Great News for Renters Who Want to Buy a Home!

For many renters, the dream of owning a home seems like just that—a dream. And with rental rates rising in recent years, saving for a down payment while continuing to pay more and more in rent has become almost impossible. But there’s good news on the horizon for would-be buyers!

Stable Rental Rates Mean More Savings for Future Buyers!

renters saving to buy a home

Recent studies from four major rent indices indicate that rental rates could be stabilizing in the near future… after years of constant increases. That means renters who’ve struggled to find extra money to set aside for a down payment may once again be able to contribute to a savings account.

Rents have been soaring in past years

increasing rental rates

Despite a rise in buyer demand and new construction homes, rental markets across the US have remained extremely competitive over the past handful of years. Vacancy rates are low, which has caused rents to climb at steep rates—soaring from a national average just around $1,300 to over $1,600 between 2012 and today.

Leveling rental rates are in the forecast

renters searching for a house

Four major rent indices—Zillow Rent Index, RENTCafe, CoreLogic, and The Apartment List National Rent Report—all predict there could be a much-needed slowdown in the rise of rent prices. In fact, all four have already shown a definite slowing in the increase of rental rates.

Spend less, save more

saving for a down payment

If you’ve been dreaming of leaving the rental life behind and buying a home of your own, good news is on the horizon. With rental rates stabilizing, you might not find yourself handing over the majority of your paycheck to your landlord—leaving you with more room to put aside money for your down payment.

Dreaming of Buying in the Triangle?

Have you been thinking of buying a home in the Triangle of North Carolina? Linda Craft & Team is here to help! With over 350 years of combined real estate experience, we’ve got what it takes to ensure you find the right home at the right price in the right location! Give us a call and let’s get started.

3 Reasons to Get Pre-Approved Before Buying a Home

If you’re thinking of investing in real estate, you might be wondering exactly where you should be starting your homebuying journey. Is it with a home search? A real estate agent? An open house? Actually, the answer might surprise you: it’s with getting pre-approved.

Get Pre-Approved, Start Your Homebuying Journey

get pre-approved with a local lender

It’s no secret: real estate is competitive in today’s day and age, especially in a hot market like the Triangle. For buyers, that means you’ve got to be prepared if you want to be able to beat out the competition for your dream home. And that’s where getting pre-approved comes into play.

Here are three reasons to get pre-approved before you start searching.

You know what you can borrow

Getting “pre-approved” essentially involves allowing a lender to take an in-depth look at your finances—your credit, income, savings, debt, and a few other things. One of the major advantages to taking this step is that you’ll learn exactly how much a mortgage broker or bank is willing to lend you, which in turn helps determine how much home you can actually afford.

You gain a competitive advantage

get pre-approved to get an advantage

Getting pre-approved isn’t just for your own benefit; it actually can make a big difference to sellers, too. When you submit an offer on a home, you’ll include your official pre-approval letter, which shows sellers that you’re serious about buying—and you can put your money where your mouth is.

You accelerate the homebuying process

closing on a loan

Pre-approval can also speed up the overall mortgage approval process. To get pre-approved, you’ve got to submit a decent amount of paperwork, and your lender runs your credit and checks for red flags. So by the time you make an offer on a home, most of the heavy lifting has already been done—leaving a lot less to worry about during the final stages.

Bonus: This can also be very appealing to sellers hoping to close on a tight timeline!

Getting Pre-Approved Is the First Step to Buying!

Getting pre-approved for a loan should definitely be your first step to buying! Need help finding a good lender in the Triangle area? Linda Craft & Team can help! We’d love to put our 350+ combined years of experience to work for you. Contact us today to learn more about what we can do for your real estate goals.

4 Easy, Low-Budget Projects Buyers Will Love

If you’re getting ready to sell your Raleigh home, you don’t have to spend a lot of money to impress buyers. In fact, making just a few small changes can have a lasting impact and help you secure a sale. Here are four easy, low-budget projects you can do on your own—and buyers will love the results!

