Where did all the houses go?

In today’s housing market, it seems harder than ever to find a home to buy. Before the health crisis hit us a year ago, there was already a shortage of homes for sale. When many homeowners delayed their plans to sell at the same time that more buyers aimed to take advantage of record-low mortgage rates and purchase a home, housing inventory dropped even further. Experts consider this to be the biggest challenge facing an otherwise hot market while buyers continue to compete for homes. As Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at realtor.com, explains:

“With buyers active in the market and seller participation lagging, homes are selling quickly and the total number available for sale at any point in time continues to drop lower. In January as a whole, the number of for sale homes dropped below 600,000.

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Every month, realtor.com releases new data showing the year-over-year change in inventory of existing homes for sale. As you can see in the map below, nationwide, inventory is 42.6% lower than it was at this time last year.

Does this mean houses aren’t being put on the market for sale?
Not exactly. While there are fewer existing homes being listed right now, many homes are simply selling faster than they’re being counted as current inventory. The market is that competitive! It’s like when everyone was trying to find toilet paper to buy last spring and it was flying off the shelves faster than it could be stocked in the stores. That’s what’s happening in the housing market: homes are being listed for sale, but not at a rate that can keep up with heavy demand from competitive buyers.

In the same realtor.com report, Hale explains:

“Time on the market was 10 days faster than last year meaning that buyers still have to make decisions quickly in order to be successful. Today’s buyers have many tools to help them do that, including the ability to be notified as soon as homes meeting their search criteria hit the market. By tailoring search and notifications to the homes that are a solid match, buyers can act quickly and compete successfully in this faster-paced housing market.”

The Good News for Homeowners
The health crisis has been a major reason why potential sellers have held off this long, but as vaccines become more widely available, homeowners will start making their moves. Ali Wolf, Chief Economist at Zonda, confirms:

“Some people will feel comfortable listing their home during the first half of 2021. Others will want to wait until the vaccines are widely distributed.”

With more homeowners getting ready to sell later this year, putting your house on the market sooner rather than later is the best way to make sure your listing shines brighter than the rest.

When you’re ready to sell your house, you’ll likely want it to sell as quickly as possible, for the best price, and with little to no hassle. If you’re looking for these selling conditions, you’ll find them in today’s market. When demand is high and inventory is low, sellers have the ability to create optimal terms and timelines for the sale, making now an exceptional time to move.

Bottom Line
Today’s housing market is a big win for sellers, but these conditions won’t last forever. If you’re in a position to sell your house now, you may not want to wait for your neighbors to do the same. Call me for advice on how to sell your house safely so you’re able to benefit from today’s high demand and low inventory.

Self-employed, here’s how to get a mortgage

The number of self-employed workers in the U.S. is rising, but showing proof of that income can be a challenge on a mortgage application.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS, reported there were 9.6 million self-employed workers in 2016. The BLS estimates that number to rise to 10.3 million self-employed workers by 2026, or a 7.9 percent growth rate.

When you work for an employer, they provide a W-2 form that includes the wages paid to you, amount of Social Security taxes withheld and other details about your income.

Businesses who contract with self-employed workers, however, file a different document with the IRS called the Form 1099-MISC. It reports any payments of $600 or more that a business makes to a person who’s not a regular employee or who operates an unincorporated business for a service, according to the IRS.

If you’re self-employed and want to buy a home, here are some key things to know before applying for a mortgage. Then call me, I have access to premier lenders who are dedicated to helping you instead of dragging you through the ringer to get into the home you want. CALL ME AFTER YOU HAVE READ!! 616-502-5045

Have your paperwork together
The mortgage process requires a lot of documentation and even more paperwork for self-employed workers. Instead of the standard federal tax return of one year, expect to provide at least two years of returns to show consistent income, especially if you’re a contractor who receives bonuses or commissions. The documentation burden is greater when you work for yourself, so have a list of both your assets (think retirement and brokerage accounts) and liabilities (like child support or alimony payments) handy.

Small business owners will likely need to provide a profit and loss statement, in addition to a 1099 form. You may also need a signed letter from your accountant that states you’re still in business.

