Category: For Sellers

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4 Tips to Maximize the Sale of Your House

4 Tips to Maximize the Sale of Your House | Simplifying The Market

Homeowners ready to make a move are definitely in a great position to sell today. Housing inventory is incredibly low, driving up buyer competition. This gives homeowners leverage to sell for the best possible terms, and it’s fueling a steady rise in home prices.

In such a hot market, houses are selling quickly. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), homes are typically on the market for just 18 short days. Despite the speed and opportunity for sellers, there are still steps you can take to prep your house to shine so you get the greatest possible return.

1. Make Buyers Feel at Home

One of the ways to make this happen is to take time to declutter. Pack away any personal items like pictures, awards, and sentimental belongings. The more neutral and tidy the space, the easier it is for a buyer to picture themselves living there. According to the 2021 Profile of Home Staging by NAR:

“82% of buyers’ agents said staging a home made it easier for a buyer to visualize the property as a future home.”

Not only will your house potentially attract the attention of more buyers and likely sell quickly, but the same report also notes:

“Eighteen percent of sellers’ agents said home staging increased the dollar value of a residence between 6% and 10%.”

As Jessica Lautz, Vice President of Demographics and Behavior Insights for NAR, says:

“Staging a home helps consumers see the full potential of a given space or property…It features the home in its best light and helps would-be buyers envision its various possibilities.”

2. Keep It Clean

On top of making an effort to declutter, it’s important to keep your house neat and clean. Before a buyer stops by, be sure to pick up toys, make the beds, and wash the dishes. This is one more way to reduce the number of things that can distract a buyer from the appeal of the home.

Ensure your home smells fresh and clean as well. Buyers will remember the smell of your house, and according to the same report from NAR, the kitchen is one of the most important rooms of the house to focus on if you want to attract more buyers.

3. Give Buyers Access

Buyers are less likely to make an offer on your house if they aren’t able to easily schedule a time to check it out. If your home is available anytime, that opens up more opportunities for multiple buyers to go from curious to eager. It also allows buyers on tight schedules to still get in to see your house.

While health continues to be a great concern throughout the country, it’s important to work with your agent to find the best safety measures and digital practices for your listing. This will drive visibility and create access options that also keep everyone in the process safe.

4. Price It Right

Even in a sellers’ market, it’s crucial to set your house at the right price to maximize selling potential. Pricing your house too high is actually a detriment to the sale. The goal is to drive high attention from competing buyers and let bidding wars push the final sales price up.

Work with your trusted real estate professional to determine the best list price for your house. Having an expert on your side in this process is truly essential.

Bottom Line

If you want to sell on your terms, in the least amount of time, and for the best price, today’s market sets the stage to make that happen. Let’s connect today to determine the best ways to maximize the sale of your house this year.

What to Expect from the Real Estate Market This Summer

The summer season is coming soon, and the real estate market is already heating up quickly. If you are looking to buy or sell a home, there are things you need to know about this competitive market. Here is what you can expect from the real estate market this summer.

Buying Real Estate

The recent pandemic slowed down homebuyer activity last year. Now that vaccines are becoming available, there has been rapid growth in home prices with a low inventory of houses in the real estate market. This can create fierce competition in suburban and medium-sized metro areas. Interest rates are expected to be relatively low.

Selling Real Estate

The summer this year is a seller’s real estate market. If you are considering relocation, this season is an ideal time to do it. During the summer, you may be able to get more for your home than you could in any other season. It is important that you do your research as you may be competing with other sellers. You may want to speak with a real estate agent to determine how housing activity and pricing are faring where you live. 

New Real Estate Construction and Development

With a high demand for home buying, new construction and development in the real estate market may see a significant rise. According to the Census Bureau, there were 1,68 million authorized building permits for privately-owned housing units. Summer’s arrival creates ideal real estate construction conditions. The number of homebuyers will still outweigh the number of available homes.

Voila Real Estate Services

Summer is the best time to participate in the real estate market, whether you are buying or selling a home.  Our Voila real estate savvy fanatics open the doors in the real estate landscape, challenging the old and standardizing the new.  When you work with us, you call the shots. Flat listing fees and new wave technology contribute to our friction-free experience, helping you streamline the process and get the best deal possible.  Whether you are looking to put your home on the market this summer or need Green Photos to showcase your home for a fall/winter listing, call us today to see how we can help.

