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Expert Tips for Navigating the Real Estate Market

Our mission at Yoder Real Estate is to be your best resource for real estate advice. Whether you are a buyer, seller, or investor, our team of professionals can answer any questions you might have about real estate. Subscribe to this blog to get the latest news on local market trends and receive expert tips for buying or selling a home.

West Michigan Real Estate Market Update



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Today, I'm here with your November 2015 West Michigan real estate market update! We'll discuss how this market compares to the 2014 November market by looking at the current data from Realtor.com.

First off, mortgage interest rates remain historically low. A 30-year fixed-rate mortgage has a 3.76% interest rate. If you are a buyer who's been on the fence, you need to take advantage of these low rates now.

Current listings are just over 4,000, which is down by 15% year over year. Additionally, we have seen a 3% decrease in inventory over the last couple of months, which is to be expected this time of year.


The median listing price is $188,000, a 19% increase year over year. Over the last 30 days, the median listing price has remained pretty steady. Again, that is very common this time of year. We will see a healthy reset as we head into the spring market, probably around late February or early March.

Finally, the average number of days on market is 60 days, which is a 13% decrease from last year. Homes are selling much faster because the market has improved since 2014. Now, over the last month the average number of days on market has gone up by 10%. Again, that is common for this time of year.

As for what to expect in 2016, market value should go up between 5% and 10%. No one knows when, but interest rates will increase next year. These historically low rates are great for buyers now, but in the long run, they just aren't healthy for the economy. You can expect rates to go up by 0.5% or 1%, which will still be incredibly low considering the past average.

It's important to know that there will be a reset in 2016. If you can buy a home today, this may be the time to do it. Capitalize on the low interest rates and the home prices before they go up next year.

If you have any questions, give me a call or send me an email. I look forward to hearing from you!

Do You Qualify for a Refund?



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Some recent home sellers may be eligible for a refund of the state transfer tax they paid at closing. This could mean a big refund for many folks because the Michigan state transfer tax is approximately 0.75% of the sales price.

That means if you sold a $275,000 home, you could have paid over $2,000 in transfer taxes at the time of your closing. The exemption itself was designed to protect sellers conducting sales in declining or depressed real estate markets, which was the case in West Michigan from 2006 until about 2012.

So, how do you know if you qualify for the refund? According to the application, there are two primary criteria to qualify for the refund.
  1. You sold your home when the property's SEV (assessed value) was less than when you bought it.
  2. The home must have been your primary residence, not a rental property or second home.
If you meet these criteria, you may ask for a refund by filling out the application for the state of Michigan department of treasury.


Additionally, sellers must submit documented evidence supporting the request. Required documentation includes the following.
  • Proof you paid the transfer tax.
  • Proof of the date of purchase and the SEV in year of purchase.
  • Proof of date of sale and the SEV in the year of sale.
  • Proof of sale price.
The application must be filed within 4 years and 15 days of the home sale. There may be penalties if you submit a request for a refund but do not qualify. Read the application carefully, and check in with an accountant if you're unsure about anything. If you have any questions, give us a call or send us an email. We would be happy to help you!

5.5 Toasty Autumn Home Selling Tips



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This is a follow-up video to my latest one where we discussed whether or not the fall was a good time to sell a home. So, what are some tips to help you get your home sold this fall?

1. Say 'Welcome' with fall decorations. Fall is a wonderful time to improve your curb appeal, especially when your leaves are changing and everything looks like it has a tint of gold. Light your fireplace, rake your leaves, and place some decorative gourds around your home.

2. Air out your home. Now is a great time to open your windows to let stale air out of your home.

3. Let the light inside! Open your windows, and leave your lights on. You can go as far as cleaning your windows and removing your screens. Buyers absolutely love to see bright homes.


4. Cut out the clutter. A good time to get organized is when you're already selling your home. Remove any personal belongings that take away from the beauty of your home. One thing I recommend is to keep bins in your rooms so that when a showing is coming up, you can just throw belongings in them and your home will be clean very quickly.

