May 20, 2015
Just as with movie credits, the features you find in Frankford listings have a “billing order.” The “stars” may not be printed in gigantic superstar type—but the order in which they appear do reflect changes in current buyer priorities. For a homeowner soon to add their property to this summer’s Frankford listings, it’s important to learn which features currently tend to attract the most favorable attention from prospective buyers. It’s of more than marketing interest, as well: knowing what’s in and what out can also help determine where improvement dollars should go.
The question is, which features are most desirable, and which formerly popular features have become passé: “so Twentieth Century!”
New answers to these questions usually appear a couple of times a year—and 2015 is no exception. The latest one I found was on the Realtor.com website. It went into recent history, describing in detail how listings’ features for newly-built homes have been undergoing rapid change over the past few years. In general (and probably as a reaction to the difficult economic times that only lately have seen improvement), over-the-top luxury details are fading, being replaced in favor of features centered on efficiency, organization, and pragmatism.
Examples of the kinds of details less likely to be found in today’s listings are two-story foyers, master bathrooms with whirlpool tubs, and luxurious details like outdoor kitchens. (“NOPE” in capital letters is shown stenciled over a picture of one of those outdoor kitchens…which, I have to admit, really does look like it belongs in a hotel). Whereas ten years ago, those outdoor kitchens with fancy wine racks might have been found near the top of a listing, today it might be replaced by ‘walk-in closets’ or even, simply, a ‘laundry room.’
“It’s not sexy,” says one industry executive, “but that’s what people want.”
The most extensive survey of home builder trends is conducted by their national association, the NAHB. By quizzing nearly 400 builders, they concluded that other features on the decline include outdoor fireplaces, sunrooms, and media rooms. Taking their places (and likely candidates for what we’ll soon see creeping toward the tops of some of our Frankford listings) are the walk-in closets (since people want to get out the door efficiently first thing in the morning) and well-organized and well-lit laundry rooms (to improve the efficiency of the household).
As part of a “post-recession cultural shift toward pragmatism,” this makes perfect sense. But that word “post-recession” may offer a clue to what could be the temporary nature of the NAHB’s 2015 findings. For example, granite countertops—once a ‘luxury’ item in area listings—are now more popular than the laminate alternatives. And those supposedly unpopular media rooms are not vanishing totally. They’re simply being replaced by spaces that are “more flexible.”
If you’re soon to be scrutinizing your own home to determine which of its best features to emphasize, I’d be pleased to furnish an opinion—it will be based on the results we’re seeing from today’s Frankford listings! Call/Text me Russell Stucki at (302) 228-7871, email me at email@example.com, visit more listings at www.beachrealestate.com.
May 20, 2015
Here is a one-question True or False exam that every future Lincoln first-time home buyer should take:
True or False:
One sure way to build a strong credit report is to pay your bills on time.
Particularly for a first-time Lincoln home buyer, being able to present a strong credit report can make the difference between being able to afford a quality home that satisfies all your ‘must haves’—or one you just sort of settle for.
It’s about how much you can comfortably afford. The interest rate you will be offered is directly related to your bill-paying history, and a percentage point (or more) can make a big difference in your monthly budget. Because lending institutions charge more or less based upon the degree of risk they believe a loan carries, the stronger your credit report, the “more house” your monthly payment will cover.
Of course, since a string of unbroken records of punctual payments is what lenders look for, you might think that the answer to my one-question True or False exam would be an unqualified ‘True’—but not so fast. There’s a small catch is in the unbroken records that they look for. The word records.
Just paying your bills on time doesn’t build a strong credit report unless there are records of it—and for Lincoln first-timers who have been paying rent for years, all those prompt payments could well be missing in action. The surprising reason lies in the nature of our whole credit reporting system.
As the L.A. Times spotlighted last summer, landlords, phone and cable companies, “and many other creditors don’t report your payments” to the big three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). They aren’t required to do so. If you’re planning on becoming one of our Lincoln first-time home buyers, that might be a big deal—especially since rent payments usually make up the lion’s share of what you buy on credit. But you can do something about it!
Recognizing the difficulty some first timers were having in qualifying for home loans precisely because of such missing data, about five years ago, the credit bureaus teamed up with services like RentTrack that enable tenants to pay their rents online—and get credit for them. TransUnion and Experian also introduced services like “ResidentCredit” and “RentBureau” that encourage property managers to report rent payments for their tenants. That makes sense for landlords, too, because when rent payments are recorded, it enables them to better gauge the creditworthiness of their next batch of applicants.
Making sure your payments are being recorded will put today’s renters ahead of the game when they eventually decide they’re ready for the next step: home ownership. It simplifies the answer to that One-Question True or False credit report question greatly…to a simple “True”! Call/Text me Russell Stucki at (302) 228-7871, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, visit more listings at www.beachrealestate.com.
