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11 reasons why you shouldn’t sleep on Columbus housing market this winter

Jenn Kessel-White and Lauren Lucas, LKW Home Team

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As real estate agents, we hear it all the time: ”I am going to wait until spring to buy/sell!” 

Many consumers, buyers, and sellers believe this to be true for many reasons. More buyers will be looking, more homes will be listed, schools years are ending, the weather is breaking, etc. Sure, those are all true, but here are some other things to consider that may actually have you calling us sooner than this spring!

Buyers:

1. Sellers are more motivated to sell

In winter months, there are fewer buyers looking to purchase. Therefore, homes are sitting on the market longer, and there is more room for negotiations when a seller does not have multiple offers to consider. This can save you the heartache of losing your dream home in a multiple offer situation, the stress of having to make a decision in less than a day, and money by not going over budget in a bidding war. Win, win, win!

2. Less competition

Let’s be real, do any of us like Ohio winters? No. So, who really wants to trek across town battling the snow and rush hour traffic after a long day? Answer: Only people who really have to! The buyers who are taking on the brisk temperatures and inches of snow are there for a reason: they need a new home, and they need it ASAP. 

During the winter months and holidays, pressure to see properties as soon as they are listed is usually removed. Less competition means you don’t feel so rushed in making the decision on one of the biggest purchases of your life.

3. Median sales price is lower

Homes are traditionally priced based on the surrounding homes that have sold within a certain timeframe. In winter, you are seeing fairly-priced homes due to the sold prices in the neighborhood being sold closer to list price or under. Winter is like the President’s Day sales of furniture because everyone gets something they wanted for a fair price.

4. Easier to find contractors

If your new home needs a facelift, there is a better chance of finding a contractor who is available to do the work before their schedule gets crazy in the spring and summer. Because there is not as much demand for work, you may even save some coin on the job.

Sellers:

1. Low inventory makes your home more desirable

Low inventory = less competition. Not every Tom, Dick, and Harry on your street are throwing LKW Home Team signs in their lawn, meaning more buyers putting the carpet protecting booties on at your front door.

2. Save time and money on curb appeal

No need to go all out with expensive plants, mulching, and gardening for photos. We all understand the Ohio grayscale in winter. Just shovel, spread some salt out, and we’re on our way.

3. Buyers are more committed in the winter months

Who goes home shopping in the winter? Only the people who have to move, that’s who. You won’t get a lot of nosy neighbors, or random open house buyers. You will get the parka-wearing, house-hunting warriors that are ready to present an offer.

4. Year-end bonuses and pay-outs 

The New Year means excitement and planning for the year ahead. Many people set goals to buy a home, or utilize their taxes and bonuses towards a new home down payment plan.

5. Corporate relocation

Often the end of the year closes out a career/position for some and starts another one. Columbus is chock full of transplants and the buyer markets tends to see a little boost in January, we are betting it’s for that reason.

6. The internet has no seasons

Google does not care what time of year it is, so home searchers are hitting the internet daily to find available homes. Seasons schmeasons, they’re still looking, so you should be selling.

7. Buyers have time off of work

The New year means vacation days reset right? Well, that also means that serious buyers are out and ready to dedicate time to the search for and move into a new home.

Written by Jenn Kessel-White & Lauren Lucas of the LKW Home Team. We are ready to get the drill out and post the Open House signs in your yard, or face the brisk winds at your new home inspection right along with you. Give us a call at (614) 321-9262 or email [email protected]

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12 New Year’s Resolutions: Home Buyer Edition (Sponsored)

Jenn Kessel-White and Lauren Lucas, LKW Home Team

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New Year’s resolutions. Most of us make them, few of us stick to them. But if buying a home is on your 2020 New Year’s resolution list, here is your new set of resolutions!

1. Credit is everything! Get your score as high as possible

Your credit score can make a significant impact on your ability to secure a mortgage for your new home. Your credit score will also determine your interest rate, so we recommend you check your credit report to make sure there are no errors, and that all accounts have been reported accurately and are up to date. Work on paying down your debts and credit card balances, and set up auto payments so that nothing falls through the cracks.

Increasing your credit score just a few points may not seem like a lot to you, but it could make a world of difference in your interest rate, and just a few percentage point differences in an interest rate can cost you thousands over the life of a loan. Check out the chart below, especially if you’re close to the next tier of credit score:

If you’re not sure where to start, ask us about our DIY Credit Repair Guide

2. Don’t quit your day job

When it comes to mortgage applications, employment history and income are two of the biggest factors in getting approved. A steady employment history with few or no gaps for the past two years is ideal, and allows lenders to easily forecast your future income.

Jumping from hourly to salary, or moving to a position in the same field that would increase your salary could help your application. However, know that job hopping can be a cause for a red flag to some underwriters–especially if you are switching industries.

If you do change jobs, let your lender know ASAP–it doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t qualify, just be prepared to show more documentation! Lenders often prefer borrowers to have steady, predictable paychecks.

