Real Estate Blog
Friday, November 30 2012
The Travel Channel is planning to feature attractions in Santa Claus. Its "Christmas Showdown" special, set to air next year, will spotlight a historic 22-foot Santa Claus statue and a fruitcake eating contest at Santa's Candy Castle.
SANTA CLAUS, Ind. – The Travel Channel will film the famous town of Santa Claus, Indiana, during the Santa Claus Christmas Celebration next month, for a new special called "Christmas Showdown."
While in town on Saturday, December 8, producers for the Travel Channel plan to visit the town's two original attractions - the Santa Claus statue and Santa's Candy Castle - which both opened in December of 1935. The historic 22-foot Santa Claus statue, which was recently restored, is part of the Santa Claus Museum & Village. The nearby Santa's Candy Castle will host a fruitcake-eating contest that day as part of its special activities. The crew will also capture the Santa Claus Land of Lights after dark at Lake Rudolph Campground & RV Resort as well as other Christmas-themed attractions and events in town.
"Being featured on the Travel Channel is an exciting opportunity for the town," says Melissa Brockman, executive director of the Spencer County Visitors Bureau. "We look forward to sharing our festive Christmas attractions, activities, and traditions with their viewers."
Travel Channel's "Christmas Showdown" will highlight the best holiday events and traditions in America. Two destinations will be featured in a variety of categories such as Christmas Towns, Off-beat Parades, Neighborhood Lights, and more. Viewers will be asked to go online and vote for their favorite destination.
The Santa Claus Christmas Celebration begins November 30 and is held the first three weekends in December in Santa Claus, Indiana. Events include a traditional Christmas Dinner with Santa, Writing a Letter to Santa at the Santa Claus Museum & Village, Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire, the annual Christmas parade, and much more.
For more information about the Santa Claus Christmas Celebration, lodging specials, and a schedule of events, call (888) 444-9252 or visit www.SantaClausInd.org/Christmas
Thursday, November 29 2012
According to a recent survey, nine out of ten REALTORS® believe that clients who make improvements before selling a house are more likely to secure a successful sale. Why, you may wonder, would anyone take the trouble to run a survey to discover anything that obvious? Possibly because of a follow-up question Realty Times came up with: 65.9% of real estate agents – virtually two out of three – agree that a common mistake among homeowners is not making "the right" home improvements for the local market.
Uh-oh! Remodeling in the wrong direction can cost you twice! If it’s such a common mistake, it’s safe to say it might be best to consult an agent before rolling up your sleeves (or opening your checkbook). Active local agents are constantly noting what features are popular with prospective buyers and which improvements are making a difference in today’s market. Knowing what sells -- and why -- is fundamental information when home improvement decisions are about to be made.
Also important is the changing nature of an effective marketing roll out. Yesterday’s sign on the front lawn and paragraph in the newspaper are no longer sufficient. Pocket listings, preview open houses, and social media promotion are all elements that now can be brought into a multi-tiered marketing plan geared to create awareness (“buzz”) around a property’s debut.
Yet, the new market retains at least one unchanging fundamental. To achieve the highest return when selling a house in our area, it has to be priced right. Real estate commentator Barbara Corcoran puts it succinctly: “You could spend all the money in the world fixing up and marketing your house,” she says, “but the wrong price on the right house guarantees no sale.”
If you are thinking of selling a house in Evansville this winter, I’m here to help you meet that goal. Contact me to get started on a marketing plan that sets it in motion! You can reach me on my cell phone at 812-499-9234.
Wednesday, November 28 2012
As I mentioned last month I will recap Lawrence Yun’s economic/real estate forecast for 2013. Lawrence Yun PhD is the chief economist for the National Association of Realtors. He graduated from Purdue University and received his doctorate in economics from The University of Maryland. He serves on Harvard University’s Industrial Economic Council and has been recognized as one of the top ten economic forecasters in the country.
