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December
27


 

From summer vacations to winter holidays, it seems each season offers the perfect excuse to put off our to-do list. But be careful, homeowners: neglecting your home's maintenance could put your personal safety—and one of your largest financial investments—at serious risk.

In no time at all, small problems can lead to extensive and expensive repairs. And even if you avoid a catastrophe, those minor issues can still have a big impact. Properties that are not well maintained can lose 10 percent (or more) of their appraised value.1The good news is, by dedicating a few hours each season to properly maintaining your home, you can ensure a safe living environment for you and your family ... and actually increase the value of your home by one percent annually!1 You just need to know where and how to spend your time.

Use the following checklist as a guide to maintaining your home and lawn throughout the year. It's applicable for all climates, so please share it with friends and family members who you think could benefit, no matter where their home is located.

Winter

While it can be tempting to ignore home maintenance issues in the winter, snow and freezing temperatures can do major damage if left untreated. Follow these steps to ensure your house survives the winter months. 

Inside

  • Maintain Heating System
    Check and change filters on your heating system, per the manufacturer's instructions. If you have a boiler, monitor the water level.
  • Tune Up Generator
    If you own a portable generator, follow the manufacturer's instructions for proper maintenance. Make sure it's working before you need it, and stock up on supplies like fuel, oil and filters.
  • Prevent Frozen Pipes
    Make sure pipes are well insulated, and keep your heat set to a minimum of 55 degrees when you're away. If pipes are prone to freezing, leave faucets dripping slightly overnight or when away from home. You may also want to open cabinet doors beneath sinks to let in heat.

Outside

  • Drain and Shut Off Outdoor Faucets
    Before the first freeze, drain and shut off outdoor faucets. Place an insulated cover over exposed faucets, and store hoses for the winter.
  • Remove Window Screens
    Removing screens from your windows allows more light in to brighten and warm your home during the dark, cold winter months. Snow can also get trapped between screens and windows, causing damage to window frames and sills.
  • Service Snowblower
    Don't wait until the first snowstorm of the season to make sure your snowblower is in good working order. Check the manufacturer's instructions for maintenance or have it serviced by a professional.
  • Stock Up on Ice Melt
    Keep plenty of ice melt, or rock salt, on hand in preparation for winter weather. Look for brands that will keep kids and pets safe without doing damage to your walkway or yard.
  • Watch Out for Ice Dams
    Ice dams are thick ridges of solid ice that can build up along the eaves of your house. They can do major damage to gutters, shingles and siding. Heated cables installed prior to the first winter storm can help.14
  • Check for Snow Buildup on Trees
    Snow can cause tree limbs to break, which can be especially dangerous if they are near your home. Use a broom to periodically remove excess snow.15

 Spring

After a long, cold winter, many of us look forward to a fresh start in the spring. Wash away the winter grime, open the windows, and prepare your home for warmer weather and backyard barbecues.

Inside

  • Conduct Annual Spring Cleaning
    Be sure to tackle those areas that may have gone neglected—such as your blinds, baseboards and fan blades—as well as appliances, including your refrigerator, dishwasher, oven and range hood. Clear out clutter and clothes you no longer wear, and toss old and expired food and medications.
  • Shut Down Heating System
    Depending on the type of heating system you have, you may need to shut your system down when not in use. Check the manufacturer's instructions for proper procedures.
  • Tune Up A/C
    If your home has central air conditioning, schedule an annual tune-up with your HVAC technician. If you have a portable or window unit, be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions for proper maintenance.2
  • Check Plumbing
    It's a good idea to periodically check your plumbing to spot any leaks or maintenance issues. Look for evidence of leaks—such as water stains on the ceiling—and check for dripping faucets or running toilets that need to be addressed. Inspect your hot water heater for sediment build up. Check your sump pump (if you have one) to ensure it's working properly.3
  • Inspect Smoke Alarm and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
    Check that your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are functioning properly. Batteries should be replaced every six months, so change them now and again in the fall. Follow the manufacturer's instructions to test your individual devices. And even properly functioning devices should be replaced at least every 10 years, or per the manufacturer's recommendation.4

Outside

  • Inspect Perimeter of Home
    Walk around your house and look for any signs of damage or wear and tear that should be addressed. Are there cracks in the foundation? Peeling paint? Loose or missing roof shingles? Make a plan to make needed repairs yourself or hire a contractor.
  • Clean Home's Exterior
    Wash windows and clean and replace screens if they were removed during the winter months. For the home's facade, it's generally advisable to use the gentlest method that is effective. A simple garden hose will work in most cases.5
  • Clean Gutters and Downspouts
    Gutters and downspouts should be cleaned at least twice a year. Neglected gutters can cause water damage to a home, so make sure yours are clean and free of debris. If your gutters have screens, you may be able to decrease the frequency of cleanings, but they should still be checked periodically.6
  • Rake Leaves
    Gently rake your lawn to remove leaves and debris. Too many leaves can cause an excessive layer of thatch, which can damage the roots of your lawn. They can also harbor disease-causing organisms and insects.7 However, take care because overly vigorous raking can damage new grass shoots.

  • Seed or Sod Lawn
    If you have bare spots, spring is a good time to seed or lay new sod so you can enjoy a beautiful lawn throughout the remainder of the year. The peak summer heat can be too harsh for a new lawn. If you miss this window, early fall is another good time to plant.8
     
  • Apply a Pre-Emergent Herbicide
    While a healthy lawn is the best deterrent for weeds, some homeowners choose to use a pre-emergent herbicide in the spring to minimize weeds. When applied at the right time, it can be effective in preventing weeds from germinating. However, a pre-emergent herbicide will also prevent grass seeds from germinating, so only use it if you don't plan to seed or sod in the spring.
  • Plant Flowers
    After a long winter, planting annuals and spring perennials is a great way to brighten up your garden. It's also a good time to prune existing flowers and shrubs and remove and compost any dead plants.

  • Mulch Beds
    A layer of fresh mulch helps to suppress weeds, retain moisture and moderate soil temperature. However, be sure to strip away old mulch at least every three years to prevent excessive buildup.9

  • Fertilize Lawn
    Depending on your grass type, an application of fertilizer in the spring may help promote new leaf and root growth, keep your lawn healthy, and reduce weeds.10
  • Tune Up Lawn Mower
    Send your lawn mower out for a professional tune-up and to have the blades sharpened before the mowing season starts.11

  • Inspect Sprinkler System
    If you have a sprinkler system, check that it's working properly and make repairs as needed.
  • Check the Deck
    If you have a deck or patio, inspect it for signs of damage or deterioration that may have occurred over the winter. Then clean it thoroughly and apply a fresh coat of stain if needed.
  • Prepare Pool
    If you own a pool, warmer weather signals the start of pool season. Be sure to follow best practices for your particular pool to ensure proper maintenance and safety.

