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June
27

plant tips

It's no secret that today's world is full of chemicals and other toxins. Luckily, these pollutants don't have to put you and your family at risk. There are beautiful houseplants that act as natural filters for many of the most common airborne toxins in today's homes. The diverse list of plants below will brighten up your space and improve your indoor air quality at the same time. 

Click Here to Read More...

June
22

Selling Your Home? These Simple Upgrades Can Increase Your Home's Value

Thanks to the pandemic, our lives have changed in the last couple of years. How and where we work, shop, and live in our homes have been centers of significant change and re-evaluation. Whether you're considering selling your home or just looking to improve your quality of life, it's more important to know what upgrades have the best return on investment and adds value to your home.

For example, a dedicated home office and outdoor entertainment and living spaces are coveted by buyers in a house for sale. This blog post will look at trending home improvements that can add value to a house for sale in 2022.

An Overview of 2022 Home Renovation Trends

We used surveys from real estate agents, expert data from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), and other industry experts to determine what home buyers are looking for in a house for sale in 2022.

Researchers estimate that total spending on remodeling projects in the U.S. could reach $430 billion by the second half of 2022. Growth is expected to taper in the third quarter due to rising costs of materials, labor, construction, and interest rates. A 7% annual inflation rate, the highest since 1982, is making everything cost more, including putting in new floors or refreshing a dated kitchen or bathroom.

According to a Remodeling magazine survey of real estate professionals, the average recoupment of 22 popular projects came in at about 60% nationally in 2021. That's down from 63.7% in 2020 and 66.1% in 2019. Some upgrades can add perceived and actual value to a house for sale if you're considering selling, making it stand out to buyers and offer a good return on your investment.

Home Improvement Projects That Add Value

The way we live in our homes has changed since the pandemic. Homebuyers are looking for specific features when touring a house for sale.

Buyers always appreciate space. However, over the past year, they want even more. The NAHB report What Home Buyers Really Want – 2021 Edition found that buyers wanted a median of 2022 square feet, about 8% more than they currently have. Specifically, 46% were looking for three bedrooms, 37% wanted two bathrooms, and 42% preferred a two-car garage. A 2020 survey of real estate agents found that 44% of buyers said the need for more space was their number one motivator. Another 31% cited the desire for more private outdoor space as a top motivation.

Here are some upgrades that will make your home stand out to buyers.

Major Upgrades

These can be pricey upgrades but make your home more appealing to buyers. If you're not ready to sell, these upgrades can improve your quality of life while adding to your home's resale value when it comes time to sell!

Build or Covert A Space into a Dedicated Home Office

The trend for remote work was growing before the pandemic. The need for home office space exploded as we were forced into working from home in the early days of the pandemic. Even as we slowly return to the office today, remote work is here to stay.

A 2021 survey by Home Light found that 60% of top agents cited a home office as a top priority. Today, buyers care about a home office more than whether a home is move-in ready. Some buyers are looking for multiple home offices.

Creating a new room or dedicating existing space for a home office is a good investment if your buyers telecommute. Home Light data from mid-2020 indicates that a home office adds over $10,000 in resale value. Today, that number might be even higher as the hybrid work model takes hold.

Options include converting a walk-in closet or building an accessory dwelling unit. The estimated value that an ADU adds has gone from $47,600 to $66,000 since pre-pandemic times.

Finish Your Basement or Attic

If you have an unfinished basement or attic, you have potential livable space future buyers can enjoy. Whether as a home office, a home theater, an extra bedroom, or an in-law apartment. according to HomeAdvisor, a finished basement between 400 and 1500 square feet has a potential ROI of 75%

Adding heated square footage bumps your house value to another level. Today, an unfinished basement adds $15,000 to $20,000 in value. A finished basement can add $40,000 to $50,000 to your asking price.

Open Your Floorplan

Buyers today love an open concept floorplan. People need a dedicated space to work, but they still want to entertain and enjoy time with family and friends. NAHB's survey found that 85% of buyers want an open floorplan between the kitchen and dining room. 79% prefer an open arrangement between the kitchen and family room.

While an open layout is great for adding natural light, you should speak with a contractor before knocking down any walls!

Exterior Upgrades

Simple exterior upgrades to your home's curb appeal can add significant value to your home. These affordable upgrades can grab a buyer's attention before opening the door!

Up Your Home's Curb Appeal

Curb appeal impresses buyers before they enter your home. Attractive landscaping implies you maintain your home. In fact, buyers will pay a 7% premium for a house with stunning curb appeal. The highest ROI for curb appeal is in the Northeast, where an investment of about $3600 for curb appeal upgrades can yield a $14,800 bump in resale value for a 309% ROI!

Basic lawn care like cutting the grass, fertilizing, and controlling weeds costs around $340 but offers a 539% ROI!

Update Your Garage Door

Is your garage door looking worse for wear? Is it a dated design compared to your neighbors? A new garage door is another inexpensive way to add value. According to Home Light, a new garage door costs around $1200 but can add an average of $2797 in resale value for a 133% ROI.

