Find Out Why More Than Half of Buyers are Wrong About Down Payments

True or false: if you’re buying a home, you need to have at least a 20% down payment? If you answered true, you aren’t alone—so did 62% of Americans.

But in reality, that couldn’t be further from the truth—and you don’t have put off your home-buying dreams just because you can’t come up with 20% down!

While a 20% down payment will help you avoid private mortgage insurance (PMI), it isn’t some sort of home-buying hurdle that you must clear in order to buy. In fact, it’s far from the most common amount that U.S. buyers put down!

Here’s the truth about down payments—and why you shouldn’t let that 20% number prevent you from reaching your buying goals.

The Truth about Down Payments

A piggy bank standing against a white background.

According to NerdWallet’s 2019 Home Buyer Report, around 6 in 10 Americans think you need a 20% down payment in order to buy a house. Because of this, they also tend to think that it takes several years to come up with the necessary funds for buying.

Unfortunately, this way of thinking unnecessarily postpones plenty of people’s home-buying dreams!

The truth? The most common down payment amount—put forward by around 32% of buyers—was just 5% or less. Put that in terms of concrete amounts, and it translates to just $7,500 on a $150,000 home or $15,000 on a $300,000 home.

Other Common Down Payment Amounts

A single dollar bill sitting on a wooden surface.

While 5% or less is the most common down payment amount, it’s still just one of the many options that buyers choose. Here’s how the rest of the numbers break down:

  • 16% of buyers put down 6 – 10%
  • 23% of buyers put down 11 – 20%
  • 18% of buyers put down more than 20%
  • 10% of buyers bought their home outright

A 20% down payment is a great goal, but you don’t have to feel locked into that amount! Instead, consider how much money you’d feel comfortable with putting down, then work from there.

Buyers are Optimistic

A woman packing up her home and writing on a cardboard box.

Despite prevailing misconceptions about down payments, buyers are still feeling optimistic about the market. Around 42% of Americans feel better about their home-buying prospects this year, which is up almost 20% from last year.

Additionally, 44% of people say that the current economic and political conditions make them more likely to buy in the next year, which is around a 10% increase from last year.

Long story short? Now’s a great time to buy!

Find Your Dream Triangle Home

Buying a home is major step, so it’s important that you have trusted and experienced professionals on your side. At Linda Craft & Team REALTORS®, we have over 300 years of combined real estate experience, making us well-equipped to provide you with everything you need to find home-buying success.

Take some time to explore our resources for home-buyers, learn a little more about what our past clients have to say, and use our specialized search tool to narrow down your options. Once you’re ready to get started, we’d love to talk details!

The Top 5 Exterior Areas to Fix up Before Listing Your Home this Fall

You’ve probably heard that spring and summer are the best times to sell your home, and we’ll be honest: they do have their perks. But with mortgage rates remaining low and motivated buyers steadily flowing into the market, this fall is shaping up to be a pretty profitable selling season.

If you’re gearing up to list your home soon, then you’ll need to pay extra attention to your outdoor areas. Here are the top five spaces to give a little TLC to before you sell!

The Lawn

An old rake leaning against the wall of a home.

Once you’ve raked up the leaves, you might think your lawn is all taken care of. But there’s much more to fall lawn care than bagging up leaves! If temperatures haven’t majorly dropped by the time you list, you’ll need to keep mowing your lawn—it’ll continue growing until the first hard frost.

If you’ve got a few bare spots in your yard, fall is also the perfect time for over-seeding! Since the ground is relatively warm but the sun isn’t quite as powerful as in the summer, growing conditions are better than ever. Just be sure you’re providing your lawn with plenty of water, and those sparse spots should start to fill in.

The Garden

Pumpkins and gourds sitting on a table.

Since you’re planning a move, you probably don’t want to start planting new veggies, but there are other ways to give your garden a fresh look. First, you’ll want to make sure all of your leftover plants from spring and summer are cleared out, and your plot is weed-free. Once that’s taken care of, it’s time for the fun part!

Picked up a few pumpkins or gourds from the farmers’ market? Set them out near your doorstep. Need a home for a scarecrow or two? Give them a perch on either side of the garden. You can fill in any blank space with potted plants like mums or sunflowers or a decorative holiday banner!

The Roof 

Leaves in a gutter.

