Prepare Your Home to Be Sold This Fall

Under normal circumstances, putting your property on the market may be an overwhelming process, even for the experienced homeowner. This year may feel particularly daunting given the lack of knowledge surrounding the pandemic and market stability.

A slow spring gave way to a promising summer market in real estate. In July, the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) reported national home sales bounced back from their pandemic-induced springtime lows, rising by 26% month-to-month. If this recovery momentum continues, the usually busier fall season could see a wave of homeowners listing their properties with plenty of buyers waiting to snap them up.

KEEP A FINGER ON THE PULSE

With markets shifting as a result of coronavirus, it is important to keep track of what is going on and to respond accordingly. Make sure your listing agent has a pulse not only on the area they serve but also on the overall base market and other emerging trends. For example, if you’re selling a single-family home, your realtor should be able to see if there’s an increase in buyers selling condominiums and moving to your neighbourhood, and how your listing should target that audience.

HAVE A PLAN IN PLACE

It’s good to plan ahead for everyone’s safety and well-being. Realtors should set a protocol on how each show and open house will operate in accordance with local public health guidelines. Prepare each property for display by arriving early, providing a thorough cleaning and opening of all interior doors to prevent visitors from touching high-contact surfaces. It is also recommended that visitors be provided with masks and a disinfecting station for use before and after use.

Have a conversation with your realtor about the measures they are taking to protect your health and the health of potential buyers who are coming through your home.

PRESENTATION IS EVERYTHING

Given the seriousness of the purchaser’s motivations and the social distancing recommendations that have resulted in less frequent in-person demonstrations, it is important that first impressions be counted at home. This means a clean, well-maintained environment with the best features of the property.

LEVERAGE TECHNOLOGY FOR YOUR HOME

With more buyers spending their time on their phones and computers, a more aggressive online marketing approach is crucial. When preparing your home for listing, ask your realtor how they plan to leverage technology to give your home exposure.

High-quality Matterport and virtual tours can be a powerful substitute for buyers and sellers who are less comfortable with in-person tours. Instead of sending physical copies of flyers and feature sheets, convert these materials online so that they are readily available. It is also vital to have a strong presence on social media and relevant real estate websites.

3 Times When the Estate Plan Should Be Reviewed

If you work with a family lawyer or a financial planner, you probably already know the importance of a regular review of your estate plan. Usually, an annual inspection (or more often, if advised) is a good idea.
But even if you’re not working with a legal or financial professional, you should know that there are three moments that should trigger a review of your estate plan.
If you or your loved one experiences one or more of these moments, it’s time to get the paperwork out and review your plan.

At least six elements should be included in the estate plan. These elements do not need to be in separate documents, but all six of them need to be addressed in order to make clear what should happen to your estate, assets, and any dependent loved ones. These six elements shall include:

  1. Will (a document outlining how assets should be distributed);
  2. Power of Attorney (a document that states that you can make legal and financial decisions on your behalf if you become disabled);
  3. Beneficiary designations (assets, such as registered accounts or policies, such as life insurance, will require you to name a beneficiary — the person(s) who will receive the asset upon death);
  4. Letter of intent (this is a letter left to your executor, the person responsible for sorting out your estate as soon as you pass);
  5. Healthcare Directive (as a power of attorney, only this document designates the person responsible for making health decisions for you if you become disabled);
  6. Guardianship designations (usually found within a will, a guardianship designation allows you to state who is legally responsible for any dependents under the age of 18).

#1: HEALTH CHANGES

If you or your loved o ne encounters a significant change in health — such as a serious diagnosis or exposure to life-threatening illness such as coronavirus, a diagnosis that would require long-term care, such as dementia or Parkinson’s disease, or an accident that disables you or your loved one — it is time to consider whether your existing estate plan documents still meet your needs.
In your review, make sure that your medical directive is up to date with your current wishes; confirm that your will reflects how you want your estate to be managed and who should benefit from it. At this point, you may not be able to obtain new or updated existing life insurance because it is usually more difficult to obtain this type of insurance when medical issues arise; nevertheless, review your policies to ensure that you have identified the right people as beneficiaries of these policies.

# 2: FINANCIAL CHANGES

Whether it’s a job loss, early retirement or a significant investment loss, say a stock market dive or, on the other hand, a sudden windfall, such as a retirement package or inheritance, a sudden change in finances should prompt a review of your estate plan documents and directives.

Not only do you want to confirm that your wishes still apply if you die, but you also want to check that your new financial situation does not change anything. For example, this new financial situation may put you in a different tax situation. You may also want to explore where investments are held and whether or not it would be advantageous to distribute assets in different accounts or among family members.

