With today's real estate market moving as fast as it is, working with a real estate professional is more essential than ever. They have the skills, experience, and expertise it takes to navigate the highly detailed and involved process of selling a home. That may be why the percentage of people who list their houses on their own, known as a FSBO or For Sale By Owner, has reached its lowest point since 1985 (see graph below):
Before you decide which projects and repairs to take on, connect with a real estate professional. They have first-hand experience with today's buyers, what they expect, and what you need to do to make sure your house shows well.
If you don't lean on their expertise, you may spend your time and money on something that isn't essential. That's because, in today's low-inventory market, buyers are willing to take on more of the renovation work themselves. A survey from Freddie Mac finds that:
". . . nearly two-in-five potential homebuyers would consider purchasing a home requiring renovations."
A professional can help you decide what you need to tackle. It's not canned advice you could find online – it's recommendations specific to your house and your area.
Today, the average home is getting 4.8 offers per sale according to recent data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), and that competition is pushing prices up. While that's promising for you as a seller, it's important to understand your agent's role in bringing buyers in.
Real estate professionals have an assortment of tools at their disposal, such as social media followers, agency resources, and the MLS to ensure your house is viewed by the most buyers. According to realtor.com:
"Only licensed real estate agents can list homes on the MLS, which is a one-stop online shop of sorts for getting a house seen by thousands of agents and home buyers. . . . This is certainly one of many good reasons why the majority of home sellers decide to employ the services of a listing agent rather than going it alone."
Without access to these tools, your buyer pool is limited. And you want more buyers to view your house since buyer competition can drive your final sales price higher.
Today, more disclosures and regulations are mandatory when selling a house. That means the number of legal documents you'll need to juggle is growing. That's why Investopedia says:
"One of the biggest risks of FSBO is not having the experience or expertise to navigate all of the legal and regulatory requirements that come with selling a home."
A real estate professional knows exactly what needs to happen, what all the paperwork means, and how to work through it efficiently. They'll help you review the documents and avoid any costly missteps that could occur if you try to handle them on your own.
If you sell without a professional, you'll also be solely responsible for all the negotiations. That means you'll have to coordinate with:
Instead of going toe-to-toe with all these parties alone, lean on an expert. They'll know what levers to pull, how to address everyone's concerns, and when you may want to get a second opinion.
If you sell your house on your own, you may over or undershoot your asking price. That could mean you'll leave money on the table because you priced it too low or your house will sit on the market because you priced it too high. Pricing a house requires expertise. Investopedia explains it like this:
". . . There is no easy or universal way to determine market value for real estate."
Real estate professionals know the ins and outs of how to price your house accurately and competitively. To do so, they compare your house to recently sold homes in your area and factor in the current condition of your house. These factors are key to making sure it's priced to move quickly while still getting you the highest possible final sale price.
There's a lot that goes into selling your house. Instead of tackling it alone, let's connect so you have an expert on your side throughout the entire process.
If you're thinking of selling your house this year, timing is crucial. After all, you'll want to balance getting the most out of the sale of your current home and making the best investment when you buy your next one.
If that's the case, you should know – you may be able to get the best of both worlds today. Here are four reasons why this spring may be your golden window of opportunity.
Today's limited supply of houses for sale is putting sellers in the driver's seat. There are far more buyers in the market today than there are homes available. That means purchasers are eagerly waiting for your house.
Listing your house now makes it the center of attention. And if you work with a real estate professional to price your house correctly, you can expect it to sell quickly and likely get multiple strong offers this season.
According to the most recent Homeowner Equity Insight report from CoreLogic, homeowners are sitting on record amounts of equity thanks to recent home price appreciation. The report finds that the average homeowner has gained $55,300 in equity over the past year.
That much equity can open doors for you to make a move. If you've been holding off on selling because you're worried about how rising prices will impact your next home search, rest assured your equity can help fuel your move. It may be just what you need to cover a large portion – if not all – of the down payment on your next home.
While it's true mortgage rates have already been climbing this year, current mortgage rates are still below what they've been in recent decades. In the 2000s, the average mortgage rate was 6.27%. In the 1990s, the average rate was 8.12%.
For context, the current average 30-year fixed mortgage rate, according to Freddie Mac, is 3.85%. And while recent global uncertainty caused rates to dip slightly in the near-term, experts project rates will rise in the months ahead. Doug Duncan, Senior Vice President and Chief Economist at Fannie Mae, says:
"For homebuyers, we believe that borrowing costs will likely rise with the increase in mortgage rates...."
When that happens, it'll cost you more to purchase your next home. That's why it's important to act now if you're ready to sell. Work with a trusted advisor to kickstart the process so you can take key steps to making your next purchase before rates climb further.
Home prices have been skyrocketing in recent years because of the imbalance of supply and demand. And as long as that imbalance continues, so will the rise in home values.
What does that mean for you? If you're selling so you can move into the home of your dreams or downsize into something that better suits your current needs, you have an opportunity to get ahead of the curve by leveraging your growing equity and purchasing your next home before prices climb higher.
And, once you make your purchase, you can find peace of mind in knowing ongoing home price appreciation is growing the value of your new investment.
If you want to win when you sell and when you buy, this spring could be your golden opportunity. Let's connect so you have the insights you need to take advantage of today's incredible sellers' market.
