Onslow County Area Real Estate News & Market Trends

You’ll find our blog to be a wealth of information, covering everything from local market statistics and home values to community happenings. That’s because we care about the community and want to help you find your place in it. Please reach out if you have any questions at all. We’d love to talk with you!

Sept. 11, 2019

10 BROWSER EXTENSIONS THAT CAN SAVE YOU MONEY EVERY TIME YOU SHOP ONLINE

VRG Online Shopping

When shopping online, it can be tough to know if you’re getting the best deal possible without checking other websites for price comparisons and promo codes—unless you use technology to your advantage. Here are 11 browser plugins that promise to save you money every time you fill up that digital shopping cart.

1. HONEY

Honey automatically searches the web for promo codes and coupons as you shop around. The extension works with over 30,000 retailers and compares prices across multiple websites and merchants, including Amazon. The plugin even lets you know when product prices will drop.

Available for: Google Chrome, Mozilla FireFox, Microsoft Edge, Apple’s Safari

2. AMAZON ASSISTANT

If you’re an avid Amazon shopper, then you should consider installing the Amazon Assistant browser add-on. It not only compares prices for products found on the website, but it also alerts you about Amazon deals and discounts via push notifications. You can also manage or share your wish lists, while staying up-to-date on your orders and deliveries.

Available for: Google Chrome, Mozilla FireFox, Safari

3. GUMDROP BY GOODSHOP

Goodshop is a coupon search engine that looks for the best deals that will save you the most money on your purchases. As a bonus, Gumdrop by Goodshop donates a portion of most of your transactions to the charity or school of your choice, from over 114,000 nonprofits and schools.

Available for: Google Chrome, Mozilla FireFox, Safari

4. INVISIBLE HAND

If you’re planning a big trip, Invisible Hand will help you find the lowest prices on flights, hotels, and rental cars across almost 600 airlines and nearly 700 retailers. The extension will also let you know about cheaper deals from other websites and services across the Internet.

Available for: Google Chrome, Mozilla FireFox, Safari

5. PRICEBLINK

Not only does PriceBlink scour the Internet to find you the best coupons, it also lets you compare prices across thousands of websites, read customer reviews, and create a wishlist for items you’d like to buy in the future. It even adds shipping costs and sales tax to your total purchases, so you can see how much you’re spending on the entire transaction before you buy, not just the product itself. The extension works for online retailers in the U.S. and the UK.

Available for: Google Chrome, Mozilla FireFox, Safari

6. THE CAMELIZER

Are you a frequent Amazon.com, NewEgg, or BestBuy.com shopper? The Camelizer price tracker can help you save money by providing the entire price history on any products and also alert you when the price drops. The add-on even works internationally, including in Canada, the United Kingdom, Spain, Germany, France, Italy, Japan, and China.

Available for: Google Chrome, Mozilla FireFox, Safari

7. EBATES

Want to receive cash back from more than 2500 online retailers? The “Cash Back Button” from Ebates lets users get cash back directly from the store’s website. It keeps track of all savings and how much you’ve earned, so you can decide when to cash out. It also searches for the best coupons and promo codes to use for all of your transactions.

Available for: Google Chrome

8. SWAGBUCKS

Swagbucks offers up a chance to earn rewards by doing things you would normally do online anyway, like watch videos, shop, and search for product information. You can then redeem your rewards for gift cards from a variety of vendors like Walmart, Amazon, or Paypal.

Available for: Google Chrome, Safari

9. COUPONCABIN SIDEKICK

When you’re about to check out, CouponCabin Sidekick goes to work looking for any available coupons to use for your purchases. It promises to work with over 18,000 online retailers and gives users the chance to earn up to 10 percent cash back. The plugin even offers $2 for free, just for adding it to your browser.

Available for: Google Chrome, Mozilla FireFox, Internet Explorer, Safari

10. FAKESPOT

With FakeSpot, you’ll never wonder if a product is too good to be true again. The extension detects bogus customer reviews and alerts you about which write-ups can be trusted and which are pure fiction.

