Date Archives: February 2022

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buying a home | 94 Posts
mortgage | 3 Posts
real estate news | 44 Posts
selling a home | 28 Posts
Uncategorized | 8 Posts
February
27

If you're planning to sell this year, you're probably thinking about what you'll need to do to get your house ready to appeal to the most buyers. It's crucial to work with a trusted real estate professional who knows your local market to get your home ready to sell. But there are a few things you should consider when deciding what to renovate and update before listing this season. Here are three things to keep top of mind as you're making your list of projects to tackle this year.

1. The Number of Homes for Sale Is Very Low

Housing Inventory sits far below what is normally considered a balanced market. In fact, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the latest data indicates inventory is hitting an all-time low. Because there's such a limited supply of homes available for sale, you're in a unique position when you sell your house to benefit from multiple offers and a quick process.

But you want to do so while buyers are still scooping homes up as fast as they're being listed. Spending time and money on renovations before you sell could mean you'll miss your key window of opportunity. Of course, certain repairs may be important or even necessary. The best way to determine where to spend your time – and your money – is to work with a real estate advisor to confirm which improvements are truly needed and which ones aren't likely to be deal-breakers for buyers.

2. Buyers May Be Willing To Take on Projects When They Purchase Your House

Today, many buyers are more willing to take on home improvement projects themselves to get the house they're after, even if it means putting in a little extra work. A recent survey from Freddie Mac finds that:

". . . nearly two-in-five potential homebuyers would consider purchasing a home requiring renovations."

If more buyers are willing to tackle repairs on their own, it may be wise to let the future homeowners remodel the bathroom or the kitchen to make design decisions that are best for their specific taste and lifestyle. Depending on the structural condition of your house, your efforts may be better spent working on small cosmetic updates, like refreshing some paint and power washing the exterior to make sure the home stands out. Instead of over-investing in upgrades, the buyer may change anyway, work with a real estate professional to determine the key projects to tackle that will give you the greatest return on your investment.

3. Your Agent Will Help You Spotlight the Upgrades You've Made

Over the past year, many people made a significant number of updates to their homes. The most recent State of Home Spending report finds:

"Home improvement spending rose 25% year-over-year to $10,341. Homeowners who invested in home improvement did an average of 3.7 projects, up from 2.7 in 2020, . . ."

With more homeowners taking on more projects in the past 12 months, there's a good chance you've already made updates to your home that could appeal to buyers. If that's the case, your real estate advisor will find ways to highlight those upgrades in your listing.

The same is true for any projects you invest in moving forward. No matter what, before you renovate, contact a local real estate professional for expert advice on what work needs to be done and how to make it as appealing as possible to future buyers. Every home is different, so a conversation with your agent is mission-critical to make sure you make the right moves when selling this season.

Bottom Line

In today's sellers' market, it's important to spend your time and money wisely when you're getting ready to move. Work with a real estate advisor to find out where to target your efforts before you list. 

February
8

What's Your Home Buying Power?

If you're in the market for a new home or investment property, one of the first questions you'll probably ask is, "What can we afford?" Many buyers become so caught up in how much they can afford that they don't realize their total buying power—that is, the total amount of purchasing potential they actually have.

 Buying Power Defined

Your buying power is comprised of the total amount of money you have available each month for a mortgage payment. This means the money you have each month after fixed bills and expenses. Any money you've saved for a down payment, the proceeds from the sale of your current home, if applicable, and the amount of money you're qualified to borrow all impact your buying power as well. When you take all of this into account, you may find you are able to purchase a larger home or a home in a more desirable neighborhood, or you might realize you should be looking for homes in a lower price range.

 What About Housing Affordability?

Housing affordability is a metric used by real estate experts to assess whether or not the average family earning an average wage could qualify for a mortgage on the average home.1 Although this figure is essential to creating a comprehensive overview of the real estate market, it's not a factor you should consider in your home search. What may be considered affordable to you based on your income and other factors may be different than what's affordable to the average buyer.

Why Buying Power Matters

A common misunderstanding is that a home's list price determines whether or not you can purchase it. Although it's important to look at the price tag, it's essential to consider what your monthly payment will be if you own the home. After all, the purchase price doesn't include the housing-related expenses, such as annual property taxes, homeowner insurance, associated monthly fees, and any maintenance or repairs. Figuring out the payment will prevent you from overestimating or underestimating your buying power. After all, you'll live with your monthly payment, not the sales price.

Once you have clarity on your buying power, you'll be able to buy the home you want, instead of settling for a home because you feel it's the only one you can afford. It will also prevent you from becoming "house poor," a common term for someone who's put all their money toward the down payment, leaving them nothing left over for fees outside of their monthly house payment. Both scenarios can negatively impact the lifestyle you want to live. Understanding your buying power can help you get the home you want without sacrificing the lifestyle you desire.

