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4 Ways to Stage Your Home and Create a Well-Rounded First Impression

by posted by Desi Sowers

home_securityRISMEDIA, October 29, 2009—Feeling good about a home and a neighborhood is part and parcel of making the decision to buy, so staging a home should involve more than just raising the charm factor. Look for ways to also make the house say “safe and secure” to ensure a more well-rounded first impression. 

In the course of my adult life, I’ve lived in 14 different residences, six of which have been single-family homes that I bought. Like most people, each time I had my list of must-haves in terms of living space, floor plan flow, structure, amenities, etc. But as I was also new to the area for half of those decisions, I was also interested in knowing more about the neighborhood and surrounding environment and would always envision myself coming home after dark. Even the most charming tree-lined street takes on a different character when the sun goes down. 

Home as a sanctuary has moved from cultural trend to the essence of what makes a house a home. The term “sanctuary” covers everything from the basic need of shelter, a place of refuge, security, as well as a home that fits the lifestyle of the family living there. Gone are the days when showing a house with a home security system or solid deadbolts might signal the buyer to think the neighborhood was unsafe. Today, a home properly equipped to address general security issues is expected and has become the norm. Making a home more secure doesn’t have to be expensive or time consuming. 

Here are some options for sellers to consider: 

1. Hedging your bet-Trimming the bushes at the front entry and near the windows of the home adds curb appeal and opens sight lines around entrances.
2. Security with style- Choose attractive storm doors and entry doors with more secure locking options.
3. Light it up- Motion-activated lighting, timer controls and dusk-to-dawn options paired with path lighting and landscape lighting means the curb appeal of the home doesn’t go down with the sun.
4. High-tech peace of mind-Easy-to-install, whole-home wireless security systems and monitoring means you can control locks, lights and cameras from a computer or cell phone. 

A buyer in the market for a new home today has more options than ever, and each has his or her own list of must-haves. Leverage the opportunity to show a home’s strength by marrying curb appeal and charm with a few upgrades that deliver on peace of mind.

Written by Melissa Birdsong who is vice president for Trend, Design & Brand, Lowe’s Companies, Inc. 



It's Time to Fall Back!!!

by Desi Sowers

homebuyer_couple_1026RISMEDIA, October 26, 2009—Existing-home sales bounced back strongly in September with first-time buyers driving much of the activity, marking five gains in the past six months, according to the National Association of Realtors®. Existing-home sales–including single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops–jumped 9.4% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.57 million units in September from a level of 5.10 million in August, and are 9.2% higher than the 5.10 million-unit pace in September 2008. Sales activity is at the highest level in over two years, since it hit 5.73 million in July 2007. 

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said favorable conditions matched with a tax credit are boosting home sales. “Much of the momentum is from people responding to the first-time buyer tax credit, which is freeing many sellers to make a trade and buy another home,” he said. “We are hopeful the tax credit will be extended and possibly expanded to more buyers, at least through the middle of next year, because the rising sales momentum needs to continue for a few additional quarters until we reach a point of a self-sustaining recovery.” 

Even with the improvement, Yun said the market is underperforming. “Despite spectacular gains in the stock market, principally from the financial sector recovery, most of the 75 million home owning families have more wealth tied to their homes. Home values could soon turn consistently positive and help the broad base of middle-class families, but we are not there yet,” he said. “We’re getting early indications of price stabilization, but we need a steady supply of qualified buyers to meaningfully bring inventories down and return us to a period of normal, steady price growth and to fully remove consumer fears, which would then revive the broader economy. Without a firm foundation for middle-class wealth recovery, the post-recession economic growth likely will be one of the weakest in U.S. history.” 

Early information from a large annual consumer study to be released November 13, the 2009 National Association of Realtors® Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, shows that first-time home buyers accounted for more than 45% of home sales during the past year. A separate practitioner survey shows that distressed homes accounted for 29% of transactions in September. 

NAR President Charles McMillan, a broker with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Dallas-Fort Worth, said affordability conditions remain historically high. “Potential first-time buyers can take heart in that affordability conditions this year are the highest on record dating back to 1970, but with the first-time buyer tax credit scheduled to expire at the end of next month, people could hold back from entering the market,” he said. “Our read is that housing overshot on the downside because homes are selling for less than replacement construction costs in much of the country, and the home price-to-income ratio has fallen below the historical average,” McMillan said. 

Total housing inventory at the end of September fell 7.5% to 3.63 million existing homes available for sale, which represents an 7.8-month supply at the current sales pace, down from an 9.3-month supply in August. Unsold inventory totals are 15.0% below a year ago. 

“The current housing supply is the lowest we’ve seen in two and a half years,” Yun said. “If we could continue to absorb inventory at this pace, home prices would return to normal, modest appreciation patterns next year. 

According to Freddie Mac, the national average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage fell to 5.06% in September from 5.19% in August; the rate was 6.04% in September 2008. The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $174,900 in September, which is 8.5% lower than September 2008. Distressed properties continue to downwardly distort the median price because they generally sell at a discount relative to traditional homes in the same area. 

Single-family home sales rose 9.4% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.89 million in September from a pace of 4.47 million in August, and are 7.7% above the 4.54 million-unit level in September 2008. The median existing single-family home price was $174,900 in September, which is 8.1% below a year ago. Existing condominium and co-op sales jumped 9.7% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 680,000 units in September from 620,000 in August, and are 9.7% above the 561,000-unit pace a year ago. The median existing condo price was $175,100 in September, down 11.7% from September 2008. 

