The Top Reasons To Sell Your Home During The Holidays

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Between holiday travel, holiday parties, and hosting out-of-town guests, the holidays can be a busy time of year. And if you’re selling your home, you might be tempted to take your property off the market and push your home sale into the new year.

But, as it turns out, you might want to rethink that strategy.

An article from realtor.com outlined the top reasons not to take your home off the market during the holiday season, including:

  • It’s easier for your listing to get attention. Because the holidays are so busy, a lot of sellers pull their homes off the market and would-be sellers hold off on listing their home—both of which reduce available inventory. Less inventory means less competition, which will make it easier for your home to get attention and interest from buyers who can’t wait weeks or months to make offers and move forward with a purchase.
  • The buyers are more serious. Most people don’t want to add “buying a home” to the list of their holiday to-do’s. But that means that the buyers that are out there looking for homes are serious, motivated, and ready to purchase a home ASAP—a major plus for sellers.
  • Lenders are more motivated to close the deal. Because fewer homes are being bought and sold during the holiday season, lenders are more motivated to close transactions—which can make the process both easier and faster.

Bottom line? You might think the holidays aren’t the best time to sell a home—but if you’ve been thinking about selling your home, it turns out this is a great time to make a move.

Happy Holidays! Please call on us to help you sell during this holiday season! Kevin and Jennifer Hanley, REALTORS The Hanley Home Team Keller Williams Realty Atlantic Partners Southside 904-515-2479 HanleyHomeTeam.com

Have a Small Room? Make Your Space Feel Larger by Avoiding These Mistakes

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If you want a small room to feel more spacious, there are certain design tricks you want to embrace—and certain design tricks you want to avoid.

recent article from realtor.com outlined common mistakes that can make rooms feel smaller, including:

  • Dark walls. Dark colors draw the eye inward—which can make a space seem smaller. So, while dark walls can work in a large, open room, if your room is on the smaller side, you’ll want to stick to neutral or light colors for the walls to create the illusion of more space.
  • Too much furniture. Packing too many pieces of furniture into a room can make it feel small, cramped, and crowded. If you’re working with a small space—and want to make it feel larger—stick to a few key, functional pieces (and make sure there’s plenty of space for people to maneuver around each piece of furniture).
  • Too many colors or patterns. Incorporating too many colors and patterns into a room can feel visually overwhelming—and can make a small space feel even smaller. If you’re going to use bold colors or patterns, use them sparingly—and balance them out with an otherwise neutral, soothing palette.

The Takeaway:

So, what does this mean for you? If you’re trying to make a small room look larger, it’s important to understand what design mistakes to steer clear of. That way, you can decorate your room in a way that maximizes the space—and makes your small room look larger, more open, and more spacious.

Kevin and Jennifer Hanley, REALTORS The Hanley Home Team Keller Williams Realty Atlantic Partners Southside 904-515-2479 HanleyHomeTeam.com

Can’t Afford a Home? Co-buying Skyrockets

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OCTOBER 13, 2021

More roommates are committing to long-term relationships and co-buying a home. ATTOM says the number of co-buyers with different last names surged 771% in six years.

SAN FRANCISCO – Millennials are pooling finances with roommates, friends and significant others to buy a home together.

The number of home and condo sales by co-buyers is increasing, according to research from ATTOM Data Solutions. The number of co-buyers with different last names surged by a whopping 771% between 2014 and 2021.

The trend especially took off during the pandemic. From April to June 2020, 11% of buyers purchased as an unmarried couple and 3% as “other” (e.g., roommates), according to data from the National Association of Realtors® (NAR). That’s up from 9% and 2%, respectively, in 2019.

“During the pandemic, people have been renting and they may have wanted more space, and so they looked at, perhaps, their roommate and decided, ‘Let’s go buy a home together,” Jessica Lautz, vice president of demographics and behavioral insights for NAR, told The Wall Street Journal.

