Dec. 8, 2017

The #1 Reason to List Your House Today!

Many people believe that selling their house during “the spring buyers’ market” is the best thing to do. Their reasoning is that there will be more buyers than there are during the winter months and, therefore, their house will sell quicker and for a higher price.

Historically, this made sense. However, today’s real estate market is not following the rules of the past.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) measures buyer “foot traffic” each month. It receives data on the number of properties shown to a prospective purchaser by a Realtor® (based on the number of lockboxes used). The data reveals the number of buyers out actively looking for a home, not just window shopping on the internet. NAR explains:

“Foot traffic has a strong correlation with future contracts and home sales, so it can be viewed as a peek ahead at sales trends two to three months into the future.”

According to the latest Foot Traffic Report, buyer traffic is greater now than it was during this year’s spring market and there are more buyers out now than at any other time in the last five years (March of 2012).

 

The chart below shows that buyer activity over the last three months (blue bars) was greater than it was during this past spring market (green bars).

Bottom Line

If you are waiting for next spring to list your home because you think that’s when the buyers will be out in force, perhaps you should reconsider. Buyers are out right now!

 

Posted in For Sellers
Nov. 17, 2017

Mortgage Interest Rates Are Going Up… Should I Wait to Buy?

Mortgage interest rates, as reported by Freddie Mac, have increased over the last several weeksFreddie Mac, along with Fannie Mae, the Mortgage Bankers Association and the National Association of Realtors, is calling for mortgage rates to continue to rise over the next four quarters.

This has caused some purchasers to lament the fact that they may no longer be able to get a rate below 3.5%. However, we must realize that current rates are still at historic lows.

Here is a chart showing the average mortgage interest rate over the last several decades:

Bottom Line

Though you may have missed getting the lowest mortgage rate ever offered, you can still get a better interest rate than your older brother or sister did ten years ago, a lower rate than your parents did twenty years ago, and a better rate than your grandparents did forty years ago.

Posted in For Buyers
Nov. 10, 2017

A Housing Bubble? Industry Experts Say NO!

 

With residential home prices continuing to appreciate at levels above historic norms, some are questioning if we are heading toward another housing bubble (and subsequent burst) like the one we experienced in 2006-2008.

Recently, five housing experts weighed in on the question.

Rick Sharga, Executive VP at Ten-X:

“We’re definitely not in a bubble.”

“We have a handful of markets that are frothy and probably have hit an affordability wall of sorts but…while prices nominally have surpassed the 2006 peak, we’re not talking about 2006 dollars.”

Christopher Thornberg, Partner at Beacon Economics:

“There is no direct or indirect sign of any kind of bubble.”

“Steady as she goes. Prices continue to rise. Sales roughly flat.…Overall this market is in an almost boring place.”

Bill McBride, Calculated Risk:

“I wouldn't call house prices a bubble.”

“So prices may be a little overvalued, but there is little speculation and I don't expect house prices to decline nationally like during the bust.”

David M. Blitzer, Managing Director and Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices:

“Housing is not repeating the bubble period of 2000-2006.”

“…price increases vary unlike the earlier period when rising prices were almost universal; the number of homes sold annually is 20% less today than in the earlier period and the months’ supply is declining, not surging.”

Bing Bai & Edward Golding, Urban Institute:

 

“We are not in a bubble and nowhere near the situation preceding the 2008 housing crisis.”

“Despite recent increases, house prices remain affordable by historical standards, suggesting that home prices are tracking a broader economic expansion.”

Call us today to get your accurate home value in today's market.  Jim @ 813-477-2090

 

Posted in For Buyers
Oct. 30, 2017

Buying a Home Can Be Scary... Unless You Know the Facts

Graphic, Buying A Home Can Be Scary

Some Highlights:

Many potential homebuyers believe that they need a 20% down payment and a 780 FICO® score to qualify to buy a home, which stops many of them from even trying! Here are some facts:

  • 40% of millennials who purchased homes this year have put down less than 10%.
  • 76.4% of loan applications were approved last month.
  • The average credit score of approved loans was 724 in September.
Posted in For Buyers
Oct. 26, 2017

Hiring an Agent to Sell Your House May Cost You Nothing!