Add A Parking Spot

If you live in a city, or town where street parking is at a premium, consider adding a concrete parking pad. It costs around $1200 and is a considerable upgrade in the city. It's affordable and can add significant value and up your asking price!

Outdoor Living Upgrades

We've embraced the physical and mental benefits of being outdoors in the past few years. Today, outdoor living ranks third on the list of homebuyers' priorities, behind only a home office and excellent schools. Here are a couple of outdoor upgrades that can add resale value.

Add a Patio or Deck

A deck or patio is the centerpiece of an outdoor living space. It's a place to eat dinner, entertain, have a drink, or work outdoors on a beautiful day. A deck can add over $7000 in resale value. You can build a deck for around $4380 to $10,000, so you'll likely break even or see a positive ROI for this upgrade.

Put in a Fire Feature

54% of agents surveyed by Home Light said that 54% of their buyers cited having a fire feature, like a fire pit or outdoor fireplace, as a top priority. It's a great place to spend time with family and friends. An outdoor fireplace adds an average of $5700 in value.

Cook Al Fresco

Once reserved for luxury homes, today, everybody wants an outdoor kitchen! Along with a built-in grill, outdoor kitchens can include cabinetry, a bar, sink, and standard kitchen appliances. They can even include an outdoor flatscreen. The value of outdoor kitchens has increased since the pandemic. Pre-pandemic, an outdoor kitchen added $6100. An outdoor kitchen adds about $9800 in value in today's market.

Adding Value in a House For Sale

These are just a few upgrades and projects that can add significant value to a house for sale. If you're considering selling your home, simple improvements can add interest to buyers and drive up your asking price.

As you look around your home and consider which upgrades are worth the investment, first consider your quality of life. If you're planning on selling in the future large projects like adding square footage can enhance your current enjoyment of your home, but when you decide to sell, they can add resale value.

If you're planning on putting your house for sale, look at any upgrades from a potential buyer's perspective. Does your home lack the modern features and amenities that a remote professional needs to balance family, work, and relaxation? Maybe it's time to add a dedicated home office or outdoor kitchen. If you're not sure, speak with a local Realtor®. They can tell you what buyers in your area value most.

June
20

new england home decor

Are you looking for a new decor style to use in your home? If you're like many people, you know what you like - and don't like - when you see it, but you may have struggled to tie your home decor into an appealing style. Without a general direction, you can end up with a collection of elements gathered over the years that don't seem to complement each other or create a cohesive look. Whether that's the case or you'd simply like a change from your current style, it may be time for a refreshed look.

Our real estate agents suggest the following tips to help you find the best decor style for your home:

  • Look Inside Your Closet
    Check your closet and identify your favorite clothing items and accessories. What do you like to wear when you want to brighten your mood or when you have a special occasion to dress for? Look for some common elements - such as colors, fabrics, and patterns - that you normally find attractive. And take a look at items you avoid wearing and try to figure out why. Consider your general style. Do you prefer bold, flashy looks or more neutral colors and classic styles? Even the types of fabrics you like can serve as inspiration for items like pillows and draperies.

  • Create a Vision Board
    Look through a variety of magazines without limiting yourself to home decor publications. Check out photos of all types, including those representing nature, fashion, jewelry, and more. Use them in a vision board and consider what appeals to you about each image. For example, if you have a photo of leaves, does their color appeal to you? What about their shape or texture? Do they have curved lines or straight lines? Each photo can give you cues about what design elements you find most appealing.

  • Take a Few Online Quizzes
    There's an online quiz on just about every topic, so it should come as no surprise that a large number of websites have quizzes that will help you determine what home decor style you prefer. If you Google "interior design quizzes," you'll find lots of ones to try. Not only are these types of quizzes fun, but they also may surprise you and give you insights into your style preferences that you may not have expected. In addition, you'll be able to get some home design buzzwords - such as "industrial" or "boho" - that you can further research to find specific looks and pieces.

  • Weigh in on the Home Decor Items You Already Have
    Look at your current home decor items with a critical eye. Are there things that you love? Think about what it is about them that appeals to you. On the other hand, identify items that you just don't like. What is it that you find unappealing about them? As an added bonus, this step lets you eliminate some of your home decor items that just aren't working for you since you can sell or donate those things that you dislike. This also gives you the space to bring in more elements that suit your new style.

  • Consider Your Home's Current Atmosphere
    How does your home's current atmosphere feel? Is it warm and homey? Or maybe you have a modern, minimalist vibe going? Are there areas of your home that make you happy and others that make you feel bored or stressed out? Whatever you have, determine the mood it projects and figure out if that's still what you're going for, but with new decor items. Or you may decide you want to change the mood of your space entirely.

  • Give Your Style a Name
    Many, if not most, people have an ideal style that encapsulates elements of several different styles. This often works best since, although specific styles can provide inspiration, you may not like every element of any single style. Fortunately, there's no need to lock yourself into one look and follow its recommendations to the letter. Look at the information you've gathered and any patterns you can identify and come up with a fun description of your style. That way, as you consider different elements to bring into your home, you can ask yourself if they fit in well with your self-named style.

