Why Should You Use A Professional to Sell Your Home?

Why Should You Use A Professional to Sell Your Home? | Keeping Current Matters

When homeowners decide to sell their houses, they obviously want to get the best possible price for their home with the least amount of hassles along the way. However, for the vast majority of sellers, the most important result is actually getting their homes sold.

In order to accomplish all three goals, a seller should realize the importance of using a real estate professional. We realize that technology has changed a buyer’s behavior during the home buying process. According to the National Association of Realtors’ 2018 Home Buyer & Seller Generational Trends Report, the first step that “42% of recent buyers took in the home buying process was to look online at properties for sale.”

However, the report also revealed that 94% of buyers who used the internet when searching for homes ultimately purchased their homes through either a real estate agent/broker or from a builder or builder’s agent. Only 2% of buyers purchased their homes directly from a seller whom they didn’t know.

Buyers search for a home online but then depend on an agent to find the home they will buy (52%), to negotiate the terms of the sale (47%) & price (38%), or to help understand the process (60%).

The plethora of information now available has resulted in an increase in the percentage of buyers who reach out to real estate professionals to “connect the dots.” This is obvious, as the percentage of overall buyers who have used agents to buy their homes has steadily increased from 69% in 2001.

Bottom Line

If you are thinking of selling your home, don’t underestimate the role a real estate professional can play in the process.


4 Reasons to Sell This Summer

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

Some Highlights:

  • Buyer demand continues to outpace the supply of homes for sale which means that buyers are often competing with one another for the few listings that are available!
  • Housing inventory is still under the 6-month supply needed to sustain a normal housing market.
  • Perhaps the time has come for you and your family to move on and start living the life you desire.

Mortgage demand surges in early July

Mortgage applications for both home purchases and refinancings increased 2.5 percent last week on a seasonally adjusted basis, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s latest report. The rise was fueled entirely by an uptick in home purchase applications.

Mortgage applications for home purchases surged 7 percent in the week and are now 8 percent higher than a year ago, the MBA reports. Abounding housing shortages have mostly kept a lid on any notable increases in home sales this summer, but that gradually may be changing.

“Even though inventories continue to decline, they are doing so at a slower pace,” says Danielle Hale, chief economist at realtor.com®. “In other words, while buyers continue to see fewer homes available for sale, the decline was smaller than what we’ve seen in previous months. Before we see inventories increase, we need to see them slow, and the data has shown four months of deceleration (smaller year-over-year declines).”

Buyer demand continues to be strong from a strengthening job market, says Mike Fratantoni, the MBA’s chief economist.

Despite last week’s uptick, mortgage applications remain 4.3 percent lower than a year ago. Most of that is due to a plunge in the number of borrowers who are refinancing. Mortgage rates are higher than a year ago, which is erasing the incentive for most homeowners to refinance. Mortgage applications to refinance a home loan last week dropped 4 percent and are now at their lowest level since December 2000.

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.76 percent last week, down from 4.79 percent the week prior, the MBA reports. Mortgage rates remain elevated compared to last year but the increases have been minimal this summer, so far.

How Much Influence Should Kids Have in Buying Decisions?

Fifty-five percent of homeowners who have a child under the age of 18 say their kids’ opinions factored into their homebuying decision, according to a Harris Poll survey of more than 2,000 U.S. adults. What’s more, 74 percent of millennial parents—those up to age 36—indicate they took their kids’ opinions under consideration when buying a home. Renters pay even more attention to their children: 83 percent say their kids’ opinions mattered in their housing decisions.

Children running into a house

Though the trend is strong, real estate professionals and psychologists are torn on how much kids should be involved in real estate matters. Moving is a big decision, and involving the children more in the process may help them feel a greater sense of control and ownership, clinical psychologist Ryan Hooper told the Chicago Tribune. On the other hand, children could feel rejected if their parents are unable to fulfill their requests, Hooper says.

Adam Lietman Bailey, a New York real estate attorney and author of the children’s book Home, says young children can be part of the homebuying decision without actually making the choice. He encourages parents to make their kids feel included by asking questions regarding what they like about the backyard or where their toys would go in the house. Still, “most parents already know [their kids’] desires and needs,” and “moving decisions are likely at a level above the child’s thinking capacity when choosing a home,” Bailey says.

Tracey Hampson, a real estate pro in Santa Clarita, Calif., says she has a client whose home search has been prolonged because he insists on asking for his young children’s approval on the homes they view. The buyer was finally ready to submit an offer on a home with a pool—until his children started crying. It turns out that they didn’t want a pool. “They ended up not submitting an offer,” Hampson told the Tribune. “So speaking with your children before you make a real estate decision is wise, but I wouldn’t base the purchasing decision solely on their opinions.”

