Ways To Use Your Tax Refund If You Want To Buy a Home

Have you been saving up to buy a home this year? If so, you know there are a number of expenses involved – from your down payment to closing costs. But did you also know your tax refund can help you pay for some of these expenses? As Credit Karma explains:

“If one of your goals is to stop renting and buy a home, you’ll need to save up for closing costs and a down payment on the mortgage. A tax refund can give you a start on the road to homeownership. If you’ve already started to save, your tax refund could move you down the road faster.”

While how much money you may get in a tax refund is going to vary, it can be encouraging to have a general idea of what’s possible. Here’s what CNET has to say about the average increase people are seeing this year:

The average refund size is up by 6.1%, from $2,903 for 2023’s tax season through March 24, to $3,081 for this season through March 22.”

Sounds great, right? Remember, your number is going to be different. But if you do get a refund, here are a few examples of how you can use it when buying a home. According to Freddie Mac:

  • Saving for a down payment – One of the biggest barriers to homeownership is setting aside enough money for a down payment. You could reach your savings goal even faster by using your tax refund to help.
  • Paying for closing costs – Closing costs cover some of the payments you’ll make at closing. They’re generally between 2% and 5% of the total purchase price of the home. You could direct your tax refund toward these closing costs.
  • Lowering your mortgage rate – Your lender might give you the option to buy down your mortgage rate. If affordability is tight for you at today’s rates and home prices, this option may be worth exploring. If you qualify for this option, you could pay upfront to have a lower rate on your mortgage.

The best way to get ready to buy a home is to work with a team of trusted real estate professionals who understand the process and what you’ll need to do to be ready to buy.

Bottom Line

Your tax refund can help you reach your savings goal for buying a home. Let’s talk about what you’re looking for, because your home may be more within reach than you think.

4 Tips To Make Your Strongest Offer on a Home

4 Tips To Make Your Strongest Offer on a Home

Are you thinking about buying a home soon? If so, you should know today’s market is competitive in many areas because the number of homes for sale is still low – and that’s leading to multiple-offer scenarios. And moving into the peak homebuying season this spring, this is only expected to ramp up more.

Remember these four tips to make your best offer.

1. Partner with a Real Estate Agent

Rely on a real estate agent who can support your goals. As PODS notes:

“Making an offer on a home without an agent is certainly possible, but having a pro by your side gives you a massive advantage in figuring out what to offer on a house.”

Agents are local market experts. They know what’s worked for other buyers in your area and what sellers may be looking for. That advice can be game changing when you’re deciding what offer to bring to the table.

2. Understand Your Budget

Knowing your numbers is even more important right now. The best way to understand your budget is to work with a lender so you can get pre-approved for a home loan. Doing so helps you be more financially confident and shows sellers you’re serious. That gives you a competitive edge. As Investopedia says:

“. . . sellers have an advantage because of intense buyer demand and a limited number of homes for sale; they may be less likely to consider offers without pre-approval letters.”

3. Make a Strong, but Fair Offer

It’s only natural to want the best deal you can get on a home, especially when affordability is tight. However, submitting an offer that’s too low does have some risks. You don’t want to make an offer that’ll be tossed out as soon as it’s received just to see if it sticks. As Realtor.com explains:

“. . . an offer price that’s significantly lower than the listing price, is often rejected by sellers who feel insulted . . . Most listing agents try to get their sellers to at least enter negotiations with buyers, to counteroffer with a number a little closer to the list price. However, if a seller is offended by a buyer or isn’t taking the buyer seriously, there’s not much you, or the real estate agent, can do.”

The expertise your agent brings to this part of the process will help you stay competitive and find a price that’s fair to you and the seller.

4. Trust Your Agent During Negotiations

After you submit your offer, the seller may decide to counter it. When negotiating, it’s smart to understand what matters to the seller. Once you do, being as flexible as you can on things like moving dates or the condition of the house can make your offer more attractive.

