Real Estate Blog
Tuesday, February 17 2015
The foreclosure situation is a good deal different from what we were discussing a few years ago when the tidal wave of 7.3 million foreclosures and short sales swept the nation. When The New York Times “Dealbook” recently pronounced that the supply of cheap foreclosed homes in America is dwindling, it came as news to…well, no one.
Let’s face it: investors wouldn’t need to look up the latest statistics to guess that number of offerings would be down. The continuing rebound in home values, slow but steady improvement in the overall economic picture, and even just the passage of time has to mean that the glut of subprime-crisis-era foreclosures would have worked their way through the system.
But there are always new foreclosures, and for anyone hoping to make a bargain buy in today’s foreclosure market, the same qualities that brought post-crisis success still apply today:
- Knowledge of (or willingness to research) comparable neighborhood values
- Realistic appreciation of rehabilitation costs
- Decisiveness (willingness to act swiftly)
- Ready access to investment capital
The principal difference in today’s foreclosure milieu is that far fewer are available, and the difference between market value and listing price has narrowed. There may be fewer competitors to worry about, but some are still out there, as always. Today sees fewer institutional investors—in fact, some are leaving the market altogether, taking their profits and selling out to groups more committed to long-term property management.
Aside from the qualities described, there is still no blanket formula for landing the best foreclosure deal. But among other observations, there are two that are worth considering.
First, despite the lessening of the impact institutional investors previously had on the market, it may still be necessary to prepare to offer more than the listed price. The dwindling number of foreclosed homes tends to create an imbalance between supply and demand. If other buyers are offering higher amounts than the asking price, it can easily result in a bidding war situation. As always, by researching underlying values, the best investors avoid foreclosure buys that wind up being little more than break-even propositions.
Another wrinkle to be aware of is the possibility of future cost increases. For instance, it can transpire that an investor succeeds in purchasing a property significantly below its true value, only to find that a reassessment by taxing authorities raises its property tax bill through the roof! Canny investors prevent this surprise by finding out how the local Assessor’s office sets rates and schedules appraisals.
The foreclosure picture changes constantly. If you are interested in the investment possibilities—or are looking for a buy on your next home—don’t hesitate to give me a call to discuss the latest offerings! You can reach me on my cell phone: 812-499-9234 or email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Monday, February 16 2015
Just about any investor on the lookout for a promising rental property has a number of assumed criteria in mind—often arrived at without bothering to sit down to list them. Remember, this is already a successful individual, usually with ample business experience—and always with the financial acumen to be able to make a substantial investment. For them, creating a written decision matrix really isn’t necessary.
Still, there’s a lot of literature on the web offering opinions on what are the most commonly agreed-upon factors for choosing a rental property. Quite a few “Top 10”s. Going over them, it turns out that some are only slight variations on a single theme, so I’ve boiled them down to a “Top Six.”
The first one is barely ever mentioned. It’s this:
- Most investors have predetermined the price range that his or her rental property must fall into, but that can turn out to be a false step. If the goal is to garner the maximum return, it’s possible that some humbly-priced rental properties can actually turn a greater annual profit—even in absolute dollars—than some higher-end homes (particularly those that suffer extended periods without suitable higher-end tenants). So Number 1 is SET YOUR INVESTMENT GOAL. Cash flow return can be a very different goal than long term property appreciation.
- LOCATION LOCATION LOCATION. This is the one that combines a half dozen factors, variously listed as Neighborhood, Proximity to Jobs, Amenities (parks, malls, gyms, movie theaters, public transportation hubs, etc.), Crime, Schools, and even Property Taxes. This factor might be chosen for convenience, as when a rental property investor wishes to be able to supervise the property; or for an expectation of value appreciation in an area which is gaining popularity. As everyone has had heard from time immemorial, L.L.L. is always important!
- HEALTH OF THE PROPERTY. If the underlying structure and mechanicals have been intelligently designed and well maintained, this one is of no importance. If not, a thorough inspection with top-grade recommendations and cost projections is a must.
- VACANCY RATES. The number of rental homes listed and the number of vacancies should be considered highly important for determining a promising rental property. In newly expanding communities, sometimes you can spot a man parked near an intersection, clicking away on a counter as the autos pass by. He’s measuring traffic to see if the volume is great enough to support a gas station, or market, or mini-mall. The turnover of rental listings—how long rental properties stay vacant from week to week—can provide guidance about the same kind of information.
- COMPETITIVE MARKET. The average rent amounts advertised for comparable properties can be the decisive factor for whether a rental home investment makes financial sense.
Of course, another factor that can make a big difference is the experience level of your Realtor®. That’s actually key factor #6—and (I hope) where I come in! You can call me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email: Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com so we can discuss your real estate needs.
Wednesday, January 28 2015
Despite the improving economic outlook, for many families, finding an affordable house can still be a challenge. According to a study by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University, more than a third of today’s families have had to devote at least 30% of their combined household income to the monthly mortgage payment—and that figure exceeds the generally accepted standard. In other words, even though mortgage interest rates remain pegged at historically low levels, landing an “affordable” house (just as in the rest of the country) can take some doing. Here is one five-step approach that has rewarded house-hunters in the past:
1. Define Affordable House in dollars
The first step to finding an affordable house should be to work out a target budget. The Wall Street Journal currently recommends spending no more than 28% of monthly income on your house). Make sure to include additional fees such as legal fees, repairs, maintenance, and closing costs in your calculation. The bottom line you come up with isn’t one set in stone, but it’s a reasonable goal to have in mind.
2. Set space requirements
Space will be a prime consideration for the entire time you'll be living in your home. If you are planning on expanding the family in the near future, having a spare room is close to a necessity. If it's just something that would be nice to have, it’s not a requirement—and recognizing the distinction can be all-important.
3. Balance travel time against housing costs
Often you can offset the purchase price of a home by expanding your search radius to include a reasonable commute. Get out your pencil: you'll need to compare the savings in the house payment against the additional cost of an extended commute.
4. Include properties that need some TLC
One of the best ways to zero in on an affordable house is to keep an eye out for otherwise-eligible "fixer-uppers." You can avoid any serious structural problems, such as plumbing, electrical, and roof issues, yet still focus on properties that just need a little cosmetic revamp can put you across the affordability finish line.
5. Investigate home buying programs
In a limited number of instances, there are some generally underpublicized home buying programs that might be available. For instance, there is the Good Neighbor Next Door program. For teachers, medical professionals, firefighters, and law enforcement officers looking in revitalization areas, as much as a 50% discount from a HUD-listed property can make a house more than affordable!
Most observers believe residential prices are likely to continue to rise—so it’s not outlandish to suspect that today’s affordable houses may become less so as time passes. Give me a call if you are thinking of taking advantage of this winter’s bargains in our area. You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email: Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Monday, January 19 2015
Good investors tend to be cautious souls. For those who prior to 2007 had never ventured into the realm of real estate investments, the ensuing downturn might have been enough to discourage any curiosity about that direction (even if their other investments had also suffered during the global financial crisis).
Nonetheless, at this juncture those same cautious investors might well assume that the value of real estate investments have rebounded so substantially that it’s now too late to bother looking into them. But as National Public Radio has just pointed out, there's an excellent argument to be made that conditions are now highly conducive for real estate—with real estate investments being no exception. I could tick off three solid reasons that immediately leap to mind, but stand corrected: NPR points to four:
1. Employment. Employers are hiring anew, and “when companies are hiring, would-be homebuyers feel more confident about taking on mortgage debt.” Unemployment rates have (finally!) come down to 5.6%, and with employers having added 252,000 jobs in December, consumer confidence is up nearly 20% over a year ago.
2. Prices seem more rational. NPR points out that from January to October, prices rose 4.5% nationally; a “subdued” gain compared with the 11% burst of the year before. They project that the slower price appreciation may have set the stage for a “buying surge in 2015.” From a local real estate investments standpoint, too, gains from last year’s run-up in equities markets combined with mortgage rates still holding below 4% would seem to create the key elements many investors would consider favorably.
3. Demand for rentals is high. There is a healthy demand for rental accommodation across the country due to a tight supply of quality accommodations. USA Today tells us that between 2009 and 2013, the national vacancy rate for apartments dropped from 8% to 4.1%. Over the same period, the effective rent increased by 12% to $1,083. As one potential consequence vis-à-vis real estate investments, new landlords might expect to be more selective about the tenants that they choose. That would mean fewer headaches for landlords with troublesome and slow paying tenants. It is might also portend that investment properties will stand vacant for briefer periods.
4. Millennials are sick of Mom’s basement. NPR points to a Census Bureau report that says only 36% of Americans under age 35 own a home, down from 42% just seven years ago. The recovering employment picture might not enable young people to save up for a down payment for a while yet, but renting quality digs should soon be more doable than was previously the case. That could set the table for a continuing robust rental environment, with real estate investments benefitting proportionately.
NPR’s four reasons for optimism in 2015 are actually only the tip of the iceberg. If you have ever had the thought that it could be worthwhile to take a look at real estate investments, this is a great time of year to give me a call! You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email:Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Wednesday, December 17 2014
Market Watch December 2014
I realize that Thanksgiving has passed us this year but I wanted to mention several real estate specific results and other factors for which we should all be thankful.
Although 2014 is not yet finished, our local market is certain to close more real estate volume than we did in 2013 and that is on top of the huge recovery we made in 2012. In fact, our multiple listing service will close more dollar volume in sales than the previous year for the 4th consecutive year and sales volume will be 36% higher than it was in 2010. In addition, our average sales price has increased 6.2% this year and will be a whopping 15% higher than it was in 2010.
I believe that this slow, but steady, recovery is a result of both increased consumer confidence and a similar slow, but gradually improving job environment. The housing market is tied directly to qualified homeowners. A job is the first step in qualification and with over 300,000 net new jobs created last month, I’m confident that some will soon be first time buyers.
Another positive development is that the Federal Housing Finance Authority recently issued new more clear rules which will allow lenders to be more confident about the types of residential mortgage loans they make. I expect more buyers will qualify for loans in the future than the recent past. Clearly this helps the housing market.
From a strictly local perspective, I’m very excited about the new convention hotel and the Medical Center coming to Southwest Indiana. Both of these projects will provide a significant economic boost to our area for years to come. All of these give me plenty of reasons to be thankful and optimistic about real estate.
Finally, I can’t wait to give you a taste of what’s coming in January! Although FCTuckerEmge.com is already the area’s dominant real estate website we are launching a newer upgraded FCTuckerEmge.com next month. The enhanced site will have bigger, brighter pictures, a really cool mapping function and lots of other features I’m sure you will like.
Kathy and I extend our best wishes for a joyous holiday season.
Monday, December 01 2014
You’re at home watching TV and trying to unwind, when all of a sudden here comes another baby boomer celebrity, looking into the camera, giving you his most sincere, trustworthy look, then assuring you that a “Reverse Mortgage” really isn’t too good to be true (even though it sounds like it is).
What could be better? Any homeowner 62 or older can apply: then the bank pays you instead of the other way around! You could even use part of the tax-free proceeds to pay off the other mortgage! Or go to Monte Carlo and break the bank! (The trustworthy celebrity only hints at that one). You don’t have to pay back the loan until blah blah blah, the property remains yours, etc. etc. etc. What could go wrong?
Short answer: quite a lot, actually.
Long answer: if you don’t plan for the long term consequences, this can be a potentially disastrous maneuver. As a quick and painless way to raise cash, it often is too good to be true.
For openers, the actual name of this loan is not ‘reverse mortgage’— it’s an HECM, Home Equity Conversion Mortgage—a much more descriptive name. It allows 62+-year-olds to ‘cash out’ the equity they’ve built in their home. Not all of the equity; just some. As soon as they no longer live in the home, the loan must be repaid in full. The problems are all in the details.
Detail 1: Payback
Suppose a husband and wife live in a house owned by the husband. He applies for reverse mortgage, dies 11 years later, leaving the house to his wife. Because the reverse mortgage becomes payable when the mortgagee (the husband) “leaves” the property, the loan becomes due and payable. So the spouse may be forced to sell the home in order to repay the loan. But it’s also possible that the same thing occurs when the mortgagee is permanently relocated to a nursing home.
Detail 2 (and it’s one you really have to take into account): Interest
Most often, no payments are made on reverse mortgages. Unless the trip to Monte Carlo ended well, it’s likely that the balance owed remains. However, interest accrues on the loan at the “prevailing rate”—which may be a misnomer, because reverse mortgage interest rates are often high. Over the long run, the amount owed could eat up most of the value of the house. The spouse could be left with very little to live on.
While the fees charged for a reverse mortgage are capped by the government, they’re still much higher than those for traditional loans (possibly why the trustworthy boomer celebrity got involved in the first place). Because credit scores aren’t used to determine eligibility, higher fees are charged to help cover lender risk. Then there are requirements for keeping up the property (what if illness causes a temporary lack of attention?), paying taxes on time…and other circumstances that could cause the loan to be called in, forcing sale of the home.
Yes, a reverse mortgage can be a valuable resource for some retirees on limited incomes. However, before even thinking about committing, it’s vital to sit down with a trusted financial adviser. If it turns out that selling or downsizing makes a lot more sense, calling me is the next step! You can reach me on my cell phone: 812-499-9234 or email: Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Tuesday, November 25 2014
If you had to come up with a single characteristic that the most effective home listings have in common, there are several good candidates:
A really well-crafted listing catches your eye with superior photography, for sure. But that’s not possible with every property. Good photographers know how to select the best angles, use light effectively, and eliminate distracting details (or at least downplay them). But since all homes aren’t equally photogenic, there are built-in limits to how even the most skillful listing creator can count on visuals to make a listing stand out.
Careful attention to detail is common in superior listings. The best listings don’t skimp on the details, or on brief adjectives that further enhance them—especially when they serve to differentiate a home from the pack. You can test this for yourself by scanning through some of today’s listings in Evansville. The best ones often have one or two relatively insignificant details that give a property character; that make it memorable. “Spacious walk-in closet” may not be nearly as important as “completely remodeled kitchen,” but for a certain number of prospective buyers, that can turn out to be the one detail that strikes a responsive chord (and creates a mental note to check this one out!).
Descriptions that employ proven advertising principles almost always make superior listings. One standby: arouse curiosity (headline writers are experts at this). An example might be “Brick barbecue center.” ‘What the heck is that?’ prospective buyers will ask themselves. Even if outdoor cooking isn’t even on their list of priorities, they might not be able to resist scheduling a home tour to find out…and sometimes a buyer is created!
But if I had to pick the one single characteristic most likely to be found in truly effective local listings, it would be this: The best listings in some way tell a story—add character to the cold facts. They stand out from other listings by engaging more of the reader’s imagination than others which are merely an illustrated bunch of data.
The ‘story’ may be a phrase that hints at a property’s interesting past: its historical origin or that of the neighborhood; a prominent previous owner; or an unusual construction history. For a fixer-upper, the story might be an expansive invitation to imagine how a creative Do-It-Yourselfer will be able to transform the property. For a luxury listing, the story might be an appeal to experience the full array of lavish trappings as the suitable reward for the accomplishments of a lifetime. The story may be fleshed out or merely hinted at by a well-worded phrase—but when listings contain the elements of a story, they add memorability.
Creating a stand-out listing is only one of the many elements that go into a successful home-selling campaign. I hope you will give me a call when it comes time to get your own home into the hands of a new owner! You can reach me on my cell phone: 812-499-9234 or email: Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Monday, November 24 2014
For anyone who has looked into to buying a home several times—but kept getting discouraged every time because of a negative credit report—read on!
You probably already know that you are not alone—but so what?—it’s small consolation, especially when you consider how much financial ground you lose every year you continue to pay rent (the entire amount of which has zero tax deductibility). Many people mishandle credit in their teens and 20s, not knowing how it can come back to bite them when credit reports determine their credit worthiness. We see the fallout in the form of mortgage application turndowns or discouraging interest rate proposals.
But that just makes it all the more important that you stop letting past errors continue to keep you from getting the loans and rates you want. You can choose to take action now to clean up that credit score. Not only will it speed the moment when you become eligible for the significant benefits of home ownership—the actions you take now will serve to set you in the driver seat when it comes to credit management. You will become aware of any apparently minor oversights that can depress your credit score for years to come. It will put you ‘in the game’ of credit report management, instead of continuing to be a passive outsider.
Steps consumers can take now:
Review your credit file for accurate information
The credit reporting bureaus’ job is to report the most accurate information possible, but in the past the Federal Trade Commission has found that 5% of reports have at least one mistake. Get your current credit report from any number of services (start with a free one: you can always subscribe to a paid service later). Check all the accounts and verify that the amounts reported and the account statuses are correct. If a creditor reported your information incorrectly, file a dispute through the credit bureaus’ online sites to get the inaccuracy fixed. The same FTC report says that 13% of consumers who reported an error saw a boost in their credit score.
Get old negative accounts removed
Credit reports carry negative information like missed payments or a collection account for seven years, but are required to delete it after that. If an account is lingering past the seven year mark, use the dispute tools available on credit bureaus’ websites to mark the account as too old for reporting. Note that the seven-year time period is calculated from the date of first delinquency, not the date the account was first opened.
Talk to collection companies about their input
Even when you pay off collection accounts, that history continues to hurt your credit score. Some lenders look solely at those details when starting the process, so even paid collections can disqualify you for a loan. Instead of dealing with this frustrating problem, while you are negotiating with collection agencies to pay off a debt, ask that they put in writing that they will remove their report as part of their part of the bargain for your satisfaction of the debt. Some agencies will and some won’t (but it can’t hurt to ask).
Once you have acted, and begun to see the negatives dropping off your current credit report, your path to local home ownership will open up markedly. Then it’s time to give me a call! You can reach me on my cell phone: 812-499-9234 or email:Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Thursday, October 30 2014
You’re about to close a deal to become a tenant. The landlord seems like a straight shooter and the place is a joy: immaculate and welcoming. Now all that’s left is to wait for the landlord’s okay after an evaluation of you as the new tenant, right?
Well, not quite. Just as the landlord should check financial or job references as part of their due diligence, you have some to perform for your own benefit. It’s up to you to assess the landlord’s system to determine whether this rental arrangement is the good fit you hope it is. Only by asking pertinent questions can you decide whether the landlord’s management style and expectations align with your needs.
1. Do you offer emergency maintenance services?
When a plumbing leak becomes uncontrollable or the heater goes out on a cold winter night, you need maintenance assistance quickly. Find out how quickly your landlord can respond—and how readily he or she answers. An experienced landlord is familiar with the inevitability of maintenance emergencies—and isn’t surprised (or put off) by the question. A great landlord is confident of the system he or she has put in place!
2. What are my maintenance responsibilities?
Lease language can be less than precise about the tenant’s responsibilities—most often when it comes to outdoor areas. A lease might vaguely state that the tenant is responsible for general lawn maintenance. Ask your landlord to pinpoint the specifics, and jot down notes that you can refer to later. Some landlords might expect mowing the lawn and weeding planted areas; others might expect you to attend to more, such as lawn treatments. Finding out your landlord’s specific expectations will give you a sense of the upkeep requirements for your end. It can’t help but minimize the possibility of any future conflict.
3. Is there a homeowners association?
As a rental tenant, most likely you won’t be responsible for any homeowners association dues. However, you might be subject to its rules and regulations. For example, if the association has strict lawn care requirements and you are responsible for garden maintenance, you should know about those details. If your landlord answers yes to this question, ask for a copy of the association rules.
4. What are my responsibilities before I vacate the property?
It’s not being overly negative to bring up the subject of the end of your tenancy. When you move out of a rental home, you want to leave the property in good condition so that you are not hit with any charges—or see your security deposit disappear without good reason. Find out if your landlord has any specific requirements, such as professional carpet cleaning or filling the holes in the wall.
5. How do I contact you on nights and weekends?
Problems with your rental unit do not always occur Monday to Friday, 9 to 5. By asking your landlord for contact information during non-business hours, you get a sense of how accessible he or she is. If he or she willingly gives you a cellphone number, you’ve probably found a landlord who will be easy to work with— and easy to track down should problems arise!
My work as a Realtor® lets me help set the stage for tenants and landlords to create a mutually beneficial relationship. If you are looking to purchase an income property taking advantage of this fall’s very favorable terms, don’t hesitate to give me a call! You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email: Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Tuesday, October 21 2014
Despite what just feels like the right answer, buying a home in Evansville can be significantly cheaper than renting one. It’s one of those rare cases where, if you stop and make common sense judgments about the factors at play, the ‘just feels like’ conclusion is the opposite of the one common sense leads you to. Much of the reason has to do with short-term versus long-term considerations (buying a home starts with paying a sizeable down payment, after all); but over the long haul, the amount of cash at stake is so great it’s worth taking a hard look at this fundamental housing choice.
Four leading factors that currently come into play:
· Increased Demand Has Made Rentals More Expensive
After the subprime mortgage mess-between 2007 and 2013—something like 6,200,000 people were added to the number of tenants. That boost created enough extra demand for rental units that owners had no trouble increasing monthly rates. It’s a simple case of too little supply chased by too much demand.
· Low Interest Rates Make Homes Cheaper in the Long-Run
The current unusually low interest rates makes the tradeoff with renting an easier call. This fall, home buyers can expect to find 30 year mortgage packages at rates in the low 4% range. If interest rates rise considerably—which just about everyone expects—rental rates can be expected to rise proportionately as landlords cover the added expense. But those who buy a home lock in the lower interest rate: the ‘price of money!’
- Buying a Home Yields Predictable Cash Flow
When you buy a home, your mortgage comes with a repayment schedule that shows you exactly how much you are required to pay each month until the end of the loan’s term. With a fixed rate mortgage, the monthly payment amount is an iron-clad guarantee of what you will need to budget. With a fixed rate loan, the dollar amount will usually stay the same (or even fall as the mortgage nears its end). Conversely, unless a major change occurs in the rental market, rental prices will continue going up. And the common sense of consumers knows what to expect, reflected in last month’s Mortgage Reports headline:
“Consumers Expect Rents to Rise 2x Faster Than Home Prices in 2015”
· Buying is a Long-Term Investment for Stability
In addition to the price rise factor, renters will have to keep paying rent for a lifetime—while homeowners eventually get to stop making mortgage payments. Anyone buying a home in their 30’s can expect to have paid for it before they reach retirement. That’s very good news, because their living expenses will go down around the same time they start making less money. In contrast, renting just keeps getting more expensive…which can put extra financial pressure on retirees.
If you find yourself on the cusp of renting or buying a home in Evansville, today’s rates should weigh heavily in your decision. If you find that it makes financial sense to buy, the next step is easy: give me a call! You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email: Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Friday, October 17 2014
Market Watch October 2014
I have a lot of interesting information and statistics for this month’s Market Watch, but before I start that discussion I think I should share some basic real estate concepts. First, basic economic concepts apply to real estate. For example, increased supply results in decreased demand, which lowers prices. Conversely decreased supply results in increased demand, which increases prices. The catch to this basic principle is that other factors such as the general state of the economy, the job market, interest rates and consumer optimism also affect prices as well as buyers and sellers desire to buy or sell homes. With this most basic background let’s now explore some interesting trends in the market.
First, according to The Wall Street Journal, new home sales (as opposed to previously owned homes) were at their highest level in August since May of 2008. These sales were up 33% compared to August of last year. Although this is clearly good news, I think we should view this in context of very low new home construction over the past few years. Good numbers in August suggest full year totals of between 400,000 and 450,000 new home sales for all of 2014. Although this is clearly an improvement from less than 250,000 sales a few years ago, it still falls far short of the 1 million new homes that sold at the height of the real estate boom. Increased new home sales have left only a 4.8 month supply of new homes on the market.
A second fact, according to RIS Media, is that prices increased for the 30th consecutive month when compared to the previous year. This statistic seems pretty clear. Home prices continue to rise at what has remained a pretty steady pace. The median price of a home nationwide is now $219,000.
My third fact, again according to RIS Media is that in the 2nd quarter of 2014, 950,000 homes returned to a positive equity situation, meaning that these homes are now worth more than the outstanding mortgage balance on those homes. As you may recall, when the real estate market was adversely affected by the last recession many homes nationwide lost value and owners owed more in mortgage loans that their homes were worth. RIS claims that as of today, 14.9% of homes nationwide are still in a negative equity situation but that represents 2 million fewer homes underwater than just a year ago.
I think we can draw several conclusions from this data. First, the real estate market is on sound ground and continues to improve. Second, new home construction continues to recover. Third, prices continue to rise slowly. And finally inventory levels are still lower than normal and there is demand for more listings.
All of the information in this month’s Market Watch is national data although I believe that the same trends I’ve just discussed apply locally. As is always the case with real estate, demand and price for homes is always specific to one individual home. Please give me a call if you would like to discuss the value of your house or the home you are considering buying. You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email: Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
If you want to do some research before we talk, the most accurate information on our local real estate market is always at FCTuckerEmge.com.
Thursday, October 16 2014
Having a home for sale as autumn swings into full bloom has more than one advantage. First off, this is definitely not looky-loo season—the majority of home shoppers this time of year tend to be serious-minded (perhaps because many are hoping to be comfortably moved in by the holidays). Whatever the reason, because many other owners will wait until spring to put up their own home for sale, if you are listing now, you can usually count on a narrower amount of competition.
A subtler reason why fall is an exciting season to put up a home for sale has to do with what can be a presentation advantage—the same reason home décor professionals like this time of year. It’s the Autumn Advantage: a time of year loaded with eye-catching decorating ideas. When the leaves start to change, it’s time to take advantage of the autumnal decorations that can make any home for sale extra inviting.
- Pumpkins aren’t Just for Jack-o’-Lanterns
Modern Man may have cracked the atom and devised telescopes that can see to the very edge of the Universe, but it has still failed to come up with a way to spruce up a home for fall without adding a pumpkin or two. Why fight it? There are a thousand ways to use the ubiquitous squash in arresting placements. One example is to cut a generous hole in the top, then drop a fall-appropriately planted pot (think gold, red, orange and brown) through it, flowers and all. This “pumpkin plant pot” can work to add color both inside and outside any home for sale.
· Re-purpose an old Window
Where a rustic touch is appropriate, another autumnal planter idea is to find a discarded wooden window (the more thoroughly weathered, the better: decorators call it ‘up-cycling’), secure a potted plant to it, then hang it on the wall in place of a family picture (remember: when you have a home for sale, it’s recommended to remove as many of the personal mementos as possible). This “outside inside” décor trick creates a seasonal feel you can add to by embellishing further with dried leaves and berries.
· Scents of Autumn
Using scents can be central to fall decorating. These seasonal aromas can be counted upon to trigger positive memories for the visitors to your home. Scented candles are an appropriate way to add ambiance to your house. You can go further by tying cinnamon sticks around your candles, or adding a few drops of clove and cinnamon oil to your potpourri or fall arrangements (just don’t overdo it)!
· Fall: a Season for Comfort
If you’re thinking warm fires, plump cushions and plush throws to emphasize the coziness of the season, you’ll make it happen. A comfortable home highlighted with fall colors sets a scene that boosts the beauty of a home for sale unlike any other time of the year.
Whether you have already listed your home for sale, or are just now setting the stage, give me a call to put together a marketing blitz that will use the season to make that sale happen! You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Tuesday, September 23 2014
AUGUST HOME SALES BEHIND PACE SET IN 2013, AHEAD OF FIVE YEARS PRIOR
Prices better than last year and continue to lead housing performance statewide
(INDIANAPOLIS, IN) – There were just 276 less homes sold statewide in August than during the same month of last year, a 3.6 percent decrease; however, last month's home sales outpaced the five years prior to 2013. This is according to the Indiana Real Estate Markets Report today released by the state's REALTORS®.
August home sale prices were better than last year. The median sale price of $130,000 is a 4.0 percent increase from 2013, and the average of $159,846 is a 6.1 percent increase.
Other year-over-year comparisons from the report show -
- The number of pending home sales increased 4.4 percent to 6,889
- The percent of original list price received increased 1.6 percent to 94.2
- The number of new listings decreased 6.7 percent to 10,327
- The inventory of homes for sale increased 4.8 percent to 47,901
"Activity may fall a bit short of the impressive levels it reached last year, but housing has performed much stronger altogether than predicted the first of the year, with prices leading the charge," said Karl Berron, CEO of the Indiana Association of REALTORS®.
"It's encouraging to see second quarter GDP growth revised upwards and stronger-than-expected jobs numbers in recent months," continued Berron. "Wage growth is the fuel necessary for recovery to really take off."
Friday, September 12 2014
Selling an elderly or deceased relative’s home can be one of the most selfless tasks anyone is ever called upon to do—and not just because it’s hard to let go of a place that has so many loved ones’ memories. What frequently adds to the emotional component is the condition of the house. Although your Aunt Elda might have loved the shag carpeting and the harvest gold kitchen appliances, those features can be counted on to turn off today’s typical home buyer. Bearing in mind that selling a home is first and foremost a business proposition, it’s frequently necessary to apply a few quick fixes to transform the storehouse of one family’s cherished memories into an appealing place destined to house another’s.
Ask: What Dates the House?
If a house reminds prospects of grandma’s place, unless they’re in a determinedly DIY frame of mind, they’ll move on to the next property on their list. Don’t let them overlook the many positive features of the house just because of a few old fashioned details. Scout out items that make the house look dated—and clear them out of there! Remove worn or discolored carpeting, then either replace with a bound carpet remnant or two, or leave the floors exposed. Selling a home can hinge on a few minor things like replacing old cabinet knobs and light fixtures with more modern versions, or repainting walls in neutral colors.
Replace Kitchen Appliances
Our elders may have drilled into us the wisdom that it’s wasteful to get rid of perfectly good appliances, but homebuyers may not be swayed. For selling a home in today’s market, replacing appliances can be an easy way to inject new life into an old kitchen (even if the rest of the kitchen will need further updating by its new owner). But before splurging on any appliances, consult your real estate agent about what type of appliances buyers expect in this price range. If the place could make a perfect starter home for a young family, inexpensive white appliances might be just as strategic as the stainless steel models.
Or…Embrace the Vintage Charm!
Realistically, sometimes it would take too much money to update an inherited house. If that’s the case (and time is not an issue), turn the problem into a positive by embracing the house’s vintage charm! Old is just the wrong way of viewing antique…and one person’s dated can be another’s classic. If you’re dealing with a home that could double as a set for TV’s “Mad Men,” consider playing up the ‘60s theme with furniture, curtains and even vintage magazines you find at thrift stores or yard sales. Kiplinger.com finds that today’s buyers particularly appreciate eat-in kitchens—so why not add a period-appropriate dinette set to emphasize that space? But don’t forget to thoroughly clean carpeting, curtains and other items that may hold odors. Selling a home may mean capturing the look of a bygone era—but never the smell!
A dated family home will sell faster and appeal to more buyers when you’re willing to make the right strategic changes. Spending just a little time and money can transform an overlooked house into one that demands a second look—that invites a new family to make it the site for another lifetime of memories.
Thinking of selling a home in the Evansville this fall? Calling me today for a price assessment is a solid first step! You can call me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Thursday, September 11 2014
You’ve successfully located the home that fits your wish list! The listing agent says the home is in “great condition!” Financing is pretty much a done deal! Time to relax!
Er—maybe not just yet.
When you are buying a home, among the scores of thoughts that might be racing through your head (“Is this the best one for the money?” “Will everyone be comfortable in it?” “Will it be enough house over the long haul?”), one you definitely don’t need is “Will this house become a money pit?”
The home that looks perfect may well be exactly that—but if not, you certainly don’t want to find yourself pouring hard-earned dollars into repairs that become apparent only after you have signed. Surprises are fine for birthday parties, but to avoid the sort no home buyer needs, getting a professional property inspection is the most direct way to tell if there are any significant underlying issues.
To alleviate the worry, you should make any offer conditional on a home inspection…then order up a professional property inspection done by an experienced home inspector.
When a home inspector arrives at the property, he or she will invite you along on the tour. However, you don’t have to accompany the inspector to some of the less-accessible areas like the roof, attic and crawl spaces (unless you want to). The inspector will likely start outside, checking for any suspicious areas that may allow water to penetrate, then move indoors for a thorough investigation of each room in the house. As the inspection moves along, definitely feel free to ask questions as they crop up: after all, inspector works for you!
It’s important to remember that any property inspection is not 100% certain to uncover every possible defect: a home inspector, no matter how experienced, is not clairvoyant. But you will receive a thoroughgoing assessment of the potential likely problems with the home’s systems—as well as an opinion on the condition of the home. You may be able to renegotiate your offer should conditions warrant it.
Property inspection costs tend to differ depending on the size and condition of the home, and usually take anywhere from 2 to 6 hours to complete. Often, the verbal assessment made at the time will be very informative. Later, you’ll get the fuller detailed written report. If the inspection reveals a deal-breaking flaw, you will have saved yourself from a bad investment. Less commonly, more detailed property inspections could be in order—especially if you are also ordering sewer line, pool, fireplace or other specific inspections. Most inspectors offer discounted rates if subsequent inspections are in order.
Property inspections are not intended to offer warrantees or guarantees, but an experienced home inspection is the next best thing. It’s something most homebuyers find makes their purchase a lot less stressful. If you’re looking at buying a home in the Evansville area this fall, call me today to discuss the market. And once you find a likely new home, I can recommend several of our most experienced and reliable property inspectors. You can reach me on my cell phone at 812-499-9234 or email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Wednesday, September 10 2014
Residents don’t have to have children at home to know when we’ve gone through the familiar back-to-school rituals. Just turn on a radio or TV, step into a retail store, or drive past a school and the calls to educational muster are evident. At the same time, it’s hard not to be reminded how significant education is when it comes to home buying—how likely it is for schools to be on the forefront of many buyers’ minds.
Most people know intuitively that top-notch schools carry significant weight in the searching and home buying processes—but the result of a survey done by realtor.com has spelled it out in black-and-white. Their research reveals that more than 60% of buyers consider school district boundaries during their home buying process. It’s a surprisingly weighty number.
The depth of interest that buyers registered was also illuminating. The same survey uncovered the fact that prospective homebuyers are willing to spend more—and give up other features—in exchange for a house located in a preferred school district. For example, many buyers said that they are ready to ignore access to shopping malls and parks to be in a district where their preferred school is located.
Prospective buyers are likely to also factor in the impact the same phenomenon could have on a property’s resale value down the line. That could be part of the reason why more than 23% of respondents said that are willing to pay 1-5% over their budget to be in a preferred school district boundary. Another 20% said they would pay 6-10 % above budget, while 9% would pay as much as 11-20% more!
When queried about which factors weigh most heavily on their home buying preferences, over 90% said that school district boundaries are either “important” or “somewhat important.” Only 7.4% said that school districts are “unimportant” or “very unimportant,” while 2% classified them as “neutral.”
This level of unanimity should be of interest to anyone about to embark on their own home buying expedition—whether or not they have children of their own. It’s hard to ignore the proposition that when you go to resell a house in the future, its school district may carry the same importance to home buyers down the line. If today’s buyers give such importance to school district boundaries, it may not pay (to borrow Wall Street’s famous phrase) to “fight the tape.” In any case, it always pays to ask questions, do some neighborhood research—and to call me when you’re looking to buy or sell in Evansville! You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Thursday, August 28 2014
(INDIANAPOLIS, IN) – There were 60 less homes sold statewide in July than during the same month of last year. This is according to the Indiana Real Estate Markets Report today released by the state's REALTORS®.
However, the median price of the 7,803 homes sold last month ($132,000) is 1.5 percent higher than the median price of homes sold in July 2013. The average price of those same homes ($159,032) is also 1.5 percent higher. And, the number of pending home sales in July is 4.8 percent higher, possibly pointing to a stronger-than-expected late summer and early fall.
