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6 Things You’ll Love—and Hate—About Buying a Home This Spring

March 20, 2019

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Welcome to the best—and worst—time to buy a home: spring! Yes, it’s peak home-buying season. However, it’s no bed of roses.

Knowing what to expect is half the battle, and can help you use these highs and lows to your advantage!

So consider this an essential prep course. Ready to dive into the best of times and the worst of times for home buying?

You’ll love: All the inventory

One of the best things about buying a house during the spring is that you have a lot more options to choose from.

“New listings tend to flood the market in April and May,” says Kimberly Sands, a real estate broker in Carolina Beach, NC. Just keep in mind that with so much inventory out there, you’ll want to make sure to stick to your search and price parameters to avoid getting overwhelmed.

You’ll hate: All the competition

Busier times mean more buyers and, thus, more competition—which explains why bidding wars are more common during the spring, says Chris Dossman, a real estate agent with Century 21 Scheetz in Indianapolis.

As a result, you have to act fast when the right listing pops up, says Seth Lejeune, a real estate agent with Berkshire Hathaway in Collegeville, PA. Signing up for instant alerts, so you can see homes as soon as they hit the market, can help you stay a step ahead.

That being said, don’t expect a computer to do all the work for you. In hot markets, listings may be scooped up before they are even posted online, which is why most housing experts suggest working with a real estate agent throughout the home-buying process.

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Watch: Buying a Home? Here’s What Real Estate Agents Wish You Knew

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You’ll love: All the open houses

More homes on the market mean more open houses for you to attend. That’s exciting news for buyers who relish ogling homes in person. Going to more open houses means you’ll get a better feel for the neighborhood you’re interested in, while also giving you the opportunity to size up the other home buyers you’re going up against.

But with so many open houses to hit, make sure to plot out on a map the ones you want to see, with the times they’re open, in order to maximize your time.

You’ll hate: The time pressure

Great listings get snatched up quickly year-round, yet home buyers are under even more pressure when there’s more competition among buyers. You have to be prepared to make an offer fast, since indecision could potentially cost you your dream home. That’s why it’s crucial to zero in on what type of home you’re looking to buy and what your price range is before you start seriously looking, Dossman says.

Moreover, you should get pre-approved for a mortgage before you start your home search. Plus, having a letter from a mortgage stating that you’ve been pre-approved for a loan will speak volumes to a home seller, says Linda Sanderfoot, a real estate agent at Coldwell Banker in Neenah, WI.

“Sellers want reassurance that you’ll be able to obtain a home loan,” says Sanderfoot, “otherwise the deal can fall through.”

You’ll love: Shopping in warmer weather

You can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that the season’s warmer weather makes for a more enjoyable house hunting experience. After all, who enjoys trudging through snow or suffering through cold weather to look at houses? No one! Also, clearer skies and warmer temps make for better moving conditions.

You’ll hate: Higher prices

Home buyers generally have more wiggle room to make lowball offers during the slower seasons, since there’s less competition. However, buyers have less negotiating power during the spring. Therefore, “be prepared to pay full list price for a house, assuming it’s been priced at fair market value,” says Lejeune.

Also, if possible, be prepared to offer a seller something that other buyers won’t, such as a longer closing period or a rent-back agreement so that the seller has extra days to move out. This is where having a great buyer’s agent comes in; a savvy agent will talk to a listing agent to find out what the seller is looking for—giving you the ability to make a more attractive bid.

The bottom line

Spring home-buying season has its pros and cons, but by preparing for them you’ll be in a much better position to clinch your dream home. And, if you don’t manage to buy a house this spring, summer is still a great time to buy a house, too.

The post 6 Things You’ll Love—and Hate—About Buying a Home This Spring appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

5 Big Reasons to Sell Your Home This Year (Because It Could Get Tougher)

February 20, 2019

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It’s no secret that life’s been pretty good to sellers for the past several years. Even if you had no need—or desire—to move, the housing landscape might have seriously tempted you to put your house on the market anyway. After all, it’s hard not to see visions of dollar signs when your neighbors are unloading their homes for tens of thousands over asking price.

But as they say, all good things must come to an end. And you’ve probably heard that the white-hot housing market of years past is finally beginning to cool.

So if you haven’t listed your home before now, did you miss the boat? Absolutely not. But with each passing month, the experts say, you can expect the housing climate to shift a bit more in buyers’ favor.