Selling a home is a relatively rare life event for most people, so it's normal not to know what to expect. When seeking advice from neighbors, friends, or family, it might seem like everyone thinks they're an expert on real estate transactions. It's also common to hear myths and tall tales about the market or the selling process.
As a first-time seller, don't believe everything you hear. Getting caught up in real estate myths can lead to bad decisions that ultimately cost you money in the long run. If you're planning on selling your home soon, be cognizant of these five myths of selling a home:
Selling a home isn't always easy, so arming yourself with the most accurate information is the best way to make decisions that lead to a good return. Of course, experienced real estate agents are often the best source of reliable information about the market. Let's connect when you are ready to learn more about today's market!
Incorporating wellness features into the home design process is not only becoming more mainstream, it's becoming more expected in homes, especially in the luxury market. The foundation of health and wellness begins at home, so it's no wonder that these features are becoming more conventional. Below are the home wellness design trends expected to become increasingly more prevalent in the coming year.
Home Air Purifiers
As the country continues to return to a more normal way of living, having proper ventilation and pure indoor air quality is more important than over. An indoor air purifier can lessen air contaminants, bacteria and viruses. Air purification systems can be installed into HVAC systems and take the form of stand-alone units.
Bringing the outdoors in can offer a host of health benefits, from physical to mental. Greenery can be visually calming, air purifying and can contribute to an immunity-boosting diet. Building an indoor garden can deliver all these benefits. Whether you create a stand-alone greenhouse or a more undersized garden stand, you can have fresh fruit and vegetables readily available and the live plants can aid in purifying your air.
Touchless appliances can help curb the spread of germs throughout your home. From motion-activated toilets, kitchen faucets, bathroom faucets, light switches, locks or garage door openers, simply waving your hand to activate these high-touch surfaces can help stop germs from spreading.
Creating a fitness space beyond the Peloton and treadmill makes a well-rounded fitness and wellness routine at home. A heated yoga studio or meditation room facilitates a mind-body wellness routine from the comfort and safety of home. For additional wellness benefits, adding a massage studio lets your masseuse come to you.
A clutter-free home creates a stress-free oasis that is so important for mental clarity and health. Devising a decluttering system that works for you can be therapeutic and result in long-term psychological and physical health benefits. Aspects of this system may include a more sophisticated custom storage system or hiring a professional organizer. In addition, a lighter physical space can often create a lighter headspace.
Enhanced Outdoor Living
Outdoor living and entertaining increased over the pandemic and don't show any signs of slowing down. From full outdoor kitchens to enhanced lounging areas to additional protection from the elements, equipping your home with the features to host and live comfortably outdoors is essential.
By prioritizing health at home, you're more likely to integrate it into every aspect of your life.
Becoming a homeowner doesn't equip you with the basics of household know-how, although time and experience will likely teach you how to tighten up a leaky faucet. But technicians say that up to 30 percent of their service calls require nothing more than the flip of a switch or the push of a button to 'repair' the stated problem.
To save you from such an embarrassing experience—not to mention the cost of a service call—Readers Digest offers tips to help every homeowner recognize and 'fix' common issues:
Whether you're hosting family and friends, or it's just your immediate family, the kitchen island is inevitably the place where people end up gathering. A kitchen island ends up being a communal spot to enjoy coffee, hors d'oeuvres, a glass of wine and tell stories. A traditional kitchen island layout will work in nearly any kitchen design. Expanding an island to offer more space for sitting, lounging and prepping food will bring additional comfort to your leisurely mornings or long nights gathered around the kitchen island. Here are some unique kitchen island configurations to choose from.
Built-In Table at the End of the Island
If you find your family spending many meals at the kitchen island instead of the dining table, consider building a kitchen table directly into the end of the island. Whether you build a round dining table at the end of the island or a square dining table, remember to account for ample seating. Don't shy away from going oversized to accommodate everyone comfortably and to make a design statement.
A double island can be invaluable if you frequently host gatherings. One island can be for cooking and prep work, and the other can remain the hub for gathering around. Depending on your kitchen's layout and space, the two islands can be next to each other or back to back.
A truly custom look, this layout is meant for kitchens with ample space. An oversized u-shaped kitchen island offers enough room in the middle for a built-in banquette and dining table. This layout can take the place of a breakfast nook. A u-shaped island invites friends and family to meet around the table for meals, snacks, cocktail hour and game nights while still being in the middle of the kitchen island action.
Building a banquette directly into the island is both a functional game-changer and a conversation starter. For example, adding a long banquette to the length of the island can be paired with a dining table as a place to gather around for meals. Or, a shorter banquette added to the end of the island can be paired with a smaller table, such as a tulip or pedestal table, for a more intimate space to enjoy your morning coffee.
If you don't have the space for two kitchen islands, but you want to have a separate food prep area and food serving area, a two-tiered island will let you use the top tier for preparing food and the bottom level to set out hors-d'oeuvres and for guests to set down their drinks and plates. In addition, using different counter materials, such as marble on the top and wood on the bottom, will add visual interest.
The rise in remote work is changing what many Americans want in their homes. Many companies are choosing to delay reopening or go remote full-time, and today's buyers are looking for homes with more space to support their work needs.
As a seller, if you no longer need the extra room you have in your home, rest assured there are buyers who do.
Remote work remains a reality for many Americans. A recent poll from Garter, Inc. shows many organizations have not yet returned their offices:
". . . 66% of organizations are delaying reopening their offices due to new COVID-19 variants."
