Boost Your Home Value By Preparing for an Appraisal

You don’t need an expensive remodeling project to boost your home’s value prior to appraisal. Appraisers consider many factors, including the general condition of the interior and exterior of a home.  If you want to get the most bang for your buck, here are some projects worth undertaking BEFORE the appraisal:

Remove Clutter.  

This is one of the most important things to-do on your pre-appraisal to do list! Clutter makes it hard for an appraiser to do his/her job. Clear entryways and walkways, remove excess furniture to give more space, and create a clutter-free environment. Remember, less clutter evokes a brighter and more spacious feeling.

Refresh the Paint.

Adding a fresh coat of paint is the quickest and easiest way to add value to your home. Paint can remove years of wear and tear, make a home look less outdated, and is one of the cheapest ways to give your home a whole new look. Don’t forget to choose a neutral color that will appeal to the most people possible!

Replace Flooring.

If you don’t have the money to replace flooring, focus on fixing damaged sections and getting carpets cleaned before the appraisal.

Update the Kitchen & Bathrooms.

The kitchen and bathrooms are usually the most important rooms to potential home buyers. An update does not mean an overhaul. Keeping them clean is a MUST, but you may want to consider some low-cost upgrades such as removing wallpaper, painting cabinets, new handles, or some updated lighting as well. A few adjustments can go a long way in adding higher value.

Create Curb Appeal.

Clean up flower beds, pull weeds, make sure the yard is mowed, and put down some new pine straw or mulch.  A good first impression is a lasting impression.

Not only will these few items help net you a higher appraisal value, if these items are done prior to listing, they may even net you a higher offer price!

Enjoy the Outdoors at Home

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Over the last several months, many of us have been faced with staying at home for what seems like countless days. One of the best remedies for breaking up the tedium and alleviating stress is to head outside and get some fresh air. If you’re lucky enough to have an outdoor space, no matter how big or small, make the most of it with these ideas for improving your outdoor space. The good news: any improvements done now will help later when you’re ready to sell your home.

Create a lounge area

Did you have to cancel that beach vacation? Bring the beach home with an outdoor space with a tropical feel. Consider what would make you most relaxed – lounge chairs, chaise lounges, hammocks or an outdoor sectional. Plop some pillows on top for added style and comfort, add a table or two, maybe a few candles, a Pina Colada, and voila – the perfect atmosphere to relax in!

Concoct an outdoor bar

It may be a little while before you’re comfortable heading to your favorite dive bar or cocktail lounge, so why not create your own? Get crafty by either repurposing an old table, using cinderblocks and boards, or buy a bar online. Gather some cocktail ingredients, the Bluetooth speaker, and a few glasses and head to your favorite bar right at home.

DIY outdoor movie theater

An outdoor movie theater doesn’t have to be complicated. All you need is a white sheet, projector, and your phone to play movies, TV shows, or whatever else floats your boat these days. If you don’t have access to a projector, it’s surprisingly easy to make one – find out how here.

Consider a fire pit

Buy a firebowl to create a warm, cozy glow or DIY one from supplies you can pick up at the hardware store. Even though the summer nights are warm, nothing beats gathering around a fire with some S’mores!

Make an outdoor dining destination

We’re all getting tired of eating at home night after night. Mix it up a little by creating an outdoor dining space in the backyard or on the patio. Lay down an outdoor rug, string up some lights, add a weather-resistant dining table and chairs, and transform your evening meals.

As the days at home stretch on, it’s time to get creative both indoors and out to create a space that you want to spend a lot of time in. For more ideas on outdoor inspiration and activities to enjoy while home, visit here.

Ways to Make Your Home Office Work (No Matter Where It Is)

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As COVID-19 continues to spread, many are faced with the new normal of working from home. With children home for the summer (and in many parts for the foreseeable future), it can make it hard to stay focused. An organized and visually appealing work space can help to make you feel more productive. Here are some tips to make the most of your work space.

Designate a Space

A lot of us do not have a home office, and work routines can be easily disturbed. Designating a specific area for work, even if it’s in your kitchen, is one great way to stay in your routine and get in the right mindset. It doesn’t matter what space in your home you choose, just make sure it feels like a dedicated and functional work area. This should include good lighting, a lack of clutter, a comfortable chair, and a tech setup that lets you take and make video calls.