"After double-digit increases in closed sales for all of last year, it would be easy to get discouraged by recent year-over-year comparisons," said Kevin Eastridge, 2014 President of the Indiana Association of REALTORS® and Owner/Managing Broker of the Evansville-based F.C. Tucker Emge REALTORS®. "When you look farther back, you see that housing activity statewide is actually on par with 2007, proving that local markets truly have stabilized."
Year-to-date comparisons from the report show -
- The number of closed home sales decreased 5.4 percent to 42,466
- The median sale price of those homes ($125,000) is 2.5 percent higher
- The average sale price ($150,842) is 3.9 percent higher
- The percent of original list price received increased 1.5 percent to 93.3 percent
- The number of pending home sales decreased 2.7 percent to 44,561
- The number of new listings decreased 3.8 percent to 73,036
"Potential sellers should be motivated by the pricing figures in today's report and should also understand conditions could soon change with newly constructed homes presenting a competitive hurdle and economists predicting interest rates will rise in 2015," continued Eastridge. "At the end of the day, housing is always dependent on job creation, wage growth, and credit availability. Provided the economy and the lending environment continue on their current paths, IAR members expect for this report to be about the same for the next few months."
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.
Wednesday, August 27 2014
Market Watch August 2014
The biggest news story in national real estate this past month has been the announcement of the merger between Zillow and Trulia. Many consumers are familiar with both firms, but in case you are not, let me tell you a little about these companies. Both companies are real estate advertising portals. Many potential buyers and sellers visit these sites, under the impression that they are the best sites to visit to find a home to buy. Zillow is ranked first and Trulia second in real estate internet traffic followed by Realtor.com in third place.
I am certainly not privy to either Zillow or Trulia’s plans but both have publicly stated that they have no intention of actually selling or listing homes. Their goal is to generate enough traffic to sell advertising and leads, primarily to Realtors. If these companies don’t actually sell real estate one might wonder why they get so much traffic. Zillow is famous, at least in part, for it’s “Zestimates”. In theory, Zestimates are estimated values for specific homes. Theoretically anyone can go online, enter an address and get the value of that home. Unfortunately, even by Zillow’s own admission, many of their Zestimates are significantly inaccurate. Both Zillow and Trulia obtain information displayed on their sites from many different sources, some accurate, others not so much. Sometimes information is updated promptly and accurately and other times it is significantly out of date and wildly inaccurate.
I am not trying to tell anyone not to visit a particular site. I am, however, very comfortable giving sound, accurate advice on local real estate websites. If you are looking for homes listed for sale in this part of the world there is no site that is more accurate or up to date than FCTuckerEmge.com
Our site is designed to make shopping for homes as easy as possible without gimmicks or outdated, inaccurate information. If you want to know the value of your home, ask me. A website that has never seen your home, sold a home or visited your neighborhood will not be as accurate as a trained professional. Please feel free to call or email me if you are interested to receive the market analysis of your home. You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email at Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Try to stay cool and enjoy the remainder of your summer.
Monday, July 28 2014
Market Watch July 2014
The halfway point of the year is a good time to see where we are this year compared to last year. Before we look at this year compared to last I think it is important to remember how strong last year was. Both unit sales and dollar volume increased over 21% last year. This was by far the biggest year over year increase we have ever had. It is not surprising that our results this year have been much more mundane. Unit sales this year have declined by 6.3% while average prices have increased just over 2%.
While I would never say I’m happy with a reduction in sales, the truth is I’m not really that disappointed. Increases like we saw in 2013 are clearly unsustainable. A moderate decline in unit sales this year demonstrates that the market has fully recovered from the housing recession. I believe that by the end of this year we will be closer to 2013 levels than we are now. There are two specific reasons I feel this way. One is that the last two months of 2013 were very weak compared to the first ten months. The second is that the first two months of 2014 were significantly slower than the March through June period.
The two biggest factors affecting the housing market going forward are job growth and inventory levels. Job growth has clearly been sluggish for the past few years but has begun to show some improvement in recent months. Inventory levels are still significantly below historical levels. The best way to increase inventory is to build more new homes. I do believe that construction levels will continue to increase but not as fast as fast as the market demands.
Over the second half of the year I do not expect to see the dramatic monthly swings we saw earlier this year. I expect inventory levels to remain a challenge and I believe that if job growth improves, so will real estate sales.
If you are in the market to buy a home you must be prepared to make an offer on a home as soon as it is listed and you had a chance to see the home. Homes that are updated and priced right sell within days. If you are in the market to sell your home you are in a good position. We have very low inventories. In either case, if you are buying or selling, call me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email at RolandoTrentini@FCTE.com
Tuesday, July 01 2014
When you determine to sell your house, one of the first choices that comes up is tactical: do you try to sell it yourself as a “For Sale by Owner” property—or do you enlist a real estate agent? Since your object is to maximize your profit, you might think that most thrift-minded home owners would decide to eliminate the agent’s commission and do the work themselves. But that’s not the case.
The majority of sellers ultimately team up with a real estate agent. Sometimes they go the For Sale by Owner route first, but after testing that method, change courses. The statistics show that the selling price of Realtor®-assisted home sales is higher (a $40,000 difference, according to the latest study) which certainly would explain part of the reason. But other factors come into play, too:
1.Pricing: If you aren’t immersed in the area’s real estate business five to seven days a week, there’s no way you can have the intimate knowledge about the current market that comes with daily work in the field. A real estate agent comes armed with extensive knowledge of the local market and all the changes that have brought it about. It’s extremely important to price your home correctly to sell it on the first go-round. It’s a demonstrated fact that the longer a home sits on the market, the lower its final sale price.
2.Time and Energy: A For Sale by Owner sign in the front yard means you are in charge, 24/7! That’s despite any other demands on your time—for example, your job! One of the benefits of using a real estate pro is that selling your property is our singular focus: our job! It means marketing, networking, working with buyers. Doing whatever it takes to get your house sold is our first priority. Lacking the same kind of time and resources, a For Sale by Owner seller is at a clear disadvantage in the competition to sell houses. It’s a marketplace where one missed buyer can mean the difference between a listing that turns into a sale…and a listing that turns stale.
3.Objectivity: The house is yours: you designed or decorated it; you’ve fixed and painted and mowed and swept it. If you took your work seriously, you feel at least some pride in how it’s presented. Unfortunately, that’s a problem. Lacking objectivity in the sales milieu can be one of the biggest hindrances to actually selling your house. It makes it hard for you to negotiate—to see and acknowledge the flaws a buyer sees. And it can make buyers wary of even wanting to negotiate with you in the first place. Either factor can prove costly. Separating owner from sales agent opens communication. It’s a relief for everyone!
4.Paperwork: This is the most obvious point. If you choose to wade into the paperwork/deadline process yourself, you’d be wise to count on needing a bit of extra attention from a good real estate attorney—if only to avoid potential litigation down the line.
5.Security: It’s unfortunate, but putting your house up For Sale by Owner in can make you a target. Less-than-honest folks are out there—creeps who may specialize in sellers who might not follow the proper measures for letting people into their homes.
If you are looking into selling your own home this summer, I’d like to offer you a complimentary property evaluation. Whether or not you decide to go the For Sale by Owner route, it’s sure to be well worth discussing what to expect from today’s market! You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Monday, June 30 2014
Wasn’t it just yesterday that we seemed locked into a classic home buyer’s market in Evansville? Bad economy, bad job numbers, tanked real estate values were all we heard about…until it eventually shifted. Over the past year or so, it’s become a very different landscape. If you’ve been out looking to become a home buyer, it’s possible that you’ve found yourself putting in offers on multiple houses…and also possibly watching from the sidelines as another home buyer walked away with a deal. If this isn’t a true seller’s market, to you the difference may not be apparent.
In any case, when a prospective home buyer in Evansville finds themselves vying for one of the plum homes that are now appearing in this summer’s listings, there’s no need to passively watch as others get the nod. If you are sure of the value of the property you are going for, there are straightforward tactics for improving your chances of winning the day:
-Offering at or above list price is the time-tested way to give you the best shot of getting your contract accepted over bidders who offer less than list. Real estate prices are again on the rise, increasing your likelihood of being able to recoup the extra money if you decide to sell several years down the road. Look at the comps with your agent to determine what an aggressive—yet realistic price—will be.
-Ask your real estate agent what the recommended earnest money amount would be; then double or triple that deposit amount. It’s a sure way to signal that you’re a serious and financially able home buyer. This tactic has the advantage that it doesn’t really cost you anything in the long run, assuming you hold up your end of the contract. It is a way to stand out from other home buyers without actually spending more.
-In a buyer’s market, it’s almost expected to ask for add-ons like fixing a staircase or leaving the swing set. But in a seller’s market, you can beat the competition by not asking for extras beyond what is offered in the listing. Home sellers may be fully occupied with many outside details (like looking for their own next home!) and often assign high value to an offer that looks uncomplicated.
-Along the same lines, another way to set yourself apart from every other home buyer is to offer to give the seller more than the usual time to move out of their house. Many other bidders won’t think of this—but it can make the deal if the sellers are having to cope with difficult deadlines for their own move.
Above all, don’t let yourself get discouraged. The right house is out there, and you will get an offer accepted! Particularly in a seller’s market, any home buyer will be rewarded by just remaining patient and cool-headed. First step if you will be looking to buy this summer: call me today to get started! You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Monday, June 09 2014
For real estate investors (BTW, that includes homeowners and soon-to-be homeowners of all stripes), there’s some long wished-for news: the solid reputation of real estate as an investment is back! After years of falling off, the latest Gallup poll on the economy and personal finance finds that Americans are now convinced that their best long term investment is in the housing market. Real estate won out against all other alternatives: bonds, gold, stocks, mutual funds and CDs.
For the past few years, gold had been investment #1—but see-sawing gold price movements have whiplashed public sentiment. Just as takes place everywhere in the nation, whenever real estate market improves, so does its reception by potential buyers who view their home as a savings vehicle as well as a place to hang their hat. As Gallup Economy’s headline put it, Americans Sold on Real Estate as Best Long-Term Investment.
Public sentiment by itself is, of course, not reason enough to change long-term investment strategies. But when any investment class is on the rise in public’s estimation, the effect is to create competition among buyers—and further price improvement often follows. It can make a difference when it comes to real estate.
One possibility for those selling real estate this summer might be to consider capitalizing on the investment trend by including a marketing approach: one that targets investors. You can have your agent or a local property manager provide a rental evaluation for the property, along with approximate leasing fees and property management fees. Having such an evaluation at the ready lets investment-minded prospects evaluate the potential cash flow and return. It’s even possible to post the information on your sales website, and to display it along with other marketing materials at showings and open houses.
In many neighborhoods, real estate prices have a lot further to go to near their previous high water marks; if you look at neighborhoods individually, you can find some plum opportunities to make a sound investment. If you are thinking of buying or selling in Evansville this summer, contact me to discuss your ideas—and how you will make the most of America’s new Number One investment opportunity! You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Friday, June 06 2014
Especially when it comes to major decisions like buying or selling your home, human nature seems to tilt toward delaying action until it’s the end result is absolutely certain. After all, nobody wants to make a life-changing move that turns out to be anything short of fantastic!
So even when you’ve outgrown your current home…or found yourself in a daily long-distance commute because work has moved…or any number of other reasons why you know you should be looking for a new house…it can be difficult to commit to such a looming decision. Adding to that is one of the most common assumptions many homeowners believe: that they have to spend a boatload of money to increase their home value.
The truth is: it ain’t so! You can strategically update your house before you put it on the market without depleting your bank account.
Items that only seem to require costly fixes:
· Make it Spacious
Adding space to a room increases any home value. Tearing out walls isn’t necessary when there are so many other ways to achieve the same thing. Simple options include removing built-in shelves, enlarging windows, or (the simplest) just removing “stuff” that’s hogging perceived space.
· Go Green
More and more, you can improve your home value by installing modest “green” upgrades. Today’s buyers may not necessarily be eco-focused—they may simply have a good sense of the increasing cost of water and power. “Going green” as a way to add home value to your area property can be no more costly than switching to low-flow toilets, adding a WiFi thermostat with “smart” technology, or putting in a low cost drip watering system.
· Window Update
Have a room that comes across as outdated…or just plain ‘blah’? Consider how much extra home value a new window treatment might add. It could be as simple as installing a stylish valence over a window or two.
· Change the Doors
Remember your first apartment with its flimsy, hollow doors? A quality door can make a disproportionate difference to a property’s perceived home value. Changing out your front or back doors for more a more weighty or modern selection can be well worth the expense.
Paint is the number one way to alter the look of a room inexpensively. Instead of painting the entire room one color, another option is to make a “statement wall” in its own neutral color that compliments a painting’s or picture frame’s palate.
These are just a few suggestions that can increase the value of your home without a straining the family finances. Even in an older home, many times it’s the little touches that can make the greatest difference.
Looking for specific suggestions to improve the value of your home before listing it for sale? Call me today for an in-home market evaluation! You can reach me on my cell phone
812-499-9234 or email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Wednesday, June 04 2014
Homeowners who had been bracing themselves for sharp rises in mortgage interest rates must now be scratching their heads. As the online Mortgage News Daily put it last week, “…rates have been extraordinarily sideways, and right in line with the lowest levels in 11 months.”
Since historical averages are still significantly higher, it’s no wonder that most observers still believe the greater likelihood is for rate increases. But recent Fed happenings show a crack in their avowed determination to let that happen by tapering off purchases of mortgage-backed securities. The hemming and hawing is notable. It’s all pretty much up in the air.
In any case, one thing I can guarantee is that mortgage holders will benefit if they take advantage of savings opportunities when they present themselves. Among current possibilities—
1. Refinance Your Mortgage
Mortgage holders who haven’t already refinanced should at least consider doing so. Refinancing means taking advantage of the still historically low interest rates—often the most meaningful step in reducing your monthly mortgage payments. Before deciding to refinance, make sure that the mortgage costs involved will be less than the resulting savings. If you agree with the prevailing wisdom that it’s unlikely we will see a significant drop in interest rates in the near future, today’s levels still look inviting.
2. Cancel Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI)
According to the National Association of Realtors®, mortgage down payments have fallen over the past decade. Their figures show that the average mortgage down payment in 2013 was 10% – compared with 16% just ten years earlier. Homeowners who put down less than a 20% deposit are typically required to take out Private Mortgage Insurance. But once the Loan-to-value (LTV) ratio falls below 80%, homeowners can ask for the PMI insurance to be removed—and they should, because the lender isn’t responsible for keeping track of that for them. If you are close to the 20% threshold, it may be worthwhile to make a one-time payment that will reduce the principal below 80%.
3. Extend the Length of the Mortgage
Many homeowners have made significant reductions in their principal by opting for shorter-term mortgages. But should rising interest rates make a property you are trying to buy unaffordable, extending the length of the mortgage can reduce monthly payments to a more comfortable level. Although over the long term this will end up costing significantly more in interest, moving from a 15-year mortgage to a 30-year can sometimes be the right move—especially when the property at stake represents one of the terrific values currently out there.
While interest rates in Evansville may rise or fall or, as we’ve seen lately, hold surprisingly steady, sudden leaps or plummets are unlikely…and with a little preparation, unpleasant future surprises in interest rates are avoidable. Thinking of buying a home in Evansville this summer? Call me today to start laying the groundwork! You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Wednesday, May 28 2014
When Evansville residents hear about floods, images of homes tumbling into the sea or half-submerged along the banks of a raging river probably leap to mind. But the risk of flooding isn’t confined to those headline-grabbing catastrophes—which is why the recent passage by Congress and signing by the President of the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act (HFIAA) will be of interest to many people thinking of buying a home.
Sellers are required by law to disclose if a property is in an officially-designated flood zone; and banks typically check this information as well. While it can certainly be off-putting to be informed of this when buying a home, the availability of flood insurance can keep it from being a deal-breaker. But “available” doesn’t necessarily mean “affordable”—which is where HFIAA comes in.
Many prospective homebuyers are only vaguely aware that flood and water damage are not covered under traditional homeowner policies, something that’s newly relevant when buying a home. Part of the reason is because only 5% of the U.S. population lives in an officially designated “Coastal Flood Plain”—so it’s not a much-discussed issue in most parts of the country.
But the coastal areas that do get attention whenever disaster strikes are not the only kinds of flood plains that are relevant. FEMA assesses and maps areas that are subject to flooding, and assigns them letters denoting the likelihood of flood damage. Some of the provisions of the new HFIAA deal with overhauling those procedures, but the most immediately significant parts deal with (you guessed it) cost.
Here a little history will be helpful. In 1968, the National Flood Insurance program was created to help some property owners secure insurance in areas where it had been prohibitively expensive. But, as one might expect, the cost of the program soon became a problem. That in turn triggered passage of another Act—the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012—intended to allow premiums in covered areas to rise to offset their real costs.
The new HFIAA now partially reverses that yet again, because policy-makers fear the effect on the housing market. The new act delays some of the price rises for four years and allows homeowners who sell their homes to pass the lower premiums on to the new homeowners. It’s also relevant that there are two different types of coverage available: dwelling only and dwelling/property. Although dwelling only coverage is cheaper, as you might expect, there’s a good reason: it doesn’t cover the personal belongings that a flood could destroy.
Some zones, like Zone X, are as inexpensive as a few hundred dollars per year. The zones that flood more regularly can run into thousands…and all flood insurance premiums are in addition to the regular home insurance costs. For those buying a home in an area where properties might be classified as within a flood zone, it’s a good idea to check with one of the local insurance companies that offers flood coverage. When all is said and done, only you can decide if it’s worth the risk or not.
If you are thinking of buying a home in this summer, flood insurance is only one of the details you’ll want to consider. Call me today and we can begin by putting together a list of your search criteria. You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Monday, May 12 2014
When you’re selling your home, keeping it ready to show at a moment’s notice can sometimes make a major difference. In a perfect world, prospective buyers will always have time to schedule showings in advance—but exceptions do occur. That’s why experienced sellers know how to juggle living a normal life at the same time they are keeping their place ‘show-ready’ by calling on a few organizational tricks. They really aren’t all that difficult (but do take a commitment to stay organized). When you follow them, it makes showing your home a snap!
Supplies at the Ready:
The easiest way to stay on top of messes is to nail them when they start. Stock up on wipes and ready-to-use supplies (think pre-soaked wipes and erasers instead of rags, sprays and mops)—and stash them in key locations around the house. Between showings, you can even keep them in plain sight: it reminds you to wipe down surfaces after each use without making it a major project. Regular quick wipe-downs will keep your home shiny and inviting—even when showing your home comes as a last-minute surprise.
Place a few attractive bins and storage ottomans strategically in rooms that are prone to clutter (playrooms, bedrooms and dens). Encourage everyone to make a habit of throwing the odds and ends into them before the end of the day, and removing things only as they are needed. Showing your home on a dime becomes a no-brainer when the clutter lives out of sight.
If you haven’t already started packing, get going early. Pack up everything you don’t use regularly—like those shelves of books you haven’t touched in years. And deal with the off-season wardrobe: when you’re actively showing your home in Evansville this spring or summer, those fall and winter items should be headed into storage.
Make Small Adjustments
This idea is optional—but it really works! Encourage everyone to remove their shoes at the front door. Place a decorative mat at the entrance (and include a coat rack if the weather calls for it). This temporary house rule works to get everyone in on the act, and subtly helps keep them conscious that showing your home is partly everyone’s responsibility. It’s also a reminder to keep packages and bags from building up near those doorways.
When showing your home is part of a well-planned and systematic project, just a few of these relatively minor adjustments can keep you and your family cool and collected—and make even last-minute showings a breeze. My clients make the rules for what the minimum heads-up time for scheduling a showing will be, and I stick to it. But when they are able to create an environment when the odd last-minute showing is a no-stress possibility, it does seem to have a way of increasing the odds that the latest showing…becomes the last!
Friday, May 09 2014
Market Watch April 2014
As you may be able to tell from your allergies, spring has certainly sprung in Southwestern Indiana. The real estate market is heating up right along with the warmer temperatures. We are witnessing a significant increase in sales activity and anticipate that will continue through the spring. Lawrence Yun, the chief economist for the National Association of Realtors, said a gain was inevitable, following a dismal winter. (We certainly agree here!) On a national level, showing activity is increasing and sales activity is expected to follow suit as more inventory reaches the market. And in our office, the homes that are priced right and in good condition are getting lots of attention and in some cases, multiple offers.
The key challenge will continue to be inventory. We continue to see a shortage of homes for sale, with inventory rates near record lows. While this shortage will drive an increase in median existing-home price, continued positive momentum is dependent on the availability of homes for sale. Opportunity’s knock is getting louder on the doors of potential sellers, who at this point will dictate the performance of the local housing markets for the next couple of months.
While need for listings is high, sellers must present a home that is in good condition and priced right. Working with a real estate agent from the beginning ensures you have a knowledgeable professional that knows the market and can help get your home sold in the shortest amount of time.
If you’ve considered selling your home, now is the time. With many active buyers, you don’t want to miss this market surge! And if you’re ready to buy, I’d encourage you to visit www.TheTrentiniTeam.com , where you can use our interactive map search to perfectly define your search area. Until next month!
Thursday, May 08 2014
For decades, the three-bedroom house has been a cornerstone of the American dream. Now, as with the rest of the nation, our area’s real estate profile for new single family homes seems to be changing. And last year we may well have reached a turning point in the national new home market: now four bedrooms seems to have become the new norm!
Last year, a full 48% of new homes—nearly half—were built with at least four bedrooms. That’s quite a jump when you compare it with just four years earlier: in 2009, the figure was 34%. We asked ourselves why the nation’s preferences would have undergone such a sizable shift. A little research revealed some likely answers—and some interesting history behind them.
The Rise of Bigger Homes
The footprint of the average new home built in the U.S. went Yeti in a very short time. In the late 1940s, Postwar America began producing single family homes on a massive scale—with an average size of about 750 square feet. As the economy expanded, so did house sizes until by 1973 the three-bedroom home dominated the new home market (Evansville included). By 2013, average new home sizes had reached 2,701 square feet according to the Census Bureau.
It may seem counter-intuitive, but at the same time the number of bedrooms was increasing, the size of the American household was heading in the opposite direction. The 3.6-person average of the 1940s had, by 2013, contracted to 2.58. That means the living space for each individual had grown by 80%!
House Sizes Shrink, Then Expand Again
In 2009, as a side-effect of the last decade’s real estate market downturn, single family home sizes had retreated by about 6%. But now the economy’s slow recovery has reversed the reversal. According to the most recent report from the National Association of Home Builders, the average size of a new home built in 2013 was 2607 square feet— a 300-square foot increase over just two years earlier.
Fewer New Buyers = Bigger Homes
One of the reasons for the new home market shift toward larger four-bedroom designs can be ascribed to a decrease in the number of first-time homebuyers. Largely due to previous tightening in lending criteria and rising mortgage rates (both trends have at least momentarily stalled in the new home market), the smaller homes favored by first-timers claimed a proportionately smaller chunk of the market.
It’s hard to avoid the general conclusion that what were once considered luxurious additions are effectively today’s norm. The en-suite bathrooms, two-car garages and even three-bedroom homes that would have been out of reach for most of the new home buyers of the past are practically standard fare in 2014. But another fact is that every area differs from every other. If this has you wondering how your home compares with what today’s buyers are looking for in your own neighborhood—why not give me a call? You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Wednesday, May 07 2014
Last week’s Rasmussen Reports survey reported that the majority (52%) of Americans consider their home to be a family’s best investment at the same time that the number of people who are choosing to remodel their home is on the rise. According to the Houzz & Home survey, the number of people who planned improvement projects rose a dynamic 12 % last year. Of those, 40% wanted to remodel their home or build an addition.
While remodeling may be becoming more popular, there are still plenty of advantages to the alternative route: purchasing a new home in. Here are some of the pros and cons of each route:
- Before you start your remodeling project you should take a personal inventory. Do you have the experience and skills to manage the project…and is the prospect appealing? Remodeling your home will require that you deal directly either with tradesmen, contractors, architects— or the whole bunch! It may be the greatest advantage to purchasing a new home: getting the additional space and amenities without the work.
- The loss of privacy during a remodeling project is not something to be underestimated. Depending upon the scope of the project, it may be months before the dust settles and you have the house to yourself again. There is also the inconvenience of not having access to multiple areas of your home while work is proceeding
- For most of us, there really is no place like home. If you’re like me, even when you’ve been on a terrific vacation, eventually you begin to yearn for the comfort and familiarity of your good old home base. Although one or two irksome features of your current house make moving seem like a no-brainer…before you commit to a move, be sure that you really want to leave. History, a sense of community, and the roots you’ve established in your current neighborhood are all reasons to opt for a remodel rather than a new home.
- Selling your existing home and buying a new home is a sizable financial commitment. Moving costs, transaction fees, commissions and taxes are part of the equation to weigh against remodeling costs. A sharp pencil is definitely in order before the dollars and cents can be realistically reckoned—particularly if your finances have improved, and the remodel is meant to bring your home up to an improved standard of living.
The danger lies in overcapitalizing a property in a location where the resale won’t support the expense. Even a great home will still fetch a price that’s relative to other properties in the neighborhood, obliterating the wished-for ‘investment’ value of extensive remodeling.
While it’s important to be informed about the factual tradeoffs of your decision, it’s likely the end choice will also be influenced by what just feels right—as it should be. Whether you’re considering a remodel or a purchase, if you’d like to run some numbers, call me today for a confidential price evaluation! You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Tuesday, May 06 2014
Mortgage rates may rise or fall this spring (lately they seem to be falling!)—but that needn’t prevent you from saving even more money when it’s time to structure your own mortgage. The underpublicized fact is that mortgage rates are only one of the factors that affect how much you wind up paying. No matter what happens to mortgage rates in 2014, here are some keys to making mortgage decisions that result in significant savings:
Tailor the term
Evaluate your budget and see whether it is possible to increase the amount of your monthly payment. By increasing monthly repayments, you reduce the term of your mortgage. Over the course of the loan, this can save tens of thousands of dollars.
Refinance for five years instead of two
The interest you pay on a refi loan isn’t the only cost. The origination and other fees can easily end up costing four figures. It’s a numbers game: simply calculate the anticipated savings from refinancing, then subtract the amount of the fees. The difference tells you your net savings…and demonstrates why one of the easiest ways to grow those savings is to refinance less frequently.
Change to biweekly
Changing to biweekly payments instead of monthly payment can save you more than small change. The reason is on the calendar: there are 52 weeks in a year, but only 12 months. If you make 26 1/2 payments every year, that equates to 13 monthly payments. It’s a stealthy way to make an additional month’s payment every year without really noticing it. When choosing a loan, opt for one where the bank allows you to choose biweekly payments (as long as they don’t want to charge an additional fee). Also request that the extra payments be deducted from the principle.
Improve your credit score
On this count, every mortgage guru sounds like a broken record. Although the average quoted mortgage rate may rise or fall, that’s not necessarily the rate that you pay. Your FICO score is the primary determinant of your mortgage rate. The difference between a good FICO score and a bad one can be significant, so get a copy of your credit card record and challenge any damaging inaccuracies. Lenders want to see a long history of paying on time with a mixed use of credit.
Mortgage rates will almost certainly increase in the future because they’re still well under historical averages. But there are plenty of steps you can take to cut thousands of dollars from your ultimate mortgage costs. And if you are ready to buy a house in this spring, contact me today—I’m ready to show you what’s coming up at your price point! You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Monday, April 21 2014
Buying a home in Evansville is sort of a modern day adventure. At first there’s the intrigue of figuring out the advantages and disadvantages between the neighborhoods and listings competing for your attention; then there are all the challenging, sometimes exhausting—then, ultimately, exhilarating steps that lead to home ownership.
But even after the previous owner has handed over the keys, there’s more to come: a few extra steps new homeowners can decide they wish to take. Here are five of those—things you can choose to do after buying a home:
#1 Change the Locks
Who knows how many people have a copy of those keys? It’s a good idea to change the locks on all exterior doors, because it’s not just the previous owners who have had access to the property; there may also have been guests or tradespeople with access to the keys. By installing new locks, you can be sure that you are complete control of the keys to your new home.
#2 Have the House Cleaned
While the previous homeowners are obliged to leave the home in reasonable condition (usually “broom clean”), consider scheduling a professional cleaning crew before you move in. If your budget and schedule allows, it can be a plus to know some serious deep cleaning has been performed on counters, plumbing fixtures, carpets, etc.
#3 Smooth Transfer of Utilities
After buying a home, it’s usually possible to transfer utilities into your name without having to live through a break in service. Contacting all utility companies ahead of time will ensure that the transfer is orderly and scheduled in a manner that will be convenient to your move. It’s also an opportunity to be sure that utility bills have been fully paid before closing on the property.
#4 Store the Settlement Papers
At the end of the process of buying a home, a host of details come fast and furious, making it doubly easy to misplace things—even important things, like copies of the papers you execute during settlement. Later, when it’s tax time (or in the future should you sell the property), you’ll save yourself a lot of desperate rummaging if you’ve prepared a secure place to keep them from the start.
#5 Take Photos of Your Household Items
It’s important to keep an accurate list of your household contents in the case of theft, fire or other mishap—records to act as verification of your belongings and their condition. Buying a home is the perfect time to take that inventory. Go from room to room snapping digital pictures of everything you own. It will never get easier!
Like anything worth doing, buying your new dream home probably came with its own set of stresses. But it should stand as one of the most rewarding financial moves you will ever make. If you’re thinking of buying or selling a home in Evansville this spring or summer, do give me a call! You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Wednesday, April 16 2014
It’s one of the skills a successful local rental property investor needs to cultivate: if or when to sell. With property prices on the rise, some Evansville landlords may in fact be asking themselves whether now is the time to cash in. Especially for most everyone whose rental property investment was made during the last few years, it’s already been a profitable gambit. According to the Case Schiller Index, by last year’s close, property prices across the nation had risen at the fastest rate in the previous nine years.
But if—and then when—to sell a rental property can be a tough call. As a relatively illiquid investment, it takes a great deal more commitment than the decision to sell a stock or cash in a bond. But sometimes there are circumstances that can make the decision a little easier. For instance:
One clear reason why you might choose to sell is if the rental property is losing money. The rental may have been vacant for too long, or the rent level may not have been sufficient to cover expenses. In many cases, other real estate investors will be willing to lose money in the short term on a property they believe will appreciate in the future. It’s also possible that a full-time rental property professional may be able to tap economies of scale that are not possible for every individual investor.
Your rental property may be doing fine—making money and showing substantial value growth—but now an unusually promising alternative investment has appeared. With the strong spring market, it may make sense to sell now to reinvest the profits elsewhere.
Everyone’s tax situation is different, and the tax environment is subject to change. Even if that weren’t the case, there are some years when personal finances mean that a sale would be a much better idea than others. As with any substantial financial decision, your accountant or other financial advisor will have the relevant input.
Being a landlord is not for everyone. Sometimes a professional property manager can alleviate nearly all the stress for an investor who doesn’t relish the vocation, but even then, there can be other chores: bookkeeping, manager management, a leak-through of tenant personality issues…that prompt a landlord to decide he or she would rather direct energy elsewhere. Opting for more passive forms of investment is always a possibility.
Our area has already benefitted from some of the fruits of the national real estate recovery – but that alone doesn’t answer whether this spring is an opportune time for you to consider selling your area rental property. We currently face a shortage of listings and there are many buyers and investors in the market. Call me today for a comprehensive property evaluation—the key piece of information that will help you decide! You can reach me on my cell phone
812-499-9234 or email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Monday, April 07 2014
With spring in the air, you don’t have to have your home for sale to catch the spring cleaning bug. Whether or not you’ve been cooped up inside for a longer-than-usual siege of the wintertime blues, as soon as the weather turns the corner, there seems to be a natural urge to open the windows and start freshening your place up.
Spring also brings the traditional hot selling season, and if you’re among those getting ready to list your own home for sale to take advantage of it, you’ll want to add extra attention to the traditional cleanup. Home for sale or not, you can channel some of your annual sprucing-up energy with one of these light renovation ideas. Each can add new zest to your living areas without breaking the bank:
- If you want to liven up your kitchen or bathroom but don’t want to shell out for the full cost of replacing the cabinets or doors, consider what simply changing the hardware would do. Take a trip to the hardware department, pick out a sample knob or pull, then test what the change would look like. Sometimes this simple transformation adds a surprising degree of sparkle!
- If your lighting fixtures are looking a bit dated and dingy, one simple fix is to buy new lampshades. Replacing a whole lamp is expensive and often unnecessary—and new shades can make a much more resounding impact, anyway. If you are planning to put your home for sale on the market anytime soon, best opt for white or cream. Keeping the look bright yet neutral gives you a proven selling advantage.
- In any room where years of wear and tear have created smudges that no amount of elbow grease can remove, think about painting with a change of color. It may be a bit more ambitious and costly, but whether you hire pros or do it yourself, the result can make you feel like you’re in a whole new home. As with the lampshade selection, resist the temptation to get overly exuberant and creative: choose neutral color combinations.
- If new furniture is not yet called for (or beyond this year’s budget), consider calling in the pros for some upholstery cleaning; then adding new accent pillows. If your existing pillows are in good shape, sometimes just a few new pillow covers can freshen up a room’s whole look. Designers sometimes recommend picking just one bright color and keeping with it throughout the house.
You don’t have to be planning to list your home for sale in Evansville to make 2014’s spring cleaning efforts a self-satisfying success. And if you’re planning to list, I have a host of other preparation tips…and a marketing plan designed to bring top results! You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Monday, March 31 2014
Right at the start of the year, Google announced a surprising move. It said it was purchasing a home appliance maker most of us had never even heard of…for $3.2 billion in cash! It was a gambit that every homeowner should note, because it signals where some very smart money is headed: right where we live!
Remember, Google isn’t just famous for its search engine; it’s also frequently in the news for its forays into any number of futuristic enterprises (those mysterious barges, for instance). The appliance maker that now has Google’s billions in its pocket is called Nest Labs, Inc. Nest makes smart devices that reinvent the traditional ones every homeowner has to deal with, like thermostats and smoke detectors. “Unloved but important devices” was how the press announcement put it.
The unique feature of Nest’s products is that they collect “user behavior” data (i.e., homeowner actions) in order to provide a more tailored response. Google CEO Larry Page explained, “They’re already delivering amazing products you can buy right now–thermostats that save energy and smoke/CO alarms that can help keep your family safe.”
The move of Google into the realm of smarter homes is part of a broader trend. In the most recent American Institute of Architects Home Design Trends Survey, there was a dramatic increase in the use of technology solutions in the home. The survey noted an increase in requests for entertainment, security and energy management systems. Energy management systems are becoming increasingly sophisticated as households are given the ability to manage their lighting and temperature over a wireless network. As electronic cars become more prevalent, electronic docking systems in the garage may also become commonplace.
How does this affect the average Evansville homeowner? As the minimum price of these systems decline, automated homes will eventually become the norm. If today it costs around $2500 to automate your home, it’s all but inevitable that similar features will fall in price (and grow in sophistication). Then, when it comes to buying a home or listing your own for sale, the amount of smart automation is bound to become a key selling point—trust Google!
The ability to operate and manage your house from a wireless devices such as your smartphone or laptop is already here…and Nest’s learning technology signals a future where our home and appliances are able to learn from our behavior and predict our needs. Keeping an eye on the future is a good idea for any homeowner, especially when you’re thinking of replacing one of those “unloved but important” devices— and most especially when you’re contemplating listing your home anytime soon. If that’s in your future, why not give me a call? As Google is in the habit of demonstrating, it’s never too soon to prepare for the future! You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Wednesday, March 26 2014
It just might be that a groundswell is spreading throughout the home-buying public. In Evansville, smaller houses that used to be difficult to sell are rising in popularity, and I can guess why.
