There are some industry pundits claiming that residential home values have risen too quickly and that current levels are on the verge of another housing bubble. It is easy to see how this thinking has taken form if we look at a graph of home prices from 2000 to today.
The graph definitely looks like a rollercoaster ride. And, as prices begin to reach 2006 levels again, it “seems logical” that the next part of the ride would be downhill. However, this graph includes the anomaly of the price bubble and the correction (the housing crash).
What if the bubble & bust didn’t occur?
Let’s assume that instead of the rise and fall in home prices that we saw last decade, we just had normal historic appreciation from 2000 to today. According to the 100+ experts that are surveyed for the Home Price Expectation Survey, normal annual appreciation for residential single family homes from 1987 to 1999 was 3.6%.
Starting with the median home price in 2000, we added 3.6% to it each year since then. Here is that graph intermixed with the above graph.
What this shows us is that, had the bubble and crash not occurred and instead we just had normal annual appreciation over this period, prices would actually be greater than they are today.
There is no reason for alarm as prices seem to be right in line with where they should be.
If your target audience is young buyers, you should probably build a deck. According to a study from Trulia, it’s one of many features that help sell homes
From kitchen updates to backyard decks, these are the features to consider if you’re hoping to sell to a first-time homebuyer.
If you own a midsized home (especially in a hot suburban real estate market like Cary, NC, or Chesapeake, VA), you may be selling to a younger demographic. Millennials have begun entering the home-buying market and, according to a Trulia survey, are specifically interested in homes between 2,000 and 2,600 square feet. If your house already includes these five features, you’re in luck: Your house has the amenities this group will be looking for by 2018, when 72% of people between the ages of 18 and 34 plan to buy a home. Read on to learn which features will help you sell your home fast, and how you can renovate your home now to be ready to sell in a few short years.
1. Backyard deck
Few things disappoint a millennial more than discovering their otherwise-perfect dream home has no back deck. If you don’t have one, or if you have a tiny afterthought-type deck, consider building one for the 59% of millennial homebuyers who, according to Trulia’s survey, adore this feature.
Besides pressure-treated pine, there are composite deck materials, which many homebuyers prefer. Composite materials require less maintenance and can be just as beautiful as wood — or even more so. But they often cost more to build with. Split-level decks and built-ins are also great features to consider when designing a back-deck addition.
2. Gourmet kitchen
Remodeling your kitchen can be a great way to see a sizable ROI and will keep your home attractive to buyers in a competitive market — 53% of young buyers surveyed are interested in gourmet kitchens. But do you know what constitutes a gourmet versus a functional kitchen? Here’s your formula for a millennial’s dream kitchen: state-of-the-art appliances, impressive surfaces, and storage galore.
Gourmet cooks and gas ranges go together like love and marriage. Double ovens (one being convection), warming ovens (much better to keep foods warm than zapping in the microwave), and a microwave drawer are other impressive features to include in a kitchen overhaul. And if you don’t have room for a separate fridge and freezer, choose a fridge with a freezer drawer on the bottom.
Stainless steel or stone countertops are good options, especially when paired with a subway tile backsplash. If those just aren’t in the budget, choose a laminate that mimics the look. “Millennials have grown up on HGTV and want the look of a granite countertop, even if the seller has used less expensive materials to achieve that look,” says Melissa Rubenstein, a New Jersey real estate agent. And you know cooks will open all the cabinets and drawers to see what’s what. Impress potential buyers with a big pantry, impressive use of space — such as a sliding spice rack — and lots of cabinet room.
Can’t afford to go totally gourmet? “Definitely spend the money on a cosmetic update,” says Ann Wilkins, a San Francisco, CA, real estate agent. “New counters, subway tile backsplash, and freshly painted (white) cabinets go a long way in updating a kitchen for minimal money.”
3. Open floor plan
If you have an open floor plan, you’ll attract 45% of millennials, who use the space for socializing while cooking, keeping an eye on the kids, and having a more impressive entertaining space. Plus, the open floor plan lets in more light, which makes your house show better. If your house still has a staged living and dining room, be honest: How many times a year do you use these rooms? Only on holidays, right? Remove those walls and create an open floor plan. (Of course, you might need to leave up a partial wall or install some posts to hold up the house!)
