Zoom Towns on the Rise

Yes, you read the title of the article right – Zoom Towns.

But, what are they?

These “towns” are locations that have been booming due to remote work becoming more of a reality with the many changes COVID has brought.

While this surge might be temporary (as more businesses decide to bring back their employees again), the Zoom Town Boom could potentially reshape the idea of small towns. Millennials, being the biggest home purchasing generational group of 2020, has been the one to primarily fuel this new geographical change.

Many homebuyers and owners who once felt stifled by their work location, now feel as though they can live where they’ve always wanted – tourist destinations, like beach and mountain towns.

Moving away from large cities to Zoom Towns might help lower housing costs in what would be pricier areas.

Bloomberg has reported that, “these trends probably will become clearer in the next year or two […] it now seems likely that there will be a new group of winners such as Truckee, California and Missoula, Montana amid the shift to virtual work, transforming their housing markets, and local economies forever.”

Interested in moving to a Zoom Town? Comment below!

For more real estate news and trends, check out Alliance’s Blog here.

Real Estate Tip of the Week: Agent Safety Tips

September is real estate agent safety month!

The National Association of Realtor’s have created list of safety tips to help agents better prepare for unknown situations, while also raising their confidence when out in the field.

Safety is of the upmost importance at all times – these tips can help you, as an agent, throughout the year! Check out their first five tips explained below:

Show Properties During the Day

Try your very best to show homes to your clients during the day. If that is not possible, be sure to tell your coworkers and supervisor and give them your contact information. While you’re at the home, do not close any blinds or turn off the lights.

Prep New Clients

A new client should meet you in the office with their Prospect Identification Form completed. Have them also bring a photocopy of their driver’s license as well – discard their personal information after you no longer need it.

Be Weary of Sharing Information

When you advertise your services, be careful not to give out more information than you have to. Do not include your home address, and do not use your full name. If you must use an address, use your company’s address.

Let Clients Guide

Let your client lead the way around the home you’re showing – never don’t lead them, but direct them from a position behind. You can gesture and let them know about the next room they will be entering.

Check Your Surroundings

When you’ve arrived at your destination, make sure you’re checking your surroundings. Make sure you’re parked in a well-lit and visible location, and that you can exit easily.

For more of NAR’s tips on safety, check out their article.

Real Estate Agent Safety

September is Realtor Safety Month, and the National Association of Realtors have released their 2020 Member Safety Report!

In most cases, real estate agents are having to show homes by themselves and to strangers – the report finds that 31% of agents feel unsafe during open homes or showings, and 27% said they feel unsafe when meeting a new client for the first time at a scheduled location or property.

Female real estate agents are more likely than men to take NAR’s course on safety in the field, at 33%, while only 21% of men have taken it. Of those who have taken the course, 79% reported feeling better prepared in unknown situations.

It also looks like female agents are more readily prepared to protect themselves than last year – in 2020, 50% of women are carrying a self-defense item, while 46% of male agents are doing the same. In 2019, 49% of female agents and 45% of male agents had some sort of self-defense weapon or tool.

For more on real estate agent safety, check out the NAR’s page here. Be sure to stop by Alliance’s blog to keep in the loop with all news!

Real Estate Tip of the Week: Win the Bidding War

The housing market is filled with competition!

If you’ve been out searching for a home, then you’ve probably been told (either by your agent or from other buyers) that you’ll probably be fighting for the home that you want.

So what do you do to make sure you win the bidding war?

Pre-Approved

One of the best things you can do to win a bidding war, is to get pre-approved for a mortgage. This should be done regardless, before you enter the home-searching phase (however, some potential homebuyers might not take this first step). This pre-approval will show the seller that you’re ready to purchase.

All-Cash Offer

Cash offers erase the need for an appraisal and bank approval for a loan. This sort of offer signals to the seller that you are ready to purchase the home today.

Raise the Price

If you can make sure you keep your counteroffer within means for your budget, it might benefit you in the long run to offer more and beat out other potential buyers that way.

