Prepare for a Real Estate Rush This Spring

By Susanne Dwyer

Homebuyers this spring will meet out-of-this-world prices and unsparing competition—a real estate rush.

According to Clear Capital’s recently released Home Data Index (HDI) Market Report, the national median days on market is 43 days, down from an 85-day stretch seen in January 2012. Days on market in Denver, Colo., Lincoln, Neb., and Raleigh, N.C., are coming in under two weeks, while days on market in Fresno, San Francisco and San Jose, Calif., and Portland, Ore., and Seattle, Wash., are finishing in under three weeks.

“Along with an increase in temperatures, the spring season also brings out the buyers and an increase in demand to the housing market, which most often translates to faster price growth and a decrease in marketing times,” says Alex Villacorta, vice president of Research and Analytics at Clear Capital. “But what’s great news for homeowners—particularly those looking to get out of negative equity or sell outright—is unfortunately bad news for prospective buyers. This springtime uptick in demand is likely to put buyers in a major time pinch in areas where marketing time is already lightning fast.”

Home price growth in the first quarter of 2017 was 0.9 percent, according to the report, with quarterly growth across regions between 0.8 percent and 1 percent. Prices grew 1.8 percent quarterly in San Antonio, Texas, making it the fastest growing metropolitan market, while quarterly prices in San Jose, Calif., remained at a standstill, posting no growth.

“This situation, coupled with the already precarious affordability situation for buyers, can lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts for the market as a whole, one where buyers rush to purchase homes at or above asking price in fear of waiting too long and losing out—pushing prices up and pulling marketing times even lower,” Villacorta says. “Buyers will need to remain vigilant this spring and constantly keep their eyes peeled for new supply entering the market, and, most importantly, be wary of rushing to purchase at sky-high prices.”

Source: Clear Capital

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From: Consumer News and Advice

    

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Bookworms: Here’s Where to Move If You Like to Read

By Susanne Dwyer

Editor’s Note: This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin’ now at blog.rismedia.com:

It’s a truth universally acknowledged that bibliophiles are big on bookstores and libraries. If you identify with this group and feel your current city is failing you in the reading department, here are some pointers as to where you might want to flee.

If you don’t have enough places to buy books, then what kind of life are you even leading? According to Publishers Weekly, these are the states with the most bookstores per capita (which will surprise you):

  1. Montana
  2. Wyoming
  3. Vermont
  4. Alabama
  5. Tennessee
  6. Nebraska
  7. Arkansas
  8. Colorado
  9. Kansas
  10. Missouri
  11. Alaska
  12. Iowa
  13. Minnesota
  14. Washington, D.C.
  15. South Carolina
  16. Mississippi
  17. West Virginia
  18. Georgia
  19. Indiana
  20. North Carolina

While you would expect places like New York and Massachusetts to come up, they don’t because there’t just too many people for the amount of bookstores.

In addition, Amazon* ranks the top 20 well-read cities around the States every year. These were the chart-toppers for 2016:

  1. Seattle, Wash.
  2. Portland, Ore.
  3. Washington, D.C.
  4. San Francisco, Calif.
  5. Austin, Texas
  6. Las Vegas, Nev.
  7. Tucson, Ariz.
  8. Denver, Colo.
  9. Albuquerque, N.M.
  10. San Diego, Calif.
  11. Baltimore, Md.
  12. Charlotte, N.C.
  13. Louisville, Ky.
  14. San Jose, Calif.
  15. Houston, Texas
  16. Nashville, Tenn.
  17. Chicago, Ill.
  18. Indianapolis, Ind.
  19. Dallas, Texas
  20. San Antonio, Texas

*Do keep in mind that Amazon gets its numbers from the amount of Kindle and Amazon purchases, but they do also include magazines and newspapers in the lot.

And last, but not least, you may want to consider a move (or a visit) to the homes of the nation’s prettiest libraries:

New York, N.Y. – New York Public Library/Morgan Library & Museum

Boston, Mass. – Boston Public Library

Washington D.C. – Library of Congress

New Haven, Conn. – Yale’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library/Sterling Library

Ridgefield, Conn. – Jay Walker’s Private Library

Salt Lake City, Utah – Salt Lake City Public Library

Baltimore, Md. – George Peabody Library

Exeter, N.H. – Phillips Exeter Academy Library

Being surrounded by other bibliophiles is like setting yourself up for positive peer pressure!

