After a mild winter here in Pinckney and throughout all of Michigan, the snow and ice has finally arrived. It is time to break out your favorite moon boots, puffy jacket, and bib overall snow pants, the sledding hills are open. However, if you are trying to sell your home, it can be an incredibly stressful time. Winter house sales are notoriously low, but we are here to help; after all buyers exist year-round not just when the weather is cooperating.
Home buyers and sellers are fewer in the winter months. If you need to buy or sell a home quickly during winter, it is imperative that you work with a professional real estate company like Century 21 Lady of the Lakes. It won’t be a simple process, but when it comes to selling or buying a home, no matter the season, we have you covered.
Attracting Home Buyers
Make Accessing Your Home as Easy as Possible
When visiting homes, buyers are trying to picture themselves
in them. They want to feel safe in the place
that they choose to call home. Part of
this is the ability to easily move about without concern. Make sure you clear the snow and ice from
your driveways, sidewalks, backdoor entrances, and porches. Salt and de-icer should be used in all areas
that will need to be accessed, it shouldn’t be icy where buyers will be. Clear icicles, make pathways to ease access
to the backyard, generally making it easy for sellers to move about the
Make Your Home Welcoming
The inside of your home should make buyers feel as if they
just stepped into their new home. A few
key elements can help with this. First,
turn the thermostat up! Not too high as
to roast them but the home should be comfortably warm.
Next, it is important to take time to bring in the natural sunlight. Open up the curtains and shades in your home to maximize the natural light. If your home is showing during the evening hours, it is equally important to have light but obviously in a different form. Lamp lighting and candle light can have a similar effect.
If you are having a few showings in one day in may be a good idea to set out some waters, coffee, and fingers snacks. After a long day of looking at homes it will be a welcome treat and a way to allow your home to stand out from the others.
Know About the Mechanics of Your Home
Buyers will want to know all about your home because it could someday soon be theirs. Have as much information available as possible on key elements such as the foundation, appliances, water heater, windows, HVAC, plumbing, electrical and roof. Buyers will want to know when they were installed, last serviced, and about the maintenance that has been done. Homeowners appreciate when sellers are good at keeping records about their home’s health and will put their minds at rest.
Remove Clutter and Tidy Up
Your home can look a little cluttered during the winter. Outdoor gear is big and bulky, and Christmas
decorations can be overwhelming, and just general stuff seems to take over in
the winter when we are too cold to put things in their proper place.
Take time before listing your home to pack up the non-sensical things that have accumulated over the years of living within the space. The goal is to unstuff your home so that buyers can see how ample and spacious the home is. This is one tip not to ignore. Rent a storage unit and simply move things that are not needed into it until you sell your home. When all of the closets and garage aren’t bursting at the seems the home appears roomier.
C21 Lady of the Lakes is a
full-service realtor serving Livingston County and the surrounding areas with
all their real estate needs. More
information can be found at http://www.ladyofthelakes.com/.
Buying a house is one of the most exciting things you’ll ever do in your life — and signing the mortgage for that house will probably be one of the most terrifying.
navigating the home loan process can be scary to do alone, many people
might be tempted to seek out guidance from someone who’s been there,
done that. But you should probably ignore everything your Uncle Bob
says. (Sorry, Bob!) And Aunt Sue, while we’re at it. They may mean well,
but let’s face it, they haven’t taken out a mortgage in 20 years. In
fact, even a friend or family member who got a mortgage last
year might lead you far astray (in a well-meaning way, of course), since
the rules of home financing really do change on a dime.
cents? For starters, beware these dusty pearls of wisdom below. They
might have worked wonders back in 2018, but they don’t necessarily work
for everyone right now. Here’s why, as well as some fresher, tastier
Get a mortgage with a fixed interest rate
always assumed you’d get a 30-year mortgage with a fixed interest rate.
Your parents had one … and isn’t that the only way to get payments you
can afford? These days, you have many more choices, and reasons to try
“People aren’t buying their forever home right out of the gate anymore, so the benefits of a 30-year mortgage aren’t necessarily there,” says real estate agent Heather Carbone with the Heather Carbone Team at Big River Properties in Boston. She explains that many first-time home buyers are buying starter homes, and that they plan to move on to something bigger and better after a few years. “Going with a five- or seven-year adjustable rate mortgage [ARM] could potentially save them a couple of hundred dollars off their monthly payment and ease the monthly payment burden a little bit, as they will most likely sell their home before the rates adjust,” she says. Here’s more on the pros and cons of ARMs vs. fixed-rate mortgages.
Make a 20% down payment
you’re trying to come up with a down payment on a house, 20% sounds
like a huge amount. So how do people come up with that kind of cash?
Most of the time, they don’t. At least not anymore.
“I meet with lots of young buyers who have been instilled by their parents and others that the only way to buy a house is with a large, 20% down payment,” says Carbone. “In today’s market, that couldn’t be any further from the truth. Provided the buyer has a solid credit score, down payments as low as 3.5% are very much a reality today.”
