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Demand for Housing Increases in August 2019

According to the August 2019 RE/MAX National Housing Report, buyer demand continues to exceed available housing supply, extending the favorable seller’s market that has been in place for years. While sellers have had the upper hand in negotiations in recent years with constricted inventory remaining nationally, more buyers entering the housing market could increase momentum.

“The modest inventory growth that started last fall has been swallowed up by demand as buyers have returned to the market, likely spurred on by attractive interest rates,” said RE/MAX CEO Adam Contos. “Home sales dipping at the same time inventory falls suggests there may have been some reluctance on the part of sellers to list their homes,” added Contos.

The last of 2019’s peak months for home sales also prompted encouraging signs for buyers with a steep decline in Median Sales Price from July 2019 to August 2019. Despite concerns over low inventory, the seasonal decline in inventory from July 2019 to August 2019 is on par with the national average since RE/MAX began releasing the RE/MAX National Housing Report over 10 years ago.

Here are some highlights of the latest data found in the RE/MAX National Housing Report:

  1. Home sales took a dip.

The overall average number of home sales is down 4.2% compared to July 2019, and down 1.6% compared to August 2018. Leading the month-over-month sales percentage decrease were Miami, FL at -13.5%, Dover, NH at -13.1%, and Washington, D.C. at -10.3%.

  1. Home prices became increasingly more affordable.

In August 2019, the median of all 53 metro Median Sales Prices was $263,000, down 3.6% from July 2019 and marking the steepest drop-off in report history from July to August.

  1. The number of homes for sale declined.

The number of homes for sale in August 2019 was down 3.9% from July 2019 and down 5.5% from August 2018. Based on the rate of home sales in August 2019, the Months Supply of Inventory was 2.8, a decrease compared to 2.9 in July 2019 and 3.5 in August 2018. A six months supply indicates a market balanced equally between buyers and sellers.

Whether you’re a buyer or a seller, find an experienced, top-producing agent on remaxallpro.com.

August Housing Report

DENVER – August 2019 existing home sales slipped 1.6% from a year ago, despite buyer demand exceeding available housing supply, according to the RE/MAX National Housing Report. Following July’s year-over-year sales increase of 2.3%, the slight August decline marks the sixth month of 2019 that produced fewer sales than 2018.

Buyer demand outpaced homes listed for sale in August, causing the largest inventory decline in 13 months. An analysis of the report’s 53 metro areas shows August inventory shrank 5.5% year-over-year, the largest drop since 7.8% in July 2018. August’s inventory contraction followed July’s year-over-year inventory decline of 1.5% after nine consecutive months of year-over-year inventory growth. Months Supply of Inventory decreased to 2.8 compared to 2.9 in July 2019 and eclipsed the previous August low in the report’s 11-year history.

“The modest inventory growth that started last fall has been swallowed up by demand as buyers have returned to the market, likely spurred on by attractive interest rates,” said RE/MAX CEO Adam Contos. “Home sales dipping at the same time inventory falls suggests there may have been some reluctance on the part of sellers to list their homes. Nevertheless, demand is again ahead of supply, extending the favorable seller’s market that has been in place for several years.”

Inventory has remained below four months in 39 of the last 42 months, dating back to March 2016. Six months is considered a market balanced between sellers and buyers.

Homes moved quickly and August saw a year-over-year price increase of 5.7%, further evidence of buyer demand. The August Days on Market total of 44 represented the second-fastest pace of August home sales in the report’s history. The previous record was set last August, when homes sold in an average of 43 days.

August weighed in as the eighth consecutive month of year-over-year price growth as the Median Sales Price rose to $263,000. Going back to February 2012, prices have increased year over year in 89 of the past 91 months.

Despite the favorable conditions for sellers, there were still a few encouraging signs for buyers in the last of 2019’s peak months for home sales:

  • While home prices typically decline from July to August, the decrease of 3.6% was the steepest drop-off in report history from July to August.
  • Despite August’s significant year-over-year inventory shrinkage, the seasonal decline in inventory from July-to-August of 3.9% is on par with the 3.7% average since the RE/MAX National Housing Report began in August 2008.

