Date Archives: December 2016

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December
30

An outdoor kitchen. Double sinks in the master bath. A wrap-around porch.  Solar panels. There are just so many things we want our new home to have. However, when shopping for our dream home, it's essential to steer the dream a little bit more toward reality. No home will have every single feature you desire, so before you set out on the search, sit down and think hard. Also think long-term. While certain features may not matter to you, they may weigh heavily in determining your home's resale value. According to a recent report by Kiplinger, there are seven features that will help sell a home faster: a laundry room; exterior lighting; energy efficient appliances and windows; a patio; hardwood floors; garage storage space; and an eat-in kitchen. For most of us, our must-haves are rooted in practicality—a classic case of needs vs. wants. Which would explain why some of the most unwanted features in a home, according to a National Association of Home Builders study, include a pet-washing station, an elevator and a wine cellar. Some important musts, therefore, often involve:
  • The number of bedrooms and/or potential to turn a room into an additional bedroom – are you planning on children? Need space for an in-law to move in?
  • The master bedroom – is it big enough for your king bed and does it include a master bath?
  • The number and condition of other bathrooms
  • The yard - how much space and privacy do you need to be happy?
  • The kitchen – do you need a new kitchen with high-tech appliances or are you willing to update down the road?
  • Closet space – is there adequate storage for your current belongings with room to expand?
  • The school district – an obvious factor if you have or are planning to have children, but also important if you don't as it will affect your home's resale value
  • Proximity to work – are you willing to commute or is a walkable community a high priority?
  • New construction – are you looking for a maintenance-free environment or the charm of an older home with DIY options?
Of course, your musts are very unique to you and, therefore, may vary from the above. The key factor in determining a must-have from a nice-to-have is whether it is something that can be cost-effectively and efficiently accomplished down the road, such as crown molding or a fire pit. Musts should be those features that are difficult and costly, if not impossible, to handle on your own, such as a bigger garage or a new roof. Remember that above all, your "dream" home will be the one that grabs you for some intangible reason or for a combination of unexpected features you never knew you wanted until you saw them. So try to keep your must-list to a minimum and your open mind to a maximum—and most of all, enjoy the process. Maria Patterson is RISMedia's executive editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at maria@rismedia.com. By Maria Patterson This was originally published on RISMedia's blog, Housecall. Visit the blog daily for housing and real estate tips and trends. Like Housecall on Facebook and follow @HousecallBlog on Twitter.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2016. All rights reserved.

December
22

A fenced-in yard. Double sinks. A wrap-around porch.  An open floor plan. Solar panels. There are just so many things we want our new home to have. Young Family Looking at a Beautiful New Home. However, when shopping for our dream home, it's essential to steer the dream a little bit more toward reality. No home will have every single feature you desire, so before you set out on the search, sit down, think hard and narrow down your list of must-haves. Must-haves are usually rooted in practicality – a classic case of needs vs. wants. Some important musts, therefore, often involve:
  • The number of bedrooms and/or potential to turn a room into an additional bedroom – are you planning on children? Need space for an in-law to move in?
  • The master bedroom – is it big enough for your king bed and does it include a master bath?
  • The number and condition of other bathrooms
  • The yard - how much space and privacy do you need to be happy?
  • The kitchen – do you need a new kitchen with high-tech appliances or are you willing to update down the road?
  • Closet space – is there adequate storage for your current belongings with room to expand?
  • The school district – an obvious factor if you have or are planning to have children, but also important if you don't as it will affect your home's resale value
  • Proximity to work – are you willing to commute or is a walkable community a high priority?
  • New construction – are you looking for a maintenance-free environment or the charm of an older home with DIY options?
Of course, your musts are very unique to you and, therefore, may vary from the above. The key factor in determining a must-have from a nice-to-have is whether it is something that can be cost-effectively and efficiently accomplished down the road, such as crown molding or an outdoor kitchen. Musts should be those features that are difficult and costly, if not impossible, to handle on your own, such as a bigger garage or a new roof. Remember that above all, your "dream" home will be the one that grabs you for some intangible reason or for a combination of unexpected features you never knew you wanted until you saw them. So try to keep your must-list to a minimum and your open mind to a maximum—and most of all, enjoy the process. By Maria Patterson

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2016. All rights reserved.

