Buying a Home December 11, 2023

Why You Should Use a Real Estate Agent When You Buy a Home

If you’ve recently decided you’re ready to become a homeowner, chances are you’re trying to figure out what to do first. Knowing where to start can feel overwhelming, but the good news is you don’t have to navigate all of that alone.

When it comes to buying a home, there are a lot of moving pieces. And that’s especially true in today’s housing market. The number of homes for sale is still low, and home prices and mortgage rates are still high. That combination can be tricky if you don’t have reliable expertise and a trusted advisor. That’s why the best place to start is connecting with a local real estate agent.

Agents Are the #1 Most Useful Source in the Buying Process

The latest annual report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) finds recent homebuyers agree the #1 most useful source of information they had in the home buying process was a real estate agent. Let’s break down why.

How an Agent Helps When You Buy a Home

When you think about a real estate agent, you may think of someone taking you on home showings and putting together the paperwork, but a great agent does so much more than that. It’s not just being the facilitator for your purchase, it’s being your guide through every step.

The visual below shows some examples from that same NAR release of the many ways an agent adds value. It includes the percentage of homebuyers in that report who highlighted each of these benefits:

Here’s a bit more context on how the survey results noted an agent continually helps buyers in these situations:

  • Helped Buyers Understand the Process: Do you know the difference between an inspection and an appraisal, what each report tells you, and why they’re both important? Or that there are things you shouldn’t do after applying for a mortgage, like buying appliances or furniture? An agent knows all of these best practices and will share them with you along the way, so you don’t miss any key steps by the time you get to the closing table.
  • Pointed Out Unnoticed Features or Faults with the Home: An agent also has a lot of experience evaluating homes. They’ve truly seen it all. They’ll be able to pinpoint some things you may not have noticed about the home that could help inform your decision or at least what repairs you ask for.
  • Provided a Better List of Service Providers: In a real estate transaction, there are a lot of people involved. An agent has experience working with various professionals in your area, like home inspectors, and can help connect you with the pros you need for a successful experience.
  • Negotiated Better Contract Terms and Price: Did something pop up in the home inspection or with the appraisal? An agent will help you re-negotiate as needed to get the best terms and price possible for you, so you feel confident with your big purchase.
  • Improved Buyer’s Knowledge of the Search Area: Moving to a new town and you’re not familiar with the area, or you’re staying nearby, but don’t know which neighborhoods are most affordable? Either way, an agent knows the local area like the back of their hand and can help you find the perfect location for your needs.
  • Expanded Buyer’s Search Area: If you’re not finding anything you’re interested in within your initial search radius, an agent will know other neighborhoods nearby you should consider based on what you like, what amenities you want, and more.

Bottom Line

If you’re looking to buy a home, don’t forget about the many ways an agent is essential to that process. Any hurdle that pops up, a negotiation that needs to take place, and more, your agent will know how to handle it while they make sure to minimize your stress along the way. Connect with a local real estate agent to tackle it together.

Selling a Home December 5, 2023

When You Sell Your House, Where Do You Plan To Go?

If you’re thinking about selling your house, you may have heard the supply of homes for sale is still low, and that means your house should stand out to buyers who are craving more options. But you may also be wondering, once you sell, how does the current supply impact your own move? And, will you be able to find a home you want to buy with inventory this low?

One thing that can help you find your next home is exploring all your options, including both homes that have been lived in before as well as newly built ones. Let’s look at the benefits of each one.

The Pros of Newly Built Homes

First, let’s look at the advantages of purchasing a newly constructed home. With a brand-new home, you’ll be able to:

  1. Create your perfect home. If you build a home from the ground up, you’ll have the option to select the custom features you want, including appliances, finishes, landscaping, layout, and more.
  2. Cash-in on energy efficiency. When building a home, you can choose energy-efficient options to help lower your utility costs and reduce your carbon footprint.
  3. Minimize the need for repairs. Many builders offer a warranty, so you’ll have peace of mind on unlikely repairs. Plus, you won’t have as many little projects to tackle.
  4. Have brand new everything. Another perk of a new home is that nothing in the house is used. It’s all brand new and uniquely yours from day one.

