No Comments

Home Is Where the Heart Is More than Ever This Year

Home Is Where the Heart Is More than Ever This Year | Simplifying The Market

There’s no denying the financial benefits of homeownership, but what’s often overlooked are the feelings of gratitude, security, pride, and comfort we get from owning a home. This year, those emotions are stronger than ever. We’ve lived through a time that has truly changed our needs and who we are, and as a result, homeownership has a whole new meaning for many of us.

According to the 2021 State of the American Homeowner report by Unison:

“Last year, staying home became a necessity and that caused many homeowners to have renewed gratitude for the roof over their head.”

As a nation, we continue to work through the challenges of a pandemic that’s pushed us all to new limits. Over the past year and a half, we’ve spent more time than ever at home: working, eating, schooling, exercising, and more. The world around us changed almost overnight, and our homes were redefined. Our needs shifted, and our shelters became a place that protected us on a whole new level. The same study from Unison notes:

  • 91% of homeowners say they feel secure, stable, or successful owning a home
  • 64% of American homeowners say living through a pandemic has made their home more important to them than ever
  • 83% of homeowners say their home has kept them safe during the COVID-19 pandemic

It’s no surprise this study also reveals that homeowners are now more emotionally attached to their homes as well:Home Is Where the Heart Is More than Ever This Year | Simplifying The MarketAs we’ve learned throughout this health crisis, homeownership can provide the safety and security we crave in a time of uncertainty. That sense of connection and emotional stability genuinely reaches beyond just the financial aspect of owning a home. As JD Esajian, President of CT Homes, LLC, says:

“Aside from the financial factors, there are several social benefits of homeownership and stable housing to consider. It has long been thought that buying a home contributes to a sense of accomplishment. Still, most individuals fail to realize that homeownership can benefit your mental health and the community around you.”

Whether you’re thinking of buying your first home, moving up to your dream home, or downsizing to something that better fits your changing lifestyle, take a moment to reflect on what Mark Fleming, Chief Economist at First American, notes:

“Buying a home is not just a financial decision. It’s also a lifestyle decision.”

Bottom Line

If you’re considering buying a home, it’s not entirely about the dollars and cents. Don’t forget to weigh the non-financial benefits that may truly change your life when you need them most.

No Comments

Why Now Is a Great Time To Sell Your House

Why Now Is a Great Time To Sell Your House | Simplifying The Market

As we near the end of the year, more homeowners are realizing the benefits of today’s sellers’ market. Record-breaking home price appreciation, growing equity, low inventory, and competitive mortgage rates are motivating homeowners to make a move that addresses their changing lifestyles.

In fact, recent data from realtor.com shows a larger share of homeowners are planning to list their houses this winter. So, that means more homes are about to hit the market, which will lead to more choices for buyers too.

According to George Ratiu, Manager of Economic Research at realtor.com:

“The pandemic has delayed plans for many Americans, and homeowners looking to move on to the next stage of life are no exception. Recent survey data suggests the majority of prospective sellers are actively preparing to enter the market this winter.

If you’re thinking of waiting until the spring to sell your house, know that your neighbors may be one step ahead of you by selling this winter. If you want to stand out from the crowd, this holiday season is the best time to make sure your house is available for buyers. Here’s why.

Sellers Are Still Firmly in the Driver’s Seat

Historically, a 6-month supply of homes for sale is needed for a normal or neutral market. That level ensures there are enough homes available for active buyers (see graph below):Why Now Is a Great Time To Sell Your House | Simplifying The MarketThe latest Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows the inventory of houses for sale sits at a 2.4-month supply. This is well below a neutral market.

What Does That Mean for You?

When the supply of homes for sale is as low as it is today, it’s much harder for buyers to find homes to purchase. This drives up competition among buyers, who then submit increasingly competitive offers to win out against others in the home search process. As this happens, prices rise and your leverage as a seller rises too, putting you in the best position to negotiate a contract that meets your ideal terms.

