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Changes in the Mortgage Market Since Covid-19
It’s been difficult to adjust to a new normal during the past several weeks. With most residents being asked to stay at home, there are many who have recently lost their jobs or been asked to work remotely. The mortgage industry has also taken a big hit that has directly affected homeowners, renters, and investors alike.
There are many who are in the final stages of closing on their homes, and the current pandemic has made it difficult to efficiently move forward with the process. To help, desktop appraisals are being accepted as long as there is sufficient property information available online. Potential borrowers can also now submit their verification of employment via email, paystub, or bank statement to help streamline the process.
Significant changes have been made during the recent outbreak of COVID-19 to help homeowners get through this trying time. Those who have lost their jobs may be eligible for reduced or suspended mortgage payments for up to 12 months while they regain their footing and find new employment. All foreclosure sales and evictions have also been suspended for 60 days to give borrowers a chance to catch up on their payments. Homeowners who are behind on their mortgage will also receive help to create a plan to maintain or reduce their monthly payments moving forward.
Renters who are currently unable to make their monthly rent payments are advised to reach out directly to their landlords. Owners of these properties will be given mortgage forbearance by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac if they suspend all evictions for renters that have been directly affected by COVID-19. This plan is directly designed to prevent tenants from being evicted because they are unable to pay their rent due to a recent loss of their job.
One benefit of the recent changes in the mortgage market is that interest rates have been near an all-time low, and it may be an excellent time to buy your first home or refinance your current mortgage. If you’ve had your eye on the market for a while now and want to take advantage of the current interest rates, it’s the perfect time to call your loan officer and start the process of locking in your rate before interest rates start to increase again.
It can be hard to keep track of all the changes; Lenders are working around the clock to answer all your questions and will support you in any way that they can. With a little patience, and planning for a little extra time during the escrow process, now is a great time to make that home purchase! Give your lender a call if you need help or have any specific questions regarding your loan.
Erica Kaestner, Realtor
Intero Real Estate Services
Have You Outgrown Your Home?
Many homeowners are surprised when they suddenly realize that the “perfect” home from just a few years ago no longer suits their needs. From an expanding family to an empty nest, it’s common for a home to no longer be the right fit. If you’re unsure if you’ve reached the point where a move is warranted, here are a few signs you’ve outgrown your home.
• More Kids than Rooms or More Rooms than Kids – Life changes and our homes must change to fit our season of life.
• Clutter or Lack of Storage – Do you need more closet or storage space? A home with more space could be the answer.
• Home Office – More and more companies are opting for telecommuting or home office workers. If your kitchen is your office, it might be time to look for a new home with extra room for a home office.
• Outdoor Entertaining – Home design trends over the last couple of decades has seen a rise in outdoor living and entertaining areas. You might have simply outgrown your yard if you crave space for an outdoor living or dining area.
• Lifestyle – The square footage might be fine, but you would prefer a different floor plan; more open, single story, more windows, etc. Your reasons for moving will be as unique as you are, but these are just a few considerations which indicate you might have outgrown your current home.
Make sure your home still meets your needs and wants, then you’ll be able to decide if it’s time to move!
5 Questions Sellers Have about the Market during the Coronavirus Outbreak Answered
There are so many questions and concerns amid the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak. The real estate market is especially hard hit and sellers are concerned. Real estate at its core is a people business. It relies on person-to-person interaction and the coronavirus necessarily limits this contact. As the spring selling season gets started, home sellers will have questions and it’s important to acknowledge concerns and offer practical advice and concrete information to help sellers make the best decision for themselves and their families.
1. Should I still try and sell my home? – Of course, there are many aspects to this question. First and foremost, the health concerns of the sellers’ family have to be taken into consideration. Unless absolutely necessary, the elderly and those with underlying health issues should not allow unnecessary people into their homes; including buyers and agents. If the household is essentially healthy and not considered high-risk, then this could be a great time to sell. Consider the advantages of lower inventory coupled with low-interest rates; as listings become rarer, the remaining inventory will get more attention which could create better offers.
2. Is it safe to have people through my home? – This is certainly a concern, but there are practical steps you can take to ensure safer home showings.
3. What can I do to protect my family during showings? – Protect the home, family and visitors alike by taking the following precautions:
a.) Keep hand sanitizer at the front door to offer buyers and their agents when they enter the home.
b.) If there is a guest bathroom, keep disposable hand towels and soap for guests to use and make the request known to the showing agent.
c.)Offer disposable gloves for use with a receptacle for used gloves.
d.) Limit the showing days and hours so you can properly clean between showings.
e.) Have cleaning wipes handy. Request agents to wipe surfaces, door handles, and banisters which are touched during the showing.
f. ) Ask your agent to offer virtual showings or host virtual open houses
4. What happens if my buyer loses their job? – Most real estate contracts include a contingency for the buyer loan approval and funding. Now more than ever, it’s critical to keep that contingency in place. In the unfortunate event the buyer loses their job or can no longer qualify for the loan during the contingency deadline, the parties cancel typically cancel the contract.
