Is COVID-19 Impacting Mortgage Rates?

With all the uncertainty COVID-19 brings, it does seem to at least be positively impacting the real estate market.

Average daily rates have dropped to a new low of 3.09% as of May 15th – and real estate professionals believe they’ll dip even lower. Realtor.com’s Chief Economist, Danielle Hale, explains, “We expect mortgage rates to stay low and possibly slip lower. We’ll flirt with the 3% threshold for a while before we go below it.”

Similar to Fannie Mae’s May forecast – Hale also believes rates will fall to 2.9% by the end of 2020.

This all depends, however, on how COVID-19 continues to impact the economy.

For more real estate news, stop by Alliance Title’s Blog.

Home Internet Searches on the Rise

Many potential homebuyers halted their shopping in the wake of COVID-19, however, it seems as though buyers are making their way back.

LendingTree’s newly found research helps show a possible surge in home purchases. Their findings analyzed Google search data to understand how popular the term “homes for sale” was in 50 of the nation’s largest metros.

Searches in these areas have risen, compared to their 2020 lows at the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. The end of April showed that these property searches have rebounded by 54%.

Combined with historically low interest rates, homebuyers see a potential for a great deal – inventory still, however, being a hindrance when it comes to the real estate market.

Check out LendingTree’s infographic, here:

For more real estate news, stop by Alliance Title’s Blog.

Real Estate Tip of the Week: Productivity While Working from Home

A lot of us are still working from home – or are at least having some hybrid combination of being out in the field. But with COVID-19 still a major factor in how we operate in our daily life, it’s important to work within its boundaries.

It can be hard to consistently work from home; maybe you don’t have access to the same tools or networks that you had when you were in the office, or maybe you have extra distractions while you try and participate in a zoom meeting while in the kitchen. However you have it, working from home is a whole different ballgame! Here are our tips for you on how to stay active and productive during these weird times.

Never Stop Learning

Take the time to read articles on the current state of the market and in the neighborhoods and towns you work in. Your brokerage might still be holding continuing education courses through an online portal (zoom being one example), so be sure you’re staying relevant and are continuing your trainings.

Update Your Accounts

Have you been wanting to revamp your social networking sites, but just haven’t had the time? Here’s your opportunity! Update your social media accounts – Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc. – and comment, like, tag, share posts you find relevant and interesting. This can also be a great way to reconnect with past clients and check in on how they’ve been doing.

Continue Networking – Just Virtually

Set up virtual calls with your coworkers, agents you admire and follow on social media platforms, and with potential (or current!) clients. Check out our previous real estate tip of the week article on how to prepare for those virtual meetings.

The quarantine won’t last forever, but until then, it’s best to keep yourself active and motivated to continue running your successful business. We’re all in this together!

For more real estate tips, check out Alliance Title’s Blog here.

Helping Our Communities

With COVID-19 bringing uncertain times for many, Alliance Title & Escrow, under the parent company of Futura Title & Escrow Corp., made sizeable donations to various local charities in the communities they live and work in. Futura Title’s brands donated a total of $67,400 (equivalent to $100 per company employee) to various charities across the Pacific Northwest. 

Alliance Title’s branches donated to the charities that were close to their hearts and who continuously aid in their communities.

With all of the branches throughout Idaho donating to their charities, Alliance Title was able to contribute a grand total of $26,400!

Alliance Title strives to continuously aid in the communities we live and work in. We are greatly inspired by all of the wonderful and generous community members who have stepped up and helped others during this difficult time – and we want to encourage the same.

Charities donated to by Alliance Title branch:

  • Blackfoot – Bingham Crisis Center
  • Boise – Women’s & Children’s Alliance
  • Clarkston – Twin County United Way – Health Division
  • Coeur d’Alene – Newby-ginnings of Idaho
  • Corporate – Idaho Food Bank & Veteran’s Hospital
  • CTS – Idaho Food Bank
  • Driggs – Seniors West of the Tetons
  • Emmett – Emmett Valley Friendship Coalition
  • Idaho Falls – Habitat for Humanity & Community Food Basket
  • Kalispell – Funding Families with Type 1 Diabetes
  • Lewiston – The Gina Quesenberry Foundation
  • Mountain Home – Three Island Senior Citizens Center, Inc.
  • Nampa – Canyon County Meals on Wheels
  • Pocatello – Idaho Food Bank
  • Rexburg – Case Appointed Special Advocates for Children
  • Rigby – Rigby Senior Citizens Center
  • Salmon – Lemhi After School Promise
  • Sandpoint – Bonner Community Food Bank
  • Soda Springs – Idaho Food Bank
  • Twin Falls – Light of Hope Food Pantry

Rethinking 2020: Real Estate Changes with COVID-19

Spring and summer 2020 looked to be quite the year for real estate – it was predicted to be one of the biggest years in sales in decades. However, with COVID-19 changing much about how things are operated, the 2020 year for real estate has adjusted.

COVID-19 halted many potential homebuyers and sellers. However, it is predicted that home sales will jump in late summer/early fall as Millennials make the jump to own homes.

Homes are still currently being bought and sold, just at a slower pace. The medium price for a home is expected to hold steady, rising just 1.1% in 2020 over the previous year. Chief Economist for Realtor.com, Danielle Hale, explains, “Were it not for COVID-19, we probably would have seen prices rise in the 2-4% range.

But buyers shouldn’t worry. Mortgage rates are expected to stay in record lows, hovering around 3.2%. Some lenders, however, might require larger down payments and higher credit scores due to the large amount of unemployment grappling the country.

Real estate has always been adaptable – with many safety measures in place to ensure the safety of employees and clients, home buying and selling is still accessible. And with many people rethinking their living spaces, it might drive homebuyers towards suburbs. Hale continues, “The experience of being at home for a long period of time has everyone rethinking their priorities. People are recognizing space is more important, so they’re looking for more affordable areas where they can have more space at the same price.”

