Thursday, May 31 2012
We have all heard horror stories about what can happen when people hire the wrong contractor. “It took three times as long as it should have!” “They wound up charging me half again what they said it would cost!” “They never even called me back!”
Those kinds of tales can be enough to keep you from even considering starting any of the home improvement projects you may have been thinking about for this summer. But that doesn’t need to happen – and it shouldn’t happen: protecting and improving your real estate investment is too important to your financial future. Sometimes the difference between a successful outcome and a disappointment is as simple as getting started the right way. Just three simple steps (combined with your own good common sense) will get your own real estate improvement project off on the right foot:
1. Get Recommendations
Most important is the first step: get recommendations. Trusted real estate agents usually know some of the most reliable local contractors (I always have a few recommendations or know where to point you to get them.) Take enough time to collect as many names as possible. Friends, family, neighbors, co-workers – even the local hardware store proprietor -- can offer names and first-hand experiences. Then check reputations: use the Better Business Bureau for their accreditation, and see what people on the Internet have to offer (though I always take Web gossip with a grain of salt!). Usually the best recommendations come from people you know who relay their own experiences, good or bad.
2. Meet Each Contractor
You are looking for a licensed professional who does excellent work on time and on budget. After creating a short list of contractors, take the time to meet each of them at your house. The contractor can then give you a written estimate of how much the work will cost you and how long it will take.
After you have settled on a final candidate or two, don’t be shy about asking to speak to a couple of recent clients about their experiences. It’s not unreasonable to ask; after all, if your job gets done on time and on budget, won’t you be willing to answer a phone call or two?
If you want a stress-reducing way to protect and improve your real estate investment, hiring a great contractor is the vital first step. As your Evansville real estate professional, I will be happy to steer you in the right direction when it comes time to work on your home – don’t hesitate to call! You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234.
Wednesday, May 30 2012
According to the National Association of Realtors®, first quarter statistics again point to better home sales figures. This time it was the prices of single family homes that rose in half of the major cities in the United States. Because of the wide differences between regional and state conditions, these figures are never in 100% lockstep, but local homeowners should be encouraged by the report’s breadth: prices rose in more than twice as many cities as fell.
Of course, rising prices are always good news for homeowners who want to sell their homes; but beyond that, the effect of movement in that direction is welcome throughout the economy. Consumer confidence is strongly influenced when home sales prices stabilize (just as it is rocked when prices fall).
There are a multiple reasons for the upswing in prices for home sales:
Employment Rates Improve
Although unemployment rates are still relatively high, the U.S. Bureau of Labor reported that the overall rate fell to 8.1 percent in April. Even for those who are currently employed, the knowledge that more jobs are out there is encouraging. When the specter of prolonged joblessness recedes, financial confidence rises and home sales can be expected to follow.
Low Mortgage Rates
Mortgage rates are still at historical lows -- and the effect on affordability is dramatic. Currently the national 30-year fixed rate is at 3.97% according BankRate.com. As I have discussed before, although lenders have raised the requirements to quality for a loan, such low interest rates make a mortgage more affordable for eligible homebuyers.
Fewer Homes Available
Despite the inventory of foreclosed properties, fewer homes were available for sale this year than during the same period in 2011. Nearly always, home sales register higher prices when the housing market tightens – and that did seem to be happening in a growing number of metropolitan areas.
Higher prices for single family homes is a strong indicator of an improving economy: one that bodes well for everyone in the housing market. Statistics do vary by neighborhood, so if you are considering selling your Evansville home this summer and want up-to-date, personalized information, contact me for a market update. You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234.
Tuesday, May 29 2012
Sometimes disaster strikes, despite your best efforts to prevent it. And that means you should always be ready for the unexpected.
The right emergency gear will help you protect your home and family, as well as deal with unpleasant realities like a post-storm power outage or broken windows.
Here are the most critical tools and products to have on hand when things go wrong.
Essential detection and safety devices
Throughout the house
Place wireless water alarms under sinks, behind the fridge, anywhere that water would pool if there's a leak -- they'll sound off at the slightest hint of moisture. Zircon Leak Alert three-pack, $25; amazon.com
Keep a fire extinguisher on every floor of your home, and an extra one in the kitchen, where the majority of fires start (some insurance policies will give you a discount on your premium for having them). Get multipurpose A:B:C extinguishers that douse flames from three types of fires: ordinary combustibles, flammable liquids, and electrical. Opt for a five-pound fire extinguisher, which is light enough for most people to use easily. Check the pressure gauges periodically and have the extinguishers recharged when the pressure drops. Kidde Full Home fire extinguisher, $40; homedepot.com
Supplement hard-wired smoke detectors (if you have them) with at least one battery-powered model per floor, especially in the kitchen and near bedrooms. Go with a model with a sealed-in, 10-year lithium battery to spare you frequent battery replacement. Kidde Long-Life sealed battery smoke alarm, $20; walmart.com
For the best protection, opt for separate carbon monoxide alarms instead of combination smoke/CO detectors. Place one on every level of the home and outside each bedroom or sleeping area so that occupants will wake up if it goes off at night. Plug-in versions with battery backups are convenient and discreet. First Alert plug-in carbon monoxide detector, $33; amazon.com
Basement, laundry, and mechanical room
A sump pump alarm has a sensor wire and probe that detect rapidly rising water levels, tipping you off to a potential flood. Reliance Controls sump pump alarm, $15; homedepot.com
An automatic shutoff valve for your water heater cuts off the supply to the device as soon as it senses a leak of any kind. FloodStop auto shutoff valve for water heaters, $115; safehomeproducts.com
If you forget to turn off the water supply to your washing machine when you're finished sudsing your duds, then this is the gizmo for you: a switch that automatically opens the valve as soon as you turn the machine on, and then closes it when the rinse cycle is over. Watts IntelliFlow automatic washing machine shutoff valve, about $200; amazon.com
Place sturdy escape ladders in each bedroom near a window. Practice setting them up in case you have to do it quickly. First Alert three-story fire-escape ladder, $72; target.com
Must-have tools for your emergency kit
Collect all your gear in a waterproof plastic tub and stow it in an easy-to-access spot in your house.
