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Top 5 Reasons to Hire a Real Estate Professional When Buying or Selling!

Whether you are buying or selling a home it can be quite the adventure, which is why you need an experienced real estate professional to guide you on the path to achieving your ultimate goal. But in this world of instant gratification and internet searches, many sellers think that they can ‘For Sale by Owner’ or ‘FSBO.’

The 5 reasons you NEED a real estate professional in your corner haven’t changed but have rather been strengthened by the projections of higher mortgage interest rates & home prices as the market continues to pick up steam.

1. What do you do with all this paperwork?

Each state has different regulations regarding the contracts required for a successful sale, and these regulations are constantly changing. A true real estate professional is an expert in his or her market and can guide you through the stacks of paperwork necessary to make your dream a reality.

2. Ok, so you found your dream house, now what?

There are over 180 possible steps that need to take place during every successful real estate transaction. Don’t you want someone who has been there before, someone who knows what these actions are, to make sure that you achieve your dream?

3. Are you a good negotiator?

So maybe you’re not convinced that you need an agent to sell your home. After looking at the list of parties that you will need to be prepared to negotiate with, you’ll soon realize the value in selecting a real estate professional. From the buyers (who want the best deals possible), to the home inspection companies, all the way to the appraisers, there are at least 11 different people who you will need to be knowledgeable of, and answer to, during the process.

4. What is the home you’re buying/selling really worth?

It is important for your home to be priced correctly from the start to attract the right buyers and shorten the amount of time that it’s on the market. You need someone who is not emotionally connected to your home to give you the truth as to your home’s value. According to a study by Collateral Analytics, FSBOs achieve prices significantly lower than those from similar properties sold by real estate agents:

“FSBOs tend to sell for lower prices than comparable home sales, and in many cases below the average differential represented by the prevailing commission rate.”

Get the most out of your transaction by hiring a professional.

5. Do you know what’s really going on in the market?

There is so much information out there on the news and on the internet about home sales, prices, and mortgage rates; how do you know what’s going on specifically in your area? Who do you turn to in order to competitively and correctly price your home at the beginning of the selling process? How do you know what to offer on your dream home without paying too much, or offending the seller with a lowball offer?

Dave Ramsey, the financial guru, advises:

“When getting help with money, whether it’s insurance, real estate or investments, you should always look for someone with the heart of a teacher, not the heart of a salesman.”

Hiring an agent who has his or her finger on the pulse of the market will make your buying or selling experience an educated one. You need someone who is going to tell you the truth, not just what they think you want to hear.

Bottom Line

You wouldn’t replace the engine in your car without a trusted mechanic, so why would you make one of the most important financial decisions of your life without hiring a real estate professional?


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Should I Wait Until Next Year to Buy? Or Buy Now? [INFOGRAPHIC]

Some Highlights:

  • The Cost of Waiting to Buy is defined as the additional funds it would take to buy a home if prices & interest rates were to increase over a period of time.
  • Freddie Mac predicts interest rates to rise to 5.1% by 2019.
  • CoreLogic predicts home prices to appreciate by 4.3% over the next 12 months.
  • If you are ready and willing to buy your dream home, find out if you are able to!

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Calm Down! The Real Estate Market is NOT Falling Apart

There has been tremendous volatility in certain markets over the last few weeks (for example, the stock and currency markets). When this happens, some tend to lump all of their investments together and create an almost ‘Armageddon’ scenario where everything loses value quickly and dramatically. Real estate is an investment that can get caught up in this hysteria. Does the concern about the current housing market have merit?

Financial advisors have been warning us for months that the stock market was ripe for a “correction.”

Experts have been questioning the value of alternative currencies for over a year.

In contrast, here are the opinions of three major players in the residential housing market:

Ralph DeFranco, Chief Economist, Arch Capital Services Inc.

“It’s premature to worry about a housing bubble. The typical warning signs – excessive debt levels, poor quality loans, exponentially increasing home prices, rising vacancy rates and/or poor affordability compared to the past, and a high number of internet searches on house flipping – are not present.”

