Housing Market Influences

I recently watched a presentation by acclaimed economist Elliot Eisenberg titled Economy 2022 Growing & Slowing. He was extremely informative and I thought it is worth sharing just a few of the interesting points he mentioned.

  • The housing shortage is due in large part to years of insufficient building. This will not be changing any time soon as builders face a lack of workers, a lack of affordable land to buy, and a scarcity in building materials. The cost of supplies are so high builders are not building entry level homes.
  • The labor shortage is due to multiple factors – more than 3 million excess retirements - above the normal pre-pandemic retirement rate, the lack of daycare means one parent is staying home and not working, immigration has fallen, over 600,000 people left their current jobs to start their own business and more than 700,000 people have died of COVID.
  • About 70% of the home sales in NH this year were purchased by people who already live in NH. Approx. 20% of the buyers were from MA and the remaining 10% of buyers were from other states/countries.

There are many factors and issues affecting the housing market. Whether buying or selling, contact me to work with someone who keeps up-to-date with the latest news and its impacts on you.

Contact Donna Forest: 603-526-4116; www.DonnaForest.com; Donna@DonnaForest.com

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The Finer Points

The Finer Points

In the emotional swirl of negotiating on a home, it’s easy to overlook some of the finer points of the contract. Below are some thoughts to keep in mind during this process.

  • While most sales close on time, the closing date is more of a target date. Time is of the essence doesn’t apply here. As long as both parties are making good faith efforts to close, there is no breach of contract.
  • Buyers can move into the home right after closing and typically do a walk-thru inspection 24 hrs. prior to closing. This means sellers should be completely moved out prior to the day of closing.
  • There is an insurance clause in the contract stating sellers need to keep the home insured including replacement cost coverage until closing.
  • Firewood and wood pellets are considered fuel and buyers are expected to reimburse sellers for what is left. Best to address this upfront in the offer with regards to quantity and price.
  • TV brackets, bookshelves that look built-in, and Nest thermostats for example, can become points of contention. Again, addressing these items in the contract is prudent.

Contact me if you are looking for an experienced realtor to help you navigate your real estate transaction!

Donna Forest ~ donna@donnaforest.com ~ 603-731-5151

Real estate markets are local, and we have the real scoop on ours. 

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Vacation Homes are Hot

With the sizzle of summer, it’s easy to think of owning (or at least renting!) a vacation home this year. In fact, recreational home buyers came out full force in the 2nd half of 2020 thru April 2021 in search of that lakefront home or cabin in the woods. The National Assoc. of Realtors (NAR) just released The Vacation Home Counties 2021 Report analyzing how the pandemic impacted this demand and not surprisingly, vacation home sales jumped 57% year-over-year during Jan-April 2021. “Vacation homes are a hot commodity at the moment,” says Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. “With many businesses and employers still extending an option to work remotely to workers, vacation housing, and second homes will remain a popular choice among buyers.” We saw it in our area this spring with bidding wars on the smaller ponds like Chalk Pond resulting in prices over $600,000. While our market seems to have settled down from the earlier months of frenzied buying, the second home market is expected to remain strong given the low supply and high demand. Thinking of buying or selling that second home? Contact me and put my 21 years of local expertise to work for you.

Donna Forest ~ donna@donnaforest.com ~ 613-731-5151

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It’s an Upward Climb

Home prices in NH as well as the US continue to climb upwards as we still are experiencing a shortage of houses for sale. Multiple offers are driving the median sales price of a home in NH to a high of $375,000 (YTD thru May) while the median sales price for the US is $350,000. The average days on market is 34 days and the selling prices are 102% of the asking price. Looking at our local market, in the 3 towns of Newbury, New London & Sunapee combined, there were a total of 53 homes sold thru May 2021, 56 sold in 2020 and 65 sold in 2019. The median selling price is $495,000 thru May compared to last year at $341,250. The average days on market is 24 days and last year was 91 days.

Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Assoc. of Realtors predicts by year end that we will see “less multiple offers, less hurried decisions, less frenzy” as he expects more inventory to come on the market. He anticipates bidding wars would no longer be prevalent by 2022. On the other hand, many articles I’ve read predict it will be years before the housing shortage catches up with demand. My advice – it’s hard to time the market so you should buy or sell when it’s right for you. Contact me to learn more about how the market could impact your plans in this challenging environment!

