5 Real Estate Reality TV Myths Explained



Have you ever been flipping through the channels, only to find yourself glued to the couch in an HGTV binge session? We’ve all been there, watching entire seasons of shows like “Property Brothers,” “Fixer Upper,” and “Love It or List It,” all in one sitting.
When you’re in the middle of your real estate-themed TV show marathon, you might start to think everything you see on the screen must be how it works in real life. However, you may need a reality check.

Reality TV Show Myths vs. Real Life:

Myth #1: Buyers look at 3 homes and decide to purchase one of them.Truth: There may be buyers who fall in love and buy the first home they see, but according to the National Association of Realtors, the average homebuyer tours 10 homes as a part of their search.  
Myth #2: The houses the buyers are touring are still for sale.Truth: Everything is staged for TV. Many of the homes shown are already sold and are off the market. 
Myth #3: The buyers haven’t made a purchase decision yet.Truth: Since there is no way to show the entire buying process in a 30-minute show, TV producers often choose buyers who are further along in the process and have already chosen a home to buy. 
Myth #4: If you list your home for sale, it will ALWAYS sell at the open house.Truth: Of course, this would be great! Open houses are important to guarantee the most exposure to buyers in your area, but they are only one piece of the overall marketing of your home. Keep in mind, many homes are sold during regular showing appointments as well. 
Myth #5: Homeowners decide to sell their homes after a 5-minute conversation.Truth: Similar to the buyers portrayed on the shows, many of the sellers have already spent hours deliberating the decision to list their homes and move on with their lives and goals.

Bottom Line

Having an experienced professional on your side while navigating the real estate market is the best way to guarantee you can make the home of your dreams a true reality.

A Latte a Day Keeps Homeownership Away



Some Highlights:

  • You may be tempted to spend your extra cash on a daily caffeine fix, but that small expense can add up to a big number – fast!
  • Saving for a down payment takes a little discipline, so limiting your extra purchases (like a latte a day from your favorite coffee shop) will help you get there faster.
  • Depending on where you live, putting away just a small amount each day will get you to the average down payment you may need for homeownership faster than you think.

Top Priorities When Moving with Kids



With school-aged children in your home, buying or selling a house can take on a whole different approach when it comes to finding the right size, location, school district, and more.
Recently, the 2019 Moving with Kids Report from the National Association of Realtors®(NAR) studied “the different purchasing habits as well as seller preferences during the home buying and selling process.” This is what they found:

When Purchasing a Home

The major difference between the homebuyers who have children and those who do not is the importance of the neighborhood. In fact, 53% said the quality of the school district is an important factor when purchasing a home, and 50% select neighborhoods by the convenience to the schools.
Buyers with children also purchase larger, detached single-family homes with 4 bedrooms and 2 full bathrooms at approximately 2,110 square feet.
Furthermore, 26% noted how childcare expenses delayed the home-buying process and forced additional compromises: 31% in the size of the home, 24% in the price, and 18% in the distance from work.

When Selling a Home

Of those polled, 23% of buyers with children sold their home "very urgently," and 46% indicated "somewhat urgently, within a reasonable time frame." Selling with urgency can pressure sellers to accept offers that are not in their favor. Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at NAR explains,
“When buying or selling a home, exercising patience is beneficial, but in some cases – such as facing an upcoming school year or the outgrowing of a home – sellers find themselves rushed and forced to accept a less than ideal offer.”
For sellers with children, 21% want a real estate professional to help them sell the home within a specific time frame, 20% at a competitive price, and 19% to market their home to potential buyers.

Bottom Line

Buying or selling a home can be driven by different priorities when you are also raising a family. If you’re a seller with children and looking to relocate, let’s get together to navigate the process in the most reasonable time frame for you and your family.

iBuyers: What Is the “Cost of Convenience” When Selling Your Home?



