As vaccines are administered and travel resumes, many of us are beginning to plan for those long-awaited vacations we missed out on over the past year. Some households are focusing their efforts on buying a vacation home rather than staying in a hotel, too. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reports:
"Second homes (i.e., homes sold to buyers who are not going to occupy the home year-round, but use it as a vacation home, investment property, etc.) account for 15 percent of new single-family home sales."
It's not surprising that there's an increase in demand for vacation homes. The majority of Americans are realizing they prefer to be around small groups, as shown in a recent survey from The Harris Poll:
"Social distancing taught consumers new things about how they like to socialize; (75%) said, 'during COVID social distancing I realized I preferred smaller social gatherings at home or at friends' place.'"
Not only are vacation homes seen as a potentially more pandemic-friendly way to travel and socialize, but they can also serve as an extended home-away-from-home. With more Americans being given the option to continue working remotely or retire earlier than expected, vacation homes can be used year-round. The NAHB explains:
"Remote work arrangements have made it possible for some wealthier Americans to move to alternate locations that are not just small, suburban shifts from within their current metro area. More fundamentally, second home demand may also be benefitting by an acceleration of retirement plans, as well as stock market gains."
The demand for vacation homes has increased and will continue to rise as we head into summer. If you own a house in a destination area and have thought about selling, now is a great time to take advantage of today's high buyer interest. Let's connect to discuss your opportunities in our local market.
The financial benefits of buying a home as compared to renting one are always up for debate. However, one element of the equation is often ignored – the ability to build wealth as a homeowner.
Most experts are calling for home prices to continue appreciating over the next several years. The most recent Home Price Expectation Survey, a survey of over one hundred economists, real estate experts, and investment and market strategists, expects home appreciation to increase as follows:
Using their annual projections, the graph below shows the equity build-up a purchaser could earn, using a $350,000 home as an example:A homeowner could increase their net worth by over $80,000 in five years. That's an average of $16,000 annually. That number should be in any equation determining the financial benefits of owning a home compared to renting.
Homeowners are going to make a substantial amount of money in home equity over the next five years. If you're ready to buy a home, let's connect so you can enjoy this great benefit as well.
While you might be considering adding heated flooring to your new home, there are a lot of questions to ask before you put your money into this luxury feature. If you're looking for another level of comfort in your home, it's a great option—but it does come with a hefty price tag. Here's what you need to know:
One of the biggest hurdles homebuyers face is saving for a down payment. As you're budgeting and planning for your home purchase, you'll want to understand how much you'll need to put down and how long it will take you to get there. The process may actually move faster than you think.
Using data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Apartment List, we can estimate how long it might take someone earning the median income and paying the median rent to save up for a down payment on a median-priced home. Since saving for a down payment can be a great time to practice budgeting for housing costs, this estimate also uses the concept that a household should not pay more than 28% of their total income on monthly housing expenses.
According to the data, the national average for the time it would take to save for a 10% down payment is right around two and a half years (2.53). Residents in Iowa can save for a down payment the fastest, doing so in just over one year (1.31). The map below illustrates this time (in years) for each state:
What if you're able to take advantage of one of the 3% down payment programs available? It's a common misconception that you need a 20% down payment to buy a home, but there are actually more affordable options and down payment assistance programs available, especially for first-time buyers. The reality is, saving for a 3% down payment may not take several years. In fact, it could take less than a year in most states, as shown in the map below:
Wherever you are in the process of saving for a down payment, you may be closer to your dream home than you think. Let's connect to explore the down payment options available in our area and how they support your plans.
Over the past year, we've had plenty of opportunities to reflect on what we consider most important in our lives. The place we call home is one of the biggest things many of us are reevaluating. George Ratiu, Senior Economist at realtor.com, shares:
"The very nature of the pandemic, through the health implications, social distancing, and need to isolate, has really brought a central focus on the importance of home for most Americans…In a sense, it has elevated real estate markets as a centerpiece of our lives."
For some, this has spurred an interest in making a move to a home that better suits our changing needs. In a recent study on today's homebuyer preferences, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) states:
"When asked more specifically how the pandemic may have impacted their preference for home size…21% or about 1 out of every 5 buyers, do want a larger home now as a direct result of the health crisis, while another segment – 12% – would prefer a smaller one instead."
