Northwest Florida Real Estate and Community News

April 2, 2020

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 people who 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.

Minimalistic spacious house interior with two floors
Minimalistic spacious house interior with two floors

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.

Built in closet with warderobe in home interior
Built in closet with warderobe in home interior

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.

white and steel kitchen interior

5. Maximize kitchen counter space

Yes, it’s a pain. But even though your family uses the toaster and blender every day, 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’re going 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.

Posted in Selling Your Home
April 1, 2020

The #1 Thing You Can Do Now to Position Yourself to Buy a Home This Year

The last few weeks and months have caused a major health crisis throughout the world, leading to a pause in the U.S. economy as businesses and consumers work to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The rapid spread of the virus has been compared to prior pandemics and outbreaks not seen in many years. It also has consumers remembering the economic slowdown of 2008 that was caused by a housing crash.

One thing the experts are saying is that while we’ll see a swift decline in economic activity in the second quarter, we’ll begin a sharp rebound in the second half of this year. According to John Burns Consulting:

 

“Historical analysis showed us that pandemics are usually V-shaped (sharp recessions that recover quickly enough to provide little damage to home prices), and some very cutting-edge search engine analysis by our Information Management team showed the current slowdown is playing out similarly thus far.” 

Given this situation, if you’re thinking about buying a home this year, the best thing you can do right now is use this time to get pre-approved for a mortgage, which you can do from the comfort of your home. Pre-approval will help you better understand how much you can afford so that you can confidently do the following two things when you’re ready to buy:

1. Gain a Competitive Advantage

Today’s low inventory, like we’ve seen recently and will continue to see, means homebuyers need every advantage they can get to make a strong offer and close the deal. Being pre-approved shows the sellers you’re serious about buying a home, which is always a plus in your corner.

2. Accelerate the Homebuying Process

Pre-approval can also speed-up the homebuying process so you can move faster when you’re ready to make an offer. Being ready to put your best foot forward when the time comes may be the leg-up you need to cross the finish line first and land the home of your dreams.

Bottom Line

Pre-approval is the best thing you can do right now to be in a stronger position to buy a home when you’re ready. Connect with a local real estate professional today to get the process started.

 

Content provided by Keeping Current Matters

March 17, 2020

BETTER HOMES AND GARDENS REAL ESTATE MAIN STREET PROPERTY REALTOR PAMELA CREWS RECEIVES SILVER AWARD FOR DISTINGUISHED PERFORMANCE IN BRAND’S GLOBAL NETWORK

It is with honor that I share the news that I have received an esteemed Better Homes and Gardens® Real Estate Silver Award.

This distinction recognizes my performance as a real estate professional in the top 15 percent of the Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate brand and my commitment to my clients. I am honored to have been chosen as your Realtor in 2019 and thankful for the opportunity to have served you!

 

 

If you are ready to put your real estate goals in CREWS CONTROL please give me a call at 417 576-4787.  I am full time agent and always happy to answer any real estate questions you may have.  

 

Pamela Crews, Realtor®

Florida Military Specialist

Military Relocation Professional

U.S. Navy (retired)

 

Posted in Real Estate News
March 10, 2020

How Interest Rates Impact Monthly Housing Payments

Spring is right around the corner, so flowers are starting to bloom, and many potential home buyers are getting ready to step into the market. If you’re thinking of buying this season, here’s how mortgage interest rates are working in your favor.

To put this in perspective, the following chart shows how average mortgage rates by decades have impacted the approximate monthly payment of a $200,000 home over time:

Clearly, when rates are low – like they are today – qualified buyers can benefit significantly over time.  Keep in mind, if interest rates go up, this can push many potential home buyers out of the market.

You certainly don’t want to be priced out of the market this year, and waiting may mean a significant change in your potential mortgage payment should rates start to rise. If your financial situation allows, now may be a great time to lock in at a low mortgage rate to benefit greatly over the lifetime of your loan.

If I can help you with your real estate goals, please give me a call today!  I am always happy to answer any real estate questions you may have.  

Posted in Buying a Home
March 2, 2020

What are the benefits of a VA Loan?

The VA home loan program has serviced over 24 million home loans for veterans and active service members since its creation in 1944, part of the original Servicemen's Readjustment's Act, better known as the GI Bill of Rights. 

A VA mortgage loan is a great option for a first time home buyers or repeat buyers that may have a lower income and/or a limited amount of money to put down.

