Working with Millennial First-Time Home Buyers

With most first-time home buyers falling within the millennial age range (those born between 1981 and 1996, ages 23 to 38 this year), real estate professionals might be interested in findings revealed in a recent Chase Home Lending survey. The survey was done among 1000 millennials about home ownership.

It turns out that they making smart financial decisions and saving money to make home ownership a reality. In fact, responses point to millennials being hyper-focused on the home buying journey. More than two-thirds of respondents said they want to talk about the process and about real estate topics, such as affordability and neighborhoods, with their friends.

Some other key findings include:

  • Seventy percent say they are willing to cut back on weekend activities in order to buy a home within the next 12 months – they are curtailing their shopping, dining out, movie-going and spa visits among their expense reduction tactics
  • Women are slightly more open to this idea than men
  • Fifty-two percent of first-time home buyers feel financially ready now
  • Many are optimistic about the home buying process
  • Seventy-one percent of women are willing to discuss real estate topics with friends while over 50 percent of men are comfortable talking about these on social media

Our takeaways at Century 21 Cedarcrest

1 – Real estate agents who provide an excellent transaction process with millennial homebuyers are likely to receive more referrals. After all, if these buyers are talking to their peers about the home buying journey, they are more likely to refer those agents with whom they are having a positive experience. This group values peer opinions; make sure you’re part of that.
2 – Members of this demographic are serious about positioning themselves for home ownership; and they want to learn more about becoming home owners. Whatever information or guidance you can provide will be a positive part of the transaction and help position you, as their real estate agent, as a trusted resource worth their referrals.
3 – If improving their credit score is an issue they are working on, or if they want to better understand home mortgages, look at your network to see who you can refer to help these home buyers make their dream of ownership a reality.
4 – With more than half of millennial first-time home buyers stating they feel financially ready to purchase a home, help them keep up the anticipation and excitement with relentlessly excellent service.

At Century 21 Cedarcrest Realty, we pride ourselves on making the process as smooth as possible for first-time home buyers. We understand you’ll have lots of questions and our team has the answers—and the listings that meet your criteria, from neighborhoods to school systems to town services and more. Whether it’s a condominium, townhouse, or single-family home, contact Century 21 Cedarcrest about what you’re looking for.

Is a Winter Season Home Sale the Right Time for You?

Photo by Emil Vilsek on Unsplash

Even in northern New Jersey, which has a healthy real estate market, it’s hard to know whether or not seasons play in the home sale cycle. With the cold temperatures and inevitable snow and ice, many homeowners—and home buyers—may feel it’s better to wait until spring.

Not so fast!

There are actually strong reasons to put your home on the market now. The common belief is that the spring market—when birds are chirping and gardens are blooming—is the best time to buy and sell real estate but here are some good reasons to put your house on the market in the late fall or winter.

  1. You attract more serious buyers. Really—these people are on the hunt and want a house now. Motivated buyers, for whatever their reason, are always searching for the right home in the right town for them. The winter months also gives these buyers a chance to scope out potential neighborhoods when other things are going on besides landscaping and swimming pools. They may love or abhor lots of holiday lights, for example, and want to see what goes on around the block during December and January (or even February for Valentine’s Day and March for St. Patrick’s Day). Or they may have concerns about whether the neighbors are keeping sidewalks clear of snow and ice (and whether the town snowplows are doing a good job).
  2. Wintertime staging possibilities. A well-staged home attracts buyers and offers, and winter greenery, cozy throws and blankets, and the aroma of pumpkin spice can be very alluring.
  3. Competition is lighter. It’s all about supply and demand. With less “for sale” signs around town, yours will catch attention and yield calls to the real estate agency to see the house. Fewer homes on the market drives up buyer demand, increases the probability of showings and with those, strong offers.
  4. Speedier transactions (and less stress). Think of the real estate market as a highway; with fewer “cars” in the buying lane, there are no processing traffic jams for all parties involved and transactions can move along more quickly. Mortgage lenders have fewer loans to process, real estate attorneys are dealing with a lighter closing load, and home inspectors are more available.
  5. Your real estate agent is always ready! Good real estate agents know that any time of year is a good time to list a home and bring buyers around. Marketing tactics may shift with the seasons and these professionals are ready with tips to help sell your home at any time of year.

If you’re thinking of putting your home up for sale now, or are looking for a home in Essex County or throughout northern New Jersey, the real estate agents at CENTURY 21 Cedarcrest Realty are ready to help. Contact us at (973) 228-1050 to get started.

