Western Massachusetts Real Estate and Community News

July 31, 2021

Top Reasons To Own Your Home [INFOGRAPHIC]

Top Reasons To Own Your Home [INFOGRAPHIC] | Keeping Current Matters

July 28, 2021

What To Expect as Appraisal Gaps Grow

What To Expect as Appraisal Gaps Grow

 

In today’s real estate market, low inventory and high demand are driving up home prices. As many as 54% of homes are getting offers over the listing price, based on the latest Realtors Confidence Index from the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Shawn Telford, Chief Appraiser at CoreLogicelaborates:

“The frequency of buyers being willing to pay more than the market data supports is increasing.”

While this is great news for today’s sellers, it can be tricky to navigate if the price of your contract doesn’t match up with the appraisal for the house. It’s called an appraisal gap, and it’s happening more in today’s market than the norm.

According to recent data from CoreLogic19% of homes had their appraised value come in below the contract price in April of this year. That’s more than double the percentage in each of the two previous Aprils.

The chart below uses the latest insights from NAR’s Realtors Confidence Index to showcase how often an issue with an appraisal slowed or stalled the momentum of a house sale in May of this year compared to May of last year.What To Expect as Appraisal Gaps Grow | Keeping Current MattersIf an appraisal comes in below the contract price, the buyer’s lender won’t loan them more than the house’s appraised value. That means there’s going to be a gap between the amount of loan the buyer can secure and the contract price on the house.

In this situation, both the buyer and seller have a vested interest in making sure the sale moves forward with little to no delay. The seller will want to make sure the deal closes, and the buyer won’t want to risk losing the home. That’s why it’s common for sellers to ask the buyer to make up the difference themselves in today’s competitive market.

July 26, 2021

Homebuyers: Hang in There [INFOGRAPHIC]

Homebuyers: Hang in There [INFOGRAPHIC] | Keeping Current Matters

 

 

Posted in Buying a Home
July 23, 2021

Save Time and Effort by Selling with an Agent

Save Time and Effort by Selling with an Agent

 

Selling a house is a time-consuming process – especially if you decide to do it on your own, known as a For Sale By Owner (FSBO). From conducting market research to reviewing legal documents, handling negotiations, and more, it’s an involved and highly detailed process that requires a lot of expertise to navigate effectively. That’s one of the reasons why the percentage of people selling their own house has declined from 19% to 8% (See graph below):Save Time and Effort by Selling with an Agent | Keeping Current MattersTo help you understand just how much time and effort it takes to sell on your own, here’s a look at a few of the things you need to think about before putting that “For Sale” sign up in your yard.

1. Making a Good First Impression

While it may sound simple, there are a lot of proven best practices to consider when prepping a house for sale.

  • Do you need to take down your personal art?
  • What’s the right amount of landscaping to boost your curb appeal?
  • What wall colors are most appealing to buyers?

If you do this work on your own, you may invest capital and many hours into the wrong thingsYour time is money – don’t waste it. An agent can help steer you in the right direction based on current market conditions to save you time and effort. Since we’re in a hot sellers’ market, you don’t want to delay listing your house by focusing on things that won’t change your bottom line. These market conditions may not last, so lean on an agent to capitalize on today’s low inventory while you can.

2. Pricing It Right

Real estate professionals have mission-critical information on what sells and how to maximize your profit. They’re experienced when it comes to looking at recent comparable homes that have sold in your area and understanding what price is right for your neighborhood. They use that data to price your house appropriately, maximizing your return.

In a FSBO, you’re operating without this expertise, so you’ll have to do your own homework on how to set a price that’s appropriate for your area and the condition of your home. Even with your own research, you may not find the most up-to-date information and could risk setting a price that’s inaccurate or unrealistic. If you price your house too high, you could turn buyers away before they’re even in the front door, or run into problems when it comes time for the appraisal.

3. Maximizing Your Buyer Pool (and Profit)

Contrary to popular belief, FSBOs may actually net less profit than sellers who use an agent. One of the factors that can drive profit up is effective exposure. Simply put, real estate professionals can get your house in front of more buyers via their social media followers, agency resources, and proven sales strategies. The more buyers that view a home, the more likely a bidding war becomes. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the average house for sale today gets 5 offers. Using an agent to boost your exposure may help boost your sale price too.

4. Navigating Negotiations

When it comes to selling your house as a FSBO, you’ll have to handle all of the negotiations. Here are just a few of the people you’ll work with:

  • The buyer, who wants the best deal possible
  • The buyer’s agent, who will use their expertise to advocate for the buyer
  • The inspection company, which works for the buyer and will almost always find concerns with the house
  • The appraiser, who assesses the property’s value to protect the lender

As part of their training, agents are taught how to negotiate every aspect of the real estate transaction and how to mediate potential snags that may pop up. When appraisals come in low and in countless other situations, they know what levers to pull, how to address the buyer and seller emotions that come with it, and when to ask for second opinions. Navigating all of this on your own takes time –a lot of it.