Real estate agent Melissa Rubenstein,
with KW Village Square Realty in Ridgewood, NJ, agrees. “While 20% has
traditionally been a benchmark for what is acceptable, this no longer
holds true in the market, she says. “With FHA loans requiring around 3%,
and other traditional loans offering 10% down options or lower, it
makes sense to explore different products with your lender. Don’t miss
out on historically low interest rates while trying to stash away cash.”
Wait for interest rates to drop
It seems like interest rates could always be better, but according to Bruce Ailion, real estate agent with Re/Max Town and Country in Atlanta, that might not be true at the moment.
2019, we are likely at the end of the low interest cycle, and interest
rates are at their lowest,” he explains. “Today is the time to buy, if
interest rates are the determining factor.”
You can always wait for them to go lower, but you might be sorry if you do.
Meet with your lender in person
the past, the only way to talk with a lender was to walk into a bank,
which often meant taking time off work and rearranging your whole day.
In 2019, things are getting easier.
“Times are changing, and
visiting a bank branch to meet with a lending officer is not the only
route to getting a mortgage. Now, you can apply for a mortgage online,”
says Kathy Cummings, senior vice president of
Homeownership Solutions and Affordable Housing Programs at Bank of
America in Charlotte, NC. “Research shows that 32% of Americans are
comfortable applying for a mortgage digitally.”
This doesn’t mean
human contact is obsolete. “When you have questions that you want to
speak to an expert about—in person or by telephone—you have the option,”
Cummings says. Consider it the best of both worlds.
Pay off your mortgage as fast as you can
you have a 30-year mortgage, chances are you have a dream to pay it off
in at least 20. Not only will it give you an extra 10 years without a
monthly payment, but it’ll save you tons of money in interest. Right?
Not really. Jeff Chervenak, president of Guaranty Federal in Bloomfield, CT, says that’s not necessary anymore—and it probably won’t save you much money.
“Paying off your mortgage as a goal is as much emotional as financial. Because interest rates are, even now, so low, consider saving and investing with the money you would use to pay down your loan separately,” he explains. “Liquidity has a lot of value, and you could always use the lump sum accumulated to pay it down or off any time you wish.”
In case you haven’t figured it out yet, mortgages today are very different from they were just a few years ago. Do your homework before you make any decisions, and check with an expert you trust before you sign on the dotted line.
A lot of first-time home buyers get in over their heads. They fall in love with a home before doing any research and end up signing on the dotted line with a home that is too expensive, needs more work than they expected, and are driving longer then they had expected to work each day. There is a lot to think about when buying a home, three main issues being the offer price, the condition of the home, and location.
The offer of the home should be based on more than that it is comparable with other homes on the market. A home’s asking price is the price that is set before an appraisal has been done. In reality an offer should than only be based on comparable houses in the area that have already closed and not by what others in the area are asking for their homes.
The Homes Condition:
When you are pricing out home repairs don’t automatically assume that they will be up into the thousands of dollars. Also, don’t assume that you can take the cost of repairs off the offer price of a home as some sellers have already adjusted the asking price to consider these repairs.
Location of the Home:
The area in which the home is located has a lot to do with the price at which the house will sell for. Consider the location of the home for a number of reasons including how close it is to work and school but also be aware of the physical location. See if there are train tracks close or it is in a high traffic area, those things will affect the resale value when go to sell. Consider if granite counter tops and an additional bathroom are worth the inconvenience of a commuter train coming through the backyard every day.
Now-a-days with the internet there is a lot more information available in real time to both realtors and first-time home buyers. It is important to keep in mind that not all of the information on the internet will be accurate, but it is a starting point.
Some websites offer free estimates to value your home. They make a lot of assumptions about the value of properties in a neighborhood based on other homes that have sold but for homes that are non-conforming these can be inaccurate. Consider these to be generalities and not substitutes for the research arealtor provideror an appraisal gives.
C21 Lady of the Lakes is a full-service realtor serving
Livingston County and the surrounding areas with all their real estate
needs. More information can be found at http://www.ladyofthelakes.com/.
The industry is saturated with information for first time home buyers. It is often a bit overwhelming when you are trying to gather initial information on where to start, who to turn to, and what to expect. In order to be fully prepared to find, finance, and move into a new home it is crucial to be prepared. Planning for a major event such as buying your first home is one of the best ways to remove the stress and anxiety that usually comes with it.
The first step tobuying your first home is the one you are taking right this very moment, research. As soon as you get the inkling that you want to start looking into buying a home start reading as much reliable information as you can get your hands on. Websites, newspapers, industry magazines, and real estate books can all provide good information. It is also appropriate to start perusing listings to note the time that homes you are interested in are staying on the market. For research purposes take note of changes in asking price as well, all the information gathered at this point gives you a better sense of current housing trends.
