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57% Of Americans Say Fixer-Uppers Aren’t Worth It – Are They Right?

Based on the number of reality home improvement shows, fixer-uppers seem to be all the rage. Americans fell in love with “Fixer Upper” couple Chip and Joanna Gaines and other dynamic duos like the Property Brothers. But are they smitten enough to take on a project of their own? For those who may be less familiar with HGTV, a fixer-upper is a home with a lot of potential that is in need of repairs, a diamond in the rough. The appeals of fixer-uppers are potential cost-savings and the chance to customize property.

We surveyed 1,000 Americans to see how deep their interest in fixer-uppers and home improvement goes. Is it surface-level or are people really willing to flex their renovation skills to create their personalized dream home?

The goal of this study is to provide helpful information that can be of use to those selling their own homes and to compare different real estate trends in relation to changes in pop culture. It’s so important to know your target market if you’re selling your home. If you can understand what people value, you’ll be better equipped to create a home listing that’s going to sell fast.

 

Sorry, Chip and Jo – The American Dream Is Not A Fixer-Upper

57% believe that fixer uppers aren't worth it

The majority of respondents did not think that buying a fixer-upper would be worth it. The most common reasons reported were perceived stress levels and the lack of savings. On the flip side, about 20% of respondents believed that buying a fixer-upper could save them at least $20,000. 

perceived turnkey and fixer-upper savings

With so much buzz around millennials and home buying, there were, surprisingly, no significant differences between age groups and perceived fixer-upper savings. In addition, 18% of respondents ages 18 – 34 think fixer-uppers aren’t worth the stress, versus respondents 35 and older, of which 33% said it wouldn’t be worth the stress. Younger prospective home buyers are slightly more likely to roll up their sleeves and take on a fixer-upper than older homebuyers.

 

How Much Do Fixer-Uppers Actually Save You?

average fixer-upper savings

Most respondents lowballed their savings estimate. The 20% that chose $20,000+ were right on the mark. The average home cost is $289,000, and the average fixer-upper savings is about 10%, bringing the average savings across the U.S. to about $22,680. While this all depends on the housing market in the area you’re searching in, on average you will usually save 10% of the cost of a comparable turnkey home. 

See the chart below for the average home cost and average fixer-upper savings by state. The prices are pulled from internal data and the National Association of REALTORS®:

fixer-upper savings by state

 

How Much Are Renovations?

It’s important to note that your savings are also contingent on what types of renovations you plan on implementing. Poor planning or unexpected issues can cause renovations to exceed their budgeted costs. It’s crucial to create a renovation budget with breathing room, a contingency for unexpected costs or delays. 

You can save money by purchasing items secondhand and using less luxurious materials. Also, consider that some rooms may just need a new coat paint while others could require a full remodel. Note that the cost of materials and labor varies by state and city. 

See the average baseline costs for common remodeling projects: 

  • Bathroom remodels average baseline cost is $2,500.
  • Kitchen remodels baseline can be anywhere from $12,000 $20,000 and up.
  • Bedroom remodels average cost is around $7,800 and up.

 

Which Factors Are Most Important?

Commute times versus what the significant other likes

We asked respondents to select all of the factors and qualities that were most important to them when purchasing a home. Concurrent with the other survey question above, the “fixer-upper” quality came in last with only 11%. Close commutes, great schools nearby and turnkey homes were the top three most valued factors. See the average results from all respondents:

  • Close commute: 33%
  • Great schools: 31%
  • Turnkey: 29%
  • Partner loves it: 22%
  • Entertainment nearby: 16%  
  • Fixer-upper: 11%

 

How Do Generations’ Preferences Differ?

A frequently debated topic is the differences between different age groups and how they affect the housing market. For example, households without children will comprise nearly 40% of the population by 2025. As the market of buyers evolves and changes, so should your approach to selling your home.

Use the lists below to better understand how to market your property based on your ideal buyer.

home buying priorities by age

 

Does Gender Play A Role In Home-Buying Priorities? 

men and women's' priorities when buying a home

Back in 2000, 61% of adult women were in the workforce, and by 2016 that percentage had risen to 74.3%. It’s fair to say that women’s increasing participation in the workforce has had an effect on what women value when buying a home. This may be why the most important factor women report is a close commute, followed by great schools and a turnkey, move-in ready home. Male respondents’ overall top priority was ensuring their significant other loved the hours, followed closely by a convenient commute and great schools.