3. Slow your roll on the monthly subscriptions

If you’re anything like us, you get a bill from Apple each month for all of the monthly subscriptions you have; Hulu, Netflix, Spotify, Apple Music…the list goes on and on. We get it–it’s cheaper than cable, and it’s super-easy to automate the payments so they are out of sight out of mind. But these can add up!

Even if you pay off your credit card every month, your credit could get dinged if your credit report is pulled in the mid-cycle. If buying a home is in your 2020 plans, check with cousin Steve to see if you can use his login for the next few months, and freeze your accounts.

4. Do not open or close any new accounts

Paying off credit cards is great to keep your debt-to-income ratio (DTI) low, but closing the accounts you have paid off can have a negative effect on both your credit history, and your available credit–which would negatively affect your DTI and credit score. Once you pay those cards off, just cut them up, and toss them out!

On the flip side, avoid opening any new lines of credit. While it is not the most heavily weighted factor in your credit score, having new card inquiries, or too many inquiries, could be a red flag in the mortgage process.

5. Steer clear of large purchases

Avoid taking on large amounts of debt. Your DTI, or how much money you make compared to how much debt you have, can significantly affect how much money a lender is willing to give you. Keeping debts to a minimum can help make obtaining a mortgage much easier.

If you’re thinking of buying a new car, planning a big vacation, or even furnishing your home–don’t do it. If you need a new couch, or another bed to fill your spare room, wait until ​after​ you have closed on your new home.

Do not spend your reserves, rack up a current card, or open any new accounts. Trust us, that nice new couch won’t look so good if you don’t have a new living room to put it in!

6. Start stashing cash

Not like, in your walls, or under your mattress, though. Your lender is going to want to see your last few months of bank statements, and a paper trail for any large deposits. So if you really do have a stash of cash under your mattress, get it in your savings account ASAP!

Don’t stress, the days of needing 20% downpayment for a home are long-gone. However, in most cases you will still need 3-5% down payment. In addition to down payment , you will have closing costs of roughly 2-3%.

Start stashing your spare change and extra cash into a savings account until you’re ready to buy. Every little bit counts!

7. Expecting a refund? Get your taxes done STAT!

If you’re expecting a tax return, and want to buy a home in 2020, then
this is not the year to procrastinate!

The sooner you get your taxes filed, the sooner you get your return. And your return can help speed your home buying process along. Whether it is paying down debts to help your DTI, helping with downpayment and closing costs, or making upgrades to your new home, the sooner you have the money back from the IRS, the better!

#putyourmoneywhereyourhomeis

8. Research loan and grant programs

It is likely that when your parents bought their first home, they walked down to the bank and told the banker they wanted a 30-year fixed mortgage. Nowadays, there’s a surprising amount of innovation happening in mortgage loans. From the VA’s zero-down program to jumbo loans, as well as grant programs based on the borrowers income or job and grant programs based on the location of the home they are purchasing, there are a lot of factors to consider.

Each person will be different in what they can qualify for based off of these factors. The LKW Home Team has a list of preferred lenders available to our clients, who we work with everyday to get the absolute best terms for our clients.

9. Get documentation ready

Your lender is going to ask you for what seems like everything but your first born child. You will need to prove your income, all assets, and all debts. There will be a slew of documents your lender will need which include two years of tax returns and W-2 income statements, recent pay stubs, credit card statements, student loan statements, and bank and investment statements.

If you’re planning to buy this year, minimize your stress later by starting to gather this documentation together in one place now.

10. Get pre-approved

Once you check your credit, get your funds prepared, and your
documents around, it is time to get pre-approved!

Sure, jumping on Google and filling out a mortgage application seems quick and painless, but we recommend using a trusted, local lender, who will be available to you throughout your entire home buying process.

Once you start looking at homes, you may find that sellers and sellers’ agents will ask if the buyer is pre-approved. Having a pre-approval lets the seller and sellers agent know that you have already spoken with a lender, and that lender has verified that you can afford to purchase a home at a certain value. This not only shows that you have been proactive, and can afford the home, but shows the seller that you are serious about purchasing their home.

If you don’t know any lenders, just ask us! The LKW Home Team preferred lenders have access to many different programs, who are ready to help our clients get the best terms for them, while still staying in budget!

11. Schedule a free consultation with LKW Home Team

Hi, that’s us!

Our free buyer’s consultation looks like this: you (and yours if you want!), one or both of us, and a breakdown of the entire home-buying process. This is a one-hour consultation where we walk you through the home-buying process from start to finish, answer any questions you have, and take the next steps to get you set-up on a home search through our “in real time” apps, and the MLS.

We can meet you on your turf, or ours. Either way, you will leave with loads of information, and the confidence to start house hunting.

We are full-time agents who only sell real estate, and we are in your corner 100%. We will educate you on the basics, and leave the sticky stuff up to us. We got you!

12. House hunting

Insert, the fun part!!

We know the second you decided to buy a home, you’ve been glued to HGTV. Don’t watch ​House Hunters​. We still can’t figure out how a butterfly breeder and a professional Monopoly player can afford $950K, but hey, maybe the Columbus market is just more affordable?

