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Oct. 16, 2017

Spend the Day in Livingston

Visit this quintessential western town and embrace the great restaurants, lively downtown and unique museums.

Eats:

Gil's Goods:  Part of the historic Murray Hotel block, this is my favorite stop for lunch or an amazing wood-fired pizza.  Order at the counter and sit with the locals and visitors.  Their desserts are stellar also!

Neptune's Brewery: Livingston is a long way from the sea where Neptune dwelled, but we can dream can't we?  Try their mussels or salmon croquette paired with a libation from their beer menu.

Rib and Chop HouseThis regional chain never fails to impress, and while those of us in Bozeman wait patiently for one to open here, we will brave the pass in the worst weather to get to this restaurant.  A great lunch and dinner menu, great atmosphere and excellent service are worth the drive!

Where to go:

Visit the Depot:  Built in 1902, it was Northern Pacific Railroad's original access to Yellowstone until 1979, when passenger service to southern Montana was suspending.  It was donated to the City of Livingston in 1985 by Burlington Northern.  Shortly thereafter, an $800,000 restoration introduced the depot as a museum, providing historic exhibits and cultural programs for residents and visitors from around the world.

Yellowstone Gateway Museum: Built in 1907, formerly the North Side School, the museum was purchased by Park County and community members in 1977.  It houses more than 50,000 historical items, such as photographs, books, audio-visual materials and oral histories dating from over 12,000 years ago to present day.

Head to Chico Hot Springs: Between Livingston and Yellowstone is historic Chico Hot Springs, offering dining, live entertainment, lodging and of course the two open-air mineral hot springs pools.  Open year round!  If you haven't hit the hot springs during a snowstorm you haven't lived!

 

Like what you see?  If you are considering Livingston for your next home purchase, check out the latest listings here.

 

 

Posted in Living in Montana
Sept. 24, 2017

Southwestern Montana Ski Season is Coming!

Ski season approaches!  Here are all of the opening dates for nearby resorts:

BRIDGER BOWL – 15795 Bridger Canyon Rd, Bozeman

BIG SKY RESORT – Big Sky, Montana

DISCOVERY SKI AREA – 180 Discovery Basin Rd, Anaconda

BLACKTAIL MOUNTAIN – 3990 Blacktail Rd, Lakeside, MT

GREAT DIVIDE – 7385 Belmont Dr, Marysville

  • skigd.com
  •  Great Divide is known for being the first ski area in Montana to open each year.
  • Oct 23… Snowmaking begins

LOST TRAIL/POWDER MOUNTAIN – 9485 US-93, Sula

  • losttrail.com
  • Opening Day – Snow Dependent (2016 was Dec. 8th)

MAVERICK MOUNTAIN – 1600 Maverick Mountain Rd, Polaris

Aug. 3, 2017

Where to Watch the August Total Eclipse in Montana

August 21st, it's coming! Though Montana isn't in the direct path, there are some places to view it in southwestern Montana.  We will be able to view 92% of the sun blocked by the moon during the eclipse. 93% in Billings  That's still pretty good!  

For Montanans, the best viewing time will be around 11:30 a.m the 21st. Just make sure to wear protective eye wear!

We have so much open space here, this is a great time to take the afternoon off and hike out to a great spot.  Here are a few:

Stone Creek Trailhead

Jackson Creek Trailhead

Johnson Canyon Trailhead

Natural Bridge Falls Picnic Area

Spanish Creek Picnic Area

 

For more spots, visit Receation.gov.

 

 

July 18, 2017

3 Reasons You Shouldn't Do For Sale By Owner

(Even in our hot market)*

In today’s market, with home prices rising and a lack of inventory, some homeowners may consider trying to sell their homes on their own, known in the industry as a For Sale by Owner (FSBO). There are several reasons why this might not be a good idea for the vast majority of sellers.

Here are the top five reasons:

1. Exposure to Prospective Buyers 

Recent studies have shown that 94% of buyers search online for a home. That is in comparison to only 16% looking at print newspaper ads. Most real estate agents have an internet strategy to promote the sale of your home. Do you?

2. Results Come from the Internet

Where did buyers find the homes they actually purchased?

  • 51% on the internet
  • 34% from a Real Estate Agent
  • 8% from a yard sign
  • 1% from newspapers

The days of selling your house by just putting up a sign and putting it in the paper are long gone. Having a strong internet strategy is crucial.

3. There Are Too Many People to Negotiate With 

Here is a list of some of the people with whom you must be prepared to negotiate if you decide to For Sale by Owner:

  • The buyer who wants the best deal possible
  • The buyer’s agent who solely represents the best interest of the buyer
  • The buyer’s attorney (in some parts of the country)
  • The home inspection companies, which work for the buyer and will almost always find some problems with the house
  • The appraiser if there is a question of value

4. FSBOing Has Become More And More Difficult

The paperwork involved in selling and buying a home has increased dramatically as industry disclosures and regulations have become mandatory. This is one of the reasons that the percentage of people FSBOing has dropped from 19% to 8% over the last 20+ years. 