  • Start Small
    Decorating an entire home or even a room can seem overwhelming. Start with a small space in your home, such as a shelf or end table, and gather and arrange some objects that reflect your newly defined style. Live with them for a week or two, and if they're still appealing to you, start spreading the style throughout your room and home. If you find the style less attractive than you'd hoped, redo some of the previous steps to help further define your home decor style.

Contact us if you'd like to see homes for sale so you can have a fresh start in discovering the best decor style. Whether you're looking for a home to buy, are ready to sell your home, or both, we're ready to help! 

June
15

The real estate market has been on fire for the past few years. Like other industries, a hot real estate market and rapidly evolving technology created the opportunity for new disruptive business models. iBuying (the "i" stands for instant) first started in 2014 with Open door pioneering the concept.

With iBuying, homeowners can sell their home directly to the buying agency without needing a real estate broker or agent. This can save money and avoid the challenges and costs incurred in traditional real estate transactions. Online companies give sellers instant cash offers on their homes, sight unseen. The buyer is offered a price based on a computer algorithm they are not looking to do major renovations. Typically, they want to sell quickly.

In 2018, Zillow jumped into the fray with their Zillow iBuyer Program. But it was not a national program. They originally started in a few carefully selected markets with plans to eventually roll it out more extensively.

Zillow was aggressive in their purchases, relying on the automated price generated by their algorithm. Unlike many other programs, they purchased homes expecting to remodel and flip them for a healthy profit. Zillow invested heavily in this business model and in the first half of 2021 alone, Zillow Offers (their iBuyer program) raked in 1.47 billion in revenue but has yet to turn a profit.

Some buyers were thrilled with their offers, and many received more than expected. In fact, when you look behind the curtain, it appears that Zillow overpaid for many of the homes. They now have a huge inventory they must sell, most likely at a significant loss.

Analysts recently found that of the nearly 1000 homes Zillow recently listed for sale in its five primary markets, 64% were being marketed for less than the company paid. As a result, Zillow could be heading for massive losses in the millions from its iBuying operations.

Zillow entered the iBuyer fray as a way to grow the company. Zillow's original business model was focused on offering consumers a marketplace to sell buy or rent properties. It also marketed properties listed by agents where buyers could reach out to a local agent for information or to schedule a showing. The person reached was not always the listing agent but a Premier Agent who pays Zillow a fee to obtain leads.

Their original model produced mostly buyer leads. Zillow's iBuyer program attempted to generate more seller interest for their Premier Agents. The program was designed to grow their base of Premier Agents and the company's revenue stream.

Using Technology to Remove the Human Touch

Online buyers have existed for several years. While some have success using a computer-generated price and buying homes sight unseen, Zillow's model made a few mistakes.

Their Zestimate data and pricing algorithm was flawed, and this caused the company to overpay for many homes because it failed to take certain factors into account. For example, technology can't determine a property's condition which is a major factor when agents price a home.

While technology was a factor in Zillow's downfall, it wasn't the only one. Global supply chain issues and labor shortages also had a significant impact on the company's business model. When time is of the essence, these factors can be costly when the home needs improvements.

The final nail was Zillow analysis which determined that the iBuyer scale needed to be very large to be as profitable as they had hoped and, in the end, the company decided that this was something they did not want to pursue.

The Impact of the Failure of the Zillow iBuyer program on the Industry

Before Zillow shut down Offers, they tried to offload 7000 homes to an unnamed buyer (or buyer's) for $2.8 billion according to a Bloomberg report. While Zillow Offers was in limited markets, releasing this inventory to investors can exacerbate supply problems in those markets.

Many financial and real estate industry experts have theorized that the shuttering of Zillow Offers may be interpreted as a top to the recent frothy market. As it winds down, we may begin to see supply and demand stabilize. Zillow's business model proposing a national program was too ambitious. While Zillow is out of the game, the pool of local and regional iBuyers is still robust.

Zillow's suspension of iBuyer presented us with some interesting insights. While technology in real estate has helped immensely to educate buyers and improve the search process, the removal of human interaction has proven to be less effective.

Technology has improved our lives in many ways. However, an algorithm cannot replace human knowledge in the real estate process. Brokers and agents have a deep understanding of their local markets that an algorithm simply cannot match. Sometimes, a home that looks great in pictures can have issues that you need to see firsthand to understand. For example, the house might have an unpleasant pet-related smell or be located next to a home with a cluttered yard. These are factors that automated technology cannot factor in.

The bottom line is that Zillow is an excellent place to start your home search, but it should be the first step, not the entire process. The best solution is to reach out to a local real estate professional. They will know details about the local market, including homes not yet listed. They will also understand the nuances of their market or a particular home. It's still the best way to meet your needs as a home buyer or investor!

June
15

The Rental Market is on Fire. Is It Time To Buy?