4. Balcony with a view
If you’ve got a balcony with a view, you’re golden — 60% of millennials put this at the top of their lists in Trulia’s survey. While you can’t create a view from scratch, you can make your balcony more inviting. Add some flower boxes on the top railing for enhanced privacy. Create a welcoming seating area with bench seating along the walls or add outdoor tables and chairs to show potential buyers how they can enjoy dining alfresco.
Besides posting pictures on social media of their homegrown produce, large numbers of millennials are truly interested in getting back to nature and living a simple, healthy lifestyle. Buying organic can be pricey, so being able to grow produce is hugely attractive to 40% of millennials surveyed. Start a garden yourself, or at least point out the perfect spot in your yard for growing vegetables.
Wall decor is one of the easiest ways to turn a ho-hum space into a statement-making room. A personality-packed wall is a fun way to embrace your own style without needing to invest in the latest trendy furniture. While the gallery wall, which features a curated collection of photos and artwork, is a major trend, we’d like to take a look at a few different ideas that are a bit more out of the ordinary. From groovy wallpaper and floating books to tapestries and vintage signs, here are a handful of ways to create a unique wall that screams “you.”
Paint and Wallpaper
Make a graphic statement with wallpaper or painted designs. The choices are endless when it comes to wallpaper – pair a neutral pattern with framed pictures, or try a bold design that stands on its own. Walls that have architectural detailing, like an inset or wainscoting, are perfect candidates for a dramatic accent wall. Explore a more cost-effective route with a painted design. Elbow grease, painters tape and a bold paint choice are all you need to create a unique design like metallic stripes, chevrons or a modern marble-dipped look.
As if there wasn’t another reason to love books, they’re also great as decorative accents. Books can easily be mounted in an open position for a unique look—try using vintage finds with a well-loved patina. Invisible wall-mounted bookshelves or floating shelves paired with color-coordinated books can also make a functional and eye-catching feature. Pro tip: try wrapping thrift store books of the same size in pretty wallpaper for a more cohesive design.
Fabric and Tapestries
While every other aspect of design touches on fabric, very rarely does it come up as a go-to for wall decor. However, textiles are unexpected and full of stories, and they have the wonderful ability to combine pattern and color into a complete presentation. The beauty of textiles is that they can be hung in a variety of ways, and they don’t have to come in large scales to be a jaw-dropping piece— a small collection of antique textile fragments is perfect when hung up in delicate flea market frames. Or, stretch fabric over a frame for a handmade canvas. Take a hint from different cultures or showcase your travels: embroidered Suzanis from Central Asia, richly dyed textiles from India, Native American rugs and Turkish kilims can all add depth to a wall that will last for generations. Flat sheets of fabrics aren’t the only option, either. Showcase family heirlooms or beloved uniforms in shadow boxes or frames, and don’t forget the beauty of a sentimental quilt hung in the family or dining room.
Give a contemporary room some vintage flair with some metal wall art and signage. Mid-century metal wall sculptures like starbursts and geometric shapes add a retro touch. Vintage wall metal wall signs are frequent flea market finds. A collection of small signs adds eclectic flair, while large metal art can instantly transform the feel of a room and create a new focal point.
Art and Mirrors
Creating an impact in a space doesn’t need to be complicated! Large-scale art provides drama and weight to a simple wall. Pair a sizable print with eye-catching typography over a chic couch for a sleek yet subtle look. An oversized clock can also work wonders for a wall: not only is it a functional piece of art, but there is something about a large, old clock that adds the perfect amount of nostalgia to a room. Looking to add glam to a smaller space? A round, modern mirror or glitzy framed one adds a sense of openness.
A lack of space for planters is no excuse for not bringing the outdoors in. With the “living wall” craze at its peak, wall planters are available in all shapes, colors and sizes. Showcase delicate moss with a vertical green garden, or plant a few succulents in a wooden corner planter. Play up a cluster of hanging plants with painted pots or delicate ceramic bowls— there are many lovely options available from talented designers and local artisans.
