Get ready to hang the lights, deck the halls, and spread some cheer—the holiday season is almost here! Juggling the holidays along with a home sale might be sound impossible (or at the very least, stressful), but we’re here to help you find the best way to balance both.
Here are our top 4 tips for navigating your home sale during the holiday season!
Use Decor to Your Advantage
You don’t have to go all out with holiday decor, but a little seasonal warmth sprinkled here and there goes a long way! Hang some white lights along the staircase, add a wreath to the front door, and string some garland along the mantel. If you do opt for a tree, you’ll want to make sure it doesn’t crowd the room—perhaps even consider a tabletop version.
Bonus tip: scent is the sense most closely tied to memory, so use that to your advantage to appeal to buyer nostalgia! Bake some cookies beforehand, warm up a pot of cider, or light a few seasonally scented candles.
Be Flexible with Showings
While you’ll probably have a busy schedule over the next month or two, you should make sure it doesn’t affect your availability for buyers too much. One of the biggest reasons people hold off on selling during the holidays is because they can’t be around to prepare their home…but intentionally making room in your schedule will make the whole process much simpler!
If you usually host a holiday party, consider asking a friend or relative to step in for you. If you’re traveling, try not to be gone for too long, and make it clear to your agent and any potential buyers when you’ll be back.
Work with a Home Stager (or Get Tips from Your Agent)
If you either: A.) really don’t have time to stage or B.) don’t want to take any risks on your home not looking its best, then working with a qualified home stager is a great option! You might be skeptical, but home stagers have been specially trained and certified to optimize your space with the right decor and furniture—which often leads to faster and more profitable sales.
It’ll also take one more stressful task off of your plate, giving you more time to plan for the upcoming festivities. If you want a few recommendations for home stagers, just give us a call. Of course, we can always do a walkthrough of your home and offer personalized tips and DIY projects, if you’d prefer that!
Practice Smart Marketing
Marketing a home is the key to reeling in the right buyer. It’s even more important during the holiday season, since fewer—but more serious—buyers are on the hunt. That’s where working with an agent really comes in handy! You can sit back, relax, and plan for the holidays, while we take care of getting the word out about your home through our comprehensive marketing resources, including our website, social media platforms, local advertising, professional contacts, and more.
And, of course, we’ll crunch the numbers and do the research to ensure that your home is priced at the best number for your interests.
List Your Home this Holiday Season
Balancing a home sale and the holidays can be stressful…but not if you work with a professional! Enlist our help, and we’ll be around to carry some of your workload, reduce your stress, and sell your home for top dollar—and answer any and all of your questions along the way. Ready to list your home? We’re just a phone call away!
You’ve probably heard that spring and summer are the best times to sell your home, and we’ll be honest: they do have their perks. But with mortgage rates remaining low and motivated buyers steadily flowing into the market, this fall is shaping up to be a pretty profitable selling season.
If you’re gearing up to list your home soon, then you’ll need to pay extra attention to your outdoor areas. Here are the top five spaces to give a little TLC to before you sell!
Once you’ve raked up the leaves, you might think your lawn is all taken care of. But there’s much more to fall lawn care than bagging up leaves! If temperatures haven’t majorly dropped by the time you list, you’ll need to keep mowing your lawn—it’ll continue growing until the first hard frost.
If you’ve got a few bare spots in your yard, fall is also the perfect time for overseeding! Since the ground is relatively warm but the sun isn’t quite as powerful as in the summer, growing conditions are better than ever. Just be sure you’re providing your lawn with plenty of water, and those sparse spots should start to fill in.
Since you’re planning a move, you probably don’t want to start planting new veggies, but there are other ways to give your garden a fresh look. First, you’ll want to make sure all of your leftover plants from spring and summer are cleared out, and your plot is weed-free. Once that’s taken care of, it’s time for the fun part!
Picked up a few pumpkins or gourds from the farmers’ market? Set them out near your doorstep. Need a home for a scarecrow or two? Give them a perch on either side of the garden. You can fill in any blank space with potted plants like mums or sunflowers or a decorative holiday banner!
