Area Real Estate News & Market Trends

You’ll find our blog to be a wealth of information, covering everything from local market statistics and home values to community happenings. That’s because we care about the community and want to help you find your place in it. Please reach out if you have any questions at all. We’d love to talk with you!

May 7, 2024

The Ultimate Relocation Guide: From Finding a House to Feeling at Home

The peak moving season is upon us. In fact, according to Move.com, almost 70% of U.S. moves occur between May and September.1 And while the percentage of Americans who move each year has declined, the desire to relocate remains strong.2,3 In fact, Architectural Digest recently declared “Americans are restless” after a survey found that 55% of adults “are moving, plan to move, or want to move” in 2024. The top reasons included: increased affordability; desire for safety; and closer proximity to work, family, or friends.3 If you’re one of those millions of Americans yearning for a change, this guide is for you. Sure, moving can feel overwhelming, and it’s notoriously stressful. But, we’ve outlined six steps to make your move easier. Our hope is to alleviate some of the hassle of relocating—so you can focus on the adventure ahead!

1. CHOOSE A COMMUNITY When planning a relocation, one of the first things you’ll need to decide is where you want to live. This could be as broad as an area of town, or you might narrow it down to a specific neighborhood. Depending on your priorities, you may want to start with communities that are close to work, friends, family and/or your preferred schools. If you commute, map out the route and check on the availability of public transportation, if you plan to use it. Then, if possible, try out the commute during rush hour to see what it’s like. Next, it’s crucial to consider housing prices and cost of living so you don’t set your sights on an area that you can’t realistically afford. Don’t forget to look up local crime statistics to ensure the community is safe. Finally, visit any neighborhoods you’re considering to gauge the vibe and observe characteristics, like pedestrian accessibility, retail offerings, and population density. Researching the ins and outs of various communities can be a time-consuming and sometimes difficult process, but we’re here to help! Give us a call to discuss your needs and aspirations, and we’d be happy to provide our recommendations of neighborhoods that may be a good fit for you.

2. FIND YOUR NEW HOME Once you’ve chosen an area to settle, the next decision you’ll need to make is whether you want to rent or buy a home. Renting can be a good option if you’re new to town, especially if you’re still saving up for a downpayment or you’re not ready to commit to a permanent location. Benefits include flexibility, less maintenance, and lower upfront costs. But, if you want to avoid multiple moves—and you’re financially able—there’s no reason to delay the benefits of buying a home. Not only has homeownership been shown to increase your quality of life, but it’s also one of the best ways to protect and grow your wealth.4 The value of real estate will typically appreciate over time, and owners can build equity as they pay down their mortgage. Homeowners can also receive federal income tax deductions for mortgage interest and property taxes. But, perhaps most importantly, homeownership offers stability. Property owners aren’t subject to the mercy of their landlords each year. According to Statista, average U.S. rental prices have risen more than 42% in the past 10 years.5 In contrast, a fixed-rate mortgage payment doesn’t rise at all. If you decide to purchase a home and you choose us to represent you, you can rest easy knowing that we will be there for you throughout the entire journey, working hard to make the experience as easy and enjoyable as possible. Or, if you’re moving to a new area, we can refer you to a local agent in our network who shares our commitment to client service. For more information about buying a home and a timeline of the home buying process, reach out to request a free copy of our Home Buyer’s Guide.

📷 3. SELL OR RENT OUT YOUR CURRENT HOME If you already own a home, you’ll also need to start the process of either selling it or renting it out. We can help you evaluate your options based on current market conditions. In many cases, our clients choose to sell so that they can use the equity in their current home to make a downpayment on their next one. But selling your home while simultaneously buying a new one can feel daunting to even the most seasoned homeowner. Here are some of the most frequent concerns we hear from clients and our tips for addressing them:

  • What will I do if I sell my house before I can buy a new one?

Check out furnished apartments, vacation rentals, and month-to-month leases. You may even find that a short-term rental arrangement can offer you an opportunity to get to know your new neighborhood better.

  • What if I get stuck with two mortgages at the same time?

Ask us about contingencies that can be included in your contracts. For example, it’s possible to add a contingency to your purchase offer that lets you cancel the contract if you haven't sold your previous home. We can discuss the pros and cons of these types of tactics and what’s realistic given the current market dynamics.

  • What if I mess up my timing or burn out from all the stress?



Enlist support as early as possible. It's our job to guide you and advocate on your behalf, so don't be afraid to lean on us throughout the process. We’re here to ease your burden and make your move as seamless and stress-free as possible. In addition to answering your questions, we’ll give you an idea of how much equity you have in your current home so you know how much you can afford to spend on your new one. Part of that process will include a plan to maximize your current home’s sale price. We utilize a proven strategy that’s designed to achieve an efficient sale while boosting your profits. For a thorough breakdown of the technologies and marketing activities we use to get you the most money for your home sale, ask us for a copy of our Property Marketing Plan.

4. PLAN YOUR DEPARTURE Preparing for a move can be both exhilarating and exhausting. Fortunately, you don’t have to do everything in a day. You don’t have to do it all alone, either. When you work with us, we’ll be there every step of the way to help you navigate this process with ease. To that end, here are some of our top tips to help you plan for your departure. If you have children, we typically advise that you start by sharing news about the move in an age-appropriate way. If possible, take them on a tour of your new home and neighborhood. This can alleviate some of the mystery and apprehension around the move. Don’t forget to contact their current and future schools, as well, to arrange for transfer and enrollment. Next, you’ll want to start packing. To maintain order and make unpacking easier, we recommend packing one room at a time. Clearly label each box with its contents and the room it belongs to. And remember, there’s no use taking extraneous items with you. Use this opportunity to purge or donate possessions that you no longer need. If you will be using a moving company, start researching and pricing your options. Make sure you’re working with a reputable service, and try to avoid paying a large deposit before your belongings are delivered. Once you have a moving date scheduled, you should arrange to have your utilities turned off or, if possible, transferred into the new homeowner’s name. Finally, if you will be leaving friends or family behind, schedule get-togethers before your departure. The last days before moving can be incredibly hectic, so make sure you block off some time in advance for proper goodbyes. Parting with a home and community you love can be hard, so try to stay focused on the exciting opportunities ahead. Feel free to reach out for referrals to moving companies, packing services, housekeepers, or any other resources that will make your move easier. We’d love to help.