The next step that we recommend you take is to speak with a mortgage broker to determine how much of a house you can afford. This can be a little tricky. It is not always wise to spend as much on a new home as you qualify for. Most home buyers want to still be able to live comfortably while owning a home. Trust your instincts when you are determining a housing budget.
More often than not lenders will approve buyers for between three to five times the amount of their annual income for a threshold. Most buyers will have a twenty percent down payment and will carry other debt. This amount usually holds this in account. Ex. If you are currently making $25,000 a year and your spouse is making $55,000 a year this puts you at a total income of around $80,000 a year. This means that lenders may feel comfortable lending you between $240,000 and $400,000 to purchase a home. This doesn’t take into consideration your down payment however does give you some figures to start with.
When you meet with a mortgage broker than can start the
process of getting you prequalified and preapproved for a mortgage. This will give you a definite answer to how
much you are approved for and can actually spend on your new home. In order to start this process, you will need
to provide your mortgage broker with financial paperwork such as documents on
income, savings, investments, and debt.
Through this process brokers will reach out to a variety of lenders to
verify your financial status, credit, and figures on borrowing from them. Each lender will have different requirements,
rates, and so forth. A mortgage broker
works as a middle man between you and the lenders to find you the best rates
Next you will want to find a local real estate agent to work with like C21, Lady of the Lakes out of Pinckney, MI. A realtor is an important piece of the home buying (and selling) process and will be your biggest advocator throughout the process. Agents are not only full of useful information on homes, neighborhoods, schools, and such, they are also important to you during negotiations. Also, it is nice to note that realtors are not compensated by the buyer and instead are paid a commission from the seller of the house. This means you pay nothing for their professional advice.
Real estate agents are important partners when you’re buying or selling a home. Real estate agents can provide you with helpful information on homes and neighborhoods that isn’t easily accessible to the public. Their knowledge of the home buying process, negotiating skills, and familiarity with the area you want to live in can be extremely valuable. And best of all, it doesn’t cost you anything to use an agent – they’re compensated from the commission paid by the seller of the house.
After you have hired an agent comes the task of finding the perfect home to call home and make an offer. When you are touring homes it is important to bring along a camera and create a checklist. This will help in keeping the different houses straight. After seeing as many houses as you will see during this process it will be hard to remember the pros and cons of each. Document as much as possible along the way.
When you find a home, you think you could be interested in do a more thorough examination of the space. Test the plumbing by running all the faucets at one time to get a feel for the water pressure you can expect. This will also give you a good assessment of the hot water in the home. Next test the electrical outlets. It is amazing how many times we go into homes where not all of the electrical switchesor plugs are working properly. This could be an electrical issue inside the home, so it will save you money to discover it before paying for a professional home inspection. Another element to look at is the windows, doors, and attic/roof. Check to make sure doors and windows properly shut and seal and that attics are without mold or water issues.
If you haven’t already, take a look at the
neighborhood. Check to see how well
other houses are maintained. Evaluate
the amount of traffic through the neighborhood, parking, and accessibility to
shopping, schools, and more.
Relators will help throughout this process by supplying you with data on how much comparable homes nearby have sold for. This will help you to negotiate a fair asking price when you have decided on a home to put an offer on. When you have reached an agreement with the seller on a fair price, the home will go into what is known as escrow. At this point you will have a number of days to get an inspection, make changes to the offer, and complete the home purchase process.
Most banks will not lend to first time home buyers, or any
home buyer for that matter, without first having their investment properly
inspected. All offers are written in a
manner known as contingency. This means that
the offer is contingent on the inspection.
If the inspection goes poorly or items are found that need to be repaired,
you will have time to renegotiate or withdraw your offer without penalty.
Once the inspection has been finalized and the home repairs
(if needed) have occurred it is time to get your financing in order. Your mortgage broker already has in place the
preapprovals that you were given earlier in the process. This makes the process of selecting a home
loan quicker. Lenders will give you a
good faith estimate at this juncture that states what you can expect the monthly
payment to be, taxes included, the time you are borrowing the money for, along
with the rate at which you are borrowing funds.
It is important as well to understand the type of mortgage you are
getting. There are a few options including: Conventional, FHA, VA, USDA,
Adjustable, and so on. Mortgage lenders
will often send in a home appraiser to ensure that they are making a solid
investment in loaning you the amount of money they are for the home. This
ensures you are paying a fair price.
At this point a lot of paperwork is shuffled between real estate agents for the buyers and sellers along with the lender, closing, and title company. This is all necessary to make sure ownership of the home transfers properly. Once all parties have reached an agreement a closing date will be set.
At closing you will complete a final walk through of the
property, sign closing documents, and exchange the keys. Some sellers negotiate a time between closing
and when they have to vacate. If this is
the case with the home you are purchasing, the seller will rent the home from
you until the agreed upon move out date and then you will receive the keys to
the home on that final date.
C21 Lady of the Lakes is a full-service realtor serving
Livingston County and the surrounding areas with all their real estate
needs. More information can be found at http://www.ladyofthelakes.com/.
