Home Updates That Make Good Multi-Generational Sense

Home Updates That Make Good Multi-Generational SenseMulti-generational households and the growing preference on the part of many retirees toward “aging in place”have altered home design in recent years. Interiors are more open, more functional and more adaptable that they were even a decade ago. Spaces tend to be less formal; living space is better integrated with work space like the kitchen, and rooms tend to serve more than once purpose, both for quiet pursuits and for family gatherings.

Universal Design

Home design has gained a new dimension — planning for the future and for a changing lifestyle. Universal design features and amenities that were once off the radar are now very much the focus. Even younger buyers are tuned in to accessibility concerns. Wider doors and hallways, easy to navigate stairs or single-level living, doorless and curbless showers, motion-activated faucets and lighting — these are just a sampling of what may soon become mainstream in American homes.

Add the popularity of home automation and connectivity, and today’s home is uniquely suited for all ages. If you’re thinking of remodeling an existing home, some of these features are well worth the extra cost. Not only do they offer living options, but they also promise great ROI should you wish to sell.

The New Face Of Home

If you are currently looking for a home to buy, view the existing floor plan with an eye toward modifications that would make it more accessible and multi-generation-friendly. Consider the possibility that you might someday share the home with aging parents or with grown children and grandchildren.

Integrated “apartments”with separate entrances, “granny pods”or separate guest houses, dual master bedrooms, and “au pair”quarters are just some of the ways to offer future flexibility. They are common across the country, but also across price ranges, as sensible and cost-effective alternatives to home health care or retirement housing.

Renovate For The Future

Renovations that reflect the changing face of family life are always good choices for return on investment in remodeling. Because the traditional family is no longer the norm, any home that offers such options is desirable. If you have questions about what features are important to buyers in a specific market, speak to a real estate professional about trends that go beyond energy savings and sustainability.

No matter what choices you make about a home update, rely on professional advice and insist on reliable contractors. There is no substitute for quality materials and first-class work. Whether you’re adding space or rearranging it, planning for your future in the home or hoping to appeal to the right buyer, spending a lot or a little, you won’t go wrong with universal design features. Aging is, after all, a reality that we all face sooner or later.

 

Smart Technology or Home Automation: What’s the Difference?

Smart Technology or Home Automation: What's the Difference?Is it worth it to add smart appliances or automated features if you’re selling a home? Just how much connectivity do buyers want? And what exactly do the terms refer to in terms of home updates.

Although smart homes and home automation are sometimes used interchangeably, they actually refer to two basically different concepts about how appliances and home systems can operate. Then there is the need for “connectivity,” adding another dimension to any discussion of futuristic home features.

Home Automation

According to a Texas-based Direct Energy blog, home automation has a long history, beginning with the first labor-saving devices that operated with electrical current. “Automatic” washing machines and hot water heaters certainly made life easier at the time, a time long before wireless technology and integrated home entertainment systems.That may be simplistic, but the truth is that any device that operates without human intervention can be termed automatic.

Today, however, automation commonly refers to home features that are controlled by computer, or that can be set to operate in specific ways: motion-detected lighting, robotic floor cleaners, dishwashers and ovens with delay settings, and the wide range of room monitors, security cameras and voice or motion-controlled devices.

Smart Technology

Computers introduced American homes to smart technology and the Internet of Things. Today, almost every home has several “smart” devices, even if they are simple ones.

Case in point: A programmable thermostat, common sensor-operated smoke detectors, and a backyard irrigation system with a timer control can be termed smart devices, albeit maybe only “elementary” smart.

Today, most smart technology is also controllable by wireless remote device. But the true definition of smart is any product that incorporates sensors or data storage, microprocessors or controls that allow autonomous operation. An internal operating system is employed to assure that the product operates as programmed, either through user interface or initial setup. Modern smart technology allows for broad integration of devices, in effect creating a “genius” network.

Connectivity

The third piece of the technology puzzle is connectivity. Both home automation and smart technology can be “connected,” for greater flexibility and integration, but it’s not necessary. And, just because homeowners can change a setting via smart phone or battery-operated remote doesn’t necessarily make an automatic appliance or home product smart.

Connected products interact with one another over a network; the network collects and shares data, and is designed to monitor and allow some degree of control over the functioning of network-connected products or systems.

For instance, a smart home with sophisticated lighting controls might automatically sense lower light levels at dusk, triggering an adjustment to window shades and turning on both interior and exterior lighting.

Confused? Actually, there’s no real need to be. No matter what you call them, the home features that make living better are all desirable!

