5 Tips For Selling Your Home Around Thanksgiving

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The majority of people think the best time to sell a home is during the summer. Children are out of school which makes it much easier for parents to relocate and start a new life in their new home. In actuality more than half of homebuyers do not have children or have children that are out of the house. There are far less numbers of homes for sale during the holidays which makes the demand for a quality home that much higher.

1. Make Curb Appeal a Top Priority.

By the time Thanksgiving rolls around, trees have started to lose their leaves. This makes maintaining the exterior of your even more of a priority. Bare trees result in a more exposed home, so touch up the paint, clean the gutters and spruce up the yard. Keep buyers’ safety in mind as well by making sure stairs and walkways are free of leaves.

2. Avoid Clutter at All Costs.

Family visiting during Thanksgiving can add quite a bit of clutter to the home. In the case that a potential buyer wants to view the home, eliminating this clutter couldn’t be more important. If family has taken over a bedroom that’s usually used for storage, it can be wise to invest in a storage unit. These are not expensive and can be rented for a month or two while the home is on the market. Clutter decreases the perceived size of the home which could be a deciding factor whether a buyer puts an offer in or continues their search.

3. Appeal to the Buyer’s Imagination.

Creating a warm atmosphere during Thanksgiving and the holidays when your home is being sold can do a couple of things. The potential buyers could imagine themselves celebrating their own Thanksgiving in the home. This isn’t the time to put up huge amounts of decorations but rather enough to get into the spirit of the season. Warm colors should be abundant and those quirky holiday decorations that some families put up in their homes during certain holidays should be kept in the attic.

4. Price The Home To Sell.

Pricing the home to sell during the holidays is extremely important. If you accepted a new job and need to relocate by the end of the year this multiplies in importance. Many buyers if in the same situation will want to put an offer in around the Thanksgiving holiday. This will reduce the stress of trying to find a home during the Christmas holidays when many people travel for extended periods. Closing quickly will also allow you to write off closing costs during this year’s tax season.

5. Select an Experienced Real Estate Agent.

Picking the right agent is important regardless of what time of year that it is. During the holidays it’s more important as many facets of selling a home can be impacted by the holiday breaks. I’d love the opportunity to earn your business!

Remember: Selling your home during the Thanksgiving and holiday season isn’t impossible. Taking care of the small details leading up to the sale will only increase your chances of considering offers with your turkey dinner. Happy Thanksgiving and give us a call so we can take the stress off of selling during the holidays! Kevin and Jennifer Hanley, REALTORS The Hanley Home Team of Keller Williams Realty Atlantic Partners Southside 904-515-2479 HanleyHomeTeam.com

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Short Sale vs. Foreclosure: What’s the Difference?

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There are a few different scenarios for homeowners that are struggling to make their mortgage payments or are “underwater” on their homes (and owe more than what it’s worth)—including short sales and foreclosures.

But what, exactly, are short sales and foreclosures, and what’s the difference between them?

recent article from realtor.com answered key questions people have about short sales and foreclosures, including:

  • What is a short sale? A short sale happens when a homeowner’s mortgage is higher than the market value or sale price of the home when they want to sell; in other words, they’re “short” on what they owe. In a short sale, the lender agrees to settle the debt for a lower amount than what’s due on the mortgage—and the home is then listed for sale through a real estate agent.
  • What is a foreclosure? A foreclosure happens when a homeowner is seriously past due on their mortgage payments (after three to six months of missed mortgage payments, the lender issues a Notice of Default, which begins the foreclosure process). If they’re unable to settle their loan debt, either through a short sale or by paying off the mortgage balance in full, the lender is then able to either sell the property to a third party through an auction, or take ownership of the property.
  • What’s the difference between the two? There are a few key differences between short sales and foreclosures, including time frame (short sales can take up to a year to close, while foreclosures move much more quickly) and impact on the homeowner’s ability to buy another home (after a short sale, homeowners can generally purchase a home right away—while people who went through foreclosures will have to wait five years).

