August 17, 2021
What Does Being in a Sellers’ Market Mean?
Whether or not you’ve been following the real estate industry lately, there’s a good chance you’ve heard we’re in a serious sellers’ market. But what does that really mean? And why are conditions today so good for people who want to list their house?
It starts with the number of houses available for sale. The latest Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows housing supply is still astonishingly low. Today, we have a 2.6-month supply of homes at the current sales pace. Historically, a 6-month supply is necessary for a ‘normal’ or ‘neutral’ market in which there are enough homes available for active buyers (see graph below):When the supply of houses for sale is as low as it is right now, it’s much harder for buyers to find homes to purchase. That creates increased competition among purchasers which leads to more bidding wars. And if buyers know they may be entering a bidding war, they’re going to do their best to submit a very attractive offer. As this happens, home prices rise, and sellers are in the best position to negotiate deals that meet their ideal terms.
Right now, there are many buyers who are ready, willing, and able to purchase a home. Low mortgage rates and the ongoing rise in remote work have prompted buyers to think differently about where they live – and they’re taking action. If you put your house on the market while supply is still low, it will likely get a lot of attention from competitive buyers.
Today’s ultimate sellers’ market holds great opportunities for homeowners ready to make a move. Listing your house now will maximize your exposure to serious buyers who will actively compete against each other to purchase it. Let’s connect to discuss how to jumpstart the selling process.
August 16, 2021
A Look at Home Price Appreciation and What It Means for Sellers
When you hear the phrase home price appreciation, what does it mean to you? Through context clues alone, chances are you know it has to do with rising home prices. And as a seller, you know rising home prices are good news for your potential sale. But let’s look past the dollar signs and dive deeper into the concept. To truly understand home price appreciation, you need to know how it works and why it matters to you.
Investopedia defines appreciation like this:
“Appreciation, in general terms, is an increase in the value of an asset over time. The increase can occur for a number of reasons, including increased demand or weakening supply, or as a result of changes in inflation or interest rates. This is the opposite of depreciation, which is a decrease in value over time.”
When we consider this definition and how it applies to real estate, a few words stick out: supply and demand. In today’s real estate market, we’re experiencing high buyer demand and very few sellers listing their homes for sale (see maps below):No matter the industry, anytime there’s more demand than supply, prices naturally rise. It happens because buyers are willing to pay more to secure the scarce product or service they’re looking for. That’s exactly what’s happening in today’s real estate market. Buyers are competing with one another to purchase a home, leading to bidding wars that drive prices up. For sellers, the rising prices mean that opportunity is knocking.
According to Quicken Loans, the national average home price appreciation rate is between 3-5% in a typical year. Today, home prices are appreciating well beyond the norm thanks to high demand. Here are the latest expert projections on the rate of home price appreciation for this year (see chart below):
Compared to the normal pace of 3-5% appreciation per year, the current average forecast of nearly 11.5% is significant.
For sellers, this means that with the current rise in prices, your house may be worth more than you realize. That price appreciation helps give your equity a boost. Equity is the difference between what you owe on the home and its market value based on factors like price appreciation. It works like this (see chart below):You can use your built-up equity to power a move into your dream home, or you can put it toward life-changing goals like funding an education or opening a business.
But don’t wait. While price appreciation is strong now, those same experts say it’ll start to appreciate at a more normalized pace next year. If you list your house sooner rather than later, you’ll be in a better position to capitalize on the higher-than-average home price appreciation we’re seeing today.
If you’re thinking of selling your house, there really is no time like the present. Let’s connect so you can get an expert market analysis of your home and its potential.
August 12, 2021
The Best Use of Time (and Money) When It Comes to Renovations
In the current sellers’ market, many homeowners wonder what, if anything, needs to be remodeled before they list their house. That’s where a trusted real estate professional comes in. They can help you think through today’s market conditions and how they impact what you should – and shouldn’t – renovate before selling.
Here are some considerations a professional will guide you through:
1. With current supply challenges, buyers may be willing to take on projects of their own.
A more balanced market typically sees a 6-month supply of homes for sale. Above that, and we’re in a buyers’ market. Below that, and we’re in a sellers’ market. According to a recent report by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), our current supply of homes for sale, while rising, still remains solidly in sellers’ market territory:
“Unsold inventory sits at a 2.6-month supply at the current sales pace, modestly up from May's 2.5-month supply but down from 3.9 months in June 2020.”
So, what’s that mean for you? If you’re a seller trying to decide whether or not to renovate, this is especially important because it’s indicative of buyer behavior. When there aren’t enough homes for sale, buyers may be more willing to purchase a home that doesn’t meet all their needs and renovate it themselves later.
2. Not all renovation projects are equal.
You don’t want to spend time and money on a project that isn’t worth the cost or is too niche design-wise for some homebuyers. According to an article by Renofi.com, basing home updates on what’s trendy right now can be a costly mistake:
“The last thing you as a homeowner want to do is center your home design around a passing fad - even worse, one thats design quality won’t last a good while.”
Before making any decisions, talk to your real estate advisor. They have insight into what other sellers are doing before listing their homes and how buyers are reacting to those upgrades. Don’t spend the time and money to be trendy – if your buyer wants to upgrade to the newest fad later, they can.
3. If you’ve already made upgrades this past year, your agent can help spotlight them.
If you have already completed some renovations on your house, you’re not alone. The pandemic kept people at home last year, and during that time, many homeowners completed some home improvement projects. HomeAdvisor’s 2021 State of Home Spending Report found:
“35% of households that completed an improvement project undertook some type of interior painting, while 31% completed a bathroom remodel and 26% installed new flooring.”
Let your real estate professional know if you fall in this category. They can highlight any recent upgrades you’ve made in your house’s listing.
When it comes to renovations, your return-on-investment should be top of mind. Let’s connect today to talk through any upgrades you’ve already made and to find out what you should prioritize before you sell to maximize your house’s potential.
August 11, 2021
Are Houses Less Affordable Than They Were in Past Decades?
There are many headlines about how housing affordability is declining. The headlines are correct: it’s less affordable to purchase a home today than it was a year ago. However, it’s important to give this trend context. Is it less expensive to buy a house today than it was in 2005? What about 1995? What happens if we go all the way back to 1985? Or even 1975?
Obviously, the price of a home has appreciated dramatically over the last 45 years. So have the prices of milk, bread, and just about every other consumable. Prices rise over time – we know it as inflation.
However, when we look at housing, price is just one component that makes up the monthly cost of the home. Another key factor is the mortgage rate at the time of purchase.
Let’s look back at the cost of a home over the last five decades and adjust it for inflation by converting that cost to 2021 dollars. Here’s the methodology for each data point of the table below:
- Mortgage Amount: Take the median sales price at the end of the second quarter of each year as reported by the Fed and assume that the buyer made a 10% down payment.
- Mortgage Rate: Look at the monthly 30-year fixed rate for June of that year as reported by Freddie Mac.
- P&I: Use a mortgage calculator to determine the monthly principal and interest on the loan.
- In 2021 Dollars: Use an inflation calculator to determine what each payment would be when adjusted for inflation. Green means the homes were less expensive than today. Red means they were more expensive.
As the chart shows, when adjusted for inflation, there were only two times in the last 45 years that it was less expensive to own a home than it is today.
- Last year: Prices saw strong appreciation over the last year and mortgage rates have remained relatively flat. Therefore, affordability weakened.
- 2010: Home values plummeted after the housing crash 15 years ago. One-third of all sales were distressed properties (foreclosures or short sales). They sold at major discounts and negatively impacted the value of surrounding homes – of course homes were more affordable then.
At every other point, even in 1975, it was more expensive to buy a home than it is today.
If you want to buy a home, don’t let the headlines about affordability discourage you. You can’t get the deal your friend got last year, but you will get a better deal than your parents did 20 years ago and your grandparents did 40 years ago.
August 9, 20121
The Community and Economic Impacts of a Home Sale
If you’re thinking of buying or selling a house, chances are you’re focusing on the many extraordinary ways it’ll change your life. What you may not realize is that decision impacts people’s lives far beyond your own. Home purchases and sales are significant drivers of economic activity. They have a major impact on your community and the entire U.S. economy via the multiple industries and professionals that take part in the process.
The National Association of Realtors (NAR) releases a report each year that highlights just how much economic activity a home sale generates. The chart below shows how the sale of both a newly built home and an existing home impact the economy:To dive a level deeper, NAR also provides a detailed look at how that varies state-by-state for newly-built homes (see map below):As you can see, a single home sale can have a massive effect on the overall economy. Ali Wolf, Chief Economist for Zonda, talks about this in a recent article, noting there’s a significant impact at each distinct phase of the transaction:
“The housing market contributes to the economy in four main stages: during planning and land development, throughout the actual construction of the home, at the point of sale, and upon moving in.”
When you buy or sell a home, you’re leaving a lasting impression on the community at large in addition to fulfilling your own needs. That’s because each stage of the process involves numerous contractors, specialists, lawyers, town and city officials, and so many other professionals. Every individual you work with, from your trusted real estate advisor to the architects who design new homes, has their own team of professionals involved behind the scenes.
Homebuyers and sellers are economic drivers in their community and beyond. If you’re thinking of buying or selling, let’s connect today to start the process. It won’t just change your life; it’ll make a powerful impact on our entire community.
August 5, 2021
Surprising Shift Favors Homeowners: Buyers Now Prefer Existing Homes
In April, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) posted an article, Home Buyers’ Preferences Shift Towards New Construction, which reported:
“60% of people who were looking to buy a home in 2020 said they'd prefer new construction to an existing home.”
However, it seems buyers are now shifting their preferences back to existing homes.
The latest Consumer Confidence Survey reveals the percentage of Americans planning to buy a home in the next six months is virtually the same as it was back in March. However, the percentage that plan to buy a newly constructed home is lower for that same period.
NAHB confirms this sentiment in their latest Housing Trends Report. The organization explains that existing homes are now the top preference among today’s buyers. Here’s a breakdown of those findings:
Why the shift?
There are several reasons why buyer preference is shifting. Here are two that impact purchasers looking to move in now:
- The process may move faster. Builders may not be able to guarantee when the house will be complete and ready for move-in due to supply chain challenges with materials like lumber and appliances. If you buy an existing home, not only is it ready, it also likely has a refrigerator, range, and other necessary home appliances already.
- There are no unexpected costs during the buying process. With the price of land, labor, and lumber being so volatile, many builders are including an escalation clause in the price negotiation to cover rising expenses. With an existing home, the final price you will pay is negotiated upfront.
If you’re a homeowner looking to sell, your house is more attractive to a greater number of buyers as compared to earlier in the year. This might be the time for us to connect to discuss the possibility.
August 4, 2021
Sellers: Make Today’s Home Price Appreciation Work for You
Home prices continue to rise as we move through the summer, and that’s good news for sellers who are looking to maximize their home’s potential. If you’re on the fence about whether to list your house now or later, the question you should really ask is: will this price appreciation last?
Here’s what three leading industry experts have to say about what lies ahead:
Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist, National Association of Realtors (NAR):
“At a broad level, home prices are in no danger of a decline due to tight inventory conditions, but I do expect prices to appreciate at a slower pace by the end of the year.”
Selma Hepp, Deputy Chief Economist, CoreLogic:
“The imbalance between robust demand and dismal availability of for-sale homes has led to a continual bidding over asking prices, which reached record levels in recent months . . . . Nevertheless, with more new listings and new home construction, home price acceleration that has built momentum, and continues to reach new highs, will likely slow later this summer but remain in double digits.”
George Ratiu, Chief Economist, realtor.com:
“Many sellers are going to take advantage of higher prices. This summer is going to signal the move to the next chapter, and this will very much be the year they’re going to put their home on the market.”
What It Means for You:
The experts agree that the summer months give sellers a great opportunity to capitalize on today’s home prices. And while prices aren’t expected to depreciate, the rise in prices is forecast to moderate over the next few years. That means selling your house today could set you up for a bigger win.
Listen to the experts. If you’re ready to make a move, let’s connect to discuss selling your house sooner rather than later so you can take advantage of today’s home price appreciation before it moderates.
August 3, 2021
With Rents on the Rise – Is Now the Time To Buy?
According to recent data from realtor.com, median rental prices have reached their highest point ever recorded in many areas across the country. The report found rents rose by 8.1% from the same time last year. As it notes:
“Beyond simply recovering to pre-pandemic levels, rents across the country are surging. Typically, rents fluctuate less than 1% from month to month. In May and June, rents increased by 3.0% and 3.2% from each month to the next.”
If you’re a renter concerned about rising prices, now may be the time to consider purchasing a home.
Monthly Rents Are Higher Than Monthly Mortgage Payments
When you weigh your options of whether to buy a home or continue renting, how much you’ll pay each month is likely top of mind. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), monthly mortgage payments are rising, but they’re still significantly lower than the typical rental payment. NAR indicates the latest data on homes closed shows the median monthly mortgage payment is $1,204.
By contrast, the median national rent is $1,575 according to the most current data provided by realtor.com. In other words, buyers who recently purchased a home locked in a monthly payment that is, on average, $371 lower than what renters pay today (see graph below):
Rents Are Rising Sharply, and They Continue To Increase
The difference in monthly housing costs when comparing renting and homebuying today is significant, but many would-be homebuyers wonder about the future of rental prices. If we look to historical Census data as a reference, the median asking rent has risen consistently since 1988 (see graph below):The rise in rent over time clearly shows one of the major advantages homeownership has over renting: stable housing costs. Renters face increasing costs every year. When you purchase your home, your mortgage rate is locked in for 30 years, meaning your monthly payment stays the same over time. That gives you welcome peace of mind and predictability for many years ahead.
With rents continuing to rise across the country, renters should consider if now is the right time to buy. There are multiple benefits to buying sooner rather than later. Let’s discuss your options so you can make your most powerful decision.
August 2, 2021
Key Questions To Ask Yourself Before Buying a Home
Sometimes it can feel like everyone has advice when it comes to buying a home. While your friends and loved ones may have your best interests in mind, they may also be missing crucial information about today’s housing market that you need to make your best decision.
Before you decide whether you’re ready to buy a home, you should know how to answer these three questions.
1. What’s Going on with Home Prices?
Home prices are one factor that directly impacts how much it will cost to buy a home and how much you stand to gain as a homeowner when prices appreciate.
The graph below shows just how much experts are forecasting prices to rise this year:Continued price appreciation is great news for existing homeowners but can pose a significant challenge if you wait to buy. Using these forecasts, you can determine just how much waiting could cost you. If prices increase based on the average of all forecasts (12.46%), a median-priced home that cost $350,000 in January of 2021 will cost an additional $43,610 by the end of the year. What does this mean for you? Put simply, with home prices increasing, the longer you wait, the more it could cost you.
2. Are Today’s Low Mortgage Rates Going To Last?
Another significant factor that should inform your decision is mortgage interest rates. Today’s average rates remain close to record-lows. Much like prices, though, experts forecast rates will rise over the coming months, as the chart below shows:Your monthly mortgage payment can be significantly impacted by even the slightest increase in mortgage rates, which makes the overall cost of the home greater over time when you wait.
3. Why Is Homeownership Important to You?
The final question is a personal one. Before deciding, you’ll need to understand your motivation to buy a home and why homeownership is an important goal for you. The financial benefits of owning a home are often easier to account for than the many emotional ones.
The 2021 National Homeownership Market Survey shows that six of the nine reasons Americans value homeownership are because of how it impacts them on a personal, aspirational level. The survey says homeownership provides:
- A Sense of Accomplishment
- A Life Milestone
- A Stake in the Community
- Personal Pride
The National Housing & Financial Capability Survey from NeighborWorks America also highlights the emotional benefits of homeownership:Clearly, there’s a value to homeownership beyond the many great financial opportunities it provides. It gives homeowners a sense of pride, safety, security, and accomplishment – which impacts their lives and how they feel daily.
Homeownership is life-changing, and buying a home can positively impact you in so many ways. With any decision this big, it helps to have a trusted advisor by your side each step of the way. If you’re ready to begin your journey toward homeownership, let’s connect to discuss your options and begin your journey.
July 29, 2021
Home Sellers: There Is an Extra Way To Welcome Home Our Veterans
Some veterans are finding it difficult to obtain a home in today’s market. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR):
“Conventional conforming mortgages (mortgages that conform to guidelines set by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac), accounted for 74% of mortgages obtained by homebuyers in May 2021, an increase from about 65% during 2018 through 2019…The share of VA-guaranteed loans has also decreased to 7% in May 2021 from about 10% in past years.”
Recent data in the latest Origination Insight Report from Ellie Mae sheds light on the continuation of this trend. Below, we can see just how small of a share of total financing VA loans made up in June of 2021, according to that Ellie Mae report:The drop in VA loan usage can be attributed to the difficulties veterans continue to face when buying a home. The NAR article elaborates:
"It is extremely difficult for FHA/VA buyers to get accepted in a multiple offer situation. They are on the bottom of the hierarchy."
One contributing factor is that buyers with VA loans can’t waive certain contingencies. However, just because a certain contingency must be present for a particular buyer doesn’t mean that buyer’s offer shouldn’t be considered.
What Should Sellers Do To Help Create a Level Playing Field?
As a seller, it’s important to consider every offer in front of you regardless of loan type. If you’re selecting an offer because some contingencies are waived, keep in mind that it doesn’t always mean the offer is what’s best for you.
Buyers who can’t waive specific contingencies may adjust other terms in their offer to make it more appealing to sellers. This may depend on several factors, including their loan type and location, but a motivated buyer and their agent will do everything they can to present an offer that’s as appealing to you as possible.
Ultimately, you should make sure you take time to really understand the terms of their offer and see the big picture. Working with a driven buyer who’s motivated to purchase your house may provide a better opportunity for you to reach your overall best option and what’s most important to you.
