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!

Jan. 21, 2019

First-Time Buyer Interest Strong Despite Rising Interest Rates

Interest rates are rising. According to Freddie Mac the 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.

Posted in Market Updates
Jan. 18, 2019

Vast Majority of Millennials Looking Towards Homeownership

If you follow pop culture news, you'd think that all millennials are concerned about is SnapChat and avocado toast. But according to a recent report, there's something much more important on millennials' minds these days—and that's buying a home. According to the 2018 Home Buyer Report from NerdWallet, a whopping 82% of millennials say buying a home is a priority, significantly higher than older generations (which came in at 75% for Gen Xers and only 69% for Baby Boomers). And the reason? 64% say they want to buy a home because it's a good investment—an even better investment than padding their retirement accounts. 56% of millennials surveyed agree with the statement "I would rather have a home I own appreciate in value than have more money in retirement savings".

The Takeaway

If you're a millennial who's looking to purchase a home, you're not alone. And with still-competitive interest rates and new inventory set to flood the market later this year (which will drive down prices), there's never been a better time to start your home search.

Posted in Market Updates
Jan. 15, 2019

7 Debates First-Time Homebuyers Face

Buying your first place can be an exciting but often overwhelming experience. From finding "the one" to figuring out how you'll pay for it, you'll face many choices along the road to home ownership. Before you box up your belongings and prepare to put your new welcome mat in place, you'll have to do some serious soul searching. Let's explore the most common decisions first-time homebuyers face.

1. Location vs. square footage?

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When it comes to real estate, the first thought that flashes through most minds is the old "Location, location, location!" But if you want a home in a coveted spot, you may have to make certain sacrifices in order to afford it. For example, if you're seeking waterfront property, a swanky pad in the city, or a colonial in a top school district, you'll quickly realize that you'll get a lot less room than you would in an area that's off the beaten path. It's a tough decision to make, so put together a list of priorities and choose accordingly.

2. Turn-key vs. fixer-upper?

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Buying a place that needs a little TLC can save you a bundle — if you're handy and capable of working a little DIY magic, that is. Taking care of renovations yourself also gives you a chance to redecorate to your own specifications and taste. On the flip side, if you select a home that's in turn-key condition, all you have to do is put your feet up and enjoy. Of course, you'll probably pay more for that, but you can entertain right away rather than waiting for the paint to dry and the new carpeting to arrive. Both sides have their pros and cons.

3. Big loan vs. big down payment?

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Having a nest egg saved for a down payment is a blessing, but figuring out how to divvy it up can feel like a curse. While putting 20 percent down typically saves you from springing for mortgage insurance, it can feel like a heavy hit. Throwing as much toward a mortgage as possible also means you'll pay less interest over the life of your loan, but it leaves you with less in your pockets to put toward any emergencies that may pop up. Still, deciding how to spend your money is never a bad problem to have.

4. Starter home vs. forever home?

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Moving typically ranks high up there among the most stressful life changes a person can experience, so it makes sense that someone might not want to do it more than once. Choosing between a starter home and forever home can be a real conundrum. If you're hoping to live out the rest of your days in the same space, chances are you may have to save up a little (or a lot) longer to afford it, delaying your purchase by a few months or years. Once you've got that down payment ready, you'll probably put a lot more time into your search. Starter homes can offer an affordable way to stop paying rent, just be sure to choose one you won't outgrow too soon.

5. Condo vs. free-standing home?

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If you love the idea of owning a home but dread the thought of doing all the not-so-little things that go with it, such as landscaping, snow removal, and other routine headaches, er, maintenance, you may be better off in a condo or townhome where, for a fee, those issues are handled for you. Of course, there are times when you may see -— and hear — your neighbors more than you'd wish, making you feel like you're back in your college dorm. Also, if you want to make significant changes to your place, you'll probably have to run everything past a condo board first.

6. Single family vs. duplex?

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Do you treasure your privacy or would you rather play the role of landlord to defray the cost of your mortgage? This is a tough choice. Rents go up over time while your mortgage stays the same, making the thought of buying a duplex an attractive one. But remember, if you live right next door and anything goes wrong, your tenant knows exactly where to find you the split second there's an issue. But, there is good news for owner-occupants in that they often have more options when it comes to mortgage loans.

7. Urban vs. suburban?

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If you love easy access to mass transit, cultural happenings, and a bustling world just beyond your doorstep, city living may be for you. If you prefer a quiet, residential area where you can hear crickets as opposed to blaring horns, you might want to put down roots in a suburb. Consider how you feel about your commute and what you value most. The cost in living in a city is typically higher than it would be in a suburb because of additional amenities and a superior infrastructure. So you'll have less space, but if you find that you're rather be out and about exploring, that may suit you. If you're more of a homebody who cherishes peace and quiet, a suburb could be the right move.