Moveable Closing Date

If you can, allow for a flexible closing date. Giving the seller more time to fix any repairs, etc. might sound really appealing.

Remove Contingences

If wiggle room allows, removing contingences can help elevate your offer. However, be weary with this – the more you remove, the more risk is taken off of the seller and put on to you.

Write a Personal Letter

Seeing pictures of your family, and/or why you love their house, can really motivate the seller to choose you over other buyers. It becomes more personal – especially if the seller has been in the home for some time.

Bidding wars aren’t necessarily fun – but they don’t have to be the end game for you as a buyer. Work with your real estate agent to make sure you receive the best deal.

For more real estate tips and tricks, stop by Alliance’s Blog!

Build and They Will Come – to Outlying Suburbs

Pre-pandemic, homeowners and future homebuyers were looking to purchase as close to the city as possible – but now, it seems as though the more space, the better.

Home construction in small-metro suburbs increased 10.6% in the second quarter on an annual average basis. Before the pandemic, 55% of purchases were centered on large metro areas, which made it difficult for builders to expand. Now that buyers are looking to spread out, building is predicted to boom.

What exactly are small-metro suburbs, you might ask? These areas are defined as “outlining counties” outside from urban areas that have less than 1 million population.

According to a Harris Poll, a third of Americans have considered moving to smaller populated areas, following the initial outbreak in mid-April.

With a mixture of home affordability, workers either part- or full-time, and the need for larger home space, single-family construction will be growing faster in these low-density markets.

Looking for more real estate news? Stop by Alliance’s Blog.

Millennials & the Housing Boom

Millennials are making strides in homeownership.

According to the Pew Research Center, millennials have now surpassed baby boomers as the largest living adult generation in the U.S.

And with being the largest living adult generation, comes homeownership. These younger home buyers in their 20s and 30s have become a major contribution towards assisting the real estate market’s rebound.

July saw a huge surge of existing-home sales by nearly 25% – which is the highest seasonally adjusted annual rate since December 2006. With historically low interest rates, the dream of homeownership has become reachable.

So, just how many homes are millennials predicted to purchase? First American Financial believes the generational group could purchase at least 15 million homes over the next decade.

Looking for more real estate news? Stop by Alliance’s Blog.

Real Estate Tip of the Week: Credit Pulls

Credit – don’t let it be a scary term for you while you’re trying to buy a home! Credit is important; it helps you (or hurts you) when it comes time to fill out applications for loans. So before you jump on the homeownership train, it’s critical that you understand your credit.

When you fill out applications for a home loan, the bank will do a credit pull. What’s a credit pull, you ask?

There are two kinds of credit pulls: a hard and a soft pull.

A hard pull (also known as a hard inquiry) takes place when a lender or a financial institution checks your credit score once you apply for a loan, mortgage, or any other additional line of credit.

They use the credit report as information on deciding whether to accept the borrower’s request. This pull will stay on your credit report for two years (but it will only affect your credit score for one year) and can only happen if you authorize the lender to pull your credit.

One thing to keep in mind: applying for multiple applications at once might not look so good for your credit score. Lenders see multiple hard inquires as red flags when it’s done in a short amount of time. They view it as more opportunity for you to miss or make late payments – if you have too many credit lines.

What about if you’re shipping for the best mortgage rate?

If you’re comparing rates (something you should definitely do when shopping for a mortgage – and hey! We have an article about mortgage shopping), most credit scoring models do take this into consideration. If similar lenders look at your credit report to offer you rates within a 45-day window, it’ll more than likely count as a single inquiry, rather than multiple. This way, your score won’t drop each time you get a quote.

Don’t fret – hard pulls won’t usually make a big change to your credit score. This all depends on how long your credit history is, and how disciplined you are when you make payments (among other things).

Hard pulls happen when you apply for a:

  • Mortgage
  • Car loan
  • New credit card
  • Student loan
  • Personal loan
  • Apartment for rent

A soft pull doesn’t affect your credit and usually happens without you even knowing it. While that sounds concerning, it isn’t something for you to necessarily worry over.

