Sound Advice From Successful Home Sellers

Sound Advice From Successful Home SellersThe real estate market and all the things involved in selling a home can seem complicated, and it can be very hard to know which tips to trust. While there’s plenty of great advice to go around from many knowledgeable sources, here are some of the best tips from home sellers who have made a successful sale.

Research Your Local Agents

When considering an agent that will meet your home-selling needs, it can be tempting to go with someone familiar or recommended through a friend who seems like a safe bet. However, it’s important to do some of your own research. Create a list of agents you’re impressed by and take note of their sales and agent fees. Keep in mind that you may want to lean towards an agent who has expertise in your neighborhood.

Get A Second Opinion On Price

Before you have an agent appraise the value of your home, it’s worthwhile to do some research on your end to determine the approximate value of your property. Once you’ve arrived at a figure, bring in the agents you’ve selected to appraise the value of your property. If one price is significantly higher than the other, it may be a sign that an agent is trying to win over your business. Most agents are in tune with the current market and should be able to guide you toward the most appropriate market price.

Be House Ready At All Times

Having potential buyers view your home will certainly make the idea of selling it real, so make sure that it is ready for viewing at any time. If a potential buyer cannot view your property or has to work around your schedule constantly to arrange viewings, there’s a pretty good chance that you may lose out on some good home offers. Instead of missing out, provide a set of keys to your real estate agent so they can show people around your home when you’re not around. This should automatically increase the likelihood of an offer on your home.

Heading into the real estate market can be a matter of trepidation if you’re not sure what to do, but by doing some research and being prepared you’ll increase your chances of success.

As you are preparing to sell your home, be sure that you are also readying yourself for your next home purchase by making an appointment with your trusted mortgage professional to discuss your current financing options.

Inexpensive Updates That Will Appeal To Buyers

Inexpensive Updates That Will Appeal To BuyersWhile you could spend tens of thousands of dollars or more completing a home makeover, there are more than a few budget-minded ideas that you may consider.

Add Color To Molding And Trim

One cool idea in home décor and interior design is to get rid of the standard white trim and molding and to add color to these areas. Neutral hues like grays and browns have universal appeal, or you can give your space a more contemporary look by adding black to these areas. Generally, you will want a more neutral color like a creamy beige on the walls when executing a look with colored trim.

Another idea is utilizing a color consistent with your wall color as opposed to a contrasting or complimentary color. This helps the trim blend in and almost disappear. This is an especially effective concept when used in small rooms, narrow halls with several doorways or in rooms with low ceilings.

Update Light Fixtures

If you have a little more money to spend, you may consider updating your light fixtures. There are rather affordable yet stylish fixtures available in a wide range of finishes. When your rooms are empty or staged to perfection, the light fixtures can easily set the tone of the room and may be focal points. Outdated fixtures may have limited appeal to buyers who are looking for a home that is modern and current with today’s trends.

When thinking about lighting, don’t forget to consider updating your outdoor lighting. The right fixtures may add an additional element of curb appeal that many buyers appreciate.

Redefine Outdated Spaces

In some older homes, some of the rooms may have originally been built with outdated uses in mind. Today’s savvy buyers may be looking for a home with an exercise room, a media room or a study rather than a formal living or dining area. With this in mind, you may consider how you can stage your home to show that it can be used for modern purposes.

This may simply mean moving your formal dining room set into storage, adding French doors and investing in an affordable desk and side chairs for staging purposes. Murphy beds that offer space for guests that can be hidden away when not in use are a clever way to show dual purpose. Turning a closet or the area under the stairs into a small office is also a clever use of space.

Whether you are interested in refinancing your current property or purchasing a new property, be sure to contact your trusted home mortgage professional for the most current financing options.

5 Tips To Price Your Home To Sell For Top Dollar

5 Tips To Price Your Home To Sell For Top DollarMany home sellers are confused about how to price their home to sell. It’s definitely challenging to try and find that sweet spot between pricing it low enough so it flies off the market without undercutting the home’s value.

Emotions play into the decision, too. If the seller has a lot of sweat equity in the home, or the property is the only place the children have ever called home, owners may tend to place a higher value on the house.

Here’s how to correctly price a home to sell in any market.

Rely On Your Real Estate Agent

Your Realtor is an expert in all matters related to home buying and selling. They have a vested interest in selling your home within a reasonable time frame. As such, they provide a valuable, objective perspective that you should closely pay attention to in order to correctly price your home to sell.

