Top Home Renos for MAXimum ROI

19 06 2017

Top Home Renovations for Maximum ROI [INFOGRAPHIC] | Keeping Current Matters Some Highlights:

  • Whether you are selling your home, just purchased your first home, or are a homeowner planning to stay put for a while, there is value in knowing which home improvement projects will net you the most Return On Investment (ROI).
  • While big projects like adding a bathroom or a complete kitchen remodel are popular ways to increase a home’s value, something as simple as updating landscaping and curb appeal can have a quick impact on a home’s value.
  • For more information about top renovation projects that net you the most ROI, you can check out the complete list here.




FSBO Millionaires Use Real Estate Agents

3 06 2014

Confusion2Do as I Say… not as I Do

This adage could be no truer today after it has been reported, in a recent Herald Tribune article, that when it came to selling his Florida mansion, Al Bennati, the longtime chief executive of BuyOwner.com, has chosen to list his home with a local real estate agent.

BuyOwner.com is one of many websites out there now that encourage home owners that they do not need to enlist the help of a professional agent to be able to sell their home. They go as far as to tell homeowners:

“BuyOwner.com allows you to reach the most potential buyers in the shortest amount of time, in the most effective (the Internet) and most cost effective manner (no commission!) possible.”

Let’s break down that statement:

Myth #1 – The internet is the most effective way to sell your home

Many have said that, with the introduction of home search on the internet, hiring an agent is no longer a necessity. When the time came to list his own home, Bennati went against his own advice saying:

“To sell a home of this magnitude, it needs to be done by a person and a company that reaches buyers of this caliber.”

Myth #2 – FSBO’ing is the most cost effective solution

Without proper exposure to the “right kind of buyers” your home will not sell. Many real estate professionals have elaborate strategies to get your listing in front of exactly who needs to see it.

The most recent Home Sellers’ and Buyers’ Profile Report from the National Association of Realtors revealed that, though 92% of buyers search for a home on the internet, 90% still use a real estate professional.

This isn’t the first time that a CEO of a major FSBO website has enlisted the help of an agent when the time came to sell their own home. In August of 2011 we reported on Colby Sambrotto offorsalebyowner.com who, after failing to sell his home using FSBO websites, needed an agent to sell his NYC apartment.

And, he got more money!!!!

Bottom Line

Two separate people made fortunes convincing others to sell their home through their FSBO sites. Yet, when it came to selling their own home, they recognized the value of using a real estate professional.

There is a reason the real estate industry has been around for centuries: it performs a valuable service.

Source: KCM Blog





3 Reasons to Sell Your Home this Spring

7 05 2014
4.8 Visual

Many sellers are still hesitant about putting their house up for sale. Where are prices headed? Where are interest rates headed? These are all valid questions. However, there are several reasons to sell your home sooner rather than later. Here are three of those reasons.

1. Demand is about to skyrocket

Most people realize that the housing market is hottest from April through June. The most serious buyers are well aware of this and, for that reason, come out in early spring in order to beat the heavy competition. We also have a pent-up demand as many buyers pushed off their home search this winter because of extreme weather. Sellers in markets where seasonal weather is never an issue must realize that buyers relocating to their region will increase dramatically this spring as these purchasers finally decide to escape the freezing temperatures of the winters in the north.

These buyers are ready, willing and able to buy…and are in the market right now!

2. There Is Less Competition – For Now

Housing supply always grows from the spring through the early summer. Also, there has been a growing desire for many homeowners to move as they were unable to sell over the last few years because of a negative equity situation. Homeowners have seen a return to positive equity as prices increased over the last eighteen months. Many of these homes will be coming to the market in the near future.

The choices buyers have will continue to increase over the next few months. Don’t wait until all the other potential sellers in your market put their homes up for sale.

3. There Will Never Be a Better Time to Move-Up

If you are moving up to a larger, more expensive home, consider doing it now. Prices are projected to appreciate by approximately 4% this year and 8% by the end of 2015. If you are moving to a higher priced home, it will wind-up costing you more in raw dollars (both in down payment and mortgage payment) if you wait. You can also lock-in your 30 year housing expense with an interest rate at about 4.5% right now. Freddie Mac projects rates to be 5.1% by this time next year and 5.7% by the fourth quarter of 2015.

Moving up to a new home will be less expensive this spring than later this year or next year.

Source:  KCM Blog





A home’s Cost Vs. Price

7 04 2014
HomePercentageWe have often talked about the difference between COST and PRICE. As a seller, you will be most concerned about ‘short term price’ – where home values are headed over the next six months. As either a first time or repeat buyer, you must not be concerned about price but instead about the ‘long term cost’ of the home. Let us explain.

