Mortgage rates have been on a roller coaster ride this year, rising and falling amid inflationary pressures and economic uncertainty. And even the experts are divided when it comes to predicting where rates are headed next.1
This climate has been unsettling for some homebuyers and sellers. However, with proper planning, you can work toward qualifying for the best mortgage rates available today - and open up the possibility of refinancing at a lower rate in the future.
How does a lower mortgage rate save you money? According to Trading Economics, the average new mortgage size in the United States is currently around $410,000.2 Let’s compare a 5.0% versus a 6.0% fixed-interest rate on that amount over a 30-year term.
|Monthly Payment on $410,000 Loan
(excludes taxes, insurance, etc.)
Over 30 Years
|Difference in Interest
With a 5% rate, your monthly payments would be about $2,201. At 6%, those payments would jump to $2,458, or around $257 more. That adds up to a difference of almost $92,600 over the lifetime of the loan. In other words, shaving off just one percentage point on your mortgage could put nearly $100K in your pocket over time.
So, how can you improve your chances of securing a low mortgage rate? Try these eight strategies:
1. Raise your credit score.
Borrowers with higher credit scores are viewed as “less risky” to lenders, so they are offered lower interest rates. A good credit score typically starts at 690 and can move up into the 800s.3 If you don’t know your score, check with your bank or credit card company to see if they offer free access. If not, there are a plethora of both free and paid credit monitoring services you can utilize.
If your credit score is low, you can take steps to improve it, including:4
Over time, you should start to see your credit score climb — which will help you qualify for a lower mortgage rate.
2. Keep steady employment.
If you are preparing to purchase a home, it might not be the best time to make a major career change. Unfortunately, frequent job moves or gaps in your résumé could hurt your borrower eligibility.
When you apply for a mortgage, lenders will typically review your employment and income over the past 24 months.5 If you’ve earned a steady paycheck, you could qualify for a better interest rate. A stable employment history gives lenders more confidence in your ability to repay the loan.
That doesn’t mean a job change will automatically disqualify you from purchasing a home. But certain moves, like switching from W-2 to 1099 (independent contractor) income, could throw a wrench in your home buying plans.6
3. Lower your debt-to-income ratios.
Even with a high credit score and a great job, lenders will be concerned if your debt payments are consuming too much of your income. That’s where your debt-to-income (DTI) ratios will come into play.
There are two types of DTI ratios:7
What’s considered a good DTI ratio? For better rates, lenders typically want to see a front-end DTI ratio that’s no higher than 28% and a back-end ratio that’s 36% or less.7
If your DTI ratios are higher, you can take steps to lower them, like purchasing a less expensive home or increasing your down payment. Your back-end ratio can also be decreased by paying down your existing debt. A bump in your monthly income will also bring down your DTI ratios.
4. Increase your down payment.
Minimum down payment requirements vary by loan type. But, in some cases, you can qualify for a lower mortgage rate if you make a larger down payment.8
Why do lenders care about your down payment size? Because borrowers with significant equity in their homes are less likely to default on their mortgages. That’s why conventional lenders often require borrowers to purchase private mortgage insurance (PMI) if they put down less than 20%.
A larger down payment will also lower your overall borrowing costs and decrease your monthly mortgage payment since you’ll be taking out a smaller loan. Just be sure to keep enough cash on hand to cover closing costs, moving expenses, and any furniture or other items you’ll need to get settled into your new space.
5. Compare loan types.
All mortgages are not created equal. The loan type you choose could save (or cost) you money depending on your qualifications and circumstances.
For example, here are several common loan types available in the U.S. today:9
When considering loan type, you’ll also want to weigh the pros and cons of a fixed-rate versus variable-rate mortgage:11
According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, 10% of American homebuyers are now selecting ARMs, up from just 4% at the start of this year.12 An ARM might be a good option if you plan to sell your home before the rate resets. However, life is unpredictable, so it’s important to weigh the benefits and risks involved.
6. Shorten your mortgage term.
A mortgage term is the length of time your mortgage agreement is in effect. The terms are typically 15, 20, or 30 years.13 Although the majority of homebuyers choose 30-year terms, if your goal is to minimize the amount you pay in interest, you should crunch the numbers on a 15-year or 20-year mortgage.
With shorter loan terms, the risk of default is less, so lenders typically offer lower interest rates.13 However, it’s important to note that even though you’ll pay less interest, your mortgage payment will be higher each month, since you’ll be making fewer total payments. So before you agree to a shorter term, make sure you have enough room in your budget to comfortably afford the larger payment.
7. Get quotes from multiple lenders.
When shopping for a mortgage, be sure to solicit quotes from several different lenders and lender types to compare the interest rates and fees. Depending upon your situation, you could find that one institution offers a better deal for the type of loan and term length you want.
Some borrowers choose to work with a mortgage broker. Like an insurance broker, they can help you gather quotes and find the best rate. However, if you use a broker, make sure you understand how they are compensated and contact more than one so you can compare their recommendations and fees.14
Don’t forget that we can be a valuable resource in finding a lender, especially if you are new to the home buying process. After a consultation, we can discuss your financing needs and connect you with loan officers or brokers best suited for your situation.
8. Consider mortgage points.
Even if you score a great interest rate on your mortgage, you can lower it even further by paying for points. When you buy mortgage points - also known as discount points - you essentially pay your lender an upfront fee in exchange for a lower interest rate. The cost to purchase a point is 1% of your mortgage amount. For each point you buy, your mortgage rate will decrease by a set amount, typically 0.25%.15 You’ll need upfront cash to pay for the points, but you can more than make up for the cost in interest savings over time.
However, it only makes sense to buy mortgage points if you plan to stay in the home long enough to recoup the cost. You can determine the breakeven point, or the period of time you’d need to keep the mortgage to make up for the fee, by dividing the cost by the amount saved each month.15 This can help you determine whether or not mortgage points would be a good investment for you.
Unfortunately, the rock-bottom mortgage rates we saw during the height of the pandemic are behind us. However, today’s 30-year fixed rates still fall beneath the historical average of around 8% - and are well below the all-time peak of 18.45% in 1981.16, 17
And although higher mortgage rates have made it more expensive to finance a home purchase, they have also eliminated some of the competition from the market. Consequently, today’s buyers are finding more homes to choose from, fewer bidding wars, and more sellers willing to negotiate or offer incentives such as cash toward closing costs or mortgage points.
If you’re ready and able to buy a home, there’s no reason that concerns about mortgage rates should sideline your plans. The reality is that many economists predict home prices to continue climbing.18 So you may be better off buying today at a slightly higher rate than waiting and paying more for a home a few years from now. You can always refinance if mortgage rates go down, but you can’t make up for the lost years of equity growth and appreciation.
If you have questions or would like more information about buying or selling a home, reach out to schedule a free consultation. We’d love to help you weigh your options, navigate this shifting market, and reach your real estate goals!
1. Washington Post - https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2022/08/04/mortgage-rates-sink-below-5-percent-first-time-four-months/
2. Trading Economics - https://tradingeconomics.com/united-states/average-mortgage-size
3. NerdWallet - https://www.nerdwallet.com/article/finance/what-is-a-good-credit-score
4. Debt.org - https://www.debt.org/credit/improving-your-score/
5. The Balance - https://www.thebalance.com/will-multiple-loan-applications-hurt-my-credit-score-960544
6. Time - https://time.com/nextadvisor/mortgages/how-lenders-evaluate-your-employment/
7. Bankrate - https://www.bankrate.com/mortgages/why-debt-to-income-matters-in-mortgages/
8. NerdWallet - https://www.nerdwallet.com/article/mortgages/payment-buy-home
9. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau - https://www.consumerfinance.gov/owning-a-home/loan-options/
10. NerdWallet - https://www.nerdwallet.com/article/mortgages/jumbo-loans-what-you-need-to-know
11. Bankrate - https://www.bankrate.com/mortgages/arm-vs-fixed-rate/
12. MarketWatch - https://www.marketwatch.com/picks/as-mortgage-rates-rise-heres-exactly-how-more-homebuyers-are-snagging-mortgage-rates-around-4-01656513665
13. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau - https://www.consumerfinance.gov/owning-a-home/loan-options/#anchor_loan-term_361c08846349fe
14. Federal Trade Commission - https://consumer.ftc.gov/articles/shopping-mortgage-faqs
15. Bankrate - https://www.bankrate.com/mortgages/mortgage-points/
16. CNBC - https://www.cnbc.com/select/mortgage-rates-today-still-relatively-low/
17. Rocket Mortgage - https://www.rocketmortgage.com/learn/historical-mortgage-rates-30-year-fixed
18. MarketWatch - https://www.marketwatch.com/picks/continuing-home-price-deceleration-heres-what-5-economists-and-real-estate-pros-predict-will-happen-to-the-housing-market-this-year-01659347993
The annual inflation rate in the United States is currently around 7.5%—the highest it has been since 1982.1 It doesn’t matter if you’re a cashier, lawyer, plumber, or retiree; if you spend U.S. dollars, inflation impacts you.
Economists expect the effects of inflation, like a higher cost of goods, to continue.2 Luckily, an investment in real estate can ease some of the financial strain.