Think Outside the Frame
Keep an open mind, and you can find unique wall hangings just about anywhere! From an antique door or a mounted bike to stunning metal floor grates, the list is endless with possibilities. Who ever knew that a group of assorted woven baskets could be turned into a show stopping piece? Try clustering baskets in varying sizes and colors on the floor and play around with placement before hanging them. Can’t find colorful baskets? A collection of pretty plates or lightweight bowls are great alternatives.
How will you let your space reflect your personality?
How HGTV’s Christina and Tarek El Moussa go from finding a diamond in the rough to rehab to sale.
When we look for a flip house for our real estate investing business, Tarek and Ibasically go through the same thought process that anyone goes through when they buy an investment property.
Even though we’re working on a shorter timeline than most homeowners, the journey is essentially the same.
Understanding our thoughts as we go through each step of the process might give you a clearer road map for your own fixer-upper journey, or it might inspire you to test the waters of real estate investing yourself.
Finding a great deal on a property
If you’re looking for a really great deal on a fixer-upper house, you’re going to be searching for a diamond in the rough, and that’s exactly what we do.
We drive around the neighborhoods where we’re most likely to find great flip houses. We search through the MLS. We take a look at listing sites like Zillow.
We basically search high and low, and as we find potential deals, we start doing research on them, just like you would with your home purchase.
There’s something really special about finding a truly great house-flipping opportunity, and it always gets me a bit excited and a touch nervous at the same time.
I don’t want to fall in love with a house before the seller accepts the offer. Yet, at the same time, I can’t help but think about how we’ll be helping someone get out from under a financial burden, and then benefiting the whole neighborhood with quality rehab work.
The rush when a seller accepts your offer
After we find a house that has the potential to be a really fabulous flip property, we make the offer and hold our breath.
When the seller accepts the offer, I get a real rush! I immediately start thinking about when we can get inside, look at what the house needs, and get to work.
Before long, I have visions of beautiful design work floating through my head. In some ways, this is my favorite part of flipping a house, because it seems like the sky is the limit.
I think of everything I’d want to do to it if I had the money, but then — just like if I were buying a fixer-upper to move into — I have to bring myself back down to earth and remember our budget.
And that leads to one of the scariest parts of house flipping or buying a fixer-upper.
The fear when your contractor tells you …
Whether it’s a whole new roof, new electrical wiring, new plumbing, or any other major project, when one of our contractors tells me that they need to do a really expensive job that we didn’t budget for when we bought the house, I get a little bit scared.
Before I know it, numbers are running through my head, and I have to take a step back and think about how much of the budget is going to be taken up by this surprise.
Then, as I get things in perspective, I look for places where we can save money and places where we can still splurge some to get the best results possible.
Sometimes you have to go a little bit over budget to get the job done, but as long as you don’t eat up your entire margin, you’ll be fine.
For Tarek and me, this is a matter of how much money we can make on a house flip. For a home buyer, it’s a matter of how long renovations are going to take, when you can move in, and what needs to wait.
In either case, we’re looking at some financial challenges, but they shouldn’t be impossible to work around.
Deciding where to spend and where to save
Some of our house flips are in neighborhoods where you absolutely need real hardwood floors and marble countertops. In other areas, we can get away with high-quality laminate floors and quartz or another less expensive countertop material.
Whatever the case, I never use materials or appliances that I wouldn’t be happy with in my own home.
That doesn’t mean that I splurge on every little thing, though. I look at the places where a less expensive option will still create a beautiful finished product, and I go with those.
I also prioritize some rooms over others. For example, as you start your renovations, are you going to want to redo the kitchen and master bath first, or will the guest bedroom and living room take precedence?
Kitchens and bathrooms are the easiest places to make upgrades and create luxurious settings for home buyers. That’s why I recommend doing these spaces first for your fixer-upper, just like we prioritize them for our flip houses.
Watching it all come together
After we’ve figured out the budget and worked out what needs to be done with our contractor, it’s time to watch it all come together. In a surprisingly short time, we get to watch a distressed property transform into a beautiful, totally livable home.