Your real estate agent is your partner in navigating these details. Trust them to lead you through negotiations and help you figure out the best plan. As an article from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) explains:

“There are many factors up for discussion in any real estate transaction—from price to repairs to possession date. A real estate professional who’s representing you will look at the transaction from your perspective, helping you negotiate a purchase agreement that meets your needs . . .” 

Bottom Line

In today’s competitive market, let’s work together to find you a home you love and craft a strong offer that stands out. 

Why You May Want to Seriously Consider a Newly Built Home

Why You May Want To Seriously Consider a Newly Built Home

Are you putting off your plans to sell because you’re worried you won’t be able to find a home you like when you move? If so, it may be time to consider a newly built home and the benefits that come with one. Here’s why.

Near-Record Percentage of New Home Inventory

Newly built homes are becoming an increasingly significant part of today’s housing inventory. According to the most recent report from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB):

Newly built homes available for sale accounted for 31% of total homes available for sale in November, compared to an approximate 12% historical average.”

That means the percentage of the total homes available to buy that are newly built is well over two times higher than the norm. And even more new homes are on the way.

Recent data from the Census shows there’s been an uptick in both housing starts (where builders break ground on more new homes) and housing completions (homes where construction just wrapped).

And while some people may worry builders are building too many homes, that isn’t a concern – if anything, the recent increase is really good news. As Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at the National Association of Realtors (NAR), explains:

“Even more home building will be needed with the housing shortage persisting in most markets . . . Another 30% rise in home construction can easily be absorbed in the marketplace . . .”

How This Helps You 

Since the supply of existing homes for sale is still low right now, the increase of new-home construction can be a game changer because it gives you more options for your search.

Picture yourself in a home that’s new from the ground up: new appliances, fresh paint, fewer maintenance needs because everything is new, and so much more. Doesn’t that sound nice?

And it may be more within reach than you ever imagined. In addition, some builders are offering things like mortgage rate buy-downs for homebuyers right now. This can help offset today’s affordability challenges while also getting you into your dream home. In a recent article, Patrick Duffy, Senior Real Estate Economist at U.S. News, explains:

“Builders have been using mortgage interest rate buydowns for many years as a sales incentive whenever interest rates are relatively high, . . .Today more builders are offering rate buydowns for the entirety of the loan, allowing buyers to finance more home for the same payment amount.”

Just remember, the process of buying from a builder is different from buying from a home seller, so it’s important to partner with a trusted real estate agent who knows the local market. They’ll be your go-to resource for coordinating with the builder, reviewing contracts, and more.

Bottom Line

If you’re trying to sell so you can make a move but you’re having a hard time finding a home you like, let’s connect. That way you have a local expert to help you explore all of your options, including the newly built homes in our area.

3 Keys To Hitting Your Homeownership Goals in 2024

3 Keys To Hitting Your Homeownership Goals in 2024

If buying or selling a home is your goal for 2024, it’s important to understand today’s housing market, know your why, and work with industry experts to bring your homeownership vision for the new year into focus.

Over the last year, the economy had a big impact on the housing market, and likely on your wallet too. That’s why it’s critical to have a clear picture of not just the market today, but also on what you want out of it when you buy or sell a home. Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at Realtor.comexplains:

The key to making a good decision in this challenging housing market is to be laser focused on what you need now and in the years ahead, so that you can stay in your home long enough that buying is a sound financial decision.

Here are a few things to think through as you define your goals for 2024.

1. Know Your Why

You’re dreaming about making a move for a reason – what is it? No matter what’s happening in the market, there are still many compelling reasons to buy a home today. Your needs may have changed in a way your current house can’t address, or you could be ready to step into homeownership for the first time. Use your why and your motivation as a guidepost in partnership with an expert advisor to make sure your move gives you a lasting sense of accomplishment.

