9 Ways to Share–and Extend–the Season

December 2018 - MVP - Social Media Image

As the 2019 Holiday season begins to wind down, some of us are still looking for fun and creative ways to share the joy!

But there’s no need to stop at your front door or when the all the Holiday decorations are finally put away.  Let the spirit of the season radiate outward from your house into your community. 

Not sure where to start? Check out these 9 inspirational ideas for spreading cheer far and near this season and into 2019!

Host a Neighborhood Party

Hosting a neighborhood party is a great way to reconnect with old friends and welcome new families to the community. And it doesn’t necessarily require a huge investment of time or money. Plan a potluck dinner and ask your guests to bring a dish or drink to share. Or host a holiday cookie exchange and ask everyone to bring a couple dozen of their favorite cookie to swap with other guests. Hot cocoa and caroling is another great way to bring neighbors together to celebrate the season.

If you have a neighbor who you’ve been at odds with in the past, consider extending them an invitation, as well. It could be the perfect opportunity to make peace in the new year.

Help a Neighbor in Need

The holiday season is the perfect time to offer help to a neighbor in need. Next time you head out to rake your leaves, take care of an elderly neighbor’s, as well. Or drop off dinner for a friend who is recovering from surgery.

If you know of someone in your community with a larger need, consider setting up a Care Calendar through a site like CareCalendar.org. Then share the link with other neighbors who may be interested in helping, too. Users can sign up to run errands, cook a meal, babysit, wash laundry, clean the house, mow the lawn, or complete other household tasks depending on the individual’s needs. Even a small gesture of kindness can make someone’s holiday extra jolly.

Treat Your Mail and Package Carriers

Extend comfort and joy from your own front porch during your postal and package carriers’ busiest time of year.1 While many of us love the convenience of shopping online for holiday gifts, the boom in e-commerce has exponentially increased the workload for our postal and package carriers, some of whom work up to 70 hours a week during the holiday season.2

You can help brighten their day by leaving a goody and note of gratitude in your mailbox or a basket of water and snacks by your front door. Attach a sign that says: “Thank you for working hard to deliver our holiday packages. Please take a treat to enjoy on your route!”

Overtip

Don’t be a Grinch when it comes to tipping at the holidays or anytime.  Your waiter, your Uber driver, and your hairdresser will all appreciate an extra-generous tip this time of year.

International etiquette expert Sharon Schweitzer recommends that you start by setting a budget for holiday tips and prioritizing those you most want to thank.3 Place those who help you most frequently at the top of your list—such as your trusted housekeeper, nanny, or daycare provider. For those you regularly tip at the time service, consider frequency and length of the relationship to determine an appropriate amount.

Everyone could use a little extra cash around the holidays. If you can afford it, share a bit of your abundance with others.

Thank Those Who Don’t Get a Holiday

Santa isn’t the only one working on Christmas. Emergency workers, hospital staff, airline employees, toll booth attendants, movie theater staff, and many others will be working to make your holiday safe and bright.

Say “thank you” by bringing breakfast to the firehouse or police station on Christmas morning or by dropping off a tray of goodies for the hard-working hospital staff on New Year’s Eve. Keep a stash of treats or coffee-shop gift cards on hand to pass out to those you encounter working over the holidays. And, if appropriate, a generous tip is always appreciated!

Fill Stockings for the Homeless

Not everyone gets to go “home for the holidays.” You can bring a little cheer and comfort to a homeless person this year with a care kit.

Pick up some inexpensive Christmas stockings from a craft store–or after the Holidays just use a Ziplock bag–and fill them with a variety of useful items, such as:

  • Applesauce cup (and plastic spoon)
  • Baby wipes
  • Bandages
  • Bottled water
  • Beef jerky
  • Cereal or granola bar
  • Cheese or peanut butter crackers
  • Deodorant
  • Gloves
  • Lip balm
  • Lotion
  • Nail clippers
  • Socks
  • Tissues
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Tuna and crackers
  • Trail mix

As an added touch, include a sweet treat and a handwritten note. Hand them out at a shelter or keep a stash in your car so you can offer one when you encounter someone in need.