Every seller wants their home to stand out from the crowd, and that often means beefing it up with shiny new improvements before putting it on the market. But sometimes owners go overboard, and the repairs become more costly and time-consuming than they’re worth.
help you learn from others’ mistakes, we gathered real-life stories of
home sellers who woefully regret the presale renovations they took on.
Regret No. 1: Going too trendy
Photo by Sweetlake Interior Design LLC
Beware of falling for decor fads when it comes time to pretty up your home.
“I had a seller whose home’s original lighting fixtures were pretty standard brushed nickel and oil-rubbed bronze, circa the 2000s,” says Monica Weddle, a real estate professional in Raleigh, NC. “They were nothing offensive, just boring.”
seller, thinking the home needed more of a “wow” factor before she put
it on the market, swapped out all of the perfectly serviceable lights
for bold midcentury fixtures, to the tune of around $2,000.
great if you’re sure your buyers are going to love that style,” says
Weddle. “But her eventual buyers didn’t. In fact, they made an
appointment for the day after closing to replace every single one.”
Regret No. 2: Smart house, dumb decision
We live in a plugged-in era, but living in a house surrounded by technology is not everyone’s cup of tea.
seller of mine decided to make his home high-tech and had the lighting,
window shades, and sound system all controlled from his phone,” says Steven Gottlieb
of New York’s Warburg Realty. “He paid a lot of money for these
expensive bells and whistles. But none of the prospective buyers who
came in cared.”
Instead, buyers were all focused on the space itself—and the lack of light and poor views.
The eventual buyer turned out to be a person interested in tech and smart homes. But by the time the deal closed, he felt the apartment’s technology was outdated and therefore wasn’t interested in paying extra for the existing features.
Regret No. 3: Adding a guesthouse
Not every home shopper dreams of bringing in extra income by renting out the guesthouse. Joel Bennett of the vacation platform of Tokeet.com found this out the hard way when selling his first house in Merida, Mexico. His real estate agent convinced him finding a buyer would be tough, so a week after listing the home, he made the rash decision to renovate the detached guesthouse to function as a vacation rental property, thinking this would add value.
spent about nine weeks—and $3,000—on the project while the property was
on the market. The exterior was painted, interior floorboards were
resurfaced, and the stairway was replaced.
“I did a lot of the work myself, since I had a bit of free time back then,” says Bennett, who was proud of the restored space.
some eccentric character approached my real estate agent with an offer
right on the nose,” says Bennett, who accepted the offer. But lo and
behold, the buyer ended up demolishing the guesthouse.
insult to injury, Bennett says the buyer put in “a swimming pool where
the guesthouse stood with a gaudy stone wall waterfall at the shallow
Regret No. 4: Rehabbing the roof
At first blush,
rehabbing a major system in the house—like the roof—may seem like a
no-brainer way to attract a buyer. But it’s not always worth it.
“I worked with sellers who were told by numerous buying agents that if they replaced their roof, then they could sell their house quicker,” says Shawn Breyer, owner of Georgia’s Breyer Home Buyers.
talking to their own agent, the sellers tore off the roof and installed
a new one—a decision that cost $11,390. When the project was done, the
house sat on the market for months, despite the brand-new shingles.
“To move the property, the sellers ultimately had to reduce the price by $17,000,” Breyer says.
only did the roof not make a difference in the home sale, but the
decision to sink money into the repair led to a total loss of $28,390.
the sellers should have done, according to Breyer, was to look at the
recently sold houses—not just those that were listed—in their area to
determine what to fix or leave alone.
Regret No. 5: DIYing to cut corners
home improvements are better left to the pros. It’s a lesson Debra
Carpenter learned the hard way when she put her first house up for sale.
thought I was going to easily flip it for a giant profit,” the
Idaho-based real estate agent says. “Instead, I made all kinds of
unneeded improvements that didn’t increase the home’s value. They only
narrowed my profit margin!”
Her biggest mistake was purchasing
four “granite-look” painting kits to redo the counters in the kitchen
and bathrooms on a budget.
“It turned out terribly—gray and black paint blotches that looked nothing like granite,” says Carpenter.
The counters all had to be redone, costing thousands of dollars more than she had originally budgeted.
Regret No. 6: Opening Pandora’s box
common to want to complete some home improvements before putting your
house on the market, but doing so might plunge you head first into a
mess of expensive repairs.
“I had a seller who wanted to renovate his two-family home before putting it on the market,” says Carola Encarnacion of New York’s DJK Residential.
seller wanted to install new insulation throughout the home, despite
the contractor’s warning that gutting the walls could lead to plumbing
Sure enough, the difficulties started piling up. The seller had to install a new sprinkler system throughout the entire house to meet new building codes. This ended up costing thousands of dollars, and the seller did not receive a good return on the investment.
