The Millennial Home Buyers Are Out There. What Do They Want?

The “generation Y” or the “Millennials” were born between the years of 1977 and 1995 and have taken the spotlight in real estate news lately.

They are skeptical when deciding to buy a home. They are the generation that saw their parents, relatives, etc. lose a home in the recession of the 2000s. The Millennials are thinking twice before buying to make sure the decision is right.  They analyze and make informed decisions about everything they buy because the internet makes the process easy to do so.

What do they want in their new home?

Updated Bathrooms: Most of their savings will be used for the down payment and furniture. They don’t want to update bathrooms, which can be expensive. If your bathrooms need some love, ask an experienced Realtor what the current design trends are.

Large Open Kitchens: Millennials aren’t looking for dining rooms as the kitchen is the place where their friends and family end up congregating. They see the kitchen as generations of past viewed a living room. It’s important the kitchen is stylish and updated with integrated appliances and gorgeous designs.

Smart Home: The Millennials were brought up in the world of technology and are willing to pay more for homes that have smart home features. They want to know the home has wireless service and internet and cable and telephone are not priorities. There have been cases that a home was dismissed because the signal to their mobile phone was weak.

Home Office: Many Millennials don’t travel back and forth to an office for work. They work from the comfort of their home. A  Realtor will help you dedicate a room to be shown as a workspace/home office.  Staged right, a Millennial will be able to envision themselves in it.

Location: Proximity to public transportation, easy access to major metropolitan areas, walking distance to restaurants, schools, etc. They want their home to be in a location where homes are affordable and jobs are plentiful. They don’t want to deal with long commutes or traffic issues.

Community: Besides the location, the importance of community is at the top of the list. Millennials want to be involved in their neighborhood.  Seventy-five percent of responders to a Fannie Mae survey said that feeling engaged in their community was their main reason for wanting to own a home.

Outdoor Living Space: Entertaining outside is just as important as inside to the Millennials. They will pay more for a home that has an exceptional outdoor space that features a patio, an outdoor kitchen, or a grand deck.

The Bottom Line: Millennials don’t want to buy a fixer-upper. The first step to attract them as buyers is to have a Realtor showcase the home for sale with beautiful professional photos online – the first place they will look. It’s also important to have the most skilled Realtor who understands what Millennials are looking for and will be able to highlight them to increase the chances of a quick and profitable home sale.

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Pocket Listing

What is a “pocket listing” and why do you hear about it so much? Some home sellers like the benefits of a private transaction. Thus, when a Realtor and a seller sign a listing agreement that permits the seller to place their home for sale without adding the information into the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) it is called a “pocket listing”.

The biggest advantage of selling your home as a pocket listing is for the privacy. The general public doesn’t get to see pictures of it online, and they are not able to just come “take a look” out of curiosity. These sellers don’t want strangers wandering through their homes. They don’t want the hassle of the constant showings, they simply want only the pre-qualified and vetted serious buyers.

Homeowners prefer selling their home as a pocket listing for many reasons. If the seller has just gone through a life-changing event (a divorce, death, new baby, etc) and they often want their home sold as quickly & quietly as possible.  Maybe, they just want to test the market, get an idea of what buyers are willing to pay for their home. Being a pocket listing means the general public does not know how long the buyer has been trying to sell it. No listing on MLS means no public eye, which can lessen the stigma that is inevitable if a home sits too long on the market publicly. Another plus? If the buyer wants to lower the price, buyers won’s see it and won’t be able to use it to negotiate.

Bypassing listing a home on the MLS provides a jump start and the home often sells for the full price due to the fact that they are listed in a defined, focused market. But, the unfortunate side to this is that it may sell, but might not be at the very best price.  When the pool of potential buyers is restricted, the seller doesn’t know what the home could actually bear since it is never actually on the market.

The Bottom Line:  Pocket listings can be advantageous in the real estate market, especially in specific cases where sellers require privacy and want to have control over the buyers who see their homes. But along with being a pocket listing comes potential hindrances that can warrant consideration. An experienced Realtor will be able to walk you through all the details of how your specific home would do as a pocket listing.

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Holiday Season Home Buyers Are Serious

Thoughts of selling your home during the very busy holiday season between Halloween and New Years? In the past, people would wait until January to list their home because there were fewer buyers out looking. While that may be true – there are not as many people looking for a home, times are different now and there are plenty of compelling reasons to list your home now.

There is much less competition. Potential buyers are prepared to buy – the fact that they are even looking during this busy season is evidence enough that they are motivated and ready to buy. Fewer homes for sale makes it more likely that buyers will check out your home.

