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Homeownership

How buyers are competing in a tight housing market

(HOMEOWNERSHIP) It’s a seller’s market with housing supply at an all-time low. Here’s what buyers are doing to increase their chances of buying a home.

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family in their living room with moving boxes during the competitive housing market

Home inventory is at an all-time low in most places around the country. Most people believe that the COVID-19 pandemic is responsible. Families are staying put in their homes, rather than looking for a new place to live. Sellers and realtors are winning in this highly competitive market, making us wonder how buyers are faring.

Cash is king

According to the NAR, cash sales are up by an average of 21%. Buyers are hoping that cash makes their offer more attractive. Closing without a loan has a lot of benefits to the seller. The sale is more likely to close, as it isn’t dependent on a loan. Plus, there are fewer costs involved in the closing. Since 2013, cash sales haven’t been trending upward, so this is an interesting turn for sellers. Buyers who make cash offers reduce the risk of getting rejected by the seller.

Buyers making larger down payments

Sellers also benefit when buyers make a 20% down payment or more. A higher down payment increases the chance of getting a loan. According to the NAR, almost 50% of buyers are making a down payment of at least 20%, which is up from 40% of buyers in 2011. Buyers avoid mortgage insurance premiums, which makes it a win-win for everyone.

Buyers aren’t even offering or negotiating

The third way buyers are coping in this market is to back off and not even make an offer when they know a home already has competition. Why get your hopes up, only to have them dashed when you can’t negotiate?

Will supply return?

The good news is that the housing supply outlook is on the increase. As vaccinations roll out and people feel safer to show their home, more homes should come on the market. Housing permits are up, too. This should help even out the market and give buyers a better chance to find a home.

Dawn Brotherton is a Staff Writer at The American Genius, and has an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Central Oklahoma. Before earning her degree, she spent over 20 years homeschooling her two daughters, who are now out changing the world. She lives in Oklahoma and loves to golf. She hopes to publish a novel in the future.

Homeownership

Remodeling projects like these increase a home’s value the most

(HOMEOWNERSHIP) Knowing which remodeling projects to tackle when a home is being put on the market can save a lot of wasted effort and money.

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remodeling

If you’re looking to help your clients to identify which projects to tackle before putting their home on the market, look no further: the National Association of Realtors surveyed thousands of real estate agents, industry professionals, and consumers on interior and exterior house remodeling projects, and these are the best projects for upping a home’s value before listing it on the market, ranked on the most value and cost recovery a homeowner can get.

  • Refinishing hardwood floors. Start from the bottom to earn top dollar. Refinishing floors transform a home from worn-out and aging to vibrant and inviting, and only costs about $2500 according to the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI). The project also increases a home’s value by that same amount, meaning a homeowner can recover 100 percent of the costs. Pretty sweet deal.
  • Upgrading insulation. Because it’s what’s inside that counts. This project costs about $2100 based on NARI Remodeler’s estimate and increases a home’s value by $2000 according to Realtors surveyed. That’s a 95% cost recovery.
  • Adding new wood floors. If you don’t have wood floors to refinish, add them in! This costs about $5,500 according to NARI Remodelers, and the increased sales value is $5000. A homeowner can recover 91% of costs from a new wood floor addition.
  • Replacing HVAC system. A new HVAC system adds energy efficiency and refreshes the entire home, and NARI Remodelers estimate doing so costs $7000. The increased value for sellers is $5000 according to NAR REALTORS, meaning an easy breezy 71% cost recovery for homeowners.
  • Converting a basement into a living area. Not only is this cost and space-efficient, it’s also undeniably trendy. A basement makeover costs about $36,000 according to NARI Remodelers estimate and increases value for sellers by $25,000 according to Realtors surveyed. That comes out to a cost recovery of 69%.

Which projects are the most costly?

In case you’re curious, these are some of the most expensive remodeling projects:

  • New master suite. More like master $uite – this costs about $112,500 with a cost recovery of 53%. 
  • Converting an attic into a living area. Cute idea, but also a $65,000 one with a 61% cost recovery. One might say the price is through the roof.
  • Complete kitchen renovation. This project costs an estimated $60,000 with a 67% cost recovery. Even more if you want to throw in a brick oven, and you probably do.
  • New bathroom. With an estimated cost of $50,000 and a 52% cost recovery, make sure you aren’t flushing money down the drain with your bathroom addition!

