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
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
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.
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
Friday, March 21 2014
Veteran housing economist David Berson, formerly of Fannie Mae and PMI Group, shares his thoughts on what the public needs to know about the housing market this year.
First, he predicts that 2014 will be the strongest year for housing activity since prior to the recession. Most economists expect an improved job market in the months ahead, with employment growth accelerating and the jobless rate continuing to fall. This will be the key factor improving housing demand in 2014, even if mortgage rates climb and affordability declines.
Additionally, demographics should start to favor housing activity. To this end, the demographic factor most affecting the residential property sector is household formation. "Household formations are affected by the job market, as people 'double-up' when worried about their job and income-earning prospects," Berson writes. "The Great Recession and the modest job recovery in the years following induced many people who might have lived independently to move in together."
Berson and colleagues estimate the economy is short by more than 3 million households. If the economy expands at a faster clip in 2014, bringing a more rapid rate of job creation, that should translate into more households, which in turn should raise housing demand.
Finally, Berson says mortgage availability should not worsen between now and the end of December and may actually expand.
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.
Wednesday, November 20 2013
If you’re house hunting over the holidays, you’re likely a serious buyer with an immediate need. Perhaps you have to relocate for a new job opportunity, or there’s been a change in your personal life? Regardless, while you may assume it’s not an ideal time to be looking — namely because there isn’t much to look at — there are some advantages to buying this time of year.
Let’s start with the obvious one: less competition. This lowers the chances of multiple offers and bidding wars (something we saw a lot of last spring/summer), and should translate into a bigger discount for you. Know your market! This is where sites like Zillow come in handy. Start your research here for comps in your area and to see what homes are selling for.
Serious home sellers
Why would sellers pick such an inconvenient time — while everyone is busy entertaining family and friends and enjoying the spirit of the holidays — to list their properties? Probably because they need to sell and may feel compelled to do so before the end of the year for tax purposes. What this means for you: less hassle when it comes to negotiating; a greater willingness, on the part of the seller, to agree to concessions; less chance of the seller waffling; and greater respect for your offer, even if it’s a little lower than the seller was perhaps expecting.
Faster mortgage approval
Lenders aren’t as busy this time of year, and less volume could mean faster approval. Some lenders might even be willing to reduce fees during the off-peak season in hopes of gaining your business. Regardless, don’t just go with the first lender who comes along. It pays to shop around. Get multiple quotes and check out lender reviews on Zillow Mortgage Marketplace.
Sure, home prices have been rising, but they’re typically lower in December than during any other month (so you don’t have to be as aggressive with your initial first offer, compared with buying during peak to high season). Zillow’s third quarter Real Estate Market Reports showed home value appreciation slowing. As we enter the slower home shopping season many overheated markets are moving away from bubble brink and ultimately becoming more affordable than they have been historically. If you want to take advantage of low interest rates, the time to act is now.
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
Monday, October 21 2013
After buyers move in to their new home, they should be prepared for some home fixes to present themselves each season, says Rich Escallier, a handyman in Chicago. "If you can go six months without finding something that raises your blood pressure, you're lucky,” Escallier says.
CBS MoneyWatch recently released a checklist of routine maintenance and small home repairs that home buyers should expect to do their first year to help avoid more costly problems from surfacing later on:
During move-in week: Turn on all major appliances and run them for a complete cycle. Even if the buyer already completed a home inspection, they should test again, experts say. After all, “if you have a minor leak under the dishwasher, that water leaks into the subfloor and you can't see it," says Daniel Cipriani with Kade Homes & Renovations in the Atlanta area. "But you'll start to notice the hardwood floor buckling."
45 days after move-in: Change the HVAC system filter and vacuum out the air intake vents. “Capturing dirt and dust with the right filter can go a long way toward preserving the new home appeal for a few years,” CBC MoneyWatch notes.
Six months after move-in: Inspect the exterior of your home in both the summer and fall to ensure rainwater is draining away from the home properly. Also, clean out clogged gutters and downspouts. "Landscaping should be negatively graded away from the house," Cipriani says. "People don't think it's a big problem, but otherwise water pools against the foundation and doesn't have anywhere to go."
Every year: Inspect the home’s roof for any missing shingles and gaps around the chimneys. Also, check the ceilings inside the home for any water spots and indications of potential leaks.
Experts also note that every two years, home owners would be wise to hire a professional HVAC contractor to inspect their furnace, air conditioner, and hot water heater. A ruptured reservoir could potentially spill 40 gallons of water in a mere few hours so experts recommend home owners install a water alarm with sensors in the collection pan underneath the hot water heater. The sensors cost about $25 and can help save home owners from costly water damage.
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
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
Wednesday, June 26 2013
A good first impression is important in real estate. Online appeal gets buyers to view the home in person, and curb appeal gets them in the door.
With 90 percent of buyers looking for homes online, listing photos are crucial and should not be blurred or distorted, taken at the wrong time of day, or overly focused on furniture or other items.
When it comes to curb appeal, here are some suggestions for sellers:
Add plants at the front corners of the yard, along driveways or walkways, and in front of the house
- Fertilize grass and shrubs
- Replace worn gutters
- Patch driveway cracks
- Spruce up or replace the front door
- Install exterior lighting
- Ensure that entry hardware matches
To jazz up the entryway, sellers should remove clutter and personal items, remove dated carpeting, and ensure that the home smells nice. As for other improvements, experts say sellers should pay close attention to return on investment, spending most of their money in the kitchen and bathrooms but avoiding major overhauls given that buyers are likely to make changes when they move in.
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
Thursday, April 18 2013
David R. Leopold, owner of Pillar to Post Home Inspection in Fairfield County, Conn., says home sellers and their real estate professionals have an important role in preparing for a home inspection to help ensure it goes smoothly. Leopold offers up some of the following tips in a recent article in RISMedia, including:
1. Don’t hide what isn’t working: If an appliance isn’t working, leave a note that indicates what isn’t working and how you’re getting it fixed. Don’t try to conceal defects because it can make the inspector start to view you as dishonest and wonder what else you’re hiding.
2. Make things accessible: Ensure the location of the attic and crawlspace are identified and easy to access. Don’t make a home inspector move your belongings in order to gain access.
3. Check the lightbulbs: If a lightbulb isn’t working, the inspector will need to determine if the fixture is inoperable. Save them time by making sure all the lightbulbs in the home operate, including those in the crawlspace, attic, and furnace rooms.
4. Note septic systems: If you have a septic system in the yard, be sure to leave a sketch that includes the location of it. It’ll avoid home inspectors, buyers, and real estate professionals having to conduct prolonged searches for it, Leopold says.
5. Keep appliances clear: Don’t leave dirty laundry in the washing machine or dryer because the inspector will need to test the appliances, and he doesn’t want to have to pull out dirty clothes in front of everybody, Leopold says. “Also, make sure your oven and stovetop are clear and clean, so we can easily test them without setting off the smoke alarm,” he adds.
Source: “Ask the Experts: What Should Home Sellers Do to Prepare for a Home Inspection?” RISMedia (April 16, 2013)
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
Wednesday, April 10 2013
Lenders are more optimistic about the direction of the housing recovery, with 71 percent recently surveyed saying home prices are “rising at a sustainable pace,” according to a quarterly survey of U.S. bank professionals conducted by FICO.
Nearly 60 percent of the bankers surveyed say they expect the supply of credit for residential mortgages to meet demand over the next six months.
What’s more, 39 percent say they expect mortgage delinquencies to fall in the next six months, while 45 percent of those surveyed say they expect delinquencies to remain flat. According to FICO, that represents the most optimistic data on delinquencies in the 12 quarters since the survey began.
"The latest survey results, combined with data that indicates the real estate market is improving in many regions, paint a positive picture for a sector of the economy that has been slow to join the recovery," says Andrew Jennings, chief analytics officer at FICO and head of FICO Labs. "Mortgage lenders have been understandably guarded over the past five years. The improvement in their sentiment should be welcome news, and I wouldn't be surprised to see lenders cautiously expanding their mortgage and home-equity lending businesses."
Monday, April 08 2013
Flooring is a major component of a house — and its real estate value.
Whether it’s carpet, tile, marble, or hardwood, the flooring of the home serves as an important financial and practical asset. Quality flooring can increase the home’s value, and it’s vital to take proper care of it.
Some ways to accomplish this:
Tile: Many people have tile in bathrooms, laundry rooms, and kitchens. However, the material is not limited to these areas and it’s important to maintain them. Particularly in high traffic places such as kitchens — regular maintenance is essential.
One way to maintain tile quality is to mix baking soda and water as a make-at-home cleaning option, or simply find a cleaner with a very neutral pH level.
With tile, it’s crucial to avoid harsh and abrasive chemicals. They can alter the polish and stain the tile.
Carpet: If you have carpet in your house, make sure to keep up on the cleaning. This floor material is very dependent on the environment of the house. Do you have pets? Do you live in a climate with snow? Do you have children? Is your kitchen table on carpet?
There are so many factors that this category is going to naturally be subjective, but the principle is the same: Stay up to date, regardless of how often it’s required.
Carpet in nice condition not only makes a house more comfortable, but helps hold the value of the house together.
Marble: Due to its permeability, marble doesn’t react well to acid, the care of marble floor is extremely important in holding not only value, but appearance. Stained marble is very noticeable and unattractive in a house.
It’s best to mop with strictly warm water and be gentle. With marble floorings, it’s even more imperative to regularly clean, as dirt can — and will — scratch the surface.
Inside each door, make sure to have a mat. These small practices can go a long way in maintaining the surface and increasing longevity.
Hardwood floor: Similar to marble, it’s important to maintain hardwood floor. If this type of material isn’t regularly and correctly cleaned, seals break and cleaning then becomes detrimental as water seeps in the cracks.
This is a very common floor material option for home owners across the country, and it’s easy to tell when an area of wood floor is cared for. A neutral product is best when mopping and make sure to sweep the floor before cleaning to avoid dragging sediments around the finish.
The flooring of a house covers the entire walkable surface, and it’s important to keep it clean. Flooring is an expensive and significant part of a property, and it should carefully be looked after. Don’t underestimate how well-maintained flooring can help home owners maintain their home’s value during resale.
Friday, April 05 2013
Changes in the availability and pricing of technology have brought the "smart home" from the richest tiers of homeownership to a quickly growing group of users.
According to the Atlanta Constitution-Journal, smartphone and tablet apps let homeowners "turn lights on and off, let in a delivery person or see whether their kids are doing their homework — from anywhere in the world."
The Digital Life system developed by AT&T Mobility, now available in eight markets, lets you do everything from operate the garage doors to make sure your children are doing their homework, company executives say. And Comcast's XFinity package offers features from home security to Internet features like Facebook and Internet radio service Pandora on your TV.
Insurance companies are even getting into the act, giving users of these systems discounts on their insurance, with the amount based on the type of monitoring service and features, industry officials say.
"The moment that the savings are really showing (on insurance and utility bills), that's when this really becomes a no-brainer," says telecommunications analyst Roger Entner.
Source: "New technology monitors home from phone" (Chicago Tribune, 3/31/2013)
Thursday, April 04 2013
February pending home sales flattened with limited buyer choices, but remained at the second highest level in nearly three years, according to the National Association of Realtors®
The Pending Home Sales Index,* a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, slipped 0.4 percent to 104.8 in February from a downwardly revised 105.2 in January, but is 8.4 percent higher than February 2012 when it was 96.6. Contract activity has been above year-ago levels for the past 22 months; the data reflect contracts but not closings.
Before January, the last time the index showed a higher reading was in April 2010 when it was 110.9, shortly before the deadline for the home buyer tax credit.
Lawrence Yun , NAR chief economist, said limited inventory is holding back the market in many areas. "Only new home construction can genuinely help relieve the inventory shortage, and housing starts need to rise at least 50 percent from current levels," he said. "Most local home builders are small businesses and simply don't have access to capital on Wall Street. Clearer regulatory rules, applied to construction loans for smaller community banks and credit unions, could bring many small-sized builders back into the market."
The PHSI in the Northeast declined 2.5 percent to 82.8 in February but is 6.8 percent above February 2012. In the Midwest the index rose 0.4 percent to 103.6 in February and is 13.2 percent higher than a year ago. Pending home sales in the South slipped 0.3 percent to an index of 118.8 in February but are 12.1 percent above February 2012. In the West the index increased 0.1 percent in February to 101.4 but is 0.8 percent below a year ago.
Yun projects existing-home sales to rise about 7 percent in 2013 to approximately 5 million sales, which is near the current level of activity. "The volume of home sales appears to be leveling off with the constrained inventory conditions, and the leveling of the index means little change is likely in the pace of sales over the next couple months," he said.
The national median existing-home price is forecast to rise nearly 7 percent this year, while mortgage interest rates should remain historically low, but trend up slowly and reach 4 percent in the fourth quarter.
The National Association of Realtors®, "The Voice for Real Estate," is America's largest trade association, representing 1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries. For additional commentary and consumer information, visit www.houselogic.com and http://retradio.com.
Read more here: http://www.realtor.org/news-releases/2013/03/pending-home-sales-slip-on-constrained-inventory
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
Friday, March 22 2013
Deep clean your house and you’ll brighten rooms and help maintain your home’s value.
Deep cleaning your house is that top-to-bottom, take-no-dust-bunny-prisoners, mother-in-law-quality cleaning that truly maintains the value of your home. Here are frequently overlooked areas that a little spit and polish wouldn’t hurt.
De-bug the light fixtures
See that bug burial ground within your overhead fixtures? Turn off the lights and carefully remove fixture covers, dump out flies and wash with hot soapy water. While you’re up there, dust bulbs. Dry everything thoroughly before replacing the cover.
