Date Archives: September 2016

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September
29

Fixer-upper homes tend to be less expensive than top-to-bottom remodels, but the markdown may not equal the cost of a basic renovation, according to a recently released report by Zillow Digs®. The report's findings show median fixer-uppers list for 8 percent less than market value, which allows for a reno budget of just $11,000. "Fixer-uppers can be a great deal, and they allow buyers to incorporate their personal style into a home while renovating, but it's still a good idea to do the math before making the leap," explains Svenja Gudell, Zillow's chief economist. "While an 8-percent discount or $11,000 in upfront savings on a fixer-upper is certainly a good chunk of change, it likely won't be enough to cover a kitchen remodel, let alone structural updates like a new roof or plumbing, which many of these properties require." The margins vary by market, with fixers in more expensive areas yielding the highest upfront savings—prices for median fixers in San Francisco, according to the report, are marked down 10 percent, which, due to high property values, affords buyers $54,000 for renovations. Fixer-upper market snapshots included in the report: New York/Northern New Jersey Markdown: 4.4 percent Reno Breakeven: $12,000 Los Angeles/Long Beach/Anaheim, Calif. Markdown: 2.7 percent Reno Breakeven: $12,000 Chicago, Ill. Markdown: 13.8 percent Reno Breakeven: $19,000 Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas Markdown: 5.4 percent Reno Breakeven: $6,000 Philadelphia, Pa. Markdown: 13.7 percent Reno Breakeven: $17,000 Is a fixer-upper worth it? As Gudell notes, it's best to do the math—and discuss your options with your real estate professional. Source: Zillow Digs® Published with permission from RISMedia.
September
26

The American Dream of Homeownership. For most, it may be the single largest purchase they will make in their lifetimes, offering the dual promises of security and stability and a valuable investment to pass on to their children and future generations. The process and experience of home buying can be daunting, so consistency of service and investing in a trusted real estate company are key starting points for consumers in the market to buy or sell a home. Today, no other brand is consistently receiving third-party validation for its consistency of service and is valued more by home buying and selling consumers than Century 21 Real Estate LLC. In 2016, for example, the iconic C21® brand was recognized by two prestigious organizations with impeccable histories of delivering to market unbiased and unfiltered research on real estate companies consumers can rely on: 1) The CENTURY 21® System received for the third consecutive year the highest customer satisfaction ranking by the prestigious J.D. Power Home Buyer/Seller Satisfaction Study. The CENTURY 21 brand was awarded the "Highest Overall Satisfaction for First-Time Home Sellers, First-Time Home Buyers, Repeat Home Sellers, and Repeat Home Buyers (tied in 2016) among national full service real estate firms".*   and 2) The CENTURY 21 brand ranked highest in total brand awareness** among all consumers when presented with a list of real estate agencies for the 18th consecutive year, according to a recently released 2016 Millward Brown consumer survey. The Millward study also found that both the Latino Community at large and Hispanic Millennials endorse Century 21 Real Estate significantly higher than the competition, with total awareness of the CENTURY 21 brand among the Hispanic community at 91%, significantly higher than the nearest competitor at 69%. For Hispanic Millennials in particular, total awareness was at 88%, 24 percentage points higher than the next competitor at 64%. At 45%, Hispanic consumers also selected the CENTURY 21 System as the most recognized name in real estate, significantly higher than the nearest competitor at 32%. The findings of these third-party research companies showcase the C21 organization's strength in delivering consistency of service to home buyers and sellers in the local markets our independent brokers and sales associates live and work in. Think about it: In today's experience economy, customers and clients have unprecedented access to brands-both offline and online—and there is an explosion in the number of ways they choose to interact with professionals, services and technologies. So, for us, proud members of the CENTURY 21 System, consistency of service is in our 'DNA' throughout our global ecosystem. It's how we remain relevant in the hearts and minds of today's home buyers and sellers, who demand, and deserve, a real estate company that is honest and authentic from the first point of contact throughout the lifetime of relationship. Our slogan, SMARTER. BOLDER. FASTER.® coupled with a value proposition whose foundation is built on honesty, integrity and the highest standards of quality service, is resonating with consumers and helping home buyers and sellers of all ages make the best real estate decisions possible. And that, well, is why there's no business like the real estate business and there is no brand like the iconic CENTURY 21 brand. *The CENTURY 21 brand received the highest numerical score among 5 real estate companies for first-time homebuyers and sellers, repeat home buyers and sellers (in a tie for repeat home buyer) in the J.D. Power 2014-2016 HomeBuyer/Seller Satisfaction Study. 2016 study based on 1,453 total responses, measuring the perceptions and experiences of customers who bought and/or sold a home between March 2015 and April 2016, surveyed February-April 2016. Your experiences may vary. Visit jdpower.com **Study Source: 2016 Millward Brown Ad Tracking Study. The survey results are based on 1,200 online interviews with a national random sample of adults (ages 18+) who are equal decision makers in real estate transactions and active in the real estate market (bought or sold a home within the past two years or, plan to purchase or sell a home within the next two years. Brand awareness question based on a sample of 1,200 respondents. Results are significant at a 90% confidence level, with a margin of error of +/-2.4%. Recognition question based on consumers aware of brand. Results are significant at a 90% confidence level, with a margin of error of +/- 2.4%. The study was conducted by Millward Brown, a leading global market research organization, from May 4 - May 25, 2016.  
September
22