Summer

Summer is generally the time to relax and enjoy your home, but a little time devoted to maintenance will help ensure it looks great and runs efficiently throughout the season.

Inside

  • Adjust Ceiling Fans
    Make sure they are set to run counter-clockwise in the summer to push air down and create a cooling breeze. Utilizing fans instead of your air conditioner, when possible, will help minimize your utility bills.  
  • Clean A/C Filters
    Be sure to clean or replace your filters monthly, particularly if you're running your air conditioner often. 
  • Clear Dryer Vent
    Help cut down on summer utility bills by cleaning your laundry dryer vent at least once a year. Not only will it help cut down on drying times, a neglected dryer poses a serious fire hazard.
  • Check Weather Stripping
    If you're running your air conditioner in the summer, you'll want to keep the cold air inside and hot air outside. Check weather stripping around doors and windows to ensure a good seal.

Outside

  • Mow Lawn Regularly
    Your lawn will probably need regular mowing in the summer. Adjust your mower height to the highest setting, as taller grass helps shade the soil to prevent drought and weeds.
  • Water Early in the Morning
    Ensure your lawn and garden get plenty of water during the hot summer months. Experts generally recommend watering in the early morning to minimize evaporation, but be mindful of any watering restrictions in your area, which may limit the time and/or days you are allowed to water.
  • Weed Weekly
    To prevent weeds from taking over your garden and ruining your home's valuable curb appeal, make a habit of pulling weeds at least once per week.
  • Exterminate Pests
    Remove any standing water and piles of leaves and debris. Inspect your lawn and perimeter of your home for signs of an invasion. If necessary, call a professional exterminator for assistance.

Fall

Fall ushers in another busy season of home maintenance as you prepare your home for the winter weather ahead.

Inside

  • Have Heater Serviced
    To ensure safety and efficiency, it's a good idea to have your heating system serviced and inspected before you run it for the first time.
  • Shut Down A/C for the Winter
    If you have central air conditioning, you can have it serviced at the same time as your furnace. If you have a portable or window unit, ensure it's properly sealed or remove it and store it for the winter.
     
  • Inspect Chimney
    Fire safety experts recommend that you have your chimney inspected annually and cleaned periodically. Complete this task before you start using your fireplace or furnace.
  • Seal Windows and Doors
    Check windows and doors for drafts and caulk or add weatherstripping where necessary.
  • Check Smoke Alarm and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
    If you checked your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in the spring, they are due for another inspection. Batteries should be replaced every six months, so it's time to replace them again. Follow the manufacturer's instructions to test your individual devices. And even properly functioning devices should be replaced at least every 10 years, or per the manufacturer's recommendation.3

Outside

  • Plant Fall Flowers, Grass and Shrubs
    Fall is a great time to plant perennials, trees, shrubs, cool-season vegetables and bulbs that will bloom in the spring.12 It's also a good time to reseed or sod your lawn.
  • Rake or Mow Leaves
    Once the leaves start falling, it's time to pull out your rake. A thick layer of leaves left on your grass can lead to an unhealthy lawn. Or, rather than raking, use a mulching mower to create a natural fertilizer for your lawn.
  • Apply Fall Fertilizer
    If you choose not to use a mulching mower, a fall fertilizer is usually recommended. For best results, aerate your lawn before applying the fertilizer.13
  • Inspect Gutters and Roof
    Inspect your gutters and downspouts and make needed repairs. Check the roof for any broken or loose tiles. Remove fallen leaves and debris.
  • Shut Down Sprinkler System
    If you have a sprinkler system, drain any remaining water and shut it down to prevent damage from freezing temperatures over the winter.
  • Close Pool
    If you have a pool, it's time to clean and close it up before the winter.

    While this checklist should not be considered a complete list of your home's maintenance needs, it can serve as a general seasonal guide. Systems, structures and fixtures will need to be repaired and replaced from time-to-time, as well. The good news is, the investment you make in maintaining your home now will pay off dividends over time.

    Keep a record of all your maintenance, repairs and upgrades for future reference, along with receipts. Not only will it help jog your memory, it can make a big impact on buyers when it comes time to sell your home … and potentially result in a higher selling price.

    Are you looking for help with home maintenance or repairs? We have an extensive network of trusted contractors and service providers and are happy to provide referrals! Call or email us, and we can connect you with one of our preferred vendors.

    Sources:

    1. HouseLogic.com –
      https://www.houselogic.com/organize-maintain/home-maintenance-tips/value-home-maintenance/
    2. Home Advisor –
      https://www.homeadvisor.com/r/servicing-your-air-conditioner/
    3. Keyes & Sons Plumbing and Heating –
      http://keyes-plumbing.com/things-to-check-in-spring/
    4. Allstate Insurance Blog –
      https://blog.allstate.com/test-smoke-detectors/
    5. Houzz –
      https://www.houzz.com/ideabooks/17268616/list/how-to-wash-your-house
    6. Angie's List –
      https://www.angieslist.com/articles/why-gutter-cleaning-so-important.htm
    7. Angie's List –
      https://www.angieslist.com/articles/what-thatch-and-how-does-it-impact-my-lawn.htm
    8. HGTV –
      http://www.hgtv.com/design/outdoor-design/landscaping-and-hardscaping/lawns/top-spring-lawn-care-tips-pictures
    9. This Old House –
      https://www.thisoldhouse.com/more/may-mulching
    10. Lowes –
      https://www.lowes.com/projects/lawn-and-garden/fertilize-your-lawn/project
    11. The New York Times –
      https://www.nytimes.com/guides/realestate/home-maintenance-checklist
    12. Better Homes and Gardens Magazine –
      https://www.bhg.com/gardening/yard/garden-care/what-to-plant-in-the-fall/
    13. The Spruce –
      https://www.thespruce.com/late-fall-fertilizing-2152976
    14. This Old House –
      https://www.thisoldhouse.com/how-to/how-to-get-rid-ice-dams
    15. Houzz –
      https://www.houzz.com/ideabooks/55572864/list/your-winter-home-maintenance-checklist

     

    December
    5

    You don't have to break the bank to celebrate the holidays in style—even in this season of inflation. Prices may be higher on everything from food to gifts to decorations, but there are still plenty of opportunities to eke out extra savings.

    For example, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), you can save a couple of hundred dollars a year just by sealing your home and boosting its insulation.1 Other small fixes—such as swapping old light bulbs for LEDs and plugging electronics into a powerstrip—can boost your yearly savings enough to pay off some of your holiday budgets.

