The #1 Reason to List Your House for Sale NOW!

 

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If you are debating whether or not to list your house for sale this year, here is the #1 reason not to wait!

Buyer Demand Continues to Outpace the Supply of Homes for Sale

The National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) Chief Economist Lawrence Yun recently commented on the current lack of inventory:

“Inventory coming onto the market during this year’s spring buying season – as evidenced again by last month’s weak reading – was not even close to being enough to satisfy demand. 

That is why home prices keep outpacing incomes and listings are going under contract in less than a month – and much faster – in many parts of the country.”

The latest Existing Home Sales Report shows that there is currently a 4.1-month supply of homes for sale. This remains lower than the 6-month supply necessary for a normal market, and 6.1% lower than last year’s inventory level.

The chart below details the year-over-year inventory shortages experienced over the last 12 months:

The #1 Reason to List Your House for Sale NOW! | MyKCM

Anything less than a six-month supply is considered a “seller’s market.”

Bottom Line

Let’s get together to discuss the market conditions in your neighborhood so that I can assist you in gaining access to the buyers who are ready, willing, and able to buy right now!  The 2018 Summer selling season is ending soon so if you want to make a move quickly, it would be best to make a move now! Give me a shout!

Mortgage Lingo Made Easy

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Buying a home can feel overwhelming, especially when you add in the loan lingo used by lenders and real estate agents, according to Alex Parker, sales manager at Home Team Mortgage – Ebby Halliday Realtors’ affiliated mortgage source (he’s a smart guy!). To help alleviate some of the confusion, below are some common terms frequently used in the mortgage process:

FHA Mortgage

FHA is a type of mortgage that offers lower down payments, allows for lower credit scores and less income to qualify. These mortgages are government backed by the Federal Housing Administration, hence the FHA acronym!

VA Mortgage

VA mortgages are loans that can only be used by qualified veterans, active-duty military personnel and reservists. These loans require no down payment and are guaranteed by the Department of Veteran Affairs. They are a great benefit to our brave military population!

Conventional Mortgage

Conventional mortgages are loans offering a wide range of options for borrowers. Some features may include monthly or single premium mortgage insurance, second liens, and higher loan amounts.

Fixed Rate Mortgage

This is a mortgage loan for which the interest rate is fixed for the life of the loan. The principal and interest payment does not vary. As with every loan, the escrowed portion of the payment may fluctuate up or down depending on the property tax or homeowner’s insurance changes. Most mortgages in our market place are fixed rate mortgages, meaning that regardless of whether they are FHA, VA or conventional, they have a fixed rate.

Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM)

This is a mortgage loan for which the interest rate may change annually, often after a set number of years (for example, 5 years). ARMs are tied to indexes which are used to determine changing rates to align with the current market. The principal and interest payment may vary up or down, along with the escrowed portion of the payment.

Annual Percentage Rate (APR)

The APR illustrates the annual cost of financing, including interest rate, fees and charges and is expressed as an annual interest rate. Because you may be paying loan discount points and other prepaid finance charges at closing, the APR disclosed is very often higher than the interest rate on your loan. This APR can be compared to the APR on other loan programs to give you a consistent means of comparing rates and programs.

Pre-Qualification

A process by which a lender assesses whether a borrower qualifies for a mortgage based on information provided by the customer. Typically, a prequalification is an INFORMAL review as a preemptive to pre-approval and full loan approval.

Pre-Approval

A process by which a lender verifies information including credit, income and asset information to assure the borrowers qualify for the mortgage. A pre-approval is more FORMAL and is much more powerful in negotiating as it provides peace of mind for buyers, sellers and agents.

To learn more about the mortgage process and to determine how much you qualify to borrow for a home purchase, contact me and I’ll get you some great mortgage contacts who can help set you on the right path to homeownership or to a new home!

Homes are More Affordable Today Than They Were 20 Years Ago!

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With both home prices and mortgage rates increasing this year, there’s a lot of concern about our continued ability to purchase a major part of the American Dream – owning a home, especially for first-time homebuyers. However, if you look at some stats and compare housing affordability today to what it was in the late 1900’s and early 2000’s, you can see that we’re actually in much better shape than a lot of what the hype out there might have you believe!

