The Howell Realty Group Real Estate News and Information

 

Nov. 30, 2021

The Howell Team DECEMBER 2021 Homeward bound Newsletter

Posted in Newsletter
Nov. 24, 2021

Home Sales About To Surge? We May See a Winter Like Never Before.

Like most industries, residential real estate has a seasonality to it. For example, toy stores sell more toys in October, November, and December than they do in any other three-month span throughout the year. More cars are sold in the U.S. during the second quarter (April, May, and June) than in any other quarter of the year.

Real estate is very similar. The number of homes sold in the spring is almost always much greater than at any other time of the year. It’s even labeled as the spring buying season. Historically, the number of buyers and listings for sale significantly increase in the spring and remains strong throughout the summer. Once fall sets in, the number of buyers and sellers typically drops off.

Last year, however, that seasonality didn’t happen. The outbreak of the virus and subsequent slowing of the economy limited sales during the spring market. These sales were pushed back later in the year, and last fall and winter saw a dramatic increase in home sales over previous years. The only thing that held the market back was the extremely limited supply of homes for sale.

What About This Winter?

Some experts thought we’d return to the industry’s normal seasonality this winter with both the number of purchasers and houses available for sale falling off. However, data now shows that neither of those situations will likely occur. Buyer demand is still extremely strong, and it appears we may soon see a somewhat uncharacteristic increase in the number of homes coming to the market.

Buyer Demand Remains Strong

The latest Showing Index from ShowingTime, which tracks the average number of monthly showings on available homes, indicates buyer activity was slightly lower than at the same time last year but much higher than any of the three previous years (see chart below):Home Sales About To Surge? We May See a Winter Like Never Before. | MyKCMreport from realtor.com confirms buying activity remains strong in the existing home sales market:

“New housing data shows 2021’s feverish home sales pace broke a yearly record in October, . . . with last month marking the eighth straight month of buyers snatching up homes more quickly than the fastest pace in previous years. . . .”

Buyer activity for newly constructed homes is also very strong. Ali Wolf, Chief Economist for Zondarecently reported that Stuart Miller, the Executive Chairman of Lennar, one of the nation’s largest home builders, said this about demand:

“There is still a great deal of demand at our sales centers with people lining up and not enough supply.”

The only question heading into this winter is whether the number of listings available could come close to meeting this buyer demand. We may have just received the answer to that question.

Sellers Are About To List – Right Now

Instead of waiting for the normal spring buying market, new research indicates that homeowners thinking about selling are about to put their homes on the market this winter.

Speaking to the release of a report on this recent research, George Ratiu, Manager of Economic Research for realtor.com, said:

“The pandemic has delayed plans for many Americans, and homeowners looking to move on to the next stage of life are no exception. Recent survey data suggests the majority of prospective sellers are actively preparing to enter the market this winter.

Here are some highlights in the report:

Of homeowners planning to enter the market in the next year:

  • 65% – Have just listed (19%) or plan to list this winter
  • 93% – Have already taken steps toward listing their home, including working with an agent (28%)
  • 36% – Have researched the value of their home and others in their neighborhood
  • 36% – Have started making repairs or decluttering

The report also discusses the reasons sellers want to move:

  • 33% – Have realized they want different home features
  • 37% – Say their home no longer meets their family’s needs
  • 32% – Want to move closer to friends and family
  • 23% – Are looking for a home office

Data shows buyer demand remains unusually strong going into this winter. Research indicates the supply of inventory is about to increase. This could be a winter real estate market like never before.

Bottom Line

If you’re thinking of buying or selling, now is the time to have a heart-to-heart conversation with a real estate professional in your market, as things are about to change in an unexpected way.

Nov. 22, 2021

Patio Heaters Warm Up the Winter

 

Having a patio gives you a great place to hang out and enjoy the outdoors while you’re at home. Unfortunately, dropping temperatures often makes your patio all but uninhabitable once the fall and winter months come around. Cooler weather doesn’t have to be the end of your time enjoying your patio, however; there are many options available that can extend your time on the patio, including patio heaters.

