Give Thanks to Home Ownership

While we are in the season of giving thanks, it serves as a good reminder why we should be thankful to be homeowners.   It’s not just about having a roof over your head – a home provides shelter, wealth, stability & pride.  Below are just some of the many financial and non-financial benefits.

  • The average homeowner’s net worth is 44x greater than a renter’s.  (Federal Reserve’s survey of Consumer Finances 2013-2016)
  • Rent prices increase 3-4% annually.  A fixed mortgage provides the stability of knowing your payments won’t go up.
  • You can build home equity which can then later be used to start a business, pay college tuition, or help buy a vacation property.
  • Homeowners tend to be more involved in their community.
  • Home ownership provides a sense of accomplishment & control over your environment.  This also impacts children as studies show they have less behavioral problems and perform better in school.

If owning a home is part of your American dream, then contact me to help you start the process! 603-526-4116; Donna@DonnaForest.com; www.DonnaForest.com

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The Art of Appraisals

An appraisal is a licensed appraiser’s opinion of value of a property usually based on comparable sales.  When buyers get a mortgage, the lender requests an appraiser to conduct a written valuation of the house.  The lender will compare the appraisal price to the selling price to make sure the buyer is not borrowing more than the house is worth.  An appraisal is subjective and is more of an art than science.   Some appraisers are more generous in their adjustments and some are more conservative, all following lending guidelines.  In quickly appreciating markets such as this one, it does happen where a home will appraise lower than the agreed upon sales price.  The lack of similar sales and higher prices due to bidding wars make it challenging for appraisers.  If the appraisal comes in low, it does not mean the seller must sell it to you at the appraised value.  It can become a point of renegotiation or buyers may have to pay out of pocket for the difference.  Obviously the goal is to make the sale work for both parties.  Remaining calm and working with an experienced agent is the key to a successful sale.  Give me a call if you'd like professional service in buying or selling a home.  603-526-4116; www.DonnaForest.com; Donna@DonnaForest.com.

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Is There Really a Selling Season?

In this area there definitely is.  Usually it’s our first sign of spring when For Sale signs start popping up like dandelions in the lawn and our multiple listings change daily with new homes and land on the market.  Data from the National Association of REALTORS show that May through August are the busiest months for volume of sales.  Buying stays steady through the summer and early fall.  It usually drops off right after Labor Day for a couple of weeks and then picks up again in October through early November.  Two of the more obvious factors for this “seasonal” market include the fact that school has ended and families prefer to move before the next school year starts as well as the weather is much nicer in the spring-summer to be out looking at properties.  This is not to say that properties will not sell any other time of year.  It just means in this area there may be fewer buyers out there looking.  With proper pricing and enhancing your home for maximum effect, a house will sell regardless of the month.  Give me a call to get the Better Homes & Gardens advantage any time of year.  603-526-4116; www.DonnaForest.com; Donna@DonnaForest.com.

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Housing Market Hot or Not?

The housing market still appears to be going strong both in the US and in NH.  Nationally, the median sales price through Aug. was up 4.7% to $278,200 and in NH it was up 5.6% to $299,900.  A strong labor  market, low interest rates, and low inventory continue to impact housing sales by pushing up home prices.  Locally, in the towns of Newbury, New London, & Sunapee combined, sales up are up - 164 homes sold YTD through Aug. compared to 135 sold in 2018.  Avg. days on market this year is 78 days compared to 116 days last year for the 3 towns and the avg. selling price was 96% of the asking price.   Interestingly enough, in our area the median sales price through Aug. stayed about the same at $351,000 (last year it was $350,000).

While the U.S. economy at large looks positive, experts are split on whether another recession is on the horizon. However, most signs point to continued good news for the housing market. The CoreLogic HPI Forecast predicts a moderate but healthy 5.6% acceleration in annual home price growth to June 2020.  Bottom line, the housing market is really good for buyers and sellers.  Mortgage rates are low and home prices are still rising.  Contact me to work with a realtor who understands how the market impacts you!  603-526-4116; www.DonnaForest.com; Donna@DonnaForest.com.

