At Home with Team Gabriel

You’ll find our blog to be a wealth of information, covering everything from local market statistics and home values to community happenings. That’s because we care about the community and want to help you find your place in it. Please reach out if you have any questions at all. We’d love to talk with you!

Feb. 28, 2024

What Must Sellers Reveal in Disclosures?

Three important things to disclose before your home is sold.

 

When making an offer on a house, one of the first things buyers get from the seller is a property disclosure. This is also referred to as a property disclosure statement, a real estate disclosure form, or a home disclosure. The specifics vary by state, but most states, including ours, require some type of seller disclosure. The goal is to add transparency to the transaction.

 

In this disclosure, a seller provides written information about known things that could impact the property's value. While there are many different things a seller must disclose, I’m going to highlight three of the most forgotten (and impactful) items:

 

1. HOA information. If the home is located within a homeowners association, you should disclose that fact. Associations generally impose monthly fees on homeowners, and they can impose rules on their membership that a prospective buyer might or might not find acceptable. You also need to know about the HOA's financial health and provide this information to the buyer so they can make an informed purchasing decision.

 

"When in doubt, disclose."

 

2. Repairs. If your home has major structural issues, you have to disclose them to a potential seller. In addition to repairs that need to be made, you must also disclose repairs that have been completed. Buyers need to know the home's repair history so they can have their home inspectors pay extra attention to problem areas. You may also want to disclose electrical or plumbing repairs and any other problems you would want to know about if you were going to buy the home.

 

3. Federal seller’s disclosure requirement. If your home was built before 1978, federal law requires that you disclose that the property may produce exposure to lead from lead-based paint. It was federally banned for consumer use during that year. Sellers of homes built before 1978 must also provide buyers with an EPA pamphlet titled, "Protect Your Family From Lead In Your Home.” Then they must give buyers 10 days to conduct a paint inspection or risk assessment for lead-based paint and include a "lead warning statement" in the contract.

 

The key thing to remember about disclosures is that when in doubt, disclose. Failing to disclose something you were aware of beforehand could lead to a messy legal situation.

 

If you have further questions about what you need to disclose when selling your home or anything else related to real estate, don’t hesitate to reach out via phone or email. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

 

Posted in Expert Advice, Sellers
Feb. 27, 2024

The Truth About Down Payments

If you’re planning to buy your first home, saving up for all the costs involved can feel daunting, especially when it comes to the down payment. That might be because you’ve heard you need to save 20% of the home’s price to put down. Well, that isn’t necessarily the case.

Unless specified by your loan type or lender, it’s typically not required to put 20% down. That means you could be closer to your homebuying dream than you realize.

As The Mortgage Reports says:

“Although putting down 20% to avoid mortgage insurance is wise if affordable, it’s a myth that this is always necessary. In fact, most people opt for a much lower down payment.

According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the median down payment hasn’t been over 20% since 2005. In fact, for all homebuyers today it’s only 15%. And it’s even lower for first-time homebuyers at just 8% (see graph below):

The big takeaway? You may not need to save as much as you originally thought.

Learn About Resources That Can Help You Toward Your Goal

According to Down Payment Resource, there are also over 2,000 homebuyer assistance programs in the U.S., and many of them are intended to help with down payments.

Plus, there are loan options that can help too. For example, FHA loans offer down payments as low as 3.5%, while VA and USDA loans have no down payment requirements for qualified applicants.

With so many resources available to help with your down payment, the best way to find what you qualify for is by consulting with your loan officer or broker. They know about local grants and loan programs that may help you out.

Don’t let the misconception that you have to have 20% saved up hold you back. If you’re ready to become a homeowner, lean on the professionals to find resources that can help you make your dreams a reality. If you put your plans on hold until you’ve saved up 20%, it may actually cost you in the long run. According to U.S. Bank:

“. . . there are plenty of reasons why it might not be possible. For some, waiting to save up 20% for a down payment may “cost” too much time. While you’re saving for your down payment and paying rent, the price of your future home may go up.”

Home prices are expected to keep appreciating over the next 5 years – meaning your future home will likely go up in price the longer you wait. If you’re able to use these resources to buy now, that future price growth will help you build equity, rather than cost you more.

In Conclusion

Keep in mind that you don't always need a 20% down payment to buy a home. If you're looking to make a move this year, let’s connect to start the conversation about your homebuying goals.

Posted in Buyers
Feb. 22, 2024

Expert Home Price Forecasts for 2024 Revised Up

Over the past few months, experts have revised their 2024 home price forecasts based on the latest data and market signals, and they’re even more confident prices will rise, not fall.