5. Tour the neighborhood. What I mean by this is that if you live near a nice restaurant or a unique shop, have your agent mention it or even leave a menu on the kitchen table to show that you eat there and that the buyer could eat there too if they lived in your home. Every home belongs to a community.

5.5 Create a quick-flip buyer's album. Take pictures of your home year-round so that the buyer can flip through and view your pool during the summer, the driveway during the winter, or the yard during the fall. This works well with a digital photo frame.

Hopefully you have found some value in this video. If you every need help selling your home in Grand Rapids, please don't hesitate to contact me!

Why Is the Fall a Better Time to Sell Than You Might Think?



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Fall is in full swing here in Grand Rapids, and many people are wondering whether selling now is a good idea. There is a lot of speculation about when the best time to sell is, so we thought we would share our opinion on the matter.

Many people believe that the fall is not a good time to sell. There is an entire subset of potential sellers who are waiting to list their home because they feel it is not the right time. There is another set of sellers who have had their homes on the market for a long time and are getting ready to take it off because they are exhausted. Most of these sellers are deciding not to sell at this time because they think there is a lack of buyers looking for homes.


The truth is, with so many homeowners deciding to take their homes off the market and waiting to sell, there is a great opportunity for those of you who want to have a successful sale. Now is a great time to be the beneficiary of the many relocation buyers that come to town during this time and other serious buyers. The real estate market does not stop just because it's a new month. At the end of the day, people buy and sell real estate whenever they want to!

Inventory is already low as we head into the next 90 days, and that number will continue to decrease. Of course, as a seller, this is great news, as demand will rise as inventory continues to fall. If your home is the only option in an area a buyer wants to purchase in, you benefit by the general lack of competition. The bottom line is, if you are ready to sell, there is simply no reason to wait!

If you have questions about selling in the fall months, or if you have real estate questions of any kind, please don't hesitate to reach out to us. We would love to hear from you.

Be Proactive About Solving these Common Real Estate Deal Breakers



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The summer market has been awesome so far in West Michigan. Inventory is low, and interest rates are stellar. However, today we are going to be talking about some potential deal breakers that may occur in our market, and how you can fix them. The new market has brought some potential challenges to us, but we want to share with you the problems we’ve been seeing, so you know what to do if faced with any of these potential issues. 



Here they are:

1.  Bad Appraisals
The market has improved, and we want nothing more for our sellers than to have them experience the benefits of an improving market condition. When you go under contract and have your home sold, everyone is clearly happy. However, when the bank comes in to do the appraisal, and it comes back lower than the purchase price, it’s always disappointing. When this happens, you will have to renegotiate the price, or the deal will fall apart. We recommend that sellers make sure their agent is doing a thorough, detailed market analysis of their home to avoid any potential appraisal issues.

2. Credit Mistakes
Nothing is more frustrating than when a buyer who has a pre-approval letter goes out and makes large, expensive purchases before the deal closes. If you are a buyer, don’t make any big purchases until your loan clears. It will affect your debt-to-income ratio and could delay the closing of your loan for quite some time. 

3. Bad Home Inspections
These tend to happen during the due diligence period. When home inspections are done, the inspector does their best to do a thorough job and go through every nook and cranny in the house looking for any defects. Sometimes, they aren’t able to uncover things because you haven’t done the due diligence as a seller to fully inspect the entire home. Bad home inspections can kill a transaction, and create a lot of unexpected expenses. 

4. Bank Delays
Lending is taking longer nowadays, and loans are getting extended. If the seller is not prepared to have a conversation with the bank, that’s frustrating. You have got to have good communication between your bank, your agent, and your lenders. If there’s an indicator it’s not going to close, the seller should be in a position to back out of that contract. Understand that when you decide to enter the market. 

5. Intense Negotiations
When it comes down to the negotiation table, look at the big picture. A few thousand dollars is not a good enough reason to abandon the transaction. Try to find some common ground and consider what your alternatives are. If you went back on the market, are you going to end up regretting it? 

These are just a few of the ways that a transaction can fall apart, but hopefully if you find yourself in any of these situations, you’ll know what to do. If you have any questions for us, feel free to give us a call or send us an email. We look forward to speaking with you soon!

