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April 5, 2021

When is the Right Time to Sell Your Home?

 

Is now the best time to sell your home? That's an intensely personal question that depends on a number of factors -- many of them beyond your control. In 2006, some sellers might have been wondering if they should have waited another year and netted even more profit ... but today we know that those sellers would have kicked themselves for making that decision.

Still, major economic shifts aside, there are ways you can manipulate your home's sale to best benefit you and your family as you move into a bigger place or downsize to better fit your lifestyle. When you're trying to target the most opportune time to put your home on the market, it helps to consider all of the factors involved and control what you can to maximize your price and profit.

 

The annual real estate doldrums ...

Most advice you'll hear about selling will be different, but there's one time of year that most experts believe you should avoid when it comes to listing a home: wintertime.

It makes sense. Between the holiday season and, in some parts of the country, the weather, there aren't too many buyers incentivized to disrupt their lives and move into a new home, which means they aren't really thinking about shopping for one, either -- at least in some markets. And fewer buyers means less of a chance that your home will be one of the homes that sell.

Winter also isn't a very fun time of year to be a seller, logistically speaking. You might think you'll get out of yard work (and you'll be right), but you'll probably be cleaning up after visitors tracking rain and snow through your just-cleaned house while they tour it in exchange.

There will be circumstances under which you have to sell in the wintertime -- and there are almost always buyers who need to find a place to live quickly, too. And if the housing market in your neighborhood is really hot, or if you can find a buyer who needs to relocate with some urgency, then it might not matter that there's snow on the ground; more buyers will want to find a home because right now is when they can buy. So, like any "truth," this is one to run by the real estate professional helping you make the decision before you turn against winter sales forever.

 

... And the peak selling season

Just like many experts will warn you against winter, springtime is commonly considered one of the best times of the year to sell a home. Buyers are interested in making a fresh start, yards look lush and green, days are starting to get longer, and tax season gives some buyers a leap ahead on any down payment savings.

So does that mean you should sell in the springtime? Maybe ... but be aware that other sellers are going to have the same idea. There will be competition in the form of more homes available on the market, and that might mean you need to spend a little bit more money to fix it up before you list it, and spend more time vacating the premises while potential buyers take a look around.

Those buyers also might have the options available to be pickier in the home they end up buying, and that could mean they demand changes to yours before paying for it -- or pass altogether. And you may need to be more aggressive in your marketing tactics to capture their attention in the first place.

One benefit of listing in the spring, however, is that because it is typically the busiest sales season of the year, if you're hoping to nail down the best price at which to list your home, there will also be more comparable listings (comps) available to help you find that figure.

Summer and fall aren't as popular as spring for listing homes, but either might be a better choice for your particular home, depending on its features.

 

Your home's favorite time of year

Here's the thing about all conventional wisdom: It's geared toward the median, the "normal," the middle-of-the-road. But the reality is all over the map, and the conventional wisdom for your home could be very different from the norm.

For example, if you live in a ski resort town, then wintertime could be the very best time of year to list your home -- when the area is full of visitors who are enjoying themselves and wondering whether they might be able to make a permanent move work.

Perhaps you own a family-sized house with a little room to grow that's just a two-block walk from one of the most desirable elementary schools in your metro area. In that case, it might make less sense to list your home in the early spring, when many families with young children will be preoccupied with the end of the school year, and instead list in early summer, when they're able to seriously consider a move.

Or perhaps the fall foliage in your part of the world is something tourists travel hundreds of miles to absorb, and you've got a grove of beautiful deciduous trees in your yard. Perhaps you have a swimming pool or deck area that really shines in the summertime. Or maybe it's your flower garden that makes passersby stop and stare at your house, and the spring really is the best time for you.

 

Does the day of the week matter?

Actually, it might. According to a couple of different studies, homes that were listed on Thursday or Friday have been found to sell in the shortest length of time for slightly higher prices than any other homes.