With trees shedding leaves and dead branches, you’ve probably got a decent amount of brush and foliage dotting your roof. Now’s the time to pull out the ladder and do a clean sweep. Plus, it’s the perfect chance to get a look at the condition of your shingles and see if any need replacing!
While you’re up there, be sure to sweep out your gutters, as well. There’s a good chance the extra debris has them more clogged up than usual, which could lead to flooding or exterior damage. Clearing them out will prevent any issues, and show buyers that you go the extra mile in maintaining your home.
The crowning glory of your home’s exterior, the porch should act as the first taste of what the inside of the home has to offer. You want to strike the perfect balance between warm and welcoming and clean and clutter-free!
First, take care of spiffing the space up by sweeping the floors, ringing out the welcome mat, and dusting off any outdoor furniture. If you have one too many chairs or a crowded collection of potted plants, you should remove some of the clutter.
Then, add a little character! Put a few pumpkins by door, set out a scented candle or two, swap out your porch light for a warmer wattage, and update your throw pillows—just be careful not to overdo it. Since your porch space is likely relatively small, a little goes a long way.
The Front Door
It’s only a small portion of your exterior, but if you play your cards right, your front door can be one of the most eye-catching parts of your home. Nothing draws attention like a fresh coat of paint, so you should consider picking a shade that pops and matches your siding—like a warm red or a bold blue. At the very least, you should use furniture wax or dish soap to scrub out the dinginess.
Once you’ve revamped your door, it’s time to accessorize! Since it’s fall, you should be able to easily find a seasonal wreath to hang. If you really want to go the extra mile, think about replacing your house number or knocker with some shiny new hardware.
Need a Few More Tips?
If you want to make sure your home is staged to impress—in all areas—then we can help. In addition to our home-staging resources, we’d also be more than happy to do a walkthrough of your home and recommend a few personalized decor suggestions or DIY improvements.
From helping you stage to navigating closing, we’ll be there to help you through the selling process, every step of the way. Whenever you’re ready to get started, we’re just a phone call away!
If you’re thinking about buying a home, you’ve probably heard, “location, location, location!” on repeat. Finding the perfect city or town is one thing, but you’ll need to take it a step further. The right neighborhood matters more than you think, so before you start your search, we have some tips to help you find the perfect spot!
Do Your Research
Before you start driving through prospective neighborhoods, you’ll want to do some research at home first. Finding the right place to live can be time-consuming, but some quick online searches can help narrow down your options. Many agents also spotlight certain neighborhoods on their website and tend to offer more in-depth guides—as well as more listings and home-buying tips.
After doing your initial research, you’ve probably narrowed your list down to a few neighborhoods. Now it’s time to delve deeper and look at these places by the numbers. It’s worth looking at stats like crime rate, HOA fees, and average property taxes. You might want to start your search with sites like Neighborhood Scout and City-Data—these sites give you localized data on demographics, schools, and more.
Scope Out What’s Around
While the actual neighborhood might seem perfect, what’s around matters a lot, too. Remember, you’re buying more than just a home—you’re finding a new place to thrive. If you’re looking for convenience, a community far-removed from amenities you love might not work. Be sure to take your commute into account, as well as the driving distance to places you go all the time.
School districts also play a big factor in which area you choose, especially for your kids. Even if you don’t have children, home prices in good districts are consistently higher than others, so it’s still something you should take into account. Want the inside scoop? Compare options by looking up which schools serve a community and exploring their ratings on sites like Niche.com.
Take a Stroll
Now it’s time for some field research! Once you’ve picked some neighborhoods that seem like a good fit, go do some exploring—you’ll want to do more than just drive around, though. Get out of the car and take a stroll during different times of the day! This is a fantastic way to meet potential neighbors and see the condition of homes.
