Our Real Estate blog offers, tips, tricks and advice covering a wide range of topics to help educate buyers and sellers.

 

 
Sept. 28, 2018

Jumbo Loans for First Time Buyers

south bay home buying

Home buying in Manhattan Beach, Redondo Beach, Hermosa Beach, Torrance, Hawthorne, and Rancho Palos Verdes can get costly. You may have to take out a loan and not just any loan, a jumbo loan. But what if you are a first time buyer? Living in an expensive housing marketing may cause first time buyers some struggle to find a home under the Jumbo Loan threshold.

What is a Jumbo Loan?

For 2018 the threshold for non jumbo loans is $679,650. Anything over that and you are now in jumbo loan territory. These non conforming loans are not guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Meaning the risk is higher for lenders and they often have more requirements. The bright side is this means you can borrow as much as your lender is willing to loan you.

First Time Buyer Loans

Typically a lender will ask for 20% down on a jumbo loan to purchase that Manhattan Beach home you have been eyeing. This isn't a standard though, some applicants will find lenders who require less than 20% down. Some tips to qualify for a jumbo loan with less money down.

  1. Have a credit score of 720 or higher. Lenders view your credit score as a "report card" rewarding higher scores with higher limits and better rates,

  2. Build your assets.  Affluent buyers can buy homes with 0% down buy using their assets as collateral against 20-40% of the loan value. You can typically find these loans through the bank holding your assets.
  3. Build your liquid assets. The best jumbo loans are for 65% of a homes value or less. That means you will need to make a down payment of 35% or more. You could also seek a second position loan to bring down the loan-to-value.
  4. Set aside a reserve.  Buying a home is costly. Especially after the purchase. Home buyers find themselves having to pay a mortgage and wanting to do upgrades, remodels and in some cases pay an HOA fee.
  5. Compare your lenders. Some lenders are more reserved while others are more aggressive. Some will not offer a jumbo loan to a first time buyer at all, making your great score even more critical. Do not be afraid to seek a better rate/terms.

 

South Bay Home Buying

 

We have amassed thousands of home sales. With the South Bay real estate market climbing we see home values climbing all across Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach, and Redondo Beach. We have great relationships with our lenders and are happy to offer our assistance to help you not only get the best loan but the best purchase price for your home.

 

 

Posted in Buying, Market Forcast
Sept. 17, 2018

The Worst Mistake You Can Make Before Selling Your Home

 

 

The Worst Mistake You Can Make Before Selling Your Home

 

 

 

When it comes time to put your home on the market, getting the place in the best condition possible can help you bring in top dollar (especially in Manhattan Beach, Redondo Beach, Hermosa Beach, and all of the red hot South Bay real estate market). However, that involves spending money on contractors, painters and other professionals. You can try to tackle some of the projects yourself, but unless your do-it-yourself skills are fairly advanced, most experts agree that this is one of the biggest mistakes a home seller can make. After all, you could wind up making things worse and have to shell out even more money down the road. Here, Realtor.com offers some DIYs to avoid when preparing to sell your home to help you separate the tasks you can tackle from those best left to the pros.

 

 

 

Drywall repair

 

Have rooms that need a fresh coat of paint? Go for it. But if you have cracks in the drywall from a shifting foundation or a little depression from years of doorknob slams, it’s worth it to hire a pro. It’s a good idea to hire someone to fix plaster or drywall. If you don’t get the texture just right when painting the wall, the repair will stick out like a sore thumb. You don’t want your “fix” to look worse than the original problem. Contract out the drywall repair, then DIY the paint job afterward.

 

 

 

HVAC

 

Never mess with anything inside an HVAC. The heating and cooling systems in your house are complex, and often connected to both electrical and gas. Making a mistake could mean blowing out the entire system, setting you up for a much more expensive repair in the end. Potential buyers also will ask their inspector go over the HVAC as thoroughly as possible. Even something relatively simple, such as installing a smart thermostat, can destroy your wiring if done incorrectly. When it comes to your heating and AC, approach with caution.

 

 

 

Dishwasher installation

 

Installing a new dishwasher is complicated compared with putting in a refrigerator, stove, or washer and dryer (usually a simple DIY task). Complexities involved with setup include the installation of water and drainage lines under the kitchen sink cabinet, which is best handled by a professional. Doing the job wrong could mean flooding your kitchen, which will ruin the floors and more. Most big-box stores offer installation for a fairly reasonable price if you’re buying a new unit, or a plumber can handle it for $150 to $500.

