How to Sell your Home FAST

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Need to sell your home in a hurry? By using these easy and inexpensive tips, Trulia.com says you can expect an offer in no time.

Get a storage unit

Anyone who tours your home is going to check out the storage spaces, which means that disorganized, overstuffed closets only serve as evidence that your home is lacking in that department. Opt instead for a storage unit to house the things you won’t need while your home is on the market. The general rule? Get rid of a third of your stuff. If you don’t use it every day, store it. This includes holiday decorations, baby gear, seasonal clothes and the bread maker you’ve never used. Bonus: If you choose a portable unit, it can be transported to your new home, making moving day a cinch.

Hire a professional to stage and photograph your home

A professional home stager sees your home from a buyer’s perspective—a good one understands how to highlight its strengths and soften its flaws. Your buyer’s first impression will be the listing photos, and studies show that homes with more than six listing photos online are twice as likely to be viewed by buyers. But not everyone wants their home staged (or has the money for it). Another option: Have a friend stand at the curb and walk through the house with fresh eyes to offer their perspective on decluttering, and then the agent can go through from a marketing standpoint.

Find the right real estate agent

Don’t hire a real estate agent just because they’re also a die-hard fan of your college football team or they’re from your hometown. What really matters? A track record of sales that proves they know how to sell your house fast. Are they familiar with the benefits (and negatives) of your neighborhood? Can they walk into your home and tell you precisely what buyers will love and hate? One way to be sure is to check the online client reviews and feedback on all of the agents you’re considering. You also should make sure your agent promotes their properties online. Make sure they hire a professional to take photos and includes a variety of photos on their site and social media.

Remove personalized items

Removing personal photographs or memorabilia will allow the prospective buyer to imagine themselves living in your house and make it easier to focus on the home’s highlighted features. In the same respect, don’t distract from the house itself with art, which could be unappealing to a buyer.

Make small upgrades

Don’t go overboard on major remodels. Chances are, you won’t get your money back. Instead, focus on small upgrades, particularly in the kitchen and bathroom, where you’re most likely to see a return on investment. A new sink and cabinet hardware in the kitchen, or light fixtures, shower curtains and hand towels in the bathroom, are inexpensive but can instantly transform your space. Rather than splurging $30,000 on a full kitchen remodel, get rid of your unmatched old appliances and spend $3,500 on a new stainless-steel appliance suite. Small upgrades can have a big impact.

Light it up

A dark or poorly lit home feels damp and depressing. Brighten it up by using natural and artificial light. Get the highest wattage light bulb for that light fixture, and it will instantly brighten up the room, and when you leave for showings, turn on the lights and open curtains and blinds. A fresh coat of paint also can brighten a room. A deep cleaning also will help brighten baseboards, windows, and light fixtures.

Amp up the curb appeal

Your home’s exterior is typically the first thing a buyer sees in person and on listing sites. If it doesn’t look good, a buyer won’t even consider looking at the interior shots. Tidy up your yard by trimming and shaping hedges, refreshing mulch and edging the lawn. Consider pressure-washing your house, walkways and driveway, or even adding a fresh coat of paint to your trim and shutters. Everything matters—even things as small as the brass on your front door. Polish the kick-plate and doorknob, and clean any cobwebs or bird droppings off your front porch. Flowers, particularly near the entryway, add a hint of color, making your home feel alive and inviting.

Sell at the right time

Spring and summer are typically known as the best time to sell your home. If you can wait until then to list, you should consider it. But be forewarned that increased inventory means spring and summer buyers can afford to be pickier—so make sure your home is in tip-top shape. You also need to price your house just right. Just because you want to sell for a certain amount doesn’t mean your home is worth your magic number. Do your own research about area comps, get listing price suggestions from a couple of agents and then listen to your agent when it comes to negotiating.

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BABY BOOMERS POISED TO INFLUENCE THE HOUSING MARKET

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Baby-Boomers-Poised-to-Influence-the-Housing-Market-240x170Whether they decide to move from their current homes or age in place, the decisions baby boomers and other older homeowners make during the next few years could significantly impact the single-family housing market. Today, baby boomers and other homeowners age 55 and older control almost two-third (or about $8 trillion) of the nation’s home equity. There also are more than 67 million 55-plus homeowners.

The new “Freddie Mac 55+ Survey”—which polled 4,900 homeowners born before 1961 regarding their current housing situations, plans and willingness to help their grown children become homeowners —found that this generation has the potential to generate significant new demand for mortgage credit and to tighten home-buying competition, especially for millennials and other first-time home buyers.