5. PREPARE FOR YOUR ARRIVAL While it’s tempting to get wrapped up in the departure details, don’t forget to plan ahead for your arrival at your new home. To make your transition go smoothly, you should start preparing well before moving day. Here are a few pro tips to help you get started. First, think about the utilities that will need to be turned on, especially essentials like water, electricity, and gas. Be sure to notify any relevant parties—banks, credit cards, subscriptions, etc.—about your change of address so you don’t miss any important bills, notices, or deliveries. You’ll also want to notify the postal service and submit a mail forwarding request. If you plan to remodel, paint, or install new flooring, it’s often easier to have it done before you bring in all of your belongings. You may also want to have the house professionally cleaned before moving in. Don’t forget about the items you’ll need (think toothbrush, towels, bedsheets) to make it through the first night in your new home. Designate some boxes with “Open Me First!” labels. (Pro tip: Keep a tool kit front and center for all that reassembling.) Finally, create a list of all the restaurants you want to try and places you want to visit around your newly purchased home. Having a to-explore list keeps everyone’s spirits high and gives you starting points to settle into the neighborhood. If you’re relocating to our area, we can help! Reach out for a list of recommendations.

📷 6. GET SETTLED IN YOUR NEW SPACE Studies show that moving can lead to feelings of loneliness and depression.6 However, there are ways to combat these negative effects. Here are a few strategies to help you and your family get settled in the new space. If you have children, start by unpacking their rooms first. Seeing familiar items will help ease their transition and establish a “safe zone” where they can hang out away from the chaos of moving day. If possible, let them have a say in how their room is decorated. Pets can also get overwhelmed by a new, unfamiliar space. Let them adjust to a single room first, which should include their favorite toys, treats, food and water bowl, and a litter box for cats. Once they seem comfortable, you can gradually introduce them to other rooms in the home. Don’t forget to take care of yourself, too. Try to schedule breaks to get out of the house and investigate your new area. If you travel by foot or bicycle, you’ll gain the mood-boosting advantages of fresh air and exercise. You can combat feelings of isolation by making an effort to meet people in your new community. Find a local interest group, take a class, join a place of worship, or volunteer for a cause. Don’t wait for friends to come knocking on your door. Instead, go out and find them. To that end, make an effort to introduce yourself to your new neighbors, invite them over for coffee or dinner, and offer assistance when they need it. Once you’ve developed friendships and a support system within your new neighborhood, it will truly start to feel like home.

LET’S GET MOVING While moving is never easy, these steps offer an action plan to get you started on your new adventure. With a little preparation—and the right team of professionals to assist you—it is possible to have a positive relocation experience. We specialize in assisting home buyers and sellers with a seamless and “less-stress” relocation. Along with our referral network of moving companies, contractors, cleaning services, interior designers, and other home service providers, we can help take the hassle and headache out of your upcoming move. Give us a call or message us to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation!

The above references an opinion and is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be financial, legal, or tax advice. Consult the appropriate professionals for advice regarding your individual needs. Sources:

  1. Moving.com - https://www.moving.com/tips/12-tips-for-moving-during-peak-moving-season/
  2. Moving.com - https://www.moving.com/tips/moving-trends-predictions-for-2024/
  3. Architectural Digest - https://www.architecturaldigest.com/reviews/moving/moving-trends-survey
  4. National Association of Realtors - https://www.nar.realtor/infographics/the-benefits-of-homeownership
  5. Statista - https://www.statista.com/statistics/200223/median-apartment-rent-in-the-us-since-1980/
  6. Psychology Today - https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/is-where-you-belong/201607/why-youre-miserable-after-move
May 2, 2024

Unveiling the Timeless Charm of Real Estate Investing

Title: Unveiling the Timeless Charm of Real Estate Investing

 

Real estate investment stands as a beacon of financial wisdom, captivating both seasoned investors and novices alike. Its allure lies not just in the tangible assets it offers, but in the profound potential for wealth accumulation and security. In a world of fluctuating markets and economic uncertainties, real estate stands as a steadfast pillar, providing stability and promising returns over time.

 

Diving into the world of real estate investing unveils a myriad of opportunities, each with its unique appeal. From residential properties to commercial spaces, the options are diverse, catering to a spectrum of investment preferences and risk appetites. Whether one seeks steady rental income or aims for substantial capital appreciation, there's a niche waiting to be explored, offering the promise of lucrative returns.

 

Beyond the financial rewards, real estate investing offers a sense of empowerment and control over one's financial destiny. Unlike other investment avenues subject to the whims of market volatility, real estate allows investors to leverage their knowledge and strategic prowess to enhance property value and maximize returns. Whether through renovation projects or savvy negotiation tactics, investors hold the reins, shaping their investment journey according to their vision and goals.

 

Moreover, real estate investing serves as a tangible manifestation of the age-old adage: "Invest in something you can see and touch." Unlike stocks or bonds, which often exist as intangible entities in the digital realm, real estate stands as a physical asset, offering a sense of security and permanence. The ability to walk through one's investment, feel its walls, and witness its potential firsthand instills a sense of confidence and reassurance, fostering a deeper connection between investor and investment.

 

In essence, real estate investing transcends mere financial transactions; it embodies a journey of wealth creation, personal growth, and long-term prosperity. Aspiring investors embarking on this path find themselves not just participants in a market but stewards of a timeless legacy. With careful planning, strategic foresight, and a dash of boldness, real estate investing becomes more than a pursuit of profit—it becomes a journey towards financial freedom and fulfillment, paving the way for a brighter, more secure future.

April 8, 2024

Upgrade Your Home with these 2024 Design Trends

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Upgrade Your Home With These 2024 Design Trends

 

31 Jan 2024  by Brian Whistler

One of the best parts of owning a home is the freedom to make it truly your own with design choices that reflect your personality and lifestyle. Whether you lean toward contemporary design or a farmhouse aesthetic, your home is your canvas.

Even so, it’s always smart to think about the long-term impact those decisions might have on your home’s value. Choosing over-personalized or unpopular materials and finishes could make your home less appealing to future buyers. And selecting out-of-style or overly-trendy elements could cause your home to feel dated quickly.

