What to Expect in the 2022 Real Estate Market

Key Takeaways:

  • Many of the dynamics seen in 2021 will carry through into next year’s housing market, but at a much less frenzied pace.
  • As remote work becomes a more permanent, widespread option, Millennials are taking advantage and entering the real estate market.
  • We’re ready for another seller’s market. Like last year, there isn’t time to waste—contact us to start planning now!

What Buyers and Sellers Need to Know About the 2022 Housing Market

In the final few weeks of 2021, both home buyers and sellers look forward to what lies ahead in 2022. We can help build your strategy to stay competitive! Don’t wait for the real estate market to heat up during the spring and summer. Here’s what you need to know to get ahead of the competition next year.

First-time home buyers can overcome the challenging market

First time home buyers celebrating

Recent real estate forecasts suggest that competitive will be the defining characteristic of the housing market throughout 2022. That will be especially true for first-time home buyers. 

Competing levels of low inventory supply and high buyer demand will continue to hold housing market values at, or above, asking prices. Total inventory will increase by the end of 2022, but it will not be enough to slow the seller’s market.

For first-time home buyers to secure their house, they need to start early and expect competition. On a positive note, low interest rates can help new homeowners build equity faster.

Millennials are working remotely and finally buying homes

Millennials buying homes

A lot has changed in these last two years. Buzzwords like “the new normal” were everywhere, along with speculations about how people lived, worked, and commuted were going to change. As we enter into 2022, we now have data reports and are beginning to see how these changes affect the housing market. 

The ability to work remotely is helping the more than 45 million Millennials that make up the fastest growing segment of buyers. After an uphill battle, they’re entering the prime first-time home buying age range of 26 – 35, and changing the real estate landscape.

Millennials are leaving the glamor of big city life to take advantage of more affordable housing markets in suburbs and rural areas. As long as they have internet access, their salary remains the same. And unsurprisingly, 99% of them use technology to research the home buying market.

With 90% of managers and employees reporting that they’re happy working from home, and productivity increasing by as much as 47%, remote work is here to stay. The new normal will also create new investment opportunities as companies seek to reduce their office sizes.  

Low inventory stretches into the new year

Low housing inventory

After years of underbuilding, housing supply shortages will continue to be a dominant feature of the market next year. One of the most significant factors that will carry over immediately from last year is low inventory supply. 

Available housing will remain tight throughout the year. While that will generate some stress, it will also drive home values higher. Estimates of continued home sales growth will be 6.6%.  

While housing inventory levels will remain lower than their pre-pandemic levels throughout 2022, a modest 0.3% growth in inventory should be enough to keep market prices from spiraling even further upward.

Sellers remain in control of the market

Person selling their home

As we look ahead to 2022, some clear realities for the housing market begin to appear: it will remain a seller’s market. Interest rates continue to hover around a record-low 3%, providing incentives for sellers to upgrade to a larger home for a lower monthly payment. 

After the refinance boom in 2020, homeowners are still in an advantageous position. With home sales expected to hit their highest level in 16 years due to Millennials entering the housing market, sellers sit in a very good position to profit. If accurately priced and, more importantly, if houses are in great condition with upgrades throughout, the real estate market will continue to be a boon for sellers. 

Be Prepared for a Competitive Year

The new normal in 2022 turns out to be an old adage: the early bird gets the worm. We have the experience and can move quickly to make sure you stay competitive, regardless of whether you’re buying or selling. Contact us today to make your plan for the new year!

From Boomers to Zoomers: Home-Buying Tips for Every Generation

Key Takeaways:

  • Buyers throughout all walks of life are wondering how to navigate today’s competitive housing market.
  • Whether you’re a Gen Z first-time buyer or a Baby Boomer looking to downsize, you should consider making a move to lock in your real estate goals.
  • Have questions about buying or selling? Contact us for personalized advice!  

What Every Generation Should Know About Buying a Home

As older members of Gen Z reach home-buying age and Millennials make up the largest share of the housing market, buyers from every generation are wondering if now is the right time to make a move. Buying a home at any stage in life comes with its own unique challenges, so it’s crucial to consider your future and factor finances into your decision.

Looking for advice? We’re here to offer some savvy real estate tips for every generation, from Gen Z to Baby Boomers.

