Area 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!

April 1, 2024

6 Strategies to Save on Home Insurance Premiums




From wildfires to floods, the past few years have brought a historic number of devastating climate and weather events to the United States. In 2023 alone, there were 28 individual weather-related disasters that caused at least $1 billion in damages each.1 

These events triggered a huge influx of home insurance claims, and analysts expect the increase in both catastrophes and claims to continue. Adding to the problem, construction labor and supply costs have risen, making it more expensive to repair affected homes. Consequently, home insurance rates have surged: In 2024, Bankrate reports, premiums are already up an average of 23%, following double-digit increases the previous year.2,3 

In disaster-prone regions, the situation is even more challenging. Some insurers have pulled out of risky areas entirely, and many of those that still offer policies in high-risk areas have doubled or even tripled their premiums.4

For most homeowners, comprehensive home insurance coverage is crucial for financial security—but massive rate increases can turn a once-affordable home into a financial burden. They can also pose a serious challenge for sellers. A home insurance policy is typically required to get a mortgage, and, in some hard-hit regions, we’re seeing sales fall through or homes sit on the market because insurance policies are unattainable or too expensive.5,6

But don’t panic! While these broader trends may be out of your control, there’s still plenty you can do to save. Here are our top six strategies to slash insurance premiums while maintaining the protection you need. 

 

1. SHOP AROUND

Getting multiple quotes is a smart move for many major purchases, including home insurance. We recommend reviewing at least three estimates before you commit to a policy. You can get quotes either by reaching out to insurers directly or by working with an independent insurance broker.7 You’ll need to provide detailed information about the property you’re insuring and your claims history.

Make sure you read policies carefully before you choose. Sometimes, a policy can look like a better deal at first glance but turn out to have important coverage gaps. Be sure to consider how much the policy will pay out to repair or replace your home and review caps on personal possession and liability claims. It’s also smart to read reviews from policyholders (Trustpilot is a good place to start) and ratings published by organizations like the Better Business Bureau and J.D. Power. 

For help choosing the right policy, reach out to us for a list of trusted insurance professionals.

 

2. INCREASE YOUR DEDUCTIBLE

The size of your deductible—which is the amount you pay before your insurance coverage kicks in on a claim—is a major factor in your insurance cost.

A low deductible, such as $500, comes with higher premiums, while a higher deductible, like $2,500 or even $5,000, costs less on a monthly basis. In some cases, you may be able to customize your coverage further by designating a different deductible for certain kinds of claims, such as those caused by named storms or natural disasters. 

If you are confident that you have enough in savings to cover that initial outlay if needed, choosing a higher deductible can help you save significantly over the long term. According to Nerdwallet, raising your deductible from $1,000 to $2,500, for example, could save you an average of 11% each year.8

 

3. BUNDLE MULTIPLE TYPES OF INSURANCE

Insurers want to get as much of your business as possible, so most offer significant discounts if you bundle your home and auto insurance, meaning that you package the two policies together. With some insurers, you can get even higher savings by bundling more than home and auto—RV, boat, jewelry, and life insurance are potential options to consider. 

According to US News and World Report, insurers typically offer customers who bundle home and auto insurance 10-25% savings on monthly premiums. This approach also has other advantages: It cuts down on your paperwork, and in some cases—like if a storm damages both your home and car—you may be able to pay just one deductible instead of two when you file a claim.9 

However, before you sign on the dotted line, remember strategy #1 and be sure to shop around. In some cases, bundling isn’t the cheaper option, and bundling deals vary between companies. It’s also critical to carefully check that the bundled coverage offers everything you need.

 

4. ASK ABOUT AVAILABLE DISCOUNTS

Did you know that being a nonsmoker might qualify you for a home insurance discount?8 Some insurers offer some surprising incentives for policyholders who pose a statistically lower risk of filing a claim. In the case of nonsmokers, that’s because of the decreased risk of a home fire.

Many carriers also offer discounts to military-affiliated families, homeowners in certain professions, such as teachers or engineers, or recent homebuyers. Sometimes, you can also save by opting for paperless billing or paying your premiums for a full year upfront.10 

Since available discounts vary significantly between insurers, the best strategy is to simply ask a representative for the full list of available discounts so you can see what cost savings might be available to you. 

 

5. AVOID MAKING SMALL CLAIMS

Worried that your premiums will rise significantly in the future? Try to avoid making a claim unless truly necessary. Many insurers offer discounted rates to policyholders who go a certain number of years without filing a claim, and filing multiple claims typically results in large increases.10 If you file too many, you may even risk nonrenewal of your policy.11

Since the cost of even a small premium increase can add up significantly over time, if you have minor damage to your home—for example, if a few shingles blew off your roof in a windstorm—it may be a wiser long-term financial decision to pay out of pocket instead of filing a claim. 

If the cost of the repair is less than your deductible, it never makes sense to file, and if it’s just slightly above your deductible, it’s also usually best to pay for the repairs yourself. Additionally, always be sure to review your policy before you make a claim. Even claims that are denied can count against you, so it’s not worth filing if the damage is clearly excluded from coverage.11 

If you find yourself in this situation, feel free to reach out for a list of reasonably-priced professionals who can help with home repairs.

 

6. BE STRATEGIC ABOUT HOME IMPROVEMENTS

Insurance premiums alone may not be the deciding factor for a home improvement project, but it’s important to know how renovations could impact your rates—for better or worse.

For example, some upgrades and repairs can reduce your premiums by making your home safer or less prone to certain types of damage. These include:12

  • Upgrading your electrical system
  • Updating your plumbing
  • Installing a monitored security system
  • Adding a fire sprinkler system
  • Replacing the roof

On the other hand, some upgrades can raise premiums significantly, either because they increase the value of your home (and therefore the cost to replace it) or because they pose a hazard. These include:12

  • Installing a swimming pool or other water features
  • Building an extension or expanding your living space
  • Upgrading materials, like flooring or countertops
  • Adding a fireplace or woodstove 

Whether or not your planned renovations are on either of these lists, it’s wise to inform your insurer about changes you make to your home—otherwise, you may risk gaps in coverage. And you’re always welcome to check with us before you begin any home improvement project to find out how it could impact the value and resale potential of your home.

 

BOTTOMLINE: Protect Your Investment Without Sacrificing Enjoyment of Your Home

Getting the coverage you need for financial security without overpaying can be a tricky balance, especially in today’s environment. But remember, while it’s important to find the best deal you can, home insurance isn’t an area to skimp on. 

For advice on your specific risks and the type of coverage you need, we recommend consulting with a knowledgeable insurance professional. We’re happy to connect you with a trusted adviser in our network. And if you’re considering a home renovation, feel free to reach out for a free consultation on how it might affect your property value (and your premiums). 

 


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

 

Sources:

  1. Climate.gov -
    https://www.climate.gov/news-features/blogs/beyond-data/2023-historic-year-us-billion-dollar-weather-and-climate-disasters 
  2. Bankrate -
    https://www.bankrate.com/insurance/homeowners-insurance/homeowners-insurance-cost/
  3. Policygenius -
    https://www.policygenius.com/homeowners-insurance/home-insurance-pricing-report-2023/ 
  4. CNN -
    https://www.cnn.com/2023/09/20/business/insurance-price-increase-risk-climate-first-street-dg/index.html
  5. BBC -
    https://www.bbc.com/news/business-66367224
  6. US News -
    https://realestate.usnews.com/real-estate/articles/how-climate-change-could-impact-your-home-value
  7. Nerdwallet -
    https://www.nerdwallet.com/article/insurance/how-to-shop-for-homeowners-insurance
  8. Nerdwallet -
    https://www.nerdwallet.com/article/insurance/save-on-homeowners-insurance
  9. US News and World Report -
    https://www.usnews.com/insurance/homeowners-insurance/how-to-bundle-home-and-auto-insurance
  10. Marketwatch -
    https://www.marketwatch.com/guides/insurance-services/how-to-save-on-homeowners-insurance/
  11. Bankrate -
    https://www.bankrate.com/insurance/homeowners-insurance/when-to-file-a-home-insurance-claim/#when
  12. Bankrate -
    https://www.bankrate.com/insurance/homeowners-insurance/home-insurance-and-renovations/
Posted in Real Estate News
March 1, 2024

Downsize Your Home, Rightsize Your Life: How to Choose the Ideal Smaller Home



When you've lived somewhere for many years, it can be tough to say goodbye. But if you (or a loved one) currently have a home that is bigger than necessary or is too high maintenance, it may be time to trade unused square footage for a smaller, more manageable space. 

Take it from the downsizers who’ve been there: Although living small might require some adjustments, it can also be liberating––especially if you're in a stage of life where past responsibilities have given way to new possibilities and adventures.  

In fact, many downsizers report feeling invigorated by the change, according to real estate journalist and author Sheri Koones. “It scares people to think of moving into a smaller space,” said Koones to the Associated Press. “But every single person I interviewed who has made the transition says they are so happy they did.”1

The key is to find somewhere you can live well and move around comfortably, without feeling overly restricted. If you like the idea of aging in place or are already in your golden years, you may also want to look for signs that a new home can conveniently age with you. 

With that in mind, we recommend focusing your search around three key factors: desired lifestyle, optimal design, and long-term accessibility. Read on for specific tips, then call us for a free consultation. We can help you identify the types of homes that are best suited to living large with less.

 

Do you have a loved one whose housing needs have changed?
Share this information to help start a conversation about the benefits of downsizing.

 

DESIRED LIFESTYLE 

The best part of downsizing is the lifestyle you unlock when you trade square footage for convenience. With fewer chores and home maintenance tasks to worry about, you can instead channel your energy into other pursuits. 

For example, instead of spending your afternoons working in the yard or cleaning, you can catch up on the news, read a bestseller, start a new craft project, or pursue other hobbies. You may even be able to travel or spend more time with friends and family. 

Research shows that individuals over the age of 65 report more life satisfaction when they have the opportunity to spend time around children, talk with friends, socialize in community centers, volunteer, or engage in hobbies. But that can be hard to do regularly when you've got a home that needs constant attention or you live far from your community.2

As you compare potential homes, keep in mind the type of lifestyle you envision. Do you plan to travel? If so, a home with extra security, such as a condominium or gated community, may give you some welcome peace of mind. Or do you plan to have friends and family stay overnight? In that case, you may want to look for a floor plan with flex space or a property that has access to separate guest suites. 

Alternatively, a senior community that offers catered meals and housekeeping may be a better choice if you or a spouse need extra support. 

Action item: Grab a pen and take some time to envision what your ideal future might look like. Write down the activities and hobbies you hope to add to your life or continue with going forward, as well as the chores and responsibilities you'd love to drop. We can use those answers to help shape your house hunt.

 

OPTIMAL DESIGN

Even though your new home will be smaller, that doesn't mean it has to feel cramped. As Koones explains, “The key is to have a home that is efficiently designed, both in terms of energy use and in terms of space.”1 

Look for features that can help make a space feel bigger, like high ceilings, large windows, and an open layout. 

