FeaturedReal Estate News June 27, 2022

Review of NAR’s 2022 Home Buyers and Sellers Generational Trends Report

Here are 9 insights from NAR’s 2022 Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trend report that we wanted to share with you:

  • First-time buyers made up 34% of all home buyers, up from 31% last year
  • 60% percent of buyers were married, 19% were single females, 9% were single males, and 9% were unmarried couples
  • 31% percent of buyers had children under 18 living at home
  • 11% of buyers purchased a multigenerational home to care for & spend time with aging parents
  • Baby Boomers make up the largest share of sellers at 42%
  • 7% of buyers financed their home purchase
  • 45% of Younger Millennials (ages 23-31) reported having student loans with a median loan balance of $28,000
  • Gen Xers (ages 42-56) were the most racially diverse buyers in 2021  — 23% identified as Hispanic, Black, or Asian/Pacific Islander


FeaturedTips and Tricks to Homeownership June 27, 2022

July Home Maintenance Checklist

No matter what you hear there’s no such thing as a maintenance-free home. What there is? A home that’s totally manageable to maintain when you break it down month by month. As always, to help, here’s your July Home Maintenance Checklist. 

  1. Wipe down porch lights, replace blown-out bulbs, and use glass cleaner to freshen up your home’s exterior entryway. 
  2. Get rid of washer build-up with a cup of diluted bleach or white vinegar in the drum. For the dryer, remove and wash the lint screen—especially if you use dryer sheets.
  3. Wipe down and clean baseboards, doors, and light switches.
  4. Clean garbage disposal by sprinkling a half-cup of baking soda and one cup of white vinegar in the disposal. Allow it to sit for 10 minutes before flushing it down the drain.
  5. Drain your water heater to flush out any sediment that could be affecting your heater’s performance.
  6. Wash pet beds, pet toys, travel carriers, etc.
  7. Replace worn-out or dirty entry rugs.
  8. Inspect fencing and gates around your home and make repairs as needed.
  9. Plan your fall vegetable garden. My recommendations? Brussel sprouts, broccoli, and kale. 

Remember, home maintenance doesn’t have to be overwhelming! Just do a little bit each month, be proud of yourself, then move on to bigger and better things!

Tips and Tricks to Homeownership June 27, 2022

4 Tips for hosting the 4th of July at your home

Promised the whole gang a sparkling good time this 4th of July? Here are FOUR tips to ensure everyone at your house has a blast this holiday weekend:

  1. Don’t wait. Seriously. You’ve got to plan ahead if you want a smooth and easy day. Clean, prep food, gather supplies, and set up your seating areas (ideally in the shade!) up to a day or two before the party. 
  2. Shop early. Head first to places like Dollar Tree and Target. At Target, hit up the Dollar Spot—you’ll find some patriotic treasures but again, shop early for the best selection. The kid-friendly trifecta? Water guns, glow sticks, and popsicles. 
  3. Pay tribute on the porch. Welcome friends and family with American flags, bunting, and red, white, and blue pillows, wreaths, or doormats. Water guns for the adults won’t hurt either. 
  4. Bring the festivities inside. Even if you’re hoping to keep guests outdoors, give a nod to the day indoors with a few decorations. Think bathroom, kitchen, and living room. A classic country playlist will only add to the mood, too. 

Happy 4th of July, friends! Remember, at the end of the day, no matter how the festivities go, today is a day to honor our veterans and celebrate our freedom—and that’s something we all can do without any planning ahead at all.

FeaturedTips and Tricks to Homeownership May 31, 2022

June Home Maintenance List

It’s June 1st! You know what that means?
It’s Leah’s favorite time of the month! And with the start of the new month comes a brand new home maintenance list for you!

Prep the grill for summer barbecuing.

Clean the dryer vent and exhaust duct.

Wash, fold, and organize pool and beach towels.

Clean out gutters and downspouts.

Power wash driveway and sidewalks.

Clean and repair outdoor play equipment.

