Home Staging Decreases Days on Market

As your real estate experts, the Mendosa – Balboni Team would like to share some interesting information about the effects of staging a home. According to a recent survey from the National Association of Realtors, 62% of sellers’ agents shared that staging a home decreases the number of days a home will be actively on the market.

“Realtors® know how important it is for buyers to be able to picture themselves living in a home and, according to NAR’s most recent report, staging a home makes that process much easier for potential buyers,” said NAR President William E. Brown, a Realtor® from Alamo, California and founder of Investment Properties. “While all real estate is local, and many factors play into what a home is worth and how much buyers are will to pay for it, staging can be the extra step sellers take to help sell their home more quickly and for a higher dollar value.”

The report shared that nearly two-thirds of sellers’ agents think that staging decreased time on the market, with 39% stating it greatly decreases the time and 23% stating it only slightly decreases. Sixteen percent said it either greatly or slightly increases the time on the market while 8% felt it has no impact.

For findings with the buyer audience, 77% of buyers’ agents felt that staging a home makes it much easier to visualize the property, and 40% are more apt to visit a home they first saw staged online. Meanwhile, 38% of buyers’ agents claimed that staging can add value only if staged according to the buyer’s taste. Therefore decorating should be designed to appeal to the largest audience possible.

Realtors that represent both buyers and sellers all agree that the living room is the most important room to be staged. This is followed by the master bedroom, kitchen and outdoor space. The guest room is of least importance.

The majority of buyers’ agents think that staging can increase a home’s dollar value between 1 and 10%. Only 1% of buyer agents felt that staging can have a negative impact on the home’s price. Seller agents believe that staging can add anywhere from 1 to 15% in value while no agents feeling it has a negative impact on price.

The reports of how many agents recommend staging and when they stage were across the board from before listing the home to only when a property proves difficult to sell. However, most agents recommend decluttering the home with a good cleaning and remedying obvious items in need of repair.

10 Tips for Moving into Your New Home

Everybody knows that coordinating a relocation into a new home involves many moving parts. Typically your first reaction is to dread the experience, only the good news is it doesn’t have to be such a daunting task. Following tips can make the process go a lot more smooth when you use them as a checklist. If you are fortunate enough to be booking movers then you are in even better shape. Here are 10 tips to help as you plan your move.

Internet – This is often overlooked by many. If you want internet service as soon as you move in, be sure to schedule this far in advance so that you can assure a timely appointment with the service provider.

Electricity – Similar to your internet, yet typically easier. Contact the electric utility service company and alert them that you will be setting up an account in your name as of the day you take ownership.

Hire Movers – Do this far in advance so you have time to collect a few estimates and have a better chance of scheduling them for the dates that you need.

Cleaning – If you have the chance to get into your new home before moving day, give it a thorough and deep cleaning. This is easier to do early on before all of your belongings arrive.

Inspect belongings – Especially if you hired movers, be sure to inspect items after they have been delivered. Make sure everything is intact as you place each box in its correct room.

Stay organized – It is always best if you have items grouped together in labeled boxes. This makes it much easier and streamlined when you unpack. Start unpacking all of the essentials like bedding, clothing and toiletries then tackle secondary items afterwards.

Change the locks – A good idea would be to change the locks after you move in. You never know how many copies were made and who has them so for peace of mind you may want to have them rekeyed.

Locate circuit breaker – Don’t wait until you blow a fuse to find the panel. Locate this ahead of time so there is no extra confusion in the dark when and if you need to access it.

Window treatments – This step typically makes the house feel like a home. Adding some blinds or curtains add function and privacy while they can reflect your personal taste. If you haven’t decided on any right as you move in, use some linen to temporarily provide privacy.

Meet the neighbors – When it comes time to take a break from unpacking, take a walk outside and introduce yourself to the neighbors. Say hello to anyone you see and you will start to feel right at home and part of the community.

What happens after you make an offer on a house?

After you have been touring homes and find one that fits your needs then it is time to move quickly and make an offer. This is a very exciting time during the home buying process as you take the first big step. After you submit your offer, one of three things will happen. The offer will either be accepted, countered or rejected. Here is a closer look at the possible outcomes.

Offer is rejected – If your offer has been rejected, this might mean that the seller could feel that your offer price and terms are too far from their goals and are not willing to negotiate. You might want to consider moving on as there is too big of a spread between you and the seller.

Offer is countered – If your offer is countered by the seller then you have a chance to continue to negotiate. Figure out if the seller’s counter offer is acceptable or if you may need to negotiate and modify terms some more. This process can go back and forth until you either agree on terms or if one party decides to walk away.

