Tuesday, July 4, 2017
DAILY REAL ESTATE NEWS | TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 06, 2016
Home buyers get a lot of advice from friends and family – some good, some bad. A lot of myths can pop up and negatively guide their home purchasing experience. Make sure your clients don’t fall for one of these common buying falsehoods.
1. The only upfront cost is the down payment.
Buyers need to be prepared for several expenses – everything from fees, taxes, costs for inspections, credit reports, insurance, and others. Closing costs can be anywhere from 3 percent to 6 percent of the purchase price. Those costs can fluctuate greatly depending on the state you live in too.
2. Just looking for a house casually is not a big deal.
Some people may want to just start looking at homes to get a feel for the area, before they even sit down with a REALTOR®. But they could be setting themselves up for major heartbreak. “A buyer might be viewing homes that are in a higher or lower price range than what they are qualified for,” Connie Antoniou, a broker associate in Barrington, Ill., told realtor.com®. Home shoppers – even at the earliest stages – should get pre-approved for a mortgage so they know their budget from the get-go and don’t waste time looking at homes that are out of their price range.
3. You must have a 20 percent down payment.
A 20 percent down payment will help a buyer avoid paying private mortgage insurance. But 20 percent down isn’t required. Many lenders will still qualify a buyer for home loans with 10 percent or 5 percent down. Some buyers can even qualify for only 3.5 percent down with a Federal Housing Administration loan. There are many options for down payment assistance that lenders can explore with a buyer who has a limited amount to put down.
4. Schools shouldn’t matter if you don’t have kids.
“The neighborhood you choose matters – both now and later when you might consider selling,” notes the realtor.com® article. “Even if you don’t have children, good schools are a sign of a good neighborhood.” Buyers should explore all factors with their REALTOR® on items that could influence their homes appreciation and desirability so they don’t run into trouble later on one day when they try to sell.
5. You don’t need a home inspection.
When the housing market is extremely competitive, some home shoppers may be willing to waive the home inspection in order to get the home they want. “But beware: sellers are banking on your skipping this crucial step,” the realtor.com® article notes. “It means you’ll get the home as is, including any and all problems that come with it. And sometimes those problems aren’t exactly visible.”
Source: “9 Home-Buying Myths You Need to Stop Believing Immediately,” realtor.com® (Sept. 6, 2016)
Thursday, June 29, 2017
Tuesday, June 27, 2017
DAILY REAL ESTATE NEWS | WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 15, 2017
Having the spare capital to put 20 percent down on a home purchase is great, but it's certainly not the norm. Still, many people think it is and that belief may be holding some would-be home buyers back, particularly young adults.
Indeed, 39 percent of non-owners say they believe they need more than 20 percent for a down payment on a home purchase. Twenty-six percent believe they need to put down 15 to 20 percent, and 22 percent say they need a down payment of 10 percent to 14 percent to buy, according to the National Association of REALTORS®’ 2017 Aspiring Home Buyers Profile report.
But now for the reality: The average down payment on a purchase mortgage was just 11 percent in 2016. And that's just the average; often times down payments are much lower. For borrowers under the age of 35, the average down payment was just under 8 percent, according to NAR's survey.
As such, “aspiring first-time buyers think it takes twice as much to buy a home than it really does,” writes Jonathan Smoke, realtor.com®’s chief economist, in his latest column.
How much a person truly needs for a down payment depends on their situation. Their financial circumstances, home location, and the price of the home are important factors.
But there are many mortgage options that offer the opportunity to make low or even no down payments. For example, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the U.S. Department of Agriculture offer no-money down loans to those who are eligible. In 2016, 16 percent of buyers under the age of 35 put no money down on their home purchase.
Further, the largest share of loans for buyers under age 35 last year were for people putting down less than 5 percent on a home purchase (or about $3,500). The 3 percent down payment programs backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and the 3.5 percent FHA mortgage that primarily targets first-time buyers, are both helpful programs to consider. These loan programs don’t require unblemished credit either. The average FICO score was 713, but realtor.com® notes borrowers with a 639 were still getting approved.
As such, Smoke says the millennial dreaming about homeownership needs to get this message: They need a FICO score of at least 639 and enough for a 5 percent down payment (that is, if they don’t qualify for the other programs with lower payment options). In that case, they'll need to save about $3,500 to buy in the typical American town.