Here’s what you need to know about inflation, how it impacts you, and how an investment in real estate can help.
WHAT IS INFLATION AND HOW DOES IT IMPACT ME?
Inflation is a decline in the value of money. When the rate of inflation rises, prices for goods and services go up. Therefore, a dollar buys you a little bit less with every passing day.
The consumer price index, or CPI, is a standard measure of inflation. Based on the latest CPI data, prices increased 7.5% from January 2021 to January 2022.1 A little bit of inflation is considered healthy for the economy, but 7.5% in a single year is high.
How does inflation affect your life? Here are a few of the negative impacts:
● Decreased Purchasing Power
We touched on this already, but as prices rise, your dollar won’t stretch as far as it used to. That means you’ll be able to purchase fewer goods and services with a limited budget.
● Increased Borrowing Costs
In an effort to curb inflation, the Federal Reserve is expected to raise the federal funds rate. Therefore, consumers are likely to pay a higher interest rate on new mortgages, car loans, and variable-rate credit cards.3
● Lower Standard of Living
Wage growth tends to lag behind price increases. According to Moody Analytics, when adjusted for inflation, average weekly earnings in January were down 3.1% from a year earlier.4 As such, life is becoming less affordable for everyone. Inflation can force those on a fixed income, like retirees, to make lifestyle changes and prioritize essentials.
● Eroded Savings
If you store all your savings in a bank account, inflation is even more damaging. As of February 2022, the national average interest rate for a savings account is 0.06%, not nearly enough to keep up with inflation. And economists don’t expect that rate to go much higher.3
One of the best ways to mitigate these effects is to find a place to invest your money other than the bank. Even though interest rates are expected to rise, they’re unlikely to get high enough to beat inflation. If you hoard cash, the value of your money will decrease every year and more rapidly in years with elevated inflation.
REAL ESTATE: A PROVEN HEDGE AGAINST INFLATION
So where is a good place to invest your money to protect (hedge) against the impacts of inflation? There are several investment vehicles that financial advisors traditionally recommend, including:
Some people invest in stocks as their primary inflation hedge. However, the stock market can become volatile during inflationary times, as we’ve seen in recent months.5
Commodities are tangible assets, like oil, livestock, and minerals. The theory is that the price of commodities should climb alongside inflation. But the classic choice–gold–hasn’t risen consistently during periods of inflation since the 1970s, according to data from Morningstar Direct.6
● Inflation-Indexed Bonds
Treasury inflation-protected securities, or TIPS, are U.S. government-issued bonds that are indexed to the inflation rate. Bonds are considered low risk, but the returns they offer are generally low, as well.7
● Real Estate
Real estate prices across the board tend to rise along with inflation and often rise faster than inflation.8 That’s one of the reasons demand for real estate is soaring right now.9
We believe real estate is the best hedge against inflation. Owning real estate does more than protect your wealth—it can actually make you money. For example, home prices rose nearly 17% from 2020 to 2021, 10% ahead of the 7% inflation that occurred in the same timeframe.10
Plus, certain types of real estate investments can help you generate a stream of passive income. In the past year, property owners didn’t just avoid the erosion of purchasing power caused by inflation; they got ahead.
TYPES OF REAL ESTATE INVESTMENTS
Though there are myriad ways to invest in real estate, there are three basic investment types that we recommend for beginner and intermediate investors. Remember that we can help you determine which options are best for your financial goals and budget.
● Primary Residence
If you own your home, you’re already ahead. The advantages of homeownership become even more apparent in inflationary times. As inflation raises prices throughout the economy, the value of your home is likely to go up concurrently. At the same time, you’ve locked in a set mortgage payment for the next 30 years, so you’ll be immune to rising rental costs.
If you don’t already own your primary residence, homeownership is a worthwhile goal to pursue. Though the task of saving enough for a down payment may seem daunting, there are several strategies that can make homeownership easier to achieve. If you’re not sure how to get started with the home buying process, contact us. Our team can help you find the strategy and property that fits your needs and budget.
Whether you already own a primary residence or are still renting, now is a good time to also start thinking about an investment property. The types of investment properties you’ll buy as a solo investor generally fall into two categories: long-term rentals and short-term rentals.
● Long-Term (Traditional) Rentals
A long-term or traditional rental is a dwelling that’s leased out for an extended period. An example of this is a single-family home where a tenant signs a one-year lease and brings all their own furniture.
Long-term rentals are a form of housing. For most tenants, the rental serves as their primary residence, which means it’s a necessary expense. This unique quality of long-term rentals can help to provide stable returns in uncertain times, especially when we have high inflation.
To invest in a long-term rental, you’ll need to budget for maintenance, repairs, property taxes, and insurance. You’ll also need to have a plan for managing the property. But a well-chosen investment property should pay for itself through rental income, and you’ll benefit from appreciation as the property rises in value.
We can help you find an ideal long-term rental property to suit your budget and investment goals. Reach out to talk about your needs and our local market opportunities.
● Short-Term (Vacation) Rentals
Short-term or vacation rentals function more like hotels in that they offer temporary accommodations. A short-term rental is defined as a residential dwelling that is rented for 30 days or less. The furniture and other amenities are provided by the property owner, and today many short-term rentals are listed on websites like Airbnb and Vrbo.
A short-term rental can potentially earn you a higher return than a long-term rental, but this comes at the cost of daily, hands-on management. With a short-term rental, you’re not just entering the real estate business; you’re entering the hospitality business, too.
Done right, short-term rentals can be both a hedge against inflation and a profitable source of income. As a bonus, when the home isn’t being rented you have an affordable vacation spot for yourself and your family!
Contact us today if you’re interested in exploring options in either the long-term or short-term rental market. Mortgage rates are expected to rise, so you’ll want to act fast to maximize your investment return.
WE’RE INVESTED IN HELPING YOU
Inflation is a fact of life in the U.S. economy. Luckily, you can prepare for inflation with a carefully managed investment portfolio that includes real estate. Owning a primary residence or investing in a short-term or long-term rental will help you both mitigate the effects of inflation and grow your net worth, which makes it a strategic move in our current financial environment.
If you’re ready to invest in real estate to build wealth and protect yourself from rising inflation, contact us. Our team can help you find a primary residence or investment property that meets your financial goals.
The above references an opinion and is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be financial advice. Consult the appropriate professionals for advice regarding your individual needs.
1. Bloomberg - https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-02-10/u-s-inflation-charges-higher-with-larger-than-forecast-gain
2. CNN - https://www.cnn.com/2022/01/01/economy/inflation-prices-2022-preview/index.html
3. CNBC - https://www.cnbc.com/2022/01/26/the-fed-sets-the-stage-for-a-rate-hike-heres-what-that-means-for-you.html
4. Reuters - https://www.reuters.com/business/us-consumer-prices-rise-strongly-january-weekly-jobless-claims-fall-2022-02-10/
5. NBC News - https://www.nbcnews.com/business/markets/market-slide-dow-falls-700-points-sp-enters-correction-territory-rcna13304
6. CNBC - https://www.cnbc.com/2021/12/20/gold-is-losing-its-status-as-an-inflation-hedge-two-traders-warn.html
7. Morningstar - https://www.morningstar.com/articles/1079158/why-are-inflation-protected-bond-funds-losing-money
8. The Washington Post - https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2022/01/04/heres-how-inflation-could-affect-your-next-real-estate-move/
9. Bloomberg - https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-01-24/is-real-estate-a-good-investment-hedge-against-inflation-what-the-experts-say
10. CNN - https://www.cnn.com/2022/01/20/homes/us-nar-home-sales-december-and-2021/index.html
The last two years caught many of us off guard—and not just because of the pandemic. They also ushered in the hottest housing market on record, with home prices rising nationally by nearly 19% in 2021, driven primarily by low mortgage rates and a major supply shortage.1
But while some had hoped 2022 would bring a return to normalcy, the U.S. real estate market continues to boom, despite rising interest rates and decreasing affordability.
So what’s driving this persistent demand? And is there an end in sight?
Here are three factors impacting the real estate market right now. Find out how they could affect you if you’re a current homeowner or plan to buy or sell a home this year.
MORTGAGE RATES ARE RISING FASTER THAN EXPECTED
Over the past couple of years, homebuyers have faced intense competition for new homes—in part due to historically low mortgage rates that were a result of the Federal Reserve’s efforts to keep the economy afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, in response to a concerning level of inflation, the Fed is now reversing those efforts by raising the federal funds rate. And as a result, mortgage rates are rising, as well. Few experts predicted, though, that mortgage rates would go up as quickly as they have.
In January 2022, the Mortgage Bankers Association projected that rates would reach 4% by the end of this year.2 By mid-April, however, the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate had already hit 5%, up from around 3% just one year prior.3 On a $400,000 mortgage, that 2% difference could translate into an additional $461 per monthly payment.
Since then, mortgage rates have continued on an upward trend. So what impact are these rising rates having on demand? While many buyers had hoped for a cooling effect, experts warn that may not be the case.
Ali Wolf, chief economist at housing market research firm Zanda, told Fortune magazine, "Rising mortgage rates are having a counterintuitive effect on the housing market. Home shoppers are actually sprung into action in an attempt to buy a home before mortgage rates rise any higher."4
Since inventory remains low, the resulting “race” has kept the homebuying market highly competitive–at least for now.
