How to Prepare for a Bidding War [INFOGRAPHIC]

How to Prepare for a Bidding War [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

How to Prepare for a Bidding War [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Some Highlights

  • With so few houses available on the market today, being ready for a bidding war is essential for prospective homebuyers.
  • From pre-approval to making your best offer, here are three tips to make sure you can act quickly and confidently when you find the perfect home.
  • Let’s connect today to be sure you have the guidance you need as the competition for homes heats up this season.

Do You Need to Know More about Forbearance and Mortgage Relief Options?

Do You Need to Know More about Forbearance and Mortgage Relief Options? | Simplifying The Market

Earlier this year when the nation pressed pause on the economy and unemployment rates jumped up significantly, many homeowners were immediately concerned about being able to pay their mortgages, and understandably so. To assist in this challenging time, two protection plans were put into place to help support those in need.

First, there was a pause placed on initiating foreclosures for government-backed loans. This plan started on March 18, 2020, and it extends at least through December 31, 2020. Second, homeowners were able to obtain forbearance for up to 180 days, followed by a potential extension for up to another 180 days. This way, there is a relief period in which homeowners have the opportunity to halt payments on their mortgages for up to one year.

Not Everyone Understands Their Options

The challenge, according to Matt Hulstein, Staff Attorney at non-profit Chicago Volunteer Legal Services, is, “A lot of homeowners aren’t aware of this option.”

There’s definitely traction behind this statement. In a recent survey by The National Housing Resource Center, housing counselors from across the country noted that many homeowners really don’t know that there is help available. The following graph indicates the reasons why people who are in this challenging situation are not choosing to enter forbearance:Do You Need to Know More about Forbearance and Mortgage Relief Options? | Simplifying The MarketThe Urban Institute explained:

“530,000 homeowners who became delinquent after the pandemic began did not take advantage of forbearance, despite being eligible to ask for the plan…These responses reflect a need to provide better information to all homeowners. (Lump-sum payment is not the only repayment option.)

Additionally, 205,000 homeowners who did not extend their forbearance after its term ended in June or July became delinquent on their loans. We need to examine who these people are and why are they not extending their option.”

Clearly, a more focused effort on education about forbearance and relief programs may make a big difference for many people, and a clear understanding of their options is mission-critical. Some communities, however, have been impacted by the economic challenges of the pandemic more so than others, further confirming the need to deliver education more widely. The Urban Institute also indicates:

“Black and Hispanic homeowners have been hit harder than white homeowners…nearly 21 percent of both Black and Hispanic homeowners missed or deferred the previous month’s mortgage payment, compared with 10 percent of white homeowners and about 13 percent of all homeowners with payments due.”

Options Available

It’s important to note that any homeowner experiencing financial hardship has the right to request forbearance. If you’re unfamiliar with the plans available, contact your mortgage provider (the company you send your mortgage payment to each month) to discuss your options. It is a necessary next step, as you may qualify for mortgage relief options or forbearance.

One option many homeowners may not realize they have is the ability to sell their house in this time of need. With the growing equity that homeowners have available today, making a move might be the best option to protect your financial future.

Bottom Line

If you need additional information on your options, you can review the Protect Your Investment guide from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and the Homeowner’s Guide to Success from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). For the majority of people, our home is the most important asset we have, and you should use all the help available right now to be able to preserve your investment.

The #1 Reason Not to Wait to List Your House for Sale

The #1 Reason Not to Wait to List Your House for Sale | Simplifying The Market

Many industries have been devastated by the economic shutdown caused by the COVID-19 virus. Real estate is not one of them.

Mark Fleming, Chief Economist for First American, just reported:

“Since hitting a low point during the initial stages of the pandemic, the only major industry to display immunity to the economic impacts of the coronavirus is the housing market. Housing has experienced a strong V-shaped recovery and is now exceeding pre-pandemic levels.”

Buyer demand is still strong heading into the fall. ShowingTime, which tracks the average number of buyer showings on residential properties, just announced that buyer showings are up 61.9% compared to the same time last year. They went on to say:

“Normally, real estate activity begins to slow down in the late summer, but this year it peaked in July, August and into September.”

There Is One Big Challenge

Purchaser demand is so high, the market is running out of available homes for sale. Just last week, realtor.com reported:

“Since the beginning of the COVID pandemic in March, nearly 400,000 fewer homes have been listed compared to last year, leaving a gaping hole in the U.S. housing inventory.”