And it's not just companies that are choosing to remain remote for the time being – workers are seeking more flexibility. According to research from PricewaterhouseCoopers, nearly one-fifth of employees want to be fully remote in the future. The study also finds that many people are leaving jobs to seek out remote work opportunities:
"Among employees looking for new jobs, almost one in ten say it's because they moved away from the office while working remotely and don't want to go back on-site."
That's leading today's buyers to prioritize finding homes with more space so they can comfortably work from home. The 2021 Home Design Trends Survey from the American Institute of Architects finds that 69% of surveyed individuals still want at least one office at home. However, it also shows that more people are looking for multiple spaces in their home for remote work and virtual meetings (see graph below):
If your house has extra space that you no longer need, buyers are interested, and now may be the perfect time to sell.
Your trusted real estate advisor can help you highlight many of the most sought-after features in your listing, including home offices. On the other hand, if you have extra room without a purpose, consider staging it as an area where remote work can happen. Your agent can help you with this as well by evaluating and preparing your space for potential buyers. They'll make recommendations for how to stage the room, where to draw the eye, and what other sellers are doing to make their houses stand out.
With the continued rise in remote work, more buyers are looking for homes that can support multiple home offices. If you have extra room you're no longer using, consider selling. Let's connect today to discuss the unique features in your house and how you can capitalize on any extra space to appeal to today's buyers.
Every Thursday, Freddie Mac releases the results of their Primary Mortgage Market Survey which reveals the most recent movement in the 30-year fixed mortgage rate. Last week, the rate was announced as 3.01%. It was the first time in three months that the mortgage rate surpassed 3%. In a press release accompanying the survey, Sam Khater, Chief Economist at Freddie Mac, explains:
"Mortgage rates rose across all loan types this week as the 10-year U.S. Treasury yield reached its highest point since June."
The reason Khater mentions the 10-year U.S. Treasury yield is because there has been a very strong relationship between the yield and the 30-year mortgage rate over the last five decades. Here's a graph showing that relationship:The relationship has also been consistent throughout 2021 as evidenced by this graph:The graph also reveals the most recent jump in mortgage rates was preceded by a jump in the 10-year Treasury rate (called out by the red circles).
According to Investopedia:
"There are a number of economic factors that impact Treasury yields, such as interest rates, inflation, and economic growth."
Since there are currently concerns about inflation and economic growth due to the pandemic, the Treasury yield spiked last week. That spike impacted mortgage rates.
Khater, in the Freddie Mac release mentioned above, says:
"We expect mortgage rates to continue to rise modestly which will likely have an impact on home prices, causing them to moderate slightly after increasing over the last year."
Nadia Evangelou, Senior Economist and Director of Forecasting for the National Association of Realtors (NAR), also addresses the issue:
"Consumers shouldn't panic. Keep in mind that even though rates will increase in the following months, these rates will still be historically low. The National Association of REALTORS forecasts the 30-year fixed mortgage rate to reach 3.5% by mid-2022."
Forecasting mortgage rates is very difficult. As Mark Fleming, Chief Economist at First American, once quipped:
"You know, the fallacy of economic forecasting is don't ever try and forecast interest rates and or, more specifically, if you're a real estate economist mortgage rates, because you will always invariably be wrong."
That being said, if you're either a first-time homebuyer or a current homeowner thinking of moving into a home that better fits your current needs, keep abreast of what's happening with mortgage rates. It may very well impact your decision. Let's connect when you're ready to buy or sell!
If you're looking to maximize your sale and minimize your effort, you need to work with a real estate professional. In a sellers' market like today's, it can be tempting to list your house on your own – known as For Sale By Owner (FSBO). But the truth is, a real estate professional can save you time and money by managing every step of the process, from pricing your home to reviewing documents and handling negotiations.
Before you decide to sell your house on your own, here are five reasons why working with an agent is your best bet to maximize the sale of your home.
Prepping a house for sale requires a significant amount of time and effort, even though it may seem simple at first glance. Doing it right so it stands out takes expertise and an understanding of what buyers are looking for. An agent considers things like:
An expert real estate advisor relies on their experience to answer these questions and more so you don't invest in the wrong things. Your time and money are important – you shouldn't waste either.
Put plainly, the more buyers that view your house, the better your return will be. In our current market, homes are receiving 3.8 offers on average per sale, according to recent data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR). While that's promising for the sale of your home, it's important to understand your agent's role in bringing buyers in.
Agents have multiple tools at their disposal – from social media to agency resources – to ensure your home is viewed by more prospective buyers. Leveraging the tools available to your agent and your agent's expertise may help boost your sale price as well.
Your agent can also save you time by taking any guesswork out of navigating the required documentation. Today, more disclosures and regulations are mandatory, meaning the number of legal documents you need to juggle is growing.
Because there's so much to take care of, it can be hard to truly understand all of the requirements and the fine print. That's where an expert advisor can truly shine. They've been through the process before and can be your guide to avoid any costly missteps.
Another way your agent maximizes the sale of your home is by making sure it's priced right. Real estate professionals have the experience to compare your house to recently sold homes in your area. They also understand the market at large and can factor in any upgrades you've completed to your home. Combining these factors is the key to making sure your home is priced to move quickly – and at a competitive price.
When you FSBO, you're operating without this expertise. Even with your own research, you may not find the most up-to-date information and could risk setting a price that's inaccurate or unrealistic. If you price your house too high, you could turn buyers away before they're even in the front door. This could also cause problems when it's time for the appraisal.
