Getting A Tax Refund? Bring it Home

Tax Refund

This time of year, many people eagerly check their mailboxes looking for their tax return check from the IRS. But, what do most people plan to do with the money? GO Banking Rates recently surveyed Americans and asked the question – “What do you plan on doing with your tax refund?”

The results of the survey were interesting. Here is what they plan to do with their money:

41% – Put it into savings
38% – Pay off debt
11% – Go on a vacation
5% – Make a major purchase (car, home, etc.)
5% – Splurge on a purchase

Upon seeing the research, The National Association of Realtors (NAR) wondered if this could help with a constant challenge cited by many people who wish to purchase a home – saving for the down payment.

In a recent post in NAR’s Economists’ Outlook Blog, they explained:

“With a sizable tax refund, the average American would have a decent down payment depending on which region or market you live in.”

They went on to add:

“Approximately 5 percent of all respondents indicated they would make a major purchase which does not seem like a lot. However, there is a bigger group 41 percent who see saving the tax return is best and that group could be potential homebuyers if they are not already.”

In other words, putting that money toward purchasing a home is a form of savings.

Bottom Line:

When one considers that first-time home buyers in 2016 had an average down payment of 6%, a decent tax return could go a long way toward the necessary funds needed for a down payment on a house. Or perhaps, the down payment needed by a son or daughter to make their homeownership dream a reality. How are you going to spend your return?

via The KCM Crew… Keeping Current Matters

Did You Know Consumer Confidence in the Economy & Housing is Soaring?

Consumer Confidence

The success of the housing market is strongly tied to the consumer’s confidence in the overall economy. For that reason, we believe 2017 will be a great year for real estate. Here is just a touch of the news coverage on the subject via The KCM Crew.

HousingWire:
“Consumers’ faith in the housing market is stronger than it’s ever been before, according to a newly released survey from Fannie Mae.”

Bloomberg:
“Americans’ confidence continued to mount last week as the Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index reached the highest point in a decade on more-upbeat assessments about the economy and buying climate.”

Yahoo Finance:
“Confidence continues to rise among America’s consumers…the latest consumer sentiment numbers from the University of Michigan showed that in March confidence rose again.”

MarketWatch:
“U.S. consumers are the most confident in the U.S. economy in 15 years, buoyed by the strongest job market since before the Great Recession. The survey of consumer confidence rose…according to the Conference Board, the private company that publishes the index. That’s the highest level since July 2001.”

Ivy Zelman, in her recent Z Report, probably best capsulized the reports:
“The results were incredibly strong and…offer one of the most positive consumer takes on housing since the recovery started.”

4 Great Reasons for Buying a Home This Spring!

Spring Home Buying

Here are four great reasons to consider buying a home today instead of waiting.  via The KCM Crew

1. Prices Will Continue to Rise
CoreLogic’s latest Home Price Index reports that home prices have appreciated by 6.9% over the last 12 months. The same report predicts that prices will continue to increase at a rate of 4.8% over the next year.

The bottom in home prices has come and gone. Home values will continue to appreciate for years. Waiting no longer makes sense.

2. Mortgage Interest Rates Are Projected to Increase
Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey shows that interest rates for a 30-year mortgage have remained around 4% over the last couple months. The Mortgage Bankers Association, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac & the National Association of Realtors are in unison, projecting that rates will increase by at least a half a percentage point this time next year.

An increase in rates will impact YOUR monthly mortgage payment. A year from now, your housing expense will increase if a mortgage is necessary to buy your next home.

3. Either Way, You are Paying a Mortgage
There are some renters who have not yet purchased a home because they are uncomfortable taking on the obligation of a mortgage. Everyone should realize that, unless you are living with your parents rent-free, you are paying a mortgage – either yours or your landlord’s.

As an owner, your mortgage payment is a form of ‘forced savings’ that allows you to build equity in your home that you can tap into later in life. As a renter, you guarantee your landlord is the person with that equity.

Are you ready to put your housing cost to work for you?

4. It’s Time to Move on with Your Life
The ‘cost’ of a home is determined by two major components: the price of the home and the current mortgage rate. It appears that both are on the rise.

But what if they weren’t? Would you wait?

Look at the actual reason you are buying and decide if it is worth waiting. Whether you want to have a great place for your children to grow up, you want your family to be safer or you just want to have control over renovations, maybe now is the time to buy.

