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!

Oct. 25, 2022

Avoid These Yard Maintenance Mistakes This Fall

Fall is in full swing. And while how you take care of your yard will certainly shift during the fall, many homeowners are in the dark about what needs to be done to maintain their outdoor space—and can make some serious mistakes as a result. (Mistakes that can come back to haunt you come spring!)

So what, exactly, are those mistakes?

recent article from realtor.com outlined some of the most common yard maintenance mistakes homeowners make during the fall season, including:

  • Letting debris build up in the gutters. During fall, there’s a ton of debris that can accumulate in your gutters—from twigs to leaves to trash that gets caught in the wind. And if you let that debris accumulate—and don’t clean your gutters regularly, it could cause water to build up, causing damage to your roof.
  • Not watering your lawn. Many homeowners are vigilant about watering their lawn during the hot summer months, but then let their regular watering schedule slip when the temperatures drop. But your lawn still needs water during the fall (in general, 1 to 1.5 inches per week), so unless you live in an extremely rainy climate, it’s important to keep watering your lawn through autumn.
  • Letting weeds get out of control. There are a lot of weeds that take root in the fall months (like fall dandelions), and ignoring them could damage your other plants. Don’t let your weeds get out of control; instead, regularly remove any weeds from your lawn, either by hand or with an herbicide. (Your plants will thank you come spring!)
Sept. 29, 2022

How to Make Your House the One Buyers Pick (And the Deal Stick) When Selling in This Market

No matter what the market is like, it’s always important to price your home appropriately. Even over the past few years, when houses were all seemingly selling over asking price within hours of hitting the market, you couldn’t sell your house for more than buyers were willing (or able) to pay for it. But there was a little more room for error when listing a little too high.

However, the market is shifting now, so that wiggle room is tightening up, and you have to pay closer attention to your pricing. That doesn’t mean prices have tanked; houses are still selling for record highs.

But, as this Realtor.com article reports, a recent survey done by Cinch Home Services revealed that 51% of buyers backed out of contracts in the past year.

Some of the reasons buyers gave for backing are nothing a seller can do anything about, like:

  • Buyer’s financing falling through due to rising rates
  • The buyer lost a job
  • The buyer took on too much debt before closing

But some of the factors are within your control as a seller, such as:

  • A low appraisal
  • Buyers finding a better deal on another house

You can’t control how much buyers are willing to pay for a house, how much other sellers are asking for their house, or how much an appraiser will say your house is worth. All you can do is be aware of current pricing trends, and be willing to adjust yours.

So here are some things you can do to make sure your house is the one buyers choose to buy, and keep your deal together all the way to the closing table:

Be aware of other sellers’ pricing

What other houses would a buyer interested in your house consider? Keep a close eye on the prices of competing homes on the market. And that doesn’t just mean right in your neighborhood, or even town. Most buyers aren’t dead set on just one area, and could easily choose to buy another house they feel is a better deal. So make sure you’re aware of any house that gives yours a run for the money.

Also pay attention to how much houses recently sold for, because those are what appraisers use to come up with their valuation. If you based your listing price off of data from two or three months ago, and houses closed for less since then, it could affect how an appraiser values your house.

Be willing to budge

If you see other sellers dropping their prices, consider lowering yours as well to ensure that you’re an attractive option to buyers in the market.

If you have an interested buyer whom you sense is considering other houses, you may want to indicate that you’re willing to negotiate.

Even if you have a firm deal with a buyer who is trying to back out because they found a better deal, you might want to renegotiate rather than stick to your guns. It’s better to hang onto a buyer for a little less money than it is to lose one altogether.

And if you have a firm deal with a happy buyer, only to find yourself dealing with a low appraisal mid-way through the transaction, you probably should consider adjusting the sales price down as well. You can see if the buyer will make up the difference, but in this shifting market it probably won’t be something buyers are as willing to accommodate as they were recently.

It might sound like bad news for sellers—and some sellers will refuse to adjust and budge—but the chances are you can still sell your house for more than it was worth a year or two ago. You’re better off capitalizing on that by budging and selling now, rather than holding firm only to find that prices drop even more in the coming months.

The Takeaway:

While sellers always need to be careful about pricing their house appropriately on the market, the past few years were more forgiving if you made a mistake.

But the market is shifting and many sellers are losing deals they could have saved if they were willing to adjust their price.

While it may not sound appealing to take a lower price, you’re most likely able to sell your house for more now than you could have a year or two ago. So before you dig in on your price, consider whether it’s worth the risk of values dropping even more in the coming months.

