Animal-related considerations play a role in determining living situations

When It Comes to Homeownership Decisions, Pets Rule

RISMEDIA, Wednesday, March 22, 2017— Editor’s Note: This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin’ now at blog.rismedia.com:

A lot goes into the decision to buy, sell or remodel a home. After all, this is one of the most significant investments of your lifetime, so there are a lot of factors to be weighed and considered…including how happy your pet will be.

Yes, you read that right. In fact, 81 percent of respondents to a recent report from the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) reported that animal-related considerations play a role in determining their next living situations. In 2016, 61 percent of U.S. households either had a pet or planned to get one in the future, so it stands to reason that our animal companions will play a significant role in our housing decisions for the foreseeable future.

According to NAR’s 2017 Animal House: Remodeling Impact report, 99 percent of pet owners said they consider their animal part of the family, and 89 percent of those surveyed said they would not give up their animal because of housing restrictions or limitations. In fact, 12 percent of pet owners have actually moved in order to accommodate their furry, finned or feathered family member, and 19 percent said they would consider moving to accommodate their animal in the future.

No one knows the relationship between homeowners and their animal friends better than REALTORS®. Those surveyed for the report said that one-third of their pet-owning clients often or very often will refuse to make an offer on a home because it is not ideal for their pet.

Other interesting statistics from the report include:

  • 67 percent of REALTORS® say animals have a moderate to major effect on selling a home. If you’re selling your home, make sure you’ve cleaned or replaced any areas affected by pet damage or odors.
  • 52 percent of respondents said they had completed a home renovation project specifically to accommodate their pet, such as fencing in their yards, adding a doggie door or installing a pet-friendly laminate flooring.
  • 80 percent of REALTORS® consider themselves animal lovers, so you’ll have lots of support in accommodating your pet’s housing needs when buying!

Maria Patterson is RISMedia’s executive editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at maria@rismedia.com.

When Downsizing Make a Little Money in the Process!

Need to Downsize? Make a Little Money in the Process

If you’re getting ready to downsize, or are settling the estate of a loved one, you will be confronted with the often overwhelming task of getting rid of furniture and belongings. These tips from MaxSold will not only help you streamline the process, but possibly bring in some money along the way:

Decide What to Keep
The KonMari Method of decluttering from Marie Kondo offers the sage advice of keeping those items that bring you joy and that you also have room for. If an item doesn’t fall into both of these categories, set it aside in a separate room or designated nook of the house.

Don’t Go Straight to the Dump
Instead of adding to landfills, try to recover money for your unwanted items. What may be “junk” in your eyes is just the thing someone else may be looking for, whether it’s a broken-in easy chair or a box of extension cords.

Take Your Time with High-Value Items
If you’re getting rid of something that truly has value, take your time and price it right. If you post an ad online and get an instant response, you might have underpriced the item. Conversely, if you’re getting no responses, you may have priced your item too high. Auction sites—like MaxSold—might be the best option, as they encourage bidding, and therefore, a good price for your prized possession.

Avoid Storage
If you can’t get the price you think an item deserves, you may think storage is a good option while you hold out for the right price. However, this strategy usually ends up costing you more, as you pay potentially thousands for storage while your item depreciates in value. Unless you have a family member to give it to, a better financial decision is to get it sold.

Research Online Sales Sites
When looking for the right site to sell your items through, do your research. Choose a company with proven methodologies, good online reviews and a process that eliminates security risk.

Source: MaxSold

For more tips on bringing in money as you downsize, contact me today.

White Comes in Many Shades

How to Choose the Perfect Shade of White

Designers and homeowners continue to love the look of white walls for kitchens, dining rooms and living spaces, but there are hundreds of shades in the white color palette. Choosing the right one is critical to achieving the look and ambience you’re striving for.

“You’ll want to consider three key factors when choosing the perfect white,” explains Sara McLean, color expert at Dunn-Edwards. “Number one is your home’s lighting; second is where you live, and third is the architectural style.”

According to McLean, north-facing rooms don’t tend to have as much natural light, needing warmer whites to give the space some life. Warm whites are those with yellow, brown or even red undertones.

Conversely, south-facing rooms get more sunlight, so cooler whites—those with subtle gray or blue tints—can help add balance. “Be sure to paint large samples on the walls and live with them for a couple days. You’ll be able to see how the light reflects off each color at different times of the day.”

Where you live is yet another factor that has a big influence on which whites to choose for your home. Warmer whites work well in northern climates, which have cooler, bluer natural lighting. Conversely, southern climates tend to have warmer, natural lighting, so cooler whites can help create a clean, cool look.

Your home’s architectural style can also help narrow down your choice for whites. Warmer whites are ideal for traditional Spanish-style and desert ranch and Craftsman homes. Tropical designs come alive with tinted and warmer whites that reflect the natural elements in the room, such as wood and bamboo. Mid-century modern homes and Scandinavian designs tend to favor neutral and cooler whites.