Available for: Google Chrome, Mozilla FireFox, Safari

Posted in shopping
Aug. 20, 2019

5 Amazon Hacks Every Prime Member Should Know

 

Amazon Hacks

 

 

1. Automatically check other retailers and find coupon codes with Wikibuy or Honey

 

 

Wikibuy and Honey are a browser extensions that check other retailers for the exact product you’re shopping for on Amazon and notifies you instantly if it finds a better price. It also automatically finds and applies coupons and discounts on thousands of sites like Target, Nike & Macy’s.

 

2. Get free 2-hour delivery on alcohol with Prime Now

 

 

Did you know that you can order alcohol through Prime Now in some cities? Even better, it’s free to do AND it arrives in 2 hours. Plus, you can also order other grocery items while you’re at it, including products from Whole Foods.

 

3. Free photo Storage with Amazon Prime

 

 

Tired of seeing this notification? Use your Amazon Prime membership to get an unlimited amount of photo storage with access on any device. If you upload photos online, this feature will easily pay for half your Amazon Prime membership.

 

4. Turn your pre-paid gift cards into Amazon gift cards

 

 

Have a bunch of old prepaid debit cards laying around? Log into Amazon and navigate to the Gift Card page. Enter your prepaid card balance and contact information. Wait a couple hours for processing, and voila, you now have an Amazon gift card in your inbox.

 

5. Get 2% back when you reload an Amazon gift card

 

 

You can get 2% back on your gift card with every reload using your checking account. Anticipating a big purchase through Amazon? Do this first to save a few bucks.

 

Whether you hack Amazon prices with Wikibuy or store your photos with Amazon Prime, these tricks are sure to keep your Amazon addiction healthy.

Posted in Shopping
April 3, 2019

Your Tax Refund Is The Key To Homeownership!

Your Tax Refund Is The Key To Homeownership!

According to data released by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Americans can expect an estimated average refund of $3,143 this year when filing their taxes. This is down slightly from the average refund of $3,436 last year.

 

Tax refunds are often thought of as ‘extra money’ that can be used toward larger goals. For anyone looking to buy a home in 2019, this can be a great jump start toward a down payment!

 

The map below shows the average tax refund Americans received last year by state.

 

 

Many first-time buyers believe that a 20% down payment is required to qualify for a mortgage. Programs from the Federal Housing Authority, Freddie Mac, and Fannie Maeall allow for down payments as low as 3%Veterans Affairs Loansallow many veterans to purchase a home with 0% down.

 

If you started your down payment savings with your tax refund check this year, how close would you be to a 3% down payment?

 

The map below shows what percentage of a 3% down payment is covered by the average tax refund by taking into account the median price of homes sold by state.

 

 

The darker the blue, the closer your tax refund gets you to homeownership! For those in Oklahoma looking to purchase their first homes, their tax refund could potentially get them 85% closer to that dream!

 

Bottom Line

 

Saving for a down payment can seem like a daunting task. But the more you know about what’s required, the more prepared you can be to make the best decision for you and your family! This tax season, your refund could be your key to homeownership!

Posted in Buyers
Dec. 12, 2018

The 4 Basic Tips for Investing in Real Estate

 

 

If you are new to real estate investing, there is a lot to learn. Unlike investing in the stock market or mutual funds, the success of a real estate investment largely depends on you; what property you purchase and how you manage the property once you own it. Real estate is a large capital investment, so before you write that first offer, it’s helpful to learn as much as you can. These 4 basic tips will give you some direction as you learn about investment opportunities.

 

1. Location, Location, Location – One of the most important aspects of a successful real estate investment is the location. The right neighborhood, street or community can make thousands of dollars of difference.

 

2. Consider Wholesale Properties – Watch for properties listed below market value. Foreclosure lists, courthouse auctions and short sales are just a few of the options to buy below market value.

 

3. Understand the Tax Advantages – Before you invest, visit your tax professional and learn about write-offs, business taxes and tax breaks. Figure these numbers into your plans.

 

4. Manage Your Credit – Leverage is important in real estate investing. Determine your ability to gain loans and correct any mistakes in your credit report.