“Proof of income is the biggest hurdle that self-employed borrowers encounter during the mortgage application process,” says Greg McBride, CFA, Bankrate’s chief financial analyst. “Unlike a salaried worker with consistent pay stubs and W-2s, self-employment income can be lumpy with big swings from one year to the next. Keep in mind that if your business is showing a loss on tax returns, that’s also a loss for loan qualification purposes.”

Don’t assume it will be harder to get approved
Self-employed borrowers undergo the same process when they are applying for a mortgage as people with a wage or salary. The requirements are a little more stringent with more documentation as lenders and banks want borrowers to demonstrate income stability, says Richard Liu, a mortgage consultant with C2 Financial Corp., a San Diego-based mortgage brokerage.

One common misconception among self-employed borrowers is that their gross income or revenue is used. Instead, the net income or revenue — minus expenses — is used to determine how much they can borrow.
“Generally, monthly income used to qualify is derived from a two-year average,” Liu says. “If the most recent year’s income is lower than the prior year, then only the most recent year’s income is used.”

Don’t mix business with personal
Small business owners should never mix business expenses with personal ones because it can impact your credit score. It can also be harder to establish business profit and loss.

Open a business bank account and charge work-related items such as supplies, client dinners and other expenses through a business debit or credit card. It will be easier for a lender to see and evaluate all your liabilities.

Keep your credit picture stable
The interest rate you receive for your mortgage is based, in part, on your credit score. A higher credit score means you’ll qualify for lower mortgage rates, which can save you thousands of dollars over the life of your loan.

Your first step: check your credit score and credit reports. Fix any reporting errors you find, and work with your lender on ways to boost your score like lowering your credit utilization rate or consolidating high-interest debt with a personal loan if you’re not buying a home right away.

You also shouldn’t close any credit card accounts – even if you’ve paid them off – because the length of time you’ve had open lines of credit factors into your credit score, and closing accounts can lower that score.

Your down payment amount and debt-to-income ratio also impact your credit score. Avoid making any large purchases before your loan closes because it could impact your credit score and increase your interest rate. In other words, buy household appliances, furniture or other big-ticket items after you sign the paperwork.

Tips to Help Sell Your Home FSBO

 

fsbo

As a realtor telling people how to sell their home without a realtor may be counterintuitive but if I have a buyer who is interested in your house, I want a partner to sit across the table who is up to the job.

My listing commissions  is 6% of the home’s sale price, so I understand how tempting it is to hang out a “For Sale by Owner” sign and save the commission. After all, FSBO would put an additional $16,800 in your pocket if you sell your house for $280,900, the recent median single-family home sale price.

But selling your own home is hard work. It requires time, energy, market knowledge, and some up-front money. FYI, I budget $2-4,000 on each home I list. National statistics indicate that only 9 percent of today’s sellers attempt to do the job without an agent, down from 12 percent in 2006. If you plan to join that minority, use these tips for greater success.

 

1. Be sure you’re up for the job.

You must have plenty of time on your hands to show your home, be able to negotiate, and able to market your home.

2. Right Pricing

You can use online services like Zillow and others but be cautions, they haven’t walked through your home. Check newspaper ads and real estate blogs for a read on the market, and spend several weekends going to open houses near you, and track their final selling prices.

3. Declutter and clean up.

Family photos with the dogs and cats should be put away, fix broken items, clean all surfaces, and a coat of fresh neutral-colored paint on the walls. You can also use a professional stager but be ready to budget $250-500.

4. Use online tools to advertise.

There is a lot of Sale by Owner services for FSBO’s. They offer services for advertising in magazines and websites, and providing forms and merchandise like weatherproof boxes to present fliers. Budget $100-300. Realflyer helps you create nice looking brochures starting at $.32 each. Owners.com will list your home free for 30 days for $300. For your $300, your listing will hit Realtor.com, Trulia, and Zillow. For an extra $100, you can get on the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) for realtors to see. You will also need to feature pictures and a video tour on your online marketing campaigns. Ensure you include driving directions, heating and cooling sources, and your school district. You can also publicize your house on Craigslist, Facebook, Google Plus, and Twitter.

