Nearby stores signal price trends - 02/01/2023
Worried about where home prices are headed? With the pandemic-led price spikes receding, buyers and owners are worried values could erode significantly in future months. Some guidance on price direction over the course of several years can be gleaned if a home is near one of these grocery chains: ALDI, Trader Joe’s, or Whole...Read More

Homebuyers keep heads in the game - 01/25/2023
The housing market has slowed to a crawl, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of buyers out there. Like benched athletes who are hoping to be called into the game, buyers are looking to jump in when the right opportunity comes up. In the market frenzy of 2021 and early 2022, buyers were dropping out because they...Read More

More sellers opt for do-overs - 01/18/2023
Persistence has its virtues, but so does quitting. In this market, more sellers are calling it quits; with Redfin reporting that a record two percent of homes listed for sale were dropping out of the market each week last autumn. In many cases, by pulling up “For Sale” stakes, sellers are acknowledging reality: ...Read More

Remote workers drive housing market movements - 01/11/2023
These days, the old adage “A man’s home is his castle” needs an addendum: “if it’s also his office.” While rising rates pushed many buyers out of the market in 2022, those still buying did so in a big way. For the year ending in June 2022, home buyers moved a median 50 miles away, far longer than the...Read More

Sellers pay to remove buyers’ rate worries - 01/04/2023
Home sellers can remove one of the big obstacles keeping buyers at bay: high mortgage rates. Home building companies are already doing this in a big way. A recent survey from John Burns Real Estate Consulting finds that 75 percent of builders provide mortgage rate “buydowns.” Individual sellers of existing homes can do the...Read More

Home on the range: The importance of price parameters - 12/21/2022
It’s probably the most crucial question for buyers to get right: ‘What’s your price range?’ Now, with many markets continuing to see a limited for-sale inventory, it helps to know how far up the price ladder it’s realistic to look. And, after moving in, a sensible price limit provides financial...Read More

Selling in 2023 takes precision pricing - 12/14/2022
Owners planning to sell their home in 2023 face a problem that has PhD economists puzzled: Where are prices headed? Rapid rate rises in 2022 slowed sales, but nationwide prices showed little weakening. Although many forecasts predict prices falling more, how deep a drop there’ll be is uncertain – and some locales might...Read More

Doors open for VA, FHA homebuyers - 12/07/2022
Rising mortgage rates have pushed many homebuyers out of the market. But their absence has provided FHA and VA buyers to step in. When rates were in the low single digits and sellers had their pick of competing offers, they hied away from buyers using FHA and VA financings. “There is less risk, and in some cases less cost, for a...Read More

Don’t count on it: square footage is approximate - 11/30/2022
Space, whether more or less, is a major factor motivating a move. A young family cramped in an 1100 square foot condo wants more bedrooms; a single professional needs a larger kitchen; a downsizing couple wants to trade half their space to be mortgage-free. But home shoppers clicking through listings shouldn’t take what would...Read More

Making a new place your hometown - 11/23/2022
More Americans have been making big moves: Out of an urban center to an outlying suburb, or to new towns and cities that promise more affordable, easier living. Except that, initially, the quest for a more enjoyable living may not feel very comfortable, caution people who’ve felt the loneliness a new locale can engender. Make-up...Read More

Creating a trail of rental payments leads to home buying - 11/16/2022
Most renters pay their landlord on time. If a renter aspires to buy a home, it’s especially important to keep making timely payments, since there’s a movement underway for mortgage applicants to get a boost towards approval from good rental histories. In the past year, both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two big...Read More

Slower sales spur staging - 11/09/2022
A home sale slowdown is good for business for one type of real estate professional: Home stagers. “We have not used professional staging in the past two years because of the hot real estate market for sellers,” says John Myers, of real estate brokerage Myers & Myers. Although in his Albuquerque, NM market, homes are...Read More

Home buyers, owners face cold truths - 11/02/2022
It’s going to be a cold winter. That forecast isn’t from the National Weather Service, and it concerns temperatures indoors, not out. Homeowners will likely be turning their thermostats down and donning sweaters in the 2022-2023 winter, since the National Energy Assistance Directors Association {NEADA} estimates the...Read More

