Area Real Estate News & Market Trends

You’ll find our blog to be a wealth of information, covering everything from local market statistics and home values to community happenings. That’s because we care about the community and want to help you find your place in it. Please reach out if you have any questions at all. We’d love to talk with you!

Jan. 6, 2020

EASY LANDSCAPING DIY PROJECTS

Ever get the itch to do a DIY project? Whenever we do, our favorites involve getting outdoors and

mixing up our landscaping features.

Whether it's as simple as installing some lighting or a little more time-consuming like re-plotting

plants, a fresh look for the lawn always gives your home a fresh look as well.

Here are our top five easy landscaping projects!

Create a pathway.

To guide you and visitors throughout your yard and link different areas together, install a pathway.

You can use materials from a variety of materials, including reclaimed pallet wood, flagstones,

gravel, and more to add texture and color.

Add a wall or border.

Installing a flagstone, rock, or brick wall around flower beds or trees adds a sleek, clean look

to your landscaping and helps separate different sections of your yard.

Install a water feature.

Nothing says zen quite like the sound of trickling water as you relax in your backyard.

You can start simple with by purchasing and installing a small feature powered by a solar

panel or create a larger focal point in your yard by installing a waterfall wall or small pond.

Light your way.

An easy way to transform your yard is to strategically use lighting. Place cool-colored

lights high in trees to recreate a moonlight feel, use pathway lights to naturally guide the eye,

or highlight objects or plants.

Plant upwards.

Expand your yard space by drawing the eye to the sky with a trellis fence or screen made

of wood or metal. Once you install your trellis, select your climbing plants and vines and

get to planting!

Posted in Home Life, Selling
Jan. 6, 2020

WHAT TO REPAIR BEFORE YOU LIST

When you’re getting ready to list your home, it’s of the upmost importance to ensure you

are showing it in the best light. Taking time to highlight its strengths and fix up some of its

possible weaknesses can make a big difference in how fast it sells.

Here are our top five recommended repairs to make before selling your home.

Repaint walls.

Giving your home a fresh coat of paint is one of the most cost-effective ways to spruce it

up, and generally, it can be a do-it-yourself project. Make sure cover any walls with scratches

and chips and consider updating any accent walls with a more neutral coat.

Repair floors.

Hardwood floors are a very desirable feature in a home, so you want to ensure they look

their best by fixing scratches or dull areas. If your carpet is worn or stained, consider replacing

them. And don’t forget the tile in your kitchen or bathrooms. Re-grouting can go a long way

in making dingy tile work look brand new!

Refresh the landscaping.

Show buyers your home is the full package by dressing up the outside as well as the in.

Clean walkways and driveways, plant seasonal flowers and plants, trim hedges and trees,

install outdoor décor pieces and fill in mulch and gravel.

Fix your fixtures.

Leaky faucet? Rusted drains? Loose drawer handle? Making these small fixes can make

a big difference to potential buyers with detailed-orientated minds. Improve your kitchen.

An outdated kitchen can be a real eyesore in a home. Updating cabinetry, repairing or

replacing countertops, and installing new faucets and sinks may be worth the investment

 

Posted in Selling
Jan. 6, 2020

ORGANIC FOOD ON A BUDGET

Organic food usually tastes better, and is better for you, but it can also be very expensive

compared to non-organic products. Organic food can cost nearly 50 percent more, thanks to

the extra labor required to produce it and consumers’ demand exceeding supply.

So how do you get tasty organic food without spending a ton of extra money?

Follow these tips to get more bang for your buck.

Shop at farmers’ markets: You can get fresh organic produce for far less at a farmers’

market than you’d pay at the grocery store. It’ll taste just as good, and you’re getting your

food straight from the source.

Choose seasonal produce: Out-of-season produce usually has to be imported, and that

can really drive up the price. Focus your meals on in-season fruits and vegetables so that

you don’t end up paying $6.00 for a pound of organic asparagus.

Shop more frequently, and plan your meals around bulk sales: 

The trick here is to only buy what’s needed for your meals, and to only plan for a week

of meals at most. That way you’re less likely to throw food away, because you can use

leftover produce for more meals before it goes bad.

Grow your own: A home vegetable garden will provide some extremely cheap organic

produce, and gardening can also be a fun and rewarding hobby.

Posted in Home Life
Jan. 6, 2020

SHORT SALE AND FORECLOSURE: HOW ARE THEY DIFFERENT?

