First-Time Buyer Interest Strong Despite Rising Interest Rates

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Interest rates are rising. According to Freddie Macthe current rate for a 30-yr fixed mortgage is 4.81%, which is up a nearly a full percentage point from a year ago. While some were concerned the rising interest rates would have a negative impact on the market, particularly with first-time homebuyers, it looks as if the changes in interest rates are doing little to dampen buyer demand. According to First American’s most recent Real Estate Sentiment Index (which explores how sensitive first-time homebuyers are to rising interest rates), mortgage rates would have to hit 5.6% before first-time buyers delay entering the market. And because mortgage rates aren’t predicted to rise that drastically anytime soon, we shouldn’t see any negative impact on buyer interest in the coming months.

The Takeaway

If you’ve been hesitant to list your home thanks to fears that rising interest rates will limit the number of buyers, there’s nothing to worry about. Buyer demand is showing no signs of slowing.

Crowdfunding For Home Purchases On The Rise

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For many potential buyers, one of the biggest obstacles on the road to homeownership is saving for a down payment. But thanks to a new technology trend, some savvy buyers are turning to their friends, family, and social networks for help. While crowdfunding has long been a popular trend, until recently it's been mostly limited to the business world. But according to a recent article in The Wall Street Journal, crowdfunding for home purchases is on the rise. There's even a crowdfunding platform specifically for homeowners. HomeFundMe is the first crowdfunding platform specifically targeted to potential homeowners looking to crowdfund a down payment. Potential homeowners are given 12 months to reach their down payment goal, and all funds are wired from an escrow account to the seller when buyers make their property purchase. HomeFundMe is still new (the platform launched in October 2017), but results so far are promising; according to the WSJ article, approximately 400 buyers have used the service to help crowdfund their home purchase since the launch.

The Takeaway

If you've been thinking about buying a home but haven't been able to save for a down payment, crowdfunding could be a way to make your dreams of owning a home a reality.

Couples Prioritize Homeownership Over Weddings

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Of all the purchases most people will make in a lifetime, two of the most significant—and most expensive—are weddings and purchasing a home. Because they're so expensive, it can be challenging for couples to save for both. According to a recent survey, it looks like the majority of couples are prioritizing homeownership over a fancy (and expensive) wedding. According to a recent survey from Open Listings, 64% of couples said they would delay or downsize their wedding if it meant being able to purchase a home sooner, and when asked what big-ticket item they were currently saving for, 29% of couples said a home (compared to just 17% of couples who were saving for a wedding). And the reason? Owning a home is just more important to most Americans couples than dropping tens of thousands of dollars on a wedding—53% of couples and 65% of engaged couples claimed that home ownership was "very important."

The Takeaway

If you've been putting off saving for a home in order to have a large, fancy wedding, you might want to reconsider. A big wedding is a great day. But buying your dream home? That can give you a great life.

No Down Payment? No Problem, You Can Buy A House With A Down Payment of $0

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Most potential homeowners believe that in order to purchase a home they'll need to come up with at least 20% for the down payment. And with the median price of homes in the US at $240,900, that's a whopping $48,000. For many, coming up with that kind of cash just isn't possible. But while you traditionally needed a substantial down payment in order to secure a loan, today there are plenty of ways to become a homeowner—even if you haven't saved a penny for a down payment. In a recent video, the team at Realtor.com break down a few options available for potential buyers looking to buy a home without a substantial down payment. One option is a mortgage from the US Department of Agriculture's Rural Development office, which provides 0% down payment mortgages to buyers in towns with populations of 10,000 or less (which covers 97% of the US!). Other options include mortgages from credit unions, VA loans, and down payment assistance programs. In addition to the options outlined in the video, nontraditional lending options like FHA loans are also a great way to purchase a home without breaking the bank with a down payment.

The Takeaway

If you've been holding back on purchasing a home because you haven't been able to save a substantial down payment, you have options. Talk to your real estate agent and figure out which no (or low) down payment loan option is right for you.

Want To Increase Your Homes Value?

