3 Reasons Why You Should Buy a Home This Fall

Categories: Seasonal Preparations Tips for Buying a Home

 

 

 


Often, in the minds of home buyers, spring and summer are considered to be the best time to buy a home but, in reality, this isn’t necessarily true. In fact, (surprise!) fall might actually be the best season to buy your new home.


Whether you’re not sure if you’re ready to buy a home, or if you’re thinking of buying in the near future, below are a few reasons why buying your home in the fall would be most beneficial.  

Choosing the Right Time of Year

One of the key things prospective home buyers need to consider is when it’s the right time to buy a home. Not only do home prices vary over time, but they also vary over the course of the year. While summer is the most popular time to move or put your home on the market, supply and demand is a big factor in why home prices fluctuate. So, if you’re looking to buy a home in 2018, you’d be wise to consider the timing of your purchase.

The Best Time to Buy a House for a Good Price

The best month to steal a deal when buying a home? October. Though many people think of spring and summer as the hot spots for real estate, it’s for that exact reason that makes October the better month for buying. Spring and summer are overloaded with prospective buyers creating a frenzied market, and, just like the beaches in the fall, the water has cleared making less competition for buyers.

Housing Market Signals

While we’ve explained that fall is the best time to buy a home, it’s more than just pouncing when the market is tired—there’s actual data to be considered, as well. According to 2017 data from Trulia, starter home inventory in the U.S. as a whole gets a 7 percent boost between October and December each year. As a result, we see listing prices that are about 4.8 percent and 3.1 percent lower in the winter and spring than in the summer, respectively.

 


Some other market signals you may want to consider include:

 

 

  • Mortgage rate changes 
  • Bidding wars
  • Pricing trends
  • Local housing trends
  • Times when homeowners may have trouble paying off debt (January and February) 

Together, all of these can be considered as leverage when buying a home. Most importantly, if you want to find a great home for a reasonable price, look for times when the market is soft, or when there are fewer prospects.

 If you’re thinking of buying a home in the coming months, or still unsure and have more questions, our talented team of agents at Janet McAfee are always here and ready to help you navigate the process from start to finish. If you’re looking for a real estate firm you can trust, contact us today!

8 Questions to Ask Your Agent When Starting Your Home Search

Categories: Tips for Buying a Home


Whether it’s your first or your fifth, making the decision to purchase a house is one fueled by emotion. Maybe you’re fueled by excitement at the thought of upgrading to the home of your dreams. Or perhaps that excitement is overshadowed with anxiety over leaving behind a place you’ve made countless memories in.


With the ebb and flow of feelings in tow, it only makes sense that’d you engage a real estate professional you can trust; someone who’s both empathetic and cognizant of your needs. As with any major life decision, put in the due diligence and ask the right questions before signing on the dotted line. You’ll often find that the more selective you are, the more enjoyable and successful the experience will be.

Are you a part-time or full-time agent?

Be mindful of how devoted an agent may be to their line of business. If they’re currently dipping their toes in real estate as a part time job, you may not receive the same level of attention you’d find from a full-time agent or agency.

How many clients are you currently representing?

There’s not necessarily a right or wrong answer to be given in this instance. However, there’s a big difference between five and 20 buyer clients when it comes to the amount of attention you’re hoping to receive. Get a feel for the real estate agent’s level of engagement and how often they’ll be available to respond to questions or concerns as they come up.

Will you representing me exclusively, or both the buyer and seller in the transaction?

While it’s usually legal to represent both parties in a transaction, it’s important to understand where the practitioner’s obligations lie. A good practitioner will explain the agency relationship to you and describe the rights of each party. It’s also possible to insist that the practitioner represent you exclusively.

What type of support does your real estate agency offer?

Having resources, such as in-house support staff, access to a real estate attorney, or assistance with technology, can help a real estate professional sell your home. Get a feel for how an agent will go about aligning your home needs with what’s available on the market to ensure any goals you might set are actually attainable.