But affording a home isn’t easy for a first-time buyer. The median existing-home price for all housing types was $356,700 in August, up nearly 15% from a year earlier.

Besides the higher costs to buy, student loan debt increasingly burdens young adults, hampering their ability to afford a home. Half of the potential homebuyers surveyed this year say they haven’t bought yet because of student debt, according to a report by NAR and Morning Consult. Millennials are the most likely to point to student debt as a top reason for delaying homeownership.

Those with student loan debt are still finding ways to buy, though. In addition to co-buying, for example, they may apply for a mortgage with a co-signer such as a family member to help improve their credit status.

Source: “Millennials Team Up to Fulfill the Dream of Homeownership,” The Wall Street Journal (Oct. 11, 2021) [Log-in required.]

© Copyright 2021 INFORMATION INC., Bethesda, MD (301) 215-4688

Will Buying a House Affect Your Credit Score?

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Your decision to buy a home will have a major impact on every area of your finances—including your credit store. But according to a recent study from LendingTree, buying a home has less of an impact on your credit than you’d think.

According to the study, in the four to six months following a mortgage, credit scores, on average, aren’t likely to fall more than 20 points on average. And even if your score does drop more than 20 points, it will typically bounce back to pre-mortgage levels within a year.

The Takeaway:

So, what does this mean for you? If you’re thinking about buying a home—but are feeling a bit nervous about how the mortgage will impact your credit—rest easy. Taking out a mortgage shouldn’t impact your credit too much—and even if you see a drop, your score should bounce back fairly quickly.

Ready to get the ball rolling on financing your home? Get in touch today! Kevin and Jennifer Hanley, REALTORS The Hanley Home Team Keller Williams Realty Atlantic Partners Southside 904-515-2479 HanleyHomeTeam.com

Buyers May Face Hidden Costs for Homes with Solar Power

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By Kerry Smith

“Solar-powered home” sounds like a great money-saving deal, but buyers should study possible costs before committing. Not all property insurance companies will cover solar panels, and the ones that do have a wide-ranging set of rules and inconsistent coverage pricing.

ORLANDO, Fla. – According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, solar panel use in Florida jumped 57% in 2020. Beyond a desire to save the planet, increased demand sprang from low interest rates, pandemic-locked homeowners who targeted improvement projects, tax rebates and lower costs for the technology.

As a result, more homebuyers see listings that offer solar power and the promise of long-term savings on their power bills.

However, potential savings could be offset by another higher cost: property insurance rates.

“There’s not a lot of history on solar panels. There’s not a lot of data, so a lot of carriers won’t cover homes with solar,” said Christy Wolfe, sales development manager with Florida Peninsula Insurance and Edison Insurance, to the Insurance Journal. “And when you start drilling holes in a roof, it’s problematic.”

Some Florida insurers say they have enough problems already, thanks to the rising cost of supplies for replacement jobs like roofs, and they fear that their ongoing legal problems could become exacerbated if they’re faced with new lawsuits over solar-panel issues.

Some insurers simply include solar panel coverage under Section A in homeowners’ policies, said B.G. Murphy, director of government affairs for the Florida Association of Insurance Agents. Others add conditions, such as not covering photovoltaic panels damaged by wind or hail. And others offer no solar panel coverage at all.

Florida-owner Citizens Property Insurance will cover some – but not all – solar homes, a spokesperson told the Insurance Journal. The state’s largest private insurer, Universal Property & Casualty, will cover solar panels if a roof is in good condition, according to John Lykins, the Alabama and Florida marketing manager for Universal.

Lykins calls liability “the tricky part.” What if solar-panel electricity injures a utility worker, for example?

