Thursday, January 31 2013
After the holidays, buyers tend to start getting more aggressive with their house hunting. Search activity usually peaks around March or April in most states, according to a new study of home searches from 2007 to 2012 conducted by Trulia.
In September, searches slow down. By December buyer searches ebb to their lowest point of the year.
“Home-search activity swings with the seasons in every state,” says Jed Kolko, chief economist of Trulia. “Buyers and sellers can use these ups and downs to their advantage. Sellers looking for the most buyers should list when real estate search traffic peaks. Buyers, however, should think about searching off-season, when there is less competition from other searchers.”
The study revealed seasonal patterns of search activity state to state. Here are the months when online real estate searches peak in every U.S. state:
Source: “Trulia Reveals Best Home-Searching Season,” HousingWire (Jan. 29, 2013)
Wednesday, January 30 2013
Anyone who is buying a house in Evansville-- or even just checking up on the market -- is likely to find that some of the rules of the game seem to have shifted. Particularly anyone expecting to be deluged by the kind of amazing deals being offered in 2008 and 2009 should see what I mean.
As the latest housing statistics continue to paint an upbeat picture, at least when it comes to bargain-priced properties, the days of multiple bids and ‘offers over asking’ are back. If you are weighing the advantages of buying a house in Evansville before interest rates and prices rise in earnest, it should be useful to take a look at some strategies that work -- and some that virtually never work:
1) Blanket Low-balling – Running around writing up a bunch of low-ball offers is a surefire way to get yourself ignored, or worse, miss out on an otherwise great property. A better approach? Work with a knowledgeable agent whose expertise in neighborhoods will allow you to check on the most recent comps, then write a serious offer.
2) Dismissing Imperfect Properties – The degree of your success in buying a house in Evansville can depend on starting out with a reality check: only very rarely is a property totally perfect for you and priced absolutely right.
3) Highest and Best - Unfortunately, the tempting low prices listed for some local bank-owned homes also means that it’s increasingly common to encounter the dreaded “multiple offer situation.” If you find yourself there, be prepared to submit your highest and best offer first -- you may not have another shot.
This changing market doesn’t mean we are headed into the kind of fever-induced ‘bubble’ we saw in the mid- 2000’s. But for those seeking a deal and waiting for the bottom of the market before buying a house in Evansville, the market does not seem to be waiting. 2013 is clearly the time to jump in!
Monday, January 28 2013
With the Fed having announced its intention to hold interest rates near 0% until at least mid-2015, even very cautious investors are recognizing that this provides a rare opening. If ever there were a time to start a real estate portfolio, it’s hard to imagine a better one.
For many, the first question is whether there is still an opportunity to buy foreclosed homes in Evansville. That answer is yes, for sure – but that is not always the only strategy that will get you to your goal.
It all depends on you.
Before we can develop your strategy, you first need to decide which type of real estate investor you wish to be:
The Fix-and-Flip Investor - This type of investor is handy (or has a lot of contacts who are), and is familiar with remodels and improvement projects. Usually, at least part of the goal is to create an income stream from the investments. This investor buys a property at the lowest price possible, improves it, and sells at a profit as quickly as possible. This investor may have one or more projects going at a time -- with or without loans on the properties. This is the more hands-on type of investor.
The Buy-and-Hold Investor – This investor need not have a high degree of familiarity with real estate (as long as he or she has a source for accurate market advice), and plans to use the real estate portfolio for its long-term wealth-building potential. This investor may or may not buy foreclosed homes – the goal is to buy property at a price that, when rented, will generate cash flow that makes financial sense. This investor often takes loans on properties. This can be the least-involved kind of investor after purchase – especially if a property management company handles the day-to-day details.
Whether you are looking to buy foreclosed homes in Evansville, or to capitalize on one of the bargains now available in the traditional market, cool-headed, informed decision-making is at the core. If you are also looking for an agent to be by your side supplying up-to-the-minute market data, give me a call. We can talk about your goals, and come up with a buying plan that matches your investing style. You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234.