In Black Knight’s latest monthly Mortgage Monitor, they revealed that in the vast majority of the country, it is actually more affordable to purchase a home today than it was between 1995 to 2003 when looking at mortgage payments (determined by price and interest rate) compared to incomes. Yes, it is true that home prices are up compared to 1995-2003, BUT mortgage rates are still much lower now than they were at that time. Today, they stand at about 4.5%…compare these to today’s rate, and you’ll see that things are pretty good…

  • 1995 – 7.93%
  • 1996 – 7.81%
  • 1997 – 7.6%
  • 1998 – 6.94%
  • 1999 – 7.44%
  • 2000 – 8.05%
  • 2001 – 6.97%
  • 2002 – 6.54%
  • 2003 – 5.83%

In addition, wages have risen over the last twenty years.  Black Knight’s research revealed that, when comparing “the share of median income required to buy the median-priced home” today to the average between 1995 to 2003, it is currently more affordable to purchase a home in most areas of these fabulous United States, specifically in 44 of 50 states.

Here’s a state map of the percentage change in the price-to-payment ratio. Positive numbers indicate that it is less affordable to buy (shown in RED), while negative numbers indicate that it is more affordable (showing in light and dark BLUE).

Homes are More Affordable in 44 out of 50 States | MyKCM

Bottom Line

Whether you’re moving up to the home of your dreams or purchasing your first house, it is a great time to buy!  And that isn’t just this realtor talking, that’s based on FACTS and historic affordability data. 🙂  Want to know more about what’s going on in the market?  Get in touch with me, I’m always ready to talk real estate!

Getting Pre-Approved Should Always Be Your First Step

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In many markets across the country, the number of buyers searching for their dream homes is way more than the number of homes for sale. This has led to a competitive marketplace where buyers often need to stand out. One way to show you’re serious about buying your dream home is to get pre-qualified or pre-approved for a mortgage before starting your search.

Even if you’re in a market that is not as competitive, understanding your budget will give you the confidence of knowing if your dream home is within your reach.

Freddie Mac lays out the advantages of pre-approval in the ‘My Home’ section of their website:

“It’s highly recommended that you work with your lender to get pre-approved before you begin house hunting. Pre-approval will tell you how much home you can afford and can help you move faster, and with greater confidence, in competitive markets.”

One of the many advantages of working with a real estate pro (like me!) is that we generally have relationships with lenders who will be able to help you with this process. Once you’ve selected a lender, you’ll need to fill out their loan application and provide them with important information regarding “your credit, debt, work history, down payment and residential history.”

Freddie Mac describes the ‘4 Cs’ that help determine the amount you’ll be qualified to borrow:

  1. Capacity: Your current and future ability to make your payments
  2. Capital or cash reserves: The money, savings, and investments you have that can be sold quickly for cash
  3. Collateral: The home, or type of home, that you would like to purchase
  4. Credit: Your history of paying bills and other debts on time

Bottom Line

Many potential home buyers overestimate the down payment and credit scores needed to qualify for a mortgage today. If you’re ready and willing to buy, you may be pleasantly surprised at your ability to get that home you’ve been dreaming about, so give me a call and let’s start strategizing about your home search!

 

The Future is Bright for the Ebby Halliday Companies!

I’m not sure if you’ve heard this or not, but some big news just hit the wires, and it involves a company you might have heard of – Ebby Halliday Real Estate Inc. 😉  The news story was presented in this way: “The company leadership recently announced that it intends to be acquired by HomeServices of America, Inc., a Berkshire Hathaway affiliate. The acquisition will include Ebby’s three real estate brands: Ebby Halliday Realtors, Dave Perry-Miller Real Estate, and Williams Trew Real Estate, as well as the firm’s affiliated mortgage and title companies. The Ebby Halliday companies will continue to operate under their current brand names. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.” I myself am sad about that, I would’ve loved to know the sale price! Inquiring minds want to know! I guess we never will, but I bet it was more than the average sale price of a home in North Texas, that’s for sure! 😉

As you know, the brokerage that I’m proud to call my broker has been serving North Texas residents since 1945, and Ebby Halliday is one of the country’s most widely respected real estate companies. With sales of more than $8 billion, the firm ranked 12th in the nation in 2017. With our memberships in Leading Real Estate Companies of the World, Luxury Portfolio International, Who’s Who in Luxury Real Estate, and numerous other industry networks, agents of Ebby Halliday are ideally and uniquely positioned to represent clients across North Texas.

Mary Frances Burleson, the current President of Ebby Halliday, Inc. described the company purchasing Ebby in the following way: “HomeServices of America is the nation’s second-largest residential real estate brokerage company and one of the largest providers of integrated real estate services. HomeServices of America is the owner of the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, Real Living Real Estate and Prudential Real Estate franchise networks.”

