We've all been there: guests are scheduled to arrive in 15 minutes, but you got caught up, and the house is still a mess. Here are seven ways to fake that clean home, fast:
All hands on deck. If you're lucky enough to have family members or roommates around, ask them to pitch in. Divvy up rooms to declutter and tidy. If you don't have any helping hands, you'll just have to continue to the next steps, solo.
Focus on trafficked areas. Since time is short, make sure to focus on rooms your guests will frequent, like the living room, kitchen and bathroom. The entryway is also important, as it's the first thing your guests will see, so hang the jackets, straighten those shoes and stash that mail stack.
Freshen air. As you begin to clean, throw open the windows to let fresh air in. Too cold for open windows? Light a mildly scented candle or spray odor neutralizer.
Declutter. Run through your high traffic areas and remove clutter. Piles of mail, shoes on the floor, blankets unfolded and errant clothes all need to be stashed. If you don't have time to put things where they belong, do a tornado sweep with a laundry basket, nabbing all out-of-place items to rehome when you have more time. Simply stash your full basket in a hidden area, like a closet or laundry room.
Tidy. Now that the clutter is gone, tidy tables and counters to make your space look open and clean. Stack those magazines in an orderly pile, arrange the remotes, put away those drying dishes and take out the trash.
Wipe down. Head to the kitchen and bathroom with a rag and disinfectant and wipe down counters, mirrors and toilets that your guests might encounter.
Vacuum. Now that your surfaces are fully clean, run a vacuum over the floors (and furniture!) to pick up pet hair and dirt. Nothing says "clean home" like vacuum lines on the carpet, so fake it until you make it.
Right now, the housing market is full of outstanding opportunities for both buyers and sellers. Whether you're thinking of buying your first home, moving up to a bigger one, or selling so you can downsize this spring, there are perks today that are powering big moves for people across the country. Here are the top two to keep on the radar this season.
Today's most compelling buyer incentive is low mortgage interest rates. The 30-year fixed-rate is now averaging just over 3%. While that's slightly higher than the record-lows from 2020 and earlier this year, it's still way lower than historic norms, making purchasing a home an ongoing perk for hopeful buyers (See graph below):
This is a huge advantage for buyers and helps to make owning a home attainable for more households – and there's good reason to strive for homeownership. The latest Homeowner Equity Report from CoreLogic shows how homeowners saw major gains in their net worth last year, all thanks to owning a home. Frank Martell, President and CEO of CoreLogic, explains:
"Positive factors like record-low interest rates and a booming housing market encouraged many families to enter homeownership. This growing bank of personal wealth that homeownership affords was noticed by many but in particular for first-time buyers who want a piece of the cake. As a result, we may see more of those currently renting start to enter the market in the near future."
Low mortgage rates are a plus for buyers right now, but experts forecast we'll see them continue to rise as the year goes on. If you're ready to purchase a home, it's wise to get started on the process soon so you can secure today's comparatively low rate.
Today, there are simply not enough houses on the market for the number of buyers looking to purchase them, and it's creating a serious sellers' market. According to Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at realtor.com:
"Total active inventory continues to decline, dropping 50 percent. With buyers active in the market and sellers still slow to put homes up for sale, homes are selling quickly and the total number actively available for sale at any point in time continues to decline." (See map below):
The lack of houses for sale continues to challenge the market, and with low mortgage rates fueling buyer demand, homes are hard for buyers to find today. According to the latest Realtors Confidence Index Survey by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the average house is now receiving 4.1 offers and is on the market for only 20 days.
Buyers are clearly eager to purchase, and because of the shortage of inventory available, they're often entering bidding wars. This is one of the factors keeping home prices strong and giving sellers leverage in the negotiation process.
Homeowners who are in a position to sell shouldn't wait to make their move. There's a light at the end of the tunnel for today's inventory shortage, so listing this spring will get your house on the market when conditions are most favorable. With low inventory and high buyer demand, homeowners can potentially earn a greater profit on their houses and sell them quickly in the fast-paced spring market.
Whether you're thinking about buying or selling a home, there are major perks available in today's housing market. Let's connect today to discuss how these favorable conditions play to your advantage in our local area.
There are many financial and non-financial benefits of homeownership, and the greatest financial one is wealth creation. Homeownership has always been the first rung on the ladder that leads to forming household wealth. As Freddie Mac explains:
"Homeownership has cemented its role as part of the American Dream, providing families with a place that is their own and an avenue for building wealth over time. This 'wealth' is built, in large part, through the creation of equity…Building equity through your monthly principal payments and appreciation is a critical part of homeownership that can help you create financial stability."
Odeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist at First American, also notes:
"The wealth-building power of homeownership shows that home is not only where your heart is, but also where your wealth is…For the majority of households that transition into homeownership, the most recent data reinforces that housing is one of the biggest positive drivers of wealth creation."
