, and millions of Americans are, thanks in part to a remote-work boom.

The number can be helpful when looking at a certain area and deciding whether to plunk down your life savings into a home—if it’s even within reach—or pay a landlord and wait.

Read on to see the home price-to-rent ratio in 50 of the biggest U.S. cities.

First, What Is the Price-to-Rent Ratio?

The price-to-rent ratio compares the median home price and median annual rent in a given area. (You’ll remember that the median is the midpoint, where half the numbers are lower and half are higher.)

Median home sale price divided by median annual rent equals the ratio.

Let’s say the median rent in a city is $3,000 a month and the median sale price is $1,000,000. The price-to-rent ratio would be nearly 28—$1,000,000 divided by $36,000.

To make sense of that number:

•  A ratio of 1 to 15 typically indicates that it is more favorable to buy than rent in a given community.
•  A ratio of 16 to 20 indicates it is typically better to rent than buy.
•  A ratio of 21 or more indicates it is much better to rent than buy.

The ratios could be useful when considering whether to rent or buy. And investors often look at the ratios before purchasing a rental property.

The number also may be used as an indicator of an impending housing bubble, as a substantial increase in the ratio could mean that renting is becoming a much more attractive option in that specific housing market.

If you’re exploring different areas, it might be a good idea to estimate mortgage payments based on median home prices.

A Snapshot of Real-Life Ratios

Here are 50 (plus one) popular metropolitan areas and their price-to-rent ratios as 2021 began, when the U.S. median home sale price was $346,800, the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis reported.

Median sale price listed comes from Redfin as of December 2020. Median rents listed come from a Zumper national rent report from February 2021, based on a one-bedroom apartment.

Remember, as home prices and rents shift over time, so do the ratios.

San Francisco

It’s no secret that San Francisco housing prices are way up there. The median sale price was $1,350,000, and median rent was $2,680 per month (or $32,160 a year). That gives the hilly city a price-to-rent ratio of 42.

A snug studio at, say, $2,000 a month yields a ratio of 56.

San Jose, Calif.

Golden State housing continues its pricey rep. The median sale price in San Jose was $1,050,000, and the city had median rent of $25,560 yearly ($2,130 a month), leading to a price-to-rent ratio of 41.

Seattle

The Emerald City had a median sale price of $725,000 and median annual rent of $20,388, for a price-to-rent ratio of close to 39.

Los Angeles

A median sale price of $831,000 and median one-bedroom rent of $23,280 a year ($1,940 a month) shines a Hollywood light on renting, with a ratio of 36.

Long Beach, Calif.

With a median home price of $675,000 and rent of $1,600 a month, Long Beach earned a ratio of 35.

Santa Ana and Anaheim, just north of Santa Ana, were in the same league, with ratios of 33 and 34.

Honolulu

The ratio in the capital of Hawaii is a steamy 35, with a $620,000 median sale price and median rent of $17,520.

Oakland, Calif.

Oakland, across the bay from San Francisco, had a median sale price of $785,000 and median rent of $24,000 a year ($2,000 a month), earning a price-to-rent ratio of close to 33.

Austin, Texas

A hotbed for artists, musicians, and techies, Austin had a price-to-rent ratio of 33, thanks to a median sale price of $475,000 and median annual rent of $14,400.

San Diego

Hop back to Southern California beaches and “America’s Finest City,” where a median sale price of $690,000 and median rent of $21,600 led to a ratio of 32.

New York, NY

The median sale price here was $725,000 and median rent was $28,200 a year ($2,350 a month), which equates to a price-to-rent ratio of nearly 26.

Of course the city is composed of five boroughs, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island, and it’s probable that most of the sales under $725,000 were not in Manhattan (where the median was $1.18 million) or Brooklyn (where the median was $915,000).

Just looking at Manhattan, even with rents falling to under $3,000 a month, the ratio looks more like 34 or 35.

Boston

With a median sale price of $702,000 and median rent of $24,240 a year, Beantown had a price-to-rent ratio of 29.

Portland, Ore.

The midpoint of buying here of late was $485,000, compared with median rent of $16,800, for a price-to-rent ratio of 29.

Tucson, Ariz.

In Tucson, the median sale price of $251,000 and median annual rent of $8,760 rounded up to a ratio of 29.

Denver

The Mile High City logged a renter-leaning ratio of 28, thanks to a median sale price of $476,000 and median annual rent cost of $16,800.

Colorado Springs, Colo.

With a median sale price of $366,000 and annual rent of $13,080, this city at the eastern foot of the Rocky Mountains had a recent price-to-rent ratio of 28.

Albuquerque, N.M.