Winning Strategies for Grand Rapids Bidding Wars



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The summer market is crazy busy. Today, I'll discuss some key strategies for a buyer to navigate a multiple offer situation. The underlying concern for the buyer is overpaying. There are ways to avoid overpaying, and still get the home you desire.

We always, always recommend that the first thing you do is get a pre-approval from a lender. You could be up against one other offer or ten other offers. A seller won't consider your offer without a pre-approval.

A pre-approval is much stronger than a pre-qualification, because a pre-approval letter means that the lender has verified your credit score and your income. Pre-qualifications can turn into a disaster when the lender does their homework two weeks later and discovers that the buyer wasn't telling the truth about their income.

My second strategy is use a reputable lender. Find out if they have a positive reputation in the real estate industry. Agents advise sellers on which lenders are best, so your choice of lender could have an impact on the seller's agent, who would influence the seller's decision on your offer.


Next, it's important to know the score. Learn about other offers. Find out how many offers you're competing against. Going up against one other buyer is different than going up against ten. Know the story of the home as well; a home that's been vacant and on the market for 180 days with one competing offer is much different from a home that has been on the market for one day with three competing offers. If you know the story, you can put your offer in a strong position.

It's important to understand that multiple offers usually result in the sales price being higher than the list price. If you really want the home, it's okay to go over list price. Have your agent do a market analysis first to make sure you're not overpaying.

Also, understand that the appraisal process protects you from overpaying for the home. The lender doing your mortgage will order an appraisal, and that appraisal will determine the true value. If you paid more than the true value in the purchase contract, typically the seller will do their best to match the appraised value.

Lastly, ask yourself this question: would I make an offer on this home if it was $5,000 more than it is today? If the answer is yes, then you know that the list price is arbitrary. A list price does not necessarily match the true value of the home. Buyers often overthink the list price. If you can afford $20 more in monthly payments, then you can afford to go $5,000 over the list price. It's hard to make a mistake as the market continues to improve.

This is an exciting market, and homes are selling fast. Make sure you hire an agent who does their due diligence and gives you quality advice.

If you have any questions about today's topic, or about real estate in general, give me a call or send me an email. I'd love to help you!

How to Navigate Through a Multiple Offer Situation




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Today I'm going to walk you through how to capitalize on a multiple offer situation to net the most that you possibly can from your home sale. I'll be shooting a separate video for buyers in a multiple offer situation, but this one is for sellers. 

There are multiple steps that you can take to maximize your return as a seller, but I advise you first and foremost to know the score. What I mean by this is that you should always try to garner multiple offers in every instance and your Realtor should know how to find interested parties.


You want simultaneous offers to come in on the same day, so you need to create a sense of urgency with your buyers. You want your buyers to make a decision as quickly as possible, and this will help you to get the most amount of money possible for your home. 

You also need an agent who is looking out for your best interests. Sometimes you won't need the most amount of money - you may need the speediest closing date or the offer with the best terms. You want a Realtor who realizes your needs and will stop at nothing to help you satisfy them.

If you need help selling your Grand Rapids home, please don't hesitate to contact me!

Where Are All the Listings?



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Recently, a client came to me asking about current market conditions in the Grand Rapids area, so today I thought I would give you a quick rundown of trends we've seen in recent months.

The real estate market is in full swing right now; it's the time of year when most people who have been thinking about making a move actually jump into the market. However, unlike most years, we currently have low levels of inventory. In 2008, for instance, inventory was at 13.3 months. Since that time we've seen a steady decline to reach our current levels, which sit at about 2.5 months. Why is this?

  1. There are still sellers with low equity: Believe it or not, there are still some sellers out there who are not quite where they need to be with equity. I recently saw a stat that said around 19% of sellers are still in the low equity or no equity status. 
  2. Many potential sellers refinanced after the bust: Because many people refinanced after the market crash, they now plan to stay put for a bit longer. About 16% of all potential sellers are those who refinanced with very low interest rates. 
  3. A lot of people purchased within the last 7 years: About 14% of potential sellers purchased a home within 7 years, so we probably won't see them putting their homes on the market anytime soon. 