Offer Warmth on a Cold Day

As temperatures drop, some members of our community will be left out in the cold. Our local homeless population is especially vulnerable this time of year, but so are many families living in poverty. Health experts warn that a two-degree drop in body temperature can result in reduced heart rate, lack of coordination, and confusion, making it difficult for adults to work and children to learn.4

You can help by bringing your old but gently-used coats to a collection site. Leave a note in the pocket wishing the recipient a warm and happy holiday. Or tie a scarf around a tree and attach a sign that says: “I am not lost. If you need this to stay warm, please take it!”

Check with local homeless shelters to find out if they accept donations of old blankets. Well-worn blankets and towels can often be donated to an animal shelter to help keep four-legged friends warm this winter, as well.

Pay Off a Stranger’s Layaway

Some large retailers offer layaway options during the holidays so that shoppers can pay for their purchases a little at a time. Media stories often surface this time of year about anonymous donors who pay off a stranger’s layaway account to the surprise and delight of the recipient.

This is a great way to help a family that may not qualify for charitable assistance but is on a limited budget for holiday gifts. If you have a particular interest in helping kids, you can ask to pay off an account that consists primarily of children’s items.

You don’t have to drop a bundle to become a family’s “Secret Santa.” Ask the layaway attendant to search for accounts with balances that fit within your budget. To make a bigger impact, ask friends and family members if they want to pitch in to help, too! 

Donate Toys to a Tot

One of the most popular ways to give back during the holidays is to participate in a toy drive. There are a number of great charities that collect toys for children of low-income families.

Before you shop, find out if the organization has a wish list of preferred items or guidelines for wrapping and labeling the gift. And check the drop-off deadline to ensure your gift will reach its intended recipient in time.

If you have children, involve them in the process of selecting and purchasing the gift so they can experience the joy of giving to those less fortunate, too.

One more easy way to support the community this year? Shop local! From locally-owned stores to service providers, please consider spending your holiday dollars here at home. We have an extensive network of local businesses and would love to recommend some of our favorites. Give us a call, and let us know how we can help!

With these inspirational ideas we can end the Holiday season strong and continue to spread the joy into 2019!

Sources:

  1. NASDAQ –
    https://www.nasdaq.com/article/fedex-and-ups-deliver-another-record-holiday-season-cm898487
  2. The Kansas City Star –
    https://www.kansascity.com/news/business/workplace/article189245104.html
  3. Huffington Post –
    https://www.huffpost.com/entry/sharon-schweitzers-2017-holiday-tipping-guide-checklist_b_5a037fc3e4b0c7511e1b398c
  4. One Warm Coat –
    https://www.onewarmcoat.org/theneed/

December 2018 Market Update

Greater Phoenix Demand Down 16% in Q4
Seasonal Calm Before the Storm for Buyer Activity

December 2018 Market Update

For Buyers:

Remember when you wouldn’t eat your dinner as a kid and your parents would serve it to you for breakfast or lunch until it was gone? Okay even if you can’t relate, you can imagine a kid’s disappointment in having to see the same thing day after day until they reluctantly eat it. Buyers may be feeling the same way this month as existing inventory has gotten stale and very little new inventory has been added in the first weeks of December. It’s down a whopping 26% from last December with nearly every price range under $1.5M participating in the decline. This reluctance to list in December has offset the 16% decline in listings under contract and the market has managed to maintain a seller market, albeit a weaker one. In the mean-time, existing sellers are dressing up their leftovers with incentives. Seller assisted closing costs have risen on sales between $175K-$300K and price reductions were up 25% in the first week of December compared to last year.

For Sellers:

Seasonally, this is the calm before the storm in terms of buyer activity. Every year, listings under contract drop sharply in the latter half of December before reaching their lowest point on January 1st. Conversely, between January and April buyer contract activity will sharply accelerate. How much it will increase this year remains to be seen depending on interest rates and other lending factors. The past 3 years has seen contracts rise roughly between 70-90% in the first 4 months. Despite this expectation, sellers need to be prepared to compete more in 2019 than they had to this year. The first 4 months are also typically strong for new listings to enter the market. Even though 2019 looks like it will start off with a seller’s advantage, it will be much weaker than last year. The market appears to be resisting higher prices for homes that don’t live up to buyers’ expectation of value for their money.