1. Duct tape. Use it for on-the-fly repairs and temporary fixes. $3.50 per roll at home stores
2. Blanket. Mylar is warm and lightweight, and folds up small. $3.50; grainger.com
3. Multitool. Get one with a pair of pliers and a can opener. $55; leatherman.com
4. Radio/phone charger. A hand crank will allow you to juice up the battery. $20; amazon.com
5. Work gloves. Leather grips protect your mitts during poststorm cleanup. $48; ironclad.com
6. Nylon rope. Use it to secure heavy outdoor furniture or tie down a flapping door.$30 per 100 feet at home stores
7. Lantern. A battery-operated model is safer than candles. $40; coleman.com
And add these multitaskers:
8. Fishing line. Use it wherever rope is too thick to get the job done.
9. Vinyl tablecloth. Lay it down to create a clean zone in any area.
10. Baby wipes. They'll remove grime from your hands and practically any surface.
Make sure to include first-aid supplies, three days' worth of bottled water and nonperishable food, and a list of important phone numbers.
Source: CNNMoney http://tinyurl.com/7a5jyok
Friday, May 25 2012
Sales of new single-family homes in April continued to inch up, increasing optimism in the building industry that a recovery is finally taking hold.
New-home sales rose 3.3 percent in April and were up 9.9 percent year-over-year, according to new Commerce Department housing data released Wednesday.
The increase in April sales activity is in line with other important housing measures that have shown continued, gradual improvement from the first quarter as more consumers look to take advantage of today's low interest rates and affordable home prices," says Barry Rutenberg, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders. "In markets where demand is rising, we could be seeing a faster pace of recovery if not for persistently tight lending conditions that are slowing both the building and buying of new homes."
New-home sales rose the most in the Midwest, by 28.2 percent in April, and by 27.5 percent in the West. The Northeast saw new-home sales rise by 7.7 percent in April, while the South posted a 10.6 percent decline last month.
The inventory of new-homes remains historically low at a 5.1-month supply at the current sales pace. But housing experts say the record low inventories may prove an eventual boost for future housing prices.
Home prices for new-homes are up nearly 5 percent compared to a year earlier, with the median price at $235,700 from April, the Commerce Department reported.
In another optimistic sign at recovery for the housing market: The National Association of REALTORS® reported Tuesday that sales of existing homes also increased in April, rising 3.4 percent in April compared to March and increasing 10 percent year-over-year.
Source: National Association of Home Builders and “New-Home Sales Amplify Optimism About Housing,” The Wall Street Journal (May 23, 2012)
Thursday, May 24 2012
For quite a while now, bargain hunters have been able to take their time combing through Evansville foreclosure listings. They’ve been looking for the kind of terrific real estate bargains that the last few years have provided -- and there have been plenty. But recent signs show that it may be time for them to step up their efforts.
According to ReatyTrac, the outfit that reports on current real estate activity of all kinds, banks are increasingly leaning toward short sales as a way to handle defaulted properties. There are good reasons why they would prefer short sales over the foreclosure track. You would expect that if that trend is for real, we should see a decline in the number of foreclosure-related notices being issued. Last month, that is exactly what happened.
In April, fewer than 190,000 of the notices were reported. That makes it the lowest monthly total in 5 years (and a decline of 5% from March). In other words, although it takes some time for a foreclosure to occur, the writing seems to be on the wall: the high water mark in foreclosures may well have been passed.
Another sign: the average price of completed foreclosures rose from the year’s average of $226,953 to $256,027. Lower supply, higher prices -- if the early trend continues,local foreclosure bargain hunters may soon find themselves having to hunt a bit harder.
There are many online resources that provide foreclosure lists: properties that are in good shape as well as distressed foreclosure properties, pre-foreclosure properties, REO foreclosures and foreclosure auctions. Anyone thinking about taking advantage of the bargains that are still out there (and they ARE still out there) should consider consulting an experienced Evansville agent to help with the process.
First and foremost, we can provide you with a current and accurate foreclosure list. There are many web sites out there that claim to list foreclosed properties, but most of them charge fees for their listings, and sometimes contain little or no contact information for accessing a property (or worse, are inaccurate). Licensed real estate agents have the resources to obtain an accurate, timely list, as well as the experience in targeting the correct contact people.
Your agent can also be a guide through the sometimes tricky process of purchasing a foreclosed house. Many properties on the foreclosure list have not been well maintained; the lender may try to get more for the house than it is actually worth. If you intend to improve a property through your own sweat equity, our first-hand knowledge of local market values can help you project a property’s future value, too…either as an income-producing rental or to sell for profit.
To get the most bang for your buck, make sure to put your search in the hands of a professional. Call me anytime! You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234.
Wednesday, May 23 2012
Figuring out home values when the market is in flux is truly a job for experts. We have seen the national real estate market begin to rebound, and expect Evansville home values to soon start to reflect movement as well. Most local homeowners are in the habit of keeping an eye on area home values. But especially for anyone considering buying or selling this spring or summer, estimating their home’s value is one of the first items on the agenda.
To get you started, there are a couple of different methods to help establish a ballpark estimate of what your home may currently be worth.
Certainly the quickest and easiest tool is the calculator on Bank of America’s website, at http://realestatecenter.bankofamerica.com/tools/marketvalue.aspx. This free online calculator uses accumulated public record data joined with other factors to produce an estimate of home values. All you need to do is enter your address and wait for the magic.
I do have to put in a word of caution, though. Like any computer program, it’s fast and precise --but also maddeningly capable of disregarding what we humans think of as ‘common sense.’ So, while it is fun and interesting to get this kind of readout, it’s at best a ballpark estimate (and at worst, downright misleading!).
There are many other sites boasting similar tools -- variations of the same idea and pulling from slightly different data sets -- but the approach they use to calculate home values stays the pretty much the same. You only need to enter your address and there you go: instant estimate.
While these calculators are great at aggregating data, nothing replaces human input. Real estate is, after all, the very definition of a local occurrence, so if you’re looking for more than an estimate, it’s time to call the pros in.
When an experienced agent (someone like yours truly) creates their professional estimate, it not only takes into account the trends for properties closest to yours, but also incorporates real life features -- such as the curb appeal your home and garden offers right now. The better kept your property is at any given time, the greater its estimated value should be. An agent can also suggest the small changes that work best to enhance a property’s value.