What does it mean for you?
While current 30-year fixed mortgage rates represent an increase over previous months, they remain well below the historical average of 8%.5 As inflation across the economy continues, the Fed is likely to raise rates further this year. Buyers should act fast to secure a good mortgage rate. We’d be happy to refer you to a lender who can help.
For sellers, speed is also of the essence. The pool of potential buyers may shrink as mortgages become more expensive. And if you plan to finance your next home, you’ll want to act quickly to secure a favorable rate for yourself. Contact us today to discuss your options.
HOME PRICES KEEP CLIMBING
History shows that higher interest rates don’t necessarily translate to lower home prices. In fact, home prices rose 5% between 1980 and 1982, a period of significantly higher mortgage rates and inflation.5
Forecasters expect that home prices will continue to go up throughout 2022, though likely at a slower pace than the 18.8% increase of the last 12 months.4 Bank of America predicts that prices will be up approximately 10% by the end of this year, while Fannie Mae estimates 11.2%.6,7
In addition to limited supply and a race to beat rising mortgage rates, home values are also climbing because of positive economic indicators, like low unemployment.8 Plus, rents are soaring–up 17% from a year ago–which is prompting more first-time homebuyers to enter the market.9 Add to that the continued popularity of remote work, and it’s easy to see why property prices continue to surge.
However, it’s not all bad news for prospective homebuyers. Economists expect that as mortgage rates rise, the rate of appreciation will continue to taper, though the effect may be gradual.
“Eventually mortgage rates will slow down home prices,” according to Ken Johnson, an economist at Florida Atlantic University interviewed by Marketwatch.10 “We should not see rapid upticks in prices as mortgage rates rise.” Forecasters agree—Fannie Mae expects price increases to slow to 4.2% in 2023.7
What does it mean for you?
While the pace of appreciation is likely to decrease next year, home prices show no signs of going down. However, current labor shortages are leading to higher salaries and better job opportunities for many workers. You may find that your income growth outpaces home prices, making homeownership more affordable for you in the future.
For homeowners, the outlook’s even brighter. You could find yourself sitting on a nice pile of equity. Contact us for a free home value assessment to find out.
INVENTORY REMAINS EXTREMELY LOW
As noted, one of the largest hurdles to homeownership is a lack of inventory. According to a February 2022 report by Realtor.com, there’s an expanding gap between household formation and home construction, which has resulted in a nationwide shortage of 5.8 million housing units.11
The origins of this shortage date back to the 2008 housing crisis, during which crashing home values led contractors to stop building new properties—a trend that has not been fully reversed.12
That decline in home construction also resulted in a decrease in the number of home building professionals, a trend that was exacerbated by job losses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, many builders are limited by their ability to find qualified labor.
Another major challenge is a staggering increase in the cost of materials. Pandemic-related supply chain shortages have been a significant driver, with home building material costs rising on average 20% on a year-over-year basis. The price of framing lumber alone has tripled since August 2021.13
These trends add tens of thousands of dollars to the cost of a typical home. Factors like a lack of buildable land in many areas, restrictive zoning, and a shortage of developers are also contributing to the issue.14
Most homebuying experts agree that the lack of inventory is the primary factor driving rising housing prices and unprecedented competition for homes. With available housing units near four-decade lows, the end of the current housing boom is not yet in sight.15
What does it mean for you?
Prospective buyers should be prepared to compete for a home, since low inventory can lead to multiple offers. You may also need to expand your search parameters. If you’re ready to look, we’re ready to help.
For sellers, the picture is rosier. In this strong market, your home may be worth more than you realize. Contact us to find out how much your home could sell for in today’s market.
WE’RE HERE TO GUIDE YOU
While national real estate trends 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 local issues that are likely to 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 can help you assess your options and make the most of this unique real estate landscape.
1. Marketwatch - https://www.marketwatch.com/picks/home-price-appreciation-will-normalize-what-5-economists-and-real-estate-pros-predict-will-happen-to-home-prices-in-2022-01646940841
2. Bankrate - https://www.bankrate.com/mortgages/mortgage-rate-forecast
3. CNBC - https://www.cnbc.com/2022/04/16/heres-how-much-the-same-mortgage-costs-now-compared-to-last-year.html
4. Fortune - https://fortune.com/2022/03/23/housing-market-interest-rate-economic-shock/
5. National Association of Realtors - https://www.nar.realtor/blogs/economists-outlook/instant-reaction-mortgage-rates-april-07-2022
6. Fortune - https://fortune.com/2022/03/16/home-prices-2022-2023-bank-of-america-forecast-mortgage-rates/
7. Fortune - https://fortune.com/2022/03/07/what-home-prices-will-look-like-2023-fannie-mae/
8. Fortune - https://fortune.com/2022/03/17/home-prices-drop-housing-markets-california-michigan-massachusetts-corelogic/
9. CNN - https://www.cnn.com/2022/03/23/success/us-national-rent-february/index.html
10. MarketWatch - https://www.marketwatch.com/story/home-prices-increase-at-one-of-the-fastest-rates-on-record-but-higher-mortgage-rates-should-slow-future-growth-11648559497
11. Realtor.com - https://www.realtor.com/research/us-housing-supply-gap-expands/
12. NPR - https://www.npr.org/2022/03/29/1089174630/housing-shortage-new-home-construction-supply-chain
13. Investopedia - https://www.investopedia.com/housing-market-dips-in-early-march-2022-5222449
14. NPR - https://www.npr.org/2022/03/29/1089174630/housing-shortage-new-home-construction-supply-chain
15. Fortune - https://fortune.com/2022/03/14/housing-market-key-metric-inventory-zillow-bad-for-buyers/
Deciding whether to jump into the housing market or rent instead is rarely an easy decision – especially if you’re a first-time homebuyer. But in today’s whirlwind market, you may find it particularly challenging to pinpoint the best time to start exploring homeownership.
A real estate boom during the pandemic pushed home prices to an all-time high.1 Add higher mortgage rates to the mix, and some would-be buyers are wondering if they should wait to see if prices or rates come down.
But is renting a better alternative? Rents have also soared along with inflation – and are likely to continue climbing due to a persistent housing shortage.2 And while homebuyers can lock in a set mortgage payment, renters are at the mercy of these rising costs for the foreseeable future.
So, what's the better choice for you? There’s a lot to consider when it comes to buying versus renting. Luckily, you don’t have to do it alone. Reach out to schedule a free consultation and we'll help walk you through your options. You may also find it helpful to ask yourself the following questions:
1. How long do I plan to stay in the home?
You'll get the most financial benefit from a home purchase if you own the property for at least five years.3 If you plan to sell in a shorter period of time, a home purchase may not be the best choice for you.
There are costs associated with buying and selling a home, and it may take time for the property’s value to rise enough to offset those expenditures.
Even though housing markets can shift from one year to the next, you’ll typically find that a home’s value will ride out a market’s ups and downs and appreciate with time.4 The longer you own a property, the more you are likely to benefit from its appreciation.
Once you’ve found a community that you’d like to stay in for several years, then buying over renting can really pay off. You’ll not only benefit from appreciation, but you’ll also build equity as you pay down your mortgage – and you’ll have more security and stability overall.
Also important: If you plan to stay in the home for the life of the mortgage, there will come a time when you no longer have to make those payments. As a result, your housing costs will drop dramatically, while your equity (and net worth) continue to grow.
2. Is it a better value to buy or rent in my area?
If you know you plan to stay put for at least five years, you should consider whether buying or renting is the better bargain in your area.
One helpful tool for evaluating your options is a neighborhood’s price-to-rent ratio: just divide the median home price by the median yearly rent price. The higher the price-to-rent ratio is, the more expensive it is to buy compared to rent.5 Keep in mind, though, that this equation provides only a snapshot of where the market stands today. As such, it may not accurately account for the full impact of rising home values and rent increases over the long term.
According to the National Association of Realtors, a typical U.S. homeowner who purchased a single-family existing home 10 years ago would have gained roughly $225,000 in equity — all while maintaining a steady mortgage payment.6
In contrast, someone who chose to rent for the past 10 years would have not only missed out on those equity gains, but they would have also seen U.S. rental prices increase by around 66%.7
So even if renting seems like a better bargain today, buying could be the better long-term financial play.
Ready to compare your options? Then reach out to schedule a free consultation. As local market experts, we can help you interpret the numbers to determine if buying or renting is the better value in your particular neighborhood.
3. Can I afford to be a homeowner?
If you determine that buying a home is the better value, you’ll want to evaluate your financial readiness.
Start by examining how much you have in savings. After committing a down payment and closing costs, will you still have enough money left over for ancillary expenses and emergencies? If not, that’s a sign you may be better off waiting until you’ve built a larger rainy-day fund.
Then consider how your monthly budget will be impacted. Remember, your monthly mortgage payment won’t be your only expense going forward. You may also need to factor in property taxes, insurance, association fees, maintenance, and repairs.
Still, you could find that the monthly cost of homeownership is comparable to renting, especially if you make a sizable down payment. Landlords often pass the extra costs of homeowning onto tenants, so it’s not always the cheaper option.
