Area Real Estate News & Market Trends

You’ll find our blog to be a wealth of information, covering everything from local market statistics and home values to community happenings. That’s because we care about the community and want to help you find your place in it. Please reach out if you have any questions at all. We’d love to talk with you!

Feb. 6, 2023

Top Reasons for Selling Your Home In Chattanooga

The Top Reasons for Selling Your House

The Top Reasons for Selling Your House | MyKCM

Many of today’s homeowners bought or refinanced their homes during the pandemic when mortgage rates were at history-making lows. Since rates doubled in 2022, some of those homeowners put their plans to move on hold, not wanting to lose the low mortgage rate they have on their current house. And while today’s rates have started coming down from last year’s peak, they’re still higher than they were a couple of years ago.

Today, 93% of outstanding mortgages have a rate at or below 6%. That means a strong majority of homeowners with mortgages have a rate below what they’d get if they moved right now. But if you’re a homeowner in that position, remember that mortgage rates aren’t the only thing to consider when making a move. Your mortgage rate is important, but there are plenty of reasons you may still need or want to move. RealTrends explains:

“Sellers who don’t have to move won’t be moving. The most common sellers will be: Homeowners downsizing . . . people moving to get more space, [households] looking for better schools…etc.

So, if you’re on the fence about selling your house, consider the other reasons homeowners are choosing to make a move. A recent report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) breaks down why homeowners have decided to sell over the past year:

The Top Reasons for Selling Your House | MyKCM

As the visual shows, the most commonly cited reasons for selling were the desire to move closer to loved ones, followed by moving due to retirement, and their neighborhood becoming less desirable. Additionally, the need for more space factored in, as did a change in household structure.

If you also find yourself wanting a change in location or needing space your current house just can’t provide, it may be time to sell.

What you want and need in a home can be reason enough to move. To find out what’s right for you, work with a trusted real estate professional who will offer advice and expert guidance throughout the process. They’ll be able to lay out all your options – giving you what you need to make a confident decision.

Bottom Line

When deciding whether or not to move, you have a lot to consider. There are plenty of non-financial reasons to factor in. Let’s connect today to weigh the benefits of selling your house.  The Lawrence Team is here to help you get the most value for your home.  Call The Lawrence Team today and let us guide you through the process.

Jan. 25, 2023

Don't Fear Foreclosure Headlines

Why You Shouldn’t Fear Today’s Foreclosure Headlines

Why You Shouldn’t Fear Today’s Foreclosure Headlines | MyKCM

If you’ve seen recent headlines about foreclosures surging in the housing market, you’re certainly not alone. There’s no doubt, the stories in the media can be pretty confusing right now. They may even make you think twice about buying a home for fear that prices could crash. The reality is, the data shows a foreclosure crisis is not where the market is headed, and understanding what that really means is mission critical if you want to know the truth about what’s happening today. Here’s a deeper look.

According to the Year-End 2022 U.S. Foreclosure Market Report from ATTOMforeclosure filings are up 115% from 2021, but down 34% from 2019. As media headlines grab onto this 115% increase, it’s more important than ever to put that percentage into context.

While the number of foreclosure filings did more than double last year, we need to remember why that happened and how it compares to more normal, pre-pandemic years in the market. Thanks to the forbearance program and other relief options for homeowners, foreclosure filings were down to record-low levels in 2020 and 2021, so any increase last year is — no surprise — a jump up. Rick Sharga, Executive VP of Market Intelligence at ATTOM, notes:

“Eighteen months after the end of the government’s foreclosure moratorium, and with less than five percent of the 8.4 million borrowers who entered the CARES Act forbearance program remaining, foreclosure activity remains significantly lower than it was prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. It seems clear that government and mortgage industry efforts during the pandemic, coupled with a strong economy, have helped prevent millions of unnecessary foreclosures.”

Clearly, these options meant millions of homeowners could stay in their homes, allowing them to get back on their feet during a very challenging period. With home values rising at the same time, many homeowners who may have found themselves facing foreclosure under other circumstances were able to leverage their equity and sell their houses rather than face foreclosure, and that trend continues today.

And remember, as the graph below shows, foreclosures today are far below the record-high 2.9 million that were reported in 2010 when the housing market crashed.

Why You Shouldn’t Fear Today’s Foreclosure Headlines | MyKCM

So, while foreclosures are rising, keeping perspective in mind is key. As Bill McBride, Founder and Author of Calculated Risknoted just last week:

“The bottom line is there will be an increase in foreclosures over the next year (from record low levels), but there will not be a huge wave of distressed sales as happened following the housing bubble. The distressed sales during the housing bust led to cascading price declines, and that will not happen this time.”

