Homie’s Las Vegas, Nevada Housing Market Update October 2020

As the Las Vegas fall season comes around, the Las Vegas market keeps on going up. Read below for Homie’s update.

In October, the real estate market saw growth on most fronts including the number of listings, number of units sold, and in terms of median listing price and sales price. However, units available and availability went down year-over-year. With that said, we’re still seeing the market continue to grow month-over-month which might indicate that buyers and sellers are becoming more comfortable in the existing real estate market.

Here’s the full breakdown:

Monthly Sales

According to the data from the GLVAR® from October 2020, Las Vegas real estate realized a 6.8% increase in the number of single-family units sold compared to 2019. 

List Price

Average new list prices stay strong year over year as October records a 9% increase in new listing prices for single-family units and 8.8% increase for condo/townhouse units. 

*Data from the GLVAR® from October 2020 and October 2019

Sale Price

Property prices continued to grow as this seller market keeps on strong. We saw an 8.8% increase in year-over-year median price for single family units, and also a 14.3% increase in year-over-year median price for condos and townhouses.

*Data from the GLVAR® from October 2020 and October 2019

Days on Market (DOM)

We saw the Average Cumulative Days on Market continue to decrease in October 2020, as demand for this market continues to go strong. Now averaging an insanely brief 33 days on market versus 81 Average Cumulative Days on Market in 2019. This is a strong indicator that the real estate market will continue to remain strong. 

*Data from the GLVAR® from October 2020 and October 2019

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Source: homie.com

Comparative Market Analysis: What is a CMA Report for Real Estate Buyers?

In this article:

A comparative market analysis, commonly abbreviated as CMA, is a report prepared by a real estate agent to help a client determine the value of a home. The report analyzes three or more recently sold properties similar to the home in question, usually chosen based on their similarities in size, location, age and quality.

CMAs are a valuable tool that buyers can use to ensure they’re making a competitive offer on a home. CMAs are also used by sellers to help determine an accurate listing price.

What’s included in a real estate CMA?

CMAs should include descriptions and data points for the comparable properties (called “comps” for short) that help inform the fair market value of the home being evaluated. The most accurate comparable homes are typically sold within the past three to six months. However, in rural areas or slower real estate markets it can be challenging to find recently sold comps.

Here are homes that will likely be omitted from a CMA:

Active listings: Homes currently on the market could be mispriced, so there’s no way of knowing a home’s true value until it’s sold.

Pending listings: The same goes for pending listings — they aren’t a sound indicator of a home’s value, since the deal isn’t yet finalized. If your agent can get details on the contract price of a pending listing, rather than the public list price, then the home might be used as a comparable property.

Deactivated listings: Again, since there’s no way of knowing what a buyer would actually pay, your agent will likely avoid homes recently pulled off the market.

Comparative market analysis example

Let’s say you’re interested in purchasing a home that’s currently listed for $230,000. It’s a three-bedroom, two-bathroom single family home in the city, in a good school district, with low HOA fees (under $100 per month). It’s been recently updated with new paint, new finishes and fresh landscaping.

Your agent will compile comps based on the following criteria in order to prepare a comparative market analysis for you:

Sold Date: A comparable home is often sold within the last three to six months, or within the last year in rural areas.

Location: Homes used as comps are often in the same school district, within the same neighborhood, and with similar surrounding areas—for example, if the home being evaluated is on a quiet cul de sac, the best comps should be too.

Size: Comps typically have the same number of bedrooms and bathrooms, roughly the same usable square footage and the same presence or absence of a basement and garage.

Year built: Ideally, comps are of a similar age, unless one home has been extensively updated.

Quality: The comps selected should have similar updates and upgrades, similar finishes and features and should have been cared for at a similar level. For example, a Zillow owned home will have been recently refreshed and repaired as needed to bring to market. These would not be comparable to homes with outdated systems or finishes even if they were built the same year.

Taxes and fees: Savvy real estate agents also try to narrow comps by those with similar HOA assessments and similar taxes. Why? Because all factors should be close to equal.

Comparable homes are similar, but not identical

Of course, no two homes are identical, so your agent doesn’t need to find an exact match. Anytime they’re evaluating comps, agents will get as close as they can to the home in question, then adjust as necessary to make an informed recommendation as to the home’s value. Here’s an example of comps that are perfectly valid, but not identical, continuing with the example above:

  • Comp 1 sold for $235,000. One fewer bathroom, same street and finishes, smaller yard.
  • Comp 2 sold for $275,000. Same number of bedrooms and bathrooms, newer build, additional square footage due to finished basement.
  • Comp 3 sold for $245,000. Same number of bedrooms and bathrooms, same size, but not as updated.

Using these comps as a guide, the home you’re interested in buying, has a value of somewhere between $255,000-$270,000. Your agent can help you determine a competitive offer price.

Does a house CMA include price per square foot?

Price per square foot may be included in your CMA because it can be an important factor when evaluating homes that are very similar. Whether your agent uses price per square foot in preparing your CMA depends a lot on your local real estate market and the types of comps that are available. If you have to compare a single-family home to a condo or an outdated single-family home to one that’s newly updated, price per square foot isn’t always a reliable calculation.

How is a CMA different from running your own online comps?

Simply put, CMAs are provided by real estate experts in your local area who have access to more market details than a layperson. However, you can compile a preliminary home market analysis using public data online. When you’re ready to make an offer on a home, you may benefit from a professional comparative market analysis to pinpoint a fair and competitive offer price.

