With the fall season upon us, change is in the air. For many families, children are growing up and moving out of the house, maybe leaving for college or taking a jump into the working world. Parents are finding themselves as empty nesters for the first time. The question inevitably arises: is it finally time to downsize?

If you’re pondering that thought, you may also be wondering if you should fix-up your house before you sell it, or go straight to the market as-is, allowing a potential buyer to do the updates and remodeling. If you’re one of the many homeowners this camp, here are a few tips to help you decide which way to go.

1. Analyze Your Market

A real estate professional can help you to understand your market and the potential level of buyer interest and demand for your home. Are you in a seller’s market or a buyer’s market? This can change based on the price range of your home, too. A professional can also give you some insight on what you can change or remodel, and how to declutter your house to make it attractive to buyers in your area.

2. Get an Inspector

Right now, the average length of time a family stays in a home is between 9-10 years. That’s a little longer than the historical average, so if you’ve been living in your home for a while, it might be time to make some significant improvements. Think: electrical system, HVAC units, roof, siding, etc. An inspector can give you a better idea of the condition of your home, if it is up to current code standards, and recommendations on how to have your house ready before you put it on the market.

3. Decide If You Need to Remodel

You may also be thinking about driving buyer appeal with something like a kitchen or a bathroom remodel. If so, first dig into the market value of your home, and compare it to the actual cost of the remodel. A local real estate professional can help you determine your home’s market value, and you’ll want to get a few quotes from contractors on the potential remodel pricing as well. Once you have those two factors narrowed down, you can to decide if a remodel will give you a return on your investment when you sell. Oftentimes, it is actually more advantageous to price your house to sell, list it competitively, and then let the buyer pick the colors they want for their bathroom tiles and the type of countertop they prefer. The 2019 Cost vs. Value Report in Remodeling Magazine compares the average cost for remodeling projects with the value those projects typically retain at resale.

Bottom Line

Nationwide, inventory is low, meaning there is less than the 6-month housing supply needed for a normal market. This drives buyer demand, creating a perfect time to sell. If you’re considering selling your house, sit down with a local real estate professional. Partner with someone who can help you confidently determine what will be the best choice for you and your family.

In today’s real estate market, more houses are coming to market every day. Eager buyers are searching for their dream homes, so setting the right price for your house is one of the most important things you can do.

According to CoreLogic’s latest Home Price Index, home values have risen at over 6% a year over the past two years, but have started to slow to 3.6% over the last 12 months. By this time next year, CoreLogic predicts home values will be 5.4% higher.

Is Your House “Priced to Sell Immediately”? | Keeping Current Matters

With prices slowing from their previous pace, homeowners must realize that pricing their homes a little over market value to leave room for negotiation will actually dramatically decrease the number of buyers who will see their listing (see the chart below).Instead of the seller trying to ‘win’ the negotiation with one buyer, they should price their house so demand for the home is maximized. By doing so, the seller will not be negotiating with a buyer over the price, but will instead have multiple buyers competing with each other over the house.

The secret is making sure your house is Priced To Sell Immediately (PTSI). That way, your home will be seen by the most potential buyers. It will sell at a great price before more competition comes to the market.

Bottom Line

If you’re debating listing your house for sale, reach out to a local real estate professional to discuss how to price your home appropriately and maximize your exposure.

4 Reasons to Sell This Fall [INFOGRAPHIC] | Keeping Current Matters

Some Highlights:

  • Buyers are active in the market and often competing with one another for available listings.
  • Housing inventory is still under the 6-month supply found in a normal housing market.
  • Homes are still selling relatively quickly, averaging 31 days on the market.

One of the benefits of homeownership is that it is a “forced savings plan.” Here’s how it works: You make a mortgage payment each month. Part of that payment is applied to the principal balance of your mortgage. Each month you owe less on the home. The difference between the value of the home and what you owe is called equity.

If your home has appreciated since the time you purchased it, that increase in value also raises your equity. Over time, the equity in your home could be substantial. Recently, CoreLogic revealed that the average homeowner gained more than $65,000 in equity over the last 5 years.

Unlike last decade, homeowners are no longer foolishly tapping into that equity. In 2006-2008, many owners used their homes like an ATM by pulling equity out to purchase new cars, jet skis, or lavish vacations. They were pulling out cash (equity) from an appreciating asset, and then spending it on rapidly depreciating items. That is not happening anymore.

Over 50% of Homes Have at Least 50% Equity

One of the Top Reasons to Own a Home | Keeping Current Matters

The number of homeowners that currently have at least 50% equity in their home is astonishing. According to the Urban Institute, 37.1% of all homes in the country are mortgage-free. In a home equity studyATTOM Data Solutions revealed that of the 62.9% of homes with a mortgage, 25.6% have at least 50% equity. That number has been increasing over the last five years:By doing a little math, we can see that 53.2% of all homes in this country have at least 50% equity right now. Of all homes, 37.1% are mortgage-free and an additional 16.1% with a mortgage have at least 50% equity.

