Two features matter more to potential home buyers than air conditioning

Two features matter more to potential home buyers than air conditioning

With Dallas residents suffering through a late summer heat wave of 100 degree days, you don’t need a researcher to tell you that air conditioning is a must-have.

Even so, a new study by the folks at Zillow tells us that more than three-quarters of U.S. buyers say they had to have AC in their new digs — one of the highest-rated features.

“Affordability, a preferred number of bedrooms and air conditioning top the list of important home characteristics for most shoppers,” Zillow’s Buyer Wants and Needs list says.

Seventy-six percent of buyers said they have to have air conditioning.

The other 24% weren’t from Texas, where we rate AC higher than indoor toilets or a roof.

“In the South — known for being hot and sticky in the summer — almost twice the share of buyers value AC (87.6%) over being near family and friends (44%),” Zillow says.

Off-street parking and multiple bathrooms were also on the list of preferred features.

At the other end of the preference list, hot tubs were one of the things home buyers were least likely to crave.

Again, Texas and summer — who wants to sit in hot water?

 

*Article by Steve Brown, Real Estate Editor for the Dallas Morning News

 

Experts Predict a Strong Housing Market for the Rest of 2019

We’re in the back half of the year, and with a decline in interest rates as well as home price and wage appreciation, many are wondering what the predictions are for the remainder of 2019.

Here’s what some of the experts have to say:

Ralph McLaughlin, Deputy Chief Economist for CoreLogic

“We see the cooldown flattening or even reversing course in the coming months and expect the housing market to continue coming into balance. In the meantime, buyers are likely claiming some ground from what has been seller’s territory over the past few years. If mortgage rates stay low, wages continue to grow, and inventory picks up, we can expect the U.S. housing market to further stabilize throughout the remainder of the year.”

Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at NAR

“We expect the second half of year will be notably better than the first half in terms of home sales, mainly because of lower mortgage rates.”

Freddie Mac

“The drop in mortgage rates continues to stimulate the real estate market and the economy. Home purchase demand is up five percent from a year ago and has noticeably strengthened since the early summer months…The benefit of lower mortgage rates is not only shoring up home sales, but also providing support to homeowner balance sheets via higher monthly cash flow and steadily rising home equity.”

Bottom Line

The housing market will be strong for the rest of 2019. If you’d like to know more about our specific market, let’s get together to discuss what’s happening in our area.

Seniors Are on the Move in the Real Estate Market

Did you know August 21st is National Senior Citizens Day? According to the United States Census, we honor senior citizens today because,

 “Throughout our history, older people have achieved much for our families, our communities, and our country. That remains true today and gives us ample reason…to reserve a special day in honor of the senior citizens who mean so much to our land.

To give proper recognition, we’re going to look at some senior-related data in the housing industry.

According to the Population Reference Bureau,

The number of Americans ages 65 and older is projected to nearly double from 52 million in 2018 to 95 million by 2060, and the 65-and-older age group’s share of the total population will rise from 16 percent to 23 percent.”

Seniors Believe in Homeownership

In a recent reportFreddie Mac compared the homeownership rates of two groups of seniors: the Good Times Cohort (born from 1931-1941) and the Previous Generations (born in the 1930s). The data shows an increase in the homeownership rate for the Good Times Cohort because seniors are now aging in place, living longer, and maintaining a high quality of life into their later years.

This, however, does not mean all seniors are staying in place. Some are actively buying and selling homes. In the 2019 Home Buyers and Sellers Generational Trends Report, the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) showed the percentage of seniors buying and selling:

 

Here are some highlights from NAR’s report:

  • Buyers ages 54 to 63 had higher median household incomes and were more likely to be married couples.
  • 12% of buyers ages 54 to 63 are first-time homebuyers, 5% (64 to 72), and 4% (73 to 93).
  • Buyers ages 54 to 63 purchased because of an interest in being closer to friends and families, job relocation, and the desire to own a home of their own.
  • Sellers 54 years and older often downsized and purchased a smaller, less expensive home than the one they sold.
  • Sellers ages 64 to 72 lived in their homes for 21 years or more.

Bottom Line

According to NAR’s report, 58% of buyers ages 64 to 72 said they need help from an agent to find the right home. The transition from a current home to a new one is significant to undertake, especially for anyone who has lived in the same house for many years. If you’re a senior thinking about the process, let’s get together to help you make the move as smoothly as possible.

Want to add a patio fireplace? Here’s a quick guide to get started

Adding an outdoor fireplace can be a great way to liven up your backyard or patio area. Not only do outdoor fireplaces provide a unique visual aesthetic, they can also serve a functional purpose. Even though it’s outside in the open air, the heat produced by an outdoor fireplace can actually keep the surrounding area fairly warm on cool autumn evenings. Before you decide to have an outdoor fireplace installed, though, there are a few things you should take into consideration.

Fireplace Materials

Depending on the look and functionality you want, there are a few different options available in regard to what your fireplace can be made of.

Commercial outdoor fireplaces made of iron, steel or other metals are available for purchase and installation as-is. If you’re building the fireplace itself, materials such as concrete, brick and stone are often used. In many cases, a concrete or stone fireplace will feature supplemental components made of metal such as fireplace grates and racks to hold logs or other fuel.

Chimneys

Another important aspect of your outdoor fireplace is the chimney. Even though the fireplace is outside, you still need to divert smoke up and away from you and your guests as there are a number of hazardous materials found in fireplace smoke. A number of options made of metal or other heat-resistant materials are available, and it is also possible to build a chimney from brick or stone as well. Even if the chimney is constructed from one of these materials, a liner may be needed to prevent smoke from leaking out of cracks or gaps in the chimney construction.