Here’s how CMAs are more valuable than simply researching comps on your own:

They’re more accurate: Real estate agents have access to additional information that buyers may not. For example, if an agent sees that a comparable property sold for an unusually high price, they may be able to call the listing agent to find out why — perhaps seller closing credits played a part in the high price. Or, if a property sold for less than anticipated, it could be because it was sold to a cash buyer who was willing to close quickly.

They incorporate unique information: Real estate agents have access to the local MLS, where they can source a wealth of information on a specific listing, provided directly from the listing agent. For example, they may be able to see the financing specifics of a recent comp, which can affect the final sale price.

They have local market knowledge: Every individual real estate market is unique, and the real estate agent drafting a CMA knows how to adjust prices to account for differences in homes that are more or less valuable in your specific area. They also know which neighborhoods and types of homes are in highest demand.

Remember, CMAs are an important tool in the home buying process. Without a properly prepared CMA, you risk overpaying for a home, and your home is likely your biggest investment. Overpaying for a home can have both short- and long-term consequences, from the lender appraisal coming back too low to the inability to make a good return on your investment when you sell the home down the road.

How to get a comparative market analysis

If you’re working with a licensed agent, they can provide you with a CMA for every home you’re interested in putting an offer on during the course of your home shopping process. Usually, they’ll do this without you even asking. It’s part of their job to help you determine the best offer price for a home.

If you’re not currently working with an agent, you can find one on Zillow Agent Finder. This helpful tool lets you search by location and type of service needed. Plus, you can read reviews of agents from other buyers and sellers.

Is a CMA the same as an appraisal?

No, a CMA and an appraisal are different, although a similar process of comparing properties is used to gauge value. The key difference is that a CMA is completed by an agent and an appraisal is performed by an unbiased licensed appraiser. An appraisal is usually required by the lender during the escrow period in order to get your loan finalized.

How can buyers create a home market analysis?

Not quite ready to work with an agent but still interested in determining the value of a home you have your eye on? You can still perform a home market analysis on your own using these resources, but think of it as a preliminary CMA since an agent can provide a more accurate CMA when you’re ready.

Find the comps

Under the “recently sold” tab on Zillow you can find homes in your area that have recently sold. Make sure to pay attention to home details like location, days on market, size and features. Don’t forget to review taxes and HOA fees, too. Zillow makes it easy to search by price point, view nearby homes on a map and use advanced filters.

Narrow down your search results to three to five properties most similar to the home you’re interested in and use them to gauge an appropriate price range. Remember, your best bet is still having an agent run a CMA for you.

Check the Zestimate

Zestimates are another great jumping off point for gauging the value of a home. Simply type the home’s address into the search bar on Zillow and you’ll see our estimate of the individual home’s value. A Zestimate is not equivalent to an appraisal; it’s an estimate based on the public and users-submitted data for each home.

Source: zillow.com

Wine Country towns you can actually afford

You love​ the Napa lifestyle. The Napa prices? Not so much. If your budget is more “house blend” than “rare vintage,” you might assume that you’re priced out of a life among the vineyards. Not so. We found four wine country towns where you can sip local vino on your patio without dropping a fortune on your house.

Median sales price: $296,500

Palisade, where the median sales price is under $300,000. Photo: njplantguru/Instagram

Like Traverse City, Palisade has a microclimate that allows the area to grow produce you wouldn’t think was possible in Colorado. Its most notable crop is wine grapes—the area is home to two-thirds of the state’s vineyard acres and a quarter of its wineries. Orchards, vineyards, tasting rooms, and wineries are everywhere in this small town, and they’re all full of local Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Sauvignon Blanc. At Varaison Vineyards and Winery, locals show up on Fire Pit Fridays for s’mores and wine tastings. Residents enjoy outdoorsy adventures at Mount Lincoln and Mount Garfield and weekend festivals like September’s Colorado Mountain Winefest.

With wineries are spread throughout town, locals are never far from one, regardless of their address or budget. Here, living near a winery doesn’t require a million-dollar bank account. The good life can be had with a median sales price of $296,500.

Interested? You can have your own view of the mountains from this tidy five-bedroom for sale in Palisade for $339,357.


Median sales price: $252,111

The view from this Walla Walla home is a wine lover’s dream.

When Italians started immigrating to Walla Walla in the late 1800s, they came with a gift: winemaking know-how. Unfortunately, it would take nearly 100 years to figure out how to make grapes survive the often-fickle weather here. Today, the area is knowns for its Cabernet Sauvignon, but you’ll also find plenty of vines producing Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, and Malbec. There are more than 120 wineries in Walla Walla, including one owned by NFL star Drew Bledsoe and a mini-winery cluster on the grounds of the local airport.

Though locals take their wine seriously, the Walla Walla vibe is as light-hearted as its name. This is a city where one of the best restaurants is found in a gas station—Andrae’s Kitchen, run by acclaimed chef Andrae Bopp. And in the wineries around town, you’re likely to find winemakers mixing with patrons, or in the case of Julia Russell of Mansion Creek Cellars, teaching them flamenco moves.

Though still somewhat under the radar as a wine region, Walla Walla is getting more attention all the time. Get ahead of the crowd while the median sales price is a friendly $252,111.

Interested? This three-bedroom charmer is available now for $250,000 in Walla Walla.


Median sales price: $288,500

Overmountain Vineyards sits on a 70-acre parcel east of Tryon. Photo: pryorreggie/Instagram

This small town of 1,700 in the heart of North Carolina’s horse country has a well-deserved reputation as an oasis for the arts. Many artists, actors, and writers (including F. Scott Fitzgerald) have lived in this town near the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Locals and visitors love the galleries, independent bookstores, and restaurants along Trade Street, but the Tryon Foothills Wine Country has become an even bigger attraction. Protected from extreme weather by the mountains, the Tryon Foothills have the longest grape-growing season in the state. In fact, the area has been famous for its prime grape-growing conditions for well over a century. Today, the area produces a large variety of wine grapes, including  Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. At Mountain Brook Vineyard, grapes are harvested entirely by hand. And over at Overmountain Vineyards, a father-daughter team handcrafts French-style wine.

