Bidding Wars Heat Up in Unassuming Towns

You’d expect bidding wars in major cities such as San Francisco, Boston, and New York—but Akron, Ohio? The Midwestern town has seen the biggest spike in multiple-offer situations on listings in the nation, according to realtor.com®. And as housing demand picks up in the spring, ushering in the typically busy selling season across the nation, other unassuming metros are becoming hotbeds for buyer competition. “Multiple-offer scenarios are no longer reserved for the usual big, fast-moving markets,” says Javier Vivas, director of economic research at realtor.com®. “Demand for homes has spilled outward into secondary, smaller markets, and more buyers are gearing up to face fierce competition in more places around the country.”

Realtor.com® pinpointed the cities that have seen the most acute spikes in bidding wars by looking at the percentage of homes that have sold above their asking prices. The site evaluated listing and sales data from March 2015 to February 2016 and then compared it to data from March 2017 to February 2018. The following seven locales saw the biggest upticks in the percentages of homes selling above asking price:

1. Akron, Ohio

  • Share of homes selling above ask: 20.6 percent
  • Increase in the share of homes selling above ask: 91.7 percent

2. Worcester, Mass. 

  • Share of homes selling above ask: 41.5 percent
  • Increase in the share of homes selling above ask: 88.1 percent

3. Lexington, Ky.

  • Share of homes selling above ask: 22.7 percent
  • Increase in the share of homes selling above ask: 86.4 percent

4. Irvine, Calif.

  • Share of homes selling above ask: 30.3 percent
  • Increase in the share of homes selling above ask: 85.5 percent

5. Greensboro, N.C.

  • Share of homes selling above ask: 29 percent
  • Increase in the share of homes selling above ask: 81 percent

6. Sioux Falls, S.D.

  • Share of homes selling above ask: 32.8 percent
  • Increase in the share of homes selling above ask: 74.2 percent

7. Madison, Wis.

  • Share of homes selling above ask: 40.9 percent
  • Increase in the share of homes selling above ask: 73.4 percent

Source: Housing Knife Fights! 10 Surprising Cities Where Bidding Wars Are Booming,” realtor.com®

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6 Ways Home Buyers Mess Up Getting a Mortgage

Getting a mortgage is, by general consensus, the most treacherous part of buying a home. In a recent survey, 42% of home buyers said they found the mortgage experience “stressful,” and 32% found it “complicated.” Even lenders agree that it’s often a struggle.

“A lot can go wrong,” says Staci Titsworth, regional manager at PNC Mortgage in Pittsburgh.

If you’re out to buy a home, you have to be vigilant. To clue you into the pitfalls, here are six of the most common ways people mess up getting a mortgage.

Black Accents Make Comeback in Home Design

Black is making a comeback in home design, with black fixtures, appliances, and furniture emerging as hot trends for the new year. Ryan Brown of Brown Design Group in Southern California predicts that black fixtures will replace brass as the most trendy home hardware in 2018. “They look great in modern applications, as well as transitional homes,” he told realtor.com®. “And the best part is no water spots to clean off.”

Matted black furniture also will gain popularity in 2018, says Amy Chernoff, vice president of marketing for AJ Madison, an appliance and fixture retailer. Black goes with anything, and in matte finishes, it’s easier to clean than lighter, polished metals. Also, Chernoff predicts that black stainless appliances—an alternative to the shiny finish of stainless steel—likely will become trendier in the new year. “The smudge-resistant, minimal and sleek look was in line with 2017 kitchen trends,” Chernoff told Kitchen & Bath Design News.

Source: REALTOR Magazine

The Front Porch Is in Demand

The front porch—a classic feature of American homes—is making a comeback but with a twist.

Younger crowds are literally turning porches into stages. “Porchfest” is growing in popularity across the country, in which neighborhood music festivals pop up that are enjoyed from homeowners’ front porches.

The Atlantic Monthly’s CityLab reports: “In the Instagram age, the front steps have become places to see and be seen, throw a rocking concert or party, and to foster metropolitan community in a walk-by, stop-in-for-wine sense.”

Read more on REALTORmag…

Moving with pets? How to ease their anxiety on moving day

Moving comes with many emotions for both you and your pets – from the excitement of a new city, new house, or both, to sadness for leaving a place you’ve called home. Moving is emotional for many reasons, and your pets pick up on how you feel. Here are some tips to keep your pets comfortable and confident during the moving process, and ultimately make it easier for you, your pets and your family.

Don’t Forget to Breathe

It’s important to take care of yourself during your move. Pets pick up on their family’s energy and can sense if you’re upset, frustrated or anxious. If you feel yourself getting overwhelmed, make sure to take a breath and relax, because your pets will do the same!