Posted in Selling a Home
Sept. 22, 2022

Buyers Can Finally Buy a House for Less than List Price (But Savvy Buyers Know When to Still Offer over Asking…)

If you’re hoping to buy a home, you’ll be happy to hear that the average sale-to-list price has recently dropped below 100% for the first time since March 2021, according to this Money article. In other words, houses aren’t all selling for over asking price anymore, and you can negotiate a lower price than the owner is asking.

That’s welcome news, and a silver lining to buyers who waited (or weren’t able) to buy a house in the recent market frenzy. While mortgage rates are higher, at least now you’re more able to successfully compete for a house, and even negotiate the price.

But keep this in mind: there still aren’t a tremendous amount of listings coming on the market. So, even though you may have less competition, when a house comes on the market and it’s appealing to you, there’s a good chance it’s appealing to other buyers as well. That’s also a sign that it was well-priced, or even lower than buyers would be willing to pay, since price certainly plays a role in what makes a house appealing. And when that happens, there’s a good chance the house will sell for over asking price, despite what data and the news may be telling you.

The trick for you as a buyer is to not get stuck in the mindset that you have to get a house for under asking price, just because that’s what you heard on the news. First of all, that’s based upon national data, which may not even apply locally, or the specific price range you’re in. But, more importantly, offering over the asking price is something you always need to be prepared to do. (At least if you want to get the house you truly want to buy…)

No matter what the market is like, if a seller prices their house appropriately, they have a good chance of creating a bidding war and getting over asking price. The difference is, over the past year and a half, they almost had to try and price their house too high for the market to bid it up even higher. While sellers need to be more thoughtful about their pricing than they have been recently, they can still easily generate enough interest to start a bidding war and get over the asking price for their home.

Believe it or not, it can even happen once the house has been on the market for a while! Maybe it just took a little longer because you and other buyers were taking time to think, and then all decided to make an offer at the same time. It surprises agents as much as buyers when a listing agent tells you there are other offers coming in when the house has been on the market for months, but it happens more often than you’d think. But you’re also likely to find yourself in a bidding war right after an owner reduces to a more appropriate and appealing price. The point is, just because a house doesn’t sell in the first day or two doesn’t mean that it won’t sell for over the asking price.

The good news for you is that your competition may not want to offer over asking. Some buyers never want to offer more than the list price and feel they have to get a house for below the asking price, regardless of the market conditions.

The good news for buyers who want to buy a house for less than list price is that, if that’s what a buyer wants or needs to do, they can always achieve that. There’s always a house you can negotiate down from the asking price. Even in these past few years there were opportunities for buyers to do that.

Now, was it a house you (or anyone else) desperately wanted? Probably not. But, if that’s what drives you and makes you happy, there are likely more opportunities for you to do that now than there were a few months ago. But don’t expect to be able to negotiate the price down on a house that’s priced well and has a lot of interest.

The Takeaway:

If you’re in the market to buy a house, the good news is that houses aren’t selling for over asking price as often as they were in the past couple years.

That said, a well-priced house that appeals to you is likely to have offers from other buyers as well, which could lead to it selling for higher than the list price.

If it’s a house you want, and the value can be justified, then consider offering more than the list price. (As long as you can handle the payments, as is always the case.)

Posted in Buying a Home
Sept. 14, 2022

Thinking About Buying a Home? Keep an Eye Out for These Red Flags the Property May Be Overpriced

Over the past few years, the US has been in an unprecedented sellers’ market. Fierce competition and bidding wars caused prices to skyrocket, with the national median price for a home currently sitting at $449,000.

But with recent economic changes and rising mortgage rates, it looks like this unprecedented seller’s market is (finally!) cooling off.

That being said, many sellers are still pricing their homes as if we were still in the peak of the sellers’ market. So, as a buyer, the question is—how can you tell if a home you’re considering is currently overpriced?

recent article from realtor.com outlined key signs a home may be overpriced, including:

  • The home has been sitting on the market. One of the biggest red flags that a home may be priced too high is that it’s been sitting on the market for an extended period of time. Homes in today’s market are still selling quickly—so if a home has been on the market for months without an accepted offer, it could be because the asking price is unrealistic.
  • It’s priced higher than nearby comparable properties. A great way to gauge if a home is priced appropriately is to look at how much comparable homes have recently sold for. If nearby properties of a similar size and age of the home you’re considering have recently sold for a lower price, it’s a strong indicator the seller is listing the home at too high of a price point.
  • Nearby homes are selling—but not this home. If nearby homes are flying off the market—and the home you’re considering isn’t? There’s something wrong—and it could be a too-high price tag.
Posted in Buying a Home
Sept. 8, 2022

Parents Helping You Buy a Home? Keep These Things in Mind

It’s not uncommon for parents to help their children buy a home. In fact, according to a 2020 survey by Loan Depot, 65% of parents said they were willing to help their adult child buy a home by offering financial support by giving them help with a down payment, for example.

