Is Now a Good Time to Move?

Is Now a Good Time to Move?

How long have you lived in your current home? If it’s been a while, you may be thinking about moving. According to the latest Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), in 2019, homeowners were living in their homes for an average of 10 years. That’s a long time to be in one place, considering the average length of time homeowners used to stay put hovered closer to 6 years.

With today’s changing homebuyer needs, especially given how the current health crisis has altered our daily lifestyles, many homeowners are reconsidering where they’re at and thinking about moving to a home with more space for their families. Here’s why it might be a great time to make that happen.

The real estate market has changed in many ways over the past 10 years, and current homeowners are earning much more equity today than they used to have. According to CoreLogic, in the first quarter of 2020 alone, the average homeowner gained approximately $9,600 in equity. If you’re considering selling your house right now, you may have accumulated more equity to put toward a move than you realize.

Dialing back 10 years, many homeowners also locked in a fairly low mortgage rate. In 2010, the average rate was only 4.09%. This motivated homeowners to stay in their houses longer than usual to keep their rate low, rather than moving. Just last Thursday, however, average mortgage rates hit a new historic low at 2.86%. Sam Khater, Chief Economist at Freddie Mac explains:

Mortgage rates have hit another record low due to a late summer slowdown in the economic recovery…These low rates have ignited robust purchase demand activity, which is up twenty-five percent from a year ago and has been growing at double digit rates for four consecutive months.”

Ten years ago, we couldn’t have imagined a mortgage rate under 3%. Looking at the math today, making a move into a new home and locking in a significantly lower rate than you have now could save you greatly on a monthly basis, and over the life of your loan (See chart below):Is Now a Good Time to Move? | MyKCMAs the example shows, you can save a substantial amount every month if you qualify for today’s low mortgage rate, and the savings can really add up over the life of a 30-year fixed-rate loan.

Bottom Line

As a homeowner, you have a huge opportunity to move up right now. Whether you want to save more each month or get more home for your money based on your family’s changing needs, it’s a great time to connect to discuss the market in our area. Buyers are actively looking for more homes to buy, and you can win big by making a move if the time is right for you.

Why Is It so Important to Be Pre-Approved in the Homebuying Process?

Why Is It so Important to Be Pre-Approved in the Homebuying Process?

You may have heard that pre-approval is a great first step in the homebuying process. But why is it so important? When looking for a home, the temptation to fall in love with a house that’s outside your budget is very real. So, before you start shopping around, it’s helpful to know your price range, what you’re comfortable within a monthly mortgage payment, and ultimately how much money you can borrow for your loan. Pre-approval from a lender is the only way to do this.

According to a recent survey from realtor.com, many buyers are making the mistake of skipping the pre-approval step in the homebuying process:

“Of over 2,000 active home shoppers who plan to purchase a home in the next 12 months, only 52% obtained a pre-approval letter before beginning their home search, which means nearly half of home buyers are missing this crucial piece of paperwork.

This paperwork (the pre-approval letter) shows sellers you’re a qualified buyer, something that can really help you stand out from the crowd in the current ultra-competitive market.

How competitive is today’s market? Extremely – especially among buyers.

With limited inventory, there are many more buyers than sellers right now, and that’s fueling the competition. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), homes are receiving an average of 2.9 offers for sellers to negotiate, so bidding wars are heating up.

Pre-approval shows homeowners you’re a serious buyer. It helps you stand out from the crowd if you get into a multiple-offer scenario, and these days, it’s likely. When a seller knows you’re qualified to buy the home, you’re in a better position to potentially win the bidding war and land the home of your dreams.

Danielle Hale, Chief Economist for realtor.com notes:

“For ‘a buyer in a competitive market, it’s typically essential to have pre-approval done in order to submit an offer, so getting it done before you even look at homes is a smart move that will enable a buyer to move fast to put an offer in on the right home.’”

In addition, today’s housing market is also changing from moment to moment. Interest rates are low, prices are going up, and lending institutions are regularly updating their standards. You’re going to need guidance to navigate these waters, so it’s important to have a team of professionals (a loan officer and a real estate agent) making sure you take the right steps along the way and can show your qualifications as a buyer at the time you find a home to purchase.

Bottom Line

In a competitive market with low inventory, a pre-approval letter is a game-changing piece of the homebuying process. If you’re ready to buy this year, let’s connect before you start searching for a home.

Should You Buy an Existing Home or New Construction?

Should You Buy an Existing Home or New Construction?

Finding the right home to purchase today is one of the biggest challenges for potential buyers. With so few homes for sale and construction of newly built homes ramping up, you may be wondering if you should consider new construction in your search process. It’s a great question to ask, and one to look at from the pros and cons of what it means to buy a new home versus an existing one. Here are a few things to consider when making the best decision for your family.

New Construction  

When buying a new home, you can often choose more energy-efficient options. New appliances, new windows, a new roof, etc. These can all help lower your energy costs, which can add up to significant savings over time. With programs like ENERGY STAR, your home also helps protect the environment and reduces your carbon footprint.

