The Tactic That Can Double Your Real Estate Content Marketing Return

February 27, 2015 at 11:44 am
February 27, 2015 |

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It would be hard to miss the constant changes in content marketing since the term was first popularized about 10 years ago. In 2005, blogs were becoming mainstream. Facebook was open only to college students. Twitter was nonexistent.

Most real estate professionals think of content marketing as creating and publishing an occasional short article, a quick post on Facebook or a scheduled tweet.


This is technically content marketing, but do you think it is effective?

The revolution happened so fast, it was easy for busy professionals to fall further behind each year. The Content Marketing Institute, one of the leading voices in this industry, recently changed how it defines “content marketing” based on the current best practices of the most effective organizations.

In addition, its recent “2015 Benchmark, Budgets Study” revealed one tactic that nearly doubled your chance at being effective.

Let’s take a look at the three key changes to the definition, and then we will return to that one tactic:

1. Content marketing requires a strategic and consistent marketing approach.

If you decide to make content marketing part of your overall strategy, it should be a formal business discipline. This includes a carefully designed plan to serve a particular purpose and to meet specific goals.

How you repurpose content should be part of that strategy. Repurposing is one of the most efficient uses of your time; however, it is more than just cross-posting on different platforms. The message and delivery need to match the audience and platform. If you ignore the context of the chosen platform, your marketing efforts will be in vain.

For example, to maximize the number of people who view your content on Facebook, that content must be interactive. If people do not like or share your content, then the number of users who see it will be limited. This is very different than other platform feeds (like Twitter), where you are shown all the content produced by every person you follow in chronological order on your feed.

Another important discovery was the exponential growth of content published. Nearly three-quarters of recent respondents indicated that they were creating more content this year than in the past year. I do not expect this to change for some time.

Without a strategy, it is easy to get sidetracked. When this happens, your content production and quality suffer.

Having a plan in place improves consistency. Most of us create content when we find the time to do it or when it is convenient. During the busy season, our flow of content runs dry and our audience moves on. It is amazing how quickly people forget about you when you do not stay in contact.

Why would you spend the time and effort to gain an audience only to lose them in prime time?

2. Content marketing requires relevance.

Content is relevant when it is closely connected to your audience. When considering relevancy, I often ask myself this question: Will this content help my audience solve problems and achieve their objectives?

Most people do not go to social media to learn about real estate. They go to connect with others and for amusement. Therefore, entertaining content is just as important as educational content. Finding a way to link these concepts together is golden.

But how do you make relevant content for the people who you do not know? Like those prospects who signed up at your website, or those friends of your current audience?

Not knowing what problems they have or what they value makes this a tough job. To be effective, it is best to define your audience clearly and develop content specifically for them.

3. Content marketing requires a clearly defined audience.

Online lead generation is a lot like creating an audience. You have two choices. First, you can create content that is designed to attract the masses. You will soon discover by attempting to attract everyone that your message will resonate with almost no one. Sure, some folks will appreciate your efforts and may do business with you, but the overall results will be less than you desired.

Your second choice is to define your ideal customer precisely and attract those who are similar to your ideal customer.

You may have heard the expression “cloning your customers.” This is a way to do that without all the risky medical experimentation.

In order to clearly define your customer, you need to have a full understanding of them. You need to know the “who, what, when, where, why and how” of your ideal customer. You need to understand their pain and motivation. This takes some time and serious market research.

The good news for Realtors is that the National Association of Realtors has provided us a great start with the annual “buyer and seller profiles” report. This is generalized market research, so you need to take it a step further. You should take the time to ask questions like the following to yourself, your team and some of your best clients:

  • Describe the specific buyers that you are targeting.
  • What pain do they experience in the sales process?
  • When do they experience the pain of not buying a home?
  • Where else do they experience pain before they decide to buy?
  • Why can they not buy property by themselves?
  • How have they tried to buy without your help and failed?
  • What would their life look like if they were able to buy with your help?

Do not be satisfied with the first answer that you get for each question. Drill down and continue to ask until you find the crux. Once your research is complete, you will have a clear picture of your ideal client, or a customer persona. You will better understand what they value and appreciate. Then you can design content based on what your ideal customer values, content that solves problems and provides solutions. When your content aligns with your defined audience, you will attract people who are most like your ideal customer because they feel a connection with you and your values.

