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What is My Home Worth?

Is Summer or Winter the Best Season to Buy a Home?

You hear it a lot - there are best and worst times to make any sort of purchase. Whether it's a television, a car, or a home, statistics are available that may influence your decision on when would be the best time to make a purchase. Numerical data isn't the only thing you should be taking into consideration, though. Each season has something different to offer in terms of making the home buying process easier or more challenging. Let's take a look at the pros and cons of buying during the summer or winter.

What to Think About When Buying a Home During the Summer

Did you know there are more homes on the market during summer? According to the National Association of Realtors, inventory in the U.S. is actually 15% greater in the warmer months than in the colder months. If you have a lot of items on your home wish list, you might be better off searching during summer as you'll have more homes from which to choose. The only disadvantage (depending on the climate where you live) is that summer results in more competition, as a greater amount of people are likely to visit open houses in nicer weather. It probably goes without saying, but moving during summer is a bit more pleasant than moving during winter. For many, sweating beats freezing while trying to pack and unpack a moving truck. You can always cool yourself down, but it's usually harder to warm up. It also tends to be safer if you reside in or are moving to an area that gets snow or ice. If you have school-aged children, moving during their summer vacation offers more flexibility than trying to move during the winter holidays or spring break. Lastly, one nice thing about summer is the lack of snow. That can be a huge obstacle when trying to look at the exterior of a home. You might miss the fact that a few shingles (or the entire roof) need to be replaced when there's a pile of snow on top of it. The same goes for cracks in the driveway, and curb appeal in general.

What to Think About When Buying a Home During the Winter

There's less competition in the winter as most people are busy with the holidays, their new year's resolutions, or getting back into the swing of things at work. At this time of the year, buying a home isn't typically at the forefront of most people's minds. What does that mean for you? No bidding wars, and more room to negotiate if a seller is feeling a bit desperate. They might be if the reason why they're moving is a pressing one. Combined with having to work around their real estate agent's holiday schedule, having less showings, and subsequently, less interested buyers, sellers might be willing to give you a better deal or include more bonuses in the offer. Again, depending on where you live, the weather during winter can be brutal. You'll be able to easily identify drafts from windows in a house, and you'll notice how effective the heating system is. While snow can work against you, it can also work for you as you'll be able to see how well the roof and driveway handle several inches of accumulation. Are there noticeable dips in the driveway? Have ice puddles formed on the property? These fairly major repairs can give you an advantage during negotiations.

Considerations for Both Seasons

There are a few factors to be concerned with during both seasons - namely, your real estate agent's availability, and your neighbors. Obviously, real estate agents may take time off during the holidays in the winter, but if they have children, they may also be likely to take off during the summer as well. Before you work with an agent, ask them about their availability over the next few months. You want to ensure that their planned absence won't negatively affect your intentions to buy. On the other hand, an agent looking to work through the winter holidays may be more motivated to help you, given the number of prospective buyers is lower. Additionally, when you buy a new home, you'll want to be surrounded by good neighbors, right? Summertime is great for seeing which neighbors excel at lawn maintenance and which ones let their grass grow for weeks on end. If you're someone that cares a lot about a home's upkeep, this might concern you. At the same time, you'll be able to see if neighbors work together to get rid of snow during the winter, or if houses on the block are nicely (or obnoxiously) lit up with holiday decorations.

Which Season is Better for Buying a Home?

As you may conclude, there's no right or wrong answer. There are benefits and impediments to searching for a home in any season. You shouldn't let weather or the trending numerical data hold you back. When you're ready to buy, you'll know it.

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How To Find a Great Real Estate Agent

