Friday, June 22, 2018

6 Essential Home Fixes Before Selling


6 Essential Home Fixes Before SellingNot every buyer may want a fixer-upper. While your home for sale doesn’t need to be turn-key or move-in-ready, there are certain fixes that are important to many buyers and that can help make the sale.

1. Landscaping

It all starts with curb appeal. Landscaping helps set the mood and makes the first impression. It can be worth the time and money to replace missing mulch, pavers, or rock. Remove dead plants and shrubbery. Trim bushes and prune trees, especially lower limbs that hang over walkways or brush too close to the house. Add pops of color with planters and healthy blooming, flowers.

2. Exterior Spruce-Up

Curb appeal continues with the exterior of the home. If the paint is faded, cracked, and peeling, consider a fresh coat. Replace broken or missing pieces of siding and repair stucco. Walk around the perimeter and check for windows with cracks or wood rot; these may need to be professionally repaired/replaced, but may add value when selling the home.

3. Update Lighting

Buyers appreciate a bright, cheerful home when doing a walk-through. Before placing the home on the market, update the interior lighting where needed. This may be as simple as replacing old bulbs and thoroughly cleaning domes and other coverings. Consider changing an out-of-date single light over the kitchen island to stylish pendant lights. Another easy update, are new switch and outlet covers.

4. Kitchen Make-Over

For many sellers a full kitchen renovation isn't in the budget and may not offer enough return-on-investment. Instead, opt for a kitchen make-over:
  • Fresh paint on the walls
  • Replace an old, tired backsplash with new subway-style or mosaic tiles
  • Reface the cabinets, typically costs less than replacing
  • Update cracked, stained countertops with new
If the cabinets are in good shape, but you want to give them a quick and easy update, change out the hardware. New hinges and handles can give the cabinets a whole new look.

5. Bathroom Refresh

Deep clean the bathrooms. Give them a refresh to impress buyers by steam-cleaning tiles, regrouting, repainting, and updating light fixtures. Add bulbs with a brighter wattage and replace any missing/broken towel holders. Even replacing a worn-out shower curtain can make a difference in the overall feel of the room.

6. Flooring

Look at low-cost options for updating floors before the first buyer takes a tour. From high-end laminate to stylish wood plank tiles, it can be worth the time and effort to replace carpeting. Older homes may have hardwood just waiting to be discovered underneath the carpets. If this is your home, consider having those original wood floors restored to add value when selling.

Beyond clearing the clutter, deep-cleaning, and organizing to maximize the space, keep in mind these six essential home fixes before listing your home for sale.

Your trusted real estate professional will have even more advice to get your home in tip-top selling shape. If you are thinking about putting your home on the market, make contact today!

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Guide To Buying An A-Frame House

Guide To Buying An A-Frame HouseA-Frame houses have spiked in popularity over the last couple of years. These adorable homes can be quirky or sleek and modern. They are shaped like a triangle -- hence the name. A-Frame houses are shaped like the letter A. The walls begin near the foundation and slope upwards in a slant. The walls meet at the top to form a triangle or A-shape.

A-Frame houses are popular all over the United States. They are ideal for second or vacation homes. The big windows make them especially popular in very picturesque locales. This feature allows homeowners to enjoy fabulous views of the ocean, mountains or countryside.

Characteristics Of An A-Frame House 

A-Frame houses have very specific characteristics. Here are some of the features of an A-Frame house:
  • Open floor plan
  • Loft space
  • Large windows
  • Wood siding
  • High interior ceilings
  • Gables in the back and front
Benefits Of An A-Frame House 

Many buyers love A-Frame houses for several reasons. They have large windows, which allows plenty of natural light to enter the home. The large windows also make them ideal for scenic views.

A-Frame homes are also quite inexpensive and straightforward, which is another reason that they are prevalent vacation homes.

Who are A-Frame Homes Ideal for? 

Many outdoor types of families love A-Frame houses because they are ideal for beautiful natural settings. A-Frame homes are also ideal for buyers looking for a vacation home in a pretty location. They are also great for investors or first-time home buyers.

