Category Archives: Renting

Do You Know the Real Cost of Renting vs. Buying?

Do You Know the Real Cost of Renting vs. Buying? [INFOGRAPHIC] | Keeping Current Matters

Some Highlights:

  • Historically, the choice between renting or buying a home has been a close decision.
  • Looking at the percentage of income needed to rent a median-priced home today (30%), vs. the percentage needed to buy a median-priced home (15%), the choice becomes obvious.
  • Every market is different. Before you renew your lease again, find out if you could use your housing costs to own a home of your own!

Pets Have Pull for Homebuyers and Renters

Three bathrooms? Check.

Garage? Check.

Doggy door? Check.

Pets Have Pull for Homebuyers and Renters

Pets are family—and homes have to accommodate family. According to a recently released report by the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), 81 percent of Americans say their pets play a role in their housing situation—so much so that 89 percent say they would not give up their pet due to a housing restriction. What’s more: Nineteen percent of Americans say they would consider moving for their pet, while 12 percent have moved for their pet.

Moving is not the only option for pet owners, however. More than half (52 percent) of Americans in the report completed a renovation for their pet, such as adding a dog door, building a fence around the yard or installing laminate flooring.

Pets also have pull when it comes to buying or renting a home, according to the report. One-third of pet owners will not make an offer on a home that does not meet the needs of their pet, while 61 percent have a hard time finding a pet-friendly homeowners association or rental.

“In 2016, 61 percent of U.S. households either had a pet or planned to get one in the future, so it is important to understand the unique needs and wants of animal owners when it comes to homeownership,” says NAR President Bill Brown. “REALTORS® understand that when someone buys a home, they are buying it with the needs of their whole family in mind; ask pet owners, and they will enthusiastically agree that their animals are part of their family.”

5 Rental Market Predictions: What to Expect in 2017 (and Beyond)

The rental market has been growing at an accelerated pace for several years — with rental appreciation outpacing home value appreciation in many regions — but as the rate of growth has started to slow, what can we expect in 2017?

Zillow’s senior economist, Dr. Skylar Olsen, predicts that rent growth, which peaked in July 2015 and has since slowed in some areas, will continue at a steady but more moderate pace across the U.S., with notable exceptions in hot markets.

Here are five top predictions for the rental market this year.

1. Rental affordability will improve as incomes rise and rent growth slows

Skylar expects that rising rents will stabilize throughout 2017, with overall U.S. rental appreciation remaining flat, around 1.5 percent. Booming markets — notably West Coast metros like Seattle, Portland, the Bay Area and San Diego, as well as Denver — will continue to see appreciation above 5 percent (and much higher in some neighborhoods), so it could take several more years before those regions cool down.

Why has appreciation slowed? The deceleration is largely a result of more rental inventory. Additional housing units are being added, with construction of multifamily buildings (those with five or more units) nearing pre-recession levels. Construction of single-family homes is still low, with approximately 740,000 building permits issued in 2016 compared to pre-recession averages of 1 million or more (soaring close to 2 million during the building frenzy of the housing bubble).

2. The homeownership rate will go up as millennials age

Homeownership is still at near-historic lows, falling annually since 2006. Most new household formation in recent years has been in the form of rental households. This trend may soon change, however, as millennials age and approach major life events, such as getting married or having children. While they’re not buying in large numbers just yet, they plan to: A Zillow survey found that millennials, more than any other demographic, consider homeownership integral to the American Dream and see it as a path toward greater personal freedom.

Does that mean you’ll soon be struggling to fill vacant units? Not likely. There are still plenty of young people left in the rental pool, and there are barriers to homeownership. Even if all the millennials in the 33-year-old range — the median age for first-time buyers — decided they wanted to buy, there’s not enough inventory to accommodate them. In addition, according to the Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trends Report, almost 70 percent of millennials who’ve been renting for more than a year make less than $50,000 annually, putting a home purchase out of reach for many. Thus, the shift toward homeownership will be a gradual one.

