Monday, December 11, 2017

How to Know a Fixer-Upper Isn’t a Money Pit

With inventories so tight, some home buyers may be giving a fixer-upper home a second thought. The price point and location may attract more buyers to bite, even though the home itself may need some TLC. But how do you tell a hidden gem from a hidden mess when shopping for a fixer-upper?
Paul Skema, president of the architecture and construction firm Roth Design + Build, and Jean Brownhill, founder of Sweeten, an online contracting service, recently shared important considerations for home shoppers looking at a fixer-upper. Here are a few of their tips, via Curbed.com:
Determine the scope of the project.
Are the renovations mostly cosmetic or are they structural? “Before you even look for an apartment or home, you want to understand what type of project you’re comfortable with,” says Skema. Projects where owners start making additions or knocking down walls can add a lot of money, time, and risk. “One small bathroom renovation is hundreds of decisions you’re going to need to make,” says Brownhill. “You have to understand who you are as a person and how easily you make decisions.”
Set a budget.
After the down payment, how much money will your buyers set aside for the fixer-upper? Factor in unexpected costs, such as planning an alternative living situation while the work is being done on the home. The architect and contractor should be able to provide you with estimates. “By setting the price, you’re setting the approximate level of craft, finishes, and customer service that you’re looking for,” Brownhill says.
Establish a team.
Larger projects require an architect, who will then hire a general contractor and then subcontractors. Homeowners will need to establish a communication path to prevent delays or budget pitfalls. And don’t just hire the lowest-bidding architect or contractor, Skema warns. “Higher-quality firms limit the risk of the project,” Skema says. “Cheaper firms, many with less knowledge and less experience, will require more involvement from the homeowner and ultimately bring more risk.” Select a team with the right experience, solid references, and a communication style that is complementary with yours.
Meet the neighbors and the building association.
Significant renovations may require approval from the homeowner’s association. Meet your neighbors beforehand and warn them about the home renovations so as not to aggravate them. Learn about the permit process through your city’s building department ahead of time. Upgrading plumbing and electrical systems, moving walls, or changing structural elements will likely require permits. 
Protect yourself.
Make sure the contractor has both liability insurance and workman’s compensation. Also, ensure your homeowner’s policy will protect you from any contractor-caused issues.
See more tips on buying a fixer-upper at Curbed.com.
Source: “Considering a Fixer-Upper? Here’s What You Need to Know,” Curbed.com (Dec. 6, 2017)

Friday, December 8, 2017

4 Reasons December Is Favorable for Buyers

4 Reasons December Is Favorable for Buyers

Many home shoppers don’t think about purchasing a house during the holiday months—many even put their home search on hold. But Desare Kohn-Laski, broker-owner of Skye Louis Realty in Coconut Creek, Fla., offers some points to pass on to your clients, letting them know this is one of the best times of the year to shop for a house.
Less Competition, Better Prices.
Let your clients know that the holiday months work in their favor. “Instead of competing with hungry buyers, eager to move in before the school year begins, the dip in demand actually drives prices down, and can create a mini buyers’ market,” Kohn-Laski says. In her experience, buyers often fare better in the negotiation process during the winter months.
More Time to (Home) Shop.
Time off around the holidays gives many buyers the opportunity to do some careful house hunting. Instead of giving up an entire weekend to open houses and showings, buyers can more leisurely tour homes during the week, Kohn-Laski suggests.
Tax Benefits.
We still don’t know how the House and Senate tax reform bills will shake out in conference committee; however, if your clients purchase in 2017, they can still deduct property taxes, mortgage interest, and other costs. Learn more about how you can influence tax reform.
Move-In Ready Weather.
For a large part of the country, winter is a favorable season to move. The heavy lifting of furniture and home improvement projects are easier to perform without the heat of the summer months, Kohn-Laski says.
“There are numerous benefits and added perks to buying a house during the holiday season that make December arguably the best time to buy,” Kohn-Laski says.
—Erica Christoffer, REALTOR® Magazine

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

What is the real estate market doing in your NEIGHBORHOOD? Check out Tigard and Portland Market Action Stats here!