And while the low housing supply we’re facing won’t be solved overnight, sellers this season should move quickly to maximize their potential. As the data shows, with more prospective sellers planning to list their homes this winter, selling sooner rather than later helps your house rise to the top of a holiday buyer’s wish list so you can close the best possible deal.

Bottom Line

Listing your home over the next few weeks gives you the best chance to be in front of buyers competing for homes this holiday season. Let’s connect today to discuss how you can benefit from today’s sellers’ market.

No Comments

Reasons To Hire a Real Estate Professional [INFOGRAPHIC]

Reasons To Hire a Real Estate Professional [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Reasons To Hire a Real Estate Professional [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Some Highlights

  • Whether you’re buying or selling, there are many perks that come from working with a real estate advisor.
  • Real estate professionals are experts at navigating all aspects of the buying and selling process, including negotiating on your behalf. We can also explain today’s market and break down what it means for you.
  • Don’t go at it alone. Let’s connect today so you have advice and an expert to count on each step of the way.
No Comments

How Smart Buyers Are Approaching Rising Mortgage Rates

How Smart Buyers Are Approaching Rising Mortgage Rates | Simplifying The Market

Last week, the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate from Freddie Mac inched up to 3.1%, and experts project rates will continue rising through 2022:

“The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was 2.9% in the third quarter of 2021. We forecast mortgage rates to increase slightly through the remainder of the year and reach 3.0%, rising to 3.5% for full year 2022.”

If you’re thinking of buying a home, here are a few things to keep in mind so you can succeed even as mortgage rates rise.

Taking Time Off Can Be Costly

Mortgage rates play a significant role in your home search. As rates go up, your monthly mortgage payment increases if you’re buying a home, directly affecting how much you can afford. And even the smallest increase can have a large impact on your monthly payment (see chart below):How Smart Buyers Are Approaching Rising Mortgage Rates | Simplifying The MarketWith mortgage rates on the rise, you’ve likely seen your purchasing power impacted already. Instead of waiting and hoping rates will fall, today’s rates should motivate you to purchase now before rates increase more.

Smart Buyers Can Succeed by Planning Ahead

You can use your newfound motivation to energize your search and plan your next steps accordingly so you’re prepared to act no matter what happens with mortgage rates. One way to do that: take rising rates into consideration as part of your budget.

Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at realtor.com, puts it best, saying:

“Smart buyers should consider calculating a monthly payment not only at today’s rates, but also at rates that are a bit higher so that they won’t be derailed by a sudden upward move. . . .”

You should also be ready to act when you find the home that meets your needs. That means getting pre-approved with a lender so there won’t be any delays when the time arrives.

The best way to prepare is to work with a trusted real estate advisor now. An agent can connect you with a lender, help you adjust your search based on your budget, and be ready to act quickly when it’s time to make an offer.

Bottom Line

Serious buyers should approach rising rates as a motivating factor to buy sooner, not a reason to wait. Waiting will cost you more in the long run. Let’s connect today so you can better understand your budget and be prepared to buy your home even before rates climb higher.

No Comments

Don’t Believe Everything You Read: The Truth Many Headlines Overlook

Don't Believe Everything You Read: The Truth Many Headlines Overlook | Simplifying The Market

There are a lot of questions right now regarding the real estate market as we head into 2022. The forbearance program is coming to an end and mortgage rates are beginning to rise.

With all of this uncertainty, anyone with a megaphone – from the mainstream media to a lone blogger – has realized that bad news sells. Unfortunately, we’ll continue to see a rash of troublesome headlines over the next few months. To make sure you aren’t paralyzed by a headline, turn to reliable resources for a look at what to expect from the housing market next year.

There are already alarmist headlines starting to appear. Here are two recent topics you may have seen in the news.

