Kicking Clutter to the Curb: Transform Your Home with These 4 Decluttering Tips

We’ve all been there. One day, you look around your house, and there’s just So. Much. Stuff. Stuff in boxes, stuff on the walls, stuff in the corners—just…stuff. If you’re gearing up to sell your home, you’re going to have to deal with all that accumulated clutter eventually. Luckily, there are plenty of simple strategies for getting the job done!

Arm yourself for the Crusade Against the Clutter, and use these top tips to transform your home before selling.

Start Early

A to-do list.

If you aren’t prepared, things can quickly get overwhelming. After all, you’re not only getting your home ready to sell, but you’re also packing things up, finding a new home, and dealing with your finances. It makes sense that decluttering your home isn’t first on your list, but it’s one of the most important steps!

Before you list your home, you want the space to be ready to wow buyers from the second they walk through the door. If you kick off your decluttering months in advance, you’ll be in much better shape come listing time.

Expand Your Storage

An organized silverware drawer.

For many people, clutter accumulates simply because they don’t know what they actually have. An easy way to fix this issue and make your home more organized is by coming up with an intentional storage solution.

Hit the store and pick up some sliding storage and plastic tubs, then label each unit and keep it stored anyway until needed. That way, you’ll know exactly what you have and where it is. Never worry about misplaced holiday decorations or a surplus of school supplies ever again! Plus, a lot of your stuff will already be neatly packed away come moving time.

Take It Little by Little

A man and woman carrying boxes.

Decluttering can be a long process, filling up nights and weekends and free time—especially if you put it off until the last minute. Luckily, if you start ahead of time, you’ll have the luxury of taking it little by little. And not just one room at a time—we mean really little, like an hour or two hours spent on just the kitchen cabinets or bedroom closets.

You can even make it fun! Get everybody in the house together and play a game of 12-12-12. The rules are simple: walk through the house and find 12 items you want to keep, 12 items you want to get rid of, and 12 items you want to sell/donate. You’d be surprised how quickly you can reduce your clutter after a few rounds, and it only takes a couple of minutes!

Make it FAST

Clutter.

For the last tip, we’ve gotten the inside scoop from professional organizer, Peter Walsh. Walsh says that decluttering is as simple as remembering this short acronym:

Fix a time. Plan ahead, and find a time that works for everyone in the house—and make attendance mandatory!

Anything not used in twelve months. If you haven’t used it in a year, then you probably don’t need it. Ask yourself a few questions: Do I need it? Is it valuable to me? Is it worth the space it’s taking up? If no, then kick it to the curb.

Someone else’s stuff. Still have that borrowed tupperware? Give it back. Holding onto things that family members have left behind? Send it their way. If it’s not yours, find a new home for it!

Trash. It’s easy to get sentimental and hold onto things that are well past their expiration date (metaphorically speaking). Don’t be afraid to take the plunge—and maybe even go overboard—and trash some of your older belongings. If you don’t want to go full in and trash it, then you can always donate it to a good cause.

Get Your Home Ready to Sell

Decluttering is just one small step in the selling journey—albeit a fairly time-consuming one. Luckily, we’re here to help you carry the load! Give us a call to learn a few more tips for getting rid of your clutter and staging your home for success.

In the meantime, feel free to explore our additional selling resources, like our neighborhood sold report and Comparative Market Analysis, and let us know when you’re ready to get started!

The 2 Biggest Buying Myths—And Why You Shouldn’t Believe Them

Buying a home is a major decision—one that you should spend plenty of time thinking about. But for many people, that thinking stage quickly becomes filled with anxieties—about money, about mortgages, about lenders—and they may decide to postpone their buying plans.

At Linda Craft & Team REALTORS®, we want to break some of the negative stigma around the buying process. Here are the top two myths that scare away buyers and why you shouldn’t believe them.

Myth #1: The 20% Down Payment

Professionals meeting at a bank.

While a 20% down payment is preferred, it’s far from required—even though 22% of renters and 31% of homeowners believe that it is! In fact, buyers often overestimate how much they need for a home—so much so that it delays their plans.

