When you’re ready to list, connect with Bill White Homes to get the best deal on your Naperville home!

Here at Bill White Homes, we know your home isn’t just a building. It’s the place where you raise your kids, entertain your friends, and enjoy time with family. It’s also one of your biggest investments. And though extreme weather can cause serious damage, fortunately, there are steps you can take to protect and maintain your home from weather-related issues.

Storms can wreak havoc on your roof

According to Climate.gov, weather causes billions of dollars worth of damage to property in the U.S. each year. When it comes to your home, wind, rain, hail, and snow can all damage your roof. Check your roof for missing or damaged shingles, tiles, or flashing. Have the issues fixed right away to avoid problems becoming worse during inclement weather.

Strong winds can loosen roof tiles and shingles, making your house more susceptible to leaks when it’s raining, so inspect it regularly for issues. Also, keep trees ttrimmed away from the roof to avoid branches or the trees themselves from falling on your home during a storm.

Wind and trees aren’t the only troublemakers when it comes to your home’s roof. During the winter, snow can lead to a number of issues if you do not clear it from your roof. Sometimes the weight of the snow can damage your home, but most of the time it’s ice dams that are a real problem. An ice dam is a ridge of ice that forms near the edge of your roof. The dam prevents snowmelt from draining off the roof, causing water to back up and leak into your home. This water can damage your ceiling, walls, insulation, and even your foundation.

Ice dams are formed when the center of the roof is warm (melting the snow) and the edges of the roof are still below freezing. This situation is generally caused by heat escaping from inside the home. You can certainly remove snow and ice dams from your roof with a roof rake. However, the long-term solution is to stop warm air from flowing out of the top of your house. Make your cceiling airtight and add more insulation into both your ceiling and attic to reduce heat loss.

Hail can also cause fractures in your roofing material, and over time, this can weaken the roof’s whole structure. After any major storm, you should have your roof inspected and any gaps or leaks fixed immediately.

Water can cause costly issues

Rainwater and snowmelt can leak into your home through the gaps and cracks in the roof and walls, and of course, torrential rains can cause flooding, too. Water leaks and seepage can cause damage to floors, ceilings, walls, furniture, and belongings. Freshome points out water damage can be costly and time-consuming to clean up and fix, and also lead to fast-growing mmold and mildew concerns.

In order to reduce the risk of rain damage, inspect your home for any places that water can leak in and take steps to protect your home, such as grading the soil away from the foundation. Waterproofing your basement can also help mitigate water damage.

Paying for repairs

As a homeowner, you’re well aware of the various repairs that crop up from time to time. Ideally, you’ve prepared a home emergency fund to help pay for significant repairs like weather damage to your roof. If you haven’t set aside money for emergency repairs, it’s time to make this a priority. Target an annual cash reserve of 1 percent to 3 percent of your home’s value, though more is always better.

When severe weather causes significant damage to your home, your homeowners insurance will more than likely help cover the costs of repairs. However, if damage is a result of a poorly kept roof or gutters, you may be on the hook. Again, it’s best to have an emergency fund set aside, but sometimes repair costs can exceed your savings. If you’ve been putting off a roof repair due to cost, you can make this a priority through a few financing options. Two of the most common are a home equity line of credit or a home refinance. A home equity line of credit allows you to tap into your home’s equity in the form of a loan, while a refinance allows you to cash out some of your equity and possibly secure a lower interest rate on a new mortgage. For more information on refinancing, review a refi FAQ list like this one from PennyMac USA.

Weather can really be tough on a roof. If you plan to list your house with Bill White Homes soon, or plan to live in your house long-term, you’ll want to protect your investment. Take the aforementioned measures to avoid the hassle, time, and cost of weather-related damage to your home.

Photo via Ppixabay

The housing market keeps sailing along. The only headwind that could take it off course is the lack of inventory for sale. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reports that there were 410,000 fewer single-family homes for sale this March than in March of 2020. The key to continued success in the residential housing market is for more listings to come on the market. However, many homeowners are concerned that selling their homes could be challenging for several reasons.

Recently, Homes.com released the findings of a survey that identified these concerns, as well as what it will take for homeowners to feel comfortable selling their houses. Here are the four major homeowner concerns and a quick explanation of what’s actually happening in the housing market today.