  •  Hiring an Agent to Sell Your House May Cost You NOTHING! | MyKCM

    There is no doubt that it is easier to sell your house when using the services of a local real estate professional. The agent will provide:

    • Greater exposure to more buyers
    • The skills of a professional negotiator
    • A layer of protection from possible legal liabilities
    • Professional guidance in navigating any pitfalls that may arise
    • A level of safety while showing the home

    There is no doubt that these services are valuable to any family that decides to sell. The only question is – how valuable? One of the main reasons For Sale By Owners (FSBOs) don’t use a real estate agent is because they believe these services are not worth the fee an agent charges. But, what if those services didn’t cost the seller a penny?

    A study by Collateral Analytics, however, reveals that FSBOs don’t actually save anything and, in some cases, may be costing themselves more by not listing with an agent.

    In the study, they analyzed home sales in a variety of markets in 2016 and the first half of 2017. The data showed that:

    “FSBOs tend to sell for lower prices than comparable home sales, and in many cases below the average differential represented by the prevailing commission rate.” (emphasis added)

    Why would FSBOs net less money on their own than if they used an agent?

    The study makes several suggestions:

     

    • “There could be systematic bias on the buyer side as well. FSBO sales might attract more strategic buyers than MLS sales, particularly buyers who rationalize lower-priced bids on with the logic that the seller is “saving” a traditional commission. Such buyers might specifically search for and target sellers who are not getting representational assistance from agents.” In other words, ‘bargain lookers’ might shop FSBOs more often.
    • “Experienced agents are experts at ‘staging’ homes for sale” which could bring more money for the home.
    • “Properties listed with a broker that is a member of the local MLS will be listed online with all other participating broker websites, marketing the home to a much larger buyer population. And those MLS properties generally offer compensation to agents who represent buyers, incentivizing them to show and sell the property and again potentially enlarging the buyer pool.” If more buyers see a home, the greater the chances are that there could be a bidding war. 

      Three conclusions from the study:

      1. FSBOs achieve prices significantly lower than those from similar properties sold by Realtors using the MLS.
      2. The differential in selling prices for FSBOs when compared to MLS sales of similar properties is about 5.5%.
      3. The sales in 2017 suggest the average price was near 6% lower for FSBO sales of similar properties.

      Bottom Line

      If you are thinking of selling, FSBOing may end up costing you money instead of saving you money.

Posted in For Sellers
Oct. 17, 2017

4 Reasons to Sell This Fall

Posted in For Sellers
Sept. 26, 2017

How to Get the Most Money from the Sale of Your Home

Every homeowner wants to make sure they maximize their financial reward when selling their home. But how do you guarantee that you receive maximum value for your house? Here are two keys to ensure that you get the highest price possible.

1. Price it a LITTLE LOW 

This may seem counterintuitive. However, let’s look at this concept for a moment. Many homeowners think that pricing their home a little OVER market value will leave them room for negotiation. In actuality, this just dramatically lessens the demand for your house (see chart below).

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

Realtor.com gives this advice:

“Aim to price your property at or just slightly below the going rate. Today’s buyers are highly informed, so if they sense they’re getting a deal, they’re likely to bid up a property that’s slightly underpriced, especially in areas with low inventory.”

2. Use a Real Estate Professional

This, too, may seem counterintuitive. The seller may think they would make more money if they didn’t have to pay a real estate commission. With this being said, studies have shown that homes typically sell for more money when handled by a real estate professional.

A new study by Collateral Analytics, reveals that FSBOs don’t actually save any money, and in some cases may be costing themselves more, by not listing with an agent.

In the study, they analyzed home sales in a variety of markets in 2016 and the first half of 2017. The data showed that:

“FSBOs tend to sell for lower prices than comparable home sales, and in many cases below the average differential represented by the prevailing commission rate.”

The results of the study showed that the differential in selling prices for FSBOs when compared to MLS sales of similar properties is about 5.5%. Sales in 2017 suggest the average price was near 6% lower for FSBO sales of similar properties.