Don’t Be Fooled by Remarkable Real Estate Headlines

Don’t Be Fooled by Remarkable Real Estate Headlines | Simplifying The Market

Don’t be impressed by the headlines reporting year-over-year housing numbers for the next several months (data covering March, April, May, and June). The data will most likely show eye-popping one-year increases.

While the year-over-year jumps will certainly be striking, consumers should take these numbers with a grain of salt, as the situation highlights a short-term quirk in the reporting of this data. Essentially, the increases will reflect a combination of two things: sharply lower housing numbers during last year’s virus-related market collapse and the subsequent strong rebound. This will result in what will appear to be unbelievable growth.

Let’s use single-family home sales as an example:Don’t Be Fooled by Remarkable Real Estate Headlines | Simplifying The MarketAs the graph reveals, last spring’s buying market was anything but typical. Instead of sales increasing, they fell sharply as a result of stay-at-home orders that virtually shut the real estate industry down.

This spring’s real estate market will bounce back with more normal seasonal sales increases. The percentage increase in sales will be astronomical – not because sales have skyrocketed, but instead because they will be compared to last year’s low numbers.

Bottom Line

There are likely to be some sensational headlines about real estate over the coming months. However, don’t be fooled. The actual story is that the real estate market is finally back to normal.

Planning to Move? You Can Still Secure a Low Mortgage Rate on Your Next Home

Planning to Move? You Can Still Secure a Low Mortgage Rate on Your Next Home | Simplifying The Market

This year, mortgage rates have started to slowly climb above recent record-breaking lows. Many homeowners planning to move may feel like they’ve missed the chance to score a great rate on their next mortgage. In reality, there’s still time to secure a rate far below the historic norm. Here’s why.

After creeping up for seven consecutive weeks, average mortgage rates have dropped more recently (See graph below). With rates taking a slight dip over the past two weeks at the same time the inventory of houses for sale is so low, homeowners today are sitting in the optimal seat to sell. What’s the advantage of selling your house now? Securing a low mortgage rate on your next home.Planning to Move? You Can Still Secure a Low Mortgage Rate on Your Next Home | Simplifying The MarketTo take advantage of today’s real estate market, experts are encouraging homeowners to act now before interest rates climb. Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at realtor.com, explains:

…mortgage rates slid for a second week … but we don’t expect rates to stay at this level for too long.”

Hale continues to say:

“For sellers, getting in early optimizes odds of a quick sale at a good price before there’s too much competition, but that means acting now … In this environment, sellers probably really can’t go wrong, and that’s especially true in the nation’s hottest housing markets where homes are selling quickly and getting the greatest number of viewers online.”

Most experts agree that rates will continue to trend upward. Sam Khater, Chief Economist at Freddie Mac, states:

Despite the pause in mortgage rates recently, we expect them to increase modestly for the remainder of this year.”

In addition, Freddie Mac recently released their Quarterly Forecast, which notes:

We forecast that mortgage rates will continue to rise through the end of next year. We estimate the 30-year fixed mortgage rate will average 3.4% in the fourth quarter of 2021, rising to 3.8% in the fourth quarter of 2022.” (See graph below):

Planning to Move? You Can Still Secure a Low Mortgage Rate on Your Next Home | Simplifying The MarketWhile buyers everywhere want to secure the lowest rate possible, it’s important to remember that today’s rates are still much lower than the historic norm. Odeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist at First American, emphasizes:

“While mortgage rates have trended up in recent months, they are still historically low, so relative to one year ago, housing actually is still more affordable and that’s really thanks to this low mortgage rate environment we find ourselves in.”

Bottom Line

If you’re thinking of moving, don’t miss the opportunity to score a great rate on your next home mortgage. Let’s connect today so you can get your house ready to sell and find your dream home while mortgage rates are still low.

Why This Is a Great Year to Sell Your Vacation Home

Why This Is a Great Year to Sell Your Vacation Home | Simplifying The Market

As vaccines are administered and travel resumes, many of us are beginning to plan for those long-awaited vacations we missed out on over the past year. Some households are focusing their efforts on buying a vacation home rather than staying in a hotel, too. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reports:

Second homes (i.e., homes sold to buyers who are not going to occupy the home year-round, but use it as a vacation home, investment property, etc.) account for 15 percent of new single-family home sales.”