Gen Z: The New Buyers on the Block

Gen Z home buyers

If you’re part of Generation Z, you were probably born after 1997—and the oldest “Zoomers” are just now buying their first homes at 24 and 25. Even though most members of Gen Z aren’t quite ready to tackle homeownership, this socially conscious and highly educated generation is setting goals for themselves when it comes to real estate.

According to a new survey by Homes.com, over 85% of Gen Z plans to buy a home before turning 35. So if you’re a Zoomer, now is the perfect time to begin saving and paying off any debt. Start researching the home-buying process, learning about different loan options, and setting aside as much extra cash as possible to build up your down payment (spoiler alert: it doesn’t have to be the traditional 20%). And if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to speak with an agent…it’s okay if you aren’t quite ready to buy!

Millennials: The Market Trendsetters

Millennial couple moving in

Millennials—known for their love of pets and avocado toast—comprise a whopping 37% of today’s total home-buyers. And after witnessing the 2008 market crash, a pandemic, and now record-low interest rates, they’re finally ready to buy.

Compared to other generations, Millennials waited longer to buy their first homes. This surprising shift can be attributed to rising student debt, the Great Recession, as well as a dip in marriage and fertility rates. However, if you’re one of the many Millennials looking to ditch renting and start build equity, it’s worth doing a deep dive on mortgages before beginning your search. Even if you don’t have a traditional 20% down payment saved up, you could take advantage of government backed loans or assistance programs. Remember—knowing exactly what you can afford and getting pre-approved will up your chances of securing your perfect place.

Millennials aren’t just first-time buyers, either—many have also stepped into the role of first-time sellers. If you’re selling a home without much experience, it’s more important than ever to work with the right agent. Don’t be afraid to shop around and interview a few candidates before settling on “the one!”

Gen X: Making a Comeback

Family with children

Gen X—classified as anyone born between 1965 and 1979—makes up around a quarter of today’s total buyers. And while they may not have the same momentum as Millennials, members of Gen X typically aren’t buying their first homes. In fact, many are looking to upgrade and purchase a home at a higher price point than any other generation.

Per a new survey by the National Association of Realtors, Gen X is the highest earning generation, and they tend to buy larger and more expensive homes to accommodate growing households. If you’re one of the many Gen Xers eager to upsize—perhaps even into a multigenerational home—you’ll want to take advantage of the equity you have in your current place. The right agent will be able to help you sell for top dollar and find a new house that checks all your boxes!

Baby Boomers: Downsizing…and Investing!

Senior adults holding a home

Baby Boomers born between 1946 and 1964 now face the reality of retiring and downsizing. This exciting season of life can come with a few challenges, as well as some unexpected opportunities! If you’re one of the many Boomers considering a move to a smaller home, it’s crucial to examine the equity you have in your current property. The average Baby Boomer has stayed in the same home for around 15 years—and in that timeframe, home values have risen by 50% or far more depending on your area. 

So, what should you do with all that extra money once you downsize to a more manageable house? Consider paying all cash for your new place, especially if you want sellers to notice (and accept!) your offer. And as you adjust to retirement, using that leftover equity to purchase an investment property could be an easy way to generate extra income.

Take Advantage of Today’s Once-in-a-Generation Market

No matter where you are in the home-buying process, it pays to work with the right agent. We’d love to help you achieve your buying and selling goals, or just answer any questions you have about today’s hot real estate market. Home prices are on the rise, mortgage rates remain low, and there’s never been a better time to make a move!

Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Wait Any Longer to Invest in Real Estate

Key Takeaways:

  • Even as home prices continue to climb, there’s never been a better time to get your foot in the door when it comes to real estate investing.
  • You don’t need a lot of money to diversify your portfolio—in fact, you have more options than you might think!
  • Whether you’re an experienced investor or a first-timer, you’ll want to work with the right agent to score a great deal.

What Buyers Need to Know About Real Estate Investing

Even if you haven’t bought or sold a house this year, you’ve probably heard wild predictions and statistics about the real estate market. As prices keep skyrocketing, would-be and experienced investors alike are wondering if now is the right time to add to their portfolios. Believe it or not, now might be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to purchase an income-generating property—and there are countless options from which to choose.

Still on the fence? Here are a few quick tips and tricks you need to know before investing in real estate.