2. Figure Out What Your Next Home Needs To Look Like

You know you want to move, but how would you describe your dream home? The number of homes for sale has grown recently, and that could mean more options to choose from when you buy. But overall housing supply is still lower than more normal years in the market, so you’ll have to work closely with a pro to find what you’re looking for. Just be sure to keep your budget in mind as you balance your wants and needs. The better you understand what’s essential and where you can be flexible, the easier it will be to find a home that’s right for you.

3. Determine if You’re Ready To Buy

Getting clear on your budget and available savings is essential before you get too far into the process. Partnering with a local agent and a lender early is the best way to make sure you’re in a good position to buy. This could include planning how much to save for a down payment, getting pre-approved for a home loan, and assessing your current home equity if you’re selling your existing house.

A Professional Will Guide You Through Every Step of the Process

Buying or selling a home takes expertise to navigate. If that feels a bit overwhelming, that’s normal. Don’t let uncertainty hold you back from your goals this year. A trusted expert will help you bridge that gap and give you the facts and advice you need about today’s housing market.

Bottom Line

Let’s connect to plan how to make your homeownership dreams a reality in 2024.

What You Need To Know About Down Payments

What You Need To Know About Down Payments [INFOGRAPHIC]

Some Highlights

  • If you want to buy a home, you may not need as much for your down payment as you think.
  • There are various loan options for qualified buyers with down payments as low as 3.5% or even no down payment requirement. There are also thousands of programs available to help homebuyers with their down payments.
  • With the right resources, your down payment may be more within reach than you realize. To learn more about your options, let’s connect.

Where Are People Moving Today and Why?

Where Are People Moving Today and Why?

Plenty of people are still moving these days. And if you’re thinking of making a move yourself, you may be considering the inventory and affordability challenges in the housing market and wondering what you can do to help offset those. A new report from Gravy Analytics provides insight into where people are searching for homes and what they’re prioritizing most right now. That information could help you plan your own move.

1. People Are Moving to Cities with Lower Housing Costs

One big factor motivating where buyers are going is affordability and that’s no big surprise. People are relocating to areas that have less expensive housing options. As a result, small cities are thriving. Hannah Jones, Economics Data Analyst at Realtor.comsummarizes why:

“Affordability is still very much front and center . . . a lot of what’s available is outside of the price range of many buyers. . . . so they look elsewhere for a little more bang for the buck.”

The takeaway for you? If you’re having trouble finding a home that fits your budget, it may help to browse other, more affordable locations nearby.

2. People Want to Live Where They Vacation

And, if you’re already expanding your search radius, you may be able to include a location that features your favorite type of destination, like a suburb near the beach or a mountain town. Data shows many other homeowners are making that type of move a priority today. According to the same report from Gravy Analytics:

“Whether it’s the opportunity to enjoy more weekend hikes in the mountains or to wake up to a lakeside sunrise, people are moving to areas that were once thought of as vacation spots.”

Even with today’s home prices and mortgage rates, here’s why a move like this could be possible for you. If you’re already a homeowner, the equity you’ll get when you sell your current house can help fuel that move and give you the down payment you’d need for your dream home.

3. People Who Work Remotely Are Taking Advantage of that Flexibility

Ongoing remote work is another major factor in where people are moving. A recent report from the McKinsey Global Institute says this about recent movement patterns:

“Many of these moves happened because employees untethered from their daily commutes began to care less about how far they lived from the office.”

If you’re a remote or hybrid worker, you don’t have to live in the same city, or sometimes even the same state, as your job. That means you can prioritize other things, like being closer to loved ones, when buying a home.

In fact, the same McKinsey Global Institute report notes for people who moved during the pandemic, 55% reported moving farther from the office. And since remote work is still a popular choice today, homebuyers will likely continue to take advantage of that flexibility.

Bottom Line

Lots of people are still moving today. If you want help navigating today’s inventory or affordability challenges, and expert advice to help you find your ideal home, let’s connect.