It’s not surprising that there’s an increase in demand for vacation homes. The majority of Americans are realizing they prefer to be around small groups, as shown in a recent survey from The Harris Poll:

“Social distancing taught consumers new things about how they like to socialize; (75%) said, ‘during COVID social distancing I realized I preferred smaller social gatherings at home or at friends’ place.’”

Not only are vacation homes seen as a potentially more pandemic-friendly way to travel and socialize, but they can also serve as an extended home-away-from-home. With more Americans being given the option to continue working remotely or retire earlier than expected, vacation homes can be used year-round. The NAHB explains:

“Remote work arrangements have made it possible for some wealthier Americans to move to alternate locations that are not just small, suburban shifts from within their current metro area.  More fundamentally, second home demand may also be benefitting by an acceleration of retirement plans, as well as stock market gains.”

Bottom Line

The demand for vacation homes has increased and will continue to rise as we head into summer. If you own a house in a destination area and have thought about selling, now is a great time to take advantage of today’s high buyer interest. Let’s connect to discuss your opportunities in our local market.

93% of Americans Believe a Home Is a Better Investment Than Stocks

93% of Americans Believe a Home Is a Better Investment Than Stocks | Simplifying The Market

A recent Survey of Consumer Finances study released by the Federal Reserve reveals the net worth of homeowners is forty times greater than that of renters. If you’re wondering if homeownership is a good investment, the study clearly answers that question, and the answer is yes.

Do Americans believe a home is a better investment than stocks?

In a post on the Liberty Street Economics blog, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York notes that 93.3% of Americans believe buying a home is definitely or probably a better investment than buying stocks.

Here’s how the results break down:93% of Americans Believe a Home Is a Better Investment Than Stocks | Simplifying The MarketThe survey also shows a wide range of reasons why Americans feel that way (respondents were able to pick more than one answer):93% of Americans Believe a Home Is a Better Investment Than Stocks | Simplifying The Market

Bottom Line

The data show how strongly Americans believe in homeownership as an investment. That belief is warranted. The Liberty Street Economics blog put it best by saying:

“Housing represents the largest asset owned by most households and is a major means of wealth accumulation, particularly for the middle class.”

Some Buyers Prefer Smaller Homes

Some Buyers Prefer Smaller Homes | Simplifying The Market

Over the past year, we’ve had plenty of opportunities to reflect on what we consider most important in our lives. The place we call home is one of the biggest things many of us are reevaluating. George Ratiu, Senior Economist at realtor.com, shares:

“The very nature of the pandemic, through the health implications, social distancing, and need to isolate, has really brought a central focus on the importance of home for most Americans…In a sense, it has elevated real estate markets as a centerpiece of our lives.”

For some, this has spurred an interest in making a move to a home that better suits our changing needs. In a recent study on today’s homebuyer preferences, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) states:

“When asked more specifically how the pandemic may have impacted their preference for home size21% or about 1 out of every 5 buyers, do want a larger home now as a direct result of the health crisis, while another segment – 12% – would prefer a smaller one instead.”

While you might expect more time at home to lead to a need for more space, it’s interesting that a significant portion of homeowners actually want less. For those who own larger homes right now and have a desire to move, today’s housing market is full of opportunities. Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at realtor.com, explains:

“In a real estate market that is tipped in the favor of sellers, boomers and older homeowners are really the ones holding the cards…Those who are selling homes can use the profits to help them buy new ones.”

As a homeowner today, you likely have equity that can be put toward the purchase of your next home. With the equity growth homes have seen over the past year, you may have more than you think, which can help significantly as you make a move into your next home. According to a report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR):

“Home sellers cited that they sold their homes for a median of $66,000 more than they purchased it. Sellers 22 to 30 years gained the least at $33,400 in equity compared to sellers 66 to 74 years gained $100,000 in equity as they likely had lived in their homes for a longer period of time.”

Despite the benefits of growing home equity, some homeowners are still hesitant to move and could be considering remodeling or making changes to their current space instead. However, if you’ve thought about aging in place rather than downsizing, you may want to reconsider. The U.S. Census Bureau points out:

Of the nation’s 115 million housing units, only 10% are ready to accommodate older populations.”

If your house is no longer the best fit for your evolving needs, it may be time to put your equity to work for you and downsize to the home you really want.

