Area Real Estate News & Market Trends

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

Oct. 2, 2019

4 Tips to Improve Your Home and Save on Your Energy Bill

 

By making a few key upgrades to your home, you’ll save on your utility bills and improve the energy efficiency of your home. When you’re ready to sell your house, these key features will make it even more attractive to potential buyers.

As a homeowner, it’s important to keep your home running efficiently, not only to save money, but also to help the environment thrive. October 2nd is Energy Efficiency Day, a perfect time to think about making some key upgrades that will improve the efficiency of your home. If you’re looking to sell your house and increase the pool of potential buyers in your market, the upgrades below are truly a must.

According with Wallet Hub,

“In the U.S., energy costs eat between 5 and 22 percent of families’ total after-tax income.”

What should you spend on utilities?

Money Management says,

“If you’re working with a budget, and trust me, you should be, your utility costs should be no more than 8-10 percent of your monthly income.”

How can you make your home more efficient? 

EnergyEfficiencyDay.Org provides some handy tips that can help you improve the energy efficiency of your home. Here are a few simple ones to consider, and how to make them happen:

1. Make the Switch to LED

LEDs are a great example of how innovation and technology can make your life easier. They last at least 25 times longer and consume up to 90 percent less electricity than incandescent bulbs.

Tip: By switching five of your home’s most frequently used bulbs with ENERGY STAR® certified LEDs, it’s possible to save $75 on energy costs annually.

2. Seal Those Leaks

On average, heating and cooling account for almost half of a home’s energy consumption. In fact, all the little leaks can be equivalent to leaving open a 3-foot-by-3-foot window.

Tip: Take simple steps like caulking windows, sealing leaks around chimneys and recessed lighting, and sliding draft guards under your doors to save up to 20% on heating costs.

3. Heat and Cool Efficiently

Don’t waste money heating or cooling an empty home. Install a programmable thermostat and in colder weather schedule your home’s heat to lower when you are away or asleep and increase when you are returning home or waking-up. In warm weather, schedule the thermostat to raise the temperature when you are away or asleep, and lower it at other times.

Tip: Follow the U.S. Department of Energy recommended temperatures and be energy-efficient all year. 

4. Maintain Your HVAC System

Make sure to clean or change your furnace filters regularly. A dirty furnace filter will slow down air flow, making the system work harder to keep you warm (or cool) and costing you more money.

Tip: Consider getting a winter tune-up. Just as a tune-up for your car can improve your gas mileage, a semi-annual or yearly tune-up of your heating and cooling system can be vital to improve efficiency, saving you money and making your home more comfortable. 

Bottom Line 

By making a few key upgrades to your home, you’ll save on your utility bills and improve the energy efficiency of your home. When you’re ready to sell your house, these key features will make it even more attractive to potential buyers. Let’s get together to discuss what buyers are looking for when it comes to energy efficiency options in our area.

Posted in Market Updates, Sellers
Oct. 1, 2019

What to Expect from Your Home Inspection

 

You made an offer and it was accepted. Your next task is to have the home inspected prior to closing. Agents often recommend you make your offer contingent upon a clean home inspection.

This contingency allows you to renegotiate the price you offered for the home, ask the sellers to cover repairs, or in some cases, walk away if challenges arise. Your agent can advise you on the best course of action once the report is filed.

How to Choose an Inspector

Your agent will most likely have a short list of inspectors they’ve worked with in the past to recommend to you. HGTV suggests you consider the following five areas when choosing the right home inspector for you:

1. Qualifications – Find out what’s included in your inspection and if the age or location of your home may warrant specific certifications or specialties.

2. Sample Reports – Ask for a sample inspection report so you can review how thoroughly they will be inspecting your dream home. In most cases, the more detailed the report,

the better.

3. References – Do your homework. Ask for phone numbers and names of past clients who you can call to discuss their experiences.