If you haven't sold your current home yet, a Comparative Market Assessment (CMA) will give you a general idea of how much you may get for your home based on what other homes have sold for in your area. Contact our team for a FREE CMA!

Calculating Your Buying Power

You might be wondering, "How do I know what my buying power is?" Buying power is calculated by adding the money you've saved for a down payment and/or the money you made from selling your home (minus fees and mortgage payoff) to all of your sources of income and investments that could be used to make your monthly payment. Make sure to include your monthly pay, commissions or tips, dividends from investments, payments from rental properties or other monthly income you receive as well as the loan amount you're willing to finance and qualify for.

Most lenders advised buyers to spend no more than 35 to 45 of their pretax income on housing, meaning all your income and sources of revenue prior to paying taxes. Make sure you factor in not only your mortgage payment but also property tax and home insurance to the cost of housing.2 However, other financial experts advise spending no more than a very conservative 25 percent of your after-tax income on your housing expenses.2  Whether you plan to spend the average, play it conservative or split the difference is up to you.

Traditionally, mortgage lenders have targeted the ideal housing expense amount to be a ratio of 28 percent or less.3

However, these figures bring up an important point: you don't have to spend all of your savings and available monthly income on a mortgage payment. It's important to set money aside for regular home maintenance, unexpected repairs, and monthly fees, such as a condominium or homeowners association fee. While the above ratios are commonly accepted, a lender will look at your total financial picture when they decide how much they're willing to lend. It may be tempting to take out a large loan in order to purchase the home of your dreams, but keep in mind the less money you have to borrow, the stronger your buying power may be.

4 Things That Impact Buying Power

  1. Credit score. A great score can help you lock into a lower interest rate.
  2. Debt-to-income ratio. The lower the ratio, the better risk you may be to lenders as long as you have an established credit history.
  3. Assets, including the documentation of where the money for the purchase is coming from and the mix of your investments.
  4. Down payment. The more you're able to put down, the less you will have to borrow. With a down payment of 20 percent or more, you won't have to purchase private mortgage insurance (PMI) and you may also be able to negotiate a lower interest rate.

How to Save for a Down Payment

If you're thinking of buying a home one day, one of the first steps to take is to start saving for a down payment. Here are some tips to make saving easier.

First-time buyers:

  1. Set a savings goal. One way to figure out how much to save is to use the average sales price for homes that are similar to what you want and figure out your target down payment percentage. For example, if homes are selling for $200,000 in your area and you want to put 20 percent down, you'll have to save $40,000. Set a goal to save that amount within a specific time frame; just keep in mind the longer you save, the more the average selling price will change. Although the majority of buyers saved for six months or less, 29 percent of all buyers (and 31 percent of first-time buyers) saved for more than two years for a down payment.4
  1. Cut back on expenses. Review your monthly expenses and look for ways to save. Twenty-nine percent of buyers cut spending on non-essentials items and 22 percent cut spending on entertainment while they were saving for a home.4 Think about items you can live without or cut back on temporarily while you're saving. 
  1. Look for ways to boost your income. Get a side job or sell items online or at a garage sale to increase your income in a short amount of time. Be sure to save any windfalls you get, including your annual income tax refund or work bonuses.
  1. Check out home-buying programs. Your state, county or local government may offer special programs, such as grants, for first-time buyers to use.
  2. Ask your family. Thirteen percent of all buyers, and 24 percent of first-time buyers, were given money from family or friends to use toward the down payment of their home.4

Repeat buyers:

More than 52 percent of repeat buyers used the proceeds from the sale of their primary residence toward the down payment on their next home.4 Similarly, 76 percent tapped into their savings accounts.4 If you're thinking of buying another home, here are more ways to save more money, in addition to the tips listed above:

  1. Rent a room. If you have an income flat (or mother-in-law unit) attached to your home, rent it out and channel the income into a high-interest savings account.
  1. Make your money work for you. If you don't plan to buy for at least five years, invest it and let the compound interest work for you. Discuss this option with your financial planner or broker to see if this is ideal for you and your goals.
  1. Tap into your 401(k). If you have a 401(k) plan, you may be allowed to borrow a portion of it, the lessor of up to $50,000 or half of its value, for your down payment. Remember, it's a loan so you'll have to pay it back. If you leave or lose your job before you've repaid the loan, you'll have between 60 to 90 days to repay the balance or face stiff taxes and penalties.

If you want to buy an investment property

Whether you're buying a second home or a rental property, here are a couple of tips to save for a down payment.