Interested? Even the address of this sunny two-bedroom in Tryon is right: it’s on Vineyard Road. And at $269,500, it’s less than the median price of $288,500.


Median listing price: $220,650

This home for sale in Traverse City comes with a vineyard.

The mountain-like dunes on the shores of Lake Michigan aren’t the only quirk of geography for Traverse City. Its location near the lake gives the city ideal conditions for producing cool-climate grapes, a feat not possible anywhere else in the region. Wine experts love the area’s Rieslings, and both Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are popular Traverse City varieties, too. And there’s more praise still for the natural beauty at the area’s 35 wineries, especially those on the panoramic Leelanau Peninsula. Whether you’re gazing over Grand Traverse Bay from Chateau Chantel or at the rolling fields of lavender of Brys Estate, the views pair perfectly with the wine.

Though Traverse City is a favorite among summer vacationers, it doesn’t shut down after the high season. Most wineries remain open year-round, and the arts and entertainment scene stays busy with galleries, events, and film screenings at the restored vintage State Theatre. With a median listing price of $220,650, you’d have room in your budget to explore it all.

Interested? You can find an adorable three-bedroom for sale in Traverse City for $229,900.


Ready to find the wine-country home of your dreams? See what’s available now on Trulia.

Source: trulia.com

5 Tips for Moving During COVID-19

By taking extra safety precautions and minimizing social contact, you can still move safely.

Amid travel bans, widespread stay-at-home orders and social-distancing mandates, millions of Americans have adapted to the changes brought about by COVID-19. Countless events have been rescheduled or cancelled, but for a few people — including those who already made plans to move — staying put is simply not an option. 

If you are about to move, you can still pull it off with a little extra planning and a few precautionary steps.

Here are some tips for making your move as safe, seamless and stress-free as possible. 

DIY if possible

Even though most states have designated moving services as “essential” and therefore still able to operate, many smaller companies have reduced hours or have paused business altogether. If you can, try to manage the move on your own.

If you need help, do your homework on the companies operating in your area. Call to ask about sanitation procedures, whether the movers have necessary supplies (like masks, gloves and booties), and confirm there is a reasonable cancellation policy in the event that you need to change your plans.  

Minimize contact

If you’re working with a moving company, ask for a virtual quote and see if the company offers fully contactless service. 

Forgo handshakes, for obvious reasons. A smile and a generous tip (sent through Venmo, PayPal or another contactless digital platform) are a welcome substitute. 

Take extra sanitary precautions

  • Wear masks, gloves and booties. If you’re hiring a moving company, they’ll likely bring similar supplies for their workers, but consider having additional hygiene products available.
  • Disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces, paying particular attention to door knobs and handles.
  • Place soap and paper towels next to sinks and hand sanitizer by doors.
  • Buy new boxes: The coronavirus has been found to live on cardboard for up to 24 hours, so this might not be the time to pick up used moving supplies from stores that are recycling them. You can also use boxes that you already have in your home. 

Be transparent and flexible

In advance of your move, reach out to your neighbors — especially if you live in an apartment building — and share the date and time you plan to move. This gives everyone in your direct vicinity an opportunity to avoid unnecessary contact and let you know if your timing is a problem.

If you or any family members are experiencing coronavirus symptoms, postpone your moving plans. Though rescheduling is a pain, the health and safety of your community comes first. 

Help those in need and lighten your load

Even in the best of circumstances, nearly 40 million Americans are unable to afford groceries. As COVID-19 forces school closures, soup kitchen shutdowns and a surge of layoffs, the need for anti-hunger provisions is greater than ever. Donate your shelf-stable items to a local food bank or to Move for Hunger, a national organization that works with professional moving companies and their customers to feed those in need.

Moving is hard work no matter what, and it’s especially challenging right now. But by taking extra precautions, you can — and will — get past this hurdle.  

Additional resources:

See below for a roundup of popular moving companies that are continuing service during coronavirus. The list is not exhaustive or provided as a recommendation of their services, and we encourage you to check the company websites for up-to-date information. 

Source: zillow.com

Ask The Expert: More Thoughts On Refocusing on Purchases

In my last column, Cheryl from Florida asked about refocusing on purchases in 2021. Here are some additional insights.

Dave Hershman

As a reminder, here is Cheryl’s question: “I read the forecast by the MBA which says there will be less refinances [in 2021]. I have been doing mostly refinances and I have no idea how to get back to focusing on purchases. What do you recommend?”

In my last column, I wrote about the importance of diversification in any market. There will be refinances in 2021 and every year, though the balance will change from year-to-year.

Going back to focusing on the purchase market, the next question is: are you rekindling agent relationships you have neglected or expanding by developing new relationships? Again, in this regard I am going to recommend diversification. That means that you need to work in both directions.

If you have ignored your agents during the refinance boom, I will quote Martin Luther King, Jr.: “The time is always right to do what is right.”

You may feel uncomfortable calling someone you have not called in 18 months, but you must do so anyway. However, doing what is right is not calling and asking for their business–“Hey, I know we have not talked in 18 months, but do you have any deals for me?”

But, it is always the right time to call and get caught up. Reestablish the relationship first. Find out how they are doing and what their challenges are. That conversation may lead to business or it may build a foundation for the future.

