College Station and Bryan Local Market News

Aug. 4, 2023

2023 July Home Stats

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Market Updates
Aug. 1, 2023

7 Common Homebuyer Regrets (And How To Avoid Them)

 

7 Common Homebuyer Regrets (And How To Avoid Them) 

 

To avoid buyer's remorse, be sure to consider your future self when shopping for a home. 

Most new homebuyers don't regret becoming homeowners. In fact, according to a survey by LendingTree, 80% of recent buyers who successfully overcame a challenging housing market say they're glad they found their current homes.1 But that doesn't mean newly-minted homeowners don't have any regrets about their buying choices. 

On the contrary, research shows that even the most-satisfied homeowners would change some aspects of their home purchase if given the opportunity. According to a recent survey by Anytime Estimate, nearly 3 out of 4 buyers who purchased a home in 2021 or 2022 still have a few regrets.2 

Some question their decision to move to a neighborhood they still don't love. Others wish they had been less picky about where they lived so they could have paid less. Many are afraid they overspent or think they sacrificed too much in their rush to buy a home. 

Here are some of the most common homebuyer regrets we see, along with our professional advice on how to avoid them.

 

REGRET #1: Spending More Than Necessary 

 

No one wants to overpay for their new home purchase (and, luckily, with the right guidance, doing so is avoidable). But even if you've secured a winning purchase price, there are still plenty of ways to accidentally overspend. 

One of the most common ways to overpay? Choose the wrong mortgage. In fact, in today's higher-rate environment, this can be one of the riskiest mistakes a new buyer can make. 

According to a recent survey, for example, nearly three-quarters of homebuyers leave money on the table by not bothering to shop around for the best rate.3 And research by LendingTree suggests that buyers in major metro areas lose an average of $63,151 over the life of their loan just by picking the first mortgage they're offered.4

Lesson LearnedAs long as you stick to what you can afford, buying a home can be a boon for your financial health. The longer you live in it, for example, the more your home is likely to appreciate in value and boost your long-term savings. 

But to get the most value from your purchase, it's worth your time to compare financing options and shop around for the best deal. We also recommend getting a mortgage pre-approval before you start your home search so you know what's within reach. We can refer you to one of our trusted lending partners for help.

 

REGRET #2: Rushing Into a Home Purchase

 

In a competitive housing market, it's often necessary to act fast to secure a home. But don't let a need for speed tempt you into making an offer before you've thought through or fully vetted a new property.   

Rushing into a home purchase isn’t just risky, it's also one of the most commonly cited sources of homebuyer regret. According to Anytime Estimate, for example, more than 1 in 4 homebuyers felt remorse over how quickly they sped through the home buying process.2 

Getting swept away by your emotions can also lead to buyer's remorse. If you've found a home you love and are competing with other buyers, it can be tempting to overlook key details or bid more than you can afford. That's one reason it helps to have a skilled professional by your side to calmly guide you through the process and ensure you act with reason, rather than emotion.

Lesson Learned:  Buying a home is exciting. But if you don't keep your emotions in check or act too impulsively, you could make poor choices in the moment that are hard to undo later. 

To avoid making last-minute decisions that could backfire, know what you want, what you need, and what you can afford before you start your home search. We can help you set priorities so you’ll be able to move forward with confidence when the time is right.



REGRET #3: Miscalculating the Costs of Homeownership

 

Though real estate is a great long-term investment, it can be pricey in the short-term, often surprising homeowners who aren't prepared for it. According to some estimates, for example, annual maintenance could cost as much as 1% or more of your home's purchase price.5 Some buyers also forget to factor in additional ownership expenses, such as property taxes, insurance, and repairs.

Failing to think through the costs of homeownership is one of the most common sources of homebuyer regret. According to Anytime Estimate, for example, nearly half of the homebuyers who regret their purchase said they underestimated how much they would spend to live in it.2

However, some homes cost more to live in and maintain than others. So even if you're certain that you can afford the average cost of homeownership, that doesn't necessarily mean that every home in your price range will fit neatly into your budget. For example, very old homes with unique maintenance requirements could be extra pricey to keep up. Similarly, homes with high HOA or condo fees could also eat into your monthly budget. 

Lesson Learned:  A home should help you build your wealth, not drain it. So it's important to factor in all the potential costs of living in a home—not just obvious ones like your mortgage payment and taxes. To ensure you don't get overextended, add up your estimated maintenance and repair costs, as well as any miscellaneous expenses that are unique to a particular home. 

We can help you with these estimates—and, if needed, present you with some less-costly alternatives.

 

REGRET #4: Underestimating the Time Required To Maintain or Renovate a Home

 

One of the most joyful aspects of homeownership is getting to relax in a home that's all your own. But if a home is too high maintenance, then you may not have time to savor it. 

Many homeowners love to spend their weekends puttering in their gardens or undertaking home improvement projects. But if that's not you, then you may not like living in a home with a big yard or with high-maintenance features, like a pool.

According to a survey by Hippo, for example, 47% of homeowners who feel some regret about their home purchase complain that too much maintenance and upkeep is required.6 

Similarly, buyers who purchase fixer-uppers are often surprised by how much time it takes to rehab their new homes. Although buying a fixer-upper is a great way to save on the purchase price, you could come to resent it if it eats up all your free time.

Lesson Learned:  Renovation and maintenance projects are often time-consuming and stressful. So beware of committing to a property that requires too much of your attention if you don't have the time or patience for it. With that said, home improvement projects can also bring a lot of joy and satisfaction to owners who like rolling up their sleeves.

We can talk through the realities of homeownership with you and help you choose a property that will fit your personality and schedule.

 

REGRET #5: Ignoring or Skipping a Home Inspection

 

It’s easy to get swept up in the excitement of buying a home. Sometimes, buyers will agree to skip a home inspection to sweeten their offer in a competitive market. They may also be tempted to pinch pennies since they’re already facing a large outlay. However, if you skip out on a home inspection, you could come to regret it.

When you hire a home inspector, you get a professional, in-depth examination of the property’s structures and systems before you buy it. It’s a worthwhile investment that can save you money in the long run, either by warning you away from a bad purchase or by providing a list of deficiencies you can use to negotiate with the sellers. 

But even the most thorough home inspection isn't going to be worth much if you don't take the time to carefully consider it. If at all possible, make sure you’re on-site during the inspection so you can observe and ask questions. And don’t forget to re-evaluate any repairs that the seller agrees to make to ensure they’ve been properly completed prior to closing.

Lesson Learned:  A home inspection can reduce your risk and save you money in the long run. But to maximize its effectiveness, you will need to be an active participant in the process.

We’d be happy to share a list of experienced and trustworthy home inspectors in our area. And when the inspection report is complete, we can help you decide if the purchase is worthwhile and negotiate any relevant seller concessions and repairs.

 

REGRET #6: Choosing a Home That Doesn't Fit 

 

Homeownership is often a better investment if you’re willing to stay put for at least five years.7 But if your newly purchased home isn’t a good fit, then you may not want to stick around that long. 

Many homeowner complaints come down to simple lifestyle issues: Although a mismatch may seem small at first, the problems can magnify if you make so many compromises that they interfere with your quality of life.

Or, sometimes homebuyers can fall in love with a beautiful home and forget about practicalities. For example, a stunning kitchen can’t replace a needed bedroom or bathroom. And a sparkling pool may sit empty if the home requires a lengthy commute to your office.

Make sure you set some guardrails during your home purchase so you don’t over-compromise or accidentally prioritize your wants over your needs.

Lesson Learned:  When you’re dealing with limited inventory or a fixed budget, it may be necessary to sacrifice some items on your home wish list. But if you fail to secure your must-haves, you could come to regret your home choice.

We can help you avoid an ill-fitting home purchase by working with you to set (and stick to) priorities and parameters before you begin your search. 



REGRET #7: Purchasing Without Professional Help

 

Another path to homebuyer regret? Foregoing the expert guidance and market insight that you can only get from a licensed real estate agent.

Buying a home without professional representation can be extremely risky. Therefore, it’s no surprise that 86% of buyers enlist the help of an agent when purchasing a home. And the vast majority find their assistance to be invaluable: 89% say they would use their agent again or recommend them to others.8

Real estate is hyperlocal and extremely fluid—especially these days when the market is in constant flux. So it pays to have a knowledgeable expert by your side who can guide you through an often-complicated process. 