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) revealed that, while home sales are skyrocketing, the inventory of existing homes for sale is dropping dramatically. Below is a graph of existing inventory (September numbers are not yet available):The #1 Reason Not to Wait to List Your House for Sale | Simplifying The MarketHomebuilders are increasing construction, but they cannot keep up with the high demand. Bill McBride, founder of the Calculated Risk blog, in discussing inventory of newly constructed houses, notes:

“The months of supply decreased to 3.3 months…This is the all-time record low months of supply.”

What does this mean for sellers?

Anyone thinking of putting their home on the market should not wait. A seller will always negotiate the best deal when demand is high and supply is limited. That’s exactly the situation in the real estate market today.

Next year, when the pandemic is hopefully behind us, there will be many more properties coming to the market. Don’t wait for that increase in competition in your neighborhood. Now is the time to sell.

Bottom Line

Let’s connect today to get your house on the market at this optimal time to sell.

Do You Have Enough Money Saved for a Down Payment?

Do You Have Enough Money Saved for a Down Payment? | Simplifying The Market

One of the biggest misconceptions for first-time homebuyers is how much you’ll need to save for a down payment. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t always have to put 20% down to buy a house. Here’s how it breaks down.

A recent survey by Point2Homes mentions that 74% of millennials (ages 25-40) say they’re interested in purchasing a home over the next 12 months. The study notes, “88% say they have significantly less savings than the average national down payment amount, which is $62,600.”

Thankfully, $62,600 is not the amount every buyer needs for a down payment in the United States. There are many different options available, especially for first-time homebuyers (millennial or not). That amount can also be significantly less, depending on the purchase price of the house.

According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), “The median existing-home price for all housing types in August was $310,600.(These are the latest numbers available). NAR also indicates that:

“In 2019, the median down payment was 12 percent for all buyers, six percent for first-time buyers, and 16 percent for repeat buyers.” (See graph below):

Do You Have Enough Money Saved for a Down Payment? | Simplifying The MarketThat means if a qualified first-time buyer purchases a home at today’s median price, $310,600, with a 6% down payment, in reality, the down payment only amounts to $18,636. That’s nowhere near $62,600.

Knowing there are also programs like FHA where the down payment can be as low as 3.5% of the purchase price for a first-time buyer, that up-front cost could be significantly less – as little as $10,871 for the same home noted above. There are also other programs like USDA and loans for Veterans that waive down payment requirements.

The Point2Homes study also shares how much millennials have indicated they’ve saved for a down payment. As we can see in the graph below, 39% have already saved enough for a down payment on a median-priced home. Another 47% are close to reaching that goal, depending on the purchase price of the home.Do You Have Enough Money Saved for a Down Payment? | Simplifying The MarketUnfortunately, the lack of knowledge about the homebuying process is keeping many motivated first-time buyers on the sidelines. That’s why it’s important to contact a local real estate professional to understand the requirements in your local area if you want to buy a home. A trusted agent and your lender can guide you through the process.

Bottom Line

Be careful not to let big myths about homebuying keep you and your family out of the housing market. Let’s connect to discuss your options today.

6 Reasons You’ll Win by Selling with a Real Estate Agent This Fall

6 Reasons You’ll Win by Selling with a Real Estate Agent This Fall | Simplifying The Market

There are many benefits to working with a real estate professional when selling your house. During challenging times, like what we face today, it becomes even more important to have an expert you trust to help guide you through the process. If you’re considering selling on your own, known in the industry as a For Sale by Owner (FSBO), it’s critical to consider the following:

1. Your Safety Is a Priority

Your family’s safety should always come first, and that’s more crucial than ever given the current health situation in our country. When you FSBO, it is incredibly difficult to control entry into your home. A real estate professional will have the proper protocols in place to protect not only your belongings but your family’s health and well-being too. From regulating the number of people in your home at one time to ensuring proper sanitization during and after a showing, and even facilitating virtual tours for buyers, real estate professionals are equipped to follow the latest industry standards recommended by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) to help protect you and your family.

2. A Powerful Online Strategy Is a Must to Attract a Buyer

Recent studies from NAR have shown that, even before COVID-19, the first step 44% of all buyers took when looking for a home was to search online. Throughout the process, that number jumps to 93%. Today, those numbers have grown exponentially. Most real estate agents have developed a strong Internet and social media strategy to promote the sale of your house. Have you?

