If you’ve never purchased a home before, the process can seem overwhelming. What, exactly, do you need to do before you buy a home? What steps do you need to take? And where do you start?
A recent article from realtor.com outlined some of the most important initial steps first-time homeowners need to take as they navigate the home buying process, including:
- Saving for a down payment. Most lenders require you to cover a percentage of the home’s cost in cash—known as a down payment. While a 20 percent down payment can be beneficial, it’s not typically necessary. Many lenders are willing to work with buyers with a lower down payment—so just save up as much as you can prior to starting your home search.
- Getting pre-approved for a mortgage. Before you start looking for a home, you need to know how much home you can afford—and that means getting pre-approved for your mortgage. Once you’re pre-approved, you know exactly how much you have to spend—which will save you time, energy, and frustration during your home search. (No one wants to fall in love with a home, only to find out they aren’t approved for a large enough mortgage to purchase it.)
- Finding the right real estate agent. A great real estate agent will walk you through the entire home buying process, whether that’s finding you the right home, negotiating a great deal, or answering questions along the way. So, before you get too far into your home search, make sure to find a trusted, reputable agent to partner with. At Destination Real Estate, we offer a complimentary Home Buyers Guide packed full of helpful information.
Bottom line? If you’ve never purchased a home before, it can be hard to know where to begin—but these steps are a great place to start! Get your FREE Home Buyers Guide HERE.
When you’re selling your home, choosing the right real estate agent is one of the most important parts of the process. A great real estate agent can help you sell your home quickly, profitably, and with as little stress as possible—while a not-so-great agent can make the process longer and more frustrating than it needs to be.
So, what’s the key to making sure that you choose the right agent for your home sale? Asking the right questions.
A recent article from realtor.com outlined key questions sellers should ask before choosing a real estate agent, including:
- How did you determine the recommended list price? It’s not uncommon for a homeowner to have their own opinion on how much their house should be listed for, and it can often differ from the agent’s recommendation. A solid agent has considerable experience and insight into market values, and will be happy to explain in depth as to how they arrived at their recommendation.
- Will I be working directly with you? Many real estate agents work on their own, and perform every single task involved in the sale of a house. But other agents either work as a team, or have other assistants that may take on certain responsibilities. Neither is the “right” or “wrong” way to handle a transaction, but it’s important for you to know who you will be dealing with, and what to expect.
- What is your marketing plan? There are many ways to market a house and while all agents may do similar things, it’s important to know about any specific or different approaches the agent you are interviewing may employ to sell your house fast and for the most money.
Homebuyers today are facing a huge dilemma. There simply aren’t enough homes for sale.1
Nationwide, there were 1.27 million active listings in September, down 13% from the previous year. According to the National Association of Realtors, that’s about 2.4 months of inventory, which is far less than the six months that is generally needed to strike a healthy balance between supply and demand.2
Given the limited number of available properties, if you’re a buyer in today’s market, you may need to expand your search to include both new construction and resale homes. But it can feel a little like comparing apples to oranges.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the factors you should take into account when choosing between a new build or an existing home.
How quickly do you want (or need) to move into your next home? Your timeframe can be a determining factor when it comes to choosing between a new build or resale.
If you opt for new construction, you may be surprised by how long you have to wait to get the keys to your new digs. Currently, many home builders are dealing with unique challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, including rising costs, labor and material shortages, and shipping delays. While historically it took around five to six months to build a home, many builders are now reporting construction timelines closer to a year or more.3. Historically new construction has always taken longer in the Eastern Sierra (my husband and I were “homeless” for a few months waiting for our new home back in 2018).
These issues have led some builders to cancel contracts or raise the price on unsuspecting homebuyers long after agreements were signed. Unfortunately, this scenario can throw a major wrench in your moving plans and significantly delay your timeline.
To minimize these types of surprises, it’s crucial to have a real estate agent represent you in a new home purchase. We can help negotiate better contract terms and advise you about the potential risks involved.
If you’re in a hurry to move into your next residence, then you may want to stick to shopping for an existing home.
You can typically move into a resale home as soon as you’ve closed the deal. The average time it takes to close a home purchase is around 51 days, but it can vary based on loan type and market activity.4
If you need to move even sooner, it’s sometimes possible to close faster, especially if you’re a cash buyer. In fact, many sellers prefer a quick closing, so it can give you an advantage in a competitive market.
From commute to construction to amenities, there’s a lot to consider when choosing your next neighborhood.
With a brand-new home, you’re more likely to move into a neighborhood that’s located on the edge of town and is still undergoing development.5 This could mean a longer commute and ongoing construction for some time. While are town is small, this could mean you are a little further away from the lifts or town amenities.