Real estate investment isn’t only for the rich

Despite what popular shows on HGTV might tell you, real estate investing is something anyone can accomplish with careful planning and saving. You don’t even need any experience to get started—but having the help of a real estate agent will make all the difference.

Start by working with an agent who knows your local investment market. Based on your budget and goals, they’ll help you select a property that meets your needs and offers a high return on investment. Don’t just limit yourself to fixer-uppers—it’s worth considering land, single- or multi-family homes and condos, office space, or warehouses, too. 

With a little sweat equity, you can easily turn any investment into an income-generating property that will help you pay off your mortgage. The easiest way to do this involves renting your property out to tenants. Over the last decade, the average rent has increased by more than 30%—so if you plan on keeping your property for a long time, you’ll be able to turn an impressive profit while building equity.

Mortgage rates remain low

Approved mortgage application

One of the biggest mistakes that any investor can make is trying to time the market. While it may seem tempting to wait until a recession for prices to decrease, it’s impossible to predict how the market will fluctuate over time. And even as prices continue rising, you’ll want to factor low mortgage rates into the equation.

Lower mortgage rates make real estate investing more affordable. As of November 2021, the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate hovers around 3.4%, which is roughly a full percentage point lower than it was in 2018. Let’s put that into perspective—if you purchase a $400,000 property with a 20% down payment, you’d pay around $1,419 per month. But if you bought the same asset with a 4.4% rate, that monthly payment would skyrocket by more than $200, which adds up over time.

First-timers can start small

First-time real estate investors

Even if you aren’t a current homeowner, real estate investing isn’t out of your reach. Some smart investors actually use their primary residence to generate extra money on the side. Once you establish a cash flow, you can start saving up for an even bigger investment down the line.

Wondering how you can start investing in real estate without a lot of capital? Real estate investment trusts (REITs) let you pool your money together with other investors and earn dividends, so you won’t have to buy or manage your own property. Many millennials have even tried “house hacking,” which involves buying a home and renting out rooms to offset a mortgage. And for an even simpler way to invest, consider land—some plots are available for just a few thousand dollars, and they’ll likely increase in value over time.

Work with Real Estate Investment Experts

Even if you already have a few assets under your belt, now is the time to diversify your investment portfolio! We have ample experience helping investors just like you, and we’d love to help you find an income-generating property that checks all the boxes.

Need to sell an investment property? We can certainly help with that, too!

Your Comprehensive Guide to Picking the Perfect Neighborhood

Key Takeaways:

  • If you’re thinking about buying a home, it’s important to choose the right neighborhood, especially if you care about resale value.
  • Certain neighborhood features can increase your home value—and make you feel right at home in your new community. 
  • When it comes to your home search, we have some features to keep in the forefront of your mind to make sure you pick the perfect (and most profitable) community! 

Here’s What Affects Your Home Value Every Time

When it comes to your home search, finding a house in the ideal neighborhood is half the battle. Your future community is going to decide how close you are to nearby conveniences, what qualities your home possesses, and the people who are going to be your neighbors. 

A home’s value is determined by how much prospective buyers in the market are willing to pay for your property, but we understand that each buyer is unique. While one buyer may prioritize nearby employment opportunities, another might place more weight on local entertainment or neighborhood amenities. However, property values are always impacted by one component—where they’re located. 

If you’re on the hunt for your next neighborhood, consider this your step-by-step guide on how to pick the perfect community!    

Location, location, location

aerial view of neighborhood homes

You’ve probably heard this before, but it’s so important that we have to repeat it—location is everything when it comes to making a good investment in your next home. Think about it: typically, all the homes in a neighborhood, regardless of size or condition, fall within the same price range. Therefore, when it comes to valuing a property, location matters more than even the home’s characteristics.

When an appraiser is assigning a value to a property based on its location, they look at three primary factors—the reputation of local schools, employment opportunities, and proximity to entertainment. In addition to these factors, a home’s distance to everyday necessities, such as highways and public transit systems, play a crucial role in increasing its value.     

Neighborhood amenities are must-haves for more value 

enjoying an outdoor dinner

What could be better than having a host of amenities available right outside your front door? Neighborhood niceties such as community clubhouses, golf courses, and pools are often at the top of buyers’ wishlists when searching for a new home. All these features and more foster a fun, inclusive environment of community involvement. Plus, a spacious clubhouse serves as the prime venue to host events that are sure to bring the neighborhood together! 

