Louisville Real Estate News

Oct. 16, 2018

Fall 2018 Louisville Home Price Update

To watch the full length video, click here.

 

Friends and Clients —

 

If you've been thinking of selling your home, you'll want to keep reading.

 

That's because this message will show you how to get a significant advantage over a lot of other home sellers around Louisville.

 

I'll explain how in just a second. But first, let me give you a bit of background on the current conditions in the Louisville housing market:

 

1. Mortgage rates have hit a 7-year high.

 

Several weeks ago, the 30-year fixed mortgage rate broke through the 4.6%-mark, the highest level since May 2011.

 

This is part of an ongoing upward trend in mortgage rates, which started over a year ago.

 

The thing is, in spite of the rate increase, mortgage applications spiked in September. This is a signal that buyers expect rates to go up even more in the near future—something that's very well possible given current conditions.

 

2. Affordability is dropping, and demand might soon follow.

 

For the past several years, home prices have increased at twice the speed of inflation.

 

For a while, this didn't have too much of an effect on the market, because there was so much pent-up demand.

 

However, the continued price growth and the mortgage rate hikes might finally be getting to buyers.

 

Affordability is suffering—an estimate from early summer put current home affordability levels at a 10-year low.

 

This seems to be causing demand to soften as well. For example, the number of people requesting home tours has fallen by 6.1%, according to one measure this summer.

 

3. More home sellers are reducing prices.

 

Not surprisingly, the combination of sustained high prices, increasing mortgage rates, and a drop in demand is finally starting to have an impact on the real estate market.

 

While there are still no major signs of a real estate slowdown yet, there are some worrying indicators.

 

Crucially, more sellers are now reducing prices. More than a quarter of homes listed as of September 16 had a price drop.

 

What does this all mean for you?

 

In short, if you've been thinking of selling your home, then the time to act is now.

 

In spite of the easing of demand, there are still many hungry buyers on the market and prices remain near all-time highs.

 

This means you can sell your home quickly and for top dollar. However, all of the reasons I listed earlier mean this situation might not hold very long.

 

Demand might slack off even more, and then many more homeowners might decide to enter the market, driving down prices and really ushering in a buyer's market.

 

That's why it can make a lot of sense to move early—before this kind of awareness reaches the majority of homeowners.

 

If you are considering selling, you can get started now by getting an idea of what your home is worth in the current market. Simply try out this home value calculator, which is based on recent Louisville sales:

 

And once you are ready to get the process rolling (so you can take advantage of this opportune moment), give me a call at 502-220-4663. I'm here to help.

 

To watch the full length video, click here.

 

Have a great day,

 

The Todd Martin Group

 

Oct. 16, 2018

Are We Entering a Buyer's Market?

  

 

Friends and clients —

 

The tide might be turning. After several years of continuous price gains, the real estate market seems to be reaching its price cap.

 

In June, the last month for which we have complete numbers, 14% of all listings saw a price cut. That's up from a low of 11.7% at the end of 2016.

 

Several other statistics support the idea of an emerging buyer’s market.

 

In the same month, housing demand fell 9.6%, the largest decline in over two years.

 

Unsurprisingly, the number of people requesting home tours has fallen by 6.1%. Mortgage applications to purchase a home have decreased as well.

 

A few things are at play here. One is rising mortgage rates, which have been steadily climbing for much of this year. Another is an overall decrease in affordability, resulting from a combination of the growth in home prices and mortgage rates.

 

There’s another important thing I should point out: If this is the start of a buyer's market, it's unlikely to be just a momentary blip.

 

One sign of this is that homebuilder sentiment has recently fallen to the lowest point in almost a year. In other words, homebuilders are losing confidence in their business, due to the aforementioned affordability concerns.

 

So what does this mean for you?

 

Well, it's certainly good news if you're looking to buy, because it means you will have more choice at more affordable prices.

 

To some extent, this is already visible in the Louisville area market. Several great homes have recently come up for sale at very reasonable prices.

 

On the other hand, if you've been thinking of selling, this might mean that it’s time to act. Listing your home now would give you the best odds of achieving a top price before the sea change in the market occurs.

 

And remember that all real estate is local. There are big differences even within the Louisville area, and prices can change from block to block.

 

If you want more specific information about the Louisville market, or you're mulling over the idea of buying or selling a home, give me a call at 502-220-4663. I'm here to help.

