3 Surprising Ways Public Schools Affect Your House Hunt

It’s back-to-school season. School supplies are front and center in the stores, back-to-school sales are everywhere, and school buses are becoming part of the morning commute.

Even if the public school district is not an important factor in your home search, the location of public schools can still have a significant impact on your home buying decision.

If you are looking for a home near a school, you may want to take these factors into consideration.

1. School Speed Zones

Pay attention to the speed limit around schools and times that the school zone speed is enforced. You may want to consider a home that has convenient alternate routes around the school zone.

the stop sign on the side of a bus2. School Bus Stops

Whether there is a bus route through your neighborhood or on a major thoroughfare, it can affect traffic around your home. Call the school district and ask if there is a bus that stops near your home to pick up students.

3. Morning and Afternoon Traffic

Traffic congestion near public schools may be an issue during the weekdays. Crowded carpool lanes and frequent bus stops can turn a short trip to the grocery store into a frustrating ordeal.

When you are searching for your home, visit the area during peak morning and afternoon hours. Again, you may want to consider a home that is farther from the school or has convenient alternate routes.

We Are Your Guide to the Area

Realtor showing a buyer a homeA school’s location can affect your decision to buy a home, especially if you are new to the area. But a real estate agent is your local expert, giving you everything you need to know about how the nearby schools will affect your morning commute or afternoon trip to the store.

We can help you find the best home in the best location. Call us and let’s talk about your home search.

Will Appraisals Continue to be a Challenge in 2016?

Will Appraisals Continue to be a Challenge in 2016? | Keeping Current Matters

First American Title issues a quarterly report, the Real Estate Sentiment Index (RESI), which “measures title agent sentiment on a variety of key market metrics and industry issues”. Their 2015 4th Quarter Edition revealed some interesting information regarding possible challenges with appraisal values as we head into 2016.

“The fourth quarter RESI found that title agents continue to believe that property valuation issues will be the most likely cause of title order cancellation over the coming year.” 

This shouldn’t come as a surprise. In a housing market where supply is very low and demand is very high, home values increase rapidly. One major challenge in such a market is the bank appraisal. If prices are jumping, it is difficult for appraisers to find adequate, comparable sales (similar houses in the neighborhood that closed recently) to defend the price when performing the appraisal for the bank.

Another monthly report by Quicken Loans measures the disparity between what a homeowner believes their house is worth as compared to an appraiser’s evaluation. Here is a chart showing that difference for each month through 2015.

Will Appraisals Continue to be a Challenge in 2016? | Keeping Current Matters

Bottom Line

Every house on the market has to be sold twice; once to a prospective buyer and then to the bank (through the bank’s appraisal). With escalating prices, the second sale might be even more difficult than the first. That is why we suggest that you use an experienced real estate professional to help set your listing price.

Source:  Keeping Current Matters

Where Are Interest Rates Headed This Year?

Where Are Interest Rates Headed This Year? | Keeping Current Matters

With interest rates still below 4%, many buyers may be on the fence as to whether to act now and purchase a new home, or wait until next year.

If you look at what the four major reporting agencies are predicting for 2016, it may make the decision for you. The chart below averages the predictions by quarter.

Mortgage Rate Projections | Keeping Current Matters

With the exception of Fannie Mae, the experts agree that interest rates will increase by three-quarters of a percentage point, costing you more to pay back your loan.

Bottom Line

Even a small increase in interest rates can put a dent in your family’s wealth.

 

Source:  Keeping Current Matters

Building Family Wealth Over The Next 5 Years

Building Family Wealth Over The Next 5 Years | Keeping Current Matters

As the economy continues to improve, more and more Americans are seeing their personal financial situations also improving. Instead of just getting by, many are now beginning to save and find other ways to build their net worth. One way to dramatically increase their family wealth is through the acquisition of real estate.

For example, let’s assume a young couple purchases and closes on a $250,000 home in January. What will that home be worth five years down the road?

Pulsenomics surveys a nationwide panel of over one hundred economists, real estate experts and investment & market strategists every quarter. They ask them to project how residential prices will appreciate over the next five years. According to their latest survey, here is how much value that $250,000 house will gain in the coming years.

Family Wealth Earned with Home Equity | Keeping Current Matters

Over a five year period, that homeowner can build their home equity to over $40,000. And, in many cases, home equity is large portion of a family’s overall net worth.

Bottom Line

If you are looking to better your family’s long-term financial situation, buying your dream home might be a great option.

