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Category Archive: ‘Tips, Advice & Links’

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.”

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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

Off-Season Selling

The pricing triangle above demonstrates the importance of an attractive list price.  These percentages are probably cut in half during the off-season, but there are still buyers – I’ve run into two bidding wars this week!

https://www.keepingcurrentmatters.com/2016/02/29/how-to-get-the-most-money-when-selling-your-house/

Excerpted:

Instead of the seller trying to ‘win’ the negotiation with one buyer, they should price it so that demand for the home is maximized. In that way, the seller will not be fighting with a buyer over the price, but instead will have multiple buyers fighting with each other over the house.

Realtor.com, gives this advice:

“Aim to price your property at or just slightly below the going rate. Today’s buyers are highly informed, so if they sense they’re getting a deal, they’re likely to bid up a property that’s slightly underpriced, especially in areas with low inventory.”

Get Good Help!

Posted by on Aug 30, 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

“Why Are You Selling?”

From realtor.com:

http://www.realtor.com/advice/sell/why-are-you-selling/

“Why are you selling your house?” might seem like a perfectly innocent question from home buyers, but watch out—if you’re the home seller they’re asking, this is one of the diciest questions you can answer.

The reason: Pretty much any explanation you give is bound to contain revealing info that these home buyers could use against you, thereby compromising your negotiating power.

So, what’s a bad answer?

Well, there are many, actually, like these doozies below.

  • ‘I got transferred for my job’

This is one of the most common reasons why people sell their house. In fact, 17% of people surveyed by the moving company Allied Van Lines said they’ve been relocated for a job. Nonetheless, revealing this to home buyers could make them think that you’re desperate to sell fast and, in turn, lead them to make a lowball offer.

  • ‘Our family needs a bigger house’

Trading up? Don’t relay that to home buyers. The reason is pretty simple: “You don’t want to give buyers the idea that the house may not be enough room for them, either,” says Crawford. Similarly…

  • ‘Now that our children have left the nest, we’re ready to downsize’

Downsizing makes total sense for empty nesters and retirees, but likewise, you don’t want home buyers to think that your house is too large and difficult to maintain.

  • ‘We need a smaller mortgage payment’

There are a couple of reasons why this response is a bad idea. First, you don’t want to give the impression that the house is too expensive or overpriced. Second, you don’t want home buyers to presume that your finances are in such poor shape that you’d accept a lowball offer. Put simply, “Never discuss your financial situation,” says Beckman.

  • ‘We’ve already bought our next house’

If you want to fetch top dollar for your house, don’t divulge that you’ve already purchased your next home. “It makes the home buyer think that there’s a sense of urgency and that you have to sell quickly,” says Crawford—which is a valid assumption, considering that a lot of people can’t afford to carry two mortgages at once.

  • ‘We want a quieter neighborhood’

Steer clear of saying anything that could paint the neighborhood in a negative light. Even saying that the area is quiet could backfire. “You don’t know what a home buyer wants,” says Beckman. For instance, some people are drawn to areas with a hopping night life (and the noise that entails), or at least a place where the streets aren’t barren by 8 p.m.

  • ‘We need to move closer to our parents to help care for them’

Many people move to be closer to family—and in some cases, it’s out of necessity. However, there’s no need to share that information with home buyers, since this suggests you have to sell your home pronto.

  • ‘My back problems make it too difficult for me to climb the stairs’

A number of home sellers move out of two- or three-story houses for health reasons. However, you don’t want to draw attention to the fact that there are a lot of stairs throughout the home, since it could scare off older home buyers or home buyers with young children.

  • ‘Our utility bills are through the roof’

Energy-efficient home features are all the rage nowadays, which makes sense when you consider that home owners spend on average $1,945 a year on their energy bills. But some home buyers still overlook utility costs when they go house hunting. So, the very last thing you want to do is draw attention to the fact that your gas or electric bills are expensive.

  • ‘The house is too difficult for us to maintain’

No one wants to buy a money pit. So, even if you’re selling a clear fixer-upper, don’t mention maintenance costs to a home buyer. Also avoid talking about repairs that you just never got around to making, like repairing the bathtub caulking, as well as big projects like replacing the 20-year-old water heater—all reasons for home buyers to think twice about making an offer.

Posted by on Aug 29, 2017 in Jim's Take on the Market, Listing Agent Practices, Thinking of Selling?, Tips, Advice & Links, Why You Should List With Jim | 10 comments

Wire Transfers Now Scrutinized

In San Diego, this applies to cash sales over $2,000,000 to LLCs.

Wake up and smell the dirty money.

That’s the message federal regulators are sending to the real estate industry in Miami and other high-priced housing markets.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Treasury Department announced it would extend and expand a temporary initiative designed to uncover criminals laundering money through real estate. The decree targets secretive shell companies — corporations that don’t have to reveal their true owners — buying luxury homes. The feds have already renewed the rules twice since announcing them in January 2016.