(BPT)—Buying a new home is exciting, but the experience is not without challenges. Finding your dream home requires an eye for detail, expert guidance, and, above all, patience. Buying a newly built home, specifically, comes with a set of considerations, such as amenities, location and security. Three of the most important are: The Home Inspection Never disregard the importance of an impartial home inspection. An inspection can not only help you uncover structural issues within a home, but also help you determine if its electrical, HVAC and plumbing systems are functional and up to code. Be present during the inspection. Discuss your options with your REALTOR®, if negotiations are necessary. Value-Add Features Value-add features are another important consideration to make when searching for a newly built home. Make note of these features as you view homes. Ask yourself: What existing features will make me (and my family) feel comfortable, happy and secure, now and in the future? Safety No new home's top-of-the-line amenities can replace a sense of safety. Look for features, such as arc fault circuit interrupter (AFCI) outlets, an alarm system, carbon monoxide/smoke detectors and secure doors and windows, that will enhance the safety of your new home. Planning to move to a newly constructed home? Contact a real estate professional today! Source: Leviton (https://ift.tt/2cKisJY) Published with permission from RISMedia.
September
15

(BPT) - Purchasing a new home is an exciting and sometimes stressful experience. Whether you're moving to a new town or looking to upgrade from your current space, finding a new home requires patience, expert guidance and a keen eye for detail. As a home seeker, the first thing you'll evaluate is location, space and amenities such as fireplaces, granite countertops, a finished basement, deck or a swimming pool. The next thing to consider is cost, shopping for the right mortgage, making your down payment and negotiating other fees. Finally, you look at the various features inside and outside the home that make it safe, convenient and energy-efficient for you and your family. To ease some of the stress of house hunting, here are a few top considerations to keep in mind throughout the process: Always start with an impartial home inspection. Home inspections can help potential buyers uncover the structural issues of a home, while also examining if electrical wiring and devices are up to code, plumbing lines are performing correctly and HVAC systems are running efficiently. In order to locate and properly evaluate any concerns, it is crucial that you research the best impartial home inspector in the area, be present during the inspection itself and thoroughly read the inspection report on the property. Sometimes issues identified are quick fixes which you can address yourself, such as replacing older electrical switches and outlets. You can evaluate if you're able to make these quick updates safely yourself by viewing sample installations at https://www.youtube.com/leviton. However, other conditions may require more labor-intensive repairs and outside contracting, which should be included in your budget or negotiated with the seller before purchasing your new place. Determine any value-add features you want that are already in the home. According to the National Association of Realtors' 2015 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, a home buyer's expected tenure in a newly purchased home is approximately 14 years on average. While it's not uncommon to change things the longer you live there, it's equally important to note the features that certain properties already have during your initial home search to avoid costly replacements and construction projects down the line. As you're searching, keep the long-term in mind and consider what you may want in the future. Be sure to ask a lot of questions during each walk-through. For example, are there enough bathrooms to meet your family's needs? Will your family grow? Does the kitchen have a gas line for appliances? Is there a properly-installed and updated heating and cooling system? Does the master bedroom have a walk-in closet? What amenities will make you and your family feel safe, happy and comfortable from the moment you walk in the door and for years to come? What measures have been taken to make the home safe? It's important to consider a home's safety features, especially if you're moving into a new residence with children or pets. So, what classifies as a safety amenity? Depending on the home and location, safety features should include alarm systems, working door and window locks, working carbon monoxide detectors, smoke alarms and Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI) Outlets. Especially when it comes to electrical outlets in areas like the living room and bedroom, products like Leviton's SmartlockPro AFCI Outlet should be installed. These AFCI outlets prevent electrical fires in the home and are tamper-resistant, providing added safety for all members of the family. To see what other electrical safety and home products you should look for or look to install in your potential home, check out https://ift.tt/2cKisJY.
September
9

