The Wrong Reasons To Price Your Home

Some sellers believe it’s smart to price their homes high, but flipping the logic on them could help you see the fallacy of pricing a home for any reason other than what a qualified buyer in the current market will buy, based on current market comparable homes.

 

Buyers want to negotiate: Some sellers believe buyers will automatically offer less than asking price. In reality, they offer what they think the home is worth, what they believe the seller will accept, and what their lender will agree to lend on the home.

For sellers to win, buyers must lose: If the seller assumes the buyer is a “greater fool,” who’s going to be accompanied by a foolish real estate professional, and a foolish lender, then their high-priced home might sell. But isn’t it far more likely that the buyer is well informed and will choose wisely.

Sellers are entitled to make a profit: Home prices historically beat inflation by one or two points annually, but sellers must keep their homes updated and well-maintained for them to hold value. Home flippers must make significant improvements to make it worth more to a buyer that what it sold for two years ago.

The home is also a bank: Sellers

 

may dream of selling their homes to pay off debts, buy a more expensive home, retire, pay for collage, etc. Buyers don’t mind giving sellers a profit, but if the market conditions don’t support the seller’s expectations, they’ll move on to other homes.

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Before You Paint Your Brick Exterior

The Brick Industry Association touts brick for its strength, energy efficiency and low maintenance, but sometimes brick can just be dated or downright ugly. A fresh new color on your home’s exterior brick can go a long way toward updating your home.

Whether you choose to do the work yourself or hire a professional, the same steps, particularly careful preparation, should be followed.

Clean the bricks: Use a wire brush, soap and water to clean the bricks, or use a power washer. For hard to remove stains, you can mix water with trisodium phosphate (TSP). TSP is phosphate-free and formulated for hard surfaces. Use approximately one-half cup to a gallon of water. For mold, mix one part bleach to three parts water and scrub with a wire brush.

Repair cracks and missing mortar: If you’re painting the brick for the first time, buy a premixed mortar patch, then caulk and seal any cracks in the brick. If your brick is already painted use the wire brush to loosen any paint that may be peeling.

Use masonry primer: Like TSP, latex masonry primer is made for brick. It ensures that the paint color will go on smoothly and evenly. Allow the primer to dry before you begin to paint. If the paint was originally painted with oil, you’ll have to use oil-based masonry primer and paint or the fresh paint will quickly peel. Apply two coats of paint for coverage, and wait for the first coat to dry before applying the second.

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Millennial Must-Haves

Born between 1980 and 1995, the millennial generation is now prime homebuying age. With unemployment just over four percent and lenders touting low-cost loan programs for first-time buyers, more millennials are buying homes. So who are they and what do they want in a home?

As the most educated generation in history, millennials trust their own judgment. They know how to conduct research and make the best choices accordingly, and tend to be savvy consumers. Even the 66 percent who are first-time homebuyers tend to know more about the housing market than previous generations.

According to the National Association of REALTORS,® forty-nine percent of homebuyers 36 years and younger have children under the age of 18, 66 percent are married couples, 17 percent are single women, and 13 percent are unmarried couples.

As they grow with their families, they seek homes built with quality materials and sustainability in mind. Eight-foot ceilings are back in vogue for this group, as they seek to downsize their ecological footprint.

Social media, technology and demographic shifts are pushing trends faster than any other time in history, says the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). Millennials want clean, contemporary lines and many are willing to sacrifice space for style. Lack of ornamentation is significant and intentional, says the NAHB, so sellers marketing to millennials should clear away clutter and excess furniture.

Millennial homebuyers choose older homes for the lower prices, but they want them to be as close to new in appearance as possible.

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Using Gifts for A Down Payment

Happy Holidays, homebuyer! Don’t cash Mom and Dad’s check yet! Your loan could be denied if the money isn’t carefully documented.

Why? Gifts can cause confusion. Is your parents’ money a gift or a loan? Unless the terms are clearly defined, don’t mix the gift with your own funds. It alters your bank statements and raises your income both of which could muddy your financial picture.

Lenders require a paper trail for all monies, so no phone deposits. They also limit the size of gifts in relationship to the total down payment. Some loan programs require the borrower to contribute at least 3% to 5% of the down payment if the down payment is less than 20%, while other programs allow the entire down payment to be supplied by a gift.

