It’s no secret that the US economy has had a shaky start in 2014, but this doesn’t mean that things won’t perk up. It will be an interesting selling season to say the least, as everything is rather low: interest rates, housing prices and inventory. If there is enough inventory to keep buyers happy, we could see some of the best sales yet.
Here are five things that homeowners and buyers should watch for this month and beyond.
1. Mortgage rates are still at historical lows.
Mortgage rates do fluctuate, and while they are rising a little more each month, rates still remain at historical lows. As long as the economy is poor, mortgage rates will continue to remain low. When the economy is booming, the opposite happens. For new homebuyers, low mortgage rates will save hundreds off their mortgage each month. This could make that difference for you, too.
2. Housing inventory is still limited.
Housing inventory remains very low, which isn’t helping speed up the housing market. But, if you put your home up for sale, chances are strong that you will have a home that is in demand and will sell quickly since there isn’t that much on the market. Low inventory also leads to bidding wars, which can help your home sell for more. On the flip side, buying a home gets a little more tricky – and competitive.
3. Expect stricter lending rules.
The new qualified-mortgage rule makes the collection of asset documentation super important. Basically, the banks want to make sure that you can make your mortgage payments and repay your loan. Even though these rules are a good thing, they create a lot of extra paperwork. If you’re applying for a loan, be prepared for these changes.
4. Refinancing is slowing down.
Homeowners were refinancing like crazy a while back, but now that mortgage rates are rising and new loans are being given, this side of the banking industry has slowed. If you’re interested in refinancing your current loan, don’t hesitate to fill out the paperwork to do so. You can always ask to have your paperwork set aside for when mortgage rates dip back down.
5. Flexible loan options are available.
Things are not like they were during the housing boom, but there are some flexible loan options available. FHA loans are backed by the government and have more gracious terms as far as down payments and credit score requirements. Some say that adjustable rate mortgages will also become more common during 2014 because mortgage rates are on the rise.