 

 

 

Tree removal

 

Digging around the roots of a tree can be difficult. It also can be dangerous, especially if you don’t have the tools professionals would use to remove the upper part of the tree before taking out the stump. Don’t be that person who puts a tree through your own roof because you decided not to hire a tree-removal professional.

 

 

 

Siding and window fixes

 

Heed caution when considering DIY siding or window replacement. Water can seep into the walls if you don’t reseal the layers properly, and although it might not be noticeable at first, mold and water damage will start to appear down the line. That could wind up costing you a lawsuit.

 

 

 

Advanced electrical

 

While it could be fine to replace a light fixture or ceiling fan yourself, experts draw the line at any electrical work involving the breaker box. Not only could you hurt yourself, but you also could create a fire hazard, especially if your home isn’t new. Older homes usually don’t have safety devices, such as ground fault circuit interrupters, which makes it especially dangerous. If a task involves running new wires or repairing faulty wiring, it should be left to a professional. Aside from the risk of fire or injury, serious electrical work completed by an unlicensed electrician could have code problems, meaning you likely will get a thumbs-down from the inspector later anyway.

 

 

 

Roof repairs

 

Be cautious…even if it’s just a little fix that the average DIYer could easily handle (such as hammering down a shingle or two, or replacing chimney pipe roof flashing). It’s very easy to get disoriented, especially on a peaked roof. Even professional roofers always use a harness in case of falls.

 

 

 

Plumbing

 

Repairing a running toilet or snaking a slow drain are fairly easy to do. The problem with attempting bigger DIY plumbing tasks, however, is that you often don’t quite know what you’re getting into. For example, disassembling leaky or blocked pipes underneath the sink seems simple enough, but pipes are complex and tricky to reassemble. That’s especially the case when they’re close to other plumbing components and machinery, such as dishwashers or garbage disposals. Note: What might appear to be a straightforward problem, such as low water pressure or a fractured pipe, actually could be a symptom of a larger issue with your system. Plumbing has a way of getting out of hand with broken pipes and flooding, for instance.

 

Fill out the form below to have one of our Real Estate Advisors contact you before you list your home. Our consultation is free and we can help advise you on the best way to get the most return on your home! We have amassed hundreds of sales in the South Bay and our reviews speak for themselves (we are Hermosa Beach, Redondo Beach, and Manhattan Beach experts!)

 

Posted in Selling
Sept. 12, 2018

How to Pick the Right "Fixer Upper"

 

 

How to Pick the Right "Fixer Upper"

 

 

 

Renovating a fixer-upper takes money, hard work and patience. If you’re able to pull off a successful transformation, you’ll reap the benefits. Keep in mind, however, that unforeseen problems could surface along the way that might make your fixer-upper a money pit. Here are the features and characteristics you should look for in a fixer-upper that will make the renovation go much more smoothly.

 

 

 

Strong structural elements?

 

A solid structure is critical when you’re buying a fixer-upper. If the home has a crumbling foundation or serious roof problems, you’ll have to decide if you’re willing to pay to repair this type of damage. The five important structural elements include the roof; heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC); plumbing; electrical; and foundation. To get a good idea of the house’s structure, explore the basement, attic and unfinished areas. Focus on those areas rather than the pretty, recent additions to the home.

 

 

 

Minor plumbing problems?

 

Your fixer-upper could need plumbing work. Depending on the scope of the project, the work will be either a quick fix or a significant undertaking that will eat into your budget. Some fixer-uppers may have low water pressure (fairly minor problem), while others may have pipes that need to be replaced (a big problem). Before buying a fixer-upper, make sure you’re comfortable with the amount of plumbing work that will be required.

 

 

 

A sound layout?

 

A logical layout is important when looking at an old home. Older homes often are divided into small rooms, while many people searching for a home these days are seeking an open floor plan where there is no separation between the zones of the house. If you envision needing to knock down walls to create a more open, airy interior, know that the job can be expensive and time-consuming.

 

 

 

Little to no infestations?