3. There Are Too Many Negotiations

Here are just a few of the people you’ll need to negotiate with if you decide to FSBO:

  • The buyer, who wants the best deal possible
  • The buyer’s agent, who solely represents the best interest of the buyer
  • The inspection companies, which work for the buyer and will almost always find challenges with the house
  • The appraiser, if there is a question of value

As part of their training, agents are taught how to negotiate every aspect of the real estate transaction and how to mediate the emotions felt by buyers looking to make what is probably the largest purchase of their lives.

4. You Won’t Know if Your Purchaser Is Qualified for a Mortgage

Having a buyer who wants to purchase your house is the first step. Making sure they can afford to buy it is just as important. As a FSBO, it’s almost impossible to be involved in the mortgage process of your buyer. A real estate professional is trained to ask the appropriate questions and, in most cases, will be intimately aware of the progress being made toward a purchaser’s mortgage commitment.

Further complicating the situation is how the current mortgage market is rapidly evolving because of the number of families out of work and in mortgage forbearance. A loan program that was available yesterday could be gone tomorrow. You need someone who is working with lenders every day to guarantee your buyer makes it to the closing table.

5. FSBOing Has Become More Difficult from a Legal Standpoint

The documentation involved in the selling process has increased dramatically as more and more disclosures and regulations have become mandatory. In an increasingly litigious society, the agent acts as a third-party to help the seller avoid legal jeopardy. This is one of the major reasons why the percentage of people FSBOing has dropped from 19% to 8% over the last 20+ years.

6. You Net More Money When Using an Agent

Many homeowners believe they’ll save the real estate commission by selling on their own. Realize that the main reason buyers look at FSBOs is because they also believe they can save the real estate agent’s commission. The seller and buyer can’t both save on the commission.

A study by Collateral Analytics revealed that FSBOs don’t actually save anything by forgoing the help of an agent. In some cases, the seller may even net less money from the sale. The study found the difference in price between a FSBO and an agent-listed home was an average of 6%. One of the main reasons for the price difference is effective exposure:

“Properties listed with a broker that is a member of the local MLS will be listed online with all other participating broker websites, marketing the home to a much larger buyer population. And those MLS properties generally offer compensation to agents who represent buyers, incentivizing them to show and sell the property and again potentially enlarging the buyer pool.”

The more buyers that view a home, the greater the chance a bidding war will take place.

Bottom Line

Listing on your own leaves you to manage the entire transaction by yourself. Why do that when you can hire an agent and still net the same amount of money? Before you decide to take on the challenge of selling your house alone, let’s connect to discuss your options.

Thinking of Moving? [INFOGRAPHIC]

Thinking of Moving? [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Thinking of Moving? [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Some Highlights

  • If you’re ready to sell your house but you’re worried about finding one to move into, why not invest in a brand-new home built just for you?
  • New construction is on the rise, so it’s a great time to think about a custom home to fit your family’s changing needs.
  • Let’s connect today to discuss how to sell your house while buyer demand is high and find you a new home to call your own while you’re at it.

Essential Pandemic Preparations for Another COVID-19 Lockdown

Photo via Rawpixel

Weathering a second coronavirus quarantine may be a scary thought, but it’s a real possibility that we all have to be prepared for. A coronavirus outbreak in your area may prompt authorities to issue another round of shelter-in-place orders to keep everyone safe. This time, however, you can be prepared! Before you have to hunker down again, transform your home into a refreshing and welcoming place where you actually want to spend your days working, exercising, relaxing, and bonding with your family.

Consider Moving

Many families find that with everyone in the house working and playing 24/7, elbow room is tight. If you’ve been toying with the idea of buying a new home that better fits the needs of your family, this could be the right time to make your move! The real estate market is in full swing following a brief slowdown during the initial coronavirus outbreak, and buyers everywhere are eager to secure a low interest rate on a mortgage. This means you may have to act fast to get the home you want! Work with a trustworthy real estate agent from eXp Realty for help finding your dream home during this uncertain time.

Say Goodbye to Bad Vibes

Spending time at home should feel like a positive, relaxing, and rejuvenating experience. If the atmosphere of your home feels negative, it’s time to make some changes! Redfin recommends refreshing your home by cleaning, decluttering, and using naturopathic remedies to purify your space. You could also try employing the Chinese practice of Feng Shui to make your home feel harmonious and balanced. Get rid of anything you own that’s broken, including appliances and tools you’ve been meaning to fix, and throw out old items hogging space in your fridge and pantry.