With trees shedding leaves and dead branches, you’ve probably got a decent amount of brush and foliage dotting your roof. Now’s the time to pull out the ladder and do a clean sweep. Plus, it’s the perfect chance to get a look at the condition of your shingles and see if any need replacing!

While you’re up there, be sure to sweep out your gutters, as well. There’s a good chance the extra debris has them more clogged up than usual, which could lead to flooding or exterior damage. Clearing them out will prevent any issues, and show buyers that you go the extra mile in maintaining your home.

The Porch

Fall decor including a wreath, potted plants, and gourds, all placed around a small bench.

The crowning glory of your home’s exterior, the porch should act as the first taste of what the inside of the home has to offer. You want to strike the perfect balance between warm and welcoming and clean and clutter-free!

First, take care of spiffing the space up by sweeping the floors, ringing out the welcome mat, and dusting off any outdoor furniture. If you have one too many chairs or a crowded collection of potted plants, you should remove some of the clutter.

Then, add a little character! Put a few pumpkins by door, set out a scented candle or two, swap out your porch light for a warmer wattage, and update your throw pillows—just be careful not to overdo it. Since your porch space is likely relatively small, a little goes a long way.

The Front Door

A welcome sign and a small wreath on a white front door.

It’s only a small portion of your exterior, but if you play your cards right, your front door can be one of the most eye-catching parts of your home. Nothing draws attention like a fresh coat of paint, so you should consider picking a shade that pops and matches your siding—like a warm red or a bold blue. At the very least, you should use furniture wax or dish soap to scrub out the dinginess.

Once you’ve revamped your door, it’s time to accessorize! Since it’s fall, you should be able to easily find a seasonal wreath to hang. If you really want to go the extra mile, think about replacing your house number or knocker with some shiny new hardware.

Need a Few More Tips?

If you want to make sure your home is staged to impress—in all areas—then we can help. In addition to our home-staging resources, we’d also be more than happy to do a walkthrough of your home and recommend a few personalized decor suggestions or DIY improvements.

From helping you stage to navigating closing, we’ll be there to help you through the selling process, every step of the way. Whenever you’re ready to get started, we’re just a phone call away!

Your Latest Course in Homebuying: The 5 Acronyms You Need to Know

You might think that since you’ve put some distance between now and high school and college, your days of memorizing vocabulary and learning new definitions is long gone. But if you’re buying a home, then you’re going to want to dust off those skills and start studying up.

Real estate comes with its own confusing jargon, and knowing what each term means makes you all-the-more prepared to tackle the process. Here are the top five homebuying acronyms that you should add to your vocabulary!

APR

Calculator

APR, or annual percentage rate, represents the annual cost of borrowing money based on your loan amount, interest rate, and other specific fees. The calculations for APR are a little confusing, but there are plenty of online calculators that can help you figure out what the number might look like for you!

FRM

FRM stands for fixed-rate mortgage, which is one of the most common types of mortgage. Luckily, this one pretty much means what it sounds like: with FRM, your interest rate will not change during the entire term of your loan.

DTI

A credit card.

One of the most important aspects of your finances that a lender looks at is your DTI, or debt-to-income ration. Your DTI is calculated by measuring your total monthly income against your total monthly debt payments. Ideally, you’d want to have around a 36% DTI.

PMI

If you can’t afford a 20% down payment, you’ll have to pay PMI, or private mortgage insurance. This acts as an added safeguard for lenders who work with you by ensuring that they’ll be protected from losses if you default on loan payments. Once you’ve paid off around 80% of your home, you’ll no longer have to pay PMI.

P & I

People at a bank.

P & I is just a fancy way of saying principal and interest, which are the portions of your monthly mortgage payment that go towards paying off the money you borrowed to purchase your home.

Ace Your Real Estate Experience

Of course, these five acronyms aren’t the only ones that’ll come up during your buying journey—but we’ll be around to make sure you can handle any other letter combinations that get thrown your way.

At Linda Craft & Team, REALTORS®, we’ve been working in the Raleigh real estate world for years, and we’d be more than happy to leverage our experience to your benefit. Get to know a little more about what we bring to the table, explore our resources for buyers, and give us a call when you’re ready to get started!