Gabrielle van Welie is RISMedia’s editorial intern. Email her your real estate news ideas at gvanwelie@rismedia.com.

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From: Consumer News and Advice

    

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How to Prepare Yourself for Becoming a Landlord

By Susanne Dwyer

Editor’s Note: This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin’ now at blog.rismedia.com:

If you own some property that you are not actively living in, you might be thinking about renting the property out and becoming a landlord. Renting usable property is a great way to make some extra money, but if not done carefully, it can turn into a disaster. Here is a list of some of the most important things to learn before taking the plunge.

Study Local Laws
Since shelter is a basic human need, a large body of legal rules and regulations apply to the process. Rental laws vary a great deal from state to state, so you’ll need to find a good resource for researching these laws, unless you are already a lawyer yourself. While looking around online is a good start, you’ll probably also need to consult a legal professional, or at least some books on the subject. Your local library is an excellent resource to find any of the information without spending an arm and a leg.

Set Up Your Maintenance Team
As the rental owner, for the most part, you will be legally liable for keeping up the property in terms of basic maintenance. Between electrical, gas, water, HVAC, and other systems, a home is a bundle of potential maintenance issues waiting to explode in your face. Hiring good people to keep everything working properly is important to staying ahead of the curve, especially if you are renting out multiple properties; the more locations you are leasing, the more maintenance hours you will log. Of course, sometimes the problems will go beyond what a maintenance team can cover. For those cases, you’ll want a working relationship with a good local contractor.

Get the Proper Insurance
However many steps you go through in your tenant screening process, the fact remains that problems can and will occur. Whether from unruly and careless tenants, freak accidents that cause serious damage, or simply from regular wear and tear, your property is at risk when you rent it out. You can protect your investment by making sure you are covered by the best home insurance possible, so you can recover against any losses. Protect your home further with a home warranty that can keep your pricey appliances covered in case of expensive damages.

Set Up Your Lease Properly
With all the knowledge you’ve acquired in the previous steps, you should be well prepared to put together a strong lease at this point. This document is hugely important to beginning your time as a landlord right, since it outlines the rights and responsibilities of both you and your tenant. As such, it protects both people in the relationship from problems, intentional and otherwise. You’ll definitely want to get a lawyer involved in at least one draft of the document, and ask him or her how to make sure you aren’t put in a dubious legal position.

Whether you are renting out a single property or operating multiple rental properties, the basic requirements for success are fundamentally the same. With a little work, you can turn that property into money in your pocket.

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From: Consumer News and Advice

    

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10 Tips for Homebuyers and Sellers This Spring

By Susanne Dwyer

Spring is here, and so is spring home-buying and -selling. Buyers and sellers preparing to take action this season should put those plans into play now—according to Zillow Group’s Report on Consumer Housing Trends, the No. 1 regret for both buyers and sellers is “not starting their home search or prepping their home to sell soon enough.”

“This spring, both buyers and sellers should be prepared for fast-moving sales, intense negotiations, and even bidding wars,” says Jeremy Wacksman, CMO at Zillow Group. “Home shoppers and sellers are motivated to become more strategic and knowledgeable about what’s happening in their neighborhood. Understanding whether you are in a buyer’s or a seller’s environment will help you manage your expectations and will give you insight into what you’re going to need to bring to the table in order to close the deal.”

For buyers, that means:

Keep your options open. More than half (52 percent) of homebuyers surveyed in the report said they also considered renting, and more than one-third (37 percent) of first-time buyers seriously considered continuing to rent. Savvy shoppers should have a Plan B in place, hoping to buy if it works out, but willing to sign a lease for a home if they don’t make a deal by the time they need to move.

Be realistic with your budget. Once you set it, stick to it. First-time home buyers are more likely to exceed their budget than repeat buyers (39 percent versus 26 percent), according to the report. Before you meet with a lender to determine how much mortgage you’ll be approved for, take a good look at your individual finances and spending preferences to determine the monthly payment range that you feel you can comfortably afford. (Use Zillow’s mortgage calculator to help with you with the math.)

Get your financing squared away early. Plan to meet a few lenders four to six months ahead of when you’re planning to buy to ensure you can make a competitive offer quickly when you find your dream home. The majority (82 percent) of buyers get pre-approved, with 77 percent getting pre-approval from a lender before finding a home on which they are interested in placing an offer.