Closed Transactions 
Of the 53 metro areas surveyed in August 2019, the overall average number of home sales is down
4.2% compared to July 2019, and down 1.6% compared to August 2018. Leading the month-over-month sales percentage decrease were Miami, FL at -13.5%, Dover, NH at -13.1%, and Washington, D.C. at -10.3%.

Median Sales Price – Median of 53 metro median prices
In August 2019, the median of all 53 metro Median Sales Prices was $263,000, down 3.6% from July 2019, and up 5.7% from August 2018. Two metro areas saw a year-over-year decrease in Median Sales Price: San Francisco, CA at -3.2% and Wichita, KS at -1.2%. Six metro areas increased year-over-year by double-digit percentages, with the largest increases seen in Birmingham, AL at +13.2%, Milwaukee, WI at +11.3%, and Manchester, NH at +11.2%.

Days on Market – Average of 53 metro areas
The average Days on Market for homes sold in August 2019 was 44, up one day from the average in July 2019, and up one day from the August 2018 average. The metro areas with the lowest Days on Market were Omaha, NE at 19, Cincinnati, OH at 25, and Nashville, TN at 28. The highest Days on Market averages were in Des Moines, IA at 95, Miami, FL at 79, and Hartford, CT at 75. Days on Market is the number of days between when a home is first listed in an MLS and a sales contract is signed.

Months Supply of Inventory – Average of 53 metro areas
The number of homes for sale in August 2019 was down 3.9% from July 2019 and down 5.5% from August 2018. Based on the rate of home sales in August 2019, the Months Supply of Inventory was 2.8, a decrease compared to 2.9 in July 2019 and 3.5 in August 2018. A six months supply indicates a market balanced equally between buyers and sellers. In August 2019, of the 53 metro areas surveyed, only Miami, FL, at 6.9, reported a months supply at or over six, which is typically considered a buyer’s market. The markets with the lowest Months Supply of Inventory were Phoenix, AZ and Manchester, NH, both at 1.5.

From ‘Smart House’ to Smart Homes: How Today’s Tech Compares to the Iconic Disney Movie

Voice-activated music. Touch-screen powered appliances. An omnipotent, but friendly, virtual assistant providing homework help.

When “Smart House” debuted on the Disney Channel in 1999, its portrayal of a family living in a home powered by artificial intelligence seemed far-fetched. Watching it 20 years later, it’s a surprisingly prophetic portrayal of the way technology has become fully integrated into our daily lives.

In case you missed this made-for-TV masterpiece, the plot is simple: A family wins a home featuring an artificial intelligence (AI) system named P.A.T. (Personal Applied Technology). P.A.T. is programmed to take care of everything from house cleaning to meal prep, and can help coordinate outfits, give basketball advice and throw an epic party complete with mood lighting and cleanup. Chaos ensues, though, when P.A.T. is frighteningly overprotective after being reprogrammed to serve as the family’s maternal figure.

In honor of the 20th anniversary of “Smart House,” here’s a look at the technology covered in the film and how it compares to today.

Yep, homes can be controlled by AI

Similar to P.A.T., smart speakers like Amazon Echo and Google Home can control everything from music to lights with a few voice commands (and strategically placed smart plugs, if needed). But whereas P.A.T. was portrayed as the home’s central operating system, today’s smart homes are usually more of a combination of apps, gadgets and high-tech appliances.

The advantage is that homeowners can customize the technology to fit their lifestyle. It also means the tech can typically move with homeowners if they relocate.

Safety technology gives smart-home owners peace of mind

When a misguided P.A.T. attempts to lock the Coopers inside indefinitely, she blocks the windows with steel and adds an electrical force field to the home’s doors.

True, smart-home technology can greatly enhance home security, but it’s much more subtle.

For example, the If This Then That app is able to trigger an empty home’s interior lights as soon as the owner approaches. The Ring video doorbell helps residents monitor (and chat with visitors to) the front door. And many new home security systems, smoke alarms (check out Home Advisor’s breakdown of options), garage doors and surveillance cameras feature a virtual assistant integration, which means they can be controlled and monitored by a phone app or smart speaker.