Liu-Down, Genworth Chief Economist

“My thoughts on many recent discussions of ‘housing bubble’ – the bar for a housing bubble is higher than just prices being above some fundamental value. There must be widespread behavior change as well such as higher levels of fraud and speculation.”

Fitch Report

“US home prices are on track for a 5% nominal gain for the 4th consecutive year, returning national prices to their highest level since 2007. The growth has been driven by historically low mortgage rates and unemployment plus solid population and personal income growth rates…a meaningful correction should only be triggered by an unexpected economic shock.”

Bottom Line

Speculation has driven certain markets over the last year. However, it has not been speculation, but instead people’s desire for homeownership, that has driven the real estate market.


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Low Inventory Pushes Home Prices Higher

According to CoreLogic’s latest Home Price Index, prices appreciated by 6.9% year-over-year from December 2016 to December 2017 on a national level. This marks the fifth month in a row with at least a 6.9% increase.

Dr. Frank Nothaft, Chief Economist for CoreLogic, gave insight into the reason behind the large appreciation,

“The number of homes for sale has remained very low. Job growth lowered the unemployment rate to 4.1 percent by year’s end, the lowest level in 17 years. Rising income and consumer confidence has increased the number of prospective homebuyers. The net result of rising demand and limited for-sale inventory is a continued appreciation in home prices.”

This is great news for homeowners who have gained nearly $15,000 in equity (on average) in their homes over the last year! Those homeowners who had been on the fence as to whether or not to sell will be pleasantly surprised to find out that they now have an even larger profit to help cover a down payment on their dream homes.

As we near the traditionally busy spring buyers season, there is still hope for buyers as mortgage rates remain low compared to recent decades. The report also predicted that home price appreciation will slow slightly, rising by 4.3% by this time next year.

Bottom Line

If you are looking to enter the housing market, as either a buyer or a seller, meet with a local real estate professional who can explain exactly what’s going on in your neighborhood and discuss your options!


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The #1 Reason to Sell Now Before Spring

The price of any item (including residential real estate) is determined by ‘supply and demand.’ If many people are looking to buy an item and the supply of that item is limited, the price of that item increases.

According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the supply of homes for sale dramatically increases every spring. As an example, here is what happened to housing inventory at the beginning of 2017:

The #1 Reason to Sell Now Before Spring | Keeping Current Matters

Putting your home on the market now instead of waiting for increased competition in the spring might make a lot of sense.

Bottom Line

Buyers in the market during the winter months are truly motivated purchasers. They want to buy now. With limited inventory currently available in most markets, sellers are in a great position to negotiate.


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5 Reasons to Love Using A Real Estate Pro [INFOGRAPHIC]

Highlights:

  • Hiring a real estate professional to guide you through the process of buying a home or selling your house can be one of the best decisions you make!
  • They are there for you to help with paperwork, understanding the process, negotiations, and helping you with pricing (both when making an offer or setting the right price for your home).
  • One of the top reasons to hire a real estate professional is their understanding of your local market and how the conditions in your neighborhood will impact your experience.

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Homeownership: “The Reports of My Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated”

The famous quote by Mark Twain in the title of this article can be used to describe homeownership in America today. Last week, the Census revealed that the percentage of homeowners in the country increased for the first time in thirteen years.

Homeownership: "The Reports of My Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated" | Keeping Current Matters

A story in the Wall Street Journal gave these new homeownership numbers some context:

“The annual increase marks a crucial turning point because it comes after the federal government reined in bubble-era policies that encouraged banks to ease lending standards to boost homeownership. This time, what’s driving the market is a shift in favor of owning rather than renting.

‘This is market, market and market…There’s no government incentive program in sight that is having this effect,’ said Susan Wachter, a professor of real estate and finance at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, ‘This is back to basics.’”

In a separate report comparing the rental population in America to the homeowner population, RentCafé also concluded that the gap is now shrinking.