    And thanks to a pandemic-era boom in online shopping, it is easier than ever to find deals on new and pre-owned furniture, thrifted gifts, DIY decor, and more. Even secondhand stalwarts like Goodwill have joined the digital fray, making it a cinch to score gently-used treasures at extra-low prices.2

    You won't be the only one bargain-hunting your way to a more financially-stable New Year. Multiple surveys have found that inflation is not only chilling people's spending, it's also prompting shoppers to search for better deals and creative ways to reduce their bills.3

    Here are some strategies you can use to boost your holiday budget by trimming household expenses:

    1. Hunt for Deals on Groceries

    If you're finding it harder than it used to be to serve your family dinner on a budget, you're not alone. With the U.S. food-at-home index (a measure of grocery price inflation) at a 43-year high, many families are struggling to control costs on food staples, such as meat, dairy, produce, and grains.4

    That's made pulling off holiday gatherings especially stressful lately. But don't despair: Even with inflation, retailers are still giving motivated shoppers plenty of opportunities to whittle down their bills.

    The key is to pay attention to the cost of each item on your shopping list—not just the most expensive—and look for easy swaps and discounts. For example, try buying non-perishable items in bulk, especially when they're on sale, and only in-season produce. Or trade name-brand goods for less expensive options from a store's private label. As you tap into your inner bargain hunter, you could be surprised by what you save when you're more mindful of your selections.

    And unlike in the old days, you no longer have to clip your way through paper flyers to snag a bargain. Instead, you can save both time and money by scouting for deals online, digitally clipping coupons, and earning cash back through special apps and browsers. For example, coupon aggregation sites, like Coupons.com, and shopping apps—such as Checkout 51 and Ibotta—make it easy to score discounts and cashback on a variety of purchases, including groceries.

    Also, check to see if your neighborhood grocer posts their weekly flyers online. If you're hosting a holiday party, the markdowns you find can help you narrow your food and recipe choices, based on what's currently on sale.

    2. Prep Your Home for Holiday Guests With Pre-Owned Finds

    You don't have to sacrifice style for the sake of preserving your holiday budget either. If you're expecting company this year and would like to add some festive flair to your home, you can do so inexpensively—especially if you're willing to decorate with items that are secondhand.

    Thrifting is back in vogue, with an increasing number of shoppers preferring pre-owned furniture and home goods. A recent study found that the "re-commerce" market grew almost 15% last year, which was twice the pace of general retail.5 Plus, buying used isn't just a great way to save money, it also helps the environment by keeping reusable items out of landfills.

    Fortunately, it's become easier to score secondhand deals online. For example, you can scout consumer marketplaces on Facebook, Craigslist, and OfferUp. Or you can take advantage of neighborhood freecycles and "Buy Nothing" groups. And a number of thrift shops now have e-commerce sites, including major chains, like Goodwill.

    If you're handy with a paintbrush or have some basic carpentry skills, you can also modernize some of your existing furniture by upcycling it yourself. Or, if you enjoy crafting, search through your own recycling or sewing bin for raw materials to make one-of-a-kind decorations.

    Don't stress yourself out, though, if you don't have the time or money to dress your home the way you hoped. "A house doesn't have to be perfect or completely done for it to feel festive or inviting," designer Justina Blakeney noted in an interview with the Washington Post. "These are family and friends, and they are not judging you."6 

    3. Forgo Major Renovations in Favor of DIY Home Improvements

    Holidays are always a tricky time to undergo big renovations. But with ongoing worker and material shortages, now is an especially bad time to commit. Inflated costs can add thousands to your reno budget –—and unnecessary stress to your holiday.

    Instead of suffering through an ill-timed remodel, you're better off saving this time of year for simpler, less expensive projects you can do yourself.

    One winter-perfect upgrade to consider: Build a DIY fire pit so that you and your guests can roast marshmallows and relax in the cozy comfort of your backyard. You can also add some extra ambiance by hanging energy-efficient LED outdoor string lights that change from white to colorful. These are festive enough for the holidays, but also versatile enough to use year-round.

    Or, if you'd rather curl up by an indoor fire, channel your DIY energy into a fireplace upgrade. Adding a wooden beam to the top of your mantel can add an extra layer of coziness. Alternatively, re-tiling or painting your fireplace surround can lend contemporary flair.

    Just be sure to stick to DIY projects that you know you can do a quality job on—especially if your changes will be difficult to reverse. Feel free to reach out for a free assessment to find out how your planned renovations could impact your home's resale value. 

    4. Invest in Home Maintenance Projects That Cut Your Utility Bills

    You can save money by completing basic home maintenance tasks, such as swapping your furnace filter and updating your lightbulbs. But if you really want to lower your bills this winter, consider projects that make your home more energy efficient.

    According to the EPA, 9 out of 10 homes in the U.S. are under-insulated, which wastes energy and money.7 Luckily, there are plenty of DIY insulation projects that you can complete in just a few days. For example, the EPA offers guides on how to:

    • Insulate your attic or basement crawl space
    • Weatherstrip doors and windows
    • Seal areas around the house that may be leaking air, including electrical outlets and fireplaces

    The savings you get from these projects can really add up. The EPA estimates that sealing and insulating your ducts can make your HVAC system up to 20% more efficient.8 And thanks to new provisions from the Inflation Reduction Act, you can also save a bundle this year by investing in certain energy-efficient upgrades and claiming a tax credit.9 Be sure to check with us about any local rebates and incentives that may be available, too, before getting started on a project. 

    5. Use Expense Tracking to Boost Your Holiday Budget

     To avoid overextending yourself during the holidays (or anytime), one of the best things you can do is track your income and expenses. If your monthly budget is usually tight, you may need to make some adjustments to free up cash for holiday expenditures.

     For example, here's a sample budget worksheet. Start by adding in your expenses: Under the "Typical" column, you can list your standard expenses, and under the "Adjusted" column, list any areas where you could cut back on spending.

    Then consider how your standard wages may be adjusted this month by extra shifts, additional tips, or an end-of-year bonus. By decreasing your spending and/or increasing your income, you can build room in your budget for holiday gifts and gatherings.