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As a homeowner, there are plenty of projects you can do around the house in order to increase the value of your home. But one of the biggest value-adds? Central air conditioning. According to Zillow's most recent Consumer Housing Trends Report, a whopping 62% of buyers list central air conditioning as a required feature in a home. Recent Zillow data also shows that buyers paid, on average, 2.5% more for homes with central A/C—and that number can jump to upwards of 5% in hot, humid areas. So what does that look like? According to Zillow's most recent data, the current median home value in the US is $217,300. Adding central air to a home at that price would add anywhere from $5,432.50 to $10,865 in value—not to mention make your home a much more enjoyable place to be in the scorching summer months.

The Takeaway

If you've been thinking about installing central air conditioning to your home, data shows it's a solid investment. Not only will it add value to your home, but it's on the top of the "must haves" list for a huge portion of potential buyers.

Thinking About Listing Your Home? It's Almost Time To Make Your Move

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There's a decent amount of debate in the real estate community about what, exactly, is the best time to sell—but according to recent research from Zillow, if you're thinking about listing your home, the time to make a move is right around the corner. In the article, Zillow claims the best time of year to list your home for sale is in late spring, specifically in the first two weeks of May. According to their research, people who list their home for sale during this window sell their homes two weeks faster and for an average of $2.4K more than any other time of year. This stands to show some serious increases thanks to the current housing shortage. Because there are so few homes on the market, chances are many buyers won't be able to find property at the start of the spring selling season—which, as it gets later into spring, can push them to make higher offers in order to land a home before summer hits.

The Takeaway

If you want to make the most money on your home sale, the time to make your move and list your property is right around the corner. So mark your calendar!

House Prices Down Nearly 37% Since Pre-Recession

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There's a lot of talk in the real estate world right now about low inventory—and how that low inventory is driving up prices. But while there's no denying the inventory is lower than most buyers would like it to be right now, when it comes to pricing, things aren't nearly as bad as you might think. According to the Real House Price Index from First American (which factors in income, mortgage rates, and unadjusted home prices to track "real" house prices over time), real house prices in the US are down a whopping 36.9% from their pre-recession peak, putting consumer house-buying power at a near historic high.

The Takeaway

If you've been thinking about buying, don't let the low inventory stop you. There are plenty of homes on the market, and, according to this report, you still have the power to get those homes at a great price.

Think Buying A Home Will Be More Affordable in 2019? Think Again

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The real estate industry has seen extremely low interest rates for quite some time, but all of that may be about to change, and it's driving a massive increase in buying activity. According to a recent report from Freddie Mac, interest rates on home loans are expected to jump an entire percentage point in 2018 (from 3.9% in Q4 of 2017 to 4.9% by Q4 of 2018). That jump can mean a mortgage payment that's hundreds of dollars more per month—and tens of thousands more paid in interest over the course of the loan. And according to a recent article from the team at Realtor.com, the threat of rising interest rates is pushing a new stream of buyers into the market. According to the article, potential buyers who were "on the fence" about buying are now making purchases in order to lock in lower interest rates, creating even more competition and driving up prices.

The Takeaway

If you've been thinking about putting your home on the market, now is the time to do it. With historically low inventory and a new rush of buyers into the market, there has never been better conditions to get the most value from your home sale.

Buying Activity Driven By Projected Mortgage Rates Increasing

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The real estate industry has seen extremely low interest rates for quite some time, but all of that may be about to change, and it's driving a massive increase in buying activity. According to a recent report from Freddie Mac, interest rates on home loans are expected to jump an entire percentage point in 2018 (from 3.9% in Q4 of 2017 to 4.9% by Q4 of 2018). That jump can mean a mortgage payment that's hundreds of dollars more per month—and tens of thousands more paid in interest over the course of the loan. And according to a recent article from the team at Realtor.com, the threat of rising interest rates is pushing a new stream of buyers into the market. According to the article, potential buyers who were "on the fence" about buying are now making purchases in order to lock in lower interest rates, creating even more competition and driving up prices.

The Takeaway

If you've been thinking about putting your home on the market, now is the time to do it. With historically low inventory and a new rush of buyers into the market, there has never been better conditions to get the most value from your home sale.

Nearly 1.3 Million New Homes Completed in May - The Most In Over A Decade

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The housing inventory crisis—which, according to Realtor.com's recent Housing Shortage Report, is the worst inventory shortage in the United States in over two decades—hasn't been an easy time for people on the market for a new home. The low inventory and the intense competition for available homes has driven up prices in markets across the country, making it difficult for potential buyers to find and buy property. But it looks like building is (finally) starting to pick up to keep up with buyer demand. According to a recent report on new construction from the US Census Bureau and the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, builders completed new homes at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of a whopping 1,291,000 in May 2018—the most homes completed in over a decade.