Check Around You

Video calls and conferences may be a part of your new work day. Take some time to look around you and think about what other people are seeing. Do you really want your colleagues to see the dirty dishes or pile of laundry? Keep things clean, uncluttered, and non-distracting.

Create a Productive Mood

This is your moment to create your dream office. Candles and music may not be allowed at your place of business, but now is the time to indulge in things that make you feel calm and inspired. Likewise, consider having healthy snacks and bottles of water nearby to avoid frequent trips to the refrigerator. Let others in the house know when you are working and that you are not to be disturbed, and your work from home days may be some of your most productive.

Move Safely During COVID-19

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If you’re worried about moving during COVID-19, by taking extra safety precautions and minimizing social contact, you can do it and safely. Here are some tips for making your move as safe and stress-free as possible.

DIY if Possible

If you can, try to manage the move on your own. If you can’t, be sure to ask moving companies about sanitation procedures in place (mask, gloves, booties). Also, be sure there is a reasonable cancellation policy in place in case of delays or changed plans due to COVID-19.

Minimize Contact

If you need a moving company, ask for a virtual quote and ask about contactless service. Forego any handshakes, pay online, and tip through a digital platform such as Venmo or PayPal.

Take Precautions

Wear masks, gloves, and booties, and have extra supplies on hand for movers. Clean frequently touched surfaces often, especially door knobs and handles. Make sure soap and paper towels are next to sinks and hand sanitizer by the doors. Buy new boxes as the coronavirus can live on cardboard for up to 24 hours; it’s not the time to use for used or recycled.

Be Transparent

Reach out to your neighbors and let them know about your move. This will give them an opportunity to avoid unnecessary contact.

Be Flexible

If you or any member of your family is experiencing coronavirus symptoms, or have come into contact with someone diagnosed with it, postpone your moving plans. Although changing plans can be a hassle, the health and safety of the community and those around you should come first.

If you need to list your home or buy a new one, get in touch and see how I can help with other safety tips, virtual tours, great photographs and more. You can move and move safely during COVID-19.

Guidance and Support Are Key When Buying Your First Home

Credit for article in its entirety given to Keeping Current Matters.

Guidance and Support Are Key When Buying Your First Home | MyKCM

In June, the number of first-time homebuyers accounted for 35% of the existing homes sold, a trend that’s been building steadily throughout the year. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR):

“The share of first-time buyers increased in March through June—right into the heart of the pandemic period and the surge in unemployment—and is now trending higher than the 29% to 32% average in past years since 2012.” (See graph below):

Guidance and Support Are Key When Buying Your First Home | MyKCM

Why the rise in first-time homebuying?

NAR continues to say:

“The major factor is, arguably, low mortgage rates. As of the week ended July 16, the 30-year fixed mortgage rate dropped to 2.98%. With rates so low that are locked in under a 30-year mortgage, the typical mortgage payment, estimated at $1,036, has fallen below the median rent, at $1,045. For potential home buyers who were thinking of purchasing a home anyway before the pandemic outbreak and who are likely to remain employed, the low mortgage rate may be the clincher.”

Clearly, historically low mortgage rates are encouraging many to buy. With the average mortgage payment now estimated at a lower monthly cost than renting, it’s a great time for first-time homebuyers to enter the market. According to the Q2 2020 Housing Trends Report from the National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB):

“Eighty-four percent of Gen Z’s planning to buy a home are first timers, compared to 68% of Millennials, 52% of Gen X’s, and 21% of Boomers. Looking at results by region shows that over 60% of prospective buyers in the Northeast and South are buying a home for the first time. The share is above 55% in the Midwest and West.”

There are, however, challenges for first-time buyers. A recent survey conducted by NeighborWorks America also notes that understanding the homebuying process may be the most significant barrier for many hopeful homeowners:

“Homeownership is a particular challenge for many, despite high levels of interest. Americans believe there are many benefits to homeownership and half of non-owners will seek information about the process in the next few years…a large share of non-owners say the process is too challenging and only a minority know where to find advice if they wanted it. And although many would seek the guidance of community and non-profit programs, only one in three non-owners are aware of such services.”

Guidance and Support Are Key When Buying Your First Home | MyKCM

If you’re among the first-time homebuyers who feel the process is complicated, you’re not alone. If you’re not sure where to begin or you simply want help in figuring out how to save for a home, finding a trusted real estate advisor to work with is a critical step toward your success. A real estate professional can help you understand the process, review your current situation, and guide you with a plan to help you to feel confident when buying a home.

