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Month: December 2020 (Page 2 of 10)

7 Key Ways to Save on the Average Cost of a Basement RemodelChristine BartschHomeLight Blog

Time for a basement facelift! Maybe you hope to turn your dank, dark storage space into a home office, add a bedroom, or revamp your fully finished entertainment space. Goodbye wood paneling and shag carpeting — you won’t be missed.

Now, it’s just a matter of budgeting. The average cost of a basement remodel can run you anywhere from $5,000 to $70,000. That’s quite a range… and definitely no small chunk of change. But your costs will vary depending on how much work your basement needs, the size of your space, and your vision for transforming it. And done right, this project will make your house more marketable.

“A properly finished basement definitely adds value,” advises Christine Marchesiello, a top-selling real estate agent located in the Albany, NY area. “When done legally, it’s an affordable way to add value to your home because it increases the square footage without all the work required to put an addition on the home. The space is already there, you just have to install sheetrock, add flooring, paint, and a little décor and design.”

With this guide to basement remodel costs, we’ll break down the elements your basement needs to be considered legal and help you identify key opportunities to save money so that you can maximize your investment.

A basement that has been remodeled at a high cost.
Source: (alexrusso_snaps / Shutterstock)

What legally qualifies as a finished basement?

For your basement remodel to legally qualify as living space, it needs to meet all of your state’s building codes or the return on your investment (ROI) will be zero. While the finer points vary between states, some building codes you’ll need to meet are universal, including:

Ceiling height

In order for a basement to be considered living space, it must have a minimum ceiling height of 7 feet. If your basement ceiling heights are lower than 7 feet, then it cannot qualify as living space even if remodeled.

True, you could take the drastic step of digging out your basement to gain the needed ceiling height, but this is an expensive endeavor. Just getting the architectural designs to lower your basement floor will run you between $3,000 to $4,000. And getting it dug out to lower the floor by two feet will cost between $350 and $450 per linear foot.

However, the International Residential Code (IRC), which governs both new build and remodel residential construction, does allow some leeway for beams and ducts, which are likely to impact a basement remodel.

Egress (aka emergency exit access)

Do not finish your basement without considering emergency egress. The IRC fire code states that the window must:

  • Be positioned no more than 4’4” from the floor to the lower sill
  • Be a minimum of 20” wide
  • Open to a minimum of at least 24” in height
A diagram of a window in a basement remodel.
Source: (International Building Code)

If your windows aren’t the proper size to meet the fire code requirements, there’s a high likelihood that it’s going to be called out during the home inspection. Your buyers will then either insist that you fix the emergency egress issue, or they’ll walk away.

Even if yours is an older house built before the basement egress building codes were written, your finished basement must meet current IRC fire code requirements for emergency egress to qualify as legal living space.

For example, the code in New York changed in 2016 to require newly built homes to all have an egress window in basements.

“The problem is that a lot of people with older homes finished their basements without ever getting a permit, because they didn’t want to be taxed on the additional livable square footage, which was common practice,” explains Marchesiello.

“But it’s just started coming to light that all those finished basements in older homes don’t have proper egress, which means that they cannot  legally qualify as finished. Home inspectors are calling out these improperly finished basements and in the most extreme cases, they’re having to actually rip them out.”

FYI, basement square footage is worth less

It’s easy to get excited about the amount of square footage you’ll add to your home when you remodel your basement, but don’t start counting your money yet. Basement square footage is below grade, which means it’s not valued at the same rate that the above-ground square footage of your home is valued.

“Many sellers who have, say, a 2,000 square foot house above ground and a 1,000 square foot finished basement want to list the house at 3,000 square feet, but that’s not how it works. Multiple listing services (MLS) require that we separate above ground square footage from below grade square footage,” explains Marchesiello.

“And you can’t price it as if it’s a 3,000 square foot house either, even if it’s a semi-basement that’s only half-underground. It’s still below grade square footage, which is valued at about half of what the above ground square footage is worth.”

Cost and ROI of a typical 1,000 square-foot basement remodel

With a clear understanding on how to calculate the value a basement remodel will add to your home, it’s time to dig into just how much that remodel will cost you.

The best way to determine how much your basement remodel will cost is to consult a contractor who’s experienced in basement remodel construction. A ballpark estimate on a 1,000 square foot basement indicates you’ll pay around $8,000 for a DYI remodel, and around $15,000 for a professional remodel.

A table showing the average cost of a basement remodel.
Source: (HomeAdvisor)

Alternatively, you can calculate that a basement remodel will run you between $32 to $47 per square foot.

Expect to pay several grand more for every one of these projects that your basement remodel includes:

  • the installation of new emergency egress windows
  • water damage remediation or foundation repair
  • new bathroom construction
  • erection of non-foundational walls
  • interior door installation

While basement remodels do increase your home’s overall value, according to Remodeling Magazine’s Cost vs. Value Report, you can expect to recoup around 70% of the money you invest in the project.

A graph showing the average cost of a basement remodel.
Source: (Remodeling Magazine Cost vs. Value Report)

7 ways to save on your basement remodel

It’s never a good idea to cut corners in ways that violate those building codes; you’ll just cost yourself money in the long run. Any basement remodel work that you’ve done incorrectly will either need to be repaired or torn out before you sell.

However, that doesn’t mean you need to opt for the most expensive estimate you get. There are plenty of ways that you can economize your basement remodel without sacrificing quality or finish.

1. Opt for an inexpensive, prefabricated egress window and well

If your basement remodel project requires the installation of emergency egress windows, it’s going to cost you an average of $3,750 per each egress window.

This gets pretty pricey depending on how many egress windows your basement needs. According to the IRC Emergency Escape and Rescue Requirements (R310.1), a finished basement that’s one large, open living space requires one egress window. But if you’re adding any bedrooms in your basement remodel, each one is required to have it’s own egress window.

While the national average is close to four grand, this is in part because homeowners typically want to install custom egress windows that mirror the materials and design of the house.

However, as long as your egress windows are located on the side or back of your house, they won’t compromise its curb appeal. If that’s the case, you can lower costs by purchasing prefabricated egress windows.

Prefabricated egress windows run around $600 to $700, and an economy window well sells for around $500. Add in the cost of installation which runs as low as $900, and you can bring your total cost down to around $2,000 per egress window.

2. Test exterior walls for moisture before finishing

Basements have a reputation of being damp, moldy, and musty for a reason. Groundwater from rain or melting snow can seep in from the walls and the floors, and some houses have interior moisture sources as well.

Even if your basement walls don’t seem damp, and you’ve never had an issue with mold or water damage in your basement, you could run into moisture issues if you don’t test for it first.

You can DIY this test with a roll of duct tape and aluminum foil or plastic wrap. Simply tape up a square, leave it for 24 hours, and then check to see if it’s damp. If it’s dry, you’re good to go.

If it’s collected any moisture, you need to deal with the issue before finishing your walls. Luckily, walls that fail a moisture test, but feel dry to the touch can usually be fixed with a coat of sealant, like masonry waterproofer for around $100.

For a home that has a major moisture issue, it’ll cost anywhere between $3,324 – $11,748 to properly inspect and waterproof your basement, depending on the severity of the issues.

Don’t give into the temptation to paint or drywall over your basement cement and leave the dampness be. Mildew and mold develops within 24 to 48 hours after water exposure. And if you ever sell your home and the buyer can prove that you failed to disclose known moisture issues in your basement or deliberately concealed them, they can sue you over it.

3. Cut out some studs

When your basement remodel plans include adding rooms, like an extra bedroom, study, or bathroom, you’ll need to throw up some walls to divide the space. The standard cost to frame basement walls runs between $931-$1,781.

The good news is that these walls won’t be load bearing. Since these walls have no role in holding up the house above, one of the easiest ways to save money is by reducing the number of studs in those walls.

Load-bearing walls require studs placed every 16 inches, however, non-loadbearing allow for studs placed every 24 inches. In an 8-foot wall, that reduces your number of required studs from six to four.

There’s also evidence that fewer studs in your walls will reduce your energy costs by reducing thermal bridging. Essentially, each stud acts as a temperature conductor, drawing outdoor summer heat and winter cold into your house. The fewer studs in your walls, the more energy efficient your home will be, potentially reducing your energy costs by up to 5%.

A stud only costs between $5 to $7 each, but you’re also saving on the labor and other construction costs. Advances in framing won’t just save you on your remodel costs, it’ll save on wood waste, too, which helps the planet.

4. Install drop ceilings

Spend any time staring at office ceilings, and you’re probably automatically turned off at the idea of having anything even remotely similar in your home. But counting them out when you’re refinishing your basement is a mistake.

Drop ceilings are a great option because they give basement ceilings a finished look, but still allow access to plumbing and wiring — and that’s where your cost savings comes in.

Most homes with basements run plumbing and electrical systems under the floors, which is your basement’s ceiling. If you drywall over your floor joists to create your basement’s ceiling, you’ll need to cut into it every time you need access to those pipes and wires, unless you add access panels.

Overall, the installation costs for both are comparable. Installing drywall on the ceiling will run you between $2.25 to $3 per square foot and drop ceiling installation runs between $2 to $5 per square foot.

Material costs are where the real difference comes in. Drywall is relatively inexpensive at $326 to $526 total per every 200 square feet. Drop ceiling tiles and grid rails range anywhere from $1 to $23 per square foot — and you don’t want to completely cheap out.

“Spend a little bit of extra money for higher end drop ceiling tiles rather than the boring office space tiles. They have a more expensive look which can only increase your finished basement’s added value,” advises Marchesiello.

Designer look tiles don’t have to be expensive. While the speckled office tiles run as cheap as $.59 per square foot, you can get beveled panels for just $1.37 per square foot, or modern, textured tiles for $1.98 per square foot.

A person installing vinyl tile for a basement remodel.
Source: (Bidvine / Pexels)

5. Skip the carpet and install luxury vinyl tile instead

Carpet may be embraced on the floors of cozy above-ground bedrooms, but it isn’t a welcome sight on the floor of basement bedrooms. Since basements are known for their moisture issues, buyers see basement carpeting as a breeding ground for future problems.

“Definitely don’t carpet your finished basement. The best kind of flooring for basement by far is called luxury vinyl tile, which is a high quality vinyl plank,” advises Marchesiello.

