Streamline Your Raleigh Home Search with These 6 Key Tips

A couple sitting at a computer, smiling as they look at the results of their research.

Buying a home can be challenging, especially when you factor in low inventory levels in top cities like Raleigh. High demand and low inventory have created something of a seller’s market, and while conditions are slowly improving for buyers, the market is still tipped favorably towards sellers.

But don’t give up! While finding a home that’s just right and within your price range can be tricky, it’s by no means impossible. Use these six tips to streamline your home search in Raleigh.

Have a question about buying a home and want to speak to an expert? Give us a call, we’re always here to help.

Tip 1: Get Pre-Approved Right Now

Getting pre-approved for a mortgage will save you so much time as you navigate searching for a home. Essentially, the pre-approval process works like this: you’ll sit down with a lender who will review all of your finances. The lender will crunch some numbers and then give you an estimate with an interest rate—that’s how much the bank is willing to lend you.

Look at this number as your budget, and then do some extra calculations on the side. Based on your down payment, interest rate, and loan length, are you comfortable with what those monthly payments look like? Adjust your budget as necessary until you hit your sweet spot.

Tip 2: Clearly Define Your “Must-Haves” and “Like-to-Haves”

A large luxury bedroom with a white bed and wood closet.

Balancing your needs and wants is tricky in any buying situation, but can quickly become overwhelming when you’re searching for a home. Think about your lifestyle essentials to determine exactly what you need in a home. This typically includes things like “three bedrooms,” “two bathrooms,” and “10 miles from Downtown.” These are your deal breakers.

“Like-to-haves” aka wants are nice to have in your potential home, but not deal breakers. These are things like walk-in showers, finished “man caves,” and farmhouse-style sinks.

Tip 3: Carefully Research Local Neighborhoods

In addition to finding a home that’s the right fit, you want to make sure the neighborhood has everything you need. Do some research to make sure any particular community has the amenities, features, and location that you need in a home.

We can help with that!

Tip 4: Stick to One Type of House

An aerial shot of multiple homes in a neighborhood.

Would you like one level of living (a ranch-style home) or something more like a Cap Cod with bedrooms on multiple levels? Assess your needs and narrow down your housing preferences to one specific style.

This will make it easier to find homes that meet your needs in the greater Raleigh area!

Tip 5: Write Everything Down and Take Pictures

As you tour multiple homes in Raleigh, document every visit so you can go back to them later! Jot down notes on your smart phone or a notebook as you walk around, and try to take pictures of things that you like and dislike.

Having thorough documentation will make it easier to sit down and make a decision—especially if you’re considering more than one home!

Tip 6: Work with a Professional REALTOR®

Having the right real estate agent on your side makes all the difference. If you’re searching for your dream home in the greater Raleigh area, then it’s time to call Linda Craft.

Linda Craft & Team REALTORS® are an award-winning team of real estate professionals serving Raleigh and the greater Triangle area. We have plenty of resources for you to choose from to help make your home search as easy as possible.

Why Now is the Best Time to Downsize

A simple kitchen with tile backsplash, wood countertops, and white paneled cabinets.

Searching for a smaller home? Chances are, you’re not alone.

Over the past few years, many “baby boomers” have experienced a sudden change. Their children have moved out and bought homes of their own, leaving their parents to dream about their own lives.

Oftentimes, such a sudden change in household size can be eye-opening. All of a sudden, that two story home with five bedrooms is too big. It’s costly, overly spacious, and hard to keep up with.

The solution? Downsizing.

Save Money & Improve Your Lifestyle

Downsizing your home is becoming a popular option for older generations. In the past, developers and builders focused on constructing huge luxury properties. But, just like the real estate market, that has shifted significantly.

In Raleigh, you’ll discover a wide variety of homes perfectly suited for smaller households. Two- or three-bedroom ranch style homes are increasingly popular, which is why you’ll find plenty of homes like this for sale in Raleigh.

Plus, unlike more luxury options, these homes are highly affordable.

Find Amenities Catered to Your Needs

A man standing on the golf course at sunset.

The best part about downsizing? You can find a neighborhood that offers all the amenities you’ve ever wanted! Don’t want to take care of your yard or home’s exterior? Search for homes in low-maintenance or maintenance-free communities!

