How Time Can Be On Your Side if You’re a First-Time Home Buyer in This Market


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If you’re in the market to buy your first home in this market, it’s probably felt like an uphill battle. There aren’t a lot of houses to choose from, and the minute a house gets listed there are a ton of offers to compete against.

Adding to the stress, now you’re probably worrying about the news that interest rates are going up, and hoping to scoop up a house before rates go up too high and make buying a house more affordable. 

But then there’s the news about pending home sales dropping over the past couple of months, which may sound hopeful to buyers. 

Is there light at the end of the tunnel? Are buyers putting on the brakes and waiting to see if house prices come down due to rates rising? Should you wait and try to time the market?

All understandable questions buyers may be thinking about, but speculating and trying to time the market is a gamble that may not pay off as one would hope. Here’s a few reasons why:

  • Even if interest rates go up, prices may not come down enough to make buying a house cost less.
  • Inventory won’t likely increase enough to outpace demand. That can only be solved by either more houses being built, or more Baby Boomers listing their houses, which hasn’t happened as anticipated.
  • Trying to time the real estate market is almost impossible for even a seasoned real estate investor, let alone an average homebuyer.

So timing may not be the best bet, but time itself can be on your side as a first-time buyer in any market, but especially this one.

Part of the reason why there are so few homes for sale, and pending sales have dropped over the past few months, is due to the fact that many homeowners worry about where they’ll go if they sell their house. Think about your concerns as a first-time buyer having to find a house to begin with, and then hope you can beat out a bunch of other buyers. That concern is even greater for someone who already owns a house. Even if they truly want to move, it can be scary to pull the trigger and list their house because they have legitimate concerns that they won’t be able to find and buy a house.

This is where you, as a first-time buyer, have an advantage. Most sellers would love to have time on their side to look for a home once they get their house under contract. Sure they want as much money as they can get for their house, but time to look for a house can be more valuable than a higher offer another buyer makes. 

The Takeaway:

Rather than put your house hunting on hold and speculating that prices will come down, or more inventory will magically appear, focus on what you have to offer that other buyers can’t offer to a seller—as much time as they need to find a house to buy. 

This doesn’t mean you can get away with a lowball offer against other buyers, but it can give you the upperhand. So consider writing terms into your offers that give the seller as much time as they need to find a house. 

And perhaps your real estate agent can even use your ability to wait as a reason to reach out to their network of past clients and other agents. There’s no guarantee, but he or she might be able to find a seller who hasn’t listed their house because they’re concerned about timing. It could be just the right thing that gets a hesitant homeowner to sell, and gets you a house to buy!

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

7 Things to Avoid When Selling Your House Due to Divorce


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Considering everything you’re thinking, feeling, and dealing with when going through a divorce, one of the last things you want to think about is selling your house. It’s a stressful thing to do even when you’re not getting divorced. But when you are, it can be even more stressful.

While it shouldn’t affect how much you sell your house for, or how quickly it gets sold, it can cost you both time and money if you don’t pay attention to a few details. Some buyers may pick up on the cues and clues and use them to try and get a deal on your house because they sense desperation or motivation. Others may simply be turned off by the vibe and take a pass on your house, making it sit on the market longer than it would otherwise.

To help sell your house as quickly and profitably as possible, here are 7 things you want to avoid when selling your house due to divorce:

1) Half-empty closets

Plenty of people who are simply single and aren’t splitting with a significant other sell homes with closets filled only with their clothes. But it doesn’t usually look like someone else used to take up half the space in the closet. While the person who moves out doesn’t have to leave their wardrobe behind just for appearances, make an effort to stage the closet in a way that doesn’t look like someone else used to share the space.

2) Missing furniture

Buying new furniture isn’t always possible when going through a divorce. So it’s pretty common for the person moving out to take some furniture to get settled in their new home. If at all possible, try and keep the furnishings intact in the home until you get it sold. If that’s not possible, try and rearrange the remaining furniture in a way that doesn’t look like pieces are missing, or replace the missing pieces with something borrowed or inexpensive until the house sells. 