Some people turn up their noses at the idea of vinyl flooring, but this isn’t your grandma’s busy brown vinyl sheet flooring. Luxury vinyl tile (LVT) is high end flooring designed to convincingly mimic the look of expensive hardwood, stone, or ceramic tiles, while maintaining the durability of vinyl all at a more affordable cost. You can get quality wood look LVT priced as low as $1.44 per square foot.

If you’d really rather have carpet, at least in the bedrooms, you’re not completely out of luck. You can install a moisture barrier padding underneath your carpet to keep it fresh and dry for around $1 a square foot.

6.  Add a bathroom (or at least a half bath) near existing plumbing

“Any time you add another bathroom, or even a half bath, you’re upping the value of the property significantly,” says Marchesiello.

If you’re building on a bathroom as an addition at above ground grade, it’s simply not a cost-effective project:

An infographic explaining how to add a bathroom to a basement.
Source: (Remodeling Impact Report)

However, installing a modest basement bathroom near existing plumbing is much more affordable. For a basic 30 to 50 square foot bathroom, expect to budget around $15,000 on average.

7. Remember to designate some storage space

Don’t get so carried away with your basement remodel project that you forget its primary purpose. Basements are the prime storage space in most homes for belongings that aren’t used everyday, like holiday décor, seasonal clothing, or outdoor furniture.

“A common mistake sellers make is that they gorgeously finish the entire basement without leaving storage space, which leads to many buyers walking away no matter how nice the basement looks. So, I tell my sellers to leave at least one third of the unfinished space for storage,” explains Marchesiello.

Carving out an area to leave unfinished for storage is a huge money saver because it reduces the square footage of your remodel. Instead of remodeling your whole 1,500 square foot basement, you can just build a wall to separate 500 square feet of unfinished basement for storage, and only pay to finish the remaining 1,000 square feet.

A person on a couch of a basement remodel.
Source: (Seth Hoffman / Unsplash)

Remodel for you, not just the added resale value

Before beginning a time and money-intensive basement remodel project, do the math to figure out if it’s affordable and profitable.

“Unless there’s a clearly defined plethora of comparables indicating that a house with a finished basement will sell for significantly [more] money in your area, then don’t spend money on finishing it just to sell it,” advises Marchesiello.

“But sometimes it’s not all about the resale value. If you really want a finished basement, make it part of your 2-5 year plan, so that you can enjoy it for several years before you sell.”

If you do decide that the average cost of a basement remodel is worth it for your home, have fun with it and create a basement space for the whole family to enjoy, like an in-home theatre, a wine cellar, or even a gym.

Header Image Source: (Artazum / Shutterstock)

To whittle down the average cost of a basement remodel leave some unfinished space for storage, use drop ceilings, and keep your flooring affordable.HomeLight Blog

Adding a Whole New Bathroom to Your House? Here’s What it’ll CostEmma DiehlHomeLight Blog

When you have a full house, getting uninterrupted access to the bathroom can feel like snagging dinner reservations to the most exclusive restaurant in town. On days when your one bathroom home just doesn’t cut it, many of us dream of the elusive bathroom addition with privacy for everyone.

The only challenge? Adding a new bathroom is pricey. But in the right home, the addition will not only improve your quality of life — it will also make the property appeal to a whole different pool of buyers when you eventually decide to sell it.

“If you only have one bath and you can add to make two, that’s a huge selling feature,” says Janet Anderson, one of Tracy, California’s top real estate agents.

To help you do the math, we’re breaking down the major costs and considerations associated with adding a new bathroom. This guide includes:

  • A comprehensive cost overview from expert sources across the web
  • Major cost influencers to consider
  • A cost breakdown by component
  • A real-life estimate from an expert contractor
  • The value of adding a full bathroom
  • Tips to save on your bathroom addition
A spreadsheet that lays out the cost to add a bathroom.
Source: (Rawpixel)

Bathroom addition cost overview

The cost of adding a bathroom to your home will vary based on your existing space, the location of the addition, the overall size of the room, and the quality of the features. Here’s how a few of the web’s most trafficked renovation sites price out the project:

Source: HomeGuide
Average bath in existing space cost: $2,500-$12,500
Average bathroom in a new addition cost: $18,00-$47,000
Low and high end bath addition range: $2,500-$25,000
Methodology: With its network of professionals from across the country, HomeGuide uses vetted estimates from over 500,000 pros to help price out common renovation projects.

Source: HomeAdvisor
Average bath in existing space cost: $5,000-$35,000
Average bathroom in a new addition cost: $20,000-$50,000
Low and high end bath addition range: $5,000-$90,000
Methodology: HomeAdvisor averages out the data from 195,583 bathroom addition projects submitted by professionals and members.

Source: Badeloft USA
Average bath in existing space cost: $3,000-$5,000
Average bathroom in a new addition cost: $25,000-$50,000
Low and high end bath addition range: $3,000-$75,000
Methodology: Founded in 2009, Badeloft has over a decade of experience selling bathroom fixtures online and has spent 7 consecutive years on Houzz’s best-of list.

Major cost influencers to consider

Now that you have an idea of the bathroom addition cost spectrum, here’s how specific features of your home can dramatically impact the pricing of your project:

Proximity to existing plumbing

If your new bathroom is close to existing plumbing, whether it’s from the kitchen, laundry room, or above or below an existing bathroom, it’ll cost less overall to run the vents, plumbing, and waste into the new bathroom.

On average, hiring a plumber costs between $85-$120 an hour. The cost of labor for plumbing alone with average priced fixtures (high-end varieties may cost more to install) will range between $610-$1,180.

“If you want to add a bathroom to the furthest corner of your house, then you can expect to spend 30% of your budget on plumbing and electrical alone,” says Andrew Holmes, VP of Construction at Blockhouse Residential, an award-winning construction firm in Pittsburgh.

Nearby crawlspace

If your new bathroom space has a crawl space beneath it, the cost of plumbing and electrical work will likely go down. Alternatively, if you’re adding the bathroom above a concrete slab, you’ll have to pay extra for the labor to cut through it to run water and sewer lines.

Your foundation type

If you’re putting a new bathroom in the addition, you’ll have to include a line item for installing the foundation. Installation for the foundation can run between $4-$7 per square foot.

Installing dormers

You might be building up to add a new bathroom instead of out. In that case, you’ll need to consider the cost of adding a dormer to your home, which costs on average $115 per square foot.

Cost breakdown by component

Water, electricity, and sewage: Bathrooms projects have a trifecta of components that come with their installation. Let’s breakdown each moving part of this process to understand how it all adds up:

  • Architect fees. If you plan to use an architect for your new bathroom, employing one can cost anywhere between $2,009 and $9,336. If you go at it on your own, you’ll need to apply for permits yourself, which cost between $200 and $500, depending on where you live.
  • Pipe installation. Before installing plumbing, you’ll need to run plumbing pipes (water and sewage) to the location of your new bathroom. Based on 3,673 user submitted cost profiles, Improvenet estimates that the median install costs $1,003.
  • Plumbing. HomeAdvisor estimates plumbing can cost anywhere between $1,000-$10,000, depending on the layout of the bathroom, and its distance from existing plumbing.  
  • Electrical. The average electrician charges between $85-$120 an hour, and you’ll need their services to install, outlets, lighting, and fans. Additionally, you’ll need to use GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) outlets at $40-$60 each because the electric is close to water. HomeGuide estimates electrical wiring to cost between $2 to $4 per square foot.
  • Drywall. According to HomeAdvisor, most homeowners pay $2 per square foot for drywall installation.
  • Flooring. Installing waterproof flooring costs $1,500-$4,500 and pricing can change significantly based on the quality of flooring you choose. HomeAdvisor recommends one of these waterproof and durable choices:
    • Linoleum: $3.50-$15 per square foot
    • Luxury vinyl plank: $2.50-$5 per square foot
    • Marble: $10-$20 per square foot
    • Ceramic or porcelain Tile: $5-$10 per square foot
  • Bathtub/Shower install. Purchasing and professionally installing a bathtub or shower will cost between $800-$2,900 on average, but the cost can increase based on the quality and size of the tub or shower.
  • Toilet install. A professional toilet installation will cost between $300-$500, and you can find a standard toilet between $100-$200.
  • Additional fixtures. Depending on your bathroom design, you might include a vanity ($500-$400 for purchase and install), cabinets ($400-$3,000 for purchase and install), and a towel rack ($30-$10).  
  • Lighting. The cost to install lighting is included in electrical costs, but multi-light fixtures made for bathrooms could cost upwards of $400 to $500.
  • Add-ons. Any specialty add-ons mean an additional line item in price. That includes:
    • Heated bathroom floors: $475-$1,500
    • Specialty tub or jacuzzi: $1,600-$13,000
    • Smartroom automation (automated lights, water-saving shower, smart toilet, high-capacity water heater): $472-$2,020
Subway tiles that are being installed in a bathroom.
Source: (LaineN / Shutterstock)

Bathroom addition: A real-life example

We reached out to Holmes to get the scoop on a recent real-life bathroom addition. Holmes specializes in ground-up new construction and rehauling existing construction. He kindly provided an example quote for a recent bathroom addition under an existing room. Here’s a breakdown of the major costs and labor, including time and materials:

Bathroom Addition Under Existing Roof Labor Materials (Estimate) Cost
Design & Permits
(this included all permitting for the project, as well as architectural designs)
$2,700 $2,700
Site Prep $600 $600
Demolition & Temporary Support $1,230 $1,230
(to prep the area for running the plumbing, electric, & HVAC lines)
$1,800 $1,800
Foundation $2,200 $2,200
Framing $3,200 $3,200
Windows & Doors $644 Door: $60

Two Windows: $296

Siding $1,320 $6 per square foot (labor & materials)

220 sq. ft.

Drywall & Paint $1,520 $4 per square foot (labor & materials)

380 sq. ft.

Tile $900 $15 per square foot (labor & materials)

60 sq. ft.

