5 Things for Home Buyers and Sellers to Consider in 2024

Does 2024 include a big move for you? From first-time buyers to seasoned investors, here’s a list of five things for home buyers and sellers to consider in 2024 to better prepare them for the real estate journey ahead.

Interest and mortgage rates.

It’s always a good idea for potential home buyers and sellers to keep an eye on interest and mortgage rates. Since October 2023, mortgage rates have begun to steadily decline from 8% to 7–6%. But rates will most likely remain volatile.

Experts suggest paying attention to the Federal Reserve’s interest rate decisions for a hint at where mortgage rates are going in 2024. 

The long-term value of owning a home. 

Homeownership is one of the most reliable and quickest ways to build wealth for a variety of reasons. First of all, it stabilizes a homeowner’s housing expenses with fixed monthly payments. Second of all, as you continue to pay off your mortgage loan, you build equity in the home.

Hence, you add value to your net worth.

Think about what you need versus what you would like. 

Whether you are a first-time home buyer or you’ve done it before, figuring out your needs versus what you want helps you narrow your search. And, from there, you can begin adding on those wants. 

Industry experts have predicted that a few of those key features for 2024 include sustainability, luxury amenities and seamless outdoor-indoor living spaces. 

Calculate your budget. 

Knowing your budget is not a new idea, but it remains one of the top things for home buyers and sellers to consider in 2024. In general, designating about 25% of your net income toward a mortgage payment is a good rule of thumb. 

It’s a good idea to work with your local Realtor or mortgage lender to help calculate your budget. 

Working with an experienced local Realtor. 

Finally, when it comes to things for home buyers and sellers to consider in 2024, working with a knowledgeable local expert is key. In terms of finding the right Realtor for you, talk to a few different Realtors. Ask them questions, read their reviews and ask about their rates and fees, for example.

If you aren’t sure where to start when it comes to finding a Realtor in Lee County, our member search offers a listing of Realtors, real estate offices, affiliates and more. 

Summary

A new year goes hand-in-hand with new possibilities and opportunities, and that includes investing in real estate. Become more familiar with our local market and the opportunities ahead by connecting with us on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn, where we share local statistics, insights and more. For more buying and selling tips, local news and trends, continue to read our blogs. 

Real Estate Defined: An Overview of Seller Concessions

Buying a home is a big deal. Selling a home is a big deal. There are a lot of moving parts and factors to consider on both sides, including the cost. But costs can quickly go beyond a list price. Let’s look at an overview of seller concessions as an example.

What are seller concessions?

The best way to begin an overview of seller concessions is to explain what seller concessions are exactly. To simplify, seller concessions can sweeten the deal and could help expedite the selling process.

More specifically, seller concessions cover specific costs associated with buying a house that the seller agrees to pay. Seller concessions could include certain home improvements or repairs as well as some of the closing costs.

For instance, seller concessions may include several different fees such as the inspection fees, appraisal fees and the attorney fees.

Even though seller concessions can help lower the upfront costs and attract buyers, there are pros and cons for both buyers and sellers.

Seller concessions for buyers and sellers

For buyers, the upside to seller concessions is it can save you a significant amount at the closing table, making a home more affordable. This can also allow potential buyers the chance to make a higher offer, which may have a better chance of standing out in a competitive market.

From the seller’s perspective, seller concessions may speed up the sale of your property by making it more attractive to buyers in a crowded market.

Summary

Now that you’ve read an overview of seller concessions and what they could mean for you as a buyer or seller, reach out to your local Realtor to discuss your next move within our market. You can also learn more about our local market, real estate trends and other industry news by reading our blogs!

9 Factors to Consider When Determining an Offer Price on a Home

You finally found it—the home of your dreams! Now what? It’s time to make an offer. Your buyer’s agent will guide you through the entire process, including sharing these nine factors to consider when determining an offer price on a home.

Making an offer

Before you can make an offer, there are several factors to consider when determining an offer price on a home. Are you ready to figure out where to start? Now is the time to ask your REALTOR® about the following.

The home’s current list price.

For starters, what is the home’s list price? Is the asking price in line with the fair market value? If so, is it within your overall budget?

The sold price of similar homes in your area.

Your buyer’s agent can provide you with valuable information, including what similar homes in your area recently sold for. Commonly referred to as “comps,” this information offers you a reasonable baseline in terms of a starting offer.

How long has the house been on the market?

In a nutshell, if the home has been available for longer than average, sellers may be more willing to negotiate or accept a lower offer.

On the other hand, if the property is new to the market, the offer may need to be higher.

Look at the condition of the home.

Before you make an offer, take the time to learn about the home’s history and pay attention to its details. When was the house built, what types of building materials were used, what is the square footage?

What are the home’s top features and amenities? Is it in need of repairs or is it move-in ready?

Consider seller concessions.