Bottom Line

If you’re interested in purchasing a home and need help getting started, let’s connect today so you can take advantage of the support available to guide you through each step of the way.

The Home Inspection: Why You Shouldn’t Skip It

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Buying a home can be expensive. Not only does that new home come with a hefty price tag, there’s all sorts of fees and closing costs associated with the purchase. It can be easy to try to cut costs, and the home inspection seems like a great place to do it, right? Well, not so fast. Before you forego that $200-$500 home inspection fee, read these reasons why you shouldn’t skip a home inspection.

  1. It Provides an “Out.” A quality home inspection can reveal critical information about a home and its systems. This allows the buyer prepare for maintenance and repairs that may be needed immediately or in the future. If a buyer isn’t comfortable with the potential costs, it presents one last opportunity to back out of the offer to purchase.
  2. Safety. A home inspection can determine any safety issues such as mold and carbon monoxide. You want to make sure you are purchasing a home that is free from these types of hazards. Make sure that your contract states that in the event that safety hazards are detected, you have the option to cancel the contract.
  3. May Reveal Illegal Additions or Installations. A home inspection can disclose whether rooms were completed without a proper permit or did not follow code, which means in essence, that the buyer is purchasing something that does not exist. This could be come a costly issue to fix.
  4. Protection. You want to protect yourself as a new homeowner against costly issues. Home inspections become even more critical when buying an “as-is” foreclosed property or short sale.
  5. Negotiating Tool. The home inspections provides a great opportunity to negotiate by asking for repairs or a reduction in price, which could mean a better deal for you as the potential homebuyer.
  6. Forecast Future Costs. A home inspector can help diagnose the current conditions of the structure and systems and approximate the costs of fixing and/or replacing things like plumbing, heating and cooling systems, or water heaters. This will help you make important decisions in budgeting, and help you determine what type of home insurance coverage or warranties to consider.
  7. Reveal the Big Picture. Home buyers fall in love with the aesthetics of a home – whether it be the color of the walls, the backyard, or the location. They can be completely blind to the issues that make a dream home a nightmare. A home inspection helps a home buyer get a picture of what they are buying.
  8. Insurance. Some companies will not insure a home that has not undergone an inspection. By getting a home inspection now, you could save time and money later.

Home inspections reveal the true picture of a property, allowing the buyer to be informed of all the perks and pitfalls a home has to offer. It is your responsibility to understand as many details as you can about the property and to ensure you are making a wise investment. Still think that home inspection is a good way to cut costs?

Get in touch for more helpful tips and recommendations when it comes to home buying and the home buying process.

Ways to Increase Your Home’s “Screen Appeal”

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With many home showings taking place online during COVID-19, it’s important to make your listing stand out “on screen.” Spend some time researching and staging your home to maximize your space and give it a neutral palette to appeal to the most prospective buyers. With stay-at-home ordinances and social distancing guidelines in place, video tours and photos are being relied on more than in-person tours so you want to make sure your home looks as good on screen as it does off.

Stage Your Space

The first step in any home staging is to remove the clutter. Put away the kids’ and pets’ toys, store or recycle magazines, and box up your pictures, refrigerator magnets and mementos for now. The less stuff on display, the more neutral your home will look and the more buyers will be able to see themselves living there. Next, consider the layout. You may have your furniture just the way you like it, but it may not be the best placement to make the most of your space on screen. Be sure to have a clear pathway between furniture pieces so your able to video. Finally, clean and dust all surfaces in sight, replace light bulbs, and open the blinds before filming so you have as much light as possible. Even beautiful spaces won’t look good if there’s not enough light.

Take Test Photos

Take some test photos before enlisting the aid of a photographer. You want your home to look its best. See how your current setup translates on screen. A photographer will take photos of the things that are there. If your home looks too cluttered or dark and dinghy, make sure you make changes before going “live” with your photos.

Do a Practice Walk-Through

If you plan on giving a video tour, and I highly suggest it, be sure to do a practice walk-through. Enlist the aid of your REALTOR® or a friend. When you do a video tour, potential buyers are only going to see what you show them. You want to make sure your highlighting your home’s best features. And don’t forget to keep the walkways clear!

