Why a Real Estate Professional Is Key When Selling Your House

Why a Real Estate Professional Is Key When Selling Your House | Simplifying The Market

With today’s real estate market moving as fast as it is, working with a real estate professional is more essential than ever. They have the skills, experience, and expertise it takes to navigate the highly detailed and involved process of selling a home. That may be why the percentage of people who list their houses on their own, known as a FSBO or For Sale By Owner, has reached its lowest point since 1985 (see graph below):

Why a Real Estate Professional Is Key When Selling Your House | Simplifying The Market

Here are five reasons why selling with a real estate professional makes more sense, even in today’s hot market:

1. They Know What Buyers Want To See

Before you decide which projects and repairs to take on, connect with a real estate professional. They have first-hand experience with today’s buyers, what they expect, and what you need to do to make sure your house shows well.

If you don’t lean on their expertise, you may spend your time and money on something that isn’t essential. That’s because, in today’s low-inventory market, buyers are willing to take on more of the renovation work themselves. A survey from Freddie Mac finds that:

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

A professional can help you decide what you need to tackle. It’s not canned advice you could find online – it’s recommendations specific to your house and your area.

2. They Help Maximize Your Buyer Pool

Today, the average home is getting 4.8 offers per sale according to recent data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), and that competition is pushing prices up. While that’s promising for you as a seller, it’s important to understand your agent’s role in bringing buyers in.

Real estate professionals have an assortment of tools at their disposal, such as social media followers, agency resources, and the MLS to ensure your house is viewed by the most buyers. According to realtor.com:

Only licensed real estate agents can list homes on the MLS, which is a one-stop online shop of sorts for getting a house seen by thousands of agents and home buyers. . . . This is certainly one of many good reasons why the majority of home sellers decide to employ the services of a listing agent rather than going it alone.”

Without access to these tools, your buyer pool is limited. And you want more buyers to view your house since buyer competition can drive your final sales price higher.

3. They Understand the Fine Print

Today, more disclosures and regulations are mandatory when selling a house. That means the number of legal documents you’ll need to juggle is growing. That’s why Investopedia says:

One of the biggest risks of FSBO is not having the experience or expertise to navigate all of the legal and regulatory requirements that come with selling a home.”

A real estate professional knows exactly what needs to happen, what all the paperwork means, and how to work through it efficiently. They’ll help you review the documents and avoid any costly missteps that could occur if you try to handle them on your own.

4. They’re Trained Negotiators

If you sell without a professional, you’ll also be solely responsible for all the negotiations. That means you’ll have to coordinate with:

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

Instead of going toe-to-toe with all these parties alone, lean on an expert. They’ll know what levers to pull, how to address everyone’s concerns, and when you may want to get a second opinion.

5. They Know How To Set the Right Price for Your House

If you sell your house on your own, you may over or undershoot your asking price. That could mean you’ll leave money on the table because you priced it too low or your house will sit on the market because you priced it too high. Pricing a house requires expertise. Investopedia explains it like this:

. . . There is no easy or universal way to determine market value for real estate.

Real estate professionals know the ins and outs of how to price your house accurately and competitively. To do so, they compare your house to recently sold homes in your area and factor in the current condition of your house. These factors are key to making sure it’s priced to move quickly while still getting you the highest possible final sale price.

Bottom Line

There’s a lot that goes into selling your house. Instead of tackling it alone, let’s connect so you have an expert on your side throughout the entire process.

Using Your Tax Refund To Achieve Your Homeownership Goals This Year

Using Your Tax Refund To Achieve Your Homeownership Goals This Year | Simplifying The Market

If you’re buying or selling a home this year, you’re likely saving up for a variety of expenses. For buyers, that might include things like your down payment and closing costs. And for sellers, you’re probably working on a bit of spring cleaning and maintenance to spruce up your house before you list it.

Either way, any money you get back from your taxes can help you achieve your goals. Using a tax refund is a common tactic for buyers and sellers. SmartAsset estimates the average American will receive a $2,897 tax refund this year. The map below provides a more detailed estimate by state:

Using Your Tax Refund To Achieve Your Homeownership Goals This Year | Simplifying The Market

If you’re getting a refund this year, here are a few tips to help with your home purchase or sale this season.