Want to live right on the golf course? There are plenty of golf neighborhoods in Raleigh, as well as the greater Triangle area. When it comes to finding your dream home in Raleigh, you have every option right at your fingertips.

Downsizing is Highly Affordable

As the housing market throughout the United States remains consistent and reliable, you’ll notice a variety of single-family homes sold at lower price points.

According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), “The inventory of new homes for sale was 344,000 in March, representing a 6 months’ supply. The median sales price was $302,700 with strong gains in homes sold at lower price points. The median price of a new home sale a year earlier was $335,400.”

Looking to Downsize Your Raleigh Home?

Linda Craft & Team REALTORS® can help you find the perfect home in Raleigh. Give us a call today to explore all your Raleigh home-buying options!

As the Average Rent in Raleigh Increases… It Might Be Time to Look Into Buying

A beautiful kitchen with pots of fresh herbs in the window sill.

While renting has a number of unique benefits, it also has one big disadvantage in the Raleigh area: it’s skyrocketing.

While rent prices have gone up significantly every year since 2005, the average mortgage payment has actually decreased since then. In fact, according to Core Logic, the average rent has increased by 36% between 2005 and December 2018. In that same time period, the average monthly mortgage payment went down by 4%.

What does this mean for people living in Raleigh? It’s time to buy a home. Here’s why.

Rent Prices are Only Going to Continue Increasing

This goes without saying. For renters, there’s no assurance that your landlord won’t jack up the rent prices every year you continue living there. Landlords do this to keep up with inflation, but also because they can.

If you buy a home, however, you can expect payments that are both lower and set. Depending on the type of mortgage loan you take out to finance your home purchase, you can probably expect to pay the exact same amount every month during the term of your loan.

Is Buying a Home Really More Affordable?

A woman sitting at a desk, crunching numbers on a calculator with a small stack of papers in the other hand.

Yes. It all has to do with your mortgage. Your monthly mortgage payments depend heavily on your loan’s interest rates. Luckily, mortgage rates right now are some of the lowest they’ve been since 2005.

According to the Economists’ Outlook Blog, the percentage of income needed to purchase a home throughout the United States has decreased steadily since November of 2018. This is great news for potential buyers: it means that they’ll need less of their income to afford a home.

Want to Learn More About Buying a Home in Raleigh?

Linda Craft & Team REALTORS® is here to help. Give us a call today to begin exploring your home-buying options in Raleigh and the greater NC Triangle area. With our years of experience, in-depth market knowledge, and local real estate resources, we have everything you need to make a successful home purchase.

The Home Buying Debate: 3 Big Questions to Ask Yourself Before Buying a Home

A man and a woman with their arms around each other, looking at the front of the home they've just purchased.

If you’re in the middle of buying a home in the greater Raleigh area, you’ve probably already listened to a lot of unprompted advice. Home-buying, and real estate in general, is one of those topics that elicits some pretty strong opinions.

At the end of the day, however, it all boils down to what you think and what you’re looking for in a home. That’s why I recommend sitting down to ask yourself three big questions before you buy a home.

1. Why are You Buying a Home?

Put aside the financial side of things for a minute. Why do you really want to buy a home? If you have kids, you might be thinking about living within a great school district. If you’re nearing the retirement age, you might want to be closer to your family and friends (as well as your favorite golf course).

It may be for a different reason altogether! There are plenty of reasons to buy a home, and each one is just as valid and important as the last.

In fact, did you know that the top four reasons Americans buy a home, according to a study at Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University are:

  • A good place to raise children and provide them with a good education
  • A place where you and your family feel safe
  • More space for you and your family
  • Control of that space

What non-financial benefits do you hope to gain from owning a home? Those are the most important things to consider when you start searching.

2. How are Home Values Faring in this Market?

Rising house prices. Man is holding green arrow up in his hand and house on the table.

Over the past several years, home values have appreciated steadily. According to the National Association of Realtors’ Existing Home Sales Report median price of homes sold in February was up 3.6% from this time last year.

In their recent Home Price Insights report, Core Logic predicted that home values would rise 4.6% over the next year.

