Top 5 Reasons You Shouldn’t FSBO

In today’s market, with home prices rising and a lack of inventory, some homeowners may consider trying to sell their home on their own, known in the industry as a For Sale by Owner (FSBO). There are several reasons why this might not be a good idea for the vast majority of sellers.

Top 5 Reasons You Shouldn’t FSBO | Keeping Current Matters

Here are the top five reasons:

1. Exposure to Prospective Buyers

Recent studies have shown that 95% of buyers search online for a home. That is in comparison to only 17% looking at print newspaper ads. Most real estate agents have an internet strategy to promote the sale of your home. Do you?

2. Results Come from the Internet

Where did buyers find the home they actually purchased?

  • 49% on the internet
  • 31% from a Real Estate Agent
  • 7% from a yard sign
  • 1% from newspapers

The days of selling your house by just putting up a sign and putting it in the paper are long gone. Having a strong internet strategy is crucial.

3. There Are Too Many People to Negotiate With

Here is a list of some of the people with whom you must be prepared to negotiate if you decide to For Sale By Owner:

  • The buyer who wants the best deal possible
  • The buyer’s agent who solely represents the best interest of the buyer
  • The buyer’s attorney (in some parts of the country)
  • The home inspection companies, which work for the buyer and will almost always find some problems with the house
  • The appraiser if there is a question of value

4. FSBOing Has Become More And More Difficult

The paperwork involved in selling and buying a home has increased dramatically as industry disclosures and regulations have become mandatory. This is one of the reasons that the percentage of people FSBOing has dropped from 19% to 8% over the last 20+ years.

The 8% share represents the lowest recorded figure since NAR began collecting data in 1981.

5. You Net More Money When Using an Agent

Many homeowners believe that they will save the real estate commission by selling on their own. Realize that the main reason buyers look at FSBOs is because they also believe they can save the real estate agent’s commission. The seller and buyer can’t both save the commission.

A study by Collateral Analytics revealed that FSBOs don’t actually save anything, and in some cases, may be costing themselves more, by not listing with an agent. One of the main reasons for the price difference at the time of sale is:

“Properties listed with a broker that is a member of the local MLS will be listed online with all other participating broker websites, marketing the home to a much larger buyer population. And those MLS properties generally offer compensation to agents who represent buyers, incentivizing them to show and sell the property and again potentially enlarging the buyer pool.”

If more buyers see a home, the greater the chances are that there could be a bidding war for the property. The study showed that the difference in price between comparable homes of size and location is currently at an average of 6% this year.

Why would you choose to list on your own and manage the entire transaction when you can hire an agent and not have to pay anything more?

Bottom Line

Before you decide to take on the challenges of selling your house on your own, sit with a real estate professional in your marketplace and see what they have to offer.

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Home Maintenance: Your Guide to Exterior Spring Cleaning

spring cleaningAs winter finally draws to a close, there’s still snow falling in much of the Northeast; however, the temperatures are starting to rise, and many in the U.S. will soon be able to enjoy some nicer weather. There’s just one little problem: when the snow washes away, the dirt remains.

With spring just a week away, it’s time for some good old-fashioned spring cleaning. Get your power washers and ladders ready and take a look at the following guide to exterior spring cleaning:

Clean Out the Gutters

There’s really no easy way to clean your gutters efficiently other than to climb on a ladder and get your hands dirty. Remember, when tackling this project, it’s important to get the blockage and weight out of your gutters, because if you don’t address the issue, it can turn into a much larger problem. If climbing up high isn’t your cup of tea, hire a professional to take care of the job so that you can breathe easy knowing your gutters won’t get damaged this spring.

Power Washing

Your house is a dust collector and the winter months can exacerbate this issue. Now is the time to bust out the power washer and take care of the exterior paint on your home, which is very likely a shade darker than it was at the start of the winter season. You need to be careful, however, because power washers can strip the paint off your home. After you finish cleaning your house, tackle your walkways and get all of the built-up dirt out of the cracks. Paying attention to these areas will go a long way toward getting your home’s exterior back to its former glory.

Touch Up the Paint

Spring is typically the best time to touch up the paint both inside and outside your home. When it comes to the exterior, consider painting after you’ve taken the time to power wash the structure. Repainting your entire home can increase the property value, but if you don’t have that kind of time or the funds to have it professionally done, go around the outside of your house and patch up faded areas with a nice coat of paint.

