Why the Holidays Are A Great Time to Sell Your Home
When it comes to real estate, many believe the ideal time to sell your home often falls in the spring months. After all, people often hunker down during the winter or are too busy with the holidays to think about purchasing a new home. Not to mention that people like to start shopping in the spring to make sure they are settled in their home before the start of a new school year.
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But putting your house up for sale around the holidays has its benefits. Sure, you may not get into a bidding war, but you are going to deal with serious buyers who are ready to pull the trigger.
Consider these major benefits to selling your home this holiday season:
1. There’s Less Inventory
Conventional wisdom says people should wait until the spring to get the most from a home sale. But studies have shown that homes listed around the holidays can not only command more money, but can also sell quicker than ones listed in the spring.
One of the reasons is there is less competition during the holidays. For a multitude of reasons people won’t put their houses up for sale when the holidays are coming up, and so the ones shopping aren’t going to have dozens of houses to choose from. In the spring, inventory usually picks up, and price wars break out in coveted neighborhoods. But during the holidays, there will be limited choices which means a homeowner can have a higher asking price.
2. Buyers Are More Serious
Anyone who is shopping for a new home around Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Year’s is undoubtedly going to be a serious buyer. While hitting open houses is a favorite pastime for many Americans, they aren’t going to spend their precious time around the holidays seeing how the other half lives. In the spring, when open houses are a regular occurrence, people may check out homes without a clear plan to buy.
If your house is up for sale in the winter and someone is looking at it, chances are that person is serious and is ready to pull the trigger. That can often result in a quicker sales process.
3. You Can Make the Home Warm and Cozy
The holidays are often a time when people gather around fireplaces, have hot chocolate and make nice smelling cakes and pies. For homeowners who put their house up for sale during the winter months, they can stage their house to give off the comfy and homey vibe that appeals to many home buyers. Some people may argue that showing a house in the winter is hard to do because there’s snow on the ground, the house is drafty and the curb appeal is lacking. But keeping the heat up, having a pie baking in the oven to give off a pleasant smell and keeping the sidewalk and driveway clear of snow and ice can boost a home’s appeal.
Not to mention that buyers tend to be more emotional during the holidays and will make decisions based on the feeling a house conjures up. During the spring there is a lot more foot traffic in homes that are up for sale. Buyers may not be able to do a thorough walk-through, may get frustrated because of the number of people looking at it and can leave with a bad feeling about the home.
4. Timing Is Perfect for Transfers
The end of the year is typically the time when people get notified that they will be moving because of a job transfer. Those people are going to need a house sooner rather than later, and as a result will be hunting for a new home during the holidays. These buyers can’t wait for the spring, which is why listing during the holidays can get the home sold and sold quickly.
5. Your Neighborhood May Look More Appealing
One of the staples of the holiday months, particularly Christmas, is that many people adorn their homes with festive lights and decorations. That is also true of local communities where lit-up snowflakes and wreaths can be found on lamp poles and up and down the main streets. People purchasing a home during that time may see the neighborhood in a different light and may be more willing to consider an area that they may have been on the fence about.
6. End-of-Year Tax Breaks
Reducing the tax bill is not the main reason buyers purchase a new home, but it could be the reason serious buyers make a move during the holidays. That’s because if the home sale closes before Dec. 31, buyers can deduct the mortgage interest, property taxes and interest costs of the loan. The tax deductions can be significant and could prompt a home buyer to move during the holidays instead of waiting until the spring.
Nobody wants their home to languish on the market nor do they want to have to lower the price they are asking for. And while many fear that will happen if they list their home during the holidays, often that isn’t the case.
Are you planning on selling your home? Contact us to find out why selling your home during the holiday season can mean less competition, more serious buyers and a quicker sale.
Power Outages: Be Prepared
Your electric service is generally very reliable; however, extreme weather conditions and other factors can lead to a temporary loss of power. To keep your family safe and comfortable during an outage or other emergency, it’s important to be prepared.
Here are some tips:
• Create an emergency preparedness kit, including a flashlight, batteries, cash and first aid supplies.
• Maintain supplies of healthy and filling snacks that don’t require refrigeration, such as dried fruits, nuts and protein bars.
• Make sure you have alternative charging methods for your phone or any device that requires power.
• Purchase ice or freeze water-filled plastic containers to help keep food cold during a temporary power outage.
• Learn about the emergency plans established in your area by contacting your state or local emergency management agency.
• If you rely on anything that’s battery-operated or power dependent, such as a medical device, have a backup plan.
• Maintain backup generators according to manufacturers’ recommendations and store an adequate supply of fuel in a safe place.
During an outage, monitor local radio stations or online sources for reports about power restoration. Disconnect or switch off appliances and electronic equipment that were running when the power went out. Avoid opening refrigerators and freezers to save cold air and preserve food longer.
Follow these measures to ensure the safety of you and your family during and after an outage.
Generators. Operate backup generators safely by following manufacturer’s instructions. Don’t attempt to connect your generator to the electrical system; it can backfeed to outdoor utility lines and injure or kill utility service personnel. An automatic transfer switch—installed by a qualified electrician—will help to ensure safe operation.
Refrigerated foods. Discard any perishable items in your refrigerator or freezer that may not be safe to consume. A refrigerator keeps food at a safe temperature for up to four hours during a power outage if it remains closed. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends discarding foods such as meat, poultry and eggs if they’ve been above 40°F for more than two hours.
For more tips and resources, see Power Outages from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
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What Is a Real Estate Agent’s Commission?
Ever wonder what exactly a Real Estate Agent does? Are they worth the commission? Ever wonder if you’re paying too much for commission? Even consider going it your own via FSBO?