1. Foreclosures Are Spiking Today

There are a number of headlines circulating that call out the rising foreclosures in today’s real estate market. Those stories focus on an overly narrow view on that topic: the current volume of foreclosures compared to 2020. They emphasize that we’re seeing far more foreclosures this year compared to last.

That seems rather daunting. However, though it’s true foreclosures have been up over the 2020 numbers, it’s important to realize that there were virtually no foreclosures last year because of the forbearance plan. If we compare this September to September of 2019 (the last normal year), foreclosures were down 70% according to ATTOM.

Even Rick Sharga, an Executive Vice President of the firm that issued the report referenced in the above article, says:

“As expected, now that the moratorium has been over for three months, foreclosure activity continues to increase. But it’s increasing at a slower rate, and it appears that most of the activity is primarily on vacant and abandoned properties, or loans in foreclosure prior to the pandemic.”

Homeowners who have been impacted by the pandemic are not generally the ones being burdened right now. That’s because the forbearance program has worked. Ali Haralson, President of Auction.com, explains that the program has done a remarkable job:

“The tsunami of foreclosures many feared in the early days of the pandemic has not materialized thanks in large part to the swift and decisive foreclosure protections put in place by government policymakers and the mortgage servicing industry.”

And the government is still making sure homeowners have every opportunity to stay in their homes. Rohit Chopra, the Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), issued this statement just last week:

“Failures by mortgage servicers and regulators worsened the impact of the economic crisis a decade ago. Regulators have learned their lesson, and we will be scrutinizing servicers to ensure they are doing all they can to help homeowners and follow the law.”

2. Rising Mortgage Rates Will Slow the Housing Market

Another topic that’s generating frequent headlines is the rise in mortgage rates. Some people are expressing concern that rising rates will negatively impact the housing market by causing home sales to dramatically decline. The resulting headlines are raising unneeded alarm bells. To counteract those headlines, we need to take a look at what history tells us. Looking at data over the last 20 years, there’s no evidence that an increase in rates dramatically forces sales to come to a halt. Nor does home price appreciation come to a screeching stop. Let’s look at home sales first:Don't Believe Everything You Read: The Truth Many Headlines Overlook | Simplifying The MarketThe last three times rates increased (shown in the graph above in red), sales (depicted in blue in the graph) remained rather consistent. It’s true that sales fell rather dramatically from 2007 through 2010, but mortgage rates were also falling at the time. The next two instances showed no meaningful drop in sales.

Now, let’s take a look at home price appreciation (see graph below):Don't Believe Everything You Read: The Truth Many Headlines Overlook | Simplifying The MarketAgain, we see that a rise in rates didn’t cause prices to depreciate. Outside of the years following the crash, prices continued to appreciate, just at a slower rate.

Bottom Line

There’s a lot of misinformation out there. If you want the best advice on what’s happening in the current housing market, let’s connect.

No Comments

4 Ways Homeowners Can Use Their Equity

4 Ways Homeowners Can Use Their Equity | Simplifying The Market

Your equity is a powerful tool that can help you achieve your goals as a homeowner. And chances are, your equity grew substantially over the past year. According to the latest Equity Insights Report from CoreLogic, homeowners gained an average of $51,500 in equity over the past year.

If you’re looking for the best ways to use your growing equity, here are four options:

1. Use Your Equity To Buy a Home That Fits Your Needs

If you’re finding you no longer have the space you need, it might be time to move into a larger home. Or, it’s possible you have too much space and would like something smaller. No matter the situation, consider using your equity to power a move into a home that fits your changing lifestyle. Moving into a larger home can provide extra space for remote work or loved ones. Downsizing, on the other hand, may mean saving time and money by caring for a smaller home.

2. Move to the Location of Your Dreams

If the size of your home isn’t a challenge but your current location is, it could be time to relocate to a new area. Maybe you enjoy vacationing in the mountains, at the beach, or another area, and you’re dreaming of living there year-round. Or perhaps the distance between you and your loved ones is greater than you’d like, and you want to close the gap. No matter what, your home equity can fuel your move to the location where you really want to live.

