Mary Ellen Wilson

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8 Stategies to Secure a Lower Mortgage Rate

Posted On: September 13th, 2022 8:39PM

8 Strategies to Secure A Lower Mortgage Rate8 Strategies to Secure a Lower Mortgage Rate

 

Mortgage rates have been on a roller coaster ride this year, rising and falling amid inflationary pressures and economic uncertainty. And even the experts are divided when it comes to predicting where rates are headed next.1

 

This climate has been unsettling for some homebuyers and sellers. However, with proper planning, you can work toward qualifying for the best mortgage rates available today – and open up the possibility of refinancing at a lower rate in the future.

 

How does a lower mortgage rate save you money? According to Trading Economics, the average new mortgage size in the United States is currently around $410,000.2 Let’s compare a 5.0% versus a 6.0% fixed-interest rate on that amount over a 30-year term.

 

Mortgage Rate
(30-year fixed)

Monthly Payment on $410,000 Loan
(excludes taxes, insurance, etc.)

Difference in Monthly Payment

Total Interest Over 30 Years

Difference in Interest

5.0%

$2,200.97

 

$382,348.72

 

6.0%

$2,458.16

+ $257.19

$474,936.58

+ $92,587.86

 

With a 5% rate, your monthly payments would be about $2,201. At 6%, those payments would jump to $2,458, or around $257 more. That adds up to a difference of almost $92,600 over the lifetime of the loan. In other words, shaving off just one percentage point on your mortgage could put nearly $100K in your pocket over time.

 

So, how can you improve your chances of securing a low mortgage rate? Try these eight strategies:

 

 

1. Raise your credit score.

 

Borrowers with higher credit scores are viewed as “less risky” to lenders, so they are offered lower interest rates. A good credit score typically starts at 690 and can move up into the 800s.3 If you don’t know your score, check with your bank or credit card company to see if they offer free access. If not, there are a plethora of both free and paid credit monitoring services you can utilize.

 

If your credit score is low, you can take steps to improve it, including:4

 

  • Correct any errors on your credit reports, which can bring down your score. You can access reports for free by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com.
  • Pay down revolving debt. This includes credit card balances and home equity lines of credit.
  • Avoid closing old credit card accounts in good standing. It could lower your score by shortening your credit history and shrinking your total available credit.
  • Make all future payments on time. Payment history is a primary factor in determining your credit score, so make it a priority.
  • Limit your credit applications to avoid having your score dinged by too many inquiries. If you’re shopping around for a car loan or mortgage, minimize the impact by limiting your applications to a short period, usually 14 to 45 days.5

 

Over time, you should start to see your credit score climb — which will help you qualify for a lower mortgage rate.

 

 

2. Keep steady employment.

 

If you are preparing to purchase a home, it might not be the best time to make a major career change. Unfortunately, frequent job moves or gaps in your résumé could hurt your borrower eligibility.

 

When you apply for a mortgage, lenders will typically review your employment and income over the past 24 months.5 If you’ve earned a steady paycheck, you could qualify for a better interest rate. A stable employment history gives lenders more confidence in your ability to repay the loan.

 

That doesn’t mean a job change will automatically disqualify you from purchasing a home. But certain moves, like switching from W-2 to 1099 (independent contractor) income, could throw a wrench in your home buying plans.6

 

 

3. Lower your debt-to-income ratios.

 

Even with a high credit score and a great job, lenders will be concerned if your debt payments are consuming too much of your income. That’s where your debt-to-income (DTI) ratios will come into play.

 

There are two types of DTI ratios:7

  1. Front-end ratio — What percentage of your gross monthly income will go towards covering housing expenses (mortgage, taxes, insurance, and dues or association fees)?
  2. Back-end ratio — What percentage of your gross monthly income will go towards covering ALL debt obligations (housing expenses, credit cards, student loans, and other debt)?

 

What’s considered a good DTI ratio? For better rates, lenders typically want to see a front-end DTI ratio that’s no higher than 28% and a back-end ratio that’s 36% or less.7

 

If your DTI ratios are higher, you can take steps to lower them, like purchasing a less expensive home or increasing your down payment. Your back-end ratio can also be decreased by paying down your existing debt. A bump in your monthly income will also bring down your DTI ratios.

 

 

4. Increase your down payment.

 

Minimum down payment requirements vary by loan type. But, in some cases, you can qualify for a lower mortgage rate if you make a larger down payment.8

 

Why do lenders care about your down payment size? Because borrowers with significant equity in their homes are less likely to default on their mortgages. That’s why conventional lenders often require borrowers to purchase private mortgage insurance (PMI) if they put down less than 20%.

 

A larger down payment will also lower your overall borrowing costs and decrease your monthly mortgage payment since you’ll be taking out a smaller loan. Just be sure to keep enough cash on hand to cover closing costs, moving expenses, and any furniture or other items you’ll need to get settled into your new space.

 

 

5. Compare loan types.

 

All mortgages are not created equal. The loan type you choose could save (or cost) you money depending on your qualifications and circumstances.

 

For example, here are several common loan types available in the U.S. today:9

 

  • Conventional — These offer lower mortgage rates but have more stringent credit and down payment requirements than some other types.
  • FHA — Backed by the government, these loans are easier to qualify for but often charge a higher interest rate.
  • Specialty — Certain specialty loans, like VA or USDA loans, might be available if you meet specific criteria.
  • Jumbo — Mortgages that exceed the local conforming loan limit are subject to stricter requirements and may have higher interest rates and fees.10

 

When considering loan type, you’ll also want to weigh the pros and cons of a fixed-rate versus variable-rate mortgage:11

 

  • Fixed rate — With a fixed-rate mortgage, you’re guaranteed to keep the same interest rate for the entire life of the loan. Traditionally, these have been the most popular type of mortgage in the U.S. because they offer stability and predictability.
  • Adjustable rate — Adjustable-rate mortgages, or ARMs, have a lower introductory interest rate than fixed-rate mortgages, but the rate can rise after a set period of time — typically 3 to 10 years.