You may have a great Agent and they don’t communicate with you all they’re doing. Or, you may also have a rock star agent and who’s doing so much it hasn’t even occurred to you all the fine details going into your home sale.
Here are a few facts that might help you sleep at night and have some peace about residential real estate commissions:
1. Real estate agents are sole proprietors
That means that even if they are a part of an agency, they are small business owners and cover all their own costs and carry all the risk. Do you own or have you ever owned your own small business? Then you know you wear ALL the hats and all the responsibility falls to you. Not to mention, your rather high tax rate!
They invest in you and your home. If they take on a listing, that means they’ve calculated the cost of marketing, photos, and time – lots and lots of time. High quality marketing – online and offline – and maybe even virtual tours. All that cost money. There’s considerable overhead if you are active in the field.
They have no salary and no real predictability in income. One deal may have to last them many months or maybe even longer.
2. The sale of your home may be covering for the loss of another
Deals fall through ALL. THE. TIME. Your particular sale may go pretty smoothly – great! I guarantee you it has ended up covering for a major loss on another deal. It’s the nature of business.
3. The real work begins once a contract is accepted
It may feel like all an agent does is show up sometimes for an open house here and there and put a sign in the yard. Or every time they come over, they’re telling you things you need to spend money on. But the real work is done behind the scenes and is intensified once an offer is accepted. Getting to the closing table is more and more challenging.
Pat Vredevoogd-Combs, a former president of the National Association of REALTORS, testified before the House Financial Services Committee on Housing to stark federal complaints about residential real estate industry pricing.
She submitted a list of 184 things that Listing Agents do in every real estate transaction as a part of her testimony to the committee. She stated, “By all accounts the general public is not aware of all the services that agents provide to sellers and buyers during the course of the transaction, probably because most of the important services are performed behind the scenes.”
Here is the list of (just) 184 things residential real estate agents do:
1. Make appointment with seller for listing presentation.
2. Send a written or e-mail confirmation of appointment and call to confirm.
3. Review appointment questions.
4. Research all comparable currently listed properties.
5. Research sales activity for past 18 months from MLS and public databases.
6. Research “average days on market” for properties similar in type, price and location.
7. Download and review property tax roll information.
8. Prepare “comparable market analysis” (CMA) to establish market value.
9. Obtain copy of subdivision plat/complex layout.
10. Research property’s ownership and deed type.
11. Research property’s public record information for lot size and dimensions.
12. Verify legal description.
13. Research property’s land use coding and deed restrictions.
14. Research property’s current use and zoning.
15. Verify legal names of owner(s) in county’s public property records.
16. Prepare listing presentation package with above materials.
17. Perform exterior “curb appeal assessment” of subject property.
18. Compile and assemble formal file on property.
19. Confirm current public schools and explain their impact on market value.
20. Review listing appointment checklist to ensure completion of all tasks.
Listing Appointment Presentation
21. Give seller an overview of current market conditions and projections.
22. Review agent and company credentials and accomplishments.
23. Present company’s profile and position or “niche” in the marketplace.
24. Present CMA results, including comparables, solds, current listings and expireds.
25. Offer professional pricing strategy based and interpretation of current market conditions.
26. Discuss goals to market effectively.
27. Explain market power and benefits of multiple listing service.
28. Explain market power of Web marketing, IDX and MLS.
29. Explain the work the broker and agent do “behind the scenes” and agent’s availability on weekends.
30. Explain agent’s role in screening qualified buyers to protect against curiosity seekers.
31. Present and discuss strategic master marketing plan.
32. Explain different agency relationships and determine seller’s preference.
33. Review all clauses in listing contract and obtain seller’s signature.
After Listing Agreement is Signed
34. Review current title information.
35. Measure overall and heated square footage.
36. Measure interior room sizes.
37. Confirm lot size via owner’s copy of certified survey, if available.
38. Note any and all unrecorded property lines, agreements, easements.
39. Obtain house plans, if applicable and available.
40. Review house plans, make copy.
41. Order plat map for retention in property’s listing file.
42. Prepare showing instructions for buyers’ agents and agree on showing time with seller.
43. Obtain current mortgage loan(s) information: companies and account numbers
44. Verify current loan information with lender(s).
45. Check assumability of loan(s) and any special requirements.
46. Discuss possible buyer financing alternatives and options with seller.
47. Review current appraisal if available.
48. Identify Home Owner Association manager is applicable.
49. Verify Home Owner Association fees with manager–mandatory or optional and current annual fee.
50. Order copy of Home Owner Association bylaws, if applicable.
51. Research electricity availability and supplier’s name and phone number.
52. Calculate average utility usage from last 12 months of bills.
53. Research and verify city sewer/septic tank system.
54. Calculate average water system fees or rates from last 12 months of bills.
55. Or confirm well status, depth and output from Well Report.
56. Research/verify natural gas availability, supplier’s name and phone number.
57. Verify security system, term of service and whether owned or leased.
58. Verify if seller has transferable Termite Bond.
59. Ascertain need for lead-based paint disclosure.
60. Prepare detailed list of property amenities and assess market impact.
61. Prepare detailed list of property’s “Inclusions & Conveyances with Sale.”
62. Complete list of completed repairs and maintenance items.
63. Send “Vacancy Checklist” to seller if property is vacant.
64. Explain benefits of Home Owner Warranty to seller.
65. Assist sellers with completion and submission of Home Owner Warranty application.
66. When received, place Home Owner Warranty in property file for conveyance at time of sale.
67. Have extra key made for lockbox.
68. Verify if property has rental units involved. And if so:
69. Make copies of all leases for retention in listing file.
70. Verify all rents and deposits.
71. Inform tenants of listing and discuss how showings will be handled.
72. Arrange for yard sign installation.
73. Assist seller with completion of Seller’s Disclosure form.
74. Complete “new listing checklist.”
75. Review results of Curb Appeal Assessment with seller and suggest improvements for salability.
76. Review results of Interior Decor Assessment and suggest changes to shorten time on market.
77. Load listing time into transaction management software.
Entering Property in MLS Database
78. Prepare MLS Profile Sheet–agent is responsible for “quality control” and accuracy of listing data.
79. Enter property data from Profile Sheet into MLS listing database.
80. Proofread MLS database listing for accuracy, including property placement in mapping function.
81. Add property to company’s Active Listings.
82. Provide seller with signed copies of Listing Agreement and MLS Profile Data Form within 48 hours.
83. Take more photos for upload into MLS and use in flyers. Discuss efficacy of panoramic photography.
Marketing the Listing
84. Create print and Internet ads with seller’s input.
85. Coordinate showings with owners, tenants and other agents. Return all calls–weekends included.
86. Install electronic lockbox. Program with agreed-upon showing time windows.
87. Prepare mailing and contact list.
88. Generate mail-merge letters to contact list.
89. Order “Just Listed” labels and reports.
90. Prepare flyers and feedback forms.
91. Review comparable MLS listings regularly to ensure property remains competitive in price, terms, conditions and availability.
92. Prepare property marketing brochure for seller’s review.
93. Arrange for printing or copying of supply of marketing brochures or flyers.
94. Place marketing brochures in all company agent mailboxes.
95. Upload listing to company and agent Internet sites.
RELATED: Your Custom Home Marketing Plan
96. Mail “Just Listed” notice to all neighborhood residents.
97. Advise Network Referral Program of listing.
98. Provide marketing data to buyers from international relocation networks.
99. Provide marketing data to buyers coming from referral network.
100. Provide “Special Feature” cards for marketing, if applicable/
101. Submit ads to company’s participating Internet real estate sites.
102. Convey price changes promptly to all Internet groups.
103. Reprint/supply brochures promptly as needed.
104. Review and update loan information in MLS as required.
105. Send feedback e-mails/faxes to buyers’ agents after showings.
106. Review weekly Market Study.
107. Discuss feedback from showing agents with seller to determine if changes will accelerate the sale.
108. Place regular weekly update calls to seller to discuss marketing and pricing.
109. Promptly enter price changes in MLS listings database.
The Offer and the Contract
110. Receive and review all Offer to Purchase contracts submitted by buyers or buyers’ agents. 111. Evaluate offer(s) and prepare “net sheet” on each for owner to compare.
112. Counsel seller on offers. Explain merits and weakness of each component of each offer. 113. Contact buyers’ agents to review buyer’s qualifications and discuss offer.
114. Fax/deliver Seller’s Disclosure to buyer’s agent or buyer upon request and prior to offer if possible.
115. Confirm buyer is pre-qualified by calling loan officer.
116. Obtain pre-qualification letter on buyer from loan officer.
117. Negotiate all offers on seller’s behalf, setting time limit for loan approval and closing date.
118. Prepare and convey any counteroffers, acceptance or amendments to buyer’s agent.
119. Fax copies of contract and all addendums to closing attorney or title company.
120. When Offer-to-Purchase contract is accepted and signed by seller, deliver to buyer’s agent.
121. Record and promptly deposit buyer’s money into escrow account.
122. Disseminate “Under-Contract Showing Restrictions” as seller requests.
123. Deliver copies of fully signed Offer to Purchase contract to sellers.
124. Fax/deliver copies of Offer to Purchase contract to selling agent.
125. Fax copies of Offer to Purchase contract to lender.
126. Provide copies of signed Offer to Purchase contract for office file.
127. Advise seller in handling additional offers to purchase submitted between contract and closing.
128. Change MLS status to “Sale Pending.”
129. Update transaction management program to show “Sale Pending.”
130. Review buyer’s credit report results–Advise seller of worst and best case scenarios.
131. Provide credit report information to seller if property is to be seller financed.
132. Assist buyer with obtaining financing and follow up as necessary.
133. Coordinate with lender on discount points being locked in with dates.
134. Deliver unrecorded property information to buyer.
135. Order septic inspection, if applicable.
136. Receive and review septic system report and access any impact on sale.
137. Deliver copy of septic system inspection report to lender and buyer.
138. Deliver well flow test report copies to lender, buyer and listing file.
139. Verify termite inspection ordered.
140. Verify mold inspection ordered, if required.
Tracking the Loan Process
141. Confirm return of verifications of deposit and buyer’s employment.
142. Follow loan processing through to the underwriter.
143. Add lender and other vendors to transaction management program so agents, buyer and seller can track progress of sale.