With people’s aversion to the thought of a fixer-upper, it’s no wonder that it was excluded from our list of words that sell. If you’re selling a fixer-upper, try to focus on its best qualities. Be honest and concede where the property needs repairs, just make sure you have professional pricing quotes of the home’s worth and any repairs the place needs. If you don’t, you’re giving the buyer the upper hand and giving them the opportunity to get the home for below what it’s worth.   

 

Methodology

This survey was conducted for ForSaleByOwner using Google Surveys. The sample consisted of no less than 1,000 completed responses per question. Post-stratification weighting has been applied to ensure an accurate and reliable representation of the total population. The survey ran during November 2019.

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10 Best Cities For Starting A New Career

“I wake up in the morning and am excited to go to work and do what I love.” “The work I do is challenging but it’s fulfilling and rewarding.” “I’m eager to grow and become better at what I do.”

If none of these statements resonate with you, you aren’t alone. The Conference Board’s consumer research center reported that only 45% of Americans are satisfied with their jobs. If you’re someone who falls into that other 55%, it might be time to consider making a career change.

While there are many elements that factor into the decision for a job switch, it comes down to what’s best for you and your family. It’s hard to thrive and be truly happy if you spend 40+ hours a week doing something that doesn’t excite and fulfill you.

If you’re in the market for a career shift or if you’re looking to start your own business, ask yourself this: Is the city you live in providing you with the best platform to do so? If that answer is no or if you’re unsure, take a look at our list of the best cities for a career change.

Button to skip to the city rankings

In addition to our list of best cities for making a career change, we’ve provided some advice for making that transition as smooth as possible. The career change resources include info about the importance of finding your passion, risks and benefits of a career change, factors to consider and actionable tips to help you make it all happen.

Button to skip to the career change tips

What Makes A City Great For A Career Change?

If you know that a career shift is in your future, a change of scenery might open up some new opportunities. Some factors to consider when looking at cities for possible relocation include:

  • Low unemployment rates and a high number of job openings in your field
  • Business growth and grant opportunities for aspiring business owners
  • Affordability and availability of housing
  • Potential for increased home value if you’re considering putting down permanent roots
  • Average pay for your desired field or job position versus the cost of living
  • If you’re planning to take an entry-level job, consider those salaries as well

Another important point to consider is the lifestyle in the location. Does this new area have things to do that align with your hobbies and interests? You wouldn’t want to put down roots somewhere for a job if it’s not going to be a great place for you after you’ve clocked out. This is something we kept in mind when selecting our top cities for restarting your career. In addition to the economic factors, we only considered cities that ranked highly for well-being and happiness by their residents from this study by Gallup-ShareCare.

See our methodology section below for the specifics of how we made our top picks.

 

The 10 Best Places To Restart Your Career

Peruse our selections for the best cities to reboot your career, and maybe even find your potential new home and launchpad for your career.

 

10. Austin, TX

Best cities for a career change visual of Austin, Texas' stats

Kicking off our list at number 10, Austin is a well-known state capitol, but its tech and real estate growth have changed its cultural and economic landscape dramatically over the past decade. According to the Austin Chamber of Commerce, employment in the tech industry has grown by 24.9% over the past 5 years. This has brought opportunities in other fields to the area, as well as supported Austin incentives and grants. If you have an entrepreneurial spirit, try taking it to the Lone Star State. Texas was also named the best state to start a business in 2019. Austin’s music and art scene has grown tremendously and is becoming a diverse destination with plenty of activities to keep you entertained on the weekends.

  • Unemployment rate: 2.9%
  • Average commute time: 24 minutes
  • Average entry-level salary: $31,635
  • Average salary: $49,532
  • Average monthly cost of housing: $1,513

 

9. Colorado Springs, CO

Best cities for a career change visual of Colorado Springs, Colorado's stats

Positioned against sweeping mountainscapes, Colorado Springs is full of beauty and opportunity. Some of their largest industries include scientific and technical services, health care and public administration. Check out their business resources for more insight into their economic development and opportunities. Colorado Springs is a great place for those who love the outdoors, as there are ample opportunities for camping, hiking and other outdoor adventures.

