buyers

Today’s Smart Homes

Many people grew up with the idea that one day we would all be living in homes like the Jetsons’, the 1960s cartoon family living in the future, with a closet that showers and dresses you and a robot that makes your breakfast. While homes aren’t yet quite there, smart home technology has advanced leaps and bounds in recent years and has become more popular than ever.

Technology has changed the way we live in and interact with our homes. Smart homes can be programmed to react to their owner and tailored to fit with a person’s lifestyle – homeowners can even design the home to meet their specific needs.

Here are a few ways smart home technology can be utilized:

Security. New products allow homeowners to monitor their homes from a distance—even internationally. Owners can lock doors and windows from their portable computers, or access security camera recordings from a mobile device. It’s not just about keeping the property safe, it’s about keeping you and your family safe too. Fire, carbon monoxide and gas leak alarms that connect to your smartphone can give you peace of mind that everything is all right in your home even when you aren’t physically there.

Energy Savings. Smart thermostats allow homeowners to program their home’s temperature and adjust it even after they’ve left, avoiding any needless heating or cooling of an empty house. Automated lighting programs let people turn the lights on and off in their home from their smartphone or laptop from anywhere in the world. Smart green features have been in high demand for years now. These products not only help the environment but also bring your electricity and water bills down, saving you money.

Convenience. One of the main appeals of smart homes is that they can make the home owner’s life easier. A garage door opener connected to your smartphone and a sprinkler system that syncs with the weather forecast so the lawn is never watered when it’s raining are all features that simplify day-to-day life. Soon, instead of having to check the refrigerator to see if anything is running low, a homeowner will receive a text message from their smart kitchen reminding him or her to buy eggs.

Although the benefits that these technologies provide are numerous, it is important not lose sight of the risks smart homes can pose to the owner’s privacy. As smart technology becomes more established in homes, it becomes even more important that the necessary precautions are taken to protect data and privacy. That’s why the National Association of Realtors® worked with the Online Trust Alliance, a non-profit with the mission to enhance online trust, to create the Smart Home Checklist. The checklist offers guidance to home buyers and sellers about how to stay in control of the privacy and security of their smart home technology.

Young Buyers Prefer Walkable Communities, Says REALTOR Survey

Most potential homebuyers are not only looking for the perfect home, they are also looking for the perfect neighborhood. According to the National Association of Realtors® 2015 National Community and Transportation Preference Survey, when Americans think of their dream neighborhood they often think of a mixed-used, walkable community.

Realtors® are community builders and understand the complexities that go into creating a strong and successful community. “While there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all neighborhood, more and more Americans, especially younger ones, are being drawn to mixed-use communities with a combination of homes and business and walkable areas.

Walkability is defined as a measure of how friendly an area is to walking. Can someone go grocery shopping on foot? Are there shops and restaurants within walking distance? Are there plenty of sidewalks, and are they well maintained? These are all factors taken into account when determining an area’s walkability.

According to the survey, millennials, those aged 18 to 34, prefer walking as a method of transportation by 12 percentage points over driving. Millennials are also the generation most likely to make sacrifices to purchase a home in these types of communities, such as buying a smaller home or buying a house without a backyard.

Younger buyers are looking for communities where they can walk to a restaurant and don’t have to drive to pick up their weekly groceries. However, it is not only millennials who are hoping to move into walkable neighborhoods; these preferences are seen across generations.

Based on the survey, women of all generations are more likely than men to show a preference for walkability, with 61 percent saying that the availability of sidewalks in a community with stores and restaurants to walk to is very important to them. And 48 percent of all respondents answered that they would prefer to live in communities containing houses with small yards but within easy walking distance of the community’s amenities rather than living in communities with houses that have large yards but are driving distance to all amenities.

As their preferences shift from the suburbs to urban centers, homebuyers continue to rely on Realtors® to help them find their dream homes and neighborhoods. Realtors® are the most trusted resource for real estate information and have unparalleled knowledge of local markets and conditions, helping their clients to fulfill their real estate goals.

Tips for Buying a Home with Friends

With housing inventory low and prices going up, some people are making the decision to partner with friends and buy a home together. This scenario allows people who otherwise would not be able to afford a house to share expenses and achieve the dream of becoming homeowners. But how do you know if buying property jointly is the right move for you?

