The Most (and Least) Valuable States in America

Editor’s Note: This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin’ now at blog.rismedia.com:

Everyone knows location is the most important part of real estate. You can’t change where your house is (all things being equal). You have to consider school districts, crime rates, commute times—the list goes on and on. It can be much simpler when you’re considering buying a home to compare apples to apples so you can see how the real estate market differs according to location, so HowMuch.net created a new visualization showing land and housing prices at a glance.

most_valuable_states_infog

The blue dots represent the value of an acre of land, and the red circles indicate the median value of a home. The bigger the blue dot and the larger the red circle, the more expensive it is to become a property owner. Small circles and dots likewise indicate a very low cost of purchasing property. The home values are from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2015 American Consumer Survey, and the numbers behind the land values come from the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Several things stand out in the illustration. An acre of land is much more valuable in the Northeast compared to any other part of the country. This is partly because the Eastern seaboard is a very densely populated area with several large cities, most notably New York. New York and Massachusetts have some of the oldest modern structures anywhere in the U.S. In other words, Eastern cities are a lot older than Midwestern cities, so there isn’t a lot of farmland for suburban expansion anymore. In terms of geographic size, these are some of the smallest states in the country. As a matter of fact, the three states where the cost of an acre of land is greater than the median price of a house are all located on the East Coast, and they happen to be some of the smallest states in the Union (Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New Jersey).

Median home values (the red circles) are a different and more complicated story. California has the most expensive houses by far ($449,100). Oregon and Washington boast similarly high housing valuations, as well ($264,100 and $284,000, respectively). It is also expensive to buy a home on the East Coast, with six out of the top 10 states with the most expensive median home values.

There’s a noticeable dip in both housing and land prices in Southern and Midwestern states. Prices slowly rise the further you move from east to west. This highlights unique economic developments over the last several years, including the boom in oil exploration in North Dakota and the growth of Western cities, like Denver, thanks to young people. Snowbirds also tend to move to Florida and Arizona when they retire, which also pushes up housing prices in those places.

Top 5 Most Expensive States to Buy a Home

  1. California
    Value per Acre: $39,092
    Median Home Value: $449,100
  1. Massachusetts
    Value per Acre: $102,214
    Median Home Value: $352,100
  1. New Jersey
    Value per Acre: $196,410
    Median Home Value: $322,600
  1. Maryland
    Value per Acre: $75,429
    Median Home Value: $299,800
  1. New York
    Value per Acre: $41,314
    Median Home Value: $293,500

Top 5 Cheapest States to Buy a Home

  1. West Virginia
    Value per Acre: $10,537
    Median Home Value: $112,100
  1. Mississippi
    Value per Acre: $5,565
    Median Home Value: $112,700
  1. Arkansas
    Value per Acre: $6,739
    Median Home Value: $120,700
  1. Oklahoma
    Value per Acre: $7,364
    Median Home Value: $126,800
  1. Kentucky
    Value per Acre: $7,209
    Median Home Value: $130,000

All this shows that the laws of supply and demand are alive and well in the real estate market. You can easily find cheap acres of land where they are plentiful and un-useful (sorry, Nevada), but owning property is a lot more expensive in smaller places crowded with lots of people. As always: location, location, location.

A version of this article originally appeared on HowMuch.net.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

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Editor’s Note: This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin’ now at blog.rismedia.com:

While the immediate danger is gone and hurricane season is winding down, individuals in the affected areas are still working through a recovering market. Most residents of hurricane-prone areas expect storms to hit, but the buyer and seller population may not be familiar with the ramifications of a hurricane that disrupts a real estate transaction.

Here’s what Orlando Regional REALTOR® Association President-Elect Lou Nimkoff and RE/MAX 200 Orlando-based REALTOR® Daniel Wilson have to say about navigating the real estate market during hurricane season:

Trust your gut.
Unfortunately, you may come across individuals that try to take advantage of vulnerable homeowners. Following a natural disaster, service “professionals” who are not qualified to perform a job may try to overcharge for a service claiming an increase in demand. If not careful, you can wind up with a botched repair that costs you thousands of dollars.

“My No. 1 piece of advice to buyers and sellers post-hurricanes is to be aware of everyone that you’re dealing with and make sure that they’re a trusted name in their industry. During times of distress, a lot of companies try and profit from those in need. For example, make sure the roofer that comes to your door knocking for business is an actual licensed and insured roofer. Better yet, look up the business and find their customer reviews online,” says Wilson.

“You need to have a home inspector take a look and make sure any work you had done was done properly,” says Nimkoff.