A recent report from Freddie Mac found that if a 20% down payment was actually required, 70% of people planning on buying the next three years would delay their purchase. Not only that, but 30% of buyers said they would never be able to afford a home under those conditions.

In reality, there are a number of programs available to buyers that help lower your down payment, from VA loans to FHA loans. Give us a call, and we can help you figure out what you qualify for.

Myth #2: The Stellar Credit Score

A person holding out a credit card.

Many people think a “good” credit score is right around 780—and that you need a “good” credit score to qualify for a loan. But according to Ellie Mae’s Origination Insight Report, that number is way above average. In fact, over 50% of approved mortgages had credit scores anywhere between 600 to 749—way below what most people consider “good.”

Even if you don’t have an outstanding credit score, odds are, it’s still good enough to snag the right financing. Need some tips on upping your credit score? Just reach out to my team, and we’ll help you out!

Don’t Let Buying Myths Hold You Back

Buying a home is certainly a tricky process, but it’s often more attainable than people think—especially when you work with a professional. At Linda Craft & Team REALTORS®, we have over 100 years of combined real estate experience around the Triangle, and we’d love to leverage our skills to help you find your dream home.

Take some time to explore our resources for buyers, and give us a call when you’re ready to learn more about your buying options!

Checking in on the Trends: The Positives and Negatives of Today’s Housing Market

Real estate trends are prone to change. After all, there are many factors that play into home prices and mortgage rates, and as the economy changes, the real estate market follows suit.

If you want to get the best possible outcome to your real estate endeavor, staying updated on current real estate trends is crucial to your buying and selling success.

Here are the three biggest changes currently happening in the housing market—and what they mean for buyers and sellers!

Interest Rates are Low…For Now

A man looking at numbers on a laptop.

Interest rates play a huge part in the overall cost of your home, and right now, they’re the lowest they’ve been in years. As of June, rates are hovering right around 3.8%. Back in March, they were as high as 4.4%!

According to the latest info from Freddie Mac, those numbers could be here to stay for a while, but with the current unpredictability of the housing market, there’s no guarantee. So the sooner you buy, the better.

Tariffs Could Drive up Prices

A construction area.

What could tariffs on China possibly have to do with the housing market? Well, many of the tariffs will affect building materials like lumber and steel—and the National Association of Home Builders estimates that around $10 billion worth of those supplies come from China.

With an already low inventory of homes, the increased of cost in building a new home will likely further exacerbate the problem. The tariffs began in June, so the effects may not be fully felt for a little while—meaning now is a great time to buy.

The Economy is Cooling off

A man carrying a newspaper and briefcase.

Previously, many economic experts thought we were headed for a recession this year. While that estimate has been pushed back, three leading surveys (the WSJ Survey of Economists, Duke University Survey of CFOs, and NABE Survey of Members) predict that it’ll happen sometime in the next 18 months.

That doesn’t mean there’s any need to panic, but it does mean that the current economic conditions might be the best that they’ll be for a while.

Ready to Buy Your Raleigh Home?

If you’re on the fence about buying or selling, the current housing trends indicate that now is the time to make some moves. Find your real estate success, and trust in the expertise and years of experience that Linda Craft & Team REALTORS® can provide.

Browse our buying resources, see what homes in Raleigh we love, and give us a call to get started!

Waiting to Buy Your New Raleigh Home? Here’s How Much It’ll Cost You

Buying a home is a big decision, one that requires plenty of thought and deliberation. While it’s important to take your time and feel confident in your choice, you might want speed up the process.

Why? Well, within the next year, buying is about to become significantly more expensive. Take a look at the breakdown of the numbers, and get started with your search soon!

Costs Are Rising

Graphs and charts on a laptop.

Right now, mortgage interest rates are lower than they’ve been in years—even lower than experts had predicted. Over the next year, though, they’re only expected to rise.

Not only are interest rates ticking up, home prices themselves are growing as well. Add those two factors together, and you’re also looking at increased mortgage payments.

Concrete Numbers

A man pulling money out of his wallet.

Let’s put those numbers in perspective. According to Freddie Mac projections, current interest rates are around 4.3%. Next year, they’ll reach 4.5%. While that might not seem like a big jump, when you’re talking about big ticket purchases—like homes, for example—.2% can mean a major difference in cost.

