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Category Archive: ‘Tips, Advice & Links’

Master Bath Remodels

Thumb through any home decor magazine, and you’ll see a master bathroom with a soaker or shower as the showpiece. Ta-da!

Homeowners, it turns out, are splurging to scrub up, according to the recently released U.S. Houzz Bathroom Trends Study. Ninety-one percent of homeowners in the study added a spacious shower to their master bathroom (after tearing out the tub), and many added on deluxe features, like a body sprayer or rainfall showerhead, for an improved, spa-like space.

The average cost for a large-scale remodel of a master bath (sized over 100 square feet) was $21,000, shows the study. Master bath renovations cost more in pricey markets, however. In San Francisco, Calif., for example, a major remodel averages $34,100.

Accompanying a luxury shower is a soothing gray and white color palette, according to the study. Nineteen percent of homeowners installed white countertops in the master bath, and 40 percent painted its walls white. Fourteen percent added gray cabinets, as well, to complete the tone-on-tone look. The majority of homeowners (90 percent) changed the overall style of the room, some to contemporary (25 percent), some to transitional (17 percent), and some, still, to modern (15 percent).

  • Statement showers; lose the tub : Showers are the top feature to splurge on during a master bathroom renovation (42% of renovating homeowners). Of those making master shower updates (81%), more than two-thirds increase its size. Many homeowners remove their master bathtub (27%) to make room for a larger shower (91%).
  • Aging in place drives spend: Homeowners 55 years old or older spend nearly twice as much as those under 35 on renovations of master bathrooms over 100 square feet ($22,800 vs. $12,500, respectively). Older homeowners are significantly more likely to integrate accessibility features, as three in five have no plans to move in the next 10 years.
  • Millenials crave more space: One quarter of homeowners opt to increase their master bathrooms. Many of those who are keeping the bathroom size as is find it too small for their needs (30%). Millennial homeowners (ages 25 to 34) are more likely to increase their master bathrooms than are other homeowners and are more likely to be unhappy about the size when not changing it.
  • San Fransiscians spend the most on remodels: Among the top 20 U.S. metro areas, homeowners in San Francisco spend the most on a master bathroom remodel, averaging $34,100 for a major remodel of a larger master bathroom (over 100 square feet), compared with $21,000 nationally. Overall, costs vary significantly by scope of remodel, size of master bathroom and regions.

Posted by on Nov 16, 2017 in Jim's Take on the Market, Remodel Projects, Tips, Advice & Links | 2 comments

Selling Strategies That Can Backfire

Good tips from realtor.com:

When you’re selling your home, you might imagine you hold all the cards. And you do—sort of. But it’s easy to become overconfident in a seller’s market. If  you don’t do a reality checkpronto, you could end up sabotaging your sale. So much for that straight flush!

Here are six common home seller negotiation tactics that can totally backfire if you don’t approach them carefully.

1. Starting a bidding war

Bidding wars are the stuff of home sellers’ dreams. And there’s nothing wrong with fueling a little competition among buyers in order to get the best deal for you. But this tactic can easily backfire if you bungle it.

“If mishandled, people may assume the worst, and the best offer may walk away,” says Sep Niakan, owner/broker at Miami-based HB Roswell Realty.

Common bidding war bungles include the following:

  • Not clearly explaining upfront how you intend to handle multiple offers.
  • Giving an offer deadline that is too many days away. Some buyers might not want to wait for you to make a decision, especially if other homes are in contention.
  • Already having a strong offer on the table, but then insisting that all potential buyers come back with their highest and best bid. There’s no guarantee buyers will play ball and, if that strong offer walks, you’re stuck with lower offers to choose from.

Bottom line: Proceed with caution before turning up the heat on the competition, lest you risk losing out on a dream deal.

2. Haggling over repairs

What if the buyer completes an inspection and comes back with a long list of requested repairs? If sellers get too tough here, they might send a buyer walking.

The sellers should consider how good the overall package is for them before refusing to do repairs, says Lucas Machado, president of House Heroes in Miami. “When the buyer’s offer is high, and the seller tries to negotiate away from legitimate repairs, the buyer may feel the seller is taking advantage of them.”