# 3: CHANGES TO FAMILY STATUS

Another moment that should prompt a review of the estate plan is when there is a change in the status of the family. These include births, deaths, divorces, marriages, and adoptions. First, consider whether or not your estate plan is flexible enough to accommodate this change of family status.
For example, a new marriage may establish another legal authority to act on your behalf; or your current estate plan may unintentionally disinherit a child or grandchild born after the creation of your current estate plan.

Conversely, due to divorce or death, you may want to change the designations of your beneficiary.
All of these life changes, and others, should be considered as part of your estate planning objectives. Keep in mind that the more complex or intricate the changes, the greater the need for professional assistance.
If you are already working with a professional, consider setting up a meeting to confirm that your wishes and wishes are still being met with your current plan. Even if you’re not working with a professional, make sure you review your will, your life insurance, your health directives, and your financial plan.

Housing Recovery is Strong

The number dropped dramatically in March and mid-April when the economy was shut down in The residential real estate market has definitely been the shining light in this country’s current economic situation. All-time low mortgage rates coupled with a new appreciation of what a home truly means has caused the housing market to push forward through this major health crisis. Let’s look at two measures that explain the resilience of the real estate market.

Purchase Mortgages

The number of buyers getting a mortgage to purchase a home is a strong indicator of the strength of a housing market. Below is a graph of the week-over-week percent change in that number, as reported by the Mortgage Bankers’ Association:

Just How Strong Is the Housing Recovery? | Simplifying The Market

The number dropped dramatically in March and mid-April when the economy was shut down in response to COVID. It increased substantially from later in April through the middle of June. The strong increase in May and June was the result of the pent-up demand from earlier in the spring along with the normal business that would have been done during that time.
 
Since July, the market has remained consistent on a weekly basis, but still reflects a double-digit increase from the levels one year ago. The August 12 report shows a whopping 22% increase over last year.

Pending Contracts

Like purchase mortgages, pending contracts are also a powerful indicator of the strength of the real estate market. Zillow reports each week on the percent change in the number of homes going into contract. Here’s a graph of their data:

Just How Strong Is the Housing Recovery? | Simplifying The Market
The graph mirrors the one above, showing a drop in early spring followed by a strong recovery in late spring and early summer. Then, in July, it settles into a consistent level of deals. That level, like the one for purchase mortgages, is well ahead of the level seen last year. The last report revealed that pending deals were 16.9% greater than the same time last year.

Remote Work is Changing Homebuyer Needs

woman-remote-work-laptop

Remote Work is Changing Homebuyer Needs. With more companies figuring out how to efficiently and effectively enable their employees to work remotely (and for longer than most of us initially expected), homeowners throughout the country are re-evaluating their needs. Do I still need to live close to my company’s office building? Do I need a larger home with more office space? Would making a move to the suburbs make more sense for my family? All of these questions are on the table for many people as we ride the wave of the current health crisis and consider evolving homeownership needs.
According to George Ratiu, Senior Economist for realtor.com:
“The ability to work remotely is expanding home shoppers’ geographic options and driving their motivation to buy, even if it means a longer commute, at least in the short term…Although it’s too early to tell what long-term impact the COVID-era of remote work will have on housing, it’s clear that the pandemic is shaping how people live and work under the same roof.”
Working remotely is definitely changing how people spend their time at home, and also how they use their available square footage. Homeowners aren’t just looking for a room for a home office, either. The desire to have a home gym, an updated kitchen, and more space in general – indoor and outdoor – are all key factors motivating some buyers to change their home search parameters.
A recent realtor.com-HarrisX survey indicates:
“In a June poll of 2,000 potential home shoppers who indicated plans to make a purchase in the next year, 63% of those currently working from home stated their potential purchase as a result of their ability to work remotely, while nearly 40% [of] that number expected to purchase a home within four to six months and 13% said changes related to pandemic fueled their interest in buying a new home.

Clearly, people are thinking differently about homeownership today, and through a new lens. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) notes:
“New single-family home sales jumped in June, as housing demand was supported by low-interest rates, a renewed consumer focus on the importance of housing, and rising demand in lower-density markets like suburbs and exurbs.”

Through these challenging times, you may have found your home becoming your office, your children’s classroom, your workout facility, and your family’s safe haven. This has quickly shifted what home truly means to many families. More than ever, having a place to focus on professional productivity while many competing priorities (and distractions!) are knocking on your door is challenging homeowners to get creative, use space wisely, and ultimately find a place where all of these essential needs can realistically be met. In many cases, a new home is the best option.
In today’s real estate market, making a move while mortgage rates are hovering at historic lows may enable you to purchase more home for your money, just when you and your family need it most.
If you are interested in buying or selling a home, call Bill & Start Packing at 705-238-6001. Making a move into a larger home may be exactly what you need to set your family up for optimal long-term success.