Plus, even though you’ll be in charge of financing your home’s upkeep if you buy, you’ll also be the one who stands to benefit from the fruits of your investment. Every major upgrade, for example, not only makes your home a nicer place to live; it also helps boost your home's market value.
If you want to buy a home but aren’t sure you can afford it, give us a call to discuss your goals and budget. We can give you a realistic assessment of your options and help you determine if your homeownership dreams are within reach.
4. Can I qualify for a mortgage?
If you’re prepared to handle the costs of homeownership, you’ll next want to look into how likely you are to get approved for a mortgage.
Every lender will have its own criteria. But, in general, you can expect a creditor to scrutinize your job stability, credit history, and savings to make sure you can handle a monthly mortgage payment.
For example, lenders like to see evidence that your income is stable and predictable. So if you’re self-employed, you may need to provide additional documentation proving that your earnings are dependable. A lender will also compare your monthly debt payments to your income to make sure you aren’t at risk of becoming financially overextended.
In addition, a lender will check your credit report to verify that you have a history of on-time payments and can be trusted to pay your bills. Generally, the higher your credit score, the better your odds of securing a competitive rate.
Whatever your circumstances, it’s always a good idea to get preapproved for a mortgage before you start house hunting. Let us know if you’re interested, and we’ll give you a referral to a loan officer or mortgage broker who can help.
|Want to learn more about applying for a mortgage? Reach out to request a copy of our report: “8 Strategies to Secure a Lower Mortgage Rate”
5. How would owning a home change my life?
Before you begin the preapproval process, however, it’s important to consider how homeownership would affect your life, aside from the long-term financial gains.
In general, you should be prepared to invest more time and energy in owning a home than you do renting one. There can be a fair amount of upkeep involved, especially if you buy a fixer-upper or overcommit yourself to a lot of DIY projects. If you’ve only lived in an apartment, for example, you could be surprised by the amount of time you spend maintaining a lawn.
On the other hand, you might relish the chance to tinker in your very own garden, make HGTV-inspired improvements, or play with your dog in a big backyard. Or, if you’re more social, you might enjoy hosting family gatherings or attending block parties with other committed homeowners.
The great thing about owning a home is that you can generally do what you want with it – even if that means painting your walls fiesta red one month and eggplant purple the next.
The choice – like the home – is all yours.
HAVE MORE QUESTIONS? WE’VE GOT ANSWERS
The decision to buy or rent a home is among the most consequential you will make in your lifetime. We can make the process easier by helping you compare your options using real-time local market data. So don't hesitate to reach out for a personalized consultation, regardless of where you are in your deliberations. We'd be happy to answer your questions and identify actionable steps you can take now to reach your long-term 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.
1. CNN - https://www.cnn.com/2022/08/11/homes/home-prices-second-quarter/index.html
2. NPR - https://www.npr.org/2022/07/14/1109345201/theres-a-massive-housing-shortage-across-the-u-s-heres-how-bad-it-is-where-you-l
3. Bankrate - https://www.bankrate.com/mortgages/5-year-real-estate-rule/
4. Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis - https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/MSPUS
5. National Association of REALTORS - https://www.nar.realtor/blogs/economists-outlook/price-to-rent-ratios-by-state-from-2014-2019
6. National Association of REALTORS - https://www.nar.realtor/blogs/economists-outlook/single-family-homeowners-typically-accumulated-225K-in-housing-wealth-over-10-years
7. Statista - https://www.statista.com/statistics/200223/median-apartment-rent-in-the-us-since-1980/
REALTOR, RE/MAX CHAMPIONS
The process of buying a new home can be both exhilarating and exhausting. But the journey doesn’t stop when you close on your property. On the contrary, you still have quite a bit to do before you can begin the process of settling into your new place.
Fortunately, you don’t have to do everything in a day. You don’t have to do it all alone, either. When you work with us to sell or purchase a home, you’ll have an ally by your side long after your transaction has closed. We’ll continue to be a resource, offering advice and referrals whenever you need them on packing, hiring movers and contractors, and acclimating to your new home and neighborhood.
When it comes to a life event as stressful as moving, it pays to have a professional by your side. Here are some of our favorite pro tips to share with clients as they prepare for an upcoming move.
1. Watch out for moving scams.
Maybe you receive a flyer for a moving company in the mail. Perhaps you find a mover online. Either way, never assume that you’re getting accurate information. According to the Better Business Bureau, moving-related fraud is on the rise. In 2021 alone, individuals and families reported more than $730,000 lost to moving scams, an increase of 216% over the previous year.1
How can you tell if a moving deal is too good to be true? Trust your instincts. If the price appears too low or you can’t pin down the mover’s physical business address, try someone else. The same goes for any moving company representative who dodges questions. Reputable movers should offer transparent pricing, conduct in-home estimates, and provide referrals and copies of their insurance documents upon request.2 For help finding trustworthy movers, reach out. We’d be happy to share our recommendations.
2. Insure your belongings.
Your moving company promises to take care of your custom piano or your antique furniture. But don’t just take their word for it. Ask to see how much insurance they carry and talk about how the claims process works. That way, you’ll know what is (and isn’t) covered in case of loss or damage.
Of course, some items are priceless because they’re irreplaceable. You might want to move your more sensitive valuables (jewelry, documents, family heirlooms, etc.) in your own vehicle just to be safe. For added peace of mind, call your rental or home insurance provider if you’re moving anything yourself. You might already be protected or be able to purchase extra insurance to cover your move. If those options are unavailable, you could opt for moving insurance from a third-party carrier.3
3. Start packing when you start looking for a new home.
As soon as your house hunting begins in earnest, think about packing away things you won’t need for the next few months. These could include seasonal or holiday decor, clothing, and books. Tackling just one or two boxes a day will give you a head start.
If you're going to put your current home on the market, you'll want to declutter anyway. Decluttering will make your home seem larger, and depersonalizing helps buyers envision their own items in the space. Consider selling, donating, or throwing out possessions you no longer need. The things you want to keep can be placed in storage until you officially start moving to a new place.
4. Pack to make unpacking easier.
Have you ever opened a packed box only to find that it’s filled with an assortment of items that don’t belong together? This isn’t efficient and will only make unpacking harder. A better way to pack is to bundle items from a single room in a labeled box. Labels can let movers know (and remind you) where to place each box, whether it’s fragile, and which side needs to be up. Some people like to assign colors to each room in their new home to make distributing color-coded boxes a breeze.
Feel free to unleash your inner organizer with this project. For example, you could create a spreadsheet and assign each box a number. As boxes are packed, simply fill in the spreadsheet with a list of contents. Anyone with access to the spreadsheet can log in and quickly find the desired item.
5. Think outside the box when transporting clothes.
Who wants to worry about boxing up clothes? If you plan on hiring professional movers, ask if you can leave clothing in your dressers. In many cases, they will use plastic to wrap the dresser so the drawers don’t fall out during transport. If keeping your clothes in your furniture makes it too heavy, the movers might be able to wrap and move drawers by themselves.
Another easy transport trick involves turning clean garbage bags into garment bags. Poke a hole in the bottom of a garbage bag, turn the bag upside down, slide it over five to seven garments on hangers, and lay the items flat in the back seat or trunk of your vehicle. The bags will help prevent wrinkling, and your clothes will be ready to hang up when you get to your new home.
6. Document prior to disassembling appliances and furnishings.
Few things are as confusing as looking at a plastic baggie filled with nuts, bolts, and screws from your disassembled dining room table or sorting through a box of electrical wires and cords to see which ones fit your TV.
The best workaround to easier reassembly is to document the disassembly process. Take photos and videos or thorough notes as you go. Whether it’s your headboard or treadmill, be very precise. And just a tip: Construct your beds first when you get to your new home. After a long moving day, the very last thing you want is to be assembling beds into the wee hours of the morning.
7. Prioritize unpacking kids’ rooms.
Children can become very stressed by a big move. To ease their transition, consider prioritizing unpacking their rooms as their “safe zones.”4 You aren’t obligated to unpack everything, certainly. However, set up your children’s rooms to be functional. That way, your kids can hang out in a private oasis away from the chaos while you’re running around and moving everything else.
Depending upon how old your youngsters are, you might want to give them decorating leeway, too. Even if it’s just letting them choose where furniture goes, it gives them a sense of buy-in. This can help ease the blues of leaving a former home they loved.
8. Be a thoughtful pet parent.
Many types of pets can’t handle the commotion of moving day. Knowing this, be considerate and seek ways to give your pets breaks from the action. You might ask a friend to pet sit your pooch or keep your kitty in a quieter room, like a guest bathroom.
Be sure to check in on your pet frequently. Pets like to know that you’re around. Give them treats, food, and water throughout the day. When it’s time to transport your pet, do it calmly. At your new property, give your pet access to just a room or two at first. Pets typically prefer to acclimate themselves slowly to unfamiliar environments.5
9. Plan for your move like you’re planning for an exciting vacation.
When you plan vacations, you probably look up local restaurants, shops, and recreational areas. Who says you can’t do the same thing when moving? Create a list of all the places you want to go and things you want to do around your newly purchased home. Having a to-explore list keeps everyone’s spirits high and gives you starting points to settle into the neighborhood.