    HOUSEHOLD BUDGET WORKSHEET

     

    Typical

    Adjusted

    Difference (+/-)

    HOUSING

    Mortgage/taxes/insurance or Rent

     

     

     

    Utilities (electricity, water, gas, trash)

     

     

     

    Phone, internet, cable

     

     

     

    Home maintenance and repairs

     

     

     

    FOOD

    Groceries

     

     

     

    Restaurants

     

     

     

    TRANSPORTATION

    Car payment/insurance

     

     

     

    Gas, maintenance, repairs

     

     

     

    OTHER

    Health insurance

     

     

     

    Clothing and personal care

     

     

     

    Childcare

     

     

     

    Entertainment

     

     

     

    Charitable contributions

     

     

     

    Savings, retirement, college fund

     

     

     

    INCOME

    Salary/wages

     

     

     

    Bonus, tips, other

     

     

     

    MONTHLY TOTALS

    Total Adjusted Income

     

    Total Adjusted Expenses

    -

    EXTRA SAVINGS FOR YOUR HOLIDAY BUDGET

     

    Feel free to use this worksheet as a template that you can personalize to your needs.

     WE'RE HERE TO HELP

     We would love to help you meet your financial goals now and in the year ahead. Whether you want to find lower-cost alternatives for home renovations, maintenance, or services, we are happy to provide our insights and referrals.

    And if you're saving up to buy a new home, we can help with that, too. This is the perfect time to score a great deal because only the most motivated homebuyers and sellers are active in the market right now. So reach out to schedule a free consultation. We can fill you in on some of the exciting programs and incentives we're seeing that help make homeownership more affordable.

    The above references an opinion and is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be financial, legal, or tax advice. Consult the appropriate professionals for advice regarding your individual needs.

    Sources:

    1. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) - https://www.energystar.gov/campaign/waysToSave#!card0-GW91
    2. USA Today - https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/retail/2022/10/05/goodwill-launches-online-store-goodwillfinds-website/8185084001/
    3. Retail Dive -
      https://www.retaildive.com/news/inflation-drives-shopping-changes-consumers-survey/629973/
    4. NBC News -
      https://www.nbcnews.com/select/shopping/how-save-groceries-ncna1299053
    5. CNBC - ​​https://www.cnbc.com/2022/09/14/secondhand-shopping-is-booming-heres-how-much-you-can-save.html
    6. Washington Post -
      https://www.washingtonpost.com/home/2021/11/09/holiday-entertaining-tips/
    7. S. Environmental Protection Agency - https://www.energystar.gov/campaign/seal_insulate/why_seal_and_insulate
    8. Energy Star -
      https://www.energystar.gov/campaign/waysToSave
    9. The White House -
      https://www.whitehouse.gov/cleanenergy/?utm_source=cleanenergy.gov

    October
    30

    According to Redfin, a national real estate brokerage, there's a pretty good chance you can find a condo or co-op that'll cost you less to own per month than it would to rent one!

    Landlords have every right to get as much for their rental as possible. If there are renters who are ready, willing, and able to pay them what they're getting per month, then the market has spoken, and that is ultimately what defines and creates the market value.

    The good news is, you might be able to buy your own home and pay less per month than you do in rent!

    People often presume that buying a home will cost them more than renting. It certainly can, but it doesn't always. A lot depends upon:

    • Where you live
    • What's available to purchase
    • How much homes sell for in your area
    • How much rents are in area

    It's not a no-brainer. You have to look into those things. But most likely you won't be able to buy just any house on the market and have it cost you less per month than something you could rent in the area. That's not how it works. For instance, you're probably not going to be able to buy a 4-bedroom, 3-bath colonial on a cul de sac for less than it costs you to rent a 2-bedroom, 1-bath apartment. But, you might be able to find a 2 bedroom, 1 bath condo or co-op that'll cost you less per month than that apartment!

    In fact, according to recent monthly rental market data from Redfin, there's a pretty good chance you can find a condo or co-op that'll cost you less to own per month than it would to rent one! While other types of property cost more per month to own than to rent, condos and co-ops are about $200 cheaper per month to own on average on a national level. And that's not just right now; it has been cheaper to own a condo — by even more than that at times — going back to at least April of 2019.

    Again, real estate values and markets function on a local level, so you can't entirely bank on national statistics. But they're at least a good indication that there are possibilities worth looking into if your rent is creeping higher, and you'd like to have some control over how much you're shelling out every month for a place to live! In the least, it's worth asking your local real estate agent to help you figure out if there are condos (or perhaps even another type of home) for you to buy, that'll cost you less per month than your current rent.

    The Takeaway:

    If you're feeling like rent prices are skyrocketing, you're not imagining things. While they're driven by supply and demand in the market, some landlords are also using software that helps them not only determine how much they can get for rent, but also encourages them to avoid bargaining with renters and to be firm on higher monthly rental rates.

    The good news is that you might be able to buy your own condo or co-op, and pay less per month than you would in rent, based upon national rental market data. Reach out to your local real estate agent for a more accurate assessment of the options and possibilities in your area. With offices in Charlottesville, Madison, Amherst, Orange & Culpeper, our Montague Miller & Co real estate professionals can help you with your home search!

    Resources: Redfin

    October
    29

    Some Highlights

    • Even with higher mortgage rates, the mortgage process doesn't need to be something you fear. Here are some steps to help as you set out to buy a home.
    • Know your credit score and work to build strong credit. When you're ready, lean on the pros and connect with a lender so you can get pre-approved and begin your home search.
    • Any major life change can be scary, and buying a home is no different. Partner with a trusted real estate professional to take fear out of the equation.

    Resources: Keeping Current Matters

    October
    2

    Deciding whether to jump into the housing market or rent instead is rarely an easy decision – especially if you're a first-time homebuyer. But in today's whirlwind market, you may find it particularly challenging to pinpoint the best time to start exploring homeownership. 

     A real estate boom during the pandemic pushed home prices to an all-time high.1 Add higher mortgage rates to the mix, and some would-be buyers are wondering if they should wait to see if prices or rates come down.

     But is renting a better alternative? Rents have also soared along with inflation – and are likely to continue climbing due to a persistent housing shortage.2 And while homebuyers can lock in a set mortgage payment, renters are at the mercy of these rising costs for the foreseeable future.

     So, what's the better choice for you? There's a lot to consider when it comes to buying versus renting. Luckily, you don't have to do it alone. Reach out to schedule a free consultation and we'll help walk you through your options. You may also find it helpful to ask yourself the following questions: 

    1. How long do I plan to stay in the home?

     You'll get the most financial benefit from a home purchase if you own the property for at least five years.3 If you plan to sell in a shorter period of time, a home purchase may not be the best choice for you.

     There are costs associated with buying and selling a home, and it may take time for the property's value to rise enough to offset those expenditures.

     Even though housing markets can shift from one year to the next, you'll typically find that a home's value will ride out a market's ups and downs and appreciate with time.4 The longer you own a property, the more you are likely to benefit from its appreciation.

