The price of any item (including residential real estate) is determined by ‘supply and demand.’ If many people are looking to buy an item and the supply of that item is limited, the price of that item increases.
According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the supply of homes for sale dramatically increases every spring. As an example, here is what happened to housing inventory at the beginning of 2017:
Putting your home on the market now instead of waiting for increased competition in the spring might make a lot of sense.
Buyers in the market during the winter months are truly motivated purchasers. They want to buy now. With limited inventory currently available in most markets, sellers may be in a great position to negotiate.
The experts at Andersen Windows + Doors stopped by the Coldwell Banker YouTube channel to provide simple, yet effective ways to reduce humidity in your home. If your windows are covered in ice, you might assume this is a window problem, but it often is a moist air management problem. This video from Andersen Windows + Doors will help you understand condensation – and what you can do to minimize condensation on your windows. By reducing humidity in your home, you can prevent condensation build-up on your windows during the colder months.
Spring and summer are popular times to look for a new home, but house hunters willing to brave the cold might be rewarded with a great deal. Although you’ll have fewer houses to choose from, there are also fewer buyers to contend with.
“You can leverage colder weather to your advantage because you’re a rarity — there’s less competition and buyers, which gives you negotiating power and puts you in the driver’s seat,” says Cara Ameer, broker associate and Realtor at Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty based in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. “A seller knows that someone who drives through the snow and cold weather to see their house is a pretty serious buyer.”
You may benefit from a discount too as sellers are eager to unload their homes. “Homebuyers can take their time when they’re looking for a home because there’s less people in the market and there aren’t as many bidding wars,” says Lisa Foradori, Head of Consumer Direct for Mortgage Originations at Chase.
If you need a mortgage, while rates are expected to increase eventually, they’re still low from a historical perspective. “It’s going to remain a good time to buy for a while,” says Foradori. “Getting in now as rates start to pick up, with rates where they are, makes the winter look attractive too.”
As you decide whether to hunt for houses during the cold winter months, experts provide advantages and disadvantages to consider.
Fewer Bidding Wars
Fewer buyers frequent open houses during the winter as compared to the spring, when there’s more inventory. The benefit is that you’ll have some breathing room — hot markets known for bidding wars and multiple offers tend to cool down in the colder months. “It saves buyers money and their sanity,” says Mazen Fawaz, CEO of OpenHouse.
Less Housing Supply
“The selection of houses may be less because of lower inventory versus what’s going to come on the market during the spring, but there will also be more competition in the spring,” says Ameer. The weather can make getting a home ready for showings cumbersome for a homeowner. “Sellers may have to shovel snow,” she suggests, “and people would rather wait until the holidays are over and they can take their lights and decorations down.”
Time is money for a seller, and those sellers that open their doors to showings during the holiday season and cold-weather months want their homes to sell. “A seller probably doesn’t want to sit with the house through the winter months, particularly if they don’t live there anymore and have to make sure the home’s being maintained and safe,” says Ameer. A buyer may very well benefit from a lower price because the seller doesn’t want to continue paying for the expense of the house and would like to get it off their plate.
Quicker Mortgage Closings
“Lenders have less inventory in the winter because there are less people buying and selling and we can move the loan through the process faster,” says Foradori.
Winter Preparedness – Car Safety
You may recall seeing those cars and passengers stranded on Lake Shore Drive, Chicago years ago. While you can’t change the weather and conditions, you can prepare and plan ahead. Plan long trips carefully, listening to the radio or television, or checking online, for the latest weather forecasts and road conditions. If bad weather is expected, drive only if absolutely necessary. Is your car winter ready?
Check or have a mechanic check the following items on your car:
- Keep your gas tank full – in case evacuation is needed.
- Do not drive through a flooded area – Six inches of water can cause a vehicle to lose control and possibly stall. A foot of water will float many cars.
- Be aware of areas where floodwaters have receded – Roads may have weakened and could collapse under the weight of a car.
- If a power line falls on your car you are at risk of electrical shock, stay inside until a trained person removes the wire.
- Antifreeze levels – ensure they are sufficient to avoid freezing.
- Battery and ignition system – should be in top condition and battery terminals should be clean.
- Brakes – check for wear and fluid levels.
- Exhaust system – check for leaks and crimped pipes and repair or replace as necessary. Carbon monoxide is deadly and usually gives no warning.
- Fuel and air filters – replace and keep water out of the system by using additives and maintaining a full tank of gas. A full tank will keep the fuel line from freezing.
