Melissa Kaspern's Blog
Construction of affordable starter homes is failing to keep pace with the number of first-time house hunters. At the same time, more homeowners are resisting the siren song of selling to these potential buyers in order to move up or downsize. It's a trend called "rising tenure length."
Owners are staying put. There’s no single reason why and there’s no single age group increasing home tenure. However, early in December 2019, a HousingWire (HW) headline shouted that Baby Boomers — born from 1946 to 1964 — are “likely to gridlock” home sales in 2020. HW cited the leveling out of home prices and economic unpredictability as central factors keeping older homeowners in place.
Move ‘Em On, Head ‘Em Up
Well whoa! HW should maybe also consider that moving down can be almost as expensive as moving up, affordable homes styled for retirement are in short supply in many markets, and a lot of older homeowners want to age in place where services and neighbors are familiar.
HW’s headline might stir the theme song of the cowboy TV series Rawhide (1959-1965) in Boomer brains. The show featured a lot of cattle drives, Clint Eastwood as a tough cowhand and lyrics like “Move ‘em on, head ’em up.” Many Boomers might also feel like channeling Eastwood in Gran Torino by growling, “Get off my lawn.”
But according to a December 2019 article in MarketWatch, anyone who can hang in there long enough will have access to a market influx of about 1.17 million boomer homes a year between 2027 and 2037. They call this projected event the “Silver Tsunami.”
Millennials Staying Put Too
To be fair, it’s essential to note that many younger homeowners also are staying put. Favoring a buy-once-and-stay approach, many have lived with parents longer than expected to save for down payments on bigger homes.
In a December 2019 article predicting a tough housing market in 2020, CNBC interviewed realtor.com Senior Economist George Ratiu, who said supply will be a greater problem than price this coming year. Ratiu stated that waiting longer to buy homes has caused Millennials to buy up at the outset of homeownership.
Avoiding Migrating Near or Far
CNBC also noted analysis of U.S. Census data by the national real estate brokerage Redfin showing that property owners today generally remain in a home for 13 years, and that this statistic is an 8-year increase over 2010.
Writing at the science news website Phys.org, migration researcher Thomas Cooke echoed Ratiu’s point about millennials buying homes they can grow into. Cooke added that many millennials are finding it difficult to move up due to a complex array of reasons, including carrying a heavier debt load than previous generations.
Furthermore, Cooke said, long distance moves are complicated by the fact that most millennial couples have dual incomes. Major relocation needs to accommodate both their jobs.
Cooke concluded that avoiding migration and putting down roots in one location is becoming the norm. It’s a choice with beneficial outcomes, he asserted, such as deeper social and community connectedness. So, forget that other famous lyric from Rawhide about “rollin’, rollin’, rollin’.” Homeowners of many ages are now stayin’, stayin’, stayin’.
How’s the market?
Based on the latest numbers from MA Association of Realtors comparing closed sales of single market Feb 2020 vs Feb 2019 - Prices are up 4.2% and Inventory is down 32.3%. May 2020 numbers will provide more insight into the impact of COVID19 on real estate sales.
Overall, we are still in a seller’s market as there is more demand for homes than inventory.
How will COVID 19 affect the Spring Market?
Based on observations and conversations I am having with my sellers, company and local agents, many sellers are pushing back the list date of their homes. Sellers are waiting to see how the virus progresses and hope to put homes on the market once things begin to normalize in terms of social distancing and ability to be out of the house. It’s too early to tell how this will affect price; but given inventory is low, I don’t anticipate we will see price decreases in the near future. Historically, the majority of homes come on market in April and May with new listings decreasing for June and July. Due to the current pandemic, I anticipate sellers waiting to list and we will see more new listings in the early summer months vs the spring months. Preparing yourself now is crucial to being a competitive buyer when inventory becomes available.
Can I still see properties that are on market?
Yes, but we will be taking extra precautions. Right now, traditional open houses are not happening. If there is a home you would like to see the process will be as follows:
- Let me know what property you are interested in viewing.
- I will provide you with any virtual tours the seller agent has of the property.
- Recommend you do a drive by of the property to be certain there aren’t any exterior reasons you would pass, i.e. yard size, neighborhood, street location.
- Prior to going into the home I will provide you a paper to sign stating you have no known symptoms of the virus nor travelled outside of the state within the past 2 weeks. We will provide this to the seller agent at least 2 hours before viewing the property.
- We will follow CDC guidelines while viewing the property and limit touching items in the house
How will this affect the Offer process and dates?
We can still make offers and should make one if you find a house you want to buy.