How Buyers Can Use Their Tax Refund

According to American Financing, there are multiple ways your refund check can help you as a homebuyer. A few include:

  • Growing your down payment fund – If you haven’t started saving for your down payment, let your tax refund kick off the process. And if you have a fund already, the money you get back could put you closer to your goal.
  • Paying for your home inspection – Your home inspection can save you a lot of headaches down the road by helping you determine the condition of the house. As a buyer, you’ll typically be responsible for paying for your inspection, and it’s definitely worth the investment.
  • Saving for closing costsClosing costs are additional expenses you’ll need to pay once it’s time to close. They average anywhere between 2-5% of the purchase price of your home.

This list is a great start, but it isn’t exhaustive of all the costs you may encounter as you set out on your homebuying journey. The best way to prepare is to work with a trusted real estate professional to make sure you understand what’s to come in the process.

How Sellers Can Use Their Tax Refund

If you own a home and are planning to sell this spring, your tax refund can help you make sure your home is ready to list. Here are a few ways current homeowners can put their tax refund to good use:

  • Making small upgrades NerdWallet provides a list of great ways to use your tax refund, including tackling small projects or boosting your curb appeal to help your home stand out.
  • Making repairs – If there’s anything in your house that needs to be fixed, American Financing notes that completing repairs is another great use of that money.
  • Buying your next home – Whether you’re selling to move up or downsize, you can use your tax refund to help pay for any costs on the purchase of your next home.

Of course, it’s important to talk with your trusted real estate advisor before taking on any projects. They’ll make sure you can focus on areas that’ll help you receive the best possible price when you sell.

Bottom Line

Funding your home purchase or sale can feel like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. Your tax refund can help you reach your goals. Let’s connect to discuss how you can start on your journey.

Do You Know How Much Equity You Have in Your Home? [INFOGRAPHIC]

Do You Know How Much Equity You Have in Your Home? [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Do You Know How Much Equity You Have in Your Home? [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Some Highlights

  • If you’re a homeowner, your net worth has gotten a big boost. That’s because recent home price appreciation has increased your equity.
  • Your equity grows as you pay down your loan and as your home increases in value. Over the past year, the average homeowner’s equity grew by $55,300.
  • Ready to sell? Let’s connect to talk about how you can use that equity to fuel your next move.

The Future of Home Price Appreciation and What It Means for You

The Future of Home Price Appreciation and What It Means for You | Simplifying The Market

Many consumers are wondering what will happen with home values over the next few years. Some are concerned that the recent run-up in home prices will lead to a situation similar to the housing crash 15 years ago.

However, experts say the market is totally different today. For example, Odeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist at First American, tweeted just last week on this issue:

“. . . We do need price appreciation to slow today (it’s not sustainable over the long run) but high price growth today is supported by fundamentals- short supply, lower rates & demographic demand. And we are in a much different & safer space: better credit quality, low DTI [Debt-To-Income] & tons of equity. Hence, a crash in prices is very unlikely.”

Price appreciation will slow from the double-digit levels the market has seen over the last two years. However, experts believe home values will not depreciate (where a home would lose value).

To this point, Pulsenomics just released the latest Home Price Expectation Survey – a survey of a national panel of over 100 economists, real estate experts, and investment and market strategists. It forecasts home prices will continue appreciating over the next five years. Below are the expected year-over-year rates of home price appreciation based on the average of all 100+ projections:

  • 2022: 9%
  • 2023: 4.74%
  • 2024: 3.67%
  • 2025: 3.41%
  • 2026: 3.57%

Those responding to the survey believe home price appreciation will still be relatively high this year (though half of what it was last year), and then return to more normal levels over the next four years.

What Does This Mean for You as a Buyer?

With a limited supply of homes available for sale and both prices and mortgage rates increasing, it can be a challenging market to navigate as a buyer. But buying a home sooner rather than later does have its benefits. If you wait to buy, you’ll pay more in the future. However, if you buy now, you’ll actually be in the position to make future price increases work for you. Once you buy, those rising home prices will help you build your home’s value, and by extension, your own household wealth through home equity.