So, let’s see exactly how experts’ thinking has shifted – and what’s caused the change.

2024 Home Price Forecasts: Then and Now

The chart below shows what seven expert organizations think will happen to home prices in 2024. It compares their first 2024 home price forecasts (made at the end of 2023) with their newest projections:

The middle column shows that, at first, these experts thought home prices would only go up a little this year. But if you look at the column on the right, you'll see they've all updated their forecasts and now think prices will go up more than they originally thought. And some of the differences are major.

There are two big factors keeping such strong upward pressure on home prices. The first is how few homes are for sale right now. According to Business Insider:

Low home inventory is a chronic problem in the US. This has generally kept home prices up . . .”

A lack of housing inventory has been pushing prices up for a long time now – and that’s not expected to change dramatically this year. But what has changed a bit is mortgage rates.

Late last year when most housing market experts were calling for home prices to rise only a little bit in 2024, mortgage rates were up and buyer demand was more moderate.

Now that rates have come down from their peak last October, and with further declines expected over the course of the year, buyer demand has picked up. That increase in demand, along with an ongoing lack of inventory, is what’s caused the experts to feel the upward pressure on prices will be stronger than they expected a couple months ago.

A Look Forward To Get Ahead of the Next Forecast Revisions

Real estate experts regularly revise their home price forecasts as the housing market shifts. It’s a normal part of their job that ensures their projections are always up-to-date and factor in the latest changes in the housing market.

That means they’ll continue to revise their projections as the housing market changes, just as they’ve always done. How those forecasts change next is anyone’s guess, but pay attention to mortgage rates.

If they trend down as the year goes on, as they’re expected to do, that could lead to more buyer demand and even higher home price forecasts.

Basically, it’s all about supply and demand. With supply still so limited, anything that causes demand to go up will likely cause prices to go up, too.

In Conclusion

At first, experts believed home prices would only go up a little this year. But now, they've changed their minds and forecast prices will grow even more than they originally thought. Let’s connect so you know what to expect with prices in our area.

Posted in Market Updates
Feb. 22, 2024

Some Experts Say Mortgage Rates May Fall Below 6% Later This Year

There’s a lot of confusion in the market about what’s happening with day-to-day movement in mortgage rates right now, but here’s what you really need to know: compared to the near 8% peak last fall, mortgage rates have trended down overall.

And if you’re looking to buy or sell a home, this is a big deal. While they’re going to continue to bounce around a bit based on various economic drivers (like inflation and reactions to the consumer price index, or CPI), don’t let the short-term volatility distract you. The experts agree the overarching downward trend should continue this year.

While we won’t see the record-low rates homebuyers got during the pandemic, some experts think we should see rates dip below 6% later this year. As Dean Baker, Senior Economist, Center for Economic Research, says:

“They will almost certainly not fall to pandemic lows, although we may soon see rates under 6.0 percent, which would be low by pre-Great Recession standards.

And Baker isn’t the only one saying this is a possibility. The latest Fannie Mae projections also indicate we may see a rate below 6% by the end of this year (see the green box in the chart below):

The chart shows mortgage rate projections for 2024 from Fannie Mae. It includes the one that came out in December and compares it to the updated 2024 forecast they released just one month later. And if you look closely, you’ll notice the projections are on the way down.

It’s normal for experts to re-forecast as they watch current market trends and the broader economy, but what this shows is experts are feeling confident rates should continue to decline, if inflation cools.

What This Means for You

But remember, no one can say for sure what will happen (and by when) – and short-term volatility is to be expected. So, don’t let small fluctuations scare you. Focus on the bigger picture.

If you’ve found a home you love in today’s market – especially where finding a home that meets your budget and your needs can be a challenge – it’s probably not a good idea to try to time the market and wait until rates drop below 6%.

With rates already lower than they were last fall, you have an opportunity in front of you right now. That’s because even a small quarter point dip in rates gives your purchasing power a boost.

In Conclusion

If you wanted to move last year but were holding off hoping rates would fall, now may be the time to act. Let’s connect to get the ball rolling.

Feb. 22, 2024

Strategic Tips for Buying Your First Home

Buying your first home is a big, exciting step and a major milestone that has the power to improve your life. As a first-time homebuyer, it's a dream you can make come true, but there are some hurdles you'll need to overcome in today’s housing market – specifically the limited supply of homes for sale and ongoing affordability challenges.

So, if you're ready, willing, and able to buy your first home, here are three tips to help you turn your dream into a reality.

