No, We are Not Headed Towards a Housing Crash: Here’s Why

In the past few months, you may have heard whisperings about an incoming housing market crash. We’re here to put you at ease: we are not headed towards a crash!

A lot of this concern comes from average home prices slowing in growth across the country. We wrote a blog about it last week, but this is not a bad thing! It just means the market is shifting back towards normal.

The Three Most Important Factors

A luxury home interior with a fireplace.

Today’s market is wildly different than the pre-crash housing market of the late 2000s. We’re going to show you why and how using three important metrics that measure the Raleigh real estate market.

Home Prices

Beginning in 2008, average home prices in the U.S. dropped almost 29% over a four year period. That’s drastic, and it’s what spurred the housing market crash!

Today’s average home prices are not depreciating. It’s just that the level of appreciation is slowing down. Over the last year, homes have increased by more than 4%.

While this is less than the 6-7% prices appreciated over years prior, it in no way indicates that we’re headed towards a crash!

Mortgage Standards

A white table with a checkbook and small stack of money.

In the current real estate market, it’s considered easier to get a loan from the bank than in years prior. Many are concerned that these “lenient standards” will contribute to a housing crash.

However, the Urban Institute’s Housing Finance Policy Center released a quarterly index that details the percentage of home purchase loans that are likely to default. When this rate is very low, it indicates that lenders are unwilling to tolerate defaults. This makes it much harder to get a loan.

When that percentage is higher, it indicates that lenders are more lenient so it is easier to get a loan.

In another report called the Housing Credit Availability Index, the Urban Institute also revealed that there is still ample space to expand the housing market credit box. Even if the current risk of default was twice what it currently is, it would still be well within the pre-crisis standard of 12.5%.

Foreclosure Rates

In the last 10 years, foreclosures and short sales have made up 35% of all home sales. That’s huge!

At the end of the fourth quarter of 2018, the percentage of loans in the foreclosure process was just 0.95%. It hasn’t been that low since 1996!

Ready to Explore the Raleigh Real Estate Market?

Linda Craft & Team REALTORS® is ready to help. Give us a call today to learn more about the best way to buy a home in the greater Raleigh market.

Rely on our expertise, our extensive resources, and our proven track record with buying homes in Raleigh. We’ll guide you towards a successful outcome in the Triangle, guaranteed.

Up Your Home’s Resale Value with These 5 Outdoor DIY Projects

Spring is here, and summer is closer than ever. That makes it a great time to get outside and spruce up your home’s exterior!

If you’re planning on selling your home soon, a little outdoor maintenance can go a long way. In fact, here are five outdoor projects you can do yourself that are sure to add resale value to your home.

Install a Fire Pit

Fire burning in a backyard fire pit.

Imagine spending a warm summer evening out back with your friends, sipping cool drinks and roasting marshmallows over an open fire. The truth is, installing a fire pit is easier than you might think!

A fire pit is made out of fireproof materials and should sit on a flat surface at least 15 feet away from your home and any trees. Here’s a how-to guide for building a backyard fire pit.

Remember, check your local building codes before beginning any type of construction!

Don’t have a yard for a fire pit? Turn your balcony into a cozy dining area instead!

Add Some Outdoor Lighting

Transform your backyard space for summer with lights that add both ambience and security. You can safely add low-voltage lighting to your front or backyard by yourself, even if you don’t have extensive electrical experience.

Whether you opt for motion-activated LED lights or hanging fairy lights, you have some great options to consider for your yard!

Have a nice back deck or balcony? Add some lights to make it a great place to gather any time, day or night.

Fix the Front Door

A front door with a key in the lock.

Your front door should be clean, bright, and welcoming! After all, it’s the first thing potential buyers will see when they enter your home.

There are a couple of different options to freshen up your front door. If it’s very old or damaged, you could replace it altogether. Other options for sprucing up your door include painting it a different color,touching up the paint job, or replacing the doorknob or knocker.

Live in a condo with an interior front door? You can still spruce up your entryway with a nice welcome mat and some potted flowers.