Trying to buy or sell a home? One of the most critical decisions that you can make is choosing the right real estate agent. Your real estate agent is the staunch ally who stands by your side, advocating for you every step of the way. He or she can help you find your dream home and/or prepare your home for a quick and high-dollar sale. She'll negotiate on your behalf, tackling every topic from sales price to repairs and improvements to closing costs and other concessions. He'll help you navigate the murky waters of the inspection, appraisal, lending and closing processes. How can you find an agent who will make the buying and/or selling process as easy as possible? Here are a few tips.
  1. Ask Your Family and Friends for Referrals Get referrals from friends, relatives, neighbors and other acquaintances, advises the National Association of Realtors (NAR). After all, these are the people you go to regularly for all sorts of other recommendations, whether it's for a good doctor or a place to eat, you value and trust their experience and opinion. Start asking around. Put out feelers at family barbecues, while talking with the other parents at your kids' soccer game, even on Facebook. You never know which of your acquaintances might have a solid lead on a great real estate agent for you.
  2. Ask Agents About Their Experience Call a few agents and ask them about their experience - not just in sheer number of years that they've been on-the-job, but also in terms of what areas of specialty they cover. Do they primary work with owner-occupants or investors? Do they specialize in particular neighborhoods, districts or communities? Do they work with clients who might have particular or specialized needs? What supplemental certifications do they hold? Agents hold designations that reflect specialized training in areas like short sales, home staging, relocation and other topics. Ask potential agents what type of specific training or certifications they carry, in addition to their standard license.
  3. Contemplate Buyer or Seller Specialists Depending on whether you're buying or selling a home, you might want to work with either an Exclusive Buyer Specialist or an Exclusive Seller Specialist - designations that indicate that an agent holds a high degree of training and experience serving either buyers or sellers. However, there are pro's and con's to choosing an exclusive specialist. Some clients prefer to work with an agent who specializes on one side of the table. Other clients prefer to work with an agent who has experience on both sides, since the agent may benefit from that breadth of experience. Neither conclusion is 'wrong' or 'right.' Interview several agents and see who feels like the best fit.
  4. Check Out Their Online Presence Whether you're buying or selling, the Internet will play a crucial role in your process. According to NAR, 89 percent of home buyers use the Internet to search for properties. If you're a seller, this means your potential buyer will be scoping out your home online. If you're a buyer, this means that you'll be able to access plenty of listings on the web. How comfortable is your potential agent with effectively using the Internet? Do they have an attractive and modern website? Are they active on social media? How quickly do they reply to emails? You'll want to pick an agent who's comfortable navigating online listings, uploading photos, replying to emails and performing other web-based tasks.
  5. Ask for Referrals When you're talking to potential agents, ask for the names and phone numbers of at least three previous clients. Ideally, request contact information for clients who performed the same function (buying or selling) that you're trying to achieve. Call these prior clients and ask about their experience working with the agent. How responsive was the agent? How quickly did they purchase and/or sell a home, and how closely did the final sales price reflect their intended target price? Did the agent "go the extra mile" with small gestures? Don't rely solely on testimonials that may appear on the agent's website, but do search for the agent (or their brokerage) on Yelp to check out reviews.
  6. Look Up Their License The state real estate commission licenses every agent. Ask any potential agents for their license number, and use that number to look up the agent within the state's database, which you can access online. You'll see whether or not their license is in good standing, and you'll also see if there have been any disciplinary actions taken against that agent. Finally, look for an agent who you will get along with. You'll be spending a lot of time with this person, so make sure that you enjoy talking to and conducting business with your agent. A friendly, open and honest agent can make all the difference in the world - and can make your home buying or selling experience feel much smoother.

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Should You Buy Before You Sell?

Should You Buy a Home before You Sell Your Home?

If you're a homeowner looking to move, you're facing a common and vexing dilemma: should you buy another home before you sell your current one? Or should you sell your current home first? Both options hold distinct advantages and disadvantages. There's no "best" answer; each option contains trade-offs. Your personal circumstances and preference might be the deciding factor. Some homeowners enjoy holding onto their ability to live in their current home until they find a better alternative. Others don't want to make a financial commitment to a new home until their current home is sold, or - at the very least - under contract. Factors like whether a homeowner is moving locally vs. out-of-state, whether or not the homeowner has children in a particular school district, and the homeowner's down payment funding also play a crucial role in the decision. Let's take a more in-depth look at the advantages to both options, so you can make the choice that's right for you.