In addition to a neighborhood’s current conveniences, you can research any future upgrades your community has coming through its digital planning documents. These documents should outline what improvements are planned for your neighborhood—like nearby shopping centers, schools, or parks—and when they’re going to be completed. Plus, it’s always a good idea to check and see if a neighborhood has a homeowners association. Your HOA will have a hand in maintaining and enhancing the community’s value over time. 

Other conveniences you should consider…

woman smiling on phone

At this point, you’ve probably considered some basic factors like nearby attractions, commute times, and all the amenities a neighborhood has to offer—but what about the everyday conveniences? To take your home search to the next level, you have to think about the seemingly small details. When evaluating your neighborhood’s location, cover your bases by mapping out the distances to the nearest medical centers, airports, and grocery stores—believe us, you’ll be thankful for this when you forget to buy eggs. 

In terms of expenses, everyone has to pay utility bills, so you can save money by looking at who your local providers will be ahead of time. And speaking of planning, we recommend working with your agent to determine how your area’s property taxes will fit into your home-buying budget. 

Ready to Find Your Perfect Fit?

All these features are things you should be on the lookout for during your home search—and remember, the surrounding community is equally as important as the individual home when it comes to finding your perfect fit. As your local real estate agents, we’d be happy to help you find your dream home in just the right neighborhood—all you have to do is give us a call! 

4 Tricks to Buying a Home in a Crazy Hot Market

Key Takeaways:

  • Despite the ongoing pandemic, the real estate market is more competitive than ever before—and that means buyers have to do more to get their offer accepted.
  • Want to stand out from the competition and score the home of your dreams? Our four tips can help you achieve real estate success in no time.
  • If you have any questions about buying in today’s hot market, just give us a call for even more personalized advice!

The 4 Tips Every Buyer Needs to Know in 2021

If you’ve been house-hunting for a while, you’ve probably noticed that today’s real estate market is more than just a little competitive. Low mortgage rates, high demand, and dwindling inventory have created ideal conditions for sellers—but it’s still very possible to score a fantastic deal on a home.

Want to know the secret to buying a home in 2021? Here are four tips that can help you take back control in a seller-driven market.

Get your finances in order

Calculating mortgage payments

First and foremost, you need to get your finances in order before you even consider looking at homes. Start by paying off as much debt as you can and increasing your credit score. It’s also a good idea to keep track of just how much you have saved for a down payment. Sellers are more likely to choose buyers who can put down at least 15% or pay cash.

Want to strengthen your offer even more? Get preapproved or attach a higher earnest money deposit to show a seller you’re serious about buying their home.

Know what you want

Buying a home is one of life’s most exciting milestones. However, it’s easy to get caught up in the little details—which is why it’s crucial to do your research in advance. Connect with a local agent early on to discuss your home-buying goals. A good agent will help you hone in on your budget, wants, and needs, as well as the right area or neighborhood.

Prepare for a bidding war

Negotiating a deal

According to a recent survey by Redfin, more than half of all buyers found themselves in a bidding war last year. And while the idea of competing against other home-seekers might seem overwhelming, there are a few things you can do to stand out. 

If you’re trying to score a house with multiple bids, send in your best and final offer up front. You may also want to include an escalation clause, which automatically increases your purchase price by certain increments (like a few thousand dollars at a time) so you avoid getting outbid.   

It’s also a good idea to consider homes below your budget, especially if you have your heart set on a popular neighborhood. This gives you some flexibility if you end up in a bidding war. 

Appeal to the seller

Talking about real estate

Even if you find yourself in a bidding war, it’s still possible to come out ahead. Believe it or not, sellers don’t always choose the highest offer, even if it far exceeds the original asking price. 

You can appeal to a seller’s peace of mind by limiting your contingencies, offering to pay closing costs, and letting them choose the closing date. Adding these extra bonuses might seem minor, but they can really impact a seller’s final decision.

Only Buy with the Best

Working with a top-notch agent can help you navigate 2021’s crazy real estate market with ease. So if you’re looking for some guidance, it’s time to give us a call!

Whether you’re at the beginning of the buying process or are already searching for a home, you can trust us to help you find your perfect place. Contact us today to get started; we look forward to working with you.