Kevin and I have extensive experience in short sale, foreclosure, and investment sales, Please give us a call with your questions. Kevin and Jennifer Hanley, REALTORS The Hanley Home Team of Keller William Realty Atlantic Partners Southside 904-515-2479 HanleyHomeTeam.com

5 Shams and Scams You Should Be Leery of as a Homebuyer or Seller

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At this point everyone knows not to fall for the email from a Nigerian prince promising to share his fortune with you if you just send him your banking information. After all, that scam has been around almost as long as the Internet has existed, and most people have seen it at least once! 

But people don’t buy or sell a house all that often, so real estate scams and shams can be easy to miss to the untrained eye. 

So let’s take a look at 5 things you should be leery of as a homebuyer or seller that may be an outright scam, or just something that’s not quite as promising as it may appear to be, so you know what to look for and can avoid them. 

1) Asking you to wire escrow or closing cost money

When you buy or sell a house, there’s a good chance that a title company or attorney will be handling the closing. So it wouldn’t be all that weird to get an email from them asking you to wire money for closing costs, the down payment, etc. 

However, there’s a scam where someone hacks into the system of those types of companies and gets the details and email address of the client. Then they create a fake email address that looks like it’s coming from the title company, and instruct you to wire money to their own account.

The good news is that this will only be something you need to be concerned about when you’re in the middle of a real estate transaction, and will have real estate professionals in the mix at that time. And real estate pros are very aware of this, so they’ll most likely advise you not to send money without verifying that they sent you the email and instructions, and double checking that you have the correct info. But just in case they don’t, make sure you reach out to verify before sending money.

2) “We’ll buy your house for cash…”

This isn’t so much a scam as it is a potential sham. To be fair, there are people and companies out there who are interested in buying houses as investors, and will pay you cash for your house. They may even pay you a fair price. But probably not…

Whether you’re sent a “handwritten” letter that looks super personal and specific, or just see one of their signs on a telephone post, be leery of the offer to buy your house for cash. There’s always a catch. 

The solution to avoid being taken by someone making this offer is simple: Enlist a local real estate agent for their advice and expertise. A pro can help you determine how much your house is worth, review the details of their offer, and help you determine whether it’s legitimate and worth taking.

3) Fake Craigslist listings

Almost every buyer and renter uses the Internet to look for places to buy or rent nowadays, and there are tons of websites where you can find listings. But Craigslist is one you need to be careful with, because scammers have been known to create fake listings.

They don’t look fake, because they usually find a current listing on one of the many legitimate listing sites, and then duplicate the listing. But the catch is when you reach out to the poster with interest, they hype up how much other interest they have, and then ask you to send a deposit in order to secure an appointment to even see the place.

That’s a huge red flag, and it’s easy to avoid if you know this happens. But they’re preying on the unaware and the emotions of someone desperate for an opportunity. Even if it looks like the house of your dreams, or deal of the century, don’t send anyone money to set up an appointment to see it. If you do, the chances are they’ll disappear the minute your money clears, and you’ll be knocking on the door of someone who probably had no clue their house was even used in an online scam.

4) Estimating the value of your home online

This is by no means a scam, but it’s certainly not as reliable or accurate as you might think it is. 

It’s so appealing and easy to type your address into the search bar of a website and get the value of your house in an instant. It’s even more appealing when that value is higher than you imagined it would be!

But the truth is, any site that offers a free online valuation of your home is probably not accurate. They probably even have a disclaimer that tells you it’s not accurate, instead giving you a range of how far off it could be—and it can be wayyyy off.

These sites use algorithms that take some broad information and spit out an estimate without knowing the details of your home, area, or current market. They’re fine to use for entertainment and a general idea about the value of your house, but rather than have a misleading sense of your home’s value, you’re better off asking a local agent to do a market analysis for you. 

Real estate professionals know the current local market and can come and see your house in person, which helps determine a more accurate value than a website can compute from data alone. Most agents are more than happy to do one for you for free.

5) Help for distressed homeowners

If you’re running behind on your mortgage payments, there’s a good chance you’ll start receiving letters and phone calls from people and companies who want to help you avoid foreclosure. 