The housing market has certainly been interesting in the past few years. The past year has seen limited supply and growing demand for the rental market and home sales. In fact, despite historically low-interest rates, the industry had an extraordinary booming year. 2021 showed the most significant annual gains in single-family house values and rental prices, low foreclosure rates, and the highest number of home sales in 15 years.

Rental prices kept pace with housing. Rental prices for single-family homes increased 7.8% in 2021, an all-time high according to CoreLogic. The rental market exploded as remote workers and young families fleeing the cities spurred double-digit increases in rental costs and squeezed supply.

With rental prices, home prices at all-time highs, and a tight housing supply, is it time to think about buying a home in 2022 instead of renting?

Some Housing Statistics to Think About

While the market in recent weeks has begun to cool a bit, it's still competitive. Since a home is likely one of the biggest purchases you'll make, it's essential to take some time and make an informed decision.

According to Redfin, as of June 30, 2021, the median sales price of a home in the U.S. was $386,888, a 24.8% year-over-year increase. The massive spike in demand in many markets has allowed for higher sale prices. This can often make it hard to decide whether to continue renting or purchase a home because you don't want to overpay.

Rental prices have also increased by double digits in most markets. According to Redfin, rents jumped more than 14% in December 2021, the most considerable rise in more than two years. However, in many major metropolitan markets, rents have skyrocketed. In Austin, Texas, New York City, Boston, several areas in Florida, and other cities throughout the country, rents have jumped by 35 to 40% year over year.

Add to this the fact that there is less housing available for sale or rent than in the past 30 years. With supply shortages worsening and growing inflation contributing to rising rental costs, it becomes difficult deciding whether to rent or buy.

While rental prices in the U.S. initially dropped when COVID-19 hit, prices rebounded strongly in 2021 and quickly outpaced pre-pandemic trends. As a result, rental prices have far outpaced wage increases.

The Housing Market in 2022 and Beyond

Housing market predictions are about as reliable as the five-day weather forecast. The truth is that no one can predict what will happen with 100% accuracy.

However, many industry experts predict continued strong price appreciation, scarce inventory, and high demand. Overall, the housing market is doing well and will most likely not crash in 2022. The trends and forecasts for the next 12-24 months show that the market will most likely stay strong, with many of the factors that drove prices to new highs in 2021 remaining firmly in place. Last year, homeowners saw a market where properties sold quickly and often above asking, as numerous buyers fought for limited inventory.

Last year prices increased by an unsustainable 18.8%. The market is even tighter than it was before the spring 2021 frenzy. Experts like Zillow increased their bullishness in January, predicting growth of up to 16.4% in 2022. They recently adjusted anticipated price growth to reach 22% by mid-year. However, price growth is expected to slow through February of 2023.

Fannie Mae is predicting that by mid-2023, price appreciation will return to the pre-pandemic rate of 5% annually. They also expect that mortgage rates will rise modestly, providing some relief to buyers as prices climb. Slowing price appreciation and potentially increased inventory could help avoid a crash in 2023. The main downside risk continues to be increasing inflation. As mortgage rates increase, refinancing activity will soften as rates gradually rise and the Fed works to tame inflation.

So Should Your Continue To Rent or Consider Buying a Home?

There is no single answer to this question, as there are both pros and cons to both options. However, there are a couple of factors to consider in your decision-making process. First are your finances. In a typical market renting is often the more affordable option. That being said, this is not a typical housing market. Rents have increased to the point where even as mortgage interest rates rise, buying a home might be a better option.

Ultimately, your choice depends on several considerations. One major factor is your personal finances.

In terms of lifestyle considerations, consider what is important to you. Are you seeking the flexibility to move if your career requires it, or are you looking for stability to put down roots in a place you can call your own? Here are five considerations to explore before you make a final decision on whether to rent or buy.

How Long Do You Plan to Live in the Same Place?

Are you planning on putting down roots in the community? If you're planning or have a family, are you happy with the schools? If you're sure you'll stay in the same place for at least five years, buying can make sense. It can be a good fit both personally and financially.

However, if you don't have kids or get that big promotion but it's halfway across the country, the smarter choice might be to rent. While you can buy a home and sell it in a few years if your situation changes, the costs like moving, closing costs, and repairs may not be worth it.

Look at the Cost of Renting VS Buying a Home

In the past, renting was almost always cheaper than buying a home because of the upfront costs involved, like the down payment, closing costs, moving expenses, and renovations. In today's market, rental prices have risen to the point where it may cost you more each month to rent than a mortgage payment. However, there are other ownership costs to consider, like property taxes, homeowners insurance, and HOA fees in some instances.

However, even in a traditional market, buying a home is almost always cheaper over the long term. According to the National Association of Realtors, a homeowner's mortgage payment is lower than that of a renter after six years. This assumes that the rent increases at 5% annually and the homeowner is paying a fixed monthly mortgage.

Mobility or Putting Down Roots

Things change. It can be hard to predict where life's road will take you. If you intend to stay in one place, close to family, or planning on raising a family, and you have the means, buying a home makes the most sense. Examine your current situation and whether it could change in the next few years. For example, if you're moving up in your career and an opportunity for a promotion comes up, but it is on the other side of the country, renting is probably the best choice. Think about your current lifestyle and where it will be before buying a home.