 

According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, 10% of American homebuyers are now selecting ARMs, up from just 4% at the start of this year.12 An ARM might be a good option if you plan to sell your home before the rate resets. However, life is unpredictable, so it’s important to weigh the benefits and risks involved.

 

 

6. Shorten your mortgage term.

 

A mortgage term is the length of time your mortgage agreement is in effect. The terms are typically 15, 20, or 30 years.13 Although the majority of homebuyers choose 30-year terms, if your goal is to minimize the amount you pay in interest, you should crunch the numbers on a 15-year or 20-year mortgage.

 

With shorter loan terms, the risk of default is less, so lenders typically offer lower interest rates.13 However, it’s important to note that even though you’ll pay less interest, your mortgage payment will be higher each month, since you’ll be making fewer total payments. So before you agree to a shorter term, make sure you have enough room in your budget to comfortably afford the larger payment.

 

 

7. Get quotes from multiple lenders.

 

When shopping for a mortgage, be sure to solicit quotes from several different lenders and lender types to compare the interest rates and fees. Depending upon your situation, you could find that one institution offers a better deal for the type of loan and term length you want.

Some borrowers choose to work with a mortgage broker. Like an insurance broker, they can help you gather quotes and find the best rate. However, if you use a broker, make sure you understand how they are compensated and contact more than one so you can compare their recommendations and fees.14

 

Don’t forget that we can be a valuable resource in finding a lender, especially if you are new to the home buying process. After a consultation, we can discuss your financing needs and connect you with loan officers or brokers best suited for your situation.

 

 

8. Consider mortgage points.

 

Even if you score a great interest rate on your mortgage, you can lower it even further by paying for points. When you buy mortgage points — also known as discount points — you essentially pay your lender an upfront fee in exchange for a lower interest rate. The cost to purchase a point is 1% of your mortgage amount. For each point you buy, your mortgage rate will decrease by a set amount, typically 0.25%.15 You’ll need upfront cash to pay for the points, but you can more than make up for the cost in interest savings over time.

 

However, it only makes sense to buy mortgage points if you plan to stay in the home long enough to recoup the cost. You can determine the breakeven point, or the period of time you’d need to keep the mortgage to make up for the fee, by dividing the cost by the amount saved each month.15 This can help you determine whether or not mortgage points would be a good investment for you.

 

 

Getting Started

 

Unfortunately, the rock-bottom mortgage rates we saw during the height of the pandemic are behind us. However, today’s 30-year fixed rates still fall beneath the historical average of around 8% — and are well below the all-time peak of 18.45% in 1981.16, 17

 

And although higher mortgage rates have made it more expensive to finance a home purchase, they have also eliminated some of the competition from the market. Consequently, today’s buyers are finding more homes to choose from, fewer bidding wars, and more sellers willing to negotiate or offer incentives such as cash toward closing costs or mortgage points.

 

If you’re ready and able to buy a home, there’s no reason that concerns about mortgage rates should sideline your plans. The reality is that many economists predict home prices to continue climbing.18 So you may be better off buying today at a slightly higher rate than waiting and paying more for a home a few years from now. You can always refinance if mortgage rates go down, but you can’t make up for the lost years of equity growth and appreciation.

 

If you have questions or would like more information about buying or selling a home, reach out to schedule a free consultation. I’d love to help you igh your options, navigate this shifting market, and reach your real estate goals!

 

 

Sources:

  1. Washington Post -
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2022/08/04/mortgage-rates-sink-below-5-percent-first-time-four-months/
  2. Trading Economics -
    https://tradingeconomics.com/united-states/average-mortgage-size
  3. NerdWallet -
    https://www.nerdwallet.com/article/finance/what-is-a-good-credit-score
  4. Debt.org -
    https://www.debt.org/credit/improving-your-score/
  5. The Balance -
    https://www.thebalance.com/will-multiple-loan-applications-hurt-my-credit-score-960544
  6. Time -
    https://time.com/nextadvisor/mortgages/how-lenders-evaluate-your-employment/
  7. Bankrate -
    https://www.bankrate.com/mortgages/why-debt-to-income-matters-in-mortgages/
  8. NerdWallet -
    https://www.nerdwallet.com/article/mortgages/payment-buy-home
  9. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau -
    https://www.consumerfinance.gov/owning-a-home/loan-options/
  10. NerdWallet -
    https://www.nerdwallet.com/article/mortgages/jumbo-loans-what-you-need-to-know
  11. Bankrate -
    https://www.bankrate.com/mortgages/arm-vs-fixed-rate/
  12. MarketWatch -
    https://www.marketwatch.com/picks/as-mortgage-rates-rise-heres-exactly-how-more-homebuyers-are-snagging-mortgage-rates-around-4-01656513665
  13. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau -
    https://www.consumerfinance.gov/owning-a-home/loan-options/#anchor_loan-term_361c08846349fe
  14. Federal Trade Commission -
    https://consumer.ftc.gov/articles/shopping-mortgage-faqs
  15. Bankrate -
    https://www.bankrate.com/mortgages/mortgage-points/
  16. CNBC -
    https://www.cnbc.com/select/mortgage-rates-today-still-relatively-low/
  17. Rocket Mortgage -
    https://www.rocketmortgage.com/learn/historical-mortgage-rates-30-year-fixed
  18. MarketWatch -
    https://www.marketwatch.com/picks/continuing-home-price-deceleration-heres-what-5-economists-and-real-estate-pros-predict-will-happen-to-the-housing-market-this-year-01659347993