The Takeaway

If you've been thinking about buying a home, this is good news! As new inventory becomes available (and as builders continue to construct new homes to keep up with demand), the fierce competition for property that's become the norm in today's real estate market will cool off, making it much easier to find a home (and, most importantly, to get that home at a reasonable price).

Total Housing Inventory Rises 4.1% From December

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It's been a tough market out there for buyers. According to the recent Housing Shortage Report from Realtor.com, the United States is in the midst of its worst housing inventory shortage in over two decades. But it looks like that might be changing. According to the National Association of Realtors most recent Existing Home Sales Report, total housing inventory rose 4.1% from December to January, with 1.52 million homes for sale across the country. This is still lower inventory than January of last year, but it's a positive sign that the end of the housing shortage may be in sight. Most experts predict mid-to-late 2018 should see major changes in the number of homes on the market. According to a recent article from Realtor.com's economics team, the second half of the year will see a major increase in inventory flooding the market thanks to new construction—which is great news for buyers.

The Takeaway

The low inventory markets across the country have been experiencing has been a real challenge for buyers. But thankfully, it looks like the coming year is going to be a much friendlier environment for buyers looking to purchase a home.

Less Than 5% of Homes in The US Have Negative Equity

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After the housing crisis of 2008, many homeowners found themselves "upside down" on their properties, with their mortgage balances significantly higher than the value of their home. According to Zillow, negative equity in the US peaked 31.4% in Q1 of 2012, meaning nearly one-third of all mortgage holders in the US owed more on their homes than it was valued. But luckily, the housing market has rebounded from the housing crisis, and homeowners have almost completely regained equity in their homes. According to CoreLogic's most recent Home Equity Insights report, in Q4 of 2017 only 4.9% of all mortgaged properties had negative equity, with the number of homes with negative equity dropping 21% year-over-year (from 3.2 million homes to 2.5 million homes).

The Takeaway

If you've been thinking about selling but were waiting for your home to recover its value, now is the time to make a move. The dramatic decrease in negative equity, combined with the current inventory shortage, make it an ideal time to sell and to get the most value for your home.

Will A Home Warranty Ease Your Worries

You know that old phone prank...

Someone calls and says, “Is your refrigerator running?”

The person on the other end then says, “Yes. Why?”

And then the caller says something like, “You better catch it before it gets too far away!!”

The joke worked because, for the most part, everyone has a fridge, and it is probably working. And that is when you should have a home warranty in place... when your fridge is working, not once it is broken.

Do you have a list of worries?

There’s a lot of things you probably notice, but ignore around your house. Until it is too late, and becomes a much bigger problem. It’s not broken...but maybe you notice that your fridge is making a different sound lately. Your garage door isn’t working quite right. It goes half way down and gets stuck. The bathroom faucet is dripping. You notice a little leak in your bedroom ceiling. Little worries like these are super common for homeowners. Maybe you have an even longer list of little worries than those...

What’s the real worry?

But worries like those aren’t the real worry. The real worry is the cost of getting them fixed. For a lot of people, it is hard enough just paying the mortgage and other household bills. It’s not like there’s tons of money sitting around to fix the little worries. So you probably ignore it for as long as possible. Then the little problem becomes bigger and bigger. And the little problems become more numerous. You figure you will deal with it when and if it becomes too big of an issue…which is usually once something is broken, or not working at all. You deal with it once you have to spend the money.

Get a home warranty before it is too late...

If all of that sounds too familiar to you, a home warranty can solve a lot of your worries. But you need to get one before your appliance, your furnace, your air conditioning, or whatever else, is actually broken. They won’t cover your problem if it was a pre-existing condition… Part of the problem might be that you don’t want to spend the money to buy a home warranty. They can cost hundreds of dollars. Maybe even upwards of a thousand or so, depending on the plan and coverages. But in comparison to how much it could cost you if your furnace or water heater stopped working, the cost is really not so bad. And, it isn’t like you can go and just buy a $500 home warranty once the furnace goes kapoot, call them up, and presto, have them send someone over to install a new one. You can try... but they are gonna deny.