These trends change over the years, so make sure your knowledge is up to date locally since we all know local trends trump national. Hopefully today you’ve garnered some ammo to help clients better understand how to improve their home’s value!

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Homeownership

Marriage is happening later in the US and the reason is not what you think

(HOMEOWNERSHIP) It’s seemingly later and later that Americans are getting married. You may have ideas as to why, but the reasoning is not what you think.

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marriage move in

As we know, homeownership is a cornerstone of American family life. Homes provide long-term financial stability as a major investment for homeowners. Furthermore, they also provide a strong environment in which to raise a family; so many of us have fond memories of running around our backyards or cozying up in the family room. So, it stands to reason that homeownership and marriage are tied together; many couples will buy a home soon before or soon after marriage.

With all that said, some of the following statistics may be alarming, as it points to a trend that may play into the delay of homeownership.

Lots of data gathered over the past few years shows Americans are marrying later and later, if at all, according to a report from The Guardian. Today, Half of American adults are married, compared to 75% in 1960. The disparities are mostly consistent with class divisions.

Per the Guardian article, “26% of poor adults are married, compared with 51% in 1990.” That same study found 39% of the modern working class of adults are married, but that number was 57% in the 90s.

Education is closely tied with financial status, so an education disparity is also present. Today, 50% of adults with a high school are married; that rate was over 60% 25 years ago.

As the Guardian puts it, “Young people are increasingly seeing marriage as a “capstone” rather than a “cornerstone” event, a crowning achievement once other goals have been reached, rather than a launchpad for adulthood.”

That achievement is financial stability, and many more Americans are feeling a financial crunch.

There’s data to back this up, too. For example, a poll found “nearly half of never-married adults with incomes under 30k say being financially insecure is a major reason” behind their lack of marital commitment to a partner.

Part of a steady income is a steady job, and past Pew Research found 78 of never-married women wanted a future partner to have a steady job.

A decline in manufacturing jobs is contributing to this as well, per some economic research on the subject, which may help to explain how the steepest drops in marriage rates come from the lower and middle class.

It’s not unreasonable to speculate that major living costs factor into that decision as well. For example, with real estate prices going up around the country, especially in major cities with strong job markets, the capstone that is owning a home is pushed farther away from the average American.

If marriage and homeownership are so closely tied together, the delay of one may also contribute to a delay in the other.

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Homeownership

Bank of America helps income-restricted homebuyers with $5B program

(HOMEOWNERSHIP) Bank of America is offering assistance to low to moderate-income homebuyers by reducing their mortgage and upfront home-buying costs.

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Front of Bank of America location

The Bank of America announced that it is expanding its affordable homeownership initiative to help low to moderate-income homebuyers find their dream home. The Bank of America Community Homeownership Commitment® started in 2019 with $5 billion.

According to the press release, the program has already helped almost 21,000 individuals and families purchase homes by helping with down payments and closing costs through grants. When combined with other programs designed to help first-time homebuyers, the upfront costs of owning a home are significantly reduced. This information is beneficial for Realtors working with first-time or low to moderate-income homebuyers and can help provide more options for this clientele.

Bank of America’s grant programs

Bank of America features two grant programs to help homebuyers. Grants do not require repayment, giving homebuyers with lower incomes a foot in the door.

Down Payment grants – eligible homebuyers can receive 3% of the home’s purchase price up to $10,000 (whichever is less) toward the purchase of their home.
America’s Home Grant® program – credit towards closing costs of up to $7500 or to buy down the interest rate.

According to Bank of America, these two grant programs can be used together. The average homebuyer receives about $14,000 toward their home purchase, but some can receive up to $17,500 towards their dream home.

Homeownership is the American dream

Maya Angelou said, “The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.” Homeownership doesn’t just benefit families, it benefits communities. Bank of America isn’t the first financial institution to offer programs to help homebuyers with down payments and closing costs.

The housing market might be competitive right now, but homebuyers can still find houses where they can set down roots. It pays to look around for options to help low- to moderate-income shoppers find resources that assist them in reducing their mortgage and homebuying costs.

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