Archive for Investment

Dec
17

Phoenix: 4 Smarter Ways to Sell Your Home Online

Posted by: | Comments Comments Off on Phoenix: 4 Smarter Ways to Sell Your Home Online

The Internet has a wealth of tools to help you sell your home, from social media to targeted advertising. The trick is using them correctly.

By Melinda Fulmer of MSN Real Estate

© Simon Potter/Cultura/Getty Images

With a lot fewer homebuyers trolling the market, sellers need to make sure that their homes are getting out in front of the most promising prospects.

Whether the home being sold is a suburban rancher perfect for young families or a move-in ready condo for single urban professionals, a wealth of high-tech tools is available to help sellers target the most likely buyers. Unfortunately, tech experts say, most people are misusing them.

“Fifty percent of the people who are using social media (to sell real estate) are doing it wrong,” says Michael McClure, president and CEO of Professional One Real Estate in Plymouth, Mich., and a frequent guest lecturer on real estate and technology. (Bing: Top social media blunders)

Rather than developing relationships with potential buyers in places where they hang out online, such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, most agents are simply slapping up electronic listings and hoping buyers take the bait. That strategy can backfire, turning potential buyers off and away from what looks like spam.

“There’s a culture (in social media) built up around the ostracizing of people who do that,” McClure says. “People will say, ‘We need to unfollow (or unsubscribe from) that person immediately.'”

Owners have a bit more leeway than agents in promoting a home online. But, regardless, McClure says, nine of every 10 pieces of communication on Facebook or Twitter should be something other than a sales pitch.

It’s not about selling, he says. It’s about “engaging and relating” with the people who have a good shot at buying what you have to sell.

  1. 1.   Target your marketing
    While you can’t target specific groups of buyers in the text of your marketing appeal without risking charges of discrimination, you can draw attention to your home in the places where its most appreciative would-be buyers hang out.

A home’s seller can say things on Twitter that might attract the right buyer, such as “#architecture buffs should check this one out” or “my #kids were crazy about this yard.”

If you have an amazing view or the world’s largest walk-in closet, you can tweet about that, too.

“Can you believe the size of this #closet?” the post could read, with a link to photos on your agent’s site.

It’s best to stick with promoting a home’s unique features and simply put the message in places where the buyers you are targeting can’t miss it, such as ethnic, religious or school-related groups or local parenting pages. Likewise, owners of horse property or lakefront homes could try hitting up fishing or equestrian blogs and message boards.

Slide show:  7 tips for first-time sellers

Whomever you’re targeting, experts say, there’s a way to reach them without explicitly singling them out in your listing.

2. Harness the new breed of advertising
One of the most focused ways to target certain buyers without risk of discrimination is through Facebook ads, McClure says.

Even if you can’t advertise that your home is perfect for people without kids, young hipsters or gay and lesbian couples, you can silently target these groups with keywords in the social network’s advertising. You can be even more selective by placing ads in front of Facebook users by age, employers and even ZIP codes to get the most bang for your online buck.

And that means you can call out incentives that may matter most to the groups you are searching for, offering help with closing costs to first-time buyers, proximity to public transportation for young professionals or home warranties for empty nesters.

“I think most people don’t know that this technology is there, but the learning curve (to do it) takes 30 seconds,” McClure says.

He says he finds it much more effective than glossy real-estate magazines and newspaper ads, after spending two decades using those without success. “I’d be willing to bet that digital return on investment (ROI) is 100 to 1,000 times greater” than print, he says.

Digital media also allow you to reach potential buyers who may be relocating, or investors scouring your area for properties, says Ben Kinney, an agent with Keller-Williams in Bellingham, Wash. “It’s important that you do things to market your home to people outside your physical area,” Kinney says. “Consumers might want to think twice about hiring the agent who spends their money on print because they are not keeping up with the market.”

Indeed, Kinney says, you’re better off saving your money and posting your home’s listing on Craigslist as long as you’re willing to update your listing every 48 hours from the day you list until the day you sell.

Many real-estate experts also recommend advertising on the nation’s big real-estate search engines such as Realtor.com, Zillow and Trulia, so your home pops up at the top of the search page, rather than on page 15, by which point many potential buyers have stopped looking.

It’s all about being in a high-profile position on the sites that buyers frequent most.

“You have to go where your audience is,” agrees Sara Bonert, director of broker services for Zillow.com.

