We’re sitting in an optimal moment in time for homeowners who are ready to sell their houses and make a move this year. Today’s homeowners are, on average, staying in their homes longer than they used to, and this is one factor driving increased homeowner equity. When equity grows, selling a house becomes increasingly desirable. Here’s a breakdown of why it’s a great time to capitalize on equity gain in today’s market.
As average homeowner tenure lengthens and home prices rise, equity, a form of forced savings, can be applied forward to the purchase of a new home. CoreLogicexplains:
“Over the past 10 years, the equity position of homeowners has positively changed as a result of more than eight years of rising home prices. As the economy climbed out of the recession in the first quarter of 2010, 25.9% or 12.1 million homes were still underwater, compared to thefirst quarter of 2020 when the negative equity share was at 3.4%, or 1.8 million properties. Borrowers have seen an aggregate increase of $6.2 trillion in home equity since the first quarter of 2010 and the average homeowner has gained about $106,100 in equity.”
Increasing equity is enabling many homeowners who are ready to sell their current houses today to sell for an increased profit, and then reinvest their earnings in a new home. According to the Q2 2020 U.S. Home Sales Report from ATTOM Data Solutions, in the second quarter of 2020:
“Home sellers nationwide realized a gain of $75,971 on the typical sale, up from the $66,500 in the first quarter of 2020 and from $65,250 in the second quarter of last year. The latest figure, based on median purchase and resale prices, marked yet another peak level of raw profits in the United States since the housing market began recovering from the Great Recession in 2012.”
If you’ve been taking a closer look at your house recently and are thinking it might be time for you to make a move, determining your equity position is a great place to start. Understanding how much equity you’ve earned over time can be a key factor in helping you realize the potential profits in your real estate investment and move toward your next homeownership goal.
With average home sale profits growing, it’s a great time to leverage your equity and make a move, especially while the inventory of houses for sale and mortgage rates are historically low. If you’re considering selling your house, let’s connect today so you can better understand your home equity position and take one step closer to the home of your dreams.
In June, the number of first-time homebuyers accounted for 35% of the existing homes sold, a trend that’s been building steadily throughout the year. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR):
“The share of first-time buyers increased in March through June—right into the heart of the pandemic period and the surge in unemployment—and is now trending higher than the 29% to 32% average in past years since 2012.” (See graph below):
Why the rise in first-time homebuying?
NAR continues to say:
“The major factor is, arguably, low mortgage rates. As of the week ended July 16, the 30-year fixed mortgage rate dropped to 2.98%. With rates so low that are locked in under a 30-year mortgage, the typical mortgage payment, estimated at $1,036, has fallen below the median rent, at $1,045. For potential home buyers who were thinking of purchasing a home anyway before the pandemic outbreak and who are likely to remain employed, the low mortgage rate may be the clincher.”
Clearly, historically low mortgage rates are encouraging many to buy. With the average mortgage payment now estimated at a lower monthly cost than renting, it’s a great time for first-time homebuyers to enter the market. According to the Q2 2020 Housing Trends Report from the National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB):
“Eighty-four percent of Gen Z’s planning to buy a home are first timers, compared to 68% of Millennials, 52% of Gen X’s, and 21% of Boomers. Looking at results by region shows that over 60% of prospective buyers in the Northeast and South are buying a home for the first time. The share is above 55% in the Midwest and West.”
There are, however, challenges for first-time buyers. A recent survey conducted by NeighborWorks America also notes that understanding the homebuying process may be the most significant barrier for many hopeful homeowners:
“Homeownership is a particular challenge for many, despite high levels of interest. Americans believe there are many benefits to homeownership and half of non-owners will seek information about the process in the next few years…a large share of non-owners say the process is too challenging and only a minority know where to find advice if they wanted it. And although many would seek the guidance of community and non-profit programs, only one in three non-owners are aware of such services.”
If you’re among the first-time homebuyers who feel the process is complicated, you’re not alone. If you’re not sure where to begin or you simply want help in figuring out how to save for a home, finding a trusted real estate advisor to work with is a critical step toward your success. A real estate professional can help you understand the process, review your current situation, and guide you with a plan to help you to feel confident when buying a home.
If you’re interested in purchasing a home and need help getting started, let’s connect today so you can take advantage of the support available to guide you through each step of the way.
To stop the spread of COVID-19, the real estate industry is pivoting away from in-person events and embracing virtualization. But, renting is a big decision–how is a tenant supposed to choose the right apartment without stepping foot inside? Enter: virtual showings. Real estate agents are leading stand out virtual showings–either by FaceTiming their client or recording a comprehensive walk through–to keep real estate running as usual. Scroll down to see 5 secrets of virtual showings for real estate agents.
