Agents Report Sharp Declines in Bidding Wars

There will likely be less competition for home buyers this spring—a widely reported index from Redfin shows a significant decrease among real estate professionals reporting bidding wars in March, compared to a year ago. Only 16 percent of offers written by Redfin agents on behalf of their customers in the first three weeks of March faced a bidding war, down from 61 percent a year ago, according to the brokerage’s index.

San Francisco, Boston, San Diego, and Portland, Ore., are the most competitive housing markets this month, according to the report. However, even in these markets, only one in five buyers faced bidding wars; a year ago, real estate agents in these markets reported that 65 percent of their buyers’ offers faced multiple bids.

Read the full article on REALTOR® Magazine…

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How Will the Housing Market Fare This Spring?

Real estate pros often anxiously await for the spring selling season, a time known for an uptick in home sales. But will spring be as hot for the housing market this year as it has been in the past?

Since the end of last year, home sales have slowed (a decline of 10 percent in December compared to a year prior), and properties have been sitting on the market for longer (46 days compared to 30 days a year ago).

Nevertheless, Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the National Association of REALTORS®, says that “multiple data show definitively improving conditions” heading into the spring selling and buying season.

Consumer sentiment about home buying is turning more upbeat, and there have been greater reports of foot traffic at open houses, according to recent NAR surveys. The number of openings of lock boxes—which real estate pros use to access a key prior to unlocking a home for a showing—is “measurably higher” in January and February compared to the second half of 2018, according to NAR SentriLock data.

Further, the number of consumers applying for a mortgage to purchase a home is on the rise. “After the weak conditions of late last year, mortgage applications have picked up notably in 2019 with more consumers evidently searching for a home compared to one year ago,” Yun writes in his latest real estate column at Forbes.com. Also, contract signings to purchase a home rose 4.6 percent in January—another healthy sign about the market Yun points to.

With mortgage rates staying low, Yun expects more home buyers and sellers this spring. So far this year, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage has fallen to under a 4.5 percent average. That means a typical home buyer could save nearly $100 per month due to the drop. In addition, wages are up 3.4 percent year-over-year on average, the hightest rate in a decade, .

“The slump is over” in the housing market, Yun notes. “Better times are ahead for home buyers.”

Source: REALTOR® Magazine

A Successful Move Is All in the Details

Nearly 35.5 million Americans move each year, according to data from Move.org. With so much to think about, from organizing and packing to lifting and moving heavy boxes, it’s easy to forget the little things that can make life a little easier during a move. Here are some small details that may get overlooked – tips to make any move smoother and stress free.

Unplug Carefully
Don’t just pull the plug on expensive electronics and toss them in a box – a little planning will help you protect expensive gadgets, like TVs, laptops and stereo systems. Think before dismounting that big, flat-screen TV by yourself. Follow this guide to make sure nothing is damaged. Place all user manuals in a folder so they don’t get lost in the shuffle, but don’t panic if you’ve misplaced them because you can usually find manuals on manufacturers’ websites. Consider a professional mover for your more delicate electronics. Atlas Van Lines suggests using a qualified professional to uninstall any wall-mounted AV equipment and to call in advance to schedule an appointment so you’re not scrambling at the last minute.

Food for Thought
Don’t forget about dinner – you still need to eat during a move. Packing up the kitchen is usually the last, most challenging part of the moving process, but if you make plans you won’t go hungry.

  • Donate: Think about donating canned or unopened food to your local food bank. This leaves one less thing to pack and supports your community.
  • Meal Plan: Use the foods still left in your fridge and freezer for meal planning. Take inventory of the foods you have available leading up to the big day. Home Cooking Memories has some tasty ideas.
  • Label and Organize: Don’t pack up those cooking utensils just yet. Label your moving boxes to easily access the kitchen gadgets you still need to whip up a quick dinner. Consider the packing order of appliances you won’t need, like the blender, and place everyday items, like spatulas, on top for easy access.

The Essentials
You’ve unloaded the last box and you’re ready to shower, eat and relax – only to remember that your toiletries are buried in a dozen boxes, spread across the house. Avoid this all-too-common mistake by packing one or two “essentials boxes” that contain extra clothing, towels, toiletries, medications, bedding and phone chargers that will last up to three or four days.

Know Your Limits
It may be tempting to save money by doing the moving yourself, but don’t get in over your head. Know your limits, suggests OZ Moving and Storage, “If you’re not sure if you can accomplish some part of your move without professional help, don’t try. We were called up once by a trio of college students who had gotten their couch stuck in a staircase. Getting in over your head and having to call emergency help is not ideal.” Get quotes from a few moving companies to determine what needs to be moved or packed by a professional.

A successful move is all in the details – but, with a plan in place you won’t forget the small stuff!

Spring Is in the Air: More Homes Going Up for Sale

The housing market is changing quite a bit from a year ago. The number of homes up for sale is growing, reversing an inventory shortage trend that has plagued many markets over the last few years. The higher inventories are also driving greater price cuts, according to realtor.com®’s February housing report.