Source: “Attention First-Time Buyers: Here’s the Key Stuff You Don’t Know About Mortgages,” realtor.com® (Feb. 9, 2017)
Thursday, June 15, 2017
DAILY REAL ESTATE NEWS | TUESDAY, APRIL 18, 2017
A home’s value generally appreciates 3 percent to 4 percent every year, which is attributed mostly to population growth and inflation. However in 2016, homeowners saw appreciation jump to an average of 6.3 percent.
Realtor.com®’s research team sought to find out what would boost a home’s value even more and what home features buyers may be willing to pay more for. Researchers analyzed millions of listings on realtor.com® from 2011 to 2016 to calculate the annual price growth rate of homes with certain features.
Here are some of the clear winners in housing appreciation:
Small homes: Homes smaller than 1,200 square feet appreciated by an average rate of 7.5 percent a year for the past five years. On the other hand, larger homes of 2,400 square feet or more rose by 3.8 percent a year. The smaller-home demand is being driven by millennials wanting to enter the market with a more affordable starter home and baby boomers who are looking to downsize, realtor.com® notes. Further, smaller homes are in shorter supply, which is prompting prices to increase more due to the high demand, says Jonathan Miller, president of Miller Samuel, a real estate appraisal firm.
Two-bedroom homes: Homes with two bedrooms appreciate at a rate of 6.6 percent a year, compared to homes with five bedrooms that appreciate at 4.3 percent a year, realtor.com®’s research team found.
The Hottest Home Features(Noted below with the annual appreciation rate from 2011-2016.)
- Open floor plan: 7.4%
- Patio: 6.8%
- Hardwood floors: 5.7%
- Fireplace: 5.3%
- Finished basement: 4.6%
- Hot tub: 3.9%
- Stainless steel appliances: 3%
- Granite countertop: 2.5%Source: realtor.com®
Open floor plans: Homes with open floor plans appreciate 7.4 percent a year. It’s the hottest appreciating home feature that realtor.com® studied (see side for full list). As for features like stainless steel and granite, Miller says those amenities don’t really add any value to a home. "Those are what I call 'have-to-have' features,” Miller says. “A home needs to have them in a competitive market. But they don't add long-term value. … Ten years from now, when you update your kitchen, they'll be replaced."
Modern and contemporary homes: Modern and contemporary architectural styles have the highest potential for appreciation, increasing at about 7.7 percent annually. This style of home is known for simple, geometric shapes, and large windows. Newly constructed modern homes also tend to be energy efficient. Bungalows and Traditional are the next highest appreciating styles at 6.5 percent and 5.6 percent, respectively. Meanwhile, niche styles like Craftsman bungalows and Victorians are among the lowest appreciating architectural styles, at 3.7 percent and 2.2 percent, respectively. Researchers speculate that may be due to some of the maintenance responsibilities in staying true to the home’s historical architecture that is often connected to these styles of homes.
Green space views: Homes with a park view appreciate at 7.9 percent a year, realtor.com®’s research team found. "[They] hold value over a longer period of time, and they recover quickly from a downturn," says Michael Minson, a real estate pro in San Francisco at Keller Williams. "Buyers appreciate the tranquility and outdoor activities. They like being close to nature." Indeed, homes with mountain views appreciated on average by 5.1 percent, and homes with a lake view at 4.9 percent. Ocean views appreciated the least of the “home views” studied, at just 3.6 percent a year. Recent storms may have spooked buyers from oceanfront properties as well as the fact that the highest-cost homes tend to be along the ocean, realtor.com®’s research team notes.
Tuesday, June 13, 2017
DAILY REAL ESTATE NEWS | THURSDAY, APRIL 20, 2017
A home's landscape provides curb appeal and, if designed smartly, it can also offer wellness and environmental benefits. When your clients undertake a new landscaping project, it's important that they keep the local ecosystem and environmental considerations in mind.
Since some areas of the country are still experiencing drought conditions, the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) recently created an infographic that shares what your clients living in these areas need to know before designing their landscaping project.
Thursday, June 8, 2017
APRIL 2017 | BY BARBARA BALLINGER
While decluttering a listing before putting it on the market will help sellers keep their homes cleaner and get a head start on packing, this practice also helps the product that’s for sale shine through more clearly. “Staging isn’t about decorating, but putting a room and its architecture in the best light,” says Chicago-area designer and stager Paula Winter.