The Biggest Reasons Why Homeowners are Happy… and Renters Aren’t

Coffee or tea? Cake or pie? Rent or buy? Life is full of big questions—some a little harder to answer than others. But in the case of renting versus buying, there are a few big reasons why ownership still wins the battle.

Thinking about making the jump from renting to owning? Here’s how your life might change.

Does Owning Make You Happier than Renting?

A family with pets.

That’s the big question posed by the most recent Bank of America Homebuyer Insights Report. The answer? A resounding yes. In fact, out of the modern homebuyers interviewed, 93% of respondents said that owning a home made them happier than renting, and 83% said that they would never go back to renting after owning.

It doesn’t just end with happiness, though—79% of homeowners believe that buying their own property has changed them for the better and 88% say it’s the best decision they’ve ever made.

On the flip side, according to the latest Zillow Housing Aspirations Report, 45% of renters regret not buying, with the biggest reasons being lack of customization opportunities, high rent payments, and lack of private outdoor space.

The Effects of Owning a Home

A grandmother and granddaughter.

You hear a lot about the financial equity of owning a home, but Bank of America’s survey sought out information on the “emotional” equity of ownership—which brought up some interesting numbers.

When asked if they viewed the home as a place to make memories or a financial investment, more than half of respondents chose the former. After buying, more than 76% of people pursued new hobbies—including landscaping and gardening, cooking and baking, and interior design.

And it’s not just the individuals: family relationships also benefited. Homeownership allowed 49% of respondents to entertain more often and 24% to bring the entire family under one roof.

Current Homeowners versus Prospective Homeowners

A house.

If you’re still on the fence about buying a home, consider these numbers:

  • Time spent pursuing hobbies
    • Current homeowners: 82%
    • Prospective homeowners: 63%
  • The quality of social life
    • Current homeowners: 78%
    • Prospective homeowners: 58%
  • Financial well-being
    • Current homeowners: 77%
    • Prospective homeowners: 42%
  • Quality of life overall
    • Current homeowners: 88%
    • Prospective homeowners: 70%

Ready to Become a Homeowner?

Owning a home comes with a myriad of benefits—both financial and emotional. If you’re ready to take the leap into homeowning, then congratulations!

At Linda Craft & Team REALTORS ®, we’re dedicated to not only finding you the best Triangle-area home for your wants and needs, but also ensuring that your journey is seamless and stress-free. Browse some of the resources we have to offer our buyers, and use our specialized home search tool to narrow down your options. Once you’re ready to get started, just give us a call!

Here are 4 Tricks to Choosing a Neighborhood You’ll Love!

Aerial shot of neighborhood

If you’re thinking about buying a home, you’ve probably heard, “location, location, location!” on repeat. Finding the perfect city or town is one thing, but you’ll need to take it a step further.

The right neighborhood matters more than you think, so before you start your search, we have some tips to help you find the perfect spot!

Do Your Research

Man exploring neighborhoods on tablet

Before you start driving through prospective neighborhoods, you’ll want to do some research at home. Finding the right place to live can be time-consuming, but some quick online searches can help narrow down your options. Many agents also spotlight certain neighborhoods on their website and tend to offer more in-depth guides—as well as more listings and home-buying tips.

After doing your initial research, you’ve probably narrowed your list down to a few neighborhoods. Now it’s time to delve deeper and look at these places by the numbers. It’s worth looking at stats like crime rate, HOA fees, and average property taxes. You might want to start your search with sites like Neighborhood Scout and City-Data—these sites give you localized data on demographics, schools, and more.

Scope Out What’s Around

Man researching on laptop

While the actual neighborhood might seem perfect, what’s around matters a lot, too. Remember, you’re buying more than just a home—you’re finding a new place to thrive. If you’re looking for convenience, a community far-removed from amenities you love might not work. Be sure to take your commute into account, as well as the driving distance to places you frequent.

School districts also play a big factor in which area you choose, especially for your kids. Even if you don’t have children, home prices in good districts are consistently higher than others, so it’s still something you should take into account. Want the inside scoop? Compare options by looking up which schools serve a community and exploring their ratings on sites like Niche.com.

Take a Stroll

Couple walking around a downtown area

Now it’s time for some field research! Once you’ve picked some neighborhoods that seem like a good fit, go do some exploring—you’ll want to do more than just drive around, though. Get out of the car and take a stroll during different times of the day! This is a fantastic way to meet potential neighbors and see the condition of homes.

