Recent Articles by Steve Cook

Horses racing neck-in-neck January market reports: Inventories are down to the wire

January market reports: Inventories are down to the wire

January is the month when real estate markets traditionally take a breather to restock their shelves for the spring season. In the final quarter of 2016, record demand powered by concern over mortgage interest rates and rising prices encouraged buyer...
By Steve Cook | Monday, March 13, 2017
A man holding a compass in his hand Will 2017 be the year sales turn south? 4 ways to anticipate the markets

Will 2017 be the year sales turn south? 4 ways to anticipate the markets

There are good reasons for having short expectations for sales this year. The multi-year honeymoon of mortgage rates consistently south of 4 percent are clearly over ......
By Steve Cook | Wednesday, March 8, 2017
A blockade along the ocean Renters want to be owners, surveys find — is affordability the blockade?

Renters want to be owners, surveys find — is affordability the blockade?

“If wishes were horses, even beggars would ride,” goes the old English nursery rhyme. Is that what’s going on today when surveys seem to indicate a powerful desire among renters to become homeowners, yet sales are starting to flatten out ......
By Steve Cook | Monday, February 27, 2017
Are local sales softening? 6 signs to watch for

Are local sales softening? 6 signs to watch for

Last year was not a great one for the housing economists who forecast home sales ......
By Steve Cook | Thursday, February 23, 2017
Two kids on a see saw. Will rental homes depress new home sales in 2017?

Will rental homes depress new home sales in 2017?

Over the past three years, new homes have been on fire, increasing every year. Last year they were up 12.2 percent over 2015 and reached the highest annual total since 2006. With every sales increase, new homes are helping to fill the inventory defic...
By Steve Cook | Wednesday, February 15, 2017
December’s numbers are in: How’s the real estate market looking?

December’s numbers are in: How’s the real estate market looking?

December’s data from six of the nation’s leading monthly market reports paint a picture of extraordinary demand that has made inadequate supplies of homes for sale even more dangerous by driving up prices above sustainable levels in some markets ...
By Steve Cook | Tuesday, January 31, 2017
A father welcoming his son with open arms The return of the prodigal single-family rentals

The return of the prodigal single-family rentals

It’s no secret that inadequate inventories have been stunting the housing recovery. Through November, total housing inventory has fallen year-over-year for 18 straight months and supplies are now 11.4 percent lower than they were two years ago ......
By Steve Cook | Tuesday, January 3, 2017
A mortgage application on a computer screen How to get your buyer’s offer (or counter-offer) accepted

How to get your buyer’s offer (or counter-offer) accepted

These days, when lenders compete on the speed of their pre-approvals, not all pre-approvals are created equal -- especially when it comes to documenting income. Pay stubs and W2s once were considered sufficient proof of income, but now tax returns ha...
By Steve Cook | Wednesday, December 28, 2016
A credit report with a low score Why Trump’s administration could mean better days for marginal buyers

Why Trump’s administration could mean better days for marginal buyers

For an administration sworn to diminish the role of government, housing is a good place to start. Changes in store on two fronts -- privatization of Fannie and Freddie and repeal or major reform of Dodd-Frank regulations -- will make it easier for mi...
By Steve Cook | Tuesday, December 13, 2016
Why home sales aren’t as good as we think they are

Why home sales aren’t as good as we think they are

In real estate, we usually measure progress by comparing today’s data to the past peaks and valleys. Although year-over-year numbers provide a useful frame of reference, they tell only part of the story. What’s more important is knowing how well ...
By Steve Cook | Thursday, December 1, 2016
3 ways to lose a home mortgage loan

3 ways to lose a home mortgage loan

It’s a heady feeling to receive a formal letter advising you that you’ve been prequalified for more money than you’ve ever seen in your life. However, many buyers forget the “pre” part of pre-approval. Much can happen between prequalificati...
By Steve Cook | Monday, September 12, 2016
What ever happened to 'skin in the game'?

What ever happened to 'skin in the game'?

Seven years ago, the Wall Street maxim, having “skin in the game,” became a popular explanation for the devastation of the America’s system of housing finance. Following the subprime meltdown and the beginning of a wave of foreclosures that wou...
By Steve Cook | Monday, August 22, 2016
The 20% fallacy: Why you do NOT need 20% down — or do you?

The 20% fallacy: Why you do NOT need 20% down — or do you?

One of the most persistent myths still making its rounds is that you need 20 percent down to get a mortgage. In fact, you have not needed 20 percent down since FHA went into business in 1934. In recent years, as lender scramble for millennial borrowe...
By Steve Cook | Monday, July 11, 2016
How CIOs can ‘future-proof’ brokerages

How CIOs can ‘future-proof’ brokerages

In today’s world of fast-changing real estate technology, it’s the role of chief information officers (CIO) to find opportunities for their brokerages in emerging trends such as cloud servers, software defined networks and open APIs or be left in...
By Steve Cook | Wednesday, June 15, 2016
5 good reasons not to freak out over higher interest rates

5 good reasons not to freak out over higher interest rates

One of strongest drivers of demand in today’s housing markets is buyers’ fear that interest rates will rise, and they will never again see rates as low as they are today. That’s one reason the first-time buyer volume of government-guaranteed mo...
By Steve Cook | Wednesday, June 8, 2016
Why interest rates are going to rise

Why interest rates are going to rise

Why are leading housing economists such as Sean Becketti of Freddie Mac, Mike Fratantoni of the Mortgage Bankers Association and National Association of Realtors' Lawrence Yun still worried about rates on the long term? Although Becketti has lowered ...
By Steve Cook | Thursday, May 26, 2016
Everything an agent needs to know to master market literacy

Everything an agent needs to know to master market literacy

Perhaps the most valuable lesson that real estate consumers learned from the housing crash was that home values can fall as well as rise. More than seven million families lost their homes to foreclosures and short sales; a brutal wake-up calls that t...
By Steve Cook | Tuesday, May 3, 2016
How to give millennials the low-down on low down payments

How to give millennials the low-down on low down payments

Today's millennial buyers are having more trouble assembling the cash for down payments than their older siblings and parents because they have higher levels of student loan debt and lower levels of wealth and personal income than their two immediate...
By Steve Cook | Monday, February 29, 2016