Sue Adler, a Keller-Williams agent in the Short Hills area of New Jersey, advertises on search engine Google using keywords including the handful of bedroom communities just outside Manhattan in which she works. She’s also hired someone to do search engine optimization of her site, so it and her listings are at the top of search results – paid and unpaid — and top of mind for those looking.  

 “Anybody can stick a house in the (multiple listing service). The whole key is to get the right amount of exposure and get people from out of the area in,” Adler says.

3. Sell the neighborhood
One way agents are drawing in more buyers from out of the area is by promoting the selling points of the neighborhoods in which they work, as well as the listings.

Adler had a videographer put together community videos for the towns in which she works, highlighting what’s unique and wonderful about each of them, such as good schools, parks, cultural diversity or a small-town feel.

That’s how Richard Rein, a Manhattan trader, found Adler when he was looking for an agent and a home for his family within a short commute of his work.

“She had tons of information about those markets,” Rein says. “Her website had a lot of resources; it wasn’t just listings.”  

 

Ultimately, Rein bought one of the properties she had listed on her site, a $2 million custom Colonial in Chatham, N.J. The area was not the family’s first choice, but they now say they love it for its quiet streets and newer homes.

A video like this can be made for an individual home, then tagged or labeled with a neighborhood or city so it can be found on sites such as YouTube, which is starting to account for a larger share of real-estate search.

“Video is probably the most effective way to market an individual property,” McClure says. “You can syndicate a video … that says, ‘Check out my amazing view home in (your neighborhood here)”” he says. “I don’t understand why more people aren’t doing it.”

McClure suggests that agents write blog posts about an area and its news, events and issues, with a link back to a real-estate website to draw in potential buyers. Kinney uses these avenues to do giveaways – which are reposted more widely in social media – including raffles of an iPad to visitors who frequent one of his open houses.

Slide show:  6 ways to ruin your home listing

Kinney also monitors conversations on Twitter looking for buyer leads. By creating search columns for specific hashtags (or terms marked with a # symbol in front) such as #moving or specific neighborhoods such as #WestHollywood) he can reach out to prospective buyers and offer help or resources, a strategy that has resulted in sales.

Owners gearing up to put their house on the market would be wise to expand their social media presence, too, agents say. They can add friends on Facebook and followers on Twitter so they will have a built-in audience to tap when they share information about the listing and upcoming move.

4. Tap your agent’s social network
The right agent can you help you decide what and when to tweet or post to Facebook, Bonert says, including links to high-definition photos that will look better on that iPad or mobile phone that would-be buyers are clutching as they drive neighborhoods on the weekends.

Ideally, this real-estate agent will have a huge email database and Facebook and Twitter network. Even agents who don’t post listings themselves on Twitter will often retweet your post, giving it exposure to a broader network of agents and potential buyers.

It also pays to choose someone who has enough of an online presence around your neighborhood to be considered a local expert, because that will help draw more potential buyers to their site and your listing.

Seth Silverstein, a seller who works in digital marketing, chose Adler to list his Milburn, N.J., home last spring, partly because of the high traffic to her site, and partly because he kept getting referred there when he did Web searches.

“People are getting their information about real estate in a lot of ways,” Silverstein says. “Sue wasn’t relying on one or two avenues for people to find out about the listing. She was really thorough.” His house sold within its first week after getting four offers.

Of course, your agent had better stay connected and keep monitoring social media or risk losing leads that could have turned into buyers for your home.

Tiffany Hampton, an agent with Century 21 Samia Realty in southern Maine, says she and her partner picked up a buyer for a $1.1 million home when a competing agent didn’t respond to a referral left on his Facebook page.

“He set up a Facebook page but never monitored it and the lead just set on his page for three days,” Hampton says. “The person giving the lead sent a message (saying he was) disappointed. We immediately acted on it. It is a great Facebook success story.”

Comments Comments Off on Phoenix: 4 Smarter Ways to Sell Your Home Online
Aug
28

10 Steps To Cut Your Real Estate Taxes: Talking Down Your House

Posted by: | Comments Comments Off on 10 Steps To Cut Your Real Estate Taxes: Talking Down Your House

 

 More homeowners are appealing their tax assessments. Here’s what to do if you get a tax-bill shock.

 Local assessors, sometimes part-timers with little training, too often guesstimate a home’s assessed value. That number is then multiplied by the tax rate to determine your annual real estate tax bill. “Do not assume an assessor is necessarily an ‘expert.’ Assessors are often elected officials lacking any special skills,” warns the National Taxpayers Union (NTU) in a handy guide, How to Fight Property Taxes, downloadable from its website for $9.95.