Power Wash the Exterior

Dirty siding on your home can make it look old and neglected, which can be a major turn-off for buyers! A simple solution to get your home’s exterior looking like new is to rent a power washer to take care of any dirt. We recommend renting a heavy-duty, gas-powered pressure washer, as these are the most efficient.

Depending on your home’s specific material (vinyl, stucco, brick, etc.), you will need to obtain a specific type of detergent to power wash your home. Be sure to opt for an environmentally friendly version!

Refresh Your Landscaping

The front exterior of a home that's been manicured with trimmed shrubs and flower beds.

Taking the time to properly maintain your landscaping—and adding a few new features here and there—can both increase your home’s resale value and attract more buyers. After all, real estate is all about the curb appeal!

Installing an attractive stone walkway, mulching your flowerbeds, planting new flowers or shrubbery, and planting trees are all great ways to improve your home’s landscaping.

Don’t have a yard? You can still spruce up your entryway and outdoor areas with potted flowers or hanging planters.

Looking for More Home-Selling Strategies?

Linda Craft & Team REALTORS® can help you increase your home’s value and get it sold fast.

Contact our team today to learn more.

The Real Estate Market is Returning to “Normal:” Here’s Why That’s a Good Thing

In the past couple of months, we’ve written about how the Raleigh real estate market is primed for sellers. That’s because of a discrepancy between housing demand and housing supply.

When there aren’t enough homes for sale to satisfy buyer demand, home prices rise. In fact, over the past few years, home price appreciation has averaged around 6% across the country. These conditions are known as a “seller’s market.”

So What’s Changing?

A spacious, luxurious kitchen with a huge island in the center.

The market is starting to level out a bit. Home price growth has begun to cool down, with a recent report by CoreLogic showing that prices have only risen by 4.7% over the last year.

While housing prices have by no means stagnated, many buyers and sellers are still worrying that this recent activity means another housing crash is on the horizon.

Don’t Worry, the Market is Doing Just Fine

A business professional showing a client shifting trends in market activity.

Sure, the market is cooling off a bit, but that’s not a bad thing! It also does not indicate that we are headed for a crash.

It means that the real estate market is returning to “normal.” The inventory of homes for sale is growing to meet buyer demand, so housing prices aren’t increasing dramatically.

This is good for buyers: it means that housing prices aren’t skyrocketing, so more people will be able to afford homes in their preferred neighborhood.

Will Housing Prices Go Up Again?

Sold house sign in Midwest suburban setting. Focus on sign.

Most likely, yes! The Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University estimates that over 30 million new households will enter the market from now through 2040.

Is Now the Right Time to Buy a Home in Raleigh?

Yes! If you’re interested in buying a home in Raleigh, or anywhere else in the NC Triangle, now is the time to act. Here at Linda Craft & Team REALTORS®, we have the resources and expertise to assist.

Just give us a call today to learn more! You can also browse our home-buying resources, see what homes are currently going for in Raleigh, and explore specific communities in the Triangle.

Why 2019 is THE Year to Sell Your Raleigh Home

A couple touring a home for sale with a real estate agent.

If you stay up to date on real estate trends, you’ve probably noticed that interest rates and home prices are rising. Many homeowners are taking this as a sign that it’s a bad time to sell their homes because buyers won’t be as interested.

However, that couldn’t be further from the truth! Buyers are still highly motivated—especially in the greater Raleigh area.

Buyers are Out in Full Force

Elderly couple talking with a real estate agent.

According to NerdWallet’s 2018 Home Buyer Report, around 32% of Americans are planning to buy a home in the next five years. Millennials in particular are most likely at 49%.

Homebuyers have their own personal reasons for buying real estate. Of those Americans surveyed by NerdWallet, 44% want to buy a home because they think it’s a good investment.

They’re not wrong! We’ve written about it many times before, but buying a home is the most efficient way to build your wealth. When you own a home and pay off your mortgage every month, you’re really paying yourself. You’re building up your equity for the long term, and you can expect your hard work to pay off!

That’s Why Now is the Time to Sell

Home with a red "SOLD" sign out front.

Let’s review. Not only are buyers highly motivated, more and more sellers have decided that now is not the time to sell. What does that mean for you?

