College Station and Bryan Local Market News

April 9, 2024

6 Strategies to Save on Home Insurance Premiums

6 Strategies to Save on Home Insurance Premiums

 

From wildfires to floods, the past few years have brought a historic number of devastating climate and weather events to the United States. In 2023 alone, there were 28 individual weather-related disasters that caused at least $1 billion in damages each.

 

These events triggered a huge influx of home insurance claims, and analysts expect the increase in both catastrophes and claims to continue. Adding to the problem, construction labor and supply costs have risen, making it more expensive to repair affected homes. Consequently, home insurance rates have surged: In 2024, Bank rate reports, premiums are already up an average of 23%, following double-digit increases the previous year.2,3 

 

In disaster-prone regions, the situation is even more challenging. Some insurers have pulled out of risky areas entirely, and many of those that still offer policies in high-risk areas have doubled or even tripled their premiums.4

 

For most homeowners, comprehensive home insurance coverage is crucial for financial security—but massive rate increases can turn a once-affordable home into a financial burden. They can also pose a serious challenge for sellers. A home insurance policy is typically required to get a mortgage, and, in some hard-hit regions, we’re seeing sales fall through or homes sit on the market because insurance policies are unattainable or too expensive.5,6

 

But don’t panic! While these broader trends may be out of your control, there’s still plenty you can do to save. Here are our top six strategies to slash insurance premiums while maintaining the protection you need. 


1. SHOP AROUND

 

Getting multiple quotes is a smart move for many major purchases, including home insurance. We recommend reviewing at least three estimates before you commit to a policy. You can get quotes either by reaching out to insurers directly or by working with an independent insurance broker.7 You’ll need to provide detailed information about the property you’re insuring and your claims history.

Make sure you read policies carefully before you choose. Sometimes, a policy can look like a better deal at first glance but turn out to have important coverage gaps. Be sure to consider how much the policy will pay out to repair or replace your home and review caps on personal possession and liability claims. It’s also smart to read reviews from policyholders (Trustpilot is a good place to start) and ratings published by organizations like the Better Business Bureau and J.D. Power. 

For help choosing the right policy, reach out to us for a list of trusted insurance professionals.


2. INCREASE YOUR DEDUCTIBLE

 

The size of your deductible—which is the amount you pay before your insurance coverage kicks in on a claim—is a major factor in your insurance cost.

A low deductible, such as $500, comes with higher premiums, while a higher deductible, like $2,500 or even $5,000, costs less on a monthly basis. In some cases, you may be able to customize your coverage further by designating a different deductible for certain kinds of claims, such as those caused by named storms or natural disasters. 

If you are confident that you have enough in savings to cover that initial outlay if needed, choosing a higher deductible can help you save significantly over the long term. According to Nerdwallet, raising your deductible from $1,000 to $2,500, for example, could save you an average of 11% each year.8


3. BUNDLE MULTIPLE TYPES OF INSURANCE

 

Insurers want to get as much of your business as possible, so most offer significant discounts if you bundle your home and auto insurance, meaning that you package the two policies together. With some insurers, you can get even higher savings by bundling more than home and auto—RV, boat, jewelry, and life insurance are potential options to consider. 

According to US News and World Report, insurers typically offer customers who bundle home and auto insurance 10-25% savings on monthly premiums. This approach also has other advantages: It cuts down on your paperwork, and in some cases—like if a storm damages both your home and car—you may be able to pay just one deductible instead of two when you file a claim.

However, before you sign on the dotted line, remember strategy #1 and be sure to shop around. In some cases, bundling isn’t the cheaper option, and bundling deals vary between companies. It’s also critical to carefully check that the bundled coverage offers everything you need.


4. ASK ABOUT AVAILABLE DISCOUNTS

 

Did you know that being a nonsmoker might qualify you for a home insurance discount?8 Some insurers offer some surprising incentives for policyholders who pose a statistically lower risk of filing a claim. In the case of nonsmokers, that’s because of the decreased risk of a home fire.

Many carriers also offer discounts to military-affiliated families, homeowners in certain professions, such as teachers or engineers, or recent homebuyers. Sometimes, you can also save by opting for paperless billing or paying your premiums for a full year upfront.10 

Since available discounts vary significantly between insurers, the best strategy is to simply ask a representative for the full list of available discounts so you can see what cost savings might be available to you. 


5. AVOID MAKING SMALL CLAIMS

 

Worried that your premiums will rise significantly in the future? Try to avoid making a claim unless truly necessary. Many insurers offer discounted rates to policyholders who go a certain number of years without filing a claim, and filing multiple claims typically results in large increases.10 If you file too many, you may even risk nonrenewal of your policy.11

Since the cost of even a small premium increase can add up significantly over time, if you have minor damage to your home—for example, if a few shingles blew off your roof in a windstorm—it may be a wiser long-term financial decision to pay out of pocket instead of filing a claim. 

If the cost of the repair is less than your deductible, it never makes sense to file, and if it’s just slightly above your deductible, it’s also usually best to pay for the repairs yourself. Additionally, always be sure to review your policy before you make a claim. Even claims that are denied can count against you, so it’s not worth filing if the damage is clearly excluded from coverage.11 

If you find yourself in this situation, feel free to reach out for a list of reasonably-priced professionals who can help with home repairs.