Finally, Assess Your Current Financial Situation

You need to be realistic about your financial situation when deciding between renting and buying. Once you analyze the costs involved, be honest about whether you can afford to own a home's upfront and ongoing expenses. The worst situation to be in is where you have a home but are cash poor and unable to enjoy life!

The Bottom Line On Buying A Home In Today's Market

Consider all the factors when deciding on buying a home or continuing to rent. Renting and buying both offer pros and cons. In reality, your lifestyle, future plans, and financial situation will be the primary factors to consider when making a decision. Speak with a Realtor® or your financial advisor if you need additional information or are unsure which choice is right for you.

June
13

New England Ski

New Hampshire's mountains: they're not just for winter. When it comes to summer fun, our real estate agents head for the hills and all the entertaining activities found at these wonderful local mountain resorts.

Click Here to Read More...

June
8

A Good Mortgage Rate Is Under 8% Historically Speaking

We have been enjoying historically low-interest rates for several years since the crash of 2008. In 2020 and 2021, mortgage interest rates fell to record lows. Because of COVID, the Federal Reserve's emergency actions helped push mortgage rates below 3% and kept them there.

Today in 2022, as the economy is trying to recover, mortgage interest rates are rising. The Federal Reserve has projected further tightening as they continue to intervene to get the money supply under control. That means interest rates will likely continue higher. The thirty-year rate briefly hit over 5% in April for the first time in a decade. If you're considering refinancing or buying a home, it might be wise to lock in a rate.

Historically, 30-year mortgage rates have averaged just under 8%. So even as today's rates inch past 5%, they are still a relatively good deal.

A Look Back For Perspective

Even with the recent rate increases, today's thirty-year mortgage rates are below average historically. Freddie Mac is the industry source for mortgage rates and has kept records for over 50 years. Between April 1971 and April 2022, the rate for a 30-year mortgage averaged 7.78%. So, today's rate, even at 5%, is still below the average.

In 1981, the mortgage rate was 16.63% on average. Rates reached an all-time high of 18.63% on October 9, 1981 – almost five times the 2019 annual rate. Here's some perspective:

  • At 16.63%, a $200,000 mortgage has a monthly cost of $2800 for principal and interest.
  • Compared with the historical average (7.78%), $2800 is an extra monthly cost of $1300 - $15,900 annually.
  • Just before the 2008 meltdown, rates sat at 6.03%. A $200,000 mortgage cost $1200 per month
  • By 2016, rates dropped to 3.65%. A $200,000 mortgage has a monthly cost of $915 in principal and interest.

In 2021 30-year mortgage rates plummeted as a result of the COVID pandemic. These record-low rates were a result of government policies to save the economy. Rates were never meant to sustain that level. The more world economies recover from the pandemic's economic effects, mortgage interest rates are likely to continue rising and approach their historical average.

The 2022 Rate Spike

In the first quarter of 2022, the rapid economic recovery and the Fed pulling back on stimulus programs caused rates to spike. According to Fannie Mae, the 30-year rate jumped from 3.76% to 5.11%. An increase of 1.35% in just eight weeks. Rates will likely continue to rise throughout the year as the Fed tightens. Where they'll peak is impossible to predict.

So, Is Buying A Home Still a Good Idea?

Even as interest rates creep up, it's important to remember that home loans are personalized to the buyer. Tracking mortgage rates can help you see trends, but not every buyer will benefit equally from today's rates.

Several factors are considered by lenders when you apply for a home loan. They include:

Credit Score – If your score is over 720, you'll have a better chance of securing a lower rate. Even if you have a sub-600 score, programs from the USDA, FHA, and VA loans are available. If you're planning on applying for a loan, it might be worth it to give yourself some time to improve your credit score. It could save you thousands of dollars over the life of your loan.

Down Payment – A higher down payment can lower your rate. Most mortgages, including FHA loans, require 3 or 3.5% down. Some loans like VA and USDA loans are available with a 0% down payment. If you make a 10 - 20% down payment, you might qualify for a conventional loan with low or no private mortgage insurance. This can reduce your monthly cost significantly!

Loan Type – The type of loan you receive will also affect your interest rate. However, this hinges on your credit score. For example, if your score is 580, you may only qualify for a government-backed loan like an FHA mortgage. FHA mortgages come with a lower interest rate but require mortgage insurance no matter how much you put down. Adjustable-rate mortgages typically offer lower introductory rates. However, those rates can change after an initial period.

Loan Term – While we have been focusing on the 30-year mortgage rate, with a 15-year mortgage, you would have a higher monthly payment, but they tend to have a lower interest rate. Even with a slightly higher monthly payment, a 15-year loan can save you thousands of dollars in interest throughout the life of the loan. For example, at 3% a $200,000 30-year loan would cost $103,000 in interest charges. A 15-year fixed would cost about $49,000 in interest.