Northeast
Regionally, existing-home sales in the Northeast increased 4.4% to an annual level of 950,000 in September, and are 11.8% higher than September 2008. The median price in the Northeast was $234,700, down 7.0% from a year ago. 

Midwest
Existing-home sales in the Midwest jumped 9.6% in September to a pace of 1.25 million and are 7.8% above a year ago. The median price in the Midwest was $147,600, which is 1.0% below September 2008. 

South
In the South, existing-home sales rose 9.0% to an annual level of 2.06 million in September and are 10.8% higher than September 2008. The median price in the South was $153,500, down 7.6% from a year ago. 

West
Existing-home sales in the West surged 13.0% to an annual rate of 1.30 million in September and are 5.7% above a year ago. The median price in the West was $219,000, which is 15.0% below September 2008. 


Radford - New Listing!

by Desi Sowers

Sellers Continue To Cut Prices

by Desi Sowers

The asking prices of more than one-fourth of U.S. homes on the market as of Oct. 1, 2009 have been cut at least once, and the average discount is 10 percent, according to the latest Price Reduction Report by Trulia. The total amount slashed from home prices is $28.4 billion, a $967 million increase from June 2009.

Of the 10 states that had the highest percentage of homes with price reductions, five are located in the Northeast — Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Hampshire and New Jersey. Among the states with the largest price cuts, seven are located in the West where price reductions average 13 percent.

Luxury homes — those listed at $2 million or higher — continue to be hit hard. The average price reduction on luxury homes is 14 percent. While they represent less than 2 percent of all current listings on Trulia, luxury homes account for 25 percent of the $28.4 billion in home price reductions, the survey finds.

Very interesting report and thanks to the folks at Trulia for gathering this data.  Here in the New River Valley we are seeing homes that are priced realistically from the start as to avoid price reductions.  There will always be overpriced homes but not from motivated Sellers - and the key word is MOTIVATED!

5 Worst Home Updates

by posted by Desi Sowers

Before you splurge on that pricey remodeling project, beware: It may not pay you back when it's time to sell.

Considering all the blood, sweat and tears (not to mention money) it takes to make your dream renovation a reality, you'd expect to be handsomely rewarded with a boost in your home's value. Unfortunately, not every remodeling project will bring a handsome return on investment -- and some might even repel future buyers. You might want to think twice about springing for these so-called upgrades.

Over-the-top improvements.
When it comes to renovations, bigger isn't always better. While bringing your post-war bathroom into the 21st century will increase your home's market value, installing a steam shower and carved marble tub probably won't pay off. Before your minor upgrade turns into a home-improvement bender, ask yourself whether potential buyers in your area are likely to pony up for posh upgrades. "People should be careful about over-improving for their
neighborhood," advises Stephanie Singer, a spokesperson for the National Association of Realtors. "If you're in a neighborhood with traditional kitchens, and you put in a Viking stove and granite countertops, that's fine. But keep in mind that buyers probably aren't going to value that to the extent that you do." To get the best return on your investment, scour local listings to see what's standard in your area, and then bring your decor up to speed -- but don't leave the Joneses in the dust.

Home office overhauls.
If you work from home, a designated workspace is a must-have (and a potential tax deduction). But according to a report from Remodeling magazine, overhauling your office won't pay off when you
sell your home -- especially if you borrow usable space from a bedroom, living room or garage. Treat yourself to that mahogany desk and built-in bookcase if you'd like, but keep in mind that you'll only earn back about 50 percent of the job cost.

Swimming pools.
Is there anything better than lounging by the pool with a book in one hand and a margarita in the other? Well, it depends on who you ask. "Some people see a swimming pool as a major enhancement. Others might see it as a major headache," Singer says. Your backyard oasis could actually deter those buyers who don't want to deal with skimming, filtering, PH-balancing, heating, repairing and winterizing this high-maintenance amenity. Unless you live in a Southern state where pools are the norm, don't expect to recoup the money -- anywhere from $10,000 to $50,000 -- that you've spent on the big dig.

New roofing.
Cedar shakes, clay tile or architectural shingles can instantly transform your house, but they probably won't have the same effect on your sale price. After all, buyers think of a roof as a bare necessity -- not a luxury that will inspire them to shell out extra cash. Still, don't put off a much-needed roof repair just because you're worried about the return on investment. If buyers notice a leaky roof or cracked shingles during their home inspection, they're likely to demand a concession for the repairs -- so you may as well fix it now and enjoy it 'til you sell.

Specialized spaces.
Maybe your recent trip to Tuscany inspired you to convert your basement into a wine cellar. Or you've always dreamed of replacing your boring front door with a working drawbridge. Or your kids convinced you to install a fireman's pole between floors. Whatever your pet project may be, don't expect every potential buyer to share your enthusiasm. "There's a limited audience for that kind of thing," Singer explains. "People just don't see the utility." Quirky renovations can personalize your home (and maybe earn you some bragging rights!) but buyers probably won't be willing to pay a premium for them.

Of course, even if a project won't drive up your home's resale value, that doesn't mean it's a waste of money. "Remodeling a home is a personal decision anyway, so sometimes there are projects you just want to do for yourself," Singer says. "You do have to live in the home; you're not always thinking about resale. Is it a worthwhile project for you? Is it going to increase your enjoyment of the house?" If you're not planning to sell anytime soon, and a new koi pond just screams "home sweet home" to you, go ahead and break out the toolbox.

Written by Kara Wahlgren

New Listing - Auburn Schools, Beautiful Home

by Desi Sowers

Exciting RE/MAX 8 News!

by Desi Sowers

Displaying blog entries 1-8 of 8

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