 

 

There are several things that set patio heaters apart from other outdoor heating options like fire pits. Because they’re designed to spread heat out over a larger area, a patio heater might be the ideal solution to keep your patio area usable well into the winter. If you think that one of these heaters might be the perfect addition to your outdoor space, here are a few things to consider to help make sure that you pick the perfect heater.

 

How Patio Heaters Work

Patio heaters are designed to radiate heat outward, spreading heat over a larger area than you’d cover with a fire pit or other heat source that doesn’t have a cap or other barrier preventing heat from escaping upward. The amount of heat coverage provided by these heaters differs based on the type of heater, its size, and where it’s located on your patio. Some patio heaters include chimneys or other exhaust pipes to vent potentially harmful gases generated as their fuel burns, preventing those gases from being diverted outward by the same caps that redirect the heat.

Depending on your needs, you can find small patio heaters that can sit on top of a table or other surface, as well as larger free-standing units that sit on the patio floor itself. Most heaters include controls similar to what you see on indoor heaters, allowing you to change the amount of heat produced. This lets you adjust your heater for use when you just need to knock off a little chill or when you need to produce more heat on colder nights.

Patio Heater Types

Though there are several different types of patio heaters; the most common varieties are electric, propane, natural gas, and wood-burning heaters. Here is a little information on each type:

  • Electric heaters are similar to some of the space heaters you might have used indoors, offering benefits such as portability and heat production without creating fuel exhaust. Unfortunately, these heaters are not as energy efficient as other types, and often do not produce as much heat.
  • Propane heaters connect to a propane tank like you would use with a propane grill. They produce more heat than many electric heaters and are still relatively portable, though they should not be used in covered or enclosed areas.
  • Natural gas heaters are the most energy-efficient and convenient patio heaters, connecting to your home’s existing natural gas line so that you don’t have to swap out tanks or perform other maintenance. These heaters are not portable at all, however, and need to be professionally installed to ensure that there are no gas leaks.
  • Wood-burning heaters are the cheapest patio heaters to operate, but they also require more cleaning and maintenance. They also require more work to light and put out and can be fire hazards if left unattended.

Choosing a Patio Heater

Picking the right heater for your patio area depends a lot on how your patio is laid out and whether portability and maintenance are major concerns for you. Electric and propane heaters are best for those who want to be able to move their heater around easily, and wood-burning heaters are a good option for those who want a heater that operates cheaply and don’t mind emptying out ash and coals to keep the heater clean.

Natural gas heaters are the best options for homes where there’s already a gas line installed, and you don’t mind having a permanent heating option in place. 

Nov. 19, 2021

Tips for Choosing Replacement Windows

 

Your home’s windows fill a number of important roles. They let natural light into the house, allow you to see what’s going on outside, and serve as a barrier against inclement weather. Unfortunately, your windows aren’t immune to the ravages of time, weather, and various other hazards that can damage or weaken them. You may find yourself in a position where you have to replace one or more windows in your home, especially if you’re hoping to prevent drafts and leaks heading into the winter.

 

 

Not all replacement windows are created equal, however. Depending on your situation and the condition of your existing windows, there may be a few different options to sort through when choosing replacements. While a lot of this will depend on your specific circumstances and your own personal preferences, here are a few tips to keep in mind to make choosing replacement windows that much easier.

 

Sorting Through Window Options

There are a lot of considerations when it comes to choosing replacement windows. Some of these are obvious, including things like frame color, glass tint, and how the windows open. Others might not be quite as obvious, such as insulation values and UV filtering. Price isn’t necessarily an indicator of quality, either; you may find cheaper windows that are a better fit for your needs than more expensive models.