 

Bottom Line

Real estate investing has the potential for great profit. Do your homework before jumping into the market and you can position yourself to make the right decisions for your portfolio.

Posted in Investors
Dec. 12, 2018

The #1 Reason to Not Wait Until Spring to Sell Your House

 

 

Many sellers believe that spring is the best time to place their homes on the market because buyer demand traditionally increases at that time of year, but what they don’t realize is that if every homeowner believes the same thing, then that is when they will have the most competition!

 

The #1 Reason to List Your Home in the Winter Months is Less Competition!

 

Housing supply traditionally shrinks at this time of year, so the choices buyers have will be limited. The chart below was created using the months’ supply of listings from the National Association of Realtors.

 

 

 

As you can see, the ‘sweet spot’ to list your home for the most exposure naturally occurs in the late fall and winter months (November – February). 

 

Temperatures aren’t the only thing that heats up in the spring – so do listings!

 

 

 

In 2017, listings increased by nearly half a million houses from December to June. Don’t wait for these listings to come to market before you decide to list your house.

 

Added Bonus: Only Serious Buyers Are Out in the Winter

 

At this time of year, only those purchasers who are serious about buying a home will be in the marketplace. You and your family will not be bothered and inconvenienced by mere ‘lookers.’ The lookers are at the mall or online doing their holiday shopping.

 

Bottom Line

 

If you have been debating whether or not to sell your home and are curious about market conditions in your area, let’s get together to help you decide the best time to list your house for sale.

 

Posted in Sellers
Dec. 12, 2018

75% of Renters Have Been Misinformed

 

 

Recently, multiple headlines have been written asserting that homeownership is less affordable today than at any other time in the last decade. Though the headlines are accurate, they lack context and lead too many Americans to believe that they can’t partake in a major part of the American Dream – owning a home.

 

In 2008, the housing market crashed and home values fell by as much as 60% in certain markets. This was the major trigger to the Great Recession we experienced from 2008 to 2010. To come back from that recession, mortgage interest rates were pushed down to levels that were never seen before.

 

For the last ten years, you could purchase a home at a dramatically discounted price and attain a mortgage at a historically low mortgage rate.

 

Affordability skyrocketed.

 

Now that home values have returned to where they should be, and mortgage rates are beginning to increase, it is less affordable to own a home than it was over the last ten years.

 

However, what is not being reported is that it is MORE AFFORDABLE to own a home today than at any other time since 1985 (when data was first collected on this point).

 

If you take out the years after the crash, affordability today is greater than it has been at almost any time in American history.

 

This has not been adequately reported which has led to many Americans believing that they cannot currently afford a home.

 

As an example, the latest edition of Freddie Mac’s Research: Profile of Today’s Renter reveals that 75% of renters now believe it is more affordable to rent than to own their own homes. This percentage is the highest ever recorded. The challenge is that this belief is incorrect. Study after study has proven that in today’s market, it is less expensive to own a home than it is to rent a home in the United States.

 

Thankfully, some are starting to see this situation and accurately report on it. The National Association of Realtors, in their 2019 Housing Forecast, mentions this concern:

 

“While the U.S. is experiencing historically normal levels of affordability, potential buyers may be staying out of the market because of perceived problems with affordability.

 

Bottom Line

If you are one of the many renters who would like to own their own homes, let’s get together to find out if homeownership is affordable for you right now.

Posted in Buyers
Dec. 12, 2018

How to Simply Increase Your Family Wealth by Paying for Housing

 

 

Everyone should realize that unless you are living somewhere rent-free, you are paying a mortgage – either yours or your landlord’s. Buying your own home provides you with a form of ‘forced savings’ that allows you to use your monthly housing costs to increase your family’s wealth.

Every month that you pay your mortgage, you are paying off a portion of the debt that you took on to purchase your home. Therefore, you own a little bit more of your home every month in the form of home equity. As your home’s value increases you also gain home equity.

 

Every quarter, Pulsenomics surveys a nationwide panel of over 100 economists, real estate experts, and investment and market strategists and asks them to project how residential home prices will appreciate over the next five years for their Home Price Expectation Survey (HPES).

