From Sad Renters to Happy Homeowners: The Latest Stats in the Real Estate Market

When you own, you’re happy.

At least, that’s what the latest news released from Bank of America points to.

The company released a new report that shows 93% of people who bought a home are happier than they were when they were renting.

88% of responders also said that they believe buying a home was the best decision they ever made, while 79% said owning a home has changed them for the better.

What are the top reasons new homeowners are so incredibly joyous?

Most agreed that the “emotional equity” trumps the financial benefits towards the “American Dream” of homeownership. More than half of current homeowners bought a home for a place to make memories, while 42% viewed it as a financial investment.

Not only does owning a home affect being able to grow a family, make memories, and help with your investments, but it also does wonders for your overall view of life.

78% are satisfied with the quality of their social life (hello dinner parties, birthday parties and barbeques), while three out of four homeowners have pursued new hobbies after buying a home.

Looks like a home is more than a financial investment after all!

Don’t forget to stop by Alliance’s Blog to stay current on all things real estate.

Is Your City on the List? Top 10 Destinations for Movers in the U.S.

When daydreaming about where you’d like to live – where do you picture yourself? Is it in the same neighborhood you’re currently living? Is it in the next city over, or are you in a totally new state?

A new survey from realtor.com shows that while the typical homebuyer stays within a 15-mile radius of their current home, others are still searching for a location that offers better housing affordability and employment rates.

They researched the areas that had the most out-of-town searches on their site. Senior Economist for realtor.com, George Ratiu, explains, “Home prices have risen for seven consecutive years, far outpacing salary growth. Although interest rates are the lowest they have been in three years, cost has become a deal breaker for many buyers, especially in pricey West Coast metros.”

The top 10 cities have an average unemployment rate of 3.3%. Eight out of the 10 locations also have lower overall tax burdens than the national average.

Here are the top 10 cities for movers:

  1. Charleston, South Carolina
  2. Boise, Idaho
  3. Urban Honolulu, Hawaii
  4. Columbia, South Carolina
  5. Cape Coral-Fort Meyers, Florida
  6. Portland, Maine
  7. North-Port Sarasota, Florida
  8. Greenville, South Carolina
  9. Tucson, Arizona
  10. Las Vegas, Nevada

Be sure to check out the rest of Alliance’s Blog to stay current with all things real estate.

Millennials, Who? Gen Z Enters the Housing Market

Millennials, while still a very prominent group in home buying, are starting to see competition from Gen Z.

Gen Z – in this survey, those born after 1995 – are taking out more credit and are more actively pursuing homeownership than previous generations.

More than half of Gen Zers aged between 18 to 23 claim to already be saving for a home, with 59% planning to buy a home within the next five years. For those of you doing the math, that’s a goal of homeownership before reaching the age of 30.

One major difference between Gen Z and Millennials – their reasons for wanting to purchase a home. 59% of Gen Zers want a home to start a family, but only 41% of Millennials felt the same. The biggest reason Millennials purchase homes was to help build wealth over time.

Image courtesy of Bank of America

Gen Zers also feel more willing to ask family members for assistance in their journey to purchase a home. 21% of those in Generation Z plan to ask for their parents help, while only 14% of Millennials planned to do so.

While it’s still early for this generational group to jump into the housing market, it looks like they’ll make a big splash once they eventually start buying.

Remember to check out the rest of Alliance’s Blog to stay up-to-date with all things real estate.

Voice Assistants and Open Houses – Would You Use?

Hello, Alexa – it’s me, a prospective buyer.

It looks like brokerages are testing out the Amazon Alexa and Google Assistants of the world in the real estate market.

A Real Estate brokerage in Atlanta, Engel & Völkers, started implementing Amazon Alexa throughout a model condo unit for clients to use when touring the space. The idea is that they can ask Alexa questions to learn more about the home and neighborhood features.

