The season’s air has become downright chilly, and soon we’ll be seeing snow flurries in many parts of the U.S. Coincidentally, the housing market may be cooling down, too, with trends emerging that will benefit buyers (finally!).
While data from Zillow confirms homes are pricey, with the average U.S. home valued at $348,539 as of Oct. 26, 2023, housing analysts at Morgan Stanley predict prices for homes will not gain ground during the final months of 2023 and could fall as much as 5% in 2024 if interest rates stay at their current level. In late October, the national average 30-year mortgage rate was 7.63% in the third week of October, according to Freddie Mac.
Steady interest rates and dipping home prices would be welcome news for buyers who may have been waiting on the sidelines for the market winds to shift. Since homes are already sitting an average of 83 days, according to Realtor.com, this may be the time to buy and negotiate with sellers facing declining home values and a dwindling number of buyers applying for mortgages to buy homes.
“We’re seeing sellers become more creative and willing to negotiate,” says Sara Hopson, an AAFMAA Mortgage Services LLC (AMS) Military Mortgage Advisor in Swansboro, North Carolina. Hopson spends her weekends at open houses meeting with local real estate agents and keeping tabs on how deals are progressing on both the sale and buying sides. “I’ve had four listing agents in just the past week contact me about seller concessions — and that’s probably just the tip of the iceberg as the market shifts,” she says.
With that in mind, here are three key concessions buyers should discuss with home sellers in 2024 before inking the deal.
1. Price Is Always Negotiable
Most sellers price their homes a bit higher than market value, knowing they may need to come down on the price to close the deal. Negotiating on price involves doing some research and will require some patience. “We’re seeing prices drop on local listings, especially if the seller needs to move right away and needs proceeds from the sale to buy a new home,” says Hopson.
If you’re working with a real estate agent (and we think that’s a good idea), they can help you understand the home’s worth based on the location, market sales activity, and recently sold homes about the same size, age, and condition (comps) to help you bid at a price that will entice the seller to counter or accept your offer.
After all, real estate agents are experts in local home markets and will have a realistic idea of what the home will sell for so you don’t overpay.
Related: 4 Tips for Working With a Real Estate Agent
2. Ask for a Faster Close
Many military buyers purchase homes from military sellers. Since some of these moves need to happen quickly, you may be able to ask for an expedited close if that benefits you. Of course, you should approach your lender first to see if they can fast-track your close. The decision will probably hinge on their staffing levels and volume of business at the time. Thirty days to close might be a typical target, but some lenders may agree to shave off additional days if possible.
“AMS is in the relationship-building business, so we’re very open to trying to help our buyers be in a strong position when they find the right home, and we’ll work with them to speed the close or handle it remotely so the deal is not held up unnecessarily,” Hopson says.
Related: It’s Homebuying (and PCS) Season… Are You Ready?
3. Buydown Your Interest Rate
Because the market is turning in favor of buyers, the temporary buydown is making a comeback as an incentive a seller can offer (but you’ll probably need to ask).
A temporary buydown involves having the seller pay a fee upfront to reduce the interest rate on your mortgage for a certain period, often one to three years, and then you’ll pay the “permanent” rate going forward.
With a temporary buydown, the money is placed in an escrow account to subsidize the payment. This may allow you to effectively pay less for the home than the listing price and lower the initial mortgage payments for a set time. “Sometimes it comes down to showing the seller that they’ll have to drop their price, say $10,000, or offer a buydown so they’re supplementing the buyer’s payments for a limited time,” explains Hopson. “We are seeing them opt for the buydown more and more frequently as interest rates stay near 7%.”
The borrower and seller or builder must execute the buydown agreement at closing before funding approval. The seller/builder pays a lump sum to the lender in the actual difference between the standard interest rate and the lowered rate.
Of course, property taxes, homeowners insurance and applicable mortgage insurance (PMI) must be paid by the borrower as part of the payment for the full 30-year loan term, including the buydown period.
We’re Here to Help
Whether you’re thinking about buying, ready to start home-shopping in earnest, or considering a refinance, an AMS Military Mortgage Advisor will be happy to provide you with an honest and fair comparison of your mortgage options, including a wide range of affordable mortgages designed to meet your needs.
Ensuring AAFMAA Members obtain the best mortgage possible is our mission. Get your free mortgage assessment today or give us a call at 844-422-3622!