Navigating the home-buying and -selling process is kind
of like diving into “Game of Thrones” for the first time: People speak
in a language you don’t quite understand. There’s backstory you should
research before you get started. And ideally, you’d have someone by your
side who knows what’s coming and who can guide you through the
Yes, buying, owning, and selling a home comes with its own share of drama and plot twists. But rest assured: We’re here to help guide you! That’s why we’ve doled out so much expert advice over the past 12 months on everypossible real estate topic we could think of.
what was most useful to you? In no particular order, here are our
most-read advice pieces of 2018—the greatest hits that resonated with
you the most and (hopefully!) have helped make your real estate journey a
little less overwhelming. (Just click the headlines to read the full
6 Home Maintenance Tasks You May Not Even Realize You Have to Do
Does anyone actually like the tedium of home maintenance tasks? We’re doubtful. (Although if you’re out there and single, call me!) But when you’re a homeowner, regular—and monotonous—maintenance comes with the territory.
And sure, you might think you know what you have to do to keep your house in order—mow the lawn, clean the gutters, sweep your chimney. But we guarantee there are some small things you’re overlooking—things that can create big problems and enormous repair bills.
Can’t-miss tip: Clean your refrigerator drip pan. Your what now?
If you didn’t know your fridge has one of these, you’re not alone. It
turns out, like with belly buttons, we all have one—and it can get
pretty gross (and moldy) if you don’t clean it regularly.
clean your drip pan, first you have to find it. Just remove the kick
panel at the bottom of your refrigerator, then use a flashlight to trace
the defrost drain line to the pan. Pull out the pan carefully (it could
be full of water), then empty and wash it with an all-purpose cleaner.
5 Mortifying Reasons Mortgage Applications End Up in the ‘Reject’ Pile
You’ve scrimped and saved for your first home, and you’ve
already mentally moved in. But then, in a cruel and humiliating twist of
fate, your mortgage application is rejected. How could this happen to you, of all people?
to a Federal Reserve study, 1 in 8 mortgage applications (12%) is
rejected. And often those rejections are the result of something you
could have easily avoided.
Can’t miss tip: If
you’re a Venmo-only kind of gal, or you’ve avoided using credit cards
(debt’s bad, right?), it’s time to rethink your fiscal approach and
swipe that plastic.
Credit cards allow you to establish a credit history—proof of a strong track record of paying off past debts. (Of course, don’t forget to actually pay those bills.) Without that credit history, lenders will likely be reluctant to fork over loan money they can’t be certain they’ll get back.
How Often Should You Wash Your Sheets—and What If You Don’t?
Quick: When was the last time you changed your sheets? If you can’t remember, we won’t judge—you’re in good company (38% of Americans wash their sheets less than once a week). But after you read this, you might want to strip your bed, pronto.
This year, we launched a series where we put all aspects of home ownership under a microscope—literally. In “According to Science,” we take a look at the scientific reasons behind what’s happening in your home, the weird stuff that can be avoided, and, in this instance, what’s lurking under your covers.
“Body oils, sweat, and sloughed-off skin,” answers Bill Carroll Jr.,
an adjunct professor of chemistry at Indiana University. “We live in a
world of pathogens, and not all are virulent enough to take us down. But
can bedclothes spread disease? Kind of.” Yuck.
Can’t miss tip:
We’ll let you read up on the bacterial Armageddon that’s happening
every day you don’t wash your sheets. But if you want to slow down the
invasion, just make a simple adjustment to your bed-making routine: Each
morning, pull all the covers down from the fitted sheet and let things
air out for a few minutes. This lets the sweat and moisture evaporate
from your sheets.
7 Mistakes People Make Handling Deceased Family Members’ Estates
This one might seem macabre, but dealing with a deceased family member’s estate is, unfortunately, a part of life. And not an easy one: Figuring out what to do with your loved one’s property and possessions, all while you’re grieving, can feel like a one-two punch. So it’s understandable that mistakes happen. We ID’d the biggest ones to avoid during this turbulent time.
Can’t-miss tip: When you’re going through a loved one’s belongings, it’s easy to overvalue the sentimental stuff and undervalue
the things that are unfamiliar to you. Rather than unwittingly letting
go of something rare and valuable, talk to an appraiser before you get
How Much Below the Asking Price Should You Offer on a House? Answers Here!
“I’d love to pay more for that house than I have to!” said no one ever.
Every home buyer wants to score a deal, and the most obvious place to start is with the house’s sticker price. Offering below asking is a common tactic, but not one that always works. How low can you go before you offend the seller—and ruin your chances of landing your dream home?
Can’t miss tip: In the same way you should
know how long that leftover chicken parm has been in your fridge, you
should know how long any house you’re eyeing has been on the market. If
you’re familiar with the property history, you can get a better idea of
demand for the house—and whether the listing is getting stale.
“Two days on the market? Probably not a good idea to go in with a lowball offer $50,000 below asking price,” Jennifer Carlson of Coldwell Banker in East Greenwich, RI, told us. “A whole year on the market, with price
reductions? Go ahead and roll the dice. The longer a house has been on
the market, the less of an upper hand the seller has in negotiation.”