With home prices increasing so steadily, now is the best time to buy. For example, if you’re looking at a home that is worth $250,000 today, it will cost around $11,500 more if you wait until next year to buy it.

3. What are Mortgage Interest Rates Like?

The long-term cost of a home is largely based upon mortgage interest rates, which dictate how much you’ll end up paying every month for your home.

Right now, mortgage rates are at their lowest. However, both the NAR and the Mortgage Bankers Association predict that mortgage rates will increase over the next year.

So, now is the time to buy a home and lock in those low mortgage rates! This will ensure a steady, low monthly mortgage payment in the Raleigh market.

How to Know When It’s Time to Buy a Home

Truthfully, only you can know when it’s the right time. Buying a home is a huge decision, and whether or not it makes sense for your right now depends entirely on how you answered those three questions.

Have additional questions about buying a home in Raleigh? Linda Craft & Team REALTORS® is here to help. Give us a call to talk home buying. We’d love to walk you through your different options in the greater Raleigh real estate market.

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.

Guess What? You Do Not Need a 20% Down Payment to Buy a Home in Raleigh!

Many people believe that they can’t afford to buy a home because they can’t afford the down payment. Time and time again, I hear would-be homebuyers resign themselves to a life of renting because a 20% down payment just isn’t feasible.

However, this is one of the biggest myths of buying a home! The truth is, you do not need to put down 20% to buy a home. There are plenty of options for buying a home without a hefty down payment!

What You Need to Know

According to a recent study called “Barriers to Accessing Homeownership,” 39% of non-homeowners and 30% of those who already own a home think that they need more than a 20% down payment.

But that just isn’t true. In fact, there are a number of loans available that don’t require a down payment at all or require a very small one.

Did you know that the median down payment on loans approved in 2018 was only 5%? If you’ve spent the last couple of years saving up for your down payment, chances are you already have enough saved to buy now!

The Lowest Down Payment Loans Out There

A family of three holding a pink piggybank with coins spilling out.Here are three loans that offer low to zero down payments. There are certain eligibility requirements for each, but don’t feel discouraged if they won’t work for you! Please give us a call at Linda Craft & Team REALTORS®!

Chances are, we know of the perfect solution to fit your unique situation in the Raleigh real estate market.

VA Loan

It’s no secret that the VA loan is one of the best mortgage loans out there. It is available to qualified veterans, active-duty service members, certain spouses, and other specific members of the National Guard and Reserves.

The VA loan features a 0% down payment and does not require mortgage insurance. It is offered through a local lender, but guaranteed by the government. The borrower does have to pay a funding fee (anywhere from 1.25 to 3.3%) that can be included in the total loan amount.

USDA Loan

Attractive kitchen with hardwood floors, marble countertops, and hanging light fixture.This loan is available for certain eligible buyers. It has restrictions based on household income, as well as certain credit and employment requirements.

It is designed for people looking to buy a single-family residence in a suburban or rural area. The USDA has maps with specific eligibility information, so you can easily see if your property is eligible!

The USDA loan is one of the most popular loans available, and it isn’t uncommon for the total fund to run out before the end of the fiscal year. If you’re interested in using a USDA loan to buy a home in the North Carolina Triangle, check your eligibility requirements and then give us a call!

Federal Housing Administration

The FHA loan requires a minimum down payment of 3.5% and is a great option for would-be buyers that have a low credit score or history of poor credit.

While it charges a low down payment, it does require the borrower to purchase mortgage insurance upfront with a premium of about 1.75% of the total mortgage amount.

Your Dreams of Homeownership are Within Reach!

We know you can do it! Please know that you have plenty of options when it comes to buying a home in Raleigh or another popular Triangle community.

When you choose to work with Linda Craft & Team REALTORS®, you’re enlisting the help of the Triangle’s #1 real estate team. We have the resources and experience to help you buy the home of your dreams. No 20% down payment necessary!

Ready to begin exploring your home buying options? Please reach out to us today!

 

Want to Build Your Wealth? It’s Time to Buy a Home in Raleigh

The most surefire way to begin building your wealth in the NC Triangle? Become a homeowner.