And the questions to ask yourself continue. Will you be asking the seller to make any last-minute improvements?

Or, would you want them to cover the closing costs? These are the sorts of questions to review with your agent.

Outline exactly what’s included with the home.

Make sure the agreement and offer clearly define what is included with the home, such as appliances or window treatments.

Add in the earnest money.

When you get ready to make your offer, remember to add in the earnest, or deposit, money.

Factor in home inspection contingencies.

It may be a good idea to consider the unknowns that could be uncovered during the home inspection. Leave room in your budget for any potential updates or repairs.

Is there flexibility in your offer?

Finally, when it comes to factors to consider when determining an offer price on a home, did you give yourself some wiggle room? Is your offer going to fall at the top, middle or low end of your budget?

If the price point is firm, can you sweeten your offer in other ways? Consider being flexible when it comes to requested repairs, the closing date or the closing costs, for instance.

Summary

Bottom line: even after doing your research and carefully considering several factors to determine your offer price, the sellers could turn it down. But, remember, your trusted local REALTOR® is on your side and ready to negotiate on your behalf!

Are you looking for additional real estate tips? Keep reading our blogs for more!

Real Estate Defined: Home Inspections and What to Expect

When purchasing a home, a home inspection can save you thousands of dollars in unexpected repairs. It’s important to know exactly what you are getting into. Let’s take a closer look at home inspections and what to expect.

What is a home inspection?

A home inspection is a visual assessment of a home’s physical condition and mechanical systems, including the roof, ceilings, walls, floors, windows, doors, plumbing and more.

An inspector helps make sure there are no hidden issues in a house before the buyer commits. It is important to know about home inspections and what to expect in order to do your due diligence before purchasing a home.

In addition to the home’s physical condition and mechanical systems, inspectors will also check major appliances and the heating and air.

What happens during a home inspection?

During a home inspection, the inspector has three main tasks.

  1. Identify any possible issues with the house.
  2. Suggest fixes.
  3. Write a report, including photos, noting all observed concerns.

This report is vital for the buyer and agent. Based on this report, a buyer can request repairs from the seller.

Things to look out for that home inspectors won’t check

While inspectors assist in determining physical and mechanical issues, they typically only address issues that can be seen with the naked eye.

Inspectors will not put themselves in danger. For example, if a roof is too steep, they will not climb up to check for missing shingles. Instead, they’ll try and use binoculars.

Basic home inspections do not include any of the following:

  • Swimming pools
  • Wells
  • Septic systems
  • Structural engineering work
  • Fireplaces or chimneys

For wood-burning fireplaces, many inspectors will open and close the dampers to make sure they’re working and look up chimneys for obstructions, but that is all.

Summary

Now that you know about home inspections and what to expect, make sure you show up with your agent on the day of the inspection. This allows you to ask questions, review the inspection report and prepare to negotiate repairs.

For more industry insights, continue reading our blogs.

8 Things to Keep In Mind When Buying a Home in the Fall

Just as the seasons change, so do peak real estate times. That means now is the ideal time to share eight things to keep in mind when buying a home in the fall that may work to a buyer’s advantage!

Less competition.

Fall is typically considered the off-season in real estate. Therefore, buyers may have less competition.

What’s more, inventory more often than not tends to stay the same, which means there are still plenty of homes available.

Buyers have time to negotiate.

Less competition also means the odds of getting caught in a bidding war go down. Hence, buyers can take back a little more control.

This includes everything from negotiating the price to asking for your preferred closing date.

More available help.

In general, since it’s slower, real estate professionals and other service workers have more time on their hands. Thus, they have more time to focus on you!

Expect prompt responses from your Realtor, lenders, contractors, inspectors and more this time of year.

Sellers are motivated.

Some sellers may have come on strong in the peak spring and summer months. They may have overpriced their properties or struggled to find the right buyers.

New sellers usually have a good reason for listing their homes this time of year. In the end, all signs point to motivated sellers, which is good news for buyers!

You might enjoy better rates.

As the year winds down, mortgage lenders and bankers may be open to discussing a slightly better deal just to get the deal done.

No matter what, it’s always good to shop around and ask about savings when it comes to interest or even down payments.

First-time buyers get tax breaks.

Remember, first-time homebuyers receive property tax and mortgage deductions. This holds true even if you don’t close until December.

You’ll see the house in a different light.

Next on the things to keep in mind when buying a home in the fall is how it looks without the spring flowers and summer sun. When you shop for a house in the fall, you may get a better idea of what it’s like on a cloudy or rainy day.

You may also get a better look at the exterior without all that landscaping acting as camouflage.

Save on home décor.

Who doesn’t love shopping for their new home? If you move into your new home at the end of the year, you will hit the jackpot on year-end and holiday sales!

You will be able to bargain hunt for everything from new furniture to new appliances to new throw pillows.

