The National Association of Realtors (NAR) released the results of their latest Existing Home Sales Reportwhich revealed that sales rose 0.7% month-over-month, but remain 1.5% lower than they were a year ago. Some may look at these numbers and think that now is not a good time to sell their house, but in fact, the opposite is true.
The national slowdown in sales is directly tied to a lack of inventory available for the buyers who are out in the market looking for their dream homes! The inventory of homes for sale has fallen year-over-year for the last 28 months and has had an upward impact on home prices.
NAR’s Chief Economist Lawrence Yun had this to say,
“Home sales in recent months remain at their lowest level of the year and are unable to break through, despite considerable buyer interest in most parts of the country.
Realtors® this fall continue to say the primary impediments stifling sales growth are the same as they have been all year: not enough listings – especially at the lower end of the market – and fast-rising prices that are straining the budgets of prospective buyers.” (emphasis added)
The houses that are on the market are selling fast, too! According to NAR’s Realtors Confidence Index, the median number of days it took for a house to go from listed to under contract over the past three months was 34.
If you are one of the many homeowners who is debating listing your house for sale this year, the time is now! Let’s get together to discuss the specifics of our market!
If you’ve seen some “for sale” signs in your neighborhood slapped with “sold” banners, you may wonder just how much money your own house is worth. Perhaps you’ve been considering selling, or could be convinced to sell if the price was right. But how do you know at which price they were sold?
For starters, you can go to realtor.com®, select the “Just Sold” tab and plug in your ZIP code. A list of homes that recently sold will pop up, along with the prices for which they sold. That’s a start, but it doesn’t give you the big picture you need to know exactly what your home might be worth. That’s where your real estate agent comes in.
“Agents can discuss pricing of other sales or pending sales in our area with other agents to help you estimate home values,” says Michele Lerner, author of “Homebuying: Tough Times, First Time, Any Time.” “A [real estate agent] can also provide you with a free comparable market analysis to help you decide if you want to sell your home. And while it’s a great idea to find out about recent home sales in your community, you also should recognize your home may not sell for a similar price.”
Lerner says there are a variety of factors that may make your home sell for a significantly different price than those surrounding it. For example, your home could be in better or worse condition than other homes recently sold, or there may be other factors that influence desirability, such as lot location or even the direction rooms in the house face.
In general, the real estate market changes rapidly, and timing is a large factor in a sale price. Many of the factors of the larger market are out of your hands—mortgage rates, the local economy, the national economy, consumer confidence and the availability of homes for sale all influence a final price.
Rick Snow, a Realtor® with Exit West Realty in El Paso, TX, says when determining comp prices, you have to compare apples to apples.
“I try to find properties within 150 square feet either side of the subject property with similar features,” Snow says. “The number of bedrooms doesn’t really matter because they are all figured into the square footage, but baths, 1/2, 3/4 or full give more value. For example a three-bedroom, two-bath home that is 1,800 square feet would come out the same as a four-bedroom, two-bath home that’s 1,800 square feet, but a three-bedroom, 2 1/2 bath would be worth more.”
Will home improvements help?
If you look through the listings and feel like your house isn’t up to snuff, you may think about remodeling. Before you do, though, you should determine if the cost of remodeling will be worth the amount a renovation will add to your property. For example, if you remodel your bathroom, it will cost you anywhere from $10,000 to $30,000, and you’ll gain back an average of 66% of the money you spent. Beyond that, however, will the shiny new bathroom be the tipping point for a buyer to select your home over another? You can’t know for sure.
Snow says home improvements can be challenging.
“Homeowners often believe they can recapture money that is spent on improvements dollar for dollar, and that just isn’t the case. Many improvements add marketability but not additional value. Even projects that add value typically don’t bring back a dollar-for-dollar return on investment. The other ‘drawback’ to improvements is personal taste. The things you like and are willing to spend money on to make your home more pleasing to you, I might not like. Then when I am looking at the house, in my mind I’m thinking how much it will cost me to get rid of this or that. Many buyers then base their offer on value minus what it’s going to cost me to make it the way I want it.”
If you are going to make some improvements with the hopes of increasing your home’s value, just be careful not to do too much remodeling.
“Be sure to consider the potential negative consequences of ‘over-improving’ your home for the neighborhood,” Lerner says. “It could be harder to sell your home in the future if it’s much larger or more expensive than the surrounding homes.”
Bottom line: The price houses are going for in your neighborhood definitely provide some insight into how much you might be able to get for yours. Just remember, that there are a lot of factors that go into how much people will pay for a house, and digging deeper will help you get the best picture of what yours may be worth.