If you are looking to buy in a prime waterfront location, you might consider an A-Frame house, as well. They are perfect for buyers wanting to build a private escape on a couple of acres of land.

Who Should Not Buy An A-Frame Home? 

A-Frame homes aren't for everyone. While they are an excellent option for first-time home buyers or buyers looking for a vacation property, they are not ideal for all buyers.

For example, buyers in Florida would be better served looking for a different type of home. A-Frames may not be suitable in some climates since they are constructed with wood. This fact makes them potentially more susceptible to storm and termite damage.

Also, A-Frame homes are probably not ideal for larger families that need a lot of storage space. A-Frame houses typically have limited storage space because of the shape of the roof.

Contact your trusted real estate for updates on what unique and interesting properties are available in your area.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

House Hunting When You Are In A Time Crunch

House Hunting When You Are In A Time CrunchIn an ideal world, you'd have plenty of time to find the perfect home. However, that does not always happen. Maybe you are relocating because of a job transfer. Fortunately, it doesn't have to take months to find the perfect home. You can speed up the process of buying a home utilizing some tried and true tips.

Here are some of the best ways to speed up the house buying process.

Find An Experienced Real Estate Agent 

An experienced agent likely has an extensive network and many connections. They might know what properties are coming on the market before anyone else does. They can also help you assemble a great team of real estate professionals such as a mortgage banker and real estate attorney.

Get A Mortgage Pre-Approval 

Obtaining a home loan is a long process that requires a lot of paperwork. You can speed up the process by getting pre-approved before looking for homes. You'll need to gather some paperwork for pre-approval including bank statements, tax returns and information about your debt. Have all of these things ready when you talk with the mortgage loan officer.

Having a pre-approval letter also demonstrates to sellers that you are serious about buying. They might be more likely to respond quickly to your offer if they feel that the deal will go through.

Make A List Of Things That You Must Have 

If you are in a hurry to buy a home, you don't want to waste time looking at houses that won't meet your needs. So, before doing any online research, make a list of things of your must-have amenities. Zeroing on the things that you must have will help keep you focused on properties that are right for you.

Search Areas That Have A lot of Inventory 

Don't waste time looking at communities that don't have much inventory. The real estate market will be a lot more competitive. Instead, try choosing areas that meet your needs as far as easy access to your work, quality of the school and so forth. Make sure that they have plenty of inventory available. You might have to hunt in surrounding neighborhoods to find something quickly.

Be Available to Act Quickly 

If you want to close quickly, you must be available to act as soon as an offer is accepted. It is essential to be available anytime to get in touch with your agent, respond to counter-offers and answer questions. Provide your agent with multiple ways to reach you -- by phone, email or text.

Contact your trusted real estate professional today to help you with these tips and many more to make your new home purchase as hassle-free and timely as possible.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Rebuilding Costs: Rethinking How Much Homeowners Insurance You Really Need

Rebuilding Costs Rethinking How Much Homeowners Insurance You Really NeedBuying a home comes with numerous financial planning obligations. It's far from a turn-key operation and one of the significant challenges involves developing a working knowledge about things often outside your area of expertise.

For example, working as an educator, police officer, investment banker or office staffer does not necessarily make you an expert about home repairs or insurance coverage. Yet, the average homeowner is tasked with carrying a certain level of homeowners insurance coverage without a strong working knowledge.

Many homeowners just purchase enough insurance to cover the purchase price or take the advice of others. Both of those methods could prove wildly deficient

Rethinking Total Replacement Costs

A distinct difference exists between a home's purchase price, assessed value and total replacement costs. Let that idea sink in a minute. What you paid for your home and it's assessed value have zero to do with what it would cost to rebuild in the event of a total loss!

If you based your homeowners coverage on purchase price or estimated value, the word that comes to mind is "Yikes." Here's why.

Construction costs are based on prevailing market prices that include building materials and labor costs. These vary from region to region and can pique do to materials shortages and shifting prevailing wages. National home-building averages run anywhere from $117 to $125 per square foot. But even as you read this article, that could change.