Trim $600 Included with labor $600
Bath Finishes $890 Toilet: $200

Vanity: $500

Sink: $160

Plumbing $3,400 Included materials, plumbing to client purchased bathtub $3,400
Electric $1,300 $1,300
HVAC $2,600 $2,600
TOTAL $26,120

In this project, and in Holmes’ experience working with clients adding bathrooms, many of them aren’t aware how much installing plumbing, electric, and HVAC will drive up their budget.

The value of adding a full bathroom

How much value an additional full bathroom will add to your home at resale depends on how many bathrooms you had to start with.

“If you’re talking about a one, one and half going to a two bath, there’s going to be huge value in that. But, if you’re going from a two bed, two bathroom, to a three bathroom, there’s going to be less value,” says Stephen Mueller, a top Charlotte, North Carolina real estate agent who’s currently adding a bathroom addition to his own home.

In Mueller’s opinion, adding an additional full bathroom to a one bathroom home can add between $20,000 to $25,000 in value. That’s partly because a home with two full bathrooms enters a new pool of buyers. He explains it like so: “I know the same people that will buy a one-bath home will buy a one-and-a-half bath, but buyers who want a two bath, they won’t look at a one-and-a-half bath.”

As for adding an additional full bath to homes that have two or more baths? “It depends on the quality,” Mueller says, “but the appraisal adjustment is between $7,500 to $10,000.”

In terms of ROI, adding an upscale bathroom renovation (costing upwards of $90,000) can net sellers a 54.7% return on their investment, according to Remodeling Magazine, which has been tracking remodeling projects nationally for nearly two decades. A mid-range bathroom addition (with a $49,598 budget on average) recoups 54%.

A shower in a bathroom addition.
Source: (Andrea Davis / Unsplash)

Tips to save on your bathroom addition

Now that we have a complete break down of dollars and cents, let’s review ways you can save on a bathroom addition and appeal to buyers with your selections in order to maximize your investment:

  • Place the bathroom strategically. As previously mentioned, the closer a new bathroom is to existing plumbing, the less you’ll have to pay to extend water, sewage, and electrical lines. Building a new bathroom a floor above an existing one or close to the kitchen can reduce costs.
  • Buy a “used” tub and other secondhand fixtures. You might not be able to save on electrical or plumbing labor. However, you can purchase used and fixtures and refurbish them to reduce costs. If you have the time to spare and don’t mind browsing a little for a gem, you can end up with some great deals. The Habitat for Humanity ReStore, Craigslist, and local surplus construction warehouses often have new (or like new) fixtures including tubs, sinks and lighting.

    This new-with-tags Kohler tub was listed outside Seattle for just $250, while comparable models retail for close to $800. Even buying an older, on-trend cast iron tub for a few hundred dollars and paying the average $460 to refinish it could lead to savings.

A bathtub that will be installed in a bathroom addition.
(Source: Craigslist)
  • Opt for luxury wood vinyl. Moisture-friendly luxury vinyl plank can be more affordable than other flooring alternatives, and its popularity is on the rise. According to Remodeling Magazine, the demand for luxury vinyl tile has quadrupled in the past five years, and the interest in vinyl flooring has doubled. These flooring options come in a variety of colors and finishes to cater to any bathroom, and buyers are responding to them with more interest than ever.
  • Go for a tile shower over a bathtub. If you’re torn between a tiled, open shower or a bathtub — go for the shower, advises Anderson. “Bathtubs are not trending right now. Buyers like open little walk-in showers without doors,” she shares.

Is it worth it to add a bathroom?

Adding a new bathroom won’t come cheap, but is the value added at resale enough to make the project worth it?

“I always ask my clients, if you’re going to do an improvement like that, how long are you going to stay in the property?” says Anderson. “If it’s five years or more, it could be worth the investment. But, if you don’t think you’re going to stay in the property one or two years, then really reconsider. You’re not going to receive that return back.”

Header Image (Source: (Christian Mackie / Unsplash)

The cost to add bathroom to your home will vary based on your existing space, the location of the addition, and the quality of the features.HomeLight Blog

Four Expert Views on the 2021 Housing MarketKCM CrewKeeping Current Matters

Four Expert Views on the 2021 Housing Market | Keeping Current Matters

The housing market was a shining star in 2020, fueling the economic turnaround throughout the country. As we look forward to 2021, can we expect real estate to continue showing such promise? Here’s what four experts have to say about the year ahead.

Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist, National Association of Realtors (NAR)

“In 2021, I think rates will be similar or modestly higher, maybe 3%…So, mortgage rates will continue to be historically favorable.”

Danielle Hale, Chief Economist,

“We expect sales to grow 7 percent and prices to rise another 5.7 percent on top of 2020’s already high levels.”

Robert Dietz, Senior Vice President and Chief Economist, National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)

“With home builder confidence near record highs, we expect continued gains for single-family construction, albeit at a lower growth rate than in 2019. Some slowing of new home sales growth will occur due to the fact that a growing share of sales has come from homes that have not started construction. Nonetheless, buyer traffic will remain strong given favorable demographics, a shifting geography of housing demand to lower-density markets and historically low interest rates.”

Mark Fleming, Chief Economist, First American

“Mortgage rates are expected to remain low for the foreseeable future and millennials will continue forming households, keeping demand robust, even if income growth moderates. Despite the best intentions of home builders to provide more housing supply, the big short in housing supply will continue into 2021 and likely keep house price appreciation flying high.”


Bottom Line

Whether you’re ready to buy or sell a home in 2021, if you’re planning to take advantage of the market this winter, contact a trusted real estate professional to learn about the opportunities available in your local market.

The post Four Expert Views on the 2021 Housing Market appeared first on Keeping Current Matters.

The housing market was a shining star in 2020, fueling the economic turnaround throughout the country.
The post Four Expert Views on the 2021 Housing Market appeared first on Keeping Current Matters.Keeping Current Matters

How to Determine the Value of Your Home in 8 Easy StepsJody EllisHomeLight Blog

You’ve owned your home for several years, made some upgrades, and now you’re starting to think about what your home might be valued at today. Or maybe you purchased your home more recently, but you want to do improvements in the hopes of increasing its value for a sale somewhere down the road. Whatever the reason, you want to know how to determine the value of your home.

Whether you’re a new homebuyer or a long-time owner, understanding how a home’s valuation is determined and having an idea of your own home’s worth is a smart move financially. After all, your home is one of your biggest investments, so keeping track of its value just makes sense.

While it’s always recommended to seek the help of qualified real estate professionals when it comes to assessing your home’s value, there are some ways to get a ballpark estimate yourself. Between online valuation tools, looking at recent home sales in your area, or calculating how much your home has potentially appreciated since you bought it, it’s possible to get at least an approximate assessment of what your home is worth.

HomeLight investigated some of the best ways to determine the value of your home, breaking it down into eight easy steps. We researched home valuation strategies on our own, then checked in with real estate agents to get the most accurate information on how to determine the value of your home.

Know the factors when figuring out how to determine value of home
Source: (Mike Lutke / Unsplash)

Step 1: What adds value to a home?

The first thing to consider when determining your homes’ value is to consider what adds value to a home in general.

As we know, not all homes are created equal, and even within your own neighborhood, some homes might be worth more than others. There are also going to be certain features that are unique to your home that might make it more or less valuable than similar homes.

Real estate agent Hans Wydler, who is based out of Washington, D.C., and has more than 18 years of experience in the industry, says that there are several factors that go into assessing a home’s worth.

“House size, neighborhood, home condition, how long you’ve owned the house — these are all things that affect a home’s value,” he says. Wydler says if you’re trying to determine the value of your home, you’ll want to consider all of these things, plus a few more.

Market rate appreciation

Simply put, this is how much your home increases in value over time.

If you bought your home back in the 1970s for what was the fair-market value back then, it stands to reason that your home is going to be worth significantly more today. Conversely, if you just bought your house a year ago and paid top dollar, chances are your home hasn’t appreciated much in value, if at all.

Financial advisors typically recommend that homeowners live in their homes for at least two years prior to selling, which not only protects you from having to pay capital gains tax, but also gives the house time to appreciate in value.


According to Wydler, the location of your home is going to have a big impact on value.

“It’s the one thing about a house you cannot change,” he says.

“Things like proximity to retail shops, how busy of a street you live on, and whether or not the house has southern or northern exposure can all affect what a house is worth.”

When determining the value of your home, take a look at what’s around you.

Are you close to parks or schools? Can you walk to your neighborhood coffee shop? What about public transportation? These are all questions you’ll want to ask yourself, and they all are part of the equation.

House size and curb appeal

Square footage, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and lot size all come into play when determining a home’s value.

Does your home have any unique or special features that make it stand out? Is your yard fully landscaped, and how does your home’s outside space stack up against other homes in your neighborhood? Are there trees on your lot, a fence, or a storage shed?

Age is also an issue, as an older home is generally going to have a lower value than a brand-new house of the same size. This is where maintenance becomes important.

“Deferred maintenance does affect the value of a house, so taking care of things like a cracked window, cleaning air ducts, or other repairs is important,” says Wydler.

Current mortgage interest rates

Mortgage interest rates aren’t something you can control, but you should still keep them in mind when it comes to determining the value of your home. Higher interest rates mean a larger mortgage payment, something that can often lower the number of qualified homebuyers. Lower interest rates, such as those seen in 2020, make buying a home much more appealing.

Because low rates might mean more qualified buyers, they can also result in a shortage of homes for sale if a lot of people are trying to buy, as well as processing slowdowns if mortgage lenders are bombarded with loan applications (including refinance applications from homeowners with higher rates).

Some improvements can help when determining how to determine value of home
Source: (Natasha Reddy / Unsplash)

Step 2: What kind of improvements have you made since you bought the house?

Making improvements to a home can potentially increase its value, but not as much as you might think.

Expensive add-ons such as swimming pools, or major renovations such as a complete kitchen remodel, definitely add to the overall appeal, but don’t expect that $40,000 swimming pool to add exactly $40,000 in value to your home.

“If you own a home and know you’re eventually going to sell it, I wouldn’t recommend expensive improvements,” says Wydler.

“We tend to focus on cosmetics, such as painting, which is one of the best investments you can make, or updating flooring and carpets.”

Wydler says one exception would be if you add a bedroom or bathroom to a house. “Four bedrooms is going to be better than three,” he says, “and if you have an older home that only has one bathroom, most families want at least two, so adding another bath can add to your home’s value.”

