Blog | Real Estate News & Market Trends

You’ll find our blog to be a wealth of information, covering everything from local market statistics and home values to community happenings. That’s because we care about the community and want to help you find your place in it. Please reach out if you have any questions at all. We’d love to talk with you!

Feb. 26, 2024

The Truth About Down Payments

If you’re planning to buy your first home, saving up for all the costs involved can feel daunting, especially when it comes to the down payment. That might be because you’ve heard you need to save 20% of the home’s price to put down. Well, that isn’t necessarily the case.

Unless specified by your loan type or lender, it’s typically not required to put 20% down. That means you could be closer to your homebuying dream than you realize.

As The Mortgage Reports says:

“Although putting down 20% to avoid mortgage insurance is wise if affordable, it’s a myth that this is always necessary. In fact, most people opt for a much lower down payment.

According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the median down payment hasn’t been over 20% since 2005. In fact, for all homebuyers today it’s only 15%. And it’s even lower for first-time homebuyers at just 8% (see graph below):

 

 

The big takeaway? You may not need to save as much as you originally thought.

Learn About Resources That Can Help You Toward Your Goal

According to Down Payment Resource, there are also over 2,000 homebuyer assistance programs in the U.S., and many of them are intended to help with down payments.

Plus, there are loan options that can help too. For example, FHA loans offer down payments as low as 3.5%, while VA and USDA loans have no down payment requirements for qualified applicants.

With so many resources available to help with your down payment, the best way to find what you qualify for is by consulting with your loan officer or broker. They know about local grants and loan programs that may help you out.

Don’t let the misconception that you have to have 20% saved up hold you back. If you’re ready to become a homeowner, lean on the professionals to find resources that can help you make your dreams a reality. If you put your plans on hold until you’ve saved up 20%, it may actually cost you in the long run. According to U.S. Bank:

“. . . there are plenty of reasons why it might not be possible. For some, waiting to save up 20% for a down payment may “cost” too much time. While you’re saving for your down payment and paying rent, the price of your future home may go up.”

Home prices are expected to keep appreciating over the next 5 years – meaning your future home will likely go up in price the longer you wait. If you’re able to use these resources to buy now, that future price growth will help you build equity, rather than cost you more.

Bottom Line

Keep in mind that you don't always need a 20% down payment to buy a home. If you're looking to make a move this year, let’s connect to start the conversation about your homebuying goals.

Posted in Helpful Tips
Feb. 20, 2024

It’s Time To Prepare Your House for a Spring Listing

If you're thinking of selling your house this spring, now is the perfect time to start getting it ready. With the market gearing up for its busiest time of year, it'll be important to make sure your house shines bright among the competition.

Here are some valuable tips you can use to get your house market-ready.

Declutter and Organize

First impressions matter, and if your house is a mess, that can easily turn off potential buyers. Before listing, take the time to declutter and organize each room. Decluttering is about more than just tidying up – it's about creating a sense of space and openness that allows potential buyers to envision themselves living in your home. According to Moving.com:

Decluttering and organizing your space will go a long way in appealing to potential buyers. . . .decluttering will help the buyers see themselves living in your home. Less clutter inside a home also helps a place appear larger and cleaner, which should attract more buyers.”

Deep Clean Your Kitchen and Bathrooms

The kitchen and bathrooms are focal points for many buyers, and often influence their overall opinion of the house. Ensure these spaces dazzle by giving them a thorough deep cleaning. Pay attention to details like scrubbing grout lines, polishing fixtures, and decluttering countertops. A sparkling kitchen and bathroom can leave a lasting positive impression on potential buyers.

Maintain Your Yard

Your home’s exterior is the first thing potential buyers see, so it’s important to make a good impression from the moment they arrive. A well-maintained yard not only enhances curb appeal, but also shows buyers the home has been well taken care of.

Take the time to spruce up your yard by mowing the lawn, trimming bushes, and clearing away any debris or dead plants. Remember, the goal is to create a welcoming environment that entices buyers to step inside and imagine themselves living there. U.S. News says:

“A beautifully landscaped front yard can elevate an ordinary house into a charming home and will help homes sell faster and for more money.”

Find a Listing Agent

A skilled listing agent is your partner in minimizing stress when selling your home. Lean on your agent for advice on decluttering, staging, and enhancing your home's appeal to potential buyers. Their insights into market trends and recommendations for reliable contractors and stagers are invaluable. As Realtor.com says:

“A good listing agent will help you price your home . . . recommend a photographer and stager to make it look its best, and put your home on the multiple listing service.”

Bottom Line

By decluttering, deep cleaning, and tidying up your house, you can create a welcoming environment that resonates with buyers and increases your chances of a successful sale. Let’s connect on what you need to do to get your house ready to sell this spring.

 

Posted in Helpful Tips
Feb. 12, 2024

3 Must-Do’s When Selling Your House in 2024

3 Must-Do’s When Selling Your House in 2024

If one of the goals on your list is selling your house and making a move this year, you’re likely juggling a mix of excitement about what’s ahead and feeling a little sentimental about your current home.