 

 

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Higher Rates and Short Supply: The State of Real Estate in 2022

Posted On: June 3rd, 2022 3:55PM

Higher Rates & Short Supply : The State of Real Estate in 2022

 

The last two years caught many of us off guard—and not just because of the pandemic. They also ushered in the hottest housing market on record, with home prices rising nationally by nearly 19% in 2021, driven primarily by low mortgage rates and a major supply shortage.1

But while some had hoped 2022 would bring a return to normalcy, the U.S. real estate market continues to boom, despite rising interest rates and decreasing affordability.

So what’s driving this persistent demand? And is there an end in sight?

Here are three factors impacting the real estate market right now. Find out how they could affect you if you’re a current homeowner or plan to buy or sell a home this year.


MORTGAGE RATES ARE RISING FASTER THAN EXPECTED

Over the past couple of years, homebuyers have faced intense competition for new homes—in part due to historically low mortgage rates that Ire a result of the Federal Reserve’s efforts to keep the economy afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, in response to a concerning level of inflation, the Fed is now reversing those efforts by raising the federal funds rate. And as a result, mortgage rates are rising, as Ill. Few experts predicted, though, that mortgage rates would go up as quickly as they have.

In January 2022, the Mortgage Bankers Association projected that rates would reach 4% by the end of this year.2 By mid-April, hoIver, the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate had already hit 5%, up from around 3% just one year prior.3 On a $400,000 mortgage, that 2% difference could translate into an additional $461 per monthly payment.

Since then, mortgage rates have continued on an upward trend. So what impact are these rising rates having on demand? While many buyers had hoped for a cooling effect, experts warn that may not be the case.

Ali Wolf, chief economist at housing market research firm Zanda, told Fortune magazine, "Rising mortgage rates are having a counterintuitive effect on the housing market. Home shoppers are actually sprung into action in an attempt to buy a home before mortgage rates rise any higher."4

Since inventory remains low, the resulting “race” has kept the homebuying market highly competitive–at least for now.


What does it mean for you?

 While current 30-year fixed mortgage rates represent an increase over previous months, they remain Ill below the historical average of 8%.5 As inflation across the economy continues, the Fed is likely to raise rates further this year. Buyers should act fast to secure a good mortgage rate. I'd be happy to refer you to a lender who can help.

For sellers, speed is also of the essence. The pool of potential buyers may shrink as mortgages become more expensive. And if you plan to finance your next home, you’ll want to act quickly to secure a favorable rate for yourself. Contact me today to discuss your options.


HOME PRICES KEEP CLIMBING

History shows that higher interest rates don’t necessarily translate to lower home prices. In fact, home prices rose 5% between 1980 and 1982, a period of significantly higher mortgage rates and inflation.5

Forecasters expect that home prices will continue to go up throughout 2022, though likely at a sloIr pace than the 18.8% increase of the last 12 months.4 Bank of America predicts that prices will be up approximately 10% by the end of this year, while Fannie Mae estimates 11.2%.6,7

In addition to limited supply and a race to beat rising mortgage rates, home values are also climbing because of positive economic indicators, like low unemployment.8 Plus, rents are soaring–up 17% from a year ago–which is prompting more first-time homebuyers to enter the market.9 Add to that the continued popularity of remote work, and it’s easy to see why property prices continue to surge.

However, it’s not all bad news for prospective homebuyers. Economists expect that as mortgage rates rise, the rate of appreciation will continue to taper, though the effect may be gradual.

“Eventually mortgage rates will slow down home prices,” according to Ken Johnson, an economist at Florida Atlantic University interviewed by Marketwatch.10 “I should not see rapid upticks in prices as mortgage rates rise.” Forecasters agree—Fannie Mae expects price increases to slow to 4.2% in 2023.7


What does it mean for you?

While the pace of appreciation is likely to decrease next year, home prices show no signs of going down. However, current labor shortages are leading to higher salaries and better job opportunities for many workers. You may find that your income growth outpaces home prices, making homeownership more affordable for you in the future.

For homeowners, the outlook’s even brighter. You could find yourself sitting on a nice pile of equity. Contact me for a free home value assessment to find out.


INVENTORY REMAINS EXTREMELY LOW

As noted, one of the largest hurdles to homeownership is a lack of inventory. According to a February 2022 report by Realtor.com, there’s an expanding gap between household formation and home construction, which has resulted in a nationwide shortage of 5.8 million housing units.11

The origins of this shortage date back to the 2008 housing crisis, during which crashing home values led contractors to stop building new properties—a trend that has not been fully reversed.12

That decline in home construction also resulted in a decrease in the number of home building professionals, a trend that was exacerbated by job losses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, many builders are limited by their ability to find qualified labor.

Another major challenge is a staggering increase in the cost of materials. Pandemic-related supply chain shortages have been a significant driver, with home building material costs rising on average 20% on a year-over-year basis. The price of framing lumber alone has tripled since August 2021.13

These trends add tens of thousands of dollars to the cost of a typical home. Factors like a lack of buildable land in many areas, restrictive zoning, and a shortage of developers are also contributing to the issue.14

Most homebuying experts agree that the lack of inventory is the primary factor driving rising housing prices and unprecedented competition for homes. With available housing units near four-decade lows, the end of the current housing boom is not yet in sight.15


What does it mean for you?