There’s less competition AND more buyers out! You don’t have to wait on the market if you want to sell now.

Sell Your Raleigh Home for Top Dollar this Spring

Ready to make a tremendous return on your real estate investment? Then it’s time to list your Raleigh home with Linda Craft & Team REALTORS®.

We offer a wide array of home-selling services, resources, and tools to better assist you in selling your Raleigh area home. With more than 30 years of unparalleled experience in the Raleigh and Greater Triangle real estate market, we know exactly what it takes to sell your unique home for top dollar. Contact us today to learn more.

Saving up for a New Home? Here Are All the Costs You Need to Know

Once you’ve found the perfect home and secured the loan, all that’s left to do is start chipping away at those mortgage payments…right? In actuality, there are a handful of other, often-overlooked expenses that come with buying a home, but as long as you know what you’re getting into, they’re plenty manageable.

Take a look at our comprehensive list of all the costs of buying a home.

One-Time Payments & Closing Costs

A person holding up keys to a house.

Closing Costs

For buyers, closing costs are typically low and range from 2-5% of your purchase price. A lot of these costs are one-time expenses, and totals can vary from state-to-state.

If you want a better idea of what closing costs could be for you, check out this helpful guide on the average payments for each state.

Miscellaneous Fees

There are quite a bit of one-time fees bundled into your closing costs, but most of them are pretty inexpensive. Some of the most common expenses include the home inspection, appraisal, credit report, deed recording, land survey, notary fees, title insurance, and document prep fees.

Recurring Payments

A woman and a child counting coins.

Mortgage Payments

Mortgage payments are the most obvious cost when buying a home. These are your predictable, monthly payments decided by both the final price of your home and your down payment—in addition to a few other bundled costs. A larger down payment means a smaller mortgage payment, and it’s a good idea to pay this off quickly, since it will accumulate interest.

Property Taxes

Property tax payments don’t go towards just one thing—they actually cover quite a bit, like road construction, community maintenance, public works, and local government salaries. The exact amount you’ll pay in property tax is calculated by the county based on your home’s value, and the rates tend to rise and fall over time. Many buyers pay their property taxes through an escrow account set up by the lender.

Homeowner’s Insurance

It’s better to have insurance and not need it than need insurance and not have it, so homeowner’s insurance is pretty crucial to home owning. While it’s almost always required when you get a mortgage and then bundled into your monthly payments, be sure to double-check that you’re covered.

Private Mortgage Insurance

If you can’t afford a 20% down payment on your home, you’ll have to pay PMI as a way to ensure that the lender won’t go under if you default on your loan. You don’t have to pay PMI forever—it ends once you pay off 78% or more of the principal amount—but until then, expect to pay up to 2% of your loan amount annually.

HOA Fees

Moving to a neighborhood with an HOA? Your dues can range anywhere from under a hundred dollars to over a thousand, but they come with perks like landscaping and exterior maintenance, and some even include added benefits like swimming pools and fitness centers. Not all neighborhoods have an HOA, but your agent can tell you what your payments will be if yours does.

Utilities

Lastly, utility fees can come as a surprise to new homeowners who are used to renting. Depending on the size of your home, you can expect to pay a few hundred dollars per month for water, electricity, heating and cooling, and trash services. If you’re curious what your utility bills might look like, just ask your agent, and they can likely secure a few statements from the past owners.

Ready to Make an Offer?

A man and a woman sitting on a couch with a dog and a cat.

When it comes to buying a home, the most important thing you can do is be prepared. While there are a handful of costs to keep in mind, the satisfaction of calling a place your own is well-worth it in the end.

Are you ready to get started on your home-buying journey? With years of professional and local experience, Linda Craft & Team REALTORS® knows all about navigating the expenses that come with buying. Give us a call today to get a better idea of your costs, and let’s get started!

First Comes Love… then Comes Your First Mortgage Payment!

Every year, the National Association of Realtors® conducts a survey to determine the profile of home buyers and sellers across the country.

The 2018 profile is interesting because the majority of recent homebuyers (a whopping 63%!) are married couples!

The Majority of First-Time Buyers are Married Couples

A married couple standing on the porch of their new home.