Children can be swayed by home-design TV shows or get stuck on certain features, considering only the immediate benefits to them personally, says Aaron Norris of The Norris Group in Riverside, Calif. “Their opinions can change tomorrow,” adds Julie Gurner, a real estate analyst with FitSmallBusiness.com. “As harsh as it may be to say, this decision should likely not be made contingent on a child’s opinions but rather made with great consideration into what home can meet their needs best. You can give them an opportunity to customize it a bit and make it their own.”

Spring Was the Season of ‘Unmet Expectations’

For the fifth consecutive month, pending home sales dropped in May—a sign that the recently ended spring buying season didn’t live up to the hype typical for real estate’s traditionally busiest time of year, the National Association of REALTORS® reported Wednesday. Contract signings also eased last month, and a significant sales decline in the South offset gains in other regions of the country.

NAR’s Pending Home Sales Index, a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, fell 0.5 percent in May to a reading of 105.9. The index is down 2.2 percent on an annual basis. NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun says this year’s spring buying season will be remembered as one of “unmet expectations,” with pending home sales at the second lowest level in the past year. He says inventory shortage is the main culprit. “REALTORS® in most of the country continue to describe their markets as highly competitive and fast-moving, but without enough new and existing inventory for sale, activity has essentially stalled,” Yun says.

However, buyer demand hasn’t slowed, which is evident in quicker sales and strong price growth, Yun says. The troubling reality is that gains in home prices continue to outpace income growth, housing inventory has fallen for 36 consecutive months, and listings typically go under contract in just over three weeks.

“With the cost of buying a home getting more expensive, it’s clear the summer months will be a true test for the housing market,” Yun says. “Several would-be buyers this spring were kept out of the market because of supply and affordability constraints. The healthy economy and job market should keep many of them actively looking to buy, and any rise in inventory would certainly help them find a home.”

May 2018 Pending Home Sales - Content reflects article text.

© National Association of REALTORS®

VA Loans: Making a Home for the Brave Possible

VA Loans: Making a Home for the Brave Possible | Keeping Current Matters

Since the creation of the Veterans Affairs (VA) Home Loans Program, over 22 million veterans have achieved the American Dream of homeownership. Many veterans do not know the details of the program and therefore do not take advantage of the benefits available to them.

If you are a veteran or you know someone who is, here is a breakdown of the VA Home Loan benefits that can be used to achieve the American Dream!

Top 5 Benefits of a VA Home Loan

  1. The greatest benefit of a VA Loan is that borrowers can buy a home with a 0% down payment. In 2016, 82% of all VA Loans put down 0%!
  2. Primary Mortgage Insurance (PMI) is not required! (Most other loans with down payments under 20% require PMI, which adds additional costs to your monthly housing expense!)
  3. Credit Score requirements are also lower for VA Home Loans. The average FICO® score of a borrower for an approved VA Loan is 620, compared to 676 (FHA) or 753 (Conventional).
  4. There is also a limitation on a veteran buyer’s closing costs. Sellers can pay all of a buyer’s loan-related closing costs and up to 4% in concessions in some cases.
  5. Even with interest rates rising, VA Loans continue to have the lowest average interest rates of all loan types.

Who Qualifies for a VA Home Loan?

One of the most important first steps when applying for a VA Home Loan is obtaining your Certificate of Eligibility (COE). “The COE verifies to the lender that you are eligible for a VA-backed loan.”

You Can Apply for a VA Loan if You:

  • Serve 90 consecutive days during wartime
  • Serve 181 consecutive days during peacetime
  • Have more than 6 years in the National Guard or Reserves
  • Are the spouse of a service member who has died in the line of duty or as the result of a service-related disability

You Can Use a VA Loan To:

  • Purchase a Home
  • Purchase a Condo
  • Build a Home
  • Refinance an existing home loan
  • Make improvements to a home by installing energy-related features or making energy-efficient improvements

Bottom Line

For more information or to find out if you or a loved one would qualify to use the VA Home Loan Benefit, contact a local real estate professional who can help! Thank you for your service!

List: 28 Westchester, Putnam schools make U.S. News 2018 rankings

Tens of thousands of high schools are annually analyzed across the country and given a score and ranking based on four categories: Exceeding expectations on state proficiency tests, rigor of courses offered, graduation rates and college readiness.

“The rankings evaluate more than 20,500 public high schools nationwide to identify schools that best serve all of their students — including historically underserved populations — and assess the degree to which students are prepared for college-level coursework,” a press release from U.S. News & World Report said.

Schools in the gold and silver category have met all four of those standards, and bronze has met three, but lack access to college-level courses. Bronze schools do not receive a national ranking.