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What to Know About Home Energy Scores

More cities are requiring home energy scores to be shared with home buyers. This information allows consumers to learn how much energy a home will use, what that energy will cost them, and how efficient the home really is.
Portland, Ore., is the latest city to require a Home Energy Score for most home sales, joining other cities like Berkeley, Calif., and Austin, Texas. These scores, developed by the U.S. Department of Energy, are being included on more public listings across the country. They give sellers credit for investments in energy efficiency and allow buyers to get an idea of their potential energy bills and plan for future upgrades. Starting in 2018, listings for most single-family homes and townhomes in Portland will be required to disclose a Home Energy Score.
As the Home Energy Score becomes more common, Peter Kernan—Home Energy Score adviser with Enhabit, a nonprofit focused on home efficiency—offers these key facts to real estate professionals:
  • The score is based on the physical characteristics of a home, not the homeowner’s energy use. Also, by adjusting for climate and utilities, homes are compared only to other homes in the region.
  • The score ranks homes on a 1-10 scale, where 5 represents the average home and 10 represents the most energy-efficient homes.
  • The score attempts to takes the guesswork out of repairs that might make the home a more attractive listing, by recommending cost-effective ways to improve home performance for homes scoring 5 or less.
  • Offering this information may boost sales regardless of the actual score. A study by Earth Advantage found that when sellers listed their home energy costs, the listings sold for 3 to 5 percent more and spent 18 fewer days on the market than homes that did not offer this information, even if the disclosed costs were high.
  • A lower score doesn’t mean the home is poorly built—many beautiful, well-constructed homes receive a 4 or less, Kernan says. The score is an indicator of opportunities for future ownersto make improvements to reduce energy use. The home energy report includes a prioritized list of energy upgrade recommendations that offer the quickest return on investment.
  • Kernan also suggests encouraging clients to work with an authorized, licensed home energy assessor to ensure the assessment and score are calculated accurately.
Source: Enhabit

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Nearly half of nation’s largest 50 metros reach overvalue point

Nearly half of nation’s largest 50 metros reach overvalue point: Home prices increased in September from last year and last month, and nearly half of the nation’s largest markets are now overvalued. CoreLogic explained this overvaluation will become more of an issue if prices continue to rise next year as it anticipates.

9 Pro Tips for a Top-Notch DIY Paint Job

9 Pro Tips for a Top-Notch DIY Paint Job

When painting a room, the time, effort, and money you spend on the materials can make a big difference. Josh Max, a professional painter with 10 years of experience, detailed the “right” way to paint in a recent article in The New York Times.
Gather the right supplies. Take the measurements of your wall and ceiling to a hardware store that can help you pinpoint exactly what type of paint and supplies you’ll need. Max recommends a two-and-a-half-inch angled paint brush, two nine-inch medium nap roller covers, and one sturdy nine-inch roller handle.
Consider the type of paint. Max recommends water-based latex flat paint for ceilings, flat or eggshell finish for walls, and eggshell or semi-gloss for windowsills and doors.
Cover unpainted surfaces with tape. Roll nonstick painter’s blue tape along floorboards, windowsills, doorknobs, hinges, and any other unpainted surfaces. Max warns against using regular masking tape because it can be difficult to peel off afterwards.
Repair wall cracks. Use a spackling compound and sandpaper to repair any unevenness in walls. Do a few light coats of spackling, instead of just one thick one, Max advises. Apply a coat of quick-drying latex primer over it.
Sweep and mop floors. Dust bunnies can stick to a freshly painted wall or fall into a can of paint. Make sure to clean the room before you paint.
Pour the right amount of paint. Shake your gallon of paint, then pour it into your quart container until it’s about three-quarters full. Don’t overfill or underfill. Dip your brush in the paint about an inch, careful not to oversaturate it.
Strategize your brush technique. Start by using the brush to “cut” in where the ceiling meets the wall all around the room, Max suggests. Do the brushwork before you start rolling because it will take longer. Wherever detail is required on the walls, be sure to use a brush and not a roller.
Don’t roll paint on walls vertically. Pour about half a gallon of paint into a linted paint tray and then dip your roller into it. Roll your roller back and forth until it’s covered in equal amounts. Then, roll the paint on smoothly in long, even strokes. Start near the ceiling and work down and diagonally, instead of straight. Max says this will help to avoid vertical lines appearing at the end. Also, resist the urge to apply pressure.
Keep paint wet during breaks. If you take a break from your work for more than a few minutes, wrap your brushes in aluminum foil and cover the paint pan with plastic. Otherwise, you’ll find some dried paint in your pan.
Source: “The Right Way to Paint Your Apartment, According to a Pro,” The New York Times (Nov. 24, 2017)

Monday, December 4, 2017

Here are 6 housing predictions to know for 2018

Here are 6 housing predictions to know for 2018: As 2017 comes to an end, economists are forecasting the future of housing in 2018. One company, realtor.com, gives its forecast for five areas of housing in 2018. Will home sales increase, or will housing inventory continue to keep potential homebuyers out of the market?