1. Homeowners don’t know if they’ll be able to secure their next home before selling.
In negotiations, leverage is the power that one side may have to influence the other side while moving closer to their negotiating position. A party’s leverage is based on the ability to award benefits or eliminate costs on the other side.

In today’s market, buyers have compelling reasons to purchase a home now:

To own a home of their own
To buy before prices continue to appreciate
To secure a mortgage at a historically low rate, while they last
These buyer needs give the seller tremendous leverage. Most already realize this leverage enables the homeowner to sell at a good price. However, this leverage may also be used to negotiate time to find their next home. The homeowner could sell their home to the buyer at today’s price, which will enable the purchaser to take advantage of current mortgage rates. In return, the buyer might lease the house back to the seller for a pre-determined length of time while the seller finds a new home or has one built.

This gives the buyer what they want while also giving the seller what they need. It’s a true win-win negotiation.

2. Homeowners don’t know if their current home will sell for the asking price or top market price.
This is the perfect time to maximize profits while selling a house. NAR just released a study showing that bidding wars are at an all-time high. The study reveals that when comparing the first quarter of last year to the first quarter of this year, the number of offers on homes for sale doubled from an average of 2.4 to 4.8 offers.

Whenever there’s a bidding war, the price of the item for sale escalates. Bloomberg recently reported:

“For the first time ever, the average U.S. home is selling for above its list price.”

If a seller is looking for a top-dollar sale, there’s no better time to sell than right now.

3. Homeowners don’t know if they will get an offer without their home requiring work or updates.
Again, leverage is the greatest strength a seller has in this market. Due to the lack of homes for sale, many buyers are more willing to take on home improvement projects themselves in order to get the home they’re after.

A recent post on whether or not to renovate before selling notes:

“It may be wise to let future homeowners remodel the bathroom or the kitchen to make design decisions that are best for their specific taste and lifestyle. As a seller, your dollars and time might be better spent working on small cosmetic updates, like refreshing some paint and power washing the exterior. Instead of over-investing in your home with upgrades that the buyers may change anyway, work with a real estate professional to determine the key projects that will maximize your listing, without overdoing it.”

If a seller is worried about doing work or updates on their home, they must realize that today’s historically low inventory likely renders these projects less critical to the sale of the house.

4. Homeowners don’t know if they can have a quick closing process.
When speed is important, there are two points sellers should look at:

The time it takes to find a buyer for the home
The time it takes to close the transaction
In the latest Existing Home Sales Report, NAR explains:

“Properties typically remained on the market for 18 days in March, down from 20 days in February and from 29 days in March 2020. Eighty-three percent of the homes sold in March 2021 were on the market for less than a month.”

Eighteen days is fast, and it’s a new record. Here are the days the average house is on the market in each state:
4 Big Incentives for Homeowners to Sell Now | Keeping Current Matters
Regarding the time it will take to close the transaction, all-cash sales accounted for 23% of all home purchase transactions in March. All-cash sales can usually be closed in thirty days.

If a mortgage is necessary, the most recent Origination Insight Report from Ellie Mae shows:

“Time to close all loans decreased in March. The average time to close a purchase fell to 51 days, down from 53 the month prior.”

If you’re looking for a quick closing process, there’s never been a market in which the two-step process (finding a buyer and closing the deal) has taken less time.

Bottom Line
Selling your house can be daunting, especially in a fast-paced market. However, the fact that we’re in such a strong sellers’ market clearly eliminates many common concerns. Contact a real estate professional today to learn more about the opportunities for homeowners who are ready to sell.

With mortgage interest rates hitting record lows so many times recently, some are wondering if we’ll see low rates continue throughout 2021, or if they’ll start to rise. Recently, Freddie Mac released their quarterly forecast, noting:

“The average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage hit a record low over a dozen times in 2020 and the low interest rate environment is projected to continue through this year. We expect interest rates to average below 3% through the end of 2021. While this is a modest rise from 2020 averages, the recent vote by the Federal Reserve to keep interest rates anchored near zero should keep rates low.”