As unfortunate as it can be when homeowners fall behind on mortgage payments and must

face the possibility of losing their homes, short sales and foreclosures provide them options

for moving on financially. The terms are often used interchangeably, but they’re actually quite

different, with varying timelines and financial impact on the homeowner.

Here’s a brief overview.

A short sale comes into play when a homeowner needs to sell their home but the home is

worth less than the remaining balance that they owe. The lender can allow the homeowner

to sell the home for less than the amount owed, freeing the homeowner from the financial

predicament.

On the buyer side, short sales typically take three to four months to complete and many of

the closing and repair costs are shifted from the seller to the lender.

On the other hand, a foreclosure occurs when a homeowner can no longer make payments

on their home so the bank begins the process of repossessing it. A foreclosure usually moves

much faster than a short sale and is more financially damaging to the homeowner.

After foreclosure the bank can sell the home in a foreclosure auction.

For buyers, foreclosures are riskier than short sales, because homes are often bought sight

unseen, with no inspection or warranty.

Jan. 6, 2020

DISPELLING REFINANCING MYTHS

“Refinancing” is a scary word for many people, but that shouldn’t be the case for you.

For many homeowners, refinancing can not only lower your monthly payments and help

with your monthly budget, but it can save you thousands of dollars in the long run.

YOU’RE NOT TOO LATE.

For years now, we’ve been hearing that interest rates will be on the rise, and although

there have been some small increases, you’re still in a great position to drastically lower

your interest rate. The general rule is if your mortgage interest rate is more than one percent

above the current market rate, you should consider refinancing.

IT’S NOT TOO TIME CONSUMING.

Don’t brush off refinancing just because it seems like a long and daunting process.

An informational call with a lender to see how rates compare will only take a few minutes.

There are also some programs for streamlining the application process. And besides, isn’t

the amount of money you could save worth the time and effort?

ARMS CAN BE REFINANCED, TOO.

Seeing your Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM) increase after the introductory period can

be incredibly stressful and place a squeeze on your budget. Many people assume they’re

stuck, but ARMs can be refinanced, just like fixed-rate mortgages. You can even switch

to a shorter term fixed-rate mortgage, such as 15 or 23 years. The longer you’re planning

to stay in the home, the more sense it makes to look into refinancing.

Posted in Financing
Jan. 6, 2020

UPSIZING YOUR HOME

Unfortunately, our homes don’t always grow with us. What may have initially worked fine

for a single person, a young couple’s starter home, or a family with a newborn can quickly

become too small as families expand and multiple generations live under one roof.

Remodeling and adding to your home is one option for creating more space, but it can be costly,

and the size of your property may be prohibitive. That’s when moving to a bigger home

becomes the best solution.

WHERE DO YOU NEED MORE SPACE?

The first thought when upsizing your home is to simply consider square footage,

bedrooms, and bathrooms. But it’s important to take a more critical approach to how

your space will actually be used. If you have younger children (or possibly more on the way),

then focusing on bedrooms and bathrooms makes sense. But if your children are closer to

heading off to college or starting their own families, it may be better to prioritize group

spaces like the kitchen, dining room, living room, and outdoor space—it’ll pay off during

the holidays or summer vacations, when everyone is coming to visit for big gatherings.

MOVING OUTWARD

If you need more space, but don’t necessarily want a more expensive home, you can

probably get a lot more house for your money if you move a little further from a city center.

While the walkability and short commutes of a dense neighborhood or condo are hard to leave

beyond, your lifestyle—and preferences for hosting Thanksgiving, barbecues, and

birthdays—might mean that a spacious home in the suburbs makes the most sense. It’s your

best option for upsizing while avoiding a heftier price tag.

Posted in The Buying Process
Jan. 6, 2020

WHICH DOWN PAYMENT STRATEGY IS RIGHT FOR YOU?

You’ve most likely heard the rule: Save for a 20-percent down payment before you buy a home.

The logic behind saving 20 percent is solid, as it shows that you have the financial discipline

and stability to save for a long-term goal. It also helps you get favorable rates from lenders.

But there can actually be financial benefits to putting down a small down payment—as low

as three percent—rather than parting with so much cash up front, even if you have the money

available.

THE DOWNSIDE

The downsides of a small down payment are pretty well known. You’ll have to pay

Private Mortgage Insurance for years, and the lower your down payment, the more you’ll pay.

You’ll also be offered a lesser loan amount than borrowers who have a 20-percent down payment,

which will eliminate some homes from your search.