Step 3: Review the FHFA’s HPI calculator

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) offers a House Price Index (HPI) calculator that projects what a house purchased at a certain point in time would be worth today.

While this doesn’t account for things like home condition, improvements made, or the local real estate market, it can be a good way to evaluate how much your home has potentially appreciated in value over time. The calculator asks for your state, the year you purchased your house, the current year, and the original purchase price of your home, which results in a graph that indicates the percentage your house has appreciated and an estimated value.

Be aware — this is only an estimate, and it does not project the actual worth of your home.

Use online valuation calculators when figuring out how to determine value of home
Source: (Atstock Productions / ShutterStock)

Step 4: Take a look at online valuation tools

You can find plenty of online home valuation calculators just by Googling, and these are also helpful when trying to determine the value of your home.

Sites such as, which uses data from recent home sales, or, which also shows recent sales of comparable homes in your region, can give you a basic idea of your home’s value.

Step 5: Look at some comps from your neighborhood

If you know of some homes in your neighborhood that recently sold, you can see what the asking price was, and once the house sale has closed, you’ll be able to look online at the sales price.

Home values can be different from neighborhood to neighborhood, or even from block to block, so reviewing recent sales of comparable homes (known as “comps” in the real estate industry) in your area can help you assess your own home’s value.

Finding and analyzing comps on your own isn’t going to give you a fully accurate picture, nor will it provide information on current housing market trends, but it can be a good tool for determining a home’s value.

meet with a real estate agent when figuring out how to determine value of home
Source: (hedgehog94 / ShutterStock)

Step 6: Talk to a real estate agent

Once you’ve done your own research and estimations on what your house might be worth, it’s time to sit down with an experienced real estate professional and get their take.

A real estate agent will also look at your home and suggest ways you can improve the curb appeal and potentially increase the value of your home, as well as providing some of the most accurate information on what your home is worth.

Your real estate agent will know things like what the housing market is doing in general, what pools of buyers they might be able to tap into, how mortgage interest rates have been shifting, and whether or not any improvements you’ve done have actually added to your home’s value.

“You can do the online valuations and use computer pricing algorithms, but those calculators don’t know the current market conditions or what’s inside your house,” says Wydler.

“If you bought your home 15 years ago and have made renovations or improvements since then, those algorithms aren’t necessarily going to be accurate.”

Step 7: Get a comparative market analysis (CMA)

A professional real estate agent will also do what is called a comparative market analysis, or CMA. Real estate agents use CMAs to look at recent sales of properties in your area in order to determine the value of your home and what kind of price to set when the time comes to sell, or to assess whether a price seems fair for a buyer.

When you retain an agent, a CMA is usually one of the first things they do in order to provide the best composite of your home’s value.

“We look at dollar value per square foot, house size, and location,” says Wydler. He adds that a CMA goes beyond a spreadsheet, taking into consideration the subtleties of your home, such as whether the street you live on is a little nicer than the next block over, or what the general presentation of your home looks like.

It’s also important to note that a CMA looks at what other homes actually sold for, not simply the asking price.

Get an appraisal when figuring out how to determine value of home
Source: (Andrey_Popov / ShutterStock)

Step 8: Get an appraisal

While it seems like getting an appraisal should be the first thing on this list instead of the last, most of the time an agent isn’t going to recommend spending the money on one unless you have a house under contract.

That being said, if you really want to get your home appraised, there’s no reason you can’t do so. There can be certain benefits to getting an appraisal for valuation purposes, especially if there aren’t many comps for a CMA in your area, or if the real estate market seems to be shifting.

Wydler, however, says there usually isn’t a compelling reason to pay for an appraisal before you sell your house.

“Short of an estate trying to take care of state requirements for a property sale, I see no use in getting an appraisal ahead of time,” he says.

“Sometimes you can get a home appraised during a certain time, and then if you need to get it appraised again for a sale, the value is different. And both sellers and buyers should keep in mind that at the end of the day, a home is only worth what a buyer is willing to pay.”

Header Image Source: (Watchara Ritjan / ShutterStock)

We investigated some of the best ways to determine the value of your home, breaking it down into eight easy steps that can help you find a ballpark value.HomeLight Blog

Counting down our 5 most popular mortgage blog posts of 2020Mitch MitchellMovement Mortgage Blog

Counting down our 5 most popular mortgage blog posts of 2020

We’ve had over 100 new blog posts this year, and in those, we covered a lot. 2020 was a big deal with pandemic-related changes to the homebuying process, unheard of low mortgage interest rates, increased buying and selling activity as renters left big cities and settled elsewhere, and, of course, a political environment that kept everyone glued to the news. The list could literally go on and on.

As we approach 2021, with the hopes that it’ll be less chaotic than its predecessor, We thought it was a good time to look back at 5 of our top blogs of 2020, which – interestingly – are still as relevant as they were when first published.

Continue reading Counting down our 5 most popular mortgage blog posts of 2020 at Movement Mortgage Blog.

We’ve had over 100 new blog posts this year, and in those, we covered a lot. 2020 was a big deal with pandemic-related changes to the homebuying process, unheard of low mortgage interest rates, increased buying and selling activity as renters left big cities and settled elsewhere, and, of course, a political environment that kept everyone glued to the news. The list could literally go on and on.
As we approach 2021, with the hopes that it’ll be less chaotic than its predecessor, We thought it was a good time to look back at 5 of our top blogs of 2020, which – interestingly – are still as relevant as they were when first published.
Continue reading Counting down our 5 most popular mortgage blog posts of 2020 at Movement Mortgage Blog.Movement Mortgage Blog

I Bought a House in Dallas (And Netted An Extra $35K in Equity)Chelsea LevinsonHomeLight Blog

When Lauren and her husband found their unicorn dream home in Dallas, Texas, they knew they needed to act fast.

Dallas — also known affectionately as Big D — is a hot real estate market that’s only getting hotter.

According to the latest real estate data, current active listings are down 29.6% in the city, while home sales are up 20% from November 2019 to November 2020.

With more homes being sold and fewer on the market, a strong seller’s market is emerging. Today, Dallas buyers are faced with rising home prices (up 13.6% just in the last year!), low inventory, and strong competition.

“We’re dealing with record low levels of inventory,” says top Dallas real estate agent Troy Olson, who works with 76% more single-family homes than the average area agent.

According to Olson, even before the coronavirus hit, the conditions of a seller’s market were already in motion in the major metropolitan area.

“Things were humming,” he shares. “We had launched a really good January and February, and then the brakes got put on it.”

But before the coronavirus came and changed everything, back in a more innocent time (ahem, 2019), Olson helped Lauren’s family bag their dream home, and get quite a deal doing it. Here’s their story.

I bought a house in dallas offers a unique property
Source: (Nate Hovee / ShutterStock)

The unicorn property that started it all

Lauren and her husband weren’t planning to buy a new house — that is, until their dream home popped up on listing sites in the summer of 2019.

“Our situation is a little atypical in that we weren’t necessarily looking to move,” Lauren admits. “I was just playing around online, and I found mine and my husband’s dream home. And it’s kind of a unicorn property, just very unique.”

The Dallas, Texas, home was conveniently located in the city — within an attractive homeowners association (HOA) community — yet it sat on a beautiful five-acre parcel at the end of a cul-de-sac, backing up to a creek.

With four bedrooms, three-and-a-half baths, 4,000 square feet of living space, a four-car garage, and light pouring in from massive windows, the home was a perfect compromise between the couples’ individual needs.

The property offered the community and amenities of city life that Lauren was craving, and it gave her husband the privacy and outdoor space he was looking for.

“I always thought to get the acreage my husband wanted, I’d be out in the boonies, and this is definitely not that,” Lauren laughs. “I didn’t have to give up anything in terms of neighborhood or having neighbors or that kind of a lifestyle where it’s more communal.”

The two knew that with the competitive market in Dallas, they’d need to jump on the home quickly, so they called in Olson, who they’d worked with on their previous purchase.

Timing was of the essence

The thing about unicorn properties is they don’t show up often, and they don’t stick around long.

“I’m in the real estate industry, but we’re in the business of communication,” Olsen explains.

“Everybody wants everything right now. Whoever gets there first, gets it.”

He booked a showing for the couple immediately so they didn’t lose out on the opportunity.

A year prior, they’d gone under contract on a similar property, only to find out during the inspection that it needed a lot more work than they were up for. This time, though, the couple’s luck changed.

“The seller had just had another contract fall out, so our timing was nice in terms of, there wasn’t actually a bidding war on it,” Lauren says. “I also think based on the uniqueness of the property, it attracted a very specific kind of clientele, because not everybody wants that much land to maintain.”

In this way, the property’s uniqueness actually helped the couple win their dream home. The biggest challenge would be figuring out an offer strategy.

It was hard to find comparables when I bought a house in dallas

… And finding comparables was a challenge

“To be on five acres in the city is unheard of — it just doesn’t exist,” Olson reveals. “But they’ve got dogs and wanted to raise a family, and didn’t want to be boxed in on a normal subdivision where you’re on a quarter acre and you’ve got three houses surrounding you.”

Still, there’s one nice thing about buying a run-of-the-mill subdivision home: As a buyer, it’s relatively easy to figure out its market value through comparable sales, and then base your offer around your findings.

But because this property was so unique and so outside the norm in terms of acreage, it was a challenge to find comparable homes and determine an appropriate offer amount.

That’s where the couple really leaned on Olson’s expertise. The veteran real estate agent did a lot of market research and helped them come up with a winning offer strategy.

“We had to go outside of that normal one-mile subdivision formula to try to find other things, and then make adjustments on the value,” Olson recalls.

Landing the offer and gaining some equity

In the end, their diligence — and Olson’s market expertise — paid off.

“After negotiations and counter-offers, we ended up coming in under their asking price by $10,000,” Lauren shares proudly.

Not only that, but their appraisal came in $25,000 over the sales price, immediately netting them more equity in the home.

“We feel like we got a great deal, because we got everything we wanted for less than it was listed for, and we ended up closing with extra equity that we didn’t pay for,” she adds.

Lauren credits Olson with helping the couple focus on the most important things in the negotiations, especially after the inspection.

