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What's the most common home-buying mistake? If you're reading this from a cramped living room, or while lying in your itty-bitty "master" bedroom, you probably know the answer: buying a too-small home.

The mistake is so common that I—a seasoned real estate writer!—made it, too. And plenty more otherwise-smart homeowners are realizing their starter home might be their forever home and wishing they had sprung for a few more bedrooms.

"All too often, this mistake is made by first-time home buyers upgrading from an apartment rental," says Mark Cianciulli, co-founder of The CREM Group.

But soon enough, the buyers realize their mistake—just like we did. Our cozy two-bedroom suited us fine until we began floating the idea of having kids. Panic quickly gripped us: As two work-from-home adults with three animals and regular visitors (thanks, out-of-state fam!), we didn't even know where we'd put them.

Suddenly, calling our home "cozy" seemed like a euphemism for something far more sinister.

Fellow small-home buyers, don't give up hope: Making your adorable abode work long-term isn't an impossible task. Here's how to make your cramped space function for you.

1. Add on to your home

If you adore the neighborhood, adding space to your existing home can turn a cramped cottage into a lifelong home. Check local restrictions first, then consider whether you could double your square footage with a second story, or transform an unused part of the backyard into a master suite.

This is the easiest way to make a tiny house suit your family's growing needs. But keep your budget in mind.

"This can be an expensive undertaking," Cianciulli says. "You're essentially building a new portion to the home."

Costs vary dramatically depending on your location. Expect to spend $80 to $200 per square foot to expand your home's footprint, and $100 to $300 per square foot to add a second story.

2. Inside, think vertical

You're not interested in selling, and you definitely don't have the budget to add on. No sweat! Think up. Find a talented carpenter and get yourself some serious built-ins—complete with hidden helpers.

"It's relatively easy to complement built-ins with clever, space-saving furniture that not only looks great, but serves many purposes," says Andrew Hillman, a broker at Hillman Real Estate.

Create gorgeous workstations by integrating a desk that folds into a bookshelf, or upgrade your laundry space with pull-out drying racks. Use every inch of real estate to make your home feel like a mansion.

3. Reconfigure the layout

Ready to knock down some walls Chip "Demo Day!" Gaines–style? Your floor plan will thank you.

"The best and most economical solution can be reconfiguring the existing layout of the home," Cianciulli says.

Perhaps your home would feel larger if you transformed your rarely used dining room into a master bedroom. Or maybe the living room is awkwardly placed, interrupting the home's flow.

"Even if each day has you frantically searching for ways to streamline and simplify, each home has the potential to be efficient with the right design," says Larry Greene, the president of design and remodeling company Case Indy.

But this isn't a DIY job: Hire a professional architect or remodeling company to creatively reconfigure your space. Consider going with a local company that has worked with similar homes.

"They'll be able to show you how remodelers have dealt with similar design problems and provide solutions that are specific to the challenges of your local area," Greene says.

4. Swap out your furniture

Maybe you used to have an oversize living room—so you bought a huge sectional. Now it's crammed into your current home's much-smaller TV room, making the entire floor plan feel cramped.

It's time to ditch old furniture that doesn't suit your space and integrate sleek, smaller pieces.

A few years ago, Hillman helped a buyer purchase a small city apartment. Then came buyer's remorse. Hillman stepped in to help her redesign, choosing minimalist, transformative furniture.

Soon, "she was happy about her hip, trendy, spacious small home," he says. "She's now addicted to optimizing and organizing her home with creative furniture concepts."

In addition to ditching bulky items, choose furniture that has storage or does double duty, like this industrial pop-up coffee table ($599) from West Elm.

5. Expand your outdoor space

A versatile outdoor living area "immediately expands your living room outward, making it a fun place to entertain and relax with guests," Greene says.

If you're located in a warm climate—or even one that enjoys a decently long summer—create unique, cozy dining and entertaining spaces outside. Need inspiration? Lifestyle blog A Beautiful Mess' comfortable outdoor living room is serious backyard goals.

If you live in a cold climate, you don't have to sacrifice outdoor living, either. Transform a rarely used porch into a sunroom and enjoy natural light all year long.

6. Sell your home

OK, fine: This isn't really salvaging the situation. But any discussion including the words "I hate my house" deserves at least a quick peek at this last-ditch option. If you're suddenly expecting triplets, a two-bedroom bungalow very well might strain your sanity.

If you're truly down in the dumps, consult with your real estate agent. This is "the obvious solution," Cianciulli says, but also a major commitment.