In addition to their experience navigating sales, real estate professionals understand how to negotiate every aspect of a deal. They also know all the parties that will be involved with the sale, including:
An agent relies on their experience and training to make the right moves during the negotiation. They'll know what levers to pull, how to address each individual's concerns, and when you may want to get a second opinion. Selling your house as a FSBO means you'll need to be prepared to have these conversations on your own.
Selling a house takes time, effort, and expertise – don't go at it alone. Let's connect to make sure you have an expert on your side to make the most of your sale
A kitchen sink can be an overlooked part of the kitchen design process, but being strategic in your selection is essential from both a function and aesthetic standpoint. While typically considered utilitarian, selecting a unique kitchen sink material can make it a focal point and add the drama the space needs. Read on to find out the different types of high-end kitchen sinks to determine which one may be best for your home.
Stone Kitchen Sinks
A stone sink, such as granite, quartz or marble, brings the wow to the workhorse area of the kitchen. A stone sink can add value to your home and has a long lifespan. Since it is a material found in nature, every sink is unique because of its slight variations. However, stone sinks do require sealing maintenance.
Copper Kitchen Sinks
A copper sink is a showstopper and an unexpected element in a kitchen. A copper sink in an apron, also known as farmhouse style, will showcase its unique design; however, it can also be installed as an undermount sink. Copper sinks can come in either a smooth or hammered finish, and the level of patina can vary. The thicker the copper, the more noise it absorbs and will better resist denting. Copper also has antimicrobial properties, which is a significant asset for an area of the house that is a breeding ground for germs.
Cast Iron Kitchen Sinks
Cast iron sinks are one of the oldest types of sinks around, for a good reason. Cast iron sinks are iron and topped with a glossy enamel finish, resisting stains, dings and scratches. A cast iron sink installation can be complicated because it's so heavy. Cast iron sinks also require additional support once installed. However, a cast iron sink can quickly become a focal point of the kitchen since you can select your preferred style and color.
Fireclay Kitchen Sinks
A fireclay kitchen sink is made of ceramic clay, and once dry, is covered with porcelain enamel. The enamel is susceptible to chips, due to regular wear and tear, and the clay can risk cracking. Fireclay sinks are typically installed in an apron sink style, although they can be installed in various ways.
Concrete Kitchen Sinks
A concrete kitchen sink is a completely custom option. This of-the-moment sink material is poured on-site, creating its custom shape, size and look. If you use your sink infrequently, a concrete sink may be for you because the material is prone to staining.
Stainless Steel Kitchen Sinks
While a stainless steel sink is typically a more builder-grade option, there are ways to select an elevated stainless steel sink. Choosing stainless steel with a lower gauge means the sink is thicker, which means higher quality. A stainless steel sink in a satin finish is less likely to show water spots.
Buying a home is an involved process, regardless of your price point. However, the luxury market comes with a different set of conditions. From working with a specialized real estate broker, less available inventory and a more discerning list of requirements, investing in a luxury property can be more involved than purchasing a mid-level home. Here are some of the little-known secrets of the luxury home buying process.
Work With a Luxury Broker
Working with a well-versed broker in the luxury market is key to ensuring a smooth home searching and buying process. A luxury broker will be familiar with the areas in which you're looking, will be up to speed on the latest trends, will be able to identify potential issues in properties you view and will know if a property is worth its listing price. Additionally, a luxury broker will have access to homes that might not be listed publicly or on the MLS. Many luxury listings are private to protect the seller's privacy, so only luxury brokers within the inner circle are privy to these listings.
Have a Knowledgeable Team in Place
In addition to working with a broker who specializes in the luxury market, making sure your financial advisor is involved in your purchase decision will ensure you're making an intelligent investment. Taking it a step further and arranging a meeting between your broker and financial advisor will safeguard your purchase.
Patience is the name of the game when buying luxury real estate. Because of limited inventory, the time it takes to conduct research and a discerning list of must-have features, it can take longer to find the property that is a perfect match for your specifications.
Know the Neighborhood
Familiarizing yourself with the neighborhood and its future plans is an important part of the luxury home buying process. From the school district to the area's downtown amenities to recreational opportunities, the neighborhood can be just as important as the home. Additionally, suppose you are buying a property for its views. In that case, it's important to understand any plans for the area and any possibilities of new construction that could impact any waterfront, golf course or sunset views.
Don't Discount Properties Based on Photos
Based on the photos, if you don't fall in love with a property, it's still worth an in-person visit to see the home. For example, a house may require interior updates but have one in a million waterfront views. If you discount the house based on the listing photos, you will miss out on your opportunity to own a property with those views.
Have Proof of Funds
Being able to prove you have the funds to purchase a luxury property can be more involved than if you're buying a mid-level home. Therefore, it's important you have the documentation to prove you have the funds before making an offer. You may even need this documentation before you view the property. If you're interested in buying or selling, let's connect!
Whether it's a wraparound, screened-in, a loggia or a veranda, porch designs are endless. A porch can be a place to make a first impression on guests, a location for your morning coffee, a destination for sunset cocktails or even a place to enjoy an evening fire. Read on to learn how to create a well-designed front porch that will be sure to wow guests and become your own luxurious oasis.
Fireplace Focal Point
Incorporating a stone fireplace into your front porch design creates both a stunning visual focal point and is a destination to warm up and unwind. Both practical and beautiful, it can be used year-round and will impress anyone who visits your home. Accentuating the space with ambient lighting, comfortable seating and a cozy rug underneath will make this the most used area of the house.
