Oct. 11, 2019

Should You Remodel Before Selling or Lower Your Asking Price?

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Bay Street Realty Group

Should You Remodel Before Selling or Lower Your Asking Price?

Some buyers are willing to purchase a house that needs repairs in exchange for a lower price, while others want a house they can move into immediately. If your home needs work, you may be torn between fixing it up to sell it for a higher price and lowering your asking price to save yourself the trouble. Consider the type of work your house needs and the local real estate market to decide what to do.

Would Fixing Up Your House Make Financial Sense?
Some home improvements have a much higher return on investment than others. Buyers are primarily interested in updated kitchens and bathrooms. If those rooms are dated, remodeling them would be a smart investment. Optional renovations, such as creating an open floorplan, might not pay off as much. Sometimes simple cosmetic changes, such as repainting walls and cabinets, replacing kitchen hardware, and installing new carpet, can have dramatic effects on prospective buyers’ overall impressions of a house.

If your house needs major work, such as a new roof, you would probably be better off replacing it than lowering your list price. A buyer who would need to repair the roof soon after purchase would want the price reduced by the cost of the roof, plus more for the inconvenience. If you can afford it, you would be better off spending money now to replace the roof so you wouldn’t lose tens of thousands of dollars at the time of sale.

On the other hand, if your home needs a lot of expensive repairs, it would make more sense to set a low asking price and sell it as is. You might attract a contractor or someone interested in fixing up the house and flipping it for a profit.

Any safety hazards or code violations, such as broken windows or faulty electrical wiring, should be repaired before you put the house on the market. Those would be found in an inspection and would need to be repaired anyway.

Look at the Local Housing Market
Your local real estate market will play a role in deciding how much work, if any, you should do to your home. In a seller’s market, buyers may be interested in your home even if it needs substantial work, but you may still have to lower your asking price somewhat to compete with other houses in better condition. In a buyer’s market, your chance of selling a house that needs major repairs will be slim.

Talk to Your Agent
A house that needs work may or may not be difficult to sell, depending on the type of repairs that are needed and local real estate market conditions. Make a list of any existing issues with your home, and ask your real estate agent for advice on whether you should fix some or all of them or simply offer your home at a lower price.

Posted in Selling your Home
Oct. 11, 2019

Tips From 'the Cheapskate Next Door'

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Bay Street Realty Group

Tips From 'the Cheapskate Next Door'

Author Jeff Yeager met with hundreds of self-described skinflints for his bestselling book, “The Cheapskate Next Door: Surprising Secrets of Americans Living Happily Below Their Means.”

He recently shared with Kiplinger Magazine editors the tips and incentives that motivate serious money savers:

They are not misers. While they are careful about how they spend money, they do not spend their waking hours thinking up ways to save a nickel. Some are motivated by religious or environmental concerns and others simply see no reason to live any other way but frugally.

They run the gamut of lifestyles. Some are millionaires and some have such limited income that they could qualify for public assistance if they chose to. The commonality is that they spend less than they make and they determine to live debt-free. Only five percent of those surveyed had any consumer debt other than a mortgage, and among those who had a mortgage, 85 percent said they were working to pay it off early.

They splurge selectively. They make certain they really want something before they buy it. When they do splurge, it is more likely to be on an activity rather than on a possession – not surprising, since social science points out that possessions often disappoint over time, while experiences, such as sports or vacations, appreciate in value in our memories.

They offer some practical advice. They typically stay away from yard sales because you tend to buy stuff you didn’t set out to buy. They like thrift stores, which they see as department stores full of perfectly good used merchandise. They barter or negotiate to save on goods and services – and they’re generally tuned in to worthwhile cyber tips for saving money, checking websites like freecycle.org for freebie giveaways and accidentalwine.com for good wines discounted simply because the label is damaged.
Oct. 7, 2019

Which Type of Siding Is Right for Your House?

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Bay Street Realty Group

Which Type of Siding Is Right for Your House?

Siding is a critical component of a home that protects it from extreme temperatures, rain, snow and wind. Although siding is designed to last many years, it can become damaged over time by repeated exposure to the elements and lack of maintenance. If your home’s siding needs to be replaced, you have many options.

Most Popular Siding Materials
The most commonly chosen type of siding is vinyl. Homeowners prefer vinyl siding because it is inexpensive and durable and requires little maintenance. Vinyl siding comes in an array of colors and styles and can even be made to resemble other siding materials.