The Pros of Existing Homes

Now, let’s compare that to the perks that come with buying an existing home. With a pre-existing home, you can:

  1. Explore a wider variety of home styles and floorplans. With decades of homes to choose from, you’ll have a broader range of floorplans and designs available.
  2. Join an established neighborhood. Existing homes give you the option to get to know the neighborhood, community, or traffic patterns before you commit.
  3. Enjoy mature trees and landscaping. Established neighborhoods also have more developed landscaping and trees, which can give you additional privacy and curb appeal.
  4. Appreciate that lived-in charm. The character of older homes is hard to reproduce. If you value timeless craftsmanship or design elements, you may prefer an existing home.

The choice is yours. When you start your search for the perfect home, remember that you can go either route – you just need to decide which features and benefits are most important to you. As an article from The Mortgage Reports says:

“When building, you gain more freedom to tailor the design, materials, and features, but it demands more time and involvement. Conversely, buying an established home offers immediate occupancy . . . yet may require compromises. Your choice should align with your budget, timeline, customization preferences, and the local real estate landscape.”

Either way, working with a local real estate agent throughout the process is mission-critical to your success. They’ll help you explore all of your options based on what matters most to you in your next home. Together, you can find the home that’s right for you.

Bottom Line

If you have questions about the options in your area, connect with a local real estate agent to discuss what’s available and what’s right for you. That way you’ll be ready to make your next move with confidence.

Selling a Home November 29, 2023

Is Your House the Top Thing on a Buyer’s Wish List this Holiday Season?

This time every year, homeowners who are planning to move have a decision to make: sell now or wait until after the holidays. Some sellers with homes already on the market may even remove their listing until the new year.

But the truth is, many buyers want to purchase a home for the holidays, and your house might be just what they’re looking for. As an article from Fortune Builders explains:

“ . . . while a majority of people take a step back from the real estate market during the holiday months, you may find when the temperature drops, your potential for a great real estate deal starts to rise.”

To help prove that point, here are four reasons you shouldn’t wait to sell your house.

1. The desire to own a home doesn’t stop during the holidays. While a few buyers might opt to delay their moving plans until January, others may need to move now because something in their life has changed. The buyers who look for homes at this time of year are usually motivated to make their move happen and are eager to buy. A recent article from Investopedia says:

“Anyone shopping for a new home between Thanksgiving and New Year’s is likely going to be a serious buyer. Putting your home on the market at this time of year and attracting a serious buyer can often result in a quicker sale.”

2. While the supply of homes for sale has increased a little bit lately, overall inventory is still lower than it was before the pandemic. What does that mean for you? If you work with an agent to price your house at market value, it could still sell quickly because today’s buyers are craving more options – and your home may be exactly what they’re searching for.

3. You can determine the days and times that are most convenient for you for home showings. That can help you minimize disruptions to your own schedule, which can be especially important during this busy time of year. Plus, you may find buyers are more flexible on when they’ll tour a house this time of year because they have more time off from work around the holidays.

4. And finally, homes decorated for the holidays appeal to many buyers. For those buyers, it’s easy to picture gathering with their loved ones in the home and making memories of their own. An article on selling at this time of year offers this advice:

“If you’re selling around a holiday and have decorations up, make sure they accent—not overpower—a room. Less is more.

Bottom Line

There are plenty of good reasons to put your house on the market during the holiday season. Connect with a real estate agent and see if it’s the right time for you to sell.

Market Trends November 21, 2023

Why pricey Florida home insurance premiums may come down

 

ORLANDO, FL — Kirsten Roo Klaers has lived in her South Orange County home for 30 years and loves her neighbors and the surrounding community, but like so many Florida homeowners, she’s had her fair share of challenges insuring her house.