Offer is accepted – If your offer is accepted then things can become more real and very exciting. Here are the next steps to follow after the acceptance of the deal and signed offer.

  1. Financing – Contact your mortgage broker and tell them the terms of your deal. They will order an appraisal to verify that the price you paid is a fair market value.
  2. Home inspection – A home inspection is key as it is an in depth inspection of the home’s true condition. Depending on the report, you may request that the seller remedy some repairs, ask for a concession or decide to pass on the home.
  3. Homeowner’s Insurance – Lenders will need to confirm that you have an insurance policy ready for the home. Shop for prices and negotiate if need be. Sometimes you can even save if you combine things like home and auto plans.
  4. The closing – Things will happen behind the scenes as you progress towards the closing and you may be asked for some information. Your lender will prepare your loan documents, your attorney will prepare your closing documents and title company will be doing research. It is your responsibility to make sure that you have your down payment ready. Before your closing you will have a final walk through of the property to inspect the condition. Next you will proceed to the closing table and complete everything by signing all documents. Once this is finished then you are officially a homeowner!

Most homeowners think it’s a great time to sell

Inventory levels for available housing have decreased for the past couple of years yet recent findings from the National Association of Realtors’ “Housing Opportunities and Market Survey” (HOME) has shown that an increasing number of homeowners feel that now is a good time to sell. With information found in these reports we can hope that more homeowners will decide to sell and improve the current lack of available homes for sale.

In particular, the increasing trend in the HOME survey of those feeling now is a good time to sell has 71% of homeowners feeling this way. This is an increase from last quarter at 69% and substantially over last year at 61%.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says it’s apparent there’s a mismatch between homeowners’ confidence in selling and actually following through and listing their home for sale. “There are just not enough homeowners deciding to sell because they’re either content where they are, holding off until they build more equity, or hesitant seeing as it will be difficult to find an affordable home to buy,” he said. “As a result, inventory conditions have worsened and are restricting sales from breaking out while contributing to price appreciation that remains far above income growth.” Added Yun, “Perhaps this notable uptick in seller confidence will translate to more added inventory later this year. Low housing turnover is one of the roots of the ongoing supply and affordability problems plaguing many markets.”

Confidence among renters has decreased with only 52% of them feeling now is a good time to buy. This is down from 56% in Q1 of this year and 62% from a year ago. The rising home prices coupled with the tight inventory have made it hard for renters to get into the home buying market.

“It should come as little surprise that the confidence reading among renters has fallen every month since January (64.8) and currently sits at its lowest level (53.8) since tracking began in March 2015 (65.7),” said Yun. “Paying more in rent each year and seeing home prices outpace their incomes is discouraging, and it’s unfortunately pushing home ownership further away — especially for those living in expensive metro areas on the East and West Coast.”

Home sales have been continuing this year regardless the inventory challenges. The economic confidence has been healthy enough to power demand this year. With homeowners feeling now is a great time to sell we can hope that inventory levels will increase towards a more “normal” market.

5 Reasons why this summer is a prime time to sell your home

Aside from specific reasons that force you to sell your home at a particular time, sometimes it can be tough to figure out when is the right time to put your home on the market for sale. Here are 5 reasons why listing your home for sale this summer makes sense.

Demand is strong
According to a recent Buyer Traffic Report from the National Association of Realtors, buyer demand is still strong for most markets across the country. These buyers are ready to make their move as they are actively looking for homes so take advantage of the activity in the market.

Quicker process
If the market is busy then banks have more and more loans to close on properties. Selling your home now may make the process quicker and easier. According to Ellie Mae, a loan now is on average 42 days to close versus the 48 days we saw in busier January.

Less competition
The current housing market has a 4 months supply of property which is below the 6 months that is referred to as a normal market. This informs us that there are not enough properties available to satisfy the current demand in the marketplace. In some areas there is pent up desire to sell their homes as their home value has reached a point where they can now afford to sell. In addition, as builder confidence has reached its highest point in over 10 years, construction will also most likely surge this summer. All of these factors may lead to an increase in inventory changing the competitive landscape.

It is time to move up
If you are planning on upgrading to a larger home, now is a good time to do so. With prices on the rise the amount to finance is going to cost you more. Mortgage rates are also expected to increase so locking in now at today’s rates is a good idea.

It is time to move on
Consider the reason why you started to think of selling in the first place and see if it is worth waiting. Would selling now afford you a better financial situation or another valuable life quality or experiences? Only you can answer this and the control is in your hands. Maybe now is the time to put your home on the market and move on to your life’s next chapter.