It's possible that the timing of the weekend is what's honing Thursday's and Friday's edge over the other days of the week. Buyers are more likely to have time to schedule home tours or attend open houses over the weekend, and there are likely to be more of those buyers looking at each house (and therefore more chances of getting an offer, or maybe even multiple offers). And if the home was just listed and buyers see that competition for themselves, they're more likely to put in a full-price offer for the home.

It's usually not a good idea to list a home on a weekend, and you're less likely to see buyer appointments to tour homes earlier in the week, so if you can't swing a Thursday or Friday, try a Wednesday.

 

Timing isn't everything

Even if you think you've nailed the absolute best time to sell your home and you've done all you can repair-wise to maximize your chances, there's one big mistake that could shoot all your efforts right in the foot: Pricing your home incorrectly when you first list it.

Some sellers don't think this is the huge deal that it really (really!) is. Serious buyers sign up to property watch lists and get an alert as soon as a home is listed on the MLS. Most of the buyers who could buy your home are going to see its listing within the first 48 hours of that listing being "live."

Unless you overpriced it, of course. Then those buyers won't see it until you reduce the price down to a more realistic level -- and you might think that the price is a starting point of negotiation, but a qualified buyer is searching for "homes I am qualified to buy right now," not "homes I am not qualified to buy right now but that might drop into my price range later."

So you get one big chance to make your home's big debut in front of its buyers. And if you set the price too high (or too low, for that matter), you've blown it.

That's why the best way to maximize your home's price is to talk to a qualified agent, who can help you figure it out -- and why the best time to sell is when you're ready.

 

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Posted in Selling Your Home
March 15, 2021

Financing Tips on Buying

 

As the events of the last few years in the real estate industry show, people forget about the tremendous financial responsibility of purchasing a home at their peril.  Here are a few tips for dealing with the dollar signs so that you can take down that "for sale" sign on your new home.

Get Pre-Approved.

Sub-primes may be history, but you'll probably still be shown homes you can't actually afford.  By getting pre-approved as a buyer, you can save yourself the grief of looking at houses you can't afford.  You can also put yourself in a better position to make a serious offer when you do find the right house  Unlike pre-qualifications  which is based on a cursory review of your finances, pre-approval from a lender is based your actual incomes, debt and credit history.  By doing a thorough analysis of your actual spending power, you'll be less likely to get in over your head.

Choose your mortgage carefully.

Used to be the emphasis when it came to mortgages was on paying them off as soon as possible.  Today, the debt the average person will accumulate due to credit cards, student loans, etc. means it's better to opt for the 30-year mortgage instead of the 15-year.  this way, you have a lower monthly payment, with the option of paying an additional principal when money is good.  Additionally, when picking a mortgage, you usually have the option of paying additional points (a portion of the interest that you pay at closing) in exchange for a lower interest rate.  If you plan to stay in the house for a long time - and given the current real estate market, you should - taking the points will save you money.

Do your homework before bidding.  Before you make an offer on a home, do some research on the sales trends of similar homes in the neighborhood.  Consider especially sales of similar homes in the last three months.  For instance, if homes have recently sold for 5 percent more than the asking price, your opening bid should probably be about 8-10 percent higher than what the seller is asking.  

 

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(Article derived from an outside source and not necessarily the views of this company)

Posted in Buying a Home
March 1, 2021

5 Ways to Repurpose Old Windows

 

Windows bring light, warmth, and beauty to a home. But over the years, like other components of a house, they get worn out and eventually need to be replaced.

The life expectancy of a window will vary based on its materials and your location, but most should last about 20 years. When it's time to upgrade, don't just toss those old panes—upcycle them into something cool.

“The five signs you need to replace your windows are: rising heating and cooling costs, drafts on windy days, difficulty raising and lowering windows, condensation between glass panes, and cold-to-the-touch glass,” says Brad Roberson, president of Glass Doctor.

Once you've determined it's time for a window refresh, consider what you can do with those old frames. Old windows can be repurposed into pieces of art, furniture, and even organizing solutions for your home.

Not planning on replacing your windows any time soon? You can also find discarded old windows at junkyards and thrift stores.

So gather up those antiquated panes and try out one of the following creative projects.