“I got this notice, what do you mean you’re canceling me? My roof is only 15 years old. I don’t understand,” she said.

Roo Klaers told WESH 2 Investigates Sheldon Dutes that she ended up paying $5,000 to have a policy until she got the roof redone.

Even after installing a new roof, Roo Klaers said her options were still pricey.

“I had a choice between $7,000 and $2,500,” she said.

Those quoted premiums, however, are not too surprising.

The Insurance Information Institute reports Florida homeowners, on average, pay $6,000 a year to insure their homes, which is about four times more than the national average.

Data from the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) shows where you live in Florida makes a big difference.

Here’s a look at how much Central Florida homeowners are paying on average to insure their homes every year, according to OIR:

Marion – $1,894
Lake – $2,048
Flagler – $2,178
Osceola – $2,366
Volusia – $2,408
Seminole – $2,837
Orange – $2,882
Brevard – $2,966

Marion County spends the least, while homeowners in Orange and Brevard Counties pay the most.

Related: Progressive to send non-renewal notices to 115,000 Florida home insurance policyholders

“Starting to see areas of the state like Central Florida having an increase in pricing that is not so much reflective of the catastrophic risk, but reflective of the actual loss costs that have been sustained by carriers as a result of many of the roof claims and resulting litigation that came from those,” said Kyle Ulrich, president, and CEO of the Florida Association of Insurance Agents.

WESH 2 Investigates has been tracking the rising costs of Florida’s home insurance industry for almost three years now, and homeowners could start to see some relief.

“We are hopeful that hopefully moderating reinsurance costs and some data that’s starting to show that litigation is coming down that there will be more competition, more availability, and ultimately better pricing for consumers in the next 12 to 24 months,” Ulrich said.

Until the market calms down, homeowners like Roo Klaers are researching their best options and saving money in the process.

“We went through every line item on the insurance policy to make sure they were correct,” Roo Klaers said. “If you are getting a rate that doesn’t feel right you need to ask them to shop it. I could have paid $5,000 or $7,000 but I’m only paying $1,900.”

WESH 2 Investigates will continue to monitor changes in Florida’s insurance market. If you have a story you’d like our investigative team to look into, email investigates@wesh.com.

© Wesh.com

Buying a HomeMarket TrendsSelling a Home October 31, 2023

A Real Estate Agent Helps Take the Fear Out of the Market

Do negative headlines and talk on social media have you feeling worried about the housing market? Maybe you’ve even seen or heard something lately that scares you and makes you wonder if you should still buy or sell a home right now.

Regrettably, when news in the media isn’t easy to understand, it can make people feel scared and unsure. Similarly, negative talk on social media spreads fast and creates fear. As Jason Lewris, Co-Founder and Chief Data Officer at Parcl, says:

“In the absence of trustworthy, up-to-date information, real estate decisions are increasingly being driven by fear, uncertainty, and doubt.”

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Buying a home is a big decision, and it should be one you feel confident making. You should lean on a trusted real estate agent to help you separate fact from fiction and get the answers you need.

That agent will use their knowledge of what’s really happening with home prices, housing supply, expert forecasts, and more to give you the best possible advice. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) explains:

“. . . agents combat uncertainty and fear with a combination of historical perspective, training and facts.”

The right agent will help you figure out what’s going on at the national level and in your local area.

They’ll debunk headlines using data you can trust. Plus, they have in-depth knowledge of the industry and can provide context, so you know how current trends compare to the normal ebbs and flows in the housing market, historical data, and more.

Then, to make sure you have the full picture, an agent can tell you if your local area is following the national trend or if they’re seeing something different in your market. Together, you can use all that information to make the best possible decision.

After all, making a move is a potentially life-changing milestone. It should be something you feel ready for and excited about. And that’s where a trusted expert comes in.