(BPT) - Call this the age of personalization. You can customize practically anything these days, from the kind of information you get on your favorite news feed and the offers you receive from your bank to the icons, background and sounds on your smartphone. Personalizing something really makes it feel more 'yours,' so of course you want to be able to do that to your first home. If you're shopping for your first home, you may already know what you want to do to personalize it. However, you may not be aware that certain features can make a home easier and more affordable to customize after you've moved in. For example, if you think you'll need room to expand for a growing family down the road, it will be cheaper in the long run to buy a home with an attic or basement that you can finish into living space than to try and build on an addition from scratch. As you're shopping for your first home, keep in mind these elements that will help make it easier and financially feasible for you to make your new home truly your own: Architectural bones that are right for you What's your personal style? Do you favor a mid-century modern look? Art-deco? Craftsman? Colonial? It's important to choose a home in a basic architectural style you love, because while you can affordably change the color and landscaping, it's much harder to create a whole new look. Look for exterior features that play up the home's architectural style, and then think of ways to customize them down the road. For example, simply painting the gingerbread trim on your Victorian style home in a different color can celebrate the look you love while making it your own. Energy efficient lifestyle features Green considerations and energy efficiency are top priorities for many of today's first-time homebuyers, so it's important to look for a home that has conservation-minded features like a high-efficiency water heater or low-flow showerheads. The best eco-conscious home features, however, will also enhance your lifestyle. Upgrades like Energy Star-qualified, solar-powered, fresh-air skylights like those from Velux America provide natural light plus passive ventilation, helping to cut energy costs while reducing dependency on artificial light and ventilation sources. If you buy a home that already has skylights, you can personalize them by adding energy efficient blinds in designer colors and patterns. And if you add solar powered skylights to the home, it's easy and cost-effective since there is no cost for electrical work to operate the units. Solar skylights, blinds and installation costs are eligible for a 30 percent federal tax credit. A programmable touchpad remote allows you to adjust the amount of light entering through the venting skylights and also to adjust the blinds with the touch of button. The skylights close automatically in case of rain. You can also easily and affordably add more natural light to interior spaces like hallways and closets with Sun Tunnel tubular skylights, which can be installed by a handy DIYer in a few hours. Visit www.whyskylights.com to learn more. Room to grow More Americans are living in multi-generational homes. Whether you plan to grow your family by having kids, moving your aging parents in with you, or adopting as many pets as you can fit in your house, you may find you'll need more space in your new home before you're ready to move out of it. Homes that have unfinished basements and/or attics will be easier to customize for your growing space needs. Converting an attic or basement into living space can cost much less than having an addition built on your home and attics are perfect spaces to easily add light and fresh air with skylights or roof windows. A price that lets you add value Popular renovation and fixer-upper shows make it easy to understand the idea of finding a home at a price that will allow you to add value. A home that needs some renovation and upgrading will likely cost less than a comparable new home, but it also affords you the opportunity to extensively personalize your space. If you buy a home that needs work for a price well under your budget limit, you can use the extra money to invest in renovations that put your personal stamp on your home. In addition to customization for additional enjoyment, those upgrades will also allow you to instantly add value to your home.
September
2

Buying a home for the first time can seem daunting. One way to alleviate the process is to organize your finances before embarking on the house hunt. Unsure how to get yours in order? Remember A + B + C + D + E: Ask + Budget + Check + Differentiate + Estimate Before you start searching for a home, ask a real estate professional for guidance. He or she will have expertise related not only to financing, but also to negotiating a deal in your favor. Next, set a budget that takes into account your down payment, your anticipated monthly mortgage payment (with interest), and your closing costs. These figures are all important considerations in the home-buying process. Prior to house-hunting, check your credit report and score. Your credit is a determining factor in a lender's approval or denial of your mortgage loan application, as well as your mortgage interest rate. Take steps to correct any errors on your report, or improve your score, if necessary. Shop around for mortgage lenders to differentiate between loan offerings—even a slight variation in rates or terms can lead to significant savings over the life of your loan. Your real estate professional may recommend a lender, but it is ultimately your choice with whom to obtain a mortgage. Estimate oft-forgotten homeownership-related expenses, such as your monthly homeowners insurance premium, your maintenance costs, your moving expenditures, your property taxes and your utility rates. These will all play a role in your overall affordability. Completing A, B, C, D and E will not only prepare you for the home-buying process, but also lay a strong financial foundation for you as a new homeowner. The result of the equation speaks for itself! Published with permission from RISMedia.

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