Can you recommend service providers for obtaining a mortgage, making repairs on my home, staging, etc.?

Keep in mind here that real estate professionals should generally recommend more than one provider and should tell you if they receive any compensation from any provider. If they’ve been in the business for a while, this will most certainly be the case and be reflective of their ability to network within their community.

How will you keep me informed throughout the home purchasing process?

Again, this is not a question with one correct answer, but one that reflects your desires. Do you want updates twice a week or don’t want to be bothered unless there’s a hot opportunity? Do you prefer phone, e-mail, or a personal visit?


Looking to start your home search off on the right foot? ContactJanet McAfee Real Estate—if you’ve got questions, we’ve got the answers.

Consider These 8 Things Before You Start Your Home Search

Categories: Tips for Buying a Home

 

Whether you’re recently married and looking to settle down in your first home, or are an established family looking for a community for your children to grow up in, buying a home is one of the most important decisions you'll ever make. But what if you’re not sure where it should be? From low crime rates and a great education system to local nightlife and culture, there are many variables to consider when choosing the perfect home. We’ve taken the stress out of making this decision by compiling a list of the eight most important factors to consider when you are ready to buy a new home.

1. Affordability

No matter your pay grade, living comfortably within your means should be your first priority. Consider not only housing expenses, such as your mortgage rate, but also the prices for consumer goods, such as groceries, gas, and utilities for your area. This will give you a better sense of just how much money it costs to live in a specific location on a monthly basis.

2. Real Estate Value

It’s no secret that the real estate market is in constant flux, which means it’s vital that you do your research before buying a home. For example, our website, JanetMcAfee.com, can help you get a grasp of the real estate market for a specific area. Consider current home prices and pay attention to the length of time houses are on the market, as well as the resale value of homes and long-term value estimates as well. Researching the market beforehand allows you to determine if you are making a wise, long-term investment, and may ultimately shape where you decide to live.


3. Employment Opportunities

Following your career is another important factor to consider when choosing a place to live. Employment opportunities vary widely from state to state and city to city, so be sure to research the job markets in different areas of the country, scoping out opportunities in your industry. Depending on your profession, you may find that certain cities have a higher concentration of viable options, which may help steer your decision.

Income levels for jobs in your industry are likely to vary as well. Websites like Salary.com allow you to compare pay rates across the country. For example, a marketing manager position may have a large salary attached to it in San Francisco, but the cost of living is also very high for that area. Aim to find a location with a comfortable salary and moderate cost of living and, if possible, secure a position before moving.

4. Crime Rates and Statistics

If you plan to move with children, ensuring you’re relocating to a safe community is of the utmost importance. Research crime rates and statistics for the locales you are considering to learn about the safety of a specific town or neighborhood. If you‘ve already decided on a place to live, stop by your local police station to discuss neighborhood safety. And remember, just because a neighborhood is safe today, doesn’t mean that it won’t change in the future, so long-term neighborhood stability should be a consideration factor as well.


5. Education System

Another important factor when moving with children is the quality of the education system in the area, as a good education is essential to helping children lead healthy and productive lives. Websites like GreatSchools are an excellent resource for parents looking for the ideal schools for their children. Remember, the quality of schools for a specific area can factor into your finances, too, since private institutions are considerably more expensive.  


6. Healthcare Facilities

No matter who you are or where you live, accidents happen and ensuring the presence of quality clinics and hospitals is of the utmost importance when choosing a place to live, especially if you have kids or are nearing retirement. Easy access to quality health care can increase your quality of life, so do your research beforehand on the healthcare system in your area before choosing to live there.

7. Commute Time and Public Transportation Options

Nobody likes sitting in traffic, which means commute times can be a determining factor when choosing a place to live. Moving somewhere with a public transportation system can cut the cost and time it takes to commute to work. Plus, if you’re moving with your family, the presence of quality public transport can help your kids get around when you’re not there to drive them.