Here are some of the survey’s key findings:

• Consistent majorities said they are “very satisfied” with their current homes (64 percent), their communities (59 percent) and quality of life (54 percent). Nearly 90 percent of the respondents said people their age should own a home.

• Seventy-six percent of homeowners were confident they would have a comfortable retirement. These feelings were echoed across racial lines and shared by 55-plus homeowners who are still working, as well as retirees, and the 44 percent of homeowners surveyed had a mortgage.

• Consistent majorities said homeownership makes financial sense for married people with children (96 percent) and without children (85 percent), as well as single people with children (79 percent) and without children (53 percent). Almost 25 percent of the respondents also said they have offered down payment assistance to someone.

• This works out to an estimated 42 million homeowners who don’t plan to move. About a quarter (23 percent) indicated they would need major renovations to keep their homes accessible and a third (34 percent) would pay for improvements by refinancing their mortgage or taking out a second loan or home equity line of credit.

• Although movers were in the minority, it was a big minority. According to the survey, almost 40 percent of all 55-plus homeowners said they would like to move at least once more if they had complete control over it. This isn’t just about downsizing to a rental or nursing home; 19 million planned to buy a home and nearly 8 million expected to move within the next four years. Half of the 19 million likely movers also expected to buy less expensive homes.

SPRING USHERS IN ROBUST HOME MARKET

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Spring-Ushers-in-Robust-Home-Market-240x170This spring’s real estate market is coming in strong. New data released by realtor.com shows that homes in May are moving off the market at the fastest pace seen since the housing recovery began, despite record-high asking prices.

Based on realtor.com’s preliminary findings, homes spent a median of 65 days on the market in May—the same length of time as a year ago and three days quicker than April. The median home was listed at $250,000—9 percent higher than a year ago and 2 percent higher than the past month. For-sale housing inventory also has continued to increase on a monthly basis, but remains lower than a year ago.

Meanwhile, more than 550,000 listings have been added to the market to date in May (a 4 percent increase), but the level of inventory remains 4 percent lower than a year ago. Site traffic data on realtor.com shows a 30 percent growth in searches for homes for sale, compared with May 2015.

“Pent-up demand and low mortgage rates are driving consumers into the market with urgency,” says realtor.com Chief Economist Jonathan Smoke in a statement. “However, the recurring issue of limited supply is leading to higher prices.”

Thankfully, Smoke adds, gains in new single-family construction and new home sales are providing a pressure release. “Potential buyers are finding they can avoid a competitive bid situation if they elect to sign a contract on a home to be built,” he says. “As the share of new homes sold goes up, we should eventually see signs of more balance in the existing home market, like lower price appreciation. However, we clearly aren’t there yet.”

Here is a snapshot of the realtor.com’s May data:

• Median age of inventory is estimated to end at 65 days, the same as May 2015 and down 4 percent from April.

• Median listing price for May should reach a record high of $250,000—a 9 percent increase year over year and a 2 percent increase month over month.

• Listing inventory in May is showing a 4 percent increase over April. However, inventory decreased 4 percent year over year.

WILL ZERO-ENERGY HOMES ALTER THE FUTURE OF REAL ESTATE?

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Zero-Energy-Homes-240x170There’s been a lot of buzz recently about the zero-energy building trend, especially in California, which recently mandated that all new residential buildings must be built to zero-net energy specifications by 2020. If you’re not up-to-speed with the zero-energy building concept — relying on a home’s extraordinary energy conservation and on-site renewable energy to meet heating, cooling and energy needs — here is some info from RIS Media on what you can expect to see when builders start taking green homes to a whole new level:

• These high-performance homes will produce as much energy as they consume by incorporating a photovoltaic system (a linked collection of solar panels) — or other renewables — into the mix. With the majority of these homes still connected to the grid, any excess energy that’s accumulated throughout the day is fed back to the grid, so it can be used at night or on cloudy days.

• Not only are zero-energy homes designed and built as energy-efficiently as possible, residents can look forward to zero energy bills — other than the monthly fee required to connect to the grid — and zero carbon emissions.

• While zero-energy homes look like any other home from the outside, their exterior walls tend to be thicker than those found in traditional homes. They also incorporate heating and cooling systems that are a lot more efficient than typical systems, affording homeowners the luxuries they would expect in a home today.

DISPELLING THE MYTH ABOUT MILLENNIALS AND HOMEOWNERSHIP

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mythaboutmillenialsandhomeownership-240x170“The American Dream of homeownership is as strong today as ever.” That’s the belief of HUD Secretary Julián Castro, who in a May 10 address at the National Association of Realtors’ Regulatory Issues Forum said millennials are just as committed to homeownership as their parents and grandparents.