We can help you avoid expensive mistakes that could lead to buyer’s remorse, all while making your home purchase as seamless and stress-free as possible. And since the home seller typically pays our commission, there’s no added expense for you!

Lesson Learned:  When you work with a real estate agent, you benefit from a wealth of expertise and on-the-ground insight that you can't get anywhere else. We’ll help you steer clear of the missteps that so many homebuyers make, so you can focus on enjoying your new home instead of questioning your choices down the road.

The best part? Since the majority of home sellers pay us a commission at closing, in most cases, we offer our invaluable guidance and assistance at no additional cost to you!



BOTTOMLINE

No one wants to look back on their home purchase and realize they made a big mistake. We can help you avoid the pitfalls so you can buy with confidence. To learn more about how we work to ensure our clients’ satisfaction, reach out today to schedule 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. LendingTree -
    https://www.lendingtree.com/home/mortgage/homebuying-process-survey/

  2. Anytime Estimate -
    https://anytimeestimate.com/research/american-home-buyers-2022/
     

  3. Zillow Home Loans - https://zillow.mediaroom.com/2022-11-18-Prospective-home-buyers-spend-about-as-much-time-researching-new-TVs-as-they-do-mortgage-lenders 

  4. LendingTree -
    https://www.lendingtree.com/home/mortgage/mortgage-shopping-study/

  5. CNBC -
    https://www.cnbc.com/2022/05/01/survey-majority-of-homeowners-have-regrets.html

  6. Hippo - https://www.hippo.com/blog/2022-hippo-housepower-report-how-homeowners-are-responding-essential-maintenance-during

  7. Realtor.com -
    https://www.realtor.com/advice/sell/how-soon-can-you-sell-a-house-after-buying/
     

  8. National Association of Realtors - https://www.nar.realtor/research-and-statistics/research-reports/highlights-from-the-profile-of-home-buyers-and-sellers#homebuyers

 

Posted in Buying a Home
July 7, 2023

Renovate or Relocate?


Does your current home no longer serve your needs?

 

If so, you may be torn between relocating to a new home or renovating your existing one. This can be a difficult choice, and there’s a lot to consider—including potential costs, long-term financial implications, and quality of life. 

 

A major remodel can be a major commitment. From hiring contractors to selecting materials to managing a budget, it can take a tremendous amount of time and energy—not to mention the ordeal of living through construction or relocating to a temporary residence.

On the other hand, moving is notoriously taxing. In fact, in one survey, 40% of respondents viewed buying a new home as ”the most stressful event in modern life.”1

So which is the better option for you? Let’s take a closer look at some of the factors you should consider before you decide.

 

a

  1. What Are Your Motivations for Making a Change?

 

It’s possible that some of the limitations of your current home can be addressed with a renovation, but others may require a move. 

 

Renovate

Certain issues, like dated kitchens and bathrooms, are fairly easy to remedy with a remodel—and the results can be dramatic. In many cases, a relatively minor renovation can significantly increase your enjoyment of your home. 

 

Other shortcomings can be more challenging to fix but are worth exploring so that you know your options. For example, if your home feels cramped or it lacks certain rooms, you might be able to make changes like installing an extra bathroom, adding a dedicated office, or finishing an attic or basement. You may even be able to build an accessory dwelling unit or extension to accommodate a multi-generational family. 

 

In fact, many Americans have remodeled their homes to meet changing needs since the start of the pandemic. According to the National Association of the Remodeling Industry, 90% of their members reported increased demand for renovations starting in 2020, and 60% reported that the scale of remodeling projects has grown.2

 

However, the feasibility and cost of these larger changes will depend on factors ranging from zoning and permitting to your home’s current layout. Speaking with an architect or a contractor can help you make an informed decision. Let us refer you to one of our trusted partners to ensure you receive the best possible service.

 

Relocate

Of course, sometimes, even rebuilding your home from the ground up wouldn’t solve the problem. For example, moving may be the only solution if you’ve switched jobs and now face a lengthy commute or if you need to live closer to an aging family member. 

 

Conversely, if the shift to remote work has opened up your location options, you may wish to seize the opportunity to relocate to a new locale. A 2022 study found that nearly five million Americans had already moved since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic due to increased flexibility from remote work, and nearly 19 million more were planning to move in the near future for the same reasons.3  

 

Moving may also be the best option, even when you’re happy with your geographic location. A local move may make sense if you’re looking for a larger backyard or significantly more space. Similarly, some frustrations—like living on a busy street or a long way from a grocery store—can’t be addressed with a renovation. We are well-versed in this area and can help you determine whether another neighborhood might suit you and your family better.



  1. Which Option Makes the Most Financial Sense?

 

Renovating and relocating both come with costs, and it’s wise to explore the financial implications of each choice before you move forward.

 

Renovate

The costs of a renovation can vary widely, so it’s vital to get several estimates from contractors upfront to understand what it might take to achieve your dream home. 

 

Be sure to consider all of the potential expenditures, from materials and permits to updates to your electrical and plumbing systems. It’s also prudent to add 10-20% to your total budget to account for unexpected issues.If you plan to DIY all or part of your renovation, don’t forget to factor in the value of your time.

 

Renovations can also come with hidden expenses. These might include:

  • Additional home insurance

  • Short-term rental or hotel if you need to move out during the renovation

  • Storage unit for possessions that need to be out of the way

  • Dining out, laundry service, and other essentials if you can’t access appliances at home

 

Remodeling choices can also impact the long-term value of your home. Some projects may increase your home’s value enough to outweigh your investment, while others could actually hurt your home’s resale potential. 

 

For example, although you may enjoy the additional living space, garage conversions aren’t typically popular with buyers.5 Refinishing hardwood floors, on the other hand, brings an average return of 147% at resale.The specific impact of a renovation will depend on a number of factors, including the quality of work, choice of materials, and buyer preferences in your area. We can help you assess how a planned project is likely to affect the value of your home.

 

Relocate

The cost of a new home, of course, will vary significantly depending on the features you’re seeking. However, you may find that it’s cheaper to move to a home that has everything you want than it is to make major changes to your existing one. 

 

For example, adding a downstairs bedroom suite or opening up a closed floor plan could cost you more than it would to buy a home that already has those features. On the other hand, simpler changes and updates probably won’t outweigh the expense of a relocation.

 

If you’re considering a move, speak with a real estate agent early in the process. We can assess your current home’s value and estimate the price of a new home that meets your needs. This will help you set an appropriate budget and expectations. 

 

It’s important to remember that the cost of buying a new home doesn't end with the purchase price. You’ll also need to account for additional expenditures, including closing and moving costs and the fees involved with selling your current home. And don’t forget to compare current mortgage rates to your existing one to understand how a different rate could impact your monthly payment. 

 

However, keep in mind that the interest rate on a mortgage is typically lower than the rate on other loan types—so you could pay less interest on a new home purchase than you would on remodel.6 We’re happy to refer you to a lending professional who can help you explore your financing options.



  1. Which Option Will Be the Least Disruptive to Your Life?

 

A final—but critical—consideration is the time and hassle involved with each option since both renovating and relocating involve a significant amount of each.

 

Renovate

Don’t underestimate the time and effort involved in a large-scale renovation, even if you choose to hire a general contractor. You will still need to consider and make a number of decisions. For example, even a fairly basic kitchen remodel can involve a seemingly-endless selection of cabinets, tile, countertops, paint colors, fixtures, hardware, and appliances.

 

And don’t assume that you will get out of packing and unpacking if you stay in your current home. Most renovations—from kitchens to bathrooms to flooring replacement—require you to remove your belongings during the construction process.

 

The time frame for a remodel is another consideration. High demand for contractors and ongoing material shortages can mean a long wait to get started. And once the project is in progress, you can expect that it will take a couple of weeks to several months to complete.7

 

Contemplate whether you will be able to live in your home while it’s being renovated and how that would impact your routine. For example, being without a functional kitchen for months can be frustrating, inconvenient, and expensive (since you’ll need to purchase prepared food). Remember that delays are inevitable with construction, and consider what additional challenges they could present. 

 

Relocate

Of course, finding a new home and selling your current one also takes a significant amount of time and energy. According to the National Association of Realtors’ 2022 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, the average buyer searched for 10 weeks and toured a median of five homes.8

 

However, in many cases, the timeline can still be shorter than a major renovation. Once you find a home that works for you, it typically takes between 30 and 60 days to close if you’re taking on a mortgage—and the process is even faster if you’re paying with cash.Plus, you can look for your dream home without the inconvenience of living in a construction zone.