Tackle Your Lawn

Now is the perfect time to get the grass and flowers growing again. Start off by giving the grass a good cut and then head to your local home improvement store and pick up some fertilizer and other lawn care products. Getting your lawn to look beautiful is no easy feat, but if you’ve already invested time into cleaning the exterior of your home, the last thing you want is for your lawn to look dead and patchy. And don’t forget to add some flowers or small plants while you’re at it, as this will get you in the mood for spring.

Clean the Windows

The finishing touch to every spring cleaning project should be your windows. Simply grab some window cleaner and make those windows sparkle. If your windows show signs of condensation, it might be time to install new ones. Installing new windows can be one of the most satisfying home improvement projects.

As you can see, there’s quite a bit of work that goes along with spring cleaning. With great determination, and maybe a buddy to help, your house will return to its former glory in no time. If you have any interior home projects, now is a great time to tackle those, as well. Just be sure to take your safety seriously—and don’t do anything you feel uncomfortable doing. If anything, hire a professional and sit back and enjoy your spring.

By Haley Kieser

Seniors’ Growing Debt Casts Retirement Doubts

Many older Americans may be concerned about having enough money to cover their expenses when they enter retirement, as 41 percent of homeowners ages 65 and older are still carrying mortgage debt, according to 2016 data from the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies. The percentage of older adults who are still paying off their mortgage while in retirement has steadily increased over the years.

Some may turn to reverse mortgages, which allow homeowners to withdraw equity from their properties. But financial experts warn retirees to talk with a professional to determine whether that is the best option for them. Nonprofit housing counselors may also be able to help discuss options. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development publishes a list of certified housing counselors by location.

The percentage of families in which the head of household is 75 or older and carrying debt grew by 60 percent between 2007 and 2016, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute. In 2016, nearly 50 percent of such families had debt; the average debt was $36,757. Meanwhile, the average monthly Social Security check is $1,404, and more than 40 percent of single adults receive more than 90 percent of their income from Social Security alone, according to government data. Many may find Social Security payouts aren’t sufficient to maintain their lifestyle and pay off debt.

“To pay off the debt, you’re going to have to give up some living standards,” says Craig Copeland, a senior associate with the Employee Benefit Research Institute. For some homeowners, that may mean having to relocate to a place where the cost of living is less expensive. “They may be able to move into a retirement community, where there may be a better social aspect than living in a house in the suburbs with a bunch of young people,” Copeland says. “Or they may have to move in with a relative or friend to share living expenses.”

Source: “Growing Debt Among Older Americans Threatens Their Retirement,” CNBC (April 4, 2018)

5 Reasons Why to Sell This Spring!

5 Reasons Why to Sell This Spring! | Keeping Current Matters

Here are five reasons listing your home for sale this spring makes sense.

1. Demand Is Strong

The latest Buyer Traffic Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows that buyer demand remains very strong throughout the vast majority of the country. These buyers are ready, willing and able to purchase…and are in the market right now! More often than not, multiple buyers are competing with each other to buy a home.

Take advantage of the buyer activity currently in the market.

2. There Is Less Competition Now

Housing inventory has declined year over year for the last 32 months and is still under the 6-month supply needed for a normal housing market. This means that, in the majority of the country, there are not enough homes for sale to satisfy the number of buyers in the market. This is good news for homeowners who have gained equity as their home values have increased. However, additional inventory could be coming to the market soon.

Historically, the average number of years a homeowner stayed in their home was six but has hovered between nine and ten years since 2011. There is a pent-up desire for many homeowners to move as they were unable to sell over the last few years because of a negative equity situation. As home values continue to appreciate, more and more homeowners will be given the freedom to move.

The choices buyers have will continue to increase. Don’t wait until this other inventory comes to market before you decide to sell.

3. The Process Will Be Quicker

Today’s competitive environment has forced buyers to do all they can to stand out from the crowd, including getting pre-approved for their mortgage financing. This makes the entire selling process much faster and much simpler as buyers know exactly what they can afford before home shopping. According to Ellie Mae’s latest Origination Insights Report, the average time it took to close a loan was 45 days.

4. There Will Never Be a Better Time to Move Up

If your next move will be into a premium or luxury home, now is the time to move up! The inventory of homes for sale at these higher price ranges has forced these markets into a buyer’s market. This means that if you are planning on selling a starter or trade-up home, your home will sell quickly, AND you’ll be able to find a premium home to call your own!