And don’t feel that you have to cook that first night. Once the moving trucks are gone, you can always pop over to a local eatery or order DoorDash for major convenience. The first meal in your new home should be a happy, welcoming treat. And if you’re relocating to our neck of the woods, we would love to introduce you to all the hot spots in town and recommend our local favorites.
10. Pack an “Open Me First!” box.
You won’t be able to unpack all your boxes in one day, but you shouldn’t go without your sheets, pillows, or toothbrush. Designate some boxes with “Open Me First!” labels. (Pro tip: Keep a tool kit front and center for all that reassembling.)
Along these lines, use luggage and duffel bags to transport everyone’s personal must-have items and enough clothing for a couple of days. That way, you won’t have to rummage through everything in the middle of your move looking for sneakers or snacks.
When packing your “Open Me First!” boxes, think about which items you’ll need in those first 24 hours. For example, toilet paper and hand soap are musts. A box cutter will make unpacking a lot easier, and paper towels and trash bags are sure to come in handy. Reach out for a complete, printable list of “Open Me First!” box essentials to keep on hand for your next move!
LET’S GET MOVING
Getting the phone call from your real estate agent that your bid was accepted is a thrilling moment. Make sure you keep the positivity flowing during the following weeks by mapping out a streamlined, efficient move. Feel free to get in touch with us today to help make your big move your best move.
1. Better Business Bureau - https://www.bbb.org/article/scams/24198-bbb-scam-alert-avoid-moving-scams-this-national-moving-mont
2. Move.org - https://www.move.org/how-to-tell-moving-company-scam/
3. Forbes - https://www.forbes.com/advisor/homeowners-insurance/moving-insurance/
4. New York Times - https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/13/parenting/moving-tips-kids.html
5. ASPCA - https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/general-pet-care/moving-your-pet
Our nation is in the midst of a serious housing crunch. Last year, a lack of inventory and soaring prices left many would-be homebuyers feeling pinched. But now, with interest rates climbing, many of them are also feeling desperate to lock in a mortgage—which has only added fuel to the fire.1
Fortunately, if you’re a buyer struggling to find a home, we have some good news. While it’s true that higher mortgage rates can decrease your purchasing budget, there are additional ways to compete in a hot market.
Yes, a high offer price gets attention. But most sellers consider a variety of factors when evaluating an offer. With that in mind, here are five tactics you can utilize to sweeten your proposal and outshine your competition.
We can help you weigh the risks and benefits of each tactic and craft a compelling offer designed to get you your dream home - without giving away the farm.
1. Demonstrate Solid Financing
The reality is, no one gets paid if a home sale falls through. That’s why sellers (and their listing agents) favor offers with a high probability of closing.
Sellers particularly love all-cash offers because there’s no chance of financing issues cropping up at the last moment. But don’t despair if you can’t pay cash for your home. According to the National Association of Realtors, only about 1 in 4 home purchases are all-cash deals, which means the vast majority are financed with a mortgage.2
If sellers are assured that financing will come through, buying with a mortgage doesn’t have to be a big disadvantage. The most important step you can take as a buyer is to get preapproved (not just prequalified) before you start looking for homes. A preapproval letter shows sellers that you are serious about buying and that you will be able to make good on your offer.
It’s also important to consider the reputation of your lender. While sellers may not know or care about a lender’s reputation, their agents often do. Some lenders are much easier to work with than others, especially if you are pursuing certain types of mortgages like FHA or VA loans.3 If so, you’ll want a lender who specializes in these types of mortgages. If you’re unsure who to choose, we are happy to refer you to reputable lenders known for their ease of doing business.
2. Put Down a Sizeable Deposit
Buyers can show sellers that they’re serious about their offer and have “skin in the game” by putting down a large earnest money deposit.
Earnest money is a deposit held in escrow by a title company or the seller’s broker or lawyer. If the purchase goes through, it is applied to the down payment and closing costs—if the sale falls through, the buyer may lose some or all of that deposit.
While an earnest money deposit is typically around 1-2% of the sale price, offering a higher deposit can help demonstrate to the buyer that you are serious about the property.4 However, this strategy can also be risky. We can help you determine an appropriate deposit to offer based on your specific circumstances.
3. Ask for Few (or No) Contingencies
Most real estate offers include contingencies, which are clauses that allow one or both parties to back out of the agreement if certain conditions are not met. These contingencies appear in the purchase agreement and must be accepted by both the buyer and seller to be legally binding.5
Common contingencies include:
Since contingencies reduce the likelihood that a sale will go through, they generally make an offer less desirable to the seller. The more contingencies that are included, the weaker the offer becomes. Therefore, buyers in a competitive market often volunteer to waive certain contingencies.
However, it’s very important to make this decision carefully and recognize the risks of doing so. For example, a buyer who chooses to waive a home inspection contingency may find out too late that the home requires extensive renovations, and a buyer who waives the appraisal may risk their mortgage falling through. If you back out of a home purchase without the protection of a contingency, you could lose your earnest money deposit.6 We can help you assess the risks and benefits involved.
4. Offer a Flexible Closing Date and/or Leaseback Option
When it comes to selling a house, money isn’t everything. People sell their homes for a wide variety of reasons, and flexible terms that work with their personal situations can sometimes make all the difference. For example, if a seller is in the process of planning a significant move, they may prefer a longer closing timeline that gives them time to find housing in their new location.
Similarly, short-term leaseback options, in which the sale is completed but the seller retains the right to rent the home for a specified period of time, can be compelling.7 These arrangements enable the seller to use the money from the sale of their home to purchase their next house. A leaseback agreement also makes it possible for them to avoid moving twice when their next home is not yet ready to occupy.
Flexible closing dates and leaseback options can provide a powerful advantage for first-time homebuyers. If you have a month-to-month or easily transferable lease, for example, you may be able to offer a more flexible timeline than a buyer who is simultaneously selling their existing home.
Of course, the value of these terms depends on the seller’s situation. We can reach out to the listing agent to find out the seller’s preferred terms, and then collaborate with you to write a compelling offer that works for both parties.
5. Work With a Skilled Buyer’s Agent
In this ultra-competitive real estate market, one of the greatest advantages you can give yourself is to work with a skilled and trustworthy real estate professional. We will make sure you fully understand the process and help you submit an appealing offer without taking on too much risk.
Plus, we know how to write offers that are designed to win over both the seller and their listing agent. The truth is, listing agents play a huge role in helping sellers evaluate offers, and they want to work with skilled buyer’s agents who are professional, communicative, and courteous.
Once your offer is accepted, we’ll also handle any further negotiations and coordinate all the paperwork and other details involved in your home purchase. The best part is, you’ll have a knowledgeable, licensed advocate on your side who is watching out for your best interests every step of the way.
Helping You Get to the Right Offer
In many cases, a competitive offer doesn’t need to be all-cash, contingency-free, or significantly above asking price. But if you’re serious about buying a home in today’s market, it’s important to consider what you can do to sweeten the deal.
If you’re a buyer, we can help you compete in today’s market without getting steamrolled. And if you’re a seller, we can help you evaluate offers by taking all the relevant factors into account. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.
1. National Association of Realtors - https://www.nar.realtor/newsroom/pending-home-sales-dwindle-4-1-in-february
2. National Association of Realtors - https://www.nar.realtor/newsroom/existing-home-sales-fade-7-2-in-february
3. Forbes - https://www.forbes.com/advisor/mortgages/housing-crisis-tips/
4. Realtor.com - https://www.realtor.com/advice/finance/earnest-money-deposit-mistakes-buyers-make/
5. Bankrate - https://www.bankrate.com/real-estate/contingency-clause/
6. Home Buying Institute - http://www.homebuyinginstitute.com/mortgage/risks-of-waiving-a-contingency/
7. Realtor.com - https://www.realtor.com/advice/sell/what-is-a-rent-back-agreement
We’re still in a seller’s market, but that doesn’t mean your home is guaranteed to easily sell.1 If you want to maximize your sale price, it’s still important to prepare your home before putting it on the market.
Start by connecting with a real estate agent as soon as possible. Having the eyes and ears of an insightful real estate professional on your side can help you boost your home’s appeal to buyers. What’s more, beginning the preparation process early allows you to tackle repairs and upgrades that can increase your property’s value.
Use the checklist below to figure out what other tasks you should complete in the months leading up to listing your home. While everyone’s situation is unique, these guidelines will help you make sure you’re ready to sell when the time is right. Of course, you can always call us if you’re not sure where to start or what to tackle first. We can help customize a plan that works for you.
AS SOON AS YOU THINK OF SELLING
Some home sellers want to plan their future move far in advance, while others will be required to pack up on very short notice. Whatever your circumstances, these first steps will help assure you’ll be ahead of the listing game.
● Contact Your Real Estate Agent
We go the extra mile when it comes to servicing our clients, and that includes a series of complimentary, pre-listing consultations to help you prepare your home for the market.
Some sellers make the mistake of waiting until they are ready to list their home to contact a real estate agent. But we’ve found that the earlier we’re brought into the process, the better the result. That often means a faster sale—and more money in your pocket after closing.