  1. Tap into your equity. If you've paid off or paid down your mortgage on your primary home, you may be able to tap into your equity to purchase another property. Contact your lender to learn more about a HELOC or home equity loan.

  1. Get a partner. Find a friend or relative who's willing to purchase property with you. Typically, you'll split the costs and profits equally. Just make sure to work with an attorney to create a partnership agreement to fit your situation.

Work Out Your Buying Potential

What's your buying potential? Fill out this worksheet to get an estimate.

 

Housing Expense Ratio:

1. Monthly income before taxes

$

2. Multiply line 1 by 0.28

X 0.28

3. Monthly mortgage payment (PITI) should not exceed this amount

= $

4. Monthly income before taxes

$

5. Multiply line 4 by 0.36

X 0.36

6. Total monthly payments on all debts (including mortgage) should not exceed this amount

= $

7.  Subtract the total monthly payments on all outstanding debts (e.g., car loans, credit cards, student loans, etc.)

- $

8. The monthly mortgage payment should not exceed this amount

$

9. Look at line 3 and line 8. The lower figure is an estimate of the maximum mortgage payment in consideration of your income and debts.

$

10. Multiply line 9 by 0.80

X 0.80

11. This equals portion of your mortgage payment that is the principal and interest only

$

12. Use the table below to see the size of the loan you may be able to obtain with this monthly mortgage payment.

 

Source: Iowa State University Extension, What is your house-buying power?

 

Monthly Payment on 30-Year Fixed Rate Mortgage

Loan amount

3%

3.5%

4%

4.5%

5%

5.5%

6%

$50,000

211

225

239

253

268

284

300

$75,000

316

337

358

380

402

426

450

$100,000

421

449

477

506

536

568

600

$150,000

632

674

716

759

804

852

900

$200,000

842

898

954

1012

1072

1136

1200

$250,000

1052

1123

1193

1265

1340

1420

1500

$300,000

1263

1347

1431

1518

1608

1704

1800

 

Didn't see your desired loan amount? Use the table below to estimate your monthly payment (principal and interest) per $1,000 of your loan. To figure out an estimated loan payment, multiply the factor by the number of thousands in the amount of your mortgage.

For example, if you intend to borrow $400,000, with a loan term of 30 years at 4% interest, multiply 4.77x 400 = $1908 per month.

Interest Rate

15-Year Term

30-Year Term

 

Monthly Payment

Monthly Payment

3%

6.90

4.21

3.5%

7.14

4.49

4%

7.39

4.77

4.5%

7.64

5.06

5%

7.90

5.36

5.5%

8.18

5.68

6%

8.44

6.00

Source: HSH.com 

 

Don't forget to factor in property taxes and insurance. These are often added to your principal and interest of your mortgage payment—the money used to pay down the balance of your loan and the charge for borrowing the money. Since these numbers vary, contact your county assessor's office for the current property tax rate and your insurer for a home insurance quote. Once you have these figures, divide each by 12 to estimate how much they'll add to the above payment amounts.

Do you want a clearer picture of your buying power? Would you like to see what kind of homes you can get with your buying power? Give us a call!

 

Sources: 1. National Association of REALTORS  2. Moneyunder30.com 3. Credit.com  4. National Association of REALTORS, 2016 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers 5. Iowa State University Extension  6. HSH.com 

 

 

 

 

 

February
4

 

There's a lot to consider when selling your home, from the market and appraisals to where you'll go next. Don't forget, however, that design is also a key factor. It's often one of the first things buyers notice when they walk into a home, and it's also a detail that you, as a seller, can easily control.

According to Realtor.com's 2022 housing market forecast, home for-sale inventory will increase from last year, as will the projected number of overall sales.1 This means, if you're looking to sell in the near future, now is the time to consider how you can stand out.

Updating your home design is one way to do that. Changes like new security features or upgraded siding can add value to your home now and be highlighted when you market it for sale later. To get the most out of your updates, focus on these popular home design features that will wow buyers in 2022.

Keep in mind, not all of these will work well in every house. If you plan to buy, list, or renovate a property, give us a call. We can help you realize your vision and maximize the impact of your investment.

Eco-Friendly Fixtures

Millennials account for the largest share of current homebuyers, according to the National Association of Realtors.2 Sustainable living tops the list of priorities for this generation. A recent Deloitte survey found that nearly one-third of millennials initiate or deepen their consumer investment in products or services that help the environment—this also includes the houses they choose to live in.3

Here are a few eco-friendly design features that will be attractive to these millennial buyers in 2022. Bonus, they can net a significant return on investment (ROI) for you, as a seller, too.