Find an agent with a winning track record. Take the time to find an agent who has expertise in fast negotiation, leveraging escalation clauses, and winning bidding wars. Only 46 percent of buyers got the first home on which they made an offer, according to the report, demonstrating that competition is now part of the process. Use search tools, like Zillow’s Agent Finder, to choose an agent based on sales and listing activity, area of expertise and reputation.

Communication is key. Make sure your preferred method—and frequency—of communication matches that of your agent. One-third (33 percent) of all buyers surveyed in the report preferred phone calls with their agent over emailing (21 percent) or texting (15 percent). Buyers can use the agent reviews on Zillow to learn more about prospective agents and their clients’ experiences.

And for sellers:

Start early and be strategic. Sellers consider putting their home on the market for five months before they list it—but the top seller regret is that they wished they spent more time prepping for the sale. Many cities have a magic window in the spring when homes have a higher likelihood of selling quickly for more money.

Work with an agent from the start. The vast majority (90 percent) of sellers surveyed in the report who sold quickly and for more than list price worked with an agent, and two out of three (58 percent) began working with an agent at the very beginning of their selling journey.

Pay attention to your online curb appeal. The majority of buyers begin their search online. Sellers who sold their home for more than list price made imagery and home information available online: 48 percent had professional photos taken of the home; 30 percent shot video footage; and 21 percent shot drone footage. Zillow’s video walk-throughs give sellers an easy way to show home features that are hard to capture in photos.

Home improvements can be a worthwhile investment. Sellers who fetched above list price tackled home improvements before listing their home, being 50 percent more likely to take on a large project like modifying an existing home plan and 20 percent more likely to renovate a kitchen than the average seller.

Don’t be afraid to try again. In many markets, nearly half of listing views occur in the first week the home is on the market. Twenty-six percent of those who sold above list price took their home off the market once to adjust the sales price, opting to start anew, rather than letting the home languish on the market with minimal activity.

For more information, please visit www.zillow.com.

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From: Consumer News and Advice

    

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Garden Conservancy tour takes you into four private gardens

By Diane Cowen

If you need garden or landscaping ideas, or just an afternoon passing through some pretty gardens, try the Garden Conservancy’s Open Days Tour in Houston on March 25. Not only will you soak up some nature, you’ll be donating to a good cause: Peckerwood Garden. And Peckerwood’s annual sale of unusual plants will be held at the Habitat House in Spring Branch.

From: Gardening

    

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How to Find a Home That Will Increase Your Quality of Life

By Susanne Dwyer

Editor’s Note: This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin’ now at blog.rismedia.com:

Buying a home is a big step, whether it’s your first home or a retirement home. The location and size of your home can have an impact on your quality of life. There are several steps you can take to find a home the home that’s best for you.

Assess Your Situation
Lists are an excellent assessment tool. Before you begin your house hunt, list the features that you desire. This list should include the logical aspects such as proximity to your job and the quality of schools in the area if that applies to your situation. Go ahead and list your desires. While you may not find a house that meets everything on your wish list, you should be able to find one that checks off the high priority items.

Location Is a Priority
It’s imperative that you concentrate your home search to a location that you can consider ideal. You can make changes to the interior and exterior of a house but the location is something you can’t change. It’s often a good idea to seek assistance from real estate professionals when evaluating how specific locations complement your lifestyle. Experts in the field can guide you to areas that are compatible with your budget, and your immediate and possibly future needs.

What Do You Enjoy
Buying a home that supports your personality can increase your quality of life. If you’re a social person, a condo in the city with amenities such as a pool, tennis court, or exercise room might be a good option. If you don’t like city noise and close neighbors, you should concentrate your home search to rural settings. If you’re looking for a home to meet your downsizing goal, you may want to concentrate your search to areas that support healthy aging. These areas could be conducive to outside walks, social events within the community and interior features that increase safety within the home.

Size Matters
The larger the home, the more upkeep and cleaning time it requires. Typically, larger homes are more expensive to maintain. Buying a home that fits your budget comfortably will leave money in the budget for pleasurable activities that enhance your life.

Your home is your personal retreat. It should support your lifestyle and be compatible with your personality. It’s an investment that can improve your quality of life.

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From: Remax Real Estate Advice

    

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In These Markets, You’ll Earn Enough to Cover Rent—and Then Some

By Susanne Dwyer

Reasonable rent and a solid-paying job? Dream on…right?

According to a recent analysis by LinkedIn and Zillow, there are dream markets for renters—if their field of choice is finance, healthcare or technology.