Expect some aggravation

As with anything... not all home warranty companies or plans are reputable or great. Just do a little research online, and you will see tons of complaints about home warranty companies. Enough to scare you away from even buying one. With that said, sometimes it is a matter of having the right understanding, expectations, or following the right protocol. For instance, a home warranty company won’t necessarily get you a new furnace...if the existing one can be fixed. A lot of people complain that they wanted something replaced, but the warranty company merely fixed the problem. They have that right. If it can be fixed, they fix it. If not, they replace it. Sometimes, people misunderstand what to expect, or simply want more than they should expect. Or, some people will feel that they should be able to call their own contractor to have a problem fixed or replaced, and expect that the warranty company will pay the bill. Most don’t allow that. The warranty company needs to be called first, and they will usually give you a choice of a few contractors that they have relationships with. Not necessarily contractors you know, or want to hire. A lot of times, people complain just because they presumed that something would be covered, when it really isn’t. You need to know what your policy will cover. (A pool, for instance.) There are usually a few options within each home warranty company. Obviously, the more and better the coverage... the more the cost. And it isn’t uncommon to have to fight a little bit (or a lot a bit) to get something covered. They certainly have their loopholes and language in the policies that allow for them to deny coverage if they want to. Or even just do things as cheaply as possible. So, do expect that just buying a home warranty is not a direct ticket to getting everything you want, at least without question or a little fight. It’s aggravating, but the old adage about the squeaky wheel gets the oil is probably a good way to approach dealing with your home warranty company. Expect to squeak.

A good, simple trick...

Hey, you may find a great home warranty company who addresses you and your problems thoroughly, quickly, and with little hassle. Without needing to squeak, even. If so, that’s great. But probably not... judging by so much of what you read online. It is hard to find one that has an absolutely favorable reputation. So a good trick you might want to consider is this… ...call your real estate agent.

Ask your real estate agent for their advice.

Advice on:
  1. Does a home warranty make sense for you, your needs, and your specific concerns?
  2. If so, what home warranty companies do they recommend?

Here is the real “trick” to this trick...

Real estate agents often have affiliations with home warranty companies. They are are in the business day after day. Home warranty companies do not want to be on their bad side. So, if you are having an issue with a home warranty company, your real estate agent may just be helpful in getting the warranty company to get things done. Especially if it is one that they have an affiliation with, or recommend. All it might take is a phone call, or an e-mail from your real estate agent, and whatever issue you were having might just get resolved more quickly than by you spending hours on the phone, sending e-mails, or writing a scathing complaint online. Too often, some of the in-between-the-lines benefits of a real estate agent get overlooked.

This is one of those benefits. Don’t overlook it.

If you have any little worry around your house...or a long list of them...call your real estate agent. Ask their advice. Most agents will give it freely, and for free. And gladly.

When Is The Best Time Of Year To Buy A Home?

One question that pops up constantly from both first-time and seasoned homeowners alike is "When is the best time of year to buy a home?" Potential homeowners want to know the best time of year to get the best home for the lowest price - and ideally, at a time that makes sense for their life. It would be great if there were a simple and straightforward answer, like "the best time of year to purchase a home is between April 1 and April 7." But unfortunately, it's not that simple. Let's take a look at the factors that play into answering the question "when is the best time of year to buy a home?"

Convenience

The first factor to consider when buying a home is convenience. This is particularly important if you have a family. If you have school-aged children, you ideally want to move in between school years, so sometime between May and August. Pulling a child out of school in the middle of the year can be challenging, and children might have a hard time to adjusting to a new school in the middle of the year. However, because so many potential homeowners have families that want to move during this time period, it drives up the prices, making the summer the most expensive time a year to buy a home. So, if your main concern is convenience for your family, then summer is a good time to buy - just be prepared to pay a higher price than you would at other times of year.

Inventory

If your top priority is having a lot of houses to choose from, you'll want to buy a house during the time of year when the most homes are on the market. That way, you'll have your pick of multiple properties and are much more likely to find a home that has all the items on your wish list. In most areas, the highest inventory peaks in the spring, right before the end of the school year. Inventory stays high throughout the summer and then starts to fall in early autumn, with the lowest inventory happening in late autumn and winter. If you want a variety of homes to choose from, look to buy in the spring.