What makes that bad situation even worse these days is that some state and local governments have raised real estate tax rates to compensate for falling house values and/or weak sales and income tax revenues. So a too-high home assessment becomes even more painful.

Higher tax bills, the greater information available on the Web and the growth of special low-price appeals services are all leading more folks to challenge their assessments.

Is it worth fighting? Peter Sepp, executive vice president of the NTU, estimates that 20% to 40% of those who appeal win some reduction. Billionaire Tom Golisano saved $100,000 last year by appealing the $6 million assessment of his Mendon, N.Y. estate to a state court, which cut the assessment in half. “The New York system is very unfair to taxpayers,” says Robert Jacobson, Golisano’s attorney.

You’re more likely to save hundreds than thousands, but here are nine steps to take when your next tax assessment arrives in the mail.

1. Pin down the basics

First, determine the assessment base, which is usually (but not always) stated on the bill or in an accompanying pamphlet. In some localities properties are assessed at a fraction of market value. A too-high assessment representing 80% of your home’s value might look reasonable if you wrongly assume it’s 100% of the value.

Next, determine the assessment date. Your home’s worth as of that date–not its current value–is what’s significant. Some areas have three- or five-year revaluation cycles. Your house, now worth $400,000, might show a $500,000 assessment, based on 2007 values. You can still appeal this year’s bill, but understand you’ll be fighting over what your home was worth back then, not what it is worth now. Even more confusing, some areas phase in multiyear assessments, meaning your annual assessment could–legitimately–be rising, even while your actual property value is falling. You can always appeal a current tax bill assessment, but you usually can’t go back and fight over last year’s bill.

 2. Act quickly

Deadlines and rules vary, and most are not taxpayer-friendly. You might have only 25 days after getting your assessment notice to file an appeal and then only a few days until the hearing. Meanwhile, pay your bill on time; an appeal won’t ordinarily delay the due date.

3. Get your property record

Your assessor’s office has filing cabinets (or a computer) stuffed with “tax cards” for each property. “It’s a gold mine of information,” says Richard Michaud, a real estate lawyer with Bernkopf Goodman in Boston. Even if the assessor has put information on the Web, you’ll usually get more details by visiting the assessor’s office.

Check that all information is correct, including the square footage, number of bathrooms and fireplaces, and the quality (or depreciation factor) used to value your home. If you find factual mistakes, go in for a friendly chat and ask the assessor to correct it. “Your tax assessor isn’t your enemy. He’s an official trying to do his job. Often you can work these issues out very informally,” says Michaud.

4. Be a nosy neighbor

While you’re at the assessor’s office, get your neighbors’ property tax cards if you can. Assessments are always available as public records, and often the cards are, too.

You have a good chance of reducing your tax bill with an appeal if your house is assessed for more than what similar, nearby properties sold for or are assessed for. If all the neighbors have made improvements, and you haven’t, make sure your assessment is lower. A drive-by assessor might have judged all the houses as being of equal value, unaware that only yours still has the original lime-green bathroom fixtures, no central air and a wet basement. Think like a buyer trying to talk down the price of your house.

Another resource: The real estate agent who sold you your house might put together a list of comparable property sales (not listings) for you in hopes of a future referral.

5. Use the Web

You can search for all the houses on your cul de sac on Zillow.com or Trulia.com and compare basic stats (size, number of baths) and the assessment and sales histories–a particularly useful exercise if your locality hasn’t put such data online. Warning: The value estimates on these sites tell you what you might sell your house for today and are irrelevant for your appeal. Boards can throw out the data you submit if it postdates the assessment date.

One new Web service, ValueAppeal, charges $99 (refundable if you don’t win) for online help putting together an appeal package, including up to 15 comparable property sales. Before you pay you plug in your address to see if you’re one of the 25% of folks who ValueAppeal estimates can save $300 or more a year by appealing. (If not, the service won’t take your money, giving it an 80% success rate, claims founder Charles Walsh.)

6. Consider hiring a pro

If you’re not intimidated by local bureaucrats, you can argue the initial appeal yourself (typically in front of a local board). At the other extreme, if big dollars are at stake or you fight all the way up to court, you’ll likely need a lawyer.

In between are various services that file a large number of appeals. Some don’t require any payment up front from you; instead they collect a share (usually 50%) of the first year’s reduction in taxes. That’s not a bad deal if the assessment will affect your bill for three or more years.