Look At Comps In Your Neighborhood

One thing that your real estate agent does is analyze the comparable properties in your neighborhood. Remember, what a home sells for in a nearby city doesn’t impact how to price your home in a neighborhood far removed. Your prospective buyers will also compare your home’s price to others they could buy in the same neighborhood.

Consider Special Features

Don’t discount special features that your home has, such as built-in shelving units, out buildings, a home movie theater, etc. These give you an advantage in that you can safely set your price a little higher than comparable homes without those features. Be sure your real estate agent mentions them on your MLS listing so buyers understand the higher asking price.

Be Prepared To Make Price Adjustments

Remember that you might have to come down from your asking price, so keep that in mind when you and your real estate agent set that number. Don’t expect that you’ll get exactly what you’re asking for unless you’re in a high demand area. When you give yourself some margin, you gain negotiating power you can use to make a sale happen.

Consider Your Own Finances

Pricing your home to sell is only one factor to consider. The larger equation takes your entire financial picture into account. Figure out how much you owe, how much commission you’ll pay and any sales concessions, if any, you’d be willing to offer a prospective buyer. This due diligence ensures you’ll be satisfied with the outcome after all the money has changed hands.

Pricing your home to sell correctly is a critical part of making the transaction happen. Remember that your real estate agent is the best judge of the best price point, but you can always point out the reasons why you’d like it higher or lower.

It’s important to plan out where you will live once your current property has sold. A great place to start is by obtaining a current evaluation of how much you can afford for your new property and getting your new home loan pre-approved with assistance from your trusted home mortgage professional. 

Top 5 Ways To Pick A High Quality Real Estate Agent

Top 5 Ways To Pick A High Quality Real Estate AgentYour real estate agent can be the difference between a successful home buy and a bad purchase. Take a look at the characteristics of a good real estate agent and how you should vet your next partner in real estate.

Patience

Does the real estate agent immediately tell you to give up your rights to audit a home for a quicker sale? You may want to move on. The best real estate agents realize how big of a commitment a home is, and they are willing to walk you through the process at whatever pace you are comfortable with.

Localized Knowledge

There are major differences in the buying process between cities. You need a real estate agent with a knowledge of local ordinances, building and zoning laws and culture. This will save you a great deal of money, believe it or not.

Negotiation Skills

You will go through a number of negotiations with opposing parties during the course of buying or selling a house. You can take them on yourself, but they can be difficult considering that you will likely be facing a real estate agent on the other end. It is usually advisable to have a professional with similar experience on your side. Pick a real estate agent who is not afraid to fight for you at the closing table.

Connections

The best deals in any real estate market may not be public knowledge. You may not even be able to get into certain neighborhoods or business districts unless you know somebody. Your agent should be able to help you in this regard. Pick an agent who is established in your marketplace and well connected.

Other Clients’ Experiences

No real estate agent worth his or her salt will have a problem showing you testimonials and reviews of clients that they have served in the past. You may ask to speak to other clients of that real estate agent if you would like to know their experience buying or selling their home.

Sometimes the best indicator of success is the stories of other people who have been in your shoes. Also, look at the ratings, reviews and testimonials of your agent on their website or other review sites. These are great resources to learn about other clients’ experience.

Another key partner in your home buying experience is your trusted home mortgage professional. Be sure to make contact if you are ready to get pre-approved for a new home loan or find our about options to refinance your current property.

Should You Buy A Fixer Upper Or Move-In Ready Home?

Should You Buy A Fixer Upper Or Move-In Ready HomeThere’s a lot to be said for buying a move-in ready home. All you have to do is put your things away and start living your life. On the other hand, buying a fixer upper has its advantages, too. You can get a great bargain on a fixer upper home. So which one should you choose?

Here are some things to consider.

You Can Easily Afford To Buy What You Want

If money is no object, then a move-in ready home is the best choice. You’ll be able to get exactly the home you want with little or no effort decorating it the way you want. If you’re the kind of person who can hire an interior decorator, then you’ll likely want to spend time decorating, not reconstructing.

You Like A Challenge

If you think of owning a home as an adventure rather than a convenience, consider buying a fixer upper. You’ll have lots of interesting challenges, like figuring out where to buy those non-standard replacement windows, how to reinforce a floor for a tile installation and much more.

You’re Older And Just Want To Settle Down

Renovating a fixer upper requires energy and strength. If you’re older or you tire easily, buying a move-in ready home might be a better strategy. A fixer upper might be too much to handle if you attempt all the work without professional help.