Five Reasons to Forego a FSBO (For Sale By Owner)

For Sale By Owner - Century 21 CedarcrestYou’ve probably passed For Sale by Owner signs and wondered whether you could sell your house by yourself–and if it makes sense financially. The quick answer for most people: it’s a lot of work, for no guaranteed payoff. And the risks really aren’t worth it.

With FSBO (pronounced fizz-bow) transactions, sellers think they’ll save on commissions. But they’ll be missing out on what seasoned real estate agents do best–negotiating a great deal that could net you much more money than you’re likely to get on your own.

Factor in the hidden or unexpected expenses, say from potential legal or other problems, and it’s no wonder only 8% of homeowners in New Jersey decide to sell solo, according to the latest data from New Jersey Realtors®.

Here are some key reasons to work with a good real estate agent, backed by a solid brokerage, instead of FSBO:

  1. Pricing strategy

    Sure, you can look up comps and use online assessment tools, but there’s no substitute for local market knowledge. Experienced agents have a deep understanding of neighborhood and industry trends to help you determine the actual value of your home based on a detailed market analysis and any improvements you’ve made.

    The goal is to pinpoint the optimal price; too high, and your home sits on the market, a red flag for buyers. Too low, and you’ll get a bad return on perhaps your biggest investment.

  2. Prepping your property

    So what are buyers looking for these days? A good agent will know the answer, and how to position the look and feel of your property. Does a room need painting or minor repairs? How about swapping out some things, like furniture or a faucet? If you’re tackling a sale on your own, you might be tempted to do a major, unnecessary overhaul–or do nothing, which could turn off potential buyers immediately.

    Real estate agents also have relationships with professional stagers and photographers who can present your home in the best light for onsite showings and online photos.

  3. Marketing your home

    The more buyers who know about your home sale, the more likely you’ll get the price you’re looking for, in the shortest amount of time. Brokers and real estate agents have access to extensive resources and technology that will quickly broaden your field of serious prospects.

    Nearly all buyers start online, and that’s where FSBOs can have limited exposure. Agents get the word out through online portal listings, most notably the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), which updates constantly. And, they reach a wider audience through social media channels, professional networks, and name recognition. You can list on the MLS as a FSBO, but it will cost you.

  4. Handling all those people

    A home that’s for sale is at the busy intersection of gawkers, serious buyers, buyers’ agents and attorneys, home inspectors, and possibly appraisers, to name a few. Showings alone can be exhausting. And with a FSBO, no one else is looking out for your interests or representing you.

    An experienced real estate agent will streamline the process, bring in more pre-approved buyers, and collect valuable feedback. You’ll yield the strongest offers and the most motivated sellers, plus get recommendations on appropriate counteroffers. Having a broker or agent experienced in such negotiations, and advising on final terms and conditions, will reduce stress and anxiety for you.

  5. Paper, paper, everywhere

    The closing process involves a huge stack of complicated paperwork, knowledge of local real estate law, and attention to detail to make sure the sale goes through. If you fail to disclose something crucial about your property, for example, you could face serious financial or legal repercussions and perhaps a buyer who walks away.

    Do you want the burden of making sure all the documentation is complete and accurate? And are you comfortable knowing all the regulations affecting your sale?

Our sign is a good sign
At Century 21 Cedarcrest Realty, our real estate pros will support you throughout the entire selling or buying process. We’re Essex County and northern New Jersey experts with a successful track record. Our agency has been voted “Best Realtor” four years in a row (and counting!) in Suburban Essex magazine’s Best of Essex Readers’ Choice Awards. Give us a call at 973-228-1050 to discuss your listing.

Why Winter 2018 is a Great Time to Purchase a Home

It’s no secret in the real estate business that the housing inventory in New Jersey is tight; there are far more buyers than sellers and it’s been that way for a while. This level of competition drives up housing prices (it seems we all know someone who ended up in a bidding war, whether as a home buyer or home seller, or have heard the stories). Another factor that drives home purchases: mortgage interest rates.

How do interest rates originate?
Interest rates are typically determined by a central bank in most countries. In the United States, representatives from the Federal Reserve Board and Federal Reserve Bank comprise the Federal Open Market Committee, which assesses the economic status of the country throughout the year and adjusts interest rates accordingly.