Be sure to carry out your due diligence instead of just choosing any white. The differences among them may be subtle, but the variance in results is dramatic.

Source: Dunn-Edwards Paints

Contact me today for more home decorating tips and real estate information.

5 Ways to Add Spring To Your Home

5 Ways to Let Spring into Your Home

By Maria Patterson

No matter how mild or harsh your winter may have been, spring is a rite of passage that should be recognized throughout your home with elements of renewal. This will not only serve as a refresh for your living environment, but for your state of mind as well. Here are some simple yet highly effective ways to infuse spring throughout your home:

  1. Lighten up…literally. One of the best things about spring is the extension of daylight hours, so make sure to let all that extra light into your home. Trade in heavy drapes for sheer curtains and keep shades and blinds raised as often as possible. Survey your yard and trim back any trees and bushes that may be blocking the flow of light into your home.
  2. Bring spring growth indoors. Among the sweetest harbingers of spring are buds, bulbs and new green growth. Capture this inspiration indoors by forcing bulbs in a decorative pot or collecting forsythia branches in a vase to force their famous yellow blooms indoors. Cut forsythia stalks at an angle once the weather has been above freezing for a few days, but before they bloom. Place them in water right away, and watch them work their magic.
  3. Play with color. Take some of your favorite spring colors—yellow, purple, bright green, soft pink—and add them to your home décor with throw pillows, table linens, towels and pillow shams. If you’re feeling particularly ambitious, paint a wall, a set of shelves, or your cabinet doors in a spring shade.
  4. Fresh air. When the temperature permits, open your windows and let in that refreshing spring air. Even if it’s just for an hour during the warmest part of the day, the fresh air will help weed out winter mustiness and renew the air quality in your home.
  5. Spring scents. Cut or buy a bunch of lilacs or hyacinths and place them in vases around your home. Alternatively, light candles in spring-time scents to permeate your home with the scents of the season.

For more ways to infuse spring into your home, contact me today.

Personalize Your Home With These 5 Tips

5 Ways to Make a Personal Statement at Home

By Maria Patterson

There’s so much advice out there about neutralizing your home design for maximum resale value that our personalities are in danger of getting lost in the shuffle. Unless you’re getting ready to put your home on the market soon, go ahead and let your individuality shine through with interior design that reflects your tastes and interests. Here are five easy ways to do so:

1. Make it a grand entrance. Maybe it’s an unusual door knocker or a doorbell that plays Beethoven’s 5th—or a whimsical piece of statuary or planter filled with something unexpected, like a well-stacked group of beach rocks. Try hanging a small sign with a favorite saying that welcomes guests. Whatever you choose, small touches like these make a personal statement before anyone even gets inside.

2. Put furniture in the ‘wrong’ room. Remember when Joey and Chandler opted for a foosball table over a kitchen table? Maybe something similar will work for you. Perhaps there’s a spot in your kitchen for a chaise lounge? Add a loveseat to a bedroom instead of the requisite side chair, or an antique, full-length mirror in your living room. When done tastefully, furniture in unexpected places can work wonders by making a very memorable impression.

3. Make your walls a self-expression. Don’t play it safe when it comes to wall décor. Go beyond the usual framed prints and accent mirrors and do something that reflects your personality. Music lover? Frame and hang beloved album covers or concert posters. Traveler? Turn a wall into a collection of photographs and framed objects that reflect your favorite destinations. Poet? Use stencils to inscribe your favorite quote right on the wall. Artist? Go a step further and add a mural.

4. Put your passions on display. Whether it’s comic books or collectible snowmen, weave your collection into your interior design with creative and tasteful shelving or a display unit. The key here is to choose one area—don’t let your collection take over your entire home.

5. Show off your green thumb indoors. If you’re a plant lover, don’t refine your passion to the garden. Incorporate more indoor plants and flowers within your home and keep your hobby going year-round. Select a sunny spot and start cultivating an orchid or African violet collection. Or choose strategic locations for hanging plants, using attractive planters made from copper, ceramic or other finishes of your preference.

Remember, one of the many benefits of owning versus renting is that there are no restrictions when it comes to design. So make a personal statement and make your home your own.

Learn more about making a personal statement through home décor by contacting me today.

10 Things to Inspect Before You Rent

10 Things to Inspect before You Rent

Are you or a family member in the market for a rental? Make an informed choice by following this inspection checklist from the experts at RentHop:

1. Cellphone reception
In today’s world, we tend to assume we can get great coverage anywhere and everywhere. That’s not necessarily so. When you’re touring a potential apartment, make a call or two on your mobile device from a couple of different rooms. While you’re at it, ask the landlord about WiFi. Some include it in the utilities as a rental incentive.