Even our pets are avid technology enthusiasts

Considering the fact that keeping pooches happy is one of the primary reasons millennials buy homes, the movie’s inclusion of pet technology (the family dog is entertained by P.A.T. while the family’s away) is spot on.

One piece of especially buzzworthy pet technology is Furbo, an interactive pet camera that tosses treats to pets stuck at home. Then there are the pet doors that open only when triggered by an ultrasonic signal emitted from a special collar, blocking access to intruders. The doors can also be programmed to remain locked at certain times of day, keeping Fido and Fluffy inside for the night.

Technology can create the perfect mood

One of P.A.T.’s coolest features in the movie is her use of virtual reality to transport the Coopers to Cape Cod or a serene farm complete with a rooster’s wake-up call. While VR technology gets more sophisticated every year, full-screen virtual experiences don’t come standard in homes just yet. However, several pieces of smart appliances can help change the mood in your home.

Philips Hue is a line of smart lamps and light bulbs that can be timed to adjust from bright to softer lighting as the day goes on, mimicking natural daylight patterns. The Nest thermostat automatically sets the temperature in your home to your desired preferences, turns the temperature down when it senses you leave the home, and can be controlled from an app for on-the-go changes.

One downside of smart home technology? Energy drainage. But there’s even a “smart” solution for that. The Emporia Vue system helps homeowners monitor their energy usage through an app on their phone to reduce monthly costs and identify potential issues before they require major repairs.

Even as our lives become increasingly inseparable from technology, a home is much more than its futuristic appliances. If you’re looking for a home, working with an experienced professional is a smart move.

Start your first home buying experience off the right way by finding a real estate agent who works for you at remaxallpro.com.

July Housing Report

DENVER  July home sales bounced back after a sluggish June by increasing 2.4% year over year, according to the RE/MAX National Housing Report. This was enough to end nine months of year-over-year inventory growth as the number of homes for sale declined 1.4%.

A drop in home sales from June to July is typical in the report’s 53 metro areas. But the 0.2% decline from June to July 2019 was by far the smallest month-over-month decline since July 2013. And while June sales failed to top May for only the second time in the report’s 10-year history, July sales set a report record for the month.

“July sales snapped back after a tepid June, as attractive low interest rates appear to have brought more buyers into the mix,” said RE/MAX CEO Adam Contos. “The housing market has been a bit uneven since the early spring, with each encouraging month seemingly followed by one with lukewarm results. It’s possible the housing market has finally shaken some mud off its boots and can maintain its momentum for the back half of the year. If the broader macro environment hangs on, we could see a potentially strong finish to 2019.”

July’s Median Sales Price of $273,000 – while down slightly from June’s all-time report record high – was 9.2% higher than July of 2018. It marked the seventh consecutive month of year-over-year price growth. Home prices have risen, year over year, in 88 of the last 90 months dating back to February 2012. Said Contos, “Although lower interest rates help affordability, we have now seen two straight months of accelerating price increases. If the trend continues, it’s not an encouraging development for buyers.”

July’s Days on Market total of 43 saw sales closing at the same rate as they did in June, but taking two days longer than in July 2018. Months of Inventory in July 2019 totaled 2.7, down compared to June’s 2.9 and 3.3 in July 2018.

Closed Transactions
Of the 53 metro areas surveyed in July 2019, the overall average number of home sales is down 0.2% compared toJune 2019, and up 2.4% compared to July 2018. Leading the month-over-month sales percentage increase wereHonolulu, HI at +11.8%, Anchorage, AK at +10.2%, and New York, NY at +9.2%.

Median Sales Price – Median of 53 metro median prices
In July 2019, the median of all 53 metro Median Sales Prices was $273,000, down 0.7% from June 2019, and up 9.2% from July 2018. Three metro areas saw a year-over-year decrease in Median Sales Price including Anchorage, AK at -3.2%, Trenton, NJ at -2.1%, and San Francisco, CA at -2.0%. Five metro areas increased year-over-year by double-digit percentages, with the largest increases seen in Wichita, KS at +16.7%, Cleveland, OH at +12.9%, and Cincinnati, OH at +11.7%.