It might take a little bit longer for you to do all of the work on your own home, but the process is the same, and it’s really satisfying to watch your plans become reality.
Selling a house to excited buyers
We sell our houses right after we rehab them and you might live in yours for years, but, again, the outcome is the same.
After we put a lot of hard work and energy into a flip house, we get to sell it to an individual, couple, or family, and they’re always really excited to move in.
We get to see their dreams come true as they buy their first house or their next house. When you sell your fixer-upper, it’ll be your buyer’s dream house, too.
When you look at it this way, house flippers and fixer-upper homeowners can learn a lot from each other!
Fannie Mae’s survey revealed that consumers overestimate the down payment funds needed to qualify for a home loan. According to the report, 76% of Americans either don’t know (40%) or are misinformed (36%) about the minimum down payment required.
Many believe that they need at least 20% down to buy their dream home. New programs actually let buyers put down as little as 3%.
Below are the results of a Digital Risk survey of Millennials who recently purchased a home.
As you can see, 64.2% were able to purchase their home by putting down less than 20%, with 43.8% putting down less than 10%!
Myth #2: “I need a 780 FICO Score or Higher to Buy”
The survey revealed that 59% of Americans either don’t know (54%) or are misinformed (5%) about what FICO score is necessary to qualify.
Many Americans believe a ‘good’ credit score is 780 or higher.
To help debunk this myth, let’s take a look at the latest Ellie Mae Origination Insight Report, which focuses on recently closed (approved) loans. As you can see below, 54.1% of approved mortgages had a credit score of 600-749.
Whether buying your first home or moving up to your dream home, knowing your options will definitely make the mortgage process easier. Your dream home may already be within your reach.
The real estate game is all about taking risks and trying not to run into trouble.
Playing old board games with friends is a fun way to spend a Saturday night. The drinks are flowing, the snacks are as plentiful as the laughs, and the spirit of competition keeps everyone a little livelier than usual.
During one wildly successful board game night, we had an epiphany — some of the skills we use when playing could be applied to a search for a home for sale in Houston, TX, or Washington, DC. Get out your egg timers and your velvet satchels full of wooden letter tiles, because we’re about to lay some gaming knowledge on you.
1. Have a strategy (and allies)
The real world isn’t always candy-themed. Unless you’re playing a game where you rely on the luck of the dice to move you along, you’re going to need a strategy. Are you coming in hot and trying to build an early lead? Or are you lying a little low, waiting to see how the game unfolds, and then striking at precisely the right moment? The exact same thing applies to house hunting.
Bold and aggressive? Buy low on a fixer-upper and make something amazing out of it. More conservative? Prepare for the long haul to find the right match that you’re willing to pay a premium on. Get your strategy straight with the help of an ally in the form of a real estate agent — a third party who’s not directly playing the game but is there when you need guidance. Check those boxes, and you’re on the way to winning this thing.
2. Sometimes you need a little luck
Sometimes in the real estate world, you can do everything right but still find yourself on the house hunt six months later. The truth is, finding a home often requires luck. And there’s not much you can do to encourage the luck factor except hope to get lucky. In board games, it’s a dice roll or the spin of a plastic wheel. In house hunting, it might be that the offer ahead of yours falls through or you just happen to get your offer in five minutes before someone else. One of the tenets of Stoic philosophy is to try to control only what you can control, and it’s a perfect match for house hunting. Do your best but don’t stress about what’s out of your control. It won’t help you and it will only make you anxious.
3. Don’t make emotional decisions
We’ve all been there. You don’t have the cards, the dice have been coming up snake eyes, and your pink plastic dude is so many spaces behind. This is not the time to dwell on those feelings. Swallow the despair and double down on the comeback run that you have in you.
House hunting is no different. You’re going to lose a house that you put an offer on. Maybe several of them. And sometimes, you’ll lose a bidding war on a home you’d already started dreaming about moving into. Don’t get frustrated and settle for something you don’t want or a place with serious red flags. This is going to be one of the largest purchases you ever make in your life. Breathe deep and make these decisions with your head on straight and your eyes wide open.