If you have been considering selling a home and are curious about your home value, call me anytime for a complimentary (and 100% human) consultation! You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email at Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Wednesday, May 23 2012
A new breed of vacation home ownership is gaining steam that allows individuals to share ownership of a property.
Think of it like this: A whole pie may look delicious, but it doesn’t make financial sense to buy the entire dessert if you are just having a few bites.
However, if you split the cost among several buyers and ensure that everyone gets a slice, then the purchase makes sense.
That’s the theory behind fractional real estate ownership, in which second homes are purchased under a multi-owner structure and cost and access to the home is shared.
“It allows you to create a connection between the time you spend in the home and the amount of money you pay for it,” says Andy Sirkin, a fractional homeowner and attorney who specializes in real estate co-ownership at Sirkin & Associates [www.andysirkin.com]. “It causes fewer headaches, costs less money and I still get everything I want.”
The concept of fractional ownership may sound similar to a timeshare, however fractionals have fewer buyers which increases the amount of time available to each buyer and tend to be an option at more upscale destinations.
According to Sirkin, “the meaningful differences between most old-fashioned timeshares and most modern fractional ownership arrangements are the extent to which each participant’s rights and responsibilities are limited to a particular home or group of homes, and the extent of each participant’s ownership and control.
The concept is reserved for expensive homes in vacation destinations, and offered by both multi-unit developers and high-end resorts. Single-family homes make up a small, but up and coming, part of the market.
Elite Destination Homes [elitedestinationhomes.com] has been buying resort properties and single-family units and selling them as fractionals for the last seven years. Its offerings range from a three-bedroom in Paris’ St. Germain neighborhood to a five-bedroom chalet in Steamboat Springs, Colo. As the sponsor, the compny handles putting together the buyer partnerships, which can range from four to 12 buyers, as well as the purchase agreements.
Bill Bisanz, founder and CEO of Elite Destination Homes, recommends that buyers research the sponsor’s track record before completing a purchase. “Check to see if the sponsor’s other properties are sold out and be careful of how much the sponsor is marking the deal up,” warns Bisanz, who typically charges at 25% premium. Other considerations include analyzing the sponsor’s resale program, if a buyer wants to sell his or her fraction, and evaluating on-going carrying costs.
Once potential fractional buyers select a property they should verify that the contract includes usage terms, expense sharing, conflict resolution and exit strategies.
“Make sure the contract clearly spells out how usage is going to work among owners,” recommends Sirkin. This is especially important in seasonal properties where multiple owners will be vying for the best times of the year.
He also suggests that contracts include details of how the budget will be created each year. “When bills come in, you don’t want to have to figure out last minute how you are going to pay them.”
Buyers also need to protect themselves against what the industry calls “rule-breakers.”
“Buyers should ask, ‘what happens if someone is in the property when they shouldn’t be or doesn’t pay when they need to? Do we have a system that doesn’t cost a lot of money and take a lot of time?’” advises Sirkin.
For foreign property owners, if a conflict escalates and requires judicial intervention, defining where conflicts will be handled is a must.
The fractional ownership structure is not ideal for every vacation homebuyer. Debra Savage, a real estate agent at Railey Realty [http://realty.railey.com] in Maryland says this type of ownership only makes sense with certain vacation and lifestyle goals.
“The biggest thing is how they plan to use the home. If they are only popping down on weekends once in a while then fractional residence makes sense. If you want to spend a whole summer here, it won’t work,” she says.
When buyers approach Elite Destination Homes, management begins the courting process with a “fit” conversation to see if the concept will meet the buyer’s goals. “We tell people, ‘don’t do this if you are not in it for a seven-year hold,” says Bisanz.
Just like in primary residential real estate, the main roadblock to fractional ownership is mortgage funding. “During the financial meltdown the market experienced a financing freeze,” says Sirkin. “Potential buyers got hesitant about buying anything. Now buyer confidence has returned, but financing is still a problem.”
Read more: http://www.foxbusiness.com/personal-finance/2012/05/18/fractional-real-estate-ownership-getting-slice-vacation-home/#ixzz1vW3CORix
Tuesday, May 22 2012
It doesn’t have to cost a fortune to improve a home and make it more sellable, according to HomeGain’s 2012 National Home Improvement Survey.
HomeGain surveyed nearly 500 real estate professionals nationwide to determine the top do-it-yourself home improvement projects that offers some of the biggest bang for your buck when selling a home.
“In a buyer’s market, sellers need to dress their homes for success before putting them on the market,” says Louis Cammarosano, HomeGain’s general manager. The survey shows “that do-it-yourself home improvements like cleaning and de-cluttering and lightening and brightening your home are cost-effective ways of increasing your chances of selling faster and closing closer to the asking price than homes rushed to the market with no improvements.”
Here are the top five projects that real estate professional recommend to their clients–projects that have the potential to offer some of the highest returns on investment at resale, according to the 2012 HomeGain survey:
1. Clean and declutter
What to do: “Removing personal items; wash and clean all areas of inside and outside of house; freshen air; remove clutter from furniture, counters, and all areas of the home; organize closets; polish woodwork and mirrors.”
Estimated cost: $402
Potential ROI: 403% or $2,024 to the home’s sale price
2. Lighten and brighten
What to do: “Open windows; clean windows and skylights inside and outside; replace old curtains or removing curtains; remove other obstacles from windows blocking light; repair lighting fixtures; make sure window open easily.”
Estimated cost: $424
Potential ROI: 299% or $1,690
3. Repair electrical and plumbing
What to do: “Update leaky or old faucet spouts and handles; repair leaks under bathroom or kitchen sinks; laundry room pipes; toilets should be in good working condition; remove mildew stains.
“Update electrical with new wiring for modern appliances and/or Internet and other audio/visual equipment requested in homes today; door bell should work; service sprinkler systems; fix lights and outlets that do not turn on; replace old plug points with new safety fixtures.”
Estimated cost: $808
Potential ROI: 293% or $3,175
What to do: “Front and back yards; add bark mulch; rake and remove leaves, branches and debris; plant bushes and flowers; add planters and hanging plants; mow grass; water lawn and plants; remove weeds and dead plants; manicure existing plants; any yardwork that improves the curb appeal of a home.”