8. Culture

If you’re someone who loves to go out on the weekends to concerts, restaurants, or sporting events, then you will want to choose to live in a city or town with a lot of cultural offerings. Many people feel the need to be close to their favorite team or local music scene, so be sure you can continue to pursue your hobbies and interests in your new location. If you’re someone looking to escape the hustle bustle of city life, be sure that your new location reflects that, with an abundance of scenic beauty, hiking or boating options, and plenty of room to spread out and relax.

 

Choosing a new place to live can be overwhelming, and In order to find success in your search, determine what factors from the above list are most important to you and your family. Remember to do your homework and be vigilant in your search until you find the perfect place to live. Although it may be frustrating, your efforts are sure to pay off once you are settled and happy in your new location.

Are you considering buying a home? Still on the fence? Our experienced agents are happy to help answer any questions or concerns you have and will help you along the way to finding your dream home. Contact us to get started!

Six Extra Steps You Can Take to Win the Bid on a House

Categories: Tips for Buying a Home

Spring is the hottest time to buy a new home, and while that means a higher chance of finding your dream house, it also means there’s a good chance you’ll face competition on your bid. Tight supply markets across the U.S. lead to what is commonly referred to as a “bidding war” that results in properties selling at or above their asking price. In order to emerge the winner in a bidding battle, you can turn a critical eye toward important factors that affect closing a deal. Below are 6 extra steps you can take to win the bid on the house of your dreams.

1. Select the Right Agent

First things first, make sure your working with the right real estate agent as they will be your guide during the stressful bidding process. Aim to work with someone with experience in multiple-offer situations, whose advice and knowledge you trust, and who is willing to explain things every step of the way. Having the right agent on your side can make or break the deal during a tense bidding war.


2. Get Pre-Approved

Getting pre-approved for a loan significantly increases your chances of winning the bid on your dream home because it indicates to sellers that you're serious. Being that today’s mortgage market is still relatively tight, sellers worry about appraisals coming in low and loans not closing, making them weary of buyers whose loans aren’t set in stone. Getting pre-approved requires you to provide a verified credit score and income, which will ease seller’s worries as they’ll know you won’t have trouble financing the house.

3. Start with your Best Offer

The term “bidding war” may suggest you start low and counter often, however, the opposite is true. Be the first to make an offer and don’t lowball. Your best bet is to bid at or just below asking price to indicate that you’re serious. Making a generous offer right off the bat will benefit you by knocking low bidders out of the running. Remember, if you choose to bid over the appraisal value, you’ll have to come up with the extra cash yourself, as lenders and banks won’t help, if the seller does not accept an appraisal contingency.


4. Consider an Escalation Clause

An escalation clause indicates the amount of money you’re willing to add to your offer if other bids are present. For example, if the purchase price of a home is listed at $500,000, but you suspect it will increase to $550,000,you may include an escalation clause in your bid proposal that you’re willing to pay as high as $560,000, if you have the necessary funds. Your agent should have language approved by an attorney structuring a price escalation to include in your offer.

5. Consider Cutting Back on Contingencies

A contingency clause is used to make your offer dependent on certain circumstances, such as your ability to secure financing.  If you are confident in eliminating some protections the contract provides a buyer, you may waive them.  A better approach may be shortening contingency timelines where possible. Be sure to discuss all contingency protections with your agent before waving any contingencies or shortening the contingency periods in your contract offer.

6. Connect with Sellers

Connecting with sellers is a great way to make your proposal stand out above the rest. Sometimes, all a seller wants to know is that their home will be properly cared for. If you haven’t had a chance to do so, write a personalized note on why you’re bidding and include it as a cover letter to your proposal. This helps sellers see you as more than just an offer, which can make or break the deal, especially if there are multiple offers.  

The reality is that you may not win your first, second, or third bid on a home, and although it can be easy to get discouraged, keep trying, learn from your mistakes, and follow the above tips. If you’re ready to start your home search or put your house on the market, contact Janet McAfee Real Estate.