Despite a widespread impression that members of the younger generation are not interested in owning a home, Castro noted a recent survey by TD Bank that found 40 percent of millennials are planning on buying their first homes during the next year.

Student loan debt has been the main obstacle to millennials buying a home, Castro said. About 40 million Americans have some amount of student loan debt and about 70 percent of students graduate with student loan debt, with the average amount of debt at graduation spiking by 56 percent from 2004-2014. The increase has been so great that it has caused many parents and grandparents of millennials to shoulder that debt, with 20 percent of millennials now providing some type of financial assistance to their parents and grandparents.

But things are beginning to improve, Castro said. The number of student-loan delinquencies is declining, and economic improvements have resulted in the creation of 14.5 million jobs during the past 74 months. The average hourly wage also has risen 14 cents in March and April, and the current unemployment rate of 5 percent is the lowest it has been post-recession.

The housing market is a part of the nation’s overall economic strength, he added. “Real residential investment has grown by more than 8 percent for six straight quarters, highlighting the housing sector’s solid, steady recovery,” Castro said. “In fact, growth in residential investment has substantially outpaced growth in overall GDP.”

Castro noted that 1.3 million families have taken advantage of the FHA’s lower mortgage insurance premiums since the association sliced its premium by 50 basis points in January 2015. The immediate result of the mortgage insurance premium cut was a 27-percent increase in the number of home loans endorsed by the FHA from 2014-2015 (up to 753,000), with many of these loans being secured by first-time homebuyers.

THE NEW DEFINITION OF SUBURBS

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newsuburbs-240x170A generation ago, the American dream was based in the suburbs. After an economic downturn and a housing crash, the upcoming generations have their own version of the American dream, and it looks decidedly more urban.

In fact, while more people are moving back to cities in search of better jobs and more conveniences, suburbs have been struggling to survive. That is why more suburbs are turning to urbanization to revitalize their communities.

This process of urbanization is taking place across the country from New Rochelle, New York, to San Ramon, California. These suburbs have lost a lot of residents in recent years, leading to structural decay and economic stagnancy. To combat dwindling population numbers, these suburbs have changed the community focus. Shopping malls are being exchanged for office buildings. High rise buildings are replacing empty storefronts, combining commercial space with apartments.

More commercial development attracts businesses, which is critical in a time when workers are in desperate need of jobs. By including downtown living space, these communities can appeal to younger workers, who have an interest in keeping their lives simple. Smaller apartments are not only more affordable, but they give these young people more flexibility while they get their financial standing.

This urbanization is still a relatively new phenomenon so it is impossible to say how long it will last or how successful it will be. However, as society continues to evolve, this new definition of the suburb may still be part of the American dream after all.

SIX THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN BUYING AN INSURANCE POLICY FOR YOUR HOME

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6thingstoconsider-240x170As you begin the journey of homeownership, you’ll need to take steps to insure it as buying a home is a major investment. To make sure that you get the best protection for your home, consider the following six policy suggestions.

Your Home’s Location

Before agreeing to an insurance policy, assess your home’s surrounding area for potential discounts. For instance, if your house is near a constantly staffed fire department that is also highly rated, you could negotiate a policy discount with your insurance company.

When to Get Extra Protection 

If your new home comes with awesome amenities like a swimming pool and a hot tub, then consider kicking your liability insurance up a notch. This will protect you if someone suffers a serious injury on your property.

Claim History 

Check your home’s claim history because it could affect your homeowner’s insurance rates. When you buy a home that has had a claim filed for it during the past five years, your policy rates will probably be a little higher.

Embrace Earthquake Coverage 

California residents aren’t alone in their need for earthquake insurance. Other states also suffer from the natural disaster. In fact, at least 39 states experience earthquake tremors. Traditional home insurance policies generally don’t cover earthquake damage. Upgrade your policy to include it.

Is Flooding a Possibility?

Even if you don’t live in a flood zone, consider adding protection for it to your policy. According to reports, 90 percent of the nation’s natural disasters involve flooding, so protect your investment.

Take on a High Deductible 

If you take on a higher deductible, then your insurance company will reward you for it with lower policy rates. Since most people only file an insurance claim once every eight to 10 years, you’ll likely save more in the long run with lower yearly rates.

Insuring a Valuable Asset 

Homeowner’s insurance provides protection for one of your most valuable assets. When choosing a policy, be sure to compare the rates, coverage options and deductibles of several different insurers.

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