Area Real Estate News & Market Trends

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!

Jan. 7, 2020

Prequalify vs. Preapprove - What's the difference?

 

Some mortgage terms can be confusing, none more so than the similarities and differences between prequalification and preapproval. The two terms are often used interchangeably, but they mean very different things to lenders, real estate professionals, and home sellers.

Prequalifying is a rough-idea process that tells you how much money you’ll likely be able to borrow to buy a home. You can prequalify yourself on any banking or real estate-related website simply by putting your salary, type of loan you want, down payment amount and a ballpark home price into a mortgage calculator. You can talk with a lender, who will also give you a ballpark amount without a credit check.

When you apply for a mortgage loan, you’ll share your income records, the source and amount of your down payment, and your social security number so the lender can pull your credit. This is the key difference between prequalification and preapproval – when the lender is able to review your application and verify your credit standing to make a lending decision.

The lender will get back to you within three days or less with a preapproval letter stating the maximum amount of money you’re approved to borrow.

Preapproval gives you the real numbers so you know exactly how much you can spend on a home. It lends you credibility with real estate professionals and with sellers who will take you seriously as a buyer.

Prequalification becomes preapproval once you have a purchase contract on a home. Then, the preapproval is real.

 

Call The Lawrence Team to discuss preapproval and prequalification. (423) 451-8880

Posted in Real Estate
Nov. 25, 2019

How To Decorate With Red During This Holiday Season

 

Red is the go-to color for drama, but it’s also a preferred color for hospitality. You can literally “roll out the red carpet” to make visitors feel welcome to your home. If your company likes Christmas as much as we do at Berkshire Hathaway J Douglas Properties, it can also be a perfect touch to the office at this time of year. 

From joy (paint the town red) to love (my love is like a red, red rose) to bravery (red badge of courage), red suggests celebration, passion and power. Use red when you want a room to be filled with energy and spirit. Red stimulates conversation and activity, making it a great choice for living and dining areas, bedrooms and kitchens. It can also be soft as well as bold.

To see the true impact of red, grab fabric and paint samples to see how various shades of red interact with other colors. Brown-reds, burgundy-reds, and orange-reds add spice and earthiness to your décor. Reds and golds are opulent, while red with black is sophisticated. Reds can also be casual, as in country or coastal décor. Reds play well with neutral greys, taupes, beiges, blues and browns.

 

Whichever red you choose, have fun with it. Paint an accent wall with red, or buy throw pillows and afghans in red. It can be a warm, happy color.

 

Posted in home trends
Nov. 7, 2019

Staged Homes Sell Faster

In a survey released this year, the National Association of Realtors found that 83% of buyers' agents reported that staging helps homebuyers visualize themselves living in the home and influence them enough to make higher offers. Sellers' agents agreed that staged homes sell faster and for more money.

These are just a few of the advantages to staging your home, but there are other benefits for home sellers.

 

Staging gives you a deadline. Getting your home ready is a lot of work, but online photos and agent showings should showcase your home at its very best - decluttered, freshly painted, and staged with fresh new furniture and accessories. It gives the potential buyer an idea of what their home will look like. An empty room is less appealing to the buyers' eye. 

Staging gives you great ideas. You'll learn a lot about making rooms flow, creating focal points, increase and improve lighting, and how to use color. Photos of a room show it in a completely new light rather than just judging by eye. Try it for yourself and see what you think!

Staging helped you decide what to keep or discard. If your furnishings are hand-me-downs, out of date, or not your taste anymore, why take it all to your next home? Staging can help you separate what you love so you will have far less to move. 

 

Ask your Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Network Professional if staging is part of their service or to recommend a good stager. It is worth it!

Oct. 9, 2019

Should You Buy A "Haunted" House?

Spooky houses look like they haven’t seen a living occupant, gardener or handyman in years. Many so-called haunted houses are so dilapidated they look occupied by ghosts, or they’ve been on the market so long, buyers suspect there’s a skeleton hidden in the closet. But that house for sale that gives you the creeps may actually turn out to be a good investment. 

So what makes a house seem haunted? It could be the tumbleweed landscaping,

paintless trim, broken steps or crooked roof—, material problems that can easily be repaired or replaced. But a house can also carry a stigma (which has nothing to do with the home’s structure) that evokes fear or repulsion, including a history of death within the home from murder, suicide or suspicious circumstances. The house could previously be occupied by an unsavory hoarder, drug dealer or occultist.  Or, there could be a real ghost. MMMMWWWWAAAA!