5. THE SIGN!!!!

A “For Sale” sign is one of the best ways to attract buyers. Placement is critical and should be as close to the road as possible, unobstructed and with an easy to read phone number. And when that phone rings, answer it 24/7. Average attention span of a buy is less than 1 minute.

6. The Showing

When people come to look at your home, get their contact information. Let the buyers lead the way through your home. Be sure to point out any special features that make your house different from the rest. Give them a copy of your sales brochure as they leave. Follow up with a call or e-mail thanking them for stopping by and if they have any additional questions. Safety, NEVER SHOW YOUR HOUSE ALONE.

7. Buyers need a pre-approval

A potential buyer with a mortgage commitment is further along in the borrowing process than one who has prequalified for a mortgage.Don’t be afraid to ask for this prior to letting someone in your house. A deal with a buyer holding a commitment is less likely to fall through.

8. Get a real estate attorney

Many states don’t require a lawyer for selling your home, but hiring one is crucial. That is where all the moving parts come together including executing contracts and setting a closing date. Budget $750-2000.

9. Be Aware of Scams

Seems like there is a new scam everyday. Check out this video courtesy  of Teddy Smith and I wish you the best of luck!

Market Update 9/5/19

Here a new tool I have been given for you guys to use if your interested in what is going on with the housing market within west Michigan. In short, Inventory is low, home values continue to increase, same ol same ol. But, please take note, there are seasonal fluctuations you can add or subtract 2-3% to your homes value. In short, a great defence is a good offence. Let me sell your home with my strategies and market savvy and you will reap the rewards!

Back to School

Just a quick reminder unrelated to real estate. School is starting back up soon. You will start to see these big yellow vehicles called SCHOOL BUSES. These school busses are carrying the most precious cargo in the world. These vehicles will stop frequently and the cargo they are carrying will start walking, running, and jumping around like their hair is on fire!! Please drive like that precious cargo is as valuable to you as it is to their moms and dads. Watch out for our kiddo’s and please don’t ever pass a school bus regardless of what side of the road your on.

Slow Down: Back to School Means Sharing the Road

School days bring congestion: School buses are picking up their passengers, kids on bikes are hurrying to get to school before the bell rings, harried parents are trying to drop their kids off before work. It’s never more important for drivers to slow down and pay attention than when kids are present – especially before and after school.

If You’re Dropping Off

Schools often have very specific drop-off procedures for the school year. Make sure you know them for the safety of all kids. The following apply to all school zones:

  • Don’t double park; it blocks visibility for other children and vehicles
  • Don’t load or unload children across the street from the school
  • Carpool to reduce the number of vehicles at the school

Sharing the Road with Young Pedestrians

According to research by the National Safety Council, most of the children who lose their lives in bus-related incidents are 4 to 7 years old, and they’re walking. They are hit by the bus, or by a motorist illegally passing a stopped bus. A few precautions go a long way toward keeping children safe:

  • Don’t block the crosswalk when stopped at a red light or waiting to make a turn, forcing pedestrians to go around you; this could put them in the path of moving traffic
  • In a school zone when flashers are blinking, stop and yield to pedestrians crossing the crosswalk or intersection
  • Always stop for a school patrol officer or crossing guard holding up a stop sign
  • Take extra care to look out for children in school zones, near playgrounds and parks, and in all residential areas
  • Don’t honk or rev your engine to scare a pedestrian, even if you have the right of way
  • Never pass a vehicle stopped for pedestrians
  • Always use extreme caution to avoid striking pedestrians wherever they may be, no matter who has the right of way

Sharing the Road with School Buses

If you’re driving behind a bus, allow a greater following distance than if you were driving behind a car. It will give you more time to stop once the yellow lights start flashing. It is illegal in all 50 states to pass a school bus that is stopped to load or unload children.