- Heater and defroster – ensure they work properly.
- Lights and flashing hazard lights – check for serviceability.
- Oil – check for level and weight. Heavier oils congeal more at low temperatures and do not lubricate as well.
- Thermostat – ensure it works properly.
- Windshield wiper equipment – repair any problems and maintain proper washer fluid level.
- Install good winter tires – Make sure the tires have adequate tread. All-weather radials are usually adequate for most winter conditions. However, some jurisdictions require that to drive on their roads, vehicles must be equipped with chains or snow tires with studs.
If there is an explosion or other factor that makes it difficult to control the vehicle, pull over, stop the car and set the parking brake.
If the emergency could impact the physical stability of the roadway, avoid overpasses, bridges, power lines, signs and other hazards.
(source: http://www.ready.gov/car; image: Reuters)
Prevent Frozen Pipes This Winter
Winter is here, and with freezing temperatures could come frozen pipes. Plumbing breaks and flood damage can be incredibly costly, so preparation is key to keep your pipes from freezing. Follow these easy steps to prevent expensive plumbing repairs.
Photo by: Shutterstock
Water Main: Locate your house’s water main shut-off valve. In case of a water emergency, you will need to shut off all water flow to the home, and this time-saving knowledge could save you thousands in case of a burst pipe.
Exterior Pipes: Locate all outdoor spigots and unhook, drain and store all your hoses, covering your spigots with insulated spigot sleeves. Locate all other exterior pipes like swimming pool supply lines, water sprinkler lines and any other exposed pipes running along exterior walls of your home. On these, install insulated pipe sleeves that slip right over the pipes. You can find these at any home supply store, but you can also use bubble wrap, a towel or a blanket to help protect these pipes.
Attic, Basement and Crawl Space Pipes: Install pipe sleeves on both cold and hot water pipes in attics, basements and crawl spaces. You can also put in regular fiberglass insulation, or you can install a heat lamp in crawl spaces and cold basements. However, never leave heat lamps or heaters unattended for too long, and don’t allow them to get too hot or near combustible materials that could catch fire.
Cold Air Entry Points: Walk around the perimeter of your home and locate all the foundation and attic vents. Then simply cut foam board insulation to fit in these vents and pop them in. This will help keep cold air out and keep the warm air in. For larger areas such as attic peaks, install larger foam board insulation from the interior side. With caulk, seal all air leaks around the foundation or other places in your home that could be allowing in cold air, such as electrical wiring, dryer vents or pipe entry points.
- When you know temperatures will be dipping below freezing, simply allow water to run in all the sinks at a slow, constant drip. It only needs to trickle, and that tiny amount of water will keep the water moving through the pipes and prevent them from freezing.
- Open up the cabinet doors in the bathrooms and kitchen. This will allow the heat from the home to circulate and warm up the pipes.
- Keep the garage door closed to keep garage pipes from freezing.
- Keep your house at a warm, consistent temperature both day and night.
- If you leave your home for extended periods of time, do not set your thermostat lower than 55 decrees.
- If you do end up with frozen pipes, a hand-held hair dryer or heat lamp can thaw them.
Long-term solution: Install R-21 insulation to your attics, basements and crawl spaces to maintain warmth in those areas.
Damage: If your home is damaged as a result of burst pipes or winter weather ServiceMaster Restore® can help get your home back to normal as quickly as possible with the following services*:
- Water damage restoration
- Drying, dehumidification and water extraction
- Document drying and recovery
- Mold remediation
- Carpet, rug and upholstery cleaning
*Services vary by local provider.
Photo by: ServiceMaster Restore®
The technicians know the effects of water damage on a wide variety of structural surfaces and are experts at both damage mitigation and reducing overall severity. Even though burst pipes aren’t covered in the AHS coverage, SMR can help. If you need to reach a technician, call 800-Restore.
Should you find yourself with other plumbing-related problems, a Home Warranty Plan from American Home Shield can help protect your budget against expensive repairs. Learn about the different coverage options.
#1 Clean or replace your furnace filters
According to a recent article on winterization tips, you should clean and replace your furnace filters on a monthly basis. Dirty furnace filters prevent warm air from flowing through the ducts and vents into your house, which makes your furnace work harder and increases your utility bill. By cleaning and replacing your furnace filters on a monthly basis, you will save a little money on your bill and a lot of money in simply preventing the need for a furnace replacement.