Can a new home lead to better retirement living? - 10/26/2022
Rising mortgage rates have pulled prices down somewhat, but a scarcity of homes for sale is preventing a significant price slide. Many older homeowners, like those in the Seattle area that financial planner Samantha Kennedy counsels, wonder if cashing in on their home value and using part of their proceeds to fund retirement expenses...Read More

Coming home to buy your own - 10/19/2022
During the pandemic, now 28-year-old Megan Zuckerman left her New York City apartment for her parents’ home in New Jersey. But seeing friends struggling to find affordable rentals in the city now, she’s decided to stay with family to save for a down payment and avoid continually facing a lease expire. She’s hardly...Read More

Dicing and slicing second homes - 10/12/2022
Americans have a passion for beautiful homes, with vacation homes holding their own special appeal. Like dessert, though, second homes are tempting, and not necessary. Enter online platforms like SecondShare, Ember, and Pacaso, which offer second home ownership, but in more affordable slices. “Fractional ownership” or...Read More

Away from the curb appeal - 10/05/2022
Location has long played a key role in influencing home values. But ideas about what makes for a desirable location morphs over time, often influenced by events and lifestyle changes. The pandemic pushed the importance of nearby parks and open spaces – already rising as a desirable feature – to a key amenity for both home...Read More

Will Local Laws Ban Short-Term Rentals? - 09/28/2022
Homes are expensive. That’s why many buyers want a home that helps pay for itself, through short-term rentals (STRs) arranged by platforms like Airbnb or VRBO. Buyers, though, will need to find more than a home in a popular area, or with an extra room or two to accommodate overnight guests, since local laws may thwart their STR...Read More

That old house: Will buyers love it or level it? - 09/21/2022
Homes don’t have to die of old age. But just as high blood pressure or inactivity impacts humans’ longevity, older homes have their own predictors on whether a buyer will purchase it to live in or tear it down. Homes which haven’t been updated and located in highly desirable neighborhoods without nearby buildable...Read More

Some sellers have iBuy option - 09/14/2022
A fast, cash offer is a home seller’s dream. In 2021, not only did many sellers enjoy quick cash bids, but often above their home’s list price. Sellers of certain homes can still secure a cash offer – in fact they can arrange it by contacting an “iBuyer.” But the offer will likely be below the price...Read More

Reverse mortgages help for shrinking retirement fund - 09/07/2022
The Dow has dived, but home prices have mostly held their big gains from the past couple years. For retired homeowners, their home equity [calculated by subtracting any mortgage balance owed from the current value of a home] provides some emotional comfort compared to their shrinking investment portfolio. Now, some financial experts...Read More

Closing credits stretch buyers’ purchase power - 08/31/2022
You’ll know if buyers are gaining purchasing power in your market when sellers bend to some buyer requests. Now, with rising rates, buyers can particularly benefit by asking sellers to contribute part of their closing costs – even in lieu of slashing the asking price. Closing costs can be hefty, up to six percent or so of...Read More

Better insulation puts money into homeowners’ pockets - 08/24/2022
Financial planner Gregory Lawrence has a suggestion for homeowners on how to earn a healthy return: Improve the insulation in your home. But because it’s rather humdrum, admits Lawrence, most people aren’t enthused, says the Estero, FL based owner of Lawrence Legacy Group. Now, though, he expects investing in better...Read More

Pay less upfront for a security deposit - 08/17/2022
With the average rate nationwide for a one -bedroom apartment jumping to $1,129 early this year, renters everywhere are finding themselves financially stretched. Not only must their earnings and credit record meet a landlord’s standards, but they also need a month or more of rent upfront for a security deposit. The security is...Read More

Getting a boost from a mortgage guarantor - 08/10/2022
In this price-spiraling housing market, the only way many have been able to purchase is with a cash gift from family or friends. Now, with higher interest rates squeezing affordability further, buyers need another boost to reach mortgage approval. But this time it’s not cash, but a good faith promise that’s...Read More

