Are you planning to buy a home this spring? Though things are more balanced than they were at the height of the pandemic, it’s still a sellers’ market. So, when you find the home you want to buy, remember these four tips to make your best offer.
1. Lean on a Real Estate Professional
Rely on an agent who can support your goals. As Bankrate notes:
“. . . select the best real estate agent for your needs. They will be a critical part of your home buying process.”
Agents are local market experts. They know what’s worked for other buyers in your area and what sellers may be looking for in an offer. It may seem simple, but catering to what a seller needs can help your offer stand out.
2. Know Your Budget
Understanding your budget is especially important right now. As Sandy Higgins, Senior Wealth Advisor at Capstone Financial Advisors, puts it:
“Understand your current budget … what are your expenses, how’s your spending, would you need to make changes?”
The best way to understand your numbers is to work with a lender so you can get pre-approved for a loan. It helps you be more financially confident, and it shows sellers you’re serious. That can give you a competitive edge.
3. Think Through Everything Before Making an Offer
Today’s market isn’t moving at the record pace it did during the pandemic. That means you may have a bit more time to think before you need to make an offer. According to Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at realtor.com:
“In general, you likely have more time to make an offer, although that’s certainly not a guarantee. If you’re on the fence about a home or its asking price doesn’t quite fit your budget, you might want to keep an eye on it, and if it doesn’t sell right away, you may have some room to negotiate with the seller.”
While it’s still important to stay on top of the market and be prepared to move quickly, there can be more flexibility today. Lean on the advice of your agent as you explore the options in your market.
4. Work with Your Advisor To Negotiate
During the pandemic, some buyers skipped home inspections or didn’t ask for concessions from the seller in order to submit the winning bid on a home. Fortunately, today’s market is different, and you may have more negotiating power than before. When putting together an offer, your trusted real estate advisor will help you think through what levers to pull.
When you buy a home this spring, work with a real estate advisor to make your best offer.
Reach out to us at 508-207-2501 or 508-726-0622
Thanks to KCM for this great article!
After steadily falling over the winter, mortgage rates have started to rise in recent weeks. This is concerning to some potential homebuyers as the combination of higher mortgage rates and higher prices have made homes less affordable. So, if you’re planning to purchase a home this year, you too may be wondering if now’s the right time to buy or if you should hold off on your search until rates come back down.
The recent uptick in rates has been driven by what’s happening with inflation. Joel Kan, Vice President and Deputy Chief Economist at the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), explains:
“Mortgage rates increased across the board last week, pushed higher by market expectations that inflation will persist, thus requiring the Federal Reserve to keep monetary policy restrictive for a longer time.”
The most recent weekly average 30-year fixed mortgage rate reported by Freddie Mac is 6.5%. It’s the third week in a row that rates have increased and puts them at the highest point they’ve been this year (see graph below):
Advice for Home Shoppers
If you’re thinking about pausing your home search because rates have started to go up again, you may want to reconsider. This could actually be an opportunity to buy the home you’ve been searching for. According to the MBA, mortgage applications declined by 13.3% in just one week, so it appears the rise in mortgage rates is leading some potential homebuyers to pull back on their search for a new home.
So, what does that mean for you? If you stay the course, you’ll likely face less competition among other buyers when you’re looking for a home. This is welcome relief in a market that has so few homes for sale.
Over the last few weeks, mortgage rates have risen. But that doesn’t mean you should delay your plans to buy a home. In fact, it could mean the opposite if you want to take advantage of less buyer competition. Let’s connect today to explore the options in our local market.
Thanks KCM for this great article!
According to a recent Harris Poll survey, 8 in 10 Americans say buying a home is a priority, and 28 million Americans actually plan to buy within the next 12 months. Homeownership provides many financial and nonfinancial benefits, so that interest is understandable.
However, it’s unlikely all 28 million Americans will accomplish that goal in the coming year. Experts project a total of around five million homes will be sold in 2023. Why is there such a big difference? It’s partly because there can be challenges to buying a home.
In the same survey, when asked, “Which of the following are preventing you from pursuing homeownership at this time?”:
Save for Your Down Payment
Your down payment is a big chunk of what you pay up front for your home. For most home purchases, buyers put down some amount of cash up front (a down payment) and then take out a loan (a mortgage) to pay for the rest.
It’s a longstanding myth that you need to pay 20% of the purchase price for your down payment. In reality, 20% down isn’t always required. In fact, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), today’s median down payment is 14% for the average buyer and just 6% for a first-time buyer.