Some of the benefits that can get you into the home of your dreams include:

·         No down payment

·         Higher debt-to-income (DTI) ratios are allowed

·         FICO scores as low at 600

·         No private mortgage insurance (PMI) required

·         Limited closing costs (sellers can pay up to 4% in buyer’s concessions)

·         Lower average interest rates than other loan types.  VA loans continue to have the lowest average interest rates of all loan types. 

The VA loan is one of the reason 79% of veterans own their own homes, compared with just 63% for the non-veteran population, according to Trulia.com

If you are interested in starting your home buying process, please give me a call.  As a retired military member and full-time real estate I can help!  

 

 

 

Posted in Buying a Home
Feb. 28, 2020

Is A Military Transfer In Your Future?

Because I'm a retired military member, I personally know what it's like to make a move across country and across the world.  The planning, the packing, the kids, the schools, the looking for your next home, maybe selling the home you have now.  It all can make for a hectic and stressful couple of months.  So, when you are granted 10 days of house hunting leave, you need a REALTOR® that is as ready to hit the ground running just as fast as you are. 

As a Florida Military Specialist and Military Relocation Professional I am one of the very few to achieve these coveted designations which gives me a clear advantage when working with military individuals and their families. 

Call me today and let's talk about what's important to you as you prepare to PCS.  It doesn't have to be hectic and stressful.  My goal is to ALWAYS make your real estate experience exceptional...whether you are MOVING IN or MOVING ON.  

 

Feb. 19, 2020

If you can afford to buy a home, why are you still renting?

Why wait until next year?  

We’ve recently seen home loan interest rates as low as 5%, but rates are RISING and the economy is heating up. 

A 250,000 dollar home loan at a 5% rate would approximately be a $1,603 monthly mortgage payment.  

Start you search today!  North West Florida Real Estate Search and then .....Let's talk.  417 576-4787  

 

Posted in Buying a Home
Feb. 17, 2020

The Overlooked Financial Advantages of Homeownership

Here's Why You Should Stop Waiting and Start Looking

BY HOM EDITORIAL TEAM

As you get older, you’ll start to notice everyone around you starting to check all the “boxes”, i.e. finding a partner, settling down with a career, and buying a home. It’s easy to assume dreams of homeownership are unattainable to you for a variety of reasons. Whether it is heaps of student loan debt, hesitancy to commit, or simply a lack of the right resources at hand, these hurdles can feel overwhelming at times, but the longer you wait, the longer you’re putting off the plethora of benefits that come with long-term decision making.

It’s time to take this dream of homeownership off the backburner and make moves, both figuratively and literally.

1. YOUR RENT WILL ONLY CONTINUE TO RISE

It probably doesn’t come as a surprise that rental prices are on the rise across the nation. The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment hiked 4.2% in 2018 and studio apartments rose 5%, according to The Apartment Guide 2019 Annual Rent Report. A sales associate with ReMax, Bill Golden, shares, “If you’ve seen your rent escalate significantly but you feel trapped renting, it means the balance may be tipping toward buying. With today’s escalating rental rates and low (mortgage) interest rates, chances are your monthly outlay could be less on a purchase than on a rental.” While continuously tossing money at your landlord for your rental unit, it makes it nearly impossible to save towards your goals. In order to start investing in your future and build equity, you have to take the plunge into homeownership.

2. AVERAGE HOME PRICES ARE PREDICTED TO RISE BY $9,000 THIS YEAR

Home prices tend to increase over time, but NAR expects the median price of existing homes to increase by 3% in 2020. That brings the nation’s average home of $269,600 up to $278,599. Senior economist over at NAR, Gay Cororaton, predicts this based on historical data going as far back as 1999. She explains that this shows the “average month-over-month change in median existing-home sales price changes throughout the year.” Keep this in mind while you balance the pros and cons of homeownership — if you wait until next year, you’re likely to pay more.

“IF YOU’VE SEEN YOUR RENT ESCALATE SIGNIFICANTLY BUT YOU FEEL TRAPPED RENTING, IT MEANS THE BALANCE MAY BE TIPPING TOWARD BUYING.”
3. BUILD WEALTH

Owning a home is one of the biggest steps you can take towards increasing your net worth and building your equity. Many factors over time will help contribute to your home equity, such as the value of your home rising, renovations made both to the interior and exterior, and making your monthly mortgage payments on time. Rather than handing off all of your monthly housing costs to a landlord, you will now be saving a portion each month considering your newly forced savings. The equity you build can assist you in the future, whether it be for retirement, saving for your children, or the possibility of moving into a larger home or even purchasing an additional home.

