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For Sellers

Is Now a Good Time to Refinance My Home?

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With interest rates hitting all-time lows over the past few weeks, many homeowners are opting to refinance. To decide if refinancing your home is the best option for you and your family, start by asking yourself these questions:

Why do you want to refinance?

There are many reasons to refinance, but here are three of the most common ones:

1. Lower Your Interest Rate and Payment: This is the most popular reason. Is your current interest rate higher than what’s available today? If so, it might be worth seeing if you can take advantage of the current lower rates.

2. Shorten the Term of Your Loan: If you have a 30-year loan, it may be advantageous to change it to a 15 or 20-year loan to pay off your mortgage sooner rather than later.

3. Cash-Out Refinance: You might have enough equity to cash out and invest in something else, like your children’s education, a business venture, an investment property, or simply to increase your cash reserve.

Once you know why you might want to refinance, ask yourself the next question:

How much is it going to cost?

There are fees and closing costs involved in refinancing, and The Lenders Network explains:

As an example, let’s say your mortgage has a balance of $200,000. If you were to refinance that loan into a new loan, total closing costs would run between 2%-4% of the loan amount. You can expect to pay between $4,000 to $8,000 to refinance this loan.”

They also explain that there are options for no-cost refinance loans, but be on the lookout:

“A no-cost refinance loan is when the lender pays the closing costs for the borrower. However, you should be aware that the lender makes up this money from other aspects of the mortgage. Usually charging a slightly higher interest rate so they can make the money back.”

Keep in mind that, given the current market conditions and how favorable they are for refinancing, it can take a little longer to execute the process today. This is because many other homeowners are going this route as well. As Todd Teta, Chief Officer at ATTOM Data Solutions notes about recent mortgage activity:  

“Refinancing largely drove the trend, with more than twice as many homeowners trading in higher-interest mortgages for cheaper ones than in the same period of 2018.”

Clearly, refinancing has been on the rise lately. If you’re comfortable with the up-front cost and a potential waiting period due to the high volume of requests, then ask yourself one more question:

Is it worth it? 

To answer this one, do the math. Will it help you save money? How much longer do you need to own your home to break even? Will your current home meet your needs down the road? If you plan to stay for a few years, then maybe refinancing is your best move.

If, however, your current home doesn’t fulfill your needs for the next few years, you might want to consider using your equity for a down payment on a new home instead. You’ll still get a lower interest rate than the one you have on your current house, and with the equity you’ve already built, you can finally purchase the home you’ve been waiting for.

Bottom Line

Today, more than ever, it’s important to start working with a trusted real estate advisor. Whether you connect by phone or video chat, a real estate professional can help you understand how to safely navigate the housing market so that you can prioritize the health of your family without having to bring your plans to a standstill. Whether you’re looking to refinance, buy, or sell, a trusted advisor knows the best protocol as well as the optimal resources and lenders to help you through the process in this fast-paced world that’s changing every day.

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Agent Value

Why Fixing Up Your House Can Help It Sell Faster

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 If you’re thinking about selling your house, you should know there are buyers who are ready and able to pay today’s high prices. But they want a home that’s move-in ready. A recent press release from Redfin explains:

Buyers are still out there and they’re willing to pay today’s high prices, but only if the house is in really good shape. They don’t want to spend extra money on paint or new appliances.”

It makes sense when you think about it. They’re having to pay a lot of money for a house in today’s market. That means they may not be able to easily afford upgrades after they move in. So, if your home is outdated or needs some work, buyers might pass it by or offer a lower price than you were hoping for.

And there are a lot of homes that need upgrades right now. Millions are entering their prime remodel years, meaning they’re between 20 and 39 years old. Maybe yours is one of them. According to John Burns Research and Consulting (JBRC), the number of homes in their prime remodel years is high and growing (see graph below):No Caption Received

If your house falls into this category, it’s important to consider making selective updates to help it appeal to buyers, so it sells faster. But how do you know where to spend your time and money?

Why You Need a Real Estate Agent

By working with a local real estate agent to be strategic about the improvements you make, you can be sure you’re making a smart investment. Put simply, not all upgrades are worth the cost. As Bankrate says:

Before you spend money on costly upgrades, be sure the changes you make will have a high return on investment. It doesn’t make sense to install new granite countertops, for example, if you only stand to break even on them, or even lose money.”

 And, as that same Bankrate article goes on to say, that’s where a local real estate agent comes in:

“. . . a good real estate agent will know what local buyers expect and can help you decide what needs doing and what doesn’t.”

Your agent will know what buyers in your area are looking for and what they’re willing to pay for it. By working together, you can avoid spending money on upgrades that won’t pay off. Instead, they’ll fill you in on which changes will make your house more appealing and valuable.

Bottom Line

Selling a house right now requires more than just putting up a For Sale sign. You need to make sure it’s in good condition to attract buyers who are willing to pay today’s high prices.

The way to do that is by making smart improvements that will give you the best return on your investment. Work with a local real estate agent so you know what buyers are looking for and what your house needs before selling.