5. Juggling Legal Documentation

Speaking of time, consider how much free time you have to review the fine print. Just in terms of documentation, more disclosures and regulations are now mandatory. That means the stack of legal documents you need to handle as the seller is growing. It can be hard to know and truly understand all the terms and requirements. Instead of going at it alone, use an agent as your shield and advisor to help you avoid potential legal missteps.

July 21, 2021

Demand for Vacation Homes Is Still Strong

Demand for Vacation Homes Is Still Strong

July 19, 2021

Homeowner Wealth Increases Through Growing Equity This Year

Homeowner Wealth Increases Through Growing Equity This Year

Building financial wealth and stability remains one of the top reasons Americans choose to own a home, and as a homeowner, your wealth often grows without you even realizing it. In a recent paper published by the Urban Institute, Home Ownership is Affordable Housing, author Mike Loftin illustrates how homeowners increase their equity and their wealth simply by making monthly mortgage payments:

“The principal portion that reduces the loan balance builds the homeowner’s equity. In doing so, the principal payments behave like an automatic savings account. The principal payment is not money going out; it is money staying in.”

But home equity – the difference between the value of your home and what you currently owe – isn’t just built through your monthly principal payments. Home price appreciation plays a vital role in growing your equity and, ultimately, your wealth.

As Freddie Mac explains:

“Homeownership has cemented its role as part of the American Dream, providing families with a place that is their own and an avenue for building wealth over time. This ‘wealth’ is built, in large part, through the creation of equity…Building equity through your monthly principal payments and appreciation is a critical part of homeownership that can help you create financial stability.”

Homeowners Continue To See Equity Increase

CoreLogic recently published their latest Homeowner Equity Insights Report, and it shows continued growth in equity amidst record home price appreciation. The report provides several key takeaways, all of which point to rising wealth for homeowners:

  1. The average equity gain of mortgaged homes during the past year was $33,400
  2. The current average equity of mortgaged homes is greater than $216,000
  3. There was a 6% increase in total homeowner equity over the past year
  4. Total U.S. homeowner equity has reached nearly $1.9 trillion

Here, you can see the equity gains by state:Homeowner Wealth Increases Through Growing Equity This Year | Keeping Current Matters

Equity Provides Homeowners with Flexibility

In addition to being a critical tool in building wealth, a homeowner’s equity also provides significant flexibility. When you sell your house, the accumulated equity comes back to you in the sale. Recent increases in home equity coupled with record-low mortgage rates mean it could be the perfect time for homeowners looking to make a move.

Mark Fleming, Chief Economist at First Americannotes:

“Existing homeowners today are sitting on record amounts of equity. As homeowners gain equity in their homes, the temptation grows to list their current home for sale and use the equity to purchase a larger or more attractive home.”

Increasing equity also helps families facing challenges brought on by the pandemic. Frank Martell, President and CEO of CoreLogic, explains in the recent Homeowner Equity Insights Report:

“Homeowner equity has more than doubled over the past decade and become a crucial buffer for many weathering the challenges of the pandemic. These gains have become an important financial tool and boosted consumer confidence in the U.S. housing market, especially for older homeowners and baby boomers who’ve experienced years of price appreciation.”

 

July 16, 2021

Pre-Approval Makes All the Difference When Buying a Home

Pre-Approval Makes All the Difference When Buying a Home

 

You may have been told that it’s important to get pre-approved at the beginning of the homebuying process, but what does that really mean, and why is it so important? Especially in today’s market, with rising home prices and high buyer competition, it’s crucial to have a clear understanding of your budget so you stand out to sellers as a serious homebuyer.

Being intentional and competitive are musts when buying a home right now. Pre-approval from a lender is the only way to know your true price range and how much money you can borrow for your loan. Just as important, being able to present a pre-approval letter shows sellers you’re a qualified buyer, something that can really help you land your dream home in an ultra-competitive market.

With limited housing inventory, there are many more buyers active in the market than there are sellers, and that’s creating some serious competition. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), homes are receiving an average of 5.1 offers for sellers to consider. As a result, bidding wars are more and more common. Pre-approval gives you an advantage if you get into a multiple-offer scenario, and these days, it’s likely you will. When a seller knows you’re qualified to buy the home, you’re in a better position to potentially win the bidding war.

Freddie Mac explains:

“By having pre-approval letter from your lender, you’re telling the seller that you’re a serious buyer, and you’ve been pre-approved for a mortgage by your lender for a specific dollar amount. In a true bidding war, your offer will likely get dropped if you don’t already have one.”

Every step you can take to gain an advantage as a buyer is crucial when today’s market is constantly changing. Interest rates are low, prices are going up, and lending institutions are regularly updating their standards. You’re going to need guidance to navigate these waters, so it’s important to have a team of professionals such as a loan officer and a trusted real estate agent making sure you take the right steps and can show your qualifications as a buyer when you find a home to purchase.

July 14, 2021

Don’t Wait To Sell Your House

Don’t Wait To Sell Your House

 

We’re in the ultimate sellers’ market right now. If you’re a homeowner thinking about selling, you have a huge advantage in today’s housing market. High buyer demand paired with very few houses for sale makes this the optimal time to sell for those who are ready to do so. Whatever the move you want to make looks like, here’s an overview of what’s creating the prime opportunity to sell this summer.