In the Southwest, Albuquerque heated up to a ratio of 28, based on a median home sale price of $250,000 and rent of $8,880.

Washington, D.C.

The nation’s capital is another pushpin on the map with a high cost of living. The median sale price of $640,650 compares with median rent of $23,520 annually ($1,960 a month), translating to a ratio of 27.

Mesa, Ariz.

With a median sale price of $325,000 and median rent of $12,240, Mesa slithers to a price-to-rent ratio of nearly 27.

Las Vegas

Sin City has reached a ratio of 26, based on a $314,900 median sale price vs. $12,000 in rent.

Phoenix

Phoenix’s price-to-rent ratio has revved up to 26, with a median home sale price of $320,000 and $12,120 in rent.

Raleigh, N.C.

The North Carolina capital, the City of Oaks, logs a ratio of 25, based on a $320,000 median home sale price and median rent of $12,600.

Tulsa, Okla.

Tulsa had a price-to-rent ratio of 25, with low median rent of $7,680 but home sale prices ticking up to a median of $192,000.

Dallas

This sprawling city had a recent median sale price of $374,000 and median annual rent of $14,640, leading to a price-to-rent ratio of 25.5.

Sacramento, Calif.

This Northern California city had a recent median sale price of $402,000 and rent of $16,800, for a price-to-rent ratio of 24.

Fresno, Calif.

Fresno makes the list with a price-to-rent ratio of nearly 23, based on figures of $300,000 and $13,200.

Oklahoma City

The capital of Oklahoma had one of the lower price-to-rent ratios until recent home price spikes. It logs a ratio of 23 lately, based on figures of $215,000 and $9,240.

Arlington, Texas

Back to the Lone Star State, this city between Fort Worth and Dallas, with median figures of $250,000 and $11,400, had a ratio of 22.

San Antonio

This Texas city southwest of Austin had a median sale price of $244,000 and median annual rent of $11,280, resulting in a price-to-rent ratio near 22.

El Paso, Texas

El Paso traded a low price-to-rent ratio for a higher one when home prices rose. It’s at a 22, based on recent figures of $187,000 and $8,520.

Omaha, Neb.

With a median sale price of $206,750 and median annual rent of $9,600, Omaha had a recent home price-to-rent ratio of 21.5.

Nashville, Tenn.

The first Tennessee city on this list is the Music City, with a ratio of 21.

Virginia Beach, Va.

The ratio here has reached 21, based on a median home sale price of $290,000 and rent of $13,560.

Tampa, Fla.

This major Sunshine State city had a price-to-rent ratio of 20, based on figures of $290,000 and $14,400.

Jacksonville, Fla.

This east coast Florida city had a recent ratio of 20, based on a median sale price of $233,000 and rent of $11,640.

Charlotte, N.C.

Charlotte’s price-to-rent ratio of 20 arises from a median home sale price of $295,000 and median annual rent of $14,640.

Fort Worth, Texas

Panther City’s price-to-rent ratio has crept up to 20, based on a home sale price of $262,000 and rent of $12,960.

Houston

Houston, we have a number. It’s 20. That’s based on a median sale price of $269,000 and median annual rent of $13,200.

Louisville, Ky.

Despite having a different median sale price ($205,000) and rent ($10,440), Louisville had the same price-to-rent ratio as some bigger cities, at about 20.

Columbus, Ohio

The only Ohio city on this list had a price-to-rent ratio of 20, due to a median sale price of $208,000 and median annual rent of $10,320.

Atlanta

Heading South, Atlanta had a median sale price of $349,450 and median annual rent of $18,480, for a price-to-rent ratio of 19.

Miami

Those looking to put down roots in this vibrant city will find a price-to-rent ratio of a hair under 19, based on $360,000 and $19,200.

Minneapolis

The Mini-Apple is sweeter on renting, with a ratio of 19, based on a median sale price of $295,000 and rent of $15,600.

New Orleans

Next up is another charming Southern city, with a price-to-rent ratio of 18, given a median sale price of $312,500 and median rent of $17,040.

Kansas City, Mo.

In this Show-Me State city, a median home value of $218,000 and median annual rent of $12,000 equate to a price-to-rent ratio of 18.

Chicago

Chi-Town’s 16.5 ratio is based on a $305,000 median home sale price and $18,480 median rent.

Memphis, Tenn.

Memphis logs a ratio of 16, with a median home sale price of $163,000 and median annual rent of $9,960.

Indianapolis

The ratio in this capital city is 16, thanks to a median home sale price of $185,000 and rent of $11,280.

Philadelphia

This major East Coast city had a recent median sale price of $240,000 and median annual rent of $16,200, for a price-to-rent ratio of 15, the number that begins to signal that a place may be more favorable for buying over renting.