Contact the real estate experts at NextHome Valleywide in Chandler, AZ at 480-621-6828 for more information.  If you are currently looking to Buy or Sell a home in the Phoenix metro , Scottsdale or East Valley area and are not sure where to turn we can help! Search for homes at ChandlerAreaHomeSearch.com where you can find single family homes, golf and lakefront properties, 55+ communities, townhomes and much more. Visit our blog at NextHome Valleywide for a monthly Phoenix Market Update.

‘Tis the Season For Real Estate?

Tis the Season for real estate

‘Tis the season for real estate?  It’s a common misconception that you shouldn’t try to buy or sell a home during the fall and winter months.

This is generally considered the “offseason” in real estate. Many sellers mistakenly believe that the cold weather will keep buyers away and that no one is looking over the holidays. Unfortunately, many real estate professionals perpetuate this myth by advising their clients to “wait until the spring” to list their home.

The truth is, homes are bought and sold year round. And while the market is typically quieter during the fall and winter, savvy buyers and sellers know how to use this slow down to their advantage. In fact, depending on your circumstances, now may be the ideal time for you to purchase or list a home.

If you’re in the market to buy or sell, there’s no need to wait for the spring. Read on to discover the top five reasons that it can pay to buy or sell a home during the offseason!

LESS COMPETITION

What’s the number one reason to buy or sell a home during the offseason? Less competition!

This can be particularly beneficial if you’re a seller. Come spring, a huge wave of new listings will hit the market. But if you list now, you will have fewer comparable homes with which to compete.

In the spring and summer months, it can be difficult for your property to stand out in a crowded market. You may end up with a surplus of homes for sale in your neighborhood. Indeed, it’s not uncommon to see multiple listings on a single street during the peak selling season.

Inventory in the fall and winter months, however, can be significantly lower. That means your home will not only receive more attention from buyers, but you may also gain the upper hand in your negotiations. In fact, research found that homes listed in the winter are nine percent more likely to sell, and sellers net more above asking price in the winter than any other time of year.1

Buyers also have a lot to love about the real estate offseason. While some buyers need to move during the winter, many bargain hunters search this time of year in hopes of scoring a great deal.

Smart buyers will continue to scan the market during the fall and winter for hidden gems that pop up during the offseason. There are always highly motivated sellers who need to sell quickly. And with less competition to bid against you, you’re in a better position to negotiate a great price. If you’ve been looking for a good deal on a home or investment property, now may be the best time to look!

So while a “slow market” may scare off some buyers and sellers, it can actually be the perfect time of year for you to list or purchase a home. While the rest of the market is hibernating until spring, take advantage of this opportunity to get a jump start on your competition!

EVERYONE’S MORE MOTIVATED

During the spring and summer, you’re likely to encounter “lookie-loo” buyers who are just testing the waters and unrealistic sellers who are holding out for a better offer. But the serious buyers and sellers stay active during the cold weather and holiday season, often because they need to move quickly. In fact, research shows that homes listed in the winter sell faster than any other time of year.1

January and February are peak job hiring months, which brings a surge of buyers who need to relocate quickly to start a new job.2 And of course life changes like retirement, marriage, divorce, and new babies come year round. While families often find it more convenient to move during the summer when school is out, the reality is that many don’t have the option to wait. According to the National Association of Realtors, 55 percent of all buyers purchased their home at the time they did because “it was just the right time,” not because of seasonal factors.3

If you prefer to deal with serious, highly-motivated buyers and sellers who want to act fast and don’t want to waste your time, then the offseason may be the perfect real estate season for you.

GREATER PERSONAL ATTENTION

Another key benefit to buying and selling in the offseason is the increased personal attention you’ll receive.

While we strive to provide unparalleled client service throughout the year, we simply have more time available for each individual client during slower periods. Similarly, we find the other real estate professionals in our network—including title agents, inspectors, appraisers, insurance agents, and loan officers—are able to respond faster and provide more time and attention during the offseason than they are during the busy spring and summer months. The result is a quicker and more streamlined closing process for all involved.