Have patience. 
The market was hit hard and it will take time for everything to settle down. Not all homes are back on the market after sustaining damage during the hurricanes. In a few more weeks, you could be seeing more activity; however, if you do see something you like, it will most likely sell quickly since inventory is low. If a home fits the bill, jump on it before another buyer comes along and claims it.

“I advise buyers to act on the same day the homes get listed if they’re interested, otherwise they will have a very difficult time in getting their offer accepted once there’s been a multiple offer situation. My theory is: the first agent in the door—with the best offer and continued communication with the other agent—wins!” says Wilson.

“Because it is a seller’s market and there is an unusually high number of sellers, buyers want to be able to try and attract them and negotiate with them quickly,” says Nimkoff.

Get back on the market.
If your home was damaged by the hurricanes and you are trying to sell, fix any issues as quickly as possible so you can get your home back on the market. If your home only sustained minor damage, fix any issues without withdrawing your listing. Time off the market can translate into offers that you could be missing out on. Buyers will start to come out of the woodwork after laying low in the weeks following the hurricanes.

“I have a current seller who needed to have a new roof put on because of the hurricane. We went under contract with a buyer, got insurance to approve the new roof and scheduled a professional to place the new roof on the home—all while still on track with the original closing date of just 30 days from contract to close,” says Wilson.

“You need to make sure that your insurance values are up-to-date. If you do have a loss, you can quickly have it repaired and you don’t have to get into a fight with the insurance company. If you suffered some sort of loss, you need to repair it quickly and properly,” says Nimkoff.

Be flexible and keep the end goal in mind.
Do remember that hurricane season can be stressful. Emotions are high for both buyers and sellers. Work together to achieve your goal while avoiding the drama.

“If you’re going to buy a house during hurricane season, talk to your landlord and say, ‘I need an extra month if I can’t move into my new house.’ Or if you’re selling your home, you have the right to delay the home you are selling so you can work out the issue because of a pending hurricane,” says Nimkoff

“It’s an awfully tight market. A thousand people a day are moving in here. Don’t get too focused [on hurricanes] that you forget about the long-term benefits. We have pretty low interest rates right now,” he adds.

Liz Dominguez is RISMedia’s associate content editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at ldominguez@rismedia.com.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

The post Tips From Industry Professionals on Surviving Real Estate During Hurricane Season appeared first on RISMedia.

Editor’s Note: This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin’ now at blog.rismedia.com:

The mortgage process can be complicated if you jump in without any prior knowledge on home-buying and lending. The best tool you can arm yourself with is an understanding of how your mortgage interest rate is calculated.

Credit can make or break you.

Your credit score will determine how reliable you are in the lending world. The higher your score, the lower your interest rate will likely be. Check your credit on one of the three major credit reporting agency sites—TransUnion, Experian and Equifax—or your credit card company may have a free credit report service (although these aren’t as reliable). Improve your FICO score for a better chance at a lower interest rate.

Factor in size and location.

  • State or County: Even your place of residence can affect your rate.
  • Local Mortgage Lenders: Shop around. Interest rates can vary from company to company even if they’re located in the same town.
  • Loan Size: The size of your home can also impact your interest rate. The bigger the loan, the higher your interest rate will be if you’re not putting more money down.
  • Down Payment Size: Your mortgage interest rate may also depend on how much you’re putting down and if your loan includes closing costs and private mortgage insurance (PMI). Putting down less than 20 percent can increase your risk factor and may require PMI, but your interest rate may be lower depending on the loan.

Not all loans are created equal.

Loan Length: Your loan terms play a bigger role in interest rate calculations than you think. Have you decided whether you want to pay off your loan in 15 or 30 years? You may pay more per month with a shorter term, but you’ll be paying less interest over the life of your loan. Short-term loans may also have a smaller interest rate.

Fixed or Adjustable: You’ll also have to consider whether a fixed- or adjustable-rate loan is right for you. Your interest rate can change over time if you choose an adjustable-rate loan. It may start off low or fixed, but can increase over time depending on market conditions. Fixed-rate loans, however, will have a higher interest rate attached to them.

Loan Type: Interest rates can also vary according to your loan type. Choosing a loan can be overwhelming, but a local lender should be able to provide you with the best options. Some of the more popular loans are conventional, FHA and VA loans. While FHA loans have less down payment restrictions and a smaller interest rate, your monthly payment can be more expensive due to the required PMI added on. VA loans can have smaller interest rates and don’t require PMI like FHA does. Conventional loans are widely accepted in the real estate industry as dependable, but your interest rate may be higher.