Insurers’ solar panel considerations

  • Frontline Insurance won’t cover homes with “net metering,” meaning projects that allow the homeowner to sell excess electricity back to the power grid. That includes almost all solar-powered homes, says Scott Kremkau, a sales representative for Frontline in the Florida Panhandle, unless they only use solar to heat hot water or swimming pools.
  • A home that generates more than 10 kilowatts of power faces a Florida requirement for $1 million in liability coverage. Many insurers won’t do that, and “something we absolutely won’t cover,” Kremkau says.
  • Some local utilities require homeowners to name them in their homeowners policy. Some don’t.
  • Some insurers say that a homeowners’ policy isn’t even legitimate if they sell electricity back to a utility. They claim that makes the home a business. Other insurers disagree, likening that logic to owners who get an insurance discount because they updated their home to withstand hurricane-force winds. Insurers have asked the Florida Public Service Commission for clarification.
  • Insurers also say that property appraisers often don’t factor in solar panels when calculating a home’s value – but for coverage, insurers must consider replacement costs. 

On almost every issue, opinions run hot and cold. However, many Florida insurers, already skittish about current problems they’re facing, choose to err on the side of caution.

Amber Bradford, a We Insure agent/owner in Navarre, Florida, says many Florida insurers require a new roof every 10 years now. If that’s the case, she suggests, get a new roof before having solar panels installed.

She also admits that not all insurance agents are up to speed yet on solar options and the industry’s quick growth. She says it’s led to unneeded liability in some cases and too little insurance in others.

“It is kind of a mess right now,” she told the Insurance Journal.

Source: Insurance Journal, Nov. 1, 2021; William Rabb

© 2021 Florida Realtors®

Poor Landscaping Can Have a Seriously Negative Impact on Property Value

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Poor landscaping can make even the best of properties look a bit run-down and rough around the edges. But it turns out that less-than-stellar landscaping can do more than make your home look bad—it can actually impact the value of your property.

recent survey from Trees.com, which surveyed 1250 licensed real estate agents in the United States, explored the impact of landscaping on property values. Some of the survey’s key findings include:

  • Poor landscaping can drive down property values. According to the survey, a whopping 78 percent of real estate agents said that poor landscaping negatively impacts property values.
  • The impact of poor landscaping on property values is significant. 24 percent of real estate agents estimated that poor landscaping decreases a home’s value by 10 percent. 22 percent estimate that decrease in value to be 20 percent—while 18 percent of real estate agents said that poor landscaping could cause a property’s value to drop by a staggering 30 percent.
  • Grass, trees, and flowers add the most value to a property. Not all landscaping elements are created equal. If you want your landscaping to add value to your home, the real estate agents surveyed recommend focusing on grass (64 percent), trees (59 percent), and flowers (52 percent).

The Takeaway:

So, what does this mean for you? Keeping your property properly landscaped takes time, energy, and resources—but when you look at the way your landscaping can impact your property value, it’s definitely time, energy, and resources well spent.

Need more tips? Kevin and Jennifer Hanley, REALTORS The Hanley Home Team Keller Williams Realty Atlantic Partners Southside 904-515-2479 HanleyHomeTeam.com

Thinking About Updating Your Home? Here Are Some 2021 Design Trends to Consider

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When you redesign your home, you want to design it in a way that feels timely and on-trend.

But what does “timely” and “on-trend” look like in 2021?

The 2021 Houzz Emerging Home Design Trends Report outlined some of the year’s most popular home design trends, including:

  • Dedicated activity spaces. Forget craft closets. One of 2021’s biggest trends is creating an entirely dedicated room or space in the home to house the family’s favorite activity—whether that’s an art studio, a home theater, or a wine cellar.
  • Living room refreshes. Updating their home in general is a priority for many homeowners this year—but the room homeowners seem to be most interested in refreshing? The living room. According to Houzz’s data, searches for living rooms (which can provide homeowners design inspiration) are up 52 percent compared to 2020.
  • Luxury colors and materials. This year, homeowners are embracing luxury in their home design—with velvet, gold, and crystal accents all in high demand.

