Question: What is the outlook for interest rates for the rest of the year?
Debbie: Just last November, we saw interest rates top at close to 8%. From there we’ve witnessed them fall back down to mid-6% levels, being led by the peak-inflation narrative playing out. If the Fed has done its job and the long-term target rate is reached within the next two Fed meetings, we see interest rates settling into the mid-5% range this year on a 30yr fixed.
Q: I’d like to buy a home, should I wait to see if home prices or interest rates come down?
Melissa: I don’t predict single family home prices coming down in 2023. They are going to stay steady or go up, maybe slower than previous years, but they will go up along with your equity. You can always refinance at a later time when interest rates come down. So no, don’t wait to buy a home waiting on interest rates to come down.
D: Now is a great time to buy a home and get a great price. We’ve seen sellers paying for closing costs and also waiting could cost you more money in the long run. It is important to date the rate, marry the home. Rates will be declining from what we have seen so far in the last few months. Waiting could mean the price of homes increases.
Q: Are mortgage companies offering programs to offset rising interest rates?
D: Yes! There are programs like the ‘temporary buydowns’ that have graduated interest rates. For instance, the market rate is 6.5% with a 2/1 buydown. The first year, your rate would be 4.5% and then the second year it would increase to 5.5% with the third year capping out at the original market rate you locked in at 6.5%. With the intention of hopefully refinancing before the third year to a more attractive lower interest rate.
Q: What kind of incentives are builders offering on new homes?
M: With rising interest rates builders are finding buyers searching for an affordable monthly payment. One incentive is an ‘interest rate buy-down’, paid by the builder. This creates a lower monthly payment for homebuyers and reduces financing costs over the life of the loan. Another incentive being offered is extended interest rate locks (also paid for by builders) which allows homebuyers to lock in today’s interest rates and protect themselves against any future rate increases. They are also giving design center upgrades or throwing in appliances. An experienced realtor can help navigate these incentives and help you negotiate with builders. I personally have established many great relationships with builders and enjoy working with them.
Q: Any advice for homeowners who want to sell their property?
M: Find an experienced realtor you trust and who knows the market. Watch out for these “discount brokers” who oftentimes don’t know the local market and will not provide good service or advice. You get what you pay for, right? Declutter and deep clean everything including windows inside and out. Make sure all light bulbs are working to help with the brightness. First impressions are important so pay attention to the home’s curb appeal. Make sure your realtor uses a professional photographer.
D: I agree with Melissa, now more than ever it is important to find a professional experienced realtor and mortgage loan officer, preferably one with their Certified Mortgage Advisor accreditation (CMA). A loan officer with a CMA is more of a financial advisor, who knows the market trends, products and overall economy.
6) What’s the number one thing people need to know before they start house hunting?
M: When someone is ready to start house-hunting, it is so important to know what you can afford. A lot of people don’t realize how fast and easy it is to apply with lenders by submitting applications on-line or through an app. You need to provide a pre-approval letter when submitting an offer, so go ahead and contact a lender to start that process.
D: Yes, getting prequalified so you know your buying power! It helps tremendously with negotiations if the borrower has met with a lender and already has verified income, assets, and credit score!
Realtor, The Baker Foreman Team
Melissa Baker is a Certified Luxury Home Marketing Specialist, Relocation Specialist, and experienced real estate professional with a knack for personal connection. She’s guided clients through the transaction process from start to finish with tenacity and dedication since 2014. Melissa and her husband of thirty years, Jeff happily continue to call northwest Houston home. They raised three children in the Cypress area so their roots run deep. With a passion to serve the community, Melissa is a board member for several civic and charity organizations in the area. In her free time she enjoys spending time honing her tennis skills, delving into a good book, trying new recipes in the kitchen and antique hunting.
Producing Branch Manager, Highlands Residential Mortgage - Cypress
Over the span of her twenty five years in the real estate and mortgage industry Debbie has helped hundreds of people achieve their dream of homeownership. She has a unique understanding of the importance of communication and trust between a realtor, a mortgage professional and the title company, having worked in each role during her career. Currently Debbie is the Producing Branch Manager & Certified Mortgage Advisor for Highlands Residential Mortgage in Cypress. When she’s not helping people achieve their dream of homeownership, she loves spending as much time as she can with her husband, Randall, and three grown children, Kacey, Zach, and Abbi. Debbie loves giving her time, volunteering for her favorite charities and is an avid sports fan… Go Texans! Go ‘Stros!