Sellers

The Best Paint Color to Sell a Home

Lure potential buyers with a simple and clean palette. Shades of white and off-white are the top colors for a quick home sale, Jody Finglas of Finglas Painting in Ossining, N.Y., told USA Today.

“White is the foundation that anchors the home,” adds Friley Saucier, a broker-associate with Sotheby's International Realty in Naples, Fla. “This is absolutely what is most requested when I’m working with home buyers.”

Finglas says less is more. “We’re seeing a lot of requests for lighter, brighter colors,” he notes.

When working with a white backdrop, the trick is to add in color through the furnishings and accessories, Finglas says. He says selecting the right shade of white paint isn’t easy. “A white kitchen can mean 40 different colors,” Finglas says.

Homeowners should still bring home paint swatches, says Dwayne Bergmann of Dwayne Bergmann Interiors in Fort Myers, Fla.

“Whites can have a more blueish hue or more of a brown or even pinkish hue depending on the exact lighting,” Bergmann says. “Even a pure white is going to look different.”

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Are Home Prices Approaching Bubble Territory?

As home values continue to rise, some are questioning whether we are approaching another housing bubble. Zillow just reported that:

“National home values have surpassed the peak hit during the housing bubble and are at their highest value in more than a decade.”

Though that statement is correct, we must realize that just catching prices of a decade ago does not mean we are at bubble numbers. Here is a graph of median prices as reported by the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

Are Home Prices Approaching Bubble Territory? | MyKCM

We can see that prices rose during the early 2000s, fell during the crash and have risen since 2013.

However, let’s assume there was no housing bubble and crash and that home prices appreciated at normal historic levels (3.6% annually) over the last ten years.

Here is a graph comparing actual price appreciation (tan bars) with what prices would have been with normal appreciation (blue bars).

Are Home Prices Approaching Bubble Territory? | MyKCM

Bottom Line

As we can see, had there not been a boom and bust, home values would essentially be where they are right now.

 

Why Working with a Local Real Estate Professional Makes All the Difference

If you’ve entered the real estate market, as a buyer or a seller, you’ve inevitably heard the real estate mantra, “location, location, location” in reference to how identical homes can increase or decrease in value due to where they’re located. Well, a new survey shows that when it comes to choosing a real estate agent, the millennial generation’s mantra is, “local, local, local.”

CentSai, a financial wellness online community, recently surveyed over 2,000 millennials (ages 18-34) and found that 75% of respondents would use a local real estate agent over an online agent, and 71% would choose a local lender.

Survey respondents cited many reasons for their choice to go local, “including personal touch & handholding, longstanding relationships, local knowledge, and amount of hassle.”

Doria Lavagnino, Cofounder & President of CentSai had this to say:

“We were surprised to learn that online providers are not yet as big a disruptor in this sector as we first thought, despite purported cost savings. We found that millennials place a high value on the personal touch and knowledge of a local agent. Buying a home for the first time is daunting, and working with a local agent—particularly an agent referred by a parent or friend—could provide peace of mind.”

The findings of the CentSai survey are consistent with the Consumer Housing Trends Study, which found that millennials prefer a more hands-on approach to their real estate experience:

“While older generations rely on real estate agents for information and expertise, Millennials expect real estate agents to become trusted advisers and strategic partners.”

When it comes to choosing an agent, millennials and other generations share their top priority: the sense that an agent is trustworthy and responsive to their needs.

That said, technology still plays a huge role in the real estate process. According to the National Association of Realtors, 95% of home buyers look for prospective homes and neighborhoods online, and 91% also said they would use an online site or mobile app to research homes they might consider purchasing.

Bottom Line

Many wondered if this tech-savvy generation would prefer to work with an online agent or lender, but more and more studies show that when it comes to real estate, millennials want someone they can trust, someone who knows the neighborhood they want to move into, leading them through the entire experience.