COST SAVINGS

Clients who move during the offseason often report significant cost savings. Moving costs may be discounted by 15 percent or more during the winter months, and moving companies can typically offer more flexibility in their scheduling.4

Home renovations and repairs can also be less expensive in the offseason.5 Whether you’re fixing up your property prior to listing it or remodeling your new home before moving in, contractors and service providers who are hungry for business are often willing to work for a discount this time of year. If you wait until the spring and summer, you may be forced to pay a premium.

Home stagers and decorators are also more likely to negotiate their fees during the winter. And you can often score great deals on new furniture and decor during the holiday sales.

Whether you’re buying or selling, count cost savings as another compelling reason to consider an offseason move.

EASIER TO MAINTAIN CURB APPEAL

Finally, listing your home during the fall and winter offers one key—but often overlooked—advantage: less lawn maintenance!

Good curb appeal is crucial when selling your home. According to a recent report by the National Association of Realtors, 44 percent of home buyers drove by a property after viewing it online but did NOT go inside for a walkthrough.6 That means if your curb appeal is lacking, buyers may never make it through the door.

If you list your home during the peak of the selling season, we will generally advise you to implement a frequent schedule of mowing, edging, watering, weeding, and trimming shrubs and hedges. You’ll probably want to plant flowers, as well, to brighten your exterior. After all, a lush landscape is a key element in attracting spring and summer buyers.

If you list in the offseason, however, your lawn maintenance list is significantly reduced. While we do recommend that our sellers keep their exterior clean, tidy, and free of leaves, snow, and ice, you will probably spend much less time on outdoor maintenance during the winter than you would if you listed your home in the summer.

ARE YOU READY TO MAKE YOUR MOVE?

Now that you know all the great reasons to buy or sell a home in the offseason, it’s time to decide whether you’re ready to make your move.

Every client’s circumstances are unique. Whether you need to move quickly or you simply want to take advantages of all benefits this season has to offer, it’s a great time to enter the market.

Give us a call today to schedule a FREE consultation … and you could be ringing in the New Year in your new home!

Sources:

  1. Redfin – https://www.redfin.com/blog/2013/12/why-winter-is-the-hottest-time-to-sell-your-home.html#.VjKYm2SrTKI
  2. Top Resume – https://www.topresume.com/career-advice/the-best-times-of-the-year-to-job-search
  3. National Association of Realtors – https://www.nar.realtor/research-and-statistics/research-reports/highlights-from-the-profile-of-home-buyers-and-sellers
  4. Angie’s List –https://www.angieslist.com/articles/why-winter-can-be-best-time-move.htm
  5. Build Direct –https://www.builddirect.com/blog/the-best-times-of-the-year-to-get-deals-on-home-remodels/
  6. National Association of Realtors –https://www.nar.realtor/sites/default/files/reports/2017/2017-home-buyer-and-seller-generational-trends-03-07-2017.pdf

November Market Update 2018

New Listings Up 18% between $250-400K
Q4 is Seasonally Best Time to Buy

November Market Update 2018

For Buyers:

Seasonally the 4th Quarter is the best time to be a buyer and this year is no exception. Typically buyer contract activity is at its strongest from March through May and weakest between November and January. Buyers who were out-bid by competing offers last Spring will have a different experience now. October saw 18% more new listings hit the market between $250K- $400K compared to last October while buyer contracts are about the same within the same price range. There was only a 1% increase in new listings in the lower price range between $200K-$250K but a 12% drop in buyer contracts which caused overall supply to rise another 11%. The market is still a seller’s market, but more seller competition for fewer buyers translates into more price reductions and seller concessions until the Spring “Buyer Season” is up- on us once again.

For Sellers:

The market may be softening between $200K-$400K (which accounts for over 56% of MLS sales), but that doesn’t mean sellers are getting a raw deal. Monthly average sale prices per square foot in this price range have appreciated 5% since October last year and nearly 19% in last 5 years. Under $200K, the appreciation rate is 9.5% in the past year and 44% in 5 years. $400K-$800K has appreciated 6% in the last year and 14% in 5 years and the annual average sale price per square foot* over $800K has appreciated 3% in the last year and 10.5% in 5 years. What’s happening underneath that contract price, however, is an increased cost to sell at “top dollar”. That cost can take the shape of longer days on market with multiple price reductions, repairs, needed upgrades to the home prior to list and closing cost assistance.