The brokerage printed out and framed questions around the home with prompts of what to ask Alexa during your tour. For example, visitors can ask: “Alexa, tell me about the kitchen.”

Christa Huffstickler, Founder and CEO of Engel & Völkers Atlanta, explains, “What we are employing is reflective of a greater trend towards a larger tech presence in the home. We aim to modify our sales approach to apply to the generations and audiences we are trying to appeal to, and the Alexa-enabled model home is representative of their new tech-focused approach to life.”

If you’re a real estate agent, would you use Alexa or Google Assistant to help with your open house? Seems like these folks are!

Remember to check out the rest of Alliance’s Blog to stay current in all things real estate.

What Are the Components of a Home Mortgage Payment?

When you become a homeowner, it’s likely you’ll have to pay for a monthly mortgage – but do you know exactly what you’re paying for?

It’s important that you understand your outstanding balance as well as interest rate that you currently owe. A mortgage payment has four parts: principal, interest, taxes, and insurance. Here’s a quick rundown of each!

Principal

Essentially, the principal is the repayment of your loan amount. This is the portion of the payment that is used to reduce the balance you owe – your principal repayment will be the same throughout the life of your loan if you chose a fixed interest rate option. Usually, lenders will want to earn their interest back first before reducing principal – so payments will mostly go towards the interest of the loan in the beginning.

Interest

Interest is the profit that goes to the lender. This rate is expressed as a percentage of your total loan balance, and these rates are constantly changing. It’s best to choose a mortgage with a fixed interest rate, if you want a number locked in. A 5% mortgage rate means you will pay 5% of your total loan balance in interest each year. If you took a fixed rate, this percentage will never change during the life of your loan.

Taxes

While this is the area that might be the most overlooked on a loan, it’s one of the more important figures in your payment plan. Most lenders will require you to include an escrow account that will take care of your property taxes – if you have an escrow, your lender usually saves up those monthly payments into this separate account. At the end of the year, the escrow company will take the money from your account and pay your property taxes.

Insurance

Insurance usually falls within escrow as well. Lenders do this to ensure that you are always covered in the event of an emergency.

Don’t forget to shop around for your mortgage! We wrote about shopping for a mortgage here – check it out!

Real Estate Tip of the Week: What is a Tax Lien on a Home?

Legal jargon is intimidating – and for the average homeowner, some of the vocab goes in one ear and out the other.

With knowledge comes confidence (and power), so why not brush up on some of the legal homeowner jargon that might affect you?

In this case, we’ll be talking about tax liens.

The name itself sounds confusing – what is a tax lien? Here, we’ll break it down for you.

Essentially, if for whatever reason you can no longer (or haven’t been) paying your property taxes, the local government can place a tax lien on your home. This is a legal claim that ensures you won’t be able to refinance or sell your home without first paying off the lien.

If you’re a potential homebuyer, the title and escrow company working with you to close would find the lien on the property you’re trying to purchase.

How to Avoid a Property Tax Lien

A good idea might be placing your property taxes in escrow. This isn’t required in most cases, but it can still be an option to save yourself from stress in the future. By doing so, you’ll be paying your property tax bill every month, and your lender handles the actual payment.

You can also apply for a homestead exemption – if you qualify, it can help cut down on your annual property tax bill.

The National Tax Lien Association (NTLA) also lists government and nonprofit resources to help homeowners through tax-related issues.

To stay up-to-date with all things real estate, check out the rest of Alliance Title’s Blog!

Guilt over Vacation Homes – Do You Feel the Same?

Ever make a purchase and immediately regret it?

Well, it turns out that 1 in 2 vacation homeowners – about 49% – feel guilty about not using their vacation home enough.

According to a new report from LendingTree, vacation homeowners are riding the guilt trip after not using their second home as much as they planned they would. 26% of survey respondents personally use their home more than five times each year, while 37% only use their vacation home once a year or less.

Why did homeowners buy a second home, if they weren’t planning on using it?