144. Contact lender weekly to ensure processing is on track.
145. Relay final approval of buyer’s loan application to seller.
146. Coordinate buyer’s professional home inspection with seller.
147. Review home inspector’s report.
148. Enter completion into transaction management tracking software program.
149. Explain seller’s responsibilities of loan limits and interpret any clauses in the contract.
150. Ensure seller’s compliance with home inspection clause requirements.
151. Assist seller with identifying and negotiating with trustworthy contractors for required repairs.
152. Negotiate payment and oversee completion of all required repairs on seller’s behalf, if needed.
153. Schedule appraisal.
154. Provide comparable sales used in market pricing to appraiser.
155. Follow up on appraisal.
156. Enter completion into transaction management program.
157. Assist seller in questioning appraisal report if it seems too low.
Closing Preparations and Duties
158. Make sure contract is signed by all parties.
159. Coordinate closing process with buyer’s agent and lender.
160. Update closing forms and files.
161. Ensure all parties have all forms and information needed to close the sale.
162. Select location for closing.
163. Confirm closing date and time and notify all parties.
164. Solve any title problems (boundary disputes, easements, etc.) or in obtaining death certificates.
165. Work with buyer’s agent in scheduling and conducting buyer’s final walkthrough prior to closing.
166. Research all tax, HOA, utility and other applicable prorations.
167. Request final closing figures from closing agent (attorney or title company).
168. Receive and carefully review closing figures to ensure accuracy.
169. Forward verified closing figures to buyer’s agent.
170. Request copy of closing documents from closing agent.
171. Confirm the buyer and buyer’s agent received title insurance commitment.
172. Provide “Home Owners Warranty” for availability at closing.
173. Review all closing documents carefully for errors.
174. Forward closing documents to absentee seller as requested.
175. Review documents with closing agent (attorney).
176. Provide earnest money deposit from escrow account to closing agent.
177. Coordinate closing with seller’s next purchase, resolving timing issues.
178. Have a “no surprises” closing so that seller receives a net proceeds check at closing.
179. Refer sellers to one of the best agents at their destination, if applicable.
180. Change MLS status to Sold. Enter sale date, price, selling broker and agent’s ID numbers, etc.
181. Close out listing in transaction management program.
Follow Up After Closing
182. Answer questions about filing claims with Home Owner Warranty company, if requested.
183. Attempt to clarify and resolve any repair conflicts if buyer is dissatisfied.
184. Respond to any follow-up calls and provide any additional information required from office files.
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5 Reasons You Should Never Buy or Sell a Home Without a Real Estate Agent
You’re DIY’ing this real estate thing, and you think you’re doing pretty well—after all, any info you might need is at your fingertips online, right? That and your own judgment.
Oh, dear home buyer (or seller!)—we know you can do it on your own. But you really, really shouldn’t. This is likely the biggest financial decision of your entire life, and you need Real Estate Agent if you want to do it right.
1. They have loads of expertise
Want to check the MLS for a 4B/2B with an EIK and a W/D? Real estate has its own language, full of acronyms and semi-arcane jargon, and your Real Estate Agent is trained to speak that language fluently.
Plus, buying or selling a home usually requires dozens of forms, reports, disclosures, and other technical documents. Real Estate Agents have the expertise to help you prepare a killer deal—while avoiding delays or costly mistakes that can seriously mess you up.
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2. They have turbocharged searching power
The Internet is awesome. You can find almost anything—anything! And with online real estate listing sites such as yours truly, you can find up-to-date home listings on your own, any time you want. But guess what? Real Estate Agents have access to even more listings. Sometimes properties are available but not actively advertised. A Real Estate Agent can help you find those hidden gems.
Plus, a good local Real Estate Agent is going to know the search area way better than you ever could. Have your eye on a particular neighborhood, but it’s just out of your price range? Your Real Estate Agent is equipped to know the ins and outs of every neighborhood, so she can direct you toward a home in your price range that you may have overlooked.
3. They have bullish negotiating chops
Any time you buy or sell a home, you’re going to encounter negotiations—and as today’s housing market heats up, those negotiations are more likely than ever to get a little heated.
You can expect lots of competition, cutthroat tactics, all-cash offers, and bidding wars. Don’t you want a savvy and professional negotiator on your side to seal the best deal for you?
And it’s not just about how much money you end up spending or netting. A Real Estate Agent will help draw up a purchase agreement that allows enough time for inspections, contingencies, and anything else that’s crucial to your particular needs.
4. They’re connected to everyone
Real Estate Agents might not know everything, but they make it their mission to know just about everyone who can possibly help in the process of buying or selling a home. Mortgage brokers, real estate attorneys, home inspectors, home stagers, interior designers—the list goes on—and they’re all in your Real Estate Agent’s network. Use them.
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5. They’re your sage parent/data analyst/therapist—all rolled into one
The thing about Real Estate Agents: They wear a lot of different hats. Sure, they’re salespeople, but they actually do a whole heck of a lot to earn their commission. They’re constantly driving around, checking out listings for you. They spend their own money on marketing your home (if you’re selling). They’re researching comps to make sure you’re getting the best deal.
And, of course, they’re working for you at nearly all hours of the day and night—whether you need more info on a home or just someone to talk to in order to feel at ease with the offer you just put in. This is the biggest financial (and possibly emotional) decision of your life, and guiding you through it isn’t a responsibility Real Estate Agents take lightly.
Did you try the DIY route and the go Agent? Tell us about your experience. Sound of on the Patrick Parker Realty Facebook Page, our Twitter or LinkedIn Feeds or on our Instagram account. And don’t forget to subscribe to our monthly HOME ADVICE email newsletter for articles like this delivered straight to your inbox. You may unsubscribe at any time.
6 Affordable Ways to Make Your Home Look High End
Your home’s appearance is a reflection of you and what type of person you are. Living on the Jersey Shore you’ll find diversity among décor.
The coastal themes of the water and the contemporary art remain strong when it comes to making a home look high end. With a few good tips you can walk with pride by creating a high end home, even when you’re on a budget.
Here are a couple of considerations that may peak your curiosity:
1. Pastel Paints
You can see heads nodding to the interior design trends for 2017. Pastel paints mixed with natural pieces of furniture and sleek industrial accents. This look is easy to achieve by replacing your ivory white walls for more subdued colors like yellows, blues and greens. Bright colors, browns and boring neutrals are out when it comes to making a home look more Chi-Chi.
2. Abstract Art Piece
Add a touch of nature with a vase, abstract art piece or some other type of organic flair to the room. On the flip side try adding metallic finishes such as copper and silver to accent these rooms. You will find this look across the board in magazines such as Coastal Living.