Updating Hardware and Fixtures

Faucet with running water

Does your kitchen feel a little drab? Is your bathroom still stuck in the 1990s? You probably don’t have to undertake an entire renovation to bring your space into the new decade—adding some updated hardware and fixtures just might do the trick! Today’s buyers are looking for modern yet timeless finishes, so oil-rubbed bronze, brushed nickel, or matte black are all great choices.

Start by checking out your light fixtures, faucets, or shower heads. Do they look dingy, worn, or out of style? If you’ve tackled a few DIY projects in the past, you can probably update them yourself. For an even easier change, try replacing the pulls on your cabinets—it only costs a few dollars.

Adding Some Fresh Paint

Paint roller

Adding a fresh coat of paint is an easy (and inexpensive!) way to update a room, but it’s crucial to choose the right color to enhance your space. While you might love bright hues or eye-catching wallpapers, buyers may feel differently. When in doubt, it’s best to go with a more neutral shade instead of something bold.

However, just because you’re repainting your home with more subdued tones doesn’t mean you’re limited to white or beige. In fact, grays, pale pink, light sage, and even steel blue are all considered “new neutrals.” It’s okay to experiment with a little bit of color, but be sure to ask your agent for a second opinion.

Maximizing Your Storage Space

An organized closet

Dedicated storage space is one of the most highly sought-after features in today’s market—and buyers are willing to pay a premium for it. Even if your home doesn’t have a lot of storage, you can still enhance what you already have with a few small tweaks.

Buyers often prioritize laundry rooms, closets, and pantries, so it’s best to focus on these spaces if you have them. First, start by decluttering and cleaning your storage areas to maximize every square inch. Adding some shelves, woven baskets, or wall-mounted organizers can create even more storage, too.

Improving Your Curb Appeal

Front porch with a plant

Want to make a great first impression? Don’t forget to update the exterior of your home, too! It’s crucial to wow buyers from the moment they drive up to your home—if they don’t like what they see on the outside, they might never make it inside.

If you want to up your curb appeal, start by taking a look at your home from the street. Do you see any peeling paint, cracked walkways, or overgrown bushes? These are all repairs that you can tackle during a free afternoon, and you won’t even have to enlist the help of a pro. For a really simple fix, try adding a potted plant or a new welcome mat to your porch.

Are You Ready to List?

Selling your home is no easy task…unless you have the right real estate pro on your side! We’re always here to help you navigate the selling process from start to finish, and we have plenty of staging resources to get your home looking its best. Feel free to reach out to Linda Craft & Team, REALTORS® with any questions and let us know if you’re ready to take your next steps.

Does “Aging in Place” Make the Most Sense?

Many homeowners nearing retirement age face a tough choice: to sell or to stay? For some, the decision is pretty easy—they’ve had their hearts set on Florida living or their empty nest is just way too much to care for. Plus, there are all kinds of interesting new 55+ and Active Adult communities out there. But for others, the thought of “aging in place” has more than a little appeal.

Aging in Place Certainly Has Its Benefits

happy seniors aging in place

If you’ve lived in your current home for a long time, the thought of moving might be more than a little daunting. You’ve likely accumulated a lot of personal belongings over those years (and if you have kids, there’s probably a whole lot more). Plus, you’ve made some good memories in your place, and you’ve grown comfortable not just with the home, but with your neighborhood, your neighbors, and your area.

So, the question is, why would you leave?

The Downsides to Aging in Place

an older home with a large backyard

Aging in place might be convenient—at least for now—but convenience is hardly your only worry when considering keeping your home after retirement. A recent report from the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University (JCHS) notes that 80% of homeowners aged 65+ live in detached single-family homes, the majority of which are at least 40 years old. And there are a few problems that come with an older home!

Older homes require more maintenance

repairing the roof

If your home is getting on in years, it’s likely in need of a little maintenance. And as you age, tackling those maintenance projects might not be as simple as they once were! You might find yourself calling for outside help on even small fixes—and that can start to add up. Not to mention that those larger repairs (think: a new HVAC system or roof) can definitely put a dent in your retirement.

Your home might be too large

an unused bedroom when aging in place

When you bought your home, how many people were in your household? If you had a couple of kids in tow, odds are, you’ve got a few extra bedrooms that aren’t doing much more than collecting dust. And while another room or two might not seem like much (as long as you don’t mind a little extra dusting), you shouldn’t overlook the extra expense of heating and cooling that extra space you’re not using.