Money Is Tight

If you feel you would be strapped financially to buy a move-in ready home with all the bells and whistles, consider a fixer upper. You’ll be able to easily handle the mortgage payment. You’ll be able to renovate on your own schedule, according to when you can afford new building materials.

You’re Looking For An Investment

If you’re looking to get fast equity out of your home purchase, a fixer upper is definitely a smart move. Once you complete the renovations you could refinance on the higher value and bank the profits.

As you can see, fixer uppers and move in ready homes are both good values, depending on your own situation. Hopefully this list of pros and cons will help you make the right choice for your lifestyle.

Your trusted mortgage professional is available to go over your financing options and get your pre-approval ready for when you find your perfect home.

6 Ways To Find the Right Neighborhood For Your Lifestyle

6 Ways To Find the Right Neighborhood For Your LifestyleChoosing a neighborhood you live in is almost as important as the house you buy. The right neighborhood can make your house feel even more like a home. But how do you find the right neighborhood to shop for your next home?

1. Evaluate Your Own Lifestyle

The first step in finding the right neighborhood is to figure out what you’re really looking for. Do you crave a sense of community, or do you prefer not seeing any other houses when you open your front door? Knowing yourself is the key to identifying what kind of neighborhood you’ll be most happy in.

2. Are There Children In The Picture?

If you have kids now or are planning to have some in the future, that will impact your choice of neighborhoods. You’ll want your children to have neighborhood friends. You’ll also want to know your kids are safe playing outside. Look for neighborhoods where families reside. Ask your real estate agent about the quality of local schools.

3. Would You Prefer A Single Family Home Or A Townhouse?

Different neighborhoods have different housing types. You can often do a process of elimination by pre-determining what kind of home you’re looking for. This is something that your real estate agent can do for you.

4. What Will Your Commute Look Like?

You’ll be going to work everyday. That will significantly impact your daily lifestyle. Pin your work address on a map. Then draw a ring around it that represents the distance you’re willing to commute. Neighborhoods within that circle will be candidates.

5. Are You Looking For Nightlife?

If you want to be able to walk out your door and land at a cafe, bookstore, shopping center, bar or someplace else, then your neighborhood will need to reflect that desire. Avoid buying in an area where everything is a 20-minute drive. Your real estate agent will be able to apprise you of neighborhood culture so you’ll have a better idea of where to buy.

6. What Do You Miss Most?

Is your current neighborhood lacking something, such as bike trails, a park or community events? Seek these out when you go home shopping so your life feels more complete when you move.

These six tips will help you find the best neighborhood for the way you want to live. Remember, your real estate agent is knowledgeable about the various neighborhoods in their service area. Use your agent as a valuable resource while you search for that perfect home.

Don’t forget one of the most important factors: what you can afford. Your trusted mortgage professional is ready to help you get pre-approved.

5 Strategies Millennials Can Use To Buy Homes

5 Strategies Millennials Can Use To Buy HomesMillennials face numerous challenges when buying their first homes. 55% of young adults between 25 and 34 years old don’t own homes as compared to 80% in 1967, according to data from the Census Bureau.

Buying a home is tough with the $1.4 trillion student loan debt, growing childcare expenses and rising rental costs. However, hope is not lost. Millennials can realize the quintessential dream of owning a home.

Millennials can employ several strategies to plan for home ownership without selling their kidneys. Here are five ways to do just that.

Develop A Realistic Budget 

Now is a great time to examine your finances and create a budget for a house you can really afford. Lenders may be able to approve you for a larger loan amount than what you thought possible. Therefore, it’s imperative to be realistic when deciding on the amount of home mortgage payment you can afford comfortably per month.

Make Sacrifices 

Not long ago, someone said (and probably regretted) Millennials can’t save enough to buy homes because they are spend extravagantly. Well, saving thousands of dollars for down payment isn’t easy, but it’s not impossible either. And there are many low to no down payment programs available if you check with your trusted mortgage professional first.

You may have to sacrifice and cut unnecessary expenditures such as buying new outfits and even getting a new car. Living minimally can help pad your personal savings to propel you into owning a house.

Consider The Suburbs 

Although it’s vital to stay near family and a lively social location, consider purchasing a house in a suburban area, where houses are typically more affordable. Plus, if you have pets they will love the larger lots and yards giving them space to play.