Recently, we reported that a nationwide panel of over one hundred economists, real estate experts and investment & market strategists projected that home values would appreciate by approximately 8% from now to the end of 2015.

Additionally, Freddie Mac’s most recent Economic Commentary & Projections Table predicts that the 30 year fixed mortgage rate will be 5.7% by the end of next year.

What Does This Mean to a Buyer?

Here is a simple demonstration of what impact these projected changes would have on the mortgage payment of a home selling for approximately $250,000 today:

Cost-of-Waiting0407

 

Source: KCM Blog





How do I Price My House?

6 03 2014

How to Price Real Estate


Today we are excited to welcome back Ashley Garner as our guest writer today. Ashley has been a broker for over 20 years in the Wilmington, NC area. – The KCM Crew

1963 Chevrolet CorvetteLocation may have the most effect on value but Price is without question the most important factor controlling the sale of real estate.  Anything will sell anytime, how long will it take depends on the price.

Think about it this way – you may really want to buy a car for your collection and your favorite happens to be a 1963 Corvette.  So you hear about one for sale, in mint condition, across town but the only problem is the price, the owner is asking $150,000!  Well, although you really, really want a mint condition 1963 Corvette, there is no way you will pay anywhere close to $150,000, in fact you know that the most a 1963 Corvette has ever sold for is about $200,000 and that was for a very rare model, which this one is not.

Because you are a bit obsessed with owning one of these cars you spend almost all of your free time, and some of the time you should be working, searching the internet for available cars.  Through this exhaustive search you have become somewhat of an expert on the values of 1963 Corvettes, especially in your town.  You happen to know that the particular model for sale across town is worth about $95,000…maybe $100,000.  In fact, if the asking price was $100,000 or even $110,000 you would’ve driven over there today with your checkbook and driven home in a 1963 Corvette!

So why don’t you go make an offer?  Well, let’s face it when you see a price that is so high compared to the actual value it makes you think that the seller is either difficult to deal with and is out of touch with reality or that he must not really want to sell the car, instead he is just fishing for the one fool in the world that will pay $150,000 for a car that is worth $95,000.  So you don’t even go look at it or call for more information…you just keep searching the various websites to find the car of your dreams.

Yes, you guessed it the Corvette in this example actually represents your home or other real estate you might be trying to sell.  (in fact it represents any item that can be bought and sold).

Wiggle room = Bad idea

Most sellers think that it is necessary to “leave a little wiggle room” in the price.  They think this because they think that all buyers will make aggressively low offers…no matter what the asking price.  WRONG!!

Buyers pay the fair market value …in other words they will pay you what it is worth!  Your job is to find out what it is worth and price it at or near that value.

This is where brokers and/or appraisers come into the picture.  The right way to price your property is to have a professional REALTOR/broker or appraiser prepare a CMA (Comparative Market Analysis) on your property.  A CMA involves finding recent sales of similar properties, adjusting for any differences, to arrive at a current market value of your property.  Once you have this value you should have your broker set the asking price no more than 3% to 5% higher than that current market value.

If you do this, your property will sell quickly for a price equal to exactly what it is worth, or higher!   Buyers as a general rule DO NOT make “low-ball” offers, there are some rare occasions when that happens but the vast majority of initial offers are 5% or less below asking price.

If sellers price their property correctly the buyers will know it immediately because, just like in the Corvette example, buyers spend every spare moment searching the internet for a home, they have made themselves experts on the market value of the particular type of home in the particular area they desire.  For this reason the buyer also knows when a property is overpriced.  Most buyers will not even go look at a property that is overpriced, they say to themselves “why bother?” they assume that the seller is unreasonable and/or is not truly interested in selling the property.

Yesterday, the Buyer’s Specialist that works for my team and I were showing a house to some buyers who were very motivated had already decided on the neighborhood.  The house was well within their price range and met every one of their criteria.  As we stood in the kitchen discussing what price we should offer we found ourselves drawn to the fact that the house had been on and off of the market for the last four years!

The conversation immediately turned to “what is wrong with this house?”   It turns out that the house hasn’t sold because it was severely overpriced most of that 4 years, it happens to be well priced now but the stigma it carries because of the lengthy time on the market will likely result in it selling for less than it is really worth.

Moral of this whole story is – buyers will pay what it is worth – Seller’s job is to find out what it is worth and set the asking price 3%-5% higher than that number…then sit and wait for the offers to roll in.





Should you be a LANDLORD?

7 10 2013

Should I Rent My House If I Can’t Sell It?


 

For rent real estate sign in front of house

There has been a lot written about how buying a home is less expensive than renting one in most parts of the country. Rents are skyrocketing and homes are still at great prices. These two situations are also causing some sellers to consider renting their home instead of selling it. After all, a homeowner can get great rental income now and perhaps wait until house values increase even further before selling.

