Your Opportunity to Achieve the American Dream Keeps Getting Better!

Forbes.com recently released the latest results of their American Dream Index, in which they measure “the prosperity of the middle class, and…examine which states best support the American Dream.”

The monthly index measures several different economic factors, including goods-producing employment, personal and commercial bankruptcies, building permits, startup activity, unemployment insurance claims, labor force participation, and layoffs.

The national index score was rounded out to 100.0 in January as a baseline for comparison and it rose the fourth straight month in a row to 101.8.

Alaska, coming in at 89.4, represented the lowest score on the index due in part to the recent collapse in oil prices. In contrast, Wyoming came in with the highest score at 115.1. The full results can be seen in the map below.

Forbes Senior Editor Kurt Badenhausen explained why many states saw a boost in the index last month:

“The American Dream Index rose for the fourth straight month to 101.8 propelled by gains in goods-producing jobs and building permits, as well as declines in unemployment claims and mass layoffs.

Goods-producing jobs (manufacturing, mining, construction and agriculture) were up for the ninth straight month in May…Building permits rose for the fourth straight month compared to the prior year.”

Bottom Line

The American Dream, for many, includes being able to own a home of one’s own. With the economy improving in many areas of the country, that dream can finally become a reality.

About Carol Juntunen: I'm a Realtor® with Baird & Warner in the Chicago area. My intention is to provide insights and information to empower you to make confident, informed real estate choices and decisions, and guide you through the home buying and selling process.

How can I help you achieve your real estate goals?

Ready to buy or sell? Call or text me today:
Cell:    224-523-2217
Website: www.caroljuntunen.com
Email:   carol.juntunen@bairdwarner.com

Designations: 
Certified Probate Real Estate Expert (CPRES)
Seniors (50+) Real Estate Specialist (SRES)
Certified Negotiation Expert (CNE)
Pricing Strategy Advisor (PSA)
Certified Staging Consultant (CSC)
Internet Marketing Expert (e-PRO)

Staging Tips to Help Your Home Sell

In real estate, staging a home and selling a home often go hand in hand. Though the process can be involved, the results are indisputable. Need some help executing an effective home staging? Browse this list of resources to help you dazzle prospective buyers and increase your chances of a quick home sale.

Clear Clutter 
Not only will decluttering your property make moving day easier, but clearing space also gives viewers room to visualize themselves living in your space. Some items you can sell or donate outright. What about the housewares or sentimental objects you want to hold on to but need to remove to optimize showings? Give them a temporary home in a storage unit or portable moving container.

Set Up Your Space 
Focus on staging the rooms that see the most action: the living room, kitchen and master bedroom. If reinventing multiple rooms in your home is too expensive, you do have the option of renting furniture and accessories. It’s a quick way to supply art for the walls, lamps to improve lighting or even an entire suite of furniture. Just be sure to sign with a furniture rental company that offers delivery and pickup as part of their packages. When you’re getting ready to move, the last thing you want is to ferry furniture between multiple locations.

Hire Help
Some homeowners aren’t up to the task of a full home staging, and that’s OK. That’s where I come in! As a Certified Staging Consultant (CSC) with a background in art and home repairs and improvements, I can ensure that a little work up front will yield huge benefits in the end.

Let’s explore your options! Call or text me if you’re thinking about selling your house!

About Carol Juntunen: I'm a Realtor® with Baird & Warner in the Chicago area. My intention is to provide insights and information to empower you to make confident, informed real estate choices and decisions, and guide you through the home buying and selling process.

How can I help you achieve your real estate goals?

Ready to buy or sell? Call or text me today:
Cell:    224-523-2217
Website: www.caroljuntunen.com
Email:   carol.juntunen@bairdwarner.com

Designations: 
Certified Probate Real Estate Expert (CPRES)
Seniors (50+) Real Estate Specialist (SRES)
Certified Negotiation Expert (CNE)
Pricing Strategy Advisor (PSA)
Certified Staging Consultant (CSC)
Internet Marketing Expert (e-PRO)

The Importance of Home Equity in Retirement Planning

We often discuss the difference in family wealth between homeowner households and renter households. Much of that difference is the result of the equity buildup that homeowners experience over the time that they own their home. In a report recently released by the nonpartisan Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), they reveal how valuable equity can be in retirement planning.