Bottom Line

Homeownership is different than renting. When you own, your housing expense (the mortgage payment) comes back to you in the form of equity in your home. That doesn’t happen with your rent payment. Your rent helps build your landlord’s equity instead.

When searching for a home, you may end up selecting a property in a community with a Homeowners Association (HOA). Before you buy, it’s important to know how an HOA works and what they mean for you.

According to a recent article on realtor.com,

“In a nutshell, an HOA helps ensure that your community looks its best and functions smoothly…The number of Americans living in homes with HOAs is on the rise, growing from a mere 1% in 1970 to 25% today, according to the Foundation for Community Association Research.”

An HOA is governed by a board nominated by those living in the neighborhood. It is designed to make sure the residents have a support structure to maintain the value of the community while abiding by a set of guidelines called Common Restrictive Covenants (CC&R),

“Simply put, CC&Rs are just the rules you’ll have to follow if you live in that community. Unlike zoning regulations, which are government-imposed requirements on how land can be used, restrictive covenants are established by HOAs to maintain the attractiveness and value of the property.”

It’s important for homeowners to understand that each HOA is a little different, and they usually have monthly or quarterly fees required for homeowners. These fees can vary based on property size, number of residents, amenities, and more. There may be additional fees charged to homeowners if the reserve fund for the HOA cannot cover a major or unexpected cost, like severe storm damage.

The fees, however, also help maintain common areas such as swimming pools, tennis courts, elevators (for high-rise buildings), and regular wear and tear. Although they are an added cost to the homeowner, an HOA can be a major benefit when it comes to maintaining the value of your neighborhood and your property.

The same article continues to say,

“After your offer to buy a home is accepted, you are legally entitled to receive and review the community’s CC&Rs over a certain number of days (typically between three and 10)…If you spot anything in the restrictive covenants you absolutely can’t live with, you can bring it up with the HOA board or just back out of your contract completely (and keep your deposit).”

Most lenders will factor your HOA fees into your loan package, ensuring the amount of the loan is appropriate for what you can truly afford.

There are some great benefits to having an HOA oversee your neighborhood, and it’s important to understand what fees, structures, and regulations will come into play if there is an HOA where you’d like to live.

Bottom Line

When you’re looking at a potential property to buy, be sure to work with a professional who can help you understand the neighborhood’s HOA structure and fees. This way, you’ll feel confident and fully informed when buying a home.

CoreLogic’s Home Price Index (HPI) Report revealed,

National home prices increased 3.6% year over year in July 2019 and are forecast to increase 5.4% from July 2019 to July 2020.

They also analyzed four individual home-price tiers, showing the increase in each.

Here’s the breakdown:

Home Prices Increase in Every Price Range | Keeping Current Matters

To clarify the methodology, CoreLogic explains,

“The four price tiers are based on the median sale price and are as follows: homes priced at 75% or less of the median (low price), homes priced between 75% and 100% of the median (low-to-middle price), homes priced between 100% and 125% of the median (middle-to-moderate price) and homes priced greater than 125% of the median (high price).”

What does this mean if you’re selling?

Price appreciation can differ depending on your price range. If you’re a homeowner thinking of selling, connect with a real estate professional to find out how much your home is increasing in value, so you can price it competitively for today’s market.

Congratulations! You’ve found a home to buy and have applied for a mortgage! You’re undoubtedly excited about the opportunity to decorate your new home, but before you make any large purchases, move your money around, or make any big-time life changes, consult your loan officer – someone who will be able to tell you how your decisions will impact your home loan.

Below is a list of Things You Shouldn’t Do After Applying for a Mortgage. Some may seem obvious, but some may not.

1. Don’t Change Jobs or the Way You Are Paid at Your Job. Your loan officer must be able to track the source and amount of your annual income. If possible, you’ll want to avoid changing from salary to commission or becoming self-employed during this time as well.

2. Don’t Deposit Cash into Your Bank Accounts. Lenders need to source your money, and cash is not really traceable. Before you deposit any amount of cash into your accounts, discuss the proper way to document your transactions with your loan officer.

3. Don’t Make Any Large Purchases Like a New Car or Furniture for Your New Home. New debt comes with it, including new monthly obligations. New obligations create new qualifications. People with new debt have higher debt to income ratios…higher ratios make for riskier loans…and sometimes qualified borrowers no longer qualify.

4. Don’t Co-Sign Other Loans for Anyone. When you co-sign, you are obligated. As we mentioned, with that obligation comes higher ratios as well. Even if you swear you will not be the one making the payments, your lender will have to count the payments against you.

5. Don’t Change Bank Accounts. Remember, lenders need to source and track assets. That task is significantly easier when there is consistency among your accounts. Before you even transfer any money, talk to your loan officer.

6. Don’t Apply for New Credit. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a new credit card or a new car. When you have your credit report run by organizations in multiple financial channels (mortgage, credit card, auto, etc.), your FICO® score will be affected. Lower credit scores can determine your interest rate and maybe even your eligibility for approval.

