Homes Sold by Jessica Harless | NextHome Realty Center

Virtual Home Buying

BY KEITH ROBINSON | APRIL 24, 2020

How in the heck am I supposed to buy a house while I am sheltering in place?? I hardly know what day it is without checking right now. Is it actually possible for me to find a house, evaluate it, write an offer, get it accepted, and close on it? Not to mention moving… is that even legal right now?

Trust me, we hear you. It is always complicated, stressful, and a little emotional buying a house. Maybe even a little more so in this “new normal” (nothing normal about this) of COVID-19. To start with, the answer to all of the above questions is “it depends.” Super helpful, right? The thing is, every state (heck, every county) is approaching this differently. In some states it’s kind of business as nearly normal – just add in vats of hand sanitizer, masks, and 6-feet-away hellos. Others are in lockdown but real estate is deemed essential so you can still transact. And in a few, it’s been deemed non-essential and it’s literally not even possible to close on a home, not to mention see one. So… it depends.

If you are in one of the states (counties) with the first two options, there are some real opportunities out there for buyers right now. We’ve had an inventory shortage in this country for a while now and that is only going to continue with builders slowing down building and more and more millennials entering “household formation” years (a fancy way of saying they can now afford to buy a house). For the buyer with a little creativity and willingness to take action – and the right real estate professional – this could be the time. That being said, it is stressful and a person deciding to hold off to let the dust settle could make sense. The rest of this is for the creative and willing buyer.

Step 1: virtual buyer consultation.  It could be over Facetime, a Zoom meeting, or some other virtual conference room software. We’ve been doing things remote at NextHome since we started our company over five years ago. It’s not quite as good as meeting face-to-face but it’s really close to the same thing. I mean, if virtual happy hours are popping up around the U.S., then we can set up a virtual buyer consultation to have all your questions answered.

Step 2: virtual property search. Now you’ve already been digging through Zillow like a detective looking for the one clue to make your case. Now you’ve got someone to send them to so you can get more information. And you’ve got a partner in detective work who will be doing some digging with you and sending you properties that fit your criteria. Think of it as your virtual property concierge who is there to assist, and sometimes lead, the property finding process. Thank the technology gods that more and more have been developed to help you know a lot about a house before you see it. I know, I know, you’re already wondering what happens when you find your dream house online for that, it’s step 3.

Step 3: video home tours. We’ve all got a camera in our pocket (along with a calculator, take that my 6th-grade math teacher who said I wouldn’t always have one handy)and it’s as easy as ever to “see” a property at a distance. Your agent can get access to the property, fire up that Facetime, Facebook video chat, Google Duo, etc. and walk you through every inch of your future home.

Step 4: electronically sign things. Ok, we like it, no, we love it. Now what? It’s offer writing time. The ability to sign documents at distance has been around for years on the real estate side (come on mortgage side, step your game up, because not everything can be signed digitally there). We have all the real estate contracts, addendums, forms, and such available digitally and can email them to you. Then you would need to lean forward towards the computer screen to read the small print and smush a few mouse clicks –  you’re now in offer, counteroffer, negations, and starting the closing process. You will probably have to go somewhere to sign loan documents (see above about mortgage) but in most areas, they have changed their process to allow for safe signing. Some even have a mobile notary and closing specialist who can come to you to sign everything. Easy peasy lemon squeezy (it’s actually hard hard lemon hard but our trained real estate professionals are there to help you every step of the way).

Step 5: inspections. Buying a house is one of the biggest financial decisions you’ll ever make. There are lots and lots of inspections you can have done. And each of them can be completed, then the reports sent to you via email. We can even set up a virtual conference room to review the report with the inspector and the agent so you can get all your questions answered.

Step 6: transfer funds by wire. Yup, that’s right. You can move money around like a high-powered hedge fund manager. You feel pretty dang cool when you tell the closing facilitator, “I’ll have my people wire the money over.” Trust me. You do.

Step 7: keys, please! As an agent, this was always my favorite part of closing with a buyer.  Giving them their keys. As a real estate agent, there isn’t much more rewarding than seeing the people you’ve helped get the keys to “their home.”  It’s amazing. Now we just do it over a screen instead of in person. There are key delivery services that can have the keys brought right to you. You’ll just have to Facetime when you do it because I know your agent is going to want to see your smiling face when you get them.