2. Water pressure and temperature
While you can’t climb in and take a shower during a walk-through, be sure to turn the shower on and test the pressure and temperature with your hand. If it’s not up to par, find out why. Perhaps it’s a temporary situation due to work being done in the building, or something that the building management can repair.

3. Pests
No one wants company when they move in. The best way to check for pests is to open cabinets and drawers and look for droppings, and check walls, baseboards and around plumbing pipes for cracks and holes. You can also ask the landlord for confirmation of when the last pest-control treatments were completed. Be proactive and ask questions—you have every right to.

4. Power outlets and electrical work
When visiting an apartment, bring something small to test as many outlets as possible. Or, pick up an Electrical Receptacle Wall Plug AC Outlet Ground Tester from your local hardware store. It should cost about $5 – 10 and will check the circuit status for each individual outlet in the apartment. While you’re at it, check all the lights in the apartment to make sure they turn on and off properly.

5. Appliances
Just as you’re checking the outlets and the water pressure, test the appliances as well. Open and inspect the fridge, microwave, dishwasher, oven, garbage disposal and any other gadget that comes with the apartment. If something isn’t in working order, ask the landlord what the plan for repair or replacement is.

6. Night-time vibe
Neighborhoods can be very different once the sun goes down, so make sure you visit your potential new location at night. Is it lively or desolate? Well-lit or dark? Are businesses still open, or has everything shut down? Make sure you’re comfortable with how the area feels at night.

7. Parking
If you’ll be dependent upon a car for your daily commute, find out about the parking situation. Is there a lot with assigned spots? If not, visit the lot during the morning and evening rush hour and see how easy it is to get a spot. If you have to rely on street parking, find out if there are alternate side rules to contend with. Your best bet here is to ask other tenants, as they’ll give you the skinny on parking pros and cons.

8. Neighbors
One of the most important factors to check into is who your neighbors will be. Talk to as many other tenants as you can, not only to get a feel for the vibe of the building, but to ask questions about landlord and building maintenance. Ask them what they like best about living there and what they can’t stand. This will go a long way in helping you make the right decision.

9. The lease
The item you should inspect most carefully of all is the lease. Take your time and read it from top to bottom, asking questions whenever something is unclear. You don’t want to be unpleasantly surprised later on by something you unwittingly agreed to in the lease. Look for policies on subletting, renovations, security deposit, renewal and pest control.

10. Damage
Make sure you take photos and document anything that is wrong with the apartment before you move in—a hole in the wall, a tear in the carpet, a cracked window. You need evidence that such damage was not caused by you, otherwise, it could jeopardize your security deposit when it comes time to move out.

Contact me today for more tips on how to choose the perfect rental property.

PreFab Homes – 3 Things to Research

3 Things to Know About Prefab Homes Before You Buy

From Albert Clark – HomeActions

Modular home building is one of the fastest-growing segments of construction, with modular housing production increasing every year. Modular homes are becoming increasingly popular because they take less time to build and are cost-efficient options for first-time buyers or seasoned investors. If you’re interested in a prefab home, you know all the benefits, such as low cost, fast construction and pristine craftsmanship, but before you make a final decision, consider the details.

The process

Building a modular home is very different from building a traditional home. The homes are built in a factory in programmed stages — from the walls to the finished product — and then set in place at the home’s location. Framing, insulation, floors, drywall, roofing, windows, plumbing and lighting fixtures are all installed and finished by experienced craftsmen using state-of-the-art production technology. The home is shipped 90 percent complete and is assembled on the foundation. This process brings forth very different issues than the traditional homebuilding process.

How to find the right manufacturer

The quality of your modular home will depend on your manufacturer. There are plenty of high-quality companies building incredible modular homes, but these companies may have a higher price tag. Don’t automatically go with the manufacturer that has the lowest prices, though, because you can get burned with a bad modular home that was built with cheap products. Find the right manufacturer by looking at its finished homes and talking to other clients who’ve used that manufacturer.

How the home looks when it is done isn’t everything — you should choose a builder based on the company’s range of designs, geographical reach, and reputation. The price tag is just a small factor in the overall picture.

Be mindful of the foundation

With a conventional home, it is easy to make adjustments for foundations that aren’t perfectly level. Since a prefab home is built in a factory and shipped to the location, making changes to adhere to the foundation is next to impossible. The foundation has to be perfectly square within a half-inch for the modular home to work.

This is something that buyers interested in a modular home should take into consideration. Before you ever purchase a modular home, you need to ensure that the land you want to build the home on has the means to provide a perfect foundation setting.

What makes you interested in purchasing a prefab home?

Where To Put Your Home Improvement Dollars

Kitchen and Baths: What is the Return on Your Home Improvement Dollars?