Posted in Advice
Jan. 12, 2019

Selling Your Home? Here’s One Aroma That Will Help You Sell It

True or false…

When you’re selling a house, you should bake cookies before a showing or an open house.

I guess you could say the answer is a hard and fast “true” because, after all, it can’t hurt. Who doesn’t like the smell of freshly baked cookies? But it’s also kind of false… It isn’t like you can Betty Crocker your way to a sale, let alone at the highest price possible. Your entire house still needs to be appealing. A batch of cookies isn’t going to hide bad odors enough or divert people’s attention from a messy house that needs repairs.

If only it were that simple...

Picture (and smell) this — a buyer shows up to a house and the homeowner has:

  • Two dogs laying on the sofa (wet from being in the rain).
  • Five cats roaming around. They share one unclean litter box and use every piece of furniture as scratching posts.
  • A well-used ashtray in each room.
  • A teenage son who has a pile of gym clothes under his bed.
  • A freshly-baked batch of cookies on the table with a sign that says “Enjoy a warm cookie while enjoying our house!”

Think the buyer’s gonna want to grab a cookie, let alone buy the house? Nope. There’s more of a chance their son will figure out how to do his own laundry. You’d think that’s far-fetched, but we real estate agents and our buyers actually walk into houses not too far from this reality.

The one smell that does sell...

Cookies won’t cut it. Nor will a cookie-scented candle. (Or any other candle scent for that matter.)

Pro tip: Some candles can actually turn a buyer off. Even if someone likes the smell of a particular candle, it may trigger curiosity about what the owner is trying to hide.

However, there is one smell that will help your house sell… It’s called “clean.” But you can’t get it in a store, online, or from a late night TV infomercial. You can get the products that’ll get your house smelling clean from any of those places... but there’s no substitute for a good, thorough cleaning to create an aroma that will appeal to any and all buyers. Whether you do it on your own, or hire a professional cleaning service, giving your house a good deep cleaning before (and while) your house is on the market is one of the most important things you can do. That doesn’t mean it should smell like ammonia or “Spring Breeze” cleaning solution. It should smell like nothing, actually. Or at as close to it as possible. Obviously there’s more to it than that... A clean (and clean smelling) house is a good start, but there’s more to think about when preparing your house for sale. Lots of homeowners do very little to prepare their house for sale, yet they expect their house sell quickly and for top dollar. On the other hand, some homeowners go bonkers and do way more than they have to, or even should, to prepare their house for sale. These folks end up spending more time or money than they’ll receive in return.

The bottom line:

There’s a fine line between not preparing your house enough... and preparing your house too much. Always seek a trusted real estate professional’s advice on preparing your house just the right amount.

Posted in Advice
Jan. 9, 2019

Rents Rise Year-Over-Year In Nearly 75% Of Cities In The US

Rising rents have been a problem in the US for quite some time. According to a recent Market Outlook Report from Realtor.com, in 2017 rents rose in a whopping 78% of markets across the US. And according to recent data, that trend is still going strong in 2018. According to a recent article from Apartment List, 72 of the 100 largest cities in the US have seen rents increase over the last 12 months, with this past summer showing significant hikes around the country (rental prices increased month-over-month in 85 cities in June, 62 cities in July, and 54 cities in August).

The Takeaway

As the price of renting continues to increase, homeownership is fast becoming the more affordable option. In fact, according to a recent study by Zillow, homeownership is more affordable than renting in many of the major markets across the United States. If you're currently renting—and watching your rental prices consistently increase—it may be time to explore purchasing a home of your own.

Posted in Market Updates
Jan. 6, 2019

Thinking About Purchasing A Home? Make A Move Soon

Buy a home in Springfield MO

The market hasn't been overly friendly towards buyers in recent months; low inventory and high competition has been driving up prices making it challenging to find and purchase property. But it looks like the tides are starting to turn towards buyers. If you've been thinking about purchasing a home, you're going to want to make a move. Soon. According to a recent article from Realtor.com, the signs are all pointing to an end to the hyper-competitive seller's market we've seen in recent years—and a major shift towards favoring buyers. Inventory is steadily rising (even in California, arguably the nation's hottest housing market, inventory was up 14% year over year), and price appreciation is slowing, which is all good news for buyers. But even though the market is just starting to shift, you don't want to wait to purchase a home. Mortgage interest rates have been steadily on the rise, and most experts agree that rates will surpass 5% by 2019. That increase can add tens of thousands of dollars to the cost of your mortgage.

The Takeaway

If you've been thinking about purchasing a home, don't wait. Take advantage of the changing market and still-low interest rates, and make a move now.

