Homeowners across our region are enjoying very healthy equity levels due to an amazing upswing in the real estate market over the last five years. In fact, the median price in Whatcom County is up 59% over the last five years. This growth in equity has given homeowners the exciting option to sell their homes for a price that will bear a sizable down payment or the ability to “buy all-cash” on their next home. This has many people exploring their next chapters, such as moving up to a larger home or downsizing for retirement. The strong price appreciation is great news and provides many opportunities; however, we have also faced some challenges in how to make these transitions work without moving twice.
Our biggest challenge for homebuyers in the marketplace right now is inventory levels. It is also the reason so many home sellers are doing so well. Currently, Whatcom County sits at 1 month of inventory based on pending sales. Historically, buyers that are also sellers would commonly secure a new home with a home sale contingency on the sale of their current home. Meaning the seller of the new home they are buying would give them a month or so to get their current house sold in order to be able to buy theirs.
Well in this market, utilizing a home sale contingency is only rarely an option, especially on desirable homes. So, the million-dollar question is this: how does one who has gained so much equity, now itching to get that bigger house, different location, or perfect rambler for settling into retirement, make this transition without having to move twice? We need to get creative and have a strategy. The Windermere Bridge Loan program has been a powerful tool to help homebuyers transition their equity without having to sell their house first.
This is an amazing tool for homeowners that own their homes free-and-clear or have gained a large amount of equity over time. This is also a low-cost and faster alternative to a cash-out re-fi or securing a HELOC which enables one to pull the equity out of their current house prior to selling it in order to make a non-contingent offer.
The way it works is we take the market value of the house the homeowner current lives in, established by a comparative market analysis (CMA) that I complete and is approved by my Broker. We then take 75% of the CMA value and subtract any debt owed, and that is the maximum amount the homeowner can borrow for their next down payment. For example, if the market value is $700,000: 75% of $700,000 is $525,000. Say the homeowner owes a remaining $225,000 on their mortgage; the max amount they could borrow would be $525,000 – $225,000 = $300,000. If that same homeowner didn’t have a mortgage then they could borrow up to $525,000 as that is 75% of the CMA value.
This tool enables people to make transitions without having to sell their home first, attempt a home-sale-contingent offer, or go through the lengthy and expensive process of a cash-out re-fi or securing a HELOC. What makes this tool so efficient, is that it doesn’t require an appraisal (like a re-fi or HELOC does), and these can easily be turned around in 5-7 business days. This tool provides the opportunity to quickly and inexpensively pull your equity out, be competitive, and eliminates the double move.
The fees associated with this program are a 1% loan fee on the loan amount (minimum fee of $1,000), a title report, credit report, recording fees for the deed, and interest that is incurred between the loan funding and being paid off once the subject home is sold. That interest is conveniently wrapped up in the closing costs when the client closes the sale of the collateral home, eliminating the need to make monthly interest payments. Clients who use this program are also required to list the home 30 days after the loan has funded. This allows time for the client to prepare their home for sale after they have moved out. Lastly, only homes in Washington state are eligible to be the collateral property, but note this can be a tool for relocating out-of-state which we are seeing a lot of.
In a strategy that is somewhat mind-blowing, we can sometimes use these bridge loans and never have to actually fund them. For example, if we secure a property non-contingent with the bridge loan and immediately get the subject home on the market, we can often secure a sale with a simultaneous closing, and never have to fund the loan. This eliminates the loan fee, interest, and the need to carry two mortgages. All this requires is getting pre-approved for the bridge loan and preparing the home for sale prior to shopping, so one is prepared to act quickly and line up both closings.
If you are excited about equity levels and today’s low interest rates and have thought about making that move you’ve been waiting for, but have been fearful of how to do it all – I can help. The Windermere Bridge Loan, along with great attention to detail, hand-holding, and careful planning have helped many people make these exciting transitions. It is my goal to help keep my clients informed and empower strong decisions. Please contact me if you would like further information on how this might work for you or someone you know.