Can’t knock down walls? No problem! Work a little design magic to make even the tiniest bathroom feel spacious.
Small bathroom spaces aren’t found just in apartments and condos — they’re in our guest bathrooms and powder rooms, too. Since no one likes feeling crowded, here are a few tips for making any small bathroom seem bigger — no wall demolition required.
Brighten the room
Bring in as much light as possible. Light, bright rooms always feel more spacious than dark and drab ones.
Wall color. Paint the walls and ceiling the same light color to make the bathroom feel double its size. Anytime an area of the room is a different color, it chops the room into different compartments, making it seem smaller.
Windows. If you have a window, use sheer window coverings to maximize the natural light.
Lighting. Install additional flush-mount wall or ceiling light fixtures to increase the light in the room.
Install larger — and more — mirrors than you typically would in a bathroom. The reflected light will open your small space into one that feels more spacious.
Install a sliding door
Swinging doors can take up almost half the room, depending on how small the space is. A sliding barn door or a wall-pocket door won’t encroach on your bathroom’s already limited real estate.
Think pedestal sink
The added bulk of a full vanity takes up valuable space, so try a pedestal sink instead. You may not have a place for soaps or towels on the vanity, but there are plenty of wall-mounted solutions perfect for bathroom accessories.
Keep all storage as flush with the walls as possible, because anything that sticks out will chop up the space and close it in. Install recessed shelving and medicine cabinets instead.
Choose light-colored flooring
Even if your walls and ceiling are light and bright, a dark floor will negate their effect and close the space in. Keep the flooring light to create a space with a bright and open flow.
Nothing crowds a space faster than clutter. A good rule of thumb: If you don’t need it there, store it elsewhere. Pare what you keep in the bathroom down to the bare necessities.
Hide the bathmat
Having a bathmat on the floor all the time can make your bathroom feel smaller. Put your bathmats away when you’re not using them to expose the flooring and make the space appear larger.
Raise the shower curtain bar
Raising your shower curtain bar all the way to the ceiling draws your eyes up and makes the ceiling seem taller, creating the illusion of a larger space.
The same goes for any window treatments. Raising sheer curtain panels to the ceiling also creates the illusion of a larger window, making the small bathroom seem larger.
Go frameless, clear, and cohesive in the shower
Clear glass shower doors make the room appear larger, while frosted glass breaks up the space and makes it seem smaller than it already is. The same goes for a frame around the glass. A frame can make the area seem choppy rather than smooth and open.
Additionally, install the same shower tile from floor to ceiling. The seamless look from top to bottom adds cohesion and openness.
Just a few changes to your small bathroom can make dramatic differences in how open it feels. Once you’ve tried these tips and tricks in the bathroom, apply them throughout your home! It’s all about creating the illusion of space.
Whether you are buying or selling a home, it can be quite an adventurous journey. This is why you need an experienced real estate professional to guide you on the path to your ultimate goal. In this world of instant gratification and internet searches, many sellers think that they can For Sale by Owner or FSBO.
The 5 reasons you NEED a real estate professional in your corner haven’t changed, but have rather been strengthened by the projections of higher mortgage interest rates & home prices as the market continues to pick up steam.
1. What do you do with all this paperwork?
Each state has different regulations regarding the contracts required for a successful sale, and these regulations are constantly changing. A true real estate professional is an expert in his or her market and can guide you through the stacks of paperwork necessary to make your dream a reality.
2. Ok, so you found your dream house, now what?
There are over 180 possible steps that need to take place during every successful real estate transaction. Don’t you want someone who has been there before, someone who knows what these actions are, to make sure that you achieve your dream?
3. Are you a good negotiator?
So maybe you’re not convinced that you need an agent to sell your home. After looking at the list of parties that you will need to be prepared to negotiate with, you’ll soon realize the value in selecting a real estate professional. From the buyer (who wants the best deal possible), to the home inspection companies, to the appraiser, there are at least 11 different people who you will need to be knowledgeable of, and answer to, during the process.
4. What is the home you’re buying/selling really worth?
It is important for your home to be priced correctly from the start to attract the right buyers and shorten the amount of time that it’s on the market. You need someone who is not emotionally connected to your home to give you the truth as to your home’s value. According to a study by Collateral Analytics, FSBOs achieve prices significantly lower than those from similar properties sold by real estate agents:
“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.”
Get the most out of your transaction by hiring a professional.
5. Do you know what’s really going on in the market?
There is so much information out there on the news and on the internet about home sales, prices, and mortgage rates; how do you know what’s going on specifically in your area? Who do you turn to in order to competitively and correctly price your home at the beginning of the selling process? 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 an agent who has his or her finger on the pulse of the market will make your buying or selling experience an educated one. You need someone who is going to tell you the truth, not just what they think you want to hear.