We will write up a “traditional” offer but add the following contingency language. “Offer contingent upon buyer and seller counsels adding a mutually agreed upon COVID 19 addendum to be included in P&S.”
I also recommend that prior to making an offer you reach out to your inspector, lender and real estate attorney to consult on how timelines are progressing in their offices so we can make adjustments to the initial offer.
Many inspectors are still working but instead of having the buyers, buyer agent and seller agent attend the inspection, they are doing them solo. Some inspectors are providing additional video footage along with the normal photos they include in the report. We will need to discuss with the inspector their availability, timelines and process prior to submitting an offer to be certain you as the buyer are comfortable. Also, most town offices are closed so we are unable to go to the building departments and board of health to pull files and ensure everything is in order. Some of this information can be found online but not all of it. I would recommend discussing with the attorney language regarding responsibility for any open permits.
Lenders and banks are still working during this time but may have limited access to certain data sources they pull from, such as tax information. If you are planning to buy a home with a federally backed loan such as FHA, USDA or VA you need to talk to your lender and see if this can still move ahead given the limited access to some government agencies. Again, prior to writing any offers we will consult with your lender regarding timelines.
Prior to making an offer we will let the attorney know. They will take the lead on any language regarding COVID 19 related delays or contract dissolution.
What about items needed by towns to close on a house?
Historically, prior to closing it is the seller’s responsibility to obtain a smoke detector certificate from the town and show proof final water/trash bills were paid in person at town hall. At this time not all local fire departments are performing smoke detector certifications nor can someone go to town hall to pay a bill. Governor Baker recently signed
that the buyer will be responsible for updating smoke detectors when taking title and within 90 days of the state of emergency being lifted have the fire department out to assess and provide the smoke detector certificate. Payment of final bills will need to be worked out with the seller and town with the advice of your attorney. Homes are still closing so there are ways to ensure things can move forward.
How do we actually sign papers to close?
Throughout the process of buying we often use electronic signatures to sign documents. When it comes to the closing documents there are some that the state and lenders require to be “wet signed”. We will need to discuss with your lender and attorney how we can handle the closing while following CDC guidelines.
Will the deed still go on record?
The Massachusetts County’s Registry of Deeds are still doing operating but most have stopped in person document recordings. They are still allowing electronic recording of documents to transfer title and finalize home sales. Traditionally electronic registration is completed the same day as papers are signed but given the increase there may be a delay in when you sign and when you can move into the property.
Is it even worth it to buy a house right now?
There is no simple answer. It depends on each buyer’s urgency to move, and their comfort with the fact that timelines aren’t as predictable. My goal in presenting all this information is to keep you informed so you can make the best decision for your situation. If you do want to make an offer on a home it will require more time than prior to the pandemic in preparing an offer and throughout the process. Communication with all parties is key to having a successful transaction. The only thing that hasn’t changed is that I am here to guide you through the process of making an offer and closing on your dream home.
Please reach out with any questions.
Re/Max Executive Realty
You’re getting ready to put your house on the market and scurrying to make everything look perfect for potential buyers. While it’s important to focus on readying your home’s interior for viewing, remember not to neglect your exterior. According to some estimates, 81% of real estate agents believe curb appeal is one of the primary ways to attract a buyer.
Keeping the lawn tidy, manicuring bushes, removing yard clutter, and ensuring exterior paint sparkles are things you'll want to do. Here are five additional ways to make your home’s exterior pop.
Install Gutter Covers
Gutter covers serve a practical purpose by ensuring gutters are clear of debris to prevent breakage or destruction caused by backed up water, but they can also provide an attractive exterior accent. Modern covers come in different designs and colors to add an attractive feature to your home. (Bonus: Many buyers might find the idea of low-maintenance gutters appealing!)
Seal the Driveway
Maintaining a driveway is one of those items many people forget to tick off on their to-do list. A dirty or cracked driveway might immediately bias a potential buyer, but a newly sealed and crisp-looking driveway can go a long way towards grabbing their attention.
Add ‘Green’ Highlights
Today’s consumers actively seek to go green. According to the National Association of REALTORS®, 68% of buyers seek environmentally-friendly homes (even if they don’t want to pay extra for them). Adding exterior improvements to your home can give it a “green” feel.
Giving your home environmentally-conscious features and "feel" adds curb appeal and, depending on the improvements made, also enhances its value.
Add New Door Hardware
Buyers greeted at the door with a dingy outdated doorknob will have a different reaction than if met with a brand-new shiny one. Adding new front door hardware is a great way to bring a more inviting feel to your home as buyers arrive. Best of all, replacing it is an inexpensive and easy DIY fix.