Take the time to figure out what you need from a window before you actually start shopping. If you live in an area where the winters are cold and you’re trying to prevent drafts, the insulating power of your new windows will obviously be a priority. If you’re replacing eastern-facing windows and worry about too much light coming through early in the morning, tinting or other filtering will be a concern. Having windows that are easy to open for cleaning may be a major concern, or if you’re security conscious, you may want windows with advanced security or smart sensors built in. Figure out what’s most important to you before you start shopping so that you can choose windows based on your criteria instead of developing criteria based on the windows you see.

Interior vs. Exterior Installation

In addition to the windows themselves, the type of installation you use can make a difference not only on your overall cost but also on how easily your windows are installed overall. Your options will include exterior installation, where the frames and other support material are replaced along with the window itself, and interior installation, where just the window is installed into an existing frame. When it comes to choosing an installation type, a large part of the decision rests on the condition of your existing windows and frames.

Exterior installations are bigger jobs and require more work to get the window installed, but they’re ideal if there is damage or warping present in the existing frame as they ensure that there aren’t going to be any leaks or drafts after your window is installed. They’re also essential if you’re changing the size of your window and the new window won’t fit easily into your existing frame. Interior installations are easier as there aren’t any changes made to the frame but are only possible if the frame is undamaged and the new window matches the dimensions of the old one.

Replacement Installation

Regardless of the replacement windows you choose, you’re going to want to have them installed by someone you can trust. While some homeowners may be in a position to install their own replacement windows, for the vast majority this will mean hiring a contractor or other professional to get the job done. 

 

Nov. 18, 2021

4 Things Every Renter Needs To Consider

As a renter, you’re constantly faced with the same dilemma: keep renting for another year or purchase a home? Your answer depends on your current situation and future plans, but there are a number of benefits to homeownership every renter needs to consider.

Here are a few things you should think about before you settle on renting for another year.

1. Rents Are Rising Quickly

Rent increasing each year isn’t new. Looking back at Census data confirms rental prices have gone up consistently for decades (see graph below):4 Things Every Renter Needs To Consider | MyKCMIf you’re a renter, you’re faced with payments that continue to climb each year. Realtor.com recently shared the September Rental Report, and it shows price increases accelerating from August to September (see graph below):4 Things Every Renter Needs To Consider | MyKCMAs the graph shows, rents are still on the rise. It’s important to keep this in mind when the time comes for you to sign a new lease, as your monthly rental payment may increase substantially when you do.

2. Renters Miss Out on Equity Gains

One of the most significant advantages of buying a home is the wealth you build through equity. This year alone, homeowners gained a substantial amount of equity, which, in turn, grew their net worth. As a renter, you miss out on this wealth-building tool that can be used to fund your retirement, buy a bigger home, downsize, or even achieve personal goals like paying for an education or starting a new business.

3. Homeowners Can Customize to Their Heart’s Content

This is a big decision-making point if you want to be able to paint, renovate, and make home upgrades. In many cases, your property owner determines these selections and prefers you don’t alter them as a renter. As a homeowner, you have the freedom to decorate and personalize your home to truly make it your own.

4. Owning a Home May Provide Greater Mobility than You Think

You may choose to rent because you feel it provides greater flexibility if you need to move for any reason. While it’s true that selling a home may take more time than finding a new rental, it’s important to note how quickly houses are selling in today’s market. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the average home is only on the market for 17 days. That means you may have more flexibility than you think if you need to relocate as a homeowner.

Bottom Line

Deciding if it’s the right time for you to buy is a personal decision, and the timing is different for everyone. However, if you’d like to learn more about the benefits of homeownership, let’s connect so you can make a confident, informed decision and have a trusted advisor along the way.

Nov. 16, 2021

Sellers: You’ll Likely Get Multiple Strong Offers This Season

Are you thinking about selling your house right now, but you’re not sure you’ll have the time to do so as the holidays draw near? If so, consider this: even as the holiday season approaches, there are plenty of buyers out there, and they really want your house. Here’s why selling this winter is a win for you.