Dr. Yun is more optimistic about real estate than the economy as a whole. He anticipates sales of existing homes to reach 5 million units next year with the median price up 5% and median prices up almost 15% over a three year period. He also anticipates new construction to increase next year by 25%. Although a 25% increase is a huge increase it is important to note that new construction has been very low for three years and new construction inventory is at a 50 year low. Interest rates should stay low for at least two more years. GDP will rise about 2% next year.
Both Dr. Yun and Mark Vitner, Managing Director and Sr. economist with Wells Fargo spoke at the same economic presentation. Both economists assume that we will not have a recession next year. Both also point out that to avoid a recession we must reduce our deficit and to reduce our deficit we must implement significant entitlement reform.
Dr. Yun, The National Association of Homebuilders and Wells Fargo all point out that homes are more affordable today than they have been in decades. Seventy four percent of all homes sold in the 3rd quarter were affordable to families making the median household income of $65,000.
If you haven’t signed up for My F.C. Tucker Emge on our website please do or call me for instructions. New enhancements to our map search at FCTuckeremge.com have made shopping for a home easier than ever. You can reach me on my cell phone at 812-499-9234.
Tuesday, November 27 2012
The Indiana Association of Realtors says home sales, sale price and home listings in October all increased from the same month last year. Chief Executive Officer Karl Berron says low borrowing costs and strong home values have buyers and sellers "clearly feeling more confident."
Indianapolis, Ind. -- The Indiana Real Estate Markets Report today released by the state’s REALTORS® shows that statewide, when comparing October 2012 to October 2011, the following occurred:
• The number of closed home sales increased 24.5 percent to 6,092,
• The median sale price of those homes increased 5.9 percent to $117,500,
• The average sale price increased 3.7 percent to $139,732,
• The percent of original list price received increased 0.9 percent to 90.6 percent,
• The number of pending home sales increased 25.7 percent to 5,560, and
• The number of new listings increased seven percent to 8,772.
The good news made last month is part of a trend that proves local residential real estate markets across the state continue to strengthen from the worst of the recession. October 2012 marks the following consecutive year-over-year gains in home prices and market activity:
• The number of closed home sales has increased year-over-year for 16 consecutive months,
• The median sale price of homes has increased for 11 consecutive months,
• The average sale price has increased for 10 consecutive months,
• Sellers received a greater share of their original list price for the eighth consecutive month, and
• The number of pending home sales has increased for 13 consecutive months.
“To have strong sales and price gains as we enter the last quarter of the year is encouraging,” said Karl Berron, Chief Executive Officer of the Indiana Association of REALTORS®. “Buyers and sellers are clearly feeling more confident, as are our members.
“Cheap borrowing costs and the fact homes here have historically held value are still the glue binding this recovery together,” continued Berron. “Sustained recovery will not happen without real employment and wage growth.”
Anyone looking to buy or invest should start with the sortable county tables of this report and then talk to a local REALTOR® who can give the most insight into what’s happening in a neighborhood, city or school district.
More about the Indiana Real Estate Markets Report
Established in May 2009, the Indiana Real Estate Markets Report was the first-ever county-by-county comparison of existing single-family home sales in Indiana. In March 2010, IAR added statistics on other types of existing detached single-family (DSF) home sales – condominiums, duplexes, townhomes, mobile homes, etc. – to the report.
The report became even more robust in August 2010. It now tells how the statewide housing market is performing according to eight different indicators, each with one-month and year-to-date comparisons, as well as a historical look. It also provides specific county information for 91 of Indiana’s 92 counties in a sortable table format, allowing for consistent comparison between local markets. IAR obtains the data directly from and releases this report in partnership with 26 of the state’s 27 Multiple Listing Services (MLSs), including the Broker Listing Cooperative® (BLC®) in both central and southwestern Indiana.
IAR represents approximately 15,000 REALTORS® who are involved in virtually all aspects related to the sale, purchase, exchange or lease of real property in Indiana. The term REALTOR® is a registered mark that identifies a real estate professional who is a member of America’s largest trade association, the National Association of REALTORS®, and subscribes to its strict Code of Ethics.