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Downsize

Why Moving to a Smaller Home After Retirement Makes Life Easier

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Retirement is a time for relaxation, adventure, and enjoying the things you love. As you imagine this exciting new chapter in your life, it’s important to think about whether your current home still fits your needs.

If it’s too big, too costly, or just not convenient anymore, downsizing might help you make the most of your retirement years. To find out if a smaller, more manageable home might be the perfect fit for your new lifestyle, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do the original reasons I bought my current house still stand, or have my needs changed since then?
  • Do I really need and want the space I have right now, or could somewhere smaller be a better fit?
  • What are my housing expenses right now, and how much do I want to try to save by downsizing?

If you answered yes to any of these, consider the benefits that come with downsizing.

The Benefits of Moving into a Smaller Home

There are many reasons why you should downsize. Here are just a few from Bankrate:No Caption Received

Your Equity Can Help Make Downsizing Possible

If those perks sound like something you’d want, you may already have what you need to make it happen. A recent article from Seniors Guide shares:

“And at a time when homeowners age 62 and older have more than $12 trillion in home equity, downsizing makes sense . . .”

If you’ve been in your house for a while, odds are you’re one of those homeowners who’s built up a considerable amount of equity. And that equity is something you can use to help you buy a home that better fits your needs today. Greg McBride, Chief Financial Analyst at Bankrate, explains:

“Downsizing can mean taking that equity when the home is sold and using it to pay cash or make a large down payment on a lower-priced home, reducing your monthly living expenses.”

When you’re ready to use all that equity to fuel your next move, your real estate agent will be your guide through every step of the process. That includes setting the right price for your current house when you sell, finding the home that best fits your evolving needs, and understanding what you can afford at today’s mortgage rate.

Bottom Line

Starting your retirement journey? Think about downsizing – it could really help. When you’re ready, talk to a local real estate agent about your housing goals this year.

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For Sellers

Why Your Asking Price Matters Even More Right Now

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If you’re thinking about selling your house, here’s something you really need to know. Even though it’s still a seller’s market today, you can’t pick just any price for your listing.

While home prices are still appreciating in most areas, they’re climbing at a slower pace because higher mortgage rates are putting a squeeze on buyer demand. At the same time, the supply of homes for sale is growing. That means buyers have more options and your house may not stand out as much, if it’s not priced right.

Those two factors combined are why the asking price you set for your house is more important today than it has been in recent years.

And some sellers are finding that out the hard way. That’s leading to more price reductions. Mike Simonsen, Founder and President of ALTOS Research, explains:

“Looking at the price reductions data set . . . It all fits in the same pattern of increasing supply and homebuyer demand that is just exhausted by high mortgage rates. . . As home sellers are faced with less demand than they expected, more of them have to reduce their prices.”

That’s because they haven’t adjusted their expectations to today’s market. Maybe they’re not working with an agent, so they don’t know what’s happening around them. Or they’re not using an agent who prioritizes being a local market expert. Either way, they aren’t basing their pricing decision on the latest data available – and that’s a miss.

If you want to avoid making a pricing mistake that could turn away buyers and delay your sale, you need to work with an agent who really knows your local market. If you lean on the right agent, they’ll help you avoid making mistakes like:

  • Setting a Price That’s Too High: Some sellers have unrealistic expectations about how much their house is worth. That’s because they base their price on their gut or their bottom line, not the data. An agent will help you base your price on facts, not opinion, so you have a better chance of hitting the mark.
  • Not Considering What Houses Are Actually Selling for: Without an agent’s help, some sellers may use the wrong comparable sales (comps) in their area and misjudge the market value of their home. An agent has the expertise needed to find true comps. And they’ll use those to give you valuable insights into how to price your house in a way that’s competitive for you and your future buyer.
  • Overestimating Home Improvements: Sellers who have invested a significant amount of money in home improvements may overestimate how much those upgrades affect their home’s value. While certain improvements can increase a home’s appeal, not all upgrades are going to get a great return on their investment. An agent factors in what you’ve done and what buyers in your area actually want as they set the price.
  • Ignoring Feedback and Market Response: Some sellers may be resistant to lowering their asking price based on feedback they’re getting in open houses. An agent will remind the seller how important it is to be flexible and respond to market feedback in order to attract qualified buyers.

In the end, accurate pricing depends on current market conditions – and only an agent has all the data and information necessary to find the right price for your house. The right agent will use that expertise to develop a pricing strategy that’s based on current market conditions and designed to get your house sold. That way you don’t miss the mark.

Bottom Line

The right asking price is even more important today than it’s been over the last few years. To avoid making a costly mistake, connect with a local real estate agent. 

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The information contained, and the opinions expressed, in these article are not intended to be construed as investment advice. Let's Talk Real Estate and Keeping Current Matters, Inc. do not guarantee or warrant the accuracy or completeness of the information or opinions contained herein. Nothing herein should be construed as investment advice. You should always conduct your own research and due diligence and obtain professional advice before making any investment decision. Let's Talk Real Estate and Keeping Current Matters, Inc. will not be liable for any loss or damage caused by your reliance on the information or opinions contained herein.