Discount Points – You can purchase discount points to lower your interest rate. A discount point costs 1% of the home loan amount and reduces your interest rate by 0.25%. As an example, for a $200,000 loan, each discount point would cost $2000 upfront. However, the buyer recoups the investment over time thanks to the lower interest rate. Skip the discount points if you're planning on selling or refinancing within a few years.

The Bottom Line On Today's Mortgage Rates

For several decades, mortgage rates have been declining from their all-time highs. We have enjoyed historically low rates for over a decade, hitting a record low in 2021 due to the pandemic. Rates are on the rise but are still significantly below their historical average of 7.78%.

While it's a good idea to keep an eye on the daily rate changes in the market, if you are considering the purchase of a home and get a good mortgage rate quote today, don't hesitate to lock it in. With rates on the rise, if you can secure a 30-year mortgage rate below 5%, you're paying less than most American homebuyers throughout history! That's still a pretty good deal.

June
8

The past few years have been one of the hottest real estate markets in recent memory! While it might seem like the perfect time to sell a home, the fact is, selling your home is a big deal. Whether it's your first time selling or the fifth, a lot goes into listing and selling your home.

Selling a home is a major life choice that involves your most valuable asset. Knowing when to sell to maximize your return is a bit of an art. Unlike buying or selling stocks or bonds, your home carries a lot of emotional baggage. It's about much more than buying low and selling high.

Knowing that you are ready to sell is about more than waking up and making a decision. It's never going to be the perfect time to sell and move on. Deciding to sell isn't a market-driven issue, it is a lifestyle choice. However, there are several ways to recognize if it is a good decision for you, your family, and your financial health.

In this post, we will identify some signs that it might be a good time to sell, regardless of market conditions.

Before You Start The Process

While there are signs that it might be a good time to sell, the fact is most of us are emotionally connected to our homes. To know if it is the right time to sell, you should first consider the answers to these questions:

Do you have a plan?

Having a plan in place is crucial. You will want to consider several potential outcomes and what-if scenarios to be prepared. Including having a post-sale plan. If you are selling, you are probably also buying so the economics need to make sense. Are some what-ifs to consider:

  • What if you can't find a buyer?

Have a plan so, for example, if you can't find a buyer, you'll either need to find a new realtor or decide to rent your home out.

  • What if the inspection comes back with issues?

Are you prepared for a home inspection? It may make sense to have your home inspected before a buyer makes an offer and you go under contract. Taking a proactive approach can give you extra ammunition before negotiations begin.

  • You have a decent offer on the first day. What do you do?

Having a plan can help you decide if it's the right offer. Maybe you want to wait a day or two before responding. A good realtor will determine the fair market value and can help you handle this situation.

  • What if you have multiple offers?

Having multiple offers is a good thing that can go bad if not handled properly. First, make sure that everyone understands that there are multiple offers. Then set a time deadline for all best and final offers. Focus on communication, or it may come back to hurt you. A good agent will not only generate great offers but will also follow through.

Have You Studied Your Local Real Estate Market?

All real estate is local. When selling your home, knowledge is your best friend! Study your local market to understand the climate. Look at similar properties, how long they were on the market, and the prices realized. Understanding local market conditions can help you to make an informed decision.

Consider these five factors:

  1. Homes that have sold
  2. Prices realized
  3. days on the market
  4. Local trends
  5. Interest rates.

This information will help you determine if it's the right time to sell. Once you've looked at the factors outside of your control, it's time to look at the factors you control.

Are You Financially Ready to Sell?

If you have owned your home for a while, you probably have equity built up. Maybe you were a first-time buyer, and you're ready to upgrade, or maybe, an empty nester looking to downsize.

Having a handle on your finances will help you understand if it's the right time to sell. It also helps to have a post-sale plan for what's next. Knowing your net will help you understand what you can afford. Talk to your realtor and ask them for a home seller net sheet. This can help you understand the financial impact of selling.

Are You Ready For a Change?

A change of scenery can be a good thing. There are many reasons you may want or need to change location. Maybe you've outgrown your current place or need to relocate for a new job opportunity. People in the United States move on average every five to seven years for many different reasons.

If you're simply looking for a change of scenery, make sure you're committed to the change before listing your home. If you're on the fence, it's probably not the best time to sell. Sometimes, you have no choice, for example, relocating for work. If this is the case, make sure you have a plan, are financially ready, and are not emotionally attached to your home or neighborhood.

Are You Emotionally Ready to Sell?

It can be tough dealing with an emotionally invested seller. While you don't have to remove the sentimental value to sell, just don't allow it to influence your decision-making process. If you can't control your emotions, it might not be the best idea to sell.

Before beginning the sales process, you must be 100% committed to your decision. Once you close, there's no turning back. Your home is no longer yours it belongs to someone else. Make sure you can handle that and are ready to move on to another chapter in your life. Most importantly, be open and upfront with your realtor!

Has Your Family Outgrown Your Current Home?

