The #1 Reason to Put Your House on the Market TODAY!

The #1 Reason to Put Your House on the Market TODAY!

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) released the results of their latest Existing Home Sales Report which revealed that home sales declined 0.6% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.38 million in June from 5.41 million in May, and are 2.2% below a year ago. Some may look at these numbers and think that now is a bad time to sell their house, but in fact, the opposite is true.

The national slowdown in sales is directly tied to a lack of inventory available for the buyers who are out in the market looking for their dream homes! In fact, the inventory of homes for sale had fallen year-over-year for 36 consecutive months before posting a modest 0.5% gain last month and has had an upward impact on home prices.

NAR’s Chief Economist Lawrence Yun had this to say,

“It’s important to note that despite the modest year-over-year rise in inventory, the current level is far from what’s needed to satisfy demand levels. Furthermore, it remains to be seen if this modest increase will stick, given the fact that the robust economy is bringing more interested buyers into the market, and new home construction is failing to keep up.”

The few houses that are on the market are selling fast! According to NAR’s Realtors Confidence Index, properties were typically on the market for 26 days.

Bottom Line

If you are one of the many homeowners who is debating listing your house for sale this year, the time is now! Let’s get together to discuss the specifics of our market!

Demand for Homes to Buy Continues to Climb

Demand for Homes to Buy Continues to Climb

Across the United States, there is a severe mismatch between the low number of houses for sale and the high demand for those houses! First-time homebuyers are out in force and are being met with a highly competitive summer real estate market.

According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the inventory of homes for sale“has fallen year-over-year for 36 consecutive months,” and now stands at a 4.1-month supply. A 6-month supply of inventory is necessary for a balanced market and has not been seen since August of 2012.

NAR’s Chief Economist Lawrence Yun had this to say,

“Inventory coming onto the market during this year’s spring buying season – as evidenced again by last month’s weak reading – was not even close to being enough to satisfy demand.

That is why home prices keep outpacing incomes and listings are going under contract in less than a month – and much faster – in many parts of the country.”

Is There Any Relief Coming?

According to the CoreLogic’s 2018 Consumer Housing Sentiment Study, four times as many renters are considering buying homes in the next 12 months than homeowners who are planning to sell, “which is the crux of the available housing-supply imbalance.”

As more and more renters realize the benefits of homeownership, the demand for housing will continue to rise.

Do homeowners realize demand is so high? With home prices rising across the country, homeowners gained over a trillion dollars in equity over the last 12 months, with the average homeowner gaining over $16,000!

The map below shows the breakdown by state:

Many homeowners who have not thought about listing their homes may not even realize how much equity they have gained, or the opportunity available to them in today’s market!

Bottom Line

If you are one of the many homeowners across the country who hasn’t quite found their forever home, now may be a great time to list your house for sale and find your dream home!

Lack of Listings Slowing Down the Market

Lack of Listings Slowing Down the Market

As the real estate market continues to move down the road to a complete recovery, we see home values and home sales increasing while distressed sales (foreclosures and short sales) continue to fall to their lowest points in years. There is no doubt that the housing market will continue to strengthen throughout 2018.

However, there is one thing that may cause the industry to tap the brakes: a lack of housing inventory!

Here’s what a few industry experts have to say about the current inventory crisis:

Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist for the National Association of Realtors

“Inventory coming onto the market during this year’s spring buying season…was not even close to being enough to satisfy demand, that is why home prices keep outpacing incomes and listings are going under contract in less than a month – and much faster – in many parts of the country.”

Sam Khater, Chief Economist for Freddie Mac

“While this spring’s sudden rise in mortgage rates [took] up a good chunk of the conversation, it’s the stubbornly low inventory levels in much of the country that are preventing sales from really taking off like they should… Most markets simply need a lot more new and existing supply to cool price growth and give buyers enough choices.”

Alexandra Lee, Housing Data Analyst for Trulia

This seasonal inventory jump wasn’t enough to offset the historical year-over-year downward trend that has continued over 14 consecutive quarters…Despite the second-quarter gain, inventory was down 5.3% from a year ago. Still, this represents an easing of the double-digit drops we’ve been seeing since the second quarter of 2017.”

Bottom Line

If you are thinking about selling, now may be the time. Demand for your house will be strongest while there is still very little competition which could lead to a quick sale for a great price.

Should I Stay or Should I Sell?

Should I Stay or Should I Sell?

Elliot Eisenberg, The Bow Tie Economist, told me that 40% of homes in the US are free and clear of the mortgage. If not totally free and clear there is a whopping 45% who have over 50% equity.  Who would those people be?  They’re probably Baby Boomers who’ve lived in their home 15+ years or investors. 

Every homeowner considers selling at some point. The question is why would they sell?  The National Association of Realtors says 80% of homeowners considered remodeling. There are lots of questions in deciding to stay or to sell.