Baltimore

Charm City had a recent median home sale price of $198,000 and median rent of $14,160, for a price-to-rent ratio of 14.

Newark, N.J.

Newark, anyone? The median sale price here was $271,000, but median rent spiked to $1,750 a month, leading to a buyer-friendly ratio of 13.

Milwaukee

Milwaukee is more favorable to homebuyers than renters, thanks to a price-to-rent ratio of 11. This Midwest city had a recent median sale price of $155,000 and rent of $14,400.

Detroit

Detroit saw a spike in home sale prices, though the latest median was a relatively low $71,000, compared with median rent of $10,800, for a ratio of 6.5.

The Takeaway

The price-to-rent ratio lends insight into whether a city is more favorable to buyers or renters. Usually in a range of 1 to 21-plus, the ratio is useful to house hunters, renters, and investors who want to get the lay of the land.

If you’re in the market to buy, whether as a primary-home owner or investor, give SoFi mortgage loans a look.

SoFi home loans have competitive rates and no hidden fees. Plus, you may qualify for a loan with well under 20% down.

Interested in a home loan with SoFi? Find your rate in two minutes.



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Source: sofi.com

Is a Home Refinance or a Line of Credit Better?

I have refinanced many of my properties over the years and I have also used lines of credit quite a few times. I am a real estate investor who flips houses and buys quite a few rentals so having cash available is important to my business. You can take cash out of properties you own using a refinance or a line of credit, but they are very different loan products. A refinance has a longer-term, could have a fixed rate, but you must use the money at all times. A line of credit has a shorter term, usually has a variable rate, but you can use the money when you need to and not use money when you do not need it. There are pros and cons to each option that I will discuss in detail in this article.

How does a cash-out refinance or line of credit work?

A cash-out refinance is what we are talking about in this article because you are taking cash out of your house. The basic idea is that you have a loan on your house now or you owe it free and clear. A refinance means you get a new loan that pays off the old loan or is put in place with a property owned free and clear. When it is a cash-out refinance the new loan replaces the old loan, pays all of the loan fees, and has money left over that you get to keep. if the new loan is $100,000 and the old loan is $80,000 you might get $15,000 cash back after paying the refinance fees.

A line of credit or a home equity line of credit (HELOC) is a loan as well but usually a shorter-term loan that does not replace the current loan you have on the property. You can still use a line of credit on a house you own free and clear but you can also use a line of credit on top of a mortgage that you may already have. If you have an $80,000 loan and your house is worth $120,000 you may be able to get a $20,000 or $30,000 line of credit against the house and keep the $80,000 loan as well. With the line of credit you can take the money out to use it for whatever you like or if you do not want to use it you can leave the money in the loan and not pay interest on it.

The video below goes over how I used a cash-out refinance on one of my rentals.

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Why would you need a line of credit or refinance?

As I mentioned I have a business that uses a lot of cash! We flip houses and have done as many as 26 flips in one year. It takes a lot of money to flip houses even if we use financing to buy the properties. We must pay for the carrying costs, repairs, and interest on the loans. I also buy rental properties which can also take quite a bit of money to buy and stabilize when we are purchasing properties that need work. There are many people who can use the money for their business or for investing. Interest rates on refinances and lines of credit are extremely low right now. While it can add more risk, it is worth it to many to take the equity out of properties they own to use for other investments.

There are people who like to constantly take cash out for other reasons like buying cars or vacations. Is that wrong? I am not here to judge people and tell them what they should do with their money. If they have the money and want to spend it a certain way then go for it. I am a big fan of saving and investing but not everyone lives life the same way. I would warn you to be careful about always relying on house values to increase so you can refinance. Housing prices could go down or your own financial situation could make it difficult to get new loans in the future.

Many other people will use cash-out refinances to pay off other debt or credit cards. I think this is also a good use of the money as it can reduce the monthly expenses but again, if you are constantly racking up more short-term debt and relying on a refinance to bail you out, be careful!

Pros and cons

Refinance

When you refinance your home with a new mortgage you are usually putting in place a long-term loan with a fixed interest rate, or at least a fixed rate for a specified period of time (Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM)). You can refinance with a 10, 15, 20, 25, or even 30-year loan. If you use an ARM you can lock in the interest rate for 3, 5, 7, or 10 years and then that rate can adjust up after that fixed term is over. Usually, an ARM has lower rates than a fixed-rate mortgage, which means the interest rate is the same for the entire length of the loan. When you refinance the property you must use all of the money from the loan. If you get $20,000 cash back after the refinance you get that check or wire. If you want to pay down the loan you can, but you cannot take that money back out again.