It is important to remember that this is a business transaction, so you and your friends will have to approach it as such. You are going to have to have a very open, very frank conversation with your friends about their finances, their plans for the future, what to do if someone wants to sell, etc.If these are conversations you are uncomfortable having or you are worried about the effect they might have on your friendship, then buying a home with friends is probably not the right choice for you.

However, if you and your friends can come to terms, owning a home while sharing the burden of all the costs can help you build your savings while gaining equity in a home.

Here are some tips on purchasing a home with friends:

Review your friends’ finances. This is most likely the largest financial decision of your life, so now is not the time to hem and haw on questions of finance. You will need to be aware of everyone’s credit scores, income, savings and any other relevant assets. It is important to make sure that you and your friends are financially prepared to become homeowners.

Decide how payments and costs will be split. Questions to consider are how much each person will contribute to the downpayment and if that will affect how you and your friends divide the mortgage payments? Will the utilities be split evenly every month or will you alternate who pays? It is important that these details be worked out and understood by everyone involved before the home is purchased.

Decide on the type of house. Are you planning on buying a single-family home or a multi-family home? Do you see yourself sharing a kitchen and bathroom, or are you looking to buy a place where you will each have your own private residence? You should also decide ahead of time on everyone’s must-haves for the home. Knowing that your friend will only buy a house with a big backyard or that they will not buy a house on a corner lot can save you a lot of time house hunting.

Get everything in writing. It is important that all of the co-purchasers keep written documentation of all of your agreements regarding financial and other responsibilities. So many people think that because they are dealing with friends that there is no need to write up a contract, but it can help you to avoid conflicts and surprises down the road.

Work with a Realtor®. Buying a home is an important decision, and whether you are doing it on your own or with a friend, using a Realtor® is a smart move. A Realtor®, a member of the National Association of Realtors®, can provide counsel, discuss listings, show you homes in person, negotiate on your behalf and help you stay focused on the issues that are most important.

If you enter the arrangement educated and prepared, co-purchasing a home can be a great way to get your foot on the first step of the homeownership ladder.

The Help Buyers Need to Navigate Increasingly Tight Market

nov2

Spring is traditionally a favorable time of year for home buyers; however, with a limited number of homes available for purchase, sales nationwide are slowing. According to the National Association of Realtors® housing inventories are near decade lows, and are continuing to pressure home prices.

Recent data shows there is more demand than supply in the current market, which means conditions broadly favor sellers. Meanwhile, buyers are out there looking to purchase homes. Buyer traffic is 25 percent above a year ago and sellers are reportedly receiving multiple bids. The good news for buyers is home construction is rising and low mortgage rates are keeping housing affordable. However, underwriting standards remain excessively tight.

NAR data shows that total housing inventory at the end of March is 1.93 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 4.7-month supply at the current sales pace. NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun stressed the need for a housing supply of over 6 months to have a generally balanced market between buyers and sellers. The current supply of homes for sale is 17 percent below year-ago levels, according to NAR data, and homes are also selling much faster. The typical home sold in March was on the market for one month less than it took to sell a year ago. The median time on market for all homes was 62 days in March down from 74 days in February.

Despite these conditions, homeownership remains desirable to many renters.  The benefits of homeownership are still very evident and opportunities for buyers exist. Just because the current market tends to favor sellers doesn’t mean buyers can’t still find their dream home.

There are several tips for buyers in today’s market. First, before you start looking at potential homes, know your budget. Lenders will evaluate your income, savings and credit history to qualify and approve you for a mortgage.  Antoher tip is identifying neighborhoods of interest. Also, think about what you need and want in a home, whether it’s a certain number of bedrooms, a small yard, or a garage. Once you have a good idea about what you’re looking for, it’s easier to know it when you see it.

When homes are selling quickly it’s important for buyers to visit the home as close to when it goes on the market as possible. Open houses are also a great way to see a lot of houses in a short amount of time. Buyers can get a good sense of what’s available in the area and what their budget can afford.

Most importantly, start working with a Realtor®. Whether you are buying or selling a home, using a Realtor® is a smart move. Realtors® understand their local markets and can negotiate on your behalf. Buying and selling a home is one of life’s biggest decisions and a Realtor® can guide you through the process.

Whether you’re ready to buy or looking to sell, consumers can find tips and advice for making the most of their open house experience at http://inr.synapticdigital.com/nar/openhouses/.