4. SECURITY AND FREEDOM

Being a homeowner offers a great sense of security as well as freedom. You’re welcome to paint your walls as you please and let your furry friends roam wherever they’d like, without any pricey pet deposit. The days of waiting for your landlord’s approval on something as trivial as a new doorknob are over when you own your own home. You want to feel comfortable and safe in your house, considering throughout our lives we spend 33 years in our beds! The elimination of inspections, neighbor’s loud week-day parties keeping you up, and the overall lack of control in your building will allow you to feel more at ease in your own home; your safe place. The idea of having to move is an immensely stressful concept, in fact it often makes the list of the top 3 most stressful events in one’s life. The comfort of settling into your home provides stability and most likely means you won’t be moving anytime soon, so get comfortable — you’re finally here to stay! 

5. TAX BREAKS

After the slew of expenses that come along with purchasing a home, it’s nice to know there are benefits coming your way. One huge benefit being tax breaks. Both the interest and property tax portion of your mortgage is a tax deduction. As long as the balance of your mortgage is less than the total price of your home, the interest is 100% deductible on your tax return. Considering your interest is the biggest chunk of change when it comes to your mortgage, this is a gigantic relief. In addition to mortgage interest, homebuyers also receive a tax break when it comes to property tax, especially first-time homebuyers. Real estate property taxes paid for your first home, as well as a vacation home if you’re so lucky, are deductible for income tax purposes. You can find more information on tax breaks for first-time homebuyers in IRS Publication 530. 

6. YOU WON’T ALWAYS HAVE A MONTHLY PAYMENT

If you’ve been a lifelong renter, this may sound like a foreign concept, but believe it or not, one day you won’t have a monthly housing payment. Unlike renting, you will eventually pay off your mortgage and your monthly payments will be funding other (possibly more fun) things. Even if your mortgage payments are a bit steep, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Each of your mortgage payments are knocking down the price of your home, and you can even use the equity to fund your next house. While you do have property taxes to keep in mind, these are typically paid quarterly making it much easier to budget and far less of a headache.

7. PREDICTABLE COSTS

 As a homeowner, your monthly costs are most likely based on a fixed-rate mortgage, which allows you to budget your finances over a long period of time, unlike the unpredictability of renting. Especially if you’re living in an up and coming neighborhood, you don’t have to wake up in fear of being shooed out of your neighborhood by a big real estate company buying your building and raising your rent, or the countless amount of other circumstances that could increase your annual rent.

The dream of homeownership will always be a constant. Between more privacy, security, flexibility, financial stability, and pride, being a homeowner has endless benefits. Renting is a great option for many, but it doesn’t offer tax incentives, fixed costs, or building of equity, so while it is an easier option to start with, it won’t present prosperity for your future.

The question often asked is: when is it the right time to take that step? Your future is waiting for you, so maybe the real question is: why haven’t you taken the step towards homeownership yet?

Posted in Buying a Home
Feb. 15, 2020

5 Hard-to-Ignore Reasons Why You Should Always Work With a Realtor

From getting you the best deal to keeping you on the right side of the law, there are only upsides as to why use a Realtor.

Buying and selling a home is stressful. Showings. Listings. Open houses. Taxes. Closing costs. Paperwork on top of paperwork on top of paperwork. 

And those are just the things you've thought of off the top of your head.

While it's easy to think you can handle it all yourself, thanks to the abundance of information readily available on the internet (and from the Property Brothers!), the fact is that a real estate transaction is time-consuming and complicated, and, if not handled properly, could end up costing you money. 

Just like you wouldn't represent yourself in a court of law, it's simply not in your best interest to represent yourself when you're buying or selling a home. It's worth it to work with someone who knows real estate inside and out - a Realtor. 

Here are just a few of the compelling (and sanity-saving) reasons why to use a Realtor: 

1. Realtors abide by a code of ethics.

While we believe most real estate professionals are honest folks, those who belong to the National Association of Realtors (NAR) have agreed to conduct themselves according to the Realtor Code of Ethics, 17 rules that ensure standards of practice to promote honesty and fairness. 