October 2017 Existing-Home Sales

October 2017 Existing-Home Sales: Total existing-home sales increased 2.0% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.48 million in October from a downwardly revised 5.37 million in September. After last month’s increase, sales are at their strongest pace since June (5.51M), but still remain 0.9% below a year ago.

6 Outdated Features in Your Clients’ Homes

Home buyers say they want the latest design trends in their next property—but 70 percent admit to having outdated features in their current house, according to a new consumer survey by home builder Taylor Morrison. The most common of these outdated features are:
  1. Linoleum floors (40 percent)
  2. Popcorn ceilings (29 percent)
  3. Wood paneling (28 percent)
  4. Ceramic tile countertops (28 percent)
  5. Shag carpeting (19 percent)
  6. Avocado green appliances (8 percent)
“This is why real and virtual house hunting is so popular,” says Taylor Morrison Chair and CEO Sheryl Palmer. “We all love to daydream and envision ourselves in a beautiful new environment. But keeping up with ever-evolving preferences for paint colors, home features, new technologies, and how we expect to use our homes over the years is difficult. We also know that home interior preferences vary by generation, by home style, by region, and even by city.”
Taylor Morrison found that the features home buyers say they most desire are:
  1. Better energy efficiency (62 percent)
  2. Personalized floor plans (58 percent)
  3. Easier maintenance (56 percent).
Also, the interior features home shoppers called most essential are:
  1. Wood flooring (65 percent)
  2. USB and Ethernet ports (44 percent)
  3. Whirlpool tub (36 percent)
  4. Sun room (34 percent).
Source: “Home Is Where the Shag Carpet Is?” BUILDER (Nov. 16, 2017)

Monday, November 27, 2017

Cities With Highest Spikes in Homeownership
The cities where homeownership rates are growing the fastest are mostly in the Rust Belt, as well as smaller metros near bigger and more expensive urban areas, according to research from realtor.com®. The South is also seeing an uptick in homeowners thanks to booming job markets in the region. “Affordability is a strong draw to these areas,” says realtor.com® Chief Economist Danielle Hale.
More than half of the metros on realtor.com®’s list have median home prices under the national median of $274,492. Realtor.com®’s research team compared the ownership rates in the first three-quarters of 2014 to the first three-quarters of 2017. The following places are seeing the highest increases in homeownership rates:
1. Milwaukee
  • Median home price: $224,950
  • Current homeownership rate: 68.7%
  • Three-year homeownership change: 11%
2. Charlotte, N.C.
  • Median home price: $327,050
  • Current homeownership rate: 62.8%
  • Three-year homeownership change: 10.5%
3. Memphis, Tenn.
  • Median home price: $195,050
  • Current homeownership rate: 61%
  • Three-year homeownership change: 9.3%
4. Baltimore
  • Median home price: $300,040
  • Current homeownership rate: 68.4%
  • Three-year homeownership change: 7.3%
5. Allentown, Pa.
  • Median home price: $225,050
  • Current homeownership rate: 74.8%
  • Three-year homeownership change: 7.3%
6. Pittsburgh
  • Median home price: $174,950
  • Current homeownership rate: 74%
  • Three-year homeownership change: 7.2%
7. Albuquerque, N.M.
  • Median home price: $239,950
  • Current homeownership rate: 66%
  • Three-year homeownership change: 5.7%
Source: “Rent No More! 10 U.S. Cities With Huge Increases in Homeownership,” realtor.com® (Nov. 27, 2017)

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Know Your Home’s Earthquake Risk