You wouldn’t replace the engine in your car without a trusted mechanic. Why would you make one of the most important financial decisions of your life without hiring a real estate professional?
Congratulations on your new home! The process can be exciting – but also very stressful. And that’s just the process of buying a home. After the closing, you will probably find you have even more tasks to deal with.
Here’s a short homeowner move-in checklist of things you should make sure you do to smooth over the process. You’ll be surprised at how much easier this makes the moving process.
Start By Taking Time Off From Work
The first week or two in your new place will likely be a mess of repairs, phone calls, unpacking, and of course waiting. Waiting for contractors, internet and phone and cable installers, and deliveries.
Trying to work this in alongside your job is not a good idea. Remember, you just bought yourself a house. This is a big deal! And not something you will do often. Give yourself a break and take some personal or vacation days.
Do As Many Repairs And Improvements As Possible Prior To Moving In
It doesn’t matter whether you’re hiring a pro or doing it yourself. It’s much easier to work on a house when it’s empty. This is particularly true for projects that are best done when there’s no furniture in the way, like refinishing floors, plastering, or painting. I recommend using HomeZada to plan and manage your remodeling projects to prevent them from going over budget.
You should probably do basic tasks like using a multimeter to check the whole electrical system to find out if it needs a repair project. And we would strongly recommend removing the new paint smell before the move. In new construction, new paint can especially can be a bit much.
Set Up Utilities And Change Your Address
To begin with, let the post office know you’ve moved, so that they can start forwarding mail to your new home. Try to start updating your address on all your key bank and workplace benefits accounts, your credit cards, your health and car insurance. Next update your information on your memberships and magazine subscriptions.
At the same time, call the electric and gas companies to let them know you’ve moved. Most will just transfer over your account to the new address. If you are moving in the same neighborhood or service area, you need to also do the same with your internet or cable provider. If you’re moving outside your region, you’ll want to investigate the local options and call them to set up service when you get settled.
Clean Up (Or Hire Someone)
Before the furniture shows up and you start unpacking, it’s time to clean like crazy. Ideally, you’d hire a house cleaner who can do a one-off deep clean of the house.
You don’t need to be obsessed about cleanliness to see how difficult it is to live in someone else’s mess. This means wash and vacuum carpets (if need be, rent a carpet cleaner or hire out), mop and sweep the floors, bleach the bathroom, clean the bathtub, clean the oven and fridge and sinks, and wipe off all the closets, shelves, drawers, and cabinets.
Have The Locks Changed
Even if you trust the last owner, it’s impossible to say how many house key copies are floating around or who might have them. A new set of door hardware will only cost around $50, and it’s worth the peace of mind. The hardware store will also be happy to make up a few extra copies of your new key for you to give to a trusted neighbor, friend, or relative.
Locate Your Shut-Off Valves
First, there are shut off valves to help deal with smaller, local problems. If the toilet starts overflowing, find the valve that comes out of the floor or sticks out of the wall just under or behind the toilet. If your sink starts leaking uncontrollably, there’s a shut-off under the sink. Similarly, there’s a gas shut off near the dryer or stove. Find all of these and get some familiarity with using them.
Then, and this is crucial, find the main shut-offs. These control the water and gas as it comes into your house from the street. You need to locate these so you don’t have to panic about a busted pipe that’s flooding your kitchen. Similarly, familiarize yourself with the circuit breakers. Different circuits control the electricity to different rooms or different appliances. Notice the main shut off switch is, which can turn off all power to your house in the event of an emergency.
Of course, there are plenty of other things you’ll need to take care of as part of your move — like going to a furniture store or throwing a housewarming party. However, this brief checklist is a good place to start for the most important things you definitely don’t want to forget.
We all make careless mistakes. We accidentally undertip the waiter. We lock our keys in the car. We wear white after Labor Day. We press “send all.” It happens to the best of us.
But some little mistakes can create big problems, like when you’re buying a home.
A house, after all, is a huge purchase; the stakes are extremely high. With that kind of money on the line, you’d better be darn sure you can navigate the home-buying process without a hitch. And avoid self-sabotage!
To help you out, we’ve pinpointed six common ways home buyers botch their property-purchasing prospects so you can sidestep these snafus at all costs.