Financial rewards for renewing renters - 08/03/2022
These days, homeowners and renters face the same problem: a shortage of available, affordable places to buy or lease. The only answer, for both groups, is to stay put. “Over the last 12 months, renters with expiring leases chose to renew about 58 percent of the time – which is the highest we’ve ever seen,”...Read More

Gambling to win a lower rate - 07/27/2022
Back in early July of this year, mortgage rates were roughly double where they sat at the same point in 2021. But the path to today’s loftier level hasn’t been a straight ascent up. “Rates move when the financial markets move, “explains Jeffrey Loyd, of Mortgage Acuity in Hackensack, NJ. For instance, when...Read More

Higher rates carry a possible tax perk - 07/20/2022
Mortgage rates are climbing to levels not seen in years. Back then, though, higher rates carried a sweetener: Homeowners typically deducted mortgage interest, lowering their federal income tax bill. But since tax reform in 2017, only 11% of filers itemize, and use mortgage interest as well as another homeowner perk – property...Read More

What’s wrong with this home? - 07/13/2022
Older homes, particularly those that haven’t been updated, are the wallflowers of this market. While buyer demand is still so strong that homes go under contract quickly, there’s less competition for the wallflowers, providing an opportunity for less deep-pocketed buyers, especially first-timers. Buyers can help ensure...Read More

Fixes for today’s remodeling frustrations - 07/06/2022
Dust, delays, cost over-runs. Remodeling is trying under the best of circumstances. Now, with record remodeling projects underway and continued supply snafus, it’s particularly vexing. Homeowners can benefit if they employ strategies for this unique remodeling environment, shares Kurt Clason, owner of NH-based Clason Remodeling...Read More

New vacation home loan fees complicate purchasing - 06/29/2022
Americans developed a voracious appetite for homes during the pandemic, with many going for “seconds”– sparking record high vacation home purchasing. But this March, vacation home sales dropped “sharply for the second consecutive month,” according to Redfin, although sales remain up 13% compared to...Read More

Be your own expert on whether an ARM will squeeze - 06/22/2022
More – but still a minority – of mortgage seekers are willing to gamble. The better they assess their personal risk, the less likely that they’ll regret rolling the dice. In May, some 10% of borrowers opted to trade a lower initial interest rate on an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) rather than take a higher rate that...Read More

Honest information sells homes in flood zones - 06/15/2022
Sellers aim to present their home in its best light. So, it’s only natural that if a home is in a flood zone, sellers hope that fact escapes notice. Counter-intuitively, real estate agents say buyers are reassured with information about the risks. For one thing, if an unsuspecting buyer does fall in love with the home, he’ll...Read More

Finding the space: adding an extra home in your backyard - 06/08/2022
With rents and home prices escalating ever higher, the need for affordable housing grows more pressing. But in communities across the country, many don’t want lower price homes or apartments nearby, with that sentiment so commonplace that it’s earned its own acronym, “NIMBY”. Ironically, points out Laurie...Read More

The value of outdoor rooms - 06/01/2022
Especially since the pandemic, homebuyers value kitchens, entertaining areas, and cozy places to relax. Increasingly, though, the best of these features isn’t located in one of the rooms or square footage cited in a listing – because they’re outdoors. Indeed, outdoor rooms are hard to define. For one, the cost,...Read More

Finding Your (Less Than Perfect) Dream Home - 05/25/2022
Hoping to buy a home you’ll love living in? Be prepared to sacrifice what you can live without. “I’ve seen more buyers making compromises since about February of 2021,” says Maggie Lee Wells, of Keller Williams in Franklin, TN. Now, with interest rates ticking up, but the supply of homes remaining low, real...Read More

Talk of the Town: Affordability Spurs Townhomes’ Popularity - 05/18/2022
Buyers interested in single-family homes across the country are all encountering the same problem right now: Nothing is affordable. But many are finding an acceptable alternative in a townhome, says Hunter Andre, of realty firm Baird & Warner in Chicago. Buyers earning ten to fifteen percent below the median household income in a...Read More

Ways to save on flood insurance - 05/11/2022
Homeowners purchase flood insurance because they believe it’s needed, or because their mortgage lender requires it. In either case, especially the latter, no one likes spending a lot for the protection. Just as the public perception of flooding risk is changing from the news images of disasters, experts are also reassessing...Read More