The number of days on market is public on most online listings, and if not, any good real estate agent should know.
7 Decluttering Myths That Could Derail Your Dreams of an Organized Home
Decluttering seems like the last thing you’d be able to screw up. Isn’t it just sorting and tossing?
sure, that’s a big part of it. But a good decluttering session (yes,
there’s good and bad) hinges on more than just purging. And if you go
into decluttering mode assuming you know how to do it right, you could
end up with more stuff than you started with.
Can’t miss tip: We’ve been conditioned by organizing gurus like Marie Kondo to keep only the things that “spark joy” and to toss everything else. We don’t disagree entirely. But realistically, some exceptions should be made.
“Let’s be clear: My diaper pail does not spark joy, but it’s an essential item that is used every day in my home,” Laura Kinsella, owner of Urban OrgaNYze in New York City, told us.
Declutter with this thought in mind, she says: Is this item beautiful in my home or does it prove to be useful? If the answer is no, then it’s probably time for it to go.
The One Room That’ll Make Buyers Bail, Even If They Love the House
You know the one. You’re touring a home, loving every aspect
of it, and then bam! You turn a corner and see a space that just kills
the whole home-buying mood.
Can’t miss tip: Got
an empty room? You might think it’s a selling point: Look at all that
space! The buyers can envision themselves in your home without your stuff in the way!
But “empty rooms can kill a home sale, especially if the other rooms are furnished,” real estate analyst Allison Bethell told us.
A room without furniture leaves the buyer wondering if it’s unnecessary space. Plus, any imperfections will stand out. If you have an empty room, stage it as an office, crafts room, or guest bedroom.
In order to successfully buy a home during the winter season it is important to understand the pros and cons of the situation. When buying a home in the winter both sellers and buyers must be flexible and patient with one another when it comes to viewing properties and choosing a closing date. Never feel pressured to buy a home that isn’t exactly what you want. If the inventory you are looking for isn’t there in December, maybe it will come available in January.
Winter can be a perfect time to buy a home even though not the traditional time to do so. Buying a home during the winter season can prove to be cost effective for savvy, patient, buyers. Below are some tips to making the most out of buying a home right now.
Understand the Pros
No matter what season you buy your home in there will be pros and cons, the winter season is no exception. It’s important to view the challenges and benefits of winter home buying. One benefit of winter house hunting is the decrease in competition. Fewer buyers are out searching and there fore there is more room for negotiations. During the winter there are fewer bidding wars and home prices are on closing, on average, for $3,100 or less.
Another advantage of buying a home in the winter is the speed at which you can go from finding the home of your dreams to closing on it. Sellers are motivated to move, and buyers are ready to settle in. With fewer homes on the market to view the decision-making process becomes a bit more limited and therefore the focus is more directed.
Recognize the Cons
The major down fall with purchasing a home in the winter is that it is a mess. The temperatures are not conducive to be in and out of the car and house all day. Snow, puddles, and ice can be difficult to navigate. The property can’t be completely viewed in all its glory when snow is covering decks, patios, and driveways. Buyers must rely on photos or video taken when the snow was not covering the landscape. The home inspection must also be done in the winter and thus certain aspects like the exterior of the home will not be able to be as thoroughly examined. Make sure you hire an inspector that has experience in winter home inspections.
The winter season is filled with holidays which we already know can be a stressful time of year. Even the most motivated seller can find themselves unable to drop everything to be prepared for a walk through. Be flexible in your scheduling of viewing homes, inspections, appraisals, and so forth.
Research, Research, and More Research
It is important to ask for documentation for work that has been done around the home. Find out when the roof was last replaced, when windows were last updates, furnace maintenance performed and so on. This will give you an understanding on when you should expect upcoming repairs to be needed.
C21 Lady of the Lakes is a full-service realtor serving Livingston County and the surrounding areas with all their real estate needs. More information can be found at http://www.ladyofthelakes.com/.
We’re entering the home stretch of 2018, when you can actually say, “See you next year!” to someone you’ll see in just a few weeks. It’s a time to look ahead, to make new plans, to achieve new dreams.
And if those dreams include buying your own home, you should keep an eye on the ever-changing tides of the housing market. Now, markets are like the weather: You can’t entirely predict how they will act, but you can get a sense of the forces that will push things in one direction or another.
The realtor.com® economic research team analyzed a wealth of housing data to come up with a forecast of what 2019 might hold for home buyers and sellers—and it looks like both groups are going to be facing some challenges.
1. We’ll have more homes for sale, especially luxury ones
We’ve been chronicling the super-tight inventory of homes for sale for several years now. Yes, homes have been hitting the market, but not enough to keep up with the demand. Nationwide, inventory actually hit its lowest level in recorded history last winter, but this year it finally started to recover. We’re expecting to see that inventory growth continue into next year, but not at a blockbuster rate—less than 7%.
While this is welcome news for buyers who’ve been sidelined, sellers must confront a new reality.