Or you could find a local pro who specializes in your area and knows the detailed (and possibly quirky) criteria that affect assessments there. “The system is nuts,” says Sheila Anderson, who does appeals in Florida for residential and commercial clients. “If you don’t know what’s in the pages and pages of criteria that affect how you are assessed, you could be blindsided,” she adds.

7. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot

If the facts don’t support your case, an appeal could actually lead to a higher valuation of your property. Perhaps the assessor has listed your lot as larger than it is but missed your addition. Be aware that an appeals board will likely ask what improvements you’ve made to the property, whether or not you ever filed for a building permit. You’ll be under oath when you answer.

8. Search out exemptions

You might also get your tax bill reduced by finding an exemption you qualify for and aren’t getting, such as a homestead exemption for a principal residence. Also common are exemptions for low-income seniors and veterans. Marc Soss, a tax lawyer in Sarasota, Fla., returned from service in Afghanistan and found he was eligible for a one-time $1,500 combat rebate on his real estate taxes. Separately he filled out an application, as a disabled vet, to get $5,000 chopped off his assessment, translating to $70 a year in savings. “Most people are completely unaware of these breaks,” says Soss.

9. Work to reform the system

After a partial victory knocking $400 off the annual tax bill on her family’s one-story stucco Odessa, Fla. home, Sara Cucchi, a former industrial engineer and now stay-at-home mom, is applying to be on her county’s appeals board. “I want the system to work the way it’s supposed to work,” she says.

If you are over 65 and live in your own home in California, check for parcel taxes on your property tax bill. You may be able to file for an exemption from such parcel taxes, typically levied by school districts.

 

Disclaimer: We are a real estate company. Please consult a legal and tax expert before using any of these strategies.

Comments Comments Off on 10 Steps To Cut Your Real Estate Taxes: Talking Down Your House
Jan
23

Three Quick Ways to Improve Your Credit

Posted by: | Comments Comments Off on Three Quick Ways to Improve Your Credit

 

Yes, there are ways to improve your credit but before you do, please ask the opinion of your financial adviser.These tips come from a local company, Andorra Credit Repair. If you want more information on how to improve your credit, log on to www.AndorraCreditRepair.com

 

  • FICO, Who Cares…? A poor FICO score means paying higher interest rates on everything from mortgage rates, auto financing to department store credit cards. It's all in the numbers. Over thirty years on a $150,000 mortgage, you will save an extra $70,000 by paying an extra 2% on your mortgage. That's almost $200 per month for thirty years!

 

  •  Did you know… The three major credit bureaus have no responsibility of verifying any information that goes o to your credit report. That's right! Inaccurate, erroneous and unverifiable items can be added without your knowledge. Contact the credit bureau if this should happen to you.

 

  • Is it a good idea to pay off old Collections and Charged Off accounts?
    If you pay off a Collection account that has been on the credit report for 5 years (it will fall off by itself in two years whether you pay it or not) you will update the DLA (date of last activity) and it will stay on your credit for an additional 7 years. This generally will lower your credit score for the short term.
    However, if you pay off a Collection or Charge Off account that is 12-24 months old you can dramatically improve the credit score.

For any real estate questions, please contact us at 602.687.9933 or Info@MetroRealtyphx.com .

 

Jan
11

NACA:Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America: Reducing your Mortgage Payment

Posted by: | Comments Comments Off on NACA:Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America: Reducing your Mortgage Payment

 

A couple of people that we know have had success with this program. It may not be for everyone. With any program like this, please seek the advise of your financial planner, attorney, or other professional having to do with these kinds of matters.

 

From their website: www.naca.com

Click here for their video

The Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America ("NACA") is a non-profit, community advocacy and homeownership organization. NACA’s primary goal is to build strong, healthy neighborhoods in urban and rural areas nationwide through affordable homeownership. NACA has made the dream of homeownership a reality for thousands of working people by counseling them honestly and effectively, enabling even those with poor credit to purchase a home or refinance a predatory loan with far better terms than those provided even in the prime market.

Investing in working people

The NACA homeownership program is our answer to the huge subprime and predatory lending industry. NACA has conclusively shown that when working people get the benefit of a prime rate loan, they can resolve their financial problems, make their mortgage payments and become prime borrowers. NACA’s track record of helping people who have credit problems become homeowners or refinance out of a predatory loan debunks the myth that high rates and fees are necessary to compensate for their "credit risk."