First, a little history. Back in 1950, what we would consider smaller houses were the rule: the average square footage came in at just 983 (try to imagine the ‘average’ family with 2 kids, 2 adults and Lassie all shoehorned in there!). By 2006, that figure had blown up to 2,248 square feet—and we all know about the bigger McMansions—just in time for the financial meltdown. Within the next few years, for the first time ever, the upsizing trend had begun to reverse. Only three years later, average square footage was 2,135.
In terms of size, today’s buyers and sellers are meeting in a much more balanced market. Smaller houses are no longer automatically spurned. In fact, smaller houses are the first choice for a growing number of buyers. Why?
When you really analyze it, a surprising amount of housing space is seldom used. Lifestyle changes dictate that formal dining and living rooms are much less frequently occupied. And it’s a fact that we only use a small percentage of the things that we own, so in actuality, some of many homes’ area amount to extremely high-end storage space. By getting rid of some of that unused stuff, the space it takes up can become unneeded.
The old rule of thumb nationally is that property taxes average about 1% of the value of a home. Smaller houses mean lower tax bills.
Maintenance bills can be substantially lower in smaller houses. It varies greatly by age and style, but one estimate has it that annual maintenance bills usually run between 1%-3% of total value.
Whether your hire help or handle it yourself, a smaller home can be much faster to clean. This may be less true when clutter is allowed to take over, but for those who are vigilant clutter-clearers, it means freeing more time for doing the things that you love. If you are paying someone else clean your home, it can easily equate to significant savings over the course of a year.
According to the American Psychology Association, money is the largest single contributor to stress. Nearly three-quarters of Americans admit that financial problems are their biggest source of stress. Purchasing a smaller house with an accompanying smaller mortgage can directly translate into a mellower quality of life.
A smaller house may not be for everyone, but today’s buyers are considering the advantages with a much more open minds. If you are giving some serious thought to buying or selling a home, let’s talk about the wide range of possibilities on the local market today. We are experiencing very low inventories right now. This plays out to the advantage of sellers. You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Thursday, March 20 2014
You don’t have to tell anyone who is self-employed that there are extra costs that go with the benefits. In addition to the long hours and weight of responsibility that come with the job description, getting a home loan has always added special challenges. Now that we are into the new Dodd-Frank era of federal oversight, some of the changes warrant an early heads-up.
The 2010 legislation that went into effect on January 10 created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, with the function of tightening the rules lenders follow in order to discourage the issuing of mortgages that borrowers can’t be reasonably expected to be able to repay. To deliver on that worthy purpose, more proof and more paperwork will be required to support the income claimed on loan applications (here you might well be hearing an imaginary smacking sound from self-employed persons reading this and whacking their foreheads—paperwork is the bane of the self-employed).
If you are your own boss and getting a loan in Evansville is on your horizon, take heart! Just because it may be more difficult to apply for home loan doesn’t mean it’s impossible.
The new lending rules describe eight specific factors lenders should verify and document before advancing home loans. They includes the borrower’s assets, credit history, employment status and other debt obligations. The penalty for lenders who fail to do so adequately is that they may be legally liable if a borrower proves unable to repay.
For the self-employed, the extra burden can come with the requirement that borrowers be able to show consistent income (hear that forehead-smacking sound again?) The general rule is that borrowers be able to provide at least two years’ worth of personal tax returns. Since self-employed people getting a loan often have perfectly valid reasons for fluctuating annual incomes, it’s vital to talk with a broker and lender as early as possible to establish the taxable income level needed to qualify for a loan.
That talk should cover other areas. For instance, self-employed people have greater flexibility than most when it comes to reporting deductible expenses on their income tax forms. Since those same deductions result in lower net incomes, that can be problematical when it comes to getting a loan. One way to counter that problem is to demonstrate that the expenses incurred were used to buy things that will improve their business in the long term. Another approach is demonstrate that similar expenses are not likely to re-occur (particularly apt when a business is just starting up).
If you are among the self-employed—and plan on getting a loan—planning is key. Get your ducks in a row now so the loan process doesn’t derail you later. It’s never too early to call me as an early resource before we get to move on to the fun stuff—your home search! I can get you in touch with competent loan originators who will walk you through every step of the way.
You can reach me on my cell phone: 812-499-9234 or email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Wednesday, March 19 2014
Keeping your kitchen looking up-to-date doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive. Contemporary home design in is all about knowing what the latest trends are and which to choose when regular maintenance calls for a change in appliances or décor.
This year, eco-friendly appliances are definitely ‘in’—as are the pops of bright color meant to create a vivid and welcoming kitchen. And as convenience features continue to evolve, those are increasingly prominent factors influencing design choices. Especially if you are planning to sell your home in the near future, there are a few home design directions that are most likely to impress prospective buyers who’ve been exploring the latest kitchen trends:
Going green is a pronounced trend, not just in home design. Using renewable, Earth-friendly materials can be a way to update a kitchen while minimizing environmental impact. A sample idea would be a sustainable bamboo parquet butcher block to grace the kitchen counter or table. They come in beautiful, rich wood tones, and when large enough to cover a substantial counter area, can warm the feel of the entire room.
Another (almost diametrically opposed) current direction is to deck the kitchen out with a few of the latest high-tech gadgets. Even if you resist an ultra-modern look, a few chic techie touches can add a dash of luxury to your home. One example: Siemens makes a multimedia ventilation hood that has a 17-inch LCD screen with options for listening to music or watching TV. It’s a creative way to make cooking more entertaining—and one that would certainly help make your listing stand out!
Bright colors have not always been popular in kitchens, but lately, appliance manufacturers have been less shy about offering exuberant finishes. You can find dishwashers, blenders, toasters, microwaves and refrigerators in bright blues, pinks, yellows, greens and oranges. It can be an inexpensive way to add a splash of color to your kitchen…although if you are planning on selling soon, in many instances I’d recommend caution: perhaps confining the color pops to bright accent pillows or colorful floral arrangements.
Copper is also an increasingly popular trend in kitchen design this year. Its natural antibacterial properties make it a practical home design element, and that cool, rustic hue looks great in warm, gold-toned kitchens. Copper sinks and faucets are both practical and stylish (although keeping them bright and shiny can be another story!).
If you are thinking of selling soon, consider incorporating one or two current home design ideas if your kitchen could use a decor infusion. Looking for more ideas? Contact me today to discuss what is making today’s homes S-E-L-L!
You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Tuesday, March 18 2014
The details seem stubbornly worrisome. Mortgage requirements have grown stricter. The Federal Reserve may or may not turn off the cheap money spigot—and if anything causes the stock market to sputter, it’s uncertainty. Occasional bits of good news in the labor picture can’t overcome the fact that unemployment remains stuck on high in many states.
All of this should be bad news for the housing market in Evansville, except for one overriding factor: apparently, American consumers aren’t buying it.
Despite uncertain economic news, consumers’ overall expectations for the housing market remained steady. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s monthly Survey of Consumer Expectations, issued last week, found that most expect home values to continue to climb through 2014. The uncertainty factor remains largely stuck in neutral, pretty much as it has for most of 2013.
The survey found more nuggets of good news likely to affect the local housing market. There was no reported change from last month’s report that close to 20% of respondents say they are likely to change residences in the coming year…similarly, the previous month’s finding that 44% predict their personal wealth will increase remained steady. Taken together, the two factors could likely indicate that a healthy number of home buyers will be looking for housing of greater value than that at their current address.
Fannie Mae’s most recent monthly National Housing Survey echoed the positive findings among consumers: “Notably, respondents’ home price expectations climbed significantly in February—with 50% saying home prices will go up in the next year…” Their finding of more volatile consumer attitudes was mainly attributed to momentarily high energy expenses caused by unexpectedly frigid winter weather.
Whether or not the national statistics accurately reflect local consumer dispositions, they provide a backdrop that bodes well for the impending spring selling season. Soon we’ll be entering the time of year which traditionally results in a considerable uptick in Evansville’s housing market activity – which may be prime time for determining whether this is the moment to make a change in your own residential outlook. For more pinpointed, up-to-the-moment details about your own neighborhood’s housing market profile, give me a call! You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234.
Tuesday, March 11 2014
Real estate offices have been gearing up for the imminent spring selling season, the time when local listings swell to meet the expected surge in buying activity. I sometimes put quotes around ‘selling season’ because so many factors go into home sales that it can be slightly misleading—we do sell homes all year long, after all!
But there is a lot of truth (and historical verification) to the idea that springtime brings a burst of new listings and accompanying selling activity. There can be lots of reasons why that happens, but this past weekend, area homeowners who were reading The Wall Street Journal might have seen some extra reasons to hurry up and add their homes to the local listings.
Some of those reasons have to do with weather; some with the economy.
The front page of WSJ’s Weekend Edition headlined the first piece of long-awaited good news: “Job Rebound Eases Fears of Spring Stall.” It explained that Friday’s payroll numbers showed upticks despite the widespread harsh weather that should have knocked them down.
Most economists had been on the fence about whether the years-long weak economic recovery would continue. Even though the previous two months of slowing growth had been attributed to the ‘endless winter’ blanketing much of the nation, it wasn’t clear that underlying weakness wasn’t also present. But the sudden improvement in the job picture, even as the weather failed to lighten up, was an unexpected event—one that could “ease worries” about the likelihood of a fundamental slowdown. In fact, forecasters were beginning to project that the negative economic effects due to the unusual weather (estimated at a loss of 1%) may be more than restored when the sun returns. Spring conditions are now expected to add an additional 1.2% to second quarter growth.
Even a slight rise in the unemployment rate was greeted as hopeful news. What sounded like a negative turns out to be the opposite: more people were returning to the workforce, a sure sign that workers see jobs beginning to reappear. Jobs have always been tied to real estate listing and sales activity, so this year, the NAR’s website truism may be on the mark:
“Spring brings rain and flowers – and possibly extra green in the final sales price of your home.”
Thursday, March 06 2014
It can be perplexing—and not least because it’s one of the least-discussed details you run into when buying a home. The issue is flood insurance, and it’s sometimes first brought to the fore when you are buying a home in Evansville that you would not have thought was on a “flood plain.” If it is, it’s going to require flood insurance before the bank will sign off on a loan.
As we only see from time to time, devastating floods can strike when and where least expected: sometimes, in areas where that ruinous flooding is unprecedented. In 2005, when FEMA paid out over $17 billion in flood claims, it once again became clear why flood insurance is absolutely necessary. Here’s what you need to know about flood insurance if the home you are looking at is in a flood plain.
The Zone Matters
FEMA assigns different zones within a single flood plain. For example, homes that are located on the bank of a creek may be assigned to Zone A, ( floods highly likely). Homes that are further away from a water source may be assigned to Zone Z, (lower risk). Naturally, Zone Z premiums are a good deal more affordable than premiums for Zone A. In fact, if your home is in a Z zone, you may even qualify for a special price break for two years before full premium goes into effect.
Figuring Out the Cost
Unlike car or home insurance, you won’t find a better rate on flood insurance by shopping around. The federal government sets flood premium rates based on factors like the zone, the home’s value, and the value of its contents. You may choose to insure the home only, but it’s seldom a good idea to leave contents without coverage. Any local insurance agent specializing in flood insurance will be able to assist you in determining the cost of the policy; they will also answer any questions you may have about the process.
Making Your Decision
Buying a local home that turns out to be on considered within a flood plain means factoring in some added insurance expense, and possibly even potential risk to your personal items. But when the house is right, and your heart is absolutely set on the property, it’s a dollars-and-cents calculation. I’m always at the ready to help my clients clarify this and all other the other details that go into buying a home in Evansville. You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Tuesday, February 11 2014
January presented us with major changes to mortgage lending rules. These new guidelines aim to curb some of the excesses that occurred during the sub-prime years—hopefully resulting in a lower risk of default and foreclosure by borrowers and a healthier real estate climate for everyone.
QM: “Qualified Mortgage”
This all came about as one offshoot of the Dodd-Frank legislation that went into effect in 2014. It creates a new category, “Qualified Mortgage.” Lending institutions are required to document each loan they deem to be a QM; when they do, they benefit by being able to sell them to Freddie Mae and Fannie Mac, and are protected from legal action in the event of a future default.
The reason that these changes won’t keep most borrowers from getting a loan is that loans that don’t qualify (“Non-QM” loans) will still be offered by some banks—they’ll simply keep them on their own books.
The bedrock requirement for a QM is an evaluation of the borrower’s debt-to-income ratio. That’s the projection of debts divided by income on a month-to-month basis — especially important when getting a loan with a variable interest rate. If it seems to you that this calculation makes common sense for any loan—I’m in your camp! The reason a bank might choose to issue a loan that does not meet the letter of this requirement could be their analysis that the percentages dictated by the rules are too strict for a particular borrower.
A Qualified Mortgage can’t have any of the risky factors that were hallmarks of the mortgage meltdown. Included are “no” or “low-doc” loans; loans with terms longer than 30 years, interest-only loans, and those with minimum payments that don’t keep pace with interest rates, causing the loan balance to increase.
So: what’s the bottom line for buyer’s intent on getting a loan this year?
The good news: most loans will go through as before (estimates are about 95% of them). But more paperwork and longer processing times are likely, and since fees and charges for a QM cannot exceed 3% of the mortgage, getting a smaller loan might become more difficult if banks determine they can’t make a profit.
In any case, coming prepared is still the best insurance that your loan goes through as smoothly as possible. If you’re looking to buy a home in Evansville this season, I’ll help make sure your preparation is first-rate! You will be able to take advantage of my extensive network of different mortgage providers in order to make the purchase of your new home as seamless as possible. You can reach me on my cell phone at 812-499-9234 or email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Thursday, February 06 2014
With cars, TVs—even watches—getting connected through WiFi and wireless telephones, it’s small wonder that “Smart Homes” are here, too. According to Forbes, companies offering smart homes technology will be a $35.6 billion industry within just three years. They already offer homeowners an array of connected appliances, security systems and even HVAC systems.
From what I’ve seen, their marketing has highlighted the convenience factor—but if that seems to be more sizzle than steak, here are some surprisingly substantial reasons why you might consider upgrading your own place into a smart home:
Your current security system gives you peace of mind whenever you’re out of town. But have you ever wondered whether you remembered to lock the back door? Smart homes let you click a function on your phone that commands the home to lock itself! The same app can also send you a live video feed of the interior and exterior of your home.
In addition to securing the premises, smart homes can help you prevent home accidents. Smart appliances can be controlled via mobile apps which allow you to turn off ovens, stovetops, microwaves and even washing machines from anywhere you establish a WiFi connection. This minimizes the risk of the kind of home fires which can be caused by unattended appliances. (If you’re thinking that homeowner insurance premium discounts may soon be offered for connected homes: the Wall Street Journal reports that they already are!)
Major manufacturers GE, LG and Samsung have introduced complete lines of connected appliances controlled via mobile phone, eliminating the need to physically get up to adjust settings. Think how, especially for the elderly and handicapped, this would meaningfully enhance their quality of life—maybe even extending their ability to live at home without assistance. For all age brackets, being able to effortlessly control lighting, heating and air conditioning at the touch of a device screen will inevitably result in practical energy savings; and that raises perhaps the most important selling point for smart homes technology—
Increasing the value of smart homes when they come up for sale. The practicality of smart homes is already especially appealing to the growing number of tech-savvy buyers.
If you’re comparing home upgrades prior to putting your own home on the market, I’m here to help you choose which (if any) are likely to add the most value. Call me anytime to discuss your short and long term plans! You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email: Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Wednesday, February 05 2014
One of the unusual situations that sometimes crops up in real estate is one where the buyer purchases a house without ever seeing it. This may sound nuts—but there are circumstances (more than you’d think) where it can be the only practical solution.
Wholesalers and house-flippers, for instance, sometimes simply haven’t time to visit every property they suspect is a great buy. Other times, buyers might be relocating to Evansville from out of state (or even out of the country) under a timetable that doesn’t allow them an extra visit—or even a first visit! According to the latest full-year data from the National Association of Realtors®, home sales to foreign buyers amounted to $68 billion!
As you’d guess, the risks of purchasing a house sight-unseen when relocating to Evansville remain stark. Nonetheless, there are ways such buyers can protect themselves:
Adding a contractual walk-though contingency—one which allows a final walk-though before signing at closing—is the surest protection. Sellers aren’t obligated to accept such a contingency (and in a competitive market it’s less likely to be acceptable), but if it’s allowed, it’s also a sign that the property is likely to pass muster.
The odds of a good “sight-unseen” result when relocating to Evansville grow significantly better when you present your agent with a clear list of requirements. Some important factors outside of specific house metrics could be the quality of local schools, transportation links and commuting times, crime rates, shopping and entertainment and recreation area access.
It is especially important to hire a first-class home inspector. When you can’t visit the property yourself, your inspector can be the trained eyes that prevent your inheriting unneeded maintenance issues. If the listing doesn’t give you a clear idea of how the home is laid out, requesting a video of both interior and exterior of the property is a good idea. If one isn’t available, don’t be shy about asking your agent to make a walk-through video for you.
For anyone relocating to Evansville when a ‘sight-unseen’ home purchase is necessary, choosing the best-qualified Realtor and inspector couldn’t be more important. In that situation, they become your ears and eyes on the ground! Please feel free to call me at 812-499-9234 or email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com and I will be more than happy to assist you with your real estate needs. Our motto is “With an Accent on Service”
Wednesday, January 29 2014
Part of the recovery in Evansville’s real estate scene is the increasing likelihood of multiple offers on a listed property. This is every seller’s dream— but if you are one of the bidders, it’s important that you don’t allow it to become your nightmare.
There is one way— the only sure way—to keep the specter of competing multiple offers from upsetting your home buying prospects. Summed up in one word, it’s “preparation.”
Preparation starts with assembling a strong financial package. If your target property attracts multiple offers, you want yours to stand out. By the time you learn that other offers are at hand, it’s probably already too late to begin putting together documents—they should be in hand before you even identify a property. Getting pre-approval for your loan, having a letter that says so, and being able to show you have funds available can be persuasive.
When it comes to making the offer itself, although including “Subject to” clauses will protect you from unforeseen problems with the property, when multiple offers are on the table, the fewer contingencies the better. Again, only preparation will make this reasonable. If you’ve had an advance home inspection, and also made sure that there aren’t any right-of-way or easement issues, your offer can be significantly more attractive.
Personal preparation can be another positive. Visiting the property on several occasions at different times of the day should give you added confidence for what the home is truly worth to you…and when the listing agent and owner can put a face to your offer, it tends to strengthen its validity.
When multiple offers on a property occur, it’s possible that someone is going to bid more than the home is really worth. If you’ve done thorough research and know precisely what its value is in today’s market, that won’t be you. Having your bottom line number unshakably in mind means that in any bidding war, you’ll be able to sweeten your offer without hesitation. You can be creative, perhaps by offering to reduce the seller’s costs by picking up escrow fees, transfer fees or title policies; perhaps by offering the seller a few additional days to move without seeking financial compensation in return; perhaps by increasing the down payment or earnest money. When you know your bottom line, the arithmetic is uncomplicated (and your less-prepared competitors are more likely to throw up their hands!)
And then…should the bidding go over what you know it’s worth, you’ll be ready to walk away. There will be other properties to bid for – and I’m always here to help keep all your options open!
Wednesday, January 22 2014
Market Watch January 2014
Before we talk about 2014, I think this is an excellent time to compare the real estate market in 2013 to the previous year. My ulterior motive is that from virtually any perspective 2013 was a great year!
Unit sales in our market increased just over 10% from 2012 to 2013, while the median price increased 2.2% over the same time frame. While these increases did not improve quite as much as our statewide increases of 13.6% in units and 4.2% in median sales price this was still an excellent year. If you remember Market Watch from a couple of months ago, I pointed out then that the decline in unit sales and median prices was not as great as the state as a whole so I did not expect the increase to be as strong either. 2013 was the best year we have ever had in sales volume. This was the first time that F. C. Tucker Emge Realtors closed over $400 million in sales volume.
In addition to the increase in both homes sold and in prices, there was even more good news. Both days on market and the list price to sales price ratio also improved. Homes are now selling, on average, about 100 days after they are listed, down from 122 days at the beginning of 2012. The final list price to sale price ratio averaged just under 96% for all of 2013. Both of these numbers are sustainable and are good indicators of a stable market.
One statistic that is outside the normal range is the number of homes currently for sale. As of mid December there were 2,326 homes for sale in our MLS. This is the lowest number of homes on the market since May of 2005. The message here is that if you are considering selling your home, get it on the market now. The spring selling season always starts sooner than most sellers think. On average, buyers look for 10 weeks before buying a home. Since it takes 30-45 days for a typical transaction to close, buyers who will actually move in April or May are looking for homes online today. Don't miss the best time of year to get your home on the market, and keep in mind the most visited local website is FCTuckerEmge.com.
If you haven't already registered to receive email notifications of new listings in you geographic area or price range give me a call and I can help you register. You can even help friends or family find what they are looking for. Give me a call if you have any questions about our market or specific questions about the value of your home. You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Friday, January 10 2014
It can take years for first-time buyers to save up for their first home’s down payment, but even after that hurdle has been cleared, it can take even more time to secure a mortgage -- if they have neglected the other part of the equation. Their credit rating.
Before first-time buyers in Evansville will be able to move forward with that initial home purchase, they need to ensure that their credit score does not raise the kind of questions that sometimes derails an otherwise well-qualified home loan applicant. This has always been true, but may become even more likely as lending limitations grow increasingly strict.
But it’s the occasional recording error or misstatement that is most easily preventable. Ironically, those often affect perfectly well-qualified buyers—precisely because they have no reason to suspect that a problem could crop up.
The upshot: first time buyers should start reviewing their credit history one year to six months before they intend to buy a home. Since the credit agencies provide upon request free copies of every individual’s report once each year, the only hassle is having to check the details line-by-line (a single reporting error can have a big impact on an overall score). And since it’s not unusual to take 90 days or more to cure a disputed entry, the earlier a first-time buyer begins the process, the better. Individuals can file a dispute online with the credit bureaus, or can hire a credit repair company to assist with disputes. In all cases, claims should be documented and correct information provided immediately.
Once a first-time buyer is certain that his or her reports are accurate, is it time to relax? Hardly. It’s important to continue to monitor those scores to ensure against accidental surprises. Especially, after wholesale credit card thefts sowed confusion and disruption throughout the system, it’s probably wise to assume nothing. Several online services offer credit monitoring (and it’s possible that your bank might provide free monitoring).
From first-time buyers to seasoned investors, I’m here to help my clients every step of the way. Call me today! You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Thursday, January 09 2014
For most of us, the appeal of new construction—a brand new home which your family is first to own—is undeniable. The idea of being able to select your own floor plan with a layout you like and upgrades built to order is hard to beat.
But home shoppers looking for new construction in Evansville should be particular. If their future home is to meet expectations, some sophisticated questions should be asked and answered before any agreements are reached.
Home models are usually decked out with the best and most expensive furnishings and finishes, unlike more modest packages, where the unadorned dwelling is delivered without any fancy stuff. When you are viewing a home in a new construction development, be sure to ask how much that specific model costs—as-is. You can bet that the figure will be substantially higher than the most widely-advertised low-end price…and when you question what features create the price differences, you’ll readily determine if those are features you consider indispensable. A little arithmetic, and you’ll know how much your home will run.
Some developers have better reputations than others, and you’ll want to work with the very best. Ask for references, of course, and do your own online investigation. Look at the previous new construction projects the developer has worked on and check whether they’ve had numerous complaints filed against them. Don’t necessarily trust every grumpy comment; but you can tell from the general level of satisfaction what you’re likely to experience.
New construction proceeds as a complex process—one where it pays to monitor progress to confirm that you’re getting exactly what you want (with no changes or alterations accidentally slipping through). Before signing on the dotted line, be sure you understand exactly what the construction process entails, and when and how often you’ll be able to enter the site to monitor progress.
Asking the right questions and monitoring finishing work is key in preventing unwanted surprises when it comes to new construction. If you’re interested in learning more about new homes and developments in our area, I’m just a phone call away! You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Wednesday, January 08 2014
The signs are positive for those who will be putting their home on the market this winter. Demand is there, mortgage rates are still low, and across the nation, prices are pointing higher. If you will be selling a home in Evansville anytime soon, there are some extra steps you can take to strengthen your position.
Clarify Your Finances
Getting a home loan will be the concern of the buyer, not you. She or he will have to fill out the forms, go through the credit checks, etc. More subtle is the impact your own financial picture can have on the process of selling a home. If you will be moving to a new home yourself, it’s a good idea to get pre-qualified for that transaction even as you begin selling your home. When you are secure in the knowledge that you have qualified to buy your next home before your current property is sold, it solidifies your bargaining position. If not, you need to know that so you can time your sale’s closing appropriately. Knowledge is power—clarifying your finances will make for smoother sailing.
Selling a home for the best price requires presenting it in its most favorable light. Even minor fixes that are clearly trivial should be tackled before the first prospect crosses the threshold, First impressions are hard to erase, and the psychological impact of even minor problems can influence the apparent value your property commands. Some experienced homeowners even pay for their own advance inspection before selling a home just to identify problem areas it takes an expert’s eye to uncover.
Find the Right Agent
Your choice of Realtor® will have ongoing consequences, so taking the time and effort to find a compatible agent will be well worthwhile. Selling a home in Evansville is a many-faceted project, so find a partner you will enjoy working with— one who communicates openly and honestly about everything from today’s market profile to which service professionals are the most dependable.
Thinking of selling a home in Evansville this winter? Call me for a complimentary consultation. I’m always here to offer the best current marketing ideas! You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Tuesday, January 07 2014
If there is one question that homeowners and prospective shoppers have in common as we enter the New Year, it’s about the direction of local real estate values in 2014. Small wonder: the financial market meltdown of the last decade had such a profound impact on all forms of real estate that it still has many people looking nervously over their shoulders. How likely is another tumble in the coming 12 months? Will real estate values in Evansville continue to rise? Knowing the answer could make a big difference to anyone planning to buy or sell a home in the area this year.
Of course, absolute certainty on that score is not possible for anyone without a time machine in their basement. But, as we look back over last year, we might gain a little bit more confidence by hearing from the experts who got it right in 2013.
Foremost among them was Dr. Lawrence Yun, the chief economist of the National Association of Realtors®. Last year, he was dead-on.
Dr. Yun is calling for a continued rise in prices—pretty much in line with the past year’s gains. To compensate for expected mortgage interest rate gains—the likely effect of the Federal Reserve’s easing of policies that fueled 2013’s financial markets—he suspects that lending institutions will ease borrowing strictures. That’s something we can all applaud!
Overall, if local real estate values in 2014 follow the NAR’s national prognostications, we would expect real estate value increases either like the Wall Street Journal’s quoted prediction of 6%, or of Dr. Yun’s 5%. Either would not be surprising, given last year’s real estate values numbers. What the NAR experts and the Journal also agree upon is a flattening of residential housing sales volume in line with 2013 levels.
How much credence can we give to what the seers predict? Perhaps a little more than usual. “The NAR forecast could be viewed as restrained in light of the housing market’s gains in the past two years,” says the Journal; and “…other 2014 forecasts are fairly close to Mr. Yun’s predictions.”
Thinking of selling a home in Evansville this winter? Call me for a complimentary consultation. I’m always here to offer the best current marketing ideas! You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Monday, December 30 2013
You’re nearing your goal of buying a home in Evansville! You have zeroed in on a property, submitted your offer, and heeded your agent’s advice and ordered a home inspection.
Soooo…what if the inspector finds major issues nobody expected? While most home inspections only uncover small problems that can be fixed easily, some do turn up serious issues. In 2013, 16% of Realtors® reported sales that went off track due to the inspector’s findings. What’s your best course of action if that happens?
Buying a home after major problems have been identified should only proceed after you know how much time and money it will take to solve them. Whether you are dealing with foundation, roofing, electrical, HVAC or plumbing issues, call a few companies that specialize in dealing with structural home repairs, and gather some free quotes. Depending on what you hear, you can then decide to move to modifying your offer or you can walk away and look for another home.
Your agent will be able to assist you in modifying the original offer to the seller. If the issues are truly major and expensive, you may need to negotiate back and forth with the seller to see what they are willing to do. Be prepared to make some concessions, and don’t get frustrated with the process. It may take some time to come to an agreement that satisfies both parties.
As everywhere, buying a is peculiarly both a heavy-duty financial decision as well as one fraught with emotion. People can find themselves tempted to ignore thorny issues simply because they have fallen in love with the home. But since you could end up spending tens of thousands of dollars on repairs, it’s vital to isolate your emotions from the decision.
If the bids you’ve received are astronomical, it could be time to find a better house. But you needn’t despair. This is all part of the process of buying a home—and a big part of why I’m here to help my clients. If you’re buying a home this winter, I’ll look for your call! You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Monday, December 23 2013
This year, the first early signs of Christmas season didn’t seem to arrive too early, maybe because it rushed in so soon after Thanksgiving (which somehow also landed smack dab at the start of Hanukkah).
Still, by now the familiar Christmas carols have been playing long enough that it’s hard to believe there is a man, woman or child left who hasn’t had at least one moment when some familiar chord didn’t summon up a sudden flood of memories. Whether those memories were of a family gathering just last year or of one from the distant past, the holiday season means something unique and special to all of us.
However your family celebrates Christmas or Hanukkuh or Kwanza or simply the Holidays, you have to agree there is something about this corner of the year that borders on magic. Little kids don’t have to be reminded of that: just mention the word “December” any time between April and November, and the eager chatter about presents, or visiting plans, or Santa (or presents again) are bound to erupt. December without the Christmas tree and the decorations, the cheerful colored lights, the cookies (thanks everyone, for those cookies!), the candy canes and gatherings of family and friends…without those, December would be just another month.
Even when the shopping and traveling and all the other sometimes too-frenetic preparations threaten to drive us half to distraction, I for one have to admit this time of year serves as a replenishing break from the relentless march of everyday. And whether it results in a deeply spiritual pause to remember Christ’s birth, or simply a festive celebration (or both!), it also creates an occasion when families allow themselves a special excuse to just be together — if events allow, at the same table — or even if not, in spirit…and nowadays, likely also on jammed-to-capacity cell phone and internet circuits!
So please allow me to wish you all the warmth and good cheer a Christmas can bring. Thank you for making my and my family’s year as bright as it has been. And for you and yours, may this year’s Christmas season bring a Santa’s sleighful of warmth, peace, joy and love!
Friday, December 20 2013
The kids are gone. Your big house seems either dreadfully empty or just plain wasteful. Congrats: you are officially in possession of a empty nest! Now it’s time to consider where and how you want to live next.
When Do You Sell?
It's not a bad time to be selling in Evansville—but since you will be buying, too, you would have to deduce that it might not be the perfect time to be on that side of the table. When you are swapping your full-sized family home for a snug nest for two, you want to get full value for your old home without paying too much for the new one. If you can swing it, you may want to buy before you sell. That puts you in control of the time factor, providing freedom to hold out for a prime offer while you find new digs at a reasonable price.
What Will You Need?
Another challenge that goes with the empty nest situation is the need to accurately foresee future needs. One of the great things about downsizing is the possibility of trading size for features that used to be impractical. According to the Des Moines Register, developers there had rushed to lay new home foundations before winter set in. Anticipating a strong spring buying season, they were building townhome communities—smaller homes with maintenance packages and ranch-style designs ideal for empty nesters and retirees who favor more accessible layouts and community amenities.
How Do You “Dispose” of Your Stuff?
When you think about saying goodbye to your empty nest, you soon realize it’s not quite empty enough. You just don’t need all that accumulated stuff—so after you’ve offered the kids the opportunity to take what they’d like, the best strategies usually combine charitable giving and auctions or yard sales. There’s a lot of utility left in many of the things you don’t need any more, and it would be a shame for it to end up in a landfill.
If you're considering buying or selling in Evansville in the coming year, it's not too early to contact me for a consultation. Good luck…and happy nesting! You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Thursday, December 19 2013
Imagine that you have just moved into your new property, and suddenly you are up against some serious flaw you knew nothing about. Added on top of the normal moving turmoil: now there’s this! You didn’t have a chance to fix things up before you moved in because you were totally in the dark concerning the problem. Imagine the frustration, disappointment, and anger… Enter: lawsuit.
In other words, for you as a seller, there are some pretty convincing reasons to do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
A disclosure is a written statement describing your obligations under state and local laws regarding property flaws you know about. Your disclosure might include structural defects—like leaking windows or cracks in the foundation. It might include landscaping problems, like a branch that endangers a power line; and in some areas could even include air pollution or other environmental factors beyond your control. Any local property issues that the law specifies must be disclosed before the sale is finalized.
The consequences for not following the law can be serious: they could mean a lawsuit seeking the cost of repairs and other damages. In any case, you will want to insulate yourself from these risks by making sure you’re informed about the state of your property in Evansville and by disclosing issues whether or not they are discovered during inspection.
Full disclosure isn’t just the surest way to protect yourself from future legal action — it also lets you rest easy knowing you’ve done the right thing. Don’t assume a buyer will lose interest in your property because there are flaws. All properties have them, and by helping your buyers make informed decisions on what they want to do before they move in, chances are you’ll boost their confidence about the transaction. You’ll feel good knowing that you treated your buyer as you’d want them to treat you, and you’ll feel even better knowing that some non-disclosed property issue won’t come back to haunt you.
Preparing to sell this winter? Call me today to get your home listed and sold! You can reach me on my sell phone 812-499-9234 or email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Wednesday, December 18 2013
Buying a home in Evansville is hardly a do-it-yourself kind of project. Having confidence that the all the i’s are dotted and the t’s crossed requires the input of professionals whose daily dealings keeps them in touch with the current legal and financial arenas.
Call them the “Fundamental Four” — the four groups of professionals you will want to have on your team when buying a home in Evansville this winter.
First and foremost, you need to be sure the money factor is handled in an advantageous way. By far the most popular route is via a mortgage: a home loan. Your specialist here is the professional mortgage broker. He or she will advise you on the types of mortgages available this winter; will work with you to determine the amount you qualify for, the different payment plans you can choose, and guide you through the maze of paperwork.
A real estate agent does more than just sparing you the trouble of going through the listings to find a suitable home. Yes, your agent will help you identify homes for sale that suit your budget and preferences, but will also be a vital part of the negotiating process and the disclosure and associated paperwork. Your agent is actually the professional who ties together the work of all your other consultants.
The inspector is your expert when it comes to verifying the quality of the property itself. He will inspect and prepare a comprehensive report on every critical physical aspect. Buying a home can’t be a guessing game when it comes to the state of the structure itself: your inspector will help you determine if it fits the price tag.
The title/escrow company facilitates the actual transaction itself, which can be a bit more complicated than you might think. They will prepare all the legal documents after inspecting the title of the property, and, via contract, oversee the timing as the home is transferred from the seller to you.
Thinking of buying a home in Evansville this winter? Start with the information that’s just a phone call away. Contact me today! You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Monday, December 16 2013
It’s easy to be caught off guard when the mercury drops before winter has even begun. And this year a visit from unusually early icy blasts of cold from up north has been the rule almost everywhere in the country. This Holiday Season, even local house owners who don’t have to worry about their own house safety may be visiting relatives unprepared for the sudden December tundra; so it’s a good time to go over the Red Cross cold weather Preventive Action guidelines:
- Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing (but: move any harmful cleaners and household chemicals up out of the reach of children). And keep garage doors closed!
- In very cold weather, let the cold water drip from the faucet served by exposed pipes. Running water through the pipe - even at a trickle - helps prevent pipes from freezing.
- If you will be going away, leave the heat on in the house, set to a temperature no lower than 55° F.
