Is It a Buyer's or Seller's Market?

The answer is “yes”.  It is both depending on the property you are trying to buy or sell.  I know, the news is full of stories on the shortage of inventory, high demand, and rising prices.  The truth is the type of market you face is dependent on the price point and condition.  In general, our area does not have enough listings in the price range for the bulk of buyers who are buying.  Home prices have reached unaffordable levels for many 1st time buyers.  And the downsizing baby boomers have specific needs (newer, 1st floor master, near town amenities, mostly under $400k) for which there is pretty low inventory. 

Overall, sales are about the same as 2016 in New London, Sunapee, & Newbury, mainly due to lack of desirable inventory.  New London is actually down from last year YTD, thru Oct.  With a median price of $342,000 in these 3 towns combined and an average days on market of 127 days, it can be confusing to understand what type of market is in play. 

Bottom line, buyers trying to find a move-in ready home under $300k are in a sellers’ market.  Sellers with homes that don’t fit the desired condition and price for the bulk of buyers are in a buyers’ market.   Whether buying or selling, contact me if you want to know what you are facing!

Figures are based on information from the Northern New England Real Estate Network, Inc. for the period 1/1/16 thru 10/31/16 and 1/1/17 thru 10/31/17.

Donna Forest 603-526-4116, www.DonnaForest.com, Donna@DonnaForest.com

Real estate markets are local, and we have the real scoop on ours.  Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate - The Milestone Team

Getting to Yes

I recently spent 2 days at a class put on by the Real Estate Business Institute to become a certified negotiation expert and thought it would be good to share some points made during this time.  Some might just surprise you!

  • Negotiations are really between the two agents and not the buyers & sellers.  While the goal is for each to get the best possible outcome based on their clients’ needs and wants, the reality is that it is the two agents who are communicating with each who make it happen.  How well the agents negotiate with each other can make or break it for their clients.
  • In any negotiation, you need to know if the market conditions are with or against you.  For example, if you are a buyer in a sellers’ market, the market may push you to make decisions quickly.
  • If a deal gets “deadlocked”, sometimes taking a time-out is helpful to allow everyone to re-group and re-assess their wants and needs.
  • There are always at least 2 negotiation points in a sale – the first with the offer and the 2nd after the home inspections.
  • The best negotiator will focus on the fix and not the fight.

Contact me if you’d like to have a skilled negotiator working on your side to help achieve your “yes”!  Donna Forest 603-526-4116, www.DonnaForest.com, Donna@DonnaForest.com.

You’ll be moving in the right direction with Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate - The Milestone Team.

Four Things Not to Be Surprised By

Don’t Be Surprised By….

Next to price, most buyers focus on the location and appearance of the property.  Below are some lesser known factors to consider when house hunting. 

  • Private Roads – if the house is located on a private road, find out if there is a road maintenance agreement with the other owners.  Lenders may require one before they issue a mortgage.
  • Flood Zone - Looking at waterfront?  Flood insurance could be required if the structure is located in the flood zone.
  • Lead Paint – Homes built prior to 1978 could contain lead paint and the paint flakes or dust can present a health hazard.  Even if the paint is in great condition, keep in mind any renovations by a contractor that would disturb areas with lead paint may cost more as they have to be certified and follow specific safety practices.
  •  Age of Systems – Even if it is well maintained, systems don’t last forever.  Well pumps, furnaces, water heaters, and even septic systems have a life span.  Knowing the age of these systems will help prepare for future expenses and may factor into your offer price.

 Avoid costly surprises on your home purchase by working with me as your Accredited Buyer’s Representative!  603-526-4116, www.DonnaForest.com, Donna@DonnaForest.com

Teamwork from the Team that works –Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate - The Milestone Team

Mudroom Design Ideas for Better Storage

People often assume that the kitchen or living room is at the heart of the home, but when you see these ideas to help corral the chaos in your mudroom, you might decide that the area just inside your front door is the true command center of your house. If you don’t have a dedicated room or hallway carved out for a purpose-built mudroom, don’t despair: a few hooks, storage baskets and designated shoe racks can make all the difference in a house where multiple family members use—and abuse—the front hallway as a dumping ground. Good mudroom design can be just what you need to corral clutter and get an entryway you—and potential home buyers—absolutely love.