However, new developments can also offer a lot of amenities that appeal to modern homebuyers. In our area that could mean more energy efficient features. In larger California cities this could mean water features, hike-and-bike trails, tot lots, and dog parks in master-planned communities. And some larger communities feature new schools and their own urban-like centers with restaurants, retail, and office space.6
An existing home is more likely to be located close to town in a neighborhood with mature trees, established schools, and a deeply-rooted community. As a result, you may find the neighborhood’s trajectory to be more predictable than an up-and-coming area.
But the amenities may be lacking and the infrastructure dated when compared to newer communities. And while some homebuyers love the charm and eclectic feel of an older neighborhood, others prefer the sleek and cohesive look of a newer development.
Are you a DIY enthusiast, or do you prefer a low-maintenance lifestyle? Set realistic expectations about how much time, effort, and money you want to devote to maintaining your next home.
When you build a home, everything is brand new. Therefore, in the first few years at least, you can expect less required maintenance and repairs. A 2019 survey found that millennials’ homebuying regrets often came down to maintenance issues, rather than other concerns.7 So if you would rather spend your weekends exploring your new neighborhood than fixing a leaky faucet, you may be happier buying a turnkey build.
That doesn’t mean, though, that a new home will be entirely maintenance-free. In fact, depending on the builder, you could find yourself repairing more than you expected. Some home builders have reputations for shoddy construction and subpar materials, so it’s important to choose one with a solid reputation. We can help you identify the quality builders in our area.
No matter how good a deal you got when you purchased it, you could come to regret buying an older home if it costs you heavily in unexpected maintenance and repairs. According to HomeAdvisor’s yearly True Cost report, home renovations have grown more expensive in recent years. For example, installing a new HVAC system could cost you $5,371 on average. And you can expect to pay nearly double that amount ($9,375) for a new roof.8
Fortunately, there are ways to prepare for these large expenditures. We always recommend that our buyers hire a certified home inspector, whether they buy a new or existing home. Once we have the inspector’s report, we can negotiate with the seller on your behalf for reasonable repairs or concessions.
On a quest for greener living? If so, there are several factors to consider when deciding on your next home.
There’s a growing demand for energy-efficient housing, and many builders are rising to the challenge. Nearly 1 in 4 homes built in 2020 received a HERS (Home Energy Rating System) Index Rating by the Residential Energy Services Network. A HERS rating provides an index score that compares the newly-built home to those that were standard in 2006. The more energy-efficient the home is, the lower the score it receives.11
The average home rated in 2020 was 42% more efficient than those built in 2006 and 72% more efficient than a typical home built in the 1970s.11 So if energy efficiency is a top priority, a new home with a low HERS rating may be a good choice. You can also look for one that’s ENERGY STAR Certified, which means it meets a series of strict efficiency guidelines set by the Environmental Protection Agency. In 2020, only 7.9% of homes built in the U.S. received this designation.12
Of course, a basic tenet of sustainable living is: reduce, reuse, recycle. And since a resale home already exists, it automatically comes with a lower carbon footprint. Research has also shown that remodeling or retrofitting an older home is often greener than building one from scratch.13
With some energy-conservation effort and strategic upgrades, environmentally-conscious consumers can feel good about buying an existing home, as well.
Open floor plan? Kitchen island? High ceilings? Must-have design features could drive your decision to build or buy resale.
With a new home, you can bet that everything will look shiny and perfect when you move in. Builders tend to put a lot of emphasis on visual details and follow the latest design trends. For example, newly-built homes are likely to feature an open floor plan, central kitchen island, and 9+ foot ceilings, which are must-haves for many modern buyers. They are also unlikely to feature carpet on the main level or laminate countertops, both of which have lost mass appeal.14
However, some buyers complain of the cookie-cutter feel of new homes since they are often built with a similar aesthetic. That doesn’t mean, though, that you can’t incorporate your own style. We can help you negotiate custom features and upgrades to personalize the space and make it feel like your own.
In some of the most coveted neighborhoods, an older home with classic styling and character can be highly sought after. But unless the previous homeowners have invested in tasteful updates, an existing home is also more likely to look dated.
While some buyers prefer the traditional look and character of an older home, others crave something more modern. If that’s the case, we can help you find a resale home that leaves enough room in your budget to renovate it to your liking.
WHICHEVER PATH YOU CHOOSE, WE CAN HELP
When it comes to choosing between a new build or an existing home, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. There are numerous factors to consider, and you may have to make some compromises along the way. But the homebuying process doesn’t have to feel overwhelming.
