5 Sizzling Reasons To Buy A Home During Housing’s Hottest Season

The Heat Is On: 5 Sizzling Reasons to Buy a Home During Housing’s Hottest Season
By Rena Behar | Jun 15, 2017
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flammulate/iStock; stevanovicigor/iStock
The days are getting longer. Ice cream truck jingles echo up and down the block. But the surest sign that summer is here? It just might be those “For Sale” signs popping up like dandelions in your neighborhood.

Yep, we’re smack dab in the middle of the most popular time of the year to buy and sell a home. If you’re thinking of starting your home search, your first instinct as a savvy shopper might be to stay away and wait for the weather—and the market—to cool down. Why battle the crowds and bidding wars if you’re in no rush to move?

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But there’s no reason to sweat the idea of buying in the summer. In fact, there are some distinct advantages to making your way into the marketplace during housing’s hottest season—as long as you can stand the heat of a little competition.

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1. Prices aren’t necessarily higher

“A huge myth about the real estate market is that homes sell for more in the summer and less in the winter. This is simply not true,” says Dippy Chhina of Dippy Real Estate.

Let’s be clear: Home prices do usually peak in June–August. And it’s a seller’s market in most areas. But other forces beyond the summer sun play a major role in a home’s asking price, Chhina notes. They include the number of similar homes also for sale in a given area, interest rates, and the job market.

“What is true, however, is that there are more homes on the market in summer than in the winter, and there is also a higher number of sales in the summer than the winter,” Chhina says.

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Which leads us to our next summer-buying advantage.

2. Inventory is broader

You wouldn’t buy a car from a dealer with only two models for sale, so why limit your options when it comes to picking a house? The open-plan kitchen you’ve been yearning for or a home in a stellar school district is much more likely to pop up in a busier marketplace.

“The large inventory offers significantly more opportunities for purchasers to identify specific floor plans, amenities, and locations,” says Sarah Lilly of Five Star Lakeshore Real Estate. Buyers “feel more confident in their search because additional properties hit the market every week.”

In some less competitive markets, knowing that there are plenty of homes for sale can give you more leverage for price negotiation, and peace of mind knowing that if you have to walk to away, another home will be just around the corner.

3. Buying and selling at the same time could be easier

If you need to sell your current home before you can buy another, you’ll likely have an easier time with the balancing act during the summer. Rather than getting trapped with two mortgages, you could have a more seamless transition in a busier market.

“If the client needs to sell a home before buying, the home will be more likely to sell, and potentially at a good price, allowing the client to purchase their new home sooner,” says Joe Lopez of Connect Realty.

But remember, these transactions take time, so if you’re planning on pulling off a double act, get ready as soon as possible so you can capture as much of that golden season as you can.

4. School’s out for summer

Any beleaguered parent can tell you why this factor is crucial. By waiting until summer to make your move, you can minimize disruption to your kids’ lives. Plus, their schedule is clear to bring them along to showings. (Beware, though, not all agents appreciate young kids underfoot.)

“House hunting during the summer break from school means that kids can more readily attend showings— important when offer time is of the essence and parents want each member to approve of the new family home,” says Orlando Regional Realtor Association President Bruce Elliott, of Regal R.E. Professionals.

And if the sellers have kids, they might also be trying to cement a sale in time for the new school year—and will likely be more motivated toward the end of the season.

“Sellers who find their properties still on the market as summer draws to a close and the ranks of buyers thin out may be more open to price negotiation,” Elliott says. “In addition, those buyers who were unable to secure a home after months of looking and making offers may become fatigued and drop out of the hunt.”

5. You’ll get to know the lay of the land

It’s easier to do a little detective work on your potential home when the weather’s nice and the days are longer. Trees and flowers are in full bloom, so you’ll get a better idea of your prospective new yard. You can step out on that back porch and envision what it will really, truly be like to live there and host your long-anticipated Margarita Mondays. Plus, everyone’s more active, so you’ll get a better feel for the community.

“Summer brings people out of their homes, so while you are home shopping with your agent, you will get the chance to take the pulse of the neighborhood and see your potential neighbors,” says Kyle Springer of South Central Homes.

“Families can often get a feel for the neighborhood’s kid population during the day in the summer,” Elliott says. “Here in Orlando, where daytime temperatures reach the high 90s and so many homes have pools, buyers listen for sounds of shouting and splashing.”

But beware! Sometimes the romance of summer can distract you from some red flags.

“It is fine to stop and smell the roses, but also pay attention to what lurks behind them,” says Jerry Grodesky of Farm and Lake Houses Real Estate.

For example: the eyesore of a junk pile in your neighbor’s yard. Or the giant cellphone tower you didn’t see through those beautifully full trees—that now you can’t unsee. And make sure that foliage isn’t blocking any potential problems with the home, such as foundation issues or peeling roof tiles.