Do-it-Yourself Wainscoting, Chair rails, Board and Batten are all excellent weekend projects that can enhance the way any room looks. Just be sure to do your painting first and look in places like Pinterest for additional DIY ideas.
3. Wooden Valances
Wooden valances are easier to create than most people think and are a welcome addition to any window treatment. Paint these wooden boxes to either match or contrast the walls and you’ve got a look that is stunning in just about any room.
4. Kitchen Tile Blacksplashes
The kitchen can be updated by adding things like a DIY tile backsplash that extends from countertop to cabinets. This will make even the most outdated kitchen look new again. One major trend that we are seeing a lot of this year is the ‘subway’ tile look. This is a clean, simple look that will match in a multitude of decorative applications.
TIP: Don’t forget the laundry room! Many people are taking the time to give this room some love and attention by placing backdrops behind the ole’ washer and dryer. They are using ‘neat freak’ solutions to storage and really creating a welcoming invitation to this area.
5. Backyard / Outdoor Living Spaces
Backyard living spaces are huge now. Many families find themselves enjoying their porches and patios more than ever before. When you live in a place like the Jersey Shore, you’ve probably got a deep love for being outdoors. Your home will be upgraded by taking the time and investing in making this gorgeous area. Things like plants, fire pits, decorative stones and waterfalls can add to the ambiance and the value of the home. Places like Houzz.com are an excellent resource for other decorating ideas for these outdoor spaces.
6. Curb Appeal
Entryway and curb appeal are important to beautifying your home and should be given special attention. You don’t want to spend your time grimacing and wincing each time you pull into your driveway. Paint the exterior in a pleasant color that’s complimentary of the surroundings.
Use art instead of plants as a focal point. Garage doors need to be updated and todays newer selections are not only inexpensive, they’re super modern.
No matter if you’re a new homeowner or you’ve been in your place for years, there are a lot of things that you can do to make your place look like a million bucks with spending a fraction of that amount. Do you have something to add to our list? Sound off on our Facebook Page or on our Twitter or LinkedIn feeds. And don’t forget to subscribe to our monthly HOME ADVICEtm email newsletter for articles like this delivered straight to your inbox.
6 Reasons To Sell Your Home In 2017
Planning to sell in the new year? Get a head start by listing early.
Being early has its benefits: “The early bird catches the worm” or “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” You get the idea. So if you’re thinking about listing your home for sale in Monmouth County or on the Jersey Shore in 2017 — or if you already know you will — why not do so early, as in January or February? By getting in on the real estate market at the beginning of the year, you could benefit in some unexpected ways. Here are six of them.
1. There’s low inventory
When inventory’s low, it’s usually a great time to put your house on the market. Your new listing could cause buyers to pounce when there’s little competition, especially if your home is in a desirable neighborhood. Research conducted by Trulia revealed that 2016 was the year of low inventory.
2. There’s more urgency
There are plenty of reasons people need to get in a home fast. Many companies transfer employees at the start of a year, for one. Whatever the reason, if you encounter a homebuyer in the dead of winter, they probably need to buy sooner rather than later. And unless you’re in a hot climate, January and February are not the months most people want to be out hitting the streets to browse. Winter buyers often have a sense of urgency — when they find what they’re looking for, they’ll make an offer.
3. Spring starts early in warm markets
If your home is in a warm climate, you could really benefit by listing your home for sale in early spring. “Traditionally, our real estate website has at least double the number of visitors starting the day after Christmas,” says Patrick Parker, Broker/Owner of Patrick Parker Realty.
“While homebuyers may not be personally visiting houses as quickly, they will be looking online. We advise that listing a home earlier helps a home stand out in the market.”
Also, when the weather outside is frightful, retirees and people in the market for a second home seek a more temperate climate.
4. There’s early movement for lower price points
The lower-price-point markets move a little earlier. If you’re a first-time homebuyer and are currently saving in preparation to buy, you might have earmarked that tax refund coming to you for the purpose.
“When these potential buyers get a refund on their taxes, they’ll sometimes use that as a down payment to roll into a purchase,” says Parker. The sooner you turn in your tax return, the sooner you’ll get your refund, usually in fewer than 21 days.
5. There’s a new administration
Speculation and uncertainty abound whenever a new administration takes the helm. If you think the Trump administration will make it tougher for people to buy a home, you might want to sell early in the year.
It is common for people to worry when reforms laid out by the new Republican platform could potentially force buyers to fork over larger down payments. This could be a challenge for many home sellers as the pool of eligible homebuyers begins to shrink. Of course, speculation is just that. But if you believe this to be true, it makes sense to sell your home now.
6. There’s a potential interest rate hike coming
Some people are concerned about rising interest rates this year. If homebuyers think rates will rise, they might buy sooner rather than later.
The interest rates have been very low for a long time, as they begin to tick up, you will start to see consumers’ buying power drop because of the cost to cover mortgage payments. It is all an unknown, but there is some thought that rates could continue to rise in 2017 like they have been doing slightly at the end of 2016.
What tips for selling your home in early 2017 do you have? Share your suggestions on the Patrick Parker Realty Facebook Page or on our Twitter or LinkedIn feed. And don’t forget to subscribe to our monthly email newsletter for articles like this delivered straight to your inbox.
8 Surprising Factors That Can Affect Your Home’s Value
Besides the obvious factors, there are some quirky elements that can affect your home’s value. Find out what they are.
Surprise! You might know more about real estate than you think. For example, you know that square footage, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, lot size, and location determine home value: A 4,000-square-foot, five-bed, five-bath beachfront in Bradley Beach, NJ, will almost always be worth more than a 2,000-square-foot, two-bed, two-bath home on a quarter-acre lot 20 miles inland.
