Real EstateSelling October 3, 2022

Now more than ever, pricing your Pittsburgh HOME matters!

A shift in the real estate market will make pricing your Pittsburgh home correctly even more critical. If you have watched the news recently, you have most likely heard that the market is slowing down. With the possibility of a recession looming, everyone is being more cautious.

But, people will still need to buy and sell homes. The market isn’t bad; it is just a bit different from what we have experienced over the past two years. With an increasing inventory of available homes, sellers must be more intentional about the price they ask for their homes.

There have always been three areas that cause a home to sell: condition, price, and location.

That hasn’t changed even in a hot market. However, since you can’t do anything about the location, the condition and price are the two things a seller can control.

I have talked about the importance of preparing your home before listing it for sale. You can read this blog post for tips on getting your home ready.

If you have done what you can to ensure the condition of your home is appealing, then the last thing you need to consider is how to price your home.

Keep in mind as you determine your asking price whether the location or condition would be an issue for a potential buyer. If so, then your pricing will need to adjust accordingly.

Asking the right price from the beginning is crucial in successfully selling your Pittsburgh home.

Many sellers mistakenly believe they can come down on price when the buyer makes an offer. The flaw in this belief is that the right buyer may never see your home at your higher asking price based on their search criteria. Buyers will select a maximum price range that they are willing to spend. If your home is outside of that range, they most likely won’t choose your home to view.

Testing a higher price can backfire if you do not quickly adjust your price. In addition, the longer your Pittsburgh home sits on the market, a buyer begins to believe there is something wrong with the house. Therefore, they will not be interested in seeing it.

As a trusted real estate agent, I aim to price your home to get the maximum exposure possible. We want as many buyers as possible to show interest in your home. To determine the right price, I like to consider the value of homes in your neighborhood, current market trends and buyer demand, the condition of your house, and the competing homes available for sale.

In the long run, pricing your listing correctly will result in more substantial offers and a quicker sale. We are still in a seller’s market, and you stand to benefit if you are realistic about the asking price of your home.

Mike Simonsen, the Founder and CEO of Altos Research stated in a recent HousingWire article:

“We can see that demand is still there for the homes that are priced properly.”

We are experiencing the same here in the Pittsburgh real estate market. Homes priced right are selling quickly. Work with a real estate professional to ensure you price your home based on current market conditions to maximize your sales potential and minimize hassle in a shifting market.

With 19 years as a full-time Realtor in the local Pittsburgh market, I have experienced many shifts in the market. I can help you navigate this current shift also. Contact me by phone at 412-848-3907 or email at Kim.Esposito1@pittsburghmoves.com to schedule a free consultation to discuss your real estate needs.

Selling August 3, 2022

Are you ready to downsize your Pittsburgh home?

 

 

The decision to downsize your Pittsburgh home can come anytime. Many choose to downsize after their children have left home. The popularity of simplifying can also be a factor in downsizing.

Whether your house is too big, too costly, or too difficult for you to maneuver, downsizing will be an adjustment.

If you are unsure whether you should downsize, start by creating a list of the pros and cons.

Downsizing Pros:

  • You will have less upkeep in a smaller home.
  • Bills for utilities, maintenance, and taxes may be lower.
  • You will save time by having less to maintain.
  • Your quality of life may improve.
  • The new home is better suited for your needs.
  • You may have more free time for travel.
  • You can age in place with the right choice of home.
  • You can relocate closer to family or friends.

Downsizing Cons:

  • It may be difficult to find a home in your desired area.
  • Uncertainty of being comfortable in a smaller place.
  • Finding the right floorplan to accommodate your needs.
  • The lack of storage for the items you wish to keep.

Before making a final decision, it is wise to look at a few homes to understand what is available.

If you decide it is the right time to downsize, you need to understand the costs of making a move.

First, calculate the costs to sell your home and purchase a new one:

  • Preparing your house for sale
  • Moving expenses
  • Homeowner’s insurance and property taxes
  • Homeowner’s association fee, if applicable
  • New items for the new home
  • Modifications to the new home
  • Storage unit, if needed

You will need to start with decluttering and deciding what you want to take with you. Preparing your home may take a little more time than you anticipate.

There are many ways to sort, declutter and organize your belongings. This article discusses several ways to approach the task. Decluttering and organizing have become viral thanks to shows like Marie Kondo and The Home Edit.

It is understandably hard to go through sentimental items you have built up throughout the years. However, if you do not have the storage space in your new home, you can take photos to keep the memory without taking up your limited storage space.