4. Be in it to win it
In a board game, it’s easy to get caught up in the superdope-looking board or choosing between the silver top hat or the silver Scottie dog. Those are just distractions. You’re a coldhearted winner; you’re not here to make friends (although, ironically, you’re probably playing those old board games with your friends). You’re in this thing for one reason and one reason only: to crush the competition. Don’t forget that when house hunting either. It’s fun to look at places and check out the market, but don’t get caught up in seeing every Southwestern ranch-style home in the city when what you really need is your home.
Go forth and use these lessons like trump cards on your way to your dream house. Just don’t forget to consider a board game closet.
There’s only one way to be totally prepared for all the costs of buying a home.
You’re excited because you just found the perfect home. The neighborhood is great, the house is charming, and the price is right.
But if you’re a first-time home buyer, you might find out that the price is pretty far from perfect.
If you’re shopping for your first home, additional — and often unexpected — home-buying costs should be top of mind. These costs catch many home buyers unaware, and can quickly leave you underwater on your new home.
The best way to deal with this is by preparing yourself and making sure you have enough cash tucked away for a rainy day.
Costs coming out of the woodwork
For almost every person who buys a home, the spending doesn’t stop with the down payment. Homeowners insurance and closing costs, like appraisal and lender fees, are typically easy to plan for because they are lumped into the home-buying process, but most costs beyond those vary.
The previous owners of your home are the biggest factor that goes into your move-in costs. If they take their refrigerator when they move out, you’ll have to buy one to replace it. The same goes for any large appliance.
And while these may seem like a small purchase compared to buying a home, a few thousand-dollar appliances quickly add up — especially if you just spent most of your cash on a down payment.
Similarly, unless you negotiate it as part of your home purchase agreement, you’ll also be on the hook for any immediate improvements the home needs.
Unfortunately, these costs are the least hidden you may encounter.
When purchasing a home, it’s strongly recommended that you hire a home inspector(this costs money, too!) to ensure the home isn’t going to collapse the next time it rains. Inspectors look for bad electrical wiring, weak foundations, wood rot, and countless other problems.
Worse still, these problems are rarely covered by home insurance. If an inspector discovers a serious problem, you’ll then have to decide if you still want to purchase the home. Either way, you’ll be out the cost of hiring the inspector.
Another cost is your own comfort. It’s easy to not think fully about what you are expecting from your new home until after you move in.
Are you used to having cable television? If so, is your new home wired for cable? It’s much harder to watch a technician crawling around punching holes in your walls when you own those walls.
Because you’re likely moving from the world of renting to the world of homeownership, you’ll probably be faced with much higher utility bills. Further, you could find yourself paying for utilities once covered by a landlord, like water and garbage pickup.
The only way to face the unexpected and unknowns of home buying is with research and planning. This starts with budgeting before house hunting, and should continue throughout your search.
Nothing is worse than buying a home thinking you can fix the yard for a few hundred dollars and then realizing it will cost thousands.
There is really no upper limit to how prepared you can be. Say you find a nice home that’s priced lower than others in the area because of its age. You may save money on the list price, but with an older house you could be slapped with a much higher home insurance payment, effectively making the house more expensive in the long run.
This is where preparation comes in. Research home insurance and property prices in the areas you’re house-hunting to make more educated decisions before you ever make that first offer.
Clearly define how much you intend to put toward your down payment, then look at how much cash that leaves you with for improvements and even minor costs, like changing the locks. That way when you find a house at the high end of your range, you’ll know to walk away if it requires you to buy a new washer and dryer or upgrade the HVAC system.
Establish a rough estimate for as many costs as you can think of, and be extremely critical of homes at the top of your budget, or you could easily end up being house poor.
Know your budget and plan ahead. Buying a home is a lot less scary when you know what you’re getting into.
From the moment you walked in, the house was calling to you. That chef’s kitchen! The ballroom-size playroom! Wait a second, is that a fireplace in the master? Done and done. This is your perfect home…
That is, until you recheck the price and discover it’s just a bit out of your price range. Cruel, cruel world!