5. Will I get a higher price if I wait to list my home? – The truth is no one knows. We don’t know how long or short the crisis will be and we don’t know how the financial market will weather the outbreak. While this is a question the seller will ultimately need to decide, the old adage about a “bird in the hand” is important to remember.
This spring selling season has proven to have unique circumstances – please contact your real estate agent to learn more about the current outlook and opportunities in your local market.
5 Questions Buyers Have During the Coronavirus Outbreak Answered
Everyone is being affected in some manner by the outbreak of Covid-19 coronavirus. During this time, buyers will have more questions than normal about the home buying process and their ability to buy a new home. While we can’t predict what the next few weeks and months will bring, the more we can educate ourselves, the better we can help buyers navigate the buying process smoothly during the pandemic. Here are a few common buyer questions as they related to the Coronavirus outbreak and real estate answered.
1. Can we still go see home listings in person? – This is the hardest question to answer and it will depend on the home, the seller, the agent and any fast-changing governmental policies put in place. Agents should be able to offer a Skype or Face Time home tour virtually. Talk to your agent to find out what they have available for the buyers to prescreen the home virtually before setting up the visit; they might have virtual tours already available online which can help rule out those that don’t suit their needs. Unfortunately Realtors have not been deemed essential employees, so in states that have imposed mandatory shelter in place orders, agents’ must heavily rely on virtual showings.
2. How can I stay safe while visiting homes? – Everyone’s health has to be the priority; this includes the buyers, sellers, and agents. If you are going to see a home in person during this time, carry hand sanitizer and wipes to use before, during and after the tour. Drive separately from your agent meet at the homes. During the tour, designate one person to open doors, drawers, and closets and use disposable gloves during the showing. Remember to keep 6 feet of space between you and the next person. Keep in mind, in-person tours are only permitted where there is not a shelter in place order.
3. What happens if I lose my job during the escrow period? –Most real estate contracts include a loan contingency that protects the buyer in the event they can’t get final loan approval and close the loan. Typically during the process, this contingency is removed after a set time frame, or after receiving the loan approval. Since every aspect of real estate is negotiable, consider asking for the contingency deadline to be extended and in place until the close; talk through this aspect with the seller and their agent in advance to set the right expectation.
4. Will I still have access to the home during the escrow period? – It is usually a very exciting time for the buyer to have access to the home during the escrow period; home inspections, appraisals and just measuring. Currently, appraisers and home inspectors are still considered essential employees, and are permitted to continue to work. If you are comfortable having your home inspector conduct their inspection and provide you with a detailed report and pictures, that should be provided to you. If you are in a state that is currently under a mandatory stay-in-place order, preventing you from scheduling in-person tours, consider writing your offer contingent upon visiting the home in-person.
5. Will I get a better deal if I wait to buy a home? – We all know there’s no crystal ball, but with everything that’s going on, sellers on the market should be very motivated to sell. There are also historically low-interest rates on home loans. There is no way to predict the future, so if the right home comes along, it makes sense to consider it. The Covid-19 outbreak is causing some uncertainty among home buyers, sellers, and even agents. However, with the use of technology and following best practices, you can still find the home you’ve been waiting for during this time.
1. Pick Out Your Favorite First.
When looking at tile options, you will likely find one that you immediately fall in love with. If you find yourself picturing the rest of your bathroom based off a tile, choose that tile and use it as your starting point.
2. Keep It Simple.
Depending on your bathroom, you might have floor tile, wall/accent tile, and bath tile. Try to use no more than 3 different types of tile, and do your best to keep it to 2. You will have trouble matching tiles the more you choose and tiles that differ too much in a small space can make it feel cluttered. If you ever plan to resell your home, choosing too many tile options or choosing extremely decorative tile can date your bathroom quickly and might end up costing you during the selling process.
3. Consider Maintenance.
Have you ever had a bathroom where it felt impossible to clean certain parts? Keep that in mind when choosing your tile. Consider the amount of maintenance it will require. If you prefer little to no maintenance, choose either a porcelain or ceramic option. If upkeep isn’t a big deal to you, natural stone is an option for you as well.
The hardest part is choosing. Instead of doubting yourself, take that tile you first fell in love with a see if you can imagine a bathroom styled around that tile. If you can, go for it!
Erica Kaestner, Realtor
Authentic, Local, Experienced
Predicting the housing market should be an Olympic event; everyone loves to predict the ups and downs of the real estate market. As we enter 2020 consumers are wondering if it’s a good time to buy? What can home buyers expect this year and is it time to move?
Housing Market Trends 2020
Most analysts agree that 2020 should see a continuation of the momentum which built in 2019. The foundation for growth is strong with low unemployment numbers, higher household incomes and high consumer confidence. Additionally, we are starting to see more Millennials enter the housing market than ever before.
More and more investors are realizing the value of adding real estate to their portfolios. Shunting the hassle of owning rental properties, many of these investors, as well as new participants, are turning to REITs for investment diversification. REITs that are based on hard assets provide stability as well as liquidity, making them very popular. The types of properties held in these funds is changing also. In addition to commercial and large scale buildings, many funds are adding smaller homes to their portfolio – taking advantage of the growing down-sizing trend as Baby Boomers move to their next home.