3 Reasons All Buyers and Sellers Should Use Listing Alerts

Key takeaways:

  • Listing alerts send new homes straight to your inbox as soon as they hit the MLS, and they’re the easiest way to keep up with the competitive market.
  • Listing alerts aren’t just useful for buyers—they can also help sellers stay up-to-date on other current and sold properties in their neighborhood.
  • Signing up for listing alerts only takes a minute, and you can always contact us to schedule a tour if you see a property you love!

Why Every Buyer and Seller Should Sign Up for Listing Alerts

Today’s real estate market is more fast-paced than ever—in fact, it’s not uncommon for a home to sell above asking price not long after it’s listed. So if you’re serious about buying, you need a to-the-minute resource to help you stay ahead of the competition.

This is where listing alerts come in handy. Just use our fully customizable filters to narrow down your search, and you’ll receive an email right when a home matching your criteria hits the market. And if you’re thinking about selling, you can also use listing alerts to scope out the competition in your neighborhood. 

Want to learn even more about the benefits of signing up for listing alerts? Here are three additional perks that every buyer and seller should know about.  

You’ll immediately see listings that match your criteria

Couple searching for a home online

Your home is likely one of the biggest investments you’ll ever make, which means it’s okay to be a little picky. Our listing alerts can be customized to your exact parameters, so you’ll know as soon as the right property becomes available. Take a look at our easy-to-use search tool to get started—we have filters for price, size, neighborhood, and even specific home features!  

You can create a portfolio of your favorite homes

Couple using a tablet to search for a home

When you sign up for our listing alerts, we’ll automatically create a personalized property organizer to help you keep track of all your favorite homes. Not only is this feature easy to use, it also allows you to save the listings you want to see in-person. You can even use your property organizer to schedule a showing, take a virtual tour from the comfort of your couch, or get in touch with a local agent for more information.

Sellers can keep up with sold listings, too

Recently sold home

If you’re like most buyers, you probably have an existing home you need to sell before you make a move. That’s why we designed our listing alerts to work with both active and sold homes. All you have to do is set your desired criteria, and we’ll send over listings right when they go under contract.

Wondering how listing alerts benefit you as a seller? By scoping out sold homes in your neighborhood, you’ll get a better idea of how fast and how much your home could sell for—you might even pick up some staging tips along the way, too. As if that isn’t enough, you can also browse other current listings to get a better idea of your competition!

Get the Latest Homes Sent Straight to Your Inbox!

Ready to sign up for listing alerts? We’re here to help! Contact us today to set up your first alert—we’d be happy to guide you through the process if you have any questions. And if you’re thinking about buying or selling soon, drop us a line for even more helpful information. We’re always here to lend our expertise.

3 Reasons You Shouldn’t Use Zillow to Search for a Home

Key takeaways:

  • For years, Zillow has been one of the most popular real estate sites for buyers, sellers, and daydreamers—but it might not be the most reliable option for serious house hunters.
  • If you want to shop the hottest deals and see homes before they hit the market, it’s better to work with a local agent.
  • Need help finding the perfect home? Reach out to us today to get a head start on your search!

Why Zillow Isn’t the Best Option for Serious Homebuyers

We’ve all probably spent more time than we care to admit scrolling through listings on Zillow. While this popular real estate website might be good for daydreaming, it’s not always the best resource for buyers who are searching seriously for a home. In fact, according to a report by the Washington Post, some of Zillow’s “listings” aren’t actually on the market at all, and they could potentially contain inaccurate information.

Looking to stay ahead of the competition in today’s fast-paced market? Here’s why you should work with a local agent instead…and maybe even avoid Zillow altogether.

Zillow doesn’t always list Coming Soon or Pre-MLS homes

Coming soon home

Did you know that some homes are sold before they officially go on the market? If you’ve ever searched for listings online, you’ve likely seen at least a few properties labeled “Coming Soon.” This means they aren’t available for showings, but you can still make an offer and purchase them sight unseen. Sellers can take things a step further by advertising their home as “Pre-MLS,” which means the house might not even make it online before going under contract.

Because these types of homes don’t usually stay on the market for long, there’s a good chance they won’t be on Zillow. And if they are, they could already be sold by the time you see them! If you want to see homes before everybody else, your best bet is to ask your agent—they’ll be able to show you local listings that you can’t always find on national real estate sites.  