Last week, CoreLogic released their latest Homeowner Equity Insights Report, which reveals the surge in wealth created over the last twelve months through increased home equity. The report makes five key points:
Here's a map that shows the equity gains by state:
Increasing equity is giving homeowners the power to better manage the challenges of the pandemic, especially for those spending more time at home. In the report, Frank Nothaft, Chief Economist for CoreLogic, explains:
"This equity growth has enabled many families to finance home remodeling, such as adding an office or study, further contributing to last year's record level in home improvement spending."
The financial advantage homeowners have has not gone unnoticed. In the same report, Frank Martell, President and CEO of CoreLogic, states:
"This growing bank of personal wealth that homeownership affords was noticed by many but in particular for first-time buyers who want a piece of the cake."
Last year, the Rosen Consulting Group released a report outlining the benefits of homeownership. In that report, they explained what an increase in net worth – which they call the "wealth effect" – means to the economy:
"In economic literature, the wealth effect is a term used to describe the fact that individuals have a tendency to increase their spending habits when their actual or perceived wealth increases. For homeowners, the latent savings achieved by building equity in their home and the growth in home values over time both contribute to increased net worth. Through the wealth effect, this in turn translates to households having a greater ability and willingness to spend money across a wide range of other types of goods and services that spur business activity and provide a positive multiplier effect that creates jobs and income throughout the economy."
Homeownership builds wealth through equity, and this creates a positive impact for homeowners and their communities. Let's connect today if you're ready to invest in a home of your own.
While no one ever wants to imagine their home filling with water, for many areas of the country, flooding is a scary reality for many homeowners. Whether a natural disaster is on the way or you simply want to be aware of how to protect your home when flash flood warnings sound, we have five steps to preparing your home for flooding.
Clear gutters. If flooding is predicted in your area, help your home out by clearing all gutters, downspouts and drains so your home can battle the rising water.
Elevate outdoor electric units. Outdoor generators, fuel tanks and air-conditioning units should not be left on ground level outdoors. Elevate them as best you can and securely anchor them so they don't float away if flooding occurs.
Power down. Shut off your electricity via your breaker panel to stay safe.
Move items upstairs. When flooding is likely, take charge by moving items upstairs and further from the flood zone. Furniture, rugs, electronics and important paperwork should all be moved to the highest ground possible. Make copies of important paperwork and store them digitally so you don't lose them.
Raise appliances. While you likely can't lug your refrigerator upstairs, you can elevate your appliances on concrete blocks to minimize damage if only a few inches of water floods in.
Spring is almost here, and many are wondering what it will bring for the housing market. Even though the pandemic continues on, it's certain to be very different from the spring we experienced at this time last year. Here's what a few industry experts have to say about the housing market and how it will bloom this season.
"Despite early weakness, we expect to see new listings grow in March and April as they traditionally do heading into spring, and last year's extraordinarily low new listings comparison point will mean year over year gains. One other potential bright spot for would-be homebuyers, new construction, which has risen at a year over year pace of 20% or more for the last few months, will provide additional for-sale inventory relief."
"Some people will feel comfortable listing their home during the first half of 2021. Others will want to wait until the vaccines are widely distributed. This suggests more inventory will be for sale in late 2021 and into the spring selling season in 2022."
"Since reaching a low point in January, mortgage rates have risen by more than 30 basis points… However, the rise in mortgage rates over the next couple of months is likely to be more muted in comparison to the last few weeks, and we expect a strong spring sales season."
"As the housing market heads into the spring home buying season, the ongoing supply and demand imbalance all but assures more house price growth...Many find it hard to believe, but housing is actually undervalued in most markets and the gap between house-buying power and sale prices indicates there's room for further house price growth in the months to come."
The experts are very optimistic about the housing market right now. If you pressed pause on your real estate plans over the winter, Let's chat to determine how you can re-engage in the homebuying process this spring.
Having all of your family's money in one bank account can make keeping track of your money easier, but it might not help your family meet its financial goals.
Instead of one big fund for everything — such as a checking account — you might be better equipped to meet several small financial goals with multiple bank accounts. If you're smart about them, you might also save on fees and make more money off of your money.
Here are five bank accounts every family should have:
1. Regular savings. This is an account to hold money in and only use when needed. You can attach a goal to it, such as saving for a down payment on a house or a family vacation, or it can just sit around for life's unexpected expenses. Try to save up to three months of living expenses in this fund in case of a short-term emergency.
2. Emergency savings. This account should be used as a last resort and is for big emergencies, such as losing a job and having enough money set aside for 6 – 12 months of living expenses.
