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!

Dec. 21, 2018

10 False Assumptions People Make About Real Estate Agents

 

Let's face it, everyone either knows a real estate agent, or is connected to one through six (probably less) degrees of separation. Between friends and relatives, and the stereotypical representation of real estate agents on television and in pop culture, the general public has adopted some assumptions about agents that are very far from the truth. Here are ten things that people assume about real estate agents that just aren’t true:

1. They make “easy money”

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH. The only people who could ever possibly make the case that being an agent is an easy way to make money are those who have never done it. It’s hard, uncertain work, with many instances of months wasted on a deal that doesn’t ever close. The only thing easy about it is reading the Lighter Side of Real Estate.

2. They are required to show you houses even if you’re not pre-approved

There are definitely agents who will show you houses without a pre-approval (or at minimum a pre-qualification), but an agent is not required to, and most experienced agents probably won’t. The ability to qualify for financing dictates whether or not a deal is even possible, so an agent is simply saving you from disappointment (or worse) by asking you to get pre-approved.

3. Zillow is more accurate than they are

It would be wonderful if Zillow (and similar websites) were accurate in their home valuations, but if you compared their results to actual appraised values, in most cases you’d burst out laughing. Real estate agents want you to get as much money as possible for your house, but oftentimes reality gets in the way. Trust your realtor to give you a fair market assessment for your house...at least more than you trust Zillow.

4. They make huge commissions

The popular real estate flipping shows on cable, and Million Dollar Listing have given everyone the impression that real estate agents are rolling in the dough. Most real estate agents wish that this was true, but reality is much different. The median US existing home sale price in December 2016 was $234,900, which means after splitting the commission and paying their broker, an agent took home about $3500 on the transaction, not including all marketing and related expenses. As a monthly income, this adds up to about $40,000 per year. Not exactly huge.

5. They’re an unnecessary evil

Many people have made the argument that real estate agents are unnecessary and are merely an impediment to a more efficient “For sale by owner” model of real estate. The best way to eliminate this misconception is to try selling your house yourself. There is nothing more sobering than desperately Googling state and federal real estate laws as some unkempt stranger is knocking on your door asking you questions about your FSBO house.

6. They’re sleazy

Unfortunately, real estate agents have joined the ranks of lawyers, politicians, and salespeople in some of the public’s assumptions about their trustworthiness. The financial collapse of 2008 exacerbated this perception. Thankfully, the market correction also weeded out most of the unsavory elements in the business. The truth is, real estate agents are honest, hardworking people, making a living like any other profession. And just like any other profession, there are a few bad apples that unfairly give the others a bad name.

7. They’re uneducated

This misconception really gets under most agents’ skin, because not only do many agents have degrees (and advanced degrees in quite a few cases), but the knowledge required to pass a real estate exam is substantial. There are many people who are unable to get their licensing because of an inability to pass the licensing tests, which makes the concept of an “uneducated” agent laughable.

8. They want you to pay more for a house so they can make more money

If you truly looked at the math involved in calculating real estate commissions, you’d never utter this falsehood again. An agent getting you to pay $10,000 more for a property will net that agent approximately $150, which barely covers the cost of gas required to drive to and from your appointments. The truth is that an agent absolutely wants you to buy a house. What’s not true is that they want you to pay more for one.

9. They’re mostly part-timers or bored housewives

If you ask the average person to describe the archetypal real estate agent, they’ll probably say it’s an older married woman who is looking for something to do in her free time. Ugh. This is stereotyping at its finest, and ignores the hundreds of thousands of male agents, the hundreds of thousands of full-time agents, and the hard-working primary bread winners that make up the real estate workforce. Sure, the stereotypical agents do exist, but they’re the exception to the rule.

10. All they want from you is the deal

Yes, agents want your business. But true professional real estate agents want to be your lifelong real estate advisor. They want you to think of them whenever you or your family and friends have any real estate questions. They want to see you and talk to you more than once a decade, and they want to make sure that you remember your interactions with them as being absolutely delightful.

Posted in Services
Dec. 18, 2018

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

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.

Posted in Advice
Dec. 15, 2018

Have “Just Average” Credit? You Can Still Get A Mortgage

According to Time Magazine, the average credit scores in the US as of April 2017 are:

  • 652 for people ages 18 - 29
  • 671 for people ages 30 - 39
  • 685 for people ages 40 - 49
  • 709 for people ages 50 - 59
  • 743 for people ages 60+

And without taking age into account, the overall average credit score in the US (as of 2018) is 695. But is that enough to secure a mortgage? Most potential homeowners think that in order to purchase property they need an excellent credit score—generally considered a FICO score of 750 or higher. But the truth is, "just average" credit can be enough to get you into the house of your dreams. According to the March 2018 Origination Insight Report from Ellie Mae, the average FICO scores for approved loans are 722. This number is slightly higher for conventional loans (at 752) and slightly lower for FHA loans (at 677).

The Takeaway

You don't need perfect credit to get a mortgage! If your credit is hovering somewhere in the "just average" range, you can secure the funding you need to buy a home, especially if you're open to exploring non-traditional options.

Posted in Advice
Dec. 12, 2018

Children A Major Factor In Choosing A Home

Most parents will do anything for their children, and that includes buying a home that suits their needs. According to a recent survey by SunTrust Mortgage, 55% of homeowners in the US say their children's opinion plays a major role in their decision to buy a home (that number jumps to 74% when dealing with millennial parents between the ages of 18 and 36). What does that mean for you? While it's important to make sure your home appeals to potential buyers, it's just as important to make sure it appeals to potential buyers' children. According to the survey, the most important factors for children when deciding whether a new home is the right fit for them is having their own bedroom (57%) and a large backyard (34%).