Vacuum heat vents and registers
Dirt and dust build up in heat vents and along register blades. Vents also are great receptacles for coins and missing buttons. Unscrew vent covers from walls or pluck them from floors, remove foreign objects, and vacuum inside the vent. Clean grates with a damp cloth and screw back tightly.
To deep clean brass door hinges, handles, and cabinet knobs, thoroughly wipe with a damp microfiber cloth, then polish with Wright’s or Weiman brass cleaner ($4). Dish soap shines up glass or stainless steel knobs. Use a Q-tip to detail the ornamental filigree on knobs and handles.
Replace grungy switch plates
Any amateur can wipe a few fingerprints off cover plates that hide light switches, electric outlets, phone jacks, and cable outlets. But only deep cleaners happily remove plates to vacuum and swipe the gunk behind. (OK, we’re a little OCD when it comes to dirt!) Make sure cover plates are straight when you replace them. And pitch plates that are beyond the help of even deep cleaning. New ones cost less than $2 each.
Neaten weather stripping
Peeling, drooping weather stripping on doors and windows makes rooms look old. If the strip still has some life, nail or glue it back. If it’s hopeless, cut out and replace sections, or just pull the whole thing off and start new. A 10-ft. roll of foam weather stripping costs $8; 16-ft. vinyl costs about $15.
Replace stove drip pans
Some drip pans are beyond the scrub brush. Replacing them costs about $3 each and instantly freshens your stove.
Read more: http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/maintenance-repair/home-cleaning-secrets/#ixzz2O0mqzjb6
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
Monday, March 18 2013
Prices are rising and inventories are falling in markets throughout the United States, which has led financial reporting and forecasting firm Kiplinger to declare the housing recovery “firmly” in motion. Moreover, the company says housing will help carry the overall economy at a time when U.S. exports are decreasing, says Karen Mracek, a Kiplinger editor and real estate analyst.
“The biggest reason we think we’re on firm ground is that we’re seeing every indicator on the way up,” Mracek says. “As with the overall economy, it’s kind of hard to call the bottom or the pivot point. But we’re seeing a range of indicators that suggest pretty solid growth going forward.”
In addition to home values and supply, positive indicators include the number of multiple-bid situations, new-home construction, and credit availability, she says. Solid improvements in these fundamentals will lead to formation of more new households and will also help more borrowers come out from underwater — and trade up to a new home. They’ll also create new jobs in real estate and construction, Mracek explains.
The recent gains made in housing have some concerned that real estate could be entering another bubble market, but Mracek disagrees with that assessment. “There might be [a bubble] in some concentrated markets,” she says. “But I don’t think it will be a bubble that’s as widespread and disastrous as the one that happened in the last decade.”
Improvements have been — and will continue to be — uneven. The turnaround will probably be slower in metro areas in Florida and the Midwest.
Nationally, Mracek says the current housing recovery is real and sustainable, but she also acknowledges that the rise in home values and decline in inventories won’t maintain their current pace.
“We see prices leveling out a bit more [in the future] from the late jumps in 2012,” she says. “There are still foreclosures for the banks to work through. As prices improve, you’re going to see banks get rid of REOs.”
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
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
Wednesday, March 06 2013
Rumors about the 3.8% Medicare tax continue to circulate. Here's the definitive word on what's true and what's not on how the tax impacts real estate.
Ever since health care reform was enacted into law more than two years ago, rumors have been circulating on the Internet and in e-mails that the law contains a 3.8 percent tax on real estate. NAR quickly released material to show that the tax doesn’t target real estate and will in fact affect very few home sales, because it’s a tax that will only affect high-income households that realize a substantial gain on an asset sale, including on a home sale, once other factors are taken into account. Maybe 2-3 percent of home sellers will be affected.
Nevertheless, the rumors persist and the latest version that’s circulating falsely say NAR is advocating for the tax’s repeal. But while NAR doesn’t support the tax (it was added into the health care law at the last minute and never considered in hearings), it’s not advocating for its repeal at this time.
The characterization of the 3.8 percent tax as a tax on real estate is an example of an Internet rumor, says Heather Elias, NAR’s director of social business media. Elias and Linda Goold, NAR’s director of tax policy, sat down for a discussion of how the tax works and how Internet rumors work and you can find their remarks in the 6-minute video below.
Goold says the tax will affect few home sellers because so many different pieces must fall into place a certain way for the tax to apply. First, any home sale gain must be more than the $250,000-$500,000 capital gains exclusion that’s in effect today. That’s gain, not sales amount, so you really have to reap a substantial amount for the tax to even come into play. Very few people are walking away with a gain of more than half a million dollars today, even in the high-end home market, so right off the bat only a few home sellers would be a candidate for the tax.
For the few households that do see a gain of more than the $250,000-$500,000 exclusion (that’s $250,000 for single filers and $500,000 for joint filers), only the amount above the exclusion would be factored into the tax calculation, and that would still only apply to high-income households, which the law defines as single people earning $200,000 a year and joint filers earning $250,000 a year.
So, if you are a households with annual income of $250,000 or more and you earn a gain of more than $500,000 on your house (again, that’s after the $500,000 exclusion), any amount of gain above the exclusion would be plugged into a formula to see if it’s taxable. If it turns out that it’s taxable, then the amount could be subject to the 3.8 percent tax. If the household had a gain of more than $500,000 but only earned $249,000 a year in income, the tax wouldn’t apply.
(Note that these are just hypothetical examples. To know if a case would really be subject to the tax, a professional tax preparer or tax attorney has to look at all the particulars of the tax filer’s case. Only a tax professional is in a position to say the tax is applicable, but the examples cited here could help you get a sense of how the tax works.)
The other thing about the tax worth noting is that, although it takes effect in 2013, any impact on taxes wouldn’t happen until 2014. That’s because the tax filer would do the calculation in 2014 for the 2013 tax year. Because it’s not a tax on a real estate sale but rather on a capital gain, it’s not calculated at the time of an asset sale, whether that asset is a house or something else. It’s calculated at the time the filer figures his or her tax.
This is all explained clearly in the video, so if you have questions about how the tax works, or if you’re still hearing rumors about the tax and you’re not certain of the accuracy of what you’re hearing, the video should prove helpful.
Tuesday, March 05 2013
Sinkholes are a lot more common than many home owners realize—particularly in Florida, according to CoreLogic, a real estate analytics firm.
A Florida man is presumed dead after a large sinkhole engulfed his entire bedroom last week, capturing headlines across the country. The incident has prompted many home owners wonder if a sinkhole is a threat to their homes too.
In a CoreLogic analysis, Florida appears to be most at risk for sinkholes, with 15,000 verified sinkholes. Pasco County—along the West Coast of Florida—has about 6,000 of those sinkholes, according to CoreLogic.
"It's important to note that not all sinkholes are prone to a sudden collapse like this, and they all obviously represent various levels of risk to people in the area," CoreLogic writes. "It's also interesting to know, however, that general homeowners insurance often does not cover sinkhole losses."
Source: “CoreLogic: Sinkholes More Common, Costly than Home Owners Realize,” HousingWire
Monday, March 04 2013
About 30 home buyers — all pre-qualified — have lined up in tents and camped out in order to be first in line for an opportunity to buy a new home in Huntington Beach, Calif. The homes are still under construction by Brightwater Capri development and are priced between $800,000 and $900,000.
The first home in the new development still doesn’t go on sale until March 2. Five homes are set to be released this weekend. Only pre-approved buyers on a first-come, first-served basis will be able to preview the homes.
The homes feature four bedrooms, ocean views, and range from 1,992 to 2,685 square feet. Buyers have 11 floorplans to choose from.
"If you want the opportunity, you gotta make the sacrifice," says Terry Torline, a hopeful buyer who is camping out. "Based on what's out there in the marketplace, it's a good deal right now."
Source: “Huntington Beach Homebuyers Camp Out for Chance at New House,” AOL Real Estate
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.
Thursday, February 21 2013
There is a long list of household chores the beginning of each season. If you break it down with one chore a day and bundle a short, easy list on a day off from work, then it can become manageable. After all, you can only eat an elephant one bite at a time!
So first, think of your personality. If you put the worst chore first, would you be happy to get that one over with, or would you simply never start working on the list at all? Order the list to fit your comfort zone.
- Walk around the yard and take a notebook with you. Write down any lawn or outdoor buildings which require maintenance. Be sure to make specific notes, so you will not be scratching your head later trying to figure out your notes. Remember painting as well.
- Get rid of all the old stuff you have not used in a year. Garage sales are great motivators.
- Switch the clothes in the closet from heavy winter to spring.
- Check the roof. Are there any loose or deteriorating shingles? Are the gutters in need of repair?
- The outdoor furniture is calling; pull it out of storage and enjoy watching the flowers begin to grow!
- It may seem silly to think of the upcoming frost, but checking the furnace or heaters now makes sense, instead of having a failure at the worst possible moment.
- Check the screens on all the doors and the assemblies for the sliding glass doors.
- If you use contractors for replacing gutters and other outside household services, now is actually the time to take advantage of that. The fall is when they are typically the most busy.
- The kids will be spending a lot of time on the swing set, is it well maintained?
- The leaves are falling, sigh, time to rake. Make the activity more festive and have a contest to see which family member can gather the most. Remember the gutters!
- When is the last time you checked the insulation in the attic? Do any shingles need replacement after the summer sun?
- Now is the time to aerate the soil, in the front and back yards.
- It’s a perfect time to get a lot of the detailed “spring” cleaning done inside the house. Holidays are approaching and folks will be dropping by for short visits and lengthy meals. Move furniture, vacuum underneath, check the foyer closet for clutter, to make room for heavy coats and umbrellas. Give the whole house a white glove test!
- Change clothes in the closet from summer to winter.
- Check supplies to keep the walks free of ice; shovel, dry ice, salt, etc.
- Check decorations for the holidays.
Wednesday, February 20 2013
Inventory levels in 2012 reached an 11-year low and fell yet again last month, further limiting the number of homes for sale nationwide. Inventories of for-sale homes were down by 16.5 percent in January year-over-year, and fell 5.6 percent from December, according to the latest data compiled from Realtor.com.
Inventories typically fall in December and January in preparation of the spring buying season.
“But the shortage of homes for sale in a growing number of U.S. markets is maddening for would-be buyers who frequently complain that there aren’t enough good choices,” The Wall Street Journal reports. “Bidding wars are becoming more common.”
At a time when buyer demand is strong, inventories remain constrained as banks slow their pace of foreclosures and home owners delay selling until they regain more equity in their homes.
Metro areas posting some of the largest monthly declines in inventory levels are San Francisco (where inventory levels are down by 21 percent in January compared to December and down 47 percent year-over-year) as well as Seattle (where levels dropped 9 percent from December). The two have also seen some of the largest price increases in the nation. Median asking prices have risen by 16.4 percent and 23.7 percent in those places, respectively.
Source: “Housing Inventory, Already Low, Dropped Further in January,” The Wall Street Journal
Tuesday, February 19 2013
After a meteor struck western Siberia and more meteors threatened the entire globe on Friday, CNNMoney asked the question: Who pays for damage to a home if hit by a space object?
Rest easy, “your insurance covers falling objects," says Robert Hartwig, president of the Insurance Information Institute. In the rare events when meteors have crashed through home owners’ roofs over the years, insurers have paid the damage for those insured, Hartwig says.
“Blue ice” — the frozen sewage that sometimes falls from airplanes — is more common and is also covered if it falls from the sky onto your home, Hartwig told CNNMoney.
A remnant of a meteor struck in the Urals region of western Siberia Friday injuring more than 700 people and damaging nearly 300 buildings. It was referred to as a “once-in-a-century” event.
"The earth is pelted with 40 tons of space debris a year," says Laurie Leshin, a former NASA scientist. "Most of that is in teeny dust particles" and rarely does it injure people or damage property.
Source: “Who Pays for Damage From a Meteor?” CNNMoney (Feb. 15, 2013)
Friday, February 15 2013
To the extent that rentals reflect wider real estate movement, there is good news and bad news for Evansville tenants. It all depends on how they view it (and how they chart their personal housing strategy). The bad news was not unexpected: for the third straight year, rents were up across the nation in 2012, according to apartment housing industry expert MPF Research.
Although rents rose at a slightly slower pace than in 2011, national forecasts are calling for rent increases in 2013 that match last year’s. The research firm said that apartment rents climbed 3.0% in 2012, down from 4.8% in 2011, but again were above the long-term norm of 2.5% registered over the past 20 years.
For tenants currently in rentals -- both apartments and single-family homes -- rents may be heading up, but the good news is that this price pressure has not yet resulted in a less friendly home buying environment. “Loss of renters to purchase in the now-improving for-sale housing market is having only a very small impact,” according to MPF’s report. In other words, rentals are not being lost in large number even though rents are rising, so floods of first-time homebuyers are not yet adding significant upward pressure on single-family home pricing.
Even with housing prices on the rebound, first-time homebuyers who decide to leave the world of rentals to buy a home now will still benefit from the record low interest rates and distressed property bargains that result in historically affordable home prices.
Another group that would hail rising rental rates are investors. "Most places are starved for new product right now, so properties that will complete over the coming year appear likely to do incredibly well, generally without hurting the results for the existing stock," according to Greg Willett, MPF’s vice president.
Whether you are looking to buy or sell a rental home in Evansville or the surrounding areas, conditions warrant a thorough look at the opportunities available now and those opening this spring. Call me to get started on a plan of action! 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.