Half of the world’s population lives near active earthquake faults, and some may not even know it.
“Small earthquakes are happening every day near you, and large earthquakes are happening somewhere around the globe that may not be in your mind,” Volkan Sevilgen, co-founder of Temblor, an app that estimates the likelihood of seismic shaking and home damage, told Curbed.com.
States like California and Utah have thousands of fault lines running underneath, making them the most known for having frequent earthquakes. But don’t think earthquakes only happen there—know your seismic hazard risk and how prone your area is, experts advise.
“Not everyone will be affected by an earthquake on the same level,” says Sevilgen.
There are different mapping methods across the country. Curbed.com reports: “The Central United States Earthquake Consortium, for example, tracks central states, while the Cascadia Region Earthquake Workgroup tracks those in the Pacific Northwest. While maps can lay out fault lines and track earthquakes as they happen, they are unable to predict exactly when and where an earthquake will happen, how strong it will be, and the resulting seismic hazards.”
Newer homes in compliance with the latest seismic building codes and standards will be more resistant to earthquake damage than older homes built under less restrictive codes, experts note.
“If you own an older house—[from] 1979 or earlier—it’s probably not built to the latest building codes,” says Sarah Sol, a spokesperson with the California Earthquake Authority, a nonprofit that provides residential earthquake insurance.
For the most vulnerable properties, Sol recommends retrofitting the homes for earthquake protection and purchasing earthquake insurance.
“There’s often the perception that earthquake damage is covered by traditional home insurance, and in California it isn’t,” Sol says.
If you’re at any risk, Sol also recommends safety measures such as securing objects within your home that may fall during a quake and having a disaster plan in place. “You’ll want to have some preparation in place, as an earthquake can happen without any warning at all,” she says.
Source: “How to Assess the Earthquake Risk of Your Home,” Curbed.com (Nov. 20, 2017) 

Monday, November 20, 2017

6 Outdated Features in Your Clients’ Homes

Home buyers say they want the latest design trends in their next property—but 70 percent admit to having outdated features in their current house, according to a new consumer survey by home builder Taylor Morrison. The most common of these outdated features are:
  1. Linoleum floors (40 percent)
  2. Popcorn ceilings (29 percent)
  3. Wood paneling (28 percent)
  4. Ceramic tile countertops (28 percent)
  5. Shag carpeting (19 percent)
  6. Avocado green appliances (8 percent)
“This is why real and virtual house hunting is so popular,” says Taylor Morrison Chair and CEO Sheryl Palmer. “We all love to daydream and envision ourselves in a beautiful new environment. But keeping up with ever-evolving preferences for paint colors, home features, new technologies, and how we expect to use our homes over the years is difficult. We also know that home interior preferences vary by generation, by home style, by region, and even by city.”
Taylor Morrison found that the features home buyers say they most desire are:
  1. Better energy efficiency (62 percent)
  2. Personalized floor plans (58 percent)
  3. Easier maintenance (56 percent).
Also, the interior features home shoppers called most essential are:
  1. Wood flooring (65 percent)
  2. USB and Ethernet ports (44 percent)
  3. Whirlpool tub (36 percent)
  4. Sun room (34 percent).
Source: “Home Is Where the Shag Carpet Is?” BUILDER (Nov. 16, 2017)
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Lift in Housing Starts Indicates Inventory Relief

Housing starts neared their postrecession high in October, with expectations that the new-home market will soon provide much-needed inventory relief, the Commerce Department reports.
Starts, which reflect combined totals within the single-family and multifamily sectors, jumped 13.7 percent in October to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.29 million. That’s the highest reading for new-home production since October 2016, when starts had reached a postrecession high of 1.33 million.
Starts for single-family homes in October increased 5.3 percent last month, reaching a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 877,000. They are now up 8.4 percent from a year ago. Multifamily starts surged nearly 37 percent, reaching 413,000 units in October after a weak September production report.
“We are seeing solid, steady [new-home] production growth,” says Robert Dietz, chief economist of the National Association of Home Builders. “As the job market and overall economy continue to firm, we should see demand for housing increase as we head into 2018.”
Combined housing starts posted the largest upswing in the Northeast, where they increased 42.2 percent month over month. Housing starts also posted strong increases in the Midwest (18.4 percent) and the South (17.2 percent), but they dropped 3.7 percent in the West. However, building permits—a gauge of future production—rose in all four regions of the U.S. in October. Permits rose 13 percent in the West, 4.1 percent in the Northeast, 3.8 percent in the Midwest, and 3 percent in the South.

Your Need to Know Guide to Buying a New Home

If you’ve been following along, you know that last time around we covered a lot of the important things you should be thinking about when b...