Bottom Line

Right now, putting the data into context is more important than ever. While the housing market is experiencing an expected rise in foreclosures, it’s nowhere near the crisis levels seen when the housing bubble burst, and that won’t lead to a crash in home prices.  Contact The Lawrence Team, we have a team of agents that can help you find the perfect investment.  

Posted in Real Estate
Jan. 18, 2023

Home Values Hit Bottom?

Have Home Values Hit Bottom?

Have Home Values Hit Bottom? | MyKCM

Whether you’re already a homeowner or you’re looking to become one, the recent headlines about home prices may leave you with more questions than answers. News stories are talking about home prices falling, and that’s raising concerns about a repeat of what happened to prices in the crash in 2008.

One of the questions that’s on many minds, based on those headlines, is: how much will home prices decline? But what you may not realize is expert forecasters aren’t calling for a free fall in prices. In fact, if you look at the latest data, there’s a case to be made that the biggest portion of month-over-month price depreciation nationally may already behind us – and even those numbers weren’t significant declines on the national level. Instead of how far will they drop, the question becomes: have home values hit bottom?

Let’s take a look at the latest data from several reputable industry sources (see chart below):

Have Home Values Hit Bottom? | MyKCM

The chart above provides a look at the most recent reports from Case-Shiller, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), Black Knight, and CoreLogic. It shows how, on a national scale, home values have changed month-over-month since January 2022. November and December numbers have yet to come out.

Let’s focus in on what the red numbers tell us. The red numbers are the change in home values over the last four months that have been published. And if we isolate the last four months, what the data shows is, in each case, home price depreciation peaked in August.

While that doesn’t guarantee home price depreciation has hit bottom, it confirms prices aren’t in a free fall, and it may be an early signal that the worst is already behind us. As the numbers for November and December are released, data will be able to further validate this national trend.

Bottom Line

Home prices month-over-month have depreciated for the past four months on record, but there’s a strong case to be made that the worst may be behind us. If you have questions about what’s happening with home prices in our local market, let’s connect.  Call The Lawrence Team today and let us help you with the buying or selling process.  Our goal is to get you the best price in an ever-changing market.  The Lawrence Team knows Chattanooga and N. Georgia market and we know Real Estate!  Call The Lawrence Team today!

Posted in Buying A Home
Jan. 11, 2023

Housing Market

Today’s Housing Market Is Nothing Like 15 Years Ago

Today’s Housing Market Is Nothing Like 15 Years Ago | MyKCM

There’s no doubt today’s housing market is very different than the frenzied one from the past couple of years. In the second half of 2022, there was a dramatic shift in real estate, and it caused many people to make comparisons to the 2008 housing crisis. While there may be a few similarities, when looking at key variables now compared to the last housing cycle, there are significant differences.

In the latest Real Estate Forecast Summit, Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at the National Association of Realtors (NAR), drew the comparisons below between today’s housing market and the previous cycle:

Today’s Housing Market Is Nothing Like 15 Years Ago | MyKCM

Looking at the facts, it’s clear: today is very different than the housing market of 15 years ago.

There’s Opportunity in Real Estate Today

And in today’s market, with inventory rising and less competition from other buyers, there’s an opportunity right now. According to David Stevens, former Assistant Secretary of Housing:

“So be advised…this may be the one and only window for the next few years to get into a buyer’s market. And remember…as the Federal Reserve data shows…home prices only go up and always recover from recessions no matter how mild or severe. Long term homeowners should view this market…right now…as a unique buying opportunity.”

Bottom Line

Today’s housing market is nothing like the real estate market 15 years ago. If you’re a buyer right now, this may be the chance you’ve been waiting for.  Call The Lawrence Team, and let us guide you through the buying or selling process.  The Lawrence Team has over 20 years of expertise, we know Chattanooga, and we know Real Estate.  

Posted in Buying A Home
Dec. 14, 2022

The Return of Contingencies for Homebuyers

You May Have More Negotiation Power When You Buy a Home Today

You May Have More Negotiation Power When You Buy a Home Today | MyKCM

Did the frequency and intensity of bidding wars over the past two years make you put your home search on hold? If so, you should know the hyper competitive market has cooled this year as buyer demand has moderated and housing supply has grown. Those two factors combined mean you may see less competition from other buyers.

