Winterize Your Home

Winterizing your home is one of the best ways to get comfortable and save energy costs. It’s not too late to get a few projects done before the holidays, so here’s a short weekend list of to-dos to help you.

Check the furnace. Typically, a heating system has a heat/cooling source, distribution system, and thermostat, so there is plenty of room for error. Make sure that your system is properly inspected and cleaned and has fresh filters according to maintenance directions. Call a master certified plumber to look for potential dangers such as carbon monoxide leaks.

Check detectors. Since you’ll be indoors more, it makes sense to also check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. According to EPA.gov, smoke detectors with a UL rating have a useful life of 10 years so don’t just push the button to see if it’s working. Stick a real flame source, such as a candle or a match, to see if the detector can actually pick up on the smoke being emitted.

Check insulation. Energy leaks put a hole in your wallet, so do your best to identify and seal all leaks in your ceiling/attic and cracks in or around your windows and doors. A quick way to check if you have enough insulation is to go into your attic and look at your rafters-if you can see ceiling joists you can add some more insulation. Though this will be an expensive process, your heating costs will drop right away.

For more home tips, follow us on Facebook. Looking for a new home in the Kansas City area? Visit us at BHHSKCRealty.com!

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Quick Ways to Build Equity

Equity is the percentage of market value that you own in your home. Your lender owns the rest, so your goal should be to pay the lender’s share (the principal) down and build your share (equity) up.

You don’t need to go to extreme lengths to pay down your mortgage. Just follow these few easy tips:

  1. Buy wisely. Buy as much home as you can without straining your resources, so you can occupy your home longer. Moving and closing costs eat away equity.
  2. Pay a little extra. Pay a little more every month toward reducing your principal. Use bonuses or cash back on your credit cards to apply to your mortgage. Making one extra payment a year could shorten your loan payoff by as much as four years, saving you thousands of dollars in interest.
  3. Pay off other debts. Don’t incur new debt. Spend less on automobiles, dinners out and other expenses. Pay off credit cards and student loans as quickly as you can, so you’ll have more money available to pay toward your mortgage.
  4. Make improvements. Keeping your home repaired and updated helps you preserve equity by making market value higher.
  5. Let time work for you. Think of your home as a savings account where the money you put in can be retrieved one day – with interest. Historically, homes have increased in value as much as three percent a year in normal markets, which is a great way to build instant equity.

For more home tips, follow us on Facebook. Looking for a new home in the Kansas City area? Visit us at BHHSKCRealty.com!

Remodeling Trend to Rise

According to the Federal Reserve, the primary residence accounts for about one-quarter of all assets held by households, ahead of other financial assets, business interests and retirement accounts.

It’s important to protect the value of your home by keeping it repaired and updated. Not only does an update make a home more attractive, it should improve functionality, make it more comfortable, increase the enjoyment, and increase the value, upping the chances of a higher resale price.

If you’re planning on making home improvements, you’re in good company. Home improvement spending is expected to increase by seven percent over the next year, according to research by the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University. Homeowners will spend about $350 billion on updates by mid-year 2019, confident that they’re making a good investment, thanks to rising home values and a growing economy.

How are they spending their money? The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) said in May 2018 that bathrooms have overtaken kitchens as the number one remodeling choice.

NAHB surveys of homeowners who recently remodeled their homes found that over four out of five remodeled baths (81%) while 78% remodeled kitchens. Nearly half of respondents replaced doors, remodeled whole homes or added a room to existing homes. Most homeowners start with smaller projects such as new front doors, green-friendly appliances, programmable thermostats, low-emissivity windows and new HVACs.

As home remodeling continues to be popular, you will likely to see increased benefits from your home improvements.

For more home tips, follow us on Facebook. Looking for a new home in the Kansas City area? Visit us at BHHSKCRealty.com!

Home Insurance and Replacement Costs

How do you know if you have your home insured for the right amount? Your lender may require insurance to cover the loan amount, but what you owe and actual replacement costs can be vastly different.

According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), replacement costs are the amount it would take to replace or rebuild your home or repair damages with similar materials and quality, without deducting for depreciation. Actual cash value is the amount it would take to repair or replace damage to your home after depreciation. Standard plans require policy limits of at least 80% of replacement cost.