Craig Copeland, Senior Research Associate at EBRI, recently authored a report, Importance of Individual Account Retirement Plans and Home Equity in Family Total Wealth, in which he reveals:

“Individual account retirement plan assets, plus home equity, represent almost all of what families have to use for retirement expenses outside of Social Security and traditional pensions. Those families without individual account assets typically have very low overall assets, so they have almost nothing to draw from for retirement expenses.”

The report echoed the findings of a working paper, Home Equity Patterns among Older American Households, authored by Barbara Butrica and Stipica Mudrazija of Urban Institute. Fannie Mae highlighted these findings for their blog The Home Story this past winter, quoting Butrica and Mudrazija:

“For most adults near traditional retirement age, a home is their most valuable asset — dwarfing retirement accounts, other financial assets, and other nonfinancial assets. Although relatively few retirees tap into their home equity, having it provides financial security… In fact, many retirement security experts argue that the conventional three-legged stool of retirement resources — Social Security, pensions, and savings — is incomplete because it ignores the home.”

USAToday interviewed two area experts to comment on the EBRI report. Randy Bruns, a private wealth adviser with HighPoint Planning Partners, agreed with the findings:

“Social Security and home equity are major pieces of the retirement puzzle.”

Wade Pfau, Professor of Retirement Income at The American College of Financial Services and author of Reverse Mortgages: How to use Reverse Mortgages to Secure Your Retirement, said having the equity without a plan to use it won’t help:

“Home equity is a very important asset for American retirees, and so it is important to think about how to make best use of home equity in retirement planning.”

Bottom Line

Whether you use the equity in your home through a reverse mortgage or by selling and downsizing to a less expensive home, it should be a crucial piece of your retirement planning. Call or text me if you would like to know how much equity you have in your home.

About Carol Juntunen: I'm a Realtor® with Baird & Warner in the Chicago area. My intention is to provide insights and information to empower you to make confident, informed real estate choices and decisions, and guide you through the home buying and selling process.

How can I help you achieve your real estate goals?

Ready to buy or sell? Call or text me today:
Cell:    224-523-2217
Website: www.caroljuntunen.com
Email:   carol.juntunen@bairdwarner.com

Designations: 
Certified Probate Real Estate Expert (CPRES)
Seniors (50+) Real Estate Specialist (SRES)
Certified Negotiation Expert (CNE)
Pricing Strategy Advisor (PSA)
Certified Staging Consultant (CSC)
Internet Marketing Expert (e-PRO)

Do You Know How Much Equity You Have in Your Home?

CoreLogic’s latest Equity Report revealed that 91,000 properties regained equity in the first quarter of 2017. This is great news for the country, as 48.2 million of all mortgaged properties are now in a positive equity situation.

Price Appreciation = Good News for Homeowners

Frank Nothaft, CoreLogic’s Chief Economist, explains:

One million borrowers achieved positive equity over the last year, which means risk continues to steadily decline as a result of increasing home prices.”

Frank Martell, President and CEO of CoreLogic, believes this is a great sign for the market in 2017 as well, as he had this to say:

Homeowner equity increased by $766 billion over the last year, the largest increase since Q2 2014. The rising cushion of home equity is one of the main drivers of improved mortgage performance. Since home equity is the largest source of homeowner wealth, the increase in home equity also supports consumer balance sheets, spending and the broader economy.”

This is great news for homeowners! But, do they realize that their equity position has changed?

According to the Fannie Mae’s Home Purchase Sentiment Index (HPSI), more homeowners are beginning to realize that they may have more equity than they first thought.

This is only the second time in the survey’s history that the net share of those saying it’s a good time to sell surpassed the net share of those saying it’s a good time to buy.

78.8% of homeowners have significant equity (more than 20%) in their homes today!

This means that many Americans with a mortgage have an opportunity to take advantage of today’s seller’s market. With a sizeable equity position, many homeowners could easily move into a housing situation that better meets their current needs (moving to a larger home or downsizing).

Doug Duncan, Senior Vice President and Chief Economist at Fannie Mae spoke out on this issue:

“High home prices have led many consumers to give us the first clear indication we’ve seen in the National Housing Survey’s seven-year history that they think it’s now a seller’s market. However, we continue to see a lack of housing supply as many potential sellers are unwilling or unable to put their homes on the market…” 

Bottom Line

If you are one of the many Americans who is unsure of how much equity you have built in your home, don’t let that be the reason you fail to move on to your dream home in 2017! Let’s get together to evaluate your situation!