Prices are projected to appreciate by 4.8% over the next year according to CoreLogic. If you are moving to a higher-priced home, it will wind up costing you more in raw dollars (both in down payment and mortgage payment) if you wait.

5. It’s Time to Move on With Your Life

Look at the reason you decided to sell in the first place and determine whether it is worth waiting. Is money more important than being with family? Is money more important than your health? Is money more important than having the freedom to go on with your life the way you think you should?

Only you know the answers to the questions above. You have the power to take control of the situation by putting your home on the market. Perhaps the time has come for you and your family to move on and start living the life you desire.

That is what is truly important.

How Unstaged Rooms Hamper a Home Sale

Sellers may be shooting themselves in the foot when they leave an empty, dark, or cluttered room unstaged, according to a recent realtor.com® article. Empty rooms, for example, can “kill a home sale, especially if the other rooms are furnished,” says Allison Bethell of FitSmallBusiness.com. Imperfections stand out more in an empty room, and the absence of furnishings could make it more difficult for buyers to visualize how to use the space.

A poorly lit room also can give the entire house a darker vibe, adds Desare Kohn-Laski, broker-owner of Skye Louis Realty in Coconut Creek, Fla. Instead, open curtains, consider painting the walls a light color, and add plants or a mirror to brighten the look.

The cluttered playroom is another top offender, real estate agents say. “If a playroom looks like a cluttered mess, buyers get the impression that the current residents aren’t clean,” says Kohn-Laski. Sellers should erase crayon and other marks on walls, as well as wipe fingerprints off doors and windows. Also, ensure the room isn’t stuffed with toys; a room that is too full can appear smaller.

The “creepy basement” may also be giving off the wrong type of vibe. Sarah Pickens with RE/MAX Advantage Plus in Blaine, Minn., recalls showing a home to buyers where the basement was an empty, all-cement room with no windows. “The buyer was so creeped out that we left the property,” Pickens says. “And he said he would never purchase the house because of that room.” Realtor.com® suggests “de-creeping” a basement by staging and brightening any windowless rooms.

Also, make sure a cluttered closet isn’t making buyers want to bolt. Teri Connors, an associate broker at Coldwell Banker M&D Good Life in Patchogue, N.Y., says overstuffed closets can make buyers think there’s not enough storage space in a home. She recommends removing at least two-thirds of the clothes in the closets to give the illusion that there’s plenty of space.

Source: “The One Room That’ll Make Buyers Bail, Even If They Love the House,” realtor.com® (March 28, 2018)

Spring: Time to Rev Your ‘High-Performing’ Home

Did you know that just three basic home improvements—updating insulation, maintaining heating systems, and checking for proper ventilation and air-sealing—can transform your humble abode into a “high-performing,” clean, efficient and healthy home?Spring: Time to Rev Your ‘High-Performing’ Home

Experts at the utility company Eversource developed these three tips homeowners and renters can follow to make your home is high-performing:

1. Make sure your home is air-tight with proper insulation.
Don’t let frosty air into your home. Sealing cracks and gaps in walls, attics and crawl spaces, as well as around wires, pipes, windows and door frames, will help keep the warm inside air from escaping. Don’t forget about properly insulating those same walls, attics, and crawl spaces, and around your ducts, too.

2. Keep on top of home energy maintenance.
Be sure you have your heating and cooling system serviced annually by a qualified professional. Clean or change air filters every three months, or more often if you smoke or have pets. Consider upgrading to a smart Wi-Fi thermostat, which automatically adjusts the temperature and cuts down on energy usage when you’re not home.

3. Go for top-quality indoor climate and air.
Enjoying clean air and a comfortable climate in your home begins with proper ventilation and air-sealing, which not only keeps pollen and dust at bay, but also moderates humidity levels and temperature swings. Proper ventilation and air flow also reduces the chance for mold growth, whether it’s from leaky ducts or condensation in your attic and crawl spaces.

According to the U.S. EPA, there are many home pollutants that can accumulate in a poorly ventilated home, and can cause health problems such as sore eyes, burning in the nose and throat, headaches or fatigue. Other pollutants cause or worsen allergies, respiratory illnesses (such as asthma), heart disease, cancer and other serious long-term conditions.

