Whether you’re a first time buyer or an experienced investor, you’ll find useful information about how to choose the “right” property, making an offer, negotiating, financing, mortgage rates, moving, and everything involved in making an informed home buying decision in today’s market.
If you currently own property and are thinking about selling property, this site contains information about preparing your home for sale, selecting the right agent, pricing your home appropriately, marketing it effectively, going through the inspection process, and receiving a timely market evaluation.
Please use my website as a continued resource and if you need more information on anything, please feel free to call or email me. My contact information is listed on the page or About page.
The National Association of Realtors (NAR) keeps historic data on many aspects of homeownership. One of the data points that has changed dramatically is the median tenure of a family in a home. As the graph below shows, for over twenty years (1985-2008), the median tenure averaged exactly six years. However, since 2008, that average is almost nine years – an increase of almost 50%.
Why the dramatic increase?
The reasons for this change are plentiful. The top two reasons are:
The fall in home prices during the housing crisis left many homeowners in a negative equity situation (where their home was worth less than the mortgage on the property).
The uncertainty of the economy made some homeowners much more fiscally conservative about making a move.
However, with home prices rising dramatically over the last several years, over 90% of homes with a mortgage are now in a positive equity situation with 70% of them having at least 20% equity. And, with the economy coming back and wages starting to increase, many homeowners are in a much better financial situation than they were just a few short years ago.
What does this mean for housing?
Many believe that a large portion of homeowners are not in a house that is best for their current family circumstances. They could be baby boomers living in an empty, four-bedroom colonial, or a millennial couple planning to start a family that currently lives in a one-bedroom condo. These homeowners are ready to make a move. Since the lack of housing inventory is a major challenge in the current housing market, this could be great news.
If you are debating purchasing a home right now, you are probably getting a lot of advice. Though your friends and family will have your best interest at heart, they may not be fully aware of your needs and what is currently happening in the real estate market. Ask yourself the following 3 questions to help determine if now is actually a good time for you to buy in today’s market.
1. Why am I buying a home in the first place?
This truly is the most important question to answer. Forget the finances for a minute. Why did you even begin to consider purchasing a home? For most, the reason has nothing to do with money. For example, a recent survey by Braun showed that over 75% of parents say “their child’s education is an important part of the search for a new home.” This survey supports a study by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University which revealed that the four major reasons people buy a home have nothing to do with money. They are:
A good place to raise children and for them to get a good education
A place where you and your family feel safe
More space for you and your family
Control of that space
What does owning a home mean to you? What non-financial benefits will you and your family gain from owning a home? The answer to that question should be the biggest reason you decide to purchase or not.
2. Where are home values headed?
According to the latest Home Price Index from CoreLogic, home values are projected to increase by 5.3% over the next 12 months.
What does that mean to you?
Simply put, if you are planning on buying a home that costs $250,000 today, that same home will cost you an additional $13,250 if you wait until next year. Your down payment will need to be higher as well to account for the higher home price.
3. Where are mortgage interest rates headed?
A buyer must be concerned about more than just prices. The ‘long term cost’ of a home can be dramatically impacted by even a small increase in mortgage rates. TheMortgage Bankers Association (MBA), the National Association of Realtors, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have all projected that mortgage interest rates will increase over the next twelve months as you can see in the chart below:
Only you and your family will know for certain if now is the right time to purchase a home. Answering these questions will help you make that decision.
There is a plethora of real estate information available today in the news and on the internet. It can be extremely confusing at times. If you are thinking of buying or selling, you need an agent who can help make sense of this rapidly evolving housing market. You need an agent who can help you price your home correctly at the beginning of the selling process. You need an agent who can help you determine what to offer on your dream home without paying too much or offending the seller with a low-ball offer. Dave Ramsey, the financial guru advises:
“When getting help with money, whether it’s insurance, real estate or investments, you should always look for someone with the heart of a teacher, not the heart of a salesman.”
Hiring an agent who has their finger on the pulse of the market will make your buying/selling experience so much easier.