Contact the real estate experts at NextHome Valleywide in Chandler, AZ at 480-621-6828 for more information.  If you are currently looking at buying or selling a home in the Phoenix, Scottsdale or East Valley area and are not sure where to turn, search for homes at ChandlerAreaHomeSearch.comwhere you can find single family homes, golf and lakefront properties, 55+ communities, townhomes and much more. Visit our blog at NextHome Valleywide for a monthly Phoenix Market Update.

How’s the Market? What’s Ahead for Real Estate

How's the Market?

One of the most common questions we receive is, “How’s the Market?” And while no one can predict the future with certainty, most experts expect to see modest growth in the U.S. housing market for the remainder of this year and next. Inventory will remain tight, mortgage rates will continue to creep up, and affordability will remain a major issue in many parts of the country.

So what does that mean for home buyers and sellers? To answer that question, we take a closer look at some of the top indicators.

CONTINUED GROWTH IN HOUSING MARKET

There’s good news for homebuyers! In many markets across the country, prices have begun to stabilize after a period of rapid appreciation. Nationwide, home sales experienced a slight decline of 1.6 percent in the second quarter, primarily due to higher mortgage rates and housing prices combined with limited inventory.

However, buyers who have been waiting on the sidelines in anticipation of a big price drop may be disappointed. Demand remains strong across the sector and prices continue to rise. The Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index reported a 6.2 percent annual gain in June, a healthy but sustainable rate of appreciation.1

In its latest Outlook Report, Freddie Mac forecasts continued growth in the housing market due to a strong economy and low unemployment rate, which dropped to 3.9 percent in July.2  

“The housing market hit some speed bumps this summer, with many prospective homebuyers slowed by not enough moderately-priced homes for sale and higher home prices and mortgage rates,” according to Sam Khater, Chief Economist at Freddie Mac. “The good news is, the economy and labor market are very healthy right now, and mortgage rates, after surging earlier this year, have stabilized in recent months. These factors should continue to create solid buyer demand, and ultimately an uptick in sales, in most parts of the country in the months ahead.”3

INVENTORY TO REMAIN TIGHT, NEW CONSTRUCTION MAY HELP

Experts predict that demand for housing will continue to outpace available supply, especially in the entry-level price range.

“Today, even as mortgage rates begin to increase and home sales decline in some markets, the most significant challenges facing the housing market stem from insufficient inventory accompanying unsustainable home-price increase,” said National Association of Realtors (NAR) Chief Economist Lawrence Yun in a recent release.

“The answer is to encourage builders to increase supply, and there is a good probability for solid home sales growth once the supply issue is addressed,” said Yun. Additional inventory will also help contain rapid home price growth and open up the market to prospective homebuyers who are consequently—and increasingly—being priced out. In the end, slower price growth is healthier price growth.”4

With so much demand, why aren’t more builders bringing inventory to the market? According to the National Association of Home Builders, a crackdown on immigration and tariffs on imported lumber have made home construction more difficult and expensive. Those factors—combined with the rising cost of land and increased zoning requirements—have put a damper on the industry overall.5

Still, there’s evidence that a modest rise in the rate of new building projects may be on the way. Freddie Mac predicts new housing construction will increase slightly after a stall last quarter.2 And a recent report by Freedonia Focus Reports forecasts an annual increase in housing starts of 2.4 percent through 2022, led by an uptick in single-family homes.6 The boost in inventory should help drive sales growth and relieve some of the pent-up demand in tight markets.

While the current lack of inventory is generally preferred by sellers because it means less competition, a combination of high prices and rising interest rates has narrowed the pool of potential buyers who can afford to enter the market. Sellers should seek out real estate agents who utilize technologically-advanced marketing tactics to reach qualified buyers in their area.

AFFORDABILITY REACHES LOWEST LEVEL IN A DECADE

According to a recent report by Morgan Stanley, Americans are paying the most in monthly mortgage payments relative to their incomes since 2008.7 And prices aren’t expected to come down any time soon.