About Carol Juntunen: I'm a Realtor® with Baird & Warner in the Chicago area. My intention is to provide insights and information to empower you to make confident, informed real estate choices and decisions, and guide you through the home buying and selling process.

How can I help you achieve your real estate goals?

Ready to buy or sell? Call or text me today:
Cell:    224-523-2217
Website: www.caroljuntunen.com
Email:   carol.juntunen@bairdwarner.com

Designations: 
Certified Probate Real Estate Expert (CPRES)
Seniors (50+) Real Estate Specialist (SRES)
Certified Negotiation Expert (CNE)
Pricing Strategy Advisor (PSA)
Certified Staging Consultant (CSC)
Internet Marketing Expert (e-PRO)

Top Home Renovations for Maximum ROI [INFOGRAPHIC]

Some Highlights:

  • Whether you are selling your home, just purchased your first home, or are a homeowner planning to stay put for a while, there is value in knowing which home improvement projects will net you the most Return On Investment (ROI).
  • While big projects like adding a bathroom or a complete kitchen remodel are popular ways to increase a home’s value, something as simple as updating landscaping and curb appeal can have a quick impact on a home’s value.
  • For more information about top renovation projects that net you the most ROI, you can check out the complete list here.
About Carol Juntunen: I'm a Realtor® with Baird & Warner in the Chicago area. My intention is to provide insights and information to empower you to make confident, informed real estate choices and decisions, and guide you through the home buying and selling process.

How can I help you achieve your real estate goals?

Ready to buy or sell? Call or text me today:
Cell:    224-523-2217
Website: www.caroljuntunen.com
Email:   carol.juntunen@bairdwarner.com

Designations: 
Certified Probate Real Estate Expert (CPRES)
Seniors (50+) Real Estate Specialist (SRES)
Certified Negotiation Expert (CNE)
Pricing Strategy Advisor (PSA)
Certified Staging Consultant (CSC)
Internet Marketing Expert (e-PRO)

#1 Reason to List Your House for Sale, NOW!

If you are debating listing your house for sale this year, here is the #1 reason not to wait!

Buyer Demand Continues to Outpace the Supply of Homes for Sale 

The National Association of REALTORS’ (NAR) Chief Economist Lawrence Yun recently commented on the inventory:

Last month’s dip in closings was somewhat expected given that there was such a strong sales increase in March at 4.2 percent, and new and existing inventory is not keeping up with the fast pace homes are coming off the market.

Demand is easily outstripping supply in most of the country and it’s stymieing many prospective buyers from finding a home to purchase”.

The latest Existing Home Sales Report shows that there is currently a 4.2-month supply of homes for sale. This remains lower than the 6-month supply necessary for a normal market, and 4.6% lower than a year ago.

The chart below details the year-over-year inventory shortages experienced over the last 12 months:

Anything less than a six-month supply is considered a “seller’s market.”

Bottom Line

Let’s get together and discuss the supply conditions in your neighborhood to be able to assist you in gaining access to the buyers who are ready, willing and able to buy now! Call or text me TODAY!

About Carol Juntunen: I'm a Realtor® with Baird & Warner in the Chicago area. My intention is to provide insights and information to empower you to make confident, informed real estate choices and decisions, and guide you through the home buying and selling process.

How can I help you achieve your real estate goals?

Ready to buy or sell? Call or text me today:
Cell:    224-523-2217
Website: www.caroljuntunen.com
Email:   carol.juntunen@bairdwarner.com

Designations: 
Certified Probate Real Estate Expert (CPRES)
Seniors (50+) Real Estate Specialist (SRES)
Certified Negotiation Expert (CNE)
Pricing Strategy Advisor (PSA)
Certified Staging Consultant (CSC)
Internet Marketing Expert (e-PRO)

Baby Boomers Finding Freedom in Retirement

Within the next five years, Baby Boomers are projected to have the largest household growth of any other generation during that same time period, according to the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard. Let’s take a look at why…

In a recent Merrill Lynch study, “Home in Retirement: More Freedom, New Choices” they surveyed nearly 6,000 adults ages 21 and older about housing. 

Crossing the “Freedom Threshold”

Throughout our lives, there are often responsibilities that dictate where we live. Whether being in the best school district for our children, being close to our jobs, or some other factor is preventing a move, the study found that there is a substantial shift that takes place at age 61.

The study refers to this change as “Crossing the Freedom Threshold”. When where you live is no longer determined by responsibilities, but rather a freedom to live wherever you like. (see the chart below)

As one participant in the study stated:

“In retirement, you have the chance to live anywhere you want. Or you can just stay where you are. There hasn’t been another time in life when we’ve had that kind of freedom.”