 

Have a great day,

 

The Todd Martin Group

Aug. 13, 2018

These Staging Tips Could Be Your Ticket to Earning Top Dollar

  

I recently took some time to transform my workspace in order to show you just how powerful staging can be.

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Staging is an extremely effective way to boost your success when selling a home. Why? Well, not only does it create a great first impression, but it also helps buyers imagine themselves living in the property. The way your home appears will have a huge influence on how buyers perceive it. This sounds obvious, but it’s even more important than you might think.

 

For example, if you were to look at my desk, you might get the impression that I’m not particularly organized. However, since I wanted to show you all the difference you can make with some simple decluttering, I decided to change that. Just check out the before and after at 1:10 in the video above to see for yourself.

 

As you’ll see from my own work space transformation, putting things in their place can totally turn a room around. Obviously, a home is a little different than a desk, but the same ideas apply. A clean, well-organized space will always be more appealing than a cluttered one.

 

Staging your home may require a little more effort than tidying my desk did, but doing so will be your ticket to earning top dollar for your listing. Giving your walls a fresh coat of neutral paint, for example, can add a lot of value.

It’s also a good idea to rearrange your furniture to maximize space, clear off your countertops, and open up blinds to let in natural light. These steps will make your listing look bright, neat, and spacious.

That said, a cleanly, attractive property will only get you so far. It’s crucial that you also remove personal items that might impede buyers from envisioning themselves in the home. When it comes time to list, you need to start thinking of your property as the buyer’s next home, rather than your own.

You’ll need to invest a little sweat equity into making your home look its best. And, in some cases, hiring a professional to take your listing to the next level can be extremely helpful. You don’t need to go overboard, but the money and work you put into your listing will be a reflection of what you can hope to get out of it.

If you have any other questions or would like more information, feel free to give me a call or send me an email. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Posted in Seller Tips
July 31, 2018

What Buyers, Sellers, and Homeowners Need to Know About Home Warranties

  

Home warranties can be a massive asset to any homeowner, so today I’ll be answering some of the most common questions buyers and sellers ask me about these important policies.

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Home warranty plans are the topic of many questions I receive from buyers and sellers alike, and so today I want to answer just a few of the most important.

 

First, who is responsible for paying the home warranty?

 

Actually, this depends on your location. However, this can be negotiated. It often is something sellers pay for because they know the price and it is often already included into their portion of the deal. Some sellers might not think it’s necessary, but the reality is that most buyers, especially first-time buyers, will be interested in securing a home warranty.

 

The reason first-time buyers, in particular, tend to gravitate toward such a policy is that it offers them protection. In general, their lack of experience with homeownership means they are less informed about what responsibilities and expenses may appear. This makes the certainty associated with a home warranty quite attractive.

 

The second question buyers and sellers tend to ask is: How much does a home warranty plan cost?

Home warranty policies can cost anywhere between $300 and $600, but additional expenses can apply if add-ons, such as coverage for a pool or spa, are included. Things like extra refrigerators can also add to the cost. The important thing is that you closely examine any policy and find out what it does and doesn’t cover, so that you have a comprehensive understanding of what you are paying for.

Next: How does a home warranty work?

Basically, a home warranty is like an on-call handyman. Imagine that you wake up one morning, go to take a shower, and discover that you only have cold water. This nasty surprise can be made more tolerable if the underlying issue can be taken care of through your home warranty. To get such problems resolved, you will either call a 1-800 number or a local number, depending on your provider, to explain what has happened. After this, a licensed contractor (in this case, a plumber) will be contacted and sent out to assess your problem.

Depending on your plan, your deductible could be $75 to $100. Meaning that, in the worst case scenario, you just paid a plumber $75 to relight your pilot light. But in the best case scenario, you just paid $75 for a hot water heater. As this example demonstrates, a home warranty plan can save you thousands. Many choose to renew their coverage year after year because of the value it provides them over time, especially because these policies tend to cover what would otherwise be major expenses.

Of course, your choice of home warranty company matters. When shopping around, one thing you may want to look out for is whether the policy offers a hotel stay in the event of a major issue. Asking your Realtors which one they’ve used successfully in the past will be essential.

