Should You Take Your Home Off the Market for the Holidays?

Nobody’s buying homes between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, right? (Or are they?)

Home sellers often suggest to their agents that they should take their listings off the market during the winter holidays. Surely nothing happens between now and the end of the year, they ask? It’s best to wait for the spring selling season, right?

Perhaps surprisingly, the answer is: not necessarily.

Conventional wisdom used to be that you shouldn’t even try to sell your home during the busy holiday season. Potential home buyers were attending parties, cooking holiday meals, buying presents, or vacationing this time of year. With all that going on, there just wasn’t time to ride around with a real estate agent to look at properties.

But with the Internet, smartphones, tablets and our always-on lifestyle, that conventional wisdom isn’t relevant anymore. The reality is, the home-buying season is now year-round.

Here’s why you should consider listing your home during the holidays — or even in January.

Today’s buyers check the listings 24×7

These days, serious buyers are always real estate aware — and the holidays are no exception. They may check out the latest listings in a mobile real estate app before bed or while waiting for the bus. You know the drill. We can’t pull ourselves away.

Our hectic lifestyles also play a role. Many serious buyers today work hard. They don’t shift into holiday mode until the last minute. Even during the holiday break, they’re still squeezing in work. There’s no such thing for them as “going off the grid.” So why not continue to monitor real estate listings, too?

The inventory — your competition — is lighter

Despite our always-on lifestyles, many sellers still believe buyers stop looking come mid-November. At the same time, sellers who’ve had their homes on the market for months often take them off now to give the listing “a rest.”

The net effect is that the inventory for good homes often tightens this time of year. There’s less competition for sellers, at a time when motivated buyers are out there looking — and no doubt wishing there were more properties to see.

If you’ve been considering selling, are motivated, are flexible on timing, and have a salable home, consider listing right after Thanksgiving. There’s still a window of several weeks to get buyers into your home before the end of the year.

And those buyers swiping right will be excited to see something new and awesome hit the market. Buyers will be motivated to see your home, regardless of what the calendar says.

Update a slow mover

If your property has been on the market for months, most buyers and their agents will assume it’s stale, overpriced or that something is “wrong” with it, no matter how light the competition is.

In that case, it’s time to take action, and the year-end holidays can be a great opportunity to shift course. Dramatically reducing the price or overcoming some major obstacle that’s been preventing the sale might be what’s needed to sell your home.

If you received lower offers early on but weren’t ready to accept them, or you keep hearing there are issues with how your property shows, this is a good time to show the market you’re listening and are serious about selling.

The motivated buyers, desperate for good inventory, will notice you and take a look. Strike while the iron is hot.

You might even get a sale closed before the end of the year. But before you make any big changes, talk it over with your real estate agent, as always.

Plan B: List in January

Admittedly, the thought of keeping the house clean, holding open houses and vacating to accommodate last-minute showings during the holidays is a dealbreaker for some would-be sellers.

If so, consider listing your property after New Year’s Day. Traditionally, not much inventory comes onto the market in early January. Many areas are seeing cold weather, bare trees, and dead landscaping. Many sellers wait until the spring — a more conventional time to sell.

While January inventory is typically still very tight, the number of buyers may be growing. Often, new buyers — with their fresh New Year’s resolutions to stop wasting money on rent and buy a home — are ready to jump into the market as soon as possible. Some buyers are motivated to search for a home in January because of year-end tax planning.

Whatever the buyers’ motivation, for sellers it means one thing: Demand for homes can increase at a time when inventory is traditionally low. And that means if you’re ready to sell, you’ll have an even more “captive” audience during the holidays, all the way through January.

Posted by Brendon DeSimone on Zillow

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The Difference An Hour Can Make

 

Every minute counts in the real estate business! Take a look at what can happen in just an hour!

Posted by The KCM Crew

5 Reasons to Buy a Home This Fall

The days may be getting shorter, but the home-shopping benefits are growing.

Real estate markets ebb and flow just like the seasons. The spring market starts hopping when the sun comes out, flowers bloom and winter is over. Conversely, fall signals the beginning of a slower market, which could be good for buyers.

If you’re in the market for a home, here are some reasons why fall can be a great time to buy.

Leftover spring inventory may result in deals

Home sellers tend to go on the market for the first time in the spring. They often list their homes too high out of the gate, which could mean that a series of price reductions follow during the spring and the summer months.

These sellers have fewer chances to capture buyers after Labor Day. By October, buyers are likely to find desperate sellers and prices that may, in fact, be below a home’s true market value.

Fewer buyers are competing

Families who want to be in a new home by the beginning of the school season are no longer shopping at this point. These families have exited the market, which means less competition. That translates into more opportunities for buyers.