“He helped us walk through, what are the big-ticket items that will be costly for us to maintain on our own once we take ownership of the house,” she explains. “And how do we focus on just those items for negotiations, to be more strategic.”

There was a 30-day closing when i bought a house in dallas
Source: (Leon Seibert / Unsplash)

A 30-day closing

The couple’s closing went off without a hitch, and they were able to close in an impressive 30 days. Considering they were buying and selling simultaneously, the feat was especially monumental.

But, Olson cautions, you can’t expect turnaround times like that anymore when buying a home in Dallas. That’s because the coronavirus pandemic and rock-bottom mortgage rates have created a massive surge in home lending.

“There’s so many people refinancing, there’s a shortage of appraisers,” Olson says. “And underwriters are backed up to the moon.”

If you’re planning to buy a home in Dallas anytime soon, he adds: “Give lenders an extra week right now to operate.”

The best of all worlds

Lauren and her husband are thrilled with their new home. It’s the perfect spot for their family to grow into, and they feel even better that Olson helped them get such a great deal.

“Any buyer goes into a home, and you start thinking with your heart,” Lauren shares.

“You try to picture your family meals together, and raising your kids, and your dogs playing in the backyard and all the little things.”

But real estate is an investment, and it’s part of an agent’s job to remind you to think with your head, too. Olson helped the couple think about the property as a long-term investment, not just a home.

Lauren feels she and her family made a sound move for both their heads and their hearts.

“The right property, the right timing. Everything came together,” she gushes.

Header Image Source: (Tavarius / ShutterStock)

When Lauren and her husband found their unicorn dream home in Dallas, Texas, they knew they needed to act fast. Here’s how they got the deal of a lifetime.HomeLight Blog

Ready to Sell? Here Are 8 Things You Should Do Before Contacting a Real Estate AgentMatthew StalcupHomeLight Blog

Maybe you’ve just landed the job of your dreams 1,000 miles away from your home. Or perhaps you’re ready to downsize, so the nest feels a little less empty. No matter the reason, your desire to sell your home is about to boil over: You’re ready to reach out to a real estate agent.

But don’t hit call yet — there are a few things to do before contacting a real estate agent. You’ll want to kick-start pre-listing tasks notorious for taking months to complete. Not to mention invest time in researching real estate agents to ensure you find the best agent for the job.

We asked a top-selling real estate agent what they wish every seller would do (and wouldn’t do) before contacting an agent. Complete these eight tasks before you hire an agent to start your home sale journey off right.

A calculator used to check equity before hiring a real estate agent.
Source: (Vishwarajsinh Rana / Unsplash)

1. Check your equity to evaluate if you’re ready to sell

Before you contact a real estate agent, check your equity to know where you stand with your mortgage. At a minimum, you want to have enough equity in your home to cover the cost of selling your home (e.g., closing costs and agent commission). Otherwise, you’ll need to find another way to finance these costs. If your mortgage is underwater, you’ll need to pay the difference between the sale price and what’s owed on your mortgage, as well.

Use this basic formula to estimate your home’s equity:

Current market value of home ($500,000)

Outstanding mortgage balance ($300,000)
Home equity ($200,000)

To estimate your home’s current market value, plug your home details into HomeLight’s Home Value Estimator.

2. Determine your selling goals

Do you need to sell your house as fast as possible, or would you rather hold out for the best price? Determine your primary selling objectives before you contact a real estate agent, so they can tailor your listing strategy accordingly.

Shannon Laudet, a top real estate agent in Bremerton, WA, who’s sold 78% more single-family homes than average, also advises homeowners to consider what offer range they’re willing to accept for their home.

“Having a price range in mind is always helpful because it helps us understand where you’re at,” she comments, adding that your agent will let you know if this range is realistic or not for your local market conditions.

If you’re not sure what price to aim for, don’t stress. Your agent will help pinpoint your home’s fair market value and share what homes like yours are currently selling for.

3. Research the best time of year to sell in your market

If you plan your home sale timeline wisely, you can sell your house faster and for more money. Nationwide housing market trends prove that homes sold at peak times during the year sell for 3.82% more on average. In contrast, homes sold during inopportune times sold for 7.2% below the annual average.

Discover the best time to sell in your area with HomeLight’s Best Time to Sell Calculator. Our tool crunches housing transaction data to show you when homes in your market sell the fastest and for the most money. Once you determine the best month to sell, contact a real estate agent three to six months before the recommended sell date. This way, you have enough lead time to complete pre-listing home upgrades and accounts for the average time it takes to sell a home once it’s live on the market.

A man using the internet to hire a real estate agent.
Source: (Avi Richards / Unsplash)

4. Find top real estate agents selling near you

There are around 2 million real estate agents with active licenses in the United States, but not all agents are equal. Our data shows that the top 5% of real estate agents sell homes for as much as 10% more than the average agent.

To find the best agent for your home sale, reach out to your network for referrals, and match with top agents using HomeLight’s Agent Finder. We’ll match you with the three top agents for your home sale based on their average list to sale price, days on market, and client reviews.

Once you narrow down your candidates, interview at least three agents before finalizing your decision. Prepare a list of questions to help you evaluate each agent by the following criteria:

  • Expertise: You want an agent with local expertise who knows what sells homes in your market. Ask your candidates questions about the local market, like how fast homes are selling in your area and what design trends resonate most with your local buyer pool.
  • Experience: The best agent for your needs will have proven experience selling homes like yours. You should also find out what the agents’ strengths are to ensure their experience matches your selling goals. For instance, if you need to sell your home ASAP, you’ll want to ask the agents about their average days on market time.
  • Personality match: While interviewing agents, ask yourself whether or not you get along well enough to work on a project together for several months. Discuss your preferred communication methods and ensure the agent you choose is happy to accommodate.

5. Gather details on your home’s recent repairs and renovations

With automated valuation models (AVMs) and other digital tools, your agent has access to your basic property information, including the square footage, number of bedrooms, and location, before they even walk in the door. However, you’ll need to supply them with details on your recent home repairs and renovations before they can advise on a listing price.

Gather information on these home features and upgrades, noting the materials, finishes, project costs, and date completed:

  • Roof repairs or replacement
  • Insulation features
  • Electrical or plumbing systems
  • Heating and air-conditioning system
  • Energy-efficient appliances and technology
  • Flooring upgrades
  • Recent cosmetic improvements

“Having a list like that ready for a Realtor® is huge because it’s all about us being able to enhance the buyer’s perception of value,” Laudet comments.

A father cleaning a house with his son before hiring a real estate agent.
Source: (Gustavo / Pexels)

6. Deep clean and declutter your home

Before you contact a real estate agent, jump start deep cleaning and decluttering. These pre-listing tasks can take weeks to months to complete yet are essential for securing the best sale possible. According to our Top Agent Insights Report, on average deep cleaning adds $1,728 in value while decluttering adds $2,584. A study by Consumer Reports echoes this finding, suggesting that decluttering increases your home’s value by 5%.

For added objectivity, Laudet advises sellers to take pictures of their home and review the photos from a buyer’s perspective. “What do you see in that photo? Comparing photos of your home to Pinterest or HGTV can give you a good idea of where you need to go when decluttering,” she comments.

Remove excess decor and personal items like family photos so buyers can better envision living in your home. Pack up items you plan to keep into moving boxes and store them in the garage or attic until moving day. Donate or sell any unwanted items using services like OfferUp, Craigslist, and Facebook Marketplace.

7. Take care of necessary repairs

The National Association of Realtors’ 2020 Confidence index reports that 16% of closing delays are due to home inspection issues. Home repairs take time to book and complete, often creating a bottleneck that holds up the entire selling process.

Take a proactive approach and create a repair checklist before contacting a real estate agent. Start scheduling the largest jobs like roof repairs and major plumbing work first, so you have plenty of lead time to complete the repairs before your home goes on the market.

Towels cleaned before hiring a real estate agent.
Source: (Gustavo Fring / Pexels)

8. Refresh your home’s interior with new linens and curtains

In our Top Agent Insights Report, 67% of top agents agree that staging helps a seller fetch more money for their house at resale. Your real estate agent will help with strategic staging, but there’s no harm in buying some new home goods if you’re eager to get started. Replace worn out and dated curtains, bedding, and towels to refresh your home’s interior. Stick to light, neutral colors like grays and beiges to ensure your home appeals to the most buyers possible.

Here’s what you shouldn’t do before contacting a real estate agent

However excited you are to kick-off your home sale, there are a few pre-listing tasks that you should hold off on until you have professional guidance from a real estate agent, including:

  • Major remodeling projects
  • Painting walls
  • Advertising your home
  • Changing the interior design
  • Updating fixtures
  • Upgrading your backyard

A top agent can advise you which home upgrades will increase your home’s value, so you recoup project costs at resale. They’ll also help you choose the best colors, finishes, and interior design style to boost your home’s marketability and draw in buyers.

“Realtor® have been through hundreds of homes and have listened to hundreds of buyers’ comments about what they like and don’t like,” shares Laudet.

Furthermore, real estate agents have a network of vetted contractors, landscapers, and stagers who can help you take your home to the next level.

Header Image Source: (Ketut Subiyanto / Pexels)

If you’re chomping at the bit to sell your home, there are a handful of things you can do before you even reach out to a real estate agent. We’ll walk you through what to do and what not to do before you hire an agent.HomeLight Blog

From Sunbelt Cities to Small Suburban Towns: 9 Real Estate Markets Worth Watching in 2021Gina RodriguesHomeLight Blog

Despite the roller coaster ride that was 2020, the housing market refuses to relent. Record-low interest rates and shrinking inventory continue to push home prices higher. Meanwhile, homebuyers — now untethered from the physical office — are migrating from metropolitan areas to more affordable markets. This culmination of variables is a gamechanger for many housing markets, with those absorbing urban exodus primed for growth in the new year.