     Once you've found a community that you'd like to stay in for several years, then buying over renting can really pay off. You'll not only benefit from appreciation, but you'll also build equity as you pay down your mortgage – and you'll have more security and stability overall.

     Also important: If you plan to stay in the home for the life of the mortgage, there will come a time when you no longer have to make those payments. As a result, your housing costs will drop dramatically, while your equity (and net worth) continue to grow. 

    2. Is it a better value to buy or rent in my area?

     If you know you plan to stay put for at least five years, you should consider whether buying or renting is the better bargain in your area.

     One helpful tool for evaluating your options is a neighborhood's price-to-rent ratio: just divide the median home price by the median yearly rent price. The higher the price-to-rent ratio is, the more expensive it is to buy compared to rent.5 Keep in mind, though, that this equation provides only a snapshot of where the market stands today. As such, it may not accurately account for the full impact of rising home values and rent increases over the long term.

     According to the National Association of Realtors, a typical U.S. homeowner who purchased a single-family existing home 10 years ago would have gained roughly $225,000 in equity — all while maintaining a steady mortgage payment.6

     In contrast, someone who chose to rent for the past 10 years would have not only missed out on those equity gains, but they would have also seen U.S. rental prices increase by around 66%.7

     So even if renting seems like a better bargain today, buying could be the better long-term financial play.

     Ready to compare your options? Then reach out to schedule a free consultation. As local market experts, we can help you interpret the numbers to determine if buying or renting is the better value in your particular neighborhood.

    3.Can I afford to be a homeowner?

     If you determine that buying a home is the better value, you'll want to evaluate your financial readiness.

     Start by examining how much you have in savings. After committing a down payment and closing costs, will you still have enough money left over for ancillary expenses and emergencies? If not, that's a sign you may be better off waiting until you've built a larger rainy-day fund.

     Then consider how your monthly budget will be impacted. Remember, your monthly mortgage payment won't be your only expense going forward. You may also need to factor in property taxes, insurance, association fees, maintenance, and repairs.

     Still, you could find that the monthly cost of homeownership is comparable to renting, especially if you make a sizable down payment. Landlords often pass the extra costs of homeowning onto tenants, so it's not always the cheaper option.

     Plus, even though you'll be in charge of financing your home's upkeep if you buy, you'll also be the one who stands to benefit from the fruits of your investment. Every major upgrade, for example, not only makes your home a nicer place to live; it also helps boost your home's market value.

     If you want to buy a home but aren't sure you can afford it, give us a call to discuss your goals and budget. We can give you a realistic assessment of your options and help you determine if your homeownership dreams are within reach.

    4. Can I qualify for a mortgage?

     If you're prepared to handle the costs of homeownership, you'll next want to look into how likely you are to get approved for a mortgage.

     Every lender will have its own criteria. But, in general, you can expect a creditor to scrutinize your job stability, credit history, and savings to make sure you can handle a monthly mortgage payment.

     For example, lenders like to see evidence that your income is stable and predictable. So if you're self-employed, you may need to provide additional documentation proving that your earnings are dependable. A lender will also compare your monthly debt payments to your income to make sure you aren't at risk of becoming financially overextended.

     In addition, a lender will check your credit report to verify that you have a history of on-time payments and can be trusted to pay your bills. Generally, the higher your credit score, the better your odds of securing a competitive rate.

     Whatever your circumstances, it's always a good idea to get preapproved for a mortgage before you start house hunting. Let us know if you're interested, and we'll give you a referral to a loan officer or mortgage broker who can help.

    5. How would owning a home change my life?

     Before you begin the preapproval process, however, it's important to consider how homeownership would affect your life, aside from the long-term financial gains.

     In general, you should be prepared to invest more time and energy in owning a home than you do renting one. There can be a fair amount of upkeep involved, especially if you buy a fixer-upper or overcommit yourself to a lot of DIY projects. If you've only lived in an apartment, for example, you could be surprised by the amount of time you spend maintaining a lawn.

     On the other hand, you might relish the chance to tinker in your very own garden, make HGTV-inspired improvements, or play with your dog in a big backyard. Or, if you're more social, you might enjoy hosting family gatherings or attending block parties with other committed homeowners.

     The great thing about owning a home is that you can generally do what you want with it – even if that means painting your walls fiesta red one month and eggplant purple the next!

     The choice – like the home – is all yours.  

    HAVE MORE QUESTIONS? WE'VE GOT ANSWERS 

    The decision to buy or rent a home is among the most consequential you will make in your lifetime. We can make the process easier by helping you compare your options using real-time local market data. So don't hesitate to reach out for a personalized consultation from our Montague Miller & Co trusted real estate professionals, regardless of where you are in your deliberations. We'd be happy to answer your questions and identify actionable steps you can take now to reach your long-term goals.

    The above references an opinion and is for informational purposes only.  It is not intended to be financial, legal, or tax advice. Consult the appropriate professionals for advice regarding your individual needs. 

    Sources:

    1. CNN -
      https://www.cnn.com/2022/08/11/homes/home-prices-second-quarter/index.html
    2. NPR - https://www.npr.org/2022/07/14/1109345201/theres-a-massive-housing-shortage-across-the-u-s-heres-how-bad-it-is-where-you-l
    3. Bankrate -
      https://www.bankrate.com/mortgages/5-year-real-estate-rule/
    4. Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis -
      https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/MSPUS
    5. National Association of REALTORS - https://www.nar.realtor/blogs/economists-outlook/price-to-rent-ratios-by-state-from-2014-2019
    6. National Association of REALTORS -
      https://www.nar.realtor/blogs/economists-outlook/single-family-homeowners-typically-accumulated-225K-in-housing-wealth-over-10-years
    7. Statista -
      https://www.statista.com/statistics/200223/median-apartment-rent-in-the-us-since-1980/
    August
    1

    The process of buying a new home can be both exhilarating and exhausting. But the journey doesn't stop when you close on your property. On the contrary, you still have quite a bit to do before you can begin the process of settling into your new place.

    Fortunately, you don't have to do everything in a day. You don't have to do it all alone, either. When you work with us to sell or purchase a home, you'll have an ally by your side long after your transaction has closed. We'll continue to be a resource, offering advice and referrals whenever you need them on packing, hiring movers and contractors, and acclimating to your new home and neighborhood.

    When it comes to a life event as stressful as moving, it pays to have a professional by your side. Here are some of our favorite pro tips to share with clients as they prepare for an upcoming move.