3. Start a New Business

If you’re not ready to move into a new home, you can use your equity to invest in a new business venture. As the U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy says:

“There is an estimate of 31.7 million small business owners in the United States, many of them started their business with the equity they had in their home.

While it’s not recommended that homeowners use their equity for unnecessary spending, leveraging your equity to start a business that you’re passionate about can potentially grow your nest egg further.

4. Fund an Education

Whether you have a loved one preparing to head off to college or you’re planning to go back to school yourself, the thought of paying for higher education can be daunting. In either situation, using a portion of your growing equity can help with those costs, so you can make an investment in someone’s future.

Bottom Line

Your equity can help you achieve your goals. If you’re unsure how much equity you have in your home, let’s connect today so you can start planning your next move.

No Comments

Advice for Selling Your Deceased Loved One’s Home

Advice for Selling Your Deceased Loved One’s Home
The time following a loved one’s death can be difficult, and trying to sell a house during this emotional turmoil can be especially challenging. Nonetheless, families often have to do just that.

Shortly after getting through funeral arrangements, one of the next things to figure out after someone passes away is what to do with his or her property. That includes real estate if your family member owned a house.

One way to make the process easier is by following a checklist of tasks. By doing this, you can approach each step in a straightforward manner without having to wonder what to expect. While Sunbelt Real Estate understands that every situation is different, we want to share six general steps to follow when selling the home of a deceased loved one.

1. Make Sure Everything Is Secure
Before you can even begin trying to sell the place, Safewise points out that you have to make sure the property is secure if no one is currently living there. Who knows how many people have keys to the home? For this reason, it is a good idea to make changing the locks one of the first tasks on your list. Next, take care of the mail. You do not want an overflowing mailbox that no one can check. Contact the post office and cancel any subscriptions.

2. Consider Staying Close By
If you’re managing this process from far away with no relatives or friends in close proximity to your loved one’s home, it may make the most sense to relocate to an apartment or rental close by for a few months. Especially if you can’t stay in the home. This solution allows you to more easily work your way through preparing the home without the burden of trying to do it as quickly as possible. When looking in the Stamford area, beyond proximity and cost, focus on short-term lease options when narrowing your choices.

3. Look For Documents
According to the National Institute on Aging, looking for legal documents should be a top priority of survivors after a person’s death, regardless of real estate. When you also have to put a home up for sale, legal paperwork is even more important. In addition to the typical paperwork needed for selling a home such as mortgage documents, service receipts, and the deed and title report, you may also need your family members will or any other form of recorded wishes.

4. Remember the Bills
Another reason legal documentation is so important is because it can identify who is legally
responsible for making mortgage payments on your loved one’s home. This person may be a
spouse or co-borrower, a co-signer or some other designated party. Also remember property
taxes.

5. Sort Personal Belongings
Going through the belongings of the deceased can be one of the most emotionally difficult parts
of the aftermath. Look after yourself and grieve however you need to. Locating a will or other
form of documented wishes can be helpful because it can provide guidance on what your family
member wanted done with his or her belongings. If you can, try to find ways to carefully
disperse items. Psychology Today suggests that doing so can aid in the grieving process.

6. Prepare the Home for Sale
After sorting belongings, you are almost ready to sell the house. Before you can put a For Sale sign in the yard, however, there are still some things to do. First, it is time to clean. Take a look around and get rid of anything that does not add value to the home. In addition, make any necessary repairs. Light bulbs and faucets are good places to check for issues.

7. Put the Home on the Market
Once you have completed the first five steps, you are finally ready to put the home on the
market. By working with an experienced agent from Sunbelt Real Estate, you can list the
property in adherence with any laws that may apply. In some situations, family members must
disclose certain information to potential buyers. For example, if your loved one passed away in the home, this is usually something sellers must share. Figuring out what to do with a person’s home after he or she is gone can be a stressful task on top of a situation that is already painful. One way to make things easier on yourself is by following this simple checklist.