Wall art, picture frames

The most common way to repurpose window frames is as wall decor, using them to frame photos or paintings.  

“Place patterned paper inside the old window frame, to create an inexpensive work of art,” says David Flax, vice president of operations at Window Genie.

Or unleash your inner Picasso and paint your own work of art. Maggie Houseknecht, who runs Rightupmyalley on Etsy, has been repurposing old windows since the late 1990s. Her shop features repurposed windows made into beautiful hand-painted art and furniture.

“Flowers brighten my day, so I love to create various flower scenes, in the hopes of adding cheer to any home,” says Houseknecht.

Entryway key holder

Turn something old into something new by reusing your old window to liven up your entryway and provide a handy place to leave keys.

“With the help of a few hooks, an old window can be made into a rustic key holder for your entryway,” says Flax.

After sanding and repainting the frame, he suggests, simply attach a few hooks along the bottom for keys, hats, and other small items.

Message board

With a little imagination and a single old window, you can create a one-of-a-kind message board for your home.

Secure colored or patterned paper behind the glass panes and write on the glass, as you would on a dry-erase board.

“Your family will love writing little messages and reminders to one another!” says Flax.

Old windows can also be reused to make a blackboard for the kitchen, mudroom, or breakfast nook. Flax says you can do this by painting the panes with chalkboard paint.

If your window frame is missing glass, apply chalkboard paint to the wall in the shape of a square, and hang the frame in front of it.

Coffee table

The coffee table is the centerpiece of any living room, and sometimes it can even serve as a conversation starter. Show off your DIY skills by building a piece of furniture out of an old window.

“This project requires a bit more effort, but the results can be stunning. You’ll need to replace the old panes with safety glass, mount the frame to scrap wood for extra stability, and attach a leg to each corner,” says Kevin Busch, vice president of operations at Mr. Handyman.

Marty Walden, who runs the blog Marty’s Musingssays it took her and her husband three to four hours to repurpose a window into a coffee table. They even installed a hinge, so that the top of the table opens up. Books and magazines can be placed underneath and exposed through the glass.

Jewelry organizer

Showcase your necklaces and earrings—and keep them from getting tangled—with a wall-mounted jewelry organizer made from an antique window.

“Replace the glass with chicken wire, and install a few hooks on the frame,” says Flax. “Now you have the perfect place to store and display your jewelry collection.”

 

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Article source: Realtor.com

Author: Anayat Durrani is a freelance education reporter for U.S. News and World Report. Her work has been featured in Military Officer, California Lawyer, the American Scholar, and PracticeLink magazines.

Feb. 15, 2021

11 Tips for Buying a Home

Buying a house -- whether it's your first or fifth -- can be a bumpy process. Between the financing, the availability (or scarcity) of homes on the market in your price range that meet your needs, the offer process, the appraisal and the inspection, there's a lot that can go wrong between deciding that you are in the market for a new home and turning the keys for the first time in your new front door.

But there's a lot that buyers can do to make the process smoother. Here are eleven tips.

Get a handle on your finances

1. Check your own credit
If you're like most Americans, you'll need a mortgage loan in order to purchase a house. The amount of money that a lender is willing to loan you will depend on several factors, including your current income, the amount of down payment that you're bringing to the table, and your credit.

You might or might not have a lot of influence over your current income, and you might or might not have wiggle room to save up for a down payment, but one thing that you can almost always work on is your credit. Get copies of your credit report to ensure that everything on it is accurate; fix any errors, and consider talking to a credit expert who can tell you which payments to prioritize and how to improve your score.

2. Research sales price in your area
While you're considering exactly what kind of home you want yet (and we'll get to that), you'll also want to think about how much that home might cost. This would be a good time to talk to an expert, like a real estate agent, about the sales prices in the area. An agent can show you current active listings and is also a good resource to tap when you have other financial questions about homeowners' insurance or other costs of homeownership, like common maintenance costs in the area.

 

3. Nail down the down payment
Different loans have different down payment standards, but if you are bringing less than 20 percent of the home's sales price to the table, then you'll wind up paying private mortgage insurance (PMI) on your mortgage loan.