 

9 Ways to Make Your Home More Photogenic

How photogenic is your home? Perhaps the question has crossed your mind in this snap-happy, hygge-obsessed Instagram era. Whether you are selling your apartment or listing it on Airbnb, a camera-ready home is a must. An inviting photograph can draw in people scrolling through listings online; a messy or disheveled room will quickly turn them off.

To find out how to make your home look as if it belongs in a shelter magazine, we reached out to professional stagers and interiors photographers for their advice. Here are some of their suggestions for creating a picture-perfect home.

CLEAN AND DECLUTTER “Don’t be afraid to strip down 70 percent of what normally lives on any surface,” said Laure Joliet, a Los Angeles-based photographer whose work has been published in The New York Times, Dwell and Domino. “Instead of having lots of little things along a countertop or table, have one bold vessel or large plant, or a trio of objects that read as one whole. This helps anchor the photo and keeps the space feeling serene.

Clear away family photos, plants and knickknacks from the windowsills, coffee table, piano top and other surfaces. In the kitchen, remove towels, refrigerator magnets, sponges, paper towels, dish detergents, mats and most small appliances. Throw the mail piling up on the counter in the junk drawer if you need to. Stray items can be stuffed in a closet, under the bed or even hidden on the side of the room the camera won’t capture. (Of course, if you are planning on having an open house, more intensive measures are in order.) In the bathroom, open the shower curtain, remove all toiletries and wastebaskets, and close the toilet lid. Fold towels in thirds the long way, then fold in half over the towel bar.

LET IN THE LIGHT Wash your windows, open the curtains and pull up the blinds. “Natural light allows for depth in the shadows and highlights in the window, which makes a room look the way it feels,” Ms. Joliet said. “It’s more human and more relatable. Also, because shelter magazines are often shot this way, it can make your real estate photos look that much more high-end and designed.” And if your fireplace is in good working order and the season is right, light it up.

STEAM THE BED “No one wants to look at a wrinkly, unkempt bed,” said Cheryl Eisen, the president of Interior Marketing Group, which specializes in staging and designing luxury real estate. For a crisp-looking bed, Ms. Eisen uses a hand-held steamer to rid the pillows and comforter of any wrinkles. “We typically start with two stacks of two freshly steamed pillows laid flat, with long pillows on the bottom and standard size on top,” said Ms. Eisen, who prefers soft textures and muted colors rather than patterned spreads. “To create the appearance of a wider bed, match the edge of the pillows with the edge of the bed.The pillowcase openings should lie outward.” Center a throw pillow against each stack of pillows and prop it up with a soft karate chop in the middle, she added, “to create a showstopping bed.”

ADD ACCENTS A pop of color in the way of flowers or throw pillows is always welcome. “Instead of a fussy bouquet, a vase filled with one type of flower, or greens, is best,” said Ms. Joliet, who recommends eucalyptus branches. “I think everyone is tired of seeing a bowl of green apples, so try some simple flowers or greens in a vase instead.”

For a perfectly placed throw, “grab the middle of it and hold it up so that the throw cascades evenly down, and then place it diagonally at the foot of the bed, with the point up toward the long side of the bed and the fringes hanging slightly off the front,” said Donna M. Dazzo, president of Designed to Appeal, a home-staging company. “You can also place it on a bench in a bedroom. Use the same trick with holding it in the middle: Lay it across the bench diagonally, so that the pointed tip is on the bench or off the back of the bench, and the fringe is hanging off the lower left corner.” Another option: Drape the throw over the top or across an arm of a chair, she said, tucking the bottom behind a throw pillow or allowing the throw to cascade off the arm.

LOWER THE ARTWORK “We tend to place our art a little bit lower than maybe somebody would in personal use, because in a photo, if you place it too high, the ceiling looks very low,” said David C. Salvatore, creative director for Edge Mid-Century Designs, a staging and vintage furniture company in Clifton, N.J. “Everyone loves high ceilings — and certainly, if you have the ceilings, you need to put in a huge vertical piece” to show off the height.