Everywhere you attempt to connect with your defined audience, your content must speak to this persona. This consistency among platforms improves your connection to the audience. They will feel like you actually know and understand them, as though you are having a conversation with them.

It is also important to define the audience for each market you serve. Your ideal buyer is not the same as your ideal seller. This is also true for each niche you serve, such as luxury, investors and first-time homeowners.

The flip side to your customer persona is the selling avatar, or how you want to be viewed by your audience. A selling avatar helps you to consistently position yourself (or your team) in the best light possible to your clients. To develop a selling avatar, ask yourself (and your team) questions like the following:

  • What makes you a uniquely qualified agent?
  • What systems do you have in place to help buyers?
  • When will their pain be resolved if they work with you to buy a home?
  • Where else can you help them in the homebuying process?
  • Why are your systems the best for buying homes?
  • How does your homebuying system work?
  • What will life be like if they do not use you and your systems?

Your opportunity for success is unlimited when your content resonates with your audience, when they see you as a trusted adviser and when they understand why you and your systems are the solution to their problem.

What was the one tactic?

The Content Marketing Institute found one tactic that drastically increased the effectiveness of content marketing. This tactic is so simple and obvious that most people just ignore it:

When you have a documented content marketing strategy, you are almost twice as likely to effective.

It is simply not enough to discuss your strategy with your teammates or keep it in your head. In order to be effective, it must be written.

Why does this work?

Your buy-in to the strategy is entrenched when your plans are put on paper. Educated clients make the best decisions.

Go back and look at the new areas of content marketing, writing down the answers to the questions we’ve uncovered. This will be the framework of your content marketing strategy.

Use the power of content marketing effectively. To attract customers, educate your clients, solve their problems and grow your business.

Comey & Shepherd Realtors | Cincinnati Real Estate Blog | Cincinnati Real Estate | Comey Blog

Rent Will Continue to Remain High in Upcoming Years

February 25, 2015 at 4:33 pm
February 25, 2015 |

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Walnut Creek apartments

Like a lot of people, Mark Stevenson has had it with rent prices.

His Walnut Creek, CA apartment complex raised the rent last year, and he recently learned that his 1-bedroom unit is headed up another $351, to $1,830 a month.

“Here’s my dilemma: Renew a 12-month rental lease complete with a 24 percent mugging, or buy a condo,” Stevenson said. “I’m looking to buy now.”

That could be a good financial bet, given the findings from Zillow’s latest Home Price Expectations Survey. A panel of more than 100 experts predicted:

  • U.S. home values will rise 4.4 percent in 2015, to a median value of $187,040.
  • Median U.S. home values will exceed their pre-recession peak of $196,400 by May 2017.
  • 51 percent expect rental affordability will not improve for at least two years.

Already, renting is half as affordable as buying, something Danville, CA broker Kevin Keiffer of Keller Williams Realty hears about all the time.

“‘My landlord is getting ready to hike the rent by $200, and I’ve got to buy:’ Since 2001, I haven’t heard that more consistently than I am now,” Kieffer said.

The issue is basic economics: Demand is outstripping supply.

“Vacancy rates on rental units in the fourth quarter were down to 7 percent, the lowest in more than 20 years,” said David W. Berson, chief economist for Nationwide Insurance.

The squeeze could continue for years, said Berson, who participated in the survey.

Rents will rise as millennials strike out on their own — but not all of them will rent. “If a larger share start to move toward [buying], the rent increase will not be quite as rapid,” he said.

The situation is worse in some places than in others.

In Dallas, for example, a renter making the median household income spends 27.7 percent of it on rent. In Chicago, it’s 31.5 percent; in New York, 40.5 percent and in Los Angeles, 47.9 percent.

More than half of the survey panelists who had an opinion said the market will correct the nation’s soaring rents, requiring no government intervention.

“Uncle Sam can certainly do a lot, but I worry we’ve become too accustomed to automatically seeking federal assistance for housing issues big and small, instead of trusting markets to correct themselves and without waiting to see the impact of decisions made at a local level,” said Zillow Chief Economist Stan Humpfries.

What does that mean for the average renter deciding whether to buy?