Today’s buyers are still dealing with a limited number of homes for sale. Thanks to continued low inventory, those buyers are competing with one another for their dream home. And when that happens, if your house is one of the few on the market, it will rise to the top of the pool – and it will be worth it.

According to the latest data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the average seller received 3.7 offers on their house in September. For a view into what’s happening at the state level, take a look at the map below:Sellers: You’ll Likely Get Multiple Strong Offers This Season | MyKCMNationwide, the average seller today is getting nearly four offers. That number is significant because it means you’ll likely have multiple offers to pick from if you sell your house this season. To put things into perspective, no matter where your state falls, remember that you really only need one good offer to close the deal.

Any offer you receive will likely be from a highly motivated buyer who’s doing everything they can to beat the competition. The stakes for buyers are high. They’ve been looking for a house and they want to lock in their dream home before prices and mortgage rates rise further next year. Chances are, they’ll get creative with the terms of their offer, which could include waiving contingencies and offering over the asking price – both of which are great news for you.

If you’re on the fence about when to sell, remember your house is a hot commodity this season. As other sellers take a break for the holidays with plans to re-list their homes in the new year, you can put your house in front of motivated buyers by making your move today. That means your house will be the center of attention, and likely the center of a bidding war too.

Bottom Line

Selling now gives you even more opportunity to win big as buyers compete for your house in today’s market.

 

Nov. 10, 2021

Why a Wave of Foreclosures Is Not on the Way

With forbearance plans coming to an end, many are concerned the housing market will experience a wave of foreclosures similar to what happened after the housing bubble 15 years ago. Here are a few reasons why that won’t happen.

There are fewer homeowners in trouble this time

After the last housing crash, about 9.3 million households lost their homes to a foreclosure, short sale, or because they simply gave it back to the bank.

As stay-at-home orders were issued early last year, the fear was the pandemic would impact the housing industry in a similar way. Many projected up to 30% of all mortgage holders would enter the forbearance program. In reality, only 8.5% actually did, and that number is now down to 2.2%.

As of last Friday, the total number of mortgages still in forbearance stood at  1,221,000. That’s far fewer than the 9.3 million households that lost their homes just over a decade ago.

Most of the mortgages in forbearance have enough equity to sell their homes

Due to rapidly rising home prices over the last two years, of the 1.22 million homeowners currently in forbearance, 93% have at least 10% equity in their homes. This 10% equity is important because it enables homeowners to sell their homes and pay the related expenses instead of facing the hit on their credit that a foreclosure or short sale would create.

The remaining 7% might not have the option to sell, but if the entire 7% of those 1.22 million homes went into foreclosure, that would total about 85,400 mortgages. To give that number context, here are the annual foreclosure numbers for the three years leading up to the pandemic:

  • 2017: 314,220
  • 2018: 279,040
  • 2019: 277,520

The probable number of foreclosures coming out of the forbearance program is nowhere near the number of foreclosures that impacted the housing crash 15 years ago. It’s actually less than one-third of any of the three years prior to the pandemic.

The current market can absorb listings coming to the market

When foreclosures hit the market back in 2008, there was an oversupply of houses for sale. It’s exactly the opposite today. In 2008, there was over a nine-month supply of listings on the market. Today, that number is less than a three-month supply. Here’s a graph showing the difference between the two markets.Why a Wave of Foreclosures Is Not on the Way | MyKCM

Bottom Line

The data indicates why Ivy Zelman, founder of the major housing market analytical firm Zelman and Associates, was on point when she stated:

Nov. 9, 2021

Considering a Utility Sink?

 

Having access to a sink when you need one is a great convenience. Most people are used to having sinks in their kitchen and bathrooms, but there are other locations where a sink can come in handy as well. Installing a utility sink in these areas can make tasks such as laundry and cleaning easier, while also keeping you from having to dump things like cleaning wastewater into your kitchen or bathroom sink.