“More inventory for sellers means it’s not going to be as easy as it has been in past years—it means they will have to think about the competition,” says Danielle Hale, realtor.com’s chief economist.
“It’s still going to be a very good market for sellers,” she adds, “but if they’ve had their expectations set by listening to stories of how quickly their neighbor’s home sold in 2017 or in 2018, they may have to adjust their expectations.”
Although next year’s inventory growth is expected to be modest nationwide, pricier markets will tell a different story. In these markets—which typically have strong economies (read: high-paying jobs)—most of the expected inventory growth will come from listings of luxury homes.
We’re expecting to see the biggest increases in high-end inventory in the metro areas of San Jose, CA; Seattle, WA; Worcester, MA; Boston, MA; and Nashville, TN. All of those metro markets, which may include neighboring towns, could see double-digit gains in inventory in 2019.
2. Affording a home will remain tough
It’s no secret that home sellers have been sitting pretty for the past several years. But is the tide about to change in buyers’ favor?
“In some ways, life is going to be easier for home buyers; they’ll have more options,” Hale says. “But life is also going to be more difficult for home buyers, because we expect mortgage rates to continue to increase, we expect home prices to continue to increase, so the pinch that they’re feeling from affordability is going to continue to be a pain point moving into 2019.”
Hale predicts that mortgage rates, now hovering around 5%, will reach around 5.5% by the end of 2019. That means the monthly mortgage payment on a typical home listing will be about 8% higher next year, she notes. Meanwhile, incomes are only growing about 3% on average. That double whammy is toughest on first-time home buyers, who tend to borrow the most heavily and who don’t have any equity in a current home to draw on.
3. Millennials will still dominate home buying
Just a few years ago, millennials were the new kids on the block, just barely old enough to buy their own homes. Now they’re the biggest generational group of home buyers, accounting for 45% of mortgages (compared with 17% for baby boomers and 37% for Gen Xers). Some of them are even moving on up from their starter homes.
As we mentioned above, things will be tough for those first-time buyers. But the slightly older move-up buyers will reap the benefits of both their home equity and the increased choices in the market.
And regardless of whether they’re part of that younger set starting a career or the older set that’s starting a family, “they’re going to be more price-conscious than any other generation,” says Ali Wolf, director of economic research at Meyers Research.
That’s because they typically are still carrying student debt and want to be able to spend on experiences, like travel. That takes away from the funds they can put aside for a down payment, or a monthly mortgage payment.
“They want to maintain a certain lifestyle, but they still see the value in owning a home,” Wolf says.
So they might compromise on distance from an urban center, or certain amenities, or space—70% of millennial homeowners own a residence that’s less than 2,000 square feet, Wolf notes.
There’s plenty of time to expand those portfolios, though, as millennials’ housing reign is just beginning: This group is likely to make up the largest share of home buyers for the next decade. The year 2020 is projected to be the peak for millennial home buying—the bulk of them will be age 30.
4. The new tax law is still a wild card
At the time of last year’s forecast, the GOP’s proposed revision of the tax code was still being batted around Congress. While there was talk that it might discourage people from buying a home, no one really knew how it might affect the real-estate market.
This year … well, we still don’t really know. That’s because most taxpayers won’t be filing taxes under the new law until April 2019. And while some people might have a savvy tax adviser giving them a better idea of what’s in store, for many, the reality check will come in the form of a bigger tax bill—or a bigger refund.
Renters are likely to have lower tax bills, but might not be tempted to buy while affordability remains a challenge, and with the new, increased standard deduction reducing the appeal of the homeowner’s mortgage-interest deduction.
“I think the new tax plan will affect mostly homeowners and home buyers in the upper parts of the distribution,” says Andrew Hanson, associate professor of economics at Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI. “Those who either own or are buying higher-priced homes are going to pay a lot more.”
Sellers of those pricier homes will also take a hit, as buyers anticipating bigger tax bills won’t be as willing to pony up for a high list price.
The biggest change resulting from the new tax law, Hanson predicts, will be in mortgages, since people will be less inclined to take out large mortgages.
“If anyone is going to be upset about the tax plan, it’ll be mortgage bankers,” he says.
There really is no reason to wait until spring to sell your home if you find yourself ready right now. The winter weather doesn’t have to give you pause. In fact, if years past is a predictor of the future, selling your home during the winter months has gotten easier. This is especially true as the inventory for homes continues to struggle to meet buyers demands, leaving home buyers to seek out homes throughout the year and not just during the spring and summer seasons.
When placing a home up for sale during the winter it may be wise to avoid marketing your home for sale during the holiday months. November and December are filled with the chaos of the holiday season and therefore it can be quite stressful to have realtors and potential buyers in and out of the home all the while you are preparing to entertain. There are many reasons not to wait until spring to sell your home and instead to list it for sale at the beginning of a new year including:
Winter Home Buyers are as Serious as Winter Home Sellers
Winter home buyers prove how motivated they are to purchase a new home each and every time they layer up to go house hunting. Think about your motivation even with the idea of opening up your home for walk throughs even though the beauty of the snow has faded into the muck of melt. Winter sellers and buyers are some of the most serious, motivated individuals. They are ready to find what they are looking for if only to prevent having to trek out and about in the cold once again.