“Undoubtedly, the recession had a great impact on homeownership…However, it looks like it takes more to discourage Americans from buying a house than that.

As the years go by, it seems more and more certain that the fact that renting has seen a sudden gain in popularity is more a reaction to the economic crisis than a paradigm shift in the Americans’ attitude toward housing.”

America’s belief in homeownership was also evidenced in a recent survey by Pew Research. They asked consumers “How important is homeownership to achieving the American Dream?”

The results:

  • 43% said homeownership was essential to the American Dream
  • 48% said homeownership was important to the American Dream
  • Only 9% said it was not important

Bottom Line

Homeownership has been, is and will always be a crucial element of the American Dream.

*Pictured Above – Mark Twain’s home in Hartford, Connecticut.

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Where Are Mortgage Interest Rates Headed in 2018?

The interest rate you pay on your home mortgage has a direct impact on your monthly payment. The higher the rate the greater the payment will be. That is why it is important to know where rates are headed when deciding to start your home search.

Below is a chart created using Freddie Mac’s U.S. Economic & Housing Marketing Outlook. As you can see, interest rates are projected to increase steadily over the course of the next 12 months.

Where Are Mortgage Interest Rates Headed in 2018? | Keeping Current Matters

How Will This Impact Your Mortgage Payment?

Depending on the amount of the loan that you secure, a half of a percent (.5%) increase in interest rate can increase your monthly mortgage payment significantly.

According to CoreLogic’s latest Home Price Index, national home prices have appreciated 7.0% from this time last year and are predicted to be 4.2% higher next year.

If both the predictions of home price and interest rate increases become reality, families would wind up paying considerably more for their next home.

Bottom Line 

Even a small increase in interest rate can impact your family’s wealth. Meet with a local real estate professional to evaluate your ability to purchase your dream home.


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Millionaire to Millennials: Don’t Rent a Home… Buy!

In a CNBC article, self-made millionaire David Bach explained that: The biggest mistake millennials are making is not buying their first home.” He goes on to say that, “If you want to build real financial security, real wealth for your lifetime, then you need to buy a home.

Bach went on to explain:

“Homeowners are worth 40 times more than renters. Now, that first home doesn’t need to be a dream home, it can be a very small home. You might literally have to buy a small studio apartment, but that’s how you get started.” 

Then he explains the secret in order to buy that home!

Don’t do a 30-year mortgage. You want to take that 30-year mortgage and instead pay it off early, do a 15-year mortgage. What happens if you do a 15-year mortgage? Well, one, you pay the mortgage off 15-years sooner, that means you’ll be able to retire in your fifties. Number two, you’ll save a fortune (on potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars in interest payments).”

What will it cost to pay your mortgage in fifteen years? He explains further:

“For fifteen years, you got to brownbag your lunch. Think about that! Brownbag your lunch literally for fifteen years. You can retire ten years sooner than your friends. You’ll have real wealth, because you bought a home – you’re not a renter. And you’ll be financially secure for life.”

Bottom Line

Whenever a well-respected millionaire gives investment advice, people usually clamor to hear it. This millionaire gave simple advice – if you don’t yet live in your own home, go buy one.

Who is David Bach?

Bach is a self-made millionaire who has written nine consecutive New York Times bestsellers. His book, “The Automatic Millionaire,” spent 31 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. He is one of the only business authors in history to have four books simultaneously on the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, BusinessWeek and USA Today bestseller lists.

He has been a contributor to NBC’s Today Show, appearing more than 100 times, as well as a regular on ABC, CBS, Fox, CNBC, CNN, Yahoo, The View, and PBS. He has also been profiled in many major publications, including the New York Times, BusinessWeek, USA Today, People, Reader’s Digest, Time, Financial Times, Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, Working Woman, Glamour, Family Circle, Redbook, Huffington Post, Business Insider, Investors’ Business Daily, and Forbes.


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Whether You Rent or Buy, Either Way You’re Paying a Mortgage!