Most people who have been in the home for 10+ years love their neighborhood and have a relationship with her neighbors. First, they’ll consider a few upgrades that immediately morphs into creeping scope. If you check posts on NextDoor, everyone asks for “a reasonable handyman for just a small repair,” the roof, a leak, a tiny carpentry repair. If I find one, I would marry him. Most homeowners don’t understand that a tiny repair is usually in front of a big fat one. What’s starts out as the kitchen remodel turns into a kitchen/Bathroom/Basement makeover. Once the kitchen is underway the rest of the house looks shabby. So while you’re working on the kitchen plumbing, why not add a bathroom? The real question is how much time money, and energy does it take for this transformation to happen? Will it turn my home into a dream home, or will it leave you wanting?

There is no right or wrong answer. Sometimes the layout works perfectly with a few updates. Other times, the layout is the problem. Last year I sold two homes because each of the sellers had knee operations. Their homes has second floor bedrooms, and they couldn’t do stairs. Moving was their only option. If you need a main floor bed and bath, and your current home has all of the bedrooms upstairs, that’s a major overhaul. Cost is another important factor. Most people under estimate what it costs and how long it takes for that transformation to happen. Since we are all trained by HGTV to think that is project should be completed in an hour under budget without surprises, we’re headed for a bumpy ride. Where are you going to live for 6 weeks with all the banging and pounding going on? How do you plan on paying for the remodeling?

A successful remodel is much easier with both the professional designer or architect and a contractor. Contractors do not design, they hire subcontractors to lay floor, do plumbing, do electrical and paint. Unlike reality TV, they don’t decorate either.  You want to be clear at the beginning exactly who does what, get a sworn statement and leave a little cushion for surprises. Surprise is a bad word in real estate, but we can’t always prevent them from happening.  A contractor estimates your project, and will come up with a final number. Then he’ll give you a sworn statement of cost that shouldn’t vary in the process.

If you decide that remodeling isn’t your best option, here are a few tips you need to know. You want to know how much your home is worth in today’s marketplace and what you need to do to make it market ready. Online evaluations lie. They don’t mean to, but it uses cold hard data of location, square feet, # of bedrooms.  Data hasn’t seen your home, the charming character, the fond memories, or the DIY sweat you put into it. Data doesn’t know that every buyer is trained by HGTV expecting that the Property Brothers crew ran through and pulled it together. They also expect that sellers are Marie Kondo devotees (Tidying Up with Marie Kondo) and intend to leave the home like a pristine Shinto temple.

Now comes the hard part, getting your home ready. Everyone under estimates how much stuff they have at home. I hear it over and over again, “Where did all this come from? How did it get into my house, did I really buy this?” For this reason I love Marie Kondo and hope she will save Americans from themselves. We are collectors, we are keepers, and eventually somebody has to deal with our stuff.  Some of it is emotional of scant monetary value, and the rest of it has way less value than we hope. You’ll have to take a hard look and make decisions about what to keep, and what goes. Three piles; #1 KEEP, #2 THROW, #3 DONATE. Divesting will be liberating and you’ll find that your vision of a new life starts to come alive.

You’ll also want an estimate of how much you’ll walk away with from the sale of your home, and the best use of that money. You want a real estate agent that tells you the truth, what the value is its current condition, and what could be if you make some repairs. A lender will help review loan options. Your financial planner should be on board with how much to invest and how much should go towards a down payment on your next home.Putting all the proceeds from the sale of your current home into a down payment might not be your best strategy.

Selling and buying takes a plan. No one gets excited about selling until they have a vision of where they want to go. While you are prepping your home for sale you are keeping an eye on what’s available for your next step. You can write an offer contingent on the sale of your home with the understanding that your house has to be market ready, and not every seller will accept contingent offers, Your questions  to yourself are; do I want to stay in the neighborhood, move someplace with warmer winters? How about single level new construction, a townhome, or a downtown condo? You want to know options for each scenario before you can get cracking on your new life.

That’s what I do, help your vision become a reality and move you into your new life and new home.

Top 8 Upgrades to Make Buyers Flock to Your Door

Top 8 Upgrades to Make Buyers Flock to Your Door

We live in a word of reality TV, and home improvement shows are 24/7.  Every buyer is HGTV trained, and they drool over the cosmetic appeal. What can a homeowner do on a budget to have buyers stampeding your door?