Regardless of how much money you can save for your down payment, know there’s help available. A local lender can show you options to help you get closer to your down payment goal. Plus, there are even loan types, like FHA loans, with down payments as low as 3.5% for some buyers, as well as options like VA loans and USDA loans with no down payment requirements for qualified applicants.
Beyond assistance programs and different loan types, here are a few other tips to help you as you save for your down payment:
Your credit score is a number that indicates how financially reliable you are to lenders. A higher credit score usually means you’ll be able to borrow more money at a better interest rate. If your credit score is preventing you from getting an affordable mortgage, there are steps you can take to improve it. Here are two:
If you want to purchase a home this year, contact a trusted real estate advisor so you can to build your team of professionals and start preparing.
*We've got lenders and attorneys ready to help!
Thanks KCM for this great article!
Before you buy a home, it’s important to plan ahead. While most buyers consider how much they need to save for a down payment, many are surprised by the closing costs they have to pay. To ensure you aren’t caught off guard when it’s time to close on your home, you need to understand what closing costs are and how much you should budget for!
What Are Closing Costs?
People are sometimes surprised by closing costs because they don’t know what they are. According to Bankrate:
“Closing costs are the fees and expenses you must pay before becoming the legal owner of a house, condo or townhome . . . Closing costs vary depending on the purchase price of the home and how it’s being financed . . .”
In other words, your closing costs are a collection of fees and payments involved with your transaction. According to Freddie Mac, while they can vary by location and situation, closing costs typically include:
Understanding what closing costs include is important, but knowing what you’ll need to budget to cover them is critical, too. According to the Freddie Mac article mentioned above, the costs to close are typically between 2% and 5% of the total purchase price of your home. With that in mind, here’s how you can get an idea of what you’ll need to cover your closing costs.
Let’s say you find a home you want to purchase for the median price of $366,900. Based on the 2-5% Freddie Mac estimate, your closing fees could be between roughly $7,500 and $18,500.
Keep in mind, if you’re in the market for a home above or below this price range, your closing costs will be higher or lower.
What’s the Best Way To Make Sure You’re Prepared at Closing Time?
Freddie Mac provides great advice for homebuyers, saying:
“As you start your homebuying journey, take the time to get a sense of all costs involved – from your down payment to closing costs.”
**Work with a team of trusted real estate professionals to understand exactly how much you’ll need to budget for closing costs. An agent can help connect you with a lender, and together your expert team can answer any questions you might have.
Reach out to us with questions - call Missy and Ruth. :)
It’s important to plan for the fees and payments you’ll be responsible for at closing. Let’s connect so I can help you feel confident throughout the process.
Thanks to Simplifying the Market!
The biggest challenge in the housing market right now, and likely for years to come, is how few homes there are for sale compared to the number of people who want to buy. That’s why, if you’re thinking about selling your house, this is a great time to do so. Your house would be welcome in a market that has fewer homes for sale than it did in the years leading up to the pandemic.
According to the latest Monthly Housing Market Trends Report from realtor.com:
“There were 65.5% more homes for sale in January compared to the same time in 2022. This means that there were 248,000 more homes available to buy this past month compared to one year ago. While the number of homes for sale is increasing, it is still 43.2% lower than it was before the pandemic in 2017 to 2019. This means that there are still fewer homes available to buy on a typical day than there were a few years ago.”
What Does This Mean for You? Fewer homes for sale means buyers have fewer choices than they did prior to the pandemic—and that frustration is leading some to give up on the homebuying process altogether. But with mortgage rates sitting lower than they were at the peak last fall, more buyers are willing to come back into the process—they just need to find homes to buy. This is welcome activity for the spring market, especially if you’re thinking of selling your house.
With a renewed interest in buying a home for many, the New York Times (NYT) reports:
“Home buyers are edging back into the market after being sidelined last year . . .”
So, if you want to take advantage of a sweet spot in the market, this spring could be your shot.
Bottom Line: The housing market needs more homes for sale to meet the demand of today’s buyers. If you’ve thought about selling, now’s the time to connect with a local expert and get ready to make a move this spring.
The graph at the below shows how today’s inventory of homes for sale compares to recent years:
Thanks, KCM for the great article!
Kitchen Remodeling Guide
Remodeling your kitchen is one of the wisest home upgrades, considering the financial return on your investment and the livability factor. As a space that is typically the hub of the home and gets the most use, having a kitchen that functions as efficiently as possible and aligns with your aesthetic results in a space that you will crave spending time in. If you have a kitchen remodel in your short-term plans, use this kitchen remodeling guide to know what to expect.