A great way to balance those emotions and make sure you’re confident in your decision is to keep these three best practices in mind when you’re ready to sell.

1. Price Your Home Right

The housing market shifted in 2023 as mortgage rates rose and home price appreciation started to normalize once again. As a seller, you still need to recognize how important it is to price your house appropriately based on where the market is today.

If you price your house too high, you run the risk of deterring buyers. And if you go too low, you’re leaving money on the table. An experienced real estate agent can help determine what your ideal asking price should be, so your house moves quickly and for top dollar.

2. Keep Your Emotions in Check

Today, homeowners are staying in their houses longer than they used to. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), since 1985, the average time a homeowner has owned their home has increased from 6 to 10 years.

This is much more than what used to be the norm. The side effect, however, is when you stay in one place for so long, you may get even more emotionally attached to your space. If it’s the first home you bought or the house where your loved ones grew up, it very likely means something extra special to you. Every room has memories, and it’s hard to detach from the sentimental value.

For some homeowners, that makes it even tougher to separate the emotional value of the house from fair market price. That’s why you need a real estate professional to help you with the negotiations and the best pricing strategy along the way. Trust the professionals who have your best interests in mind.

3. Stage Your Home Properly

While you may love your decor and how you’ve customized your house over the years, not all buyers will feel the same way about your vibe. That’s why it’s so important to make sure you focus on your home’s first impression, so it appeals to as many buyers as possible.

Buyers want to be able to picture themselves in the home. They need to see themselves inside with their furniture and keepsakes – not your pictures and decorations.

A real estate professional can help you with expertise on getting your house ready to sell!

Posted in Selling
Feb. 8, 2024

Houses Are Still Selling Fast

Have you been thinking about selling your house? If so, here’s some good news. While the housing market isn't as frenzied as it was during the ‘unicorn’ years when houses were selling quicker than ever, they’re still selling faster than normal.

The graph below uses data from Realtor.com to tell the story of median days on the market for every January from 2017 all the way through the latest numbers available. For Realtor.com, days on the market means from the time a house is listed for sale until its closing date or the date it’s taken off the market. This metric can help give you an idea of just how quickly homes are selling compared to more normal years:

 

 

When you look at the most recent data (shown in green), it's clear homes are selling faster than they usually would (shown in blue). In fact, the only years when houses sold even faster than they are right now were the abnormal ‘unicorn’ years (shown in pink). According to Realtor.com:

“Homes spent 69 days on the market, which is three days shorter than last year and more than two weeks shorter than before the COVID-19 pandemic.”

What Does This Mean for You?

Homes are selling faster than the norm for this time of year – and your house may sell quickly too. That’s because more people are looking to buy now that mortgage rates have come down, but there still aren’t enough homes to go around. Mike Simonsen, Founder of Altos Researchsays:

“. . . 2024 is starting stronger than last year. And demand is increasing each week.”

Bottom Line

If you’re wondering if it’s a good time to sell your home, the most recent data suggests it is. The housing market appears to be stronger than it usually is at this time of year. To get the latest updates on what’s happening in our local market, let’s connect.

Posted in Selling
Jan. 15, 2024

Get Ready To Buy a Home by Improving Your Credit Score

As the new year approaches, the idea of buying a home might be on your mind. It’s an exciting goal to set, and it's never too early to start laying the groundwork. One crucial step to prepare for homeownership is building a solid credit score.

Lenders review your credit to assess your ability to make payments on time, pay back debts, and more. It’s also a factor that helps determine your mortgage rate. An article from CNBC explains:

“When it comes to mortgages, a higher credit score can save you thousands of dollars in the long run. This is because your credit score directly impacts your mortgage rate, which determines the amount of interest you’ll pay over the life of the loan.”

This means your credit score may feel even more important to your homebuying plans right now since mortgage rates are a key factor in affordability, especially today.

According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the median credit score in the U.S. for those taking out a mortgage is 770. But that doesn’t mean your credit score has to be perfect. An article from Business Insider explains generally how your FICO score range can make an impact:

“. . . you don’t need a perfect credit score to buy a house. . . . Aiming to get your credit score in the ‘Good’ range (670 to 739) would be a great start towards qualifying for a mortgage. But if you’re wanting to qualify for the lowest rates, try to get your score within the ‘Very Good’ range (740 to 799).”

Working with a trusted lender is the best way to get more information on how your credit score could factor into your home loan and the mortgage rate. As FICO says:

“While many lenders use credit scores like FICO Scores to help them make lending decisions, each lender has its own strategy, including the level of risk it finds acceptable. There is no single “cutoff score” used by all lenders and there are many additional factors that lenders may use to determine your actual interest rates.”

 

If you’re looking for ways to improve your score, Experian highlights some things you may want to focus on:

  • Your Payment History: Late payments can have a negative impact by dropping your score. Focus on making payments on time and paying any existing late charges quickly.

  • Your Debt Amount (relative to your credit limits): When it comes to your available credit amount, the less you’re using, the better. Focus on keeping this number as low as possible.