THE UPSIDE

The national average for home appreciation is about five percent. The appreciation is independent

from your home payment, so whether you put down 20 percent or three percent, the increase

in equity is the same. If you’re looking at your home as an investment, putting down a smaller

amount can lead to a higher return on investment, while also leaving more of your savings

free for home repairs, upgrades, or other investment opportunities.

THE HAPPY MEDIUM

Of course, your home payment options aren’t binary. Most borrowers can find some common

ground between the security of a traditional 20 percent and an investment-focused, small down

payment. Your trusted real estate professional can provide some answers as you explore your

financing options.

Posted in Financing
Jan. 6, 2020

YOUR GUIDE TO HOME APPRAISAL

Your Guide to the Home Appraisal

You’ve found your dream home and now it’s time to cross all your T's and dot all your I's

before it’s all your own. And one of the first items on your closing checklist the home appraisal.

So, what exactly is that?

The home appraisal is essentially a value assessment of the home and property. It is conducted

by a certified third party and is used to determine whether the home is priced appropriately.

During a home appraisal, the appraiser conducts a complete visual inspection of the interior

and exterior of the home. He or she factors in a variety of things, including the home’s

floor plan functionality, condition, location, school district, fixtures, lot size, and more.

An upward adjustment is generally made if the home has a deck, a view, or a large yard.

The appraiser will also compare the home to several similar homes that were sold within

the last six months in the area.

The final report must include a street map showing the property and the ones’ compared,

photographs of the interior and exterior, an explanation on how the square footage was

calculated, market sales data, public land records, and more.

After it is complete, the lender uses the information found to ensure that the property is

worth the amount they are investing. This is a safe-guard for the lender as the home acts

as collateral for the mortgage. If the buyer defaults on the mortgage and goes into

foreclosure, the lender generally sells the home to recover the money borrowed.

Posted in The Buying Process
Jan. 6, 2020

TOWNHOUSE VS. CONDO: WHICH SHOULD YOU BUY?

TOWNHOUSE VS. CONDO: WHICH SHOULD YOU BUY?

Whether it’s your first time buying or you just want to purchase something smaller, townhouses

and condos are both great options. Check out the differences between the two to help aid you

in your search!

Condominiums

Condominiums are similar to apartments in that you purchase an individual unit inside of

a larger building, but not the property it sits on. This generally includes access to the

building’s amenities, such as the clubhouse, pool, and gym. However, condo owners are

not responsible for the upkeep and repair of these common areas. Because of the number

of shared spaces, living in a condo often allows for meeting new people and building a

strong sense of community. There is a fairly similar vetting process for loan approval as

for a full-sized home; however, the lender will also look at the health of the condo

association.

Townhouses

Those who purchase a townhome are generally purchasing the complete unit, both inside

and out, including the land it sits on. This might also include the driveway, yard, or roof.

Traditionally, these units are two- or three-stories tall and may also include common areas

like pools and parks. Townhome owners pay a fee to a homeowners association every month

and the loan process is the same as buying a full-sized home.

Which is the best choice?

Both townhomes and condos offer less maintenance than a traditional home and generally

offer great shared areas. Your decision ultimately comes down to you and your family’s needs

and wants. Things you’ll want to take into consideration include location, lifestyle, family

growth, and price.

Posted in Condos & Townhomes
Jan. 6, 2020

PRIORITY TASKS FOR YOUR MOVE IN

 

Moving into a new home is an exciting time, and you’re probably daydreaming about decor

and paint schemes and new furniture. But before you get into the fun stuff, there are some

basics you should cover first.

Change the locks

Even if you’re promised that new locks have been installed in your home, you can never

be too careful. It’s worth the money to have the peace of mind that comes with knowing

that no one else has the keys to your home. Changing the locks can be a DIY project, or

you can call in a locksmith for a little extra money.

Steam clean the carpets

It’s good to get a fresh start with your floors before you start decorating. The previous

owners may have had pets, young children, or just some plain old clumsiness. Take the

time to steam clean the carpets so that your floors are free of stains and allergens. It’s

pretty easy and affordable to rent a steam cleaner—your local grocery store may have

them available.

Call an exterminator

Prior to move-in, you probably haven’t spent enough time in the house to get a view of any

pests that may be lurking. Call an exterminator to take care of any mice, insects, and other

critters that may be hiding in your home.

Clean out the kitchen

If the previous occupants wanted to skip on some of their cleaning duties when they

moved out, the kitchen is where they probably cut corners. Wipe down the inside of cabinets,

clean out the refrigerator, clean the oven, and clean in the nooks and crannies underneath the

appliances.

Posted in Moving