4. Memberships – Not all inspectors belong to a national or state association of home inspectors, and membership in one of these groups should not be the only way to evaluate your choice. Membership in one of these organizations does, however, often mean continued training and education are required.

5. Errors and Omission Insurance – Find out what the liability of the inspector or inspection company is once the inspection is over. The inspector is only human, after all, and it is possible they might miss something they should see.

Ask your inspector if it’s okay for you to tag along during the inspection, so they can point out anything that should be addressed or fixed.

Don’t be surprised to see your inspector climbing on the roof or crawling around in the attic and on the floors. The job of the inspector is to protect your investment and find any issues with the home, including but not limited to: the roof, plumbing, electrical components, appliances, heating and air conditioning systems, ventilation, windows, fireplace and chimney, foundation, and so much more.

Bottom Line

They say, ‘ignorance is bliss,’ but not when investing your hard-earned money into a home of your own. Work with a professional you can trust to give you the most information possible, so you can make the most educated decision about your purchase.

Sept. 30, 2019

How Does the Supply of Homes for Sale Impact Buyer Demand?

 

The latest edition of the Realtors Confidence Index from NAR sheds some light on the relationship between seller traffic (supply) and buyer traffic (demand). Until the supply of homes for sale starts to meet buyer demand, prices will continue to rise.

The price of any item is determined by supply, as well as the market’s demand for the item. The National Association of REALTORS (NAR) surveys “over 50,000 real estate practitioners about their expectations for home sales, prices and market conditions” for their monthly REALTORS Confidence Index.

Their latest edition sheds some light on the relationship between seller traffic (supply) and buyer traffic (demand).

Buyer Demand

The map below was created after asking the question: “How would you rate buyer traffic in your area?”

The darker the blue, the stronger the demand for homes is in that area. The survey shows that in 3 of the 50 U.S. states, buyer demand is now very strong; only 2 of the 50 states have a ‘weak’ demand. Overall, buyer demand is slightly lower than this time last year but remains strong.

Seller Supply 

The index also asked: “How would you rate seller traffic in your area?”

As the map below shows, 18 states reported ‘weak’ seller traffic, 29 states and Washington, D.C. reported ‘stable’ seller traffic, and 3 states reported ‘strong’ seller traffic. This means there are far fewer homes on the market than what is needed to satisfy the buyers who are looking for homes.

Bottom Line

Looking at the maps above, it is not hard to see why prices are appreciating in many areas of the country. Until the supply of homes for sale starts to meet buyer demand, prices will continue to increase. If you are debating listing your home for sale, let’s get together to help you capitalize on the demand in our market now.

Sept. 27, 2019

What Is the Cost of Waiting Until Next Year to Buy?

Some Highlights:

  • The “cost of waiting to buy” is defined as the additional funds necessary to buy a home if prices and interest rates were to increase over a period of time.
  • Freddie Mac forecasts interest rates will rise to 3.8% by Q4 2020.
  • CoreLogic predicts home prices will appreciate by 5.4% over the next 12 months.
  • If you’re ready and willing to buy your dream home, now is a great time to buy.

Sept. 26, 2019

Homeowners Are Happy! Renters? Not So Much.

 

When people talk about homeownership and the American Dream, much of the conversation revolves around the financial benefits of owning a home. However, two recent studies show that the non-financial benefits might be even more valuable.

In a recent survey, Bank of America asked homeowners: “Does owning a home make you happier than renting?” 93% of the respondents answered yes, while only 7% said no. The survey also revealed:

  • More than 80% said they wouldn’t go back to renting
  • 88% agreed that buying a home is the “best decision they have ever made
  • 79% believed owning a home has changed them for the better

Those surveyed talked about the “emotional equity” that is built through homeownership. The study says more than half of current homeowners define a home as a place to make memories, compared to 42% who view a home as a financial investment. Besides building wealth, the survey also showed that homeownership enhances quality of life:

  • 67% of current homeowners believed their relationships with family and loved ones have changed for the better since they bought a home
  • 78% are satisfied with the quality of their social life
  • 82% of homeowners said they were satisfied with the amount of time they spend on their hobbies and passions since purchasing a home
  • 75% of homeowners pursued new hobbies after buying a home

Homeowners seem to be very happy.