When thinking about selling their house, homeowners have many options. A relatively new option is using an “iBuyer.” What is an iBuyer?
According to Jovio, the definition is:
“A company or investor that uses Automated Valuation Models (AVMs) to make instant offers on homes. It allows sellers to close on a property quickly. Once sold, the company then turns around and resells the home for a profit.”
Today, there are many iBuyer companies such as OfferPadZillow OffersKnockOpendoor, and Perch. Even some more traditional companies offer the same or similar services (ex. Keller WilliamsRedfinRealogy). Ivy Zelman reported in her ‘Z’ Report that some traditional brokers are partnering with some of the larger iBuyers too:
“Keller Williams announced a partnership with Offerpad, aligning the largest franchise-based brokerage brand in the U.S. with the five-year-old iBuyer. The move follows Realogy’s partnership with Home Partners of America last year as an established brokerage player more directly providing an iBuyer alternative…
Likewise, in early July, Redfin and Opendoor announced a partnership, starting in Phoenix and Atlanta – aligning interests of the 13-year old, tech-enabled and value-focused brokerage with the largest and longest-standing iBuyer. Outside of these larger scale alliances, Zillow’s strategy has been to work with local brokerages as partners on a market-by-market basis.”

Does it make sense to sell your home to an iBuyer?

It depends. Collateral Analytics recently released a study which revealed the advantages and disadvantages of using an iBuyer. According to the study, if the homeowner is looking for the convenience of a quick sale with less uncertainty, using an iBuyer may make sense.
“iBuyers offer quicker closings for sellers who would like to avoid the uncertainty of knowing when and if their home will sell. For motivated sellers who want a predictable sale date and need to move, perhaps a long distance from the current location, there is no question that iBuyers have provided a welcome alternative to traditional brokerage.”
The study, however, also showed there is a cost for that convenienceCollateral Analytics explained:
Traditional brokers fees generally range from 5% to 7% of the sales price…In addition to this cost, buyers typically pay some closing costs including lender related charges in the range of 1% to 3%.”
In contrast:
“iBuyers charge sellers a ‘convenience fee’ of 6% to 9.5%, some also charge the seller for fees typically paid by buyers at closing adding another 1% or more. Most iBuyers will inspect the home, assess a generous home repair allowance and negotiate a (an additional) credit to handle such repairs...Overall the total direct costs, ignoring repair credits, will run 7% to 10% for an iBuyer, versus the typical 5% to 9% combined seller and buyer costs with a traditional broker. Yet, that is not the end of the story or comparison.”
The study went on to explain how iBuyers need to charge even more because they have additional expenses beyond that of the traditional broker. They include:
  1. Carrying costs involving significant amounts of capital – The iBuyer must pay the expenses of the house between the time they purchase it and the time they sell it to a new buyer.
  2. Safeguarding the home risks – A home with an iBuyer ‘For Sale Sign’ alerts anyone passing that the house is vacant. The study suggests that these homes could become targets for vagrants and criminals.
  3. Adverse selection risks – The study explains that since iBuyers use computer models to determine their offer, they may be unaware of certain challenges in the neighborhood that could adversely impact the value.
  4. Potential home price declines – As the survey states:
A downturn in home prices, not forecast by the iBuyer market analysts could be devastating as they ramp up their business platforms, particularly if the cost of capital increases. At the same time, downturns are precisely when the most sellers would want this option.”

Bottom Line

After taking a thorough look at the iBuyer platform, the study concludes that using an iBuyer is more expensive for the homeowner than the traditional brokerage model, but for some sellers, it may still make sense:
“These preliminary empirical results suggest that sellers are paying not just the difference in fees of 2% to 5% more than with traditional agencies, and a generous repair allowance, but another 3% to 5% or more to compensate the iBuyer for liquidity risks and carrying costs. In all, the typical cost to a seller appears to be in the range of 13% to 15% depending on the iBuyer vendor. For some sellers, needing to move or requiring quick extraction of equity, this is certainly worthwhile, but what percentage of the market will want this service remains to be seen.”