To help inspire your design choices, we’ve rounded up some of the top trends we’re watching in 2024. Keep in mind, not all of these will work well in every house. If you plan to list or renovate your property, give us a call. We can help you realize your vision and maximize the impact of your investment.

 

      1. Spa-Like Bathrooms

We could all use a little more relaxation in our lives—so why not bring the spa into your home? In 2024, more homeowners will remodel their bathrooms to turn them into personal oases.1,2

If you’re undertaking a renovation, consider upgrading fixtures and materials. Handmade tile and custom cabinetry can add a touch of style and luxury. Trade stark whites for warm neutrals to create a more relaxed feel—think light wood tones, creams, and beiges.3 Complete the look with soft ambient lighting from a backlit mirror or pair of decorative sconces.2,3

If you want to maximize the mind-body benefits of a relaxing bathroom (and have the budget to spare), you might consider installing a steam shower, infrared sauna, or cold plunge tub.3 Not looking to spend as much? Even minor upgrades like a massaging showerhead or heated towel bar can add some pampering to your morning routine.3

But remember, if you’re modifying your bathroom, it’s always wise to work with experienced and licensed professionals to avoid water damage that could lead to costly repairs. We can refer you to a trusted contractor for help.

 

A bathroom with a mirror and sink

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Photo by – Browse bathroom photos

 

      2. Maximalist Decor

In 2024, maximalism is back in vogue, contrasting the neutral aesthetic that dominated design in recent years. While maximalism can be summed up as “more is more,” there’s nothing sloppy or cluttered about this look. Instead, it’s all about intentional curation.4

Hallmarks of maximalist style include rich and saturated colors, bold wallpaper, statement rugs and furniture, and lots of art. And forget matching—maximalist interiors often include plenty of contrasting colors, textures, and patterns selected to complement one another.4

If you’re trying to embrace maximalism on a budget, check out thrift stores. They’re often a great place to find unique furniture, colorful rugs, and interesting art or collectibles. Before you invest in rolls of vintage wallpaper, though, it’s important to note—if you plan to sell your home in the near future, the maximalist look won’t appeal to every buyer.

We typically advise sellers to remove clutter and personal items to help buyers imagine their own future lives within the home. Sometimes, that means repainting or redecorating in a more neutral palette. Of course, this shouldn’t stop you from embracing your own style now—just be aware that you may need to walk back your aesthetic prior to selling. We can advise you when the time comes.

 

A room with a couch and a rug

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Photo by Noz Design – Search living room design ideas

 

      3. Japandi Style

Not quite ready to embrace maximalism? Japandi style, which blends Japanese and Scandinavian influences, offers a more subdued approach that still has plenty of character. The look dates back about 150 years to a time when many Scandinavian designers were traveling to Japan for inspiration.5

Japandi style brings together clean lines, simplicity, and a focus on natural elements and light. It emphasizes the beauty in imperfection, or “wabi sabi,” and a deep connection to Mother Earth. And like Scandinavian decor, the look prioritizes comfort and a sense of sanctuary in the home.5

Interested in playing with Japandi? Common features include calming color palettes and organic materials like raw wood and bamboo. Try softening harsh edges with softer textures, like cozy blankets and ceramic pieces.

The look also minimizes clutter, but that doesn’t mean you need to be a minimalist. Instead, Japandi style embraces storage solutions like baskets, folding screens, and sofas with built-in storage to give everything a place.6 If you’d like some help implementing Japandi-style organization in your home, contact us for a list of recommended professionals.

 

A bed with a bed frame and lamps from the ceiling

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Photo by Eric Miller Interiors – Discover bedroom design inspiration

 

      4. Mixed Metals

Mixing metals used to be a “no-no.” But in 2024, it’s definitely a “yes.”

According to designers, mixing the colors and finishes of metal fixtures and hardware can bring visual interest to a room—as long as you go about it the right way.1,7

The most important rule to keep in mind is to stay away from near matches, like brass and gold—that’s more likely to look accidental than intentional. Instead, go for bold contrast: Think polished nickel and matte black.7

Some designers recommend using each metal at least twice in a room to make it look cohesive. Another good rule of thumb is to stick to two types of metals in a small room and two to three in a larger space.7

Finally, you might think about playing with undertones (brass is warm, chrome is cool) to change the “temperature” of a room. And don’t be afraid of a little shine—many designers predict that a retro, high-polished look will replace matte finishes in 2024.8

Want some help sourcing fixtures and hardware in a variety of finishes? Reach out for a list of our favorite retailers.

 

A bathroom with grey cabinets and a mirror

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Photo by Jessica Koltun Home – More bathroom photos

 

      5. Wood Cabinetry And Accents

The all-white kitchen has been ubiquitous in recent years. But in 2024, classic wood cabinetry is back in a big way.9 In fact, industry professionals surveyed by the National Kitchen & Bath Association predict that wood cabinets will be more popular than white in the next three years.10

Natural wood tones offer a sense of warmth and natural beauty.11 And today’s cabinets aren’t anything like the heavy, dated versions of the past. Instead, light to medium versions—like white oak and walnut—and warmer undertones are trending.9

The addition of wood-grain accents to painted kitchen cabinets—like with a contrasting island or range hood—is another popular option.12 And wood continues to be a favored choice for flooring. A recent survey found that 40% of homeowners opted for either hardwood or engineered wood when renovating their kitchen floors.13

You can also expect to see more wood in bathrooms in 2024. According to Houzz, last year, wood vanities surpassed white in popularity for the first time in recent years, and designers expect the trend to continue.12 While white countertops and walls still dominate bathrooms, a wood-grained vanity brings a relaxed, organic element into the space.

Dreaming about new cabinets or hardwood floors? We’d be happy to share a list of recommended trade professionals who can help.