Summary

Did these things to keep in mind when buying a home in the fall come as a pleasant surprise? If you think the time is right to start your home search, connect with a local Lee County Realtor today. For more industry insights and home buying-and-selling tips, keep reading our blogs.

6 Questions to Ask Yourself When Considering a Neighborhood

Maybe you’re a longtime local looking for a change. Or, you’re an out-of-town buyer who has a bit to learn about the area. Either way, these questions to ask yourself when considering a neighborhood can have a big impact on your quality of life. Don’t make an offer without running through them first!

Will you be dealing with a Homeowner’s Association (HOA)?

Opinions on HOAs can be mixed. Some love how they ensure that home values stay high in the neighborhood with regulations in place. Others think they can be a little overbearing.

They will also come with additional costs, so you should keep the financial aspect in mind as well. When perusing a potential neighborhood, be sure to ask whether there is an HOA and if so, how that specific HOA operates.

What is the neighborhood close to?

Proximity can be a big advantage—or disadvantage, depending on what’s near your neighborhood.

Grocery stores, schools, and great downtown areas are all a plus. Sewage treatment plants, livestock farms, and highways, on the other hand, can ding your property value—and make life a whole lot more stressful.

It’s always wise to take a drive around the area, just to see if you’ll like where you’ll be living.

What are the schools like?

Speaking of schools—they’re one of the questions to ask yourself when considering a neighborhood. What schools is the neighborhood zoned for, and what are they like?

You don’t even need to have children to benefit from a great school system. The better the education, the higher your home value will be—and it could even make it easier to sell in the future.

Is it safe?

Some neighborhoods are safer than others. Buying a home is a big investment—and you will do yourself a disservice if you don’t determine how safe the area is.

If you don’t know where to start, call the local police departmentand ask them about safety and crime rates.

Is it new construction or an established development?

New construction neighborhoods may be in the development phase for months or years to come. While they offer the advantages of a brand-new house, you may find the construction distracting or overwhelming.

Meanwhile, established developments likely will not have the same level of activity. As a drawback, they may need updating.

How do the other homes look?

The appearance and value of surrounding homes can impact your house’s property value. Take a little time to drive around the neighborhood. You can also look up estimates on nearby homes online.

Summary

The homebuying process can be confusing. Even with these questions to ask yourself when considering a neighborhood to help, you’ll benefit from having expert guidance. That’s why it’s so important to hire a skillful, experienced Realtor who knows the area inside and out.

Well, our members fit the bill! Contact the Lee County Association of Realtors to begin. As for learning more about how to navigate the market, browse our blog here.

5 Items Lenders Look For When Reviewing Your Mortgage Application

Before you score your dream home, you usually need to secure a loan. What’s a good way to do that? For starters, you can review these five items lenders look for when reviewing your mortgage application now to see how you stack up.

Income and Expenses

Obviously, lenders will look at your income—and having steady income is a good thing. In a nutshell, good income equals good chances of making your payments consistently.

However, lenders will look on the other end of the spectrum too. They will review your expenses—fixed and flexible—to help determine your debt-to-income ratio.

Down Payment

Down payments vary and depend on buyers’ personal situations. With that said, typically the larger the down payment, the better.

For instance, lenders are more likely to give lower interest rates with lower loan amounts. In general, a solid number to aim for when it comes to down payments is 20 percent.

Credit History

This is one of the items lenders look for when reviewing your mortgage application that is in-depth. First of all, it goes well beyond your credit score. Lenders will want to see a full credit report.

Below is a quick look at other factors lenders might check:

  • Payment history: It pays to make payments on time. Having a good payment track record when it comes to credit cards and past loans reflects well on potential borrowers.
  • Negative marks: This includes missed payments, collections, delinquent accounts or bankruptcy.
  • Recent credit applications: Some lenders may see too many recent applications for lines of credit as a sign of financial woes.
  • Being an authorized user: Be careful who you share credit card accounts with. If you are an authorized user on someone else’s card, how they handle it reflects on your report as well.

These are but a few prime examples of what lenders will discover in your credit report. The good news is you can also access your credit report for free at least once a year at AnnualCreditReport.com.

Employment History

Basically, proof of stable employment for multiple years works in your favor. It demonstrates a pattern of responsible behavior.

Liquid Assets

Perhaps liquid assets can be thought of as security blankets for lenders. Knowing what assets borrowers could turn to cash quickly in a pinch is comforting when it comes to their return.

Summary

Remember, this list of items lenders look for when reviewing your mortgage application is just a start. Consider being proactive and accessing your credit report. Then make any adjustments you can to improve your overall report.

In the meantime, you can always talk to your Realtor more about what lenders may consider as well as what you, as a borrower, should look for in a lender. Check out our other blogs for more real estate news and local market trends!