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Seven Reasons Getting Rid of Clutter Helps a House Sell Faster

Whether you bought a starter home or what you hoped would be a forever home,circumstances change. One thing that doesn’t change though, is the inevitable expansion that occurs when you become a homeowner. As time goes on, you acquire tools that need to be used just once or twice a year, like step ladders and extension ladders, lawn mowers, edgers and leaf blowers. When it’s time to sell, you may find you’ve expanded just a bit too much. Getting rid of clutter is the first thing you need to do when you’re thinking of putting your home on the market, and sadly, unless you move frequently, there are very few peoplewho don’t accumulate more than they should.

Here are seven reasons you need to get rid of that clutter to ensure a quick home sale.

1. It’s all about imagined lives

Clutter makes it hard to think.You may not think of your collection of exotic masks from your foreign travels as clutter. But let’s face it, we don’t all like the same things, and if your home is bursting with small objects, buyers can’t imagine themselves in your space. You have to make room for them and their imagined lives in what might soon be their home rather than yours. Store the highly personal collections during the selling process so buyers can see the space as theirs, and they’ll be more likely to make an immediate offer.

2. Help the potential buyer maintain focus

Extra seating, family photos and bone china tea cup collections are all distractions.You don’t want potential buyers to become so intrigued (or puzzled) by the things you’ve collected—none of which they’ll be purchasing—that they don’t actually register the house itself. You want them to look at the space,appreciate its best features and become convinced of its potential for their family. 

3. Create the illusion of space to entice buyers

By getting rid of extra seating, paring down the clothes in your closets and weeding out everything in the pantry that’s past its best-before date, you create the illusion of more space, which is always a good thing when trying to sell a home. After all, empty rooms always look bigger than rooms filled with furniture. 

Be strategic, though, and don’t leave yourself with nowhere to sit. Think of your home as wearing its Sunday best rather than sweats and a t-shirt, and if there’s a chair the cat’s clawed, the sun has faded or that needs cleaning or reupholstering, get it out of the house while potential buyers are viewing. There will be plenty of time to kick back and relax in that past-its-prime lounger when you’re moved into your new home.

4. Well-staged homes photograph better

While you might get a viewing from a drive-by or after an open house, most potential buyers these days are going to look at your house and its listing online. Good photos make all the difference here, but you’re not going to get them if you haven’t decluttered. Put the family photos away, get all the toys into the toy box, remove the gym equipment that’s migrated from the basement to other living areas and make your real estate agent’s job easier by presenting a home that shows to advantage in both photos and real life.

5. Maximize kitchen counter space

Yes, it’s a pain. But even though your family uses the toaster and blender everyday, putting them away in cupboards before viewings provides a clean slate and makes potential home buyers think about all the meals they’re going to prepare in their new home. 

If your home’s being shown to first-time home buyers, chances are good they’re looking for more space, particularly an opportunity to expand from a galley kitchen to one that has room for a table and chairs. Help them believe they’regoing to be transformed into hosts with the most when they buy your home by giving them the visual space they need.

6. Don’t borrow trouble

Cluttered homes make potential buyers uneasy. Viewing someone else’s occupied home is slightly uncomfortable for most people. Clutter is not only a distraction; it makes your home look uncared for. This can make potential buyers start to ask themselves, “if they haven’t taken care of their possessions, what other problems are brewing here?” You could lose an offer if this kind of nebulous doubt sets in.

7. Let your home show itself

Let’s face it—you’re selling your home, not the couch and coffee table. By getting rid of clutter and replacing it with neutral but stylish accessories, you lead the buyer’s eye to the features of your home that are its true selling points. That means you’re going to get a quicker sale and a higher price than if you make a potential buyer struggle to see your home’s merits.