 

However, a move comes with its own stress and disruptions. If you’re selling your current home, you’ll need to prep it for the market and keep it ready and available for showings. Once you’ve found a place, the packing and moving process takes time and work, as does settling into a new home—especially if it’s in a different neighborhood. 

 

Fortunately, we are here to help make the moving process as easy as possible, if you choose to pursue that route. We can help you find a property that meets all your needs, sell your current one for top dollar, and refer you to some excellent moving companies that can help pack and transport your belongings.



WHATEVER YOU DECIDE, WE CAN HELP

 

The decision to renovate or relocate can be overwhelmingbut this choice also presents a powerful opportunity to improve your quality of life.

 

There’s a lot to consider, from how renovations could impact your home’s resale value down the road to your neighborhood’s current market dynamics. We’re happy to help you think through your options. Get in touch for a free consultation!



WHATEVER YOU DECIDE, WE CAN HELP

 

The decision to renovate or relocate can be overwhelmingbut this choice also presents a powerful opportunity to improve your quality of life.

 

There’s a lot to consider, from how renovations could impact your home’s resale value down the road to your neighborhood’s current market dynamics. We’re happy to help you think through your options. Get in touch 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. HousingWire -
    https://www.housingwire.com/articles/46384-americans-say-buying-a-home-is-most-stressful-event-in-modern-life/

  2. National Association of the Remodeling Industry -
    https://cdn.nar.realtor//sites/default/files/documents/2022-remodeling-impact-report-04-19-2022.pdf?_gl=1*3pfs0m*_gcl_au*NTU2MDQ0MzAyLjE2ODMyMzgzMTY 

  3. Business Insider -
    https://www.businessinsider.com/5-million-people-moved-because-of-remote-work-since-2020-2022-3

  4. Forbes -
    https://www.forbes.com/home-improvement/contractor/home-renovation-costs/ 

  5. U.S. News & World Report -
    https://realestate.usnews.com/real-estate/articles/10-home-renovations-that-can-decrease-the-value-of-your-home 

  6. Bankrate -
    https://www.bankrate.com/mortgages/mortgage-vs-home-equity-loan/#differences

  7. House Beautiful -
    https://www.housebeautiful.com/home-remodeling/a25588459/home-renovation-timeline/ 

  8. National Association of Realtors -
    https://www.nar.realtor/research-and-statistics/research-reports/highlights-from-the-profile-of-home-buyers-and-sellers

  9. Forbes -
    https://www.forbes.com/advisor/mortgages/how-long-does-it-take-to-close-on-a-house/

 

Posted in Real Estate News
June 8, 2023

2023 June Market Update

 

 

Posted in Market Updates
June 7, 2023

National Real Estate Market Update 2023

 

There’s an old adage in real estate: location, location, location. But ever since the Federal Reserve began its series of inflation-fighting interest rate hikes last year, a new mantra has emerged: mortgage rates, mortgage rates, mortgage rates.


Higher rates had the immediate impact of dampening homebuyer affordability and demand. But this year, we’re seeing further repercussions. While analysts expected listing inventory to swell as sales declined, instead, homeowners have been pushing off plans to sell because they feel beholden to their existing, lower mortgage rates.

 

So what impact is this reduced demand and low supply environment having on home values? And what can we expect from the real estate market in the coming months and years? Here are several key indicators that help to paint a picture of the current market and where it’s likely headed.



HOME SALES ARE EXPECTED TO PICK UP BY EARLY NEXT YEAR

 

The weather isn’t the only thing that heats up in the spring and summer. Nationally, it tends to be the busiest time in real estate. But this year, the peak season got off to a slow start, with sales declines in both March and April.1,2 Existing home sales in April were down 3.4% from the previous month—and 23.2% from a year earlier.2

 

What’s causing this market slowdown? Industry experts attribute it to several factors, including near-record home prices, high mortgage rates, and low inventory.

 

According to National Association of Realtors (NAR) Chief Economist Lawrence Yun, “Home sales are trying to recover and are highly sensitive to changes in mortgage rates. Yet, at the same time, multiple offers on starter homes are quite common, implying more supply is needed to fully satisfy demand. It's a unique housing market.”1

 

However, some industry experts believe the market is poised for a comeback. Forecasters at the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) predict that home sales will continue to fall through Q3 before rising in Q4 and throughout next year.Analysts at Fannie Mae expect the recovery to take a bit longer, picking up in early 2024.

 

Meanwhile, home builder confidence is already up, as purchases of new single-family homes surged in March and April to a 13-month high.5 Builder incentives are helping to boost sales: According to the National Association of Home Builders, in May, 54% reported using them to win over budget-conscious buyers.6

 

What does it mean for you?  A slower pace of sales has given buyers some breathing room. If you hated the frenzy of the pandemic-era real estate market, now might be a better time for you to shop for a home. We can help you evaluate your options and make an informed purchase.

 

If you plan to sell your home, prepare yourself for less foot traffic and a longer sales timeline than you may have found a year ago. It will also be crucial to enlist the help of a skilled agent who knows how to draw in buyers. Reach out for a copy of our multi-step Property Marketing Plan.

 

PROPERTY VALUES REMAIN RELATIVELY STABLE

 

Some good news for buyers: While home builder sales climbed in April, the median new-house price fell to $420,800, an 8.2% decrease from a year ago.5 Meanwhile, the median existing-home price dropped to $388,800, down 1.7% year-over-year. Notably, existing-home prices rose in parts of the country but fell in the South and West.2 

 

“Roughly half of the country is experiencing price gains,” explains Yun. “Multiple-offer situations have returned in the spring buying season following the calmer winter market. Distressed and forced property sales are virtually nonexistent.”2

 

The average national home price remains about 40% higher than it was in early 2020, according to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller index.7 A tight housing supply has helped to buoy prices amidst a slowdown in sales.

 

“While it varies from region to region, home prices at the national level may fall 1% or 1.5% by the end of the year, so not much,” Doug Duncan, senior vice president and chief economist at Fannie Mae, told Yahoo Finance in April.8

 

Record levels of home equity will help to stabilize the sector and prevent a wave of foreclosures, even as prices moderate, according to Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics.9

 

“But for those who have owned a home for more than a year or two, their home will remain a rock-solid investment. And once affordability is restored, the next generation of households can become homeowners. Getting there is critical to the financial well-being of those households, their communities, and the broader economy,” writes Zandi in The Washington Post.9

 

What does it mean for you?  Prices have softened in certain market segments—and motivated sellers are out there and willing to make deals. We can help you find your next home and negotiate a great price.

 

If you’re a homeowner, the surge in home values has slowed, but you’re likely still sitting on a nice pile of equity. Reach out for a free assessment to find out how much your home is currently worth.



LISTING INVENTORY IS LOW, BUT NEW CONSTRUCTION IS ON THE RISE

 

Unsold existing home inventory rose 7.2% from March to April, according to NAR. At the current level of demand, this equates to 2.9 months of supply, which is still well below the 5 to 6 months of inventory required for a “balanced” market.2

 

Inventory remains tight despite the market slowdown because many would-be sellers are reluctant to give up their lower mortgage rates. “Affordability is not only an issue for first-time homebuyers, but also for many repeat buyers who still need to take on a mortgage,” explains Danielle Hale, chief economist for Realtor.com.10

 

In a recent survey by the home listing site, 82% of respondents who are planning to both buy and sell a home said they feel “locked in” by their low rate.11

 

In some areas, new home construction is helping to fill the supply gap. “Currently, one-third of housing inventory is new construction, compared to historical norms of a little more than 10%,” according to National Association of Home Builders Chief Economist Robert Dietz.12

 

And more new homes are in the pipeline, after a builder slowdown last year. Single-family housing starts rose 1.6% from March to April (seasonally adjusted) and new construction permits hit a seven-month high.13

 

What does it mean for you?  Inventory remains tight, but less competition means more choice and negotiating power for buyers. If you’ve had trouble finding a home in the past, it may be time to take another look. We can help you explore both new and existing homes in our area.

 

Sellers are enjoying reduced competition right now, as well. However, the longer you wait to list, the more competition you’re likely to face. And if you feel locked in by your current, lower mortgage rate, consider this: If you roll your equity gains into a down payment on your next home, you could possibly lower your monthly payment. Reach out to discuss your options.