Five Reasons Why Spring Is The Perfect Time To Sell

5 Reasons Spring Is The Perfect Time to SellSpring is many people’s favorite season of the year. Obviously, there are many valid reasons why this is so. One of the best things about spring is that it is an ideal time to sell your home.

If you have considered putting your home on the market any time in the next year or so, check out these five reasons which make spring the ideal time.

  • Buyers are searching – A huge majority of home buyers want to move during summer. Many families have school or work vacations that make the moving process a little easier during this time. If you put your home on the market during spring, you ready things for someone to purchase and move in during this prime time.
  • The weather is cooperative – Yes, there may be a few spring rain showers here and there, but during the spring season (in most parts of the country), you’ll find that the weather is neither too hot nor too cold to keep buyers from searching. In addition, the spring sunshine makes for beautiful listing photos.
  • It’s a great time for home improvement – Whether you want to make improvements to your house to make selling easier, or you plan to sell your home as a fixer-upper, the knowledge that spring and the coming summer months is the perfect time to attend to these tasks will benefit you during the listing and sales process.
  • Your yard will look great – They say that curb appeal is one of the most important things that is considered when someone purchases a home. When you sell in springtime, the grass is green, the flowers are in bloom and your yard will look it’s very best. You may find that it’s a little easier to sell during this time just because of the extra “wow factor” your yard brings to the table.
  • The market is prime – Listen to any news or finance program and you’ll hear that the real estate market is booming. Take advantage of this benefit and pair it with all the other reasons to sell your home this spring. You may find that selling your property quickly and at your asking price is much easier than you ever imagined it would be.

As you can see, spring really is an excellent time to sell a home. However, don’t wait until the peak of the season to think about putting it on the market and expect to reap all the benefits. Act now and be ready to make a splash when the weather warms up and the sun comes out to shine.

 

6 Money Making Tips For The First Time Home Seller

6 Money Making Tips For The First Time Home SellerToday’s homebuyers can have specific ideas and personal preferences that influence their decision on what attracts them to a particular property. While some prefer a fixer-upper, many desire a home that’s as close to turn-key as possible.

First time home sellers may help expedite the process with these six home selling tips.

Determine Right Listing Price

A home priced competitively in its market typically sells faster. Professional REALTORS® know the area and look at comparative listings to help determine the right listing price.

First time home sellers often think their home should list higher, and this can turn away buyers. Trust a real estate agent to know the right price that will attract potential buyers for a sale that makes all parties happy.

Curb Appeal Makes a Difference

Great curb appeal has the power to attract buyers and create a positive first impression. Simple enhancements add to curb appeal:

  • Mow the lawn or make sure the walk/driveway is clear of snow/ice
  • Prune overhanging branches and trim bushes
  • Remove any sickly or dead vegetation
  • Replenish missing mulch or rocks in landscape beds
  • Replace worn house numbers and/or mailbox
  • Add fresh potted plants to porch for pop of color
  • De-clutter yard by removing lawn ornaments/art and all kids’ toys
  • Have all exterior lighting in working condition

A fresh coat of paint on the front door, clean windows, and a sidewalk swept free from leaves and debris also add to the overall welcoming look.

De-clutter and Depersonalize

Once potential buyers enter the home, it’s time to make another important impression. Homebuyers should be able to visualize themselves living in the space.

De-cluttering and depersonalizing the home helps. The fewer items in a room, the larger the space feels. Key areas to de-clutter include the kitchen and bathroom, in particular the countertops. Remove all personal items, storing out-of-sight in a closet or cabinet.

In addition, remove personal photographs and large collections if possible. Children’s rooms don’t need to be completely depersonalized, but it’s essential to de-clutter the space to show it to its best advantage.

Repairs and Replacements

Every home has a few small items that need repair but have fallen to low priority. Before listing the home, take the time to make these repairs and replacements.

Tighten that loose cabinet in the kitchen, replace the torn bathroom window screen, and refresh the caulk in the showers. Sometimes it’s the little things that turn off homebuyers and these small repairs may be the tipping point for a sale.

Offer the Extras

In a competitive market, offer extras to entice buyers. Generally, these extras are appliances that stay with the home as part of the sale. Other extras a seller may include within the price of the home are items like window treatments and outdoor accessories like patio furniture.

Consider a Pre-inspection

A pre-inspection can help reduce concerns potential buyers have regarding the home’s current condition. It’s a way to reassure buyers that the house doesn’t have any hidden issues.