5 Home Additions and How they Add Value

Your home is your headquarters for your family, but sometimes your life changes and your home needs to as well to be accommodating. Perhaps you have a growing family, a need for home office or just more square footage is required for comfortable living. If this happens, you have the choice of either moving to another home or enhancing your current one. Here is a closer look at what types of additions there are and the value they bring.

Bump out
If you don’t have a need for an entire new room or floor to be be added to your home, consider a “bump out” for more square footage. Maybe you need a larger kitchen or living room where a bump out can add an extra 50 or 100 square feet of space. These can vary in price from anywhere around $5,000 to $30,000 depending on the situation. Although these can be costly on a per square foot basis, they can be cheaper overall as they typically require less permitting and contractors.

Full Addition
These are the most typical and can be expensive. Adding on a whole room can cost more than $50,000 as many contractors can be required with electrical, plumbing or HVAC work. However, these builds oftentimes add to the resale of your home where you can recoup the expense. For example, adding a new garage can add around $40,000 to your home’s resale value depending on your region of the country.

Remodels
Remodels can be easier to tackle as you don’t have to knock down as many walls to give your home an improvement. Some interior remodels don’t require permitting, but check with your local permit office before you get started. You can also save some money by doing some of the work yourself depending on your level of skill.

Sunrooms
Sunrooms are usually made up of walls of windows or sliding doors that allow you to enjoy the outdoors without the full exposure to the elements. A basic sunroom without HVAC can cost around $15,000 while an fully framed aluminum one can be upwards of $22,000.

Room conversion
Do you have a basement, attic or area that is used for storage that could be converted into regular living space? Consider converting it into another bedroom, office or media room so it can be usable and eventually saleable square footage when you sell. With there being a large range of options there is also a range of cost that this can run. Be sure that you follow proper procedures and do any conversions the right way. Attain the necessary permits and hire experienced contractors as this addition can significantly increase your property’s value when it comes time to sell.

How to Survive a Competitive Market

The Mendosa Balboni Team knows that being a buyer searching for a home these days can be a real challenge with so few homes on the market. “Attempting to purchase a house in this type of market can make the already complex process of buying a home even more overwhelming,” the National Association of REALTORS® notes in a recent release. We are pleased to share NAR’s five recommendations for how to prevail in a competitive market.

Find a Realtor
Always work with an experienced real estate agent or team like the Mendosa Balboni Team as we can provide expert advice and help you navigate a competitive offer situation. “They can give buyers the competitive advantage needed in a tight market,” NAR states.

Wants versus needs
There is no such thing as the perfect home. Typically something has to give where you make a compromise, even if it’s as simple as changing the decor to match your taste. However, in a competitive market you may need to identify what is a “need” and what is a “want” so that you can find a home that can be most accommodating.

Keep to your budget
“When listings are scarce, bidding wars can drive up prices, so buyers must be prepared to walk away if the asking price surpasses their budget,” according to NAR. Always be sure that as a buyer you get pre approved by a mortgage agent and stick to your comfortable budget so you can avoid letting any emotions drive you to overspend.

Prepare to make quick decisions
Most homes today are not on the market for long being a seller’s market. Don’t hesitate or waste time when the right property comes on the market. Act quickly if you are interested in touring the home and submitting an offer.

Make your offer competitive
Lowball offers don’t usually win in a seller’s market. Starting with a strong offer is better as there can be additional offers. Remember to limit your contingencies as that is also part of your offer’s value. “Removing restrictions related to the sale of a current home and being flexible with things like the move-in date can make a bid stand out to a seller,” NAR notes.

What is a Home Energy Audit?

There are always small things that you can always do to conserve energy like shutting off lights when not in the room or taking shorter showers. However, how do you know just how efficient your home is on its own? That is where an energy audit can help. These reviews will tell you just that as well as which improvements are recommended to take your home’s efficiency to the next level.

How an energy audit helps buyers
Energy audit details are not typically displayed in a typical online listing, however sometimes these documents can be attached to the listing in MLS so that agents have access to share with their buyer clients. If not, sometimes you can request to have these done during a home inspection. This can provide more of a true read as you cannot always guage average bills on the previous owner as everyone uses energy differently.

Home energy score
Various companies including utility companies will perform energy audits, yet the one rating that is becoming increasingly popular is the Department of Energy’s Home Energy Score. This has become a standardized process for measuring efficiency.

Other audit types
Most other sources like utility companies will do a more “visual” audit of your home. This includes things like checking for window types, gaps, how much insulation is in attics or doors along with the type of lightbulbs that are being used. These recommendations are usually more general.