MORTGAGE RATES MAY FINALLY COME DOWN

 

According to Freddie Mac, the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage hit a peak of 7.08% in the fourth quarter of 2022, and since then it’s primarily floated between 6 and 7%.14 However, there are signs that rates could trend lower later this year.

 

“Calmer inflation means lower mortgage rates, eventually,” Yun predicted in a recent statement. “Mortgage rates slipping down to under 6% looks very likely toward the year’s end.”15

 

Other leading economists agree. In its May forecast, Fannie Mae speculates that 30-year fixed mortgage rates will continue to decline, averaging 6.0% in Q4 2023 and 5.4% by Q4 2024.4 Meanwhile, the MBA predicts rates will fall even faster, averaging 5.6% by Q4 2023 and 4.8% by Q4 2024.3

 

On May 3, the Federal Reserve raised its benchmark borrowing rate by another quarter point—its 10th consecutive increase since March 2022. However, in its corresponding statement, the Fed omitted language from its previous release about “additional policy firming,” leaving some analysts to speculate that the rate hikes may be over.16 

 

Although mortgage rates aren’t directly tied to the federal funds rate, a decision by the Fed to pause rate increases could have a positive effect. In the meantime, buyers should shop around multiple lenders to find the best rate—and buckle up for what could be an exciting ride.

 

What does it mean for you?  Mortgage rates may finally trend down, which would be great news for buyers. But, a decrease in rates could correspond with an increase in competition and prices. If you start searching now, you’ll be prepared to make an offer when the time is right. We can help you negotiate a great deal and potential seller incentives.

 

If you’re planning to sell, this is good news for you, too. But, there are several factors to consider when determining the right time to list your home. Reach out for a consultation so we can help you chart the best course.



WE’RE HERE TO GUIDE YOU

 

While national real estate forecasts can provide a “big picture” outlook, real estate is local. And as local market experts, we can guide you through the ins and outs of our market and the issues most likely to impact sales and drive home values in your particular neighborhood. 

 

If you’re considering buying or selling a home, contact us now to schedule a free consultation. We’ll work with you to develop 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. National Association of Realtors -
    https://www.nar.realtor/newsroom/existing-home-sales-slid-2-4-in-march

  2. National Association of Realtors -
    https://www.nar.realtor/newsroom/existing-home-sales-faded-3-4-in-april

  3. Mortgage Bankers Association -
    https://www.mba.org/docs/default-source/research-and-forecasts/forecasts/2023/mortgage-finance-forecast-may-2023.pdf?sfvrsn=4bf1d1a7_1

  4. Fannie Mae -
    https://www.fanniemae.com/media/47006/display

  5. U.S. Census Bureau -
    https://www.census.gov/construction/nrs/current/index.html

  6. National Association of Home Builders -
    https://www.nahb.org/news-and-economics/press-releases/2023/05/lack-of-existing-inventory--boosts-builder-confidence-to-key-marker

  7. New York Times -
    https://www.nytimes.com/2023/04/29/business/spring-housing-market.html?

  8. Yahoo Finance -
    https://finance.yahoo.com/news/mortgage-rates-increase-after-weeks-of-declines-160015631.html

  9. The Washington Post -
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2023/04/22/housing-prices-put-some-out-of-the-market/

  10. CNBC -
    https://www.cnbc.com/2023/04/20/home-sales-fell-in-march-amid-volatility-in-mortgage-rates.html

  11. Realtor.com -
    https://www.realtor.com/research/2023-q1-sellers-survey-btts/

  12. National Association of Home Builders -
    https://www.nahb.org/news-and-economics/press-releases/2023/04/lack-of-existing-inventory-continues-to-support-builder-sentiment

  13. United State Census Bureau -
    https://www.census.gov/construction/nrc/pdf/newresconst.pdf

  14. Freddie Mac -
    https://www.freddiemac.com/pmms

  15. National Association of Realtors -
    https://www.nar.realtor/blogs/economists-outlook/instant-reaction-inflation-april-12-2023

  16. CNBC -
    https://www.cnbc.com/2023/05/03/fed-rate-decision-may-2023-.html

Posted in Market Updates
May 10, 2023

How to Become a Homeowner on a First-Time Buyer’s Budget

How to Become a Homeowner on a First-Time Buyer’s Budget

 

It's not easy being a first-time homebuyer right now. At the end of last year, housing affordability hit an all-time low. Additionally, mortgage rates have risen significantly since 2021, while inventory remains tight for many property categories, but especially for starter homes. Even lower-priced condos are harder to snag these days, as investors and downsizers muscle out first-timers by offering stronger, often cash-heavy bids. 

 

In fact, according to the National Association of Realtors, only 26% of last year's homebuyers were first-timers—the lowest share on record and down from 34% a year prior. This underscores just how steep a hill new buyers are facing. As a result, many first-time homebuyers are finding that they need to get creative or risk renting for longer than they planned. 

 

If you, too, are struggling to afford homeownership, here are some workarounds to consider as you plot your first home purchase.



1. Try House Hacking

 

“House hacking” is a real estate investment strategy in which participants use their homes to generate income in order to offset their expenditures. 

 

For example, renting out a garage apartment or accessory dwelling unit (ADU)—such as a detached garage that's been outfitted with a bathroom and small kitchen—counts as house hacking. So does splitting housing costs with a roommate or converting a part of your home into an Airbnb.

 

House hacking isn’t new. But, it’s grown in popularity as a new crop of digital platforms has entered the market and made it easier than ever for homeowners to generate income from their property.

 

In some cases, house hacking may make it possible for you to qualify for and afford your first home. A lender, for example, may approve you for a larger mortgage if you purchase a home with immediate income potential, such as a legal duplex or a property with a secondary suite that has a kitchen and full bathroom.

 

In addition, house hacking could help you pay your mortgage once you move in. Here are just a few of the ways you could use your home to earn some extra cash:

 

  • Offer paid parking in your driveway on a site like Spacer or SpotHero.

  • Rent out your swimming pool for a few hours on Swimply.

  • Make your home available for photoshoots or events on Giggster or Peerspace.

  • Turn your backyard into a pay-by-the-hour dog park on Sniffspot.

  • List your garage space on an app like Neighbor Storage.

 

But before you make plans to house hack, make sure you fully understand an area's laws and HOA rules. We can help you find a home with income potential in a neighborhood with less restrictive zoning and regulations.



2. Team Up With Friends or Family

 

If you aren't wild about the idea of welcoming strangers to your home, you may want to consider co-purchasing with a friend or family member instead. This unconventional housing arrangement is also growing more popular as friends and family members cope with higher living costs by pooling resources. 

 

According to the National Association of Realtors' 2022 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, the share of first-time homebuyers living with people other than children or a romantic partner is currently at an all-time high. Meanwhile, research from Pew found that multigenerational living has accelerated especially quickly, with a quarter of U.S. adults aged 25 to 34 now living in a multigenerational home.

 

Arrangements can be customized to fit your circumstances. For example, you could purchase a home and then rent a portion of it to a loved one. Or you might consider co-buying a home with friends or family members so that you can step onto the property ladder and start building equity together. 

 

Co-ownership could work out especially well for you long-term if it helps you to buy a home that's bigger, has more investment potential, or is located in a high-demand area and so appreciates at a faster rate. Plus, you'll get to see your loved ones more often and enjoy the coziness of shared living with people you like having around. 

 

On the other hand, sharing a big financial responsibility, like a mortgage, with friends or family could get messy—especially if you don't create a clear-cut co-ownership agreement beforehand that outlines your mutual expectations. So plan carefully before you proceed. 

 

In addition, you may need to rethink the type of home you pursue. For example, a smaller home might be cheaper, but do you really want that much togetherness all the time? We can help you set priorities and search for a suitable property.



3. Tap Your Network for Help With Funding

 

Another established method for affording a first home is to lean on family or friends for financial help. Getting assistance with the down payment or other borrowing costs can go a long way toward making your homeownership dreams come true.

 

As long as you don't mind asking for help, a free-and-clear gift that's intended for your down payment is an ideal arrangement, since it will allow you to borrow less overall. Or, if that’s too big an ask, your loved ones could pitch in toward closing or moving costs.