  • Never pass a bus from behind – or from either direction if you’re on an undivided road – if it is stopped to load or unload children
  • If the yellow or red lights are flashing and the stop arm is extended, traffic must stop
  • The area 10 feet around a school bus is the most dangerous for children; stop far enough back to allow them space to safely enter and exit the bus
  • Be alert; children often are unpredictable, and they tend to ignore hazards and take risks

Sharing the Road with Bicyclists

On most roads, bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as vehicles, but bikes can be hard to see. Children riding bikes create special problems for drivers because usually they are not able to properly determine traffic conditions. The most common cause of collision is a driver turning left in front of a bicyclist.

  • When passing a bicyclist, proceed in the same direction slowly, and leave 3 feet between your car and the cyclist
  • When turning left and a bicyclist is approaching in the opposite direction, wait for the rider to pass
  • If you’re turning right and a bicyclists is approaching from behind on the right, let the rider go through the intersection first, and always use your turn signals
  • Watch for bike riders turning in front of you without looking or signaling; children especially have a tendency to do this
  • Be extra vigilant in school zones and residential neighborhoods
  • Watch for bikes coming from driveways or behind parked cars
  • Check side mirrors before opening your door

By exercising a little extra care and caution, drivers and pedestrians can co-exist safely in school zones.

Source: National Safety Council

Did condo’s just get more affordable??

NEWS FLASH.

Good News: Condos just got a whole lot more attractive for buyers seeking financing options detailed below.

Take Aways: If you’re a buyer and have about gone your distance with the “House Hunting” in west Michigan (which is a whole lot like looking for endangered species), contact your lender before mid-October and see if this change in the FHA lending policies offers you any additional buying power for a condo.

Bad News: With additional increased demand on condos from buyers, I suspect the price of condos will increase and the inventory will decline.

Take Aways: If you are a condo owner and wish to sell, you need to call me ASAP so we can get your condo on the market priced to accommodate the additional demand and not just to sell!!

Read below for more details.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is expected to release updated guidance tomorrow on FHA-insured condominium financing. The new rules should benefit your real estate clients and customers by allowing more buyers to obtain low down-payment mortgages on affordable housing options.

Specifically, the new rules will:

• Extend FHA certifications on condo developments from two years to three years, reducing the compliance burden on condo boards.
• Allow for single-unit mortgage approvals—often known as spot approvals—which will enable FHA insurance of individual condo units, even if the property does not have FHA approval.
• Secure additional flexibility in the ratio of investors to owner-occupants allowed for FHA financing in a condo building.

The full guidance will go into effect in mid-October, 60 days from publication.

Source: https://s3.amazonaws.com/public-inspection.federalregister.gov/2019-17213.pdf

THEY GOT A CAT!!!

Ok, I had a moment with weekend where I was doing an open house and the home owners have a cat, which I was not expecting….AT ALL!!. I texted home owners and said “Instructions about the cat??” and he replied “Don’t hurt it.” Well, that was the last thing on my mind. But what was on my mind was “Can the cat go outside?”, “Have the homeowners cleaned the cat box?”, and “What do I need to tell potential buyers coming to the open house?”
Well, most folks including myself have pets and we love them as part of our family. We protect and care for them like our own children. So, I wanted to pull together a few pointers if you are about to sell your home and you have furry, scaley, or feathery friends that live with you.

Selling Your Home with Pets Top 10 List:

  1. Before you even think about selling your home, make sure it’s in tip-top condition and repair any pet damaged areas like warn grassy areas in the yard and don’t forget pick up the poo!
  2. Clean and deodorize so the doggy/kitty/bird cage odor is not noticeable. Baking Soda is sold at Costco in 10 lb bags and well worth the cost.
  3. Have a plan for Fido and Kitty for showings. This may mean taking them with you. And if taking them out of the home is stressful for them, your veterinarian can recommend some options to minimize their stress. But for the sake of your furry friend, don’t leave them in a cage or closet at the house. They don’t understand what is going on and could cause them to get stressed out and scratch or bite a guest looking at your home.
  4. I know your proud to show off your picture with Rex on top of Mount Kilimanjaro on Facebook but some folks are sensitive to looking at homes that have had pets. Make sure all marketing materials and home photos do not have Rex, his water bowls, his leash collection, or his poo in the pictures. Same as don’t market as “Pet Friendly” it only limits your buyers.
  5. Maybe it’s not your pet that is the problem…its the neighbors Bengal tiger or 10 hounds. By the way, I love beagles and their sounds, might entice me to buy but 95% of buyers don’t think like that. Talk to your neighbor and ask if you can help pay for someone to walk their Bengal tiger during open house or buy them a doggy day care pass for the hounds so they are away from your house during the open house.
  6. Hair, fur, and feathers. I’ve spoken about the poo and pee but be mindful of hair and feathers and other by products of your pets on the couch, carpet, and floor. Sprinkle the baking soda on the carpet, let it set for 30 minutes, and vacuum up the hair. Put a mild smelling candle or air fresher or bake come cookies. No incense please!
  7. Now, you have sold your home and it’s time to move. TALK TO YOUR VETERINARIAN ABOUT YOUR MOVE!! Your pets will not understand and will be into everything, peeing on boxes of packed china, biting the movers, and could flat out run away. I’ve had that happen as a child. I didn’t understand why we were moving and why my dog wasn’t coming with me! So to say the least, my parents in an already stressful situation had to deal with a really pissed off 6 year old. Talk to your vet!
  8. Integrate your pet into your new home as they were in your old home. New carpet will see its share of pee and poo like the old home did. No need to putting the family cat outside after 10 years of living inside. It’s just cruel. Relax if they have an accident in the new home. They are making it theirs too!
  9. Don’t get pushed into a bad situation where you have to choose a home over your pet.  You invited your pet into your LIFE not your home. Once again, it’s just cruel to take a pet to the shelter after years of companionship and drop it off or even worse.
  10. Be prepared to make some quick moves to accommodate your pet in your new home and have a plan before you get there. Maybe a fence or a doggy door needs to be installed. Ask your realtor for help! That is why we are here, to help you and minimize the stress during this transition. If your realtor is not invested in rolling in the back yard with Kitty the Bengal Tiger or petting your beagle Chip when he is presenting his listing presentation….maybe thats a sign ya got the wrong realtor.

In short, we love our friends that bark, meow, swim, chirp, and hiss. They are part of our family and we don’t want them to be a factor in our sale and/or purchase of a house. They will sense your anxiety and respond. The right realtor will minimize that anxiety and make their life better too! And if your looking for a forever friend, check out https://harborhumane.org/
And I have installed doggy doors too!

Lola

Lola (??/??/?? – 5/23/18)
Thanks Lola!

Does FSBO really save you money?

Hey there! Part of the marketing strategy for all realtors is contacting property owners who are trying to sell their homes For Sale By Owner (FSBO). So I’ve contacted many this week, over 50! Either phone calls, text, or email. Here is my results:
-50 contacts
-4 return contacts by the FSBO’s

Now, I’m not being critical but if I was the realtor of the property for sale, any potential buyer wanting information on my listed property would get a call back from me within 2 minutes, 24/7/365. That’s what it means to be a realtor. Most folks today with all the information technology abound only wait 2-5 minutes then they move on to the next one. So if you are a FSBO or considering FSBO, buckle up and be committed to the sale and respond like ya want to sell your house!

If your not committed, let me explain what’s going to happen: Your house will stay on the market longer, your price point will deteriorate, and you will be out competed by other home owners using a realtor or a responsive FSBO.

So assess your ability to respond 24/7/365. If you can’t be responsive, get a realtor. The benefits of using a realtor are faster sales, peace of mind, increased sale price, and gets you off the emotional roller coaster in an already highly emotional transition in your life. But most importantly, it gives the potential buyer piece of mind too. Fact is most buyers are scared of FSBO.

So, to FSBO or not to FSBO, that is the question! I would greatly appreciate the opportunity to discuss listing your home and giving you the peace of mind you deserve. But if you are head strong in selling it yourself, commit to answering the call 24/7/365!