Lower maintenance that comes with a newer home is another great benefit. When you have a new home, you likely won’t have as many little repairs to tackle, like leaky faucets, shutters to paint, and other odd jobs around the house. With new construction, you’ll also have warranty options that may cover portions of your investment for the first few years.

Another solid benefit to new construction is customization. Do you want a mudroom, stainless steel appliances, granite countertops, hardwood floors, an office, or a multipurpose room to homeschool your children? These items can be customized to your specific needs during the design phase. With an existing home, you’re buying something that’s already completed, so if you want to make changes, you may need to hire a contractor to help get your home ready for your family.

Existing Home

When buying an existing home, you can negotiate with the current homeowner on price, which is something you generally don’t get to do with a builder. Builders know their material and construction costs, and they have a price set for the model you’re buying. So, if you want to negotiate, then maybe an existing home will be best.

For many families, having an established neighborhood is also important. Some buyers like to know the neighbors, if it’s family-friendly, and traffic patterns before making a commitment. When you buy new construction, you won’t have a full view of some of those details until the lots around you are sold.

Finally, timing comes into play. With an existing home, you can move in based on the timeline you agree to with the sellers. With new construction, you need to wait for the house to be built. Depending on the time of the year you’re buying and the region you’re in, the weather can also be a factor in the timeframe. This is something really important to keep in mind, especially if you need to move sooner rather than later. Over the past few months with COVID-19 and social distancing regulations, some areas for new construction have been delayed.

Bottom Line

Whether you want to buy a newly built home or one that’s already established, both are great options. They each have their pros and cons, and every family will have different circumstances driving their decision. If you have questions and want to know more about the options in our area, let’s connect today so you can feel confident making a decision about your next home.

Questions to Ask During Your Virtual Home Tour

Questions to Ask During Your Virtual Home Tour

Thanks to COVID-19, the new reality is that many open houses and home tours are being conducted virtually. For prospective home buyers, this new territory brings an added element to prepare for in the home buying process. Some of the questions that should be asked in a virtual home tour parallel those of in-person tours, but others are unique to today’s virtual world.

Could you zoom in?

  • Sometimes it can be difficult to get a true glimpse at what you want to see in a room. Asking the agent to zoom in on specific features is commonplace in virtual home tours, and they understand this is part of the viewer experience. Don’t hesitate to ask multiple times. Getting a better look at everything you want to see will help you feel like you’ve gotten the most out of your virtual tour.

How many square feet are in this room?

  • Virtual tours can slightly distort space, making it tough to gauge the size. The room-to-room square footage is information the agent is sure to have handy. Since you can’t be there in person, it will help you piece together the virtual visuals with the sense of physical space that we’re all accustomed to feeling in the places we live.

What color is that?

  • In the smartphone era, and computer era at large, we have come to understand that digital representations of color are not always true to the eye. Ask the agent to confirm specific colors so you can plan accordingly. Have a color swatch on hand or look the colors up online as you go through the tour.  

When were the appliances last updated?

  • The importance of this question rings true in past, present, and future. Knowing the state of the home’s appliances, and the likelihood and timing of when they will need replacement, is vital information for both assessing the move-in readiness of the home and understanding what costs might lie ahead.

Has the seller provided an inspection?

  • This is another example of a critical question, whether your home tour is virtual or physical. If the seller has already done an inspection, ask the agent to lead you to any areas of concern based on the inspector’s findings. If there is anything that has not yet been addressed by the seller, have your agent ask what their plan is for making the necessary repairs/updates.

When is the offer review date?

  • Understanding the seller’s timeline for reviewing and accepting offers will help guide your decision-making process and allow you to strategize based on the timeline.

Whether your home tour is physical or virtual, getting the information you need to make an informed decision remains paramount. Although there is no substitute for physically being in the home you are looking to buy, keeping these questions in mind will position you well as you progress through the home buying journey.

This post originally appeared on the Windermere.com Blog.

How Technology is Helping Buyers Navigate the Home Search Process

How Technology is Helping Buyers Navigate the Home Search Process

Realtor.com® recently released the results of a new consumer survey highlighting COVID-19’s impact on home buying, selling, and moving in the age of social distancing. The survey found that consumers, especially younger demographics, want virtual tours and are warming to the idea of buying a home without visiting it in person.

Realtor.com® and Toluna Insights surveyed 1,300 consumers during the week of April 5 to better understand their thoughts on how this pandemic has impacted current living arrangements, future plans, and feelings about technology’s role in buying and selling homes.