6. BE STRATEGIC ABOUT HOME IMPROVEMENTS

 

Insurance premiums alone may not be the deciding factor for a home improvement project, but it’s important to know how renovations could impact your rates—for better or worse.

For example, some upgrades and repairs can reduce your premiums by making your home safer or less prone to certain types of damage. These include:12

  • Upgrading your electrical system
  • Updating your plumbing
  • Installing a monitored security system
  • Adding a fire sprinkler system
  • Replacing the roof

 

On the other hand, some upgrades can raise premiums significantly, either because they increase the value of your home (and therefore the cost to replace it) or because they pose a hazard. These include:12

 

  • Installing a swimming pool or other water features
  • Building an extension or expanding your living space
  • Upgrading materials, like flooring or countertops
  • Adding a fireplace or woodstove

Whether or not your planned renovations are on either of these lists, it’s wise to inform your insurer about changes you make to your home—otherwise, you may risk gaps in coverage. And you’re always welcome to check with us before you begin any home improvement project to find out how it could impact the value and resale potential of your home.



BOTTOMLINE: Protect Your Investment Without Sacrificing Enjoyment of Your Home

Getting the coverage you need for financial security without overpaying can be a tricky balance, especially in today’s environment. But remember, while it’s important to find the best deal you can, home insurance isn’t an area to skimp on. 

For advice on your specific risks and the type of coverage you need, we recommend consulting with a knowledgeable insurance professional. We’re happy to connect you with a trusted adviser in our network. And if you’re considering a home renovation, feel free to reach out for a free consultation on how it might affect your property value (and your premiums). 

 

 

The above references an opinion and is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be financial, legal, insurance, or tax advice. Consult the appropriate professionals for advice regarding your individual needs.

Sources:

  1. Climate.gov -
    https://www.climate.gov/news-features/blogs/beyond-data/2023-historic-year-us-billion-dollar-weather-and-climate-disasters 

  2. Bankrate - 

https://www.bankrate.com/insurance/homeowners-insurance/homeowners-insurance-cost/ 

  1. Policygenius -
    https://www.policygenius.com/homeowners-insurance/home-insurance-pricing-report-2023/ 

  2. CNN - 

https://www.cnn.com/2023/09/20/business/insurance-price-increase-risk-climate-first-street-dg/index.html 

  1. BBC - 

https://www.bbc.com/news/business-66367224 

  1. US News - 

https://realestate.usnews.com/real-estate/articles/how-climate-change-could-impact-your-home-value 

  1. Nerdwallet - 

https://www.nerdwallet.com/article/insurance/how-to-shop-for-homeowners-insurance 

  1. Nerdwallet - 

https://www.nerdwallet.com/article/insurance/save-on-homeowners-insurance 

  1. US News and World Report - 

https://www.usnews.com/insurance/homeowners-insurance/how-to-bundle-home-and-auto-insurance 

  1. Marketwatch - 

https://www.marketwatch.com/guides/insurance-services/how-to-save-on-homeowners-insurance/ 

  1. Bankrate - 

https://www.bankrate.com/insurance/homeowners-insurance/when-to-file-a-home-insurance-claim/#when 

  1. Bankrate - 

https://www.bankrate.com/insurance/homeowners-insurance/home-insurance-and-renovations/  

 

Posted in Real Estate News
April 9, 2024

March 2024 Real Estate Market Update

 

Navigating the Real Estate: Insights into Today's Market Trends for Bryan and College Station

Welcome to our latest exploration of the dynamic world of real estate! In this blog, we'll take a deep dive into the current trends and dynamics shaping the market landscape. Whether you're a seasoned investor, a prospective buyer, or simply intrigued by the intricacies of the housing market, join us as we unravel the mysteries and unveil the insights that could shape your next move.

 

Unveiling Market Insights:

Let's start with the numbers, shall we? At first glance, the real estate market seems to be humming along, with a pending ratio of 27.0%. But what does this mean exactly? Essentially, it's a barometer of supply and demand, indicating the pace at which properties are moving off the market. A closer look reveals fascinating patterns: the $200K - $300K price range is a hive of activity, while the $300K - $400K range boasts a substantial inventory waiting to be snapped up.

 

Price Points and Perceptions:

Ah, the eternal dance of list prices and sold prices! With a median list price of $378,000 and a median sold price of $315,000, it's clear that negotiations are a key part of the game. Buyers rejoice at the prospect of scoring a deal, while sellers strategize to maximize their returns. And speaking of returns, properties in the $100K - $200K range are the sprinters of the market, flying off the shelves in record time.

 

Deciphering the Days on Market:

If time is money, then the Days on Market (DOM) are the ticking hands of fate in the real estate realm. At 47 days for active listings, the market seems to be in a state of steady motion. But delve deeper, and you'll find intriguing nuances: certain price ranges command attention, with properties in the $100K - $200K range disappearing like hotcakes.

 

The Pulse of Recent Sales:

In the ever-changing landscape of real estate, recent sales offer a glimpse into the here and now. With a median sold price of $326,958 and a DOM of 73 days for the last 30 days, the market appears to be alive and kicking. Could this be a sign of sustained demand, or merely a fleeting moment in time? Only time will tell.