You’ll want to ask yourself some crucial questions during each visit. How well do residents maintain their homes? Do you see a lot of people outside, or does everyone seem to keep to themselves? Is there any common space or amenities you’ll want to use? This is the best way to picture yourself living in an area before actually committing to a home.
Narrow Down Your Options
If you don’t have a clear winner in your head after you visit each community, it’s time to down and weigh the pros and cons. You should also evaluate the market—there might not be a home for sale that suits your needs in the neighborhood you love, so consider all of your options.
If you have any other questions, be sure to reach out to a real estate professional. They’ll use their expertise to help you make an informed decision, and can also show you spots you might have missed!
Ready to Find the Neighborhood of Your Dreams?
No matter where you are in your home search, we’d love to help make the process easier. We’ve got you covered, whether you’re still searching for the right community or are ready to look at homes. Give us a call today so we can chat—we can’t wait to be your local experts!
You’ve seen the shows on HGTV, the brand new series on Netflix, the craze on sites like Pinterest and Instagram—tiny houses are all the rage. These smaller spaces come with gigantic opportunities—if you’re looking for an incredibly versatile and stylish home, you may want to look into one of the hottest housing trends of the past year. We’ve got all the details you need to understand the ins and outs of tiny homes—and maybe even buy your own.
What is a Tiny Home?
Less than 1,000 square feet and often towable, tiny homes allow their owners to be economical, environmentally-friendly, and enjoy life on the move.
These small abodes are built with an emphasis on organization and maximizing space. You’ll often see stairs repurposed into cabinets, smaller appliances, and loft areas for beds. However, many tiny homes are quite luxurious, with some featuring full sized appliances, bath tubs, and multiple floors. This is proof that “tiny” doesn’t necessarily mean bare bones!
An Inside Look at the Lifestyle
Where did tiny homes come from? Well, it turns out they aren’t just a recent trend—they’ve been around since the 1970s. The tiny house “movement” is becoming increasingly popular, especially due to shows on tiny house living and construction.
Many tiny home dwellers are fully committed to this unique lifestyle, but it takes some getting used to. The most difficult part is paring down what you own, as these tight spaces don’t come with the same amount of storage as a normal home.
However, you don’t have to give up everything you love. Many residents say that living in a tiny home allows them to tour the country and live without clutter. Additionally, a well-built tiny house will allow you to have plenty of space for privacy, hobbies, and even pets.
Discover Diverse Design Options
While tiny-home living might seem pretty straightforward, there are actually quite a few variations between homes.
One major option for tiny homes is towing ability. Having a towable tiny home means you can live wherever you’d like and move at any time, but a stationary tiny house is often larger and features more amenities like multiple floors and screened-in porches.
In addition, there are many different size variations and exterior designs to choose from. Some builders even make custom designs for each homeowner. Nowadays, tiny homes are even being built in shipping containers!
Are They Here to Stay?
Tiny homes may seem like a trend, but the number of homes being built are on the rise. In 2017, the tiny home industry saw a 67% jump in sales, with numbers steadily increasing. Tiny homes also remain easy on the wallet despite rising home costs. On average, a tiny home can cost from $15,000 – $150,000, which is significantly lower than the average home cost of $218,000.
As millennials begin purchasing their first homes, tiny houses are becoming increasingly popular. This is because many millennial buyers are choosing smaller houses and prioritizing travel, making tiny homes the perfect mobile option. They’re also a terrific choice for downsizing after retirement.
Tiny homes don’t seem to be going anywhere, and as more and more people are embracing this unique way of living, tiny home designs are becoming even more elaborate. Even Amazon has started selling tiny homes, so you can order one with just a few clicks!
Ready to Make a Move?
No matter what kind of home you’re looking for, you’ll always need a real estate agent to help guide you through the process. Whether you’re buying or selling, we’ve got the resources you need to lighten your load.
Ready to make your move? Give us a call and let’s chat—we’d love to help you make your real estate dreams a reality!