However, getting a pre-inspection doesn’t mean homebuyers won’t want their own home inspection, too. Consult with a real estate professional to help determine if a pre-inspection may be helpful.

First time home sellers don’t have to be overwhelmed with the process. With the right preparation and the help of a professional real estate agent, home selling can move swiftly.

 

7 Tips To Plan A Spring Yard ‘Tune-Up’ Before Listing A Home For Sale

7 Tips to Plan a Spring Backyard Tune UpThe oft-repeated maxim that there is never a second chance to make a great first impression is especially true when it comes to real estate. Street appeal may focus on a dramatic approach to the front door, but prospective buyers will be especially “wowed” by an appealing back yard.

Early spring is the perfect time to add some new plants, set out pots of blooming flowers and focus on one memorable feature. A little work now will pay big dividends later, in terms of buyer interest, increased showings, quick offers, and even a higher price.

Here are 7 ideas that are cost-effective weekend projects:

  1. Create a focal point: Find an antique garden trellis and plant some vines to create an arbor. Add a piece of sculpture or statuary either in the center of the yard or in a secluded garden spot. Install a “gate to nowhere” and add bright flowers on one side. Paint giant sunflowers on a privacy fence or on the side of a storage shed.
  2. Build a partial wall or shade trellis: There is little that’s more appealing that an an “outdoor living room.” Accent and define your patio space in an interesting way — use a sisal rug or paint a graphic design on the concrete — and fill the room with appropriate furniture. Add a small fountain or a charcoal fire pit to create a real gathering spot.
  3. Install a simple drip irrigation system: Minimize landscape upkeep by planning DIY drip irrigation that will keep planting areas looking their best. All that’s really needed is some tubing and a few fittings; the system itself can be attached to an outside hose bibb and operated by a simple timer. It’s not necessary to extend the system to the entire lawn; that would be a more costly and time-consuming project perhaps best left to a professional.
  4. Create a dry creek bed: If parts of the yard or garden are plagued by standing water following heavy rain, give drainage an assist by making a dry creek bed. It’s not too difficult and will add function and beauty to the back yard. Add some large boulders or a “Zen bench” to boost the appeal.
  5. Plant or hang solar lights: Define a pathway, highlight planting areas or just add night-time interest to the yard with solar lighting. Buy inexpensive versions at a home store, or order artistic lights from a catalog. They’re fun, functional and portable.
  6. Plant a specialty garden: Attract butterflies and hummingbirds with a patch of wildflowers. Build a small raised garden plot to grow kitchen herbs, or plant seasonal vegetables and edible flowers. Carrots. kale and rainbow chard are especially pretty and don’t take much space. Melons, squash and pumpkins have beautiful flowers and yield great fruit, but they do spread!
  7. Clean up, trim, weed and mow: Finally, don’t neglect the routine maintenance that is required in every yard, both front and back. Nothing else is as important to prospective buyers as an attractive, well-kept home exterior.

 

5 Tips For Prospective Buyers To Submit A Winning Offer

5 Tips For Prospective Buyers To Submit A Winning OfferIn a hot real estate market, agents often tell buyers they must expect to make multiple offers before one is accepted. Disappointment may be the new normal rather than an exception. The stress of repeated rejections isn’t easy, so be prepared.

Significant numbers of first-time buyers find the process difficult, and recent research indicates that about 60 percent of Millennials choose to rent rather than own, delaying other important life decisions, including marriage and family.

There are, however, at least 5 ways to strengthen your buyer profile and give yourself an advantage:

Check Your Credit

Take advantage of the free credit checks offered by the three credit reporting agencies, and clean up any questionable entries. At the very least, be prepared to offer clear and cogent reasons for any late payments that appear within the last couple of years. Pay down credit card balances and student loan debt as much as possible, and assure that your employment record is stable.

Sock Away Some Cash

Try to delay your home search until you have enough money for a reasonable down payment and required closing costs, plus a comfortable nest egg or contingency fund. Demonstrate a consistent savings habit. If you plan to borrow the down payment from parents or other family members, be certain it will be adequate and available when you need it.

Talk With Your Loan Officer

Get a definitive idea of how much you can comfortably afford. If you’re a veteran or qualify for other special loan programs, find out in advance. Gain a comfort level with a lender, and listen to the advice that is offered. Interest rates are currently still low, but any rate change will affect the amount you can borrow. Limit your home search homes priced lower than your loan limit.

The only thing better than a pre-qualification letter is approval confirmation for a specific loan amount. In a fast-paced real estate market, seek that pre-approval, so that you’ll be able to move quickly when you find the right property. A pre-approved loan, an offer with no contingencies, and a quick closing date are the marks of an “A-list” buyer.