To keep up with current real estate news, subscribe to Alliance Title’s Blog.

Real Estate Tip of the Week: Security Protocol While Working from Home

Like many, most of you are probably working away from the office – either from a desktop or a laptop. But while you’re at home, how can you keep your real estate business safe and secure?

Check out our tips below:

Antivirus Software

Double check that your computer has antivirus software that is up-to-date. Be sure it includes privacy tools, extensions on browsers, and any apps you use on your phone.

Network Password

Your home WIFI should be secured with a password – either established from the router when initially installed, or a new password you have changed and created. Make sure your internet is password protected.

Hyper Aware of Phishing Emails

Unfortunately, fraudsters would easily jump on an opportunity to scare agents and clients into sharing personal data with an email subject regarding COVID-19. Be wary of emails asking for a request in confirmation or a renewal – especially from emails you do not know or are asking you to click a link. Do NOT click links or open files from businesses that you don’t know.

Backup Files

Set a schedule to back up your files and data – if the unfortunate incident ever happens where a hacker has found their way into your system, all of your information will be lost.

Always, always, always think of you and your clients’ safety when it comes to working and interacting through technology. Protect your computer and secure your network!

For more real estate tips, stop by Alliance Title’s Blog.

Employee Spotlight – Suzanne Jellison

We have a new employee spotlight! Give a cheer for Suzanne Jellison!

Suzanne Jellison is a Title Officer for our Flathead County offices in Montana: Kalispell and Whitefish. Before becoming a Title Officer, she was an Escrow Officer for seven years – confirming that she is an incredibly experienced employee to have on our team! Alliance Title has been lucky enough to have had Suzanne on our team since 1984.

Of the Alliance Core Values, “Accountability” is Suzanne’s favorite. She explains, “I believe accountability is important not only in the work environment, but also in my personal life. It challenges me and pushes me to be the best person I can be.”

Suzanne loves the variety of her work and how each file is different – “All these years later, and I still run into situations that I have never seen before. I’m always learning something new. It’s almost like being a private eye.”

When she’s away from the office, Suzanne enjoys relaxing at home or taking leisurely strolls with her dogs. You can also find her spending time in the great outdoors and visiting the local national parks.

Suzanne’s favorite quote, “The secret to getting ahead is getting started,” by Mark Twain, is something she tries to live her life by.

Now that you’ve gotten to know Suzanne a little more, stop by Alliance Title’s Flathead County offices and write them in on your next transaction! Suzanne looks forward to helping make your home closing a simple and smooth experience.

Suzanne Jellison – Title Officer for Alliance Title’s Kalispell and Whitefish Branches
406.862.3094
suzanne.jellison@alliancetitle.com

The Pandemic Push – Millennial Homebuyers on the Rise

It’s true – millennial homebuyers have slowly been entering into the housing market. But even with current quarantine restrictions in place, it looks like millennials are more inclined to make the leap of purchasing.

According to Realtor Magazine, new-home transactions have reportedly doubled in the last two weeks. Are millennials tired of being renters in smaller apartments? Is COVID-19 accelerating reasons to move into a bigger space that they can call their own?

Ken Perlman and Lesley Deutch, principals at John Burns Real Estate Consulting, explain the recent uptick in home sales: “first-time buyers are most likely to be living in dense apartments that lack social distancing opportunities […]”.

The trend seems to follow along the same lines with young and growing families needing to upgrade their current homes. John Burns Real Estate Consulting estimates that this [home-upgrading] segment will push nearly 80% of household growth over the next few years.

Check out John Burns Real Estate Consulting infographic below:

Wanting more real estate news and trends? Check out Alliance Title’s Blog, here.

Mortgage Applications during COVID-19

How are homebuyers and sellers feeling during COVID-19?

America’s beginning stages of the pandemic pulled potential homebuyers away from the housing market – for many reasons. However, it seems as though the real estate market is venturing on a curve.

Realtor Magazine’s recent stats show mortgage applications rising 12%. This has been the first uptick in weeks – while applications are lower than they were a year ago (about 20%), the new rise in homebuyer interest shows that buyers are on their way back.

Interest rates are still floating near historical lows – the average rate for the 30-year fixed mortgage now sits pretty at 3.43% as of last week.

The real estate industry has been creatively adhering to social-distancing rules, which allow buyers and sellers to continue their transactions safely – and with the rise of mortgage applications, buyers and sellers are sure to see that.

For more real estate news, stop by Alliance Title’s Blog here.

Housing Preferences During COVID-19

People seem to be changing their ideas on what they love and don’t love about their homes – COVID-19 has definitely shaped the way clients view essential needs within their homes.

Nate Johnson, Chief Marketing Officer of realtor.com ®, explains, “After more than a month of stay-at-home orders, it’s safe to say American are really getting to know what home features work and don’t work for their families.”

Realtor.com ® then released a survey, showing what homeowners have come to enjoy about their homes, and what they wish to improve. Check out the results below:

What Homeowners Like Most

  • A quiet neighborhood – 13%
  • Outdoor space – 13%
  • Close proximity to grocery stores and pharmacies: 13%
  • Updated kitchen – 10%
  • Natural light – 9%
  • Flexible spaces for crafting, gaming, etc. – 6%

What Homeowners Wish to Improve

  • More space – 19%
  • Updated kitchen – 13%
  • Home gym – 11%
  • Update the style/aesthetics – 9%
  • More natural light – 9%
  • Add a yard or patio – 9%
  • Add a bathroom – 6%

While the world is still at a standstill, it might be a good time for home improvements! For more real estate news, stop by Alliance Title’s Blog.