Homeownership certainly isn’t for everyone. Renters should consider how much they have in savings, how long they expect to live there and other factors — but they shouldn’t expect a break on rents.

2 Graphs That Show Why You Should List Your Home Today

February 23, 2015 at 5:27 pm
February 23, 2015 |

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Two Graphs that Scream - List Your Home Today | Keeping Current Matters

We all learned in school that when selling anything, you will get the most money if the demand for that item is high and the inventory of that item is low. It is the well-known Theory of Supply & Demand.

If you are thinking of selling your home, here are two graphs that strongly suggest that the time is now. Here is why…


According to research at the National Association of Realtors (NAR), buyer activity last month (January) was three times greater than it was last January. Purchasers who are ready, willing and able to buy are in the market at great numbers.

Buyer Demand | Keeping Current Matters


The most recent Existing Home Sales Report from NAR revealed that the months’ supply of housing inventory had fallen to 4.4 months which is the lowest it has been in over a year.

Months Inventory of Homes for Sale | Keeping Current Matters

Bottom Line

Listing your house for sale when demand is high and supply is low will guarantee the offers made will truly reflect the true value of your property.

Shave Years Off of Your Mortgage in 4 Simple Steps

February 20, 2015 at 12:44 pm
February 20, 2015 |

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Source:  jayneandd  via  Flickr Creative Commons

Photocredit: Jayneandd

No one wants to spend longer making mortgage payments than they have to. The obvious way to pay off a mortgage faster is to get a shorter-term loan, like a 15-year instead of a 30-year. But on a $300,000 home purchase with 10 percent down, you’ll pay about $620 more per month on a 15-year loan than on a 30-year loan (including mortgage insurance), which might be too expensive for you.

So how do you fix your budget with a loan you can afford, yet still pay it off early if you have extra money? Here’s a look at four common approaches.

Refinance, then reinvest savings

It’s always prudent to evaluate refinancing when rates drop, but unless you refinance from a 30-year loan to a 15-year loan, refinancing doesn’t automatically shave years off your mortgage.

If you bought a home for $300,000 with 10 percent down five years ago, the rate on your 30-year fixed loan of $270,000 was about 4.875 percent, giving you a payment of $1,429 (plus mortgage insurance). With today’s refinance rates of about 3.625 percent on your remaining $247,494 balance, your new payment would be $1,129, saving you $300 per month.

It’s a huge savings, but you’re resetting your payoff clock from 25 years back to 30 years. However, if you take the extra step of applying the $300 savings toward your new loan each month, you’ll shave 9.5 years off your new mortgage, giving you a shorter term for the same budget.

You can run your own refinance information to find the best balance between monthly budget and the fastest loan payoff.

Make biweekly payments

A biweekly payment plan is the simplest way to shorten your mortgage without a material budget increase. This plan shaves about four years off your mortgage by paying half your payment every other week.

Doing so means you’re making 26 biweekly payments per year, which is the equivalent of 13 monthly mortgage payments per year instead of 12. Your budget can usually absorb this because you’re simply chopping your mortgage payment in half and paying each half every other week.

On a $300,000 home purchase with 10 percent down, a 30-year fixed rate of 3.625 percent gives you a payment of $1,231 (plus $88 in mortgage insurance). By paying half ($616) every two weeks, you’re paying your loan down by an extra $103 per month, ultimately saving $26,511 in interest and paying off your loan in about 26 years.

Your lender can brief you on how to set up a biweekly payment plan.

Increase your monthly payment amount

The biweekly example above shortens your 30-year loan term four years by paying about $100 extra per month, but what if you could afford more?

If you paid $200 extra per month on your 30-year fixed loan at 3.625 percent on a home purchase of $300,000 with 10 percent down, you’d save $42,969 in interest and pay off your loan six years and eight months years early.

If you paid $300 extra per month, you’d save $57,122 in interest and pay off your loan eight years and 11 months early.

And if you paid $400 extra per month, you’d save $68,426 in interest and pay off your loan 10 years and 10 months early.

Once you go higher than this, it’s worth looking at whether your budget can accommodate a 15-year loan, because rates on 15-year loans are about 0.5 percent lower than 30-year fixed loans, which means $113 less interest per month versus the 30-year loan.

