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Top 3 Myths About Today’s Real Estate Market

by Keeping Current Matters

There are many conflicting headlines when it comes to describing today’s real estate market. Some are making comparisons to the market we experienced 10 years ago and are starting to believe that we may be doomed to repeat ourselves. Others are just plain wrong when it comes to what it takes to qualify for a mortgage.

Today, we want to try and clear the air by shedding some light on what’s causing some of these headlines, as well as what’s truly going on.

Myth #1: We Are Headed for Another Housing Bubble

Home prices have appreciated year-over-year for the last 76 straight months. Many areas of the country are at or near their peak prices achieved before the last housing bubble burst. This has many worried that we are headed towards another housing bubble.

Reality: The biggest challenge facing today’s real estate market is a lack of homes for sale! Demand is strong, as many renters have come off the fence and are searching for their dream homes.

Historically, a normal market requires a 6-month supply of inventory in order for prices to rise with the rate of inflation. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR) there is currently a 4.3-month supply of inventory.

The US housing market hasn’t had 6-months inventory since August 2012! The concept of supply and demand is what is driving home prices up!

Myth #2: The Rumored Recession Will Lead to Another Housing Market Crash

Economists and analysts know that the country has experienced economic growth for almost a decade. When this happens, they also know that a recession can’t be too far off. But what is a recession?

Merriam-Webster defines a recession as “a period of temporary economic decline during which trade and industrial activity are reduced, generally identified by a fall in GDP in two consecutive quarters.”

Reality: Recession DOES NOT equal housing crisis. Many people associate these two terms with one another because the last time we had a recession it was caused by a housing crisis. According to the Federal Reserve, over the last 40 years, there have been six recessions. In each of the previous five recessions, home values appreciated.

Myth #3: There is an Affordability Crisis Looming

Rising home prices have many concerned that the average family will no longer be able to afford the most precious piece of the American Dream – their own home.

There are many different affordability indexes supported by different organizations that all measure different data. For this reason, there is a lot of confusion about what “affordable” actually means.

The monthly cost of a home is determined by the home’s price and the interest rate on the mortgage used to purchase it. According to Freddie Mac, interest rates have risen from 3.95% in January to 4.59% just last week.

Reality: As we mentioned earlier, home prices have appreciated year-over-year for the last 76 months, largely driven by high demand and low supply.

According to a recent study by Zillow, the percentage of median income necessary to buy a home in today’s market (17.1%) is well below the mark reached in 1985 – 2000 (21%), as well as the mark reached in 2006 (25.4)! Interest rates would have to increase to 6% before buying a home would be less affordable than historical norms.

The starter-home market has appreciated at higher levels (9.4% year-over-year) than any other market. One reason for this is the fact that many of the first-time buyers who have flocked to the starter-home market are being met with high competition. For some hopeful buyers, it may take more than a good offer to stand out from the crowd!

Bottom Line

There is a lot of confusion in today’s real estate market. If your future plans include buying or selling, make sure you have a trusted advisor and market expert by your side to help guide you to the best decision for you and your family.

What Does The Recent Rash Of Price Reductions Mean To The Real Estate Market?

by Keeping Current Matters

Last week, in a new report from Zillow, it was revealed that there has been a rash of price reductions across the country. According to the report:

  • There are more price cuts now than a year ago in over two-thirds of the nation’s largest metros
  • About 14% of all listings had a price cut in June
  • Since the beginning of the year, the share of listings with a price cut increased 1.2%
  • This is the greatest January-to-June increase ever reported, and more than double the January-to-June increase last year

Senior Economist Aaron Terrazas further explained:

“A rising share of on-market listings are seeing price cuts, though these price cuts are concentrated at the most expensive price-points and primarily in markets that have seen outsized price gains in recent years.”

What this DOESN’T MEAN for the real estate market…

This doesn’t mean home values have depreciated or are about to depreciate.

A seller may put a home worth $300,000 on the market for $325,000 hoping a bidding war will occur and an overanxious buyer will pay more than its actual value. That has happened often over the last few years. If the seller gets no offers and reduces the price to $300,000, it doesn’t mean the home dropped in value. It is still worth $300,000.

Home prices will continue to appreciate over the next 12 months. In this same report, Terrazas remarks:

“It’s far too soon to call this a buyer’s market, home values are still expected to appreciate at double their historic rate over the next 12 months, but the frenetic pace of the housing market over the past few years is starting to return toward a more normal trend.”