Source: Keeping Current Matters

You Can Buy and Sell Real Estate During the Holidays

It’s common knowledge that most people are advised to get their home on the real estate market in late spring or early summer as that is ‘real estate season.’ While the majority of homes do sell in the spring and summer, listing your home or looking for a home during the holidays or in the winter is not as taboo as some would lead you to believe. There are actual benefits to listing or looking for a home during the holidays, and if you’ve missed out on the real estate scramble of the spring and summer, starting a home search or listing your home now might just be in your best interest. Here are some of the top reasons why you shouldn’t avoid listing your home, or looking for a home, during the holidays.

Buyers Never Stop Looking

serious buyer - You Can Buy and Sell Real Estate During the HolidaysMany would lead you to believe that the real estate market comes to a complete stand still during the holidays or in the winter, but that’s not the case. Every state’s real estate market is thriving year-round, and that even includes during the holiday season. Serious buyers never stop looking, and a serious seller (or a seller that wants or needs to sell their property) will keep their home or property on the market all year long. The holidays bring out the buyers and sellers that are determined — they need something or want to sell now, and they’re not willing to wait for the spring or summer.

Many people with school-age children want to wait to buy a new home when their kids are not in school, but the reality is that a family or anyone looking for a new home can move at any time of the year. Perhaps if you’re in an area with inclement winter weather, you might want to put off your search or move until better weather arrives, but for those that live in a mild climate, moving in November or December is just as easy as moving in May or June. Buyers can also sign up for new listing emails, which alert them to whenever a new property has come on the market, and sellers have the ability to sign up for sellers reports, so they can stay on top of the market in their neighborhood.

Inventory and Competition

Unpacking - You Can Buy and Sell Real Estate During the HolidaysWhile it is known that home inventory is largest during the spring and summer months, the MLS always has homes and properties listed on it. Fall and winter will have properties available, but the number of properties will be lower. Unless you’re totally transfixed on a certain home, or you have a list of needs and wants a mile long, you can be sure to find a property that will fit your housing needs throughout the year.

Despite the fact that inventory will be lower in the fall and winter, people still list their homes, especially if they are serious sellers. While the market is slower, it also is less competitive in terms of other buyers looking for homes. It’s likely the fall and winter won’t create scenarios of multiple, high dollar offers on one property; buyers and sellers alike will have more opportunities to actually think about offers, and especially for buyers, low competition guarantees that you’re not making a rushed or rash decision based on emotions or other offers when you do find the perfect property.

Affordability

This is specifically for buyers, but it’s widely known that home prices slightly fall in the fall and winter when the market has cooled down and more serious sellers are keen to get a sale. This is mostly because real estate sales are seasonal. But that’s not to say if you list your home in the fall or winter you’re going to have to drastically slash the price in order for your property to sell. While it might sit on the market a little longer than it would in the spring or summer, fall and winter sales happen, and if you’re a serious buyer or seller, you know you’ll want to do all you can to make your dream of buying or selling a home a reality.

Homes Look and Feel Charming

cozy home - You Can Buy and Sell Real Estate During the HolidaysYou’ll see a lot of articles on how to spruce up a home to ready it for the real estate market, and while the tips are definitely valuable, it’s not a secret that many people decorate their homes over the holidays. There’s something warm and inviting about a decorated home, or a home that feels cozy, and people who list their homes in the fall and winter can take advantage of a fireplace or wood stove to make a room more inviting.

If your property doesn’t have a fireplace or wood stove, you can use candles and other things to make the home smell inviting to buyers. While it may seem cumbersome to sell a property during the holidays or in the winter, you do have some ways to play up the season. And if you are truly set on avoiding the holidays, you can always put it on the market the first of January, when the chaos of the holidays is over.

Source: Real Estate Advisor | November 2015

Why You Should Use a Realtor (Real Estate Advisor – September 2015)

Real Estate Advisor: August 2015
image empty space

Why It’s a Smart Move to Use a Real Estate AgentBuying or selling a home seems to be a way of life for a lot of people in today’s world. When you buy, you definitely want to get the most for your money. Many people think they can go it alone when it comes to buying or selling a house, and it’s definitely true that some people are able to handle all the details of buying and selling a home or property, but in reality the real estate process is intricate and requires a lot of knowledge about the local real estate market, contracts, escrow, appraisals and referrals. While some home owners and buyers are in a position to go it alone, for those intimidated by the market or those who don’t have the time or energy to sell or buy a home on their own, here are some reasons why it’s a smart move to use a real estate agent during your next real estate transaction.

