How Buyers & Sellers Can Prepare For An Early Start To The Spring Market

Is January the new April? When it comes to the real estate market, experts say yes.

Regardless of whether that famous groundhog sees his shadow, a recent article on CNBC suggests spring will arrive early this year—at least when it comes to the housing market. In fact, some are speculating that January may very well be the new April.

What’s causing this already-busy buying season to kick off ahead of schedule? Low inventory and rising home prices are spurring house hunters to come out of hibernation months before they previously would have.

With that in mind, whether you’re buying or selling, or both, it’s time to get moving. The following checklists will help you prepare yourself or home property so don’t get left behind!

Getting Ready To Sell

If you’re hoping to put your place on the market and capitalize on those early bird buyers, you want your property to be in the best possible shape. That means you’ll want to tackle the following tasks:

Clean: Scrub like you’ve never scrubbed before! Some recommend hiring a cleaning service as new eyes will find old stains and smudges you no longer even notice.

Paint: Nothing brightens up a room like a fresh coat of paint. Don’t forget the moldings and trim. Buyers notice every detail.

Declutter: You’re going to have to pack up anyway, so why not do it sooner rather than later? As you go through each room, start storing non-essential items that you plan to take with you to your new address. If you find items you no longer want or need, donate them or try to sell them online for a quick influx of cash you can spend on your new place.

Tackle repairs: Take care of anything that would pop up on a home inspector’s report. Chances are you’ll need to fix it before you move, so why not do it now and enjoy these improvements for as long as you remain in the home?

Work on your curb appeal: Your home’s exterior is what’s going to make that all-important first impression on buyers. If your lawn boasts more weeds than grass, your shrubs are dead, and your fence is falling apart, you can count on that prospect driving on to the next house.

Find the right real estate agent: Often sellers want to hire the agent who says they’ll list the property for the highest price. Or, they’re tempted to select one who’s willing to take the lowest commission. But, really, you want an agent with a track record of success who is familiar with the area and comparable listings, and has a marketing plan that will help you realize the maximum value. A sky-high listing price sounds great, but not if it takes you three years to sell, right?

Preparing To Buy

If you’re ready to purchase a new home, there are several things you can do before you hit your first open house to make sure the process goes as smoothly as possible.

Clean up your credit: Your credit score not only impacts your ability to secure a mortgage at all, but it will also determine the interest rate you’ll pay. If you’re worried about your credit score, start working toward raising it by paying all your bills on time and making sure your balances are low. Check your credit report by contacting the three credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. You’re entitled to a free report from each agency once per year. If you spot an error, having the report amended will boost your score.

Pro tip: Speak to an experienced mortgage professional. Sometimes they can advise you on what (and what not) to pay down or off, in order to improve your credit score.

Save for a down payment (and then some!): Being able to put 20% of the purchase price down at your closing isn’t necessary, but it could help you in terms of better rates and overall monthly payments. It can also help you to avoid paying for private mortgage insurance (PMI). It’s also wise to save for emergencies because once you’re in your new home you never know what may suddenly need repair.

Get pre-approved for a mortgage: Getting preapproved lets sellers know you’re the real deal. And, it let’s you know what you can afford, so you focus on the right price points, and can choose the perfect one to go after with confidence.

Rather than just prequalification, which is more like an estimate of what you can borrow, a pre-approval means the loan is much more likely to get through underwriting once you get a home under contract, because the lender has already assessed your credit, income, debts, and assets.

Plus, if you find yourself competing for a property, being able to tell a seller you’re pre-approved can give you the advantage you need against others who are not.

Do your due diligence: Think you’ve found an area you like? Check out neighborhoods at different times of day, and be sure to notice traffic patterns. For example, is the home you like on a street drivers use to dodge traffic on Main Street. Will you encounter school drop-off or pick-up congestion that will make getting in or out of your driveway a hassle? How about early morning church bells or that fire house whistle? Consider all these factors, and anything else that may appeal to you, or bother you personally, as you’re driving past potential homes.

Find the right real estate agent: Whether this is your first or fiftieth home purchase, it’s still wise to enlist the help of a buyer’s agent. After all, it doesn’t cost you anything out of pocket typically, and a good agent will help you by sharing their inside knowledge not only of the neighborhood, but also help establish what’s a good value in your price range.

Plus, they’ll arrange showings on your behalf and they may also be able to alert you to red flags you’d otherwise miss while touring properties. These seasoned experts will be happy to refer you to other pros you’ll want on your side, such as home inspectors, attorneys, and lenders.

Whether you’re planning on selling, buying, or both, you may be competing with plenty of other buyers and sellers once Spring is in full swing. So, taking care of the items listed above can help you get the edge you need. Especially with the Spring real estate market getting it’s own head start!

Don’t Fall In Love With A House Before You Are Ready To Fully Commit

 

Finding the house of your dreams might seem pretty easy.

You know what you want and like. You feel like you will know the perfect house when you see it. The minute you find “the one”, it will be love at first sight. It will just feel right, like it was meant to be.

Kind of like the notion of finding your soulmate.

Back in the day, finding your ideal house or soulmate was a lot trickier.

Until…the Internet.

Nowadays, there are tons of websites for people to find the love of their life…and just as many to help people find the home of their dream.

The Internet has made it easier to find “the one”…in love, and housing.

But just because it is easier for you to find your soulmate, or your “soulhouse”, doesn’t mean you are in any position to do something about it.

Fate can only take you so far. Reality has to be dealt with…

Your “relationship” status in terms of housing has to be considered.

Are you “married”?

Let’s say you are married…

All of a sudden, you stumble into your someone who you feel is your soulmate somewhere. Could be at work, online, at a bar, at the gym. Doesn’t really matter.