But those obvious factors aren’t everything you need to calculate your home’s property value estimate. Other, less obvious features can negatively or positively come into play — features you might not have considered.
Here are eight frequently overlooked (and not always fixable) things that, for better or for worse, can impact the value of your home:
1. The Name of Your Street (really!)
People typically prefer the street they live on to have a name versus a number. It’s true nationwide (with the exceptions of New York, NY, and Atlanta, GA, where there is no difference, and Denver, CO, where numbers are favored). According to a study by Trulia, “street” is the least expensive address suffix by price per square foot, and “boulevard” is the most expensive.
2. Your House Number
Ever heard of house numerology? This is the practice of assigning a single-digit number to your home based on its address. Let’s say your address is 1219 Main Street. Add 1 + 2 + 1 + 9 to get 13. Then add 1 + 3. Your house would be 4: good for investments and security but bad for adventure and excitement. While this type of house numerology may be passed off as a superstition, buyers who subscribe to this theory may overlook potential homes because of their numerology calculations. However, whether or not you’re into numerology, house numbers do matter. If your address is 13 (a universally unlucky number), you might choose to price your home slightly less than your neighbor at number 12 did.
3. Sketchy neighbors
The closer you live to your neighbor, the more important it will be for your tastes, habits, and personalities to jive with theirs. In a condo, the last thing a potential buyer wants is to purchase a unit where the neighbors above are noisy or inconsiderate. Owners of single-family homes can thank fastidious neighbors with good taste to increase the values of all nearby homes. But, of course, the opposite is also true: as is the case with a homeowner who had great difficulty selling their home because their next-door neighbor constructed a giant memorial dedicated to Michael Jackson on the front lawn.
4. Mature trees
Tree-huggers and environmentalists unite! It’s common practice for developers to cut down most of (or all!) the trees on a property to build homes. But mature trees almost always enhance property values. Still don’t believe it? Check out the National Tree Benefit Calculator to see the full benefits of planting specific types of trees. If you have the space, make a trip to your local nursery to discuss the best tree options for your home.
5. Crown Molding
If you’ve worked hard to select just the right neutral and serene paint color scheme that will probably attract the most buyers, you’re doing yourself a disservice if you neglect one important element: crown molding. “People love crown moldings,” says Patrick Parker, broker and owner of record of Patrick Parker Realty. “Of course, everyone loves high ceilings too,” he says. Although you can’t do anything about how high your ceilings are, you can put in crown moldings — even with lower ceilings. Just make sure they work with the scale of the room, and don’t veer too far into the trend zone.
6. Yankees Memorabilia
Yankee fans, relax. We’re not picking on just you. Although this anecdote from New Jersey happens to be about the New York baseball team, you could insert any team here. We’ve seen a home wall papered in Yankee memorabilia, even a family room adjourned with baseball themed carpeting. The verdict? Many people were turned off, especially Red Sox fans. If you don’t want to alienate a potential buyer, you might want to stash the fan gear away while your home is on the market.
And Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. If you have any of those establishments close by, typically within a mile, up goes your property’s value. “Homes near Trader Joe’s have increased in value by an average of 40% since purchased,” says Chris Leavitt former star of the TV series Million Dollar Listing. “Nearby Starbucks and Whole Foods Markets also enjoyed double-digit gains on home value.”
8. A Death on the Property
In some states sellers must disclose whether there was a death on the property, which can be a deal breaker for some buyers. On average, once buyers find out there has been a death on the property, two out of five lose interest.
RELATED: Seller Disclosure in New Jersey
There’s even a name for a home someone died in: stigmatized. It refers to a home that has been the site of a murder, suicide, or paranormal activity or haunting. But even if your state doesn’t have a death disclosure requirement, certainly if someone asks, you should fess up. It’s the right thing to do.
Have you discovered an unusual factor while calculating your home’s property value? Share it with us on the Patrick Parker Realty Facebook Page, Twitter feed or LinkedIn profile. And don’t forget to subscribe to the monthly Patrick Parker Realty email newsletter for articles like this one delivered straight to your inbox.
8 Small Design Tricks To Get Your Jersey Shore Home Ready For Fall
It’s getting dark earlier, pumpkin-spice everything is hitting store shelves, and you’re thinking twice about wearing white pants. It can only mean one thing: Fall is imminent. While it’s always sad to see the lazy days of summer come to an end, autumn brings the opportunity to fill your Jersey Shore home with the coziest of cozy decor.
Follow these eight quick decor enhancements that can be done in the hour gained from daylight saving time:
1. Update your art with autumnal tones
The biggest way to change the mood in your home is with your walls. If you’re not inclined to tackle a new paint job, art makes a big difference without the commitment. Swapping out brightly hued art for pieces that incorporate seasonal hues like claret red, golden yellow, plum, forest green, and chocolate brown, or more muted hues like mauve and moss, will bring plenty of warmth to any room. Paintings and prints are also the perfect thing to look for at the many flea markets that pop up this time of year.
2. Swap out pillows and curtains
Changing out your throw pillows and blankets can make a big difference with the ‘mood’ of the room. Opt for richer, deeper tones like navy or taupe for bringing in a fall feeling, instead of more-obvious yet bright oranges and reds. For curtains, consider texture. Gauzy panels and sheer cottons are a great option for warm-weather months, but look wimpy come fall. Try wool, velvet, thickly woven fabrics or blackout-lined cotton as a cozier alternative.
3. Go for texture under your toes
Floors offer a huge blank canvas ripe for decorating. But like pillows and curtains, the material you choose can make a big impact on how your space feels. Sea grass, lightweight canvases in bright prints, and indoor/outdoor rugs can be out of sync with fall’s lusher textures. A small sheepskin fur rug can change the whole vibe of the room, giving you that fall feel without spending a lot. Other good rug choices include wool, cowhide, modern shag rugs, and even felt.