As far as home prices go, CoreLogic estimates around a 4.8% jump. Again, not huge at first glance, but when you start looking at the numbers—like, for example, $250,000 versus $262,000—that’s a difference of over $10,000!

Put interest rates and home values together, and you’ll find that mortgage payments are following suit. Considering the current numbers, your average mortgage payment would be $1,231.60. Next year, that number looks more like $1,321.04.

How Much Will Waiting Cost You?

A man holding a Starbucks coffee.

Bottom line? Waiting to buy may not seem like a big deal at first, but those increased costs will add up quickly—especially in a competitive market like Raleigh’s.

Say you buy that home you’ve had your eye on, but you don’t do it until next year. You can expect to pay an extra $89.44 monthly—around the same cost as your daily coffee or weekly sushi. Per year, you’re looking at $1,073.28—around the same cost as a cushy weekend getaway or the balance on those credit card statements.

Within 30 years? You’ll be paying an extra $32, 198—and when it comes to other ways we’d rather use that money, we can think of about a thousand.

Don’t Wait to Buy Your New Home

If you’re on the fence about buying, just know: waiting until next year is going to cost you big. About $32,000 big. Don’t put off buying your Raleigh home—let Linda Craft & Team REALTORS® help you get started today.

Browse our buying guides and resources, narrow down your options with our specialized search tool, and give us a call to start scheduling showings today!

Is Moving in with Your Family the Latest Real Estate Trend?

Moving back in with your parents after a few years? You’re certainly not the only one!

Maybe your loved ones are growing older, and you want to spend more time with them, or they need a little extra help around the house. Maybe finances are tight, and you’re saving up for your own place.

Whatever your reasoning may be, multigenerational households are on the rise—and they provide some major benefits.

The Basics of Multigenerational Housing

A grandmother, grandson, and daughter sitting by the water.

The only qualification for a home to be multigenerational is, well, there’s more than one generation under the roof—whether it’s parents and adult children, adult grandkids and their grandparents, or any other combination.

Until recently, multigenerational households hadn’t been popular—or even common—since the 1950s, when around 21% of the population lived in a multigenerational home. That number continued to tick down over the years, but as of 2009, it’s been on the rise.

Currently, around 20% of the population lives in a multigenerational home, making it the second-highest percentage in recent history!

Reasons Behind Multigenerational Housing

Grandparents holding their grandchildren.

There are several major reasons why people have started moving back in with older family members. The most common reason is to take care of aging parents (26%), closely followed by spending time with parents in general (14%). Previously, adults ages 85 and older were most likely to live in multigenerational homes. Now, the title goes to young adults ages 25 to 29.

Additionally, growing diversity may play a part in those numbers. According to the Pew analysis, Asian and Hispanic populations—both of which have grown rapidly—are more likely than others to live in multigenerational homes, coming in at 29% and 27% of the population, respectively.

Lastly, student loan debt might be a big factor in multigenerational homes. For people ages 22 to 35, 83% blame their student loans for preventing home ownership. Seeing as how the average borrower owes over $30,000, they might be onto something!

The Surprising Benefits

A daughter and mother sitting on a park bench.

Not only do multigenerational households make financial sense for many people, they also boast a number of benefits. According to a study from the University of Oxford, children who grow up close to their grandparents often have fewer emotional and behavioral problems and can cope with traumatic events better. Also, researchers from Boston College found that when adult grandkids have close bonds with their grandparents, both groups report reduced depressive symptoms.

Understanding the benefits helps put into perspective why a staggering 41% of Americans are now in the market to buy a multigenerational home!

Linda Craft on Multigenerational Housing

Find Your Multigenerational Home in Raleigh

Raleigh has a wide variety of large, private homes for sale, perfect for multigenerational housing. If you’re looking to make the move with a few family members, then Linda Craft & Team REALTORS® is more than happy to help.

Explore all of your home-buying options in Raleigh, browse our helpful resources, and give us a call today to get started!