 

Navigating Market Fluctuations:

Ah, the elusive beast of market fluctuations! Like a tempestuous sea, the real estate market is subject to the whims of interest rates, economic tides, and seasonal shifts. It's a reminder that while we can analyze the data and glean insights, the future remains shrouded in uncertainty.

 

As we conclude our journey through the twists and turns of today's real estate market, one thing is abundantly clear: it's a landscape teeming with opportunity and intrigue. Whether you're a buyer, a seller, or an eager observer, the key lies in understanding the trends, deciphering the data, and navigating the ever-shifting currents with confidence and agility. So, until next time, happy hunting!

Posted in Real Estate News
Feb. 6, 2024

February Real Estate Market Update for Bryan and College Station

Let's take a look at the Bryan College Station real estate market. Currently there are 188 sales pending in the market overall, leaving 651 listings still for sale. The resulting pending ratio is 22.4% (188 divided by 839). So you might be asking yourself, that's great... but what exactly does it mean? I'm glad you asked!

The pending ratio indicates the supply & demand of the market. Specifically, a high ratio means that listings are in demand and quickly going to contract. Alternatively, a low ratio means there are not enough qualified buyers for the existing supply. 

Taking a closer look, we notice that the $200K - $300K price range has a relatively large number of contracts pending sale.  We also notice that the $300K - $400K price range has a relatively large inventory of properties for sale at 195 listings. The median list price (or asking price) for all properties in this market is $379,000. A total of 960 contracts have closed in the last 6 months with a median sold price of $315,575.

Breaking it down, we notice that the $200K - $300K price range contains the highest number of sold listings.  Alternatively, a total of 30 listings have failed to sell in that same period of time. Listings may fail to sell for many reasons such as being priced too high, having been inadequately marketed, the property was in poor condition, or perhaps the owner had second thoughts about selling at this particular time. The $300K - $400K price range has the highest number of off-market listings at 9 properties. 

Active listings (properties for sale) have been on the market for a median time of 77 days.  Analysis of sold properties for the last six months reveals a median sold price of $315,575 and 67 days on market. The sales can be seen in the two charts below. The median sold price for the last 30 days was $314,200 with a DOM of 73 days.

 

 

Posted in Market Updates
Jan. 3, 2024

December Real Estate Market Update

Posted in Market Updates
Jan. 3, 2024

Opportunities for Home Buyers and Sellers in 2024

 

Real Estate Market Forecast: Opportunities for Home Buyers and Sellers in 2024

 

A growing share of home buyers and sellers sat on the sidelines last year as the pace of home sales continued its downward trajectory.1 In fact, since the Federal Reserve began its series of interest rate hikes in 2022, the combination of higher borrowing costs and record-high home prices has fostered the steepest real estate market slowdown since the 2008 recession.2 

 

Priced out of the market, a generation of would-be buyers has been forced to delay their plans for homeownership.At the same time, current owners—reluctant to give up their pandemic-era mortgage rates—are waiting to sell, which has resulted in a sharp drop in listings.4

 

But there may be some relief in sight: In December, the Fed signaled that it was done raising interest rates—and suggested that it could cut rates by 0.75% over the coming year. While mortgages don’t directly follow the federal funds rate, they typically move in tandem—so cheaper home loans may finally be on the horizon.5

 

Lower mortgage rates should bring some much-needed movement back into the real estate sector. But with a market this fluid, the home buyers and sellers with an edge will be those who proactively leverage a real estate agent’s on-the-ground expertise and stay flexible so that they can quickly adapt to changes.

 

What does that mean for you? Read on to learn more about the current state of the U.S. housing market, the potential opportunities for buyers and sellers, and economists’ predictions for the year ahead.



HOME PRICES WILL REMAIN RELATIVELY STABLE

Not even 8% mortgage rates could bring home prices crashing down in 2023, as some prospective home buyers may have hoped. In fact, on average, U.S. property values ended the year higher—with declines in some areas of the country offset by appreciation in others.6

 

Prices typically fall when rising interest rates drive down demand. So what’s keeping home values high? 

 

Mike Simonsen at Altos Research points to a nationwide housing shortage: “Declining home prices probably require that supply-and-demand imbalance, and what we have is really a balance. There's a balance between low demand and low supply.”7

 

Analysts expect that equilibrium to continue to prop up home prices in 2024, although the specific forecasts vary. For example, economists at Realtor.com predict that the median home price will fall slightly, by 1.7%, while those at Fannie Mae project modest price growth of 2.8%.6,8

 

However, experts widely agree: Mortgage rates will be the largest driver of property values. If rates fall faster than expected, more buyers will enter the market—which could send home prices soaring higher.

 

What does it mean for you?  There’s no evidence that home prices are headed for a major decline. So if you’re ready and able to afford a home, this is a great time to test the waters. The best bargains are often found in a slower market, like the one we’re experiencing right now. Contact us to discuss your goals and budget. We can help you make an informed decision about the right time to buy.

