Area Real Estate News & Market Trends

You’ll find our blog to be a wealth of information, covering everything from local market statistics and home values to community happenings. That’s because we care about the community and want to help you find your place in it. Please reach out if you have any questions at all. We’d love to talk with you!

Jan. 18, 2019

Buying a House This Year? This Should Be Your 1st Step!

Buying a House This Year? This Should Be Your 1st Step! | Simplifying The Market

In many markets across the country, the number of buyers searching for their dream homes outnumbers the number of homes for sale. This has led to a competitive marketplace where buyers often need to stand out. One way to show that you are serious about buying your dream home is to get pre-qualified or pre-approved for a mortgage before starting your search.

 

Even if you are not in an incredibly competitive market, understanding your budget will give you the confidence of knowing whether or not your dream home is within your reach.

 

Freddie Mac lays out the advantages of pre-approval in the ‘My Home’ section of their website:

 

“It’s highly recommended that you work with your lender to get pre-approved before you begin house hunting. Pre-approval will tell you how much home you can afford and can help you move faster, and with greater confidence, in competitive markets.”

 

One of the many advantages of working with a local real estate professional is that many have relationships with lenders who will be able to help you through this process. Once you have selected a lender, you will need to fill out their loan application and provide them with important information regarding “your credit, debt, work history, down payment and residential history.”

 

Freddie Mac describes the ‘4 Cs’ that help determine the amount you will be qualified to borrow:

 

Capacity: Your current and future ability to make your payments

Capital or cash reserves: The money, savings, and investments you have that can be sold quickly for cash

Collateral: The home, or type of home, that you would like to purchase

Credit: Your history of paying bills and other debts on time

Getting pre-approved is one of many steps that will show home sellers that you are serious about buying, and it often helps speed up the process once your offer has been accepted.

 

Bottom Line

Many potential homebuyers overestimate the down payment and credit scores necessary to qualify for a mortgage. If you are ready and willing to buy, you may be pleasantly surprised at your ability to do so today.

Jan. 18, 2019

Buying a Home Young is the Key to Building Wealth

Homeowners who purchase their homes before the age of 35 are better prepared for retirement at age 60, according to a new Urban Institute study. The organization surveyed adults who turned 60 or 61 between 2003 and 2015 for their data set.

 

“Today’s older adults became homeowners at a younger age than today’s young adults. Half the older adults in our sample bought their first house when they were between 25 and 34 years old, and 27 percent bought their first home before age 25.”

 

The full breakdown is in the chart below:

Buying a Home Young is the Key to Building Wealth | Simplifying The Market

The study goes on to show the impact of purchasing a home at an early age. Those who purchased their first homes when they were younger than 25 had an average of $10,000 left on their mortgage at age 60. The 50% of buyers who purchased in their mid-twenties and early-30s had close to $50,000 left, but traditionally had purchased more expensive homes.

Buying a Home Young is the Key to Building Wealth | Simplifying The Market

Many housing experts are concerned that the homeownership rate amongst millennials, those 18-34, is much lower than previous generations in the same age range. The study results gave a great reason why this generation should consider buying instead of signing a renewal on their lease:

 

“As people age into retirement, they rely more heavily on their wealth rather than their income to support their lifestyles. Today’s young adults are failing to build housing wealth, the largest single source of wealth, at the same rate as previous generations.

 

While people make the choice to own or rent that suits them at a given point, maybe more young adults should take into account the long-term consequences of renting when homeownership is an option.”

 

Bottom Line

If you are one of the many young people debating whether buying a home this year is right for you, let’s get together to discuss your options!

Jan. 18, 2019

Selling Your Home? Make Sure the Price is Right!

Selling Your Home? Make Sure the Price is Right! | Simplifying The Market

If you’ve ever watched “The Price is Right,” you know that the only way to win is to be the one to correctly guess the price of the item you want without going over! That means your guess must be just slightly under the retail price.

 

In today’s shifting real estate market, where more inventory is coming to market and home values are projected to appreciate at lower rates, homeowners will not be able to price their homes as aggressively as they were able to just last year.

 

They will have to employ the same strategy: be the closest without going over!

 

As we have explained before, pricing your home at or slightly below market value actually increases the number of buyers who will see your home in their search!

 

Over the last six months, more inventory has come to market while the months’ supply of inventory available has dropped. This means that the demand for homes to buy is still very strong throughout the country!

 

Homeowners who make the mistake of overpricing their homes will eventually have to drop the price. This leaves buyers wondering if the price drop was caused by something wrong with the homes when in reality nothing was wrong, the price was just too high!

 

Bottom Line

If you are thinking about listing your home for sale this year, let’s get together to properly price your home from the start!

 

Jan. 18, 2019

Last Chance! Homes are a Bargain Compared to Historic Norms

A loaf of bread used to be a nickel. A movie ticket was a dime.  Not anymore. Houses were also much less expensive than they are now. Inflation raised the price of all three of those items, along with the price of almost every other item we purchase.