3) Mattress on the floor

Another common sight agents see in homes that are being sold due to divorce are mattresses on the floor. If the bed frame went with the person who moved out, you don’t have to buy anything fancy, but at least get a cheap bed frame to get it up off the floor, or put some crates underneath and make sure the bedding hides them from sight.

4) A slept on couch

Sometimes the solution isn’t for one person to move entirely out of the house, but just out of the bedroom until the house is sold. If one of you is using the couch as a bed, just make sure to put away the pillows and blankets each morning. And also make sure that the coffee table doesn’t look like your nightstand! 

5) Missing family pictures

Some agents advise everyone to strip their house of any personal photos when selling, even if they aren’t getting divorced. The thought is that it gives buyers a better chance at envisioning themselves in the home, rather than the existing owner. But when you’re selling due to a divorce, having pictures of your family, or worse, having pictures that don’t include one of the partners, can be a tip-off that something’s going on when combined with other clues they may pick up. So, to be safe, just replace family photos with some framed artwork instead.

6) Nasty notes

Emotions can run high during a divorce, and couples don’t always have it in them to speak face to face when they’re mad. Whether the couple is still living under the same roof, or one came by to pick something up, sometimes an angry note left on the table of fridge is the chosen method to say what’s on their mind. Just make sure they aren’t hanging around for buyers to see when they come to look at the house. Better yet, send a text.

7) Legal paperwork

Of course leaving any legal or other private documents out in the open when your house is on the market isn’t advisable. But it doesn’t even have to be the actual documentation that’s left out! Make sure you don’t have mail out in the open that indicates it’s from a divorce attorney. 

Hopefully these tips will help you navigate the process of selling your house during a difficult time.

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

Planning to Buy a Home? These Savings Strategies Will Help You Save Up for Your Home Purchase


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If you’re planning on buying a home, you need to save up for your down payment and to cover closing costs. But saving can be tough—and if you want to save up enough money to purchase a home, you need a plan.

But what, exactly, should that plan entail?

recent article from outlined key savings strategies you can use to save enough money to successfully buy a home, including:

  • Set up a home savings account—and set up automatic payments. If you’re saving for a home, you’ll want to set up a savings account specifically for your house savings. Then schedule regular automatic transfers (for example, once or twice per month) from your checking account to your home savings account, just like you would a bill. Automating your home savings will ensure that you’re putting money away each month—and will help you reach your savings goal faster.
  • Turn spare change into savings. When it comes to saving for a home, you’re probably thinking in dollars—but cents can also help you reach your goals. There are a variety of apps that will round your purchases up to the nearest dollar—then deposit that spare change into a savings account. While 25 cents here or 70 cents there might not seem like much, those cents can quickly add up—and when it comes to financing a home purchase, every cent counts.
  • Research down payment assistance programs. The down payment is generally the largest expense associated with buying a home—but, depending on your financial situation, you may not need to save up for your entire down payment yourself. There are a variety of down payment assistance programs available to certain types of buyers (for example, buyers at a certain income level, or civil servants looking to buy a home)—so do your research and see if there are any programs you qualify for.

Ready to start your home buying journey? Reach out today – Kevin and Jennifer Hanley, REALTORS The Hanley Home Team of Keller Williams Realty Atlantic Partners Southside 904-515-2479

The “New Rules” for Selling Your House in Today’s Market


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In today’s hot seller’s market, many of the old rules of selling a home don’t apply. 

But if the old rules aren’t the way to sell your home in today’s market, what, exactly, are the new rules?

recent article from outlined the “new rules” of home selling that can help homeowners sell their homes quickly and profitably in today’s market, including:

  • List at or below market value. Many sellers believe that in order to get high offers, you need a high listing price. But in today’s market, listing at (or even under!) market value is sure to attract buyers—and the competition for a well-priced property can start a bidding war, driving offers well above asking price.
  • Be prepared for a high volume of showings. As mentioned, competition can be fierce in today’s market—and chances are, there are going to be a lot of potential buyers that want to see your home. While your home is on the market, you need to be prepared to be away from your home for long stretches of time—particularly on the weekends, when you can expect back-to-back showings all day long.
  • Beware of offers that seem too good to be true. With so much competition in the market, many buyers are making insane offers—sometimes as much as $200,000 over asking price. But if those buyers are planning to use a mortgage, there may be a gap between the appraisal price and their offer price—which can cause the deal to fall apart. When evaluating offers, beware of financed offers that are wildly over asking price; otherwise, you could end up wasting time.

