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Pending Home Sales

A “sale pending” sign is posted on a home in Westfield, Ind., on Sept. 25, 2020. Loan officers say now is a good time to refinance or sell a home because of low mortgage rates and the number of people looking to buy.

HUNTINGTON — Now is a good time to refinance or sell a home because of low mortgage rates and the number of people looking to buy, according to local loan officers.

“I think most of those in real estate would agree that other than the initial period of transitioning, it’s been extremely busy and record setting,” said Brad Blaine (NMLS No. 1654603), a loan officer with Victorian Finance. “Interest rates are still in historic lows. People have more money saved up for home purchases than they have had for years. Home appreciation has been outpacing inflation. It was and remains a tremendous opportunity to purchase a home.”

While COVID-19 is not the only reason the housing market has seen good rates for buyers and sellers in the past year, Blaine said the coronavirus did not negatively impact the housing market.

Aaron Perkins (NMLS No. 474338), a mortgage loan officer at Movement Mortgage, said there are many factors going into how mortgage rates are determined, but prior to COVID-19, mortgage rates were beginning to drop and continued to stay low throughout the pandemic.

It appears that people staying home may have had an effect on homeowners who chose to refinance or sell, he said, and people saving more money on their homes can lead to more money being spent in the local economy.

“I don’t know if it’s just been where people were forced home to work and decided they didn’t like their house, or wanted to move, or anything really,” Perkins said. “And I’m not an economist, but it is allowing people to better themselves. If they are refinancing, they’re saving monthly money that they can put back into the economy.”

Refinancing a home, Perkins said, means reassessing the terms of a loan used to buy a home. After refinancing, individuals could end up paying less for mortgage payments each month, saving them money.

While mortgage rates are somewhat affected by the local economy, they can also be based off credit scores, how much money an individual is able to pay each month and other factors that bankers and loan officers review before paperwork is finished.

While other industries were affected by the need to close or transition to virtual services, some Realtors and banks had already been offering those opportunities before COVID-19 hit.

There are online websites that can assist those looking to buy, sell or refinance a home, such as Rocket Mortgage, Quicken Loans and more, but Sean Fuellhart (NMLS No. 604670), a mortgage sales manager with City National Bank, said working with local industries is great because individuals work with people who know the area.

“If someone is looking for homes and looking at the market, I think it’s super important to get with a local Realtor and local bank,” he said. “We have so many great local Realtors, and I think working with them can be great because they really assist with the process. Along with your local lender, a local Realtor can do wonders for you.”

Local offices such as some United Bank and City National Bank locations are offering in-person appointments to discuss refinancing, buying or selling a home. Fuellhart said they are also offering online and telephone assistance, and the difference is based on what individuals prefer.

“Some people are more apt to come in because they want to see someone face-to-face, which is OK because this is a very large, emotional transaction. It can be nerve-racking for people because they don’t necessarily know what they are doing sometimes, but it is a much more comforting thing for some people to be face-to-face,” he said.

“Others, we communicate (with) via email, or I have even conferenced people in. Email and those transactions are fine. Now with e-sign, you can do a mortgage without even going to the bank. Some people are great with virtual, but others prefer the face-to-face interaction.”

Virtual services can also be beneficial for those still concerned about COVID-19 safety precautions, but locations are continuing to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines when people do want to discuss this financial decision in person.

Blaine, Perkins and Fuellhart said an important step for people interested in refinancing, buying or selling a house is to learn about their financial situation before jumping into the big situation. It is best to understand how much people are able to pay because with how the housing market is now, individuals may have better options than in recent years.

Fuellhart said the main thing that could be considered negative is that because so many people bought houses in 2020, there is limited inventory in 2021. While this could change as the year goes on, he said it could be a great time for anyone considering selling their house because so many people are looking.

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