We know what buyers want in today’s market, and we can help devise a plan to maximize your property’s appeal. We can also connect you with our trusted network of contractors, vendors, and service professionals, so you’ll be sure to get the VIP treatment. This network of support can alleviate stress and help ensure you get everything done in the weeks or months leading up to listing.
● Address Major Issues and Upgrades
In most cases, you won’t need to make any major renovations before you list. But if you’re selling an older home, or if you have any doubt about its condition, it’s best to get us involved as soon as possible so we can help you assess any necessary repairs.
In some instances, we may recommend a pre-listing inspection. Although it's less common in a seller's market, a pre-listing inspection can help you avoid potential surprises down the road. We can discuss the pros and cons during our initial meeting.
This is the time to address major structural, systems, or cosmetic issues that could hurt the sale of your home down the line. For example, problems with the frame, foundation, or roof are likely to be flagged on an inspection report. Issues with the HVAC system, electrical wiring, or plumbing may cause the home to be unsafe. And sometimes outdated or unpopular design features can limit a home’s sales potential.
Remember, when you’re dealing with major repairs or renovations, it’s best to give yourself as much time as possible. Given rampant labor and material shortages, starting right away can help you avoid costly delays.2 Contact us so we can guide you on the updates that are worth your time and investment.
1 MONTH (OR MORE) BEFORE YOU LIST
Once any large-scale renovations have been addressed, you can turn your attention to the more minor updates that still play a major role in how buyers perceive your home.
● Make Minor Repairs
Look for any unaddressed maintenance or repair issues, such as water spots, pest activity, and rotten siding. This is the time to take care of those small annoyances like squeaky hinges, sticking doors, and leaky faucets, too.
Many of these issues can be handled by going the DIY route and using a few simple tools. Tackle the ones you can and be sure to call a professional for the ones you’re not comfortable doing yourself. We can refer you to local service providers who can help.
Remember that it’s easy to overlook these small issues because you live with them. When you work with us, you get a fresh set of eyes on your home—so you don’t miss any important repairs that could make a big difference to buyers.
● Refresh Your Design
This is a great time to think about some simple design updates that can make a significant impression on buyers. For example, a fresh coat of paint is an easy and affordable way to spruce up your home. One survey found that interior paint offered a 107% return on investment.3 For broad appeal, opt for warm, neutral colors.
And never underestimate the importance of good curb appeal. Homes with good curb appeal sell for 7% more, on average, than similar homes with an “uninviting exterior.”4 If weather permits, lay fresh sod where needed, plant colorful flowers, and add some new mulch to your beds.
Even just repositioning your furniture can make a huge difference to buyers. A survey by the Real Estate Staging Association found that staged homes sold faster, and 73% sold over list price.5 We can refer you to a local stager or offer our insights and suggestions if you prefer the DIY route.
● Declutter and Depersonalize
Doing a little bit of decluttering every day is a lot easier than trying to take care of it all at once right before your home hits the market. A simple strategy is to do this one room at a time, working your way through each space whenever you have a bit of free time.
Start by donating or discarding items that you no longer want or need. Then pack up any seasonal items, family photos, and personal collections you can live without for the next few weeks. Bonus: This will give you a head start on packing for your move!
1 WEEK BEFORE YOU GO TO MARKET
With just one week before your home is available for sale, all major items should be crossed off your to-do list. Now it’s time to focus on the small details that will really make your home shine. Here are a few key areas to focus on during this last week.
● Check-In With Your Agent
We’ll connect again to make sure we’re aligned on the listing price, marketing plan, and any remaining prep. We will be there every step of the way, ensuring you’re fully prepared to maximize the sale of your home.
● Tidy Your Exterior
You’ve already done the major landscaping—now it’s time to tackle the last few details. Make sure your lawn is freshly mowed, hedges are trimmed, and flower beds are weeded.
In addition, now is the time to clean your home’s exterior if you haven’t already. Power wash your siding, empty the gutters, and wash all your windows and screens.
● Deep Clean Your Interior
Your house should be deep cleaned before listing, including a thorough deodorizing of the home’s interior and steam cleaning for all carpets. Consider hiring a professional cleaning company to ensure the space smells and looks as fresh as possible.
In addition to cleaning, take some time to tidy up. Buyers will look inside your closets, pantries, and cabinets, so make sure they are neat and organized. Small appliances and toiletries should be cleared off the countertops.
DAY OF SHOWING
Now you’re all set to go and there are just a few small things you need to handle on the day of showings or open houses. Do a final walk-through and take care of these finishing touches to give potential buyers the best possible impression.
● Pre-Showing Prep
Happy and comfortable buyers are more likely to submit offers! Make them feel at home by adjusting the thermostat to a comfortable temperature. Open any blinds and curtains throughout the house, and turn on all lights so buyers can see all the potential in your home.
Then tidy up by vacuuming and sweeping floors, emptying (or hiding) trash cans, and wiping down countertops. In the bathrooms, close toilet lids and hang clean towels.
Don’t forget to secure firearms, jewelry, sensitive documents, prescription medications, and any other items of value in a safe or store them off-site.
Finally, it’s best to have pets out of the house during showings. If possible, you should also remove evidence of pets (litter box, dog beds, etc.), which can be a turn-off for some buyers.
DON’T WAIT TO PREP YOUR HOME FOR SELLING
If you want to get top dollar for your home, don’t put it on the market before it’s ready. The right preparation can make all the difference when it comes to maximizing the offers you get. The upgrades and changes you need to make will depend upon your home’s condition, so don’t wait to speak with an agent.
Call our team if you’re thinking about selling your home, even if you’re not sure when. It’s never too early to seek the guidance of your real estate agent and start preparing your home to sell.
1. Fortune - https://fortune.com/2022/02/08/should-i-buy-house-sellers-market-housing-real-estate-fannie-mae/
2. Forbes - https://www.forbes.com/advisor/home-improvement/labor-materials-shortage-impacts-renovations/
3. PR Web - https://www.prweb.com/releases/2012-homegain/home-improvement-survey/prweb9433460.htm
4. Realtor Magazine - https://magazine.realtor/daily-news/2020/01/27/how-much-does-curb-appeal-affect-home-value
5. Real Estate Staging Association - https://www.realestatestagingassociation.com/content.aspx?page_id=22&club_id=304550&module_id=164548
No matter what’s going on in the housing market, the process of selling a home can be challenging. Some sellers have a hard time saying goodbye to a treasured family residence. Others want to skip ahead to the fun of decorating and settling into a new place. Almost all sellers want to make the most money possible.
Whatever your circumstances, the road to the closing table can be riddled with obstacles — from issues with showings and negotiations to inspection surprises. But many of these complications are avoidable when you have a skilled and knowledgeable real estate agent by your side.
For example, here are seven common mistakes that many home sellers make. These can cause anxiety, cost you time, and shrink your financial proceeds. Fortunately, we can help you avert these missteps and set you up for a successful and low-stress selling experience.
MISTAKE #1: Setting an Unrealistic Price
Many sellers believe that pricing their homes high and waiting for the “right buyers” to come along will net them the most money. However, overpriced homes often sit on the market with little activity, which can be the kiss of death in real estate — and result in an inevitable price drop.1
Alternatively, if you price your home at (or sometimes slightly below) market value, it can be among the nicest that buyers see within their budgets. This can increase your likelihood of receiving multiple offers.2
To help you set a realistic price from the start, we will do a comparative market analysis, or CMA. This integral piece of research will help us determine an ideal listing price based on the amount that similar properties have recently sold for in your area.
Without this data, you risk pricing your home too high (and getting no offers) or too low (and leaving money on the table). We can help you find that sweet spot that will draw in buyers without undercutting your profits.
MISTAKE #2: Trying to Time the Market
You’ve probably heard the old saying, “Buy low and sell high.” But when it comes to real estate, that’s easier said than done.
Delaying your home sale until prices have hit their peak may sound like a great idea. But sellers should keep these factors in mind:
1. Predicting the market with certainty is nearly impossible.
2. If you wait to buy your next home, its price could increase as well. This may erode any additional proceeds from your sale.
3. If mortgage rates are rising, your pool of potential buyers could shrink — and you would have to pay more to finance your next purchase.
Instead of trying to time the market, choose your ideal sales timeline. This may be based on factors like your personal financial situation, shifting family dynamics, or the seasonal patterns in your neighborhood. We can help you figure out the best time to sell given your individual circumstances.
MISTAKE #3: Failing to Address Needed Repairs
Many sellers hope that buyers won’t notice their leaky faucet or broken shutters during home showings. But minor issues like these can leave buyers worrying about more serious — and costly — problems lurking out of sight.
Even if you do receive an offer, there’s a high likelihood that the buyer will hire a professional home inspector, who will flag any defects in their report. Neglecting to address a major issue could lead buyers to ask for costly repairs, money back, or worse yet, walk away from the purchase altogether.
To avoid these types of disruptions, it’s important to make necessary renovations before your home hits the market. We can help you decide which repairs and updates are worth your time and investment. In some cases, we may recommend a professional pre-listing inspection.