What if your ceiling is low? Then you should not only hang your art lower, said Rich Fostek, president of Edge Mid-Century Designs, but “use pieces that are more horizontal than vertical.”

CONSIDER YOUR PETS So as not to alienate potential buyers who are allergic to hamsters or do not like dogs, most real estate professionals recommend keeping pets and their accouterments out of photos, no matter how adorable your dog is. But a furry friend can also add an element of fun to an otherwise staid photo. If you decide to include a pet, consider the color of its coat. Some dark-colored pets end up looking like dark blobs on sofas or rugs, depending on light and furnishings. But always hide chew toys, feeding bowls, litter boxes, pet beds and cages.

BOOST THE CURB APPEAL Rake leaves off your lawns, remove any trash or recycling bins from view, and prune overgrown trees, “especially if they obscure the view of the house,” said Alberto Lau, a retired architect with a second career as an architecture, interiors and real estate photographer in San Diego. “Take the cover off the barbecue grill unless it is hopelessly rusty, in which case it’s better to move it off the frame of the photo.”

 

Experts are divided about including pets in photos, but they agree on hiding the toys and food bowls. 

Also, clear any cars from the front of the house and driveway. “If necessary, place cones or signs requesting others not to park in front of the house,” Mr. Lau said. If you live in the city, try to schedule the photo shoot on a day that street cleaning is happening, to reduce the number of cars and trucks in front of your building. And if your house has a pool, be sure to uncover it and turn on any hot-tub jets.

DON’T WORRY ABOUT THE WEATHER “Weather doesn’t matter as much as widely believed,” said Jane Beiles, who specializes in interiors and architectural photography and has been a regular contributor to The New York Times since 2013. “A good photographer will figure out the best shots in any conditions. For example, when I have posted the same pool house on social media, I had just as much positive feedback to the rainy-day image as I did to the classic twilight shot or a sunny daylight shot,” she said.

But too much sun can pose a challenge. “On sunny days, every flaw — whether it be a wall, the floor, every speck of dust — gets more pronounced with harsher light, and is less flattering to the apartment,” said Michael Weinstein, the founder of MW Studio and a real estate photographer for more than 20 years who works with major New York City brokerage firms like Halstead Property and the Corcoran Group. “Oftentimes, I prefer to shoot on cloudy days,” he added, noting that “soft light tends to make the room feel more calm and soothing, and imperfections are less pronounced.”

BRING IN A FRESH EYE “Too often, the worn carpet or scuffs on the walls are invisible to home sellers, because these become part of the house and they don’t even see them anymore,” said Ms. Dazzo of Designed to Appeal, who recommends bringing “an honest friend” in for a walk-through. “I once did a staging consultation and asked the homeowner whether the blue plastic on the foyer ceiling was covering something. She said, ‘What blue plastic?’”

It turned out that the homeowner had covered up a fire alarm years earlier, because it went off every time she cooked. “She came into her home every day and stopped seeing it,” said Ms. Dazzo, who noticed it right away. “How could you not?” she added. “It’s blue!”

 

Check Yourself: 7 Home Maintenance Tasks You Should Tackle in May

We've been fantasizing about it for months, and finally warmer weather has arrived. We know: You just want to fire up the grill and start working on your tan—we do, too! But before you can kick back in your hammock (or in your pool on your giant patriotic bald eagle float, if that's your thing), there are a few tasks you’ll need to tackle.

And you can bet they're all outside.

“The old adage ‘April showers bring May flowers’ rings true and makes May prime time for landscaping and lawn care in most of the country," says Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs for the National Association of Landscape Professionals.

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But it goes beyond gardening and yard work. Now's the last chance to take care of all that winter wear and tear and transform your home's outdoor space into something worthy of the host with the most.

The good news? We're here to make it as quick and easy on you as possible—with our handy checklist of home maintenance chores, you can knock them out and get back to that pool float ASAP. We’ve provided tips for doing each task faster and easier—or with the help of a pro.

1. Inspect brick and stone patios and walkways

Don't let your brick and stone walkways fall through the cracks.