Monday, February 11 2013
Updating the outside of a home pays off, according to this year’s Cost vs. Value Report. Real estate professionals ranked exterior improvement projects as winning the buyers’ eye and providing sellers with the most return on investment.
If your clients are wondering what home improvement projects will give them the best return on the sale of their home, tell them to think “curb appeal.”
When buyers are shopping for a home, the exterior can make (or break) the first impression. According to the 2013 Cost vs. Value Report, exterior replacement projects are among the most valuable home improvements that sellers can currently invest in, starting with the front door.
A steel entry door topped this year’s survey with an estimated 85.6 percent of the costs recouped at resale. The steel door replacement is also the least expensive of the 35 midrange and upscale remodeling projects included in the survey, costing $1,137 on average.
This is the 15th year that Remodeling magazine — in cooperation with REALTOR® Magazine — has released the Cost vs. Value Report. This year’s survey included more than 3,900 appraisers, sales agents, and brokers across the country who provided their opinions and estimates.
Exterior projects dominated the list with six of the top 10 most cost-effective midrange projects and eight of the top 10 upscale projects.
Read more here: http://realtormag.realtor.org/home-and-design/cost-vs-value/article/2013/01/2012-13-cost-vs-value-make-first-impression-count
Thursday, February 07 2013
Ultra-low mortgage rates mixed with housing affordability has made investing in a rental property pay off for investors. Many investors have eyed foreclosures, snagging them at rock-bottom prices, and turning them into rentals. Some home owners have also used the downturn in housing to purchase second homes and then rent out their first property, the Associated Press reports.
Demand for rental housing remains strong. "In this market, at this point, it's a sweet spot," says Chris Princis, a senior executive at financial advisory firm Brook-Hollow Financial and owner of two rental properties in Chicago. "You're getting the market where it's just starting to rebound, but still at the bottom, with what's looking to be a great recovery."
In earning a profit on a rental investment, Princis uses a formula: He charges 15 percent above monthly mortgage and maintenance costs. But it’s also important to know what comparable apartments are going for, and to be flexible in case you’re unable to find a tenant for months, experts note.
The best investments for rentals typically prove to be in areas with a strong history of rental demand, such as neighborhoods near universities or homes in residential areas that are near schools to attract families.
Source: “Got Cash, Good Credit? Experts Say Owning Rental Housing Can Pay Off Even as Market Recovers,” The Associated Press (Feb. 6, 2013)
Wednesday, February 06 2013
After years of sluggish growth, home remodeling is rebounding and more home owners are tackling long-delayed house projects to spruce up their homes.
The growth in remodeling is coming at a time when more home owners are once again seeing equity in their homes as the overall housing market picks up. “Home improvements can further boost home values and help sustain both the housing recovery and economic growth,” Realty Times reports.
Spending on home improvement projects rose 9 percent in 2012 — the first increase since 2007, according to a study by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University.
"With the U.S. economy and housing market now recovering, investment in the nation's housing inventory is also picking up,” according to the JCH report. “Lenders and new owners are rehabilitating millions of foreclosed properties. Older home owners are retrofitting their homes to accommodate their future needs... And with the huge echo-boom population moving into the home buying market over the coming decade, the remodeling industry can look to an even more promising future.”
The National Association of the Remodeling Industry expects growth to continue in home remodeling, particularly as more clients feel more stable in their finances and employment situations.
Source: “Home Improvement Growth Latches onto Housing Recovery,” RealtyTimes (Feb. 5, 2013)
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.
Monday, February 04 2013
The Weather Channel has nothing to do with it. What’s happening up in the ski resorts, likewise. The ‘snowball effect’ being discussed in print and on TV won’t soften anytime soon (even if the groundhog was right about winter being over)..
This is an economic snowball -- one that’s gathering momentum following what CNN’s Money website describes as “the best year for U.S. real estate market in five years.” Businesses that stand to benefit from growth in the housing market are watching closely.
The Wall Street Journal’s snowball report took form in last Monday’s Marketplace section, where the top headline read “Housing Recovery Opens Spigot…Makers of Products From Carpets to Air Conditioners Feel Effects of Rebound.”
It was even more heartening as a counter to last week’s government indications that the greater economy seemed to slow. The housing sector’s performance was so strong it acted as a tonic to its many associated industries: among them, many local retailers.
The snowball effect was noted widely. The company that makes Carrier air conditioners said that orders rose 20%; Honeywell International reported the “first sign of life we have had in a while.”
Locally, fingers were crossed that Evansville businesses will be swept up in the snowball. National suppliers expected that to happen. “Housing is what we see leading the economy out of the doldrums,” according to the CFO of United Technologies Corp. The WSJ reported evidence that Americans are spending more to build and refurbish their properties.
With sales of existing housing registering the largest annual jump since 2004, it should come as no surprise if Credit Suisse’s Daniel Oppenheim proves correct in predicting a 7%-8% rise in home improvement spending. He expects it to keep going for at least the next two years. That’s a pretty solid forecast, and in line with what most observers are saying.
All in all, the boost from the housing recovery is one snowball no one seems to think is likely to melt soon -- regardless of what Punxsutawney Phil has to say about it.
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!
Monday, January 21 2013
Builders broke ground on new homes in December at the fastest pace in more than four years offering a “solid ending to 2012 and a promising start to 2013,” according to the National Association of Home Builders.
Housing starts soared 12.1 percent in December, reaching a 954,000 annual rate and the fastest pace since June 2008, the Commerce Department reported Thursday. Most of the jump was attributed to a 20.3 percent increase in multifamily construction last month, helping the sector return to a nearly normal production pace by historical standards. Housing starts for single-family homes rose 8.1 percent in December.
"With inventories of new homes at razor thin levels, builders are moving prudently to break ground on new construction ahead of the spring buying season to meet increasing demand," says Barry Rutenberg, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders.
Permits for future home building — an indicator of future building — also rose slightly in December to its quickest pace since July 2008. Permits rose by the greatest amount in the Northeast by 19 percent and 6.6 percent in the West. The Midwest saw a 5.7 percent decline in housing permits, while the South saw a 3.4 percent decline in December.
Source: National Association of Home Builders and “Housing Starts Climb to Highest Rate Since June 2008,” Reuters (Jan. 17, 2013)
Friday, January 18 2013
Your home buyers have gotten approved for a mortgage and now they’re just waiting to make it to the closing table. Make sure they don’t throw their loan approval into jeopardy by making one of these common mistakes:
- Making a big purchase: Tell your buyers to avoid making major purchases, like buying a new car or furniture, until after they close on the home. Big purchases could change the buyer’s debt-to-income ratio that the lender used to approve the buyer’s home loan and could throw the approval into jeopardy.
- Opening new credit: Inform your buyers that now isn’t the time to open up any new credit cards.
- Missing any payments: Home buyers need to be extra vigilant about paying all their bills on time, even if they’re disputing one.
- Cashing out: Avoid any transfers of large sums of money between your bank accounts or making any undocumented deposits — both of which could send up “red flags” to your buyer's lender.
Source: “How to Keep Your Mortgage Approval Approved,” Realty Times (Jan. 14, 2013)
Thursday, January 17 2013
The real estate climate forecast for the coming year is partly sunny -- and warming up! Yet, with no double-digit appreciation in sight, some who plan on selling a home inEvansville face the very practical question: is the winter of ’13 the right time to sell?
For those who stand to make a gain from selling, the decision boils down to convenience. Whether sale prices rise or fall, the cost of their next home will probably move in the same direction.
But what about those who suspect that the overhang from the financial crisis will probably result in some degree of net loss? How do they decide whether it makes more sense to sell and take the loss, or to rent -- and wait? Emotions aside, the financial impacts can be examined. If you are considering selling a home in the area and don’t stand to make a profit, asking yourself some questions can help reach a decision:
· Can I afford to take a loss? If you might need cash from your current property to purchase another, waiting is likely to be the safest course.
· If I have to take a loss, will there be a tax advantage to doing so in 2013? If you expect to sell a business or come into any other form of extra income during this tax year, check with your CPA to see if this year’s the right time.
· If I choose to rent my home, am I prepared to be a landlord? Are you up-to-date on applicable federal and local fair housing ordinances and tenants’ rights issues? If not, it’s practical to factor in the cost of a property management agency (usually 7 – 15%)
· Am I prepared to wait it out? If you decide to rent a local home and wait for the market to catch up to your profit goals, are you prepared to wait X years before selling? On-again off-again selling decisions can result in high tenant turnover -- which eats into your bottom line.
Selling a home vs. renting it out is a decision only you can make -- why starting with accurate information is so important. I will be happy to meet for a confidential consultation on the value of your local home in today’s market. It is a very good place to start.
Wednesday, January 16 2013
Homebuilders are changing their floorplans to accommodate more people living under one roof. As adult children and aging parents move in, home owners are finding the need for more defined, separate housing corridors within their homes.
For example, homebuilder Lennar is expanding the offerings of what it calls the “Next Gen” house. Introduced in western states like California, Arizona, and Texas, Lennar is now taking its “Next Gen” floorplan to North Carolina. The single-family home features a second door, separate from the main entrance, that leads to a 500-square-foot suite for a private residence. There’s also a door inside the main house to access the suite.
“We market it as two homes, one payment,” says Trish Hanchette, Lennar’s Raleigh division president.
Homebuilders also are finding flexible first-floor space is in high demand. The spaces can be used as a mother-in-law suite or changed into a nursery, extra bedroom, or home office.
Some in the housing industry are also calling some flex rooms “bounce back” rooms — so named for adult children who have moved back in with their parents because they're struggling to make it on their own.
“The number of 22- to 30-year-olds that are still living at home is at a record high right now,” says Hampton Pitts, an executive vice president with Ashton Woods Home. “So you have that college graduate that’s back at home looking for a job and maybe got their first job but not ready to be in an ownership or rent situation.”
Source: “Builders Target Families with Multiple Generations Under One Roof,” RISMedia (Jan. 8, 2013)
Tuesday, January 15 2013
Normally in January’s Market Watch I try to compare results from the past two years. Although I may mention a few comparisons, the overriding message in this Market Watch is pretty simple – if you are considering selling your house list it now! There are several reasons I feel so strongly about this.
First, nationally the inventory of existing homes for sale is at its lowest number since 2001. Locally our inventory is at its lowest level since January of 2006. Many sellers thinking about selling wait until April or May to list their homes, thinking that is when the selling season starts. Based on my experience, the spring selling season begins on Super Bowl Sunday! Last year in the four month February to May time period we sold exactly 33% of the homes that were sold over the course of the entire year. Waiting to list your home doesn’t make it more likely to sell, it just costs time. As more homes come on the market the competition increases so take advantage of buyers who are looking now.
Second, prices are up. The National Association of Realtors reports that nationally median home prices are up 10.1% from a year ago and through November prices increased for the ninth consecutive month, the longest streak since 2006. Locally our median price increased 4.3% from last year and I am confident that the median price will continue to rise this year.
Shadow inventory (homes 90 days delinquent, homes in foreclosure, and homes already owned by lenders) continues to decline. Although it is impossible to know exactly how many homes meet these criteria, virtually all experts agree that the number has declined significantly. Although there will continue to be some of these homes listed the number will be significantly less than in recent years, creating less competition for normal home sellers and less competition means higher prices.
Fourth, rental rates and occupancy continue to increase making homeownership more affordable in many cases, than renting. This coupled with increased consumer confidence in the housing industry, an increased desire nationally to own a home and increasing household formation all combine to generate more buyers.
If you or anyone you know is considering selling their home why wouldn’t they list it with the company that has been helping buyers and sellers for over 100 years and the company with the absolute best website for shoppers looking to buy in our area? Please visit FCTuckerEmge.com or better yet call me today. Let’s get started now.
Friday, January 11 2013
Want your kids to pitch in and help save energy? Green parenting bloggers weigh in on getting kids to flip the switch and stop wasting energy.
Kids have more important things to think about than turning off the lights. But discovering the lights blazing in an empty room for the umpteenth time is enough to make any parent scream, especially when the power bill arrives.
The good news is, you can train your kids about the importance of saving energy right from the start. Here’s great advice from some of our favorite bloggers who know a thing or three about kids.
1. Let them take charge.
Jenn Savedge, who blogs at The Green Parent, practices a little reverse psychology — she urges her kids to remind her to turn off the lights.
“They get such a kick out of ‘telling Mommy what to do’ that it’s first and foremost on their minds,” Savedge said. “If I walk out of a room without doing it, they’re happy to point it out and then dash back and do it for me.
“Works like a charm and keeps the whole thing from becoming just one more thing that Mommy nags them about.”
The key to getting children to do anything is to make it “theirs,” says Monica Fraser, a mother of two who blogs at Healthy Green Moms.
“I get them to police me because they get inspired to turn off the lights ‘better than me,’” she said.
2. Find their motivation.
For Sommer Poquette’s 8-year-old son, it’s money.
“If I have to ask more than three times for my son to do anything in particular, he loses $1 out of his piggy bank,” says Poquette, who blogs at Green and Clean Mom.
“I do this so he learns that leaving the lights on costs me money, but also because he’s very motivated to earn money and spend money, so I hit him where it hurts the most: the wallet! Amazingly, he listens very well and never lets me get to the fourth ask!”
Fraser’s kids are motivated by the idea of helping out friends and neighbors.
“Because my children are quite young, I have said that we must remember to turn lights off and shut water off when brushing so that our neighbors have enough,” she says. “They know their neighbors, and certainly wouldn’t want to use all the water.”
3. Incorporate non-verbal reminders.
Gentle reminders, such as stickers on the light switches, help kids remember to turn off the lights when they leave a room.