If you’re ready to sell, let’s connect. Together, we can make sure you understand the terms of all offers so you can give each one fair consideration, including those buyers using a VA loan. Our veterans sacrifice so much for our country. They’ve earned our gratitude and should have the same opportunity to obtain the home of their dreams.
July 28, 2021
4 Reasons Why the End of Forbearance Will Not Lead to a Wave of Foreclosures
With forbearance plans about to come to an end, many are concerned the housing market will experience a wave of foreclosures like what happened after the housing bubble 15 years ago. Here are four reasons why that won’t happen.
1. There are fewer homeowners in trouble this time
After the last housing crash, about 9.3 million households lost their home to a foreclosure, short sale, or because they simply gave it back to the bank.
As stay-at-home orders were issued early last year, the overwhelming fear was the pandemic would decimate the housing industry in a similar way. Many experts projected 30% of all mortgage holders would enter the forbearance program. Only 8.5% actually did, and that number is now down to 3.5%.
As of last Friday, the total number of mortgages still in forbearance stood at 1,863,000. That’s definitely a large number, but nowhere near 9.3 million.
2. Most of the 1.86M in forbearance have enough equity to sell their home
Of the 1.86 million homeowners currently in forbearance, 87% have at least 10% equity in their homes. The 10% equity number is important because it enables homeowners to sell their houses and pay the related expenses instead of facing the hit on their credit that a foreclosure or short sale would create.
The remaining 13% might not all have the option to sell, so if the entire 13% of the 1.86M homes went into foreclosure, that would total 241,800 mortgages. To give that number context, here are the annual foreclosure numbers of the three years leading up to the pandemic:
- 2017: 314,220
- 2018: 279,040
- 2019: 277,520
The probable number of foreclosures coming out of the forbearance program is nowhere near the number of foreclosures coming out of the housing crash 15 years ago. The number does, however, draw a similar comparison to the three years prior to the pandemic.
3. The current market can absorb any listings coming to the market
When foreclosures hit the market in 2008, there was an excess supply of homes for sale. The situation is exactly the opposite today. In 2008, there was a 9-month supply of listings for sale. Today, that number stands at less than 3 months of inventory on the market.
As Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at the National Association of Realtors (NAR), explains when addressing potential foreclosures emerging from the forbearance program:
“Any foreclosure increases will likely be quickly absorbed by the market. It will not lead to any price declines.”
4. Those in power will do whatever is necessary to prevent a wave of foreclosures
Just last Friday, the White House released a fact sheet explaining how homeowners with government-backed mortgages will be given further options to enable them to keep their homes when exiting forbearance. Here are two examples mentioned in the release:
- “For homeowners who can resume their pre-pandemic monthly mortgage payment and where agencies have the authority, agencies will continue requiring mortgage servicers to offer options that allow borrowers to move missed payments to the end of the mortgage at no additional cost to the borrower.”
- “The new steps the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Department of Agriculture (USDA), and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) are announcing will aim to provide homeowners with a roughly 25% reduction in borrowers’ monthly principal and interest (P&I) payments to ensure they can afford to remain in their homes and build equity long-term. This brings options for homeowners with mortgages backed by HUD, USDA, and VA closer in alignment with options for homeowners with mortgages backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.”
When evaluating the four reasons above, it’s clear there won’t be a flood of foreclosures coming to the market as the forbearance program winds down.
As Ivy Zelman, founder of the major housing market analytical firm Zelman & Associates, notes:
“The likelihood of us having a foreclosure crisis again is about zero percent.”
July 27, 2021
A Look at Housing Supply and What It Means for Sellers
One of the hottest topics of conversation in today’s real estate market is the shortage of available homes. Simply put, there are many more potential buyers than there are homes for sale. As a seller, you’ve likely heard that low supply is good news for you. It means your house will get more attention, and likely, more offers. But as life begins to return to normal, you may be wondering if that’s something that will change.
While it may be tempting to blame the pandemic for the current inventory shortage, the pandemic can’t take all the credit. While it did make some sellers hold off on listing their houses over the past year, the truth is the low supply of homes was years in the making. Let’s take a look at the root cause and what the future holds to uncover why now is still a great time to sell.
Where Did the Shortage Come From?
It’s not just today’s high buyer demand. Our low supply goes hand-in-hand with the number of new homes built over the past decades. According to Sam Khater, VP and Chief Economist at Freddie Mac:
“The main driver of the housing shortfall has been the long-term decline in the construction of single-family homes.”
Data in a recent report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) tells the same story. New home construction has been lagging behind the norm for quite some time. Historically, builders completed an average of 1.5 million new housing units per year. However, since the housing bubble in 2008, the level of new home construction has fallen off (see graph below):The same NAR report elaborates on the impact of this below-average pace of construction:
“. . . the underbuilding gap in the U.S. totaled more than 5.5 million housing units in the last 20 years.”
“Looking ahead, in order to fill an underbuilding gap of approximately 5.5 million housing units during the next 10 years, while accounting for historical growth, new construction would need to accelerate to a pace that is well above the current trend, to more than 2 million housing units per year. . . .”
That means if we build even more new houses than the norm every year, it’ll still take a decade to close the underbuilding gap contributing to today’s supply-and-demand mix. Does that mean today’s ultimate sellers’ market is here to stay?
We’re already starting to see an increase in new home construction, which is great news. But newly built homes can’t bridge the supply gap we’re facing right now on their own. In the State of the Nation’s Housing 2021 Report, the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University (JCHS) says:
“…Although part of the answer to the nation’s housing shortage, new construction can only do so much to ease short-term supply constraints. To meet today’s strong demand, more existing single-family homes must come on the market.”
Early Indicators Show More Existing-Home Inventory Is on Its Way
When we look at existing homes, the latest reports signal that housing supply is growing gradually month-over-month. This uptick in existing homes for sale shows things are beginning to shift. Based on recent data, Odeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist at First American, has this to say:
“It looks like existing inventory is starting to inch up, which is good news for a housing market parched for more supply.”
Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at NAR, echoes that sentiment:
“As the inventory is beginning to pick up ever so modestly, we are still facing a housing shortage, but we may have turned a corner.”
So, what does all of this mean for you? Just because life is starting to return to normal, it doesn’t mean you missed out on the best time to sell. It’s not too late to take advantage of today’s sellers’ market and use rising equity and low interest rates to make your next move.
It’s still a great time to sell. Even though housing supply is starting to trend up, it’s still hovering near historic lows. Let’s connect to discuss how you can list your house now and use the inventory shortage to get the best possible terms for you.
July 26, 2021
3 Hot Topics in the Housing Market Right Now
If you’re a prospective buyer or seller, it’s important to understand the current real estate market conditions and how they affect you. The Counselors of Real Estate (CRE) just released its Top Ten Issues Affecting Real Estate report. Here are three hot topics from the list and how they impact today’s housing market.
Technology Acceleration and Innovation
The past year ushered in many changes to the real estate industry, especially when it comes to technology. The CRE report elaborates on this:
“Lockdown-driven changes in our work, in the economy, in social structures, and in our personal behavior have pushed our reluctance aside. The acceleration and adoption of technology during the pandemic has impacted everything, and real estate is no exception.”
For real estate, innovations like digital documentation, virtual tours, and video chat enable agents to connect with clients no matter their location. These options are ideal for prospective buyers and sellers who aren’t local to the area or those that need the added flexibility signing documents online or doing virtual tours provide. That’s why many trusted real estate advisors will continue to use these technologies moving forward to best serve their clients.
Remote Work and Mobility
Working from home became the reality for many individuals during the pandemic, and the latest list from the CRE identified remote work and mobility as an important influence on the real estate market. As the report notes:
“…the pandemic universally caused a movement away from urban cores, particularly for those with higher incomes who could afford to move and for lower-income individuals seeking lower costs of living. Most of these relocations remained within their original region—84%—and, while some are returning, it is unknown as to the permanence of these movements or whether they represent a true urban exodus.”
With the added mobility remote work offers, where people are moving and where they can ultimately purchase a home is less dependent on a physical office location. This newfound flexibility is giving remote workers the opportunity to move to more affordable areas and buy more home for their money.
Housing Supply and Affordability
Finally, the limited supply of houses for sale and the related affordability challenges also makes CRE’s list of key factors this year:
“According to the National Association of Realtors®, the state of America’s housing inventory is dire, with a chronic shortage of affordable and available homes needed to support the nation’s population.”
There is good news. Homes are still more affordable than they have been historically thanks to today’s low mortgage rates. And while housing supply is still low, we’re seeing steady increases in the number of homes coming to market, which gives hope to homebuyers. As the supply of homes for sale improves, buyers will have more options.
New technology, remote work, housing supply, and home affordability are key factors in the housing market right now for both buyers and sellers. If you want to better understand how these topics can impact you, let’s connect today.
July 22, 2021
Today’s Real Estate Market Explained Through 4 Key Trends
As we move into the second half of the year, one thing is clear: the current real estate market is one for the record books. The exact mix of conditions we have today creates opportunities for both buyers and sellers. Here’s a look at four key components that are shaping this unprecedented market.
A Shortage of Homes for Sale
Earlier this year, the number of homes available for sale fell to an all-time low. In recent months, however, inventory levels are starting to trend up. The latest Monthly Housing Market Trends Report from realtor.com says:
“In June, newly listed homes grew by 5.5% on a year-over-year basis, and by 10.9% on a month-over-month basis. Typically, fewer newly listed homes appear on the market in the month of June compared to May. This year, growth in new listings is continuing later into the summer season, a welcome sign for a tight housing market.”
This is good news for buyers who crave more options. But even though we’re experiencing small gains in the number of available homes for sale, inventory remains a challenge in most states. That’s why it’s still a sellers’ market, giving homeowners immense leverage when they decide to make a move.
Buyer Competition and Bidding Wars
Today’s ongoing low supply, coupled with high demand, creates a market characterized by high buyer competition and bidding wars. Buyers are going above and beyond to make sure their offer stands out from the crowd by offering over the asking price, all cash, or waiving some contingencies. The number of offers on the average house for sale broke records this year – and that’s great news for sellers.
The latest Confidence Index from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) says the average home for sale receives five offers (see graph below):For buyers, the best way to put a compelling offer together is by working with a local real estate professional. That agent can act as your trusted advisor on what terms are best for you and what’s most appealing to the seller.
Home Price Appreciation
The competition among buyers is driving prices up. Over the past year, we’ve seen home price appreciation rise across the country. According to the most recent Home Price Index (HPI) from CoreLogic, national home prices increased 15.4% year-over-year in May:
“The May 2021 HPI gain was up from the May 2020 gain of 4.2% and was the highest year-over-year gain since November 2005. Low mortgage rates and low for-sale inventory drove the increase in home prices.”
Rising home values are a big part of why real estate remains one of the top sought-after investments for Americans. For potential sellers, it also means it’s a great time to list your house to maximize the return on your investment.
A Rise in Home Values and Equity
The equity in a home doesn’t just grow when a homeowner pays their mortgage – it also grows as the home’s value appreciates. Thanks to the jump in price appreciation, homeowners across the country are seeing record-breaking gains in home equity. CoreLogic recently reported:
“…homeowners with mortgages (which account for roughly 62% of all properties) have seen their equity increase by 19.6% year over year, representing a collective equity gain of over $1.9 trillion, and an average gain of $33,400 per borrower, since the first quarter of 2020.”
That’s a major perk for households to leverage. Homeowners can use that equity to accomplish major life goals or move into their dream homes.
If you’re thinking about buying or selling, there’s no time like the present. Let’s connect to talk about how you can take advantage of the conditions we’re seeing today to meet your homeownership goals.
July 21, 2021
Remote Work Has Changed Our Home Needs. Is It Time for Your Home To Change, Too?
Over the past year, many homeowners realized what they need in a home is changing, especially with the rise in remote work. If you’re longing for a dedicated home office or a change in scenery, now may be the time to find the home that addresses your evolving needs.
Working from Home Isn’t a Passing Fad
Before the pandemic, only 21% of individuals worked from home. However, if you’ve recently discovered remote work is your new normal, you’re not alone.
A survey of hiring managers conducted by Statista and Upwork projects 37.5% of U.S. workers will work remotely in some capacity over the next 5 years (see chart below):
Working from Home Gives You More Flexibility and More Options
If you fall in that category, working from home may provide you with opportunities you didn’t realize you had. The ongoing rise in remote work means a portion of the workforce no longer needs to be tied to a specific area for their job. Instead, it gives those workers more flexibility when it comes to where they can live.
If you’re one of the nearly 23% of workers who will remain 100% remote, you have the option to move to a lower cost-of-living area or to the location of your dreams. If you search for a home in a more affordable area, you’ll be able to get more house for your money, freeing up more options for your dedicated office space and more breathing room. You could also move to an area you’ve always dreamed of vacationing in – somewhere near the beach, the mountains, or simply an area that features better weather and community amenities. Without your job tying you to a specific location, you’re bound to find your ideal spot.
If you’re one of the almost 15% of individuals who will have a partially remote or hybrid schedule, relocating within your local area to a home that’s further away from your office could be a great choice. Since you won’t be going into work every day, a slightly longer commute from a more suburban or rural area could be a worthy trade-off for a home with more features, space, or comforts. After all, if you’ll still be at home part-time, why not find a home that better suits your needs?
According to the latest Top Ten Issues Affecting Real Estate from The Counselors of Real Estate (CRE), many homebuyers are already taking advantage of their newfound flexibility:
“. . . after years of apparent but variant trends towards urbanization, the pandemic universally caused a movement away from urban cores, particularly for those with higher incomes who could afford to move and for lower-income individuals seeking lower costs of living.”
If you’ve found what you’re looking for in a home has changed due to remote work, it may be time to make a move. Let’s connect today to start prioritizing your home needs.
July 20, 2021
3 Charts That Show This Isn’t a Housing Bubble
With home prices continuing to deliver double-digit increases, some are concerned we’re in a housing bubble like the one in 2006. However, a closer look at the market data indicates this is nothing like 2006 for three major reasons.
1. The housing market isn’t driven by risky mortgage loans.
Back in 2006, nearly everyone could qualify for a loan. The Mortgage Credit Availability Index (MCAI) from the Mortgage Bankers’ Association is an indicator of the availability of mortgage money. The higher the index, the easier it is to obtain a mortgage. The MCAI more than doubled from 2004 (378) to 2006 (869). Today, the index stands at 130. As an example of the difference between today and 2006, let’s look at the volume of mortgages that originated when a buyer had less than a 620 credit score.Dr. Frank Nothaft, Chief Economist for CoreLogic, reiterates this point:
“There are marked differences in today’s run up in prices compared to 2005, which was a bubble fueled by risky loans and lenient underwriting. Today, loans with high-risk features are absent and mortgage underwriting is prudent.”
2. Homeowners aren’t using their homes as ATMs this time.
During the housing bubble, as prices skyrocketed, people were refinancing their homes and pulling out large sums of cash. As prices began to fall, that caused many to spiral into a negative equity situation (where their mortgage was higher than the value of the house).
Today, homeowners are letting their equity build. Tappable equity is the amount available for homeowners to access before hitting a maximum 80% combined loan-to-value ratio (thus still leaving them with at least 20% equity). In 2006, that number was $4.6 billion. Today, that number stands at over $8 billion.
Yet, the percentage of cash-out refinances (where the homeowner takes out at least 5% more than their original mortgage amount) is half of what it was in 2006.
3. This time, it’s simply a matter of supply and demand.
FOMO (the Fear Of Missing Out) dominated the housing market leading up to the 2006 housing bubble and drove up buyer demand. Back then, housing supply more than kept up as many homeowners put their houses on the market, as evidenced by the over seven months’ supply of existing housing inventory available for sale in 2006. Today, that number is barely two months.
Builders also overbuilt during the bubble but pulled back significantly over the next decade. Sam Khater, VP and Chief Economist, Economic & Housing Research at Freddie Mac, explains that pullback is the major factor in the lack of available inventory today:
“The main driver of the housing shortfall has been the long-term decline in the construction of single-family homes.”
Here’s a chart that quantifies Khater’s remarks:Today, there are simply not enough homes to keep up with current demand.
This market is nothing like the run-up to 2006. Bill McBride, the author of the prestigious Calculated Risk blog, predicted the last housing bubble and crash. This is what he has to say about today’s housing market:
“It’s not clear at all to me that things are going to slow down significantly in the near future. In 2005, I had a strong sense that the hot market would turn and that, when it turned, things would get very ugly. Today, I don’t have that sense at all, because all of the fundamentals are there. Demand will be high for a while because Millennials need houses. Prices will keep rising for a while because inventory is so low.”
July 19, 2021
What You Should Do Before Interest Rates Rise
In today’s real estate market, mortgage interest rates are near record lows. If you’ve been in your current home for several years and haven’t refinanced lately, there’s a good chance you have a mortgage with an interest rate higher than today’s average. Here are some options you should consider if you want to take advantage of today’s current low rates before they rise.
Sell and Move Up (or Downsize)
Many of today’s homeowners are rethinking what they need in a home and redefining what their dream home means. For some, continued remote work is bringing about the need for additional space. For others, moving to a lower cost-of-living area or downsizing may be great options. If you’re considering either of these, there may not be a better time to move. Here’s why.
The chart below shows average mortgage rates by decade compared to where they are today:Today’s rates are below 3%, but experts forecast rates to rise over the next few years.
If the interest rate on your current mortgage is higher than today’s average, take advantage of this opportunity by making a move and securing a lower rate. Lower rates mean you may be able to get more house for your money and still have a lower monthly mortgage payment than you might expect.
Waiting, however, might mean you miss out on this historic opportunity. Below is a chart showing how your monthly payment will change if you buy a home as mortgage rates increase:
Breaking It All Down:
Using the chart above, let’s look at the breakdown of a $300,000 mortgage:
- When mortgage rates rise, so does the monthly payment you can secure.
- Even the smallest increase in rates can make a difference in your monthly mortgage payment.
