Your "Local" Specialist Blog

October 19th, 2016 3:26 PM
Starting to Look for a Home? Know What You WANT vs. What You NEED
Starting to Look for a Home? Know What You WANT vs. What You NEED | Keeping Current Matters
In this day and age of being able to shop for anything anywhere, it is really important to know what you're looking for when you start your home search. If you've been thinking about buying a home of your own for some time now, you've probably come up with a list of things that you'd LOVE to have in your new home. Many new homebuyers fantasize about the amenities that they see on television or Pinterest, and start looking at the countless homes listed for sale with rose-colored glasses. Do you really need that farm sink in the kitchen in order to be happy with your home choice? Would a two-car garage be a convenience or a necessity? Could the man cave of your dreams be a future renovation project instead of a make or break now? The first step in your home buying process should be to get pre-approved for your mortgage. This allows you to know your budget before you fall in love with a home that is way outside of it. The next step is to list all the features of a home that you would like, and to qualify them as follows:
  • 'Must Haves' - if this property does not have these items, then it shouldn't even be considered. (ex: distance from work or family, number of bedrooms/bathrooms)
  • 'Should Haves' - if the property hits all of the must haves and some of the should haves, it stays in contention, but does not need to have all of these features.
  • 'Absolute Wish List' - if we find a property in our budget that has all of the 'must haves,' most of the 'should haves,' and ANY of these, it's the winner!

Bottom Line

Having this list flushed out before starting your search will save you time and frustration, while also letting your agent know what features are most important to you before starting to show you houses in your desired area.

Posted by Cheryl Talbot ABR,GRI,e-PRO,SFR on October 19th, 2016 3:26 PMLeave a Comment

The Role Access Plays in Getting Your House SOLD!
The Role Access Plays in Getting Your House SOLD! | Keeping Current Matters
So you've decided to sell your house. You've hired a real estate professional to help you with the entire process and they have asked you what level of access you want to provide to potential buyers. There are four elements to a quality listing. At the top of the list is Access, followed by Condition, Financing and Price. There are many levels of access that you could provide to your agent to be able to show your home.

Here are five levels of access that you could give a buyer with a brief description:

  1. Lockbox On the Door - this allows buyers the ability to see the home as soon as they are aware of the listing, or at their convenience.
  2. Providing a Key to the Home - although the buyer's agent may need to stop by an office to pick up the key, there is little delay in being able to show the home.
  3. Open Access with a Phone Call - the seller allows showing with just a phone call's notice.
  4. By Appointment Only (example: 48 Hour Notice) - Many out-of-town/state buyers and relocation buyers visit an area they would like to move to and only have the weekend to view homes. They may not be able to plan that far in advance, or may be unable to wait the 48 hours to be shown the house.
  5. Limited Access (example: the home is only available on Mondays or Tuesdays at 2pm or for only a couple of hours a day) - This is the most difficult way to be able to show your house to potential buyers.
In a competitive marketplace, access can make or break your ability to get the price you are looking for, or even sell your house at all.

Posted by Cheryl Talbot ABR,GRI,e-PRO,SFR on October 18th, 2016 4:20 PMLeave a Comment

3 Questions to Ask Before Buying Your Dream Home
3 Questions to Ask Before Buying Your Dream Home | Keeping Current Matters
If you are debating purchasing a home right now, you are probably getting a lot of advice. Though your friends and family will have your best interest at heart, they may not be fully aware of your needs and what is currently happening in the real estate market. Ask yourself the following 3 questions to help determine if now is actually a good time for you to buy in today's market.

1. Why am I buying a home in the first place?

This truly is the most important question to answer. Forget the finances for a minute. Why did you even begin to consider purchasing a home? For most, the reason has nothing to do with money. For example, a recent survey by Braun showed that over 75% of parents say "their child's education is an important part of the search for a new home." This survey supports a study by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University which revealed that the four major reasons people buy a home have nothing to do with money. They are:
  • A good place to raise children and for them to get a good education
  • A place where you and your family feel safe
  • More space for you and your family
  • Control of that space
What does owning a home mean to you? What non-financial benefits will you and your family gain from owning a home? The answer to that question should be the biggest reason you decide to purchase or not.

