Don’t Scare Your Home’s Buyers

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No matter how gorgeous your home is, it still could contain an item or two that happens to scare the pants off anyone who walks through your door. That might not be a problem if you don’t like guests, but it could be a huge problem if you’re trying to sell your place. It doesn’t take much to scare off home buyers—with so much on the line, even the smallest detail can give them a shiver or icky feeling they can’t shake. To make 100 percent sure your home-selling efforts aren’t getting tripped up on some freaky feature you overlooked, Realtor.com offers this checklist of items that can make house hunters get out…quickly.
1. Too many locks
An excessive number of door locks might prompt someone to wonder what the danger is? Thieves? Stalkers? SWAT teams? Granted, maybe you’re the “better-safe-than-sorry” type, but anything beyond two locks per door doesn’t generally sit well with buyers because they might think it’s unsafe.
2. Uncomfortable art
Perhaps you have an eclectic taste in art, and display “classy” nude photography with no shame. That’s great—but be aware that others might freak out over it. Sure, this stuff can be removed when you move out, but it might be too late—the psychological damage could already be done to the buyers who tour the home.
3. Taxidermy
While a single deer head on a wall might possibly fly in a den, stuffed dead animals generally creep people out. Only a fellow hunter or taxidermist will appreciate such décor in almost every room
4. Faulty or half-done repairs
Your house might be newly renovated, but if those upgrades weren’t done to code or lacked the proper permits, your buyers will beat a hasty retreat. Even worse are repairs that are not yet complete. Bottom line: Even if you are hoping to sell your home “as is,” make sure the house at least looks like it isn’t falling apart.
5. Unfriendly pets
No matter how much you love Fido or Fluffy, not everyone is comfortable around animals. Some might harbor bad childhood experiences with cats and dogs, or suffer from allergies and worry the effects might linger, even after your pets are gone. The best option is to board your pets with a friend or family member while your house is for sale—or at least get them out of the house whenever someone visits.
6. Dust and dirt
Don’t tell yourself that those cobwebs are just part of your Halloween décor. Your house has to be spotless to attract buyers. Whether it’s an oven that’s never been cleaned, a refrigerator with 6-month-old Chinese food or a laundry room piled high with dirty clothes, remember that people want to buy a home that looks shiny and new.
7. Mystery smells
“Mystery smells” or a vague scent of your beloved pets or mold are going to cast a pall over a home showing. That’s why many real estate agents bake cookies, which serve double duty as both an air freshener and a buyer-seducing snack. You also might want to try remedies such as air fresheners or candles, and sometimes you just need to replace carpet before placing your house on the market.
8. Hair-raising decor
An epidemic of outdated wallpaper and wood paneling. Garishly purple bedrooms. Popcorn ceilings. At one point in time, these fads were in vogue. However, buyers don’t like traveling in a time warp while house hunting; they also don’t relish burning loads of cash to bring the home into the present.
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2017 SCE HOUSING SURVEY FINDS INCREASED OPTIMISM ABOUT HOME PRICE GROWTH

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The Federal Reserve Bank of New York has released results from its February 2017 SCE Housing Survey, which provides information on consumers’ housing-related experiences and expectations. The survey, which is part of the broader Survey of Consumer Expectations, shows an increase in home price growth expectations, especially for growth during the next year. In addition, the majority of households continue to view housing as a good financial investment; expected changes in mortgage rates have slightly increased since last year’s survey; and renters’ perceived access to mortgage credit has continued to ease.

Here, the key findings from the February 2017 survey:

Home prices/rents

Average home price change expectations at both the one- and five-year horizons increased from 2016. For example, the mean one-year ahead expected change in home prices in 2017 was 5.1 percent, which is 1.8 percentage points higher than last year and the highest level since the inception of the survey in 2014. Five-year growth expectations also increased from last year, but remain at or below the levels in 2014 and 2015.

There was a drop in the perceived downside risk in home prices over both the one- and five-year horizons. At the one-year horizon, the average probability of home prices decreasing declined from 43 percent in 2016 to 37.5 percent.

Rent change expectations increased at both the 1- and 5-year horizons, by 0.8 and 0.5 percentage points, respectively.