3. Joint checking account. This is used to pay your regular bills and other family expenses, though not medical bills, which we'll get to soon. It's an account you probably already have and is where most of your income should go before it's used to pay bills or moved to other accounts. This account should at least cover your monthly expenses.
4. Spousal checking accounts. Each spouse should have their own checking account so that they can buy something however they see fit. The amount shouldn't be a secret from the other spouse, and it can be used as "fun money." If everything else in your budget has been paid for, the money in this account is each person's spot to use as they'd like to.
5. Health Savings Account. Also called an HSA, this is a tax-free account to hold money for medical expenses, from prescriptions to hospital stays. There are some rules to understand before using an HSA, so ask your Human Resources department at work or search online for details. If you're spending a few thousand dollars a year on your family's medical costs, a tax-free HSA can make it less expensive.
How much money you put into these accounts is up to you, but do yourself a favor and make it easy by using direct deposit so that a specified amount of money is automatically deposited into each account each month.
Everything old is new again, and that goes for decorating with color. While the last decade in home décor has largely been defined by white and varying shades of beige and gray, today's designers are harking back to yesteryear with paint colors, furniture and even kitchen appliances.
Part art deco, part '50s suburban and part '60s mod, these awesome retro colors are fresh and refreshed to fit today's tastes, say the color mavens at Sherwin Williams, whose wall color faves this year include shades of pink, aqua and pale or mustard yellows with accents of slate or peppery coral—great ways to set off the stark white of baseboards, crown moldings and door frames.
Big Chill, a retro appliance company launched in 2001, is finding huge success with its growing line of refrigerators, stoves and dishwashers in pink, aqua, yellow and more that bring a spirit of nostalgia to today's kitchens, along with their high-tech efficiency.
Small kitchen appliances from crockpots to mixers and toasters are now available in a wide range of bold and retro colors, and look for pink velvet, pale blue and teal sofas from a variety of furniture design companies as vintage furnishings make a huge comeback.
You might also find bright orange and sage green shantung side chairs, shabby-chic and pastel-colored buffets and bookshelves and other accessories, and don't miss the lighting display in most home stores, where Tiffany lamps and vintage shades are gaining ground in sales.
A roomful of these vintage colors can make you feel a little nostalgic, a little happier and a little more optimistic. What more could anyone ask for?
When selling a house, most homeowners hope for a quick and profitable transaction that puts them in a position to make a great move. If you're waiting for the best time to win as a seller, the market is calling your name this spring. Here are five reasons why this is the perfect time to sell your house if you're ready.
Buyer demand is strong right now, and buyers are active in the market. ShowingTime, which tracks the average number of buyer showings on residential properties, recently announced that buyer showings are up 51.5% compared to this time last year. Daniil Cherkasskiy, Chief Analytics Officer at ShowingTime, notes:
"As anticipated, demand for real estate remains elevated and continues to be affected by low levels of inventory…On average, each home is getting 50 percent or more requests this year compared to January of last year. As we head into the busy season, it's likely we'll push into even more extreme territory until the supply starts catching up with demand."
When your house is positioned to get a ton of attention from competitive buyers, you're in the best spot possible as the seller.
"Nationally, the inventory of homes for sale in February decreased by 48.6% over the past year, a higher rate of decline compared to the 42.6% drop in January. This amounted to 496,000 fewer homes for sale compared to February of last year."
The National Association of Realtors (NAR) also reveals that, while home sales are skyrocketing, the inventory of existing homes for sale is continuing to drop dramatically. Houses are essentially selling as fast as they're hitting the market – in fact, NAR reports that the average house is on the market for only 21 days.
It's this imbalance between high buyer demand and a low supply of houses for sale that gives sellers such an advantage. A seller will always negotiate the best deal when demand is high and supply is low. That's exactly what's happening in the real estate market today.
Clearly, many more people are interested in buying than selling this spring, creating the ultimate sellers' market. When this happens, homeowners in a position to sell have the upper hand in negotiations.
According to NAR, agents are reporting an average of 3.7 offers per house and an increase in bidding wars. As a seller, this means the ball is in your court – so much so that you can use your leverage to negotiate the best possible contract. Demand is there, and now is the perfect time to sell for the most favorable terms.
According to the latest data from CoreLogic, as of the third quarter of 2020, the average homeowner gained $17,000 in equity over the past year, and that number continues to grow as home values appreciate. Equity is a type of forced savings that grows during your time as a homeowner and can be put toward bigger goals like buying your next dream home.
Mark Fleming, Chief Economist at First American, notes:
"As homeowners gain equity in their homes, they are more likely to consider using that equity to purchase a larger or more attractive home – the wealth effect of rising equity. In today's housing market, fast rising demand against the limited supply of homes for sale has resulted in continued house price appreciation."