Days on Market – Average of 53 metro areas
The average Days on Market for homes sold in July 2019 was 43, equivalent to the average in June 2019, and up two days from the July 2018 average. The metro areas with the lowest Days on Market were Omaha, NE at 21, Manchester, NH at 24, and Cincinnati, OH at 26. The highest Days on Market averages were in Augusta, ME at 87, Miami, FL at 82, and Hartford, CT at 72. Days on Market is the number of days between when a home is first listed in an MLS and a sales contract is signed.

Months Supply of Inventory – Average of 53 metro areas
The number of homes for sale in July 2019 was down 2.2% from June 2019 and down 1.4% from July 2018. Based on the rate of home sales in July 2019, the Months Supply of Inventory decreased to 2.7 compared to 2.9 in June 2019, and decreased compared to 3.3 in July 2018. A six months supply indicates a market balanced equally between buyers and sellers. In July 2019, of the 53 metro areas surveyed, only Miami, FL at 6.8 reported a months supply at or over six, which is typically considered a buyer’s market. The markets with the lowest Months Supply of Inventory were Phoenix, AZ and Boise, ID, both at 1.5.

3 Things to Consider Before Registering Your Home on a Short-Term Rental Site

Once upon a time, the idea of renting out your home to a stranger while you left for vacation was considered quite odd.

Today, renting a room in your house (or the entire house) to unknown travelers isn’t an outlandish concept, thanks in part to online services such as Airbnb, FlipKey and VRBO. Short-term rentals provide an income opportunity for owners and a unique way for visitors to experience a city. What better way to get the local experience than staying with – or renting from – locals?

If you think you’re up to being a host of a short-term rental, here are three things to keep in mind.

1. Legality

The rise in popularity of Airbnb and other sites hasn’t been without its controversy. There are concerns that short-term rentals threaten the jobs of hotel workers, and that a short-term rental doesn’t have to pass the same certifications and inspections of regular hotels.

Some cities have enacted restrictions against short-term rentals. You may need to register and get a permit or a license – or you may not be able to host at all. Check with your local government to make sure you understand the laws.

2. Taxes

You may not need to report the money earned from the short-term rental of your home if you meet both of these requirements:

1. You rent it out for fewer than 14 days a year AND

2. You live in it for more than 14 days or more than 10 percent of the total days you rent it out during the year (this determines if the property is seen as a residence or a rental property by the IRS).

Still unclear about the taxes on your short-term rental? TurboTax provides some more information, or you may want to consult with a tax professional.

3. Additional Costs

Renting out your home could mean an extra insurance bill. Check with your insurance agent to learn what your current policy covers regarding short-term renters. They may recommend increasing coverage. Airbnb does provide free primary liability coverage for up to $1,000,000 per occurrence, and many of the other sites have partnerships that make it easy to take out additional coverage, if needed.

In addition to insurance, you’ll have to pay a percentage of the rental income to the website: Airbnb and FlipKey both charge a 3% host service fee, VRBO has an option to pay-per-booking or an annual subscription fee.

Start your first home buying experience off the right way by finding a real estate agent who works for you at remaxallpro.com.

 

June Housing Report

DENVER – Typically the strongest month for home sales, June saw closings decline 4.7% from May and 7.8% from June 2018, according to the RE/MAX National Housing Report. Going in the opposite direction, June’s Median Sales Price of $276,000 was an all-time high in the 10-year history of the report.

June has recorded the most sales each of the last five years (July led 2013 sales). This is only the second June in report history to have fewer sales than May. With sales slowing, June inventory increased 1.3% over June 2018, marking the first year-over-year rise in June inventory in the report’s history. Moreover, inventory grew for the ninth consecutive month, and the report’s 54 metro areas had the most units for sale since August 2016.