Started in 1988, NACA has a tremendous track record of successful advocacy against predatory and discriminatory lenders as well as providing the best mortgage program in America with $10 billion in funding commitments. NACA is the largest housing services organization in the country and is rapidly expanding by growing its existing 30+ offices, headquartered in Boston, MA, opening many new offices nationwide, and expanding the services it offers its membership. NACA’s confrontational community organizing and unprecedented mortgage program have set the national standard for assisting low- and moderate-income people to achieve the dream of homeownership.

NACA – America’s Best Mortgage Program
The incredible NACA mortgage allows NACA Members to purchase or refinance homes with:

  • no down payment,
  • no closing costs,
  • no fees,
  • no requirement for perfect credit,
  • and at a below-market interest rate.

 

 

Everyone gets the same incredible terms, including the below-market interest rate, regardless of their credit score or other factors. NACA also provides free, comprehensive housing services. NACA counsels Members into the extraordinary NACA mortgage using character-based lending criteria that takes each Member’s circumstances into account to determine whether they are ready for homeownership and what they can afford. This is in contrast to risk-based pricing where people are often given loans they cannot afford while brokers and others make tremendous fees and profits.

Property renovation and foreclosure prevention
NACA also provides property renovation assistance and Membership Assistance for NACA homeowners. NACA’s Home and Neighborhood Development ("HAND") Department addresses repair issues, and where appropriate provides rehab assistance throughout the renovation process. NACA’s Membership Assistance Program (MAP) provides comprehensive counseling for Members who are delinquent on their home payments, including establishing payment agreements and providing financial assistance to help Members avoid foreclosure.

Innovative technology
The NACA program has developed state-of-the-art mortgage software for web-based counseling, processing and underwriting., called "NACA Lynx", which is the envy of the mortgage industry. This is a paperless system that allows for character lending, loan processing and underwriting to be done on a very large scale.

Powerful national advocacy
NACA has revolutionized mortgage lending with its mortgage services and advocacy. NACA’s organizing department continues the aggressive advocacy against predatory lenders and the fight for economic justice. NACA is a high-profile organization, with its program and advocacy featured in the national media, including the Wall Street Journal, Prime Time Live, Boston Globe, Washington Post, major news outlets, and local networks nationwide.

NACA’s committed staff and contacting NACA

Our staff of hundreds of dedicated staff is committed to working with you to access this incredible mortgage product and to advocate for strong neighborhoods and economic justice. We are always looking for qualified staff—see our current job listings for details. To keep updated on NACA services, campaigns, and relevant legislative happenings, sign up by clicking Contact Us.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MXsYLZEsmx0 NACA\'s History

 

Comments Comments Off on NACA:Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America: Reducing your Mortgage Payment
Dec
15

The Hottest Remodeling Trends for 2011

Posted by: | Comments Comments Off on The Hottest Remodeling Trends for 2011

You'll get the most out of your dollar by keeping an eye on what shows up in high-end homes. It’s the difference between Harvest Gold and rich wood.

 If you want to get the maximum value from your remodel when you sell your home, you need to pay attention to trends. But not just today's fads: what's more important is what will be hot when it's time to put your house on the market.

Home improvements, after all, start to date the moment they're completed. How fast their value slides may depend on your ability to forecast what will appeal to future buyers.

Guess right, and the remodel you do today can look almost as cutting edge five or even 10 years from now. Guess wrong, and you've just spent thousands on the avocado green, shag-carpeted, conversation pit turn-off of the future.

To navigate this minefield, keep in mind the following:

High-end homes drive the remodeling market. About 90% of the growth in remodeling industry over the last decade was, according to Harvard University's Joint Center for Housing Studies, fueled by high-end homeowners (defined as those with houses worth $400,000 or more in 2003 dollars).

The trends hatched in this market tend to percolate down to the middle market, said remodeling expert Jim Lapides of the National Association of Home Builders' Remodelors Council, and eventually are incorporated into the new-home market.

So, if you want to know what will be in vogue in your neighborhood five years out, tour some open houses in more affluent communities to see what's happening there now.

Boomers are big, but GenXers are growing. Boomers own more of the housing stock and spend more on remodeling than other groups. But the cohort just behind them — those born from 1965 to 1974 – is coming on fast, according to Harvard's housing center.

While aging boomers may be looking to downsize and make their lives easier, midlife GenXers might be looking for more space to handle growing families. If you want your house to appeal to the largest number of buyers, you may have to think about features that appeal to both groups.

 Durability is key. Investing in quality materials can pay off if they hold up well over the years, said interior designer Juliana Catlin, past president of the American Society of Interior Designers and owner of Catlin Interiors in Jacksonville, Fla.