Built-in shelving that extends all the way to the ceiling can also make a small room feel more expansive by helping to draw the eye upward. The same goes for highly placed window treatments and striped or mural-style wallpaper, says interior designer, Kati Greene Curtis. “You’ll feel like you’re walking into the scene,” said Curtis to the Washington Post.3 

Efficient layouts with flexible, multi-purpose rooms and few, if any, hallways work especially well for small-scale living. You can also limit dead space in a home by steering clear of layouts with awkward corners, unusable nooks, and other space-eating design elements. 

In addition, look for features that support a simpler, lower-maintenance lifestyle, such as easy-care floors, durable countertops, and bare walls with little, if any, crown molding. 

Don’t write off a home too soon, though, if it feels narrow or congested because of outdated design or poor staging. Cosmetic issues that visually shrink a space are often easy to fix. 

For example, you can instantly make a room feel bigger just by painting it a lighter shade. Adding mirrors and swapping out heavy curtains for sheer ones can also be effective. Plus, utilizing multipurpose furniture with hidden storage is a great way to maximize space. 

Action item: Make a note of your must-keep furniture and other items. Then pull out a measuring tape and write down the dimensions. Once it's time to visit homes, we'll have a more accurate sense of what will fit and how much space you’ll need.

To get your creative juices flowing, you may also want to flip through some design magazines that specialize in compact living or catalogs that feature space-saving furniture and accessories. If you give us a list of your favorite features, we can use it to pinpoint homes that are a good match. 

 

LONG-TERM ACCESSIBILITY

Buying a home that you can age well in can be a great way to boost your health prospects and happiness. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), homeowners who age in place instead of in an institutional environment not only save money over time, they also enjoy greater health and emotional benefits.4 

Aging in place is also popular. According to survey findings from the National Poll on Healthy Aging, the vast majority of adults between the ages of 50 and 80 would prefer to age in their own homes.5

But even though many adults want to age in place, only 34% of surveyed adults currently live in a home with the features to make it possible.5 

If you're already in the second half of your life, then it's smart to prioritize accessibility now, even if you're highly mobile. 

Choosing an accessible home will improve your odds of staying put for longer. Plus, you never know when you might need an accessible light switch, handrails in the bathroom, or a seat in the shower, says Sheri Koones. “Yes, older people with disabilities need them, but even younger people break a leg skiing, or have situations where they want a barrier-free shower.”1  

As you consider your options, try to imagine what your needs might be as you get older and be proactive in identifying potential obstacles, recommends the National Council on Aging (NCOA).6 

For example, a single-level home or one with wide enough stairs for a stair lift or access to an elevator may be a more practical choice than a home with lots of narrow stairs. Alternatively, a home with at least one ground-level bedroom and bathroom may also work well for you. 

Consider your needs outside the home, as well: If you frequently visit the doctor, grocery store, or community center, for example, then you may benefit from choosing a property nearby. 

Action item: Review the checklist below, adapted from the National Institute on Aging’s home safety worksheet, or download the full version from the agency’s website.7 Highlight the items that are most important to you. We can reference these guidelines as we consider potential homes and suggest ways to adapt a property to meet your current or future requirements.

 

HOME SAFETY CHECKLIST 7

☐ If a walker or wheelchair is needed, can the entrances to the house be modified — perhaps by putting in a ramp to the front door?

☐ Are there any tripping hazards at exterior entrances or inside the house?

☐ Are the hallways and doorways wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair if needed?

☐ Does the home have at least one ground-floor bedroom and bathroom?

☐ Are there any staircases, and if so, could they accommodate a stair lift?

☐ Is the house well-lit, inside and out, particularly at the top and bottom of stairs?

☐ Could handrails be installed on both sides of the staircase?

☐ Is there at least one stairway handrail that extends beyond the first and last steps on each flight of stairs?

☐ Are outdoor steps sturdy and textured to prevent falls in wet or icy weather?

☐ Are there grab bars near toilets and in the tub or shower?

☐ Have a shower stool and hand-held shower head been installed to make bathing easier?

☐ Is the water heater set at 120° F to avoid scalding tap water?

☐ Are there safety knobs and an automatic shut-off switch on the stove?

☐ Have smoke and carbon monoxide alarms been installed near the kitchen and in all bedrooms? 

☐ Are there secure locks on all outside doors and windows?

 

BOTTOMLINE

You don't have to compromise on comfort to downsize successfully. We can help you strategize your next move and identify the best new home for you—whether that's a smaller home for rent or another one to call your own. We take pride in offering a full-service real estate experience and assisting our clients through all stages of the real estate journey. And we’ll go the extra mile to maximize your current home's sales price so that you’re set up for financial security.

 


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

 

Sources:

  1. Associated Press (AP) -
    https://apnews.com/article/lifestyle-f094372b46bae82020c174907eb953c0
  2. Healthcare (Basel) -
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10671417/
  3. Washington Post -
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/home/2023/02/07/make-small-room-appear-larger/ 
  4. HUD User -
    https://www.huduser.gov/portal/periodicals/em/fall13/highlight2.html
  5. National Poll on Healthy Aging -
    https://www.healthyagingpoll.org/reports-more/report/older-adults-preparedness-age-place 
  6. National Council on Aging (NCOA) -
    https://www.ncoa.org/adviser/medical-alert-systems/downsizing-for-aging-in-place/
  7. National Institute of Health (NIH)  -
    https://www.nia.nih.gov/sites/default/files/2023-04/worksheet-home-safety-checklist_1.pdf
Posted in Real Estate News
Jan. 31, 2024

Upgrade Your Home With These 2024 Design Trends



One of the best parts of owning a home is the freedom to make it truly your own with design choices that reflect your personality and lifestyle. Whether you lean toward contemporary design or a farmhouse aesthetic, your home is your canvas.

Even so, it’s always smart to think about the long-term impact those decisions might have on your home’s value. Choosing over-personalized or unpopular materials and finishes could make your home less appealing to future buyers. And selecting out-of-style or overly-trendy elements could cause your home to feel dated quickly.

To help inspire your design choices, we’ve rounded up some of the top trends we’re watching in 2024. Keep in mind, not all of these will work well in every house. If you plan to list or renovate your property, give us a call. We can help you realize your vision and maximize the impact of your investment.

 

      1. Spa-Like Bathrooms

We could all use a little more relaxation in our lives—so why not bring the spa into your home? In 2024, more homeowners will remodel their bathrooms to turn them into personal oases.1,2

If you’re undertaking a renovation, consider upgrading fixtures and materials. Handmade tile and custom cabinetry can add a touch of style and luxury. Trade stark whites for warm neutrals to create a more relaxed feel—think light wood tones, creams, and beiges.3 Complete the look with soft ambient lighting from a backlit mirror or pair of decorative sconces.2,3

If you want to maximize the mind-body benefits of a relaxing bathroom (and have the budget to spare), you might consider installing a steam shower, infrared sauna, or cold plunge tub.3 Not looking to spend as much? Even minor upgrades like a massaging showerhead or heated towel bar can add some pampering to your morning routine.3

But remember, if you’re modifying your bathroom, it’s always wise to work with experienced and licensed professionals to avoid water damage that could lead to costly repairs. We can refer you to a trusted contractor for help.

 

 

      2. Maximalist Decor

In 2024, maximalism is back in vogue, contrasting the neutral aesthetic that dominated design in recent years. While maximalism can be summed up as “more is more,” there’s nothing sloppy or cluttered about this look. Instead, it’s all about intentional curation.4

Hallmarks of maximalist style include rich and saturated colors, bold wallpaper, statement rugs and furniture, and lots of art. And forget matching—maximalist interiors often include plenty of contrasting colors, textures, and patterns selected to complement one another.4

If you’re trying to embrace maximalism on a budget, check out thrift stores. They’re often a great place to find unique furniture, colorful rugs, and interesting art or collectibles. Before you invest in rolls of vintage wallpaper, though, it’s important to note—if you plan to sell your home in the near future, the maximalist look won’t appeal to every buyer.

We typically advise sellers to remove clutter and personal items to help buyers imagine their own future lives within the home. Sometimes, that means repainting or redecorating in a more neutral palette. Of course, this shouldn’t stop you from embracing your own style now—just be aware that you may need to walk back your aesthetic prior to selling. We can advise you when the time comes.

 

 

      3. Japandi Style

Not quite ready to embrace maximalism? Japandi style, which blends Japanese and Scandinavian influences, offers a more subdued approach that still has plenty of character. The look dates back about 150 years to a time when many Scandinavian designers were traveling to Japan for inspiration.5

Japandi style brings together clean lines, simplicity, and a focus on natural elements and light. It emphasizes the beauty in imperfection, or “wabi sabi,” and a deep connection to Mother Earth. And like Scandinavian decor, the look prioritizes comfort and a sense of sanctuary in the home.5

Interested in playing with Japandi? Common features include calming color palettes and organic materials like raw wood and bamboo. Try softening harsh edges with softer textures, like cozy blankets and ceramic pieces.

The look also minimizes clutter, but that doesn’t mean you need to be a minimalist. Instead, Japandi style embraces storage solutions like baskets, folding screens, and sofas with built-in storage to give everything a place.6 If you’d like some help implementing Japandi-style organization in your home, contact us for a list of recommended professionals.

 

 

      4. Mixed Metals

Mixing metals used to be a “no-no.” But in 2024, it’s definitely a “yes.”

According to designers, mixing the colors and finishes of metal fixtures and hardware can bring visual interest to a room—as long as you go about it the right way.1,7

The most important rule to keep in mind is to stay away from near matches, like brass and gold—that’s more likely to look accidental than intentional. Instead, go for bold contrast: Think polished nickel and matte black.7

Some designers recommend using each metal at least twice in a room to make it look cohesive. Another good rule of thumb is to stick to two types of metals in a small room and two to three in a larger space.7

Finally, you might think about playing with undertones (brass is warm, chrome is cool) to change the “temperature” of a room. And don’t be afraid of a little shine—many designers predict that a retro, high-polished look will replace matte finishes in 2024.8

Want some help sourcing fixtures and hardware in a variety of finishes? Reach out for a list of our favorite retailers.

 

 

      5. Wood Cabinetry And Accents

The all-white kitchen has been ubiquitous in recent years. But in 2024, classic wood cabinetry is back in a big way.9 In fact, industry professionals surveyed by the National Kitchen & Bath Association predict that wood cabinets will be more popular than white in the next three years.10

Natural wood tones offer a sense of warmth and natural beauty.11 And today’s cabinets aren’t anything like the heavy, dated versions of the past. Instead, light to medium versions—like white oak and walnut—and warmer undertones are trending.9

The addition of wood-grain accents to painted kitchen cabinets—like with a contrasting island or range hood—is another popular option.12 And wood continues to be a favored choice for flooring. A recent survey found that 40% of homeowners opted for either hardwood or engineered wood when renovating their kitchen floors.13

You can also expect to see more wood in bathrooms in 2024. According to Houzz, last year, wood vanities surpassed white in popularity for the first time in recent years, and designers expect the trend to continue.12 While white countertops and walls still dominate bathrooms, a wood-grained vanity brings a relaxed, organic element into the space.

Dreaming about new cabinets or hardwood floors? We’d be happy to share a list of recommended trade professionals who can help.

