Down Payments Across the U.S.

A majority of buyers finance their home purchase with a down payment of 6 percent or less. How much does that actually amount to?

Here is what a 6 percent down payment looks like in 5 major U.S. housing markets.

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Instant Reaction: S&P/Case-Shiller September Home Prices

The following is NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun’s reaction to this morning’s S&P/Case-Shiller release on September home prices:

“Home prices, after multiple years of fast growth, still show no signs of cooling because of the ongoing housing shortage in much of the country. The latest Case-Shiller price growth of 6.2% on a nationwide basis marks the strongest rise in over three years. This fast appreciation over income growth is not sustainable over many years. 

Housing demand is clearly rising from the improving labor market, but supply is still not kicking higher. Homes for sale are quickly going under contract, and overall existing inventory has fallen for 29 consecutive months (on a year-over-year basis). Either demand will chocked off from weakening affordability, or more robust construction needs to take place to calm home prices. The latter is the much preferred outcome, and would be a win for homebuyers, a win for homebuilders and win for faster economic growth.”   

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Smarten Up Your Showings With Smart Home Technology

By Christy Matte, guest contributor

StyledStagedSold_imageSmart homes with security and automation features are becoming a hot trend, and they can be an exciting way to dazzle prospective home buyers (and up your staging efforts to a high-tech level at the same time). But if buyers have never experienced an automated home environment, rattling off a list of features could be meaningless at best, and confusing at worst. Here are some fun ways to show a home with smart features, so the buyers will be wowed and you can clinch the sale.

Know What It Is and How It Works

It should go without saying, but make sure you can control the features like a security system, smart locks, or smart lighting, before trying to introduce them to buyers. Ask the homeowner for tips, test them out, and be ready for the big show.

Get the Apps

Ask the seller for access to the associated apps for the various systems. Even better, convince the sellers to tie all smart home technology into one convenient smart hub. It’s an easy task with the help of their Internet service provider. Install one app on one device so prospective buyers can try them out.

Educate Buyers on the Benefits

Make a one-page list of the features, specifically showing how they can save time and money, while also providing increased security.

Go Beyond the Basics

Most people have a basic understanding of a traditional home security system. Show them how this particular system can go even further. Can it send them a text message for smoke detection or a water leak? Can you open the smart lock with your own designated code? Show buyers how much flexibility is available. Security systems aren’t just for protecting against theft anymore.

Have Fun!

Use motion detectors to trigger mood lighting and automated music as buyers move through the home. Let them set off the sprinkler system (after touring the yard, of course) with a swipe of the app. Teach them voice commands to trigger the home’s other functions.

With the right planning, you can turn your everyday showing into something truly special and extremely smart.

Christy Matte HeadshotABOUT THE AUTHOR: Christy Matte is a Boston-based writer who covers home security for XFINITY Home. She is also a die-hard techie who blogs at QuirkyFusion.com. 

 

 

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Black Friday Deals on Smart Home Gadgets

The ultimate day of shopping is almost upon us. Black Friday deals have already been announced all over the internet, and Cyber Monday isn’t far behind. But how can homeowners benefit from these deals? Well, many of the discounts this year are on smart home devices. Tech is taking over today’s household—connecting phones, lighting, thermostats […]

The post Black Friday Deals on Smart Home Gadgets appeared first on RISMedia’s Housecall.

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Thanksgiving: Food and Real Estate

It’s almost that time of year, where we sit down with friends and family to eat way too much food and reflect on what we are most thankful for this past year.

Here are a few facts about Thanksgiving and the real estate market from the National Association of REALTORS®.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

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Instant Reaction: October Housing Starts

The following is NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun’s reaction to this morning’s U.S. Commerce Department report on residential construction in October:

“The South region is quickly getting back on its feet with a big jump in new housing starts, after a pause in the prior month from the aftermath of the hurricanes. The Midwest and the Northeast regions also made gains. Only the West region, the very region that is most in need of new supply, experienced fewer housing starts.