Organize and store school supplies and papers.

Replace air filters.

Dust ceiling fan blades and set to spin counterclockwise.

Check the A/C & schedule maintenance.

FeaturedReal Estate News May 31, 2022

Will the Market Crash?

If you’ve been paying attention to the to the housing market, I’m sure you’ve heard people’s fears of being “in a bubble” again or fearing the market will crash. Here is how we are calming our client’s nerves.

Housing experts predict the market will remain strong for several reasons:

  • Ample Home Buyers: With most first-time buyers under 40 and the U.S. population nearing 170 million, there’s no shortage of buyers
  • Low Inventory: Too many buyers. Too few homes. Experts say it will take at least several years to inject enough supply to balance out the market.
  • Healthier Mortgages: Unlike the 2008 housing crash, tougher lending standards and modern mortgage regulations mean today’s homeowners are less likely to default than those who were approved in the pre-crisis lending period.

Wondering what the housing market will do this summer?

Here’s what experts are predicting:

  • Inventory: Inventory is likely to peak in late summer or early fall. About 64% of prospective home sellers plan to list their properties by the end of August.
  • Interest Rates: All signs point to interest rates growing further in 2022, with the Fed planning hikes after each of its remaining 2022 meetings.

Our Advice?
Don’t give up now, get paperwork ready, and stay positive.
Your home is out there, just waiting for you to discover it!

BuyingReal Estate Tips May 31, 2022

The Final Walk-though

The final walk-through on your new home is an exciting event.

It means you have successfully maneuvered through negotiations, inspections, and financing approval, and are on the verge of signing your closing papers. (pffew!)

Most buyers attend the final walk-through with thoughts of furniture placement and paint colors in their heads. But the walk-through is about more than just making sure your favorite chair will fit by the fireplace. Be sure to do your due diligence to make sure there are no issues that should be resolved before you reach the closing table.  

The purpose of the final walk-through is to ascertain that the home is being conveyed to you in the same condition it was when you agreed to purchase it.

Here are a few of the things you should check:  

1) Make sure no damage has occurred to the home that the sellers are responsible for repairing. Weather conditions or careless movers can cause accidental damage, and old and forgotten damage may be uncovered when the sellers’ belongings are removed.  

2) Check that appliances are still in working order and no new plumbing or electrical issues have popped up. While you aren’t doing a complete home inspection, you can visually check for obvious problems that should be repaired before you move in.  

3) Confirm that items contractually conveying are present. If the sellers agreed to leave particular furniture, décor, or equipment, see that it has not been removed.  

4) Make certain the sellers have removed all their belongings. You don’t want to arrive with the moving truck only to find out that the sellers left behind an assortment of unwanted furniture or trash. The sellers should be held responsible for removing everything that doesn’t convey with the sale.

A great agent will have a well throughout checklist for you to make sure you don’t miss a thing. Now you’re ready to head to the closing table with peace of mind. Who doesn’t love that?

Leah Smith Signature
BuyingReal Estate NewsReal Estate Tips May 17, 2022

Leasing a Home with the Option to Buy

Of all the many ways of selling and buying real estate, leasing with an option to buy is one of the most creative home finance alternatives if you have bad or no credit. Tenants who want to buy but are not currently in a position to buy use it to lock in a price against future appreciation. It is also a tool used by owners and property managers to attract good tenants. And it is used by owners with property that, for whatever reason, is not renting or selling at the price they want.

Leasing with an option to buy is exactly what it sounds like – a renting tenant signs an agreement with a landlord stating that the tenant can buy the property at the end of a prearranged time period. The owner is obligated to sell at the option price, but the tenant is not obligated to buy. But when a lease-purchase exercised, the buyer is obligated to purchase at the end of the rental period.