There are some people who have not purchased homes because they are uncomfortable taking on the obligation of a mortgage. Everyone should realize, however, that unless you are living with your parents rent-free, you are paying a mortgage – either yours or your landlord’s.

As Entrepreneur Magazine, a premier source for small business, explained in their article, “12 Practical Steps to Getting Rich”:

“While renting on a temporary basis isn’t terrible, you should most certainly own the roof over your head if you’re serious about your finances. It won’t make you rich overnight, but by renting, you’re paying someone else’s mortgage. In effect, you’re making someone else rich.”

Christina Boyle, Senior Vice President and head of the Single-Family Sales & Relationship Management organization at Freddie Mac, explains another benefit of securing a mortgage as opposed to paying rent:

“With a 30-year fixed rate mortgage, you’ll have the certainty & stability of knowing what your mortgage payment will be for the next 30 years – unlike rents which will continue to rise over the next three decades.”

As an owner, your mortgage payment is a form of ‘forced savings’ which allows you to build equity in your home that you can tap into later in life. As a renter, you guarantee the landlord is the person building that equity.

Interest rates are still at historic lows, making it one of the best times to secure a mortgage and make a move into your dream home. Freddie Mac’s latest report shows that rates across the country were at 4.22% last week.

Bottom Line

Whether you are looking for a primary residence for the first time or are considering a vacation home on the shore, now may be the time to buy.


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5 Reasons Homeowners Can Throw Better Super Bowl Parties! [INFOGRAPHIC]

Highlights:

  • Watching the big game at home with your friends & family offers many advantages.
  • There’s more room to entertain a large crowd and you don’t have to worry about complaints to your landlord if you cheer too loudly!
  • The kitchen is big enough to make as many appetizers as you want, and if some of your guests are only there to watch the commercials, they can do so on a different TV in another room!

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Bidding Wars Abound… How Long Will They Continue?

Just like with any product or service, the law of supply and demand impacts home prices. Any time that there is less supply than the market demands, prices increase.

In many areas of the country, the supply of homes for sale in the starter and trade-up home markets is so low that bidding wars have ensued, and the busy spring-buying season is just around the corner.

CoreLogic recently conducted an analysis on national home prices at the time of sale for their January 2018 MarketPulse Report and found that a third of homes sold for at least list price.

“The share selling above list price was almost three times the trough in January 2008 and represented more than one-fifth of total sales.”

Many markets in the western part of the country and around major cities are experiencing higher shares of homes selling above list price.

“San Francisco had the largest share of homes—76 percent—that sold for at least the list price, and Seattle and Los Angeles followed with 63 and 51 percent, respectively. Miami had the lowest share—16 percent—of homes selling at or above the list price.”

Increased demand during the spring and summer months, the traditionally busier seasons for real estate, will no doubt influence how many homes continue to sell over list price.

This should not be seen by sellers as permission to overprice their homes, though. Buyers are becoming more and more educated, especially those who have been searching for their dream homes for a while now while waiting for new inventory to come to market.

Realtor.com gives this advice:

“Aim to price your property at or just slightly below the going rate. Today’s buyers are highly informed, so if they sense they’re getting a deal, they’re likely to bid up a property that’s slightly underpriced, especially in areas with low inventory.”

Bottom Line

Without a large wave of new listings coming to market, buyers will continue competing with each other for the homes that are available. If you are thinking of selling your home, now may be the time to do so before more competition comes this spring. Contact a local real estate professional who can help you determine the demand for your house in your area.


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Study Shows “Millennials Deserve More Credit”

When it comes to talking about millennials, there are many stereotypes out there that have influenced the way the public feels about the generation. Whether it’s the assumption that millennials are irresponsible with money and would rather buy avocado toast than save for a down payment, or that millennials jump from job to job, the majority of these stereotypes paint the generation in a negative light.

A new study by Bank of America entitled Better Money Habits Millennial Report recently came to the defense of the generation when it reported that:

“Millennials deserve more credit – both from themselves and from others – for their mindfulness when it comes to money and their lives.”