 

The reason we can still afford to consume is that our wages have also risen over time. The better measure of whether an item is more expensive than it was before is what percentage of our income it takes to purchase that item today compared to earlier. Let’s look at purchasing a home.

 

The COST of a home is determined by three major components: price, mortgage interest rate, and wages. The big question? Are we paying a greater percentage of our income toward our monthly mortgage payment today than previous generations? Surprisingly, the answer is no.

 

Historically, Americans have paid just over 21% of their income toward their monthly mortgage payment.

 

Though home prices are higher than before, wages have risen as well. And, the most important component in the cost equation – the mortgage rate – is dramatically lower than it was in the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s.

 

Today, according to the latest Home Affordability Index just released by the National Association of Realtors, Americans are paying 17.4% of their income toward their mortgage payment. That is much lower than the 21% average previous generations have paid.

Last Chance! Homes are a Bargain Compared to Historic Norms | Simplifying The Market

Bottom Line

The cost of purchasing a home today is a bargain compared to previous generations when we look at it from a percentage of income basis. However, with mortgage rates expected to increase and home prices continuing to appreciate, that will not always be the case. Whether you are buying your first home or looking to move-up to a more expensive home, purchasing sooner rather than later probably makes sense.

Jan. 18, 2019

What is the Cost of Waiting Until Next Year to Buy? [INFOGRAPHIC]

What is the Cost of Waiting Until Next Year to Buy? [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Some Highlights:

  • The cost of waiting to buy is defined as the additional funds it would take to buy a home if prices & interest rates were to increase over a period of time.
  • Freddie Mac predicts interest rates to rise to 5.1% by the end of 2019.
  • CoreLogic predicts home prices to appreciate by 4.8% over the next 12 months.
  • If you are ready and willing to buy your dream home, find out if you are able to!
Jan. 8, 2019

What Makes a House a Home For You?

Top 4 REAL Reasons We Buy A Home | Simplifying The Market

We frequently talk about why it makes sense to buy a home financially, but more often than not the emotional reasons are the more powerful or compelling ones.

 

No matter what shape or size your living space is, the concept and feeling of a home can mean different things to different people. Whether it’s a certain scent or a favorite chair, the emotional reasons why we choose to buy our own homes are typically more important to us than the financial ones.

 

1. Owning your home offers stability to start and raise a family

From the best neighborhoods to the best school districts, even those without children at the time of purchase may have this in the back of their minds as a major reason for choosing the location of the home that they purchase.

 

2. There’s no place like home

Owning your own home offers you not only safety and security, but also a comfortable place that allows you to relax after a long day!

 

3. You have more space for you and your family

Whether your family is expanding, an older family member is moving in, or you need to have a large backyard for your pets, you can take all this into consideration when buying your dream home!

 

4. You have control over renovations, updates, and style

Looking to actually try one of those complicated wall treatments that you saw on Pinterest? Tired of paying an additional pet deposit for your apartment building? Or maybe you want to finally adopt that puppy or kitten you’ve seen online 100 times? Who’s to say that you can’t do all of these things in your own home?

 

Bottom Line

Whether you are a first-time homebuyer or a move-up buyer who wants to start a new chapter in your life, now is a great time to reflect on the intangible factors that make a house a home.

Jan. 8, 2019

How to Save Thousands of Dollars in Interest on Your Mortgage

How to Save Thousands of Dollars in Interest on Your Mortgage | Simplifying The Market

One of the most common loans you can get to buy a home is a 30-year fixed rate mortgage. If the thought of paying for your home over the course of 30-years seems daunting, here are some easy ways to shorten that term which will actually end up saving you money over the life of your loan.

 

Any additional payments to the principal amount (the original sum of money borrowed in a loan), helps to cut down the amount of interest that you will pay over the life of your loan and can also help to shave years off the loan as well.

 

When you make ‘extra’ payments toward your loan, the key is to let your lender/bank know that you want the extra funds to go toward your principal balance as they will not automatically do this for you.

 

You don’t have to double your mortgage payment to make a big difference either!

 

If you have a 30-year mortgage on a median-priced home ($250,000) with a 5% interest rate, you’ll be responsible for a $1,342.05 monthly principal and interest payment. Over the course of the loan, if you pay your exact monthly payment, you will have paid $233,133.89 in interest alone!

 

Paying a Little Extra Can Pay Off Big

1. Pay an additional 1/12th of your mortgage payment every month

Benefit: In the example above, adding $111.84 to your monthly mortgage payment might not seem like a lot, but each year you will have paid one extra month’s worth of payments which will shorten the term of your loan by 4 years and 8 months, all while saving you $42,000 in interest!

 

2. Pay an additional $50 per month towards your mortgage

Benefit: Fifty dollars might not seem like enough to make a difference on the term of your loan, but that small amount will save you over $21,000 in interest and will take over 2 years off the end of your loan. Twenty-eight years from now, you’ll be happy to pay off your loan that much sooner!