That’s a clear interest cost savings, but your budget is higher: you pay $1,881 per month (plus $59 for mortgage insurance) for a 15-year loan versus $1,231 per month for a 30-year loan (plus $88 for mortgage insurance).

Make one-time loan payments when you get extra cash

If you can’t commit to the 15-year loan budget but know you may have cash infusions along the way — like bonuses from work, inheritances, or selling other properties or investments — you can shave years off your 30-year mortgage by doing a large loan pay-down.

Here are two scenarios using a $300,000 purchase price with 10 percent down:

  • If you got a bonus at work and paid down your loan by $10,000 in year three, you’d save $15,747 in interest and pay off your loan one year and eight months early.
  • If you got a signing bonus for a new job and paid down your loan by $25,000 in year five, you’d save $32,556 in interest and pay off your loan three years and 10 months early.

Normally, when you pay extra on your loan, it shaves years off your mortgage, but your payment stays the same. However, for large one-time pay-downs like this, some lenders may lower your payment, too. When you’re shopping for mortgage lenders, ask them in advance if they’re willing to do this.

Comey & Shepherd Realtors | Cincinnati Real Estate Blog | Cincinnati Real Estate | Comey Blog

Which Household Amenities Prove to be the Best Investments

February 18, 2015 at 4:51 pm
February 18, 2015 |

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When it comes to luxurious living, location is the crown jewel of home ownership. But which high-end amenities offer a return on investment — and should therefore be considered — and which don’t?

Strong curb appeal

Everyone wants a nicely manicured lawn and attractive landscape, but going overboard with extras such as complex water features, animal-shaped hedges or a jungle-themed entryway is not universally appealing, and could be detrimental to your home’s value.


Zillow Digs

Master bedroom with a walk-in closet

Most people spend a lot of time in their bedrooms, so these spaces need to be extra special. A serene retreat — complete with large, fully functioning boutique-style walk-in closets — represents the ideal for many homeowners.

Zillow Digs

Zillow Digs

Spa-like bathroom

Spacious bathrooms that offer serenity and solitude — with soaking tubs, steam showers and heated floors — are highly desirable. But installing a hot tub that comfortably seats six is going overboard.

Zillow Digs

High-end audio-video systems

Deluxe home theater and stereo equipment doesn’t have lasting value, because this technology becomes outdated so quickly. Unless you’re installing a home theater for your own long-term enjoyment, think in simplistic terms. Typically, if the residence is wired for custom audio-video, then you’re all set.

In-ground swimming pool

While an in-ground swimming pool is expected in some parts of the country, like Arizona and Florida, a pool in more seasonal climates often doesn’t add much value to your home and could even decrease its value.

Why? Pools are a high-maintenance, costly feature that many consider dangerous, especially families with young children. And adding water slides, waterfalls, virtual amusement parks and other backyard elaborations is a financial no-no.

 Zillow Digs

Zillow Digs

Comey & Shepherd Realtors | Cincinnati Real Estate Blog | Cincinnati Real Estate | Comey Blog

5 Reasons to Love Your Real Estate Agent’s Services

February 13, 2015 at 12:29 pm
February 13, 2015 |

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Comey & Shepherd Realtors | Cincinnati Real Estate Blog | Cincinnati Real Estate | Comey Blog

Home Cost Vs. Home Price, Do You Know The Difference?

February 9, 2015 at 5:26 pm
February 9, 2015 |

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As a seller, you will be most concerned about ‘short term price’ – where home values are headed over the next six months. As either a first time or repeat buyer, you must not be concerned only about price but also about the ‘long term cost’ of the home.

Let us explain.

There are many factors that influence the ‘cost’ of a home. Two of the major ones are the home’s appreciation over time, and the interest rate at which a buyer can borrow the funds necessary to purchase their home. The rate at which these two factors can change is often referred to as “The Cost of Waiting”.

What will happen in 2015?

A nationwide panel of over one hundred economists, real estate experts and investment & market strategists project that home values will appreciate by almost 4% by the end of 2015.

Additionally, Freddie Mac’s most recent Economic Commentary and Predictions table predicts that the 30-year fixed mortgage rate will appreciate to 4.5% by the end of 2015.

What Does This Mean to a Buyer?