Local Expertise

signing - Why You Should Use a Realtor (Real Estate Advisor - September 2015)You’ve lived in an area for some time – but while you may know about local amenities and activities, do you have a lot of knowledge on the local real estate market? Real estate agents know their markets: they know how much homes are selling for, they know what areas are highly desirable and they know which ones are up-and-coming. You can trust an agent to know the local inventory and know how to get the best price for a home or property.

Access

Real estate agents have a number of access points that a regular buyer or seller doesn’t. They have access to listings before they are put in the MLS, and they have access to the homes! Many sellers are only willing to grant access to agents, which means that most buyers going it alone can only access homes during open houses. An agent working for the seller is only going to provide information with the seller’s best interest at heart, so when you go it alone you might be only getting partial information from any questions you may have. Working with an agent will help provide private access to homes, and an agent will be able to get more information from the seller’s agent.

Experience

search - Why You Should Use a Realtor (Real Estate Advisor - September 2015)Buying a home is an intimidating experience – you’re making one of the biggest financial decisions of your life. As a buyer, you want to make sure stress and emotions don’t get the better of you, especially when it comes to making important decisions. Real estate agents know what buyers and sellers go through – they’ve been there, as it’s more than likely they too have made a real estate purchase of their own. While they have personal experience, they also have an experienced rational eye when it comes to the business portion of a real estate transaction. They possess clear judgement, and agents are a seller and buyer’s biggest advocate for a successful negotiation. Real estate agents have the experience, knowledge and acumen to make the process as smooth and stress-free as possible.

Connections

The real estate transaction process requires a number of professionals and services. From a lender, home inspector, contractors and handymen for repairs, lawyers, and a number of other professionals and tradesmen, knowing the right people is beyond important when you want to have a smooth and successful transaction. Real estate agents are in the business, and their past experience has provided them with a number of respectable and dependable contacts and referrals than you’ll find asking friends and family. A ready agent will come prepared with connections and people they are willing to refer because they’ve worked with them in the past and they know their track record. When you choose to work without an agent, you sacrifice the networking that naturally comes with being a real estate agent.

No Cost When Buying

talking - Why You Should Use a Realtor (Real Estate Advisor - September 2015)If you’re searching for a home or property to buy, having an agent is free. An agent’s commission is paid by the seller, but most buyers don’t realize this and entertain the idea of going without a Realtor during their home search. If a seller pays the commission, there is no loss to a buyer to take full advantage of all the services a real estate agent offers. It’s also important to understand that even if you choose to go it alone when buying a home, you do not receive the commission a buyer’s agent would. Commission rates are negotiated before the final sale and are included in the contract, meaning if you don’t use a buyer’s agent, the entire commission is paid to the listing agent.

Documents and Paperwork

Unless you’re working with a brand new agent, most agents know the ins and outs of all the documents and paperwork required for a home sale or purchase because they’ve been through a number of transactions. From finding the comps of your market and drafting a purchase agreement, to contacting any other agents and the title company, a real estate agent will be able to provide help in the forms of knowledge, time and resources during the real estate transaction process. Agents also know the important parts of an offer or contract, especially when it comes to line items that could cost a lot in the end or things that are negotiable. Having an agent that knows the process, the paperwork and the documentation is a valuable asset when it comes to making one of the biggest decisions of your life.

64.2% of Millennials Put Down Less than 20%

Millennials-KCM

Digital Risk recently polled Millennials about the housing market. Among their findings was the fact that nearly two-thirds of the generation who have recently purchased a home, have done so with less than 20% down; with 36% putting down less than 5%!

Here is a graph detailing the results:

Millennial-Down-Payment

This means that more and more American’s between the ages of 18 and 34 stopped paying their landlord’s mortgage and started building their own family’s wealth.

Millennials aren’t the only ones taking advantage of lower down payments.

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York found that if the down payment required to purchase a home went from 20% to 5%, a renter’s Willingness To Pay (WTP)increased by 40%.

Willingness-To-Pay

 

The problem is that thirty-six percent of Americans still think a 20% down payment is always required when buying a home. Many renters may actually be able to enter the housing market sooner than they ever imagined with new programs that have emerged allowing less cash out of pocket.

Bottom Line

If you are one of the many renters now realizing that the home of your dreams is obtainable, contact a local real estate professional who can guide you through the process.

Prepping Your Home for Vacation

Real Estate Advisor: May 2015
image empty space

Prepping Your Home for a Vacation

Vacations are a time to relax and escape from regular life. When you’re miles from home, the last thing you want to worry about is the safety of your home. If you plan on taking a vacation this summer (or any time this year), here are some simple tips on prepping your home for a vacation.