Following those tried-and-true guidelines should mean you’re home free. But if you turn on a faucet and only a trickle comes out, suspect a frozen pipe. Trace the culprit: likely places for frozen pipes include against exterior walls or where your water service enters the house through the foundation. To thaw frozen pipes:
- Apply heat to the section of pipe using an electric heating pad wrapped around the pipe, an electric hair dryer, a portable space heater (kept away from flammable materials), or by wrapping pipes with towels soaked in hot water. Do not use a blowtorch, kerosene or propane heater, charcoal stove, or other open flame device—no matter how tempting.
- Keep the faucet open. As you treat the frozen pipe and the frozen area begins to melt, water will begin to flow through the frozen area. Running water through the pipe will help melt ice inside the pipe.
- Check all other faucets in your home to find out if you have additional frozen pipes. If one pipe freezes, others may freeze, too.
- Apply heat until full water pressure is restored. If you are unable to locate the frozen area, if it’s not accessible, or if you cannot thaw the pipe, you’ll have to call a licensed plumber. If you need a reference, call me anytime for this or any other house questions.
You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Wednesday, December 11 2013
According to the National Association of Realtors®, nearly 40% of home buyers will be first-timers this year. In other words, if you are new to the housing market you are certainly not alone. Since first-time home buyers in Evansville experience the same learning curve as anyone everywhere, reviewing some of the more common missteps can spare them some of the angst those common mistakes cause. Some examples:
1) They Don’t Check Their Credit Score
New home buyers focus on the seller’s asking price, but don’t realize how greatly their credit score will affect how much they actually pay. They know their score is important to qualify for a home loan, but not how a low credit score can result in a higher down payment and interest rate. A single percentage point of higher interest over a 30-year timeframe is…you get the picture! The takeaway? Start improving your credit score as soon as possible.
2) They Don’t Lay Out a Budget
First-time home buyers frequently don’t realize the impact of secondary costs. In addition to administrative, insurance and legal costs, there are also closing and other fees which can add 2%-5% to the purchase price. Add in property taxes and possibly monthly neighborhood homeowner’s association fees, and you can see why experienced home buyers first determine their maximum monthly budget figure — then stick to it.
3) They Don’t Double-Check the Neighborhood
Once you’ve set your sights on an exciting new home, it’s natural to quickly proceed to the purchasing details without second-guessing your choice. That’s all well and good — unless you have only visited it a few times, and all at the same time of day or day of the week. Make several return trips to the neighborhood on weekdays and weekends, daytime and nighttime: you want to be sure that your family will be comfortable with the neighborhood (and your future neighbors).
If this winter will find you searching for your new house, I want you to know that I’m here to help my clients every step of the way. Calling me for a consultation is your first step! You can reach me on my cell phone at 812-499-9234 or email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Wednesday, December 11 2013
According to the National Association of Realtors®, nearly 40% of home buyers will be first-timers this year. In other words, if you are new to the housing market you are certainly not alone. Since first-time home buyers in Evansville experience the same learning curve as anyone everywhere, reviewing some of the more common missteps can spare them some of the angst those common mistakes cause. Some examples:
1) They Don’t Check Their Credit Score
New home buyers focus on the seller’s asking price, but don’t realize how greatly their credit score will affect how much they actually pay. They know their score is important to qualify for a home loan, but not how a low credit score can result in a higher down payment and interest rate. A single percentage point of higher interest over a 30-year timeframe is…you get the picture! The takeaway? Start improving your credit score as soon as possible.
2) They Don’t Lay Out a Budget
First-time home buyers frequently don’t realize the impact of secondary costs. In addition to administrative, insurance and legal costs, there are also closing and other fees which can add 2%-5% to the purchase price. Add in property taxes and possibly monthly neighborhood homeowner’s association fees, and you can see why experienced home buyers first determine their maximum monthly budget figure — then stick to it.
3) They Don’t Double-Check the Neighborhood
Once you’ve set your sights on an exciting new home, it’s natural to quickly proceed to the purchasing details without second-guessing your choice. That’s all well and good — unless you have only visited it a few times, and all at the same time of day or day of the week. Make several return trips to the neighborhood on weekdays and weekends, daytime and nighttime: you want to be sure that your family will be comfortable with the neighborhood (and your future neighbors).
If this winter will find you searching for your new house, I want you to know that I’m here to help my clients every step of the way. Calling me for a consultation is your first step! You can reach me on my cell phone at 812-499-9234 or email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Monday, December 09 2013
Consumer confidence certainly seems to wax and wane in a not-totally-predictable manner. What does seem clear is that when the future is cloudy, homebuyers tend to tighten up their purse strings. It’s logical: if you can plan ahead with a greater degree of certainty, you feel better about making the kind of commitment buying an home entails.
If you plan on selling your home in Evansville this winter, you may not be able to do much about whether the economy grows or tanks, or the Federal Reserve expands or shrinks the money supply. But there IS at least one thing you can do to remove uncertainty from the minds of your prospective buyers. Just offer a home warranty!
A home warranty in is an inexpensive plan that provides coverage for items that typically fall outside a traditional home insurance plan. The major kitchen appliances are generally only covered by your home policy if they are damaged in a fire, stolen, or suffer damage resulting from some other covered peril. A home warranty provides reassurance for a much broader scope of damage and mechanical breakdown. Warrantee buyers can also opt to include other large items in the home — like the HVAC system, boilers, water softeners and water heaters.
H.U.D. points out that a home warranty is an increasingly popular inclusion because it offers protection during the period immediately following a home’s purchase — the time when most local home buyers know they will “find themselves cash-strapped.” Although payment can be monthly or annual, most home sellers choose a one-time payment option.
In an uncertain world, are homebuyers reassured when a home warranty is part of your offer? Statistics from the National Home Warranty Association provide their own reassurance: they show that including a home warranty as part of the sale can help a home sell for up to 50% faster.
Even though a home warranty is an added expense, it’s an investment that can pay off in helping your home sell faster — possibly at a higher price, as well. Thinking of selling this winter? Call me today to discuss this and many other ways we can make it happen! You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Monday, December 02 2013
Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist for the National Association of Realtors (NAR), recently gave his annual forecast for home sales for 2014. Dr. Yun has been the chief economist for NAR for several years and was recognized last year by USA Today as one of the top 10 economists in the country.
His estimate for sales of existing homes in 2014 is 5.12 million homes, virtually identical to 2013’s 5.13 million sales. He expects new home sales to reach 508,000 in 2014 compared to 429,000 in 2013. This forecast says total sales will be essentially identical to last year. Although sales may remain flat he expects prices to rise 6% over last year. Steady sales with healthy a price increase is actually pretty impressive when one considers how much sales and prices have improved over the past two years.
Over the past two years cumulative unit’s sales have climbed 20% and prices have increased 18%. Those kinds of increases are clearly not sustainable which make this year’s prediction very positive. Although prices are up Dr. Yun points out “We’ve come off record high housing affordability conditions in the past year, and are now at a five year low, but conditions are still the fifth best in the past 40 years.” Dr. Yun also said that limited inventory; exacerbated by low numbers of new home construction, as well as a tsunami of new federal banking regulations, would hold back home sales.
As is always the case, national statistics are interesting but your home or the one you are thinking about buying are even more interesting. Trends in our market have been similar but less pronounced that the national numbers. What is accurate locally is that although sales and prices have increased, homes are still very affordable. If you would like to know the market value of your home or you are ready to start looking for a new one give me a call. Although real estate is somewhat seasonal, homes do sell during the holidays and in January. There is less competition in the winter and buyers planning to buy in the spring usually start looking months before they buy.
Monday, November 18 2013
When a first-time home buyer begins hunting for the prize that has to serve both as a satisfactory home base and a solid investment, most feel a mixture of excitement (a home is a landmark achievement!) and maybe just a touch of apprehension. Like any expense you’ve never encountered before, it’s appropriate to take extra care the first time out — and to pay attention to what experience teaches. Along those lines, here are some mistakes that are easy for a first-time home buyer to make. Fortunately, they’re also easy to sidestep:
1. Waiting for a better rate
Adjustable rates may well be about as low as they’re going to get right now – and some signs point to an increase in the coming months. For a first-time home owner who will be taking out a loan, if the property is right, hesitating to make a commitment based on a loan rate gamble is seldom a good idea.
2. Thinking short term
Consider thinking of a home as a lifetime investment. Even for those who are single or newly-wedded, it’s possible that being open to a house with extra rooms could end up saving considerably on moving, transaction and agent fees, taxes, etc. It’s equally important to look at neighborhoods and how they are changing and developing. If you do resell your home, location can make a big difference in how.
3. Underestimating hidden costs
The monthly mortgage payment isn’t the ultimate bottom line. When a first-time home buyer comes across a property that fills (or exceeds) everything he or she has been looking for, if the mortgage payment looks to be right, it’s easy to overlook other homeowner expenses. Experienced buyers make hardheaded estimates of maintenance fees and property taxes — they will be every bit as consequential as the mortgage bill.
For a first-time home buyer in Evansville, when thoughtful perspective goes into your final decision, it’s that much more likely to be a decision that pays off in the long run. If you are preparing to buy this fall, I’ll be standing by to help get you started! You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Tuesday, November 12 2013
Conventional wisdom dictates that home sellers prefer cash offers. So what is a typical would-be buyer in Evansville to do when the competition comes forward with an all-cash offer? Cash offers may come from any of a variety of deep-pocketed parties: institutional investors, foreign investors, wealthy families or individual investors.
Beyond doing basic due diligence — gathering as much intel as you can about the property and the seller’s needs — if you’ve found the perfect home and are convinced it is the best property for your family, consider one or more of these tactics:
Bidding over asking — even by as little as 2% or 3% — can sometimes win the day, according to Noah Rosenblatt, founder of Urban Digs, a real estate analytics company. Cash buyers typically factor in opportunity costs, making it less likely that they will go beyond a certain price threshold. No one wants to pay more for a property than necessary, but going “over asking” may be the only way to secure an ideal property when cash offers are competing.
Removing any contingencies from your offer will help strengthen your position and may well convince a local seller that you are the party most likely to close successfully. The downside is that you will be assuming whatever risk had been the subject of the contingency in the first place. For example, if you were to submit an offer less any inspection contingencies, you might have to pay more than budgeted down the road if undiscovered repairs crop up.
The seller’s goal is maximize net return, so any term you add that puts more money in the seller’s pocket can sway the decision in your favor. Creative thinking pays. You might offer to pay the seller’s closing costs, cover your own Home Warranty policy, or any other add-on that has the desired effect.
While cash may be king in most cases, there are ways to compete with cash offers in Evansville. If you are looking for an agent with constructive solutions to help you find and secure the right property, why not call me today to take advantage of this fall’s inventory? You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Monday, November 11 2013
When you step outside and feel a crisp chill in the air, you know it: winter is on the way. If events have so ordered themselves that you find yourself selling your home in Evansville during the winter months, you’re probably aware that it is not the preferred real estate season. Prospects are less likely to be out and about touring properties when the weather can interfere; the holidays take huge chunks out of everybody’s schedule (not to mention the havoc wreaked on family budgets) — plus, the aura of optimism that arrives at springtime won’t arrive until far in the future…
Nonetheless, selling your home during the winter months is eminently doable! In fact, because fewer offerings will be competing for the quite determined corps of would-be homebuyers, selling your home during the winter months can actually yield an outstanding result. Veteran sellers know how to maximize that prospect:
1. Advertise with spring or summer photos
Showing what your house looks like when the weather’s prettiest will be warmly received. Don’t rely on prospective homebuyers’ imaginations to do it as well.
2. Make your home cozy
Selling your home in Evansville during the cooler months is actually an opportunity to show it at its “homiest.” Light the fireplace; turn on all the lamps; bake those chocolate chip cookies (or light scented candles — cinnamon is a holiday favorite).
3. Fine-tune the thermostat
People are turned off when a home feels chilly — just as they appreciate stepping into a warm and cozy listing (especially if they were just touring a vacant home).
4. Set a reasonable asking price
If you are going to be selling your home in Evansville during the approaching holiday season, it’s not the best time to “test the market.” Selling in a timely manner requires pricing the property accurately. You want to motivate the serious buyers to take a break from holiday obligations to turn out to view your house.
If you’ve been contemplating the idea of selling your home in Evansville, know that there will be winter buyers out there. Call me today — let’s find them! You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Thursday, October 31 2013
The national landscape for real estate has changed over the course of this year. Clearly 2013 has been an excellent year for real estate sales nationwide. Nationally year-to-date unit sales through September climbed 15%, while statewide units were up 14% and our local market increased 16%. Although these numbers are excellent the market is experiencing some other changes.
The mix of buyers has changed over the past few years. Investors represented about 34% of all buyers so far this year, while the percentage of first time buyers is fewer than 30%, a significant drop from historical levels, which have been closer to 40%. This relatively high percentage of investor buyers suggests that professional investors still feel real estate is a good investment. First time buyers have not declined because they don’t want to own their own home. Contrary to some articles you may have seen, the desire to own a home continues to be a goal across age groups. Survey after survey shows that if buyers have the ability to own a home they have a strong preference for owning vs. renting. There are two very clear reasons that the number of first time buyers has declined. One reason is the difficulty in obtaining mortgage loans. Increased banking regulations have made borrowing money an onerous process. Lenders have money and want to lend, unfortunately they are required to comply with expensive regulations making the entire process more cumbersome for everyone.
One additional positive in the housing market is the continued improvement in homeowner equity. Short sales and foreclosures have unfortunately been a significant portion of the market the past few years. With improved prices and more buyers the number of homes “underwater” has declined significantly. Current estimates suggest that over 8 million homeowners who currently owe more than their home is worth will be in a positive equity situation over the next 15 months.
Strong demand from investors, a strong desire to own vs. rent, and an improved equity situation all suggest that housing will stay strong for the foreseeable future.
Best wishes for the upcoming holiday season and please let me know if I can help with any of your or your friends housing needs. You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Friday, October 18 2013
Even though local property prices continue to recover, the current market can still present challenges. No one understands this better than homeowners who are re-listing this fall. For some of them, surrounding seas of “For Sale” signs created a less-than-appealing neighborhood setting. Others drew buyers who weren’t able to secure financing in the uncertain mortgage environment. Whatever the reason, it can be disheartening for anyone who has to re-list their property.
Once you undertake a repeat attempt to sell your home, you want to be certain the job gets done right. A key part of that will be ensuring successful showings. It’s estimated that well-staged homes sell as much as 50% faster than those not “dressed for sale.”
Most buyers begin their search online, so take a look at its online marketing. A buyer who dismisses your property outright without a visit means one less chance to close a sale. Be sure you show multiple photos that show the property in the best possible light. If that's not the case, and professional photography might provide the solution.
Give the property another thorough cleaning. You cleaned your home for your first open house, but now that time has passed, your house certainly needs deep cleaning again. In particular focus on the two areas that get messiest fastest: bathrooms and kitchen rooms buyers look at first.
Take a look at timing: specifically, the times you choose to show your home. Try holding an open house between 3-5pm. This will make your home one of the last that prospects view. If they are still looking at day's end, chances are they are serious about buying a property. This slot also helps avoid viewing conflicts with other homes.
Sure, it's disappointing any time a home doesn't sell immediately, but that needn't mean it won’t succeed the second time around. In most parts of the country, real estate has been trending upwards and more buyers are entering the market. You're only looking for that one person who appreciates your property. Ready to get a fresh start? Then call me: let's get going! You Can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email at Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Wednesday, October 16 2013
In Evansville's competitive housing market, shrewdly targeting which (if any) renovations to make prior to listing your home can sharply affect not only its DOM (days on market), but the price it ultimately brings. After making any obviously needed repairs any that would be standout deficiencies left untended you must still decide, what else?
Of the welter of possibilities you could choose before your property appears in the local listings, recent studies show some renovations have the greatest impact on selling prices.
An inviting outside entertainment area is a significant plus for many prospects, so the addition of a wooden deck heads the list. A deck is relatively quick and easy to install, so when Remodeling Magazine reports a 77% return at sale, being able to add “entertainment deck” seems an economical way to add appeal to any listing. If you already have a deck, you might consider expanding or improving it.
Since the kitchen is the heart of a home, even a modest improvement like freshening up cabinets or upgrading an appliance or two can make a dramatic impact on salability. If your home is already priced at the high end of the market, simply adding granite countertops is an investment that's not likely to add significantly to the bottom line...whereas the return on minor kitchen improvements is measured in the neighborhood of 75%.
For an older home, changing out questionable windows with new, environmentally advanced ones can create a listing feature that's ads appeal to utility cost-conscious home buyers. Window replacement is a quick fix; and if you already have newer windows, an upgrade to siding can add one fewer thing potential buyers find to worry about...and one more reason to choose your offering.
Such easy fixes are ways to increase the instant appeal of your listing without severely denting your pocketbook. Being conscious of the way your listing compares with others in town will put you ahead of the pack. Another way: call me for more ideas to make your home an irresistible buy! You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Tuesday, October 15 2013
If you’re looking for a superior deal on a new home, you may find that a local bank-owned home is a serious contender. Today’s real estate market includes a variety of foreclosed homes, some of which can be had at prices well below baseline levels.
Adding to the activity in that sector is the virtual disappearance of any degree of the stigma formerly attached to the bank-owned home market. By May of 2012, Realtor Magazine was already reporting how the rise in distressed inventories had brought about an increased appetite for the sector: “Nearly 65% of buyers say they’re likely to buy a foreclosure today compared to 25% who said that in October 2009.” And 92% of those surveyed were interested in a bank-owned home as their primary residence, rather than as an investment vehicle.
If you think a local bank-owned home could be a serious contender for your attention, you should be aware of how to best prepare for the opportunities to be had among them.
Pre-qualification not only speeds up the purchase of a bank-owned home, it also produces a concrete range for your home-buying budget. Some banks charge a fee for the credit-checking procedure, while others simply build that into the bottom line.
Beware Potential Property Issues
The biggest issue facing the buyer of a foreclosed home is the potential for damage to the property. If it’s been vacant for some time, issues tied to improper weatherization or pest infestation can have resulted. A bank-owned home is typically sold as-is — so ordering a thorough, professional home inspection is an absolute must.
Buying a bank-owned home in Evansville can proceed on a different timetable than does a regular home buy, so be prepared to be patient. It’s also particularly helpful to have a buyer’s agent on your team to help answer questions as they arise.
If you are in the market for a new home this fall — whether it be a bank-owned home or not — I’m here to advise my clients from beginning to end. Getting started is just a phone call away! You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Monday, October 14 2013
Believe it or not, it takes home-seekers an average of 12 weeks to find a home. To shorten that time, there is nothing more useful than the Internet’s Multiple Listing Service. When you are working with a buyer’s agent, the lion’s share of the work will be done for you — but when you participate in the online search, too, it makes a dynamite combination!
Starting out with a clear idea of the features you think of as “must-have’s” will save the most time and effort. This doesn’t mean every feature you would ever consider a plus; these should be the items that you must have. Your deal-breakers.
Use these to pare down the MLS listings you examine more thoroughly. Chances are you’re going to find many homes that match your broader requirements, so narrowing the field will let you channel your time toward the best potential candidates.
MLS listings are available either by city or by region. If you’re open to examining a wider area, you’ll find a greater number of properties within your price range that list your key features. If you can’t find regional MLS listings near Evansville of interest, your agent will help expand your search. Sometimes this broadening of horizons uncovers the ideal property.
The local MLS listings are updated on a regular basis, so staying on top of the market involves revisiting the listings every few days. In case that sounds overly labor-intensive, your agent can sign you up to receive auto-alerts via email whenever a new qualified MLS listing comes online. It’s also a fact that not all real estate firms keep every one of their MLS listings absolutely current, so calling your agent as soon as you see something you like will keep you ahead of the crowd.
The MLS listings in Evansville offer a one-stop destination for identifying numerous candidate properties — as well as the ability to efficiently filter the results you find. If you’re in the market for a new home, using the local MLS listings will be a welcome aid. Call me today to help organize a comprehensive search effort! You can reach me in my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Wednesday, October 09 2013
Rushing to sell your home is never desirable — but circumstances sometimes require it. To sell your home in Evansville quickly, the most important factor is finding the right price. Too high a price will dampen buyer interest — but of course you don’t want to set the price too low, either. Here’s one way to find the right price:
First, complete all repairs. They’ll have to be addressed at some point, so getting them out of the way first clears the deck for your sale. To sell your home quickly, you want to feature it in the best possible light…meaning that all of the little (as well as major) repairs have to disappear from the picture. A few hours or days of hard work can have a disproportionate impact on the ultimate selling price.
Next, familiarize yourself with local competitors. Scour the listings for homes in your area and attend any open houses you find. Get a feel for the way homes in the neighborhood are being listed, and which features look to be adding the most value.
It’s also a good idea to consult a qualified appraiser. Most homes will be appraised before sale anyway, and a certified appraiser will offer an unbiased view of your home’s value. Having a recent certified appraisal can also serve to encourage buyers to write an offer quickly.
At this point it will be possible to set the value. There are differing approaches to setting the price for a home, but they share a few things in common. Each generally takes into account average prices paid in recent comparable area sales combined with the appraiser’s feedback. To sell your home speedily, consider setting your price three to five percent below that formulation. While this may seem unnecessarily low, the idea is to encourage immediate interest from multiple buyers, setting up the potential for competing offers. One thing is nearly certain: a lower-than-average price will get more buyers through your door!
Planning to sell your home in Evansville this fall? Contact me today to learn more about building a sales attack designed to get results! You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Friday, September 13 2013
Whenever you hear that a neighbor’s house is on the market, the same question flashes through nearly every homeowner's mind: how much are they asking?
That's because of the nature of residential markets: our own homes' real estate values (in fact, all local real estate values) are connected with one another, and that asking price is an estimate of the current state of affairs. It has to be reasonable in order to attract the attention of serious buyers — but if it’s too reasonable, on closing day the seller will walk away with a lighter bank account than necessary.
Real estate values in Evansville are determined in large part by what other similar homes have recently sold for. These comparable sales show what a real world bank was willing to lend, and how many dollars a real life buyer was willing to pay. “Comps” are to real estate values what the Dow Jones is to securities: a trustworthy reality check, no kidding around.
How 'comparable' a comp is depends on a number of factors to be taken into account:
- The structure
The structure of a comp sale will have similar square footage, number of bedrooms, etc. Its condition is a value judgment best made by professional appraisers. Amenities can include everything from upgrades in a development to added features like central air conditioning or a Jacuzzi. And location means a great deal (is it in a high crime area?) — as does the similar but more precise neighborhood (are the neighbors taking care of their yards? Are the schools first-rate?).
Ultimately, when determining real estate values for area homes, appraisers take into account much more than just the house itself. That’s why when you set out to find a home for your family it’s important to look beyond the physical facets of the house alone: should you later decide to sell it, the whole host of factors will come into play. Whether you are buying or selling a home in Evansville this fall, contact me today for a pricing evaluation. You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Thursday, September 12 2013
If the area’s baby boomers are echoing national demographics, they are either already enjoying retirement or are preparing for it. But for soon-to-be seniors, that word retirement has taken on some new connotations. Today’s seniors may be headed to a retirement with some major differences.
Taken as a whole, boomers remain a markedly active group — one less likely to consider a 65th birthday the end marker for their working life. Yet for those buying a home in Evansville that will make their senior years as comfortable as possible, their choices are bound to differ greatly from those they’ve made in years past. According to the National Association of Home Builders, the 76-million-strong boomer generation is already registering some new preferences:
Semi-retired is the new retired. Instead of giving up on work completely, many retirement-age homeowners choose to start small home-based businesses to supplement their income (or follow up on their passions). The home office is also a fine command center for researching vacation ideas, running household affairs — or whipping up the next Great American Novel.
Big windows and superior lighting not only bring home a cheery look, but that light makes everything easier to see and navigate around. Accidental fall prevention may not be the top priority for a member of the 55-plus group who’s buying a home in Evansville, but if the health statistics are correct, it ought to be a major consideration.
Chances are increasingly good that a typical boomer will live a long time, but that also means arthritis and age will come into the picture, as well. Buying a home with wider doorways and halls mean buying a home that’s potentially wheelchair-friendly!
Future retirees have an increasingly sophisticated relationship with technology, so in addition to Internet access, remote-controlled lighting and alarm systems are becoming more commonplace.
Whether or not you are approaching retirement, when you set about buying a home in Evansville, it’s my job to help you find one that will fit your needs for the long term. Contact me today! You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or by email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Monday, September 09 2013
There are a lot of positive things to discuss about real estate in this month’s Market Watch, both locally and nationally. Although from both perspectives the news is good, the news is not necessarily the same.
According to Lawrence Yun, chief economist for The National Association of Realtors, sales prices nationally are 13.7% above last year’s levels. Prices are still 7.3% below their all time high (July 2006). Days on market data is more difficult to obtain accurately but best estimates are in the 60-70 day range. There is currently a 5.1 month supply of homes on the market. Several factors influence these statistics. Cash buyers represent 31% of the market. This segment is largely represented by investors, who obviously view real estate as an attractive long term investment. Distressed properties represented 15% of all sales in July. That percentage is down about 40% from its high but is still almost double the historical average. This suggests that shadow inventory is disappearing, which is good, but it will still take a couple of years to get back to historically normal levels. Finally, first time buyers currently represent about 29% of the market, substantially below the normal 40-45% of the market.
Locally, our market is very similar to the rest of the nation in terms of month’s supply of inventory. We currently have a little under 5.3 months supply and have been under six months supply since April. Our days on market is higher than most of the country and is still just over 100 days. The most interesting comparison however is sales price and how it has changed. While year-to-date sales prices are only up 4.7% from last year’s average our market is now at the highest level of both average and median prices we have ever seen. The median price in our market declined for 4 consecutive years and our low point was in 2009. Since that time our median price has increased every year with this year representing the highest average and median prices we have ever experienced in this market. While it may not feel that way our market simply did not decline as much as the nation as a whole and our market has, at least in terms of price, completely recovered from the recession.
One interesting thought I had after looking at this data was that it all made sense to me except I would have thought our days on market would be lower than it is, given all of the other market conditions. I asked another Realtor in our office what she thought and she said
“It’s simple. Houses priced right in excellent condition sell quickly. Houses that need work or are a little over priced just sit on the market”. She is right. If you want to know the right price for your home or if you need some tips on getting your house ready to sell give me a call today. If you want to see some homes visit FCTuckerEmge.com or give me a call. You can reach me on my cell phone at 812-499-9234.
Friday, September 06 2013
Have you ever driven by fantastic-looking homes one week, only to notice that they have lost their appeal only a few weeks later? Chances are such a nosedive in curb appeal could be due to an unrealistic approach to front yard landscaping. Especially as homes approach fall weather changes, and even more notably for homes that are about to be put on the market, reality (instead of fantasy) should rule when landscape design changes are being decided.
The key is maintenance. Taking care of lush landscaping is a time-consuming activity, so if you are not a garden hobbyist dedicated to the mowing, fertilizing, spraying, pruning, and weeding that elaborate greenscapes require, your choices are to be willing to pay a pro to keep on top of it all, or…actually, that’s your only choice!
Yesterday’s impressive front yard can turn ragged in days if it is neglected. Whether you’re a busy professional or overscheduled soccer mom, homes for sale require constant attention to the front yard landscaping. That curb appeal either invites a call to your Realtor® — or a drive past without a second look.
That same reality factor that may prompt a decision to install a modest, less-expansive lawn and plantings can affect the number of potential buyers. That’s especially true if your target market weighs heavily with retirees, busy professionals, active families, or folks looking for second homes to use as vacation getaways or income properties. Many of those buyers will gravitate toward homes that won’t cost a lot of money to re-landscape to lower maintenance requirements.
Local homes with easy-maintenance yards that still present a natural feel can be big winners in today’s market. Along the same lines of less is more, having gnomes, deer or other ornaments on your lawn is generally a turnoff. You can add to that list too much “stuff” in the backyard.
If you’re planning to list your home for sale in Evansville this fall, it’s time to do some serious planning. I offer pre-marketing consultations to help prepare area homes for the market. Call me today to schedule yours! You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Thursday, September 05 2013
The advance home inspection process in Evansville plays a pivotal role to both seller and buyer. Correcting problems at an early stage increases a home's appeal — and its selling price. An advance inspection also sets the stage for a favorable final inspection report for the buyer (and the buyer’s lender), expediting a sale.
Yet according to home inspection experts, approximately half the homes on the resale market today have at least one significant defect! Advance knowledge of imperfections or malfunctioning systems in a property helps buyers commit if the house is a worthwhile buy. And knowing trouble spots in advance helps a seller set an attractive price.
Whether you are buying or selling, here are a few tips to help you have a trouble-free final inspection this fall:
Minimum scope for a home inspection in Evansville should include roof, plumbing, foundation, electrical wiring and central heating and/or air-conditioning. Except under special circumstances (those would include REO or estate sales), sellers are uniformly required to provide disclosure information about the property. Present these disclosures to your inspector, so he can double-check known issues first, and go over them with you during the inspection.
A pest control inspector is sometimes considered optional, but is really highly recommended. This inspector makes a specialized report for any areas infested with pests that could damage the home. Even if the home looks terrific and was recently serviced, underlying pest issues can be some of the most expensive to correct. They can derail a loan in no time.
Mold, asbestos, radon and other potentially harmful substances are not always included in a home inspection: they require a specialized license. If you are concerned about these elements, or live in a neighborhood where they are known to be a problem – consider adding additional inspections.
Knowledge is power when it comes to home inspections in town: the more you know in advance, the stronger your negotiating position will be. If you are preparing to buy or sell this fall, give me a call! I’m here to protect and advise my clients every step of the way. You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Tuesday, July 30 2013
Last month I said I would make this month’s Market Watch a comparison of the first six months of 2012 to the first six months of 2013. I knew this would be fun because by every measure, the first six months of 2013 have been better than the first six months of 2012.
- Number of sold homes increased from 2095 units to 2390 units é 14.1%
- Average sales price increased from $125,838 to $131,171 é 4.2%
- Dollar volume of closed sales increased from $262.1 million to $310.8 million
- List price to sale price ratio increased from 95.40% to 96.36% é .96%
- Days on market decreased from 124 to 111 days ê 13 days
Our area’s increase is in line with statewide changes. Nationally we exceeded unit increases and trailed price changes. Statewide unit sales increased 17.8% and the average price increased 4.3%. Nationally unit sales increased 13% and prices jumped 15%.
We are very proud of our performance at F.C. Tucker Emge Realtors through the first six months of the year. As a potential seller you should be very happy to know that our days on market and our list price to sale price are significantly better than our competition. Our days on market for the first six months of this year were 97 days (compared to the market of 111 days) and our list price to sale price ratio for the same period was 97.36%, a full percentage point higher than the competition. This means that on the average transaction at F.C. Tucker Emge Realtors our clients sold their house 12.6% faster and our seller received over $1,600 more for their house than did clients of our competitors.
Enjoy the rest of the summer and please call or email if I can help with your or any of your friends real estate needs. You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Wednesday, July 17 2013
Buying a house for the first time! It means you’ll be joining the club: the home ownership club that Americans have traditionally recognized as emblematic of the fullest community membership. It’s an exciting endeavour — one that ushers in a whole new realm of pride, maturity…and of a truly major commitment.
It’s the show of responsibility that’s the reason home ownership bestows automatic respect from the community. It is, after all, unmistakable evidence of long-term stability, as well as commitment to deal with the future with all it holds — known and unknown. That commitment is something all homeowners share.
Today, buying a house in Evansville means entering a changing market. Still-historically low interest rates continue, but now they have started to rise. Broader lending prospects are improving along with that rise (which is the good news). But especially for first-time buyers, it should also mean that it is doubly important to think of the long term, and to let caution and prudence lead to a buying decision that will prove to be the right choice for the future.
What that means when buying a house in Evansville, especially when taking advantage of an attractive adjustable interest rate (ARM) loan, is to plan for the likelihood that monthly repayments will eventually increase. Before taking advantage of a great deal, consider whether you will be able to manage monthly repayments if they jump by 1, 2 — even 3%. Although it’s only natural to expect that your family income will grow as time passes and professional experience broadens, cautious buyers keep their budget in line with actual current finances. And they make hard-headed estimates of the upkeep expenses that accompany home ownership.
If the past seven years have taught anything about buying a house, it’s the advantage of tempering optimism with realism. I’m here to help my clients make educated real estate decisions for the short term and long term. If you’ve been preparing to make that exciting first buy, I hope you will give me a call to meet and discuss your goals and the current market – I’d love to hear from you! You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or by email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Tuesday, July 16 2013
Last month’s RealtyTrac foreclosure roundup showed that for the first time in a while foreclosure activity across the nation was on the increase. Largely due to an 11% month-over-month increase in bank repossessions (REOs), U.S. foreclosure starts increased 4% from the previous month. It wouldn’t be surprising if that kind of news winds up resulting in renewed buyer interest in the area’s bank-owned home market.
Daren Blomquist, RealtyTrac’s vice president, had previously pointed out the state of the market. “While distressed properties — whether bank-owned, pre-foreclosure or short sales not in foreclosure — are still selling at a significant discount compared to non-distressed properties, average distressed property prices are increasing in many markets thanks to strong demand and limited inventory.”
Achieving the best end result from today’s REO prospects does take skill in dealing with the bank. Naturally, it’s a good starting point to team with an experienced agent. Knowledge is power, and being able to rely on a professional with a recent history of successful negotiations is the surest way to approach a bank. The guidance you get can make all the difference when it comes to writing a winning proposal.
Do consider properties that have been slow to move. Even if some bank-owned homes in Evansville are flying off the market after multiple offers, properties with a history of failing to sell can be your ripest targets. Don’t automatically be put off by the prospect of homes that clearly need some repairs. It may be possible to still save handsomely after adjusting for refurbishment and maintenance.
If you find a bank-owned home with potential, it’s important to steel yourself for the possibility of being outbid by a less cautious buyer. If you’re also prepared to take your time – to really play hardball with the bank — you may lose any given property, but are in the right frame of mind to make the most of a local bank-owned home opportunity.
Whether you’re looking for a bank-owned home in Evansville – or just a great property – I’m here to help my buyers get the best deal possible! You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Monday, July 15 2013
For Evansville homeowners and soon-to-be homeowners, it looks like the end for deeply depressed mortgage rates. Nationally, rising rates have temporarily created a downdraft in home loan applications.
According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, mortgage applications fell 4% in the first week of July after plummeting 11.7% the week before. ‘The Market Composite Index’ is the measure of mortgage loan application volume — and it decreased 4.0% from a week earlier (on a seasonally adjusted basis). Altogether, national mortgage applications so far this July are about a third below their level of a year ago.
The drop in applications comes as no surprise to those of us who keep a steady watch on mortgage rate trends. But there is one accompanying fact that wouldn’t have been as predictable. As USA Today notes, “Despite the rise in rates…the four-year average for home purchases continues to climb since it turned upward in November 2011.”
So what do these apparently contradictory stats mean for local residents preparing to sell or buy a house?
Whichever part of the equation you fall into, it’s certainly time to get moving! If you’re considering selling, you will want to put your home on the market to take advantage of the still historically low mortgage rates. It’s often the case that rising mortgage rates spur a last-minute home-buying rush. If you’re planning on buying in, rising mortgage rates are a pretty good indication that it’s time to put the pedal to the metal.
Either way, if you’re thinking of buying or selling in Evansville this summer, I’m standing by to lend a hand. Give me a call to discuss the full picture — including the latest price movement in area neighborhoods. You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Tuesday, June 25 2013
On Thursday, Bloomberg’s online news service confirmed what we had been hearing in more general terms: “Sales of previously owned U.S. homes climbed more than forecast in May…and prices jumped, indicating more progress for residential real estate.” Agents here in Evansville would also not have been surprised at the national surge in selling prices “by the most since October 2005”. If you were already inclined to sell your own home, it looks more and more as if this summer will be a propitious time to jump on the opportunity.
