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5 Real Estate Trends You Need To Know Before the Year Ends

kevinruss / Getty Images/iStockphoto

kevinruss / Getty Images/iStockphoto

Rachel Cruze is the daughter of Ramsey Solutions founder and famed financial personality Dave Ramsey. As one of the key contributors to Ramsey Solutions, Cruze recently posted an update on the site regarding the current state of the real estate market, along with projections for 2024.

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Here are some of Cruze’s insights, along with how these real estate trends could affect you whether you are a homeowner or looking to get into the market.

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The Supply of Homes Is Increasing

One of the reasons that home prices continued to surge in 2022 and 2023 was the low supply. Fewer homeowners were willing to sell in 2023 because many of them held low-cost mortgages, with rates of 4% or lower. With rates peaking near 8% in 2023, it didn’t make financial sense for them to give up a 3% or 4% mortgage in exchange for picking up one near 8%.

As basic economics will tell you, when supply outstrips demand of any item, the price will rise. With a large number of buyers chasing a smaller number of houses, prices inevitably rose. But Cruze notes that while the increase is slow, the number of homes available is slowly rising. If mortgage rates continue to fall throughout 2024, as they started to at the end of 2023, the housing inventory logjam may start to break up.

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Home Prices Continue To Rise

Although conditions are becoming slightly more favorable for buyers, it’s still a tough time to get into the market. That’s why it’s more important than ever for buyers to make sure they only look at homes they can truly afford. To Cruze and the experts at Ramsey Solutions, this means three things:

  • Ensure your total housing costs, including principal, interest, property tax, home insurance, homeowners association fees and private mortgage insurance, if any, total less than 25% of your monthly take-home pay.

  • Try to save a down payment of at least 20%.

  • Choose a 15-year mortgage.

Not all experts agree with the Ramsey Solutions recommendations. For example, some feel that a 30-year mortgage gives you more flexibility than a 15-year mortgage, while others say that it’s OK if your total housing costs reach 35% of your income. But if you want to take the most conservative approach to buying a home, the Ramsey method will certainly help you find a truly affordable house.

Mortgage Rates Remain High

Cruze always recommends buyers select a 15-year mortgage over a 30-year because rates are generally lower. You’ll also always end up paying far less interest, as the term of your loan is only half as long. This is particularly true in the high-rate environment that currently exists. While rates have started to fall from their peak, they’re still more than double the lows seen in 2020.

While it’s not ideal to buy a home when rates are high, if you need a home, you need a home. Just be sure to save up a large down payment and buy only a home you can afford. If rates do fall in the future, remember you can always refinance into the lower rate.

Online Services Are More Available

Just as in other areas of financial services, technology has reached the world of real estate. While buying a home has traditionally been a handshake business requiring in-person transactions, more and more services are moving online. However, Cruze cautions against getting too sucked into the “latest and greatest” technologies.

For example, there are some companies that now allow you to conduct a home sale entirely online. They’ll buy your home from you and handle everything from inspections and showings to repairs and processing. However, you may have to actually pay more for those services than you would with a traditional agent, and you will likely get a lower price for your house than you could using more conventional methods.

You can also use a virtual real estate agent and pay a lot less in commissions than you would by using a traditional agent. However, Cruze says you generally get what you pay for in these situations, and while the process might be easier, she would recommend opting for the much better in-person experience.

The Number of Risky Buying Options Is Rising

Cruze advises against getting caught up in newfangled buying options. While they may sound attractive, you risk getting in over your head. Specifically, Cruze warns of down payment loans and rent-to-own programs.

A down payment loan essentially allows you to buy a house for 0% down. You can accomplish this by borrowing the full amount of the house from two or more lenders. But Cruze says that putting 0% down on a house is a terrible idea.

The same is true for rent-to-own (RTO) programs. Cruze suggests never getting “taken in” by RTO because your rent payments will always be higher than they should, as some of your payments go to owning your home. Either take the step of buying a home, even with a 10% or 15% down payment, or rent until you save up a sizable down payment.

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This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: Rachel Cruze: 5 Real Estate Trends You Need To Know Before the Year Ends

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