You should also use this opportunity to test how the property holds up in warm weather. See how well the air conditioning works when it’s pushing 100 degrees outside, and open all the windows to see if any stick or simply won’t open. Of course, your home inspector will check these things, but it never hurts to get a jump-start.
Rena Behar is a writer and editor living in Brooklyn. She’s contributed to The Wirecutter, Groupon, Texas Monthly, and other publications. Follow @renadb

Could Paint Be an Energy Source for Homes?

Could Paint Be an Energy Source for Homes?

DAILY REAL ESTATE NEWS | TUESDAY, JUNE 20, 2017
The paint on the wall may soon be a source of energy for a home. Researchers at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, say “solar paint” will be available to homeowners in the next few years.

It’s a sunlight-absorbing paint developed by RMIT researchers that produces hydrogen fuel from solar energy and moist air. Even a brick wall could potentially be turned into an energy-harvesting form of real estate, says lead researcher Torben Daeneke.

“Our new development has a big range of advantages,” Daeneke told Science Daily. “There’s no need for clean or filtered water to feed the system. Any place that has water vapor in the air—even remote areas far from water—can produce fuel. … This system can also be used in very dry but hot climates near oceans. The sea water is evaporated by the hot sunlight, and the vapor can then be absorbed to produce fuel. This is an extraordinary concept, making fuel from the sun and water vapor in the air.”

Source: “Solar Paint Offers Endless Energy From Water Vapor,” Science Daily (June 14, 2017)

Boost Your Credit Score to Buy a home

credit scorePromises of loans for bad credit borrowers, while common amid the housing boom in the early 2000s, are now rare. If you’re interested in buying a home today, know that lenders will carefully check your credit and will rarely approve a loan for someone with seriously bad credit.

For that reason, it’s important to check your credit report and your credit score. Many consumers are surprised (pleasantly or unpleasantly) by their credit score and many find errors on their credit reports. Carefully review your credit report and focus in particular on negative items to see if there are ways you can address them and improve your credit profile and your access to a mortgage.

Credit Scores and Lenders

A lender can be a great source of advice about your particular credit issues and can tell you what minimum credit score is needed for a particular loan program. Different lenders have different loan standards, so while one lender may reject you if you have a credit score of 640, another could give you a loan approval.

In general, FHA-insured loans have lower credit score requirements than conventional loans. In addition, the FHA has loan programs that make it easier for some people who lost a home in a short sale or a foreclosure to get a new mortgage faster. While FHA loans can be easier to qualify for if you have damaged credit, the downside of this loan program is that you must pay mortgage insurance on the loan, usually for the life of the loan. FHA mortgage insurance is typically higher than private mortgage insurance that you must pay for conventional loans if you make a down payment of less than 20 percent. Private mortgage insurance is automatically cancelled when your loan-to-value ratio reaches 78 percent.

Conventional lenders base their interest rates on your credit score, among other factors, so if your credit score is above 740 you’ll pay a slightly lower interest rate than someone with a credit score of 700.

Lenders look at many factors when evaluating you for a mortgage loan, including your debt-to-income ratio, your income and assets, how much your down payment will be and your job history. These compensating factors can sometimes help you overcome a slightly low credit score, but your best chance for a loan approval is to improve your credit score.

Boost Your Credit Score

While there’s no quick fix for bad credit, taking steps to improve your credit profile can raise your score over time:

  •  If you have any collections or judgments against you, pay them off as quickly as possible.
  • Bring your over-the-limit and past-due accounts up-to-date.
  • Pay all bills on time.
  • Try to reduce your credit card debt to 25 percent or less of your credit line on each card.
  • Don’t open new lines of credit.
  • Don’t close your credit card accounts because then you’ll be using more of your overall credit limit.
  • If you have an old credit card that you haven’t used in awhile, you can use it and then pay the bill in full to show that you can responsibly handle credit.

A reputable lender can suggest specific actions such as which credit card bill to pay off if you can’t eliminate your debt, so it would be a wise move to visit a lender as soon as you’re considering buying a home.

More at http://stormteamrealestate.com

5 Traits to Look for in Your Agent

More at http://StormTeamRealEstate.com

BUYERS + SELLERS:  How did you find your agent? Any advice for those still looking for one?

AGENTS: What traits do you think are important for buyers and sellers to look for? Why?

In this internet era, we’ve gotten to a place where we require all of our information in bite-sized, white-and-charcoal grey pieces. But when it comes to creating interpersonal and professional relationships that really work, lists of interview questions and “what to Google” articles can fall short of fully fleshing out the factors that make us mesh with someone.

So let’s go a little deeper. Picking a real estate agent is a business and a relationship challenge – one which has a potentially massive impact on your finances and future enjoyment of the place you and your family live. If you take that seriously, here are a handful of characteristics I recommend you look for as you evaluate prospective agents.

1. Creativity. Some transactions go precisely as planned, clicking right along on schedule. Others – many others – get messy:

  • the loan underwriter issues bizzaro, last-minute document demands

  • the appraisal comes in low

  • the buyer backs out

  • you see 50 homes without any winners, or

  • the inspection reports reveal issues that make you wonder whether the home is a diamond in the rough or a money pit.