3. Threatening to put your home back on the market

If negotiations aren’t quite going your way, you might be tempted to call the buyer’s bluff. Hey, if they don’t want to ante up, you can always put your home back on the market and find another eager buyer to squeeze.Right?

Yes, you might find another taker quickly. But beware of this move—it might not go according to plan.

That’s because there’s often a stigma associated with putting a home back on the market, and it might be harder to get buyers to take a second look, says Realtor® Michael Hottman, associate broker at Keller Williams Richmond West in Richmond, VA.

“Exercise caution with this tactic, because real estate markets can change quickly from hot to cold, leaving you without all those buyers you were expecting,” Hottman says. “And the ones who you had initially thought were legitimate prospects may have moved on to other homes in the time between your property originally going under contract and now coming back on the market.”

4. Being stubborn on the closing date

You’ve decided you’re not going to allow the new people to move in until (insert future date) because that’s when the closing date is on your new home. Or, they can’t possibly take possession this spring because your kids are still finishing school.

Guess what? Your buyers have scheduling issues of their own, says John Powell, chief development officer at Help-U-Sell Real Estate in Tucson, AZ.

“Sellers need to understand that they may have to move twice, since buyer and seller schedules seldom work out perfectly.”

5. Getting greedy over what comes with the house

Planning to take your beautiful custom light fixtures with you? Not so fast, Hottman warns. Often, he finds that sellers have expensive fixtures in place to show the home, but plan on taking them when they move. And that can cause trouble at the negotiating table.

The buyer “might have decided to buy the ceiling fan, and the house happens to come with it, or they get so upset that a fixture they fell in love with is now missing that they won’t buy the home,” Hottman says.

Avoid this confusion by replacing anything that won’t be staying with the house before you show it. If that’s not possible, be prepared to leave the prized fixture behind, or negotiate a comparable replacement.

6. Refusing to pay closing costs

So, you’re coming down the home stretch and this deal is almost done. Congratulations! But the buyer asked you to cover their closing costs.

Before you say “no way,” consider it this way: Buyers sometimes roll the amount of those closing costs into their offer. For instance, let’s say your home is listed for $200,000. A buyer might then submit an offer for $204,000, but ask you to cover the $4,000 in closing costs.

“Some sellers will hold firm at the $204,000 offer and refuse to pay the closing costs because they want this higher price the buyer offered,” Hottman says. “Some sellers can’t see the net is nearly identical between a $200,000 offer with no closing costs and $204,000 with $4,000 in seller-paid closing costs, and they miss out.”

A good deal comes down to doing the math, keeping your ego in check, and putting yourself in the buyer’s shoes. After all, when you sell your house, you’ll probably be buying one, too.

Posted by on Nov 3, 2017 in Jim's Take on the Market, Listing Agent Practices, Thinking of Selling?, Tips, Advice & Links, Why You Should List With Jim | 0 comments

Capital-Gains Tax

tax

Examples of capital-gains tax – let’s use this as a marker in case the Trump plan goes through:

Dear Liz: We are in the lowest tax bracket. If we sell a capital gains asset worth several hundred thousand dollars, does that put us in a higher bracket and we pay 20% or do we remain in the lower bracket and pay 15%?

Answer: In the two lowest federal income tax brackets, the capital gains rate is actually zero. For a married couple filing jointly, taxable income below $18,550 in 2016 would put you in the 10% tax bracket, while income between $18,550 and $75,300 would put you in the 15% bracket. Both 10% and 15% income tax brackets pay no federal tax on long-term capital gains.

But capital gains count as income in determining your tax bracket. So a big capital gain can push you into a higher bracket, which means you would pay a higher capital gains rate.

Let’s say your normal taxable income is $75,000. You sell an asset with a $25,000 capital gain. Now you’re in the 25% tax bracket with taxable income between $75,300 and $151,900, which means your long-term capital gains rate will be 15%.