Edgemont Junior-Senior High School: Ranked No. 87 nationwide, No. 14 statewide

Bronxville High School: Ranked No. 90 nationwide, No. 15 statewide

Rye High School: Ranked No. 114 nationwide, No. 20 statewide

Blind Brook High School: Ranked No. 159 nationwide, No. 22 statewide

Horace Greeley High School: Ranked No. 177 nationwide, No. 25 statewide

Dobbs Ferry High School: Ranked No. 182 nationwide, No. 28 statewide

Harrison High School: Ranked No. 197 nationwide, No. 30 statewide

Byram Hills High School: Ranked No. 201 nationwide, No. 32 statewide

Pleasantville High School: Ranked No. 228 nationwide, No. 34 statewide

Briarcliff High School: Ranked No. 248 nationwide, No. 36 statewide

North Salem Middle School/High School: Ranked No. 283 nationwide, No. 41 statewide

John Jay High School: Ranked No. 298 nationwide, No. 43 statewide

Croton-Harmon High School: Ranked No. 301 nationwide, No. 44 statewide

Fox Lane High School: Ranked No. 365 nationwide, No. 50 statewide

Mamaroneck High School: Ranked No. 385 nationwide, No. 52 statewide


Ardsley High School: Ranked No. 544 nationwide, No. 61 statewide

Yorktown High School: Ranked No. 725 nationwide, No. 76 statewide

Lakeland High School: Ranked No. 735 nationwide, No. 77 statewide

Hendrick Hudson High School: Ranked No. 839 nationwide, No. 84 statewide

Eastchester Senior High School: Ranked No. 885 nationwide, No. 87 statewide

Sleepy Hollow High School: Ranked No. 890 nationwide, No. 88 statewide

Somers Senior High School: Ranked No. 908 nationwide, No. 93 statewide

Scarsdale Senior High School: Ranked No. 994 nationwide, No. 100 statewide

Walter Panas High School: Ranked No. 1,049 nationwide, No. 106 statewide

Carmel High School: Ranked No. 1,381 nationwide, No. 126 statewide

Port Chester Senior High School: Ranked No. 1,481 nationwide, No. 134 statewide


Yonkers High School: Ranked No. 245 statewide

Saunders Trades and Technical High School: Ranked No. 246 statewide

*The full list can be found on U.S. News & World Report’s website. The national rankings are out of 2,711 schools. The state rankings are out of 287 schools.

Loan Apps Drop Sharply as Buyers Get Jittery


This summer’s pricey and ultra-competitive housing market may be spooking some would-be home buyers. Total mortgage application volume for home purchases and refinances dropped last week by 4.9 percent on a seasonally adjusted week-to-week basis, the Mortgage Bankers Association reports. Applications are now 12 percent lower than they were a year ago.

Total Mortgage Application Activity Graphic. Content reflects article text.

Home loan applications led the decline, with total applications dropping 6 percent last week. Purchase applications are now just 1 percent higher than a year ago—when mortgage rates were much lower.

Mortgage rates have been on the rise in 2018, adding to affordability troubles for home buyers. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rose from 4.83 percent to an average of 4.84 percent last week, the MBA reports.

Home refinancing applications dropped 4 percent last week and are 27 percent lower than a year ago. Rising mortgage rates have given homeowners less incentive to refinance.

Homes More Affordable Today than 1985-2000

Homes More Affordable Today than 1985-2000 | Keeping Current Matters

Rising home prices have many concerned that the average family will no longer be able to afford the most precious piece of the American Dream – their own home.

However, it is not just the price of a home that determines its affordability. The monthly cost of a home is determined by the price and the interest rate on the mortgage used to purchase it.

Today, mortgage interest rates stand at about 4.5%. The average annual mortgage interest rate from 1985 to 2000 was almost double that number, at 8.92%. When comparing affordability of homeownership over the decades, we must also realize that incomes have increased.

This is why most indexes use the percentage of median income required to make monthly mortgage payments on a typical home as the point of comparison.

Zillow recently released a report comparing home affordability over the decades using this formula. The report revealed that, though homes are less affordable this year than last year, they are more affordable today (17.1%) than they were between 1985-2000 (21%). Additionally, homes are more affordable now than at the peak of the housing bubble in 2006 (25.4%). Here is a chart of these findings:

Homes More Affordable Today than 1985-2000 | Keeping Current Matters

What will happen when mortgage interest rates rise?

Most experts think that the mortgage interest rate will increase to about 5% by year’s end. How will that impact affordability? Zillow also covered this in their report:

Homes More Affordable Today than 1985-2000 | Keeping Current Matters

Rates would need to approach 6% before homes became less affordable than they had been historically.

Bottom Line

Though homes are less affordable today than they were last year, they are still a great purchase while interest rates are below the 6% mark.

5 Reasons Millennials Choose to Buy a Home

5 Reasons Millennials Choose to Buy a Home [INFOGRAPHIC] | Keeping Current Matters

Some Highlights:

  • “The majority of millennials said they consider owning a home more sensible than renting for both financial and lifestyle reasons — including control of living space, flexibility in future decisions, privacy and security, and living in a nice home.”
  • The top reason millennials choose to buy is to have control over their living space, at 93%.
  • Many millennials who rent a home or apartment prior to buying their own homes dream of the day when they will be able to paint the walls whatever color they’d like or renovate an outdated part of their living space.