The U.S. unemployment rate is at a 50-year low, and consumer confidence remains high. In fact, the University of Michigan’s latest Surveys of Consumers found that Americans have their most positive personal finance outlook since 2003.1
However, if you follow national news, you’ve probably heard speculation that we could be headed toward a recession. Global trade tensions and a slow down in the GDP growth rate have sparked volatility in the stock market, leading to economic uncertainty.
Given these differing signals, you may be wondering: How has the U.S. housing market been impacted? Where is it headed? And more importantly … what does it mean for me?
MORTGAGE RATES ARE NEAR HISTORIC LOWS
This was welcome news for many in the real estate industry. Freddie Mac predicts that low interest rates and a robust job market will help the housing market remain strong despite the threat of recession.
In August, Freddie Mac reported that the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate hit its lowest level since November 2016, falling to 3.6%, down a full percentage point from a year earlier.2 Variable mortgage rates also fell when the Federal Reserve cut interest rates at the end of July for the first time since 2008.3
“There is a tug of war in the financial markets between weaker business sentiment and consumer sentiment,” said Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “Business sentiment is declining on negative trade and manufacturing headlines, but consumer sentiment remains buoyed by a strong labor market and low rates that will continue to drive home sales into the fall.”2
What does it mean for you? If you’re looking to buy a home, now is a great time to lock in a low mortgage rate. It will shrink your monthly payment and could save you a bundle over the long term. Or if you plan to stay in your current home for a while, consider whether it makes sense to refinance your mortgage at today’s lower rates.
PRICES CONTINUE TO RISE AT A MODEST PACE
According to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Indices, housing prices continue to rise. But the rate at which prices are rising is slowing down. For May 2019, the National Home Price Index rose by 3.4%, down from 3.5% the previous month.4
Of course, national averages often don’t present the whole picture. Some markets have seen modest declines, while other areas are witnessing double-digit increases. The key differentiating factor in most cases? Housing affordability.5
Since 2012, home prices have increased at about three times the pace of wages, according to National Association of Realtors chief economist Lawrence Yun.6
“Housing unaffordability will hinder sales irrespective of the local job market conditions,” said Yun. “This is evident in the very expensive markets as home prices are either topping off or slightly falling.”5
But what about all this talk of a recession? Will we see housing values plummet like they did in 2008? Economists say no.
If we look at history, the real estate crash experienced during the Great Recession isn’t typical.
The recent Housing and Mortgage Market Review report from Arch Mortgage Insurance provides data to support this. “What we found is that the next recession is likely to be far less severe on the housing market than the last one. It’s not that this time is different; it’s that last time was really different from historic norms.”6
“A large decline in national home prices is unlikely in the next recession,” Arch economists write. “A persistent housing shortage should help cushion home price declines.”6
What does it mean for you? If you have the ability and desire to buy a home now, don’t let the threat of a recession hold you in limbo. The market is cyclical, and it will experience ups and downs. But over the long term, real estate has consistently proven to be a good investment.
STARTER INVENTORY REMAINS TIGHT WHILE LUXURY MARKET SOFTENS
As we’ve seen in the past, it’s become a tale of two sectors.
The low-end of the market remains highly competitive as buyers compete for affordable housing. A lack of new construction during the last recession led to an undersupply of starter homes. This trend continues—despite growing demand—due to a lack of skilled workers, rising land and material costs, and a slow permitting process in many areas.7
The result? There’s a shortage of homes for sale that Americans can actually afford to buy.
The luxury market, on the other hand, has softened. Economic uncertainty, changes to tax laws, and rising prices have slowed demand. Plus, to recoup their higher costs, builders flocked to this segment—causing an overabundance of supply in some areas.
“If you’re selling an entry level home, you’re probably still looking at a pretty competitive market in most places,” according to Danielle Hale, chief economist at Realtor.com. “But if you’re selling a more expensive home you probably have to adjust your expectations.”8
What does it mean for you? Move-up buyers, you’re in luck! If you’re ready to trade in your starter home for something more luxurious, you may get the best of both sectors. We’re still witnessing strong demand for entry-level homes, giving sellers the upper hand. At the same time, buyers of high-end homes are finding a greater selection (and more negotiating power) than they’ve had in years.