Establish a mudroom zone

Even homes with grand entries sometimes find themselves challenged by the lack of front- or back-door space to store daily necessities. A few options can help. A slim drawer underneath a bench offers a spot to stash seasonal items. With no room for traditional shoe storage solutions, boots and other footwear sit close by; place them in a tray to catch loose moisture and dirt. A tray makes it easy to clean up melted snow or mud that comes in on boots; simply take the entire tray outside to dump accumulated dirt or snow, then replace.

Use baskets for outdoor items

It makes sense to have some items close at hand for out-of-house comings and goings. A shelf above coat storage in this mudroom has space for containers with various items such as sunscreen, bandages and more. Keep similar items, such as bug spray, together and label the containers (adhesive or tied-on tags work well). You might also consider assigning a basket to each member of your family, then letting them use it however they like to corral their personal clutter

Tuck shoes out of the way

Although it’s handy to have all mudroom storage together, sometimes a dedicated shoe-storage solution just isn’t feasible. Instead, carve out nooks and crannies where you can. A small recessed area offers a just-right spot for multiple shoe shelves. 

Sliding shelves are a useful tool in mudrooms, too, helping to streamline access to items. Choose heavy-duty, easy-to-clean surfaces in a mudroom, particularly for the floor, that rely on color and texture to mask any messes or daily dirt. And don’t forget to put a tray under a shoe rack to catch the debris from several rows of shoes above.

Use extra storage for essentials

Some mudrooms are hidden and expansive enough to store more than just coats and shoes. For peculiarly shaped items that may not easily stay grouped—toilet paper, for example—use decorative baskets (lidded or not) to keep them in order. 

Real estate markets are local, and we have the real scoop on ours.  Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate - The Milestone Team

Source:  www.bhgre.com/bhgrelife


Five Home Buying Mistakes

Buying a home is a big investment.  Knowing what to steer clear of will help make this experience a positive and rewarding venture.  Here are some common mistakes to avoid.

  • Not knowing what you can afford.  Get pre-qualified with a lender.  Lending standards have tightened considerably; it’s important to know IF you can borrow money and how much.
  • Failing to consider additional expenses.  Taxes, insurance, utilities, and maintenance are costs on top of your mortgage.
  • Being too picky.  There is no such thing as a perfect home.  Every house has trade-offs.  Evaluate what’s important to you and let the little stuff slide.
  • Not researching the neighborhood.  Check school systems, traffic, potential noise situations, etc.
  • Not hiring your own agent.  Hire a buyer’s agent and use their expertise to represent your best interests.

The more educated you are as a buyer, the better chance you’ll have for a smooth and easy home buying experience.  Give me a call if you are looking for an accredited buyer’s agent!  Donna Forest, Broker Associate, 603-526-4116; Donna@DonnaForest.com; www.DonnaForest.com

You’ll be moving in the right direction with Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate - The Milestone Team.

5 Tips for Buying in a Tight Market

As our area market continues to see strong demand and low supply, it becomes more important for buyers to be prepared and ready to make an offer when the right property comes along.  Here are a few tips to help strengthen your buying position:

  1. Do your homework and know what you are looking for in a home.
  2. Get pre-qualified for a mortgage before looking.
  3. Stay in touch with your agent and be ready to view any new listings that match    your criteria.
  4. Don’t play games when bidding; you’ll likely be competing with other offers.
  5. Don’t make your offer contingent on selling your house first. It will be the last offer considered if you do.

While it can be discouraging to buy in a tight market, remember, “Luck favors the prepared”.  Be ready to act and to present an attractive offer.  Contact me if you’d like to know how to make home buying an easier process.  Donna@DonnaForest.com, www.DonnaForest.com, 603-526-4116

“Word of Mouth” is the best advertisement, and we love it when you refer your friends and family to Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate - The Milestone Team.