Spend the Most Time Planning
Planning, and even over planning, every detail will result in a space that achieves your must-have list of features and design elements and will be the best way to stay within budget. Every change you make during a renovation requires a change order, which is a subsequent fee and will cause the overall costs to rise very quickly.
Factors to Consider During Planning
Knowing the materials you want to include in the project will enable your builder or contractor to give you the most accurate estimate. This will ensure your project stays on budget and allow the most time for items on backorder to arrive when it’s time for the installation.
Plan for Going Over Budget and Past the Timeline
No matter how meticulously planned the kitchen is, you may slightly exceed your budget. To avoid any surprises, plan for overage costs of approximately 20%. Additionally, your project will likely extend past the promised completion date. If you are determined to be in the home before the holidays, plan on starting the project several months earlier than you originally intended.
Don’t Skimp on Storage
When in doubt, add more storage instead of more space. Taking the cabinets to the ceiling will offer more storage throughout the kitchen, and customizing the cabinets and drawers to maximize storage solutions will ensure you take advantage of every square inch.
Your builder or contractor should be proactively communicating with you during your renovation, but if they aren’t, stay on top of regular communication. Check in on the project daily, maintain regular email or texting updates and communicate any concerns before they evolve into more significant issues.
Looking for reliable contractors? Reach out to us! 508-207-2501 or 508-726-0622
Source: RIS Media
A credit card is one of the main ways to build credit. By using a credit card wisely and not running up huge bills and paying them off in full on time, consumers can improve their credit score. A good credit score can make getting a home, car and other loans easier, and at better interest rates. Some people who have poor credit may have difficulty improving their credit score fast enough, and others may not even want a credit card. A credit card isn’t the only way to build credit. Here are some other ways:
Get a small loan
Apply for a small loan from your bank or credit union. If you’ve had an account in good standing for a few years, you should be able to get a small loan.
Some banks may only offer secured loans, meaning you’ll have to come up with some collateral such as a car to qualify for the loan. However you get a bank loan, pay it back on time and your credit score should improve.
Monitor student loan payments
You should be working hard to pay all of your loans on time. Repaying student loans on time will help build your credit as much as any other loan. On the opposite side, missing a student loan payment can hurt your credit score.
Ask utility providers for help
Electricity, gas, cable TV, internet and other utility providers report delinquencies to the credit bureaus. Some, however, also report positive payment history, such as on-time payments, to the credit bureaus.
Call your utility providers to see if they report positive payment history, which can improve your credit score. If they don’t, ask if they can give you a letter of reference in support of a credit application.
Report rent payments
Just like utility companies, not all landlords report on-time payments to credit bureaus. Ask your landlord if positive rent history is reported. If not, ask if it can use a third-party website such as Rental Kharma to verify your rent payments each month.
Another way is to sign up with a rent payment service that uses Experian’s RentBureau. Your rent is paid through the service and independent verification that you’ve paid your rent on time isn’t needed.
Become an authorized user
A friend or family member who has excellent credit can add you to their credit card as an authorized user. It allows you to use their credit card and share their credit limit.
As long as the main card holder pays the bill on time every month and keeps the balance low in relation to their credit limit, your credit score may benefit. Check first that the card issuer reports authorized users to the credit bureaus.
You won’t be responsible for paying the bill, so being an authorized user won’t help your credit profile a lot, but it will help some if it’s reported.
Feel free to contact us for other helpful information.
Are you having trouble communicating with your partner, friends or colleagues? Do you forget what your friend just told you only minutes after the conversation ended? In a world geared toward multitasking, it can be hard to drop fully into a conversation and just listen. Below are three tips to help you be more present in your conversations.
Ask questions. Don’t just smile and nod. Make your conversation partner feel more heard by asking questions that are relative to what they’re saying. Ask for more details to dig deeper and listen fully.
Repeat what you heard. Every few minutes, repeat what you heard so you know you’re retaining important information. This will also help you avoid accidental miscommunications.
Wait to offer a solution. When we’re listening to a friend with a problem, our go-to response is often to fill silence with a solution, but sometimes, we just need to feel heard and understand. You can even ask your friend if they’re looking for a solution or just space to vent.
If you love the idea of filling your home with greenery and life, houseplants may be your next decor solution. But, if you are short on time because of your job or family, or simply don’t have a green thumb, it may seem impossible to take on this responsibility. There are, however, plenty of low maintenance plants out there for those who are either busy, inexperienced or have what they consider a black thumb. Here are five houseplants that you can add to your home without worry about them taking up too much of your time and energy.