3. New development will prioritize smaller homes close to public transit, but many renters will still be pushed to the suburbs

As baby boomers downsize and seek out smaller homes in walkable neighborhoods, competition for housing in urban areas will increase. In many areas, rents have risen fastest near the downtown core; this combination of low inventory and high rents means more people, especially those with low incomes, need to move farther away from the city to find affordable rentals. As a result, more people will be driving to work — a reversal of a decade-long trend — as they move outside areas served by public transit. Denser development of smaller homes near public transit and urban centers is a likely solution to this problem and is expected to increase in 2017.

As an interesting twist on transit, what about self-driving cars? Skylar noted that autonomous vehicles have the potential to impact housing in a positive way: Used efficiently, they could ease congestion in cities and reduce the need for parking lots, which in turn would free up space downtown for housing. Of course, improvements in technology and new infrastructure will have to come first, so expect a long wait.

The suburban migration is not just a reaction to affordability, however. More millennials will choose to move to the suburbs as they age and start families in pursuit of good schools and security. The Zillow Group Report found that after affordability, renters’ top priority when seeking a home is neighborhood safety (a concern of 90 percent of respondents).

4. New homes will cost more as construction becomes more expensive

Construction of single-family homes is not keeping up with demand. This is due, at least in part, to labor shortages and rising construction wages. Labor may become even scarcer as immigration policies tighten: It is estimated that 10-20 percent of the single-family construction labor force consists of undocumented workers, and the potential loss of this workforce would drive up wages even further.

With the cost of construction and the price of land on the rise, more builders are looking to increase profits by focusing on high-end homes — which are not affordable for many first-time buyers. Renters, like buyers, list single-family homes as their first choice in housing (vs. multifamily units or condos), according to the Zillow Group Report. If there aren’t enough entry-level single-family homes to purchase, they will continue to rent.

5. Interest rates will increase (no, really!)

Economists have been expecting interest rates to go up for some time now, but their predictions have been foiled by stagnant wages (until recently) and volatility in foreign assets markets over 2016. Given falling unemployment rates and recent wage growth, Skylar believes the time is right for the Fed to act. With a new administration in the White House supporting low interest rates, however, the Fed may encounter renewed pressure to keep rates down.

5 Furniture Must-Haves for First-Time Buyers

While empty rooms are filled with potential, it might take your first-time buyer some time and mental energy to see what you see.

Potential buyers, especially those buying for the first time, can be intimidated by the amount of space a house has and don’t know where to begin when it comes to furnishing it and making it their own. However, it’s easy to customize an empty home to fit your personality. Focus on the five basic pieces of furniture they will need to feel settled and at home.

Image result for furniture must have

  1. A Place to Lay Your Head

The bed is the largest item in the room, so it’s certainly a design focal point, not to mention a place where we spend a third of our lives. Homeowners should take time to select a great headboard and bedframe that they’ll enjoy for many years. Later, they can match the other pieces in the bedroom to the headboard style.

  1. Pull Up a Seat

A house becomes a home based on the memories created there, many of which happen during meals. Nothing is more symbolic of together-time than the dining table, so a table and chair set is an important item to focus on for new homeowners. A good, high-quality set will allow for all-important family meals and provides a space to gather with family and friends for many years. Advise your homeowners to consider the following:

  • Choose a set with more chairs than you need. This allows you to have guests and host gatherings.
  • Choose chairs with an easily wiped surface, such as wood or leather seats. This will help ensure they look great for a long time, especially for families with young children.
  1. It’s OK to Be a Couch Potato

Being a couch potato can be a good thing: It requires choosing your couch wisely. A couch can be a costly investment, and new homeowners will want to select one that will be comfortable for a good number of years. Here are some things for your buyers to keep in mind:

  • Measure to see what size couch will fit.
  • If you need extra sleeping room, look for a sleeper sofa.
  • Like to put your feet up? Pick built-in recliners or an ottoman.
  • Make sure to ask if it can be cleaned and check if there is a warranty.
  • Going neutral means your couch will work in your decor for a long time. However, lighter colors may be difficult to keep clean with young children.
  1. Snug as a Bug

The old saying about being as snug as a bug in a rug is a true one. Rugs bring in warmth and tie together a conversation area. Homebuyers should keep the following in mind when choosing rugs for their new home:

  • Measure to see what size rug you need.
  • Regular vacuuming is the key to making a rug last and look great.
  • If you have a high-traffic area, pets or small children, you might want to try an indoor-outdoor rug because they are easily cleaned.
  1. A Place for Everything

Clutter doesn’t make for a peaceful or inviting home. New homeowners should consider storage pieces as a key first purchase when filling their new home. A dresser is a great investment, because over the years it can serve many purposes. Buying a new piece, refurbishing an old one or hunting for an antique can be just the ticket for the foyer, den, dining room or bedroom.

There are so many pieces of furniture to add to a new home. Instead of getting overwhelmed by a long list, homeowners can focus on these five basics to get a great start on making their new house a home.

Source: Lea Schneider is a professional organizer who provides great tips to realtors and homeowners on the best pieces of furniture to purchase first for a new home. A headboard, frame and mattress are some of those foundational items. You can check out a selection of each here at The Home Depot.

Is Getting a Home Mortgage Still Too Difficult?

There is no doubt that mortgage credit availability is expanding, meaning it is easier to finance a home today than it was last year. However, the mortgage market is still much tighter than it was prior to the housing boom and bust experienced between 2003 – 2006. The Housing Financing Policy Center at the Urban Institute just released data revealing two reasons for the current exceptionally high credit standards:

  1. Additional restrictions lenders put on borrowing because of concerns that they will be forced to repurchase failed loans from the government-sponsored enterprises or Federal Housing Administration (FHA).
  2. The concern about potential litigation for imperfect loans.

What has been the result of these concerns?

6.3 Million Less Mortgages

The Policy Center report went on to say:

“It was so hard to get a mortgage in 2015 that lenders failed to make about 1.1 million mortgages that they would have made if reasonable lending standards had been in place. From 2009 to 2014, lenders failed to make about 5.2 million mortgages thanks to overly tight credit. In total, lenders would have issued 6.3 million additional mortgages between 2009 and 2015 if lending standards had been more reasonable.”

In an interview with DSNews, Laurie Goodman and Alanna McCargo of the Policy Center further explained:

“Our Housing Credit Availability Index (HCAI)* measures the probability that mortgage borrowers will become delinquent on that mortgage for 90 or more days, which we refer to as the default risk. This measure indicates that the probability of default rose from 12 percent in 2001 to a peak of 16.5 percent at the end of 2005/beginning of 2006, before declining to the current level of 5 percent. Stated differently, lenders are currently taking less than half the credit risk they were taking in 2001, a period of reasonable credit standards.”

The cost to the economy if we’re writing fewer loans…

Goodman and McCargo put it best:

“…fewer households will become homeowners at exactly the point in the economic cycle when it is most advantageous to do so… [They] will continue to miss this wealth-building opportunity. The median family wealth for homeowners is $195,400, with their home the most valuable asset for most; the median family wealth for renters is $5,400… Fewer potential homebuyers means the housing market will continue to recover more slowly. At the same time, fewer buyers create a strain on other benefits to the economy which homebuying brings such as spending on home goods and an increase in construction jobs.”

Bottom Line

The housing market boom and bust caused many mortgage providers and lenders to tighten their lending standards in an effort not to repeat the recent past. This paired with many homebuyers disqualifying themselves before they even apply for a loan, due to the fear of rejection, has led to many households not yet becoming homeowners.

Buying Remains 36% Cheaper than Renting!


In the latest Rent vs. Buy Report from Trulia, they explained that homeownership remains cheaper than renting with a traditional 30-year fixed rate mortgage in the 100 largest metro areas in the United States.

The updated numbers actually show that the range is an average of 5% less expensive in Orange County (CA) all the way up to 46% in Houston (TX), and 36% Nationwide! 

A recent study by GoBankingRates looked at the cost of renting vs. owing a home at the state level and concluded that in 36 states it is actually ‘a little’ or ‘a lot’ cheaper to own, represented by the two shades of blue in the map below.