Advantages to Selling Your Home First

Down Payment - The most obvious advantage to selling your current home first is that you'll cash out the equity in your current house. You can use this money as the down payment on your next home. This is one of the most common reasons for selling first. No Contingency - Many buyer's agents will write offers with a "home sale contingency" - meaning the offer is contingent on the buyer selling their current home within an allotted timeframe (in order to free up the down payment funds). If you can avoid writing this contingency by selling first, you'll make a stronger offer -- which could be a trump card in a competitive market. In other words, selling first might help you land your dream home. Predictable Mortgage Payments - By selling first, you remove the possibility of needing to make two mortgage payments simultaneously. In fact, if you're able to live with friends or family during the short-term gap between selling and buying, you may be able to pocket a few months' worth of housing payments. This can help you build cash reserves to cover moving expenses, closing costs, utility deposits and other expenses. Note: If you need to rent during this gap, you may still need to make rent and mortgage payments simultaneously (depending on your lease terms). Greater Focus If the idea of selling and buying simultaneously overwhelms you, you may find peace-of-mind in focusing on one step at a time. By selling first, you can concentrate on improving and staging your property to make it show-ready, and stay in your home while you patiently wait for the best offer.

Advantages to Buying a New Home before Selling Your Old Home

YOMO - You Only Move Once. If you sell your home first, you'll need to move twice - first to temporary accommodations and later to your new home. This doubles the hassle, and results in the process (from start to finish) dragging out longer. By contrast, buying first ensures that you'll only need to move your belongings once, and you won't need to bother finding a storage unit or finding a month-to-month rental. Shopping Time. If you buy first, you give yourself ample time to shop around for a home you truly love. You won't feel pressured to close on another home quickly just because your short-term lease is about to expire, you're tired of staying on your sister's couch, or the school year is about to start. If you're in a competitive housing market in which you might need to make offers on multiple properties, enjoying the luxury of time can be particularly valuable.

How to Cover the Down Payment if You Buy First

If you'd like to buy first (before selling your current home), but you're worried about the down payment, you have a few options: You may be eligible for a 'bridge loan' to cover the down payment. Short-term bridge loans, offered by financial institutions, are designed to cover the gap between when you buy your next home and sell your current one, and available to people with significant equity and great credit. Alternately, you might also be able to borrow a home equity line of credit on your current home, which you can use for the down payment. One caveat: you'd need enough income to cover three mortgages - your current one, your next one, plus the home equity line of credit. You're more likely to be able to exercise this option if you own your home free-and-clear or if your mortgage payments and other debts are far lower than your income. Finally, you can tap family and friends as a resource, asking for a short-term loan that you'll guarantee with a promissory note. However, note that some institutional lenders won't issue mortgages to people who procured a down payment through outside means, so check with your lender to see if this is allowed.

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How Home Sellers Have Changed over the Past Decade

Today's home seller is notably different than the seller of 10 years ago. The recession not only changed the housing market, but it also changed the way home sellers approach the sale of their home. The Steamboat Sotheby’s International Realty Seller Survey looks at approximately 1,500 home sellers and analyzes trends from before and through the recession, as well as the initial recovery years and today:
  • 2014-2015 - Recent Years (Sellers Today)
  • 2010-2013 - Initial Recovery Years
  • 2008-2009 - Recession
  • 2006-2007 - Pre-Recession
  • 2005 and Earlier
How Selling a Home Has Changed Over the Years
Since 2014, more than one in four home sellers sold their home in less than two weeks after putting it on the market. Seller Survey Data Sheet1

Compared to the initial recovery years, more of today's sellers are receiving multiple offers.

Seller Survey Data Sheet2

The percentage of home sellers receiving offers above their asking price dipped during the recession, but has now bounced back to pre-recession levels.

Seller Survey Data Sheet3

During the recession and initial recovery years, significantly more sellers took the first offer on their home than are doing so today.

Seller Survey Data Sheet4

Today's sellers are nearly twice as likely to choose an offer based on emotion rather than money alone, compared to pre-recession years.

Seller Survey Data Sheet5 Methodology This survey was conducted online within the United States between April 27-29 & April 28-30, 2015 among 4,023 adults (aged 18 and over) among whom 1,545 are selling/ever sold a home by Harris Poll on behalf of the Steamboat Sotheby’s International Realty brand via its Quick Query omnibus product. Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online. All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, the words "margin of error" are avoided as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal. Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in our surveys. The data has been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in our panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

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7 Tips for Home Improvement from