Whether your transaction will be easy-peasy or uber-messy, you cannot know until you’re in it. When you’re agent-hunting, it behooves you to look for someone who has the experience and creative problem-solving skill to help you methodically think through the facts, surface alternatives, propose solutions and engineer obstacle workarounds – just in case the going gets tough.

2. Deep, varied expertise. Buying or selling a home is much more of a lifestyle design experience than it is a financial transaction, truth be told. To do it with results that work well for yourself, your family and your finances for the duration, you need an agent that’s an eager partner with you. One that will deep-dive into all the nooks and crannies of your aesthetics, your psychology, your life plans, your financials and even your relationship dynamics.

You also need an agent with deep – not surface – understanding of homes, neighborhoods and local real estate market metrics, practices and contracts, and someone who deeply *gets* the home buying or selling process itself – so they can brief you on it and fruitfully coach you through it.

Have you ever taken a class from a novice teacher vs. a class from an experienced professor? The difference is nuance: a deep, mature understanding of a complex subject allows the more experienced instructor to give you insights into patterns they’ve spotted over time and repeat transactions. Same goes for your real estate pro: you want to make sure that either your agent or someone that will be working with them on your transaction (like their manager or broker) has deep knowledge and understanding in most or all of these areas, so they can share the nuanced insights and patterns they have spotted in the past which you can harness to your advantage in the present.

3. Calm resilience. When you lose out on a home to other offers, it can feel like the end of the world. When you list your home, stage it to the nines, and not a single offer is forthcoming, feelings of discouragement, frustration and even depression can easily arise.  In both cases, it’s easy to delve into fear (fear that you’ll never get the home you need, or will never be able to move on to the next stage of your life) or paralysis (freezing up because you just don’t know what to do – period).

A great agent – and there are thousands and thousands out there – can bring a massive, game-changing dose of calm resilience to the table. They’ve been through this before. They know that there are lots of homes and lots of buyers out there, so losing out on any one is not a death knell to your dreams. They also know how to tell the difference between a normal delay in receiving an offer or an acceptance on your market and when your approach requires some serious course correction (see #4, below).

A great agent will be able to receive the news that you’ve lost out on a home or take in negative feedback from a prospective buyer, call you and deliver it calmly and right along with some smart, constructive suggestions for action items you should work on next, to keep the process moving forward.

4. Frankness and optimism. You want – no – you need your agent to be frankly honest. You need them to be frankly honest with themselves and with you about all facets of the reality you’ll face as you proceed through your transaction. Sellers, you cannot afford to have an agent who will let you persist in fantasy-land beliefs about what your home is worth – contrary to all evidence as to what homes in your area are actually selling for and feedback (read: silence) from prospective buyers who have seen your home – without challenging you to look at the data and adjust your pricing strategy. Buyers, by the same token, you can’t afford to work with an agent who encourages or allows you to make 5, 10, or 15 lowball offers on a home without urging you to face the truth that you need to house hunt at lower price points or make higher offers in order to be successful.

You need an agent who is willing to tell you the truth and have these sorts of hard conversations with you even when you won’t like it.

That said, you want an agent who possesses both this frank integrity and an ultimate optimism that, with right thinking and strategic action, you can and will ultimately succeed at making a great buy or sale.

5. Bandwidth. This one might sound strange, but the fact is that it can be difficult to get the advantages of having the best agent in the world if the agent is wildly over-subscribed and so busy they struggle to respond to calls and emails. This is why I don’t always say a great agent will necessarily have years and years of expertise. Some agents who have wonderful experience and wisdom are simply too busy to do the time-intensive guidance your situation may require. And some agents who are new to real estate bring highly relevant expertise and skills they’ve developed in other careers, have ample time to devote to your transaction and can enlist the real estate-specific insights of an experienced team leader, manager or broker.

If you know you’re going to want to meet up weekly for a house hunting session or debrief with your agent, tell them this up front and ask them flat-out how much time they can devote to your process. Make sure you’re comfortable with their response or solution (example – their listing specialist or partner can meet with you when they can’t) before you make your pick.

My advice for agent-finding is to engage in a multi-step process:

  • First, make sure you get referrals from your friends, colleagues and relatives to the agents they have worked with and love.

  • Also get a few names from our Agent Finder on Trulia, which allows you to get incredibly specific about what sort of homes, areas and transactions your ideal agent will have worked with.

  • Then, check all of your prospective agent candidates out online. Narrow them down a bit by what you see in terms of reviews and style of advice you see them providing on channels like their blog, website or social media pages.

  • Reach out to all the people on your short list through whatever medium you prefer to communicate – phone, email, etc. – and note how quickly you get responses.

  • Then book appointments to meet with a handful of agents and let them present their method to you.

  • Get references and check in with those past clients – ask them to tell you about their transaction experience, warts and all.

By the end of this process, you’ll likely find someone who fits just-right with your own personality, timing and transactional needs and possess these five traits.