About the Expert
Lauren deFreitas is a Dallas/Fort Worth-based investor, contractor, and Realtor with eXp Realty. She is a lifelong learner who holds both BA and BS degrees as well as a medical license. She has owned a residential renovation company since 2019 and manages personal, investment, and flip properties. Lauren enjoys hiking, foodie adventures, and time spent with her pets.
What advice do you have for buyers in this competitive market?
No matter what the market is like, a Realtor can position you for success. I can guide you through negotiations with techniques that help you present a strong offer. Some options may include shortening the offer period, covering an appraisal gap, or offering more earnest money.
As a Realtor, I also have access to listings and resources that you will miss if house-hunting solo. Builders contact me daily with quick move-in new construction that is available, and other agents keep me informed of upcoming and off-market properties.
Which home renovations deliver the highest returns?
Right now, it’s refinishing or installing new hardwood flooring. Converting an under-utilized attic into functional living space averages a return on investment of about 75 cents on the dollar. The same goes for a complete kitchen remodel. Adding a new bathroom or primary bedroom suite offers more functionality and livability to your home but only results in about a 63% and 56% return, respectively.
If you’re considering renovations exclusively for sale purposes, almost half (48%) of Realtors recommend painting the entire home before listing. Exterior projects with the most bang for your buck include new roofing and garage doors with a nearly 100%t return, closely followed by new siding, windows, and front doors.
I’m worried I won’t be able to afford a house that I like in this market. What should I do?
If the conventional 20% down payment is a concern, consider loans such as FHA insured or guaranteed by the VA that offer low or no down payment. Get creative with a combined mortgage (a piggyback loan), which lets you avoid paying private mortgage insurance while still requiring less out-of-pocket costs at closing. Or think like an investor — an adjustable-rate mortgage could be an option since they typically offer lower rates than a fixed-rate mortgage.
Is there anything unique about the DFW real estate market? Any predictions about 2022?
Dallas-Fort Worth is a hidden gem! Compared to national averages, industry experts consider the Metroplex to have underperformed in 2021. That means that this year, home prices here are anticipated to experience stronger appreciation compared to other markets. Factoring in a low home value-to-income ratio combined with a high demand for housing creates pressure for property values to increase. Other indicators used to calculate demand include the area’s history of both job and wage growth and the ratio between population growth and housing permits.
Given this current market, wouldn’t it be easy to sell my house as a For Sale By Owner (FSBO)?
Homes sold by a real estate agent sell for an average price of over 18% more than FSBO properties. This is because real estate agents can help negotiate better deals, dedicate more time to the sale, bring more exposure to the home, and advise you of a fair market value listing price. Also, homeowners choosing to go directly to an institutional buyer see median purchase prices that are 26% lower than the average for the state.