Beyond the fundamentals of calculating home construction costs on a square-foot basis, consider that rebuilding your home means that some type of catastrophe occurred. Whether that was a hurricane, tornado, flooding, fire or another disaster, there will likely be cleanup costs.

Before starting new construction, the damaged property will likely need to be razed and damaged materials removed. That comes at a cost.

Building permits and licenses will come at an additional cost. An architectural blueprint and design may need to be secured and that also comes at a cost. The permitting process can be challenging and that could result in you having to rent a temporary residence while your home is rebuilt. Obviously, there are plenty of unforeseen expenses.

Specialty Building Costs

Although average building costs per square foot are a viable standard measure, many homes enjoy specialty items.

Consider that you own a home built decades ago. The high-quality building materials used in construction may be considered specialty items today. They may inevitably be far more expensive than common building materials. If you want the home fully restored, that could cost more than the estimated average.

Accents such as rounded archways or plank-board floors are also more expensive to replace than many average materials. Those are all considerations that need to be tallied when insuring a home.

How To Recalculate Homeowners Insurance

Take the time to calculate the square footage of your home against average construction costs in your area. Factor in specialty items, permitting, razing and other potential hidden costs. Add 10-20 percent. According to some insurance experts, the average home is underinsured by upwards of 22 percent. After the carrier has paid out the coverage limit, overages could become out-of-pocket expenses.

Don't hesitate to consult with a reputable home builder or insurance expert. Full coverage means accurately accounting for all of the rebuilding costs.

Contact your trusted real estate professional to inquire about current home construction costs, referrals to an insurance agent and more.

Monday, June 18, 2018

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - June 18th, 2018

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – June 18th, 2018Last week's economic reports included the post-meeting statement by the Fed's Federal Open Market Committee along with readings on retail sales and inflation. Weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims were also released.

Fed Raises Key Interest Rate on Strong Economic Indicators

The post-meeting announcement by the Federal Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve indicated that committee members voted to raise the target federal funds rate to 0.175 to 2.00 percent from the prior rate of 1.50 to 1.75 percent.

The post-meeting announcement cited strong economic conditions and stated that FOMC had altered their outlook from three rate increases in 2018 to four increases. This news is significant to consumers as banks and credit card companies typically raise lending rates in response to Federal Reserve actions.

Committee members were closely divided on interest rate forecasts for 2018. Eight members said that the Fed rate would likely increase four times in 2018 while seven members said three rate increases would be appropriate. The post-meeting statement also cited concerns over inflation and Fed Chair Jerome Powell said that raising interest rates too fast could increase the risk of recession.

Consumer Price Index, Retail Sales Rise in May

The Consumer Price Index rose from 0.10 percent in April to 0.20 percent in May according to the Commerce Department. The Core CPI, which excludes volatile food and fuel sectors, was unchanged at 0.20 percent against expectations of 0.20 percent growth and 0.20 percent in April.

Retail sales rose 0.80 percent in May as compared to expectations of 0.40 percent growth and April's growth rate of 0.40 percent. Retail sales excluding the automotive sector rose 0.90 percent in May; analysts expected a reading of 0.50 percent based on April's reading of 0.40 percent growth.

Mortgage Rates Rise, New Jobless claims Fall

Freddie Mac reported higher mortgage rates last week. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage averaged eight basis points higher at 4.60 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage rose six basis points to 4.07 percent.

Rates for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage were nine basis points higher at 3.83 percent on average. Freddie Mac analysts said that demand for homes is holding steady despite higher mortgage rates.

First-time jobless claims fell by 4,000 new claims to 218,000 new claims filed. Analysts expected 225,000 new claims to be filed based on the prior week's reading of 222,000 new jobless claims filed.

What's Ahead

This week's scheduled economic reports include NAHB Housing Market Indices, Commerce Department readings on housing starts and building permits issued and National Association of Realtors® reports on sales of previously-owned homes. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Is It A Good Idea To Buy A Remodeled Home?


Is It A Good Idea To Buy A Remodeled Home?Are you considering buying a flipped house? Here are some ways to tell if it is a good idea or not.