 

And if you’ve been waiting to sell your home, this could be your year. Price growth has slowed, so now is the time to maximize your equity gains while minimizing your competition. Contact us for recommendations and to find out what your home could sell for in today’s market.



MORTGAGE RATES SHOULD FINALLY TREND DOWN

The best news we've got incoming for 2024? The extra-high mortgage rates that have weighed heavily on the real estate market may finally be headed south.

 

At its December meeting, the Fed signaled that the worst is likely behind us and that it expects to cut its overnight rate in 2024. Analysts predict that mortgage rates will fall in lockstep.5

 

“Given inflation continues to decelerate and the Federal Reserve Board’s current expectations that they will lower the federal funds target rate next year, we likely will see a gradual thawing of the housing market in the new year,” said Freddie Mac’s Chief Economist Sam Khater following the announcement.9

 

The average 30-year fixed mortgage rate has already declined from an October high of around 8%, and analysts at Fannie Mae, the Mortgage Bankers Association, and Realtor.com all forecast that rates will trend down this year, ending 2024 closer to 6%.7

 

However, it’s not all good news: It appears that the days of 3% mortgage rates are firmly behind us. “As long as the economy continues to motor along, the new normal of higher rates is here to stay,” explains Greg McBride, chief financial analyst for Bankrate.4 So, when it comes to a home loan, borrowers may need to adjust their expectations.

 

What does it mean for you?  If you're a prospective home buyer, declining mortgage rates could give you the opportunity to lock in a more affordable monthly payment. And if you purchase before the market reheats, you could secure an especially good deal. To find the lowest rate, it pays to compare lenders. Ask us to refer you to a mortgage broker who can help you shop around for the best option.

 

Sellers also have reason to celebrate buyers' lower interest rates: As the barriers to entry to the housing market decline, they could enjoy more or better offers. Reach out to discuss how we can help you maximize your home’s sales potential.



LOWER RATES WILL BRING SOME BUYERS AND SELLERS BACK TO THE MARKET

Over the past couple of years, higher mortgage rates have cooled home buyer demand. They’ve also delayed the plans of many home sellers, who have been reluctant to trade in their current mortgages for loans that are several points higher. 

 

With so many market participants playing the waiting game, the real estate sector has slowed significantly. National Association of Realtors (NAR) Chief Economist Lawrence Yun estimates that the number of existing home sales fell by 18% last year following a 17% decline in 2022.10

 

However, as financing costs tick down, sales volume is expected to rise. “Lower mortgage rates would help spur home sales activity, which [is] expected to increase in 2024 compared to 2023,” explains Selma Hepp, chief economist at CoreLogic. “Declines in mortgage rates will drive more sellers to trade their existing home and help add much-needed inventory to the market, leading to more transactions.”4

 

There’s also evidence that the patience of holdout home buyers may be waning, despite higher borrowing costs. A recent survey by Bank of America found that the number who are willing to wait for prices or mortgage rates to decline before making a purchase fell from 85% to 62% in just six months.11

 

“When it comes down to it, if buying a home is your goal and within your budget, the best time to buy is when you're ready financially and you can find a home that fits your needs,” Matt Vernon, head of consumer lending at Bank of America, advised in a recent release. “Even in the current interest rate environment, there are clear benefits to purchasing a home and beginning to build equity.”11

 

What does it mean for you?  If you’ve been waiting to buy a home, you might want to consider purchasing before the competition picks up. Pent-up demand could bring a flood of buyers back into the market as mortgage rates decline. Contact us if you’re ready to begin your home search.

 

If you’re hoping to sell this year, you may also want to act fast. An increase in listings will make it harder for your home to stand out. We can help you chart the best course to maximize your profits, starting with a professional assessment of your home’s current market value. Reach out to schedule a free consultation.



THE HOUSING SUPPLY SHORTAGE WILL PERSIST

Will home buyers who are eager for options have more homes to choose from this year?

 

Yun thinks so. He believes sellers will soon grow weary of waiting to list. “Pent-up sellers cannot wait any longer. People will begin to say, ‘life goes on,’” the NAR economist speculated at a November conference. “Listings will steadily show up, and new home sales will continue to do well.”10

 

But not everyone agrees. Economists at Realtor.com forecast that inventory could drop by as much as 14% this year. The decline in existing homes for sale has been compounded by a persistent shortage of new construction, with single-family housing starts falling 10.3% in 2023 and 11.2% in 2022.6

 

Even so, newly-built homes are playing an increased role in easing the supply crunch, accounting for around one-third of all homes for sale in 2023—which was twice the historical average.12 But new construction alone isn’t expected to fill the inventory gap.

 

According to First American Financial Corporation’s Chief Economist Mark Fleming, the U.S. currently has a shortfall of around one million homes, and conditions won’t ease until individual owners re-enter the market. “Only when more homeowners decide to sell, and then buy again, will housing supply and the pace of sales return to anything resembling normal.”13

 

​​What does it mean for you?  Inventory remains tight, but buyers can benefit from the search expertise of a real estate professional. We can tap our extensive network to access off-market and pre-market listings while helping you explore both new construction and existing homes in our area.

 

While sellers will continue to benefit from the low-inventory environment, they should be prepared to compete against brand-new homes. We can help you prep your property for the market and highlight the features most likely to appeal to today’s buyers.