Ditch Concrete Walkways
Traditional concrete walkways are considered retro. If yours are looking outdated, you can make appealing improvements by investing in stamped concrete, stone or reclaimed brick walkways to replace older ones.
According to Remodeling Magazine, nine of the top 10 home improvements to increase a home’s value are exterior upgrades. First impressions matter. If you can “wow” a buyer before they even step in the door, you’ve got a far better chance of receiving your asking price.
Although you might have entered the housing market with a strategy to help you streamline your search for your dream home, it is important to remember that even the best-laid plan may need to be changed. And if you fail to discover your ideal residence after a comprehensive search, now may be a great time to revise your homebuying strategy.
Let's take a look at three tips to help you revamp your homebuying plan.
1. Consider Your Home Must-Haves and Wants
Creating a list of home must-haves and wants may be done at the start of a house search. Over time, however, this list may evolve. And if you update your list, you may be better equipped than ever before to reenter the real estate market with a fresh perspective.
Think about where you want to live in the foreseeable future too. Then, you can narrow your home search to specific cities and towns and accelerate the homebuying journey.
2. Review Your Budget
If you recently paid off your student loans or eliminated your credit cards, you may want to reassess your homebuying budget. That way, you can hone your house search and explore residences that fall within your up-to-date price range.
Of course, if you have yet to get pre-approved for a mortgage, you can still do so. Meet with banks and credit unions to learn about all of the mortgage options that are available. This will enable you to gain the insights you need to select a mortgage that matches your finances.
3. Learn About the Housing Market
The housing market may favor buyers or sellers. And if you have been searching for your dream home for several weeks or months, the market may have changed.
It does not take long for a buyer's market to become a seller's market, or vice-versa. As you consider your homebuying options, you should study the local real estate sector closely to determine whether the current housing market favors buyers or sellers.
Evaluating the prices of recently sold houses in a particular city or town usually is a good idea. This housing market data will enable you to find out whether sellers are receiving offers at or near their initial home asking prices.
You also should find out how long current residences in a particular city or town have been listed. If houses linger on the real estate market for an extended period of time, you may be operating in a market that favors buyers. Or, if homes are selling quickly, you may be operating in a seller's market.
Lastly, hiring a real estate agent often is helpful, particularly for homebuyers who are struggling to identify the perfect residence. A real estate agent can offer lots of tips as you conduct your search for your dream residence. Plus, if you need to revamp your homebuying strategy, a real estate agent will make it easy for you to do just that.
The word is out! Tile is back, and we couldn't be happier. No other medium finishes the look of a kitchen like a tile backsplash. And regardless of your skill level, with a little patience, almost anyone can create a stunning tile backsplash. Here's how it's done!
What you'll need
- Tile of choice
- Thin-set mortar
- Rubber float
- 1X4" ledger board
Choose your tile
Tiles come in all sizes, mediums and configurations. When choosing a tile, consider how well it fits within your overall kitchen style, any maintenance requirements and installation difficulty level.
Some materials include:
- Natural stone
- Stainless steel
If you're looking for less of a challenge or are short on time, you can take shortcuts and still create a durable and beautiful backsplash you'll love. Look for tiles that are peel & stick such as subway tiles or groupings of small tiles bound together in a grid.
Prep the area
Look under cabinets and across the wall to see if dust, grease or cobwebs linger. You'll want those out of your way before you begin. Let the wall dry entirely if you need to use a damp cloth.
If the backsplash isn't resting against the back of a countertop, use your level to align and nail a temporary 1X4" board to the wall to support the lowest layer of tiles while they cure.
*Pro tip* Read instructions provided by the tile manufacturer. They may have additional prep and installation advice specific to their product. Don't ignore it!
Plan your layout
Before you lay a single drop of mortar, plan and measure. Make sure you have the right number of tiles, including cut half tiles, if necessary.
Mix & apply the mortar
Always start at the bottom and work your way up, leaving 1/8 inch gap at the bottom to allow for expansion. Apply the thin-set with the trowel in a wavy motion, covering only a small section at a time.
Then begin placing your tiles with a slight twist to engrain the adhesive. Use your rubber float to press down on tiles evenly and then add a spacer between each to both hold them in place and ensure they're equally set apart. Repeat until your entire tile backsplash is in place.
Set & grout
Let the backsplash cure for at least 24 hours from the moment you set the last tile. Then remove your spacers and mix up your grout. Completely cover the tiles, ensuring it works its way between them. After 10 minutes, clean the surfaces of your tiles with a moist sponge, leaving the grout behind.
And you've just created a tile backsplash. For more fun and affordable ways to enhance your home, follow our blog.