Top Ten Projects Filed Under Home Improvement Remorse

If you have HGTV backing you to help remodel your home, then the idea of tearing apart your kitchen or bathroom doesn’t seem so scary.

While do-it-yourself projects can potentially help you save money, they don’t all come easy. A recently released survey from ImproveNet shows that almost two-thirds of homeowners regret not calling in a professional on at least one of their projects.

Various home improvement DIY projects might seem like a cake walk – until you’re halfway through and realize you’ve bit off more than you can chew.

The biggest remodel that brought the highest stress was installing floor tiles – particularly in the master bath. Why? Well, making sure the ceramic tile is level and grouted correctly can be painstakingly frustrating and tricky.

The survey shows that 55% of homeowners took longer to complete a project than originally expected – luckily, only 8% of survey responders said their homes were damaged because of their remodel attempts.

Here are the top 10 most regretted DIY home improvement projects:

  1. Installing floor tiles
  2. Replacing a ceiling
  3. Refinishing hardwood floors
  4. Installing carpets
  5. Finishing the basement
  6. Installing hardwood floors
  7. Refinishing cabinetry
  8. Installing sprinklers
  9. Installing showers and baths
  10. Painting home interiors

Renovating on your own can make you feel like a hero once it’s completed – just make sure the remodeling project is within your wheelhouse.

Relief for Real Estate in Rural Towns

Rural towns haven’t been so rural.

Prisons and military bases are usually located outside smaller towns – typically becoming the biggest employers and economic drivers in the area. While a growing job force is always welcome, it has induced a negative side effect towards real estate in these smaller farming towns.

Counting towards an area’s population, prisons and military bases put these communities over the threshold of eligibility for federal Rural Housing Service (RHS) programs. Essentially, towns with a population greater than 35,000 aren’t considered rural under these guidelines.

However, this regulation seems to be changing.

The U.S. Congress recently passed a big farm bill that only counts a portion of a prison or a military base population against the area’s populace total.

Why does this matter? Well, rural towns can now access RHS programs – programs which provide safe and affordable mortgages for these communities.

These programs are underwritten using specialized data that recognizes particular characteristics of rural towns and properties – such as the absence of various public services.

While this is a huge win for rural towns and the real estate market, this bill won’t be enacted until 2030.

The National Association of Realtors® is optimistic in supporting this bill and is eager to see a swift change in finance affordability in these areas.

Mom and Dad Loans for Millennial Homebuyers

Younger homebuyers – aka, millennials – have had quite the setback when it comes to buying homes; this news hasn’t been all that surprising considering their place in student debt and rising mortgage rates.

But it looks like mom and dad have stepped in to help them achieve a major milestone.

More than 26% of mortgage borrowers who used Federal Housing Administration-insured loans received assistance from a relative to make a down payment – up from 22% in 2011.

FHA loans are predominantly used by those buying homes for the first time; first-time borrowers with weaker credit profiles seek out this government assistance when they cannot obtain a conventional loan. Conventional loans, for the most part, can require buyers to put down as much as 20% of the purchase price upfront, whereas FHA buyers can pay as little as 3.5%.

With the median home value in the U.S. at $221,500 this past November, it becomes easier to understand why these millennial homebuyers are needing the additional help – especially when statistics point out that the median price is 8% higher than last year and 25% higher than a decade ago.

As the real estate market enters 2019, analysts and economists alike will be viewing the millennial home buying trend with a keen eye.

Keep up with all things real estate and follow Alliance Title’s blog.

Real Estate Tip of the Week: And the Referrals Have It

As a real estate agent, you know that your job isn’t over after closing day – being a successful agent means staying in contact with previous clients and establishing that referral base. Who knows – you might just make a lifelong friend along the way!

The 2018 National Association of REALTORS® Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers shows that connections go a long way – 48% of younger buyers (37 years and younger) used a referral to select a real estate agent. Going above and beyond that extra mile even after closing will set up a positive precedent for you and your business.

Here are some sure ways to impress those clients after they’ve signed:

Follow Ups

Usually a seven or 30-day follow up is a healthy buffer before checking in on clients. See how they’re enjoying their home and ask if they need anything!

Emails and Cards

Remember those special dates! Mail birthday or closing day anniversary cards – stay within their realm and showcase how you prioritize their personal well-being.

Small Gift

If allowed within your area, bringing over a special little gift the day of move in can surpass plenty of expectations. A bottle of wine, pizza, or a token that showcases the new area they live in can really solidify a positive review with you.

Stay in the Know

Post new updates to the area on your social media pages. Your clients will appreciate and really come to understand just how centered you are within the community. Any new business or housing development is another opportunity for you to present your knowledge of the neighborhood.

These are just some of the few ways you can really impress a client – showing them your expertise and care during the entirety of the homebuying process will establish your brand and your referrals.

Check out the rest of Alliance Title’s Blog to stay in the know for all things real estate.

Won’t You Be My Neighbor – Choosing Your Home Address

Location, location, location.

It’s easy to picture your dream home – does it have new granite countertops? Big, spacious windows? Open beams? Great!

But what about the neighborhood? Is it next to the freeway? Is it within walking distance of supermarkets? Does it offer any amenities like a local gym or a community center?

The home is half the battle – the neighborhood is the second half.

This past summer, Trulia released a survey that found 36% of homeowners would move to a different neighborhood if they could. So, let’s avoid neighborhood regret, shall we?

Prioritize

While your wish list should include the square footage you’re looking for in your home, the neighborhood feel should also be at the top of that list.