Prospective buyers should be prepared to compete for a home, since low inventory can lead to multiple offers. You may also need to expand your search parameters. If you’re ready to look, I’m ready to help.

For sellers, the picture is rosier. In this strong market, your home may be worth more than you realize. Contact me to find out how much your home could sell for in today’s market.


I'M HERE TO GUIDE YOU

While national real estate trends can provide a “big picture” outlook, real estate is local. And as local market experts, I can guide you through the ins and outs of our market and the local issues that are likely to drive home values in your particular neighborhood.

If you’re considering buying or selling a home, contact me now to schedule a free consultation. I can help you assess your options and make the most of this unique real estate landscape.

Sources:

  1. Marketwatch - https://www.marketwatch.com/picks/home-price-appreciation-will-normalize-what-5-economists-and-real-estate-pros-predict-will-happen-to-home-prices-in-2022-01646940841
  2. Bankrate https://www.bankrate.com/mortgages/mortgage-rate-forecast
  3. CNBC - 
    https://www.cnbc.com/2022/04/16/heres-how-much-the-same-mortgage-costs-now-compared-to-last-year.html
  4. Fortune -
    https://fortune.com/2022/03/23/housing-market-interest-rate-economic-shock/
  5. National Association of Realtors -
    https://www.nar.realtor/blogs/economists-outlook/instant-reaction-mortgage-rates-april-07-2022
  6. Fortune -
    https://fortune.com/2022/03/16/home-prices-2022-2023-bank-of-america-forecast-mortgage-rates/
  7. Fortune -
    https://fortune.com/2022/03/07/what-home-prices-will-look-like-2023-fannie-mae/
  8. Fortune -
    https://fortune.com/2022/03/17/home-prices-drop-housing-markets-california-michigan-massachusetts-corelogic/
  9. CNN -
    https://www.cnn.com/2022/03/23/success/us-national-rent-february/index.html
  10. MarketWatch -
    https://www.marketwatch.com/story/home-prices-increase-at-one-of-the-fastest-rates-on-record-but-higher-mortgage-rates-should-slow-future-growth-11648559497
  11. Realtor.com -
    https://www.realtor.com/research/us-housing-supply-gap-expands/
  12. NPR -
    https://www.npr.org/2022/03/29/1089174630/housing-shortage-new-home-construction-supply-chain
  13. Investopedia -
    https://www.investopedia.com/housing-market-dips-in-early-march-2022-5222449
  14. NPR -
    https://www.npr.org/2022/03/29/1089174630/housing-shortage-new-home-construction-supply-chain
  15. Fortune -
    https://fortune.com/2022/03/14/housing-market-key-metric-inventory-zillow-bad-for-buyers/

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5 Ways to Write a Winning Offer in Today's Real Estate Market

Posted On: May 12th, 2022 5:43PM

5 Ways to Write a Winning Offer in Today's Real Estate Market


Our nation is in the midst of a serious housing crunch. Last year, a lack of inventory and soaring prices left many would-be homebuyers feeling pinched. But now, with interest rates climbing, many of them are also feeling desperate to lock in a mortgage—which has only added fuel to the fire.


Fortunately, if you’re a buyer struggling to find a home, I have some good news. While it’s true that higher mortgage rates can decrease your purchasing budget, there are additional ways to compete in a hot market.

Yes, a high offer price gets attention. But most sellers consider a variety of factors when evaluating an offer. With that in mind, here are five tactics you can utilize to outshine your competition.

I can help you weigh the risks and benefits of each tactic and craft a compelling offer designed to get you your dream home—without giving away the farm.


1. Demonstrate Solid Financing

The reality is, no one gets paid if a home sale falls through. That’s why sellers (and their listing agents) favor offers with a high probability of closing. Sellers particularly love all-cash offers because there’s no chance of financing issues cropping up at the last moment. But don’t despair if you can’t pay cash for your home. According to the National Association of Realtors, only about 1 in 4 home purchases are all-cash deals, which means the vast majority are financed with a mortgage. If sellers are assured that financing will come through, buying with a mortgage doesn’t have to be a big disadvantage. The most important step you can take as a buyer is to get preapproved before you start looking for homes. A preapproval letter shows sellers that you are serious about buying and that you will be able to make good on your offer. It’s also important to consider the reputation of your lender. While sellers may not know or care about a lender’s reputation, their agents often do. Some lenders are much easier to work with than others, especially if you are pursuing certain types of mortgages like FHA or VA loans. If so, you’ll want a lender who specializes in these types of mortgages. If you’re unsure who to choose, I am  happy to refer you to reputable lenders known for their service.

2. Put Down a Sizeable Deposit

Buyers can show sellers that they’re serious about their offer and have “skin in the game” by putting down a large earnest money deposit. Earnest money is a deposit held in escrow by the seller’s broker or lawyer here in Massachusetts. If the purchase goes through, it is applied to the down payment and closing costs—if the sale falls through, the buyer may lose some or all of that deposit. While an earnest money deposit is typically around 1-2% of the sale price, offering a higher deposit can help demonstrate to the buyer that you are serious about the property. However, this strategy can also be risky. I can help you determine an appropriate deposit to offer based on your specific circumstances.