 

It’s not uncommon to encounter a fixer-upper with an infestation, whether it’s mice, termites, mold, dry rot or asbestos. A minor issue such as mice can be resolved by putting out traps and filling holes in the house. However, severe termite damage could require a costly solution, including lifting the house off of the ground to access the foundation and check for further damage. A seller is required to disclose such infestations, but a home inspector also will uncover any issues during the inspection that may occur after the house goes under contract. If you find any of these problems in your fixer-upper, it’s a good idea to get an estimate from a contractor to resolve the issue.

 

 

 

Recent occupation?

 

Although buying a foreclosed home that has sat unused for several few years might get you a low sales price, it also could present a challenge when you begin renovations. Homes that are empty for an extended time could have plumbing issues. If the water wasn’t turned off properly in the winter, for example, it could cause the pipes to freeze, split and leak. It also could become a refuge for animals, such as squirrels and bats. All of these problems can be fixed, but they add more to your bottom-line costs.

 

Need help identifying the right fixer-upper? Fill out the form below to have one of our Real Estate Advisors assist you!

 

Sept. 10, 2018

What is a 1031 Exchange: Real Estate Investing Tips to Consider For Your 2019 Tax Benefit

1031 exchange

This year the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act demolished the 1031 exchange tax deferment benefit of personal property. This means that personal property (primary residences, vacation homes, artwork and collectibles) are no longer deferable. 

The change caused initial confusion about how the IRS would handle the exchange of properties such as: office buildings, warehouses, and self storage facilities. To the relief of Real Estate Investors, Congress retained the 1031 benefit for real property, how ever this does not grant the ability to swap properties at will.

 

Why Use a 1031 Exchange?

As an investor, there are a number of reasons why you may consider utilizing a 1031 exchange. Some of those reasons include:

- You may be seeking a property that has better return prospects or may wish to diversify assets.

- If you are the owner of investment real estate, you might be looking for a managed property rather than managing one yourself.

- You might want to consolidate several properties into one, for purposes of estate planning, for example, or you might want to divide a single property into several assets.

- Reset the depreciation clock.

The main benefit of carrying out a 1031 exchange rather than simply selling one property and buying another is the tax deferral. A 1031 exchange allows you to defer capital gains tax, thus freeing more capital for investment in the replacement property.

It’s important to keep in mind, though, that a 1031 exchange may require a comparatively high minimum investment and holding time. This makes these transactions more ideal for individuals with a higher net worth. And, due to their complexity, 1031 exchange transactions should be handled by professionals.

 

What Is Depreciation and Why Is It Important to a 1031 Exchange?

Depreciation is an essential concept for understanding the true benefits of a 1031 exchange.

Depreciation is the percentage of the cost of an investment property that is written off every year, recognizing the effects of wear and tear. When a property is sold, capital gains taxes are calculated based on the property’s net-adjusted basis, which reflects the property’s original purchase price, plus capital improvements minus depreciation.

If a property sells for more than its depreciated value, you may have to recapture the depreciation. That means the amount of depreciation will be included in your taxable income from the sale of the property.

Since the size of the depreciation recaptured increases with time, you may be motivated to engage in a 1031 exchange to avoid the large increase in taxable income that depreciation recapture would cause later on. Depreciation recapture will be a factor to account for when calculating the value of any 1031 exchange transaction—it is only a matter of degree.

What is a Like-Kind Exchange

 

You must reinvest in a similar property through a "like-kind exchange." Like-kind property is property of the same nature, character or class. Quality or grade does not matter. Most real estate will be like-kind to other real estate.

 

Rules of a 1031 Exchange

One should consult with their CPA or financial advisor to understand the benefits of a 1031 exchange. To reap these financial benefits you need to identify the Like-Kind replacement property within 45 days in writing. This is crucial and does not lock you into one property. When searching for the replacement property it is common to write several letters of intent to acquire the property. You then have 180 days from when you closed escrow on the sale of your property to complete the exchange.

 

1031 and Estate Planning

 

One of the major benefits of participating in a 1031 exchange is that you can take that tax deferment with you to the grave. If your heirs inherit property received through a 1031 exchange, its value is “stepped up” to fair market, which wipes out the tax deferment debt.

This means that if you die without having sold the property obtained through a 1031 exchange, the heirs receive it at the stepped up market rate value, and all deferred taxes are erased. An estate planner should be consulted to take maximum advantage of this opportunity. Tenancy in common can be used to structure assets in accordance with your wishes for their distribution after death.