High-income taxpayers – those with taxable income above $466,950 – are in the 39.6 percent federal tax bracket, and pay a 20 percent long-term capital gains rate at the federal level, plus a 3.8% tax (in support of the Affordable Care Act for taxpayers with adjusted gross incomes over $250,000 for married couples and $200,000 for singles). The surtax is applied to the lesser of the taxpayer’s net investment income or the amounts over those limits.

It means a taxpayer at the highest federal tax bracket could pay as much as 37.1 percent — 23.8 percent federal plus 13.3 percent state — on a long-term capital gain in California.

There may be ways to alleviate or spread out the tax hit. You could sell losing investments to offset some or all of the gain. Another option for some assets is to sell a portion at a time over several years, or use an installment sale. A tax pro can walk you through your options.

http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-montalk-20160605-snap-htmlstory.html

Posted by on Oct 22, 2017 in Jim's Take on the Market, Tips, Advice & Links | 12 comments

Reclaimed Wood

From Dwell:

Wood in general is a beautiful, evocative natural material, and when it’s saved from a landfill and reused, it has even more character, history, and sustainability.

Reclaimed wood can be recovered from a wide variety of sources, but it most frequently comes from timber framing and decking used in old barns, factories, and warehouses. Some tell-tale signs of reclaimed wood include nail holes, manufacturer stamps, and markings.

Other unique qualities, like variation and depth of color or unusual patterning, can be a result of it being stored in vessels like wine barrels, beer casks, and other containers. Additionally, reclaimed timber is usually cut from strong, mature trees (unlike the younger, weaker trees used today for lumber), and is less prone to splitting. Because of these aspects, many designers choose to use reclaimed wood rather than virgin timber in their projects.

Here, we take a look at eight different projects that incorporate reclaimed wood in distinct ways:

https://www.dwell.com/article/8-beautiful-home-projects-using-reclaimed-wood-a2e764e1

Here’s where you can find reclaimed wood locally:

http://www.bubbleinfo.com/2015/12/14/timber/

Posted by on Oct 21, 2017 in Jim's Take on the Market, Tips, Advice & Links | 0 comments

Price Reductions

It’s the time of year when we see some price adjustments by agents who have tried everything else, to no avail.  But how much do you need to reduce the price to cause a sale?

Ideally, it needs to be enough to cause buyers who have already seen the house to come back – that’s how you know for sure that the new price is working.

But have you noticed that every price reduction is advertised as ‘Huge’?

Price-Reduction Guide:

‘Huge’ = 10% or more reduction in price.

The minimum effective reduction = 5% reduction.

Typical reduction = 1% to 2%.

Fake reduction = moving the value-range goalposts.

Buyers are already thinking of knocking off more than 1% or 2%, and to be effective, a price reduction needs to create some real urgency in the buyers – to make them think that if they don’t react immediately, somebody else might beat them to it.  The 1% or 2% reductions aren’t enough to create any extra urgency, and as a result, are just throwing money away.

In addition, a new, lower list price will be cross-referenced by the buyers with the days-on-market.  They expect at least one decent price reduction per month to keep them interested.

Want it to work?  Lower your price by an amount that makes you cringe!

Posted by on Oct 20, 2017 in Jim's Take on the Market, Thinking of Selling?, Tips, Advice & Links | 1 comment

San Diego Water-Conservation Rebate

http://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/local/City-To-Offer-Up-To-17000-Rebate-To-Replace-Lawns–450681053.html

The City of San Diego is offering a lawn rebate, $4,250 for residential owners and $17,000 for commercial owners to replace their grass, in an effort to encourage water conservation.

The City’s Public Utilities Department water customers can receive a rebate by removing their water-thirsty grass and installing water-wise material and efficient irrigation systems.

“This rebate will allow customers to become empowered in their efforts to save money on their water bills,” said Halla Razak, Director of Public Utilities.

Applications will be accepted through Oct. 23, 2017. There are limited funds for the rebate, so applications received within the application submission period will be selected through a lottery process until the funding runs out.

Grass lawns are estimated to use up to 44 gallons of water per sq. ft. per year. Water-wise landscapes can use 70 percent less water, the city said.

To apply, click here. 

Customers can also call 619-533-7485 for more information.

