910-279-9398 Download Our Brochure
  • Homes for sale in coastal southeastern NC

Archive for the ‘For Buyers’ Category

How VA Loans Can Help You Buy a Home

Posted by
How VA Loans Can Help You Buy a Home Simplifying The Market

For over 80 years, Veterans Affairs (VA) home loans have helped millions of veterans buy their own homes. If you or someone you know has served in the military, it’s important to learn about this program and its benefits.

Here are some key things to know about VA loans before buying a home.

Top Benefits of VA Home Loans

VA home loans make it easier for veterans to buy a home, and they’re a great perk for those who qualify. According to the Department of Veteran Affairs, some benefits include:

  • Options for No Down Payment: Qualified borrowers can often purchase a home with no down payment. That’s a huge weight lifted when you’re trying to save for a home. The Associated Press says:

“. . . about 90% of VA loans are used to purchase a home with no money down.”

  • Don’t Require Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI): Many other loans with down payments under 20% require PMI. VA loans do not, which means veterans can save on their monthly housing costs.
  • Limited Closing Costs: There are limits on the types of closing costs you pay when you qualify for a VA home loan. So, more money stays in your pocket when it’s time to seal the deal.

An article from Veterans United sums up how remarkable this loan can be:

“For the vast majority of military borrowers, VA loans represent the most powerful lending program on the market. These flexible, $0-down payment mortgages have helped more than 24 million service members become homeowners since 1944.”

Bottom Line

Owning a home is the American Dream. Veterans give a lot to protect our country, and one way to honor them is by making sure they know about VA home loans.

Worried About Home Maintenance Costs? Consider This

Posted by
Worried About Home Maintenance Costs? Consider This Simplifying The Market

If one of the main reasons you’re hesitant to buy a home is because you’re worried about the upkeep, here’s some information you may find interesting on both new home construction and existing homes (a home that’s been lived in by a previous owner).

Newly Built Homes Need Less Upfront Maintenance

If you can afford it, you may find a newly built home could help ease your worries about maintenance costs. Think about it, if everything in the house is brand new, it won’t have the wear and tear you may see in an existing home – and that means it’s less likely to need repairs. As LendingTree says:

“Since the systems, appliances, roof and foundation are new, you’re less likely to pay for major or minor repairs within the first few years of homeownership. That can make a big difference for first-time homebuyers who are adjusting to owning rather than renting.”

Plus, many builders also have warranties on their homes that would cover some of the more major expenses that could pop up. As First American explains:

The new systems in your home, like plumbing, electrical, and HVAC, are typically covered for one to two years by your builder’s warranty. When something happens to these systems, you contact the builder or their warranty company.”

Existing Homes Can Still Have Great Perks

But it’s worth mentioning, that it’s not just newly built homes that can have warranties. It’s an option for existing homes too.

Your agent may be able to help you negotiate with the seller to add one as a concession on your contract. But you should know that not all sellers will be willing to do that. If they won’t, you could purchase one yourself, if you’d like to. An article from Forbes explains:

During a real estate transaction, a home warranty policy can be purchased by the buyer or the seller.”

And there are benefits for both parties when it comes to a home warranty. According to MarketWatch:

“A buyer’s home warranty benefits both buyers and sellers, as it helps the seller close the deal while providing the future homeowner with peace of mind that they’ll be covered if a system or appliance breaks down . . . Sometimes, a seller will pay for the first year of the home buyer’s warranty to sweeten the deal, but it depends on the real estate market.”

If you’re interested in a home warranty for peace of mind, lean on your agent. They’ll negotiate on your behalf to see if a seller would be willing to cover one for you. Just remember, the likelihood of a seller throwing one in depends on conditions in your local market.

So, Should I Buy New or Existing?

While the need for less upfront maintenance is a great perk for new construction, there are some things a newly built home can’t provide that an existing home can.

For example, existing homes have a lot of character and charm that’s difficult to reproduce. The quirks that come with an older home may make it feel more homey. And, existing homes usually have more developed landscaping and a well-established sense of community. So, it can feel more inviting than something that’s a blank slate, like new construction often is. Not to mention, if you go with new construction, you may have to wait for the home to finish being built based on where it is in the process. It all depends on what’s most important to you.

Bottom Line

Whether you choose a newly built or an existing home, you may be able to ease some of your concerns over maintenance with a home warranty. To weigh your options and go over what’s the top priority for you, talk to the professionals.

What’s Next for Home Prices and Mortgage Rates?

Posted by
What’s Next for Home Prices and Mortgage Rates? Simplifying The Market

If you’re thinking of making a move this year, there are two housing market factors that are probably on your mind: home prices and mortgage rates. You’re wondering what’s going to happen next. And if it’s worth it to move now, or better to wait it out.

The only thing you can really do is make the best decision you can based on the latest information available. So, here’s what experts are saying about both prices and rates.