WE'RE HERE TO GUIDE YOU 

While national real estate forecasts can give you a “big picture” outlook, real estate is local. And as local market experts, we know what's most likely to impact sales and drive home values in your neighborhood. As a trusted partner in your real estate journey, we'll keep our ears to the ground so that we can guide you through the market's twists and turns.

 

If you’re considering buying or selling a home in 2024, contact us now to schedule a free consultation. Let’s work together and craft an action plan to meet your real estate goals.



The above references an opinion and is for informational purposes only.  It is not intended to be financial, legal, or tax advice. Consult the appropriate professionals for advice regarding your individual needs.

 

Sources:

 

  1. CNN -
    https://www.cnn.com/2023/10/19/homes/existing-home-sales-september/index.html

  2. Goldman Sachs -
    https://www.gspublishing.com/content/research/en/reports/2023/10/23/2d814362-a656-4cb3-8586-bea8591188e3.html

  3. ABC News -
    https://abcnews.go.com/US/millennials-priced-homeownership-feeling-pressure/story?id=105032436

  4. Bankrate -
    https://www.bankrate.com/real-estate/housing-market-2024/

  5. CBS News -
    https://www.cbsnews.com/news/interest-rates-are-paused-heres-why-thats-good-news-for-homebuyers/

  6. Realtor.com -
    https://www.realtor.com/research/2024-national-housing-forecast

  7. NerdWallet -
    https://www.nerdwallet.com/article/mortgages/2024-homebuying-trends-property-line-november-2023

  8. Fast Company -
    https://www.fastcompany.com/90991612/home-price-2024-outlook-fannie-mae

  9. Freddie Mac -
    https://freddiemac.gcs-web.com/news-releases/news-release-details/mortgage-rates-drop-below-seven-percent

  10. National Association of Realtors -
    https://www.nar.realtor/newsroom/nar-chief-economist-lawrence-yun-forecasts-existing-home-sales-will-rise-by-15-percent-next-year

  11. Bank of America -
    https://newsroom.bankofamerica.com/content/newsroom/press-releases/2023/12/bofa-report-shows-fewer-prospective-homebuyers-willing-to-wait-f.html

  12. Marketplace -
    https://www.marketplace.org/2023/11/27/mortgage-rates-new-home-sales/

  13. First American -
    https://blog.firstam.com/economics/whats-the-outlook-for-the-housing-market-in-2024

Posted in Buying a Home
Nov. 10, 2023

October Real Estate Market Update

 

 

 

Posted in Market Updates
Nov. 10, 2023

35 Tips to Furnish Your New Home for Less

35 Tips to Furnish Your New Home for Less



Buying a new home is one of the most exciting experiences in life. And if you’re like most homebuyers, you’ll be planning your furniture placement and decor before the ink dries on your offer letter.

 

But before you run to the nearest home goods store, take a deep breath. First, you’ll need to delay any major purchases before you close on your new home. A large outlay or additional line of credit could lower your credit score and, thus, impact your mortgage terms.1 Second, moving and closing costs can add up quickly, so it’s important to be strategic with your remaining budget.

 

But don’t worry! There are plenty of ways to save on home essentials, and we’ve rounded up some of our favorites to share with you. 



PRIORITIZE WHAT YOU REALLY NEED BEFORE YOU START SHOPPING

 

According to Home Advisor, the national average cost to furnish a new house is $16,000, but it can easily soar higher.2  That’s why we recommend starting with a thorough assessment of what you already have and what you actually need to start life in your new place. Here are some steps to help you prioritize your purchases and keep spending in check. 

Make a list of everything you need. Going room by room could help you brainstorm—for example, you might list items ranging from a mattress to blackout curtains for your new primary bedroom. 

Inventory what you already have. Cross the big (dining table) to the small (kitchen knives) off your list as you go. 

Divide the remaining items into three groups: things you need right away (a mattress), items you’d like to have in the near future (a coffee table for your living room), and pieces that can wait (an area rug). 

Calculate your budget. Figure out how much money you’ll have available for immediate purchases after the sale has closed, and start researching the items on your priority list to understand how they’ll fit into your budget.

Don’t rush the process. Bringing older items to your new space doesn’t mean you need to keep them forever. Consider hanging onto pieces that can tide you over for a year or two until your bank account has recovered from the costs of a home purchase. 

Before you start shopping, make sure you know which appliances and fixtures are included with your home purchase. We can inform you of the standard contract terms when you’re making an initial offer and note any additional items that you would like to request.

 

TIME YOUR PURCHASES TO MAKE THE MOST OF SEASONAL SALES

 

Did you know that some home items predictably go on sale at certain times of the year? If you can wait to buy these pieces when prices are lower, you could save significantly. Here are some of the best times to buy household essentials:3,4

Bedding and linens: January

TVs: Black Friday/Cyber Monday and late January (before the Super Bowl)

Furniture: February and August, as well as Black Friday, Memorial Day, and Labor Day

Large appliances: Labor Day through October

Small kitchen appliances: May

Mattresses: Holiday weekends, especially Memorial Day, Labor Day, and 4th of July

Vacuum cleaners: April

Tools: June

Outdoor furniture: August through October

Generally speaking, holiday weekends (as well as Black Friday and Cyber Monday) tend to be great times to find deals. If the item you’re looking for is seasonal—like patio furniture or holiday decorations—waiting until the end of that season usually pays off.