How much does an audit cost?
This will all depend on the size of the home, but can typically cost around $150 to $250. This can be sometimes be even less if rolled into a home inspection package. Utility companies also sometimes offer their visual inspections in exchange for locking into a program or payment plan.

What the auditor looks for
These audits take about one or two hours for most homes. They will measure windows and floor space for insulation. In addition, they check the age of HVAC systems, water heaters and the condition of the home’s ductwork. This all gets entered into a system that will calculate a rating between 1 and 10. A 10 indicates that it is within the top 10% in energy efficiency, 5 being average and 1 consuming more energy than 85% of homes in the United States. These reports also offer recommendations for what the homeowner can do to improve the efficiency, mostly having to do with insulation. They will also offer potential dollar numbers in the way of saving per year should you increase your overall score.

6 Common Ways a Home Sale can Go Awry

The Mendosa Balboni Team knows that purchasing real estate is a very large transaction with many moving parts. There oftentimes can be a lot of excitement while envisioning your new life in this property so it is important to keep your emotions in check while you stay on track with the steps of the sale. The truth is that home sales can fall through at times and according to the National Association of Realtors, 1 in 16 deals do not close. So why do these deals fall apart? Here are some of the common reasons so that you can avoid them.

Changes in your credit
Your credit score can vary through the course of your real estate deal. A missed payment, opening up a new credit card or making a larger purchase all can have an affect on your score. Be sure to make payments timely and avoid making any significant purchases so you don’t risk your eligibility for a home loan.

Home inspection
Al home inspection is always a good thing to do, but bear in mind that no house is perfect and most will have something come up even if it is just an older water heater. Try not to panic should there be necessary repairs as it is fairly typical. For more substantial repairs, try negotiating with the sellers to see if they will accommodate you on the issue.

Failure to get pre-approved
Every buyer should connect with a reputable mortgage agent before they even begin their home search. A mortgage broker will be provide you with a pre-approval letter stating the amount that you can afford. These letters are sometimes accompanied with the offer when submitted.

Running out of funds
Your downpayment is not the only thing that you will need to have money on hand for. There are various moving expenses and closing costs that you will need to be sure you have cash for. Your lender can provide you with a good faith estimate for what you will need regarding funds that are directly related to the deal and closing.

Loss of perspective
Sometimes the smallest thing can get blown out of proportion when emotions are running high. Keeping in regular communication with your real estate agent can help dodge many of these issues. When you keep the big picture in mind sometimes the smaller issues really don’t even matter so much in the end.

Cold feet
Buyers can sometimes get very excited during the home search and offer process. Once the inspection report is complete followed by paperwork and writing checks the purchase becomes a reality. In the end don’t worry, homeownership is worth it as you build equity in the home that you will begin making new memories in.

Avoid These 6 Common Mistakes when Hiring Movers

The Mendosa Balboni Team knows that moving from home to home requires a lot of planning. There is much to do including sorting through your belongings, discarding some items while packing the rest. Even if you can hire the best moving company in existence, there are still some helpful tips on what not to do so that you can have the smoothest of moves. Here is a list to get you started.

Don’t wait til the last minute – Gathering estimates takes time. You will want to get a few to find out what they all offer for services as well as find the best price. If you wait too long you run the risk of being forced to pick one based on availability rather than price.

Don’t be cheap – While you don’t want to pay more than necessary for movers, you do get what you pay for. Quality movers who have trained staff that are licensed and insured do cost more but will always be good for peace of mind. Should there be any issues that arise, they are more likely to address them and make good on the situation.

Don’t forget to ask questions – When you are reviewing companies and gathering estimates, be sure to ask some important questions. Things like are you licensed and insured, what insurance do you offer on my belongings, how is your staff trained, or can you get references are all good things to ask.

Don’t fall for fakes – Just because you found the company online doesn’t mean they are a good quality or reputable. Here are a few red flag signs for fake movers:

  • No federal motor carrier number for interstate moves
  • Mover will not meet you at home to provide written estimate
  • Trucks are unmarked or generic
  • Avoids questions about claim process or insurance

Don’t pay in cash – Most companies will charge you at the time of delivery. For larger, out of state moves, a deposit may be asked of you but is typically small and doesn’t exceed 20% of the total cost. Avoid any company that demands cash payments.

Don’t forget to do your homework – Make sure to do some fact checking on your own about these companies.Be sure to check references, review services offered and investigate the company online. For interstate moves see if they are licensed to do so as well.

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