They may offer to help you negotiate with your bank, or help you do a short sale. Or perhaps they’ll try to convince you to sell your house to them at a discount, and they’ll let you stay there while you rent it back from them until you can afford to buy it again. It could come in all sorts of forms, but whatever help is offered is likely a scam.

It’s a stressful time when you’re behind and facing the loss of your home. And it can be embarrassing. So when someone reaches out who seems to understand and wants to help, it can be an appealing option. But you’re better off being the one who reaches out to someone you’ve researched and vetted—like an attorney or real estate agent you trust—and ask them to help you figure out your options.

Now that you know those real estate scams and shams, you should easily be able to avoid them. But there may be others or new ones you come across! So the best advice is to always consult with a trusted agent, attorney, or other industry professional before you make any real estate decisions… but especially when something sounds a little too good to be true, or even the slightest bit weird to you.

What’s not weird is calling us for your real estate needs! Kevin and Jennifer Hanley, REALTORS The Hanley Home Team of Keller Williams Realty Atlantic Partners Southside 904-515-2479 HanleyHomeTeam.com

Need Help With Your Down Payment? Consider These Unconventional Strategies

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Having a large down payment can make it easier to buy a home. But if your savings account isn’t where you’d like it to be, that doesn’t mean you can’t come up with a solid down payment; you just might need to think outside of the box

So what are some out-of-the-box strategies you might be able to use to get the down payment you need to buy your dream home?

recent article from realtor.com outlined lesser-known strategies potential homebuyers can leverage to come up with a down payment, including:

  • Tap into your IRA. If you’re a first-time homebuyer, you can withdraw money from your IRA for a down payment, without having to pay the 10 percent early withdrawal penalty or restore the funds to your account. (Just keep in mind you will have to pay taxes on whatever you withdraw from your account.)
  • Explore assistance programs. Many cities, states, and nonprofit organizations offer down payment assistance programs to help certain types of people (for example, teachers, civil servants, or people below a certain income threshold) successfully purchase homes. Do your research to see if you qualify; if so, you may be able to get a solid portion of your down payment covered, which will make it easier to buy a home. Check our homepage for an exhaustive list of assistance programs – HanleyHomeTeam.com
  • Talk to your employer. Some companies have employee-assisted housing programs that offer employees low-interest (or even zero-interest!) loans to help them purchase a home. While this certainly isn’t a perk that every employer offers, if you think it may be something your company offers, talk to your supervisor or human resources department to see if you qualify.

Let’s get creative! Kevin and Jennifer Hanley, REALTORS, The Hanley Home Team of Keller Williams Realty Atlantic Partners Southside 904-515-2479 HanleyHomeTeam.com

What’s the Difference Between a Real Estate Agent, Real Estate Broker, and REALTOR®?

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If you’re planning on buying or selling your home, you’re going to want to work with a real estate professional.

But what kind of professionals are available to help you buy or sell your home—and what are the differences between them?

recent article from realtor.com answered key questions around the different types of real estate professionals, including real estate agents, brokers, and REALTORS®—and the differences between the three—including:

  • What is a real estate agent? A real estate agent is a real estate professional that has completed educational, training, and licensing requirements (including passing a licensing exam), which allows them to help people buy, sell, and rent real estate.
  • What is a real estate broker? A real estate broker is a real estate agent that has pursued further education on a variety of real estate-related issues, including ethics, contracts, taxes, and real estate law—and has passed a broker’s license exam. In order to get their broker’s license, candidates need a certain level of experience and tenure as a licensed real estate agent—generally three years. As such, real estate brokers are generally more experienced and well-versed in all things real estate.Some brokers use their license to manage or run a company or an office of other agents, and do not work with clients anymore. Others continue to help buyers and sellers. 
  • What is a REALTOR®? A REALTOR® is a licensed real estate agent that’s also a member of the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), an industry group that holds agents to a certain set of standards and ethics. Essentially, REALTORS are real estate agents, but with an extra level of accountability thanks to their association with NAR.