4. Arrange fall-friendly outdoor vignettes
A fave go-to outdoor arrangement for fall: a set of urns filled with mums, decorative purple cabbage or kale, and white or orange pumpkins and gourds. This can make an impactful statement and it allows you to enjoy the vibrant colors of fall into the colder months. Want to go for a single type of bloom? Group mums or fall-blooming hydrangeas (varieties like oakleaf or Endless Summer work well) in barrels or bushel baskets by your front steps.
5. Update your bedding
Although crisp cotton sheets are timeless, you might want a little more warmth as the season progresses. If you are using a lighter blanket in the spring and summer, try investing in a down comforter and duvet cover for the fall. Egyptian cotton for the duvet cover, which will last for seasons to come, and a faux-fur throw for the end of your bed. If you’re looking for softer sheets, flannel and jersey are plentiful (and affordable!) this time of year.
6. Stow boots and jackets stylishly
Whether you went for a hike or an apple-picking jaunt, you’ll definitely want a place to stash muddy boots when you come home. Drip trays are an absolute must to keep muddy or wet boots from tracking throughout the house. Something like Crate & Barrel’s Zinc Boot Tray gets the job done stylishly. For jackets and backpacks, try hooks in a finish that match your doorknobs for a unified look.
7. Soften your lighting
With it fading to dark earlier, try placing your lights on a dimming panel. This way, as it gets dark, you are able to adjust the light as needed. It’s especially helpful for mood lighting when entertaining — after all, fall does kick off the entertaining season that continues through the holidays. Coupled with candles, dimmed lights create a warm, festive scene.
8. Consider small details
Sometimes the simplest fall decorating ideas are the best. Bowls of fresh, seasonal fruit placed in the kitchen, on a dining room table, or even on an entryway console table can have a big impact on the fall feel of your home. And don’t forget the most obvious — and affordable — way to bring some autumn indoors: with vibrant foliage. A fun idea is to gather up colorful leaves from fallen branches and display them in jars. Complete the look with candles, dish soaps, and diffusers in fall-friendly scents.
How are you ramping up your home’s fall factor? Post your comments on the Patrick Parker Realty Facebook Page, Twitter Feed or on LinkedIn. Plus don’t forget to subscribe to the monthly Patrick Parker Realty email newsletter for articles like this one delivered straight to your inbox.
How To Hack Your Electric Bill
Want to know how to save electricity? These hacks can help save you cash too.
You turn off the lights when you leave a room. You unplug small appliances when they aren’t in use. You think you’re being pretty smart about your energy consumption, yet every month your electric bill keeps creeping up. You shudder to think how high it could go in the summer months. You’re not alone. On average, American households spend $110 a month on their electric bill.
Before you start plotting a move to cooler climes, find out how to save electricity with these hacks and then start focusing on more fun tasks — like what to do with all of the money you’re saving!
1. Identify the “energy vampires” in your home
“Appliances that use a remote control, have a continuous display, or have an external power supply all continue to use energy, even when they’re turned off,” says Gene Wang, CEO and co-founder of People Power, a company that provides apps, cloud, and mobile service.
Translation: Simply remembering to turn off your plasma TV isn’t enough. According to Wang, even when it’s turned off, a TV still sucks up 1,400 kilowatt-hours annually, which could mean an extra $150 per year added to your bill. Invest in a smart power strip and plug like-used devices such as TVs, game consoles, and cable boxes into the same one, advises Wang. Not only will the device cut off phantom power, but it can also be set to turn on and off automatically.
2. Invest in a power monitor to optimize energy usage times
“You want to use power when the energy rates are lower and there’s less demand on the power grid,” says Joel Worthington, president of Mr. Electric LLC, an international electrical installation and repair company. A power monitor can help you figure out how much energy you’re using throughout the day so that you can make changes accordingly. For example, you may find it’s more economical to run the dishwasher just before bedtime.
3. Wash clothes in cold water and line-dry
According to Project Laundry List, if you dry four loads of laundry in an electric dryer per week, it’ll cost you an extra $110 per year (that’s basically a membership to Hulu). Wash your clothes in cold water whenever possible and then hang them to dry on your own DIY version of an indoor clothesline (if DIY isn’t your thing, check out laundrylist.org for ready-made products for line-drying inside).
4. Use small appliances for small meals
Eating alone? Heat up your food in a toaster oven, which can use up to half as much energy as an electric oven. In the mood for a cup of tea? Heat the water in an electric kettle rather than turning on a stove burner. And when you do use your stove-top, be sure to use the burner closest to the size of your pot. According to SmarterHouse.org, “a 6-inch pan on an 8-inch burner wastes over 40% of the heat produced by the burner.”
5. Install motion-activated power outlets
Can’t remember whether you unplugged your curling iron before you left the house? Use a motion-activated outlet adapter. It will automatically turn off a gadget or appliance that’s plugged into the adapter when it senses no one is in the room using it, says Worthington. If you’re a renter, mention this option to your landlord, who will probably be only too happy to reduce wasted energy use (and potentially prevent fires too).
6. Stock your fridge
Not only will your stomach thank you, but also a full refrigerator requires less energy to stay cool than an empty one. And while you’re at it, be sure to gently vacuum the coils twice a year. “Dust makes the coils heat up and work harder,” says Worthington. The harder your fridge works, the more money you’ll ultimately spend on your electric bill.
7. Take advantage of solar gain
Why heat or cool a room if you aren’t using it? In the summer months, keep shades drawn during the hours when sun exposure is highest. In cooler months, let the sunlight in, which will give your bulbs — and wallet — a break. Keep air vents closed too.