Your home might not fit your needs

sitting in the backyard

Even if you don’t have kids, your needs when you first bought your home likely aren’t the same as they are now. You might’ve wanted a large yard with a pool or an out-of-the-way upstairs bedroom. But as you age, it might be more difficult to maintain that lawn, and climbing stairs could start to become a hassle.

Even the location might not be ideal anymore if you chose your spot to be close to schools, parks, or work.

What about renovations?

considering home renovations

Instead of selling their homes, many owners make aging in place more doable by remodeling—converting two bedrooms into a massive master suite, downgrading lawn maintenance with paving stones—but extensive alterations come with their own set of pros and cons.

For one, they’re expensive. For another, there’s really only so much you can change about a home, even with major renovations. And lastly, if you do eventually end up selling the home, odds are, you’re not going to recoup the same value you put into those alterations. In fact, you could even reduce the value by combining bedrooms!

So, Bottom Line: To Stay or Sell?

The bottom line about aging in place is one that’s not so unique in real estate—it really depends on the situation! For some homeowners, keeping your current home is the right move. For others, relocating or downsizing might be a more viable option. Either way, it’s important to carefully consider all your options, as well as the pros and cons of each.

Not sure which move is best for you? Ask us! Linda Craft and Team has over 350 years of combined real estate experience, so we’re pretty good at clearing up questions and concerns. And if you do decide to sell or downsize, we’re more than happy to put our expertise to work for you!

4 Tips to Ace Your First Home Purchase

If you ask a homeowner what it was like to buy their first home, they’ll probably mention a few things they’d change if they could do it all again. While it’s impossible to know everything about the home-buying process beforehand, you can still prepare yourself for what lies ahead—and figure out how to avoid some potential pitfalls. Not sure where to begin? Here are some key pointers to keep in mind before starting your search.

You’re Buying More Than a House

Neighborhood

We all know the phrase “love at first sight,” and it can certainly apply to homes, too! Even if you step inside a home and instantly fall in love, it’s crucial to step back and consider the whole picture before making a purchase.

When you buy your first property, you’re investing in more than just four walls. It’s worth paying attention to things like a home’s location, neighborhood, and physical condition, too. Even if you find that open concept kitchen you’ve been dreaming of, it might not be the right fit if it’s in the wrong community or if the rest of the house requires out-of-budget repairs. It’s best to stay realistic and listen to your agent’s (and home inspector’s) advice. Remember, this is likely one of the biggest investments you’ll ever make, so spend your money wisely!

Down Payments Are Different for Everyone

Piggy bank and house figure

So many would-be buyers are scared of homeownership for one reason: the down payment. Traditionally, you’d put down around 20% on a home and spend anywhere from 10 to 30 years paying your lender back. However, you actually have more flexibility than you might expect.

Depending on your credit history, location, and occupation, you could be eligible for loans that require as little as 0% down. However, making a larger down payment means you’ll pay less interest to your lender in the long run. Be sure to shop around for the right fit and reach out to your agent with any questions—they’re always available to help you out.

Prepare for Extra Expenses

House fund coin jar

Homeownership often comes with unexpected expenses, especially right after you move in. When you’re setting a budget for your big purchase, consider adding some wiggle room to allow for any additional and long term costs. You don’t want to realize that you can’t afford your home after you’ve purchased it!

Wondering what kinds of expenses can come up? Inspections, homeowner’s insurance, prepaid taxes and other various closing costs, HOA dues, and repairs are just a few possibilities. You’ll pay for some of these before or at the closing, but certain recurring costs will have to be factored into your monthly budget.

Get Pre-Approved Before You Start Searching

Tax forms with phone and coffee cup

Once you’ve made the decision to buy, it’s tempting to start looking at listings right away. However, you might want to press pause and complete an essential step before you start scheduling showings. Getting pre-approved for your loan will show sellers and agents that you’re serious about buying—and it can tell you exactly how much you can afford to spend.