May 20, 2015
Last week, The Wall Street Journal ran an article about personal finances that Fenwick Island mortgage payers who are at or near retirement age should find thought-provoking. It centered on the idea that today’s retirees are often making a decision that differs from what past generations have chosen.
The basis is twofold. First, it’s undeniable that the 60- or 65-year-olds of today rightly expect a future that’s likely to stretch one or more decades longer than was the case for their grandparents. Improved health care and health awareness have combined to extend life expectancies considerably. The WSJ didn’t mention it, but some quick research reveals that while a baby boomer’s parents (assuming they were born in the 1920s) had a longevity expectation at birth of only about 55 years, the CDC says that today’s average 65-year-old male can expect to live another 18 years—with ladies even out-surviving them by another 2½ years.
Such a radical advance combines with a second development—today’s low mortgage interest rates—to create a shift in thinking by many as they hit retirement age. Experts believe that previous generations tended to feel “they were in the last inning” of life, and thus needed to pick a safe path regarding their residences. Paying off their home’s mortgage was given very high priority—one that was almost universally unquestioned. Home ownership unencumbered by a mortgage was taken to be a sound part of a worry-free old age.
But today’s Fenwick Island retirees are significantly less defensive in their thinking. According to The Journal, “Maybe their parents paid off the house before retiring, but many baby boomers say it makes more sense to carry a mortgage.” Instead of surrendering their cash or investments, the 21st Century trend is for mature Americans to take advantage of today’s low interest rates. The long time run-up in the stock market has also made the choice that much more appealing.
Fenwick Island seniors may also be departing from the way previous generations behaved. A Merrill Lynch/Age Wave study in August found that 30% of relocating retirees were moving to larger homes! And let’s face it: the whole notion of retiring is undergoing a transformation as more and more of the 60+ set realize they don’t want (or can’t afford) to quit working altogether. With so many good years before them, many are embarking on new careers—often elatedly following pursuits they’d “never had time for.”
With mortgage rates in Fenwick Island continuing to roost down in the bargain basement, today’s seniors aren’t alone in recognizing that this summer represents a rare home buying opportunity. If you are coming to the same conclusion, I hope you will give me a call to chat about today’s many Fenwick Island offerings! Call/Text me Russell Stucki at (302) 228-7871, email me at email@example.com, visit more listings at www.beachrealestate.com.
May 20, 2015
Whenever you are getting ready to buy or sell a residence, taking the temperature of the local housing market is part of how you prepare to engage. When Millsboro real estate prices are on the rise, bargain hunters know they’ll have to scramble. When Millsboro real estate prices are flat or on the downturn, spotting good value in the local listings is easier. A slow market means that those sellers who are impatient to move on will be willing to reduce their asking price. They will tend to “find the market” more quickly, rather than waiting it out.
Our Millsboro real estate prices are seldom in exact lockstep with the national market—but when it moves, the impact is felt sooner or later. Of all the national barometers that are out there, the pre-eminent one is the research done by under the Case-Shiller banner.
At the end of last month, the latest S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index again confirmed the uptrend we’ve been seeing for nearly 3 years now. No surprise there: nationally, residential real estate prices continued to rise at the moderate clip that we’ve grown accustomed to. The only standouts were in the 20-City Composite (the single month rise of .5% was the largest increase since July) and in Denver and Dallas—both of which have now actually surpassed the peaks registered at the height of the real estate price bubble (which might have Coloradans and Texans wondering if it was a bubble at all)…
But what was unusually interesting were some observations published at the end of the Case-Shiller report, in the Analysis section. It noted that the data marked the 34th consecutive month of year-over-year price gains, and that home real estate prices “continue to rise and outpace both inflation and wage gains.” It pointed out that, nationally, average residential real estate prices are within 10% of the “housing boom peak.” And then it came up with an insight that puts things in perspective in a way that hasn’t appeared elsewhere. This by S&P Dow Jones Index Chairman David Bitzer:
“A better sense of where home prices are can be seen by starting in January 2000, before the housing boom accelerated…”
Looking at inflation-adjusted numbers, the latest U.S. real estate prices as registered in the Index rose just a touch under 30% from January 2000 to February 2015. In other words, when you remove the whole statistical bulge—the “bubble” phenomenon—out of the picture, residential real estate prices have risen at an annual 1.7% rate. That’s real appreciation, adjusted for inflation. Slow—but “steady as she goes!”…and for the past three years or so, it’s more than doubled that long-term gain.
Millsboro homeowners whose stress levels went up and down with the extreme price rise and fall would have been a lot more comfortable had they just snoozed through the whole affair, confident that the long-term history of real estate demonstrates, as the name implies, just about the most ‘real’ investment you can make.
When you get ready to take a look at the residential market, I hope you will want to give me the first call. I’ll share the latest up-to-the-minute info on Millsboro real estate prices and activity that will put everything into meaningful perspective! Call/Text me Russell Stucki at (302) 228-7871, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, visit more listings at www.beachrealestate.com.