The Takeaway:

Understanding the different types of real estate professionals that are available to help you buy or sell real estate can ensure that you partner with the right professional for you—whether that’s a real estate agent, a Realtor, or a real estate broker.

Kevin and Jennifer Hanley are REALTORS! Give us a call today and let them help you with all your residential and commercial real estate needs. Kevin and Jennifer Hanley, REALTORS, The Hanley Home Team of Keller Williams Realty Atlantic Partners Southside 904-515-2479 HanleyHomeTeam.com

Why Fall Might Be The Best Time To Buy A Home

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A lot of people think the best time to buy a house is during the Spring market. 

And, it is…

…in the sense that more houses are listed for sale in the Spring. But, there’s also a heck of a lot more buyers trying to buy those listings.

The thing is, some of the houses listed back in the Spring don’t end up selling. (Usually just because they were overpriced.)

Now, it isn’t like new listings don’t happen in the Fall. There’s always new listings coming on the market. But it’s not like, just because it’s Fall and not Spring, prices are necessarily going to fall. In other words, new listings aren’t likely to list for a lot lower than you would have seen in the Spring.

However, the homeowners who did list back in the Spring, are much more likely to be anxious (perhaps even desperate) to sell their home. They’ve created their own problem…they missed the boat by pricing too high. 

Which is great news for you, if you’re looking to buy a home:

  • Less competition. (Many buyers stop looking at this time of year…for no good reason.)
  • Motivated sellers. (They’re sick of being on the market, and wondering why nobody bought their house.)

But it isn’t always easy to find those listings. They don’t wave a white flag, or lower their price to some ridiculous amount everyone would notice. If only it were that easy…
Just because someone listed their home back in the Spring doesn’t mean they’ll be all that negotiable.

There are certain things a great real estate agent will know to look for.

And I love rolling up my sleeves and finding the ones we can most likely negotiate the best deals on.

So, got anything you want me to roll up my sleeves and look for? Real estate deals won’t just fall in your lap, but I can certainly help you find one this Fall.

Bonus
Want another reason to buy a home in the Fall?

You can take advantage of year-end sales to outfit your home!

Hardly anybody buys a home who doesn’t want (or need) to make improvements, however small. So why not coordinate your purchase with sales on items you’ll need? According to Consumer Reports, September is an ideal time for buying carpet and paint. In October lawn mowers go on sale, and the same goes for appliances and cookware in November.

Let’s get ready this Fall! Please get in touch with us today! Kevin and Jennifer Hanley, REALTORS, The Hanley Home Team of Keller Williams Realty Atlantic Partners Southside 904-515-2479 HanleyHomeTeam.com

When Is The Best Time Of Year To Buy A Home?

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One question that pops up constantly from both first-time and seasoned homeowners alike is “When is the best time of year to buy a home?” Potential homeowners want to know the best time of year to get the best home for the lowest price – and ideally, at a time that makes sense for their life.

It would be great if there were a simple and straightforward answer, like “the best time of year to purchase a home is between April 1 and April 7.” But unfortunately, it’s not that simple.

Let’s take a look at the factors that play into answering the question “when is the best time of year to buy a home?”

Convenience

The first factor to consider when buying a home is convenience. This is particularly important if you have a family.

If you have school-aged children, you ideally want to move in between school years, so sometime between May and August. Pulling a child out of school in the middle of the year can be challenging, and children might have a hard time to adjusting to a new school in the middle of the year.

However, because so many potential homeowners have families that want to move during this time period, it drives up the prices, making the summer the most expensive time a year to buy a home.

So, if your main concern is convenience for your family, then summer is a good time to buy – just be prepared to pay a higher price than you would at other times of year.

Inventory

If your top priority is having a lot of houses to choose from, you’ll want to buy a house during the time of year when the most homes are on the market. That way, you’ll have your pick of multiple properties and are much more likely to find a home that has all the items on your wish list.

In most areas, the highest inventory peaks in the spring, right before the end of the school year. Inventory stays high throughout the summer and then starts to fall in early autumn, with the lowest inventory happening in late autumn and winter.