  • Unemployment rate: 3.4%
  • Average commute time: 21.8 minutes
  • Average entry-level salary: $30,459
  • Average salary: $47,691
  • Average monthly cost of housing: $1,243

 

8. Aurora, CO

Best cities for a career change visual of Aurora, Colorado's stats

Aurora is the third-largest (and the safest) city in Colorado with booming business opportunities. It’s also close enough to Denver to access their job market while allowing for a lower cost of living. Aurora offers many business incentives for those looking to forge their own path. Since the city is steps away from the mountains with beautiful hiking and biking trails, there is a big fitness community present there as well. Don’t underestimate their food scene just because they’re health-conscious – there’s an abundance of delicious and diverse cuisine to enjoy after work.

  • Unemployment rate: 2.7%
  • Average commute time: 29.3 minutes
  • Average entry-level salary: $32,101
  • Average salary: $50,262
  • Average monthly cost of housing: $1,313

 

7. Minneapolis, MN

Best cities for a career change visual of Minneapolis, Minnesota's stats

When making a career shift, don’t forget to consider this Twin City. Minneapolis has a great cost of living-to-income ratio and great average commute time for a bigger city. Small businesses can find ample support from the city as well as ongoing bids and Request for Proposals (RFPS) for funding from their procurement office. Located on the Mississippi River, Minneapolis has a great balance of urban and outdoor activities. Along with a great nightlife and bar scene, the city’s sprinkled with many lakes and parks, like the gorgeous Minnehaha Park.

  • Unemployment rate: 3.1%
  • Average commute time: 22.9 minutes
  • Average entry-level salary: $33,341
  • Average salary: $52,203
  • Average monthly cost of housing: $1,282

 

6. Scottsdale, AZ

Best cities for a career change visual of Scottsdale's stats

This desert city’s tech and software scene has been heating up in recent years. This has brought many jobs to Scottsdale and its sister cities of Tempe and Phoenix – this uptick in employment has been a big reason for its high job potential ranking. Scottsdale attracts entrepreneurs and skilled workers alike. Check out some tools and tips to help with relocation and getting started, and make note of this “Opportunity Zone” map and size-up business research tool. After hours, enjoy striking sunsets, golf at one of their numerous clubs, energetic nightlife or maybe a hike to explore interesting geological features at Papago Park.

  • Unemployment rate: 3.4%
  • Average commute time: 22.1 minutes
  • Average entry-level salary: $31,461
  • Average salary: $49,260
  • Average monthly cost of housing: $1,634

 

5. Burlington, VT

Best cities for a career change visual of Burlington, Vermont's stats

Home of the lowest unemployment rate in the U.S. and the Ben and Jerry’s headquarters, Burlington is a sweet spot to reboot and start fresh. Some of their most common industries include education, health care, and accommodation and food services. There are also a ton of resources if you’re looking to start up a business in Burlington. Looking to unplug and disconnect? Explore the natural beauty in surrounding state parks and at Lake Champlain.

  • Unemployment rate: 1.8%
  • Average commute time: 18.5 minutes
  • Average entry-level salary: $32,056
  • Average salary: $50,191
  • Average monthly cost of housing: $1,449

 

4. Boston, MA

Best cities for a career change visual of Boston, Massachusetts' stats

Boston provides business startups with many exciting opportunities, including grants and loans ranging from $25,000 – $150,000, with some loans up to $250,000. There are also special initiatives to create lively main street districts enriched by a variety of businesses as well as state-provided grant matching to pay for employee training. Boston’s old port city background makes it a historical hotspot – check out the Freedom Trail route that takes you by important sites and museums.

  • Unemployment rate: 2.7%
  • Average commute time: 30.4 minutes
  • Average entry-level salary: $35,247
  • Average salary: $55,187
  • Average monthly cost of housing: $1,869

 

3. Washington, DC

Best cities for a career change visual of Washington DC's stats

Our nation’s capital isn’t all politics – it’s also brimming with ample opportunity for a career reset. According to the District of Columbia’s official job outlook, the top five fields with the most in-demand jobs are finance, law, PR/fundraising, computer systems and HR. If you’re looking to stay busy and explore outside of work, DC is full of attractions, museums, art, nightlife and places of historical significance.