“We believe that the current supply and demand environment will continue to push home prices higher, just at a decelerating pace,” said John Egan, Morgan Stanley’s Co-Head of U.S. Housing Strategy.

Fortunately, economists aren’t concerned about affordability levels triggering another housing crisis, as lending standards are much higher today than they were during the run-up before the recession. According to credit reporting agency TransUnion, the share of homeowners who made mortgage payments more than 60-days past due fell in the second quarter to 1.7 percent, the lowest level since the market crash.7

NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun agreed with this assessment in a recent statement. “Over the past 10 years, prudent policy reforms and consumer protections have strengthened lending standards and eliminated loose credit, as evidenced by the higher than normal credit scores of those who are able to obtain a mortgage and near record-low defaults and foreclosures, which contributed to the last recession.”4

MORTGAGE RATES EXPECTED TO CONTINUE RISING

The Federal Reserve has taken measures to help keep the housing market—and the overall economy—from overheating. It has raised interest rates twice this year so far, causing mortgage rates to surge in the first half of the year.

Economists predict that the rise in mortgage rates will continue at a more gradual rate through this year and next. The U.S. weekly average mortgage rate rose from 3.99 percent in the first week of January to as high as 4.66 percent in May. Freddy Mac forecasts an average rate of 4.6 percent for 2018 and 5.1 percent in 2019.2

The good news is, mortgage rates still remain near historic lows and a whopping 14 points below the recorded high of 18.63 percent in the early 1980s.8 Buyers who have been on the fence may want to act soon to lock in an affordable interest rate … before rates climb higher.

“Some consumers may be thinking that because mortgage rates are higher than they were a year ago, maybe I should just wait until rates fall down again,” said NAR’s Chief Economist Lawrence Yun in a recent speech. “Well, they will be waiting forever.”9

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN FOR ME?

If you’ve been waiting to buy a home, you may want to act now. A shortage of available homes on the market means prices are likely to keep going up. And a lack of affordable rental inventory means rents are expected to rise, as well.

If you buy now, you will benefit from appreciating property values while locking in an historically-low interest rate on your mortgage. Waiting to buy could mean paying more for your home as prices increase and paying higher interest on your mortgage as rates continue to rise.

And if you’re in the market to sell your home, there’s no need to wait any longer. Prices have begun to stabilize, and rising interest rates could decrease the number of available buyers for your home. Act now to take advantage of this strong seller’s market.

LET’S GET MOVING

While national real estate numbers and predictions can provide a “big picture” outlook, all real estate is local. As local market experts, we can guide you through the ins and outs of our market and the issues most likely to impact sales and home values in your particular neighborhood.

If you have specific questions or would like more information about where we see real estate headed in our area, let us know! We’re here to help you navigate this changing real estate landscape.

Sources:

  1. S&P Dow Jones Indices Press Release –
    https://www.spice-indices.com/idpfiles/spice-assets/resources/public/documents/766551_cshomeprice-release-0828.pdf?force_download=true
  2. Freddie Mac Outlook Report –
    http://www.freddiemac.com/research/forecast/20180827_strong_economic_growth.html
  3. DSNews –
    https://dsnews.com/daily-dose/08-28-2018/freddie-weighs-in-on-housing-market
  4. PR Newswire –
    https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/realtors-chief-economist-reflects-on-past-recession-whats-ahead-for-housing-300702632.html
  5. CNN Money –
    https://www.keyt.com/lifestyle/where-is-the-us-housing-market-headed-4-things-you-need-to-know/787471572
  6. PR Newswire –
    https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/us-housing-starts-to-rise-2-4-yearly-to-2022–300711989.html
  7. Business Insider –
    https://www.businessinsider.com/housing-affordability-slowing-market-sales-2018-8
  8. Value Penguin –
    https://www.valuepenguin.com/mortgages/historical-mortgage-rates
  9. Times Free Press –                                                            https://www.timesfreepress.com/news/business/aroundregion/story/2018/aug/14/despite-prospects-higher-mortgage-rateshousin/476979/