But this time, there’s a big difference — and it’s putting Miami’s struggling condo market under even more scrutiny.

The rules, previously so limited in scope that they applied only to a few hundred deals, will now cover every big-ticket cash transaction by shell companies in seven major markets. They are the South Florida counties of Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach; all five boroughs of New York City; San Antonio, Texas; Honolulu (included in the order for the first time); and Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco.

“This is going to gather much more information,” said Andrew Ittleman, a South Florida attorney who specializes in anti-money-laundering laws.

Critics dismissed Treasury’s original anti-money laundering rules — first deployed in Miami-Dade and Manhattan last year — as so narrow that they were practically toothless.

That’s because only less common methods of cash payments such as money orders, personal checks and hard currency had to be reported.

But the latest order includes wire transfers, which are electronic exchanges of money between banks. In most home sales that don’t involve bank loans, money is sent from buyers to sellers through wire transfers. Regulators were missing out on a huge swath of transactions.

“It exempted most people from disclosure,” said Alan Lips, a partner at Miami accounting firm Gerson Preston. “In today’s world, people wire money.”

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/business/real-estate-news/article168915302.html

Posted by on Aug 24, 2017 in Fraud, Jim's Take on the Market, Tips, Advice & Links | 4 comments

Home Unfurnishing

It’s all junk now – do your kids a favor and ditch it while you can! H/T daytrip:

http://www.nextavenue.org/nobody-wants-parents-stuff/

So please forgive the morbidity, but if you’re lucky enough to still have one or more parents or stepparents alive, it would be wise to start figuring out what you’ll do with their furniture, china, crystal, flatware, jewelry, artwork and tchotchkes when the mournful time comes. (I wish I had. My sister and I, forced to act quickly to avoid owing an extra months’ rent on dad’s apartment, hired a hauler to cart away nearly everything we didn’t want or wouldn’t be donating, some of which he said he’d give to charity.)

Many boomers and Gen X’ers charged with disposing the family heirlooms, it seems, are unprepared for the reality and unwilling to face it.

Dining room tables and chairs, end tables and armoires (“brown” pieces) have become furniture non grata. Antiques are antiquated. “Old mahogany stuff from my great aunt’s house is basically worthless,” says Chris Fultz, co-owner of Nova Liquidation, in Luray, Va.

On PBS’s Antiques Roadshow, prices for certain types of period furniture have dropped so much that some episode reruns note current, lower estimated appraisals.

And if you’re thinking your grown children will gladly accept your parents’ items, if only for sentimental reasons, you’re likely in for an unpleasant surprise.

“Young couples starting out don’t want the same things people used to have,” says Susan Devaney, president of NASMM and owner of The Mavins Group, a senior move manager in Westfield, N.J. “They’re not picking out formal china patterns anymore. I have three sons. They don’t want anything of mine. I totally get it.”

Read full article here:

http://www.nextavenue.org/nobody-wants-parents-stuff/

The biggest consignment store in North County:

http://consignmentclassics.net/

Posted by on Aug 12, 2017 in Jim's Take on the Market, Tips, Advice & Links | 9 comments

Trader Joe’s & Starbucks

Here’s some food for thought.

Americans who own homes that are closer to a Trader Joe’s grocery store—as opposed to a Whole Foods or ALDI grocery store—saw higher home price appreciation, according to data from released this week from real estate analytics firm ATTOM Data Solutions. The study looked at 1,275 ZIP codes nationwide with a least one Whole Foods store, one Trader Joe’s store and one ALDI store.

Indeed, homeowners nearest to a Trader Joe’s have seen an average 5-year home price appreciation of 67%, compared to 52% appreciation for homeowners near a Whole Foods and 51% near an ALDI. Average appreciation for all ZIP codes with these grocery stores nationwide is 54%.

Plus, homeowners near a Trader Joe’s also have added equity, owning an average 36% equity in their homes ($232,439), compared to homeowners near Whole Foods, who had an average of 31% equity ($187,925) and homeowners near ALDI, who had an average 18% equity ($46,352). The average equity for all ZIP codes with these grocery stores nationwide is 24%.

While it’s not clear why exactly homeowners near a Trader Joe’s are coming out ahead here, it could be that, while Whole Foods tends to put its stores in more established, affluent neighborhoods, Trader Joes might pick trendier, a little-less-established ones, says Eric Zollinger, the director of sales for Manhattan development 196 Orchard, which is being sold by real estate firm Douglas Elliman and has an Equinox in the building. He notes that while established affluent neighborhoods have seen plenty of home price growth, those that are up-and-coming and super trendy sometimes see even faster home price appreciation.

Read more here:

http://www.realtor.com/news/trends/secret-making-money-real-estate-may-buying-home-near-grocery-store-chain/

 

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Posted by on Aug 4, 2017 in Jim's Take on the Market, Thinking of Buying?, Tips, Advice & Links | 3 comments