This extra time and attention can help you avoid potential surprises down the road and identify any major structural, system, or cosmetic faults that could impact a future sale.3
MISTAKE #4: Neglecting to Stage Your Home
Staging is the act of preparing your home for potential buyers. The goal is to “set the stage” to help buyers envision themselves living in your home. Some sellers opt to skip this step, but that mistake can cost them time and money in the long run. A 2021 survey by the Real Estate Staging Association found that, on average, staged homes sold nine days faster and for $40,000 over list price.4
Indoors, staging could include everything from redecorating, painting, or rearranging your furniture pieces to removing personal items, decluttering, and deep cleaning. Outdoors, you might focus on power washing, planting flowers, or hanging a wreath on the front door.
You may not need to do all these tasks, but almost every home can benefit from some form of staging. Before your home hits the market, we can refer you to a professional stager or offer our insights and suggestions if you prefer the do-it-yourself route.
MISTAKE #5: Evaluating Offers on Price Alone
When reviewing offers, most sellers focus on one thing: the offer price. While dollar value is certainly important, a high-priced offer is worthless if the deal never reaches the closing table. That’s why it’s important to consider other factors in addition to the offer price, such as:
Depending on your circumstances, some of these factors may or may not be important to you. For example, if you’re still shopping for your next home, you might place a high premium on an offer that allows for a flexible closing date or leaseback option.
Buyers and their agents are focused on crafting deals that work well for them. We can help you assess your needs and goals to select an offer that works best for you.
MISTAKE #6: Acting on Emotion Instead of Reason
It’s only natural to grow emotionally attached to your home. That’s why so many sellers end up feeling hurt or offended at some point during the selling process. Low offers can feel like insults. Repair requests can feel like judgments. And whatever you do — don’t listen in on showings through your security monitoring system. Chances are, some buyers won’t like your decor choices, either!
However, it’s a huge mistake to ruin a great selling opportunity because you refuse to counter a low offer or negotiate minor repairs. Instead, try to keep a cool head and be willing to adjust reasonably to make the sale. We can help you weigh your decisions and provide rational advice with your best interests in mind.
MISTAKE #7: Not Hiring an Agent
There’s a good reason 90% of homeowners choose to sell with the help of a real estate agent. Homes listed by agents sold for 22% more than the average for-sale-by-owner home, according to a recent study by the National Association of Realtors.5
Selling a home on your own may seem like an easy way to save money. But in reality, there is a steep learning curve. And a listing agent can:
If you choose to work with a listing agent, you’ll save significant time and effort while minimizing your personal risk and liability. And the increased profits realized through a more effective marketing and negotiation strategy could more than make up for the cost of your agent’s commission.
We can navigate the ins and outs of the housing market for you and make your selling process as stress-free as possible. You may even end up with an offer for your home that’s better than you expected.
BYPASS THE PITFALLS WITH A KNOWLEDGEABLE GUIDE
Your home selling journey doesn’t have to be hard. When you hire us as your listing agent, we’ll develop a customized sales plan to help you get top dollar for your home without any undue risk, stress, or aggravation. If you’re thinking of buying or selling a home, reach out today to schedule a free consultation and home value assessment.
1. The Washington Post - https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2019/07/22/just-because-its-sellers-market-doesnt-mean-you-should-overprice-your-home/
2. Realtor.com - https://www.realtor.com/advice/sell/spark-a-bidding-war-for-your-home/
3. American Society of Home Inspectors - https://www.homeinspector.org/Newsroom/Articles/Before-You-Sell-6-Reasons-to-Get-a-Pre-Listing-Inspection/15766/Article
4. Real Estate Staging Association - https://www.realestatestagingassociation.com/content.aspx?page_id=22&club_id=304550&module_id=164548
5. National Association of Realtors - https://www.nar.realtor/research-and-statistics/quick-real-estate-statistics
There’s a lot to consider when selling your home, from the market and appraisals to where you’ll go next. Don’t forget, however, that design is also a key factor. It’s often one of the first things buyers notice when they walk into a home, and it’s also a detail that you, as a seller, can easily control.
According to Realtor.com’s 2022 housing market forecast, home for-sale inventory will increase from last year, as will the projected number of overall sales.1 This means, if you’re looking to sell in the near future, now is the time to consider how you can stand out.
Updating your home design is one way to do that. Changes like new security features or upgraded siding can add value to your home now and be highlighted when you market it for sale later. To get the most out of your updates, focus on these popular home design features that will wow buyers in 2022.
Keep in mind, not all of these will work well in every house. If you plan to buy, list, or renovate a property, give us a call. We can help you realize your vision and maximize the impact of your investment.
Millennials account for the largest share of current homebuyers, according to the National Association of Realtors.2 Sustainable living tops the list of priorities for this generation. A recent Deloitte survey found that nearly one-third of millennials initiate or deepen their consumer investment in products or services that help the environment—this also includes the houses they choose to live in.3
Here are a few eco-friendly design features that will be attractive to these millennial buyers in 2022. Bonus, they can net a significant return on investment (ROI) for you, as a seller, too.
Wellness Retreat Nooks
The pandemic has had a significant impact on mental health. For example, in an effort to prioritize mental health, many people are relocating to quieter, more peaceful homes, with 22 percent of city dwellers planning a move to less congested residential areas, according to the Home Improvement Research Institute’s (HIRI) 2021 Insights Summit.7
However, no matter where you live, you can still intrigue buyers by jumping on this trend. At-home wellness amenities, which were once viewed as luxuries, are now on many homeowners’ must-have lists. Indoor spaces that function as a retreat for wellness and self-care have become extremely popular, according to HIRI.
Improve your quality of life in your home with reading nooks, spa-inspired bathrooms, and exercise or meditation spaces. Even if your house doesn’t have the square footage to section off an entire room for relaxation, making simple tweaks to natural light, air purifiers, and indoor plants can help you feel better in your home now while enabling future buyers to see the opportunity for their own space.
Calming Paint Colors
Paint colors that produce a calming atmosphere will also be a key selling point in 2022. Soft earth tones and natural hues will prevail this year, including various shades of blue, green, brown, and beige. Recent research suggests steering clear of trendy paint colors in favor of a more classic palette to bring the feel of nature indoors in a subtle and soothing way.8
In fact, the same research found that buyers are often willing to pay an extra $4,698 for a house with a light blue bathroom or an extra $1,491 for a house with a dark blue bedroom. Another crowd-pleasing hue to refresh the walls with is BEHR’s 2022 paint color of the year, known as Breezeway.9
This shade of green with silver undertones was created to mimic sea glass. As the BEHR website describes it, Breezeway “evokes feelings of coolness and peace, while representing a desire to move forward and discover newfound passions.”
Home Safety Features
Buyers want peace of mind more now than ever before. According to a 2021 survey from the American Institute of Architects, members report seeing an increase in the popularity of these home safety features10:
Consider how you can build home safety features like these into the design of your home to enhance your quality of life now and attract more buyers later. For example, you could install a backup generator in the garage and sell it with the house or update your major doorways to be wider.
Before making an investment in expensive home safety upgrades, contact us. We can help you determine what will deliver the greatest ROI for your location and goals.
Designated Work Spaces
It may come as no surprise that after the pandemic, 63 percent of homebuyers want their next house to feature room for a designated office, according to the National Association of Home Builders.11 In addition, 70 percent of these buyers want the office to be at least 100 square feet (or a 10x10 room).
If you can, consider turning a bedroom or a den into a work-from-home office. When designing the space, make it both functional and aesthetically pleasing. Position a desk near the window for natural light, install a bookshelf unit, arrange a few succulents on the work surface, and hang a few framed posters or a cork bulletin board on the wall. You want the space to foster productivity as well as be a place in your home you enjoy spending time.
When you get ready to sell, we can help you highlight your designated work space. Given the high demand for this design feature, it can help you interest more buyers and attract more competitive offers—if marketed creatively.
Luxury Kitchen Retouches
The kitchen has always been a main focal point of interior design, and that’s no different in 2022. Families will always need this space to come together in their own homes.
This year’s buyers want a kitchen with new upgrades and retouches, but you don’t have to renovate the entire kitchen to make an impact. If you’re not sure where to start, here are a few tips on how to create a kitchen that buyers will love without spending too much money on renovations:
Unique Accent Walls
In a recent interview with the National Association of Realtors, Brian Santos, the director of education for Fresh Coat Painters, explains that bold, unique accent walls are trendy right now.12 An accent wall gives a home character while maintaining the calming feel of natural- and neutral-colored walls.
Santos also explains that this is part of a design aesthetic that draws inspiration from the Roaring Twenties, and it’s likely to remain a sought-after home feature in 2022. Here are some bold colors to consider for your home’s accent walls:
If you’re planning to sell in the next year, talk to us before adding an accent wall. Depending on your target buyer, it may be a design feature that actually hurts your home’s value. We can run a free Comparative Market Analysis on your home to help you understand what would resell best in your neighborhood.
Exterior Siding Updates
A new exterior siding refresh is one of the most affordable renovation projects you can do to help increase a home’s resale value. The average cost is just $12 per square foot, but higher-end material options can push costs closer to $50 per square foot.13 What’s more, there are many siding materials available, from fiber-cement, brick, and wood to vinyl, metal, and stone.