The 8% share represents the lowest recorded figure since NAR began collecting data in 1981.

5. You Net More Money When Using an Agent 

Many homeowners believe that they will save the real estate commission by selling on their own. Realize that the main reason buyers look at FSBOs is because they also believe they can save the real estate agent’s commission. The seller and buyer can’t both save the commission.

Studies have shown that the typical house sold by the homeowner sells for $185,000, while the typical house sold by an agent sells for $245,000. This doesn’t mean that an agent can get $60,000 more for your home, as studies have shown that people are more likely to FSBO in markets with lower price points. However, it does show that selling on your own might not make sense.

Bottom Line

Before you decide to take on the challenges of selling your house on your own, sit with a real estate professional (hi there :) in your marketplace and see what they have to offer.  We'd love the chance to share how we can help you sell your home.

 

 

 

 

____________

*originally published in Keeping Current Matters July 10, 2017

June 7, 2017

What’s Your Home Buying Power?

 

If you’re in the market for a new home or investment property, one of the first questions you’ll probably ask is, “What can we afford?” Many buyers become so caught up in how much they can afford that they don’t realize their total buying powerthat is, the total amount of purchasing potential they actually have.

 

Buying Power Defined

Your buying power is comprised of the total amount of money you have available each month for a mortgage payment. This means the money you have each month after fixed bills and expenses. Any money you’ve saved for a down payment, the proceeds from the sale of your current home, if applicable, and the amount of money you’re qualified to borrow all impact your buying power as well. When you take all of this into account, you may find you are able to purchase a larger home or a home in a more desirable neighborhood, or you might realize you should be looking for homes in a lower price range.

 

What About Housing Affordability?

Housing affordability is a metric used by real estate experts to assess whether or not the average family earning an average wage could qualify for a mortgage on the average home.1 Although this figure is essential to creating a comprehensive overview of the real estate market, it’s not a factor you should consider in your home search. What may be considered affordable to you based on your income and other factors may be different than what’s affordable to the average buyer.

 

Why Buying Power Matters

A common misunderstanding is that a home’s list price determines whether or not you can purchase it. Although it’s important to look at the price tag, it’s essential to consider what your monthly payment will be if you own the home. After all, the purchase price doesn’t include the housing-related expenses, such as annual property taxes, homeowner insurance, associated monthly fees and any maintenance or repairs. Figuring out the payment will prevent you from overestimating or underestimating your buying power. After all, you’ll live with your monthly payment, not the sales price.

 

Once you have clarity on your buying power, you’ll be able to buy the home you want, instead of settling for a home because you feel it’s the only one you can afford. It will also prevent you from becoming “house poor,” a common term for someone who’s put all their money toward the down payment, leaving them nothing left over for fees outside of their monthly house payment. Both scenarios can negatively impact the lifestyle you want to live. Understanding your buying power can help you get the home you want without sacrificing the lifestyle you desire.

 

If you haven’t sold your current home yet, a Comparative Market Assessment (CMA) will give you a general idea of how much you may get for your home based on what other homes have sold for in your area. Contact our team for a FREE CMA!

 

Calculating Your Buying Power

You might be wondering, “How do I know what my buying power is?” Buying power is calculated by adding the money you’ve saved for a down payment and/or the money you made from selling your home (minus fees and mortgage payoff) to all of your sources of income and investments that could be used to make your monthly payment. Make sure to include your monthly pay, commissions or tips, dividends from investments, payments from rental properties or other monthly income you receive as well as the loan amount you’re willing to finance and qualify for.

 

Most lenders advised buyers to spend no more than 35 to 45 percent of their pretax income on housing, meaning all your income and sources of revenue prior to paying taxes. Make sure you factor in not only your mortgage payment, but also property tax and home insurance to the cost of housing.2 However, other financial experts advise spending no more than a very conservative 25 percent of your after-tax income on your housing expenses.2  Whether you plan to spend the average, play it conservative or split the difference is up to you. There are programs with different parameters, but this is a good general guide to start with.

 

Traditionally, mortgage lenders have targeted the ideal housing expense amount to be a ratio of 28 percent or less.3

 

However, these figures bring up an important point: you don’t have to spend all of your savings and available monthly income on a mortgage payment. It’s important to set money aside for regular home maintenance, unexpected repairs and monthly fees, such as a condominium or homeowners association fee. While the above ratios are commonly accepted, a lender will look at your total financial picture when they decide how much they’re willing to lend. It may be tempting to take out a large loan in order to purchase the home of your dreams, but keep in mind the less money you have to borrow, the stronger your buying power may be.