What this DOES MEAN for the real estate market…

This does mean that sellers should be more conservative when it comes to the price at which they list their homes – especially sellers in the upper end of each market.

Sellers have been listing their homes at inflated prices hoping a super-hot market will deliver a buyer willing to pay virtually any price to ensure they don’t lose the house. That strategy has worked somewhat successfully over the last two years. However, the time that strategy would have worked may have passed.

Again, quoting Aaron Terrazas in the report:

“The housing market has tilted sharply in favor of sellers over the past two years, but there are very early preliminary signs that the winds may be starting to shift ever-so-slightly.”

Bottom Line

Prices are not depreciating. However, if you want to sell your house quickly and with the least amount of hassles, pricing it correctly from the beginning makes the most sense.

Having Trouble Saving Enough For Your Down Payment? Crowdfund It!

by Keeping Current Matters

You read that right! First-time buyers across the country are getting creative when it comes to saving the necessary down payment to buy a home.

Many couples are asking their wedding guests to contribute to their “Down Payment Fund” rather than fulfilling a traditional registry. This is fueled by the fact that many couples live together prior to marriage and already have the necessary items to make a house a home…they just need the house!

The average wedding in the United States has 120 guests who give wedding gifts valued, on average, at $186. This means that couples could walk away from their nuptials with over $22,000 towards their down payment!

Services like HomeFundMe allow friends, family members, and almost anyone else in a buyer’s network to contribute funds toward the buyer’s down payment. Contributors can determine, at the time of their donation, if their gifts are ‘conditional’ or ‘non-conditional’ on the beneficiary buying a home.

According to a recent Wall Street Journal article“about 400 borrowers have used HomeFundMe to help buy homes since the program launched in October and on average, they raise about $2,500.” The article went on to explain that most borrowers use these funds in combination with their personal savings to shorten the time needed to achieve their goal of homeownership.

There are more and more programs surfacing from lenders that allow buyers to put down as little as 3% to buy their dream home. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loan programs require 3% down payments, while FHAprograms require as little as 3.5%, and VA Loans are often approved with 0% down!

Bottom Line

Gone are the days of 20% down or no loan! If your dreams include buying a home of your own in the next year, you can get creative with your down payment savings to make it happen!

The Net Worth Of A Homeowner Is 44x Greater Than A Renter!

by Keeping Current Matters

The Net Worth Of A Homeowner Is 44x Greater Than A Renter!

Every three years, the Federal Reserve conducts their Survey of Consumer Finances in which they collect data across all economic and social groups. Their latest survey data, covering 2013-2016 was recently released.

The study revealed that the median net worth of a homeowner was $231,400 – a 15% increase since 2013. At the same time, the median net worth of renters decreased by 5% ($5,200 today compared to $5,500 in 2013).

These numbers reveal that the net worth of a homeowner is over 44 times greater than that of a renter.

Owning a home is a great way to build family wealth

As we’ve said before, simply put, homeownership is a form of ‘forced savings.’ Every time you pay your mortgage, you are contributing to your net worth by increasing the equity in your home.

That is why, for the fifth year in a row, Gallup reported that Americans picked real estate as the best long-term investment. This year’s results showed that 34% of Americans chose real estate, followed by stocks at 26% and then gold, savings accounts/CDs, or bonds.

Greater equity in your home gives you options

If you want to find out how you can use the increased equity in your house to move to a home that better fits your current lifestyle, meet with a real estate professional in your area who can guide you through the process.

First-Time Home Buyers Continue to Put Down Less Than 6%!

by Keeping Current Matters

First-Time Home Buyers Continue to Put Down Less Than 6%!

According to the Realtors Confidence Index from the National Association of Realtors, 61% of first-time homebuyers purchased their homes with down payments below 6% in 2017.

Many potential homebuyers believe that a 20% down payment is necessary to buy a home and have disqualified themselves without even trying, but in March, 71% of first-time buyers and 54% of all buyers put less than 20% down.

Ralph McLaughlin, Chief Economist and Founder of Veritas Urbis Economics, recently shed light on why buyer demand has remained strong,

“The fact that we now have four consecutive quarters where owner households increased while renters households fell is a strong sign households are making the switch from renting to buying.