Freddie Mac is projecting low rates going forward with a modest rise that’s expected to continue through 2022. Freddie Mac isn’t the only authority forecasting low rates with a slight rise. Fannie Mae, The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), and the National Association of Realtors (NAR) also anticipate low rates with a small increase as 2021 continues on.

It’s important to note that, while a small change in interest rates can have a substantial impact on monthly mortgage payments, these rates are still incredibly low compared to where they were just a couple of years ago.

What does this mean for buyers?
Low mortgage rates are creating an outstanding opportunity for current homebuyers to get more for their money while staying within their budget. As the economy gets stronger and we recover from the challenges of 2020, it’s natural for rates to potentially rise in response to a healthier economy. Mark Fleming, Chief Economist at First American, reminds us:

“Rising interest rates reduce house-buying power and affordability, but are often a sign of a strong economy, which increases home buyer demand. By any historic standard, today’s mortgage rates remain historically low and will continue to boost house-buying power and keep purchase demand robust.”

With low rates fueling activity among hopeful buyers, there are a lot of people who are highly motivated and looking for homes to purchase right now. In this environment, it can be challenging to find a home to buy, so a local real estate agent will be key to your success if you’re thinking of buying too. Working with a trusted real estate professional to navigate the process while rates are in your favor might be the best move you can make.

Bottom Line
If you’re ready to buy a home, it may be wise to make your move before mortgage rates begin to rise. Contact a local real estate professional to discuss how today’s low rates can create more opportunities for you this year.

The housing market recovery coming into the new year has been nothing short of remarkable. Many experts agree the turnaround from the nation’s economic pause is playing out extremely well for real estate, and the current market conditions are truly making this winter an ideal time to make a move. Here’s a dive into some of the biggest wins for homebuyers this season.

1. Mortgage Rates Are Historically Low
In 2020, mortgage rates hit all-time lows 16 times. Continued low rates have set buyers up for significant long-term gains. In fact, realtor.com notes:

“Given this means homes could cost potentially tens of thousands less over the lifetime of the loan.”

Essentially, it’s less expensive to borrow money for a home loan today than it has been in years past. Although mortgage rates are expected to remain relatively low in 2021, even the slightest increase can make a big difference in your payments over the lifetime of a home loan. So, this is a huge opportunity to capitalize on right now before mortgage rates start to rise.

2. Equity Is Growing
According to John Burns Consulting, 58.7% of homes in the U.S. have at least 60% equity, and 42.1% of all homes in this country are mortgage-free, meaning they’re owned free and clear.

In addition, CoreLogic notes the average equity homeowners gained since last year is $17,000. That’s a tremendous amount of forced savings for homeowners, and an opportunity to use this increasing equity to make a move into a home that fits your changing needs this season.

3. Home Prices Are Appreciating
According to leading experts, home prices are forecasted to continue appreciating. Today, many experts are projecting more moderate home price growth than last year, but still moving in an upward direction through 2021.

Knowing home values are increasing while mortgage rates are so low should help you feel confident that buying a home before prices rise even higher is a strong long-term investment.

4. There Are Not Enough Homes for Sale
With today’s low inventory of homes on the market, which is contributing to this home price appreciation, sellers are in the driver’s seat. The competition is high among buyers, so homes are selling quickly.

Making a move while so many buyers are looking for homes to purchase may mean your house rises to the top of the buyer pool. Selling your house before more listings come to the market in the traditionally busy spring market might be your best chance to shine.

Bottom Line
If you’re considering making a move, this may be your moment, especially with today’s low mortgage rates and limited inventory. Reach out to us today to get set up for homebuying success in the new year.

Every day in the U.S., roughly 10,000 people turn 65. Prior to the health crisis that swept the nation in 2020, most people had to wait until they retired to make a move to the beach, the golf course, or the senior living community they were looking to settle into for their later years in life. This year, however, the game changed.

Many of today’s workers who are nearing the end of their professional careers, but maybe aren’t quite ready to retire, have a new choice to make: should I move before I retire? If the sand and sun are calling your name and you have the opportunity to work remotely for the foreseeable future, now may be a great time to purchase that beach bungalow you’ve always dreamed of or the single-story home in the sprawling countryside that might be a little further out of town. Whether it’s a second home or a future retirement home, spending the next few years in a place that truly makes you smile every day might be the best way to round out a long and meaningful career.

Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at the National Association of Realtors (NAR), explains:

“The pandemic was unexpected, working from home was unexpected, but nonetheless many companies realized that workers can be just as productive working from home…We may begin to see a boost in people buying retirement homes before their retirement.”

According to the 20th Annual Transamerica Retirement Survey, 3 out of 4 retirees (75%) own their homes, and only 23% have mortgage debt (including any equity loans or lines of credit). Since entering retirement, almost 4 in 10 retirees (38%) have moved into a new home. They’re making a profit by selling their current homes in today’s low inventory market and using their equity to purchase their future retirement homes. It’s a win-win.

Why These Homeowners Are Making Moves Now
The health crisis this year made us all more aware of the importance of our family and friends, and many of us have not seen our extended families since the pandemic started. It’s no surprise, therefore, to see in the same report that 32% of those surveyed cited the top reason they’re making a move is that they want to be closer to family and friends (See graph below):
Should You Buy a Retirement Home Sooner Rather than Later? | Keeping Current Matters
The survey also revealed that 73% percent of retirees currently live in single-family homes. With the overall number of homes for sale today hitting a historic low, and with the buyer demand for single-family homes skyrocketing, there’s never been a more ideal time to sell a single-family home and make a move toward retirement. Today’s market has the perfect combination of driving forces to make selling optimal, especially while buyers are looking to take advantage of low interest rates.

If you’re one of the 73% of retirees with a single-family home and want to move closer to your family, now is the time to put your house on the market. With the pace homes are selling today, you could essentially wrap up your move – start to finish – before the holidays.

Bottom Line
Whether you’re looking to fully retire or to buy a second home with the intent to use it as your retirement home in the future, the 2020 fall housing market may very well work in your favor. Reach out to a local real estate professional today to learn more about the options in your local market.

The year 2020 will be remembered as one of the most challenging times of our lives. A worldwide pandemic, a recession causing historic unemployment, and a level of social unrest perhaps never seen before have all changed the way we live. Only the real estate market seems to be unaffected, as a new forecast projects there may be more homes purchased this year than last year.

As we come to the end of this tumultuous year, we’re preparing for perhaps the most contentious presidential election of the century. Today, it’s important to look at the impact past presidential election years have had on the real estate market.

Is there a drop-off in home sales during a presidential election year?
BTIG, a research and analysis company, looked at new home sales from 1963 through 2019 in their report titled One House, Two House, Red House, Blue House. They noted that in non-presidential years, there is a -9.8% decrease in November compared to October. This is the normal seasonality of the market, with a slowdown in activity that’s usually seen in fall and winter.

However, it also revealed that in presidential election years, the typical drop increases to -15%. The report explains why:

“This may indicate that potential homebuyers may become more cautious in the face of national election uncertainty.”

Are those sales lost forever?
No. BTIG determined:

“This caution is temporary, and ultimately results in deferred sales, as the economy, jobs, interest rates and consumer confidence all have far more meaningful roles in the home purchase decision than a Presidential election result in the months that follow.”

In a separate study done by Meyers Research & Zonda, Ali Wolf, Chief Economist, agrees that those purchases are just delayed until after the election:

“History suggests that the slowdown is largely concentrated in the month of November. In fact, the year after a presidential election is the best of the four-year cycle. This suggests that demand for new housing is not lost because of election uncertainty, rather it gets pushed out to the following year.”

Will it matter who is elected?
To some degree, but not in the overall number of home sales. As mentioned above, consumer confidence plays a significant role in a family’s desire to buy a home. How may consumer confidence impact the housing market post-election? The BTIG report covered that as well:

“A change in administration might benefit trailing blue county housing dynamics. The re-election of President Trump could continue to propel red county outperformance.”

Again, overall sales should not be impacted in a significant way.

Bottom Line
If mortgage rates remain near all-time lows, the economy continues to recover, and unemployment continues to decrease, the real estate market should remain strong up to and past the election.

The uncertainty the world faces today due to the COVID-19 pandemic is causing so many things to change. The way we interact, the way we do business, even the way we buy and sell real estate is changing. This is a moment in time that’s even sparking some buyers to search for a better deal on a home. Sellers, however, aren’t offering a discount these days; they’re holding steady on price.