  • Credit Applications: If you’re looking to buy something, don’t apply for additional credit. When you apply for new credit, it could result in a hard inquiry on your credit that drops your score.

A lender will help you navigate the process from start to finish, from assessing which range your score falls in to telling you more about the specifics for each loan type.

Bottom Line

 

As you set your sights on buying a home in the upcoming year, a focus on boosting your credit score could help you get a better mortgage rate when the time comes. If you want to learn more, connect with a trusted lender.

Posted in Helpful Tips
Jan. 12, 2024

Home Prices Forecast To Climb over the Next 5 Years

Some Highlights

  • If you’re worried about what’s next for home prices, know the HPES shows experts are projecting they’ll continue to rise at least through 2028.
  • Based on that forecast, if you bought a $400,000 house this year, experts say it could gain over $72,000 in equity over the next five years.
  • If you're worried about falling home prices, don't be. Many experts forecast they'll keep rising for years to come. If you have questions, let’s connect.
Posted in Market Updates
Jan. 10, 2024

Why Now Is Still a Great Time To Sell Your House

If you were worried buyer demand disappeared when mortgage rates went up, the data shows there are plenty of interested buyers still out there. The housing market isn't as frenzied as it was during the ‘unicorn’ years when buyer demand was through the roof, mortgage rates were historically low, and home values rose like we’ve never seen before. But that doesn’t mean the market is at a standstill.

Nationally, demand is still high compared to the last normal years in the housing market and plenty of buyers are making moves right now. Here’s the data to prove it.

Showing Traffic Is Up

 

The ShowingTime Showing Index is a measure of how frequently buyers are touring homes. The graph below uses that index to show buyer activity over the past eight Octobers:

In the graph, the ‘unicorn’ years are shown in pink. You can see demand has dipped some since then. That’s in response to higher mortgage rates. But, when you compare 2023 to the blue bars on the left that represent the last normal years in the market (2018-2019), you can tell buyers are still more active than the norm.

But showing traffic isn’t the only way to see buyer demand is still high. The number of offers other sellers are getting and the average days homes are on the market tell the same story.

 

Sellers Are Still Seeing Multiple Offers

 

According to the latest data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), sellers are receiving an average of 2.5 offers on their houses. Let’s look at how that compares to recent years (see graph below):


 It’s true that’s fewer than the number of offers sellers were receiving during the ‘unicorn’ years (shown in pink). But compared to last year, the number is up slightly. And it’s higher than it was in the more normal, pre-‘unicorn’ years in the housing market too.

Homes Priced Right Are Selling Fast

 

And it’s not just that sellers are still typically getting multiple offers more than the norm, they’re also seeing their homes sell fast. That’s a direct result of strong buyer demand. According to Zillow:

 

“. . . low inventory levels are spurring surprisingly strong competition . . . demand has remained resilient, and attractive, appropriately priced listings are moving quickly.”

 

To help showcase that homes for sale are still going quickly, let’s look at data from NAR on the median days on market for this same time of year from 2018 through now (see graph below):

 

As the graph shows, this year homes are sitting on the market only slightly longer than they were during the frenzy of the ‘unicorn’ years. And compared to the last normal years in the market, homes are still selling much faster than they did back then. That’s good news for sellers because it means there are eager buyers out there right now.

Bottom Line

You haven't missed your chance to sell at a time when sellers are receiving multiple offers, and homes are selling fast. When you’re ready to sell your house, let’s connect to get the ball rolling.

 

Posted in Selling
Dec. 21, 2023

Thinking About Using Your 401(k) To Buy a Home?

The data shows many Americans have saved a considerable amount for retirement (see chart below):

 

It can be really tempting when you have a lot of money saved up in your 401(k) and you see your dream home on the horizon. But remember, dipping into your retirement savings for a home could cost you a penalty and affect your finances later on. That's why it's important to explore all your options when it comes to saving for a down payment and buying a home. As Experian says:

“It’s possible to use funds from your 401(k) to buy a house, but whether you should depends on several factors, including taxes and penalties, how much you’ve already saved and your unique financial circumstances.”

Alternative Ways To Buy a Home

Using your 401(k) is one way to finance a home, but it's not the only option. Before you decide, consider a couple of other methods, courtesy of Experian:

      FHA Loan: FHA loans allow qualified buyers to put down as little as 3.5% of the home's price, depending on their credit scores.

      Down Payment Assistance Programs: There are many national and local programs that can help first-time and repeat homebuyers come up with the necessary down payment.

 

Above All Else, Have a Plan

No matter what route you take to purchase a home, be sure to talk with a financial expert before you do anything. Working with a team of experts to develop a concrete plan prior to starting your journey to homeownership is the key to success. Kelly Palmer, Founder of The Wealthy Parent, says:

“I have seen parents pausing contributions to their retirement plans in favor of affording a larger home often with the hope they can refinance in the future… As long as there is a tangible plan in place to get back to saving for their retirement goals, I encourage families to consider all their options.”

Bottom Line

If you’re still thinking about using your 401(k)-retirement savings for a home down payment, consider all your options and work with a financial professional before you make any decisions.

Posted in Market Updates