  1. Kitchens sell homes. Without having to do a whole kitchen remodel, what’s important? All the flips advertise granite countertops and new appliances. Granite is losing favor because it scratches, stains and cracks. There are a plethora of laminates with a Hi-Definition photo quality without the extreme price. Freshen kitchen cabinets with a coat of paint. There are water-based paints just for that, they don’t streak, leave brush marks and clean up easily for about $30 a gallon. You shouldn’t need more than a gallon. Update cabinet hardware for a more modern look.
  2. Your front door welcomes guests and buyers. If the door is rough, think about replacing it. If it’s a great door but needs help, freshen it up with a coat of colorful paint. Hang a floral wreath, or have a pot of colorful foliage to entice a buyer to look inside. The entry should be clear, open, and ideally, have a small bench where someone can scootch to take off their shoes before dancing all over your freshly polished floors. Make sure that the front door lock works easily, or replace it. I’ve been locked out by sticky old locks, and the buyer missed an opportunity to see the home that could have been ‘the one.’
  3. The master bedroom should spell R E L A X. Think hotel.  Neutral coverlets with a pile of pillows, clear dressers with one or two cosmetics, beckon buyers to cozy up. Old flat pillows, rumpled poorly made beds say that you don’t care and maybe the rest of the house needs work too. I had a client who left a body pillow under the quilt along the middle of the bed. It startled me because it looked like someone was asleep under the covers. Walking in on a sleeping body is very uncomfortable. It left.
  4. Equally, bathrooms should whisper, “This is your alone time.”  Fresh fluffy towels, cosmetics cleared out, hairdryers, razors and toothbrushes hidden from view. Tubs and showers should glisten. No ducks or fish shower curtains, even the kid’s bath should be fresh and cheery without looking like SeaWorld.
  • Let’s assume that your closets have gone full Marie Kondo. You’ve divested the clothes that don’t fit, you never really liked, and haven’t worn in 5 years. “I have nothing to wear,” means that you don’t love what you have, and it doesn’t make you look stunning. Clothes that you bought on sale thinking that you’ll wear someday, you won’t. They are cluttering your closet and your mind. Keep only what looks great, chuck, donate or send the rest to a consignment shop.  Buyers are looking for storage space, give closet breathing room.
  • Light and lighting play an important part in how your home looks. Burnt out bulbs, heavy drapes, closed blinds make spaces look closed in. A bright light filled room looks more spacious and welcoming than dark spaces. Even the utility room should have lights on to see what’s there. It’s annoying to have to search for light to see anything in the basement and leaves the impression that there could be hidden problems.  Let the sunshine in!
  • Whether the basement is finished or not, it should be cleared and open, floors cleaned, storage highlighted. If it is unfinished, buyers are hoping that at least part of it is easily finishable. They expect you to have things stored, so we’re calling Marie Kondo again to organize it.  Make sure that windows are uncovered and there is enough light to see comfortably.
  • Landscaping is often overlooked. Complicated high maintenance gardens frighten buyers because most are looking for low maintenance. A charming arrangement by the front door is welcoming. If you’re selling offseason, have photos from last summer so they can appreciate it in full bloom, and see themselves enjoying it. If you have snow or leaf-covered decks and patios, summer photos help clarify size, and how much fun you must have had without the snow.      

There are a few things that are buyer turn-offs for buyers as well. Too many Glade air freshener plugins mean a cover-up.  Cosmetics cluttered all over the bedroom or bathrooms, animal smells (no dog owner smells their own dog), leftover cooking smells, closets crammed with ‘stuff’ signal the buyer to move on.  Every buyer is looking for a new lifestyle with a home that meets how they imagine they want their new life to be. You want to invite buyers in saying, “This could be you, and you can have all of this.”

The KonMari Method: Helping You Prep Your House for Sale

The KonMari Method: Helping You Prep Your House for Sale

One of the biggest challenges sellers face when listing their house is decluttering. Cleaning out some of the more personal decorating choices allows buyers to imagine themselves living in the house.

Those planning to sell soon are in luck! Marie Kondo, the inventor of the KonMari Method of Tidying Up, has gained popularity with her new Netflix series. She gives some great tips for sorting through years of accumulated possessions that we all collect in our homes.

“The KonMari Method™ encourages tidying by category – not by location – beginning with clothes, then moving on to books, papers, komono (miscellaneous items), and, finally, sentimental items. Keep only those things that speak to the heart, and discard items that no longer spark joy. Thank them for their service – then let them go.”

When you subjectively look at all of your belongings, you can sort through the ones that mean the most to you. Not only will you increase space for more joy-bringing items in your new home, but you will also have a much easier time packing remaining belongings!

“Remember, tidying up isn’t about getting rid of stuff. It is about creating an environment that sparks joy and improves your quality of life.”

When selling your house, first impressions matter! Before you or your agent schedule a photographer to take photos for your listing, make sure to tour your home with fresh eyes. Look for any imperfections that a buyer might notice.

When you sort through your more sentimental items, consider packing them away to ensure that you know where they all are. That way, they are safe during open houses and showing appointments. This will also cut down on the amount of packing you need to do right before you move!

Bottom Line

Whether you are selling your house to move up to a larger one, downsizing, or moving in with family, only bring the items that truly spark joy for you. This will not only help cut down on the items you move but also ensures that you’re off to a great start in your new home!