As real estate agents gear up to maximize the market’s improvement, homeowners are also weighing some of the more popular alternatives for boosting valuations when it comes to selling —
- Prospective homebuyers are increasingly energy savvy, so when new appliances need to be updated prior to sale, the more energy-efficient they are, the more worth highlighting they will be. Real estate agents know how to emphasize a property’s ‘green’ attributes.
- If you have an attic or a basement that is currently serving little purpose, conversion can pay off. Basements are often the more affordable option since they call for little structural remodelling. Conversions can be into a games room, office, or utility area. Attics are often best converted to bedrooms or office space (or at least staged to suggest the possibility).
- In Evansville, real estate agents love to offer properties with decks — especially in the summertime. If you are prepared to engage in a little DIY, adding a deck can be among the most cost-effective of improvements. According to HGTV, the cost of a professionally built deck starts at about $15 per square foot, with more elaborate installations featuring costly hardwoods or composite materials running closer to $35.
Even if you do not intend to sell, a little extra money invested in your home may be a dollar-wise idea. Thoughtful investments can enrich your own living experience AND attract higher prices when the time comes to move on. If you’re looking for a real estate agent in Evansville, call me today to go over other improvement ideas. You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Wednesday, June 19 2013
With housing prices on the rebound, it’s easy to see why some homeowners find buying an additional property an increasingly attractive possibility. Getting into the landlord business offers the appeal of a growth investment coupled with the possibility of a favorable cash flow situation.
That said, make no mistake about it: renting a home in Evansville is its own business enterprise. Becoming a landlord means making business decisions that carry elements of risk as well as reward. When renting a home in Evansville, there are a number of common — but avoidable — first-time landlord mistakes:
Fair Housing Violations
From the moment you begin marketing your income property, the language in your ad can easily run afoul of the fair housing rules that prohibit discrimination. Avoid phrases that single out any particular group or profile, such as “family-friendly,” “suitable for a couple,” or “singles only.” Since violations can run up to six figures, make sure your ad simply describes the property and the neighborhood in generic terms — and be prepared to accept the first qualified applicant who meets your terms.
Credit Report Mistakes
Another common mistake when renting a home in Evansville is to fail to adequately qualify applicants. Today, accepting credit reports supplied by the applicants themselves is a gamble. Run credit reports yourself (including an eviction check for every applicant over the age of 18). You want to see the history of ALL applicants who will be living in your income property.
Security Deposit Mistakes
When it comes to the security deposit, taking too much – or not enough – is another common first-timer misstep. Too little and you won’t have enough protection; too much, and you risk violating state regulations (with the possibility of jeopardizing your right to use any of the funds!).
Renting a home can be an outstanding wealth-building venture, but your responsibilities as landlord must be taken seriously. For anyone unsure about legal requirements, hiring a professional property management agency can make good business sense. I’m here with recommendations for my clients on these and all other matters that accompany your real estate opportunities. You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Monday, June 17 2013
The graduations are just finishing up, most summer getaway are booked, and with the end of June soon to be coming our way, many homeowners may be thinking more about holiday weekends and BBQs than home maintenance. But for those selling a home this summer, keeping ahead of upkeep issues will become an important part of the project. Some items that bear watching:
The best time to clean air conditioners is before you fire them up for the first time…but since the AC always seem to be needed sooner than expected, few of us do. Never mind: sooner is better than later — and if you're selling your home in Evansville this summer, you'll want to keep the home comfortable at all times for potential buyers. Your owner's manual should explain how to change filters and clean coils and fins.
Everyone knows how important clearing clutter is for selling your home, but don't forget to stash the winter's heating paraphernalia. While you’re storing any portable heaters, pull the filters from the central furnace and pick up replacements next time you’re at the hardware store. When potential buyers see the new replacements neatly placed where they’ll be handy come winter, they are likely to register that this is one property owner who is well ahead of maintenance issues.
Cleaning the windows and window coverings is a chore none of us looks forward to. But when you're selling your home in this summer, few touches pay off like windows that shine, shine, shine! Choose one of our sunny days and see if you can get someone to work with you — and if you can spare an extra hour or so, hose off the screens and lay them out in the sun to dry.
Selling your home in Evansville is less taxing when you put yourself a step ahead on maintenance. Then call a hard-working agent like me to put the rest of a well thought-out marketing plan into action. I’ll be working all summer to help bring you top dollar for your home. You can reach me on my cell phone at 812-499-9234 or email: Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Thursday, May 30 2013
Although home sales have improved across all regions of the country, including our local market, I believe there are some subtle differences in both the results and the reasons. First, from a national perspective, existing home sales increased again in April to an annualized rate of almost 5 million homes. This is up 9.7% from the same time last year. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR) median sale prices for existing homes were up 11% in April compared to April of 2012. Nationally foreclosures and short sales accounted for 18% of sales in April, down significantly from 28% last April. Finally the days on market number nationally has declined significantly to only 46 days this April compared to 83 days last April.
Locally we have seen improvements in all of the same areas but for the most part they have not been as dramatic. For the first four months of this year unit sales, (both existing and new combined) have increased 9.1% over the first four months of last year. I am confident that trend will continue for the next couple of months based on pending activity which has already occurred. Our improvements in days on market and average prices have been much less spectacular. Both have improved but not by statistically significant amounts. We have however seen a .67% improvement in the list price to sale price ratio or just over $1,000 on a sale price of $150,000.
There is a big difference in the reason for today’s sales figures and the real estate boom of 2005 and 2006. In 2005 and 2006 the market was fueled by “easy money”, meaning lending standards were too lenient and a significant number of buyers were ultimately foreclosed upon. Today’s market is based on a more tested economic reality, supply and demand. Nationally in April there was a 5.2 month supply of homes on the market. Locally April supply was similar at 5.65 months supply. Three reasons for this decline in inventory are reduced foreclosures, a return to a more normal level of buying activity and new construction has not caught up to current demand.
What does all this mean to you? If you are a buyer, interest rates are at bargain prices and local home prices have not increased dramatically. Both interest rates and home prices will ultimately rise. If you are a seller, housing supply has decreased and new construction has not caught up so there is less competition. If you would like to know what your house is worth give me a call and I can help you determine the market value of your home. If you are thinking about buying you can see what’s on the market at FCTuckerEmge.com or just give me a call. You can reach me on my cell phone at 812-499-9234 or email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Monday, May 20 2013
When I update local readers about the latest news in housing prices, it’s usually not as ‘latest’ as I’d like. The reason is that there is a delay in most of the truly reliable indexes that measure housing prices. The big indexes are national (local housing prices are another matter), and they have a built-in two-month delay.
We can look at trends and directions, but if there is a change afoot, we won’t be sure of that for about 60 days.
Last week, The Wall Street Journal found a way to present unusually fresh numbers. Reporter Nick Timiraos ignored the S&P/Case-Shiller Index, which reported statistics from back in March, and leapfrogged into April with the first solid news about our much-anticipated spring selling season.
It shows a startling 2.7% one-month increase: the largest March-to-April gain in any of the 17 years since the series was first reported.
“The monthly gain blew away all past Aprils,” said an economist at Credit Suisse. The basis of the reports comes from last Wednesday’s release of the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ producer-price index, which measures prices in the whole economy (at least as seen by manufacturers and wholesalers). It’s a backdoor way to gauge housing prices when you examine prices received by real estate agents.
The numbers showed a 9.1% gain over housing prices from a year ago…and remember, big price rises were already happening by then. The takeaway, per the Journal, “Don’t be surprised to see continued increases in prices and sales in the next batch of housing reports.”
Professors Case and Shiller are certainly standing by to give us those. And in case you would like a more locally focused update on our recent area housing prices, I’m standing by, too — why not give me a call today? You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Thursday, May 16 2013
You are buying a second home: this will be more than a sizeable investment — by any measure, it’s a considerable personal achievement as well.
That second home may be a family retreat, a vacation property you will be renting out (at least part time); or a pure income-producing rental. When a realistic appraisal says that you won’t be able to devote much time and attention to your new holding, the way to fill that gap is to locate an experienced local property manager.
As you will learn, it’s a specialized field. According to the latest studies, the median income for property managers nationwide tops $80,000 per year — a pretty trustworthy real world indicator that what they do has substantial value. If your second home is going to do duty earning additional income, the last thing you want is to face a commitment that competes with your full-time profession. Yet when tenants experience problems, dealing with them right away is a ‘stitch in time’ that does more than fostering good will. It can wind up saving money!
Your new property is a business, and like any, needs cash flow supervision. A vacation home, for instance, may from time to time incur unforeseen end-of-stay housekeeping costs which could require an extra payment. Your local property manager will handle this kind of problem for you (in fact, he or she probably made sure your rental contract foresaw this in the first place!).
Whether or not you buy your second home for profit, you want it to be more of a joy than a burden. A professional property manager delivers insulation from the smaller details, and corresponding relief from the stress of 2 am phone calls, maintenance worker no-shows, and all the other day-to-day management details.
If you are fortunate enough to be in a position to buy or sell a second home in the area, I offer the kind of first-tier real estate service that will get you what you are looking for. Contact me anytime for reliableproperty manager recommendations — Evansville has some of the best! You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or by email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Wednesday, May 15 2013
If you are readying your home for sale this spring or summer, one of my favorite tactics to set your property apart from other area listings is to order a pre-inspection. If you’re not familiar with the term, a pre-inspection is a less detailed, less expensive visual inspection designed to report major conditions certain to be noted in the final. Why add this extra expense? Won’t buyers ultimately get their own inspection?
Yes, they will. But the purpose is not to replace a final inspection — it’s to attract more offers and hasten a final sale by minimizing re-negotiation.
Picture yourself as a prospective buyer. Listings which headline the availability of a pre-inspection report automatically seem to be offered by someone who is proud of their property’s condition and unafraid of what the final inspection will reveal. To skittish prospective buyers, it serves to lessen the "fear of the unknown" that can make buyers hesitate before writing an offer. If there were a formula, it would look something like:
Eliminating objections = Attracting more offers
Pre-inspected listings let you document major conditions that have either been addressed or left for the future owner to remediate as he or she sees fit. By noting how your asking price includes precise dollar allowances for named conditions, you display openness and conviction in the basis for your pricing. Local listings written after a pre-inspection are a lot more likely minimize last-minute re-negotiation: if you have ever been asked at the last minute to knock off $20k from an accepted offer, you know the value of that.
It is worth noting that any serious defects that a pre-inspection identify must be disclosed, for better or for worse. But fear of a major discovery shouldn’t dissuade you: any major defect will certainly be discovered by the buyer’s inspector. The old saying applies: knowledge IS power. You also have the option to repair the defects and let the buyer know that repairs have already been made.
If you plan to add your own property to the local listings any time this year, my job is to see that it brings you top dollar. Contact me today to talk over the way we will get that done! You can reach me on my cell phone at 812-499-9234 or email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Thursday, May 09 2013
With more than 43 million people relocating throughout the U.S. every year, you don’t have to wait until you are surrounded by stacks of cartons to realize how important it is to make your next move the right one. If you’re buying a house in Evansville in the foreseeable future, it’s a particularly valuable idea to take the time to chat with some of your potential new neighbors. And while you’re at it, why not bring up a few relevant questions:
Which schools are best?
School quality affects more than just property values. Especially if you have your own kids, buying a house in Evansville is least disruptive when their new school is the best one available. You’ll make the soundest choice by comparing more than one parent’s opinion.
Is there a neighborhood watch?
You will have already aimed for the safest area possible. Now, getting involved with an active neighborhood watch can further ensure your family’s safety. When buying a house, the presence of a neighborhood watch is a good indicator of some solid community spirit…and if there isn’t one, make sure the reason is that everyone already feels secure in the area.
What events are available in Evansville or the surrounding area?
Buying a house means buying a home base for all your family’s activities. By asking your neighbors which local events and activities they enjoy the most, you’ll get a glimpse of the scope and depth of the cultural life that’s going to surround you. As a side benefit, just inquiring shows you as someone who is sociable — and that you’ll be a good new neighbor to have!
The simple act of reaching out in this way lets you familiarize yourself with a new neighborhood faster, and ultimately leads to a better-informed long term real estate decision. Especially if the area is new to you and your family, buying a house in Evansville is actually a one-time opportunity to make a host of new friends. I have tons of information available for future residents. If you’re even considering buying a house in the area, don’t hesitate to call me! You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email: Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Monday, April 29 2013
When the Wall Street Journal or Forbes run mortgage rate stories as their lead items, those of us who keep an eye on the local real estate market pay close attention. I frequently share what they say here. But when even the non-financial outlets like USA TODAY and the cable TV news channels give top billing to real estate market news, it’s a real attention-grabber.
That’s what happenedlast week. USA TODAY’s online headline focused on the 15-year fixed mortgage rate, “at a record low 2.61%.” The cable news channels talked about record low rates, too (although if you hit the ‘pause’ button long enough to read the TV graphics, you saw that the national average for 30-year loans was still a shade away from the actual record low).
Never mind that; it’s still surprising that mortgage rates continue to linger at such tempting lows.
The reason is hardly a secret: the Federal Reserve is holding rates down to energize the real estate market — a key element of the overall economy. Yet, with existing home sales notching up in the first quarter at the briskest pace in four years, you would have thought that mortgage rates would have been loosened up at least somewhat. And with new home sales doing their best since 2008…
Of course, it doesn’t matter what anyone expects: the results of dipping mortgage rates is just plain good news for everyone in theEvansvillereal estate market: buyers and sellers alike. Those low mortgage rates act to offset the rising U.S. house price index. The result for buyers is a more valuable home without the expected increase in the monthly payment. What more of an inducement to enter the real estate market could there be?
In short, if you’re considering whether it’s time to buy (or to sell your current home and trade up without busting the household budget), last week’s national and local market signs are even clearer than they have been recently. There are definitely opportunities out there! Why not give me a call for an up-to-the-moment real estate market evaluation for your property? You can reach me on my cell phone at 812-499-9234 or by email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Tuesday, April 23 2013
Over the past few months, I have been pretty optimistic about real estate sales. I have shared statistics based on local information to support my opinions. This month I’m going to share some national and statewide information that demonstrates that the real estate market has indeed shifted into high gear.
First on a national basis, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller composite index, average sale prices have increased 8.1% over the past year. In addition, the housing price index posted its largest gain in the last seven years from January 2012 to January 2013.
I have spoken to several Realtor friends in other geographic areas and inventory shortages and multiple offers seem to be the norm, not the exception. In addition to the decline in listed inventory, shadow inventory, (delinquent mortgages, properties in foreclosure and bank owned property) is down 28% from its peak. This decline in pipeline properties will continue to suppress inventory levels.
On a statewide level, the news is also very positive. Over the past year:
· The number of closed home sales increased 18.4%
· The median sale price of those homes increased 4.5%
· The number of pending home sales increased 11.8%
· The number of closed home sales has increased year-over-year for 20 consecutive months.
· The median sale price has increased for 15 consecutive months
· The number of pending home sales has increased for 17 consecutive months.
Locally the big story is still listing inventory. As an example the number of active listings on the market has been as follows:
# of Active Listings:
January 2010 3,034
January 2011 2,839
January 2012 2,532
January 2013 2,247
The absolute number of active listings is lower than at any point in at least 7 years and the month’s supply is lower than all but one month in the past 6 years.
All of this is good news, so what does it mean for you? It’s “time to get back in the housing game!” If you are considering selling your house, list it now. We have the best tools to market, sell and get you the home you want at the right price. Please note that we provide a free market analysis on your home. To order yours, please call me at 812-499-9234 or email me at Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Monday, April 15 2013
According to the latest from the U.S. Census Bureau, renters comprise about 35% of all households. That’s a pretty healthy portion of the nation’s population — and a pretty encouraging market-share statistic for investors considering properties capable of generating income to build long-term wealth.
More than just an investment, the own-to-rent model is actually a simplified small business. It has a financing part, an accounting part, and (the time-consuming element): a management part. Effective management means dealing with labor (maintenance personnel), customers (the renters), and a Board of Directors (the ownership: in this case, you!). Not a surprise that many income property owners decide to make themselves the Board, and hire out the rest of property management.
Some business truisms point to sound reasons for that decision:
A local income property should let you be in control of your investment — not become a time slave to it. Some properties seem to want to be tough bosses themselves — with needs to be addressed on an unpredictable timetable. By employing a company specializing in local property management, you divert the 2 a.m. phone calls and headaches to them. Sleep tight!
As with any business enterprise, identifying and limiting risk is smart planning. A management company will help you work through Fair Housing obligations as well as the legal requirements you need to address. Even small mistakes in this department can cost, so prudently and professionally limiting liability is just good business.
Naturally, the major offsetting factor is cost. At somewhere in the neighborhood of 6%-12 of rental income, it is definitely an issue. Yet some veteran investors find that professional property management actually saves money in the long term. A reputable area property management company may be able to spot ways to reduce operating costs and maximize rental amounts, as well as shorten costly downtimes between tenants.
If you are looking to purchase an income property in our area, it’s important to assess all aspects of the investment — and property management is one that’s well worth investigating. I’m happy to offer vetted local references for my clients anytime. You can reach me in my cell phone at 812-499-9234 or by email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Monday, March 25 2013
The concept of “starter homes” cropped up after the end of the Second World War, when millions of young families took advantage of low-cost new developments to gain a foothold in homeownership: the emblematic first step in fulfilling the American Dream.
Today’s first-timehome buyers are a lot less predictable—just as the market itself is altogether different. As we recover from the previous years’ economic declines, which temporarily suppressed the number of Evansville home buyers, the combination of low interest rates and historically affordable home prices allows many to aim for bigger and more accommodating housing— skipping the starter home altogether.
For sure, the market hasn’t completely abandoned the starter home idea—especially if you include REO and foreclosure fixer-uppers as financially rewarding targets for handy young householders. The FHA 203(k) loan, which includes a built-in “limited repair” budget, can enable that route. But new home buyers also find other prospects can be newly within reach— among them, larger older homes and newer condominium and townhome choices.
If the combination of bargain prices and low mortgage rates isn’t enough to call prospects to action, the clear trend toward rising prices may do the trick. As inventories of the best bargains begin to shrink and mortgage rate rises look more and more inevitable, home buyers could well imagine a ‘tick-tock’ sound growing louder. For area sellers waiting to make a move upward on the housing ladder, the same conditions could well make this spring’s real estate market the one they’ve been waiting for.
It all means that prospective home buyers in Evansville stand to be rewarded by keeping an open mind about the variety of properties they may now find within reach. By seeking the help of an experienced agent, the widest choice of possibilities will be open for consideration. If you are looking for the area’s most up-to-date market advice, I’m here to make sure you have access to the tools you need to make the right decision—the first time around, and every time after! You can reach me on my cell phone at 812-499-9234 or email: Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Thursday, March 21 2013
The University of Evansville has held a groundbreaking for an $8.5 million on-campus housing project. The townhouse apartments will provide space for approximately 150 students. The effort is part of the school's facilities master plan.
The University of Evansville today held a groundbreaking ceremony for new townhouse apartments, which will provide attractive on-campus housing options for approximately 150 upperclassmen.
The kickoff for the $8.5 million project took place at a 10:30 a.m. news conference in the Class of 1959 Gallery and Lounge in the Ridgway University Center.
“We’re thrilled to break ground on this project, which represents the next phase of the University of Evansville’s facilities master plan,” said UE President Thomas A. Kazee. “We look forward to offering our students a sophisticated, convenient living experience while enhancing the neighborhood around our campus.”
Two townhouse buildings will comprise the “Frederick Commons” (between Frederick Street and Weinbach Avenue) and four buildings will make up the “Walnut Commons” (on the north side of Walnut Avenue and Rotherwood Avenue). Half of the townhouses will be complete and available for move-in in August 2013, with others following in October 2013 and January 2014.
The new townhouses are part of UE’s facilities master plan, announced in March 2012, which will guide the University’s building projects and renovations over the next decade. After an assessment of needs, which included interview and focus group sessions with UE students, faculty, staff, administrators, and alumni, student housing emerged as one of four priority areas.
Each two-story townhouse apartment will house four students and includes the following amenities:
• Four private bedrooms and two bathrooms
• New furniture and appliances (including washer and dryer, dishwasher, full-
size refrigerator, and sink disposal)
• Granite countertops
• 37” digital flat screen TV in living room
• Ethernet in living room
• Free WiFi and digital cable
• All utilities included
Students signed up to live in townhouses during the housing application process in February and March. All townhouses have been filled for the 2013-14 academic year.
UE has contracted with Buckingham Companies, an Indianapolis-based developer, to coordinate the construction and design phases of the project.
“We are thrilled to be a part of the University of Evansville’s team in its efforts to provide an enhanced environment for learning, living, and community,” said Brad Chambers, president and CEO of Buckingham Companies. “Our focus for this project is to assist the University of Evansville in fulfillment of its current and long-term vision for campus growth and innovation and to make the University of Evansville a first-choice educational option."
Participants in today’s groundbreaking ceremony included UE’s Larry Kremer, chairman of the Board of Trustees; Thomas A. Kazee, president; Jeff Wolf, vice president for fiscal affairs and administration; Dana Clayton, vice president for student affairs and dean of students; Tyler Best, president of the Resident Students Association and a religion and political science major from Elizabeth, Indiana; Melanie Bacaling, member of the Student Housing Committee and a music performance and psychology major from Gurnee, Illinois; Brad Chambers, president and CEO of Buckingham Companies; and Jeff Beidl, development manager with Buckingham Companies.
Read more here: http://www.insideindianabusiness.com/newsitem.asp?ID=58473
Wednesday, March 20 2013
Never mind what those TV get-rich-quick infomercials would have us believe: building long-term wealth requires focus and patience. Patience, because a steady growth is a more reliable strategy than flashier single investment ‘wins’ — and focus, because opportunities slip past when daily demands soak up all our attention.
For financially secure individuals, current real estate trends deserve some attention. Right now we have an environment that may be unique in our lifetimes — one that calls for seriously considering the long-term potential investment properties offer. If you agree that investment properties in our area are worth investigating further, you will discover multiple financing alternatives:
· Finding a mortgage for local investment properties is the choice most people think of first. However, since the lending market is still in recovery mode, it may be a while before most down payment requirements drop below 20%-30%
· By setting up a self-directed IRA, you may be able to make investments through your existing savings. Such investments come out of your IRA, and the profits generated remain there and grow tax-free until you retire. There are limitations to this method of financing: don’t rely on this route until you have sought the advice of a qualified financial advisor or your tax attorney.
· For anyone 62 or older, an idea that is not often considered is the reverse mortgage. The object is to allow you to access equity from the property you currently own without having to sell it. Unlike a regular mortgage, the equity released need not be repaid until the mortgaged property is sold or the borrower dies; but it may be repaid with the interest accrued without penalty at any time.
To be sure this or any of the other financing paths work to your advantage, you’ll need a sharp pencil — and guidance from a reliable licensed financial counselor. If you’ve already been thinking that the time is right to start or grow your investment portfolio through the purchase of real estate, contact me for hot leads on some of today’s best investment properties in Evansville and the surrounding area. You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Tuesday, March 19 2013
The first day of spring falls on the 20th—making Wednesday the day many homeowners start planning their ritual seasonal maintenance. Spring is also the traditional launch of the busy season in real estate, when safeguardingproperty values can become a less abstract matter.
Because water damage is Public Enemy #1, homeowner checklists should always highlight three points:
First: the Roof
As soon as March’s lion turns a bit more lamb-like, it’s time to get out the ladder to survey roof damage. Leaves, twigs or other storm debris that have clogged gutters during the weather months can allow moisture to penetrate the roofing and below, in the worst case triggering mold or rot. Look for holes or rust in the flashings or metal seals around roof joints, chimneys, skylights or any other structures that penetrate the roof.
Second: Down Under
Now it’s time to go down. While spring rains are still falling, put fresh batteries in your flashlight and head to the furthest reaches of basement or underneath the house to check for puddles. Even when it’s raining outside, your home’s foundation should remain dry. When it comes time to sell, homes’ property values are seriously affected by water damage, some of which might not appear upstairs until later. If you see signs of trouble, it’s time to call an expert.
Third: the Exit Routes
That is— the drains. Backed-up plumbing is a nuisance you can avoid if you clean all the drains two or three times a year. Don’t forget the garbage disposal, either. My trick is to pour in equal parts salt, baking soda and vinegar, followed 30 seconds later by two quarts of boiling water. Then give the mixture a chance to work overnight before running water again.
With the sales market poised for spring action, the protection careful homeowners have given to their ownproperty values will make a material difference. But you don’t have to be selling your home for this time of year to trigger the maintenance efforts your property may need. Got a property-related question? Give me a call! You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Friday, March 15 2013
“Curb appeal” is an instantly understandable byword: one every home seller hears. You can see for yourself how Evansville property listings that feature sparkling exterior shots with superior ‘curb appeal’ instantly draw your attention — and often, higher offers.
Hearing the phrase makes you picture potential buyers standing at the curb, viewing your property. Yet the most important part of ‘curb appeal’ is the second word, not the first. “Appeal” should be an active concept: one that’s about reaching out, roping potential buyers in. Successful sellers create appeal by making every part of a home’s presentation — from its debut in the local property listings to final inspection and closing — as actively appealing as possible. It’s a frame of mind that brings results.
“Nice idea,” you might be thinking; “but how do I put it into action?”
Try viewing today’s property listings from a buyer’s perspective: notice how a mish-mosh of dark or bright colors can make rooms look detached from one another. A home’s ‘flow’ is important, but you can’t see that from the property listings. But you can work to neutralize your home’s color scheme. When your selection of wall colors makes a coherent whole, your home looks like an appealing place instead of a collection of disjointed rooms.
It won’t matter how well your home fares in the local property listings if visitors are greeted with strong pet or any other blend of objectionable odors. Strong cooking aromas are right up there with cigarette smells to top off the quickest turnoffs to prospective buyers. In doubt? Ask a friend for their honest opinion.
A clean, clutter-free home adds appeal to any property, and is especially beneficial for those with smaller rooms. A Saturday spent cleaning out the house and boxing up as many superfluous items as possible is guaranteed to pay off.
You can’t appeal to everyone — and you don’t need to. But you can set the stage for success. I offer a complimentary in-house consultation to all potential sellers, so if you’re looking to maximize your home’s selling price, call me today to chat and arrange that meeting! You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Thursday, March 14 2013
When real estate occupies most of your day (as it certainly does mine), you find yourself receiving no end of information. Some summarize points of view that are available elsewhere; some provide original information that isn’t particularly relevant to our local market.
One piece that gets more than the usual quick-scan-then-into-the-recycle-bin treatment is the HPI Data Report. It comes in once each month from the demographers at CoreLogic ®. This group knows what they are talking about: among other things, they collect the most comprehensive property database in the U.S.
Last week was relatively quiet on the news front, so when they checked in, I was able to give their report a thorough going-over. What I found:
Holy smoke! Prices of homes for sale nationwide made the biggest year-over-year increase in seven years!
Yikes! Year-over-year, even including distressed sales, prices of homes for sale jumped by an average 9.7% That’s just a whisker short of double-digits!
Good golly! Those homes for sale price jumps were taking place everywhere — in 49 out of the 51 states (the only exceptions were Illinois and Delaware).
One more exclamation! (I’ve run out): As if the trend direction isn’t already crystal clear, this represents the 11th consecutive monthly increase.
As we prepare for our area’s spring selling season, it’s noteworthy how much this year promises to be a notch up from even last year’s —already a noticeable improvement.
If you have a property that is a good candidate to join this spring’s complement of homes for sale, now is a good time to give me a call. Rising prices mean that the buyers are out there! You can reach me on my cell phone at 812-499-9234 or email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Wednesday, March 13 2013
Your mortgage: you only think about it once a month (if you’re on autopay, maybe not even that often). Why worry about it? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?
Like all aspects of your big-picture financial planning, keeping an eye on that mortgage can be an extra wealth-building move. I can point to three reasons why re-evaluating your mortgage could pay dividends:
Down, Down, Down…
Ok, with interest rates continually making headlines, this one might be a no-brainer. But some folks don’t realize just how attainable significant savings may be: a drop of just a single percentage point in themortgage rate can make a gigantic difference. A general rule of thumb is that if you can lower your interest rate by a percent or more, it usually makes sense to refinance. It’s certainly worth looking into.
Pay More Sooner (Build Wealth Quicker)
Nobody wants to part with more hard-earned cash than necessary, but extra money out now can wind up saving a lot of greenbacks later. Making just one extra payment a year will have you owning your home free and clear sooner – whereupon those payment dollars become yours!
Sound too painful? It needn’t. See if you can set up bi-weekly payments of half your monthly mortgage amount. You'll be making 26 payments annually: the equivalent of 13 monthly payments! Confirm with your lender that the extra payments go toward principal.
Eye That Equity
If you’ve got a PMI payment, you know that extra insurance doesn’t come cheap. So why make the extra payment a single month longer than necessary? By law, your lender is required to stop charging you PMI after you accrue 22% equity in your home. But in many cases, once you hit 20% equity, simply writing a letter to your lender will prompt them to allow you to stop paying PMI then and there.
For most of us, our home in Evansville is one of the largest investments we’ll ever make. Got a real estate question? I’m here all the time to supply you with friendly help and advice! You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or by email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Tuesday, March 12 2013
Last week, Evansville home sellers saw more than the usual number of reasons to look forward to this spring’s local home sales selling season. It looked like the opposite of the lengthy real estate “Perfect Storm” that caused freefall across the national landscape.
Signs pointed to the possibility that we may be headed into the opposite market conditions. Webster’s Dictionary says the opposite of ‘storm’ is ‘calm’ – but I don’t think you would callEvansville’s home sales outlook a “Perfect Calm.” Far from it!
Some of the signs:
- Falling Inventory. Per the NAR’s Existing Home Sales Report, there’s a nation-wide shortage of total inventory. By the end of January, it had fallen another 4.9%: lowest in seven years. Raw unsold inventory hasn’t been this low in 14 years! Our current month’s inventory is 7.13 months, meaning it would take 7.13 months to sell all listings.
- Rising Demand. Per last week’s National Association of Home Builders’ News and Alerts bulletin, “housing demand continues to return.” NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun, pointing to buyer traffic that is up 40% over a year ago, states flatly, “We’ve transitioned into a seller’s market in much of the country.”
- Buyer Attitude. Also last week, the Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index showed a rebound from January. The ‘Present Situation’ index rose sharply (from 56.2 to 63.3). This remains the only less-than-stellar point of contention, I think one area could be a tipoff to gathering strength: the proportion of those expecting their income to rise is now growing, those expecting the opposite, falling.
If this spring turns out to be the opposite of a Perfect Storm for local home sales, will conditions improve further? Should sellers wait? The falling inventory measure might suggest otherwise. If the NAR’s appraisal is correct, now that these trends are consolidating, “…it would seem likely more inventory would come to market.”
If you are a local
home seller who’s been waiting and watching for the right moment to enter the Evansville
home sales listings, I hope you will consider giving me a call soon. You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email at Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Monday, March 11 2013
This month I want to recap the local real estate market in 2012 compared to 2011. This is especially easy since our market improved in virtually every category last year.
The easy place to start is closed transactions. Our BLC (broker listing cooperative, which used to be called MLS) closed 4,387 home sales last year up 8.83% from 2011. The median sales price increased 4.4% increasing our average sales price to $125,971. Days on market decreased 11.3% compared to 2011 but is still higher than I like, at 105 days.
The big news, which I have mentioned frequently over the past year, is that the months supply of homes listed for sale continues to decline. The average for 2012 was 7.32 months down from 8.70 months in 2011 and 9.43 in 2010. This is the lowest average level in 6 years. As of today there are fewer than 2,400 active listings on the market. My records do not go far enough back to find fewer active listings than this. If you are considering selling your home, now is the time to list. I am confident that new home construction will increase significantly this year. Homes listed now will reach the market before these new homes are completed and on the market.
If you are considering listing your home, no one has better tools to market your home. Traffic on FCTuckerEmge.com and Tuckermobile.com are higher now than they have ever been. In fact, visits to FCTuckerEmge.com for the first two months of the year are up almost 11% versus the same time last year. With over 95,000 visits, FCTuckerEmge.com is the source for information on real estate in our area. And don’t forget that TuckerMobile.com is always with you on your smart phone!
Please let me know if you know of anyone considering selling their home. I would be happy to prepare a market analysis and help them sell their home.
Thursday, March 07 2013
Sometimes home values can undergo abrupt changes. One way that can happen is through the ‘Surprise Remodel’ phenomenon. That’s when you wake up one morning to find that your local house grew larger…overnight!
If you are one of the many residents whose children have left for school, the Surprise Remodel is what happened the moment you realized that that you were, in fact, suddenly in possession of an extra room.
Sometimes it takes a few months, but as soon as you conclude that the sentimental value of leaving the high school memorabilia in place is outweighed by the value of transforming the room into more useful space, you have a number of ways to proceed:
Transforming the former kid room into an exercise area is one foolproof way home values can be increased. Remove carpeting and add flooring as needed; place a floor-to-wall mirror to one side; then add any exercise equipment you choose (garage sales can be excellent sources).
Have you always wanted a dedicated home office? Now is the ideal time. Paint the room a rich neutral color, add the desk (freeing up space it used to occupy elsewhere), and then add bookshelves and a guest chair or sofa. Voila!
In the likely event the kids will be back now and then, a subtler changeover to a universal guest room is a good answer. Memorabilia removal will go a long way toward accomplishing that goal, and home values always improve when fancier bedding and pillows are added to any room.
Evansville home values may not seem important until you decide to put your own on the market, but I have often heard clients say they wish they had spruced up the place while they were still living there. Any Surprise Remodel moment is a perfect opportunity to do just that.
Later, when the time comes to list, don’t forget to call me! You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Friday, March 01 2013
Suppose you are driving past one of those ‘For Sale by Owner’ yard signs…and the house looks good!
Do you screech to a halt, jump out and rush up to the front door to – quick! – sign a deal? More likely, you jot down the phone number (hopefully one is visible, though with For Sale By Owner signs, it’s not always the case) so you can call up your agent to get the details.
Veteran buyers considering a local For Sale by Owner (FSBO) property know why it’s highly beneficial to use their agent from the start. Even if you have found the home yourself, you should want that first call to go to an agent.
· Agents offer advanced relationships that stand to improve your bottom line. For example, timing often can make or break a deal, and agents can utilize their network of the Evansville lenders who have proven most reliable. Agents are also likely to have vetted referrals for specialized services to address fireplace and chimney issues, drainage, asbestos removal, etc.
· Agents are experienced negotiators whose familiarity with local real estate requirements strengthens your position vis-à-vis credits and repairs. Agents understand potential issues likely to come up at inspection -- and can help you evaluate each item in your inspection report.
· Some buyers believe they can save money by not using an agent in localFor Sale by Owner transactions. Sometimes that happens, but more often than not, it’s the FSBO owner whose heart is set on pocketing that extra 2.5 – 3%. Agents can save you money in other ways -- by negotiating a lower selling price, proposing intangible benefits (like cash for closing), etc.
Circumstances differ, but the bottom line value an experienced agent adds is a clear understanding of the complications and issues that often arise during dealings – whether ‘For Sale by Owner’ or not. To get to closing, be sure your agent is involved. And if you’re looking for an agent, I would love to help – call me today to discuss how I will help! You can reach me on my cell phone at 812-499-9234 or email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Tuesday, February 26 2013
You are doing some serious house-hunting.
You’ve been Googling ‘newest local listings’, but when you click on the most popular sites, somehow the ‘newest local listings’ are the same ones you’ve seen before. Worse, some of them turn out to have been sold! Or the price was wrong! Or the agent isn’t even the agent anymore!