A common misconception is that once a landlord signs this type of agreement, he has to sell the property to the tenant, or that the tenant has an absolute right to the property. Not so – the tenant can buy the property only if the landlord exercises the option to sell.

white and black laptop computer on brown wooden stool near pile books

There are pros and cons on both sides – property owners are in a more secure position with a lease with option to buy contract than if they held a mortgage, because they still own the property. Sellers also receive rental income and get income tax deductions. For buyers, the biggest draw is the fact that they get more time to qualify for mortgage financing.

Before entering into such an agreement, a written document must be drawn up which spells out the terms of the contract before tenants move in. Because the tenant and the seller are entering into two separate legal situations – a rental agreement and a contract to purchase – it’s a good idea to get an attorney involved to be sure all bases are covered. But the purchase agreement should state the price and clearly define the terms. It’s not a bad idea to add a condition section that includes a monthly option fee and the portion of rent that will be applied toward the purchase, if the option is exercised.

The option should be recorded with the county clerk to put others on notice of the tenant’s rights, thus preventing the seller from selling to another buyer. However, a seller that has financial problems during the lease term may not be able to give the tenant good title when the option is exercised.

The lease agreement should have a clause that terminates the option to buy if the tenant in any way violates the lease or gets evicted before closing the agreement to purchase. Some issues that should be addressed in your contract should include the following:

Down payment: Within your lease agreement, there should be a security deposit required. Since many states do not allow these deposits to surpass one month’s rent, there may be an earnest money deposit requested to be kept in escrow until such time as the option is exercised.

Purchase price: Usually, this is set out in the original lease-option agreement – in other words, the purchase price is set according to today’s market, not in the future when the option may be exercised. This is the good news/bad news, depending on whether real estate prices increase or decline during the lease. Another option is the “right of first refusal,” which means that the tenants will have the option to purchase the property at a price determined by the landlord at the time of sale as opposed to the time of the agreement. The tenant may also have the right to purchase the property at the price offered to the landlord by another prospective buyer.

Legal title: An option to buy doesn’t give the tenant legal title to the real estate. The tenant becomes a purchaser only upon exercise of the option, at which time the landlord-tenant relationship ceases and the option becomes an absolute and binding contract of sale.

Rent credit: This is a unique lease-option feature. The tenant usually pays above-market rent for the property, but a portion is credited toward the purchase price if the buyer decides to exercise the purchase option. For example, on a house that rents for $1,500 per month with a 33 percent rent credit, $500 per month goes toward the down payment when the option is exercised. If the tenant decides not to buy, they don’t get the rent credit money back. This is one of the biggest incentives for a tenant to buy.

Due-on-sale clause: A due-on-sale clause can prevent the buyer from assuming the current mortgage by permitting the bank to call the mortgage due when the property is sold. The terms of the seller’s mortgage and the lease agreement determine whether the due-on-sale clause will be triggered by the lease with an option to buy. However, the lease with an option to buy may be a way of avoiding the due-on-sale clause, at least until the tenant exercises the option to purchase.

Leah Smith Signature
FeaturedReal Estate News May 12, 2022

Smith and Smith Realty Group

It’s with incredible excitement that I announce

Smith and Smith Realty Group!

My husband Ben and I have created our team with Coldwell Banker Realty Moorestown and we are so excited to move forward in our real estate career, together.

We look forward to working with you!

Let’s meet Ben

Ben has joined his wife Leah at Coldwell Banker Realty to create Smith and Smith Realty Group. Before real estate, Ben was a Director of Rehab in sub acute facilities. Leading a team of rehab therapists through the pandemic, Ben knows his way around difficult situations, negotiations, and stress. A perfect mix for a career in real estate 😉⁠

Ben lives in Merchantville with his family. He loves to play hockey and is a devout tortured Philadelphia sports fan. He shares his wife’s addiction to coffee and good food. ⁠

Reach out to Ben to start discussing your next steps in selling your home!⁠

(609) 634-5205⁠

BuyingReal Estate Tips May 10, 2022

Pre-Approval vs Pre-qualification… what’s the difference?

I’m so glad you asked – because it’s crucial.