Households under 35 – which represent the largest potential pool of new homeowners in the U.S. – have shown some of the largest gains. While they only make up a third of all homebuyers, the steady uptick in their homeownership rate over the past year suggests their enormous purchasing power may be finally coming to [the] housing market.”

It’s no surprise that with rents rising, more and more first-time buyers are taking advantage of low-down-payment mortgage options to secure their monthly housing costs and finally attain their dream homes.

Bottom Line

If you are one of the many first-time buyers unsure of whether or not they would qualify for a low-down payment mortgage, consult a local real estate professional who can set you on your path to homeownership!


by Keeping Current Matters

Real estate professionals around the country have not noticed a slowdown in demand for housing among young buyers; nearly 93% of all first-time homebuyers last quarter were between the ages of 21-35, with the largest share of buyers (51%) coming from those ages 26-30.

First American’s Chief Economist Mark Fleming had this to say,

“On a national level, mortgage rates would need to hit 5.6%, 1 percentage point above the current rate, before first-time homebuyers withdraw from the market.”

So, what is slowing down sales?

According to the last Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors, sales are now down 3.0% year-over-year and have fallen for the last three months. If rising interest rates aren’t to blame, then what is?

Fleming addressed the cause, saying that:

“The housing market is facing its greatest supply shortage in 60 years of record keeping, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. The ongoing housing supply shortage will make it difficult for first-time buyers to find a home to buy, even when they are financially ready.”

Bottom Line

First-time homebuyers know the importance of owning their own homes and a spike in interest rates is not going to keep them from buying this year! Their biggest challenge is finding a home to buy!

Why Should You Use A Professional To Sell Your Home?

by Keeping Current Matters

When homeowners decide to sell their houses, they obviously want to get the best possible price for their home with the least amount of hassles along the way. However, for the vast majority of sellers, the most important result is actually getting their homes sold.

In order to accomplish all three goals, a seller should realize the importance of using a real estate professional. We realize that technology has changed a buyer’s behavior during the home buying process. According to the National Association of Realtors’ 2018 Home Buyer & Seller Generational Trends Report, the first step that “42% of recent buyers took in the home buying process was to look online at properties for sale.”

However, the report also revealed that 94% of buyers who used the internet when searching for homes ultimately purchased their homes through either a real estate agent/broker or from a builder or builder’s agent. Only 2% of buyers purchased their homes directly from a seller whom they didn’t know.

Buyers search for a home online but then depend on an agent to find the home they will buy (52%), to negotiate the terms of the sale (47%) & price (38%), or to help understand the process (60%).

The plethora of information now available has resulted in an increase in the percentage of buyers who reach out to real estate professionals to “connect the dots.” This is obvious, as the percentage of overall buyers who have used agents to buy their homes has steadily increased from 69% in 2001.

Bottom Line

If you are thinking of selling your home, don’t underestimate the role a real estate professional can play in the process.


by REBAC Staff


Removing “dated” wallpaper from your home can be a real chore, but there are a few ways you can make it a bit easier. This DIY project is a great way to help update your new home’s appearance without investing a great deal of money.

Step 1. Determine what type of wall structure is under the paper.

If you don’t know what kind of wall you have, the easiest way to find out is to remove a light switch plate and look inside. In a matter of seconds, you should be able to tell if the underlying surface is drywall, plaster, or paneling.

It’s important to know the base material, to determine how wet you can safely get the paper without damaging the underlying wall surface. Plaster and (most) paneling can take more water during the removal process than drywall (also called gypsum board). Drywall is coated with paper and will absorb any water that is applied. Once wet, it’s easy to damage this material.

Step 2. Gather the tools you will need.

This includes:

  1. Drop cloths/plastic sheeting to protect the floor (preferably disposable ones, so you can just throw them away when you’re finished).
  2. Wallpaper removal solution can be purchased at your local hardware store, or you can make your own by combining bargain-brand fabric softener with equal parts of hot water.

The hotter the water, the faster the solution will soak in and the easier it will be to remove the paper. Mix up small batches, and use it before the solution gets cold.