As an example, let’s assume you purchased a $360,000 home in January of this year (the median price according to the National Association of Realtors rounded up to the nearest $10K). If you factor in the forecast for appreciation from the Home Price Expectation Survey, you could accumulate over $96,000 in household wealth over the next five years (see graph below):

The Future of Home Price Appreciation and What It Means for You | Simplifying The Market

Bottom Line

If you’re trying to decide whether to buy now or wait, the key is knowing what’s expected to happen with home prices. Experts say prices will continue to climb in the years ahead, just at a slower pace. So, if you’re ready to buy, doing so now may be your best bet for your wallet. It’ll also give you the chance to use the future home price appreciation to build your own net worth through rising equity. If you want to get started, let’s connect today.

Remote Work Trends Mean Flexibility for First-Time Homebuyers

Remote Work Trends Mean Flexibility for First-Time Homebuyers | Simplifying The Market

Today’s low inventory can be challenging for homebuyers, especially if you’re looking to purchase your first home. But if you’re one of many people who work remotely, you may have a great opportunity to use the flexibility you have at work to achieve your homebuying goals this year.

In a recent report, Arch Capital Services explains how the ongoing trend of remote work can open up more options for homebuyers:

“. . . This will enable those who are able to work from home on a part-time or hybrid basis to move slightly farther away from job centers. . . . For workers who secure full-time remote jobs, their place of residence will be determined by affordability and personal preferences.”

Basically, working from home is great news if you’re a first-time buyer trying to find a home that meets your needs and budget. Here’s a deeper look at how it could benefit you.

Extra Flexibility in Your Career Means Extra Flexibility in Your Home Search

If your job is 100% remote, you don’t have to be tied to a specific location or office. So, if you’ve been having a hard time finding what you want in your local area, it may be time to expand your search.

One option you could consider is moving to a place where you’ve always wanted to live, like the mountains, beach, or closer to loved ones. When you broaden your search radius to include those locations, it’ll give you additional homes to consider.

It could also allow you to search for a more affordable location where you have more options in your price range. This can help you achieve two goals – saving money and finding additional features that meet your needs. To truly highlight this benefit, a recent First American article discusses the great ways remote work can really help you with your homebuying goals. Ksenia Potapov, Economist at First American, says:

“For potential first-time home buyers, leveraging their house-buying power in more affordable markets can also help them buy more attractive homes – more square footage and rooms, more options for different home styles and neighborhood amenities – increasing the opportunity to find a home that suits their preferences.”

That means you can use your work flexibility to search for homes with the amenities you need at a lower price point.

Bottom Line

Remote work doesn’t just give you expanded flexibility for your career. If you’re no longer tied to a location because of your office, you have a great opportunity to expand your housing search. Let’s connect to explore how this can open up your options.

What You Need To Budget for When Buying a Home

What You Need To Budget for When Buying a Home | Simplifying The Market

When it comes to buying a home, it can feel a bit intimidating to know how much you need to save and where to find that information. But you should know, you’re not expected to have all the answers yourself. There are many trusted professionals who can help you understand your finances and what you’ll need to budget for throughout the process.

To get you started, here are a few things experts say you should plan for along the way.

1. Down Payment

As you set your savings goal for your purchase, your down payment is likely already top of mind. And, like many other people, you may believe you need to set aside 20% of the home’s purchase price for that down payment – but that’s not always the case. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) says:

One of the biggest misconceptions among housing consumers is what the typical down payment is and what amount is needed to enter homeownership. Having this knowledge is critical to know what to save . . .”

The good news is, you may be able to put as little as 3.5% (or even 0%) down in some situations. To understand your options, partner with a trusted professional who can go over the various loan types, down payment assistance programs, and what each one requires.

2. Earnest Money Deposit

Another item you may want to plan for is an earnest money deposit. While it isn’t required, it’s common in today’s highly competitive market because it can help your offer stand out in a bidding war.