Estimated cost: $564
ROI: 215% or $1,777
What to do: “Add fresh flowers; removing personal items; reduce clutter; rearrange furniture; add new props or furniture to enhance room/s; play soft music; hang artwork in walls.”
Estimated cost: $724
ROI: 196% or $2,145
However, the survey finds that the home improvement projects that offer the highest potential price increase to a home’s resale value continues to be updating the kitchen and bathroom. Home sellers could potentially see a $3,255 price increase to their home at resale by tackling kitchen and bathroom projects, according to the HomeGain survey. But those projects aren’t usually cheap to do. Check out our post earlier this year about the 2011-2012 Cost vs. Value report to see what home remodeling projects offer the biggest potential returns at resale.
Monday, May 21 2012
With property prices currently sagging, more and more investors are looking towards real estate as a smart addition to an investment portfolio. Certainly there is money to be made in property, but there is also a great deal of risk involved. Education and experience are the keys to navigating the often-hazardous property market. Here's a quick guide to help you build up the right property portfolio.
Why should you invest?
Property investment carries with it numerous advantages for investors. According to broker and President of Equity First Realty, Ben Yonge, the current down market is the perfect time to capitalize in the property market.
"Real estate prices are so extremely low. Buying an undervalued or distressed piece of property usually means that it can be 'cash flowed' with a nice annual yield if the right tenants are placed," he explains. "Prices are already on the rise so holding cash-flowing properties for the next three to five years should mean substantial gains in appreciation."
Preparing your finances
Gaining the correct financing is often the key to building a great property portfolio. It's always wise to arrange financing before looking at your first property, to avoid losing out to other buyers who may have already secured financing. Many lenders will demand an up-front sum of up to 30 percent as a down payment on the loan, so ensure that you've got the money prepared before proceeding.
Know your market
Buying property is a major investment, so it's important to analyze all the facts before taking the plunge. If you plan on renting the property, Yonge says that the current rental market and total cash required are the two most important factors to consider.
"Buyers need to know where they're buying and should verify that the property can be tenanted quickly," he says. "In addition to purchase costs, buyers must also factor in the costs to bring the property to rental ready condition.
Similarly, if you plan on renovating the property in order to resell it, you should speak with a real estate agent or financial planner to ensure that the investment will be worthwhile.
Even the brightest prospects can be sunk by a heavy tax burden. That's why it's always wise to consult a real estate attorney about the relevant taxes before closing a property deal, to identify any loopholes or money-saving measures. For example, investors may be able to sidestep capital gains taxes on an investment property if they have lived in the home for at least two of the last five years, according to the IRS.
Growing your portfolio
Once you've successfully purchased your first property, you can begin growing your investment portfolio. To help expedite the process, Yonge recommends hiring a professional. "Working with a good real estate agent, and preferably a good wholesale brokerage can save a ton of time and greatly increase the number of deals a buyer is able to analyze," he notes. It may be wise to invest in several different types of property to reduce risk in the face of market fluctuations.
Read more: http://www.foxbusiness.com/investing/2012/05/10/how-to-build-real-estate-portfolio/#ixzz1uZXbw9OO
Friday, May 18 2012
Both hardwood and carpeted flooring can look great in any Evansville property. However, when that property is purchased by an investor whose intention is to make it a lucrative long-term rental, hardwood floors can have a real advantage over carpeting -- for both durability and enhanced aesthetic appeal.
Yes, the initial investment is definitely more expensive. But hardwood floors are extremely durable: they withstand years of the toughest use (by even the roughest of boots!). By comparison, carpets tend to rip and stain easily. With replacement costs starting in the neighborhood of $3.50 per square foot, that means their actual property management expense will usually be higher. The resulting value to present (or future) landlords can be considerable. Hardwood flooring also gives any property a higher-end feel to it, which could tend to attract higher quality tenants.
Canny landlords know that there are both good and bad tenants out there; only time can guarantee which kind will wind up in any given house. Although hiring a great property management company is one step that goes a long way toward keeping an income unit in great condition, over the years there is always a risk that some renters may cause damage, leaving the landlord or property management agency to deal with the mess after they move. And the fact is that any carpet can be ruined through one accidental stain -- even by the most conscientious of occupants. Conversely, if hardwood floors get scratched, it’s a fairly simple matter to sand and re-varnish it a vacant property.
The only real downside to hardwood floors -- aside from the initial expense -- is that they can make a house seem a little ‘cold,’ while carpet can make a house feel cozier. It may not be the responsibility of a property management firm to make a house feel cozy, but it still can affect occupancy rates. Nonetheless, many income property owners decide that it is not a good enough reason to choose carpeting. They hope that hardwood’s durability is equally valuable in the minds of the high quality tenants they hope to attract.
If you are a local investor considering buying an income property, or a current property owner looking for a great property management company referral – give me a call to discuss today’s options. As an experienced and well-networked agent in Evansville, I always have a number of sound referrals I will be happy to share with you. You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Thursday, May 17 2012
These days the words “bank owned homes” have become practically synonymous with a single word: “opportunity.” With prices and mortgage rates this low, first time home buyers, investors and seasoned property owners alike are looking at a raft of buying options unlike any our town has seen in a very long time.
That option of buying a bank owned home has certainly opened a viable route for those looking to own a home at the fraction of what it cost just a few years ago. But not without a price: the best local bank owned home bargains are almost certain to fall into the ‘fixer-upper’ category.
When considering the purchase of one of our Evansville bank owned homes, I’ve found that my most successful clients have a few qualities in common:
- patience – they wait until they’ve found a house that suits all their needs
- prudence – they resist the temptation to take out too big of a loan
- realism – they know how much hard work they will be willing to put into the house
Finding the right fixer-upper should be approached as a process: in other words, never buy the first home you see until after you’ve checked out some of its competition. There are more foreclosures on the market than ever – a phenomenon that works to your advantage. When you do find the right home, make sure to take out a loan that makes sense. Often people who are in a hurry to buy a house are tempted to take out a loan without giving enough consideration to its immediate and long-term implications. Being coolly realistic as you work out the numbers will pay off for a long time.