If the job is just too much, you may need to bring in help. Some professional organizers can help you declutter and pack. Family and friends may be willing to help you too.

You may be surprised at the emotions and feelings that you may experience throughout the process.

  • Memories
  • Fear of the Unknown
  • Stress
  • Family Pressure
  • Overwhelm

Remind yourself why you decided to make a move as you work through the feelings and emotions. In the end, it will be worth all the effort.

Having a real estate professional who understands the real estate process and how to make a move as straightforward as possible will lessen some stress.

I am a Seniors Real Estate Specialist, and I have helped many homeowners transition from one home to another and understand the emotions and work involved. With 18 years as a full-time Realtor in the local Pittsburgh market, I can help you navigate this process with care and professionalism. Contact me by phone at 412-848-3907 or email at Kim.Esposito1@pittsburghmoves.com to schedule a free consultation to discuss your real estate needs.

Buying July 15, 2022

Is Pittsburgh homeownership right for you?

If you consider Pittsburgh Homeownership, you may wonder if now is the right time for you. There are some reasons that renting may be a better option for a few, but there are many more benefits to owning a home.

Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of Pittsburgh homeownership:

Financial Benefits
A home purchase is one of the most significant financial investments one will make in their lifetime. The benefits of investing in a home are:

Strengthening Credit
Making your home mortgage payments on time consistently will build your credit rating, which allows you to obtain other types of credit like purchasing an automobile or investing in other properties. In addition, as you pay down your mortgage, your credit score will increase.

Fixed Housing Cost
A fixed monthly payment helps you budget your monthly income more consistently. Your landlord can increase your monthly payment at determined intervals when you rent. With a fixed-rate mortgage, your principal and interest payment remains the same throughout the life of the loan.

Equity
Each month, a portion of your mortgage payment pays down the principal amount. Equity is the difference between what you owe and the current value of your home. Over time, appreciation and lowering of the principal amount will increase the equity. You may be able to leverage the equity for other financial needs.

Personal and Emotional Benefits
Our homes have become our havens, primarily through the pandemic. Unison recently published a report, State of the American Homeowner. This report discusses how homeownership has become more important to us through the pandemic.

Sanctuary
Our homes became our offices, schools, gyms, and even our churches and synagogues through the pandemic. Our homes are where we eat, sleep, and spend time with family.

Security
Many homeowners felt a sense of safety in their homes throughout the pandemic by controlling any potential exposure. As a result, people found refuge in their homes.

Importance
Our homes have gained more significance in our lives. More homeowners admit they love their home more now than they did pre-pandemic.

Social Benefits
Achieving the American Dream through Pittsburgh Homeownership has long been associated with success. But, owning your home also provides some social benefits.

Community
Living in a community provides a level of stability. Homeowners have a vested interest in keeping the community vibrant which contributes to maintaining property values. Many become involved in community organizations and government to better the livability of their neighborhood.

Financial Education
As homeowners gain the financial knowledge of homeownership, they are likely to pass this knowledge down through the generations. This unexpected benefit of homeownership can change generations as parents teach their children how to handle mortgage payments and all the responsibilities that come along with it.

Privacy
Community involvement is part of homeownership, but having a place to unwind in private is also a benefit many homeowners enjoy. You control when you invite others into your home and when you just need an evening of quiet enjoyment.

Everyone needs to decide what is right for them in their current situation. If Pittsburgh homeownership is something you would like to achieve, I would love to meet with you to help you decide if this is the right time.

Being an Accredited Buyer Representative, I will guide you through the home buying process as I’ve been a full-time realtor in our local Pittsburgh real estate market for the last18 years. Contact me by phone at 412-848-3907 or email at Kim.Esposito1@pittsburghmoves.com to schedule a free consultation to discuss your real estate needs.

BuyingReal Estate June 29, 2022

Don’t Ignore Red Flags During Your PGH Home Search

Starting your Pittsburgh home search is an exciting time. You can imagine yourself comfortably settled in your new home. The home is in the right neighborhood with the number of bedrooms and bathrooms you wanted. You have mentally placed your furniture in each and every room of the house. And, yes, you should be excited.

Purchasing a home is one of the most significant investments you will make. It is important to protect your investment by watching for red flags along the way to ensure you are investing wisely.

THE DEMAND FOR HOUSES HAS BEEN HIGH IN THE PITTSBURGH AREA.

It is tempting to overlook some issues when your desire to own the home is at its peak. I frequently hear a buyer say, “we can take care of that after closing.”

Before you dismiss a red flag, be sure you know what is involved in the correction of the issue. It may seem easy to remedy but in actuality, it could end up costing far more than expected.