According to the most recent NAR Flash Survey (a survey of real estate agents from across the country), agents were asked the following two questions:

1. “Have any of your sellers recently reduced their price to attract buyers?”

Their answer: 72% said their sellers have not lowered prices to attract buyers during this health crisis.

2. “Are home buyers expecting lower prices now?”

Their answer: 63% of agents said their buyers were looking for a price reduction of at least 5%.

What We Do Know
In today’s market, with everything changing and ongoing questions around when the economy will bounce back, it’s interesting to note that some buyers see this time as an opportunity to win big in the housing market. On the other hand, sellers are much more confident that they will not need to reduce their prices in order to sell their homes. Clearly, there are two different perspectives at play.

Bottom Line
If you’re a buyer in today’s market, you might not see many sellers lowering their prices. If you’re a seller and don’t want to lower your price, you’re not alone. If you have questions on how to price your home, reach out to a local real estate professional today to discuss your needs and next steps.

The following blog post is not by us. Tom Ferry is one of the top Real Estate educators in the country. We felt his words might resonate in your lives too!

No. 1: Are You a Lion or a Lamb?

Think of a lion or a lioness for a second. What do they do when something happens? Do they freak out? No. They remain calm. They survey the situation. They protect their own. They exhibit strength and act like a LEADER!

Now contrast that with a lamb… Lambs follow the herd. They flee at the mere sound of a twig breaking. They panic and run in fear.

In this crisis, are you going to be a lion/lioness or a lamb?

You need to decide.

I strongly believe the actions we take over the next 60-90 days will define our brands.

So stand tall. Be strong. Be the voice of reason. Be a pillar of your community.

When making your decision, keep this in mind from Greg Markov of the Real Estate Negotiation Institute, who just yesterday conducted a special “Negotiations During Times of Crisis” presentation for our coaching members:

“Fear leads to anxiety, and anxiety is a deal killer.”

 

No. 2: Now More Than Ever, Be Adaptable

Rigidness or reluctance to change will get you NOWHERE right now.

Hear me?

Do not try to fight this. You need to adapt, and you need to adapt quickly.

People on my team are working from home with their laptops on TV trays and dining room tables because our county has ordered no gatherings of any kind. My team accepted it and adapted on a moment’s notice without questioning it or fighting it. This is our new reality until we beat this virus.

So when it comes to your business…

…Get creative!

…Use video more than ever!

…Use Zoom or Google Hangouts to connect with your clients and your community at large.

I’ve already heard stories of people who are turning on their cameras and organizing remote yoga sessions.

Why couldn’t you do the same thing, but educating people about specific aspects of buying or selling real estate?

Be that voice of reason your community needs with a message to consumers of “We’re gonna get through this, and when we do, I want you better prepared to make wise real estate investments.”

 

No. 3: Be Smart

This one’s simple, but it needs to be said anyway.

Be smart.

Follow the health guidelines.

Obey your local orders and ordinances.

Wash your hands.

Practice social distancing.

Don’t point fingers.

Keep in mind what’s best for the common good… and we’ll all be better for it.

 

Change is swift and painful, but now is the time to adapt and build a strong community with your tribe.

As the lionesses and lions that you all are, how will you react to this growth test?

 

If you’re following what’s happening in the current housing market, you’ve seen how the lack of newly constructed homes is a major reason there’s a shortage of housing inventory available to today’s buyers. Another reason is that the inventory of existing homes for sale is shrinking. According to the most recent Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), sales are up 10.8% from the same time last year. That exceeds expectations and is great news.

The troubling news from the report is that the sold inventory is not being replaced. As NAR explained,

“Total housing inventory at the end of December totaled 1.40 million units, down 14.6% from November and 8.5% from one year ago. Unsold inventory sits at a 3.0-month supply at the current sales pace, down from the 3.7-month figure recorded in both November and December 2018. Unsold inventory totals have dropped for seven consecutive months from year-ago levels, taking a toll on home sales.”

The situation was also addressed in a recent Zillow article stating,

“The number of for-sale homes in the U.S. is at its lowest point in at least seven years, and the shortage appears poised to get worse before it gets better.”