It’s true! According to the NAR, 54% of first-time buyers in 2018 were married couples.

However, if you’re still single, there’s no need to worry. 18% of first-time home buyers in 2018 were single women, while 10% were single men. In addition, about 16% of these buyers were unmarried couples.

Homeownership is Within Your Grasp!

Spacious living room with beige sectional sofa and a coffee table.

Even if you haven’t saved up an enormous down payment, you likely still have plenty of options for buying a home in the greater Raleigh area!

Many homes for sale in Raleigh, and the Greater Triangle area, qualify for loans that don’t require huge down payments. You may be able to use an FHA loan or a USDA loan to purchase a home in one of Raleigh’s orbiting cities—in communities like Angier, Fuquay-Varina, and Apex.

These loans are popular because they only require a down payment that’s 1 – 3% of the home’s overall price. And, if you’re in the military, you have even more options!

Let’s Buy Your Dream Home Together

A hand holding a pair of house keys in front of a home.

If you’d like to explore your home-buying options in the greater Raleigh area, please give us a call at Linda Craft & Team REALTORS®. Whether you’re a first-time buyer or looking to invest in your fifth real estate property, we have the resources and expertise to assist.

Let’s set up a time to talk about your plans! In the meantime, feel free to explore the Greater Raleigh area with our free home-buying guides.

Spring into the Selling Season with These Pro Cleaning Tips

In just a few short days, we’ll turn the corner into warmer weather. There’ll be no more cold mornings, flowers will bloom, trees will grow, birds will sing, and it will officially be spring. Okay, maybe the changing of seasons doesn’t work quite so suddenly, but spring does mark the beginning of a notoriously busy home-buying season.

Since buyers are so active during spring, there’s no better time to list your home. But if you want to stand out in the crowded market, you’re going to have to dig deep into some spring cleaning beforehand.

Here are a few things you can do to kickstart your home-selling, spring cleanup process!

Make a Plan

You don’t have to get all of your cleaning done in one day—or even one weekend. All you need is a solid plan, even if it takes you a few weeks to complete. Take a look at what areas in your house need the most work, and get down to planning out nitty-gritty details.

Coordinate your plan by room and move along space by space, leaving nothing but sparkling clean surfaces in your wake.

Get out Stubborn Stains

A pair of boots sitting on a white carpet.

Maybe you’ve been avoiding cleaning because you know your home has some serious problem areas. Whether it’s getting a years-old stain out of the carpet or returning grungy bathrooms and appliances to their former glory, it’s possible to get out even the worst of stains.

Vinegar, dish soap, warm water, baking soda—these simple household items can get rid of anything from wine stains to mud tracks to coffee spills. All it takes is a little time and some elbow grease!

Try Some Value-Adding Projects

A man rolling a paint roller in a tin of yellow paint.

Since you’re already devoting some time and energy to making your home look its best, why not try a few DIY fixes, too? There are tons of small updates that’ll only take up a few hours of your time, but are worth your while when it comes to selling.

From putting a fresh coat of paint on the walls to power washing your siding, all it takes is a quick trip to your local hardware store to make your home look 10/10.

Dig into the Kitchen & Bathroom

A kitchen sink with the water turned on.

It’s no secret that the kitchen and bathroom are the two most important areas to a buyer. So when you’re making your spring cleaning plan, put some extra time and thought into how you can improve these spaces.

In the kitchen, focus on scrubbing every surface—floors, cabinets, countertops, etc.—cleaning out your drain, and polishing up the appliances. For the bathroom, get rid of any mildew or grime discoloration, and put some elbow grease into cleaning the cracks and crevices in the room.

Think Green

A closeup of blades of grass.

Cleaning can introduce a lot of dangerous chemicals into both your home and the area around your home, but using them can sometimes seem unavoidable. If you’re worried about storing and using hazardous materials around your home, there are plenty of safer ways to make your own cleaning products.

In fact, vinegar, dish soap, baking soda, and water can get most of the jobs you need done, and done well. You can also find a few eco-friendly cleaning products at your local grocery store.

Sell Your Home this Spring

Spring is one of the best seasons to sell your home, so don’t miss out on all of the potential buyers browsing the market. If you’re thinking of selling this spring, now is the time to get started.