 

 

      6. Timeless Renovations

In its latest Kitchen Trends Study, Houzz found that “nearly half of homeowners (47%) opt for a timeless design as a sustainable choice during renovations.” Respondents cited long-term cost effectiveness and environmental consciousness as their main motivators.14

In a rapidly changing, technology-driven world, it’s no surprise that homeowners want a nurturing space with lasting appeal—especially if they plan to stay in their homes for years to come.12

Traditional materials and quality craftsmanship lie at the core of timeless design, which some designers are calling “quiet luxury.”15 Think of enduring classics, like hardwood floors, hand-crafted tiles, and marble countertops.12 A timeless color palette will also often include warm neutrals and muted shades of blue and green.15

If you’re thinking about remodeling, it’s wise to incorporate as many classic elements as you can. These stylistic choices tend to hold up well over time, which can prolong the life of your investment and make it easier to sell your home down the road. If you’d like advice on an upcoming project, contact us for a free consultation.

 

 

BEAUTIFY YOUR HOME WHILE BOOSTING ITS VALUE

If you’re thinking about making design changes—whether that’s repainting or a full remodel—it’s important to be informed about how your choices could impact your home’s resale potential. Buyer preferences can vary significantly based on your home’s neighborhood and price point. Before you begin your project, reach out to discuss your plans and how they could impact the value of your home.

 

 

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

 

Sources:

  1. HGTV -
    https://www.hgtv.com/design/decorating/design-101/2024-home-and-garden-design-trends
  2. The Spruce -
    https://www.thespruce.com/2024-design-trends-8411457 
  3. The Spruce -
    https://www.thespruce.com/2024-bathroom-design-trends-8380169 
  4. Homes and Gardens -
    https://www.homesandgardens.com/interior-design/maximalist-decor-ideas 
  5. The Spruce -
    https://www.thespruce.com/japandi-design-4782478 
  6. House Beautiful -
    https://www.housebeautiful.com/room-decorating/a45851530/japandi-interior-design-style/ 
  7. The Spruce -
    https://www.thespruce.com/4-rules-designers-say-you-should-follow-or-ignore-when-mixing-metals-in-a-room-5199031 
  8. The Spruce -
    https://www.thespruce.com/2024-lighting-trends-8365056 
  9. Good Housekeeping -
    https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/home/decorating-ideas/a45576463/wood-kitchen-cabinet-trend-2023/ 
  10. Better Homes and Gardens -
    https://www.bhg.com/2024-kitchen-trends-840656
  11. Real Simple -
    https://www.realsimple.com/2024-kitchen-cabinet-trends-masterbrand-7974600 
  12. Houzz -
    https://www.houzz.com/magazine/28-home-design-trends-that-will-define-2024-stsetivw-vs~172317389 
  13. Houzz -
    https://www.houzz.com/magazine/10-kitchen-trends-to-watch-in-layouts-features-and-more-stsetivw-vs~165050822 
  14. Houzz -
    https://www.houzz.com/magazine/2023-u-s-houzz-kitchen-trends-study-stsetivw-vs~164970160
  15. Better Homes and Gardens -
    https://www.bhg.com/quiet-luxury-home-trend-7554026
Posted in Real Estate News
Jan. 1, 2024

Real Estate Market Forecast: Opportunities for Home Buyers and Sellers in 2024



A growing share of home buyers and sellers sat on the sidelines last year as the pace of home sales continued its downward trajectory.1 In fact, since the Federal Reserve began its series of interest rate hikes in 2022, the combination of higher borrowing costs and record-high home prices has fostered the steepest real estate market slowdown since the 2008 recession.2 

Priced out of the market, a generation of would-be buyers has been forced to delay their plans for homeownership.3  At the same time, current owners—reluctant to give up their pandemic-era mortgage rates—are waiting to sell, which has resulted in a sharp drop in listings.4

But there may be some relief in sight: In December, the Fed signaled that it was done raising interest rates—and suggested that it could cut rates by 0.75% over the coming year. While mortgages don’t directly follow the federal funds rate, they typically move in tandem—so cheaper home loans may finally be on the horizon.5

Lower mortgage rates should bring some much-needed movement back into the real estate sector. But with a market this fluid, the home buyers and sellers with an edge will be those who proactively leverage a real estate agent’s on-the-ground expertise and stay flexible so that they can quickly adapt to changes.

What does that mean for you? Read on to learn more about the current state of the U.S. housing market, the potential opportunities for buyers and sellers, and economists’ predictions for the year ahead.

 

HOME PRICES WILL REMAIN RELATIVELY STABLE

Not even 8% mortgage rates could bring home prices crashing down in 2023, as some prospective home buyers may have hoped. In fact, on average, U.S. property values ended the year higher—with declines in some areas of the country offset by appreciation in others.6

Prices typically fall when rising interest rates drive down demand. So what’s keeping home values high? 

Mike Simonsen at Altos Research points to a nationwide housing shortage: “Declining home prices probably require that supply-and-demand imbalance, and what we have is really a balance. There's a balance between low demand and low supply.”7

Analysts expect that equilibrium to continue to prop up home prices in 2024, although the specific forecasts vary. For example, economists at Realtor.com predict that the median home price will fall slightly, by 1.7%, while those at Fannie Mae project modest price growth of 2.8%.6,8

However, experts widely agree: Mortgage rates will be the largest driver of property values. If rates fall faster than expected, more buyers will enter the market—which could send home prices soaring higher.

What does it mean for you?  There’s no evidence that home prices are headed for a major decline. So if you’re ready and able to afford a home, this is a great time to test the waters. The best bargains are often found in a slower market, like the one we’re experiencing right now. Contact us to discuss your goals and budget. We can help you make an informed decision about the right time to buy.

And if you’ve been waiting to sell your home, this could be your year. Price growth has slowed, so now is the time to maximize your equity gains while minimizing your competition. Contact us for recommendations and to find out what your home could sell for in today’s market.

 

MORTGAGE RATES SHOULD FINALLY TREND DOWN

The best news we've got incoming for 2024? The extra-high mortgage rates that have weighed heavily on the real estate market may finally be headed south.

At its December meeting, the Fed signaled that the worst is likely behind us and that it expects to cut its overnight rate in 2024. Analysts predict that mortgage rates will fall in lockstep.5

“Given inflation continues to decelerate and the Federal Reserve Board’s current expectations that they will lower the federal funds target rate next year, we likely will see a gradual thawing of the housing market in the new year,” said Freddie Mac’s Chief Economist Sam Khater following the announcement.9

The average 30-year fixed mortgage rate has already declined from an October high of around 8%, and analysts at Fannie Mae, the Mortgage Bankers Association, and Realtor.com all forecast that rates will trend down this year, ending 2024 closer to 6%.7

However, it’s not all good news: It appears that the days of 3% mortgage rates are firmly behind us. “As long as the economy continues to motor along, the new normal of higher rates is here to stay,” explains Greg McBride, chief financial analyst for Bankrate.4 So, when it comes to a home loan, borrowers may need to adjust their expectations.

What does it mean for you?  If you're a prospective home buyer, declining mortgage rates could give you the opportunity to lock in a more affordable monthly payment. And if you purchase before the market reheats, you could secure an especially good deal. To find the lowest rate, it pays to compare lenders. Ask us to refer you to a mortgage broker who can help you shop around for the best option.

Sellers also have reason to celebrate buyers' lower interest rates: As the barriers to entry to the housing market decline, they could enjoy more or better offers. Reach out to discuss how we can help you maximize your home’s sales potential.

 

LOWER RATES WILL BRING SOME BUYERS AND SELLERS BACK TO THE MARKET

Over the past couple of years, higher mortgage rates have cooled home buyer demand. They’ve also delayed the plans of many home sellers, who have been reluctant to trade in their current mortgages for loans that are several points higher. 

With so many market participants playing the waiting game, the real estate sector has slowed significantly. National Association of Realtors (NAR) Chief Economist Lawrence Yun estimates that the number of existing home sales fell by 18% last year following a 17% decline in 2022.10

However, as financing costs tick down, sales volume is expected to rise. “Lower mortgage rates would help spur home sales activity, which [is] expected to increase in 2024 compared to 2023,” explains Selma Hepp, chief economist at CoreLogic. “Declines in mortgage rates will drive more sellers to trade their existing home and help add much-needed inventory to the market, leading to more transactions.”4

There’s also evidence that the patience of holdout home buyers may be waning, despite higher borrowing costs. A recent survey by Bank of America found that the number who are willing to wait for prices or mortgage rates to decline before making a purchase fell from 85% to 62% in just six months.11

“When it comes down to it, if buying a home is your goal and within your budget, the best time to buy is when you're ready financially and you can find a home that fits your needs,” Matt Vernon, head of consumer lending at Bank of America, advised in a recent release. “Even in the current interest rate environment, there are clear benefits to purchasing a home and beginning to build equity.”11

What does it mean for you?  If you’ve been waiting to buy a home, you might want to consider purchasing before the competition picks up. Pent-up demand could bring a flood of buyers back into the market as mortgage rates decline. Contact us if you’re ready to begin your home search.

If you’re hoping to sell this year, you may also want to act fast. An increase in listings will make it harder for your home to stand out. We can help you chart the best course to maximize your profits, starting with a professional assessment of your home’s current market value. Reach out to schedule a free consultation.

 

THE HOUSING SUPPLY SHORTAGE WILL PERSIST

Will home buyers who are eager for options have more homes to choose from this year?

Yun thinks so. He believes sellers will soon grow weary of waiting to list. “Pent-up sellers cannot wait any longer. People will begin to say, ‘life goes on,’” the NAR economist speculated at a November conference. “Listings will steadily show up, and new home sales will continue to do well.”10

But not everyone agrees. Economists at Realtor.com forecast that inventory could drop by as much as 14% this year. The decline in existing homes for sale has been compounded by a persistent shortage of new construction, with single-family housing starts falling 10.3% in 2023 and 11.2% in 2022.6

Even so, newly-built homes are playing an increased role in easing the supply crunch, accounting for around one-third of all homes for sale in 2023—which was twice the historical average.12 But new construction alone isn’t expected to fill the inventory gap.

According to First American Financial Corporation’s Chief Economist Mark Fleming, the U.S. currently has a shortfall of around one million homes, and conditions won’t ease until individual owners re-enter the market. “Only when more homeowners decide to sell, and then buy again, will housing supply and the pace of sales return to anything resembling normal.”13

What does it mean for you?  Inventory remains tight, but buyers can benefit from the search expertise of a real estate professional. We can tap our extensive network to access off-market and pre-market listings while helping you explore both new construction and existing homes in our area.

While sellers will continue to benefit from the low-inventory environment, they should be prepared to compete against brand-new homes. We can help you prep your property for the market and highlight the features most likely to appeal to today’s buyers.

 

WE'RE HERE TO GUIDE YOU 

While national real estate forecasts can give you a “big picture” outlook, real estate is local. And as local market experts, we know what's most likely to impact sales and drive home values in your neighborhood. As a trusted partner in your real estate journey, we'll keep our ears to the ground so that we can guide you through the market's twists and turns.

If you’re considering buying or selling a home in 2024, contact us now to schedule a free consultation. Let’s work together and craft an action plan to meet your real estate goals.