You’ll want to ask yourself some crucial questions during each visit. How well do residents maintain their homes? Do you see a lot of people outside, or does everyone seem to keep to themselves? Is there any common space or amenities you’ll want to use? This is the best way to picture yourself living in an area before actually committing to a home.

Narrow Down Your Options

Person listing out pros and cons in  a notebook.

If you don’t have a clear winner in your head after you visit each community, it’s time to down and weigh the pros and cons. You should also evaluate the market—there might not be a home for sale that suits your needs in the neighborhood you love, so consider all of your options. Maybe it’s best to wait until there’s a home you absolutely love!

If you have any other questions, be sure to reach out to  your local real estate professionals. They’ll use their expertise to help you make an informed decision, and can also show you spots you might have missed!

Ready to Find the Neighborhood of Your Dreams?

No matter where you are in your home search, Linda Craft & Team REALTORS ® would love to help make the process easier. We’ve got you covered, whether you’re still searching for the right community or are ready to look at homes. Give us a call today so we can chat—we can’t wait to get started!

Why Owning a Home is One of the Most Effective Saving Strategies

Over the past few months, we’ve talked a great deal about the benefits of owning a home—and why today’s market is one of the best windows to buy.

With a new set of numbers released on home equity, we’ve got another major reason why owning a home pays: it forces you to save, and in the process, those savings only appreciate.

It’s All About Equity

A jar of coins.

As you pay off your home, you start building up your equity—which is, in short, the difference between the current value of the home and what you still owe on the home. As your home appreciates in value and you chip away at the payments, your equity increases. Think of it as a “forced savings account.”

During the housing crisis and recession from 2006 to 2008, it was common for homeowners to dip into their equity and pull out money for other big ticket purchases, which ended up spelling major trouble for their personal finances.

Since your equity is technically an asset, it’s part of your net worth. The greater your equity, the greater your net worth, the better your chance of building future wealth.

The Latest Numbers

A person paying off their bills.

According to a recent report from CoreLogic, the average homeowner gained a staggering $65,000 in equity over the last 5 years. Not only that, but another study from the Urban Institute found that 37.1% of all homes in the country are totally mortgage-free. Of the remaining 63% of homes, about half of them have at least 50% equity—and that number is only going up.

Crunch the numbers, and you’ll find that just over 50% of all homes in the country have at least 50% equity. That means a whole lot of homeowners are continuing to pay into that “forced savings account” and are setting themselves up for major future wealth in the process.

The Importance of Equity

A house.

By building up your equity, you’re ensuring that you have a firm financial base to stand on in the future. It does, however, take time to accumulate. That’s why it’s important to take advantage of current market conditions, and begin your journey to increased equity.

Ready to Invest in Your Savings Account?

Buying a home now means building your equity sooner and ensuring a stable financial future. Now’s the time to jump in! If you’re ready to get started with the buying process, the Linda Craft & Team, REALTORS® is here to help. Take some time to browse our resources, use our specialized search tool to narrow down your options, and give us a call to get started.

6 Key Real Estate Graphs that You Need to See

No matter what capacity you’re entering the Triangle area real estate market in—whether it’s buying, selling, or investing—it’s crucial to be prepared. By knowing all of the latest numbers on mortgage rates, median sales price, and average days on the market, you can gain a major advantage over your competition!

Since we want to ensure that each and every one of our clients is well-equipped to reach their goals, we wanted to give you a quick snapshot at all of the trends you need to know.

Here are the top 6 real estate graphs that you should study up on.

The Strength of the Current Market

Key takeaways:

  • Keeping an eye on the current status of the housing market is one of the best ways to make powerful and confident decisions when buying or selling a home.
  • Mortgage rates remaining near historic lows and houses selling in an average of only 29 days are just two key elements driving the strength of today’s market.
  • With the national data shown here, make sure to also determine what’s happening in your local market so you are fully informed when you’re ready to make your next move.

Navigate the Market with Linda Craft & Team REALTORS®

At Linda Craft & Team REALTORS®, we know the ins and outs of the local and national real estate market—and we’re more than happy to share that knowledge with you. Whether you’re buying and looking for a little help or selling and hoping for top dollar, our track record of satisfied clients shows that we have what it takes to lead you to success.

Ready to get started? Feel free to give us a call!