5 Secrets for Stand Out Virtual Showings
1. Don’t Underestimate the Power of Good Lighting
As any good photographer knows–it’s all about light. So, make sure that you’re doing your apartment justice by filming your virtual showing with great lighting. Go during the day, and experiment with what looks best on camera. Got shadowy corners in the apartment? Could the living room use a couple of extra pieces of floor lighting? Bring your own gear. Purchase a small, handheld light and shine it in the dark areas of the apartment to get your client the best possible view.
2. Mind Your Windows
Be mindful of windows in your apartment. All the light that comes streaming through large windows can distort the visuals in your virtual tours. Windows can totally white out an image, or can make a room go very dark, so be careful. When you move your camera to show an area with lots of windows, go quickly and don’t linger on the light-source.
3. Practice Beforehand
Whether you’ve chose to send your client a pre-recorded video of an apartment or you’ve decided to live-stream a showing while your client is on FaceTime, do a dry-run. There, rehearse the key selling point, and features of the apartment. Even if you’ve been leading showings for years, using a phone to do the job might throw you for a loop. Don’t take any chances. Instead, show up twenty minutes before you’ve agreed to FaceTime your client and rehearse your main talking points and the path you’ll take through the apartment. If you’re opting for a pre-recorded showing, try filming a couple of takes before you select the one you’ll send to your client.
4. Keep Things Steady with a Stabilization Device
Ever been on FaceTime with someone taking a walk and felt yourself get seasick by the movement? Make sure your clients have a better experience (and are able to see the apartment in its best light!) by investing in a cheap stabilization device (a pop socket or another type of grip), or, if you want to spend a little bit money, purchase a dolly–a tripod with wheels. It’s possible that virtual showings will become the norm for a while, so adapt and make sure you can give your client a smooth ride as you explore potential homes.
5. Don’t Take Wi-Fi For Granted: How Will Your Service Be?
If you’re leading a live-showing (FaceTiming your client at a specified time), good Wi-Fi is a must. A bad reception can garble the images your apartment, and–worse– disconnect repeatedly and cause a stressful and frustrating experience for both you and your client. When you call ahead to the landlord or property manager to let them know that you’ll be conducting a virtual showing, ask them about their WiFi situation. If it’s not good, you might need to dip into your data, or let your client know that a pre-recorded showing might work better.
6. Go Beyond Descriptive Words:
This is great to keep in mind even if you’re leading in-personal showings–make sure to use very precise descriptions.
Instead of saying: “This open concept living-dining room is pretty big.”
Say: “This open concept living-dining room could comfortably fit a round table for four and two couches.”
It can be tough to really get a good sense of space using a screen, so help your client envision what these spaces look like in real life with your words.
7. Don’t Rush: Walk Slow and Leave Time for Comments
Don’t rush your good work! It can be tough to envision something from an iPhone screen, so take your time walking through the apartment and showing off its fantastic features. Ask your client if you are moving too slow or too fast, and be sure to course-correct your pace as per their recommendations
8. Luxury Apartment? Best to Leave it To the Professionals
Are you working with luxury apartments? If so, it’s best to leave it to the professionals. Connect with real estate photographers and see if they would be willing to lead a virtual showing for your client. Yes, it’s an extra expense. However, professionals have long-range cameras that will be able to capture depth in a much more realistic and compelling way than your iPhone can, and will know best-practices to make your showings successful. It’s an expense well worth it if you’re working for clients seeking luxury apartments. And, the opportunity to network with another real estate professional can grow your sphere of influence, and maybe even generate referrals.
As the home sales cycle softens in response to COVID, the flexibility and affordability of rentals is starting to increase in popularity. With Rental Beast, real estate agents can connect with eager renters, search thousands of no co-broke apartment units with virtual showing capacity, and quickly process leasing applications. We’re the end-to-end leasing platform that makes rentals simple and profitable for real estate agents. Click here to learn more about the Rental Beast platform, and see how rentals can help you supercharge your business.
Here are four great reasons to consider buying a home today instead of waiting.
1. Prices Will Continue to Rise
CoreLogic’s latest Home Price Index reports that home prices have appreciated by 7.0% over the last 12 months. The same report predicts that prices will continue to increase at a rate of 4.7% over the next year.
The bottom in home prices has come and gone. Home values will continue to appreciate for years. Waiting no longer makes sense.
2. Mortgage Interest Rates Are Projected to Increase
Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey shows that interest rates for a 30-year mortgage have hovered around 4%. Most experts predict that rates will rise over the next 12 months. The Mortgage Bankers Association, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the National Association of Realtors are in unison, projecting that rates will increase by this time next year.