There are a number of programs that will help you secure some or all of your down payment if you know where to look. Start at downpaymentresource.com to see what's available in your area for your demographic.

4. Consider all the costs
There's more than PMI to think about when it comes to a mortgage loan -- you will also be paying property taxes and homeowners' insurance premiums on the house. Depending on where it is, you might also need to spend some money on flood insurance, and often supplementary earthquake policies are worth considering, too. You will likely need to pay closing costs, and you probably have furniture and items to move, so you'll have to cover those expenses. And then there's the wear and tear on the home and the cost to repair it, and the costs of utilities from month to month; a good local real estate agent can help you figure out what to expect.

 

5. Figure out what you can afford
There might be some solid financial reasons why you want to buy a house, but you also want to make sure that you're not getting in over your head. Ideally, your monthly mortgage payment (which includes taxes, insurance, and other costs) should comprise no more than one-third of your monthly take-home income.

Talk to a loan officer about your options. Expect to provide a ton of paperwork (including your credit report) before you can get preapproved for a mortgage, but once you get this step out of the way, you're ready to start seriously shopping -- your preapproval means you won't need to deal with all that paperwork when the time comes to make an offer (never an ideal moment, especially in a hot market).

Start searching

6. Understand what you want
Hand-in-hand with what you can afford is what you actually want in terms of a place to live. If you have three large dogs, then a fifth-floor condo in the city probably isn't a great option for you, for example, but you might be able to look beyond a single-family home. (Perhaps there's a big duplex with a large fenced backyard on the market, for example.) Again, this is an area where an experienced local real estate agent can help you see alternative choices.

And understand how your wants and needs might shift as you own the home. Expect to be there for at least a couple of years, but probably closer to five or even ten. Maybe you don't have kids now, but if you and your spouse have been thinking about it, then it's probably a good idea to consider school districts.

7. Get to know your dealbreakers
Almost as important as knowing what you want in a home is knowing what you definitely don't want. But don't confuse a "dislike" with a true and genuine dealbreaker -- a feature of the home that you can't realistically fix.

If you haven't tapped into the expertise of a real estate agent yet, now would be the time. An agent can help you understand what's fixable and what's not in the house you're just not sure is a good fit.

8. Search accordingly
One tool that real estate agents have that the general public doesn't is access to the local multiple listing service (MLS), where homes are actually listed for sale. Once you understand your must-haves and your dealbreakers, your agent can set up a personalized alert anytime a home that meets your exact criteria is listed on the market.

Offer smart and close strong

9. Think competitive but reasonable
You probably want to avoid a bidding war (not great for your wallet!), so you'll want to make an offer that the seller will consider competitive. At the same time, you don't want to pay more when the seller would accept less; an experienced real estate agent can help you navigate the field of exactly what to pay and come up with an amount that's a good deal for you and priced high enough to capture the seller's attention.

Don't forget that there are other concessions you can make to sweeten the deal beyond sales price -- like giving the seller control over the closing timeline or offering to split the price of any necessary repairs discovered in the inspection. Your agent can walk you through popular options here, too.

10. Hire the inspector
One aspect of the closing process where you probably want to retain control is the inspector. Make sure you are present for the inspection and listen carefully to any concerns that he or she has about the property. Ask questions about common problems that the inspector sees and whether there's any evidence of them in this home. And consider what you'll ask the seller to fix (above and beyond what they might be mandated to fix) and what you're okay tackling yourself once the place is yours.

 

11. Think beyond the close
You'll be in your home for a few years, so it's a good idea to keep tabs on the market in at least a casual way so that when the time comes to renew your homeowners' insurance policy, you have a clear idea of whether you're under-insured or not. And obviously, the better you maintain your home while you live in it, the less chance that you'll be surprised by something you must fix at the inspection when the time comes to sell it.

Your agent can remain a resource for you by providing market statistics and connecting you with local contractors who can fix any issues you encounter in your new era as a homeowner.