Tiny Houses: How These Small Homes Have Made a Big Splash

Tiny houses parked with a bench and a tree.

You’ve seen the shows on HGTV, the brand new series on Netflix, the craze on sites like Pinterest and Instagram—tiny houses are all the rage. These smaller spaces come with gigantic opportunities—if you’re looking for an incredibly versatile and stylish home, you may want to look into one of the hottest housing trends of the past year. We’ve got all the details you need to understand the ins and outs of tiny homes—and maybe even buy your own.

What is a Tiny Home?

Tiny house on the lake

Less than 1,000 square feet and often towable, tiny homes allow their owners to be economical, environmentally-friendly, and enjoy life on the move.

These small abodes are built with an emphasis on organization and maximizing space. You’ll often see stairs repurposed into cabinets, smaller appliances, and loft areas for beds. However, many tiny homes are quite luxurious, with some featuring full sized appliances, bath tubs, and multiple floors. This is proof that “tiny” doesn’t necessarily mean bare bones!

An Inside Look at the Lifestyle

Tiny houses interior with windows, dog, and desk.

Where did tiny homes come from? Well, it turns out they aren’t just a recent trend—they’ve been around since the 1970s. The tiny house “movement” is becoming increasingly popular, especially due to shows on tiny house living and construction.

Many tiny home dwellers are fully committed to this unique lifestyle, but it takes some getting used to. The most difficult part is paring down what you own, as these tight spaces don’t come with the same amount of storage as a normal home.

However, you don’t have to give up everything you love. Many residents say that living in a tiny home allows them to tour the country and live without clutter. Additionally, a well-built tiny house will allow you to have plenty of space for privacy, hobbies, and even pets.

Discover Diverse Design Options

Tiny houses kitchen with woman drinking beverage

While tiny-home living might seem pretty straightforward, there are actually quite a few variations between homes.

One major option for tiny homes is towing ability. Having a towable tiny home means you can live wherever you’d like and move at any time, but a stationary tiny house is often larger and features more amenities like multiple floors and screened-in porches.

In addition, there are many different size variations and exterior designs to choose from. Some builders even make custom designs for each homeowner. Nowadays, tiny homes are even being built in shipping containers!

Are They Here to Stay?

Man, woman, and dog enjoying tiny houses

Tiny homes may seem like a trend, but the number of homes being built are on the rise. In 2017, the tiny home industry saw a 67% jump in sales, with numbers steadily increasing. Tiny homes also remain easy on the wallet despite rising home costs. On average, a tiny home can cost from $15,000 – $150,000, which is significantly lower than the average home cost of $218,000.

As millennials begin purchasing their first homes, tiny houses are becoming increasingly popular. This is because many millennial buyers are choosing smaller houses and prioritizing travel, making tiny homes the perfect mobile option. They’re also a terrific choice for downsizing after retirement.

Tiny homes don’t seem to be going anywhere, and as more and more people are embracing this unique way of living, tiny home designs are becoming even more elaborate. Even Amazon has started selling tiny homes, so you can order one with just a few clicks!

Ready to Make a Move?

Hand with key

No matter what kind of home you’re looking for, you’ll always need a real estate agent to help guide you through the process. Whether you’re buying or selling,  Linda Craft & Team REALTORS® have the resources you need to lighten your load.

Ready to make your move? Give us a call and let’s chat—we’d love to help you make your real estate dreams a reality!

Ace Your Real Estate Experience: A+ Reasons to Hire an Agent

In a lot of ways, buying and selling a home is like a test. You want to make sure you study up on all of the materials and have the right supplies before you get started.

But maybe most importantly, you want to make sure you have a teacher that can guide you through the material in a way that’s easy to understand and sets you up for success.

If you’re on the fence about hiring an agent to help you buy or sell your home, here are a few ways we can help you ace the process.

Decode Contracts

Paperwork.

During the real estate journey, you’re going to have to deal with a lot of paperwork. Sometimes it’ll be easy to understand, but other times, all of that jargon will probably look like a foreign language—especially if it’s your first time.

We’ll make sure you’ll know exactly what the papers say, why they’re necessary, and what they mean for you.

Breeze through Negotiations

People shaking hands across a table.

If you aren’t used to negotiating, then this step in buying or selling a home can be tough to handle—especially since you’ll be emotionally invested in the process.

