This year, analysts say that we will continue to see strong economic growth, improved employment and suppressed housing demand which bodes well for most sellers in 2015, particularly in the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles.
Steve McLinden, writer for Bankrate’s Real Estate Adviser stated in an article posted on December 22, 2014 that the National Association of Home Builders, or NAHB, predicts that the 2015 single-family home sector will outperform a strong 2014. There are cautions, he says: Moody's predicts that mortgage rates will rise from about 4 percent now to 6 percent by 2017.
In McLinden’s article, he points out that the recovery has yet to arrive in many states, reinforcing the notion that real estate growth is regional. No one can accurately predict when this real estate uptick will end or how hard, or soft, a landing it will make. In the meantime, he suggests that we let proven fundamentals, applied with a few modern riffs, rule the day. Here are 6 tips for 2015 to help your real estate process.
1. Sweat the small stuff, sellers
Little touches will go a long way in the buyer's eye, starting logically with the entry. Trim bushes and trees, clean walkways and swap out worn-out welcome mats. Inside, freshen the air with candles and diffusers, reorganize closets and remove clutter from rooms, focusing keenly on kitchen counters. This is the time to hire a housekeeper or do some serious spring cleaning for yourself. Dust, steam clean, scrub toilets, wash windows, test and clean lights, put out fresh towels, thin out family mementos, harness or hide that avalanche of toys, and remove prescription drugs from medicine cabinets. This is time well-spent.
2. Make checklists, buyers
In a whirlwind house-hunting tour of several properties, buyers benefit by keeping a pro-and-con checklist of each home they visit. Otherwise, the features of several homes tend to blend together in a tired brain by day's end. Creating a rating scale of 1 to 10 also helps, as does carrying a checklist of specific features that you’re looking for in an ideal home.
3. Seasonal selling
Though spring is the best time, home selling is a year-round occurrence. Be sure to use seasonal accents in good taste to encourage buyers to linger longer.
Winter: Unfurl throw rugs and spotlight functional fireplaces. Near holidays, add touches like wreaths and pine-cone centerpieces. Display photos of your home a season ahead, particularly in winter, so buyers can envision the house ensconced by greenery.
Spring: Fresh-cut flowers and candles bring spring scents indoors. For that new-start look, do extra spring cleaning and use brightly colored linens, spreads and pillows. Add little pops of color to the entry and landscape.
Summer: Let your patios and other outdoor areas take the spotlight. Swap out dark towels and curtains for light colors. Place seasonal fruit in a basket or add hanging flowers. Keep the house cool but not cold.
Fall: Display pumpkins by the door and vases of fall foliage or tricolored corn inside. Use seasonal scents such as cinnamon. Keep your fallen leaves at bay.
4. Look for the signs
Buyers are regularly advised to scope out the block at varying hours of the day, but do more homework to see if your potential new neighborhood is fading or flourishing.
5. Go big with data
Bad signs: A major local employer is struggling or moving away; neighborhoods nearby are progressively turning into rentals; and a few too many for-sale homes are lingering on the market. Nearby commercial spaces that remain persistently vacant is never a good sign.
Good signs: Schools are well-rated and in high demand. Young families and artsy types are moving in. Older couples are "aging in place" and nearby commercial properties are getting redeveloped and quickly leased. For-sale homes are generating multiple offers.
While local knowledge and old-school networking will always be valuable, the latest technology lets agents offer much more. Some agencies offer "livability" ratings by ranking and contrasting neighborhoods by air quality, traffic choke points and specific data on a home's energy efficiency. Ask agents if they offer this and other edgy technology such as aerial footage shot by drones.
6. Buying? Better chill out for a while
Hold off on making big capital purchases like a new car, opening new credit cards or amassing big chunks of other new debt before buying a home. These raise your debt-to-income ratio, which lenders evaluate to determine the mortgage amount you can afford. Also avoid moving large sums of money around, changing banks, changing jobs and becoming self-employed before buying a home.
If you have any questions about purchasing a new home or refinancing an existing home, just give us a call. Our loan agents stand ready to field any questions you may have. Also, we recommend that if you are looking to make a move, be sure to sign up for Fremont Bank’s Rate Watch
, to receive emails when rates change.
To read Steve McLinden’s full article with 4 additional tips, click here