These pulls are cursory reviews of your credit report. Soft pulls happen when:

  • Your new employer checks your credit
  • You check your own credit
  • Lenders send you mail saying you’ve been “pre-approved”

While your credit score is an important part of applying for loans, your payment history is of the upmost importance.

Be sure to check out Alliance’s Blog for more tips and news on all things real estate.

Cottagecore: The New Housing Trend?

COVID seems to be changing a lot of things – and how we style our homes has become one of them!

If you haven’t heard of “Cottagecore,” then you’re in for a treat. Cottagecore closely resembles “Hygge” and is meant to “embrace comfort and coziness to create a relaxing environment”.

Taylor Swift is a major representation for Cottagecore, especially when highlighting her newest album, “Folklore.” Her music videos and short clips “exemplifies the essence of the look: rustic cottage, wildflowers, [and] knitted blankets.”

So what are some ideas and décor you can use for your home to give it a “Cottagecore” feel? Check out some of these tips below:

  • A muted-color palette
  • Flowered Wallpaper
  • Botanical Bedding
  • Earthenware Mugs
  • Farmhouse Pitcher
  • Mason Jar Lights
  • Wood tones & textured pieces
  • Indoor Herb Garden
  • Reading Nook

Think: idyllic, peaceful, rustic, and vintage.

So, what do you think? Is the “Cottagecore” lifestyle the one for you? Comment below!

Stop – Construction Time! Real Estate Inventory Heats Up

2020, although not what real estate experts were expecting, is heating up with new real estate construction.

According to the National Association of Realtors, single-family and multifamily construction jumped 23% last month, which is the highest production rate since February.

Construction has reached its pre-pandemic peak, which marks a hopeful pivotal moment for inventory.

Single-family construction rose by 8.2% in July, and multifamily rose by 58.4%. This construction includes apartment buildings, condos, townhouses, duplexes, bungalows, etc.

Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist of the National Association of Realtors, predicts “inventory shortages will remain problematic for the reminder of the year, but will create a more balanced market for the housing supply in 2021.

Housing permits rose 18.8% in July – which is a great indicator for future construction.

Real Estate Tip of the Week: Final Walk-Through Checklist

Congratulations! You’ve done the hurdles of purchasing a home – and now the only thing left is the final walk-through! But what do you need to know before you complete one of your last steps?

What is a Final Walk-Through?

Just as it sounds – you and your real estate agent will walk through the house one last time before you purchase. This is the time for you to spend a few hours looking over every part of the house to check that everything works as it should. You’ll make sure that all requested repairs have been completed and no new repair or maintenance issues have come up since the inspection, among other things.

The final walk-through should take place as close to the closing on the home as possible, and the house should be empty (seller has completely moved out at this point).

This will not be another home inspection – this is only a “check-in” to ensure the house is in the condition you made the offer in.

What to Bring?

Prepare to bring:

  • The original offer that shows what both parties have agreed to in the sale terms.
  • The inspection report that includes any repairs requested.
  • Paper and pen to take any notes.
  • A phone to document any damage or concerns.
  • A power cord (or any item that has a plug-in) to double check the outlets.

Questions to ask and actions to take:

  • Are the requested repairs complete?
  • Has anything been left behind by the seller?
  • Are any appliances missing that should have stayed in the home?
  • Double check water, electricity, gas, and heating/cooling systems.
  • Run hot and cold water from all the faucets.
  • Flush all the toilets and check for leaks.
  • Test all ceiling fans and light switches.
  • Open and close all doors and windows & double check that they lock correctly.

Discuss with your Real Estate Agent

Most times, a final walk-through doesn’t end with an array of problems – but if one or two things pop up on your checklist that concern you, be sure to discuss these with your real estate agent. Your agent is there to represent you and will communicate with the seller’s agent if anything does arise.

After the walk-through, you’ll complete your closing and move into your new home! Congratulations!

Want more real estate tips and tricks? Stop by Alliance Title’s Blog.