Bottom Line

Price your house at or slightly below the current market value and hire a professional. This will guarantee that you maximize the price you get for your house.

Posted in For Sellers
Sept. 15, 2017

Empty Nesters: Best to Remodel or Time to Sell?

55+ Couple holding hands

Your children have finally moved out and you and your spouse now live alone in a four-bedroom colonial (or a similar type of house). You have two choices to make:

  1. Remodel your house to fit your current lifestyle and needs
  2. Sell your house and purchase the perfect home

Based on the record of dollars spent on remodeling and renovations, it appears that many homeowners are deciding on number one. But, is that the best long-term solution?

If you currently live in a 3-4-bedroom home, you probably bought it at a time when your children were the major consideration in determining family housing needs. Along with a large home, you more than likely also considered school district, the size of the property and the makeup of other families living in the neighborhood (example: you wanted a block with other kids your children could play with and a backyard large enough to accommodate that).

Remodeling your home to meet your current needs might mean combining two bedrooms to make one beautiful master suite and changing another bedroom into the massive walk-in closet you always wanted. However, if you live in a neighborhood that historically attracts young families, you may be dramatically undermining the value of your house by cutting down the number of bedrooms and making it less desirable to the typical family moving onto your block.

And, according to a recent study you will recoup only 64.4% of a remodeling project’s investment dollars if you sell in the future.

Your home is probably at its highest value as it stands right now. Instead of remodeling your house, it may make better financial sense to sell your current home and purchase a home that was built specifically to meet your current lifestyle and desires.

In many cases, this well-designed home will give you exactly what you want in less square footage (read less real estate taxes!) than your current home.

Bottom Line

If you are living in a house that no longer fits your needs, at least consider checking out other homes in your area that would meet your lifestyle needs before taking on the cost and hassle of remodeling your current house.

 

Posted in For Sellers
Sept. 8, 2017

What to do after a disaster hits your home

What to do after a disaster hits your home, mortgage

 NEW YORK – Sept. 6, 2017 – Hurricane Harvey has damaged or destroyed hundreds of thousands of homes and put countless families into a financial tailspin. And now, Hurricane Irma has its sites set on Florida. If you're affected by a natural disaster, what does it mean for your mortgage? Here are frequently asked questions and answers.

What should I do first?

Get in touch with the following entities:

·         The Federal Emergency Management Agency. You can register with FEMA online, in person at a disaster recovery center or by calling 800-621-3362.

·         Your homeowners insurance company, plus your flood or earthquake insurance company, if either applies to your situation.

·         Your mortgage servicer. That's the company that you send your monthly payments to; it might not be your original mortgage lender.

I can't pay my mortgage. What are my options?

If the disaster makes it impossible to make your monthly house payments, ask your servicer for mortgage forbearance. A forbearance 'allows you to stop making your payments for an agreed-upon time,' says Lisa Tibbitts, director of public relations for Freddie Mac.

In a forbearance agreement, you might make partial payments or stop making payments for a specific time. Generally, a forbearance lasts up to six months and can be extended up to another six months. Interest still accrues during the time you aren't making full monthly payments. But under a forbearance agreement, the lender won't charge late fees or report you to credit bureaus.

The lender will want you to catch up on your missed payments after the forbearance period is over. That might involve paying extra every month for a few years, modifying the loan or reaching some other negotiated agreement.

To talk with a Department of Housing and Urban Development-approved housing counselor before agreeing to forbearance, call 800-569-4287.

What aid is available?

Direct federal aid consists mostly of loans from the Small Business Administration. As odd as that may seem, the SBA is in charge of delivering disaster-related loans to individuals and families.

The SBA extends loans at favorable interest rates to replace or repair primary residences. You can borrow up to $200,000 to cover renovation or construction costs. Whether you're a renter or a homeowner, the SBA will lend you up to $40,000 to replace personal property such as clothing, furniture, appliances and vehicles.

FEMA offers grants to fill in gaps between insurance payouts and SBA loans. The maximum grant is $33,300 per household for disasters that happen in the fiscal year that ends Sept. 30, 2017. Grants can be used for expenses such as basic home repairs that aren't covered by insurance, temporary rent and disaster-caused medical and child care.