Friday, January 25 2013
“What doesn’t bankrupt us makes us stronger,” writes Josh Garskof, a serial remodeler and contributing writer and/or editor for Money magazine, “This Old House,” and Martha Stewart Living. Local property owners who have attempted a remodel anytime recently are likely to find the humor – and the truth – in his wisecrack.
With the spring selling season just over the horizon, this would be about the right time for Evansville homeowners who are considering bringing their property to market to finalize plans and firm up any remodeling arrangements. Whether the project is just to freshen up a bathroom or re-landscape a whole backyard, Garskof offers the following tips:
Plan to Overspend – Yes, we all hate to acknowledge it, but surprises happen with predictable regularity. If you don’t allow for that cushion, you may find yourself in a tight spot when your contractor discovers a missing drainage system under the house.
Magnet Sweep – If you’re planning exterior work, have your team do a magnet sweep of the outdoor space when they are finished. Dozens of old, rusty nails can find their way into your lawn and into the mulch – nothing you want bare feet to encounter when summer comes (and the last thing you want potential visitors or agents stepping on during Broker’s Tour!)
Permits – Be sure to secure copies of a Certificate of Occupancy or other local code clearances from your contractor before you issue the final payment. It’s one way to help ensure the work is safe, up to code – and to have the paperwork handled when a sale is being finalized.
If you are preparing for spring and plan to do some remodeling before bringing your local property to market, I hope you will feel free to consult me before spending a single dollar. I’m here to help my clients save money where they don’t have to spend it -- and make money where they can. Especially when it comes to property improvements in Evansville, knowing today’s homebuyers can make a real difference. Email me at RolandoTrentini@FCTE.com today!
Thursday, January 24 2013
Is your kitchen begging for an update? Does that green and purple tile make you cringe on every trip to the fridge? If so, now might be the time to explore the latest trends in kitchen remodeling.
According to the National Association of the Remodeling Industry’s website, planning out exactly what you want out of your kitchen remodel will help you set realistic budgets.
And if you’re still not sure what you want or even where to begin, don’t panic. Here are some ideas from our country-wide panel of design and contracting experts who agree these are the six hot kitchen remodel trends for 2013.
Trend #1: Refacing Kitchen Cabinets
Do you want a fresh look for your kitchen cabinets, but don’t want to go through the hassle of actually replacing them?
Good news: Kathleen Donohue, an award-winning designer with Neil Kelly Designs, says that refacing cabinets - not replacing - is in. Donohue says this trend is in because people are watching how they spend their money. And since refacing is the process of just changing cabinet doors while maintaining the original cabinet structure, it’s a much less expensive option.
And when it comes to cabinet refacing, think simple and sleek, says Donohue.
“When refacing cabinets, a clean, simple contemporary look is winning out, both from an updating standpoint, and a trend to eliminate unnecessary clutter and fussy details that equate to high maintenance and complicated living - both unpopular trends,” says Donohue.
Trend #2: Stone and Solid Countertops
Are you dreaming about a gleaming new countertop to spruce up your kitchen? Consider quartz countertops, which experts say will be the material of choice in 2013 due to its durability.
“Stone countertops are losing ground to quartz composite countertops that are no-maintenance and the closest thing to bullet-proof countertop materials available today,” says Donohue.
Florida-based kitchen and bath designer, Patricia Davis Brown, says another reason for quartz’s popularity is that it has less fussy patterning than granite.
But quartz isn’t the only trendy material for counters in 2013, according to Mark Fies, board of directors member for the Metro D.C. chapter of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry.
Fies says more homeowners are asking for concrete countertops to create a custom and eye catching look. “With concrete you have endless colors to choose from, the ability to shape the surface as you see fit, and you can even embed materials and/or designs right into the surface,” he says.
Trend #3: Hardwood Floors
Are you thinking about replacing your worn and ripped kitchen linoleum with gleaming hardwood floors?
Good, because our kitchen experts agree that hardwood floors remain a hot kitchen remodeling trend for 2013, with a few new developments.
For example, “I am starting to see lighter shades of wood floors again - something that hasn’t been seen in a while,” says Chappaqua New York interior designer, Cami Weinstein.
