The real estate and mortgage spaces are changing every day. From mortgage rates to housing prices, it can be difficult for home buyers and homeowners to stay up to speed on all that is happening. In an effort to help the entire industry, we worked hard to offer insight throughout 2019.

Whether you are in the market to buy a home in 2020, own a home or you’re a real estate agent, we’ve compiled the top news and insights from 2019. We expect even more change and developments in the space in 2020, but here are the most popular blog posts from 2019.

1. 7 ways real estate agents can help you

We’re a mortgage broker, but our role in the home buying process puts us right in the middle of the home buyer and the real estate agent that serves them. This gives us a unique view of the entire transaction, and over the years we have come to learn a lot about just how much real estate agents impact the process.

Buying and/or selling a home, especially for the first time, is an extremely nerve-wracking process. It is often the largest transaction any person makes, and therefore having the right team in place to represent your interests is important. But many don’t realize how important and beneficial it is for them to find a good real estate agent.

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2. If Your Mortgage Is Between $484,350 – $510,400 You Might Want to Refinance in 2020

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) is responsible for setting “conforming loan limits” which is simply a ceiling that the government agency sets when it comes to the size of loans they will purchase or guarantee. In other words, it is the maximum size of a home mortgage that the government will back.

The news from last week is that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are raising loan limits to more than $510,000, which is up over $25,000 compared to the 2019 loan limit of $484,350. The increase is a result of rising home prices which on average went up 5.38% between the third quarter of 2018 and the third quarter of 2019. This is why the conforming loan limit will increase by the same percentage in 2020.

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3. Homes in Oakland County Are Over 33% More Affordable Today vs. 2012

When it comes to purchasing a home or investing in real estate, market fluctuations have a major impact on how affordable a given property is. Drivers of this affordability include median income, home prices, interest rates, wage growth, jobs and more. When looking at the Oakland County market, homes are much more affordable today than in previous years.

According to data from MBS Highway, Oakland County homes are over 33% more affordable today than they were in 2012. The “Affordability Index” brings together various data points to determine how affordable it is to purchase a home in a particular market. Given strong job performance, wage growth and a number of other factors, Oakland County residents are in a good position to buy.

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4. How New Lawsuit Targeting Real Estate Commissions Mirrors Mortgage Regulations from 2008

You may or may not be aware of a class-action lawsuit filed in Chicago that could change the way real estate agents are paid commissions. The suit was filed back in March on behalf of anyone that sold a home in the last five years through some of the biggest listing services in the country.

Included in the “real-estate agent broker commissions antitrust” lawsuit are the National Association of Realtors, Realogy Holdings Corp., Home Services of America Inc., RE/MAX Holdings Inc., and Keller Williams Realty Inc. What is really surprising is the limited amount of discussion taking place in the realtor community.

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5. The Price You Pay When Waiting to Buy Your Next Home

From mortgage rates to the current real estate market conditions, the real estate market is always changing from day to day. If you’re trying to coordinate the “perfect” timing of your next home purchase, you’re certain to get frustrated, because market fluctuations happen on the regular.

In addition, many home buyers enter the process with the notion that they could always “wait it out” when it comes to shifts in the market. However, the reality is, markets generally tend to appreciate over time, meaning property values are more likely to rise, partly with inflation, but also partly with the health of the economy.

But what exactly is the cost of waiting? In some cases, it is the difference of $30,000 or more over the lifetime of the loan. That’s the equivalent of a brand-new car.

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