Posted by on Oct 13, 2017 in Jim's Take on the Market, Local Flavor, Tips, Advice & Links | 2 comments

Interactive School Map

A new school map from VOSD – the high schools show the percentage of students who scored above 1500 on the SAT:

http://www.voiceofsandiego.org/topics/education/parents-time-to-choose-a-special-map-of-san-diego-schools/

Last year, when California education officials were finalizing a plan to create a new school accountability system, parents and advocates had one big concern: The system wasn’t being set up to help regular families compare and contrast local schools.

Here’s a sampling of coverage and commentary from 2016:

From Edsource: “Parents on Thursday said they needed a simpler way to compare schools and understand how their schools are doing overall.”

From Innovate Public Schools: “Right now, the system makes it very difficult to compare schools, whether you’re a parent trying to find a school for your child or an elected leader trying to figure out which schools in your community need more help to improve.”

From the Union-Tribune editorial board: “(Gov. Jerry) Brown dismissed (Assemblywoman Shirley) Weber’s bill as “unnecessary” and duplicative of efforts of the State Board of Education, which recently adopted its own vague, confusing system to gauge school performance.”

Our staff was frustrated with the limits of the new system, too.

So we created this interactive map that incorporates the state’s data – along with other publicly available info – and presents it in a way that makes it easier to compare and contrast local schools.

San Diego Unified’s school choice window is currently open. It’s the period of time during which parents can apply to send their kids to a school other than the one that’s closest to them. If you’re a parent, explore the map to get a better sense of what each school offers, so you can feel confident you’re making an informed decision.

Posted by on Oct 11, 2017 in Jim's Take on the Market, Local Flavor, Tips, Advice & Links | 0 comments

Kayla’s Trendy Tuesday

Before we get started, I just want to express our sincere condolences to all the victims of the Las Vegas shooting and that they are in our thoughts and prayers. #vegasstrong

Holiday Checklist

Now that fall is here, we need to get your home ready for the holidays! It’s always good to do a maintenance check on your home because lets be honest; it’s hard to find time! But could you imagine, it is Christmas Day and there’s about to be 20+ people coming over and a roof leak occurs?! Yikes!

Hopefully this checklist can help you feel less stress during the holidays!

1. Roof – Take a walk around the house and make sure there are no loose shingles. Check the flashing too! It’s always nice to have a professional do a inspection for those who have old roofs or live in rainy areas.

2. Caulking – This is a pretty critical maintenance action for any homeowner. The main areas to focus on is the top of exposed windows and lights to prevent rainfall from getting in.

3. Gutters – It’s always very important to have this system flowing smoothly. When leaves, dirt, and runoff water stays in your gutters for too long, it not only creates blockage but can also lead to corrosion and rust. Some people like to have mesh guards over their gutters to keep debris out!

4. Plumbing – Water. We need it, yet it can cause major issues to a home! Locate your main water shut off valve and make sure all family members know where it is. It will come in handy to have multiple people know how to shut it off in case of an emergency!

5. Heating and AC System – Time for a seasonal checkup! People forget to change their filters so now would be a good time. You can also adjust your system’s temperatures since we are transitioning from muggy to crisp and refreshing air.

6. Smoke and CO Detectors – Many forget to check, and just wait for the annoying beeps to alert them to a dead battery.  The International Fire Chiefs Association encourages you to change your smoke alarm batteries every November when you set your clocks back for Daylight Savings Time!

7. General Cleanup – There is always lots of cooking during the holidays (duh). But there are also people running their fireplaces. This would be a great time to remove fire hazards, inside and out!  Newspapers, magazines, junk mail, overgrown brush and trees, etc.

8. Thin out your holiday decorations – Some of us like to hoard the old decorations – but are we ever going to use grandma’s old ornaments? Whatever you don’t use, either give away or throw away!

If you want referrals to vendors/contractors to assist with any of these – my mom, Donna, has someone for everything.  Email us at klingerealty@gmail.com.

Posted by on Oct 3, 2017 in About Kayla, Tips, Advice & Links, Trendy Tuesday, Vendors | 0 comments

14 Staging Tips for Smaller Homes

These days it seems like everybody wants a tiny house. But what if your home isn’t adorably tiny? What if it’s just sadly small?