We dug into market reports to pinpoint nine U.S. real estate markets set to thrive in 2021. These are the factors we considered:

  • Trends impacting home-buying decisions in the upcoming year: We studied Emerging Trends in Real Estate 2021, an annual report released by the PwC and Urban Land Institute, for data-backed projections about housing markets around the country. We also looked at market research published by the National Association of Realtors and real estate reports from major news outlets such as U.S. News.
  • Sale price and days on market: Markets performing well in uncertain times are likely to continue growing in the new year. We scraped HomeLight’s database and market reports from local Realtor® associations for rising median home prices and declining days on the market.
  • Signs of continual job growth: Pandemic-related shutdowns wreaked havoc on employment this year, so we examined the last five years of overall employment in each market. We calculated job growth percentages using employment figures from the annual American Community Survey (ACS), published by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS). We also searched news reports for new employers moving into an area.
  • Population growth: The greater the population, the greater the need is for housing. We list population growth rates for each market over the past ten years, as reported by the U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Home affordability: We calculated an area’s home affordability ratio by dividing the market’s median real estate price by the median household income. A low number suggests that homes in the area are affordable in relation to income.
  • Top agent insight: Finally, we interviewed four top real estate agents for on the ground insight into why home prices are spiking in their markets. When asked about their predictions for the new year, these agents answered similarly: Low-interest rates, remote work flexibility, and low inventory will continue to push up home values in 2021.
An aerial view of a real estate market to watch in 2021.
Source: (Sarah Brown / Unsplash)

Up-and-coming suburbs absorbing pandemic-spurred urban flight

According to Emerging Trends, the trending migration from cities to suburban neighborhoods isn’t a surprise. Before the pandemic, experts forecasted that changing age demographics would lead to movement away from metropolitan areas — the pandemic simply sped up the process.

Our research indicates that Essex County, NJ, Riverside County, CA, and Sugar Land, TX will stand out as landing zones for city slickers seeking larger, more affordable homes and space to roam in 2021.

1. Essex County, New Jersey

While the cost of living and median home value are higher in Essex County than other markets on our list, they’re downright economical compared to New York City. And buyers are showing up in droves, snatching up homes from Newark to Montclair to Millburn. Essex County’s proximity to Manhattan attracts homebuyers commuting to New York and those working from home who want to hold onto the city’s nightlife.

Essex County’s median single-family home sales price jumped 36.6% year-over-year, while the median days on market until sale dropped by almost 35%. According to the New Jersey Realtors Association, the number of houses sold increased by 48.2% year-over-year.

PWC Emerging Trends estimates total employment in Northern New Jersey will grow 2.7% annually over the next five years, higher than the U.S. projection of 2.2% annual growth over the same time period.

Essex County, NJ market stats:
Median single-family home price: $549,250
Year-over-year median price change: +36.6%
Change in days to close: -34.5%
Home affordability ratio: 8.9

Essex County, NJ economic stats:
Population growth rate: 1.9%
Job growth rate (03/2015 – 03/2020): 3.4%
Median household income: $61,510

Interesting fact: A train links Essex County directly to Manhattan for suburban dwellers who want to partake in city life without the higher price tag. And speaking of New Jersey train lines, abandoned tracks could get a new lease on life with plans for a greenway (think The High Line in NYC) that would beautify the community, connect multiple towns, and add recreational space.

2. Riverside County, California

News outlets can’t stop talking about Californians migrating to more affordable states like Arizona and Texas, but many are opting to relocate to a more affordable region within the Golden State: Riverside County. Located just east of Los Angeles, Riverside County includes notable cities Palm Springs, Coachella, and Temecula.

Riverside County is known for its logistics facilities, which handle the warehousing, fulfillment, and distribution of goods. Nationwide, the logistics industry has benefitted from consumers’ increased dependency on online shopping, particularly during government-mandated pandemic restrictions such as stay-at-home orders. The increased demand for online goods has bolstered the local area’s employment outlook. In addition to logistics, Riverside County maintains stable employment rates from its strong education and health services sectors.

Population wise, Riverside county’s growth rate of 12.8% since 2010 is double that of the average U.S. growth rate of 6.5%. From an affordability standpoint, while Riverside’s cost of living may be 7% higher than the national average, it’s still a bargain compared to Los Angeles (41.1% higher than the national average).

Riverside County, CA market stats:
Median single-family home price: $490,000
Year-over-year median price change: 15.3%
Change in days on the market: -66.7%
Home affordability ratio: 7.3

Riverside County, CA economic stats:
Population growth rate: 12.8%
Job growth rate (03/2015 – 03/2020): 8.4%
Median household income: $67,005

Interesting fact: Time Magazine reported Riverside as the #1 suburban area where millennials moved, with a millennial growth rate of 16.2% between 2010 and 2015.

3. Sugar Land, Texas

Sugar Land’s housing market is as sweet as the city’s name suggests. “It’s been crazy,” says Mary Stewart, a Sugar Land agent with more than 37 years of real estate experience. “I’ve never seen a market like this.” She predicts that low-interest rates will continue to drive the market into the new year.

Sugar Land’s biggest draw? Affordability. With a median household income nearly twice the national average, Sugar Land has one of the lowest home affordability ratios on our list. The city’s cost of living is 8.3% lower than the national average, a sizable difference compared to trendy Austin (+2.3%) and Sugar Land’s metropolitan counterpart Houston (-8.0%).

Sugar Land, TX market stats:
Median home price: $362,900
Year-over-year median price change: 12.3%
Change in days to close: -21.5%
Home affordability ratio: 3.0

Sugar Land, TX economic stats:
Population growth rate: 9.9%
Job growth rate (03/2015 – 03/2020): 33.4%
Median household income: $121,274

Interesting fact: The “Sweetest City in Texas,” Sugar Land is no stranger to top rankings. The Houston suburb was recently ranked the #5 top small city for a pandemic move by SFGate, #1 safest suburb in the Houston area by Niche, and the #5 best small city in the U.S by Wallethub.

Small cities and towns seeing population surges

City folks aren’t the only ones on the move. As urban dwellers migrate to the suburbs, suburbanites sprawl into smaller cities and towns to find larger homes and more affordable lifestyles.

Agent Wendy Turner, who sells homes 14% faster than the average Simpsonville, SC, agent, cites work flexibility as a decision-making factor for homebuyers. “They’re going to get more house for their money now because they don’t have to have such tight parameters,” she explains.

Three small cities made our list of markets poised for growth: a New England town bent on boosting its tech-savvy workforce, a Southern city attracting outdoor enthusiasts, and a farm town brimming with newcomers.

4. Burlington, Vermont

While Burlington has experienced a slower population growth rate than the national average, the remote work revolution may be a turning point for the region, bolstering The Green Mountain State’s real estate market.

A market report released by the Vermont Association of Realtors shows a significant increase in the number of homes sold in Burlington when compared to 2019, along with an increase in the median home price.

Job figures haven’t seen much action in the past five years, but remote workers migrate from urban markets such as Boston and New York. A recent Google search for coworking space showed at least half a dozen spots for remote workers to congregate. And that’s before you take the five Starbucks locations into account.

Burlington, VT market stats:
Median home price: $335,000
Year-over-year median price change: +16%
Change in days on the market: -34.4%
Home affordability ratio: 6.5

Burlington, VT economic stats: 
Population growth rate: 1%
Job growth rate (03/2015 – 03/2020): 0.7%
Median household income: $51,394

Interesting fact: Vermont encouraged remote work well before 2020 pandemic restrictions made it a necessity. The state has offered up to $10,000 in incentives to attract workers and help boost the economy since 2018.

5. Greenville, South Carolina

Greenville’s job market is one of the few to have recovered from the employment crisis caused by nationwide pandemic restrictions and resulting business shutdowns. A recent BLS employment survey reports job figures slightly above pre-pandemic numbers. And the Emerging Trends report projects employment gains in the next five years, increasing 2.3% annually, just above the national projection of 2.2%.

Top agent Turner cites Greenville’s proximity to larger metropolitan areas (sandwiched between Charlotte and Atlanta), easy access to outdoor spaces, and growing restaurant scene as draws for new residents.

Greenville, SC market stats:
Median home price: $254,500
Year-over-year median price change: 10%
Change in days to close: -7.5%
Home affordability ratio: 4.4

Greenville, SC economic stats:
Population growth rate: 19.2%
Job growth rate (03/2015 – 03/2020): 11.9%
Median household income: $56,609

Interesting fact: Watch out for self-driving tanks in Greenville. Clemson University’s International Center for Automotive Research is charging ahead in autonomous vehicle research, in partnership with the U.S. Army. Clemson officials believe that leading in technological strides will help keep Greenville’s economy — and housing market — humming.

6. Star, Idaho

Idaho cemented itself as the state with the highest net migration inflow with 194% more people moving to the state than left it since March. The community of Star, located just 20 miles outside of Boise, recently made headlines for a growth surge that’s left the rural hamlet bursting at the seams. Many of Star’s transplants are retirees who moved from pricey West Coast communities to enjoy a simpler, more affordable lifestyle.

Despite growing pains that accompany rapid population growth and swift transformation of farmland into housing tracts, residential growth continues, and home values are rising. As part of a bedroom community with few businesses, residents have to drive outside of town to shop, putting a strain on roads and highways with traffic congestion. Luckily, there are signs of development, such as Albertsons’ plan to build a new store in the flourishing community.

Star, ID market stats:
Median home price: $469,000
Year-over-year median price change: 15.8%
Change in days to close: 18.4%
Home affordability ratio: 7.1

Star, ID economic stats:
Population growth rate: 80.3%
Job growth rate (Ada county, 03/2015 – 03/2020): +21.7%
Median household income: $65,282

Interesting fact: Star was ranked the fastest-growing city in Idaho, which is one of the fastest-growing states in the nation. Most of the influx comes from higher cost, more densely populated areas in the West Coast, such as California.

Tampa, a real estate market to watch in 2021.
Source: (Kody Cheyne / Unsplash)

Warm weather markets expanding with an influx of remote workers

Snowbirds have long flocked to the sunbelt to escape dreary winters forever. When pandemic-related restrictions forced businesses across the country to pivot, employees started exploring new living situations. Why not load up on vitamin D while working from the beach or by a lake?

We chose a desert transportation hub, an affordable suburb city brimming with small-town charm, and a breezy beach destination to round out our list of booming warm-weather markets.

7. Buckeye, Arizona

One of the country’s fastest-growing cities, Buckeye’s population swelled from just over 6,500 to 92,000 since the year 2000. Arizona is the second-most popular destination for migrating Californians and Buckeye is a hot spot for Phoenix urbanites moving out to the suburbs to enjoy a lower cost of living.