Overall, the total activity for the country is moving in the right path. More supply will boost future home sales. The West region, however, could experience slowing job growth as affordability conditions worsen from the ongoing inventory shortages that are driving up prices. This could ultimately force residents and potential job seekers to start looking to other parts of the country.” 

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The Anatomy of a First-time Buyer in 2017

Prospective first-time buyers in recent years have had to navigate several obstacles on their path to homeownership, including higher rents and home prices, tight inventory conditions and repaying student loan debt.

These impediments are a big reason why first-timers were only 34 percent of all transactions in the National Association of Realtors®’ 2017 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, which is far below the long-term historical average of 39 percent since the survey debuted in 1981.

Amidst these ongoing supply and affordability challenges, here is the typical makeup of a successful first-time buyer:

  • Age – 32 years old
  • Household income – $75,000
  • Cost of home purchased – $190,000
  • Down payment amount – 5 percent
  • Student loan debt – $29,000
  • Type and location of home purchased – Single-family home in a suburban area

NAR HBS First-time Buyers

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First Whole Foods, Now IKEA: What Latest Amazon News Means for Homeowners

Over the course of Oct. 26, Amazon’s stock price rose dramatically. In the morning, it was valued at $972 a share, and by the end of the day, it had skyrocketed to just over $1,100. This soar in price—more than 7 percent in after hours trading—was no coincidence. Earlier in the day, Amazon released its […]

The post First Whole Foods, Now IKEA: What Latest Amazon News Means for Homeowners appeared first on RISMedia’s Housecall.

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Damage-Free Decorating Ideas for Your Home

By Brentnie Daggett Decorating and organizing your home with damage-free techniques is something we all can get behind. If you are a renter, you want to ensure you don’t damage your rental space and risk losing your security deposit. As a homeowner, it’s always better to preserve the integrity of your space, although you have […]

The post Damage-Free Decorating Ideas for Your Home appeared first on RISMedia’s Housecall.

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View the Possibilities With Virtual Staging

By Brian Balduf, VHT Studios

Appealing to home buyers is all about making that emotional connection. Smart marketers know emotions trump other factors, especially when you hear buyers say the listing “just feels right.” They may be searching for a new house, but they’re envisioning their next home.

Buyers’ emotional experience while home shopping is heightened even more by stunning real estate photography that is the attention-grabber in the age of Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and Houzz.

Breathtaking photographs and video stir buyers’ emotions and imaginations and prompt dreams about how they’ll live in that home.

New virtual staging tools go even one step further. Virtual staging makes a listing stand out and allows buyers to visualize their dreams – not only in their minds – but on their monitors or mobile devices.

When marketing to those buyers, virtual staging allows real estate professionals to present the rooms of a listing in many styles and functions, enabling agents to reach the widest audience possible by appealing to myriad tastes and lifestyle needs.

Virtual Staging blows up the current one-size-fits-all listing model and gives real estate pros far greater flexibility in customizing a listing to the desires and expectations of their perceived audiences.

It starts with high quality photographs, the standard for showing how a home is currently furnished and decorated today for its current owner.  Virtual staging tools inserted into or enhancing those photographs amp up the features of a listing and showcase why each room is a great space and how it can be used, whether the prospective owner is a workout enthusiast, a craft hobbyist, or a new parent.

Also, virtual staging eliminates the expense of renting furnishings or hiring traditional stagers, while allowing buyers to mentally prepare how they can live in their prospective home.

Virtual staging helps buyers look beyond the stark, off-putting appearance of a vacant room. It also presents decorating options that enhance, for instance, a living room containing worn carpeting and outdated furniture that could leave a bad impression.

Virtual staging presents a property’s potential and can attract and interest different audiences with a variety of lifestyles.