When you work with an experienced realtor, we’ll act as a buffer between you and the other party. Not only will we work to get the best deal possible for your wants and needs, but we’ll also provide a level-headed perspective.

Understand Pricing

People pointing at a laptop screen.

If you’re selling your home, then finding the right price is the key to success. Price too low, and you won’t maximize your investment. Price too high, and you’ll miss out on buyers—and maybe even have to bring your price down.

Luckily, we can make sure you have the right price from the get-go. With our home valuation, we’ll take into account all of the local and national real estate trends, as well as any updates you’ve made to your property.

When it comes to buying, we can also help you figure out whether you’re getting a fair price for your purchase. The last thing you want to do is spend your hard-earned money on a home that isn’t worth it!

Translate Market Conditions

People in a meeting.

Did you know we’re in a period of nearly unprecedented drops in mortgage rates? That home prices have been steadily ticking up this year? That more and more millennial buyers are entering the market?

We know all about the intricate details that make up the market conditions. These details can help decide everything from how high you can price your home to how long it’ll sit on the market. Before you even list or start searching, we can breakdown what the current conditions mean for your experience.

Benefit from Experience

People getting keys to a home.

Above all, we know the ins and outs of buying and selling. We’ve been around the block more than a few times—after all, our team does have hundreds of years of combined experience in real estate—so we know exactly what it takes to be successful.

You might have other options when it comes to real estate professionals in the Triangle, but if you get to know a little more about our team, you’ll start to understand why our clients swear by us.

Don’t Flunk Your Real Estate Journey

If real estate is like a test, then we think we can help you ace it. At Linda Craft & Team REALTORS®, we have years of experience with buying and selling homes in Raleigh—meaning we know exactly how to handle whatever the market throws at us.

Take some time to explore our resources, whether you’re buying, selling, or just exploring the area, and give us a call when you’d like to get started!

Nervous About a Recession? Here’s Why You Don’t Need to Worry about a 2008 Repeat

If you’re getting ready to buy a home soon, then you’ve probably heard whispers of an imminent recession—and the real estate market and recessions don’t have a great track record. Although it’s hard not to be plagued by memories of the 2008 recession and the housing market crash, you need to know: the conditions of 2008 will not happen again.

Here’s what makes this year’s market different, and why you shouldn’t be nervous about buying a home.

Even Though People are Wary…

People talking around a laptop.

It must be addressed that the events of 2008 are enough to give any buyer some PTSD. In fact, a recent survey from realtor.com found that 53% of buyers (both first-time and repeat) believe a recession will occur this year or next, and 57% believe it’ll be worse than 2008. On top of that, 55% said they would cancel their plans to move if a recession did occur.

While these people are certainly right in their prediction that a recession could soon hit, it won’t have nearly the same effect on the housing market that it did ten years ago.

…The Housing Market Won’t Resemble 2008

A large house.

Jeff Tucker, a Zillow economist, sheds a little more light on this point. In a recent article, he outlines how unusual the 2008 housing market was—largely because of risky borrowers taking unpredictable, adjustable-rate mortgages when they may not have been financially prepared. This year, however, the market is mostly made up of buyers with great credit scores taking out predictable, 30-year fixed-rate mortgages.

George Ratiu, a senior economist for realtor.com, echoes Tucker’s sentiments, adding that a recession now would likely be much shorter than the one we saw in the past.

2001 vs. 2008

In the recent history of our country, there have been two major recessions: 2008 and 2001. While most people vividly remember the almost 20% drop in home prices during the 2008 recession, not many remember that homes prices actually went up almost 7% during 2001’s.

When it comes to the next recession, you can expect conditions to be more similar to 2001, not 2008.

Still on the Fence?

People shaking hands.

It’s true that no one can predict the future, and the state of the economy could greatly change over the next 12-24 months. While it’s great to be cautious, it’s also important to keep a realistic mindset—and listen to the experts.

If you’re hoping to buy a home soon, you should know that you don’t have to worry about 2008-like conditions. The current and future market are still great for buying!

Start Your Buying Journey

Ready to get started with your home search? Then Linda Craft & Team REALTORS® is here to help. Get to know more about our expertise and local knowledge, explore some of our resources, and give us a call when you’re ready to explore all of your Raleigh real estate options!