Majority of living situations remain stable, but COVID-19 has sparked some changes

Eighty-three percent of survey respondents noted that their living situation has not changed due to COVID-19. Of those who have experienced a change, 8 percent moved in with immediate family, 6 percent moved in with a partner, 2 percent moved in with extended family and 2 percent moved in with a new roommate. The survey also revealed that 68 percent of respondents say that their plans to move (or their plans not to move) have not changed. Of those whose plans have changed, 9 percent weren’t planning to move but now need to and 14 percent canceled their plans to move. Further, 9 percent will now rent rather than buy and 7 percent will buy rather than rent. This data points toward some level of stability in the housing market.

Younger demographics and renters feel more comfortable moving sight unseen

Despite the threat of COVID-19 and social distancing measures, the majority of people still want to see a home in person before making a purchase, but that sentiment is shifting. With access to accurate listing data, detailed photos, virtual and live video tours, 24 percent of people would be willing to buy a home without seeing it in person and 30 percent would be willing to rent one. Those numbers were slightly higher for younger demographics, of whom 29 percent would be willing to buy and 34 percent willing to rent. Further, 21 percent of people agree that COVID-19 has made them more likely to move into a home sight unseen.

“Uncertainty around COVID-19 and limitations around social interactions and group gatherings like open houses have made buying and selling homes more difficult than ever,” said Nate Johnson, CMO, realtor.com®. “As real estate agents and consumers seek out ways to safely complete these transactions, we believe that technology will become an even more imperative part of how we search for, buy and sell homes moving forward.”

Virtual tours, listing, and neighborhood information are critical for buying during COVID-19 

The biggest share of respondents (47 percent) still prefer to see a home in person with a buyer’s agent. Given new social distancing guidelines, 23 percent prefer to go alone, 13 percent prefer an online video tour and 6 percent would like their agent to go to the home and show it via video chat.

When asked to select which technology features would be most helpful when deciding on a new home, responses in order of preference were:

  1. A virtual tour of the home (61 percent)
  2. Accurate and detailed listing information (58 percent)
  3. Accurate and detailed neighborhood information (53 percent)
  4. High-quality listing photos (51 percent)
  5. The ability for my agent or landlord to walk me through the property via video chat (39 percent)

Sellers are wary of open houses but open to listing photos and virtual tours

When asked about selling a home within the next six months, respondents showed a slight discomfort toward holding open houses but were still generally open to allowing their agent and some shoppers inside. Potential sellers are most comfortable with:

  1. Allowing their agent in the home to take photos (56 percent)
  2. Allowing their agent in the home to give a virtual tour (55 percent)
  3. Having an agent walk a buyer through the home in person (47 percent)
  4. Having an agent walk a buyer through the home via video chat (44 percent)
  5. Holding an open house (35 percent)

Realtor.com® is committed to making buying, selling, and living in homes easier and more rewarding. To assist both consumers and professionals, realtor.com® has added several product enhancements including more virtual tours, video chats, and an option to schedule a virtual home tour.

To learn more, visit realtor.com®‘s COVID-19 site for information, resources, and tools to help consumers navigate these uncertain times: https://www.realtor.com/covid-19/

The Economic Impact of Buying a Home

The Economic Impact of Buying a Home

We’re in a changing real estate market, and life, in general, is changing too – from how we grocery shop and meal prep to the ways we can interact with our friends and neighbors. Even practices for engaging with agents, lenders, and all of the players involved in a real estate transaction are changing to a virtual format. What isn’t changing, however, is one key thing that can drive the local economy: buying a home.

We’re all being impacted in different ways by the effects of the coronavirus. If you’re in a position to buy a home today, know that you’re a major economic force in your neighborhood. And while we all wait patiently for the current pandemic to pass, there are a lot of things you can do in the meantime to keep your home search on track.

Every year the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shares a report that notes the full economic impact of home sales. This report summarizes:

“The total economic impact of real estate related industries on the state economy, as well as the expenditures that result from a single home sale, including aspects like home construction costs, real estate brokerage, mortgage lending and title insurance.”

Here’s the breakdown of how the average home sale boosts the economy:The Economic Impact of Buying a Home | MyKCMWhen you buy a home, you’re making an impact. You’re fulfilling your need for shelter and a place to live, and you’re also generating jobs and income for the appraiser, the loan officer, the title company, the real estate agent, and many more contributors to the process. For every person or business that you work with throughout the transaction, there’s also likely a team behind the scenes making it all happen, so the effort multiplies substantially. As noted above in the circle on the right, the impact is almost double when you purchase new construction, given the extra labor it requires to build the home.

The report also breaks down the average economic impact by state:The Economic Impact of Buying a Home | MyKCMAs a buyer, you have an essential need for a home – and you can make an essential impact with homeownership, too. That need for shelter, comfort, and a safe place to live will always be alive and well. And whenever you’re able to act on that need, whether now or later, you’ll truly be creating gains for you, your family, local business professionals, and the overall economy.

Bottom Line

Whenever you purchase a home, you’re an economic driver. Even if you’re not ready or able to make a move now, there are things you can do to keep your own process moving forward so you’re set when the time is right for you. Let’s connect to keep your home search – and your local contributions – on track.