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For the third consecutive year, most homeowners across Bexar County have opened their annual tax appraisal notices to find that their property values — and thus probably their tax bite — have gone up.
Bexar County Appraisal District officials said this week that residential real estate values have risen an average of 7.5 percent, compared with 2015, which comes on the heels of an 11 percent jump last year and a 7 percent rise in 2014. That’s a three-year tax jolt that generally mirrors the reheated San Antonio housing market.
The average market value for a single-family house in Bexar County was $188,000 for this year.
WASHINGTON — U.S. home sales rebounded in December after new regulations delayed the completion of purchases in November. And total sales in 2015 were the most in nine years.
The National Association of Realtors said Friday that sales of existing homes climbed 14.7 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.46 million, the highest annual sales total since 2006.
“This is a great way to cap off 2015,” said Jennifer Lee, a senior economist at BMO Capital Markets.
Before last month’s rebound, sales had plummeted as the industry adapted to new mortgage disclosure rules — a temporary downturn before delayed sales were finalized in December. In October, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau introduced guidelines for informing homebuyers about interest rates and fees for their mortgages.
Americans bought roughly 5.26 million homes in 2015, a 6.5 percent increase over 2014. The median sales price rose 6.8 percent to $222,400. Steady job growth and low mortgages drew more buyers into the market, causing both sales and prices to climb.
Realtors are forecasting that sales will stay flat in 2016 and that the median price will rise more than 4 percent. A price increase that big would compound a problem for many would-be buyers: A rising proportion of homes are unaffordable. Home values rose last year at more than twice the pace of pay.
Despite greater demand, the housing market continues to recover slowly from the bursting of the housing bubble more than eight years ago. Sales remain well below their peak of 7.08 million in 2005, when adjustable-rate mortgages with no money down and other risky loans fueled a buying frenzy that eventually fizzled and triggered the worst downturn since the Great Depression.
More traditional buyers returned to the market last year as cash investors pulled back. But the number of listings shrank, giving those shopping for a home fewer options and causing prices to rise.
The number of listings on the market fell 3.8 percent from a year ago. Many current homeowners are unable to sell their properties for enough of a profit to afford another home, causing them to stay on the sidelines. With available homes in short supply, more would-be buyers are stuck renting. The share of homeowners has slipped to 63.7 percent from a high of 69.2 percent in 2004.
There was good news for renters: Home rental price growth turned tame in December — a sign that a burst of new apartment construction last year may be relieving cost pressures.
Real estate data firm Zillow said Friday that median rent rose a seasonally adjusted 3.3 percent from a year ago. The median rent nationwide has held steady at $1,381 a month since August, after having previously surged dramatically above the pace of wage growth.
In several major markets, median rents barely budged over the past year. Rents edged up just 0.4 percent in Chicago, 1.8 percent in Philadelphia and 1.6 in St. Louis. Even hot markets such as Denver have retreated from annual gains that just two months ago were in the double digits.
New construction has helped temper price growth in many of these markets. The government reported Wednesday that the completion of multifamily housing — which includes apartments — surged 20.6 percent last year to 308,300 buildings.
“Builders and landlords have been saying they need to give up a bunch more concessions now because more units are available,” said Svenja Gudell, chief economist at Zillow, adding that apartment buildings in Denver are even offering free parking spaces to entice potential renters.
Rents had been appreciating at double the pace of incomes for much of 2015. But they’re now starting to pull closer together.
Average hourly earnings have risen 2.5 percent from a year ago to $25.24, the Labor Department said earlier this month. Zillow forecasts that rents will rise just 1.1 percent in 2016 to $1,396 a month, a major deceleration from recent years.
Housing affordability has emerged as a growing economic concern. More than half of all renters spent at least 30 percent of their income on rent in 2014, a level the federal government deems financially burdensome. The risk of rising rents is that they may limit down payment savings and delay homeownership.
New Home Sales Up in San Antonio
More San Antonians are buying new homes than they were a year ago, but the prices of new homes are getting more expensive, according to new data released by Metrostudy, a national home construction researcher.
In the 12 months ending in September, 9,266 homes were closed on — a 10 percent increase from the same period a year ago.
“It’s just the growth in the market,” said Jack Inselmann, director of Metrostudy’s San Antonio region. “The start pace goes up, you start that many more homes and finish them and close them.”
Home starts — or poured slabs — are up 5 percent from a year ago. In the 12 months ending in September, homebuilders began 9,397 units. In the third quarter alone, 2,718 home starts were recorded, the highest start pace so far this year. More of the homes being built, however, are at the higher price points.