Do you want a quiet, family-friendly neighborhood or a livelier urban lifestyle? Explore the surrounding area of the home you’re looking at to understand the vibe.

Ask Around

If possible, getting the opportunity to talk with the locals in the area can really give you a sense of what the neighborhood evokes. You can ask how kids or pets fit into the neighborhood, or if there happens to be any unexpected street noise you wouldn’t be aware of.

Research

Safety and school quality are two of the top factors many homebuyers consider before purchasing a home. The neighborhood atmosphere is a great way to establish what you are willing to work with. Search for a crime risk map of the area – the locals will talk about safety and school ratings will be posted.

Don’t label it searching for your “dream home” – think about searching for your dream location. The dream home will quickly follow suit.

Housing Inventory Stepping up to Bat

Going, going, and…..still going.

Housing inventory has seen a rise for the third straight month, but it hasn’t been a huge cause for celebration – at least, not yet.

In November, there were 1.6 million homes on the market – a rise of .4% from a year earlier. A rise in inventory is always good, but it is still well below the 1.96 million homes for sale back in December of 2014.

And because the past four years has seen inventory declines – the real estate market will gladly take these gains – however slow they might be.

Tip of the Week: Real Estate Social Media Rock

If used correctly, social media will not only greatly impact your sales, but it will also change the way you communicate with potential clients and leads.

It should come as no surprise that millennials are adamant about connecting through various social media platforms. While this generation has been slow to enter the housing market, they’re going to be America’s largest generation – while spending, on average, over 5 hours a day on their smartphones.

Being relatable, accessible, and someone millennials can connect with are all factors to pay attention to. The easiest way to accomplish this – social media.

To be even more specific, videos on social media platforms like Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram are the features you should be focusing on.

Facebook

Zeroing in on Facebook’s Live feature is where you’re really going to want to strengthen your marketing skills. This is a great format to use while you’re walking through a house or a neighborhood – give them a quick layout of the scene! It helps provide a sense of what the area feels and looks like to the viewer.

Your followers are notified every time you go live, which gives you more opportunities for engagement and accessibility.

Instagram

Instagram will offer shorter videos than what Facebook will provide, but they are available to your followers 24 hours after being posted before disappearing.

If you don’t want your video to disappear, add it to your Instagram Story Highlights! Your followers will be able to watch every time they visit your profile. You can spice up your Story Highlights by categorizing your videos – “Home Tours,” Neighborhood Tours,” and “Quick Facts,” could all be great ideas for followers to click and utilize.

In these short videos it might be a good idea to specifically focus on key highlights of the home – i.e., a unique entrance way, a roaring fireplace, or an updated kitchen.

Snapchat

Instagram’s “vanishing” video feature is also the same format that Snapchat uses. Followers on this platform are expecting entertaining, fun, and short videos (the shorter, the better). However, you can piece together multiple videos to make a longer piece.

The 100 million+ users on Snapchat spend a total of 25-30 minutes a day scanning through snaps. This alone should make you want to jump on board the Snapchat marketing train!

By utilizing videos on social media platforms, you’re not only offering your followers the chance to visualize the home and neighborhood of your listing, but you’re also showcasing who you are as a real estate agent. The more personal you are, the more attractive you’ll be to potential homebuyers who’ll need your help.

‘Tis the Season for Millennial Down Payments

Millennials seem to be changing up the real estate industry – not only have they been later to enter the game than their predecessors, but they are also putting less money down for their down payments.

According to a recent study from Zillow, fewer than half of millennial homebuyers have put down 20% on their first homes. The survey also disclosed that it takes more than 7 years for homebuyers to save for a “normal” 20% down payment on an average home.

Among millennials in the survey, about half utilized a gift or loan from family or friends for a portion of their down payment – usually about one-fifth of the down payment. Savings made up a huge portion of being able to supply a down payment as well.

We’ll have to wait for the full arrival of Gen Zer’s to see whether or not this will be a generational or economic trend.

All’s Fair in Love and War: Real Estate Competition

If you aren’t a competitive person, then the home buying process may have been a tough one for you this past year. When an offer is put on a house, it’s not unusual for other potential homebuyers to put an offer on the same home.

However, it now looks like homebuyers might be less likely to have to put the boxing gloves on than in previous months. Redfin released a report that showed 32% of real estate professionals had to work around one or more competing bids in November – which is down 45% from last year. Talk about a big change.

The best example comes from the real estate market in Seattle; the spring season saw three out of four offers in the rainy city facing competition. However, this November showed only about one out of every five offers needing to battle.

Obviously, this drop in competition isn’t the same for all cities. Philadelphia seems to have been the only city that showed an increase in competition this past November than a year ago.

As the New Year approaches, the real estate world will be looking closely to what new patterns will emerge. But for now, relax in knowing that homebuyers might not have to step into the ring.

What’s This? What’s This – The December Real Estate Market

Don’t let the winter months fool you – just because it can seem dark and cold, doesn’t mean your home search needs to be!

In the real estate market, December usually means a slowdown of people looking for and buying homes – but some economists are saying this month might be busier than normal.

December can potentially be a great time for homebuyers to finally make their move; because there is less competition, prices are shown to be lower than other months. Not only that, but with an advantage of the current mortgage rate going below 5%, buyers might just see a great lead.

REALTOR® Magazine’s findings show that online views per property are 21% lower in December than any other time of the year. So, while there might not be as many selections to choose from, homebuyers still just might find their dream home without having to fight off other offers.