If you watch popular TV shows like Property Brothers, Flip or Flop and Fixer Upper, you might believe that buying a remodeled home is a great idea. These shows always have happy endings. The process looks fun and easy, and the houses turn out beautiful. However, it is rarely this easy when buying a real-life remodeled home.

There are plenty of flipped houses that turn out to have significant problems. Contractors who do remodels sometimes rush through the job. This can lead to subpar work. While the house might look beautiful initially, problems could start to show up months later.

A flipped house can be a great deal. However, it pays to do your homework before buying one. Maintain a skeptical eye when touring the home. If you notice any of these things, move on.

Unpermitted Work

If you live in a full-disclosure state like Texas, you are in luck. Sellers are required to disclose to buyers everything that they know about the house. This should make it easy to get a list of the work that the flipper completed.

Even if you don't live in a state that requires full disclosure, still ask for a list of work. After you have a list of the upgrades, check for permits. Most larger remodeling projects need a permit.

Avoid a remodeled home that has had unpermitted upgrades. There is a chance that it is not up to code. Aside from being a safety risk, unpermitted work can make it harder to get financing or insurance on a home.

A Flipper With A Bad Reputation

Before making an offer on a rehabbed home, ask who did the work. Learn everything you can about the person or company. Are they known for doing high-quality work?

Flippers that have solid reputations want happy customers. Most want to avoid legal issues later, which could ruin their reputation and damage their business. So, they will usually ensure that the work is up to standard.

Avoid flippers or contractors that are not well known. Many move on to the next town after the job is over and so don't care if they leave behind unhappy customers as they won't be around.

A Failed Inspection

Beautiful hardwood floors, countertops and shiny new kitchen appliances might make a house look like it was just built. However, most flipped houses hide a dark history. Many remodeled homes have had a substantial lack of maintenance and were in a state of significant disrepair before being flipped.

Some contractors cover up problems rather than do the extensive work needed. Therefore, it pays to have the home inspected. A good home inspector will be more likely to spot things that an average homeowner might miss.

Your trusted real estate agent can help you navigate through a sea of new or remodeled properties to find the best fit for you.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

5 Inexpensive Ways To Boost Your Curb Appeal

5 Inexpensive Ways To Boost Your Curb AppealIt's no secret that we're in the midst of a hot seller's real estate market. That means that good homes are going fast, usually at or above list price. This is largely the result of low inventory, where good homes are scarce, keeping competition for them - and listing prices - high.

Bottom line: If you've been thinking about selling your home, there's no time like the present. But before you put your home on the market, it pays to put some work into it to make it more attractive to potential buyers - and while it's the interior that often leads to the eventual offer, it's the exterior that first has to hook the potential buyer and capture their interest.

With that said, here's a look at five simple, inexpensive ways you can boost your home's curb appeal:

Paint The Front Door

Being that the front door is often the first thing that people see when accessing your property, painting it in a bold color can really help make it stand out. Just be sure that the color complements the house facade and doesn't clash with it.

Pressure Wash Your Siding/Brick

Siding, especially siding that is light in color, can get dirty over time. What's more is that it can often bleed its color onto any brick that is located below it. The good news is that for about $50 you can rent a pressure washer and give your siding and brick a good thorough cleaning. You may be surprised at how nice it looks afterwards.

Upgrade Your Mailbox

While the mailbox may seem like a big project, you can actually purchase a nice new one for only about $20. So if your home's current mailbox is rusted, dented or just doesn't complement the overall look of the house, buying and installing a new one certainly won't break the bank.

Flower Boxes

Is your front porch a little bland and in need of some color? If so, then flower boxes are a great way to do it. Put these in the windows or along the bottom of the front porch, and be sure to pick out some flowers that really pack some oomph when it comes to noticing and appreciating the house.

New House Numbers

A nice house number won't just make it easier for potential buyers to find your home, but if it's done the right way it can greatly enhance its exterior. There are many different finishes and styles you can choose from for this, and they're all fairly inexpensive.

For more information on some affordable ways to give your home a boost in curb appeal, contact your real estate agent today.