A cheap surface might show so many gouges and dings after five years that a buyer will insist you pay for replacing it, while a well chosen stone or tile surface could still be adding value a decade from now.

 

Consider the next buyer. One of the big trends in remodeling, particularly among GenXers, is making a personal statement, said Joan Stephens, chairman of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry and owner of Stronghold Remodeling in Boise, Idaho.

These homeowners don't want their kitchens or baths to look like anyone else's; they might invest big bucks in, say, custom glass-tile designs or bold-colored countertops.

But Catlin worries these personal statements will date quickly and alienate future buyers."You have to think how it's going to translate for the next owners," Catlin said. "You may love your dark green countertop, but the next owner's favorite color could be yellow."

That's why Catlin advises homeowners who care about resale to choose more neutral colors for floors, countertops and other hard surfaces, using easily changeable paint and accessories to infuse personality.

Catlin also cautions against structural changes that can permanently devalue your home, like eliminating a bedroom or removing a tub from a bathroom (thus converting it from an all-important "full" bath to a three-quarters version).

 Another tip: make your remodel more timeless by matching it to the style of your home. "A cottage-style home looks better with a cottage-style kitchen," Catlin said. "A Mediterranean kitchen looks better in a Mediterranean home."

Be particularly cautious of any remodel that's a sharp contrast; an ultra-modern kitchen can look great if the rest of your house is sleek and uncluttered, but can look like a space ship landed if the rest of your home is shabby chic.

 In the kitchen

Highly polished granite and stainless steel were the hot trends in the 1990s — so much so that now there's a backlash among high-end homeowners. Instead of gleam, remodelers are going for warmth, Stephens said Color is hot right now, as in bright-red enameled stoves. But color trends are tricky to navigate, so a more conservative but still trendy choice might be panels that help refrigerators and dishwashers blend in with the cabinetry.

Higher-end appliances are also in big demand, Lapides said. Remodelers may not spend $6,000 on commercial-grade appliances, but they certainly want an upgrade from the entry level.

Stone countertops are still popular of course, but more homeowners are becoming wary of the drawbacks, said Vince Butler, chairman of the Remodelors Council. (Granite and other natural stones can be permanently stained by cooking oils and etched by common cleaners.) Butler said he is installing more synthetic or engineered stone countertops and seeing renewed interest in "solid surfaces" like Corian.

 "It may not have the eye appeal [of granite] but I think as people live with it, it may be easier to take care of," Butler said.

 Some, though, wonder if the monster/gourmet kitchen trend might begin to peter out, particularly among homes designed to appeal to older boomers.

"I think in the future people are going to be tired of cooking," said syndicated columnist and former builder Tim Carter, whose AsktheBuilder.com site focuses on remodeling as well as new construction issues.

 "It doesn't make much sense to invest $100,000 in a (kitchen remodel) if you don't cook that much."

 For the frugal: The good news is that minor kitchen remodels actually seem to pay off better at resale time than major redos, at least according to Remodeling Magazine's annual Cost vs. Value survey.

 Someone who spent an average $14,913 refacing cabinets, replacing laminate countertops and installing new cooktop, oven and sink in 2005 would recoup an estimated 98.5% of the cost on average if the home sold within a year, whereas someone who spent $81,552 on an upscale, tear-everything-outand- replace-it remodel would recoup 84.8% on average.

The bath

Utilitarian is out. Think spa — as in lots of space, big soaking or whirlpool tubs, multiple shower heads or even steam attachments in the shower. Dual sinks are a given in master baths, and luxuries like heated floors and towel warmers are popular with upscale renovators. Many renovators are putting the toilet in a separate room or partitioned area.

Remodelers are also shelling out, big time, for custom tile, said Butler, who runs Butler Bros. remodeling company in Clifton, Va.

 "It's the place where people are really expressing themselves," he said. "We've seen some master bathrooms where they spent $20,000 just on tile, and these are not extremely expensive homes. These are middle-class homes."

Be careful about going overboard if your primary goal is boosting resale value, however. The remodeling survey found a midrange remodel costing $10,499 would recoup 102.2% of its cost if the house sold within a year, while a more-elaborate $26,052 renovation would bring back 93.2%.

For the frugal: Adding multiple shower heads to a shower typically costs just a few hundred dollars, making it one of the most economical ways to add a spa feel. Also, try to avoid moving fixtures, since that can add enormously to a project's cost.