See for yourself how virtual staging was used successfully by Robert Pribyl and Bernadette Ray, with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices KoenigRubloff Realty Group in Chicago. Robert says they took advantage of virtual staging’s flexibility for a vacant and fully remodeled 130-year old house in the trendy Logan Square neighborhood.

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Virtually staged by VHT Studios

“This neighborhood is very hot. It’s become a magnet for millennials and high-net worth investors, so we needed to showcase how single professionals or families with different needs might live in the home,” Pribyl says. “I like the modern furniture that buyers see in the living room – it fits the style of the buyers I’m trying to attract. The home looks more appealing to buyers when they can see select rooms that are furnished.

They used virtual staging to showcase how a bedroom might appeal, for instance, to a young couple with a newborn. They also transformed that same vacant bedroom into an office and an exercise room for a young entrepreneur or a workout enthusiast.

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Virtually staged by VHT Studios

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Virtually staged by VHT Studios

In the finished basement, virtual staging allowed the duo to show the space’s potential as a child’s playroom and man-cave for TV sports fans and game lovers.

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Virtually staged by VHT Studios

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Virtually staged by VHT Studios

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Virtually staged by VHT Studios

In just four weeks after installing virtual photographs, they received multiple offers on the listing, and as of this writing, they were in negotiations with potential buyers.

Virtual staging opens many real estate marketing options which up until now have been impossible to deploy. There are now unlimited ways to present a room’s functions or decor through virtual tools.

Real estate professionals are also applying flexibility to how they use virtually staged photographs. In addition to websites, advertising and brochures, agents are using enlarged virtually staged photographs that depict multiple room functions and placing them on easels in each room of their listings. This allows buyers to instantly recall the virtually staged home they viewed online, as well as to envision the many possibilities.

Also, consider these other virtual tools that can solve common headaches that real estate professionals have had to work through over the years:

  • Virtual paint is helpful when walls need a fresh coat of paint or when dated wallpaper needs a makeover.
  • Virtual declutter removes mementos and personal effects that may be cherished by the owner but are distractions to buyers.
  • And virtual twilight wows buyers and with warm, romantic, and welcoming exterior views that appeared to be photographed at dusk.

Here’s another example of a virtually staged living space at a listing in Rosemont, Ill. See how the space has been configured to appeal to different style preferences.

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Virtually staged by VHT Studios

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Virtually staged by VHT Studios

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Virtually staged by VHT Studios

Don’t Try This at Home!

Some digital photography pros may be tempted to hire a Photoshop hobbyist to digitally alter photos with virtual enhancements. Having great Photoshop skills doesn’t guarantee beautiful virtual staging.

Installing a virtual couch into a photograph and hitting “Sharpen My Image” may do more harm than good to a vacant room.  Often the end result looks like the old Colorforms stickers we played with as kids.

Experienced virtual stagers are studio and image specialists who have composition skills in real estate photography and know how to blend multiple exposures in which lighting, window views, and details are merged to create the final composite photography.

They also understand perspective, shadows, and size in relation to room dimensions.

We advocate trusting your visual marketing to a pro, just as real estate brokers advocate to their clients.

The newest visual marketing tools are proof that real estate marketing is no longer a one-size-fits-all proposition. Smart professionals are adopting these tools to reach a much wider audience, to make a greater first impression on potential buyers, and sell homes faster and at the best price.

Brian BaldufABOUT THE AUTHOR: Brian Balduf, CEO, chairman and co-founder of VHT Studios, has built the Rosemont, Ill.-based firm into the nation’s largest real estate photography and image management services company. Since he co-founded the company in 1998, VHT Studios has helped more than 200,000 real estate professionals sell more than $200 billion in properties through its nationwide network of hundreds of photographers and image specialists. Delivering to real estate professionals their most powerful selling tools – high quality photography and video – Balduf has worked to ensure their properties get seen more, sell faster and at the highest price. For more information, visit VHT.com, The VHT Studios Blog or find us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.

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