 

4 Things That Impact Buying Power

1. Credit score. A great score can help you lock into a lower interest rate.

 

2. Debt-to-income ratio. The lower the ratio, the better risk you may be to lenders as long as you have an established credit history.

 

3. Assets, including the documentation of where the money for the purchase is coming from and the mix of your investments.

 

4. Down payment. The more you’re able to put down, the less you will have to borrow. With a down payment of 20 percent or more, you won’t have to purchase private mortgage insurance (PMI) and you may also be able to negotiate a lower interest rate.

 

How to Save for a Down Payment

If you’re thinking of buying a home one day, one of the first steps to take is to start saving for a down payment. Here are some tips to make saving easier.

 

First-time buyers:

1. Set a savings goal. One way to figure out how much to save is to use the average sales price for homes that are similar to what you want and figure out your target down payment percentage. For example, if homes are selling for $200,000 in your area and you want to put 20 percent down, you’ll have to save $40,000. Set a goal to save that amount within a specific time frame; just keep in mind the longer you save, the more the average selling price will change. Although the majority of buyers saved for six months or less, 29 percent of all buyers (and 31 percent of first-time buyers) saved for more than two years for a down payment.4

 

2. Cut back on expenses. Review your monthly expenses and look for ways to save. Twenty-nine percent of buyers cut spending on non-essentials items and 22 percent cut spending on entertainment while they were saving for a home.4 Think about items you can live without or cut back on temporarily while you’re saving.

 

3. Look for ways to boost your income. Get a side job or sell items online or at a garage sale to increase your income in a short amount of time. Be sure to save any windfalls you get, including your annual income tax refund or work bonuses.

 

4.  Check out home-buying programs. Your state, county or local government may offer special programs, such as grants, for first-time buyers to use.

 

5. Ask your family. Thirteen percent of all buyers, and 24 percent of first-time buyers, were given money from family or friends to use toward the down payment of their home.4

 

Repeat buyers:

More than 52 percent of repeat buyers used the proceeds from the sale of their primary residence toward the down payment on their next home.4 Similarly, 76 percent tapped into their savings accounts.4 If you’re thinking of buying another home, here are more ways to save more money, in addition to the tips listed above:

 

1. Rent a room. If you have an income flat (or mother-in-law unit) attached to your home, rent it out and channel the income into a high-interest savings account.

 

2. Make your money work for you. If you don’t plan to buy for at least five years, invest it and let the compound interest work for you. Discuss this option with your financial planner or broker to see if this is ideal for you and your goals.

 

3. Tap into your 401(k). If you have a 401(k) plan, you may be allowed to borrow a portion of it, the lessor of up to $50,000 or half of its value, for your down payment. Remember, it’s a loan so you’ll have to pay it back. If you leave or lose your job before you’ve repaid the loan, you’ll have between 60 to 90 days to repay the balance or face stiff taxes and penalties.

 

If you want to buy an investment property

Whether you’re buying a second home or a rental property, here are a couple tips to save for a down payment.

 

1. Tap into your equity. If you’ve paid off or paid down your mortgage on your primary home, you may be able to tap into your equity to purchase another property. Contact your lender to learn more about a HELOC or home equity loan.

 

2. Get a partner. Find a friend or relative who’s willing to purchase property with you. Typically, you’ll split the costs and profits equally. Just make sure to work with an attorney to create a partnership agreement to fit your situation.

 

 

Work Out Your Buying Potential

What’s your buying potential? Fill out this worksheet to get an estimate.

 

Housing Expense Ratio:

1. Monthly income before taxes

$

2. Multiply line 1 by 0.28

X 0.28

3. Monthly mortgage payment (PITI) should not exceed this amount

= $

4. Monthly income before taxes

$

5. Multiply line 4 by 0.36

X 0.36

6. Total monthly payments on all debts (including mortgage) should not exceed this amount

= $

7.  Subtract the total monthly payments on all outstanding debts (e.g., car loans, credit cards, student loans, etc.)

- $

8. The monthly mortgage payment should not exceed this amount

$

9. Look at line 3 and line 8. The lower figure is an estimate of the maximum mortgage payment in consideration of your income and debts.

$

10. Multiply line 9 by 0.80

X 0.80

11. This equals portion of your mortgage payment that is the principal and interest only

$

12. Use the table below to see the size of the loan you may be able to obtain with this monthly mortgage payment.

 

Source: Iowa State University Extension, What is your house-buying power?