So much has changed over the past year, including what many of us need in a home. Spending extra time where we currently live is enabling many of us to re-evaluate homeownership and what we find most important in a home.
Whether it's a house that has the features suited to working remotely, space for virtual or hybrid schooling, a home gym or theater, or something else, selling this spring gives you a chance to make a move and find the home of your dreams.
Today's housing market belongs to the sellers. If you've considered making a move but have been waiting for the right market conditions, your wait may be over. Let's connect so you'll be positioned to win when you sell your house this spring.
Last year, many homeowners thought twice about selling their houses due to the onset of the health crisis. This year, however, homeowners are beginning to regain their confidence when it comes to selling safely. The latest Home Purchase Sentiment Index (HPSI) by Fannie Mae shows that 57% of consumers believe now is a good time to sell.
Doug Duncan, Vice President and Chief Economist at Fannie Mae, explains:
"Overall, the index's monthly increase was driven largely by a substantial jump in the share of consumers reporting that it's a good time to sell a home, with many citing favorable mortgage rates, high home prices, and low housing inventory as their primary rationale."
Normally, spring is the busiest season in the housing market – the time when many homeowners decide to list their houses. While this is obviously not a normal year since the pandemic is still very much upon us, experts are optimistic that consumer positivity around selling will lead to more homeowners making moves this year. Duncan continues to say:
"We will pay close attention to see if this newfound optimism develops into a trend."
The fact that there are so few houses available for sale today is one driver that's encouraging consumers to think more positively about selling. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) states:
"Total housing inventory at the end of January amounted to 1.04 million units, down 1.9% from December and down 25.7% from one year ago (1.40 million)."
With so few homes available to buy, your house will be more likely to rise to the top of an eager purchaser's wish list in this competitive market. Today's high buyer activity is creating upward pressure on home prices and more multiple-offer scenarios. According to the Realtors Confidence Index Survey from NAR, the average home for sale is receiving 3.7 offers today, up from 2.3 offers just one year ago. This makes selling even more enticing.
Wondering where you'll go if you try to move while it's so challenging to find a home to buy? Well, in many areas, there are more homes available at the higher end of the market, so finding a move-up home may be less of an issue if you're ready to search for your dream home this spring.
If you pressed pause on selling your house last year, now may be the best time to put your plans back into motion while inventory is so low. Let's connect today to get the process started.
In today's housing market, it seems harder than ever to find a home to buy. Before the health crisis hit us a year ago, there was already a shortage of homes for sale. When many homeowners delayed their plans to sell at the same time that more buyers aimed to take advantage of record-low mortgage rates and purchase a home, housing inventory dropped even further. Experts consider this to be the biggest challenge facing an otherwise hot market while buyers continue to compete for homes. As Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at realtor.com, explains:
"With buyers active in the market and seller participation lagging, homes are selling quickly and the total number available for sale at any point in time continues to drop lower. In January as a whole, the number of for sale homes dropped below 600,000."
Every month, realtor.com releases new data showing the year-over-year change in inventory of existing homes for sale. As you can see in the map below, nationwide, inventory is 42.6% lower than it was at this time last year:
Not exactly. While there are fewer existing homes being listed right now, many homes are simply selling faster than they're being counted as current inventory. The market is that competitive! It's like when everyone was trying to find toilet paper to buy last spring and it was flying off the shelves faster than it could be stocked in the stores. That's what's happening in the housing market: homes are being listed for sale, but not at a rate that can keep up with heavy demand from competitive buyers.
In the same realtor.com report, Hale explains:
"Time on the market was 10 days faster than last year meaning that buyers still have to make decisions quickly in order to be successful. Today's buyers have many tools to help them do that, including the ability to be notified as soon as homes meeting their search criteria hit the market. By tailoring search and notifications to the homes that are a solid match, buyers can act quickly and compete successfully in this faster-paced housing market."
The health crisis has been a major reason why potential sellers have held off this long, but as vaccines become more widely available, homeowners will start making their moves. Ali Wolf, Chief Economist at Zonda, confirms:
"Some people will feel comfortable listing their home during the first half of 2021. Others will want to wait until the vaccines are widely distributed."
With more homeowners getting ready to sell later this year, putting your house on the market sooner rather than later is the best way to make sure your listing shines brighter than the rest.
When you're ready to sell your house, you'll likely want it to sell as quickly as possible, for the best price, and with little to no hassle. If you're looking for these selling conditions, you'll find them in today's market. When demand is high and inventory is low, sellers have the ability to create optimal terms and timelines for the sale, making now an exceptional time to move.
Today's housing market is a big win for sellers, but these conditions won't last forever. If you're in a position to sell your house now, you may not want to wait for your neighbors to do the same. Let's connect to discuss how to sell your house safely so you're able to benefit from today's high demand and low inventory.