- As interest rates rise, you’ll need to look at a lower-priced home to try and keep the same target monthly payment, meaning you may end up with less home for your money.
No matter what, whether you’re looking to make a move up or downsize to a home that better suits your needs, now is the time. Even a small change in interest rates can have a big impact on your purchasing power.
If making a move right now still doesn’t feel right for you, consider refinancing. With the current low mortgage rates, refinancing is a great option if you’re looking to lower your monthly payments and stay in your current home.
Take advantage of today’s low rates before they begin to rise. Whether you’re thinking about moving up, downsizing, or refinancing, let’s connect today to discuss which option is best for you.
July 15, 2021
Diving Deep into Today’s Biggest Buyer Concerns
Last week, Fannie Mae released their Home Purchase Sentiment Index (HPSI). Though the survey showed 77% of respondents believe it’s a “good time to sell,” it also confirms what many are sensing: an increasing number of Americans believe it’s a “bad time to buy” a home. The percentage of those surveyed saying it’s a “bad time to buy” hit 64%, up from 56% last month and 38% last July.
The latest HPSI explains:
“Consumers also continued to cite high home prices as the predominant reason for their ongoing and significant divergence in sentiment toward homebuying and home-selling conditions. While all surveyed segments have expressed greater negativity toward homebuying over the last few months, renters who say they are planning to buy a home in the next few years have demonstrated an even steeper decline in homebuying sentiment than homeowners. It’s likely that affordability concerns are more greatly affecting those who aspire to be first-time homeowners than other consumer segments.”
Let’s look closely at the market conditions that impact home affordability.
A mortgage payment is determined by the price of the home and the mortgage rate on the loan used to purchase it. Lately, monthly mortgage payments have gone up for buyers for two key reasons:
- Mortgage rates have increased from 2.65% this past January to 2.9%.
- Home prices have increased by 15.4% over the last 12 months.
Based on these rising factors, a home may be less affordable today, but it doesn’t mean it’s not affordable.
Three weeks ago, ATTOM Data released their second-quarter 2021 U.S. Home Affordability Report which explained that the major ownership costs on the typical home as a percent of the average national wage had increased from 22.2% in the second quarter of 2020 to 25.2% in the second quarter of this year. They also went on to explain:
“Still, the latest level is within the 28 percent standard lenders prefer for how much homeowners should spend on mortgage payments, home insurance and property taxes.”
In the same report, Todd Teta, Chief Product Officer with ATTOM, confirms:
“Average workers across the country can still manage the major expenses of owning a home, based on lender standards.”
It’s true that monthly mortgage payments are greater than they were last year (as the ATTOM data shows), but they’re not unaffordable when compared to the last 30 years. While payments have increased dramatically during that several-decade span, if we adjust for inflation, today’s mortgage payments are 10.7% lower than they were in 1990.
What’s that mean for you? While you may not get the homebuying deal someone you know got last year, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still buy a home. Here are your alternatives to buying and the trade-offs you’ll have with each.
Alternative 1: I’ll rent instead.
Some may consider renting as the better option. However, the monthly cost of renting a home is skyrocketing. According to the July National Rent Report from Apartment List:
“…So far in 2021, rental prices have grown a staggering 9.2%. To put that in context, in previous years growth from January to June is usually just 2 to 3%. After this month’s spike, rents have been pushed well above our expectations of where they would have been had the pandemic not disrupted the market.”
If you continue to rent, chances are your rent will keep increasing at a fast pace. That means you could end up spending significantly more of your income on your rental as time goes on, which could make it even harder to save for a home.
Alternative 2: I’ll wait it out.
Others may consider waiting for another year and hoping that purchasing a home will be less expensive then. Let’s look at that possibility.
We’ve already established that a monthly mortgage payment is determined by the price of the home and the mortgage rate. A lower monthly payment would require one of those two elements to decrease over the next year. However, experts are forecasting the exact opposite:
- The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) projects mortgage rates will be at 4.2% by the end of next year.
- The Home Price Expectation Survey (HPES), a survey of over 100 economists, investment strategists, and housing market analysts, calls for home prices to increase by 5.12% in 2022.
Based on these projections, let’s see the possible impact on a monthly mortgage payment:By waiting until next year, you’d potentially pay more for the home, need a larger down payment, pay a higher mortgage rate, and pay an additional $3,696 each year over the life of the mortgage.
While you may have missed the absolute best time to buy a home, waiting any longer may not make sense. Mark Fleming, Chief Economist at First American, says it best:
“Affordability is likely to worsen before it improves, so try to buy it now, if you can find it.”
July 14, 2021
Housing Supply Is Rising. What Does That Mean for You?
An important factor in today’s market is the number of homes for sale. While inventory levels continue to sit near historic lows, there are indications we may have hit the lowest point we’ll see. Odeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist at First American, recently said of our supply challenges:
“It looks like inventory may have hit a bottom (we’ve seen this in the higher frequency data as well). Unsold inventory in May was at 2.5 months supply, up from 2.4.”
To put it into perspective, the graph below shows levels of inventory rising since the beginning of the year:We’re still not close to a balanced market, which would be a 6 months’ supply of homes for sale. However, we are seeing a slow but steady increase in homes coming up for sale. And that leaves many buyers and sellers wondering the same thing: what does that mean for me?
Buyers: More Options Are Arriving, so It’s Time To Act
If you’re a buyer, more inventory coming to market is a welcome sight. More supply means more options and less competition, which could mean fewer bidding wars.
According to the latest Monthly Housing Market Trends Report, supply levels are continuing to increase, which is different from the typical summer market:
“In June, newly listed homes grew by 5.5% on a year-over-year basis, and by 10.9% on a month-over-month basis. Typically, fewer newly listed homes appear on the market in the month of June compared to May. This year, growth in new listings is continuing later into the summer season, a welcome sign for a tight housing market.”
If you’re having trouble finding your next home, this news should give you the hope and motivation to keep your buying process moving forward. Experts project mortgage rates will begin increasing, which will make purchasing a home less affordable as time passes. You can still capitalize on today’s low interest rates, so stick with your search as more homes come to market.
Sellers: Our Supply Challenges Aren’t Over Yet, so Now Is the Time To Sell
If you’ve been putting off selling your house, you shouldn’t wait much longer. The year’s month-over-month gains in homes for sale have helped buyers, but we’re still very much in a sellers’ market.
As the graph below shows, even with the number of homes for sale rising, we’re still well below the supply levels we’ve seen historically:Of course, more homes are coming to market now, and more are expected in the coming months. Selling your house this summer gives you the chance to get ahead of the competition and maximize your sales potential before more homes are put up for sale in your neighborhood.
More homes for sale means more options for buyers and more competition for sellers. Whether you’re looking to buy or sell, let’s connect today to discuss your options and why it’s still a good time to make your move.
July 13, 2021
Why This Isn’t Your Typical Summer Housing Market
In real estate, it’s normal to see ebbs and flows in the market. Typically, the summer months are slower-paced than the traditionally busy spring. But this isn’t a typical summer. As the economy rebounds and life is returning to normal, the real estate market is expected to have an unusually strong summer season.
Here’s how this summer is stacking up against the norm and what it means for you.
Inventory is increasing.
According to the latest Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), inventory levels have been rising since February of this year. Looking at the graph below, there’s a clear upward trend, as shown in the green bars. Currently, there’s roughly a 2.5 months’ supply of homes for sale. And while inventory is trending up as more houses are coming to the market, it’s still much lower than several of the previous summers, as the orange bars indicate.If you’re looking to buy, some relief is on the way in the form of more homes coming to the market. Just remember, we still have less inventory than the norm, so be patient in your search.
If you’re thinking of selling, now is the time. Work with your agent to list your house before it has more competition on the market.
Time on the market is still shorter than normal.
Unlike the typical summer trend, time on the market is moving at the fastest speed we’ve seen since NAR started collecting this survey-based information in 2011. The most recent Realtors Confidence Index shows that the average home is on the market for just 17 days, as shown in green in the graph below. This means houses are selling at a much faster pace than a typical summer, which the orange bars represent.If you’re looking to buy, this means you need to be prepared to move fast. Brace for a quick pace and rely on your agent to stay in the know on the available homes in your area.
If you’re thinking of selling, data shows your house will likely sell quickly. If you’re worried about where you’ll go once your house sells, consider a newly built home as a good way to move up.
Price appreciation is still rising.
The last big factor making this an unusually strong market this summer is home price appreciation. According to the State House Price Index from the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), we’re currently experiencing double-digit house price appreciation and have an average of 12.6% appreciation across the country. The graph below uses data from NAR to show a more granular view of how prices have changed month-to-month over the past few years. The green bars show the current price appreciation we’re experiencing today. Our current levels are well above what we’ve seen in recent summers, shown by the orange bars.If you’re looking to buy, competition and bidding wars are driving prices up. Getting pre-approved can show the seller you’re serious and help you know what you can afford. Once you do, work with your agent to make a strong offer that stands out.
If you’re thinking of selling, seize this opportunity to use your additional equity from this price appreciation to power your next move.
This isn’t a typical summer. Whether you’re buying or selling, let’s connect to talk about how you can capitalize on today’s market conditions to sell your house or find your dream home.
July 12, 2021
4 Major Incentives To Sell This Summer
While the housing market forecast for the second half of the year remains positive, there may not be a better time to sell than right now. Here are four things to consider if you’re trying to decide if now’s the right time to make a move.
1. Your House Will Likely Sell Quickly
According to the most recent Realtors Confidence Index released by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), homes continue to sell quickly. The report notes homes are selling in an average of just 17 days.
Average days on market is a strong indicator of buyer competition, and homes selling quickly is a great sign for sellers. It’s one of several factors that indicate buyers are motivated to do what it takes to purchase the home of their dreams.
2. Buyers Are Willing To Compete for Your House
In addition to selling fast, homes are receiving multiple offers. NAR reports sellers are seeing an average of 5 offers, and these offers are competitive ones. Shawn Telford, Chief Appraiser at CoreLogic, said in a recent interview:
“The frequency of buyers being willing to pay more than the market data supports is increasing.”
This confirms buyers are ready and willing to enter bidding wars for your home. Receiving several offers on your house means you can select the one that makes the most sense for your situation and financial well-being.
3. When Supply Is Low, Your House Is in the Spotlight
One of the most significant challenges for motivated buyers is the current inventory of homes for sale, which while improving, remains at near-record lows. As NAR details:
“Total housing inventory at the end of May amounted to 1.23 million units, up 7.0% from April's inventory and down 20.6% from one year ago (1.55 million). Unsold inventory sits at a 2.5-month supply at the present sales pace, marginally up from April's 2.4-month supply but down from 4.6-months in May 2020.”
There are signs, however, that more homes are coming to market. Odeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist at First American, notes:
“It looks like existing inventory is starting to inch up, which is good news for a housing market parched for more supply.”
If you’re looking to take advantage of buyer demand and get the most attention for your house, selling now before more listings come to the market might be your best option.
4. If You’re Thinking of Moving Up, Now May Be the Time
Over the past 12 months, homeowners have gained a significant amount of wealth through growing equity. In that same period, homeowners have also spent a considerable amount of time in their homes, and many have decided their house doesn’t meet their needs.
If you’re not happy with your current home, you can leverage that equity to power your move now. Your equity, plus current low mortgage rates, can help you maximize your purchasing power.
But these near-historic low rates won’t last forever. Experts forecast interest rates will increase in the coming months. Nadia Evangelou, Senior Economist and Director of Forecasting at NAR, says:
“Nevertheless, as the economic outlook for the United States looks brighter for the rest of the year, mortgage rates are expected to rise in the following months.”
As interest rates rise, even modestly, it could influence buyer demand and your purchasing power. If you’ve been waiting for the best time to sell to fuel your move up, you likely won’t find more favorable conditions than those we’re seeing today.
With supply challenges, low mortgage rates, and extremely motivated buyers, sellers are well-positioned to take advantage of current market conditions right now. If you’re thinking about selling, let’s connect today to discuss why it makes sense to list your home sooner rather than later.
July 8, 2021
Selling Your House? Make Sure You Price It Right.
There’s no denying we’re in a sellers’ market. With low inventory and high buyer demand, homes today are selling above the asking price at a record rate. According to the latest Realtors Confidence Index Survey from the National Association of Realtors (NAR):
- Homes typically sell within 17 days (compared to 26 days one year ago).
- The average home sold has five offers to pick from.
- 54% of offers are over the asking price.
Because so many buyers are competing for so few homes, bidding wars are driving up home prices. According to an average of leading expert projections, existing home prices are expected to increase by 8.9% this year.
Yet even in today’s red-hot sellers’ market, it’s important to price your house right. While it may be tempting to price your house on the high side to capitalize on this trend, doing so could limit your house’s potential.
Why Pricing Your House Right Matters
Here’s the thing – a high price tag doesn’t mean you’re going to cash in big on the sale. While you may be trying to maximize your return, the tradeoff may be steep. A high list price is more likely to deter buyers, sit on the market longer, or require a price drop that can raise questions among prospective buyers.
Instead, focus on setting a price that’s fair. Real estate professionals know the value of your home. By pricing your house based on its current condition and similar homes that have recently sold in your area, your agent can help you set a price that’s realistic and obtainable – and that’s good news for you and for buyers.When you price your house right, you increase your home’s visibility, which drives more buyers to your front door. The more buyers that tour your home, the more likely you’ll have a multi-offer scenario to create a bidding war. When multiple buyers compete for your house, that sets you up for a bigger win.
When it comes to pricing your house, working with a local real estate professional is essential. Let’s connect so we can optimize your exposure, your timeline, and the return on your investment, too.
July 7, 2021
The Truths Young Homebuyers Need To Hear
For many young or first-time homebuyers, purchasing a home can feel intimidating. A recent survey shows some homebuyers ages 25 to 40 may be unsure about the homebuying process and what they can afford. It found:
- “1 in 4 underestimated their buying potential by $150k or more”
- “1 in 4 underestimated the increase in value by $100k or more”
- “47% don’t know what a good interest rate is”
Because they feel uncertain, many young homebuyers have given up on their search, or worse, they’ve decided homebuying isn’t for them and never started on their journey to begin with.
If you’re interested in buying but aren’t sure where to begin, here are three key concepts about homeownership you should understand before you get started.
1. What You Need To Know About Down Payments
Saving for a down payment is sometimes viewed as one of the biggest obstacles for homebuyers, but that doesn’t have to be the case. As Freddie Mac says:
“The most damaging down payment myth—since it stops the homebuying process before it can start—is the belief that 20% is necessary.”
According to the most recent Home Buyers and Sellers Generational Trends Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the median down payment for homes purchased between July 2019 and June 2020 was only 12%. That number is even lower when we control for age – for buyers in the 22 to 30 age range, the median down payment was only 6%.
2. You May Be Able To Afford More Home Than You Think
Working remotely, exercising, and generally spending more time than ever in our homes has changed what many people are looking for in their living space. However, some young homebuyers don’t feel they can afford a home that suits their growing needs and have decided to continue renting instead. That means they’ll miss out on some of the long-term benefits of owning a home. As an article recently published by NAR points out:
“Many young adults are underestimating how much they need for homeownership, the survey finds. Millennials underestimated how much home they can afford right now, how much interest they would pay over a 30-year mortgage, and how much home values appreciate, on average, over 10 years...”
Knowing how much home you can afford when starting the buying process is critical and could be the game-changer that gets you from renting to buying.
3. Homeownership Will Become Less Affordable the Longer You Wait
Finally, with mortgage rates starting to rise along with home prices appreciating, putting off buying a home now could cost you much more later. Sam Khater, Chief Economist at Freddie Mac, notes:
“As the economy progresses and inflation remains elevated, we expect that rates will continually rise in the second half of the year.”
Most experts forecast interest rates will rise in the months ahead, and even the smallest increase can influence your buying power. If you’ve been on the fence about buying a home, there’s no time like the present.
If you feel overwhelmed by the prospect of starting your home search, you’re not alone. Let’s connect today so we can talk more about the process, what you’ll need to start your search, and what to expect.
July 6, 2021
A Look at Home Price Appreciation Through 2025
Home prices have increased significantly over the last year, which in turn has grown the net worth of homeowners. Appreciation and home equity are directly linked – as the value of a home increases, so does a homeowner’s equity. And with these recent gains, homeowners are witnessing their financial stability and well-being grow to record levels.
In more good news for homeowners, the most recent Home Price Expectations Survey – a survey of a national panel of over one hundred economists, real estate experts, and investment and market strategists – forecasts home prices will continue appreciating over the next five years, adding to the record amount of equity homeowners have already gained over the past year. Below are the expected year-over-year rates of home price appreciation from the report:
What Does This Mean for Homeowners?
Home prices are climbing today, and the data in the survey indicates they’ll continue to increase, but at rates that approach a more normal pace. Even still, the amount of household wealth a homeowner stands to earn going forward is substantial. This truly becomes clear when we consider a scenario using a median-priced home purchased in January of 2021 and the projected rate of appreciation on that home over the next five years. As the graph below illustrates, a homeowner could increase their net worth by a significant amount – over $93,000 dollars by 2026.
Home Price Appreciation and Home Equity
CoreLogic recently released their quarterly Homeowner Equity Insights Report, which tracks the year-over-year increases in equity. It shows an average annual gain of $33,400 per borrower over the past 12 months. In the report, Dr. Frank Nothaft, Chief Economist for CoreLogic, further explains:
"Double-digit home price growth in the past year has bolstered home equity to a record amount. The national CoreLogic Home Price Index recorded an 11.4% rise in the year through March 2021, leading to a $216,000 increase in the average amount of equity held by homeowners with a mortgage.”
The expected, sustained growth of home prices means homeowners can continue to build on the past year’s record levels of home equity – and their financial prosperity. It also presents today’s homeowners with a unique opportunity: using their growing equity for a home upgrade. With so few homes available to purchase and strong buyer demand, there may not be a better time to sell your current house and move into one that better meets your needs.