 

Monthly Payment on 30-Year Fixed Rate Mortgage

Loan amount

3%

3.5%

4%

4.5%

5%

5.5%

6%

$50,000

211

225

239

253

268

284

300

$75,000

316

337

358

380

402

426

450

$100,000

421

449

477

506

536

568

600

$150,000

632

674

716

759

804

852

900

$200,000

842

898

954

1012

1072

1136

1200

$250,000

1052

1123

1193

1265

1340

1420

1500

$300,000

1263

1347

1431

1518

1608

1704

1800

 

Didn’t see your desired loan amount? Use the table below to estimate your monthly payment (principal and interest) per $1,000 of your loan. To figure out an estimated loan payment, multiply the factor by the number of thousands in the amount of your mortgage.

 

For example, if you intend to borrow $400,000, with a loan term of 30 years at 4% interest, multiply 4.77x 400 = $1908 per month.

 

Interest Rate

15-Year Term

30-Year Term

 

Monthly Payment

Monthly Payment

3%

6.90

4.21

3.5%

7.14

4.49

4%

7.39

4.77

4.5%

7.64

5.06

5%

7.90

5.36

5.5%

8.18

5.68

6%

8.44

6.00

Source: HSH.com http://www.hsh.com/mopaytable-print.html)

 

Don’t forget to factor in property taxes and insurance. These are often added to your principal and interest of your mortgage paymentthe money used to pay down the balance of your loan and the charge for borrowing the money. Since these numbers vary, contact your county assessor’s office for the current property tax rate and your insurer for a home insurance quote. Once you have these figures, divide each by 12 to estimate how much they’ll add to the above payment amounts.

 

Do you want a clearer picture of your buying power? Would you like to see what kind of homes you can get with your buying power? Give us a call!

 

Sources: 1. National Association of REALTORS https://www.nar.realtor/topics/housing-affordability-index/methodology

                2. Moneyunder30.com https://www.moneyunder30.com/percentage-income-mortgage-payments

                3. Credit.com https://www.credit.com/loans/mortgage-questions/how-to-determine-your-monthly-housing-budget/

                4. National Association of REALTORS, 2016 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers

                5. Iowa State University Extension, What is your house-buying power? https://store.extension.iastate.edu/product/pm1460-pdf

                6. HSH.com http://www.hsh.com/mopaytable-print.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 15, 2017

Top 5 Home Design Trends of 2017

The current trends are all about utilizing rich color, maximizing texture and creating comfortable interiors you can’t wait to relax in. Use these trends to get inspired to makeover your home’s interiors and create spaces you love that also appeal to your personal style. Remember, if you plan to sell in the next few years, you may want to avoid doing anything dramatic and instead incorporate small changes that would appeal to buyers.

 

Why are these trends gaining popularity?

The underlying theme of these trends is creating a home environment you love; one that appeals to your emotions and feels like a retreat from the stresses of the world. Although the home is a place where you can relax and spend time with loved ones, work expectations are beginning to blur the line between work and home. Even if people don’t work from home specifically, many are stretching their work hours into their evenings and weekends to complete work projects.

 

It’s no wonder the Nordic concept of hygge (most often pronounced “hoo-gah”) has become a hot trend. A centuries-old concept, incorporating hygge in the home means creating simple and comfortable spaces that make you feel cozy and safe and appeal to your senses.1 The emphasis is on simplicity and fostering positive experiences, whether you’re spending time with family, reading a good book or catching up on work emails. 

For more on creating inviting spaces, check out one of my favorite design books Patterns of Home:  the 10 Essentials of Enduring Design.

 

WARM AND RICH COLORS.

Whether you want to play with a bold color or stick with neutrals, one thing is clear—paint is the foundation of a great design. Painting your interiors has a return on investment of about 75 percent and is a relatively inexpensive project to complete, costing between $25 to $100 for paint alone.2 If you’re thinking of refreshing your home’s interiors with a coat of paint, popular colors include warm taupe, fresh green and dark tones. These colors are popular choices because they evoke feeling of warmth and coziness when you walk into a room.

 

Wondering how to pair these colors? Taupe is the perfect alternative to traditional neutrals, such as gray and white, and goes well with cool blues, earthy greens and deep shades of wine.  Green goes well with other earthy shades, such as copper and moss, as well as deep plum and bright pink. If you’re hesitant to paint your walls green, incorporate it into your home by way of accent pillows, rugs, lamps, vases and other accessories or add a few house plants.       

         

If you’re interested in adding more drama to a room, include bold, dark colors.  Dark shades add color and sophistication to any space. Plum and dark gray pair well with pale blues, warm whites and light gray.

 

Try one of these Colors of the Year:

 

Poised Taupe – Sherwin Williams

            Greenery - Pantone

Shadow – Benjamin Moore

 

RICH MATERIALS.