 

Alternatively, your loved ones could help by co-signing your loan. For example, if their credit score is a lot higher than yours, it could enable you to secure a lower interest rate so that your monthly payment is more affordable. 

 

According to a recent YouGov poll, more than a third of homeowners (and a whopping 79% of those under 30) received financial help from their parents when buying their first home. So you wouldn't be the only one leaning on family to help afford a home at today's prices. 

 

Just be sure your parents or other generous loved ones are aware they're giving a gift, not a loan, and are willing to put that in writing. A lender will want proof that this money isn't adding to your debt burden and may require documentation from your benefactors. 

 

Another way to tap your network for help is to crowdfund part of your down payment or ask for monetary gifts instead of tangible ones. For example, if you're getting married soon, you could skip the wedding gift registry and ask guests to contribute funds to your hoped-for home purchase instead.



4.  Look for Special Programs and Assistance

 

You could also cut some of your upfront mortgage costs by applying for special grants and funding opportunities. 

 

For example, consider using a grant to help you fund your down payment. There are a number of public and private grants and down payment assistance programs that are expressly intended to help first-time buyers.

 

Just like a gift, you don't have to pay a grant back. But, depending on your personal situation, you may find some grants difficult to qualify for—especially if you make a relatively high income. 

Many grants are reserved for lower-income buyers only.

 

Check out grant programs, such as the HomePath Ready Buyer Program, National Homebuyers Fund, the Good Neighbor Next Door Program, and specialized grants from banks. Also look to state and local sources for potential grants and down payment assistance programs, including forgivable and deferred payment loans, Individual Development Accounts, and DPA Second Mortgages.

 

Similarly, if you have enough income to support a house payment but can't spare much cash for your down payment, you may qualify for a government-sponsored loan, such as an FHA loan that allows you to put down as little as 3.5% to 10%.

 

We can connect you with a lender or mortgage broker who can educate you about your options and help shepherd you through the process. Some financial assistance programs require you to work with specific lenders, while others require you to apply directly and fill out a separate application.  

 

In addition, you may look to even less conventional options, such as seller financing. Be aware these kinds of arrangements are rare and hard to find. Depending on the market, you will likely get more help from a seller if you ask them to pay closing costs or contribute to your mortgage rate buydown. In many cases, we can help you negotiate seller concessions that make your home purchase more affordable.



5. Expand Your Home Search

 

If you’re having trouble finding a home within your budget, consider broadening your search criteria. You may be surprised by the kinds of deals that are available when you're willing to compromise. 

 

For example, if you're struggling to find an affordable home in your target neighborhood, expand your search area and consider homes that are further out of town or that are located in up-and-coming areas with lower starting prices. We would be happy to introduce you to some great but lesser-known neighborhoods that we consider hidden gems.

 

You could also save money on your home purchase simply by dropping or revising some of your must-haves and settling for OK-to-haves instead. 

 

For example, do you really need two bathrooms and a large backyard? Or could you settle for a single bathroom with space to add a second one in the future? And would a small garden, cozy balcony, or rooftop terrace still give you the outdoor time you crave? These types of compromises can sometimes shave tens of thousands off your purchase price. 

 

Similarly, if you don't mind rolling up your sleeves or working with a contractor on minor jobs, you can look for homes that need a little TLC. Just because a house looks dated doesn't mean it's destined to stay that way or that it will take a ton of money to spruce up. In fact, a home with good bones but cosmetic flaws could be a perfect match: With less competition, you'll have a better chance of purchasing the home at an affordable price. You can then take your time to save more and fix it up to your taste. 

 

Keep in mind, starter homes are rarely forever homes, but merely a first step onto the property ladder. By gaining a foothold in the real estate market now, you can set yourself up to afford a more expensive property in the future.

 

According to the National Association of Realtors, in 2021, the net worth of a typical homeowner was $300,000, while that of a renter was only $8,000. We can help you find an affordable first home so you can start building equity to reach your long-term financial and real estate goals.



YOU CAN DO IT—AND WE CAN HELP 

 

Buying a first home is challenging, but it's not impossible—especially when you have a savvy real estate professional in your corner. We will work with you to devise a plan to overcome your financial constraints. Then, we’ll help you find a home that not only excites you but also fits your budget and lifestyle. Give us a call to get started with a free exploratory consultation. 




Feb. 2, 2023

Top 6 Home Design Trends to Watch in 2023

 Top 6 Home Design Trends To Watch in 2023

 

Over the past few years, many of us have spent extra time at home—and that means we appreciate the personal design touches that make a house cozy and comfortable more than ever. Some of us have adapted our dwellings in new ways, from creating functional home offices to upgrading the appliances we use most. 

 

But while it’s important to make your home your own, it’s also smart to think about the long-term impact your renovations could have on its value. Choosing highly-personalized fixtures and finishes can make it harder for future homebuyers to envision themselves in the space. Even if you don’t plan to sell your home soon, investing in popular design choices that are likely to stand the test of time will make things easier down the road. 

 

If you’re in the market for a new home, it’s wise to keep an eye out for features that might need to be updated soon so you can factor renovation costs into your budget.

 

We’ve rounded up six trends that we think will influence interior design in 2023, as well as ideas for how you might incorporate them in your own home. Remember, before taking action, it’s always wise to consult with a real estate professional to understand how specific updates and upgrades will affect your property’s value in your local market. 



  1. Separate Kitchen, Dining and Living Areas

 

For years, home design has been dominated by open-concept floor plans, particularly for kitchen, dining, and living areas. However, as the pandemic forced families to work and study from home, many struggled to find the privacy and separation they needed. As a result, designers report that more families are choosing to bring back kitchen and dining room walls to break up the space and create quieter areas. 

 

That doesn’t mean that we’re returning to an era of dark and cramped spaces, however. Even as walls make a return, it’s important to take care to retain a sense of flow and openness within the home and to prioritize natural light. 

 

If you’re buying or building a new home, consider how you will use the space and whether or not an open floor plan will suit your needs. If you already live in a home with an open floor plan and it isn’t working for you, try rearranging furniture and strategically placing pieces like bookshelves, room dividers, or rugs to create distinct areas within the home and reduce noise.




  1. Nature-Inspired Design

 

In the past few years, we’ve seen the “biophilia” trend explode, and there are no signs that it will be any less popular in 2023. This trend is all about bringing the outside in by adding natural touches throughout your home. 

 

This year, design experts predict that natural, sustainable materials like bamboo, cork, and live-edge wood will lend character without being overwhelming. Wooden kitchen cabinets and islands will become more common in 2023, with white oak and walnut among the most popular choices. Wood will also appear in bathroom vanities and shelving and furniture throughout the home. 

 

Colors inspired by nature (think mossy greens and desert tones) will also play into this trend and will blend seamlessly with wood tones. We’re also seeing a return to natural stone countertop materials like quartzite, marble, dark leathered granite, and soapstone.

 

If you’re planning to add new shelving or redo your kitchen, consider turning to these materials to embrace the biophilic look. Or, incorporate elements of the trend by choosing nature-inspired paint colors and adding to your houseplant collection.




  1. Lighting as a Design Feature

 

Spending more time at home has shown us the importance of having the right lighting for specific tasks and times of the day. As a result, many homeowners are reconsidering the ways they light their homes and using light fixtures to change the usability and mood of their spaces.

 

In particular, homeowners are rejecting bright, flat overhead lighting and replacing it with lamps and task-specific options. A layered approach to lighting—such as using a combination of under-cabinet, task, and ambient lighting in a kitchen—enables homeowners to tweak the level of light they’re using based on the time of day and what they are doing. 

 

In 2023, we expect to see more statement chandeliers, pendants, and wall sconces in a variety of shapes and materials. Thinking about switching up the lighting in your home? Start by adding floor or table lamps and swapping out fixtures before you invest in rewiring your space. Take note of what works and what doesn’t and watch how the light in your home changes throughout the day. You can then use that information to make lighting decisions that require a bigger investment. 



  1. More Vibrant Color Palettes

 

After the long dominance of whites and grays, more vibrant colors are coming back as a way to add character and dimension to homes. 

 

This year, warm and earthy neutrals, jewel tones, and shades of red and pink are particularly popular. If your style tends toward the subtle, consider options like light, calming greens, blues, and pastels.