Let’s discuss some redesign ideas! Kevin and Jennifer Hanley, REALTORS The Hanley Home Team at Keller Williams Realty Atlantic Partners Southside 904-515-2479 HanleyHomeTeam.com

Buying a Starter Home Is Cheaper Than Renting in Nearly Half the Metro Areas in the Us

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Renting is often looked at as a more affordable alternative to homeownership, but in many areas of the US, that’s actually not the case.

According to recent data from realtor.com, rents are rising fast and hitting new highs in metro areas across the country. In July, the median rental price in the US was $1607—a 9.8 percent increase from July 2020. 

And not only are rental prices increasing, but they’re increasing to the point that, in many areas, renting is now more expensive than owning. With a median rental price of $1607, rent is now 15.5 percent more expensive than mortgage payments for a starter home in 24 of the 50 largest metro areas. 

The Takeaway:

So, what does this mean for you? If you’ve been putting off buying your first home because you’ve thought renting is cheaper, it may be time to reexamine that logic. Depending on where you live, there’s a good chance that buying a home may actually be more affordable than your current rental.

Get in touch today and start saving money by buying a home! Kevin and Jennifer Hanley, REALTORS The Hanley Home Team at Keller Williams Realty Atlantic Partners Southside 904-515-2479 HanleyHomeTeam.com

Fall Real Estate Market Expected to Be Slightly More Buyer Friendly

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Summer is almost over, which means the temperatures are about to cool off. And while there’s no guarantee, it looks like the housing market may cool along with it—at least slightly.

According to a recent article from realtor.com, many experts expect that, while the fall buying season will be competitive, it won’t be quite as frenzied as the spring or summer.

One indicator supporting that projection is the pace of price growth. According to the article, the national median home price hit $385,000 the week ending August 14 (the highest on record). That price represented a 8.2 percent increase year over year—a definite increase in price, but significantly less than the 17.2 percent increase from April 2020 to April 2021. Inventory is also starting to increase (according to data from the National Association of REALTORS®,1.32 million homes were available for sale in July 2021—a 7.3 increase from June)—and the more inventory is available in the fall, the easier the home search process will be for buyers.

The Takeaway:

So, what does this mean for you? There’s no denying that fall is shaping up to be a competitive season for real estate—but with slowing price growth and increasing inventory, it could prove to be less competitive than it has been for quite a while. Let us help you find that perfect home this fall! Kevin and Jennifer Hanley, REALTORS The Hanley Home Team at Keller Williams Realty Atlantic Partners Southside 904-515-2479 HanleyHomeTeam.com

Don’t Buy a Car Before Closing on Your Loan (or furniture or open a credit card!)

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You need a new car. You need a new home. But will buying the former impact your ability to buy the latter?

recent article from realtor.com outlined the ways taking out a car loan could impact your ability to get a mortgage (and to get the best rate on that mortgage), including:

  • Changing your credit score. When you apply for a car loan, it’ll show up as a hard inquiry on your credit report. While hard inquiries don’t have much of a long-term impact on your credit, in the short-term, they can lower your credit score by a few points—which, depending on your score, could jeopardize your ability to secure the most competitive rate (or to qualify for a mortgage at all).
  • Changing your debt-to-income ratio. Debt-to-income ratio is one of the most important factors lenders use to determine how much house you can afford—and, as such, what mortgage amount you’re approved for. Taking out a car loan before buying a house impacts your debt-to-income ratio and can result in you getting approved for a smaller loan.
  • Acting as a “red flag” to your lender. Making a big purchase (like a car) and taking on more debt prior to buying a home can be a red flag to lenders that you’re not responsible with your finances—which could impact your ability to get approved.

The Takeaway:

So, what does this mean for you? If you’re thinking about buying a new home and a new car, you may want to consider waiting to buy the car until after your home purchase is all wrapped up. Give us a call if you have questions! Kevin and Jennifer Hanley, REALTORS The Hanley Home Team at Keller Williams Realty Atlantic Partners Southside 904-515-2479 HanleyHomeTeam.com