55 plus communities enjoy booming interest - 05/04/2022
Baby Boomers are now senior citizens, with the older edge in their seventies. But “they see themselves as younger,” says Deborah Blake, principal of consulting firm Ipsum Group. That mindset, along with the sheer numbers of Boomers, is driving an uptick in “55 Plus Active Adult “communities. While 55 is the...Read More

“These Mortgages Are Keepers?” - 04/20/2022
We may not hold many fond memories from the last couple of pandemic-ridden years, except for one notable exception: the record low mortgage rates. With the Federal Reserve beginning to steadily drop rates in 2020 that yearsaw an average rate of 3.11 percent on a 30-year fixed rate mortgage, and rates dipped further to their lowest level...Read More

Uphill Battle: Buying a Home Amid Rising Rates - 04/13/2022
A “pre-approval letter” is like a license to buy a home; without it, a seller won’t take a buyer seriously. A pre-approval is a statement from a specific lender on how big a mortgage loan they’ll extend. Keep in mind though that pre-approval letters have a short shelf life. After a couple of years of flat and...Read More

Old Homes for Young Buyers - 04/06/2022
Millennials born between 1981 and 1996 may crave modern, multi-functional rooms. But, according to a recent report from the government-sponsored mortgage firm, Freddie Mac, they’re likely to buy homes reminiscent of ones that were built near or before they were born. Younger Millennials purchase homes that average 41 years old,...Read More

Bigger Share of Newly Constructed Homes on the Market - 03/30/2022
This year, home seekers who do buy are more likely than ever to purchase a new home – literally. Redfin reports that in December of 2021, newly constructed homes represented a 34.1 percent share of all homes for sale, a record high. Such a big portion is new construction, primarily because there’s such a very low supply of...Read More

Winning The Home Buying Race - 03/23/2022
The housing market is now a game of musical chairs. And it’s only buyers who stake their claim before others and end up with keys to a new home. How quick did successful buyers have to be in 2021, a year with sparse listings that promises to repeat itself in 2022? The National Association of Realtors {NAR} found that it took a...Read More

“How Big a Bite of Monthly Income Should a Mortgage Take?” - 03/16/2022
Getting mortgage pre-approval is a necessary step that allows homebuyers to make a serious offer, but the total loan amount given in pre-approval can be misleading. Instead, borrowers should “work backward from that number” taking the price of the home, property taxes, and the likely homeowner insurance charges and figuring...Read More

Income Tax Wrinkles For Home-Based Employees - 03/09/2022
Pandemic-bred remote workers transformed the housing market; fleeing to suburbs and far-flung locales. Now, income tax preparation is transformed for many of these WFH employees. Specifically, remote employees who’ve relocated to a different state than the one their employer is based can face hitches on their state tax bill. And,...Read More

Home Sellers: Are You Ready For Your Close-Up? - 03/02/2022
Before it’s listed or a potential buyer steps in, sellers should pour their best effort into making their home picture-perfect. After all, when the home is photographed – usually about a week before listing – is when hundreds of potential buyers will see it. The better the home looks in online video tours and slide shows,...Read More

“Sell, Retire, Rent… Could That Work?” - 02/23/2022
High home prices are a gift to aging homeowners whose retirement nest egg is skimpy. Except that when retired owners sell and pivot to the buy-side, high prices on even much smaller homes can erode much of their sale profit. The other choice is to invest sale proceeds and rent instead of buy. “Especially with today’s...Read More

It Takes a Village: The Appeal of Master Planned Communities - 02/16/2022
It’s been a pronounced seller’s market throughout most of the country, but that’s more or less the norm for a certain segment– the “Master Planned Community” or [MPC]. Typically in suburban locations where large portions of land are available, MPCs offer a mix of housing options, as well as...Read More

What’s Affordable? Check Your Own Paycheck’s Power - 02/09/2022
Affordability is one consideration every homebuyer contends with. Whether it’s a family with $80,000 in total income or a retiree who’s amassed a multi-million dollar nest egg, certain homes are available to them only if they can swing the expense. That’s why the “affordability index” has long been a staple...Read More

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