Well, 56% of these vacation homeowners planned to rent it out when they weren’t personally using it, but nearly 6 in 10 have never rented out the property. Just under a third of those rent their property year-round.

Those who felt guilty enough to sell their property, did so because they didn’t use it often (31%), needed income from selling (29%), believed it was too expensive (14%), wanted to buy another home elsewhere (8%), or no longer enjoyed visiting the area where their home was located (6%).

How many times do you think these vacation homeowners would need to attend their home before feeling satisfied with their purchase?

Check out Alliance’s Blog to stay up-to-date with current housing trends and guides.

Hate Grocery Shopping? Your Home’s Value Sure Doesn’t.

Location, location, location.

When it comes to what establishments are in proximity to your neighborhood, it looks like grocery store chains top the list for being the best at helping your home appreciate.

According to a new study from ATTOM Data Solutions, grocery chains like Trader Joes, Whole Foods, and ALDI were found to make home prices rise!

If a Trader Joe’s is nearby, expect an average ROI of 51%. Home flipping near these chains is just as lucrative – near a Trader Joe’s, an average gross flipping profit comes to 31% and offers a 5-year home price appreciation of 33%.

Based on the survey of 1,859 ZIP codes across the nation, the average appreciation with these grocery stores is 38%.

Image courtesy of ATTOM Data Solutions

Move Aside Bustling Cities – These New Markets Are Where Homeowners Want to Live

It’s been known that cities like New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles are the areas that prospective homeowners love to flock to. However, most homebuyers are jumping ship and moving inland.

A realtor.com survey found the top five ZIP codes in up-and-coming neighborhoods – and they’re mostly in suburban areas.

These areas sell on an average of 17 days, and the residences in the area are viewed online three times more often than the homes in the rest of the country. The number of households in the list are expected to grow 4.3% this year, which is faster than the national rate of 1.1%.

These neighborhoods offer lower priced homes and booming job markets close to city centers. For millennials, this is gold – proximity to downtown and access to affordable homes are just some of the main features that this consumer base is wanting.

Here are the top five hottest ZIP codes:

  1. 49505 – Grand Rapids, Michigan
  2. 68144 – Omaha, Nebraska
  3. 83704 – Boise, Idaho
  4. 66203 – Shawnee, Kansas
  5. 14609 – Rochester, New York

Real Estate Tip of the Week: There’s an App for That

The real estate industry is constantly transforming and changing in lieu of technological advancements – which means as an agent, you need to stay informed on all of the new updates.

Luckily, there are apps that can help separate you from the pack.

Here are some of the best apps you can use as a real estate agent:

Realtor.com®’s Street Peek & Sign Snap Feature

Street Peek allows users to point their phone at homes to have instantaneous property details surface about the home’s you’re currently facing. This allows users to see the information they need to know about homes on any street.

The Sign Snap feature allows users to snap a photo of a For-Sale sign to immediately receive more listing details of a home.

LionDesk

If you have a buyer that is looking to purchase remotely, then LionDesk might be the app to use to showcase potential homes.

This app lets you seamlessly add videos to your emails and text messages – you can upload your own videos or record directly from the app.

LionDesk also offers power dialing and contact management, among other features!

Sideline

If you don’t have the option (or simply don’t want to) to have a separate business phone, the Sideline app might be a good fit for you. This app allows you to connect one phone with multiple phone numbers that can even offer a different ringtone depending on the type of phone call you’ve categorized it as.

Spacio

Don’t you just hate having to deal with all of the paperwork when it comes to open houses? With Spacio, you can create digital forms to accurately collect visitor information and even set up follow-up emails after the open house ends.

 DocuSign

With DocuSign, you won’t have to worry about all being in the same room at the same time – because let’s face it: we’re all busy. This app allows users to sign electronic signatures on disclosures, forms, and closing paperwork without even having to be in the office.

Research which apps might benefit you as a real estate agent!