So, what is it? It’s money you pay as a show of good faith when you make an offer on a house. This deposit works like a credit. You’re using some of the money you already saved for your purchase to show the seller you’re committed and serious about their house. It’s not an added expense, it’s just paying some of that up front. First American explains what it is and how it works:

The deposit made from the buyer to the seller when submitting an offer. This deposit is typically held in trust by a third party and is intended to show the seller you are serious about purchasing their home. Upon closing the money will generally be applied to your down payment or closing costs.”

In other words, an earnest money deposit could be the very first check you’ll write toward your purchase. The amount varies by state and situation. Realtor.com elaborates:

The amount you’ll deposit as earnest money will depend on factors such as policies and limitations in your state, the current market, what your real estate agent recommends, and what the seller requires. On average, however, you can expect to hand over 1% to 2% of the total home purchase price.”

Work with a real estate advisor to understand any requirements in your local area and what they’ve recommended for other buyers in your market. They’ll help you determine if it’s something that could be a useful option for you.

3. Closing Costs

The next thing to plan for is your closing costs. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) defines closing costs as:

The upfront fees charged in connection with a mortgage loan transaction. …generally including, but not limited to a loan origination fee, title examination and insurance, survey, attorney’s fee, and prepaid items, such as escrow deposits for taxes and insurance.”

Basically, your closing costs cover the fees for various people and services involved in your transaction. NAR has this to say about how much to budget for:

“A home costs more than just the sale price. For example, closing costs—which make up about 2% to 5% of the home’s purchase price—are a major added expense…Lenders provide a Closing Disclosure at least three business days prior to closing on a mortgage. But buyers will need to budget for these added costs ahead of time to avoid sticker shock days before closing.”

The key takeaway is savvy buyers plan ahead for these expenses so they can come into the process prepared. Freddie Mac sums it up like this:

“If you’re in the market to buy a home, your down payment is probably top of mind. And rightly so – it’s likely the biggest cost of homebuying. However, it is not the only cost and it’s critical you understand all your expenses before diving in. The more prepared you are for your down payment, closing and other costs, the smoother your homebuying journey will be.”

Bottom Line

Knowing what to budget for in the homebuying process is essential. To make sure you understand these and any other expenses that may come up, let’s connect so you have reliable expertise on what to expect when you buy a home.

Balancing Your Wants and Needs as a Homebuyer Today

Balancing Your Wants and Needs as a Homebuyer Today | Simplifying The Market

Since the number of homes for sale is low today, it can feel challenging to find one that checks all your boxes. But if you know which features are absolutely essential in your next home and which ones are just nice bonuses, you can land a home that fits your needs.

Danielle Hale, Chief Economist for realtor.com, explains it like this:

“Focus on the goal you set out for yourself, like your list of must-haves and nice-to-haves and your budget, . . . Stick to that. Be persistent.”

So how do you go about creating your list of desired features? The first step is to get pre-approved for your mortgage. Pre-approval helps you better understand your budget, and that plays an important role in how you’ll craft your list. After all, you don’t want to fall in love with a home that’s too far out of reach.

Once you have a good grasp of your budget, you can begin to list all the features of a home you would like. Here’s a great way to think about them before you begin:

  • Must-Haves – If a house doesn’t have these features, it won’t work for you and your lifestyle (examples: distance from work or loved ones, number of bedrooms/bathrooms, etc.).
  • Nice-To-Haves – These are features that you’d love to have but can live without. Nice-To-Haves aren’t dealbreakers, but if you find a home that hits all the must-haves and some of the these, it’s a contender (examples: a second home office, garage, etc.).
  • Dream State– This is where you can really think big. Again, these aren’t features you’ll need, but if you find a home in your budget that has all the must-haves, most of the nice-to-haves, and any of these, it’s a clear winner (examples: farmhouse sink, multiple walk-in closets, etc.).

Finally, once you’ve created your list and categorized it in a way that works for you, discuss it with your real estate advisor. They’ll be able to help you refine the list further, coach you through the best way to stick to it, and find a home in your area that meets your needs.

Bottom Line

Crafting your home search checklist may seem like a small task, but it can save you time and money. It’s also one of the keys to being successful in today’s competitive market. Let’s connect so we can work together to find a home that fits your wants and needs.