What is going on? Doesn’t Google (or Bing, or Yahoo!) promise to show you sites with the newest listings in Evansville? How can the most popular sites (at the top of their results page: Zillow, Realty.com, Trulia) be showing ‘newest listings’ that were sold last month? Or contact numbers that take you to an answering machine that never calls back?
The answer is not mysterious, but it can take a while to catch on. The top of the search engine results pages show the biggest national real estate sites because they target the national audience (and pay huge amounts to the search engines!). Hundreds of thousands of house-hunters click on them all the time because everyone in the country sees them first.
The disappointment comes because of the near impossibility of their keeping current in every locality in the U.S. They can’t keep up with the avalanche of changes: changes in the asking price; changes in the listing agent; changes in availability. That becomes obvious when your contacts return a ‘home under contract,’ or ‘property sold,’ or – infuriatingly -- silence.
The good news is that the solution is just a couple of lines lower on those Bing or Google search results. Serious buyers do figure it out eventually, and look down the search engine listings to find a web address that looks more like it connects with a local real estate brokerage. That leads to listings overseen by local businesspeople who deal every day with the homes their pages show. When they change, local agents know it first.
Even better for you, you’re already here – a click away from what you are looking for – and just one click more from my invitation to visit the newest listings in Evansville! You can search all area listings here: http://thetrentiniteam.com/property_search
Monday, February 25 2013
Your yard is your local home's calling card. A dated or overgrown yard can be a huge turnoff to potential buyers – just as an appealing one can trump other objections.
Landscape designer Cynthia Bee knows this well. "Landscaping often makes the difference,” she says, “between a prospective buyer getting out of the car for a closer look or simply driving on by."
The same goes for Internet prospects as they scan through listings in search of a local home to buy. An unappealing yard can detract from your all-important curbside glamour photo -- and cause them ‘to drive on by’ your listing. The backyard is not as important in attracting buyers, but often proves vital in holding their enthusiasm.
To help sell a home in Evansville this spring, right now is prime time to consider some yard-focused dos and don’ts:
DON’T allow ornamentation designed to create character -- that ‘character’ may be hard for prospective buyers to see past. In this category are mirrored globes, plastic fauna, and (definitely) gnomes of all varieties.
DO consider maintenance issues when you plan front and backyard updates. To sell a local home that appeals to the widest swath of prospects, avoid intricate garden plantings that shout, Weed me! Water me! Trim me!
DON’T let original planting design make an otherwise appealing property feel dated. It used to be considered elegant to have flat-toped and rounded bushes alongside pathways – but that was the 50’s. Today, the vast majority of buyers appreciate the natural look (and native plants).
DO consider who your likeliest prospects will be – and how your yard will fit their family. If you are going to sell a home with four bedrooms, a back yard with plenty of playing space for the kids is a good idea.
Sometimes it can be the smallest details that determine how quickly you sell ahome. It’s my job to help in figuring out which and what those are likely to be. If you are getting ready to sell a home in Evansville, I hope you will call me to put my knowledge to work! You can reach me on my cell phone at 812-499-9234 or email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Friday, February 22 2013
The importance of kitchens to prospective homebuyers is something that never seems to change. If you are preparing to bring your home onto the market anytime soon, you’ve probably been thinking about how to make your listing as attractive as possible. Odds are good that updating your kitchen (with an attractive photo or two) is somewhere near the top of your to-do list. An inviting kitchen rivals curb appeal in creating a superior MLS listing, so if you’re noodling a remodel of your home’s core, you will be interested in these trends for 2013.
About that linoleum from the 1970’s: it’s time to say good-bye. Kitchen experts agree that hardwood floors remain a hot kitchen remodeling trend…and there are a few fresh twists we can expect to start appearing more frequently in local listings. Interior designer Cami Weinstein says, "I am starting to see lighter shades of wood floors again - something that hasn't been seen in a while.” The washed-wood floors are back from the 80’s and 90’s -- but with wider planks and hand scraping that creates a less formal, beachy feel.
Award-winning designer Kathleen Donohue points to a newer trend: re-facing cabinets rather than replacing them. People are watching their spending, and simply re-facing (the process of simply changing cabinet doors while maintaining the original cabinet structure) is a much less expensive option than total rebuilding. Freeing up remodeling dollars is a definite plus.
Adding to the trend toward thrift-consciousness, expect kitchen features that do double-duty – conserving precious kitchen space in the process. Examples are microwaves that double as second ovens and/or warming drawers, and refrigerators with convertible drawers that can act as fridge, freezer, or wine fridge. Either should be a great selling feature in local MLS listings. Especially if your home has a smaller kitchen, multi-taskers like those are valuable ideas.
Spring, 2013 is shaping up as a great time to sell. I offer complimentary and confidential evaluations all the time, so if you’re considering listing your home this year, give me a call… we can start in the kitchen! You can reach me on my cell phone at 812-499-9234.
Wednesday, February 13 2013
Yes, foreclosure rates across the country continue to drop, yet bargain-hunters can take heart: there still remain a goodly number of bank owned properties in Evansville. According to the National Association of REALTORS®, ddistressed homes accounted for 24% of national December sales; a large proportion, but significantly down from the 32% of just a year ago. Also known as “real estate owned” (or REO) properties, it is well-known that these homes can often be bought at a significant discount -- frequently by as much as 16% – 17% below market.
Before anyone updates his or her Facebook status to tell the world about the millions they are about to make by ‘flipping’ foreclosures, it’s good to bear in mind some key differences between buying regular homes and bank owned properties. To make an REO purchase successful, potential buyers need to plan for those special factors.
· Count on bank owned properties being more difficult to finance due to guidelines set by lenders: requirements that can prevent REO purchases from going through. Due to a property’s condition (which can sometimes be poor, even non-habitable), FHA and VA-approved buyers must gain pre-approval before submitting an offer.
· Bank owned properties are generally sold “as-is", often with fewer disclosure requirements. I always urge my buyers to be diligent about pre-purchase inspections – and with REOs, it’s doubly important. Purchasers of bank owned properties can have little or no recourse if defects or maintenance issues are discovered later.
· Lenders can run into additional costs when selling REOs -- costs involving liens, evictions, property taxes, insurance, etc. This motivates them to try to squeeze as high a price as possible from the transaction. In addition, banks may charge additional fees for extended closing and other services.
All of which goes to the point of how buying bank-owed properties in Evansville differs from run-of-the-mill home purchases…and why having a real estate agent well-versed in bank owned properties is so important. If you would like a look at the options currently available among local REO offerings, give me a call today! You can reach me on my cell phone at
Tuesday, February 12 2013
“Mansion” is the Wall Street Journal’s entry into the high-end real estate magazine world. Well, not quite a magazine -- it’s an extra section they run on Fridays. It’s a nice diversion for those who want to read about really rich people selling their properties. More than that, it could actually be an important source of information if you decide to buy a vineyard in the middle of Los Angeles (Bel-Air, actually -- that one was featured last week).
It was another article that caught my eye on Friday, though; one that dealt with a topic we agents have long debated. The article was headlined “THE BEST DAY TO LIST A HOME IS…”. It summarized an elaborately executed study by a national brokerage revealing hard statistics on which day of the week is best for launching your listing. The author, Sanette Tanaka, brought up several ways to look at the question. While her focus was, of course, national, the unspoken allure was to zero in on which day will maximize our Evansville listing results.
I bet you want to know the answer, so here it is: …(drum roll, please) --
Friday. Houses listed on Friday spent the fewest days on market (2 fewer than Thursday, 7 fewer than the most ho-hum day for listing, Sunday).
But, reading further, there is a problem. Listing on Tuesday brought in the most requests for house tours -- by 8 thousandths of one percent over Thursday. For drawing house tours, Friday faded into the pack…
All of which points to something experienced agents already know: statistics are helpful, but not to the point where they detract from getting the job done. The best day to publish a listing is as soon as it’s ready – the instant it’s ready! Buyers are constantly combing the listings, and the ideal prospect may be long gone if we hold off for any reason.
If you are ready to sell your home, let's get your listing ready to go now! Our inventory is very low right now which is an added bonus for sellers.
Tuesday, February 05 2013
Sometimes, even after your mortgage application has been approved, you have to scratch your head at apparent non-sequiturs that attach to the process (for instance, when a loan is made contingent upon your repaying an ultra-low-interest credit account).
Even more so if your perfectly dandy financial situation results in a turndown. How could this happen? The answer usually makes perfect sense…but only if you understand that bankers and mortgage brokers are bound by policies and procedures that apply to everyone currently buying homes in EvansvilleKnowing the rules ahead of time can influence how readily mortgage applications are approved. Some guidelines:
Forget adding "mattress money."
Your bank account gets a thorough going-over, of course. If you have recently deposited a bundle of cash with no apparent source, it looks as if you are artificially hiking up the balance (perhaps with borrowed funds). Too bad about that garage sale: if the cash has not been on deposit for at least 90 days, it can be considered ‘unseasoned’ – likely to raise questions.
Disclose all pertinent info.
Many credit applicants in the process of buying homes assume the credit investigation will be limited to the information disclosed on the application. Not! Underwriters are trained investigators always on the lookout for anything that looks like fraud. Buying homes involves sums that deserve serious investigation; even relatively minor oversights are likely to be discovered. Answer: supply all the information asked for.
Avoid employment hopscotch.
Those who suddenly change jobs while in the process of buying homes in Evansville raise the odds of their application being affected. This is especially true of wholesale shifts in careers or industries. Even for otherwise praiseworthy professional moves, an employment outlook that appears unpredictable isn’t helpful.
Bottom line: those who will be buying homes need to prepare knowledgably for the policies that govern mortgage approval. If you are among those who will be buying homes in the Evansville area this winter, call me today -- I can put you in touch with a mortgage broker to start the pre-approval process! You can reach me on my cell phone at 812-499-9234.
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 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.
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 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,
• The median sale price of those homes increased 8.6 percent to $119,500,
• The average sale price increased 5.1 percent to $139,688,
• The percent of original list price received increased 0.9 percent to 90.2 percent,
• The number of pending home sales increased 17.2 percent to 4,640, and
• The number of new listings increased 4.9 percent to 7,055.
“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,
• The median sale price of homes has increased for 12 consecutive months,
• The average sale price has increased for 11 consecutive months,
• Sellers received a greater share of their original list price for the ninth consecutive month, and
• The number of pending home sales has increased for 14 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.
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 http://www.insideindianabusiness.com/newsitem.asp?ID=57258
Friday, December 21 2012
One of the effects of the steady national rise in home prices is a shift in attitude by previously cautious consumers. It’s only natural to find more people focused on buying homes in Evansville while it is still relatively inexpensive to do so.
Homeowners who are listing their own local properties this winter are well advised to be mindful of those and other considerations bound to be motivating prospective customers. Buying homes – especially homes in a faraway locale – gives rise to many concerns. Positioning the way a home is marketed to anticipate those concerns can mean a sale to an out-of-town buyer on a local home-hunting trip.
Some of the questions out-of-towners are likely to be thinking about:
What are the neighborhoods like?
Why not do a little research into how potentially competitive neighborhoods compare with your own. If you don’t have small children, acquaint yourself with where kids go to participate in today’s popular activities, local playgrounds, etc. Have ready links to online resources that will help prospects connect with Evansville residents and groups. Assembling a menu book stuffed with tempting local eateries never hurts, either!
What will my finances look like?
Evaluating relative costs of living is already at the top of the list for anyone buying homes during the last few years. If the COL inEvansville compares favorably with a prospect’s current address, it should be smooth sailing. If not, there may be overriding personal or professional reasons why your prospect is interested in the first place.
What special logistical hurdles are there?
What if, for instance, your perfect home cannot be ready by the mandatory moving date? Knowing local temporary housing and storage options can make an otherwise ‘impossible’ move eminently doable.
Buying homes in Evansville presents a special set of challenges for out-of-towners. Being sensitive to how important they can seem to a buyer can only ease their path to homeownership. If you are planning to make this wintera successful selling season, contact me today. I’ll be eager to share many other tips to help make your sale happen! You can reach me on my cell phone at 812-499-9234.
Thursday, December 20 2012
When you plan on getting a mortgage in Evansville anytime this winter, you’re fairly certain to run into something known as the GFE. It’s the acronym for ‘Good Faith Estimate’-- and despite the reassuring name, the federal government decided they had better make it mandatory (to me, the opposite of having much faith at all).
The GFE has a new format dictated by the federal Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act which requires lenders to provide an estimate of the charges and fees due at closing. Lenders have three days to make it available.
The GFE looks like a bill. It features a list of fees and charges denoted by three-digit codes. It is grouped into sections to make it more readable, and although at first glance the resulting grid looks overly complicated, after you scan through it once or twice, it actually makes sense. The reason it is a good idea is because of the number of charges that may or may not be on there. It prevents sudden last-minute cash flow surprises at closing.
Once you receive your GFE, you'll also receive a Truth in Lending (TIL) disclosure form. This gives you the annual percentage rate for your mortgage, taking into account mortgage insurance, discount points and other assorted fees.
The GFE is exactly what it says - an estimate. This isn’t so that the lender can suddenly raise the prices: there is a built-in variability to the various processes that truly cannot be guaranteed until the last ‘i’ is dotted and the last ‘t’ crossed. The figures quoted in a GFE can rise as much as 10 to 15 percent or more by closing…they can also fall. The GFE comes in quite handy when you’re getting a localmortgage because you can compare it with the final, see where any differences appear, and be assured that it all makes sense. If getting a mortgage meant waiting until closing to see what surprises appear, the moment would be much less appealing.
Getting a mortgage is an integral part of becoming a local homeowner. Understanding the costs at every step of the way is a big part of the decision-making process – it is just one of the services every one of my clients can be sure I will provide. Please call me if you have any questions. You can reach me on my cell phone at 812-499-9234.
Wednesday, December 19 2012
If you are a homeowner struggling with the decision about whether listing your home for sale during the winter months is good or bad, there are arguments for either choice.
Let’s start with the “pros”:
One of the best things I like about listing your home for sale in the winter months is that the holidays work to your advantage. Nothing says “home” better than a house that is well (and tastefully!) decorated for the holidays. By making sure the decorations accent the house rather than overpower it, you still funnel attention where it belongs: on your house!
Another plus that comes with listing your home in Evansville during the winter months is the logistical reasons that keep the proportion of non-serious “shoppers” from occupying your time. I find that the majority of those who are looking for homes during the winter months are disproportionally intent on actually buying a home.
On the other hand, some of those same logistical forces serve as counterarguments against listing your home during the winter. They are the same reasons many real estate agents tell their clients to wait until the spring to list. It’s true that there are fewer daylight hours for home viewings…not to mention spates of bad weather, and the greater chance that holiday travel will interfere with both buyer and seller schedules.
All in all, I think the arguments cancel each other out: I don’t advise you to allow the time of year to prevent you from listing your home in any season. If you are otherwise ready to sell your home this month or next, I say -- make the most of the season! Who knows – it has happened more than once that the right buyer is out there right now. I have marketing plans for homes that work every month of the year -- if you are ready to sell, I’d be delighted to help you launch your sale this holiday season!
Tuesday, December 18 2012
“High rental occupancy and rising rents” was how economic trend-watcher Kiplinger.com summed up 2012 – and as the nation counts down to the New Year, owners and future owners oflocalrental property are clearly anticipating more of the same. Experienced managers have some timely advice for first-time Evansville rental property owners as they prepare to lease in the coming year.
Rule #1 for attracting quality tenants, they say, is to be hard-nosed about offering a quality product. Rentals are hot, but that doesn’t mean a property will rent itself – especially when the goal is to attract the kind of conscientious tenant who means a trouble-free income stream.
Touch-up and trim renewal can be a quick, cost-conscious way to add appeal to any rental property. Restoration Hardware’s neutral palate (and Benjamin Moore’s counter-offering) are excellent sources for trim colors which breathe new life and visual interest into just about any décor.
Replacing older carpet is a more costly (though eventually inevitable) way to make a big difference in key first impressions; while simply polishing middle-aged hardware can revitalize an otherwise aged look.
Property managers also suggest replacing older appliances in the kitchen before they become failure-prone. Even where there is no budget for new cabinets and countertops, a little stainless steel can command a higher rent – and literally pay for itself.
Rental properties have been a hot topic for more than a year – but opportunities remain. Whether you are preparing to rent property you already own, or are simply weighing the prospects, the New Year promises to be a propitious time to look into our current Evansville rental property offerings. Sound interesting? Call me! You can call me on my cell phone
Monday, December 10 2012
It may be a little early to start putting the champagne on ice, but looking over last week’s releases of housing reports gives us a fairly good idea of how our local housing picture for the year 2012 is likely to end up.
“The housing recovery that started earlier in 2012 continues to gain momentum,” according to CoreLogic’s Chief Economist. The monthly data report covered final national numbers for October (a year-over-year rise of 6.3%) as well as a probable 7.1% increase for the month just ended.
CoreLogic was also “seeing an ongoing strengthening of the residential housing market” as well as “improving buyer demand.”
If CoreLogic’s take was not quite definitive enough to trigger an early break for the bubbly, there was additional news from the financial soothsayers. Seekingalpha.com stayed with its months-long view that “there are immediate long-term opportunities for homebuyers,” while Barron’s quoted RDQ Economics’ John Ryding’s pronouncement on the housing market: “the recovery is running ahead of our expectations…”
Meantime, the Wall Street Journal was blogging about the ‘Five Reasons Home Prices Have Been Rising’ – including favorable affordability, lowered levels of distressed sales, and rising rent levels. They also pointed to plunging inventories that “see more buyers chasing after fewer properties.”
Of course, the complete localhousing picture for the full year won’t be known until December is in the books. But considering how the year has treated us so far, we are very well ahead in sales for Southwest Indiana. This certainly is a good time to list homes as we have low inventories. Please call me if you are interested in listing your home. You can reach me on my cell phone at 812-499-9234.
Monday, December 03 2012
With the rancorous elections finally behind us and localproperty prices on the rise, public sentiment is markedly improving. Last week, Neilson released its Consumer Confidence Survey, now showing the strongest level in more than four and a half years.
My guess is that 2012 will likely mark the year that holiday tipping makes a comeback, too. “People are more generous this year because when the economy gets better, people do better.” is what international etiquette expert Jacqueline Whitmore had to say. The founder of the Protocol School of Palm Beach added, “They tend to be happier around the holiday time.”
That’s true outside of Palm Beach, too: many Evansville homeowners who felt forced to become latter day Scrooges during the previous few years may be feeling slightly less anxious about the future of the family budget. Those who feel they want to thank the people who help run their households and maintain their property will, as usual, run into the perpetual query: what’s enough? What’s too much?
Like gift giving in general, tipping is totally optional – if there were hard-and-fast rules, part of the pleasure of giving (and receiving) would be lost. Nevertheless, I thought I would share these guidelines I came across in a story on Yahoo! Finance:
Suggested Tip: $15 to $30
Suggested Tip: Cost of One Session
Suggested Tip: One Week's Pay
Suggested Tip: Creative Gift
Suggested Tip: Cost of One Visit
Suggested Tip: Cost of One Session
Suggested Tip: Gift
Suggested Tip: Gift/Gift Cards
Favorite Real Estate Blogger
Suggested Tip: Your Next Listing
(Okay, I might have added that last one). But with property values on the rise, if you are considering buying a home this winter, you needn’t let the holidays delay your plans. Sometimes the best time to buy a property in Evansville is when everyone else is out shopping!
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.
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.”
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.
Friday, October 26 2012
Lately you may have noticed that it has become more of a pleasure to open the newspaper when you are checking up on real estate news. In addition to the Internet news feeds, I do still subscribe to some of the old-fashioned kind, too: the ones printed on actual paper (so you can tear interesting articles out and carry them around rather than just Ctrl+C and Ctrl+Ving them).
Given the definite possibility that paper papers won’t be around much longer, I enjoy them while I still can. The Wall Street Journal is one. I opened it up on Saturdayto find a headline at the top of the second page that got my attention: “Home Sales Rise For 15th Month,” it fairly screamed.
If you are a frequent visitor here, you know that I follow and comment on home sales and associated topics regularly -- but even I hadn’t realized that the trend has been going for such a long time. I took a look at the charts, and it is so!
Others noted the mark, too. The NY Times seems in a permanently grouchy mood of late, so it had a less ebullient take on the statistics (which originated with the NAR). But even they were forced to note that higher prices have become the rule rather than the exception. “The nation’s stock of existing homes for sale fell 3.3% last month…tight inventories have helped support home prices…,” the Grey Lady mumbled.
The Journal was more cheerful in approaching the latest numbers. “The markets need inventory right now,” they quoted the president of a leading appraisal firm. “The pent-up demand is enormous.”
You certainly can appreciate observations like that – especially if you are a homeowner who is keeping an eye on home sales since you might list soon. If you fall into that category, I hope you will check in with me to get a more precise readout of the Evansville home sales market, and what you might expect from this fall’sselling season. The Journal says, “…there are signs that demand could be picking up.” Since they also noted that national median home prices rose 11.3% from a year ago, you would have to say that’s a pretty safe assumption. You can reach me on my cell phone at 912-499-9234.
Monday, October 15 2012
We are three quarters of the way through the year, sold units through September are 5% ahead of last year and, the median sale price is up 3.3%. Sales this year have exceeded those in the corresponding month last year in 7 of 9 months. Unfortunately, September was one of those two months. I am confident that there is a valid reason for this decline. I have felt for a long time that contested Presidential elections have a short-term, negative impact on real estate sales. Earlier this month I saw a national survey that confirmed my thoughts. According to this survey, 12% of potential homebuyers would definitely delay purchasing a home until after the election and 13% of potential homebuyers might delay their purchase until after the election. Fortunately closed sales locally were only 7.6% below last September. The good news is that the election is less than a month away and I expect a return to normal activity after that.
Another national trend I have been following is the steady decline in foreclosures and shadow inventory. Shadow inventory includes homes currently in the foreclosure process, homes owned by lenders not yet listed for sale and homes 90 or more days delinquent on their mortgage payments. Although these numbers are impossible to track with exact precision, virtually every group that tracks this information shows a steady decline in these numbers. As these homes continue to be removed from the market it cannot help but have a positive impact on both prices and new construction.
As is almost always the case, our Marketing Department is continually making improvements and enhancements to our website, FCTuckerEmge.com. We will soon have a substantially improved interactive map search and will also start providing information on sold properties. Our local Multiple Listing Service requires users to log in before we can provide this sold information. Simply sign up for a MyFCTuckerEmge.com account and you can search sold properties. Or you can always call or email me and I will be happy to get the information for you. Enjoy the beautiful fall weather and next month I will give you some economic information from our annual National Association of Realtors convention, which is always a great source of information. You can reach me on my cell phone at 812-499-9234.
Tuesday, October 02 2012
Whether you are in the process of buying anincome property thisfall or are already an owner, your decision about whether to work with a localproperty manager is pivotal. When you lack the time or capacity to effectively manage your investment, hiring a professional property manager is certainly the right business move. But suppose you have already decided that you will use a pro – does that solve all management issues for your investment? If you have chosen well, the answer may be almost ‘yes’ – but not quite. As you would with any service provider, keeping tabs on their performance is simply prudent.
The happy truth is that managing yourEvansville property manager will not command a large amount of your attention: a little will go a long way. And some areas to monitor are more obvious than others.
Rent collection is one process that almost monitors itself. When the checks are slow in coming, you’ll know it soon enough. If a regular pattern seems to be developing, discuss your manager’s strategy to improve the tenant’s compliance. Good property management pros have proven strategies for timely rent collection.
Maintenance is one main reason a property manager is invaluable. When a repair issue arises, take a look at the invoices: not only at the cost, but also the time it took to solve the problem. Your manager should have contracts in place with competent maintenance and repair companies, so complaints from the tenant should not be a regular occurrence. You can also ask for vendor references from anyone who performs services for the property. After all, they are really working for you.
If part of your property manager’s job is to act as a leasing agent (or to oversee one), be certain that he or she emphasizes the importance of ensuring that tenants thoroughly read and understand the lease terms. Ask how your manager would handle any tenant non-compliance if that occurs. Situations that could cause sleepless nights for you should be ho-hum affairs for your pro!
Buying an investment property in Evansville can be exciting and profitable, but it’s not usually fully exploited on autopilot. I strive to help my clients find and identify the right investment properties for long-term profitability. If you are considering buying property, contact me anytime to go over your options. You will find that good ones are out there! You can reach me at on my cell phone at 812-499-9234
Monday, October 01 2012
Getting a mortgage refinance has seldom looked more attractive than it does this October. Ads for seemingly ridiculously low teaser rates are popping up all over the place -- and even if the closing costs are hefty (many aren’t), the underlying rates make them all but irresistible.
But do you qualify? Some folks don’t realize that a refi can be just as tough as getting a mortgage in the first place. Or tougher. One client has a stunning property, top credit, and a guaranteed income stream that was more than adequate to fund the refi. She put together all the required paperwork, hosted an inspection (the inspector told her, ‘this is the finest property in the area’), and then waited a week before being told she had failed to qualify. Why? Because her place had a guesthouse -- and that particular loan program was for single dwelling properties only!
The lesson here is that it pays to ask all sorts of questions before actually applying for a specific refinance offer; in other words, kick the tires! Nevertheless, when all is said and done, locking in lower monthly payments can still be worth the trouble.
You will want to present a solid picture -- one that shows that you are financially stable with a good credit rating. Getting any kind of a mortgage is twice as hard if there are significant issues in your credit report or instability in your employment history.
Of course, the basic math has to work, too. The more income you have, the more the lender will be willing to lend. If you are married, you can opt to borrow as a couple so that your joint income is considered. Since the lender will factor in your debt load, subtract your monthly from your income number: if the remainder is healthy, the lender will see that, too.
Lastly (and of key importance), your home will need to appraise for the loan you desire. Although a resurgence in property values seems firmly underway, some neighborhoods have had time to show those rising values, and some not. I can help you get an idea of how the ‘comps’ in your part of town have been faring recently – good to know when you are getting a mortgage or refinancing an existing one.
The bottom line? Getting any type of mortgage in Evansville requires all the usual suspects. Reliability and predictability are really the key here. If you are tempted by today’s record rates to try to refinance, contact a reputable mortgage broker to go over your options. As always, please consider me your local real estate resource – call me if you need an introduction!
You can reach me on my cell phone at 812-499-9234.
Friday, September 28 2012
A report from the Evansville Convention & Visitors Bureau says 4.3 million tourists contributed more than $520 million to the area economy last year. The bi-annual study also found that visitors spent more in 2011 compared to 2009. The bureau points to the Jehovah's Witness Convention, Frog Follies car show and youth sporting events as drivers of dollars.
The Evansville Convention & Visitors Bureau issued their bi-annual report on the economic impact of tourism for Evansville and Vanderburgh County. Since 1998, Certec, Inc. has conducted this study to quantify the amount of expenditures, employment and tax dollars generated by the tourism industry. It also identifies where visitors come from, what they do and how much they spend.
In 2011, Evansville and Vanderburgh County economy realized $523.6 million dollars contributed by 4.3 million visitors. This generated $153 million in total tax revenues, 6,110 jobs which paid $103.8 million in wages earned. The study's findings report the top four points of origin for visitors are Indiana, Kentucky, Illinois and Tennessee with notable activity from Missouri, Michigan, Kansas and Colorado.
The typical visitor is most likely a college graduate, working in a professional or technical job or is retired. They usually stay one to three nights in a hotel and have visited Evansville before. They travel with 3.2 people in their party. In 2011, 80 percent of the respondents mentioned they used the Internet to make their travel plans – this is up from 67.3 percent of those questioned in 2009. The top activities were going to Casino Aztar, the Ford Center, shopping malls and local restaurants.
It should be noted that the number of tourists remained comparable between 2009 and 2011 but the economic impact and direct expenditures increased by 1 percent. There was also a 1.33 percent increase in industry wages paid. Another increase was the per person per day expenditure which increased from $93.41 to $99.51 by those visitors who stayed in hotels.
The Evansville Convention & Visitors Bureau uses this and other studies to measure the economic benefits of tourism for our community. They are also useful in identifying the demographics of our visitors which will be used in future marketing campaigns.
Source: The Evansville Convention & Visitors Bureau http://www.insideindianabusiness.com/newsitem.asp?ID=55821
Wednesday, September 19 2012
September is a transition time for almost everybody. Here inEvansville, the kids have shifted into school gear, adults have moved out of vacation mode, and businesses are already sprucing up for the (believe it or not) Holiday Season.
Inreal estate, we are looking with more than casual interest at what’s going on nationally. Especially those measures that tend to affect Evansville home sales. The largest professional association in the country is our own National Association of Realtors®. At the beginning of the month, they broke another piece of welcome news. This one looks like the difference between ‘indicators’ of a strengthening home sales market -- and signs that it’s already fact.
The NAR release was about TOM. No, as you have probably guessed, TOM isn’t some real estate broker’s name -- it’s the Time On Market measure. For Evansville homeowners who are selling (or planning to sell) their properties, it’s a vital measurement of one of the two most important characteristics of how things are going – a tip to what they may expect when they list. Along with median price trends, it tells the story of whether the market is hot, cool, or somewhere in between.
For some years now, TOM has been an uncooperative sort of fellow. At least when it came to Evansville home sales. Following the financial crisis came skyrocketing foreclosures…then the fallout from that -- painfully long TOMs marking the lengthening time it took to move homes through the market. TOM had stretched out to a painfully long median of 98 days – close to the longest ever.
The good news: TOM is just about back to normal. From the cyclical peak hit in 2009, by mid-summer, he was back “in the range of historic norms for a balanced market.” Traditional sellers were reporting the median TOM had returned to the balanced range of six to seven weeks. IOW, TOM is finally behaving himself.
And what about that other half of the picture that helps guide home sales expectations?
I think it’s too soon to tell for sure, but the head economist at NAR knows what history tells us to expect when this kind of balanced market returns. According to him (Lawrence Yun), “Our current forecast is for the median existing home price to rise 4.5% to 5% this year.” Plus another 5% in 2013!
So the transition that September means for everyone else seems to be underway in the real estate world: and it’s a transition back to home sales normalcy. In light of what we were looking at a just couple of years ago, I think it’s fair to say we are delighted that ‘normal’ is the ‘new normal!’
Tuesday, September 18 2012
The other day I read an opinion piece that I really couldn’t agree with. The writer expected a pause in the pace of the residential market upturn now that many of the most obvious bargains have been snapped up. He thought that was to be expected, and that a further rebound would be likely to follow. His idea was based on the notion that many otherwise well-qualified prospects – buyers who may have narrowly missed the bottom of the market -- would now be waiting for prices to fall again. They would only reappear once they realize that those super bargains were a once-in-a-lifetime affair.
I’d have to say, ‘not so much.’
In my experience, individuals who are even half-serious about buying homes in Evansvilleare usually not motivated by squeezing every cent from the bottom line. Pricing is certainly a factor, but just one of many. When you are impressed with a neighborhood, or its school district, or the particularly appealing floor plan of a particularly appealing house -- those are what prompt you to have your agent write up an offer. Buying homes is not like supermarket shopping. You don’t expect any Double Coupon Days or Two-for-One Sales. You are finding the best place for your family to live -- it’s a different animal.
I also suspect that the author had overlooked a major factor (possibly the major factor) that has shifted since the start of the year. It’s at least partly psychological.
Everybody has to live somewhere, and when you evaluate whether your own best course is to buy or rent, you want to know that the investment portion of the purchase isn’t a foolish one. There is a huge difference between buying homes in a falling market and buying homes in a flat or rising market. When an investment is tumbling in value, it just feels like you should wait to buy it. Even when it’s clear that you are getting more than your money’s worth, it can feel as if you are being self-indulgent by acting instead of waiting.
That was a pretty substantial roadblock throughout the whole period following the financial meltdown. Then, as the market bottomed out, I think it began to disappear from peoples’ minds. Now that the national press is reporting steadily rising prices, it’s gone entirely (last week, for instance, Fannie Mae raised its original home sales forecast for this year by another 5%). If I am right, that is a very big deal.
Whether you are scouting for a new home or thinking that the time is right to list your own property, I am here to answer your questions and help you get started. Call me anytime! You can reach me on my cell phone at 812-499-9234.
Monday, September 10 2012
There are more honors for a popular southern Indiana tourist attraction. Holiday World & Spashin' Safari in Santa Claus says its Wildebeest and Mammoth water coasters were among the winners at this weekend's Golden Ticket Awards in Tennessee.
SANTA CLAUS, IND.----- Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari’s two water coasters took top honors during this weekend’s Golden Ticket Awards ceremony, held at Dollywood theme park.
For the third year in a row, Holiday World’s Wildebeest water coaster was named the World’s #1 Waterpark Ride. This top honor was announced by Amusement Today magazine, which presented the results of its annual survey of the “best of the best” in the amusement park industry during the annual Golden Ticket Awards ceremony.
In addition, Holiday World’s new water coaster, Mammoth, was named the Best New Waterpark Ride of 2012. Mammoth, the world’s longest water coaster, was lauded by park guests and news media alike this season, with coverage on the Travel Channel, CNN.com, ABCNews.com, the Los Angeles Times, plus Forbes and Wired magazines.
“With so many amazing rides around the world, it’s an incredible honor to have our Mammoth and Wildebeest named the very best,” says Holiday World & Splashin' Safari’s president, Dan Koch.
For the thirteenth consecutive year, Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari were named the #1 Cleanest Park, outranking such parks as Disney World, Kings Island, Dollywood, and Cedar Point.
“For this award, we thank our wonderful Hosts and Hostesses,” says Koch. “They worked together all summer long in record heat to keep our parks clean.”
Amusement Today is an international monthly trade journal for the amusement and water park industries, based in Arlington, Texas. The Golden Ticket Awards are determined by surveys submitted by well-traveled park enthusiasts from around the world.
Holiday World will reopen to the public for six additional weekends starting Saturday, September 22, including the new Happy Halloween Weekends event during October. For more information, visit the parks’ website at HolidayWorld.com or call 1-877-463-2645.
Source: Holiday World & Splashin' Safari http://www.insideindianabusiness.com/newsitem.asp?ID=55545
Tuesday, September 04 2012
Success in Evansville home sales depends on many factors -- and when your own home is the one that is being offered, you want to do the most you can with any factor you control Your home’s interior condition and design are likely to be the key considerations after a buyer has decided to make an offer. However, it’s the exterior – the view that initially catches potential buyers’ eyes – that can have a disproportionate impact on whether they get to that stage. Much of how they perceive the entire property will be influenced by that first impression. It’s the home sales industry’s well known ‘curb appeal.’
Any home’s appeal will, of course, benefit from fresh, clean looking surfaces overall. Scrubbing and painting may the first order of the day, but there are a host of other ideas that can enhance that first impression.
Stepping out to the actual curb to consciously register the view as a first-time onlooker sees it is absolutely necessary. Look at the scene the way a designer does. Is there balance? Natural symmetry is pleasing to the eye, and sometimes achieving that can be as simple as adding a balance of light fixtures or front door accents that repeat some detail.
If what your eye registers is fresh and clean -- yet also dull and uninteresting – you might add splashes of excitement by introducing colorful plants. An instant garden can be created via containers or window planters. Often, such simple touches add so much life that a home’s entire impact is transformed.
Along the same lines, home sales suffer when the details aren’t given enough thought. If you have gotten used to mix-and-match hardware at the entranceway, it’s time to pay a visit to the home improvement center. It’s not a bad idea to snap a few pictures on your way out: they will help you better imagine what styles and finishes will work with the existing design elements. Bringing along a current snapshot has prevented many a return trip. It will also help salespeople suggest ideas you might not have considered.