Indoor-Outdoor Inspired Living
A porch isn't solely a place for guests to enter your home, but it can be an additional living space. Creating an outdoor living room on your porch means bringing in a beautiful rug, sofa and chairs, and filling the area with abundant blooming flowers and lush greenery. Spend your evenings lounging with a crisp beverage while watching the sunset or welcome passing neighbors for an impromptu chat.
Private Sitting Space
Since a porch is typically in the front of the house, it doesn't offer the same level of privacy a backyard does. However, you can create a private sitting area with a wall of wall-placed shrubs to create a natural privacy screen without interrupting the existing porch design.
Front Door Technology
Equipping your front porch with the latest home technology trends will give you insight into who's coming and going, even when you're not around. A video doorbell gives you the luxury of seeing who is at your front door, detects motion and provides two-way audio—all from the convenience of your smartphone. Having a keyless entry keypad on your front door gives you the option of distributing the code for anyone who may need easy access, whether it's a dog walker, cleaning service, etc.
Delivery Drop-Off Station
In a world where nearly everything is available with a few taps on a smartphone, having packages pile up on the front steps can be unsightly. A valet closet, a closet designed to drop off packages, dry cleaning, food delivery, groceries or any other items delivered by delivery personnel, can keep parcels secure until you're able to retrieve them. In addition, installing a keyless entry code on the door will allow delivery personnel to safely leave your items if you're unavailable to receive them directly.
Whether you're building a space to rest or adding additional levels of convenience, your front porch is responsible for your home's first impression.
A buyer who is interested in a property typically visits it in person to inspect its layout, features and condition. It's also possible to buy a house without seeing it in person. A buyer can make a decision based on photos and videos, and possibly also the observations and opinions of a real estate agent or another person who visits the property on the buyer's behalf.
When Might It Make Sense to Buy a Property Without Seeing It in Person?
If you're planning to move a long distance, it may not be possible for you to travel to another state to see a house yourself. In that case, you may decide to purchase a home sight unseen, especially if you need to move soon.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way people buy and sell homes. Strong demand has caused properties to be snapped up quickly. In addition, concerns about the spread of the coronavirus have made buyers more willing to purchase a property without first seeing it in person.
With properties currently receiving multiple offers in a matter of hours, interested buyers have to act quickly. If you find a property that appeals to you, you may decide to place an offer without seeing the house in person so you can avoid a bidding war.
How Can You Protect Yourself When Buying a Property Sight Unseen?
Pictures and videos can provide valuable information about a home, but they can't tell the whole story. The listing photos and videos may not cover the entire house. Defects may not be apparent in the images that are provided. Other negative features, such as an unpleasant odor, will only be detectable during an in-person visit.
Even if you can't go to a house yourself before you place an offer, another individual can act on your behalf to help you make an informed decision. Your real estate agent or a family member or friend who lives in the area can visit a property that you're interested in buying and give you information on any issues of concern. If you have questions, let's connect!
Before buying any house, you should have it inspected so you know if it has major problems, such as a cracked foundation or a leaky roof. A home inspection is even more critical when buying a property sight unseen.
Include an inspection contingency in your offer. That will allow you to have the house inspected and will give you the right to request repairs or a price reduction, or to back out of the deal if the home inspector finds serious problems.
One of the major questions real estate experts are asking today is whether prospective homebuyers still believe purchasing a home makes sense. Some claim rapidly rising home prices are impacting demand and, by extension, leading to the recent slowdown in sales activity.
However, demand isn't the real issue. Instead, it's the lack of supply (homes available for sale). An article from the Wall Street Journal shows this is true for new home construction:
"Home builders have sold more homes than they can build. Now they are limiting their sales in an effort to catch up."
The article quotes David Auld, CEO of D.R. Horton Inc. (the largest homebuilder by volume in the United States since 2002), explaining how they don't have enough homes for the number of buyers coming into their models:
"Through our history, to have somebody walk into our models and to tell them, 'We don't have a house for you to buy today', is something that is foreign to us."
Danielle Hale, Chief Economist for realtor.com, also explains that, in the existing home sale market, the slowdown in sales was a supply challenge, not a lack of demand. Responding to a recent uptick in listings coming to market, she notes:
". . . if these changing inventory dynamics continue, we could see a wave of real estate activity heading into the latter part of the year."
Again, the buyers are there. We just need houses to sell to them.
If the slowdown in sales was the result of demand waning, we would start to see home prices beginning to moderate – but this isn't the case. As Mark Fleming, Chief Economist for First American, explains:
"There's a lot of conversation around rising prices and falling quantity in the housing market, and there's this concept, or this idea, that it's a demand-side problem . . . . But, if demand were falling dramatically, we would actually see less price pressure, less home price growth."
Instead, we're seeing price appreciation accelerate throughout this year, as evidenced by the year-over-year percentage increases reported by CoreLogic:
(July numbers are not yet available)
There's a shortage of listings, not buyers, and there are three very good reasons for purchasers to still be interested in buying a home this year.
Though home prices have risen dramatically over the last 18 months, mortgage rates remain near historic lows. Because of these near-record rates, monthly mortgage payments are affordable for most buyers.
While homes are less affordable than they were last year, when we adjust for inflation, we can see they're also more affordable than they were in the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, and much of the 2000s.