December
15

Searching for a home should not be taken lightly. Keep in mind that approximately one out of four homeowners is unhappy with their homes—don't join that group! Increase your chances of real estate happiness with the following tips. Use Your Smartphone One issue that can get in the way of appreciating a possible house is if you cannot see how renovations or furniture might look in the home. There are several smartphone applications that can help you by using a 3D image, taken by you. This will allow you to place furniture or renovations in the space to see how it may change the property—a great way to see if the house is really meant for you. Hire Help You may think that finding the right house is as simple as perusing real estate listings online or jumping in a car and visiting homes with a for sale sign on them. This could work, but it might take a long time to find a house. Finding the right home among thousands can get tedious. That is, of course, unless you have access to a REALTOR® who can help you narrow down your options. Narrowing down choices can be as simple as saying that you need a house with two or three bedrooms to something as small as making sure it has a fireplace. Do Your Research There are a number of sites that can help you find out the type of neighborhood that might be right for you to live in. Some crime rate and report sites will let you see the crime rate in the area of your possible home. This is valuable real estate information. You should also make sure that the house is in your budget, because mortgage payments are one of the reasons some homeowners are unhappy with their choices. https://ace.rismedia.com/ Location Is Negotiable Some homeowners who regret buying their homes feel like they were pressured into purchasing. Do not let yourself feel pressured. Take your time, and be sure to consider areas out of town, as well. Remember that finding the right house is a magical experience, because the right place will speak to you. Having your REALTOR® expand your options gives you more real estate choices—some homes might even be cheaper in certain areas. Keep these tips in mind as you search for your home. When you find the right house, be sure not to stall, because someone might snatch it off the market! This was originally published on RISMedia's blog, Housecall. Visit the blog daily for housing and real estate tips and trends. Like Housecall on Facebook and follow @HousecallBlog on Twitter. By Hannah Whittenly  

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2016. All rights reserved.

December
9

Anyone who's owned a home before knows their expense extends beyond insurance and a mortgage. How much, really, does homeownership cost? According to the U.S. Census Bureau's American Housing Survey (AHS), recently released with data from 2015, the real cost of homeownership factors in not only financing a home, but also maintaining and living in it. Spotlight stats from the survey include:
  • Eighteen percent (the majority) of households that built or purchased a home in 2015 did so with a down payment of 11-20 percent. Less (15.2 percent) put down 21 percent or more. Even less (12.9 percent) put down 6-10 percent.
  • Ninety-five percent had only one mortgage; 5 percent had two mortgages. Of the nearly 40 percent who refinanced their one mortgage, 71.2 percent refinanced for a lower interest rate.
  • Households (owned) paid a median $133 per month for fuel oil, $117 per month for electricity, $53 per month for piped gas, and $46 per month for water.
  • Households (owned) paid a median $500 on routine maintenance (e.g., painting, fixing leaks).
  • Households (owned) paid a median $1,200 on home improvement projects (e.g., aging-in-place accessibility, energy-efficient upgrades). Just over 3 percent completed at least one project to prepare their home for sale.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2016. All rights reserved.

December
2

We've all heard homeownership sometimes referred to as "a money pit." Sure, homes are expensive, but there is no substitute for the sense of pride and comfort you achieve from living in a space that is truly your own.   Young homeowners decorating their house Young homeowners decorating their house[/caption] That said, it's true that from the day you move in to the day you sell your home, there will always be something that will need to be repaired or even  remodeled as you—and your family—grows, shifts and changes. But to be a proactive homeowner, you will want to keep an eye out for the small issues that could cost big bucks down the line—like a crack in the foundation or a drafty window. Below are a few top tips for forward-thinking. This information will protect your real estate investment far into the future: Take Inventory Get in the habit of taking an inventory at least once every year of every nook and cranny of your home to check for potential problems. Examine the roof, foundation, plumbing, electrical wiring—basically everything. Try to fix trouble spots as soon as you uncover them. This proactive approach will help you avoid larger expenses later on, so leave no stone unturned when taking inventory. Budget Accordingly Some say you should expect to spend one percent of the purchase price of your home every year to handle a myriad of tasks, including painting, tree trimming, repairing gutters, caulking windows and routine system repairs and maintenance. An older home will usually require more maintenance, although a lot will depend on how well it has been maintained over the years. Tell yourself that the upkeep of your home is mandatory, and budget accordingly. Otherwise, your home's value will suffer if you allow it to fall into a state of disrepair. Remember, there is usually a direct link between a property's condition and its real estate market value: The better its condition, the more a buyer will likely pay for it down the road. Play it Safe Don't assume that a problem will stay the same if left unattended. If your gutters are clogged, play it safe and unclog them to avoid leaks. Adopt the attitude that the cost of good home maintenance is usually minor compared to what it will cost to remedy a situation that you allowed to get out of hand. For example, unclogging and sealing gutters may cost a few hundred dollars. But repairing damage to a corner of your home where gutters have leaked can potentially cost several thousand dollars.

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