Another area is easy to overlook even though it can make a real difference in building home sales potential. It’s the nighttime impact – what passersby experience during all the non-daylight hours. It's amazing what adding a little bit of light can do. The thoughtful placement of outdoor lighting along a walkway or near a flowerbed can add a lot of shine to any home. Sometimes as little as $50-$100 can buy a line of do-it-yourself solar lights. Especially as we head into the shorter days of fall,adding some evening sparkle can make a big difference. By boosting your home's curb appeal, you help move it toward the front of the Evansviollehome sales market.
Care to add to the curb enthusiasm even more? Call me -- we can schedule a complimentary in-home consultation to go over more of your options! You can reach me on my cell phone at 812-499-9234.
Tuesday, August 28 2012
As regular readers know, I keep track of the national media spin on real estate matters because our Evansville home sales often reflects the tone we all pick up from the feel of the wider market. So let’s not beat around the bush: again in July, the residential real estate picture continued its rise. It has been sensible to remain cautiously optimistic about the direction of things for a good long while, but at this juncture, it’s finally beginning to look like a trend has taken shape.
“For the fifth consecutive month,” the Wall Street Journal reported in its news pages, “sales of previously owned homes notched another rise.” Evansville homeowners who have gone through literally years of sinking prices and moribund home sales must be worried as they read this –worried that someone will snap them out of this pleasant daydream. But it’s real: despite most of the other national economic news that remains considerably less encouraging, the real estate picture is heartening.
The National Association of REALTORS®, agrees. They report that single family homes, condominiums and townhomes increased sales. Single family home sales rose 9.9% over last year, with condo sales jumping a full 14%.
A low inventory of homes for sale is believed to be at least partially responsible for strong new homes sales numbers. The nation’s biggest builder of luxury homes, Toll Brothers, reported a sales leap of 57% from last year. Meantime, the price picture showed the kind of growth you would expect: median prices were up over 9% from a year ago.
Supporting trends were also interesting. Distressed sales (foreclosures and short sales) were down markedly, reflecting a tightening supply. This is probably an indication that the glut of such properties has finally worked its way through the market; certainly an encouraging sign for homeowners who have been waiting to list until the home sales market strengthens. The WSJ news story would likely provide some encouragement: they feature one would-be buyer who bid on a home, but lost it to a higher bidder. He and his wife had been viewing homes all summer before finally making their offer. “Maybe I stepped in a month too late,” he’s quoted as saying.
For local homeowners who have been biding their time, that kind of quote will surely be music to their ears. If you have been watching and waiting for your own entry into the Evansville market, I hope you will give me a call to investigate the latest comparables in your own neighborhood. You can reach me on my cell phone at 812-499-9234.
Friday, August 24 2012
For everyone who rents (or leases) Evansville rental homes, it’s a choice that comes up every year: rent or buy. In addition to the common sense considerations everyone brings to that important decision, some financial measurements have been developed through the years that attempt to bring an element of rationality to a largely subjective decision.
Actually penciling out an answer isn’t always satisfactory because it is literally impossible to quantify elements like peace of mind. To some who own their homes, there is great peace of mind in controlling their own destiny. To others, the worry of being responsible for a home’s maintenance or taxes makes the ‘peace of mind’ factor a wash -- or even a negative.
Likewise, those who lease rental homes may find the lack of responsibility liberating…or the lack of control bothersome. It’s a personal preference. What makes it even less subject to mathematical measurement is that anyone’s preference is likely to change due to life and career factors. (Just try to measure that, bean counters!)
All this is to introduce a new one of those metrics just introduced by Zillow this month. The metric, which is a pretty clever one, was introduced in an online article by Zillow’s Nalina Varanasi. Her all-but-hilarious introduction describes traditional methods used to try to quantify the rental homes vs. owned homes financial tradeoffs. The unintentional amusement arises from the 850 words and seven paragraphs it takes to describe just two of them. The mind-numbingly complex ratios-divided-by-more-ratios explanations are invariably followed by phrases like, ‘but the main problem with this’ or ‘still, this doesn’t account for…’
Zillow’s new measurement is also exceedingly complex, but yields one simple number. They call it the ‘Breakeven Horizon.’ It's the number of years after which buying becomes more financially rewarding than renting. (At the exact number, it wouldn’t make a difference one way or the other). Since the Breakeven Horizon can’t take into account the very real personal value judgments, it’s as flawed as all the others. But it does yield an interesting nugget: in general, as a nation-wide average, it has been moving downward. Right now, the break-even point for most homes in the U.S. is around three years. In places like Miami-Fort Lauderdale, the break-even period comes in a scant 1.6 years.
Still, I have to admire author Varanasi’s boldly self-aware skill in her choice of headlines. Her announcement of the new Price Horizon metric is titled,
“Should You Buy or Rent? Depends on How Long You Want to Stay and Where You Want to Live (Of Course)”.
By the way, whenever you want to buy or rent, if it happens to be anywhere around Evansville, don’t hesitate to give me a call! We’ll find you the home that fits your needs (Of Course)! You can reach me on my cell phone at 812-499-9234.
Thursday, August 23 2012
Some of us have decided that life is too short to spend any time behind a lawnmower. Others decide that the real reason we have a mate is so that we can offer him or her the opportunity to get out in the fresh air and sunshine…to mow. Children can be the recipients of that very same opportunity, which will build character through hard work. Alternatively, a healthy lawn – especially a well-watered one in late August – provides an opportunity to keep the Evansville economy humming by employing a gardening service to keep it in top trim.
But for those of us who personally oversee our property’s greenbelt maintenance, earlier this month, CNN’s Money website put together a four-point tip sheet that caught my eye: it rounded up some of the best common sense lawn care ideas I’ve seen in one place. The author (Josh Garskot who wrote in @Money), claims that DIY lawn care keeps him handy and youthful. Although I could argue that a tall lemonade on the verandah might serve just as well, here’s a shortened version of what he came up with:
· Edge twice. That is, turn the edger sideways to make a vertical slice, then do the regular horizontal trim (CNN even has a tip for precutting trimmer strings and keeping them at hand by attaching them with Velcro tape – but that’s a little too far into the weeds for me).
· Let the pros fertilize. Seen as just too complicated to handle, CNN’s expert threw in the towel when it comes to trying to figure out those charts on the back of the bags. Recommendation: hire pros to fertilize (and aerate once a year). I concur.
· Forget bagging clippings. Downside: since you probably remember the fact that you should never cut more than a third of the height of the grass, you have to mow often enough to follow through on that. Upsides: the clippings will be short enough that you can just let them recycle back into the soil. And your property will look great all the time!
· Say goodbye to stale gas. Particularly after a long layoff, old gas can mean real arm-wrenching trouble getting a stubborn motor started. A few drops of fuel stabilizer is enough to keep mower and trimmer carburetors ungummed (and the air free of the bad language that can otherwise result).
Lawns can be a real property value enhancer when they’re well maintained -- but the opposite when allowed to reach meadow length. And while we’re on the subject, I hope you will always feel free to contact me whenever you’d like to tap into my store of home maintenance referrals and ideas for keeping yourEvansville property at the top of the market. You can reach me on my cell phone at 812-499-9234.
Wednesday, August 22 2012
This month’s Market Watch is about mortgage financing and how it affects the housing market. We all know that our country suffered a terrible recession just a few years ago. Although we don’t hear as much as we used to no one disputes that the primary cause of the recession was mortgage loan defaults caused by lending standards that were far too lenient. The Federal Government, primarily through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac not only loosened lending standards but in many instances mandated, through the guise of the Community Reinvestment Act, that mortgages be extended to unqualified buyers. In addition to being the biggest single cause of the recession Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac sustained billions of dollars in losses on these loans. Since that time, lending standards have been made much more stringent. In my opinion, the pendulum swung too far one way and has now swung too far the other way. In addition to lending standards other restrictions and rules are inhibiting lending. The HUD disclosure, which was 3 pages, is being “simplified” to 8 pages, for example. The National Association of Realtors estimates that as many as 20% of potential buyers are being prevented from entering the housing market by unreasonable lending standards. Regulators are currently planning and implementing even more rules and restrictions. Clearly these are not only unnecessary, but are becoming oppressive and hurting the housing market. Although no one wants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to lose money that is no longer a problem. Last quarter Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac combined made over $8 billion in profits. Lending standards already in place are more than stringent enough to generate a profit for these lenders. Further restrictions will slow the housing market, reduce lending and reduce profits because fewer loans will be extended.
Our local market had another acceptable month. This calendar year has been remarkably consistent and through July we are up 6.6% in closed units and up 2% in median price. Inventory levels are better here than in many parts of the country. Interest rates are still unbelievably low. These rates will not last forever. Buyers continue to remain selective about the condition and maintenance of properties they are considering. If you are selling make sure your property is neat, clean and well maintained. Call me if you would like some tips on preparing your house for sale. You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234.
Tuesday, August 14 2012
Uncertain economy or not, we Americans remain a highly mobile bunch. In fact, the Census Bureau says that no fewer than 6,700,000 Americans packed up and moved to a new state in the period between 2010 – 2011, the latest year on record. The study sheds light on the movement of people within the U.S. -- and it lets us know that of the most common reason for interstate relocation (43.9%) was for employment-related reasons. The official stats are not yet available for last year, but the relocation numbers are expected to increase as people continue to relocate in search of more stable economic environments.
For just about everyone, even thinking about relocating is a daunting proposition. Although it can turn into a planet-sized headache, if you are one of those considering relocation to our neck of the woods, the surest way to keep yourself sane is to connect with an experienced buyer's agent.
A buyer's agent can accomplish several momentous things to simplify your local relocation. He or she can take your "wish list" and find the available area properties that suit your needs. With a good working knowledge of what is available, your agent will provide guidance on the price similar properties have recently commanded. Buyer's agents are contractually bound to have your best interests at heart -- which is why having a buyer’s agent is preferable to using the seller's agent.
If you are starting from scratch, and don’t yet know anyone in Southwest Indiana, your new coworkers may be able to offer a referral. A thorough Internet search can turn up a stellar agent or two, as well -- bonus points if you can find a site where previous customers have supplied ratings.
As with any other key professional service provider, you shouldn’t be willing to settle for the first person you come across. Taking the time up front to find a sympathetic agent can wind up saving a lot more time in the long run. It is important to interview several buyer’s agents, asking enough questions to make sure you are both on the same page. One good question to ask is whether the agent tends to work with more buyers than sellers.
Where your new home is concerned, there is really no need to take chances. A great buyer's agent will help make your Evansville relocation as painless as possible. I hope you will include me on your interview list -- I’m here to help my clients every step of the way!
Thursday, August 02 2012
One of the most recognizable names in the clothing industry is scheduled to speak at the University of Evansville in October. Calvin Klein is slated to kick off The Institute for Global Enterprise in Indiana's year-long speaker series that also includes a former Harley-Davidson Inc. (NYSE: HOG) executive and a Tony Award winning producer.
The Institute for Global Enterprise in Indiana, part of the Schroeder Family School of Business Administration at the University of Evansville, is proud to announce the 2012-13 Institute Speaker Series, sponsored by Old National Bank.
"Our primary objective at the Institute for Global Enterprise in Indiana is to assist regional businesses in improving their global capabilities," said Dan Miller, the Institute's executive director. "The three speakers we are announcing today are recognized figures who will help us learn about global branding, transformation of businesses, and innovation, based on their first-hand experience and success in these areas."
The series begins Wednesday, October 24 with an appearance by Calvin Klein, an award-winning fashion icon recognized globally as a master of minimalism. His name ranks among the best-known brands in the world, with Calvin Klein Inc. reaching over $6 billion in global retail sales. Klein will speak in Indianapolis at noon and at Evansville's Victory Theatre at 7:00 p.m. (local times). His appearance is presented in partnership with the Rotary Club of Indianapolis.
The series' next event on Thursday, March 14, 2013 will feature Ken Schmidt. As the former director of communications for Harley-Davidson Motor Company, Schmidt played an active role in one of the most celebrated turnarounds in corporate history — and got paid to ride motorcycles. He will speak in Indianapolis at noon and at Evansville's Aiken Theatre in The Centre at 6:00 p.m. (local times).
The 2012-13 Institute Speaker Series will conclude Tuesday, September 17, 2013 with an appearance from John Kao, an innovation activist who has been dubbed "Mr. Creativity" by The Economist. Kao, the chair of the Institute for Large Scale Innovation, holds an MD from Yale Medical School and an MBA from Harvard Business School. He is also a Tony Award-nominated producer of Broadway plays and a jazz pianist. He will speak in Indianapolis at noon and at Evansville's Victory Theatre at 7:00 p.m. (local times).
Admission to all Evansville events is free and open to the public. Ticket information for Indianapolis events is forthcoming. For more information, please contact the Institute for Global Enterprise in Indiana at 812-488-2455 or email@example.com.
The core purpose of the University of Evansville is to provide students with life-transforming educational experiences that prepare them to engage the world as informed, ethical, and productive citizens.
Source: University of Evansvillle http://www.insideindianabusiness.com/newsitem.asp?ID=54930
Wednesday, August 01 2012
Designers of today's local new homes are continuing to regard the kitchen as the functioning central gathering place – the family’s social hub, where a great deal more than meal preparation takes place. The trend toward bigger kitchens is on track: many feature kitchens designed with open space for family gatherings as well as multi-generational cooking. Many new homes deck out their kitchens in the hottest new colors (it’s become a widespread international fashion trend).
When you are making decisions about your own kitchen, if you decide to keep future home values in mind, your color choices may differ from what they might have been a decade ago. According to HGTV, "People are viewing kitchens that have too much of any one color as flat, so more color is definitely the way to go."
Earthy tones like golden yellow, mossy green and mocha brown are still prevalent in the kitchens of today's new homes. These tones blend well with black appliances and dark wood cabinetry. Many people choose these colors to go with an earthy, down-home, farm-inspired decorative theme. What’s different is the addition of accents that “pop.” Adding modest touches of colors like strawberry ice to predominantly tapenade green is one example.
Cerulean blue, bright white and seafoam green are more ‘new millennial’ color choices: they go well with stainless steel appliances and any sleek, modern decor. Many consumers are choosing blue handcrafted tiles for counter backsplashes in their new homes.
For the brave (and those with an excellent designer), purple paired with orange is the kind of decorative theme that uses color opposites to create a feeling of energy and vigor. Such combinations allow the color to pop against the relatively bland tones of the room's appliances and woodwork – they reflect the recent movement towards Middle Eastern inspiration in interior design. These pairings, known as “mystic” tones, are safest when they appear in modest doses.
In any of Evansville’s new homes, the perfect kitchen decor is the one the owners find fits their own family. When that dovetails with the 21st century kitchen’s position as the most prominent gathering place, one that most people find appealing and comfortable – it is also likely to be a choice that adds value for future owners. If you are considering a major kitchen overhaul and would like some expert advice on what sells, I can help with some ideas that have produced widely-appealing modern kitchen designs.
Friday, July 27 2012
Home prices and market activity held strong during June according to themonthly Indiana Real Estate MarketsReport today released by the state’s REALTORS®.
Highlightsfrom the report include:
• The median sale price of homes statewide is in its seventh consecutivemonth of year-over-year increases and back to a level not seen since 2007.
• The average sale price of homes statewide is in its sixth consecutivemonth of year-over-year increases and also back to a level not seen since 2007.
• The number of closed home sales is in its 12th consecutivemonth of year-over-year increases with 2012 on track to surpass years in whicha federal home buyer tax credit was available.
“Forthe third month in a row, the statewide housing market has made very goodnews,” said Karl Berron, Chief Executive Officer of the Indiana Association ofREALTORS®. “Home prices and market activity were strong during June which is a resultof pent-up demand and continued low interest rates. It’s also because homesacross Indiana have historically held value, so real estate here has long beenviewed as a wise investment.
“Thedemand will only be sustained if Hoosiers are working and confident in theirlong-term employment,” continued Berron. “So we are listening for economicdevelopment plans and watching jobs numbers closely.”
Gettingback to the traditional year-over-year comparisons of the Indiana Real Estate Markets Report, statewide, when comparing June2012 to June 2011:
• The number of closed home sales increased 11 percent to 6,750;
• The median sale price of those homes increased 3.4 percent to $124,000;
• The average sale price increased 2.7 percent to $147,559;
• The number of pending home sales increased 9.7 percent to 6,026;
• The number of new listings decreased 2.1 percent to 10,598; and
• The percent of original list price received increased 1.2 percent to 91.8percent.
Anyonelooking to buy or invest should start with the sortable county tables of this reportand then talk to a local REALTOR® who can give the most insight into what’shappening in a neighborhood, city or school district.
Tuesday, July 24 2012
Your Evansville home is in perfect shape – all set to go on the market. You’ve enlisted an experienced real estate agent with a solid track record. Now all that’s left is…what?
What’s that next step?
In fact, the next step can be all-important: creating alocal listing that does more than just describe the number of beds and baths. It has to stand out among all the competing listings that will be seen alongside it. That listing is the keystone of the marketing campaign that will ultimately fetch a new owner: its job is to get buyers and agents to take a closer look. To get that job done, it has to be special!
When I sit down to work up an effective listing, I try to pay attention to what creative writers from other forms of advertising advise: first discover what is unique, appealing, attention-getting, then present it with language that captures readers’ imaginations. Formulas are out, since following a set group of mechanical rules can only produce a dull, repetitious result. Even so, there are some useful tips that can help spark an effective listing:
* Keep the context in mind. The job of any Evansville listing is to communicate many essential details in a limited amount of space – but there will be photographic information there, too. Highlight features that can’t be told through either its photos or specifications. For example, if a house offers a spectacular view of the sunset from its veranda, the listing should highlight it. Grandeur can be told nowhere else.
* Listing language should be upbeat and tailored to sell, while at the same time, filled with accurate and useful information. It’s a balancing act, and going overboard in either direction can be off-putting. Specific details help bring in readers and build believability (high quality brand names like Sub-Zero or Wolf are good examples). Details build credibility that bolsters less concrete descriptions. I leave out unsupportable claims altogether. It can be tempting to fall in love with flowery language that sails off into its own reality -- but accurate information builds trust for the lead-up to a sale.
* Setting the right tone is another important factor. It’s another balancing act. Listings should be upbeat without exaggeration…accommodating without sounding desperate. The right tone can help bring in prospects, just as the wrong one will drive them off or raise suspicions that something is wrong.
A successfullocal agent has demonstrated the knowhow and experience to bring these and other elements together to produce powerful, effective home listings. If you are considering selling your own home in our area, I hope you will give me a call so we can create a dynamic marketing plan to sell your property! You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234.
Monday, July 23 2012
July tends to be a busy month in most Evansville homes. If you have kids who are out of school, it’s up to you to dream up new ways to keep them out of trouble (and away from non-stop video gaming). Even if kids are not at homes, you probably have to get twice as much done anyway – you want to be ahead at work and around the house so you can relax and enjoy your vacation. Or recover from it.
And then there is the likelihood that in the back of your mind is the knowledge that you’ve been putting off what should be an annual maintenance once-over. All homes have areas that need looking after, and July and August are the best time to get at them. On dry days that aren’t too blisteringly hot to work, it’s prime time to fix areas that the year’s wear and tear may be turning into future problems.
Warm weather is perfect for conducting a timely energy audit. Any gaps or cracks around doors or windows - the likely culprits if heat leakage raised last winter’s energy bills - can most easily be filled in warm weather. Other possible spots where heat can leak is the junction between different materials, and around fireplace dampers. If you’re a dedicated DIYer, grab some caulk or other professional-grade material and get filling. If you’re less handy, the energy audit may suggest a call to an appropriate professional. A review of the year’s energy bills will tell you whether that makes dollars and sense.
This is the time to pay attention to the big one: the foundation. It’s prudent in all homes to clean visible concrete surfaces. Sidewalks and steps can be cleaned very effectively with the same pressure washer you use to clean your car. When it comes to the foundation, be sure to check for cracks, water or mold.. If mold or water is present, a trusted contractor or structural engineer will be able to recommend a solution that prevents real trouble later.
Summer is also a good time to take a look at your home’s deck or patios. Standing water rots wood. The solution can be as simple as slipping planter "feet" beneath outdoor flower pots. As long as water is able to flow around or under stationary objects, the underlying wood will benefit.
These are only a few examples of what you can make part of your summer home maintenance checklist. Call me anytime with home and maintenance-related questions, if you need a recommendation for a reliable local contractor or service provider, or if you want to check on the status of the Evansville homes market in your neighborhood. You can reach me on my cell phone at 812-499-9234.
Wednesday, July 18 2012
As usual, the first week of July brought the usual report cards on home sales and other real estate data: the “second quarter stats.” The start of summer signals the beginning of what journalists call the slow news season (in Washington, the ‘silly season’) – a slowdown in the drumbeat of nonstop crises and turbulence in world and national affairs. Sometimes I think the most welcome result is the relief that comes from realizing that we don’t even need to glance at newspapers and TV news. Nothing new is happening. Thank goodness! That’s a mini-vacation all by itself.
One side effect it that it is much more likely that you may have missed some good news that could affect Evansville homes sales. And possibly a subtle change in the way that news is beginning to be presented.
Reports from the National Association of Realtors, the Census Bureau and others have been looking up for a while, but reports in the national media have emphasized the caution signals. Lately there seems to be a shift in emphasis, if not content. The New York Times reported on the 19.8% increase in home sales in the last 12 months – and for once, the Grey Lady spent more ink on the ‘upswing’ than on the lagging recovery. “…Real estate was far down the list [of categories] investors had to worry about,” said the Times. Coming from that source, it was the journalistic equivalent of a ticker tape parade.
USA Today headlined “HOUSING PRICES RISE IN MOST U.S. CITIES,” and went on to quote economist Maury Harris stressing the importance of positive headlines. “It’s a confidence builder at a time when Americans really need something good happening.” He has a point: in the past, Evansville home sales, like those everywhere else, tend to reflect the national temper even though real estate is a very local phenomenon.
The Christian Science Monitor reported on the “lift to the long-suffering housing market” provided by the record lows in mortgage rates. They pointed out that previously occupied home sales contract signings matched the “fastest pace in two years,” with prices “rising in most markets.”
The Wall Street Journal sounded a bit more encouraging, as well. “Generally speaking,” they reported, “home prices are rising again in most markets because demand is up strongly from one and two years ago, which the number of homes for sale is down sharply.”
Of course, every neighborhood in Evansville is unique -- and getting accurate home sales information for properties that are similar to yours is a necessary step when you go about evaluating your own family’s home buying or selling plans. For accurate and up-to-date information, feel free to contact me anytime for a consultation.
Tuesday, July 17 2012
We are halfway through 2012 and I think it is a good time to see where we are this year and compare 2012 to 2011. For the first six months of 2012 our Broker Listing Cooperative, (we used to call this our MLS) has sold almost $260 million of real estate up just over 4% from the preceding year. Homes sold this year have exceeded last year in 5 of the first 6 months and are up almost 5% from last year. In addition the list price to sale price ratio, which is the percentage of list price compared to the asking price has improved slightly and is over 95% so far this year. Days on market (how long a house is listed before it sells) is at 123 days this year. Although I would like for this number to be lower is down from almost 140 days last year at this time. Finally our inventory levels are better than they have been for several years. We have had less than 7 months supply of homes on the market for 3 of the past 4 months. We never had less than 7 months supply in 2011 and we averaged 8.7 months for the entire year. This is a significant improvement and 2012 will the best year we have had since 2006 for inventory levels.
All of the figures in the preceding paragraph were from our BLC. I am proud that F.C. Tucker Emge Realtors has substantially outperformed the market for the first 6 months of the year. My company increased sales 14.9% over this time frame and in fact if you remove Tucker’s increase the rest of our BLC was down .4% over the same time period. Although I always work hard for my clients I know one reason our company has performed much better than the market is because both our FCTuckeremge.com website and our Tuckermobile.com websites are superior to those of all of our local competitors. Virtually all buyers start their home search on the web and we want to make sure that buyers continue to go to our site first. It helps our buying clients find what they are looking for and is the best exposure available for our sellers.
Kathy and I are here for all of your real estate needs. Please contact either of us if you have any questions or concerns. You can reach me on my cell phone at 812-499-9234.
Monday, July 16 2012
We all know that many Evansville property searchers are looking for homes with more modern, high tech-compatible features. But something that is also interesting is evidence that the trend has broadened to include retirees who are in a downsizing, property-searching frame of mind.
From wireless availability to health monitoring systems, technology is one of the key hot buttons in the senior housing industry. "Many people are trading older houses for new [properties] that offer energy efficiency, great rooms, open floor plans,” according to Jane O'Connor, a specialist who studies trends in the 55-plus population.
Although earlier studies found that most baby boomers preferred to stay in their current home as long as possible, those times are a-changin’. That attitude may have been typical for most of the last 50 or 60 years, but perhaps due to skyrocketing energy prices over the past few years, willingness to downsize and move is growing among retirement aged advocates.
As the publisher of Mature Living Choices magazine, O’Connor suggests other contributing reasons. “Boomers…were the first generation to question authority. They changed everything they touched, from the creation of suburbs to mini-mansions.” Today’s retirees are also strong entrants into the virtual communities that the social networking explosion has created. They are using e-book readers, tablets, and other digital technology -- including online services like Skype and other video chat enablers. A decade ago, members of the senior sector were generally considered to be interested in (but in need of instruction regarding) the latest electronic communication devices. No longer. Especially given how particularly useful the new gizmos are for keeping in touch with children and relatives in other states, more tech-savvy seniors consider strong cable and internet access absolute necessities.
It seems like just yesterday when it was principally the 20-somethings who were wired. The senior population today can be nearly as high-tech as their offspring, and – when the time arrives to begin a Evansville property search at the start of retirement - they expect to continue. It’s no wonder that assisted living facilities, retirement communities and nursing homes are also being required to have all the amenities of today’s connected world.
Whether you are one of the retiree generation setting out on your own property search, or a homeowner preparing to sell into this changing market, I’m here to assist in your plans. Give me a call anytime! You can reach me on my cell phone at 812-499-9234.
Friday, July 13 2012
Every homeowner can have all sorts of reasons for selling their Evansville house. Those in the boomer generation can be in one of the traditional phases of retirement (planning, transitioning, initiating) or perhaps in one of the newly-popular phases (postponing, rejecting).
For them and everyone else, the decision about whether to sell the house falls into one of two categories: those triggered by economic pressures -- or all the other reasons. In all cases, being in control of the timing of your house sale will put you in control of the process. That pays off.
Even if the money factor doesn’t rule, it’s vital to first do some hard-nosed dollars-and-cents calculations before putting your house on the market. Find out what a realistic listing price range will be. I or anotherexperienced real estate professional can be a major asset in establishing this: you can count on a complimentary consultation that will offer comparable current values for our area’s house sales.
Then consider current rental rates for a house like yours. Sometimes you will be surprised to find that the most beneficial course would be to rent your house for an interim period, especially in light of some evidence that a market rise is just beginning. When you are penciling out these factors, be sure to include realistic maintenance expenses and, if you are moving out of the area, property management fees. I can help here, too.
If financial pressure is the key motivating factor, make sure you have weighed the alternatives before sealing the decision to sell your house. If you haven’t done so already, find out if refinancing is an option. The first answer isn’t necessarily the final one: check with other financial sources as well as your current mortgage holder. Mortgage rates are lower than ever, and if unmanageable mortgage payments are at issue, this could be the most direct route to reducing that outflow and giving you time to sell on your own timetable.
Being methodical and patient when deciding about any house sale can make a big difference in the bottom line. I’m here to provide current Evansville information and guidance that will help make that possible. You can reach me on my cell phone at 812-499-9234.
Thursday, July 12 2012
Look to the walls! Homeowners preparing Evansville houses for sale can hesitate when they suspect the overall look and feel of the interior has grown dated. With good reason, they may fear that prospective buyers will be drawn to newer, fresher-looking competitors…yet the cost and delay of all-out remodel is unattractive.
One alternative is to ‘look to the walls’ for an easy and budget-friendly alternative to a complete remodel. Few things can date a home the way old wallpaper does. Unfortunately, just painting over it is not a solution that usually works very well. Let’s face it: the old paper has to go!
While many newer types come off with ease, it can be downright difficult to remove old wallpaper. Those paisley daisies can be stubborn! Furthermore, many old homes have several layers, making the process even more daunting. Like any of the other processes involved in prepping houses for sale, this one will go considerably faster if you keep the end goal – the major increase in value – in mind.
If the offending wallpaper is a non-porous material like vinyl, start by making holes in it with a puncturing roller, handsaw blade, or even just rough sand paper. The holes will allow steam or chemicals to get through to the glue – it’s what you are working to neutralize. A wallpaper steamer helps ease wallpaper away by melting the glue that bonds it to the wall. You can usually find this specialty equipment for sale or rent at one of our Evansville hardware stores or home centers.
Another method is to spray or sponge on one of the several chemical solutions that dissolve the old bonding glue. Most of these preparations soak for about 15 minutes before removal. Alternatively, there is the least expensive option -- one that I find is usually just as effective. This is a one-to-one solution of fabric softener and hot water (the ‘hot’ is important). Combine the ingredients in a spray bottle, then spray directly onto the wall. This mixture works best when made in small batches that keep the water hot enough to melt the glue.
Once the bond is loosened, starting in a bottom corner, pull upward, using a putty knife as needed to ease the paper away from the wall surface. After the paper is down, the best cleaning solution is regular dish detergent preceding a water rinse and towel dry. (In case I forgot to mention it, work clothes are a requirement for this project: old work clothes!)
Do-it-yourself projects like this considerably lower the cost of updating Evansville houses for sale…especially when compared with the alternative of hiring a pro. If you’re looking for more ideas on how to modernize and refresh your home before listing it for sale, don’t hesitate to give me a call. Together, we can develop a pre-marketing plan that works for you! You can reach me at 812-499-9234.
Wednesday, July 11 2012
About this time a year ago, I was pointing out that with Evansville mortgage rates at near historic lows, the opportunities for first time home ownership had seldom been better. Although, as always, there is a lot more to a family’s decision than the cash flow dimension, it’s undeniable that those who took advantage of low mortgage rates in 1993 could look forward to spending the next 30 years making the their friends and neighbors feel like they’d missed the boat. When you are paying 6.8% for your home while yournext door neighbor -- who bought just one year later -- is struggling at 9.2% every month, it’s no wonder your car looks a lot newer. And why you’re always jetting off to exotic vacations while they check out the latest “staycation” bargains.
That was what was happening a year ago, but this year is different. I can no longer tell you that mortgage rates are at near historic lows.
That’s because last week, mortgage rates hit absolute historic lows!
According to Freddie Mac’sPrimary Mortgage Market Survey, 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rates (FRM) averaged 3.62%. There were other bottom-scraping stats in the same report, including the average of 0.8 point (with an asterisk that points out that closing costs vary); but the real headline-maker was that further drop in mortgage rates. Down from 4.6% a year ago. That’s an all-time low in Freddie Mac records – and they go back to 1971.
"Recent economic data releases of less consumer spending and a contraction in the manufacturing industry drove long-term Treasury bond yields lower over the week and allowed fixed mortgage rates to hit new all-time record lows," said Freddie Mac's chief economist, Frank Nothaft, quoted in the July 5 release.
You can bet that Evanville buyers and sellers are listening. If previous talks of a housing recovery haven’t been enough to motivate first-time buyers or investors to jump into the market, mortgage rates like these often do the trick. And if you are on the oppositie side of the home-selling equation, weighing the best time to sell your Evansville home, this might be the signal you’ve been waiting for. Record-breaking low mortgage rates (and corresponding headlines) can help breathe life back into any market, including Evansville home sales. Properties that are properly priced and well-marketed stand the best chance of taking advantage of an invigorated market.
Every market is different, and often vary from neighborhood to neighborhood. Call me if you want to chat about market updates and how they might affect your individual outlook. You can reach me at 812-499-9234.
Tuesday, July 10 2012
As moving time approaches, most internal stress meters start twitching around the time we have to figure out how many cartons it’s going to take. A cross-town move is one thing -- sometimes you can even handle it yourself (with the help of bribable friends and relatives, of course).
But suppose you have just accepted a new job promotion in Evansville area. Of course, you’re immediately excited by the adventurous prospect of the summer’s relocation. But suppose ourtown is located in a new zip code – and maybe even a new state. Your move up the professional ladder could also mean spending a lot more time and money on the move itself…and once here, the demands of your new position will double your need to pay attention to business.
Fear not: yourlocal real estate agent has seen how clients achieve a smooth transition with a minimum of stress. And we are happy to share some of the strategies that work best:
1. Lighten the load. The more belongings you and your movers have to pack, carry, and unpack again, the more costly the move will be. You can significantly lower the cost by getting rid of all the possessions you no longer use on a regular basis (there are probably more than you think!). Hold a yard sale, donate to charity, or just give those items to friends and family. We real estate agents are forever advising clients to de-clutter, but this holds doubly true when you are relocating. When you’re done, you’ll feel like a huge burden has been lifted from your shoulders! Stress meter: down.
2. Plan in advance. Real estate agents and relocation pros will always stress advance planning. As soon as possible, sit down and list the steps you need to take, then put them in order. You will find this gives you more time to make decisions, and more time to shop (and save money). For example, if you are buying anEvansville home and are working under a strict deadline, you could back yourself into a hurried decision instead of allowing time for your agent to expose you to all the additional options. By planning ahead -- meeting with your local real estate agent as far in advance as possible -- you can allot enough time to establish a relationship that allows your agent to introduce the full range of neighborhood options. Stress meter: down.
3. Consider using professionals. Before dismissing the idea of hiring professional movers because of cost, spend a day obtaining estimates from at least two or three companies, then compare with do-it-yourself moving costs. You can often obtain a binding estimate that is valid for about 60 days. Compare those figures with the cost of renting a truck, driving the distance, and hiring moving help on one or both ends. Hiring professionals is a one-time cost that will relieve you of the hassle – not to mention the emotional toll – at a time when your attention should be directed to your profession. Stress meter: way down!
The move to a new town can be anywhere from nerve-jangling to serene. If your future could include relocating to our area, please feel free to contact me for some practical local advice. We have many excellent neighborhoods here in Evansville that I’d love you to see!
Monday, July 09 2012
The housing industry recovery has been underway for a while now, but for the most part, the upward movement has been moving at a snail’s pace. Experts are in broad agreement that the trend is there -- but the turnaround rate has been tepid. For those of us watching from ourEvansville perspective, it’s been a pretty unexciting rebound.
So last week’s good national news on existing home sales was especially welcome, because the report indicated that the 5.9% increase was more than three times greater than economists expected. According to the National Association of Realtors in Washington, the index of pending home resales climbed 5.9% to 101.1. This matches the two-year high reached in March.
“This improvement adds to the recent flow of good news on the housing sector, reinforcing our view that this beleaguered sector is finally on the mend” was what Millan Mulraine, a senior U.S. strategist at TD Securities in New York, wrote to his firm’s clients. Bloomberg News’ 39-economist survey had called for a 1.5% gain in May. Tripling that -- and more -- was wholly unexpected, especially in light of recent reports of weakening consumer sentiment.
Continued low mortgage rates, first-time buyer affordability, and a general sentiment that we have reached the bottom in home sales continue to contribute to the home sales rebound. Additional good news came specifically for developers and builders: a Commerce Department report showed in June that new home sales climbed to 7.6%. New dwellings accounted for almost 7% of the market last year, compared to a high of 15% during the market peak.
So what does such national home sales data mean to home sales here in our area? Good news is good news as far as I’m concerned, but real estate – as we all know – is nothing if not local. If you are considering selling your home and want the latest local information on prices and market activity, contact me to discuss thosetrends and how they are affecting our own Evansville home sales. You can reach me on my cell phone at 812-499-9234.