Outgrowing your home is common for first-time homebuyers or young families. This can be the perfect time to sell and find a new place with more room to grow. However, outgrowing your home doesn't necessarily mean it's the right time to sell. Have a post-sale plan, and make sure you are financially ready to transition to a new bigger house.

Some Final Thoughts...

A lot goes into reaching the decision to sell your family home. You want to make sure you have the time, knowledge, finances, and a plan of attack. If you're not 100% committed or worried that it might not be the right time to sell, you're probably right.

You'll know when it's time. Consult with a local real estate expert who can help. They will tell explain all your options. Speak with several professionals before choosing the right person to work with.

There are a lot of realtors in the world, and they are not all the same! Ask them about their marketing, understand their selling process, and ask them how they will generate buyer leads for your property.

Selling a home requires you to work with a realtor that you trust. The goal should be to get the most money for your home and set the stage so that buyers who view your property will fall in love. While you remain emotionally detached when selling a home, your goal is to create an environment that buyers can envision living in.

Paint your home with neutral colors, remove personal items, and declutter to create more room in your home for buyers to visualize. Here are some additional tips to help make the process go smoothly:

  • Settle any financial obligations
  • Declutter
  • Deep clean
  • De-personalize
  • Talk with a lender

Chatting with a lender can help you know whether or not you'll be able to secure a new mortgage as well as where your credit score stands.

Selling your home is a highly personal decision. The better prepared you are, and the more questions you've answered, the easier it will be to make the decision to sell. If you're still unsure, talk to a local realtor to better understand the trends in the local market and all your options!

June
7

Minor League Baseball

Summer in Northern New England is always an enjoyable time. And an evening spent on the baseball diamond makes the summer season even more memorable.

Our real estate agents share what makes them so passionate about the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, our region's minor league team.

Team History and Highlights

It may be hard to believe now, but by the time the 2000s rolled around, professional baseball had yet to establish a presence in New Hampshire. A new era was born in 2003 when Drew Weber bought the New Haven (CT) Ravens and moved them to Manchester. 

Management turned the naming situation into a public relations opportunity by conducting a "Name the Team" promotion. Fisher Cats, a nod to the furry forest-dwelling mammal, ultimately won out over Millers, Mountain Men, and Granite.

In July 2008, the Fisher Cats had the honor of hosting the Eastern League All-Star Game and Home Run Derby. The Midsummer Classic returned to Manchester in 2011 and again in 2017, celebrating the million-dollar renovation of Northeast Delta Dental Stadium.

Since 2004, nearly 150 Fisher Cats have gone on to play in the major leagues. This illustrious group includes Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Cavan Biggio, and Bo Bichette, second-generation players who were the most highly anticipated rookies of recent years.

The Fisher Cats' significance to New Hampshire goes beyond sports and entertainment. In addition to maintaining partnerships with Children's Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock and the Ted Williams Museum, the team has conducted numerous fundraising activities over the years, resulting in millions of dollars in charitable contributions. 

Affiliations and Titles

The Fisher Cats are a Double-A team in the Northeast Division of the Eastern League. In their previous existence as the New Haven Ravens, the team went through affiliations with the Colorado Rockies, Seattle Mariners, and St. Louis Cardinals, earning a single league championship in 2000.

Since moving to Manchester, the team has been affiliated with the American League's Toronto Blue Jays. The team has claimed three division titles, in 2003, 2004, and 2011, along with league championships in 2004, 2008, and 2011.

Northeast Delta Dental Stadium

During the inaugural season in 2004, they played their home games in Gill Stadium, one of the oldest concrete-and-steel ballparks in the country. But that was just a temporary home, as they moved to the newly constructed Fisher Cats Stadium the following year. 

Known for a time as Merchantsauto.com Stadium, the venue gained its current name thanks to a partnership with Northwest Delta Dental, a major insurance company. The stadium features an open concourse design that lets fans keep an eye on the game wherever they are.

Here are some of the modern amenities that make Northeast Delta Dental Stadium such a popular destination:

  • Seating capacity is 6,500, more than double that of Gill Stadium. The park really stretched its limits on May 26, 2009, when a record crowd of 8,903 came to watch Hall of Fame pitcher John Smoltz make a rehab start with the Portland Sea Dogs.

  • The venue is the only ballpark in the country that shares its location with a hotel. Out-of-town visitors can enjoy the convenience of the Hilton Garden Inn, situated just past the stadium's outfield.

  • With its great view overlooking left field, Samuel Adams Brewhouse is the place to be. Open two hours before game time, the full-service restaurant includes an 85-foot mahogany bar, 11 high-definition LCD TVs, and a made-to-order menu. The Tiki Bar Stage hosts live music every Thursday through Saturday.

  • The upper level holds 32 luxury suites. Perks include a basic food and beverage package, individual climate control, two VIP parking passes, and a visit from either Fungo or Slider, the team's mascots. Having a work function or other large gathering? There are two private 100-person party decks behind first and third bases.

  • Dinner on Deck is an exclusive section right alongside the field with four 4-person tables. Guests enjoy table service, complimentary drinks, and snacks, and VIP parking passes.

