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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HOW TO STAGE YOUR OUTDOOR SPACE TO SELL YOUR HOME QUICKER

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Everyone loves the idea of indoor-outdoor living. And when you’re selling a home, staging your outdoor space can be an important way to show off one of your home’s best features while attracting prospective buyers. Whether your property has a sweeping lawn or a small city balcony, Redfin suggests some ways you can help buyers envision themselves happily hosting an al fresco dinner party, passing breezy summer afternoons on the porch or sipping a glass of wine under the stars—making your home their own.

Outdoor Furniture 

Today’s homebuyers want to be able to use their patios, yards and porches like extensions of their living and dining rooms. Show them how it can be done in your home by arranging comfortable, clean-lined outdoor furniture in both lounge and dining settings on your home’s patio. Make an outdoor sofa or sectional the star of the lounge area, and add an outdoor coffee table and side tables to make the space look even more functional. Use an outdoor rug and a few planters or large lanterns to create room-like definition for the space. Outdoor rugs also work well under dining tables to add a sense of indoor comfort and texture, and a patio umbrella over the dining table gives the space a fun, festive look. For private showings and open houses, consider leaving a cold pitcher of lemonade and a covered plate of treats to tempt buyers to linger and take in the feel of the space.

If you’re working with a small space such as a balcony, use a bistro table and chairs to invite buyers to imagine sunny, intimate breakfasts outdoors or unwinding at the end of the day with a cocktail hour for two. A small woven rug or runner also can make the area feel more inviting and special. On a porch, a pair of low lounge chairs with cushions and brightly patterned pillows looks like the perfect spot for watching the world go by. And as with staging the interior of your home, consider placing simple bouquets of fresh flowers on tables for an extra bit of cheer.

Fire Pit, Grill and Lights 

If the home you’re selling doesn’t have a built-in fire pit, you can purchase a metal one, add some attractive logs and arrange a welcoming grouping of chairs around it on your patio. If you have a nice grill, shine it up and make it part of your outdoor staging so buyers can imagine themselves hosting a family cookout or holiday weekend barbecue. Consider hooking a new pair of tongs and an oven mitt on the side of the grill for a touch of realism. Year-round string lights have become a popular way to make outdoor spaces large and small look festive after sunset, and if you really want to play up your outdoor space as a selling point, consider hanging the lights and asking your photographer to come back and take a few photos at dusk, before it’s truly dark outside. As long as you’re at it, light a few candles on your tables.

Flowers and Landscaping

Flowers are a foolproof way to improve the look of your outdoor space. The goal should be lush and vibrant, not overgrown or out of control. If you have bare spots in your flower beds, ask an employee at your local garden center for easy-care blooms that will add color and interest for several months. To create a more welcoming vibe on your porch or patio, scatter some clean, neutral pots and planters of various heights filled with pretty but hardy plants.

Tidying Up 

It’s important to keep your outdoor space ship-shape throughout the selling process, from the day your listing photos are taken until the day you close on the sale. After all, you never know who’s driving by—or even if your first contract will make it to closing. Be sure the grass is neatly mowed and any weeds along the walkways or on the patio are kept in check. Trim the bushes, neatly store away hoses and add a layer of fresh mulch to your landscaping wherever it looks dried out or faded. Remove anything that adds clutter: old rain bins, plastic storage containers, toys. Rinse and sweep your porch, walkways and patio regularly, knock down cobwebs, check for errant pieces of litter and pick dead blooms off your flowers. If your doormats are looking a little worse for the wear, update with fresh ones.

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

FOREIGNERS BUY UP PROPERTY IN SURPRISING U.S. MARKETS

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It’s no secret that foreign investors target real estate in the U.S. Markets like New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago seem to be the most likely recipients of funds from foreign investors, but you may be surprised to learn that this unique set of investors also targets unlikely areas like Watertown, New York and Anchorage, Alaska.
What’s the reason behind these investment decisions? That depends on the location. The popularity of Watertown relates to its proximity to Canada and its appeal to Canadian investors. Cities in the northern portion of Washington state also enjoy popularity among foreign investors for the same reason.
The appeal of locations like Anchorage is harder to identify. Investors from all over the world flock to the Alaskan city. Home prices are on the rise in Anchorage, and the relatively low unemployment rate may make the city more attractive for real estate investors who are hoping to quickly turn a profit on their purchase.
Miami is known to draw investors from Latin America, but market trends show that the entire state of Florida attracts foreign investors. Mexican real estate investors are active in Texas and California, and Indian investors tend to focus on markets in San Jose and New York.
Some investors have largely pulled out of the U.S. real estate market. Japanese investors maintain a minor presence in Hawaii and Seattle, but these investors once purchased real estate across the country. Domestic investors who target quieter markets may be surprised to learn that they have competition from abroad.
Tags: home buyers, home owners, housing market, real estate, u.s. market

IMPROVING YOUR HOME COULD SEND YOUR TAXES STRAIGHT UP

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Most every homeowner enjoys finding new ways to improve their home, and many of these improvements can greatly increase the value of the home. Unfortunately, some home renovations may also lead to a visit by the tax assessor and a higher tax bill.
Home Improvements That May Raise Your Taxes
• An Additional Bathroom: Many homeowners add a bathroom for their teenagers to share or for use as a guest bath. This is a great convenience, but the tax assessor will look at it as an improvement that will allow more people to reside in your home. Because this addition will increase the square footage of your home, this will raise the home’s value and raise your tax bill.
• Outside Improvements: If you enjoy your outdoor living space, then you may want to add improvements to make your yard more family friendly. Popular improvements include an in-ground swimming pool, a large deck at the back of your home and even a simple storage or garden shed. All of these items have the potential to increase your property value and your tax bill.
Know Your Facts Before Making Improvements
These are just a very few of the many home improvements that may trigger a reassessment of your property and potentially raise your taxes. It’s best to do your homework before you commit to making any improvements so that you can decide if any potential tax hikes will be worth the improvements. Both your real estate agent and your local tax office may be contacted for more information.
Tags: home improvement, real estate market, taxes

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It’s always nice to witness first hands the healthy growth of our local real estate market. Certain pocket areas have increased considerably in list price, sales price and location desirability in a short period of time.

East Manhattan is one of those micro areas.

I was happy to see a glorious new listing while out on Broker’s Open today The sun was shining, and life seemed hopeful, serene and calm (if one wore blinders).

Fresh with that new car smell we all love, sat 1304 Lynngrove Drive. 5 beds and 6 baths are the backdrop of this bright, super natural, white light filled single family home on a 5398′ lot.

Creative finishes, glitteringly gorgeous light fixtures are icing on the spacious 3746′ home. The Nano doors open to a petite  yet generous outdoor space with fire pit.

The price tag is as high as the ceilings..so the $3 Million question is indeed that! Will it fetch $2,999,900?

In this market, who knows. It just might.

 

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.

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