One of the main reasons that owning a home has remained significantly cheaper than renting is the fact that interest rates have remained at or near historic lows. Freddie Mac reports that rates fell again last week to 3.43%.

Nationally, rates would have to rise to 10.6% for renting to be cheaper than buying – and rates haven’t been that high since 1989.  

Bottom Line

Buying a home makes sense socially and financially. If you are one of the many renters who would like to evaluate your ability to buy this year, meet with a local real estate professional who can help you find your dream home.

Have You Met Your New Neighbors?

As buyers evaluate their reasons for purchasing a home and moving to an area, they often don’t think about the people who already lived there. Who we’re the prior occupants of their new home? Where they well liked in the neighborhood? Did they get along well with everyone else? Or did they have loud parties, with tons of cars blocking up the road, making everyone that lives on the street glad that they left?

Recently, I was at a house party for my clients who had purchased their home about a year ago. I saw their beautiful kitchen and dining room renovations and I met many of their neighbors. The neighbors thanked me for bringing such a wonderful people onto their street. I realized that we don’t usually look at the impact on the people already living in a neighborhood. How do they feel about the new owners? How welcoming are they to the new occupants of the home?

The prior home owner had been there for over 30 years, so this was a big change for the block. And while the neighbors clearly missed the prior home owner, they were very welcoming to the new owners and were glad to have been invited into their home.

When Is It A Good Time To Rent? Definitely NOT NOW!

When is a good time to rent? |

People often ask whether or not now is a good time to buy a home. No one ever asks when a good time to rent is. However, we want to make certain that everyone understands that today is NOT a good time to rent.

The Census Bureau recently released their first quarter median rent numbers. Here is a graph showing rent increases from 1988 until today:

When is a good time to rent? |

A recent Wall Street Journal article reports that rents rose “faster last year than at any time since 2007, a boon for landlords but one that has stoked concerns about housing affordability for renters.”

The article also cited results from a recent Reis Inc. report which revealed that average effective rents rose 4.6% in 2015, the biggest gain since before the recession. Over the past 15 years, rents have risen at a rate of 2.7% annually. 

Where are rents headed?

Jonathan Smoke, Chief Economist at recently warned that:

“Low rental vacancies and a lack of new rental construction are pushing up rents, and we expect that they’ll outpace home price appreciation in the year ahead.”  

Bottom Line

NAR’s Chief Economist, Lawrence Yun had this to say in the latest Existing Home Sales Report:

 “With rents steadily rising and average fixed rates well below 4 percent, qualified first-time buyers should be more active participants than what they are right now.”

One way to protect yourself from rising rents is to lock in your housing expense by buying a home. If you are ready and willing to buy, meet with a local real estate professional who can help determine if you are able to today!

Home Buyers: Don’t Wait Forever for ‘The One’

When you’re dating, you can spend years searching for the perfect relationship only to—possibly—wait too long and miss out on something great. Suddenly, over your sad microwave meal and bottle of cheap red wine, you’re looking back on your life choices, wondering what could have been if you hadn’t been so darned picky.

Well, the same goes for house hunting. You can drive yourself crazy searching for your dream home. You’ve found houses that have come close, after all. So the perfect one is bound to appear soon, right?

good-enoughNot necessarily. We know the hunt can be emotionally draining, but at some point you have to go from house hunter to home owner.

We’re not encouraging you to make a choice that will fill you with buyer’s remorse. But to borrow a line from the Rolling Stones: You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes … you get what you need. We can’t give you love advice (and trust us, you would not want us to), but we do happen to know a few things about real estate. Here are three questions to ask yourself; the answers will help you determine whether it’s time to settle on a home that might not be what your dreams are made of.

1. Are my expectations realistic?

Everyone has a dream home. Mine is a Craftsman with Victorian high ceilings, art deco details, and a Mid-Century Modern feel. But here’s the thing. That Frankenstein of architectural styles doesn’t exist—and your dream home probably doesn’t either.

“There is no such thing as a ‘perfect home,’” says Ryan Fitzgerald, Realtor® and owner of Raleigh Realty in Raleigh, NC.