If the right thing for you and your family is to buying a home this year, purchasing this Spring rather than later could lead to substantial savings.

www.ForeSiteResidential.com  |  727-895-6200

Homeownership More Affordable Than Renting in Pinellas

Homeownership

According to ATTOM Data Solutions’ 2017 Rental Affordability Report, homeownership is more affordable than renting in 354 of the 540 U.S. counties they analyzed.

In Pinellas County, an average of 29.3% of your income goes to ownership of a median-priced home whereas 37.7% goes to renting.

The report found that “making monthly house payments on a median-priced home — including mortgage, property taxes and insurance — is more affordable than the fair market rent on a three-bedroom property in 354 of the 540 counties analyzed in the report (66 percent).”

For the report, ATTOM Data Solutions compared recently released fair market rent data from the Department of Housing and Urban Development with reported income amounts from the Department of Labor and Statistics to determine the percentage of income that a family would have to spend on their monthly housing cost (rent or mortgage payments).

“While buying continues to be more affordable than renting in the majority of U.S. markets, that equation could change quickly if mortgage rates keep rising in 2017. In that scenario, renters who have not yet made the leap to homeownership will find it even more difficult to make that leap this year.

Bottom Line

Rents will continue to rise and mortgage interest rates are still at historic lows. Before you sign or renew your next lease, please give us a call.  We can help you determine if homeownership makes sense and lock in your monthly housing expense.

via KCM Crew

Real Estate Market 2017: What to Expect

Real Estate Market

One of the most common questions we get at this time of year is, “What’s going on in the market?” It’s not just potential buyers and sellers who are curious; homeowners always want reassurance their home’s value is going up. The good news is the American real estate market is strong and healthy: home values are up, prices and sales are strong, and millennial first-time buyers are eager to become homeowners

We often use national real estate numbers to give us a clearer view of our local market. However, real estate is local, and while statistics and predictions help us understand the overall real estate market, our local market may be different. If you’re thinking of buying or selling, or just want to know how much your home is worth, give us a call!

What to Expect in the Real Estate Market in 2017

The American housing market is stronger than ever! Home values, prices and sales had their strongest numbers in 2016, a sure sign the market is healthy and strong. According to the Home Price Index from the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), property values have increased in 58 of the last 62 months and have increased more than 35 percent nationally. Homeowners continue to build equity in their largest investment—their homes.

First-time buyers are back.

Housing forecasts from the National Association of REALTORS (NAR), the Mortgage Bankers’ Association, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae all predict existing-home sales will surpass 6 million in 2017, higher than anticipated sales for 2016. Who’s driving the surge? According to NAR, millennials who have put off buying a home are ready to buy. While they may have avoided buying a home due to student debt and limited employment, many are entering their 30s, a time when their attention turns to marriage, family and setting roots with homeownership. They’re predicted to be the driving force behind home and condominium sales from now until into 2020. (Source: MarketWatch)

What does this mean to you? If you’re a millennial who’s been on the fence about buying, now is the time to act. Give us a call to answer your questions about the market and the buying process.

Renters are embracing homeownership

Additionally, many renters who’ve resisted buying are starting home searches due to the economic weight of rising rents. This year’s home buyers seek to take advantage of comparatively low interest rates and, in most cases, static payments each month—an advantage of home ownership. Rental costs will only continue to rise; if you’re thinking of buying, now is an ideal time to do so.

What does this mean to you? Every month you pay rent, you lose the opportunity to build equity in a home of your own. Break free from the limits of renting and invest in your financial future. Come in the office and we’ll discuss your options.

Home prices are on the rise.

According to NAR, the median existing-home price not only increased 6.0 percent year-over-year in October, it’s also the 56th consecutive month of year-over-year increases. Prices are approaching the pre-recession peak.           

What does this mean to you? Home prices, and subsequently home values, are increasing. If you’ve been waiting to list your home until you know you can sell it for what you think it’s worth, now is a great time to do so. We’ll be happy to give you a comparative market assessment of your home and help you get your home in list-ready shape.

If you’re in the market to buy, be prepared to act.

Homes were on the market for the shortest amount of time recorded since 2009: 52 days. The increase of qualified buyers in the market along with the increasing efficiency of the real estate process means homes are selling faster than ever, and in many cases buyers are engaging in bidding wars and paying over the list price to get the home of their dreams.       

What does this mean to you? The home you have your eye on one day may be gone the next. In competitive markets, be prepared to come to the table with a competitive bid.

Looking for a new home?