 

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Posted in Buying a Home
Feb. 1, 2021

Kitchen Design Trends You Can Break

 

The kitchen is a major focal point of a home—after all, it's where meals are made to nourish your family, and where guests (when you can host them safely again) tend to gather, no matter how carefully you've arranged your living room. Because of that, the kitchen is a key selling point, which may intimidate some people from thinking outside the box when it comes to kitchen design.

But here's the thing: Kitchen design experts say 2021 is not the year to hold back. You may appreciate your kitchen’s look now and think, “If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it.” But the new year represents hope and new beginnings unlike any other in recent memory. So when it comes to updating the heart of your home, allow yourself to get creative and break some rules.

Rule No. 1 to break: You must have bulky upper cabinets

What’s a kitchen without necessary storage space for all your glasses, mugs, and plates to live? Sure, you need a place to put all of your dinnerware, but there is such a thing as too much cabinetry. And eliminating cabinetry can actually significantly improve the look of your kitchen.

"The formulaic approach to kitchen storage includes upper-wall cabinets, but that's one of my favorite design rules to break,” says Houston-based interior designer Nina Magon. “I like to eliminate the upper cabinets altogether; it makes the space feel larger."

Getting rid of upper cabinets frees up wall space for something visually stunning like art or a full-slab backsplash that extends to the ceiling in a dramatic colorway, Magon adds. “It instantly elevates the aesthetic.”

But where will all your salad bowls and small appliances live?

Magon suggests maximizing storage in an island or base cabinets, where everything is easier to reach.

Rule No. 2 to break: The kitchen island must be stationary

While you might think islands need to be fixed to the floor with cabinets below, that design doesn’t always work in smaller kitchens.

“Look beyond traditional design to create spaces that are more flexible,” says Toronto-based interior designer Ashley Rumsey. "A mobile kitchen island with an open base allows the piece to be an active element that, when equipped with lockable casters, can move to meet your needs rather than simply serving as a storage component.”

A floating island can serve as a homework station by day and food prep station at mealtime—the perfect multitasking piece for quarantine.

“To achieve this, bring in a bar-height table, clad with ultradurable surfacing like Silestone or Dekton by Cosentino, into the mix,” says Rumsey.

Rule No. 3 to break: Keep the kitchen all white

When redoing a kitchen, the first thing you might be thinking about is color scheme. White is always a popular and safe choice. But for designers like Magon, the all-white kitchen is often her first design rule to break, and she expects others to do so in 2021.

“I’m a big fan of a dark, moody kitchen and the combination of black and white,” Magon says. She says going dark with countertops (made of a high-gloss material like quartz or Dekton), cabinetry, or appliances brings a more luxurious look.

(We're also in favor of cabinets in midnight blue or dark green.)

Rule No. 4 to break: Match all your kitchen finishes

Faucets, lighting fixtures, cabinet hardware, and appliances in the kitchen should all match, right? Wrong! Mixing these finishes is highly encouraged from here on out.

"Sticking to one finish may seem like the safe and easy route, but mixing metals can completely elevate a kitchen's aesthetic,” says designer Lori Paranjape of Redo Home + Design in Nashville, TN.

One of Paranjape's favorite combinations is a kitchen faucet in matte black juxtaposed with a brass pot filler or brass cabinet hardware.

“The key to breaking this rule is installing a design element that brings the two metals together, such as a light fixture that incorporates both,” says Paranjape.

Rule No. 5 to break: Install lights just for function

Most people use lighting to illuminate their kitchen so they can see what they're cooking, but accent lighting can also be used in this space to give it more visual interest.

“I love using vanity and picture lights above kitchen sinks and even above open shelving," says Los Angeles–based interior designer Ryan Saghian. "It can really look fabulous in unexpected applications."

“These are so much nicer than a flush or can light, and can give a sophisticated feel," Saghian explains.

 

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Article source: Realtor.com

Author: Anayat Durrani is a freelance education reporter for U.S. News and World Report. Her work has been featured in Military Officer, California Lawyer, the American Scholar, and PracticeLink magazines.