Regarding meeting new agents, this is where you leverage your sphere. Everyone you know also knows a real estate agent or two. Your neighbors, your family, the professionals you use and more. You should not be cold calling agents if your next-door neighbor knows an agent and can introduce you. You have a sphere. Leverage that sphere. This is networking at its highest level.

Moving to the last point, establishing agent relationships is not enough, you must have a value proposition. And to get to that we must first define the term value. In order to be labeled valuable, your offering must be different.

If you are offering the same things your competition is offering, then there is no inherent value. Think of a rare coin. The value is in the rarity. If a million of the same coins were discovered tomorrow, the value of that coin will fall. If your offer is great rates, service or products, the offering will not be different. How many loan officers approach an agent and say “use me, but keep in mind I deliver lousy service?”

Secondly, value must be in line with the interests or goals of your target. It can’t be what you are interested in. For example, your clients are not interested in mortgages. They are interested in real estate. No one gets up in the morning on Saturday and says to their spouse “let’s go look at mortgages today.”

And your agents are not interested in loans either. They are interested in bringing in more business. Just like you. It is all about increasing their income.

How might you help your agents increase their income? There are a multitude of ways and, in a future article, I will give an example that illustrates a common loan officer offering and making it unique, as well as being more on target with regard what your agents are really interested in.

Dave Hershman is Senior VP of Sales of Weichert Financial and the top author in the mortgage industry. Dave has published seven books, as well as hundreds of articles and is the founder of the OriginationPro Marketing System and Mortgage School – the online choice for expert mortgage learning and marketing content. His site is www.OriginationPro.com and he can be reached at dave@hershmangroup.com.

Source: themortgageleader.com

‘I Bought This House Based on Listing Photos Alone’: Was It Worth the Risk?

The coronavirus has galvanized many die-hard city dwellers to pack up and flee for the suburbs or beyond. But how easy is it to pull off such a drastic move during a pandemic?

Just ask Angela Caban, a former Broadway dancer and decorative painter who, after 28 years of living in New York City, reached her breaking point in April. Quarantined in a cramped apartment in Queens, hearing sirens wailing all night, she decided to buy a house in Charleston, SC, an area she’d grown to love during her frequent work trips there over the years.

Yet since Caban was on lockdown in New York, she had to shop for homes remotely and make offers without seeing places in person. Here’s what it was like to buy a house sight unseen, and the lessons she learned that might inspire other longtime urbanites and first-time home buyers to make the leap themselves.

Angela Caban bought this South Carolina home online just from this listing photo.
Angela Caban bought this South Carolina home online just from this listing photo.

Southern Bell Living

Location: Hanahan, SC
House specs: 1,804 square feet, 4 bedrooms, 2 baths, separate barn
List price: $234,000
Price paid: $232,000

How did the pandemic play into your decision to leave NYC?

You give up a lot to live in New York because it has a lot to offer, but when those things go away, you start to question why you’re giving up so much.

Once COVID-19 hit in March, April, and May, I was stuck in my apartment for three months straight with no work. I wasn’t getting unemployment because that hadn’t kicked in. I had no outdoor space to speak of. I just wanted to have some room to roam, be in nature, and not feel desperate. That’s what put me over the edge.

Caban's old apartment building in Astoria, Queens (She lived on the ground floor to the right of the red awning.)
Caban’s old apartment building in Astoria, Queens (She lived on the ground floor to the right of the red awning.)

Google Maps

I felt like no matter how difficult New York had been in the past, this was a whole new ball of wax. I was there for 9/11 and Hurricane Sandy. When other tragedies had hit New York City, people were saying, “We’re in this together.”

When COVID-19 hit, all of a sudden there was suspicion. Everybody was frightened of everyone else.

___

Watch: Listing Agents Answer Our Burning Questions About the ‘Silence of the Lambs’ House

___

The ambulance sirens were nonstop. Plus, my small apartment was directly on the street, with the garbage cans right outside my window. So when I tried to open the windows during the pandemic, there were roaches coming in. I was like, “I can’t do this anymore.”

Caban's new living room is almost the size of her old apartment.
Caban’s new living room is almost the size of her old apartment.

Angela Caban

What made you choose Charleston as your new home?

I’d have work meetings down here, and I had fallen in love with the area. I liked the sense of history, the weather. And financially it was doable. My mortgage now is less than half my rent for my tiny apartment in New York City.

Caban's new spacious kitchen makes her want to cook again.
Caban’s new spacious kitchen makes her want to cook again.

Angela Caban

How did your house hunt go?

I started looking near the end of April. I put an initial offer in on a house that fell through after the home inspector I’d sent to look at it said it would fall down in two years. Then I was in a panic because I’d already given notice on my New York apartment. So basically I had six weeks total to find another house and close on it. 

Caban loves spending time on her new front and back porches.
Caban loves spending time on her new front and back porches.

Angela Caban

What were your biggest challenges?

There was no inventory. Every house I looked at and said, “Oh, that’s a possibility,” would be gone by the time I called. An hour after being listed, the house would no longer be accepting offers!

How did you find the house you eventually bought?

Lucky for me, this house had been on the market for 60 days. I don’t know if it was because the photos were crappy, or the fact that the neighborhood was considered a little dicey. But I’m from New York, so the neighborhood seemed comfortable to me. I put an offer in within 48 hours of losing the other house. 

Wasn’t it scary to buy a house you hadn’t seen in person?

I was emboldened because I could always back out—you have two weeks to do so when bidding on a house. So I got in the car and drove down to look at it two days after my offer was accepted. I literally did it all in one day; it took me 12 hours to drive down. I saw the house and drove around for about two hours, and then I drove back because I had to start packing! I literally didn’t sleep for 26 hours. It’s probably why I have more gray hair now than I should.