Multiple Contracts - 5 Tips for a Successful Outcome

Categories: Tips for Buying a Home

This has been a year of multiple contracts on well-priced homes in desirable areas.  The buyers who lose out don’t understand why their near full price offer wasn’t accepted.  They wonder why the seller didn’t give them a second chance to improve their offer.   I hear “I would have paid more.”  In order to coach buyer’s agents on multiple offer situations, I encourage them to look at it from the seller’s perspective and consider the following:

  1. Use terms consistent with the Seller’s needs.  Does the seller have a desired closing date?  Are there fixtures, draperies or other attachments which the seller wants to exclude?   Provide significant earnest money to show the buyer’s commitment.  These are ‘win-win’ considerations which can make your offer appealing to the seller without compromising the buyer’s rights.
  2. Fewer Contingencies make your offer more desirable for the Seller.  Today’s standard Residential Sale Contract is written with terms favorable to the buyer, with rights to terminate or renegotiate the offer.   I often hear that a buyer missed out not because of the price, but because “the other offer had better terms.”  Consider removing the “walk away,” which is the buyer’s right to terminate the contract after the building inspection.  If the buyer is fully vetted and approved upfront, can you submit the offer without a finance contingency or appraisal contingency?  Can you limit the building inspection to only structural or environmental issues?  The last thing a seller wants is to accept an offer, take the home off the market and have the contract terminated weeks later. 
  3. Consider an Escalation Clause.   In highly competitive situations, buyers may offer to pay a certain dollar figure over any competing bid up to a maximum amount. 
  4. Timing is Important.  It’s important to find out from the listing agent when the seller is going to review the offers.  In our age of technology, being ‘too late’ is simply inexcusable.  Conversely, if you submit an offer days in advance of the seller’s response time, you risk having your contract used as leverage to recruit higher offers. 
  5. Follow the “First and Best” Principle - Put Your Best Foot Forward.  You can’t expect a Seller to revisit lesser offers if they have a wonderful contract in hand from someone else.  Buyers may not get a second chance, so submit your strongest offer without any remorse if someone else submits a higher and cleaner one.  

Janet Horlacher, Principal

Janet McAfee Inc.

 

Top St. Louis Communities to Live In

Categories: General Real Estate Market St. Louis Luxury Homes Tips for Buying a Home

 

 

People move to different areas for a variety of reasons. St. Louis is unique in the fact it is home to many communities that appeal to different interests and walks of life. Each suburb and community has distinctive features that appeal to foodies, artists, outdoorsmen and women, and sports enthusiasts. Join us as we take a tour of the Top Communities in St. Louis!

 

 

 

CHESTERFIELD - If shopping is your bag, Chesterfield is the place for you. With new construction going up all the time and businesses moving in at a rapid pace, Chesterfield shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, there are over 4,000 total services with a number of shopping malls and outlets, including Taubman Prestige Outlets. You would think that they are all play and no work because of this… but you’d be wrong! The community has a 96% high school graduation rate! The houses range in price and style from colonial to craftsman to farmhouse. All of these features combined make this a big draw for growing families. Click to learn more and see houses in this area!

Link: http://www.janetmcafee.com/chesterfield-real-estate

 

 

 

CLAYTON - Everyone in St. Louis knows about Clayton, and for good reason. This historic community is known as being in the center of it all.  It’s less than 10 miles from downtown St. Louis, two miles from the St. Louis Art Museum and St. Louis Zoo, and sports easy access to many highways as well as the Metrolink. Not to mention, Clayton has so much to offer right within the community. You can sample more than 80 restaurants (Foodies, take note!) and walk to high-end boutiques and art galleries easily. If you like to live the luxurious life, this is the place for you. Click to learn more and see houses in this area!