“They’re each in charge of shutting off their bedroom lights each morning and during the day,” Poquette says. “We have stickers above the light switches to remind them. As a family, we all offer each other friendly reminders.”
Sticky notes don’t just apply to light switches, either. Tiffany Washko, who blogs at NatureMoms, places Post-It Notes labeled “Turn Me Off” and “Unplug Me” all around the house as reminders.
“Putting them by the light switch, on the side of the TV, on the wall next to the power bar that controls game consoles, etcetera, is a great visual reminder,” Washko says.
“We also require each child to do a walk-through each morning before they leave for school and turn off anything that may have been left on. Once they consistently remember, we stop requiring it ... that is, until they have a few lapses, then we rinse and repeat.”
4. Explain to them why it’s important.
The full implications of saving energy may not immediately be clear to kids, but they’ll be more likely to remember to turn off the lights if they understand why it’s important.
“To teach them about the importance of turning off the lights and saving energy, we’ve read them several children’s books,” says Poquette. “My son understands the value of a dollar, so I’ve shown him our energy bill and explained to him what this means and how energy is produced.
“I think being up front with your kids, and explaining things to them in simple ways they can understand, is the best policy.”
How do you get your kids to turn off the lights when they leave a room?
Thursday, January 10 2013
Here are a few surprising and simple ways to cut your energy bill this season.
Put lamps in the corners: Did you know you can switch to a lower wattage bulb in a lamp or lower its dimmer switch and not lose a noticeable amount of light? It’s all about placement. When a lamp is placed in a corner, the light reflects off the adjoining walls, which makes the room lighter and brighter.
Switch to a laptop: If you’re reading this article on a laptop, you’re using 1/3 less energy than if you’re reading this on a desktop.
Choose an LCD TV: If you’re among those considering a flat-screen upgrade from your conventional, CRT TV, choose an LCD screen for the biggest energy save.
Give your water heater a blanket: Just like you pile on extra layers in the winter, your hot water heater can use some extra insulation too. A fiberglass insulation blanket is a simple addition that can cut heat loss and save 4% to 9% on the average water-heating bill.
Turn off the burner before you’re done cooking: When you turn off an electric burner, it doesn’t cool off immediately. Use that to your advantage by turning it off early and using the residual heat to finish up your dish.
Add motion sensors: You might be diligent about shutting off unnecessary lights, but your kids? Not so much. Adding motion sensors to playrooms and bedrooms cost only $15 to $50 per light, and ensures you don’t pay for energy that you’re not using.
Spin laundry faster: The faster your washing machine can spin excess water out of your laundry, the less you’ll need to use your dryer. Many newer washers spin clothes so effectively, they cut drying time and energy consumption in half—which results in an equal drop in your dryer’s energy bill.
Use an ice tray: Stop using your automatic icemaker. It increases your fridge’s energy consumption by 14% to 20%. Ice trays, on the other hand, don’t increase your energy costs one iota.
Use the dishwasher: If you think doing your dishes by hand is greener than powering up the dishwasher, you’re wrong. Dishwashers use about 1/3 as much hot water and relieve that much strain from your energy-taxing water heater. Added bonus: you don’t have to wash any dishes.
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
Monday, December 31 2012
New single-family home sales soared to its fastest pace in 2 1/2 years, jumping 4.4 percent over last month, as median prices also rose, the Commerce Department reported Thursday.
The sales pace in November for new-home sales was the highest since April 2010, the same time when the federal home-buyer tax credit had expired, the Commerce Department reported.
The median home price of new homes jumped 14.9 percent year-over-year, reaching $246,200.
"New-home sales are gradually picking up momentum as the economy improves," says Barry Rutenberg, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders. "Prospective home buyers who have been sitting on the fence for years are moving back into the market due to continuing low mortgage interest rates, attractive pricing and the improving economy.”
NAHB is projecting new-home sales to post a nearly 20 percent increase for 2012 over the previous year. NAHB’s Chief Economist David Crowe says he also expects a similar gain next year, but the “fiscal cliff” could set the housing market back and affect new-home sales and other aspects of the housing market.
Still, the pace of new-home sales is about a quarter from the high reached in July 2005.
For the first time since 2005, new-home construction is expected to add to economic growth this year.
Source: National Association of Home Builders and “New Home Sales Hit Highest Rate Since April 2010,” Reuters (Dec. 27, 2012)
Friday, December 28 2012
The housing market is poised for a “gradual but steady” recovery in 2013, with housing starts, permits, prices, home sales, and builder confidence all on the rise, the National Association of Home Builders reports. But how close to “normal” is the housing market?
Remodeling has returned to normal levels, says David Crowe, the NAHB’s chief economist, using the 2000-2002 period as a benchmark for normal levels. Mutlifamily production is 69 percent of normal.
"It's the single-family market that has the farthest to go, standing at only 40 percent of what is considered a typical market," Crowe says.
The housing market is expected to make big strides to getting closer to more normal levels, due mostly to a rise in home prices and household formation that is adding to demand, the NAHB reports.
Single-family housing starts are forecasted to reach 534,000 units this year, up 23 percent this year from 2011. For 2013, single-family housing starts is expected to jump 21 percent in 2013 and another 29 percent gain in 2014 to 837,000 units.
Multifamily production is forecast to jump 31 percent this year to 233,000, and gain another 16 percent in 2013 to 270,000.
New single-family home sales are forecast to post a 20 percent jump this year to 367,000 and to rise another 22 percent in 2013, and reach 607,000 by 2014.
Source: National Association of Home Builders
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 17 2012
By taking preventive measures before cold weather arrives, you can prevent freezing pipes and the costly damage that goes with them.
Where the trouble lies
"Some pipes are more prone to freezing than others because of their location in the home," explains Paul Abrams, spokesman for Roto-Rooter.
Pipes most at risk for freezing include:
- Exposed pipes in unheated areas of the home.
- Pipes located in exterior walls.
- Any plumbing on the exterior of the home.
Preventative measures for outside
A frozen garden hose can cause more damage than a busted hose; it can actually burst an interior pipe. When the water in the hose freezes, it expands, increasing pressure throughout the whole plumbing system. As part of your regular seasonal maintenance, garden hoses should be disconnected, drained, and stored before the first hard freeze.
If you don't have frost-proof spigots, close the interior shut-off valve leading to that faucet, open and drain the spigot, and install a faucet insulator. They cost only a couple bucks and are worth every penny. Don’t forget, outdoor kitchens need winterizing, too, to prevent damage.
Exposed interior plumbing
Exposed pipes in the basement are rarely in danger of freezing because they are in a heated portion of the home. But plumbing pipes in an unheated area, such as an attic, crawl space, and garage, are at risk of freezing.
Often, inexpensive foam pipe insulation is enough for moderately cold climates. For severe climes, opt for wrapping problem pipes with thermostatically controlled heat tape (from $50 to $200, depending on length), which will turn on at certain minimum temps.
If pipes traveling in exterior walls have frozen in the past (tell-tale signs include water damage, mold, and moisture build-up), it’s probably because of inadequate or improperly installed insulation. It might well be worth the couple hundred dollars it costs to open up the wall and beef up the insulation.
"When nothing else works, say for a northern wall in a really cold climate, the last resort is to reroute a pipe," notes Abrams. Depending on how far the pipe needs to be moved — and how much damage is caused in the process — this preventative measure costs anywhere from $700 on up. Of course, putting the room back together is extra.
Heading south for the winter?
For folks leaving their houses for an extended period of time in winter, additional preventative measures must be taken to adequately protect the home from frozen pipes.
- Make sure the furnace is set no lower than 55 degrees.
- Shut off the main water supply and drain the system by opening all faucets and flushing the toilets.
In extreme situations (vacation home in a bitterly cold climate), Abrams recommends having a plumber come to inspect the system, drain the hot water heater, and perhaps replace the water in traps and drains with nontoxic antifreeze.
Friday, December 14 2012
Your home is probably your biggest investment. To manage it, create a financial plan that takes into account repairs, upgrades, mortgages, insurance, and taxes.
Use our home financial plan budget worksheet, and start by writing a list of expenses, such as:
- Home insurance, including liability
- Repairs and maintenance, such as new furnace, roof, painting
- Voluntary upgrades, such as a swimming pool, a premium range, a new powder room
What will you learn from this home financial plan weekend exercise?
- How much you have to spend
- How much you need to allot in the short- and long-term for necessary maintenance and voluntary improvements
With this newfound grip on your home’s expenses, you can create a home financial plan that’ll help you there for years with maximum enjoyment and minimum anxiety.
The mortgage: Pay it—and then some
Yup, you already shell out a lot for your mortgage, but can you pay more? Even a little extra each month can add up to an earlier payoff. Let’s say you have $200,000 in outstanding principal and a 20-year fixed-rate mortgage at 5%. Your monthly payment is $1,319.91. But if you can manage to pay another $100 a month, you’ll save $14,887 in interest.
Run the numbers yourself for your home financial plan.
Advantages of an early payoff, says Alan D. Kahn, a financial planner in Syosset, N.Y.:
- Less debt means more money to spend later.
- It feels darn good to own your house outright as soon as possible.
- Minimal tax loss. Toward the tail end of the life of a loan most of your payment goes to the principal, not the interest, so you’re getting only a small tax break anyway.
Of course, if you’re still saving for retirement, put the 100 bucks elsewhere:
- An account for the inevitable home repairs
- An account for discretionary improvements, which can raise your home’s value
Insurance: Protect your property
Your vegetable garden is pointless without a fence to keep out rabbits; likewise, your home financial plan will come to nothing without an insurance “fence”:
Homeowner’s insurance. Basic coverage for your home and everything in it. The average cost is $636 per year but this varies widely by state.
Liability coverage. Protects you from a lawsuit if someone gets hurt on your property, for example. Your best bet: An umbrella policy. For about $300 a year you can by a typical $1 million policy.
Various disaster insurance policies. Optional policies cover flood, earthquake, and hurricane damage. As part of your home financial plan, you have to research to see what disaster coverage, if any, you need in your area, and what your standard policy already covers. For $540 a year you can buy flood insurance, for example.
Don’t under- or overbuy insurance
For your basic policy, get homeowners insurance with full replacement coverage in case your house burns to the ground.
That sounds simple, but heads up on calculation. Remember that you own a house as well as the land on which it sits. So even though you bought your home for $300,000, it may cost only $100,000 to rebuild it. Your policy limits should reflect this. This difference will vary widely by region.
Another heads up: Don’t make the common and potentially disastrous mistake of thinking that because your home has fallen in value you need less insurance. If you bought a $1.2 million townhouse in Florida during the boom, it’s true it now may only sell for $600,000. But the replacement cost of the townhouse hasn’t changed much, so you can’t improve your home financial plan by cutting insurance costs that way.
Other ways to cut your insurance budget:
- If you make structural improvements, such as adding storm shutters, your insurer may give you a break.
- If you belong to certain groups, such as AARP or veterans’ organizations, your premiums may be lower.
Repairs and renovations: By choice or necessity
You own a home, so you’ll be spending money on everything from a new faucet to—surprise!—a new roof. Freddie Mac and other authorities say as part of your home financial plan, you should be prepared to spend 1% to 3% of the market value of the home annually on maintenance. To be extra-prudent, open a savings account and make regular payments until your account reaches 1% to 3% of your home’s current value.
To help you budget:
Start with the inspection report you received when you bought the house. Did the inspector indicate that you would need a new roof in five years? A new furnace in 10?
Keep a log of your major appliances’ age so you can estimate when they’ll need replacing. Some estimated life spans:
- Heating systems: 15-20 years
- Water heaters: 8- 13 years
Then get estimates on what replacements will cost and start saving.
Consider ongoing non-emergency maintenance, too. Do you live in New England? Price a snow blower and get bids from plow services.
Resist the siren call of the home equity loan to take care of everything. That just defeats your efforts to pay off the mortgage early.
Separate out what you want from what you need. A $50,000 kitchen remodel is nice, but you’ll recoup only 76% of the project cost your home’s resale, according to Remodeling magazine.
If you can afford to redo, go for it. Just don’t confuse your necessary repairs (new oil furnace—about $4,000) with your discretionary upgrades (Viking range—$6,000 and up).
Taxes: (Almost) no way around them
Even if your lender handles your property taxes from an escrow account, you need to budget for them in your home financial plan. They creep up almost every year, it seems. Take responsibility for tracking the changes in your area: Look over past tax bills to get a sense of how quickly they’ve risen in the past.
Or if your lender handles escrow and you haven’t saved your bills, ask for an accounting. The median annual property tax payment is $2,198, but that hides the enormous range in medians from state to state:
You can generally deduct property taxes on your federal return. A tax pro can tell you how much of a tax break you’ll get, to help you fine tune your home financial plan.
You may be able to reduce your tax burden by getting a reassessment. Do your homework first: Are comparable houses taxed less than yours? Ask the local assessor what formula is used to set tax rates. You can challenge the assessed value and get yourself a rollback.
If you’re in a special group, you might get some help from state or local programs. Check around to see what’s available in your area. New York State, for example, has its Star Program for giving senior citizens some relief from school-related property taxes.
Tuesday, December 11 2012
Regular home maintenance is key to preserving the value of your house and property.
“It’s the little things that tend to trip up people,” says Frank Lesh, former president of the American Society of Home Inspectors and owner of Home Sweet Home Inspection Co. in Chicago. “Some cracked caulk around the windows, or maybe a furnace filter that hasn’t been changed in awhile. It may not seem like much, but behind that caulk, water could get into your sheathing, causing mold and rot. Before you know it, you’re looking at a $5,000 repair that could have been prevented by a $4 tube of caulk and a half hour of your time.”