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What to Expect at Closing

In order to take the mystery out of the closing process for buyers, here are some basics on the process:

  • You do a walk-through the day before or morning of the closing to ensure the house is in the same general condition as when the offer was made and things are left that were supposed to be there (e.g. appliances).
  • Your lender hires a closing agent who creates a statement outlining the loan amount, loan costs, recording fees, title insurance premiums, escrows for insurance & taxes, state transfer tax, tax prorations, and the deposit.  This will show how much money you will need to bring to close. 
  • You are charged for any oil/propane/firewood/pellets left.  This may be put on the closing statement or paid by check to sellers. 
  • Be prepared to sign lots of paperwork at the actual closing!  The funds you bring should be on a bank check or previously wired to the closing agent.

Your agent will help you through this process, but knowing what to expect can alleviate many concerns.  Give me a call if you want an experienced Realtor helping you!  603-526-4116, www.DonnaForest.com, Donna@DonnaForest.com

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5 Tips for Buying a Homes

Buying a home is one of the largest investments you will make.  Here are some tips to help you prepare:

  1. Don’t do it alone.  Use an experienced agent who can provide you with invaluable advice through the process.
  2. Get pre-qualified with a lender before going out to look.
  3. Don’t overbuy.  Look at all the expenses including heating costs, utilities, insurance, needed home repairs, etc.
  4. Check out the neighborhood at different times of the day and week before committing to buying.  Get information on the town and the schools.
  5. Think re-sale.  A house in a bad school district or on a busy street will impact the future value and limit your target audience.

 While buying a home is an emotional experience, it is a business transaction as well.  Preparing yourself in advance will help avoid costly mistakes.  Call me if you are looking for an Accredited Buyers’ Representative to help find your new home. 603-526-4116; www.DonnaForest.com; Donna@DonnaForest.com

Real estate markets are local, and we have the real scoop on ours.  Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate - The Milestone Team

Discover the Perfect Time for Buying a Vacation Home

If you’re lucky enough to have reached the time in your life when you can seriously contemplate buying a vacation home, there’s much to be excited about.  According to the National Association of Realtors, one in eight homeowners are thinking of buying a second home. While summer may be the time of year you start to think longingly about sun, sea and sand, it may not be the best time to buy a cottage.

Here are some things to consider when you’re buying a vacationhome.

Peak of season is seldom a good idea

Avoiding peak seasons makes sense in supply and demand terms. Peak season, whether you have your eye on a Vail ski chalet or a Cape Cod sea shanty, is when the area in which you’re looking is at its finest. Since vacation homes can be sentimental investments, many who’ve inherited them rent them out as additional sources of income so they can hang onto a property. They may be sharing it with siblings or have had to buy them out. They also may be part-time vacation home investment owners who got in early on a new resort but need to ensure 100 percent occupancy during peak season to make their investment pay off.

Aim for the final weeks of the high season to make your offer or hold off until just after peak season ends. If you’re looking for a summer vacation home, the time between Labor Day and Thanksgiving is the perfect window of opportunity.You’ll still take possession early enough in the year to be able to get a glimpse of what future summers can hold, and you’ll also have a chance to do any needed repairs before winter sets in. Then you can spend the winter planning what you need to do to make the place your own the following summer.

If you’re looking at a winter vacation home, spring is the best time to make an offer. While diehards may still be renting or occupying their vacation homes, hoping to get one or two more days of spring skiing or boarding in, most will have placed their properties on the market. Just be careful not to leave your offer for too late in the year if the area you’re interested in is remote. Some owners board up their properties for the off season, making it harder to get viewings. Also, don’t forget the power of spring mud. Properties accessible through three seasons may become harder to access during spring thawing and flooding.

Be sure the time is right

Before buying a vacation home, you need to think long and hard about a whole host of considerations. First and foremost is whether you will be able to use it enough to make it worthwhile for you financially. Even if you buy a vacation home and plan to rent it out to defray expenses, that means your time there will be limited. While you may love a cottage on a lake in fall, not everyone else does. If you can’t afford to spend the 4th of July at your own cottage, this may not be the time to buy.