Caban is happy to have a fireplace to decorate for the holidays.
Caban is happy to have a fireplace to decorate for the holidays.

Angela Caban

How did the house look once you saw it, compared with the photos online?

It was much better than I thought. There is a lot of detailing, dental molding, wainscoting, and paneling in the living room, along with 16 windows that let in a lot of light. Plus, there’s the barn in the back that is another 600 square feet or so. My eventual plan is to make a workshop and a place to make art and teach.

Caban's Charleston, SC, home has a 600-square-foot barn.
Caban’s Charleston, SC, home has a 600-square-foot barn.

Angela Caban

How was the mortgage process?

It was a nightmare. Nobody wants to give mortgages to a single, female, sole proprietor who does not have pay stubs—especially during COVID-19, when they’re afraid people may default on their loan. They had also enacted new COVID-19 regulations that meant I had a boatload more paperwork. I had to submit letters from clients, proposals for work that was going to happen, invoices for work that I was still waiting to be paid for. … It was insane. I joked with them that I had to give them everything except a bone scan.

Caban's new bedroom—one of four in her Charleston home
Caban’s new bedroom—one of four in her Charleston home

Angela Caban

How did you finally secure the loan?

Thanks to the help of my real estate agent, John Bell of Southern Bell Living, and his mortgage broker, Ethan Lane at Mortgage Network. They were amazing, and I was an absolute basket case: “What else do you want from me? I have no place to go. I’m going to be homeless!”

I look forward to giving them both a hug someday after COVID-19 is under control.

How did you close on the house during the pandemic?

That is a whole additional saga. I was finishing up a painting job in New York when all of a sudden on Friday they said, “You’re closing on Monday,” so I had to get an attorney to attend the closing for me. To get that, I had to get a statement notarized. In the middle of COVID-19! I met the notary on the street, but then I had to have two witnesses! It took me asking 18 strangers to find two people who said they’d help.

Caban painted her new door red and added the bumblebee knocker.
Caban painted her new door red and added the bumblebee knocker.

Angela Caban

How did you pull off a move during the pandemic?

I couldn’t get a truck in New York. So I packed my car and drove down to Charleston, where I dropped off my cats in the new house. Then I rented a U-Haul and drove it back to New York, hired two guys who then met me at my old apartment, packed the truck. Drove it back down to South Carolina, where I hired two more guys to help me unload the truck, and voilà.

Caban's cats adjusting to their new home
Caban’s cats adjusting to their new home

Angela Caban

Was leaving New York hard after living there for 28 years?

Leaving was difficult because you almost feel like it’s a badge of honor that you’re a survivor in New York City. But down here, I finally feel like I can actually live my life instead of just trying to make it from one month to the next. I can think big thoughts and make big things happen, for which I simply didn’t have the energy in New York.

A formal dining room is a luxury that few New Yorkers can afford.
A formal dining room is a luxury that few New Yorkers can afford.

Angela Caban

Now that you’ve lived in Charleston for a few months, how are you feeling?

It’s like I can finally breathe, and I absolutely love it. I sit every morning out on my back patio and watch woodpeckers, blue jays, and cardinals. I have roses that are blooming that I planted.

Caban now loves starting her days watching birds on her back patio instead of exterminating roaches in her New York apartment.
Caban now loves starting her days watching birds on her back patio instead of exterminating roaches in her New York apartment.

Angela Caban

What advice would you give first-time home buyers and others looking to move now?

When you’re looking at homes online, don’t immediately discount a property just by how it looks in its photos. It’s like online dating that way. You need to see how it feels once you’re face to face and interacting with the space. Luckily, though, the minute I saw it in person, I knew I would be very happy here.

Caban says she can finally breathe since leaving New York.
Caban says she can finally breathe since leaving New York.

Angela Caban

Source: realtor.com

Homie’s Denver Housing Market Update November 2020

The real estate market is constantly changing, especially in the local Denver market. We like to keep an eye on it for you, so we can let you know what’s going on! Here’s the latest update:

Data from ReColorado from November 1, 2020 to November 30, 2020.

Monthly Sales

At 5,236, monthly sales are up 22% from this same time last year in the Denver metro area. While the sales are up from November 2019, they are 19% lower than sales in October. A decrease in monthly sales between October and November is fairly common.

monthly sales

Data retrieved from RE Colorado.

New Listings

November saw 3,695 new listings in Denver. This is a 1% increase from the previous November and a 40% decrease from October of this year, continuing the trend of a slow down as we move into the colder months.

New Listings

Data retrieved from RE Colorado.

Sale Price

The average sale price for homes in the Denver metro area in November was $547,094. This is a 13% increase from November 2019 and just a decrease of 2% from October of this year. Single-family homes are selling for higher prices than multi-family residences, such as townhomes and condos. The average sale price for a single-family home was $224,195 higher than multi-family residences.

sale price

Data retrieved from RE Colorado.

Days on Market (DOM)

The number of days on market continues to drop, with an average of 22 days and a median of six days during November. The average is a 13-day decrease from last November’s average and a 2-day decrease from this October, while the median is a 13-day decrease from last November and a 2-day decrease from this October.

Single-family residences spent an average of 6 days fewer on the market than multi-family residences.

Average Days on Market

Data retrieved from RE Colorado.

Turn to a Homie

Whether you’re looking to buy or sell, Homie has experienced, local real estate agents who are excited to work with you. These agents understand the nuances of the local real estate market and are willing to go the extra mile to get you the deal you’re looking for. Click to start selling or buying and to get in touch with your dedicated agent.