INVESTORS ARE BUYING HOMES AT RECORD LEVELS
There’s one group that hasn’t been slowed down by lack of affordability or economic uncertainty: investors.
According to CoreLogic, investors are purchasing homes at a record pace. In 2018, the share of U.S. homes bought by investors reached 11.3%—the highest level since the company began tracking nearly 20 years ago.9
Notably, this increased activity wasn’t led by institutional investors, but instead by small and individual investors focused on the starter-home segment.7 Declining interest rates and an uncertain stock market have led investors to flock to real estate as they seek out greater stability and higher returns.
“With declining mortgage rates … they’re searching for a better return for their money,” said NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun.10
What does it mean for you? If you’re looking for a way to “recession proof” your money, you might want to consider investing in real estate. People will always need a place to live, and (unlike the stock market) a rental property can provide a steady source of cash flow during uncertain economic times.
WE’RE HERE TO GUIDE YOU
If you have specific questions or would like more information about how market changes could affect you, contact us to schedule a free consultation. We’re here to help you navigate this shifting real estate landscape.
While national real estate numbers can provide a “big picture” outlook, real estate is local. As local market experts, we can guide you through the ins and outs of our market and the issues most likely to impact sales and home values in your particular neighborhood.
LOCAL MARKET. HOUSTON
Preliminary numbers for Houston Real Estate Market in September are out and we can see how more homes have come to the market, 2.6% up from last year this time. Active listings are up with 3.9% from 2018. Remember this are general number only. For a detailed market update pf your neighborhood or area contact me and I will be happy to send one over.
Picture this: you’ve finally found the home of your dreams. It’s got all the features you’ve been searching for, and it’s in the perfect neighborhood. There can’t possibly be anything wrong with it…right?
Though technically optional, a home inspection is highly recommended by most realtors, as it can save you thousands of dollars—or even prevent you from making a costly mistake all together. Here are some reasons why you need a home inspection before you move in—even if you don’t see anything wrong on the surface.
You Could Avoid Expensive Repairs
This is probably the biggest advantage of a home inspection. Certain problems can cost thousands to fix and may not be immediately visible. Wondering what kind of issues a home inspector can find and how much they’ll cost? Here are some of the biggest issues uncovered during home inspections (and typical costs to fix):
HVAC replacement: $4,000 – $12,000
Leaky roof: $300 – $2,000 for basic repair, $4,000 – $20,000+ for advanced repair
Foundation issues: $4,000 – $10,000
A great home inspector will fully sweep the home and point out any problems or potential issues. If there are any big-ticket expenses, you may want to reevaluate your purchase.
You’ll Protect Your Wallet
Buying a home is one of the biggest investments you can make, and a good investment will generate more capital than what you initially paid. While a well-maintained home in a prime location can be a fantastic investment, expensive repairs can turn it into a financial disaster.
Once you have an inspection report detailing all of the issues with the home, you can evaluate the cost of repairs to determine if it’s a good deal. If you aren’t satisfied, you can walk away without losing much money.
You Gain a Negotiation Tool
While not all properties will require major repairs, even new construction homes may have issues you’ll want to take care of before moving in. You can use your inspection report as a negotiation tool to potentially lower the price of the home.
There are a few directions you can go from here. One option is to ask for money off of the price of the home so you can complete the repairs yourself. On the flip side, you can also ask the sellers to make the fixes as a condition of the sale. Either way, you’ll be saving yourself money in the long run.
You Get the Full Picture
While you may be in love with a home, it’s hard to know what potential issues to look for if you’re not a licensed professional. Think of a home inspection like a check-up, and the home inspector like a doctor—it’s the perfect opportunity to learn about the health of a home, from the roof down to the foundation.
The inspector can diagnose all kinds of problems and tell you what needs to be fixed (and for how much). After the inspection, you’ll be handed a comprehensive report that gives you a full picture of the home’s condition, allowing you a more realistic look at the details that you might not have noticed before.