Don’t worry—it’s not your square footage that matters most; it’s how you present it. Even if you’re tight on space, you can fool buyers into thinking things are bigger than they appear—you just have to have some smart tricks up your sleeve. Keep reading for our experts’ savviest and sneakiest tips for seeing big returns on the petite place you currently call home.

1. Throw a reverse housewarming party

The less clutter, the bigger your home will look and feel to potential buyers. To get rid of your unwanted items, throw a party before your first open house, suggests Laura McHolm, co-founder of NorthStar Moving.

“Instead of having your friends bring a gift, have them pick one of your items and take it home with them.”

2. Go down to the bare minimum

Still feel like your home is full of stuff?

“Box up everything you don’t need on a daily basis and anything that’s smaller than a football,” suggests home staging expert Lori Matzke.

Sift through your glass cupboards and built-ins, and clean off your countertops.

“Leaving just the bare minimum will create the feeling of more space,” she says.

That goes for your beloved tchotchkes, too.

“A smaller space tends to favor a more minimalist design, so having all of your collectible figurines on display on the shelves, side and console tables will bring the room in rather than opening it up,” says Bee Heinemann, marketing director and interior decorating expert at Vänt Wall Panels.

3. Take your doors off their hinges

Remove all your interior doors, besides those that lead to bedrooms, bathrooms, and closets, suggests G. Brian Davis, director of education for SparkRental. “The farther the eye can see, the better.”

Read More

Posted by on Sep 11, 2017 in Jim's Take on the Market, Staging, Thinking of Selling?, Tips, Advice & Links, Why You Should List With Jim | 1 comment

The Big Stagnation

 

On the Facebook bubbleinfo, in response to the idea that the bubble won’t be bursting, Matt asked ‘what constitutes the big stagnation when it happens’.

My response:

The Big Stagnation? You’ll know it when you see it.

We used to consider 6 months’ of inventory to be normal, but the new norm is probably 3 months with most of San Diego being 1-2 months today. Rancho Santa Fe is our exception, and has 8 months’ of inventory currently (only because there was a slew of sales last month). I think we can consider stagnation being any market with more than 6 months’ worth of inventory, and/or 100+ average days on market (Avg. DOM in RSF now 129 days).

When the market slows, most of the homes not selling can be explained – bad locations, inferior condition, etc.  Start worrying when you see houses that have it all, including a decent price, not selling.

Other outside influences that might cause the market to stagnate include:

  1. Mortgage rates get back into the 5s. Rates have been under 5% since the end of 2009, which seems like a million miles ago.  Buyers would want to stall their plans for at least six months to see if sellers would compensate by lowering their price.
  2. An occasional bad comp.  This happens today when a lowball sale occurs (usually an inside job), and buyers and sellers wonder if it is real.  Because there is usually scant information about it, the bad comp ends up being a mystery, and we forget after a few months, but another seller has to go first to prove it was an anomaly.
  3. Immigration is halted.  This would have seemed impossible up until a few months ago, but if it happened, we could feel a significant impact on the demand side.
  4. Recession hits locally.  An economic slowdown may not bring more supply right away because those out of work would wait 1-2 years before they believed they couldn’t get another job, and decide to move.  A more immediate impact would be felt on the demand side – we’d be losing buyers right away.

The prime reason for a market stagnation is the resistance that sellers and agents have about lowering their price – they would rather wait and see if it will be different tomorrow.

We might see a 5% or 10% drop without much fanfare, because most every seller around here has gained more than 30% appreciation since 2009 and wouldn’t feel it much.  They might give up a couple of bucks, but if a heavy discount is needed to sell, they will dig in.  It is very likely that the only reason they are selling is to hit the big-money jackpot.

A stagnant market could last for months or years – they tend to last until people subscribe to the fact that price will fix anything!

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Posted by on Sep 2, 2017 in Jim's Take on the Market, Market Conditions, Thinking of Buying?, Thinking of Selling?, Tips, Advice & Links, Why You Should Hire Jim as your Buyer's Agent, Why You Should List With Jim | 2 comments