If you want a variety of homes to choose from, look to buy in the spring.

Price

If your main goal is to get an amazing home at a low price, the best time of year to buy is when competition is low. When there aren’t as many people looking to buy, it drives down the prices of homes, and you can purchase property at a significantly lower rate. On average, homes cost 8.45% less in January and February than they do in June, July, and August.

If you were looking at purchasing a $500,000 property, that would bring the price down $42,250 for a sale price of $457,750. That kind of price drop could save you a significant amount of money over the course of your mortgage and lower your monthly payments.

If you’re looking to get the most house for your money, purchasing a home in the winter is definitely your best bet.

The best time of year to buy a home is largely dependent on your needs and priorities. If you’re looking to buy at a time that’s most convenient for your family (and in particular, your children), buying during the summer is a great option. If you want to see as many homes as possible in order to find a property that has everything you’re looking for in a home, you’ll want to buy a home in the spring, when inventory is at its highest. And if your bottom line is you want to pay the lowest price possible, purchasing a home in the winter, when prices are significantly lower, will be the most advantageous.

Just keep in mind that finding and purchasing a home takes time; while it happens, the chances of finding a property during the first week of looking for a home are slim. On average, people spend 30 – 60 days looking for a home and another 14 – 60 days from contract to close, so make sure to give yourself plenty of lead time to take advantage of the time of year that’s best for YOU to purchase.

What’s the best time for you to buy? Let’s find out together – Kevin and Jennifer Hanley, REALTORS, The Hanley Home Team of Keller Williams Realty Atlantic Partners Southside 904-515-2479 HanleyHomeTeam.com

Don’t Give Up on Buying a Home if You’re a Millennial Renter

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Almost 25% of Millennials (ages 26-41) claim they plan on renting forever according to this Apartment List article. That’s nearly double the amount since they started their ongoing survey of 31,000 Millennials in 2018.

In the grand scheme of things, 1 in 4 Millennials swearing off homeownership forever isn’t earth-shattering news. To put things in perspective, the highest rate of homeownership ever was 80% in North Dakota back in 1900. But generally speaking, the homeownership rate has hovered in the 65% range nationally for almost 5 decades. Some people will always be renters; homeownership isn’t for everyone. 

There are four main reasons they give for not buying:

  • They feel it’s financially risky (19%)
  • Don’t want the costs of maintaining a home (30%)
  • They like the flexibility renting allows (28%)
  • Can’t afford to buy a house (77%)

Obviously, by far the biggest reason is affordability. It’d be easy to chalk that up to the recent surge in home prices and rising interest rates. It’s legitimate and true. But that’s also been the main reason since well before the current market conditions. Truthfully, affordability is almost always the reason renters give for not buying, regardless of the decade. It’s never an easy financial leap to take.

However, while renting may feel like the easier, more affordable option, over time it’s not. In fact, renting is getting even more expensive. According to this Fortune article, an increasing amount of older adults are struggling to be able to pay rent. They’re constantly in fear of rent hikes that may just get to a point they can’t afford to pay. Then what?

While it’s never an easy financial leap to take, once you take the leap, your housing cost can be kept stable for years to come, and even go down as you pay off your house. Sure, it won’t be easy up front, but think of how it’ll be for you a couple of decades from now. Would you rather have an asset you can sell, or still be paying a landlord an ever-increasing amount of rent with nothing to show for it? 

Sure, prices and rates may seem high right now, but it almost always feels that way relative to the times. There’s always an area and a house you can afford to buy a house in, if you’re qualified for a mortgage. (And if you’re not, it’s worth making an effort to be qualified!) Your first house may not be everything you want or where you ideally would like to live, but it’s a first step toward taking control of being able to afford to live comfortably as you get older. It may seem years away right now, but time has a way of creeping up on you. And the cost of living does, too… 

The Takeaway:

Considering the financial burdens many Millennials have, coupled with rising interest rates and home prices, it’s no surprise that an increasing number of Millennials are saying they’ll never buy a home and remain renters forever. 