Maintenance affects property value
Outright damage to your house is just one of the consequences of neglected maintenance. Without regular upkeep, overall property values are affected.
“If a house is in worn condition and shows a lack of preventative maintenance, the property could easily lose 10% of its appraised value,” says Mack Strickland, a professional appraiser and real estate agent in Chester, Va. “That could translate into a $15,000 or $20,000 adjustment.”
In addition, a house with chipped, fading paint, sagging gutters, and worn carpeting faces an uphill battle when it comes time to sell. Not only is it at a disadvantage in comparison with other similar homes that might be for sale in the neighborhood, but a shaggy appearance is bound to turn off prospective buyers and depress the selling price.
“It’s simple marketing principles,” says Strickland. “First impressions mean a lot to price support.”
Prolonging economic age
To a professional appraiser, diligent maintenance doesn’t translate into higher property valuations the way that improvements, upgrades, and appreciation all increase a home’s worth. But good maintenance does affect an appraiser’s estimate of a property’s economic age—the number of years that a house is expected to survive.
Economic age is a key factor in helping appraisers determine depreciation—the rate at which a house is losing value. A well-maintained house with a long, healthy economic age depreciates at a much slower rate than a poorly maintained house, helping to preserve value.
Estimating the value of maintenance
Although professional appraisers don’t assign a positive value to home maintenance, there are indications that maintenance is not just about preventing little problems from becoming larger. A study by researchers at the University of Connecticut and Syracuse University suggests that maintenance actually increases the value of a house by about 1% each year, meaning that getting off the couch and heading outside with a caulking gun is more than simply a chore—it actually makes money.
“It’s like going to the gym,” says Dr. John P. Harding, Professor of Finance & Real Estate at UConn’s School of Business and an author of the study. “You have to put in the effort to see the results. In that respect, people and houses are somewhat similar—the older (they are), the more work is needed.”
Harding notes that the 1% gain in valuation usually is offset by the ongoing cost of maintenance. “Simply put,” he says, “maintenance costs money, so it’s probably best to say that the net effect of regular maintenance is to slow the rate of depreciation.”
How much does maintenance cost?
How much money is required for annual maintenance varies. Some years, routine tasks, such as cleaning gutters and changing furnace filters, are all that’s needed, and your total expenditures may be a few hundred dollars. Other years may include major replacements, such as a new roof, at a cost of $10,000 or more.
Over time, annual maintenance costs average more than $3,300, according to data from the U.S. Census. Various lending institutions, such as Directors Credit Union and LendingTree.com, agree, placing maintenance costs at 1% to 3% of initial house price. That means owners of a $200,000 house should plan to budget $2,000 to $6,000 per year for ongoing upkeep and replacements.
Proactive maintenance strategies
Knowing these average costs can help homeowners be prepared, says Melanie McLane, a professional appraiser and real estate agent in Williamsport, Pa. “It’s called reserve for replacements,” says McLane. “Commercial real estate investors use it to make sure they have enough cash on hand for replacing systems and materials.”
McLane suggests a similar strategy for homeowners, setting aside a cash reserve that’s used strictly for home repair and maintenance. That way, routine upkeep is a snap and any significant replacements won’t blindside the family budget. McLane’s other strategies include:
Play offense, not defense. Proactive maintenance is key to preventing small problems from becoming big issues. Take the initiative with regular inspections. Create and faithfully follow a maintenance schedule. If you’re unsure of what needs to be done, a $200 to $300 visit from a professional inspector can be invaluable in pointing out quick fixes and potential problems.
Plan a room-per-year redo. “Pick a different room every year and go through it, fixing and improving as you go,” says McLane. “That helps keep maintenance fun and interesting.”
Keep track. “Having a notebook of all your maintenance and upgrades, along with receipts, is a powerful tool when it comes to sell your home,” advises McLane. “It gets rid of any doubts for the buyer, and it says you are a meticulous, caring homeowner.” A maintenance record also proves repairs and replacements for systems, such as wiring and plumbing, which might not be readily apparent.
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!
Thursday, November 29 2012
According to a recent survey, nine out of ten REALTORS® believe that clients who make improvements before selling a house are more likely to secure a successful sale. Why, you may wonder, would anyone take the trouble to run a survey to discover anything that obvious? Possibly because of a follow-up question Realty Times came up with: 65.9% of real estate agents – virtually two out of three – agree that a common mistake among homeowners is not making "the right" home improvements for the local market.
Uh-oh! Remodeling in the wrong direction can cost you twice! If it’s such a common mistake, it’s safe to say it might be best to consult an agent before rolling up your sleeves (or opening your checkbook). Active local agents are constantly noting what features are popular with prospective buyers and which improvements are making a difference in today’s market. Knowing what sells -- and why -- is fundamental information when home improvement decisions are about to be made.
Also important is the changing nature of an effective marketing roll out. Yesterday’s sign on the front lawn and paragraph in the newspaper are no longer sufficient. Pocket listings, preview open houses, and social media promotion are all elements that now can be brought into a multi-tiered marketing plan geared to create awareness (“buzz”) around a property’s debut.
Yet, the new market retains at least one unchanging fundamental. To achieve the highest return when selling a house in our area, it has to be priced right. Real estate commentator Barbara Corcoran puts it succinctly: “You could spend all the money in the world fixing up and marketing your house,” she says, “but the wrong price on the right house guarantees no sale.”
If you are thinking of selling a house in Evansville this winter, I’m here to help you meet that goal. Contact me to get started on a marketing plan that sets it in motion! You can reach me on my cell phone at 812-499-9234.
Wednesday, November 28 2012
As I mentioned last month I will recap Lawrence Yun’s economic/real estate forecast for 2013. Lawrence Yun PhD is the chief economist for the National Association of Realtors. He graduated from Purdue University and received his doctorate in economics from The University of Maryland. He serves on Harvard University’s Industrial Economic Council and has been recognized as one of the top ten economic forecasters in the country.
Dr. Yun is more optimistic about real estate than the economy as a whole. He anticipates sales of existing homes to reach 5 million units next year with the median price up 5% and median prices up almost 15% over a three year period. He also anticipates new construction to increase next year by 25%. Although a 25% increase is a huge increase it is important to note that new construction has been very low for three years and new construction inventory is at a 50 year low. Interest rates should stay low for at least two more years. GDP will rise about 2% next year.
Both Dr. Yun and Mark Vitner, Managing Director and Sr. economist with Wells Fargo spoke at the same economic presentation. Both economists assume that we will not have a recession next year. Both also point out that to avoid a recession we must reduce our deficit and to reduce our deficit we must implement significant entitlement reform.
Dr. Yun, The National Association of Homebuilders and Wells Fargo all point out that homes are more affordable today than they have been in decades. Seventy four percent of all homes sold in the 3rd quarter were affordable to families making the median household income of $65,000.
If you haven’t signed up for My F.C. Tucker Emge on our website please do or call me for instructions. New enhancements to our map search at FCTuckeremge.com have made shopping for a home easier than ever. You can reach me on my cell phone at 812-499-9234.
Tuesday, November 27 2012
The Indiana Association of Realtors says home sales, sale price and home listings in October all increased from the same month last year. Chief Executive Officer Karl Berron says low borrowing costs and strong home values have buyers and sellers "clearly feeling more confident."
Indianapolis, Ind. -- The Indiana Real Estate Markets Report today released by the state’s REALTORS® shows that statewide, when comparing October 2012 to October 2011, the following occurred:
• The number of closed home sales increased 24.5 percent to 6,092,
• The median sale price of those homes increased 5.9 percent to $117,500,
• The average sale price increased 3.7 percent to $139,732,
• The percent of original list price received increased 0.9 percent to 90.6 percent,
• The number of pending home sales increased 25.7 percent to 5,560, and
• The number of new listings increased seven percent to 8,772.
The good news made last month is part of a trend that proves local residential real estate markets across the state continue to strengthen from the worst of the recession. October 2012 marks the following consecutive year-over-year gains in home prices and market activity:
• The number of closed home sales has increased year-over-year for 16 consecutive months,
• The median sale price of homes has increased for 11 consecutive months,
• The average sale price has increased for 10 consecutive months,
• Sellers received a greater share of their original list price for the eighth consecutive month, and
• The number of pending home sales has increased for 13 consecutive months.
“To have strong sales and price gains as we enter the last quarter of the year is encouraging,” said Karl Berron, Chief Executive Officer of the Indiana Association of REALTORS®. “Buyers and sellers are clearly feeling more confident, as are our members.
“Cheap borrowing costs and the fact homes here have historically held value are still the glue binding this recovery together,” continued Berron. “Sustained recovery will not happen without real employment and wage growth.”
Anyone looking to buy or invest should start with the sortable county tables of this report and then talk to a local REALTOR® who can give the most insight into what’s happening in a neighborhood, city or school district.
More about the Indiana Real Estate Markets Report
Established in May 2009, the Indiana Real Estate Markets Report was the first-ever county-by-county comparison of existing single-family home sales in Indiana. In March 2010, IAR added statistics on other types of existing detached single-family (DSF) home sales – condominiums, duplexes, townhomes, mobile homes, etc. – to the report.
The report became even more robust in August 2010. It now tells how the statewide housing market is performing according to eight different indicators, each with one-month and year-to-date comparisons, as well as a historical look. It also provides specific county information for 91 of Indiana’s 92 counties in a sortable table format, allowing for consistent comparison between local markets. IAR obtains the data directly from and releases this report in partnership with 26 of the state’s 27 Multiple Listing Services (MLSs), including the Broker Listing Cooperative® (BLC®) in both central and southwestern Indiana.
IAR represents approximately 15,000 REALTORS® who are involved in virtually all aspects related to the sale, purchase, exchange or lease of real property in Indiana. The term REALTOR® is a registered mark that identifies a real estate professional who is a member of America’s largest trade association, the National Association of REALTORS®, and subscribes to its strict Code of Ethics.
Source: Indiana Association of Realtors
Monday, November 26 2012
According to the non-profit Demand Institute, this year nearly 35% of housing in the United States is now categorized as rental property. In our area as elsewhere, some of these properties belong to “accidental” landlords -- folks who had to relocate for professional or other reasons, but didn’t (or couldn’t) sell. Many others decided to buy investment properties when the prices of homes dropped so dramatically. One way or another, this fall a good many of our neighbors find themselves in the position of owning rental property for the first time.
What all new and long-time landlords have in common is the simple need to secure a trouble-free tenancy – which in many cases means securing professional property management. If you have a rental property yet are on the fence about the cost, some of the considerations that point to a professional for your property management solution look like these:
· A reputable localproperty management company knows how to find and screen qualified tenants at the same time they are complying with local and federal Fair Housing laws. It amounts to protecting you from potential lawsuits.
· Reputable property managers will take care of rental collections, protecting the cash flow that makes your investment worthwhile.
· Tenants who are handled professionally tend to stay longer – and that cuts down on costly turnover expenses.
· Experienced property management companies make sure that repair and maintenance work is completed promptly by licensed and insured professionals. This protects your asset while minimizing potential liability.
Property management may not seem to be the lowest cost solution, but for landlords who cannot spare the time to manage their property legally and carefully, finding one of the stellar property management companies in Evansville the best bet to protect that underlying asset and keep cash flowing. If you are one of those new ‘accidental’ landlords or are considering buying or selling an investment property, I am happy to share some of the best contacts in the industry! You can reach me on my cell phone at 812-499-9234.
Tuesday, November 20 2012
Things I am thankful for this year: health, of course -- for friends, family, myself -- and for the many things we all take for granted until something as devastating as Hurricane Sandy comes along to remind us of our good fortune.
And especially on Thanksgiving, I’m grateful for…my kitchen! Kitchens have become the center of activity in today’s home, whether during a casual weeknight family meal or a grand Thanksgiving feast for twelve. More and more of ourreal estate listings reflect just that: focused interest on the kitchen. Here are some relevant details that can draw interest to real estate listings in Evansville:
Floorplan – Is the kitchen open? Walled-off? Great yard view? Photos should be selected to highlight attractive layouts for effective real estate listings.
Appliances – New? Desired brand names? It’s amazing how prominent those concerns have become as interest in kitchens has been reflected in the real estate listings.
Finish – Have safety touches been added to the kitchen? Childproofed kitchen is a two-word real estate listings highlight worth featuring in any family-friendly neighborhood. One of the easiest updates is the addition of new hardware -- which can also make it harder for little hands to pull open cabinets while the adults are busy baking the world’s best pumpkin pie!
All kidding aside, I am thankful for all that we have here in Evansville. This Thanksgiving, Sandy has reminded us of all those who will be spending this holiday without a familiar place to come home to. If you would like to help Hurricane Sandy’s victims, a Red Cross page has been created to make donating easy: http://www.redcross.org/hurricane-sandy
Here’s to a safe and happy Thanksgiving!
Thursday, November 15 2012
When you search through the latest listings of Evansville homes, you first find those that fit your top-line needs. Then you winnow down that list. Some of the candidates will seem more appealing than others; and some will seem to be over- or underpriced.
Before making a final judgment on which homes bear a closer look, the most successful homebuyers also factor in qualities that may not be at the top of their own personal priorities list, yet which make a difference to the majority of homebuyers. In other words, they keep in mind the most important qualities that add value in market terms – that add investment value to homes that are principally your personal residential choice. Some of the more important ones:
· Location has a huge impact on a property's long-term price. Are amenities close by? Close enough to walk. Are homes in the immediate area well maintained? Is the property on a desirable block, or located next to a busy road?
· Taxes impact the overall cost of long-term cost – and when homes are listed, those figures are significantly displayed. Also important is whether there are any pending issues you should be aware of -- like a sewer bond or other pending taxes.