Here are some key takeaways from the study proving that millennials deserve more credit for what they are already doing:

  • 63% are saving – (47% have $15,000 or more in savings)
  • 54% are budgeting – (73% who have a budget stick to it every month)
  • 57% have a savings goal – (67% who have a goal stick to it every month)
  • 46% have asked for a raise in the past 2 years – (80% who asked for a raise got one)
  • 59% feel financially secure – (16% have $100,000 or more in savings)

Many have wondered if millennials even want to own their own homes or if they would choose to rent instead. Well, not only do they want to own their own homes, but many already do and are looking to trade up! A recent study by realtor.com shows that 49% of Americans who plan to sell their home in the next 12 months are millennials!

Danielle Hale, realtor.com’s Chief Economist, gave some insight into why millennials are looking to sell,

“The housing shortage forced many first-time homebuyers to consider smaller homes and condos as a way to literally get their foot in the door. Our survey data reveals that we may see more of these homes hitting the market in the next year.”

Bottom Line

Not every millennial fits into the stereotypes that are so prominent in our society. Those who have risen above the stereotype are ready and willing to buy a home of their own, and many others already have!


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2 Major Myths Holding Back Home Buyers

Urban Institute recently released a report entitled, “Barriers to Accessing Homeownership,” which revealed that eighty percent of consumers either are unaware of how much lenders require for a down payment or believe all lenders require a down payment above 5 percent.”

Myth #1: “I Need a 20% Down Payment”

Buyers often overestimate the down payment funds needed to qualify for a home loan. According to the same report:

Consumers are often unaware of the option to take out low-down-payment mortgages. Only 19% of consumers believe lenders would make loans with a down payment of 5% or less… While 15% believe lenders require a 20% down payment, and 30% believe lenders expect a 20% down payment.”

These numbers do not differ much between non-owners and homeowners; 39% of non-owners believe they need more than 20% for a down payment and 30% of homeowners believe they need more than 20% for a down payment.

While many believe that they need at least 20% down to buy their dream home, they do not realize that programs are available that allow them to put down as little as 3%. Many renters may actually be able to enter the housing market sooner than they ever imagined with programs that have emerged allowing less cash out of pocket.

Myth #2: “I Need a 780 FICO® Score or Higher to Buy”

Similar to the down payment, many either don’t know or are misinformed about what FICO® score is necessary to qualify.

Many Americans believe a ‘good’ credit score is 780 or higher.

To help debunk this myth, let’s take a look at Ellie Mae’s latest Origination Insight Report, which focuses on recently closed (approved) loans.

2 Major Myths Holding Back Home Buyers | Keeping Current Matters

As you can see in the chart above, 53.5% of approved mortgages had a credit score of 600-749.

Bottom Line

Whether buying your first home or moving up to your dream home, knowing your options will make the mortgage process easier. Your dream home may already be within your reach.


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U.S. Housing Inventory Crunch Continues… List Your House Today!

Every winter, families across the country decide if this will be the year that they sell their current houses and move into their dream homes.

Mortgage rates hovered around 4% for all of 2017 which forced many buyers off the fence and into the market, resulting in incredibly strong demand RIGHT NOW!

At the same time, however, inventory levels of homes for sale have dropped dramatically as compared to this time last year.

Trulia reported that “in Q4 2017, U.S. home inventory decreased by 10.5%. That is the biggest drop we’ve seen since Q2 2013.”

Here is a chart showing the decrease in inventory levels by category:

U.S. Housing Inventory Crunch Continues… List Your House Today! | Keeping Current Matters

The largest drop in inventory was in the starter home category which saw a 19% dip in listings.

Bottom Line

Demand for your home is very strong right now while your competition (other homes for sale) is at a historically low level. If you are thinking of selling in 2018, now may be the perfect time.


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If You’re Considering Selling, ACT NOW!!

Definitely an aggressive headline. However, as the final data on the 2017 housing market rolls in, we can definitely say one thing: If you are considering selling, IT IS TIME TO LIST YOUR HOME!