Do Some Cleaning

Besides decluttering your home, give everything a thorough cleaning. You’ll feel a lot better about being quarantined in a sparkling clean home! As you clean your home, Popular Mechanics recommends working from the top down, tackling fan blades and cupboards, then counters and tables, and ending with the floor. This will help you avoid cleaning the same things twice. Finally, clean your upholstery, bedding, and carpets so they smell fresh and clean. A quick way to deodorize soft surfaces in your home is to sprinkle them with baking soda before vacuuming!

Refresh Your Indoor Air

Did you know that indoor air quality is often much worse than that of outdoor air? As Smarter House explains, our homes are full of common air pollutants, including pesticides, dust, bacteria, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are emitted from building materials, wall paint, and furniture.

Interesting Engineering notes that improving your indoor air quality is a great step towards better whole-body health and can help your home feel much more refreshing. Open up your windows to encourage better airflow through your home, replace the filter in your HVAC system, vacuum regularly, and get some air-purifying houseplants!

Stock Your Kitchen with Healthy Options

When you’re stuck at home without much to do, it’s easy to indulge in unhealthy snacks. To prepare for the next quarantine, stock your home with plenty of nutritious options! The goal here is to make healthy eating as easy and convenient as possible, so stock up on healthy staples like whole grains, dried beans, nuts, and canned goods like tuna, diced tomatoes, and corn. You may also want to fill your freezer with perfectly portioned pieces of lean meat, like fish and chicken, that you can pop in the oven or add to a stovetop meal in a pinch. Stocking up your kitchen with nutritious ingredients can stop you from ordering takeout when you get hungry in quarantine, saving you money and helping you stay healthy!

No one wants to think about another coronavirus lockdown, but it may be necessary to reduce the effects of a second wave of COVID-19. Just in case, get your home in shape! Clean, declutter, get rid of bad energy, purify your indoor air, and stock your kitchen with good, healthy food. With the right preparations, you’ll be able to keep your family happy and healthy during another quarantine.

Author: Erin Reynolds of diymama.net | erin@diymama.net

Should You Buy a Retirement Home Sooner Rather than Later?

Should You Buy a Retirement Home Sooner Rather than Later? | Simplifying The Market

Every day in the U.S., roughly 10,000 people turn 65. Prior to the health crisis that swept the nation in 2020, most people had to wait until they retired to make a move to the beach, the golf course, or the senior living community they were looking to settle into for their later years in life. This year, however, the game changed.

Many of today’s workers who are nearing the end of their professional careers, but maybe aren’t quite ready to retire, have a new choice to make: should I move before I retire? If the sand and sun are calling your name and you have the opportunity to work remotely for the foreseeable future, now may be a great time to purchase that beach bungalow you’ve always dreamed of or the single-story home in the sprawling countryside that might be a little further out of town. Whether it’s a second home or a future retirement home, spending the next few years in a place that truly makes you smile every day might be the best way to round out a long and meaningful career.

Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at the National Association of Realtors (NAR), explains:

“The pandemic was unexpected, working from home was unexpected, but nonetheless many companies realized that workers can be just as productive working from home…We may begin to see a boost in people buying retirement homes before their retirement.”

According to the 20th Annual Transamerica Retirement Survey, 3 out of 4 retirees (75%) own their homes, and only 23% have mortgage debt (including any equity loans or lines of credit). Since entering retirement, almost 4 in 10 retirees (38%) have moved into a new home. They’re making a profit by selling their current homes in today’s low inventory market and using their equity to purchase their future retirement homes. It’s a win-win.

Why These Homeowners Are Making Moves Now

The health crisis this year made us all more aware of the importance of our family and friends, and many of us have not seen our extended families since the pandemic started. It’s no surprise, therefore, to see in the same report that 32% of those surveyed cited the top reason they’re making a move is that they want to be closer to family and friends (See graph below):Should You Buy a Retirement Home Sooner Rather than Later? | Simplifying The MarketThe survey also revealed that 73% percent of retirees currently live in single-family homes. With the overall number of homes for sale today hitting a historic low, and with the buyer demand for single-family homes skyrocketing, there’s never been a more ideal time to sell a single-family home and make a move toward retirement. Today’s market has the perfect combination of driving forces to make selling optimal, especially while buyers are looking to take advantage of low interest rates.

If you’re one of the 73% of retirees with a single-family home and want to move closer to your family, now is the time to put your house on the market. With the pace homes are selling today, you could essentially wrap up your move – start to finish – before the holidays.