Housing outlook

Attitudes toward housing continued to remain positive: 60.4 percent of all respondents think that buying property in their zip code is a very or somewhat good investment, and 12.7 percent think it is a bad investment. Although slightly less optimistic than respondents overall, most renters are also enthusiastic about buying property, with 55.9 percent viewing it as a good investment and 15.6 percent viewing it as a bad investment. Higher-income (annual income of $60,000 or more) and more educated (a bachelor’s degree or more) households continue to have a more optimistic outlook of housing compared to their counterparts.

The average probability of buying a home, conditional on moving within the next three years, was largely unchanged from 2016 at 63.6 percent. The average probability of moving during the next year declined slightly, from 19.2 percent to 17.8 percent.

Mortgage rates

On average, households perceive mortgage rates for themselves and nationally to have increased by about 40-50 basis points from 2016. This change is roughly in line with the increase in actual mortgage rates. Less-educated and lower-income households perceived larger increases.

Average expectations of future mortgage rates similarly increased for both the one- and three-year-ahead horizons. For example, the average year-ahead mortgage rate expectation was 5.6 percent, up from 5.2 percent in 2016. The average probability that mortgage rates will increase over the next year rose from 49.5 percent in 2016 to 52 percent; this is primarily driven by older respondents (ages 50 or older).

Owners

The average probability of mortgage refinancing over the next year declined to 10.2 percent, from 11.3 percent in 2016.

The average probability of investing at least $5,000 in the home over the one- and three-year horizons remained steady. The average probability for the one-year horizon stands at 32.4 percent; the corresponding value for the three-year horizon is at 46 percent.

Renters

Renters continue to perceive obtaining a mortgage (if they want to buy a home) as difficult, with 65 percent stating that it would be somewhat or very difficult to get a mortgage. However, renters are gradually beginning to perceive credit access as becoming easier. For instance, this year 20 percent of renters stated it would be somewhat or very easy for them to obtain a mortgage if they wanted to, compared to fewer than 15 percent in 2014 and 2015. These movements held across demographic groups, although they are less pronounced for older renters.

Renters continue to report a strong preference for owning homes. The share of renters who report preferring or strongly preferring to own instead of rent (if they had the financial resources to do so) stood at 72.3 percent, a slight decrease from 74.1 percent in 2016. Younger and less-educated respondents are particularly likely to express a strong preference for owning.esplanade

Pacific Ocean

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On a unexceptional coastal California day the Ocean causually flaunts its’ blue diamond brilliance. As the sun tires of it’s duties, the evening serves up a main course of heart stopping colors, blended and brilliant, beckoning locked gazes due West, hands outstretched and fingers pointing. But there is something to be said about a stormy, angry grey day.

Impervious and safe, piping hot tea shoots steam out of an army grade thermos. The furocious and seemingly furious Pacific Ocean orders white caps, and while beating each other for pride of placement the water blends into sky, skyline disappears into sea.

For all sensory appearances the roof will peel off at any moment, trees will take root inside the house, panes will shatter and the beast outside will mate with the calm contimplation inside.

It is a day for reflection, inner scrutiny with a dollop of forgiveness. It’s a day for feet up, afghan hugging shoulders like an old lover. It’s the type of day where a pronounced dichotomy presents itself – the desire to be one with the wind as it bolsters you up and tinges the ears and nose patchy red, or the lazy hankering for a hot toddy, tissues and a melancholy laced novel.

Slowly the corners pull up, the grey horizon lifts and lightens, the waves change direction. Blue creeps in between the cracks, the grey separates, ever so slowly, giving a peep show of a sultry sun dancing in naked light. The ocean gives a bored roar, and retreats to a calmer, peaceful disposition. Birds appear, testing the sanctity of flight.

Salt floats
Sand evolves
Seaweed slithersSunset

ART AND REAL ESTATE ARE THE NEW GOLD, SAYS BLACKROCK CEO

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alma didn't light me up

Gold has always been considered a safe investment. However, many moguls are replacing this precious metal with art and real estate. Laurence D. Finch, BlackRock CEO, explains as gold has become widely owned, it has lost its appeal. In fact, gold prices have dropped over one-third from their peak values in 2011.
To store value, many investors are turning to contemporary art and property. Obviously, fine paintings and sculptures are nicer to view than blocks of gold. Also, many elite class members find penthouses are more useful shelters than bland safety deposit boxes. Apartments in Vancouver, London, and Manhattan are especially popular.
The most important thing to note is how art and property compare to gold as investments. Results seem to depend on location. Even though gold prices have dropped 7 percent from last year, they are still up 179 percent over the last 10 years. According to the Knight Frank Luxury Investment Index, art value has increased 252 percent over the last 10 years. London real estate has seen an increase of 138 percent over the last decade. Unfortunately, New York real estate has not been as successful. Its value has only increased 67 percent over the same time period.
One thing that has skeptics worried is that art and real estate are less liquid than precious metal. During a market upswing, these new purchases seem to be smart investment choices. However, over the long term, they may be risky during times of crisis. Under most circumstances, individual needs will dictate what investment path is best.