Ready to start the pre-approval process? First, you’ll want to get your finances in order and shop around for the right lender. Be sure to have all of your important documents on hand, such as your W-2 tax form, paystubs, and social security card. Most lenders allow you to apply online, and within a few business days, you’ll know whether you’ve been approved or not, as well as the conditions of the loan.

Are You a First-Time Buyer?

Buying your first home is a big deal, and it’s important to have the right agent by your side throughout the process. If you’re ready to start your search, feel free to reach out to Linda Craft & Team, REALTORS® with any questions. We can’t wait to help jumpstart your journey to homeownership!

Housing Inventory Is Vanishing. Here’s How It Impacts You.

Real estate predictions for 2020 are looking pretty positive: interest rates sit at historic lows, prices are strong but stable, and demand is high. But there is one challenge to this optimistic outlook, and it’s a shortage of housing inventory.

Housing Inventory Is Shrinking

housing inventory in Raleigh

Inventory—the number of homes for sale, that is—isn’t just low. It’s actually shrinking. A recent report by Move.com shows that 2020 began with the lowest number of homes for sale in two years, thanks to the market’s largest year-over-year inventory decline in almost three years.

The US is now at its lowest inventory level since January 2018. But… what, exactly, does that mean for you?

For Buyers: Patience & preparation are essential.

searching housing inventory in raleigh

For a buyer, a decline in inventory isn’t really in your favor, though it certainly doesn’t mean that you can’t find a good home. You just might need to have a bit more patience and be ready to move forward quickly. Reduced inventory means a more competitive market, so getting preapproved is absolutely essential if you want to be able to make a competitive offer.

The good news is that once you buy a home, you’ll start building instant equity on it, thanks to the rising demand.

For Sellers: You’re in the driver’s seat.

selling a home in raleigh

A shortage of homes, plus increased buyer demand, definitely puts sellers in an advantageous position when it comes to negotiations. However, it’s important to understand that having the upper hand doesn’t mean you can start making unreasonable demands.

Why Is Inventory So Low, Anyway?

millennials buying a home

Why the plummeting numbers? The main reason is that many millennials are reaching an age, and a place in life, where they’re ready to enter the housing market. In fact, close to 4.8 million millennials will reach the age of 30 this year! And at the same time, older generations are choosing to remain in their homes for longer periods of time, rather than sell and downsize or relocate.

The Bottom Line

Despite the low number of homes for sale, the real estate outlook for 2020 is very optimistic. And whether you’re buying or selling, being prepared and knowing what to expect is essential to finding success in your endeavors.

Another big key to success? Finding a fantastic local real estate team to represent you! Here are Linda Craft & Team, REALTORS®, we have over 350 years combined experience, and we’ll put every minute of it to work for you! Contact us to learn more about what we can do for you.

4 Challenges That Come with Marketing Your Own Home

If you’re looking to list your home this year, we have some good news—2020 is forecasted to be a seller’s market, which means most properties will sell quickly and for a higher price than normal. Although buyers are scrambling to find somewhere to settle down, even the most desirable homes still need some marketing to attract a broader audience.

Thinking about selling without the help of an agent? Here are four challenges you might not have thought about—and why you should probably consider working with a pro instead.

Reaching Out to Buyers

Laptop and phone

Real estate is always evolving, and nowadays, most homebuyers are using the internet, apps, and more to do their research before scheduling an in-person tour. That means if you want to reach an even broader audience, you’ll have to look further than just Zillow. With so many new platforms to choose from, It’s hard to know where to promote your listing—but working with an agent will open the door to even more options (and mean less work for you!).

Not sure where to start? Working with a licensed real estate expert will give you access to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), which is the number one way that buyers search for homes. The right agent will reach out to their broad network of contacts, host open houses, take advantage of social media, and feature your home on top real estate apps.

Taking Professional Photos

Man holding a camera

Now that we’ve entered the digital age of real estate, it’s essential to get your space looking its best on a screen. Wondering how to make an unforgettable first impression? High-quality listing photos can help lure buyers into your home, especially if you highlight its best features.