Get more tips on navigating the Colorado real estate market!

5 Tips to Help You Afford Your First Home
Common Home Buying Fears and How to Overcome Them
Can You Buy and Sell a Home at the Same Time?

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Source: homie.com

Steps to Building a House

In this article:

If you can’t find your dream home on the market or if you want to create a home that’s uniquely yours, you might consider building a house. Buyers who decided to build new homes were more likely to say that selecting the floor plan, having everything in the home be brand-new and customizing their home features were among their top reasons.* Before deciding if new construction is for you, you’ll want to learn about the different types of new-home construction and familiarize yourself with the process, from the initial land search all the way to selecting finishing touches. 

Typically, when someone says they’re planning to build their own home, they are referring to a fully custom build where they have a say in almost everything (short of items restricted by local laws and zoning regulations). But, in the realm of new construction, there are three different approaches buyers can take: 

Spec homes. With a spec home (short for speculative home), a home builder designs and constructs a single-family home without having one individual buyer in mind. Instead, they plan on selling the house to a buyer once it’s finished. Depending on how early in the process you are able to go under contract, you may be able to select some of the home’s final touches, like flooring, kitchen appliances and paint color. Sometimes these homes are listed for sale as “pre-construction.” 

Tract homes. With a tract home, a developer purchases a parcel of land and divides it into individual lots. Then, a home builder constructs all of the homes in that planned community. Tract homes can be condominiums, townhomes or single-family homes. Most homes in the community will look similar, and shared amenities are common. Similar to spec homes, you may be able to select some finishes in advance, depending on the timeline. 

Fully custom homes. With a fully custom home, you typically find the land on your own then hire a builder to build your dream home. You have total control over the floor plan, layout and finishes, but the process requires a lot of decision-making, attention to detail and disciplined budgeting — custom homes can be expensive. 

Since custom homes are the most complex new construction option out there, we’ll spend most of this article explaining the process.

Check your financing options

Once you’ve decided that building a custom home is the right choice for you, the next step is figuring out how you’ll pay for it — and a traditional 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage isn’t an option for custom home construction, at least not at first. 

Unless you can pay for the entire build with cash, you’ll likely be looking for a construction loan, which is also sometimes called a self-build loan or a construction mortgage. Getting a construction loan is often more difficult than getting a traditional mortgage, as you’re borrowing money for a concept and not a physical house. You’ll need to provide your lender with a timetable, budget, floor plans, materials needed and extensive details to be considered. Other things to know about construction loans:

  • They have variable rates that are often higher than typical mortgage rates.
  • A 20%-25% down payment is usually required.
  • The loan can include the land you’re purchasing or it can cover only the construction costs if you already own the land. 
  • There’s an opportunity to refinance into a traditional fixed-rate mortgage once construction is complete.

Locate the right lot

If you don’t already own the land you plan to build on, you’ll need to shop around for the right lot. A real estate agent can help you identify lots for sale in your area. 

As you narrow down lots you like, you’ll want to loop in your architect and builder to make sure the lot you select fits the needs of your home’s floor plan and design. They should be able to help you check zoning laws and restrictions and identify any attributes of the lot that might make it more expensive to build on — for example, a steeply graded lot may require more engineering, or a lot in a remote area may necessitate a septic tank.

Plan and design the home

Figuring out the size, layout and style of your home is a big task, and it can happen before or after the lot is selected, depending on your individual plans. When you’re building a custom home, the sky’s the limit, although you will need to keep in mind your budget and any limitations of your lot. And, if you don’t plan on living in the home forever, consider how design decisions will affect the home’s future resale value. 

The professionals on your team will be able to help you home in on the right style and layout, but it doesn’t hurt to get a feel for what you might want in advance. Drive around your area and identify homes you like. Look for interior design inspiration online or research the latest smart home features to see if you think they’re worth the added cost. 

Here are a few important design decisions that need to be made early on:

Number of bedrooms and bathrooms. How many people will be living in the house? Is your family growing, or are you downsizing? What about houseguests?

Single story vs. two story or more. Are there mobility issues that should be accommodated? Would a one-story home be easier for those with limited mobility living there? 

Outdoor space. How important is outdoor space and how much should you have? The bigger the yard, the more maintenance involved. 

Open concept or individual rooms. How open you want your house to be depends on your taste and lifestyle. Individual rooms give a more classic feel, while open concept homes are more modern. 

Home style. What aesthetic do you want your house’s exterior to have? Tudor, Cape Cod, craftsman, colonial?

Interior design. Are you partial to modern design, a more traditional look or something in between? If you plan on using the same furnishings you have now, will they match the look of the new home? 

Additional features. Think through other features that need to be decided on early in the process, like smart home compatibility, eco-friendly materials or solar panels. 

Future resale value. If you think you’ll sell the home at some point in the future, consider the home’s possible resale value. For example, if you add a pool or an upscale kitchen, will your home be priced too high for the neighborhood?

Hire professionals

Building a home isn’t an easy task, and it’s rare to take on the entire project yourself. So, you’ll need to have several different professionals by your side to ensure your home is structurally sound, follows local code and suits your needs.

Home builder

Hiring the right builder can make or break your custom home experience. Choose someone who is not only a licensed general contractor but also has a portfolio of custom homes and success stories in recent years. 