To avoid questions, provide a certified down-payment gift letter or sign an affidavit that explain:

  • The amount of the gift, accompanied by a corresponding cashier’s check, including a photocopy of the check
  • The name and address of the gift-giver and relationship the gift-giver has to the homebuyer
  • The purpose of the gift – to be used only as a down payment on the subject property, complete with the property’s address
  • A statement confirming that the gift is not a loan, and does not need to be repaid
  • Signatures of the borrower and the gift-giver

If you’re planning to use a gift as part or all of your down payment, ask your lender how to meet all the appropriate requirements.

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Hiring a General Contractor

When you hire a general contractor to remodel your home, it’s helpful to know what to expect, so start with the design you want. Are you doing a complete remodel? Updating a kitchen or bathroom? Adding square footage or moving walls and plumbing will require professionals to ensure the project turns out the way you want.

If you hire an interior design firm, or kitchen design firm, the company will have excellent resources, including general contractors. The designer wants a seamless, trouble-free project as much as you do, so s/he knows which contractors to hire, what they’re especially good at, and who to avoid.

The general contractor is in charge of scheduling, hiring, material estimation and acquisition, tear out, installation, waste disposal, permits, and insurance. All of the sub-contractors and their workers will report to him or her.

Ask for references. Most clients are happy to tell others if they had a good experience, and they understand your need to check referrals. Certifications can indicate standards of professionalism and values. NARI (National Association of the Remodeling Industry) offers the Certified Remodeler, Certified Remodeler Specialist, and Certified Lead Carpenter designations.

Hiring a general contractor can protect you by knowing the latest building codes and getting the proper building permits so your job is insurable by your homeowner’s insurance. The firm will also provide worker’s compensation to cover workers who might get injured on your property.

Make certain the scope of the work is detailed in the estimate, so you know what, when and where work will be done.

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Housing Forecast for 2018

There’s nothing like a new year to pump enthusiasm into your life, so what do the experts say about the housing forecast?

Unemployment remains low: Despite tens of thousands of people losing their homes as well as businesses and hospitality services crippled due to the storms, the unemployment rate remains at a low 4.2 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Buyers have the income to shop for homes.

New home construction lags demand: Due to costly governmental oversights, lack of skilled construction workers, and increased enforcement of undocumented workers, homebuilders are unable to meet demand for new homes, according to the U.S. Census. There’s currently five month’s worth of supplies at today’s rate of sales.

Millennials favor homeownership: Pew Research found that millennials are the largest living generation and are disproportionately renters compared with previous generations. As the generation matures (the oldest are at 34 years of age), seventy-two percent wish to become homeowners.

Demand is outpacing supply: According to Freddie Mac research, the hurricane season that hit the southern and eastern coastal areas, is exacerbating a market already short on homes, particularly in the affordable price ranges. Home prices are predicted to rise 4.9 percent.

Mortgage rates drop under four percent: Nationally, the average interest rates on conventional purchase-money mortgages decreased in the fall to less than four percent, reported the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

Market conditions suggest near-term winter and spring homebuying will remain brisk. You might be encouraged to buy before the summer rush!

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Remove Pet Stains from Hardwood Floors

A hardwood floor’s finish is designed to protect it from unwanted moisture, but pet stains are trickier to clean. Even if pets have never wet the floor, they may think they have to mark over pet stains from previous households. Pets will also return to their own previously “marked” areas.

If you get there in time, you can blot the stain with paper towels and rinse the area with white vinegar. Follow with a pet stain cleanser (specifically formulated for hardwood floors) and blot up the excess.

Most stains can be removed by scrubbing or sanding the wood to remove the protective finish, (the sheen). Start with #000 steel wool and wax. Once the stain area is stripped, you can apply mineral spirits to cut the grease or oil within the stain, and then rub it dry with a soft cloth. You may have to retreat with bleach or vinegar, and soak the spot, rinse, apply a dry cloth, re-sand, stain, wax and hand-buff.

Older pet stains may have seeped through the wood and into the subflooring, necessitating removal and replacement of the wood planks and subflooring. You’ll have to stain and finish new wood to match the rest of the floor, which could possibly involve hiring a professional.

Other remedies are also tried and true, including hydrogen peroxide, ammonia, and bleach that you can use as cleansing agents. Just be careful when you are mixing cleaning agents with water not to over-soak the wood.

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