3 Reasons to Use a Real Estate Pro in a Complex Digital World

If you’re searching for a home online, you’re not alone; lots of people are doing it. The question is, are you using all of your available resources, and are you using them wisely? Here’s why the Internet is a great place to start the home-buying process, and the truth on why it should never be your only go-to resource when it comes to making such an important decision.

According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the three most popular information sources home buyers use in the home search are:

  • Online website (93%)
  • Real estate agent (86%)
  • Mobile/tablet website or app (73%)

Clearly, you’re not alone if you’re starting your search online; 93% of home buyers are right there with you. The even better news: 86% of buyers are also getting their information from a real estate agent at the same time.

Here are 3 top reasons why using a real estate professional in addition to a digital search is key:

1. There’s More to Real Estate Than Finding a Home Online. It’s a lonely and complicated trek around the web if you don’t have a real estate professional to also help you through the 230 possible steps you’ll face as you navigate through a real estate transaction. That’s a pretty staggering number! Determining your price, submitting an offer, and successful negotiation are just a few of these key steps in the sequence. You’ll definitely want someone who has been there before to help you through it.

2. You Need a Skilled Negotiator. In today’s market, hiring a talented negotiator could save you thousands, maybe even tens of thousands of dollars. From the original offer to the appraisal and the inspection, many of the intricate steps can get complicated and confusing. You need someone who can keep the deal together until it closes.

3. It Is Crucial to Make a Competitive and Compelling Offer. There is so much information out there in the news and on the Internet about home sales, prices, and mortgage rates. How do you know what’s specifically going on in your area? How do you know what to offer on your dream home without paying too much or offending the seller with a lowball offer?

Dave Ramsey, the financial guru, advises:

“When getting help with money, whether it’s insurance, real estate or investments, you should always look for someone with the heart of a teacher, not the heart of a salesman.”

Hiring a real estate professional who has his or her finger on the pulse of the market will make your buying experience an informed and educated one. You need someone who is going to tell you the truth, not just what they think you want to hear.

Bottom Line

If you’re ready to start your search online, don’t skip over the support of an educated and informed real estate professional. You’ll want someone at your side who can answer your questions and guide you through a process that can be complex and confusing if you go at it with the Internet alone. Click Here to contact us today!

Existing-Home Sales Report Indicates Now Is a Great Time to Sell

The best time to sell anything is when demand for that item is high and the supply of that item is limited. The latest Existing-Home Sales Report released by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), reveals that demand for housing continues to be strong, but the supply is struggling to keep pace. With this trend likely continuing throughout 2020, now is a great time to sell your house.

THE EXISTING-HOME SALES REPORT

The most important data revealed in this report was not actually sales. In reality, it was the inventory of homes for sale (supply). The report explained:

  • Total housing inventory at the end of August decreased 2.6% to 1.86 million homes available for sale.
  • Unsold inventory is lower than the 4.3-month figure recorded in August 2018.
  • This represents a 1-month supply at the current sales pace.

According to Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at NAR,

“Sales are up, but inventory numbers remain low and are thereby pushing up
home prices.”

In real estate, there is a simple guideline that often applies here. Essentially, when there is less than a 6-month supply of inventory available, we are in a seller’s market and we will see greater appreciation. Between a 6 to 7-month supply is a neutral market, where prices will increase at the rate of inflation. More than a 7-month supply means we are in a buyer’s market and can expect depreciation in home values (see below):

As we mentioned before, there is currently a 4.1-month supply of homes on the market, and houses are going under contract fast. The Existing Home Sales Report also shows that 49% of properties were on the market for less than a month when they were sold. In August, properties sold nationally were typically on the market for 31 days. As Yun notes, this should continue,

“As expected, buyers are finding it hard to resist the current rates…The desire to take advantage of these promising conditions is leading more buyers to the market.”

Takeaway: Inventory of homes for sale is still well below the 6-month supply needed for a normal market, and supply will fail to catch up with demand if a sizable supply does not enter the market.

Bottom Line

If you are going to sell, contact us today! Now may be the time to take advantage of the ready, willing, and able buyers who are out there searching for your house to become their dream home.

Bad Home Habits to Break Right Now

Save yourself time, money, and headacheBad habits can be hard to break — especially if you don’t even realize what you’re doing is harmful! When it comes to caring for your home, it may not be because you’re lazy about chores; you just may not know the right way to care for your appliances, fixtures, and other parts of your home. The preventative tips below provide some guidance for properly caring for your home, so you can avoid the damage these bad habits can cause.

The Bad: Slamming doors.
Slamming doors — especially heavy doors — not only damages the hinges and handles, it can also pull the door out of alignment, which can lead to a damaged frame, which can lead to even greater structural damage … you get the picture.