While all these options can infuse the exterior with character and add curb appeal, fiber-cement and vinyl deliver the highest ROI. In fact, according to a 2021 Cost vs. Value Report, a vinyl siding replacement can boost resale value by $11,315 (68.3 percent cost recoup), and a fiber-cement siding replacement can boost resale value by $13,618 (69.4 percent cost recoup).14
Give your home this simple, affordable, and attractive facelift before putting it on the market. If you’re not sure how to get started yourself, our team can connect you with a trusted vendor to guide you through the process.
Keep These Home Design Features on Your Radar in 2022
These design features can infuse personality into your home while helping to close the deal if you plan to sell in 2022. The average buyer knows just what they’re looking for in a space they plan to call home, so with some investment and foresight, you can give your house an edge over the competition—and boost resale value in the process.
However, you don’t need to make all these changes to attract more buyers. We can help you determine which design features you should add to your home by sharing insights and tips on how to maximize the return on your investment. We can also run a Comparative Market Analysis on your home to find out how it compares to others in the area, which will help us decide what changes need to be made. Contact us to schedule a free consultation!
1. Realtor - https://www.realtor.com/research/2022-national-housing-forecast/
2. National Association of Realtors - https://www.nar.realtor/research-and-statistics/research-reports/home-buyer-and-seller-generational-trends
3. Deloitte - https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/global/Documents/2021-deloitte-global-millennial-survey-report.pdf
4. Energy.gov - https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/update-or-replace-windows
5. EPA.gov - https://www.epa.gov/watersense/about-watersense
6. American Society of Landscape Architects - https://www.asla.org/NewsReleaseDetails.aspx?id=60427
7. Home Improvement Research Institute - https://www.hiri.org/blog/4-major-home-wellness-trends-from-hiri-summit-speaker-dr-jie-zhao
8. Zillow - http://zillow.mediaroom.com/2021-07-15-Homes-With-Light-Blue-Bathrooms,-Dark-Blue-Bedrooms-Could-Sell-for-Up-to-4,698-More-Than-Expected
9. Behr - https://www.behr.com/colorfullybehr/behr-announces-2022-color-of-the-year-and-trends-palette/
10. American Institute of Architects - http://info.aia.org/AIArchitect/2021/0910/aia-interactive/index.html#
11. National Association of Home Builders - https://www.nahb.org/-/media/NAHB/news-and-economics/docs/housing-economics-plus/special-studies/2021/special-study-what-home-buyers-really-want-march-2021.pdf?_ga=2.188050984.1824982414.1639512139-1247360189.1639512139
12. National Association of Realtors - https://www.nar.realtor/blogs/styled-staged-sold/hot-home-trend-the-accent-wall-is-back
13. Forbes - https://www.forbes.com/advisor/home-improvement/how-much-does-siding-cost-to-install/
14. Remodeling Magazine - https://www.remodeling.hw.net/cost-vs-value/2021/
Last year was one for the real estate history books. The pandemic helped usher in a buying frenzy that caused home prices to soar nationwide by a record 19.9% between August 2020 and August 2021.1
However, there were signs in the fourth quarter that the red-hot housing market was beginning to simmer down. In the month of October, only 60.3% of sales involved a bidding war—down from a high of 74.5% in April.2 While this trend could be attributed to seasonality, it could also be a signal that the real estate run-up may have passed its peak.
So what’s ahead for the U.S. housing market in 2022? Here’s where industry experts predict the market is headed in the coming year.
MORTGAGE RATES WILL CREEP UP
Most economists expect to see mortgage rates gradually rise this year after hitting record lows in late 2020 and early 2021.3
Freddie Mac forecasts the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage will average 3.5% in 2022, up from around 3% in 2021.4
The Mortgage Bankers Association predicts that rates will tick up to 4% by the end of the year. "Mortgage lenders and borrowers should expect rising mortgage rates over the next year, as stronger economic growth pushes Treasury yields higher," said Mike Fratantoni, chief economist for the Mortgage Bankers Association at their 2001 Annual Convention & Expo in October.5
However, it’s important to keep in mind that even a 4% mortgage rate is low when compared to historical standards. According to industry trade blog The Mortgage Reports, “Between 1971 and December 2020, 30-year mortgage rates averaged 7.89%.”6
What does it mean for you? Low mortgage rates can reduce your monthly payment and make homeownership more affordable. Fortunately, there’s still time to lock in a historically-low rate. Whether you’re hoping to purchase a new home or refinance an existing mortgage, act soon before rates go up any further. We’d be happy to connect you with a trusted lending professional in our network.
THE MARKET WILL BECOME MORE BALANCED
In 2021, we experienced one of the most competitive real estate markets ever. Fears about the virus and a shift to remote work triggered a huge uptick in demand. At the same time, many existing homeowners delayed their plans to sell, and supply and labor shortages hindered new construction.
This led to an extreme market imbalance that benefitted sellers and frustrated buyers. According to George Ratiu, director of economic research at Realtor.com, “Prices and sellers reached for the moon [last] year. It looks like we are now about to move back to earth.”7
Data from Realtor.com released in November showed that listing price reductions had more than doubled since February 2021. And the average days on market (an indicator of how long it takes a home to sell) has been slowly creeping up since June.7
What’s causing this change in market dynamics? The real estate market typically slows down in the fall and winter. But economists also suspect a fundamental shift in supply and demand.
At the National Association of Realtors’ annual conference last November, the group’s chief economist, Lawrence Yun, told attendees that he expects increased supply to come from an uptick in new construction—which is already underway—and an end to the mortgage forbearance program. “With more housing inventory to hit the market, the intense multiple offers will start to ease,” he said.8
Demand is also predicted to wane slightly in the coming year. Rising mortgage rates and record-high prices have made homeownership unaffordable for a growing number of Americans. And in a recent Reuters poll, nearly 80% of property analysts said they expect housing affordability to worsen over the next several years.9
What does it mean for you? If you struggled to buy a home last year, there may be some relief on the horizon. Increased supply and softening demand could make it easier to finally secure the home of your dreams. If you’re a seller, it’s still a great time to cash out your big equity gains! And with more inventory on the market, you’ll have an easier time finding your next home. Reach out for a free consultation so we can discuss your specific needs and goals.
HOME PRICES LIKELY TO KEEP CLIMBING, BUT AT A SLOWER PACE
Nationally, home prices rose an estimated 16.8% in 2021.8 But the average rate of appreciation is expected to slow down in 2022.
Danielle Hale, chief economist at Realtor.com, told Yahoo! News, “Home asking prices have decelerated in the second half of 2021, with median listing price growth slipping from a peak of 17.2% in April to just 8.6% in October.”10
But experts disagree about how much more property values can continue to climb this year. Goldman Sachs predicts that home prices will rise by 13.5%, while Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are forecasting a 7.9% and 7% rate of appreciation, respectively.2
However, not all analysts are as bullish. The National Association of Realtors predicts a 2.8% rate of appreciation for existing homes and 4.4% for new homes, while the Mortgage Bankers Association expects the average home price to decrease by 2.5% by the end of the year.10,2
According to Hale, “With prices near all-time highs and mortgage rates expected to rise, we expect this slowdown in prices to continue.”10
What does it mean for you? If you’re a buyer who has been waiting on the sidelines for home prices to drop, you may be out of luck. Even if home prices dip slightly (and most economists expect them to rise) any savings are likely to be offset by higher mortgage rates. The good news is that decreased competition means more choice and less likelihood of a bidding war. We can help you get the most for your money in today’s market.
RENTS WILL CONTINUE TO RISE
Along with home, gasoline, and used vehicle prices, rent prices rose dramatically last year. According to CoreLogic, in September, rents for single-family homes were up 10.2% nationally year over year.11 And economists at Realtor.com expect them to climb another 7.1% in 2022.12
“Homes are expensive now...but for most people, the comparison that is most important is how that cost of homeownership is going to compare to the cost of renting,” Zillow Senior Economist Jeff Tucker told CNBC in November.13
Tucker also pointed out that rent is less predictable than a mortgage—and more likely to go up along with inflation.13
Real assets, like real estate, are often used as a hedge against inflation. That’s because property values typically rise with inflation.14 And when a homeowner takes out a mortgage, they lock in a set housing payment for the next 30 years.
In contrast, renters are at the mercy of the market—and they don’t gain any of the benefits of homeownership, like tax deductions, equity, or appreciation.
George Ratiu of Realtor.com told CNBC that he advises buyers to consider their budget and time frame. If they plan to stay in the home for at least three to five years, he believes it often makes sense to buy.13
Fortunately, it’s shaping up to be a better year for buyers. “I think 2022 has the promise of providing less competition, a lot more homes to choose from, and, as a result, a lot more approachable prices,” Ratiu said.13
What does it mean for you? Both property and rent prices are expected to continue rising. But when you purchase a home with a fixed-rate mortgage, you can rest assured knowing that your monthly mortgage payment will never go up. Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer or a real estate investor, we can help you make the most of today’s real estate market.
WE’RE HERE TO GUIDE YOU
While national real estate numbers and predictions can provide a “big picture” outlook for the year, real estate is local. And as local market experts, we can guide you through the ins and outs of our market and the local issues that are likely to drive home values in your particular neighborhood.
If you’re considering buying or selling a home in 2022, 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.