Days on Market Means Less in The Winter
Although there are fewer buyers throughout the winter months, their motivation is higher and therefore they are less concerned with the frivolous details that can lose a sale such as the number of days the home has been on the market. During spring, a home that has been on the market over 50 days gives buyers the impression that something is wrong with the home. This criterion however is not the same for homes for sale in the winter where homes are expected to be on the market a bit longer just because of the decreased number of buyers looking.
Lack of Competition
Let’s face it, there are fewer homes to choose from in the winter, so the competition isn’t quite as fierce as it can be in the spring and summer months. Home sellers are most likely looking to sell their home because they have found one, they are interested in purchasing. Negotiation when a contingency is in place may be more acceptable during the winter months where there are fewer buyers competing to buy your home.
C21 Lady of the Lakes is a full-service realtor serving Livingston County and the surrounding areas with all their real estate needs. More information can be found at http://www.ladyofthelakes.com/
When it comes to mortgages, there’s an avalanche of advice out there—some good, some bad, and some that’s flat-out great. You know, the type of wisdom that makes you so grateful you heard it, it sticks with you and gets passed along to all who care to hear it.
With the hopes of delivering only these golden nuggets of wisdom, we asked homeowners to tell us the very best mortgage advice they’ve been lucky enough to learn. You won’t be sorry you read this!
Keep your monthly mortgage payment under one paycheck
“This might seem pretty simple, but I was once told not to freak out so much about the total cost of the mortgage, but to make sure that when all is said and done, I could handle most if not all of the monthly payment in one paycheck. That has worked out really well for me and my husband, especially because we work in media, which is unstable. But with a low mortgage payment, we know that whatever happens, we can handle it.” – Starrene Rocque, Brooklyn, NY
Shop around for the best interest rate
“My brother told me to shop for the best interest rate, even if it means that I had to get quotes from more than five lenders or brokers. At first I resisted, not only due to the hassle, but because I didn’t want those companies individually pulling my credit report, since I’d heard this type of ‘hard’ credit inquiry would drag down my score. He told me that a credit pull for mortgage purposes within a set period of time only counted as one hard credit inquiry. His suggestion helped me get the interest I needed and will save me a lot of money in the long run.” – Allan Liwanag, Lexington Park, MD
Multiple quotes can help with more than just interest rates
“When I first started shopping for homes, my real estate agent advised me to start the application process with more than one lender by filling out online financial forms for my top three. Though I was initially hesitant because of the extra time it would take to fill out the paperwork, doing so set me up for multiple interest rate quote estimates. Plus, the lenders knew I was serious and [were] in competition for my business, so they were especially prompt and attentive in answering my questions and returning my calls. The interest rates I qualified for were all comparable, so I ended up going with the lender that was the best communicator, which is worth its weight in gold when getting a mortgage.” – Rebecca Graham, Provo, UT .
Lock in your interest rate for as long as possible
“I bought my first home in 2016, a bankruptcy sale. Even though the listing agent and the attorney both told me that the escrow would last no more than 60 days, my agent recommended that I lock in my mortgage interest rate for the longest time possible, 90 days. It is a good thing I did, because my escrow ended up taking five months! Since I locked in the rate for the longest time allowed, the bank accommodated my situation and I didn’t lose my great rate.” – Goldie Winge, Los Angeles, CA
An ARM is a risk—even if you think you’ll move soon
“In 2007, when purchasing my first property, I anticipated owning the house for three to five years max. This led many mortgage brokers to say I should get an adjustable-rate mortgage or, ARM, since they had lower interest rates than fixed-rate loans, and besides, I’d be long gone before the interest rate on my ARM ballooned. I’m so glad I stuck to my guns about not wanting an ARM, no matter how enticing the low interest rate. Although I’d planned to move, the economy and life caused me to adjust my original plan and stay put in the house much longer than I thought.” – Nerissa Marbury, Katy, TX
Make extra mortgage payments whenever possible
“Although you only have to pay a certain amount for your mortgage each month, pay extra when you can. You would be shocked at what even one or two extra payments per year can do over the length of a loan.” – Dave August, Point of Rocks, MD
Get a mortgage that allows you to save for retirement, too
“The best advice I’ve gotten was to get a 30-year fixed-rate loan, even though I could have afforded the higher payments of a 15-year loan. Why? My lower payments bought me a ton of flexibility. I’ve been investing the difference, and it’s been quite rewarding. I figure that if I invested that extra $1,000 each month in stocks that earned 7 percentage points over the 3.5% interest on my loan—I’d be about $100,000 ahead over the seven-year period that I’ve held the loan.” – Kathy Kristof, Los Angeles. CA