The central bank lends money to retail banks at a discount and then consumers borrow from the retail banks. The rates assigned by the central bank to the retail banks determine interest rates or Prime Interest Rates.

Why interest rates fluctuate
If the central bank wants to discourage consumer borrowing and encourage more saving, it raises interest rates. The banks rely on those deposits in order to raise their worth and have money to lend to another party, which generates additional income from interest collected. When the central bank wants to encourage consumer borrowing and increase spending, it will lower interest rates.

Mortgage interest rates today
Interest rates started creeping up a little bit late in the fall and continue a modest rise—from 3/8 to ½ of a percentage point. Bankrate predicts a slow and steady climb throughout the first half of this year due to various pressures on the U.S. bond market.

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rate rose .08 percent in the first week of January, a significant jump after a prior rate drop (it is currently slightly over 4 percent). That said, with New Jersey’s housing inventory being so tight and home values remaining fairly steady, why not strike while the iron is hot?

Some figures from the Mortgage Bankers Association:

  • The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage rose to 3.57 percent from 3.49 percent.
  • The 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgage rose to 3.77 percent from 3.70 percent.
  • The 30-year fixed-rate jumbo mortgage rose to 4.21 percent from 4.14 percent.

Although the difference in monthly mortgage payments is quite small today as interest rates rise (a few dollars a month for most borrowers), there’s no telling where it could end up six months from now—and besides, why pay any more than you have to on a home loan?

Some Americans appear to be catching the clue. According to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey, mortgage applications overall rose 8.3 percent for the week ending January 5, 2017; 52.9 percent of those were refinances (up nearly a full percentage point from the week before). Homeowners and those on the market to purchase a home are locking into rates now.

Get into a new home sooner than later
Again, there is tremendous competition for good houses in northern New Jersey, so if you are planning to purchase a home, there’s no time like the present to get into the real estate market. And, if your credit history is strong, it’s a great time to pre-qualify for a favorable mortgage program at preferential rates.

Another great reason to purchase a home now: you’ll beat the typical spring/summer rush, so there are fewer buyers to compete with. Fewer buyers may help keep prices moderated in your favor. Sellers may also be more willing to negotiate with you.

The real estate agents at Century 21 Cedarcrest Realty will help you zero in on the right towns to meet your criteria and your budget, and work hard to help make your transaction as smooth as possible. We’re experts in Essex County, where our office is located … but we work throughout northern New Jersey, from Hudson County to Warren County and everywhere in between. We’re here with our heavy winter coats, ready to show you our listings, so contact us to get into a new home this winter at (973) 228-1050.

When Less is More in Real Estate

Of all the things that can be most damaging in real estate, clutter tops the list. For many, this just means that the house needs tidied or the shelves need to be cleaned up a bit or even removed. For others, some major outdoor and indoor work may be necessary. The goal here is to maximize the concept of space. Even a large room looks small when it’s cluttered, but even a small room can look large when it’s not cluttered. Use the tips here, but listen to specifics from your real estate agent, who has to experience to know what really matters in your home specifically.

 

De-Personalize the House

 

You may enjoy collecting all sorts of things, but you aren’t trying to impress a buyer with your decorating skills. Instead, you are trying to offer a buyer an open canvas, a place where he or she can imagine their own collections and how they would personalize the space. Consider removing shelves and pictures from the wall, but also make sure to clean up the marks to give a smooth, open appearance.

 

Manage the Landscaping

 

Take a walk around your house, starting at the front. This is the first impression that people have when they come to see if your house is the one they want to invest in. Make sure to clean up any clutter and put away most of the decorations. This is especially true if you happen to have religious decorations. It may be difficult, but you need to keep your personal beliefs out of the buyer’s mind so they can focus on the major aspects of the house itself.

 

Once you have the front yard covered, try cleaning up the back. It’s fine to have your patio furniture out, especially if it goes with the house. Just try to avoid the decorations. It might even be a great time to thin the flowers so they can see what is there, but also see that there is plenty of room for their own interests.

 

Keep in mind that the buyer is looking for a home that fits them and their interests. They want to see if they can make this property fit their lifestyle, not if they can move in to your lifestyle.

Modeling to the Target Buyer

It is hard enough to part with a home you love without trying to imagine that someone will use it in a way you wouldn’t like. If you have the time and the luxury of seeking out a target buyer, then by all means, make the effort to do so. Some houses just suit particular people better. For example, if you own an urban dwelling with a concrete backyard and swimming pool, your realtor probably isn’t going to try and target buyers who are looking for a quiet country dwelling where they can garden all summer long.