Lux materials create a space in which you can’t wait to kick off your shoes and relax at the end of the day. The Danes use a mixture of materials and pattern as a way of adding character and interest; however the overall look still needs to adhere to a color palette to prevent it from looking distracting.

 

Natural materials and textures allow you to maximize the comfort of the bedroom, living room or family room. Wood accents give rooms an earthy feel. Incorporate rustic wood sculptures, trays and furniture into your space. Choose furniture made with sustainably harvested wood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or use reclaimed wood for an environmentally friendly alternative.

 

If natural elements aren’t your style, but you want to add more visual interest to your room, try mixing patterns. Although it may have been avoided in the past, mixing stripes, florals and geometric prints actually help ground a space as long as the patterns feature complimentary colors or different shades of one color. If you’re worried about going overboard and making your room look “busy,” focus your mix in one area of the room. For example, add throw pillows in a variety of patterns to your sofa.

 

GOING GREEN.

According to a recent study from the American Psychological Association, people are more stressed than ever, with 24 percent of adults reporting they’re experiencing “extreme stress.”3

Top sources of stress include work and money. By incorporating small changes, like making your house more energy efficient, you can start to lower your bills and get back to relaxing and enjoying life like the Danish do (who consistently top the polls as the happiest people).

 

Save money on your energy bills by sealing the “envelope” of your home, which includes the windows and doors, walls, floor and roof. The better insulated your home is, the less heat will escape and the lower your energy bill (and stress level) will be.

  

The most heat loss occurs through the walls of the home: up to 35 percent of heat loss, to be exact.4 Ceramic insulating paint is a space-inspired coating of paint mixed with ceramic compounds and applied to interior or exterior surfaces. It seals your walls and prevents heat from escaping, which means reduced energy bills all year long.

 

THE FUNCTIONAL HOME OFFICE.

Twenty-four percent of employed people do some or all of their work at home.5 Since more people are working remotely than ever, home offices are becoming more popular. Even if you don’t plan on working from home, a home office gives you a place to pay bills, work on personal projects, plan your family’s schedule and more. Home offices tend to be multifunctional, serving as a guest room when family and friends visit, and have the potential to meet other needs that arise.

 

The key idea behind hygge is to enjoy the environment around you and for each room to be a sanctuary to sink into at any given moment. Your home office is no exception! Maximize your productivity, efficiency and focus by painting the walls shades of green or blue.6 If space is an issue, create a nook by installing docking and tech cabinets that are big enough to store a printer and other small office equipment and files without taking over the room.

 

If you don’t have room in your home for an office, look no further than your backyard. Shedquarters, small structures or sheds built in the backyard for use as an office or home-based business, are an attractive option for homeowners who don’t have a room to dedicate to an office and don’t wish to add on their homes. while the jury is out on how much value these structure add to a home, they can convert easily into a storage shed if you plan to sell in the future.

         

SPLURGING ON KITCHEN RENOVATIONS.

The kitchen is often the busiest, most hectic room in the house and one of the top renovation projects with a high return on investment.7 We do more than cook meals there; it’s where homework is done, bills are paid, weeks are planned and more.

 

Kitchen remodels consistently show a respectable return on investment. According to the 2017 Cost vs Value Report from Remodeling magazine, a minor kitchen remodel touts an 80.2 percent return on investment.8 You don’t need to overhaul your entire kitchen to make it more hygge. Smaller additions can transform it into a relaxing and functional space you enjoy spending time with friends and family in.

 

What does a “minor kitchen renovation” entail? In addition to replacing the fronts of your cabinets and drawers, it also includes replacing out-of-date appliances and fixtures. You may also consider replacing countertops. Quartz and quartzite are becoming more common as are other green laminate options, including ones that mimic stone, wood and concrete. Laminates install in less time, often over the existing countertop, make it an ideal choice for busy homeowners as well. Other hot kitchen trends include incorporating sustainable materials like bamboo into your countertops and floors and water filtration systems.

                

Want to improve the look and feel of your home’s interior? Are you thinking of upgrading to a home that better fits your changing needs? Call us—we’d love to help you achieve all of your home-related dreams.

 

Sources:  1. Time, Hygge, the Nordic Trend That Could Help You Survive 2016

                2. Quality Smith

                3. American Psychological Association, 2015 Stress in America

4.  Department of Energy

5. Department of Labor

                6. Entrepreneur, How the Color of Your Office Impacts Productivity

                7. Realtor.com

 

                8. Remodeling Magazine, 2017

April 19, 2017

555 Mary Road Open House Sunday 11-1 PM

Description:

This home checks all your boxes:

  • Chef's kitchen
  • Breakfast nook with deck access
  • Formal dining room
  • Laundry room with storage and shelving
  • Large garage with separate utility garage
  • Hardwood floors
  • Office/den with mountain views
  • Two master suites, one on main level
  • Private hot tub
  • Sunroom
  • Attached guest quarters with full kitchen and separate entrance
  • Views of the Bridgers
  • Close to everything Bozeman has to offer

Join Windermere Bozeman - Downtown this Sunday from 11-1 PM for our open house.