  • Unemployment rate: 3.3%
  • Average commute time: 30 minutes
  • Average entry-level salary: $34,488
  • Average salary: $53,999
  • Average monthly cost of housing: $1,899

 

2. Emeryville, CA

Best cities for a career change visual of Emeryville California's stats

This city is prime for a career restart. It offers affordable housing while being close enough to other Bay Area cities like San Francisco and Oakland to enter those job markets as well. Take an easy 30-minute commute to potentially rake in an even higher salary. Emeryville offers a variety of small-business rebates and incentives to make it easier to turn dreams into reality. Emeryville is also a hop, skip and a jump away from other great destinations – take a ferry across the gorgeous bay to a hidden gem like Sausalito or take a scenic drive to Napa Valley or Lake Tahoe.

  • Unemployment rate: 2.9%
  • Average commute time: 32.1 minutes
  • Average entry-level salary: $36,405
  • Average salary: $57,002
  • Average monthly cost of housing: $2,184

 

1. Portland, ME

Best cities for a career change visual of Portland, Maine's stats

Nestled along a gorgeous New England peninsula, Portland, Maine, is not only beautiful, it’s also an ideal location to reboot your career. It boasts short commutes, the second-lowest unemployment rate in the U.S. and low housing costs. The city offers loans as a resource for those looking to start their own businesses as well. Portland is known for its 19th-century architecture, scenic shore views and nightlife, so there’s a lot to enjoy outside of work hours.

  • Unemployment rate: 1.9%
  • Average commute time: 19.1 minutes
  • Average entry-level salary: $31,833
  • Average salary: $49,842
  • Average monthly cost of housing: $1,390

 

Additional Cities for Career Restarts

Below you’ll see some other options and honorable mentions. Do you think we missed a great city? Let us know in the comments below what makes your city an ideal option for a restart.

Rank City Unemployment Rate Commute Time (minutes) Entry-level Salary Average Salary Cost of Housing (per month)
11 San Diego, CA 3.6% 24 $33,288 $52,121 $1,940
12 Orlando, FL 3.2% 25.4 $30,152 $47,210 $1,295
13 Pittsburgh, PA 4.5% 23.8 $31,301 $49,009 $1,008
14 Madison, WI 2.6% 19.4 $31,735 $49,688 $1,338
15 West Palm Beach, FL 3.4% 22.7 $32,600 $51,043 $1,368
16 Dallas, TX 3.4% 26.8 $32,733 $51,252 $1,232
17 Nashua, NH 2.7% 26.9 $32,500 $50,886 $1,573
18 Sunnyvale, CA 2.8% 24.4 $37,691 $59,014 $2,591
19 Atlanta, GA 3.5% 26.3 $32,770 $51,309 $1,396
20 Tampla, FL 3.4% 24 $30,280 $47,411 $1,275

 

Tips to Restart Your Career

Making the decision to change or shift your career is exciting but can also be intimidating. See the visual below for actionable tips and insights you can use to help restart your career on the right foot. 

Visual with tips for making a career change. Including the importance of finding the right career, how to align your perspective, overcome obstacles and well as some inspirational words about career change.

At the end of the day, it’s in your hands to go after what inspires you and fulfills your goals. The thought of selling your home and moving somewhere new or entering a new field may seem daunting. Try to reduce that anxiety by considering the tips above, taking it step by step and keeping your sights set on the reward of doing what you love for a living.

 

Methodology

To select the cities that made this list, we cross-referenced the 181 cities in Wallethub’s 2018 study on the best cities for jobs and 186 cities from Gallup’s 2017 study on the communities with the best well-being. Selecting cities that were ranked in both studies, we completed a weighted average of each city’s ranking position. Job study rankings (X) were given a weight of 75 out of 100 while well-being rankings (Y) were given the weight of 25 points (weighted rating =((X*3+Y)/4)). These rankings are supported by and displayed with supplementary data from the US Census (2013–2018), ZipRecruiter’s Salary tool (2019) and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2019) The average cost of housing was determined by averaging median mortgage costs with median gross rent.

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Are Millennials Buying Real Estate?  

Owning real estate is a key vehicle to build and transfer wealth over one’s lifetime and is a big motivator to buy a home. Millennials know this but have continued to rent due to economic conditions – not their so-called obsession with avocado toast. There is overwhelming evidence that suggests financial struggle during the Great Recession of 2008 stunted the growth of millennial homeownership rates. In fact, in the decade before 2015, home ownership amongst those between the ages of 18-34 dropped nearly 10 percent.

What’s Stopping Millennials from Buying Homes?