But if you can afford to rent, the chances are you can afford to buy. It might not be your dream home, or in the exact neighborhood you’d prefer, but you can buy something. Buy where (and what) you can afford now, so that you have a predictable and controllable cost of living — as well as an asset you can sell — as you grow older.

Let’s discuss your real estate goals. Jennifer Hanley, REALTOR The Hanley Home Team of Keller Williams Realty Atlantic Partners Southside 904-515-2700 HanleyHomeTeam.com

Now May Be the Perfect Time to Sell Your House If You Aren’t Planning on Buying Another Home

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You’ve probably been hearing in the news lately that the real estate market is “shifting.” Well, according to this realtor.com article, many economists feel that we’ve moved from shifting into a “balanced” market. In other words, it’s not really a sellers’ market or a buyers’ market.

That may have you thinking that it’s not as favorable for sellers as it has been, and you missed out on the opportunity to get a historically high price for your house. Oddly, that isn’t the case at all.

Despite what headlines and economists may say, all signs point to it being an absolutely perfecttime to sell—especially if you don’t plan on buying another home. Consider the following data in that realtor.com article:

  • Median listing prices are up 14.4% year-over-year
  • New listings are down 12%
  • Houses are taking 4 days longer to sell than they had been

Of those three things, the only thing slightly better for buyers is that it’s taking listings longer to sell…by four days.

While prices may be stabilizing and leveling off, the fact is, prices are still a good deal higher than they were just a year ago. One of the biggest reasons why the market was so favorable for sellers over the past few years was because there weren’t enough listings, and now there’s even 12% less competition.

That said, the market is shifting and it’s hard to say how much more of a window sellers have to capitalize on high prices and low competition. But, at least for now, there’s still an opportunity for you to sell and reap the benefits of the sellers’ market we’ve seen over the past couple of years.

The Takeaway:

The real estate market is now “balanced,” which might sound like it’s good for both buyers and sellers alike. But the reality is, it’s still more in favor of sellers, and even more so for sellers who aren’t planning on buying another home.

If you’re thinking about selling your house and either renting, moving in with family, into a retirement community, or a second home you already own, now is a good time to capitalize on the market conditions. Prices are still historically high, you’ve likely accrued quite a bit of equity in the past few years, and there are even less listings to compete with than there have been.

So, if you’ve been hesitating because the news made it sound like you missed out on the sellers’ market, you still have a window of opportunity. But it’s hard to say how long that will last.

Let’s talk about your special real estate goals. Kevin and Jennifer Hanley, REALTORS The Hanley Home Team of Keller Williams Realty Atlantic Partners Southside 904-515-2479 HanleyHomeTeam.com

New Homeowner? Avoid these lawn care mistakes

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It’s easy to take a few missteps when it comes to lawn care, especially if you’re a new homeowner and it’s your first time being solely responsible for your yard and landscaping. Here are a few tips that will help you avoid lawn-related frustrations.

Cutting the grass short. Lowering the height of your mower blades may give you a few extra days between each mowing, but it’s bad for your grass in the long run. Don’t go any shorter than 2.5 inches, or your grass could be starved for sunlight.

Watch where your dog urinates. Finally out of an apartment and ready to let the dog into the back yard when it’s time to go? You might regret it. Your pets’ urine can kill your plants and grass. Try to train your dog to go in one spot, preferably in stone or gravel.

Be careful with fertilizer. Fertilizing your lawn isn’t as simple as picking up any bag at a local store. Choosing the wrong fertilizer, using too much, or ignoring the instructions is a recipe for disaster. Do plenty of research or ask a professional if you need help choosing.

Give your plants room to breathe. The nutrients in soil are a finite resource, and your plants and shrubs also need their fair share of water and sunlight. If you plant your shrubs, trees, and flowers too close together, they’ll have to compete for those resources and may become malnourished. Pay attention to the planting recommendations for each plant to make sure that they have the proper space to thrive.

Want more home and lawn care tips? Get in touch today! Kevin and Jennifer Hanley, REALTORS Keller Williams Realty Atlantic Partners Southside 904-515-2479 http://www.HanleyHomeTeam.com