An increase in rates will impact YOUR monthly mortgage payment. A year from now, your housing expense will increase if a mortgage is necessary to buy your next home.
3. Either Way, you are Paying a Mortgage
There are some renters who have not yet purchased a home because they are uncomfortable taking on the obligation of a mortgage. Everyone should realize that unless you are living with your parents rent-free, you are paying a mortgage – either yours or your landlord’s.
As an owner, your mortgage payment is a form of ‘forced savings’ that allows you to have equity in your home that you can tap into later in life. As a renter, you guarantee your landlord is the person with that equity.
Are you ready to put your housing cost to work for you?
4. It’s Time to Move on with Your Life
The ‘cost’ of a home is determined by two major components: the price of the home and the current mortgage rate. It appears that both are on the rise.
But what if they weren’t? Would you wait?
Look at the actual reason you are buying and decide if it is worth waiting. Whether you want to have a great place for your children to grow up, you want your family to be safer, or you just want to have control over renovations, maybe now is the time to buy.
Every year at this time, many homeowners decide to wait until after the holidays to put their homes on the market for the first time, while others who already have their homes on the market decide to take them off until after the holidays.
Here are seven great reasons not to wait:
Relocation buyers are out there. Many companies are still hiring throughout the holidays and need their employees in their new positions as soon as possible.
Purchasers who are looking for homes during the holidays are serious buyers and are ready to buy now.
You can restrict the showings on your home to the times you want it shown. You will remain in control.
Homes show better when decorated for the holidays.
There is less competition for you as a seller right now. Let’s take a look at listing inventory as compared to the same time last year:
The desire to own a home doesn’t stop when the holidays come. Buyers who were unable to find their dream home during the busy spring and summer months are still searching!
The supply of listings increases substantially after the holidays. Also, in many parts of the country, new construction will continue to surge reaching new heights in 2018, which will lessen the demand for your house.
Waiting until after the holidays to sell your home probably doesn’t make sense.
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.
Millennials have been the largest group of homebuyers for the last three years running, and with most millennials yet to enter the housing market, their dominance is unlikely to end any time soon. This is great news for real estate agents. In 2016, 88 percent of all buyers used an agent; however, a full 92 percent of millennials purchased their home with the help of an agent! That said, understanding who this group of buyers is, how they search, and why they choose to work with agents will help you shape your business to best serve and appeal to the needs of this growing pool of buyers.
Before you can work with millennial buyers, you have to find them. Don’t let any more millennials fall into the hands of your competitors! Ask us how Local Connect can help you target quality buyers and sellers in the initial stages of their transactions so you can start connecting with them today!
Buying a home is exciting and terrifying. After all, this is the biggest financial move most people ever make. As such, there’s a lot of room for error, and even tiny mistakes can translate to tens of thousands of dollars.
The lesson here: Even the most intrepid home buyer should get some guidance not only on what to do, but also what not to do. Look no further than this list, which highlights the most common mistakes buyers make so you can avoid the same fate.
1. Don’t shop for homes without an agent
By all means, start out by looking online at pictures of pretty houses—the more the better. It’s a vastly useful way to get the lay of the land. But when it comes time to get serious about buying a house, you should find a professional to help you out.
Think of a buyer’s agent as a fairy godparent who’s here to turn your homeownership dreams into reality. This person will guide you through every step of the home-buying process—from finding the right property and writing a winning offer to negotiating home inspection repairs and sailing through to closing.
“You want an advocate who is going to look out for your best interests in the transaction,” says Bellevue, WA, real estate agent Holly Gray.
2. Don’t meet with just one mortgage lender
Once you’ve found a real estate agent, your next step should be to get pre-approved for a home loan. To do that, you’ll have to meet with a mortgage lender and provide a good amount of paperwork, including two years of W-2 forms, two years of tax returns, and proof of funds for the down payment (among other documents).
That mountain of forms is one of the things that prompts many to meet with only one lender, says Richard Redmond, mortgage broker at All California Mortgage in Larkspur and author of “Mortgages: The Insider’s Guide.” That’s a potentially big mistake!
Redmond recommends getting at least three quotes from different lenders so that you can survey your options and find the best loan for you. If you don’t feel like doing the legwork of shopping around yourself, you can use a mortgage broker—basically an intermediary who presents you with options from a variety of lenders. The caveat is that you’ll likely have to pay a broker’s fee for the person’s service (usually 1% to 2% of the total of the loan).