 

The latest data from their Q4 2018 Survey revealed that home prices are expected to round out the year 5.8% higher than they were in January. For the next 5 years, home values will appreciate by an average of nearly 3% a year.

 

This is still great news for homeowners! 

For example, let’s assume a young couple purchases and closes on a $250,000 home in January. Simply through their home appreciating in value, those homeowners can build their home equity by nearly $40,000 over the next five years.

 

 

Let’s look at the potential equity gained over the same period of time at some higher price points:

 

 

In many cases, home equity is a large portion of a family’s overall net worth.

 

Bottom Line

If your plan for 2019 includes entering the housing market to purchase a home, whether it’s your first or your fifth, let’s get together to make your plan a reality!

 

Posted in Buyers, Sellers
Dec. 11, 2018

Top 5 Rooms to Remodel in 2019

 

With the popularity of the home remodeling shows, home owners across the country are anxious to take out their tool box and remodel their home too. Most often, remodels are better suited to professionals however, and this can cost significantly more. Regardless of the method, remodeling projects are not inexpensive, so making the best impact for the cost is important. Here are the top 5 rooms to remodel in 2019. 

 

 

Kitchen– Always a great return on investment. From functionals paces to bona find living areas, add extra seating, lighting and entertaining spaces such as a bar or counter. 

 

 

Backyard Kitchen / Family Room– The back yard is an extension of the interior. Section off areas for an outdoor kitchen and family room. Add a fireplace or even a TV. 

 

 

Master Bedroom– Always a place to retreat and refresh. Master bedrooms are getting makeovers with calm soothing paint colors, large picture windows and balconies or patios. 

 

 

Guest Bathroom– While not often the first thought, a powder room is easy to remodel and gives a great impression. Make the space look larger with a monotone color scheme. 

 

 

Bonus Room / Media Room– Create a unique family space with a media room or bonus room. Extra space which will bring more than its share of cost when selling. 

Posted in Home Improvement
Dec. 11, 2018

Home Buying Advice – 5 Great Tips

 

Buying a home can be very exciting but it can also be confusing, especially to first time buyers. The truth is that buying a home can be a simple and stress free transaction, if home buyers follow a few simple tips. Here are 5 basic tips to help home buyers navigate the process: 

1. One Step at a Time – Home buying is not a one-time moment but a series of steps. Make decisions as they come, as you move through the process make sure each discovery is one you can live with. 

2. Start with a Lender – Understanding your financial decision is your first step towards homeownership. Talk to a lender first so you know your parameters and limitations ahead of time. 

3. Do Your Due Diligence – Never assume when buying a home. Have a professional home inspection and take the discoveries and disclosures seriously. 

4. Follow Your Gut Instinct – If you think something is off, then follow up and double check. 

5. Move Quickly When Necessary – When you find the right home, don’t wait too long. Remember tip #1, this is a series of steps. The first step is writing an offer, there are many opportunities along the way to change your mind so if you find the right home, write the offer. 

Posted in Buyers
Dec. 11, 2018

The Counter Offer – Negotiation Strategies for Sellers

 

 

Getting an offer on your home is very exciting. Then you open the offer and realize it’s not what you were expecting and you are wondering what to do next. Answering an offer which is not acceptable is a matter of strategy. Here are a few of the strategies used by successful listing agents to handle a low offer. 

 

Counter 

The most common way to respond to a low offer is to send the buyers a counter offer. You can counter at the list price and terms or come down and offer something in between list price and the offer. 

 

Highest and Best 

This strategy allows the buyer to revise their offer, should they choose. This is most often used in a multiple offer situation, but works just as well with a single buyer who needs to know their offer isn’t acceptable. 

 

Include Terms in Negotiation 

The price is not the only part of an offer which can be negotiated; the terms can also be changed. Sometimes a seller can get a higher price by offering longer escrow or adding furniture. 

 

Reject the Offer 

There is no reason to respond to an offer which isn’t even close to acceptable. A seller can reject the offer completely. 

 

Offers are exciting; consider the options available for counter offers and ensure you negotiate a good deal for your home. 

 

 

Posted in Buyers