 

A kitchen with a marble island

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Photo by Great Rooms Building Group – Look for kitchen pictures

 

      6. Timeless Renovations

In its latest Kitchen Trends Study, Houzz found that “nearly half of homeowners (47%) opt for a timeless design as a sustainable choice during renovations.” Respondents cited long-term cost effectiveness and environmental consciousness as their main motivators.14

In a rapidly changing, technology-driven world, it’s no surprise that homeowners want a nurturing space with lasting appeal—especially if they plan to stay in their homes for years to come.12

Traditional materials and quality craftsmanship lie at the core of timeless design, which some designers are calling “quiet luxury.”15 Think of enduring classics, like hardwood floors, hand-crafted tiles, and marble countertops.12 A timeless color palette will also often include warm neutrals and muted shades of blue and green.15

If you’re thinking about remodeling, it’s wise to incorporate as many classic elements as you can. These stylistic choices tend to hold up well over time, which can prolong the life of your investment and make it easier to sell your home down the road. If you’d like advice on an upcoming project, contact us for a free consultation.

 

A staircase in a house

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Photo by REFINED LLC – More entryway photos

 

BEAUTIFY YOUR HOME WHILE BOOSTING ITS VALUE

If you’re thinking about making design changes—whether that’s repainting or a full remodel—it’s important to be informed about how your choices could impact your home’s resale potential. Buyer preferences can vary significantly based on your home’s neighborhood and price point. Before you begin your project, reach out to discuss your plans and how they could impact the value of your home.

 

 

The above references an opinion and is for informational purposes only.  It is not intended to be financial, legal, or tax advice. Consult the appropriate professionals for advice regarding your individual needs.

 

Sources:

  1. HGTV –
    https://www.hgtv.com/design/decorating/design-101/2024-home-and-garden-design-trends
  2. The Spruce –
    https://www.thespruce.com/2024-design-trends-8411457 
  3. The Spruce –
    https://www.thespruce.com/2024-bathroom-design-trends-8380169 
  4. Homes and Gardens –
    https://www.homesandgardens.com/interior-design/maximalist-decor-ideas 
  5. The Spruce –
    https://www.thespruce.com/japandi-design-4782478 
  6. House Beautiful –
    https://www.housebeautiful.com/room-decorating/a45851530/japandi-interior-design-style/ 
  7. The Spruce –
    https://www.thespruce.com/4-rules-designers-say-you-should-follow-or-ignore-when-mixing-metals-in-a-room-5199031 
  8. The Spruce –
    https://www.thespruce.com/2024-lighting-trends-8365056 
  9. Good Housekeeping –
    https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/home/decorating-ideas/a45576463/wood-kitchen-cabinet-trend-2023/ 
  10. Better Homes and Gardens –
    https://www.bhg.com/2024-kitchen-trends-840656
  11. Real Simple –
    https://www.realsimple.com/2024-kitchen-cabinet-trends-masterbrand-7974600 
  12. Houzz –
    https://www.houzz.com/magazine/28-home-design-trends-that-will-define-2024-stsetivw-vs~172317389 
  13. Houzz –
    https://www.houzz.com/magazine/10-kitchen-trends-to-watch-in-layouts-features-and-more-stsetivw-vs~165050822 
  14. Houzz –
    https://www.houzz.com/magazine/2023-u-s-houzz-kitchen-trends-study-stsetivw-vs~164970160
  15. Better Homes and Gardens –
    https://www.bhg.com/quiet-luxury-home-trend-7554026
April 4, 2024

Real Estate Market Forecast: Opportunities for Home Buyers and Sellers in 2024

Real Estate Market Forecast: Opportunities for Home Buyers and Sellers in 2024

 

01 Jan 2024  by Brian Whistler

A growing share of home buyers and sellers sat on the sidelines last year as the pace of home sales continued its downward trajectory.1 In fact, since the Federal Reserve began its series of interest rate hikes in 2022, the combination of higher borrowing costs and record-high home prices has fostered the steepest real estate market slowdown since the 2008 recession.2 

Priced out of the market, a generation of would-be buyers has been forced to delay their plans for homeownership.3  At the same time, current owners—reluctant to give up their pandemic-era mortgage rates—are waiting to sell, which has resulted in a sharp drop in listings.4

But there may be some relief in sight: In December, the Fed signaled that it was done raising interest rates—and suggested that it could cut rates by 0.75% over the coming year. While mortgages don’t directly follow the federal funds rate, they typically move in tandem—so cheaper home loans may finally be on the horizon.5

Lower mortgage rates should bring some much-needed movement back into the real estate sector. But with a market this fluid, the home buyers and sellers with an edge will be those who proactively leverage a real estate agent’s on-the-ground expertise and stay flexible so that they can quickly adapt to changes.

What does that mean for you? Read on to learn more about the current state of the U.S. housing market, the potential opportunities for buyers and sellers, and economists’ predictions for the year ahead.

 

HOME PRICES WILL REMAIN RELATIVELY STABLE

Not even 8% mortgage rates could bring home prices crashing down in 2023, as some prospective home buyers may have hoped. In fact, on average, U.S. property values ended the year higher—with declines in some areas of the country offset by appreciation in others.6

Prices typically fall when rising interest rates drive down demand. So what’s keeping home values high? 

Mike Simonsen at Altos Research points to a nationwide housing shortage: “Declining home prices probably require that supply-and-demand imbalance, and what we have is really a balance. There’s a balance between low demand and low supply.”7

Analysts expect that equilibrium to continue to prop up home prices in 2024, although the specific forecasts vary. For example, economists at Realtor.com predict that the median home price will fall slightly, by 1.7%, while those at Fannie Mae project modest price growth of 2.8%.6,8

However, experts widely agree: Mortgage rates will be the largest driver of property values. If rates fall faster than expected, more buyers will enter the market—which could send home prices soaring higher.

What does it mean for you?  There’s no evidence that home prices are headed for a major decline. So if you’re ready and able to afford a home, this is a great time to test the waters. The best bargains are often found in a slower market, like the one we’re experiencing right now. Contact us to discuss your goals and budget. We can help you make an informed decision about the right time to buy.

And if you’ve been waiting to sell your home, this could be your year. Price growth has slowed, so now is the time to maximize your equity gains while minimizing your competition. Contact us for recommendations and to find out what your home could sell for in today’s market.

MORTGAGE RATES SHOULD FINALLY TREND DOWN

The best news we’ve got incoming for 2024? The extra-high mortgage rates that have weighed heavily on the real estate market may finally be headed south.

