Here are some fun facts about the Declaration of Independence that aren't as self-evident...
When the United States truly needed to protect the original Declaration of Independence, it called on Louisville, KY. On December 23rd, 1941, roughly two weeks after the attack on Pearl Harbor, uncertainty over the likelihood of a direct attack on Washington, DC led officials to evacuate the Declaration of Independence from its public display and store it in a secure location. The document was pad-locked in a specially made container, encased and sealed with lead, then placed once more into another larger, sealed container; all told, 150 pounds of protection surrounded those immortal words. Along with other historic documents—the U.S. Constitution, the Articles of Confederation, the Lincoln Cathedral copy of the Magna Carta, and the autographed 1st and 2nd drafts of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address—and protected by a group of secret service agents, the precious cargo traveled by train to Louisville, KY and was then transported by an armored division to Fort Knox, there to stay until 1944.
The declaration of independence was not actually signed on July 4, 1776. Richard Henry Lee put forward a motion of independence on July 2, 1776, and 12 of the 13 colonies voted in favor (New York abstained from voting until July 9th, due to their home assembly not yet granting permission for them to do so). Thomas Jefferson drafted a statement—the basis of the Declaration of Independence—and from July 3rd through July 4th the members of the second continental congress debated...
When most families decide to sell their home, their first step in the process is contacting an agent, though seldom without first sparing a thought to listing without one. In 2016 and 2017, for-sale-by-owners (FSBO’s) accounted for 8% and 7% of home sales, respectively. Though only a small piece of the proverbial pie, when you factor in the ~5.5 million existing-home sales in the U.S. each year between 2015 and 2018, that 7-8% begins to look fairly significant—roughly 300k to 400k homes per year. I understand their decision to list their homes without an agent. Sellers decide to take this road less traveled for a variety of distinct reasons, and for me to dismiss them as without merit (as many agents are wont to do) would be both condescending and, frankly, wrong. However, I’d like to address a few of the more popular motives specifically, in hopes that I might persuade you to make what I consider to be the wiser choice.
Reason #1: Listing without an agent can save you thousands of dollars. A listing agent typically charges a commission of 6%, with 3% of this commission going to the buyer’s agent. Even when listing without an agent the buyer’s agent commission is practically unavoidable, so listing as an FSBO can only save you, realistically, around 3% overall. On a $200,000 home this comes to $6,000! If you are rolling the funds from the sale of your home into the purchase of your next home, you can expect to pay that $6,000 off over the next 30 years, which lands closer to $10,000 at typical interest rates. This is an amount that no fiscally conscientious seller can afford to scoff at, obviously. But are these saving realized?
There are many potential homebuyers, and even sellers, who believe that they need at least a 20% down payment in order to buy a home or move on to their next home. Time after time, we have dispelled this myth by showing that many loan programs allow you to put down as little as 3% (or 0% with a VA loan).
If you have saved up your down payment and are ready to start your home search, one other piece of the puzzle is to make sure that you have saved enough for your closing costs.
Freddie Mac defines closing costs as:
“Closing costs, also called settlement fees, will need to be paid when you obtain a mortgage. These are fees charged by people representing your purchase, including your lender, real estate agent, and other third parties involved in the transaction. Closing costs are typically between 2 and 5% of your purchase price.”
We’ve recently heard from many first-time homebuyers that they wished that someone had let them know that closing costs could be so high. If you think about it, with a low down payment program, your closing costs could equal the amount that you saved for your down payment.
Here is a list of just some of the fees/costs that may be included in your closing costs, depending on where the home you wish to purchase is located:
- Government recording costs
- Appraisal fees
- Credit report fees
- Lender origination fees
- Title services (insurance, search fees)
- Tax service fees
- Survey fees
- Attorney fees
- Underwriting fees
A recent study of more than 7 million home sales over the past four years revealed that the season in which a home is listed may be able to shed some light on the likelihood that the home will sell for more than asking price, as well as how quickly the sale will close.
It’s no surprise that listing a home for sale during the spring saw the largest return, as the spring is traditionally the busiest month for real estate. What is surprising, though, is that listing during the winter came in second!
“Among spring listings, 18.7 percent of homes fetched above asking, with winter listings not far behind at 17.5 percent. While 48.0 percent of homes listed in spring sold within 30 days, 46.2 percent of homes in winter did the same.”
The study goes on to say that:
“Buyers [in the winter] often need to move, so they’re much less likely to make a lowball offer and they’ll often want to close quickly — two things that can make the sale much smoother.”
If you are debating listing your home for sale within the next 6 months, keep in mind that the spring is when most other homeowners will decide to list their homes as well. Listing your home this winter will ensure that you have the best exposure to the serious buyers who are out looking now!
The study used the astronomical seasons to determine which season the listing date fell into (Winter: Dec. 21 – Mar. 20; Spring: Mar. 21 – June...
If you are debating purchasing a home right now, you are probably getting a lot of advice. Though your friends and family will have your best interest at heart, they may not be fully aware of your needs and what is currently happening in the real estate market.
Ask yourself the following 3 questions to help determine if now is actually a good time for you to buy in today’s market.
1. Why am I buying a home in the first place?
This truly is the most important question to answer. Forget the finances for a minute. Why did you even begin to consider purchasing a home? For most, the reason has nothing to do with money.
For example, a recent survey by Braun showed that over 75% of parents say “their child’s education is an important part of the search for a new home.”
This survey supports a study by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University which revealed that the four major reasons people buy a home have nothing to do with money. They are:
- A good place to raise children and for them to get a good education
- A place where you and your family feel safe
- More space for you and your family
- Control of that space
What does owning a home mean to you? What non-financial benefits will you and your family gain from owning a home? The answer to that question should be the biggest reason you decide to purchase or not.
2. Where are home values headed?
According to the latest Home Price Index from CoreLogic, home values are projected to increase by 5.3% over the next 12 months.
What does that mean...
There is no doubt that mortgage credit availability is expanding, meaning it is easier to finance a home today than it was last year. However, the mortgage market is still much tighter than it was prior to the housing boom and bust experienced between 2003 - 2006.
The Housing Financing Policy Center at the Urban Institute just released data revealing two reasons for the current exceptionally high credit standards:
- Additional restrictions lenders put on borrowing because of concerns that they will be forced to repurchase failed loans from the government-sponsored enterprises or Federal Housing Administration (FHA).
- The concern about potential litigation for imperfect loans.
What has been the result of these concerns?
6.3 Million Less Mortgages
The Policy Center report went on to say:
“It was so hard to get a mortgage in 2015 that lenders failed to make about 1.1 million mortgages that they would have made if reasonable lending standards had been in place. From 2009 to 2014, lenders failed to make about 5.2 million mortgages thanks to overly tight credit. In total, lenders would have issued 6.3 million additional mortgages between 2009 and 2015 if lending standards had been more reasonable.”
In an interview with DSNews, Laurie Goodman and Alanna McCargo of the Policy Center further explained:
“Our Housing Credit Availability Index (HCAI)* measures the probability that mortgage borrowers...