Safety First!

The worst thing that can happen during a move is realizing that your pet has slipped out unnoticed in all the commotion. With you and helpers coming in and out of the house, and all of the noise associated with moving, pets can easily become distressed.

To allow yourself to concentrate on moving and to keep your pet safe and secure, perhaps the best option is to have a family member or friend take your pet to their house during move-out day. If there isn’t someone close by that can pet sit for the day, consider doggie daycares and boarding facilities.

If neither of those options will work for you, consider giving your pets their own space in the house, and closing the door with a “Do Not Enter” sign, especially if you have movers helping you. If you can’t designate a room, consider a crate to keep your pets safely out of the way and unable to escape when you aren’t looking.

A Busy Pet is a Happy Pet

Do your best to keep your pets busy and help them forget all of the hubbub going on around them. Consider turning on a TV or radio, giving them toys to play with, or propping them up near windows to look outside.

Keep Up Their Routine

Pets thrive when routines are maintained, so it’s important to keep feeding and walking times the same during your move. This gives some normalcy to an otherwise anything-but-normal situation. Signaling to your pets that what they have come to count on won’t change is a great way to keep them feeling confident and comfortable.

4 Tips to Help Kids Adjust to a new School After a Move

At any age, a move can be stressful. But for school-age kids, a major move means changing schools, adjusting to new curriculum and finding new friends. Here are a few things you can do to help ease the transition and encourage kids during a school transfer.

Acknowledge their anxiety.

The first day of school is always knee-knocking and nerve-racking. The first day at a new school can be even scarier for kids. Let them know that their feelings are completely natural and understandable. Affirm their feelings, and then offer advice or personal anecdotes about times you have been nervous about a situation that turned-out O.K.

Take a trial run.

If the new school doesn’t host an official orientation for new students, try to request a tour for you and your child. Younger kids can be comforted by seeing their classroom and playground, and learning the location of the bathroom and the bus port. Older kids may like to walk their first day’s schedule: from the bus, to the locker, to their different classrooms.

Meet the neighbors

Meeting your neighbors and parents at your new school can be a great help for your kids. You can hear first-hand how families have navigated the school district, and even arrange play dates or meet-ups between your kids and other students. Start making connections as a classroom volunteer, or mingling at the bus stop to chat to other parents.

Pack a special lunch.

If your kids bring lunch, make it a special one filled with their favorite snacks and an encouraging note from you.

Thinking about moving to a neighborhood with a better school district? I’ll be happy to help; contact me today!

4 Potential Surprises When Buying a Home

No. 1: Low inventory means you have to act fast …

In many cities around the U.S., inventories are tight, meaning there are too few homes on the market for potential homebuyers. Homes in good condition that are priced appropriately sell fast. The competitive market means buyers may find a home and make a serious offer in just a few days (sometimes 24 hours!). In extremely low inventory markets like Denver, Seattle and San Francisco, buyers may end up in bidding wars, paying more than the home’s asking price.

Professional real estate agents understand the unique trends in your market and can help buyers zero in on the right house and act quickly.

No. 2: … But closing takes longer than you think

According to Realtor.com, the average home sale takes approximately 50 days from the moment your offer is accepted to the time you move in, but this is contingent on a variety of things. As the days tick by during this comprehensive process of inspections and appraisals, you may find yourself impatient to move in and add Pinterest-worthy decor.

The good news? Advanced technology has helped streamline the exchange of a vast amount of paperwork. And, an experienced real estate agent will be able to set expectations and keep you informed every step of the way.

While you anxiously await the keys to your new place, you can occupy yourself by preparing your things for the move and planning an epic housewarming party.

No. 3: Home inspections leave nothing uncovered

For the benefit and protection of a new buyer, most home inspectors conduct a very thorough inspection of your new home, leaving a detailed and often intimidating list of recommended repairs and improvements. Remember, not every item on the list may need to be repaired for the home to be safe or for you to take possession. Yet again, your real estate agent will be able to walk you through this lengthy report, advising you on what you can and should ask the sellers to consider fixing.

No. 4: Closing costs may leave you asking: “I owe WHAT?”

Just when you think you know the bottom line, some additional closing costs can sneak up on you. Things like loan origination fees, prepaid property taxes, title insurance and more can add up at the end of the process. In fact, on average, closing costs can range from 2% to 5% of your home’s purchase price.

Now that you know, you can ask your agent for more details and factor this in when you prepare to buy. If you or someone you know is considering a purchase or sale, I’ll be happy to help; contact me today!