Let’s Talk Backyard Retreats

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It’s time for summer break, but why make expensive travel plans? Let the crowds have the beaches, and leave theme parks to the throngs. These four vacation retreats beckon just outside your back door.
1. Lounge in Landscaped Gardens – Elevate exterior design with creative gardening. Traditional trellis walls shaded with favorite vines establish natural privacy. Grace your getaway with a butterfly garden, or practice peaceful relaxation with an Oriental theme. Landscape design keeps your backyard retreat beautiful, and it increases property value.
2. Play on a Pretty Patio – This little piece of real estate has so much potential, so think beyond the umbrella table. Brighten up your great outdoors with cool, colorful pavers underfoot. Lay down luxurious natural stone, and install a small fire pit. Finish off your summertime oasis with miniature fountains and lovely container plants.
3. Man the Deck for Fun – Outgrow the backyard grill with an outdoor kitchen that turns the deck into a summer fun center. Add bench seating along the rails for hidden storage space that welcomes extra guests. Built-in tables double down for dining and family game nights. Top it all with a shady pergola, and enjoy your retreat year-round.
4. Splash in Your Own Pool – You don’t need an Olympic-sized layout. An above-ground pool keeps you cool, and a hot tub keeps you relaxed. Take the splash with a traditional water hole, or save space with a slim lap pool. A personal water world in your backyard keeps summertime living easy.

THE WORLD LOVES THE SMARTPHONE. SO HOW ABOUT A SMART HOME?

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Smart Home
Does anyone actually need a home with a front door that unlocks automatically as soon as they approach it? Probably not. However, many people are likely to want these types of conveniences, and they could also make selling a home much easier along with boosting its final sale price.
Thanks to the increasing cheapness of tiny computers, which can be put into a variety of boring household devices, and the proliferation of WiFi, old and staid products in the home are getting a makeover. Along with the aforementioned door that can be unlocked remotely, air conditioners, refrigerators and washers and dryers with the ability to connect to the Internet are becoming available. Many of these new smart devices offer both remote management and diagnostic capabilities.
For example, if a washing machine is having problems with balance or load issues, it can alert someone with a text message. Air conditioners that are low on coolant can also let people know that they need to have a technician out. Some of these technologies have been available for a while, but thanks to wireless connectivity, they don’t require someone to have wires running throughout their home to work, which makes them far cheaper to install.
Another major benefit that is likely to draw in potential home buyers is the ability to improve a home’s energy efficiency. Remotely controlled lighting and HVAC systems can cut down on power consumption when members of a household are not around, making smart devices both nifty and potential money savers.

Let’s Talk Real Estate Make Overs on a Budget!

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Habitat Demolish and Give Back

If you plan to place your home on the market soon, then you should get around to some of these home-improvement projects now. You can accomplish all of these on your own for less than $500 per project, and the result may be a quicker sale of your home at a much better price.

1. Freshly Painted Front Door

Chances are good that your prospective buyers will pause at the front door when they come to see your home, and you should make sure that it’s welcoming with a new coat of paint. You might also consider a new decorative door handle, inviting doormat and some beautiful hanging plants.

2. Present a Beautiful Front Yard

Those interested in purchasing your home may not make it to the front door if the first thing they see is a front yard filled with weeds, high grass and scattered toys. Keep your front yard mowed and pristine. Consider planting flowers or other forms of landscaping.

3. Brighten Up Interior Walls

Dull walls are unattractive and make your rooms look small and depressing. Brighten up each interior room with a fresh coat of paint or even a bright new color.

4. Sharp New Lighting Fixtures

Choose new lighting fixtures for your living and dining rooms. A beautiful chandelier hanging over your dining table may just make the sale.

5. New Bathroom Appliances

A new toilet in each bathroom can make all the difference in the world. Not only do the newer models save water, but you can choose from some innovative styles and colors.

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