A recent study shows renting a home takes up a higher percentage of a household's income than owning one. According to the analysis, here's the percentage of income homebuyers and renters should expect to pay now versus at the end of the year.
While the principal and interest of a monthly mortgage payment remain the same over the lifetime of the loan, rents increase almost every year.
Whether you're a homeowner or an investor, real estate builds wealth through growing equity year-over-year. If you own, your household is gaining the benefit of that wealth accumulation. Fleming says:
"The major financial advantage of homeownership is the accumulation of equity in the form of house price appreciation . . . . We have to take into account the fact that the shelter that you're owning is an equity-generating or wealth-generating asset."
Odeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist at First American, elaborates in a recent article:
". . . once the home is purchased, appreciation helps build equity in the home, and becomes a benefit rather than a cost. When accounting for the appreciation benefit in our rent versus own analysis, it was cheaper to own in every one of the top 50 markets, including the two most expensive rental markets, San Francisco and San Jose, Calif."
Today, that equity buildup is substantial. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reports:
"The median sales price of single-family existing homes rose in 99% of measured metro areas in the second quarter of 2021 compared to one year ago, with double-digit price gains in 94% of markets."
In 94% of markets, there was a greater than 10% increase in median price. That means if you bought a $400,000 home in one of those markets, your net worth increased by at least $40,000. If you rented, the landlord was the recipient of the wealth increase.
For many reasons, housing demand is still extremely strong. What we need is more supply (house listings) to meet that demand.
According to the National Kitchen and Bath Association, granite countertops are in less demand today, while the use of quartz is on the rise.
Why? For one thing, man-made quartz countertops are offered in a far greater range of looks and feels. Reason number two: it's a bit easier to maintain over the long haul, and it's deemed a better environmental choice because it emits lower levels of radon—a potentially cancer-causing agent. To be fair, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) maintains the radioactive materials in granite countertops are far too minuscule to pose a health threat.
So what, exactly, is a quartz countertop? It's made of engineered stone, composed of at least 90% ground-up quartz mixed with a binder (like resin) then molded into a slab. Because pigment is added during the manufacturing process, the sky's the limit when it comes to color. And quartz is non-porous and fairly resistant to stains, mold and bacteria.
Unlike granite countertops, which require periodic resealing to maintain their beauty, quartz is low-maintenance, needing only regular cleanings with soap and water or a mild detergent.
Quartz can be more impervious than granite to cracking or chipping under average conditions, although it is not quite as heat-proof. Most manufacturers recommend using a trivet when placing scalding hot pots or pans on a quartz countertop.
Apart from durability and maintenance, quartz comes in an infinite variety of designs, ranging in look and feel from sleek solid colors to organic-looking variations that resemble real substances found in nature, like veined marble. It can have a smooth and shiny finish or a softer, brushed feel (almost suede-looking). Choose wisely because the design can make a huge difference in the look and feel of a room.
Quartz counters may be a bit more expensive, up to 10 percent higher in cost than their granite counterparts, but shopping around and resealing over the years can mitigate any cost differences.
So, what side are you on? Natural stone mined from the earth or a man-made variation?
By the end of last year, many homeowners found themselves with more equity than they realized, and at the same time their wages were increasing. When those two factors unite, it can spark homeowners to think about making a move to a larger or more expensive home in the luxury space. That said, now is a perfect opportunity to take a look at the forecast for the 2020 luxury market.
"There's a good link between luxury real estate prices and [economic] growth."
Available inventory is a key element that can impact home prices. At the upper range, the inventory is greater in comparison to the entry-level market, making moving up to a luxury home a growing reality for many buyers right now.
2. Activity in the Market
With more buying opportunities at the higher end, we should start to see an increase in activity. The same article states,
"Affluent homebuyers will start to come out of the woodwork as they find rising luxury rents less appealing and sellers get even more negotiable on price."
Buyers looking in the luxury market are taking the opportunity to negotiate on price in a segment where there are more choices, too. According to the Luxury Market Report, homes sold for an average of 96.94% of the list price in December.
Buyers are also getting more for their money with greater purchasing power due to the current low interest rates.
3. Buyers Are Coming Back
Keep in mind, buyers are often sellers too, especially those looking to move up. Homeowners with an entry-level home can take advantage of the inventory shortage at the lower end of the market, thus driving higher sales prices for their current homes. Combined with growing equity in the homes they're listing, it's a great time for those who are ready to make a luxury move.
The extra equity and greater purchasing power are bringing many buyers back to the market. The same article mentioned that,
"We've already seen buyers who've been on the sidelines for two years tread back into the market."
If you're considering entering the luxury market, 2020 is shaping up to be a great year for those who are ready to make that move. Let's get together to set your real estate plan for the year.
Selling Your Home Faster: It's all in the Power of Good Listing Photos
You know the saying "a picture paints a thousand words?" Well in real estate, this saying rings true, and those pictures can help sell your home. First impressions are everything in real estate.
With the increased use of the internet, potential home buyers research homes of interest online, before taking the time to see them in person. According to research done by the National Association of REALTORS®, 87% of homebuyers who searched for a home on the internet found photos to be the most useful feature.
Photos with the toilet seat up, dark shots, cluttered rooms, or poor-quality photos will lose the attention of the potential buyer instantly. Sharp, professional, high-quality photos show off the space and its potential, perfectly. The average digital audience only has an attention span of 7 seconds. So, think like a buyer, take a look at your online listing, and ask yourself what impression you're leaving within that time frame.
