Myths and Truths About Millennial Home Buyers

In recent years there has been a lot written about millennials and their impact on the housing market. Because of this, there are also a lot of misconceptions about what this generation wants from a home. To start, it’s important to know that there are more than 71 millennials, which are defined as those aged 22-37. They also represent 34 percent of all home buyers which makes them tremendously important to the real estate market. We were curious if what we’ve read about millennial home buying habits is true and here’s what we found.

Simple, Functional, Minimal Maintenance

Millennials do not appear to be drawn to fixer uppers in the same way as prior generations. They want something that is “move-in” ready with minimal maintenance. They also value simplicity and function over extravagance which means they’re drawn to spaces that serve dual purposes and furniture that doubles as storage. The old adage “less is more” takes on new meaning for millennial buyers.

Location

Similar to older generations, millennials place a great deal of importance on location. The convenience to their job, friends, family, entertainment, and shopping is a must. But the rumor out there that they only want to live in city dwellings is a myth. Millennials are getting older and starting to have families, so like prior generations, many of them are moving away from the hustle and bustle of the city and into nearby neighborhoods with good schools and family-friendly amenities.

Digitally Engaged

Millennials have grown up surrounded by technology, so smart home technology is a high priority for these buyers. And they’re willing to pay more for it: a survey conducted by Wakefield Research states that millennials are willing to pay a 20 percent premium for smart home technology, such as voice assisted devices, smart phone-controlled security systems, electronic door locks, and doorbell cameras.

Experience over Luxuries

One of the main things we’ve learned about millennials is that they are not prone to conformity. They’re a practical bunch who places a very high priority on experiences and quality of life. Studies show that millennials would rather have discretionary income to pay for things like healthy food, gym memberships, and international travel than blowing their budget on an expensive home. In other words, they’re happy with a modest space so they have money left to spend on their quality of life.

In the end, millennial buyers aren’t that different from prior generations. They’re clearly a pragmatic group that sees their home more as a functional space than a symbol of their success. Technology definitely plays a far greater role for them than their baby boomer parents, but ultimately they still want a home in a nice neighborhood with good schools and access to friends, family, and nearby amenities.

Posted on June 13, 2019 at 8:00 am
Jon Holsten | Category: Buying, Housing Trends | Tagged , , , , , ,

A Beginner’s Guide to Securing a Mortgage Loan

Entering into debt is a concept I grew up diametrically opposed to. I was raised, like many with frugal family members, to understand that anything you couldn’t pay for on the spot was something you couldn’t afford. But as we age we learn the pathway to financial growth requires a commitment beyond what many of us can deliver up front. Building and stabilizing wealth is, for many families, tied to home ownership. To reach that initial threshold, most aspiring homeowners will need to apply for a mortgage loan. That process can be daunting, but the long-term rewards of securing your home are worth it.

Step One – Break down your budget

A major financial decision like this can’t be made lightly. Many experts recommend a 50-20-30 style plan for finances, particularly for first-time homeowners. That means 50% of your budget is committed to core, unavoidable, monthly expenses like rent, groceries, loan payments, utilities, insurance, etc. The 20% segment is savings, placed in reserve towards a general or specific future financial goal. The final 30% (at maximum) is left as a remainder for personal spending, however, is most desired. Once this is set, you’re ready to evaluate the rate at which you can repay your loan and adjust accordingly.

Step Two – Take the time to get it right

It’s exciting to be in a position to purchase your first home, but if you find the right spot and realize the funds aren’t there yet it can be a huge disappointment. That’s what makes seeking pre-approval for a loan a must – particularly if it’s your first time. Having your credit in order, along with all key financial documentation (bank statements, tax returns, debt copies, prior records of significant ownership). If your credit isn’t in a great place, it’s likely worth taking the time to amend it before applying for your mortgage loan. When you earn lower interest rates and more manageable monthly payments you’ll be thankful for your prudence.

Step Three – The bigger the down payment the better

It’s rare that first-time homebuyers have significant cash on hand, but whatever you can muster makes a difference. Typically, the greater a down payment you can muster, the lower your subsequent interest rates will be. For many, there’s only so much that’s tenable as a bulk sum up front, of course. If that fits your situation, seeking a loan insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) can earn you a healthy loan for a down payment of just 3.5% of your home’s total value. To calculate the limitations of your target home’s loan options, you can input your information on the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) website here.

Step Four – Stick to the plan!

After all the effort you’ll go through to secure a mortgage loan, you’ve earned the home it’s helped you purchase. That loan, like any loan, is contingent on your continued monthly payments. It can feel daunting and dispiriting after a time to continually be paying for a home you’re already living in, but maintaining your financial balance is vital. You’ll never be able to predict every expense that comes up but maintaining your budget towards paying off your mortgage loans will set you up to be more financially flexible in the future. Should you ever hope to purchase a second home or other major investments requiring of loans, having a record of consistent mortgage loan payment can help you secure far more favorable interest rates in the future.

A mortgage loan, like any loan, is a major commitment, but entering into homeownership is a massive step towards financial stability and future life-planning. With proper patience and focus, you can get the loan you need at the rate you can afford.

Posted on April 26, 2019 at 8:00 am
Jon Holsten | Category: Buying, Fort Collins Real Estate, Homes for Sale, Windermere Real Estate | Tagged , , , , , , ,

What You Need to Know About the US Luxury Housing Market

Luxury homes sales across the U.S. continue to perform strongly, but I’m noticing some headwinds starting to appear that are worthy of a closer look.

It’s often thought that luxury real estate runs totally independent of the overall market, and while this is true in some respects, there are definitely correlations between high-end housing and the rest of the market.

The first similarity is that the luxury market has suffered from some the same inventory constraints that are almost endemic across all price points in the U.S. But, similar to the overall market, we are starting to see a rise in inventory, which should be good news for real estate agents and luxury home buyers alike.

Impact of rising inventory 

This increase in the number of luxury homes for sale has started to have a tapering effect on price growth, which again, is similar to what we’re seeing in the rest of the market. But as real estate professionals, we know full well that all housing is local and some markets are performing far better than others.

For example, luxury markets in Maui, Northern California, Colorado, and Sarasota, Florida, are all experiencing substantial price growth, while there are noticeable slowdowns in many parts of New York and New Jersey. Even Queens and Jersey City, which have continued to benefit from high demand, have seen price growth stall recently, indicating that those markets could be losing some steam.

Why the slowdown? 

The slowing of luxury sales in certain areas around the country piqued my interest, so I decided to explore why this is happening. The first thing I noticed is that cities with high property taxes are fairly prevalent on the list of slowing markets; this includes cities like Boston, Austin, New York City, and Chicago. It is likely that the federal tax changes limiting the deductibility of property taxes are the culprit for such slowdowns in these areas.

Something else that has undoubtedly impacted luxury home sales in markets, such as New York City and Seattle, is the significant decline in foreign buyers from countries like China and Canada. According to the National Association of Realtors, the number of purchases by international buyers fell by 21 percent between 2017 and 2018, amounting to a drop of $32 billion – the largest decline on record.  Foreign buyers spent $121 billion on 266,754 properties, making up 8 percent of the buyers of existing (previously lived in) homes.

My research tells me that foreign home buyers are pulling back amid political uncertainty in the U.S. Ongoing concerns about a potential trade war, combined with rhetoric against foreigners, have done their part to dampen some of the enthusiasm to invest in U.S. housing. Also playing a role in this slowdown is the Chinese Central Government which has started placing tighter controls on the ability to spend money outside of mainland China. And finally, rising home prices and a strong U.S. dollar are likely two other key factors behind the tumbling interest in luxury real estate from overseas buyers.

So how do I see the luxury market performing in 2019?

Luxury real estate sales in markets like Boston, Clearwater, Austin, and Alexandria, Virginia will continue to slow down for the reasons stated earlier, but in other parts of the country, home buyers will provide the demand needed to keep the market plugging along at a healthy pace.

The changes affecting mortgage interest deductions and property taxes will also continue to impact the luxury market in certain areas, but this will, to a degree, be offset by other tax changes that favor high-income households and increase their disposable income. Something else that will help keep the luxury real estate market afloat in the coming year is jumbo mortgage interest rates which remain remarkably competitive compared to historic standards.

On a whole, high-end real estate sales have been strong over the past few years. While I am predicting somewhat of a slowdown next year given the headwinds discussed earlier, 2019 will be remembered as a year where balance started to return to the luxury housing market.

 

Mr. Gardner is the Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate, specializing in residential market analysis, commercial/industrial market analysis, financial analysis, and land use and regional economics. 

Posted on April 17, 2019 at 8:00 am
Jon Holsten | Category: Buying, Homes for Sale, Housing Trends, Northern Colorado Real Estate, Windermere Real Estate | Tagged , , , , , ,

Sellers: Making the Most of your First Impressions

FrontEntrance

As the old saying goes, you only have one chance to make a first impression. If you’re selling your home, it’s true, except that there are several impressions to be made, and each one might have its own effect on the unique tastes of a prospective buyer. I’ve worked with scores of buyers, witnessed hundreds of showings, and I can summarize that experience down this: a tidy and well maintained home, priced right, listed with professional photographs, enhanced curb appeal and onsite visual appeal will sell fastest. We all know first impressions are very important, but the lasting impressions are the ones that sell your home. It’s not easy, but if you can detach a little and look at your home from a buyer’s perspective, the answers to selling it quickly may become obvious to you.

The very first impression your home will make is through its web presence, whether on Windermere.com, the MLS, Craigslist or any multitude of websites. Fair or not, the price is typically the very first thing people look at, and it will be the measurement by which your home is judged. You can always adjust to the right price later, but the impact is lost. It will take something dramatic to get a buyer to reassess the way they feel about the value of your home.

Closely following price are the listing photos. According to this recent article in the Wall Street Journal, professional photos will not only impact your first impressions, it may also make a difference in the final selling price. Great photos might even overcome those initial price objections. Does the exterior photo capture your home at its hi-res best? Does the accompanying text enhance or distract? Online, your home has only a few seconds to capture the home buyer’s attention. If it doesn’t, they’ll click the “Back” button and resume their search. The goal is to have buyers excitedly calling their agents to arrange a showing.

Another old saying is “Location, location, location,” and sure enough, the first live impression of your home is the location. Forget this one; you can’t move your home. There’s not much you can do about location, right? Actually, there is one thing you can do: price it right from the start.

Let’s move on to the first time a buyer sees your home as they pull to the curb out front. Go stand out at the curb and look at it the way you would if you were shopping for a home. Sometimes, a couple hours of labor and $100 worth of beauty bark can be worth thousands in the sales price. I’ve had buyers choose not to get out of the car when we pulled up to a home that they had once been excited to see.

Likewise, I’ve had buyers say they’ve seen enough simply by peaking into the front door. The nose trumps the eyes when it comes to the first impression when entering the house. Buyers get more caught up in the details. Once the home shopper is inside, it’s easy for them to get distracted and focus on something that seems to have nothing to do with the structure they will be buying, from a dirty dish in the sink to a teenager’s bedroom that’s been decorated in posters and/or melodrama. Do everything you can to set a positive lasting impression. The buyer may look at dozens of homes. What is your strategy to convince them to make an offer on yours?

Guest post by Eric Johnson, Director of Education

Posted on March 22, 2019 at 8:00 am
Jon Holsten | Category: Homes for Sale, Housing Trends, Selling | Tagged , , , , , ,

Moving On Up!

Moving is stressful, whether it is across town or cross-country.  Once you have closed on your house, the reality of packing, moving, and setting up a new home can become overwhelming. While no list can make a move “stress-free”, planning ahead and staying organized can help make your move a little smoother.  Here is our list of tips:

Getting started:

· Once you know your prospective move date set up a quick timeline to make sure you can get all the important tasks done and ready in time for your move.

· Consider how much stuff you have by doing a home inventory. This can help you decide whether you need to hire movers to help you or if you will be managing your move on your own. Many moving companies supply inventory lists to help you assess the size of truck you will need.  You can use your list as double duty for insurance purposes later.

· As soon as you decide how you will be moving, make your reservations. In general, moving companies and truck rental services are over-booked at the beginning and very end of the month.  If you are planning on hiring a moving company, contact a few in your area for a price quote. To find companies ask your real estate agent, family, or friends, and consult online reviews.  It is also a good idea to request a quote and compare companies.

Preparing for your move:

· Moving is a great opportunity to get rid of clutter, junk or outdated items. Set aside some time to sort through your closets, storage spaces, files, drawers, and more.  Go through cluttered areas and organize items by “keepers”, “give-aways” and “garbage”. You will have less to pack and an opportunity to update after you move. Contact a local nonprofit organization for your donations; some will arrange to pick up larger donations like furniture. If you have items of value, eBay or Craigslist are good options.

· Changing your address is one of the more tedious tasks in the moving process. You will need to change your address with the United States Post Office. You can find the online form here: https://moversguide.usps.com/icoa/icoa-main-flow.do?execution=e1s1.

· You will also need to change your address with each account you have. Here is a list to get your started:

· Employers

· Bank(s)

· Utilities (Electric, Water/Sewage, Oil/Gas)

· Cable/ Telephone

· Cell phone service

· Credit Cards

· Magazine subscriptions

· Insurance companies (auto, home/renters, health, dental, vision, etc.)

· Pharmacy

· Other personal services

Let the packing begin:

· Before you start packing, it may help to visualize where everything you have will go. Perhaps furniture will fit better in a different room? Consider the floor plan of your new home and figure out what will go where. This will aid in packing and labeling as you box everything up.

· Use a tool like floorplanner.com to plan where furniture and items will go.

· When it comes to packing, you have some options. You can work with a service that provides reusable boxes for moving or you can reuse or purchase cardboard boxes.  Make sure you have enough boxes, packing tape, dark markers, and packing paper.

· Pack rooms according to your floor plan. Label boxes with contents and room. This will make it easier to unpack your home, knowing where everything is going.

· Real Simple magazine has some great tips on packing for your move.

· If you have to disassemble any of your furniture, make sure you keep all the parts and directions together.

· Make sure you set aside your necessities for the day you move. Being tired and unable to take a shower or make your bed can be hard at the end of a long moving day. Here are some ideas of what you may like to pack in your “day-of-move” boxes.

· Clean linens for the beds, pillows and blankets

· Clean towels

· Shower curtain, liner and hooks

· Toiletries, hand soap, tooth brush, etc.

· Disposable utensils, cups, napkins, etc

· Rolls of toilet paper

· Snacks and water

· Change of clothes

· Tools for reassembling furniture, installing hardware, and hanging photos

Making your move

· Come up with a game plan with your family, so everyone has a role and a part to play

· Once the house is empty, do a once over on your old place to make sure it is clean for the next owners/occupants. Here is a useful checklist for cleaning.

Warming your new home

· Once you have settled into your new home, warm it up by inviting friends and family over to celebrate. Here is a great infographic about housewarming traditions and symbolism.

· Announce your move to far-away friends and family through moving announcements to make sure you stay on the holiday card mailing list.

Do you have any other tips or advice for achieving a smooth move?

Posted on February 18, 2019 at 8:00 am
Jon Holsten | Category: Buying, Fort Collins Real Estate, Homes for Sale, Housing Trends, Northern Colorado Real Estate, Wellington Real Estate, Windermere Real Estate, Windsor Real Estate | Tagged , , , , , , ,

The Ultimate Guide to Buying and Selling Homes

I am so excited to announce that I had the opportunity to co-author a new book called “The Ultimate Guide to Buying and Selling Homes.” The eBook edition has just been published and there is a special launch price of only $0.99. You can get the book at https://www.Amazon.com/dp/B07N8BXWB3. The paperback edition is coming soon!

The Ultimate Guide to Buying and Selling Homes: Insights from America's Top Agents by [Worters, David, Deck, Mike, Bauscher, Matt, Fuqua, Cheryl, Fuqua, Brad, Noble, Michelle, George, Paul, Oyler, Scott, Marlatt, Tonya, Holsten, Jon, Kim Ziton]

Posted on February 7, 2019 at 5:59 pm
Jon Holsten | Category: ebook, Homes for Sale, Housing Trends | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,