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!

The Best Real Estate Advice for Millennials—from a Millionaire

If you’re a millennial, then you’re probably a little tired of hearing all the criticism towards your generation. Buying avocado toast instead of saving money, always texting instead of calling—they’re all pretty unfair generalizations.

Another common criticism of millennials? That they never buy homes. But actually, that couldn’t be further from the truth! In fact, millennials represent the largest portion of homebuyers in the market.

And according to millionaire David Bach, buying a home is one of the best decisions you can make for your future equity.

It’s All About Owning

A beautiful home.

Since you’re likely working with limited funds, your first home probably won’t be your dream home—but that’s okay. Getting your foot in the door and buying a home is the stepping stone to building wealth and equity, according to Bach. Even if your budget isn’t as high as you’d like, it’s best to buy as soon as you can!

In Bach’s opinion, you should start by crunching the numbers. You might think you can’t afford a home, but setting clear goals based on concrete numbers will help put things into a realistic perspective.

A good rule of thumb? Make sure your home payments don’t total more than 30% of your take-home pay.

David Bach’s Background

A person pulling money out of their wallet.

Why should you trust what Bach has to say? Well, his resume speaks for itself. A self-made millionaire, Bach has written nine consecutive New York Times bestsellers.

Not only that, but he’s also one of the only business authors to ever have four books on the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, BusinessWeek, and USA Today bestseller lists at the same time. His book The Automatic Millionaire even spent 31 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list!

Additionally, Bach is considered to be one of the foremost authorities on finance, appearing as a contributor on NBC’s Today Show,  ABC, CBS, Fox, CNBC, CNN, Yahoo, The View, and PBS.

Why Now is a Great Time to Buy

A person holding up house keys.

If you’re all in on following Bach’s advice, then you should know: now is the perfect time to buy a home—and we’re not just saying that.

Mortgage rates are hitting near-record lows, and home prices are steadily increasing. Buying a home soon means saving on payments now and benefitting from higher prices in the future.

Ready to Get Started?

We understand that buying a home is a major decision. But with over 300 years of combined real estate experience, in-depth area knowledge, and a wide collection of resources, Linda Craft & Team REALTORS® are well-equipped to lead you to buying success.

Explore a few of our resources, kick off your home search, and give us a call when you’re ready to get started.

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.

Beware of House Hunting in Raleigh, NC

Let us be honest, we have all grown so accustomed to having the internet that we use it for virtually everything. But, if you are considering purchasing a home online the same way you shop for clothes, then beware of house hunting in Raleigh, NC or any other area for that matter.

Realtors Just Open Doors, Right?

Realtor holding keys to houseShopping online is great, but purchasing a home involves a lengthy process and a legally binding contract. Please protect yourself by committing to a professional Buyer Agent with lots of experience to help you through it. There is no cost to you for this service so arm yourself with true buying power.

Door Opener or Professional Realtor?

The way you can always tell if you have a true professional is if they offer an initial consultation to educate you on the process, help you assess what your needs are, and the best place to start moving forward.

Each property is different and Realtors know the pitfalls and gains associated with various properties like foreclosures or new construction in an underdeveloped area. They understand the differences between Short Sales and traditional purchasing, as well as when one type of sale is more profitable than the other. After all, this is not just a home it is an investment as well.

If you treat a Realtor as someone who just opens the door to a property you found online, you are missing out on the larger value they bring to the experience.

Know More, Stress Less

Home buyers who have not prepared or been properly educated to the North Carolina buying process have one thing in common after they enter into the contract: they become very stressed and fearful by all the things they did not know.

explaining home buying processA professional Realtor will help you navigate inspection snags, mortgage process, negotiate for you, and complete all the added paperwork that may arise. Buying a home is not a simple process and it can quickly become overwhelming if you are unprepared, leading to unnecessary anxiety and emotional distress along the way.

Realtors also have access to off market properties you cannot find on-line. In addition, they know which properties are likely to increase in value over time versus those which will quickly depreciate after the sale. Having this expertise on your side will not only give you a better buying experience, but also a greater satisfaction with your purchase when it is all said and done.