Source: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)

Liz Dominguez is RISMedia’s associate content editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at ldominguez@rismedia.com.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

The post Buying a Home? Factor These Into Your Interest Rate Calculations appeared first on RISMedia.

Editor’s Note: This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin’ now at blog.rismedia.com:

The change of season often brings a shift in real estate market conditions. Inventory tends to decline and buyers may become more aggressive in their home search. This change can affect real estate transactions in a variety of ways.

Here’s what you need to know about buying or selling a home in a seller’s market:

Time is valuable.
Buyers don’t have as many options as during the peak purchasing months. This means more competition because there aren’t as many homes to look at in their price points. Buyers need to know what they want. If they absolutely need three bedrooms, then they’ll have to ignore that two-bedroom house or risk losing out on better opportunities.

They will also need to be prepared to make offers quickly. Buyers without a preapproval will not be considered and will likely miss out on highest and best deadlines by the time they obtain one. On the other hand, sellers will have an easier time selling their home. If in good condition, their home will likely be the cream of the crop during low-inventory months.

Offers are aggressive.
In a seller’s market, buyers will often have to deal with multiple-offer situations. If they don’t bring their best offer to the table, they will most likely lose out. Sellers can also prioritize stronger terms. They may decide to go with a lower offer if the buyer can close faster or is putting more money down.

A combination of the highest purchase price with a 20 percent down payment and a reliable lender is usually the winner. Of course, you can’t forget that cash is king. An all-cash offer will likely trump any others on the table.

Negotiations are a game changer.
Unfortunately, buyers may lose some negotiating power in a seller’s market. Unless the seller is incredibly motivated to get rid of their property, they may take advantage by refusing to take care of some inspection items. Buyers should be wary of asking for too much, as even big-ticket items may not be taken care of. Unless something is a safety or health hazard, it shouldn’t even be brought up.

Sellers may also decide to be more selective about what they are leaving with the house. They may decide not to include appliances such as a refrigerator, dishwasher or washer and dryer.

Even small things like tone in a negotiation email should be taken into consideration. Alienating the sellers this early in the game can force them to go with a back-up offer.

Real estate agents are essential.
Even though a seller’s market clearly tips the scale in one direction, buyers are more likely to lose out if they are not working with an experienced agent. Likewise, sellers may not even be aware of their advantage without the help of a real estate professional. Agents will advocate for their clients—whether they are buyers or sellers—by helping them get as much as possible during sale price and inspection negotiations.

Things that may not seem significant—such as getting all of the paperwork submitted correctly, sending emails to the opposing agent and doing due diligence on the property—can make a huge difference in a seller’s market.

Liz Dominguez is RISMedia’s associate content editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at ldominguez@rismedia.com.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

The post Buying in a Seller’s Market: Who’s the Winner? appeared first on RISMedia.

Editor’s Note: This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin’ now at blog.rismedia.com:

Would you ever live in a haunted home? A new survey from realtor.com® shows most folks won’t shy away from a spooky space—so long as the price is right.

In September, realtor.com surveyed more than 1,000 online respondents. The verdict? Thirty-three percent were open to living in a haunted house, 25 percent might be, and 42 percent are not open to the idea.

So what factors impacted these results? Let’s explore:

  • Forty percent of respondents indicated that they need a price reduction in order to choose a haunted home over a non-haunted home;
  • 35 percent require a better neighborhood;
  • 32 percent need larger square footage; and
  • 29 percent would do so if more bedrooms are involved.

Who minds a few spooky spirits if there’s a third bedroom, amiright? From the survey, 47 percent of participants indicate they would live in a home where someone died, 27 percent said they might, and 26 percent said they would not.

The survey also showed certain paranormal activities are preferred over others. Forty-eight percent of those surveyed didn’t mind a few cold or hot spots in their home, whereas 45 percent could get down with unexplainable noises, and 39 percent are willing to tolerate strange, freaky feelings in certain rooms. Thirty-five percent of folks could deal with shifting shadows, but only 20 percent were alright with levitating objects or the sensation of being touched.

Of those surveyed, 28 percent believed they already have lived in a haunted house, with 14 percent unsure and 58 percent quite sure they’ve never been haunted.

What do you think? Would you be willing to room with a ghoul for more square footage, a lower price tag or a finished basement?

View more from the survey.

For more information, please visit www.realtor.com.

Zoe Eisenberg is RISMedia’s senior content editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at zoe@rismedia.com.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

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Editor’s Note: This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin’ now at blog.rismedia.com:

Crowdfunding has appeared in the real estate industry in a variety of forms: house flip investing, mortgage payoff and down payment support. High fees and legality issues have made it difficult for the popular funding method to be taken seriously within U.S. real estate markets.