New-home construction will increase to an average of 1.5 million per year to 2024, according to a report from NAR. However, experts anticipate housing starts will only increase to 1.22 million in 2017, which is less than the 1.5 million new homes required to keep up with growing demand. This inventory shortage of new entry-level homes—typically purchased by first-time buyers—may drive up prices in some areas. Home builders have been focusing on multi-family construction for the last few years, but this type of construction has begun to level off providing hope that builders will once again focus on single-family home construction. However, stricter proposed immigration policies may impact new home construction and tighten inventory.

What does this mean to you? First-time and repeat home buyers agree—there are plenty of advantages of buying a new home. Whether you want a home customized to your family’s needs or you don’t want to bother with age-related maintenance, a new home has much to offer. Give us a call to discuss your options.

Affordability pressures are increasing in many markets

Housing affordability in many of the nation’s largest cities has declined over the past few years, a trend that is expected to continue in 2017. However, there is hope. NAR created the Affordability Index to measure the affordability of homes across the United States. The Affordability Index assesses whether the typical family earning the median family income can qualify for a mortgage on a typical home based on the prevailing mortgage interest rate on loans closed on existing homes from the Federal Housing Finance Board.

The NAR Affordability Index is 170.2 (composite) and 169.8 (fixed), meaning a family earning the median family income has 170.2 percent of the income necessary to buy a median-priced, single-family home. Nationally, the qualifying income is $41,616, but it varies by region. In the Northeast, the qualifying income is $45,024. In the Midwest, it’s $32,640. In the South, it’s $36,960. In the West, it’s $61,824.          

What does this mean to you? If you’ve had your eye on a new home, but weren’t sure if you could afford it, you may be pleasantly surprised. We may have homes in our area that meet your needs and budget. Give us a call today to discuss your home search.

3 Things to Do Now if You Plan to Buy This Year

  1. Get pre-approved for a mortgage. If you’re like most buyers who plan to finance part of the home purchase, getting pre-approved for a mortgage will allow you to put in an offer on a home and may give you an advantage over other buyers. The added bonus: you can see how much home you can afford and budget accordingly.
  2. Start looking. While most buyers start their searches online, be sure to look at homes in neighborhoods you’d like to live in as well. Keep a notebook to write down what you like and dislike about each home you view in person or online. This will help you narrow down where to look and what to look for in your next home.
  3. Come to our office. The buying process can be tricky. We’d love to guide you through it. We can help you find a home that fits your needs and budget. Give us a call to make an appointment today!

3 Things to Do Now if You Plan to Sell This Year

  1. Make repairs. Most buyers want a home they can move into right away, without having to make extensive repairs. While the repairs may or may not add value, making them will give your home a competitive advantage over other similar homes on the market.
  2. Get a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA). A CMA not only gives you the current market value of your home, it’ll also show how your home compares to others in the area. This will help us price your home to sell in our market. Call us for your free CMA!
  3. Start packing. Help your buyers see themselves in your home by packing up items you don’t use regularly and storing them in an attic or a storage space. This will make your home easier to stage as well as make it easier to move later on.

Are you thinking of buying or selling?

Whether you’d like to buy or sell a home this year, want to know how much your home is worth, or have general questions about our local market, please give us a call! We’d love to discuss the market with you.

 

Is Home Ownership a Good Investment? Yep!

Home Ownership

According to a recent report by Trulia, home ownership is cheaper than renting in 100 of the largest metro areas by an average of 37.7%. That may have some thinking about buying a home instead of signing another lease extension. But, does that make sense from a financial perspective?

In the report, Ralph McLaughlin, Trulia’s Chief Economist explains:

“Owning a home is one of the most common ways households build long-term wealth, as it acts like a forced savings account. Instead of paying your landlord, you can pay yourself in the long run through paying down a mortgage on a house.”

5 reasons why owning a home makes financial sense:

  1. Mortgage payments can be fixed while rents go up.
  2. Equity in your home can be a financial resource later.
  3. You can build wealth without paying capital gains.
  4. A mortgage can act as a forced savings account.
  5. Overall, homeowners can enjoy greater wealth growth than renters.

Before you sign another lease, we invite you to meet with us to better understand all your options.

via Keeping Current Matters

9 Steps to Take if You’re Planning to Buy a Home

Buy A Home

It can take almost a full year to get your finances in line before you buy a home, housing experts say.