Added with the fact that the Realtor fee comes out of the listing firm’s commission instead of your own pocket makes not hiring a Buying Agent at the beginning a poor decision indeed.

Linda Craft & Team, Realtors

buyers looking for homesSearching online for an idea of the type of home you are looking to purchase is great, but you are doing yourself a disservice if you end your search there. Professional Realtors like those at Linda Craft & Team, Realtors are invaluable to the home buying experience. We work around the clock, 7 days a week, to provide you with homes that meet your needs and your budget. We have serviced the Great Raleigh area for over 30 years and were voted #1 in the Triangle.

Let us show you what it is like to have a professional home buying experience by scheduling an appointment with us today at 919-235-0007.

Safety Comes First In Real Estate Professions

Safety & Real Estate

Did you know that more real estate agents die each year showing houses than those killed in dangerous professions, like bull riding, stunt pilots, and motorcycle racers? As of now, 25 REALTORS® have been killed while showing houses. And, this number only increases when you consider all of those who were robbed, assaulted, and faced with other life threatening situations.

With that in mind, many real estate professionals are taking measures to ensure safety for both themselves and their clients. This information, provided by the Linda Craft Team, can help you know what to expect when meeting a REALTOR® in the Triangle and Greater Raleigh Area during your home search.

Meet REALTORS® At Their Office or in Public Spaces

steering-wheel-801994_640Last year the National Association of REALTORS® launched Safety First, where real estate companies mandate that home buyers must meet REALTORS® at their office or a public space, and potential Raleigh home buyers must provide identification.

Open Door was launched to further help protect real estate professionals. Sometimes, meeting at the agent’s office and riding with the REALTOR® can be an inconvenience to either or both parties, especially when the home you wish to view is not nearby. In this case, mortgage companies, title companies, and attorneys register their offices as “open door” places for REALTORS® to meet clients. If your agent requests to meet you at one of these “open door” spaces or their office before heading out to view Raleigh area homes you wish to see, know these are becoming more commonly used safety precautions to protect both parties.

Let the Linda Craft Team Help You Achieve Your Real Estate Goals!

Are you searching for the home of your dreams in the Triangle? Let us help! We pride ourselves in our ability to serve our client’s needs, to include taking the safety precautions to protect both parties. Use these tips for buyers to help you through the process and to ensure a smooth transaction.

Ready to sell your Raleigh area real estate? Home sellers face many of the same safety risks as real estate professionals. Reduce your risk and list your home with the Linda Craft Team, as REALTORS® have more experience in this field and take measures to stay safe on the job.

Why People Sell Their Wake County Home: Financial Hardship

Real Estate Decisions When Money is Tight

The only constant in life is change. Changes in life can be sudden. Too often, homeowners find themselves in a position where they can no longer afford their home. If you’ve been in this position, you know how many hard decisions there are to make. You’ve felt the flood of emotions. You’ve asked yourself the questions. You’ve wrestled mentally and emotionally with yourself and your choices. Do you borrow against the house, sell, or try to hold on longer even with a shrinking income?

How To Handle Your Triangle Real Estate Investment When Things Get Hard

The trick here is not to let yourself be paralyzed by hard decisions and the hope that things will get better if you just hold on. In your head, you know that you need to reduce your expenses, but in your heart, you don’t want to give up your home. Where will you live? How are you going to make ends meet? What should you do?

You’re a logical person. You’ve already counted your dollars, and you know when the well is going to run dry. It’s time to take action and explore your options. Linda Craft & Team, REALTORS can offer years of experience from helping others in situations just like yours.

House made of moneyThe Three Most Common Financial Hardships

The stress caused by a financial change is hard to deal with. You may go through stages of shock, disappointment, depression, anger, and sometimes regret. Sadly, many people living in a financial crisis also lose their marriage or their health because of the stress. This blog was written with the hope that people will find help and solutions from the real experiences we have had in working with thousands of homeowners in these situations.