Holiday buyers are also caught up in the season. Emotions are running high and where they are thinking of the past, and more importantly, the future. When a buyer is emotional, they tend to be more excited to purchase because it makes them feel good. Case in point the retail sales at this time of year.

Seeing your home during the holiday season helps them envision their own family celebrating. Use the most experienced Realtor and he/she will be able to guide you on how to decorate – using some restraint in holiday decorating goes a long way. Keep it simple, impersonal and show off your home’s best points. Have a fire going in the fireplace, cookies baking in the oven and a Christmas Tree decorated with only the most special ornaments. Don’t forget the outside, as well.  For example, a simple beautiful wreath on the front door is better than colored lights and blow up Santas on the front lawn.

Loan approval is much faster during this season. The lenders aren’t as busy since there are not a lot of home sales happening. When the loan is processed faster, you get your money faster.

The possibility of tax benefits at the end of the year can get a buyer moving. A home bought now is very beneficial. Many of the expenses used to purchase the home can be written off on their taxes. Plus, plenty of advantages including deductions for mortgage interest, private mortgage insurance premiums, tax credits for real estate taxes, etc.

The Bottom Line: Selling during the holiday season has plenty of advantages. Yes, there are fewer buyers out there, but the ones that are looking tend to be serious. They are ready to make a decision. It can be harder for you and your family to have showings, but if you commit to set boundaries with your Realtor on when the home can be seen, but yet remain flexible and patient it will be less stressful on your family and increase the chances of the right buyer walking through your front door.

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Do I Need A Realtor to Buy a House?

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“Do I really need a Realtor to buy a house?” If you are having doubts, here are a few reasons that a Real Estate Agent is valuable during the home buying process.

Sure, you can look through the many internet real estate listings, but a knowledgeable Realtor can cut through all the fat, plus have access to other sites, know the neighborhood comps, have contact with other agents in town with “pocket listings” and sometimes know the background (or the “skinny”) on a few homes. A Realtor is going to do all the dirty work and guide you through it all.  They are going to research the market trends and other important information that can be tedious.

The housing market is immense, there are literally thousands of options available and it can prove to be difficult to narrow down which homes are even worth looking at.  Your Realtor will have data about crime rates, education options, local businesses, commute times, zoning codes and a lot of other information that will influence your final decision.

Once you fall in love with a home, a skilled Realtor will have been through many homes and is trained to look for issues that might be hidden to you. Once the problem  identified it can be addressed and the Realtor can ask for it to be repaired.

The vast knowledge of market conditions and comp sales coupled with the Realtor’s knowledge will help put together a competitive offer at the best possible price.  You will be given information on at current home conditions to find any issues that could be leveraged during negotiations. The Realtor knows how to navigate through the many documents plus be your voice when the negotiating begins.  If you end up with questions and concerns or are completely confused, your Realtor will be able to  clarify all the clauses, contingencies and jargon-filled fine print as well as find hidden fees and conditions that many people tend to skim over.

The Bottom Line: Anyone can shop for a new home without a Realtor. Buying and selling a house is one of the largest financial transactions people make in their lifetime. Realtors earn their commission by making sure you know exactly what you are doing. They are helping you through the many pages of documents required on the transaction. They are with you during the inspection (pest, foundation, furnace, sewer, electrical, plumbing, etc), appraisal and disclosure. It’s in your best interest to use the resources of a skilled Real Estate Agent.

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Owner’s Policy of Title Insurance

Owning real estate is one of the most precious values of freedom in the United States. We all want to be assured that the property we are buying is ours. That there isn’t another mortgage holder and that nobody has any other restrictions on the property. Having title insurance will eliminate any risk or loss caused by faults in the title from a situation that happened before we bought the property.

An Owner’s Policy of title insurance is the best protection against any these risks that can be hidden even after a search of public records such as:

  • Forgery: The seller could misrepresent the identity of the person selling the property.
  • Fraud: The seller may have stolen the identity of the person who owns the home or may even take out a second mortgage on the property.
  • Clerical error: An example might be a discrepancy in the property or fence line causing confusion in the owner’s rights.
  • Outstanding mortgages, unpaid taxes, and judgments.
  • Pending legal action
  • An unknown heir that sweeps in and claims the ownership of the property.
  • An undisclosed divorce 
  • Incorrect survey
  • Mechanics Lien Claim
  • Federal estate or state inheritance tax liens

With title insurance, we, as the buyers, are guaranteed that anything that is found on the title will be corrected. Furthermore, we are protected if anything that was not discovered will be covered. Essentially, Title First Agency will assure the past is clear on the title as well as the future.