Although wood siding has declined in popularity, many homeowners still choose it because of its strength and classic appearance. Several types of wood can be used for siding, and pieces can be cut into shingles or shakes. With proper maintenance, wood siding can last several decades. It requires caulking and painting or staining, and skipping those steps can cause the siding to become worn and damaged. Wood siding is also vulnerable to insects and rodents.

Stucco is made from a combination of sand, Portland cement, lime and water. Wood walls are covered with a waterproof barrier and metal screening, and then stucco is applied on top. With proper installation and routine maintenance, stucco can last a lifetime.

Fiber-cement siding can be manufactured in several styles and can be made to resemble wood, stucco or masonry siding. It can be easy to maintain and can resist fire and termite damage, but it is susceptible to moisture problems. The lifespan of fiber-cement siding depends on the manufacturer.

Solid brick used to be a popular option for the exterior of homes, but nowadays, a brick veneer covering a wood frame is more common. A membrane installed beneath the brick veneer can prevent water damage. Brick veneer is more expensive than other types of siding.

Stone house coverings, made from solid granite or limestone, can be a beautiful but expensive addition. Stone veneers cost less and are easier to install than solid stone. Both natural and synthetic materials can be used. Stone and stone veneer siding require very little maintenance.

How to Choose the Right Siding for Your Home
Replacing the siding on your house is an investment that can last for decades and increase your home’s value, as well. The siding material you select should be attractive, durable and relatively easy to maintain. Options abound, and your choice will depend on the style of your home and others in the neighborhood, your personal preferences and your budget. Look at photos of houses with various siding materials and discuss your options with several local contractors. Compare quotes and warranties so you can choose the right material and company.

 

Oct. 7, 2019

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Bay Street Realty Group Staying Put? How to Prepare to Age-in-Place ?Many older homeowners are set on staying in their homes as they age—“aging-in-place.” To stay pu

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Bay Street Realty Group

Staying Put? How to Prepare to Age-in-Place

​Many older homeowners are set on staying in their homes as they age—“aging-in-place.”

To stay put successfully, preparation is key, according to Corey Carlisle, executive director of the American Bankers Association (ABA) Foundation.

“Older Americans make up the largest share of homeowners in the country,” said Carlisle in a statement. “In order for them to stay in their homes as they age, families and caregivers must plan ahead to ensure the elderly have all the resources they need to be safe, independent and financially secure.”

To start, Carlisle and the ABA Foundation recommend recruiting loved ones, or even a banker, to assess your finances. How long can you comfortably afford your current home? Will you need to budget for aging-in-place improvements? Will you require in-home care? Consider these questions as you evaluate your financial longevity.

A reverse mortgage is an important consideration—one that must be researched thoroughly. The ABA Foundation suggests visiting ReverseMortgage.org to comparison-shop for lenders and rates, and visiting HUD.gov to locate a reverse mortgage counselor in your area, before committing to a loan.

Size up your current home to see what modifications will likely be needed, and financially prepare to make them. Aging-in-place upgrades can include anything from handrails and no-slip flooring to a stair lift or ramp entrance—and, they can be as simple as placing an emergency contact list in plain view at home, according to the ABA Foundation.

After you’ve established a viable aging-in-place plan, conduct six-month check-ins going forward, the ABA Foundation advises. Revisiting your plan periodically will help you better adapt to the inevitable changes of aging.

Source: ABA
Oct. 7, 2019

The Feng Shui of Color

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Bay Street Realty Group

The Feng Shui of Color

You may gravitate toward certain color palettes for your home for a variety of reasons, but did you know that color can impact the way you and your loved ones feel? According to the ancient Chinese practice of Feng Shui, the right combination of colors placed in the right areas of your home can actually affect the flow of energy. So consider the following guide from Artistic Tile before you grab that paint brush.

Blue: Calmness and Serenity. The color of a serene river or a clear sky, blue is associated with the element of water in Feng Shui and is, therefore, considered a restorative color. Look to add blue to rooms of your home where you want to relax or escape.

Black: Grounding and Protection. Black is a color that can have many meanings—from formal to seductive to dramatic to elegant. Consider using it in areas of your home where you want to make a strong impression, such as foyers or powder rooms. In Feng Shui, black is considered to have a heavy energy, so ideally, it should be used in moderation, and below eye level. Since it provides grounding and protection, use it near entrances or in picture frames surrounding photos of people you wish to protect.

Green: Growth and Vitality. Due to its association with plants, green represents health and growth, so place it in areas where you’d like to see vitality—-such as your home office. It also works well in areas where you want to inspire well-being, such as a bedroom or exercise area.