Boomerang Buyers: Why a Past Foreclosure Shouldn’t Stop You from Buying Again

Facing a foreclosure can be traumatic. Putting all of that hard work and hard-earned money into buying a home, only to have it fall through in the end, is the worst-case scenario for many buyers—enough that it may prevent them from buying again.

While it’s hard to imagine the impact that a foreclosure has, it doesn’t mean that your home-owning dreams are over. In fact, many “boomerang buyers” are gearing up to give it another go!

What is a Boomerang Buyer?

A woman on her laptop.

Following the housing crisis—from 2006 to 2014—there were 7.3 million foreclosures and 1.9 million short sales, according to CoreLogic. After going through the foreclosure process, buyers must wait about seven years before applying for mortgage again, although that timeline may be shorter if you qualify for an FHA loan.

Those buyers who have previously undergone a foreclosure but have chosen to buy a home once again have been coined as “boomerang buyers”—and now that a few years have passed, there are more and more entering the market!

The Latest Numbers

Women looking at a laptop.

The NerdWallet‘s 2019 Home Buyer Report sheds some light on the latest trends for boomerang buyers. Out of the 13% of Americans who lost a home in the past ten years, around 60% have not re-entered the market, and around 20% say they’ll never buy a home again. Those numbers are certainly cautious, and also a tad bit grim.

The good news, though? The numbers are starting to look up.

In January 2016, 2.8 million people who experienced foreclosures, short sales, or bankruptcies had those incidents dropped off of their credit report. Since then, 11.5% of them have successfully obtained a new mortgage!

Not only that, but of the 13% Americans who lost a home, 39% say they plan on buying within the next three years, and a staggering 58% say they plan to buy within the next five.

The bottom line? There’s still hope, despite past foreclosures!

Know Your Options

A family in a brightly lit room.

The most important thing for boomerang buyers going forward is to be prepared. In fact, 74% of formerly foreclosed buyers say that they will be more cautious about choosing a lender, agent, or loan.

When it comes to knowing and working with the top trusted lenders in the area, the Linda Craft & Team REALTORS® has a vast network of options. Since we’ve been working around the Raleigh area for years, we can leverage our unique expertise to ensure that you’re matched with the best possible experts in the area.

Buying a home—especially for boomerang buyers—is intimidating. But when you work with our team, we’re dedicated to laying out all of your options and helping you select the most prudent choice.

Ready to Buy Again?

Then we’re here to help. Team up with Linda Craft & Team REALTORS®, and let us help you buy your next home. With our resources, expertise, and local knowledge, we’ll ensure that your buying journey is both successful and seamless.

Give us a call today to begin exploring all your Raleigh home-buying options!

Mortgage 101: What To Know Before You Apply

Everybody loves talking about mortgages. They’re fun, easy to understand, and a great icebreaker, right?….Wrong. Thanks to their lengthy process, technical jargon, and confusing options, mortgages have a bit of an intimidating reputation—but it doesn’t have to be that way!

If you’re in the process of buying a new home and dreading the mortgage application process, here’s what you need to know to keep things running smoothly.

Know How Much You Can Spend

A person holding up money.

If you’re feeling antsy about getting started and want a general idea of how much loan you might qualify for, consider the 28/36 rule, or the Debt-to-Income ratio—AKA what most lenders use to help calculate your mortgage.

Essentially, the 28/36 rule means that your monthly mortgage payment shouldn’t be more than 28% of your gross income. Additionally, your outstanding debts—like mortgage, car loans, student loans—shouldn’t account for more than 36% of your gross income.

Get Your Finances in Order

Statistics on a laptop.

Not seeing the numbers you were hoping for after calculating your Debt-to-Income ratio? Then, hopefully, you’ve given yourself a little time to shift things in your favor. Paying off loans, improving your credit score, avoiding big purchases—these will all help you change those numbers.

Of course, completing those tasks is a little harder to do in practice than in theory, so you may have to take a look at your budget and see where you can cut out some extras—at least temporarily!

What You’ll Need to Apply

Paperwork.