Don't let your brick and stone walkways fall through the cracks.

Task: Freezing temperatures can wreak havoc on hardscape surfaces made of loose (unmortared) brick, stone, and concrete paving materials. Check to see if frost heave and erosion have caused pavers to shift, rise, or sink. You’ll want to fix any unevenness for safety as well as aesthetic reasons.

Shortcuts: Repair hardscape surfaces using a wheelbarrow filled with playground sand and a sturdy trowel. Pry up displaced pavers, smooth and even out the bed with fresh sand, and replace the paver.

Call in the pros: This is a good job for a handyman. Expect to pay $30 to $60 an hour, depending on your location.

2. Feed your lawn

Task: After a wet spring, your lawn might be looking quite rich and lush. Since Mother Nature did the hard work, you can sit back and relax, right? Not so fast. Grass loves nutrients, so now's the time to add high-nitrogen fertilizer to help suppress weeds and keep your lawn looking great all summer.

Shortcuts: A push-powered broadcast spreader makes quick work of fertilizing your lawn. You’ll find spreaders suitable for an average suburban lawn for $35 to $100. If you have a cooking compost pile, you can substitute home-grown compost for commercial fertilizers.

Call in the pros: A lawn care company will spray on a chemical fertilizer for about $40 an application.

3. Repair wood fences and gates

Task: Cycles of cold and wet weather cause wood to move, twist, and warp. That can make garden gates fall out of alignment, and can cause fence pickets to loosen or fall off. Check for signs of loose fencing, and fix sagging gates.

Shortcuts: A cordless battery-powered nail gun ($250) makes quick work of refastening pickets and fence supports. Use only galvanized nails for outdoor work. Use a power drill fitted with a screw tip or a hex driver to remove or tighten loose screws and bolts in gates.

Call in the pros: This is a good job for a handyman. You’ll pay $30 to $60 an hour, depending on your location.

4. Mulch flower and vegetable beds

You'll be mulch happier in the long run if you care for your gardens now.

You'll be mulch happier in the long run if you care for your gardens now.

Task: Prevent evaporation and help keep weeds in check by insulating planting beds with 2 to 4 inches of mulch.

Shortcuts: Set aside a mulching day, and have a landscaping service deliver bulk mulch and dump it where you can get to it easily (like your driveway). Plan on 1 cubic yard of mulch to cover 100 square feet, with mulch 3 inches deep.

Call in the pros: A landscaping service will put in the mulch, but it'll cost you—to the tune of $250 to $560 for 500 square feet, depending on your location.

5. Wash windows

Task: As your yard takes shape and your gardens come into full bloom, you’ll want to see everything clearly. It's time to wash away winter’s dirt and grime from your windows.

Shortcuts: Have a partner clean the outside while you do the inside of the same window. That way, you can identify which side of the glass contains lingering streaks and smudges, and get rid of them on the spot. Plus, who wants to clean alone?

Call in the pros: In addition to cleaning the glass, a professional window washer will remove and clean screens and remove accumulated dirt from sliding tracks for $2 to $7 per window.

6. Get your grill in gear

It's time to get all up in your grill's grill.

It's time to get all up in your grill's grill.

Task: Nobody wants a rack of ribs with last year's grill gunk on them. Before you fire up the ol' barbecue, make sure your grill is clean and that any gas hoses and connections are secure.

Shortcuts: No matter what kind of grill you have, invest in a grill brush or other coarse cleaning brush, remove the grates and metal plates beneath them, and soak them in hot soapy water for five to 10 minutes. Then scrub hard. To rinse, spray them with the hose.

Cover the area where the grates usually go with foil, and use a stiff grill brush to clean grime from the hood and inside walls. Use a cleaner specifically designed for your grill's surface (e.g., stainless steel, porcelain, or cast iron), and reassemble all parts.

Call in the pros: There are professional grill cleaners who will take your barbecue from slimy to spotless, but it will cost you the equivalent of a few porterhouse steaks. This Denver cleaning service offers quotes from $185 to $279.