We’re here to help. And in many cases, our homebuyer guidance and expertise are available at no cost to you! That’s because the home seller or home builder may compensate us with a commission at closing.
Some new-construction homebuyers make the mistake of visiting a builder’s sales office or even purchasing a home without their own real estate representative. But keep in mind, the builder’s agent or “sales consultant” has their best interests in mind—not yours.
Although new construction options are limited in our area, we are knowledgeable about both the new construction and resale home options in our area, and we can help you make an informed decision, negotiate a fair price, and avoid mistakes that can cost you time and money. So give us a call today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation—and let’s start searching for your next home!
- Reuters –
- National Association of Realtors –
- KFVS 12 –
- Rocket Mortgage –
- Real Assets Adviser –
- Builder Online –
- Bankrate –
- Home Advisor –
- Roofing Calculator –
- Plumbing and Mechanical Engineer –
- National Association of Home Builders –
- EnergyStar –
- Advanced Materials Research – https://www.researchgate.net/publication/271358381_Comparative_Study_of_New_Construction_and_Renovation_Project_Based_on_Carbon_Emission
- National Association of Home Builders –
There’s no denying that the 2021 real estate market has been frustrating for many buyers—and that frustration is causing some buyers to give up on their home search altogether.
But what is it about today’s market that’s making buyers take a step back from searching for a home?
The Opendoor 2021 Report: Achieving The Dream, which surveyed 850 consumers planning to buy or sell in the next 12 months, the top reasons would-be buyers are pressing pause on their home search include:
- Uncertainty with COVID-19: 39 percent
- The market is intimidating: 35 percent
- There aren’t enough homes on the market: 24 percent
So, what does that mean for you? If you’re planning on buying a home in the near future, it’s important to understand the challenges potential buyers are facing in the market. That way, you can prepare yourself to better navigate those challenges—and put yourself in the best position to successfully find and buy your dream home. On the bright side, since a decent percentage of buyers are giving up due to these concerns, you can benefit from less competition if you continue your home search!
Buying a home together is a major step for any couple. And while it’s an exciting step, it can also be a stressful one—particularly if there are things you and your partner just don’t agree on.
But what, exactly, might you disagree on as you search for your dream home?
A recent survey from LendingHome asked American couples about what they disagreed on while looking for a home—and a few key disagreements emerged, including:
- The price of the home (53 percent)
- The home’s location (29 percent)
- Purchasing a new home vs. purchasing a fixer-upper (29 percent)
- The size and/or style of the home (18 percent)
So, what does this mean for you? If you’re thinking about buying a home with your partner, it’s important to understand some of the common disagreements couples have while searching for a home. That way, you both can get on the same page from the get-go—and make the process of finding a home as harmonious and stress-free as possible.
There are certain risks associated with any major life change or decision—including buying a home.
But just how risky are buyers willing to be in order to successfully buy their dream home?
A recent survey from home inspection cost resource Repair Pricer surveyed over 3000 consumers to get insights into which risks they were willing to take in order to successfully buy a home in today’s market, including:
- Buying a fixer upper. Not move-in ready? Not a problem! A whopping 80 percent of people surveyed said they’d be willing to buy a fixer-upper. This can be as simple as needing paint and flooring to actually total remodels.
- Paying more than the asking price. Bidding wars are common in today’s market. And, as such, many buyers are willing to go above asking price in order to successfully close the deal. 40 percent of people surveyed said they would be willing to go $20K over the asking price for their dream home. Savvy Realtors® and sellers are actually pricing slightly below market value to encourage multiple offers over the list price.
- Bribing their way to an accepted offer. Apparently, today’s market is tough enough that some buyers are willing to take the low road in order to successfully purchase a home. Nearly 30 percent of people surveyed said they’d be willing to bribe someone to get their dream home. As shady as this sounds, some of these “bribes” are pretty creative. Recently one of my clients lost out on a property to another buyer who included an “incentive” for the seller. In summary, the offer said the seller could stay at the property for 5 weekends a year at no cost!
Summer is over, which means the temperatures are already cooling off. And while there’s no guarantee, it looks like the housing market may cool along with it—at least slightly.
According to a recent article from realtor.com, many experts expect that, while the fall buying season will be competitive, it won’t be quite as frenzied as the spring or summer.