New homes priced $200,000 to $300,000 dominated the local market in the 12 months ending in September. Meanwhile, starter homes priced $150,000 and less have dwindled to 115 starts. In 2003, Inselmann has told the Express-News before, homes in the $150,000-and-less price range dominated the market at 63 percent.
But for-profit and nonprofit builders have said the rising cost of building new homes — mostly tied to the layers of government regulations over the years — is responsible for the drop in the construction of starter homes.
In the third quarter, developers finished 2,700 new lots. firstname.lastname@example.org
Home Buyer Trends
According to a 2015 National Association of Realtors study that looked at generational housing trends, millennials, those born between 1980 and 2000, make up the largest segment of the buyer market, ahead of even Generation X, which covers those born between 1965 and 1979.
Together, these two generations represent today’s young buyers, and broadly speaking, they tend to fall into one of two categories, says Margie Gundersheim, a real estate agent with Keller Williams in Newton, Massachusetts.
“They’re young professionals who prefer a turnkey home that needs little or no work,” says Gundersheim. “(Or they’re) creative/romantic buyers who want to invest sweat equity and money over time, and put their personal stamp on the property and add value for the future.”
But while those two groups may seem like they want entirely different things from a home, many agents say younger buyers of all stripes have a lot of the same “must-have” features on their lists.
Updated kitchen and bath: We all want to buy a home with new kitchen and bath fixtures, but new fixtures are especially important for today’s young, budget-conscious buyers, says Jack Curtis, a Keller Williams real estate agent in Dublin, Ohio.
“The primary reason younger buyers seek updated kitchens and baths is because they have limited budgets,” Curtis says. “Most of their savings will go toward the down payment and furnishings. Kitchens and bathrooms are also the most expensive parts of a home to update, and young homeowners cannot afford to sink a lot of money into those areas.”
Big kitchen, open floor plan: A generation ago, formal dining rooms may have been on every buyer’s wish list. But today there really isn’t much appeal to the formal dining room, according to Lou Cardillo of the Lou Cardillo Home Selling Team in Yorktown Heights, New York.
“The kitchen has become the hangout room along with the family room,” says Cardillo. “An open space that can easily transition from kitchen to TV room is high on the list of the perfect home for young buyers.”
Curtis says today’s young buyers are also more attracted to an open floor plan, rather than a layout that compartmentalizes the home.
Home office: More than 13 million Americans work from home, and all signs point to that trend continuing, which makes a home office important for many buyers.
“Home offices have vast appeal,” says Paige Elliott, a real estate agent with Dave Perry-Miller Real Estate in the Dallas area. “Most agents will point out that a room could be used as an office or other flex living space, especially if it is currently used or staged as a bedroom.”
Good location: Younger buyers tend to see location differently from their parents, who didn’t face high gas prices and traffic, says Allison Nichols, managing broker at North Pacific Properties in Seattle.
“My younger buyers look for properties that are in proximity to public transportation and that have a good walking score,” Nichols says.
Low maintenance: Most young buyers look for homes that are low-maintenance, says Cardillo, who points out that low-upkeep features such as wood floors (as opposed to carpet) and granite countertops are seen as positives for this generation because they’re both attractive and relatively hassle-free.
Technology: Today, buyers want to know about the home’s technology. They want to hear about cell service and Internet, not cable and telephone.
In some cases, a house’s appeal can be increased or diminished because of the strength of a mobile carrier’s signal or its Internet service provider options, Cardillo says. While cellphone and Internet services are out of the seller’s hands, Cardillo says sellers or their agents should be prepared to field questions on that front.
Energy efficiency: With energy costs on the rise and growing interest in protecting the environment, young buyers are conscious of buying homes that are green. They may not be alone, according to Jeff Hyland of Hilton & Hyland real estate agency in Beverly Hills, California.
“Today, not only younger buyers, but buyers in general, are looking for energy-efficient homes,” says Hyland. “And if they are not already set up (for energy efficiency), then the buyers will often factor those costs into their budgets so they can do it after the close of escrow.”
The cable TV effect: “Real estate shows on TV have impacted all buyers on the way they look at houses,” Elliott says. “But young buyers will often comment on how a house is, or isn’t, staged.”
Either way, staging is a critical part of selling your home, Hyland says.
Keep HOA costs down: Young buyers tend to get caught in a trap when gauging the affordability of condos or townhomes, Nichols says. The asking price often fits their limited budgets, but HOA dues and the possibility of large assessments can sink the purchase.
“When it comes to condo buildings, my younger buyers are looking for properties with no special assessments,” Nichols says. “These can be as high as $10,000, and young or first-time buyers don’t necessarily have this in their budget. Likewise, they want to maximize their monthly housing budget by finding a property with low monthly assessments.”