Buying a home essentially forces you to build wealth. To purchase a home, you have to apply for a mortgage loan to pay for it. Then, every month, you pay off a percentage of that mortgage. Each mortgage payment brings you a little bit closer to fully owning the home on your own, and makes your equity a little big bigger. To be honest, your home is really just one big savings account.

So, owning a home and paying your mortgage every month builds your wealth for the long run.

Owning a Home Leads to Financial Security

A white table with a checkbook and small stack of money.According to many housing experts in the real estate industry, buying a home before the age of 35 leads to being better prepared for retirement at age 60.

If you’re a millennial in the greater Raleigh area, you may believe that you can’t afford to buy a home because of the massive down payment or the high mortgage interest rates. However, that’s not actually true!

If you can afford to pay rent every month, you can afford to buy a home. Plus, with so many different mortgage options available, it’s not always necessary to pay a huge 20% down payment!

Navigate the Triangle Real Estate Market

Cute interior decor.It’s never too early to begin planning for your retirement. And, the sooner you begin saving, the better off you will be when it’s finally time to retire!

It’s no secret that housing wealth is the largest single source of wealth currently available. Plus, the emotional benefits that come from buying a home are on the same level as the financial benefits!

If you’re interested in building your wealth by buying a home in the greater Raleigh area, then it’s time to contact Linda Craft & Team REALTORS®.

You Deserve a Successful Real Estate Transaction

When you choose to work with Linda Craft & Team REALTORS®, you’re enlisting the help of an all-star team that will stop at nothing to make sure you achieve success in the Triangle real estate market.

As the Triangle’s #1 Ranked Real Estate Team, we know exactly how to help our clients find the perfect home. Give us a call today to explore your real estate options in the greater Raleigh area!

3 Reasons Why the Raleigh Area is a Great Place to Relocate

Relocate To Raleigh North Carolina

There’s a lot of buzz about “Best Places to Live” flying around the internet. Without a doubt if you Google “Hottest Housing Markets” you will see Raleigh, NC positioned in the top 10 on most lists depending on what criteria is used. So a safe bet (since you are reading this blog) is that if you are looking to relocate, Raleigh is one of the places you are considering.

What’s so great about the City of Oaks? Well, let’s take a look at why Raleigh continues to be a such great value. Most of these online rankings are based on things like employment opportunities, unemployment rates, average income estimates, housing values, and population growth. Some even take a look at lifestyle factors such as outdoor recreation, restaurants and entertainment, and higher education. So what does it all mean, really?

 

First, You Have to Bring Home the Bacon

Work In Raleigh

Let’s get serious. First and foremost you have to pay the bills, so employment opportunities rank highest on everyone’s list when it comes to relocating. The Triangle area has a reputation worldwide as one of the most progressive, hi-tech, finance, and healthcare hubs. IBM, Cisco, SAS, and Glaxo, Fidelity Investments, Wells Fargo, Lenovo are some of the largest employers in the area. The Triangle also boasts one of the largest entrepreneurial networks in the world with a 30-year track record of successfully nurturing startup companies. These are a few reasons why the unemployment rate is 3.6% – .5% under the national average.

 

Second, Can I Afford a Home in the Triangle?

Can I afford a home?

Yes, housing is tight all over the country. Median home values in the Raleigh area is around $266,000 according to Forbes. So much more affordable than the western part of the country and definitely cheaper than the northeastern part of the US.

Raleigh saw an appreciation rate of 5.9% last year but that’s estimated to level off to 3.7% this year keeping prices from skyrocketing as they have in other parts of the country. With a median household income of $84,288, the American Dream of owning a home is very achievable in Raleigh and the surrounding areas.

 

Third, Will I Enjoy Living in the Triangle?

Fun in the park.

Well, that all depends on your tastes and interests. If you like to be outdoors, enjoy moderate temperatures most of the year, like the beach or the mountains, then you will definitely enjoy this area. Here’s a link to things to do in NC which will help you connect with area offerings.

Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill each house top-ranked universities – NC State University, Duke, and the University of North Carolina. So what? Well, having three college towns means loads of restaurants, entertainment, and SPORTS!!! Where else can you enjoy all the benefits of THREE major universities all within 30 minutes of each other.