Posted in Advice
Jan. 3, 2019

Want To Increase The Value Of Your Home? Choose Paint Colors Wisely

Springfield MO Real Estate Advice

If you're thinking about putting your house on the market, obviously you want to do everything you can to increase the value before you sell. And if you want to add to that value without breaking the bank? Try a little paint. According to Zillow's 2018 Paint Colors Analysis, which analyzed the effects different paint colors had on home values, choosing the right paint colors—and incorporating those paint colors in the right way—can make a huge difference when you list your home. Which colors will give you the most bang for your buck? According to the analysis, painting your door black can boost your home's sales price by 2.9% while covering the bathroom walls in a periwinkle blue can add another 1.3%. The kitchen is another area where the right paint can add serious value. The analysis found that a "tuxedo kitchen" (which features light walls and dark cabinetry) can increase the value of a home by an impressive $1,547. But the wrong color in the kitchen can cause prices to plummet; a brick red shade can lower a home's selling price by $2,310.

The Takeaway

If you're thinking about putting your home on the market, you should definitely consider painting. The right colors and a few strokes of the brush may be all it takes to add thousands of dollars to your home's final sales price.

Posted in Advice
Dec. 30, 2018

21 Hilarious Tweets That Only HGTV Fans Will Truly Understand

Television is a fun break from reality. Coming home, kicking your shoes off and flipping on the boob tube is a great way to get away from your horrible job, family, life… unless you love the reality TV. Then, sadly, you’re bringing that world home... especially when the shows are about homes! As benign as HGTV might seem, some of these fans are taking their love, and hatred, from a 2 to a 10 and Tweeting for the whole world to see.

1.

That moment House Hunters makes you realize that apparently everyone else in the world, except you, has their lives together...

2.

Say no more! You’re hired.

3.

Ahh… so that’s why dad always brings her a beer when House Hunters is on.

4.

Your budget is almost $1million… but paint is what’s holding you back. Mmmk.

5.

“And by ‘go to the gym’ I mean ‘lay on the couch’.”

6.

Curious how much money Tarek has when he says at dinner, “Hey, could you get this? Money’s a bit tight this month...”

7.

And THIS is why Canadians don’t like us.

8.

JD is the Khloe Kardashian of the Property Brothers.

9.

If this game was a ‘thing’ HGTV would be responsible for eleventy-billion deaths a month.

10.

THIS is when you know you are too invested...

11.

”But they said this line was guaranteed to drive the ladies wild.”

12.

Funny how marriages before HGTV survived on actually doing the stuff you’re watching.

13.

When a tiny bit of knowledge makes you look like a rock star m/

14.

Wow, judgemental much?? It only consumes like 10% of my life...

15.

And that’s the exact reason I keep tissue and chocolate dispensers near my couch...

16.

It’s the proverbial ‘cart before the house’.

17.

Oh your contractor will have a six pack alright... in the cooler in his truck.

18.

I know, right? It’s like an emotional roller coaster that you can’t get off.

19.

When you realize House Hunters should be called Divorce Causer.

20.

When you start wanting to renovate their faces, it’s time to take a break.

21.

“...what if we upped it to $1000?”

Posted in Funny Stuff
Dec. 27, 2018

Majority of Buyers Favor School District Over Home Features

Like the old saying goes, when it comes to homeownership, the most important thing? Location, location, location. According to a recent report from Realtor.com, getting their kids into the right school was the top priority for a huge portion of buyers. And those buyers were more than willing to give up other features in order to buy a home in their desired school district. According to the report, a whopping 91% of buyers with children (and 73% of buyers total) said that school boundaries were "important" or "very important" to their search. And of the buyers that purchased a home in their desired school district, 78% willingly gave up desired home features—like a garage, large backyard, or updated kitchen—in order to make sure they got their children into their school of choice.

The Takeaway

When you invest in a home, make sure it's in a good school district, whether you have children or not—for many buyers, it's one point they're just not willing to negotiate on.

Posted in Advice
Dec. 24, 2018

Sellers, Take Note: A/C, Kitchens, And Energy Efficiency Top Criteria For Buyers

When you're getting ready to list your home, you want to make sure any changes or renovations are going to give you a return on your investment by making your home more appealing to potential buyers. But what, exactly, are the things buyers are looking for? According to Zillow's 2017 Consumer Housing Trends Report, there are a few clear winners when it comes to upgrading your home to make it more appealing to sellers. According to the report, 62% of buyers require a home has air conditioning before they make a purchase. And while the perfect kitchen and an energy efficient home aren't exactly "needs" for most buyers, they do rank high on their list of "wants" (at 48% for both).

The Takeaway

If you're thinking about making changes to your home in order to generate more interest from buyers, your money would be best spent installing central air. Improving your kitchen and making your home more energy efficient come in a close second.

Posted in Advice