How Property Taxes Can Impact Your Mortgage Payment



When buying a home, taxes are one of the expenses that can make a significant difference in your monthly payment. Do you know how much you might pay for property taxes in your state or local area?
When applying for a mortgage, you’ll see one of two acronyms in your paperwork – P&I or PITI – depending on how you’re including your taxes in your mortgage payment.
P&I stands for Principal and Interest, and both are parts of your monthly mortgage payment that go toward paying off the loan you borrow. PITI stands for Principal, Interest, Taxes, and Insurance, and they’re all important factors to calculate when you want to determine exactly what the cost of your new home will be.
TaxRates.org defines property taxes as,
“A municipal tax levied by counties, cities, or special tax districts on most types of real estate - including homes, businesses, and parcels of land. The amount of property tax owed depends on the appraised fair market value of the property, as determined by the property tax assessor.”
This organization also provides a map showing annual property taxes by state (including the District of Columbia), from lowest to highest, as a percentage of median home value.

The top 5 states with the highest median property taxes are New Jersey, New Hampshire, Texas, Nebraska, and Wisconsin. The states with the lowest median property taxes are Louisiana, Hawaii, Alabama, and Delaware, followed by the District of Columbia.

Bottom Line

Depending on where you live, property taxes can have a big impact on your monthly payment. To make sure your estimated taxes will fall within your desired budget, let’s get together today to determine how the neighborhood or area you choose can make a difference in your overall costs when buying a home.

The Role Access Plays in Getting Your House Sold



So, you’ve decided to sell your house. You’ve hired a real estate professional to help you with the entire process and you’ve been asked what level of access you want to provide to potential buyers.
There are four elements to a quality listing. At the top of the list is Access, followed by Condition, Financing, and Price. There are many levels of access you can provide to your agent to be able to show your home.
Here are five levels of access you can provide to a buyer, each with a brief description:
  • Lockbox on the Door – This allows buyers the ability to see the home as soon as they are aware of the listing, or at their convenience.
  • Providing a Key to the Home – Although the buyer’s agent may need to stop by an office to pick up the key, there is little delay in being able to show the home.
  • Open Access with a Phone Call – The seller allows showing with just a phone call’s notice.
  • By Appointment Only – Example: 48-hour notice. Many buyers who are relocating for a new career or promotion start working in that area prior to purchasing their home. They often like to take advantage of free time during business hours (such as their lunch break) to view potential homes. Because of this, they may not be able to plan their availability far in advance or may be unable to wait 48 hours to see the house.
  • Limited Access – Example: the home is only available for a couple of hours a day. This is the most difficult way to be able to show your house to potential buyers.
In a competitive marketplace, access can make or break your ability to get the price you are looking for, or even sell your house at all.

Things to Avoid After Applying for a Mortgage



Congratulations! You’ve found a home to buy and have applied for a mortgage! You're undoubtedly excited about the opportunity to decorate your new home, but before you make any large purchases, move your money around, or make any big-time life changes, consult your loan officer – someone who will be able to tell you how your decisions will impact your home loan.
Below is a list of Things You Shouldn’t Do After Applying for a Mortgage. Some may seem obvious, but some may not.
1. Don’t Change Jobs or the Way You Are Paid at Your Job. Your loan officer must be able to track the source and amount of your annual income. If possible, you’ll want to avoid changing from salary to commission or becoming self-employed during this time as well.
2. Don’t Deposit Cash into Your Bank Accounts. Lenders need to source your money, and cash is not really traceable. Before you deposit any amount of cash into your accounts, discuss the proper way to document your transactions with your loan officer.
3. Don’t Make Any Large Purchases Like a New Car or Furniture for Your New Home. New debt comes with it, including new monthly obligations. New obligations create new qualifications. People with new debt have higher debt to income ratios…higher ratios make for riskier loans…and sometimes qualified borrowers no longer qualify.
4. Don’t Co-Sign Other Loans for Anyone. When you co-sign, you are obligated. As we mentioned, with that obligation comes higher ratios as well. Even if you swear you will not be the one making the payments, your lender will have to count the payments against you.
5. Don’t Change Bank Accounts. Remember, lenders need to source and track assets. That task is significantly easier when there is consistency among your accounts. Before you even transfer any money, talk to your loan officer.
6. Don’t Apply for New Credit. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a new credit card or a new car. When you have your credit report run by organizations in multiple financial channels (mortgage, credit card, auto, etc.), your FICO® score will be affected. Lower credit scores can determine your interest rate and maybe even your eligibility for approval.
7. Don’t Close Any Credit Accounts. Many clients erroneously believe that having less available credit makes them less risky and more likely to be approved. Wrong. A major component of your score is your length and depth of credit history (as opposed to just your payment history) and your total usage of credit as a percentage of available credit. Closing accounts has a negative impact on both of those determinants in your score.