To find your builder, you can ask for a referral from friends and family, search online, or ask your real estate agent for recommendations. A good builder will help with:

  • Budget
  • Zoning laws, including acquiring permits
  • Infrastructure needs, like utilities and sewer

Architect

In most places, in order to even apply for permits, you’ll need architectural plans. Discuss the following details with your architect before they create your blueprints:

  • Square footage
  • Stories
  • Number of bedrooms and bathrooms
  • Layout
  • Functionality

Interior designer

You may also want to hire an interior designer who can help with the finishes once the framing and structural elements are in place. From flooring to bath tiles to fixtures, there are many design choices that need to be made, and it can get overwhelming for the average home buyer. If you do plan on making all the interior design choices on your own, don’t wait until installation time. Start researching finishes and fixtures early so you can set your budget.

Other professionals

In addition to these key players, there are other professionals involved in the custom-home-building process. Many of these people are hired by your home builder or general contractor:

  • Land clearing crew
  • Surveyor
  • Structural engineer
  • Inspector (from the city)
  • Plumbers
  • Electricians

Understand the process of building a house

After the designs and blueprints have been finalized and your permits have been approved, that’s when construction starts and your home begins to take shape, generally following these steps: 

1. Land prep
The first step in the construction process is getting the land ready. This includes clearing the area, digging trenches and making sure utilities are installed. 

2. Footings and foundation
Your foundation will be made of poured concrete reinforced with steel rods. Depending on the part of the country you’re building in and the design of your home, you may have a slab foundation, crawl space or a full basement. No matter what kind of foundation is poured, it will be sprayed with a waterproofing material and inspected by the city before framing begins. 

3. Framing
In the framing step, the bones of the home start to take shape. Framing includes the floor joists, subfloors, studs that form the walls and roof trusses. During this step, the crew will wrap the house to protect it from moisture. If construction is taking place during a rainy time of year, your builder may also install windows, roof shingles and siding during this step. 

4. Plumbing, electrical and HVAC
Once the home is “dried in,” subcontractors will start installing the home’s major systems, including plumbing pipes, electrical wiring and heating and cooling ducts. Each of these steps requires signoff from a local inspector. 

5. Insulation
Your home’s insulation needs will vary by climate, but in general, insulation will be applied to exterior walls, basements, crawl spaces and attics. Fiberglass, cellulose and foam insulation are all options. 

6. Drywall
Drywall panels are hung with screws, taped and mudded, and a spray texture is applied. Then the new walls are primed with paint.  

7. Interior finishes
In this step, most of the home’s interior features will be added. This includes doors, baseboards, casings, window sills, stair balusters, kitchen counters and cabinets, bathtubs, vanities, and hard-surfaced flooring. Interior painting and hardwood installation are sometimes done during this step, but they may be done later if there is risk of damage due to continuing construction. 

8. Exterior finishes
Driveways, walkways, patios and final grading to direct water away from home will all be completed. Landscaping and exterior decorating happen during this step too. 

9. Fixture installation
With the house close to completion, toilets, faucets, light switches, heat register covers, the hot water heater, the electrical panel and the HVAC systems are all installed. Many of these items require another round of inspection. Another task that happens in this step is the installation of glass fixtures like mirrors and shower doors. 

10. Flooring installation
Carpet and hardwood flooring are added in this late stage. Make sure to check with your builder on the status of your hardwood finishing process so you don’t accidentally damage them. 

11. Final inspection
Once construction is complete, a final inspection will be conducted by a local building official. Upon passing, you’ll receive a certificate of occupancy, which gives you the green light to move in. 

12. Final walkthrough
Before you move in, you’ll want to do a final walkthrough with your builder to identify punch list items that need to be repaired for the job to be considered complete. Common punch list items include electrical defects like nonfunctioning outlets, damage to drywall and paint, or missing fixtures.

Skip construction and buy renovated

Building a custom home is a complicated process, and it can take well over a year depending on your location, lot complications, house size, laws and the permit-approval process. Another option is to buy a home that has already been renovated — you get a fresh and updated feel without having to do the work yourself.

Shop Zillow-owned homes

Buyers of Zillow-owned homes can be confident that the homes they buy have been professionally renovated by local contractors. With Zillow-owned homes, you can avoid the stress of a custom build and make yourself at home.

*Zillow New Construction Consumer Housing Trends Report 2019

Source: zillow.com

My home buying story: How VA loans helped this service member buy a home

Name: Chris V.

Year: 2004

City: Kapolei

Occupation: Army

Age: 21

Salary: $20,000 + $1,300 a month housing allowance

Home Price: $160,000

Chris and his wife, Nichole, had only been married for a couple of years when they bought their first home in 2004. Like most young couples, they didn’t have enough income for a giant mortgage or pile of cash for the down payment. To make matters worse, Chris and Nichole were house hunting in Hawaii, the most expensive housing market in the nation.

The median housing price in Hawaii then was $460,000, a big number for a couple of 21-year-olds living on an Army salary. But Chris and Nichole had an edge: a Veterans Administration loan, or VA Loan. This is a type of home financing guaranteed by the federal government that helps current and former military families buy a home or pay for home improvements.

Here’s how a VA loan helped them reach their homeownership goals.

It got them into the market with no down payment.

Chris and Nichole made a home-buying budget work for one reason: they didn’t have to pay a dime for a down payment. One of, if not the best thing about a VA home loan is that it allows veterans to buy without putting any money down. As anyone who has bought a home knows, you can spend half your life saving enough cash for some mortgages. Chris and Nichole would have needed $32,000 for a 20% down payment on a $160,000 mortgage—more than his entire salary for 18 months.

But with zero down, they were able to budget for a $160,000 home. Chris was stationed at Schofield Barracks outside Honolulu, so he looked at housing in nearby Kapolei, a planned community developed in the 1950s. They looked at condos because a single-family home was not in their budget. He and Nichole ended up buying a 660-square-foot condo home.