At its December meeting, the Fed signaled that the worst is likely behind us and that it expects to cut its overnight rate in 2024. Analysts predict that mortgage rates will fall in lockstep.5

“Given inflation continues to decelerate and the Federal Reserve Board’s current expectations that they will lower the federal funds target rate next year, we likely will see a gradual thawing of the housing market in the new year,” said Freddie Mac’s Chief Economist Sam Khater following the announcement.9

The average 30-year fixed mortgage rate has already declined from an October high of around 8%, and analysts at Fannie Mae, the Mortgage Bankers Association, and Realtor.com all forecast that rates will trend down this year, ending 2024 closer to 6%.7

However, it’s not all good news: It appears that the days of 3% mortgage rates are firmly behind us. “As long as the economy continues to motor along, the new normal of higher rates is here to stay,” explains Greg McBride, chief financial analyst for Bankrate.4 So, when it comes to a home loan, borrowers may need to adjust their expectations.

What does it mean for you?  If you’re a prospective home buyer, declining mortgage rates could give you the opportunity to lock in a more affordable monthly payment. And if you purchase before the market reheats, you could secure an especially good deal. To find the lowest rate, it pays to compare lenders. Ask us to refer you to a mortgage broker who can help you shop around for the best option.

Sellers also have reason to celebrate buyers’ lower interest rates: As the barriers to entry to the housing market decline, they could enjoy more or better offers. Reach out to discuss how we can help you maximize your home’s sales potential.

 

LOWER RATES WILL BRING SOME BUYERS AND SELLERS BACK TO THE MARKET

Over the past couple of years, higher mortgage rates have cooled home buyer demand. They’ve also delayed the plans of many home sellers, who have been reluctant to trade in their current mortgages for loans that are several points higher. 

With so many market participants playing the waiting game, the real estate sector has slowed significantly. National Association of Realtors (NAR) Chief Economist Lawrence Yun estimates that the number of existing home sales fell by 18% last year following a 17% decline in 2022.10

However, as financing costs tick down, sales volume is expected to rise. “Lower mortgage rates would help spur home sales activity, which [is] expected to increase in 2024 compared to 2023,” explains Selma Hepp, chief economist at CoreLogic. “Declines in mortgage rates will drive more sellers to trade their existing home and help add much-needed inventory to the market, leading to more transactions.”4

There’s also evidence that the patience of holdout home buyers may be waning, despite higher borrowing costs. A recent survey by Bank of America found that the number who are willing to wait for prices or mortgage rates to decline before making a purchase fell from 85% to 62% in just six months.11

“When it comes down to it, if buying a home is your goal and within your budget, the best time to buy is when you’re ready financially and you can find a home that fits your needs,” Matt Vernon, head of consumer lending at Bank of America, advised in a recent release. “Even in the current interest rate environment, there are clear benefits to purchasing a home and beginning to build equity.”11

What does it mean for you?  If you’ve been waiting to buy a home, you might want to consider purchasing before the competition picks up. Pent-up demand could bring a flood of buyers back into the market as mortgage rates decline. Contact us if you’re ready to begin your home search.

If you’re hoping to sell this year, you may also want to act fast. An increase in listings will make it harder for your home to stand out. We can help you chart the best course to maximize your profits, starting with a professional assessment of your home’s current market value. Reach out to schedule a free consultation.

THE HOUSING SUPPLY SHORTAGE WILL PERSIST

Will home buyers who are eager for options have more homes to choose from this year?

Yun thinks so. He believes sellers will soon grow weary of waiting to list. “Pent-up sellers cannot wait any longer. People will begin to say, ‘life goes on,’” the NAR economist speculated at a November conference. “Listings will steadily show up, and new home sales will continue to do well.”10

But not everyone agrees. Economists at Realtor.com forecast that inventory could drop by as much as 14% this year. The decline in existing homes for sale has been compounded by a persistent shortage of new construction, with single-family housing starts falling 10.3% in 2023 and 11.2% in 2022.6

Even so, newly-built homes are playing an increased role in easing the supply crunch, accounting for around one-third of all homes for sale in 2023—which was twice the historical average.12 But new construction alone isn’t expected to fill the inventory gap.

According to First American Financial Corporation’s Chief Economist Mark Fleming, the U.S. currently has a shortfall of around one million homes, and conditions won’t ease until individual owners re-enter the market. “Only when more homeowners decide to sell, and then buy again, will housing supply and the pace of sales return to anything resembling normal.”13

What does it mean for you?  Inventory remains tight, but buyers can benefit from the search expertise of a real estate professional. We can tap our extensive network to access off-market and pre-market listings while helping you explore both new construction and existing homes in our area.

While sellers will continue to benefit from the low-inventory environment, they should be prepared to compete against brand-new homes. We can help you prep your property for the market and highlight the features most likely to appeal to today’s buyers.

 

WE’RE HERE TO GUIDE YOU 

While national real estate forecasts can give you a “big picture” outlook, real estate is local. And as local market experts, we know what’s most likely to impact sales and drive home values in your neighborhood. As a trusted partner in your real estate journey, we’ll keep our ears to the ground so that we can guide you through the market’s twists and turns.

If you’re considering buying or selling a home in 2024, contact us now to schedule a free consultation. Let’s work together and craft an action plan to meet your real estate goals.

 


The above references an opinion and is for informational purposes only.  It is not intended to be financial, legal, or tax advice. Consult the appropriate professionals for advice regarding your individual needs.