There’s always going to be something not so lovable in each house you view. The key to finding the right home is setting realistic expectations. “You can find a home that meets almost all of what you are looking for,” Fitzgerald says.

Make a list of your dream features and amenities before you start house hunting—but be willing to let some of those features go once you start looking at properties. It helps to score each feature on a scale of 1 to 10—that way you (and your partner, if you have one) are on the same page about which amenities are deal breakers and which are simply nice to have.

2. How many properties have I viewed?

Once you’re house hunting, it can be nearly impossible to decide when you’ve looked at enough houses. After all, the perfect house could be listed any day now. Go ahead and view online listings as much as you want. There’s no harm in real estate stalking in your spare time, but you should set a limit for actual viewings.

“If you go view more than eight homes [without finding anything], there’s a good chance you’re confused as to what you’re actually looking for,” Fitzgerald says. “You’re trying to piece together a home that doesn’t exist.”

If you find that you’re searching for your own Frankenstein (it won’t work, I promise), take a moment and ask yourself how many homes you’ve visited. Have you reached the (self-imposed) cap? If so, make a list of each property’s strengths and weakness, and then get ready to compromise.

3. What am I willing to compromise?

If you’ve set realistic expectations and looked at more than a few houses, it’s time to start making some tough decisions. It might feel like settling, but you’ll probably thank us later when you’re finally a homeowner. Just make sure you’re not compromising on something you’ll regret later, like the location of the home.

The real estate adage “location, location, location” bears repeating here. After all, a great house won’t matter much if you’re driving two hours to work every day or the only nearby grocery store closes at 7 p.m. If you’re not sure where to compromise, ask your Realtor. That’s what they’re there for.

The exception to the rule

After months of searching (especially in competitive markets), you might feel the pressure to choose something—anything—just to achieve homeownership and stop throwing away your money on rent.

We’re going to contradict ourselves a bit here and tell you this: Sometimes it’s OK to keep looking. When you’re deciding on a home, you should always consider the current market, even if it means you’ll be shopping for a little while longer.

“If you are having trouble finding a home and you have proper expectations, don’t settle—especially if you’re in a hot market,” Fitzgerald says.

If you’re in a sellers’ market, homes can go quickly and you might just be missing the window of opportunity. It might make sense to wait a little longer than rush to try to beat out an overzealous buyer. After all, competition can breed short-lived desire—and you don’t want to be stuck with a dud after the admirers have moved on to the next attraction.

How to Get Out of the “Renting Rut”

Renting a home is a good option for some, but buying a home just might be the best thing for you. When you rent a home, you send money to someone else every month in exchange for knowing that you can call on your landlord when the roof leaks, an appliance stops working or your bathroom faucet breaks. There are some big advantages to buying a house that will help you get out of your renting rut and focus more on your future.
Three Excellent Reasons to Buy a Home So You Can Get out of the
Build Equity
Did you know that when you rent a home, you help someone else build equity? Any changes that you make with your landlord’s approval puts money back in his or her pocket. Keeping the yard clean and taking care of routine maintenance builds equity in that property. When you buy a home of your own, you have the chance to build equity of your own, which you can use to obtain a loan later.

Save On Your Taxes
When you rent a house, you cannot deduct the money you spend on your taxes. Though some states will let you make a small deduction based on the total amount you spend in rent each month, you cannot make any deductions on your federal taxes. When you buy a home, you can save with a few different types of deductions.

The federal government lets you make a deduction if your home is worth more than what you currently owe on your taxes. If you purchased your first home, you can make a deduction in regards to your property taxes. You can also deduct money that you spend on some renovations and energy saving appliances.

Put Your Personal Touch On Things
As long as you continue renting, you live in a home that belongs to someone else. Your landlord has final say over what you do and do not do. This often means that you cannot make repairs or significant changes without seeking approval first.

Renting a home lets you put your personal touch on things. You can paint the walls any colors you want, rip out the carpet to add hardwood flooring or even make significant changes outside to turn your new home into your dream home.

Now that you know more about the benefits of buying a home and how that purchase can get you out of the rental rut you’re in currently, turn to a real estate professional for assistance.