Do I write this with the thoughts that someone will buy a house without ever seeing it. No, of course not. What’s important right now is we all stay safe and we can limit the contact as much as we need to for everyone to feel safe. And we’re fully set up to take care of as much of the process virtually as we can. For some buyers, this is the right time to get bold, take action, and go find their house. And for others, they might want to hold off a few months. For both sets of buyers, we’re here to help you whenever you’re ready.

Homes Sold by Jessica Harless | NextHome Realty Center

What If I Need to Sell My Home Now? What Can I Do?

Every day that passes, people have a need to buy and sell homes. That doesn’t stop during the current pandemic. If you’ve had a major life change recently, whether with your job or your family situation, you may be in a position where you need to sell your home – and fast. While you probably feel like timing with the current pandemic isn’t on your side, making a move is still possible. Rest assured, with technology at your side and fewer sellers on the market in most areas, you can list your house and make it happen safely and effectively, especially when following the current COVID-19 guidelines set forth by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

You may have a new baby, a new employment situation, a parent who moved in with you, you just built a home that’s finally ready to move into, or some other major part of your life that has changed in recent weeks. Buyers have those needs too, so rest assured that someone is likely looking for a home just like yours.

According to the NAR Flash Survey: Economic Pulse taken April 5 – 6, real estate agents indicate, not surprisingly, that there’s a noticeable decline in current homebuyer interest. That said, 10% of agents said in the same survey that they saw no change or even an increase in buyer activity. So, while buyer interest is low compared to normal spring markets, there are still buyers in the market. Don’t forget, you only need one buyer – the right one for your home.

Here’s the other thing – people are spending a lot of time on the Internet right now, given the stay-at-home orders implemented across the country. Buyers are actively looking at homes for sale online. Some of them are reaching out to real estate professionals for virtual tours and getting ready to make offers too. Homes are being sold in many markets.

There Is Less Competition Right Now

The same survey indicates that 56% of NAR members said sellers are removing their homes from the market right now. This can definitely work in your favor. If other sellers are removing their listings, your home has a better chance of rising to the top of a buyer’s search list and being seen. Keep in mind, listings will pick up again soon, as 57% of the respondents note that sellers are only planning to delay the process by a couple of months. If you need to sell right now, don’t wait for the competition to get back into the market again.

This year, delayed listings from the typically busy spring season will push into the summer months, so more competition will be coming to the market as the pandemic passes. Getting ahead of that wave now might be your biggest opportunity.

Your Trusted Real Estate Advisor Can Help

Real estate agents are working hard every single day under untraditional circumstances, utilizing technology to help both buyers and sellers who need to continue with their plans. We’re using virtual tours to show homes currently on the market, staying connected with the buyers and sellers through video chats, and leveraging resources to complete transactions electronically. We’re making sure the families we support remain safe and can keep their real estate needs on track, especially as life is changing so rapidly.

Bottom Line

Homes are still being bought and sold in the midst of this pandemic. If you need to sell your house and would like to know the current status in our local market, let’s work together to create a safe and effective plan that works for you and your family.

Homes Listed by Jessica Harless | NextHome Realty Center

How Pricing Your Home Right Makes a Big Difference

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2020 Homebuying Checklist

Some Highlights:Homes Listed and Sold by Jessica Harless | nextHome Realty Center

  • If you’re thinking of buying a home, plan ahead and stay on the right track, starting with pre-approval.
  • Being proactive about the homebuying process will help set you up for success in each step.
  • Make sure to work with a trusted real estate professional along the way, to help guide you through the homebuying steps specific to your area.
Real Estate Trends - Covid Recovery

The Housing Market Is Positioned to Help the Economy Recover [INFOGRAPHIC]

The Housing Market Is Positioned to Help the Economy Recover [INFOGRAPHIC]

The Housing Market Is Positioned to Help the Economy Recover [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

Some Highlights

  • Expert insights are painting a bright future for housing when the economy bounces back – and it will.
  • We may be facing challenging economic times today, but the housing market is poised to help the economy recover, not drag it down.
  • Let’s connect to make sure you’re informed and ready when it’s time to make your move.
Homes Sold By Jessica Harless -| NextHome Realty Center

Have You Outgrown Your Home?

It may seem hard to imagine that the home you’re in today – whether it’s your starter home or just one you’ve fallen in love with along the way – might not be your forever home.

The good news is, it’s okay to admit if your house no longer fits your needs.

According to the latest Home Price Insights from CoreLogic, prices have appreciated 3.5% year-over-year. At the same time, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) reports inventory has dropped 4.3% from one year ago.Have You Outgrown Your Home? | Simplifying The MarketThese two statistics are directly related to one another. As inventory has decreased and demand has increased, prices have been driven up.