These three groups add up to about half of all potential sellers, and none of them will sell in the next year. Additionally, there are some potential sellers who don't understand how much their homes are currently worth! Some sellers have watched the market decline for years, but haven't yet realized that we have made a substantial recovery. There's also another group of sellers who were shocked by the crash and simply don't want to take the risk of another decline in home values. In a sense, the past trauma of lost equity is stronger than their desire to own a home again. 

The thing everyone needs to realize is that now is an ideal time to sell. There are hungry buyers out there desperate for a new home. With inventory as low as it is, it is likely that you'll receive multiple offers and sell for top dollar! There's no reason to sit this one out! 

If you have any questions about current market conditions, or if you need real estate assistance of any kind, don't hesitate to reach out to us! We would love to hear from you! 

How we helped Deb sell her home by always being professional

 

"They were responsive and on top of things throughout the entire process. They are an extremely professional organization, and we were very pleased in working with them."

How to Get More Money for Your Home by Following the Rule of Price Bracketing



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Today, I want to address a topic many Grand Rapids residents are very curious about: price bracketing.

There are a lot of agents getting their licenses back now that the market is starting to recover. With so many agents out there, it's difficult to tell if you hired the right agent. 

The majority of homes that don't sell are homes that aren't priced well. If your home is overpriced by even a small margin, it could cause your home to be in the wrong price bracket. If this happens, you won't get the right eyeballs, if any, on your home and it will sit on the market for a prolonged period of time; as we all know, a stale listing usually sells for quite a bit less than it would have if it was priced right from the get go. 

When buyers look for homes, they search by price brackets. If your home is just outside of the proper bracket, the kind of people that would actually buy it won't know it exists. 

In order to avoid having this happen to you, give us a call or shoot us an email. We are experts when it comes to pricing and would love to help you get your home sold quickly and for top dollar!

How Can You Make a Smooth Transition in Grand Rapids?



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Hello, and welcome to another episode of KevinYoder.TV! Today, we want to address a dilemma many homeowners find themselves in: not knowing what to do when you can't sell your current home until you find a new one. 

Inventory is quite low right now in Grand Rapids. Since our market began to recover a few years ago, most homeowners have recovered enough of the equity they lost in the crash and are ready to make their move. The problem is that there are not enough homes on the market! Inventory usually picks up in early summer, but at this time there just isn't much to choose from.

The key question you need to ask: Do you absolutely need to sell in order to buy?

Are you a cash buyer or someone who needs to sell their home first in order to get a mortgage? Most homeowners need to sell first, but don't have the right strategy; they want to find their dream home and submit an offer that is contingent on getting their current home sold. It's important to note that contingent offers aren't worth the paper they're written on, especially in this market!

The home that you write a contingent offer on is still available on the market. So, while you think you've found the right home, there is a chance other buyers will come along and make a better offer, and you could lose the home as a result. 

Your best course of action is to get your home on the market! Getting your current home under contract will give you leverage once you find a new one - you'll be able to place a confident, competitive offer on your next home! It sounds difficult, but in a market like this you need to be bold!

If you have any questions about making a smooth transition in our marketplace, or if you need real estate assistance of any kind, give us a call or shoot us an email at any time. We would love to help you make the most of this market!

How Will the West Michigan Real Estate Market Shape up in 2015?



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Hey everyone, today we have another market update for you that includes the latest real estate statistics from Grand Rapids. Spring is just around the corner, but the spring real estate market has already begun in earnest. We have more homes under contract right now than we have ever had at this point in the market.

Whenever we are measuring the state of a real estate market, the first thing we look at is inventory. Right now, our inventory is sitting right around 7 months, which is much more balanced than the 8.5 months we saw at this point last year. 

As we head into the summer, the absorption rate will lower, and so will inventory. This is a sign of homes selling faster and the fact that there are more buyers out there looking for homes. 


Next, let's take a look at the average sale price of homes in Grand Rapids. At the end of February 2015, the figure was $139,000, up 4% from last year. The average sale price of homes right now is lower than it will be in a few months, when the market really starts to heat up for sellers.