Define Your Needs

Know your preferred neighborhoods, and prepare a list of “must have” items as well as a wish list to guide your search. But be realistic. Know that home-buying is a matter of priorities and a game of give and take.

Look at a home’s structure and condition; consider the location, and realize that there is no such thing as the perfect house. Know that tired style can be updated, and decor changes are relatively easy on the pocketbook.

Make the First Offer Your Best Offer

In a seller’s market, it’s wise to make the initial offer your best offer. A lowball bid will not impress the seller, and you may never get a chance to submit a higher bid. When there is serious competition for homes, it pays to be serious about every offer.

Finally, know that if you’re persistent and prepared, you will find a home to suit you. Practice patience!

7 Excellent Ideas For Building An Eco-Friendly Home

7 excellent ideas for building and eco friendly homeIn recent years, building an environmentally friendly home or updating an existing home to be more energy efficient has become much more mainstream. While building an entirely green residence isn’t always fiscally possible, simple eco-friendly building techniques and upgrades will ultimately lower your water and electricity bills.

These green home improvements will save you money in the long run, while also saving the planet. The following are some of the easiest ways to lower your carbon footprint when building or updating a home.

Build or Purchase a Smaller Home

Smaller homes naturally have a lower impact on the environment. There is less square footage to cool and heat, which keeps energy consumption down. However, this doesn’t mean that you need to give up your dream home. Instead, create an ideal floor plan with usable space, and downsize rooms you know you will not use on a daily — or even weekly — basis.

Use Energy-Efficient Windows

When building a home or updating an existing home, use Energy Star-labeled windows. This important label means that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has deemed them as energy efficient. The money saved on future heating and cooling bills often more than make up for the initial cost differential.

Use Energy-Efficient Products

Like windows, certain appliances are also Energy Star-labeled. Energy Star appliances conserve energy, without sacrificing performance. Everything from a single light bulb to a geothermal heat pump can come with this important, government-approved label.

Use Proper Insulation

Heating and cooling typically accounts for approximately half of a home’s energy consumption, and this energy usage is often wasted due to poor insulation. Start by making sure there are no drafts by windows and doors. This is one of the easiest things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint and the price of your monthly bills.

Install Solar Panels

Solar energy is both clean and renewable, and solar panels are the perfect way to harness this remarkable form of energy. While the initial cost of installation can seem high, the money saved in the long term is extraordinary. Plus, there are often tax breaks and other monetary incentives. When building a new home, consult with a knowledgeable architect about positioning the property and the solar panels for maximum sun exposure.

Use Sustainable Building Materials

Sustainable building materials can be utilized throughout the entire building process. When picking out wood for the frame of the home, use a supplier who practices an environmentally friendly planting and harvesting process. Once in the design phase, consider bamboo and/or cork flooring. They are both eco-friendly and trendy.

Save Water

There are numerous ways to cut back on water usage. To start, install low-flow aerators on toilets and shower heads, invest in a tankless water heater and only use an Energy Star-rated washing machine. Next, capture rainwater on your property in a cistern or barrel. This water can be used for landscaping and irrigation.

Creating a green home doesn’t have to be complicated. Simple updates and a bit of forethought can drastically reduce monthly bills, while simultaneously reducing fossil-fuel emissions.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – October 2, 2017

Last week’s economic reports included Case-Shiller’s Home Price Indices, readings on new and pending home sales and Freddie Mac ‘s weekly mortgage rates report. Weekly jobless claims and reports on inflation and core inflation were also released.

CaseShiller Home Prices Rise in July; New and Pending Home Sales Lower in August

According to Case-Shiller July Index reports, national home prices rose at a rate of 5.8

90 percent on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis as compared to June’s reading of 5.80 percent. The top three cities in the 20-City Home Price Index were Seattle, Washington, Portland, Oregon and Las Vegas, Nevada.

Home prices are responding to high demand for homes and limited inventories of homes for sale. Although this trend has persisted in the last few years, lower readings for sales of new homes and pending home sales were lower in August. Analysts said this could indicate that home prices are topping out due to affordability and few homes for sale.

New home sales fell to 560,000 on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis in August as compared to July’s reading of 580,000 sales. While real estate pros and economists look to pending home sales as an indicator for future closings and mortgage originations, August’s reading slipped lower into negative territory with a reading of – 2.60 percent. July’s reading for pending home sales was – 0.80 percent.