On the Move

According to the study, “an estimated 4.2 million retirees moved into a new home last year alone.” Two-thirds of retirees say that they are likely to move at least once during retirement.

The top reason to relocate cited was “wanting to be closer to family” at 29%, a close second was “wanting to reduce home expenses”. See the chart below for the top 6 reasons broken down.

Not Every Baby Boomer Downsizes

There is a common misconception that as retirees find themselves with fewer children at home, they will instantly desire a smaller home to maintain. While that may be the case for half of those surveyed, the study found that three in ten decide to actually upsize to a larger home.

Some choose to buy a home in a desirable destination with extra space for large family vacations, reunions, extended visits, or to allow other family members to move in with them.

“Retirees often find their homes become places for family to come together and reconnect, particularly during holidays or summer vacations.”

Bottom Line

If your housing needs have changed or are about to change, let’s get together and discuss your next steps.

About Carol Juntunen: I'm a Realtor® with Baird & Warner in the Chicago area. My intention is to provide insights and information to empower you to make confident, informed real estate choices and decisions, and guide you through the home buying and selling process.

How can I help you achieve your real estate goals?

Ready to buy or sell? Call or text me today:
Cell:    224-523-2217
Website: www.caroljuntunen.com
Email:   carol.juntunen@bairdwarner.com

Designations: 
Certified Probate Real Estate Expert (CPRES)
Seniors (50+) Real Estate Specialist (SRES)
Certified Negotiation Expert (CNE)
Pricing Strategy Advisor (PSA)
Certified Staging Consultant (CSC)
Internet Marketing Expert (e-PRO)

 

 

3 Charts That Shout, ‘List Your Home Today!’

In school, we all learned the theory of supply and demand. When the demand for an item is greater than the supply of that item, the price will surely rise.

SUPPLY

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) recently reported that the inventory of homes for sale stands at a 3.8-month supply. This is considerably lower than the 6-month supply necessary for a normal market.

DEMAND

Every month NAR reports on the number of buyers out in the market looking for homes, which is also known as buyer traffic. As seen on the map below, buyer demand in March was strong or very strong in 45 out of 50 states nationwide, and Washington, DC.

Many buyers are being confronted with a very competitive market in which they must compete with other buyers for their dream homes (if they are even able to find a home they wish to purchase).

Listing your house for sale now will allow you to capitalize on the shortage of homes for sale in the market, which will translate into a better pricing situation.

HOME EQUITY

Many homeowners underestimate the amount of equity they currently have in their homes. According to a recent Fannie Mae study, 37% of homeowners believe that they have more than 20% equity in their homes. In reality, CoreLogic’s latest Equity Report tells us that 78.9% actually do!

Many homeowners who are undervaluing the equity they have in their homes may feel trapped, which may be contributing to the lack of inventory in the market.

Bottom Line

If you are debating selling your home this year, let’s meet up to evaluate the equity you have in your home, as well as the opportunities available in your market.

About Carol Juntunen: I'm a Realtor® with Baird & Warner in the Chicago area. My intention is to provide insights and information to empower you to make confident, informed real estate choices and decisions, and guide you through the home buying and selling process.

How can I help you achieve your real estate goals?

Ready to buy or sell? Call or text me today:
Cell:    224-523-2217
Website: www.caroljuntunen.com
Email:   carol.juntunen@bairdwarner.com

Designations: 
Certified Probate Real Estate Expert (CPRES)
Seniors (50+) Real Estate Specialist (SRES)
Certified Negotiation Expert (CNE)
Pricing Strategy Advisor (PSA)
Certified Staging Consultant (CSC)
Internet Marketing Expert (e-PRO)

Thinking of Selling? Now is the Time to Act!

If you thought about selling your house this year, now may be the time to do it. The inventory of homes for sale is well below historic norms and buyer demand is skyrocketing. We were still in high school when we learned the concept of supply and demand: the best time to sell something is when supply of that item is low and demand for that item is high. That defines today’s real estate market.

Jonathan Smoke, Chief Economist at realtor.com, revealed in a recent article that:

“The biggest challenge to buyers this spring will be simply finding a home to buy and getting it successfully under contract. That’s because the supply of homes for sale is at an all-time low, and yet demand is strong and getting stronger.”