What’s Happening with Mortgage Rates, and Where Will They Go from Here?

What’s Happening with Mortgage Rates, and Where Will They Go from Here? | Simplifying The Market

Based on the Primary Mortgage Market Survey from Freddie Mac, the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage has increased by 1.2% (3.22% to 4.42%) since January of this year. The rate jumped by more than a quarter of a point from just a week ago. Here’s a visual to show how mortgage rate movement throughout 2021 was steady compared to the rapid increase in mortgage rates this year:

What’s Happening with Mortgage Rates, and Where Will They Go from Here? | Simplifying The Market

Just a few months ago, Freddie Mac projected mortgage rates would average 3.6% in 2022. Earlier this month, Fannie Mae forecast mortgage rates would average 3.8% in 2022. As the chart above shows, rates have already surpassed those projections.

Sam Khater, Chief Economist at Freddie Mac, explained in a press release last week:

“This week, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage increased by more than a quarter of a percent as mortgage rates across all loan types continued to move up. Rising inflation, escalating geopolitical uncertainty and the Federal Reserve’s actions are driving rates higher and weakening consumers’ purchasing power.”

Where Are Mortgage Rates Going from Here?

In a recent article by Bankrate, several industry experts weighed in on where rates might be headed going forward. Here are some of their forecasts:

Greg McBride, Chief Financial Analyst, Bankrate:

“With inflation figures continuing to surprise to the upside, mortgage rates will remain above 4.0% on the 30-year fixed.”

Nadia Evangelou, Senior Economist and Director of Forecasting, National Association of Realtors (NAR):

“While higher short-term interest rates will push up mortgage rates, I expect some of this impact to be mitigated eventually through lower inflation. Thus, I expect the 30-year fixed mortgage rate to continue to rise, although we aren’t likely to see the big jumps that occurred over the past few weeks.”

Len Kiefer, Deputy Chief Economist, Freddie Mac:

“Mortgage rates are likely to continue to move higher throughout the balance of 2022, although the pace of rate increases is likely to moderate.”

In a recent realtor.com article, another expert adds to the conversation:

Danielle Hale, Chief Economist, realtor.com:

“. . . As markets digest the Fed’s updated economic projections, I anticipate a continued increase in mortgage rates over the next several months. . . .”

What Does This Mean for You if You’re Looking To Buy a Home?

With both mortgage rates and home values expected to increase throughout the year, it would be better to buy sooner rather than later if you’re able. That’s because it’ll cost you more the longer you wait. But, there is a possible silver lining to buying a home right now. While you’ll be paying a higher price and a higher mortgage rate than you would have last year, rising prices do have a long-term benefit once you buy.

If you purchase a home today valued at $400,000 and put 10% down, you would be taking out a $360,000 mortgage. According to mortgagecalculator.net, at a 4.42% fixed mortgage rate, your mortgage payment would be $1,807 a month (this does not include insurance, taxes, and other fees because those vary by location).

Now, let’s put that mortgage payment into a new perspective based on the substantial growth in equity that comes with the escalation in home prices. Every quarter, Pulsenomics surveys a panel of over 100 economists, investment strategists, and housing market analysts about their expectations for future home prices in the United States. Last week, Pulsenomics released their latest Home Price Expectation Survey. The survey reveals that the average of the experts’ forecasts calls for a 9% increase in home values in 2022.

Based on those projections, a $400,000 house you buy today could be valued at $436,000 by this time next year. If you break that down, that means the equity in your home would increase by $3,000 a month over that period. That’s greater than the estimated monthly payment above. Granted, the increase in your net worth is tied to the home, but it is one way to put the home price appreciation to use in a way that benefits you.

Bottom Line

Paying a higher price for a home and a higher mortgage rate can be a difficult pill to swallow. However, waiting will just cost you more. If you’re ready, willing, and able to buy a home, now will be a better time than a year, or even six months from now. Let’s connect to begin the process today.