Let’s put all debate about “right” or “wrong” aside… You decide to ditch your significant other, and follow the passionate path, and marry this new man or woman.

You’re going to have to deal with your marriage. You can’t ignore it. It is an issue. You can’t still be married, and actually marry your newly found soulmate. You could fool around. You could have an affair. But you aren’t getting married without ending the marriage you already have.

It’s kind of the same thing if you find the house of your dreams…

If you already own a house, it’s like being married. Most people don’t have the ability to buy another house, without selling the house they already own.

So, what do you do?

Should you sell the house you already own first, and just hope your dream house appears once your house is sold?

Or do you keep your eyes open for your dream house, find it, fall in love, and then scurry to get your house sold as quickly as possible, before your dream home gets scooped up by someone else?

There is no easy solution to this.

Are you seriously “dating”?

There is a lot more to ending a marriage than there is when you are simply dating someone.

So, if you are dating someone, and you fall head over heels for someone else, you can end things a little more quickly and easily. But, of course there will most likely be some headaches and heartaches to deal with.

Renting is like dating.

If you are renting a house or an apartment, and you come across the house of your dreams, you are probably not going to find it is the perfect timing. Maybe you will have to try and end your lease early. Or maybe you will have to continue paying your rent until the lease ends.

But these are not huge issues in the grand scheme of things. You are in better position to go after the house of your dreams, than someone who is married to a house they already own.

Are you “single”?

A lot of people look at being single as undesirable. Even more so if you are living at home still with your parents.

Let’s face it, if you you’re looking for your soulmate, you probably don’t want to fess up to living in your childhood bedroom, or your parent’s basement. It doesn’t sound all that impressive or intriguing.

(Whatever…if someone is truly a soulmate, they should be totally cool with you being a cellar dwellar!)

Not owning a home, or even renting your own place is like being single.

As unimpressive as this scenario sounds to some people, this is the best scenario to be able to act upon finding your dream home. You have nothing to sell, and no lease to worry about. This is as good and easy as it gets.

Did you get “divorced”?

Things happen in life. Life throws curveballs. People grow apart. People make mistakes. People split up. People hurt each other. And people who go through a breakup often have “emotional baggage”.

Plenty of people end up getting “divorced” from their own home…

Having a short sale, or a foreclosure in your past is like having gotten divorced.

This doesn’t mean you are unworthy of finding and getting your dream home. But it might affect you being able to get it. It depends on a lot of factors.

Get some pre-“marriage” counseling.

Most people do not really consider their current housing “relationship” when they start looking for their dream home.

It usually starts off as some wishful thinking. Maybe browsing a few websites…just seeing what’s out there. Then it progresses to flirting with possibilities, perhaps.

Before you know it, there you are…in love with the house of your dreams. So, you call a real estate agent who “introduces” you to the house in-person.

Sure enough, it’s “the one”!

Maybe you’re in position to jump on the chance to follow your heart…

But, unless you’re “single”, most likely you are not. And it is absolutely heartbreaking. You aren’t ready for the new relationship. You need to deal with the one you already have.

The best way to avoid any heartache is to put yourself in the best possible position to grab your dream home when you find it.

This doesn’t mean you need to be absolutely “single” before you start looking for your dream home. But you do need to have a plan in place as to how you will transition from your current housing relationship, into one with the home of your dreams.

There is no one solution, or even an easy solution.

The best solution is to call a real estate agent before you start your search.

Let your agent put on his or her “marriage counseling” hat, and advise you on the best way to plan for and make the transition from your current housing relationship, to the one of your dreams.

Refinancing Could Help 20 Million Americans Save On Their Mortgages

Mortgage rates in the US are near a three-year low. And while that’s clearly good news for people hoping to buy property, it can also be great news for current mortgage holders. Refinancing is on the rise, doubling since late July—and for good reason.

According to a recent article from Forbes, property data firm Black Knight shows that, in the current market, there are about 20 million Americans who could “theoretically” see a 75-point drop in mortgage rates by refinancing. So, which homeowners stand to save by refinancing? Americans with a credit score of 720 or higher and at least 20 percent equity in their property could save a whopping $270 per month.

The Takeaway:

So, what does that mean for you? If you’re a current homeowner with a mortgage, you should at least explore the possibility of refinancing; with interest rates so low, refinancing could translate to serious savings on your mortgage payment.

First-Time Homebuyers Finding That They Don’t Need A Large Down Payment

Many would-be buyers think that in order to make their dream of homeownership a reality, they need to have 20 percent of the home’s purchase price to put down as a down payment. But, that’s just not true. The truth is, the vast majority of first-time buyers are buying their homes with significantly less.

According to Genworth Mortgage Insurance’s recent First-Time Homebuyer Market Report, a whopping 80 percent of first-time homebuyers (473,000) used a low down payment mortgage product to buy their home, in just the third quarter of 2019 alone.

In fact, the majority of low down payment mortgages go to first-time buyers (for example, in 2018, 88 percent of purchase loans with a 3 percent to 5 percent down payment went to first-time buyers—as did more than half (53 percent) of the 5 percent to 10 percent down payment loans).

The Takeaway:

What does this mean for you? If you’ve been waiting to buy your first home until you have a 20 percent down payment in the bank, you might be able to become a homeowner with a much lower down payment than you think.

2601 Summit Point Road, Berryville, VA

 

Gorgeous 4 bedroom home located minutes from restaurants and shopping in Berryville and WV line. Surrounded by farms and located on 3 acres.Hardwood flooring throughout main level, laundry room conveniently located upstairs with bedrooms. Updated kitchen with space for a table and separate dining room. Large unfinished basement offers plenty of storage

 

Available for new occupants early April. Offered for $2200/month