The analysis identified markets where renters earn in excess of the necessary income to support costs of living, taking into account indicators such as “labor market velocity,” “job listings,” “salaries,” and “rental housing costs.”

By sector, renters have the most left over in:

Finance

  1. Charlotte, N.C.
    Disposable Income: $3,793 (51.2 percent)
  1. Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas
    Disposable Income: $3,597 (53.4 percent)
  1. Phoenix, Ariz.
    Disposable Income: $3,249 (50.6 percent)
  1. Boston, Mass.
    Disposable Income: $3,198 (41.7 percent)
  1. Chicago, Ill.
    Disposable Income: $3,453 (48.8 percent)

Healthcare

  1. Phoenix, Ariz.
    Disposable Income: $3,793 (52. 1 percent)
  1. Indianapolis, Ind.
    Disposable Income: $3,111 (53.7 percent)
  1. Boston, Mass.
    Disposable Income: $2,861 (40.1 percent)
  1. Denver, Colo.
    Disposable Income: $2,580 (40.5 percent)
  1. Austin, Texas
    Disposable Income: $2,846 (48.7 percent)

Technology

  1. Seattle, Wash.
    Disposable Income: $5,493 (54.3 percent)
  1. Austin, Texas
    Disposable Income: $4,336 (53.8 percent)
  1. Pittsburgh, Pa.
    Disposable Income: $3,681 (56.4 percent)
  1. San Francisco Bay, Calif.
    Disposable Income: $3,964 (35.6 percent)
  1. Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas
    Disposable Income: $4,121 (54.9 percent)

Four markets—Austin, Boston, Dallas/Fort Worth and Phoenix—rank in the top five in all three sectors. Austin makes a showing in both healthcare and technology, but ranks higher for healthcare, while Boston boasts for healthcare and finance, but also ranks higher for healthcare. Dallas/Fort Worth has opportunities in finance and technology, ranking higher for finance, and Phoenix’s prospects are in finance and healthcare, ranking higher for healthcare.

“High demand and inventory shortages have driven up housing prices in some markets so much that even if you land a great job, the salary might not cover living within commuting distance,” says Dr. Svenja Gudell, chief economist at Zillow. “On the other hand, the nation’s most affordable housing markets don’t always offer plentiful employment opportunities. Housing is the biggest line item in most people’s budgets, so we did the math for you and found ‘sweet spots’—places with great job markets and housing markets that will leave you with some cash at the end of the month.”

For more information, please visit www.zillow.com.

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From: Consumer News and Advice

    

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Size Matters: Most Americans Dissatisfied with Home’s Square Footage

By Susanne Dwyer

HomeSize_Trulia_Chart_1

Editor’s Note: This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin’ now at blog.rismedia.com:

When it comes to a home’s square footage, Americans seem to have a Goldilocks mindset: too big, too small, jussstttt right. At least, this is the consensus from a recent Trulia/Harris Poll study. The study, which surveyed over 2,000 American homeowners, found that most folks want a different sized home than the one they’re in now; however, they don’t necessarily want to go bigger. Today’s average new home size is over 2,700 square feet, 57 percent larger than homes built about 40 years ago. It’s undeniable that homes are getting larger. But interestingly enough, just because the average home size is getting larger doesn’t mean everyone is looking for more square footage. In fact, 60.6 percent of those questioned were looking to downsize. It seems more space doesn’t necessarily mean more comfort.

Below are some key findings from the survey:

  • As expected, age matters when it comes to size. Only 26 percent of baby boomers surveyed would upsize their homes, whereas 46 percent of millennials would like to add more square footage.
  • Only 32 percent of those surveyed would choose a home the same size as the one they’re currently living in if they decided to move within a year.
  • Out of survey respondents currently living in homes larger than 2,000 square feet, only 39.4 percent would choose a larger home, compared to 60.6 percent looking to downsize.
  • One interesting takeaway from the study is based on income. It seems the more affluent hope to minimize their square footage, whereas those with smaller incomes want to score more space. Seem backwards? It isn’t. Fifty-three percent of those making more than $150,000 a year hope to downsize, whereas 65 percent of those making under $150,000 say that would snag a bigger spot if given the chance.

HomeSize_Trulia_Chart_2

HomeSize_Trulia_Chart_4

HomeSize_Trulia_Chart_5

For more data from the survey, click here.

Zoe Eisenberg is RISMedia’s senior content editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at zoe@rismedia.com.