Contact us at Linda Craft & Team REALTORS® to learn more about what you need to do to get your home in top shape for spring selling, and let’s get started with your real estate journey today!

How Homeownership Makes the Biggest Difference

If you’re looking for the most surefire way to build your wealth, become a homeowner. We’ve blogged about this in the past, but it really is one of the most effective (and simplest) ways to build your wealth for the long term.

The majority of homeowners take out a mortgage loan to buy their home. By paying off your home’s mortgage every month, you’re building your wealth. Although it feels like you’re paying somebody else (the bank) you’re actually putting money into a forced savings account.

And forcing yourself to save money pays off. Big time.

It Helps You Achieve the American Dream

A core part of what many consider “The American Dream” is owning a home. Owning your own home brings a myriad of benefits, both financial and non-financial.

Financially speaking, buying a home and becoming a homeowner increases your net worth. Every time you make a mortgage payment, your net worth goes up a little.

Here’s an example: in a study performed by The Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University, researchers found that the difference in net worth between homeowners and renters over 65 was 47.5 times greater.

In that study, nearly half of those homeowners’ net worth came from their home equity!

It’s a Huge Retirement Benefit

Studies show that homeowners over 65 are more financially prepared for retirement. Even if they choose to sell their home and downsize for retirement, they have the added bonus of owning their home for a long time—meaning their home has likely increased in value.

Now, when they choose to sell their home, they’ll make an even bigger return on their investment.

Although renting may seem like an affordable option short-term, it’s less lucrative in the long term. This is especially true when you consider that median rent prices have increased substantially every year.

Plus, It Has Emotional Benefits

You deserve to love where you live. That’s the biggest emotional benefit you get from owning your home: you get to put down roots and invest in a community that will improve your quality of life.

When you buy a home in a community like Raleigh and the NC Triangle, you’re signing up for an exciting, well-rounded lifestyle! The Triangle has plenty of small towns, gorgeous real estate options, and maybe even a major city or two.

Ready to Become a Homeowner?

We’re ready to help. Start building your wealth and guaranteeing yourself a more successful retirement by buying your dream home in the greater Raleigh area.

Just call us, Linda Craft & Team REALTORS®, today to get started. You can use our free home-buying resources, easily search for homes in the area, and see popular Raleigh homes for sale.

Working with Us, Versus the Competition, to Sell Your Raleigh Home

Selling a home is a complicated, and time-consuming process. When done correctly, however, it can transform your life for the better and help you build long-term wealth.

As such, we believe that it’s important to work with a certified expert to sell your home in the greater Raleigh area. That’s why we’d like to take a minute to show you the proven benefits to working with our team.

Our Experience Shines

White home entrance with luxury features.When you tally up the experience of every single person on our team, you get more than 350 years of direct experience selling homes in the Triangle.

Compare that to 50% of Triangle area agents with less than 5 years of experience.

Plus, our experience includes:

Negotiating

This is a big part of selling real estate! You have to know how to negotiate with the buyer for the best possible outcome. Our team has negotiated and closed over 10,000 real estate transactions.

According to the National Association of REALTORS®, the average Realtor sells about 6 houses per year.

Pricing

Our Exclusive Listing Partners specialize in pricing homes all day, every day. We specialize in focused expertise, which is why each of our listing specialists is able to close 20 times more homes than the average agent.

We list and sell over 100 homes each year, and have correctly priced and closed over $2 billion in real estate.

Handling Contracts

A stack of papers sitting on a desk that reads "Real Estate Purchase Agreement."It’s no secret that selling a home comes with a lot of paperwork. Luckily, at Linda Craft & Team REALTORS®, our 30+ years of experience handling more than 10,000 contracts in the Triangle gives us the expertise to help you with all the disclosures and paperwork necessary in today’s heavily regulated environment.

An In-Depth Understanding of Market Conditions

When it comes to any business decision, we firmly believe that knowledge is power. That’s why we aim to empower our clients with a pre-listing consultation in order to fully understand today’s market conditions and the best ways to succeed in the Raleigh real estate market. Over the past 30+ years, we have used our in-depth market expertise to help our clients win during the toughest times in history (think the Savings and Loan Crisis, the Dot Com Bust, and the devastating Mortgage Crisis of the 2000s).