The good news is, financial hardship is usually temporary (depending on what age it hits you and what caused it in the first place). As a top Triangle real estate company, for over 30 years we have walked alongside many families in tough financial times. In our consultation, it is hard to tell families in such deep despair that things will get better, but soon, they find themselves back on their financial feet and excited about shopping for a home and rebuilding their life. Luckily, they have a new perspective from the lessons they learned.

Here are the three most common financial hardships that families face. These hardships have a way of destroying marriages, rocking families in a really bad way, and can lead to a loss of homes.

1. Medical Expenses

Failing health and medical expenses can hit you like a double-edged sword. When medical expenses and failing health hit homeowners at the same time, working again or at the same level may not be possible. This type of financial hardship may not be temporary. Health problems and medical bills may call for a drastic life change.

It doesn’t seem fair that in caring for a loved one, medical expenses can become so high that you have to sell your family home to put the money towards medical bills. If you are young when this situation hits, it may be temporary. Soon, this time and debt will pass and you will be back in a home again. If you are older, realistically you may not have enough working years left to get out of debt. Selling your house to buy something less expensive may be your best solution.

If you are considering declaring bankruptcy, beware of the serious consequences and bankruptcy mills advertised on late night TV. Call us for a referral to an attorney that will guide you with your future in mind.

2. Job Loss

You got a new job, moved into a new home, a life was good. Until one day, you walked into work and were handed a pink slip. When your regular paycheck stops, it doesn’t take long for most people to switch into crisis mode. They typically blow through their savings quickly, and then turn to borrowing money to make ends meet. They borrow from…

  • Family members
  • Retirement accounts (with high penalties for early withdrawal)
  • Credit cards (with insane interest rates)
  • And if they qualify, they borrow on their house (using an equity line of credit)

Keep in mind that the cash flow created from borrowing is temporary. It can become a ball and chain around you for your future. Don’t dig yourself into a deep dark hole with this plan. It could lead to bankruptcy, short sale, or foreclosure. Even worse, the stress of long-term debt can lead to a life of regret, divorce, and even more heartache.

3. Consumer Debt (aka, Life Happens)

The car breaks down and you have no savings, so you put the repair on a credit card with 20% interest added to your repayment.   Then your children need braces, and you are given a monthly payment plan from the orthodontist.  You wreck your car, and now you have to buy a new one.  A car payment of lease payment is added to your expense column.  College costs continue to increase and slowly, with time, life circumstances cause unplanned consumer debt to grow and grow and grow.

You pay and pay, month after month, but the balance you owe never seems to shrink. Homeowners in this situation have a huge advantage over renters. They own something of value, and can sell it to get under the stress that follows high consumer debt.

Be careful of debt consolidation plans – they will ruin your credit. The total of your monthly payments may have gone down and feel better on your budget and lifestyle, but it is a major red flag on your credit report. Your credit score will drop immediately, and for years, everything will cost you more.  The interest on your credit cards will increase, health insurance and car insurance may also go up.

Selling a house to free up equity to pay off debt is one of the best ways to pay off high interest rate consumer debt. Your house can be an ATM machine.  Owning a home is an investment that grows in value. Unlike renting, when you own a house you can sell it at any time and move the equity you have gained anywhere you wish.  If consumer debt is causing you stress, consider selling the house and starting over.

Consumer debt has high interest rates with no tax advantage and is a big ding to your credit score.  A mortgage comes with a low interest rate that is tax deductible and is considered good debt on your credit report.

When consumer debt is stealing your joy and making your life miserable, my advice is to sell the house, get out of debt and then read Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Make Over so you never find yourself in this awful situation again.

Don’t Make These Mistakes When Selling Your Raleigh Area Home!

Don’t dig yourself deeper into the hole that financial hardships create. Climb your way out by avoiding these common mistakes homeowners make during financial hardships. Find out how to make good home buying decisions in the greater Raleigh real estate market.

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How Can We Help You Through Difficult Times?