Having parents that are willing to contribute to your buying a home is something to be hugely grateful for. But it can also lead to some challenging dynamics, as well as conflict and tension between you and your parents.

But it doesn’t have to! A recent article from realtor.com outlined things you’ll want to keep in mind if your parents are helping you buy a home—and you want to keep tension and conflict to a minimum—including:

  • Set expectations from the get-go. Conflicts happen when people aren’t on the same page, so the clearer you and your parents communicate from the start, the smoother the process will be for everyone involved. Before you start looking at homes, sit down with your parents and have an open, honest conversation. Set expectations around the process, including how much they’re going to give you, and how involved (or not involved) they’ll be in the process of finding a home.
  • Don’t succumb to pressure. When your parents are financially contributing to your home buying process, they may be entitled to share their opinions around what house you should—or shouldn’t—buy. Which is fine, as long as you don’t feel pressured to make decisions based on their opinions. If your parents make a suggestion you don’t agree with (for example, buying a house with 2 acres of land—when you’ve already said you don’t have the time or desire to take care of a yard), thank them for their opinion, but then gently remind them what you’re looking for in a home.
  • Consider keeping your finances to yourself. When your parents are giving you money for a home, they may have questions about your finances. What you decide to share is ultimately up to you, but be wary of opening up your finances completely. The last thing you want is your parents digging into your finances and questioning everyday purchases, which could lead to tension as you look for a home.
Posted in Buying a Home
Aug. 24, 2022

Summer Is Almost Over: Here’s How to Keep Rodents Out of Your Home as the Temperature Drops

With record-high temps and near-constant heat waves across the country, it may feel like we’re in the height of summer. But the truth is, fall is right around the corner. And while the change in temperature will surely provide some much-needed relief from the heat, cold weather can present a new problem for homeowners—rodents.

In an effort to escape the cold and harsh weather, rodents (like mice and rats) often try to make their way into homes.

So how, exactly, do you keep these unwanted guests out of your home this fall and winter? A recent article from realtor.com outlined steps you can take to keep rodents out of your property during colder months, including:

  • Eliminate access points. Rodents don’t need much room to squeeze into your home; in fact, a mouse can squeeze through a hole as small as a dime. That’s why, before temperatures drop, you’ll want to eliminate any potential access points around your home that rodents could squeeze into—for example, by installing door sweeps, repairing any damaged screens, and sealing any exterior cracks.
  • Regularly get rid of trash. Rodents are always on the lookout for food, and trash can be a particularly appealing way to get their next meal. To avoid attracting unwanted rodents, make sure to use a sealed trash bin and remove trash from your home on a regular basis.
  • Keep spaces ventilated and dry. Like all living creatures, rodents need water to survive. So, if you want to keep rodents out of your home, eliminate any potential sources of moisture (for example, leaky pipes)—and make sure to keep areas that rodents tend to hide (like attics, basements, and crawl spaces) ventilated and dry.
July 25, 2022

Does the Cooling Market Mean You Can’t Still Get a Historically High Price for Your House?

If you’ve been thinking about selling your house, you’ve probably heard that the market’s cooling off, or “resetting” (as Federal Reserve Chairman, Jerome Powell, recently put it.) So you might be wondering if that means you won’t be able to get as much money for your house as your neighbors did a few weeks back.

On the other hand, there are still reports that house prices are still rising, like in this realtor.com article, which makes you wonder if you could actually get more money than they did!

So, what’s the truth?

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to that question. Real estate functions on a very local level, and much of what you read is referring to the broader, national market. Not only does the general area you live in matter, but the specific price range or neighborhood your house is in can affect whether or not you get more or less for your house.

For instance, if your house is in a price range for first-time buyers in your area, the higher interest rates could easily affect how much buyers are willing or able to offer. On the other hand, if your house is in an affluent area and there are a lot of cash buyers, prices may not be affected as much. And a lot depends on how many homes are for sale—if there is still low inventory in your area, and a lot of buyers, then prices may stay strong.