Zillow’s information is often inaccurate

Searching for a home on a tablet

One of Zillow’s biggest (and most infamous) claims to fame is the “Zestimate”—an algorithm-based guess of a home’s potential selling price. While the company asserts that most Zestimates fall within 10% of a home’s actual market value, that 10% can be a difference of tens of thousands of dollars. 

Some buyers use Zestimates to determine how much they should offer for a home, but this isn’t a surefire way to score a great deal. Because Zillow relies on government records and user-reported data, their Zestimates aren’t always as accurate as you might expect.

For example, if a property has undergone recent renovations or has incorrect property tax records, Zillow could price it higher or lower than what it’s really worth. Although Zestimates sometimes take into account a home’s condition, location, or other unique features, the evaluation process is entirely automated—and that could lead to even more inaccuracies.

If you ever have any questions about how much a home is worth, your agent will be able to offer more personalized (and reliable!) advice.

Real estate agents have better local connections

Real estate agent helping a couple

Countless home buyers start their search on Zillow simply because it’s one of the biggest real estate websites out there. While Zillow does have a broad reach, it lacks the personal touch and local expertise you get from working with a real estate agent in your area. 

Real estate agents know the market better than anyone else, which means they can help you gauge whether or not a listing is priced fairly. In fact, many agents offer customized search tools that can give you a better perspective on homes for sale in your target area. And if you team up with a well-connected agent, they might even be aware of off-market properties you won’t see on Zillow. 

Only Buy with the Best

Real estate has and always will be a hyper-local industry. So if you’re thinking about buying a home soon, we’d love to offer you a better experience than you’ll have on Zillow. Take a look at our handy search tool to start browsing the latest listings, and let us know if anything catches your eye. You can even sign up for customized listing alerts to get properties sent straight to your inbox!

Mortgages Made Easy: How to Choose the Right Home Loan

Key Takeaways:

  • As mortgage rates continue hovering near historic lows, many potential buyers are eager to make a move—but it can be hard to know which type of loan is best.
  • There are dozens of different mortgage options available today, and some even have low down payment or credit score requirements. This can help a variety of buyers finally achieve their real estate goals. 
  • Need help finding a lender or choosing the right mortgage for your needs? We’d be more than happy to offer a few recommendations.

Home Financing 101: The Most Common Types of Mortgages

Let’s face it—understanding mortgages can be the most complicated part of buying a home. Even experienced buyers sometimes have trouble deciding between lenders or shopping around for the best interest rate. And because there are so many options, it can be difficult to track down the mortgage that best meets your needs.

There are a variety of factors you should consider before committing to a loan, such as your income, debt, financial history, and how long you plan on staying in your new home. But if you play your cards right, you could end up scoring a great deal. Here are some of the most popular types of mortgages, as well as their pros and cons.

Fixed-rate mortgage

Mortgage scrabble tiles

A fixed-rate mortgage is the most basic and reliable type of home loan you can get. Your interest rate and monthly payment will stay the same for the entire duration of the mortgage, and you’ll likely have to put at least 20% down and have an established financial history to get approved.

Typically, fixed-rate mortgages are broken down into 15- or 30-year terms. If you want predictability and don’t plan on moving for a while, this is probably the best option for you.

Adjustable-rate mortgage

house, coin stacks, and clock

Unlike their fixed-rate counterparts, adjustable-rate mortgages offer the initial benefit of a lower rate and down payment. However, ARMs fluctuate with the market, which means your interest rate and monthly payments could increase or decrease over time.

While there is more risk involved with an adjustable-rate mortgage, it can be worth it if you plan on living in your home for a shorter period of time. Generally, ARMs have a capped introductory interest rate for the first few years, which can save you quite a bit of money compared to a fixed-rate loan.

VA loans

Member of the military

If you or your spouse are an active, retired, or veteran member of the military, you could be eligible for a VA loan. Backed by the US Department of Veterans Affairs, this unique type of mortgage lets you buy a home with little to no down payment or mortgage insurance.

Because VA loans are guaranteed (but not financed) by the government, they do have stricter requirements than other mortgages. The loan can only be used towards a primary residence, and the house you intend to buy has to meet minimum property requirements. This means you’ll have to undergo additional inspections and appraisals. 