2. Where are home values headed?

According to the latest Home Price Index from CoreLogic, home values are projected to increase by 5.3% over the next 12 months.

What does that mean to you?

Simply put, if you are planning on buying a home that costs $250,000 today, that same home will cost you an additional $13,250 if you wait until next year. Your down payment will need to be higher as well to account for the higher home price.

3. Where are mortgage interest rates headed?

A buyer must be concerned about more than just prices. The 'long term cost' of a home can be dramatically impacted by even a small increase in mortgage rates. The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), the National Association of Realtors, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have all projected that mortgage interest rates will increase over the next twelve months as you can see in the chart below: Mortgage Rate Projections | Keeping Current Matters

Bottom Line

Only you and your family will know for certain if now is the right time to purchase a home. Answering these questions will help you make that decision.

Posted by Cheryl Talbot ABR,GRI,e-PRO,SFR on October 14th, 2016 12:12 PMLeave a Comment

Why Is There So Much Paperwork to Sign to Get a Mortgage?

Why Is There So Much Paperwork to Sign to Get a Mortgage? | Keeping Current Matters
We are often asked why there is so much paperwork mandated by the bank for a mortgage loan application when buying a home today. It seems that the bank needs to know everything about us and requires three separate sources to validate each and every entry on the application form. Many buyers are being told by friends and family that the process was a hundred times easier when they bought their home ten to twenty years ago. There are two very good reasons that the loan process is much more onerous on today's buyer than perhaps any time in history.

1. The government has set new guidelines that now demand that the bank prove beyond any doubt that you are indeed capable of affording the mortgage.

During the run-up in the housing market, many people 'qualified' for mortgages that they could never pay back. This led to millions of families losing their home. The government wants to make sure this can't happen again.

2. The banks don't want to be in the real estate business.

Over the last seven years, banks were forced to take on the responsibility of liquidating millions of foreclosures and also negotiating another million plus short sales. Just like the government, they don't want more foreclosures. For that reason, they need to double (maybe even triple) check everything on the application.

However, there is some good news in the situation.

The housing crash that mandated that banks be extremely strict on paperwork requirements also allows you to get a mortgage interest rate as low as 3.43%, the latest reported rate from Freddie Mac. The friends and family who bought homes ten or twenty ago experienced a simpler mortgage application process but also paid a higher interest rate (the average 30 year fixed rate mortgage was 8.12% in the 1990's and 6.29% in the 2000's). If you went to the bank and offered to pay 7% instead of less than 4%, they would probably bend over backwards to make the process much easier.

Bottom Line

Instead of concentrating on the additional paperwork required, let's be thankful that we are able to buy a home at historically low rates. 

Posted by Cheryl Talbot ABR,GRI,e-PRO,SFR on October 10th, 2016 3:51 PMLeave a Comment

Have You Put Aside Enough for Closing Costs?
Have You Put Aside Enough for Closing Costs? | Keeping Current Matters
There are many potential homebuyers, and even sellers, who believe that you need at least a 20% down payment in order to buy a home, or move on to their next home. Time after time, we have dispelled this myth by showing that there are many loan programs that allow you to put down as little as 3% (or 0% with a VA loan). If you have saved up your down payment and are ready to start your home search, one other piece of the puzzle is to make sure that you have saved enough for your closing costs. Freddie Mac defines closing costs as:
"Closing costs, also called settlement fees, will need to be paid when you obtain a mortgage. These are fees charged by people representing your purchase, including your lender, real estate agent, and other third parties involved in the transaction. Closing costs are typically between 2 and 5% of your purchase price."
We've recently heard from many first-time homebuyers that they wished that someone had let them know that closing costs could be so high. If you think about it, with a low down payment program, your closing costs could equal the amount that you saved for your down payment. Here is a list of just some of the fees/costs that may be included in your closing costs, depending on where the home you wish to purchase is located:
  • Government recording costs
  • Appraisal fees
  • Credit report fees
  • Lender origination fees
  • Title services (insurance, search fees)
  • Tax service fees
  • Survey fees
  • Attorney fees
  • Underwriting fees

Is there any way to avoid paying closing costs?