It’s as easy as this–when you see a home you like and want to see, you let us know and we will take you through. Cool? Cool.

Thinking of Real Estate Investing or even becoming a Real Estate Agent? The LKW Home Team would be ecstatic to get your real estate profile started or expanded, and help you get your real estate career into gear, so reach out to Jenn Kessel-White and Lauren Lucas at [email protected] or text /call (614) 321-9262

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Millennial Home Buying Trends: Killing it in the real estate game

Jenn Kessel-White and Lauren Lucas, LKW Home Team

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Tired of the Millennial stereotypes? Us too! In the real estate game, Millennials are not only winning, they are way ahead of the pack! Here are the latest trends in Millennial home buying, but feel free to start your own—think outside of the house!

Are you a first-time home buyer?
Approximately 52% of Millennials who are buying homes are first-time home buyers, and damn proud of it. 

A large majority of millennials were renting until they whipped out their Texas Instruments and realized the massive loss they are experiencing through equity. What even is equity anyway? It’s the value of your home minus what you owe on it. For example, after just two years of owning a home, we have had multiple clients who have sold their home for reasons of either upgrading or relocating, and have made over $30,000. 

By buying your first home, you can enjoy the benefits of ownership and tax incentives while also building equity for similar amounts (or less in some cases) than you were paying each month in rent previously. 

P.S. worried about a down payment? Never fear! There are multiple programs—The American Dream Program, Grants for Teachers, Service Employees, etc.—that can have you at the closing table with $0 DOWN. Legit, no lie!

Check out the graph below to see just how much money you’re forking over to your landlord by choosing not to buy:

Say “I do” and grab yourself a home
The majority of home-buying Millennials are buying single-family homes versus condos. 

Most Millennials are buying single-family homes versus condos partially because over 50% of the people in that demographic are either married or in long-term relationships. We work with many first-time home buyers and are not surprised that these smarties want to cash in on those tax benefits and double income. But hey, no one here is hating on a condo—we all know it’s a great way to have all the perks of home ownership sans the exterior maintenance. 

Because I said so.. That’s why!
The majority of millennials are buying homes simply because they want to.

While some people made the decision to buy because they wanted to own a larger home, be closer to friends and family, or were moving due to job relocation, more and more Millennials are purchasing simply because they wanted a home of their own. In fact, the general desire to own a home was listed as the reason for buying a home by as many Millennials as all the aforementioned reasons combined! So, live your best life, get yourself into a home, and feel proud! 

Beyond the Outerbelt
Millennials are livin’ in the ‘burbs and lovin’ it.

One big trend among Millennial home buyers is that they were buying homes in the suburbs. It could be the need to have easy access to the local Target, but even more so, it’s the resale value. Buying a home in the ‘burbs means you eventually get to sell one there, and suburban resale value is looking significantly hot these days. This wasn’t restricted only to Millennials, either; 51% of all homes purchased in 2018 were located in suburban areas or subdivisions. 

Not digging the new builds
A vast majority of the homes Millennials purchased have been previously owned.

Though there have been a number of new subdivisions built around the country in recent years, only a small percentage of Millennials are buying into them. Is it the mature trees, the character, the lack of construction? We’re not sure. But regardless, the buying preference is geared towards wisdom over a youth trend in the housing market. 

Just a short Uber drive away
Millennials prioritize location over cost when it comes to home buying. 

There are a number of factors that affected the purchasing decisions of Millennials. The presence of public transit or proximity to work was one major factor, with many Millennials trying to minimize fuel costs. Heating and cooling efficiency also played an important role. In general, Millennials were more willing to compromise on price than on a home’s condition, but only around 20 percent were willing to compromise on the distance of their new home from work.

After Googling, what’s your next step?
Millennials lean on real estate agents for home buying information. 

By far, the majority of Millennials started their home search by looking online to try and find properties for sale and discover their vibe. Around 15% spent even more time online than that, learning the ins and outs of the home buying process before even starting to look at properties. Beyond online sources, Millennials trusted real estate agents the most for information about homes for sale. The entire process took about 10 weeks on average before finding the home they wanted to buy, though a real estate agent was involved for the last seven or so weeks of the search. 

Jenn and Lauren of the LKW Home Team are here to walk you through the home buying process. We handle the hard questions, negotiate on your behalf, advise you on your purchase, offer complimentary home buyers consultations, and aim to ensure a safe and successful transaction. Did you know as a purchaser, real estate agents are completely FREE to you? That’s right! So, the moment you are thinking of starting that Google search, reach out to us instead. In the extremely competitive Columbus market, we will get you home results the second they hit the market, and meet you there asap! 

Thinking of Real Estate Investing or even becoming a Real Estate Agent?The LKW Home Team would be ecstatic to get your Real Estate profile started or expanded, and help you get your Real Estate Career into gear, so reach out to Jenn Kessel-White and Lauren Lucas at [email protected] or text /call (614) 321-9262

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