7. Don’t Close Any Credit Accounts. Many clients erroneously believe that having less available credit makes them less risky and more likely to be approved. Wrong. A major component of your score is your length and depth of credit history (as opposed to just your payment history) and your total usage of credit as a percentage of available credit. Closing accounts has a negative impact on both of those determinants in your score.

Bottom Line

Any blip in income, assets, or credit should be reviewed and executed in a way that ensures your home loan can still be approved. The best advice is to fully disclose and discuss your plans with your loan officer before you do anything financial in nature. They are there to guide you through the process.

In a recent article by Realtor Magazine, Mark Fleming, Chief Economist of First American Financial Corporation, notes,

“The largest group of millennials by birth year will turn 30 in 2020, which puts them entering their prime homebuying years”.

The article continues to describe how millennials have more buying-power than the generations that preceded them, making their interest in embracing homeownership stronger than ever,

“Millennials—the most educated generation—have the highest incomes across their generational cohorts, even when salaries are adjusted for inflation.”

This combination of power and desire has the potential to drive positive growth in the homeownership rate heading into the near future. According to Fleming,

‘“The gap between the potential and actual homeownership in 2018 narrowed slightly as the growth in homeownership modestly exceeded the increase in potential demand,” he says, citing First American’s Homeownership Progress Index.

“We expect the homeownership rate to further close the gap with potential in the years ahead as millennials continue to make important decisions, such as attaining an education and, later in life, getting married and having children.”’

That said, the shortage of sellable inventory in the entry and mid-range levels that’s attractive to potential millennial buyers may be a contributing factor as to why many millennials haven’t yet purchased a home. According to another recent report citing Frank Martell, President and CEO of CoreLogic,

“Lower rates are certainly making it more affordable to buy homes and millennial buyers are entering the market with increasing force. These positive demand drivers, which are occurring against a backdrop of persistent shortages in housing stock, are the major drivers for higher home prices, which will likely continue to rise for the foreseeable future.”

With millennials aging-up into mortgage-ready and home-buying territory, along with their strong buying interest and buying power, this generation is poised and ready to have positive impact on homeownership rates across the country. Many of them just need to find a home they’re excited to buy in this competitive end of the market.

Bottom Line

If you’re thinking of selling, reach out to a local real estate professional to determine if now is a great time for you to list your house and move-up. More millennials are getting ready to jump into the market and join the ranks of homeownership, so demand for homes in the starter and mid-level range will continue to be strong.

A+ Reasons to Hire a Real Estate Pro [INFOGRAPHIC] | Keeping Current Matters

Some Highlights:

  • Hiring a real estate professional to help you buy your dream home or sell your current house is one of the most powerful decisions you can make.
  • A real estate professional has the experience to help you confidently navigate through the entire process.
  • Make sure you work with someone who knows the current market conditions and can simply and effectively explain them to you and your family.

Last week realtor.com released the results of a survey that produced three major revelations:

  1. 53% of home purchasers (first-time and repeat buyers) currently in the market believe a recession will occur this year or next.
  2. 57% believe the next recession will be as bad or worse than 2008.
  3. 55% said they would cancel plans to move if a recession occurred.

Since we are currently experiencing the longest-ever economic expansion in American history, there is reason to believe a recession could occur in the not-too-distant future. And, it does make sense that buyers and sellers remember the horrors of 2008 when they hear the word “recession.”

Ali Wolf, Director of Economic Research at the real estate consulting firm Meyers Research, addressed this point in a recent interview:

“With people having PTSD from the last time, they’re still afraid of buying at the wrong time.”

Most experts, however, believe if there is a recession, it will not resemble 2008. This housing market is in no way the same as it was just over a decade ago.

Zillow Economist, Jeff Tucker, explained the difference in a recent article, Recessions Typically Have Limited Effect on the Housing Market:

 “As we look ahead to the next recession, it’s important to recognize how unusual the conditions were that caused the last one, and what’s different about the housing market today. Rather than abundant homes, we have a shortage of new home supply. Rather than risky borrowers taking on adjustable-rate mortgages, we have buyers with sterling credit scores taking out predictable 30-year fixed-rate mortgages. The housing market is simply much less risky than it was 15 years ago.”

George Ratiu, Senior Economist at realtor.com, also weighed in on the subject:

“This is going to be a much shorter recession than the last one, I don’t think the next recession will be a repeat of 2008…The housing market is in a better position.”

In the past 23 years, there have been two national recessions – the dot-com crash in 2001 and the Great Recession in 2008. It is true that home values fell 19.7% during the 2008 recession, which was caused by a mortgage meltdown that heavily impacted the housing market. However, while stock prices fell almost 25% in 2001, home values appreciated 6.6%. The triggers of the next recession will more closely mirror those from 2001 – not those from 2008.

Bottom Line

No one can accurately predict when the next recession will occur, but expecting one could possibly take place in the next 18-24 months is understandable. It is, however, important to realize that the impact of a recession on the housing market will in no way resemble 2008.