 

April 6, 2017

Increase Your Home’s Value Up to 28% with These 5 Tips

increase your home value

Great curb appeal not only makes your home the star of the neighborhood, it can also improve its value and help you sell it for more. Whether you’re thinking of listing your home or just want to make your home the envy of your neighbors, here are several ways to increase your home’s curb appeal.

 

1. Make your home’s exterior look like new.

For many potential buyers, the condition of the exterior of a home can offer clues to the condition of the interior. The first place to start when boosting curb appeal is the exterior of your house.

 

Paint. Paint is the best way to make your home appear newer. While you can paint your home yourself, if it’s large or more than one story, consider hiring a professional. Painting is a fairly inexpensive improvement with between 60 to 100 percent return on investment.1

 

Maintain your siding. Over time, weather and the elements can make your home’s siding appear dull and dirty. Use a pressure washer to clean stains, spider webs and accumulated dirt and grime, or use a soft cloth and a household cleaner to get into those small nooks and spaces. Although the average life expectancy of siding ranges from 60 to 100 years, depending on the material, extreme weather may reduce this number. If you need to replace the siding, you’ll enjoy a 77 percent return on investment.1

 

Paint or replace garage doors. If your garage doors are in good condition, give them a new coat of paint. If they’re beginning to show their age, consider replacing them. Not only are new garage doors more energy efficient and better insulated than older models, they also have a 91.5 percent return on investment.1

 

Maintain your fence. Replace rotted or worn posts and panels and freshen it up with a coat of paint. If you have a hedge that serves as your property’s border, keep it trimmed and in good shape.

 

2. Pay attention to the small details.

The small details tie your home’s exterior together and help it stand out from others in the neighborhood.

 

Paint front door, trim and shutters. This inexpensive improvement adds brightness to a home, whether you choose a bold color, a neutral tone or classic white.

 

Install new door fixtures and be sure they match in style and finish and complement the style of your home.

 

Update your house numbers. Make sure potential buyers and guests can find your home. If the numbers have faded or need an update, replace them. If choosing a metallic finish, make sure it matches the finish of your exterior light fixtures.

 

3. Tend to your driveway and lawn.

Well-landscaped homes may sell for between 5.5% and 12.7% more than other similar homes and studies show it may also add up to 28 percent to your home’s overall value.5 

 

Place a border along your driveway or walkway made of brick, stone, pavers or another hardscape element to add visual interest to a plain driveway.

           

Maintain your green space. If you have grass, a well-maintained, green lawn makes your home look inviting and picturesque. However, in many parts of the country, water conservation is becoming more important. Xeriscaped landscapes incorporate drought-tolerant vegetation that thrives in warm, dry climates, such as lavender, sage, wisteria and agave, with water-saving drip irrigation and mulch. Xeriscaping has a cost savings of 36 cents per square foot annually through reduced irrigation and maintenance costs.3 Additionally, these landscapes are virtually maintenance free, which makes it an attractive option for busy buyers.

 

Include trees and shrubs to create texture and add interest to your landscape. Planting a few types of trees and shrubs of varying heights, widths and flowering times boosts your home’s curb appeal year-round.

 

4. Make it feel inviting.

It’s no secret that emotions play a role in a person’s decision to purchase a home. Stage the outside of your home to evoke warm feelings.

 

Stage your porch. If you have a front porch, make it feel more inviting by including seating, such as a chair or loveseat, an outdoor rug and a small table. If space is an issue, incorporate small decorative touches, such as a festive wreath or potted plant.

 

Hang flower boxes on your front porch railings and/or below your windows. If you don’t want to affix flower boxes to your home, purchase nice planters and containers and place them around your porch or on your front steps.

 

Choose flowers and plants that bloom at different times of the year for year-round appeal. For example, bulbs not only bloom all spring, they also multiply and come up every year. Perennials often flower for most of the year and will prevent you from having to replant them every year.

           

If you don’t have a green thumb, choose low maintenance plants and flowers. Flowers such as lavender, rosemary, and zinnias are a few low-maintenance and drought-tolerant options.

           

5. Boost Your Online “Curb Appeal.”

For those interested in selling, it’s important to know the effect online curb appeal has on a home. The better impression your home gives online, the more likely buyers will want to see it in person. Here’s how to get your home ready for its listing debut.

 

Stage your home. Staging shows your home in its best light and helps potential buyers picture themselves living there.