1. What’s Next for Home Prices?

One reliable place you can turn to for information on home price forecasts is the Home Price Expectations Survey from Fannie Mae – a survey of over one hundred economists, real estate experts, and investment and market strategists.

According to the most recent release, experts are projecting home prices will continue to rise at least through 2028 (see the graph below):

No Caption Received

While the percent of appreciation varies year-to-year, this survey says we’ll see prices rise (not fall) for at least the next 5 years, and at a much more normal pace.

What does that mean for your move? If you buy now, your home will likely grow in value and you should gain equity in the years ahead. But, based on these forecasts, if you wait and prices continue to climb, the price of a home will only be higher later on. 

2. When Will Mortgage Rates Come Down?

This is the million-dollar question in the industry. And there’s no easy way to answer it. That’s because there are a number of factors that are contributing to the volatile mortgage rate environment we’re in. Odeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist at First American, explains:

“Every month brings a new set of inflation and labor data that can influence the direction of mortgage rates. Ongoing inflation deceleration, a slowing economy and even geopolitical uncertainty can contribute to lower mortgage rates. On the other hand, data that signals upside risk to inflation may result in higher rates.”

What happens next will depend on where each of those factors goes from here. Experts are optimistic rates should still come down later this year, but acknowledge changing economic indicators will continue to have an impact. As a CNET article says:

“Though mortgage rates could still go down later in the year, housing market predictions change regularly in response to economic data, geopolitical events and more.”

So, if you’re ready, willing, and able to afford a home right now, partner with a trusted real estate advisor to weigh your options and decide what’s right for you. 

Bottom Line

Connect with a trusted real estate agent to make sure you have the latest information available on home prices and mortgage rate expectations. Together you’ll go over what the experts are saying so you can make an informed decision on your move.

The Number of Homes for Sale Is Increasing

Posted by
The Number of Homes for Sale Is Increasing Simplifying The Market

There’s no denying the last couple of years have been tough for anyone trying to buy a home because there haven’t been enough houses to go around. But things are starting to look up.

There are more homes up for grabs this year. The graph below uses the latest data from Realtor.com to show in April 2024 there were more homes for sale than there were over the last few years (2021-2023):

No Caption Received

 

As Realtor.com explains:

There were 30.4% more homes actively for sale on a typical day in April compared with the same time in 2023, marking the sixth consecutive month of annual inventory growth.”

But does this growing inventory make house hunting easier? Yes and no.

Using the latest weekly data from Calculated Risk, the graph below shows, that even with the growth lately, there are still way fewer homes for sale than there were in the last normal year in the housing market:

No Caption Received

What Does This Mean for You?

If you’ve been looking to buy but put your plans on hold because you just couldn’t find what you were searching for, you might see more options now than you did over the past few years – but don’t expect a huge selection.

To check out your growing options, it’s a good idea to work with a local real estate agent you trust. Real estate is all about location. And an agent can help you get the scoop on the homes available in the area you’re interested in. Bankrate explains:

“In today’s homebuying market, it’s more important than ever to find a real estate agent who really knows your local area — down to your specific neighborhood — and can help you successfully navigate its unique quirks.”

Bottom Line

Team up with a local real estate agent who can keep you in the loop on everything that might impact your move, like how many homes are up for sale right now.

Why a Condo May Be a Great Option for Your First Home

Posted by
Why a Condo May Be a Great Option for Your First Home Simplifying The Market

Having a hard time finding a first home that’s right for you and your wallet? Well, here’s a tip – think about condominiums, or condos for short.

They’re usually smaller than single-family homes, but that’s exactly why they can be easier on your budget. According to the latest data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), condos are typically less expensive than single-family homes (see graph below):

No Caption Received

So, if you’re comfortable with a smaller space and want to buy your first home this year, adding condos to your search might be easier on your wallet.

Besides giving you more options for your home search and maybe fitting your budget better, living in a condo has a bunch of other perks, too. According to Rocket Mortgage:

“From community living to walkable urban areas, condos are great options for first-time home buyers and people looking to enjoy homeownership without extensive upkeep.”

Let’s dive into a few of the draws of condos for first-time buyers from Bankrate:

  • They require less maintenance. Condos are great if you want to own your place but don’t want to mow the lawn, shovel snow, or fix the roof. Your real estate agent can help explain any associated fees and details for the condos you’re interested in.
  • They allow you to start building equity. When you buy a condo, you build equity and your net worth as you make your mortgage payments and as your condo’s value goes up over time.
  • They often come with added amenities. Your condo might come with access to amenities like a pool, dog park, or parking. And the best part? You don’t have to take care of any of them.
  • They provide you with a sense of community. Buying a condo means you’ll be living close to other people, which is nice if you enjoy having neighbors around and making friends. Many condo communities hold fun events like barbecues and parties during holidays for everyone to enjoy.