Underfoot

Wood floors are still desirable, with bamboo becoming more popular. Tile is still a good choice for kitchens and baths, although concrete is being used more often (either stained or just sealed). In addition, high-end linoleum — which sounds like an oxymoron, but isn't — is being used in more fashionable homes.

 For the frugal: Laminate flooring designed to look like wood can be less expensive and more durable than the real thing, but choose carefully: some of the products can look kind of cheesy, Carlin warned. If you have the real thing hiding under carpeting or other flooring, spring for refinishing to add real value to your home.

 Accessibility

Contractors polled by the National Association of Home Builders said universal design — making homes more accessible for the elderly and disabled — would be one of the top future trends in remodeling (second only to the ever-rising cost of labor).

 Since most folks want to "age in place," making sure they can get around their homes as they age will be increasingly important.

 Of course, baby boomers don't want to be reminded they're getting old, so one way to tout accessible design is to point out how their parents can benefit when they visit.

"When you're selling to that demographic, you kind of skirt the issue," Stephens said.

Fortunately, most aspects of universal design involve fairly subtle changes that add little if any cost to a remodeling project.

 Wider hallways and doorways, for example, are aesthetically pleasing as well as more functional when you're maneuvering a wheelchair, walker or even a big piece of furniture. (Ever try to get a king-sized bed or monster couch through a narrow door?)

Step-in showers, with no lip or tub wall separating them from the rest of the bathroom, can add to that spa feeling, while the extra lighting that can help aged eyes also makes the house feel brighter and more desirable.

 For the frugal: Again, universal design can be incorporated into virtually any remodel. Or you can tackle projects one by one, such as replacing regular doorknobs with lever-style handles, removing thresholds between rooms and adding better lighting.

 Floor plans

Open is still in and likely to remain so for the foreseeable future, design experts agree. Cooks don't want to be isolated in the kitchen, and open floor plans make even smaller homes feel roomier.

By contrast, the value of additions appears to be waning, at least according to the survey, which showed most projects that added square footage didn't pay off as well as other remodels. Carter, for one, expects that trend to continue if energy prices remain high.

 "The cost to heat and cool a home in the future is going to be staggering," Carter predicted. "If we don't have any major improvements in insulation, the only way you're going to save money on heating and cooling is by having a smaller home."

 For the frugal: Knocking down a few walls costs a lot less than adding square footage. If you're a do-it-yourselfer, though, make sure you're not destroying load-bearing walls.

Bonus rooms

Carter thinks retired baby boomers are going to want workshops and hobby rooms to pursue their leisure-time passions.

 Lapides suggests that "Costco rooms" may be on the rise, as homeowners look for ways to store "all the 10-pound bags of pretzels they bought at Costco." The extra storage might be incorporated into a space that also serves as the laundry and mud rooms, Lapides said.

 In fact, incorporating more storage throughout the house is likely to pay off, since our propensity to acquire stuff is unlikely to abate in the next decade.

 Catlin also sees more houses incorporating home offices, which traditionally haven't added as much value as other remodeling projects. One solution is to build the office into the closet of a guest room, so later occupants have the flexibility to use the space the way they want.

 For the frugal: You probably won't want to build rooms devoted to a single use, but adding shelves or cabinets can be an inexpensive way to increase a room's functionality.

 

The high-tech home

Movies, video games and other content increasingly will be delivered via broadband, so Carter recommends installing conduit that can help future electricians run wires from wherever the cable or satellite enters to your house to the rooms where you have your computers and entertainment centers.

 He also likes the idea of "electronics closets" to house all the home entertainment gear and minimize visual clutter. Sensors can be built into the wall above the TV screen to transmit your remote controls' signals to the gear in the closet.

 Another wiring project that's hot, Stephens said, involves putting speakers throughout the house as well as outside.

 For the frugal: Adding speaker wire is an inexpensive, if potentially messy, do-it-yourself job since you likely will be running wires through attics and crawlspaces. Adding conduit is cheap if you've already got walls torn open for other projects; otherwise, hold off.

 Have fun with your remodeling projects!

Nov
17

Home Prices Expected to Dip in December

Posted by: | Comments (1)

House Prices Dip in December, Up Again in January

According to the Arizona Regional Multiple Listing Service, Metro Phoenix home prices should hold steady for the rest of November but take a dip in December.

The region's median home price is projected to be $120,000 this month and then slip to $117,000 next month. These figures are based on the home sales under contract and tracked by the ARMLS Pending Price Index.  If themedian price does fall, it will be a new 10 year low for the Valley and signal a double dip in prices.