  • Energy-Efficient Windows: Heat gain or loss from low-performance windows drives 25–30 percent of home heating and cooling costs, according to gov.4 Therefore, energy-efficient windows can help homeowners save money.
  • Low-Flow Water Fixtures: According to the EPA, replacing your shower head with one that's labeled with WaterSense can save four gallons of water with each shower.5 Doing the same with your faucet can save 700 gallons per year. This leads to cost savings and environmental support.
  • Native Landscaping: According to the American Society of Landscape Architects, 58 percent of members report increased client demand for native trees and plants as a means to combat biodiversity loss from climate change..6 Enhance the eco-friendly appeal of your home with some native plants in the front yard.

Wellness Retreat Nooks

The pandemic has had a significant impact on mental health. For example, in an effort to prioritize mental health, many people are relocating to quieter, more peaceful homes, with 22 percent of city dwellers planning a move to less congested residential areas, according to the Home Improvement Research Institute's (HIRI) 2021 Insights Summit.7

However, no matter where you live, you can still intrigue buyers by jumping on this trend. At-home wellness amenities, which were once viewed as luxuries, are now on many homeowners' must-have lists. Indoor spaces that function as a retreat for wellness and self-care have become extremely popular, according to HIRI.

Improve your quality of life in your home with reading nooks, spa-inspired bathrooms, and exercise or meditation spaces. Even if your house doesn't have the square footage to section off an entire room for relaxation, making simple tweaks to natural light, air purifiers, and indoor plants can help you feel better in your home now while enabling future buyers to see the opportunity for their own space.

Calming Paint Colors

Paint colors that produce a calming atmosphere will also be a key selling point in 2022. Soft earth tones and natural hues will prevail this year, including various shades of blue, green,  brown, and beige. Recent research suggests steering clear of trendy paint colors in favor of a more classic palette to bring the feel of nature indoors in a subtle and soothing way.8 

In fact, the same research found that buyers are often willing to pay an extra $4,698 for a house with a light blue bathroom or an extra $1,491 for a house with a dark blue bedroom. Another crowd-pleasing hue to refresh the walls with is BEHR's 2022 paint color of the year, known as Breezeway.9

This shade of green with silver undertones was created to mimic sea glass. As the BEHR website describes it, Breezeway "evokes feelings of coolness and peace, while representing a desire to move forward and discover newfound passions." 

Home Safety Features

Buyers want peace of mind more now than ever before. According to a 2021 survey from the American Institute of Architects, members report seeing an increase in the popularity of these home safety features10

  • Emergency backup power generation
  • Accommodations for multiple generations
  • Wider accessible doorways and hallways
  • Home security monitoring equipment
  • Interior ramps and home elevator features

Consider how you can build home safety features like these into the design of your home to enhance your quality of life now and attract more buyers later. For example, you could install a backup generator in the garage and sell it with the house or update your major doorways to be wider.

Before making an investment in expensive home safety upgrades, contact us. We can help you determine what will deliver the greatest ROI for your location and goals.

Designated Work Spaces 

It may come as no surprise that after the pandemic, 63 percent of homebuyers want their next house to feature room for a designated office, according to the National Association of Home Builders.11 In addition, 70 percent of these buyers want the office to be at least 100 square feet (or a 10x10 room).    

If you can, consider turning a bedroom or a den into a work-from-home office. When designing the space, make it both functional and aesthetically pleasing. Position a desk near the window for natural light, install a bookshelf unit, arrange a few succulents on the work surface, and hang a few framed posters or a cork bulletin board on the wall. You want the space to foster productivity as well as be a place in your home you enjoy spending time.

When you get ready to sell, we can help you highlight your designated work space. Given the high demand for this design feature, it can help you interest more buyers and attract more competitive offers—if marketed creatively.

Luxury Kitchen Retouches

The kitchen has always been a main focal point of interior design, and that's no different in 2022. Families will always need this space to come together in their own homes.

This year's buyers want a kitchen with new upgrades and retouches, but you don't have to renovate the entire kitchen to make an impact. If you're not sure where to start, here are a few tips on how to create a kitchen that buyers will love without spending too much money on renovations:

  • Repaint the kitchen, keeping the calm and nature-inspired colors in mind that are most popular right now. Taking a kitchen from dark to light by painting cabinets and walls can make all the difference.
  • Update the hardware. These kitchen "accessories" stand out and add personality to an otherwise standard kitchen.
  • Update light fixtures to bring in more light while also adding a fresh look and feel to the space.

Unique Accent Walls

In a recent interview with the National Association of Realtors, Brian Santos, the director of education for Fresh Coat Painters, explains that bold, unique accent walls are trendy right now.12 An accent wall gives a home character while maintaining the calming feel of natural- and neutral-colored walls.