How did we finish 2017?

  1. New-home sales were at their highest level in a decade.
  2. Sales of previously owned homes were at their highest level in more than a decade.
  3. Starts of single-family homes were their strongest in a decade and applications to build such properties advanced to the fastest pace since August 2007.

And Bloomberg Business just reported:

“America’s housing market is gearing up for a robust year ahead. Builders are more optimistic, demand is strong and lean inventory is keeping prices elevated.”

And the National Association of Realtors revealed that buyer traffic is stronger this winter than it was during the spring buying season last year.

The only challenge to the market is a severe lack of inventory. A balanced market would have a full six-month supply of homes for sale. Currently, there is less than a four-month supply of inventory. This represents a decrease in supply of 9.7% from the same time last year.

Bottom Line

With demand increasing and supply dropping, this may be the perfect time to get the best price for your home. Contact a local real estate professional today to see whether that is the case in your neighborhood.

Attention Agents: With demand building and supply shrinking, your number one goal right now should be building your listing inventory, and we’re here to help. Join us TODAY for a free webinar, 4 Steps to Becoming a Listing Machine – 2pmET/11amPT.


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Gap Between Homeowners & Appraisers Narrows to Lowest Mark in 2 Years

In today’s housing market, where supply is very low and demand is very high, home values are increasing rapidly. Many experts are projecting that home values could appreciate by another 4% or more over the next twelve months. One major challenge in such a market is the bank appraisal.

When prices are surging, it is difficult for appraisers to find adequate, comparable sales (similar houses in the neighborhood that recently closed) to defend the selling price when performing the appraisal for the bank.

Every month in their Home Price Perception Index (HPPI), Quicken Loans measures the disparity between what a homeowner who is seeking to refinance their home believes their house is worth and what an appraiser’s evaluation of that same home is.

In the latest release, the disparity was the narrowest it has been in over two years, as the gap between appraisers and homeowners was only -0.5%. This is important for homeowners to note as even a .5% difference in appraisal can mean thousands of dollars that a buyer or seller would have to come up with at closing (depending on the price of the home)

The chart below illustrates the changes in home price estimates over the last two years.

Gap Between Homeowners & Appraisers Narrows to Lowest Mark in 2 Years | Keeping Current Matters

Bill Banfield, Executive VP of Capital Markets at Quicken Loans urges homeowners to find out how their local markets have been impacted by supply and demand:

“Appraisers and real estate professionals evaluate their local housing markets daily. Homeowners, on the other hand, may only think about their housing market when they see ‘for sale’ signs hit front yards in the spring or when they think about accessing their equity.”

“With several years of growth, owners may have more equity than they realize. Many consumers use the tax season at the beginning of the year to reevaluate their entire financial life. It also provides a good opportunity for them to consider how best to take advantage of their equity while mortgage interest rates and borrowing costs are still near record lows.”

Bottom Line 

Every house on the market must be sold twice; once to a prospective buyer and then to the bank (through the bank’s appraisal). With escalating prices, the second sale might be even more difficult than the first. If you are planning on entering the housing market this year, meet with an experienced professional who can guide you through this and any other obstacles that may arise.


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Why You Need a Professional on Your Team When Buying a Home

Many people wonder whether they should hire a real estate professional to assist them in buying their dream homes or if they should first try to go through the buying process on their own. In today’s market: you need an experienced professional!

You Need an Expert Guide If You Are Traveling a Dangerous Path

The field of real estate is loaded with landmines; you need a true expert to guide you through the dangerous pitfalls that currently exist. Finding a home that is priced appropriately and is ready for you to move into can be tricky. An agent listens to your wants and needs, and can sift through the homes that do not fit within the parameters of your “dream home.”

A great agent will also have relationships with mortgage professionals and other experts that you will need in order to secure your dream home. 