FIND ALTERNATIVE SHOPPING SOURCES

Can’t wait for a sale? It’s time to think outside of the box (the big-box stores, that is). There are plenty of surprising places to find great furniture and houseware deals. 

Check out overstock and liquidation stores. These stores purchase items other retailers haven’t sold and offer them at a steep discount. The inventory can be hit or miss, but you can often get a great deal if you find what you’re looking for.5

Try private membership/warehouse stores. Retailers like Costco and Sam’s Club often have great deals on home goods. If you’re not already a member, ask family or friends if they are willing to take you to look around before you commit.

Consider open-box items.  When buyers return items like furniture or electronics, retailers can’t always sell them as new, even if they haven’t truly been used. Look online for open-box deals from retailers like Wayfair and Amazon Warehouse or visit local retailers to see what they have in stock.

Give scratch-and-dent appliances a chance. These appliances are brand new but sold at deep discounts because their external packaging was damaged. Typically, this means that flaws are purely cosmetic—but it’s always possible that the merchandise has suffered more serious damage. So, be sure to check out the appliances carefully and ask about included warranties.6

Expand your window treatment search. Window treatments can be surprisingly expensive, but it’s often possible to save by buying off-the-shelf offerings in standard sizes. If you need a custom size or material, consider ordering online from a discount supplier and installing them yourself. 

Shop secondhand. In addition to thrift stores and garage sales, Facebook Marketplace, NextDoor, and Craigslist are all great places to find deals in your area.

Are alternative shopping sources still a stretch for your budget? Check out local Freecycle or “Buy Nothing” groups, which are often hosted on Facebook. Participants offer big and small items they no longer need—everything from furniture to clothing hangers—for free to other members.7,8 



DON’T BE AFRAID TO NEGOTIATE FOR A BETTER DEAL

Many people don’t realize that prices for home goods, from furniture to appliances, are often negotiable. While asking for a discount can be intimidating, it’s common practice in many industries, although more so at independently-owned stores than chains. Here are a few tips:9,10

Comparison shop before you walk into a store. If you can find a lower price for the same item elsewhere, many retailers will match it.

Ask the store associate or manager for the best price available. They may be able to offer additional discounts or coupons. 

If you can pay in cash, ask if you can get a discount for doing so. The seller may be happy to offer a small price reduction to avoid paying processor fees. 

Call ahead to ask about applicable discounts. Some retailers offer price reductions for active military, veterans, teachers, first responders, or senior citizens on certain days or times of the year.

Point out scratches or dings to the sales associate. They may be willing to offer a discount to compensate for the imperfection. 

Ask about floor models. Many stores offer these pieces at a lower price, even if they’re in like-new condition. 

After you’ve negotiated a killer deal, don’t forget to ask for free or discounted delivery! Sometimes furniture and appliance stores will offer complimentary delivery or installation if you spend a certain amount or purchase multiple items.



MAKE THE MOST OF REWARD PROGRAMS AND COUPONS

Every penny counts when you’re on a budget—and spending a little extra time maximizing reward programs and discounts is usually worthwhile. 

Sign up for a change of address kit with the United States Postal Service. You’ll need to do anyways to forward mail to your new address, and it comes packed with valuable coupons.11

Make sure you never miss a sale.  Sign up for your favorite retailers’ email lists and follow them on social media for discounts and sale alerts.

Take advantage of loyalty programs. If you’re making a big purchase or getting multiple items from one store, ask about free loyalty programs. Signing up often comes with an introductory coupon.

Consider store credit cards (carefully). Store credit cards can offer significant discounts—but only charge items you can pay off right away to avoid interest, and never open new lines of credit until your home purchase is complete, since it can affect your credit score.

Enroll in coupon and cashback programs. When you’re shopping online, programs like Rakuten and Honey can help you find coupon codes and give you cash back on purchases.

While you’re at it, why not set up a housewarming registry?12  You can share the link with family and friends if they ask what you need—and you can also use it to score discounts. Many stores offer a percentage off to help you buy unpurchased items on your registry. 

 

 

GET CREATIVE

If you want to avoid a cookie-cutter home aesthetic—and save a few bucks—try reimagining your existing furniture and how it could fit into your new space. Here are a few of our favorite strategies. 

Repurpose what you have. Instead of buying a new item to fit a specific purpose, ask yourself if you can use what you have in a different way. For example, repurpose an old dresser as a television stand or use a mismatched dining chair in your home office.

Upgrade existing items. Sometimes, a new coat of paint or varnish, or simply swapping out drawer pulls and handles, can lend a new lease on life to an old piece of furniture. You can also keep this strategy in mind if you see second-hand items that would be just right if they were a different color or had nicer fixtures.

Reupholster instead of buying new. If you have a tired-looking sofa or chair that’s still comfortable and stable, think about getting it reupholstered in new fabric instead of replacing it.