 

Major paint brands have responded to these homeowner preferences with their newest releases. Benjamin Moore’s 2023 color of the year, Raspberry Blush, is a lively shade of pinkish coral, while Sherwin William is embracing warm neutrals with Redend Point, a blushing beige. Behr’s choice of the year, Blank Canvas, is a creamy off-white that's a warmer version of the stark whites that have been trending over the past few years.

 

If you’re planning to put your home on the market soon, it’s better to play on the safer side and avoid extremely bold or bright color choices when it comes to paint or fixed finishes like tile and countertops. Instead, try incorporating pops of color through throw pillows, art, and accessories.




  1. Curved Furniture and Architectural Accents

 

Goodbye, sharp corners. In 2023, arches and curves lend a sleek feel that draws on classical design and retro trends while remaining modern. Rounded corners feel more relaxed and natural than sharp edges, lending more of a sense of flow and comfort to a home. 

 

If you want to incorporate the trend into your new build or remodeling plans, curved kitchen islands and bars and arched alcoves are all good options—or you can take it a step further with arched windows and doorways. You can also carry this trend through to your light fixtures by incorporating a bubble chandelier or globe pendants.

 

It’s easy to embrace this look without renovations, too. Look for a softer feel in furniture, with sofas, chairs, and tables that showcase curved edges. Or, break up your space with an arched folding screen and a circular rug.



  1. Art Deco Revival

 

Art Deco, the architecture and design style that took hold in the 1920s and ’30s, is enjoying a resurgence.

 

As a style, Art Deco is marked by bold geometry, textures, and colors, as well as an emphasis on art. But the 2023 interpretation of this style is likely to be a bit less splashy than its historical roots. Designers predict that instead of incorporating all of the elements of the style, which could feel overwhelming, homeowners will pick bursts of color or bold accessories to bring some whimsy to their space. 

 

Keep an eye out for vintage mirrors, lamps, or vases that bring a touch of Art Deco glam to your home, or embrace bold colors and fabrics like velvet. Choose pillows and throw blankets in bright colors and geometric patterns to nod to the look without diving in all the way. 



DESIGNED TO SELL

 

Are you thinking about remodeling or making significant design changes to your home? Wondering how those changes might impact your future resale value? 

 

Buyer preferences vary significantly based on your home’s neighborhood and price range. We’re happy to share our insights on the upgrades that will make it easier (or more difficult!) to sell your home. Give us a call for a free consultation!



Jan. 10, 2023

2023 Market Outlook

2023 Real Estate Market Outlook (And What It Means for You)



Last year, one factor drove the real estate market more than any other: rising mortgage rates. 

 

In March 2022, the Federal Reserve began a series of interest rate hikes in an effort to pump the brakes on inflation. While some market sectors have been slow to respond, the housing market has reacted accordingly.

 

Both demand and price appreciation have tapered, as the primary challenge for homebuyers has shifted from availability to affordability. Although this higher-mortgage rate environment has been a painful adjustment for many buyers and sellers, it should ultimately lead to a more stable and balanced real estate market.

 

So what can we expect in 2023? Will mortgage rates continue to climb? Could home prices come crashing down? While this is one of the more challenging real estate periods to forecast, here’s what several industry experts predict will happen to the U.S. housing market in the coming year.



MORTGAGE RATES WILL FLUCTUATE LESS

 

In 2022, 30-year fixed mortgage rates surged from roughly 3% in January to around 7%. According to Rick Sharga of real estate data company ATTOM, “We’ve never seen rates double in so short a period.”

 

This year, economists forecast a less dramatic shift.

 

In an interview with Bankrate, Nadia Evangelou, senior economist for the National Association of Realtors, shares her vision of three possible mortgage rate scenarios:

 

  1. Inflation continues to surge, forcing the Fed to repeatedly raise interest rates. In that scenario, she predicts that rates could reach as high as 8.5%.

  2. Inflation decelerates and mortgage rates follow suit, averaging 7 to 7.5% for the year.

  3. Rising interest rates trigger a recession, which could ultimately lead mortgage rates to drop closer to 5% by the end of the year.

 

Realtor.com forecasts something similar to scenario #2 above: “Mortgage rates will average 7.4% in 2023, trickling down to 7.1% by year’s end.” The Mortgage Bankers Association, however, projects something closer to Evangelou’s scenario #3, with the 30-year fixed rate declining steadily throughout the year, averaging 6.2% in Q1 and 5.2% by Q4.

 

Economists at Fannie Mae fall somewhere in the middle. In a recent press release, they predicted that the U.S. economy will experience a “modest recession” this year. In their December Housing Forecast, they project that 30-year fixed mortgage rates will only fall by half a point from an average of 6.5% in Q1 to 6.0% in Q4.

 

“From our perspective, the good news is that demographics remain favorable for housing, so the sector appears well-positioned to help lead the economy out of what we expect will be a brief recession,” said Fannie Mae Chief Economist Doug Duncan.

 

What does it mean for you?  Even the experts can’t say for certain where mortgage rates are headed. Instead of trying to ”time the market,” focus instead on buying or selling a home when the time is right for you. There are a variety of mortgage options available that can make a home purchase more affordable, including adjustable rates, points, and buydowns—and keep in mind you can always refinance down the road. We’d be happy to refer you to a trusted mortgage professional who can outline your best options.



SALES VOLUME WILL FALL AND INVENTORY WILL RISE

 

It looks like the home-buying frenzy we experienced in recent years is behind us. While the desire to own a home remains strong, higher mortgage rates have made it unaffordable for a large segment of would-be buyers. 

 

Many economists expect the number of home sales to continue to decline this year, leading to an increase in listing inventory and days-on-market, or the time it takes to sell a home. But, there is a wide range when it comes to specifics.

 

Economists at Fannie Mae forecast that total home sales will fall by around 20% this year before rising again by nearly 15% in 2024.7 National Association of Realtors Chief Economist Lawrence Yun projects a less extreme dip of 7% in 2023 with a rebound of 10% next year.

 

Realtor.com Chief Economist Danielle Hale foresees something in between. “The deceleration in home sales is likely to continue as high home prices and mortgage rates limit the pool of eligible home buyers. We anticipate that existing home sales will decline another 14.1% in 2023.” She expects this drop in sales to lead to a nearly 23% increase in inventory levels this year, offering more choices for buyers who have struggled to find a home in the past.

 

However, given the severe lack of housing supply, even with a double-digit increase, the market is expected to remain relatively tight and below pre-pandemic levels. Hale points out: “It’s important to keep historical context in mind. The level of inventory in 2023 is expected to fall roughly 15% short of the 2019 average.”

 

What does it mean for you?  If you’ve been frustrated by a lack of inventory in the past, 2023 may bring new opportunities for you to find the perfect home. And today’s buyers have more negotiating power than they’ve had in years. Contact us to find out about current and future listings that meet your criteria.

 

If you’re hoping to sell, you may want to act fast; rising inventory levels will mean increased competition. 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.



HOME PRICES WILL REMAIN RELATIVELY STABLE

 

While some economists expect home prices to fall this year, many expect them to remain fairly stable. “For most parts of the country, home prices are holding steady since available inventory is extremely low,” said Yun at a November conference.

 

Nationally, Yun expects the average median home price to tick up by 1% in 2023, with some markets experiencing greater appreciation and others experiencing declines. Economists at Fannie Mae offer a similar projection, forecasting a slight decrease in their Home Price Index of about 1.5%, year-over-year.

 

Other experts foresee a larger fluctuation. Hale expects U.S. home prices to rise by 5.4% this year, while Morgan Stanley is forecasting a 7% drop from the peak in June 2022.

 

Still, many economists agree that a housing market crash like the one we experienced in 2008 is highly unlikely. The factors that caused home prices to plunge during the Great Recession—specifically lax lending standards and a surplus of inventory—aren’t prevalent in our current market. Therefore, home values are expected to remain comparatively stable.

 

What does it mean for you?  It can feel scary to buy a home when there’s uncertainty in the market. However, real estate is a long-term investment that has been shown to appreciate over time. And keep in mind that 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.

 

If you’re planning to sell this year, you’ll want to chart your path carefully to maximize your profits. Contact us for recommendations and to find out what your home could sell for in today’s market.



RENT PRICES WILL CONTINUE TO CLIMB

 

Affordability challenges for would-be buyers, inflationary pressures, and an overall lack of housing could continue to drive “above-average” rent price increases in much of the country. The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas expects year-over-year rental price growth to tick up to 8.4% in May before moderating later in the year.