Bottom Line
If you need reliable information about the housing market and expert advice about your own move, get in touch with a real estate agent in your area.

Buying a HomeSelling a Home October 23, 2023

Why Home Prices Keep Going Up

 

If you’ve ever dreamed of buying your own place or selling your current house to upgrade, you’re no stranger to the rollercoaster of emotions that changing home prices can stir up. It’s a tale of financial goals, doubts, and a dash of anxiety that many have been through.

But if you put off moving because you’re worried home prices might drop, make no mistake, they’re not going down. In fact, it’s just the opposite. National data from several sources says they’ve been going up consistently this year (see graph below):

Here’s what this graph shows. In the first half of 2022, home prices rose significantly (the green bars on the left side of the graphs above). Those increases were dramatic and unsustainable.

So, in the second half of the year, prices went through a correction and started dipping a bit (shown in red). But those slight declines were shallow and short-lived. Still, the media really focused on those drops in their headlines – and that created a lot of fear and uncertainty among consumers.

But here’s what hasn’t been covered fully. So far in 2023, prices are going up once more, but this time at a more normal pace (the green bars on the right side of the graphs above). After price gains that were too high and then the corrections that followed in 2022, the fact that all three reports show more normal price appreciation this year is good news for the housing market.

Orphe Divounguy, Senior Economist at Zillow, explains changing home prices over the past 12 months this way:

“The U.S. housing market has surged over the past year after a temporary hiccup from July 2022-January 2023. . . . That downturn has proven to be short lived as housing has rebounded impressively so far in 2023. . .

Looking ahead, home price appreciation typically starts to ease up this time of year. As that happens, there’s some risk the media will confuse slowing price growth (deceleration of appreciation) with home prices falling (depreciation). Don’t be fooled. Slower price growth is still growth.

Why Are Home Prices Increasing Now?

One reason why home prices are going back up is because there still aren’t enough homes for sale for all the people who want to buy them.

Even though higher mortgage rates cause buyer demand to moderate, they also cause the supply of available homes to go down. That’s because of the mortgage rate lock-in effect. When rates rise, some homeowners are reluctant to sell and lose their current low mortgage rate to take on a higher one for their next home.

So, with higher mortgage rates impacting both buyers and sellers, the supply and demand equation of the housing market has been affected. But since there are still more people who want to purchase homes than there are homes available to buy, prices continue to rise. As Freddie Mac states:

“While rising interest rates have reduced affordability—and therefore demand—they have also reduced supply through the mortgage rate lock-in effect. Overall, it appears the reduction in supply has outweighed the decrease in demand, thus house prices have started to increase . . .”

Here’s How This Impacts You

  • Buyers: If you’ve been waiting to buy a home because you were afraid its value might drop, knowing that home prices have returned should make you feel better. Buying a home gives you a chance to own something that usually becomes more valuable over time.
  • Sellers: If you’ve been holding off on selling your house because you were worried about how changing home prices would impact its value, it could be smart to work with a real estate agent and put your house on the market. You don’t have to wait any longer because the most recent data indicates home prices have turned in your favor.

Bottom Line

If you put off moving because you were worried that home prices might go down, data shows they’re increasing across the country. Work with a local real estate agent to understand how home prices are changing in your local area.

Selling a Home October 16, 2023

Are Grandparents Moving To Be Closer to Their Grandkids?

During the pandemic, many people distanced themselves from their loved ones for health reasons. Grandparents were told to stay away from their grandkids, especially as schools started to open. That’s because it would have been risky to visit with their grandchildren who may have gotten sick from school.

Now that the pandemic has passed, many grandparents want more than ever to be near their grandchildren again to make up for that lost time. But how are they getting that “Grandparent Wish?” The data tells us many are moving to make sure they’re getting more quality time.