Get handy. Building furniture is certainly not for everyone, but with some basic tools and help from the internet, you may find that simple items like headboards are well within your grasp. You might also be able to repair pieces you already have and avoid shopping altogether. 

Do-it-yourself projects can be fun, but they aren’t for everyone. If you’d like some professional help, reach out for a list of our recommended service providers.



WE’RE HERE TO HELP

We know budgeting for a new home can be overwhelming, and we want to make the process easier for you. If you’re considering a home purchase, we can advise you on a realistic budget and help you review your options. We can also offer insights on other financial considerations and programs and incentives that can help make homeownership more attainable. Reach out for a free consultation. 

 

 

The above references an opinion and is for informational purposes only.  It is not intended to be financial, legal, or tax advice. Consult the appropriate professionals for advice regarding your individual needs.



Sources: 

  1. Bankrate -
    https://www.bankrate.com/mortgages/avoid-mortgage-closing-missteps/

  2. Furniture Bank -
    https://www.furniturebank.org/how-much-does-it-cost-to-furnish-an-apartment/   

  3. US News -
    https://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/saving-and-budgeting/articles/the-best-time-of-year-to-buy-everything

  4. NerdWallet -
    https://www.nerdwallet.com/article/finance/wht-to-buy-every-month 

  5. Business Insider -
    https://www.businessinsider.com/personal-finance/strategies-to-save-money-on-furniture-for-my-new-home?r=US&IR=T 

  6. CNET -
    https://www.cnet.com/home/kitchen-and-household/buy-scratch-and-dent-appliances/ 

  7. Real Simple -
    https://www.realsimple.com/home-organizing/green-living/buy-nothing-groups 

  8. Freecycle -
    https://www.freecycle.org/

  9. Consumer Reports -
    https://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2013/08/how-to-bargain/index.htm 

  10. Realtor.com -
    https://www.realtor.com/advice/home-improvement/furniture-stores-money-saving-tricks/ 

  11. The Krazy Coupon Lady -
    https://thekrazycouponlady.com/tips/money/usps-moving-coupons 

  12. Taste of Home -
    https://www.tasteofhome.com/article/housewarming-registry/ 

 

Posted in Buying a Home
Oct. 13, 2023

Top 7 Tips to Attract the Best Offers for your Home

 

Top 7 Tips To Attract the Best Offers for Your Home

 

Not long ago, home sellers were in their heyday, as historically-low mortgage rates triggered a real estate buying frenzy. However, the Federal Reserve shut down the party when it began raising interest rates last year.1  

Now, it’s not as simple to sell a home. While pandemic-era homebuyers were racing the clock—trying to lock in a low mortgage rate and gain a foothold in the market—current buyers are more discerning. Higher prices and mortgage rates have pushed their limits of affordability, leading them to prioritize cost, condition, and overall value.2

The reality is, home inventory remains low, so most properties will still sell with some basic prep, the right price, and a good real estate agent. But owners who go the extra mile are more likely to sell faster and for a higher amount.

If you have plans to sell your home and want to net the most money possible, this list is for you. Here are our top seven strategies to attract the best offers and maximize your real estate returns.

 

1. UNDERGO A PRE-LISTING INSPECTION

Many homebuyers hire a professional to complete a home inspection before they close. But did you know that a seller can order their own inspection, known as a pre-listing inspection, before they put their home on the market? 

Having a pre-listing inspection on hand and ready to share shows interested buyers that you’re committed to a transparent transaction. This can help you market your home, strengthen your negotiating position, and minimize roadblocks to closing.3 

Of course, it’s always possible that a pre-listing inspection—which looks at the home’s major systems and structures, among other things—could turn up a significant problem. This does carry some risk, as you’ll be required to either fix or disclose any issues to potential buyers. However, in most cases, it’s better to know about and address deficiencies upfront than to find out mid-transaction, when it could cost you more in the form of concessions, a delayed closing, or a canceled sale.

We can help you decide if a pre-listing inspection is right for you. And if it identifies any concerns, we can advise on which items need attention before you list your home.

 

2. CONSIDER STRATEGIC UPGRADES

Embarking on major renovations before putting your home on the market doesn’t always make financial (or logistical) sense. However, certain upgrades are more likely to pay off and can help elevate your home in the eyes of buyers.

For example, refinishing hardwood floors results in an average 147% return on investment at resale and new garage doors typically pay for themselves.Similarly, research shows that professional landscaping can boost a home’s value by as much as 20%.5 

Often, even simpler and less expensive fixes can make a big difference in how your home comes across to buyers. A fresh coat of paint in a neutral color, modern light fixtures and hardware, and new caulk around the tub or shower can help your property look its best.5  

But before you make any changes to your home, reach out. We know what buyers in your neighborhood are looking for and can help you decide if a particular investment is worthwhile.

 

3. HIRE A HOME STAGER

To get standout offers, you need potential buyers to fall in love with your home—and they’re much more likely to do so if they can envision themselves in the space. 

That’s where home staging comes in. Staging can include everything from decluttering and packing away personal items to bringing in neutral furniture and accessories for showings and open houses. 