7. Make sure your AC is cool

Task: Now's your last chance to double-check your air-conditioning unit and make sure it's in good working order before the mercury starts to rise.

Shortcuts: Hook up a garden hose and spray the outside of the condenser to remove any dust that's settled on the unit and connections. (Yes, dust can affect your AC's effectiveness.) Don’t use a brush, and be careful if pressure washing—you could damage or bend the fins. Make sure to change the filter, too.

Call in the pros: Having a pro service your AC system costs $100 to $250 and includes cleaning the condenser and lubricating the fan motor.

The Importance of Using a Professional to Sell Your Home

When a homeowner decides to sell their house, they obviously want the best possible price for it with the least amount of hassles along the way. However, for the vast majority of sellers, the most important result is actually getting their homes sold.

In order to accomplish all three goals, a seller should realize the importance of using a real estate professional. We realize that technology has changed the purchaser’s behavior during the home buying process. According to the National Association of Realtors’ 2016 Profile of Home Buyers & Sellers, the percentage of buyers who used the internet in their home search increased to 94%.

However, the report also revealed that 96% of buyers who used the internet when searching for homes purchased their homes through either a real estate agent/broker or from a builder or builder’s agent. Only 2% purchased their homes directly from a seller whom the buyer didn’t know.

Buyers search for a home online but then depend on an agent to find the home they will buy (50%), to negotiate the terms of the sale (47%) & price (36%), or to help understand the process (61%).

The plethora of information now available has resulted in an increase in the percentage of buyers that reach out to real estate professionals to “connect the dots.” This is obvious, as the percentage of overall buyers who have used agents to buy their homes has steadily increased from 69% in 2001.

Bottom Line

If you are thinking of selling your home, don’t underestimate the role a real estate professional can play in the process.

 

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Mortgage Interest Rates Went Up | Market Update March 2017

March 14, 2017

The spring market is off to a very strong start this year in the communities North of Boston, MA.  The uncertainty of mortgage rates are causing many buyers to feel a high level of urgency. While it is a sellers market, depending on the type of home, location and price point, the level of demand can vary greatly.  Many homes are selling within days, while others a few weeks. Some homes are receiving a few offers selling for close to asking and others  are getting 15+, selling for tens of thousands over.

If you are in the market to move in the Suburbs North of Boston, call us to today to make sense of this crazy market.   For sellers, pricing, preparation, strategy, and understanding the nuances of navigating a bidding war is critical for taking advantage of this market to get top dollar.  For buyers, this market can be extremely frustrating!   it is crucial to understand the market climate you are in. It is just as important to understand strategies on getting an offer accepted in a bidding war as well as knowing when it is unnecessary to outbid yourself, and over pay by thousands, when you arent competing with other buyers.

 

 

 

Mortgage Interest Rates Went Up Again… Should I Wait to Buy?

Mortgage interest rates, as reported by Freddie Mac, have increased over the last several weeksFreddie Mac, along with Fannie Mae, the Mortgage Bankers Association and the National Association of Realtors, is calling for mortgage rates to continue to rise over the next four quarters.

This has caused some purchasers to lament the fact they may no longer be able to get a rate below 4%. However, we must realize that current rates are still at historic lows.

Here is a chart showing the average mortgage interest rate over the last several decades.

Bottom Line

Though you may have missed getting the lowest mortgage rate ever offered, you can still get a better interest rate than your older brother or sister did ten years ago, a lower rate than your parents did twenty years ago, and a better rate than your grandparents did forty years ago.

The Best Smoke Detectors for Your Home and the Worst

The Best Smoke Detector for a Home, and the Worst: Which Do You Have?

First the good news: After decades of public education by firefighters and other community groups, Americans have finally gotten the memo that smoke detectors are a good thing. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, 96% of homes in the U.S. have at least one smoke detector to alert residents to a fire on the premises. Now the bad news: There are actually two types of smoke detectors, and the most popular one is actually the less effective. So which one’s the best smoke detector for your home? Here are the facts on these two main types of smoke detectors—ionization and photoelectric—and how you can use them to keep your home safe.