About 73,000 more listings are for sale this year compared to last year. Inventories have increased 6 percent year over year, according to realtor.com®’s analysis. The largest jumps in For Sale signs are out West, led by San Jose, Calif. (up 125 percent year over year); Seattle (up 85 percent); San Francisco (up 53 percent); San Diego (up 39 percent); and Portland, Ore. (up 36 percent).

“This is the fifth consecutive month that we’ve seen housing inventory increase, especially in large markets,” says Danielle Hale, realtor.com®’s chief economist. “As is often the case in real estate, the important trends are going on at the local level. We see large markets continue to cool, but some markets still have some strength. Additionally, we still see fewer homes priced under $200,000 on the market, so entry-level buyers won’t see the same availability of options as high-end buyers.”

The median list price rose 7 percent year over year in February to $294,800. But prices are showing signs of cooling. Thirty-nine of the 50 largest housing markets saw an increase in price cuts in February. The largest percentage of price cuts were in Las Vegas (up 19 percent); San Jose (up 9 percent); Phoenix (up 7 percent); San Francisco (up 5 percent); and Dallas (up 4 percent).

 

The High-Priority Home Features for Buyers

Laundry rooms and Energy Star–compliant windows topped the list of what buyers considered the most “essential” or “desirable” features in a home, according to the National Association of Home Builders’ 2019 “What Home Buyers Really Want” report, released at the NAHB International Builders’ Show in Las Vegas this week. Most of the features that new homeowners or aspiring buyers ranked highest related to helping them save in utility costs, add extra storage, and spruce up the outside, said Rose Quint, the NAHB’s assistant vice president of survey research.

The NAHB surveyed nearly 4,000 consumers who either purchased a home within the last three years or plan to buy a home in the next three years to identify their top desires in a home. Consumers were asked to rank 175 home features based on how essential they were to their home purchase decisions.

Consumers ranked the following home features highest:

  1. Laundry room: 91%
  2. Energy Star windows: 89%
  3. Patio: 87%
  4. Energy Star appliance: 86%
  5. Ceiling fan: 85%
  6. Garage storage: 85%
  7. Exterior lighting: 85%
  8. Walk-in pantry: 83%
  9. Hardwood flooring: 83%
  10. Double kitchen sink: 81%
  11. Energy Star–whole home: 81%

Read the full article here…

3 Strategies for the Move-Up Buyer

Moving up to your “forever home” is exciting. When you bought your first place, chances are you were young, strapped for cash and prepared – if not warned – to make some concessions. The move-up buyer typically has some savings and home equity to work with, making this next move feel less like a compromise and more a thoughtful selection.

But move-up buyers face their own set of challenges that call for a carefully considered strategy. Here are three options for the smart move-up buyer with a plan!

The “Sell First” strategy is ideal for the move-up buyer who can’t afford to pay two mortgages simultaneously. Selling your property first eliminates the risk of having to carry two mortgages if you don’t sell your existing home in time. It also reduces the chances of having to reduce your asking price in the interest of speeding up the sale. This is a good option for move-up buyers who are banking on the proceeds of their sale to fund their new (and likely more expensive) property. By selling first, you’ll know exactly how much money you have to purchase your next home.

If homes in your area of choice are selling faster than the ‘For Sale’ signs can hit the front lawn, the “buy first” strategy might be the way to go. By buying your new home before selling your old one, you won’t feel rushed into settling for a sub-par property, or having to seek alternative temporary housing options while you shop the market. This move-up buyer still lives in his or her existing home, allowing them time to shop around, and continue looking until they find that perfect place. This move-up buyer typically requires a bridge mortgage.

When all is said and done, this move-up buyer approach is the most ideal, but getting there is another story. Aligning your purchase and sale closing dates can be tricky. Remember that there are three dancers in this tango – you, the person you’re buying from, and the person you’re selling to. You’ll also have to move out and move in on the same day. In this scenario, time is your best friend and flexibility your savor. This means you’ve planned ahead – you’re researched neighborhoods, gotten pre-approved for a mortgage, and you’ve started the organizing and de-cluttering process before the big move.

The right move-up buyer strategy depends on a number of factors, such as your financial situation, current housing market conditions, your personal comfort level and your personality. Consider all these when making your decision. Plan ahead and work with a pro to ensure a smooth transaction on both sides of the bargaining table.

During my 17 years in the business, I’ve helped many move-up buyers and will be happy to help you and those you know!

3 Home Repairs That Can Save a Sale

Sellers whose homes aren’t in tip-top shape may need to spend extra money or put in a little elbow grease to get their properties in market-ready condition. But what are the most important repair or maintenance tasks that support a higher asking price? “Smaller and less expensive updates in combination with good staging will have a great return,” Susanna Haynie, GRI, a sales associate with Colorado Real Estate Group in Colorado Springs, told HouseLogic. The National Association of REALTORS®’ consumer-facing news service highlights some of the most important items to address before putting a home up for sale.