When you find a policy that suits your need, lifestyle, home, and budget, you will be able to rest easy knowing that you’re covered in case of an unexpected misfortune. But while it is important to look at what a policy includes, it is also crucial that you pay close attention to any exclusions or limitations. You should read the entire contract before settling on any company.

Finally, in addition to researching the various home warranty companies you consider, you should also examine the current level of wear and tear on the home your policy will apply to. Even small issues can become huge headaches if they go unaddressed for too long.

If you have any other questions or would like more information, feel free to give me a call or send me an email. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

June 27, 2018

A Message of Thanks to Those Who Have Fought for the Stars and Stripes

  

As we celebrate this Independence Day, please keep gratitude in your hearts for all our nation’s veterans and active duty service members. I’d like to share my own message of thanks today.

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"Only July 4, 1776, our Founding Fathers declared America’s independence from British rule." The declaration they penned on that historic day has, for centuries since, remained a symbol of the values toward which our nation must strive.

 

As was written all those many years ago:“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

 

I hope, therefore, that this Fourth of July you will take time to reflect on these words, and also on the privileges our nation’s citizens have been afforded by those who have fought to defend them.

 

I myself am a military veteran of 26 years, and my sister recently retired from 20 years of active duty in the United States Marine Corps. As such, I thought it would be interesting to give you a glimpse into her retirement ceremony. You can see clips from that prestigious event in the video above.

I have included these clips so as to provide you with a view into our nation’s proud military traditions. The history, symbols, customs, and values of the various branches of our country’s military are too extensive to encapsulate completely, but I hope that, through this brief glimpse into my sister’s ceremony, you will feel as inspired as I was.

And as military veterans, my sister and I account for just two among the multitudes of service men and women who have served under the red, white, and blue in defense of our nation’s independence. So on this Fourth of July, let us all extend our gratitude to those, past and present, who have served and made sacrifices for our country.

It is thanks to America’s brave service members that we, to this day, retain the freedom to enjoy our rights. With this in mind, I ask you to show your pride, independence, and support for our country this Fourth of July. Please raise and fly our great flag high, so that all who see it can remember that within those colors lies the spirit of our values.

With that said, I would love to offer special acknowledgment to anyone in your life who has served our nation. If you or anyone you know are a veteran or an active duty service member, please let me know. Happy Fourth of July!

And, as always, if I can assist in your real estate needs or answer any questions you may have, feel free to give me a call or send me an email. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Posted in Happy Holidays
June 26, 2018

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June 21, 2018

4 Home Renovation Tips to Successfully Transform Your Home This Summer

  

With the summer real estate market heating up, some people are opting to renovate their properties as opposed to selling altogether. Today I will discuss four tips to keep in mind if you plan to take on this kind of project.

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The lazy days of summer are here and our Louisville real estate market has been a little crazy lately. While some are taking this chance to make their move into a new home, others I have spoken to have said they would rather stay put.

 

For those of you who have decided on this latter option, realize that you can still achieve a change in scenery without a change of home. How? Through home renovations. But be careful taking on these kinds of projects. Don’t nickel-and-dime yourself. Be strategic when choosing and executing your home renovations, instead.

 

There are several things you can do to make your current home feel brand new without breaking the bank, and today I would like to share a few of these tips.

 

1. Financially vet your project. Before making any renovations to your home, it is important that you do your research into whether it will be worth it. One way to look into what kind of return to expect from a project is by looking over the National Association of Realtors’ Remodeling Impact Report. You can find that report here.

 

If you do find that the returns will be worth it, do some comparison shopping before settling on a contractor to complete the job. Kitchen and bathroom remodels are very popular and can pay off in the long run, but can also quickly amass a significant bill. While you should not go overboard, you should also not settle for the absolute cheapest option. The key is striking a balance between what you will pay upfront and what long-term benefits you will reap down the line.

 

 

2. Properly vet the contractor. After meeting and consulting with a contractor, you should always ask them for references. This will help demonstrate their trustworthiness as well as their skill level. Also, make sure the references you get are from people who hired this contractor for the same project as what you are planning. Beyond that, you also must make sure that the contractor is licensed and insured. Ask for a copy of their policy so that you can have peace of mind in the event that something goes wrong. This will be critical because if disaster did happen to strike over the course of your project, you do not want to be left to foot the bill.

It is also a good idea to ask contractors if they belong to any professional associations, such as the Homebuilders Association, or if they have any additional licenses or organizations that they are affiliated with.