The Ebby Halliday purchase won’t change anything in the short term. The long-term vision, I’m not completely sure of, but one thing I am sure of is that regardless of what company owns Ebby Halliday, I as an agent will continue to serve my clients as I always have – with hustle and heart and integrity and stellar communication, if I do say so myself!  If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch!

3 Floor Plan Fads You’ll See More Often

Home floor plans can take much longer to evolve than design trends. Changes tend to occur over years, as some designers and architects look to push the envelope and take a gamble on what they believe will resonate with buyers. But a few trends are starting to emerge.

BUILDER recently weighed in on some of the hottest fads that could impact more floor plans in 2018, including:

1. Flexibility for multigenerational households. More homes are being built to accommodate multigenerational households, such as with a main-level bedroom suite or even an in-law unit to offer privacy to cohabiting relatives. Flexible layouts that can accommodate a variety of living arrangements are growing in demand, builders say. In 2014, 60.6 million Americans resided in multigenerational households, according to the Pew Research Center. Homeowners may not need the extra space quite yet, but they desire to use it one day. The extra bedroom on the main floor may be outfitted as an office or study until it’s needed. This is something that a lot of buyers are looking for and it’s not super easy to find yet!

2. The modern farmhouse. White “farmhouse” designs are in high demand. These homes are 90-2characterized by large windows, simple roof lines, and bright white siding that may be paired with dark windows. “The modern farmhouse aesthetic seems to have struck a chord with the American home buyer because it relates back to a more bucolic era while also embracing all the needs of modern life,” says Jonathan Hyman, architectural department manager at Donald A. Gardner Architects. “The simplicity and clean lines, along with a little nostalgia, help the modern farmhouse create a relaxing environment in our chaotic contemporary lives.” Some designers are experimenting with adding more color to the farmhouse look, like in soft pastels of light green or soft tan colors.

3. Greater storage options. Storage is getting more emphasis on floor plans. This is probably one of the things I hear most from homebuyers – we need lots of storage! Mudrooms and laundry areas are showing up on more home layouts as separate spaces rather than combined areas. Homes with open layouts are finding more need for storage to tuck away items. Mudrooms are popular as drop zones for backpacks, coats, and shoes. Also, the placement of this storage is getting more consideration in regards to homeowners’ lifestyles. For example, some layouts from the Nelson Design Group in Jonesboro, Ark., feature master bedroom closets that open directly into the laundry room.  I also see built-in cabinets just inside garage doors a lot – these are great for backpacks, coats and purses too, and are very popular with homebuyers!

Want to talk more about home trends, or what you might be looking for in a new home?? I’m just a phone call away!

Source: “The Top Five Trends in Floor Plans,” BUILDER (March 6, 2018)

LUXESELECT: Homes for $5 Million Plus

LuxeSelect is a monthly feature showcasing homes from Luxury Portfolio International® members around the world starting at $5 million USD. I thought you would find this interesting because, after all, who doesn’t love to look at BEAUTIFUL homes?!  Take a look by clicking on the website links provided…and I challenge you not to envy the lifestyles of the rich as you do!  I have to say that I especially like the one without the price even listed, it’s “Price Upon Request”. I think I’ve only seen that at a restaurant (and it scares me)! 😉


Web ID: MIWB

EXTRAORDINARY HOME ON EXCLUSIVE LONG NECK POINT | $8,495,000

Houlihan Lawrence
Janine T./Doug M. — +1 203 246 7518
Darien, CT

Sweeping views of Noroton Bay & New York City’s skyline await at this stunning Nantucket Colonial set high on Darien’s exclusive Long Neck Point. Windows galore offer views of the Long Island Sound and 158′ of direct waterfront. Soaring ceilings brighten the kitchen & family room, with French doors to a spacious terrace for watching unforgettable sunsets. Master suite includes fireplace & private deck: the perfect place to start or end your day. WEB ID: MIWB


Web ID: RRMU

WATERFRONT VILLA IN PORTO ROTONDO  |  PRICE UPON REQUEST

Immobilsarda
John T. Bracco — +39 348 748 4890
Porto Rotondo, Sardinia, Italy
WEB ID: RRMU