1. Flying solo
If this isn’t your first time on the home-buying merry-go-round, you might think: Why hire a real estate agent to hold your hand? Well, first, let us remind you: It’s generally free to use a buyer’s agent, because the seller typically pays the commission for both the seller’s agent and the buyer’s agent. And whether it’s your first home or your fifth, you probably want a professional to help guide you through the often-tricky process of writing an offer, negotiating with the seller, and making sure the deal is up to snuff.
Without an agent, you’ll soon be drowning in paperwork and at risk of making a whole bunch of costly mistakes, warns Jennifer Baxter, associate broker at Coldwell Banker RMR in Suwanee, GA.
To find a real estate agent in your area, use online tools such as realtor.com®’s Find a Realtor search, which will give you useful info such as the Realtor®’s number of years of job experience, number of homes sold, and the price of homes typically dealt with.
2. Saying too much—and undercutting your negotiating power
Be careful what you say when you’re viewing a property at an open house or home showing, Baxter warns. For instance, if the listing agent hears you say to your spouse, “I love this house, and it’s way under our budget,” the seller might try to play hardball when you try to negotiate on price. Keep private conversations private.
3. Waiting too long to make your earnest money deposit
The sales contract will specifically state when you need to cough up the earnest money deposit, which is cash you provide upfront to show the seller that you’re serious about buying the property (the typical amount is 3% to 5% of the sales price of the house).
How much time you have to provide the deposit can vary by state. For example, in Virginia the deposit must occur within five business banking days after ratification unless otherwise agreed to in writing by both parties.
“If you don’t turn in the EMD in accordance with the contract, the contract is void,” says Baxter.
Read: You can kiss the home goodbye if you dillydally for too long.
4. Not bothering to read property disclosures
Even if you plan on having a home inspection, you should still read the home seller’s property disclosures in full, advises Seth Lejeune, a real estate agent with Berkshire Hathaway in Collegeville, PA.
“Property disclosures can be long, but that’s where you’re going to find whether the seller knows if there are any pre-existing issues with the house,” Lejeune says.
Look for major issues like a faulty foundation, leaky roof, HVAC issues, or pest or mold infestations. If you spot something on a disclosure statement that you don’t understand or that raises concerns, have your real estate agent bring it up with the listing agent. The seller might have an explanation that puts you at ease (e.g., “We had bedbugs back in 2012 but hired an exterminator and have been free and clear ever since”). But if the issue makes you seriously question whether you want to move forward, this could be an opportunity to renegotiate the sales price to compensate for the added risk you’re taking on buying this home.
5. Damaging your credit score while you’re under contract
Unless you’re buying a house with all cash, you mortgage still has to go through underwriting to get approved. Since this process typically happens shortly before closing, you don’t want to do anything while you’re in contract that’s going to hurt your credit score. That includes buying a car, boat, or any other large purchase that has to be financed.
One less obvious mistake, however, is applying for a new credit card. Doing so—even for a store credit card like Target’s or Macy’s—triggers a hard inquiry on your credit report, which can ding your score by up to 5 points, says Beverly Harzog, a consumer credit expert and author of “The Debt Escape Plan.” That might sound like a small hit, but it could make a big difference if you’re on the cusp of qualifying for a mortgage.
6. Trusting a verbal agreement
“Some home buyers don’t realize the importance of putting everything in writing,” says Baxter. Unfortunately, that can come back to bite you, hard. For instance, let’s say a seller promises he’ll replace the water heater before closing. Well, if it’s not agreed upon in writing, the seller isn’t required to do it.
“I see this issue come up a lot when people buy new construction” and don’t use a buyer’s agent, says Baxter. “The builder’s agent is always looking out for the builder’s interests.”
This is another reason why you should work with a buyer’s agent rather than trying to muddle through this alone.
In a CNBC article, self-made millionaire David Bach explained that “the single biggest mistake millennials are making” is not purchasing a home because buying real estate is “an escalator to wealth.”
Bach went on to explain:
“If millennials don’t buy a home, their chances of actually having any wealth in this country are little to none. The average homeowner to this day is 38 times wealthier than a renter.”
In his bestselling book, “The Automatic Millionaire,” Bach does the math:
“As a renter, you can easily spend half a million dollars or more on rent over the years ($1,500 a month for 30 years comes to $540,000), and in the end wind up just where you started — owning nothing. Or you can buy a house and spend the same amount paying down a mortgage, and in the end wind up owning your own home free and clear!”
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, the Wall Street Journal, Working Woman, Glamour, Family Circle, Redbook, Huffington Post, Business Insider, Investors’ Business Daily, and Forbes.
Whenever a well-respected millionaire gives investment advice, people usually clamor to hear it. This millionaire gave simple advice – if you don’t yet live in your own home, go buy one.