The Takeaway:

Understanding the best strategies for selling a home in today’s market will help you sell your home quickly, easily, and profitably—so before you list your home, make sure to get to know these “new rules” of home selling. Kevin and Jennifer Hanley, REALTORS The Hanley Home Team of Keller Williams Realty Atlantic Partners Southside 904-515-2479

Will the Russian Invasion of Ukraine Affect the US Real Estate Market?


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Nearly everyone is keeping an eye on what’s happening in Ukraine, hoping it will end quickly and without too much damage and loss of life. 

It may feel trivial and even selfish to wonder how it will affect the US real estate market, but it’s a valid concern if you’re in the process of selling or buying a house, or simply thinking of doing either.

While it’s impossible to predict exact impacts on the entire US real estate market, let alone local markets, it’s possible to speculate on a few broad potentials:

Consumer Hesitancy

Whenever there are big question marks due to geopolitical events like this, people may hold off on selling or buying a house because they simply aren’t sure of the impacts it may have on them directly or indirectly. This could show in the form of buyers putting a pause on their home search, or sellers taking their house off the market. 

As of now there hasn’t been much change in market conditions. There are still a lot more active buyers than there are houses for sale. In other words, it’s still a sellers’ market in most areas of the country.

Luxury and Secondary Markets Could Take a Hit

The stock market and investment accounts are a lot more volatile during a major conflict. One day they are down considerably, then they bounce back only to take another dip. Since luxury and secondary homes are more often funded by tapping into investment accounts, it could put a damper on the higher end home sales.

Rise in Construction Costs

Transportation costs have already been rising due to oil prices, but this conflict could lead to even less supply and higher prices, which would impact the transportation costs of building materials even more than the supply chain issue has affected costs. Therefore, new construction homes could see more of a hike in cost and delays. 

Mortgage Rates

Mortgage rates are the X-factor. While there’s no guarantee it will last, mortgage rates actually came down a bit and could come down even more, or stabilize, rather than continue rising like they had been in recent weeks. This is likely due to investors looking for a safer place to put their money in such a volatile financial market, so they often invest in mortgage-backed securities, bonds and U.S. Treasury notes which affect mortgage rates. 

The Takeaway:

Considering how unpredictably the market reacted (and how much it surged) during the COVID pandemic, there’s a good chance the market will continue along much like it has been for the past couple of years — especially if mortgage interest rates stop rising, or even go down again. 

Low mortgage rates will likely lead to buyers who are still willing and anxious to buy. Couple that with the low number of houses for sale, and it paints a picture of an overall US real estate market not noticeably affected by the crisis in Ukraine.

As always, there’s no crystal ball in real estate, and it’s such an individual decision affected by one’s personal situation and local market. If you’re concerned about whether selling your house or buying a house makes sense for you, speak to your financial advisor and/or a local real estate agent for advice. Kevin and Jennifer Hanley, REALTORS The Hanley Home Team of Keller Williams Realty Atlantic Partners Southside 904-515-2479

Should You Buy or Sell a House in 2022? Don’t Base Your Decision on Headlines Alone


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Whether you’re at a party, family get-together, work, or just talking to a neighbor, there’s a good chance you’ll hear people talking about how crazy the real estate market’s been. And you’ll probably hear people’s opinions on whether it’s a good time to buy or sell a house.

But what are they basing their opinion on? 

Sometimes it’s just based on what they’ve heard second (or third) hand from a friend or family member. But a lot of times it’s “backed up” by what they’ve read or heard in the news, which is often just from a headline like, “Home Price Growth Is Finally Decelerating—and It’s Just the Start”, which Fortune recently published. 

Someone who only read that headline could easily take that as a sign that prices aren’t going to go up as much in 2022, and that’s just the start! So, it’s an easy leap to think that must mean prices may even go down next year. That could easily cause a homeowner to sell in a hurry before prices drop. Or, it could cause a buyer to wait for prices to come down and miss out on a house that would’ve been perfect for them, only to find nothing changed, or (worse!) prices went up even higher.