  1. Equipment to apply water to the walls. There are several methods to select from:
  • Steam machines can be rented to “steam off” the layers. These entail a rental charge and often result in steam burns for the person using them. Previously quite common, this method has lost favor in recent years.
  • Sponge mops can be dipped in water, or a wallpaper removal solution, and applied to the walls. This method is effective on walls that can handle the excess moisture, but it also means the solution runs down the handle and down the arms of the person applying it.
  • A hand-held spray bottle can be filled with hot water and wallpaper removal solution. This method works and works well, but it’s much slower. It may be perfect for removing a border, because it will reduce the mess of excess water and will be easier to direct. For large walls and whole rooms of wallpaper, you need a better method.
  • A garden “pump” style sprayer is probably the best way to get water onto the paper. You can control the stream, the strength of the spray, and the walls of the pressurized container will retain the heat of the hot water/remover solution better than a spray bottle or an open bucket, using the sponge mop method.
  1. Scraping tools are the work horse of this job. Your best option is a semi-flexible 3-inch blade scraper. Use this to remove any loose wallpaper, before wetting, and to remove damp wallpaper from the wall. You may also want a 1-inch putty knife for working around doors, windows, and tough-to-reach areas. A wider scraper can also be used if your wallpaper is easily releasing its hold.
  2. Scoring tools may, or may not, be helpful. They are used to make tiny holes in the wallpaper, allowing the water to seep in and loosen up the glue.

This is fine on a plaster surface that won’t be damaged by the tool. On drywall, however, this tool will also make tiny holes in the paper surface of the board, allowing water to seep into the chalk interior. If you have wood paneling under your wallpaper, the tool may scratch or mar the wood’s finish.

  1. Sponge, dishwashing soap and hot water for completing the job. A bucket or dishpan with soapy hot water will help you clean your sponge as you remove the last of the glue from the walls and clean up any messes.


Step 3. Prepare the area.

This is going to be messy, so be sure to protect floors, woodwork, furniture, and other items from accidental over-spray, from dripping, and from sloshy wads of old paper mache. (After all, you make paper mache with paper, glue, and water, right?) Once it sets up, paper mache is super hard and durable.

Imagine how difficult it will be to remove a wad or even a smallish fleck of paper mache from your floor, furniture, or upholstery. Prevention is your best friend.

Step 4. Start soaking and scraping!

Listen to your favorite music, take your time, and be patient… It’s going to take a while. Admire your progress, rather than focusing on the work that still needs to be done.

Removal Tips

If the paper you are removing has a plastic or vinyl component, you may be able to get the wallpaper “started” in a corner. Spray your removal solution under that corner, then slowly peel back the paper in a whole sheet as the glue softens and dissolves.

Be careful not to over-soak the wall underneath (if it’s drywall). Be patient. It may take some time for the glue to soften. It’s much more efficient to wait than to pull too soon and tear the paper. In that case, your only option is scraping.

No matter what type of wallpaper you are removing, it’s best to start at the edge of a wall, at the woodwork, or at a seam. Starting in the middle of a sheet will be more difficult and will make it harder to lift big pieces at once.

If You Have Multiple Layers

On old plaster walls, it was common to wallpaper over existing wallpaper, and then to wallpaper over that, and so on. Most of this older wallpaper is uncoated, decorated paper and will readily absorb the water from your sprayer. Be patient and remove one layer at a time. Trying to remove multiple layers at once will usually take longer, and be more frustrating, than removing each layer individually.

Step 5. Clean up.

Use your sponge, rinsed in soapy water to wipe down the walls. This will be the final step, after the wallpaper is removed, to eliminate any remaining remnants of glue. Be sure your sponge is wrung out so you aren’t soaking the wall (particularly important on drywall surfaces).

When finished, towel-dry the walls and let them air-dry overnight before painting or doing any other finishing work on your new, paperless walls. Be sure to patch and make any needed repairs after the walls are fully dry, before painting or adding any new wall treatments.


Papering walls is a trend that comes and goes. That’s not a problem. Paint is currently more popular than wallpaper, and that’s not a problem either. The problem occurs when the two trends intersect, in the wrong order. It’s okay to place wallpaper over paint, but not paint over paper.

People do it. Perhaps the people who lived in your home before you did it. It’s tempting to imagine they wanted to harass you from afar, for what seems like forever. It’s kind of like a haunting.

No, seriously, people paint over paper for a number of reasons (and none of them have to do with you).

Why Would Someone Paint Over Wallpaper?