A new crowdfunding platform—HomeFundMe—was recently launched by GMC Financial, a privately-held mortgage banking firm. This could be a game changer, since it’s the first crowdfunding service approved by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Here’s what GMC financial says about HomeFundMe:

  • No fees for using the service (Anything deposited into HomeFundMe can be used towards the buyer’s down payment.)
  • Better loan terms, more buying opportunities and the possibility of getting rid of or lowering mortgage insurance
  • Potential to receive a grant ranging from $1,000 to $2,500 in exchange for completing required homebuyer education or housing counseling.
  • Matching donations ($2 for every $1) up to the grant limits once the counseling is completed

While over 100 people have already used the platform, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have only approved the service on a trial basis until June 2018. The mortgage giants are keeping a close eye on results before giving it their stamp of approval.

There are a few caveats, of course. Borrowers must first be pre-approved for a mortgage by GMC Financial in order to use the crowdfunding service, which is limited to $7,500 in gifted funds. The loan must also be a Fannie Mae- or Freddie Mac-approved loan (their 30-, 20- and 15-year fixed loans are eligible, as well). In addition, borrowers must earn less than their area’s median income in order to qualify for matching contributions/grants.

This method will force borrowers into GMC Financial’s rates and fees. Millennial and Gen Z buyers, who are most likely to use such a service because of challenges in obtaining a down payment, will not be able to shop around for the lowest rate—a huge snag that may turn off borrowers from the crowdfunding service.

While other services charge fees and may complicate loan processing, borrowers will have to compare costs, as they may be able to save by using an alternative lender.

Here are some other crowdfunding options:

  • HomeFunded: 5 percent usage fee on total funds and 2.9 percent for processing each transaction
  • GoFundMe: 5 percent usage fee per donation and 2.9 percent plus $0.30 for processing each transaction
  • FeathertheNest: 5 percent usage fee per donation and 2.9 percent plus $0.30 for processing each transaction
  • Honeyfund: No usage fee and 2.8 percent plus $0.30 for processing each transaction

Keep in mind that these services may come with additional gifting restrictions in the lending world. Most Fannie, Freddie and FHA loans only allow gifted down payment funds from family and close friends. Loan processing may also be more time consuming if using these services, and you stand the chance of being rejected by lenders.

Crowdfunding may be a quicker way of amassing down payment reserves, but it can be a complicated process—extending your mortgage commitment dates or even threatening your loan approval. It may, however, be a useful option for borrowers who are dealing with high student loan or other debt payments and can’t afford to save.

If given final approval, HomeFundMe may open the door to a widespread financial backing of crowdfunding services in the real estate industry.

Liz Dominguez is RISMedia’s associate content editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at ldominguez@rismedia.com.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

The post Crowdfunding Your Way Into a Home appeared first on RISMedia.

Editor’s Note: This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin’ now at blog.rismedia.com:

Are you getting ready to find your retirement paradise? There are a lot of things to consider before making the big move. Lucky for you, U.S. News & World Report just unveiled their 2018 Best Places to Retire list to help you make your decision.

These rankings reflect a number of factors that can affect your retirement, such as happiness, housing affordability, desirability, retiree taxes, the job market and healthcare quality. In order to narrow down the list, U.S. News & World Report surveyed pre-retirees (ages 45-59) and retirement-aged (ages 60-plus) individuals.

If an overall happy life is the most important to you, head on over to Sarasota, Fla. But if you need strong housing affordability, then maybe San Antonio, Texas is for you. Weigh out your pros and cons before making a decision.

Here are the top 10 retirement spots. Is your relaxing oasis on this list?

  1. Sarasota, Fla.
  2. Lancaster, Pa.
  3. San Antonio, Texas
  4. Grand Rapids, Mo.
  5. El Paso, Texas
  6. McAllen, Texas
  7. Daytona Beach, Fla.
  8. Pittsburgh, Pa.
  9. Austin, Texas
  10. Washington, D.C.

View the entire list on U.S. News & World Report.

View the methodology.

Liz Dominguez is RISMedia’s associate content editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at ldominguez@rismedia.com.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

The post Relaxation Awaits: 2018 Best Places to Retire appeared first on RISMedia.

