The coronavirus pandemic has dramatically changed the way we live, and as a result, new trends are emerging around where, exactly, we want to call home.
United States Postal Service mail forwarding data from January through mid-September 2020 shows that many in the nation’s cities moved to suburbs, presumably in search of more space while so many of us are working from home. New York City saw the biggest population shifts of any city in the country, and Texas had the most movement as a state, driven by people leaving the downtown cores of Houston, Dallas and Austin, mostly for nearby suburbs.
If you are looking to move to the city, right now is a great time to buy in downtown city neighborhoods, because prices there are holding steady or even declining a little as competition for housing in suburbs heats up. Coupled with historically low mortgage rates, there are good deals to be found that could give you a great return on investment when cities reach their new post-pandemic equilibrium. Keep in mind that lots of cities have more public health restrictions in place than less-dense areas, so make sure you know the municipal rules before you plan to move.
If you are looking to move to the suburbs or away from a city center, be prepared for the aforementioned competition. You’ll want to do everything you can to make yourself an attractive buyer, so get preapproved for your mortgage and be ready to act fast when you find a house that’s the right fit.
Keep in mind that prices in the suburbs have been going up as demand has increased and supply has stagnated, so it may be harder to stick to your budget. You need to be prepared to walk away from a house you may love so you don’t wind up with a bigger mortgage than you can afford.
What is a 30-year fixed mortgage?
A fixed-rate mortgage has an interest rate that doesn’t change over the full term of the loan, which, for a 30-year mortgage (as the name suggests) is 30 years. It’s a popular choice for many homebuyers because of its stable monthly principal and interest payments ideal for predictable monthly household budgets, at a more affordable cost than shorter-term loans.
Historical 30-year rates
According to Freddie Mac historical data, the 30-year fixed rate shot up to about 18 percent in September and October of 1981, which would give current homebuyers quite the sticker shock. The U.S. was in the midst of an economic recession back then, and the Federal Reserve hiked rates in an effort to curb inflation.
Today, mortgage rates are near historic lows, hovering around 3 percent. Knowing where rates have been — and what drives them — can help you put things into perspective as you evaluate loan offers.
When the housing crisis hit in 2008, the average annual 30-year fixed rate was 6.23 percent, according to historical Bankrate data. Since then, it has fallen considerably. When 30-year fixed mortgage rates decline, getting a mortgage is more affordable for homebuyers and those looking to refinance. However, home-prices, which have been rising for the last several years, can present a barrier for potential homeowners even when mortgage rates are low.
The benchmark 30-year fixed rate hit a record low of 3.03 percent during the week of Oct. 28, 2020, according to historical Bankrate data.
Bankrate average annual 30-year fixed mortgage rate, 2008-2018
When to consider a 30-year fixed mortgage
Choosing the right home loan is an important step in the homebuying process, and you have a lot of options. You need to take several factors into consideration, including your credit score, income, down payment amount, budget and financial goals. Here are the main benefits and drawbacks of a 30-year fixed mortgage.
Pros of a 30-year mortgage
Cons of a 30-year mortgage
Is a 30-year fixed mortgage right for you?
Choosing the right home loan is an important step in the homebuying process, and you have a lot of options. You need to take several factors into consideration, such as your credit score, income, down payment amount, budget and financial goals. Here’s how a 30-year fixed mortgage stacks up against other loan types.
Refinancing a 30-year mortgage
It’s generally a good idea to refinance your 30-year fixed mortgage into a new loan if you can get a lower interest rate, lower monthly payment, or improve your financial situation in another way. However, if you’re several years into repaying your loan and you refinance into a new 30-year mortgage, you’ll be paying more total interest in the long run by starting the repayment clock from scratch again.
You’ll also need to determine if the closing costs on your new loan outweigh the savings you’ll gain from lower monthly payments over time. When you refinance a 30-year mortgage, you’ll pay lender origination fees and third-party fees for an appraisal and other closing costs. Most lenders also require you to have at least 20 percent equity in your home to refinance, so make sure you qualify before planning a new budget for yourself.
Keep in mind that most mortgage refinances set to close on or after Dec. 1, 2020 will be assessed a 0.5 percent fee, which will make them slightly more expensive. Many lenders are already pricing the fee into their loan offers. The fee was announced by the Federal Housing Finance Agency earlier this year, and applies to all FHFA-backed loans valued at $125,000 or more.
If you can, consider refinancing a 30-year mortgage into a shorter loan, which will avoid lengthening your repayment and save you on interest. Keep in mind, though, you might have a higher monthly payment depending where you are in the amortization schedule.
How do I view personalized 30-year mortgage rates?
Use the tool at the top of this page to see what kind of rates are available in your situation. You just need to give us a little information about your finances and where you live. With that data, Bankrate can show you real-time estimates of mortgages available to you from a number of providers.
Other mortgage tools:
With COVID restrictions still in effect throughout the country, open houses and in-person showings may be off the table for sellers. Even states where these activities are allowed, selling a home can feel risky. So how can you make sure the right buyers see your home without sacrificing your health or sense of well-being? Well you can start by using these tips to stage your home and get it ready to “wow” potential buyers during online tours and showings.
Deep Clean Everything From Top to Bottom
If you anticipate that your home will be shown in person, cleaning for COVID is essential for your family’s health and safety. So be sure to clean every surface in your home after each showing, or have a professional take care of this cleaning for you. Even if you only plan on showing your home online, cleaning will be crucial for making a good first impression on potential buyers.