Donna Forest ~ donna@donnaforest.com  ~ 603-731-5151

Teamwork from the team that works the hardest for both buyers and sellers! Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate The Milestone Team

Why Sellers Should Still Stage Their Home

In such a hot market, sellers may tend to think, "Hey, the house will sell regardless of how it looks!", and so nothing gets done to prep it for sale. While this may be the easy road to take and yes, it will most likely sell despite the lack of preparation, sellers are leaving money on the table. A house is usually one of the biggest assets someone will have. A staged home will generate more buyer interest and therefore more offers. Multiple offers tend to mean the seller will get over the asking price. Over 95% of buyers are searching online and if you don’t have great photos, your property will be bypassed in seconds. Professional photos, videos, and virtual tours have become even more important since the beginning of the pandemic. Sellers should have an honest conversation with their agent on how to best prepare their home for sale. With some time and effort, you will end up putting thousands of dollars more in your pocket. Contact me to work with someone who cares about getting you the most out of your sale.

Donna Forest ~ 603-731-5151 ~ donna@donnaforest.com 

You’ll be moving in the right direction with Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate - The Milestone Team.

How to Deal With Contract Contingencies

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Nearly every real estate contract contains contingencies. How you deal with a real estate contract contingency might make or break the sale of your home. Some contingencies are easier to deal with than others, of course. Generally speaking, the faster you can fix the issues or make the accommodations stipulated in your real estate contract, the sooner your home can be sold.

What is a Real Estate Contract Contingency?

A real estate contract contingency is any condition outlined in the contract that must be met prior to the sale of a home. These stipulations exist to protect both buyers and sellers. If any of these conditions are not met, the contract would be void and the sale might not be able to move forward.

Common real estate contingencies include mortgage contingencies, which state that a mortgage loan must exist for the contract to move forward, and a home inspection contingency, which protects the buyer by requiring the house to be checked by a certified home inspector before the sale can move forward. In the case of a mortgage contingency, the stipulation is removed from the contract as soon as the loan is obtained. If a buyer cannot obtain a loan, they are usually able to gracefully exit the pending contract without penalty.

For a contingency like the home inspection requirement, once documentation of the check is obtained, the contract can proceed. If the home inspection finds faulty wiring, pests, structural damage, or other major problems with the property, the buyer can exit the contract without penalty. In this instance, the buyer would also receive any deposits or earnest money back. Alternatively, the buyer can request that repairs be made at the expense of the seller. If the seller does not wish to proceed and make the repairs, they can choose to void the contract. This again necessitates a return of all of the buyer’s deposits.

Another contingency that is often placed in a real estate contract involves the sale of the buyer’s current home. This stipulates that the buyer has a certain amount of time to sell their current home before purchasing a new one. If the home does not sell during that set period of time, the contract is voided. This protects the buyer from a scenario wherein they have to purchase a home they’re under contract for while they still have a mortgage on or equity in an old property. In a cash-poor situation like this, many buyers would not be able to obtain a mortgage or pay all-cash for a home, regardless.

Dealing with Contract Contingencies

As the seller, it’s important to have a real estate agent and attorney you can trust. These parties may review your contract with you and point out any contingencies that could prove problematic to you. If you know, for instance, that the home you are selling needs a new roof, chances are good you’d have to disclose it anyway.

However, under those circumstances, it’s important that a contingency for home inspection be worded properly and allow for the buyer to take possession of the home and then make their own repairs, in exchange for a lowered purchase price. This sort of phrasing can be critical if you’re a seller with a timeline for leaving your current property. You may not be able to wait to vet roofers and make the repairs yourself.

Similarly, if you are willing to accept an all-cash offer for a home so that you can move on more quickly, you should verify with your real estate agent that the contract is not contingent on the buyer having a mortgage loan in hand. There are unique issues that arise in all-cash deals, but if you are comfortable with that sort of arrangement, your contract will need to reflect it.