 

Hire a professional to take photos. A photographer has the skills and equipment to shoot your home in the best light and make it look its best.

 

Include a short video tour of the home. Videos are becoming a popular way to give buyers a glimpse of the home before they step foot in it.

 

Before you start a home project, keep these four things in mind:

1.         Why are you renovating? In other words, is your intention to update your home and get it show-ready or do you want to sell it for more money? Don’t fall into the trap of undertaking major renovations that may not pay off when you sell. If your home is in good shape, a few inexpensive updates may be enough to make your home attractive to buyers.

2.         The style of the neighborhood. Whenever you renovate your home, make sure the project fits with the style of the neighborhood and rules of the homeowner association. For example, an HOA may limit the choice and number of trees you can plant on your property. Similarly, a tall hedge border may not fit in in a neighborhood of low, picket fences.

3.         Permits. If you’re planning an extensive exterior renovation, you may need a permit from your municipality or other authority.

4.         Budget. A budget keeps your project’s costs and scope in check. Make a list of the improvements you’d like to make, set a realistic budget and stick to it. If you’d like advice on improvements you can make to boost your home’s curb appeal, give us a call.

 

Are you thinking of boosting your home’s curb appeal or renovating your home before you list? Do you want help making your home more appealing to potential buyers online and in-person? Give us a call and we’ll help you present your home in its best light.

 

Sources: 1. Remodeling, 2016 Cost vs Value Report

                2. Realtor Mag, September 22, 2016

                3. REALTOR.com

4. Houzz, Houzz & Home-U.S., June 2016

5. Houselogic.com

 

 

March 4, 2017

5 Myths About Real Estate Reality TV Explained

Have you ever been flipping through the channels, only to find yourself glued to the couch in an HGTV binge session? We’ve all been there… watching entire seasons of “Love it or List it,” “Fixer Upper,” “House Hunters,” “Property Brothers,” and so many more, just in one sitting.

When you’re in the middle of your real estate themed show marathon, you might start to think that everything you see on TV must be how it works in real life, but you may need a reality check.

 

Reality TV Show Myths vs. Real Life:

Myth #1: Buyers look at 3 homes and make a decision to purchase one of them.

Truth: There may be buyers who fall in love and buy the first home they see, but according to the National Association of Realtors the average homebuyer tours 10 homes as a part of their search. 

 

Myth #2: The houses the buyers are touring are still for sale.

Truth: The reality is being staged for TV. Many of the homes being shown are already sold and are off the market. 

 

Myth #3: The buyers haven’t made a purchase decision yet.

Truth: Since there is no way to show the entire buying process in a 30-minute show, TV producers often choose buyers who are further along in the process and have already chosen a home to buy. 

 

Myth #4: If you list your home for sale, it will ALWAYS sell at the Open House.

Truth: Of course this would be great! Open houses are important to guarantee the most exposure to buyers in your area, but are only a PIECE of the overall marketing of your home. Just realize that many homes are sold during regular listing appointments as well.

 

Myth #5: Homeowners make a decision about selling their home after a 5-minute conversation.

Truth: Similar to the buyers portrayed on the shows, many of the sellers have already spent hours deliberating the decision to list their homes and move on with their lives/goals.

 

Bottom Line

Having an experienced professional on your side (hi there!) while navigating the real estate market is the best way to guarantee that you can make the home of your dreams a reality!

Posted in Buyer Intelligence
March 1, 2017

The Compound Effect: Building Your Household’s Wealth

Wealth is within reach for many people; however, according to a recent study, 63 percent of Americans said it’s not likely they’ll become rich.1 While younger people are more likely to say they’ll achieve wealth one day, only 34 percent of people aged 30 to 49 and 21 percent of people aged 50 or older say the same. Don’t just dream of being wealthy; start taking the steps to make it a reality. Part of it is mindset, casting aside the what I call the "poverty mentality." There is no secret to becoming rich--it does takes time, sacrifice and good financial sense. Here are a few ways to build your household’s wealth.

 

Let Compound Interest Work for You

 

Compound interest is your interest earning interest. While the concept may work against you when you take out a loan to buy a car or use your credit card, it works in your favor when you’re saving money. For example, if your savings is growing at a rate of four percent, your investment will double in eight years and quadruple in 16 years. Your money will grow exponentially the longer you save: the more money you’ve saved, the more your money will grow.

 

Tap into Your Home Appreciation

 

Experts expect home prices to appreciate 3.24 percent and grow by 21.4 percent cumulatively.2  If a homeowner purchases a home this year for $250,000, they could earn more than $40,000 in equity over the next five years. Although the home value of the average American family’s home is $165,000, home values vary by market.3 If you’re curious about the value of your home, give us a call!