Renters Tell a Different Story…

According to the latest Zillow Housing Aspirations Report, 45% of renters regret renting rather than buying — more than five times the share of homeowners (8%) who regret buying instead of renting. Here are the four major reasons people regret renting, according to the report:

  • 52% regret not being able to build equity
  • 52% regret not being able to customize or improve their rentals
  • 50% regret that the rent is so high
  • 49% regret that they lack private outdoor space

These two studies prove that renting is just not the same as owning.

Bottom Line

There are both financial and non-financial benefits to homeownership. As good as the “financial equity” is, it doesn’t compare to the “emotional equity” gained through owning your own home.

Sept. 25, 2019

Are You Ready for the ‘Black Friday’ of Real Estate?

 

According to a new study from realtor.com, the week of September 22 is the best time of year to buy a home, making it ‘Black Friday’ for homebuyers.

Every year, ‘Black Friday’ is a highly anticipated event for eager shoppers. Some people prepare for weeks, crafting and refining a strategic shopping agenda, determining exactly when to arrive at each store, and capturing a wish list of discounted must-have items to purchase. But what about buying a home? Is there a ‘Black Friday’ for the home-buying process? Believe it or not, there is.

According to a new study from realtor.com, the week of September 22 is the best time of year to buy a home, making it ‘Black Friday’ for homebuyers.

After evaluating housing data in 53 metros from 2016 to 2018, realtor.com determined that the first week of fall is when buyers “tend to find less competition, more inventory, and the biggest reductions on list price.

The report explains,

“During the first week of fall, buyers tend to face 26% less competition from other buyers, and they are likely to see 6.1% more homes available on the market compared to other weeks of the year…nearly 6% of homes on the market will also see price reductions, averaging 2.4% less than their peak.”

What’s so different about the first week of fall?

George Ratiu, Senior Economist with realtor.com says,

“As summer winds down and kids return to school, many families hit pause on their home search and wait until the next season to start again…as seasonal inventory builds up and restores itself to more buyer-friendly levels, fall buyers will be in a better position to take advantage of today’s low mortgage rates and increased purchasing power.”

Learn more about how prices, listings, and buyer competition stack up during the first week of fall in your metro area.

Bottom Line

If you want to take advantage of the ‘Black Friday’ of home buying, let’s get together to discuss the benefits of making your next move this fall.

Sept. 24, 2019

Should You Fix Your House Up or Sell Now?

 

If you’re thinking about remodeling your house before you list it, take a look at these three tips to help you decide if you really need to fix it up before you sell. The answer may surprise you.

With the fall season upon us, change is in the air. For many families, children are growing up and moving out of the house, maybe leaving for college or taking a jump into the working world. Parents are finding themselves as empty nesters for the first time. The question inevitably arises: is it finally time to downsize?

If you’re pondering that thought, you may also be wondering if you should fix-up your house before you sell it, or go straight to the market as-is, allowing a potential buyer to do the updates and remodeling. If you’re one of the many homeowners this camp, here are a few tips to help you decide which way to go.

1. Analyze Your Market

A real estate professional can help you to understand your market and the potential level of buyer interest and demand for your home. Are you in a seller’s market or a buyer’s market? This can change based on the price range of your home, too. A professional can also give you some insight on what you can change or remodel, and how to declutter your house to make it attractive to buyers in your area.

2. Get an Inspector

Right now, the average length of time a family stays in a home is between 9-10 years. That’s a little longer than the historical average, so if you’ve been living in your home for a while, it might be time to make some significant improvements. Think: electrical system, HVAC units, roof, siding, etc. An inspector can give you a better idea of the condition of your home, if it is up to current code standards, and recommendations on how to have your house ready before you put it on the market.

