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.