 

Sources:

  1. CNN –
    https://www.cnn.com/2023/10/19/homes/existing-home-sales-september/index.html
  2. Goldman Sachs –
    https://www.gspublishing.com/content/research/en/reports/2023/10/23/2d814362-a656-4cb3-8586-bea8591188e3.html
  3. ABC News –
    https://abcnews.go.com/US/millennials-priced-homeownership-feeling-pressure/story?id=105032436
  4. Bankrate –
    https://www.bankrate.com/real-estate/housing-market-2024/
  5. CBS News –
    https://www.cbsnews.com/news/interest-rates-are-paused-heres-why-thats-good-news-for-homebuyers/
  6. Realtor.com –
    https://www.realtor.com/research/2024-national-housing-forecast
  7. NerdWallet –
    https://www.nerdwallet.com/article/mortgages/2024-homebuying-trends-property-line-november-2023
  8. Fast Company –
    https://www.fastcompany.com/90991612/home-price-2024-outlook-fannie-mae
  9. Freddie Mac –
    https://freddiemac.gcs-web.com/news-releases/news-release-details/mortgage-rates-drop-below-seven-percent
  10. National Association of Realtors –
    https://www.nar.realtor/newsroom/nar-chief-economist-lawrence-yun-forecasts-existing-home-sales-will-rise-by-15-percent-next-year
  11. Bank of America –
    https://newsroom.bankofamerica.com/content/newsroom/press-releases/2023/12/bofa-report-shows-fewer-prospective-homebuyers-willing-to-wait-f.html
  12. Marketplace –
    https://www.marketplace.org/2023/11/27/mortgage-rates-new-home-sales/
  13. First American –
    qhttps://blog.firstam.com/economics/whats-the-outlook-for-the-housing-market-in-2024
April 3, 2024

Downsize Your Home, Rightsize Your Life: How to choose the ideal smaller home

Downsize Your Home, Rightsize Your Life: How to Choose the Ideal Smaller Home

 

01 Apr 2024  by Brian Whistler

When you’ve lived somewhere for many years, it can be tough to say goodbye. But if you (or a loved one) currently have a home that is bigger than necessary or is too high maintenance, it may be time to trade unused square footage for a smaller, more manageable space. 

Take it from the downsizers who’ve been there: Although living small might require some adjustments, it can also be liberating––especially if you’re in a stage of life where past responsibilities have given way to new possibilities and adventures.  

In fact, many downsizers report feeling invigorated by the change, according to real estate journalist and author Sheri Koones. “It scares people to think of moving into a smaller space,” said Koones to the Associated Press. “But every single person I interviewed who has made the transition says they are so happy they did.”1

The key is to find somewhere you can live well and move around comfortably, without feeling overly restricted. If you like the idea of aging in place or are already in your golden years, you may also want to look for signs that a new home can conveniently age with you. 

With that in mind, we recommend focusing your search around three key factors: desired lifestyle, optimal design, and long-term accessibility. Read on for specific tips, then call us for a free consultation. We can help you identify the types of homes that are best suited to living large with less.

 

Do you have a loved one whose housing needs have changed?
Share this information to help start a conversation about the benefits of downsizing.

 

DESIRED LIFESTYLE 

The best part of downsizing is the lifestyle you unlock when you trade square footage for convenience. With fewer chores and home maintenance tasks to worry about, you can instead channel your energy into other pursuits. 

For example, instead of spending your afternoons working in the yard or cleaning, you can catch up on the news, read a bestseller, start a new craft project, or pursue other hobbies. You may even be able to travel or spend more time with friends and family. 

Research shows that individuals over the age of 65 report more life satisfaction when they have the opportunity to spend time around children, talk with friends, socialize in community centers, volunteer, or engage in hobbies. But that can be hard to do regularly when you’ve got a home that needs constant attention or you live far from your community.2

As you compare potential homes, keep in mind the type of lifestyle you envision. Do you plan to travel? If so, a home with extra security, such as a condominium or gated community, may give you some welcome peace of mind. Or do you plan to have friends and family stay overnight? In that case, you may want to look for a floor plan with flex space or a property that has access to separate guest suites. 

Alternatively, a senior community that offers catered meals and housekeeping may be a better choice if you or a spouse need extra support. 

Action item: Grab a pen and take some time to envision what your ideal future might look like. Write down the activities and hobbies you hope to add to your life or continue with going forward, as well as the chores and responsibilities you’d love to drop. We can use those answers to help shape your house. 

 

OPTIMAL DESIGN

Even though your new home will be smaller, that doesn’t mean it has to feel cramped. As Koones explains, “The key is to have a home that is efficiently designed, both in terms of energy use and in terms of space.”1 

Look for features that can help make a space feel bigger, like high ceilings, large windows, and an open layout. 

Built-in shelving that extends all the way to the ceiling can also make a small room feel more expansive by helping to draw the eye upward. The same goes for highly placed window treatments and striped or mural-style wallpaper, says interior designer, Kati Greene Curtis. “You’ll feel like you’re walking into the scene,” said Curtis to the Washington Post.3 

Efficient layouts with flexible, multi-purpose rooms and few, if any, hallways work especially well for small-scale living. You can also limit dead space in a home by steering clear of layouts with awkward corners, unusable nooks, and other space-eating design elements. 

In addition, look for features that support a simpler, lower-maintenance lifestyle, such as easy-care floors, durable countertops, and bare walls with little, if any, crown molding. 

Don’t write off a home too soon, though, if it feels narrow or congested because of outdated design or poor staging. Cosmetic issues that visually shrink a space are often easy to fix. 

For example, you can instantly make a room feel bigger just by painting it a lighter shade. Adding mirrors and swapping out heavy curtains for sheer ones can also be effective. Plus, utilizing multipurpose furniture with hidden storage is a great way to maximize space. 

Action item: Make a note of your must-keep furniture and other items. Then pull out a measuring tape and write down the dimensions. Once it’s time to visit homes, we’ll have a more accurate sense of what will fit and how much space you’ll need.

To get your creative juices flowing, you may also want to flip through some design magazines that specialize in compact living or catalogs that feature space-saving furniture and accessories. If you give us a list of your favorite features, we can use it to pinpoint homes that are a good match.

 

LONG-TERM ACCESSIBILITY

Buying a home that you can age well in can be a great way to boost your health prospects and happiness. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), homeowners who age in place instead of in an institutional environment not only save money over time, they also enjoy greater health and emotional benefits.4 

Aging in place is also popular. According to survey findings from the National Poll on Healthy Aging, the vast majority of adults between the ages of 50 and 80 would prefer to age in their own homes.5

But even though many adults want to age in place, only 34% of surveyed adults currently live in a home with the features to make it possible.5 

If you’re already in the second half of your life, then it’s smart to prioritize accessibility now, even if you’re highly mobile. 