Home prices are expected to continue appreciating over the next five years, and the associated equity gains are the quickest way homeowners can build household wealth. If you're a current homeowner who’s ready to take advantage of your built-up equity, let’s connect today to discuss your options.
July 5, 2021
Home Builders Ramp Up Construction Based on Demand
If you’re thinking of buying a home, there really is no time like the present. With today’s low mortgage rates, you have a great opportunity to get more home for your money. The challenge is inventory. Like you, many buyers want to capitalize on these market conditions, and it’s leading to more buyer competition and bidding wars.
If you’re having a hard time finding a home to buy, it may be time to talk to your trusted real estate advisor about a newly built home. Early indicators show new-home construction is beginning to ramp up. While new homes alone won’t be able to fix all of the inventory challenges, this does mean you’ll soon have more options as you search for a home. As a buyer, a newly built home may be exactly what you’re looking for – it’s brand new, and with builder customization options, it’s uniquely yours from the ground up.
Here’s what industry experts are saying about new homes coming to market:
Nadia Evangelou, Senior Economist and Director of Forecasting at the National Association of Realtors (NAR), says recent research could indicate upward momentum when it comes to new home construction. Evangelou refers to the volume of new homes where construction began during a set period, known in the industry as housing starts.
According to that research, housing starts reached their highest level since 2006 in March of this year – an encouraging sign for the industry. While they dipped slightly in April, Evangelou reiterates that the level of housing construction is heading in a positive direction compared to recent years:
“…we are currently building 24% more homes than we typically have built in April in the last couple of decades. Thus, housing construction is trending upward with housing starts likely to reach 1.6 million for all of 2021 and rise further to 1.7 million in 2022.”
As new data pours in, it further confirms this trend. According to the latest Monthly New Residential Construction report from the U.S. Census Bureau, housing starts increased even more in May, which continues the ongoing upward trend (see graph below) and indicates that ground is being broken on even more new homes.Robert Dietz, Chief Economist and Senior Vice President of Economics and Housing Policy for the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), singles out another encouraging sign:
“It is also worth noting that the number of single-family homes permitted but not started construction continued to increase in May, rising to 142,000 units.”
This insight that there’s also an uptick in single-family homes permitted serves as an additional sign that more new homes lie ahead. It’s important to realize that the construction doesn’t have to start on these homes before you may be able to purchase one. According to the Monthly New Residential Sales report from the U.S. Census Bureau, many new homes are selling before construction even begins (see graph below):These signs are all good news for housing inventory. And as the recent challenges of rising lumber prices and dwindling lumber supply begin to improve, builders will be able to increase their production even more in the months ahead.
While the inventory challenges we’re facing today won’t be solved overnight, the increase in new-home construction means your house may have more competition in the market. Let’s connect to talk about finding your dream home and the newly built homes available in our area.
July 1, 2021
Are We in a Housing Bubble? Experts Say No.
The question of whether the real estate market is a bubble ready to pop seems to be dominating a lot of conversations – and everyone has an opinion. Yet, when it comes down to it, the opinions that carry the most weight are the ones based on experience and expertise.
Here are four expert opinions from professionals and organizations that have devoted their careers to giving great advice to the housing industry.
The Joint Center for Housing Studies in their The State of the Nation’s Housing 2021 report:
“… conditions today are quite different than in the early 2000s, particularly in terms of credit availability. The current climb in house prices instead reflects strong demand amid tight supply, helped along by record-low interest rates.”
Nathaniel Karp, Chief U.S. Economist at BBVA:
“The housing market is in line with fundamentals as interest rates are attractive and incomes are high due to fiscal stimulus, making debt servicing relatively affordable and allowing buyers to qualify for larger mortgages. Underwriting standards are still strong, so there is little risk of a bubble developing.”
Bill McBride of Calculated Risk:
“It’s not clear at all to me that things are going to slow down significantly in the near future. In 2005, I had a strong sense that the hot market would turn and that, when it turned, things would get very ugly. Today, I don’t have that sense at all, because all of the fundamentals are there. Demand will be high for a while, because Millennials need houses. Prices will keep rising for a while, because inventory is so low.”
Mark Fleming, Chief Economist at First American:
“Looking back at the bubble years, house prices exceeded house-buying power in 2006 nationally, but today house-buying power is nearly twice as high as the median sale price nationally…
Many find it hard to believe, but housing is actually undervalued in most markets and the gap between house-buying power and sale prices indicates there’s room for further house price growth in the months to come.”
All four strongly believe that we’re not in a bubble and won’t see crashing home values as we did in 2008. And they’re not alone – Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley, and Merrill Lynch share the same opinion.
June 28, 2021
Save Time and Effort by Selling with an Agent
Selling a house is a time-consuming process – especially if you decide to do it on your own, known as a For Sale By Owner (FSBO). From conducting market research to reviewing legal documents, handling negotiations, and more, it’s an involved and highly detailed process that requires a lot of expertise to navigate effectively. That’s one of the reasons why the percentage of people selling their own house has declined from 19% to 8% (See graph below):To help you understand just how much time and effort it takes to sell on your own, here’s a look at a few of the things you need to think about before putting that “For Sale” sign up in your yard.
1. Making a Good First Impression
While it may sound simple, there are a lot of proven best practices to consider when prepping a house for sale.
- Do you need to take down your personal art?
- What’s the right amount of landscaping to boost your curb appeal?
- What wall colors are most appealing to buyers?
If you do this work on your own, you may invest capital and many hours into the wrong things. Your time is money – don’t waste it. An agent can help steer you in the right direction based on current market conditions to save you time and effort. Since we’re in a hot sellers' market, you don’t want to delay listing your house by focusing on things that won’t change your bottom line. These market conditions may not last, so lean on an agent to capitalize on today's low inventory while you can.
2. Pricing It Right
Real estate professionals have mission-critical information on what sells and how to maximize your profit. They’re experienced when it comes to looking at recent comparable homes that have sold in your area and understanding what price is right for your neighborhood. They use that data to price your house appropriately, maximizing your return.
In a FSBO, you’re operating without this expertise, so you’ll have to do your own homework on how to set a price that’s appropriate for your area and the condition of your home. Even with your own research, you may not find the most up-to-date information and could risk setting a price that’s inaccurate or unrealistic. If you price your house too high, you could turn buyers away before they’re even in the front door, or run into problems when it comes time for the appraisal.
3. Maximizing Your Buyer Pool (and Profit)
Contrary to popular belief, FSBOs may actually net less profit than sellers who use an agent. One of the factors that can drive profit up is effective exposure. Simply put, real estate professionals can get your house in front of more buyers via their social media followers, agency resources, and proven sales strategies. The more buyers that view a home, the more likely a bidding war becomes. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the average house for sale today gets 5 offers. Using an agent to boost your exposure may help boost your sale price too.
4. Navigating Negotiations
When it comes to selling your house as a FSBO, you’ll have to handle all of the negotiations. Here are just a few of the people you’ll work with:
- The buyer, who wants the best deal possible
- The buyer’s agent, who will use their expertise to advocate for the buyer
- The inspection company, which works for the buyer and will almost always find concerns with the house
- The appraiser, who assesses the property’s value to protect the lender
As part of their training, agents are taught how to negotiate every aspect of the real estate transaction and how to mediate potential snags that may pop up. When appraisals come in low and in countless other situations, they know what levers to pull, how to address the buyer and seller emotions that come with it, and when to ask for second opinions. Navigating all of this on your own takes time –a lot of it.
5. Juggling Legal Documentation
Speaking of time, consider how much free time you have to review the fine print. Just in terms of documentation, more disclosures and regulations are now mandatory. That means the stack of legal documents you need to handle as the seller is growing. It can be hard to know and truly understand all the terms and requirements. Instead of going at it alone, use an agent as your shield and advisor to help you avoid potential legal missteps.
Selling your house on your own is a lot of responsibility. It’s time consuming and requires an immense amount of effort and expertise. Before you decide to sell your house yourself, let’s discuss your options so we can make sure you get the most out of the sale.
June 27, 2021
Demand for Vacation Homes Is Still Strong
The pandemic created a tremendous interest in vacation homes across the country. Throughout the last year, many people purchased second homes as a safe getaway from the challenges of the health crisis. With many professionals working from home and many students taking classes remotely, it made sense to see a migration away from cities and into counties with more vacation destinations.
The 2021 Vacation Home Counties Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows that this increase in vacation home sales continues in 2021. The report examines sales in counties where “vacant seasonal, occasional, or recreational use housing account for at least 20% of the housing stock” and compares that data to the overall residential market.
Their findings show:
- Vacation home sales rose by 16.4% to 310,600 in 2020, outpacing the 5.6% growth in total existing-home sales.
- Vacation home sales are up 57.2% year-over-year during January-April 2021 compared to the 20% year-over-year change in total existing-home sales.
- Home prices rose more in vacation home counties – the median existing price rose by 14.2% in vacation home counties, compared to 10.1% in non-vacation home counties.
This coincides with data released by Zelman & Associates on the increase in sales of second homes throughout the country last year.
As the data above shows, there is still high demand for second getaway homes in 2021 even as the pandemic winds down. While we may see a rise in second-home sellers as life returns to normal, ongoing low supply and high demand will continue to provide those sellers with a good return on their investment.
If you’re one of the many people who purchased a vacation home during the pandemic, you’re likely wondering what this means for you. If you’re considering selling that home as life returns to normal, you have options. There are still plenty of buyers in the market. If, on the other hand, you want to keep your second home, enjoy it! Current market conditions show that it’s a good ongoing investment.
June 16, 2021
Hope Is on the Horizon for Today’s Housing Shortage
The major challenge in today’s housing market is that there are more buyers looking to purchase than there are homes available to buy. Simply put, supply can’t keep up with demand. A normal market has a 6-month supply of homes for sale. Anything over that indicates it’s a buyers’ market, but an inventory level below that threshold means we’re in a sellers’ market. Today’s inventory level sits far below the norm.
According to the Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR):
“Total housing inventory at the end of April amounted to 1.16 million units, up 10.5% from March's inventory and down 20.5% from one year ago (1.46 million). Unsold inventory sits at a 2.4-month supply at the current sales pace, slightly up from March's 2.1-month supply and down from the 4.0-month supply recorded in April 2020. These numbers continue to represent near-record lows.”
Basically, while we are seeing some improvement, we’re still at near-record lows for housing inventory (as shown in the graph below). Here’s why. Since the pandemic began, sellers have been cautious when it comes to putting their homes on the market. At the same time that fewer people are listing their homes, more and more people are trying to buy them thanks to today’s low mortgage rates. The influx of buyers aiming to capitalize on those rates are purchasing this limited supply of homes as quickly as they’re coming to market.This inventory shortage doesn’t just apply to existing homes that are already built. When it comes to new construction, builders are trying to do their part to bring more newly built homes into the market. However, due to challenges with things like lumber supply, they’re also not able to keep up with demand. In their Monthly New Residential Sales report, the United States Census Bureau states:
“The seasonally-adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of April was 316,000. This represents a supply of 4.4 months at the current sales rate.”
Sam Khater, Chief Economist at Freddie Mac, elaborates:
“In the span of five decades, entry level construction fell from 418,000 units per year in the late 1970s to 65,000 in 2020.
While in 2020 only 65,000 entry-level homes were completed, there were 2.38 million first-time homebuyers that purchased homes. Not all renters looking to purchase their first home were in the market for entry-level homes, however, the large disparity illustrates the significant and rapidly widening gap between entry-level supply and demand.”
Despite today’s low inventory, there is hope on the horizon.
Regarding existing home sales, Sabrina Speianu, Senior Economic Research Analyst at realtor.com, explains:
“In May, newly listed homes grew by 5.4% on a year-over-year basis compared to the earlier days of the COVID-19 pandemic last year…
In May, the share of newly listed homes compared to active daily inventory hit a historical high of 44.4%, 17.3 percentage points higher than last year and 15.1 percentage points above typical levels seen in 2017 to 2019. This is a reflection of quickly selling homes and, for buyers, it means that while they can expect fresh new listings every week, they will have to be prepared to move quickly on desirable homes.”
As for newly built homes, builders are also confident about what’s ahead for housing inventory. Robert Dietz, Chief Economist at the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), shares:
“Builder confidence in the market remains strong due to a lack of resale inventory, low mortgage interest rates, and a growing demographic of prospective home buyers.”
Things are starting to look up for residential real estate inventory. As the country continues to reopen, more houses are likely to be listed for sale. However, as long as buyer demand remains high, it will take time for the balance between supply and demand to truly neutralize.
Although it may be challenging to find a house to buy in today’s market, there is hope on the horizon. Let’s connect to talk about your home search so we can find your dream home this summer.
June 14, 2021
The Right Expert Will Guide You Through This Unprecedented Market
In a normal market, it’s good to have an experienced guide coaching you through the process of buying or selling a home. That person can advise you on important things like pricing your home correctly or the first steps to take when you’re ready to buy. However, the market we’re in today is far from normal. As a result, an expert isn’t just good to have by your side – an expert is essential.
Today’s housing market is full of extremes. Mortgage rates hovering near record-lows are driving high buyer demand. On the other hand, an absence of sellers is creating record-low housing inventory. This imbalance in supply and demand is leading to a skyrocketing rate of bidding wars and more houses selling over their asking price. This is driving home price appreciation and gains in home equity. These market conditions aren’t just extreme – they can be overwhelming. Having a trusted expert to coach you through the process of buying and selling a home gives you clarity, confidence, and success through each step.
Here are just a few of the ways a real estate expert is invaluable:
- Contracts – We help with the disclosures and contracts necessary in today’s heavily regulated environment.
- Experience – We’re well-versed in real estate and experienced with the entire sales process, including how it’s changed over the past year.
- Negotiations – We act as a buffer in negotiations with all parties throughout the entire transaction while advocating for your best interests.
- Education – We simply and effectively explain today’s market conditions and decipher what they mean for your individual goals.
- Pricing – We help you understand today’s real estate values when setting the price of your home or making an offer to purchase one.
A real estate agent can be your essential guide through this unprecedented market, but truth be told, not all agents are created equal. A true expert can carefully walk you through the whole real estate process, look out for your unique needs, and advise you on the best ways to achieve success. Finding the right agent should be your top priority when you’re ready to buy or sell a home.
So, how do you choose the right expert?
It starts with trust. You’ll have to be able to trust the advice your agent is going to give you, so make sure you’re connected to a true professional. An agent can’t give you perfect advice because it’s impossible to know exactly what’s going to happen at every turn – especially in this unique market. A true professional expert can, however, give you the best possible advice based on the information and situation at hand, helping you make the necessary adjustments and best decisions along the way. The right agent – the professional – will help you plan the steps to take for success, advocate for you throughout the process, and coach you on the essential knowledge you need to make confident decisions toward your goals. That’s exactly what you want and deserve.
It’s crucial right now to work with a real estate expert who understands how the market is changing and what that means for home buyers and sellers. If you’re planning to make a move this year, let’s connect so you have someone who can answer your questions, give you the best advice, and guide you along the way.
June 11, 2021
Why This Is Not Like 2008 Again
During the Great Recession, just over a decade ago, the financial systems the world depended on started to collapse. It created a panic that drove some large companies out of business (ex. Lehman Brothers) and many more into bankruptcy.
The financial crisis that accompanied the current pandemic caused hardship to certain industries and hurt many small businesses. However, it hasn’t rattled the world economy. It seems that a year later, things are slowly getting back to normal for many companies.
Why is there a drastic difference between 2008 and now?
In a post from RealtyTrac, they explain:
“We changed the rules. We told banks they needed more reserves and that they could no longer underwrite toxic mortgages. It turns out that regulation — properly done — can help us navigate financial minefields.”
Here are the results of that regulation, captured in a graph depicting the number of failed banks since 2007.
What was different this time?
The post mentioned above explains:
“In 2008 the government saw the foreclosure meltdown as a top-down problem and set aside $700 billion for banks under the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). Not all of the $700 billion was used, but the important point is that the government did not act with equal fervor to help flailing homeowners, millions of whom lost their homes to foreclosures and short sales.
This time around the government forcefully moved to help ordinary citizens. Working from the bottom-up, an estimated $5.3 trillion went to the public in 2020 through such mechanisms as the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), expanded unemployment benefits, tax incentives, and help for local governments. So far this year we have the $1.9 billion American Rescue Plan with millions of $1,400 checks as well as proposals to spend trillions more on infrastructure…Bank deposits increased by nearly $2 trillion during the past year and credit card debt fell.”
Many have suffered over the past year. However, the economic toll of the current recession was nowhere near the scope of the Great Recession, and it won’t result in a housing crisis.
June 9, 2021
Home Price Appreciation Is as Simple as Supply and Demand
Home price appreciation continues to accelerate. Today, prices are driven by the simple concept of supply and demand. Pricing of any item is determined by how many items are available compared to how many people want to buy that item. As a result, the strong year-over-year home price appreciation is simple to explain. The demand for housing is up while the supply of homes for sale hovers at historic lows.
Let’s use three maps to show how this theory continues to affect the residential real estate market.
Map #1 – State-by-state price appreciation reported by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) for the first quarter of 2021 compared to the first quarter of 2020:As the map shows, certain states (colored in red) have appreciated well above the national average of 12.6%.
Map #2 – The change in state-by-state inventory levels year-over-year reported by realtor.com:Comparing the two maps shows a correlation between change in listing inventory and price appreciation in many states. The best examples are Idaho, Utah, and Arizona. Though the correlation is not as easy to see in every state, the overall picture is one of causation.
The reason prices continue to accelerate is that housing inventory is still at all-time lows while demand remains high. However, this may be changing.
Is there relief around the corner?
The report by realtor.com also shows the monthly change in inventory for each state.