Editor’s Note: This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin’ now at blog.rismedia.com:

Ever wonder how much bacon you need to bring in to live comfortably in some of our country’s largest metros? HSH.com recently revealed the salaries needed to live in a median-priced home in 50 of the hottest areas of the U.S., and the numbers may surprise you. While the national average of median home prices cost $255,600, requiring a salary of just over $56,000, the salary difference between the least expensive and the most expensive is nearly $200,000 (!!).

5 Least Expensive Metros

  • Pittsburgh: $35,329.29
  • Cleveland: $36,553.26
  • Indianapolis: $37,429.34
  • Oklahoma City: $37,854.04
  • Memphis: $37,964.05

5 Most Expensive Metros

  • San Jose: $221,363.63
  • San Francisco: $181,341.49
  • San Diego: $116,875.11
  • Los Angeles: $101,531.66
  • New York City: $99,136.79

It’s no real surprise that four of the five priciest metros are all in the state of California. Get the full results from HSH.com and see how realtor.com broke down what is occuring in the “Best Places” housing markets.

Zoe Eisenberg is RISMedia’s senior content editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at zoe@rismedia.com.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

The post What You Need to Earn to Live in the Cheapest and Priciest Metros appeared first on RISMedia.

Sixty percent of homebuyers put 6 percent, or roughly $15,500, down on a median-priced house, according to the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). Work toward that goal with these tips:

For more information, please visit www.nar.realtor.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

The post Infographic: 5 Down Payment Savings Tips appeared first on RISMedia.

Editor’s Note: This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin’ now at blog.rismedia.com:

More and more millennials are buying homes, representing around 45 percent of all purchase loans, and most first-time millennial homebuyers are on a limited budget.

While you may not be able to find the perfect home that checks every box on your dream home list, you can find a home you can improve on or add to over time.

As you hunt for your first home and make the big purchasing decision, make sure your checklist of new home essentials includes the following seven musts.

  1. Energy-Efficient Features
    Not only is energy efficiency trendy, but it also saves you money on your power bill and reduces your carbon footprint. When viewing homes on the market, look for energy-efficient features like double-paned windows, solar panels, attic insulation, LED lighting, and ENERGY STAR appliances. When you move in to your new domicile, invest in the Nest Learning Thermostat, which helps save you money on your energy bill and allows you to control your house’s temperature from your phone.
  1. An Entertainment Center
    Moving from an apartment to a home means more room, so celebrate with an entertainment space. Equip a portion of your living room with a comfy couch, a big screen TV, and a stereo system. Don’t forget a TV package and a streaming stick to access your favorite channels, such as HBO and Starz, and streaming services, including Netflix and Hulu. Trust us—your friends will thank you, and your home will be everyone’s favorite hangout.
  1. Smoke Alarms and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
    A smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector should be on every level of a house, especially near bedrooms. While walking through homes, check to see if a property has up-to-date smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. You may want to install smart versions, like the Nest Protect, a smoke and carbon monoxide alarm. The system checks its batteries and performs silent tests on a regular basis so you don’t have to.
  1. A Home Security System
    Burglary rates have been steadily increasing over time, but installing a security system can help you feel safer and protect your new home. If you buy a house that doesn’t have a home security system, you can easily install the necessary equipment with options such as the Scout Home Security System. You can connect a door panel, access sensor, motion sensor, video camera and more, depending on your needs.
  1. A Home Improvement Magazine Subscription
    Whether you like it or not, owning a home comes with a lot more responsibility than renting. You’ll occasionally spend weekends and afternoons fixing something or working on a home project. Even though just about every project type is available on the internet, subscribing to a home improvement magazine, like Better Homes & Gardens, serves as a homeowner’s initiation to all house-centric projects. Along with tips for home maintenance, you can also find inspiration for your next project in the leaves of these handy prints.
  1. Wallpaper
    No, we’re not back in the 1960s. Wallpaper is back and trendier than ever. If you find a home with wallpaper, don’t leave screaming. Depending on the style, you may be able to make it look modern, or, if a room is boring and you aren’t sure how to spruce it up without breaking the bank, try a modern wallpaper trend, such as a marble pattern. If you aren’t sold on the idea, try temporary wallpapers that are easy to remove.
  1. Plants
    Greenery is one of the biggest home decor trends, so bring the outdoors inside with houseplants. Not only do they clean the air, but they’re also inexpensive ways to decorate a room and brighten up even the darkest of spaces. For a small room, decorate with a tall cactus or fiddle leaf fig tree to make the area look bigger. Don’t have a green thumb? Try a faux plant, which only requires occasional dusting.

These must-haves are just a few to add to your checklist for an ideal dwelling. Think we missed something? Share what other essentials you think should be on every millennial’s new home list.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

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