In the weeks before you plan on applying for a mortgage, you should start collecting all of the documents you need. Since a lender will be telling you exactly how much money they’re willing to loan, they’ll need a comprehensive understanding of your finances beforehand. Start gathering things like:

  • W2s/tax returns
  • Photo ID
  • Your two most recent pay stubs
  • Current and prior addresses
  • Asset information (retirement funds, 401(k), stocks and bonds, other investments)
  • Gift letters

Depending on the lender you choose, you may need additional documents, so consider calling in to double-check beforehand.

Find the Right Mortgage

Three women pointing at a laptop.

Once it’s time to start thinking more concretely about applying for a mortgage, you have several options to consider. While all the mortgage options out there could easily fill a whole blog post on their own, here’s a quick rundown to give you a general idea:

  • Conventional/Fixed-rate:  The interest rate of a fixed-rate loan won’t change over time, making it a popular choice for its predictability. Conventional loans typically require a 20% down payment or mortgage insurance for smaller down payments.
  • Adjustable-rate: The interest rate of adjustable-rate mortgage will fluctuate over time, sometimes lower than fixed-rate, sometimes higher. There is a cap in place so the rate doesn’t get too out of control, but ARMs are typically more popular with those who plan to refinance.
  • FHA: If you are struggling to come up with a down payment, you may have options with an FHA mortgage. Provided by the Federal Housing Administration, these loans come with a low down payment requirement and built-in mortgage insurance.
  • USDA: Live in a rural area? Then check out your USDA eligibility! A surprising amount of areas qualify for USDA loans, even if you aren’t living in the countryside. Plus, USDA loans don’t require a down payment and offer lower insurance premiums.

These aren’t the only options you’ll have, just the most common. If none of these sound right or you aren’t sure which to choose, just ask your lender!

Choose the Right Lender

When it comes time to decide who to work with, you’ll have to do your research. Each lender is different, meaning they’ll likely offer you different rates, charges, and loan options.

Luckily, we’ve been working in real estate around the area for years, so we know exactly which lenders are right for which buyers. If you need a few suggestions before you kick off your search, just let us know!

Still Have Questions?

That’s okay—we get it. Applying for mortgage is confusing and challenging, especially if it’s your first time. If you have any questions about the process, we’re here to help.

Ready to start looking at a few homes in your price range? We can help with that, too! Check out our specialized search tool to narrow down your options, and give us a call to start seeing a few in person!

Breaking Down Housing Affordability: The Bottom Line for Buyers

As of late, there’s been a lot of buzz about home prices going up, and a fair amount of anxiety about what that means for buyers. While some headlines have been announcing an “affordability crisis,” that’s perhaps an over-sensationalization of current conditions.

If you’re worried about not being able to afford a home in the greater Raleigh area, here’s why you may not need to be as concerned as the headlines would lead you to believe.

What’s the Housing Affordability Index?

A man looking at charts and graphs on his laptop.

Every month, the National Association of Realtors crunches the numbers to create a Housing Affordability Index. This index measures how affordable it is for a family with a typical income to purchase a median-priced home, assuming a 20% percent down payment.

The index uses the number 100 as a starting point, and the higher the index gets, the more affordable homes are.

What the Index Has to Say

This year, the index is at 153, which is higher than it ever was from 1990 to 2008. The periods when the index was higher than it is today—2009 to 2017—were right on the heels of the housing crash, so the purchase of distressed and discounted properties was a frequent occurrence.

In fact, this year’s number is five points higher than last year’s, meaning 2019 has been more affordable for homebuyers than 2018!

Now is a Great Time to Buy

People receiving the keys to a home.

With low mortgage rates and affordable home prices, right now is a great time for buyers. If you’re in the market to purchase a home soon, you should take advantage of these favorable conditions while you can, and kick off your search process.

Find Your Dream Home in the Raleigh Area

With years of experience in Raleigh real estate, Linda Craft & Team REALTORS® is more than prepared to help you find your new home in Raleigh. Take a look at a few of the resources we have to offer, and give us a call when you’re ready to start seeing a few homes in person!

The Two Need-to-Know Factors for Pricing Your Home Right

The real estate market is in a unique situation right now. Mortgage rates are the lowest they’ve been in years—and expected to keep decreasing—and many people are left wondering what that means for home prices.