Promotions and Giveaways

In minor league baseball, nearly every game is a special event, which is one of the reasons why it's such a family-friendly activity. Mark your calendar for these exciting upcoming promotions and giveaways:

  • Monday, July 4 @ 7:05 p.m. vs. Hartford Yard Goats - Independence Day Fireworks

  • Friday, July 22 @ 7:05 p.m. vs. Portland Sea Dogs - Christmas in July, with a Christmas socks giveaway

  • Friday, August 5 @ 7:05 p.m. vs. Richmond Flying Squirrels - Sumo Wrestling Night

  • Sunday, August 14 @ 1:35 p.m. vs. Erie SeaWolves - Puzzle Day, with a 3D stadium puzzle giveaway

Individual tickets range from $10-$16, with a $2 discount for advance purchase.

Ready to round the bases and head for your new Northern New England home? Contact us at The Masiello Group to get started.

June
1

You've been dreaming of homeownership, have spent years preparing financially, and spent months searching for the perfect home. You finally found it, negotiated a price, and signed a purchase and sale agreement with the seller. Now, the seller wants to call things off—years of dreaming, months of planning, and piles of paperwork, all for nothing.

It doesn't often happen; however, it can be heartbreaking when it does! Why would a real estate seller have a sudden change of mind, and do you have any legal recourse?

In this post, we'll examine some of the reasons a seller might back out of a Purchase and Sale Agreement, the impact of a seller backing out of the deal, and what recourse you might have.

First, Take a Breath and Consider the Situation

Before you run out and lawyer up, take a breath and consider the situation on a human level. If your finances are in order, you've been upfront and interested in moving forward emotions, or a situational change may be behind the seller's change of heart.

Try to determine the seller's reason for putting their home on the market. For example, if the sellers were planning to move into a senior facility because one of them was seriously ill. But they made a miraculous recovery; there is little you can say to convince them to sell.

However, sometimes the seller just doesn't trust you to make good on the deal and has second thoughts. Maybe they have a reason to believe you can't make the down payment or get a mortgage approval, and they don't want to take their home off a hot market for long enough to find out. In this case, sit down and provide whatever evidence you need to allay their fears.

Another common situation is that the home is historically or personally significant emotionally (maybe it has been in the family for generations). The seller is concerned that you properly care for the home. Sit down with the seller and explain that you will honor the home's historical significance. Explain your plan to enhance the historical significance of the dwelling.

Sometimes, the seller got a better offer and decided they'd rather sell to that person. Yes, it's unethical, but it happens. Your legal solutions depend on where you are in the process.

Six Ways A Seller Can Walk Away From A P&S Agreement

If you have a verbal agreement, or the details in the purchase and sale are not met, a seller can walk away at any point. The P&S has legal value and backing out can be complicated. It's something most sellers and buyers want to avoid. Here are six examples of when a seller can walk away before closing:

  1. The contract has not been signed.
  2. A Standard contract provides for a 5-day attorney review period which provides a window for the seller, or buyer, to cancel.
  3. The seller has planted a contingency in the P&S, like a clause stipulating that they must find a replacement home before moving out.
  4. If the buyer doesn't stick to the terms of the agreement.
  5. If a buyer pushes the seller to do repair work that he is unwilling to do.
  6. Any unfortunate incident which turns their life around – like a seller getting sick.

If the deal is not finalized, it's easy for either party to back out. However, once a purchase and sale agreement are signed, backing out can have consequences for the seller.

The Consequences of Backing Out of a Signed Purchase and Sale

There are affects a seller faces when they back out without cause. They open themselves up to both legal and financial consequences.

A seller is subject to legal consequences if they back out of a deal after both parties sign a contract. The ball is in the buyer's court. They have a choice. They can sue to move forward with the transaction or withdraw their offer. Agents may also sue for breach of contract as they are at financial risk of losing their commission.

As a buyer, you have the option of suing for breach of contract. Judges often order the seller to sign over the deed and complete the sale. You can also sue for damages, but most buyers choose to sue for the property.

The seller is also subject to some serious financial consequences. The judge may allow the seller to keep the property, however, the seller will need to adjust the expenses incurred by the buyer during the entire period of house showing and legal work. They must also return any security deposit. The seller often also must pay the buyer's legal fees, along with their own, which could be a harsh penalty.

Create A Comprehensive Purchase and Sale Agreement

The purchase and sale is the contract that bears the details. A well-written purchase and sale contain clauses in clear language as to when a buyer or seller can back out of a sale without legal consequences.

One of the most frequently asked questions is if a seller can back out should they get a better offer from another potential buyer. A purchase and sale agreement protects you. Once an offer has been accepted and a contract signed, a seller can no longer accept another offer. That being said, it could happen, but the truth is that buyers often have more to lose, along with disappointment if a sale falls short because of a seller.

The purchase and sale agreement provides protection to both parties. Few legal options can provide an escape without penalties both legal and financial. A well-written and negotiated purchase and sale can certainly reduce the chances to back out of an agreement.

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