While you might expect more time at home to lead to a need for more space, it's interesting that a significant portion of homeowners actually want less. For those who own larger homes right now and have a desire to move, today's housing market is full of opportunities. Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at realtor.com, explains:
"In a real estate market that is tipped in the favor of sellers, boomers and older homeowners are really the ones holding the cards…Those who are selling homes can use the profits to help them buy new ones."
As a homeowner today, you likely have equity that can be put toward the purchase of your next home. With the equity growth homes have seen over the past year, you may have more than you think, which can help significantly as you make a move into your next home. According to a report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR):
"Home sellers cited that they sold their homes for a median of $66,000 more than they purchased it. Sellers 22 to 30 years gained the least at $33,400 in equity compared to sellers 66 to 74 years gained $100,000 in equity as they likely had lived in their homes for a longer period of time."
Despite the benefits of growing home equity, some homeowners are still hesitant to move and could be considering remodeling or making changes to their current space instead. However, if you've thought about aging in place rather than downsizing, you may want to reconsider. The U.S. Census Bureau points out:
"Of the nation's 115 million housing units, only 10% are ready to accommodate older populations."
If your house is no longer the best fit for your evolving needs, it may be time to put your equity to work for you and downsize to the home you really want.
Today's housing market favors homeowners who are ready to sell their houses and make a move. If you're thinking about downsizing this year, let's connect to discuss your options in our local market.
Cleaning doesn't have to be a hassle if you keep on top of it. Here are some small daily steps you can take to keep your home clean.
Post-shower swipe. To keep mold at bay, store a washcloth in your shower that you use for wiping down surfaces after you turn the water off. Just make sure everyone in the family knows the purpose of the rag so it doesn't end up on anyone's face! Swap the rag out once a week.
Early morning clutter sweep. As you wait for the coffee to brew or the dog to finish his breakfast before your walk, run through the lower level of your home and take care of any clutter piles: junk mail in need of opening, shoes or jackets dumped by the door or blankets on the couches that may need folding.
Nightly surface wipe. Every night before you head to bed (or the TV room), grab a rag and wipe down your counters, kitchen or dining table, and any other surface that collects food particles, dirt or dust.
Closet self-control. It can be tempting to strip off your clothes after a long day and dump them in a pile on the floor or toss them on a chair. But properly putting your clothes away—either in the hamper, back in the closet or in a pile for dry cleaning—will help stop weekly clutter.
Clean as you cook. Does your soup have fifteen minutes left to simmer? Start on the dishes, sop up splatter on the counter or floor, or tackle the trash. Waiting until the end of the meal can make it all too easy to say, "I'll clean up in the morning."
Unless you're living in a custom designed home, you probably wish your bathroom—or your guest bath—was bigger.
Short of pushing out the walls or totally remodeling, home editors at TheSpruce.com offer eight good tips for making the most of your bathroom space:
Pick the right colors. Save the bright hues for accessories if you like, but paint the walls and choose the flooring to create an illusion of space and serenity. Pale, soft pastel shades are best.
Up the lighting. Adding recessed lighting in the ceiling or opera lights above the vanity are good ways to increase the brightness and create a more spacious feeling.
Try a pedestal sink. A vanity cabinet provides storage under the sink, but it takes up lots of floor space. If you can find storage space in a nearby linen closet, trade the vanity for a low-profile pedestal sink. (Note, however, that if you remove the vanity, you will likely have to repair or change the flooring.)
Cut back what sticks out. Anything that sticks out into the room can make your room seem to shrink. Remove as many hanging shelves, racks, or decorative accessories as you can because they cut into the room and make it look smaller.
Use mirror reflection. Use the largest mirror you can over the bathroom sink. It will reflect all the light in the room, including the pale colors you've chosen.
Get rid of visual obstructions. Trade a frosted-glass bath or shower door for a clear glass one. Or, better yet, eliminate the door and install a shower curtain that can be pushed back to one side when not in use. You'll be able to see all the way to the back wall to maximize the illusion of spaciousness.
Expand the ceiling. You can create the illusion of a raised ceiling if you install crown molding and paint it the same color as the ceiling.
Ditch the clutter. Keep only essentials on the bathroom counter. The less clutter, the more spacious the look and feel.
In a sellers' market, some homeowners might be tempted to try to sell their house on their own (known as For Sale By Owner, or FSBO) instead of working with a trusted real estate professional. When the inventory of homes for sale is as low as it is today, buyers are eager to snatch up virtually any house that comes to market. This makes it even more tempting to FSBO. As a result, some sellers think selling their house will be a breeze and see today's market as an opportunity to FSBO. Let's unpack why that's a big mistake and may actually cost you more in the long run.