Once a bank owned home is officially yours, the hard (often fun!) work begins. Buying a home in need of repair has always been the surest way to find a deal, but it is also the way to improve or develop home maintenance skills, bond with family members, and keep a tight rein on the family budget. Here, too, you need to be careful not to get carried away– you don’t want to overbuild or overdevelop beyond what is appropriate for the neighborhood setting. In other words, keep your end goals in mind. My advice to clients varies depending on their individual needs: Is it an income property? Or the family home for the next 15 years?
Foreclosures show no signs of slowing down in the near future, so this May’s buying market is opportune. If you’re considering buying a bank owned home in Evansville, call me today to go over your options and to put a plan into action! You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Wednesday, May 16 2012
Though things are looking up in real estate these days, selling a home inEvansville is as demanding as ever. As in any serious business proposition, looking for ways to increase the value of your offering will always pay dividends.
One of the major ways you can make your ownhome more marketable is to do a bathroom remodel. It’s always a key focus for prospective buyers…and yes, it does sound like a lot of work (and a lot of money) -- but there are a number of ways you can cut down on both.
First, step back and give a hardheaded look at the conditions a remodel would correct. In a surprising number of cases, all a bathroom really needs in order to look more glamorous and inviting is to add a fresh coat of paint or a change in lighting.
But such quick and easy fixes are not always enough to materially cut the time selling a home will take. The good news is that ideas for more comprehensive solutions are now easier to find than ever, thanks to the Internet. One such quick idea-generator can be found atwww.Calfinder.com/bathroom-remodeling , where you can view all levels of bathroom remodeling ideas and their associated price tags. It is the site’s free estimate feature that can make it easier to financially plan your project.
Some of those ideas can include installing a new bath or adding a shower. Having a separate guest toilet is also a feature the market tells us is highly valued. Trimmings such as taps, mirrors and cupboards also increase the value of a bathroom (and decrease the time selling a home may require).
Everyone planning on selling a home in the Evansville area usually has the same two underlying goals: getting as much of a return on their investment as possible as quickly as possible. Since bathroom remodeling can be an easy way to earn as much as a 90% return on its cost while increasing the likelihood of a quicker sale, it’s well worth investigating. Other possible benefits are attracting better-qualified buyers while reducing the costs and preventing delays associated with inspections.
I am always available to provide my clients with information on which renovations are in demand, and where you might see the most return on your investment. My experience and inside knowledge can give you the advantage of using your money as wisely as possible to optimize your home for future buyers. If you’re considering selling your home, call me anytime! You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Tuesday, May 15 2012
Every year the National Association of Realtors (NAR) surveys home buyers and sellers. Last year over 80,000 consumers answered this survey. I use the results of this survey to help understand public perception and my company uses the information when planning marketing efforts. The survey is conducted nationally by NAR and broken down by state. There are always some interesting tidbits and I thought I would share some of this year’s survey results in this Market Watch.
First time buyers accounted for 37% of all purchases compared to 50% in the prior year. Only 16% of purchases were of new homes which makes sense since new home construction was at its lowest level since NAR has been tracking that statistic. The most common first step taken by buyers in the home buying process is to look on the internet. 88% of buyers use the internet in the search process. I’m sure that’s why my company has devoted so many resources to FCTuckerEmge.com. The typical buyer spends 12 weeks from the time they first start a search until they sign a contract and physically look at 12 homes during the process.
The typical seller has lived in their home for 9 years prior to selling. For the homes that sell, the median amount of time on the market was 12 weeks, although 35% of homes sold were on the market for 6 months or longer. The take away from this statistic is that homes priced correctly sell quickly while those that are overpriced languish on the market. 85% of sellers and 89% of buyers hired a Realtor for their transaction. 41% of clients were referred to their Realtor by a friend or relative. Besides wanting to give you the highest level of service I can, you can see that referrals are a key component of every Realtor’s business. Please think of me when you hear of someone thinking about buying or selling a home. If you have any questions about this information or want more detail about other aspects of the home buying or selling process email or give me a call. You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Monday, May 14 2012
Surviving a Deadly Twister, Twice in 65 Years!
WOODWARD, Okla. — On April 9, 1947, Wilma Lake was alone in her apartment on Oak Avenue when a tornado swept through this rural town in the dark of night. She survived — crouching beneath a table — but many of her neighbors did not.
For Ms. Lake, then a 23-year-old office assistant, life went on: she would soon become Mrs. Nelson, marrying Eldon Nelson, who was known as Bud, and raise three children at 3412 Robin Drive. In graceful cursive, the brass knocker on the front door read: The Nelsons.
Early Sunday morning, shortly after midnight, Mrs. Nelson, now 87, was home alone again, on the city’s west side, in the house on Robin Drive, when an alert came over her weather radio warning of a tornado spotted a few miles outside town.
Barefoot and in her pajamas, she stood inside a small closet in the master bedroom, trying to get her son’s dog, a tan-and-white cocker spaniel named Sugar, in with her. Sugar refused, so Mrs. Nelson shut the door.
“It was so fast,” she said. “I hadn’t been in there anytime at all until it was like a bomb went off. I guess it was the roof blowing off.”
As happened 65 years ago, Mrs. Nelson survived, uninjured, even though a piece of wallboard fell on her head. And this time, six of her neighbors died, in the deadliest of a series of tornadoes that left a trail of destruction throughout the central Plains late Saturday and early Sunday.
The tornado that struck Woodward was nowhere near as powerful as the one in the 1947. But for the handful of men and women in this city of 15,000 who survived the earlier tornado, the devastation stirred painful memories.
The great tornado remains part of the lore and history of the place — the mural on The Woodward News building has a swirling twister painted on it — but no one thought anything like that would happen again.
On Monday afternoon, Mrs. Nelson went back to her house for the first time since the tornado struck, injuring more than two dozen people and demolishing 89 homes and 13 businesses as it cut a miles-long path through the city. Oklahoma officials raised the death toll to six from five. Three of the victims were identified on Tuesday as Frank Hobbie, 24, and his two daughters, Faith, 7, and Kelly, 4. Two others who died were Derrin Juul, 41, and his daughter Rose Marie, 10. A 63-year-old man also died in the Texas hospital to which he had been airlifted.