By John Voket

Learn more about household pollutants that may be compromising the air you breathe at www.epa.gov.

Can Millennials Move On and Up?

As the biggest cohort of homebuyers, millennials are exercising influence in the market in unprecedented ways. They are at the center of demand for housing—built-up after many moved back in with their parents, and now releasing slowly, but surely, as the crash fades from memory. In fact, the majority of Power Brokers in RISMedia’s 2018 Power Broker Report & Survey believe millennials are their most auspicious opportunity this year.

There are factors, however, that could keep a lid on the millennial move-out. According to Freddie Mac’s monthly Insight, recently released, the amount of households led by young adults is down 3.6 percent from 2000—attributable to costly homes and stagnating wages. From 2000 to 2016, earnings grew just 1 percent for young adults; by comparison, home prices grew 29 percent. According to the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), in March, home prices were up 5.9 percent year-over-year.

Analysts at Freddie believe the gap is too great to ignore. They posit that affordability constraints are the cause of more than one-quarter of the decline in the formation of households by young adults—and If the climb in costs persists, there could be dire implications for the market. For millennials, even an incremental rise could stall them: A 1 percent hike in home prices cuts the likelihood millennials will head up their own household by 5 percent. (A 1 percent increase in income, inversely, ups the odds 3 percent.)

“Housing costs are a major factor holding back young adult household formations,” says Len Kiefer, deputy chief economist at Freddie Mac. “Our research results indicate that 28 percent of the decline in young adult household formation is due to housing costs. If housing costs continue to rise, we could see about 600,000 fewer households over the next decade.”

Another factor? Timing. The catalysts (conventionally) for forming a household—aging, children and/or marriage—are not occurring as quickly. Comparing young adults in 2000 and 2016, data on fertility and marriages is lower now than it was—and according to realtor.com® research, “family needs” are the biggest millennial motivator for a purchase.

If conditions improve for millennials, Freddie forecasts an additional 19-21 million households by 2025. The alternative, the analysts believe, could have critical consequences for homeownership, investing and overall wealth.

By Suzanne De Vita

Getting Ready to Downsize? Factors to Consider

 

Screen Shot 2018-04-16 at 3.23.39 PMAs you age, you may decide that less is more. When you downsize your home, there can be less to pay for, less to take care of and less to worry about. Although the decision sounds simple, there is a lot to consider before you put your current home on the market.

Finances

Depending on where you live and where you intend to live, it may not be financially possible to relocate. For instance, you may have a large house in the Midwest, but a desire to move to a smaller property with an ocean view. There’s a chance you won’t make enough money from the sale of your house to buy a new home without the help of a mortgage.

If you’ve lived in your home for some time and are looking for a newer house, you may not be able to afford the home of your dreams without financing. Even if an even swap is possible between your current and new homes, there may be association fees or higher property taxes that exceed your budget. Be sure that you know the financial details well in advance of the move.

Family Size

As you age and children leave the nest, you may think that you no longer need as much room. But what if the children come home again? The Pew Research Center found that in 2016, 15 percent of millennials were living in their parents’ home. This is nearly double the number of people of the same age group living in their parents’ home in 1964. The job market, college debt and the rising cost of living all contribute to this change. Keep in mind that it may not just be your children moving home—they may also bring their partners and their children.

Location

Location is important for more than just resale value. If you want to travel, or if you want to be easily accessible to friends and relatives, you probably want to live in a town near an airport. Also, give great consideration to the community that you’re interested in moving into. Choose a community that has the resources that are important to you; these may include houses of worship, community centers or public transportation.

If you’re considering a gated community, look into the services offered. You’ll likely want to continue doing activities you enjoy and maybe even find new hobbies. If you love gardening, don’t move to an association that won’t let you plant outside. If you’re a fan of woodworking, some associations have hobby rooms with tools available for you to use. If you’re a card shark, it might be hard to find people to play cards with during the day if most people in your neighborhood are younger and at work.

Layout of the Home

There’s a lot to be said for a two-level house, including privacy and the small dose of exercise one gets from going up and down a flight of stairs. But what seems a minor inconvenience when you’re 55 years old might be a major difficulty when you turn 70. If you decide to get a home with more than one level, choose one with a bathroom on the same floor as your bedroom. Or, look into whether the home can be outfitted with assistive devices, like chair lifts.

Other things to consider include easy access to a washer and dryer, outdoor access and parking.