High Buyer Demand

Demand is strong, and buyers are actively searching for homes to purchase. In the Realtors Confidence Index Survey published monthly by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), buyer traffic is considered “very strong” in almost every state. Homebuyers aren’t just great in number right now – they’re also determined to find their dream home. NAR shows the average home for sale today receives five offers from hopeful buyers. These increasingly frequent bidding wars can drive up the price of your house, which is why high demand from competitive homebuyers is such a win for this summer’s sellers.

Low Inventory of Houses for Sale

Purchaser demand is so high, the market is running out of available homes for sale. Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at realtor.comexplains:

“For most sellers listing sooner rather than later could really pay off with less competition from other sellers and potentially a higher sales price… They’ll also avoid some big unknowns lurking later in the year, namely another possible surge in COVID cases, rising interest rates and the potential for more sellers to enter the market.”

NAR also reveals that unsold inventory sits at a 2.4-months’ supply at the current sales pace. This is far lower than the historical norm of a 6.0-months’ supply. Homes are essentially selling as fast as they’re hitting the market. Below is a graph of the existing inventory of single-family homes for sale:Don’t Wait To Sell Your House | Keeping Current MattersAt the same time, homebuilders are increasing construction this year, but they can’t keep up with the growing demand. While reporting on the inventory of newly constructed homes, the U.S. Census Bureau notes:

“The seasonally‐adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of April was 316,000. This represents a supply of 4.4 months at the current sales rate.”

What Does This Mean for You? 

If you’re thinking of putting your house on the market, don’t wait. A seller will always negotiate the best deal when demand is high and supply is low. That’s exactly what’s happening in the real estate market today.

July 12, 2021

5 Things Homebuyers Need To Know When Making an Offer

5 Things Homebuyers Need To Know When Making an Offer

 

When it comes to buying a house, you’re looking for the perfect place to call home. The problem is, in today’s market there just aren’t that many homes available to purchase. With inventory hovering near record lows and sky-high buyer demand, a multi-offer scenario is the new normal. Here are five things to keep in mind when you’re ready to make an offer.

1. Know Your Numbers

Having a complete understanding of your budget and how much house you can afford is essential. That’s why you should connect with a lender to get pre-approved for a loan early in the homebuying process. Taking this step shows sellers you’re a serious, qualified buyer and can give you a competitive edge in a bidding war.

2. Brace for a Fast Pace

Today’s market is dynamic and fast-paced. According to the Realtors Confidence Index from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the average home is on the market for just 17 days – that means from start to finish, a house for sale in today’s climate is active for roughly 2.5 weeks. A skilled agent will do everything they can to help you stay on top of every possible opportunity. And, as soon as you find the right home for your needs, that agent will help you draft and submit your best offer as quickly as possible.

3. Lean on a Real Estate Professional

While homebuying may seem like a whirlwind process to you, local real estate agents do this every day, and we know what works. That expertise can be used to give you a significant leg up on your competition. An agent can help you consider what levers you can pull that might be enticing to a seller, like:

  • Offering flexible rent-back options to give the seller more time to move out
  • Your ability to do a quick close or make an offer that’s not contingent on the sale of your current home

It may seem simple, but catering to what a seller may need can help your offer stand out.

4. Make a Strong, but Fair Offer

Let’s face it – we all love a good deal. In the past, offering at or near the asking price was enough to make your offer appealing to sellers. In today’s market, that’s often not the case. According to Lawrence YunChief Economist at NAR:

“For every listing there are 5.1 offers. Half of the homes are being sold above list price.”

In such a competitive market, emotions and prices can run high. Use an agent as your trusted advisor to make a strong, but fair offer based on market value, recent sales, and demand.

5. Be a Flexible Negotiator

If you followed tip #3, you drafted the offer with the seller’s needs in mind. That said, the seller may still counter with their own changes. Be prepared to amend your offer to include flexible move-in dates, a higher price, or minimal contingencies (conditions you set that the seller must meet for the purchase to be finalized). Just remember, there are certain contingencies you don’t want to forego. Freddie Mac explains:

Resist the temptation to waive the inspection contingency, especially in a hot market or if the home is being sold ‘as-is’, which means the seller won’t pay for repairs. Without an inspection contingency, you could be stuck with a contract on a house you can’t afford to fix.”

July 9, 2021

Owning a Home Has Distinct Financial Benefits Over Renting [INFOGRAPHIC]

Owning a Home Has Distinct Financial Benefits Over Renting [INFOGRAPHIC] | Keeping Current Matters

 

 

Some Highlights

  • When you rent, you build your landlord’s wealth, your monthly payment depends on ever-rising rents, and you don’t benefit from home price appreciation.
  • On the other hand, when you own your home, you build your own wealth, your monthly payment is locked in, and you benefit directly from home price appreciation.
  • If you’re feeling the challenges of a competitive market, remember that homeownership is a long-term game. Persevering today will lead to financial rewards in the future.
Posted in Real Estate News