3. Ask for Few (or No) Contingencies

Most real estate offers include contingencies, which are clauses that allow one or both parties to back out of the agreement if certain conditions are not met. These contingencies appear in the purchase agreement and must be accepted by both the buyer and seller to be legally binding.

Common contingencies include:
? Financing: A financing contingency gives the buyer a window of time in which to secure a mortgage. If they are unable to do so, they can withdraw from the purchase and the seller can move on to other buyers.
? Inspection: An inspection contingency gives the buyer the opportunity to have the home professionally inspected for issues with the structure, wiring, plumbing, etc. Typically, the seller may choose whether or not to remediate those issues; if they do not, the buyer may withdraw from the contract.
? Appraisal: Most lenders will not offer a mortgage on a home that costs more than it's worth. An appraisal contingency gives the buyer an opportunity to get the home professionally assessed to ensure that its value is at or above the sales price. If an appraisal comes in low, the seller may be asked to renegotiate the contract.
? Sale of a prior home: Some buyers cannot afford to purchase a new home until they sell their previous one. If the buyer is unable to sell their current home within a specified window of time, this contingency enables them to withdraw from the contract without penalty.

Since contingencies reduce the likelihood that a sale will go through, they generally make an offer less desirable to the seller. The more contingencies that are included, the weaker the offer becomes. Therefore, buyers in a competitive market often volunteer to waive certain contingencies.

However, it’s very important to make this decision carefully and recognize the risks of doing so. For example, a buyer who chooses to waive a home inspection contingency may find out too late that the home requires extensive renovations, and a buyer who waives the appraisal may risk their mortgage falling through. If you back out of a home purchase without the protection of a contingency, you could lose your earnest money deposit. I can help you assess the risks and benefits involved.

4. Offer a Flexible Closing Date and/or Leaseback Option

When it comes to selling a house, money isn’t everything. People sell their homes for a wide variety of reasons, and flexible terms that work with their personal situations can sometimes make all the difference. For example, if a seller is in the process of planning a significant move, they may prefer a longer closing timeline that gives them time to find housing in their new location.

Similarly, short-term leaseback options, in which the sale is completed but the seller retains the right to rent the home for a specified period of time, can be compelling. These arrangements enable the seller to use the money from the sale of their home to purchase their next house. A leaseback agreement also makes it possible for them to avoid moving twice when their next home is not yet ready to occupy.

Flexible closing dates and leaseback options can provide a powerful advantage for first-time homebuyers. If you have a month-to-month or easily transferable lease, for example, you may be able to offer a more flexible timeline than a buyer who is simultaneously selling their existing home.

Of course, the value of these terms depends on the seller’s situation. I can reach out to the listing agent to find out the seller’s preferred terms, and then collaborate with you to write a compelling offer that works for both parties.

5. Work With a Skilled Buyer’s Agent

In this ultra-competitive real estate market, one of the greatest advantages you can give yourself is to work with a skilled and trustworthy real estate professional. We will make sure you fully understand the process and help you submit an appealing offer without taking on too much risk.

Plus, we know how to write offers that are designed to win over both the seller and their listing agent. The truth is, listing agents play a huge role in helping sellers evaluate offers, and they want to work with skilled buyer’s agents who are professional, communicative, and courteous.

Once your offer is accepted, we’ll also handle any further negotiations and coordinate all the paperwork and other details involved in your home purchase. The best part is, you’ll have a knowledgeable, licensed advocate on your side who is watching out for your best interests every step of the way.

 

Helping You Get to the Right Offer

In many cases, a competitive offer doesn’t need to be all-cash, contingency-free, or significantly above asking price. But if you’re serious about buying a home in today’s market, it’s important to consider what you can do to sweeten the deal.If you’re a buyer, we can help you compete in today’s market without getting steamrolled. And if you’re a seller, we can help you evaluate offers by taking all the relevant factors into account. Contact me today to schedule a free consultation.


Sources:
1. National Association of Realtors -
https://www.nar.realtor/newsroom/pending-home-sales-dwindle-4-1-in-february
2. National Association of Realtors -
https://www.nar.realtor/newsroom/existing-home-sales-fade-7-2-in-february
3. Forbes -
https://www.forbes.com/advisor/mortgages/housing-crisis-tips/
4. Realtor.com -
https://www.realtor.com/advice/finance/earnest-money-deposit-mistakes-buyers-make/
5. Bankrate -
https://www.bankrate.com/real-estate/contingency-clause/
6. Home Buying Institute -
http://www.homebuyinginstitute.com/mortgage/risks-of-waiving-a-contingency/
7. Realtor.com -
https://www.realtor.com/advice/sell/what-is-a-rent-back-agreement

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Seller's Checklist: A Timeline to Prep Your Home for Sale

Posted On: April 1st, 2022 4:48PM

Sellers checklist : A timeline to prep your homeSeller’s Checklist: A Timeline to Prep Your Home for Sale

 

 

We’re still in a seller’s market, but that doesn’t mean your home is guaranteed to easily sell.1 (The word “easily usually equates to $$$) If you want to maximize your sale price, it’s still important to prepare your home before putting it on the market.

 

Start by connecting with a real estate agent, such as myself, as soon as possible. Having the eyes and ears of an insightful real estate professional on your side can help you boost your home’s appeal to buyers. What’s more, beginning the preparation process early allows you to tackle repairs and upgrades that can increase your property’s value.

 

Use the checklist below to figure out what other tasks you should complete in the months leading up to listing your home. While everyone’s situation is unique, these guidelines will help you make sure you’re ready to sell when the time is right. Of course, you can always call us if you’re not sure where to start or what to tackle first. I can help customize a plan that works for you.