Evidence suggests that many factors from generational lifestyle changes to record high levels of student debt are driving millennials to live at home with their parents or rent. As of the second quarter of 2018, there was $1.53 trillion in outstanding student loan debt across the United States, a 6.25 percent increase from the year before.

According to the Census Bureau, there is a continuous uptick of millennials from the ages of 24-35 living at home. This could very well be the impact of the ever-increasing cost of student loans, coupled with the fact more millennials are waiting longer to get married and start families of their own.

The Psychological and Economic Impact of the 2008 Housing Crisis

The impact of the Great Recession on millennials is very real. The lasting effect of a recession caused by corruption and greed forces the next generation to think twice about home valuations and buying real estate. So, they continue to rent, especially in dense urban areas.

Business Insider performed a study that says the reluctance in millennials buying homes stems from an 8.5 percent increase of millennials moving into the city. This is surprising since rent expenses in the city usually cost more than a monthly mortgage payment for a starter home.

A report by Urban Institute explains that millennials preference for where they want to live has a bigger impact on why they’re choosing to rent rather than their views on homeownership itself. The report found that millennials want to live in major metropolitan cities where the cost of homeownership is out of reach, so they’re turning to rental properties instead.

Budgets, Government Insured Loans and Other Ways to Save!

If millennials are being held back by student loan debt, economic anxiety and other various factors but still want to buy a home, there are budgeting tips they can use to save money.

First, they can take advantage of financial automation, which helps people stick to a budget. For example, if you’re trying to save $500 a month for a down payment, you can set up an auto withdrawal with your bank, so the money is pulled from your account before you even notice it’s there. This helps eliminate any temptation to spend that cash on a lavish vacation you probably don’t really need.

Another great way millennials can take advantage of cost-saving initiatives are loans backed by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). FHA loans usually have less stringent qualifications for home buyers. If you have a credit score below 620, but above 500, there’s a good chance you’ll qualify for the home. FHA backed mortgages may also cover closing costs and even allow you to put down only 3.5 percent of the final purchase price of the home. With Quicken Loans, you can apply for an FHA loan online and chat with a Home Loan Expert to determine whether this kind of loan is right for you.

How to Tell if it’s the Right Time to Buy a House

Buying a home for the first time can be intimidating, but there are some signs that can help a potential buyer decide if it’s the right time.

First and foremost, a buyer must be physically and mentally ready to take on the responsibility of being a homeowner – including all the menial chores, maintenance, renovations and so forth.

The next step is applying for a mortgage. At this point, lenders will look at a potential buyer’s debt-to-income ratio and adjust as needed. So, if a buyer is looking to qualify for their dream home, it may be in their best interest to hold off until they’re able to lower their debt-to-income ratio as much as possible.

Home buyers then need to compile the cash for the down payment, which is usually between 5 and 20 percent, as well as any associated closing costs. Third-party closing costs are comprised of several different fees, ranging from appraisals to simple courier fees. Closing costs vary by county, city and state.

Other signs that it may be time to move into a house include a low-interest rate environment and the time of year. Buyers should strive for low-interest rate environments, as it will make a lasting impact on the APR of their new home. Seasonality helps buyers gauge the number of other buyers in the market. In the spring and summer, home prices naturally rise due to the high demand in the market, so buyers tend to face a bit more competition during this time of year.

Things to Consider when Moving from an Apartment to a House

Buying a home for the first time is not only a large task financially but moving from an urban apartment to a house or condo can be just as challenging. Millennial homeowners have to decide how to fill the extra space, stay up-to-date on maintenance and deal with homeowners insurance.

Often, a home is going to be larger than an apartment and first-time home buyers will need to purchase new furniture, gadgets and other expensive appliances. Instead of going straight to IKEA, HomeGoods, or Wayfair and buying out their entire stock on a line of credit, first-time home buyers should furnish slowly and think through their purchases. It may be awkward to live in a semi-furnished space for a while, but it’ll be worth it when you look around and see things you truly love instead of expensive items bought in haste.

Check out local estate sales, consignment stores and online garage sales before heading to the big box stores. Usually, secondhand stores will have furnishings and accessories made from high-quality materials that are built to last, unlike most mass-produced furniture. After all, the millennial generation is the king of DIY, thrifting, recycling and repurposing, so they should use that knowledge when furnishing their first home.