Map #3 – State-by-state changes in inventory levels month-over-month reported by realtor.com:As the map indicates, 39 of the 50 states (plus the District of Columbia) saw increases in inventory over the last month. This may be evidence that homeowners who have been afraid to let buyers in their homes during the pandemic are now putting their houses on the market.
We’ll know for certain as we move through the rest of the year.
Some are concerned by the rapid price appreciation we’ve experienced over the last year. The maps above show that the increases were warranted based on great demand and limited supply. Going forward, if the number of homes for sale better aligns with demand, price appreciation will moderate to more historical levels.
June 8, 2021
In Today’s Market, Listing Prices Are Like an Auction’s Reserve Price
For generations, the process of buying and selling a home never really changed. A homeowner would try to estimate the market value of their house, then tack on a little extra to give themselves some negotiating room. That figure would become the listing price. Buyers would then try to determine how much less than the full price they could offer and still get the home. As a result, the listing price was generally the ceiling of the negotiation. The actual sales price would almost always be somewhat lower than what was listed. It was unthinkable to pay more than what the seller was asking.
Today is different.
The record-low supply of homes for sale coupled with very strong buyer demand is leading to a rise in bidding wars on many homes. Because of this, homes today often sell for more than the list price. In some cases, they sell for a lot more.
According to Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at the National Association of Realtors (NAR):
“For every listing there are 5.1 offers. Half of the homes are being sold above list price.”
You may need to change the way you look at the asking price of a home.
In this market, you likely can’t shop for a home with the former approach of negotiating to a lower price.
Due to the low supply of houses for sale, many homes are now being offered in an auction-like atmosphere in which the highest bidder wins the home. In an actual auction, the seller of an item agrees to take the highest bid, and many sellers set a reserve price on the item they’re selling. A reserve price is the minimum amount a seller will accept as the winning bid.
When navigating a competitive housing market, think of the list price of the house as the reserve price at an auction. It’s the minimum the seller will accept in many cases. Today, the asking price is often becoming the floor of the negotiation rather than the ceiling. Therefore, if you really love a home, know that it may ultimately sell for more than the sellers are asking. So, as you’re navigating the homebuying process, make sure you know your budget, know what you can afford, and work with a trusted advisor who can help you make all the right moves as you buy a home.
Someone who’s more familiar with the housing market of the past than that of today may think it’s foolish to offer more for a home than the listing price. However, frequent and competitive bidding wars are creating an auction-like atmosphere in many real estate transactions right now. Let’s connect today so you have a trusted real estate professional on your side to provide the best advice on how to make a competitive offer on a home.
June 7, 2021
Why You May Want To Cash in on Your Second Home
When stay-at-home mandates were enforced last year, many households realized their homes didn’t really fulfill their new lifestyle needs. An office (in some cases two), a media room, space for children to learn, a gym, and a large yard are all examples of amenities that became highly desirable almost overnight.
Zelman & Associates recently reported that sales of primary residences grew by 9% in 2020. That increase in demand was met by the lowest supply of homes for sale in history. High demand and low supply caused prices to skyrocket over the past twelve months. Here are three home price indexes released most recently that show how home values have risen:
Prices increased by double digits in every region of the country and in 19 of 20 major metros. Chicago was the only exception, where prices still rose by 9%.
What does this mean to those who purchased a second home during the pandemic?
Many people didn’t want to give up a home in the city or close to their office. Instead, they purchased a larger second home farther away and moved there to stay safe and have more space. According to the same Zelman report, sales for second homes rose an astonishing 27% in 2020.
That large second-home retreat on a lake or in the mountains would demand a higher price than the average house. Let’s assume a buyer purchased such a home for $500,000. Assuming the middle 13.2% appreciation shown above, that home would now be worth about $566,000.
Those who bought second homes to improve their lifestyle during the height of the pandemic, or those who just wanted to be in a safer environment, also made a great investment.
What should these homeowners do now as the pandemic is receding, and the economy is reopening?
The buyers of those second homes now have a decision to make. Many will move back to the original home they still own (the one that’s closer to work, friends, and family). Should they keep the second home? That could depend on answers to questions like these:
- Now that you may have to go back to the office (at least a few days a week) and students are required to physically attend school, would you still use the second house enough to warrant the expenses of an additional home?
- Would you go to the second home on most weekends, or would you return to the movie theater, attend sporting events, eat out at fine restaurants, or spend your time traveling again?
If you purchased a larger second home during the pandemic, you were able to make day-to-day life much easier for those important to you. You also made it much safer. However, with those goals already accomplished, you now need to decide whether to continue paying the extra expenses or sell the house and cash in your profit. If you decide selling makes sense, let’s connect today to discuss the value of your second home.
June 4, 2021
Dreaming of a Bigger Home? Why Not Buy It This Year?
Are you clamoring for extra rooms or a more functional floorplan in your house? Maybe it’s time to make a move. If you’ll be able to work remotely for the long-term or your overall needs have simply changed, it’s a great time to sell your house and move up. Why? With mortgage rates in their favor and higher-priced home sales powering more moves across the country, sellers in today’s market are finding the space they need (and have always dreamed of) by purchasing a home in the upper end of the housing market.
With so few homes available for sale and high demand from today’s homebuyers, sellers are profiting in major ways this season. Bidding wars are gaining traction, driving up the sale price of more and more homes throughout the country. This means sellers are able to leverage extra cash from higher-priced sales while also taking advantage of today’s low mortgage rates when they purchase their next home. It’s the perfect scenario to move up into a true dream home. According to the April Luxury Market Report from the Institute for Luxury Home Marketing:
“The Institute’s recent analysis of sales in 2020 for homes over 5,000 square feet support the continuing preference for larger homes. The analysis determined that there was a 17% increase in the number of 5,000+ sq ft homes sold when compared to the number of sales in 2019.
Luxury home prices continue to see record highs in the majority of affluent ex-urban communities, as the influence of being able to work from home is still driving buyers away from living in high density areas. Low interest rates also remain in play, allowing buyers to realize the affordability of owning a larger property, which further reinforces this trend.”
Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist for the National Association of Realtors (NAR), also explains:
“The market is hot pretty much everywhere and across all price points . . . The only area where there is sufficient inventory is in $1 million-plus homes . . . .”
While this price range certainly doesn’t fit every budget, if it’s in your reach this summer, you may want to make your move sooner rather than later. Today, more homes are available in this segment of the market, but as the report mentions, more buyers are investing here too, so competition may heat up sooner rather than later.
If you’re planning to sell your current home to move into a larger one, let’s connect today. We’ll discuss your current situation and the opportunities in our local market.
June 2, 2021
What’s Motivating People To Move Right Now?
This year, Americans are moving for a variety of reasons. The health crisis has truly reshaped our lifestyles and our needs. Spending so much more time in our current homes has driven many people to reconsider what homeownership means and what they find most valuable in their living spaces.
According to the 2020 Annual National Movers Study:
“For customers who cited COVID-19 as an influence on their move in 2020, the top reasons associated with COVID-19 were concerns for personal and family health and wellbeing (60%); desires to be closer to family (59%); 57% moved due to changes in employment status or work arrangement (including the ability to work remotely); and 53% desired a lifestyle change or improvement of quality of life.”
With a new perspective on homeownership, here are some of the reasons people are reconsidering where they live and making moves right now.
1. Working from Home
Remote work became the new norm, and for some, it’s persisting longer than initially expected. Many in the workforce today are discovering they don’t need to live so close to the office anymore and they can get more for their money if they move a little further outside the city limits. Apartment List notes:
“The COVID pandemic has sparked a rebound in residential migration: survey data suggest that 16 percent of American workers moved between April 2020 and April 2021, up from 14 percent in 2019 and the first increase in migration in over a decade… One of the major drivers in this trend is remote work, which expanded greatly in response to COVID and will remain prevalent even after the pandemic wanes. No longer tethered to a physical job site, remote workers were 53 percent more likely to move this past year than on-site workers.”
If you’ve tried to convert your guest room or your dining room into a home office with minimal success, it may be time to find a larger home. The reality is, your current house may not be optimally designed for this kind of space, making remote work very challenging.
2. Room for Fitness & Activities
Staying healthy and active is a top priority for many Americans, and dreams of having space for a home gym are growing stronger. A recent survey of 4,538 active adults from 122 countries noted the three fastest-growing fitness trends amongst active adults:
- At-home fitness equipment (up 50%)
- Personal trainers/nutritionists (up 48%)
- Online fitness courses, classes, and subscriptions (up 17%)
Having room to maintain a healthy lifestyle at home – physically and mentally – may prompt you to consider a new place to live that includes space for at-home workouts, hobbies, and activities for your household.
3. Outdoor Space
Better Homes & Gardens recently released the outdoor living trends for this year, and three of them are:
- Outdoor Kitchens: 60% of homeowners are looking to add outdoor kitchens.
- Edible Garden: Millions of people began gardening during the pandemic . . . to supplement pantries with homegrown fruits, vegetables, and herbs.
- Secluded Spaces: As outdoor activity increases, so does the need for privacy.
You may not, however, currently have the space you need for these designated areas – inside or out.
If you’re clamoring for more room to accommodate your changing needs, making a move may be your best bet, especially while you can take advantage of today’s low mortgage rates. It’s a great time to get more home for your money, just when you need it most.
June 1, 2021
6 Reasons to Celebrate National Homeownership Month
Our homes are so much more than the houses we live in. For many, they’ve also become our workplaces, schools for our children, and safe harbors in which we’ve weathered the toughest moments of a global pandemic. Today, 65.6% of Americans call their homes their own, a rate that has risen to its highest point in 8 years.
As National Homeownership Month kicks off this June, homeowners have every reason to celebrate. A survey by Gallup just ranked real estate as the best investment you can make for the eighth year in a row. However, unlike other investment options, the benefits of owning a home aren’t purely financial. Here are the top ways Americans are winning by owning a home.
1. Civic Participation: Owning a home is owning a part of your neighborhood. Homeowners have a stronger connection to their neighborhoods and are more committed to volunteer work and other ways to get involved.
2. Pride of Ownership: Owning a home is having a space that is uniquely yours. You can customize it to your personal liking and make it reflect your personality and values.
3. A Safe Space: Owning a home gives you a sense of security and privacy – two things that have become even more valuable as we’ve tackled the challenges of the recent health crisis.
1. Forced Savings: Owning a home builds equity. Your equity grows with each payment you make toward your mortgage. This form of forced savings can be used down the road to help you accomplish your biggest financial goals.
2. Appreciation: Owning a home is making an investment that steadily gains value, and experts project home values will continue to rise in the years to come.
3. Stability: Owning a home means having better control over your future housing payments. Over the years, a mortgage stays relatively steady, but rent costs continue to rise.
If you own your home, take time this June to celebrate the ways homeownership has added value to your life. If you hope to become a homeowner this year, let’s connect today to take the first steps toward achieving your goal.
May 21, 2021
Americans See Real Estate as a Better Investment Than Stocks or Gold
Last month, in a post on the Liberty Street Economics blog, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York noted that Americans believe buying a home is definitely or probably a better investment than buying stocks. Last week, a Gallup Poll reaffirmed those findings.
In an article on the current real estate market, Gallup reports:
“Gallup usually finds that Americans regard real estate as the best long-term investment among several options -- seeing it as superior to stocks, gold, savings accounts and bonds. This year, 41% choose real estate as the best investment, up from 35% a year ago, with stocks a distant second.”
Here’s the breakdown:
The article goes on to say:
“The 41% choosing real estate is the highest selecting any of the five investment options in the 11 years Gallup has asked this question.”
Is real estate really a secure investment right now?
Some question American confidence in real estate as a good long-term investment right now. They fear that the build-up in home values may be mirroring what happened right before the housing crash a little more than a decade ago. However, according to Merrill Lynch, J.P. Morgan, Morgan Stanley, and Goldman Sachs, the current real estate market is strong and sustainable.
As Morgan Stanley explains to their clients in a recent Thoughts on the Market podcast:
“Unlike 15 years ago, the euphoria in today's home prices comes down to the simple logic of supply and demand. And we at Morgan Stanley conclude that this time the sector is on a sustainably, sturdy foundation . . . . This robust demand and highly challenged supply, along with tight mortgage lending standards, may continue to bode well for home prices. Higher interest rates and post pandemic moves could likely slow the pace of appreciation, but the upward trajectory remains very much on course.”
America’s belief in the long-term investment value of homeownership has been, is, and will always be, very strong.
May 20, 2021
Don’t Forget to Budget for Closing Costs
When buying a home, it’s important to have a budget and make sure you plan ahead for certain homebuying expenses. Saving for a down payment is the main cost that comes to mind for many, but budgeting for the closing costs required to get a mortgage is just as important.
What Are Closing Costs?
According to Trulia:
“When you close on a home, a number of fees are due. They typically range from 2% to 5% of the total cost of the home, and can include title insurance, origination fees, underwriting fees, document preparation fees, and more.”
For example, for someone buying a $300,000 home, they could potentially have between $6,000 and $15,000 in closing fees. If you’re in the market for a home above this price range, your closing costs could be greater. As mentioned above, closing costs are typically between 2% and 5% of your purchase price.
Trulia gives more great advice, explaining:
“There will be lots of paperwork in front of you on closing day, and not enough time to read them all. Work closely with your real estate agent, lender, and attorney, if you have one, to get all the documents you need ahead of time.
The most important thing to read is the closing disclosure, which shows your loan terms, final closing costs, and any outstanding fees. You’ll get this form about three days before closing since, once you (the borrower) sign it, there’s a three-day waiting period before you can sign the mortgage loan docs. If you have any questions about the numbers or what any of the mortgage terms mean, this is the time to ask—your real estate agent is a great resource for getting you all the answers you need.”
As home prices are rising and more buyers are finding themselves competing in bidding wars, it’s more important than ever to make sure your plan includes budgeting for closing costs. Let’s connect to be sure you have everything you need to land your dream home.
May 19, 2021
Your House Could Be the Oasis in an Inventory Desert
Homebuyers are flooding the housing market right now to take advantage of record-low mortgage rates. Many have a sense of urgency to find a home soon since experts forecast a steady rise in both rates and home prices this year and next. As a result, buyer demand greatly outweighs the current housing supply. Here’s how the shortage of houses for sale sets yours up to be the oasis in an inventory desert.
According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), today’s housing inventory sits at an incredibly low 2.1-month supply, far below the 6-month mark for a neutral market. Inventory of single-family homes a year ago was already very low, and as you can see in the graph below, this year’s levels are even lower:Due to these market conditions, today’s buyers frequently enter fierce bidding wars while trying to purchase a home. This in turn drives up home prices and gives sellers incredible leverage in the negotiation process, two big wins if you’re going to sell your house this year.
In such a hot market, it can feel as though the supply of homes has virtually dried up, leaving buyers to wander in an inventory desert. That’s why there’s never been a better time to sell. To a parched buyer needing to secure a home as soon as possible, your house could be a true oasis.
May 7, 2021
Why Waiting to Buy a Home Could Cost You a Small Fortune
Many people are sitting on the fence trying to decide if now’s the time to buy a home. Some are renters who have a strong desire to become homeowners but are unsure if buying right now makes sense. Others may be homeowners who are realizing that their current home no longer fits their changing needs.
To determine if they should buy now or wait another year, they both need to ask two simple questions:
- Do I think home values will be higher a year from now?
- Do I think mortgage rates will be higher a year from now?
Let’s shed some light on the answers to these questions.
Where will home prices be a year from now?
If you average the most recent projections from the major industry forecasters, the expectation is home prices will increase by 7.7%. Let’s take a house that’s valued today at $325,000 as an example.
If the buyer makes a 10% down payment ($32,500), they’ll end up borrowing $292,500 for their mortgage. Applying the projected rate of home price appreciation, that same house will cost $350,025 next year. With a 10% down payment ($35,003), they’d then have to borrow $315,022.
Therefore, as a result of rising home prices alone, a prospective buyer will have to put down an additional $2,503 and borrow an additional $22,523 just for waiting a year to make their move.
Where will mortgage rates be a year from now?
Today, mortgage rates are hovering around 3%. However, most experts believe they’ll rise as the economy continues to recover. Any increase in the mortgage rate will also increase a purchaser’s cost. Here are the forecasts for the first quarter of 2022 from four major entities:
The projections average out to 3.6% among these four forecasts, a jump up from where they are today.
What does it mean to you if home values and mortgage rates increase?
A buyer will pay a lot more in mortgage payments each month if both of these variables increase. Assuming a buyer purchases a $325,000 home this year with a 30-year fixed-rate loan at 3% after making a 10% down payment, their monthly principal and interest payment would be $1,233.
That same home one year from now could be $350,025, and the mortgage rate could be 3.6% (based on the industry forecasts mentioned above). That monthly principal and interest payment, after putting down 10%, totals $1,432.
The difference in the monthly mortgage payment would be $199. That’s $2,388 more per year and $71,640 over the life of the loan.
Add to that the approximately $25,000 a house with a similar value would build in home equity this year as a result of home price appreciation, and the total net worth increase a purchaser could gain by buying this year is nearly $100,000. That’s a small fortune.
When asking if they should buy a home, many potential buyers think of the nonfinancial benefits of owning a home. When asking when to buy, the financial benefits make it clear that doing so now is much more advantageous than waiting until next year.
May 5, 2021
Are Interest Rates Expected to Rise Over the Next Year?
May 4, 2021
So far this year, mortgage rates continue to hover around 3%, encouraging many hopeful homebuyers to enter the housing market. However, there’s a good chance rates will increase later this year and going into 2022, ultimately making it more expensive to borrow money for a home loan. Here’s a look at what several experts have to say.
“Our long-term view for mortgage rates in 2021 is higher. As the economic outlook strengthens, thanks to progress against coronavirus and vaccines plus a dose of stimulus from the government, this pushes up expectations for economic growth . . . .”
“In 2021, I think rates will be similar or modestly higher . . . mortgage rates will continue to be historically favorable.”