 

Maximize Focal Points

 

If your home has specific features that make it perfect for a certain type of lifestyle, you will want to make those features stand out when you market to a specific audience. You might also ask yourself what you can add that would make it even more appealing. If your property has a greenhouse, will you be leaving any supplies so that the owner can use it right away? Those little things can let a buyer know they can start in on their hobbies immediately, without an added expense on top of a new home purchase.

 

Allow for Immersion

 

Some properties aren’t set up so much for hobbies as they are other elements. You will want to be able to immerse your guests in the experience so they can enjoy it with all their senses. Are you trying to demonstrate that your home is a quiet safe haven from the world? Offer a viewing when the neighborhood kids are at school or make sure to do most of the welcoming in the soundproof room. These are the details that can really capture a buyer’s attention. Make the most of them.

 

Avoid Advice

 

Just as much as you want to market to specific buyers, you also want to avoid leaving hints or advice. This is the start of a new journey for them so they will want to do it their way. In the meantime, you don’t want to have to think about them doing things differently than you would because that can limit your pleasure with the experience.

 

Best Season to Sell a Home

Knowing what the best season is to buy or sell a home is just the tip of the iceberg. Believe it or not, there are also best days to list a home or make an offer. Sometimes the best days to buy and sell coincide, but not always. That becomes important when you go from listing your home to shopping for a new one. It can also make a difference in how you or your broker or agent manages your sale or purchase.

 

Spring is the Busy Season

 

Hands down, spring is the busiest season to buy or sell a home. The weather is starting to warm up, but it is not so hot that people don’t want to get out and about. If anything, they are dying to get out of the house. However, this is also the season when your yard looks the worst because the snow just melted and revealed what was left after a long winter. Be sure to spruce things up a bit before you list your home.

 

January Starts Things Off

 

January doesn’t just start the new year, but is probably the best month to start making offers on homes. Most people are waiting for spring to arrive so they can get out and about in comfort. For a home buyer, this means that there is far less competition than there is going to be in a couple of months. For the home seller, it may bring some much needed relief after an expensive winter.

 

Tuesday and Thursday

 

Tuesday and Thursday have a special significance in the real estate world. The first Tuesday of the month is the day that many mortgage payments are due. That means it is a perfect day to make an offer on a house. The owner just made a payment that they really don’t care to make anymore, so they will be more inclined to accept and offer.

 

Thursday is the day to list a house. During the week, people are busy working and they may not have much time to patiently explore what’s for sale. Thursday posting will be listed as new listing over the weekend, so they are sure to get plenty of views.

 

The Last Minute Home Visit Survival Guide

Home visits are a welcome sign that your property is drawing prospective buyers. However, last minute visits are often a home-for-sale nightmare. When it is time to sell, but you need to still live there until it sells, buyers sometimes show up at inconvenient moments. There are survival tips to make the best of the situation, even on a moment’s notice.

 

Be open and honest, but smart: As the homeowner, the ability is there to not allow showings during different times of the day or to turn away last minute requests. Sellers are well within their rights to set boundaries with their real estate agents and request a few hours notice for showings. However, keep in mind that turning away a buyer is turning away a potential sale. Be honest with your agent about your expectations, but consider that there may be times when a buyer is available on short notice.

 

Start packing: In today’s market, there is a supply shortage of great homes. Do not expect your house to languish in the real estate market listings for months at a time. Packing all the items that are not completely essential for daily living will not only get a jump start on your move, but will greatly reduce clutter around the home. This leads to less last minute clean-up time and fewer moments spent scrambling when you get the call or an unexpected knock on the door from a buyer or her agent.

 

Clean as you go: Living a somewhat minimalist lifestyle while packing will make the constant clean-up a little easier. Not allowing the bathroom towels to be strewn about or the beds to remain unmade all day will make the last minute straightening go much more quickly and simply. It is worth the effort to not be caught off guard.

 

Arrange to have a quick get-a-way: Whether through an open arrangement with a neighbor or friend to pop by on short notice or a regular seat at the local coffee house: have places in mind to visit during showings. While it is tempting to want to be home when strangers are mulling through your halls, it is best to not be there. Buyers are going to be less candid about their opinions in front of the seller and will have difficulty picturing themselves as the owners with the current owner present. So, take some time for yourself. It will help you survive with style!