You Need a Skilled Negotiator

In today’s market, hiring a talented negotiator could save you thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of dollars. Each step of the way – from the original offer to the possible renegotiation of that offer after a home inspection, to the possible cancellation of the deal based on a troubled appraisal – you need someone who can keep the deal together until it closes.

Realize that when an agent is negotiating his or her commission with you, they are negotiating their own salary; the salary that keeps a roof over their family’s head; the salary that puts food on their family’s table. If they are quick to take less when negotiating for themselves and their families, what makes you think they will not act the same way when negotiating for you and your family?

If they were Clark Kent when negotiating with you, they will not turn into Superman when negotiating with the buyer or seller in your deal. 

Bottom Line

Famous sayings become famous because they are true. You get what you pay for. Just like a good accountant or a good attorney, a good agent will save you money…not cost you money.


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Where Did Americans Move in 2017? [INFOGRAPHIC]

Some Highlights:

  • Atlas Van Lines recently released the results of their annual Migration Patterns Survey in which they tracked their customer’s movement from state-to-state over the course of 2017.
  • Idaho held on to the top spot of ‘high inbound’ states for the 2nd year in a row followed by Washington.
  • The ‘outbound’ states seem to draw a line straight across the country from Connecticut to Wyoming.

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What Impact Will the New Tax Code Have on Home Values?

Every month, CoreLogic releases its Home Price Insights Report. In that report, they forecast where they believe residential real estate prices will be in twelve months.

Below is a map, broken down by state, reflecting how home values are forecasted to change by the end of 2018 using data from the most recent report.

What Impact Will the New Tax Code Have on Home Values? | Keeping Current Matters

As we can see, CoreLogic projects an increase in home values in 49 of 50 states, and Washington, DC (there was insufficient data for HI). Nationwide, they see home prices increasing by 4.2%.

How might the new tax code impact these numbers?

Recently, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) conducted their own analysis to determine the impact the new tax code may have on home values. NAR’s analysis:

“…estimated how home prices will change in the upcoming year for each state, considering the impact of the new tax law and the momentum of jobs and housing inventory.”

Here is a map based on NAR’s analysis:

What Impact Will the New Tax Code Have on Home Values? | Keeping Current Matters

Bottom Line

According to NAR, the new tax code will have an impact on home values across the country. However, the effect will be much less significant than what some originally thought.


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Thinking of Selling? Now is the Perfect Time

It is common knowledge that a great number of homes sell during the spring-buying season. For that reason, many homeowners hold off on putting their homes on the market until then. The question is whether or not that will be a good strategy this year.

The other listings that do come out in the spring will represent increased competition to any seller. Do a greater number of homes actually come to the market in the spring as compared to the rest of the year? The National Association of Realtors (NAR) recently revealed the months in which most people listed their homes for sale in 2017. Here is a graphic showing the results:

Thinking of Selling? Now is the Perfect Time | Keeping Current Matters

The three months in the second quarter of the year (represented in red) are consistently the most popular months for sellers to list their homes on the market. Last year, the number of homes available for sale in January was 1,680,000.

That number spiked to 1,970,000 by May!

What does this mean to you?

With the national job situation improving, and mortgage interest rates projected to rise later in the year, buyers are not waiting until the spring; they are out looking for homes right now. If you are looking to sell this year, waiting until the spring to list your home means you will have the greatest competition amongst buyers.

Bottom Line

It may make sense to beat the rush of housing inventory that will enter the market in the spring and list your home today.


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The Impact Staging Your Home Has on Sales Price [INFOGRAPHIC]

Some Highlights:

  • The National Association of Realtors surveyed their members & released the findings of their Annual Profile of Home Staging.
  • 50% of staged homes saw a 1-10% increase in dollar value offers from buyers.
  • 77% of buyer’s agents said staging made it easier for buyers to visualize the home as their own.
  • The top rooms to stage in order to attract more buyers are the living room, master bedroom, kitchen, and dining room.

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FICO® Scores on Approved Home Loans Drop Again

According to Ellie Mae’s latest Origination Report, the average FICO® Score on all closed loans dropped to 722 which is its lowest mark since April. The average includes all approved refinance and purchase loans.