    1. Watch out for moving scams.

    Maybe you receive a flyer for a moving company in the mail. Perhaps you find a mover online. Either way, never assume that you're getting accurate information. According to the Better Business Bureau, moving-related fraud is on the rise. In 2021 alone, individuals and families reported more than $730,000 lost to moving scams, an increase of 216% over the previous year.1

    How can you tell if a moving deal is too good to be true? Trust your instincts. If the price appears too low or you can't pin down the mover's physical business address, try someone else. The same goes for any moving company representative who dodges questions. Reputable movers should offer transparent pricing, conduct in-home estimates, and provide referrals and copies of their insurance documents upon request.2 For help finding trustworthy movers, reach out. We'd be happy to share our recommendations. 

    1. Insure your belongings.

    Your moving company promises to take care of your custom piano or your antique furniture. But don't just take their word for it. Ask to see how much insurance they carry and talk about how the claims process works. That way, you'll know what is (and isn't) covered in case of loss or damage.

    Of course, some items are priceless because they're irreplaceable. You might want to move your more sensitive valuables (jewelry, documents, family heirlooms, etc.) in your own vehicle just to be safe. For added peace of mind, call your rental or home insurance provider if you're moving anything yourself. You might already be protected or be able to purchase extra insurance to cover your move. If those options are unavailable, you could opt for moving insurance from a third-party carrier.3

    1. Start packing when you start looking for a new home.

     As soon as your house hunting begins in earnest, think about packing away things you won't need for the next few months. These could include seasonal or holiday decor, clothing, and books. Tackling just one or two boxes a day will give you a head start.

    If you're going to put your current home on the market, you'll want to declutter anyway. Decluttering will make your home seem larger, and depersonalizing helps buyers envision their own items in the space. Consider selling, donating, or throwing out possessions you no longer need. The things you want to keep can be placed in storage until you officially start moving to a new place.

    1. Pack to make unpacking easier.

    Have you ever opened a packed box only to find that it's filled with an assortment of items that don't belong together? This isn't efficient and will only make unpacking harder. A better way to pack is to bundle items from a single room in a labeled box. Labels can let movers know (and remind you) where to place each box, whether it's fragile, and which side needs to be up. Some people like to assign colors to each room in their new home to make distributing color-coded boxes a breeze.

    Feel free to unleash your inner organizer with this project. For example, you could create a spreadsheet and assign each box a number. As boxes are packed, simply fill in the spreadsheet with a list of contents. Anyone with access to the spreadsheet can log in and quickly find the desired item.

    1. Think outside the box when transporting clothes.

    Who wants to worry about boxing up clothes? If you plan on hiring professional movers, ask if you can leave clothing in your dressers. In many cases, they will use plastic to wrap the dresser so the drawers don't fall out during transport. If keeping your clothes in your furniture makes it too heavy, the movers might be able to wrap and move drawers by themselves.

    Another easy transport trick involves turning clean garbage bags into garment bags. Poke a hole in the bottom of a garbage bag, turn the bag upside down, slide it over five to seven garments on hangers, and lay the items flat in the back seat or trunk of your vehicle. The bags will help prevent wrinkling, and your clothes will be ready to hang up when you get to your new home.

    1. Document prior to disassembling appliances and furnishings.

    Few things are as confusing as looking at a plastic baggie filled with nuts, bolts, and screws from your disassembled dining room table or sorting through a box of electrical wires and cords to see which ones fit your TV.

    The best workaround to easier reassembly is to document the disassembly process. Take photos and videos or thorough notes as you go. Whether it's your headboard or treadmill, be very precise. And just a tip: Construct your beds first when you get to your new home. After a long moving day, the very last thing you want is to be assembling beds into the wee hours of the morning.

    1. Prioritize unpacking kids' rooms.

    Children can become very stressed by a big move. To ease their transition, consider prioritizing unpacking their rooms as their "safe zones."4 You aren't obligated to unpack everything, certainly. However, set up your children's rooms to be functional. That way, your kids can hang out in a private oasis away from the chaos while you're running around and moving everything else.

    Depending upon how old your youngsters are, you might want to give them decorating leeway, too. Even if it's just letting them choose where furniture goes, it gives them a sense of buy-in. This can help ease the blues of leaving a former home they loved.

    1. Be a thoughtful pet parent.

    Many types of pets can't handle the commotion of moving day. Knowing this, be considerate and seek ways to give your pets breaks from the action. You might ask a friend to pet sit your pooch or keep your kitty in a quieter room, like a guest bathroom.

    Be sure to check in on your pet frequently. Pets like to know that you're around. Give them treats, food, and water throughout the day. When it's time to transport your pet, do it calmly. At your new property, give your pet access to just a room or two at first. Pets typically prefer to acclimate themselves slowly to unfamiliar environments.5

    1. Plan for your move like you're planning for an exciting vacation.

    When you plan vacations, you probably look up local restaurants, shops, and recreational areas. Who says you can't do the same thing when moving? Create a list of all the places you want to go and things you want to do around your newly purchased home. Having a to-explore list keeps everyone's spirits high and gives you starting points to settle into the neighborhood.

    And don't feel that you have to cook that first night. Once the moving trucks are gone, you can always pop over to a local eatery or order DoorDash for major convenience. The first meal in your new home should be a happy, welcoming treat. And if you're relocating to our neck of the woods, we would love to introduce you to all the hot spots in town and recommend our local favorites. 

    1. Pack an "Open Me First!" box.

    You won't be able to unpack all your boxes in one day, but you shouldn't go without your sheets, pillows, or toothbrush. Designate some boxes with "Open Me First!" labels. (Pro tip: Keep a tool kit front and center for all that reassembling.)

    Along these lines, use luggage and duffel bags to transport everyone's personal must-have items and enough clothing for a couple of days. That way, you won't have to rummage through everything in the middle of your move looking for sneakers or snacks.

    When packing your "Open Me First!" boxes, think about which items you'll need in those first 24 hours. For example, toilet paper and hand soap are musts. A box cutter will make unpacking a lot easier, and paper towels and trash bags are sure to come in handy. Reach out for a complete, printable list of "Open Me First!" box essentials to keep on hand for your next move!

    LET'S GET MOVING

    Getting the phone call from your real estate agent that your bid was accepted is a thrilling moment. Make sure you keep the positivity flowing during the following weeks by mapping out a streamlined, efficient move. Feel free to get in touch with us today to help make your big move your best move.

    Sources:

    1. Better Business Bureau - https://www.bbb.org/article/scams/24198-bbb-scam-alert-avoid-moving-scams-this-national-moving-mont
    2. org -
      https://www.move.org/how-to-tell-moving-company-scam/
    3. Forbes -
      https://www.forbes.com/advisor/homeowners-insurance/moving-insurance/
    4. New York Times -
      https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/13/parenting/moving-tips-kids.html
    5. ASPCA -
      https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/general-pet-care/moving-your-pet
    July
    6

    Moving doesn't have to be a stressful experience.