 


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

 

Sources:

  1. CNN -
    https://www.cnn.com/2023/10/19/homes/existing-home-sales-september/index.html
  2. Goldman Sachs -
    https://www.gspublishing.com/content/research/en/reports/2023/10/23/2d814362-a656-4cb3-8586-bea8591188e3.html
  3. ABC News -
    https://abcnews.go.com/US/millennials-priced-homeownership-feeling-pressure/story?id=105032436
  4. Bankrate -
    https://www.bankrate.com/real-estate/housing-market-2024/
  5. CBS News -
    https://www.cbsnews.com/news/interest-rates-are-paused-heres-why-thats-good-news-for-homebuyers/
  6. Realtor.com -
    https://www.realtor.com/research/2024-national-housing-forecast
  7. NerdWallet -
    https://www.nerdwallet.com/article/mortgages/2024-homebuying-trends-property-line-november-2023
  8. Fast Company -
    https://www.fastcompany.com/90991612/home-price-2024-outlook-fannie-mae
  9. Freddie Mac -
    https://freddiemac.gcs-web.com/news-releases/news-release-details/mortgage-rates-drop-below-seven-percent
  10. National Association of Realtors -
    https://www.nar.realtor/newsroom/nar-chief-economist-lawrence-yun-forecasts-existing-home-sales-will-rise-by-15-percent-next-year
  11. Bank of America -
    https://newsroom.bankofamerica.com/content/newsroom/press-releases/2023/12/bofa-report-shows-fewer-prospective-homebuyers-willing-to-wait-f.html
  12. Marketplace -
    https://www.marketplace.org/2023/11/27/mortgage-rates-new-home-sales/
  13. First American -
    https://blog.firstam.com/economics/whats-the-outlook-for-the-housing-market-in-2024
Posted in Real Estate News
Dec. 1, 2023

Celebrate Sustainably: 5 Ideas for an Eco-Friendly Holiday at Home



It's the most wonderful time of the year. But for many families with festive plans and hectic schedules, it's also the most wasteful. 

According to one survey, for example, 60% of respondents admitted to throwing away more than usual during the holiday months as they filled up their trash bins with uneaten food, wrapping paper, gift bags, and commercial packaging.1

The reality is, Americans routinely toss about 25% more trash between Thanksgiving and New Year’s than at any other time of year, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.2 In fact, we throw away so much ribbon during the holidays—around 38,000 miles’ worth—that the discarded material could easily run more than one and a half times around the Earth.3

As our holiday schedules grow busier, many of us also forget to take simple steps at home to shrink our carbon footprints or prepare for a more energy-efficient winter. 

Luckily, it’s not that hard to shift our habits and plan for a more sustainable and environmentally-friendly celebration. Here are five ideas for ringing in the holidays this year without overstressing Mother Nature.

 

1. PREP YOUR HOME FOR WINTER

Depending on the amount of time and resources you have available, you could cut your carbon emissions significantly this season just by winterizing your home.

Investing in a more sustainable way to warm up your surroundings—such as a geothermal heat pump or solar heating—could be especially impactful if your current HVAC is underperforming and you can afford a more expensive system.4 Replacing old appliances or things like chronically leaking windows with newer, more energy-efficient solutions can also save you money over the long term.5 Plus, you may be able to claim a federal energy-efficient tax credit for up to 30% of your investment.6

You don't necessarily have to spend a lot upfront, though, to prep your home for winter. Even simple tweaks—such as sealing windows and doors or upgrading to more energy-efficient window coverings—can lower your energy consumption and reduce your carbon footprint.7

Incorporating environmentally healthier habits into your routine can also make a meaningful difference. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, for example, dialing back your thermostat by as little as seven to 10 degrees for eight hours a day can trim up to 10% from your bills.8 

Consider a home energy assessment to help you pinpoint what needs fixing. Depending on your comfort level, you can audit your home's energy efficiency yourself with the help of the Department of Energy's DIY Guide.9 Or you can hire a professional, such as a home energy auditor or weatherization contractor.10 Call us for a recommendation or personal referral.

 

2. DECORATE SUSTAINABLY

Decking your home's halls is one of the most jolly seasonal activities of all. There's something special about gathering 'round with friends and family and relaxing in the comforting glow of a festively decorated space. 

But since so much of the holiday-themed decor that's sold in stores is notoriously disposable, it can be a challenge to spruce up your home sustainably. Cheaply produced and rarely recyclable, store-bought decorations are often made with plastic, styrofoam, and other environmentally unfriendly materials that can crowd landfills for generations.2 

Luckily, you don't have to trade style for sustainability when making your holiday decor. Thrifting is still in vogue, so consider crafting new and on-trend decorations out of secondhand finds or upcycling items already in your closet. 

For example, you could transform an ill-fitting sweater into a holiday-themed pillow, turn teacups into candles, or turn leftover shipping boxes into creative decorations. Alternatively, natural decor foraged from your yard—such as dried leaves, flowers, pine cones, and branches—can make for especially beautiful wreaths and centerpieces. 

If you do purchase store-bought decor, proactively look for the most environmentally friendly options. LED lights are now ubiquitous in stores and use far less energy than incandescent versions.11 Similarly, if you celebrate with a Christmas tree, think twice about choosing an artificial option. Plastic trees may be reusable, but natural trees are generally thought to have a smaller carbon footprint.1

 

3. CUT BACK ON HOLIDAY SHOPPING

Shopping online or at the mall may be convenient, but it can be costly for the environment. The greenhouse emissions from shipping and transportation alone add up fast, as do the emissions that are produced when an item is first made. According to the online consignment and thrift store, thredUp, 4.5 billion pounds of carbon emissions could be saved if every American bought just one used item instead of new this year.12 

Splurging on brand-new products also makes it more likely that the gently used but still functional items that you've got at home will wind up in the trash. 

Rather than buy new, check vintage stores and consignment shops for unique gifts that you and your recipient can both feel good about. According to research by thredUp, most people are open to receiving gently-used presents, especially if they're socially-conscious members of Gen Z.12 Alternatively, consider regifting items that you haven't used, upcycling something you own, or try crafting gifts by hand. 

Giving away special experiences, such as concert tickets or community memberships, may also be a more eco-friendly option. So is donating to a favorite charity in a gift recipient's name or offering gifts of time, such as promising to help a loved one clean out their garage or fill their freezer with home-cooked meals. 

Research shows that gift recipients often value thoughtful gifts with sentimental value, especially if they're homemade or nostalgic or will provide them with a unique experience.13 

And if you prefer to buy something tangible, look to local businesses that source or manufacture their goods nearby. Craft fairs and community markets are a great place to start. Or, give us a call and we’d be happy to share a list of our favorite local stores, depending on the type of gift and your budget. We make an effort to patronize the independently-owned shops and restaurants around town and would love to share our recommendations.

 

4. GREEN YOUR HOLIDAY DINNER

Do you hail from a family of passionate carnivores? If so, trading your meat for a vegetarian option may seem like a step too far—especially for a holiday dinner. 

But swapping your meat for beans isn't the only way to “'green” your holiday meal. For example, you can consciously source your meat from ethical sellers, prioritize local producers for seasonal sides, and serve enough filling vegetables to satisfy a large portion of your appetite.14 

You can also minimize food waste by planning ahead so that you don't cook more than necessary. Check out the Natural Resources Defense Council's dinner party “Guest-Imator” to help you narrow down how much food you and your guests will actually need.15 In addition, consider using the USDA's FoodKeeper App to help track safety recalls and set up calendar reminders for expired food.16 

Once you're finished eating, clear the table immediately and either freeze the leftovers you'd like to keep or send guests home with reusable containers. Or, if you have untouched food that's still whole or in unopened packaging, take it to a local food bank or homeless shelter. We’d be happy to share a list of options in our area.

 

5. DONATE OR RECYCLE WHAT YOU CAN

Once the festivities are over, the real work on behalf of Mother Nature begins. This is the time when taking a few minutes at the end of your holiday celebration to swiftly collect wrapping paper and ribbons, unwanted packaging, and other discarded items can make a real environmental difference by reducing what you send to landfills. Your goal should be to reuse what you can and compost or recycle what's left over. 

For example, if you upgrade any electronic gadgets over the holidays, you can conserve resources and limit pollution by donating or properly recycling your old versions. The U.S. Geological Survey estimated that recycling a million laptop computers could help save the energy equivalent of 3,500 homes' annual usage of electricity.16 Similarly, the EPA says that recycling one million phones can help salvage 35,000 pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver, 75 pounds of gold, and 33 pounds of palladium.17

It can also help to reimagine new ways to make old traditions more eco-friendly. For instance, if lighting candles is part of your holiday celebration, consider choosing beeswax candles this year instead of the typical paraffin wax, which is a petroleum derivative. Not only are they cleaner burning and less toxic, but the leftover wax is biodegradable and can be composted, unlike traditional candle wax.18

There are also plenty of earth-friendly ways to dispose of a natural Christmas tree without kicking it to the curb. Trees that are sent to landfills release a potent greenhouse gas called methane.19 So, it’s important to properly dispose of a live tree, if you have one, so it can be recycled or composted. If you’re not sure how, reach out for a list of local options.

 

BOTTOMLINE

We can still celebrate a fun and festive season without draining our community’s resources or sending leftovers to the landfill. And remember, we’re here to lend a helping hand, now or in the new year. This is the perfect time to strategize your next move or set some real estate resolutions with personalized guidance from an expert. Reach out today to schedule a free consultation.

 


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

 

Sources:

  1. Eco Watch -
    https://www.ecowatch.com/sustainable-decor-winter-holidays.html
  2. Architectural Digest -
    https://www.architecturaldigest.com/story/best-holiday-and-seasonal-decor-for-the-environment 
  3. The New York Times -
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/18/style/zero-waste-holiday.html 
  4. Environmental Protection Agency -
    https://www.epa.gov/burnwise/heat-pumps  
  5. U.S. Department of Energy -
    https://www.energy.gov/eere/buildings/articles/appliance-and-equipment-standards-fact-sheet 
  6. IRS -
    https://www.irs.gov/credits-deductions/energy-efficient-home-improvement-credit 
  7. Energy Star -
    https://www.energystar.gov/saveathome/seal_insulate/sealing_window_door 
  8. U.S. Department of Energy -
    https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/programmable-thermostats 
  9. U.S. Department of Energy -
    https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/do-it-yourself-home-energy-assessments
  10. Kiplinger -
    https://www.kiplinger.com/slideshow/real-estate/t029-s001-12-ways-to-prepare-your-home-for-winter/index.html 
  11. U.S. Department of Energy -
    https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/articles/reduce-waste-and-save-energy-holiday-season# 
  12. Thred Up -
    https://newsroom.thredup.com/news/thredup-releases-thrift-for-the-holidays-report-revealing-that-new-waves-of-consumers-are-planning-to-gift-secondhand-this-year
  13. The Conversation -
    https://theconversation.com/the-4-biggest-gift-giving-mistakes-according-to-a-consumer-psychologist-195169 
  14. Popular Science -
    https://www.popsci.com/story/diy/sustainable-holiday-strategies/ 
  15. Natural Resources Defense Council -
    https://savethefood.com/guestimator 
  16. USDA -
    https://www.usda.gov/media/blog/2018/10/04/usda-updates-foodkeeper-app-include-new-food-items 
  17. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency -
    https://www.epa.gov/recycle/electronics-donation-and-recycling
  18. CanICompostIt.com -
    https://canicompostit.com/candle-wax/
  19. CNN -
    https://www.cnn.com/2022/11/25/us/real-or-artificial-christmas-tree-climate/index.html
Posted in Real Estate News
Nov. 1, 2023

35 Tips to Furnish Your New Home for Less


Buying a new home is one of the most exciting experiences in life. And if you’re like most homebuyers, you’ll be planning your furniture placement and decor before the ink dries on your offer letter.