Work with your lender and real estate agent to see if there are any ways to decrease or defer your closing costs. There are no-closing mortgages available, but they end up costing you more in the end with a higher interest rate, or by wrapping the closing costs into the total cost of the mortgage (meaning you'll end up paying interest on your closing costs). Home buyers can also negotiate with the seller over who pays these fees. Sometimes the seller will agree to assume the buyer's closing fees in order to get the deal finalized.

Bottom Line

Speak with your lender and agent early and often to determine how much you'll be responsible for at closing. Finding out you'll need to come up with thousands of dollars right before closing is not a surprise anyone is ever looking forward to

Posted by Cheryl Talbot ABR,GRI,e-PRO,SFR on October 7th, 2016 9:36 AMLeave a Comment

October 6th, 2016 4:20 PM
Strong Buyer Demand Continues to Outpace Inventory of Homes for Sale
Strong Buyer Demand Continues to Outpace Inventory of Homes for Sale | Keeping Current Matters
The price of any item is determined by the supply of that item, as well as the market demand. The National Association of REALTORS (NAR) surveys "over 50,000 real estate practitioners about their expectations for home sales, prices and market conditions" for their monthly REALTORS Confidence Index. Their latest edition sheds some light on the relationship between Seller Traffic (supply) and Buyer Traffic (demand).

Buyer Demand

The map below was created after asking the question: "How would your rate buyer traffic in your area?" Strong Buyer Demand Continues to Outpace Inventory of Homes for Sale | Keeping Current Matters The darker the blue, the stronger the demand for homes in that area. Only four states came in with a weak or moderate demand level.

Seller Supply

The Index also asked: "How would your rate seller traffic in your area?" As you can see from the map below, the majority of the country has weak Seller Traffic, meaning there are far fewer homes on the market than what is needed to satisfy the buyers who are out looking for their dream homes. Strong Buyer Demand Continues to Outpace Inventory of Homes for Sale | Keeping Current Matters

Bottom Line

Looking at the maps above, it is not hard to see why prices are appreciating in many areas of the country. Until the supply of homes for sale starts to meet the buyer demand, prices will continue to increase. If you are debating listing your home for sale, meet with a local real estate professional in your area who can help you capitalize on the demand in the market now!

Posted by Cheryl Talbot ABR,GRI,e-PRO,SFR on October 6th, 2016 4:20 PMLeave a Comment

September 29th, 2016 4:06 PM

Why We All Need A 'Phil Dunphy' On Our Side

Why We All Need A 'Phil Dunphy' On Our Side | Keeping Current Matters Whether or not you've ever seen an episode of Modern Family, or know who Phil Dunphy's character is, the concept of knowing that you have someone in your corner who is looking out for your best interests is something we all want. When it comes to buying a home, whether you are a rookie homebuyer or have gone through the process many times, having a local real estate expert who is well versed in the neighborhood you are looking to move into, and the trends of the area, should be your goal. For those who aren't familiar, the character Phil Dunphy is a Realtor with a huge heart who always strives to do the best for his family and his clients. In one recent episode, Phil even shared the oath that he created and holds himself to:
"On my honor, I promise to aid in man's quest for shelter, to recognize I'm not just in the business of houses -- I'm in the business of dreams in the shape of houses. To disclose all illegal additions, shoddy construction, murders, and ghosts. And to put my clients' needs before my own."
While this might seem silly, and it was definitely written with humor in mind, the themes of helping someone achieve the American Dream and putting a clients' needs above your own are not to be taken lightly.

Bottom Line

When you make the decision to enter the housing market, as either a buyer or a seller, make sure you look for an agent who exemplifies these values and will help you through every step of the process.