Choosing an accessible home will improve your odds of staying put for longer. Plus, you never know when you might need an accessible light switch, handrails in the bathroom, or a seat in the shower, says Sheri Koones. “Yes, older people with disabilities need them, but even younger people break a leg skiing, or have situations where they want a barrier-free shower.”1  

As you consider your options, try to imagine what your needs might be as you get older and be proactive in identifying potential obstacles, recommends the National Council on Aging (NCOA).6 

For example, a single-level home or one with wide enough stairs for a stair lift or access to an elevator may be a more practical choice than a home with lots of narrow stairs. Alternatively, a home with at least one ground-level bedroom and bathroom may also work well for you. 

Consider your needs outside the home, as well: If you frequently visit the doctor, grocery store, or community center, for example, then you may benefit from choosing a property nearby. 

Action item: Review the checklist below, adapted from the National Institute on Aging’s home safety worksheet, or download the full version from the agency’s website.7 Highlight the items that are most important to you. We can reference these guidelines as we consider potential homes and suggest ways to adapt a property to meet your current or future requirements.

 

HOME SAFETY CHECKLIST 7

If a walker or wheelchair is needed, can the entrances to the house be modified — perhaps by putting in a ramp to the front door?

Are there any tripping hazards at exterior entrances or inside the house?

Are the hallways and doorways wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair if needed?

Does the home have at least one ground-floor bedroom and bathroom?

Are there any staircases, and if so, could they accommodate a stair lift?

Is the house well-lit, inside and out, particularly at the top and bottom of stairs?

Could handrails be installed on both sides of the staircase?

Is there at least one stairway handrail that extends beyond the first and last steps on each flight of stairs?

Are outdoor steps sturdy and textured to prevent falls in wet or icy weather?

Are there grab bars near toilets and in the tub or shower?

Have a shower stool and hand-held shower head been installed to make bathing easier?

Is the water heater set at 120° F to avoid scalding tap water?

Are there safety knobs and an automatic shut-off switch on the stove?

Have smoke and carbon monoxide alarms been installed near the kitchen and in all bedrooms? 

Are there secure locks on all outside doors and windows?

 

BOTTOMLINE

You don’t have to compromise on comfort to downsize successfully. We can help you strategize your next move and identify the best new home for you—whether that’s a smaller home for rent or another one to call your own. We take pride in offering a full-service real estate experience and assisting our clients through all stages of the real estate journey. And we’ll go the extra mile to maximize your current home’s sales price so that you’re set up for financial security.

 


The above references an opinion and is for informational purposes only.  It is not intended to be financial, legal, or tax advice. Consult the appropriate professionals for advice regarding your individual needs.

 

Sources:

  1. Associated Press (AP) –
    https://apnews.com/article/lifestyle-f094372b46bae82020c174907eb953c0
  2. Healthcare (Basel) –
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10671417/
  3. Washington Post –
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/home/2023/02/07/make-small-room-appear-larger/ 
  4. HUD User –
    https://www.huduser.gov/portal/periodicals/em/fall13/highlight2.html
  5. National Poll on Healthy Aging –
    https://www.healthyagingpoll.org/reports-more/report/older-adults-preparedness-age-place 
  6. National Council on Aging (NCOA) –
    https://www.ncoa.org/adviser/medical-alert-systems/downsizing-for-aging-in-place/
  7. National Institute of Health (NIH)  –
    https://www.nia.nih.gov/sites/default/files/2023-04/worksheet-home-safety-checklist_1.pdf
April 3, 2024

6 Strategies to Save on Home Insurance Premiums

6 Strategies to Save on Home Insurance Premiums

 

01 Apr 2024  by Brian Whistler

From wildfires to floods, the past few years have brought a historic number of devastating climate and weather events to the United States. In 2023 alone, there were 28 individual weather-related disasters that caused at least $1 billion in damages each.1 

These events triggered a huge influx of home insurance claims, and analysts expect the increase in both catastrophes and claims to continue. Adding to the problem, construction labor and supply costs have risen, making it more expensive to repair affected homes. Consequently, home insurance rates have surged: In 2024, Bankrate reports, premiums are already up an average of 23%, following double-digit increases the previous year.2,3 

In disaster-prone regions, the situation is even more challenging. Some insurers have pulled out of risky areas entirely, and many of those that still offer policies in high-risk areas have doubled or even tripled their premiums.4

For most homeowners, comprehensive home insurance coverage is crucial for financial security—but massive rate increases can turn a once-affordable home into a financial burden. They can also pose a serious challenge for sellers. A home insurance policy is typically required to get a mortgage, and, in some hard-hit regions, we’re seeing sales fall through or homes sit on the market because insurance policies are unattainable or too expensive.5,6

But don’t panic! While these broader trends may be out of your control, there’s still plenty you can do to save. Here are our top six strategies to slash insurance premiums while maintaining the protection you need. 

 

1. SHOP AROUND

Getting multiple quotes is a smart move for many major purchases, including home insurance. We recommend reviewing at least three estimates before you commit to a policy. You can get quotes either by reaching out to insurers directly or by working with an independent insurance broker.7 You’ll need to provide detailed information about the property you’re insuring and your claims history.

Make sure you read policies carefully before you choose. Sometimes, a policy can look like a better deal at first glance but turn out to have important coverage gaps. Be sure to consider how much the policy will pay out to repair or replace your home and review caps on personal possession and liability claims. It’s also smart to read reviews from policyholders (Trustpilot is a good place to start) and ratings published by organizations like the Better Business Bureau and J.D. Power. 

For help choosing the right policy, reach out to us for a list of trusted insurance professionals.

 2. INCREASE YOUR DEDUCTIBLE

The size of your deductible—which is the amount you pay before your insurance coverage kicks in on a claim—is a major factor in your insurance cost.

A low deductible, such as $500, comes with higher premiums, while a higher deductible, like $2,500 or even $5,000, costs less on a monthly basis. In some cases, you may be able to customize your coverage further by designating a different deductible for certain kinds of claims, such as those caused by named storms or natural disasters. 