Once you've kept the audience for more than 7 seconds, what do they see? Make sure they're getting a glimpse of both the interior and exterior of the home. Show off the property's curb appeal, the backyard, the garage space, the dock, and, of course, the view. Then when it comes to the interior, are you showing them the kitchen, dining area, bedrooms, bathrooms, and living space? The potential buyer wants to imagine themselves living in the space, and photography is an opportunity for them to do that.
In order to help them imagine themselves in the space, it often helps to stage your home. Declutter, depersonalize, and think big picture. Photography of an empty room isn't quite as appealing as a room that's set up for someone to live there. Take the opportunity to add a plant to the corner, stools around the kitchen counter, and cut the grass. Make the photos pop, by highlighting the best features of your home.
If you're not sold on professional photography yet, studies have shown that they help your home sell faster (and who doesn't want that?). Homes with high-quality photography sell 32 percent faster than those without professional photos. They tend to make the space look bigger. The photographer is able to capture the images with a wide-angle lens, instead of an iPhone. In addition to the fancy equipment, photographers also know the best angle to capture each photo.
Not only do they sell faster, but, according to a 2013 Redfin study, professionally photographed homes priced in the $400,000 range sold three weeks faster and for more than $10,000 relative to their list price, than their counterparts with amateur photos.
Good listing photos are so important to Cora Bett Thomas Realty, that the agents make it a part of their marketing plan to cover that cost for each of the homes it is selling. These photos attract more buyers, give you a competitive edge, sell your home more efficiently, and truly bring a space to life.
If you've never invested in professional photography before, try it on your next listing and see the difference it makes in the sale. Homebuyers want to imagine themselves in your beautiful space, not in a home that has poor lighting and looks unwelcoming.
It's a life event, and it's an important decision. If you're looking to buy, you'll want to find the right neighborhood, right mortgage, and perfect home. If you're looking to sell you'll want to find the right price and the right time to put your home on the market. But this important step is often overlooked … Searching for the perfect agent for yourself.
This person should be someone compatible with you (and your family), but also someone who has the experience to make the process enjoyable. Cora Bett Thomas suggests that you interview your agent, asking them these 5 key questions for finding the perfect agent:
Find out what sets them apart. What type of Brokerage to do they work for? How are they going to go above and beyond for you and the service you need?
Have them tell you about the most interesting listing or sale they've ever made. How long have they been in the business in your area? If they are new to the market they may still be learning the area. Have they helped sell your type of property before? Have they helped a buyer in your situation? All real estate transactions are different, so you want to make sure your agent knows how to guide you through the process, or has the resources behind them to support your needs.
Communication is a big deal. Some people prefer phone calls, others a text or an email. The frequency of communication is also a deal breaker. You should have your choice of how you like to be communicated with, but no matter the case they should be communicating with you very often and very clearly.
Are they actively soliciting listings and going out and finding customers? That is the key. This is not a 9-5 job, this is a smart job. Your agent needs to know more than just the transaction at hand. Are they caught up on the national market as well as your local market? Be sure to ask about community involvement. An agent who has relationships around your town will help get you connected.
There's more to it than just putting the For Sale sign in the yard. Your agent should be explaining what your property offers to a wide audience. They should be using videos, digital marketing, Instagram, Facebook, and all social media platforms to help sell your home.
You want the home buying and selling process to be just as important to your agent as it is to you. Come see us at Cora Bett Thomas Realty, because we have the right agent for you!
While not a perfect science — given the unpredictability of nature — there are many signs to look for that could indicate the potential for tree failure. Some caused by improper pruning practices, and others occur naturally. In this article we will discuss signs and growth patterns that may indicate a trees potential likelihood for failure, along with how you — as the manager of your own little slice of our urban forest — can be educated when hiring a tree service contractor in hopes of mitigating these potential risks.
It's easy and understandable to be concerned about large trees near or over your home with the annual threat of hurricanes. As long as your house is within striking distance of a tree, there is the potential for impact if such a storm does occur; or, if structural problems with the tree go unnoticed or untreated. The goal of this article is to familiarize you with some common defects so you can be informed and are able to address potential issues. Also knowing how to identify some of these problems and understanding mitigation options will help you weed out potential "tree choppers." These individuals may feed off of your fear of property damage and make unnecessary recommendations that can cost you significant money and oftentimes be damaging to your trees.
First off, check to see if your tree is over or within striking distance to any targets. These include structures, high traffic areas, playgrounds, etc. If it isn't, move on to others. If it is, let's take a closer look:
Does the tree have any large, dead limbs? These are most easily spotted in summer when healthy limbs generally have leaves.
Do you notice a lean in the tree? Has the lean noticeably worsened over time? You could see heaving of the ground/roots on the opposing side of the lean. Are the majority of the limbs (weight) on the side of the lean, or does the canopy balance out the lean?
Now let's look at the larger branches, leads (large tree parts that grow from the truck off of which branches are attached), and trunk. Do you see any decay on these? Binoculars may be helpful. Keep an eye out for cavity dwellers: bees, raccoons, etc.. These are an obvious sign of hollow areas. Look at the "forks" of the large limbs. This is the area where the trunk branches out to smaller sized leads and limbs and often times where limbs break in high wind. The optimal fork will have somewhat of a "U" shape on the top side. Spread your fingers wide, and look at the base where they meet your hand. Notice the small webbing like appearance — that is what we are looking for in an optimal tree fork. This is the strongest growth form. If you instead see a harder, more "V" like connection, often times with swollen or discolored bark — this could be included bark.