 

 

AS SOON AS YOU THINK OF SELLING

 

Some home sellers want to plan their future move far in advance, while others will be required to pack up on very short notice. Whatever your circumstances, these first steps will help assure you’ll be ahead of the listing game.

 

  • Contact Your Real Estate Agent

 

I go the extra mile when it comes to servicing my clients, and that includes a series of complimentary, pre-listing consultations to help you prepare your home for the market.

 

Some sellers make the mistake of waiting until they are ready to list their home to contact a real estate agent. But I have found that the earlier I’m brought into the process, the better the result. That often means a faster sale—and more money in your pocket after closing.

 

I know what buyers want in today’s market, and I can help devise a plan to maximize your property’s appeal. I can also connect you with my trusted network of contractors, vendors, and service professionals, so you’ll be sure to get the VIP treatment. This network of support can alleviate stress and help ensure you get everything done in the weeks or months leading up to listing.

 

  • Address Major Issues and Upgrades

 

In most cases, you won’t need to make any major renovations before you list. But if you’re selling an older home, or if you have any doubt about its condition, it’s best to get me involved as soon as possible so I can help you assess any necessary repairs.

 

In some instances, I may recommend a pre-listing inspection. Although it's less common in a seller's market, a pre-listing inspection can help you avoid potential surprises down the road. We can discuss the pros and cons during our initial meeting.

 

This is the time to address major structural, systems, or cosmetic issues that could hurt the sale of your home down the line. For example, problems with the frame, foundation, or roof are likely to be flagged on an inspection report. Issues with the HVAC system, electrical wiring, or plumbing may cause the home to be unsafe. And sometimes outdated or unpopular design features can limit a home’s sales potential.

 

Remember, when you’re dealing with major repairs or renovations, it’s best to give yourself as much time as possible. Given rampant labor and material shortages, starting right away can help you avoid costly delays.2 Contact me so I can guide you on the updates that are worth your time and investment. In some case, selling your home “as is” makes the most sense as the buyers today are accepting more than they have in the past.

 

 

1 MONTH (OR MORE) BEFORE YOU LIST

 

Once any large-scale renovations have been addressed, you can turn your attention to the more minor updates that still play a major role in how buyers perceive your home.

 

  • Make Minor Repairs

 

Look for any unaddressed maintenance or repair issues, such as water spots, pest activity, and rotten siding. This is the time to take care of those small annoyances like squeaky hinges, sticking doors, and leaky faucets, too.

 

Many of these issues can be handled by going the DIY route and using a few simple tools. Tackle the ones you can and be sure to call a professional for the ones you’re not comfortable doing yourself. I can refer you to local service providers who can help.

 

Remember that it’s easy to overlook these small issues because you live with them. When you work with me, you get a fresh set of eyes on your home—so you don’t miss any important repairs that could make a big difference to buyers.

 

  • Refresh Your Design

 

This is a great time to think about some simple design updates that can make a significant impression on buyers. For example, a fresh coat of paint is an easy and affordable way to spruce up your home. One survey found that interior paint offered a 107% return on investment.3 For broad appeal, opt for warm, neutral colors.

 

And never underestimate the importance of good curb appeal. Homes with good curb appeal sell for 7% more, on average, than similar homes with an “uninviting exterior.”4 If weather permits, lay fresh sod where needed, plant colorful flowers, and add some new mulch to your beds.

 

Even just repositioning your furniture can make a huge difference to buyers. A survey by the Real Estate Staging Association found that staged homes sold faster, and 73% sold over list price.5 I can refer you to a local stager or offer our insights and suggestions if you prefer the DIY route.

 

  • Declutter and Depersonalize

 

Doing a little bit of decluttering every day is a lot easier than trying to take care of it all at once right before your home hits the market. A simple strategy is to do this one room at a time, working your way through each space whenever you have a bit of free time.

 

Start by donating or discarding items that you no longer want or need. Then pack up any seasonal items, family photos, and personal collections you can live without for the next few weeks. Bonus: This will give you a head start on packing for your move!

Remember, there is a fine line between staged and sterile. A generally agreed upon design practice is to limit the number of times the eye stops. For example:  Instead of 5 pieces of art on the walls or items on surfaces, consider limited it to 1-3 items.

 

 

1 WEEK BEFORE YOU GO TO MARKET

 

With just one week before your home is available for sale, all major items should be crossed off your to-do list. Now it’s time to focus on the small details that will really make your home shine. Here are a few key areas to focus on during this last week.

 

  • Check-In With Your Agent

 

We’ll connect again to make sure we’re aligned on the listing price, marketing plan, and any remaining prep. I will be there every step of the way, ensuring you’re fully prepared to maximize the sale of your home.

 

  • Tidy Your Exterior

 

You’ve already done the major landscaping—now it’s time to tackle the last few details. Make sure your lawn is freshly mowed, hedges are trimmed, and flower beds are weeded.

 

In addition, now is the time to clean your home’s exterior if you haven’t already. Power wash your siding, empty the gutters, and wash all your windows and screens.

 

  • Deep Clean Your Interior

 

Your house should be deep cleaned before listing, including a thorough deodorizing of the home’s interior and steam cleaning for all carpets. Consider hiring a bonded, professional cleaning company to ensure the space smells and looks as fresh as possible.

 

In addition to cleaning, take some time to tidy up. Buyers will look inside your closets, pantries, and cabinets, so make sure they are neat and organized. Small appliances and toiletries should be cleared off the countertops.