And with less competition comes more opportunity. Here are two trends that may be the news you need to reenter the market.

1. The Return of Contingencies

Over the last two years, more buyers were willing to skip important steps in the homebuying process, like the appraisal or the inspection, in hopes of gaining an advantage in a bidding war.  But now, things are different.

The latest data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows the percentage of buyers waiving their home inspection or appraisal is down. And a recent article from realtor.com points out more sellers are accepting contingencies:

“A year ago, sellers were calling all the shots and buyers were launching legendary bidding wars, waiving contingencies, and paying for homes in cash. But now, the shoe is on the other foot, and 92% of home sellers are accepting some buyer-friendly terms (frequently related to home inspections, financing, or appraisals), . . .”

This doesn’t mean we’re in a buyers’ market now, but it does mean you have a bit more leverage when it comes time to negotiate with a seller. The days of feeling like you may need to waive contingencies or pay drastically over asking price to get your offer considered may be coming to a close.

2. Sellers Are More Willing To Help with Closing Costs

Before the pandemic, it was a common negotiation tactic for sellers to cover some of the buyer’s closing costs to sweeten the deal. This didn’t happen as much during the peak buyer frenzy over the past two years.

Today, data suggests this is making a comeback. A realtor.com survey shows 32% of sellers paid some or all of their buyer’s closing costs. This may be a negotiation tool you’ll see as you go to purchase a home. Just keep in mind, limits on closing cost credits are set by your lender and can vary by state and loan type. Work closely with your loan advisor to understand how much a seller can contribute to closing costs in your area.

Bottom Line

Despite the extremely competitive housing market of the past several years, today’s data suggests negotiations are starting to come back to the table. To find out how the market is shifting in our area, let’s connect today.  Contact The Lawrence Team, we will help you navigate the homebuying process.  Our experienced agents know the market and know Chattanooga!

Posted in Buying A Home
Nov. 21, 2022

Mortgage Rates Will Come Down

Mortgage Rates Will Come Down, It’s Just a Matter of Time

Mortgage Rates Will Come Down, It’s Just a Matter of Time | MyKCM

This past year, rising mortgage rates have slowed the red-hot housing market. Over the past nine months, we’ve seen fewer homes sold than the previous month as home price growth has slowed. All of this is due to the fact that the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate has doubled this year, severely limiting homebuying power for consumers. And, this month, the average rate for financing a home briefly rose over 7% before coming back down into the high 6% range. But we’re starting to see a hint of what mortgage interest rates could look like next year.

Inflation Is the Enemy of Long-Term Interest Rates

As long as inflation is high, we’ll see higher mortgage rates. Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve seen indications that inflation may be cooling, giving us a glimpse into what may happen in the future. The mortgage market is eagerly awaiting positive news on inflation. As Ali Wolf, Chief Economist at Zondasays:

The housing market is expected to face continued uncertainty heading into 2023 as consumers, financial markets, and policymakers work through their respective challenges in today’s economy. . . . we are watching for any additional stability in the MBS market, signs of cooling inflation, and/or less aggressive Federal Reserve action to give us confidence that mortgage rates are past their peak.”

What Does This Mean for the Future of Mortgage Rates?

As we get through the inflation battle and start to see that coming down, we should expect mortgage rates to follow. We’ve seen nods of this over the past couple of weeks. As the Federal Reserve works to bring inflation down, mortgage rates will come down as well. Bill McBride from Calculated Risk says:

My current view is inflation will ease quicker than the Fed currently expects.”

As we look toward next year, we certainly hope he’s right.

Bottom Line

Mortgage rates will come down – it’s just a matter of time. The hope is we continue to see more positive news on inflation, and that’ll bring mortgage rates down. This will give prospective homebuyers more buying power and lead to more homeowners throughout the country.  Call The Lawrence Team today and we will set you up with on of our top lenders in Chattanooga.

Posted in Buying A Home
Nov. 16, 2022

VA Loans Help Veterans

VA Loans Can Help Veterans Achieve Their Dream of Homeownership

VA Loans Can Help Veterans Achieve Their Dream of Homeownership | MyKCM

For over 78 years, Veterans Affairs (VA) home loans have provided millions of veterans with the opportunity to purchase homes of their own. If you or a loved one have served, it’s important to understand this program and its benefits.

Here are some things you should know about VA loans before you start the homebuying process.

What Are VA Loans?