While pricing your home appropriately is always important, it’s even more important to do so in this market. You obviously don’t want to price lower than you have to if the market data doesn’t show signs of lower sales prices, yet you don’t want to shoot for a record-breaking price and have your house sit on the market and not sell.

The problem is, when determining the value and list price for your house, you have to rely on recently sold homes as your proof and basis. The houses that are considered “recently sold” were on the market a few months back. And with the market reportedly shifting, that’s ancient history when you consider how much interest rates have gone up in the past few months, after those homes went under contract. Until the houses that went into escrow between then and now actually close, it’s a guessing game as to how much they actually sold for.

So, here are some thoughts to help you think about if you’re putting your house on the market in the near future:

  • Price based upon recent comps, but be ready to reduce. Base your asking price off of recently sold houses that are similar to yours. But pay close attention to how the market reacts over the first couple of weeks. If it appears buyers aren’t going to make offers, you may want to consider a price reduction.
  • Give it some time. Sellers have gotten used to houses selling in mere hours or days, not weeks or months! If yours doesn’t, that doesn’t necessarily mean that buyers think your house is overpriced. As the market shifts, it may just take more time for a house to sell. But generally speaking, you can get a sense of how buyers feel about your price within the first couple of weeks of listing your house in any market. So, give it a couple of weeks to a month and assess your pricing at that point. If buyer reactions and any new data available at that time point to a reduction, then consider doing so.
  • Interest rates do and don’t matter to sellers. There’s a lot of talk about interest rates affecting the market. The interest rates affect how much it costs borrowers per thousand dollars borrowed. So, in a sense, that’s not your problem to deal with. They have to deal with how much they can afford to spend, and what is available for that amount. As long as there are buyers in your area and price range who can afford what you’re asking and are willing to pay it, their interest rate doesn’t affect you. However, if current buyers aren’t willing to pay as much for your house as previous buyers might have because their dollar isn’t stretching as far, then it does affect you.

    Be aware that interest rates have gone up considerably, and may go up more over the coming months. But more importantly, be aware of how much that is affecting the buyers in your area and price range. Just keep in mind, the Fed is actively trying to impact the real estate market by adjusting rates, so if you’re on the fence about selling and worried the rates will affect the value of your house, you may want to do it sooner than later.

The Takeaway:

The real estate market is shifting in many areas, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the value of your house is affected—at least yet.

If you’re going to list your house soon, you have the advantage of basing your asking price off of recently sold houses that are similar to yours, which were likely at historically high prices. Just make sure to keep your eye on the reaction of the market and any new sales data that comes in over the course of the first couple of weeks to a month. If there are no offers on your property, or signs of interest on the part of any buyers, then consider reducing your price.

Posted in Selling a Home
July 11, 2022

Have a Bankruptcy on Your Record? Here’s What to Know About Buying a Home

There’s no denying that bankruptcy is a serious financial challenge. But filing for bankruptcy doesn’t have to keep you from successfully applying for a mortgage; you just need to know how to navigate the process.

So how, exactly, do you do that?

recent article from realtor.com outlined tips for people who are looking to buy a home following a bankruptcy, including:

  • Understand you may need to wait. Most people will have to wait a certain stretch of time after filing for bankruptcy to apply for a mortgage—which can range from one year (for FHA loans) to two to four years (for traditional lenders). If you’ve recently filed for bankruptcy, do your research to see how long your lender will want you to wait before they’ll consider your loan application.
  • Take the time to build back up your credit. Filing for bankruptcy negatively impacts your credit score—so you’ll want to do everything you can to build it back up before applying for a mortgage. Apply for a few revolving lines of credit, pay your bills on time every month, and keep your balances low to help boost your score.
  • The more documentation you can provide, the better. If you filed bankruptcy due to an unforeseen, negative, or extenuating circumstance that kept you from being able to pay your bills—such as a serious illness or the death of a spouse—lenders may be more willing to work with you. Before you apply for your home loan, write a detailed letter explaining the circumstances behind your bankruptcy, and then submit that letter with documentation supporting your claims (like a note from your doctor or a death certificate).
Posted in Buying a Home
June 22, 2022

3 Reasons Why the Fed Raising Interest Rates Is Good for Home Buyers

If you’re either in the process of buying a house, or thinking of jumping into the market, you’re probably well aware that rates have jumped significantly in recent weeks. And that likely doesn’t feel or sound like anything good to you.