Thinking about selling? Fill out the contact card below to have one of our expert Real Estate Advisors call you for a free 1031 exchange consultation!

 

 

 

Posted in Selling
Sept. 6, 2018

5 Tactics Real Estate Agents Use to Buy Their Own Homes

424 2nd Street, Manhattan Beach, CA 90266

See more of 424 2nd Street, Manhattan Beach, CA HERE

 

Real estate agents always are available to offer great advice on how to buy a home. But have you ever asked one how they go about buying their own home? You’d be surprised at the insider tricks they have hiding up their sleeves. Here, Realtor.com shares five methods Realtors have used to score their own homes.

 

1. When your agent calls to tell you there’s a hot new listing, drop everything and go see it

 

As soon as a sweet listing pops up on the multiple listing service, be warned that it’s probably not going to last, especially if other nearby properties are selling quickly. Be the first buyer to see the home just after it’s listed. Even if you don’t offer the full asking price, sellers likely will be confident accepting a fast and strong offer.

 

2. Take your sweet time

 

On the opposite end of the spectrum, not all agents rush to new listings. Some wait until they’ve gone a bit stale. While submitting an offer on a just-listed, perfectly updated home almost always will never get you a deal, a favorite trick is focusing on homes that have been on the market for more than 21 days. In the end, you could wind up buying a property that’s been languishing on the market for much less than the asking price.

 

See more of 424 2nd Street, Manhattan Beach, CA HERE

See more of 424 2nd Street, Manhattan Beach, CA HERE

3. House-hunt in the fall and winter

 

Houses look better in the summer, due to the added sunlight and special touches such as fresh flowers on the porch. This means sellers are likely to collect top dollar. The solution? Wait until the summer frenzy is over when houses have less traffic and waning curb appeal. Who knows? You might be able to snag a great deal on a house. You might even consider making an offer during a holiday, such as Thanksgiving weekend, when open houses usually are deserted.

 

4. Deliver your offer in person

 

If you find a house you loved, try to meet with the seller personally—before they even started talking numbers—to explain why the house is ideal for you and your family. Although many buyers may include a personalized letter with their offer, an in-person delivery can be key. The first-hand connection makes it easier and smoother to put a transaction together. When you’re standing there negotiating your request for a better deal also is much more difficult to refuse.

 

See more of 424 2nd Street, Manhattan Beach, CA 90266

See more of 424 2nd Street, Manhattan Beach, CA HERE

5. Follow up with stubborn sellers until they cave

 

Home buying is a numbers game. Sometimes you can score a deal on a property by spreading your net wide. Basically, this means submitting below-list-price offers on many houses you find suitable. While many home sellers won’t be interested in playing ball with you, you’ll want to follow up once a month and reiterate your interest with any sellers you think will soften in time. The seller might be much more reasonable if the house is still on the market after a long wait, and you could be the only potential buyer still paying attention.

 

The Real Estate market is tricky to navigate. If you have been searching for your dream home and have not had any please call our office of Real Estate Experts  for a free consultation. We can help get you in your dream home!

(310) 798-1277

Posted in Buying
July 3, 2018

How Much Does Moving Cost?

Deciding to move can be an exciting time, whether you’re going across town or across the country. And there’s one question pretty much everyone who is thinking about moving asks: How much will it cost to relocate? There are all kinds of moving expenses to keep in mind, including changes in cost of living, balancing two mortgages (or a mortgage and rent) during the transition, and the cost of actually getting all your belongings from point A to point B. Here, Zillow offers some information about average moving expenses to help you make sense of it all.

 

Estimating moving costs

Roughly half of all people who change residences use professional movers, whether they’re going short or long distances. According to HomeAdvisor, the average costs for a local move is $80 to $100 per hour (less than 100 miles, including two movers and a truck), plus $25 to $50 extra per additional mover, and $2,000 to $5,000 per move within the state and cross country (more than 100 miles), with an additional 50 cents per pound. Of course, prices vary by region and by distance. 

 

How much does it cost to move across town?