There are precious few things in life more exciting than finding your true dream home—and not many things more soul-crushing than realizing you can’t afford it. Or, can you? If you’re determined to stretch your budget the way certain presidential candidates stretch the concept of “sarcasm,” there are ways to pull off this monetary magic without becoming completely house poor.
We’ll show you how to make your budget mesh with your fantasy. For real.
Budget saver No. 1: Negotiate the price
“Everything is always negotiable,” says Chantay Bridges with TruLine Realty in Los Angeles. “You’d be surprised at what sellers, agents, and buyers alike will compromise on.”
You might not get what you want, but you never know—the seller may be extremely motivated because of a move, work relocation, or divorce, for example.
“They may just be looking for a fair offer and would be willing to sell to you for a little less if they can close faster as a result.”
You’d be amazed by how many people make no effort to parley on price. Smart haggling can get you far! Do it.
Budget saver No. 2: Work the programs
There are a wide variety of programs, particularly down payment assistance programs, that help people achieve their dream of homeownership. And contrary to popular belief, you don’t necessarily have to be low-income to quality.
“You may discover a first-time home buyers program that can make your home of choice more affordable by providing assistance with the closing costs or the down payment,” says Bridges. Check with your lender on programs available in your county, since they change frequently. (You can also review some of the state-by-state options.)
What’s that you say? The home is a dream in terms of neighborhood and square footage, but a nightmare on the inside?
If you’re considering a fixer-upper, you can look into financing it with a renovation loan, suggests Sarah Valentini, president and co-founder of Radius Financial Group. “This will enable a home buyer to make desired improvements and have them financed into the mortgage.”
Budget saver No. 3: Massage that mortgage
“The biggest mistake I see a majority of people make is blindly asking for a 30-year fixed mortgage,” Valentini says. Many home buyers, especially millennials, would be better off if they considered other options such as a five-, seven-, or 10-year adjustable-rate mortgage, she says.
“We live in a much more transient society than we did 20 years ago, and people all too often pay for the ‘security’ of a 30-year fixed loan when, in fact, they will likely be selling or refinancing in less than 10 years,” she adds. Looking into a different loan type can translate into lower payments upfront.
Home buyers can also look into creative options for their private mortgage insurance (e.g., having it paid by the lender or seller), which can help you achieve a lower monthly payment.
Budget saver No. 4: Check for ways this home itself could save you money
Sometimes that more expensive house payment will allow you to save in other areas. For example, maybe it makes your commute shorter and less expensive, or it’s in a better school district so you no longer have to foot expensive private school tuition, says Realtor® Jose Tijam with Grand Avenue Realty & Lending in Anaheim, CA.
Another possibility: The energy efficiency of a newer home can reduce your utility bills and might make up some of the cost difference of an older home.
“Sometimes a higher-priced home can actually cost the same as a lower-priced one when you do the math on other factors,” Valentini says.
Budget saver No. 5: Put the decision into perspective
On the one hand, you don’t want to be dumb. “If a home is truly out of my clients’ budget, I would emphatically advise them to continue looking,” Valentini says. However, she adds that while it is never advisable to buy more than you can afford, it is important to consider all factors before passing on a dream home.
“Buying a home is not something to take lightly,” she says. “You will likely live there for quite some time, so it is important not to just settle,” especially if there are ways to get creative and make it work.
Tijam notes that if your dream house is, say, $25,000 over your ideal budget, it may seem like a huge chunk of money. However, the sting is lessened when you imagine that amount spread over the life of the mortgage.
“When you do that math on a 30-year mortgage, it ends up being only roughly a $70 monthly increase, and often my clients find they can make adjustments to accommodate the difference.”
While he respects the initial budget that his clients have set, he says, he can relate to his clients who have fallen in love with their dream home but find it unaffordable.
“My family and I found a home we adored, but it was slightly over our budget,” he recalls. “We hesitated—and once we figured out that we could probably make it work, another buyer had made an offer. It’s something we still think about from time to time, and I share this experience with the people I help.”