Not only can red flags pop up in the home, but they can also be found in the yard or even the neighborhood. Familiarize yourself with the area to learn what is happening in the community as an essential step in your Pittsburgh home search.

POTENTIAL RED FLAGS IN THE HOME WILL MOST LIKELY BE FOUND THROUGH A HOME INSPECTION UNLESS THEY ARE GLARINGLY OBVIOUS.

Some things to pay attention to as you walk through the house:

Doors that won’t properly close.
Mold-whether you see it or smell it.
Water stains may indicate a leak or roof issue.
Sloping floors can relate to potential foundation issues.
Sagging ceilings can be the result of roof leaks or structural issues.
Active pest infestations.
Incomplete disclosures should be questioned.
Outside the home some other red flags may be:

Lack of ventilation under roof eaves and exhaust vents.
Condition of the roof.
Improper drainage in the yard causing standing water.
Foundation cracks.
You can find some red flags even before you visit the home through the marketing:

Property descriptions like as-is condition, needs TLC, or a fixer-upper.
If the home has been on the market for an extended period.
When the house is priced below other homes.
No interior pictures online.
The final place to look for red flags is in the neighborhood and municipality:

Are there a large number of homes for sale?
Does the advertising mention it is an “up and coming” neighborhood?
What economic factors are affecting the area?
Discover.com has a good article on how to research a neighborhood before you buy that may interest you.

HAVING THE AWARENESS OF WHAT COULD BE A POTENTIAL RED FLAG WILL ALLOW YOU TO BEGIN YOUR PITTSBURGH HOME SEARCH WITH CONFIDENCE.

You should also have a team of professionals who are experienced to help you along the way. Your real estate agent, home inspector, lender, and title company will work with you to make a wise investment. You can read more about the role of each of these team players in this previous blog post.

I have had the privilege of working with many real estate clients in the 18 years I have been selling homes in Pittsburgh. Having an experienced advisor by your side during a home purchase can save you aggravation and money.

Contact me by phone at 412-848-3907 or email at kim.esposito1@pittsburghmoves.com to schedule a free consultation to discuss your real estate needs.

BuyingReal Estate June 29, 2022

Earnest Money in the Pittsburgh Real Estate Market

Earnest or hand money is part of a sales agreement in the Pittsburgh Real Estate Market. Understanding its purpose and handling is sometimes confusing.

When a seller receives an offer on a Pittsburgh home, the sales agreement has a section regarding the initial deposit.  This amount is what your real estate agent may refer to as earnest money or hand money.

Earnest money is just like it sounds. It means that the potential buyer is earnest in their desire to buy your home. The receipt of the earnest money is time-sensitive. The number of days can vary. Five days from the date of acceptance is the standard default.

When negotiations are complete, the buyer’s earnest money is part of the cost of buying the home. The broker holding the earnest money may be able to return it to the buyer if they decide to cancel their agreement during the contingency periods.

The earnest money will go towards a buyer’s total out-of-pocket costs that they bring to the closing table. Keep in mind that earnest money does not always lock a potential buyer into the sales agreement.
If an issue arises with the house during the home inspections, the buyer can receive their hand money back as long as it’s within the contingency period stated in the agreement of sale. In addition, there are other contingencies to protect the buyer’s interest in their hand money if the deal falls through.

The amount of hand money is negotiable. Your real estate agent will guide you on an appropriate recommendation for the Pittsburgh real estate market.

The supply and demand of the market can also impact the amount of earnest money required. It is not uncommon for a seller to request a higher amount than initially offered if multiple offers are received.

The seller does not receive the earnest money. Instead, the state regulations require the earnest money to be deposited in a non-interest-bearing escrow account until the home sale is finalized.

In some cases, the title company representative may hold the earnest money or the buyer’s broker involved in the transaction.

Hand money is the insurance that both parties will address all agreements or contingencies agreed upon. So, for example, if the buyer just decides they don’t want the home even though all his conditions or contingencies were met and breaks the deal, the seller may be entitled to keep the escrow.

The buyer and seller must agree on the release of hand money and sign a termination agreement if the transaction falls through.

To learn tips on buying your Pittsburgh home, check out this previous blog post.

I offer a free consultation for buyers and sellers. I believe a client who understands the process from the start experiences less anxiety through the process. In my 18 years of experience, I have guided many clients through the home sale process in the Pittsburgh real estate market.
Contact me by phone at 412-848-3907 or email at Kim.Esposito1@pittsburghmoves.com .com to schedule a free consultation to discuss your real estate needs.