And Brown sees the same trend in Florida. “The washed wood floors are back but, with a twist - wider planks and hand scraping, giving a beachy feel,” she says.
But hardwood floors can be a lot of work in terms of both installation and maintenance. Luckily, there are some options to give you that classic wood floor look - without the hassle.
For example, Goldberg and Donohue are seeing a trend in hardwood-looking floors made from durable and easier-to-install materials, such as engineered wood flooring, which is made from a plywood base with a real hardwood veneer.
“Engineered wood continues to be popular, but so is porcelain tile that looks like wood, with less maintenance and better water tolerance,” says Goldberg.
Trend #4: Stylish Sink
Adding a stylish sink can drastically change the look of your kitchen. So what will be trending in 2013? Fies says the answer is deep bowl sinks.
“Deep bowls are still the rage,” he says. “Although there are endless possibilities with today’s sinks, our homeowners want large, deep sinks to accommodate their larger pots and pans. The debate between single or double bowl is still in full effect, but we tend to see homeowners choosing the one bowl option.”
After you’ve decided on the style, the next thing to consider is the material of the sink. And in terms of what will be trending for 2013, Weinstein believes stainless steel sinks will be hot due to their durability and flexibility.
“They just look great for a very long time and work with both modern and traditional cabinetry,” he says.
Trend #5: Appliances
If you’ve been thinking about investing in new appliances, this could be the year to justify buying that commercial stove. According to Weinstein, incorporating commercial-style stoves and other useful built-in appliances in kitchen remodeling projects is a hot trend for 2013.
“Commercial stoves and stainless steel appliances continue to be used and enjoyed,” she says. In addition, features that save homeowners time and space are becoming increasingly popular. “One of her favorites is a hot water dispenser. “They are great for a quick cup of tea, hot cocoa, or mixing with boullion cube for a stock,” she says.
Adding to that concept, Goldberg says kitchen features that do double-duty and save valuable kitchen space are also must-haves for 2013.
This includes microwaves that double as second ovens and warming drawers, and refrigerators with convertible drawers that can act as the fridge, freezer, or wine fridge.
“Multi-taskers that serve more than one need are hot,” says Goldberg.
Trend #6: Mixing Cabinet Colors
Is dark brown too bland, but red too vibrant? Will white cabinets turn a dull shade of gray after the kids put their hands on them? If you can’t decide on a color for your kitchen cabinets, never fear - our experts say it isn’t just one color that will be trending in 2013, but rather a combination of colors.
“Homeowners no longer need to choose between white, medium, or dark tone cabinetry,” says Fies. He adds that a variety of colors will provide visual interest, and can immediately give your kitchen an updated, modern look.
So what are some ways you could incorporate a combination of colors into your own kitchen?
“I am starting to see kitchen cabinetry painted in shades of cream, taupe and gray, often mixing in a darker wood for an island or the lower cabinets,” says Fies
Monday, January 21 2013
Builders broke ground on new homes in December at the fastest pace in more than four years offering a “solid ending to 2012 and a promising start to 2013,” according to the National Association of Home Builders.
Housing starts soared 12.1 percent in December, reaching a 954,000 annual rate and the fastest pace since June 2008, the Commerce Department reported Thursday. Most of the jump was attributed to a 20.3 percent increase in multifamily construction last month, helping the sector return to a nearly normal production pace by historical standards. Housing starts for single-family homes rose 8.1 percent in December.
"With inventories of new homes at razor thin levels, builders are moving prudently to break ground on new construction ahead of the spring buying season to meet increasing demand," says Barry Rutenberg, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders.
Permits for future home building — an indicator of future building — also rose slightly in December to its quickest pace since July 2008. Permits rose by the greatest amount in the Northeast by 19 percent and 6.6 percent in the West. The Midwest saw a 5.7 percent decline in housing permits, while the South saw a 3.4 percent decline in December.