If you actually read the Fortune article, it doesn’t entirely prove out the headline, or at least how most people would interpret it. In fact, the “deceleration” they refer to in the headline is a 0.3% dip in home prices between September 2020 and September 2021. It went from an all-time high of 19.8% year-over-year gain, down to a 19.5% gain. Okay, to be fair, that is a “start” as they said in the headline…but how much more deceleration should we expect if that’s just the beginning?! 

Well, the predictions they cite in the article are all over the place for the next year:

  • Zillow predicts prices will rise 13.6%
  • Goldman Sachs predicts a rise of 13.5%
  • Fannie Mae expects a 7.9% increase
  • Freddie Mac thinks it’ll be a 7% bump up
  • Redfin is predicting price growth will only be 3%
  • CoreLogic sees it slowing to 1.9%
  • And the Mortgage Bankers Association is the only one cited with any amount of a decrease at 2.5%

To sum it up, according to the sources they cite, sure there may very well be a deceleration in prices, but that doesn’t mean prices will fall. Other than one source, they all predict that prices will continue to go up. More than half of them anticipate the growth rate to be higher than average…

…not quite what you may have thought if you just read the headline alone.

The Takeaway:

That’s just one example of a headline that could be misleading and cause you to judge whether it’s a good time for you to buy or sell a house. Much of what you see, hear, or read about the market tends to be too broad to make an informed decision, and the headlines can often be misleading. If you want a true read on the market and advice on whether it makes sense for you to buy or sell, your best bet is to speak to us who knows the local market. Kevin and Jennifer Hanley, REALTORS, Luxury, SRES The Hanley Home Team of Keller Williams Realty Atlantic Partners Southside 904-515-2479

Are You Paying Too Much for Your Monthly Mortgage? Better Check Now, Time Is Running Out to Refinance


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Nobody wants to overpay for a house, and people tend to focus on negotiating as low of a purchase price as possible when they actually buy a house. And of course they want to make sure the interest rate on the mortgage they take at that time is as low as possible too. This all makes total sense to do, of course. But, once all of that is done, many homeowners kind of “set it and forget it”, and never look at whether they could be paying even less for their house once they own it.

According to this CNBC article, Black Knight (a mortgage data provider) says that over 5 million homeowners just missed out on their chance to refinance to a better rate. Rising interest rates have just knocked all of those people out of the running to save some money on their house.

The good news is that according to Black Knight’s analysis and metrics, there are still 5.9 millionhomeowners who are in a position to save money, despite the rising rates. Their data indicates that more than a million borrowers could save at least $400 per month, and 661,000 homeowners could save more than $500 per month.

So, if you haven’t recently refinanced, you may want to do yourself a favor and look into it. You could be paying more per month for your house than you need to, and ultimately more for your house than you need to. Capitalize on the increased equity you might have due to the sharp rise in home values in the past couple of years, and the still record low mortgage rates, before either shifts too much for it to benefit you. 

When doing your research, make sure you consider and analyze the costs of doing the refinance, and that you aren’t getting sold on doing one when it doesn’t actually make sense.

The Takeaway:

Before speaking to a lender, consult with us about the current market value of your house, the lenders will want to know this information. But also speak to us about your short and long term goals with the house, as this will affect the advice we give you, and whether or not it makes sense for you to refinance at all. Then you can truly weigh whether the savings are worth doing, given the costs to do so, and your future housing plans. Kevin and Jennifer Hanley, REALTORS, Luxury, SRES The Hanley Home Team of Keller Williams Realty Atlantic Partners Southside 904-515-2479

The Most Popular Home Decor Styles, According to Pinterest


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If you’re planning on redesigning or redecorating your home, you want to make sure the design style you choose feels timely and on trend. 

But which styles are currently trending in the interior design world?

In an analysis outlined in a recent article from REALTOR® Magazine, researchers analyzed over 4 million Pinterest pins to determine which home decor styles were the most popular—and for which rooms. 