Mortgage Rates Stay Flat, New Jobless Claims Rise

Freddie Mac reported no change in average fixed mortgage rates. 30-year fixed rate mortgages had an average rate of 3.83 percent and 15-year fixed rate mortgage rates held steady at an average of 3.13 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose by three basis points to 3.20 percent. Discount points averaged 0.60 percent for 30-year fixed rate mortgages and 0.50 percent for 15-year fixed rate and 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

First-time jobless claims rose by 12,000 to 272,000 claims. Analysts expected 270,000 new jobless claims; 260,000 new claims were filed the prior week.

Inflation rose by 0.10 percent in August, which matched expectations and was lower than July’s growth rate of 0.30 percent. Core inflation, which excludes volatile food and energy sectors, was unchanged at 0.10 percent and fell short of expectations of 0.20 percent growth in August.

Consumer sentiment fell to an index reading of 95.10 percent and met analysts’ expectations based on August’s reading of 95.30

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic reports include readings on construction spending and labor-sector reports from ADP Payrolls, Non-Farm payrolls and the national unemployment rate for September. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.

Case-Shiller: February Home Prices Grow at Fastest Pace in 3 Years

According to the Case-Shiller National Home Price Index, February home prices grew at their fastest pace in three years. While home prices have steadily grown in recent months, growth rates slowed in many areas month-to-month; the escalation of home prices from January to February indicates stronger housing markets. National home prices increased by 0.20 percent in February to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 5.80 percent appreciation.

Case-Shiller’s 20-City Home Price Index posted a month-to-month gain of 0.20 percent for a year-over-year gain of 5.90 percent. Seattle, Washington again topped the 20-City index with year-over-year home price growth of 12.20 percent. Portland Oregon followed with an annual price gain of 9.70 percent. Denver, Colorado was replaced by Dallas, Texas with a year-over-year home price growth rate of 8.80 percent. Fifteen cities posted higher year-over-year gains in home prices in February as compared to January readings.

Monthto Month Home Prices

Case-Shiller National, 20-City and 10-City Home Price Indices reported moth-to-month 0.20 percent home price growth before seasonal adjustment. After prices were seasonally adjusted, national home prices increased by 0.40 percent month-to-month; the 20-city index showed an increase of 0.70 percent and home prices in the 10-City Index rose by 0.60 percent after seasonal adjustment.

Home Prices Rising on High Demand, Low Inventory of Homes Available

David M. Blitzer, Managing Director and Chair of the S&P Dow Jones Indices Committee, said that ongoing shortages of homes for sale continue to boost home prices as demand exceeds supply. First-time and moderate income home buyers continue to face affordability concerns as rising home prices can negatively impact buyers’ ability to qualify for mortgage loans.

Analysts said that while rising home prices are a sign of economic strength, housing market indicators such as housing starts have not had corresponding growth rates. New construction is viewed as the only way to ease demand for homes as rising home prices have so far not cooled demand.

4 Mistakes Made by First-time Home Sellers And How To Avoid Them

4 Terrible Mistakes Made by First-time Home SellersMany factors go into selling a home for the first time. Some can make it a stressful process, and there are a few things you should avoid for a successful sale. If you’re putting your home on the market and hoping for quick success, here are some common mistakes you’ll want to be sure to bypass.

Pricing Your Home Too High

It’s entirely likely that there’s an amount you have in mind when it comes to selling your home. But it’s important that your asking price is in line with the market conditions and what’s being offered. Instead of winging it, check the local neighborhood listings and see what similar homes are selling for so yours won’t be left to linger.

Forgetting The Small Repairs

After you’ve put your home up for sale and have arranged an open house, one of the first things people will notice is the small repairs like paint chips or loose doorknobs that haven’t yet been fixed. Instead of letting this negatively impact the offers you’ll receive, complete the little fix-ups before you schedule your open house so potential homebuyers are not turned off.

Missing On Marketing

There are so many avenues for selling a home these days that it can be hard to know which way to go. However, it’s best to consider all of your options and utilize social media to widen the audience you’ll attract. Keep in mind that if you’re investing in a website or brochures, it’s important to hire a good photographer to show your home in its best light.

Selling It On Your Own

Hitting the market on your own can be rife with a lot of questions, so as a first-time seller you may want to consider the services of a real estate agent. It’s just important to ensure that the person you choose is qualified and has experience in your community so they can steer you in the right direction and offer helpful advice.

Selling a home for the first time can be a stressful thing.  But by utilizing the right agent and having reasonable expectations, it may be off the market before you know it.

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