Pundits predit that the median price will climb back in January to $120,00 and then drop again in February to $105,000 though many home sales for that month have not been finalized.

For any real estate questions, please contact us at Info@MetroRealtyphx.com.

 

After finding documentation problems, Wells Fargo says it's going to re-file paperwork for 55,000 foreclosures. But it's not going to issue a blanket moratorium on foreclosures.

There will probably be a temporary decrease in the number of foreclosures in the last quarter of this year. But they're go back up once the paperwork is re-filed. Wells Fargo, and all the other banks, say they're just having problems with the documentation.

Foreclosures are expected to be back up next year, for a couple of reasons. Banks are going to be re-filing their paperwork.

Those foreclosures will go through, barring any more problems with documentation. But the bigger driver behind foreclosures next year will be the fact that adjustable rate mortgages are going to adjust upward.

When you think about the fact that a lot of these borrowers were only marginally qualified to begin with and would now be faced with paying a thousand dollars more a month on a property that's lost 30, 40, 50 percent of its value since the time they bought it, it's a pretty toxic mix.

Pundits predict that foreclosures will actually peak next year. 2011 will set records for the number of foreclosures and bank repossessions of homes.

For any financial questions, refer to your lender and mortgage company. For any legal questions, consult a lawyer.

For all real estate questions, please contact us at: 602.687.9933 or Info@MetroRealtyphx.com

 

  

Okay, you have found the “perfect” home and are now ready to sign a mortgage. There are many things to consider and here are  our top three.

Tip #1: Pay more than your monthly payments.

In fact, you may be able to write two checks. One for your monthly payment and another check towards the principal. This extra money will towards paying off your remaining principal, which lowers the overall interest you will pay throughout the life of your loan. This tip and approach does not apply to interest-only type loans.

Tip #2: Avoid prepayment penalties in your contract, if you can:

 Some lenders try to stop you from paying off your mortgage early. It cuts into their profits. Do not accept a mortgage with a prepayment penalty if you can help it. The mortgage company may attach a fee to your mortgage if you pay it early.

Tip # 3: Understand Points:

Remember, lenders offer lower interest rates on mortgages at times with points attached. It is a kind of exchange. Points or origination costs are a percentage of of your total loan and must be paid “typically” up front. For example, a mortgage with three points means that you have to pay 3% of the total mortgage up front to your lender. In most cases, the costs of paying more up front outweighs the benefits.

If you are going to live in your home for a long time (15 + years) and are  not going to refinance, you may want to consider this option.

Please ask the advice of your lender or mortgage company before entering into a contract. This information is our opinion only and should be regarded as such.

For any real estate questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at Info@MetroRealtyphx.com or 602.687.9933.

Wow! The mortgage rates are the lowest I have ever seen. If you are in the market for a property, now would be the time to buy but… be very careful and cautious when obtaining a mortgage. There may be hidden costs in the mortgage you obtain. Read the fine print and look at the APR.

What is the APR? The APR, the annual percentage rate, by  law, includes all cost in a single rate. This rate avoids all of the confusion with the various charges that may be accrued.

If you see one 30 year fixed rate with an APR of 7% and another with an APR of 7.5%, you can feel confident that the one with the lower APR has the lower rate.

Please ask your lender for all mortgage advise. For real estate information, please contact us at Info@MetroRealtyphx.com or 602. 687.9933.

Making a decision on the term of your mortgage is always very difficult. I have tried to simplify the information for you below.

Longer Mortgage Terms: The length of the mortgage affects both the total cost of the mortgage and the size of the monthly payments. You will pay more for your property overall but longer mortgage terms have lower monthly payments.

Shorter Mortgage Terms: These terms generate less total interest over time so that you will pay less for your property overall than a longer term mortgage.

Here is an example of the differences in mortgage terms. The example below is not exact. Please check with your mortgage professional for any questions you may have.

Mortgage Term                   Monthly Payment             Total Cost
15 year                                           $1,687.73                               $303, 787.81
30 year                                          $ 1,199.15                               $431,676.25

Which Term Should you Choose?

This is a very personal decision and you will have to analyze your particular financial situation. If you choose the shorter term, you will pay less overall but you would have to decide if you could handle the payments.  If you cannot, a longer term might be the solution for  you.

For any mortgage questions, confer with your lender. For any real estate questions, contact us at Info@MetroRealtyphx.com or call 602.687.9933.