For the most part, 3412 Robin Drive exists in name only. The tornado rendered it a kind of half home: roofless, with caved-in white brick walls and shattered glass. The closet in which Mrs. Nelson took shelter now has the equivalent of a sunroof. The winds were so strong that a shard of a roof shingle pierced a plastic bottle of hand soap next to the closet and stuck there, like a dart.
Around the corner, a 10,000-square-foot store called Carpet Direct was ripped to shreds, with an upturned truck next to the wreckage.
As she surveyed the ruins of the home she shared with her late husband and the rest of her family for 47 years, Mrs. Nelson said she was not sure what it all means — surviving two of the worst nighttime tornadoes in Oklahoma history.
Mrs. Nelson, who turns 88 in July, stands 5-foot-2 and weighs 125 pounds, and her survival seemed to defy logic.
“I think the Lord must have left me here for a purpose,” she said, chuckling.
Relatives and neighbors — even the state insurance commissioner, John D. Doak — went to the house to greet Mrs. Nelson on Monday. As she sat in what remained of her living room, a friend arrived and gave her a hug.
“I’m going to make it,” Mrs. Nelson told her, tears in her eyes. “I’m a toughie. I told them at the hospital I was a tough old coot.”
Amid the destruction, the smallest things survived.
For 28 years, Mrs. Nelson kept a white bowl labeled “Grandma’s Goodies” on top of the refrigerator, with candies for her grandchildren and other children in the neighborhood. After the tornado, there it sat, without a crack in it. The front door remained intact, too, the door knocker unscarred.
Mrs. Nelson said only one thing went through her mind as the roof tore loose. “I was so worried about Sugar, and I just said, ‘Oh, God, take care of Sugar, take care of Sugar,’ ” she said.
After the tornado hit, one of her grandsons, Shane Semmel, 38, was the first relative to arrive at the house. Mrs. Nelson was in an ambulance parked outside. “She wasn’t worried about her house or anything else,” Mr. Semmel said. “She was worried about that dog.”
Mr. Semmel walked inside. Sugar was in the kitchen, covered in insulation. He knelt down and checked her. She was fine. She had survived.
Friday, May 11 2012
There’s no crystal ball economists can use to forecast the future (in fact, their pronouncements are often so vague you’d think they were using a recently-shaken snow globe).
But Evansville housing prospects may be headed for brighter days if we look for guidance from the people who back their words with action: U.S. builders.
The almost startling news came out in the latest release from the Commerce Department: more permits for beginning work on new homes and apartment complexes were requested in March than for any other month in the last three and a half years! This means that somebody – or, better said, a great many somebodies -- expect demand for new housing to go in the right direction.
They expect this to happen at a rate that is more than 30% higher than the same month a year ago, and that’s the kind of jump that should send a message to those (investors, bankers, economists) who rely on those building permit numbers to tell them something about what’s happening in the real world. It could mean that buyers looking to purchase new homes will soon have even more options.
The good news doesn't stop there. Not only have more residential building permits been requested than in recent history, groundbreakings on new residential construction in March 2012 were also more than 10% higher than in the previous year.
The changing market conditions in the Evansville area are another reason the role of your real estate agent is so important. Navigating the real estate landscape can be a daunting task when you go it alone, but homebuyers have no need to do that. My clients count on reliable assistance every step of the way -- from deciding which home is the right fit, to negotiating the best price, and finalizing the purchase. If you’d like to learn more about how the new homes market looks this week, give me a call! You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or by email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Thursday, May 10 2012
A national survey of more than 500 chief executive officers places Indiana as the best place in the Midwest to do business. Nationally, Indiana has moved into the top five in the annual survey by Chief Executive magazine. The state has jumped 11 spots since 2010.
Indiana was ranked as the best place to do business in the Midwest and the fifth best nationwide in a survey of more than 500 chief executives by Chief Executive magazine. This is the third ranking in less than eight months in which the Hoosier State’s business climate has scored a top ten finish nationally.
The magazine’s eighth annual “Best & Worst States” survey asks CEOs to evaluate states based on business tax policies, regulation, workforce quality and livability factors. Indiana’s ranking in the survey has moved up eleven places since 2010.
"Today’s announcement is the third prestigious ranking Indiana has received in less than eight months from people in the business of economic development," said Dan Hasler, Secretary of Commerce and chief executive officer of the Indiana Economic Development Corporation. "Chief executives across the nation are taking notice of our skilled workforce, fiscal stability and business-friendly policies and recognize Indiana as one of the most attractive states in the country for business."
Indiana’s 5th place ranking makes it the only Midwestern state in the publication’s top five. Among neighboring states, Kentucky ranked 25th, Ohio ranked 35st, Michigan ranked 46th and Illinois ranked 48th.
Chief Executive magazine noted in this month’s issue, “North Carolina, Tennessee, Indiana, Virginia, South Carolina, Georgia and Utah held up their position in the top 10, with Indiana moving up a notch to fifth. CEOs indicate that workforce quality is the state’s single greatest strength, and since it became the 23rd right-to-work state last year, the Hoosier State is likely to punch above its weight competitively in the future.”
The Chief Executive magazine ranking is the latest in a series of national accolades Indiana’s business climate has garnered. Site Selection magazine rated Indiana's business climate best in the Midwest and sixth nationally, according to a November 2011 survey of national real estate executives and a review of Indiana’s economic development record. Also, Indiana’s business environment recently scored a top five finish nationally in Area Development magazine’s September 2011 top states for doing business survey.
Chief Executive magazine is a bi-monthly publication for top management executives published by the Chief Executive Group LLC. Founded in 1977, the Chief Executive Group LLC is headquartered in Greenwich, Conn. The “Best & Worst States,” survey results are available at http://chiefexecutive.net/best-worst-states-for-business-2012.
The IEDC oversees programs enacted by the General Assembly including tax credits, workforce training grants and public infrastructure assistance. All tax credits are performance-based. Therefore, companies must first invest in Indiana through job creation or capital investment before incentives are paid. A company who does not meet its full projections only receives a percentage of the incentives proportional to its actual investment. For more information about IEDC, visit www.iedc.in.gov.
Wednesday, May 09 2012
Does April find you looking for a home to call your own? In Evansville’s current bargain-rich real estate market, you’ll find that you’re not alone! If it’s been a while since you last house-hunted (or if it’s your first time out), it’s important to go over some basics.