Link: http://www.janetmcafee.com/clayton-real-estate

 

 

BALLWIN - Family fun is right outside your door in Ballwin. Many young families have been getting their start in Ballwin. They sport the massive North Pointe Family Aquatic Center, a number of parks for hiking and outdoor fun (Queeny Park, Lone Elk Park, and Castlewood State Park), and multiple golf clubs (Ballwin Golf Course and the Meadowbrook Country Club). To match the large number of recreational activities, the neighborhoods sport a variety of housing styles including craftsman, colonial, and ranch. Not to mention, you can typically get a lot of house for a good price. Click to learn more and see houses in this area!

Link: http://www.janetmcafee.com/ballwin-real-estate

 

 

WEBSTER GROVES - Historical architecture and rows upon rows of trees welcome you when you enter Webster Groves. Cottage, colonial, craftsman, and bungalow style homes are the most common in these quiet neighborhoods that surround Webster University. Webster Groves also boasts one of the best school districts in St. Louis and the 38-acre Blackburn Park (featuring a bird sanctuary, tennis courts, trails, and picnic areas), though you pay a little more for these amenities in taxes. In addition, various community events are held throughout the year such as the weekly Farmer’s Market and a Fourth of July firework display that may very be the second best next to the famous downtown firework show. Click to learn more and see houses in this area!

Link: http://www.janetmcafee.com/webster-groves-real-estate

 

 

KIRKWOOD - The high school rivalry between Webster Groves and Kirkwood is legendary, but it might be because these neighboring communities share many similarities. Kirkwood also sports a college (St. Louis Community College Meramec), lovely yards and trees, a Farmer’s Market, and a quiet neighborhood feel consisting of ranch, Victorian, and charming craftsman houses. What is unique is the still functional historic train station, and the famous Frank Lloyd Wright House in Ebsworth Park! Quiet, quaint, and classic. Click to learn more and see houses in this area!

Link: http://www.janetmcafee.com/kirkwood-real-estate

 

 

 

BRENTWOOD - Experience the feel of a small town, while still having Downtown St. Louis just 9 miles away. Brentwood and the neighboring Maplewood community make for a double dose of fun that appeals to families and young couples who enjoy shopping and nearby restaurants and breweries. Historic farmhouse, colonial, and craftsman style homes surround Memorial and Brentwood Park (which is home to a fabulous Summer Concert Series). Brentwood High School also has an astounding 96% high school graduation rate. Although it might not be the first community that comes to mind when you think of St. Louis, Brentwood acts as a little known secret that’s central to many parts of the city and county. Click to learn more and see houses in this area!

 

Link: http://www.janetmcafee.com/brentwood-real-estate

Tips on Buying in a Tight Market

Categories: Tips for Buying a Home

Buyers, be ready!  The St. Louis real estate market is heating up.  In many price ranges, inventory is low and buyers are competing for homes.  The National Association of Realtors suggests 6 ways to improve your chances of getting your dream house.  

1.        Get prequalified for a mortgage - you’ll be able to make a firm commitment to buy and your offer will be more desirable to the seller.

2.       Stay in close contact with your real estate agent - Your agent is on the lookout for the newest listings that meet your criteria. Be ready to see a house as soon as it goes on the market.

3.        Be ready to make a decision – Decide in advance what you can afford and must have in a home so you won’t hesitate when you have the chance to make an offer.

4.       Bid competitively - Your first inclination may be to start out offering something less than the absolute highest price you can afford, but if you go too low in a tight market, you will likely lose out.

5.        Keep contingencies to a minimum - Restrictions such as needing to sell your home before you move can make your offer unappealing.  Talk to your lender about getting a bridge loan to cover both mortgages for a short period.

6.       But don’t get caught in a buying frenzy - Just because there’s competition for a home doesn’t mean you should buy it.  Don’t neglect your agent’s price recommendations or inspections that help ensure the house is a sound investment.

 

Janet Horlacher

Principal, Janet McAfee Real Estate