Taking out an entire segment of the housing market provides millennial, single, and baby boomer buyers some breathing room. You’ll likely notice fewer buyers at open houses, which could signal a great opportunity to make an offer.

Motivated sellers want to close by the end of the year

While a home is where an owner lives and makes memories, it is also an investment — and one with tax consequences. A home seller may want to take advantage of a gain or loss during this tax year.

Buyers might find homeowners looking to make deals so they can close before December 31st and get that tax benefit. Ask why the seller is selling, and look for listings that offer incentives to close before the end of the year.

Homes for sale near the holidays signal a motivated seller

As the holidays approach, the last thing a homeowner wants is for their sale to be dragging on and interrupting their parties and events.

If a home has not sold by November, and it’s still sitting on the market, that homeowner is likely motivated to be done with the disruptions caused by their home being listed for sale.

Many homes don’t show as well once the landscaping fades

The best time to do a property inspection is in the rain and snow, because the home will be truly exposed for buyers. The same holds true for fall, when flowers die, trees start to shed their leaves, and beautiful landscapes are no longer so lovely.

Scratching the surface of the pretty spring home season and fall reveals home flaws, making it a great time to see each home’s true colors. It’s better to see the home’s flaws before making the offer, instead of being surprised months after you close.

Posted by Brendon Desimone on Zillow

Sales Up In (Almost) Every Price Range!

The National Association of Realtors’ most recent Existing Home Sales Report revealed that home sales were up rather dramatically over last year in five of the six price ranges they measure.

Only those homes priced under $100,000 showed a decline (-7.7%). The decline in this price range points to the lower inventory of distressed properties available for sale and speaks to the strength of the market.

Every other category showed a minimum increase of at least 5.6%, with sales in the $250,000- $500,000 range up 16.9%!

Here is the breakdown:

What does that mean to you if you are selling?

Houses are definitely selling. If your house has been on the market for any length of time and has not yet sold, perhaps it is time to sit with your agent and see if it is priced appropriately to compete in today’s market.

Posted by The KCM Crew

The Cost of Waiting to Buy a Home

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) recently released their July edition of theHousing Affordability Index. The index measures whether or not a typical family earns enough income to qualify for a mortgage loan on a typical home at the national level based on the most recent price and income data.

NAR looks at the monthly mortgage payment (principal & interest) which is determined by the median sales price and mortgage interest rate at the time. With that information, NAR calculates the income necessary for a family to qualify for that mortgage amount (based on a 25% qualifying ratio for monthly housing expense to gross monthly income and a 20% down payment).

Here is a graph of the income needed to buy a median priced home in the country over the last several years:

And the income requirement has accelerated even more dramatically this year as prices have risen:

Bottom Line

Some buyers may be waiting to save up a larger down payment. Others may be waiting for a promotion and more money. Just realize that, while you are waiting, the requirements are also changing.

Posted by The KCM Crew

The Fed Announcement: What It Means for Mortgage Rates and the Housing Market

Interest rates remain at historically low levels, pushing the long anticipated rate hike into the future.

U.S. interest rates have seen nearly a decade of record lows, and 2015 was supposedly the year that they finally began to rise. The Federal Open Market Committee announced today that the benchmark interest rate for short-term lending will remain at its current target level of 0 percent to 0.25 percent.

Although rates didn’t climb today, an eventual increase will occur in the next couple of months.

“The federal funds rate, and in turn mortgage rates, remain low and will likely end the year roughly where they started it. For most markets and buyers around the country, the effects of any eventual interest rate hikes should be pretty small in the near term, but in some unaffordable markets where buyers are already stretching their finances, higher interest payments could more dramatically limit buyers’ options,” said Zillow Chief Economist Svenja Gudell.

Unaffordable markets include places like San Francisco and New York City, where housing is already very expensive. Buyers in these markets have little wiggle room when it comes to housing they can afford, and higher interest rates will limit their options even more.

On the flip side, higher rates will have little impact on markets such as Cleveland, where home values aren’t nearly as high.

To give you an idea of how a potential rate increase would impact home buyers, we took the current rate on Zillow Mortgages of 3.81 percent and did some calculations, using Zillow’s Mortgage Calculator, on homes valued at $150,000, $250,000 and $350,000. The goal was to see how monthly mortgage payments would be affected if the rate rose to 4 percent and 5 percent, assuming a 20-percent down payment.

Monthly Mortgage Payment

3.81% 4% 5%
$150,000 $767 $780 $851
$250,000 $1,234 $1,256 $1,375
$350,000 $1,701 $1,732 $1,898

As shown above, the higher the purchase price, the greater impact a rate increase will have on your monthly mortgage payment.

When this anticipated rate hike does occur, the majority of markets around the country will see little impact, which is great news for the housing market.

Posted by Jordyn Lee on Zillow