Grandparents Are Moving To Be Near Loved Ones

Recent data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows people between the ages of 55 and 74 are moving farther (more than 100 miles) than any other age group (see graph below):

The average age of grandparents in the U.S. is 67 years. The logical leap is that at least some of the people who are moving the furthest are grandparents. But what’s causing them to move so far?

The same report from NAR shows the top reason people move is to be closer to loved ones (see graph below):

Based on this data, it’s fair to say many grandparents are getting their wish of more quality time with their grandchildren by moving to be closer to them. And after experiencing isolation and loneliness during the COVID pandemic, that’s an especially good thing.

If you’re a grandparent, you know how important your grandchildren are. And you may be willing to sell and move just to be closer by. As Vance Cariaga, a journalist at Go Bank Rates, explains:

“Never underestimate the power of grandchildren – especially when it comes to lifestyle and financial decisions. Recent data shows that many baby boomers are relocating further away from home than they used to so they can be closer to their grandbabies.

Bottom Line

The data shows grandparents are moving further to be near their grandchildren. If you have grandchildren of your own, maybe you can relate. When you decide it’s time to be closer to your loved ones, connect with a local real estate professional.

Selling a Home October 9, 2023

Key Skills You Need Your Listing Agent To Have

Selling your house is a big decision. And that can make it feel both exciting and a little bit nerve-wracking. However the key to a successful sale is finding the perfect listing agent to work with you throughout the process. A listing agent, also known as a seller’s agent, helps market and sell your house while advocating for you every step of the way.

But, how do you know you’ve found the perfect match in an agent? Here are three key skills you’ll want your listing agent to have.

The Price of Your House Based on the Latest Data

While it may be tempting to pick the agent who suggests the highest asking price for your house, that strategy may cost you. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement when you see a bigger number, but overpricing your house can have consequences. It could mean it’ll sit on the market longer because the higher price is actually deterring buyers.

Instead, you want to pick an agent who’s going to have an open conversation about how they think you should price your house and why. A great agent will base their pricing strategy on solid data. They won’t throw out a number just to win your listing. Instead, they’ll show you the facts, explain their pricing strategy, and make sure you’re on the same page. As NerdWallet explains:

“An agent who recommends the highest price isn’t always the best choice. Choose an agent who backs up the recommendation with market knowledge.”

They’re a Great Negotiator

Home selling can be emotional, especially if you’ve been in your house for a long time. You’re connected to it and have a lot of memories there. This can make the negotiation process harder. That’s where a trusted professional comes in.

A skilled listing agent will be calm under pressure and will be your point person in all of those conversations. Their experience in handling the back-and-forth gives you with the peace of mind that you’ve got someone on your side who’s got your best interests in mind throughout this journey.

They’re a Skilled Problem Solver

At the heart of it all, a listing agent’s main priority is to get your house sold. A great agent never loses sight of that goal and will help you prioritize your needs above all else. If they identify any necessary steps you need to take, they’ll be open with you about it. Their commitment to your success means they’ll work with you to address any potential roadblocks and find creative solutions to anything that pops up.

BankRate explains it like this:

“Just as important as the knowledge and experience agents bring is their ability to guide you smoothly through the process. Above all, go with an agent you trust and will feel comfortable with. . .”

Bottom Line

Whether you’re a first-time seller or you’ve been through selling a house before, a great listing agent is the key to success. Connect with a real estate professional so you have a skilled local expert by your side to guide you through every step of the process.

Selling your house is a big decision. And that can make it feel both exciting and a little bit nerve-wracking. However the key to a successful sale is finding the perfect listing agent to work with you throughout the process. A listing agent, also known as a seller’s agent, helps market and sell your house while advocating for you every step of the way.

But, how do you know you’ve found the perfect match in an agent? Here are three key skills you’ll want your listing agent to have.

Selling a Home October 3, 2023

Why Your House Didn’t Sell

If your listing expired and your house didn’t sell, you’re likely feeling a little frustrated. Not to mention, you’re also probably wondering what went wrong. Here are three questions to think about as you figure out what to do next.