This logic makes sense in some cases. We at KCM believe strongly that residential real estate is a great investment right now. However, if you have no desire to actually become an educated investor in this sector, you may be headed for more trouble than you were looking for.

Before renting your home, you should answer the following questions to make sure this is the right course of action for you and your family.

10 Questions to Ask BEFORE Renting Your Home

1.) How will you respond if your tenant says they can’t afford to pay the rent this month because of more pressing obligations? (This happens most often during holiday season and back-to-school time when families with children have extra expenses).

2.) Because of the economy, many homeowners can no longer make their mortgage payment. What percent of tenants do you think can no longer afford to pay their rent?

3.) Have you interviewed a few experienced eviction attorneys in case a challenge does arise?

4.) Have you talked to your insurance company about a possible increase in premiums as liability is greater in a non-owner occupied home?

5.) Will you allow pets? Cats? Dogs? How big a dog?

6.) How will you actually collect the rent? By mail? In person?

7.) Repairs are part of being a landlord. Who will take tenant calls when necessary repairs arise?

8.) Do you have a list of craftspeople readily available to handle these repairs?

9.) How often will you do a physical inspection of the property?

10.) Will you alert your current neighbors that you are renting the house?

Bottom Line

Again, renting out residential real estate historically is a great investment. However, it is not without its challenges. Make sure you have decided to rent the house because you want to be an investor, not because you are hoping to get a few extra dollars by postponing a sale.

Source: KCM Blog





Curb Appeal…It Makes a BIG Difference!!!

20 09 2013

lawn-cartoonWhen selling your home, landscaping determines whether your home feels inviting from the outside. Curb appeal is important to 71 percent of homebuyers when choosing their abode, according to a 2013 National Association of Realtors survey. Landscaping is a large part of that curb appeal, says Frank J. Lucco, managing director of IRR-Residential Appraisers & Consultants in Houston.

That first impression is important,” says Lucco. “If they don’t like the looks of the front of the house, which is mostly landscaping,” often they won’t even go inside.

A landscaping investment could potentially pay a 215% return in home value, says Margaret Woda, a Realtor with Long & Foster Real Estate in Crofton, Md. While you may only recoup 68 percent of kitchen renovation fees, Woda says landscaping is money well- spent.

Keeping up with the Joneses is important, says Lucco. If your neighbors’ yards are run-down, spending a lot on landscaping isn’t worthwhile. But if your neighbors have renovated homes with beautiful greenery, you need to do the same so buyers don’t move on to homes with better curb appeal.
Here are five things to consider with your landscaping.

1. Maintenance
Planning ahead is important if you want to sell your home. “You can’t just decide to sell your house tomorrow and expect the landscaping to be ready,” says Woda. “If you’re thinking of moving next fall, (then) this spring, you should be working on your landscaping.”

Start by cleaning up the yard, removing dead branches, dog droppings, weeds and anything broken, says Woda. “The most important thing in landscaping is maintenance,” she says.

Eric King, of King Landscaping in Atlanta, recommends investigating the unseen, ensuring the downspouts are clean and functional, and making sure drain pipes are properly buried and draining so water doesn’t pool. Then make sure your hard-scapes (things such as patios, walkways and fences) are level and that roots haven’t pushed up sidewalks or patio stones. If your deck has wobbly railings or loose steps, fix them, says King. “People don’t want a mystery,” he says.

Take a serious look at your plants’ health, says Lucco. “Dead and dying (plants) or things leading to additional maintenance problems need to be corrected.”

If you’re in an established neighborhood, remove overgrown shrubs encroaching on the sidewalk or ones that are too big, don’t flower or are out of style. “They look terrible to anyone except the owner,” says Woda. As an owner, you may have an emotional investment in them, having tended to them for decades, but, “Let go of your shrubs. Dig them up.”

2.    Plants
In the front yard, landscaping’s role is to help people notice the house first, says King. The landscaping should pull your eyes to the front door. While the Realtor is opening the lockbox, buyers will be looking around at the landscaping, so have pots of blooming flowers nearby.

Trees, bamboo and other screening plants can be used to hide anything unsightly, such as your neighbor’s garage door or the trash cans, says King. “You want to make your house look good and hide the ugly views,” he says.

Woda says foundational plants such as evergreens are better than those that lose their leaves. “What if you want to sell your house in the winter?” she says. Also, plants that are beautiful when blooming don’t add to curb appeal out of season. Accent plants such as knockout roses bloom all summer. “They’re super easy to take care of,” she says.