Price

If your main goal is to get an amazing home at a low price, the best time of year to buy is when competition is low. When there aren't as many people looking to buy, it drives down the prices of homes, and you can purchase property at a significantly lower rate. On average, homes cost 8.45% less in January and February than they do in June, July, and August. If you were looking at purchasing a $500,000 property, that would bring the price down $42,250 for a sale price of $457,750. That kind of price drop could save you a significant amount of money over the course of your mortgage and lower your monthly payments. If you're looking to get the most house for your money, purchasing a home in the winter is definitely your best bet. The best time of year to buy a home is largely dependent on your needs and priorities. If you're looking to buy at a time that's most convenient for your family (and in particular, your children), buying during the summer is a great option. If you want to see as many homes as possible in order to find a property that has everything you're looking for in a home, you'll want to buy a home in the spring, when inventory is at its highest. And if your bottom line is you want to pay the lowest price possible, purchasing a home in the winter, when prices are significantly lower, will be the most advantageous. Just keep in mind that finding and purchasing a home takes time; while it happens, the chances of finding a property during the first week of looking for a home are slim. On average, people spend 30 - 60 days looking for a home and another 14 - 60 days from contract to close, so make sure to give yourself plenty of lead time to take advantage of the time of year that's best for YOU to purchase.

How Important Is Commitment?

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Commitment is a HUGE word to most, because ultimately it means sticking to our guns and pushing through obstacles along the way.  Commitment can be taken in two very different ways though...  It can be a mere persistence in driving forward, keeping to the path, being flexible only to stay on that path.  It can also be directed towards the commitments we keep on our daily schedules, which can easily be strayed from.  Since I am in the Real Estate industry I will relay an example in relation to being an agent.  Lets say as an agent Ive committed to a family event whether it be a birthday, dinner or alike.  I then receive a call from a client wanting to see a property at the exact same time as my planned family event.  An agent who is truly in control of their business will relay to the client that they are unavailable during that time and reschedule to an alternate.  This is very controversial considering many agents believe that the client comes first no matter what, in which I disagree.  When hiring an agent, one who sticks to their commitments is much more likely to provide a quality service than an agent who scattered willing to go wherever the money is.

Do You Need A Real Estate Agent When Buying New Construction?

If you consider buying a new construction home, there’s a good chance you’ll question whether or not you even need to use a real estate agent. You might even wonder if there’s an advantage to not using a real estate agent…perhaps thinking you can get a lower price, or more upgrades thrown in, if the builder isn’t paying a real estate agent their commission. Or, you just might not give it any thought whatsoever, and stumble into buying your new construction home, without having your own real estate agent to represent you. So, do you need to use a real estate agent when buying new construction? Technically? No. Should you? Yes.

Beyond Just Signing A Little Paperwork

One reason people question whether an agent is necessary, is because many tend to see it as an agent just signing some paperwork so they can get a commission. There are certainly agents out there who don’t bring a heck of a lot to the table in terms of expertise and skills. There are ones who literally just want to make sure they are in the room when you do the paperwork, so they can secure their commission. Unfortunately, they give great agents a bad rap. Those are not the type of agents you should hire if you are buying new construction. Or any house for that matter. The purchase of a new construction home really isn’t any different in many ways than purchasing a resale home. The knowledge and skills of a good real estate agent go beyond the “finding” of your home, or doing some paperwork.

The Builder Is Not Your Ally

Not that every builder is evil, and out there trying to take advantage of you. But a builder is certainly going to be looking out for their best interests...not yours. If a builder or their representative pushes you to not use your own real estate agent, that’s a huge red flag. Some may even give you an “incentive” not to use your own real estate agent, and say that they will throw in some free upgrades, or lower the price of the home. A truly reputable builder will not push you to not use your own real estate agent. And they certainly won’t try and lure you with the temptation of free upgrades. Because that’s shady. Look at it like this… Let’s say you were suing someone in court. The person you are suing is a lawyer. The lawyer says to you, “Hey, don’t bother getting your own lawyer. No need really. I know what I’m doing. If you need some thoughts along the way, just ask me what I think you should do. Save yourself the cost of a lawyer, and I promise to take it easy on you in court.” You’d never do that. It makes no sense. The lawyer isn’t going to look out for you more than his own interests. It would be your mistake for trusting that he would. Nobody would think you were all that bright for doing that. Most reputable builders go out of their way to deal with local real estate agents. They expect to deal with a real estate agent. They’ve factored a real estate agent’s commission into the cost of the home.