“Record prices appear to have kept June sales figures from topping a strong May,” said RE/MAX CEO Adam Contos. “Nevertheless, there are indications, including the return of very favorable mortgage rates, that the pace could pick up in July. Several encouraging longer-term trends—ongoing demand, improving inventory levels, low interest rates—are helping the market make incremental progress on multiple fronts. But supply remains a concern, so we need more homes to be built.”

Starting in 2013, June has also produced the highest Median Sales Price of each year. June’s record $276,000 was 6.7% higher than the $259,000 recorded in June 2018.  June’s price increase accelerated compared to the prior three months, each of which had a year-over-price increase of less than 3.5%. Contos continued, “The jump in sales price after months of moderation is worth watching for its impact on affordability.”

June’s Days on Market total of 44 meant that sales happened three days faster than in May but took three days longer than June 2018. Months of Inventory in June 2019 was 2.8, the same as May’s and below June 2018’s 3.1.

Closed Transactions 
Of the 54 metro areas surveyed in June 2019, the overall average number of home sales is down 4.7% compared to May 2019, and down 7.8% compared to June 2018. Leading the month-over-month sales percentage increase were Burlington, VT at +21.8%; Boston, MA at +13.4%; and Hartford, CT at +13.1%.

Median Sales Price – Median of 54 metro median prices
In June 2019, the median of all 54 metro Median Sales Prices was $276,000, up 6.2% from May 2019, and up 6.7% from June 2018. Two metro areas saw a year-over-year decrease in Median Sales Price: San Francisco, CA at -2.0%, and Hartford, CT at -0.1%. Three metro areas increased year-over-year by double-digit percentages, with Boise, ID at +10.7%; Albuquerque, NM at +10.4%; and Philadelphia, PA at +10.0%.

Days on Market – Average of 54 metro areas
The average Days on Market for homes sold in June 2019 was 44, down three days from the average in May 2019, and up three days from the June 2018 average. The metro areas with the lowest Days on Market were Omaha, NE at 22; Denver, CO at 25; and Seattle, WA at 26. The highest Days on Market averages were in Augusta, ME at 108; Miami, FL at 82; and Hartford, CT at 74. Days on Market is the number of days between when a home is first listed in an MLS and a sales contract is signed.

Months Supply of Inventory – Average of 54 metro areas
The number of homes for sale in June 2019 was down 0.6% from May 2019 and up 1.3% from June 2018. Based on the rate of home sales in June 2019, the Months Supply of Inventory held steady at 2.8 from May 2019, and decreased compared to 3.1 in June 2018. A six months supply indicates a market balanced equally between buyers and sellers. In June 2019, of the 54 metro areas surveyed, only Miami, FL at 7.0 reported a months supply at or over six, which is typically considered a buyer’s market. The markets with the lowest Months Supply of Inventory were Omaha, NE and Manchester, NH, both at 1.0, and Minneapolis, MN at 1.8.

Millennial Homebuyers Want a Yard of Their (Pet’s) Dreams – Here’s How Sellers Can Appeal to Furry Friends

What could beat out an updated kitchen as the most important feature millennials are looking for when buying a home? Recent research from the National Association of Landscape Professionals shows that a nice-sized lawn is the No. 1 priority among those born between 1981 and 1996.

Seventy-three percent of millennials currently own a pet and, according to a 2018 realtor.com survey, 75 percent of pet-owning millennial homebuyers surveyed said they would pass on a home, no matter how good it is, if it didn’t meet the needs of their pet.

If you plan to boost your home’s curb appeal and backyard before selling, keep in mind potential millennial buyers – and their furry friends – with these tips for a pet-friendly yard:

  1. Muse on Your Mulch

Mulching can be used to create healthy lawns and add aesthetic value – but it can also be harmful to animals if certain chemicals are present in the material. Cocoa bean mulch, for example, can poison dogs since it’s made from cocoa shells. Instead, look for pine, cedar and hemlock mulches, which can be good alternatives and may ease the mind of a potential buyer with pets.