Consider exhausting all the options above before you settle on selling, and prepare to make difficult sacrifices. If you picked your too-small space because it fit your budget and you loved the surrounding neighborhood, don't expect to find a larger home nearby unless you're willing to pony up significantly more cash.

Contact The McLeod Group Network to start the search for your new home! 971.208.5093 or admin@mgnrealtors.com

By: Realtor.com, Jamie Wiebe

Sitting on the Sidelines? 4 Reasons to Get Up and Buy a Home This Year

by Amy McLeod Group


The housing landscape of the past several years hasn't exactly been friendly to buyers: the bidding wars, the eye-popping prices, the houses that sold before a "For Sale" sign even went up. It's enough to make any of us put our search on hold until we have a fighting chance at landing a home—without draining our bank accounts.

If you've been sitting on the sidelines, we've got good news and we've got bad news: Things are finally slowing down. But they might not slow down fast enough for your liking.

Don't despair, though—this year still stands to look better than last for aspiring home buyers.

"If your resolution is to buy a home in 2019, you’ll have some challenges to contend with, but also some opportunities," says Danielle Halerealtor.com's chief economist.

The devil's in the details, though, and there are quite a few factors that could dictate whether this is your year to buy. Here are the four biggest reasons to take the plunge now

1. There will be more available homes—or at least, not fewer

Tight home inventory has sidelined would-be buyers for several years now. Even if you could afford a home, too few of them were hitting the market to keep up with demand. Or, when they did, there was a good chance they were snapped up before you could even call your real estate agent.

House hunting felt especially bleak last winter, when nationwide inventory hit its lowest level in recorded history. By the end of 2018, though, things finally started looking up, and in 2019, experts predict more opportunities—and less frustration—for buyers.

But there's a catch: Not everyone will be able to afford those opportunities. That’s because the markets seeing the most increases in available homes tend to be more expensive, Hale says.

“For buyers, there is going to be more inventory. So that’s a bright spot," she says. "The downside of that bright spot is it might not be in their price range.”

If you don't have big bucks, though, all is not lost. The news is still good—just tempered. The supply of affordable homes for sale (under $300,000, which is about the median home price right now) might not be growing dramatically just yet, but it's certainly not decreasing anymore.

2. Skyrocketing prices will slow their roll

While inventory went down, down, down over the past few years, home prices did the opposite. Will we still see staggering dollar amounts throughout 2019?

It's another mixed bag here: Expect home prices to continue to rise (blah), but at a slower pace than they have been (yay). Hale predicts a 2.2% increase in home prices this year—compared with a nearly 5% increase last year.

That's not nothin'. And if you can get in the market before those moderate increases, all the better.

"We do still anticipate rising home prices, particularly for below-median-priced homes, so buyers in that price range may have some incentive to buy sooner rather than later," Hale says.

And there's a silver lining to those climbing home prices, too—again, for some of you.

"As rising costs raise the bar to homeownership, some would-be buyers will be knocked out of the market, so that remaining buyers may have less competition to contend with than they saw in 2018," Hale says.

3. Mortgage rates are lower than expected

There was a lot of discouraging talk at the end of 2018 about increasing rates—and there was good reason to be nervous. Rates on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, the most popular home loan, were approaching 5%—and expected to trend upward throughout 2019.

But that hasn't happened.

In fact, rates have been falling—perplexing the pros but creating a prime opportunity for home shoppers. Rates did tick up slightly last week—for the first time in 2019—to 4.46%. But that's still historically low.

"That’s definitely a huge opportunity for buyers because it drastically improves affordability," Hale says. "And I think that if these low rates persist for a little while, then we’ll actually see stronger sales than we originally forecast."

"Lower mortgage rates will get buyers off the sidelines," adds Ali Wolf, director of economic research at Meyers Research. "Consumers should take advantage of the returned purchasing power, and in fact, we're already seeing early 2019 data that suggest they are."

But don't get complacent, Hale warns: "I do think that the long-term direction of mortgage rates is going to be back up. We’ve still got a strong economy."

4. Rents are rising—and won't be falling anytime soon

Buying a home is a scary-expensive endeavor in the best of circumstances, and when prices are climbing, it can be downright soul-sucking.

But bear this in mind: Rents are rising, too. In fact, they very rarelydecline, Hale says. And while buying a home is generally going to cost you more in the short term than renting, you have to look at the bigger picture. Buying means you're building equity—and not forking over your hard-earned dollars to a landlord.

