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Anticipating what your clients will want and need to know is a big part of being a successful real estate professional. After all, they look to you for expert guidance and accurate answers, so it’s important to be prepared. Here are some of the questions that you may hear from clients this year:

Is now a good time to buy a house?
In terms of borrowing power, the answer is probably yes. According to a Jan. 16 report on FreddieMac.com, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.65 percent at the start of the year.

“By all accounts, mortgage rates remain low and, along with a strong job market, are fueling the consumer-driven economy by boosting purchasing power, which will certainly support housing market activity in the coming months,” the report also stated. “While the outlook for the housing market is positive, worsening homeowner and rental affordability due to the lack of housing supply continue to be hurdles, and they are spreading to many interior markets that have traditionally been affordable.”

A group of economists gathered at the end of 2019 for the first National Association of REALTORS® Real Estate Forecast Summit also said that they expected mortgage rates to remain relatively low, predicting average annual 30-year fixed mortgage rates of 3.8 percent and 4.0 percent for 2020 and 2021.

Is it a buyers’ market or a sellers’ market?
While this answer can vary regionally, it’s a question that will likely be asked across the country. According to REALTOR® Magazine, “existing-home sales ended 2019 with an increase in December, as a selling market remained strong and housing shortages continued at the start of 2020.” The article goes on to say that while home sellers are positioned well, low inventory remains a problem for buyers, with first-time buyers affected most.

Of course, the situation could be different in your area, or even in particular neighborhoods where inventory is higher. Giving your clients an accurate analysis of market conditions on the front end can help them form a clear picture of what to expect during the real estate transaction process. With your help, they’ll have clear expectations when it comes to pricing, negotiating and timelines, which can help them be more satisfied with the transaction and with your service.

Can you show me homes with open floor plans and outdoor living spaces?
These two trends show no sign of losing popularity among prospective homebuyers in 2020. Home designs in which the kitchens open into living and dining areas are often desirable because they enable more interaction and often allow more light to flow through a home. Open floor plans can also help moderately-sized homes seem larger. Outdoor areas, such as decks, patios and porches, can extend the living spaces of a home and offer spots for relaxing, gathering and casual entertaining.

Are there any listings with alternative forms of power?
Interest in alternative forms of power, clean energy and net-zero energy homes is rising among some homebuyers. Homes with solar power, wind power, geothermal power and other energy sources are attractive to an increasing number of buyers who are interested in saving money on energy costs and in conserving resources. In fact, according to Energy.gov, solar energy systems increase a home’s value and there is evidence that they may sell more quickly.

For more articles like this, visit ahs.com/home-matters.

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