Posted by Cheryl Talbot ABR,GRI,e-PRO,SFR on September 29th, 2016 4:06 PMLeave a Comment

5 Stats that Prove the Real Estate Market is Getting Stronger
5 Stats that Prove the Real Estate Market is Getting Stronger | Keeping Current Matters
Whenever there is talk about an improving housing market, some begin to show concern that we may be headed toward another housing bubble that will be followed by a crash similar to the one we saw last decade. Here are five data points that show the housing market will continue to recover, and that a new housing crisis is not about to take shape. 1) Mortgage availability is increasing, but is nowhere near the levels we saw in 2004-2006. A buyer's chances of being approved for a mortgage have increased over the last three years; That's good news for the market. This is not a precursor to another challenge, as many experts maintain that it is still too difficult for many buyers to attain house financing. As Jonathan Smoke, the Chief Economist of, recently explained:
"The havoc during the last cycle was the result...of speculation fueled by loose credit. That's the exact opposite of what we have today."
2) The Housing Affordability Index, which measures whether or not a typical family earns enough income to qualify for a mortgage loan on a typical home, based on the most recent price and income data. The current index shows that it is more affordable to buy a home today than at any other time between 1990 and 2008. With median incomes finally beginning to rise, houses should continue to remain affordable and housing demand should remain strong. 3) Home prices are well within historic norms. Prices have increased substantially over the last several years; However, those increases followed the housing crash of 2008 and national prices are still not back to 2006 levels. If there were no bubble (and subsequent bust), today's prices would actually be lower than if they were measured by historic appreciation levels from 1987-1999. 4) Demand for housing, as measured by new household formations, is growing. The Urban Land Institute projects that 5.95 million new households will be formed over the next three years. Even if the homeownership rate drops to 60%, that would be over 3.5 million new homeowners entering the market. 5) New home starts are finally beginning to increase. This helps eliminate the number one challenge in the industry - lack of inventory. And it does so in two ways:
  1. Some first time buyers will, in fact, purchase a newly constructed home.
  2. Many current homeowners will move-up (or move-down) to a new construction and then put their current home on the market.
This means that there will be an increase in both new construction and existing home inventories. Agents: Join us later on today for our free webinar at 2PM ET/1PM CT as we give you the tools and understanding you'll need to calm your clients' doubts and position yourself as a market expert. Reserve your seat today for "5 Graphs that Prove the Housing Market is Strong and Will Continue to Surge."

Posted by Cheryl Talbot ABR,GRI,e-PRO,SFR on September 23rd, 2016 11:11 AMLeave a Comment

Ready to Make an Offer? 4 Tips for Success

Ready to Make an Offer? 4 Tips for Success | Keeping Current Matters So you've been searching for that perfect house to call a 'home' and you finally found one! The price is right, and in such a competitive market you want to make sure you make a good offer so that you can guarantee your dream of making this house yours comes true! Freddie Mac covered "4 Tips for Making an Offer" in their latest Executive Perspective. Here are the 4 Tips they covered along with some additional information for your consideration:

1. Understand How Much You Can Afford

"While it's not nearly as fun as house hunting, fully understanding your finances is critical in making an offer."
This 'tip' or 'step' really should take place before you start your home search process. As we've mentioned before, getting pre-approved is one of many steps that will show home sellers that you are serious about buying, and will allow you to make your offer with the confidence of knowing that you have already been approved for a mortgage for that amount. You will also need to know if you are prepared to make any repairs that may need to be made to the house (ex: new roof, new furnace).

2. Act Fast

"Even though there are fewer investors, the inventory of homes for sale is also low and competition for housing continues to heat up in many parts of the country."
According to the latest Existing Home Sales Report, the inventory of homes for sale is currently at a 4.7-month supply. This is well below the 6-month supply that is needed for a 'normal' market. Buyer demand has continued to outpace the supply of homes for sale, causing buyers to compete with each other for their dream home. Make sure that as soon as you decide that you want to make an offer, you work with your agent to present it as soon as possible.