Remember, your first home doesn’t have to be the one you stay in forever. The important thing is to get your foot in the door as a homeowner so you can start to gain home equity. Later on, that equity can help you buy another place if you need something different.

Ultimately, owning and living in a condo is a lifestyle choice. And if it’s one that appeals to you, they could provide the added options you need in today’s market.

Bottom Line

It might be a good idea to think about condos in your home search. If you’re ready to see what’s out there, get in touch with a local real estate agent today.

Home Prices Are Climbing in These Top Cities

Posted by
Home Prices Are Climbing in These Top Cities Simplifying The Market

Thinking about buying a home or selling your current one to find a better fit? If so, you might be wondering what’s going on with home prices these days. Here’s the scoop.

The latest national data from Case-Shiller and the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) shows they’re going up (see graphs below):

No Caption Received

As you can see, home prices were rising for most of 2023. But over the course of December and January, they were virtually flat – which is pretty normal for that time of year.

But here’s what you need to know now. As of February, when the spring market kicked off, prices were on the rise again.

Home Prices Are Going Up in Most of America’s Top Cities

After seeing a jump in home prices nationally in February, you might be wondering if they’re going up in your area, too. While it depends on where you live, prices are rising in 18 of the top 20 cities Case-Shiller reports on in the monthly price index (see chart below):

No Caption Received

Most experts also think home prices will keep rising and end the year on a high note. Forbes explains why:

“Even as mortgage rates have reached their highest level since November, persistent demand coupled with limited housing supply are key drivers pushing home values upward.”

How This Impacts You

  • For Buyers: If you’re ready, willing, and able to buy a home, purchasing before prices go up even more might be a smart choice, since home values are expected to keep climbing.
  • For Sellers: Prices are going up because there still aren’t enough homes available for sale right now compared to today’s buyer demand. So, if you work with an agent to price your house right, you might receive multiple offers and sell quickly. 

Bottom Line

The data shows home prices are increasing nationally. Chat with a local real estate agent to see exactly what’s going on with prices in your neighborhood.

The Top 2 Reasons To Consider a Newly Built Home

Posted by
The Top 2 Reasons To Consider a Newly Built Home Simplifying The Market

When you’re planning a move, it’s normal to wonder where you’ll end up and what your future home is going to look like. Maybe you’ve got a specific picture of that house in your mind. But unless you came into this process knowing you want to buy a newly built home, you may not have pictured new home construction.

A trusted real estate agent can help walk you through these two reasons you may want to reconsider that.

1. Adding Newly Built Homes Could Give You More Options

There are two types of homes on the market: new and existing. A newly built home refers to a house that was just built or is under construction. An existing home is one a previous homeowner has already lived in. Right now, the inventory of existing homes is tight. But there may be options for you on the new home side of things.

Data from the Census and the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows that newly built homes are a bigger part of today’s housing inventory than the norm (see graph below):

No Caption Received

From 1983 to 2019 (the last normal year in the market), newly built homes made up only 13% of the total inventory of homes for sale. But today that number has climbed to over 33%.

Rest assured, after over a decade of underbuilding, builders aren’t overdoing it today. Even with an increase in new construction today, there’s still a significant housing shortage overall. But for you, the uptick in new builds can be a game changer because it gives you more options for your search.

2. Newly Built Homes May Be More Affordable Than You’d Think

You may still be wondering if a new build could really be an option for you. If you’ve previously written them off because you thought they would be out of your budget, consider this. The price gap between a newly built home and an existing house is shrinking. Here’s why.

Builders are going to build what’s in demand. And they know people need more options right now, especially ones that are smaller and potentially more affordable. So, they’re focusing on building smaller homes at lower price points. The graph below shows the price difference between new and existing homes is shrinking as that happens:

 No Caption Received

As LendingTree explains:

In the past, newly built homes have been much more expensive than existing homes — but that gap has been getting smaller recently. In some places today, you may find that the cost to build versus buy is roughly the same.”

And an article from CNBC says:

“While new builds are still sold for slightly more than existing homes, the price gap has significantly narrowed . . .”

Not to mention, some builders are even offering price cuts and mortgage rate buy-downs right now to sweeten the deal. Today there are many reasons new builds may be worth considering. Other buyers sure seem to think so. As Freddie Mac says:

“As the supply of existing homes for sale remains low and home prices continue to rise, more buyers are choosing to purchase new homes than in previous years.”

Just know that buying a newly built home isn’t the same as buying an existing one. Builder contracts have different fine print. So, partner with a local agent who knows the market, builder reputations, and what to look for in those contracts so you have an expert on your side to help you explore this option.

Bottom Line

If you want to find out what builders are doing in your area, connect with a real estate agent. And if you’re willing to cast a wider net to open up your options even more, that agent can talk to you about broadening your search to include other towns nearby.