According to the National Association of Realtors, home staging can both increase the dollar value of home offers and help a property sell faster. In fact, 53% of seller’s agents agree that staging decreases the amount of time a home spends on the market, and 44% of buyer’s agents see higher offers for staged homes.

There’s plenty of strategy and research behind the process, so it’s smart to consider a professional. Reach out for a connection to one of our recommended home stagers who can help your property show its full potential.

 

4. EMPLOY A COMPETITIVE PRICING STRATEGY

While it’s tempting to list your property at the highest possible price, that approach can backfire. Homes that are overpriced tend to sit on the market, which can drive away potential buyers—and drive down offers.7  

Alternatively, if you price your home competitively, which is either at or slightly below market value, it can be among the nicest that buyers see within their budgets. This can ultimately lead to a higher sales price and fewer concessions.

To help you list at the right price, we will do a comparative market analysis, or CMA. This integral piece of research will help us determine an ideal listing price based on the amount that comparable properties have recently sold for in your neighborhood.

Without this data, you risk pricing your home too high (and getting no offers) or too low (and leaving money on the table). Combined with our local market insights, we’ll help you find that sweet spot that will attract the best offers while maximizing your profit margin.

 

5. OFFER BUYER INCENTIVES

Sometimes, sweetening the deal with buyer incentives can help you get the best possible offer. Incentives are especially helpful in the current market, when many buyers are struggling with affordability and concerned about their monthly payments. 

Options that can pay off include:

Buying down their interest rate – You can pay an upfront sum to reduce the buyer’s mortgage rate. This approach can save far more than that cost over the life of the loan, meaning it’s worth more to the buyer than a simple price reduction.8

Offering closing cost credits – You might pay a set amount or a certain percentage of the buyer’s closing costs.

Paying HOA costs – You could cover homeowner association or condominium fees for a set period of time.

Including furniture or appliances in the sale – If your buyer is interested, throwing in the furniture or appliances that they want and need can make your property more appealing. 

Buyer incentives vary and valuing them can get complicated. We’re happy to talk through the options that might make sense for you. 

 

6. USE A PROVEN PROPERTY MARKETING PLAN

Gone are the days when it was enough to put a “for sale” sign in your yard and place a listing on the MLS. A strategic marketing plan is now essential to get your home in front of as many interested and qualified buyers as possible. 

The truth is, buyers who don’t know about your house can’t make an offer. That’s why we utilize a multi-step approach to marketing that starts with identifying your target audience, effectively positioning your home in the market, and communicating its unique value. We then use a variety of distribution channels to connect with potential buyers and performance-based metrics to monitor and improve our campaign results.

Our proven approach can have a big impact on the success of your sale. Reach out to learn more about our multi-step marketing plan and discuss how we can use it to generate interest and offers for your home.

 

7. WORK WITH AN AGENT WHO UNDERSTANDS YOUR AREA

To get the best offers possible, you need a real estate agent who knows your area inside and out. 

Any agent can pull comparable sales data, but in a quickly-evolving market, even the latest comps can lag the current market reality. We have our fingers on the pulse of the local market because we’re working directly with sellers like you. We also represent local buyers who are active in the market, searching for homes like yours.

That puts us in an ideal position to help you price your home for a quick sale and maximum profit. And since we hear first-hand what local buyers want, we can help you prep your home to broaden its appeal and highlight its most-coveted features. Additionally, we can use our extensive network of local agents to solicit feedback and get your home in front of more potential buyers. 

All of these factors can add up to a significant difference in your profit: In 2021, the typical home sold by owner went for $225,000 compared to a median price of $330,000 for agent-assisted home sales.9

 

LET’S GET MOVING

Are you ready to get a great offer for your home? Our multifaceted approach can help you maximize your real estate returns. Reach out for a free home value assessment and customized sales plan to get started!



 

The above references an opinion and is for informational purposes only.  It is not intended to be financial, legal, or tax advice. Consult the appropriate professionals for advice regarding your individual needs.

 

Sources:

 

U.S. Bank -
https://www.usbank.com/investing/financial-perspectives/investing-insights/interest-rates-impact-on-housing-market.html

National Association of Realtors -
https://www.nar.realtor/sites/default/files/documents/2023-home-buyers-and-sellers-generational-trends-report-03-28-2023.pdf

Bankrate -
https://www.bankrate.com/real-estate/prelisting-inspection/

National Association of Realtors -
https://www.nar.realtor/sites/default/files/documents/2022-remodeling-impact-report-04-19-2022.pdf

Bankrate -
https://www.bankrate.com/homeownership/landscaping-increase-home-value/

National Association of Realtors -
https://www.nar.realtor/infographics/staged-for-success 

The Balance -
https://www.thebalancemoney.com/looking-twice-at-overpriced-homes-1798671

U.S. News & World Report -
https://money.usnews.com/loans/mortgages/articles/a-guide-to-seller-paid-mortgage-rate-buydowns

National Association of Realtors -
https://www.nar.realtor/research-and-statistics/quick-real-estate-statistics 

Posted in Buying a Home
Oct. 6, 2023

2023 September Home Stats

 

 

 

 

Posted in Market Updates
Sept. 8, 2023

2023 August Home Stats

 

 

 

Posted in Market Updates