Need Help Relocating?

One of the favorite things our agents love about working here is being able to help people relocate to this area. Many have lived here for years; some have lived here all their lives and they have raised their own families here. Wouldn’t a person like that be someone you would trust to share their knowledge of the area with you; helping you to find just the right neighborhood and the right home for you and your family? Give us a call and talk to one of our relocation specialists today!

Sink or Swim – Diving into the Raleigh Housing Market?

Like any major investment, buying a home is all about timing.

Is now the best time to take the risk and jump into the home ownership pool? In the Raleigh market, 2018 certainly looks like the right time; but sooner rather than later because it could be quite a different pool you are jumping into if you wait until the latter part of the year.

Yes, the past couple of years or so have seen crazy upward movement in price appreciation and yes, there’s a shortage of inventory – record lows to be exact. While all that doesn’t seem too comforting to a buyer, there are other aspects to consider about the temperature of that housing pool you are about to dive into.

Even this early in 2018 we are seeing some home prices leveling off, and while inventory is still low, analysts say all that is about to turn a corner, especially in price points above $350,000. While 2017 saw home prices appreciating at a rate of 5.9%, these prices are expected to level out this year to around 3.7 in the Triangle area.

Three other factors could push you into the pool sooner rather than later:

  • Two – four more mortgage rate increases are predicted to happen this year. You could be looking at a rate of 5% by the end of 2018. Increased mortgage rates decrease the amount of home you can afford to buy.
  • While prices are not predicted to climb at the steep increase we’ve seen this past year, they are going to continue to climb.
  • Home builders are working hard to close that gap in inventory, however, construction labor is not getting any cheaper, land in the Raleigh proper market is scarce, and banks are getting tighter with building loans. These limitations slow the supply side of housing availability.

Buying is still a more desirable option than renting in the long-term.

Buying vs. Renting

Even if this competitive market makes it a challenge to find just what you want in a home, it is possible if you seek the right team of Realtors to help you.  If you are considering taking that plunge in the near future, it’s best to consult a Realtor who has years of experience in this market. Think of them as your personal lifeguard. Their knowledge and determination can be the difference between a refreshing dip in the housing pool or diving head first into the deep end without a floatation device.

If you think purchasing a home in this market is tricky, set up a consultation with one of our agents and let them guide you through the ins and outs of buying safely in this market.  Our 30+ years of helping people like you buy and sell homes in the Raleigh area gives us a vast amount of knowledge we are ready to put to work for you.

Are You Ready for Raleigh’s Favorite Free Sports Festival?

collage of Caniac Carnival activitiesIs there any better way to welcome hockey season than with food trucks, free admission to a scrimmage, and activities for all ages? On Sunday, September 25th, join us for a fun-filled afternoon at PNC Arena in Raleigh for the annual Caniac Carnival.

Between 10 AM and 3 PM, there will be activities happening in and around the arena. Live music, an autograph session with the Canes hockey players, a Red-White scrimmage game, and more than 15 food trucks are just a few of the day’s highlights.

Don’t forget to stop by the Linda Craft & Team, REALTORS® booth to spin our prize wheel!

The Caniac Carnival is a Free Event

Parking at PNC Arena, admission to the Caniac Carnival, and seating at the scrimmage game are free. You can find more Caniac Carnival information, including a list of the day’s activities, on our website.

It’s Almost Hockey Season in Raleigh

North Carolina’s professional hockey team, the Carolina Hurricanes, is based right here in Raleigh. The Caniac Carnival is an exciting kickoff event for the 2016-17 preseason. On Monday, September 26th, the Carolina Hurricanes will travel to the Verizon Center to compete against the Washington Capitals in their first preseason game.

Need Another Reason to Live in Raleigh?

Raleigh homebuyers in front of a houseRaleigh offers more than just free annual festivals and professional sports teams. As North Carolina’s capital city, Raleigh has plenty of affordable homes, a vibrant downtown, and many excellent communities.

For over 30 years, we have helped Raleigh home buyers find their ideal place to live. What are you looking for in a home? Let’s talk. Call us at 919-235-0007.