It’s About Representation

There may very well be a licensed agent at the new construction site, sitting in the model home. But that’s not your agent...despite any disclosures or documents that they may go over with you. You want your own agent. Someone third party, not affiliated with the builder. Someone affiliated with you and your interests. Because this is about representation. Representation of you and your interests. Not just someone along for the ride and to sign a few papers and then swing back around and collect a commission check. And if you hire your own real estate agent, the agent has a fiduciary responsibility to you. They need to treat the relationship with care and trust. Look out for you and your interests. But beyond that, they’ll help you understand the contract, and look for anything unusual. They might suggest some things to add to the offer and contract, like certain contingencies the builder may be trying to get away from including. They will negotiate on your behalf. Your real estate agent will be able to help you decide between all of the options you have out there in the market. They will help assess the big picture. Maybe new construction isn’t the best choice for you. Maybe it is. Maybe this development is the best for you. Maybe it isn’t…

Do This First

Before you just stroll into check out a model home, find a real estate agent to represent you. (If you already have one, skip to the next section…) Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200. Interview and choose an agent who will represent you. If you find one that specializes in new construction, that’s a bonus, but don’t expect it or limit yourself to one that does. There’s more resale business than there is new construction in many areas. So a lot of agents aren’t going to be specialists in new construction. And that’s fine. You want someone sharp about the universal stuff, like negotiating, analyzing the deal, understanding the market, and you and your needs.

Then Do This

Now you can go check out model homes… But don’t just wander into a development or model home on your own and have a look see. For the first visit, go with your real estate agent. “Register” at the site, and reserve the right to representation by your real estate agent. (If you do not go with your agent on the first visit, it can be a mess trying to involve one afterwards.) While you don’t technically need your own real estate agent, there’s certainly a lot of benefit to having one…and a lot of potential downside to not having one.

8 Reasons Most FSBOs End Up Hiring An Agent

Whether you've lived in your home for a few months or a few decades, you probably think you know it best. But that doesn't mean you're the most qualified person for the job when the time comes to sell it. Many folks are tempted to take the For Sale By Owner (FSBO) route believing they'll save a bundle by not paying an agent's commission. They may imagine it's a simple as sticking a sign in the ground and watching a qualified buyer magically appear. While that may happen occasionally, the vast majority of that time it doesn't work like that. At all. Below are some questions most FSBOs think they can answer with a resounding “YES!”... which is rarely the case. More often than not, they end up listing with an agent instead.

1.Do you know how to price it accurately?

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Coming up with the right asking price requires doing your due diligence. Researching what comparable homes in the area recently sold for is key. You may also want to hire an appraiser to be sure you're not over-pricing or under-pricing your property, as both will end up costing you. Also, beware: Those who've gone the FSBO route note that very often buyers are hoping for a deep discount knowing sellers aren't paying anyone a commission. So even if you've listed it for a fair price, be prepared to negotiate.

2. Are you a marketing maven?

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If only selling your home were as simple as sticking a few 'For Sale' and 'Open House' signs around town and watching the offers roll in! But there's a lot more to it than that. Most buyers and agents will first find your property online. That means you'll want to be sure to develop a stellar Internet strategy. Your home should be easily viewable on your local Multiple Listing Service site. (Expect to pay a fee for this!) You'll want flawless photos too, of course, so put that iPhone away! You may also consider creating a website that shows off your place in all its splendor. Are you ready to make up flyers, post it on Craigslist or other online forums, put signs in prominent locations on your open house days? All of this takes time and effort but is the only real way to guarantee foot traffic.

3. Do you have the time to show it?

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Sadly, not all prospective buyers will want to see your home between noon and 2 p.m. on a Sunday. You'll need to be available during the day and evening. Even if you work locally, dropping everything for an impromptu showing gets old pretty fast. And what happens if you're not accommodating? Chances are your potential buyers are going to move on.

4. Are you up on the latest trends?

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Think your home is perfect just as it is? It may be, but unless you're in the know when it comes to exactly what homebuyers are looking for, you can end up losing a potential deal thanks to outdated bathrooms and overflowing closets. Never underestimate the value a licensed real estate pro brings in terms of helpful home staging and cleaning hints.