But before you run to the nearest home goods store, take a deep breath. First, you’ll need to delay any major purchases before you close on your new home. A large outlay or additional line of credit could lower your credit score and, thus, impact your mortgage terms.1 Second, moving and closing costs can add up quickly, so it’s important to be strategic with your remaining budget.

But don’t worry! There are plenty of ways to save on home essentials, and we’ve rounded up some of our favorites to share with you. 

 

PRIORITIZE WHAT YOU REALLY NEED BEFORE YOU START SHOPPING

According to Home Advisor, the national average cost to furnish a new house is $16,000, but it can easily soar higher.2  That’s why we recommend starting with a thorough assessment of what you already have and what you actually need to start life in your new place. Here are some steps to help you prioritize your purchases and keep spending in check. 

  • Make a list of everything you need. Going room by room could help you brainstorm—for example, you might list items ranging from a mattress to blackout curtains for your new primary bedroom.
  • Inventory what you already have. Cross the big (dining table) to the small (kitchen knives) off your list as you go.
  • Divide the remaining items into three groups: things you need right away (a mattress), items you’d like to have in the near future (a coffee table for your living room), and pieces that can wait (an area rug).
  • Calculate your budget. Figure out how much money you’ll have available for immediate purchases after the sale has closed, and start researching the items on your priority list to understand how they’ll fit into your budget.
  • Don’t rush the process. Bringing older items to your new space doesn’t mean you need to keep them forever. Consider hanging onto pieces that can tide you over for a year or two until your bank account has recovered from the costs of a home purchase. 


Before you start shopping, make sure you know which appliances and fixtures are included with your home purchase. We can inform you of the standard contract terms when you’re making an initial offer and note any additional items that you would like to request.

 

TIME YOUR PURCHASES TO MAKE THE MOST OF SEASONAL SALES

Did you know that some home items predictably go on sale at certain times of the year? If you can wait to buy these pieces when prices are lower, you could save significantly. Here are some of the best times to buy household essentials:3,4

  • Bedding and linens: January
  • TVs: Black Friday/Cyber Monday and late January (before the Super Bowl)
  • Furniture: February and August, as well as Black Friday, Memorial Day, and Labor Day
  • Large appliances: Labor Day through October
  • Small kitchen appliances: May
  • Mattresses: Holiday weekends, especially Memorial Day, Labor Day, and 4th of July
  • Vacuum cleaners: April
  • Tools: June
  • Outdoor furniture: August through October


Generally speaking, holiday weekends (as well as Black Friday and Cyber Monday) tend to be great times to find deals. If the item you’re looking for is seasonal—like patio furniture or holiday decorations—waiting until the end of that season usually pays off.

 

FIND ALTERNATIVE SHOPPING SOURCES

Can’t wait for a sale? It’s time to think outside of the box (the big-box stores, that is). There are plenty of surprising places to find great furniture and houseware deals. 

  • Check out overstock and liquidation stores. These stores purchase items other retailers haven’t sold and offer them at a steep discount. The inventory can be hit or miss, but you can often get a great deal if you find what you’re looking for.5
  • Try private membership/warehouse stores. Retailers like Costco and Sam’s Club often have great deals on home goods. If you’re not already a member, ask family or friends if they are willing to take you to look around before you commit.
  • Consider open-box items.  When buyers return items like furniture or electronics, retailers can’t always sell them as new, even if they haven’t truly been used. Look online for open-box deals from retailers like Wayfair and Amazon Warehouse or visit local retailers to see what they have in stock.
  • Give scratch-and-dent appliances a chance. These appliances are brand new but sold at deep discounts because their external packaging was damaged. Typically, this means that flaws are purely cosmetic—but it’s always possible that the merchandise has suffered more serious damage. So, be sure to check out the appliances carefully and ask about included warranties.6
  • Expand your window treatment search. Window treatments can be surprisingly expensive, but it’s often possible to save by buying off-the-shelf offerings in standard sizes. If you need a custom size or material, consider ordering online from a discount supplier and installing them yourself.
  • Shop secondhand. In addition to thrift stores and garage sales, Facebook Marketplace, NextDoor, and Craigslist are all great places to find deals in your area.


Are alternative shopping sources still a stretch for your budget? Check out local Freecycle or “Buy Nothing” groups, which are often hosted on Facebook. Participants offer big and small items they no longer need—everything from furniture to clothing hangers—for free to other members.7,8 

 

DON’T BE AFRAID TO NEGOTIATE FOR A BETTER DEAL

Many people don’t realize that prices for home goods, from furniture to appliances, are often negotiable. While asking for a discount can be intimidating, it’s common practice in many industries, although more so at independently-owned stores than chains. Here are a few tips:9,10

  • Comparison shop before you walk into a store. If you can find a lower price for the same item elsewhere, many retailers will match it.
  • Ask the store associate or manager for the best price available. They may be able to offer additional discounts or coupons.
  • If you can pay in cash, ask if you can get a discount for doing so. The seller may be happy to offer a small price reduction to avoid paying processor fees.
  • Call ahead to ask about applicable discounts. Some retailers offer price reductions for active military, veterans, teachers, first responders, or senior citizens on certain days or times of the year.
  • Point out scratches or dings to the sales associate. They may be willing to offer a discount to compensate for the imperfection.
  • Ask about floor models. Many stores offer these pieces at a lower price, even if they’re in like-new condition. 


After you’ve negotiated a killer deal, don’t forget to ask for free or discounted delivery! Sometimes furniture and appliance stores will offer complimentary delivery or installation if you spend a certain amount or purchase multiple items.

 

MAKE THE MOST OF REWARD PROGRAMS AND COUPONS

Every penny counts when you’re on a budget—and spending a little extra time maximizing reward programs and discounts is usually worthwhile. 

  • Sign up for a change of address kit with the United States Postal Service. You’ll need to do anyways to forward mail to your new address, and it comes packed with valuable coupons.11
  • Make sure you never miss a sale.  Sign up for your favorite retailers’ email lists and follow them on social media for discounts and sale alerts.
  • Take advantage of loyalty programs. If you’re making a big purchase or getting multiple items from one store, ask about free loyalty programs. Signing up often comes with an introductory coupon.
  • Consider store credit cards (carefully). Store credit cards can offer significant discounts—but only charge items you can pay off right away to avoid interest, and never open new lines of credit until your home purchase is complete, since it can affect your credit score.
  • Enroll in coupon and cashback programs. When you’re shopping online, programs like Rakuten and Honey can help you find coupon codes and give you cash back on purchases.


While you’re at it, why not set up a housewarming registry?12  You can share the link with family and friends if they ask what you need—and you can also use it to score discounts. Many stores offer a percentage off to help you buy unpurchased items on your registry. 

 

GET CREATIVE

If you want to avoid a cookie-cutter home aesthetic—and save a few bucks—try reimagining your existing furniture and how it could fit into your new space. Here are a few of our favorite strategies. 

  • Repurpose what you have. Instead of buying a new item to fit a specific purpose, ask yourself if you can use what you have in a different way. For example, repurpose an old dresser as a television stand or use a mismatched dining chair in your home office.
  • Upgrade existing items. Sometimes, a new coat of paint or varnish, or simply swapping out drawer pulls and handles, can lend a new lease on life to an old piece of furniture. You can also keep this strategy in mind if you see second-hand items that would be just right if they were a different color or had nicer fixtures.
  • Reupholster instead of buying new. If you have a tired-looking sofa or chair that’s still comfortable and stable, think about getting it reupholstered in new fabric instead of replacing it.
  • Get handy. Building furniture is certainly not for everyone, but with some basic tools and help from the internet, you may find that simple items like headboards are well within your grasp. You might also be able to repair pieces you already have and avoid shopping altogether. 


Do-it-yourself projects can be fun, but they aren’t for everyone. If you’d like some professional help, reach out for a list of our recommended service providers.

 

WE’RE HERE TO HELP

We know budgeting for a new home can be overwhelming, and we want to make the process easier for you. If you’re considering a home purchase, we can advise you on a realistic budget and help you review your options. We can also offer insights on other financial considerations and programs and incentives that can help make homeownership more attainable. Reach out for a free consultation. 

 


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

 

Sources: 

  1. Bankrate -
    https://www.bankrate.com/mortgages/avoid-mortgage-closing-missteps/
  2. Furniture Bank -
    https://www.furniturebank.org/how-much-does-it-cost-to-furnish-an-apartment/   
  3. US News -
    https://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/saving-and-budgeting/articles/the-best-time-of-year-to-buy-everything
  4. NerdWallet -
    https://www.nerdwallet.com/article/finance/wht-to-buy-every-month 
  5. Business Insider -
    https://www.businessinsider.com/personal-finance/strategies-to-save-money-on-furniture-for-my-new-home?r=US&IR=T 
  6. CNET -
    https://www.cnet.com/home/kitchen-and-household/buy-scratch-and-dent-appliances/ 
  7. Real Simple -
    https://www.realsimple.com/home-organizing/green-living/buy-nothing-groups 
  8. Freecycle -
    https://www.freecycle.org/
  9. Consumer Reports -
    https://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2013/08/how-to-bargain/index.htm 
  10. Realtor.com -
    https://www.realtor.com/advice/home-improvement/furniture-stores-money-saving-tricks/ 
  11. The Krazy Coupon Lady -
    https://thekrazycouponlady.com/tips/money/usps-moving-coupons 
  12. Taste of Home -
    https://www.tasteofhome.com/article/housewarming-registry/ 
Posted in Real Estate News
Oct. 1, 2023

Income Properties Are Trending, But Is Landlord Life for You?

 

If the thought of investing your money into brick and mortar—or perhaps some stylishly-painted siding—excites you, join the club.

Investing in real estate has long been one of Americans' favorite ways to grow their wealth. In fact, over 70% of single-family rental properties are currently owned by individual investors rather than corporations, according to Census data.1 

Moreover, a decade's worth of Bankrate surveys has found that Americans often prefer real estate for long-term wealth building over other investments. According to Bankrate's latest survey, for example, Americans have historically embraced real estate, in part, because of the strong return on investment it can offer—especially to investors willing to stick with a property over time.2 It’s also a popular way to hedge against inflation since both rental income and property values tend to rise in tandem with overall prices.3

Now, as higher interest rates continue to push priced-out homebuyers to the sidelines, a new crop of “mom and pop” investors are eyeing the mushrooming rental market as a potential goldmine.4 Interest in buying a home to both live in and rent is also on the rise, especially amongst cash-strapped buyers looking to supplement their mortgage payments.5

But how do you know if you’re well-suited to take advantage of these real estate investment opportunities? Here are three signs that owning a rental property could be right for you.