 

BuyingReal Estate June 29, 2022

Three Reasons to Buy Your Home, NOW!

Listen carefully to your trusted real estate agent’s advice; NOW is the right time to buy your Pittsburgh home! It is no secret we have been in one of the most unprecedented real estate markets Pittsburgh has experienced. Houses are selling fast, and buyers have had to compete with multiple offers. It can be difficult and frustrating, but I believe it is the right time to buy.

Here are three reasons why it’s advantageous to buy your Pittsburgh home now:

1. Mortgage rates are going to continue to increase.

Mortgage rates have been historically low. However, mortgage rates increased in January, and projections expect them to rise. The factors that are fueling those predictions are high inflation, Federal policy changes, and the dwindling impact of the pandemic.

Industry news is showing predictions from many in the banking and real estate industry who agree that the mortgage interest rates will increase during 2022. Of course, these industry insiders don’t have a crystal ball to see the future, but they study the market and the indicators.

Some factors that they are watching are the current inflation rates, the dwindling effects of the pandemic, and the Federal Reserve’s announcement that the economy is healthy enough and needs a tighter monetary policy.

2. Monthly mortgage costs will increase as the interest rate increases.

As the interest rate rises, it will cost you more per month for your mortgage payment.

Let’s take a look at the difference if you were able to purchase a $300,000 home with a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage at 3% vs. 4%.

Monthly principle and interest payment – 3% $1,265.00

Monthly principle and interest payment – 4% $1,432.00

That is a difference of $167.00 per month. So, over the life of the loan, you will be paying over $60,000.00 more for the same home. That is significant!

When mortgage interest rates increase, the price of the home you can purchase will also be affected. This is because the maximum sales price you qualify for will reduce as the interest rate increases.

3. The American Dream

Owning a home has long been held as the American Dream. I see the joy on my client’s faces when I hand them the key to their new home! A permanent place to call home gives you a sense of stability and belonging to the community. The pride of ownership is evident as you drive through some of your favorite Pittsburgh neighborhoods. Purchasing a home could be the most significant investment you make, where you can build equity that you can leverage if needed. There are certain tax deductions that you may also be able to take advantage of when you own a home.

With over 18 years of experience in the local Pittsburgh real estate market, I have the experience to help a home buyer succeed in a competitive market. I believe that now is a good time to buy your Pittsburgh home.

Understanding the home buying process, the decisions you will need to make when you place an offer, and how to negotiate are topics I cover with my home buyers in the free consultation I offer.

Contact me by phone at 412-848-3907 or email at Kim.Esposito1@pittsburghmoves.com to schedule a free consultation to discuss your real estate needs.

BuyingReal Estate June 29, 2022

Tips for Home Buying Success in Pittsburgh!

Home buying success is more than just finding the right home but also navigating the process smoothly.

There are few purchases in life that carry the financial and psychological weight of buying a home. Whether you are buying your first home, moving up to your dream home, or downsizing,  it is important to understand the ground rules for success in the world of buying a home.

Buying a home can be an emotional process. That’s why it’s important to use a systemic approach to ensure that decisions are based on information and reason and not only on emotion.

There are five basic ground rules when it comes to buying a home, and they are:

#1 – Get pre-qualified before looking at houses.

There are few things in life as disappointing as losing out on the home of your dreams due to not being able to secure financing.  While the desire to get out there and search for that great home is understandable, it is vital to line up the financing you will need before you start shopping for a home.

Getting the financing ahead of time has several significant advantages, including knowing how much you can buy.  Knowing how much you can afford will avoid wasting your time looking at unaffordable properties.

It is also important to take a good look at the various types of mortgages before starting the home buying process.  These days, mortgages come in far more choices; therefore, potential home buyers need to gauge which mortgage is the best choice for their needs.

#2 – Look at the community, not just the home.

It is good to look at the entire community instead of focusing on a single home. This can be a particularly important thing to consider for those moving to a new metropolitan area. As these buyers will be unfamiliar with the local climate and lifestyle.  It is crucial to determine the areas of town that are most desirable. Also, consider things like distance from work and local shopping opportunities.

We have all heard that location is the key consideration for real estate, which is undoubtedly the case.  Buying a house in the wrong area can be a big mistake. It is important to choose the location and the home.  Potential buyers can learn a great deal about the nature of the various neighborhoods simply by driving around town and talking to residents. One helpful link for comparing areas is: 2021 Best Places to Live in the Pittsburgh Area – Niche

#3 – Be fair with your first offer.