But what you might not be well aware of is that, according to Chair of the Federal Reserve, Jerome Powell, raising interest rates is actually being done (at least in part) for the good of home buyers.

With rates nearly double what they were not too long ago, you may be wondering where on earth the silver lining is. This Fortune article keys in on three things Powell is hoping the Fed’s actions will do for real estate buyers. Here’s a quick summary and how it can help you in your home search:

  • They hope it gives you a “bit of a reset” – In short, there hasn’t been enough listings, and there are too many active buyers for the amount of available inventory. Ultimately, that is what led to bidding wars and prices continuing to rise. They’re hoping that by raising the rates, it will help raise inventory levels and price some buyers out of the market, giving buyers who continue with their search for a home more time and options to choose from.
  • Potentially lower prices – Powell didn’t come right out and say that he hoped prices would fall, or that they definitely would. In fact, he basically said he’s not sure if it’ll affect them at all, but that they’re keeping an eye on how it affects prices. The issue is still that there are not enough houses for sale. In order for prices to come down, there needs to be an uptick in inventory. If you read between the lines, it sounds more like they’re hoping that “overvalued” markets will correct, but other areas will plateau or only see mild increases for some time, as opposed to the steep increases in value we’ve been seeing. So, this isn’t a promise, and it will likely depend a lot on your local market conditions. Keep in mind that they’ll also be sensitive to protecting the values and equity of homeowners to avoid causing homeowners financial issues or the inability to maintain or sell their house. It’s a balancing act, which is likely why he sounds a bit vague and says they’ll be watching it carefully.
  • They want mortgage rates to fall – Powell just wants to get inflation under control, and calm down the real estate market so that prices don’t get too out of whack with incomes. Once that’s done, he wants to see rates drop again. Now that won’t be in the next few weeks or months. In fact, it could take a couple of years before you see that happen.

The Takeaway:

While this certainly isn’t great news for every buyer in the market, it can be for you. The rate hikes will edge some buyers out of the market, but those who are qualified and in a position to buy at the higher rates will ideally benefit from lower competition and more homes to choose from at a less frenzied pace.

Prices may not take a steep dive, which some buyers may be hoping for, but that can be a good thing if you already own a home anyway, and want to use the equity you’ve gained by using it to buy a bigger home, or downsize and pocket some of your gains.

On the other hand, if you are hoping for prices to fall, they will at least likely stop rising so much and so fast, and may even take a dip if your market is overvalued. So there is hope for that. Just be ready and in a position to pounce if they do, because inventory is still low, and competition is always fierce for well-priced houses, regardless of what rates are doing.

And lastly, even if you buy at a higher mortgage rate right now, know that the Fed wants to lower rates in the near future, so you can always refinance when they do.

So, even though it may not seem like the Fed raising rates is a good thing for you, it can be if you understand what they’re trying to do and are in a position to take advantage of the lower competition and increased inventory they’re hoping to create by doing so.

Posted in Buying a Home
June 16, 2022

Thinking About Buying a Home but Have Less Than Perfect Credit? Use These Tips to Boost Your Credit Score

Thinking about buying a home, but concerned that your credit score isn’t where it needs to be? Not to worry; there are steps you can take to increase your credit score prior to buying a home—and increase your likelihood of getting approved for a mortgage in the process.

So what, exactly, are those steps?

recent article from realtor.com outlined strategies potential buyers can use to boost their credit score in the months before purchasing a home, including:

  • Check your credit report for errors. Credit report errors are common (according to data outlined in the article, 25 percent of Americans find errors on their credit report). So, before you purchase a home, it’s important to go through your credit report to check for any errors. If you find any, you’ll need to contact all three credit bureaus (Equifax, Transunion, and Experian) to get the error removed. Once the error is off your credit report, your credit score will be adjusted accordingly—a process that typically takes anywhere from one to three months.
  • Pay down your balances. Credit utilization makes up 30 percent of your credit score—so if you want to boost your credit score (and do it fast!), paying down your outstanding balances is your best strategy. You can expect to see a change in your credit score the month after you pay down your balances (as your credit utilization will change).
  • Open a new credit card. Adding a new credit card can also be a way to boost your credit score—both by increasing your available credit (which should improve your credit utilization) and, depending on the type of card you get (for example, a retail card), by diversifying your credit types. Opening a new line of credit typically takes one to two weeks to be reflected in your credit score.
Posted in Buying a Home