 

Build Equity in Your Home

 

One of the most compelling reasons to own a home is it allows you to build wealth over time. According to one study, the average homeowner has a net worth of $200,000, which is 31 to 46 times the net worth of the average renter.4 Saving for a down payment, especially if you plan to put down more than 20 percent, helps you adopt good financial habits. The more you put down when you buy, the higher your share of equity when you close. Although for the first five to seven years, the majority of your payment will go toward interest, over time more money will be applied to the principal. There are many tools online that calculate your current and future equity in your home, including this one here.

 

Build equity sooner by choosing a shorter amortization term. While your payment may be higher, you’ll likely qualify for a lower interest rate and will pay less interest over the life of the loan.

 

Build Equity Faster in Your Home

 

Mortgage Term 30 Years 15 Years
Loan amount $118,000 $118,00
Months to pay 360 180
Annual percentage rate 4.0% 3.0%
Monthly payment $563 $815
Total interest $84,806 $28,680
Interest savings - $56,126

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, Building Wealth: A Beginner’s Guide to Securing Your Financial Future

 

Pay Down Your Mortgage…or Not

 

Many homeowners grapple with whether or not to pay down their mortgage. On one hand, if you pay it down, or pay it off early, you’ll save money on interest, which you can use to make other investments. On the other hand, if your goal is to be debt free, it’s better to pay off your higher-interest debt, such as credit card debt, first before paying down your mortgage debt. Additionally, if you’re saving for retirement, putting extra cash toward your retirement accounts will help you build a nice nest egg to enjoy later on.

 

If you decide to pay off your mortgage sooner, here are a few ways to do so:

 

1. Pay more money at the beginning of your amortization period and apply it to your principal.

 

            2. If you receive a tax refund or other windfall, apply it toward your principal.

 

3. Make one extra payment each year. You’ll save money on interest and pay your loan off sooner.

 

4. Add an extra $50, or another amount you can afford, to the principal of your payment each month.

 

5. If you locked into a 30-year fixed loan, refinance to a shorter, 15-year fixed loan. Your payment may be higher, but you’ll pay it off sooner.

 

Your financial advisor can help you decide if paying off or paying down your mortgage is right for your goals.

 

Purchase Investment Property

 

Investment properties provide passive income to your growing financial portfolio. More than 25 percent of Americans say real estate is the best way to invest money you may not need for the next 10 years.5 While many people flip houses to make money—that is, they buy a home at a low price, fix it up and sell it quickly—others purchase multifamily properties to create monthly cash flow to save or to reinvest in other properties.

 

The longer you own a property, the better investment it becomes as you’ll continue to build equity. While rental costs rise with inflation, your mortgage will remain the same. The best part? Once you pay off the mortgage, your cash flow will increase. Remember to create a budget for maintenance each month, between 10 to 20 percent of the rent you receive, or more if the home is older. This will help you save more money in the long run and allow you to prepare for unexpected repairs.

 

There are tax benefits to owning investment property as well. You may be able to claim deductions for depreciation, as long as it fits within the guidelines; repairs, travel expenses, interest and more. If you’re thinking of purchasing investment property, talk to your tax professional to get the details.

 

Achieve More Wealth by Creating Financial Goals

 

Setting a goal will help you achieve your desired level of wealth. Once you achieve one goal, reassess and set the bar higher.

 

1. What is your idea of wealth? Your idea of wealth will change as you earn more money. That’s why it’s vital to set goals along the way. What do you want your net worth to be in 5 years, in 10 years and in 20 years?

 

2. Write down your short-term and long-term goals. Once you have determined your goals, write them down. This is the first step towards getting your desires out of your mind and into motion and it will be easier to refer to them later on.

 

3. Develop a budget to help you reach these goals. A budget not only helps you understand where your money goes each month, it may also prevent you from overspending. That way you can have more money to save and invest.

 

           

 

Your Budget 

 

Income  
Earned    $
Investments + $
Total Income = $
Daily Expenses -       $
Monthly Bills -       $
Total Available for Investment =

 

To increase the amount you can invest, make adjustments to your daily spending and monthly bills, if possible. Look for opportunities to save money and transfer that savings into your accounts.

  

It’s never too late to begin building your family’s wealth. Whether you’re interested in buying a first home, upgrading to a larger home or are thinking of renovating, we have you covered. Give us a call and we’ll answer all of your real estate questions and offer suggestions to help you increase the value of your home.

 

Sources: 1. BankRate.com

 

            2. Pulsenomics, Home Price Expectation Survey Q4 2016

 

            3. Statistic Brain, August 1, 2016

 

            4. National Association of REALTORS, Economists’ Outlook, September 8, 2014

 

 

            5. The Motley Fool, July 30, 2016