 

1. YOU'RE A HOMEBUYER WHO WANTS HELP COVERING THE MORTGAGE

If you're looking for a creative way to buy a home without overspending, “house hacking” could be the answer. Increasingly popular with first-time homebuyers and budget-conscious investors, house hacking simply means buying a home that you intend to live in while renting out a portion of it to one or more tenants.5 

House hacking also tends to be easier to break into than traditional real estate investing since you don't need as high a credit score or as large a down payment to qualify for a mortgage. In fact, some government-backed mortgage programs will let you buy a primary residence with little to no money down.6 Buying a home you don't plan to live in, by contrast, may require you to put down as much as 15% to 25% to qualify for a loan.7  

If you house hack, the money you collect for rent each month can help cover your mortgage and other homeownership expenses. Depending on your setup, you may also be able to save on utility bills by splitting them with your tenant or tacking a portion onto their monthly rent. Another major advantage of house hacking is that it entitles you to certain tax benefits and deductions available only to landlords.8

When it's time to start your search, we can help you find a property that's ideal for house hacking, such as a house with a walkout basement, a multifamily unit, or a home with enough outdoor space to build an accessory dwelling unit or garage apartment.

 

2. YOU'RE AN INVESTOR LOOKING FOR STEADY AND RELIABLE INCOME

If you’re not crazy about the idea of a live-in tenant but still desire an additional stream of income, a dedicated long-term rental property could be a better option for you. Besides the monthly proceeds, purchasing a rental home can also add diversity and long-term stability to your investment portfolio and help you build wealth over time.9

According to data from the Federal Reserve, real estate owners have historically prospered. In early 2020, for example, the median home was worth almost triple what it was 30 years prior. Then, during the pandemic-era real estate boom, average home prices grew at an especially frenzied clip, climbing by nearly 50%, on average, in just two and a half years.10 

However, the rate of appreciation can be hard to predict, so it’s prudent to invest in a property that also offers positive cash flow, which means the rent you take in exceeds your expenses. This strategy helps to ensure that you’ll put money in your pocket each month, even if the property’s value takes time to grow.

While today’s higher mortgage rates can make it more challenging for landlords to turn a profit, investment opportunities aren’t reserved for cash buyers. In fact, currently, almost 60% of real estate investors take out a loan to finance their purchase, according to Thomas Malone, an economist at the real estate data firm CoreLogic.4  He also notes that more small investors are stepping in to meet demand for rental housing, which has grown since many would-be buyers remain priced out of the purchase market.4 

If you want to explore opportunities for a residential rental property that's good for your wallet and attractive to renters, we can help. Reach out with questions or to schedule a free consultation. 

 

3. YOU'RE AN EXPERIENCED INVESTOR LOOKING TO MAXIMIZE YOUR POTENTIAL RETURNS

Another increasingly popular way to draw income from an investment property is to convert it to a short-term vacation rental. But beware: This strategy can be riskier as some municipalities have tightened rental restrictions and others are suffering from market oversaturation.11,12 

With that said, if you're an experienced investor who can afford to take on some uncertainty, then investing in a short-term rental could make sense for you. 

If you find the right property, for example, you could earn significantly more renting it short-term on a platform like Airbnb than if you rented the home to a long-term tenant.11

The key is to keep it occupied as much as possible at a premium nightly rate. To do that, you’ll need some marketing savvy, hospitality skills, and business acumen. Of course, you can always hire a professional property manager, but you’ll need to factor the cost into your budget.

The vacation rental market enjoyed a boom during the pandemic, and some inexperienced investors are finding they bit off more than they can chew. As a result, there's an opportunity to snap up some of these properties, but you'll need some cash on hand and a willingness to learn the business.12

We can help you scout opportunities in our local market or, if you’re interested in investing in another area, we can refer you to an agent there for assistance.

 

BOTTOMLINE

Investing in real estate can be a great way to build your wealth long-term and earn some extra income. But to make the most of your investment, it pays to be strategic. 

Call us for a consultation so we can discuss your goals and budget. We'll help you discover neighborhoods with the best income potential, point out the homes most suited to renting, and help you brainstorm the best investment strategy for you.

 

Before you take the plunge, make sure you can answer “YES”
to these three questions:


1. Are you ready to be a landlord?

Owning a rental property can take a lot of time and energy. You're not just buying passive income, you're also building sweat equity since the time you spend maintaining, marketing, and managing your rental can add up quickly. So be prepared to do some soul-searching to ensure you’ll not only flourish as a landlord, but actually enjoy it. 

If you want to invest in real estate but aren’t prepared to put in the day-to-day effort required, we can refer you to a property management service for help. 

 

2. Can you afford to invest in real estate?

The last thing you want is to get over-extended with your new real estate venture. Besides the cost of purchasing the property, you’ll need to consider additional expenses, like property taxes, insurance, administrative costs, and maintenance and repairs. You will also need a cash reserve for unexpected issues or potential vacancies.

We can help you run the numbers to determine whether you can charge enough rent to offset your expenditures.

 

3. Have you found the right income property?

Even if you’ve got your finances in order and are emotionally ready to invest, your success as a landlord will also depend on the property you buy. The criteria for a good rental home and a good family home are often different, so it’s important to lean on professionals for advice. 

We can help you find an ideal rental property, taking into account your budget, risk appetite, and investment goals. If you decide to invest in a different area, we'll connect you with an agent who's more plugged into that community. Reach out today to schedule a free consultation.

 

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

 

Sources:

  1. PR Newswire -
    https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/census-data-show-individuals-continue-to-own-largest-share-of-single-family-rental-homes-301725024.html
  2. Bankrate -
    https://www.bankrate.com/investing/survey-favorite-long-term-investment-2022/ 
  3. Forbes -
    https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesbusinesscouncil/2022/04/14/why-income-generating-real-estate-is-the-best-hedge-against-inflation/?sh=1081ce921746
  4. MarketWatch -
    https://www.msn.com/en-us/money/realestate/another-challenge-for-homebuyers-more-investors-are-snapping-up-homes-and-40-of-them-are-using-cash/ar-AA1foWSB
  5. Realtor.com -
    https://www.realtor.com/advice/buy/on-the-house-house-hacking-your-way-into-your-first-home/ 
  6. NerdWallet -
    https://www.nerdwallet.com/article/mortgages/government-home-loans
  7. LendingTree -
    https://www.lendingtree.com/home/mortgage/down-payment-for-rental-property/ 
  8. Quicken Loans -
    https://www.quickenloans.com/learn/house-hacking
  9. Investors Business Daily -
    https://www.investors.com/etfs-and-funds/personal-finance/rental-properties-investing-experts/
  10. St. Louis Fed FRED Economic Data -
    https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/MSPUS 
  11. Story by J.P. Morgan -
    https://story.jpmorgan.com/real-estate-news/thinking-about-investing-in-short-term-rentals-heres-what-to-know
  12. Skift -
    https://skift.com/2023/07/21/short-term-rental-saturation-leads-to-a-correction-and-lots-of-home-sales/
Posted in Real Estate News
Sept. 1, 2023

Top 7 Tips To Attract the Best Offers for Your Home



Not long ago, home sellers were in their heyday, as historically-low mortgage rates triggered a real estate buying frenzy. However, the Federal Reserve shut down the party when it began raising interest rates last year.1  

Now, it’s not as simple to sell a home. While pandemic-era homebuyers were racing the clock—trying to lock in a low mortgage rate and gain a foothold in the market—current buyers are more discerning. Higher prices and mortgage rates have pushed their limits of affordability, leading them to prioritize cost, condition, and overall value.2

The reality is, home inventory remains low, so most properties will still sell with some basic prep, the right price, and a good real estate agent. But owners who go the extra mile are more likely to sell faster and for a higher amount.

If you have plans to sell your home and want to net the most money possible, this list is for you. Here are our top seven strategies to attract the best offers and maximize your real estate returns.

 

1. UNDERGO A PRE-LISTING INSPECTION

Many homebuyers hire a professional to complete a home inspection before they close. But did you know that a seller can order their own inspection, known as a pre-listing inspection, before they put their home on the market? 

Having a pre-listing inspection on hand and ready to share shows interested buyers that you’re committed to a transparent transaction. This can help you market your home, strengthen your negotiating position, and minimize roadblocks to closing.3 

Of course, it’s always possible that a pre-listing inspection—which looks at the home’s major systems and structures, among other things—could turn up a significant problem. This does carry some risk, as you’ll be required to either fix or disclose any issues to potential buyers. However, in most cases, it’s better to know about and address deficiencies upfront than to find out mid-transaction, when it could cost you more in the form of concessions, a delayed closing, or a canceled sale.

We can help you decide if a pre-listing inspection is right for you. And if it identifies any concerns, we can advise on which items need attention before you list your home.

 

2. CONSIDER STRATEGIC UPGRADES

Embarking on major renovations before putting your home on the market doesn’t always make financial (or logistical) sense. However, certain upgrades are more likely to pay off and can help elevate your home in the eyes of buyers.

For example, refinishing hardwood floors results in an average 147% return on investment at resale and new garage doors typically pay for themselves.4  Similarly, research shows that professional landscaping can boost a home’s value by as much as 20%.5

Often, even simpler and less expensive fixes can make a big difference in how your home comes across to buyers. A fresh coat of paint in a neutral color, modern light fixtures and hardware, and new caulk around the tub or shower can help your property look its best.5  

But before you make any changes to your home, reach out. We know what buyers in your neighborhood are looking for and can help you decide if a particular investment is worthwhile.

 

3. HIRE A HOME STAGER

To get standout offers, you need potential buyers to fall in love with your home—and they’re much more likely to do so if they can envision themselves in the space. 

That’s where home staging comes in. Staging can include everything from decluttering and packing away personal items to bringing in neutral furniture and accessories for showings and open houses. 

According to the National Association of Realtors, home staging can both increase the dollar value of home offers and help a property sell faster. In fact, 53% of seller’s agents agree that staging decreases the amount of time a home spends on the market, and 44% of buyer’s agents see higher offers for staged homes.6 

There’s plenty of strategy and research behind the process, so it’s smart to consider a professional. Reach out for a connection to one of our recommended home stagers who can help your property show its full potential.

 

4. EMPLOY A COMPETITIVE PRICING STRATEGY

While it’s tempting to list your property at the highest possible price, that approach can backfire. Homes that are overpriced tend to sit on the market, which can drive away potential buyers—and drive down offers.7  

Alternatively, if you price your home competitively, which is either at or slightly below market value, it can be among the nicest that buyers see within their budgets. This can ultimately lead to a higher sales price and fewer concessions.

To help you list at the right price, we will do a comparative market analysis, or CMA. This integral piece of research will help us determine an ideal listing price based on the amount that comparable properties have recently sold for in your neighborhood.

Without this data, you risk pricing your home too high (and getting no offers) or too low (and leaving money on the table). Combined with our local market insights, we’ll help you find that sweet spot that will attract the best offers while maximizing your profit margin.

 

5. OFFER BUYER INCENTIVES

Sometimes, sweetening the deal with buyer incentives can help you get the best possible offer. Incentives are especially helpful in the current market, when many buyers are struggling with affordability and concerned about their monthly payments. 