RELATED: How to ‘Green Your Home’
8. Convert to LED bulbs
Yes, they’re more expensive upfront — an LED light bulb costs about $8 per bulb, whereas an incandescent is around a buck — but an LED bulb will last a whopping 25,000 hours (or almost 23 years, assuming three hours of use per day) compared with 1,000 hours for a regular old bulb. Not to mention that in that same 23-year timespan, an average bulb will cost you $180 in electricity at the current average rate, compared with just $30 with an LED bulb. Renters can take the bulbs to their next place to continue the savings.
9. Adjust the temperature of your water heater
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, heating water accounts for 10% to 15% of energy consumption in your home. Most water heaters are preset to 140 degrees, which is way more heat — and expense — than you need. Worthington advises turning yours down to 120 degrees, which can save you 6% to 10% each year on your heating costs.
Renters: Don’t try this alone. This is the kind of task that your landlord should handle; ask your landlord to dial it down for you.
What are your tips when friends ask for advice on how to save electricity? How do you lower your electric bill? Share your hacks on the Patrick Parker Realty Facebook Page, Twitter Feed or on LinkedIn. Plus don’t forget to subscribe to the monthly Patrick Parker Realty email newsletter for articles like this one delivered straight to your inbox.
7 Mistakes Many New Home Buyers Make
Once the ether wears off, and the dust from moving clears, new home buyers oftentimes reflect on their decisions for buying a new home. Since this will be a significant, if not the biggest purchase of your life, it behooves to understand these tips for homebuyers and all of the parameters involved in purchasing a new home.
In this article, we uncover seven mistakes commonly made by new homebuyers that you can reference prior to signing on that dotted line:
In many cases when people are considering their budget prior to buying their first home, they sometimes overlook ALL expenses. It may be helpful to write down what you’re currently spending down to the penny.
Once you have a clear understanding of what is going out for things like food, entertainment, clothing, gas for your car, etc., you can obtain a higher knowledge of day-to-day living. You can then calculate how much of a mortgage is obtainable.
RELATED: How Much Home Can I Afford?
Simple daily costs are not going to go away, so it makes perfect sense to budget correctly. Many times people become unrealistic in their expectations, making it difficult.
Your mortgage is going to be your highest expenditure, but you still need to live. By creating reasonable perimeters, you’ll be a lot happier as a new home owner.
It may be helpful to write down what you’re currently spending down to the penny. Once you have a clear understanding of what is going out for things like food, entertainment, clothing, gas for your car, etc., you can obtain a higher knowledge of day-to-day living. You can then calculate how much of a mortgage is obtainable.
Simple daily costs are not going to go away, so it makes perfect sense to budget correctly. Many times people become unrealistic in their expectations, making it difficult. Your mortgage is going to be your highest expenditure, but you still need to live. By creating reasonable perimeters, you’ll be a lot happier as a new home owner.
Getting prequalified is imperative to avoid making a mistake. In most situations a realtor will redirect people looking to purchase a home prior to them working with you.
By allowing the bank to give you a realistic number to shop with, you avoid wasting valuable time. More importantly, you’ll be looking at property that is suitable for you.
RELATED: Will I Qualify For A Mortgage?
Hire a Professional
Hiring a professional is easy, hiring one that’s better may be difficult. Be sure to ask for referrals when it comes to loan officers, realtors and real estate attorneys. A professional real estate agent can be invaluable when it comes to purchasing your first home.
Don’t try to manage this type of transaction alone. It’s crucial to understand what you’re purchasing, what’s involved in the contracts and what will happen after you sign. By working with an experienced loan officer or attorney, you should be privy to any laws and ensuring your first home doesn’t have loopholes.
Think into the Future
Once you’ve become pre-qualified and start shopping think into the future. Mortgages and interest rates can change over time. It’s highly advisable to understand your loan and what changes are possible over the next 2 to 30 years. While many things are unpredictable, it’s best to prepare yourself and create a safety net if possible.
Don’t Be Overly Anxious or Picky, Do Get an Inspection
An inspection will most likely be required, while your home is in escrow. In the meantime, don’t be overly anxious to avoid jumping into the first thing you see. The other issue with being overly anxious is to change gears when you’re negotiating. Take your time but don’t be overly picky either.
Don’t Spend Entire Down Payment
Being overly picky means that you may end up with a home that needs to be fixed the way you like it. Since it’s the first home, chances are it will be one of many. If it isn’t 100% the way you pictured it, keep in mind that it’s your first home and your next will come closer.
Don’t Make Additional Purchases
Don’t spend your entire down payment on the ‘down payment’. That being said, remember there will be extra expenses that will pop up and you’ll need at least petty cash laying around to cover them.
This last part is HUGE! While you’re in escrow, your loan officer or your realtor may advise not to go out and get a line of credit for ANYTHING! This is really important because the last thing you want is the bank to turn you down for suspicious activity. Don’t run out and charge a line of credit to buy new furniture or get a new car. It’s super smart to lay low while the banks do their thing.
By following these simple tips you’ll be a lot happier and the chance for buyer remorse won’t kick in. Keep all your receipts and documents in one safe place for easy to reference materials, in case you need it. It’s the little things that will help in the long run to lessen your chances of making a valuable mistake later on that count.
For more information on buying a home, contact our Jersey Shore real estate experts for answers.
Are you a fresh first time homebuyer with some advice? Share your stories on the Patrick Parker Realty Facebook Page, Twitter Feed or on LinkedIn. Plus don’t forget to subscribe to the monthly Patrick Parker Realty email newsletter for articles like this one delivered straight to your inbox.
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