Did You Limit Access to Your House?

One of the biggest mistakes you can make when selling your house is restricting the days and times when potential buyers can tour it. Being flexible with your schedule is important when you’re selling your house, even though it might feel a bit stressful to drop everything and leave when buyers want to see it. After all, minimal access means minimal exposure to buyers. ShowingTime advises:

“. . . do your best to be as flexible as possible when granting access to your house for showings.”

Sometimes, the most determined buyers might come from far away. Since they’re traveling to see your house, they may not be able to change their plans easily if you only offer limited times for showings. So, try to make your house available as much as you can to accommodate them. It’s simple. If no one’s able to look at it, how’s it going to sell?

Did You Make Your House Stand Out?

When selling your house, the old saying matters: you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Putting in the work to make the exterior of your home look nice is just as important as how you stage it inside. Freshen up your landscaping to improve your home’s curb appeal so you can make an impact upfront. As an article from U.S. News says:

“After all, if people drive by, but aren’t interested enough to walk through the front door, you’ll never sell your house.”

But don’t let that impact stop at the front door. By removing personal items and reducing clutter inside, you give buyers more freedom to picture themselves in the home. Additionally, a new coat of paint or cleaning the floors can go a long way to freshening up a room.

Did You Price Your House Compellingly?

Setting the right price is extremely important when you’re selling your house. Even though it might feel tempting to push the price higher to maximize your profit, overpricing can scare away buyers and make it hard to sell quickly. Business Insider notes:

“. . . the biggest mistake sellers make is overpricing their home.”

If your house is priced higher than others like it, it could make buyers lose interest. Pay attention to the feedback people give your agent during open houses and showings. If lots of people are saying the same thing, it might be a good idea to think about lowering the price.

For all these insights and more, rely on a trusted real estate agent. A great agent will offer expert advice on relisting your house with effective strategies to get it sold.

Bottom Line

It’s natural to feel disappointed when your listing has expired and your house didn’t sell. Talk to a trusted real estate agent to figure out what happened and what to reconsider or change if you want to get your house back on the market.

Selling a Home September 25, 2023

Planning to Retire? Your Equity Can Help You Make a Move

Retiring is a significant milestone in life, bringing with it a lot of change and new opportunities. As the door to this exciting chapter opens, one thing you may be considering is selling your house and finding a home better suited for your evolving needs.

Fortunately, you may be in a better position to make a move than you realize. Here are a few reasons why.

Consider How Long You’ve Been in Your Home

From 1985 to 2009, the average length of time homeowners stayed in their homes was roughly six years. But according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), that number is higher today. Since 2010, the average home tenure is just over nine years (see graph below):

This means many homeowners have been living in their houses even longer in recent years. When you live in a home for such a significant amount of time, it’s natural for you to experience changes in your life while you’re in that house. As those life changes and milestones happen, your needs may change. And if your current home no longer meets them, you may have better options.

Consider the Equity You’ve Gained

And, if you’ve been in your home for more than a few years, you’ve likely built up substantial equity that can fuel your next move. That’s because you gain equity as you pay down your loan and as home prices appreciate. And, the longer you’ve been in your home, the more you may have gainedData from the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) illustrates that point (see graph below):

While home prices vary by area, the national average shows the typical homeowner who’s been in their house for five years saw it increase in value by nearly 60%. And the average homeowner who’s owned their home for 30 years saw it almost triple in value over that time.

Whether you’re looking to downsize, relocate to a dream destination, or move so you live closer to friends or loved ones, that equity can help. Whatever your home goals are, a trusted real estate agent can work with you to find the best option. They’ll help you sell your current house and guide you as you buy the home that’s right for you and your lifestyle today.

Bottom Line

As you plan for your retirement, connect with a local real estate agent to find out how much equity you’ve built up over the years and plan how you can use it toward purchasing a home that fits your changing needs.