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Detach Emotionally From Your Home For Sale

Thinking about selling your first home? Besides the fact that it will take a lot of time and energy, it may be very emotionally challenging. To have buyers come into your home and open closets, cabinets, and drawers, walk through your bedrooms and look behind furniture, and then to criticize the home you have loved is not easy. Eventually, there will be a buyer who wants it and will inevitably offer far less to buy it than you have it listed as.

The first hurdle to overcome after you have made the decision to sell is to let go of your home emotionally. Start looking at it as a positive financial opportunity and distance yourself from all the aspects of the property that you have created memories. It will be hard to pull your heart away from remembering the moments that you painted, decorated and picked out “just the right carpeting” for your child’s first bedroom. Acknowledge that selling your home is going to be stressful and emotional upfront and that will enable you to make good decisions going forward.

Think of your home as a product that you are selling. This should help you detach emotionally. Start removing personal items like pictures, knick-knacks, etc. to begin staging which will make it feel less like your home. If you put special hardware on cabinets and can’t imagine parting with them, replace them. A good Realtor will give you great recommendations to help make your home more neutral – maybe painting or pulling carpet – all of which will help you to see your home as a product and will help you emotionally.

It’s common for a seller to overprice their home when they are emotionally attached. The price of your home needs to be based on the market and the comparable properties, not the value you, someone with memories, puts on the home. After a Realtor helps you with the price, don’t get offended by offers that don’t meet your calculations. If a buyer makes a low offer, it’s good to know that there is someone who loves your home enough to even make an offer. Let your Realtor negotiate and learn what the seller likes and dislikes (which may hurt your feelings) so you are able to keep your emotions out of the selling process.

The Bottom Line: Make sure you are truly ready to sell your home. Make a list of the pros and cons of why you want to move and evaluate. Have an experienced Realtor help you once you have made the decision and realize that sentimental value does not translate to monetary value so you will need help pricing your home accordingly. Keep your emotions in check, make a clean break and put your energy and time into making your new house the home of your dreams!

 

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Mechanic’s Lien

The financial crisis of 2007-2008, also known as the global financial crisis and the 2008 financial crisis, is considered by many economists to have been the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Since then and because of the losses, title insurance underwriters tightened their guidelines when working with residential properties to prevent further loss.

During the time of the financial crisis, title insurance underwriters often suffered loss due to mechanic’s lien claims.  A mechanic’s lien is a security interest in the title to property for the benefit of those who have supplied labor or materials that improve the property. The lien exists for both real property and personal property. The claim is issued when the work performed was not paid for.

The lien gives the debt holder the right to the property until the debt is paid in full and the property.  This could be an expensive situation for new homeowners, so it is important to ensure a property is lien-free before purchasing a home. This can be confirmed with a lien waiver or a paid receipt for any work completed on the property. A lien waiver is a document issued by the service provider that states they have received payment and waive the right to issue a lien against the property in the future.

Title First Agency will protect all property buyers by providing a clear title of the property. If there is a lien, the title won’t be clear and we will coordinate the activity and documentation from the participants and pull each piece together, including paid receipt of any improvements or repairs to the property.

If you’re planning to purchase a home, make sure you know the full status of the property and any lien claims.  Buying a home may be the single, largest financial purchase in your life and can signify a much-anticipated milestone. That’s why Title First offers a host of resources to help you understand this important personal transaction.

 

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Fall Home Selling

It’s always been said that Spring is the best time to put a home on the market to sell. But, Fall might just be a perfect time and often homes can sell faster at this time of year.

Buyers are more serious in the Fall. During the Spring months, there are many homes on the market giving buyers more time to look at them in great detail and be more particular. Once September arrives, there aren’t as many homes listed, the competition is less, and buyers are more rushed to buy, close and move in before the holidays and even Winter weather becomes an issue.

Curb appeal is still so important. Be sure to rake dead leaves and debris in your yard. If there is overgrown vegetation blocking windows, remove it and cut bushes and tree limbs. Put bright mums in pots at the front door and plant in gardens where it looks empty from pulling the dead Summer flowers. Leaves in gutters should be removed often.

The days are shorter, the sun sets lower and earlier in the horizon so be sure to turn the lights all over the home before a showing. Pull up the blinds, open the shutters, push back the drapes on every window.  Make sure each room is bright! Closet lights, appliance lights – anything to make the home shine! Many buyers want a showing after work so it will most likely be dark outside.

