Gold Country CA Real Estate Blog and News

Lending Standards Are Not Like They Were Leading Up to the Crash


You might be worried we’re heading for a housing crash, but there are many reasons why this housing market isn’t like the one we saw in 2008. One of which is how lending standards are different today. Here’s a look at the data to help prove it. 

Every month, the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) releases the Mortgage Credit Availability Index (MCAI). According to their website:

“The MCAI provides the only standardized quantitative index that is solely focused on mortgage credit. The MCAI is . . . a summary measure which indicates the availability of mortgage credit at a point in time.”

Basically, the index determines how easy it is to get a mortgage. Take a look at the graph below of the MCAI since they started keeping track of this data in 2004. It shows how lending standards have changed over time. It works like this: 

  • When lending standards are less strict, it’s easier to get a mortgage, and the index (the green line in the graph) is higher.
  • When lending standards are...

Why the Median Home Price Is Meaningless in Today’s Market


The National Association of Realtors (NAR) will release its latest Existing Home Sales (EHS) report later this week. This monthly report provides information on the sales volume and price trend for previously owned homes. In the upcoming release, it’ll likely say home prices are down. This may feel a bit confusing, especially if you’ve been following along and seeing the blogs saying that home prices have bottomed out and turned a corner.

So, why will this likely say home prices are falling when so many other price reports say they’re going back up? It all depends on the methodology of each report. NAR reports on the median sales price, while some other sources use repeat sales prices. Here’s how those approaches differ.

The Center for Real Estate Studies at Wichita State University explains median prices like this:

The median sale price measures the...

Saving for a Down Payment? Here’s What You Need To Know.


If you're planning to buy your first home, then you're probably focused on saving for all the costs involved in such a big purchase. One of the expenses that may be at the top of your mind is your down payment. If you’re intimidated by how much you need to save for that, it may be because you believe you must put 20% down. That doesn’t necessarily have to be the case. As the National Association of Realtors (NAR) notes:

One of the biggest misconceptions among housing consumers is what the typical down payment is and what amount is needed to enter homeownership.”

And a recent Freddie Mac survey finds:

. . . nearly a third of prospective homebuyers think they need a down payment of 20% or more to buy a home. This myth remains one of the largest perceived barriers to achieving homeownership.”

Here’s the good news. Unless specified by your loan type or lender, it’s typically not required to put 20% down. This means you could be closer to your homebuying dream than you realize.

According to NAR, the ...

A Drop in Equity Doesn’t Mean Low Equity


You may see media coverage talking about a drop in homeowner equity. What’s important to understand is that equity is tied closely to home values. So, when home prices appreciate, you can expect equity to grow. And when home prices decline, equity does too. Here’s how this has played out recently. 

Home prices rose rapidly during the ‘unicorn’ years. That gave homeowners a considerable equity boost. But those ‘unicorn’ years couldn’t last forever. The market had to moderate at some point, and that’s what we saw last fall and winter. 

As home prices dropped slightly in the back half of 2022, equity was impacted. Based on the most recent report from CoreLogic, there was a 0.7% dip in homeowner equity over the last year. However, the headlines reporting on that change aren’t painting the whole picture. The reality is, while home price depreciation during the second half of last year caused equity to drop, the data shows homeowners still have near record amounts of equity

The graph below helps ...

Are Home Prices Going Up or Down? That Depends…


Media coverage about what’s happening with home prices can be confusing. A large part of that is due to the type of data being used and what they’re choosing to draw attention to. For home prices, there are two different methods used to compare home prices over different time periods: year-over-year (Y-O-Y) and month-over-month (M-O-M). Here's an explanation of each. 

Year-over-Year (Y-O-Y):
  • This comparison measures the change in home prices from the same month or quarter in the previous year. For example, if you're comparing Y-O-Y home prices for April 2023, you would compare them to the home prices for April 2022.
  • Y-O-Y comparisons focus on changes over a one-year period, providing a more comprehensive view of long-term trends. They are usually useful for evaluating annual growth rates and determining if the market is generally appreciating or depreciating.
Month-over-Month (M-O-M):
  • This comparison measures the change in home prices from one month to the next. For instance, if you're comparing M-O-M home prices for April 2023, you would compare them to the home prices for March 2023.
  • Meanwhile, M-O-M comparisons analyze changes within a single month, giving a more immediate snapshot of short-term movements and price fluctuations. They are often used to track immediate shifts in demand and supply, seasonal trends, or the impact of specific events on the housing market.

The key difference between Y-O-Y and M-O-M comparisons lies in the time frame being assessed. Both approaches have their own merits and serve...

The True Value of Homeownership


Buying and owning your home can make a big difference in your life by bringing you joy and a sense of belonging. And with June being National Homeownership Month, it’s the perfect time to think about all the benefits homeownership provides. 

Of course, there are financial reasons to buy a house, but it’s important to consider the non-financial benefits that make a home more than just where you live.

Here are three ways owning your home can give you a sense of accomplishment, happiness, and pride. 

You May Feel Happier and More Fulfilled 

Owning a home is associated with better mental health and well-being. Gary Acosta, CEO and Co-Founder at the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals (NAHREP), explains:

“Studies have shown the emotional and psychological benefits that homeownership has on a person’s health and self-esteem . . .”

Similarly, Habitat for Humanity says:

“Residential stability among homeowners is related to improved life satisfaction, . . . along with better physical and mental health.”

So, according to the experts, owning a home can improve your psychological wellness by making you feel happier and more accomplished.

You Can Engage in Your Neighborhood and Grow Your Sense of Community

Your home connects you to your community. Homeowners tend to stay in their homes longer than...

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