When you refinance a personal house you can usually get a new loan up to 80% of the value of the property. When you refinance an investment property you can usually get a loan up to 75% of the value of the property. There may be some small banks or credit unions that will refinance at a higher rate but they are hard to find. If you are refinancing but not taking cash out you should be able to find lenders that will go to 95% of the value of an owner-occupied home. When you refinance it will cost you some money as the origination fees, appraisal, and other costs can be 2 to 3% of the loan amount.

Line of credit

A line of credit is much different than a mortgage. With a line of credit, the length of the loan is usually short with 2,5, or 10-year terms being common. Some lenders may offer 15-year lines of credit on owner-occupied homes. The interest rate is usually variable as well so the rate can go up and down at any time. A big advantage of a line of credit is that you can borrow money from the line, and pay it back, and then borrow it again, unlike the refinance. If you don’t need the money you don’t have to use it, you don’t have to pay interest on it, but it is there when you do need it. A line of credit can often go up to 95% of the value of an owner-occupied home and 75% of the value of an investment property. It can be tough to find lenders that will offer lines of credit on investment properties but they do exist! The line of credit often costs less than a refinance as well since there may not be origination fees. There will be some fees and often the fees for a line of credit on an investment property can be close to the refinance fees, but the fees on an owner-occupied line of credit are usually lower than the fees on an owner-occupied refinance.

Which is better?

There is no one size fits all answer for the best option. It really depends on the person, what they need the money for, how long they need the money, and how much money they need. I have used both a line of credit and cash-out refinance on my personal houses and investment properties.

Line of credit is good for people who:

  • Don’t need the money all the time
  • Don’t need the money long-term
  • Want to maximize the cash they have access to
  • Want to minimize the fees needed

A cash-out refinance is good for people who:

  • Want the money for long periods of time
  • Want a fixed-term interest rate
  • Want to replace the mortgage they have now if it has higher rates

Conclusion

I like to use cash-out refinances because I tend to use most of my money all the time. I also like to lock in long-term rates and terms. I know I may be paying more in fees but I am okay with that for the other advantages. What is best for me may not be best for everyone. I would look at your situation and see what options you can find for financing and compare both scenarios to see what is best for you.

Below is an example of a huge cash-out refinance we did!

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Source: investfourmore.com

First-Time Home Buyers Find a Tough Market—Here’s What’s Different This Year

Starry-eyed first-time home buyers are getting a rude awakening to the realities of today’s high-stakes home-buying market.

The coronavirus pandemic supercharged the housing market, as buyers urgently seeking more space flooded the market, lured by low mortgage rates. That’s on top of the usual dynamics of household expansion: Many millennials hit 30 and wanted homes that could accommodate a growing family. Amid a historic shortage of properties for sale, the result has been bidding wars and record-high prices. It’s enough to make a first-time buyer’s head spin.

Just under half of first-time buyers and more than a third of prospective buyers were either outbid on their dream home or discovered they couldn’t afford it, according to a recent realtor.com® survey. Roughly a fifth of these buyers made five or more offers on different properties before having one accepted.

Realtor.com surveyed 1,000 recent and first-time home buyers Jan. 7–11.

“The market has been extremely competitive,” realtor.com Senior Economist George Ratiu. “There is a critical shortage of homes for sale, which has caused multiple bids to become the norm across the country.

“For first-time buyers, especially, this environment means having your financing and budgeting together is paramount,” he adds.

But it’s not all bad news. About 47% of first-time buyers were thrilled to find their budgets were larger than they had thought, according to the survey. That’s largely due to mortgage rates, which averaged just 2.73% for a 30-year fixed-rate loan in the week ending Jan. 28, according to Freddie Mac. However, 21% learned their money wouldn’t stretch as far as they had hoped.

Even those in a better financial position still had to compromise on what they wanted in a home—and where it’s located. About a fifth were forced to look in cheaper neighborhoods. Another fifth had to spend more than they had originally planned, and nearly the same number had to forgo some of the home features on their wish lists. These included things like a garage, a big backyard, a finished basement, and a pool.

To save up for a down payment, many also had to make sacrifices. Half of recent first-time homeowners saved up in less than three years by setting aside a portion of their paycheck each month, cutting out discretionary spending on the fun stuff, and depositing windfalls like tax refunds and bonuses in the bank.

Just over half, 52%, also turned to their family and friends for help.

“First-time buyers tend to be younger. This generation has higher student debt than any prior generation,” says Ratiu. “Not surprisingly, family help with providing down payment assistance plays a big role in today’s market.”

Source: realtor.com