Smoke goes on to say:

“We started the year with the lowest inventory of homes available for sale that we’ve ever seen on realtor.com. While we did see inventory grow 2% in February, total inventory was down 11% over last year.”

In this type of market, a seller may hold a major negotiating advantage when it comes to price and other aspects of the real estate transaction including the inspection, appraisal and financing contingencies.

Bottom Line

As a potential seller, you are in the driver’s seat right now. It might be time to hit the gas.

About Carol Juntunen: I'm a Realtor® with Baird & Warner in the Chicago area. My intention is to provide insights and information to empower you to make confident, informed real estate choices and decisions, and guide you through the home buying and selling process.

How can I help you achieve your real estate goals?

Ready to buy or sell? Call or text me today:
Cell:    224-523-2217
Website: www.caroljuntunen.com
Email:   carol.juntunen@bairdwarner.com

Designations: 
Certified Probate Real Estate Expert (CPRES)
Seniors (50+) Real Estate Specialist (SRES)
Certified Negotiation Expert (CNE)
Pricing Strategy Advisor (PSA)
Certified Staging Consultant (CSC)
Internet Marketing Expert (e-PRO)

It’s a Seller’s Market! Should I Downsize Now?

A study by Edelman Berland reveals that 33% of homeowners who are contemplating selling their houses in the near future are planning to scale down. Let’s look at a few reasons why this might make sense for many homeowners, as the majority of the country is currently experiencing a seller’s market.

In a blog, Dave Ramsey, the financial guru, highlighted the advantages of selling your current house and downsizing into a smaller home that better serves your current needs. Ramsey explains three potential financial advantages to downsizing:

  1. A smaller home means less space, but it also means less time, stress and money spent on upkeep.
  2. Let’s assume you save $500 a month on your mortgage payment. In 30 years, you could have an additional $1–1.6 million in the bank to get you through your golden years.
  3. Use the proceeds from selling your current home to pay cash for a smaller one. Just imagine what you could do with no mortgage holding you down! If you can’t pay cash, aim for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage and put at least 10–20% down on your new home. Apply the $500 you saved from downsizing to your new monthly payment. At 3% interest, you could pay off a $200,000 mortgage in less than 10.5 years, saving almost $16,000 in the process.

Realtor.com also addressed downsizing in an article. They suggest that you ask yourself some questions before deciding if downsizing is right for you and your family. Here are two of their questions followed by their answers (in italics) and some additional information that could help.

Q: What kind of lifestyle do I want after I downsize?

A: “For some folks, it’s a matter of living a simpler life focused on family. Some might want to cross off travel destinations on their bucket lists. Some might want a low-maintenance community with high-end upgrades and social events. Decide what you want to achieve from your move first, and you’ll be able to better narrow down your housing options.”

Comments: Many homeowners are taking the profits from the sales of their current homes and splitting it in order to put down payments on smaller homes in their current locations, as well as on vacation/retirement homes where they plan to live when they retire.

This allows them to lock in the home price and mortgage interest rate at today’s values which makes sense financially as both home prices and interest rates are projected to rise.

Q: Have I built up enough equity in my current home to make a profit?

A: “For most homeowners, the answer is yes. This is if they’ve held on to their properties long enough to have positive equity that will be sizable enough to put a large down payment on their next home.”

Comments: A study by Fannie Mae revealed that only 37% of Americans believe that they have significant equity (> 20%) in their current home. In actuality, CoreLogic’s latest Equity Report revealed that 78.9% have greater than 20% equity. That equity could enable you to build the life you’ve always dreamt about.

Bottom Line

As a Seniors (50+) Real Estate Specialist, I understand how life stages, health and economic challenges can impact real estate choices. If you are debating downsizing your home, let’s meet up to explore all your options!

About Carol Juntunen: I'm a Realtor® with Baird & Warner in the Chicago area. My intention is to provide insights and information to empower you to make confident, informed real estate choices and decisions, and guide you through the home buying and selling process.

How can I help you achieve your real estate goals?

Ready to buy or sell? Call or text me today:
Cell:    224-523-2217
Website: www.caroljuntunen.com
Email:   carol.juntunen@bairdwarner.com

Designations: 
Certified Probate Real Estate Expert (CPRES)
Seniors (50+) Real Estate Specialist (SRES)
Certified Negotiation Expert (CNE)
Pricing Strategy Advisor (PSA)
Certified Staging Consultant (CSC)
Internet Marketing Expert (e-PRO)