3. Don’t understate your budget
It might sound strange, but a number of home buyers make the mistake of hiding their true budget from their real estate agent.
“Some people are afraid that their agent is going to make them buy the most expensive house that they can afford, so they understate their price range,” says Daniel Gyomory, a real estate agent in Northville, MI.
However, if you’re not upfront with your agent about your price range, you might miss out on a great house.
“If you tell me your budget is $300,000 maximum but you’re actuallywilling to pay $400,000, I may not send you listings that could actually be a good fit for you,” Gyomory explains.
4. Don’t hold out for the ‘perfect’ house
People throw around the words “dream home” a lot. (Heck, we’re guilty of it.) However, here’s the not-so-harsh truth: “There’s no such thing as a perfect house,” says Gyomory. And that’s why he has clients create a list of “musts” and “wants” to identify their criteria and focus on what really matters to them.
5. Don’t make ridiculously lowball offers
You obviously want to get a bargain, but you could lose out on a home that you love by making an absurdly low offer. In fact, a recent survey from Inman found that 15% of real estate agents say the third-largest mistake people make when buying a home is offering too little for a property (that’s behind not talking to a lender first and waiting too long to make an offer).
“When you overlook market data and make a lowball offer, you’re pretty much slapping the seller in the face,” says Gyomory. And if you offend the seller, the person might not even be willing to make you a counteroffer.
Bottom line: Trust your agent to help you assess the value of a house and write a winning offer, says Karen Elmir, a luxury real estate agent in Miami.
6. Don’t forget to budget for closing costs
The home seller will chip in some money at settlement; however, as the home buyer, you have the (unfortunate) pleasure of shouldering the lion’s share of the closing costs. Your mortgage lender should be able to give you a rough estimate of your closing costs once a seller accepts your offer, but as a rule you can estimate that they typically total 2% to 7% of the home’s purchase price. So on a $250,000 home, your closing costs would amount to anywhere from $5,000 to $17,500.
7. Don’t make big purchases before you close
Once you have found the right house and get the seller to accept your offer, your loan still needs to go through underwriting in order for you to obtain the mortgage. One thing underwriters do is look at your credit score from the three major credit bureaus—Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion—to make sure your credit hasn’t changed since you were pre-approved.
Therefore, you’ll want to avoid taking on any new debt while you’re in the process of buying a house. Purchasing a car with an auto loan or maxing out your credit cards, for example, could hurt your credit score, which could potentially raise your loan’s interest rate or—in the worst case—get your mortgage application rejected. (In other words: Bye-bye, new house.)
In today’s market, with home prices rising and a lack of inventory, some homeowners may consider trying to sell their homes on their own, known in the industry as a For Sale by Owner (FSBO). There are several reasons why this might not be a good idea for the vast majority of sellers.
Here are the top five reasons:
1. Exposure to Prospective Buyers
Recent studies have shown that 94% of buyers search online for a home. That is in comparison to only 16% looking at print newspaper ads. Most real estate agents have an internet strategy to promote the sale of your home. Do you?
2. Results Come from the Internet
Where did buyers find the homes they actually purchased?
51% on the internet
34% from a Real Estate Agent
8% from a yard sign
1% from newspapers
The days of selling your house by just putting up a sign and putting it in the paper are long gone. Having a strong internet strategy is crucial.
3. There Are Too Many People to Negotiate With
Here is a list of some of the people with whom you must be prepared to negotiate if you decide to For Sale by Owner:
The buyer who wants the best deal possible
The buyer’s agent who solely represents the best interest of the buyer
The buyer’s attorney (in some parts of the country)
The home inspection companies, which work for the buyer and will almost always find some problems with the house
The appraiser if there is a question of value
4. FSBOing Has Become More And More Difficult
The paperwork involved in selling and buying a home has increased dramatically as industry disclosures and regulations have become mandatory. This is one of the reasons that the percentage of people FSBOing has dropped from 19% to 8% over the last 20+ years.
The 8% share represents the lowest recorded figure since NAR began collecting data in 1981.
5. You Net More Money When Using an Agent
Many homeowners believe that they will save the real estate commission by selling on their own. Realize that the main reason buyers look at FSBOs is because they also believe they can save the real estate agent’s commission. The seller and buyer can’t both save the commission.
Studies have shown that the typical house sold by the homeowner sells for $185,000, while the typical house sold by an agent sells for $245,000. This doesn’t mean that an agent can get $60,000 more for your home, as studies have shown that people are more likely to FSBO in markets with lower price points. However, it does show that selling on your own might not make sense.
Before you decide to take on the challenges of selling your house on your own, let’s get together and discuss the options available in your market today.