Web ID: YPHC

EXCEPTIONAL PROPERTY SURROUNDED BY MAIDSTONE CLUB  |  $13,250,000

Brown Harris Stevens Residential Sales – The Hamptons
Martha P. Gundersen — +1 631 903 6131
East Hampton Village, NY
WEB ID: YPHC

Web ID: FFMW

EXPERIENCE PERFECTION: 16140 MATILIJA DRIVE  |  $10,700,000

Alain Pinel Realtors
Sandhya Murthy — +1 510 304 2703
Los Gatos, CA
WEB ID: FFMW

Web ID: DWXW

MAJESTIC EUROPEAN GATED ESTATE  |  $8,850,000

Harry Norman, REALTORS
Patty Webb — +1 404 414 7644
Atlanta, GA
WEB ID: DWXW

Web ID: DDGU

EXPERIENCE THE ULTIMATE WATERFRONT LIFESTYLE  |  $8,500,000

Robert Paul Properties
Robert Kinlin — +1 508 648 2739
Osterville, Cape Cod, MA
WEB ID: DDGU

Web ID: SPTB

A BREATHTAKING VIEW IN SAINT BARTHELEMY  |  $8,000,000

Sibarth Real Estate
Christian Wattiau — +59 059 029 8891
St Jean, Saint Barthelemy
WEB ID: SPTB

Web ID: QFYW

PRISTINE THREE BEDROOM CONDOMINIUM ON CENTRAL PARK  |  $7,995,000

Stribling & Associates
Charlotte Van Doren — +1 212 585 4521
New York, NY
WEB ID: QFYW

Web ID: ALIC

MAGNIFICENT HOME EXUDES ELEGANCE  |  $6,900,000

Brown Harris Stevens Residential Sales – The Hamptons
Martha P. Gundersen — +1 631 903 6131
East Hampton Village, NY
WEB ID: ALIC

Now if you are interested in something priced at this level in the Dallas area, I’m more than happy to help, or if you prefer a little more reasonably priced home, give me a call for that too, of course! 🙂

-Heather

Did You Get Your Tax Assessed Value & Think It Was Crazy?

By Niki Fanara |April 18, 2018

New kitchen in modern luxury home

Homeowners are often surprised when they receive their annual statement from the local tax appraiser’s office. Often the assessed value of their home is very different than what they believe the property is worth.

Now’s a great time to take a look at the difference between two common real estate terms: “Assessed Value” and “Market Value.”

The Assessed Value is the dollar value assigned to a property by a public tax assessor for the purposes of measuring applicable taxes. The number is very often a point of contention with homeowners, who may believe it to be too high or too low. The Assessed Value does not offer a shortcut to a home’s Market Value.

The Market Value is the highest estimated price a property will bring in a reasonable amount of time if exposed for sale on the open market. Market Value is influenced by such factors as homes that recently sold in the area, the location of the property, the home’s amenities, and the condition of the property. Of course, Market Value is also influenced by the current economy.

Knowing the difference between Assessed Value and Market Value is great. But even better is knowing what your property is worth in today’s fast-paced North Texas housing market.

Want to know more? Get in touch with me today!

Heads up, the property tax protest deadline is earlier this year than in previous years. If you want to protest, you must get that in by May 15, 2018, or 30 days after a tax notice is delivered, whichever is later.  Wondering about your assessment?? I’m happy to run numbers for you, just holler!

4 Tax Deductions for Sellers

Selling costs: “You can deduct any costs associated with selling the home—including legal fees, escrow fees, advertising costs, and real estate agent commissions,” says Joshua Zimmelman, president of Westwood Tax and Consulting in Rockville Center, NY.

Home improvements and repairs: Some renovations done to make a home more marketable for resale may be eligible for a tax break. “If you needed to make home improvements in order to sell your home, you can deduct those expenses as selling costs as long as they were made within 90 days of the closing,” says Zimmelman.

Property taxes: You can deduct the amount you paid in property taxes for the time you owned the home. This has been capped at $10,000 in total deductions, starting in 2018, however.

Mortgage interest: You can deduct the interest on your mortgage for the amount of time you owned the home. Starting in 2018, new homeowners and sellers can deduct the interest on up to $750,000 of mortgage debt. Homeowners who had a mortgage prior to Dec. 15, 2017, can continue to deduct up to $1 million under the old law, Zimmelman says.

And don’t forget a tax exclusion still available to home sellers on capital gains. Capital gains are your profits from selling a home. Those profits are taxed as income, but you can exclude up to $250,000 of the capital gains from the sale if you’re single and up to $500,000 if filing as a married couple. To be eligible, you must have lived in your home at least two of the past five years.