Replacement costs should include loss of your possessions.  Create a room-by-room inventory of your possessions, including photographs and/or video, cost of goods, and how long you’ve had them. Give documentation to your insurer and keep copies in a safe place or on the cloud.

The NAIC advises that you compare cost-to-repair and cost-to-replace prices for your area with your insurer. There are different packages of home insurance that protect against specified damage-causing events, such as fire, windstorm, and theft. They also contain coverage for property damage, living expenses during repairs, personal liability and medical payments.

Review your policy annually. If you’ve made improvements to the home or purchased more goods, you should inform the insurer. You may also get a premium discount for long-time loyalty, combining car and home insurance, raising your deductible, and other initiatives.

For more home tips, follow us on Facebook. Looking for a new home in the Kansas City area? Visit us at BHHSKCRealty.com!

Are You Really Ready to Sell?

If you find yourself saying any of the following to your BHHS KCRealty agent, you may be hurting your chances of selling your home quickly and for the most money possible.

“I’m not making any repairs.” According to the 2018 Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends Report from the National Association of REALTORS®, 47 percent of buyers under the age of 37 purchased new homes to avoid renovations and problems. If many buyers don’t have the will, skill or time to make repairs, you’re eliminating a number of buyers who would otherwise love your home.

“My home has to be worth more than that.” You may believe your home should be worth more than you paid for it and provide you with enough equity to move. Your listing agent will supply you with tools to understand current market value. The comparable market analysis shows what homes have recently sold for and what other sellers are asking for similar homes as yours, as well as price and sales trends.

“Let’s price it higher and see what happens.” Pricing above comparable homes is a real risk. You’ll outprice buyers who would want your home. Buyers who can afford your home will quickly find that your home doesn’t compare to others.

In any of these cases, you’ll be looking at a price adjustment, and have lost valuable marketing time. Realistically, your home is only worth what the most qualified buyer is willing to pay for your home.

For more home tips, follow us on Facebook. Looking for a new home in the Kansas City area? Visit us at BHHSKCRealty.com!

Market Conditions Matter

3676131.largeMarket conditions are like a weather report; they show you what to expect so you can make plans, pick your listing price and decide on your marketing strategy.

One thing is certain: Markets are either going up or they’re going down, so as conditions change, you need to know the long and short-term trends. If the market is heating up, you can ask a little more for your home. If it’s cooling off, you may need to lower your price to attract buyers.

So, how are buyers behaving? Are they making multiple offers and paying over list price? Or are they sitting on the sidelines, looking but not making offers? The answers tell you if you’re in a buyer’s or seller’s market.

seller’s market is characterized by confident buyers, rising prices, short “days on market”, supply levels of less than six months on hand, and offers close to full price, at full price or above list price offers.

buyer’s market is characterized by fearful buyers, longer “days on market,” inventory supply levels of six months or more, and low offers. To get buyers to come in from out of the storm, sellers must offer incentives such as seller-paid closing costs or throw in the refrigerator, washer, and dryer.

To find out where your market stands, go over the Comparable Market Analysis (CMA) that your Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices professional provides you. Using this knowledge, you can price your home to sell quickly, and for the most money possible.

How to Buy a Model Home

3676132.large.jpgWhat should you expect when you buy a model or “spec home” from a builder?

model home features upgrades to show the builder’s floorplans to advantage. If you can wait until the builder sells all their inventory, you may get the model at the initial offer price and with more upgrades than other homes in the neighborhood.

“spec” home is move-in ready. The clock is ticking on the builder’s bank loans, materials, and labor, so if you’re pre-approved by a lender and have no contingencies to delay closing, you can move in quickly.

Many builders have their own contracts, so you should be represented by your Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices network professional. Builders won’t negotiate price because of other homes in the subdivision, but your agent may be able to negotiate free or at-cost upgrades like adding a fence or backyard sod. The agent can help you negotiate better terms, see you through inspections, and make sure the builder performs as expected.

Shop for new homes with your real estate agent. If you can’t, inform the builder or their in-house salesperson that you’re represented and offer your Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices agent’s contact information. Builders won’t pay the agent’s commission if you bring them in after you’ve already toured the model or spec home.

For more home tips, follow us on Facebook. Looking for a new home in the Kansas City area? Visit us at BHHSKCRealty.com!