Source: Indiana Association of Realtors
Monday, November 26 2012
According to the non-profit Demand Institute, this year nearly 35% of housing in the United States is now categorized as rental property. In our area as elsewhere, some of these properties belong to “accidental” landlords -- folks who had to relocate for professional or other reasons, but didn’t (or couldn’t) sell. Many others decided to buy investment properties when the prices of homes dropped so dramatically. One way or another, this fall a good many of our neighbors find themselves in the position of owning rental property for the first time.
What all new and long-time landlords have in common is the simple need to secure a trouble-free tenancy – which in many cases means securing professional property management. If you have a rental property yet are on the fence about the cost, some of the considerations that point to a professional for your property management solution look like these:
· A reputable localproperty management company knows how to find and screen qualified tenants at the same time they are complying with local and federal Fair Housing laws. It amounts to protecting you from potential lawsuits.
· Reputable property managers will take care of rental collections, protecting the cash flow that makes your investment worthwhile.
· Tenants who are handled professionally tend to stay longer – and that cuts down on costly turnover expenses.
· Experienced property management companies make sure that repair and maintenance work is completed promptly by licensed and insured professionals. This protects your asset while minimizing potential liability.
Property management may not seem to be the lowest cost solution, but for landlords who cannot spare the time to manage their property legally and carefully, finding one of the stellar property management companies in Evansville the best bet to protect that underlying asset and keep cash flowing. If you are one of those new ‘accidental’ landlords or are considering buying or selling an investment property, I am happy to share some of the best contacts in the industry! You can reach me on my cell phone at 812-499-9234.
Tuesday, November 20 2012
Things I am thankful for this year: health, of course -- for friends, family, myself -- and for the many things we all take for granted until something as devastating as Hurricane Sandy comes along to remind us of our good fortune.
And especially on Thanksgiving, I’m grateful for…my kitchen! Kitchens have become the center of activity in today’s home, whether during a casual weeknight family meal or a grand Thanksgiving feast for twelve. More and more of ourreal estate listings reflect just that: focused interest on the kitchen. Here are some relevant details that can draw interest to real estate listings in Evansville:
Floorplan – Is the kitchen open? Walled-off? Great yard view? Photos should be selected to highlight attractive layouts for effective real estate listings.
Appliances – New? Desired brand names? It’s amazing how prominent those concerns have become as interest in kitchens has been reflected in the real estate listings.
Finish – Have safety touches been added to the kitchen? Childproofed kitchen is a two-word real estate listings highlight worth featuring in any family-friendly neighborhood. One of the easiest updates is the addition of new hardware -- which can also make it harder for little hands to pull open cabinets while the adults are busy baking the world’s best pumpkin pie!
All kidding aside, I am thankful for all that we have here in Evansville. This Thanksgiving, Sandy has reminded us of all those who will be spending this holiday without a familiar place to come home to. If you would like to help Hurricane Sandy’s victims, a Red Cross page has been created to make donating easy: http://www.redcross.org/hurricane-sandy
Here’s to a safe and happy Thanksgiving!
Thursday, November 15 2012
When you search through the latest listings of Evansville homes, you first find those that fit your top-line needs. Then you winnow down that list. Some of the candidates will seem more appealing than others; and some will seem to be over- or underpriced.
Before making a final judgment on which homes bear a closer look, the most successful homebuyers also factor in qualities that may not be at the top of their own personal priorities list, yet which make a difference to the majority of homebuyers. In other words, they keep in mind the most important qualities that add value in market terms – that add investment value to homes that are principally your personal residential choice. Some of the more important ones:
· Location has a huge impact on a property's long-term price. Are amenities close by? Close enough to walk. Are homes in the immediate area well maintained? Is the property on a desirable block, or located next to a busy road?
· Taxes impact the overall cost of long-term cost – and when homes are listed, those figures are significantly displayed. Also important is whether there are any pending issues you should be aware of -- like a sewer bond or other pending taxes.