Source: National Association of Home Builders and “Housing Starts Climb to Highest Rate Since June 2008,” Reuters (Jan. 17, 2013)
Friday, January 18 2013
Your home buyers have gotten approved for a mortgage and now they’re just waiting to make it to the closing table. Make sure they don’t throw their loan approval into jeopardy by making one of these common mistakes:
Source: “How to Keep Your Mortgage Approval Approved,” Realty Times (Jan. 14, 2013)
Thursday, January 17 2013
The real estate climate forecast for the coming year is partly sunny -- and warming up! Yet, with no double-digit appreciation in sight, some who plan on selling a home inEvansville face the very practical question: is the winter of ’13 the right time to sell?
For those who stand to make a gain from selling, the decision boils down to convenience. Whether sale prices rise or fall, the cost of their next home will probably move in the same direction.
But what about those who suspect that the overhang from the financial crisis will probably result in some degree of net loss? How do they decide whether it makes more sense to sell and take the loss, or to rent -- and wait? Emotions aside, the financial impacts can be examined. If you are considering selling a home in the area and don’t stand to make a profit, asking yourself some questions can help reach a decision:
· Can I afford to take a loss? If you might need cash from your current property to purchase another, waiting is likely to be the safest course.
· If I have to take a loss, will there be a tax advantage to doing so in 2013? If you expect to sell a business or come into any other form of extra income during this tax year, check with your CPA to see if this year’s the right time.
· If I choose to rent my home, am I prepared to be a landlord? Are you up-to-date on applicable federal and local fair housing ordinances and tenants’ rights issues? If not, it’s practical to factor in the cost of a property management agency (usually 7 – 15%)
· Am I prepared to wait it out? If you decide to rent a local home and wait for the market to catch up to your profit goals, are you prepared to wait X years before selling? On-again off-again selling decisions can result in high tenant turnover -- which eats into your bottom line.
Selling a home vs. renting it out is a decision only you can make -- why starting with accurate information is so important. I will be happy to meet for a confidential consultation on the value of your local home in today’s market. It is a very good place to start.
Wednesday, January 16 2013
Homebuilders are changing their floorplans to accommodate more people living under one roof. As adult children and aging parents move in, home owners are finding the need for more defined, separate housing corridors within their homes.
For example, homebuilder Lennar is expanding the offerings of what it calls the “Next Gen” house. Introduced in western states like California, Arizona, and Texas, Lennar is now taking its “Next Gen” floorplan to North Carolina. The single-family home features a second door, separate from the main entrance, that leads to a 500-square-foot suite for a private residence. There’s also a door inside the main house to access the suite.
“We market it as two homes, one payment,” says Trish Hanchette, Lennar’s Raleigh division president.
Homebuilders also are finding flexible first-floor space is in high demand. The spaces can be used as a mother-in-law suite or changed into a nursery, extra bedroom, or home office.
Some in the housing industry are also calling some flex rooms “bounce back” rooms — so named for adult children who have moved back in with their parents because they're struggling to make it on their own.
“The number of 22- to 30-year-olds that are still living at home is at a record high right now,” says Hampton Pitts, an executive vice president with Ashton Woods Home. “So you have that college graduate that’s back at home looking for a job and maybe got their first job but not ready to be in an ownership or rent situation.”
Source: “Builders Target Families with Multiple Generations Under One Roof,” RISMedia (Jan. 8, 2013)
Tuesday, January 15 2013
Normally in January’s Market Watch I try to compare results from the past two years. Although I may mention a few comparisons, the overriding message in this Market Watch is pretty simple – if you are considering selling your house list it now! There are several reasons I feel so strongly about this.
First, nationally the inventory of existing homes for sale is at its lowest number since 2001. Locally our inventory is at its lowest level since January of 2006. Many sellers thinking about selling wait until April or May to list their homes, thinking that is when the selling season starts. Based on my experience, the spring selling season begins on Super Bowl Sunday! Last year in the four month February to May time period we sold exactly 33% of the homes that were sold over the course of the entire year. Waiting to list your home doesn’t make it more likely to sell, it just costs time. As more homes come on the market the competition increases so take advantage of buyers who are looking now.
Second, prices are up. The National Association of Realtors reports that nationally median home prices are up 10.1% from a year ago and through November prices increased for the ninth consecutive month, the longest streak since 2006. Locally our median price increased 4.3% from last year and I am confident that the median price will continue to rise this year.