 

 

DAY OF SHOWING

 

Now you’re all set to go and there are just a few small things you need to handle on the day of showings or open houses. Do a final walk-through and take care of these finishing touches to give potential buyers the best possible impression.

 

  • Pre-Showing Prep

 

Happy and comfortable buyers are more likely to submit offers! Make them feel at home by adjusting the thermostat to a comfortable temperature. Open any blinds and curtains throughout the house, and turn on all lights so buyers can see all the potential in your home.

 

Then tidy up by vacuuming and sweeping floors, emptying (or hiding) trash cans, and wiping down countertops. In the bathrooms, close toilet lids and hang clean hand towels.

 

Don’t forget to secure firearms, jewelry, sensitive documents, prescription medications, and any other items of value in a safe or store them off-site.

 

Finally, it’s best to have pets out of the house during showings. If possible, you should also remove evidence of pets (litter box, dog beds, etc.), which can be a turn-off for some buyers.

 

 

DON’T WAIT TO PREP YOUR HOME FOR SELLING

 

If you want to get top dollar for your home, don’t put it on the market before it’s ready. The right preparation can make all the difference when it comes to maximizing the offers you get. The upgrades and changes you need to make will depend upon your home’s condition, so don’t wait to speak with an agent.

 

Call me if you’re thinking about selling your home, even if you’re not sure when. It’s never too early to seek the guidance of your real estate agent and start preparing your home to sell.

 

THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM: HOW WILL YOU BUY A NEW HOME IF YOU HAVE TO SELL YOURS FIRST?

 

This is one of the biggest reasons for the lack of inventory and is very difficult for homeowners to envision.  Often, people think they need to have a place to stay between selling and purchasing. This is not the case.  I will help you customize a plan that works for your specific situation. Preparation is key so if you are thinking of making a move, please contact me as soon as possible.

 

 

Sources:

  1. Fortune -
    https://fortune.com/2022/02/08/should-i-buy-house-sellers-market-housing-real-estate-fannie-mae/
  2. Forbes -
    https://www.forbes.com/advisor/home-improvement/labor-materials-shortage-impacts-renovations/
  3. PR Web -
    https://www.prweb.com/releases/2012-homegain/home-improvement-survey/prweb9433460.htm
  4. Realtor Magazine -
    https://magazine.realtor/daily-news/2020/01/27/how-much-does-curb-appeal-affect-home-value
  5. Real Estate Staging Association -
    https://www.realestatestagingassociation.com/content.aspx?page_id=22&club_id=304550&module_id=164548

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Hedge Against Inflation With These 3 Real Estate Investment Types

Posted On: March 2nd, 2022 3:28PM

Hedge Against Inflation With These 3 Types of Real Estate Investments

 

 

The annual inflation rate in the United States is currently around 7.5%—the highest it has been since 1982.1 It doesn’t matter if you’re a cashier, lawyer, plumber, or retiree; if you spend U.S. dollars, inflation impacts you.

 

Economists expect the effects of inflation, like a higher cost of goods, to continue.2 Luckily, an investment in real estate can ease some of the financial strain.

 

Here’s what you need to know about inflation, how it impacts you, and how an investment in real estate can help.

 

 

WHAT IS INFLATION AND HOW DOES IT IMPACT ME?

 

Inflation is a decline in the value of money. When the rate of inflation rises, prices for goods and services go up. Therefore, a dollar buys you a little bit less with every passing day.

 

The consumer price index, or CPI, is a standard measure of inflation. Based on the latest CPI data, prices increased 7.5% from January 2021 to January 2022.1 A little bit of inflation is considered healthy for the economy, but 7.5% in a single year is high.

 

How does inflation affect your life? Here are a few of the negative impacts:

 

  • Decreased Purchasing Power

We touched on this already, but as prices rise, your dollar won’t stretch as far as it used to. That means you’ll be able to purchase fewer goods and services with a limited budget.

 

  • Increased Borrowing Costs

In an effort to curb inflation, the Federal Reserve is expected to raise the federal funds rate. Therefore, consumers are likely to pay a higher interest rate on new mortgages, car loans, and variable-rate credit cards.3

 

  • Lower Standard of Living

Wage growth tends to be behind price increases. According to Moody Analytics, when adjusted for inflation, average weekly earnings in January were down 3.1% from a year earlier.4 As such, life is becoming less affordable for everyone. Inflation can force those on a fixed income, like retirees, to make lifestyle changes and prioritize essentials.

 

  • Eroded Savings

If you store all your savings in a bank account, inflation is even more damaging. As of February 2022, the national average interest rate for a savings account is 0.06%, not nearly enough to keep up with inflation. And economists don’t expect that rate to go much higher.3

 

One of the best ways to mitigate these effects is to find a place to invest your money other than the bank. Even though interest rates are expected to rise, they’re unlikely to get high enough to beat inflation. If you hoard cash, the value of your money will decrease every year and more rapidly in years with elevated inflation.