Ready to Buy Your Next Home?
Buying a home can be a difficult decision, so make sure you have the tools you need to make a well-informed decision. For tips on smooth sailing during the buying process, give us a call so we can chat. We’ve got the resources you need to make the right choice.
Haven’t started the buying process yet? Check out our specialized search tool to find the home of your dreams, and let us know when you’re ready to get started.
As the name suggests, this meeting takes place right before they put drywall (sheetrock) the home. The purpose of this meeting is to make sure all the framing was done correctly and that mechanicals (plumbing, electrical, HVAC, cable/network, alarm pre wire, etc) is in the correct place. You also can and should hire a third party inspector to make sure it is all done correctly and up to current codes. I highly recommend this step. Make sure if you hire one that is bonded and insured up to 1MM. This would be part of that 3 step inspection I’ve talked about before.
In this meeting you will go over all your plumbing, electrical and special selections to make sure it’s all in the correct place and/or if any changes need to be made.
Just like in the pre construction meeting the super will go over each plan and show you where everything is to make sure it’s where you wanted it be. You should be walking the construction site with the plans in hand to check and verify all details.
Things to keep in mind
Do you have enough light in every room? Think that most model homes have additional lighting added to make them appear brighter than they are. It’s usually recommended to get some additional lights from the standard package offered by the home builder. This meeting will probably be your last chance to make changes to electrical outlet placement, TV/cable/network outlets, light switches, security cameras, etc. Do you maybe want to hide your outlets under the cabinets in the kitchen? This is your last chance.
While all of these selections should be done at design center long before the pre sheetrock meeting happens; changes can still happen at this stage in case you forgot something or the builder made a mistake. It happens.
Think about additional outside outlets for holiday lights or decorative lights. Pre plumbing for outdoor kitchens and or laundry sinks. Extra connections for the water hose on the side of the house?
We’ve all been there. One day, you look around your house, and there’s just So. Much. Stuff. Stuff in boxes, stuff on the walls, stuff in the corners—just…stuff. If you’re gearing up to sell your home, you’re going to have to deal with all that accumulated clutter eventually. Luckily, there are plenty of simple strategies for getting the job done!
Arm yourself for the Crusade Against the Clutter, and use these top tips to transform your home before selling.
If you aren’t prepared, things can quickly get overwhelming. After all, you’re not only getting your home ready to sell, but you’re also packing things up, finding a new home, and dealing with your finances. It makes sense that decluttering your home isn’t first on your list, but it’s one of the most important steps!
Before you list your home, you want the space to be ready to wow buyers from the second they walk through the door. If you kick off your decluttering months in advance, you’ll be in much better shape come listing time.
Expand Your Storage
For many people, clutter accumulates simply because they don’t know what they actually have. An easy way to fix this issue and make your home more organized is by coming up with an intentional storage solution.
Hit the store and pick up some sliding storage and plastic tubs, then label each unit and keep it stored anyway until needed. That way, you’ll know exactly what you have and where it is. Never worry about misplaced holiday decorations or a surplus of school supplies ever again! Plus, a lot of your stuff will already be neatly packed away come moving time.
Take It Little by Little
Decluttering can be a long process, filling up nights and weekends and free time—especially if you put it off until the last minute. Luckily, if you start ahead of time, you’ll have the luxury of taking it little by little. And not just one room at a time—we mean really little, like an hour or two hours spent on just the kitchen cabinets or bedroom closets.
You can even make it fun! Get everybody in the house together and play a game of 12-12-12. The rules are simple: walk through the house and find 12 items you want to keep, 12 items you want to get rid of, and 12 items you want to sell/donate. You’d be surprised how quickly you can reduce your clutter after a few rounds, and it only takes a couple of minutes!
Make it FAST
For the last tip, we’ve gotten the inside scoop from professional organizer, Peter Walsh. Walsh says that decluttering is as simple as remembering this short acronym:
Fixa time. Plan ahead, and find a time that works for everyone in the house—and make attendance mandatory!
