Smart Move

Home owners who are considering putting their homes on the market often ask me what suggestions I may have for them prior to listing their homes. Except in rare cases of newer homes, I always recommend a pre-listing home inspection. The reason is simple, too often I have witnessed sales fall through after an buyer does a home inspection. The reason being that they may have uncovered a condition they were not aware of doing their initial visits to the property. Often even the homeowners are surprised. Why gamble on losing a potential buyer. A pre-inspection can alert the seller of a problem, whereby it can be addressed prior to the home going on the market, often for a lot less money than a potential buyer will be asking for. If you uncover a problem and address it, your agent can include that upgrade in their marketing remarks and that could sometimes result in you even getting a better price. Sometimes a home inspector will offer a less costly pre-inspection charge. Get some suggestions and advise from your local Real Estate professional, they know the inspectors and can make sound recommendations. Think of this a small investment that can many times pay big dividends.

A Seller’s Market

With residential inventories at historically low levels, sellers are in a unique position of not only getting their full asking price, but many times, getting over asking. When demand exceeds the supply buyers are forced to be in competition with each other. One smart strategy being used by sellers is to list the home a little below its true market value. How long will these conditions continue, no one can say for sure. Savvy sellers are hiring experienced real estate agents with proven track records in the area of the their home or property. An agent needs to know the market values of not only the homes that have sold, but also of those you will be competing with. This is essential
in order to design a marketing strategy that will lead to a quick sale. A seller’s market does not mean you can list a house that is not in good condition and in need of lots of work or attention and still expect to get a premium price for it. There may be more buyers than in a typical market, however these buyers are not going to buy a bad product or overpay for it. Seasoned agents are your best resource to get sound advice before jumping into the market.
Good luck!

Mistakes Buyers Often Make

Since the start of the Covid pandemic, Americans are moving and making lifestyle changes in unprecedented numbers. Many are getting caught up in the rush and therefore making drastic & emotional changes to their lives. Buying a home while moving to an entirely new community should start with some very important pre-planning. A prime example is buyers often rely on the tax information given on the listing document. Those reported taxes are based on the homes current assessment. Buyers in many cases today are willing to pay far above the asking price, and often far above the assessment. There will be a very strong likelihood that in the not too distant future that the assessment will be adjusted, thereby increasing substantially both the county, town and school taxes. Another example we have seen is many buyers moving to a rural community from a big city & not budgeting for expenses they hadn’t thought about before. The cost of snow removal is a reality, as is lawn care, & even not having a generator can be a costly expense when your are suddenly without power. For the most part, internet access is not an issue in most large cities, not always the case in the country. Another big surprise I have often heard from city dwellers moving into our area is, “Why can’t I get someone to respond to my calls for work I need done?” Unlike metro areas, where there are so many choices of vendors, here your ability to get a quick response are truly limited. Don’t let emotions dictate your actions. Planning in advance and seeking the advice of experienced local & professional Realtor can be a resource that could save you thousand of dollars and reduce the stress of your move.
Plan ahead, and good luck!

Tips For Minimizing A Bidding War

In today’s very competitive seller’s market, here are some suggestions that could help reduce the chance of you getting into a bidding war.
  1. Hire a local buyer’s agent who knows the market you’re interested in.
  2. Give details to that agent of your needs list, not your want list. They will be able to preview any new property for you just as soon as it becomes available, and sometimes prior to it hitting the market.
  3. Get pre-qualified or have a proof of funds letter in advance of your search. Your agent can put you in touch with local lenders or mortgage brokers.
  4. If your agent agrees with the asking price, offer full asking price.
  5. If your agent agrees, remove inspection contingency, instead you can have your agent recommend a local contractor who could come to the house with you.
  6. Ask your agent to find out what is the best time frame for the seller to close, and try to use that date as your closing date.

Red Flags In Our Real Estate Market

People are asking, “How long can we expect this sellers market to continue?” Not an easy question to answer. Here are some interesting trends to look at that might help. Last month, 67 residential properties closed, while this month that number fell to 50. While limited inventory continues to cause home prices to rise, sellers need to realize that no market continues to rise indefinitely. More listings should become available this summer. However the fears of inflation & the threat of higher mortgage rates could slow down the pace of home price appreciation. If homes sit on the market longer, our market will then accumulate more active listings. As more Americans get vaccines, more sellers may be willing to put their houses on the market and that could help to create a ceiling on the median home price growth. As inventory rises, prices will become more stabilized. Again a word of caution for potential sellers, waiting to put your property on the market may not be a good option at this time.