The Good: Replace the hinges.
You’ve seen those soft-close kitchen drawers, but did you know you can get soft-close hinges for your doors? Bonus: You won’t have to yell at the kids to “Stop slamming those doors” anymore!

The Bad: Letting gutters stay cluttered.
Your gutters should be cleaned out at least twice a year, but many of us just never seem to get around to it. Unfortunately, that sets us up for water damage on the roof and even the foundation as water spills out and down along the sides of the house rather than being directed away from the foundation. (Not to mention, clogged gutters are an excellent breeding ground for mosquitoes. No, thanks!)

The Good: Clean them regularly or cover them.
For DIYers, be sure you use a ladder that does not need to lean against the soft metal gutters for support, which could cause more damage by bending or warping them. Not into heights? There are gutter cleaning companies that can also check for breakages and check over your roof at the same time, giving you a heads up on potential issues before they become real problems. (Almost) never want to think about it again? Check out gutter guards and screens. There are many varieties, including some that work better in cold-weather climes, so be sure to do your homework before choosing one. And remember they aren’t totally maintenance free!

PRO TIP: Never, ever walk on your roof to clean your gutters. Not only can you damage the roof, but you could void any warranties on it!

The Bad: Using one cleaning product for everything.
Granite counters, bamboo floors, and tile foyers need to be maintained with cleaners made especially for them. Using a one-size-fits-all formula can break down protective finishes, leave residues, and even create marks and stains.

The Good: Go natural or go specific.
All-natural cleaners are generally safe to use on multiple types of finishes. For example, vinegar is generally safe for wood and tile — but it’s not recommended for granite or marble. To really ensure you’re caring for your finishes properly and keep them looking their best for as long as possible, use cleaners specifically designed for the material you need to clean.

The Bad: Dumping everything down the drain.
Even though you have a garbage disposal, it’s not meant to chop up half a plate’s worth of spaghetti or the peels from a pound of potatoes. And you should never put anything down the toilet except toilet paper: not tissues, or paper towels, or cotton balls. Even “flushable” wipes really aren’t good for your pipes or the sewer system. And while there are plenty of de-cloggers on the market these days, many are extremely corrosive and can damage your pipes, especially older ones, leading to extremely costly plumbing repairs.

The Good: When in doubt, throw it out.
Prevention here is key. To help protect your drains and pipes, remember these rules:

Your garbage disposal is not an alternative trash can. It’s for little bits and pieces of biodegradable food products, and never for coffee grounds, pasta, stone fruit pits, potato peels, non-food items, or grease (we’re looking at you, bacon lovers).
Install screens on sink and bathtub drains to prevent hairs from going down the tubes.
Flush drains regularly with hot water. Yep, just plain hot water can help keep them open and clear.
Clean sink stoppers and the rubber flanges in your kitchen sink regularly and well to prevent odor-causing bacteria from settling in.
Toilet paper is the only product that should be going down the toilet.
The Bad: Letting filters get dirty and clogged.
We all know we should change our air filters every three months, and more often if we have pets. But knowing it and doing it are two different things! Plus, are you cleaning out the filter in your clothes dryer? Buildup there can actually cause a fire!

The Good: Regularly clean and replace them.
One great way to remember this is to replace them all at once. While you should be cleaning out the lint trap after almost every use of your clothes dryer, you can replace the HVAC filter, wash out the dishwasher filter, vacuum out the dryer exhaust hose and outlet, replace the water filter in your icemaker, scrub the filter in your range hood, and replace the filter in your vacuum cleaner all at once to make sure you don’t forget anything. That’s a good day’s work done!

 
 Just like with your own health, taking preventative steps to keep
your home in good working order can save you time, money, and
headache down the road.
 
 Have some bad home habits caused by problems around your
property? If you need financing for home renovations or repairs,
contact me to learn about your options.

Courtesy of Kim Erchinger Vice President, Regional Production Manager at Banner Bank 360-752-8254

5 Reasons to Sell This Fall

Below are 5 compelling reasons listing your home for sale this fall makes sense.

1. Demand Is Strong

The latest Buyer Traffic Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows that buyer demand remains strong throughout the vast majority of the country. These buyers are ready, willing, and able to purchase…and are in the market right now. More often than not, in many areas of the country, multiple buyers are competing with each other to buy the same home.

Take advantage of the buyer activity currently in the market.

2. There Is Less Competition Now

Housing inventory is still under the 6-month supply that is needed for a normal market. This means that in the majority of the country, there are not enough homes for sale to satisfy the number of buyers.

Historically, a homeowner would stay an average of six years in his or her home. Since 2011, that number has hovered between nine and ten years. There is a pent-up desire for many homeowners to move as they were unable to sell over the last few years due to a negative equity situation. As home values continue to appreciate, more and more homeowners will be given the freedom to move.