92% of Buyers Can't Be Wrong

Did you know 92% of buyers in the Northeast used a real estate agent to buy their home?  Buying a home is one of the biggest financial decisions you can make.  Whether a first time buyer or not, using a buyer’s agent means you have a professional in the business committed to working in your best interest.  Below are just a few of the many advantages you get:

  • Local knowledge & insight
  • Expertise in contract writing & negotiating
  • A buffer to keep emotions from derailing a sale
  • Guidance on the whole process from offer to inspections to closing
  • A reputable list of inspectors, attorneys, etc.
  • Advice on what to do in the event of…

A good buyer’s agent is an advisor and advocate so buyers can make informed decisions.

Thinking of buying?  Contact me to work with an Accredited Buyer’s Representative® and put my 23 yrs. of experience to work for you!  603-526-4116, www.DonnaForest.com, Donna@DonnaForest.com.

Real estate markets are local, and we have the real scoop on ours.  Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate - The Milestone Team

Five Tips on How to Survive a Seller's Market

Searching for the perfect home can be challenging, regardless of the market, and even more so when it’s a seller’s market. It can feel like you’re constantly hitting roadblocks and meeting dead ends, as the sellers are in full control.  However, all you need is a bit of momentum, encouragement, and these five tips from our Ask a Pro expert Karlton Utter to survive a seller’s market and find your perfect home:

1. Come to the Table Prepared with a Prequalified Loan

Be fully prepared with a prequalified loan as soon as possible. Obtaining a prequalified mortgage shows sellers that you are a serious buyer who is able to meet your end of the sale to close the deal. This puts you on an entirely new playing field, with a little more control than what you would have had without a prequalified mortgage.

2. Be Taken Seriously by Bringing all the Paperwork

Show the sellers that you’re not kidding around. In a seller’s market, it’s important to show them that you mean business and that you and your offer should be taken seriously. Show up to the table with not only a prequalified loan but with all the paperwork that supports the proof of funds, such as an approval letter from the lender. Actions speak louder than words, and this will definitely entice the seller to work with you!

3. Be Flexible and Discuss Compromising

In a dry market, it’s important to remain flexible. Placing too many limitations on the real estate market will make it even more challenging to find a home. Widen your horizon within the real estate market, as this could introduce you to new homes that you would have never seen otherwise. Being more flexible can also make the process of buying a home easier. If you are hesitant to look outside of your pre-determined boundaries, it’s important to consider compromising. You may be required to give something up – such as a desired feature in a home – just to stay within the area you’re set on. Sometimes by compromising a little, you could have it all and possibly for less.

4. Be Readily Available to Sellers as Much as Possible

With so many buyers looking for homes, timing is essential. It’s important to remain readily available and open for communication with your sellers, and be prepared to make a move on an offer at a moment’s notice. Make it a goal to respond quickly and follow up on requests – or just follow up to get updates if you have not heard back. Communication is not only important for timing, but it also builds rapport with your seller. This can make the difference in getting the offer and property that you want.

5. Don’t Play Hard to Get

Now is not the time to play hardball. A seller’s market leaves very little control to you as a homebuyer. As such, you need to be willing to follow the seller’s lead, as opposed to challenging it with bullheaded negotiation tactics that work in other situations. Limit the contingencies, make a bold offer and if the sellers make a counter offer, proceed carefully by negotiating from there.

With the proper approach, you can find your ideal home – at your ideal price – even in a seller’s market.

Source:  reprinted from www.bhgre.com

Real estate markets are local, and we have the real scoop on ours.  Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate - The Milestone Team

The Single Biggest Millennial Mistake

CNBC recently ran an article on self-made millionaire and financial expert, David Bach, who believes buying a home is an "escalator to wealth."  He feels if millennials don't buy a home "their chances of actually having any wealth are little to none.  The average homeowner is 38x wealthier than a renter.  