Buyer’s Need A Plan

Today’s Real estate buyers need a plan and strategy in order to buy a home. Currently we are experiencing one the hottest seller’s markets that this area has ever seen. Buyers must be better prepared if they want to be successful in buying a home. First, you need an experienced agent who is on top of the market conditions and vigilant in looking everyday for you for new offerings. Once a new property appears, you should anticipate that you may be competing with other buyers. If your agent agrees that it’s a house worth seeing, get in as soon as possible. Have your pre-qualification or pre-approval documents already in place. Have your agent find out as much as possible about what is most important to the sellers. It is not always the highest selling price. It could be, for example, they will need more time to be able to move. The more information you have about their motivation, the better prepared you will be to make an attractive offer. Be prepared to provide a substantial earnest money deposit, this will give the sellers a further reason to see your level of interest. Minimize the number of requests you make of the seller. If you’re interested, express your willingness to purchase some of their personal items. After consulting with your agent and attorney, you may be willing to perhaps, remove some contingencies. Also, have your agent find out if there was to be a multiple offer situation, how will it be handled. This is often handled differently by many agencies. Being better prepared, can help increase you chance of success.

What’s Next?

This last year has been like the wild west of our local Real Estate market. Residential inventory is at the lowest level in decades. Currently there are only 321 available homes for sale in the entire county. Buyers are scrambling to buy homes just as soon as they hit the market. In the last eight months, the median days on the market for new listings here in Columbia county was only 53 days. Buyers often have to compete with other buyers, and many times are needing to pay above the asking price to secure the home. Buyers should get themselves pre-approved before shopping, not just prequalified. This will allow your offer to stand out if you are in a competition. Also, I suggest buyers should be prepared to act quickly when they find a home that will work for them. Another sound idea, put aside your wants and concentrate on your needs instead. You can aways add those want items at a later date. If you are a seller, now is the time to be in the market when you will have less competition to deal with. Something else that has worked for some our sellers, is to price their homes very competitively, which sometimes leads to multiple offers and in turn can bring a price far above the asking price. The key to all of this is to be prepared, opportunities like this don’t happen very often.

Where Are We Heading?

With the arrival of the new vaccine, finally, we are seeing some signs that our lives may begin to return to some form of living as we once knew it. The impact of this virus will in some ways change our lives forever. Now living near our place of employment may no longer be the most important reason for us in choosing where we call home.

Affordable housing, more space, and living in less congested surroundings suddenly influences where and how we choose to live.

Lots of folks, who left the city during the height of the pandemic to go to their second homes found that living in the country has had lots of additional benefits. Some have already decided to make these homes their primary homes. Others are continuing to look for homes in the county. Lots of challenges remain, with local availability of residential homes at historically low levels at only 350 currently active on the market. Not knowing what our future will be, owning a home in the country sure sounds like a smart investment, and a safer option, for many of us who wonder what will come next.

-Charles “Chuck” Bartolo

Where Is Our Real Estate Market Heading?

With the current surge in home prices and the median price for a residential property now at the all-time high of $377,000, along with historically low interest rates and current residential inventory hitting the lowest level that I have ever recorded at 291, our market remains a sellers market in the new year. There are however some possibilities with a new administration impact our local Real Estate Market. A looming threat of continuing increases to our national debt could cause increases to our personal taxes. A sluggish economy could also see a reduction in the number of home buyers. What can savvy buyers be doing right now? Get pre-approved early, hire a good agent to do the leg work for you, and when you see a buying opportunity act quickly in order to avoid being put in a bidding war. If your a seller, get your home ready to go on the market now, don’t wait until spring. Price it correctly. Don’t wait, all markets can change very quickly. No market can continue to go up indefinitely. Good luck to all , and may 2021 be far better year for everyone.

Smart Real Estate Moves 2021

With the current surge in home prices this year, the median price for a residential property is now at $333,500. This is far above what most people living here in Columbia County can afford. The result of this is that many first-time home buyers are having to put their plans to buy a home on hold. This will push the demand for rentals to a new level, thus pushing rental prices even higher. Investing in multi-family homes would be a wise move to consider. As mortgage rates remain at historical lows, banks are more willing to finance investment properties which also reduces their risks. Another option to explore if possible, is to live in one of the unit’s for at least one year, thereby being able to qualify for an FHA loan, as an owner occupied property. You also would benefit from the even lower mortgage rates, as well as smaller down payments. Under the right circumstances you may enjoy the additional benefit of living rent free, if there is sufficient income to cover your expenses. Owning Real Estate as part of your portfolio can provide some insulation against the possible uncertainty of the stock market. Good Luck in the new year!