ALERT!  HOW TO NAVIGATE TODAY’S REAL ESTATE MARKET

Boomers:  To Buy or Sell, That is the Question

8 Very Helpful Tips if You’re Buying

10 Very Helpful Tips if You’re Selling

Whether you’re buying or selling, reach out and make it happen. Photo by Miki Czetti (Pexels)

So what’s the verdict, is the red-hot seller’s market finally trending in the opposite direction, or at least balancing out.  From all indications, it appears that is true and perhaps the market can even be slipping into a buyer’s market.  

With this in mind, in my last blog with the same heading, we primarily focused on selling your house and what you needed to know and do to differentiate your home so you could be successful in your venture.

Today’s market is definitely cooling down and here is what you need to know in order to navigate, whether you’re buying or selling.

The key to your new home, or the key to their new home. Photo by RODNAE Productions (Pexels)

Asking prices continue their monthly climb, in fact for 32 straight weeks according to Realtor.com.  However, as they cautiously point out, “these high prices are just that, an ask.”  And buyers just aren’t jumping at these high prices and embarking on multiple offers like they did a number of months ago.  As a result, sellers are sitting on their properties longer realizing they might have missed the peak of the market.  

Adding fuel to the fire mortgage rates climbed to 5.8% at the end of June, but fortunately dropped to just under 5% due to weakened demand.  Keep in mind, it wasn’t that long ago when such rates were well below 1%.  “Today’s unfavorable mortgage rates have been increasingly cited by consumers as a top reason behind the growing perception that it’s a bad time to buy, as well as a bad time to sell a home.”  Also, the Fed continues to raise interest rates in their attempt to curb the highest inflation in over 40 years, attempting to dampen American’s desire to spend and borrow.  

The end result is an overall market sentiment slide to a decade-plus low.  According to Redfin’s CEO Glenn Kelman, elevated borrowing costs caused nearly 60,000 home purchase agreements to fall through, or roughly 15% of homes that went under contract in June 2022.  The good news according to Kelman is that our current market, with all its structural elements in place, is not even close to the bottom we witnessed back in 2008.  

One trend is happening for sure.  Buyers are more flexible in where they will locate.  For example, one buyer of note went from Nashville to Miami, when Nashville’s prices zoomed out of reach.  They left the high prices in Miami in favor of Tampa and then settled in Arkansas, where the climate is still moderate and home prices are quite reasonable.  Many buyers and especially Boomers, whether retired or not, have relocated to Mexico because they can—they can work from anywhere.  

Once again, I am not a real estate agent nor professional, but I have bought and sold homes all over this fine country and know a little bit about positioning.  My following comments and helpful tips are based on my experiences.  They are for everyone, but in particular our baby boomer friends and readers who are deliberating the buy/sell paradox.

If you’re a buyer:

Know before you sign on the dotted line. Photo by Antoni Shkraba (Pexels)
  • Keep a close eye on the mortgage rates for the day because even the slightest uptick can mean qualifying or not with your lender, if you go that route. 
  • If you’re a cash buyer, your ability to negotiate just increased, not only on price, but access to the property, close of escrow, required improvements due to the inspection report, agreement on what is left behind (furniture, artwork, rugs, appliances, etc.) and what is packed away and removed, just to name a few.   
  • Decide on what you’re willing to accept in the way of lifestyle, for example, –cold, snowy winters vs hot humid summers vs a milder climate, 

–whether the state in question has a state income tax or not, 

–local property taxes can be a huge determining factor, 

–HOA monthly and annual dues, 

–orientation of the house (north, south, east or west), 

–accessible, affordable and high-quality health care (a biggie for us boomers), 

–available infrastructure and amenities such as grocery shopping, Costco, Home Depot, etc. and the relative driving distance to and from,

–do you need to be near the water for recreational activities, or do you wish to be on a golf course, or a gated community,

–high risk areas for flooding, wild-fires, tornadoes, hurricanes, etc.,

–noise pollution such as near an airport, flight path, train track, or freeway,

–I would highly recommend having access to a commercial airport (perhaps 30-45 minutes away), and last but not least, 

–what kind of community activities will make it a best fit.