Online photos: “Younger buyers start their searches online,” Elliott says. “The home must have professional photography that shows the home in its best light, or they will move on before ever stepping foot in the door.”
According to the most recent analysis from the NAR, 88 percent of buyers use the Internet to search for homes. By comparison, real estate agents were the second most common resource for finding a home, with 87 percent of buyers citing an agent’s help as a key factor.
According to the NAR, 62 percent of buyers in 2013 said they walked through a home after viewing the listing online, and 76 percent said they at least drove by the home because of an online ad.
–By Michael Estrin BANKRATE.COM
Tips for buyers in a hot real estate market (like San Antonio):
Every home buyer has a dream house, the one that offers the perfect combination of location, size, condition and price.
These days, it’s entirely likely that dream house exists, but it isn’t on the market because the supply of for-sale homes in many areas is smaller than normal.
So should you wait for the home you really want? Or should you buy a home that’s not quite right but might be good enough and is actually for sale at a price you can afford?
The answer isn’t obvious.
At the end of February, 1.89 million existing homes were for sale in the U.S., according to the National Association of Realtors.
That figure represented a 4.6-month supply, or inventory, of for-sale homes at the then-current pace of sales. With six months’ supply considered to be a balanced market, 4.6 months signals a market in which sellers have an advantage over buyers, and buyers’ choices may be slim.
Inventory isn’t constrained everywhere, but the shortage is being felt in some places.
“If we had inventory, we’d be having big increases in the numbers of sales,” say Kent Temple, broker/owner of Keller Williams Realty in Mooresville, North Carolina. “We don’t have the inventory to fill the buyers’ needs.”
Most buyers have wants and needs in mind for their new home.
But today’s limited inventory means some wants and perhaps even a few needs have to be scratched before buyers can find a home to buy, says Wendy Furth, assistant manager at Rodeo Realty in Calabasas, California.
“Unfortunately, the dream house — we are going to help you find that — it may not exist and it may not be what you’re going to have to look for,” Furth says.
For many buyers, location is a must-have, whether due to a school district, commute to a job or other reasons. That makes sense since location is the one characteristic of every home that can’t be changed, not even for a boatload of money.
Buyers whose location is nonnegotiable and whose budget is maxed out may have to compromise on their new home’s size or condition. They might choose a home that is smaller, has fewer bedrooms or bathrooms, or doesn’t include the amenities or improvements they wanted.
“They may not get a have-to-have,” Furth says.
Some buyers choose to wait for their dream home, but that strategy has risks, as well.
One risk might be mortgage interest rates, because if rates rise, higher monthly payments could price patient buyers out of the location or size and condition of home they want.
So far, rates have stayed low.
But, Temple says, buyers “will start to get off the fence if they see rates going up.”
Rising home prices can become a hurdle as well, even if interest rates hold steady.
“As prices go up, not as many buyers qualify for what they want. They want this house for this price, but they aren’t getting it,” says Mark Fleysher, broker manager at Sellstate Deluxe Realty in Las Vegas.
Yet another concern is that most buyers need a place to live while they wait. Eventually, a new lease must be signed or their current home must be sold before they can buy another one.
“There’s no ‘I’ll put my house on the market when I find (a house to buy),’ ” Temple says. “Because if you find something you want, someone else wants it, too, and will buy it.”
Resale homes listed on multiple listing services aren’t the only homes for sale in most markets.
In fact, buyers also can look at other categories of for-sale homes, Fleysher explains.
• Newly built homes being sold by homebuilders.
• Off-MLS homes, sometimes called pocket listings, being sold privately by realty brokers.
• For-sale-by-owner homes, sometimes called FSBOs, being sold directly by owners.
Fleysher says many realty salespeople will try to help buyers tap into these markets.
“If a buyer comes to me and there isn’t something on the market, I will contact homeowners in that community,” Fleysher says.
(From an article in the SA Express News)
“STARTER HOMES” BECOMING EXTINCT!
Builders blame rising costs of labor and fees
By Benjamin Olivo STAFF WRITER
In San Antonio, the new-home market barely fluctuated in the first quarter. Meanwhile, the construction of starter homes continued on its downward spiral, according to data collected by MetroStudy, a national home builders research group.
In the 12 months ending in March, only 330 of the 9,326 home starts (3.5 percent of poured slabs) were for houses priced at $150,000 and below, pushing that segment to the brink of extinction.
“It’s such a small number now, and I’ve been talking about it for so long, that it’s almost irrelevant,” said Jack Inselmann, MetroStudy regional director. “It’s pretty much gone.”
For the same period, 3,054 starts of homes priced at $200,000 and under were recorded, accounting for 33 percent of the market. That includes the 330 homes priced at $150,000 and below.