But, how do you identify which agents truly understand what is happening and will take the time to simply and effectively explain what it means to you and your family? One simple way is to check out the agent on social media. What are they posting on Facebook and Twitter? Are they using their social media platforms to share relevant, helpful information or are they just posting cherry pie recipes and cartoons? The best agents are committed to educating the consumer so they can feel confident when they are buying or selling a home. What they are posting online will help you determine which agents meet the criteria that Dave Ramsey suggested you look for: someone withthe heart of a teacher!
Listing photos may be one of the most important marketing efforts that lead to a potential buyer.
Nearly, all buyers use the Internet during the home search process. They usually start looking at homes online before they contact an agent. It’s far more efficient to screen properties by looking at the pictures that have been posted than to make appointments with each homeowner, drive all over town and waste a lot of time looking at homes that would never meet a buyer’s criteria
There needs to be enough pictures of a property to adequately represent the home; most websites allow for at least 24 and more may be needed if it is a large home.
Take horizontal shots to accommodate the format of most listing websites.
The pictures should be well-lit so that it is easy to see all of the features of the room. Natural light is preferred over the limitations of flash.
They should be taken with a wide-angle lens so that you can see the majority of the room in one picture.
Large rooms can be taken from different angles to give the buyers a different perspective.
Rooms should be set if not staged prior to taking the pictures so they will give the buyer an idea of what the room might look like with their own things in it.
Arrange pictures in website to help buyers visualize the floorplan as if walking through it.
Think about using a tripod; professionals do to absolutely hold the camera still.
They should definitely not be “photoshopped” to modify factual elements like removing power lines.
Everyone occasionally takes a great picture but it doesn’t make them a photographer. Since the photography can be one of the most important marketing efforts, consider using a professional photographer to show the home to its best advantage.
Luckily, here at NextHome Unlimited – we’ve got one on staff!
The majority of tenants say they’d like to own a home but continue to pay rent and missing out on financial and emotional advantages. There seems to still be a lot of misinformation in the marketplace.
There are a number of programs for low or no down payment options. Veterans can get into a home with no down payment or closing costs. In qualifying areas, USDA has zero down payment programs. FHA requires 3.5% down payment and there are conventional programs for as little as 3% and 5% down.
People with credit issues need expert opinions about their specific situation. Borrowers with bankruptcies or foreclosures may be eligible to purchase again after certain periods of time. There are short-term fixes for some types of credit problems. There is an extended list of individual issues that a skilled mortgage professional may be able to overcome.
Most tenants realize considerably lower cost of housing by owning once the appreciation, amortization and tax savings are considered. The savings in the first year alone could easily be more than the down payment required.
Plug in your own numbers in a Rent vs. Own to see what your real cost of housing may be. Contact us for a recommendation of a mortgage professional who can give you accurate information about your situation.
The seller has three tools available to affect the marketability of their home: price, condition and terms. Price is the easiest to adjust for the competing properties, amount of inventory or market conditions. However, lowering the price is not necessarily the best decision when trying to maximize the proceeds of sale.
If a home is in poor or outdated condition, updating can be done to make it show favorably with other homes that are currently on the market. Sometimes, sellers rationalize not doing the work by saying they believe the buyers would rather make their own choices. The truth is that most buyers are using all their resources to get into the home and will have to live in its present condition until they can save enough to make the changes they want.
Another reason to go ahead and invest the money and effort into improving the condition is that it is difficult for buyers to imagine the home any other way than its current condition. When comparing one home to another, buyers will sometimes refer to a home as the “stinky house” or the “old kitchen” which may put it at a disadvantage.
While price and condition are the main things that control the marketability, terms can be equally effective. Terms relate to financial considerations made by the seller to induce a buyer to make a decision to purchase their home.
Seller-paid points or closing costs, interest rate buy downs and owner-financing are examples of terms that may increase the marketability of a home because of the additional benefits they offer to buyers.
An example could be that a seller will carry a 10% second lien so that the buyer can get an 80% loan and avoid the expense of mortgage insurance. The seller gets most of their equity plus a fair interest rate on the loan that doesn’t have to be tied up for 30 years like the first mortgage.
Increasing the marketability of your home is a great conversation to have with your real estate professional especially to help you get the highest price in the shortest time with the fewest problems. Just be aware that not all agents may be as creative as some.