Unlike renting, home buyers are responsible for the home inspection, as well as all maintenance and repairs. Upon moving in, it’s important to think about how much DIY maintenance you can handle and what you’ll have to hire out. Luckily, in this day and age, DIY maintenance is easier than ever, even if you’re not particularly handy. YouTube is a great resource for looking up how to perform simple tasks, like tightening screws or attaching door knobs. But homeowners shouldn’t get too excited about doing it all themselves. Some tasks, like dealing with electrical wires or plumbing, can be risky, especially without experience. Homeowners should have a reliable contractor on speed dial for these types of jobs.

Outside of maintenance and furnishings, home buyers will have to manage other expenses, like homeowners insurance and claims. Homeowners can shop around online or through an agent for the best policy. Rates will vary depending on geographical location, home value and other factors. Once the owner has their policy in-hand, they should know exactly how and when to make a claim.

Millennial homeownership rates are not as high the previous generations because of a multitude of factors – student loan debt, economic anxiety and their propensity to live in dense, urban areas where rentals are plenty – but, with financial creativity, restraint and a DIY mindset, millennials can overcome these challenges and start on the path to homeownership.


Mike Genna is a contributor at Benzinga where he covers investments, cryptocurrencies, brokerages, and more.

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4 Ways Millennials are Redefining Real Estate

The millennial generation is already defining the future of real estate. They’ve surpassed Baby Boomers to represent the largest share of homebuyers of any generation at 32 percent, and 21 percent of millennials plan on buying a home in the next 12 to 18 months. Within the next five years, these buyers will begin to overtake previous generations of home sellers, and their habits will dominate the market.

1. New Technology
More than 50 percent of millennials search for homes using their phones, according to National Association of Realtors data. Mobile traffic to listing providers such as Redfin and ForSaleByOwner has overtaken desktop site traffic, which means having a listing that’s optimized for mobile technology will be even more essential to sellers.

2. Agent Alternatives
Millennials have grown up in a peer-to-peer world, which has empowered them to take on a do-it-yourself ethic. As a result, this generation is more likely to consider alternative methods to agents and are less convinced that the services agents provide are worth the cost. In a recent ForSaleByOwner study, 55 percent of millennials stated that they would consider selling their home by owner. Only 30 percent agreed that the service a real estate agent provides for a home seller is worth the fee.

3. Short-Term Rentals
Millennials have embraced the shared economy, with 60 percent of travelers in this age group putting their faith in services like Airbnb and Home Away, according to the Los Angeles Times. Some millennials are less likely to embrace a 30-year mortgage and large down payment, however.

Short-term rentals may be the key to coaxing these individuals into becoming homeowners. Millennials are traveling more for work than their older colleagues, averaging five business trips a year for a total of 15 to 20 days away. Between vacation and constant business travel it may seem more reasonable to rent, but sharing services could allow millennials to use their primary residence as an investment property and make money while they’re away.

4. Bright Lights, Big City
Millennials are more interested in the quality of their neighborhood than members of other generations. They’re also more concerned with avoiding renovations and less worried about customizations, according to a 2015 NAR study. And this generation is far more likely to purchase in an urban location, with 21 percent of home purchases made by those 34 and younger located in an urban area or central city.

Within the next decade, millennials will become the dominant force in the real estate market, and that could mean the upending of traditional real estate models as we know it. How do you think real estate will change as a result of this generation’s habits and desires?

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ForSaleByOwner Trend Watch Summary

Greater access to digital tools, more resources, and information are contributing to consumers’ increased confidence in their abilities to market and sell a home online – and they are doing so faster than agent-assisted sales. For this reason we have compiled the ForSaleByOwner Trend Watch: The Pulse on Changing Consumer Behavior in Real Estate.

Through diligent and comprehensive research we have identified five insights that will allow buyers and sellers to enter the market feeling educated, informed and empowered. Some of the highlights of this report include the following:

  • Millennials are embracing a new real estate model, with this generation accounting for 21 percent of customers on ForSaleByOwner and more than half of millennials willing to consider selling by owner.
  • Consumers today are more empowered and independent than ever before with nearly half using their own research to price their home instead of seeking the insight of an agent.
  • In June 2015, when national median time on market for homes hit record lows, independent sellers actually sold 4 days faster than agent sales.
  • Only 30 percent of consumers believe that the service provided by a real estate agent is worth the fee, contributing to the increased consideration of the by-owner method and new listings on ForSaleByOwner.
  • In the first half of 2015, a home sold on ForSaleByOwner every 52 minutes, with sellers saving an average of $14,000

We hope this report will serve as a beacon for consumers as they take control of one of the most important transactions of their lives.