Gold: Prosperity and Abundance. When it comes to Feng Shui, a little bit of gold goes a long way. Summoning the vibrant warmth and energy of the sun, as well as associations of prosperity and abundance, gold can inspire passion and drive in your home. Small elements of gold can work well in a variety of places, including creative spaces, entertaining spaces and home offices. Its warmth also makes it appropriate for family and living rooms.

Red: Love and Luck. Red symbolizes luck and love in China, and in India, where red is the standard color for bridal gowns, it is the symbol of marriage. The symbol of love, courage and passion in many cultures, use red in any room of your home that could benefit from a bit of high energy and luck, such as your home office, workout space or family room.  
Oct. 7, 2019

Cookware Gets Healthy

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Bay Street Realty Group

Cookware Gets Healthy

Americans’ growing focus on fitness and nutrition has found its way into our kitchens - not just in terms of the food in the fridge, but the cookware on our counters and stoves as well. Consider some of these items to get your kitchen tools on point with your health goals:

Kombucha maker. At this year’s Atlanta Gift and Home Furnishings Market, Typhoon Homewares introduced a line of fermentation and kombucha-making sets under its Kilner brand. Known for its high levels of probiotics, antioxidants and vitamins, Kombucha is a fermented tea that has become increasingly popular among the health-conscious. This line now allows you to make it at home as opposed to paying the high prices often found in stores.

Rice cookers. From all varieties of pressure cookers - including the latest sensation, the InstaPot - to simple rice cookers, these handy counter-top gadgets allow you to quickly cook all varieties of rice and grains, including super nutritious quinoa and couscous.

Green and copper pans. The eco-friendly GreenPan or increasingly popular copper pans offer the benefit of non-stick surfaces, which means you can cook without fats, like oils and butters. To preserve these pans, use only wooden or plastic utensils. Metal will scratch and ruin the non-stick surface, essential to avoiding those unhealthy fats.

Herb and veggie preservers. Our best efforts at using more fresh herbs and vegetables often go to waste as these items go bad before we can finish them. There are several inexpensive gadgets that help preserve fresh herbs and veggies longer, however, such as Food Huggers that fit snuggly over those half cut fruits and vegetables.

Blenders, big and small. Whether you go all out with a Vitamix, or keep it simple with a NutriBullet, it’s easy these days to make a quick, nutrient-dense smoothie, soup or dip. There’s something to fit everyone’s kitchen and budget.

 


 

Oct. 7, 2019

Home Equity Levels Out. What Does It Mean?

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Bay Street Realty Group

Home Equity Levels Out. What Does It Mean?

Home equity levels have been steadily returning since the recession years, however, the latest findings from ATTOM Data Solutions show that while equity is still on the positive side, the most recent gains are not quite as strong. Here are the latest stats:
  • 9.3 percent of all U.S. properties with a mortgage were seriously underwater at the end of 2017, down from 9.6 percent a year ago. However, this was the smallest year-over-year decrease in share of seriously underwater properties since ATTOM began tracking this data at the beginning of 2012.
  • 25.4 percent of all U.S. properties with a mortgage were equity rich at the end of 2017, up from 24.6 percent a year ago. This was the smallest year-over-year increase in share of equity rich properties since the third quarter of 2015.
  • The share of homeowners with at least 20 percent equity dropped 1.1 percentage points from a year ago, while the share of homeowners with between 10 percent equity and 10 percent negative equity increased 1.1 percentage points from a year ago. According to ATTOM, this indicates that homeowners are increasingly leveraging their equity to sell and move up into another home or by refinancing. 
If you’re considering leveraging the equity in your home to move-up, talk to a real estate agent about:

- What repairs/modifications should be done to your home to gain the maximum sales price
- The best plan for marketing your home, including listing portals, social media and open houses
- The best time to put your home on the market
- A realistic price range you should consider moving up to and the best locations within that price range 

If you’d like more homeowner information, please contact me.
Oct. 3, 2019

The 4 Ds of a Successful Open House

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Bay Street Realty Group

The 4 Ds of a Successful Open House

If you recently listed your home for sale, your real estate agent might be planning to host an open house in the near future. Here are some ways you can help your home put its best foot forward:
  1. Depersonalize. Put away all personal photos, drawings from your children that are hanging on the fridge, birthday cards on the mantel and anything else that too closely connects you to your home. You want potential buyers to envision it as their home, and they can’t effectively do that if your presence is too pervasive.
  2. Declutter. This seems obvious, but we’re talking about more than just straightening up. Decluttering means getting rid of as much as you possibly can, making kitchen and bath counters, dining and accent tables, bureaus and bookcases as stark as possible. All you want to leave in place is the minimum necessary for décor, i.e., a vase of flowers, a coffee-table book or two, or an attractive bowl of sea shells…but not too many.
  3. Deodorize. Don’t try to cover up offensive smells with a spray or scented candle. Instead, get rid of them altogether with a deep clean. Call in a professional, if necessary. Bear in mind, you’ve gotten used to your home’s odors—good and bad—so adhere to your agent’s third-party opinion.
  4. Depart. Unless your agent instructs otherwise, make sure you’re not around for the open house. You want prospective buyers to freely inspect the ins and outs of your home and ask questions at will, without your potentially inhibiting presence. 
If you need more real estate information, feel free to contact me.
Oct. 3, 2019

