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The Changes of the Season: Summer 2024

Header image for Raleigh Durham real estate agents blog post about FHA loan changes, backyard landscaping, and energy upgrades in the Triangle of North Carolina

As the real estate market continues to thrive in the Triangle area, homeowners in Wake County, Durham, and Raleigh are increasingly seeking ways to enhance their homes for both personal enjoyment and increased resale value. This June, we focus on three key areas that can significantly impact your home’s appeal: transforming your backyard space, remodeling your bathroom, and making energy-efficient upgrades. Whether you’re preparing to sell or simply wanting to create a more enjoyable living environment, these expert tips will guide you through each project.

Understanding Lending Changes: FHA Loans 2024

As we navigate through 2024, it's essential to stay informed about the latest updates in the lending landscape, particularly concerning FHA loans. These changes can significantly impact buyers in the Durham, Raleigh, and Wake County real estate markets, providing new opportunities and considerations for prospective homeowners.

FHA loans have always been more lenient regarding credit scores compared to conventional loans. This flexibility continues, ensuring more individuals can qualify for home loans, even with a challenging credit history. The updates support buyers with lower credit scores, offering them more opportunities to qualify for home loans, which is especially important in competitive markets like Durham.

A distinctive feature of FHA loans is the requirement for mortgage insurance. Unlike conventional loans, where mortgage insurance can be waived with a 20% down payment, all FHA loans require it. This ensures that even with a smaller down payment, buyers can access financing. For homes for sale in Raleigh, this pathway allows buyers to enter the market without substantial upfront capital.

The flexibility of FHA loans extends to the acceptance of gift funds for down payments. Previously, donors had to provide extensive documentation, which often deterred the use of gifted funds. Now, donors can choose from several simplified documentation options. The simplified documentation process for gift funds removes a significant hurdle for many buyers, allowing for smoother transactions and enabling more families to support their loved ones in purchasing a home.

One of the most significant updates is the change in how nonpayroll deposits are sourced. Previously, any deposit over 1% of the purchase price needed to be sourced. Now, this threshold has increased to 50% of the total gross monthly income. By raising the threshold for sourcing nonpayroll deposits, the FHA has reduced the administrative burden on buyers, streamlining the approval process.

FHA loans require an appraisal to ensure the property meets specific health and safety standards. Additionally, FHA loans may involve closing costs that differ from conventional loans. Buyers should be aware of the specific appraisal requirements and potential closing costs associated with FHA loans. Working with a knowledgeable real estate agent can help navigate these aspects effectively.

Understanding these changes and their implications can help buyers make informed decisions and take advantage of opportunities in the 2024 real estate market. For personalized advice and support, contact the DNA Realty Team, your local experts in Wake County, Durham, and Raleigh real estate.

Creating an Outdoor Oasis: Transforming Your Backyard Space

As the seasons change, your backyard can become more than just a patch of grass—it can be a personal retreat where you unwind and connect with nature. For North Carolina homeowners, especially in Wake County, transforming your outdoor space into an oasis not only boosts your home's appeal but also provides a tranquil haven for relaxation.

Landscaping and Garden Design

Start with thoughtful landscaping to turn your yard into a vibrant, welcoming space. Using native plants that thrive in North Carolina’s climate is a smart choice. They require less maintenance and water, contributing to a sustainable garden. According to Micah Grubb from GreenView Partners, native options like dogwoods, magnolias, maples, and azaleas can add color and texture. “Understanding your yard’s soil and sun exposure will guide you in choosing the right plants,” says Grubb.

Consider adding a garden for flowers, vegetables, or herbs to bring life and color to your space. A small herb garden, for instance, can provide both delightful fragrances and fresh cooking ingredients.

Outdoor Living Spaces

Modern backyards are becoming extensions of our homes, complete with pergolas, outdoor kitchens, and fire pits. “Outdoor kitchens and fire pits are particularly popular in North Carolina, adding both functionality and appeal,” notes Grubb. A pergola offers shade and a cozy gathering spot, while an outdoor kitchen and fire pit can turn your backyard into a perfect venue for summer barbecues and autumn evenings.

Water Features and Lighting

Water features like fountains or ponds add serenity and a calming atmosphere. Coupled with strategic lighting, these elements can highlight your landscape’s best features and extend the use of your outdoor space into the night. Grubb suggests budget-friendly improvements like flagstones with gravel for pathways and solar-powered lights for added charm.

With these enhancements, your backyard can transform into a sanctuary for relaxation and enjoyment, enhancing both your home's value and your quality of life. For more ideas and professional help, consider reaching out to local experts like GreenView Partners.

Energy-Efficient Upgrades: Saving Money and the Environment

As the seasons shift, energy efficiency becomes crucial for homeowners, especially in the competitive real estate markets of Durham, Raleigh, and Wake County. Modern buyers prioritize eco-friendly features that lower utility bills and reduce environmental impact. Here are some key energy-efficient improvements to consider for a more sustainable home.

Insulation and Windows: Enhancing Year-Round Comfort

Proper insulation and upgraded windows are essential for maintaining consistent indoor temperatures. In North Carolina's varied climate, effective insulation keeps your home cool in the summer and warm in the winter, reducing the strain on your HVAC system and lowering energy bills. Christina Edwards, President of Nest Egg Home Services, highlights that “insulating your home properly can lower heating and cooling costs by up to 20%.”

Window upgrades, such as installing double-pane or triple-pane windows, further enhance energy efficiency by reducing heat transfer. Mike Bowen, an inspector with Nest Egg Home Services, explains, “In a climate like North Carolina's, double-pane windows can significantly reduce heat entry, easing the burden on air conditioning systems.”

Solar Panels: A Sustainable Investment

Solar panels are increasingly popular for homeowners looking to cut energy costs and reduce their carbon footprint. They provide a sustainable energy source and can generate significant savings over time. Christina Edwards advises, “While solar panels offer long-term savings, it’s crucial to understand how energy provider buy-back rates affect the financial viability of your solar investment.”

Energy-Efficient Appliances: Modernizing with Savings

Upgrading to ENERGY STAR-certified appliances is a straightforward way to reduce energy consumption and utility bills. According to Mike Bowen, these appliances “offer a 50-60% return on investment and can save the average home $400-$500 per year in energy costs.” They also consume less water and energy, making them an eco-friendly choice that appeals to modern buyers.

Maximizing the Benefits

Focusing on insulation, windows, solar panels, and energy-efficient appliances can significantly enhance your home’s marketability and sustainability. These improvements not only lower utility costs but also contribute to a greener future, making them a valuable investment as the real estate market evolves.

Changes are always happening in The Triangle and throughout this great state, but staying informed and maintaining your property is a great way to ensure that your home really is a worthwhile investment.  And, when you’re ready to sell or buy, we’re here to make sure you are well-informed about changes in the market.

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