In a good market we leverage all our past experience and knowledge to assure the best results for our clients. Our team wins when our clients win!

Here’s a Breakdown for You

Of all the advantages that come from working with our team, Linda Craft & Team REALTORS®:

  • Experience of over 30 years in this area
  • Proven track record of bringing their clients success with over 10,000 homes closed
  • Unsurpassed world wide marketing causing their listings to sell faster
  • Expert negotiations that net our sellers higher returns on one of their largest investments
  • Dedicated closing manager so no detail is missed that could cause closing delays
  • Free staging advice from a professional home stager
  • Professional photography and drone photography
  • Appraiser for accurate square footage and compliance
  • Free moving truck, notary service, and shredding service
  • Vacant home service by a trained and dedicated team member
  • Fix and Flip interest-free financing
  • When you choose Linda Craft & Team you are supporting a local, woman-owned business
  • Invitations to client appreciation events all year long
  • Referrals to home-care professionals offering discounts

Ready for Real Estate Success in the Triangle?

We’re ready to help. Give our team a call today to learn more about your options for selling your home for top dollar in the Greater Raleigh Area.

Searching for a Smaller Home? Here are the Top Tips for Downsizing

Downsizing can be a great choice for homeowners looking to make a financial or lifestyle change. After all, a smaller amount of space means less money on utility bills and less stress from clutter.

Are you a new empty-nester? Moving for financial reasons? Or maybe you’ve watched a few episodes of Tidying Up with Marie Kondo and feel inspired?  No matter your motivation, you’re not alone—downsizing has become an increasingly popular trend for homeowners everywhere.

If you’re making the move to a smaller place, here are some tips for a Marie Kondo-style downsizing experience.

Know What You Have

A suitcase filled with random belongings.Walk through your house room by room, and make a detailed list of your belongings. A helpful tip for keeping track? If you aren’t in a rush to downsize, take note of each item and how often you use it over the course of a few weeks or a month. That way, you learn exactly what you’d miss most and what you could go without.

Some downsizers use a color-coded sticker system, some jot notes in a notebook, and some just sort things into piles. Find the method that works best for you, and go from there.

…And What You Don’t Need

A row of clothes hanging in a closet.Once you’ve found out what items aren’t essentials, it’s time to toss them out. Try to focus on things like duplicate items, such as more than one kitchen utensil, and large collections that have accumulated over the years. To paraphrase the aforementioned organizing consultant Marie Kondo: keep the things that spark joy….but get rid of the rest.

There are plenty of great options for rehoming your unwanted items. Try making a little extra money by selling online, donating things to a good cause, or giving items to friends and family.

Maximize Your Space

A built-in wall shelf with small trinkets.When your overall amount of space goes down, you’re required to think of ways to use what you have more efficiently. Storage gadgets such as wall racks, built-in shelves, and pull-out cabinets can tuck belongings out of the way and give you a surprising amount of real estate to work with.

You might also have some furniture that can do double duty. Lots of kitchen or coffee tables either come with or can be customized to include drawers underneath, and bed frames are great for hiding away sliding storage units.

Measure, Measure, Measure

Measuring tape and two rulers laying on a white surface.Hopefully, you’ll have a solid idea of the space you’ll be moving into—at least as far as square footage goes—so you’ll know exactly how much room you have for all of your belongings.

Once you know the size of your space, break out the measuring tape, and take note of the dimensions of the furniture you’re bringing along. The last thing you want is to haul your couch all the way to your new home only to discover that it doesn’t fit in the living room.

Ready to Make a Move?

We know that paring down your possessions can be tough, and moving comes with a wide range of emotions. Try taking pictures of the things you’ll miss most, so you can keep the memories around in your new space.

Once you’re ready to get started on your new home search, give Linda Craft & Team REALTORS® a call. We have years of experience helping Raleigh buyers and sellers achieve success in their real estate transaction. Allow us to use our expertise to help you find the home you’ve been searching for.