Options that can pay off include:

  • Buying down their interest rate – You can pay an upfront sum to reduce the buyer’s mortgage rate. This approach can save far more than that cost over the life of the loan, meaning it’s worth more to the buyer than a simple price reduction.8
  • Offering closing cost credits – You might pay a set amount or a certain percentage of the buyer’s closing costs.
  • Paying HOA costs – You could cover homeowner association or condominium fees for a set period of time.
  • Including furniture or appliances in the sale – If your buyer is interested, throwing in the furniture or appliances that they want and need can make your property more appealing. 

Buyer incentives vary and valuing them can get complicated. We’re happy to talk through the options that might make sense for you. 

 

6. USE A PROVEN PROPERTY MARKETING PLAN

Gone are the days when it was enough to put a “for sale” sign in your yard and place a listing on the MLS. A strategic marketing plan is now essential to get your home in front of as many interested and qualified buyers as possible. 

The truth is, buyers who don’t know about your house can’t make an offer. That’s why we utilize a multi-step approach to marketing that starts with identifying your target audience, effectively positioning your home in the market, and communicating its unique value. We then use a variety of distribution channels to connect with potential buyers and performance-based metrics to monitor and improve our campaign results.

Our proven approach can have a big impact on the success of your sale. Reach out to learn more about our multi-step marketing plan and discuss how we can use it to generate interest and offers for your home.

 

7. WORK WITH AN AGENT WHO UNDERSTANDS YOUR AREA

To get the best offers possible, you need a real estate agent who knows your area inside and out. 

Any agent can pull comparable sales data, but in a quickly-evolving market, even the latest comps can lag the current market reality. We have our fingers on the pulse of the local market because we’re working directly with sellers like you. We also represent local buyers who are active in the market, searching for homes like yours.

That puts us in an ideal position to help you price your home for a quick sale and maximum profit. And since we hear first-hand what local buyers want, we can help you prep your home to broaden its appeal and highlight its most-coveted features. Additionally, we can use our extensive network of local agents to solicit feedback and get your home in front of more potential buyers. 

All of these factors can add up to a significant difference in your profit: In 2021, the typical home sold by owner went for $225,000 compared to a median price of $330,000 for agent-assisted home sales.9

 

LET’S GET MOVING

Are you ready to get a great offer for your home? Our multifaceted approach can help you maximize your real estate returns. Reach out for a free home value assessment and customized sales plan to get started!

 

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

 

Sources:

  1. U.S. Bank -
    https://www.usbank.com/investing/financial-perspectives/investing-insights/interest-rates-impact-on-housing-market.html
  2. National Association of Realtors -
    https://www.nar.realtor/sites/default/files/documents/2023-home-buyers-and-sellers-generational-trends-report-03-28-2023.pdf
  3. Bankrate -
    https://www.bankrate.com/real-estate/prelisting-inspection/
  4. National Association of Realtors -
    https://www.nar.realtor/sites/default/files/documents/2022-remodeling-impact-report-04-19-2022.pdf
  5. Bankrate -
    https://www.bankrate.com/homeownership/landscaping-increase-home-value/
  6. National Association of Realtors -
    https://www.nar.realtor/infographics/staged-for-success 
  7. The Balance -
    https://www.thebalancemoney.com/looking-twice-at-overpriced-homes-1798671
  8. U.S. News & World Report -
    https://money.usnews.com/loans/mortgages/articles/a-guide-to-seller-paid-mortgage-rate-buydowns
  9. National Association of Realtors -
    https://www.nar.realtor/research-and-statistics/quick-real-estate-statistics
Posted in Real Estate News
July 31, 2023

7 Common Homebuyer Regrets (And How To Avoid Them)



To avoid buyer's remorse, be sure to consider your future self when shopping for a home. 

Most new homebuyers don't regret becoming homeowners. In fact, according to a survey by LendingTree, 80% of recent buyers who successfully overcame a challenging housing market say they're glad they found their current homes.1 But that doesn't mean newly-minted homeowners don't have any regrets about their buying choices. 

On the contrary, research shows that even the most-satisfied homeowners would change some aspects of their home purchase if given the opportunity. According to a recent survey by Anytime Estimate, nearly 3 out of 4 buyers who purchased a home in 2021 or 2022 still have a few regrets.2 

Some question their decision to move to a neighborhood they still don't love. Others wish they had been less picky about where they lived so they could have paid less. Many are afraid they overspent or think they sacrificed too much in their rush to buy a home. 

Here are some of the most common homebuyer regrets we see, along with our professional advice on how to avoid them.

 

REGRET #1: Spending More Than Necessary 

No one wants to overpay for their new home purchase (and, luckily, with the right guidance, doing so is avoidable). But even if you've secured a winning purchase price, there are still plenty of ways to accidentally overspend. 

One of the most common ways to overpay? Choose the wrong mortgage. In fact, in today's higher-rate environment, this can be one of the riskiest mistakes a new buyer can make. 

According to a recent survey, for example, nearly three-quarters of homebuyers leave money on the table by not bothering to shop around for the best rate.3 And research by LendingTree suggests that buyers in major metro areas lose an average of $63,151 over the life of their loan just by picking the first mortgage they're offered.4

Lesson LearnedAs long as you stick to what you can afford, buying a home can be a boon for your financial health. The longer you live in it, for example, the more your home is likely to appreciate in value and boost your long-term savings. 

But to get the most value from your purchase, it's worth your time to compare financing options and shop around for the best deal. We also recommend getting a mortgage pre-approval before you start your home search so you know what's within reach. We can refer you to one of our trusted lending partners for help.

 

REGRET #2: Rushing Into a Home Purchase

In a competitive housing market, it's often necessary to act fast to secure a home. But don't let a need for speed tempt you into making an offer before you've thought through or fully vetted a new property.   

Rushing into a home purchase isn’t just risky, it's also one of the most commonly cited sources of homebuyer regret. According to Anytime Estimate, for example, more than 1 in 4 homebuyers felt remorse over how quickly they sped through the home buying process.2 

Getting swept away by your emotions can also lead to buyer's remorse. If you've found a home you love and are competing with other buyers, it can be tempting to overlook key details or bid more than you can afford. That's one reason it helps to have a skilled professional by your side to calmly guide you through the process and ensure you act with reason, rather than emotion.

Lesson Learned:  Buying a home is exciting. But if you don't keep your emotions in check or act too impulsively, you could make poor choices in the moment that are hard to undo later. 

To avoid making last-minute decisions that could backfire, know what you want, what you need, and what you can afford before you start your home search. We can help you set priorities so you’ll be able to move forward with confidence when the time is right.

 

REGRET #3: Miscalculating the Costs of Homeownership

Though real estate is a great long-term investment, it can be pricey in the short-term, often surprising homeowners who aren't prepared for it. According to some estimates, for example, annual maintenance could cost as much as 1% or more of your home's purchase price.5 Some buyers also forget to factor in additional ownership expenses, such as property taxes, insurance, and repairs.

Failing to think through the costs of homeownership is one of the most common sources of homebuyer regret. According to Anytime Estimate, for example, nearly half of the homebuyers who regret their purchase said they underestimated how much they would spend to live in it.2

However, some homes cost more to live in and maintain than others. So even if you're certain that you can afford the average cost of homeownership, that doesn't necessarily mean that every home in your price range will fit neatly into your budget. For example, very old homes with unique maintenance requirements could be extra pricey to keep up. Similarly, homes with high HOA or condo fees could also eat into your monthly budget. 

Lesson Learned:  A home should help you build your wealth, not drain it. So it's important to factor in all the potential costs of living in a home—not just obvious ones like your mortgage payment and taxes. To ensure you don't get overextended, add up your estimated maintenance and repair costs, as well as any miscellaneous expenses that are unique to a particular home. 

We can help you with these estimates—and, if needed, present you with some less-costly alternatives.

 

REGRET #4: Underestimating the Time Required To Maintain or Renovate a Home

One of the most joyful aspects of homeownership is getting to relax in a home that's all your own. But if a home is too high maintenance, then you may not have time to savor it. 

Many homeowners love to spend their weekends puttering in their gardens or undertaking home improvement projects. But if that's not you, then you may not like living in a home with a big yard or with high-maintenance features, like a pool.

According to a survey by Hippo, for example, 47% of homeowners who feel some regret about their home purchase complain that too much maintenance and upkeep is required.6 

Similarly, buyers who purchase fixer-uppers are often surprised by how much time it takes to rehab their new homes. Although buying a fixer-upper is a great way to save on the purchase price, you could come to resent it if it eats up all your free time.

Lesson Learned:  Renovation and maintenance projects are often time-consuming and stressful. So beware of committing to a property that requires too much of your attention if you don't have the time or patience for it. With that said, home improvement projects can also bring a lot of joy and satisfaction to owners who like rolling up their sleeves.

We can talk through the realities of homeownership with you and help you choose a property that will fit your personality and schedule.

 

REGRET #5: Ignoring or Skipping a Home Inspection

It’s easy to get swept up in the excitement of buying a home. Sometimes, buyers will agree to skip a home inspection to sweeten their offer in a competitive market. They may also be tempted to pinch pennies since they’re already facing a large outlay. However, if you skip out on a home inspection, you could come to regret it.

When you hire a home inspector, you get a professional, in-depth examination of the property’s structures and systems before you buy it. It’s a worthwhile investment that can save you money in the long run, either by warning you away from a bad purchase or by providing a list of deficiencies you can use to negotiate with the sellers. 

But even the most thorough home inspection isn't going to be worth much if you don't take the time to carefully consider it. If at all possible, make sure you’re on-site during the inspection so you can observe and ask questions. And don’t forget to re-evaluate any repairs that the seller agrees to make to ensure they’ve been properly completed prior to closing.

Lesson Learned:  A home inspection can reduce your risk and save you money in the long run. But to maximize its effectiveness, you will need to be an active participant in the process.

We’d be happy to share a list of experienced and trustworthy home inspectors in our area. And when the inspection report is complete, we can help you decide if the purchase is worthwhile and negotiate any relevant seller concessions and repairs.

 

REGRET #6: Choosing a Home That Doesn't Fit 

Homeownership is often a better investment if you’re willing to stay put for at least five years.7 But if your newly purchased home isn’t a good fit, then you may not want to stick around that long. 

Many homeowner complaints come down to simple lifestyle issues: Although a mismatch may seem small at first, the problems can magnify if you make so many compromises that they interfere with your quality of life.

Or, sometimes homebuyers can fall in love with a beautiful home and forget about practicalities. For example, a stunning kitchen can’t replace a needed bedroom or bathroom. And a sparkling pool may sit empty if the home requires a lengthy commute to your office.

Make sure you set some guardrails during your home purchase so you don’t over-compromise or accidentally prioritize your wants over your needs.

Lesson Learned:  When you’re dealing with limited inventory or a fixed budget, it may be necessary to sacrifice some items on your home wish list. But if you fail to secure your must-haves, you could come to regret your home choice.

We can help you avoid an ill-fitting home purchase by working with you to set (and stick to) priorities and parameters before you begin your search. 