Tuesday, July 03 2012
Ahhhh! At the end of a busy day, who doesn’t look forward to the surge of well being that comes with closing the door behind you, finally able to relax now that the world is at bay. Whether living in apartments or homes, everyone deserves that feeling of safety and security. Yet, like most everything else, real security has to be earned.
In the area of home security, we’ve come across both good and bad news. The good: the most recent FBI report shows that the number of burglaries is decreasing across the nation. The bad: burglaries are still responsible for 23% of property crimes, and total losses for those were estimated at more than $15,000,000,000. That’s billion. Fortunately, a few very simple actions can reduce the chances that any of our Evansvillehomes will become one of those statistics.
Close and Lock Doors and Windows
This may seem obvious, but the FBI reports that burglars don't use force in about a third of homes hit by burglaries. If a criminal can gain easy access through an open or unlocked window or door -- including the garage door -- his job becomes that much easier…and, from his point of view, that much safer (yes, burglars are safety-conscious!). Since most burglaries take place during the day, Evansville homes will be significantly more secure if their owners remember to check the windows and doors whenever they leave.
Opt For Deadbolt Locks
Most people don’t realize how flimsy most front door locks actually are. While no lock is impenetrable, deadbolts take longer to break. Since burglars look for the easiest way to enter homes, most will give up and find homes with more vulnerable locks. This seems a small detail, but thoughtful protection like this can be a selling point for Evansville homes whenever their owners decide to put them up for sale.
Install a Home Security System
Whether a simple burglar alarm or a complex system with motion sensors, window and door sensors, surveillance cameras and even 24/7 off-site monitoring, burglars who find that they are expected know they will be risking arrest. It’s why statistics show that just having a security sign out front can help deter break-ins. The cost of security systems can be partially offset by a discount (usually 5% - 10%) from your home’s insurer.
An important part of owning homes is protecting them -- and ‘the buck stops’ with you, the owner. I hope you will consider me a trusted resource forEvansville home maintenance and security-related referrals anytime!
Friday, June 29 2012
Many eager first-time homebuyers were sidelined by the worldwide economic recession. It’s hard to commit to any decision – much less such a major one – when you read almost daily that the market is falling or downward pressure continues. Who needs any kind of pressure?
So it’s not surprising that, after such an exceptionally lengthy period of down or nearly flat economic expansion, the optimism that drives sales of all kind has been slow to reappear. But for the home buying public, and especially for first-timers, that hesitation could prove costly if, as it now seems likely, the market is entering its recovery phase. So just what does a ‘recovering market’ mean for today’s buyers?
The first sign will be a wakeup call: buyers will no longer find a market filled with purely bargain homes. Already, foreclosures and short sales are selling above the asking price in some areas, with multiple and all-cash offers beginning to reappear. Veteran observers in a few areas report that it even eerily begins to feel like the old pre-crash days. Published reports remain mixed, but as with the stock market, by the time you are reading headlines confirming a certain trend (i.e. “the bottom”), you’ve already missed it.
This is not to say that home buying is already a missed opportunity in the Evansville market. ‘Market recovery’ is a phrase that only signifies that movement and prices are on their way up. For today’s potential buyers, it does mean that it is time to get serious about investigating what is being offered -- what’s out there.
Financing remains an issue. Home buying candidates hoping to take advantage of the historically cheap loan programs may still be able to do so, but fees and insurance costs for the smaller down payment packages are on the rise. In any case, first-timers who encounter bank caution due to their inexperience with home buying will do well to seek help from an experienced real estate professional.
Every recovery is different, and the good news now is the presence of both the historically low interest rates and the survival – for the moment – of some bargain listing prices. Together they mean that regardless of any Evansville resident’s buyer status, most can wind up paying less for more.
By seeking expert advice, it’s possible to take advantage of the benefits our changing market has created. With the assistance of a great agent, you can arm yourself with that kind of market knowledge. Interested in learning what I can do for you during the home buying process in Southwest Indiana? Call me! You can reach me on my cell phone at 812-499-9234.
Thursday, June 28 2012
When the time nears to sell your Evansville home, one extra bit of due diligence can pay off in the most meaningful way: helping you to get the best return on your investment. It’s not a requirement that every listing agent may suggest, but particularly if yours is an older home, it is one you should consider: ordering an advance inspection.
Ordering your own advance inspection, like the proverbial ‘stitch in time,’ can alert you to deferred maintenance items that might conk out just as you’re preparing a big showing. Things do have a remarkable tendency to cause trouble at the most inconvenient time. Even more likely, maintenance items that you have long accepted but which might sour a buyer will be spotlighted early. Curing them before your buyer insists upon it prevents receiving demands for overly extensive cures for simple problems. An Evansville listing agent who knows that a home that has already passed an inspection also knows that it is that much more likely to sail through closing. It becomes a marketing asset.
A home inspector will typically examine areas of your home such as the roof, HVAC, plumbing, electrical and structure. Some will even conduct radon and lead paint tests, and do a check of your crawlspace or attic. If you elect for a home inspection prior to listing your home for sale, you will be able to confirm that major elements of the home are in saleable working order -- and can market the property as such. What potential buyer doesn’t want to hear that when considering writing an offer?
But most important from a listing agent’s point of view is the ability to avoid surprises in escrow. Most listing agents will be quick to agree that the more things that go wrong in a home inspection, the more antsy a buyer can become about the wisdom of the purchase. Otherwise perfect home-to-buyer matches can be lost over minor hitches discovered at the last minute. If a list of even small problems is lengthy, it might seem daunting enough to derail a sale. And any repair becomes more costly if a rush job is required.
If you’re preparing to sell your Evansville home, talk to your listing agent about the appropriateness of an advance home inspection. Numerous professionals are available who can help you determine if your home is ready to sell. The National Association of Home Inspectors (NAHI) has over 1,500 members -- and I will be happy to offer trustworthy local referrals anytime. You can reach me on my cell phone at 812-499-9234.
Tuesday, June 19 2012
When my Evansvilleclients set out to buy a home, one of the elements that has been steadily moving up their list of important considerations is energy: how much will a property cost to heat and cool?
Big, drafty houses are being edged out, replaced by green, eco-consciously-designed homes. Listings able to boast prominent cost-saving features like solar heating can provide a huge advantage to a seller. For prospects looking to buy a home in the Evansville area, the tradeoff between the higher price tag they can expect from a solar-equipped home and the anticipated long-term energy savings is tilting toward the latter.
What are the actual savings in dollars and cents? That’s the tricky part. Because every region is different (in Evansville, for instance, the number of clear, sunny days makes the calculation different from averages elsewhere in the country), the amount of solar energy that a typical homeowner can harvest varies widely.
Solar’s renewed prominence has a lot to do with the recent spikes in energy costs. Anyone who set out to buy a home within the past year has certainly seen the writing on the wall…energy prices may be dipping momentarily, but the future shows every sign that nasty raises lie ahead, sooner or later. To the extent that a solar installation serves to offset those fears, it can be thought of as a long-term energy insurance policy. It’s a subtle ‘peace of mind’ factor that can cinch the decision to buy a home.
Energy-saving features are only one of the many considerations that make a home purchase decision more than simply an emotional one. If you are preparing to buy an Evansville home – whether or not you prioritize those standout green features – give me a call. Now is a good time!
You can reach me on my cell phone at 812-499-9234.
Monday, June 18 2012
Selling your home in boom times can seem like quite a different proposition from what we have today. But Evansville real estate veterans know that there are many factors that aren’t subject to change. One of them is the basic arithmetic of residential space: bigger sells for more.
That’s where you -- if you’re an Evansville homeowner thinking about selling your home this summer or fall -- can have make a real impact. Especially if you think ‘deck’!
A backyard deck can add outsized value to any home by providing functional outdoor space – truly adding to the square footage of usable living area throughout the seasons when weather allows. The square footage on the listing may not reflect it, but when it comes to showings and open houses, prospective buyers will remember the expansive feel that a wide deck provides.
If selling your home is in prospect, and you are planning to build or remodel your own deck, one first decision has to be made: use real wood or composite materials? A deck constructed of either will generate additional interest and value when it comes to selling your home -- but each offers its own benefits and drawbacks.
Wooden decks are considerably less expensive to install than their composite counterparts. Because you can stain wood to any color and shade, it’s easy to create a look that is compatible with the rest of your landscaping. And let’s face it -- wood offers unmatched natural beauty.
On the downside, wood decks require plenty of maintenance. Sanding, sealing and staining may be worthwhile projects, but are not everybody’s first choice for how to spend Saturday and Sunday.
On the other hand, while composite decking probably retains a smaller percentage of its installation cost, with a composite deck, virtually no maintenance is required – a fact that some prospective buyers will appreciate. The boards, often made of recycled materials, do not fade, splinter or split, as wood can. Despite the early composite offerings that were clearly fake, many now closely mimic the look of natural wood.
When it comes to selling your home in the Evansville area, your remodeling decisions can play a decisive role. If you are considering selling your home, contact me anytime to compare notes: I’m here for my clients from first step to last. You can reach me on my cell phone at 812-499-9234.
Tuesday, June 12 2012
Even some veteran renters are looking at today’s housing market and wondering whether it’s time to start an Evansville home search. With prices and mortgage rates as low as they are while rents continue to move higher, the numbers point to home ownership as an ever more obvious choice.
But that’s just the quick, back-of the envelope budget equation: monthly rent vs. mortgage payment less tax savings. If this June finds you at the start of your own Evansville home search, many financial advisors recommend that you also consider another rule of thumb – you should plan to stay in your new home for at least five years.
Transaction costs are only one consideration that makes this a good idea. Here are some of the others why it’s prudent to think about the 5-year planning horizon as you conduct your home search:
Financial Safety - Homeowners need to have at least some extra liquidity: funds set aside as an emergency resource in the event of unforeseen loss of income. Affording a home and its maintenance costs should never jeopardize the financial health of your household. Liz Weston of MSN.com recently asked several experts for their calculations regarding home repairs. Their answer? Plan to spend at least an additional 1% of a homes’ value on maintenance each year.
Resale Value - The significant overhang in distressed homes will likely continue to exert at least some pressure on home values for the near future. If you need to sell your home two or three years down the road, you may come up short when all the moving, transaction, and other expenses are considered. It may be at least that long before the familiar growth in residential real estate value resumes.
Sanity – Studies have shown that moving is one of the top stresses in life (up there with death, divorce and illness). Personally, I think a well-planned move is a little less dire, but it is true that a happy homeowner is a settled homeowner. When you’re starting your home search, consider the changes coming to your family in the coming years: New baby? Child to college? If you know a move is eminent in the near future, consider finding a home with long-term rental value. Buy a home that can grow with you and you’ll find yourself much more financially secure…and sane!
The current low prices and 30-year fixed mortgage interest rates aren’t likely to last forever, and that old adage remains true: buy low, sell high. If you’re looking for a reason to start your home search in the Evansville area now, call me for a serious look at this June’s market. You can reach me on my cell phone at 812-499-9234.
Monday, June 11 2012
For some Evansville homeowners selling in today’s market, the nominal value of their property will have declined since they bought their home. According to last month’s Zillow Negative Equity Report, the property value of 15.7 million homes is lower than the amount owed on their mortgages. Additionally, in the coming months and years, 1.6 million properties are likely to hit the market as distressed properties. The downward pressure on property values will persist while the market absorbs them.
However, it’s not all bad news. Those figures represent paper losses. For the great majority of homeowners, those property values will remain purely hypothetical. And the market has shown improvement recently, with home prices creeping upward from the previous lows. Nonetheless, successful home sellers know that to gain the best results from their offering, they need to price realistically right from the start. The key is to find the appropriate level when first listing it rather than ‘testing the water’ and planning to adjust the price later. Experience teaches that homes that languish on the market through multiple price reductions are less likely to sell. Buyers tend to assume that there is something wrong with the property rather than considering the sellers’ psychology. It’s just human nature.
If you are thinking about putting your own property on the market, good tools are available to help you trackEvansvillehome values – the standard for creating a realistic, priced-to-sell listing price:
1. The tools on Zillow.com and Trulia.com help you follow local market trends and property values. Not always precise and timely, the volume of information on either site makes each a valuable source.
2. Newspaper foreclosure sale information. It’s important to remember that the property values in the foreclosure realm don’t mean your property must compete directly -- but knowing those values and the direction they are moving will let you share information most home shoppers know.
3. Open houses in the neighborhood give you a look at your competition: comparable homes and their listing prices. You can keep an eye out for how neighborhood homes are selling…or whether they have to lower their asking price.
I also offer competitive marketing packages designed to sell homes quickly. If you are considering selling and are curious about property values inEvansville, do give me the opportunity to share the latest trends with you. You can reach me on my cell phone at 812-499-9234.
Thursday, June 07 2012
There is no such thing as a ‘universal trend’ when it comes to residential real estate: a quick look through the current local listings will confirm that. At the highest end, the most luxurious features will always attract some homebuyers, just as in the great majority of listings, practical value prevails. But some shifts in priorities do seem to be underway, perhaps because of today’s altered selling environment. Some features that used to help sell listings in Evansville are no longer being emphasized – a sure sign that buyers aren’t asking for them.
For anyone preparing a property for sale, the listings hold clues that can prevent wasting time and effort. Some formerly popular elements fading in today’s market:
1. Square footage and grandeur
There was a time (and recently) when people looked for the largest home they could financially support, with high-fashion accessories and embellishments that marked its expense and grandeur. The reality is people can no longer afford those luxuries, or, even if they can, are electing to shy away from some of the more showy features. Market analysts assert the home listings currently moving on and off the market with ease promote small, comfortable homes. Especially those with a high level of energy efficiency.
2. Formal Living Room
When “big” was in, so were grand formal rooms. More of today’s buyers, however, tend to seek multi-purpose rooms with an open layout and seamless flow. They don’t want a sunroom, a formal entrance, a formal dining or formal living room: they want a kitchen that is functional, built to last, easy to clean, and one that opens onto the rest of the living space. I have to confess that, even when formal living rooms were in vogue, I usually could see the question in the back of most prospects’ minds, who ever uses that ‘formal’ living room, anyway?.
3. Whirlpool Tub
Once considered the gold standard in master bathroom remodels, the jetted tub has gone the way of the other more formal features as buyers shift to a more environmentally-friendly mindset. I can’t tell you how many homes with Jacuzzi tubs I have listed where the owner tells me, “I never use it – I don’t even know if it works!” If you are considering a bathroom remodel, you might better opt for a larger shower -- currently a popular option with the baby-boomer crowd mindful of easy bathing access.
The takeaway? More of today’s homebuyers are passing up the grander features (especially energy-hoggers); instead gravitating to the listings that emphasize practicality and modern functionality. If you are preparing your own home for sale, do give me a call. I’ll be happy to offer my input on the most direct course to today’s homebuyer. You can reach me on my cell phone at 812-499-9234.
Wednesday, June 06 2012
For most of us, as soon as we feel the opening blast from the first truly hot Evansville summer day, we automatically fire up the air conditioner. While that may seem like the only way to keep our property from broiling, later -- when we open up the next electric bill – we’re reminded once more that it isn't necessarily the most efficient.
There can be longer-range benefits to battling the heat using a more energy-conscious strategy. If you later decide to put your property on the market, I find it is now common for prospective buyers to ask to see a year or two of utility bills – and you don’t want those to cool your prospects’ enthusiasm!
Here are a few ways property owners are using to keep their cool while conserving summer energy use:
1. Seal Off Your Windows
Adding sealant to your windows is an inexpensive yet often overlooked way to keep cool air inside. Although we usually think of sealing heat inside to save on winter heating bills, the loss of cool air can be just as much of an energy drain during the other half of the year.
2. Make the Most of Ceiling Fans
Take advantage of the enormous difference ceiling fans can make. While central air conditioning refrigerates and circulates air throughout the whole house, ceiling fans can be effective in individual areas – while drawing a fraction of an A/C’s electricity. The comfort factor added by stirring even warm air is instantly noticeable. When used in conjunction with room or central air conditioning, ceiling fans can provide comfort at temperatures set several degrees higher.
3. Program Your Thermostats
Programmable thermostats give you all-day control and major energy savings during those parts of the day and week when nobody’s at home. Many newer properties already feature programmable thermostats, but you can have one installed for a fraction of the price you inevitably pay for those lapses of attention older systems allow. All thermostats shut down the A/C when your home reaches the desired temperature, but programmables let you make smart changes in what and when (and can also be big heat-savers during winter months).
Taking these few steps can help save hundreds – even thousands – of dollars over the lifetime of your property. Now that the hot weather is on the way, feel free to contact me if you need an Evansville vendor referral or for any other property-related questions I’ll be happy to help answer. You can call me on my cell phone 812-499-9234.
Tuesday, June 05 2012
In the Age of the Internet (that’s what we’re in the middle of, I’m pretty sure) it is widely held that everything you want to buy is merely a mouse click or two away. It’s sort of like“Alice’s Restaurant”: ‘you can get anything that you want’ – only better, because you don’t even have to ‘walk right in.’
If that were true, selling your Evansville house would be as simple as turning everything over to your listing agent, watching its picture go up on the Web, and WHOOSH!, it’s sold! Pack up and move!
Of course that’s seldom the way homes get sold, and for at least one good and logical reason:
Nobody wants to live inside a computer.
When prospective homebuyers get serious, they leave the computer to pay a visit to the real, 3-dimensional town -- and the homes for sale here. They want to see what our neighborhoods looks like in real life, rather than through a photographer’s lens. What it feels like to walk through the front door. What the sounds of the neighborhood are like when you stand in the back yard. How the air smells, how the sunlight plays on the walls of what might become the kids’ bedroom, etc.
And here is the point: once they’re serious enough to get up and away from that computer screen, they might just drive by one of my Open House signs. In fact, if it’s a weekend morning, they might be driving around the neighborhood actively looking for an Open House sign -- because stopping in at an open house is the least complicated way for anyone to compare a property they have already seen (have made an appointment to see later) with a new possibility.
That is why I tell my clients that an old-fashioned Evansville open house is worth the trouble to prepare, and worth my giving up that Saturday or Sunday to host. When asked (by the N.A.R.), close to half the people who have bought a home say they used open houses as information sources for their home search; and a reliable 15% say the house they bought first came to their attention through an open house or sign.
Whenever you are looking to buy or sell ahome, don’t hesitate to make full use of the Internet and all the convenience and efficiency it brings to the process…but also be ready to make use of the old stand-by: the open house. Give me a call any time: together we’ll make full use of both! You can reach me on my cell phone at 812-499-9234.
Friday, June 01 2012
Those of us who focus professionally on our Evansvillereal estate trends can vouch for it: outdoor living sells! And depending on what life phase their family is in, homebuyers’ choices tend to follow similar lines.
The 2012 Residential Landscape Architecture Trends Survey confirms again how important those backyard grills and dining areas are when it comes to what most people have at the top of their minds when they think about buying homes.
When potential homebuyers come to me, some of the features highest on their “must have” list virtually always have something to do with outdoor space. Young families buying homes, for example, are usually pleased to find a grassy area off the kitchen where their toddlers can toddle. High-profile clients often seek out impressive spaces with great foot-traffic flow for indoor/outdoor entertaining. Empty-nesters buying homes often come to me seeking the opposite -- less yard with easy- or no-maintenance landscaping. The point is, no matter what the age or demographic of the buyer, in today’s market, outdoor space sells.
So -- what is hot for those buying homes in 2012? The survey I cited earlier is one conducted every year by the American Society of Landscape Architects. This year they came up with some clear winners. According to the survey, top popularity goes to BBQ grill space (97.4%), followed by low-maintenance landscapes (96.6 percent), fireplaces/fire pits (95.8 percent), and dining areas (95.7 percent).
Not so obvious winners were decorative water elements such as ornamental pools, splash pools, waterfalls, grottos, water runnels or bubblers, and pergolas. Not as popular as they once were? turf lawns at 50.9%, gazebos at 49.1%, and hammocks at 27.4%. Go figure!
If you are considering an outdoor remodel before selling your ownhome, be sure to design with Evansville buyers in mind. Contact me any time for a stop-in -- I’ll be happy to go over the features most clients look for when buying homes today. You can reach me on my cell phone at 812-499-9234.
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.
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
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
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.
Created by Governor Mitch Daniels in 2005 to replace the former Department of Commerce, the Indiana Economic Development Corporation is governed by a 12-member board chaired by Governor Daniels. Dan Hasler serves as the chief executive officer of the IEDC.
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.
Source: Indiana Economic Development Corporation http://www.insideindianabusiness.com/newsitem.asp?ID=53491
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!
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
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
Monday, April 30 2012
This is usually the time of year when Evansville residents have gotten through tax season, heaved a sign of relief, and gone back to working on more important matters – like earning enough to make reducing taxes a goal worth pursuing.
This year, the latter part of April may be a little different. Because this is an election year, tax matters are already being widely debated, and changes that could affect everyone are more possible than usual. I am bringing these topics up for discussion with the firm caveat that your own planning (includingEvansville home buying decisions) should always be made after consultation with the financial experts you trust. Currently, federal and Indiana rules carry tax benefits that can greatly reduce a homeowner’s tax liability. They are very unlikely to be eliminated, but you may want to keep your ear tuned whenever you hear these topics under discussion, because seemingly minor changes can have major impacts.
Mortgage Interest and Points
Many renters found that they were able to use the standard deduction tables to simplify their federal filings. Homeowners, on the other hand, were usually better off using itemized deductions because of the welcome mortgage interest deduction. Qualifying points paid to obtain a mortgage can also generally be deducted in the year they are paid.
Everyone with a standard Individual Retirement Account has heard about the penalties for withdrawing funds before retirement age. But currently there is an exception in some home buying situations. Generally, some IRA funds can be applied to home buying (or building) a first home without those tax penalties. The catch is that you can only withdraw up to $10,000 over your entire lifetime (not annually). Those with Roth IRAs may find additional tax advantages, too.
Real Estate Taxes
Qualifying local and Indiana property taxes can amount to sizeable deductions. If, in the home buying process, you reimbursed a seller for prepaid property taxes, that amount can qualify, too.
As in all financial planning, you should consult your accountant or other tax professional before making any important decisions. And whenever buying or selling a Evansville property makes sense for your family, I’m standing by to answer all of your real estate questions.
Tuesday, April 24 2012
This is a pretty common topic when purchasing Evansville Real Estate. A lot of prospective homeowners dream of buying Evansville Real Estate and making one of the biggest investments in their lives without having to break the bank. The investment of buying Evansville Real Estate requires careful study and a lot of financial discipline. These are just a few tips to help you stay within your budget.
First and foremost, it must be noted that budgeting demands the utmost of financial discipline. Studying your annual income and determining what you can afford comes easy enough, but it is a step that a lot of prospective homebuyers tend to forget. Keep track of your current expenses and confirm that you are ready for the responsibilities of buying Evansville Real Estate. Spending only a maximum of 25% of your current monthly income to make payments for the purchase will be a wise decision.
Before approaching a lender, know and verify your credit score first. This is a fair measurement of how well you can manage your finances, although at this point you should already be sure that you are ready to purchase Evansville Real Estate. Online services from FICO can help get this score for you quickly and accurately. Getting this little bit of research done can definitely aid you when you decide to approach a lender, so that the loan application process can go along much smoother.
Now that you have determined the amount of your income you are willing to spend on Evansville Real Estate, it's time to go house-hunting. Contact your realtor and ask to see the listings. Narrow down your search in terms of square feet and locations that you can afford. Visit only the properties that are within the budget you have set for the purchase, so the temptation to go beyond it won't even cross your mind.
Another great practice to help you stay in budget would be to stop spending and start saving. Cutting down on unnecessary luxuries in your current expenses can help boost your bank account so you can make a bigger down payment on your purchase. This will also condition you to become even more financially stable, so that future real estate investments can be more than just dreams for you.
Staying within your budget when buying Evansville Real Estate can be difficult for some, but following these little tips can help you make one of the biggest investments of your financial life without a hitch. All it takes is a little discipline, a little know-how and help you get the most bang for your buck. Don't be afraid to ask your realtor about home affordability and your current financial status. The realtor’s experience in the industry has certainly earned him a few stars and can help you make the right choices for your Evansville Real Estate.
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 at any time. You can reach me on my cell phone at 812-499-9234 or email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Wednesday, April 18 2012
Last month’s Market Watch was all about listings. I suggested that based on the way this year’s real estate market has started that we would soon need more listings and that based on virtually any measure, now would be a good time to list your home if you were considering a move. Everything I suggested last month has proven to be true and there are even more reasons to list real estate for sale now.
We have fewer homes on the market than at any time in 6 years. The month’s supply of homes on the market (6.59) is lower than it has been for 68 of the past 70 months. Our average month’s supply for the first 3 months has been lower than any year for the past 4 years. We have seen slight improvements in both our list to sale price ratio (95.10%) and in our days on market number. Unit sales are up 7% from the first 3 months of last year and I am confident that next month will show continued improvement. Even the national media has made some positive comments about real estate.
Although everything I said in the previous two paragraphs is true and I am confident that now is a good time to list a home. I don’t want to overstate or exaggerate the current state of our real estate market. Things have definitely improved but we will not have as strong a year as we did in 2006 or 2007. Prices have improved but have not returned to their previous highs. Although the market has rebounded it would not surprise me to see a little slowdown this fall because of uncertainty about this fall’s election. Interest rates are great but will not stay this low forever, which is another reason for buyers to act and take advantage of current rates.
As always I am happy to answer your real estate questions. You can reach me on my cell phone at 812-499 or email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Tuesday, April 17 2012
As the saying goes: April showers bring May flowers! With more rain in the springtime months of April and May, now's the perfect opportunity to get your rain gutters in tip-top shape. As a homeowner, you're probably wondering what the best way would be to maintain those gutters and I've got the answer for you! We have compiled a handy list of tips that will help you to save money by doing it yourself, so that you can simply enjoy the rain once it comes.
If you need any additional tips, please feel free to call me Rolando at 499-9234 or Kathy at
499-0246. Also if you have friends or family who are in need of real estate service or advice, we hope you'll give them our name. We are always happy to help!
FIVE TIPS FOR SAFELY CLEANING YOUR RAIN GUTTERS
· Maintenance means everything: Ideally, you should clean your gutters twice per year. Maintaining clean gutters will help you to avoid drainage problems that could potentially lead to more costly repairs.
· Climb on up: Borrowing (or investing in) a good, sturdy ladder is the key to ensuring your personal safety and to making the task as hassle-free as possible. Make sure that the ladder is placed on a flat, steady surface, and follow the rule of two: never stand on the top two rungs of a ladder, as it becomes very difficult to maintain your balance.
· Protect yourself: Thick, heavy gloves are a must when performing this kind of task. Gutters may have sharp or jagged metal pieces as well as screws or nails that may pose a danger to your hands and fingers. Want additional protection? Safety glasses are also a good idea!
· Up on the roof: Santa might find rooftops to be a walk in the park, but for the rest of us, they aren't generally ideal perches. However, if you have a flat roof or a roof with a low slope, you may find it easier to accomplish the cleaning by situating yourself up top. Always use extreme caution, wear non-slip shoes and never opt for this choice in bad weather!
Scoop, blast and repair: Once you're ready to start cleaning, follow a simple three-step process to get the most out of the task. Scoop out any debris, blast the drains clean with a high-powered hose, and repair any leaks you may find along the way.
Monday, April 16 2012
Buying homes and renting them are such distinctly separate aspects of Evansville’s real estate scene that we tend to pay attention only to the sector we are most involved with. We pretty much ignore the other. Renters and real estate investors watch trends in residential rentals, while homeowners and soon-to-be homeowners check on prices and activity in the local home market.
All of which means that it’s easy to overlook how trends in one sector have major impacts on the other. And any sort of residential construction activity – new building or remodeling – has a direct and positive impact on our economy as a whole.
So here’s some good news: this year, rental construction is expected to reach its highest level since 2005. Somehow that may not seem like such a big deal, but despite the way it looks, 2005 is SEVEN years ago (time flies, doesn’t it?)! Those have been seven painful years for most of the construction folks we know, so the change comes as welcome news. It’s also possible that a turnaround could mean that other turnarounds in different areas of the economy may be in the wind.
The apartment experts at NMHC just published something that most of us already suspected. They found that nationally, apartment vacancy rates fell to a decade low of 4.9%. We have already written about how asking rents continue to rise (in March, up .5% from the previous month). The same experts noted that some empty-nesters seem to be increasingly likely to opt for the convenience of apartment living -- even those who could easily afford to buy.
It explains why more investors are stepping up to order the building of new rental homes even as many older apartments and rental homes are being renovated. Add to that recent government moves to encourage lenders to become at least temporary landlords, and the result is real activity. Budgets have been tight for families in recent years, which may have caused them to decide to choose rental homes that were older, hence less expensive. If the economy continues to strengthen, these same families may later be able to afford to look at one of the new rental homes now under construction. It’s likely that many tenants would choose to live in a place that is a product of new construction, or in a complex that has been recently renovated.
All that increased building activity is another sign that the housing market as a whole is waking up. In the longer range, since newer rentals generally cost more money, more would-be tenants will ultimately reconsider the prospect of owning a home – in turn increasing demand for first-time or entry level homes.
Wherever your family falls in theEvansville real estate mix, don’t hesitate to call me when you have a question about the market and what is available for you. You can reach me on my cell phone at 812-499-9234 or email at Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Thursday, April 12 2012
Evansville-based Accuride Corp. (NYSE: ACW) is planning to upgrade its Camden, South Carolina plant and hire more employees. The $8.7 million aluminum wheel line expansion could add around 25 additional jobs.
Accuride Corporation (NYSE: ACW), a leading supplier of components to the commercial vehicle industry, today announced plans to expand aluminum wheel production capacity at its Kershaw County plant. The company will invest at least $8.73 million to add two machine lines as part of the expansion, which will generate at least 25 new jobs. The Kershaw County Council is expected today to vote in favor of a Fee in Lieu of Taxes (FILOT) agreement for the project; and the company is utilizing South Carolina's readySC worker training program for new hires.
“We are pleased to move forward with plans to expand our Kershaw County operations. Our investment helps to ensure we have the right production capacity in place where and when our customers need it, at a higher standard of quality and dependability,” said Accuride Corporation President and CEO Rick Dauch.
“South Carolina has the business environment and the skilled workforce our facility will require to successfully grow both now and in the future; and we appreciate the support we’ve received from both state and local officials to ensure that this happens,” stated Accuride Camden Director of Operations Don Krampe.
In June 2011, Accuride acquired substantially all of the assets of Forgitron Technologies LLC, including the 80,000-square-foot manufacturing facility located at 30 Hengst Blvd. in Camden. Shortly thereafter, Accuride converted the plant to its standards, and announced plans to expand capacity and produce a range of forged aluminum commercial vehicle wheels at the facility.
“Today’s announcement is another win for one of our state’s rural areas. We celebrate Accuride’s decision to invest $8.73 million and create 25 new jobs in Camden. South Carolina continues to provide the business-friendly-climate where companies of all sizes can grow and prosper,” said Gov. Nikki Haley.
In 2011, South Carolina recruited more than $4.7 billion in investment and more than 13,000 new jobs in the manufacturing sector.
“South Carolina’s manufacturing renaissance continues to build up steam with announcements like this one from Accuride. This announcement also shows that our automotive-related sector continues to create new jobs,” said Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt.
“It is exciting to see that Accuride, one of our industry neighbors, is growing and prospering,” said Kershaw County Council Chairman Gene Wise. “This is the solid result of the supportive pro-business climate we enjoy in Kershaw County.”
“We are excited about today's announcement by Accuride Corporation to expand their operations in Kershaw County. More and more corporations are discovering the benefits of investing in South Carolina. We welcome these new jobs and greatly appreciate being a part of the corporate strategy and development plans of Accuride,” said Central SC Alliance Chairman Jim Apple.
The company has already begun hiring for the new positions. Anyone interested in job opportunities with the company should contact SCWorks at (803) 432-5153.
About Accuride Corporation
With headquarters in Evansville, Ind., USA, Accuride Corporation is a leading supplier of components to the commercial vehicle industry. The company’s products include commercial vehicle wheels, wheel-end components and assemblies, truck body and chassis parts, and other commercial vehicle components. The company’s products are marketed under its brand names, which include Accuride®, Gunite®, ImperialTM and BrillionTM. Accuride’s common stock trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol ACW. For more information, visit the company’s website at www.AccurideCorp.com.
Source: Accuride Corp. http://www.insideindianabusiness.com/newsitem.asp?ID=53138
Wednesday, April 11 2012
As a whole, we Americans are an interesting group. We are smart, educated, involved in our community…and, not unlike the rest of America, our attention span about 5 or 10 seconds. It follows that when you put your home on the market and your agent places it among theEvansville realty listings, your home has about that long to grab potential buyers’ attention.
Time and time again, studies show that realty listings with superior curb appeal get markedly more attention than those with run-of-the-mill photos. First impressions count. It’s how advertising agencies can charge hundreds of thousands of dollars to get just the right angle with just the right lighting on their perfectly-designed product packages. In ad-speak, that photo with the perfect angle and lighting is called the ‘hero shot’.
Your home can have its own ‘hero shot’. Its landscaping, color, the condition of its driveway, walkway, garage and backyard, along with the overall neatness combine to make a true ‘hero shot’ that will stand out from the other Evansville realty listings. That same look (over and above the one in the photographer’s viewfinder) can also be counted upon to draw the attention of potential buyers who happen to be just driving by.
It’s not surprising, either, that curb appeal also affects the value and salability of realty listings. A study by the University of Washington found that "mature trees in a well-landscaped yard can increase the value of a house by 7% - 19%.” On the other hand, overgrown trees that obscure the view of the home can delay its sale.
The curb appeal of homes almost defines a neighborhood’s appeal, and vice versa. Any home that is well kept improves the image of the rest of the houses on any street. In the same way, a home with a neglected look can bring down the general appeal of the entire neighborhood. You already know what it’s like to drive by a street lined with houses that are all beautifully maintained. Now that’s the kind of place where you would definitely want to live!
If you are giving serious consideration to selling your home, call me anytime for a “curb appeal” consultation. Usually, just a few easy steps are all it takes to improve that vital first impression!
Tuesday, April 10 2012
The first three months of 2012 have been record-breakers for Evansville's Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Garden. Park officials believe mild weather and spring break schedules contributed to the increased attendance.
Zoo Officials believe that many factors, including the unseasonable warm weather, Orchid Escape, and spring breaks have helped Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Garden achieve the highest January, February, and March attendance in Zoo history. During the course of January, 2,699 guests visited the Zoo, February attendance was a record breaking 6,342 visitors, and March boasted 27,612 visitors. In comparison, these numbers topped the previous January record by 26%, February record by 9% and March record by 59%.
According to Amos Morris, Zoo Director, “The first quarter of the year is always a challenge for zoos. We are always dreaming up ways to boost attendance and generate excitement. We thank you for your support and we hope the weather and continued Zoo events keep you coming back throughout the year.”
Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Garden is open 365 days a year from 9 AM – 5 PM, entry gate closes at 4 PM. Admission for adults is $8.50 and children ages 3-12 are $7.50. Children 2 and under are free. In recognition of their support, Vanderburgh County residents receive $1 discount. Please visit www.meskerparkzoo.com for information regarding yearly memberships or other Zoo services.
Source: Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Garden http://www.insideindianabusiness.com/newsitem.asp?ID=53078
Monday, April 09 2012
With spring in the air, notions of fresh starts and new horizons have a way of pushing into just about everybody’s consciousness. It’s only natural, whether because of the weather, school schedules, or everything else around us that seems fresh and new. And something else is in the air, too: if past history is any guide, now is also simply the most popular time of year to sell or buy Evansville homes.
For those with a home to sell, this is traditionally the most active time to be in the real estate market. Homes entered in Evansville property listings during springtime can be expected to attract buyers more quickly, and th