While improving one's lifestyle is a fundamental reason for a home renovation, homeowners should also be aware that with proper research, planning and thoughtfulness, home improvements can ultimately raise the value of a property investment. The professionals at Steamboat Sotheby’s International Realty have identified several things homeowners should consider before home renovations begin. Think Long-Term Home Improvement: Remodeling Magazine reported that money spent on a kitchen remodel produces the highest return on investment. Bathroom renovations and adding additional rooms such as guest bedrooms or studies also traditionally score well. Homeowners should consult with a local real estate sales associate to determine if their plans will positively influence the resale value. A sales associate may be able to offer suggestions on renovations that will provide a significant return on investment. Healthy Balance: While homeowners should consider a home's future value when making renovations, changes that enhance their lifestyle should also come into play. More size, better layout and contemporary looks can help a family find more pride in their home and increase the home's overall value. Life-altering milestones - like having children, having extended family move in and work-at-home-jobs - provide good cause to renovate. Seek Out Referrals: Once committed to the process, hiring the right home improvement contractor is critical. A great way to choose a contractor is to contact salespeople at stores where contractors buy their supplies, such as lumberyards, window stores, cabinet shops and hardware stores. It is also a good idea to speak with friends, family and neighbors that have been through the process before, as well as check the Web sites of local community associations. Obtain Multiple Bids: Always get at least three estimates on a project. Contractors can bid on the same project using different prices and timeframes. Check that all the bids are based on the same scope and quality of work, which is the only way to do a fair and effective comparison. Interview Your Home Improvement Contractors: It is important for the homeowner to talk about a contractor's style and process. A strong rapport and close communication with the contractor will increase the likelihood of the project going smoothly. If, for example, the homeowner will want to know every detail during the project, they probably will not be content with a contractor that provides little information during the interview. It is also important to verify that the contractor has a license and insurance certificate. Most states require a contractor to carry worker's compensation, property damage and personal liability insurance. Follow up on References and Verify the Contractor's License: Be sure to check the contractor's credentials. Ask how many similar jobs the contractor has completed, how much experience they have, whether they guarantee their work and who will be in charge of the project. Reputable contractors typically supply names and phone numbers of recent references. It is worth calling a minimum of three people to verify the contractor's credentials. There are several good questions to ask: Did the reference pay a fair price, was the work done properly and would the reference hire the contractor again? Did the contractor show up every day and finish the project when expected? Contact Local Consumer Protection Agencies: Call the local or state consumer protection agency and the Better Business Bureau to check if there have been any unresolved complaints registered against the contractor. Also contact the state's contractor licensing agency and local building inspectors to confirm that the contractor has a clean record.

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The Value of a Home Inspection

Buying a house is probably the single largest investment you'll ever make, and you want to ensure you get the best value for your hard-earned dollar. That's why more and more home buyers today are turning to professional Home Inspection experts. A professional Home Inspector takes a close look beneath a house's surface, and then prepares a detailed written report for the prospective buyer on such things as the condition of the foundation, electrical service, roof, insulation, and other critical structural factors. Your Steamboat Sotheby’s International Realty real estate agent can help you connect with an experienced trusted Home Inspection service in your community. Although costs will vary, you can probably expect to spend two to three hundred dollars for an inspection of a single family home. And who pays for it? Well, since the benefit is almost entirely that of the home buyer, it's usually the buyer who pays the cost of the home inspection ...particularly in a "hot" real estate market, where the home sellers have more leverage. All things considered, it's a small price to pay for the peace of mind it provides, and the negotiating power it can give you -- especially if it indicates that there are major repairs required, but you decide to make an offer anyway. When it comes to making your offer to purchase, your Steamboat Sotheby’s International Realty professional can provide you with good advice on how to allow for a home inspection as a part of this process. Subject to the homeowner's permission, you can commission a Home Inspection before or even after submitting your offer to purchase. This is done by having your Steamboat Sotheby’s International Realty salesperson prepare a conditional offer that's contingent on a Home Inspection report that's acceptable to you. This approach gives you some distinct advantages: if the conditional offer is accepted, the property is temporarily held against other offers, yet you still have a legal escape route if the report turns up some major negative surprises, such as a bad roof or a crumbling foundation. On the other hand, if the conditional offer isn't accepted, then the need to pay for a home inspection may never arise. Your Steamboat Sotheby’s International Realty professional can counsel you on the best approach to suit your market and your individual situation.

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What is My Home Worth? was last modified: March 31st, 2017 by AgentImage