  1. Plant Purposefully

Planting a few flowers can go a long way in ramping up your home’s curb appeal. Adding a few different colors into the mix can help create an interesting and inviting atmosphere. While you’re at the garden center, consider taking a look at this list of toxic and non-toxic plants for animals and steer clear of potential troublemakers for future buyers. If your garden is already in tip-top shape, list and label as many plants as possible. This relatively simple step can have a powerful effect on buyers, whether they’re gardeners or not!

  1. Know Your Boundaries

There are a lot of variables to consider when questioning if a fence increases home value. Material, the neighborhood and whether it fits in with the style of your house are all important things to consider – but so is the condition you keep it in! A sturdy backyard fence may inspire buyers with escape-artist furry friends to make an offer.

  1. Be Chemical-Conscious

Many baits for snails, rats and other pests can be fatal for pups. If you must use them to get your backyard sell-ready, think of putting them where a pet couldn’t reach them. Did you know planting lavender, mint, rosemary and other companion plants can be a safe way to keep snails and slugs at bay?

  1. Make ‘Pawsome’ Choices

If adding some paths in your yard is within budget, consider materials that don’t get too hot on a sunny day. Materials should be easy to walk on for both owners and their pets. Concrete, brick, flagstone and smooth rocks are all good choices.

Start your first home buying experience off the right way by finding a real estate agent who works for you at remaxallpro.com.

 

May Housing Report

 

DENVER – May home sales ticked slightly higher year-over-year, ending a 9-month streak of declines, according to the RE/MAX National Housing Report. At the same time, inventory grew for the eighth consecutive month, representing the most units for sale since August 2016 in the report’s 54 metro areas.

Homes sold quickly, as evident in the Days on Market average of 47 – the second-fastest May average in the 10-year history of the report. And home sales increased 15.3% from April to May – the second-highest April-May jump in report history.

Home sales were up 0.4% over May 2018 – the first year-over-year gain since July 2018. The number of homes for sale increased 4.9% year-over-year to set a report record for the highest May growth. However, based on the pace of home sales, May’s 2.6 Months of Inventory was down compared to April’s 2.8 months and the 2.9 months of May 2018.

The Median Sales Price of $259,500 was up 3.4% year-over-year, representing the lowest May increase since 2011.

“The spring selling season was in full bloom during the month of May, offering both buyers and sellers something to like,” said RE/MAX CEO Adam Contos. “Buyers are generally finding increased selection along with moderating price increases.  At the same time, in general, sellers are selling their homes quickly while still enjoying some price gains. Bottom line, the market is operating efficiently right now, and homes are selling, on average, at a good clip.”

Closed Transactions 
Of the 54 metro areas surveyed in May 2019, the overall average number of home sales is up 15.3% compared to April 2019, and up 0.4% compared to May 2018. Leading the month-over-month sales increase were Billings, MT at +64.2%, Burlington, VT at +61.6%, and Minneapolis, MN at +35.8%.

Median Sales Price – Median of 54 metro median prices
In May 2019, the median of all 54 metro Median Sales Prices was $259,500, up 3.3% from April 2019, and up 3.4% from May 2018. Three metro areas saw a year-over-year decrease in Median Sales Price: San Francisco, CA at -5.1%, Honolulu, HI at -3.2%, and Billings, MT at  -1.6%. Three metro areas increased year-over-year by double-digit percentages: Milwaukee, WI at +14.2%, Boise, ID at +13.6%, and Albuquerque, NM at +10.2%.

Days on Market – Average of 54 metro areas
The average Days on Market for homes sold in May 2019 was 47, down five days from the average in April 2019, and up two days from the May 2018 average. The metro areas with the lowest Days on Market were Omaha, NE at 25, and San Francisco, CA and Denver, CO, both at 26. The highest Days on Market averages were in Augusta, ME at 106, Miami, FL at 87, and Hartford, CT at 84. Days on Market is the number of days between when a home is first listed in an MLS and a sales contract is signed.