FHA and VA loans showed the most opportunity for millennials looking to enter the market with low down payments and even lower FICO® Score requirements.

Ellie Mae’s Millennial Tracker revealed that those who purchased homes in December with an FHA Loan were able to do so with an average down payment of 4% and a FICO® Score of only 684.

Joe Tyrell, EVP of Corporate Strategy at Ellie Mae commented on the opportunity this brings to buyers,

“With the average credit score dipping, lenders are extending credit to borrowers who may have had no previous access to the housing market.”

Bottom Line

More and more potential buyers are able to qualify for a mortgage loan now! If you are debating a home purchase, meet with a local professional who can evaluate your ability to buy today!


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The Impact of Tight Inventory on the Housing Market

The housing crisis is finally in the rear-view mirror as the real estate market moves down the road to a complete recovery. Home values are up, home sales are up, and distressed sales (foreclosures and short sales) have fallen to their lowest points in years. It seems that the market will continue to strengthen in 2018.

However, there is one thing that may cause the industry to tap the brakes: a lack of housing inventory. While buyer demand looks like it will remain strong throughout the winter, supply is not keeping up.

Here are the thoughts of a few industry experts on the subject:

National Association of Realtors

“Total housing inventory at the end of November dropped 7.2 percent to 1.67 million existing homes available for sale, and is now 9.7 percent lower than a year ago (1.85 million) and has fallen year-over-year for 30 consecutive months. Unsold inventory is at a 3.4-month supply at the current sales pace, which is down from 4.0 months a year ago.”

Joseph Kirchner, Senior Economist for Realtor.com

“The increases in single-family permits and starts show that builders are planning and starting new construction projects, that’s a good thing because it will help to relieve the shortage of homes on the market.”

Sam Khater, Deputy Chief Economist at CoreLogic

Inventory is tighter than it appears. It’s much lower for entry-level buyers.”

Bottom Line 

If you are thinking of selling, now may be the time. Demand for your house will be strong at a time when there is very little competition. That could lead to a quick sale for a really good price.


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712,000 Homes in the US Regained Equity in the Past 12 Months!

CoreLogic’s latest Equity Report revealed that “over the past 12 months, 712,000 borrowers moved into positive equity.” This is great news, as the share of homeowners with negative equity (those who owe more than their home is worth), has dropped more than 20% since the peak in Q4 of 2009 (26%) to 4.9% today.

The report also revealed:

  • The average homeowner gained approximately $14,900 in equity during the past year.
  • Compared to Q3 2016, negative equity decreased 22% from 3.2 million homes, or 6.3% of all mortgaged properties.
  • U.S. homeowners with mortgages (roughly 63% of all homeowners) have seen their equity increase by a total of $870.6 billion since Q3 2016, an increase of 11.8%, year-over-year.

The map below shows the percentage of homes by state with a mortgage and positive equity. (The states in gray have insufficient data to report.)

712,000 Homes in the US Regained Equity in the Past 12 Months! | Keeping Current Matters

Significant Equity Is on The Rise

Frank Nothaft, Chief Economist at CoreLogic, believes this is great news for the “housing market.” He went on to say:

“Homeowner equity increased by almost $871 billion over the last 12 months, the largest increase in more than three years. This increase is primarily a reflection of rising home prices, which drives up home values, leading to an increase in home equity positions and supporting consumer spending.”

Of the 95.1% of homeowners with positive equity in the U.S., 82.9% have significant equity (defined as more than 20%). This means that more than three out of four homeowners with a mortgage could use the equity in their current home to purchase a new home now.

The map below shows the percentage of homes by state with a mortgage and significant equity.

712,000 Homes in the US Regained Equity in the Past 12 Months! | Keeping Current Matters

Bottom Line

If you are one of the many homeowners who are unsure of how much equity you have in your home and are curious about your ability to move, meet with a local real estate professional who can help evaluate your situation.


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