“It’s definitely still a seller’s market in most of the country. But it’s not the same seller’s market that you saw in the last couple of years,” says Danielle Hale, chief economist of realtor.com®. “You might have to think about how your home compares to the competition that buyers are going to see when they’re shopping. And you might have to price a little bit more competitively, or think about other enticements to attract buyers.”

There’s still a chance to cash in for top dollar, though, if you move quickly. Here are the biggest reasons to sell ASAP in 2019.

1. You won’t be the only listing for long

The top reason sellers have been in the catbird seat for the past several years? Inventory. There simply weren’t enough homes on the market to keep up with buyer demand. And when a “For Sale” sign did go up, you can bet a bidding war would soon follow.

“You might have been the only listing in your neighborhood, and you could put your home up at a certain list price and you would be likely to see multiple offers at or above that list price,” Hale explains.

That tide is turning this year, Hale says. That’s because the number of homes for sale is finally increasing, albeit slowly. For now, buyers still outnumber inventory. But if you’re thinking about selling and don’t want to compete with your neighbors, it’ll pay off (literally) to list earlier rather than later. (This is particularly true in pricier markets, where inventory is increasing at a faster rate than more affordable areas.)

“It’s going to depend on what neighborhood you’re in, but we expect it to be more common this year that you won’t be the only listing,” Hale says.

2. You still stand to make a ‘handsome profit’

Home prices have been on a meteoric rise for the past seven years. In January 2012, the U.S. median home price was $154,700. Today, that figure has nearly doubled—to $289,300—and sellers have rejoiced.

Now comes a twist: 15% of all home listings saw price cuts in January, according to realtor.com data.

That might sound like bad news if you’re thinking of selling. But hear us out: Those moderating prices, combined with today’s mortgage rates (more on that below), mean increased buyer demand for your house.

Plus, it’s not that home prices aren’t still increasing—they’re just not increasing at the frenzied pace of previous years, which often featured multiple offers at or above asking price, Hale says. So even though you might have some more competition as a seller, things are still looking pretty sweet for you when it comes to cold, hard cash.

“Even if you don’t get an offer above your asking price, you’re probably still going to come away with a handsome profit from being a seller in 2019,” Hale says.

But again, it’ll pay to put your home on the market as soon as you can—before conditions change.

“Sellers who list their homes earlier in the year tend to get a higher sales price, often above list, and shorter days on market,” says Ali Wolf, director of economic research at Meyers Research.

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Watch: This Totally Ordinary House Sold for $782K Over Asking (Yes, You Read That Right)

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3. There’s high demand for homes under $300K

There’s more good news if you own a home below the national median price of $289,300. Not only is that inventory increasing at a slower rate than its luxury counterparts, but there are more buyers shopping at those price points.

“If you’re a below-median-price seller, you will see a seller’s market that is as good as what you saw in previous years—maybe even better,” Hale says. “You might still see multiple offers coming in quickly, maybe even above asking price.”

4. Mortgage rates are at a new low

Something strange has been happening over the past few months. Experts predicted mortgage rates would rise—and at the end of 2018, they were indeed ticking upward as expected.

But since the start of the year, rates on a 30-year fixed mortgage (the most popular home loan) have been falling, sliding last week to a new 12-month low of 4.37%. And of course, those historically low mortgage rates mean you stand to have more buyers knocking on your door.

Plus, this temporary dip in rates creates an opportunity for trade-up buyers as well. After all, if you’re selling your home, there’s a good chance you’ll need to buy another one.

Bottom line: Now’s the time to hustle and get both transactions done.

“Sellers need to take advantage of low rates as much as buyers do,” Wolf says. “Sellers don’t want to get stuck in their homes when rates go up and the math no longer makes sense to move.”

5. Millennials are flooding the market

Historically speaking, people tend to buy their first home around age 30. And guess what? We’ve got a whole bunch of people turning 30 in the next two years—nearly 5 million, in fact, according to realtor.com data. So you can count on those millennials to be a driving force in the housing market.

“Millennials want to own a home as much as prior generations,” Wolf says. “We saw millennial shoppers scooping up homes in 2018—and 2019 will be no different.”