Second, have you considered all the duplicate expenses involved? Whether you want your vacation home to mirror your principal residence in all ways, you can’t escape the fact that you’re going to need two of everything now. Unless, that is, you want to treat every weekend you spend at your vacation home like a camping trip (which may well be the case). You’re not going to want to haul lawn mowers and leaf blowers to the cottage every summer weekend. That goes double for appliances, linens and furniture. You’ll also have a second set of bills for property taxes, insurance, yard maintenance, internet and cleaning costs. In addition, there may be HOA fees, too.

Third, what are your vacation goals? If you want to visit every continent and are running out of time to tackle Asia and Africa, does a vacation property make sense? If you find you’re drawn to experiential vacations like hiking the Appalachian Trail, swimming with the dolphins or building someone else a home with Habitat for Humanity, a vacation home may be an anchor you don’t need.

On the other hand, if you know you can afford to invest in a second property and have a long-term plan to use it as a home base while you globe trot in retirement, or if you want your family to have the freedom of the great outdoors while they’re growing up, it might just be time to seize the day.

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Source:  www.bhgre.com/bhgrelife

Six Tips for Winning a Bidding War

Given the lack of homes for sale, we often see multiple offer situations.  It pays for buyers to be prepared should they find themselves in a bidding war.  Here are some tips to help put your offer in the best position.

  • Keep contingencies to a minimum.  Decide what inspections you can live without and don’t add in extra clauses.
  • Find out the seller’s ideal closing date and use it for your closing date.
  • Keep all  contractual due dates in as short of time frame as possible. 
  • Be prepared to offer over the asking price.  Money talks and usually the higher price wins.
  • Cash offers beat offers with loan conditions.   (Unless the offered price is significantly higher than the cash offer).  Present a pre-approval letter with your offer if it is based on a loan.
  • Even though you may be getting financing, you can write the offer as a cash sale with no loan contingencies.  You must be confident you will get the loan with no issues.
  • Include a letter to the sellers explaining why you love their house. 

Bidding wars are emotionally tough as someone always loses out.  Give your best and final offer so you  have no regrets if you don’t get the home.  Contact me if you want to work with an accredited buyer’s agent to help you navigate the challenges of buying a home.  www.DonnaForest.com; Donna@DonnaForest.com; 603-526-4116

Real estate markets are local, and we have the real scoop on ours.  Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate - The Milestone Team

The Housing Market is Blooming!

It is spring in the Granite State and the housing market is in full bloom.  While we are still experiencing low inventory, buyers are out buying and multiple offers are not uncommon.  Like last year, the lack of homes to sell is impacting prices.  Statewide in the 1st quarter, the median sales price grew from $260,000 in 2018 to $280,000 in 2019, up 7.7%.   The average days on market was 80 days.  Sales statewide are down by 2.8%; again due to low inventory. 

In the combined towns of Newbury, New London, and Sunapee, 1st quarter sales are about the same.  26 homes sold in 2019; 25 sold in 2018.  The average days on market dropped to 145 days vs. 201 days in 2018.  The median sales price was $350,250 in 2019 compared to $392,000 in 2018.  The higher median sales price in 2018 can be attributed to having 3 sales over $1 million close in the 1st quarter vs. the highest sales price this year was $750,000.

The good news for home buyers is no further rate hikes are expected and the 30 yr. fixed rate mortgage is under 4.5%.  Additionally it is still a tight job market which is pushing up income.  Bottom line, it’s still a good time to be a buyer or seller so contact me to get your jump on the spring market!  603-526-4116, www.DonnaForest.com, donna@donnaforest.com

Figures are based on information from the Northern New England Real Estate Network, Inc. for the period 1/1/18 – 3/31/18 and 1/1/19 – 3/31/19.

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