Santos also explains that this is part of a design aesthetic that draws inspiration from the Roaring Twenties, and it's likely to remain a sought-after home feature in 2022. Here are some bold colors to consider for your home's accent walls:

  • Solid black
  • Jewel or metallic tones
  • Textured wallpaper
  • Painted ceilings
  • Built-in shelves

If you're planning to sell in the next year, talk to us before adding an accent wall. Depending on your target buyer, it may be a design feature that actually hurts your home's value. We can run a free Comparative Market Analysis on your home to help you understand what would resell best in your neighborhood.

Exterior Siding Updates

A new exterior siding refresh is one of the most affordable renovation projects you can do to help increase a home's resale value. The average cost is just $12 per square foot, but higher-end material options can push costs closer to  $50 per square foot.13 What's more, there are many siding materials available, from fiber-cement, brick, and wood to vinyl, metal, and stone. 

While all these options can infuse the exterior with character and add curb appeal, fiber-cement and vinyl deliver the highest ROI. In fact, according to a 2021 Cost vs. Value Report, a vinyl siding replacement can boost resale value by $11,315 (68.3 percent cost recoup), and a fiber-cement siding replacement can boost resale value by $13,618 (69.4 percent cost recoup).14

Give your home this simple, affordable, and attractive facelift before putting it on the market. If you're not sure how to get started yourself, our team can connect you with a trusted vendor to guide you through the process.

Keep These Home Design Features on Your Radar in 2022

These design features can infuse personality into your home while helping to close the deal if you plan to sell in 2022. The average buyer knows just what they're looking for in a space they plan to call home, so with some investment and foresight, you can give your house an edge over the competition—and boost resale value in the process.

However, you don't need to make all these changes to attract more buyers. We can help you determine which design features you should add to your home by sharing insights and tips on how to maximize the return on your investment. We can also run a Comparative Market Analysis on your home to find out how it compares to others in the area, which will help us decide what changes need to be made. Contact us to schedule a free consultation!

Sources:

  1. Realtor -
    https://www.realtor.com/research/2022-national-housing-forecast/
  2. National Association of Realtors -
    https://www.nar.realtor/research-and-statistics/research-reports/home-buyer-and-seller-generational-trends
  3. Deloitte -
    https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/global/Documents/2021-deloitte-global-millennial-survey-report.pdf
  4. gov -
    https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/update-or-replace-windows
  5. gov -
    https://www.epa.gov/watersense/about-watersense
  6. American Society of Landscape Architects -
    https://www.asla.org/NewsReleaseDetails.aspx?id=60427
  7. Home Improvement Research Institute -
    https://www.hiri.org/blog/4-major-home-wellness-trends-from-hiri-summit-speaker-dr-jie-zhao
  8. Zillow -
    http://zillow.mediaroom.com/2021-07-15-Homes-With-Light-Blue-Bathrooms,-Dark-Blue-Bedrooms-Could-Sell-for-Up-to-4,698-More-Than-Expected
  9. Behr -
    https://www.behr.com/colorfullybehr/behr-announces-2022-color-of-the-year-and-trends-palette/
  10. American Institute of Architects -
    http://info.aia.org/AIArchitect/2021/0910/aia-interactive/index.html#
  11. National Association of Home Builders -
    ​​https://www.nahb.org/-/media/NAHB/news-and-economics/docs/housing-economics-plus/special-studies/2021/special-study-what-home-buyers-really-want-march-2021.pdf?_ga=2.188050984.1824982414.1639512139-1247360189.1639512139
  12. National Association of Realtors -
    https://www.nar.realtor/blogs/styled-staged-sold/hot-home-trend-the-accent-wall-is-back
  13. Forbes -
    https://www.forbes.com/advisor/home-improvement/how-much-does-siding-cost-to-install/

Remodeling Magazine -
https://www.remodeling.hw.net/cost-vs-value/2021/

February
1

You may have heard that it's important to get pre-approved for a mortgage 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 pre-approval letter prior to making an offer. Here's why.

Being intentional and competitive are musts when buying a home this year. 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 today are receiving an average of 3.8 offers for sellers to consider. As a result, bidding wars are still 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 a 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 rising, 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 advisor making sure you take the right steps and can show your qualifications as a buyer when you find a home to purchase.

In a competitive market with low inventory, a pre-approval letter is a game-changing piece of the homebuying process. Not only does being pre-approved bring clarity to your homebuying budget, but it shows sellers how serious you are about purchasing a home.

Resources: Freddi Mac, NAR, Keeping Current Matters