Jan. 18, 2021

Annual Home Maintenance Checklist


If you’ve been a homeowner before, you know that just like your vehicle needs regular maintenance like oil changes to run well—so does your home. It can be easy to ignore or put these things off, but a well-maintained home will save you money from costly repairs in the long run, and make your home easier to sell when the time comes.

While this list is comprehensive, it’s not a complete list of all the things your home needs.

 

Monthly

·          Change HVAC or furnace filters. If your family is small and pet-free, simply inspect the filter and replace it every 2-3 months.

·          Clean range hood filters. Mix a degreaser with hot water, let it soak, then rinse it off.

·          Check water softener. Check the salt level, add some if needed, and read the display to make sure no error codes are displayed. You’ll usually only add salt a few times a year.

 

 Biannually

·         Deep clean. Roll up your sleeves and deep clean appliances, windows, lighting, and every crevice and corner. Keeping a clean home and not letting dirt build-up will help keep it polished.

·         Test the pressure relief valve on the water heater. This prevents corrosion—protecting leaks and helping it run efficiently.

·         Replace batteries in smoke/carbon dioxide detectors. Make it a habit to change batteries every time you set the clocks for daylight savings time.

·         Vacuum refrigerator coils. The fridge can account for up to 15 percent of your home’s total power—keep it running efficiently.

 

Annually Organized by Season:

Spring – There’s a reason it’s called “Spring Cleaning”

·         Service central air. Do this before it gets hot and you can often get this done at a discounted rate with enough time to spare before it gets sweltering hot.

·         Check gutters and drainage. When April showers start coming down, will the water flow away from your house? Keep gutters clear so the water can flow where it’s supposed to.

·         Test sump pump. You don’t want to wait until you need it to find out it’s not working!

·         Check grout in the bathroom and kitchen. Fix the grout where needed—This will extend the life of tiled surfaces and keep them looking new.

·         Check windows and screens. Clean window wells of fall and winter debris. 

 

Summer – Shift your focus to the outdoors and enjoy the sunshine

·         Clean ducts, sweep the chimney and get heating systems ready. You’ll be turning these on at the first hint of crisp fall weather, so do this now.

·         Check and clean the clothes dryer vent. While running, check the exhaust for the smell of fresh laundry. If the exhaust is marginal, check for blockages. Also, vacuum the lint from the dryer hose.

·         Clean garage. The garage is easy to ignore, get out there while the weather is nice, and check garage door sensors are working while you’re in there.

 

Fall – prepare for winter during this in-between season

·         Winterize A/C systems. Store window units, and if you have central air, cover the outside unit with a tarp and fasten with bungee cords.

·         Flush and store hoses. Drain the water so it doesn’t freeze.

 

Winter – cozy up and stay warm

·         Break Icicles. As pretty as they look, don’t let them grow—they could fall unexpectedly and hurt someone and can get can cause damage from their weight. When they melt, they can cause water damage to the foundation.

·         Remove showerheads and clean deposits. This will keep your water pressure strong and keep them lasting long.

·         Check the foundation for cracks. Use caulk or silicone to repair any small cracks before the Spring thaw.

July 31, 2017

Curious About Local Real Estate?

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Curious about local real estate? So are we! Every month we review trends in our real estate market and consider the number of homes on the market in each price tier, the amount of time particular homes have been listed for sale, specific neighborhood trends, the median price and square footage of each home sold and so much more. We’d love to invite you to do the same!

Get Local Market Reports Sent Directly to You

You can sign up here to receive your own market report, delivered as often as you like! It contains current information on pending, active and just sold properties so you can see actual homes in your neighborhood. You can review your area on a larger scale, as well, by refining your search to include properties across the city or county. As you notice price and size trends, please contact us for clarification or to have any questions answered.

We can definitely fill you in on details that are not listed on the report and help you determine the best home for you. If you are wondering if now is the time to sell, please try out our INSTANT home value tool. You’ll get an estimate on the value of your property in today’s market. Either way, we hope to hear from you soon as you get to know our neighborhoods and local real estate market better.

Posted in Market Updates