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Local News and Information Archives for 2022-06

Housing Affordability: Should You Buy Now or Wait?

Housing affordability has continued to be a challenge for the housing market as it grapples with a lack of inventory, due in large part to five key factors: labor, land or lots, lending, lumber and other material costs, and laws and regulatory burdens. COVID-19 has exacerbated a number of these factors — notably material costs and labor shortages — and kept inventory low, which have caused housing prices to soar and priced numerous Americans out of purchasing a home.


According to recent research from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), higher mortgage rates and double-digit growth in home prices are discouraging a growing share of buyers from engaging in the purchase process. At its peak in mid-2021, 61% of perspective buyers were actively trying to find a home to buy; that share has dropped back to pre-pandemic levels at 46%.


Nationwide, of the buyers who were actively engaged in the process of finding a home in the first quarter of 2022, 67% have spent 3-plus months searching for a home without success. Although the majority will continue to search for a new home, a growing segment of prospective home buyers are choosing to wait. According to NAHB’s latest Home Trends Report, the share of prospective buyers postponing their home search until next year has risen steadily from 20% in the second quarter of 2021 to 25% in the first quarter of 2022.


Chattanooga-area prospective buyers may be wondering if they should buy now or postpone. We posted this exact question to Patty Becknell, Loan Officer with PrimeLending to find out. Becknell responded, “This is a question most people are asking right now due to the current economy. The fear of higher interest rates, general inflation and home price inflation are in the back of every person’s mind. What we need to remember is that the interest rates are still at a low level and with inflation causing prices to go up, the longer we wait to buy a home, the higher the cost we will incur. Now is the time to plan to buy your home - whether it is an immediate goal, or a long-term goal – count on us to assist you in reaching your homeownership goals!”


For more information on NAHB’s efforts to combat housing affordability and a list of professionals in helping you purchase your new home, visit the Home Builders Association of Greater Chattanooga’s website at www.HBAGC.net


How to Choose the Right Real Estate Agent

Buying or selling a home is one of the largest financial decisions made in a lifetime. With the current housing market conditions of rising interest rates, high home prices and inventory shortages, choosing the right real estate agent to list or purchase your new home is an even more daunting task. Here are a few tips to help you find the perfect fit for you.


Ask for Recommendations 
If you have friends or family who have recently purchased or sold a home, check with them for an agent referral. Word of mouth continues to be one of the most popular and successful ways to find a good realtor. Be sure to ask the question, “Would you work with this agent again?” Hiring a professional realtor who is a friend or family member is also an option, however, it is always wise to exercise caution when going this route as it could jeopardize the relationship if things do not go as planned.


Research Prospective Agents 
Do some background work on potential agents by checking them out online. Start with their website, current or recent listings, social media profiles and reviews to get an idea of their professional background and personality. Think about the characteristics you value most when reading reviews. For example, you may prioritize an agent that is focused on the numbers or perhaps you prefer a realtor who offers great customer service. Browsing websites and listings will also give you insight into an agent’s experience with specific areas of towns and types of homes. Community involvement is also an important trait to consider. Being a part of the Home Builders Association of Greater Chattanooga and other area organizations shows the agent has a large network of contacts with other agents, builders, and other local industry professionals.


Interview Your Top Choices
While it may add a little more time to the process, meeting with potential agents is important so that you don’t run into issues down the road. “When looking for a real estate agent to sell your current home or purchase your new home, it's always a good idea to have a list of questions ready for prospective realtors," shares Charlotte Mabry with Greater Downtown Keller Williams Realty. "Take the time to ask the interview questions to make sure you have the right fit, check on their length of time as a realtor, and ask for a few recent client references.” Mabry continues, “Our team is always happy to share references and answer any questions for new clients. We know how important this life decision is and we are committed to making sure your goals are met every step of the way.”


To start your search in finding an experienced real estate agent to sell or purchase your home, visit the Home Builders Association of Greater Chattanooga’s member directory at www.HBAGC.net

Finding the Best Neighborhood for Your New Home

Buying a home in a neighborhood that fits your lifestyle is essential. If your new neighborhood doesn’t meet your needs, the choice can cause headaches for years. The location of your home makes a significant difference in the quality of your life. With a competitive housing market, you might need to expand your home search, but how do you decide which neighborhood is right for you? Experts recommend creating a checklist of neighborhood features you value the most. To help you narrow down your choices, consider the following.


Quality of the School System and Daily Commute. If you have children or if you’re planning to start a family, evaluating the quality of the school system is usually at the top of the must-have list. Homes located in quality school districts improve your home’s resell value. The best place to start is by visiting the school district’s website for information about graduation rates and test scores.


If you commute to work or other locations daily or even a couple of times a week, factor in travel time to these locations at different times throughout the day, including heaviest traffic times.


Neighborhood Amenities. Think about different elements of your lifestyle and how the ideal neighborhood can complement your needs. Cheryl Moore with Core Homes shares, “If you have children, you might be drawn to a neighborhood with a pool, community green spaces, playgrounds, or close to parks.  Streets with stretches of level grade are great for bikes and scooters. Older home buyers also appreciate walkable streets for convenient exercise. Lifestyle amenities such as a peaceful lake setting or a close-by golf course are big draws for people who are empty-nesters or are retired.”  Moore continues, “We are always happy to help our prospective homebuyers find just the right community and home for their family.”


Property Taxes and Homeowners’ Association (HOA) Fees. As a future homeowner, you are responsible for paying for more than just your mortgage. Depending on what city or county the neighborhood resides in, the property taxes you pay may vary. Ask your real estate agent about the current tax rate and how much it has increased in the last several years. You’ll want to factor the amount into your overall budget.


Also, many neighborhoods have HOA fees to maintain common areas, such as a pool or nearby park. HOA fees vary. Depending on where you decide to live and what type of home you purchase, you will have to pay a monthly or annual fee.


Age of Development. If you are a younger family, a newer development may provide the chance to meet other families that share your life experiences and interests. On the other hand, older developments will have more mature landscaping and bigger lot sizes.  An historic neighborhood rich with character may have a one-of-a-kind curb appeal but, in the end, an older home may require a significant amount of repair work.


To get started on finding a community that is the right fit for your family, visit the Home Builders Association of Greater Chattanooga’s member directory today.