Most real estate contracts are fairly standard, but it’s always possible you are dealing with an inexperienced or even unscrupulous buyer and buyer’s agent. For this reason, and to protect your best interests in general, you should carefully review any contract you are considering signing. After all, it’s much easier to walk away before you have signed something than to have to find a way out of an executed contract later.

For advice with contingencies and much, much more, you can trust Better Homes and Gardens - The Milestone Team. There's a reason we're The Best Team in Town!

This post was originally published on the BHGRE Life Blog - https://www.bhgre.com/bhgrelife/ 

How to Spruce Up Your Garden Before Selling

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One of the first things your real estate agent will discuss with you when giving you tips for selling your house is the importance of “curb appeal.” While that includes your front door, windows, exterior light fixtures, walkways, fencing, and your front deck or porch, it’s also all about your yard. 

You may not be able to choose precisely when you put your house on the market. But as soon as you know you want to sell, you should start the outdoor work, preferably at least a month before you list the house and have an open house or book showings.

Here are a few tips on things you’ll want to tackle to make sure your home has enough curb appeal to get people in to view its interior.

Rent a Power Washer

Great for cleaning vinyl or brick siding, gutters, and paved surfaces, a weekend with a power washer is a great way to start the exterior clean up your home will need before you list it. As you clean the walkways, make note of any cracked or broken paving stones, and replace them.

Don’t forget to use the power washer on any birdbaths, water features, or small ponds you’ve created to wash away stains and lichens that may have started to sprout.

As you make your way around your home, check your exterior light fixtures and clear out the bugs that have collected in them and replace any burnt out lights.

Trim Shrubs and Trees

Now is the time to tackle low-hanging or damaged branches and shrubs that have overgrown the space allotted to them. It won’t just make the place look better, it will invigorate your trees and shrubs and force new growth in the direction you want to encourage it. If you have large trees that are beginning to encroach on power lines, consider hiring an arborist to do this work for you.

Invest in half a dozen paper yard waste bags and rake up any dead leaves and twigs. Most municipalities have yard waste collections or drop-off depots. Take advantage of them, and get rid of all your yard waste at once.

Unless you have perennials already planted at the base of your trees, consider investing in some top quality mulch instead of planting annuals later on. Invest in a few extra bags so you can top up the mulch once your house is listed. Cocoa mulch, if you can find it, is the husks of cocoa beans. When it’s fresh and shortly after it rains, you get the bonus of the lovely scent of chocolate spreading throughout your yard.

Remove Must-Have Perennials

If you have cherished perennials with a lot of sentimental value (bleeding heart, cherished rose bushes, or lily of the valley from your great-grandmother’s home), it’s better to remove them before showing the house. If you don’t have another place to plant them immediately, just put them in pots and make sure the pots are listed as an exclusion when negotiating a sale. 

Invest in Annuals and Hanging Pots

Keeping a house immaculate while it’s listed for sale is enough work without constantly worrying about the exterior as well. This year, no matter what your usual garden plan is, invest in tons of long-blooming annuals and fill up all your garden beds with them. Spread mulch around them and you won’t have to weed.

Petunias and pansies are particularly nice because they come in so many different colors and bloom all summer long. Chicken and eggs are a good investment too, as they’ll expand to fill the space available to them and grow densely enough so there won’t be any weeds creeping in amongst them.

Depending on the timing, you can also invest in roll-out flower gardens, seeds embedded in biodegradable material. While germination should only take a week or two, most take five to six weeks for full bloom, so this solution might or might not work, depending on the season and how early you’re starting the garden spruce up before you plan to sell.

Lush hanging pots of flowers or some attractive tall planters filled with a variety of flowers and decorative grasses are always a nice touch too, and they’ll keep the focus on your entryway.

It goes without saying that you should ensure any patches of damaged lawn are reseeded as one of the first steps prior to selling. It will take a while for the grass to catch up to the rest of your lawn, but it will make a huge difference. A sad or patchy lawn plants a negative seed in potential buyers’ minds, making them wonder, “If they haven’t taken care of this, what else has been neglected?” 