And I always recommend Google searching any contractor you are thinking of working with. Not everything we read online is true, but online reviews can provide key insight into what kind of service you can expect from such professionals.

Finally, you must be comfortable asking contractors specific questions when vetting them for the job of your home remodel project. If they happen to be less expensive than another professional but are offering more extensive services, you must ask them how they’re able to do so. Always compare contractors by looking at “apples to apples” to what they offer.

3. Be careful paying up front. Contractors can easily be motivated by money, so providing the entire payment before work has begun could lead to unsatisfactory results. After all, with all financial incentives taken out of the equation, what is left to drive the expediency of their work? Of course, certain supplies must be paid for before work can begin, but this can be negotiated as you go. I always recommend paying for goods and services after you receive them, even if you choose to pay in installments for specific aspects of the project over time. Contractors should be able to afford to do the project for you.

4. Make sure you are doing the right project. As I mentioned earlier, the project you take on has got to make sense. If a renovation is not set to bring you adequate returns, I would advise against taking it on. I would be happy to help provide you with a market analysis and discuss your options if you are thinking of renovating in the near future.

If you have any other questions, would like more information, or you or someone you know is interested in buying, selling, or investing in real estate, please feel free to give me a call or send me an email. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

May 25, 2018

2 Great Strategies for Buying and Selling Simultaneously in Louisville

  

Today we’ve got a few different strategies for handling a common real estate dilemma: Needing to buy and sell at the same time.

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Today I’m here to share some important information with homeowners and potential homebuyers here in Louisville. I’m going to focus on those of you who need to sell a property, but are also looking to buy a property at the same time. It’s a common occurrence, but it’s also a common headache that can be easily solved.

 

Inventory is tight in the Louisville market right now. Many people in this situation have one big fear: being homeless. You’ve got a nice house that will most likely sell quickly, but you aren't sure how quickly you’ll be able to find a new home and you don’t want to be stuck in the middle. This is a fairly common situation. There are two methods that we use to allow you to purchase a home prior to selling it. I’m going to detail them both for you today.

 

The first method you can utilize is a bridge loan. A bridge loan essentially bridges your two properties together, as its name implies. That gives you just one payment for both properties. Once you sell your original home, you can take that money, turn it over to the bridge loan, then refinance into a traditional mortgage. It might seem complicated, but it’s pretty traditional and pretty easy to do. We know from experience because we’ve been able to use this method plenty in the past.

 

 

The second method involves taking equity out of your home (or a home equity line of credit) to use to purchase another home. I have clients who have been in their home for quite a while with great equity positions. Even if you don’t have quite enough equity at the time to fully fund your purchase, you can borrow money against the equity in your home. This is known as a HELOC, or home equity line of credit.

However, there is a caveat here: You can not have your house on your market when you apply for this line of credit. Banks don’t like to loan on short-term investments. They would much rather have you pay a lot of money over a long period of time.

If you want to put together a plan, here’s what you should do. The first step is to apply for the HELOC, take that out, and put it in a checking account. When you find the perfect property, you may be able to apply that amount to the purchase. If you have enough cash, you can pay cash for the home and then put your home on the market. Once you sell the house, you can start paying off the HELOC, which basically becomes a second mortgage on your home. The beauty of the HELOC is that you don’t have to start paying for it until you use it.

With these two strategies, you can find the home of your dreams without having to worry about being homeless or paying for two mortgages at once. If you have any questions about either of these methods, your personal situation, or about the Louisville real estate market in general, don’t hesitate to give me a call or send me an email anytime. I would love to hear from you.

Feb. 16, 2018

Avoid Doing These 6 Things When Searching for Your Home

  

Starting your home search is an exciting process, but there are six specific mistakes that you must avoid making if you want to close on your dream home.

 

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Here are the six things you must never ever do when searching for a home. Committing just one of these mistakes can possibly ruin your home purchase.

 

1. Don’t start without a Realtor. This is first on the list because it’s arguably the most important. A Realtor will have your best interests in mind. Plus, the Realtor you choose will sit you down, show you the whole home search process, and explain how it works. It’s a little bit more involved than going to a car dealership and one of the salesman saying, “Let me talk to the manager and see if I can get that price knocked down for you.” There are many steps to follow, and you want someone who has your best interests at heart involved with you.


