Buying a Love Nest

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, I thought it would be interesting to review data on homebuying trends for singles and married couples. According to the Wall Street Journal, single men and women bought homes at approximately the same rate in the 1980’s. Today, that has changed: approximately 20% of homebuyers are single women, while 10% are single men (stats from Todd Manning at Regions Mortgage). These higher percentages may relate to the fact that people are getting married later in life…I bought my own home as a single woman because I figured, why wait?  I’d venture to say that thinking is prevalent among young, single professionals who have the credit and income to buy a home, but are just “missing” the spouse…the husband or wife is nice to have (of course!), but not a requirement, and home ownership has so many benefits that many are deciding to go ahead and go it alone.

Another interesting trend in homebuying is that more couples who are not married are buying homes together (see the article here). While this can complicate the loan and title processes, couples say that it brings them closer together.  Picture1This may seem like an unconventional thing to do, but it’s becoming more common, and I see one big advantage – it’s a great way to ensure that you and your significant other are on the same page in terms of finances.  A lender is going to go over credit history, debt-to-income ratios, etc. in depth, so it’s a great way to determine whether you are both a good financial match prior to being connected financially (and otherwise) for life.

So, what about LOVE and MARRIAGE? Do they still go together like a horse and carriage?  Well, the short answer is yes.  One interesting fact is that cities with a high percentage of married people typically have higher homeownership rates. For example, in cities where more than 30% of the population is married, on average, 50% of homes are owned (stats from Todd Manning at Regions Mortgage).  Also,married homeowners are also less likely to have homes with negative equity than their single counterparts (see the article here).  I think the long-term commitment that couples enter into for marriage is mirrored in the commitment to a 15- or 30-year financial commitment, and that for most couples, the childhood dream of getting married and having a family goes hand-in-hand with having a dream home…even though the trend of white-picket fences has long-since passed!

I may not be able to help you with your love life or finding that Valentine, but I sure can help you in your home search, whether you’re single, almost-married, or married forever!  Get in touch and let me know what I can do for you.

Home Buyers Will Pay More By The End of 2015

20150204-Cost-of-Waiting

The Cost of Waiting (Source: keepingcurrentmatters.com)

There could be a high cost for buyers to pay if they’re hesitating to purchase a home within the next few months.  Why?  There are two main factors, both of which should be considered when looking to buy a home – 1) the rate at which home values are increasing and 2) the amount home mortgage rates are projected to increase.  Home values have increased by 20% (gasp!) within the past few years, and values will continue to increase as long as supply (for sale inventory) stays low.  And, as I wrote about in this blog not too long ago, I anticipate the mortgage rates to increase by the end of this year, 2015.  Mortgage rates have been in the high 3% and low 4% range for a while now.  But, what do both of these factors together mean for the average homebuyer?  Well, it means there could be a high cost for waiting to buy, to the tune of hundreds of dollars per month. Take a look at the graphic…

By the end of the year, if current projections become reality, it’ll cost a buyer $10,000 more to purchase AND almost $200 more monthly to pay for a home.  That’s a lot of money, folks!  Want to discuss this more?  Get in touch by phone, text, e-mail, or carrier pigeon, I’ll answer to them all!

Staging Really Does Help Sell Homes

I know from my own experience in real estate that hiring a professional stager to stage the house is key to a successful (and less painful) home selling process.  In fact, it’s part of what I call my Show & Tell Strategy – the “Show” part being to set up a home to show well through professional staging, the “Tell” part being to tell the home’s story through professional photography.  So, I was excited to read this new article, Can Home Staging Really Win Over Buyers?, that

Every home, every room, the outside of the house, it all communicates a message - Barb Schwarz

Every home, every room, the outside of the house, it all communicates a message – Barb Schwarz

now provides legitimate research that supports my strong feelings that staged homes sell faster and at higher prices than their unstaged (and frankly, sad) competition!  One of the strongest statements in the article is that 81% of real estate agents who represent buyers say that their buyers can more easily visualize the home as their own…this is so important to getting a buyer to fall in love with a home.  And I don’t care how cute your home is – every home benefits from staging it to sell!  Why is that?  Because a house may be decorated beautifully, but staging is NOT decorating.  A decorated home in my opinion is very personalized – there are family photographs, unique treasures, big comfy beds, etc. A staged home is very de-personalized and items are placed in ways that allow a buyer to see the home in it’s best possible light…and to seem as large as possible, because size does matter to buyers!  My advice for home sellers everywhere – get a professional realtor who provides staging services to you. My advice for home sellers in DFW – contact me (Heather Kinder Sims) and let me show you how my Show & Tell Strategy can make you a believer in the home staging process too!

Real Estate in 2014 & 2015 – What’s the Story?