VA home loans provide a pathway to homeownership for those who have served our nation. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs describes the program like this:

“VA helps Servicemembers, Veterans, and eligible surviving spouses become homeowners. As part of our mission to serve you, we provide a home loan guaranty benefit and other housing-related programs to help you buy, build, repair, retain, or adapt a home for your own personal occupancy.”

Top Benefits of the VA Home Loan Program

In addition to helping eligible buyers achieve their homeownership dreams, VA loans have several other great benefits for buyers who qualify. According to the Department of Veteran Affairs:

  • Qualified borrowers can often purchase a home with no down payment.
  • Many other loans with down payments under 20% require Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI). VA Loans do not require PMI, which means veterans can save on their monthly housing costs.
  • VA-Backed Loans often offer competitive terms and mortgage interest rates.

A recent article from Veterans United sums up just how impactful this loan option can be:

“For the vast majority of military borrowers, VA loans represent the most powerful lending program on the market. These flexible, $0-down payment mortgages have helped more than 24 million service members become homeowners since 1944.”

John Bell, Acting Executive Director of the Department of Veterans Affairs Loan Guaranty Service, also explains why this program is so powerful:

“It provides early ownership for many people that would not have that opportunity to begin with. Since there’s no down payment, it allows people to hold their wealth and it gives them the ability to have long term financial security by being able to own a house and let that equity grow.”

Bottom Line

Homeownership is the American Dream. Our veterans sacrifice so much in service of our nation, and one way we can honor and thank them is to ensure they have the best information about the benefits of VA home loans. Thank you for your service.  Call The Lawrence Team today and let us help you find your next home.  

Posted in Buying A Home
Oct. 31, 2022

Buying Your First Home

Taking the Fear out of Saving for a Home

Taking the Fear out of Saving for a Home | MyKCM

If you’re planning to buy a home, knowing what to budget for and how to save may sound scary at first. But it doesn’t have to be. One way to take the fear out of budgeting is understanding some of the costs you might encounter.  And to do that, turn to trusted real estate professionals. They can help you plan your finances and prepare your budget.

Here are just a few costs experts say you can expect.

1. Down Payment

Saving for your down payment is likely top of mind as you set out to buy a home. But do you know how much you’ll need to save? While each situation is different, there’s a common misconception that putting 20% down toward your purchase is required. An article from the Mortgage Reports explains why that’s not always the case:

“The idea that you have to put 20% down on a house is a myth. . . . The right amount depends on your current savings and your home buying goals.”

To understand your options, partner with a trusted real estate professional to go over the various loan types, down payment assistance programs, and what each one requires.

2. Closing Costs

Make sure you also budget for closing costs, which are a collection of fees and payments made to the various people involved in your transaction. Bankrate explains:

Closing costs are the fees you pay when finalizing a real estate transaction, whether you’re refinancing a mortgage or buying a new home. These costs can amount to 2 to 5 percent of the mortgage so it’s important to be financially prepared for this expense.”

The best way to understand what you’ll need at the closing table is to work with a trusted lender. They can provide you with answers to the questions you might have.

3. Earnest Money Deposit

If you want to cover all your bases, you can also consider saving for an earnest money deposit (EMD). An EMD is money you pay as a show of good faith when you make an offer on a house. According to realtor.com, it’s usually between 1% and 2% of the total home price.

This deposit works like a credit. It’s not an added expense – it’s paying a portion of your costs upfront. You’re using some of the money you already saved for your purchase to show the seller you’re committed and serious about their house. Realtor.com describes how it works as part of your sale:

It tells the real estate seller you’re in earnest as a buyer, . . . . Assuming that all goes well and the buyer’s good-faith offer is accepted by the seller, the earnest money funds go toward the down payment and closing costs. In effect, earnest money is just paying more of the down payment and closing costs upfront.”

Keep in mind, an EMD isn’t required, and it doesn’t guarantee your offer will be accepted. It’s important to work with a real estate advisor to understand what’s best for your situation and any specific requirements in your area. They’ll help you determine what moves you should make in the homebuying process to have the greatest success.

Bottom Line

Budgeting for your home purchase doesn’t have to be scary. Let’s connect so you’ll have an expert on your side to answer any questions you have along the way.  Call The Lawrence Team and we will guide you through the process and make it as painless as possible.  Now is the time to buy!

Posted in Buying A Home
Oct. 7, 2022

Buyer Should Ask Themselves 2 Questions

Two Questions Every Homebuyer Should Ask Themselves Right Now

Two Questions Every Homebuyer Should Ask Themselves Right Now | MyKCM

Rising interest rates have begun to slow an overheated housing market as monthly mortgage payments have risen dramatically since the beginning of the year. This is leaving some people who want to purchase a home priced out of the market and others wondering if now is the time to buy one. But this rise in borrowing cost shows no signs of letting up soon.