    You're moving! Let's face it; whether you're moving across the street or across the country, it can be one of life's more stressful events. Before you surround yourself with cardboard boxes and packing tape, use these tips to find and hire a reliable moving company in your area.

    1. Stay Local
      Use someone in your local community. Ask your real estate agent, family, or friends who they trust for moving projects. They will point you in the right direction.

      The majority of moving scams are found online so stay local by searching businesses in your hometown. You can search online but remember, by staying local, it is easier to verify that they are a legitimate business.


    2. Read Reviews
      In the moving industry, reputation is everything. You're going to tell everyone how great the movers were and that word of mouth is what keeps their business going.

      Further, check out the reviews posted for several moving companies that you are researching. In doing so, you will help ensure that you get a great company for a good value.


    3. Visit the BBB
      Visit the Better Business Bureau and check for any complaints or reports against the moving company. Look for customer complaints and business reports, and even check their Department of Transportation license. Simply ask your moving company for their DOT Number.

      You can then search the database to investigate their record. Make sure the company is insured. Check their insurance number. Visit the moving companies beforehand to see what their operations are like.


    4. Get Estimates
      Get at least three estimates from three different companies that have passed your initial screening tests. Try to ask for a not-to-exceed binding estimate. This means a cap will be placed on the maximum amount they can charge you for the move.

      When the moving company comes to your home, show them your belongings. Further, let them see your home's layout and what challenges they may face with stairs or other obstacles in moving items out of your home. Estimates should be free and always conducted in person. Phone estimates are bad.


    5. Check the Paperwork
      Just like selling your home comes with paperwork, so should a good moving company provide you with several documents. They should give you a bill of lading, which is a legal document that serves as a receipt of the shipment of goods.

      Further, an inventory list should include all of the items they are moving for you. The most important document is the estimate itself which should be a written binding estimate which is dated and signed by the moving company.

    You Are Ready to Move

    You have checked potential companies thoroughly and should feel good about your choice. You have done your homework. Now choose the best one. A smooth transition awaits.

    July
    6

    Your vacation is just around the corner. One thing you might not have planned is double-checking your home security.

    The security of your home is just as important as your hotel reservations and flight schedule. These simple steps will help you avoid coming home to find your valuables were stolen or your house damaged.

    1. Newspaper and Mail
      Either ask a neighbor to bring in your newspapers and mail or stop deliveries until after vacation. You can also stop any scheduled UPS package deliveries. UPS will hold them for up to 30 days. Mail and newspapers piling up in your mailbox are sure signs that you're away.

    2. Light Timer
      Plug several lights throughout your home into a timer. It's also a good idea to have your television or speakers on the timer to create noise. Stagger the settings so your lights don't always come on simultaneously every day. You can pair many timers with an app on your smartphone so that you can control it from anywhere.

    3. Home Improvement
      Before leaving for vacation, mow the lawn, trim your shrubs, wash the windows and clean up the yard. An overgrown lawn is a sure giveaway that no one is home. Burglars are less likely to target a well-maintained home, thinking someone is there. If you're planning an extended trip, hire someone to mow and water the lawn and make other small home improvements while you're away. For example, if a storm blows through, have someone pick up fallen branches and knocked over lawn furniture.

    4. Check the Locks
      If you don't have durable deadbolts, consider replacing them before you leave. Lock all your windows, the garage door, the basement door, and any deck entryways. Secure every entry into your home. If you have a house key hidden outside, remove it because an experienced burglar will find it. Give your house key directly to any person you have coming to your house to water your plants or feed your fish while you're away.

    5. Let The Authorities Know
      Before heading out the door, call the local police and let them know the dates you'll be out of town. Most local PDs send a police car by your home a few times, making sure nothing looks amiss.

    6. Leave The Blinds Open
      Many people think it's better to close the window blinds, so no one can peek into the house while on vacation. This is actually not a good idea. If everyone in the neighborhood has window shades pulled up and your house has the shades down, it's a red flag.

    With these tips, you can relax on your vacation without worrying about what's going on back home.

    June
    24

    Every buyer-to-be knows searching for a home can be a challenge. However, your house hunt doesn't have to mean chaos if you start with an organized plan. Streamlining your search starts with a healthy dose of preparation by including a great real estate agent, setting a budget, creating a wish list, and reviewing real estate listings that meet your requirements.

    These six tips can keep you organized and focused as you search for your new home.

    1. Involve Your Agent
      Your real estate agent isn't there just to set up visits and oversee the closing process when you're buying a house. They're also your number one resource for answering questions, sharing ideas, and providing real estate advice.

    2. Set a Budget
      While you don't have to know exactly how much you'll be able to spend at the start, it's a good idea to narrow your budget down to a comfortable range. Setting a sensible budget from the start makes every step that comes after easier. You can always adjust later if your finances change.

    3. Scout First
      Before you start scheduling visits, it's a good idea to scout some neighborhoods and identify possible matches. Doing online research will help you narrow down the possibilities. You can learn even more by driving through the most appealing spots that your research uncovers. Be sure to write down the info of any homes that catch your eye so that you can visit them later for a closer look.

    4. When in Doubt, Make a List
      Making lists are a great way to stay organized and super helpful when buying a house. Making lists of your needs, wants, and deal-breakers will help you lock in on the best fits and save time by quickly eliminating homes that just aren't a match.

    5. Ask Around
      Have any friends or family members who recently bought in a new community or live in a neighborhood you're considering? It helps to get the inside scoop on a neighborhood from someone you trust.

    6. Get Pre-Approved
      Want to impress potential sellers and gain some peace of mind in the process? Getting pre-approved for a mortgage is an excellent idea when shopping for a house and will make life much easier when it's time to make an offer. Get this step out of the way early and you'll be in great shape.

    Creating a plan before you start your search for a home gives you the chance to enjoy the process and to make an efficient, informed decision when it's time to place an offer on your new house.

    May
    1

    Our nation is in the midst of a serious housing crunch. Last year, a lack of inventory and soaring prices left many would-be homebuyers feeling pinched. But now, with interest rates climbing, many of them are also feeling desperate to lock in a mortgage—which has only added fuel to the fire.1

    Fortunately, if you're a buyer struggling to find a home, we have some good news. While it's true that higher mortgage rates can decrease your purchasing budget, there are additional ways to compete in a hot market.