 

Have more tax questions? Call your favorite accountant. Have real estate questions? Call your favorite realtor, meaning of course, yours truly! I’m ready to help in any way I can, just give me a call, shoot me a text, send a carrier pigeon, I’ll respond quickly to them all!

Source: “5 Sweet Tax Deductions When Selling a Home: Did You Take Them All?realtor.com® (March 8, 2018), 

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What Can You Do With Your Dog When You’re Selling Your House??

dog

Photo by Unsplash

For all of you dog owners considering selling a home, there are two major goals. The first is to make sure the dog stays as stress-free as possible (there’s enough of that for you during the process, let alone your fur-baby).  The second is to make sure the presence of your dog doesn’t turn off potential buyers…I know that’s hard to imagine, but a dog can be a distraction during showings for sure!  Both can be achieved as long as we make a game plan before we put the house up for sale.  Here are some tips.

Don’t Advertise Your Dog’s Presence

Any potential buyer is going to know that you have a dog.  There may be dog toys in a small basket or a dog house in the backyard. This is fine – most people don’t mind little signs of a dog here and there.  But as ClosetBox notes (and the professional stager who I hire for my listings will help reinforce!) hiding signs of pets is an important part of properly staging your home for showings.  TIPS: For potential buyers, make sure food and water bowls, leashes, toys, and dog beds are stored in closets or baskets. For your dog,  make sure to put everything back when the showing is over, otherwise the dog may be confused or feel a bit displaced.

Do Clean a Little Deeper

As a pet owner, you get used to things like the smells of having a dog or hair on the couch or carpets. These things, while no biggie to you have the potential to really turn off potential buyers.  TIP: Look at the cleanliness of your house with a discerning eye, from the perspective of a buyer and see if you need to maybe increase your cleaning frequency or hire a professionals to clean while you’re trying to sell.  One thing that can really help (and I speak from personal experience on this!) is to invest in an automatic vaccuum – like a Roomba or a Neato – so that you’re not increasing your stress-level by having to constantly pick up hair off the floor. Lint rollers are great for removing dog hair from upholstery, and you can even invest in some Scotch-guarding if things get too bad. TIP: Have a friend (or someone who will tell you the truth, maybe your mother-in-law!) come over and do a “smell test”.  IF there are smells that you have grown accustomed to and haven’t been aware of, deodorize surfaces and fabrics in your home with a simple scent and spray, like Febreze. I don’t recommend using candles, strong air fresheners, or diffusers, because those actually can draw attention to odor in the home. I’ve been with buyers so many times when we walked into a home and there was an overwhelming scent of air “freshener” and it immediately had the buyer wondering what the sellers were trying to cover up!

Another TIP: Clean up the POO!!!! I cannot stress this enough. During the time period where you’re actively showing your house, you HAVE to remove the yard bombs. There is nothing worse than a potential buyer stepping in you-know-what.  So, do not forget about the yard.  House tours often include outdoor viewings – so make sure you’re out there with a pooper scoop daily and/or before showings.

Do Remove Your Dog for Showings

You may think it’s ok to leave your dog out in the backyard, or in a crate in the bedroom during home showings, and if this is your ONLY option, it’s ok, but it’s definitely not ideal for several reasons. Number one, dogs can make people feel nervous and uncomfortable. Let’s face it, not everyone loves your dog like you do, plus your dog may act very differently when strangers are walking around your home. A normally calm, docile dog may get his or her protective intincts going when strangers are there and you’re not.  Number two, it’s stressful to have your home invaded by strangers – especially when the dog has been crated for potentially several hours if there are a bunch of showings back-to-back.

So, the best thing to do with your dog during showings – for the dog, for the buyers, and for you – is to get them out of the house. There are plenty of options here. You could ask a friend or neighbor to dog sit. You could employ a local dog watching service. Or, if there’s just one showing, you can even wait for the buyers to come and then simply take your dog for a long walk.

In your normal life, you want your dog to be a part of everything you do – as you should. When selling a home, however, it’s best to go against this norm. In order to make your home more attractive to potential buyers and to preserve yours (and your dog’s!) health and sanity, employ these tips to make the home selling process easier, quicker, and better for everyone.

Want to talk more about the home selling process? You know I’m only a phone call, text, or email away so get in touch!

Article contributed to by Alex Robbins.

 

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