If you are confident that you have enough in savings to cover that initial outlay if needed, choosing a higher deductible can help you save significantly over the long term. According to Nerdwallet, raising your deductible from $1,000 to $2,500, for example, could save you an average of 11% each year.8

 3. BUNDLE MULTIPLE TYPES OF INSURANCE

Insurers want to get as much of your business as possible, so most offer significant discounts if you bundle your home and auto insurance, meaning that you package the two policies together. With some insurers, you can get even higher savings by bundling more than home and auto—RV, boat, jewelry, and life insurance are potential options to consider. 

According to US News and World Report, insurers typically offer customers who bundle home and auto insurance 10-25% savings on monthly premiums. This approach also has other advantages: It cuts down on your paperwork, and in some cases—like if a storm damages both your home and car—you may be able to pay just one deductible instead of two when you file a claim.9 

However, before you sign on the dotted line, remember strategy #1 and be sure to shop around. In some cases, bundling isn’t the cheaper option, and bundling deals vary between companies. It’s also critical to carefully check that the bundled coverage offers everything you need.

 4. ASK ABOUT AVAILABLE DISCOUNTS

Did you know that being a nonsmoker might qualify you for a home insurance discount?8 Some insurers offer some surprising incentives for policyholders who pose a statistically lower risk of filing a claim. In the case of nonsmokers, that’s because of the decreased risk of a home fire.

Many carriers also offer discounts to military-affiliated families, homeowners in certain professions, such as teachers or engineers, or recent homebuyers. Sometimes, you can also save by opting for paperless billing or paying your premiums for a full year upfront.10 

Since available discounts vary significantly between insurers, the best strategy is to simply ask a representative for the full list of available discounts so you can see what cost savings might be available to you. 

 5. AVOID MAKING SMALL CLAIMS

Worried that your premiums will rise significantly in the future? Try to avoid making a claim unless truly necessary. Many insurers offer discounted rates to policyholders who go a certain number of years without filing a claim, and filing multiple claims typically results in large increases.10 If you file too many, you may even risk nonrenewal of your policy.11

Since the cost of even a small premium increase can add up significantly over time, if you have minor damage to your home—for example, if a few shingles blew off your roof in a windstorm—it may be a wiser long-term financial decision to pay out of pocket instead of filing a claim. 

If the cost of the repair is less than your deductible, it never makes sense to file, and if it’s just slightly above your deductible, it’s also usually best to pay for the repairs yourself. Additionally, always be sure to review your policy before you make a claim. Even claims that are denied can count against you, so it’s not worth filing if the damage is clearly excluded from coverage.11 

If you find yourself in this situation, feel free to reach out for a list of reasonably-priced professionals who can help with home repairs.

 6. BE STRATEGIC ABOUT HOME IMPROVEMENTS

Insurance premiums alone may not be the deciding factor for a home improvement project, but it’s important to know how renovations could impact your rates—for better or worse.

For example, some upgrades and repairs can reduce your premiums by making your home safer or less prone to certain types of damage. These include:12

  • Upgrading your electrical system
  • Updating your plumbing
  • Installing a monitored security system
  • Adding a fire sprinkler system
  • Replacing the roof

On the other hand, some upgrades can raise premiums significantly, either because they increase the value of your home (and therefore the cost to replace it) or because they pose a hazard. These include:12

  • Installing a swimming pool or other water features
  • Building an extension or expanding your living space
  • Upgrading materials, like flooring or countertops
  • Adding a fireplace or woodstove

Whether or not your planned renovations are on either of these lists, it’s wise to inform your insurer about changes you make to your home—otherwise, you may risk gaps in coverage. And you’re always welcome to check with us before you begin any home improvement project to find out how it could impact the value and resale potential of your home.

 BOTTOMLINE: Protect Your Investment Without Sacrificing Enjoyment of Your Home

Getting the coverage you need for financial security without overpaying can be a tricky balance, especially in today’s environment. But remember, while it’s important to find the best deal you can, home insurance isn’t an area to skimp on. 

For advice on your specific risks and the type of coverage you need, we recommend consulting with a knowledgeable insurance professional. We’re happy to connect you with a trusted adviser in our network. And if you’re considering a home renovation, feel free to reach out for a free consultation on how it might affect your property value (and your premiums). 

 


The above references an opinion and is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be financial, legal, insurance, or tax advice. Consult the appropriate professionals for advice regarding your individual needs.

 

Sources:

  1. Climate.gov –
    https://www.climate.gov/news-features/blogs/beyond-data/2023-historic-year-us-billion-dollar-weather-and-climate-disasters 
  2. Bankrate –
    https://www.bankrate.com/insurance/homeowners-insurance/homeowners-insurance-cost/
  3. Policygenius –
    https://www.policygenius.com/homeowners-insurance/home-insurance-pricing-report-2023/ 
  4. CNN –
    https://www.cnn.com/2023/09/20/business/insurance-price-increase-risk-climate-first-street-dg/index.html
  5. BBC –
    https://www.bbc.com/news/business-66367224
  6. US News –
    https://realestate.usnews.com/real-estate/articles/how-climate-change-could-impact-your-home-value
  7. Nerdwallet –
    https://www.nerdwallet.com/article/insurance/how-to-shop-for-homeowners-insurance
  8. Nerdwallet –
    https://www.nerdwallet.com/article/insurance/save-on-homeowners-insurance
  9. US News and World Report –
    https://www.usnews.com/insurance/homeowners-insurance/how-to-bundle-home-and-auto-insurance
  10. Marketwatch –
    https://www.marketwatch.com/guides/insurance-services/how-to-save-on-homeowners-insurance/
  11. Bankrate –
    https://www.bankrate.com/insurance/homeowners-insurance/when-to-file-a-home-insurance-claim/#when
  12. Bankrate –
    https://www.bankrate.com/insurance/homeowners-insurance/home-insurance-and-renovations/
July 31, 2017

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Curious about local real estate? So are we! Every month we review trends in our real estate market and consider the number of homes on the market in each price tier, the amount of time particular homes have been listed for sale, specific neighborhood trends, the median price and square footage of each home sold and so much more. We’d love to invite you to do the same!

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We can definitely fill you in on details that are not listed on the report and help you determine the best home for you. If you are wondering if now is the time to sell, please try out our INSTANT home value tool. You’ll get an estimate on the value of your property in today’s market. Either way, we hope to hear from you soon as you get to know our neighborhoods and local real estate market better.

Posted in Market Updates