 

According to Hale, “U.S. renters will continue to face challenges from limited supply and excess demand in the coming year that will keep upward pressure on rent growth. At a national level, we forecast rent growth of 6.3% in the next 12 months, somewhat ahead of home price growth and historical rent trends.”

 

However, there are signs that the surge in rent prices could be tapering. According to Jay Parsons, head of economics for rental housing software company RealPage, there’s some evidence of a slowdown in demand. He predicts that market-rate rents will rise just 3.3% this year. Still, analysts agree that a return to lower pre-pandemic rental prices is unlikely.

 

What does it mean for you?  Rent prices are expected to keep climbing. But you can lock in a set mortgage payment and build long-term wealth by putting that money toward a home purchase instead. Reach out for a free consultation to discuss your options. 

 

And if you’ve ever thought about purchasing a rental property, now may be a perfect time. Call today to get your investment property search started.



WE’RE HERE TO GUIDE YOU

 

While national real estate forecasts can provide a “big picture” outlook, real estate is local. As local market experts, we can guide you through the ins and outs of our market and the issues most likely to impact sales and drive home values in your particular neighborhood. 

 

If you’re considering buying or selling a home in 2023, contact us now to schedule a free consultation. We’ll work with you to develop an action plan to meet your real estate goals this year.

Dec. 2, 2022

How To Stretch Your Budget in a Season of Inflation

Home for the Holidays: How To Stretch Your Budget
in a Season of Inflation 

 

You don't have to break the bank to celebrate the holidays in style—even in this season of inflation. Prices may be higher on everything from food to gifts to decorations, but there are still plenty of opportunities to eke out extra savings. 

 

For example, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), you can save a couple of hundred dollars a year just by sealing your home and boosting its insulation. Other small fixes—such as swapping old light bulbs for LEDs and plugging electronics into a powerstrip—can boost your yearly savings enough to pay off some of your holiday budget.

 

And thanks to a pandemic-era boom in online shopping, it is easier than ever to find deals on new and pre-owned furniture, thrifted gifts, DIY decor, and more. Even secondhand stalwarts like Goodwill have joined the digital fray, making it a cinch to score gently-used treasures at extra-low prices.

 

You won't be the only one bargain-hunting your way to a more financially-stable New Year. Multiple surveys have found that inflation is not only chilling people's spending, it's also prompting shoppers to search for better deals and creative ways to reduce their bills.

 

Here are some strategies you can use to boost your holiday budget by trimming household expenses: 



  1. Hunt for Deals on Groceries

 

If you're finding it harder than it used to be to serve your family dinner on a budget, you're not alone. With the U.S. food-at-home index (a measure of grocery price inflation) at a 43-year high, many families are struggling to control costs on food staples, such as meat, dairy, produce, and grains.

 

That's made pulling off holiday gatherings especially stressful lately. But don't despair: Even with inflation, retailers are still giving motivated shoppers plenty of opportunities to whittle down their bills. 

 

The key is to pay attention to the cost of each item on your shopping list—not just the most expensive—and look for easy swaps and discounts. For example, try buying non-perishable items in bulk, especially when they’re on sale, and only in-season produce. Or trade name-brand goods for less expensive options from a store's private label. As you tap into your inner bargain hunter, you could be surprised by what you save when you’re more mindful of your selections. 

 

And unlike in the old days, you no longer have to clip your way through paper flyers to snag a bargain. Instead, you can save both time and money by scouting for deals online, digitally clipping coupons, and earning cash back through special apps and browsers. For example, coupon aggregation sites, like Coupons.com, and shopping apps—such as Checkout 51 and Ibotta—make it easy to score discounts and cash back on a variety of purchases, including groceries.

 

Also, check to see if your neighborhood grocer posts their weekly flyers online. If you're hosting a holiday party, the markdowns you find can help you narrow your food and recipe choices, based on what's currently on sale.



  1. Prep Your Home for Holiday Guests With Pre-Owned Finds 

 

You don't have to sacrifice style for the sake of preserving your holiday budget either. If you're expecting company this year and would like to add some festive flair to your home, you can do so inexpensively—especially if you're willing to decorate with items that are secondhand. 

 

Thrifting is back in vogue, with an increasing number of shoppers preferring pre-owned furniture and home goods. A recent study found that the “recommerce” market grew almost 15% last year, which was twice the pace of general retail. Plus, buying used isn’t just a great way to save money, it also helps the environment by keeping reusable items out of landfills.

 

Fortunately, it’s become easier to score secondhand deals online. For example, you can scout consumer marketplaces on Facebook, Craigslist, and OfferUp. Or you can take advantage of neighborhood freecycles and “Buy Nothing” groups. And a number of thrift shops now have e-commerce sites, including major chains, like Goodwill. 

 

If you're handy with a paintbrush or have some basic carpentry skills, you can also modernize some of your existing furniture by upcycling it yourself. Or, if you enjoy crafting, search through your own recycling or sewing bin for raw material to make one-of-a-kind decorations.

 

Don't stress yourself out, though, if you don't have the time or money to dress your home the way you hoped. “A house doesn’t have to be perfect or completely done for it to feel festive or inviting,” designer Justina Blakeney noted in an interview with the Washington Post. “These are family and friends, and they are not judging you.”



  1. Forgo Major Renovations in Favor of DIY Home Improvements 

 

Holidays are always a tricky time to undergo big renovations. But with ongoing worker and material shortages, now is an especially bad time to commit. Inflated costs can add thousands to your reno budget –—and unnecessary stress to your holiday. 

 

Instead of suffering through an ill-timed remodel, you're better off saving this time of year for simpler, less expensive projects you can do yourself. 

 

One winter-perfect upgrade to consider: Build a DIY fire pit so that you and your guests can roast marshmallows and relax in the cozy comfort of your backyard. You can also add some extra ambiance by hanging energy-efficient LED outdoor string lights that change from white to colorful. These are festive enough for the holidays, but also versatile enough to use year-round.

 

Or, if you'd rather curl up by an indoor fire, channel your DIY energy into a fireplace upgrade. Adding a wooden beam to the top of your mantel can add an extra layer of coziness. Alternatively, re-tiling or painting your fireplace surround can lend contemporary flair. 

 

Just be sure to stick to DIY projects that you know you can do a quality job on—especially if your changes will be difficult to reverse. Feel free to reach out for a free assessment to find out how your planned renovations could impact your home’s resale value.

 

 

  1. Invest in Home Maintenance Projects That Cut Your Utility Bills 

 

You can save money by completing basic home maintenance tasks, such as swapping your furnace filter and updating your lightbulbs. But if you really want to lower your bills this winter, consider projects that make your home more energy efficient. 

 

According to the EPA, 9 out of 10 homes in the U.S. are under-insulated, which wastes energy and money. Luckily, there are plenty of DIY insulation projects that you can complete in just a few days. For example, the EPA offers guides on how to: 

 

  • Insulate your attic or basement crawl space

  • Weatherstrip doors and windows

  • Seal areas around the house that may be leaking air, including electrical outlets and fireplaces

 

The savings you get from these projects can really add up. The EPA estimates that sealing and insulating your ducts can make your HVAC system up to 20% more efficient. And thanks to new provisions from the Inflation Reduction Act, you can also save a bundle this year by investing in certain energy-efficient upgrades and claiming a tax credit. Be sure to check with us about any local rebates and incentives that may be available, too, before getting started on a project. 

 

 

  1. Use Expense Tracking to Boost Your Holiday Budget 




To avoid overextending yourself during the holidays, one of the best things you can do is track your income and expenses. If your monthly budget is usually tight, you may need to make some adjustments to free up cash for holiday expenditures.

 

For example, here's a sample budget worksheet that we created. Start by adding in your expenses: Under the “Typical” column, you can list your standard expenses, and under the “Adjusted” column, list any areas where you could cut back on spending. 

 

Then consider how your standard wages may be adjusted this month by extra shifts, additional tips, or an end-of-year bonus. By decreasing your spending and/or increasing your income, you can build room in your budget for holiday gifts and gatherings.