You can choose a less populated state where you will probably have a higher chance of affording a home. Although this may not be ideal, if owning your own place tops your list, then location will not stand in the way.

Use State And Federal Programs 

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) gives home buyers the chance to purchase houses with a very low down payment. This lower amount is quite attainable if you save toward this goal.  Some states also offer supplemental programs beyond the FHA program. Find out whether you can access extra grants and subsidies.

Get Your Hustle In Gear 

Although most millennials struggle with unemployment, if you have one job, look for other ways to make extra dollars. You may consider driving for rideshare services, freelance gigs and running errands for people as a way to temporarily boost your earning potential.

Owning a place to call home is great. Like anyone else millennials can buy homes. Talk to a home finance expert and your trusted mortgage professional for more information on how you can make your best investment.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – December 3rd, 2018

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – December 3rd, 2018Last week’s economic news included readings from Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, sales of new homes and pending home sales. FHFA increased maximum loan limits permitted for mortgages held or guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Weekly readings for mortgage rates and first-time jobless claims were also released.

Case-Shiller Indicates Slow-Down in Home Price Growth

Home prices slowed their growth in September according to Case-Shiller. David Blitzer, CEO and Chairman of S & P Dow Jones Indices, said “Home prices plus data on house sales and construction confirm the slowdown in housing.

Rapidly rising home prices have sidelined new and moderate-income home buyers; slim inventories of homes for sale and recently rising mortgage rates also squeezed options for home buyers.

Home prices grew at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 5.70 percent in September as compared to 5.70 percent during August. September’s reading was the lowest in nearly two years, but remains close to twice the growth rate for wages.

Las Vegas, Nevada held first place for home price growth with a seasonally-adjusted annual growth rate of 13.50 percent. San Francisco, California followed with a year-over-year growth reading of 9.90 percent. Seattle, Washington held third place for home price growth with a year-over-year reading of 8.40 percent.

New and Pending Home Sales Dip in October

The Commerce Department reported fewer sales of newly-built home in October to 544,000 sales as compared to September’s reading of 597,000 sales of new homes. Analysts predicted a reading of 589,000 sales for October. Home sales slow as winter weather and holidays approach, but higher mortgage rates also caused the dip in sales.

Pending home sales are sales where a purchase offer is made, but the sale of a home has not closed. Pending home sales were -2.60 percent lower in October as compared to 0.70 percent growth in September. The National Association of Realtors® reported an October index reading of 102.1 as compared to September’s reading of 104.8 in September, which represented a 2.60 percent decline in contract signings. This was the lowest reading for contract signings since June 2014.

Mortgage Rates, Higher Loan Limits and New Jobless Claims

Freddie Mac reported mixed results for average mortgage rates; Rates for 30-year fixed rate mortgages were unchanged at an average of 4.81 percent; rates for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage averaged one basis point higher at 4.25 percent and the average rate for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages was three basis points lower at 4.12 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for 30-year fixed rate mortgages, 0.40 percent for 15-year fixed rate mortgages and 0.30 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency announced higher loan limits for home loans owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The maximum loan amount for conforming mortgages was raised 6.90 percent to $484,350. The maximum loan amount for mortgages in high priced counties will be based on 150 percent of the $484,300, which is $726,525.00.

New jobless claims were higher last week with 234,000 new claims filed. Analysts expected 220,000 new claims based on the prior week’s reading of 224,000 first-time claims filed.

Whats Ahead

This week’s economic news releases include readings on construction spending and labor sector reports on public and private sector job growth. The national unemployment rate will be released along with weekly readings on mortgage rates and first-time jobless claims.

Home Buying Power Remains In Motion Despite Rising Mortgage Rates

Home Buying Power Remains In Motion Depsite Rising Mortgage RatesThe real estate market does not occupy a space outside the laws of physics. As Sir Isaac Newton so aptly theorized, “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” When applying the English physicist’s Third Law to today’s rising mortgage rates, anticipating the reaction can be valuable information if you are planning to buy or sell a home or commercial property.

At first blush, residential home buyers and commercial property investors might expect the “opposite” reaction to impact buying power negatively. The initial data might lead many to believe that premise.

How Home Buyers Reacted To Rate Hikes

According to Realtor.com, the average cost to American mortgage holders increased by 15.8 percent from Sept. 2017 to Sept. 2018. In dollars, that totaled about $223, reportedly from $1,413 to $1,636 when considered against the median home at $294,900. That so-called reaction seems to indicate a loss of buying power for everyday homeowners.