3. Make a Solid Offer

Freddie Mac offers this advice to help make your offer the strongest it can be:
"Your strongest offer will be comparable with other sales and listings in the neighborhood. A licensed real estate agent active in the neighborhoods you are considering will be instrumental in helping you put in a solid offer based on their experience and other key considerations such as recent sales of similar homes, the condition of the house and what you can afford."
Consider ways of making your offer stand out! Many buyers write a personal letter to the seller letting them know how much they would love to be the new homeowners. Your agent will be able to help you figure out if there are any other ways your offer could stand above the rest.

4. Be Prepared to Negotiate

"It's likely that you'll get at least one counteroffer from the sellers so be prepared. The two things most likely to be negotiated are the selling price and closing date. Given that, you'll be glad you did your homework first to understand how much you can afford. Your agent will also be key in the negotiation process, giving you guidance on the counteroffer and making sure that the agreed-to contract terms are met."
If your offer is approved, Freddie Mac urges you to "always get an independent home inspection, so you know the true condition of the home. If the inspection uncovers undisclosed problems or issues, you can typically re-negotiate the terms or cancel the contract."

Bottom Line

Whether buying your first home or your fifth, having a local real estate professional who is an expert in their market on your side is your best bet to make sure the process goes smoothly. Happy House Hunting!

Posted by Cheryl Talbot ABR,GRI,e-PRO,SFR on September 21st, 2016 9:42 AMLeave a Comment

September 13th, 2016 11:02 AM
5 Reasons to Sell This Fall
5 Reasons to Sell This Fall | Keeping Current Matters
School is back in session, the holidays are right around the corner, you might not think that now is the best time to sell your house. But with inventory below historic numbers and demand still strong, you could be missing out on a great opportunity for your family.

Here are five reasons why you should consider selling your house this fall:

1. Demand Is Strong

The latest Realtors' Confidence Index from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows that buyer demand remains very strong throughout the vast majority of the country. These buyers are ready, willing and able to purchase... and are in the market right now! Take advantage of the buyer activity currently in the market.

2. There Is Less Competition Now

According to NAR's latest Existing Home Sales Report, the supply of homes for sale is still under the 6-month supply that is needed for a normal housing market at 4.7-months. This means, in most areas, there are not enough homes for sale to satisfy the number of buyers in that market. This is good news for home prices. However, additional inventory is about to come to market. There is a pent-up desire for many homeowners to move, as they were unable to sell over the last few years because of a negative equity situation. Homeowners are now seeing a return to positive equity as real estate values have increased over the last two years. Many of these homes will be coming to the market this fall. Also, as builders regain confidence in the market, new construction of single-family homes is projected to continue to increase over the next two years, reaching historic levels by 2017. Last month's new home sales numbers show that many buyers who have not been able to find their dream home within the existing inventory have turned to new construction to fulfill their needs. The choices buyers have will continue to increase. Don't wait until all this other inventory of homes comes to market before you sell.

3. The Process Will Be Quicker

Fannie Mae announced that they anticipate an acceleration in home sales that will surpass 2007's pace. As the market heats up, banks will be inundated with loan inquiries causing closing-time lines to lengthen. Selling now will make the process quicker & simpler.

4. There Will Never Be a Better Time to Move Up

If you are moving up to a larger, more expensive home, consider doing it now. Prices are projected to appreciate by 5.3% over the next year, according to CoreLogic. If you are moving to a higher-priced home, it will wind up costing you more in raw dollars (both in down payment and mortgage payment) if you wait. According to Freddie Mac's latest report, you can also lock-in your 30-year housing expense with an interest rate around 3.46% right now. Interest rates are projected to increase moderately over the next 12 months. Even a small increase in rate will have a big impact on your housing cost.

5. It's Time to Move On with Your Life

Look at the reason you decided to sell in the first place and determine whether it is worth waiting. Is money more important than being with family? Is money more important than your health? Is money more important than having the freedom to go on with your life the way you think you should? Only you know the answers to the questions above. You have the power to take control of the situation by putting your home on the market. Perhaps the time has come for you and your family to move on and start living the life you desire.

That is what is truly important.

Posted by Cheryl Talbot ABR,GRI,e-PRO,SFR on September 13th, 2016 11:02 AMLeave a Comment


My Favorite Blogs:

Sites That Link to This Blog: