By Jeff Havener, President AAFMAA Mortgage Services (AMS) LLC
With interest rates still near historic lows, many buyers hoped 2021 would be the year they became homeowners. However, several trends made homebuying a difficult decision:
- Home prices continued to rise. In October 2021, the median listing price was $380,000, 9% higher than October 2020 and 22% higher than October 2019, according to Realtor.com.
- Fewer homes were available. About half of what was available in 2020 was available this year, according to Altos Research, a firm that tracks market data.
- Listings sold really fast. Homes that were available sold quickly, often in hours. In each month, from March through October 2021, the typical U.S. home spent fewer days on the market than in the fastest-selling months from 2016-2020, according to Realtor.com.
- Buyers paid over asking price. More than half of the homes sold in 2021 — 51% — sold above the asking price, according to real estate brokerage Redfin. That’s up from 26% in 2020.
If you shopped for a home last year, none of the above probably surprises you.
AAFMAA Members faced challenges like these, and more, and we’re proud to say we were with them at every step, from their pre-approval to delivering completed loan documents to the closing table.
As we look back at 2021, we want to share a few highlights about our Members who bought or refinanced with AMS this year:
- Seung “Jeremy” Park, a 31-year-old Army supply technician, worked with Military Mortgage Advisor (MMA) Beth Dozier (sometimes very late at night) to purchase his first home while still deployed overseas.
- Jackie Iverson, a retired Army specialist, worked with MMA Scott Betz to improve her credit score to buy her first home with a zero-down VA Home Loan at 2.875%.
- Rudy Carter, a 23-year Army Veteran, refinanced with the help of MMA Colton Hahn to lower his interest rate to 2.75% (saving $1,300/month). He and wife Kimberly wrote to us about how impressed they were with AMS’s service levels and that we closed their new loan in just 19 days.
The 2022 Housing Market
Last year we worked with hundreds of our Members who wondered if it was the right time to buy or refinance their home. In doing so, some trends emerged that we think will continue well into 2022.
First, military homebuyers and homeowners love VA Loans. Although AMS carries other mortgage products (FHA Loans, conventional loans, and proprietary construction loans), VA Home Loans make up more than 90% of our business.
Why? VA Home Loans offer competitive rates, plus, they don’t require a down payment or purchasing private mortgage insurance (PMI). Both factors help a lot of our first-time buyers get into homes.
Second, we’ve noticed that many Members (and some of our own staff) are buying near a base where they formerly served, such as Camp Lejeune or Fort Liberty (formerly Fort Bragg), to take advantage of affordable housing markets and to live in a supportive military community.
We’re all for that and have been expanding in many of the same areas and for the same reasons. “Being a Veteran does give me a leg up in talking and working with our Members,” explains MMA Charles Skinner.
“Sometimes they’ll ask if I make a commission on my sales (which I do). If all other things are equal, like the interest rate and fees, a Veteran most likely will choose to do business with another Veteran. That’s just how it is.”
We’re Here to Help
As AAFMAA enters its 143rd year in business, we have a pretty good handle on where things have been, and where they’re likely to go.
We foresee that 2022 will be another solid growth year for the housing market and for AMS. While interest rates may tick higher, inventory should increase slightly to become more aligned with demand. In other words, as a homebuyer you may face less competition. But don’t try to “time the market.” If you’re interested in buying or refinancing, talk to an AMS Military Mortgage Advisor sooner rather than later. If the time is right for you, we’ll help guide you step by step.
To that end, we’ve been busy fully staffing our branch offices and rolling out new technology that will improve how we process your loan and communicate with you in 2022.
As always, our goal is to continually improve our services and better serve the needs of our Members.
Happy holidays from our family to yours. My team and I look forward to serving you in the New Year and for many years to come.