You can view the entire ForSaleByOwner Trend Watch here.

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3 Things Millennial Home Buyers Want

What can sellers do to appeal to Millennial home buyers? Karen Lawson of LendingTree looks at what members of Generation Y want from their new home and why sellers should market to those desires.

Millennials (loosely-defined as those individuals born between 1981 and 1996, also known as Generation Y) face obstacles to home ownership that their Baby Boomer or Gen X parents did not. The Brookings Institution reports that Millennials will account for one in three adults by 2020 – a force to be reckoned with. However, the National Association of Realtors® reports that although the “leading edge” Millennials aged 25 to 34 want to buy property, they can’t without stronger job markets and a wider choice of affordable residences.

Challenges Faced By Millennials

The main hurdles faced by Millennials are affordability, jobs, and inventory.

Affordability
Millennial home buyers face a double threat of low wages and staggering student loan debt. According to a report by the Economic Policy Institute, student loan debt grew by an average of six percent annually between 2008 and 2012. High levels of student loan debt can make it impossible to qualify for a mortgage, and as property prices rise, owning a home becomes a moving target.

The Economic Policy Institute reports that 2013 college grads earned an average annual salary of $34,500; this was the lowest average pay since 1998. Which areas are most affordable for these grads? The National Association of Realtors® named Austin, Texas and Salt Lake City, Utah among areas with “relatively affordable” properties.

Jobs
Millennial buyers face subdued (but improving) job markets, and the available jobs are likely to come with fewer employer-paid benefits like health insurance and pensions. Employees who pay for these things themselves have that much less cash available to buy homes. The National Association of Realtors® identified Austin and Dallas, Texas and Grand Rapids, Michigan as cities with the strongest job growth within metro areas identified as attractive to Millennials.

Inventory
The National Association of Realtors® reported that the Ogden and Salt Lake City, Utah and the Minneapolis-St. Paul Bloomington MN-WI metro areas had the highest increases in available houses between May 2013 and May 2014. Wherever Millennials look for their next homes, they prefer a good selection of properties and neighborhoods to choose from.

Millennial Home Buyers: Savvy Shoppers
Millennials have morphed from shopaholics into careful consumers: Bloomberg-Businessweek reports that today’s Millennials are responsible and resourceful buyers who no longer deserve their earlier reputation as tech-toy-crazed materialists. The Great Recession changed all of that.

According to Bloomberg, Millennials currently spend about $200 billion a year and make up about 25 percent of the workforce; by 2020, they will comprise the majority of the workforce and their spending will double.

The National Association of Realtors® says that Millennials value their neighborhoods as much as their homes. Millennial home buyers prefer open single-story floor plans, wood or tile flooring and environmentally-friendly “green” features.

Millennials shop online for everything — including homes. In addition to searching the web for homes, Millennials can educate themselves on every step of the home buying process and even get personalized mortgage rates online.

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3 Ways to Fix Problem Areas and Make Your Home Sell

A recent ForSaleByOwner.com survey can help you read buyers’ minds and get a signature on that contract a lot faster.

Buyers aren’t as finicky as you might think. Yes, some prefer a colonial that evokes a refined horse-country sensibility, while others see themselves in a mid-century modern ranch with rakish lines that speak to a Space Age future. These are personal preferences, and for every style and design of home, there are buyers out there who will love it.

But there are some necessities that buyers demand in a home — and if a property lacks too many of these features, the pool of prospective buyers dries up.

According to ForSaleByOwner.com’s survey, those who planned to buy a home within the next year identified the following as important:

•    Garage or carport
•    Central air conditioning
•    Home being in move-in condition
•    Open floor plan
•    Renovated or new kitchen

Some of these features are part of popular trends industry groups are following. Home buyers — especially those in the Millennial generation — are increasingly mindful of how their choices affect the environment. In its 2013 Homeowner Mood & Mindset Survey, the Home Industry Leadership Board found that 58 percent of this group considered reuse of materials in home improvement projects to be important, 47 percent believe “going green” makes them a better person, 41 percent consider going green a part of their lifestyle and 24 percent would choose green alternatives regardless of cost.