 

 

REAL ESTATE: A PROVEN HEDGE AGAINST INFLATION

 

So where is a good place to invest your money to protect (hedge) against the impacts of inflation? There are several investment vehicles that financial advisors traditionally recommend, including:

 

  • Stocks

Some people invest in stocks as their primary inflation hedge. However, the stock market can become volatile during inflationary times, as we’ve seen in recent months.5

 

  • Commodities

Commodities are tangible assets, like oil, livestock, and minerals. The theory is that the price of commodities should climb alongside inflation. But the classic choice–gold–hasn’t risen consistently during periods of inflation since the 1970s, according to data from Morningstar Direct.6

 

  • Inflation-Indexed Bonds

Treasury inflation-protected securities, or TIPS, are U.S. government-issued bonds that are indexed to the inflation rate. Bonds are considered low risk, but the returns they offer are generally low, as well.7

  • Real Estate
    Real estate prices across the board tend to rise along with inflation and often rise faster than inflation.8 That’s one of the reasons demand for real estate is soaring right now.9

 

We believe real estate is the best hedge against inflation. Owning real estate does more than protect your wealth—it can actually make you money. For example, home prices rose nearly 17% from 2020 to 2021, 10% ahead of the 7% inflation that occurred in the same timeframe.10

 

Plus, certain types of real estate investments can help you generate a stream of passive income. In the past year, property owners didn’t just avoid the erosion of purchasing power caused by inflation; they got ahead.

 

 

TYPES OF REAL ESTATE INVESTMENTS

 

Though there are many ways to invest in real estate, there are three basic investment types that are recommend for beginner and intermediate investors. Remember that I can help you determine which options are best for your financial goals and budget.

 

  • Primary Residence

 

If you own your home, you’re already ahead. The advantages of homeownership become even more apparent in inflationary times. As inflation raises prices throughout the economy, the value of your home is likely to go up concurrently. At the same time, you’ve locked in a set mortgage payment for the next 30 years, so you’ll be immune to rising rental costs.

 

If you don’t already own your primary residence, homeownership is a worthwhile goal to pursue.

Though the task of saving enough for a down payment may seem daunting, there are several strategies that can make homeownership easier to achieve. If you’re not sure how to get started with the home buying process, contact me. I can help you find the strategy and property that fits your needs and budget.

 

Whether you already own a primary residence or are still renting, now is a good time to also start thinking about an investment property. The types of investment properties you’ll buy as a solo investor generally fall into two categories: long-term rentals and short-term rentals.

 

  • Long-Term (Traditional) Rentals

 

A long-term or traditional rental is a dwelling that’s leased out for an extended period. An example of this is a single-family home where a tenant signs a one-year lease and brings all their own furniture.

 

Long-term rentals are a form of housing. For most tenants, the rental serves as their primary residence, which means it’s a necessary expense. This unique quality of long-term rentals can help to provide stable returns in uncertain times, especially when we have high inflation.

 

To invest in a long-term rental, you’ll need to budget for maintenance, repairs, property taxes, and insurance. You’ll also need to have a plan for managing the property. But a well-chosen investment property should pay for itself through rental income, and you’ll benefit from appreciation as the property rises in value.

 

We can help you find an ideal long-term rental property to suit your budget and investment goals. Reach out to talk about your needs and our local market opportunities.

 

  • Short-Term (Vacation) Rentals

 

Short-term or vacation rentals function more like hotels in that they offer temporary accommodations. A short-term rental is defined as a residential dwelling that is rented for 30 days or less. The furniture and other amenities are provided by the property owner, and today many short-term rentals are listed on websites like Airbnb and Vrbo.

 

A short-term rental can potentially earn you a higher return than a long-term rental, but this comes at the cost of daily, hands-on management. With a short-term rental, you’re not just entering the real estate business; you’re entering the hospitality business, too.

 

Done right, short-term rentals can be both a hedge against inflation and a profitable source of income. As a bonus, when the home isn’t being rented you have an affordable vacation spot for yourself and your family!

 

Contact me today if you’re interested in exploring options in either the long-term or short-term rental market. Mortgage rates are expected to rise, so you’ll want to act fast to maximize your investment return.

 

 

I’M INVESTED IN HELPING YOU

 

Inflation is a fact of life in the U.S. economy. Luckily, you can prepare for inflation with a carefully managed investment portfolio that includes real estate. Owning a primary residence or investing in a short-term or long-term rental will help you both mitigate the effects of inflation and grow your net worth, which makes it a strategic move in our current financial environment.

 

If you’re ready to invest in real estate to build wealth and protect yourself from rising inflation, contact me. My team can help you find a primary residence or investment property that meets your financial goals.

 

 

The above references an opinion and is for informational purposes only.  It is not intended to be financial advice. Consult the appropriate professionals for advice regarding your individual needs.

 

 

Sources:

 

  1. Bloomberg -
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-02-10/u-s-inflation-charges-higher-with-larger-than-forecast-gain
  2. CNN -
    https://www.cnn.com/2022/01/01/economy/inflation-prices-2022-preview/index.html
  3. CNBC -
    https://www.cnbc.com/2022/01/26/the-fed-sets-the-stage-for-a-rate-hike-heres-what-that-means-for-you.html
  4. Reuters -
    https://www.reuters.com/business/us-consumer-prices-rise-strongly-january-weekly-jobless-claims-fall-2022-02-10/
  5. NBC News -
    https://www.nbcnews.com/business/markets/market-slide-dow-falls-700-points-sp-enters-correction-territory-rcna13304
  6. CNBC -
    https://www.cnbc.com/2021/12/20/gold-is-losing-its-status-as-an-inflation-hedge-two-traders-warn.html
  7. Morningstar -
    https://www.morningstar.com/articles/1079158/why-are-inflation-protected-bond-funds-losing-money
  8. The Washington Post -
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2022/01/04/heres-how-inflation-could-affect-your-next-real-estate-move/
  9. Bloomberg -
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-01-24/is-real-estate-a-good-investment-hedge-against-inflation-what-the-experts-say
  10. CNN -
    https://www.cnn.com/2022/01/20/homes/us-nar-home-sales-december-and-2021/index.html

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