The Best Week To List Your House Is Just Around the Corner

The Best Week To List Your House Is Just Around the Corner | Simplifying The Market

Are you thinking about selling your house? If so, you may want to make it a priority to start the process soon. According to realtor.com, the sweet spot for sellers is just around the corner. In a recent study, experts analyzed housing market trends by looking at data from the past several years (excluding 2020, since it was an atypical year). When applied to the current market, experts determined the ideal week to list a house this year. The research says:

“Home sellers on the fence waiting for that perfect moment to sell should start preparations, because the best time to list a home in 2022 is approaching quickly. The week of April 10-16 is expected to have the ideal balance of housing market conditions that favor home sellers, more so than any other week in the year.”

If you’ve been putting your move on the back burner waiting for the ideal time to sell, you should know your golden window of opportunity is coming up. If you’re able to get your house ready quickly, here’s what you can expect from that week.

You Should See More Buyer Activity

The article expects higher buyer demand based on what’s happened in previous years. This could result in increased competition among buyers and ultimately a bidding war over your house. And since mortgage rates recently ticked up over 4%, chances are good that analysis is right. When rates rise, experts say buyers often hurry to make their purchase before rates climb higher. As Nadia Evangelou, Senior Economist and Director of Forecasting at the National Association of Realtors (NAR), says:

“. . . Buyers are rushing to lock in lower rates as the outlook is for even higher mortgage rates in the following months.”

Your House Is Expected To Sell Quickly

Additionally, the realtor.com analysis shows houses sell even faster during this week of the year, likely due to the heightened buyer demand. If you work with a trusted real estate professional to price your house right, it should sell quickly. And when homes are already selling in just 18 days according to NAR, that could set you up for a big win.

Your House Will Be in the Spotlight

Since the beginning of the year, the number of homes available for sale has been at or near record lows. According to the realtor.com study, the typical trend for this week of the year is that there will be even fewer sellers on the market. If you list when inventory is low, your house will be the center of attention for eager buyers craving options.

If you’re ready to move fast, you may want to shoot for April 10th-16th as your target goal. Just remember, even if you’re not ready to list within the next couple of weeks, rest assured this is still a hot sellers’ market. If you list later in April, you’ll still be in the driver’s seat.

Bottom Line

Ready to get the ball rolling? Let’s connect and schedule a time to go over your next steps. In the meantime, make a checklist of things you need to tackle to get your house ready. When we talk, we can prioritize your to-do list and get you on the road to selling your house.

A Key To Building Wealth Is Homeownership

A Key To Building Wealth Is Homeownership | Simplifying The Market

The link between financial security and homeownership is especially important today as inflation rises.  But many people may not realize just how much owning a home contributes to your overall net worth. As Leslie Rouda Smith, President of the National Association of Realtors (NAR), says:

“Homeownership is rewarding in so many ways and can serve as a vital component in achieving financial stability.”

Here are just a few reasons why, if you’re looking to increase your financial stability, homeownership is a worthwhile goal.

Owning a Home Is a Building Block for Financial Success

A recent NAR report details several homeownership trends and statistics, including the difference in net worth between homeowners and renters. It finds:

“. . . the net worth of a homeowner was about $300,000 while that of a renter’s was $8,000 in 2021.”

To put that into perspective, the average homeowner’s net worth is roughly 40 times that of a renter (see visual below):

A Key To Building Wealth Is Homeownership | Simplifying The Market

The results from this report show that owning a home is a key piece to the puzzle when building your overall net worth.

Equity Gains Can Substantially Boost a Homeowner’s Net Worth

The net worth gap between owners and renters exists in large part because homeowners build equity. As a homeowner, your equity grows as your home appreciates in value and you make your mortgage payments each month.

In other words, when you own your home, you have the benefit of your mortgage payment acting as a contribution to a forced savings account. And when you sell, any equity you’ve built up comes back to you. As a renter, you’ll never see a return on the money you pay out in rent every month.

To sum it up, NAR says it simply:

“Homeownership has always been an important way to build wealth.”

Bottom Line

The gap between a homeowner’s net worth and a renter’s shows how truly foundational homeownership is to wealth-building. If you’re ready to start on your journey to homeownership, let’s connect today.