Bottom Line

Today’s housing market favors homeowners who are ready to sell their houses and make a move. If you’re thinking about downsizing this year, let’s connect to discuss your options in our local market.

Latest Jobs Report: What Does It Mean for You & the Housing Market?

Latest Jobs Report: What Does It Mean for You & the Housing Market? | Simplifying The Market

Last Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released a very encouraging jobs report. The economy gained 916,000 jobs in March – well above expert projections of 650,000 to 675,000. The unemployment rate fell again and is now at 6%.

What does this mean for you?

Our lives are deeply impacted by our nation’s economy. The better the economy is doing overall, the better most individuals in the country will do as well. Here’s a look at what four experts told the Wall Street Journal after reviewing last week’s report.

Michael Feroli, JPMorgan Chase:

“The powerful tailwind of the reopening of economic activity appears to be gathering force; while the level of employment last month was still 8.4 million positions below that which prevailed before the pandemic, it is reasonable to expect that a majority of those lost jobs will be recouped in coming months.”

Mike Fratantoni, Mortgage Bankers Association:

“We fully expect that this pace of job gains will continue for months, and anticipate that the unemployment rate, now at 6%, will be well below 5% by the end of the year.”

Paul Ashworth, Capital Economics:

“With the vaccination program likely to reach critical mass within the next couple of months and the next round of fiscal stimulus providing a big boost, there is finally real light at the end of the tunnel.”

Jason Schenker, Prestige Economics:

“People are getting back to work and the vaccine isn’t just inoculating the population, it’s clearly inoculating the economy.”

What does this mean for residential real estate?

Today, the biggest challenge for homebuyers is the lack of homes currently for sale. With listing inventory down 52% from a year ago, bidding wars are skyrocketing. As a result, home prices are climbing.

One answer to this challenge is to build more homes to satisfy the demand. The latest jobs report gives hope for new housing construction, and therefore brings hope to buyers as well. Here’s what three industry economists said about the increase in construction jobs revealed in the report:

Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist, National Association of Realtors:

“Construction jobs boomed in March, one of the largest monthly gains ever. This raises the prospect for more home building and more inventory reaching the market in the upcoming months. The housing market has been hot with fast rising home prices but has been constrained by a lack of supply. By hiring more workers and building more homes, home prices will move to a manageable level to give more Americans a shot at ownership.”

Odeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist, First American:

“Great jobs report for a housing market in an inventory crisis. Residential construction building jobs increased 3.9% from pre-2020 recession peak in Feb. 2020. The construction industry remains a labor-intensive industry. We need more hammers at work to build more homes.”

Robert Dietz, Chief Economist, National Association of Home Builders:

“Good job numbers in March for residential construction. 37,000 gain from Feb to March. 3.03 million total employment for home builders and remodelers, and up 49,100 from Jan 2020.”

Bottom Line

An improving economy with a falling unemployment rate will benefit households across the country, as well as the overall housing market.

Don’t Sell on Your Own Just Because It’s a Sellers’ Market

Don’t Sell on Your Own Just Because It’s a Sellers’ Market | Simplifying The Market

In a sellers’ market, some homeowners might be tempted to try to sell their house on their own (known as For Sale By Owner, or FSBO) instead of working with a trusted real estate professional. When the inventory of homes for sale is as low as it is today, buyers are eager to snatch up virtually any house that comes to market. This makes it even more tempting to FSBO. As a result, some sellers think selling their house will be a breeze and see today’s market as an opportunity to FSBO. Let’s unpack why that’s a big mistake and may actually cost you more in the long run.

According to the Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers published by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), 41% of homeowners who tried to sell their house as a FSBO did so to avoid paying a commission or fee. In reality, even in a sellers’ market, selling on your own likely means you’ll net a lower profit than when you sell with the help of an agent.

The NAR report explains:

FSBOs typically sell for less than the selling price of other homes; FSBO homes sold at a median of $217,900 in 2020 (up from $200,000 in 2019), and still far lower than the median selling price of all homes at $242,300. Agent-assisted homes sold for a median of $295,000…Sellers who began as a FSBO, then ended up working with an agent, received 98 percent of the asking price, but had to reduce their price the most before arriving at a final listing price.”