  • It seemed like a quick fix to update an old look.
  • Painting sounded much easier than stripping wallpaper, cleaning the glue and residue off the walls and THEN painting.
  • Their crazy Aunt Martha assured them it would work.
  • They were afraid of what they would find under the wallpaper: cracks, crumbling walls, or (gasp) even more wallpaper!
  • They didn’t know you weren’t supposed to paint over wallpaper and never even considered the position they would leave a future owner in by doing so.

See? None of these have anything to do with you. And yet, here you are, scratching your head and trying to figure out how to right the wrongs and fix this situation.

What Happens When Someone Paints Over Wallpaper?

Aside from frustrating future owners of the home, there are other things that can (and do) happen when you paint over wallpaper. Without proper priming, based on both the type of wallpaper AND the type of paint to be used, it can create a variety of problems:

  • Paint can simply fail to adhere to certain types of wallpaper.
  • Textures (like floral patterns) that initially appeared flat become REALLY obvious on a solid, painted wall.
  • Paint can make the wallpaper form bubbles and start curling at the edges and in corners.
  • The paper can “fail” and begin falling off here and there.
  • The paper will lose its porous nature and become thicker and stiffer, meaning you can no longer soak it off the walls.

In short, painted wallpaper often means headaches for anyone who eventually decides to remove it.

What Can You Do About It After the Fact?

Removing wallpaper is never easy. When the paper has been painted, it’s going to be difficult, and possibly impossible, to remove it without some damage to the underlying wall and additional repair work. If you have plaster walls, you have a fighting chance to avoid wall damage. If you have drywall (also called sheetrock or gypsum boards), not so much.

To remove the paper, you’ll have to punch holes through the paint to allow water to access the paper underneath. A scoring tool, sometimes called a “paper tiger,” will help accomplish this without causing undue damage to the wall underneath.

Once you’ve punched holes, you can rent a steam machine to remove the wallpaper or you can use a chemical remover, which dissolves the glue – if you have managed to pierce the paper so the chemicals can reach the glue. Steam is preferable, because it’s safer and less toxic.

After the glue is softened, begin removing the paper by pulling at loose corners and/or using a scraping tool. It often takes multiple attempts to even get water to the paper and even more attempts to get all the wallpaper off. Be patient, you are in this for the long haul.

It’s not going to be an easy project, but it is possible to undo the damage caused by painting over wallpaper. Good luck!

4 Reasons Why Summer Is a Great Time to Buy a Home!

by Keeping Current Matters

Here are four great reasons to consider buying a home today instead of waiting.

1. Prices Will Continue to Rise

CoreLogic’s latest Home Price Insights reports that home prices have appreciated by 7% over the last 12 months. The same report predicts that prices will continue to increase at a rate of 5.2% over the next year.

Home values will continue to appreciate for years. Waiting no longer makes sense.

2. Mortgage Interest Rates Are Projected to Increase

Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey shows that interest rates for a 30-year mortgage have increased by half a percentage point already in 2018 to around 4.5%. Most experts predict that rates will rise over the next 12 months. The Mortgage Bankers Association, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the National Association of Realtors are in unison, projecting that rates will increase by nearly a full percentage point by this time next year.

An increase in rates will impact YOUR monthly mortgage payment. A year from now, your housing expense will increase if a mortgage is necessary to buy your next home.

3. Either Way, You Are Paying a Mortgage

There are some renters who have not yet purchased a home because they are uncomfortable taking on the obligation of a mortgage. Everyone should realize that unless you are living with your parents rent-free, you are paying a mortgage – either yours or your landlord’s.

As an owner, your mortgage payment is a form of ‘forced savings’ that allows you to have equity in your home that you can tap into later in life. As a renter, you guarantee your landlord is the person with that equity.

Are you ready to put your housing cost to work for you?

4. It’s Time to Move on with Your Life

The ‘cost’ of a home is determined by two major components: the price of the home and the current mortgage rate. It appears that both are on the rise.

But what if they weren’t? Would you wait?

Look at the actual reason you are buying and decide if it is worth waiting. Whether you want to have a great place for your children to grow up, you want your family to be safer, or you just want to have control over renovations, maybe now is the time to buy.

If the right thing for you and your family is to purchase a home this year, buying sooner rather than later could lead to substantial savings.

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 49