So if you know you want to buy a home within the next six months or so — such as people hoping to make the leap in the spring — you should start your financial housekeeping now.

Preparing sooner rather than later can increase your chances of landing the lowest interest rate possible, which can lead to thousands of dollars in savings over the life of the loan. People who skip some of these steps may miss out on their dream home or delay their plans.

Here is a checklist of sorts to give you your best shot at landing a good deal:

Know your budget. Before you start browsing real estate listings, talk to a lender to get a sense of what you may be able to afford. After reviewing general information about your finances, such as your income, assets and debt, the lender can give you a prequalification letter, which says how big your potential mortgage could be. This information can help you figure out what price range you should target and what neighborhoods you can buy in, says Keith Gumbinger, vice president of the mortgage information website HSH.com. But keep in mind that the prequalification letter doesn’t guarantee the loan. This can also give you more time to make tough decisions about what you absolutely want in a home and what you can do without, Gumbinger says.

Use the letter to start calculating other expenses. Estimate what closing costs might be, based on that price range, says Ray Rodriguez, a regional mortgage sales manager for TD Bank. (Closing costs are typically a percentage of the purchase price.) Potential home buyers should also research what property tax rates are in the neighborhood they’re considering, Rodriguez says.

Check your credit report. If you haven’t checked your credit report in the past year, you definitely want to take a look now. Consumers can receive three free credit reports a year, one from each of the main credit-reporting bureaus, on AnnualCreditReport.com. Make sure that all of the loans and accounts listed under your name actually belong to you and that the account balances are accurate, Rodriguez says. (A $10,000 bill for a credit card you know you paid off would be a red flag.) It can take several months to have an error removed from your credit report. So the earlier you look, the more time you give yourself to fix the problem before you start applying for loans, Rodriguez says.

Maximize your credit score. Boosting your credit score can increase your chances of being approved and help you land a lower interest rate on your loan, says Jonathan Smoke, chief economist of Realtor.com. Consumers may have a hard time being approved for a mortgage if their credit score is below 625, Smoke says. “If it’s lower than that, it puts you in a position where probably all the work you’ll do is getting credit counseling,” he says. Consumers with credit scores above 700 can qualify for lower interest rates, and the best offers are available to people with credit scores of 750 and up, he says.

You can lift your score by establishing several habits in the months leading up to the purchase, housing experts say. The first thing to do is to make sure to pay your bills on time, since payment history is the No. 1 factor that goes into a person’s FICO score. It also helps to bring down the balances on credit cards to below 30 percent of the available credit. Most people should also hold off on opening or closing credit cards until after they’ve purchased the home, Rodriguez says. Applying for a new card requires a credit check, which can ding your credit score. And closing a card can also lower your credit score by reducing your credit history or making it seem like you are using a larger share of your total credit.

Figure out what your down payment should be. Chances are you already have some money saved if you’re expecting to buy a home in the next six months or so. Some buyers in competitive housing markets may benefit from providing a larger down payment. But don’t assume you need to give 20 percent down. Some people can make smaller down payments if they qualify for certain programs, such as those offered to veterans and first-time home buyers. For instance, mortgages backed by the Federal Housing Administration require down payments as low as 3.5 percent of the purchase price. Those loans, however, may require borrowers to pay for mortgage insurance, which adds to the monthly costs. Some loans backed by the Department of Veterans Affairs don’t require any down payment or private mortgage insurance.

Build a housing emergency fund. Most future home buyers focus on saving for the down payment. But setting aside a cash fund to pay for unexpected home repairs and other emergencies is also important, Rodriguez says. (Once you become a homeowner, there won’t be a landlord to step in when your water heater breaks down.)

Avoid major purchases. When applying for a loan, mortgage lenders may review your bank statements to make sure you have enough money, Rodriguez says. Tighten your spending in the months before you apply for the mortgage so that you can have as much cash available as possible, he says. Big purchases worth thousands of dollars can be especially harmful if they are made with credit or another loan, he says, because they add to your debt load. That could affect your debt-to-income ratio, which can make it harder for you to qualify for the loan.

Shop around. Many home buyers go with the first offer they receive when it comes to mortgages, according to a report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. By not shopping around, borrowers may end up with a higher interest rate when they could qualify for a better deal. You should start requesting quotes 30 to 45 days before you want to buy the house, Gumbinger says. You can request estimates for interest rates and fees from multiple companies at no charge, he says. But you may have to pay a fee when you actually apply for the loan, he says. Compare interest rates and closing fees and negotiate with the lenders to see if they will lower some of those costs or match an offer from another company. Taking a moment to look around can pay off. Someone who sheds 0.25 percentage points off a $200,000 loan could save $10,000 over 30 years, he estimates.