Bottom Line 

Whether you’re looking to fully retire or to buy a second home with the intent to use it as your retirement home in the future, the 2020 fall housing market may very well work in your favor. Let’s connect today to discuss your options in our local market.

A Homeowner’s Net Worth Is 40x Greater Than a Renter’s

A Homeowner’s Net Worth Is 40x Greater Than a Renter’s | Simplifying The Market

One of the best ways to build your family’s financial future is through homeownership. Recent data from the Federal Reserve indicates the net worth of a homeowner is actually over 40 times greater than that of a renter. Maybe it’s time to start thinking about buying a home, especially when they’re so affordable in today’s market.

Every three years the Survey of Consumer Finances shows the breakdown of how owning a home helps build financial security. In the graph below, we see that the average net worth of homeowners continues to grow, while the net worth of renters tends to hold fairly steady and be significantly lower than that of homeowners. The gap between owning and renting just keeps getting wider over time, making homeownership more and more desirable for those who are ready.A Homeowner’s Net Worth Is 40x Greater Than a Renter’s | Simplifying The Market

Owning a home is a great way to build family wealth.

For many families, homeownership serves as a form of ‘forced savings.’ Every time you pay your mortgage, you’re contributing to your net worth by increasing the equity you have in your home (See chart below):A Homeowner’s Net Worth Is 40x Greater Than a Renter’s | Simplifying The MarketThe impact of home equity is part of why Gallup reports that Americans picked real estate as the best long-term investment for the seventh year in a row. According to this year’s survey, 35% of Americans chose real estate over stocks, savings accounts, gold, and bonds.

Today, there are great opportunities available for those planning to buy a home. The housing market has made a full recovery, and all-time low interest rates are giving homebuyers a big boost in purchasing power. If you’re ready, buying a home this fall can set you up to increase your net worth and create a safety net for your family’s future.

Bottom Line

To learn how you can use your monthly housing cost to build your family’s net worth, let’s connect so you have a trusted professional to guide you through the homebuying process.

Is it Time to Move into a Single-Story Home?

Is it Time to Move into a Single-Story Home? | Simplifying The Market

Once the kids have left the nest, you may be wondering what to do with all of the extra space in your home. Chances are, you don’t need four bedrooms anymore, and it may be a great time to sell your house and downsize, maybe even into a single-story home. You’ve likely gained significant equity if you’ve lived in your home for a while, so making a move while demand for your current house is high could be your best step forward toward the retirement goals you set out to achieve several years ago.

The dilemma, though, is where to go next. A big concern for many homeowners who are ready to sell is finding a home to move into, given today’s lack of houses available for sale. There is, however, some good news: the number of single-family 1-story homes being built today is on the rise, improving your odds of finding the right home for your changing needs. In a recent article, The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) explains:

“Nationwide, the share of new homes with two or more stories fell from 53% in 2018 to 52% in 2019, while the share of new homes with one story grew from 47% to 48%.”

Here’s a map showing the breakdown of newly constructed homes being built by region, and the percentage of 1-story and 2-story homes in that mix:Is it Time to Move into a Single-Story Home? | Simplifying The Market

What are the benefits of buying a one-story home?

Still not sure about buying a single-story home? An article from Home Talk covers several advantages of switching from two floors to one:

1. Energy Efficient

“It is easier to heat and cool a single-story house [than] it would be to regulate the temperatures of a multi-story house.”

Most single-story homes only need one heating or cooling unit, and they typically stay cooler than a two-story home, both of which can lead to significant savings.

2. Easier to Maintain

“Doing a general cleaning in a single story requires less effort and you will be able to see all areas that need cleaning and the areas are easily accessible.”

Cleaning and maintenance of a single-story home can take less time and effort, and better upkeep helps improve the overall value of the home.

3. Accessible for Everyone

“A single-story house can be accessed by anyone, whether they are young children or the senior citizens.”

If you’re looking for a house that provides a safe and easily accessible environment at any age, a single-story home may be optimal.

4. Good Resell Potential

“When buying a single-story house, you should consider the resale value should you think of reselling it in case of a circumstance that can happen. Look at the growth rate of that area. Due to the high demand of these types of houses it is [easy] to resell them and depending on the growth rate of an area, it increases in value significantly.”

Single-story homes have a lot of benefits and are often in higher demand. This bodes well for future resale opportunities.

Bottom Line

There are many benefits to downsizing into a one-story home. Doing so while demand for your current house is high might make it easier than ever to make a move. Let’s connect if you’re ready to purchase the single-story home you need while homes are so affordable today.