· Condition will become a major factor in years to come -- forward thinking will pay off in terms of overall value. A 20-yr-old water heater, for example, is going to cost sooner rather than later. Homes with excellent roof and foundation condition can add exceptional long-term value.
· Evansville homes with potential are homes with unrealized value. With smaller properties, it’s worthwhile to consider how doable it would be to add rooms or expand its square footage. Even if you don’t end up adding square footage, if homes are small for the neighborhood, a future buyer might.
This November’s historically low mortgage rates make it a terrific time to give me a call. Together, we’ll find the homes that are good fits for your family – as well as great long-term values.
Tuesday, November 13 2012
When anyone sets about readying a property for sale, some things are certain. By the time that home appears in the Evansville listings, its owner will have made sure that its overall appearance is neat, clean – generally well maintained.
Drilling down further, two of the areas prospective homebuyers focus most on are the kitchen and bathrooms. That’s why everyone puts the dishes away, sets the fluffy white towels out – perhaps even lights a scented candle or two. After that, most sellers settle down to see what happens…what the ‘luck of the draw’ will bring…Hold it! Luck?
Not really! The only luck that’s called for is the kind we make for ourselves -- the kind where preparation meets opportunity!
I take care of the opportunity: a good part of my job is creating it by executing a marketing plan that works! So all that is left is preparation: in this case, going the extra step by attending to some less glamorous (and less obvious) details. One example – a surprisingly impactful one – is a minor detail in those two focal rooms, the kitchen and bathrooms.
While the clean lines of nice tile work in either can increase the value of a home, soiled or broken grout will always work the other way. Even worse, if the grout shows mold or mildew, that detail can decrease the value of a property for sale by as much as ten to fifteen percent! (That daunting figure comes via research from the Microsoft Network’s web site).
The takeaway: if you are planning to list yourproperty for sale with a realtor this fall, here are some simple tips for creating some of your own “luck”:
· When repairing grout in a marble tiled-surface, avoid using sanded grout – it is hard to avoid scratching the marble’s surface.
· When cleaning grout, do not use brushes with metal bristles: they damage or erode the grout. Experts recommend using a 50/50 solution of vinegar and baking soda to clean the grout with a stiff (not metal) bristled brush.
· Using a grout sealer when installing tile or replacing grout can help keep it clean and in good condition.
· If you need to replace grout, bring a sample to the hardware store so you can closely match its color. Precise color is impossible to remember, and a poor match makes repairs stand out.
I always start new clients with an in-home evaluation -- we compare notes on areas that may need attention as we bring the home to market. If you are considering a sale, I hope you will put a call to me at my office right at the top of your to-do list! You can reach me on my cell phone at 812-499-9234.
Monday, November 12 2012
Last week’s annual National Association of Realtors® get-together opened with a grand gathering to hear what some economics heavyweights would say about coming conditions in the country.
You could hear a pin drop through most of it – despite the huge size of the auditorium. Our local real estate market is never in total lockstep with the national picture – but it certainly is affected by it. Economists are forced to play a guessing game, but the best are pretty good at it.
Wells Fargo’s senior economist Mark Vintner had good news and bad news. For those who have local real estate already in their ‘owned’ portfolio, despite the downturn of recent years, he thinks they own one of the few top-notch inflation-proof investments. “Real estate and gold,” he said. He gave convincing reasons why, despite almost any curves the middle-term future may send, the value of real estate (“housing”) should grow even if the economy unexpectedly weakens.
The not-so-good news was Vintner’s suspicion that the disparity in incomes will continue to widen, partly because rising rents and tough lending conditions make it hard for first-timers to make that first home purchase (of course, that’s good news for investors who own the rentals).
Of equal interest was NAR’s Chief Economist Lawrence Yun’s rapid-fire delivery of real estate stats and forecasts. He thinks mortgage interest rates will stay at their current historic lows for a while longer, but perhaps not so long as the Federal Reserve has been indicating. Longer term, Dr. Yun expects interest rates to rise gradually, but hold at the historically normal 5%-6% range. There were visible signs of relief as he went through the slide show of charts and graphs which illustrated why a return to double-digit inflation is unlikely.
The only moment of anything like humor came when one of the experts was asked about the global economy, and what will happen if no action is taken. “Europe has ‘kicked the can’ down the road until there is no road left,” he said, “and no can, either.”
Then he paused thoughtfully before adding, “But they’re still kicking.”
Friday, November 09 2012
Fifty percent of Americans recently surveyed say they expect home rental prices to rise in the next year, and it’s making them lean more toward home ownership, according to the Fannie Mae October National Housing Survey, which surveyed 1,000 Americans.
"This has been a year of steady growth in the percentage of consumers with positive home price expectations," says Doug Duncan, Fannie Mae’s senior vice president and chief economist. "Increasing household formation, encouraged by an improving labor market, is adding additional momentum to the housing recovery and putting upward pressure on rental price expectations. Expected increases in both owning and renting costs may encourage more consumers to buy and add further strength to the housing recovery already under way."
Rental price expectations continue to rise and are much higher than home price expectations, according to Fannie Mae.
More Americans say that with rising rents, home ownership is looking like a better option. Seventy-two percent of those surveyed say that now is a good time to purchase a home. Eighteen percent say it’s a good time to sell.
Still, the optimism over the direction of the housing market is met with some caution and predictions of a slow recovery--not a high speed one, according to Fannie.
Source: Fannie Mae
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.
Tuesday, October 23 2012
Inventories of for-sale homes aren’t the only thing that is dropping. The amount of time homes are staying on the market is growing shorter as well—down 11 percent in the last year—according to the latest Realtor.com data.
Homes were listed on average 95 days, according to September housing data. That is down from 107 days a year earlier.
Homes are selling the fastest in Oakland, Calif., in which the median age of the inventory averages 21 days, which is 57 percent below what it was a year ago. Denver, Colo. boasts a median age of inventory of only 38 days, followed by fast-selling markets of Stockton-Lodi, Calif., with 43 days, and San Francisco with 44 days.
As the median age of the inventory is falling, inventories of for-sale homes continue to hover at record lows too, dropping 18 percent last month compared to a year ago.
“There’s a recovery,” Curt Beardsley, vice president of Realtor.com, told BusinessWeek. “Our market times are low and there’s actually a compression of inventory.”
Home buyer demand is increasing, with housing affordability still high and ultra low mortgage rates that have pushed home buyers’ purchasing power higher. The rise in demand has caused asking prices to also rise. Last month, the median asking price was $191,500, which is up 0.8 percent compared to a year earlier, Realtor.com reports.
Source: "Listings of Homes for Sale Drop as U.S. Housing Recovers," BusinessWeek (Oct. 15, 2012) and REALTOR® Magazine Daily News
Thursday, October 18 2012
Builder confidence inched slightly higher in October, bringing it to its strongest level since June of 2006, according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index. The October gain also marks the sixth consecutive month for increases in the index, which measures builder confidence about the direction of the new-home market.
"Many builders are reporting increases in the number of serious buyers visiting their sales offices, and the overall confidence measure is much higher than it was at this time last year," says Barry Rutenberg, NAHB Chairman.
The monthly index measures builder perceptions of current single-family home sales, sales expectations, and buyer traffic.
While builders’ confidence about the recovery continues to improve, housing experts say there are still several challenges ahead for the new-home sector.
"The slight gain in builder confidence this month is an indication that, while still moving forward, the speed at which the housing recovery is proceeding is being moderated by the various constraints such as tight credit, difficult appraisals and more recently, the limited inventory of buildable lots in certain markets," says David Crowe, NAHB chief economist.
Source: National Association of Home Builders
Wednesday, October 17 2012
The questions frequently being asked today are buying short sale properties are safe? What are the risks associated?
Currently a massive number of house owners are underwater – the worth of their units being less than the loan due amount. To avoid foreclosure the best option for them is to opt for a short sale. The lenders too are not eager to foreclose anymore; they are realizing that by agreeing to a short sale they lose less than if they opted for foreclosure.
It is known as short sale because the amount agreed upon is short of the loan due amount. The borrower and the lender have to work together to close such a deal. Previously the banks inordinately delayed giving its nod but lately they have reversed their stand.
Apparently it seems that the buyer gains from a short sale but the truth is that everybody gains from a short sale except the buyer and the seller.
Suppose the buyer pays $400,000 for a house that had been originally bought for $500,000. It does not mean that the buyer pockets an equity of $100,000 because in all probability the seller at the time of purchase when the housing segment was in boom had paid too much for it.
During the boom years the banks were over eager to lend and allowed the house to be over-mortgaged; it meant that the mortgage was more than the real value of the house. Although illegal the appraisers were pressurized by the banks to inflate the property’s worth.
There are strict rules about being eligible to put up the property for short sale but many realtors, lacking ethics, pushes the seller into it minus the eligibility factor. The seller has to prove to the lender that he or she is in hardship. Many realtors skip this step.
Lenders insist upon a CMA or comparative-market-analysis or a BPO or broker-opinion-price. This way the lender will know which route to follow – foreclosure or short sale. Meanwhile the potential buyer wastes a lot of time waiting for the lender to give the green signal.
Lenders do not want to pay for certain expenses in a short sale – repairs, pest inspections etc.
If the seller is in default then there is the danger of a pending foreclosure suit if the lender delays in giving an answer. Sometimes there are two mortgages on the property. Usually the second lender does not want to give the permission because the latter’s share from the purchase price is negligible after the first holder chips in.
There are some lenders who nose in and make changes at the eleventh hour. They do so if the market mood changes or new laws come into enforcement. The lenders have lawyers attending on them all the time but this is not the case with buyers.
There is also the question of commission for the agents. If the lenders do not pay what the agent wants for doing extra work, the seller has to make up for it. Closing costs are also often pushed on to the buyer. Regarding closing the upper hand is with the lender.
The seller too may back out at the last minute if he or she notes that a foreclosure is better than this long drawn hassle. Although the seller can buy another house within two years after a short sale and in a foreclosure after seven years, if the seller is not thinking of buying this advantage has very little meaning.
Thus it is not easy to answer the questions – buying short sale properties are safe? What are the risks associated?
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 21 2012
Homebuilders haven’t been this confident about sales, the outlook of future sales, and buyer traffic since June 2006, which is right before the housing crisis took hold, a new index shows.
For September, the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo builder sentiment index, which measures builders’ outlook on current sales, future sales, and buyer demand, reached its highest level in six years. Plus, homebuilders expect the housing recovery to strengthen within the next six months.
Homebuilders say they’ve experienced some of the best sales levels they've had in six years, and buyer traffic has returned to May 2006 levels, the index shows.
"We think things have turned around and this recovery is sustainable," Patrick Newport, an economist with IHS Global Insight, told the Associated Press.
The index has been edging higher since last October, coinciding with reports that show sales and home prices inching up too.
Source: “Index of US Homebuilder Confidence Improves; Builders Anticipate Sales Strengthening into '13,” Associated Press (Sept. 18, 2012)
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 17 2012
Retirees are increasingly flocking to cooler climates and smaller towns than sunny, southern havens in states like Florida or Arizona that generally are popular retirement hot-spots. Baby boomers are looking elsewhere, from Maine to Washington.
"Boomers and retirees these days are considering a much wider range of destinations for retirement, often choosing states that don't commonly come to mind, such as Maine and Montana," says Mary Lu Abbott, editor of Where to Retire magazine. "Yes, the Sun Belt remains popular, but many people prefer a four-season climate and enjoy the changing of seasons. They seek towns that are safe and have active, appealing downtowns and good hospitals nearby, and increasingly they're looking for places with a lower cost of living and lower overall tax rate."
As they retire, baby boomers are increasingly looking at places that are familiar to them, such as where they’ve once vacationed or spent time at as a child, David Savageau, author of "Retirement Places Rated," told the Associated Press. They’re looking for places that are walkable and have volunteer opportunities and college courses, he adds.
Florida and golf communities are "the old view of retirement," Savageau says. "And it's kind of dying out, the desert Southwest and South Florida. That was for our parents; for us it might be somewhere closer to home, a college town, a ski resort or a historical area that gets some kind of tourism in season."
Source: "Cooler Climates, Small Towns Become Popular Retirement Destinations for Baby Boomers," Associated Press (Sept. 16, 2012)
Friday, September 14 2012
The Federal Reserve announced Thursday that, in an effort to re-ignite economic recovery, it was taking aim at mortgage rates — a move that will likely take rates even lower from their current record lows.
The Federal Reserve announced it will purchase $40 billion of mortgage-backed securities that will help boost the recovery in the housing market. What’s more, the central bank said that it will continue with the purchase program until the economy shows greater improvement, particularly with unemployment.
"These actions, which together will increase the Committee’s holdings of longer-term securities by about $85 billion each month through the end of the year, should put downward pressure on longer-term interest rates, support mortgage markets, and help to make broader financial conditions more accommodative," according to the Fed in a public statement.
The Fed says the economy still has a long way to go toward recovery. The Fed predicts the jobless rate will stay above 7 percent well into 2014 and that economic growth will remain slow in the coming months.
At its Thursday meeting, the Fed left its funds rate unchanged at near-zero, but announced the rate — which has a bearing on mortgages — would remain at "exceptionally low levels" until at least mid-2015.
As mortgage rates sink lower, home shoppers have been taking advantage. The Mortgage Bankers Association announced this week that mortgage applications for home purchases were up 8.1 percent for the week ending Sept. 7. Mortgage applications for purchases also were up 7 percent from year-ago levels, MBA said.
"While low interest rates impose some costs, Americans will ultimately benefit most from the healthy and growing economy that low interest rates promote," Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said Thursday following the Fed committee’s meeting.