Fuel Options

Wood is the most popular fuel option for outdoor fireplaces, though it is not the only one. Propane fireplaces are also a possibility, though fuel lines will have to be run through the fireplace material so that the tanks can be hooked up safely away from the fire. Other less common options include pressed wood pellets, charcoal and even some forms of biofuel.

Cooking Options

Many people who own outdoor fireplaces use them for cooking as well, allowing the fireplace to double as a rotisserie or a wood-fired pizza oven. This may restrict some of your fuel options as the fuel needs to be food safe, and the fireplace design will need to incorporate a large enough chimney to prevent excess smoke from building up around the food. Depending on the design you want, additional components such as metal cooking grates, a heat stone, rotisserie controls or other features may also be needed.

Cleaning and Maintenance

As with any fireplace, an outdoor fireplace will require periodic cleaning and maintenance. This is especially important before winter as the fireplace will be exposed to potential freezing temperatures and other inclement weather that could cause cracks or other damage to appear. The fireplace should have a visual inspection every few months for signs of problems and should have its chimney cleaned at least annually. After any period where the fireplace has not been used for more than a few weeks, the chimney should also be checked to make sure that birds or other animals have not attempted nesting or otherwise created potential blockages within the chimney.

Other Considerations

Before installing an outdoor fireplace, be sure to check and see whether there are any restrictions or ordinances in place in the city where you live. If you’re in a homeowner’s association, you should also check to see if they have any rules concerning outdoor fireplaces. You may be restricted in the materials you can use, the fuels you can put in it, the height of your chimney and even the location of the fireplace, in regard to nearby vegetation or buildings. Installing an outdoor fireplace without checking this first could result in fines or possibly even having to remove the fireplace entirely.

Ready to Build?

Now that you have a better idea of what you’ll need, are you ready to find someone to build or install an outdoor fireplace for you? Contact The Indigo Skye Team for recommendations on who can help you create the outdoor fireplace of your dreams.

How Much Do You Know About Down Payments?

How Much Do You Know About Down Payments?

 

Whether you’ve owned a home before, or you’re ready to jump into homeownership for the first time, there are always a lot of questions swirling around about what is truly required for a down payment, and how to best source down payment assistance. Let’s tackle these two today.

1. How much do you really need for a down payment?

There is a long-standing misconception about down payment requirements. A survey from Fannie Mae shows only 17% of consumers know the minimum options are actually between 1 – 5% of the purchase price and 40% don’t know how much they need at all.

There are many mortgage loans available that require as little as 3% down for first-time buyers, and some ask for only 3.5% down from repeat buyers. There are even loans available for Veterans that provide 0% down payment options too.

We’ve mentioned recently that you don’t need to come up with a 20% down payment to buy, and we’ve also shared how quickly you can save for a 3% or 10% down payment, depending on where you live. If you’re planning to put down just 3%, the research shows it may be possible in most states to have enough saved for a down payment in less than a year. That puts homeownership in a much closer reach for many potential buyers, maybe even you!

2. How can I get help with my down payment?

Regardless of the loans available, many buyers still need assistance with a down payment. The great news is, there are a lot of ways to tap into down payment assistance options. Here are just a couple of them:

Assistance from Family Members

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) said, “a third of recent first-time buyers received down payment assistance from family members.” They also mentioned, “the average net worth of those aged 75 and over stands at $264,800…They just might offer the boost the next generation needs to become homeowners.

That means one of the ways to find help with a down payment is to accept a gift from a family member. If this is an option for you, make sure you talk to your loan officer before you accept the money, to ensure you document the process the way it is required by your loan. This way, it will be received properly and you can still potentially qualify.

Down Payment Assistance Programs

The reality is, not everyone has a loved one or a family member who can provide help with a down payment. There are, however, more than 2,500 down payment assistance programs available (by local areas like city, county, or neighborhood), and some of them are even specifically for first-time buyers.

The gap, as mentioned in the same survey, is “only 23% of consumers are familiar with low down payment programs.”

That’s why it is so important to get familiar with these options by doing your homework before you plan to buy a home. Determine what is available in the area where you ultimately want to live, so you have all the details you need to take advantage of the down payment assistance option that is best for your family.

Bottom Line

If buying a home is one of your long-term goals, you may be able to get there sooner than you think by tapping into one of the many down payment assistance programs available. Contact The Indigo Skye Group for more information to help you get started.

How to Judge the Impact of the Next Economic Slowdown on Housing

We’ve experienced economic growth for almost a decade, which is the longest recovery in the nation’s history. Experts know a recession can’t be too far off, but when will this economic slowdown actually occur?

Pulsenomics just released a special report revealing that nearly 6 out of 10 of the 90 economists, investment strategists, and market analysts surveyed believe the next recession will occur by the end of next year. Here’s the breakdown:

  • 9% believe a recession will occur this year
  • 50% believe it will occur in 2020
  • 35% believe it will occur in 2021
  • 6% believe it will occur after 2021

When asked what would trigger the next recession, the three most common responses by those surveyed were:

  1. Trade Policy
  2. Stock Market Correction
  3. Geopolitical Crisis

How might the recession impact real estate?

Challenges in the housing and mortgage markets were major triggers of the last recession. However, a housing slowdown ranked #9 on the list of potential triggers for the next recession, behind such possibilities as fiscal policy and political gridlock.

As far as the impact the recession may have on home values, the experts surveyed indicated home prices would continue to appreciate over the next few years. They called for a 4.1% appreciation rate this year, 2.8% in 2020, and 2.5% in 2021.

Bottom Line

On the same day, in the same survey, the same experts who forecasted a recession happening within the next 18 months also claimed housing will not be the trigger, and home values will still continue to appreciate.