So, which home decor styles are currently trending—and in which rooms do those styles reign supreme? Some of the key findings include:

  • Vintage is the most popular design style overall… With over 876,000 pins, Vintage was, by far, the most popular design style across the platform. (With over 530,000 pins, Contemporary was a distant second.)
  • …and the preferred design style for living rooms. The Vintage style was also the most popular design choice for living rooms, tallying over 259,000 pins.
  • Contemporary bathrooms are all the rage. With over 172,000 pins, Contemporary was the most popular decor style for bathrooms.
  • Shabby chic is the most on-trend style for bedrooms. If you want your bedroom to feel on-trend in 2022, go for a Shabby Chic look. This style was the most popular option for bedroom designs, coming in at just under 120,000 pins.

Ready to style your next home? Kevin and Jennifer Hanley, REALTORS, Luxury, SRES The Hanley Home Team of Keller Williams Realty Atlantic Partners Southside 904-515-2479

Almost 40 Percent of Americans Plan to Move In 2022—Here’s What’s Driving Them


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According to a recent survey from LendingTree, nearly 40 percent of Americans are considering a move in 2022—and that number is even higher for millennials (53 percent), and remote workers (53 percent).

But why, exactly, are so many people planning to move?

According to the survey, some of the key drivers behind so many Americans’ plans to move in the upcoming year include:

  • More space. During COVID, people are spending more time at home than ever—and many of those people are realizing they need more space. Twenty-six percent of people surveyed said they were planning to move because their current home is too small.
  • Owning their own home. The dream of homeownership is still alive in the US; 17 percent said they planned to move in 2022 to fulfill their dream of owning their own property.
  • New features. Again, as people spent more time at home, many found that their current home didn’t have everything they wanted or needed—and, as such, 16 percent said they were considering moving because they were looking for different features in a home.

The Takeaway:

If you’re planning on making a move in the upcoming year (whatever the reason!), you’re not alone—so get in touch with us, get the ball rolling on your search, and make 2022 the year you find the perfect home for you. Kevin and Jennifer Hanley, REALTORS, Luxury, SRES The Hanley Home Team of Keller Williams Realty Atlantic Partners Southside 904-515-2479

82% Of Unmarried People Would Rather Buy a House Than Have a Wedding


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Photo by Deesha Chandra on

Having a wedding and buying a house: two of the biggest moments, with two of the biggest price tags in adult life. But lately, it seems the word “and” is being replaced with the word “or”, at least according to this REALTOR Magazine article!

82% of unmarried people surveyed said they’d rather skip the formal “I do’s” and spend their money on a house instead. That’s a mind-blowing percentage. Is it reality? Probably not. These were unmarried people who were surveyed, and only time will tell if they do actually opt to skip the wedding and invest that money in a house.

But it certainly makes you stop and think…

Ideally, most people would probably prefer to do both. But weddings aren’t cheap! The average cost of a wedding was $22,500 in 2021. But that’s a deal, mainly due to the pandemic affecting the wedding industry. From 2015 to 2018 the average cost was right around $33,000, which is probably where it’ll bounce back to (or higher) once COVID has exited the scene for good. 

That’s a pretty hefty chunk of change to drop for a single day. Sure, it’s traditional, and it creates memories that’ll last a lifetime, but it’s still a lot of dough for what amounts to a bunch of people getting together for a ceremony, some food, drinks, and music.

On the other hand, that’s a solid downpayment for a place you can call home for years to come, which will most likely appreciate in value. Let’s just round the $33,000 average wedding cost to an even $30,000 for easier math…

That equates to a downpayment of: 

  • 20% on $150K house
  • 10% on $300K house
  • 5% on $600K house

Of course you’ll still have to pay the mortgage on that house on a monthly basis, but you have to pay to live somewhere, so it may as well be something you’re accruing equity in.

This isn’t to say it’s an “either / or” decision for everybody; if you can do both, that’s fantastic!

But if you can’t do both, and are wrestling with whether it makes sense (or is just plain acceptable) to forgo a wedding and buy a house instead, it sounds like you’re in good company. So, feel free to pare down your nuptials and invest your money in a home instead! It may not be a decision people have always made in the past, but data indicates it could easily become a trend in the very near future.

Let’s get started on your home search! Kevin and Jennifer Hanley, REALTORS The Hanley Home Team of Keller Williams Realty Atlantic Partners Southside 904-515-2479