By Suzanne Whitenight Pilcher, Marketing Coordinator, Long & Foster Companies.

Planning some home improvements this year? If so, you may be wondering what will be your return on investment, especially if you’re thinking of selling. It’s often said that kitchens and bathrooms sell a home, so to attract buyers, you may want to focus on these rooms first.

But how do you know that updating now will be cost effective when you sell? To answer this question, we’ll turn to Remodeling magazine’s annual Cost vs. Value Report. This report estimates the average cost of a project and the percentage of investment that will recouped if the home is sold within a year.

Based on the 2017 report, here are the national average costs of kitchen and bath remodeling, as well as the ROI of each.

Minor Kitchen Remodel: Adding new cabinet doors and hardware, installing energy-efficient appliances and replacing countertops, your sink and faucet—all part of what’s considered a minor remodel—costs an average of $20,830 and returns 80.2 percent of its cost.

Major Kitchen Remodel: Revising the design of the kitchen to create more space, installing new cabinets, adding an island, replacing your appliances, countertops, sink and faucet, and redoing your lighting are part of a major remodel that costs, on average, $62,158, and the return is 65.3 percent.

Midrange Bathroom Remodel: Replacing all fixtures, including the tub, toilet, vanity countertops, shower and floor tile will cost an average of $18,545 and you’ll recover 64.8 percent of the cost.

Upscale Bathroom Remodel: Expanding the bathroom, relocating fixtures and adding high-end tile, faucets, countertops, medicine cabinets, custom lighting, new cabinetry and in-floor heating will cost an average of $59,979 and return 59.1 percent of its cost.

Under-the-Stairs Playhouse

Pricing Your Home – Clients Concerns

Responding to Clients: Overcoming Objections on Pricing

RISMEDIA, Saturday, February 04, 2017— This month at the Center for REALTOR® Development, our featured course at 25 percent off is the Pricing Strategies: Mastering the CMA online course, which discusses in detail how to prepare a comparative market analysis (CMA), how to work with appraisers, and how to guide clients through the complexities of valuation, among many other topics focused on valuation in real estate. It is also the education requirement for obtaining NAR’s Pricing Strategy Advisor (PSA) certification.

Your ultimate goal in preparing a CMA is to use it as a tool to help reach agreement with the seller or buyer on a listing or offer price for the home. If they select a figure from within the CMA price range, this goal is accomplished. If not, further discussion is needed.

When your seller or buyer is determined on a figure outside the CMA price range, ask them to explain their thinking. They might reveal one of the common client misconceptions about value, which you can then address, always supporting your response with the facts presented in the CMA. Below are some examples of effective responses to pricing objections.

Objection (Seller): “We can always come down in price, but we can’t go up! Let’s start at a higher number.”

Response: Explain that homes priced above what the market indicates are apt to take longer to sell, with accompanying stress, opportunity costs, and real costs to owners. Homes that languish on the market also tend to get passed over for consideration by potential buyers the longer they are listed.

Objection (Seller): “I’ve heard the market is hot right now, so I want to price my home aggressively.”
Objection (Buyer): “I’ve heard this is a buyer’s market, so I want to get a bargain.”

Response: Use the absorption rate to demonstrate whether the market is buyer’s, seller’s, or neutral.

Objection (Seller): “We completed a $XX remodel of the kitchen last year, and that cost should be added to the suggested price range.”

Response: Clarify the difference between cost to the seller and value to the prospective buyer. Explain that the CMA uses comparables that also include the upgrade in question (or have been adjusted for it), so this value is already reflected in the suggested price range.

Objection (Seller or Buyer): “Zillow® says the house is worth more [less] than what your price range shows.”

Response: Fortunately, you also checked Zillow in advance and are ready for this question! Explain that AVMs might contain incomplete or out-of-date information. They do not adjust for issues such as condition of the property and sales concessions. For these reasons, their price conclusions might not be accurate.

Objection (Seller): “My neighbor’s very similar home sold for more than your price range.”

Response: If the neighbor’s home is a true comparable, it should be in your CMA and you will be able to show the client the adjustments that likely contributed to its higher selling price. If you disqualified it as a comparable, you will be able to explain that as well—for instance, the home sold too long ago and doesn’t reflect the most current market conditions. If public information was not available on the house, explain that only known, verifiable information can be used in forming value opinions.

For more education about valuation and pricing, check out this month’s featured online course at the Center for REALTOR® Development, Pricing Strategies: Mastering the CMA,  which is the educational requirement for NAR’s Pricing Strategy Advisor (PSA) certification, and is on sale this entire month of January at 25% off its regular price. This certification aims to help real estate professionals enhance skills in pricing properties, creating CMAs, working with appraisers, and guiding their clients through the anxieties and misperceptions related to real estate valuation.

For more information, visit onlinelearning.realtor.