This is great news if you own a home and are thinking about selling. The equity in your house has likely risen as prices have increased. Even better is the fact that there’s a large pool of buyers out there searching for the American dream, and your home may be high on their wish list.

Bottom Line

If you think you’ve outgrown your home, let’s get together to discuss local market conditions and determine if now is the best time for you to sell.

Homes Sold by Jessica Harless | NextHome Realty Center

Planning on Buying a Home? Be Sure You Know Your Options.

When you’re ready to buy, you’ll need to determine if you prefer the charm of an existing home or the look and feel of a newer build. With limited existing home inventory available today, especially in the starter and middle-level markets, many buyers are considering a new home that’s recently been constructed, or they’re building the home of their dreams.

According to Robert Dietz, Chief Economist at the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB),

“The second half of 2019 has seen steady gains in single-family construction, and this is mirrored by the gradual uptick in builder sentiment over the past few months.”

This is great news for homebuyers because it means there is additional inventory coming to the market, giving buyers more choices. The most recent data from NAHB shows,

“The inventory of new homes for sale was 321,000 in September, representing a 5.5 months’ supply. The median sales price was $299,400. The median price of a new home sale a year earlier was $328,300.”

Another added bonus is that builders are very aware of buyer demand in this segment, so they’re now building in a price range where there are more interested buyers ($299,400 instead of $328,300). With a reduced sales price and low-interest rates, today’s buyers have strong purchasing power.

Bottom Line

If you’re thinking of buying a home, you may want to consider a new build to meet your family’s needs. Let’s get together to discuss the process and review what’s available in our area.

Homes Sold By Jessica Harless | NextHome Realty Center

What to Expect from Your Home Inspection

You made an offer and it was accepted. Your next task is to have the home inspected prior to closing. Agents often recommend you make your offer contingent upon a clean home inspection.

This contingency allows you to renegotiate the price you offered for the home, ask the sellers to cover repairs, or in some cases, walk away if challenges arise. Your agent can advise you on the best course of action once the report is filed.

How to Choose an Inspector

Your agent will most likely have a short list of inspectors they’ve worked with in the past to recommend to you. HGTV suggests you consider the following five areas when choosing the right home inspector for you:

1. Qualifications – Find out what’s included in your inspection and if the age or location of your home may warrant specific certifications or specialties.

2. Sample Reports – Ask for a sample inspection report so you can review how thoroughly they will be inspecting your dream home. In most cases, the more detailed the report,
the better.

3. References – Do your homework. Ask for phone numbers and names of past clients who you can call to discuss their experiences.

4. Memberships – Not all inspectors belong to a national or state association of home inspectors, and membership in one of these groups should not be the only way to evaluate your choice. Membership in one of these organizations does, however, often mean continued training and education are required.

5. Errors and Omission Insurance – Find out what the liability of the inspector or inspection company is once the inspection is over. The inspector is only human, after all, and it is possible they might miss something they should see.

Ask your inspector if it’s okay for you to tag along during the inspection, so they can point out anything that should be addressed or fixed.

Don’t be surprised to see your inspector climbing on the roof or crawling around in the attic and on the floors. The job of the inspector is to protect your investment and find any issues with the home, including but not limited to: the roof, plumbing, electrical components, appliances, heating and air conditioning systems, ventilation, windows, fireplace and chimney, foundation, and so much more.

Homes Sold By Jessica Harless | NextHome Realty Center

What Is the Probability That Home Values Sink?

With the current uncertainty about the economy triggered by a potential trade war, some people are waiting to purchase their first home or move-up to their dream house because they think or hope home prices will drop over the next few years. However, the experts disagree with this perspective.

Here is a table showing the predicted levels of appreciation from six major housing sources:What Is the Probability That Home Values Sink? | Simplifying The MarketAs we can see, every source believes home prices will continue to appreciate (albeit at lower levels than we have seen over the last several years). But, not one source is calling for residential real estate values to depreciate.

Additionally, ARCH Mortgage Insurance Company in their current Housing and Mortgage Market Review revealed their latest ARCH Risk Index, which estimates the probability of home prices being lower in two years. There was not one state that even had a moderate probability of home prices lowering. In fact, 34 of the 50 states had a minimal probability.

What Is the Probability That Home Values Sink? | Simplifying The Market

Bottom Line

Those waiting for prices to fall before purchasing a home should realize that the probability of that happening anytime soon is very low. With mortgage rates already at near historic lows, now may be the time to act.