Shadow inventory (homes 90 days delinquent, homes in foreclosure, and homes already owned by lenders) continues to decline. Although it is impossible to know exactly how many homes meet these criteria, virtually all experts agree that the number has declined significantly. Although there will continue to be some of these homes listed the number will be significantly less than in recent years, creating less competition for normal home sellers and less competition means higher prices.
Fourth, rental rates and occupancy continue to increase making homeownership more affordable in many cases, than renting. This coupled with increased consumer confidence in the housing industry, an increased desire nationally to own a home and increasing household formation all combine to generate more buyers.
If you or anyone you know is considering selling their home why wouldn’t they list it with the company that has been helping buyers and sellers for over 100 years and the company with the absolute best website for shoppers looking to buy in our area? Please visit FCTuckerEmge.com or better yet call me today. Let’s get started now.
Friday, January 11 2013
Want your kids to pitch in and help save energy? Green parenting bloggers weigh in on getting kids to flip the switch and stop wasting energy.
Kids have more important things to think about than turning off the lights. But discovering the lights blazing in an empty room for the umpteenth time is enough to make any parent scream, especially when the power bill arrives.
“To teach them about the importance of turning off the lights and saving energy, we’ve read them several children’s books,” says Poquette. “My son understands the value of a dollar, so I’ve shown him our energy bill and explained to him what this means and how energy is produced.
Thursday, January 10 2013
Here are a few surprising and simple ways to cut your energy bill this season.
Put lamps in the corners: Did you know you can switch to a lower wattage bulb in a lamp or lower its dimmer switch and not lose a noticeable amount of light? It’s all about placement. When a lamp is placed in a corner, the light reflects off the adjoining walls, which makes the room lighter and brighter.
Friday, January 04 2013
Building a new home exactly the way you’ve always wanted it may not be as unattainable as it might seem. To take the first step toward making any dream home real, you have to see if it’s practical: map out how much building it today would cost.
Start by nailing down your size requirement. Think of an existing home that feels right for your needs, and ask the owner for its square footage. Decide if you prefer a single or two-story structure, remembering that the smaller roof and foundation size makes a two-story new home less expensive to build.
Add-ons will add up. Make a list of any special features you consider important. While the difference between a standard tub and a $3,500 Jacuzzi tub for the master bathroom may seem unimportant, if you’re dealing with a 2,000 sq ft house, that kind of detail can swell the bottom line significantly. If you want any special materials or architectural details, note them, too (e.g., a rectangular-shaped new home will be simplest to build; holding depth to 32 feet or less will save costly roofing extras).
Now it’s time to contact several local new home contractors to ask for ballpark estimates. They will be able to give you their recent average cost per square foot -- and with the added details you’ve now gathered, they can make more a precise breakdown.
It’s best when building surprises come as no surprise, so most people with experience know to add 10 – 20% to the initial budget. Last-minute change orders and unforeseen problems are the most common overrun culprits.
Buying a lot and building a new home in Evansville can be a satisfying project for those with the patience to see it through. And for everyone else, today’s buying conditions are close to ideal– some of today’s best properties can be purchased for even less than the cost of building would be. If you are in the market, contact me to investigate the latest deals now being offered. You can reach me on my cell phone at 812-499-9234.
Thursday, January 03 2013
The Indiana Association of Realtors is reporting increases in November closed home sales. The organization says that number jumped 26.2 percent, compared to the same month in 2011. The average sale price throughout the state increased 5.1 percent.
The Indiana Real Estate Markets Report today released by the state’s REALTORS® shows that statewide, when comparing November 2012 to November 2011, the following occurred:
• The number of closed home sales increased 26.2 percent to 5,566,
“Home sales continued to increase through the end of November suggesting that Hoosiers’ belief in homeownership remains strong as the year comes to a close,” said Karl Berron, Chief Executive Officer of the Indiana Association of REALTORS®. “But the biggest story of today’s report and perhaps the whole year is that homes have not only held their value, but also made price gains.”
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. November 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 17 consecutive months,
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.
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 http://www.insideindianabusiness.com/newsitem.asp?ID=57258