“We forecast that mortgage rates will continue to rise through the end of next year. We estimate the 30-year fixed mortgage rate will average 3.4% in the fourth quarter of 2021, rising to 3.8% in the fourth quarter of 2022.”
Below are the most recent mortgage rate forecasts from four top authorities – Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), and NAR:
If you’re planning to buy a home, purchasing before mortgage interest rates rise may help you save significantly over the life of your home loan.
4 Big Incentives for Homeowners to Sell Now
The housing market keeps sailing along. The only headwind that could take it off course is the lack of inventory for sale. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reports that there were 410,000 fewer single-family homes for sale this March than in March of 2020. The key to continued success in the residential housing market is for more listings to come on the market. However, many homeowners are concerned that selling their homes could be challenging for several reasons.
Recently, Homes.com released the findings of a survey that identified these concerns, as well as what it will take for homeowners to feel comfortable selling their houses. Here are the four major homeowner concerns and a quick explanation of what’s actually happening in the housing market today.
1. Homeowners don’t know if they’ll be able to secure their next home before selling.
In negotiations, leverage is the power that one side may have to influence the other side while moving closer to their negotiating position. A party’s leverage is based on the ability to award benefits or eliminate costs on the other side.
In today’s market, buyers have compelling reasons to purchase a home now:
- To own a home of their own
- To buy before prices continue to appreciate
- To secure a mortgage at a historically low rate, while they last
These buyer needs give the seller tremendous leverage. Most already realize this leverage enables the homeowner to sell at a good price. However, this leverage may also be used to negotiate time to find their next home. The homeowner could sell their home to the buyer at today’s price, which will enable the purchaser to take advantage of current mortgage rates. In return, the buyer might lease the house back to the seller for a pre-determined length of time while the seller finds a new home or has one built.
This gives the buyer what they want while also giving the seller what they need. It’s a true win-win negotiation.
2. Homeowners don’t know if their current home will sell for the asking price or top market price.
This is the perfect time to maximize profits while selling a house. NAR just released a study showing that bidding wars are at an all-time high. The study reveals that when comparing the first quarter of last year to the first quarter of this year, the number of offers on homes for sale doubled from an average of 2.4 to 4.8 offers.
Whenever there’s a bidding war, the price of the item for sale escalates. Bloomberg recently reported:
“For the first time ever, the average U.S. home is selling for above its list price.”
If a seller is looking for a top-dollar sale, there’s no better time to sell than right now.
3. Homeowners don’t know if they will get an offer without their home requiring work or updates.
Again, leverage is the greatest strength a seller has in this market. Due to the lack of homes for sale, many buyers are more willing to take on home improvement projects themselves in order to get the home they’re after.
A recent post on whether or not to renovate before selling notes:
“It may be wise to let future homeowners remodel the bathroom or the kitchen to make design decisions that are best for their specific taste and lifestyle. As a seller, your dollars and time might be better spent working on small cosmetic updates, like refreshing some paint and power washing the exterior. Instead of over-investing in your home with upgrades that the buyers may change anyway, work with a real estate professional to determine the key projects that will maximize your listing, without overdoing it.”
If a seller is worried about doing work or updates on their home, they must realize that today’s historically low inventory likely renders these projects less critical to the sale of the house.
4. Homeowners don’t know if they can have a quick closing process.
When speed is important, there are two points sellers should look at:
- The time it takes to find a buyer for the home
- The time it takes to close the transaction
In the latest Existing Home Sales Report, NAR explains:
“Properties typically remained on the market for 18 days in March, down from 20 days in February and from 29 days in March 2020. Eighty-three percent of the homes sold in March 2021 were on the market for less than a month.”
Eighteen days is fast, and it’s a new record. Here are the days the average house is on the market in each state:Regarding the time it will take to close the transaction, all-cash sales accounted for 23% of all home purchase transactions in March. All-cash sales can usually be closed in thirty days.
If a mortgage is necessary, the most recent Origination Insight Report from Ellie Mae shows:
“Time to close all loans decreased in March. The average time to close a purchase fell to 51 days, down from 53 the month prior.”
If you’re looking for a quick closing process, there’s never been a market in which the two-step process (finding a buyer and closing the deal) has taken less time.
Selling your house can be daunting, especially in a fast-paced market. However, the fact that we’re in such a strong sellers’ market clearly eliminates many common concerns. Let’s connect today so you can learn more about the opportunities for homeowners who are ready to sell.
March 10, 2021
Home Prices: What Happened in 2020? What Will Happen This Year?
The real estate market was on fire during the second half of 2020. Buyer demand was way up, and the supply of homes available for sale hit record lows. The price of anything is determined by the supply and demand ratio, so home prices skyrocketed last year. Dr. Lynn Fisher, Deputy Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) Division of Research and Statistics, explains:
“House prices nationwide recorded the largest annual and quarterly increase in the history of the FHFA Home Price Index. Low mortgage rates, pent up demand from homebuyers, and a limited housing supply propelled every region of the country to experience faster growth in 2020 compared to a year ago despite the pandemic.”
Here are the year-end home price appreciation numbers from the FHFA and two other prominent pricing indexes:
The past year was truly a remarkable time for homeowners as prices appreciated substantially. Lawrence Yun, Senior Economist at the National Association of Realtors (NAR), reveals:
“A typical homeowner in 2020, just by being a homeowner, would have accumulated around $24,000 in housing wealth.”
What will happen with home prices this year?
Many experts believe buyer demand will soften somewhat as mortgage rates are poised to bump up slightly. Some also believe the inventory challenge will ease as more listings come to market this year.
Based on this, most forecasters anticipate we’ll see strong appreciation in 2021 – but not as strong as last year. Here are seven prominent groups and their projections:
Home price appreciation will be strong this year, but it won’t reach the historic levels of 2020. Let’s connect if you’d like to find out what your house is currently worth in our local market.
February 24, 2021
How Much Leverage Do Today’s House Sellers Have?
The housing market has been scorching hot over the last twelve months. Buyers and their high demand have far outnumbered sellers and a short supply of houses. According to the latest Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), sales are up 23.7% from the same time last year while the inventory of homes available for sale is down 25.7%. There are 360,000 fewer single-family homes for sale today than there were at this time last year. This increase in demand coupled with such limited supply is leading to more bidding wars throughout the country.
Rose Quint, Assistant Vice President for Survey Research with the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), recently reported:
“The number one reason long-time searchers haven’t made a home purchase is not because of their inability to find an affordably-priced home, but because they continue to get outbid by other offers.”
A survey in the NAHB report showed that 40% of buyers have been outbid for a home they wanted to purchase. This is more than twice the percentage in 2019, which was 19%.
What does this mean for sellers today?
It means sellers have tremendous leverage when negotiating with buyers.
In negotiations, leverage is the power that one side may have to influence the other side while moving closer to their negotiating position. A party's leverage is based on its ability to award benefits or eliminate costs on the other side.
In today’s market, a buyer wants three things:
- To buy a home
- To buy now before prices continue to appreciate
- To buy now and take advantage of historically low mortgage rates while they last
These three buyer needs give the homeowner tremendous leverage when selling their house. Most realize this leverage enables the seller to sell at a good price. However, there may be another need the seller has that can be satisfied by using this leverage.
Here’s an example:
Odeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist at First American, recently identified a situation in which many sellers are finding themselves today:
“As mortgage rates are expected to remain near 3%, millennials continue to form households and more existing homeowners tap their equity for the purchase of a better home…Many homeowners may want to upgrade, but do not for fear that they will be unable to find a home to buy.”
She then offers a possible solution:
“While the fear of not being able to find something to buy will not disappear in a limited supply environment, new housing supply can incentivize existing homeowners to move.”
There’s no doubt many sellers would love to build a new home to perfectly fit their changing wants and needs. However, most builders require that they sell their house first. If the seller sells their home, where would they live while their new home is being constructed?
Going back to the concept of leverage:
As mentioned, buyers have compelling reasons to purchase a home now, and many homeowners have challenges to address if they want to sell. Perhaps they can make a deal to satisfy each party’s needs. But how?
The seller may decide to sell their home to the buyer at today’s price, which will enable the purchaser to take advantage of current mortgage rates. In return, the buyer might lease the house back to the seller for a pre-determined length of time while the seller’s new home is being built. A true win-win negotiation.
Not every buyer will agree to such a deal – but you only need one.
That’s just one example of how a seller might be able to overcome a challenge because of the leverage they have in today’s market. Maybe you feel a need to make certain repairs before selling. Perhaps you need time to get permits or approvals for certain upgrades you made to the house. Whatever the challenge, you may be able to work it out.
If you’re considering selling your house now but worry a huge obstacle stands in your way, let's connect. Maybe with the leverage you currently have, you can negotiate a deal that will allow you to make the move of your dreams.
February 17, 2021
3 Ways Home Equity Can Have a Major Impact on Your Life
There have been a lot of headlines reporting on how homeowner equity (the difference between the current market value of your home and the amount you owe on your mortgage) has dramatically increased over the past few years. CoreLogic indicated that equity increased for the average homeowner by $17,000 in the last year alone. ATTOM Data Solutions, in their latest U.S. Home Equity Report, revealed that 30.2% of the 59 million mortgaged homes in the United States have at least 50% equity. That doesn’t even include the 38% of homes that are owned free and clear, meaning they don’t have a mortgage at all.
How can equity help a household?
Having equity in your home can dramatically impact your life. Equity is like a savings account you can tap into when you need cash. Like any other savings, you should be sensible in how you use it, though. Here are three good reasons to consider using your equity.
1. You’re experiencing financial hardship (job loss, medical expenses, etc.)
Equity gives you options during difficult financial times. With equity, you could refinance your house to get cash which may ease the burden. It also puts you in a better position to talk to the bank about restructuring your home loan until you can get back on your feet.
Today, there are 2.7 million Americans who are currently in a forbearance program because of the pandemic. Ninety percent of those in the program have at least 10% equity. That puts them in a better position to get a loan modification instead of facing foreclosure because many banks will see the equity as a form of collateral in a new deal. If you’re in this position, even if you can’t get a modification, the equity allows you the option to sell your house and walk away with your equity instead of losing the house and your investment in it.
2. You need money to start a new business
We’ve all heard the stories about how many great American companies started in the founder’s garage (i.e., Disney, Hewlett Packard, Apple, Yankee Candle, Keeping Current Matters). What we might not realize, however, is the garage (along with the rest of the home) supplied the start-up money for many of these companies in the form of a refinance.
If you’re passionate about an idea you have for a new product or service, the equity in your home may enable you to make that dream a reality.
3. You want to invest in a loved one’s future
It’s been a long-standing tradition in this country for many households to help pay college expenses for their children. Some have tapped into the equity in their homes to do that.
Additionally, George Ratiu, Senior Economist for realtor.com, notes:
“52% of Americans who bought their first home in 2020 said they got help with their down payment from friends or family. The number one lender? Their parents.”
It’s safe to assume a percentage of that down payment money likely came from home equity.
Savings in any form is a good thing. The forced savings you can earn from making a mortgage payment enables you to build wealth through home equity. That equity can come in handy in both good and more challenging times.
February 11, 2021
What Record-Low Housing Inventory Means for You
The real estate market is expected to do very well in 2021, with mortgage rates that are hovering at historic lows and forecasted by experts to remain favorable throughout the year. One challenge to the housing industry, however, is the lack of homes available for sale today. Last week, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) released their Existing Home Sales Report, which shows that the inventory of homes for sale is currently at an all-time low. The report explains:
“Total housing inventory at the end of December totaled 1.07 million units, down 16.4% from November and down 23% from one year ago (1.39 million). Unsold inventory sits at an all-time low 1.9-month supply at the current sales pace, down from 2.3 months in November and down from the 3.0-month figure recorded in December 2019. NAR first began tracking the single-family home supply in 1982.”
(See graph below):
What Does This Mean for You?
If You’re a Buyer:
Be patient during your home search. It may take time to find a home you love. Once you do, however, be ready to move forward quickly. Get pre-approved for a mortgage, be prepared to make a competitive offer from the start, and know that a shortage in inventory could mean you’ll enter a bidding war. Calculate just how far you’re willing to go to secure a home and lean on your real estate professional as an expert guide along the way. The good news is, more inventory is likely headed to the market soon, Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at NAR, notes:
"To their credit, homebuilders and construction companies have increased efforts to build, with housing starts hitting an annual rate of near 1.7 million in December, with more focus on single-family homes…However, it will take vigorous new home construction in 2021 and in 2022 to adequately furnish the market to properly meet the demand."
If You’re a Seller:
Realize that, in some ways, you’re in the driver’s seat. When there’s a shortage of an item at the same time there’s a strong demand for it, the seller is in a good position to negotiate the best possible terms. Whether it’s the price, moving date, possible repairs, or anything else, you’ll be able to request more from a potential purchaser at a time like this – especially if you have multiple interested buyers. Don’t be unreasonable, but understand you probably have the upper hand.
The housing market will remain strong throughout 2021. Know what that means for you, whether you’re buying, selling, or doing both.
February 10, 2021
Why Owning a Home Is a Powerful Financial Decision
In today’s housing market, there are clear financial benefits to owning a home: increasing equity, the chance to build your net worth, and appreciating home values, just to name a few. If you’re a renter, it’s never too early to think about how homeownership can propel you toward a stronger future. Here’s a dive into three often-overlooked financial benefits of homeownership and how preparing for them now can steer you in the direction of greater financial security and savings.
1. You Won’t Always Have a Monthly Housing Payment
Personal finance advisor Dave Ramsey explains:
“Every payment brings you closer to owning the house. When you pay your rent, that money is spent. Gone. Bye. Not returning. But when you pay your mortgage, you work toward full ownership.”
As a homeowner, you can eventually eliminate the monthly payment you make on your house. That’s a huge win and a big factor in how homeownership can drive stability and savings in your life. As soon as you buy a home, your monthly housing costs begin to work for you as forced savings in the form of equity. When you build equity and grow your net worth, you can continue to reinvest those savings into your future, maybe even by buying that next dream home. The possibilities are truly endless.
2. Homeownership Is a Tax Break
One thing people who have never owned a home don’t always think about are the tax advantages of homeownership. The same article states:
“You have tax advantages. Many of the costs of owning a home—like property taxes—are tax-deductible. And if you’re paying off a mortgage, you’ll get to count your mortgage interest as a deduction when you file your tax return.”
Whether you’re living in your first home or your fifth, it’s a huge financial advantage to have some tax relief tied to the interest you pay each year. It’s one thing you definitely don’t get when you’re renting. Be sure to work with a tax professional to get the best possible benefits on your annual return.
3. Monthly Housing Costs Are Predictable
A third benefit is the fact that monthly costs start to become more predictable with homeownership, something that doesn’t happen if you’re renting. Ramsey also notes:
“Rent rates will go up. Even if you found a killer deal in a hot area, inflation, competition, and rising property values will cause your rent to go up year after year.”
With a mortgage, you can keep your monthly housing costs relatively steady and predictable. Your monthly costs are most likely based on a fixed-rate mortgage, which allows you to budget your finances over a longer period of time. Rental prices have been skyrocketing since 2012, and with today’s low mortgage rates, it’s a great time to get more for your money when purchasing a home. If you want to lock-in your monthly payment at a low rate and have a solid understanding of what you’re going to spend in your mortgage payment each month, buying a home may be your best bet.
If you’re ready to start feeling the benefits of stability, savings, and predictability that come with owning a home, let’s connect to determine if buying sooner rather than later is right for you.
January 9, 2021
Is This the Year to Sell My House?
December 11, 2020
If one of the questions you’re asking yourself is, “Should I sell my house this year?” consumer sentiment about selling today should boost your confidence in the right direction. Even with the current health crisis that continues to challenge our nation, Americans still feel good about selling a house. Here’s why.
According to the latest Home Purchase Sentiment Index from Fannie Mae, 57% of consumer respondents to their survey indicate now is a good time to buy a home, while 59% feel it’s a good time to sell one:
“The percentage of respondents who say it is a good time to sell a home remained the same at 59%, while the percentage who say it’s a bad time to sell decreased from 35% to 33%. As a result, the net share of those who say it is a good time to sell increased 2 percentage points month over month.”
As you can see, many still believe that, despite everything going on in the world, it is still a good time to sell a house.
Why is now a good time to sell?
There simply are not enough homes available to meet today’s buyer demand, and they’re selling just as quickly as they’re coming to the market. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), unsold inventory available today sits at a 2.3-month supply at the current sales pace, which is down from a 2.5-month supply from the previous month. This record-low inventory is not even half of what we need for a normal or neutral housing market, which should have a 6.0-month supply of unsold inventory to balance out.
With so few homes available for buyers to choose from, we’re in a true sellers’ market. Homeowners ready to make a move right now have the opportunity to negotiate the best possible contracts with buyers who are feeling the pull of intense competition when it comes to finding their dream home. Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist for NAR, notes how quickly homes are selling right now, further confirming the benefits to sellers this season:
"The market is incredibly swift this winter with the listed homes going under contract on average at less than a month due to a backlog of buyers wanting to take advantage of record-low mortgage rates."
However, this sweet spot for sellers won’t last forever. As more homes are listed this year, this tip toward sellers may start to wane. According to Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at realtor.com, more choices for buyers are on the not-too-distant horizon:
“The bright spot for buyers is that more homes are likely to become available in the last six months of 2021. That should give folks more options to choose from and take away some of their urgency. With a larger selection, buyers may not be forced to make a decision in mere hours and will have more time to make up their minds.”
If you’re ready to make a move, you can feel good about the current sentiment in the market and the advantageous conditions for today’s sellers. Let’s connect today to determine the best next step when it comes to selling your house this year.
Why It Makes Sense to Sell Your House This Holiday Season
If you’re one of the many homeowners thinking about taking your house off the market for the holidays, hang on. You definitely don’t want to miss the great selling opportunity you have right now. Here’s why this month is the optimal time to make sure your house is available for holiday buyers.