Since you won’t have to be as worried about killing germs and viruses, you can use effective homemade cleaners to complete this sort of deep clean, using safe and effective ingredients you probably already have in your pantry. You can make a non-toxic wood cleaner using olive oil, vinegar and water, or a high-power window cleaner by mixing dish soap, vinegar and water.
Spend Downtime on DIY Improvements
If you’re stuck at home, you may have a lot of free time on your hands. So why not put that extra time to good work by making a few improvements to your home? Some do-it-yourself upgrades that can help your home sell faster and for more money include refreshing the master bathroom, making over the kitchen or even repainting your front door.
Projects that enhance curb appeal can also help your home stand out in online showings, so spend some time cleaning up your landscaping as well. Curb appeal is crucial for attracting serious buyers to your listing but improving curb appeal can also help increase your home value. In addition to sprucing up your landscaping, make any needed repairs to your roof, driveway, and other exterior features.
Find Quiet Ways to Keep Kids Distracted
Having kids at home quarantining with you can make staging and selling your home slightly more challenging. For one, having kids playing and making noises in the background of a virtual tour can be distracting to potential buyers. So before you schedule any tours or showings, you will need to have a plan to keep your kids occupied and out of the way. Setting your kids up with a tablet in a tucked away room can be a simple way to prevent these distractions but you may want to pick up some top-rated headphones to keep the noise level to a minimum.
Of course, keeping things organized can also be a challenge for sellers who have kids at home, but Vogue offers a few tricks you can use to keep your home tidy, even with kids who love to make a mess. For instance, you can designate one area for playing, and keep bins handy for last minute tidy-ups. Make things as easy on yourself as possible by keeping clutter confined!
Discuss Safe Selling Options with a Real Estate Agent
There are plenty of DIY staging tips and tricks you can use to get your home ready wow buyers. From deep cleaning to boosting curb appeal, these projects can be a productive way to kill some extra time in lockdown. If you are serious about selling your home, however, you really need to work with an experienced real estate agent like Peter Leonard-Morgan, who can guide you through this process. He has all of the latest information on COVID-safe selling practices and real estate trends in your local area, which can help you make smarter decisions when it comes to staging and selling your home. Plus your agent can walk you through using various online tools to sell your home, which can include 3D walkthroughs, virtual tours and even contactless closings.
Honestly, using the right agent can save you a lot of hassle and headache if you need to sell your home during the pandemic. So start by hiring a real estate agent you can trust and then use the rest of the tips and tricks above to prep and stage your home to impress potential buyers.
Photo Credit: Pexels
Are you thinking about turning your home into a long-term rental property? While there are obvious benefits to selling your home, there are also benefits to renting it out. Not only do you have the chance to bring in additional income each month and grow your investment portfolio, but renting out your primary residence typically means that you can keep the lower interest rates in place, as opposed to the higher interest rates that come with purchasing an investment property.
With that said, it’s important to know what you’re getting into and to approach it the right way so you can be successful as a landlord. Read on to learn more about converting your home into a long-term rental, along with special considerations in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
Make Sure You Want to Be a Landlord
First of all, do you really want to be a landlord? There is a lot of responsibility involved. Particularly if it’s your first time, you might be handling much of the responsibilities yourself, and it can get overwhelming if you’re not committed or well-prepared. The benefits are real. Just be sure that you’re up for the management tasks involved (e.g., making repairs, keeping the property maintained, dealing with tenant complaints, etc.) and that it won’t put you in a precarious financial position.
If you can budget for it, Rentec Direct suggests hiring a property manager. It’s an investment, but it can save you a lot of time, energy, money, and stress in the long run.
Look into Cash-Out Refinancing
You will likely need to make some changes to your home before renting it out, which we will discuss below. If those changes include remodeling or other types of major improvements, and you need a way to cover the costs, one option is cash-out refinancing. Lenders like PennyMac replace your existing mortgage loan with a new, larger one. Then, the difference between the two loans is given to you in cash. You can then use that cash to pay for home improvements.
Another thing to consider is that the coronavirus has caused interest rates to drop significantly. Therefore, now could be the perfect time to refinance.
Make Essential Repairs
One type of improvement that you will probably have to make is essential repairs. This includes any big or small projects that will ensure the safety and function of the property. For instance, if the roof has seen better days, there is an issue with the plumbing or electrical, or there’s a broken step in the entryway, those things will need to be addressed before you put your home on the rental market.
Think About Upgrades
Other than the essential repairs, you will also want to consider any ways that you can generally improve the appeal of your rental property. Do you have up-to-date appliances? Do you need to repaint any areas of the home or replace the flooring? Perhaps a kitchen and/or bathroom remodel could help you draw tenants. Evaluate the overall aesthetic and function of the property, and determine what changes are worth making.
Consider the Coronavirus Pandemic
Lastly, there are a few considerations that need to be made during the pandemic. You will need to make sure your property is thoroughly cleaned and disinfected before tenants visit or move in. Also, utilize virtual tours, video chat, virtual open house events, and other technological means of showing your home and interviewing potential tenants to reduce the risks of spreading the virus.
Moreover, a lot of tenants are having trouble making ends meet right now, which as CNBC points out, could present problems with rent payments. Nonetheless, as long as you understand the risks and come up with a plan for how to work with tenants in such a situation, you shouldn’t let that prevent you from renting out your home.
Turning your home into a long-term rental is a great way to boost your income and investment portfolio. Just be sure to consider all the factors involved (both general and coronavirus-specific) to make sure it’s right for you. In no time, you could be renting out your home and raking in the cash!
Peter writes for his local magazine, Country Zest & Style, as its Wine Editor. He also enjoys writing blogs on interesting and pertinent real estate matters, so please follow!