Source: “Fed Pulls Trigger, to Buy Mortgages in Effort to Lower Rates,” CNBC (Sept. 13, 2012)
Thursday, September 13 2012
Millions of Americans have refinanced their mortgages as rates have dipped to new lows.
However, mortgage lenders say: If home owners had shopped around more, they probably could have snagged an even lower rate and more savings.
Many borrowers settle on the first rate they're quoted, lenders say. LendingTree says that rates can vary by more than a percentage point for a borrower looking for a 30-year fixed loan.
Mortgage Daily illustrates the loss to the customer in the following example: "A consumer with a credit score of 759 and a loan amount of $260,000 might have received quotes from lenders in early August ranging from 3.25 percent to 4.625 percent. By choosing the lowest rate, the borrower would save $214 a month, $2,568 a year, and nearly $74,000 over the life of the loan."
Fewer than half of home owners say they shopped around when refinancing their loan, according to a survey by Harris Interactive of more than 1,000 home owners. On the other hand, 9 in ten American adults say they compare prices when shopping for major purchases.
"Consumers need to be engaged," says Doug Lebda, chief executive of LendingTree. "A lot of them are just happy to have it over with rather than hang in there to get the best deal."
Source: "Mortgage Shoppers Sell Themselves Short," Mortgage Daily (Sept. 10, 2012)
Wednesday, September 12 2012
A new measure shows the typical amount of time it takes to sell a home is shrinking, and for traditional sellers is now in the range of historic norms for a balanced market, well below the cyclical peak reached in 2009, according to the National Association of Realtors®
The median time a home was listed for sale on the market1 was 69 days in July, down 29.6 percent from 98 days in July 2011. The median reflects a wide spectrum; one-third of homes purchased in July were on the market for less than a month, while one in five was on the market for at least six months.
Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said there is a clear relationship between inventory supply and time on market. “As inventory has tightened homes have been selling more quickly,” he said. “A notable shortening of time on market began this spring, and this has created a general balance between home buyers and sellers in much of the country. This equilibrium is supporting sustained price growth, and homes that are correctly priced tend to sell quickly, while those that aren’t often languish on the market.”
At the end July there was a 6.4-month supply of homes on the market at the current sales pace, which is 31.2 percent below a year ago when there was a 9.3-month supply.
Read more here: http://www.realtor.org/news-releases/2012/09/homes-selling-more-quickly-time-on-market-down-with-tighter-supplies
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.
Friday, August 31 2012
Pending home sales rose in July to the highest level in more than two years as the housing market continues showing sustained signs of recovery.
The sales index, a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, was up 2.4 percent to 101.7 last month, its highest level since April 2010, shortly before the expiration of a home buyer tax credit, the National Association of Realtors said Wednesday.
The July figure is up 12.4 percent above the July 2011 level of 90.5.
"While the month-to-month movement has been uneven, more importantly we now have 15 consecutive months of year-over-year gains in contract activity," said Lawrence Yun, the NAR chief economist.
The data reflect contracts but not closings.
Limited inventory is constraining market activity, especially in the West, which is dealing with an "acute inventory shortage," Yun said.
Still, the other three regions experienced improvement last month.
The Northeast saw pending sales rise 0.5 percent to 77.0, 13.4 percent higher than a year ago, while the Midwest had a 3.4 percent improvement to 97.4, 20.2 percent above July 2011.
Pending home sales in the South rose 5.2 percent to 111.7, 15.6 percent above a year ago.
In the West the index slipped 1.7 percent in July to 109.9 but is 1.3 percent higher than July 2011.
Existing-home sales are projected to rise 8 to 9 percent in 2012, followed by another 7 to 8 percent gain in 2013.
Home prices are expected to increase 10 percent cumulatively over the next two years.
"Falling visible and shadow inventories point toward continuing price gains," Yun said. "Expected gains in housing starts of 25 to 30 percent this year, and nearly 50 percent in 2013, are insufficient to meet the growing housing demand."
Thursday, August 30 2012
The latest industry reports are showing housing prices on the rise, and it has made more sellers want to raise their asking price, according to industry insiders.
Shrinking inventories of for-sale homes with pent-up demand is allowing sellers to charge about 5 percent more than they could have just six months ago, Everett King, president of ERA King Real Estate in Birmingham, Ala., told USA Today.
Real estate companies are reporting that sellers are having more luck with their higher asking prices, too. For example, in Tucson, Ariz., home sellers are getting 96 percent of their asking price on average, USA Today reports.
Still, others caution that sellers can’t get too unrealistic with their price expectations. The economy is still sluggish and unemployment is still high. Plus, Stan Humphries, Zillow.com’s chief economist, cautions that a shortage of lower-price homes for sale in many markets may be inflating asking prices.
Source: “Is Case-Shiller Home Sales Index Falling Behind the Times?” USA Today (Aug. 26, 2012)
Wednesday, August 29 2012
Tuesday’s measure of June home prices from the S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city index is likely to turn positive when compared with one year ago for the first time in two years, according to a forecast by Zillow Inc.
Prices have risen this summer for a simple reason: more buyers have chased fewer properties. But the drop in supply and the boost in demand isn’t the only reason that Case-Shiller is now turning positive. Another related factor is that the share of non-distressed home sales is rising and the share of distressed sales—foreclosures and short sales, mostly—is falling.
(Case-Shiller reports prices using a three-month moving average with a two month lag. Several other home price indices have also shown bigger-than-usual price gains for the second quarter.)
The decline in the distressed share is important for the housing market, and especially for home-price indexes like Case-Shiller. Because banks are faster to cut prices to unload inventory than are mom-and-pop sellers, home values can fall further as the share of distressed sales rises. This was the case throughout 2008, as home price declines were in virtual free fall amid a cycle of rising foreclosures.
A report last week from economists at Goldman Sachs tries to quantify the share of the decline in home prices that can be attributed to the rise of distressed versus non-distressed homes. They conclude that this “mix shift” is responsible for around one third of the 34% decline in home prices since 2006.
While distressed homes normally account for around 5% of all home sales, the distressed share reached a peak of nearly 50% in early 2009, as the housing market unraveled. The share normally falls during the stronger spring and summer months, when there are more mom-and-pop home sellers, while it rises during the seasonally weaker autumn and winter—though it hasn’t gone as high as 50% since 2009.
The share of distressed sales is still high by any historical comparison. But importantly, it is falling when compared with one year ago, which is a big reason why home prices, as measured by the Case-Shiller index, are rising again. In June, the share of non-distressed sales, meanwhile, was at its highest level since August 2008, according to CoreLogic Inc.
In May 2012, around 25% of all homes were distressed sales, down from 31% one year earlier, according to Goldman. Moreover, Goldman estimates that banks are losing less money on distressed sales than they have in the past, in part because banks are pushing short sales more aggressively. The average distressed home sold at a 20% discount to comparable non-distressed homes, an improvement from discounts of 25% to 30% earlier in the crisis.
With distressed homes yielding smaller discounts and fewer distressed sales coming on the market, home prices have stopped falling. In May, for example, the Case-Shiller index showed that prices were down by 0.7% from one year ago. Without the change in the distressed share, prices would have been down by 2%, Goldman estimates.
Local markets provide even better examples of this. Home prices have risen most sharply in Phoenix, where foreclosures accounted for 27% of home re-sales in May, down from 50% one year ago and 66% three years earlier. Goldman estimates that of the 11% home price increase over the past year in Phoenix, around five percentage points—or 40% of the total—is due to the drop in the distressed share.
Goldman economists Marty Young and Hui Shan note that returning to a normal share of distressed sales “will take several years.” But they add that the market is moving slowly in the right direction, which is “one reason we believe the Case-Shiller house price index has passed its trough and is poised for modest growth going forward.”
So will prices soften later this year? Usually they do because there are normally fewer traditional sellers competing with the banks and other distressed sellers after the summer ends. In each of the last three years, rising prices in the spring has given way to falling prices heading into the fall.
But right now, low levels of homes for sale, particularly foreclosed properties, mean that prices “will not fall in this year’s off-season, or at least not as dramatically as in recent years,” writes Mark Fleming, chief economist at CoreLogic.
The lesson here: to figure out where home prices are headed, watch the share of distressed sales in your market. The pace at which banks move to repossess properties and the strategies they use to work out troubled mortgages will have great weight on home prices going forward. Even more important will be whether housing demand weakens, stabilizes, or grows stronger in the coming year.
Follow Nick: @NickTimiraos
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.
Thursday, August 16 2012
With tax deduction limits coming for 2013, medically related home upgrades are a smart project this year.
What a difference year makes.
For the 2012 tax year, you can take a tax deduction on medically necessary home improvements — like installing a wheelchair ramp and other projects that make life easier for an ill or injured family member — if you:
- Spend more than 7.5% of your adjusted gross income on the upgrades (10% of AGI if you’re subject to alternative minimum tax).
Starting in 2013, if you’re under age 65, you can’t take the tax deduction on medical expenses until you spend 10% of your AGI. But if you’re 65 or older in 2013, you can stick with the 7.5% AGI tax deduction threshold through the end of 2016.
The rules for tax deductions on medical home improvements are tricky:
1. Start with what it costs to modify your home.
2. Subtract the value the upgrades add to your home.
3. What’s leftover is your tax deduction — if you meet your AGI threshold.
How it works
Say you’re 45 years old and spend $20,000 to put a bathroom on the first floor of your home because your husband can’t climb stairs anymore. Your AGI is $100,000. A REALTOR® says the bathroom adds $10,000 to the value of your house.
1. Start with the cost of the improvements: $20,000
2. Subtract your added home value: $10,000
3. Of that $10,000 difference, you can only take a deduction for expenses that exceed 7.5% of your AGI or $7,500.
So if you itemize, you can take a $2,500 deduction for the 2012 tax year. Wait until 2013 and you get no deduction because your threshold rises to 10%. If you’re over age 65, though, you can claim a $2,500 deduction.
Tip: Doing all your improvements in a single year will help you meet the AGI threshold.
Some of the improvements that you can claim a tax deduction for, according to IRS Publication 502, “Medical and Dental Expenses”:
- Entrance ramps for your home
- Grading the yard before building a ramp, or to make it easier to get in your home
- Widening exterior or interior doorways
- Widening or removing hallways
- Installing railings, support bars, or other bathroom improvements
- Lowering or modifying kitchen cabinets and equipment
- Moving or modifying electrical outlets and fixtures
- Installing porch lifts and other forms of lifts (but elevators generally add value to the house)
- Modifying fire alarms, smoke detectors, and other warning systems
- Adding handrails or grab bars anywhere (whether or not in bathrooms)
- Upkeep of medically necessary upgrades, like elevators, and operating costs
- Lead-based paint removal if your child has lead poisoning
- Renovating an existing bathroom to make it handicap accessible or adding a new accessible bath
Will the tax change encourage you to make necessary changes this year?
Read more: http://www.houselogic.com/blog/tax-deductions/medical-tax-deduction-changes-2013/#ixzz23dg4PbL4
Wednesday, August 15 2012
“It’s hard to argue against buying a house now, assuming you can get a loan,” writes John Waggoner, a columnist with USA Today. Sure, Waggoner says that getting a credit check for approval of a mortgage can be a “only slightly less intrusive than a CIA background check,” but for those who are able to qualify, a lot of analysts say that now can be a good time to purchase a home.
1. The price is right. The median single-family home price hit its lowest in more than a decade when it reached $154,600 in January, according to the National Association of REALTORS®. That was the lowest since October 2001. During the height of the housing market in July 2006, the median home price for a single-family home was $230,900.
2. It’s cheaper to buy than rent. In nearly every major metro market, it is cheaper to buy a home than rent. Rents have been on the rise the last few years and are predicted to continue to rise. Meanwhile, home affordability is at record highs, which means that buying a home is more within reach to the median income family.
3. Inventories of for-sale homes are shrinking. Ned Davis Research estimates that excess inventories of homes to be eliminated by the end of next year. “When excess supply dries up, people start building more new houses, which has the virtuous effect of reducing the unemployment rate and increasing the economy generally,” according to the USA Today article.
4. Mortgage rates are at record lows. Mortgage rates have hovered near record lows for weeks, which has helped pushing housing affordability higher. For example, the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, which is the most popular among home buyers, is 3.59 percent, according to Freddie Mac—just above its record low set on July 26 of 3.49 percent average. “It’s conceivable that at some point in the next 30 years, your interest rate would be less than the rate of inflation,” writes Waggoner for USA Today.
Source: “If You Can Pull it Off, a House is a Smart Investment,” USA Today (Aug. 9, 2012)
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!
Monday, August 13 2012
A few major predictions came out of the panel discussion that kicked off Inman's Real Estate Connect event yesterday morning in San Francisco. The session, moderated by Inman News founder Brad Inman, featured experts from the worlds of real estate and finance. Here were some of the most important forecasts for the real estate industry:
1. Rates will remain low for at least another year.
Amy Brandt, CEO of Vantium Capital, offered the most conservative prediction: that rates would probably start to rise significantly by the summer of next year. Bill Emmons, assistant vice president and economist of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, said he expects the Fed to do whatever it can to hold rates down until the end of 2014.
2. No matter what happens, the government will continue to play a major role in mortgage financing.
Brandt pointed out that more than 90 percent of mortgages are somehow supported today by the federal government. It will probably stay that way for a couple of reasons, the first being that investors want it that way, said Joel Singer, CEO of the California Association of REALTORS®. But another issue is that no private entity or group is big enough to fill that role right now. However, it's unclear whether the FHA or a reconstituted Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac would take the lead.