Bottom Line

Any blip in income, assets, or credit should be reviewed and executed in a way that ensures your home loan can still be approved. The best advice is to fully disclose and discuss your plans with your loan officer before you do anything financial in nature. They are there to guide you through the process.

What Buyers Need to Know About HOAs



When searching for a home, you may end up selecting a property in a community with a Homeowners Association (HOA). Before you buy, it’s important to know how an HOA works and what they mean for you.
According to a recent article on realtor.com,
“In a nutshell, an HOA helps ensure that your community looks its best and functions smoothly…The number of Americans living in homes with HOAs is on the rise, growing from a mere 1% in 1970 to 25% today, according to the Foundation for Community Association Research.”
An HOA is governed by a board nominated by those living in the neighborhood. It is designed to make sure the residents have a support structure to maintain the value of the community while abiding by a set of guidelines called Common Restrictive Covenants (CC&R),
“Simply put, CC&Rs are just the rules you'll have to follow if you live in that community. Unlike zoning regulations, which are government-imposed requirements on how land can be used, restrictive covenants are established by HOAs to maintain the attractiveness and value of the property.”
It's important for homeowners to understand that each HOA is a little different, and they usually have monthly or quarterly fees required for homeowners. These fees can vary based on property size, number of residents, amenities, and more. There may be additional fees charged to homeowners if the reserve fund for the HOA cannot cover a major or unexpected cost, like severe storm damage.
The fees, however, also help maintain common areas such as swimming pools, tennis courts, elevators (for high-rise buildings), and regular wear and tear. Although they are an added cost to the homeowner, an HOA can be a major benefit when it comes to maintaining the value of your neighborhood and your property.
The same article continues to say,
“After your offer to buy a home is accepted, you are legally entitled to receive and review the community's CC&Rs over a certain number of days (typically between three and 10)…If you spot anything in the restrictive covenants you absolutely can't live with, you can bring it up with the HOA board or just back out of your contract completely (and keep your deposit).”
Most lenders will factor your HOA fees into your loan package, ensuring the amount of the loan is appropriate for what you can truly afford.
There are some great benefits to having an HOA oversee your neighborhood, and it’s important to understand what fees, structures, and regulations will come into play if there is an HOA where you’d like to live.

Bottom Line

When you’re looking at a potential property to buy, let’s get together so you have a professional who can help you understand the neighborhood’s HOA structure and fees. This way, you’ll feel confident and fully informed when buying a home.

Is Your House “Priced to Sell Immediately”?



In today’s real estate market, more houses are coming to market every day. Eager buyers are searching for their dream homes, so setting the right price for your house is one of the most important things you can do.
According to CoreLogic’s latest Home Price Index, home values have risen at over 6% a year over the past two years, but have started to slow to 3.6% over the last 12 months. By this time next year, CoreLogic predicts home values will be 5.4% higher.
With prices slowing from their previous pace, homeowners must realize that pricing their homes a little over market value to leave room for negotiation will actually dramatically decrease the number of buyers who will see their listing (see the chart below).