Green technology is among the most popular features found in new homes, according to the National Association of Home Builders. According to the association, energy efficiency is a key theme, with Energy Star-rated appliances, programmable thermostats and Energy Star-windows at the top of the list.

Other popular features cited by the association include a walk-in closet in the master bedroom, a laundry room and first-floor ceilings at least 9 feet high.

Obviously, it’s not possible to meet every buyer’s expectation. The good news, though, is that FSBO sellers can address many of these issues when preparing and staging their homes. By investing some time — and often just a little more money — you can enhance your home’s appeal to buyers. Here are specific recommendations for dealing with some potential problem areas.

Killer Kitchens
“No matter if your space is large or small, if there is a budget for a kitchen renovation, make sure that you plan for ample cabinet and counter space,” advises Darlene Parris of GetUpStaged.com, which offers interior redesign, organization services and home staging in the Los Angeles area. “Space is an in-demand feature that people are willing to pay for.”

Parris also warns that sellers avoid skimping on the finishes. “Choose the best cabinetry and countertop that you can get for your budget,” she says. “Granite is still quite popular, but Silestone (a quartz surface) is gaining popularity.”

If your kitchen remodeling budget is limited, Parris suggests replacing the countertops and flooring, refacing the cabinets and replacing the sink and hardware.

If you have little or no budget, Parris offers these tips:

•    Paint the walls.
•    Sand and paint the kitchen cabinets.
•    Change the pulls and hinges on all cabinets and drawers.
•    Remove everything from the countertops and the front, side and top of the refrigerator.
•    Organize your kitchen cabinets, drawers and pantry so that they aren’t bursting at the seams.

“And clean everything from the sink and appliances to the counters and floors,” Parris says. “In all scenarios, prospective buyers are wanting to see a kitchen that’s free from clutter, is clean and has enough space. So make sure that it sparkles.”

If you can afford to, add new appliances. “This will instantly give your kitchen a new look at the fraction of the cost of a full renovation,” Parris says. But a FSBO seller doesn’t always need to buy new appliances. If the appliances are all the same color and style — for example, all white or all chrome — then sellers can clean them up and include them in the sale. The appliances must, however, be in good condition and exceptionally clean. If they’re not cleanable or of mismatched colors and styles, Parris says new appliances may be in order. “Usually you can get the best price on installation if it is arranged with the same retailer you are purchasing from,” she adds.

No Parking, No Deal
Whether it’s attached or separate, make sure your parking space is free of clutter and absolutely clean — and that means getting rid of oil stains, too.

And if you don’t have a garage or carport, play up whatever dedicated parking space you do have. “If the property features a driveway, then the seller is in luck,” Parris says. “Most buyers will at least want a place to park their vehicle that’s not three blocks away.”

Sellers should ensure that the driveway presents well and repair any damage before the property is photographed for that all-important online listing. “Additionally, the seller might perhaps make an inquiry with their town as to whether a carport can be added,” Parris says. “This is valuable information for a prospective buyer, as the question will undoubtedly arise during showings.”

If a property only offers on-street parking, that still might not be a deal breaker, Parris says — especially if municipal permits guarantee residents have parking spaces.

No Room to Grow
If your home doesn’t already qualify as being an “open space” design, you probably won’t be able to knock down walls and do extensive remodeling. Still, knowing how buyers’ minds work can go a long way toward presenting your home at its best.

“There are many things that can stop prospective buyers in their tracks,” Parris warns. And a perceived lack of space is one of them. “Space is a premium feature that all buyers are looking for, so things like too much clutter can make a buyer feel claustrophobic,” she says. Buyers need to envision themselves in a space without the added mental gymnastics of figuring out how or where to put their things.

“Declutter every room, closet and cupboard, as prospective buyers will be looking into all of these spaces,” Parris says.

She also emphasizes that too much personalization will prevent buyers from seeing themselves in your home. “Remember, they are wanting — and needing — to see the home you are selling, so put away items like family portraits, religious artifacts and even your toothbrush. This helps to neutralize the space and allow buyers to see how they will live in the home.”

The key is to transition your perspective from “how I like it” to “how others need to see it,” Parris says.

If for sale by owner home sellers follow these strategies, they’re more likely to give buyers exactly what they want.

Tell us in the comments: What home improvement projects have you completed before showing your home?