Save Money with First-Time Homebuyer Programs                               

Paying the initial costs of homeownership, like your down payment and closing costs, can feel a bit daunting. But there are many assistance programs for first-time homebuyers that can help you get a loan with little or no money upfront. According to Bankrate:

. . . you might qualify for a first-time homebuyer loan or assistance. First-time buyer loans typically have more flexible requirements, such as a lower down payment and credit score. Many help buyers with closing costs and the down payment through grants and low-interest loans.”

To find out more, talk to your state's housing authority or check out websites like Down Payment Resource.

Expand Your Options by Looking at Condos and Townhomes

Right now, there aren’t enough homes for sale for everyone who wants to buy one. That’s pushing home prices up and making affordability tight for buyers. One way to deal with that issue and find a home right now is to consider condos and townhomes. Realtor.com explains:

For many newbies, it might just be a matter of making a shift toward something they can better afford—like a condo or townhome. These lower-cost homes have historically been a stepping stone for buyers looking for a less expensive alternative to a single-family home.

One reason why they may be more affordable is because they’re often smaller. But they still give you the chance to get your foot in the door and achieve your goal of owning a home and building equity. And that equity can help fuel your move into a larger home later on if you decide you need something bigger in the future. Hannah Jones, Senior Economic Analyst at Realtor.com, says:

Condos can help prospective homebuyers who perhaps have a smaller budget, but who are really determined to get a foothold in the market and start to accumulate some equity. It can be a really great entry point.”

Consider Pooling Your Resources To Buy a Multi-Generational Home

Another way to break into the market is by purchasing a home with friends or loved ones. That way you can split the cost of things like the mortgage and bills, to make it easier to afford a home. According to Money.com:

Buying a home with another person has some obvious advantages in the mortgage department. With two incomes in the mix, buyers can likely qualify for a larger mortgage — a big help in today’s high-cost market.”

In Conclusion

By exploring first-time homebuyer assistance, condos, townhomes, and multi-generational living, it can be easier to find and buy your first home. When you’re ready, let’s connect.

Posted in Buyers
Feb. 22, 2024

It’s Time To Prepare Your House for a Spring Listing

If you're thinking of selling your house this spring, now is the perfect time to start getting it ready. With the market gearing up for its busiest time of year, it'll be important to make sure your house shines bright among the competition.

Here are some valuable tips you can use to get your house market-ready.

Declutter and Organize

First impressions matter, and if your house is a mess, that can easily turn off potential buyers. Before listing, take the time to declutter and organize each room. Decluttering is about more than just tidying up – it's about creating a sense of space and openness that allows potential buyers to envision themselves living in your home. According to Moving.com:

Decluttering and organizing your space will go a long way in appealing to potential buyers. . . .decluttering will help the buyers see themselves living in your home. Less clutter inside a home also helps a place appear larger and cleaner, which should attract more buyers.

Deep Clean Your Kitchen and Bathrooms

The kitchen and bathrooms are focal points for many buyers, and often influence their overall opinion of the house. Ensure these spaces dazzle by giving them a thorough deep cleaning. Pay attention to details like scrubbing grout lines, polishing fixtures, and decluttering countertops. A sparkling kitchen and bathroom can leave a lasting positive impression on potential buyers.

Maintain Your Yard

Your home’s exterior is the first thing potential buyers see, so it’s important to make a good impression from the moment they arrive. A well-maintained yard not only enhances curb appeal, but also shows buyers the home has been well taken care of.

Take the time to spruce up your yard by mowing the lawn, trimming bushes, and clearing away any debris or dead plants. Remember, the goal is to create a welcoming environment that entices buyers to step inside and imagine themselves living there. U.S. News says:

“A beautifully landscaped front yard can elevate an ordinary house into a charming home and will help homes sell faster and for more money.”

Find a Listing Agent

A skilled listing agent is your partner in minimizing stress when selling your home. Lean on your agent for advice on decluttering, staging, and enhancing your home's appeal to potential buyers. Their insights into market trends and recommendations for reliable contractors and stagers are invaluable. As Realtor.com says:

“A good listing agent will help you price your home . . . recommend a photographer and stager to make it look its best, and put your home on the multiple listing service.”

In Conclusion

By decluttering, deep cleaning, and tidying up your house, you can create a welcoming environment that resonates with buyers and increases your chances of a successful sale. Let’s connect on what you need to do to get your house ready to sell this spring.

Posted in Sellers
Feb. 16, 2024

Open House - 51-53 Horace Street, Springfield, MA

Posted in Open House
Feb. 16, 2024

Open House-5 Knox Street, Enfield

Posted in Open House
Feb. 15, 2024

Open House-315 East St. South, Suffield

Posted in Open House
Feb. 15, 2024

New Listing - 51-53 Horace Street, Springfield, MA