One indicator supporting that projection is the pace of price growth. According to the article, the national median home price hit $385,000 the week ending August 14 (the highest on record). That price represented a 8.2 percent increase year over year—a definite increase in price, but significantly less than the 17.2 percent increase from April 2020 to April 2021. Inventory is also starting to increase (according to data from the National Association of REALTORS®,1.32 million homes were available for sale in July 2021—a 7.3 increase from June)—and the more inventory is available in the fall, the easier the home search process will be for buyers.
So, what does this mean for you? There’s no denying that fall is shaping up to be a competitive season for real estate—but with slowing price growth and increasing inventory, it could prove to be less competitive than it has been for quite a while.
As we enter September 2021, the Mammoth Lakes real estate market continues to be hot seller’s market. What does that mean? Simply put, it means there are more buyers than sellers. The difference I see today as compared to the last few months is buyers are getting tired. Buyer fatigue is caused by losing out more than once in multiple offer situations. Many buyers have decided to take a break and re-enter the market at a later time. This could be seen as good news for both buyers and sellers. For buyers, there are fewer people competing for the same few properties. The good news for sellers is inventory is nowhere near normal levels so if your property is priced right, there are still buyers looking.
This article highlights the numbers you need to know about the Mammoth Lakes real estate market, what it means if you are thinking about buying or selling, and where to get help moving toward your real estate goals this year.
What’s Happening in the Mammoth Lakes Real Estate Market?
It is helpful to look at the current market in two different segments: single family homes and condos/townhomes. This data is through the end of August 2021.
Mammoth Lakes Condos
- The YTD median sales price for condos through August 31, 2021 is $599,000 which is up approximately 1% over last month and up 26% over 2020.
- The median days on market is 51 days which is down 16 days from 2020. This time period begins on the day the property is listed and ends when it closes escrow.
- 305 condos have closed escrow through August 31 (average of 38.1 per month) as compared to 2020 where 442 condos sold (average of 36.83 per month).
- There are 27 active condos listed for sale as of September 1 as compared to 41 last month.
- There are 75 pending sales which is the same as the previous month.
Mammoth Lakes Single Family Homes
- The YTD median sales price for single family homes through August 2021is is $1,227,500 which is down 6% over the previous month and up 40% over 2020.
- The median days on market is 60 days which is down 22 days from 2020. This time period begins on the day the property is listed and ends when it closes escrow.
- 92 single family homes have closed escrow through August 31 (average of 11.5 per month) as compared to 2020 where 133 sold (average of 11.08 per month).
- There are 21 active single-family homes listed for sale on September 1 which is two more than last month.
- There are 19 pending sales as compared to 20 last month.
What Does This Mean for Mammoth Lakes Area Homeowners and Sellers?
If priced right, properties are selling quickly in Mammoth Lakes area. Note the median days on market for sold properties includes the entire escrow period (30 days on average). As the numbers indicate, this is a great time to sell. No one can predict how long this seller’s market will last. The inventory levels have not increased as expected keeping competition high for the few active listings. If you are even remotely thinking about selling, contact me for a free consultation and evaluation of your property. This will include a recommendation for pricing as well as suggestions for preparing your property for sale. I am reminding sellers that just because this is a seller’s market, we still need to price right. The properties that price slightly below the current market value are receiving multiple over list price offers. The properties that are priced too high are just sitting with no showings and no offers. Not to be harsh, although it is a great time to sell it is not a time to be greedy.
What Does This Mean for Mammoth Lakes Area Home Buyers?
With such low inventory available in Mammoth Lakes, buyers need to be ready to act quickly when they find a property they are interested in. Do you have your financials in order? Do you need a pre-approval letter? I can connect you with lenders who have a proven track record of success in our area. Many buyers do not know that not all lenders can lend in certain projects in Mammoth Lakes. I can help you increase your chances of securing the property of your dreams in this tough market so reach out to me for a free consultation to set you on the right path for achieving your goal of owning property in Mammoth Lakes.
Many have asked if the real estate market is going to crash. Specifically, how is today’s market different than the one that caused the 2008 meltdown. Check out my blog post which directly addresses this question.
Whether you are a seller or a buyer, there is no doubt you will benefit from teaming with an educated and experienced Realtor® to help you navigate this hot market. I have created guides to help with both the buying and selling process. You can access the guides on my website:
Ultimate Mammoth Lakes Sellers Guide
Ultimate Mammoth Lakes Buyers Guide
- All data are sourced from the Mammoth Lakes Board of Realtors. Data for Mammoth Lakes ONLY and not the surrounding areas.
- *Median price = middle value. This is used as a good indicator when there is significant data as it minimizes the impact of unusually high or low values and provides a better perspective of the big picture.
- **Total Available excludes properties under contract/pending which have not yet closed.
Download the September market update.