Would you be able to look past a home’s creepy appearance or scary reputation? According to Realtor.com, nearly half of homebuyers wouldn’t touch a haunted house, but one in three buyers would purchase one if they could get a lower price.  

That spells opportunity, especially if the home is in a nice neighborhood. If your low offer is accepted, get an inspection and renovation estimate from a local contractor. If the total costs are lower than or equal to the other home values in the area, you could end up with the friendliest bargain on the block.

Posted in Real Estate
Sept. 25, 2019

Features That Make a Home Cozy

Image result for cozy vibes

There’s something wonderful about fall and winter, even if you live in a warm climate. Like bears in hibernation, we tend to slow down, stay home and relax more often in cooler weather. Chattanooga hasn't experienced much of a cool down, but we feel it coming in the air. 

If you’re shopping for a home or recently purchased a home, these are the best features your new home can offer to help you enjoy cooler weather.

Fireplaces: Whether you have a gas, electric or wood-burning fireplace, or a fire pit in the backyard, watching the flames is a great way to relax, listen to music, or cuddle under your favorite blanket with a purring cat or fluffy dog by your side.

Built-ins: Bookshelves, china hutches and window seats may seem like yesteryear, but they also add utility and character to your home. They can be updated with newer finishes but the quality of built-in woods and craftsmanship can rarely be matched today.

Sitting areas: A reading nook or a small conversation area can be intimate, comfy and charming. Make it a no-electronics zone for books, sketching or needle arts.

Hardwoods and rugs: Hardwood floors are warm, elegant and highly in demand. To soften the sound and protect the beauty of floors in highly trafficked areas, choose hand-knotted wool or silk rugs. They stand the test of time and you can move them around for a change.

Lighting: Adjustable lighting, from three-way bulbs to lamps with arms to dimmer switches, can make relaxing more personal and comfortable. Think of all lighting as task-oriented to choose the right fixture and bulb for your needs.

Posted in home trends
Sept. 12, 2019

Pros and Cons of Condo Living

Is Condo Living Right For You?

If you are living in The Chattanooga Area and considering buying a condo, there are several reasons why this may be a smart move for you. Condo Living is a hot trend in Downtown Chattanooga and the demand for condos is on the rise. The Lawrence Team has several condo listings that you should be sure and check out. Not only is a condo a highly sought after living option, but an investment as well. While there are many benefits to condo living, there are just as many drawbacks as well.

Benefits of Condo Living

1. Saying Goodbye to Maintenance

Most would say that the biggest benefit of living in a condo is most of your maintenance needs being taken care of. If you have health issues, travel frequently, or just simply don't want to deal with it - this will be a huge pro for you. Say goodbye to cutting the grass, cleaning the pool, or paying for a handy-man. Typically, there are several maintenance men on site that will tend to your needs in a timely manner. There will be a maintenance fee you will pay when taking ownership of the condo or leasing. 

2. You will be saving money

Although the cost of a condo vs. an apartment depends on several factors, you will most likely spend less on condo living. If you are a first time home buyer and house hunting on a budget, a condo may be your best option. According to The National Association of REALTOR, the average price for a single-family home is $260,000, while a condo has an average price of $248,200. 

3. Proximity to City

Condos are typically located near or in the heart of a lively downtown area. Chattanooga offers an amazing combination of live music, festivals, restaurants for every palate, art scenes, and much more. Condo living would give you the advantage of easy access to all of these things. Some prefer the option of walking or riding a bike to work to get exercise, and living in a condo would allow you to do so. 

Disadvantages of Condo Living

1. HOA fees

Although 24/7 maintenance service is a huge benefit of condo living, the services cost money. The fitness center, pool, valet trash system, etc. are all included under The HOA fee. Essentially, whenever you purchase a condo, you become a business partner with the association. Most condos require you to pay the fee monthly on top of your mortgage. The fee amount varies on a number of things, such as the size, location, and condition of the condominium. Not only do you have to pay these fees monthly the entire time you are living in the condo, but you can count on these fees rising consistently as the years pass.  

2. Lack of Privacy

Another disadvantage of living in a condo is the lack of privacy. Most would compare condos to apartments, depending on the condo's structure. You will most likely have neighbors above or below you and on both sides of you. It is almost a given that you will have no choice but to listen to something you do not exactly want to at some point in time. Whether it's a baby crying at 2 am, newly weds having their first real argument, or someone celebrating a little to loudly - there is no escaping it. 