Here is a simple demonstration of what impact these projected changes would have on the mortgage payment of a home selling for approximately $250,000 today:

Cost of Waiting | Keeping Current Matters

Comey & Shepherd Realtors | Cincinnati Real Estate Blog | Cincinnati Real Estate | Comey Blog

Why You Should Sell Before Spring

February 2, 2015 at 4:05 pm
February 2, 2015 |

No Matter What The Groundhog Says... You Should Sell Before Spring! | Keeping Current Matters

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Is spring closer than we think? Depending on which Groundhog you witnessed today, you may have less time than you think to get your home on the market before the busy spring season.

Many sellers feel that the spring is the best time to place their home on the market as buyer demand traditionally increases at that time of year. However, the next six weeks before spring hits also have their own advantages.

Here are five reasons to sell now.

1. Demand is Strong

Foot traffic refers to the number of people out actually physically looking at homes right now. The latest foot traffic numbers show that there are currently more prospective purchasers looking at homes than at any other time in the last 12 months, which includes last spring’s buyers’ market. These buyers are ready, willing and able to purchase… and are in the market right now!

Take advantage of the buyer activity currently in the market.

2. There Is Less Competition Now

Housing supply just dropped to 4.4 months, which is under the 6 months’ supply that is needed for a normal housing market. This means, in many areas, there are not enough homes for sale to satisfy the number of buyers in that market. This is good news for home prices. However, additional inventory is about to come to market.

There is a pent-up desire for many homeowners to move, as they were unable to sell over the last few years because of a negative equity situation. Homeowners are now seeing a return to positive equity as real estate values have increased over the last two years. Many of these homes will be coming to the market in the near future.

Also, new construction of single-family homes is again beginning to increase. A recent study by Harris Poll revealed that 41% of buyers would prefer to buy a new home while only 21% prefer an existing home (38% had no preference).

The choices buyers have will increase in the spring. Don’t wait until all this other inventory of homes comes to market before you sell.

3. The Process Will Be Quicker

One of the biggest challenges of the housing market has been the length of time it takes from contract to closing. Banks are requiring more and more paperwork before approving a mortgage. There is less overall business done in the winter. Therefore, the process will be less onerous than it will be in the spring. Getting your house sold and closed before the spring delays begin will lend itself to a smoother transaction.

4. There Will Never Be a Better Time to Move-Up

If you are moving up to a larger, more expensive home, consider doing it now. Prices are projected to appreciate by over 23.5% from now to 2019. If you are moving to a higher priced home, it will wind-up costing you more in raw dollars (both in down payment and mortgage payment) if you wait. You can also lock-in your 30-year housing expense with an interest rate below 4% right now. Rates are projected to be a full point higher by the end of 2015.

5. It’s Time to Move On with Your Life

Look at the reason you decided to sell in the first place and determine whether it is worth waiting. Is money more important than being with family? Is money more important than your health? Is money more important than having the freedom to go on with your life the way you think you should?

Only you know the answers to the questions above. You have the power to take back control of the situation by putting your home on the market. Perhaps, the time has come for you and your family to move on and start living the life you desire.

That is what is truly important.

Comey & Shepherd Realtors | Cincinnati Real Estate Blog | Cincinnati Real Estate | Comey Blog

Buying a Home? 3 Reasons it Pays to Hire Real Estate Agent.

January 30, 2015 at 1:01 pm
January 30, 2015 |

All content taken from:

Source: Single Rent Inmobiliaria

The growth of online real estate listings means consumers are equipped with information very early in the home buying process. A generation ago, to get listing information and access to historical data, home buyers needed to connect with a real estate agent much sooner — sometimes even prematurely. But today’s home buyers can do a lot of the legwork themselves, conducting research online and using home search and research applications independently, in addition to attending open houses.

But this access to information doesn’t mean home shoppers can entirely go it alone. Buying a home is a major transaction, and all the data in the world can’t replace a knowledgeable and experienced local real estate agent.

Here are some signs that you are ready to engage with a buyer’s agent:

You think you’ve found the home of your dreams, and you don’t know what to do next.

If you’ve been looking at homes for some time, you likely have a good feel for what you get for the money. You’ve gone to some open houses and have a few homes or searches saved online. Home shopping has become a hobby. But once you find the home of your dreams, it becomes a part-time job.