 

REGRET #7: Purchasing Without Professional Help

Another path to homebuyer regret? Foregoing the expert guidance and market insight that you can only get from a licensed real estate agent.

Buying a home without professional representation can be extremely risky. Therefore, it’s no surprise that 86% of buyers enlist the help of an agent when purchasing a home. And the vast majority find their assistance to be invaluable: 89% say they would use their agent again or recommend them to others.8

Real estate is hyperlocal and extremely fluid—especially these days when the market is in constant flux. So it pays to have a knowledgeable expert by your side who can guide you through an often-complicated process. 

We can help you avoid expensive mistakes that could lead to buyer’s remorse, all while making your home purchase as seamless and stress-free as possible. And since the home seller typically pays our commission, there’s no added expense for you!

Lesson Learned:  When you work with a real estate agent, you benefit from a wealth of expertise and on-the-ground insight that you can't get anywhere else. We’ll help you steer clear of the missteps that so many homebuyers make, so you can focus on enjoying your new home instead of questioning your choices down the road.

The best part? Since the majority of home sellers pay us a commission at closing, in most cases, we offer our invaluable guidance and assistance at no additional cost to you!

 

BOTTOMLINE

No one wants to look back on their home purchase and realize they made a big mistake. We can help you avoid the pitfalls so you can buy with confidence. To learn more about how we work to ensure our clients’ satisfaction, reach out today to schedule a free consultation.

 

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

 

Sources:

  1. LendingTree -
    https://www.lendingtree.com/home/mortgage/homebuying-process-survey/
  2. Anytime Estimate -
    https://anytimeestimate.com/research/american-home-buyers-2022/
     
  3. Zillow Home Loans -
    https://zillow.mediaroom.com/2022-11-18-Prospective-home-buyers-spend-about-as-much-time-researching-new-TVs-as-they-do-mortgage-lenders
     
  4. LendingTree -
    https://www.lendingtree.com/home/mortgage/mortgage-shopping-study/
  5. CNBC -
    https://www.cnbc.com/2022/05/01/survey-majority-of-homeowners-have-regrets.html
  6. Hippo -
    https://www.hippo.com/blog/2022-hippo-housepower-report-how-homeowners-are-responding-essential-maintenance-during
  7. Realtor.com -
    https://www.realtor.com/advice/sell/how-soon-can-you-sell-a-house-after-buying/
     
  8. National Association of Realtors -
    https://www.nar.realtor/research-and-statistics/research-reports/highlights-from-the-profile-of-home-buyers-and-sellers#homebuyers
Posted in Real Estate News
July 1, 2023

Renovate or Relocate? 3 Questions To Help You Decide



Does your current home no longer serve your needs?

If so, you may be torn between relocating to a new home or renovating your existing one. This can be a difficult choice, and there’s a lot to consider—including potential costs, long-term financial implications, and quality of life. 

A major remodel can be a major commitment. From hiring contractors to selecting materials to managing a budget, it can take a tremendous amount of time and energy—not to mention the ordeal of living through construction or relocating to a temporary residence.

On the other hand, moving is notoriously taxing. In fact, in one survey, 40% of respondents viewed buying a new home as ”the most stressful event in modern life.”1

So which is the better option for you? Let’s take a closer look at some of the factors you should consider before you decide.

 

1. What Are Your Motivations for Making a Change?

It’s possible that some of the limitations of your current home can be addressed with a renovation, but others may require a move. 

Renovate

Certain issues, like dated kitchens and bathrooms, are fairly easy to remedy with a remodel—and the results can be dramatic. In many cases, a relatively minor renovation can significantly increase your enjoyment of your home. 

Other shortcomings can be more challenging to fix but are worth exploring so that you know your options. For example, if your home feels cramped or it lacks certain rooms, you might be able to make changes like installing an extra bathroom, adding a dedicated office, or finishing an attic or basement. You may even be able to build an accessory dwelling unit or extension to accommodate a multi-generational family. 

In fact, many Americans have remodeled their homes to meet changing needs since the start of the pandemic. According to the National Association of the Remodeling Industry, 90% of their members reported increased demand for renovations starting in 2020, and 60% reported that the scale of remodeling projects has grown.2

However, the feasibility and cost of these larger changes will depend on factors ranging from zoning and permitting to your home’s current layout. Speaking with an architect or a contractor can help you make an informed decision. Let us refer you to one of our trusted partners to ensure you receive the best possible service.

Relocate

Of course, sometimes, even rebuilding your home from the ground up wouldn’t solve the problem. For example, moving may be the only solution if you’ve switched jobs and now face a lengthy commute or if you need to live closer to an aging family member. 

Conversely, if the shift to remote work has opened up your location options, you may wish to seize the opportunity to relocate to a new locale. A 2022 study found that nearly five million Americans had already moved since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic due to increased flexibility from remote work, and nearly 19 million more were planning to move in the near future for the same reasons.3  

Moving may also be the best option, even when you’re happy with your geographic location. A local move may make sense if you’re looking for a larger backyard or significantly more space. Similarly, some frustrations—like living on a busy street or a long way from a grocery store—can’t be addressed with a renovation. We are well-versed in this area and can help you determine whether another neighborhood might suit you and your family better.

 

2. Which Option Makes the Most Financial Sense?

Renovating and relocating both come with costs, and it’s wise to explore the financial implications of each choice before you move forward.

Renovate

The costs of a renovation can vary widely, so it’s vital to get several estimates from contractors upfront to understand what it might take to achieve your dream home. 

Be sure to consider all of the potential expenditures, from materials and permits to updates to your electrical and plumbing systems. It’s also prudent to add 10-20% to your total budget to account for unexpected issues.4  If you plan to DIY all or part of your renovation, don’t forget to factor in the value of your time.

Renovations can also come with hidden expenses. These might include:

  • Additional home insurance
  • Short-term rental or hotel if you need to move out during the renovation
  • Storage unit for possessions that need to be out of the way
  • Dining out, laundry service, and other essentials if you can’t access appliances at home

Remodeling choices can also impact the long-term value of your home. Some projects may increase your home’s value enough to outweigh your investment, while others could actually hurt your home’s resale potential. 

For example, although you may enjoy the additional living space, garage conversions aren’t typically popular with buyers.5 Refinishing hardwood floors, on the other hand, brings an average return of 147% at resale.2  The specific impact of a renovation will depend on a number of factors, including the quality of work, choice of materials, and buyer preferences in your area. We can help you assess how a planned project is likely to affect the value of your home.

Relocate

The cost of a new home, of course, will vary significantly depending on the features you’re seeking. However, you may find that it’s cheaper to move to a home that has everything you want than it is to make major changes to your existing one. 

For example, adding a downstairs bedroom suite or opening up a closed floor plan could cost you more than it would to buy a home that already has those features. On the other hand, simpler changes and updates probably won’t outweigh the expense of a relocation.

If you’re considering a move, speak with a real estate agent early in the process. We can assess your current home’s value and estimate the price of a new home that meets your needs. This will help you set an appropriate budget and expectations. 

It’s important to remember that the cost of buying a new home doesn't end with the purchase price. You’ll also need to account for additional expenditures, including closing and moving costs and the fees involved with selling your current home. And don’t forget to compare current mortgage rates to your existing one to understand how a different rate could impact your monthly payment. 

However, keep in mind that the interest rate on a mortgage is typically lower than the rate on other loan types—so you could pay less interest on a new home purchase than you would on remodel.6 We’re happy to refer you to a lending professional who can help you explore your financing options.

 

3. Which Option Will Be the Least Disruptive to Your Life?

A final—but critical—consideration is the time and hassle involved with each option since both renovating and relocating involve a significant amount of each.

Renovate

Don’t underestimate the time and effort involved in a large-scale renovation, even if you choose to hire a general contractor. You will still need to consider and make a number of decisions. For example, even a fairly basic kitchen remodel can involve a seemingly-endless selection of cabinets, tile, countertops, paint colors, fixtures, hardware, and appliances.

And don’t assume that you will get out of packing and unpacking if you stay in your current home. Most renovations—from kitchens to bathrooms to flooring replacement—require you to remove your belongings during the construction process.

The time frame for a remodel is another consideration. High demand for contractors and ongoing material shortages can mean a long wait to get started. And once the project is in progress, you can expect that it will take a couple of weeks to several months to complete.7

Contemplate whether you will be able to live in your home while it’s being renovated and how that would impact your routine. For example, being without a functional kitchen for months can be frustrating, inconvenient, and expensive (since you’ll need to purchase prepared food). Remember that delays are inevitable with construction, and consider what additional challenges they could present. 

Relocate

Of course, finding a new home and selling your current one also takes a significant amount of time and energy. According to the National Association of Realtors’ 2022 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, the average buyer searched for 10 weeks and toured a median of five homes.8

However, in many cases, the timeline can still be shorter than a major renovation. Once you find a home that works for you, it typically takes between 30 and 60 days to close if you’re taking on a mortgage—and the process is even faster if you’re paying with cash.9  Plus, you can look for your dream home without the inconvenience of living in a construction zone.

However, a move comes with its own stress and disruptions. If you’re selling your current home, you’ll need to prep it for the market and keep it ready and available for showings. Once you’ve found a place, the packing and moving process takes time and work, as does settling into a new home—especially if it’s in a different neighborhood. 

Fortunately, we are here to help make the moving process as easy as possible, if you choose to pursue that route. We can help you find a property that meets all your needs, sell your current one for top dollar, and refer you to some excellent moving companies that can help pack and transport your belongings.

 

WHATEVER YOU DECIDE, WE CAN HELP

The decision to renovate or relocate can be overwhelming—but this choice also presents a powerful opportunity to improve your quality of life.

There’s a lot to consider, from how renovations could impact your home’s resale value down the road to your neighborhood’s current market dynamics. We’re happy to help you think through your options. Get in touch for a free consultation!


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

 

Sources:

  1. HousingWire -
    https://www.housingwire.com/articles/46384-americans-say-buying-a-home-is-most-stressful-event-in-modern-life/
  2. National Association of the Remodeling Industry -
    https://cdn.nar.realtor//sites/default/files/documents/2022-remodeling-impact-report-04-19-2022.pdf?_gl=1*3pfs0m*_gcl_au*NTU2MDQ0MzAyLjE2ODMyMzgzMTY 
  3. Business Insider -
    https://www.businessinsider.com/5-million-people-moved-because-of-remote-work-since-2020-2022-3
  4. Forbes -
    https://www.forbes.com/home-improvement/contractor/home-renovation-costs/ 
  5. U.S. News & World Report -
    https://realestate.usnews.com/real-estate/articles/10-home-renovations-that-can-decrease-the-value-of-your-home 
  6. Bankrate -
    https://www.bankrate.com/mortgages/mortgage-vs-home-equity-loan/#differences
  7. House Beautiful -
    https://www.housebeautiful.com/home-remodeling/a25588459/home-renovation-timeline/ 
  8. National Association of Realtors -
    https://www.nar.realtor/research-and-statistics/research-reports/highlights-from-the-profile-of-home-buyers-and-sellers
  9. Forbes -
    https://www.forbes.com/advisor/mortgages/how-long-does-it-take-to-close-on-a-house/
Posted in Real Estate News