3. Living by Management's Rules

Condo living means that there are most likely rules that have to be followed at all times. The sole purpose of a condo association is to make sure all of the unit owners are following the rules and paying their fair share of the required living expenses. For example, some condo associations will not allow certain breeds of pets, and they will make no exceptions. Management will often set hours that are restricted on noise, known as "quiet hours". You may even be limited to a certain amount of guests at one time, which can be a huge issue in certain instances. Some find it unappealing that you are required to abide by rules, and others appreciate it. 

 

 

Posted in Real Estate
Sept. 5, 2019

Busting The Myths of Home Buying

Is your financial situation holding you back from buying a home? The obstacles to buying a first home may seem unconquerable, due to a rise in home prices, mortgage interest rates, and the impression of the market favoring sellers. For those who are under this impression, there’s some good news: you can purchase your first home. Here are a few issues that often hold people back from home ownership, and why they do not have to. 

Myth 1: You must have a 20 percent down payment.

81 percent of Americans purchase their first home with less than 20 percent down and as little as 3 percent down. However, the 20 percent downpayment is recommended to avoid mortgage insurance payments on top of monthly housing costs. The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) Loan requires a 3.5% downpayment. The person receiving the loan must pay it back in two phases: 3.5% down at the real estate transaction closing and is known as the FHA upfront mortgage insurance premium and the remaining balance is paid monthly with the mortgage payment. Veteran Affairs (VA) Loans offer 100% Financing (that’s right, no-money-down) of the purchase of your first home. However, you can put down a payment of however much you can afford if you prefer to do so. Another common loan used by first time home buyers and repeat buyers is the Conventional Loan, which is a down payment of 3%. This is often favored by home buyers with above-average credit scores and those with proof of income.

Myth 2:  You must have above-average credit.

Bad credit may be the number one issue that stands in the way of home ownership. Although this may limit your loan options, there are ways to deal with a bad credit report and how to get through it. A very important tip is being educated on what your credit score is. Here is some advice for those with bad credit while house-hunting:

Be honest about your bad financial choices and prepare to turn this version of yourself around. Start paying your bills on time and taking action to improve your credit score in every way that you can.

Speak to a Mortgage Broker and discuss ways to improve your credit score. Working with a mortgage broker gives you many advantages, such as working on the client’s behalf with banks to find lenders with competitive rates that fit your needs the best. Mortgage brokers are financial professionals and can offer guidance about how to boost your credit score.

Avoid incurring debt while you are searching for a new home. Opening a credit card, incurring new loans, and putting items on layaway are key things to avoid while trying to improve your credit.

Myth 3: The home that you desire is out of your price range.

Surprisingly, many house hunters do not have a set price range, which makes it difficult to find a home. It is very important to have a price range established before going into the home buying process. People often give up on their dream home because it isn't in their budget, but what actually defines a ‘dream home’? Make a list of the features you simply cannot live without and the features that you do not necessarily need. Also, it is smart to plan ahead and think of your future self or family when hunting for a home. While your dream house may be currently out of your budget, you do not have to settle for much below these expectations. Think about the features that define your dream home and tell your agent, there is a good chance that he or she will find a home that satisfies your wishes. You should not stoop much lower than your highest expectations for a house, with the assumption that your mortgage payment will stay the same over the years while your career’s income will likely increase. 

 

Posted in Real Estate
July 31, 2017

Curious About Local Real Estate?

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Curious about local real estate? So are we! Every month we review trends in our real estate market and consider the number of homes on the market in each price tier, the amount of time particular homes have been listed for sale, specific neighborhood trends, the median price and square footage of each home sold and so much more. We’d love to invite you to do the same!

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You can sign up here to receive your own market report, delivered as often as you like! It contains current information on pending, active and just sold properties so you can see actual homes in your neighborhood. You can review your area on a larger scale, as well, by refining your search to include properties across the city or county. As you notice price and size trends, please contact us for clarification or to have any questions answered.

We can definitely fill you in on details that are not listed on the report and help you determine the best home for you. If you are wondering if now is the time to sell, please try out our INSTANT home value tool. You’ll get an estimate on the value of your property in today’s market. Either way, we hope to hear from you soon as you get to know our neighborhoods and local real estate market better.

Posted in Market Updates