FHA loans

Couple moving in

Backed by the Federal Housing Administration, the FHA loan is designed for first-time or lower-income buyers. While most mortgages typically require a down payment of 20% or more, the FHA loan allows buyers to put down as little as 3.5%; that equals out to around $9,000 for a $250,000 house.

FHA loans come with a fixed interest rate and can offer a path to homeownership for buyers who don’t have enough saved for a traditional loan. However, you will be required to pay for private mortgage insurance (PMI) every month, which typically costs around 1% of your total loan amount. It’s also important to remember that the government does not issue your loan—you’ll still have to shop around for the right FHA-approved lender.

USDA loans

Farmland

The USDA loan is a government-sponsored mortgage program that targets buyers in more rural areas. While the USDA does have stricter credit and income requirements than the FHA, they’ll fund up to 100% of the purchase price for an eligible home. That means you won’t have to put any money down, and you may even enjoy a lower-than-average interest rate. 

Additionally, USDA loans require mortgage insurance, and you won’t be approved if your debt-to-income ratio exceeds 41%. Before applying, you should also check the USDA’s eligibility map to see if your area qualifies for the program. 

Other loans

House on a calculator

This is hardly an exhaustive list of all the mortgages used by today’s home buyers! Depending on your financial situation, you could qualify for a more niche loan, such as a balloon mortgage, bridge loan, or jumbo loan. Many banks, lenders, and state governments also have their own programs or incentives that are worth exploring. You can even combine different types of loans to create a financing plan that’s tailored to your needs.

If you don’t have time to research all of your options, it might be beneficial to work with a mortgage broker or ask your agent for recommendations. They’ll have the knowledge to guide you in the right direction!

Want to Learn More About Mortgages?

If you’re in the market for a new home, we’d love to discuss your financing options or recommend some top-rated lenders. Contact us today to learn the ins and outs of the home buying process, from finding a loan to finally getting the keys to your new place. We look forward to helping you start your next chapter!

Buyer Beware: 6 Red Flags That Could Spell Trouble for Homebuyers

Picture this: you’ve found a seemingly perfect home in just the right neighborhood. It has every single one of your must-haves, plenty of space, and even all of the features you want. But on the tour, your agent spots a few big problems, like a crack in the foundation or signs of water damage. Should you walk away from what seems like your dream house?

Unless you’re looking to tackle a fixer-upper, you may want to proceed with caution if you run into any of these red flags during a showing.

Watch Out for These 6 Red Flags During a Showing

As you tour homes, it’s important to remember that a seller may not always disclose (or know) the whole truth about their house. If you ever have any questions about a home’s condition, make sure to ask your agent. They’ll often be able to spot problems that you may not see yourself, and they can also help you decide whether or not a certain issue is a dealbreaker. 

And even though a property may appear well-maintained, there could be some lingering imperfections that aren’t visible to an untrained eye—here are a few examples.

Foundation issues

Foundation crack

A faulty foundation is one of the biggest and costliest problems you can encounter in a home. If you spot any foundation cracks (both outside or inside) bigger than one third of an inch, it could mean a property has major structural defects.

Other signs of potential foundation issues include sticking doors, gaps around window frames, or sagging floors.

Outdated electric and plumbing systems

Tools and electrical supplies

A leaky faucet or ungrounded outlet may seem like a quick fix, but they could signal a much larger problem. If you’re touring an older home, have your agent ask about the age of the plumbing and electrical wiring. It’s essential (and expensive) to bring these systems up to code to prevent potential floods or fires.

An old roof

Old roof shingles

Typically, roofs should be replaced every 12 to 15 years. So if you notice some missing or curling shingles, it could mean that a home’s roof has reached the end of its lifespan. If you’re not sure about a roof’s age, be sure to ask your agent—they can get in touch with the seller’s agent for more information.

Water damage

Water damage on a ceiling

Take a look at a home’s ceiling and floors—do you see any dark spots? If so, this could be a sign of water damage, which is often a pricey fix. Be sure to check out a home’s drainage situation, too. A yard that isn’t properly graded could cause water to seep inside after a heavy rainstorm.

Homes that have basements are more prone to leaks than those that don’t, so don’t forget to head downstairs to look for water damage!