When the seller knew the buyer, that amount was even lower, coming in at $176,700 (See graph below):Don’t Sell on Your Own Just Because It’s a Sellers’ Market | Simplifying The MarketThat’s a lot of money to risk losing when you FSBO – far more than what you’d save on commission or other fees. Despite the advantages sellers have in today’s market, it’s still crucial to have the support of an expert to guide you through the process. Real estate professionals are trained negotiators with a ton of housing market insights that average homeowners may never have. An agent’s expertise can alleviate much of the stress of selling your house and help you close the best possible deal when you do.

Bottom Line

If you’re ready to sell your house this year and you’re considering doing so on your own, be sure to think through that decision carefully. Odds are, you stand to gain the most by working with a knowledgeable and experienced real estate agent. Let’s connect to discuss how a trusted advisor can help you, especially in today’s market.

There’s No Reason To Panic Over Today’s Lending Standards

There’s No Reason To Panic Over Today's Lending Standards | Simplifying The Market

Today, some are afraid the real estate market is starting to look a lot like it did in 2006, just prior to the housing crash. One of the factors they’re pointing to is the availability of mortgage money. Recent articles about the availability of low down payment loans and down payment assistance programs are causing fear that we’re returning to the bad habits seen 15 years ago. Let’s alleviate these concerns.

Several times a year, the Mortgage Bankers Association releases an index titled The Mortgage Credit Availability Index (MCAI). According to their website:

“The MCAI provides the only standardized quantitative index that is solely focused on mortgage credit. The MCAI is…a summary measure which indicates the availability of mortgage credit at a point in time.”

Basically, the index determines how easy it is to get a mortgage. The higher the index, the more available mortgage credit becomes. Here’s a graph of the MCAI dating back to 2004, when the data first became available:There’s No Reason To Panic Over Today's Lending Standards | Simplifying The MarketAs we can see, the index stood at about 400 in 2004. Mortgage credit became more available as the housing market heated up, and then the index passed 850 in 2006. When the real estate market crashed, so did the MCAI (to below 100) as mortgage money became almost impossible to secure. Thankfully, lending standards have eased somewhat since. The index, however, is still below 150, which is about one-sixth of what it was in 2006.

Why did the index rage out of control during the housing bubble?

The main reason was the availability of loans with extremely weak lending standards. To keep up with demand in 2006, many mortgage lenders offered loans that put little emphasis on the eligibility of the borrower. Lenders were approving loans without always going through a verification process to confirm if the borrower would likely be able to repay the loan.

Some of these loans offered attractive, low interest rates that increased over time. The loans were popular because they could be obtained quickly and without the borrower having to provide documentation up front. However, as the rates increased, borrowers struggled to pay their mortgages.

Today, lending standards are much tighter. As Investopedia explains, the risky loans given at that time are extremely rare today, primarily because lending standards have drastically improved:

“In the aftermath of the crisis, the U.S. government issued new regulations to improve standard lending practices across the credit market, which included tightening the requirements for granting loans.”

An example of the relaxed lending standards leading up to the housing crash is the FICO® credit score associated with a loan. What’s a FICO® score? The website myFICO explains:

“A credit score tells lenders about your creditworthiness (how likely you are to pay back a loan based on your credit history). It is calculated using the information in your credit reports. FICO® Scores are the standard for credit scores—used by 90% of top lenders.”

During the housing boom, many mortgages were written for borrowers with a FICO score under 620. Experian reveals that, in today’s market, lenders are more cautious about lower credit scores:

“Statistically speaking, 28% of consumers with credit scores in the Fair range are likely to become seriously delinquent in the future…Some lenders dislike those odds and choose not to work with individuals whose FICO® Scores fall within this range.”

There are definitely still loan programs that allow a 620 score. However, lending institutions overall are much more attentive about measuring risk when approving loans. According to Ellie Mae’s latest Origination Insight Report, the average FICO® score on all loans originated in February was 753.

The graph below shows the billions of dollars in mortgage money given annually to borrowers with a credit score under 620.There’s No Reason To Panic Over Today's Lending Standards | Simplifying The MarketIn 2006, mortgage entities originated $376 billion dollars in loans for purchasers with a score under 620. Last year, that number was only $74 billion.

Bottom Line

In 2006, lending standards were much more relaxed with little evaluation done to measure a borrower’s potential to repay their loan. Today, standards are tighter, and the risk is reduced for both lenders and borrowers. These are two very different housing markets, so there’s no need to panic over today’s lending standards.