A real estate agent or broker who lists a property is usually working for the seller. Since it takes a buyer to make anything happen, there are also buyer’s agents. Although anyone is free to buy or sell on their own, there are good reasons why most buyers decide to enlist a buyer’s agent to represent their interests exclusively.
A Buyer’s Agent Protects You
Let’s say you stop by a weekend open house, and there it is -- your dream home! The listing agent is very nice and wants to help you to write up an offer to purchase through her. This is called a “dual agency,” and is not necessarily a great idea (some brokerages even forbid it). The problem is that the seller's agent rightly wants to get the highest price for the property because she represents the owner. If I were working with you as your buyer’s agent, my job would be to represent your interests, so an offer I wrote could look quite a bit better from your prospective. That’s why it is prudent to find an Evansville agent to represent you before even starting your search.
Loose Lips Sink Ships
Whenever you are house hunting, be careful of what you say to the seller's agent. Resist the temptation to discuss financial matters or to mention that you are in a rush to buy: either could damage your chances of getting the home you want on terms you want. Always bear in mind that the agent is working for the seller, not for you.
Consider Signing a Contract
As soon as you sign a contract with a local buyer’s agent or broker, you put a real estate professional to work for you. It is a legally binding agreement in writing that obligates the agent to work to get you the best deal possible. You may also sign an exclusive contract with your buyer’s agent, which gives the agent an extra assurance that his or her work is likely to accomplish what you both want -- a deal that puts you in your new home. Worth noting: except in extremely rare cases, you as a buyer should never have to pay a commission. If an agent asks you for a fee upfront, that’s your signal to run the other way! It’s part of the MLS listing agreement that fees and commissions belong on the seller's side.
Finding an experienced Evansville buyer’s agent for your side – one you feel comfortable with, who listens to your needs and who offers expert suggestions and advice – will be well worth the time it takes. But it doesn’t even have to take much time: I’m right here! You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email at Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Tuesday, May 08 2012
For those who are just about ready to list their Evansville house for sale this April, several simple yet cost-effective projects can be sure-fire buyer-pleasers. I am often asked to help my clients identify areas in their home that will benefit from improvements. I like to point to some simple changes that materially help a property’s ability to compete with any other house for sale in our area.
Here are three of my favorite inexpensive fixes:
1. Painting walls in pale neutral colors. Freshly painted walls erase years of wear from any room. They send prospective buyers a subtle message: here is a home where your family can create your own memories. Neutral tones are important, too. While you may personally prefer rich or bright colors, potential buyers may not. Beyond ensuring that rooms look as big, bright and airy as possible, you want potential buyers to picture spaces where their furnishings will fit in without redecorating. Pale beige or grey rooms work with furnishings of all colors, and wind up appealing to the greatest number of potential buyers.
2. Clearing clutter. Clear kitchen and bathroom countertops, consign heavy furniture to storage, and stow the kids' toys neatly out of sight. The object is to emphasize the impression of sufficient space. When buyers visit any house for sale, they are most drawn to those where it’s easy to picture all of their belongings fitting in easily – and that takes space.
3. Keeping your cool. You want buyers to be comfortable as they walk through your house for sale, and at the same time want to signal that heating and cooling are not going to be problematic. Have your heating and air conditioning systems serviced so that they are in efficient working order. If you have a working fireplace, have the chimney swept, and light the fire in case we run into an unexpected chilly rainy day during a springtime open house. If the weather cooperates and the sun is shining, open windows and doors to create a nice fresh breeze. But if it’s too hot, be willing to crank up the AC!
Whenever you list a house for sale, it's important that you put yourself in the buyers’ shoes. Ask what are the key factors you would look for, and be sure your home reflects the answers. For any and all other questions you might have about selling your Evansville home, I’m here to help!
You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Monday, May 07 2012
It's a big weekend for a major southern Indina tourism business. Holiday World will open for it's 66th season Saturday, while Splashin' Safari waterpark will welcome visitors for 2012 starting next week. President Dan Koch says the parks have doubled attendance over the past 10 years, which he describes as "very good in the industry." Koch hopes the trend continues this year with the opening of the $9 million Mammoth water coaster.
The largest single-ride investment in Holiday World’s history also sets a new size record: the world’s longest water coaster – Mammoth – opens in May.
"We added our first water coaster in 2010; Wildebeest was a runaway hit,” says park president Dan Koch. “So we asked our designers for something even bigger. It’s so huge, we’re calling it Mammoth.”
Located east of Wildebeest, Mammoth will begin with a conveyor ride up the water coaster’s lifthill. Including a 32-foot drop at a 45-degree angle plus six additional drops, linear induction motors (LIMs) will propel the six-person round boats up six hills, into five enclosed sections and through twists and turns. Mammoth’s one-third mile ride will cover three acres, increasing the water park’s size to 30 acres.
“The new twist to this water coaster is the six-passenger boats—this is a brand-new design,” says Koch. “These round boats add tremendous capacity, plus riders may be facing forward, backward or even sideways. It’s all the fun of Wildebeest, plus Mammoth is taller, longer and wider. Starting in May, we’ll have the two longest water coasters on the planet!”
Mammoth’s tallest elevation is 69 feet higher than its lowest drop. The conveyor-style lifthill replaces any slide-tower stairs, making the water coaster accessible to riders who might have difficulty walking up stairs.
The price tag for Mammoth is $9 million. Other additions for 2012 include Sparkler, a six-story vertical swing ride, the new “Rock the World” Christian music festival, a new family-friendly event called Holiday World’s Happy Halloween Weekends throughout the month of October, plus park-wide Wi-Fi and rental cabanas.
Source: Holiday World & Splashin' Safari http://www.insideindianabusiness.com/newsitem.asp?ID=53546
Friday, May 04 2012
Buying Evansville Real Estate with an all-cash transaction definitely has its perks. The sheer pleasure of being able to hold that great wad of cash with the purchase can make anyone feel like a millionaire, after all, and that's something everyone would like to experience at least once. However, you have to understand that there are more pros and cons to actually buying Evansville Real Estate with cash. Knowing some of them could potentially make you a wiser property investor.