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From: Consumer News and Advice

    

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Nancy Wey
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Real Estate Investing: How to Make Money in the Current Housing Market

By Susanne Dwyer

Editor’s Note: This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin’ now at blog.rismedia.com:

Forecasters say that mortgage rates above 4 percent are here to stay. With that in mind, it’s important to realize what high mortgage rates mean and how they affect your current and future real estate investments.

As a seasoned real estate investor and house flipper, I’ve seen a lot of changes come and go in the housing market. I’ve come to realize that even the toughest and hottest housing market can still leave investors reaping the rewards.

Right now, prices for houses are higher due to the extremely low supply of homes. Very few homes are being built, especially in the low end-range. While it may seem like it’s slim pickings in terms of real estate investing, there are still good deals available; it just takes time and savvy investing smarts to find them.

Even though there are fewer listings in today’s market, rising prices present opportunities for people to sell homes that need work. While there are opportunities in both buyers’ and sellers’ markets, my advice when it comes to real estate investing is to always leave yourself plenty of room for unknown costs or changes in the market. That way, you can flip in good, bad or even mediocre markets. The trick is never assuming prices will increase and accounting for all costs. Investors get in the biggest trouble when markets change and they bought based on estimated future appreciation.

Real estate agents have also felt the effects of the current housing market. Along with the market changes and higher rates, real estate agents are competing in a smaller pool of homes. There are many buyers and prices are rising. Normally this makes a good seller’s market, which is good for agents, but this market is different because there are so few homes for sale. (Agents love a seller’s market, but not when there are no homes to sell!) They are suffering under fewer sales and less money, causing many to drop out of the business altogether. The bright spot for investors is that agents still in the game have much more time on their hands and investors may be able to find hungry agents who have both the time and the drive to find them deals.

As far as worrying about the current political climate, I don’t think the market will change much based on new policies. If anything, lending guidelines will get looser, making it easier to get loans. Prices are higher, but if you invest wisely based on ratios and profit margins, you can make money with low or high prices. It can be tougher to get cash flow on rentals in a hot market, but there are many markets in the U.S. that are still great for rental property investing. I think supply and demand are the biggest factors when looking at housing prices, and supply is not going to increase for single-family homes any time soon, so bear that in mind.

While rising mortgage interest rates can hurt buyer demand and buying power, you can still make money in real estate no matter what the market is like. It takes a huge jump in rates to significantly affect buying power.

Furthermore, I don’t think rates will cause a housing crash, either. The last crash happened because of inflated demand caused by loose lending guidelines. The builders over-built, and it all started to crumble when everyone realized how many people who should have never gotten a loan in the first place got one they really couldn’t afford. This time around, the people who are getting loans have much stronger financial capabilities and stability. There is also not the over-building that caused issues we saw in the past. So, even if there is a crash, many investors will do just fine. In fact, the last crash created more tenants and increased rents in some areas, while prices decreased. The trick is creating equity by purchasing below market, buying with cash flow, and not over-leveraging.

Regardless of the current interest rates, people will always buy and sell homes, which means there will always be opportunity to make money flipping or as a landlord.

Mark Ferguson is a real estate agent, real estate investor, author and the creator of Investfourmore.com.

This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as professional advice. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of RISMedia.

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From: Home Spun Wisdom

    

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Surprise! The 10 Best Cities to Sell a House

By Susanne Dwyer

sell_a_house_2_map

Editor’s Note: This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin’ at blog.rismedia.com:

Whether it’s your first house or your fourth, you’ve likely heard the phrase “location, location, location.” A recent Smart Asset study procured information on the very best city to sell a home based on five factors. They looked at the change in median home value, the percent of homes in the area sold at a loss, the average number days a home sits on the market, the closing costs and the number of real estate offices per 1,000 residents. The results were a bit surprising.

Colorado and Texas Slay
These two states seem to be the best places to sell, snatching up nine out of the 10 top city spots on the list.

No-No Northeast
Out of the top 15 cities ranked, only one Northeastern city made the cut. The winning city? Boston.

Big Wins for Denver
The Mile High City not only has an impressive growth in median home values, but Denver homes stay on the market for an average of just 27 days.

See the full rundown below and visit SmartAsset.com for more findings.

Zoe Eisenberg is RISMedia’s senior content editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at zoe@rismedia.com.

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From: Consumer News and Advice

    

Remember I am just a phone call away to help with all of your real estate needs!

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