A couple stand outside of a condo near Honolulu

Chris and Nichole in front of their first home—a condo outside Honolulu.

It earned them great terms.

Plenty of young home buyers know they can be trusted with a mortgage, but lenders don’t take people’s word for it. You know whose word they do trust? The government’s. While many first-time home buyers end up paying extra fees and interest until they can prove themselves super credit-worthy, VA loans help veterans and active service members get into homeownership without those extra costs.

Since VA loans are backed by the government, lenders consider them to be less risky and grant favorable terms to buyers with a good credit score and the ability to repay the loan. Chris and Nichole got a competitive interest rate and didn’t have to pay closing costs or get PMI (private mortgage insurance). “We got cash back at closing,” Chris says. “And not having PMI knocked quite a bit off our monthly payment compared to a traditional loan.”

VA loans helped them grow—even during the recession.

Fast forward to 2009. Chris was a Bronze Star recipient back from a tour of duty in Iraq. He has left the Army and is working for a software firm in Hawaii. Nichole is pregnant with their first child, so it was time for them to look for a bigger place to live.

There was one problem. The Great Recession had hit two years earlier, and housing prices had collapsed. It wasn’t a great time to sell, so they wanted to hang on to their condo and rent it out, but they weren’t in a position to both keep it and make a down payment. Once again, a VA loan saved the day, even though Chris was now a civilian. Veterans can get VA loans after they leave the service. It’s a benefit they keep for the rest of their lives.

They bought a 1,400-square-foot house in Waipahu, an area of Honolulu, for $575,000, with no money down. And instead of selling the condo and taking a loss, they refinanced it with a traditional lender and turned it into a rental property. “We had to refinance with a regular lender to stay under the VA lending limit with the house,” he says.

Chris and Nichole celebrate their second home with their first child on the way.

Two years later, in 2011, his job took him to the East Coast, where they decided to rent. They also rented out their house in Hawaii, along with their condo because it still wasn’t a good market for sellers.

“We owed $25,000 more for the house than we could sell it for, and we would have agent fees on top of that,” Chris says. “We definitely didn’t have the cash at that point to make up the difference.”

A third VA loan allowed them to arrive at their ideal home.

In 2013, Chris took a job as a software engineer in the San Francisco Bay Area with Trulia. Nichole was pregnant with baby number three, and she sent Chris off to California with clear instructions. “She told me ‘Buy me a fricking house,’” Chris says. “She did not want to live in a hotel.”

It took him just three weeks. “I looked at thousands of places online, but only a dozen in person,” he says. He ended up buying a 2,336-square-foot house in Pleasant Hill for $700,000—a great deal in a town with a median sale price of $813,500. Again, he bought with a VA loan.

The neighborhood, Gregory Gardens, is vibrant and full of trees. “You felt like you were in the forest, even though you were in a neighborhood,” Chris says. There’s a Bay Area Rapid Transit station nearby for easy commuting. His three kids have a big yard and plenty of neighborhood children to pal around with.

Between Chris’s career taking his family through some of the priciest housing markets in the country and the housing market crash nearly derailing their finances, VA loans truly came to the rescue for Chris and Nichole—an appropriate benefit for the veterans, active service members, and their families who come to their nation’s rescue all the time.

“(VA loans are) one of the best military benefits,” Chris says. “We couldn’t have bought our first home without it, and we wouldn’t be where we are now without them.”

Wondering what homes you might be able to buy with a VA loan? See what’s available now on Trulia.

Source: trulia.com

Selling? Increase Your Home’s “Screen Appeal”

With home showings going online during COVID-19, learn how to make your listing stand out on screen.

If you were counting on crowded open houses (or any open houses, for that matter) to sell your home, you’ve probably been rethinking your strategy. With many people staying home, online for-sale listings have taken on more importance than ever, and it all starts with increasing your home’s screen appeal.  

Stage your space

The first step in staging your home is aggressive decluttering. Put away all the kids’ and pets’ toys, store or recycle loose magazines and box up your picture frames and mementos for now. You don’t want to erase all the personality from your home, but you do want it to feel neutral so potential buyers can imagine themselves living there. Plus, the less random stuff on display, the more spacious your rooms will look. 

Next, consider the layout. You may love how your rooms are arranged, but your furniture placement might not maximize space on screen. Take some test photos to see if the current layout photographs well. If you’re planning on creating a recorded or live video tour, do a video chat walkthrough with a friend and see if you have a clear path between furniture pieces. You definitely want to avoid tripping over an ottoman while doing a live tour.

Finally, clean and dust every surface in sight, and replace all the lightbulbs so that rooms are as bright as they can be — even the most beautiful spaces won’t read well on camera if they’re too dark.

Consider virtual staging

If your current home is empty, you have a few options: 

  • You can leave it empty. (But staged homes tend to sell faster.) 
  • You can purchase furniture, if you’re able to have it safely delivered to your home. You just need a few key pieces to show the scale of a room — a couch, coffee table and rug establish a living room’s size, for instance. You can always resell or donate the pieces to charity later if you don’t want to keep them. 
  • You could try virtual staging, which digitally adds furnishings to your space. It’s come a long way and can make a home look very attractive. There are many online services as well as DIY apps to choose from. 

Your home looks great now share it

There are a few ways of showcasing your home online to generate more interest, even when having an agent or professional photographer doing the legwork is not an option or involves creative solutions.

For still photographs, see our comprehensive photography guide for home sellers

For guidance on creating recorded or live video walkthroughs, check out these tips

And finally, consider trying out the free Zillow 3D Home® app, an easy way to create a virtual tour on an iPhone and post it to Zillow, Trulia your social accounts and beyond.

Source: zillow.com