If you’re looking for a stylish, yet low maintenance plant, this is a great start, especially for beginners. Snake plants thrive in any lighting or humidity conditions, making it a great choice for any space, whether the kitchen, bedroom, bathroom or office. These plants also don’t need to be watered daily, but in fact can go two to three weeks between watering.
Similar to the snake plant, ponytail palm can thrive in almost any condition. Classified as a succulent, this plant doesn’t need water often, only every 2 – 3 weeks, or even longer. Though it doesn’t require direct sunlight, this plant would do best in a brightly lit space, such as a living room.
This is a great choice for a low maintenance indoor plant, especially for those who work in an office away from a window. They can thrive in very low light, but still do well in bright, direct sunlight. ZZ plants are able to store water in their stems, so even if you forget to water it for two weeks, it will still survive.
This adaptable house plant can survive in many environmental conditions and maintenance levels, making this a top option for black thumbs. They do extremely well in hanging planters and in both high, medium and low light. Though they require more watering, about every 1 – 2 weeks, they are known to be almost impossible to kill and can survive some neglect.
This is a stylish and unique option if you’re looking to add some greenery to your bathroom. Philodendrons thrive in humid environments and indirect sunlight. Because it likes humidity, this may not be a great option for bedrooms or living rooms, especially in warmer climates where the house is constantly air conditioned. If it is watered every 1 – 2 weeks, there is a high chance for growth within a year, however, growth also depends on the amount of light it receives.
No matter how hard you try to keep your home organized, you may find that either you or your family members have bad habits that undo all of your efforts. There are often hotspots around the house for clutter, from the kitchen to the bedroom, and once you fall into certain habits, they can be hard to break. Here are some common household habits that cause home clutter and solutions to keep your home organized.
Tossing Items Into a Closet
In almost every home, there is a closet that holds a bunch of different items. From linens to cleaning products to winter coats stored away, this space can quickly become a catch-all for things you don’t use daily or are simply hiding away when family and friends visit. With a cluttered closet like this, it can be hard to find the things you need.
Solution: Instead of tossing these items into the dark depth of a closet, create a system. Install shelves from the floor up. This will help determine how much space you have for storage. Use bins, baskets or boxes with labels so nothing will be missed. For items that don’t belong together, such as cleaning supplies and winter coats, find appropriate homes for these items in different areas of the home.
Throwing Mail on the Counter
One of the most common causes of kitchen clutter is stacking piles of mail and paper on the counter. Come home, check the mailbox, head inside and toss it out of your way, as the last thing you want to do after a long day is sift through your bills. Not only can this cause clutter and stress, but it also takes up valuable counter space.
Solution: Start with an organization system for your mail. Place a stylish, yet discrete tray on your entryway table or kitchen counter where you can place your mail until you are ready to read it. Avoid mixing important mail, like bills and insurance information, with junk mail, like menus and unwanted catalogs, by placing a simple, design-friendly waste basket in your entryway. Just be sure to take one or two days a week to go through your tray and empty out your wastebasket to keep it from overflowing.
Leaving Shoes Around the House
If you have a family full of children, it’s common to find their shoes strewn across the house. From a pile of sneakers in the entryway to a pair of shoes on the living room floor, this can quickly become a tripping hazard, in addition to adding unwanted clutter and dragging dirt and grime throughout your home.
Solution: Put a shoe rack in your entryway, mudroom or garage to keep shoes organized and reduce the amount of dirt tracked throughout your home. If you have a closet by your door, consider adding shelving to the bottom to create your own shoe rack that is also hidden behind the door, clearing up space to reduce clutter and tripping hazards. Consider putting shoe racks in every bedroom as well to store shoes for different seasons.
Piling Dirty (and Clean) Clothes on a Chair
Whether you get home from a tough workout at the gym or you are tackling multiple home chores at once, clothes often don’t find their way to the dresser, closet or hamper. Clean clothes may get folded, but never put away, sitting on a chair in your bedroom. Dirty clothes may end up piling up on the bathroom floor or in a corner of the bedroom. Either way, this causes clutter that can result in a musty smell and increased dust.
Solution: Invest in a few hampers with lids and place them in convenient locations throughout your home. Place one in the bathroom (or two, one for clothes and one for towels) and one in each bedroom for dirty laundry. This will give you a place to store your dirty laundry without being able to see it everywhere. For clean laundry, get in the habit of putting it away immediately. Keep spare hangers near the washer and dryer for easy organization. Working with labels on dressers and in bins and baskets in the closet can also prompt you to stick to an organizational system.
I am a 20 year educator turned realtor! I love my family, my animals and of course real estate!