Money That Can Be Better Spent on a Down Payment

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Bay Street Realty Group

Money That Can Be Better Spent on a Down Payment

One of the biggest obstacles for first-time homebuyers is saving for a down payment - it’s a nut that seems insurmountable to many. The first mistake new homebuyers make is believing that they must have 20 percent to put down on a home, when (depending on your credit and the loan terms) you can usually put down much less.

The second mistake is believing you’ll never be able to save enough money. Here are 10 things you can stop spending money on right now. Collect what you would have spent on these items at the end of the week and put it into a savings account for your home-to-be. It will add up faster than you think!

Books. Get your library card renewed or (gasp!) get one for the first time, and start reading books for free.

Coffee. Treat yourself to a nice travel mug then fill up at home and skip the pricey coffee shop on the way to work.

Gas. Of course, this isn’t always possible, but when you can, opt to walk or ride your bike instead of hopping in the car. Carpooling is another great option.

Lunch. Not only is brown bagging it cheaper, it’s usually much healthier as well. Just be sure not to eat at your desk. Hit up the break room or a local park (bring your library book!).

Designer clothes. If you’re a style hound, don’t despair. Instead of shopping in pricey stores, check out your local outlet mall, online tag sales or high-end thrift shops. You’ll be surprised at what you can find.

Restaurants. If going out to dinner is one of your favorite social activities, don’t give up the act of dining with friends, just do it at home instead. Host a backyard cookout or an intimate dinner party with candles and fine china. Or, save money and time and make it a potluck affair.

Bottled water. Get yourself a filtered pitcher and a portable container and stop the bottled water insanity. Your wallet and the environment will thank you.

Expensive gifts. Believe it or not, it really is the thought that counts. Instead of wasting money on gifts that may or may not be used by the recipient, go the homemade route. Try baked goods, a photo collage, a collection of flowers from your garden tied in a pretty ribbon, or a home-cooked meal.

All those cable channels. Take a good look at your cable bill and decide whether or not you really need all those channels you’re paying for.

Your gym membership. If you’re not using your gym membership regularly, let it go. Stay healthy with online workouts you can do at home and venture into the great outdoors for walking, hiking and running or your favorite sports.

 

Oct. 3, 2019

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Bay Street Realty Group

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Bay Street Realty Group

Kitchen Upgrades Worth Their Weight in Resale Value

If a kitchen renovation is on your radar screen, and you plan to stay in your home long-term, you can figure on spending $20,000 or more – especially if you plan to rip out counters and re-configure your space.

But if you’re thinking of upgrades that increase your home’s resale value, as well as your own enjoyment, there’s a lot you can do at minimal cost to bring your kitchen up to date.

Designers advise putting your money into six specific areas to get the most bang for your update buck:

  1. Appliances – Replace basic white or black appliances with stainless steel, which will not only update the look of your kitchen but will likely be more energy efficient.
  2. Cabinets – It’s amazing what a coat of white paint will do to make your kitchen pop. But if tired, old cabinets are beyond painting, re-facing them will save you big bucks over replacing them.
  3. Hardware – Replacing standard cabinet hardware with fresh, bold designs is the easiest (read, ‘cheapest’) way to upgrade the look of any kitchen. Choose hardware that’s trendy, like brass, which is making a comeback, or contemporary styles that make a statement.
  4. Countertops – High end stone and ornate beveling is in vogue and expensive, but granite is becoming more affordable. Shop around for a good deal and this upgrade may cost less than you think.
  5. Backsplash – A snazzy backsplash is a focal point in the kitchen, and the right one can draw the eye away from kitchen flaws that might otherwise be glaring. Choose subway tile, which is a classic and sought-after option, or add a splash of color with a variety of reasonable materials available at most home stores.
  6. Lighting – An instant style makeover can be as simple as replacing that old overhead fixture with recessed lighting, under-counter lighting, and/or new accent lighting over a breakfast bar or kitchen table.