 

HOUSEHOLD BUDGET WORKSHEET

 

Typical

Adjusted

Difference (+/-)

HOUSING

Mortgage/taxes/insurance or Rent

     

Utilities (electricity, water, gas, trash)

     

Phone, internet, cable

     

Home maintenance and repairs

     

FOOD

Groceries

     

Restaurants

     

TRANSPORTATION

Car payment/insurance

     

Gas, maintenance, repairs

     

OTHER

Health insurance

     

Clothing and personal care

     

Childcare

     

Entertainment

     

Charitable contributions

     

Savings, retirement, college fund

     

INCOME

Salary/wages

     

Bonus, tips, other

     

MONTHLY TOTALS

Total Adjusted Income

 

Total Adjusted Expenses

-

EXTRA SAVINGS FOR YOUR HOLIDAY BUDGET

 

 

Feel free to utilize this worksheet as a template that you can personalize to your needs, or ask us for a PDF copy that you can print out and use right away. 



WE’RE HERE TO HELP

 

We would love to help you meet your financial goals now and in the year ahead. Whether you want to find lower-cost alternatives for home renovations, maintenance, or services, we are happy to provide our insights and referrals. 

 

And if you’re saving up to buy a new home, we can help with that, too. This is the perfect time to score a great deal because only the most motivated homebuyers and sellers are active in the market right now. So reach out to schedule a free consultation. We can fill you in on some of the exciting programs and incentives we’re seeing that help make homeownership more affordable.




Nov. 2, 2022

How To Maximize Your Home's Sale Price

7 Tips to Maximize Your Home’s Sale Price

 

Over the past few years, a real estate buying frenzy bid up home prices to eye-popping amounts. However, as mortgage rates have risen, buyer demand has cooled.  Consequently, home sellers who enter the market today may need to reset their expectations.

 

The reality is, it’s no longer enough to stick a “for sale” sign in the yard and wait for buyers to bang down the door. If you want to net the most money possible for your property in today’s market, you’ll need an effective game plan and a skilled team of professionals to implement it. 

 

Fortunately, we’ve developed a listing strategy that combines our proven approach to preparation, pricing, and promotion—all designed to help you get top dollar for your home. But you will play an important role in the selling process, as well. 

 

Here are some crucial steps you can take to set yourself up for success as a home seller in this market:



  1. Make Strategic Repairs and Improvements

 

When you sell something, it’s important to consider what your customer wants to buy. And according to the National Association of Realtors, only 6% of today’s buyers report that they are looking for a DIY fixer-upper. The vast majority want a move-in-ready home, which means that any outstanding repairs or dated features can be a major turn-off.

 

Before your home goes on the market, we’ll conduct a thorough walk-through to identify any problems that could prevent it from selling. In some cases, we may recommend a professional pre-listing inspection. Finding and addressing issues like leaks, rot, and foundation problems up front can pay off in the final sale price. Plus, it prevents sales from falling through because of a red flag on the home inspection, a scenario no seller wants to face.

 

Beyond repairs, we’ll also help you identify the simple upgrades that offer the highest return on your investment. For example, new paint can give your home a fresh look at a reasonable cost. However, it’s important to choose the right colors. One study found that painting your bathroom light blue could lead to a 1.6% increase in the offer price! Similarly, minor landscaping improvements can pay off in a major way. A healthy lawn offers an estimated 256% return on investment.

 

 

  1. Declutter and Depersonalize

 

When buyers look at a home for sale, they’re trying to envision themselves living there. That’s hard to do if it’s chock-full of the current owner’s family photos, children’s artwork, and souvenir collections. Plus, cluttered homes look smaller, and older items can make them feel dated. 

 

Decluttering before you put your home up for sale will help you in the long run—after all, you’ll need to move all your things to your new home eventually. Now is the time to shred, digitize, or organize old documents, donate old clothes, or move bulky furniture into storage. At a minimum, you’ll want to pack away excess items neatly before potential buyers view the home. Remove personal photos and other trinkets to create a blank slate that viewers can imagine decorating with their own prized possessions.

 

If you feel overwhelmed by this process, we’d be happy to make recommendations or refer you to a local service provider who can help.



  1. Stage Your Home for Success

 

Just as you take care to dress professionally for a job interview, you should always ensure your home looks its best for potential buyers. Home shoppers today are used to scrolling through Instagram and Pinterest, and they want to see the same wow factor when touring a home.

 

The process of making your home look its best and appeal to potential buyers is called staging, and it can be a game changer. According to the International Association of Home Staging Professionals, an average priced staged home sells 5 to 11 times faster than its unstaged counterpart. Even better, the majority of staged homes sell for 4% to 20% over list price!

 

Some sellers hire a professional stager, who may bring in furniture and decor to increase the home’s appeal. Others choose to stage their homes themselves. We can help advise you on which route to choose and how much to invest in the process. 

 

It’s also important to consider what buyers in your neighborhood are likely to be looking for in a home. We can help guide your staging choices with our local market insights. For example, in neighborhoods where a large share of residents work from home, it may be effective to stage one room as an office space so potential buyers can envision their day-to-day routine.



  1. Prep for Each Showing

 

Most of us don’t live picture-perfect lives, and our homes reflect that (sometimes messy) reality. But when your home is on the market, it’s important to ensure that it is always ready for viewers, even on short notice. A missed showing is a missed opportunity to sell your home!

 

Before your home hits the market, it may be worth hiring professional cleaners to get in all the nooks and crannies. After, try your best to keep things spic and span. Just a few minutes a day wiping down counters, sweeping the floors, and vacuuming can make a big difference. 

 

It’s also worth noting that most buyers will open cabinets, drawers, and closets—so try to make sure everything is as neat and organized as possible. Keep toiletries and small appliances off countertops, and secure valuables and sensitive documents in a safe or off-site.

 

Want help finding a cleaning service to make your home shine for buyers? Reach out for a referral!



  1. Price Your Home Correctly From the Start

 

In the past few years, you may have seen homes in your neighborhood sell for shocking amounts and wondered if you could get a similar price for your property. The temptation to list your home on the high side can be strong, but it’s best to be realistic from the start. Even in a hot market, some homes will sit for months. And the longer a property is listed, the more buyers worry that something is wrong with it.

 

Of course, you also don’t want to set your price too low and lose out on potential profit. That’s why it’s essential to work with real estate agents (like us!) who know the ins and outs of our local market and what buyers are willing to pay today. In a quickly-evolving market, comparable sales from a few months ago can lag the current market reality. 

 

Fortunately, if you’ve owned your home for several years, chances are good that it’s worth much more today than you paid for it. That means you stand to walk away with a handsome profit. In fact, recent reports show that homeowner equity is at an all-time high.



  1. Avoid Acting on Emotion

 

The past few years of over-asking-price offers with few contingencies have set certain expectations for many sellers. It’s only natural to feel hurt or even offended if an offer comes in lower than what you think your home is worth. 

 

However, it’s important to keep in mind that those market conditions were unprecedented, and we are now returning to a more typical market. Home sellers who act rationally, rather than emotionally, are going to get the best results. 

 

Remember: You can always counter a low offer. The same goes for repair requests and contingencies—everything is negotiable. However, it’s important to accept that the market is adjusting and flexibility is key. Keep your expectations reasonable, and remain open-minded. And you can rest assured knowing that we’ll be by your side every step of the way to help you navigate the process and negotiate a great deal.



  1. Work With a Local Market Expert

 

The economics impacting mortgage rates may be national, but real estate markets are hyperlocal. That’s why working with a professional agent who understands your neighborhood’s dynamics is essential. Through our experience, we’ve gathered insights that can help us position your home for success in this market. Plus, we have the resources to connect with qualified buyers searching for a home like yours. 

 

Working with a knowledgeable agent is also the secret to getting as much money as possible for your home. We have access to extensive data on recent sales in your neighborhood, which we will use to price and promote your property. That’s one reason why homes sold by agents draw much higher prices than those sold by their owners alone. While for-sale-by-owner homes went for a median price of $260,000 in 2020, the median for homes sold by agents was $318,000. That’s a difference of $58,000—and money you don’t want to leave on the table.



YOUR AGENT AND ADVOCATE

Selling a home in a fast-changing market can be stressful. You’re likely to hear conflicting advice and opinions from people in your life, and decisions like what color to paint your front door or how much to list your home for can be overwhelming. 

 

That’s where we come in. The market may be adjusting, but it’s still highly advantageous for sellers—and we’re here to help you make the most of it. We’re listing experts in our area, and we know what steps you need to take for a smooth, profitable transaction.

 

If you’re considering buying or selling a home, we invite you to reach out to schedule a free consultation. We’re happy to talk through your specific situation and goals and help you identify your next steps.