· Condition will become a major factor in years to come -- forward thinking will pay off in terms of overall value. A 20-yr-old water heater, for example, is going to cost sooner rather than later. Homes with excellent roof and foundation condition can add exceptional long-term value.
· Evansville homes with potential are homes with unrealized value. With smaller properties, it’s worthwhile to consider how doable it would be to add rooms or expand its square footage. Even if you don’t end up adding square footage, if homes are small for the neighborhood, a future buyer might.
This November’s historically low mortgage rates make it a terrific time to give me a call. Together, we’ll find the homes that are good fits for your family – as well as great long-term values.
Tuesday, November 13 2012
When anyone sets about readying a property for sale, some things are certain. By the time that home appears in the Evansville listings, its owner will have made sure that its overall appearance is neat, clean – generally well maintained.
Drilling down further, two of the areas prospective homebuyers focus most on are the kitchen and bathrooms. That’s why everyone puts the dishes away, sets the fluffy white towels out – perhaps even lights a scented candle or two. After that, most sellers settle down to see what happens…what the ‘luck of the draw’ will bring…Hold it! Luck?
Not really! The only luck that’s called for is the kind we make for ourselves -- the kind where preparation meets opportunity!
I take care of the opportunity: a good part of my job is creating it by executing a marketing plan that works! So all that is left is preparation: in this case, going the extra step by attending to some less glamorous (and less obvious) details. One example – a surprisingly impactful one – is a minor detail in those two focal rooms, the kitchen and bathrooms.
While the clean lines of nice tile work in either can increase the value of a home, soiled or broken grout will always work the other way. Even worse, if the grout shows mold or mildew, that detail can decrease the value of a property for sale by as much as ten to fifteen percent! (That daunting figure comes via research from the Microsoft Network’s web site).
The takeaway: if you are planning to list yourproperty for sale with a realtor this fall, here are some simple tips for creating some of your own “luck”:
· When repairing grout in a marble tiled-surface, avoid using sanded grout – it is hard to avoid scratching the marble’s surface.
· When cleaning grout, do not use brushes with metal bristles: they damage or erode the grout. Experts recommend using a 50/50 solution of vinegar and baking soda to clean the grout with a stiff (not metal) bristled brush.
· Using a grout sealer when installing tile or replacing grout can help keep it clean and in good condition.
· If you need to replace grout, bring a sample to the hardware store so you can closely match its color. Precise color is impossible to remember, and a poor match makes repairs stand out.
I always start new clients with an in-home evaluation -- we compare notes on areas that may need attention as we bring the home to market. If you are considering a sale, I hope you will put a call to me at my office right at the top of your to-do list! You can reach me on my cell phone at 812-499-9234.
Monday, November 12 2012
Last week’s annual National Association of Realtors® get-together opened with a grand gathering to hear what some economics heavyweights would say about coming conditions in the country.
You could hear a pin drop through most of it – despite the huge size of the auditorium. Our local real estate market is never in total lockstep with the national picture – but it certainly is affected by it. Economists are forced to play a guessing game, but the best are pretty good at it.
Wells Fargo’s senior economist Mark Vintner had good news and bad news. For those who have local real estate already in their ‘owned’ portfolio, despite the downturn of recent years, he thinks they own one of the few top-notch inflation-proof investments. “Real estate and gold,” he said. He gave convincing reasons why, despite almost any curves the middle-term future may send, the value of real estate (“housing”) should grow even if the economy unexpectedly weakens.
The not-so-good news was Vintner’s suspicion that the disparity in incomes will continue to widen, partly because rising rents and tough lending conditions make it hard for first-timers to make that first home purchase (of course, that’s good news for investors who own the rentals).
Of equal interest was NAR’s Chief Economist Lawrence Yun’s rapid-fire delivery of real estate stats and forecasts. He thinks mortgage interest rates will stay at their current historic lows for a while longer, but perhaps not so long as the Federal Reserve has been indicating. Longer term, Dr. Yun expects interest rates to rise gradually, but hold at the historically normal 5%-6% range. There were visible signs of relief as he went through the slide show of charts and graphs which illustrated why a return to double-digit inflation is unlikely.