Unwelcome critters

Mouse trap

Bugs, mice, and other pests can spell big trouble for a house, especially if the infestation is widespread. Termites in particular should be a huge red flag, as they can destroy a home’s entire structure before being detected.

If you see an overwhelming number of critters wandering around during your tour, you may want to move on right away. You should also check for mud tubes, hollow or rotting wood, and bug droppings, as these are common indications of termites.

Unpleasant odors

Spraying air freshener

Notice a less-than-pleasant scent during a showing? These aromas could be signs of mold, mildew, water damage, pests, improper ventilation, and countless other issues. You should also be wary if a seller seems to be covering up smells with heavily scented candles or air fresheners.

Bottom line: Always have a home inspection

Home inspection report

Even if you don’t spot any of these problems, it’s always best to have an inspection after your offer is accepted. A qualified inspector can spot problems both large and small and will provide a detailed report of everything that needs to be fixed.

From there, you can try to renegotiate the price of the home with the seller or ask them to complete the repairs. However, if a home is being sold “as-is,” you may be stuck doing the work yourself. 

Thinking About Buying Your Next Home?

When it comes to finding the right home, it pays to have an expert agent on your side to handle all the details. Give us a call today to learn more about the premier services we offer to our buyers. We’d be more than happy to answer any of your real estate questions, and we can also help you sell your current home, too!

4 Tips to Ace Your First Home Purchase

If you ask a homeowner what it was like to buy their first home, they’ll probably mention a few things they’d change if they could do it all again. While it’s impossible to know everything about the home-buying process beforehand, you can still prepare yourself for what lies ahead—and figure out how to avoid some potential pitfalls. Not sure where to begin? Here are some key pointers to keep in mind before starting your search.

You’re Buying More Than a House

Neighborhood

We all know the phrase “love at first sight,” and it can certainly apply to homes, too! Even if you step inside a home and instantly fall in love, it’s crucial to step back and consider the whole picture before making a purchase.

When you buy your first property, you’re investing in more than just four walls. It’s worth paying attention to things like a home’s location, neighborhood, and physical condition, too. Even if you find that open concept kitchen you’ve been dreaming of, it might not be the right fit if it’s in the wrong community or if the rest of the house requires out-of-budget repairs. It’s best to stay realistic and listen to your agent’s (and home inspector’s) advice. Remember, this is likely one of the biggest investments you’ll ever make, so spend your money wisely!

Down Payments Are Different for Everyone

Piggy bank and house figure

So many would-be buyers are scared of homeownership for one reason: the down payment. Traditionally, you’d put down around 20% on a home and spend anywhere from 10 to 30 years paying your lender back. However, you actually have more flexibility than you might expect. 

Depending on your credit history, location, and occupation, you could be eligible for loans that require as little as 0% down. However, making a larger down payment means you’ll pay less interest to your lender in the long run. Be sure to shop around for the right fit and reach out to your agent with any questions—they’re always available to help you out. 

Prepare for Extra Expenses

House fund coin jar

Homeownership often comes with unexpected expenses, especially right after you move in. When you’re setting a budget for your big purchase, consider adding some wiggle room to allow for any additional and long term costs. You don’t want to realize that you can’t afford your home after you’ve purchased it!

Wondering what kinds of expenses can come up? Inspections, homeowner’s insurance, prepaid taxes and other various closing costs, HOA dues, and repairs are just a few possibilities. You’ll pay for some of these before or at the closing, but certain recurring costs will have to be factored into your monthly budget. 

Get Pre-Approved Before You Start Searching

Tax forms with phone and coffee cup

Once you’ve made the decision to buy, it’s tempting to start looking at listings right away. However, you might want to press pause and complete an essential step before you start scheduling showings. Getting pre-approved for your loan will show sellers and agents that you’re serious about buying—and it can tell you exactly how much you can afford to spend.

Ready to start the pre-approval process? First, you’ll want to get your finances in order and shop around for the right lender. Be sure to have all of your important documents on hand, such as your W-2 tax form, paystubs, and social security card. Most lenders allow you to apply online, and within a few business days, you’ll know whether you’ve been approved or not, as well as the conditions of the loan. 

Are You a First-Time Buyer?

Buying your first home is a big deal, and it’s important to have the right agent by your side throughout the process. If you’re ready to start your search, feel free to reach out to us with any questions. We can’t wait to help jumpstart your journey to homeownership!