Economic uncertainty and the volatility of the financial markets are causing mortgage rates to rise. George Ratiu, Senior Economist and Manager of Economic Research at realtor.comsays this:

“While even two months ago rates above 7% may have seemed unthinkable, at the current pace, we can expect rates to surpass that level in the next three months.”

So, is now the right time to buy a home? Anyone thinking about buying a home today should ask themselves two questions:

1. Where Do I Think Home Prices Are Heading?

There are two places to turn to answer this question. First is the consensus of what experts are saying. If you look at what experts are projecting for home prices in 2023, they’re forecasting home price appreciation around 2%. While it’s true some are calling for depreciation, most are calling for appreciation in home values over the next year.

The second spot to turn to for information is the Home Price Expectation Survey from Pulsenomics – a survey of a national panel of over one hundred economists, real estate experts, and investment and market strategists. According to the latest release, the experts surveyed are also calling for home price appreciation for the next several years (see graph below):

Two Questions Every Homebuyer Should Ask Themselves Right Now | MyKCM

2. Where Do I Think Interest Rates Are Heading?

Like mentioned above, Ratiu sees mortgage rates rising over the next several months. Another expert agrees. Mark Fleming, Chief Economist at First Americansays:

“While mortgage rates are expected to continue to drift higher over the coming months, much of the rapid increase in rates is likely behind us.” 

The instability in the world and higher inflation are driving this volatile market, resulting in higher borrowing rates for those looking to buy homes.

Bottom Line

If you’re thinking about buying a home, asking yourself about home prices and mortgage rates will help you make a powerful and confident decision. Experts see both prices and rates rising in the future. The alternative is to rent, but rents are also increasing. That may mean buying a home makes more sense than renting.  Call The Lawrence Team today and start your home searching process with agents that are on call.  Buying a home is stressful, let The Lawrence Team remove the stress and walk you through the home purchasing process.

Posted in Buying A Home
Sept. 21, 2022

Selling Your Home Now

Top Reasons Homeowners Are Selling Their Houses Right Now

Top Reasons Homeowners Are Selling Their Houses Right Now | MyKCM

Some people believe there’s a group of homeowners who may be reluctant to sell their houses because they don’t want to lose the historically low mortgage rate they have on their current home. You may even have the same hesitation if you’re thinking about selling your house.

Data shows 51% of homeowners have a mortgage rate under 4% as of April this year. And while it’s true mortgage rates are higher than that right now, there are other non-financial factors to consider when it comes to making a move. In other words, your mortgage rate is important, but you may have other things going on in your life that make a move essential, regardless of where rates are today. As Jessica Lautz, Vice President of Demographics and Behavioral Insights at the National Association of Realtors (NAR), explains:

Home sellers have historically moved when something in their lives changed – a new baby, a marriage, a divorce or a new job. . . .”

So, if you’re thinking about selling your house, it may help to explore the other reasons homeowners are choosing to make a move today. The 2022 Summer Sellers Survey by realtor.com asked recent home sellers why they decided to sell. The visual below breaks down how those homeowners responded:

Top Reasons Homeowners Are Selling Their Houses Right Now | MyKCM

As the visual shows, an appetite for different features or the fact that their current home could no longer meet their needs topped the list for recent sellers. Additionally, remote work and whether or not they need a home office or are tied to a specific physical office location also factored in, as did the desire to live close to their loved ones.

The realtor.com survey summarizes the findings like this:

The primary reason homeowners decided to sell in the last year was the realization that, after so much time spent at home, they wanted different features and amenities, such as walkability, outdoor space, pool, etc. . . . 

If you, like the homeowners they surveyed, find yourself wanting features, space, or amenities your current home just can’t provide, it may be time to consider listing your house for sale.

Even with today’s mortgage rates, your lifestyle needs may be enough to motivate you to make a change. The best way to find out what’s right for you is to partner with a trusted real estate professional who can provide expert guidance and advice throughout the process. They can help walk you through your options, so you can make a confident decision based on what matters most to you and your loved ones.

Bottom Line

While the financial reasons for moving are important, there’s often far more to consider. Non-financial reasons can also be a significant motivating factor. If you need help weighing the pros and cons of selling your house, let’s connect today. Call The Lawrence Team, we have 13 agents on call each and everyday ready to assist you with all your real estate needs.