What You’ll Take With You

If you’re moving from the home where you raised a family, you’ll likely have many things to contend with. You may need to decide what you can live without. Sure, you can take pictures and all of your children’s middle school awards, but are you prepared to let go of other cherished belongings if you move to a smaller home? Give thought to whether you can truly downsize your life and still feel at home.

Finally, realize that if you haven’t found exactly the right setup for your lifestyle, you can always move again. After all, if a home is a person’s castle, shouldn’t you be happy in yours?

Styling Tips to ‘Wow’ Spring-Time Home Buyers

The new year and the upcoming spring season brings with it a fresh outlook and new beginnings. What will prospective home buyers be thinking about while searching for their new “happy place”? For sellers preparing their homes to sell this spring, that means engaging buyers by showcasing a warm, welcoming and cheerful property that others can easily envision living in. The following are our spring décor styling tips to help sellers prepare their property to stand out among the sea of new listings.

P_1 picture

Natural Elements Paired with Metallics

One of our favorite trends is plants of all shapes and sizes–succulents, trees or plants in baskets and colorful planters, and fresh or synthetic garden flowers in vases and wreaths. Since metallic accents continue to be on-trend, we love pairing the two together for an elegant touch to appeal to today’s buyers who like to feel close to nature.

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Pops of Bright Accents

Pair bold pops of colorful accessories such as accent pillows, throws, artwork, glass bowls filled with fruit, and fluffy bathroom towels against a neutral backdrop to give any room a boost of energy and warmth. Mix and match different textures and patterns for added depth and a modern style.

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Update Paint Colors

Whether you repaint an entire room or an accent wall, a fresh coat of paint works wonders to instantly brighten and open a space to make it appear larger. To spruce up your curb appeal, try a fresh coat of a trending spring color such as Benjamin Moore’s Caliente for your front door to create a welcoming first impression.

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Fresh Bedding

To create a spring-like oasis in the bedroom, switch out winter bedding and replace it with fluffy duvets in white, or on-trend floral patterns paired with a soft, cozy throw and accent pillows in different sizes, colors, and textures.  To complete the look, add soothing nature-inspired wall art in complementary colors.

For more examples of interior decorating and home staging, visit www.pjstagingdecorating.com.

By Patti Stern, PJ & Co. Staging and Interior Decorating

Boomerang Buyers: Most Qualify for Financing in 2-3 Years

Boomerang Buyers: Most Qualify for Financing in 2-3 Years | Keeping Current Matters

According to a new study from Lending Tree, Americans who have filed for bankruptcy may be able to rebuild enough credit to qualify for a home loan in as little as 2-3 years.

This is in stark contrast to the belief that many have that they need to wait 7-10 years for their bankruptcies to clear from their credit reports before attempting to apply for either a mortgage or a personal or auto loan.

The study analyzed over one million loan applications for mortgages, personal, and auto loans and compared borrowers who had a bankruptcy on their credit report vs. those who did not to find out the “Cost of Bankruptcy.”

The study found that 43.2% of Americans who filed bankruptcy were able to repair their credit back to a 640 FICO® Score in less than a year. The percentage of those who achieved a 640 FICO® Score increased to nearly 75% after 5 years. The full breakdown of the findings was used to create the chart below.

Boomerang Buyers: Most Qualify for Financing in 2-3 Years | Keeping Current Matters

Americans who were able to repair their credit scores to a range of 720-739 within three years of filing were able to obtain the same financing options as those who had never filed bankruptcy.

According to Ellie Mae’s latest Origination Insights Report, 53.5% of those who were approved for a home loan had FICO® Scores between 600-749 last month. This is great news for Americans who are looking to re-enter the housing market.

Boomerang Buyers: Most Qualify for Financing in 2-3 Years | Keeping Current Matters

Raj Patel, Lending Tree’s Director of Credit Restoration & Debt-Related Services had this to say:

“People may think that filing a bankruptcy would put you out of the loan market for seven to ten years, but this study shows that it is possible to rebuild your credit to a good credit quality.”

“LendingTree’s research found that very few bankruptcy filers have a harder time [obtaining a mortgage] than those who have not filed for bankruptcy.”

Bottom Line

If you are one of the millions of Americans who has filed for bankruptcy and think that you have to wait 7-10 years to make your dream of returning to homeownership a reality, meet with a local real estate professional who can help you find out if you qualify now.