Consider Virtual Staging for Empty Homes

If your home is empty, you have a few options. You can leave it empty, but remember staged homes sell faster. You can purchase furniture, a few key pieces to show the scale of a room. Or you can stage it virtually! Virtual staging digitally adds furnishings to your space. This will make your home look more natural and help to showcase the best parts of your home. There are online services and apps that make virtual staging easy.

Although people continue to buy and sell homes amid COVID-19, and you have already put a lot of thought into enhancing curb appeal, it may be time to turn inwards and up the “screen appeal.” In today’s challenging world, it may be what helps you find the buyer for your home. Contact me for additional ways on making your home look great online and off.

What is the Difference Between Being a Client or Customer in RE?

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The difference between a Client or Customer is significant in real estate; however, it’s usually not understood by the general public. What’s the difference and how does it benefit the homebuyer or seller to become a client? Read on to find out.

A Customer is serviced by an agent or broker but does not have a contractual agreement in place. The benefits of being a customer are very limited. Customers are treated honestly and fairly but that is where the duties to a customer end. Customers are “NOT represented” by the REALTOR®. Without a written agreement in place, a REALTOR® cannot offer advice or opinions and cannot negotiate on a Customer’s behalf.

A Client has a binding contractual agreement with an agent or broker in the form of a Buyer’s Representation Agreement or Listing Agreement. This contract is legally binding, and as such, entitles the Client to a higher level of service than a Customer. An agent may only give their opinion and advice to a Client. A Client is owed fiduciary duties including Obedience, Loyalty, Disclosure, Confidentiality, Accounting, and Reasonable Care. An agent is permitted to negotiate on behalf of a Client and to look out for their best interests. By entering into an agreement with a REALTOR® or agency, you are “represented” in the real estate transaction.

In summary, to receive the full benefits of a REALTOR®, a buyer or seller needs to have an agreement in place and be a Client, not a Customer.

For more information or if you have additional questions, please get in touch. I’d be happy to help!

A Historic Rebound for the Housing Market

Credit for article in its entirety to Keeping Matters Current.

A Historic Rebound for the Housing Market | MyKCM

Pending Home Sales increased by 44.3% in May, registering the highest month-over-month gain in the index since the National Association of Realtors (NAR) started tracking this metric in January 2001. So, what exactly are pending home sales, and why is this rebound so important?

According to NAR, the Pending Home Sales Index (PHS) is:

“A leading indicator of housing activity, measures housing contract activity, and is based on signed real estate contracts for existing single-family homes, condos, and co-ops. Because a home goes under contract a month or two before it is sold, the Pending Home Sales Index generally leads Existing-Home Sales by a month or two.”

In real estate, pending home sales is a key indicator in determining the strength of the housing market. As mentioned before, it measures how many existing homes went into contract in a specific month. When a buyer goes through the steps to purchase a home, the final one is the closing. On average, that happens about two months after the contract is signed, depending on how fast or slow the process takes in each state.

Why is this rebound important?

A Historic Rebound for the Housing Market | MyKCM

With the COVID-19 pandemic and a shutdown of the economy, we saw a steep two-month decline in the number of houses that went into contract. In May, however, that number increased dramatically (See graph below):This jump means buyers are back in the market and purchasing homes right now. Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at NAR mentioned:

“This has been a spectacular recovery for contract signings and goes to show the resiliency of American consumers and their evergreen desire for homeownership…This bounce back also speaks to how the housing sector could lead the way for a broader economic recovery.”

But in order to continue with this trend, we need more houses for sale on the market. Yun continues to say:

“More listings are continuously appearing as the economy reopens, helping with inventory choices…Still, more home construction is needed to counter the persistent underproduction of homes over the past decade.”

A Historic Rebound for the Housing Market | MyKCM

As we move through the year, we’ll see an increase in the number of houses being built. This will help combat a small portion of the inventory deficit. The lack of overall inventory, however, is still a challenge, and it is creating an opportunity for homeowners who are ready to sell. As the graph below shows, during the last 12 months, the supply of homes for sale has been decreasing year-over-year and is not keeping up with the demand from homebuyers.

Bottom Line

If you decided not to sell this spring due to the health crisis, maybe it’s time to jump back into the market while buyers are actively looking for homes. Let’s connect today to determine your best move forward.