Independent shoppers get comfortable with the market until their dream home hits them like a ton of bricks. The house is the motivator to take things up a notch. Reaching out to an agent will take you out of the dreaming phase and move you in the direction of actually buying a home.

You’ve found a home that appears too good to be true, but you can’t figure out what the problem is.

Suppose you stumble upon a house that seems like a great deal. It’s priced accurately for the neighborhood, but has been sitting on the market for weeks, if not months. You may have reached out to the listing agent to see the home in person or asked some questions of the agent at the open house. But that agent represents the seller, so you are not sure what the story is.

In this case, you don’t know what you don’t know. That uncertainty, coupled with your curiosity about the home, is the best reason to pair up with a good local agent. They may know the house, its market history or, via their network, have access to information about the home.

The house may have some major structural issues. Or the agent might point out that it is on a less desirable road or in a tough school district. These are the types of things that new, uneducated buyer wouldn’t know on their own.

You’ve been hit by a major life or financial event and need hard information to make a decision.

Sometimes you get news that changes your life’s course. Your landlord is selling your building, and you have 60 days to vacate. You’ve received the job opportunity of a lifetime or a huge increase in pay. Or you’ve done some tax planning and realize you are paying so much in taxes that you need to take advantage of the benefit realized by homeownership.

When you need information fast, rather than taking the time to study the market independently, it’s easier to go right to the source. In a 30-minute phone call or in-person meeting, a local agent can get you up to speed on the market, pricing, timing and what to expect. You can quickly marry this information with your personal financial situation and start to devise a plan.

A generation ago, potential home buyers, curious about getting into the market, had access to little information about homes for sale. They might have checked the open house section of the Sunday paper to get started. Or they simply called a local agent and engaged them. They may not have been quite ready to pull the trigger at that point, but they needed an agent to get them in the game, many times well before they were ready to purchase. While that agent is still an integral part of the process, today’s buyers can hold off a bit longer — as long as they know when the time is right to enlist help.

Why Have Interest Rates Dropped?

January 28, 2015 at 5:17 pm
January 28, 2015 |

All Content Taken From:

Why Have Interest Rates Dropped? | Keeping Current Matters

The headlines agree mortgage interest rates have dropped substantially below initial projections. Many who are considering purchasing a home, or moving up to their dream home, might think that they should wait to buy, because rates may continue to fall.

A recent article on the Economists’ Outlook blog by the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) provides insight into one major factor in the decline in interest rates, the crude oil price.

“As of January 5, 2015, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported that the price of regular gasoline was $2.20/gallon, the lowest since gas prices peaked to about $ 4/gallon in May 2011.”

You may have noticed that filling your gas tank has become substantially less expensive in recent months. A welcome change from the close to $5 a gallon that many Americans were paying this time last year. The average US household is projected to save around $550 in 2015.

So what does that have to do with Interest Rates?

NAR explains the correlation like this:

“Lower oil prices mean lower inflation rate, which pushes down mortgage rates.”

Based on Freddie Mac’s weekly mortgage survey as of January 22, 2015, the 30-year fixed rate averaged 3.63% and the 15-year fixed rate averaged 2.93%.

“The decline in oil prices is generally positive to households by way of the gas savings and lower mortgage payments. That savings will boost consumer spending in other areas. But there may be some layoffs in oil-producing states.”

How long will rates stay low?

No one really knows how long oil prices will continue to support low mortgage rates. In a New York Times article, the author points to the fact that “adding hundreds of billions of dollars to consumer spending” could start to have a “counter effect” on rates as the economy continues to strengthen.

“If firms start hiring again, and wages increase — that’s when the level of all interest rates in the U.S. would increase.”

Don’t wait too long

The low interest rates we are currently experiencing are not going to stay around forever. The current projections from Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, NAR and the Mortgage Bankers Association all agree that interest rates will increase to between 4.3-5.4% by the end of 2015.

Bottom Line

NAR reports: “At the median home price of $205,300, a 0.75 percentage point drop in mortgage rates will yield savings of about $1,000 annually.”

If you are in a position to buy a home make sure that you meet with a local real estate professional with their finger on the pulse of what’s going on in the market. Don’t let a delay in purchasing impact your family’s financial future.

Comey & Shepherd Realtors | Cincinnati Real Estate Blog | Cincinnati Real Estate | Comey Blog

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