If you need home buying or selling advice, please call Linda Craft & Team, REALTORS for a free consultation. One of the great advantages of talking with a top producing Realtor like us, over an average income earning Realtor, is a top agent makes enough money that they do not need to sell you anything. We are here to help and will be around for years to help you again when the right time comes for you to move.

We have helped people find solutions, make excellent real estate buying and selling decisions, and guided our clients to wealth building for more than 30 years. If you find yourself in need of great real estate advice, that is tried and true over 7,000 times, contact us today.

2015 Triangle Real Estate News

What’s New in the Triangle Real Estate Market

Home ownership is the American Dream! A home provides shelter, safety, and an investment that forces savings and increases in value over time – allowing you to build personal wealth. Knowing how important a good real estate investment can be to your future, let’s take a look at how the 2014 Triangle real estate market performed and the outlook is for 2015.

Trends and hot topics will be discussed, and we will answer frequently asked questions.

Included in the topic lineup:

  • Available housing
  • Luxury market
  • Distressed properties (short sales and foreclosures)
  • Interest rates
  • Home values

Raleigh real estate marketHousing Supply in the Greater Raleigh Area

The inventory of homes for sale is low in most segments of Wake, Chatham and Durham Counties. If you are considering selling a home in the greater Raleigh area, now is the time to list and sell for top dollar while there is less competition.

Traditionally, sellers wait until spring to list properties, which means they will have more competition and their odds of selling for top dollar is reduced. Home prices rise as inventory shrinks, and it is currently down 20%. If you are buying a home, this shrinking inventory means you have less to choose from and could find yourself in competition with other buyers for a home.

When more homes enter the market in the spring, a small window of more choices is created for the buyer, but more competition among sellers. Bottom line…if you are selling a home, list it now. If you want to buy a home, prepare to act fast. When you see a home you really like, don’t wait, or another buyer may beat you to it. If the right home is not out there right now, wait until spring, and you may have more choices for 30 to 60 days.

The Triangle Luxury Market

The luxury market experienced a 24% increase in homes sold in 2014, according the Triangle Multiple Listing Service. The luxury market in the Triangle (Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill) is $750,000 and up.

  • 368 luxury homes were sold in the Triangle in 2013.
  • The highest sale price for 2013 was a house in Wakefield, which sold for $2,875,000.
  • In 2014, the Triangle Multiple Listing Service reported 470 luxury homes were sold.
  • The highest sale price in 2014 was $4,800,000, for a home located in Chapel Hill.

One of the reasons for the increase in luxury homes sold, is because it is currently much easier to qualify for jumbo mortgages. Jumbo loan amounts start at $417,000. We expect even higher sales numbers for luxury homes in 2015, as confidence in the real estate market continues to grow and lending is made easier.

Distressed Properties in the Triangle

Distressed properties, which are short sales and foreclosures, made up 15% of our inventory of homes for sale at one time. Now that home values have gone up, many people are once again finding themselves in a much better equity position. Distressed properties make up approximately 6% of our total current market.

However, even with great improvements, we expect it will be another 4 years before this segment normalizes. Many people are stuck in mortgages with high interest rates, or mortgage balances higher than they can sell for due to 100% financing, equity lines of credit, or loan modifications. If you are one of these homeowners drowning in debt, give us a call. Our staff is certified and experienced at finding dignified solutions for homeowners. You have options. Let us help you find the right one.

Interest Rates at an All-Time Low

Interest Rates remain at a historical low, and my expert lenders believe they will even drop slightly lower before they start rising again in the fall. Interest rates have been so low for so long that it is hard to wrap your mind around interest rates in the double digits. When I began my career in 1985, mortgage interest rates were at 16%. In fact, the national average for mortgage rates is approximately 10%.

These low interest rates are allowing home buyers to afford more housing than in years past. With money so readily available, now is the ideal time to buy a new home. Interest rates are low, and home prices are going up – a combination perfect for building future wealth if you buy now.