Another important statistic is days on market, or how long a home sits on the market before it sells. Last year at this time, our market average was 102 days. Right now, the number of days is even lower, at 86 days, and our team's numbers are even lower.


I hope you've enjoyed this market update, and that it gives you a good glimpse of what's going on in our market. If you'd like to dig deeper into these numbers or want to know what your home could possibly sell for, give us a call or send us an email, we'd be glad to help out.

How Can You Sell Your Grand Rapids Home Faster and for More Money?




There are many great Grand Rapids area homes for sale. Click here to perform a full home search, or if you're thinking of selling your home, click here for a FREE Home Price Evaluation so you know what buyers will pay for your home in today's market. You may also call me at (616) 942-2449 for a FREE home buying or selling consultation to answer any of your real estate questions.

As promised, we're coming back with the last two ways you can sell your home fast and for the most money possible. 

We've all heard the phrase, "a picture is worth a thousand words." It's true. In fact, a well done photograph in real estate is worth a million words. Don't let an agent come out and take pictures of your home with a smartphone (yes, that actually happens). Make sure your agent has a photographer or hire a professional photographer yourself. You need to make sure your home looks like it's straight out of a magazine. Since the first showing is on the internet, you simply cannot underestimate the value of photographs when selling your home!

Another thing that will help you sell your home fast and for more money is to think about ease of access. Homes are easier to sell when they are vacant or when the homeowner isn't present. We prefer the home to be vacant because it allows us to show the home as much as we need to and it increases the opportunities to get the home sold for more money. Our advice is to be as flexible as you possibly can with showings, as ease of access is a HUGE factor when selling!

A couple of months ago, we sold a listing for full price and in less than two weeks using our time-tested marketing strategies. Here's what a successful home sale looks like:
  1. Location played a huge role, as the home was located in Ada, where there was a high concentration of buyers and a great school district. 
  2. Pricing: We performed a detailed market analysis, which revealed a list price that would maximize opportunities for our seller. We priced it for $219,750, and it sold for just that! 
  3. Staging: Our seller took our advice and let our expert stagers come in and work their magic. In only a few weeks, they had the home looking like new.
  4. Photography: Our professional photographers really captured the essence of this home. They used wide-angle lenses to make the home look outstanding.
  5. Ease of access: The sellers left for vacation for the first week the home was on the market, giving us an entire week to get as many showings as possible at one time. It led to multiple offers, which in turn led to us selling the home for full price.

Now, that's how you get a home sold! If you have questions about our process, or would like real estate assistance of any kind, don't hesitate to give us a call or shoot us an email. We would love to give you a hand! 

Three Important Steps to Selling Quickly and For More Money



There are many great Grand Rapids area homes for sale. Click here to perform a full home search, or if you're thinking of selling your home, click here for a FREE Home Price Evaluation so you know what buyers will pay for your home in today's market. You may also call me at (616) 942-2449 for a FREE home buying or selling consultation to answer any of your real estate questions.

Today I want to speak with you about selling your home for the most money and in the least amount of time. There are three key factors involved in accomplishing this goal, and we're going to discuss them below.
  1. Location: This will ultimately determine how many buyers look at your home. This also determines what school district you belong in, and that's an important part of determining the future value of your home. 
  2. Price: When you overprice your home, you risk losing buyers immediately. If they see your home is overpriced, they'll never take another look at it. Pricing your home correctly is the most important marketing tool that you have. If you do your research and price your home right, you'll be able to get multiple offers and that will generate top dollar for your home. 
  3. Staging: This is an extremely important way to get a good first impression out of a buyer. Besides the price of your home, this is the number one way to appeal to customers. Make sure your home is sparkling clean, very well lit, and ensure that it is not cluttered and allows easy traffic flow for showings. You don't want the buyers to think that anyone lives in your property. Homes that are clean and neutralized often sell the best.
The spring selling season is coming up, so we hope you've found some value in these tips. If you'd like more information on what you can do to net more money for your Grand Rapids home, then please contact my team. We're always willing to help you!