Instead of the seller trying to ‘win’ the negotiation with one buyer, they should price their house so demand for the home is maximized. By doing so, the seller will not be negotiating with a buyer over the price, but will instead have multiple buyers competing with each other over the house.
The secret is making sure your house is Priced To Sell Immediately (PTSI). That way, your home will be seen by the most potential buyers. It will sell at a great price before more competition comes to the market.

Bottom Line

If you're debating listing your house for sale, let’s get together to discuss how to price your home appropriately and maximize your exposure.

Homeowners Are Happy! Renters? Not So Much.



When people talk about homeownership and the American Dream, much of the conversation revolves around the financial benefits of owning a home. However, two recent studies show that the non-financial benefits might be even more valuable.
In a recent surveyBank of America asked homeowners: “Does owning a home make you happier than renting?” 93% of the respondents answered yes, while only 7% said no. The survey also revealed:
  • More than 80% said they wouldn’t go back to renting
  • 88% agreed that buying a home is the “best decision they have ever made
  • 79% believed owning a home has changed them for the better
Those surveyed talked about the “emotional equity” that is built through homeownership. The study says more than half of current homeowners define a home as a place to make memories, compared to 42% who view a home as a financial investment. Besides building wealth, the survey also showed that homeownership enhances quality of life:
  • 67% of current homeowners believed their relationships with family and loved ones have changed for the better since they bought a home
  • 78% are satisfied with the quality of their social life
  • 82% of homeowners said they were satisfied with the amount of time they spend on their hobbies and passions since purchasing a home
  • 75% of homeowners pursued new hobbies after buying a home
Homeowners seem to be very happy.

Renters Tell a Different Story…

According to the latest Zillow Housing Aspirations Report45% of renters regret renting rather than buying — more than five times the share of homeowners (8%) who regret buying instead of renting. Here are the four major reasons people regret renting, according to the report:
  • 52% regret not being able to build equity
  • 52% regret not being able to customize or improve their rentals
  • 50% regret that the rent is so high
  • 49% regret that they lack private outdoor space
These two studies prove that renting is just not the same as owning.

Bottom Line

There are both financial and non-financial benefits to homeownership. As good as the “financial equity” is, it doesn’t compare to the “emotional equity” gained through owning your own home.

How Does the Supply of Homes for Sale Impact Buyer Demand?



The price of any item is determined by supply, as well as the market’s demand for the item. The National Association of REALTORS (NAR) surveys “over 50,000 real estate practitioners about their expectations for home sales, prices and market conditions” for their monthly REALTORS Confidence Index.
Their latest edition sheds some light on the relationship between seller traffic (supply) and buyer traffic (demand).

Buyer Demand

The map below was created after asking the question: “How would you rate buyer traffic in your area?”

The darker the blue, the stronger the demand for homes is in that area. The survey shows that in 3 of the 50 U.S. states, buyer demand is now very strong; only 2 of the 50 states have a ‘weak’ demand. Overall, buyer demand is slightly lower than this time last year but remains strong.

Seller Supply 

The index also asked: “How would you rate seller traffic in your area?”

As the map below shows, 18 states reported ‘weak’ seller traffic, 29 states and Washington, D.C. reported ‘stable’ seller traffic, and 3 states reported ‘strong’ seller traffic. This means there are far fewer homes on the market than what is needed to satisfy the buyers who are looking for homes.

Bottom Line

Looking at the maps above, it is not hard to see why prices are appreciating in many areas of the country. Until the supply of homes for sale starts to meet buyer demand, prices will continue to increase. If you are debating listing your home for sale, let’s get together to help you capitalize on the demand in our market now.

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About Rhonda

Rhonda Walker, REALTOR®

A flair for marketing, a dedication to serving others, an outstanding work ethic and a deep passion for education are the trademarks of Rhonda Walker’s real estate career.

Rhonda doesn’t take anything for granted and believes every day brings new opportunities and challenges to mold her career.

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