Naturally, these increases were higher in top real estate markets with New York at $545 increase and Seattle at $533 where the median home costs $529,900 and $550,045 respectively. The top 20 housing markets incurred a total 68 percent of the increases year-over-year. Compounding the reaction to rising rates, many pundits are claiming the Fed’s rate hikes are creating stock market volatility.

All of these numbers seem to indicate a gloomy opposite reaction to mortgage rate increases. Or do they?

Real Estate Market Remains In Motion

Much of that thinking stems from looking at increased costs as if they somehow prohibit home buyers from making purchases. But the very fact that Americans are purchasing homes and paying somewhat higher monthly mortgage premiums indicates people enjoy the required buying power. Yes, rates have increased since the Great Recession, but that was always the plan.

Keep in mind that Newton has a few other applicable laws of physics as well. For example, “A body in motion remains in motion.” The Fed’s decision to finally raise rates was held back by a sluggish recovery. Today’s robust economy has prompted the long overdue interest rate hikes, but they are still quite low.

If, for example, mortgage rate increases resulted in a stagnant housing or commercial real estate market, that might be considered an adverse reaction. However, single-family homes and investment properties are in high demand.

That should indicate that the booming economy has improved buying power ahead of mortgage rate increases. Simply put, Americans seem to be ahead in the real estate game.

For everyday families interested in starter homes, homeowners eyeing a more substantial property or commercial investors looking to get into the market, a smart equal and opposite reaction to rate increases may be to get in quickly and enjoy today’s low rates before the next planned increase.

Be sure to consult with us for your best financing options.

3 Millennial Home-Buying Trends Sellers Should Know

3 Millennial Home-Buying Trends Sellers Should KnowAfter five consecutive years of Millennials outpacing all other home-buying demographics, sellers would be wise to wrap their thinking around what makes this generation tick.

According to a 2018 Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends research study, Millennials purchased more than one-third of all homes in 2017. With home purchases totaling approximately 36 percent of the market in 2018, this class of buyer has increased its market share from 34 percent in 2017.

Taken as a whole, the previously formidable Baby Boomers ranging from 52-70 years old enjoyed only a 32-percent market share. GenXers declined from 28 percent in 2017 to 26 percent in 2018.

With the relatively young Millennials still not fully engaged in the real estate market, expectations are that this group could set the tone for decades.

Millennials Have Improved Buying Power

If you accept the Pew Research Centre definition of Millennials, then they were born between 1981 and 1996. That means the entire population is currently at or past the age of college graduation.

Other research indicates that they enjoy an average annual income that has trended up from $82,000 in 2017 to $88,000 in 2018. That means their overall income outran the estimated inflation rate of about 2.1 percent. Not every group can boast that claim.

With the older end of the group now over 30 years old and the younger swath advancing into careers, sellers may want to plan for spare-no-expense Millennial buyers. The average home they purchased in 2017 was $205,000. In 2018, the average rose to $220,000. They apparently are not shy about spending more on a house they like.

Single Millennial Women Are Buying More Homes

Young single females are making a run at home-buying supremacy. According to recent data, single women purchased approximately 18 percent of all homes in 2017. The figure is more than double that of single males, although married couples remain in the top spot.

The average age of single female buyers stands at 28 years old, and their home loans exceeded $175,000. Appraised values reportedly topped $210,000. Sellers may want to consider a more single female-oriented aesthetic moving forward.

Millennials Willing To Pay For More Space

There are two telling reasons why many Millennials are inclined to bypass traditional starter homes and pay for larger ones.

The first reason goes to the age of the older Millennials. At about 36 years old, they entered into adulthood during a painful economic period. High unemployment and a sluggish economy persuaded older Millennials to either wait or hunker down in a small starter home. That group now has equity in the property or money in the bank. With a hot economy and rising wages, larger homes make affordable sense.

Younger Millennials, by contrast, are entering the workforce during a full-blown economic revival. Jobs are plentiful, and employers are competing with wages to secure workers. The robust economic landscape allows many young professionals to afford larger homes. With that in mind, sellers may want to upgrade outdoor patios and consider taking down a wall or two to create an open floor plan.

If you are a homeowner interested in listing a property, speak with a real estate professional about what Millennials in your area want in a home. Millennial home buyers are changing the industry. If you are a Millennial in the market for a property, be sure to contact us for a pre-approval!