Although smartphone cameras have come a long way, they still can’t hold a candle to the power of a professional photographer. If you want a picture-perfect listing, working with a pro is the way to go—they’ll use the right angles and lighting to make your home appear bigger and brighter. Agents can even create virtual tours and take aerial photographs, which allow buyers to get an in-depth look at your home from the comfort of their couch.

Perfecting Your Listing

Women using a computer

Want to craft a flawless listing? It’s not as easy as you might think. Most buyers prioritize price, square footage, and the number of bedrooms and bathrooms—and you should include all of these in your home’s description. However, there’s more to it than just mentioning the basics.

Because many buyers preview homes online first, a good description will set your listing apart from the rest. Highlighting special features, such as outdoor entertaining space or custom cabinets, will have potential buyers falling in love at first sight. If writing isn’t your forte, you might want to consider turning to an agent instead. They’ve probably crafted hundreds of listings in your area, so they’ll know how to appeal to prospective buyers.

Pricing Right the First Time

House figure with coin stacks and alarm clock

No matter how well you market your listing, even the most beautiful homes can linger on the market if they aren’t priced correctly. Unless you have plenty of real estate experience under your belt, you could end up making a costly mistake by setting a price without the help of a specialist. If you list too low, you risk losing hard-earned equity—but asking too much will drive buyers away.

If you’re feeling a little lost, you might want to let a professional crunch the numbers for you. The right agent will be familiar with what other homes are selling for in your area, and they’ll be able to figure out how you stack up against the competition.

Take Your Next Steps

Are you ready to team up with an agent and take the hassle out of selling? Let us do the heavy lifting for you! We believe there’s no such thing as too many questions, so feel free to reach out to Linda Craft & Team, REALTORS® to learn more about navigating the selling process, as well as our effective marketing strategies.

3 Selling Mistakes to Avoid in 2020

Selling your home is a big personal decision—after all, you’ll be letting go of memories in your old home and looking forward to more experiences in a new one. But it’s also important to not let your emotional attachments get in the way of what is, bottom line, a huge financial decision. Your home is likely one of the largest financial investments you’ll ever make, and it’s crucial to treat it as such. Here are three common selling mistakes to avoid when listing a home in 2020.

Overpricing your home

avoiding selling mistakes when pricing

Even in a high-demand low-inventory market like we’re experiencing in the Triangle right now, it’s important not to overprice your home. You might find a buyer willing to pay your price—and still end up in trouble after the appraisal. Remember, a bank isn’t going to lend a buyer more money than a home is worth, so if you overprice, you might wind up renegotiating.

Don’t let your love for your home cloud your judgement. Ask an experienced professional to accurately value your home.

Letting your emotions interfere

selling mistakes include emotional attachment

If you’re like the average American homeowner, you’ve probably been in your home about ten years (or more), and that means you’ve likely made some memories (good and bad) and shared a lot of experiences with loved ones while you’ve been there. It’s natural to have an emotional attachment to your house, but it’s important not to let that inhibit your sale.

Don’t let your love for your home get in the way of pricing, negotiating, or even staging and showing your home.

Not staging your home

selling your home with staging

Your home likely has a specific “look”—a color scheme, a certain type of furniture or style of decor, or maybe just that warm lived-in look of kids’ art and friendly clutter. You’ve grown to love it (or at least, you’re used to it), but don’t make the mistake of thinking that all your buyers will, too.

When selling a home, it’s highly beneficial to remove some of the “you” from your living spaces, giving them a lived-in yet impersonal look. This allows buyers to picture their own personalizations.

Avoid Selling Mistakes with Us!

If you want to make 2020 the year you sell your home for top dollar, Linda Craft & Team, REALTORS® is here to help! With our combined 350+ years of experience, we’ll ensure you price your home correctly, stage it beautifully, and keep your emotions out of the equation.

2020 Real Estate Projections That Might Surprise You

The new year brings with it a number of big events—a presidential election and talks of a possible recession, to name a few—and that means predicting the real estate market is a bit challenging. What the experts have to say might surprise you.

Here are some interesting 2020 real estate projections.