It is important to evaluate the local market carefully and compare the home’s asking price with what similar houses in the neighborhood have sold for. With a lowball offer, you risk the possibility of insulting the seller or having your offer discarded in a multiple offer situation.

Comparing the sales of comparable homes, known as “comps” in the industry, is one of the best ways to determine what is fair and make sure that you neither overpay nor underbid on the property.

#4 – Consider getting a home inspection.

You will have the opportunity to investigate the home for any possible defects.  Compared to the cost of the average home, the price of a quality home inspection is virtually negligible. Hence, getting a good home inspection done before you close is a good idea.

#5 – Do not alienate the sellers of the home.

Many real estate deals have fallen apart due to the personal animosity of the buyer and the seller. Therefore, it is important to avoid alienating the seller of the home during the process and avoid nitpicking every detail during the sale.

Keeping the seller’s goodwill will help the transaction go smoothly, and it will provide the best environment for the seller and buyer alike.

The competition has been extremely high in our current real estate market. You should have an experienced real estate agent working on your behalf to ensure home buying success. I am an Accredited Buyer Representative and am here to make your home buying process as smooth as possible!

Contact me by phone at 412-848-3907 or email at Kim.Esposito1@pittsburghmoves.com to schedule a free consultation to discuss your real estate needs.

BuyingHome ImprovementsReal Estate June 29, 2022

Home Staging Tips for your Pittsburgh Home!

 

 

Even in a hot real estate market, it is essential to spend time staging your Pittsburgh home. Sellers who have taken the time to stage their homes have realized a quicker sale, multiple offers, and oftentimes sales prices above the asking price.

There is a psychology to home staging that allows homebuyers to picture themselves living in the home. Decluttering, furniture placement, and removing personal items help buyers visualize their lives there. You can successfully stage your Pittsburgh home without breaking the bank. Here are some money-saving tips that you can use.

  • A thorough cleaning is the most valuable thing you can do to begin staging your home. Whether you do it yourself or hire a professional, it will be an excellent investment. Do the detailed work that is not on our weekly to-do lists, like wiping down baseboards, removing marks from walls, and cleaning grout. Buyers appreciate a clean home and may feel the house is maintained well.
  • Create a welcoming atmosphere on the front porch. This is their first impression, so make it a good one. Buyers spend more time than most think at the front door. The agent needs to access the key to open the door, which gives the buyer time to look over the front porch. After a thorough cleaning, you can set the stage relatively inexpensively with some potted flowers, a fresh doormat, and a welcoming wreath on the front door.
  • Reuse and repurpose decorative items. Go through your home and evaluate the items you have. You may also have some things in storage that you are not currently using. Determine the feel you want for each room and sort the items you have that will evoke that feeling.
  • Create a telescope. If you have a formal dining room, set the table as you would for a special occasion dinner. Create a simple lunch or dinner table in the kitchen. Setting the tables helps visualize daily life.
  • Green your home with houseplants. House plants are a great space filler, but they are also known to clean the air. Strategically place easy to care for plants throughout your home. Keep the plants well-manicured.
  • Create comfortable, cozy spaces. You may want to create a relaxing area in front of the television or a reading nook. Using some inexpensive blankets and throw pillows can help set that scene.
  • Use mirrors to make your spaces feel open and more expansive. If you have a small room that you would like to feel larger, using a mirror can help. Using a larger mirror works best to achieve the result you want. Hanging mirrors and artwork at the average person’s eye level (60 inches from the floor) is recommended.
  • Don’t clutter bookshelves. Use books and decorative items on the shelves, but leave open spaces. Psychologically this allows the buyer to feel there is room for their items too.
  • Books can be a great decorative item that prompts a cozy feeling. You can find inexpensive books at thrift stores if you need to purchase them. Books can be used in areas other than bookshelves too. Try elevating a small lamp with a stack of books, create a vignette near the sofa with books and a blanket, and don’t forget the popular coffee table books.
  • Paint if necessary. Bold color choices may be overwhelming to a buyer. Neutral colors appeal to a broader range of buyers. If you have a room that is an unusual color or personalized in some way, it may be wise to invest in a gallon of paint to repaint the room before listing the house.

Staging your Pittsburgh home may not be how you actually live in your home. But, when done correctly, any inconvenience will be short for your household when it sells quickly. Then you can start packing!

With 18 years of experience in the local Pittsburgh real estate market, I can guide you through the home selling process. Contact me by phone at 412-848-3907 or email at Kim.Esposito1@pittsburghmoves.com to schedule a free consultation to discuss your real estate needs.