What this means is that your Realtor is looking for you - and only you. Plain and simple.

2. They have insider information.

Every industry has its own special language, its own vast networking system, its own trade secrets, and the world of real estate is no different.

Realtors network constantly with other real estate pros and have exclusive access to market data through the National Realtors Association that help them keep up with what's happening in the housing market. They know the trendy subdivisions and the up-and-coming blocks, and they watch like hawks to find great deals for buyers. 

Realtors know CMAs, EIKs and FSBOs. Amortization, appraisals and assessments. Collateral, co-mingling and cash reserves. If you don't understand this lingo (and most people don't), consider getting a Realtor on board to help you translate.

They also know that advertising isn't what sells most homes, it's networking.

Using a Realtor to buy or sell your home gives you access to his or her extensive contact list of colleagues as well as friends, family and previous clients. Your Realtor could know another Realtor who knows a family that's looking for exactly what you're selling or who's selling just what you're in the market for.

It's these relationships with other real estate pros that can help you get a fair representation of the property as well as the best final sales price, whether you're buying or selling. 

3. They're marketing masters ...

In addition to marketing behind the scenes with colleagues, Realtors know how to make your home shine — from planning the perfect open house to staging your home for showings to photographing your property in the best possible light (literally) for listings. 

We know you have good taste and that HGTV has taught you a thing or two about selling a home. But we also know you have a full-time job, a family and a hundred other things on your to-do list. It's perfectly OK to take the back seat and let a pro handle your real estate venture. 

Truth is, 30 percent of buyers found their home with the help of an agent and 51 percent found theirs on the internet, according to a 2017 National Association of Realtors (NAR) survey.  

Realtors have made it their job to build huge social media followings, and their association with the NAR provides them with all the latest marketing strategies. They network through things such as Facebook groups, NextDoor and LinkedIn to reach even more potential buyers and sellers. 

You, as a homeowner, can only share your listing so many times with your Facebook friends before they snooze you for 30 days. 

4. ... and tough negotiators.

It's all about that final price, and for sellers, the idea of handing part of that to an agent can feel a little unsettling.

Consider this: The average selling price for a "for sale by owner" home was $208,700 compared with $235,000 for an agent-assisted sale, according to 2016 numbers from NAR, which points up that the odds of getting the price you want (and maybe even more), increase when you have a seasoned expert at your side. 

And a bigger profit means you can still walk away with the cash you hoped for.

Plus, Realtors aren't emotionally invested in your property. And that's a good thing, because more than likely, you are. Your home holds memories, good and bad, and letting go can be a heart-wrenching process.

Human beings simply don't make the best decisions when they're emotional. A Realtor can be a common-sense constant who negotiates with his head instead of his heart.

5. Realtors keep you on the right side of the law. 

Do you have to tell a potential seller about that water leak you never had repaired? Do you need to test your older home's paint for lead before putting it on the market? Are there any deed restrictions on the property you're hoping to buy? Who the heck is Dodd-Frank?

When buying or selling a home, dozens of questions will come up that you simply won't know the answer to — and an internet search won't quickly answer. This is where a Realtor comes in particularly handy.

Realtors keep up with the ever-changing rules and regulations that govern the sale of property, thanks to a constant flow of up-to-date information from the National Association of Realtors and related state Realtors associations, so you don't have to.

Posted in Selling Your Home
July 31, 2017

Curious About Local Real Estate?

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Curious about local real estate? So are we! Every month we review trends in our real estate market and consider the number of homes on the market in each price tier, the amount of time particular homes have been listed for sale, specific neighborhood trends, the median price and square footage of each home sold and so much more. We’d love to invite you to do the same!

Get Local Market Reports Sent Directly to You

You can sign up here to receive your own market report, delivered as often as you like! It contains current information on pending, active and just sold properties so you can see actual homes in your neighborhood. You can review your area on a larger scale, as well, by refining your search to include properties across the city or county. As you notice price and size trends, please contact us for clarification or to have any questions answered.

We can definitely fill you in on details that are not listed on the report and help you determine the best home for you. If you are wondering if now is the time to sell, please try out our INSTANT home value tool. You’ll get an estimate on the value of your property in today’s market. Either way, we hope to hear from you soon as you get to know our neighborhoods and local real estate market better.

Posted in Market Updates