The Federal Housing Administration has a program that's designed to help disaster survivors rebuild or buy replacement homes. Under the Section 203(h) program, the FHA insures mortgages for people whose homes were destroyed or damaged in disasters. Borrowers don't have to make a downpayment.

My house was destroyed. Should I keep paying the mortgage?

You should do your best to maintain your credit score. That means paying the home loan if you can afford it until you have talked with the servicer and have reached a settlement with the insurance company.

The way lenders look at it: You promised to repay your loan when you signed your mortgage documents at closing. "The borrower is liable for the loan debt, and making their payment is part of the borrower's contractual obligation," Alicia Jones, Fannie Mae spokeswoman, said in an email.

Note: If you apply for a loan from the SBA, it runs a credit check before inspecting your property. That's one reason to preserve your credit score by paying your bills on time as best you can.

What happens if I stop mortgage payments without telling my servicer?

If you stop making payments without permission from your mortgage servicer, you could be charged late fees and your credit score could fall.

Homeowners "should call their lender," says Brian Sullivan, supervisory public affairs specialist for HUD. "Don't stop answering the phone. Don't stop opening your mail."

Talk with your mortgage servicer before you miss a payment. The servicer might offer forbearance.

What if I can't contact my mortgage servicer?

Whether your loan is guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, insured by the FHA or guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs, the servicer is expected to reach out to you.

In response to Hurricane Harvey, Freddie Mac is allowing servicers to "verbally grant" 90-day forbearances, and Fannie Mae is letting servicers grant 90-day forbearances 'even if they cannot contact the impacted homeowner immediately.'

Even so, you should call the servicer or answer the mortgage company's calls.

What happens if I'm in foreclosure?

Mortgage servicers receive foreclosure guidance from federal agencies, and the recommendations vary depending on the disaster.

Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the VA and the FHA have suspended foreclosures for 90 days in the Hurricane Harvey disaster area.

The house I was buying was destroyed or damaged. What happens now?

If a disaster happens between appraisal and closing, "the lender is expected to take prudent and reasonable actions to determine whether the condition of the property may have materially changed since the effective date of the appraisal report," according to Fannie Mae's guide to lenders.

If the damage is relatively minor and covered by insurance, the mortgage can be closed. But if the damage is uninsured, or if it's major, then the house must be repaired before the mortgage can go through.

Copyright © 2017 The Steuben Courier Advocate, Holden Lewis. All rights reserved. The article "What to Do After a Disaster Hits Your Home, Mortgage," originally appeared on NerdWallet.

 

 

Posted in Real Estate News
Aug. 31, 2017

Want To Keep Up With The Joneses? Now's The Time!

Upscale Living Room photo

Does your current house fit your needs? Does it seem like everyone else is moving up and moving on to more luxurious surroundings? Are you wondering what it would take to start living your dream life?

Market conditions around the country have presented an opportunity like no other for those who are looking to make the jump to a premium or luxury home.

The National Association of Realtors reports that national inventory levels are now at a 4.3-month supply. A normal market, where prices appreciate with inflation, has 6-7-months inventory. The national market has echoed the conditions felt in the starter and trade-up markets as inventory has declined year-over-year for 25 consecutive months.

The chart below shows the relationship between the inventory of homes for sale and prices.

Monthly Housing Inventory GraphAccording to Trulia's latest Inventory Report, the inventory of homes for sale in the two lower priced markets has dropped by double digit percentages over the last 12 months (16% for starter and 13% for trade-up homes). While the inventory of homes in the premium home category has dropped by only 4%.

This has created a Seller's Market in the lower priced markets, as 54% of homes were on the market for less than a month in the last Realtors Confidence Index, and a buyer's market in the luxury market, where homes were on the market for an average of 160 days according to the Institute for Luxury Home Marketing .

Bottom Line:

If you are even thinking of listing your home and moving up to a luxury home, let’s get together to evaluate your ability to do so. Homeowners across the country are upgrading their homes, why can’t you? Your dream home is waiting! 

 

Posted in For Buyers