Market Picture for Buyers
Overall, buyers should find a nice selection of homes from which to choose. Interest rates are expected to remain reasonable and home prices should flatten a bit with the increased inventory of homes. All-in-all, 2020 should be a continuation of the past year with no extreme moves expected in the market.
Erica Kaestner, Realtor
Intero Real Estate Services
Many homeowners are surprised when they suddenly realize that “perfect” home of just a few years ago no longer suits their needs. From an expanding family to the empty nest, it’s common for a home to no longer be the right fit. If you’re unsure if you’ve reached the point where a move is warranted, here are a few signs you’ve outgrown your home.
• More Kids than Rooms or More Rooms than Kids – Life changes and our homes must change also.
• Clutter or Lack of Storage – Do you need more closet or storage space? Tired of clutter, but no place to store anything? A home with more space or better use of storage could be the answer.
• Home Office – More and more companies are opting for telecommuting or home office workers, if your kitchen is your office, it might be time to look for a new home with extra room for a home office.
• Outdoor Entertaining – Home design trends over the last couple decades has seen a rise in outdoor living and entertaining areas. You might have simply outgrown your yard if you crave space for an outdoor living or dining area.
• Lifestyle – The square footage might be fine, but you would prefer a different floorplan; more open, single story, more windows, etc. Your reasons for moving will be as unique as you are, but these are just a few considerations which indicate you might have outgrown your current home. Make sure your home still meets your needs and wants, then you’ll be able to decide if it’s time to move.
ERICA KAESTNER, REALTOR
Intero Real Estate Services
3 Must-Do’s Before Listing Your House for Sale
Before you list your home for sale, it’s time to do a little work around the house – to prepare and make sure your home is seen in the best possible light. These “must-do” items are about showing your home to buyers as one which is cared for and ready for them to add their own brand of home to the space. Taking a little time up front can mean thousands of dollars as buyers start writing their offers.
1. Declutter, Depersonalize and Clean – This is the time to take spring cleaning seriously, in any season. Clear out all unnecessary items from the home; closets, drawers, extra clothes, old unwanted furniture. Donate to charity, hire a dumpster or rent a storage space; buyers will look in every space and open all drawers and cabinets, make sure your home seems spacious. Spend some time to depersonalize by removing excessive pictures and hide heirlooms. Finally, deep clean every space top to bottom. This is a great time to get a head start on packing up some items that you can live without for the time being. I like to tell my clients- if your home feels too bare for you, it’s probably just right!
2. Address Deferred Maintenance – Make small repairs or hire a handyman to take care of problems which could appear during the home inspection. Replace caulking, fix broken windows and screens, replace light bulbs and freshen up and clean grout; buyers want to see a home that is cared for with “good bones.”
3. Go for Curb Appeal – Spend some time in the yard. Trim bushes and trees, clean and repair hardscape and make sure there is adequate lighting. Welcome your buyers with seasonal flowers or décor and place a fresh mat by the front door. Before you put that sign in the front yard, spend a little time and elbow grease to make sure you welcome your potential buyers with the best version of your home!
Remember, you do not have to got at it alone! Consult with your Realtor to get some direction as to which tasks are most important. A little help will ensure that you are getting the most bang for your buck and time!
ERICA KAESTNER- Full Service Realtor
Intero Real Estate Services
Everyone wants to time their home purchase “just right.” Ideally, the picture perfect “buyer’s market” means plenty of well-priced listings, low interest rates and a slow moving real estate market where the buyer has plenty of time to decide on an offer. The reality is that the current market is a fast paced environment where the best homes move quickly and serious home buyers need to be prepared to act when they find the right home. Fortunately, starting your home search the right way is easy by following these simple steps:
1. Find a Lender and Get Pre-Approved – Know what you can afford before you start your search. By getting a pre-approval letter, you demonstrate to sellers that you are serious when you write your offer and it proves you can afford the home. Finding a trustworthy and talented mortgage lender is easy- just ask me for my team referral!
2. Research Neighborhoods – Each community will have their own personality and advantages; before you spend time looking at homes, choose the right area for your lifestyle and family needs. If you are unfamiliar with the areas you have to choose from, we will spend time touring neighborhoods before looking at individual homes.
3. Pick the Right Home Style – Learn about the various home styles available in your community. Do you want a single story? Large yard? Do you like older homes or historic style properties? Are you open to doing some of the updates yourself or would you prefer a move-in ready home?
4. Make a List of Must Have and Like-to-Have – There is a difference! Make a list and be ready to compromise when appropriate by ranking the items.
5. Take Notes – Often a home buyer can see 6-7 homes in a single day; Take notes and if possible, take pictures so you can remember the things you like, and don’t like, about the homes you see once you get home. In a fast paced real estate market, spending some time preparing for your home search will help you move quickly when you find the right home for you and your family.
Remember, don’t sweat! This is one of the most exciting transactions of your life and I am here to guide you along the way.
Erica Kaestner, full service Realtor
Intero Real Estate Services