Anything not used in twelve months. If you haven’t used it in a year, then you probably don’t need it. Ask yourself a few questions: Do I need it? Is it valuable to me? Is it worth the space it’s taking up? If no, then kick it to the curb.
Someone else’s stuff. Still have that borrowed tupperware? Give it back. Holding onto things that family members have left behind? Send it their way. If it’s not yours, find a new home for it!
Trash. It’s easy to get sentimental and hold onto things that are well past their expiration date (metaphorically speaking). Don’t be afraid to take the plunge—and maybe even go overboard—and trash some of your older belongings. If you don’t want to go full in and trash it, then you can always donate it to a good cause.
Get Your Home Ready to Sell
Decluttering is just one small step in the selling journey—albeit a fairly time-consuming one. Luckily, we’re here to help you carry the load! Give us a call to learn a few more tips for getting rid of your clutter and staging your home for success.
In the meantime, feel free to explore our additional selling resources, like our neighborhood sold report and Comparative Market Analysis, and let us know when you’re ready to get started!
Everybody loves talking about mortgages. They’re fun, easy to understand, and a great icebreaker, right?….Wrong. Thanks to their lengthy process, technical jargon, and confusing options, mortgages have a bit of an intimidating reputation—but it doesn’t have to be that way!
If you’re in the process of buying a new home and dreading the mortgage application process, here’s what you need to know to keep things running smoothly.
Know How Much You Can Spend
If you’re feeling antsy about getting started and want a general idea of how much loan you might qualify for, consider the 28/36 rule, or the Debt-to-Income ratio—AKA what most lenders use to help calculate your mortgage.
Essentially, the 28/36 rule means that your monthly mortgage payment shouldn’t be more than 28% of your gross income. Additionally, your outstanding debts—like mortgage, car loans, student loans—shouldn’t account for more than 36% of your gross income.
Get Your Finances in Order
Not seeing the numbers you were hoping for after calculating your Debt-to-Income ratio? Then, hopefully, you’ve given yourself a little time to shift things in your favor. Paying off loans, improving your credit score, avoiding big purchases—these will all help you change those numbers.
Of course, completing those tasks is a little harder to do in practice than in theory, so you may have to take a look at your budget and see where you can cut out some extras—at least temporarily!
What You’ll Need to Apply
In the weeks before you plan on applying for a mortgage, you should start collecting all of the documents you need. Since a lender will be telling you exactly how much money they’re willing to loan, they’ll need a comprehensive understanding of your finances beforehand. Start gathering things like:
Your two most recent pay stubs
Current and prior addresses
Asset information (retirement funds, 401(k), stocks and bonds, other investments)
Depending on the lender you choose, you may need additional documents, so consider calling in to double-check beforehand.
Find the Right Mortgage
Once it’s time to start thinking more concretely about applying for a mortgage, you have several options to consider. While all the mortgage options out there could easily fill a whole blog post on their own, here’s a quick rundown to give you a general idea:
Conventional/Fixed-rate: The interest rate of a fixed-rate loan won’t change over time, making it a popular choice for its predictability. Conventional loans typically require a 20% down payment or mortgage insurance for smaller down payments.
Adjustable-rate: The interest rate of adjustable-rate mortgage will fluctuate over time, sometimes lower than fixed-rate, sometimes higher. There is a cap in place so the rate doesn’t get too out of control, but ARMs are typically more popular with those who plan to refinance.
FHA: If you are struggling to come up with a down payment, you may have options with an FHA mortgage. Provided by the Federal Housing Administration, these loans come with a low down payment requirement and built-in mortgage insurance.
USDA: Live in a rural area? Then check out your USDA eligibility! A surprising amount of areas qualify for USDA loans, even if you aren’t living in the countryside. Plus, USDA loans don’t require a down payment and offer lower insurance premiums.
These aren’t the only options you’ll have, just the most common. If none of these sound right or you aren’t sure which to choose, just ask your lender!