The city expects growth to continue. In preparation, home developers feverishly build new homes, with 35 residential developments in the works and construction of more than 21,000 new homes in the next five years.

Economically, the city benefits from its position along the CANAMEX Corridor, a series of highways linking Canada and Mexico through NAFTA. The locale positions Buckeye as a logistics and distribution center. The city calls itself home to Wal-Mart Transportation and Logistics and a Walmart distribution warehouse.

Buckeye, AZ market stats:
Median home price: $310,000
Year-over-year median price change: 24%
Change in days to close: -12.1%
Home affordability ratio: 4.3

Buckeye, AZ economic stats:
Population growth rate: 56.6%
Job growth rate (03/2015 – 03/2020): 31.3%
Median household income: $71,707

Interesting fact: Bill Gates reportedly shelled out $80 million for more than 24,000 acres of land in and around Buckeye. Detailed plans are under wraps, but word is the billionaire intends to create a “smart city” centered around technology. If developed, the project could propel the local real estate market further, expanding both commercial and residential opportunities in the area.

8. Frisco, Texas

“There is nothing that I need outside of the Frisco area,” declares Christie Cannon, who completes 7% more sales than the average Frisco agent. “Everything that you could possibly think of — fun, food, recreation — is all right here.”

Frisco locals take pride in the community’s balance of small-town charm and big-city amenities. As an example, Cannon points to The Star: the $1.5 billion Dallas Cowboys headquarters that doubles as a destination center of sorts with onsite restaurants, shops, and a hotel.

Cannon says affordability is a major driving force behind Frisco’s hot real estate market. Even with rising home prices, homes are relatively affordable because of low-interest rates, she remarks. With a low cost of living (3.6% lower than the national average) and a median household income twice the national average, it’s no wonder Frisco topped the U.S. Census list of fastest-growing large cities.

The employment outlook remains healthy in this business-friendly city, with area employers such as FedEx, Toyota, Keurig Dr Pepper calling Frisco home.

Frisco, TX market stats:
Median home price: $499,000
Year-over-year median price change: 16%
Change in days to close: -33.3%
Home affordability ratio: 3.9

Frisco, TX economic stats:
Population growth rate: 71.1%
Job growth rate (03/2015 – 03/2020): 28.5%
Median household income: $127,055

Interesting fact: The Professional Golfers Association (PGA) of America started construction of its new headquarters in Frisco, occupying 600 acres to the tune of $500 million. The project includes a 500-room hotel and convention center, along with championship courses and practice areas.

9. Tampa / Hillsborough County, Florida

“Tampa’s kind of like the sleeper in Florida,” says Andrew Duncan, who works with 72% more single-family homes than the average Tampa agent. “It keeps growing, sure and steady.”

Tampa lies in Hillsborough County, which grew in population by nearly 20% in the past decade. Affordability is one of the key factors attracting and retaining residents. Tampa’s cost of living ranks 5.6% lower than the national average. The city is significantly more affordable than Orlando (0.8% lower) and Miami (11.6% higher).

And while tourism is a healthy part of the economy (24.5 million visitors descended on the city in 2019), Duncan says Tampa homeowners aren’t overwhelmed by the congestion a crowd of vacationers can bring. In contrast, Orlando welcomed a record 75 million tourists in 2018.

From an employment perspective, Tampa’s economic outlook looks positive. Hillsborough County’s unemployment rate was 5.7% in October 2020, lower than the national rate of 6.6% in the same month. One of the largest employers in the county, MacDill Air Force Base, employs more than 15,000 military personnel. Sports fanatics cheer on major sports teams such as the National Football League’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the National Hockey League’s Tampa Bay Lightning — organizations that contribute revenue to the city and job opportunities for locals. Additionally, Amazon is opening a new Tampa Bay fulfillment center in 2021, adding 750 new jobs to the region.

Hillsborough county market stats:
Median single-family home price: $290,000
Year-over-year median price change: 15.6%
Change in days to close: -18.3%
Home affordability ratio: 4.92

Hillsborough county economic stats:
Population growth rate: 19.7%
Job growth rate (03/2015 – 03/2020): 11.3%
Median household income: $58,884

Interesting fact: Homebuyers escaping northeast winters love Tampa Bay’s balmy summers (averaging 83 degrees) and temperate winters (averaging 62 degrees). Just ask NFL quarterback Tom Brady, who moved to Tampa Bay earlier this year. “You won’t catch me dead living in the northeast anymore,” he reportedly quipped.

Header Image Source: (Alexe Rice / Unsplash)

With low interest rates and remote work flexibility, it feels like nearly everyone’s raring for a change – a change of address. We chose nine hot U.S. real estate markets that home buyers should consider in 2021.HomeLight Blog

The Holy Grail for a Swift Sale: 7 Tips to Sell Your House Fast in CharlestonRebecca SandmeyerHomeLight Blog

Brimming with history, hospitality, and cobblestone charm, Charleston consistently ranks as one of America’s best cities in Travel + Leisure and Condé Nast Traveler’s yearly roundups — and people are taking notice. The Holy City’s population continues to swell with an increasing number of out-of-state homebuyers entering the market to enjoy the laid-back Lowcountry lifestyle.

As a local, you’ve had mixed feelings about newcomers calling your city their new home in the past. But now that you’re looking to sell your house fast, you’ll embrace any buyer who wants to make you a competitive offer. To capture these buyers’ attention, you’ll need to play up their most-wanted features, highlight that charming Charleston architecture, and price your home with precision.

Need some guidance? We’ve got your back. Our comprehensive guide to selling your house fast in Charleston includes seven insider tips from the city’s top real estate experts. Heed our advice and you’ll make a prompt and pretty penny off of your timeless wrought-iron maiden.

Know the market to sell house fast in Charleston
Source: (Emmy Gaddy / Unsplash)

The charm of Charleston: An overview of the real estate market

According to Forbes, Charleston is indeed in a seller’s market. As of 2020, the housing inventory is down by 42.2% year-over-year — a short supply for the city’s growing buyer pool. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that Charleston has a population growth rate that is triple the U.S. average, with an increase of 20.7% in the past 10 years. As a result, homes are selling faster for more money than ever. In 2020, homes sold 22 days faster for 7.4% more than the previous year.

A report released by the National Association of Realtors projects that Charleston’s housing market will remain steady and ranks the Southern city as a top 10 performing metro for the next three to five years.

In this seller’s market, you’re likely to sell your home fast so long as you set yourself up for success. Here are our seven tips to help you pull off the fastest sale possible:

1. For a swift sale, attract Charleston’s primary buyer groups

“It’s not just those trading in their snow shovels for sunscreen that find themselves calling Charleston home,” shares Kevin Richter, a top Charleston real estate agent who sells homes 39% quicker than the average agent. Charleston attracts a variety of local and out-of-state buyers, all looking to settle into the charming coastal lifestyle.

Still, if you want to sell your Charleston home fast, you’ll want to attract the market’s largest buyer groups: military families, retirees, and millennial Yankees relocating from the Northeast.

Military families

Richter explains that the abundance of military bases provides a revolving door of military families moving in and out of the greater Charleston area. With more than 22,000 employees at Joint Base Charleston and a new U.S. Coast Guard superbase in the pipeline, the relocation rates are set to soar. Here’s how you can capture quick offers from military buyers:


With warm weather, a laidback lifestyle, and a property tax rate of just 0.56%, it’s no wonder Charleston is a hub for retirees. Here are a few tips to influence retirees to choose your home for their golden years:

Recently relocated millennials

With a 58% millennial growth rate from 2000 to 2012 and an average age of 38, Charleston has become a millennial mecca. The city’s $89 billion tech industry has doubled since 2005, with companies like Google and Boeing bringing many young professionals to the region. Here are our best tricks for enticing millennial buyers:

List your home in April to sell house fast in Charleston
Source: (Susanne Pommer / ShutterStock)

2. List your home in April to catch Charleston’s peak selling season

According to HomeLight’s market data, Charleston homes sold in July sell nine days faster than the yearly average.  Since it typically takes three months from list to close, you should list your home in April to sell your house fast — right after that much-needed spring cleaning!

However, if you can’t optimize your listing time, don’t sweat it. Richter shares that Charleston’s warm climate and rotating military population keep the market steady year-round.

3. Enhance your storage space for buyers bound to miss their basements

Richter explains the importance of highlighting storage areas such as your attic or garage:

“On the thread of the relocation folks, everyone has basements up in the Northeast — we don’t. Having storage space up in the attic or in the garage can be a huge pull for someone moving from a 5,000 square foot home where half of it is your basement.”

Your first step to showing off these spaces? Declutter. Melanie Bias, CEO and senior designer of award-winning Charleston staging company Southern Charm Staging, shares that clutter is most sellers’ main interior problem, especially those who have lived in their homes for 30-plus years.

Once you’ve decluttered, install organizers to tidy up your remaining belongings. Include photos of these freshly organized spaces in your home listing so buyers know your home has plenty of storage before they even step foot inside.

Stage your backyard to sell house fast in Charleston
Source: (Kristi Blokhin / ShutterStock)

4. Stage a backyard sweeter than Southern tea

“What’s so unique and special about Charleston is the outdoors: the weather, gorgeous sunsets, wonderful climate for the majority of the year. Sellers need to spend as much time beautifying their backyard or showcasing their sunporch,” shares Bias.

Transform your backyard into a private oasis with these easy upgrades:

  • Assess your seating situation: Charleston’s salty humid air does a number on outdoor furniture. Could your wrought iron patio set from 2002 use a new coat of spray paint or a trip to the trash bin? If it’s the latter, hop on Craigslist to snag a used set in better condition for an affordable swap. 
  • Add a firepit: Create a unique outdoor entertaining space with a new firepit. You can even build one DIY-style, as Bias notes: “With a few pavers, some river rocks, and a little elbow grease, you now have an outdoor destination that the house down the street — and your competition — does not.”
  • Improve your landscaping: While it may be tempting to revamp your entire yard, remember that a frugal facelift can often bring a stronger return on investment. Create a landscaping edge by layering concrete, stone, or plastic. Plant a few low-maintenance flowering shrubs in hanging baskets from your porch or in planters near the patio. Finally, achieve a “finished” look by adding a layer of pine straw to your flower beds.