5. Are you certain buyers are pre-approved?

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Nothing is worse than thinking you're this close to striking a deal only to find out your would-be buyer won't be able to come up with the financing. Can you confidently separate the real prospects from the lookie-loos? Agents vet potential buyers, saving you time, money, and serious aggravation. If you're going it alone, be sure to ask for a pre-approval document before taking your home off the market.

6. Can you remove the emotion?

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Even though you're ready to sell it, you may still feel some attachment to your home. So, when you hear that buyers want to gut it, level it, or possibly take a sledge hammer to those granite countertops you spent hours selecting, it can strike a nerve. At that point, reason can take a backseat to emotion and you'll blow a potential deal by not putting the big picture ahead of your feelings.

7. Are you ready to field calls night and day?

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Once you've got a buyer on the hook, get ready for all sorts of calls and requests to show the place to every relative they've ever met. They also may have a sudden urge to stop by at 10 p.m. to measure for a new couch. You may be too afraid to tell them "no" for fear of losing them. This is where an agent will often step in and keep those demands to a minimum.

8. Will you understand all the documents?

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OK, here's where things get really complicated. How well-versed are you in homebuying and selling vernacular and legalese? When you sell a home yourself, everything you're stating needs to be accurate or the buyer may be able to come back to you for reparations later. For example, did you advertise that your floors are hardwood when they're actually veneers? A real estate pro is aware that the devil is often in the details. Are you?

After all is said and done, you may lose money.

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Even if you really put your heart and soul into selling your place yourself, you still may not come out ahead. According to a 2015 report by the National Association of Realtors, the average home sold by its owner sells for $210,000, while one sold by an agent goes for $249,000. Now, of course, studies have also pointed out that owners are more likely to try to sell their homes themselves in markets with lower price points, making that disparity seem greater than it might be. But, when you consider the time and effort that go into selling your home on your own, it may make (dollars and) sense to hire a local real estate professional.

Home Prices Up 7.1% From Last Year

Thanks to the historic inventory shortage, home prices across the US are on the rise. According to Core Logic’s May 2018 Home Price Insight Report, home prices across the US are up 7.1% from last year. That means a home listed for $250,000 in May 2017 would sell for $267,750 today—an increase of $17,750. And those increases are showing no signs of slowing down. According to the report, home prices are projected to grow another 5.1% by May 2019. Which means that same house that was valued at $250,000 just a year ago would then sell for $281,405.25—an increase of another $13,655.25.

The Takeaway

The lack of inventory is creating sellers’ markets across the US and driving up home prices, making now an ideal time to sell your home. If you’ve been thinking about putting your home on the market, you’re going to want to make a move soon and take advantage of these price increases before they start to decline.

As Rental Prices Continue To Increase, Is It More Affordable To Buy?

Most people assume that when it comes to affordability, renting is the way to go. According to a recent report, the perceived affordability is what's keeping a solid chunk of people in the rental market. According to the Consumer Housing Sentiment Study highlighted in CoreLogic's most recent Home Price Insights report, 48% of renters cite "affordability" as their reason for not owning a home. But the truth of the matter is that in today's market, renting just isn't the more affordable option. According to the most recent Market Outlook Report from Realtor.com, rents rose year-over-year in a whopping 78% of counties across the US. And according to Trulia, homeownership is now more affordable than renting in 98% of the largest metro markets in the United States.

The Takeaway

If you've been continuing to rent thinking it was saving money, it's time to reevaluate the affordability of your current living situation—and see whether homeownership could actually be the more affordable option.

Housing Price Cuts Mean Good News For Buyers

Because of the historic inventory shortage, competition for homes has been steep, and prices have been rising sharply in markets across the country as a result. But according to a recent report, it looks like that's (finally) starting to change, spelling good news for buyers. According to recent data from Zillow, 14% of all listings in the United States had a price cut in June 2018, and since the start of the year, the share of listings in the US that had a price cut increased by 1.2 percentage points—the largest January-to-June increase since Zillow started collecting data. What does this mean? As the housing market starts to normalize (after years of leaning towards sellers), homeowners putting their properties on the market are having to adjust their prices in order to stay competitive—which is great news for buyers.

The Takeaway

If you've been thinking about purchasing a home, now is a great time to make a move and take advantage of these price cuts.