The Takeaway

Before you list your home, make sure you stage a children's bedroom and get the backyard in play-outside-all-summer-shape to show potential buyers' kids that your home is the right one for them. Once they're on board, their parents will get on board, too.

Posted in Advice
Dec. 9, 2018

Rental Prices Across the Country Hit Highest Level in Over Two Decades

The US Census Bureau recently released its quarterly report on residential vacancies, and the news isn't good for renters. According to the report, the median asking rental price for vacant units across the country is $951. That price has more than doubled since 1995 (the earliest data available), when median asking prices were right around the $400 mark.

The Takeaway

With rising prices and high competition for available units (the vacancy rate for rental units in Q2 2018 was just 6.8%), now is NOT a good time to rent. Buying a home is a much better long-term investment for your financial future. And thanks to the historically high prices for rental units, in many cases, it's just as affordable as renting.

Posted in Market Updates
Dec. 6, 2018

Americans Choose Real Estate As Best Investment For 5th Straight Year

The results are in: the best long-term investment you can make? Real Estate. Each year, Gallup surveys Americans to find out what they believe to be the best investment options for building long-term wealth. And in their most recent survey, Americans overwhelmingly chose real estate, making this the fifth year in a row real estate tops the list. Thirty-four percent of Americans surveyed chose real estate as the best long-term investment option for building wealth, which is nearly ten percentage points ahead of the next investment choice on the list, stocks (which came in at 26%). The results of the Gallup survey, and the fact that real estate has been chosen as Americans' top investment choice for five years running, is a clear indicator that faith in the real estate market has bounced back since the Great Recession (when gold was a much more popular investment option).

The Takeaway

With consumer confidence clearly indicating stability in the market, there's never been a better time to purchase a home—and make a long-term investment in your future.

Dec. 4, 2018

7 Hilarious Jimmy Fallon-Style “Thank You” Notes From Real Estate Agents

Thank you, Jimmy Fallon, for making it impossible to say "Thank You" without that intonation, and imagining lifting a pen in the air.

1) Thank you, FSBOs...

...for confirming that selling a house isn't as easy as I make it look.

via GIPHY

2) Thank you, open houses...

...for giving me some quiet alone time on a Sunday.

via GIPHY

3) Thank you, weekend...

...for understanding that I don't have time for you now that I'm in real estate.

via GIPHY

4) Thank you, real estate agent who's been in the business 28 years...

...for telling me you've been in the business 28 years.

via GIPHY

5) Thank you, political yard signs...

...for getting my buyers' hopes up, only to disappoint them when they mistake you for a For Sale sign.

via GIPHY

6) Thank you, car...

...for also being an office, filing cabinet, and occasional dining room.

via GIPHY

7) Thank you, Zillow...

...for making my client believe her $350k house is worth $575k.

via GIPHY

Posted in Funny Stuff
Dec. 1, 2018

Mortgage Rates Expected To Increase. If You Want To Buy, Now Is The Time

When you're buying a home, you might think the price you offer is ultimately the price you'll pay, but if you're buying a home with a mortgage, that's not the case. With a mortgage, in addition to paying your principal (the amount of money the bank loans you to purchase your home), you'll also pay interest on that principal—which is why the interest rate on your loan is so important. Interest rates on mortgages have been low in recent years, but they're steadily rising. And even a minor increase in an interest rate can cost you big over the course of your mortgage. According to a recent article from Realtor.com, thanks to forecasted hikes to the Federal Reserve Key Interest Rate (which directly impacts interest rates on mortgages), mortgage interest rates are expected to continue increasing for the foreseeable future. As the article demonstrates, even a small increase in your mortgage interest rate can spell major changes in your monthly payment. For example, if interest rates for a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage increase by one percentage point from the current rate of 4.65%, you'll pay a whopping $53,000 more over the course of your loan than you would pay if you purchased today.

The Takeaway

If you've been thinking about purchasing a home, do yourself a favor and make a move now before interest rates go any higher—and save yourself a ton of cash in the process.

Posted in Advice
Nov. 29, 2018

Want To Increase Your Home’s Value? Add Central A/C

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.

Posted in Advice
Nov. 27, 2018

Millennials Cite Student Loan Debt As Top Reason For Delaying Homeownership

Student loan debt is an issue facing many Americans. But as higher education costs have continued to rise in recent years, the impact on the millennial generation has been particularly challenging—and it's a major reason millennials are putting off homeownership. According to the Student Loan Debt and Housing Report from the National Association of Realtors, a whopping 83% of millennials cite student loan debt as the main reason for delaying purchasing a home—namely by preventing them from saving for a down payment. But not having a substantial down payment saved doesn't mean you can't purchase a home. According to the National Association of Realtors' Realtors® Confidence Index, 72% of first-time buyers put down less than 20% for their down payment. And there are flexible loan options, like FHA loans, that require little to no down payment.

The Takeaway

If you're a millennial who's been letting student loan debt hold you back from pursuing homeownership, it may be time to take another look at your finances. You may be able to purchase a home with a much lower down payment than you'd been aiming for—making homeownership and paying off your student loans a realistic possibility.

Posted in Market Updates