The only moment of anything like humor came when one of the experts was asked about the global economy, and what will happen if no action is taken. “Europe has ‘kicked the can’ down the road until there is no road left,” he said, “and no can, either.”
Then he paused thoughtfully before adding, “But they’re still kicking.”
Friday, November 09 2012
Fifty percent of Americans recently surveyed say they expect home rental prices to rise in the next year, and it’s making them lean more toward home ownership, according to the Fannie Mae October National Housing Survey, which surveyed 1,000 Americans.
"This has been a year of steady growth in the percentage of consumers with positive home price expectations," says Doug Duncan, Fannie Mae’s senior vice president and chief economist. "Increasing household formation, encouraged by an improving labor market, is adding additional momentum to the housing recovery and putting upward pressure on rental price expectations. Expected increases in both owning and renting costs may encourage more consumers to buy and add further strength to the housing recovery already under way."
Rental price expectations continue to rise and are much higher than home price expectations, according to Fannie Mae.
More Americans say that with rising rents, home ownership is looking like a better option. Seventy-two percent of those surveyed say that now is a good time to purchase a home. Eighteen percent say it’s a good time to sell.
Still, the optimism over the direction of the housing market is met with some caution and predictions of a slow recovery--not a high speed one, according to Fannie.
Source: Fannie Mae
Friday, November 02 2012
Knowing how to evaluate, buy, and store firewood is key to the safe, efficient operation of your fireplace, wood stove, or fireplace insert.
Whether you burn fires as a supplemental heat source for your home or strictly for ambiance and pleasure, it’s important to know how to properly buy and store firewood. For homeowners looking to fuel a traditional masonry fireplace, fireplace insert, or wood stove, the goal should be the same: to get the best quality firewood for the best possible price.
Before picking up the phone, it’s important to know exactly what you want to purchase so that you can clearly express that to the wood seller, says Matt Galambos, a Maine arborist certified by the International Society of Arboriculture. This includes determining the quantity, species, and condition of the firewood, all of which affect its price.
How much to buy
Homeowners who intend to heat their homes through the use of a wood stove naturally will require more firewood than those who burn only the occasional fire for pleasure. A person living in the Northeastern U.S. who burns firewood as his or her primary heat source, for example, may require up to five cords of wood to get them through the season. In contrast, a weekend-only fire builder can likely get by on as little as a half-cord. Galambos estimates that for the casual but steady fire builder, one cord of wood should easily last through winter.
Measuring a cord of wood
A cord of wood is defined as a stack of cut firewood that measures 4 feet tall by 4 feet wide by 8 feet long, or any other arrangement that equals 128 cubic feet. The individual pieces must be stacked side by side rather than the looser crisscross style. Other measurement terms, such as ricks, racks, face cords and piles, have no legal meaning and are often banned by state weights and measurements agencies. Regardless what the load is called, says Galambos, it should always be converted to cords or fractions thereof so that homeowners can determine if they are getting a fair price.
Seasoning the wood
Freshly cut wood is composed largely of water. Not only is this “green” wood difficult to ignite, but burning it can lead to a dangerous buildup of creosote, the cause of chimney fires. Properly “seasoned” firewood is wood that has been cut to length, split, and allowed to air dry for at least six months until the moisture content dips to around 20%. Dry wood will appear grayish in color and the pieces will begin to exhibit splits and cracks on the ends. Compared to freshly cut wood, seasoned wood feels light for its size.
Though seasoned firewood is the only choice for immediate use, green wood shouldn’t be completely ignored, says Galambos. “If you have the room to store it and the time to dry it, buying green firewood can save you up to 25% compared with seasoned wood,” he says.
Hardwood vs. softwood
It’s a common misconception that burning soft woods, such as pine and cedar, leads to dangerous creosote buildup. As long as the firewood is properly seasoned, it can safely be burned in a fireplace or stove regardless of species, says Dr. John Ball, Professor of Forestry at South Dakota State University. But that doesn’t mean that all wood is created equal.