Try not to let that thought take hold. Your real estate agent may have other tips for selling your house that relate to the garden and exterior. Listen to them and do as much as you can. It will make a difference in the number and quality of offers you receive and the number of days your house is on the market.

This post first appeared on https://www.bhgre.com/bhgrelife/how-to-spruce-up-your-garden-before-selling/.

You’ll be moving in the right direction with Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate - The Milestone Team.

What is a Seller's Market?

Unless you live in a cave, you’ve probably heard multiple times it’s a sellers’ market and a great time to sell. So what does this really mean? Historically a balanced market has a 6-month supply of homes for sale in which there are enough homes available for active buyers. The most recent report (February) from The National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows the US inventory at just a 2-month supply. NH had less than a month’s supply and new listings were down 23% YTD thru Feb. compared to 2020. As a result of this increased competition, properties sell quickly and for much higher prices than we would typically see in a more normal market. Sellers are in prime position to best negotiate price and terms favorable to them. The median sales price in NH (thru 2/2021) was $350,000, up almost 23% for the same months last year. I have been in real estate here for 21 years and have never seen a market like the one we are experiencing. Will it last? Well my crystal ball says probably not. Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, cautions of a possible slowdown in growth in the coming months as higher prices and rising mortgage rates cut into home affordability. Having said that, forecasters are predicting prices, on average, to appreciate almost 6% in 2021. If you are considering selling, contact me to find out why this is the ultimate time to be a seller!

Donna Forest ~ donna@donnaforest.com ~ 603-731-5151

You’ll be moving in the right direction with Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate - The Milestone Team.

Is This a Housing Bubble?

You might be wondering if the housing market will crash given the high demand, record prices, and bidding wars. The short answer is “there is no bubble.” It would be natural to assume the same thing is happening that led up to the economic crash in 2008. However, the influences are very different. Below are 3 reasons why you can still sleep at night.

  • The limited supply of homes for sale is driving up prices. It is simple economics of supply & demand. Inventory has been declining for years yet buyer interest is increasing.
  • Demand has risen as millennials, currently the largest generation in the US, are entering the housing market. Throw in historic low interest rates, the ability to work remotely, and rethinking of housing requirements due to COVID, and now the need exceeds supply.
  • Poor lending practices was a big contributor to the housing implosion. If you could breathe you got a loan. Also homeowners used the equity in their homes like an ATM machine and ended up owing more than what their house was worth.  As a result, foreclosures & short sales depreciated home values nationwide. Lending guidelines today are much stricter and refinancing over the last 3 years is 1/3 of what it was 3 years before the crash. 

Here is a quote in late January from Laurie Goodman, director of Urban Institute’s Housing Finance Policy Center, “I’m feeling very optimistic about the health of the US housing market.” Whether buying or selling, contact me to take advantage of today’s great market!

Donna Forest ~ donna@donnaforest.com ~  603-731-5151

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

Beware the Escalation Clause

In this market where multiple offers are common, buyers are pulling out all the stops to try and successfully compete. Some buyers are resorting to the use of an escalation clause. This works by offering the seller $1000 (for example) more than the highest bid the seller receives from other buyers. The clause may contain a cap to limit the buyer’s price exposure.  Below are just some of the reasons why this is not a good idea.

  • An accepted offer with an escalation clause may not be an enforceable contract since it does not contain definite terms. Potentially either buyer or seller could later change their mind and claim no legal contract was formed.
  • If the escalation clause contains a cap, it basically tells the seller the top price this buyer is willing to pay. A smart seller could reject all offers and counter back to every buyer with a request for new offers not less than the cap.  
  • Escalation clauses create exposure for buyers since they don’t know what they will actually be paying for the property. Will they qualify? Will the house appraise? 
  • What if several offers come in with an escalation clause? Who wins the bid? 
  • If a legal escalation clause were to be written by an attorney, it would probably be a page long of legalese in order to protect the buyers. Not exactly enticing to a seller.

There are many ways to write a compelling offer without an escalation clause. Whether selling or buying, contact me if you want to effectively navigate this complex market. 603-731-5151; donna@donnaforest.com

You’ll be moving in the right direction with Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate - The Milestone Team.