According to the Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers published by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), 41% of homeowners who tried to sell their house as a FSBO did so to avoid paying a commission or fee. In reality, even in a sellers' market, selling on your own likely means you'll net a lower profit than when you sell with the help of an agent.
The NAR report explains:
"FSBOs typically sell for less than the selling price of other homes; FSBO homes sold at a median of $217,900 in 2020 (up from $200,000 in 2019), and still far lower than the median selling price of all homes at $242,300. Agent-assisted homes sold for a median of $295,000...Sellers who began as a FSBO, then ended up working with an agent, received 98 percent of the asking price, but had to reduce their price the most before arriving at a final listing price."
When the seller knew the buyer, that amount was even lower, coming in at $176,700 (See graph below):
That's a lot of money to risk losing when you FSBO – far more than what you'd save on commission or other fees. Despite the advantages sellers have in today's market, it's still crucial to have the support of an expert to guide you through the process. Real estate professionals are trained negotiators with a ton of housing market insights that average homeowners may never have. An agent's expertise can alleviate much of the stress of selling your house and help you close the best possible deal when you do.
If you're ready to sell your house this year and you're considering doing so on your own, be sure to think through that decision carefully. Odds are, you stand to gain the most by working with a knowledgeable and experienced real estate agent. Let's connect to discuss how a trusted advisor can help you, especially in today's market.
If you're planning to buy a home this year, saving for a down payment is one of the most important steps in the process. One of the best ways to jumpstart your savings is by starting with the help of your tax refund.
Using data from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), it's estimated that Americans can expect an average refund of $2,925 when filing their taxes this year. The map below shows the average anticipated tax refund by state:Thanks to programs from the Federal Housing Authority, Freddie Mac, and Fannie Mae, many first-time buyers can purchase a home with as little as 3% down. In addition, Veterans Affairs Loans allow many veterans to put 0% down. You may have heard the common myth that you need to put 20% down when you buy a home, but thankfully for most homebuyers, a 20% down payment isn't actually required. It's important to work with your real estate professional and your lender to understand all of your options.
If you're a first-time buyer, your tax refund may cover more of a down payment than you realize.
If you take into account the median home sale price by state, the map below shows the percentage of a 3% down payment that's covered by the average anticipated tax refund:
The darker the blue, the closer your tax refund gets you to homeownership when you qualify for one of the low down payment programs. Maybe this is the year to plan ahead and put your tax refund toward the down payment on a home.
A recent paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research found that, of the households that received a stimulus check last year, "One third report that they primarily saved the stimulus money." If you had the opportunity to save your Economic Impact Payments, you may consider putting that money toward your down payment or closing costs as well. Your trusted real estate professional can also advise you on the down payment assistance programs available in your area. Connect with one of our agents today for more information about payment assistance programs.
Saving for a down payment can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn't have to be. This year, your tax refund and your stimulus savings could add up big when it comes to reaching your homeownership goals.
If you've given even a casual thought to selling your house in the near future, this is the time to really think seriously about making a move. Here's why this season is the ultimate sellers' market and the optimal time to make sure your house is available for buyers who are looking for homes to purchase.
The latest Existing Home Sales Report from The National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows the inventory of houses for sale is still astonishingly low, sitting at just a 2-month supply at the current sales pace.
Historically, a 6-month supply is necessary for a 'normal' or 'neutral' market in which there are enough homes available for active buyers (See graph below):When the supply of houses for sale is as low as it is right now, it's much harder for buyers to find homes to purchase. As a result, competition among purchasers rises and more bidding wars take place, making it essential for buyers to submit very attractive offers.
As this happens, home prices rise and sellers are in the best position to negotiate deals that meet their ideal terms. If you put your house on the market while so few homes are available to buy, it will likely get a lot of attention from hopeful buyers.
Today, there are many buyers who are ready, willing, and able to purchase a home. Low mortgage rates and a year filled with unique changes have prompted buyers to think differently about where they live – and they're taking action. The supply of homes for sale is not keeping up with this high demand, making now the optimal time to sell your house.
Home prices are appreciating in today's sellers' market. Making your home available over the coming weeks will give you the most exposure to buyers who will actively compete against each other to purchase it. If you're interested in buying or selling a property, let's connect!