Many homeowners were reluctant to list their homes over the last couple years, for fear that they would not find a home to move to. That is all changing now as more homes come to market at the higher end. The choices buyers have will continue to increase. Don’t wait until additional inventory comes to market before you decide to sell.

3. The Process Will Be Quicker

Today’s competitive environment has forced buyers to do all they can to stand out from the crowd, including getting pre-approved for their mortgage financing. This makes the entire selling process much faster and simpler, as buyers know exactly what they can afford before shopping for a home. According to Ellie Mae’s latest Origination Insights Report, the time needed to close a loan is 43 days.

4. There Will Never Be a Better Time to Move Up

If your next move will be into a premium or luxury home, now is the time to move up. There is currently ample inventory for sale at higher price ranges. This means if you’re planning on selling a starter or trade-up home and moving into your dream home, you’ll be able to do that in the luxury or premium market.

According to CoreLogic, prices are projected to appreciate by 5.2% over the next year. If you’re moving to a higher-priced home, it will wind up costing you more in raw dollars (both in down payment and mortgage) if you wait.

5. It’s Time to Move on with Your Life

Look at the reason you decided to sell in the first place and determine whether it is worth waiting. Is money more important than being with family? Is money more important than having the freedom to go on with your life the way you think you should?

Only you know the answers to these questions. You have the power to take control of the situation by putting your home on the market. Perhaps the time has come for you and your family to move on and start living the life you desire.

That is what is truly important.

Top Priorities When Moving With Kids

According to the Pew Research Center, around 37% of U.S students will be going back to school soon and the rest have already started the new academic year. With school-aged children in your home, buying or selling a house can take on a whole different approach when it comes to finding the right size, location, school district, and more.

Recently, the 2019 Moving with Kids Report from the National Association of Realtors®(NAR) studied “the different purchasing habits as well as seller preferences during the home buying and selling process.” This is what they found:

When Purchasing a Home

The major difference between the homebuyers who have children and those who do not is the importance of the neighborhood. In fact, 53% said the quality of the school district is an important factor when purchasing a home, and 50% select neighborhoods by the convenience to the schools.

Buyers with children also purchase larger, detached single-family homes with 4 bedrooms and 2 full bathrooms at approximately 2,110 square feet.

Furthermore, 26% noted how childcare expenses delayed the home-buying process and forced additional compromises: 31% in the size of the home, 24% in the price, and 18% in the distance from work.

When Selling a Home

Of those polled, 23% of buyers with children sold their home “very urgently,” and 46% indicated “somewhat urgently, within a reasonable time frame.” Selling with urgency can pressure sellers to accept offers that are not in their favor. Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at NAR explains,

“When buying or selling a home, exercising patience is beneficial, but in some cases – such as facing an upcoming school year or the outgrowing of a home – sellers find themselves rushed and forced to accept a less than ideal offer.”

For sellers with children, 21% want a real estate professional to help them sell the home within a specific time frame, 20% at a competitive price, and 19% to market their home to potential buyers.

Bottom Line

Buying or selling a home can be driven by different priorities when you are also raising a family. If you’re a seller with children and looking to relocate, contact us today! We can help you navigate the process in the most reasonable time frame for you and your family.

Mortgage Interest are Near Historic Lows!

Interest rates are near historic lows!!! Even a small increase (or decrease) in interest rates can impact your monthly housing cost. If buying a home is on your short list of goals to achieve, reach out to Gordon or Shannon today to determine your best move.

A Latte a Day Keeps Homeownership Away

Some Highlights:

  • The pumpkin spice latte is launching soon, so you may be tempted to spend your extra cash on a daily caffeine fix, but that small expense can add up to a big number – fast!
  • Saving for a down payment takes a little discipline, so limiting your extra purchases (like a latte a day from your favorite coffee shop) will help you get there faster.
  • Depending on where you live, putting away just a small amount each day will get you to the average down payment you may need for homeownership faster than you think.

Millionaire to Millennials: The Costly Mistake of Not Buying Now

On his personal website, self-made millionaire David Bach makes a striking statement:

 “Not prioritizing homeownership is the single biggest mistake millennials are making.” 

He further stated, “Buying a home is an escalator to wealth.”

Bach explains:

“Young adults in particular aren’t hopping on this escalator, and it’s a costly mistake…If millennials don’t buy a home, their chances of actually having any wealth in this country are little to none.”

He then elaborates on the game of homeownership:

“Start by crunching the numbers…actually do the math…This way, you’re really clear on your goals and you won’t just say to yourself, ‘I’ll never afford this!’

A good rule of thumb is to make sure your total monthly housing payment doesn’t consume more than 30 percent of your take-home pay.”