Local moves make up the vast majority of people moving every year. According to Zillow research, 57 percent of home buyers who also sell a home move within the same city, and 86 percent move within the same state. For local moves, you’ll typically pay an hourly rate that includes a truck and the services of two movers. The bigger your home, the longer your move will take. Consider these estimates from HomeAdvisor: 

Size of house

Estimated time of move

Average price range

1-bedroom apartment

3-5 hours

$200-$500

2-bedroom apartment

5-7 hours

$400-$700

3-bedroom house

7-10 hours

$560-$1,000

4-bedroom house

10+ hours

$800-$2,000+

 

How far in advance should I book local movers?

Most people move between May and September, so you’ll want to book your movers at least four weeks ahead of time. The earlier you book, the more likely you are to get the day and time that works best for you, and the more likely you are to get an experienced crew. The least expensive days to move are Monday-Thursday. In the off-season (October-April), you often can book movers with only one to two weeks’ notice. 

 

How much does it cost to move across the country?

While local movers typically charge by the hour, for a cross-country move you’ll likely be charged based on two key variables: weight and distance. 

• Weight: Before the move, the empty truck is weighed, and your mover should provide you with an “empty weight” receipt. Then, once all your belongings are loaded, they’ll weigh your truck again to help them determine your moving cost. Have no idea how much your belongings weigh? Reputable movers will give you an estimate before you sign on the dotted line, using average weights for homes of your size. For example, the goods inside a 1,000-square-foot, three-bedroom apartment typically weigh about 5,000 pounds. A 2,800-square-foot, four-bedroom home’s furnishings typically weigh in at around 20,500 pounds.

• Distance: The farther a moving company has to transport your belongings, the higher the bill will be. You likely will be charged a per-mile rate in addition to the weight-based charges. Make sure to ask if there are any additional transportation charges, such as fuel or tolls.

 

How far in advance should I book movers for a long-distance move?

For an interstate or cross-country move, you’ll want to book your movers as early as possible—ideally six to eight weeks before your move.

 

Typical moving expenses

The moving expenses you incur will vary based on the level of service you’re looking for, no matter what kind of move you’re planning.

• Just a truck rental: In this scenario, you’ll be doing the packing, loading, transportation, unloading and unpacking on your own. Flat per-day rates begin at around $20 per day, depending on the size of the truck, plus charges for gas and mileage. 

• Loading, transportation and unloading: Save your back by doing all the packing and unpacking yourself, but have professional movers do the heavy lifting. For a local move, this service can range from $200 for a one-bedroom apartment to $2,000-plus for a four-bedroom house. 

• Full-service moves: Leave everything to the pros, including wrapping and packing your belongings, loading them, transporting them to your new home and unloading. You’ll just be responsible for unpacking your belongings and getting settled. This type of move usually is used for long-distance moves. Expect to pay roughly $2,000-$5,000 for the transportation, plus about 50 cents per pound, plus $25-$50 per hour, per mover for packing and unpacking help.

• Temporary storage: If your moving dates don’t line up exactly, you may need to temporarily stash your belongings in a storage unit or moving container. Storage facility rates begin at about $50 per month for a small unit, and go up to $300 or $400 for larger units. If you’d like the convenience of a portable storage unit that’s delivered to your home, loaded by you and stored in a warehouse until you’re ready for re-delivery, expect to pay $150-$300 per month, plus delivery and re-delivery costs. 

• Moving supplies: Instead of buying and then recycling boxes, go green and rent hard plastic boxes for your move. Prices begin at about $50 per week for enough boxes to pack a one-bedroom apartment, and up to $200 to pack a large house. Once you’re done, the rental service will pick up the boxes. To save money on cardboard boxes, check your local “buy nothing” group or moving truck rental company, which often have used boxes on hand.

 

Additional costs of moving

When calculating your relocation budget, make sure to keep these unexpected moving costs in mind:

• A transportation surcharge if the moving company pays workers more for working in metropolitan areas, where labor costs are often higher.

• You may opt to purchase full value protection insurance. Released value protection is typically included by movers at no cost, but the protection is minimal—just 60 cents per pound per article lost or damaged.

• Charges for moving vehicles, including cars, boats and motorcycles. Surcharges for moving large or fragile items—think swing sets, pianos, extra-large furniture or riding lawn mowers.

• Additional charges if the movers have to walk more than 75 feet from door to truck, or if they need to use stairs or an elevator.

• Additional charges if your street is too narrow to accommodate a moving truck and they’ll need to shuttle your belongings with a smaller truck.