5. Offer hurricane-proofing and protection

Since hurricanes periodically hit the region, Charleston homes must withstand strong winds and heavy rainfall. Offer out-of-state buyers some peace of mind by reassuring them that your home is ready to weather the storm:

  • Highlight your home’s weather-resistant features like storm windows or doors.
  • Tackle maintenance to reduce the impact of a future storm, such as trimming trees and replacing or cleaning rain gutters.
  • Offer to pay for the first year of disaster insurance to incentivize quick offers.
Style an interior that complements the architecture to sell house fast in Charleston
Source: (Wes Hicks / Unsplash)

6. Style an interior that complements the architecture

“The architecture by far is one of the more unique assets that Charleston has,” Bias comments. Still, she often sees homeowners with historical homes decorating with modern fixtures and furnishings that diminish their property’s character.

“The purpose of ‘refresh’ is to highlight the character of the home, not conceal it,” Bias explains. If you’re selling an older home, Bias recommends decorating with transitional furniture and decor and painting the walls warmer earth tones as opposed to the contemporary grays.

If you’re selling a newer home, on the other hand, then embracing modern coastal design is the way to go. Modern coastal design is a minimalist aesthetic defined by neutral colors, weathered textures, and white-washed woods reminiscent of the coastline’s natural elements. But don’t get carried away with kitschy seashells, anchors, and rope chandeliers. Keep your interior neutral with light wood-framed furniture, navy accent pillows, woven rugs, and light blue or sand-colored paint.

7. Pinpoint a precise listing with the help of a top agent

The median sale price for a single-family home in Charleston sits around $423,000, according to the Trident Association of Realtors. For a rough estimate of your home’s market value, plug your home’s address and details HomeLight’s Home Value Estimator — we’ll provide you with a free estimate in less than two minutes.

Once you know your ballpark home value, partner with a top real estate agent to pinpoint the perfect listing price that encourages quick offers while securing the highest possible sale. Richter explains that honing in on a listing price is particularly challenging in the Charleston market due to the mix of home styles and ages, including historical and new prefab homes. To determine an accurate listing price, an experienced agent will conduct a comparative market analysis (CMA) and analyze recent home sale prices based on how similar those properties are to your home.

Here’s an overview of how your agent arrives at a competitive listing price:

  • Analyze sale prices of comparable properties in your local area that sold recently.
  • Weigh in your home’s unique features, such as recent upgrades, yard slope, desirability of finishes, and architectural style.
  • Evaluate whether home prices in your neighborhood are on the rise, stable, or cooling down.
  • Determine the best pricing strategy for your selling goals.

But don’t leave this task up to just any agent: The top 3% agents in Charleston sell homes on average 31 days faster than their peers. Find top agents near you with HomeLight’s Agent Finder. We’ll match you with the best three agents for your home sale based on transaction data, including the agent’s average days on market, average list-to-sale price, total transactions, and client reviews.

Header Image Source: (Kevin Ruck / ShutterStock)

If you want to sell your house fast in Charleston, you’ll need to charm local and out-of-state homebuyers alike. Here are seven expert-backed tips for a fast sale in the Lowcountry.HomeLight Blog

9 Tricks to Sell Your El Paso Home Fast to the Sun City’s Impulse BuyersAudra BarberHomeLight Blog

If you’re an El Paso homeowner hoping to sell your home before sunset, you’re in luck. El Paso maintains a stable buyer pool thanks to its diverse economy supported by military, healthcare, government, and private industries.

Better yet, El Paso is brimming with “impulse buyers”: Buyers who routinely buy and sell or rent out properties. According to top El Paso real estate agent Silas Baca, these impulse buyers typically include military families working with short-ownership timelines due to routine relocations, as well as first-time homebuyers eager to start building equity.

Still, even with El Paso’s sunny seller-friendly housing market, you’ll face obstacles before locking down a fast home sale. Impulse buyers want move-in-ready homes, meaning you’ll need to whip your home into shape if you hope to inspire quick offers.

Not to worry, HomeLight is here to help. We researched the El Paso market, spoke with two local real estate experts, and analyzed housing transaction data to bring you nine essential tips to sell your El Paso home fast.

The largest buying group is the military when going to sell house fast in el paso
Source: (Jessica Radanavong / Unsplash)

1. Market to El Paso’s largest buyer group: Military families

Fort Bliss, El Paso’s largest military base, employs more than 38,500 active duty military personnel who bring their 39,000 family members to the city. And that’s just on Fort Bliss. El Paso is also home to Biggs Army Airfield and the Beaumont Army Medical Center.

Since the military routinely relocates its members, newcomers seek move-in-ready homes that don’t require repairs or significant remodeling. Here’s how you can attract El Paso’s largest buyer group to your home:

  • Tackle maintenance and repairs before you put your home on the market.
  • Highlight the short commute to major military bases in the listing description.
  • Work with a real estate agent with a Military Relocation Professional (MPR) certification who understands the processes and procedures military families go through during relocation.
  • Immaculately clean and declutter your interior so buyers can envision living in your home.
  • Flaunt your patriotism with an American flag in the front yard.

2. List your home in July to catch El Paso’s peak selling season

HomeLight’s data reveals that El Paso homes sold in July sell 11 days faster than the yearly average. Since it generally takes about three months from list to close, list your home in April to increase your odds of a fast sale.

Top agent Baca, who sells 84% more single-family homes than the average agent, also advises that sellers can snag a fast sale if they list in March or November during the military’s major rotations. During these months, thousands of military members and their families arrive in El Paso ready to purchase homes.

Tackle common repairs when going to sell house fast in el paso
Source: (Roselyn Tirado / Unsplash)

3. Tackle these common repairs before you list

Since the average home age in El Paso is 37 years, there’s a good chance your home could use some TLC. Conduct a pre-listing home inspection and complete necessary repairs before you list your home.

“I try to remind people that if you spend a thousand dollars on the front end, you’re going to make it up on the backend. Because now your property is more presentable and potentially will sell much quicker than house B down the street that still needs a lot of repairs,” Baca advises.

According to Baca, these are the most commonly needed repairs in El Paso:

4. Draw in El Paso’s millennial homebuyers with contemporary styling

El Paso’s median age is 33 years old (five years younger than the national median), creating a notably young buyer pool. Your best bet at attracting these millennials? Style your home to reflect the current interior design trends. Otherwise, young buyers will struggle to envision living in your home and hold back their offers.

“We went to a showing this weekend with a pretty young couple to a beautiful home. But the home was designed for that generation — that older family — so it didn’t work for the young couple. But if it was more modernized, then I think it would have probably incited them to buy,” shares Baca.

Here are our top tips for styling a millennial-approved interior:

Replace carpet with wood tile floor when going to sell house fast in el paso
Source: (fran hogan / Unsplash)

5. Replace your ’70s shag carpet with wood tile flooring

According to Baca, wood look tile flooring is the most popular replacement for carpet in El Paso. Wood look tiles create the classic appearance of wood flooring and stay cool on the hottest summer days. Expect to spend between $500 to $6,500 on materials per 1,000 square feet.

Here are some of our top ceramic tile picks:

6. Replace old appliances with energy-efficient models

New, energy-efficient appliances score big points with El Paso buyers. Energy Star appliances require 10% to 50% less energy than traditional models and help lower household energy bills. For example, a refrigerator with an Energy Star rating will save buyers more than $200 during its lifetime. Not to mention, Energy Star dishwashers save on average 3,870 gallons of water throughout their use — significant savings given El Paso’s drought-prone climate.

Replace your old kitchen appliances with energy-efficient stainless steel models such as this KitchenAid 5-Door French Door Refrigerator or an LG smart refrigerator. According to our research, new kitchen appliances cost $4,229 on average and add $5,982 in value at resale.

Put in an artificial lawn when going to sell house fast in el paso
Source: (christopher babcock / ShutterStock)

7. Replace dying grass with an artificial lawn

El Paso only receives 10 inches of rain annually, which is scant compared to the national average of 38 inches of rainfall per year. If you’ve struggled to maintain your lawn, replace it with artificial grass.

Robert Castro, CEO and founder of BC Pro Contractors and Landscape with more than 28 years of experience, shares that today more El Paso homeowners ask for artificial grass than natural grass. Artificial grass is easy to maintain, and it creates that lush look all year-round.

Since artificial grass is relatively expensive — costing $5 to $25 per square foot on average —  Castro advises homeowners to install artificial grass the full length of the yard but only eight feet across. In the remaining space, he suggests adding a small cultured stone wall and a variety of dwarf flowering shrubs that thrive in El Paso’s climate like Lantanas, Green Cloud Sage, and Texas Sage.

8. Stage a fire pit perfect for stargazing

The City of El Paso has worked hard to recover clear, starry nights with the Dark Star ordinance. Help your buyers envision long nights stargazing in the backyard with a new firepit. According to HomeLight’s Top Agent Insights Report for Q2 2020, a fire pit costs $1,665 on average and recoups $1,394 when you go to sell — that’s 84% of costs recovered. In addition to adding value, fire pits boost your home’s marketability and inspire buyers to make faster offers.

Here are some of our favorite fire pit options:

Partner with a real estate agent when wanting to sell house fast in el paso
Source: (BalanceFormCreative / ShutterStock)

9. Partner up with an expert to sell your home fast

If your goal is to sell your house quickly, you need to partner up with a top real estate agent. A top agent will help you make strategic upgrades to your home and set a competitive listing price, so you see fast offers without compromising on your home sale earnings.

But don’t just take our word for it: Trust the numbers. According to agent transaction data, the top 3% of real estate agents in El Paso sell homes 54 days faster than the average agent.

Discover top agents in El Paso with HomeLight’s Agent Finder. Our system crunches transaction data from thousands of home sales to match you with the best three agents for your home sale. Once you meet your matches, interview the candidates, and choose the agent you most trust to guide you through the home sale journey.

Header Image Source: (Sean Pavone / ShutterStock)

Need to sell your house fast in El Paso? These nine expert-approved tips will help your home outshine the competition in the Sun City.HomeLight Blog

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