While housing prices are currently increasing at a slower rate than usual—coming in around 3.7%, compared to the average of 6 – 7% over the past few years—they’re still surpassing historic norms.

In a competitive and active market like Raleigh, knowing how to price your home accurately is more crucial than ever! Luckily, we can help. Here are the two biggest factors to keep in mind when pricing a home.

Consider the Appraisal Gap

A woman writing in a notebook.

The Home Price Perception Index checks in every month on the difference between homeowners’ estimates of their property and the appraiser’s evaluation. Over the past few months, that number has steadily ticked up. Last July the difference was around .25% lower than buyers expected, but it’s tripled since then, now standing at .78%.

While that may not seem like a major gap, that small percent can still mean thousands of dollars in difference come closing—money that sellers would have to make up for.

Avoid Price Cuts

A man glancing over a booklet in front of a window.

Not valuing your property accurately can create further problems down the road, as well. Realtor.com recently reported that price cuts in homes have increased 2% since last year. Again, 2% may not seem like a huge number, but 37 out of 50 of the largest US housing markets reflected this decrease—including Raleigh.

Oftentimes, there isn’t anything wrong with a home that gets a price reduction—it just started with the wrong price. If you hit the ground running with an accurate listing price, you won’t have to worry about knocking it down in the future! In fact, our selling tips can even help you net more for your home than usual.

List Your Home for the Right Price

Navigating market trends can be tricky, but luckily you don’t have to do it alone. At Linda Craft & Team REALTORS®, we have years of experience with buying and selling homes in Raleigh—meaning we know exactly how to handle the ups and downs of the market.

Learn more about what we offer our sellers, get an accurate price for your home, and give us a call when you’re ready to list!

Buying and Selling in Raleigh? Here’s Why It Pays to Have a Professional on Your Side

With all of the latest technology and new ways of buying and selling, you might be wondering: “What benefits do I gain from working with a real estate agent?” While apps and websites may sell an easy real estate process, the truth is that if often ends up being far from that.

If you’re preparing to buy your dream home or sell a home for top dollar in the Raleigh area, here’s why you should enlist the help of an agent.

The Search Process Takes More Than You Think

A man on his laptop.

From starting your search to closing on your home, there are over 230 possible steps you’ll need to take—and when you decide to go it alone, you may end up adding to that number.

Even the search process, as simple as it may seem, is infinitely more complex. Without representation, you likely won’t gain access to information like the property’s public record for ownership and deed type, the land use coding and deed restrictions, or the property’s curb-appeal assessment.

Not only will a skilled agent secure all of that information for you, but they’ll also match you with similar homes that fit your more specific criteria—criteria that you may not find on online searches.

Negotiating Can Be Challenging

Two women meeting and discussing paperwork.

With low mortgage rates and steadily rising housing prices, it’s a prime market for both buyers and sellers. This is good news, but also means you’ll likely be dealing with more competition than usual.

Working with a skilled negotiator can not only be the difference between your offer being accepted or denied, but it can also save you thousands of dollars in the end.

When negotiating a home sale, you’ll have to deal with a number of parties, including the buyer and the buyer’s agent, the buyer’s attorney and lender, and the home inspection company. Every step—from your original offer to the inspection to the closing—demands guidance from an agent who knows their way around the process.

At at Linda Craft & Team REALTORS®, we have over 350 years of combined real estate experience—which means countless successful negotiations.

What is Your Home Worth?

The kitchen of a home.

Since mortgage rates have been trending lower than in years past, home prices are veering in the opposite direction. Your agent should have an in-depth knowledge of the greater Raleigh area real estate market, enough to ensure that your home is priced competitively and accurately—or that you’re getting a fair price for your purchase.

In the end, you need an agent who will be transparent with you, even if it means telling you something you may not want to hear.

Enlist the Help of Linda Craft & Team REALTORS®

If you’re in search of local real estate professionals, look no further than Linda Craft & Team REALTORS®. Whether you’re buying and need help navigating the process or selling and hoping for top dollar, our track record of success proves that we have what it takes to achieve your real estate goals.

Interested in learning more about our real estate services? Please don’t hesitate to give us a call.