Choose the Right Lender
When it comes time to decide who to work with, you’ll have to do your research. Each lender is different, meaning they’ll likely offer you different rates, charges, and loan options.
Luckily, we’ve been working in real estate around the area for years, so we know exactly which lenders are right for which buyers. If you need a few suggestions before you kick off your search, just let us know!
Still Have Questions?
That’s okay—we get it. Applying for mortgage is confusing and challenging, especially if it’s your first time. If you have any questions about the process, we’re here to help.
Ready to start looking at a few homes in your price range? We can help with that, too! Check out our specialized search tool to narrow down your options, and give us a call to start seeing a few in person!
If you’re gearing up to sell your home, you’ve probably read tons of articles all about what you should be doing…but what about what you shouldn’t be doing? After all, selling your home is a huge financial decision, and a misstep could mean losing out on your hard-earned profit.
Don’t let something as easy to fix as not staging or pricing incorrectly throw off the success of your sale! Here are the top five mistakes to avoid when selling your home.
Setting an Unrealistic Price
It might come as a surprise, but pricing a home is tricky. Not only do you have to take into account what homes around yours have recently sold for (or, in other words, what buyers are willing to pay), but you also need to know how to value any updates and improvements you’ve made. Plus, you want your home to be priced so that it pops up in as many online searches as possible. When it comes to finding that magic number, sellers’ emotions often cloud the ability to accurately price a home.
So you’ll just use an automatic estimator, and that’ll take care of things, right? Well, only if you’re okay with using outdated data and not taking into account any upgrades you’ve made. The best way to get a price that guarantees you’ll maximize your investment? Enlisting the help of an experienced local agent.
Ignoring Major Repairs (or Making the Wrong Ones)
During the inspection process, your home will be reviewed with a fine-tooth comb. Any things you’ve been avoiding, like leaky faucets, outdated water heaters, or water damage in the ceilings, will be noted and shared with buyers. Additionally, if there are any major necessary repairs that you didn’t disclose ahead of time, you could find yourself in serious legal trouble—or with a cancelled sale on your hands.
Limiting Showings & Failing to Stage
You’re selling your home, but you want to sell it on your terms. You don’t want to have showings every weekend or on short notice, and you don’t want to have to rearrange furniture or remove decor for staging. While changing your home or lifestyle to accommodate buyers might seem like a major hassle, being inflexible is only going to hurt you in the long run.
Buyers are going to want to see your home, sometimes more than once, and it needs to be looking its best if you want to get serious (and competitive) offers. In fact, staged homes have been shown to sell almost 90% faster and for a 20% higher profit than non-staged homes!
Letting Your Emotions Get in the Way
You’ve made a lot of memories in your home, and the space likely holds indescribable value to you. So hearing people walk through the house and point out all of the flaws—then not make an offer—can be draining. A good rule of thumb for selling? Think of the process as a business transaction, and think of yourself as a salesperson, not a homeowner. Creating that divide will not only improve your emotional state, but it’ll also help you see exactly how your home can be better than it is.
Not Hiring an Agent
Thinking of listing For Sale by Owner to avoid agent commission fees? In reality, selling FSBO can actually COST you money in the long run;. according to a 2016 study by the National Association of Realtors®, the average price for a FSBO home was around $185,000—which is $60,000 less than the average price of a home listed by an agent ($245,000).
Aside from pricing, there’s a lot more that an agent can help you with. They’ll come up with a marketing plan for your home, suggest personalized staging strategies, conduct open houses and showings for you, and guide you through any problems or roadblocks along the way, all of which will take a load of work and stress off of your shoulders.
Ready to List Your Home?
Feeling a little intimidated by the home-selling process? Don’t worry—we’re here to help! Not only can we give you a few more pointers on what you should and shouldn’t do, but we’ll also be around to guide you through every aspect of the sale, from listing to showings to closing.
Ready to learn a little more about what it takes to sell for top dollar? Just give our team a call to get started!