Bill McBride of Calculated Risk further noted,

“Inventory always decreases sharply in December as people take their homes off the market for the holidays. However, based on the data I’ve collected, this was the lowest level for inventory in at least three decades (the previous low was 1.43 million in December 1993).”

Why is inventory falling so dramatically? I thought the housing market had softened.

A year ago, that was the case – but the market shifted again. Skylar Olsen, Director of Economic Research at Zillow, explains,

“A year ago, a combination of a government shutdown, stock market slump and mortgage rate spike caused a long-anticipated inventory rise. That supposed boom turned out to be a short-lived mirage as buyers came back into the market and more than erased the inventory gains. As a natural reaction, the recent slowdown in home values looks like it’s set to reverse back to accelerating growth right as we head into home shopping season with demand outpacing supply.”

What does this mean if you’re a homeowner thinking of selling?

Now is a great time to consider putting your home on the market. The competition (number of houses on the market) has not been this low in decades. It’s best not to wait for the inventory (both existing homes and new construction) to increase in the spring, as it always does.

Bottom Line

The supply of homes for sale is at a historic low. Buyer demand is surprisingly strong. Now would be a great time to sell.

If you’ve traveled in the last few years, you may have stayed in a vacation home at some point. You may also have wondered whether you could turn your own home into profits by renting it out to travelers. If this is the case, and you are looking to flip your home into a profitable vacation rental property, there are some simple steps you should take to maximize your ROI.   

Clear Out Any Clutter

When folks travel for work or vacation, they want to feel relaxed and calm in their vacation rental home. So before you rent your home out for the first time, make a concerted effort to get rid of clutter that can cause guests extra stress. Wondering where to put all of that excess furniture and decor? You may need to consider renting a storage unit. Self-storage in Naperville can be rather affordable, especially when you use online search tools to find the best prices in town. Self-storage units have averaged $71.73 for customers renting in the last 180 days, but your rental rate may be higher or lower depending on how much room you need and where you rent.

Invest in Home Security

Hopefully, your rental listing will be popular and your home will be booked throughout the year. Even so, it’s highly likely that your property will be vacant from time to time and you may not be nearby to keep an eye on it. That’s why homeowners who are thinking about listing their homes as vacation rentals should consider adding home security. With so many options available, from monitored systems to security cameras, talking with a local security expert about what’s best for your vacation rental can ensure that you make the right investment. As you think about home security, you should also think about updating your locks to allow convenient access and to prevent the key to your home from being copied by renters.

Choose Furnishings Wisely

Installing smart locks and a security system can help protect your property, but you also need to think about preserving the contents of your home if you want to fully protect your investment. To ensure that rental guests don’t damage sentimental or expensive home furnishings, you can replace those items with budget-friendly furnishings that still look luxurious. Ikea is a top shopping destination for homeowners looking to deck out a vacation rental, but stores like Target can offer options too. As you select new decor and furniture for your vacation rental, you should also include themes and design elements that will attract renters and garner glowing reviews.

Add Some Extra Amenities

If you want to guarantee more ROI on your new vacation rental, it’s important to understand which amenities guests are looking for the most when they choose a vacation home. This list may seem fairly long, but the items included really just consist of little touches that help travelers feel at home in your rental property. Adding smart locks to allow for 24-hour check-in and access to the home can definitely help too, but you should go through each room to create a truly relaxing and memorable experience for your guests. If you want to impress more discerning guests, try adding some luxury amenities to enhance the vibe in your new vacation rental.

Create a Stand Out Rental Listing

Now it’s time to make sure all of your hard work pays off by creating the perfect online listing for your vacation rental. Helping your rental listing stand out to travelers requires some staging and quality listing photos. For the latter, make sure that the lighting is just right and also take pictures of every area in your home so that there are no surprises for potential guests. Once you have your photos perfected and your home set up, you can list your property on one or multiple vacation rental sites, such as Airbnb, Expedia or VRBO.

Transitioning a home into a successful vacation rental is all about creating an experience for potential guests, but it’s also crucial to protect your investment. If you follow these steps carefully, you should be able to accomplish both and earn bigger returns on your rental.

Photo Credit: Pexels