3. Decide If You Need to Remodel 

You may also be thinking about driving buyer appeal with something like a kitchen or a bathroom remodel. If so, first dig into the market value of your home, and compare it to the actual cost of the remodel. A local real estate professional can help you determine your home’s market value, and you’ll want to get a few quotes from contractors on the potential remodel pricing as well. Once you have those two factors narrowed down, you can to decide if a remodel will give you a return on your investment when you sell. Oftentimes, it is actually more advantageous to price your house to sell, list it competitively, and then let the buyer pick the colors they want for their bathroom tiles and the type of countertop they prefer. The 2019 Cost vs. Value Report in Remodeling Magazine compares the average cost for remodeling projects with the value those projects typically retain at resale.

Bottom Line

Nationwide, inventory is low, meaning there is less than the 6-month housing supply needed for a normal market. This drives buyer demand, creating a perfect time to sell. If you’re considering selling your house, let’s get together to help you confidently determine what will be the best choice for you and your family.

Sept. 23, 2019

Is Your House “Priced to Sell Immediately”?

 

In today’s real estate market, more houses are coming to market every day. Eager buyers are searching for their dream homes, so setting the right price for your house is one of the most important things you can do.

According to CoreLogic’s latest Home Price Index, home values have risen at over 6% a year over the past two years, but have started to slow to 3.6% over the last 12 months. By this time next year, CoreLogic predicts home values will be 5.4% higher.

With prices slowing from their previous pace, homeowners must realize that pricing their homes a little over market value to leave room for negotiation will actually dramatically decrease the number of buyers who will see their listing (see the chart below).

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

The secret is making sure your house is Priced To Sell Immediately (PTSI). That way, your home will be seen by the most potential buyers. It will sell at a great price before more competition comes to the market.

Bottom Line

If you’re debating listing your house for sale, let’s get together to discuss how to price your home appropriately and maximize your exposure.

Sept. 20, 2019

4 Reasons to Sell This Fall

Some Highlights:

  • Buyers are active in the market and often competing with one another for available listings.
  • Housing inventory is still under the 6-month supply found in a normal housing market.
  • Homes are still selling relatively quickly, averaging 31 days on the market.

Sept. 19, 2019

One of the Top Reasons to Own a Home

 

One of the benefits of homeownership is that it is a “forced savings plan.” Here’s how it works: You make a mortgage payment each month. Part of that payment is applied to the principal balance of your mortgage. Each month you owe less on the home. The difference between the value of the home and what you owe is called equity.

If your home has appreciated since the time you purchased it, that increase in value also raises your equity. Over time, the equity in your home could be substantial. Recently, CoreLogic revealed that the average homeowner gained more than $65,000 in equity over the last 5 years.

Unlike last decade, homeowners are no longer foolishly tapping into that equity. In 2006-2008, many owners used their homes like an ATM by pulling equity out to purchase new cars, jet skis, or lavish vacations. They were pulling out cash (equity) from an appreciating asset, and then spending it on rapidly depreciating items. That is not happening anymore.

Over 50% of Homes Have at Least 50% Equity

The number of homeowners that currently have at least 50% equity in their home is astonishing. According to the Urban Institute, 37.1% of all homes in the country are mortgage-free. In a home equity study, ATTOM Data Solutions revealed that of the 62.9% of homes with a mortgage, 25.6% have at least 50% equity. That number has been increasing over the last five years:

By doing a little math, we can see that 53.2% of all homes in this country have at least 50% equity right now. Of all homes, 37.1% are mortgage-free and an additional 16.1% with a mortgage have at least 50% equity.

Bottom Line

Homeownership is different than renting. When you own, your housing expense (the mortgage payment) comes back to you in the form of equity in your home. That doesn’t happen with your rent payment. Your rent helps build your landlord’s equity instead.