Bach concludes by saying,

“Oftentimes, buying your first home means you’re not buying your dream home…You’re just getting into the market.”

Bottom Line

Whenever a well-respected millionaire gives investment advice, listeners usually clamor to hear it. This millionaire shares some simple and straightforward insights: “The fact is, you aren’t really in the game of building wealth until you own some real estate.”

Who is David Bach?

Bach is a self-made millionaire who has written nine consecutive New York Times bestsellers. His book, “The Automatic Millionaire,” spent 31 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. He is one of the only business authors in history to have four books simultaneously on the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, BusinessWeek, and USA Today bestseller lists.

He has been a contributor to NBC’s Today Show, appearing more than 100 times, as well as a regular on ABC, CBS, Fox, CNBC, CNN, Yahoo, The View, and PBS. He has also been profiled in many major publications, including the New York Times, BusinessWeek, USA Today, People, Reader’s Digest, Time, Financial Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Working Woman, Glamour, Family Circle, Redbook, Huffington Post, Business Insider, Investors’ Business Daily, and Forbes.

The Benefits of Growing Equity in Your Home

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Over the last couple of years, we’ve heard quite a bit about rising home prices. Today, expert projections still forecast continued growth, just at a slower pace. One of the often-overlooked benefits of rising home prices is the positive impact they have on home equity. Let’s break down three ways this is a win for homeowners.

1. Move-Up Opportunity

With the rise in prices, homeowners naturally experience an increase in home equity. According to the Homeowner Equity Insights from CoreLogic,

“In the first quarter of 2019, the average homeowner gained approximately $6,400 in equity during the past year.”

This increase in profit means if homeowners decide to sell, they’ll be able to put their equity to work for them as they make plans to move up into their next home.

2. Gain in Seller’s Profit

ATTOM Data Solutions recently released their Q2 2019 Home Sales Report, indicating the seller’s profit jumped at one of the fastest rates since 2015. They said:

“A look at the national numbers showed that U.S. homeowners who sold in the second quarter of 2019 realized an average home price gain since the original purchase of $67,500…the average home seller gain of $67,500 in Q2 2019 represented an average 33.9 percent return as a percentage of the original purchase price.”

Looking at the amount paid when they bought their homes, and then the amount they received after selling, we can see that some homeowners were able to walk away with a significant gain.

3. Out of a Negative Equity Situation

Negative equity occurs when there is a decline in home value, an increase in mortgage debt, or both. Many families experienced these challenges over the last decade. According to the same report from CoreLogic,

“U.S. homeowners with mortgages (roughly 63% of all properties) have seen their equity increase by a total of nearly $485.7 billion since the first quarter 2018, an increase of 5.6%, year over year.

In the first quarter of 2019, the total number of mortgaged residential properties with negative equity decreased…to 2.2 million homes, or 4.1% of all mortgaged properties.”

The good news is, many families have moved beyond a negative equity situation, and no longer owe more on their mortgage than the value of their home.

Bottom Line

If you’re a current homeowner, you may have more equity than you realize. Your equity can open the door to future opportunities, such as moving up to your dream home. Click here to Contact us today! We would love to discuss your options and start to put your equity to work for you.

 

American Confidence in Housing at an All-Time High

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Fannie Mae just released the July edition of their Home Purchase Sentiment Index (HPSI). The HPSI takes information regarding consumers’ confidence in the real estate market from Fannie Mae’s National Housing Survey and condenses it into a single number. Therefore, the HPSI reflects consumers’ current views and forward-looking expectations of housing market conditions.

Great News! The index reached its highest level since Fannie Mae began their survey. Breaking it down, the report revealed:

  • The share of Americans who say it is a good time to buy a home increased from the same time last year.
  • The share of those who say it is a good time to sell a home increased from the same time last year.
  • The share of Americans who say they are not concerned about losing their job over the next 12 months increased dramatically (16 percentage points) from the same time last year.
  • The share of Americans who say mortgage rates will go down over the next 12 months increased dramatically (24 percentage points) from the same time last year.

The day after the index was released, Freddie Mac also announced the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rate fell to its lowest level in three years.

Doug Duncan, Senior Vice President and Chief Economist at Fannie Mae explained the uptick in the index:

“Consumer job confidence and favorable mortgage rate expectations lifted the HPSI to a new survey high in July, despite ongoing housing supply and affordability challenges. Consumers appear to have shaken off a winter slump in sentiment amid strong income gains. Therefore, sentiment is positioned to take advantage of any supply that comes to market, particularly in the affordable category.”

Bottom Line

Consumers are feeling good about the real estate market. Since Americans are not worried about their jobs, see mortgage rates near an all-time low, and believe it is a good time to buy, the housing market will remain strong for the rest of the year.