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Setting homeownership goals can help you ease the process of buying or selling a house.

With historically low mortgage rates, increased home sales, and price growth, now is the right time to also make some homeownership goals.

Homebuyers, this is the year to improve your credit score, pay down some debt, or save for a down payment.

Home sellers, we’ve laid out plans for you to get top dollar for your property, including timing your home sale and investing in your unused living space.

Homeowners, even if you’re staying put for a while, you can resolve to improve your status quo by evaluating you budget and upkeeping your home maintenance schedule.

Despite your homeownership status, we’ve got some ideas and advice for you. Read on to learn more.

Home Buyers

Resolution #1: Qualify for a better mortgage with a higher credit score.

Your credit report highlights your current debt, bill-paying history, and other key financial information. Your credit is also used by lenders and companies to calculate your credit score, which partly determines if you are qualified to obtain a mortgage. Therefore, before you start looking for a home, make sure your finances are in good shape by checking your credit report from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion (via AnnualCreditReport.com).

On average, a credit score of 680 or higher is considered good to excellent.2 If your FICO score drops below 640, you might need to work at boosting your score for a few months.

To boost your score you need to pay your bills on time every month, keep your credit card balances low, and avoid applying for new credit.

Resolution #2: Improve your credit health by paying down debt.

Debt hurts your “buying power”. This is not only money that you can’t spend on your new home, but high balances also affect your credit score. The less debt you have, the higher your FICO score and the better mortgage you can obtain.

If you can, pay off some debt in its entirety. Then apply that “extra” money you previously paid on that credit card to pay off bigger debt. Even if you can’t pay off all (or any) of your debt in full, reducing the balances of each account will help you qualify for the best possible mortgage terms.

Resolution #3: Create a financial safety net before applying for a mortgage.

Don’t forget that buying a home requires some cash as well. A down payment is typically 3.5% of a home’s purchase price, and closing costs currently average 2% to 3% of the loan. In addition, you’ll also need money for moving expenses and any initial maintenance tasks that might pop up.

Cut down on unnecessary expenses, and consider having a portion of each paycheck automatically deposited into your savings account to avoid the temptation to spend it.

Home Sellers

Resolution #1: Decide on the right time to sell your home.

According to the National Association of Realtors, “mortgage rates and the number of homes available for sale are expected to remain relatively low, home prices are likely to continue to increase. [In] mid-January, home prices typically begin a quick ramp-up in a normal year.”5

However, this means that there is no month or season that is the “perfect time” to sell your home. Instead, the right timeline for you takes into account factors such as when you’ll earn the highest profit, personal convenience, and whether your home is even ready to list.

Resolution #2: Boost your home’s resale value by making your property shine.

Housing inventory is low across the country, and that means the market is fiercely competitive.6With some simple fixes, selling your home in 2021 has the potential to net you a huge return right now.

You might need to tackle a minor projects, such as repairing damaged walls or adding a fresh coat of paint

You might consider improving your curb appeal by removing a dead bush, trimming a tree that blocks the front window, or power-washing your driveway and sidewalks. In fact, real estate agents say cleaning the exterior of your house can add $10,000 to $15,000 to a home’s sale price.8

A good agent should provide custom-tailored suggestions to ensure your property pops inside and out. Ask us about our local insider secrets that will make your home stand out from others on the market.

Resolution #3: Invest in your “unused” living space to meet current buyers’ needs.

Due to COVID-19, more people are staying at home to work, go to school, exercise, and stay entertained. According to one study, buyers are looking for homes with formal, outfitted home offices, private outdoor spaces, and updated kitchen appliances.10

So, if you’ve got an underutilized room, consider turning it into an office, home gym, schoolroom, or multi-purpose room to meet current home buyer needs and attract offers on your home.

Homeowners

Resolution #1: Evaluate your household budget to reflect financial changes.

After this past year, in particular, your financial picture may have changed. Perhaps you’ve kept the same job, but you’re now working remotely. Working from home could mean less money spent on gas, tolls, and dining out for lunch. But this could also mean new (or increased) expenses such as new tech-related purchases, faster Wi-Fi, and higher energy bills.

Resolution #2: Save money now (and earn more later) with a home maintenance plan.

Having a schedule of regular home maintenance projects to work on will save you money now and in the long-term. You’ll avoid some surprise “emergency fixes,” and when you’re ready to sell your home, you’ll get higher offers from buyers who aren’t put off by overdue repairs.

You can also lower your energy costs by maintaining and upgrading your home.  According to the U.S. Department of Energy, simple fixes can make a change: replace used bulbs with ENERGY STAR ones to save $75/year; repair leaky faucets to save $35/year; replace older toilets with low-flow models to save $100/year, and seal air leaks to save $83-$166/year.11

Resolution #3: Invest in real estate for a better standard of living.

A vacation home can be your getaway for a period of time. Or, if you have been looking for a second stream of income, investment in a property might be your answer.

LET US HELP YOU WITH YOUR 2021 GOALS

Without a plan and a support system, 55% of Americans will break their resolutions.12 Whether you’re looking to buy, sell, or stay put in your home, it helps to connect with a trusted real estate agent to keep you motivated and on track.

As local market experts, we have the knowledge, experience, and networks to help you achieve your homeownership goals, whatever they may be. Reach out to us today for a free consultation.

Sources:
  1. USA.gov –
    https://www.usa.gov/credit-report
  2. Equifax –
    https://www.equifax.com/personal/education/credit/score/what-is-a-good-credit-score/
  3. NerdWallet –
    https://www.nerdwallet.com/article/mortgages/the-20-mortgage-down-payment-is-dead
  4. Zillow –
    https://www.zillow.com/mortgage-learning/closing-costs/
  5. Realtor.com –
    https://www.realtor.com/research/we-should-be-in-a-buyers-market-right-now-but-covid-turned-everything-upside-down-best-time-to-buy-a-home
  6. Business Insider –
    https://www.businessinsider.com/how-2020-broke-the-housing-market-inventory-could-run-out-2020-9
  7. National Association of Realtors –
    https://www.nar.realtor/sites/default/files/documents/2019-remodeling-impact-10-03-2019.pdf
  8. House Logic –
    https://www.houselogic.com/save-money-add-value/add-value-to-your-home/adding-curb-appeal-value-to-home/
  9. Virginia Cooperative Extension –
    https://www.pubs.ext.vt.edu/content/dam/pubs_ext_vt_edu/426/426-087/426-087.pdf
  10. HomeLight –
    https://www.homelight.com/blog/top-agent-insights-for-q2-2020/
  11. U.S. Department of Energy –
    https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/articles/how-much-can-you-really-save-energy-efficient-improvements
  12. Ipsos –
    https://www.ipsos.com/en-us/urban-plates-ipsos-NY-Resolutions

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