• You may find yourself paying unexpected moving costs if there’s a delay in the availability of your new home and the moving company has to place your items in storage.

 

Moving cost agreements

Any reputable moving company should provide you with a quote before your move, using the industry-standard rate book published by the Household Goods Carrier Bureau, called the Tariff 400-N. There are two main types of moving quotes: Non-binding estimates are the industry standard. They reflect the company’s best guess as to what your final bill will be, but they often can be inaccurate. Whenever possible, opt for not-to-exceed quote. These estimates are quotes where the moving company commits to a maximum price.

 

Get moving

When it comes to moving, the best way to limit your costs (and to keep your sanity) is to move quickly. The faster you’re out of your old home and into your new home, the less you’ll pay in movers, rented supplies, storage costs, and most importantly, overlapping mortgage payments or rent.

Posted in Buying
June 29, 2018

Five Things You Can Avoid Fixing First When Selling Your Home

Just put your home on the market and realized that it needs work? Many fixes are necessary, including any defects or conditions that affect the intended function or operation of a major house system. Think leaks, built-in appliances that don’t function properly, insect infestations, and imminent safety or environmental hazards. Beyond that, however, it’s up to you. Of course, the nicer your home looks the more money you’ll likely be able to earn when selling it. But not all improvements offer the same return on investment. Here, Realtor.com discusses some fixes that you can pass on without too many repercussions.

 

1. Cosmetic damage

A smart homebuyer knows how to look beyond scuffed floors, peeling paint and other things that don’t interfere with the function of your home. However, these things do make it look run-down. Cosmetic damage always can be fixed; the things they will be concerned about is whether electrical and plumbing systems are up to grade, and that the utility bills are decent. If the home’s structural issues are sound and the bones are good, then you can let the surface stuff slide.

 

2. Updating kitchens and bathrooms

Many buyers today actually look forward to remodeling these areas. Plus, with all of the home decor styles there are to choose from today, it’s unrealistic to try and second-guess what they want and to have it there waiting for them. People have different ideas about what a perfect kitchen is or what an ideal bathroom is. Updating these areas is a big risk, and unless you know your exact buyer, it’s better not to guess. The next person will impose their own dreams on the house anyway.

 

3. Partial fixes

Don’t go halfway if you do decide your kitchen and bathroom are so bad that they’re worth redoing. Unless you can redo an entire kitchen, don’t bother with partial fixes. Older cabinets with brand-new granite countertops only highlight the old.

 

4. Repainting in trendy colors

Color trends come and go so fast that what might look great today will look dated tomorrow. Even if the colors are totally hip—like bright hues—they still might not appeal to a large number of buyers. So, if you must paint, be sure to keep things neutral. Odds are the buyer is going to paint the house how they like it anyway.

 

5. Renovating beyond your neighborhood’s norm

If all of the houses on your block are beautifully furnished and landscaped, then it probably is worth it to spend some extra cash on your own. But if your house is the only one on the block with a well-kept rose garden and indoor dog shower, you may not get the return for which you hope. Check out your neighbors’ homes and plan accordingly.

June 25, 2018

Rooms That Might Make Buyers Run, Even If They Love the House

When shopping for a house, the tour could be going fine until you turn a corner and see a room that brings the possibility of living there to a grinding halt. Here Realtor.com lists the common offenders that real estate agents have noted typically make buyers cringe.

 

The empty room

If other rooms in the home are furnished, then an empty room can sometimes kill a home sale. A room devoid of furniture leaves the buyer wondering what the space can be used for, and any of the room’s imperfections also will stand out. If you have an empty room, stage it as an office, extra sitting area or guest bedroom.

 

The dark room

No one wants to walk into a home and feel like they’re trapped in a dungeon. Even if the rest of the house is flooded with light, one dark room can make an entire house seem dark. For starters, open all the curtains and blinds before showing a home. If the room doesn’t have much light, paint the walls a light color and add a mirror to make it appear larger. Updating the lighting also goes a long way in adding to the brightness of a room. You also might want to put a plant in the room, because plants need light and buyers often realize this.

 

The gross bathroom

A big offender in this category is carpeted bathrooms. Not only will many home buyers refuse to enter a carpeted bathroom, but they’re more likely to lose focus on the rest of the house after seeing one. Note to sellers—replace bathroom carpeting with tile. Another major turnoff? A tub that’s seen one too many baths. Refinish a tub if that’s the case.