The real estate market could really not have been better in 2014.  The DFW market was crazy busy, with…

  1. Very few days on market for listed homes,
  2. Multiple offers on homes being the norm for buyers and sellers (not great for buyers, but great for sellers!),
  3. Mortgage rates continuing to be at or near historic lows,
  4. Big percentage increases in average home values (about 20%!) as described in this article, State of the DFW Market.

On a personal note, I was so thankful to have had my best year yet in 2014.  Listings were selling extremely fast – almost 60% had offers within 24 hours – and my total sales volume was over $8 million.  You can take a look here at my 2014 Year in Review…

It was a fabulous year, but notice I said “best year yet” about 2014?  That’s because I’m gearing up for 2015 to be even better!  As this new year begins, I’m ready to look into my crystal ball (while also stepping out on a limb) and make some predictions about what is going to happen in residential real estate this year.  Here we go!

1) Mortgage Rates Will Increase.  Rates have stayed at record lows for a good while now.  In Texas, we’ve benefited from the national housing market (especially in California, Florida, etc.) still needing some help to absorb the remaining foreclosures, short sales and related slow markets.  In recent months, the tide is turning and those markets are improving.  This fact, in my opinion, means that rates are going to have to increase, BUT I don’t expect a big jump; I think it’ll be one percent at most.  In terms of timing, I expect to see the rate increase occur in the late Spring months, prior to the Summer selling season, which is typically the prime time of the year for home sales.

2) North Texas Will Continue to Have a Strong Market. Here in the Dallas area, we have seen several major employers – Toyota and State Farm to name just a couple – choose to locate here due to our business friendly environment.  This means we have thousands of employees moving here, and those employees and their families have to have a home to move into.  When the economy is already strong, and growing, it means good things for the real estate market.

3) Three Buyer Trends to Watch.  Three trends that I have seen and that I think will continue to become even stronger in 2015 are…

  • LOCATION (e.g. in a certain neighborhood, near work, near family) is more important than SIZE of home,
  • Paint and flooring are top-of-the-list IMPROVEMENTS of what buyers are willing to do when they purchase a home (anything else, sellers need to address prior to listing), and
  • The great OUTDOORS is going to continue to be a big feature that buyers look for, as a way of visually/emotionally expanding the home’s living space, and as a way to relax and entertain at home.

I am so excited about the year to come, about all the people – singles, couples and families – I’m going to help “make a move” in 2015.  Want to know more about selling your house, buying a home, or just about real estate in general?  I’m here for you by e-mail, text, or the old-fashioned way by phone!

Should You Sell Your Home During the Holidays?

The short answer is “Yes!”  But I’m a realtor and of course I’m going to say that, right?  Well, I’ll be honest and tell you that I think there are times of the year that are better than others to sell a home, and there are pros and cons to them all.  It’s a fact though that homes sold in November and December sell faster and sell closer to their asking price, according to a National Association of Realtors (NAR) study (go to link).  This is not conventional wisdom – everyone says that the summer months are the best time to buy and sell!  Think about it for a minute though…if you’ve just run a marathon and there are only two companies selling bottled water at the end of the run, aren’t those two companies going to be able to sell the bottled water at a higher price than if there are ten companies selling bottled water?  It’s supply and demand.  As a runner, you need that water and you’re going to pay for it, and you’re probably not going to haggle over the price, at least not much – you not only need it, you need it quickly!  As a bottled water company at that race, you’re in a pretty good position.

During the holidays, sellers are in a good position too.  One, there are not as many homes for buyers to view and choose from, so there’s less competition.  Two, the buyers that are looking during this time of year are serious buyers – they are out looking because they have a serious need to buy a new home, either a relocation for work, a lease ending, their home has sold, or something similar.  Three, the buyers that are looking very likely want to be in their new home by Christmas and/or the beginning of the year, which means they want a new home quickly.  (Check out this video for more information!)

All of these are pros for sellers!  Now, sellers still can’t get crazy and list their home during the holidays for $30,000 more than market price and think it’s going to sell due to these factors…price and condition of the houses listed are still important…we can’t ever forget those cornerstones of selling.  The bottom like is, if you’re thinking of selling, don’t listen to conventional wisdom and try to sell during the late Spring and Summer months like most people do!  Get your home on the market in November or December – if it’s priced well and looks good to buyers, it will sell it quickly  for the price you set.  Want to know more?  I’m always here to help!

Home Buying – What Is the Option Period?

This is the first video in a series of 5 that I’m doing to help buyers understand the home buying process. There’s a lot to the whole process, so I’m breaking it down for you with these easy-to-understand videos! The next parts of the process I’ll describe will be 2) earnest money and how it works 3) down payment amounts with different types of loans 4) appraisal and how it’s key to the process 5) closing (you almost have the keys at this point!). Stay tuned and if you have questions, please get in touch with me!