Before you see homes, get a pre-approval letter. Once you’ve chosen a lender, you should request a preapproval letter, which outlines in more detail how much you might be able to borrow. Unlike a prequalification letter, a preapproval letter tells the seller that lenders have actually vetted your finances and confirmed that you qualify for a loan — giving you a possible edge over buyers who can’t prove that they will get financing. To get this letter, the lender may verify your income, check your bank statements and pull your credit.

Court the seller. By the time you’re in the final stretch and feel ready to make an offer, there are some other steps you should consider to gain an advantage over other buyers. Think about paying for a pre-inspection if you know you’re going to be facing a lot of competition, which could cut down on negotiations needed with the seller and allow you to close the deal more quickly. Be flexible with timing if it will help the seller. Talk to your broker to see what else you can do to increase your chances of landing your home. Sometimes it helps to write a letter about your situation and why that home is perfect for you. But don’t sweat it too much. If you’ve started preparing early, you should already be in a pretty good position.

The St. Petersburg market is very strong right now… please give us a call if you would like help making this process easier for you.  727-895-6200

via Jonelle Marte, Washington Post

Mortgage Interest Rates Just Went Up… Should I Wait to Buy? Nope!

Mortgage Interest Rates

Mortgage interest rates, as reported by Freddie Mac, have increased over the last several weeks. Along with Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, the Mortgage Bankers Association and the National Association of Realtors are all calling for mortgage interest rates to continue to rise over the next four quarters.

This has caused some purchasers to lament the fact they may no longer be able to get a rate less than 4%. However, we must realize that current rates are still at historic lows.

Here is a chart showing the average mortgage interest rate over the last several decades.

Mortgage Interest Rates

Bottom Line:

Though you may have missed getting the lowest mortgage interest rate ever offered, you can still get a better rate than your older brother or sister did ten years ago; a lower rate than your parents did twenty years ago and a better rate than your grandparents did forty years ago.

via Keeping Current Matters

 

Why Now is a Good Time to Invest in Real Estate

Real Estate

Real Estate is on an upswing.

HousingWire Aug 10: If you have been on the fence about getting into real estate investing, now may be the best time to take that first dive into this business. Real estate has seen its highs and lows over the past decade.

Due to the subprime mortgage housing crisis, many investors jumped ship when it came to this business, and ever since then, there still seems to be whispers of hesitation to enter back into this market.

However, in recent years, there appears to be an upswing in the real estate market, prompting experienced investors to return and even inspiring confidence in newbie investors to try their hand at investing.

Here are three reasons why now may be the best time to invest in real estate.

1. Home prices are rising

One of the first signs that the real estate market is seeing improvement is that the prices of homes are steadily rising. According to a study conducted by CoreLogic, “national home prices were 5.7% higher in June compared to a year ago.” Some areas are seeing astonishing levels of growth, specifically Washington, Oregon and Colorado, which have experienced a yearly price gain over 9%, the three highest in the country according to CoreLogic’s data.

Yahoo Finance reported that “June is the 52nd consecutive month where U.S. median home prices increased on a year-over-year basis.” This rise in prices could be due to the lack of inventory in the market, which is driving prices up and giving investors the opportunity to capitalize on these investments.

2. The rental market is growing

The rental market for real estate investing also appears to be seeing a change for the better due to this lower inventory of distressed properties which is raising the prices of rentals, giving buy and hold investors important insight into where to invest based on the current market trends.

In a recent webinar hosted by Dennis Cisterna, chief revenue officer for Investability, he discussed how the current single family rental market is experiencing a growth spurt. He attributes this to the stabilizing economy increasing demand for rentals, the lower inventory leading to rising prices, and the difficulty people are experiencing obtaining mortgages as reasons why they are moving more towards renting.

He further explains how investors are branching out to markets outside their local areas: “In 2016, people want to invest in markets outside their own neighborhood because if you want to buy a rental property and live in Southern California right now you’re going to spend over $400,000 and possibly not even have any positive cash flow in year one.”