 

 

Installing a utility sink in places like your laundry room, basement, or mudroom can be a great idea, especially if there aren’t any other sinks convenient to those locations. Depending on how your home is laid out, though, it might also be a significant undertaking. If you’re thinking about adding a utility sink, here are some things to keep in mind.

 

What Is a Utility Sink?

If you aren’t familiar with the term “utility sink”, you are still likely familiar with these sinks and the role that they fill. Most of the time, utility sinks are standalone deep basin sinks in areas such as a laundry room or basement. Some utility sinks may have a hose attachment or threaded faucet that a standard hose can be attached to, allowing them to fill buckets or other containers with water even if the container isn’t placed into the sink itself.

Most of the time, the purpose of a utility sink is cleaning related. Utility sinks in the laundry room may be used to wash off dirt, paint, and other materials before putting items in the washing machine. Utility sinks may also be used to fill mop buckets and other containers with soapy water for cleaning floors or even washing your car. Many such sinks also contain large drains to make it easy to empty these containers once you’re done (though it’s worth remembering that some chemicals and waste products shouldn’t go down the drain, whether it’s in a utility sink or not).

Utility Sink Installation

Installing a utility sink is similar to installing a kitchen or bathroom sink, with one notable difference: many houses aren’t set up with water lines that terminate at a utility sink’s location until the sink is installed. That means that a little more work may be required to run the plumbing and install the valves necessary to hook up a utility sink where you want one. Some areas like the laundry room may already have water lines nearby, but others such as the basement or garage could require a little more work. You’ll also need to consider drainage, as the water in your sink is going to have to have a way to leave as well.

Once you’ve got all the plumbing issues sorted, you’ll need to secure the sink basin and connect the water lines and drainage. Some utility sinks have a single faucet, while others have two faucets or a faucet and a hose attachment; you’ll need to make sure that these are hooked up properly if you want to make full use of them. After everything is connected and the basin is secure, all that’s left is to turn on the water and make sure that the sink functions correctly.

Bringing In Some Help

Utility sinks can be very useful in the home, though getting one installed can be a lot of work if your home isn’t set up for one. If installing a utility sink seems like a big job to tackle, don’t worry; there are professionals in your area who can help you with the installation and get you a functional sink where you want one.

Nov. 5, 2021

The Howell Team NOVEMBER 2021 Homeward Bound Newsletter

Posted in Newsletter
Nov. 4, 2021

Sellers Have Incredible Leverage in Today’s Market

With mortgage rates climbing above 3% for the first time in months, serious buyers are more motivated than ever to find a home before the end of the year. Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist for the National Association of Realtors (NAR), puts it best, saying:

“Housing demand remains strong as buyers likely want to secure a home before mortgage rates increase even further next year.”

But the sense of urgency they feel is complicated by the lack of homes for sale in today’s market. According to the latest Existing Home Sales Report from NAR:

“From one year ago, the inventory of unsold homes decreased 13%. . . .”

What Does This Mean for Sellers Today?

With buyers eager to purchase but so few homes available, sellers who list their houses this fall have a tremendous advantage – also known as leverage – when negotiating with buyers. That’s because, in today’s market, buyers want three things:

  • To be the winning bid on their dream home.
  • To buy before rates rise
  • To buy before prices go even higher.

Your Leverage Can Help You Negotiate Your Best Terms

These three buyer needs give homeowners a leg up when selling their house. You might already realize this leverage enables you to sell at a good price, but it also means you can negotiate the best terms to suit your needs.

And since buyer demand is still high, there’s a good chance you’ll get offers from multiple buyers who are willing to compete for your house. When you do, look closely at the terms of each offer to find out which one has the best perks for you.

If you have questions about what’s best for your situation, your trusted real estate advisor can help. They have the expertise and are skilled negotiators in all stages of the sales process.

Bottom Line

Today’s buyers are motivated to purchase a home this year, and that’s great news if you’re thinking of selling. Let’s connect today to discuss how much leverage you have as a seller in today’s market.