Ionization smoke detector

Ionization alarms use a small bit of radioactive material to detect the incinerated particles that make up smoke. They’re also the most common—the National Fire Protection Association found that 90% of all the smoke detectors in the U.S. are this type.

The problem? Ionization smoke detectors are sluggish at detecting slow-burning or smoldering fires, such as those caused by the most common types of fire starters—namely cigarettes, frayed electrical wires, and fireplace embers. By the time an ionization alarm activates, smoke and carbon monoxide levels have likely built up sufficiently to disorient you and make you unable to escape your home.

Joseph Fleming, a deputy fire chief at the Boston Fire Department, says as many as 30,000 people in the U.S. have died in fires since 1990 because their homes were equipped only with ionization detectors.

So why, then, do ionization alarms get placed in homes? For one, they’re cheaper—typically half the price of a photoelectric smoke detector—and the battery on an ionization alarm tends to last longer.

Just beware: Since ionization alarms have such a high false-alarm rate—they can be triggered by cooking or even showering—many people disconnect or “shush” their ionization alarms. If you do, be sure to turn them back on!

Photoelectric smoke detector

A photoelectric smoke detector uses a beam of light to detect smoke particles. And although these detectors are twice as expensive as ionization alarms (it’s no wonder they’re less popular), data from the National Institute of Standards and Technology has found that photoelectric alarms can detect smoke 20 to 50 minutes faster—that’s a significant head start!

Photoelectric alarms are considered the best way to protect your family from fire. In fact, in 2008 the International Association of Fire Fighters recommended that photoelectric alarms be the only type of device installed; several states, including Massachusetts, Vermont, and Maine, require photoelectric alarms in new residential construction.

As for the home you’re currently in, experts recommend you invest in photoelectric smoke alarms in bedrooms and hallways, and leave the ionization smoke alarms in the kitchen, if at all. And ideally you’ll want your alarms to be hard-wired so they don’t rely on battery power (61% of homes have smoke detectors that work only on battery power). Hard-wiring also allows for the devices to be interconnected so that if one detector goes off, they all do (just 25% of homes have interconnected smoke alarms, even though new homes have been required to have them since 1976).

And don’t forget about carbon monoxide detectors

In addition to smoke detectors, all homes should have separate detectors for carbon monoxide—an odorless gas emitted by furnaces, stoves, grills, and other appliances that burn fuel. Carbon monoxide is the leading cause of accidental poisoning, causing about 400 deaths a year.

Where Are the Home Prices Heading in the Next 5 Years?

 

Today, many real estate conversations center on housing prices and where they may be headed. That is why we like the Home Price Expectation Survey.

Every quarter, Pulsenomics surveys a nationwide panel of over one hundred economists, real estate experts, and investment & market strategists about where they believe prices are headed over the next five years. They then average the projections of all 100+ experts into a single number.

The results of their latest survey:

Home values will appreciate by 4.4% over the course of 2017, 3.4% in 2018, 2.8% in 2019, 2.7% in 2020, and 2.8% in 2021. That means the average annual appreciation will be 3.22% over the next 5 years.

Where Are the Home Prices Heading in the Next 5 Years? | MyKCM

The prediction for cumulative appreciation fell from 21.4% to 17.3% by 2021. The experts making up the most bearish quartile of the survey are projecting a cumulative appreciation of 6.3%.

Where Are the Home Prices Heading in the Next 5 Years? | MyKCM

Bottom Line

Individual opinions make headlines. We believe this survey is a fairer depiction of future values.

 

 

Tips for Preparing Your House For Sale

Highlights:

  • When listing your house for sale your top goal will be to get the home sold for the best price possible!
  • There are many small projects that you can do to ensure this happens!
  • Your real estate agent will have a list of specific suggestions for getting your house ready for market and is a great resource for finding local contractors who can help.

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