You can also replace your temporary filters with a permanent filter. Electrostatic or HEPA filters trap around 90 to 100 percent of debris — and they control bacteria, mold and pollen from getting into the air where they may cause illness or irritation. While these filters can cost anywhere from $50 to $1,000, they’re a worthwhile investment that offers long-term benefits.
#2 Get your furnace serviced
You should have your furnace maintained and repaired as needed. Having your furnace serviced annually can cut its fuel usage by almost 10 percent, which can save you more money on your heating bill. If you didn’t have your furnace maintained by a heating professional in the early autumn, call one now to inspect your furnace and filters for any issues. A professional will also look at your radiators and elements for any dust, breaks and other problems and fix them as necessary. Having this done could save you from spending $3,300 to $4,600 on a new furnace or finding yourself in a freezing cold home in the dead of winter.
#3 Fix drafts and leaks
Leaks and drafts in windows and doors significantly compromise the insulation and energy efficiency of your home. Escaping air forces your furnace to work overtime to keep your home warm, which causes it to turn on every five to ten minutes. To solve this problem, a professional can caulk and install weather-stripping around your windows and doors for around $460. You should also identify and seal leaks around your chimney and any pipes leading into or out of your home.
#4 Lay down additional insulation
Your attic’s insulation should be between six and 13 inches of loose fill or seven and 19 inches of fiberglass. Measure how much insulation you have; if it’s below the minimum for the material used, add more to keep your home well-insulated and keep your utility bills down. It’s easier to go with loose fill insulation, as it’s made of a flexible material that can fill crevices and joists. You can rent a blower to lay down loose fill insulation, but it’s complicated, and you run the risk of stepping through your attic. It’s probably easier to have an insulation professional come in to do the work.
#5 Lower your thermostat
To conserve energy and save money on your utility bill, you should always turn down the heat when you leave the house. You can save up to 5 percent on your utility bill for every degree your heat is reduced. A programmable thermostat can also help regulate the temperature inside your home, which can save you as much as $200. Talk to your utility company about smart meters to help save money on your utility bills.
#6 Call a home energy auditor
If you make changes to improve your home’s energy efficiency and insulation and are still seeing expensive utility bills every month, you can call a home energy auditor to go through your home and identify any problems you may have. A professional will know how much energy your home consumes, where your insulation is lacking and what you can do to increase your energy efficiency. Look for an auditor that is sponsored by the government and may therefore charge less for an audit than others. After you perform a complete audit with the help of a professional, you can choose which projects to complete to increase your home’s efficiency.
With the fall/winter holidays right around the corner, most people get busier. If you are thinking of selling, now may a great time. You may think it’s counter-intuitive to sell during the holidays or winter, but…
Here are 5 reasons why the holidays are the right time to sell your home:
– According to Bankrate.com, interest rates are down to an 18-month low and buyers are taking advantage of these historically low rates.
– There is less competition from other sellers.
– Buyers may want to close quickly in order to move in before the holidays.
– Buyers who are looking now are serious about purchasing.
– Cozy holiday décor may make your home attractive to buyers.
(post originally shared by Lana Simon at Coldwell Banker)
To avoid costly repairs next spring, follow this lawn care tip before the winter sets in:
Sure, there has been a lot of snow this winter. If you own a property that is for sale / being shown this winter, or if you are the listing Agent of a vacant property, please, please, please… make sure your driveway is plowed/shoveled, your walkway is clear and ice-free. At one property, a foreclosure, the snow was over 2.5 feet deep in the driveway, preventing any cars from pulling in the driveway, nor was there a cleared path/walkway to the door. Not only did one of us fall, but there were three kids as well and the snow was that high.
Disclose if a driveway has not been cleared. If the snow has not been removed or if icy conditions exists, many would not feel comfortable viewing. We usually have a portable shovel, even though clearing is not the showing Agent’s/buyers responsibility – it is up to the sellers/owners to take care.
Illustration: Chris Gash (source)
Additionally, this snow and rain combination has caused ice, so please make sure to salt, with animal paw friendly salt, all walkways and stairs (if you have them) leading up to your home.
It doesn’t stop outside. Place a large rug (or if you don’t have one, a couple large towels) in the foyer as the water tracks all in…especially on the more slippery surfaces like tile and hardwood. First impressions when viewing the property are important. Don’t make the buyers’ first impression of your home one where they are more worried they are going to fall. It happens and you can be held liable.
If you are too busy and can’t find the time to make your home safe for showings, it may be best to hold of on showings until you can remove the snow and de-ice. I would much rather wait than fall or slip, and I am sure I am not alone.