How Buying or Selling a Home Benefits Your Community

Posted by
How Buying or Selling a Home Benefits Your Community Simplifying The Market

If you’re thinking of buying or selling a house, it’s important to know it doesn’t just impact you—it helps out the local economy and your community, too.

Every year, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) puts out a report that breaks down the financial impact that comes from people buying and selling homes (see visual below):

No Caption Received

When a house is sold, it really boosts the local economy. That’s because of all the people needed to build, fix up, and sell homes. Robert Dietz, Chief Economist at the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), explains how the housing industry adds jobs to a community:

“. . . housing is a significant job creator. In fact, for every single-family home built, enough economic activity is generated to sustain three full-time jobs for a year . . .”

It makes sense that housing creates a lot of jobs because so many different kinds of work are involved in the industry.

Think about all the people involved with selling a house—city officials, contractors, lawyers, real estate agents, specialists, etc. Everyone has a job to do to make your deal go through. So, each transaction is a big help to those who work and live in your community.

Put simply, when you buy or sell a home, you’re helping out your neighbors. So, when you decide to move, you’re not just meeting your own needs—you’re also doing something good for your community. Just knowing your move helps so many people around you can give you a sense of empowerment as you make your decision this year.

Bottom Line

Every time a home is sold, it really helps out the local economy. If you’re ready to move, get in touch with a local real estate agent. It won’t just change your life—it’ll also do a lot of good for the whole community.

Tips for Younger Homebuyers: How To Make Your Dream a Reality

Posted by
Tips for Younger Homebuyers: How To Make Your Dream a Reality Simplifying The Market

If you’re a member of a younger generation, like Gen Z, you may be asking the question: will I ever be able to buy a home? And chances are, you’re worried that’s not going to be in the cards with inflation, rising home prices, mortgage rates, and more seemingly stacked against you.

While there’s no arguing this housing market is challenging for first-time homebuyers, it is still achievable, especially if you have professionals on your side.

Here are some helpful tips you may get from a pro.

1. Explore Your Options for a Down Payment

If a down payment is your #1 hurdle, you may have options to give your savings a boost. There are over 2,000 down payment assistance programs designed to make homeownership more achievable. And, that’s not the only place you may be able to get a helping hand. While it may not be an option for everyone, 49% of Gen Z homebuyers got money from loved ones that they used toward a down payment, according to LendingTree.

And chances are you won’t need to put 20% down (unless specified by your loan type or lender). So be sure to work with a trusted mortgage professional to explore your options, find out how much you’ll really need, and learn about any guidelines on getting a gift from loved ones.

2. Live with Loved Ones To Boost Your Savings

Another thing a number of Gen Z buyers are doing is ditching their rental and moving back in with friends or family. This can help cut down your housing costs so you can build your savings a whole lot faster. As Bankrate explains:

“. . . many have opted to stop renting and live with family in order to boost their savings. Thirty percent of Gen Z homebuyers move directly from their family member’s home to a home of their own, according to NAR.”

3. Cast a Broad Net for Your Search

When you’ve saved up enough, here’s how a pro will help you approach your search. Since the supply of homes for sale is still low and affordability is tight, they’ll give you strategies and avenues you may not have considered to open up your pool of options.

For example, it’s usually more affordable if you consider a rural or suburban area versus an urban one. So, while the city may be livelier and more energetic, the cost of living may be reason enough to look at something further out. And if you consider smaller homes and condos or townhouses, you’ll give yourself even more ways to break into the market. As Colby Stout, Research Analyst at Bright MLS, explains:

“Being flexible on the types of home (e.g., a condo or townhome versus a single-family home) and exploring more affordable neighborhoods is important for first-time buyers.”

4. Take a Close Look at Your Wants and Needs

And lastly, an agent can help you really think about your must-have’s and nice-to-have’s. Remember, your first home doesn’t have to be your forever home. You just need to get your foot in the door to start building equity. If you want to buy, you may find making some compromises is worth it. As Chase says:

“An open-minded approach to house-hunting may be one way for Gen Z homebuyers to maintain some edge. This could mean buying in areas that are less expensive. Differentiating needs vs. wants may help in this area as well.”

An agent will help you prioritize your list of home features and find houses that can deliver on the top ones. And they’ll be able to explain how equity can benefit you in the long run and make it possible to move into that dream home down the line.

Bottom Line

Real estate professionals have expertise on what’s working for other buyers like you. Lean on them for tips and advice on ways you can get ready to buy. As Directors Mortgage says, with that support you can make it happen:

 

The path to homeownership may not be a straightforward one for Gen Z, but it’s undoubtedly within reach. By adopting the right strategies, like exploring down payment assistance programs and sharing living costs with relatives, you can bring your dream of owning a home closer to reality.”