3. Hard assets such as oil, gold, and real estate will probably be on the rise for some time to come.
All of the panelists agreed, with some minor exceptions, that real estate is a good investment right now. And like other tangible assets, it will likely grow in value over the next few years.
They also all agreed that it will take some time before the economy returns to stable, long-lasting growth. The reason? The downturn was driven by major problems in the financial sector, and the broken system will have to be retooled before the economy can truly flourish, said Patrick Stone, president and CEO of the Williston Financial Group.?@
That rebuilding could take some time, Singer added. "This transition is going to take a while," he said. "The failure of institutions to grasp the problem and come up with solutions is what's caused this to last so long."
Emmons said the extreme aversion to risk among business right now -- causing capital to flow into low-risk, low-return assets -- should improve soon, but added that unprecedented levels of public and private debt could hold back growth. "There's still a lot of debt to work through," he explained. "In some respects, we look like Japan. Rather than take the 18 months of hell to get through that, we're just kicking it down the road."
However, the panel was generally optimistic about the long-term prospects of the economy.
"We train and educate the innovators of tomorrow," Stone said. "And no country is better at connecting capital and innovation."
Brandt also expressed confidence in the ability of most real estate professionals to adapt to any major economic shifts, just as they did with the advent of the Internet. "I think this is an innovative group that can come up with solutions," she said, but added that practitioners should raise their awareness of and involvement in the mortgage financing part of the transaction.
"If I were running a real estate company, I would try to be more tightly integrated with the financial side," she said.
- Brian Summerfield, REALTOR Magazine http://realtormag.realtor.org/daily-news/2012/08/02/3-big-predictions-for-real-estate
Tuesday, August 07 2012
1. Keep your home well-maintained on the outside.
Burglars want an easy target. Stand on the street outside your house and ask yourself: Does my property look neglected, hidden, or uninhabited? A front door or walkway that’s obscured by shrubbery offers crooks the perfect cover they need while they break a door or window. To improve security, trim shrubs away from windows and widen front walks.
2. Install motion detector lights.
All sides of your house should be well-lit with motion-activated lighting, not just the front. Simple motion-activated floodlights cost less than $50 each, and installing them is an easy DIY job if the wiring is already in place.
3. Store your valuables.
Thieves want easy-to-grab electronics, cash, jewelry, and other valuables, though some are not above running down the street with your flat-screen TV. Most make a beeline for the master bedroom, because that’s where you’re likely to hide spare cash, jewelry, even guns.
Tour each room and ask yourself: is there anything here that I can move to a safe deposit box? Installing a home safe ($150 to $500) that’s bolted to your basement slab is a good repository for items you don’t use on a daily basis.
4. Secure your data.
While you probably won’t be putting your home computer in a safe anytime soon, take steps to back up the personal information stored on it. Password protect your login screen, and always shut off your computer when not in use (you’ll save energy, too!) Don’t overlook irreplaceable items whose value may hard to quantify, like digital photos.
5. Prepare ahead of time in case the worst happens.
- Take a photo or video inventory of items of value in your home, and store the file online or in your home safe.
- Check that you’re properly insured for theft. Note that high-ticket items in your home office, such as computers, professional camera equipment, or other business essentials, may require an additional rider or a separate policy.
Monday, August 06 2012
The homebuilding industry posted another gain in construction spending in June, marking the third consecutive month for increases, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday.
After a sluggish last few years, the homebuilding industry continues to dig toward a recovery, posting big year-over-year improvements that has many analysts saying the sector has finally reached the tipping point toward recovery.
In June, construction spending increased 0.4 percent. Last month, spending gained 1.6 percent -- an upwardly revised number -- which marked the largest one-month increase since December. The increase has been most driven by a rise in residential housing construction.
Overall, June construction spending was up 12.9 percent compared to February 2011, which at the time had marked a 12-year low for the sector.
However, economists warn that the homebuilding industry still has a long way to go. While there has been recent improvement, construction spending levels are still about half of what most consider healthy for the industry.
Source: “Construction Spending Rises in June, but Manufacturing Slows,” USA Today (Aug. 1, 2012)
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.
Tuesday, July 31 2012
Successful burglars have lots in common — home owners who unwittingly give invitations to robbery. Here’s how thieves thank you for your generosity.
You come home to an open front door, a ransacked house, and missing valuables. How did a burglar know you’d be gone? How did they get in?
Check out these 10 thank-you notes from your friendly neighborhood burglars, and their advice on how to stop lending them a helping hand.
1. Thanks for the ladder!
Call me a social climber if you will, but I did discover a ladder in your back yard. Thank you for leaving it where I could lean it against your home and easily reach a second-story window. I really love it when upper story openings aren’t wired to a home security system!
So, if you want to keep me out, store your ladder in the basement or a locked garage. And call your security company to wire upper-story windows into your alarm system.
A rising star
2. Loved your trash
Can’t tell you how much fun I have driving around neighborhoods on trash day (especially after big gift holidays) when the empty boxes on the curb reveal what wonderful new toys you have. Your thoughtfulness made it possible for me to land a new laptop and a flat-screen television in one easy trip to your home!
Next time, break down the boxes and conceal them in the recycling or trash bins.
3. Dear Can’t-Get-Around-To-It
Recently, I noticed you hadn’t trimmed trees and shrubs around your home, so I knew I’d have a wonderful place to hide while I worked to break into your home. I really can’t thank you enough for all the great new things I grabbed.
Next time, trim back bushes and trees near windows and doors. Make sure entry points to your home are easily visible from the street — I much prefer to work in private! While you’re at it, install motion-sensor lighting. I’m scared of bright lights!
The Tree Lover
4. Su casa es mi casa!
I was sincerely relieved to find your back door was a plain wood-panel door. I had no trouble kicking it in (my knees appreciate how easy that was!) Imagine how silly I felt when I discovered that your windows weren’t locked anyway.
You may want to take a cue from your neighbor and install steel-wrapped exterior doors with deadbolts on all your entries. And be sure your windows are locked when you’re away.
All the best,
5. Bad reflection on you
You’d be surprised how many home owners position a mirror in their entry hall so I can see from a window if the alarm system is armed. (Yours wasn’t, but I’m guessing you know that by now!) Thanks for taking a lot of pressure off of me.
A little free advice: Relocate the mirror so your alarm system isn’t visible if someone else would peer through a window.
6. The telltale grass
Wow, isn’t it amazing how fast the grass grows these days? I swung by now and then and noticed your lawn was uncut, newspapers were piling up on the front steps, and your shades were always closed. To me, that’s an open invitation.
Next time, hire someone you trust to mow regularly, pick up around the doorstep, open and close various window shades, and turn different lights on and off (or put a few on timers). One more thing: Lock any car you leave in the driveway, or I can use your garage door opener to get in quickly.
Your Trip Advisor
7. Getting carried away
Many thanks for putting your valuables into an easy-to-carry safe that I could carry right out your back door. (Nice jewelry, and thank you for the cash!)
You may want to invest in a wall safe, which I rarely attempt to open. Or, rent a lock box at your bank.
Mr. Safe and Not-So-Sound
8. Dear BFF
Thanks for alerting a professional acquaintance of mine via your social network that you were away for the week in Puerto Vallarta, having the time of your life. Me? I enjoyed a very relaxing visit to your home with no pressure of being caught.
If only you had known that posting comments and photos of your trip on social networks is fine — but do that after you return so you won’t broadcast your absence!
9. Tag, you’re it!
Where are you? When you use popular geo-tracking apps, such as FourSquare and Glympse, I might know if you’re not home. Web sites such as www.pleaserobme.com help me keep track of your whereabouts.
If you prefer that I not visit your home, be careful about geo-tagging. But, otherwise, thank you for the loot!
— Just Tagging Along
10. Thanks for the appointment
Thanks for inviting me into your home to view the laptop you wanted to sell. I do apologize for the scare I gave you when I took it (and your purse).
Did you know that some large U.S. cities are averaging one so-called “robbery by appointment” per day? If you want to sell high-ticket items to strangers, I suggest you arrange to meet at the parking lot of your local police station. I definitely won’t show up, and you’ll still have your valuables (and your purse!)
Read more: http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/home-security/how-to-prevent-burglaries/#ixzz21jzxsdEr
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.
Thursday, July 26 2012
You change your car's oil every 3,000 miles or so, get your teeth cleaned regularly, and rebalance your investments once a year. So why wouldn't you undertake similar preventive maintenance on your house?
Having to replace just one of its hardest-working surfaces -- from roofing to exterior paint, hardwood floors to lawn -- would cost you thousands. But you can stave off that pain with simple, often-overlooked upkeep procedures and slight tweaks to the way you already approach routine chores.
Exterior paint: The biggest controllable threat to the paint on your house is the landscaping around it, says architect Karen Sweeney, director of facilities for two Frank Lloyd Wright buildings in Chicago.
Overgrown foundation plantings rub away paint -- and bring moisture and bugs onto the finish.
The fix: Prune bushes to keep them at least a foot away from the house; a landscaper might do it for $200 if he's already there.
Roofing: You can't stop nature from damaging your roof, but you can address the harm coming from within by adding ventilation to your attic. Without proper airflow, that space can get 35° to 55°F hotter than the outside temperature, roasting the roof from below.
The fix: Have a contractor add airflow by installing high and low attic vents; they can go in the walls or the roof itself, depending on the situation ($500 to $1,000).
Hardwood floors: Every grimy boot and dragged chair brings you closer to the day when you'll have to refinish the floors. "But sanding floorboards makes them a little thinner, bouncier, and creakier," says Sweeney. "And after three times there's nothing left to sand."
The fix: Hire a floor guy to "
But in the North, grass shorter than 2½ to 3½ inches is less drought resistant and invites insects and weeds (in the South, one inch is fine).
The fix: Set the mower higher and never remove more than a third of the grass height at a time. Says Stier: "Think of mowing as a trim, not a crewcut."
," or sand away most of the old finish -- without touching the wood -- and apply new polyurethane ($1,000 to $1,500 for a typical first floor, half the cost of refinishing).
Lawns: Many DIYers and pros do the grass serious harm when they mow.
"People like the look of a close-cropped lawn," says University of Tennessee agriculture professor John Stier, a consultant to Major League Baseball grounds crews.
Wednesday, July 25 2012
Moving.com identified the top metro areas for 18- to 29-year olds, factoring in affordable housing and rental costs, low unemployment, and education and entertainment opportunities. The areas emerging at the top of its list are located mostly near large cities and are considered “affordable” by big-city standards. The metro areas also offer some of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation, below 7 percent.
The top seven cities for millennials, according to Moving.com’s list are:
1. Athens, Ga.
Average rent price: $798
Median home list price: $174,900
2. Chapel Hill, N.C.
Average rent price: $1,260
Median home list price: $219,900
3. Corvallis, Ore.
Average rent price: $1,043
Median home list price: $283,700
Average rent price: $1,168
Median home list price: $204,900
5. Ithaca, N.Y.
Average rent price: $1,034
Median home list price: $276,000
6. Oklahoma City, Okla.
Average rent price: $707
Median home list price: $154,900
7. Pittsburgh, Pa.
Average rent price: $1,030
Median home list price: $143,250
Source: “The Top 10 Best Cities for Millennials,” 24/7 Wall St. (July 9, 2012)
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.
Thursday, July 19 2012
Home owners beware: “Your homeowner’s insurance now probably covers less while costing more,” The Wall Street Journal reports.
Home owner deductibles have been rising the last few years, as home owners who may have once seen $250 to $500 a claim soar to $1,000 to $2,500 a claim in recent years.
There’s been a move by the industry to go to percentage-based deductibles, which have caused prices to rise. For example, home owners may have once had a $500 to $1,000 deductible but now have a form of a deductible of 2 percent of the insured value of a home for items like wind and hail damage. That could mean that insurance may only cover half the cost of a roof replacement.
What’s more, more insurance companies are issuing more limits on what all they will pay for in replacing a home.
Texas home owners pay the highest insurance premiums in the country, but a consumer group in the state found that newer policies are covering less, like limiting coverage on plumbing leaks or damage to foundations.
With insurance policies squeezing more home owners’ budgets, housing experts say home owners need to take an active role in reviewing their policy to find out what all is covered. Also, they say that home owners need to think twice before making several claims.
“One large claim will affect you less than multiple small ones,” The Wall Street Journal article notes. “Of course, you buy insurance to be covered, so you are always free to file a claim. But you should know that insurers keep close track of claims and will penalize you for making too many, even if you just happen to hit a string of bad luck.”
Source: “Insurance Deductibles Soar,” The Wall Street Journal (July 13, 2012)
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!
Monday, July 02 2012
Real estate practitioners in vacation spots across the country say the market for second homes is picking up steam as buyers grow more confident given signs of growth in small businesses.
The National Association of REALTORS® reports a 7 percent jump in vacation sales to 502,000 last year, accounting for 11 percent of all volume. The median vacation home price was $121,000 last year, down from a peak of $204,100 in 2005, but agents in some locales say prices are beginning to creep up as the distressed inventory is moved out.
Vacation-home buyers are snapping up higher-priced properties, although Jennifer Calenda of Michael Saunders & Co. in Southwest Florida says prices are not necessarily on the rise. With inventory hitting a seven-year low of 4.7 months in Sarasota, Manatee, and Charlotte counties, she says buyers "are saying 'we better hurry up.'"
Inventory is so scarce in some markets that some real estate professionals report multiple offers; and with prices probably at the bottom, Trulia economist Jed Kolko says people ready to make a cash purchase or who can qualify for low mortgage rates should strongly consider buying now.
Source: "Vacation Home Buyers Return, Pick Pricier Properties," Investor's Business Daily
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.