Pre-Qualification vs. Pre-Approval

Meet Luke.
Luke immediately fell in love with the two-story with a brick patio and big backyard for BBQs. He quickly made an offer and began looking for lenders. Unfortunately, he soon discovered that he couldn’t qualify for the home. He tried to find something else in their price range, but other houses paled in comparison. If only they had shopped for loans before looking at houses…

An expert Realtor would have made sure Luke was pre-approved way before he saw the home!

One surefire way to reduce stress during the process of home buying is to seek pre-approval, actually applying for a loan before finding a house.

The loan agent asks for a few bits of information:

-A loan application
-Credit Report
-Income and asset information with supporting documentation.

These documents are then submitted to prospective lenders who underwrite the file, issuing credit approval or denial.

Buyers who are pre-approved are taken more seriously than their pre-qualified counterparts. Pre-qualification is not a loan commitment from a lending institution; it is only a loan agent’s opinion that you will be able to obtain financing. Verifications are not usually made, so formal approval is not issued. These days, virtually anyone can achieve pre-qual status.

Pre-approval, on the other hand, signifies that the lender has taken the application through a rigorous procedure. So buyers with pre-approval status can basically write their own ticket.

Check out these benefits of a pre-approval:

1. If you make an offer on a home and then apply for a loan, you are at the lender’s mercy. He sets the interest rate and points, aware that you do not have time to shop around.

2. Understanding the breadth of your financial reach will save the time spent looking at houses you can’t afford.

3. Shopping for a loan allows you to settle on a house payment that fits your lifestyle. If you rely on your lender to tell you what you can afford, you may end up with a high mortgage payment. Most people can qualify for more than they would feel comfortable paying.

4. Having a pre-approval letter from a lender gives you an edge in a situation where multiple offers have been made on a house.

5. Pre-approved buyers can generally close escrow more quickly. Once you submit your credit package, most of the legwork has already been done.

Remember, neither pre-approval nor pre-qualification are absolute loan commitments. Lenders must still assess property appraisals, verify information, and, in many cases, verify credit before funding the loan.

If you ever have any questions about pre-approvals, contact me! I’d be more than happy to walk you through it and get you in touch with one of my recommended Loan Officers.

Leah Smith Signature
Local Happenings May 5, 2022

Merchantville Art Walk 2022

May 6th starting at 6pm join our community in supporting the 2022 Merchantville Art Walk!

Walk around and enjoy the beautiful night in our great city as you see both artists and local vendors who have teamed up to show their work for one night this May.

From Merchantville’s Event Page/ See below for which local businesses and artist participating together

Aradia’s Treasure Metaphysical Shop / Catie Doherty
Brotherly Love Creations, Maria/Velazquez
Essence Fitness Studio/ Danette Strader
Eclipse Brewing – LIVE MUSIC: Tom Guggino & Friends
Eilandarts Center / Emergent Nature: featuring Ellen Rosenholtz, Jeremy Guay, Fiona Bearclaw and Alyse C. Bernstein​ 
Flowers Your Wa / Barbara McDonnell
Garden State Properties Group / Sharon Ann Smith
Gaskill-Brown Funeral Home/ Beth Fisher
House of Rowan / Jennifer Braverman
Merchantville Antiques / Laura Storck
Merchantville Borough Hall/ Kerry Mentzer
Movement 4 Wellness / Ted Warchal
Nicole Nurthen Photography/ Anthony Johnson
PEAK Secondhand / Merle Dillon
The Hunter Gallery/ Todd Johnson
The Station / Emergent Nature: featuring Ellen Rosenholtz, Jeremy Guay, Fiona Bearclaw and Alyse C. Bernstein​ 
Thera Sport Physical Therapy / Joan Wheeler
Twisted Middle Sister Thrift/ Jules Vuotto

I’m excited to spend another gorgeous evening in Merchantville supporting our local businesses!

Hosted by: Eilandarts Center
Downtown Merchantville
May 6th from 6pm-9pm

Leah Smith Signature