This One’s for Buyers

So I have something to say to Buyers out there…..it’s rough, isn’t it?!   This market (in DFW) isn’t fun for buyers because there’s not much to look at and what there is to look at is owned by that “other” group – those darned Sellers!   If it weren’t for THEM, Buyers could actually buy a home!  Oh wait, but it’s the Sellers that have what Buyers want…that makes things difficult. 🙂

The bottom line is, can’t we all just get along??  The Us versus Them mentality between Buyers and Sellers makes things adversarial, and it doesn’t have to be that way.  Sellers want to sell, and Buyers want to buy, and the idea is to make that work.  And in order to make that work, there are things that Buyers can do to make a good first impression on Sellers – this is especially important in multiple offer situations!

Let’s first talk about an offer on a home where there are not multiple offers AND the house is listed for a reasonable market value price.  Should a buyer put in an offer that is less than list price?  Yes, by all means do – BUT, don’t make a bad first impression by making a really low first offer, thinking that the Seller will counter.  Often, Sellers don’t counter low offers, in spite of real estate professionals like me telling them they should always counter.  Do you know why?  Because it’s like someone just told them their baby is ugly!  ImageThey see it from the emotional standpoint that the home that they’ve made for themselves and their family for the last 5, 10, 15 years isn’t valued by the Buyer, that they’ve essentially spent 5 to 15 years carrying a baby and it came out really ugly – they have a very emotional response.  If Buyers want a house, the last thing they should do is low-ball!  Submitting a fair offer starts the process off right from the beginning, and makes it a little less rough for both Buyers and Sellers.

Now, how does a Buyer make their offer stand out among multiple offers?  There are several ways, but what might be most surprising is that it’s really not always about money – gasp!  As I’ve said, this process is emotional.  So, my advice in multiple offers is – find a way to appeal to the Sellers’ emotions.  Buyers should have their real estate professional find out what the Sellers’ story is, ask them to communicate with the other agent to find out if there’s anything the Sellers really want and see if there’s a way to give it to them.  For example, if it’s April and school’s over in June, the Sellers might really be worried about keeping the kids in school until the end of the year – so a Buyer offering them a free leaseback might be worth more than a Buyer offering $1,000 over list price.

I know it’s rough out there for Buyers!  But by making a good first impression in these ways, in both one-offer or multiple-offer situations, Buyers can find a great home – it is possible, even in this crazy market!  Want to know more?  I’m here for you by e-mail, text, or the old-fashioned way by phone!

 

 

 

 

What Do You HAVE To Have In Your New Home?

There are many beautiful homes out there for a potential home buyer (although inventory is down, as I’ve discussed in previous posts). But it can be like that crazy ex-girlfriend 76794-20140314who keeps turning a guy’s head even when83305-20140314 he knows she’s just shy of actually being declared legally insane…a luxurious master bathroom and hardwood floors can quickly distract buyers into thinking that a particular home might work for them, even if it’s missing that extra bedroom for the new baby!
That’s why I encourage buyers to come up with a list of must-haves and to stick with them. Do you have to have a pool (I definitely do in my next home!), a certain school district, a certain neighborhood, a certain drive-time to work? Whatever your must-have list has on it, stick with it and DON’T EVEN LOOK at homes that don’t meet those needs!
If, after looking for a while and realizing that what you thought was a must-have is really just a “maybe-want”, cross it off your list and widen your search. And don’t forget to tell your realtor that you’ve adjusted your list a bit – it helps us help you when we all have the same must-have and maybe-want lists!  Click here for a great Must-Have & Maybe-Want List Template that will help you create your personalized list for your home search.  Don’t know what you want, need help deciding what you want, know what you want and ready to consider buying? Give me a call, I’m always ready to help.

Home Staging – What Is It & Why Do It?

You probably have heard of home staging if you want HGTV or TLC or those kinds of channels, but what is home staging and what is the process? Home staging is the process of using a professional stager to situate the items and areas in your house so that it will appeal more to buyers by telling them a story…watch to see why!

Consider This! It’s Your First Step to Selling Your Home

ImageI often get a phone call or e-mail from a potential home seller and their first question is, can you tell me what my home is worth?  Of course that’s a big consideration in selling your home, but my first question to potential home sellers is – what’s the plan for WHEN you want to move and WHERE you want to be?  

If your plan has a specific timeframe, like you want to get your kiddos in school or your commute to work is killing you and you want to move immediately, that can affect the home selling process.  That’s especially true in terms of how a home is priced and when we should put it on the market. 

The other key consideration is that old adage – location, location, location.  It’s so cliché, but it’s also so true (kind of like those things your mom used to tell you that you now find are actually right)!  Consider where you (and your spouse) WORK and where you (and your kids, friends, family, etc.) PLAY.  In my experience, the biggest cause of buyer’s remorse is that a buyer regrets the location they chose because they fell in love with a home that was out of their target sphere of where they’d intended to buy. The cure to that is, don’t even look at homes outside of your ideal area!

So, once you’ve decided WHEN you want/need to sell and WHERE you ideally want to your new home to be, contact a real estate pro (shameless plug – me!) and get moving!

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