“Tree species differ widely in the amount of heat they produce when burned,” says Ball. Hardwoods like oak, maple, and madrone produce almost twice the heat compared with softer woods, such as spruce, pine, and basswood. Fires built with hardwood not only burn hotter, they last longer, meaning the wood pile won’t get depleted as fast. Homeowners can expect to pay a premium for 100% hardwood, but Ball cautions against purchasing cheaper “mixed-wood” loads that may contain little actual hardwood.
Homeowners should consider storage long before the firewood delivery truck appears in the driveway, cautions Galambos. A cord of wood takes up a significant amount of space, and if not properly stored your investment will quickly begin to rot. Firewood that is not stowed in a protected space like a garage or shed needs to be six inches off the ground. Firewood racks or simple pallets work well. If exposed to the elements, the wood pile should be at least partially covered with a waterproof tarp. Experts caution against storing the wood too close to the house for fear of inviting pests.
Homeowners can expect to pay $75 to $150 for a half-cord and between $150 and $350 for a cord of hardwood delivered and stacked. To save some money, a person with a large truck may elect to pick up his or her own load at the wood lot.
To verify the quantity, species, and condition of the firewood, it’s wise to arrange the delivery for a time when you’re home. Experts say, inspect the wood for type and condition before it’s unloaded, though quantity can only be accurately measured after it’s stacked.
Maximize your fireplace efficiency
It’s true that a traditional wood fireplace can never rival the energy efficiency of a wood stove or even a fireplace insert, but there are ways a homeowner can trim heat loss. Fire-resistant glass doors not only reduce the volume of heated home air that escapes up the chimney, they help radiate heat back into the room. Similarly, a thick cast-iron fireback is an old-fashioned device that absorbs and emits energy in the form of radiant heat. Check the fireplace damper for leaks and always tightly seal it when the fireplace is idle.
Read more: http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/fireplaces-chimneys/buying-firewood/#ixzz2AzjlwPLk
Thursday, November 01 2012
It’s a guiding principal among Realtors that superior landscaping adds value to any housing for sale. In Indiana, different studies arrive at differing answers for how great that incremental increase actually is, but most agree that it lies somewhere in a range between 5% and 14%.
Needless to say, that is huge! Since there isn’t anything like a universal way to define ‘good,’ ‘bad,’ or even ‘average’ landscaping, you can’t pin down its precise value. Nevertheless, what is certain is that in offering any housing for sale, the result will be greatly influenced by the first impression the property makes – its ‘curb appeal’. Landscaping is a great part of that.
The landscaping term covers a wide swath of meanings including just about every part of a property that isn’t physically part of the house itself. Improving it can be simple and inexpensive – or not!
· A well-maintained lawn is commonly the first ‘must’ for improving the value of any housing for sale. A messy yard will put off most potential buyers immediately: that can make an otherwise sparkling property seem old and run-down. When you think of landscaping as a frame or prelude to what a home's interior has to offer…but your buyer has to get past it first!
· Adding and improving ornamental detail is one of the least expensive and most impactful ways to upgrade housing for sale. Professional landscapers know how splashes of color placed in appealing places can please the eye and distract from features that would otherwise detract from an overall impression. Long story short: be willing to freshen up over-the-hill plantings and planters before they become visual liabilities.
· Taking the long view, the time/budget tradeoffs are fundamental realities when it comes to more major plant landscaping. A tree planted now can mean a great improvement to any housing for sale five or ten years from now. Just ask a nurseryman what is involved in transplanting a mature tree!
Attractive landscaping adds a welcoming factor to any housing for sale. Moreover, there is another real benefit we don’t often think about: the increased pride of ownership that enriches the homeowning experience beyond its dollars-and-cents value.
This fall, with inventories trending lower, some homeowners may suspect that now could be the right time to list their Evansville home. If you are one of them, do give me a call to talk strategy and the best way to take seasonal advantage of your own property. You can reach me on my cell phone at 812-499-9234.