  • Unless you’re dead set on the community and state you wish to move, perhaps it might be wise to have an option or two in mind should one simply not work out or be to your ultimate liking.
  • To that end, check with the internet on “best” places to live and retire.  Who knows, you might fall in love with an area that you had never considered.
  • Regardless of your destination, be ready to get new documents and set-ups such as driver’s license, automobile registrations, Medicare, Social Security, telephone, waste management, utilities, cable or other, and alert your old practitioner to forward all your pertinent information to your new healthcare provider(s).  Wow, that’s a lot of work.  Put together a check list to make the task much more manageable.  
  • If you’re thinking about buying out of the country, check the local laws about ownership and taxes.  Know your risks and rewards.  Dust off your passport and visit before you buy.
Be prepared for the remodel if it comes to that. Photo by Rene Asmussen (Pexels)
  • One of the main considerations is the amount of “fixer-upper” work your purchased home will require, above and beyond the purchase price.  Even if your home is brand spanking new, there is likely to be some improvements you want made.  Know your market, product supply availability and labor costs before you plunk down your signature on closing.  Or if you’re handy, you can probably do some of the work yourself, but definitely rely on the experts for the heavy lifting such as permitting, local building and retrofit codes, foundations, pool and hardscape, additions, plumbing, electrical, environmental, solar, etc.  It might serve you well to get several contractor and/or subcontractor names before you enter into a contract, then present your plans and discuss their rate and availability estimates. Both will determine your move-in date.

If you’re the seller:

  • Be sure to check with your tax consultant to determine the extent to which you will be taxed on the income of your sale;
  • That will determine your “net” investment available if you’re in the market to buy after you sell;
  • The days of sitting back and taking multiple offers on above “ask” are pretty much over, so you need to differentiate yourself from the pack (your neighborhood) where comps will help determine pricing.  Refer back to the last blog for 13 helpful tips on what to do to set yourself apart from the maddening crowd.  It’s fairly straightforward but does require some diligence and forethought.  
Get good strong boxes for your packing job. Photo by Karolina Grabowska (Pexels)
  • In my opinion, it’s always better to pack yourself.  You can pretty much guarantee your fragile items will be packed carefully, and the main thing is labelling every box more than once with the appropriate contents and marking FRAGILE where needed.   
You can never have enough boxes. Start collecting your boxes early, collapse them, and store them in your garage or basement. You can find used boxes for sale at huge discounts from people who have already moved. Be sure to have plenty of packing tape and labelling pens. Photo by SHVETS Production (Pexels)
  • Take photos.  A picture is worth, well you know, a thousand words.  Photos before, during and loading.  This is vitally important in the event you need to make an insurance claim.  It can happen.  
Enough said, be overly prepared by taking photos of everything, including loading and unloading. Photo by ATC Comm Photo (Pexels)
  • If you sell your home through a real estate company, they will assuredly have all the proper, legal and binding paperwork on your behalf.  Clearly understand the amount of commission the real estate company is taking off the top of your sale—it will be off the gross negotiated sale price, and normally this is something to which you have agreed upon before listing.
  • If you choose to sell your home yourself, which I have done a number of times, find a good real estate attorney.  You may need to have one or two  mortgage company names on hand and have them assist you in the draft and closing documents.  It’s simple and a great way to save $$$–no real estate commissions.
  • One factor often overlooked when selling and clearing out your home is the need for storage until such time as you can place all your belongings.  You had better make arrangements in advance in order to be assured of having storage space—it is at a premium these days and very difficult to come by.  You definitely don’t want to be paying for the high cost of a moving company storing your goods.  I had to do that once when we moved from the Pacific Northwest to northern California with ABF Moving and Storage.  We weren’t quite ready to unload, so they were kind enough to allow us to store our belongings in the trailer which was parked in their storage lot, but unfortunately we had to pay through the nose until we could finally move in.
Get on the good side with your moving company; they need to be your friends. Photo by Artem Podrez (Pexels)
  • Be sure to factor in the cost of relocation and moving.  I don’t care if you’re using United Van Lines or Three Men and a College Student, I can guarantee you it is exceedingly more expensive today than it was pre-pandemic.   And who furnishes the truck with all the padding and lift accessories???  And all those extraneous costs???  IMPORTANT—make certain you ask if this is a split load because that’s when things get lost, or you get items that don’t belong to you. Stay away from split loads! 
  • Be present when the loading and unloading occurs.  These are your belongings and be present and stay in control.

All of these are just suggestions from what I have experienced in my days with my corporate BoomerGuy moving around the country.  It was an absolutely great way to see the USA, but it came with a lot of work and preparation.  Note to self:  be prepared whether you’re buying or selling.

In addition to last week’s blog, I trust you found this information helpful and enlightening.  

Your Number One BoomerGal, Connie

Editorial contribution from Gabriella Cruz-Martinez Yahoo Finance, and

Judy Dutton Realtor.com News and Trends

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