Be sure to have the furnace, boiler and even the fireplace checked.  Nothing would be worse than a cold Fall day and buyers come in only to discover that there are heating problems. Additionally, having a roaring fire in the fireplace might be just the ambiance needed for buyers to “see” themselves in the home.

Price the home to sell in the current market. A skilled Realtor will help set the price using the comps in the neighborhood coupled with the time of year – which does not necessarily mean the home should be priced lower, but priced right. The home might sit on the market longer as we head into the Holiday & Winter Season making it even harder to sell if it’s priced too high.

The Bottom Line:  There will be fewer showings when putting a home on the market to sell in the Fall. The good news is that the buyers that are looking are more serious and motivated. Most importantly, find a Realtor that has a great track record of selling homes, no matter the season. Do the homework, ask neighbors, friends and search online to find the most experienced Realtor.

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Upgrading a Home To Sell

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There are certain things buyers want in a home when househunting. There are renovations and upgrades that owners can put money into if they want to sell fast and can be confident knowing that they will get that money back in the sale of their home. With a remodeling budget, what should owners focus on renovating?

Laundry Room: A separate laundry room topped the National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) list of most-wanted home features by buyers.  Carrying loads of laundry to a basement and then back upstairs again is a thing of the past. Now, buyers want their laundry rooms in a convenient area – near the kitchen or bedrooms with plenty of folding space and cabinets.

Exterior Lighting: This is the most-wanted outdoor feature, according to the NAHB. Adds to the curb appeal as well as a security feature.

Windows: Big ticket items buyers want is new energy efficient windows. Not only are they a great selling point, but they will also save the owners money on energy bills while they occupy the home.

Ceiling Fans: The most-wanted decorative home feature by potential buyers, according to the NAHB. Ceiling fans can be inexpensive and practical – they keep the air moving with the air conditioning or the heat. Plus, now they have reversible controls that allow the air to be drawn up, or blown down.

Hardwood Flooring: A cleaner look, easier to maintain and more durable than carpet. If hardwood floors are already in the home, get it sanded and refinished to make it like new again. If there is carpet – it could increase your home’s selling price by 2.5%.  according to Realtor.com

Appliances: Old appliances, especially in kitchens can turn a buyer off. Even with limited funds, a seller can create beautiful kitchens using Energy Star-rated appliances. A Realtor can get a comp report from the neighborhood and see how other homes have sold and what is on the market to know if a seller needs to update appliances or not.

Fresh Walls:  Take the wallpaper down. One of the easiest and most cost-effective ways that can help to increase a home’s value is also one of the simplest.  Freshly painted walls. Neutral colors are best and can make it easier for a potential buyer to see themselves in the home.

The Bottom Line: A home is a person’s biggest investment, so doing what can be done to upgrade it to boost its value, makes sense. Not all renovations will have the same impact. The best advice a person can get is from a knowledgeable Realtor in the location of the home. Have comps pulled, and find out what upgrades will give the home the most bang for the buck.

 

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Starter Home Advice

The number one advantage to owning a home -the “American Dream” – is the opportunity to put money each month towards an asset that is building equity.  Begin with a “starter home” that is a worthwhile buy and you will be financially ready when the time comes to move to the “forever home”.

Realtors and lenders often recommend waiting at least five years before selling a starter home. The good news is there is always a constant demand for these homes and prices tend to rise as first time home buyers make up the biggest market.

Starter Home Advice

  • Don’t get emotional and fall in love with any one home. The heart always seems to rule the head when shopping for a home and too many times buyers end up living beyond their means.
  • Be content to compromise on location. If you work in a larger city, realize that the homes closer to town will be more expensive than a few miles farther out.  If you want a shorter commute, you might have to give up space for a home you can afford.
  • Realize that you will be selling the home you buy at some point and keep certain aspects in mind: the school district, the neighborhood, the condition of the homes on the street, zoning, development and anything else that would affect your home for resale.
  • If you are going to renovate and upgrade at all, know that you don’t want to put more money into the home then you will be able to get out of it.  A skilled Realtor will be able to go over the pros and cons and help you keep your emotions in check.

The Bottom Line:  Make sure you have the best Realtor in the area that you want to live that will be truthful with you. This is possibly the biggest purchase of your life. You will want to be sure this is the right time to buy a home – rushing and buying before you are ready can end up costing you more money. Have realistic expectations and focus on 5 years forward.

 

 

 

 

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