Wake County Home Values

In the Wake County area, home values went up in 2014. Most home owners realized a gain of approximately 4%. If you want to receive a value specific to your home and geographical area, contact Linda Craft & Team, Realtors for a free analysis, or sign up for our super cool online tool. This free online service will provide both a market value for your home, and a market trend report showing your homes future potential.

Considering Buying or Selling a Raleigh Home?

Contact Raleigh real estate experts, Linda Craft & Team, to set up a free consultation with a buyers specialist who can help you navigate the exciting Raleigh market. Call 919.235.0007 today!

 

2012 Wake County Parade of Homes: Top 7 Things To Do When You Preview Homes

The 2012 Wake County Parade of Homes will be held on the weekends of September 29-30, October 5-7 and October 12-14, from 12-5 p.m. daily.  As the Wake County Parade of Homes prepares to start next week many people like yourself will be amongst the crowd and looking for opportunities. The Linda Craft Real Estate Team has put together the Top 7 Things To Do When You Preview The Wake County Parade of Homes.

MyHomeFinder App Image

1.  Plan Ahead

The Parade of Homes covers a large area of the Triangle.  Gas up, pack your water, charge your phone, camera and get your GPS plugged in!

Many different housing businesses in the Triangle will have a copy of the Parade of Homes Map.  Be sure to call The Linda Craft & Team REALTORS at 919-235-0007 to receive further information on the featured homes. Have a Smartphone? Download the MyHomeFound app to favorite a home, get directions, Tweet, and Facebook about the homes you find during the Parade. Take advantage of the mapping capability to make finding homes easier.

2.  Know Your Numbers

One of the challenges of looking for a home in the Triangle is finding one that you love and then not being able to pursue it when you find out that you will not qualify.  Have you checked your credit lately?  Have you talked with a Triangle Area lender?  Do you have your downpayment money saved?  Having everything ready when you are ready to make a decision on your new home will save you valuable time later.

3.  Preview Homes Online

Do you have an idea of what you are looking for in you new home in the Triangle?  Do you need a downstairs master bedroom?  Would you like a screen porch?  With gas prices so high it would be wise to preview the Parade Homes on sites such as local Pinterest feeds or local Raleigh Area Real Estate Websites.

4.  Take A Lot of Pictures

Speaking of Pinterest, you may want to download the cool Pinterest app to you iPhone or Droid. That way you can upload/pin images of Parade homes to specific boards you can create. Ideas for boards may be by neighborhood, by style, by price, or whatever board category you want (Pinterest sign-up, Pinterest iTunes app, Google Play Store)

Want to know an insider trick?  Always take a picture of the outside of a house and then the street number or lot number before you start taking inside pictures of a property.  This will help you remember which cool bathroom you liked in which house vs. having everything blur together.

5.  Be Respectful of The Properties

Please be sure to park on the street or driveways and not on the grass.  Builders have spent quite a bit of time and money to make sure their homes are in the best possible condition.  Please be respectful of their hard work.

6.  Check Out the Neighborhood

If you decide that you really like a house, be sure to drive all the way through the neighborhood.  Are the amenities finished?  Are all of the roads paved?  Are the street lights in?  What do the exisiting homes look like?   Don’t forget to search the internet for any reference to that neighborhood as well.  How are the online reviews about the builder?  What about the Home Owner’s Association?

7.  Keep Your Poker Face

If you really like a home and think it may be “the one” for you and your family, KEEP YOUR POKER FACE ON!!!   Don’t let the agent in the house know that you like it.  They work for the builder and will be representing the best interest of their client.  Do not tell them anything.  The more that you say you love the home and it is perfect, the more they will stick to the list price instead of negotiating with you.  An experienced Buyer Agent can negotiate for you and provide you with assistance – all at no additional cost to you.

Which 2012 Wake County Parade of Homes Entry is Your Favorite?

Let us know in the comments below!

For more information about The Parade of Homes or to schedule a confidential consultation with an experience Buyer Specialist, please call 919-235-0007 or check out our 2012 Parade of Homes webpage.