    Yes, a high offer price gets attention. But most sellers consider a variety of factors when evaluating an offer. With that in mind, here are five tactics you can utilize to sweeten your proposal and outshine your competition.

    We can help you weigh the risks and benefits of each tactic and craft a compelling offer designed to get you your dream home—without giving away the farm. 

    1.   Demonstrate Solid Financing

    The reality is, no one gets paid if a home sale falls through. That's why sellers (and their listing agents) favor offers with a high probability of closing.

    Sellers particularly love all-cash offers because there's no chance of financing issues cropping up at the last moment. But don't despair if you can't pay cash for your home. According to the National Association of Realtors, only about 1 in 4 home purchases are all-cash deals, which means the vast majority are financed with a mortgage.2

    If sellers are assured that financing will come through, buying with a mortgage doesn't have to be a big disadvantage. The most important step you can take as a buyer is to get preapproved before you start looking for homes. A preapproval letter shows sellers that you are serious about buying and that you will be able to make good on your offer.

    It's also important to consider the reputation of your lender. While sellers may not know or care about a lender's reputation, their agents often do. Some lenders are much easier to work with than others, especially if you are pursuing certain types of mortgages like FHA or VA loans.3 If so, you'll want a lender who specializes in these types of mortgages. If you're unsure who to choose, we are happy to refer you to reputable lenders known for their ease of doing business.

    2.   Put Down a Sizeable Deposit

    Buyers can show sellers that they're serious about their offer and have "skin in the game" by putting down a large earnest money deposit.

    Earnest money is a deposit held in escrow by a title company or the seller's broker or lawyer.  If the purchase goes through, it is applied to the down payment and closing costs—if the sale falls through, the buyer may lose some or all of that deposit.

    While an earnest money deposit is typically around 1-2% of the sale price, offering a higher deposit can help demonstrate to the buyer that you are serious about the property.4 However, this strategy can also be risky. We can help you determine an appropriate deposit to offer based on your specific circumstances.

    3.   Ask for Few (or No) Contingencies

    Most real estate offers include contingencies, which are clauses that allow one or both parties to back out of the agreement if certain conditions are not met. These contingencies appear in the purchase agreement and must be accepted by both the buyer and seller to be legally binding.5

    Common contingencies include:

    • Financing: A financing contingency gives the buyer a window of time in which to secure a mortgage. If they are unable to do so, they can withdraw from the purchase and the seller can move on to other buyers.
    • Inspection: An inspection contingency gives the buyer the opportunity to have the home professionally inspected for issues with the structure, wiring, plumbing, etc. Typically, the seller may choose whether or not to remediate those issues; if they do not, the buyer may withdraw from the contract.
    • Appraisal: Most lenders will not offer a mortgage on a home that costs more than it's worth. An appraisal contingency gives the buyer an opportunity to get the home professionally assessed to ensure that its value is at or above the sales price. If an appraisal comes in low, the seller may be asked to renegotiate the contract.
    • Sale of a prior home: Some buyers cannot afford to purchase a new home until they sell their previous one. If the buyer is unable to sell their current home within a specified window of time, this contingency enables them to withdraw from the contract without penalty.

    Since contingencies reduce the likelihood that a sale will go through, they generally make an offer less desirable to the seller. The more contingencies that are included, the weaker the offer becomes. Therefore, buyers in a competitive market often volunteer to waive certain contingencies.

    However, it's very important to make this decision carefully and recognize the risks of doing so. For example, a buyer who chooses to waive a home inspection contingency may find out too late that the home requires extensive renovations, and a buyer who waives the appraisal may risk their mortgage falling through. If you back out of a home purchase without the protection of a contingency, you could lose your earnest money deposit.6 We can help you assess the risks and benefits involved.

    4. Offer a Flexible Closing Date and/or Leaseback Option

    When it comes to selling a house, money isn't everything. People sell their homes for a wide variety of reasons, and flexible terms that work with their personal situations can sometimes make all the difference. For example, if a seller is in the process of planning a significant move, they may prefer a longer closing timeline that gives them time to find housing in their new location.

    Similarly, short-term leaseback options, in which the sale is completed but the seller retains the right to rent the home for a specified period of time, can be compelling.7 These arrangements enable the seller to use the money from the sale of their home to purchase their next house. A leaseback agreement also makes it possible for them to avoid moving twice when their next home is not yet ready to occupy.

    Flexible closing dates and leaseback options can provide a powerful advantage for first-time homebuyers. If you have a month-to-month or easily transferable lease, for example, you may be able to offer a more flexible timeline than a buyer who is simultaneously selling their existing home.

    Of course, the value of these terms depends on the seller's situation. We can reach out to the listing agent to find out the seller's preferred terms, and then collaborate with you to write a compelling offer that works for both parties.  

    5. Work With a Skilled Buyer's Agent

    In this ultra-competitive real estate market, one of the greatest advantages you can give yourself is to work with a skilled and trustworthy real estate professional. We will make sure you fully understand the process and help you submit an appealing offer without taking on too much risk.

    Plus, we know how to write offers that are designed to win over both the seller and their listing agent. The truth is, listing agents play a huge role in helping sellers evaluate offers, and they want to work with skilled buyer's agents who are professional, communicative, and courteous.

    Once your offer is accepted, we'll also handle any further negotiations and coordinate all the paperwork and other details involved in your home purchase. The best part is, you'll have a knowledgeable, licensed advocate on your side who is watching out for your best interests every step of the way.

    Helping You Get to the Right Offer

    In many cases, a competitive offer doesn't need to be all-cash, contingency-free, or significantly above asking price. But if you're serious about buying a home in today's market, it's important to consider what you can do to sweeten the deal.

    If you're a buyer, we can help you compete in today's market without getting steamrolled. And if you're a seller, we can help you evaluate offers by taking all the relevant factors into account. Contact a local Montague Miller & Co real estate professionals today to schedule a free consultation.

    Sources:

    1. National Association of Realtors -
      https://www.nar.realtor/newsroom/pending-home-sales-dwindle-4-1-in-february
    2. National Association of Realtors -
      https://www.nar.realtor/newsroom/existing-home-sales-fade-7-2-in-february
    3. Forbes -
      https://www.forbes.com/advisor/mortgages/housing-crisis-tips/
    4. com -
      https://www.realtor.com/advice/finance/earnest-money-deposit-mistakes-buyers-make/
    5. Bankrate -
      https://www.bankrate.com/real-estate/contingency-clause/
    6. Home Buying Institute -
      http://www.homebuyinginstitute.com/mortgage/risks-of-waiving-a-contingency/
    7. com -
      https://www.realtor.com/advice/sell/what-is-a-rent-back-agreement