 

3. Make one-time lump sum payments when you can

Benefit: If you find yourself with a little extra money after a yearly bonus, a tax return, or from investment dividends, paying that money towards the principal can cut your costs. This option, however, is less predictable than the extra monthly payments.

 

If you have higher interest debts, like credit cards, consider using any extra funds you have to pay those debts down before applying that money towards your mortgage. Also, if you do not plan on staying in your home for more than 10 years, paying extra toward your mortgage might not make sense.

 

Bottom Line

If you’re wondering what strategies would work best for you to shorten the term of your loan, let’s get together to answer your questions.

Jan. 8, 2019

Want to Get the Most Money from The Sale of Your Home? Use These 2 Tips!

Want to Get the Most Money from The Sale of Your Home? Use These 2 Tips! | Simplifying The Market

Every homeowner wants to make sure they maximize their financial reward when selling their home. But how do you guarantee that you receive the maximum value for your house?

 

Here are two keys to ensure that you get the highest price possible.

 

1. Price it a LITTLE LOW 

 

This may seem counterintuitive, but let’s look at this concept for a moment. Many homeowners think that pricing their homes a little OVER market value will leave them with room for negotiation. In actuality, this just dramatically lessens the demand for your house (see chart below).

Want to Get the Most Money from The Sale of Your Home? Use These 2 Tips! | Simplifying The Market

Instead of the seller trying to ‘win’ the negotiation with one buyer, they should price it so that demand for the home is maximized. By doing this, the seller will not be fighting with a buyer over the price but will instead have multiple buyers fighting with each other over the house.

 

HGTV gives this advice:

 

“First impressions are everything when selling your home. Studies have shown that the first two weeks on the market are the most crucial to your success. During these initial days, your home will be exposed to all active buyers.

 

If your price is perceived as too high, you will quickly lose this initial audience and find yourself relying only on the trickle of new buyers entering the market each day. Markets are dynamic, and your price has an expiration date. You have one chance to grab attention. Make sure your pricing helps you stand out on the shelf — in a positive way.”

 

2. Use a Real Estate Professional

 

This, too, may seem counterintuitive. The seller may believe that he or she will make more money without having to pay a real estate commission, but studies have shown that homes typically sell for more money when handled by a real estate professional.

 

Research by the National Association of Realtors in their 2018 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers revealed that,

 

“the median selling price for all FSBO homes was $200,000 last year. However, homes that were sold with the assistance of an agent had a median selling price of $264,900 – nearly $65,000 more for the typical home sale.”

 

Bottom Line

Price your house at or slightly below the current market value and hire a professional. This will guarantee that you maximize the money you get for your house.

Jan. 8, 2019

Buying A Vacation Property? Now Is A Good Time!

Buying A Vacation Property? Now Is A Good Time! | Simplifying The Market

Every year around this time, many homeowners begin the process of preparing their homes in case of extreme winter weather. Some others skip winter all together by escaping to their vacation homes in a warmer climate.

 

For those homeowners staying at their first residence, AccuWeather warns:

 

“The late-week cold shot should fade next week, but this is a warning shot for winter’s return late in the month and early February.”

 

Given this, it’s time to go and stock up on winter weather supplies! However, if you’re tired of shoveling snow and dealing with the cold weather, maybe it’s time to consider obtaining a vacation home!

 

According to the Investment & Vacation Home Buyers 2018 Report by NAR:

 

“72% of vacation property owners and 71% of investment property owners believe now is a good time to buy.”

 

It’s time to take advantage of the equity in your home. As the latest Equity Report from ATTOM Data Solutions stated:

 

“Nearly 14.5 million U.S. properties (are) equity rich — where the combined estimated amount of loans secured by the property was 50 percent or less of the property’s estimated market value — up by more than 433,000 from a year ago to a new high as far back as data is available, Q4 2013.

 

The 14.5 million equity rich properties in Q3 2018 represented 25.7 percent of all properties with a mortgage.”

 

This means that over a quarter of Americans who have a mortgage would be able to use some of their home equity to make a significant down payment toward a vacation home, and many are doing just that! According to the same report by NAR:

 

“33% of vacation buyers purchased in a beach area, 21% purchased on a lakefront, and 15% purchased a vacation home in the country.”

 

Many homeowners who are close to retirement will use some of their equity to purchase vacation homes, which may eventually become their permanent homes post-retirement!

 

Bottom Line

If you are a homeowner looking to take advantage of your home equity by investing in a vacation home, let’s get together to discuss your options!

Jan. 7, 2019

Top Renovations to Complete Before You Sell Your House [INFOGRAPHIC]

Top Renovations to Complete Before You Sell Your House [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market Top Renovations to Complete Before You Sell Your House [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Some Highlights:

  • If you are planning on listing your house for sale this year, here are the top four home improvement projects that will net you the most Return on Investment (ROI).

 

  • Minor bathroom renovations can go a long way toward improving the quality of your everyday life and/or impressing potential buyers.

 

  • Upgrading your landscaping or curb appeal helps get buyers in the door. These upgrades rank as the 2nd and 4th best renovations for returns on investment.