The latest Existing Home Sales Report from The National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows the inventory of houses for sale has dropped to an astonishing all-time low. It now sits at a 2.5-month supply at the current sales pace.
Historically, a 6-month supply is necessary for a ‘normal’ or ‘neutral’ market, in which there are enough homes available for active buyers (See graph below):When the supply of houses for sale is as low as it is today, it’s much harder for buyers to find homes to purchase. This means competition among purchasers rises and more bidding wars take place, making it essential for buyers to submit very attractive offers.
As this happens, prices rise and sellers are in the best position to negotiate deals that meet their ideal terms. So, if your neighbors decide to remove their listings this season, your house may quickly rise to the top of a holiday buyer’s wish list if you stay on the market.
Today, there are many buyers who are ready, willing, and able to purchase. Record-low mortgage rates and a year filled with unique changes have prompted buyers to think differently about where they live and to take action. The supply of homes for sale is not keeping up with this high demand, making now the optimal time to sell your house.
Home prices are appreciating in today’s sellers’ market. Making your home available over the next few weeks will give you the most exposure to buyers who will be actively competing against each other to purchase it.
November 6, 2020
WHICH DOWN PAYMENT STRATEGY IS RIGHT FOR YOU?
You’ve most likely heard the rule: Save for a 20-percent down payment before you buy a home. The logic behind saving 20 percent is solid, as it shows that you have the financial discipline and stability to save for a long-term goal. It also helps you get favorable rates from lenders. But there can actually be financial benefits to putting down a small down payment - as low as three percent - rather than parting with so much cash upfront, even if you have the money available.
The national average for home appreciation is about five percent. The appreciation is independent from your home payment, so whether you put down 20 percent or three percent, the increase in equity is the same. If you're looking at your home as an investment, putting down a smaller amount can lead to a higher return on investment, while also leaving more of your savings free for home repairs, upgrades, or other investment opportunities.
The downsides of a small down payment are pretty well known. You'll have to pay Private Mortgage Insurance for years, and the lower your down payment, the more you'll pay. You'll be offered a lesser loan amount than borrowers who have a 20-percent down payment, which will eliminate some homes from your search.
THE HAPPY MEDIUM
Of course, your home payment options aren't binary. Most borrowers can find some common ground between the security of a traditional twenty percent and an investment-focused, small down payment. Your trusted real estate professional can provide some answers as you explore your financing options.
October 23, 2020
The Best Advice - Get Pre-Approved
Most real estate agents and lenders highly recommend that you, as a home buyer, get pre-approved with a lender before selecting a home to purchase. This way, you will have the best information about the right price range for your pocketbook. Here are nine great reasons to get pre-approved before you start looking for the house of your dreams.
1. Pre-approval determines which loan program best fits your needs.
2. You won't waste your time getting emotionally attached to homes you cannot afford.
3. You are ready to write and present an offer on the home you really want when you find it.
4. Your buyer specialist broker can give a pre-approval letter for you.
5. In today's market, with multiple offers on properties, pre-approval puts you in a much better negotiating position.
6. You will know the amount needed for down-payment and closing costs.
7. If you are a first-time buyer, you may be able to qualify for a special first-time buyer program that may allow you to afford more home for your money.
8. If you feel you would like and can afford a higher mortgage payment other options may be available.
9. Peace of Mind
October 9, 2020
September 25, 2020
A HEADS UP WHILE BUYING A HOUSE - COSTS TO BE AWARE OF
With interest rates being at an all-time low, it is the prime time to buy a home. Before jumping into it, it is smart to go into the home buying process with some knowledge. One of those things to be aware of is what costs you will have on top of the actual purchase of the home. Here are five expenditures to keep in mind as you are budgeting for your new home.
1) Home Inspection - This is a crucial step as you are buying your home. The findings that come from the inspection can help you negotiate price and repairs. Generally, you can expect to pay between $300 to $500 depending on the home and the location.
2) Title Services - Title services encompass the transfer of the title from the seller and a thorough search of the property's records to ensure that no one will pop up with a claim to the property. Additionally, you may need to buy title insurance which will protect the lender or your investment in the home.
3) Appraisal fee - Before getting a loan, you will likely be required to get an appraisal of the home to determine its estimated value. This will be conducted by a third-party company and the cost can land anywhere between $300 and $1000, depending on the size of the home.
4) HOA fees - Many communities have a homeowners' association that enforces monthly fees. This money is used for general maintenance and updates to areas like pools, parks, and more. Typical HOA fees are around $200 to $300 per month.
5) Taxes - the taxes each buyer pays at the closing table differ, but it is now uncommon for it to be up to two months' worth of country and city property taxes. Additionally, there may be taxes for the transfer of the home title.
August 5, 2020
To Stage or Not to Stage...
Seven Benefits for Staging Your Home
While decluttering, cleaning, painting, and minor repairs will prepare your home for sale, staging is the process for showcasing your home for sale. Why stage your home? According to a 2011 study conducted by Real Estate Staging Association (RESA) homes that previously failed to sell actually sold in 73% less time after they were professionally staged. Another study done by RESA showed that professionally staged homes sold 79% faster than similar homes that were not staged.
Here are seven benefits to staging your home.
1. Professionally staged homes present and show better than competing houses for sale, including new construction homes and higher-priced houses.
2. Staged properties will sell faster when compared with houses that have not been staged. From the date of listing until the day of closing, home staging shortens this time frame, even in a slow real estate market.
3. Staged properties can increase the number of offers and the selling price in hot markets.
4. Buyers view professionally staged listings as "well-maintained".
5. Buyers' agents recognize that professionally staged listings are "move-in" ready and are inclined to show staged properties.
6. Photos of professionally staged listings look better on the MLS, as well as in print.
7. Professionally staged listings "Stand-Out" in prospective buyers' minds.
(source: Real Estate Staging Association)
July 29, 2020
Eight Common Home Buyer Mistakes and Tips to Avoid Them
Hi, I’m Brian Davis with Eagle Rise Real Estate as many of you know the current real estate market is very competitive right now. There area whole lot of buyers coming into the market and not a lot of real estate inventory available right now. There are a lot of first-time home buyers also in the market. I’ve been very fortunate lately to be able to help a number of first-time home buyers get into their first home. One of the things that I want to address in this particular video is eight common mistakes that first-time home buyers often make and eight tips to avoid making those mistakes.
The first mistake first-time home buyers often make is they start shopping for a house before actually getting pre-approved for a mortgage. This is a critical mistake because it is such a competitive market and houses go so quickly that if you haven’t gotten pre-approved ahead of time the house will actually be gone to another buyer before you are actually able to submit an offer on the house. You need to be able to show the seller that you can afford the house and that you have been approved for the dollar amount that you are making an offer for. So if you wait, you’ll lose it.
The tip to avoid this particular mistake is to get pre-approved by a mortgage broker ahead of time. They’re trained to be able to look at your income and your expenses and determine exactly what your top dollar is that you can get pre-approved for, as well as how much you can actually afford on a monthly basis. This will give you peace of mind when you are actually making that offer, that you can go in with confidence and you can actually give it your best offer that you possibly can if you really want that house.
The second mistake first-time home buyers often make is they use all of their savings to actually purchase the house. They don’t save any money at all in reserves. And all of a sudden, they have some kind of a family emergency or some kind of crisis that is going to require an outlay of money and they don’t have it available to them. That creates tremendous amounts of stress to be able to make that monthly mortgage payment and keep up on things when you have no cash reserves.
The tip to avoiding this particular mistake is to calculate ahead of time the closing costs and the down payment and how much money you are actually going to need to get into the house before you start making those monthly payments. Talk to your real estate broker about some of the first-time home buyer programs that are available. So, you want to make sure you have enough reserves and it is calculated through before you actually make that offer so that not only do you have that peace of mind that you can get into the house but that you can stay in the house.
The third mistake first-time home buyers often make is that they are not decisive. They wait and they’re hesitant and anxious about making that offer. So, they go home and sleep on it and then they get back to their real estate broker the next day and say, “Yes, we definitely want to go with it” and then it’s too late. Somebody else has already made an offer on the house and the house that they really, really want, that they have contemplated and thought about has now gone to somebody else.
The tip to avoiding this particular first-time home buyer mistake is to spend time ahead of time is to spend time evaluating what your wants are and your needs are. Take a close look at a lot of different homes and what they are actually selling for. Also take a close look in terms of how many days on market, how quickly do they come on to the market, and right back off into pending status. So, the solution to this is to spend time and know exactly what you want so that you can pull the trigger when you find it.
The fourth mistake first-time home buyers often make is that they avoid the drawbacks of a particular home or a neighborhood. They fall in love with the house so quickly that they really are blinded to some of the negatives of the neighborhood or the house itself.
The tip to avoiding this particular mistake is two-fold. One, I would encourage you to spend more time finding what’s appealing to you, what are the traffic patterns, how long does it take you to commute into work, what are the schools, restaurants… is this an area that you want to live in? Secondly, as you’re starting to look at houses make a little list of pros and cons of each particular house, things that you like and that you don’t like. That way maybe you fall in love with a house that has a lot of issues and things that are going to need to be addressed that maybe you don’t want in your very first house.
The fifth mistake that first-time home buyers often make is that they get their emotions involved and they get so excited about purchasing a house that they spend more than they should. They actually overpay for their house.
The tip to avoiding this particular home buyer mistake is to spend time consulting with your real estate broker. They’re the expert. They should know. They should be able to put together a comparative market analysis for you, so you see what other like-kind homes are actually selling for and have actually sold for.
Mistake number six that first-time home buyers often make is that don’t do a home inspection. In this competitive market, it can be very tempting to avoid doing a home inspection either for the sake of making a more of an attractive offer to the seller or maybe just to avoid some additional costs at closing. However, it’s very risky not to have a home inspection. Many times, people that haven’t had an inspection, they find out that there are safety concerns or that there are some latent defects in the house. And they get a month or two, or even a year or two into the house, living in the house, and they find out there are all these concerns and all these things could have been avoided by having a home inspection.
Tip: Your real estate broker should be able to provide you a list of highly qualified, licensed home inspectors to be able to come out and do the work for you.
Mistake number seven that first-time home buyers often make is underestimating the costs of repairs or a renovation. They are often, later after they’ve purchased the house very surprised at how much additional money it actually costs to get something fixed that they were not expecting. Tip: So, make sure that you are very thorough during that home inspection period… you get multiple estimates, people out to be able to take a look at it. Even if these are repairs you are planning on doing a year or two after you’ve moved into the house, you still want to make sure you know ahead of time what the cost is for repairing or renovating that particular item of the house.
The eighth and final mistake first-time home buyers often make is applying for credit during the home buying process. Sometimes they will go out and buy a new automobile or buy some new furniture for their new house on credit or just simply apply for a new credit score. All of those things can be very detrimental to getting you the house that you really want. It may make it that you can’t qualify for a loan at all or you might just be qualified for a whole lot less money then you were intending.
The tip to avoiding this particular mistake is don’t use your credit card during the home buying process. It is that simple. Wait until after you’ve actually closed on your house. You can certainly have all those things picked out. You can have your new car picked out, the furniture that you want, you can certainly go shopping. Just don’t use your credit card to purchase it.
Buying your first home as a first-time home buyer can be very exciting. Hopefully, these eight tips will be of benefit to you. If you have any questions at all, consult with a local real estate broker who can guide you through the process and help you avoid any of the pitfalls of buying your first home.
Also, if you have any additional questions about being a first-time home buyer or just real estate questions in general, feel free to follow me on Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram.
June 24, 2020
Difference between Home Insurance & Home Warranty
You have found your dream home and are excited about moving in. Before this happens, you’ll need to understand how to best protect yourself and your investment if anything were to go wrong. We've received questions on the difference between home insurance and home warranties. Here is a brief description of both. If you want more information, please don't hesitate to reach out to me.
Homeowners insurance pays for any accidental damages and loss that are caused by fire, lightning strikes, windstorms, and hail, however, damage from earthquakes and floods is typically not covered. It also covers the replacement of personal property in case of theft or damage and liability if a person were to get injured in your home or on your property. According to American Home Shield, the average annual cost of a homeowner's insurance policy ranges between $300 and $1,000, and the bank usually asks you to obtain a policy before the mortgage is issued. Make sure to keep in mind that each type of coverage in the policy is subject to a limit and, in most cases, you will have to pay a deductible.
A home warranty is designed to cover the cost of repairs and replacements of larger appliances and crucial systems in your home that may fail or break due to age and wear and tear. This includes but isn’t limited to HVAC, electrical, or plumbing components, kitchen appliances, and your washer and dryer. With a home warranty, you are required to pay premiums year-round, even if you do not use it, and it won’t cover damages if appliances were not maintained properly or if the damage is from a fire or other disaster.
June 11, 2020
Prepping Your Pets for the Big Move
Moving Day is coming and so it's time to get all your ducks in a row. As you make your checkoff list, your furry friends need to be considered. Not only can moving be stressful for us as people, but pets can also feel anxiety. Below are some tips to help your process go smoothly.
Transportation: Whether it’s a short drive or a long plane ride, your pet will likely need to be put into a carrier. For some pets, this is a new concept and they are going to need time to get comfortable with it. Start acclimating your pet as early as possible and use comfort items like treats, favorite toys, and blankets to make the experience a positive one for your pet.
Accessible Pet Items: Prepare a box or bin that is very easily accessible for when you arrive at your new home. Include items such as pet food, food dishes, special blankets, toys, kitty litter, etc.. This way these things can easily be set up. Your furry friend will immediately have items that are familiar to them. Less stress for you and your pet to have everything at your fingertips.
Medical records: When moving to a different city or state, one of the main things you need to take into consideration is finding a new veterinarian that is the right fit for you and your pet. If you have family or friends in the area ask for recommendations or do your own research by reading reviews and news articles. Once you find one, contact your current vet to initiate a transfer of medical records. Then schedule a “get to know you” appointment shortly after your move.
Acclimation: Pad your moving schedule with ample time to get your dog or cat acclimated to their new home. While the movers are still hard at work, keep them safely away from foot traffic to reduce stress. Once they’ve left, make sure to clear anything that could be dangerous and block off areas as necessary then let them free to get a lay of the land on their own.
May 28, 2020
Simple Tips to Stage Your Home
Staging your home is all about putting the best foot forward for potential buyers. By highlighting its most desirable features, you can draw more interest for your home and leave a lasting impression that is sure to help you sell it more quickly. Here are six simple things you can do that won't cost you anything to implement.
1. Help them visualize it as their own.
Make it easier for buyers to imagine themselves making your house their home by removing personal memorabilia, knick-knacks, and photos. Instead replace them with simple décors, such as paintings, nature images, and plants.
2. Think sleek instead of comfy.
Modern-day buyers are leaning toward modern, crisp, clean interiors over comfy, homey looks. When staging your home, keep a minimalist mindset, and incorporate bright colors.
3. Deep clean the small spaces.
It is obvious to say you should clean your home before viewing, but don’t forget to cover your bases by deep cleaning the small spots. Take time to scrub porous areas like grout that may hold on to stains and baseboards where small pet hairs and dust love to cling.
4. Spruce up your landscaping.
The first impression your home gives to potential buyers is its exterior. Ensure you have a freshly mowed lawn, neat hedges and shrubbery, bright flowers, and a clean driveway.
5. Hide those children’s toys.
If you are lucky enough to have children, you will more than likely have a lot of plastic toys, books, and gadgets lying around. Make sure to hide those during photography and showings. Tuck them into the garage, unused attic space, or closets.
6. Clear all paths to doors/exits.
There is nothing worse than a potential new buyer tripping over furniture, rugs, toys, or chairs. If anything is blocking a door, rearrange the room to make it easier for the potential buyer to navigate.
April 29, 2020
MUST-HAVE TOOLS FOR HOMEOWNERS
When you own your home, things are going to break and, unless you want to spend your money on visits from a neighborhood handyman, you’re going to need to fix them yourself. Luckily, you don’t need an arsenal of tools to handle most home maintenance fixes. These five tools will cover most of your basic projects.
1. Cordless drill - A cordless drill is a must-have for installing cabinets, drawer pulls, hinges, picture frames, shelves and hooks, and more. Whether it’s for do-it-yourself projects or repairs, you’ll use your cordless drill just about every month
2. Shop-vac - No matter how careful you are, spills and accidents will happen and there are some tasks that just can’t be handled with paper towels or a standard vacuum, like pet messes or broken glass.3. Loppers - Even the minimum amount of care for your landscaping will require some loppers to remove damaged branches, vines, thick weeds, and any other unruly plants in your yard.
4. Flashlight - You’re going to want something a little more powerful than your iPhone flashlight when you’re in the crawlspace
5. Drain cleaners - Shower and bathroom sink drains are susceptible to clogs because of the daily buildup of hair and whisker clippings. You can use chemical clog removers like Drano, but they’re expensive and the lingering chemical scent is unpleasant. Instead, buy some plastic drain cleaners that can reach into the drain to pull out the clog of hair and gunk. You can purchase them on Amazon or at a local hardware store for a low price.
April 22, 2020
THE BENEFITS OF A CMA
A CMA is an extremely helpful tool I use to determine what the market is saying. What is a CMA, you ask? A CMA stands for Comparative Market Analysis. It is a side-by-side comparison report of homes currently for sale and homes that have sold in the same neighborhood or area as yours. I will typically include new listings (for sale), pending sales (under contract), closed sales (properties sold), and expired listings (failed to sell).
CMAs can wildly vary depending on the knowledge, skill level, and experience of the agent inputting the search parameters, as well as the data fields that are chosen. This is a delicate and critical job that will help you achieve maximum success. Online sources can sometimes spit out un-scrubbed and unverified information so they are not always recommended.
The following factors are used for putting together your CMA.