Months Supply of Inventory – Average of 54 metro areas
The number of homes for sale in May 2019 was up 4.5% from April 2019 and up 4.9% from May 2018. Based on the rate of home sales in May 2019, the Months Supply of Inventory decreased to 2.6 from 2.8 in April 2019 and decreased compared to 2.9 in May 2018. A six months supply indicates a market balanced equally between buyers and sellers. In May 2019, of the 54 metro areas surveyed, only Miami, FL at 6.2 reported a months supply at or over six. The markets with the lowest Months Supply of Inventory were Boise, ID at 1.2, Omaha, NE at 1.3, and Manchester, NH and San Francisco, CA, both at 1.4.

 

A Plan for First-Time Homebuyers: Go from Prepared to Purchase

 

If you’re a first-time homebuyer who has succeeded in saving enough for a down payment (remember, you don’t necessarily need 20%) on your very first home – congratulations! You’ve tackled one of the hardest parts of the home buying journey with success, but you haven’t crossed the finish line to homeownership just yet. Now it’s time for the follow-up work that can take you from prepared to purchase.

Credit Check

Do you know your credit score? If not, it’s time to request a copy of your credit report from TransUnion, Equifax and Experian to find out your score and what it means to your future financial picture. Start working to resolve any errors or outstanding debts before it’s time to make an offer on a house. It’s important to determine your DTI, or debt-to-income ratio, by reviewing assets and debts. The higher your DTI percentage, the riskier the investment is for lenders – which can lead to higher interest rates.

Prepare the Paperwork

Begin gathering all necessary documents now to make the process run smoothly. Depending on your situation, this may include income documentation, proof of assets, personal documents, pay stubs, tax returns, bank statements, IDs, previous addresses and Social Security numbers. Study the documents as you collect them to familiarize yourself with your financial situation, motivate your home search and keep your debt-to-income ratio low.

Get Pre-Qualified or Pre-Approved

After you find the right agent, the next step is to make an appointment with a loan originator (find one near you). A loan originator can help you with pre-qualification or pre-approval. Keep in mind that many homeowners borrow less than the maximum to account for other expenses and opt into lower monthly payments. Revisit your financials with these new numbers in mind and, if necessary, make any final edits to your budget and payment plan.

Start your first home buying experience off the right way by finding a real estate agent who works for you at remaxallpro.com.

Expert Advice: Staging Your Home for Selling Season

If you own a home, it is likely one of your largest investments. When the time comes to move up or downsize, you want to do everything in your power to protect your equity and get your asking price – or more. One way to ensure your home is listed, and purchased, at the right price point is to work with a real estate agent to boost your home’s buyer appeal. Check out these home-staging tips from experts across the country.

  1. Depersonalize and Neutralize

A home filled with someone else’s personal belongings and clutter can make potential buyers feel as though they are invading private space.

“Neutralizing the atmosphere encourages buyers to envision themselves living there,” says Leslie Cain with RE/MAX Realty Affiliates in Carson City, Nevada. “Think of staging your home as an investment – it typically costs less than a first price reduction [if the home doesn’t sell].”

  1. Focus on Feature Rooms

Your real estate agent can help you see your home from the buyer’s eyes. Focus on the dining and living areas as well as the master bedroom.

“A common mistake is relocating clutter to closets – buyers will look there, too,” said Kathy Henne with RE/MAX Finest in Piqua, Ohio. “It’s best to move all unnecessary belongings out of the house and keep the space as sparsely furnished as possible. Once you have a cleared space, make sure to give it a deep cleaning.”

  1. Go Virtual

You want your home to be clean and decluttered, of course, but not having enough furniture can also be a problem, says Cynthia Fazzini with the Fazzini Group at RE/MAX Realtec Group in Palm Harbor, Florida.

“Since most potential homebuyers begin their home searches online, we often recommend digital staging to our clients with vacant homes,” said Fazzini. “Adding in furniture, artwork and rugs gives the home warmth and helps the buyer envision how the space can look with their belongings and decorations. We recently took on a new construction home that was vacant and had been on the market for six months with multiple price reductions. After digital staging, the house was under contract in seven days.”

Find an experienced real estate agent who can guide you through the home-selling process at remaxallpro.com.