3. Foreclosure levels at the lowest since 2000

Another important sign that the tides are turning in a positive direction is the fact that foreclosures are on the decline. MarketWatch cites data compiled by Black Knight Financial Services that show in the year 2000, the number of foreclosures was 114,310 and now in 2016, that number has dropped to a staggering 77,657 compared to its peak between 2008 and 2010 of about 650,000 foreclosures reported.

These numbers should further prove how the economy is seeing a change for the better, another indicator for investors to try and get into the business while the market still is primed for it. Less foreclosures mean homeowners have the money to pay their mortgages so banks aren’t coming in and taking away their investments.

The future for investors

If you are new to investing or were involved in the business before and took a break due to the uncertainty of the market, now may be the best time to get back in and start building those investments for the future. Take the rising home prices, the growing rental market, and the low levels of foreclosures as signs of a better real estate market ahead for all investors.

Are you thinking of investing in real estate?  We’d love to help you find some great properties.  Please give us a call.  727-895-6200

Movin’ On Up To A High Rise?

High Rise Living… Have You Thought About Transitioning From Your Single Family Home? 

High-Rise Lifestyle

Urbanization has been a dominant force in U.S. real estate over the past decade, with cities, such as our own St. Petersburg, seeing an influx of residents transitioning from a detached home to a high rise.

For example, Washington, D.C has added more than 100,000 people since 1998 and San Francisco has gained 45,000 residents since 2010. In Miami, the downtown population has grown by nearly 50,000 since 2000 – a 100 percent increase.

While conventional wisdom tells us urban areas are swelling as working professionals prioritize factors like location and access to jobs over the sheer size of their home, city living is also appealing to retirees and empty nesters. In a recent study conducted by the AARP, half of adults age 45 or older said living in a walkable area was important to them during retirement. With land in metro areas becoming scarce, developers are taking to the skies to meet housing demand in urban neighborhoods – especially when it comes to catering to buyers age 50 and up, which are projected to control 70 percent of the nation’s disposable wealth by next year.

The skylines of major cities across the country are welcoming new cranes at a fast clip, leaving homebuyers with a dizzying array of options when it comes to choosing a high rise condominium or apartment. That’s good news for buyers and renters, but any search for a new home should begin with a clear list of priorities that will help cut through the clutter.

Here are 5 factors to consider when weighing a move to a high-rise.

1. Think about what’s outside your front door: Life in a high rise is often a trade-off: what you give up in private space, you gain in amenities and access. Many residents improve their quality of life by treating the surrounding neighborhood as an extension of their home. In places like Miami’s Coconut Grove, that means living within walking distance of parks, cafes, bookstores, museums and the city’s top public and private schools.

2. Crunch the numbers: Moving into a high-rise can mean reducing the budget (and stress) that comes with maintaining a home. Gone are the days of mowing the lawn, cleaning the pool, shoveling snow, and hiring a house sitter during your next vacation. While homeowners association fees, taxes, and insurance can add-up, most residents experience lower maintenance and utilities costs in a high-rise versus a house. Be sure to create a budget before buying.

3. The latest technology: Since retrofitting a high rise tower with new technology is often cost-prohibitive, residents should seek out buildings equipped with the latest advances when it comes to energy efficiency, wiring, and construction materials. Take electric cars, for example. They may not be everywhere today, but they’re expected to account for up to 35 percent of all new car sales by 2040. Forward-looking developers are planning their building garages to accommodate this shift, and savvy buyers are following their lead.

4. Services and staff: All high-rise buildings are made of glass, steel and concrete. What sets one building apart from another comes down to the services offered on-site and the people who deliver them. Amenities like pet spas, private dining rooms, wine cellars, manicured gardens, direct beach access, rooftop decks and premium fitness centers can mean the difference between a best-in-class building that gains value over time, and a run-of-the-mill building that’s little more than a commodity.

5. Creature comforts: The urbanization phenomenon has taken the country by storm over the past decade, meaning today’s homebuyers are more likely to have grown up in a suburban home. Rest assured, moving into an apartment or condo doesn’t necessarily mean sacrificing the elements that make a home feel like ‘home.’ Many developers are introducing high ceilings, expansive floor plans, outdoor green spaces and even private garages in an effort to win over buyers accustomed to large, spread-out homes.

In addition to these factors, advances in architecture and construction are also dramatically improving the way developers design and build their projects. Factor in the lifestyle advantages found in many urban neighborhoods – including a tight-knit sense of community that converts strangers into neighbors – and you begin to see how high rise living can mean heightened quality of life and added convenience.

Contributed to Forbes magazine by David Martin