Mail - Prepping Your Home for Vacation

Stop Your Newspaper and Mail

One sure sign of being absent from your home is a pile of newspapers in the driveway. Contact your newspaper delivery person and stop service while you’re gone. If you don’t have a locked mailbox, contact the post office and have them hold your mail. You can also ask a trusted neighbor to collect mail, newspapers and deliveries and have him/her hold them for you until you’re back.

Park Your Car in the Garage

The last thing you want is to get home from a vacation and have your car gone. If you can, park your car inside the garage, or have a family member park it at his/her house. You can also ask a neighbor to park their car in your driveway, making it look like someone is leaving each morning.

Put a Light on a Timer

A dark house stands out in a neighborhood, especially when all the other homes are lit up. Before you leave, buy a timer and install it on a lamp in your home. It’s also a good idea to install a motion-activated sensor on an outdoor floodlight that will be triggered should someone walk by it. You can also ask a neighbor to turn on the front porch light in the evening.

Grass - Prepping Your Home for Vacation

Mow Your Lawn

Grass can grow pretty fast in two or three days. If you have a lawn, make sure it’s trimmed before you embark on your trip. If you’re going to be gone longer than a week, ask a family member or neighbor to cut the grass in the front yard while you’re away.

Some of these items are easily overlooked, but could cause major issues when you’re away:

Unplug Small Appliances and Electronics

Small appliances and electronics can be energy vampires when plugged in, and some are still active even when they look like they’re turned off. Before you leave, unplug those items that won’t be used while you’re gone (coffee makers, toasters, espresso machines, etc.). It’s also a good time to make sure all smoke detectors work properly throughout your home.

104507784 - Prepping Your Home for Vacation

Turn Down the Thermostat

Your thermostat makes sure your home maintains a specific temperature throughout the day. Before you leave, set the thermostat to a lower temperature if the house is going to be empty. This will help conserve energy while you’re gone. If you do turn down the thermostat, be sure to keep your home at a temperature that will still protect plants, pets and furniture.

Put the Water Heater in Vacation Mode

Traditional water heaters heat water throughout the day, even when you’re not using water. Before you head out on a vacation, put the heater in vacation mode. Check to see if your water heater has a VAC setting — which is for vacations. If it doesn’t, you can turn down the thermostat to the lowest setting. But don’t stop at the water heater: turn off water valves to the dishwasher, washing machine and any sinks. The last thing you want to come home to is a flood in your house because a pipe broke or a hose burst.

Garbage - Prepping Your Home for Vacation

Tidy Up the Kitchen

Before you leave it’s always a good idea to clean out the fridge and dispose of anything that will go bad while you’re gone. The sink can harbor things that cause bad smells — run a half cup of vinegar and some water through the garbage disposal to alleviate any potential buildups, and make sure to take out any trash and recycling so you don’t come home to a smelly house. If you have a trusted neighbor, ask them to put your garbage, recycling or yard debris bins out on pickup day.

Leave Emergency Contact Info with Neighbors

You may tell your family that you’re heading out, but you should also let a neighbor know. Neighbors live near you and can be your first point of contact should something happen to your home while you’re away. Let a trusted neighbor know you’re going to be out of town — provide them with information on where you’re going, how long you’ll be gone, and contact information for yourself and for family members in case of an emergency.

Shared from May issue of Real Estate Advisor

Agent Spotlight – Dalton Lauderback

Dalton copy

Our agent spotlight shines on our newest member of Team George Weeks Dalton Lauderback.

Dalton may be relatively new to our real estate team but not to the housing industry. His father owns a local construction company so he grew up witnessing the excitement people experienced when buying a house and he wanted to play an active role in helping others find the home of their dreams.

Dalton’s goal is to be “the best dang real estate agent out there!” To make the home buying/selling process as painless and exciting as possible for his clients. To be an agent that people enjoy working with.

When not working hard to achieve those goals Dalton’s other passions are teaching and traveling. He has been fortunate enough to travel and live abroad and he volunteers as an English teacher in Nashville.

With a can-do work ethic instilled in him since birth and a winning personality Team George Weeks predicts this young man will be a shining star in our industry with many happy clients.

 

Home Safety Tips

 

qtq80 nmGRuo 300x220 - Home Safety Tips

Here at Team George Weeks family is very important to us, both ours and yours. We have compiled a few tips, downloads & links to help keep your family and home safe.

  • Emergency Contact List  –  This is a downloadable list that you can fill out and  print as many copies as you need.
  • Home Safety Checklist    –  Download this checklist from the U.S Fire Administration for invaluable fire safety information.
  • Pet Safety at Home          –  Home safety information for your pets and more.
Sources: www.usfa.fema.gov, ADT Security