2. Don’t deal with an online lending service or a lender who isn’t local. Make sure you deal with a local lender. I know those online lending services can look awfully nice and they can promise a lot of things, but if something goes wrong awry on the 11th hour prior to you closing on your loan and getting your dream house, you’re stuck trying to dial an 800 number instead of being able to walk into an office, look your lender in the eye, and telling them there’s a problem that needs to be fixed.

 

 

3. Don’t lowball every offer. If you’re looking at properties priced between $200,000 and $300,000, don’t think that you’ll get one of those properties for $50,000 off. You need the seller to work with you throughout the sale of the house, including during the inspection phase, so it’s a bad idea to offend them with a lowball offer.


4. Don’t underestimate your budget. If you talk to a local lender who approves you for up to $200,000 but you tell your Realtor that you’re only interested in looking at homes around $115,000 and $125,000, that’s a huge difference in price range. This means you’ll see homes with different amenities in different locations, and you might not find a home with the amenities you like in a location you desire, and vice versa. Be financially feasible and understand what you want. Talk to your Realtor and your financial provider and work out a plan that works with your budget.

 

 

5. Don’t forget the closing costs and prepaids. These are things that can be negotiated (see rule No. 1), and you need to understand what it will cost you prior to actually closing on your home. Closing costs and prepaids can qualify as their own topic, so if you have any questions regarding them, don’t hesitate to reach out to me.

 

6. Don’t make any large purchases prior to purchasing your home. It’s a toss-up between this rule and rule No. 1 as far as which is most important. Not making any large purchases means, among other things, no purchasing of any cars or any car leases. Also, don’t co-sign anything for anybody because, financially, you’re the one that’s on the hook. Once you qualify for a loan and start searching for a house, you’ll get all sorts of things in the mail. Put those aside and ask your Realtor and/or financial provider about them so you know what you’re getting into. A large purchase can disrupt your home buying plans, so ask questions before you move forward.

 

If you have any more questions about how to conduct your home search or you or anyone you know is thinking about buying, selling, or investing in real estate, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We’d love to help you.

 

Posted in Buyer Tips
Jan. 23, 2018

7 Reasons to List Your Home This Winter

  

Winter is an amazing time of year to sell your home. Today, I’d like to share seven reasons why that is.

 

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Too often, people believe that they need to wait until the cold weather is gone before they make their move in the market. Today, I’m here to bring you seven reasons you shouldn’t wait for the ground to thaw before you hammer in that For Sale sign.

 

1. Less inventory equals more attention. Serious buyers are out in full force at this time of year, and there are far fewer homes for them to look at than during other times of the year. This means that your home has a great opportunity to stand out. So, make sure it does. Remember, you can’t sell something that isn’t for sale.

 

 

2. Job relocation. When companies move their employees around, they like to schedule these relocations during the first quarter of the fiscal year. Only during winter months will you have a chance to capture these buyers. If you wait until spring to list your home, you will miss your chance to work with these highly motivated buyers.

 

3. Locked-in Realtors. Agents who are representing buyers at this time of year are definitely going to want to see your property. Don’t miss your opportunity to take advantage of the high levels of buyer interest you’ll see in the winter. Since there are fewer homes for sale and higher buyer demand, you have a good chance of getting multiple offers on your home.

 

 

4. No landscaping? No problem. Winter is an easy time to show your property. During winter, you don’t need to worry about spending hours on mowing the lawn or trimming the bushes. Let the elements take care of all of that. As long as your home looks clean and presentable, you’re good to go.

 

5. Lighter square foot. There are fewer buyers during this time of year, which means fewer people will be coming through your home. Of course, as I mentioned in the first point, the buyers that will be looking at your home are more serious and attentive. Although, you may have fewer showings, the showings you do have will be of higher quality.

 

6. Faster sales. Usually during the winter, the transaction will move more quickly. Loan officers and other people you’ll work with won’t be juggling as many transactions as they would be at other times of the year. This means that all the focus will be on you and your sale will probably move more quickly.

 

 

7. Higher price. Winter’s lack of inventory and high level of serious buyers means you will likely be able to get a better deal than during other times of the year. Typically, you’ll earn at or above your list price.

 

If you have any other questions or would like more information, feel free to give me a call or send me an email. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Posted in Seller Tips