Just two years ago, homes priced $200,000 and less made up 51 percent of the share, according to MetroStudy.
Builders blame the extinction of starter homes on the rising cost of building homes — local impact fees, cost of materials and labor.
It keeps San Antonio “from being able to have enough product, enough lot product under $200,000 to satisfy all the customers,” Inselmann said. ~~ email@example.com
Staging Tips for Sellers
When selling your home or property, attracting full price offers is always top priority, and a properly staged home can be your number one asset in drawing as many offers as possible. Here are staging tips to help you prepare your home for the market.
Enhance Your Entry
It’s the first thing buyers see, and most likely serves as the first impression of your house. Utilize the entry by updating the front door color, change out the door hardware (or clean and polish the current hardware). Make potential buyers welcome with a nice mat and some potted plants or flowers.
Clean Out Clutter
The majority of us have too much stuff, and clutter is a huge killer for potential buyers. Be ruthless when it comes to clutter — if you haven’t used it in three months, box it up. If you haven’t used it in a year, sell or donate it. Go one room at a time. It’s ok to have empty space. If you can’t part with something, get creative on how to store it. Rolling bins that fit under beds are perfect for hiding items and getting things out of the way. Too much furniture will also make a home look cluttered and smaller than it is. You want to create space – ask what you can live without. Every square foot is prime real estate.
Move or Float Furniture
Once you’ve moved out the clutter, turn to the remaining furniture. Furniture doesn’t need to be pushed up against walls. Moving and floating pieces can help rooms look and feel bigger. Try moving pieces around, even from other rooms, but remember to keep the perimeters clear with clear pathways.
Let the Light In
Natural light does wonders for a home and makes rooms more inviting. Take down heavy drapery and replace with gauzy and airy fabrics. If you have views, play them up! Look into roman shades, which help with privacy but also let light in. Simple curtain panels made from airy fabrics like cotton twill or translucent linen will let the light in during the day and still help with privacy at night.
Do you have a designated junk room? Re-purpose rooms that have lost their identity. Most designers look at junk rooms and envision fantasy spaces: an exercise room, meditation space, art studio, etc.. Re-purpose a clutter/junk room into something that will add value to the house. Also consider loft spaces, stairwell nooks and other areas not utilized or gathering dust as possible areas for increased space.
Light It Up
Many homes are poorly lit, making rooms too dim or harsh on the eyes which can deter buyers when they walk into your house. Try to aim for a total of 100 watts for every 50 square feet. Don’t be afraid of dimmers, and replace light-switch covers that are old, dingy or broken. Uplights also help add depth to a room, especially when positioned behind a plant or piece of furniture.
Add Some Color
Color on the walls or as an accent can really make a room pop. Painting is an inexpensive and easy way to give your house a new look. Neutral colors don’t mean beige or off-white; warm tans, honey and soft blue-greens all attract the eye and help to make a room feel warmer without going overboard. Accent walls can also add a burst of color. If painting is too daunting, add richly colored accessories, pillows and throws for subtle bursts of color.
Add Art and Accessories
De-cluttering is important, but so is playing up what you have in your house. Adding art to a drab wall can also add character to a room. Try breaking up the art by patterning and grouping pictures or images together. Add a small touch by accessorizing your room — layer accessories in threes, with varied heights and widths. The eye naturally reads a room from left to right, so adding a large or striking object in the far right corner will draw the eye to it and make the room seem bigger. Another accessory not to be overlooked: plants. A vase of fresh flowers, branches, twigs or greenery will add depth and character to a room.
MOVING TO A NEW COMMUNITY?
Moving to a new area can be a very exciting process. You’ll soon be learning a new community, moving into a new home, and building new relationships. Naturally, a change of this magnitude is also potentially stressful. Concerns over selling your current home, buying a home in your new city, and coordinating your move can become overwhelming. As a real estate professional I can ease the burden on you and make sure your relocation is invigorating.
I’ve assisted many individuals and families with the process of relocating to a new part of the country, and I’ll draw on that experience to provide you with the very best of service. Whether you’re going to be joining our community for the first time or heading off to a new horizon, I’d be delighted to help you. I can guide you through the home selling and buying process and give you all the information you need.
This is without a doubt a dramatic time in your life and the lives of your loved ones. I would certainly enjoy the opportunity to be a part of your transition into a new life. Give me a call and we can discuss how I can help you.
|How to make your relocation smooth|
If you’re in the early stages of relocating to a new community you probably have many questions. It can be hard to know where to begin. That’s why I’ve compiled a short list of tips that can help you remember key steps to a successful relocation.
These are just a few pointers to help you organize your relocation. My website has additional resources available, and I’d be happy to help you with any and all aspects of your relocation. Please call me and let me know how I can be of assistance.