Are you preparing to sell your loved one’s home? Turn to the dedicated services at
Sunbelt Real Estate to ensure a smooth and easier transition during this difficult time.
Reach out to us today to schedule an appointment. 203-989-9758

No Comments

Home Sales About To Surge? We May See a Winter Like Never Before.

Home Sales About To Surge? We May See a Winter Like Never Before. | Simplifying The Market

Like most industries, residential real estate has a seasonality to it. For example, toy stores sell more toys in October, November, and December than they do in any other three-month span throughout the year. More cars are sold in the U.S. during the second quarter (April, May, and June) than in any other quarter of the year.

Real estate is very similar. The number of homes sold in the spring is almost always much greater than at any other time of the year. It’s even labeled as the spring buying season. Historically, the number of buyers and listings for sale significantly increase in the spring and remains strong throughout the summer. Once fall sets in, the number of buyers and sellers typically drops off.

Last year, however, that seasonality didn’t happen. The outbreak of the virus and subsequent slowing of the economy limited sales during the spring market. These sales were pushed back later in the year, and last fall and winter saw a dramatic increase in home sales over previous years. The only thing that held the market back was the extremely limited supply of homes for sale.

What About This Winter?

Some experts thought we’d return to the industry’s normal seasonality this winter with both the number of purchasers and houses available for sale falling off. However, data now shows that neither of those situations will likely occur. Buyer demand is still extremely strong, and it appears we may soon see a somewhat uncharacteristic increase in the number of homes coming to the market.

Buyer Demand Remains Strong

The latest Showing Index from ShowingTime, which tracks the average number of monthly showings on available homes, indicates buyer activity was slightly lower than at the same time last year but much higher than any of the three previous years (see chart below):Home Sales About To Surge? We May See a Winter Like Never Before. | Simplifying The MarketA report from realtor.com confirms buying activity remains strong in the existing home sales market:

“New housing data shows 2021’s feverish home sales pace broke a yearly record in October, . . . with last month marking the eighth straight month of buyers snatching up homes more quickly than the fastest pace in previous years. . . .”

Buyer activity for newly constructed homes is also very strong. Ali Wolf, Chief Economist for Zonda, recently reported that Stuart Miller, the Executive Chairman of Lennar, one of the nation’s largest home builders, said this about demand:

“There is still a great deal of demand at our sales centers with people lining up and not enough supply.”

The only question heading into this winter is whether the number of listings available could come close to meeting this buyer demand. We may have just received the answer to that question.

Sellers Are About To List – Right Now

Instead of waiting for the normal spring buying market, new research indicates that homeowners thinking about selling are about to put their homes on the market this winter.

Speaking to the release of a report on this recent research, George Ratiu, Manager of Economic Research for realtor.com, said:

“The pandemic has delayed plans for many Americans, and homeowners looking to move on to the next stage of life are no exception. Recent survey data suggests the majority of prospective sellers are actively preparing to enter the market this winter.

Here are some highlights in the report:

Of homeowners planning to enter the market in the next year:

  • 65% – Have just listed (19%) or plan to list this winter
  • 93% – Have already taken steps toward listing their home, including working with an agent (28%)
  • 36% – Have researched the value of their home and others in their neighborhood
  • 36% – Have started making repairs or decluttering

The report also discusses the reasons sellers want to move:

  • 33% – Have realized they want different home features
  • 37% – Say their home no longer meets their family’s needs
  • 32% – Want to move closer to friends and family
  • 23% – Are looking for a home office

Data shows buyer demand remains unusually strong going into this winter. Research indicates the supply of inventory is about to increase. This could be a winter real estate market like never before.

Bottom Line

If you’re thinking of buying or selling, now is the time to have a heart-to-heart conversation with a real estate professional in your market, as things are about to change in an unexpected way.