"The challenge will be finding a home that fits needs, some wants, and still stays within the monthly budget," Hale says.

If you can afford to buy now, you'll thank yourself in the long run—and whenever your friends get their annual rent increases.

The McLeod Group Network can help you find your new home! 971.208.5093 or admin@mgnrealtors.com

By: Realtor.com, Rachel Stults

Buying a House This Year? This Should Be Your 1st Step!

by Amy McLeod Group


In many markets across the country, the number of buyers searching for their dream homes outnumbers the number of homes for sale. This has led to a competitive marketplace where buyers often need to stand out. One way to show that you are serious about buying your dream home is to get pre-qualified or pre-approved for a mortgage before starting your search.

Even if you are not in an incredibly competitive market, understanding your budget will give you the confidence of knowing whether or not your dream home is within your reach.

Freddie Mac lays out the advantages of pre-approval in the ‘My Home’ section of their website:

“It’s highly recommended that you work with your lender to get pre-approved before you begin house hunting. Pre-approval will tell you how much home you can afford and can help you move faster, and with greater confidence, in competitive markets.”

One of the many advantages of working with a local real estate professional is that many have relationships with lenders who will be able to help you through this process. Once you have selected a lender, you will need to fill out their loan application and provide them with important information regarding “your credit, debt, work history, down payment and residential history.”

Freddie Mac describes the ‘4 Cs’ that help determine the amount you will be qualified to borrow:

  1. Capacity: Your current and future ability to make your payments
  2. Capital or cash reserves: The money, savings, and investments you have that can be sold quickly for cash
  3. Collateral: The home, or type of home, that you would like to purchase
  4. Credit: Your history of paying bills and other debts on time

Getting pre-approved is one of many steps that will show home sellers that you are serious about buying, and it often helps speed up the process once your offer has been accepted.

Bottom Line

Many potential homebuyers overestimate the down payment and credit scores necessary to qualify for a mortgage.

If you are ready and willing to buy, you may be pleasantly surprised at your ability to do so today. Let The McLeod Group Network help - 971.208.5093 or admin@mgnrealtors.com

By: KCM Crew

Why Working with a Local Real Estate Professional Makes All the Difference | Keeping Current Matters

If you’ve entered the real estate market, as a buyer or a seller, you’ve inevitably heard the real estate mantra, “location, location, location” in reference to how identical homes can increase or decrease in value due to where they’re located. Well, a new survey shows that when it comes to choosing a real estate agent, the millennial generation’s mantra is, “local, local, local.”

CentSai, a financial wellness online community, recently surveyed over 2,000 millennials (ages 18-34) and found that 75% of respondents would use a local real estate agent over an online agent, and 71% would choose a local lender.

Survey respondents cited many reasons for their choice to go local, “including personal touch & handholding, longstanding relationships, local knowledge, and amount of hassle.”

Doria Lavagnino, Cofounder & President of CentSai had this to say:

“We were surprised to learn that online providers are not yet as big a disruptor in this sector as we first thought, despite purported cost savings. We found that millennials place a high value on the personal touch and knowledge of a local agent. Buying a home for the first time is daunting, and working with a local agent—particularly an agent referred by a parent or friend—could provide peace of mind.”

The findings of the CentSai survey are consistent with the Consumer Housing Trends Studywhich found that millennials prefer a more hands-on approach to their real estate experience:

“While older generations rely on real estate agents for information and expertise, Millennials expect real estate agents to become trusted advisers and strategic partners.”

When it comes to choosing an agent, millennials and other generations share their top priority: the sense that an agent is trustworthy and responsive to their needs.

That said, technology still plays a huge role in the real estate process. According to the National Association of Realtors, 95% of home buyers look for prospective homes and neighborhoods online, and 91% also said they would use an online site or mobile app to research homes they might consider purchasing.

Bottom Line

Many wondered if this tech-savvy generation would prefer to work with an online agent or lender, but more and more studies show that when it comes to real estate, millennials want someone they can trust, someone who knows the neighborhood they want to move into, leading them through the entire experience.

Let The McLeod Group Network be your trusted real estate professionals! 971.208.5093 or mcleodgroupoffice@gmail.com. 

 

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The McLeod Group Network
Keller Williams Capital City
1900 Hines St SE #220
Salem OR 97302
971-208-5093
Fax: 971-599-5229

**Disclaimer: Amy McLeod, and her team, do not initiate, process, or service mortgages.  And provide this information only as a service.  You should confirm information here with your Licensed Mortgage Lender.