 

The cluttered playroom

Buyers might get the impression that the current residents aren’t clean if the kid’s playroom looks like a cluttered mess. Home sellers should make it look immaculate. That includes erasing crayon and marker drawings as well as fingerprints on doors, windows and walls.

 

The run-down kitchen

The state of your kitchen—the epicenter of most homes—can be a big-time deal breaker, especially if it’s too small, has outdated features and appliances, or looks run-down. The problem begins when buyers start calculating how much a remodel is going to cost. A quick fix with a lot of visual bang—that won’t break the bank—is to swap outdated appliances with newer ones that priced to move.

 

The stuffy formal living room

Rooms that serve no purpose or don’t fit the needs of the homeowners definitely can hurt a house sale. For example, the formal living room once was valued in a home; however, this room serves little purpose today and is more a room to look at than use.

 

The creepy basement

Spine-chilling cellars definitely can turn away buyers. Think an empty all-cement room with zero windows. De-creep your basement by finding a use for potentially scary windowless rooms (for example, filling what likely was a canning room with charming Mason jars.

 

The cluttered closet

While a closet is not a room, a lack of storage space is a big deal killer. Try removing at least two-thirds of the clothes in the closets to give the illusion that there’s plenty of space.

Posted in Buying, Selling
Feb. 12, 2018

Selling a House with Fire Damage

Unfortunately, selling a house with fire damage is a situation that many homeowners face. According to the National Fire Protection Association, 358,500 home fires in the U.S. resulted in $6.7 billion in damage from 2011 to 2015. The record-setting California wildfires of late 2017 likely will add to that statistic, with tens of thousands of fire-damaged homes and billions of dollars in insurance claims.

 

According to Realtor.com, you basically have two options if you want to sell your home after a fire: You can sell it as is or you can repair it. In many cases, selling the home as is might be the easier solution because you don’t have to hire contractors or to manage and live through the process. However, many real estate agents agree that the convenience of not doing the work will cost you when it comes to the selling price. Buyers could expect a big discount if they’re purchasing a fire-damaged property. However, making repairs such as painting, cleanup and curb appeal yourself may get you a 100 percent or greater return on investment and can be done relatively inexpensively.

Posted in Selling
Feb. 5, 2018

The Top Reasons to Purchase a Home in 2018

Predictions for the new year forecast moderate gains in home prices and rising inventory levels, while low unemployment and record levels of consumer confidence mean more buyers are feeling good about their finances. According to Javier Vivas, Realtor.com’s director of economic research, here are some reasons why 2018 is a prime time to jump into the housing market.

 

1. Rates are rising

After years of record-low interest rates, the Federal Reserve now is making some increases: The rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage broke the 4 percent mark this past year. And with economic growth continuing to carry momentum, we should see at least two to four more rate increases throughout 2018. Rates are expected to hit 5 percent by the end of the year. Increases would further constrict affordability, which means the longer you wait the more expensive it will be to buy due to home prices and inflationary pressure.

 

2. Prices are climbing

Home prices have soared during the past few years, pricing otherwise well-positioned buyers out of high-cost areas. But in 2018, price increases are expected to moderate. Vivas forecasts a home price increase of 3.2 percent year over year, after finishing 2017 with a 5.5 percent year-over-year increase. Existing-home sale prices are predicted to increase 2.5 percent year over year. However, this all depends on where you live. Red-hot markets such as San Francisco are predicted to finally lose some steam, while sales numbers and home prices are poised to climb in Southern states such as Texas and Florida, where economic momentum continues and new construction is occurring in the right price points. This means that home prices still will increase, but not at the same pace as they have during the past few years.

 

3. Inventory levels will increase

 

An inventory shortage has plagued the U.S. housing market since 2015, forcing some buyers to settle and keeping others out of the buying game entirely. But by fall 2018, the tides will begin to turn, with markets such as Boston, Detroit and Nashville recovering first. The majority of inventory growth will happen in the middle- to upper-tier price point, in the ranges of $350,000 and $750,000 and above $750,000, Vivas predicts. New home construction also is expected to expand. But that will happen slowly, thanks to a constricted labor market, limitations on the amount of lots and available land, tight bank financing for building loans and a run-up in building material prices.

Posted in Buying, Market Forcast