Included bark will cause a weakened attachment of the leads predisposing them to possible failure. A supplemental support system (Cables and/or braces) may be necessary to prevent failure.
Moving on, let's look at the trunk and base of the trunk, "root flare" (Root flare is the base of the trunk where the trunk meets the roots)- do you see any cracks, cavities, loose or missing bark, conks or water Stains? Do you see flat areas as opposed to the mostly uniform roundness? Do you see any deep recesses or ridges at the lower portion of the trunk near the root flare? These are often times an indicator that the trunk may be hollow. If you don't spot any of these, let's move on to the roots.
Do you see any mushrooms or other such fruiting bodies? These could indicate root rot issues. Has there been a driveway recently installed, or other such disturbances that may have damaged the anchoring system of the tree? Do you see any lifted areas of soil or roots? Is the area a low spot? Oversaturated soil due to poor drainage could cause a tree to uproot easier in high winds and is also a breeding ground for root rot causing pathogens further weakening roots.
Now let's take a broader look at all of the trees on your property that could be a risk. Here is a list of potential hazardous trees and the risks they pose.
Topping is the indiscriminate cutting of tree limbs to stubs or to lateral limbs that are not large enough to assume the terminal role. Often times people assume that by shortening a tree they are ensuring it is receiving less wind load or is less of a hazard because it now won't reach the target if it falls. While the immediate result of topping is just that, many more problems arise down the road. Depending on the severity of the hack job, the tree may die shortly after. Remember — trees need leaves to supply food to sustain. If the tree does survive this travesty, it will sprout out numerous shoots all from one area at the end of the nubbed off limbs. These shoots grow to large limbs over a few years and are weakly attached and prone to break much more than before. Compounding this issue is the trees reaction to topping. It will allocate all of its energy to putting out new shoots/leaves and very little energy to the sealing process, leaving the end of these limbs open for decay. The newly grown limbs will be even more prone to failure. Avoid topping trees.
Lions Tailing is when all of the inner limbs of a tree are removed, leaving only the foliage near the ends of the large limbs - resembling a lion tail. The misunderstanding is that by doing this the wind will more easily flow through the tree reducing its wind resistance; however there is actually the adverse effect. Now that all of the wind resistance is at the tip of the limb, a lever arm is created and forces are amplified. Instead of removing this interior growth, weight/limbs should be shortened. As an example, try holding a 5-pound weight with your arm fully extended. Now rest the 5-pound weight directly on your bicep. The latter is much easier. Furthermore, the tree will react to lions tailing by exponential sprouting where the limbs were just removed in an effort to replace lost leaf area. You will hire someone to do it all over again and again. Avoid lions tailing limbs.
Large limbs/leads of trees over your house or valuables can be nerve wracking. The first thought is often to remove the entire tree part (i.e limb or lead) all the way back to the trunk. This may not be the best choice. It's important to know that every cut is a wound. The larger the wound, the longer it takes to seal - if ever. Open wounds from large cuts are the perfect opportunity for decay causing pathogens to enter the tree. Instead of having large limbs removed, consider removing weight/limbs from the tip to lighten the load.
Now that you are informed, this should be much easier. Avoid "point and cut" companies. These are the ones who know little about arboricultural practices but have a chainsaw and are willing to cut wherever you point. Find an ISA Certified Arborist — preferably with a Tree Risk Assessment Qualification. They have the knowledge to guide you on what is best for both you and your trees. Yes the initial cost may be a little more, but the results will save you far more down the road. My hope is that this brief "do it yourself" tree risk assessment is helpful. Importantly, this is a very watered down version as a guide to help you spot defects and hazards and should not be a substitute for a tree professionals thorough inspection and advice.
By Shem Kendrick
ISA Certified Arborist SO-7151A
Tree Risk Assessment Qualified
TCIA Tree Care Specialist
When you think of Cora Bett Thomas Realty you think of the 100 mile coast and the Low Country, but did you know the agency has a world-wide connection? Cora Bett Thomas Realty & Associates is the Savannah representative for Leading Real Estate Companies of the World ("Leading RE"). As a member of Leading RE, Cora Bett Thomas Realty & Associates provides global accessibility with a local focus.
Leading RE has a global membership that spans six continents and 70 countries. Each year, Leading RE connects more than 565 firms and 130,000 sales associates who produce over 1.2 million real estate transactions. Membership to Leading RE is by invitation only, so the network of real estate professionals all uphold the highest standards and strive for exceptional experiences for all clients.
As a member of Leading RE, Cora Bett Thomas Realty & Associates provides a quality real estate experience, global marketing reach and access to top real estate professionals in virtually any market worldwide. Listing your home with Cora Bett Thomas Realty & Associates connects your for sale sign to firms all around the world, thanks to Leading RE.
Cora Bett Thomas Realty is a charter member of its Luxury Property division, Luxury Portfolio International. Your home will be featured on the very best websites and get exposure from more than 150 websites, because of this connection. Cora Bett Thomas Realty & Associates has set the standard for marketing, professionalism and growth among luxury brokers in the region.
Contact Cora Bett Thomas Realty Today for more information on what our Membership in Leading RE means for you as a buyer or seller.