Here are some of his tips for first time home buyers:

  • Calculate costs so your first investment is minimized.  The total housing monthly payment shouldn't consume more than 30% of your take home pay.
  • Put down at least 10%.  More is better.
  • Borrow 10-20% less than a bank is willing to lend you.
  • Recognize buying your first home is not buying your dream home.

Bach states, "You aren't really in the game of building wealth until you own some real estate."  David has written 9 consecutive NY Times best sellers, been a contributer to many TV shows such as Today, CNN, CBS, ABC, and has been profiled in the Wall St. Journal, Financial Times, Forbes, Business Insider, etc.  He gives simple advice - if you don't own a home, go buy one.

Contact me for help in starting on your escalator to wealth!  603-526-4116, Donna@DonnaForest.com, www.DonnaForest.com

“Word of Mouth” is the best advertisement, and we love it when you refer your friends and family to Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate - The Milestone Team.


4 Important Purchases to Make for Your First Home

Congratulations! You’ve just purchased your first home. There’s no denying that this is a very exciting time in your life. Becoming a homeowner will bring many new opportunities your way, the first one being a chance to go shopping! As a first-time homebuyer, there are some things you need for your home that you may not have needed previously.  So grab a piece of paper and pen because it’s time to create the ultimate first-home shopping list.

Bhgrelife.com - 4 Important Purchases to Make for Your First Home

1. Lawn Equipment

One amazing thing about owning a home is that you own the lawn, the grass, the flower beds, and everything else that comes with the property. However, this also means you have to take care of what you own, and unless you’re hiring a landscaping company, you will need to purchase some lawn equipment. Here are a few useful tools to help with lawn maintenance and get you started in your outdoor maintenance:

  • Lawn mower
  • Weed whacker
  • Weed puller
  • Water hose and sprinkler
  • Ladder

2. Household Tools

Even if your home is newly built, maintenance will be required. Whether it’s a leaky faucet, squeaky hinges, or more elaborate home repairs that crop up, you’ll need some tools of your own. The upfront cost of purchasing tools can be significant, but they can save you an abundance of money in future home repairs. After all, if you let problems persist, they will only get worse—and much more expensive. In addition, you may wish to do some simple home renovations yourself, such as hanging a TV on the wall or changing out the house’s original hardware. As a rule of thumb, grab these tools to ensure regular maintenance and quick home repairs:

  • Screwdriver set
  • Hammer
  • Level
  • Pliers set
  • Tape measure

3. Gardening Gear

Gardening gear is different than lawn equipment; while you have to maintain your lawn, you aren’t required to plant beautiful, vibrant flowers to enhance the landscaping of your home. However, planting some fresh flowers and/or a vegetable garden can bring an abundance of enjoyment to your experience as a first-time homebuyer. It will also enhance the exterior appearance of your home, and may even provide you with a new hobby to enjoy for years to come. Some items to get you started on the path to creating a captivating landscape include:

  • New plants, such as fruits, vegetables, flowers, bushes, etc.
  • Soil, fertilizer, and mulch
  • Gardening gloves
  • Gardening tools, such as cultivator, trowel, and fork
  • Shovel

4. Outdoor Patio Furniture

As a new homeowner, you may not have had the benefit of an outdoor living space previously. However, now that you have purchased your first home, if you do have this benefit, you can style your backyard to your liking. Whether you have a condo balcony, small yard, or acres to enjoy, you’ll need some outdoor patio furniture. Create the ultimate outdoor living space with the following items:

  • Patio chairs and table
  • Outdoor lights
  • Barbecue
  • Outdoor plates, bowls, and cutlery

Buying a home is a huge investment. It’s the first major purchase you make towards building a better future. Preparing yourself with a list of must-have purchases you need as a first-time homebuyer will help decrease the stress of the move and responsibility, and bring much enjoyment in the long run.

Reprinted from BHGRE.com

Real estate markets are local, and we have the real scoop on ours.  Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate - The Milestone Team