Mortgage Rates Will Stay Stable

2020 mortgage rates

Experts at the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac predict relatively stable mortgage rates throughout 2020. Freddie Mac and NAR forecast slightly higher rates of 3.8%, while Fannie Mae suggests numbers could drop as low as 3.5%.

Just a note: These rates are pretty incredible, especially when compared to rates over the past few decades. For example, the 1970s saw rates around 8.86%, while in the 80s, rates soared to over 12%.

Home Sales Will Increase

increased sales in 2020 real estate

Of the four expert groups mentioned above, three predict that home sales in 2020 will increase compared to 2020, while Freddie Mac calls for consistent sales. Since mortgage rates are expected to stay low, buyer demand will also remain stable or even increase, driving home sales in the new year.

Home Values Will Increase

increased value in 2020 real estate

All four expert groups (plus two more) agree: home values in 2020 will continue to grow, though there’s a bit of variation in how much those values will grow. MBA predicts only a 3.1% increase, while CoreLogic calls for as much as a 5.4% increase in values. Closer to the middle, Fannie Mae suggests a 4.1% climb.

What About a Recession?

The big question on many buyers’ minds: Is a recession possible in 2020? The answer is of course that we can’t be sure. In early 2019, a large percentage of economists predicted a recession in 2020, but the economy has remained strong heading into 2020, so many are starting to rethink this forecast. In fact, Goldman Sachs anticipates only a 20% probability of a recession over the next year.

The Bottom Line: 2020 Real Estate Looks Promising

Whether you’re thinking of buying or selling a home in 2020, projections seem to be in your favor! For buyers, mortgage rates are historically low, which means increased affordability—even as prices climb. And rising home values are good for both buyers and sellers in terms of equity.

Are you thinking of buying or selling a home in the Triangle area? Work with Linda Craft & Team, REALTORS®—we’ll put our 350+ years of combined real estate experience to work for YOU.

Have You Outgrown Your Home? What to Do When It’s Time to Move On

As years go by, our priorities naturally change. Perhaps your household size has increased or decreased, or you’ve seriously downsized your number of possessions. Whatever the circumstances might be, it is important that your home matches your current needs.

It may see tough to initially admit that you are ready to make such a significant change, but the good news is, we are here to help you figure out the next steps when it’s time to move on.

Now’s the Time to Sell

Sell your Triangle home.

If you are in the market to sell, then there’s even more good news for you: now is the perfect time. According to the most recent Home Price Insights report from CoreLogic, home prices have gone up by 3.5% year-over-year. Not only that, but research from the National Association of Realtors found that housing inventory has dropped by 4.3% since just last year.

This is not just a coincidence—these two trends are closely related. As overall inventory has decreased, demand has only increased, which has caused a surge in housing prices. By selling now, you stand to make a much higher profit than you would if you choose to wait!

Beginning Your Home Search

Starting your Triangle home search.

Of course, once you sell your home, you will have to revisit the home search process, perhaps for the first time in years (or maybe even decades!). Since the motivation behind selling your home is to find one that is more appropriate, then you should be sure to put plenty of careful thought into your decision.

Luckily, the Linda Craft Team can help! Get started by using our specialized search tool to narrow down your options based on everything from price and size to features and location. Once you’ve sorted out your wants and needs (and maybe even found a few options), give us a call. We’d love to use our database to find any homes in the Triangle area that fit your priorities!

Navigating the Home-Buying Process

Two people shaking hands.

There is much more to the buying process than just searching—but we’ll be around to help every step of the way. Wondering what your options are, from luxury to new construction? Check out our listings for each. Need a little help with the moving process? We’d be more than happy to send you our free guide on relocating to the Triangle area!

Whether you need help finding your perfect neighborhood or have a few questions about the mortgage process, you’ll find that we have a resource for your every home-buying need around the Triangle.

Ready to Find Your New Triangle Home?

Don’t settle for a home that doesn’t fit your lifestyle—make today the day that you being your new journey. When you work with Linda Craft & Team, REALTORS® , we’ll put our over 350 years of combined real estate experience to work, whether it’s netting top dollar on your home sale or finding your dream home for a dream price.

Take some time to browse what we have to offer. Ready to get started? We’re just a phone call away!