Let's say, for example, that you have a bad credit score. In this economy, it's not hard to imagine. Making the real estate transaction happen with just cash can definitely let you forget all that hoop-jumping through credit checks rigorously done by lenders. This can make the entire transaction push through much faster, and in this buyer's market, that's more than a good thing. Remember that you’re not the only one looking to make great investments for a smaller price tag. This can help you make the investment for a lower price as the property appreciates over time.
Another great perk to making the exchange completely in cash would be that sellers are more often interested in closing with an all-cash buyer. This means that in the case of multiple offers for a single property, the probability of the seller going with your offer is significantly raised. More than that, sellers are usually more flexible with the price when it comes to dealing with an all-cash buyer, which leaves you more room to wiggle when it comes to negotiations.
This should be an obvious point right now, but you wouldn't have to worry about interest rates if you make the purchase entirely in cash. The interest rate you otherwise would have had to deal with is no longer going to be a problem—you end up saving more money. Add to that, buying Evansville Real Estate in cash will make you own the property scot-free. There is virtually no danger of foreclosure since you don’t have mortgages to keep up with. This frees up even more of your income since pretty much the only monthly expense you'd have to worry about when it comes to your property would be the upkeep.
There are only foreseeable disadvantages of buying a house with cash. One is that it's not as easy to liquidate as it would have been if you had taken a mortgage, although a careful study of your current finances before the exchange can easily remedy that. Another minor disadvantage of buying Evansville Real Estate with cash is that the usual tax benefits that come with home ownership don't apply. Remember, however, that the accumulated savings from that all-cash transaction more than make up for that.
There you have it. The pros of buying Evansville Real Estate far outweigh the cons. If you have enough savings to make the purchase, seriously consider doing so, as this might just help you make a smaller investment for a bigger asset. Contact your realtor today and strike while the iron is hot!
I hope you have found this information helpful. If you need any help with buying, selling or renting a home in Evansville, Indiana please contact me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Thursday, May 03 2012
More home owners want more space in their kitchens and are expanding the kitchen’s use for more than just cooking, according to the latest findings from the American Institute of Architects’ quarterly Home Design Trends Survey. The survey, conducted in the fourth quarter of 2011, focused on kitchens and bathrooms.
“Kitchens seem to be regaining their function as the home’s ‘nerve center,’” says AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker.
During the housing downturn, kitchen design fell as a priority for home owners, Baker notes. But as the market has picked up, Americans’ interest in kitchens has been renewed.
“The last few years have seen kitchens take on new functions with dedicated computer areas and recharging stations,” Baker notes.
The kitchen products and features growing the most in popularity, according to the survey of architects, are:
1. Computer area/recharging stations
2. Integration with family space
3. Renewable flooring materials
4. Recycling centers
5. Adaptability/universal design
Home owners are also placing more emphasis on sustainability in choosing products in the kitchen, such as with renewable flooring materials and renewable countertops increasing in popularity.
Sustainability is also important in bathrooms, the survey found. One of the biggest growing concerns for home owners in designing bathrooms is finding ways to minimize utility costs, according to the architect survey. As such, products like LED lighting, dual flush, and water-saving toilets are growing in demand, Baker notes.
Wednesday, May 02 2012
As the number of for-sale homes listed on the multiple listing service (MLS) drops, the number of single-family homes up for rent has been gradually increasing, RISMedia reports.
Single-family home rentals are a growing business, as more investors buy up foreclosures at bargain prices and then transform them into rentals.
About 16 percent of all listings on the MLS are rentals, which is more than double the number of rentals listed in 2006, RISMedia reports. Single-family rentals are often listed on the MLS by real estate brokers, whereas multifamily units typically aren’t.
The single-family rental market now accounts for “21 million rental units or 52 percent of the entire residential rental market,” according to a new study by CoreLogic.
Single-family rentals are usually very differently from multi-family homes. For example, rents for single-family rentals typically are 1.5 to 1.6 times higher than multifamily homes. Also, families and prior home owners tend to be attracted to single-family rentals whereas multifamily tenants tend to be younger, more mobile people who have never owned a home before.
Many of the single-family rental tenants nowadays are former home owners who had faced foreclosure and can no longer afford to own. According to CoreLogic, more than 3 million home owners have been turned into renters over the past five years due to foreclosure.
Source: “Single Family Rentals Now Exceed Multifamily,” RISMedia (April 23, 2012)
Tuesday, May 01 2012
For credit-worthy Evansville homebuyers, getting a mortgage can be a walk in the park…or a nerve-wracking nightmare. The difference usually has to do with those ubiquitous Credit Reports – the ones TV commercials want to send you for free (at which point they will try to sell you not-so-free monthly services).
Anyone who has ever been stalled just as they reached the final stages of getting a mortgage or refinancing knows that getting mad doesn’t solve anything. But avoiding a last-minute problem is easy to do if you plan ahead. At least six months ahead. We like to assume that outfits as important as the reporting agencies know what they are doing, and in fact, they do. But they must start with the right information, which is where we come in. Nobody ever told us this in school, but it’s ultimately our responsibility to see that our credit reports are accurate.
Whether or not you think you will getting a mortgage or refi soon, here are some plan-ahead, proactive steps everyone can and should take. Monitor for these common stumbling blocks:
1. Inaccurate information on the credit report. The first step is to read your reports. It is very important that you request those free copies of your credit reports and dispute any negative items that seem to have appeared for no reason. All three credit bureaus are required to remove inaccurate information, and they will do so, but only after you tell them to. My experience is that the agencies can be quick to respond…or as slow as molasses in January. In Antarctica. The only sure way to set things right is to allow them time to correct or to ask for more information.
2. Carrying too much revolving debt adds an unnecessary obstacle for getting a mortgage. A large part of a credit score is based on your revolving debt ratios. Revolving debt should be kept at or under 20%. If you are carrying more revolving debt than that, take this lead-time to whittle it down to a more loan-attracting ratio.
3. Taking on new debt less than six months before getting a mortgage: bad idea. If you are planning on getting a mortgage or refinance, avoid taking on other new debt in the six months leading up to your application. This solves any question over whether you will be able to pay the new debt as well as the mortgage amount.
Time spent planning ahead and getting your financing in order will be well worth it once you find the home of your dreams and are ready to write an offer. Questions? Contact me anytime you wish to discuss pre-qualifying for a Evansville home. You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com