Location - Comparable active, pending, or sold listings from your neighborhood or surrounding area. A report of every house sold on your street or nearby will be pulled so that specific trending data can be reviewed.
Size - Generally speaking, comparable properties within 10% of the square footage is used.
Age - If available, properties of the same year will be used. If not, properties within just a few years will be utilized.
Other details - There are other parameters that will be considered to determine the most accurate results. These include bedrooms, bathrooms, garage spaces, living areas, how many stories are in the home, lot square footage, and more.
After all the data is compiled and aggregated, each comparable property is painstakingly gone through, photographs and property descriptions are assessed and sometimes active listings are even visited. Once all the data is comprehensively analyzed, the critical step of setting the value of your home is set and a comprehensive report is created for you.
Because I have lived in this area for over 35 years, I have had the opportunity to become intimately familiar with our local neighborhoods and know the trends of the real estate market. If you would like a CMA done on your home, please don't hesitate to call and I would be happy to serve you.
April 15, 2020
VIEWING HOMES DURING THESE TIMES
One of the questions I am asked frequently right now is "Are we still able to go and see houses right now?" The answer is yes! However, things are definitely different at this time and there are some guidelines that need to be followed. If possible, virtual tours are available of some properties but sometimes that is not the case.
So, what should you expect if you are going out to view a house?
1) All viewings are by appointment only and so your real estate agent will need to arrange a specific time for you to see the home. In the past, vacant homes could be seen without an appointment. This is no longer the case.
2) Two people are allowed in the home at a time. This means that the real estate broker and one other person are allowed on the property at a time. If there is more than one person who would like to view the home, the real estate agent will have to show them separately.
3) While in the house both the agent and the client shall follow social guidelines established by the CDC by remaining at least 6 feet apart.
Here at Eagle Rise we are committed to remaining safe and smart during this time. I will be wearing a mask and gloves and maintaining at least 6 feet away during any showings. Also, after the showing is done, hand sanitizer will be provided if you'd like to use it. I am also committed to serving you in the best way I possibly can.
April 8, 2020
CURRENT REAL ESTATE THOUGHTS
Residential Real Estate is currently undergoing disruption and uncertainty just as the spring market was beginning to take off. Guidelines affecting how real estate brokers conduct business has evolved. It is expected that all sales numbers will decline in April and May as a direct result of the governor’s “Stay Home” order that became effective on March 26th.
Following statewide orders, the market virtually froze for a few days but began picking up after real estate guidelines were adjusted to support social distancing. For a period of time, real estate was not considered an essential service.
April and May will likely be transition months before the market begins to return to a more typical activity level. Currently, properties are being shown by appointment only to continue to avoid large gatherings.
The good news is it is a great time for both home buyers and sellers! Buyers enjoy access to extremely low-interest rates to stretch their purchasing power and the motivated sellers have a pool of buyers. With a shortage of inventory in many price ranges, the focus remains on each new listing.
If you are looking to buy or sell, please reach out. I’ll educate and guide you through the process!
Brian Davis, Managing Broker of Eagle Rise Real Estate, LLC
April 1, 2020
THE SMOOTH MOVE ADVANTAGE
One of the most tedious and disheartening aspects of selling a home is dealing with the home inspection and working through the requested repairs. Think of how much sellers could eliminate or at least diminish that stressful part of a home sale beforehand.
The premise of the Smooth Move Program is to provide buyers with a home choice that is worry-free because the inspection process has already been taken care of, eliminating surprises and setbacks before closing. Buyers do have the right to have their own inspection, of course, but the intention is to have all major items already taken care of and disclosed, so a smooth transaction can move forward and be a lot more pleasant.
By also adding a home warranty, the property will likely attract more buyers, and the home will often sell faster.
If you have any questions about this process because you are interested in a low-stress real estate transaction when selling, just let me know. I can explain in more detail, as well as offer you a number of inspectors to choose from if you don’t already have one you would like to use.
March 27, 2020
As I was contemplating these last few weeks, I was struck by how quickly things can change. With expressions like "social distancing" and "shelter-in-place" instantly becoming the most actively used phrases in the news and among friends, it is a crazy time indeed. For all of us, it is important to stay connected to each other in some way. There is stress all around and anxiety can creep in. I have let anxiousness steal my joy in the past, and I’m striving to not let anxiety win.
Hopefully, during this time, you can stay connected to others in some way. This time is sure to pass, and the connection we have with others reminds us that we are not alone. We can endure tremendous hardship if we have the right mindset. It’s an opportune time to put our trust in God rather than worry. I’m choosing to find joy in the small blessings I have. I hope you are able to as well.
If you have any questions about how this entire situation is affecting the housing market, or if you have other concerns, I have time to chat and would be happy to share my perspective.
Brian Davis, Managing Broker of Eagle Rise Real Estate, LLC
March 17, 2020
FEELING STIR-CRAZY - HEAD OUT TO YOUR YARD
Feeling stir-crazy from being at home? Right now is a very unique time. Many of us are self-quarantining or working from home because of COVID-19. The weather report shows that we should be in store for some good weather in the next week so it might be an opportune chance for you to get the outside of your home either ready for selling or for outdoor living this summer. Working in the yard is also a great way to get outdoors and still maintain the social distancing that is being encouraged. Some of you have your kids home and this is a fantastic way for them to get their energy out while helping get the yard spruced up. It might not be easy or feasible to go to a nursery or a home improvement store right now to pick up plants, flowers and mulch, however, there are things you can do without having to leave your home.
1) Pick Up Pinecones and Branches - It wasn't that long ago that we had some brisk winds move through. You'll be surprised how much better the yard will look just be starting with this.
2)Rack Any Leftover Leaves - With all the new leaves and blossoms starting to burst out on the tree, it's time to get rid of the old ones for good if you haven't already done so.
3)Weed Your Flower and Garden Beds - Tis the season for those pesky weeds to multiply and take over your yard! Depending on the size of your yard, this may sound daunting. I find that taking an area and dividing it up into smaller sections makes the task much more doable.
4) Mow and Edge Your Lawn - Just like the weeds, the grass has started growing again. Mowing gives your yard a nice clean look and edging gives it that special touch.
March 10, 2020
PREPARING FOR OUTDOOR LIVING
Monday was beautiful and gives us a glimpse of what is to come. Days of outdoor living are just around the corner. Whether you are intending on listing your home or just planning on hanging out with your family and friends, an old dingy deck is not very appealing. Lucky for you, refreshing it doesn't have to be difficult or expensive. Try your hand at the makeover ideas below.
Restore Your Decking - Depending on the shape it is in, sometimes all your deck needs is a little love. If it's still fairly new, your deck might just need a deep cleaning and a new coat of sealant. There is a multitude of deck finishing and cleaning solutions on the market to choose from to achieve this. However, if it's more worn down, the rejuvenation process may be a bit longer, including searching for larger repairs, tightening any hardware, giving it a good cleaning, applying stain, sealant, and paint.
Add Lighting - Ambient lighting can completely transform your outside space into a relaxing, cozy oasis. Consider adding solar lights that don't require a plug-in or battery replacement. The lights turn automatically on when the sun sets, making your deck come alive. Of course, sometimes this doesn't work as well with some of our cloudy days. Instead, you can consider string lights, rope lights, mason jar lamps, or small twinkle lights. There are many, many options depending on the style and mood you'd like to set.
Build a Privacy Screen - Privacy screens come in all styles, shapes, and sizes. Consider purchasing and installing bamboo fencing or lattice panels for a quick and easy solution. Or, if you are feeling a little more adventurous, you can build a wooden frame and grow climbing plants or vines or stretch outdoor fabric in between. Whichever route you end up choosing, make sure you get the most out of your efforts by evaluating all lines sight before building.
Outdoor Fixtures - Depending on the condition of your outdoor furniture will determine what route to take. Sometimes all your outdoor furniture needs is a good cleaning. A hose and a rub down will make it look new. A little touch-up paint can also go a long way. Whether your cushions are worn out or if you just need a fresh look, exchanging out your cushions can give your deck area a whole, new inviting appearance. Want a cozy place for when it gets cooler? Add a stand-alone gas fire pit. There are some very economical ones available now!
Whatever you decide to do, enjoy the process, and then kick back and enjoy your outdoor living space!
March 3, 2020
OPEN OR CLOSED FLOOR PLAN?
Whether you are going to purchase a house or have one designed and built from the ground up, it is important to decide what kind of floor plan is best for you. An open floor plan basically combines several living spaces into one large room. For instance, the kitchen flows into the dining area which flows into the family room, without walls to define each space. It is usually equated with a more contemporary, modern look. A closed floor plan, on the other hand, separates out each of those spaces into their own rooms. This is thought of as a more traditional look and feel. Each type has its pros and its cons. Evaluating what suits you best is important so that your house truly feels like a home to you. Here is a list of pros and cons for you to help you decide.
February 18, 2020
Open Floor Plan
*Spaces Appear Larger *Less private
*Better Natural Light *Potentially higher energy costs
*Easier Accessibility *Potentially Noisy
*Possible Better Resale Value *Smells may Travel and Linger
*Line of Sight *Design needs to be cohesive throughout
*Room for plenty of furniture entire large space
Closed Floor Plan
*More walls to decorate *Less Natural Light
*More Privacy *Rooms May Feel Cramped
*Better Sound Control *No Line of Sight
*Messes are Contained *Less Accessible
*Individual Style & Theme per *Possible Lower Resale Value
*Potentially lower energy bills
FIRST IMPRESSION COUNTS – MAKE IT A POSITIVE ONE
February 11, 2020
First impressions are very important when selling your home. It is estimated that more than half of all houses are sold before buyers even get out of their cars. When your buyer drives up to the house you have for sale, you want it to be as attractive as possible for them, drawing them in and causing them to want to see more. Now that we have a reprieve from the rain and the sun is out, it is a lot easier to think about the outside of our homes making sure it has plenty of curb appeal.
It is first important to stand back from your home and take an objective look. Sometimes it is difficult for sellers to do this. We either get used to our surroundings or get emotionally attached to our own style. By stepping back and distancing oneself emotionally, it enables one to do a more thorough and critical look. Looking at your home through the “buyer’s eyes” can help you prepare your home to sell for the best price in the least amount of time. If it helps, get a friend to come out and help. I also would be glad to assist you.
Second, make a “to-do” list focusing on that first impression aspect. Some of the things to look for are as follows:
*Walkways – Clean walkways that are coming up to the house. A clean walkway invites buyers to come in. Making sure the sidewalks in front of your home are clean is important too.
*Lawns – A mowed, edged yard is attractive and inviting.
*Flower beds – Mulch, colorful flowers, and weed-free beds are attractive to the buyer’s eye.
*Front door/ welcome mat – The front door is one of the first things prospective buyers see. If it shows signs of wear – clean it, stain it, or paint it.
*Trash and Debris – A clean yard shows buyers that your house has been taken care of.
For a more complete list, please feel free to contact me at 425-442-1298 or email me at email@example.com.
TIPS FOR GETTING YOUR HOME READY TO SELL
Spring is in the air. The sun broke through and shone nice and bright this last Monday giving us a hint of what is to come. Although rain is in the forecast for a while longer, we know that those warm days are coming. With spring comes an uptick in the Real Estate Market. Statistically speaking more homes are listed in April than any other month. If you are a buyer, this is great news because there are more choices out there. If you are one of those many homeowners that are planning on selling, it is a cue to get your home ready so that it is in great condition to get the highest price.
Although there are many things to do to get your home ready to sell, I have three basic tips to prep your home. Starting with these three things will get you well on your way to getting your home ready.
When you think about the idea of decluttering, think of maximum floor space and maximum counter space (this includes tabletops, desks, etc.). As you look around at the floors and flat spaces, identify those items that don't belong and make these areas are as clean as possible. Sometimes it is hard to look at our own areas objectively. If this is the case, find a friend you trust who will help you look at your space honestly. I can also help you with this. The more uncluttered and unencumbered floor space the buyer can see, the larger and more inviting your home will feel.
A good deep clean is an absolute necessity after you have removed the clutter. This involves cleaning your home both inside and out. The floors, walls, baseboards, doors, and all surfaces in your home should be thoroughly cleaned. If possible, the outside of your home and the driveways, and walkways should be power washed. When it comes to cleaning, I recommend that you either form a cleaning crew (you and three or more friends) or better yet, simply hire a cleaning service. This will save you a lot of time and emotional stress if it’s in the budget.
Once your home is decluttered and clean, it’s time to paint! Take a good look at each of the walls, baseboards, doors, windowsills, and ceilings around your home. In some cases, they will just need to be touched up here and there; other areas will need to be entirely repainted. Be objective and make a list. Then decide whether you will or will not do the work yourself or hire someone. Painting is relatively inexpensive. It is probably the least expensive way to make a dramatic improvement to your home.
February 4, 2020
Tips for Mentally Preparing for Selling Your Home
It is said that one of the top five stressors in life is moving. Being aware of this is a good start but implementing some strategies ahead of time can alleviate and circumvent a lot of the pressure that might come along in the process. Here are five strategies to practice that are recommended.
1) Be positive
This can be a tough one, especially if you are in a position where you have to move out of necessity. Make a conscious decision to have a thankful attitude. Read inspirational books, attend church and prayer meetings, and help those less fortunate than you. When those negative thoughts come creeping in (or screaming in!) dispel them immediately and replace them with positive thoughts. Mindset is huge in the moving process!
2) Get a coach
Find a mentor or a close, personal friend. Spend a few minutes a week discussing your thoughts and feelings. In my real estate practice, I can help coach you throughout the process.
3) Visualize the final outcome
If you are moving by choice, spend some time seeing yourself in your next home. (After the dust settles!) This gives you a goal to work towards. If you are moving out of necessity, realize that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and see yourself in that better life. (living within your financial means, future opportunities, etc.)
4) Prayer and meditation
Studies have found that prayer and meditation are very beneficial when facing a stressful decision. Try spending 15 to 20 minutes in prayer and/or meditation each day. You can pray with a friend.
Getting your thoughts out of your head and down on paper is a very freeing exercise. Others may find it easier to record their thoughts using a smart phone app or another device. Even if you simply voice your thoughts (speaking them aloud), it will help. Ask yourself questions like “what do I enjoy or not enjoy about this process?” or ”what do I expect for the future in what I am doing now?”
January 28, 2020
Townhouse vs. Condo: Which Should You Buy?
Whether it's your first time buying or you just want to purchase something smaller, townhouses and condos are both great options. Check out the differences between the two to help aid you in your search.
Condominiums are similar to apartments in that you purchase an individual unit inside of a larger building, but not the property it sits on. This generally includes access to the building's amenities, such as the clubhouse, pool, and gym. However, condo owners are not responsible for the upkeep and repair of these common areas. Because of the number of shared spaces, living in a condo often allows for meeting new people and building a strong sense of community. There is a fairly similar vetting process for loan approval as for a full-sized home; however, the lender will also look at the health of the condo association.
Those who purchase a townhome are generally purchasing the complete unit, both inside and out, including the land it sits on. This might also include the driveway, yard or roof. Traditionally, these units are two or three stories tall and may also include common areas like pools and parks. Townhome owners pay a fee to a homeowners association every month and the loan process is the as same as buying a full-sized home.
What is the best choice?
Both townhomes and condos offer less maintenance than a traditional home and generally offer great shared areas. Your decision ultimately comes down to you and your family's needs and wants. Things you'll want to take into consideration include location, lifestyle, family growth, and price.
January 22, 2020
What to Repair Before You List
When you’re getting ready to list your home, it’s of utmost importance to ensure you are showing it in the best light. Taking time to highlight its strengths and fix up some of its possible weaknesses can make a big difference in how fast it sells. Here are our top five recommended repairs to make before selling your home.
Giving your home a fresh coat of paint is one of the most cost-effective ways to spruce it up. Generally, this can be a do-it-yourself project. Make sure to cover any walls that have scratches and chips and consider updating any accent walls with a more neutral coat.
2. Repair Floors
Hardwood floors are a very desirable feature in a home, so you want to ensure they look their best by fixing scratches or dull areas. If your carpet is worn or stained, consider replacing them. Also, don’t forget the tile in your kitchen or bathrooms. Re-grouting can go a long way in making dingy tile look brand new!
3. Refresh the Landscaping
Show buyers your home is the full package by dressing up the outside as well as the inside. Clean walkways and driveways, plant seasonal flowers and plants, trim hedges and trees, install outdoor décor pieces and fill in mulch and gravel.
4. Fix your Fixtures
Leaky faucet? Rusted drains? Loose drawer handle? Making these small fixes can make a big difference to potential buyers with detailed-oriented minds.
5. Improve your Kitchen
An outdated kitchen can be a real eyesore in a home. Updating cabinetry, repairing, or replacing countertops, and installing new faucets and sinks may be worth the investment.
January 15, 2020
Your Guide to the Home Appraisal
You’ve found your dream home and now it’s time to cross all your T's and dot all your I's before it’s all your own. And one of the first items on your closing checklist - the home appraisal. So, what exactly is that?
The home appraisal is essentially a value assessment of the home and property. It is conducted by a certified third party and is used to determine whether the home is priced appropriately.
During a home appraisal, the appraiser conducts a complete visual inspection of the interior and exterior of the home. He or she factors in a variety of things, including the home’s floor plan functionality, condition, location, school district, fixtures, lot size, and more. An upward adjustment is generally made if the home has a deck, a view, or a large yard. The appraiser will also compare the home to several similar homes that were sold within the last six months in the area.
The final report must include a street map showing the property and the ones compared, photographs of the interior and exterior, an explanation on how the square footage was calculated, market sales data, public land records, and more.
After it is complete, the lender uses the information found to ensure that the property is worth the amount they are investing in. This is a safe-guard for the lender as the home acts as collateral for the mortgage. If the buyer defaults on the mortgage and goes into foreclosure, the lender generally sells the home to recover the money borrowed.