What’s more, Hale adds, is that you won’t just be seeing demand from first-time buyers. Older millennials in their middle to late 30s have already owned a home for a few years, and could be looking at now as a prime time to trade up.

“From a seller’s perspective, you’re going to have possibly more interested buyers,” Hale says. “So that’s motivation to put your house on the market.”

The post 5 Big Reasons to Sell Your Home This Year (Because It Could Get Tougher) appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

6 Reasons Why Selling a House in the Winter May Be the Best Decision Ever

October 9, 2018

Spring is generally the most popular time of year to sell a house, with hordes of buyers looking to move into a new place before the school year begins. But if you decide to sell your home during the winter, experts say you could reap a reward in cold, hard cash.

“I have personally had my best months in real estate during the holiday season, so the idea that the markets are very tough to sell in the winter might be a myth,” says Emil Hartoonian, managing partner of The Agency in Beverly Hills, CA.

He’s not the only one who believes selling in the winter can make you a real estate winner. Read on for the top reasons why you should consider unloading when the temperatures drop.

1. Low inventory = less competition

Since spring is the most popular home-selling season, the housing market is ultracrowded with options at that time of year. And if you paid attention during Econ 101, you understand the law of supply and demand.

“Most sellers still think they need to sell in the spring, but that means there is more competition for buyers’ attention,” says Matt Van Winkle, founder of Re/Max Northwest in Seattle.

But in the winter, there are fewer homes for sale. That competition over low inventory can make winter an ideal time to sell your home.

“In the Atlanta market, January is one of the strongest months for homes to go under contract,” says Ally May of Atlanta Fine Homes Sotheby’s.

2. You get to show your home’s winter-readiness

Selling in the winter also gives you the opportunity to show that a home is designed to handle the harsh elements.

“Sellers in places like Lake Tahoe can show off features like a south-facing driveway to speed up snow melting, how snow will fall off of a roof, a short driveway that will minimize shoveling or plowing, heat tape on the north side of the roof to avoid snow accumulation, and how recently the roof and furnace have been replaced,” says Sandy Soli, regional manager at Engel & Volkers in Lake Tahoe, NV.

Plus, during winter months, homes with features like fireplaces and hot tubs are certainly more appealing.

3. New parents may be looking to upgrade

The baby boom in September may lead to more buyers later in the year. According to data from the Center for Health Statistics and the Social Security Administration, there are more birthdays in the month of September than any other time of the year. Therefore, there’s likely to be a crop of growing families looking to buy a larger house.

“Once baby is home and settled, these parents may want to start the year in a new, and more spacious, family home,” according to Melissa Temple, real estate adviser and partner at Engel & Volkers in Aspen, CO.

4. Winter brings out the serious buyers

News flash: Not everyone looking at houses intends to make a purchase. Some people are contemplating moving and may just want to see what’s on the market. Since more homes tend to go on the market in spring and fall, this is also when window shoppers are likely to be out looking.

However, these looky-loos tend to be scarce during winter months, according to Jennifer Baldinger, licensed associate real estate broker at Julia B. Fee Sotheby’s International Realty in Scarsdale, NY.

“When I have buyers looking for homes in January and February, they’re real buyers looking to make a purchase—especially if it’s a great house. They don’t want to take the chance of waiting until spring and losing out on the home,” Baldinger says.

“There may be less people at these open houses, but I would rather have 10 real buyers come through than 20 people who are just curious,” she says.

5. Year-end financial bonuses and payouts

As a seller, year-end performance reviews could mean that more people have money to spend on a home.

“End-of-year financial bonuses or workers retiring with large payouts could mean opportunities for these buyers to upgrade their living situations or for first-time buyers to enter the housing market,” says Robert Taylor, owner of the Real Estate Solutions Guy, in Sacramento, CA.

6. Corporate relocation

You could also encounter buyers who are relocating for a job.

“One of the biggest months for corporate relocation is January/February, so those buyers, who need to move quickly, are out in full force looking for new homes,” Baldinger says.

Relocators typically have a limited amount of time to uproot their families and, as a result, don’t have the luxury of spending a lot of time looking at properties. The kids need to get settled into school, and dealing with selling their old home can add another level of urgency and stress. So it’s likely that once they find a home that meets their requirements, these buyers will be ready to sign on the dotted line.

The post 6 Reasons Why Selling a House in the Winter May Be the Best Decision Ever appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.