Watch for these signs that you’re tipping the balance too far in one direction.Too intimate:Yellow; rich, dark colors; and textured or faux Tuscan-painted wallsElaborate window treatmentsFamily photosFloral or oversized patternsEvery wall covered with artToo contrived:Orchids or other fussy plantsA set tableMatching furniture setsNearly empty shelves and storageCookies baking in an oven during the open house
But stagers also caution against stripping too much away, which can make a space feel stark and uninviting. The happy medium is instead a modern, minimalist look that permits buyers to imagine how their furnishings may fit in spatially while exuding warmth from some carefully added accessories.
Staging, once mostly for vacant homes or high-priced listings, is now more widely used. Meridith Baer, who stages more than 140 properties a month through her eponymous California firm, says the practice can help increase the sales price and decrease the listing time for homes. The Real Estate Staging Association pegs the average time on the market for homes sold after staging at 21 days, an estimated 90 percent less time than unstaged properties.
Bear in mind that different generations have slightly different design tastes and tolerance for clutter or spareness, as do buyers in different geographic markets and price points. “Many in the greater Los Angeles area have been asking for a more minimal look, but in Orange County and Northern California, high-end properties still reflect a rich layering that shows a well-lived, well-traveled life,” Baer says. Here are five recommendations to strike the right balance.
1. Set the stage. It’s called staging for a reason. The idea is to set the mood in the same way that a theatrical backdrop does. Think of how to use furnishings and accessories to tell a story about how a buyer may live there. You want the listing to look modern and gender-neutral to show a home’s bones, not to remind buyers of an antiseptic hospital or laboratory, says Winter. Certified stager Susan Batka of Aerie Interiors in suburban Atlanta suggests adding a few textured pillows, a rug, and maybe a large piece of modern, colorful artwork to give the space the necessary warmth so it looks alive but isn’t overwhelming or too personalized.
2. Declutter. This is still the number one mantra for stagers. “The key to the desired Zen feel is to pick interesting but fewer decorative items and keep upholstered pieces clean and lean,” Baer says. She describes the goal as leaving “some breathing room. Not every wall space needs art and not every surface needs accessories.” It can be difficult to decide what to keep, but one good rule is to retain only the accessories that play up architectural features and strengths of the listing. Items that draw attention to built-in bookshelves or fireplace mantels are especially helpful. For example, Winter removes half the books on a shelf and arranges the remaining ones with turned-out spines or groups them by colors that work well with the room. She’ll winnow down collectibles on a shelf or coffee table to three key items rather than removing everything.
3. Heed the size and shape of the room. You can use staging to highlight a room’s distinct features. If it has volume due to high ceilings, Baer will use a few larger-scaled furnishings. If it’s long and narrow, she generally fashions two seating groups, turning a rectangle into two squares. That way buyers can imagine a comfortable space where visitors can sit and converse intimately.
4. Retain functionality within today’s style guidelines. Because space is highly valued, making the best use of all square footage remains a priority. Show this in listings by following the principles of cozy minimalism throughout a home. For example, in a master bedroom where buyers are looking to gain a sleep sanctuary, whittle down the furnishings to only the essential items of a comfortable bed, nightstands, and good lighting. The cozy factor can come in the form of blankets, pillows, a soft rug underfoot, and a soothing palette, says Batka. To outfit a spare room or a large landing, you might stage a workspace with a clean, modern desk and comfy upholstered chair.
5. Remember inexpensive tweaks. Good staging isn’t about grand gestures, large furnishings, or scads of accessories. Minor fixes can help what’s already there stand out without cluttering the space. Replace fixtures with bulbs of the same wattage and color, and hang clothing on similar hangers for a more uniform feel, says Jennifer Ames, a salesperson with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Chicago. “It gives buyers a good feeling as they walk through, that the sellers have cleaned and organized their homes,” she says. But in keeping with the cozy factor, avoid overwrought perfection. “Make anything you do look authentic, rather than contrived like putting out place settings at a table,” says Helen Bartlett, a RESA certified stager with Refined Interior Staging Solutions in Fairway, Kan. “Nobody lives that way.”