Trees can add value, providing canopy, shade and insulation from sun, but they have issues, too, says Lucco. Tree roots can damage the foundation, die or be too close to the house. Buyers may not want fruit- or nut-bearing trees. “Some buyers won’t pay one penny extra and might even cut them down,” he says.

landscaping-logo3.     Landscaping Features
In the backyard, people like a comfortable spot to hang out, says King. Think decks or patios.
Other personalized options, such as fire pits, outdoor kitchens, fountains and lighting, are things that make a backyard more of a paradise, says Lucco. “You don’t just walk out and look at a fence.”

Only install a fire pit, outdoor kitchen or water feature if you want them because you likely won’t recoup your money, says King. “A small statue fountain is less money and maintenance and may not be overwhelming,” he says. But, “Anything over $5,000 that’s hard-scape in those categories, do (it) because you want it, not because you’re doing it for resale.”

These features can positively impact an appraisal if they’re quality construction and well-maintained, says Woda. Some materials are better than others. A cobblestone patio is better than poured concrete. A stacked-stone retaining wall is more appealing than railroad ties. “That said, railroad ties and a poured concrete patio are better than one lacking any patio or any retaining wall where one is needed,” Woda says.

As for furniture, it doesn’t have to be expensive, but it should be in good condition, says Woda. “Power-wash it if needed. Get new cushions. That’s an inexpensive way to dress things up,” she says.

4. Don’t waste Your money
It’s easy to get carried away fixing up a yard to look good for buyers. Woda says not to install anything too personal or unique that lacks universal appeal. For example, she doesn’t recommend keeping play equipment in the yard. “If you purchased a $5,000 play structure and now you’re moving, take it apart and take it with you,” she says. “What are the odds that the next buyer will have children your kids’ ages who like to do the same things?”

Don’t waste money buying all mature plants. “Spend money where you need it,” Woda says. “If you have a few spots driving you crazy where you want privacy, buy one or two big specimen trees. For the rest, put in a 3-gallon flowering shrub.”

When trying to make a statement by your front steps, spend the money and get a larger plant. Otherwise, put in smaller plants, and be patient as they grow.

Fencing is another asset to buyers, whether they have kids or just want privacy, says Woda. “I’ve heard many clients say they’ll have the expense of putting in a fence if they buy that house,” she says. Pick the right fence, though. Alternate board fencing is popular, but you’ll be wasting money if you put in stockade and chain-link fences.

5. Keep it simple
When trying to sell a house, “Carve out a nice, simple lawn area and mulch the bed,” King says. “Limit the number of plants, and simplify the design so you don’t have 200 different plants that people don’t recognize and will be scared to take care of.”

Design the yard with plants and grass that work well in your environment and that don’t need a lot of water, fertilizer and pruning. “We’re not in Fiji,” King says. “We don’t get 80 inches of rain a year. Take a plant that can grow in your area.”

mylandscapemanagement_logo1

That also means knowing how the plant will grow before you buy it, says Lucco. “It looks good to people when they go to the nursery because they’re in small, 1-gallon containers. And two years from now, they have a giant tree in front of their house.”

A lush lawn that’s well-graded and healthy is appealing, says King. “This is America. We love our lawns.” He adds that the lawn doesn’t have to be large as long as there’s a focal point or play area. “Take care of it, and keep it beautiful.”

Just like inside, remove outdoor clutter, which could include unrelated, different-size plants. King says sometimes he removes plants instead of adding more, and the landscaping looks better. “Life is chaotic enough,” he says. “Landscape should be simple, elegant and beautiful.”





Thinking of selling? Now is great.

13 09 2013

Thinking of Selling Your House? 5 Reasons to Do it Now


 

 

hand showing fiveMany now realize that it is a great time to buy a home. Today, we want to look at why it might also be an opportune time to sell your house. Here are the Top 5 Reasons we believe now may be a perfect time to put your house on the market.

1.) Demand Is High

The most recent Existing Home Sales Report by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) showed a 17.2 percent increase in sales over July 2012; sales have remained above year-ago levels for 25 months. There are buyers out there right now and they are serious about purchasing.

2.) Supply Is Beginning to Increase

Total housing inventory last month rose 5.6% to 2.28 million homes for sale. This represents a 5.1-month supply at the current sales pace, compared with 4.3 months in January. Many expect inventory to continue to rise as 3.2 million homeowners escaped the shackles of negative equity in the last 12 months and an additional 1.9 million are expected to enter positive equity in the next 12 months. Selling now while demand is high and before supply increases may garner you your best price.

3.) New Construction Is Coming Back

Over the last several years, most homeowners selling their home did not have to compete with a new construction project around the block. As the market is recovering, more and more builders are jumping back in. These ‘shiny’ new homes will again become competition as they are an attractive alternative for many purchasers.

4.) Interest Rates Are Rising

According to Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey, interest rates for a 30-year mortgage have shot up to 4.57% which represents a jump of more than a full point since the beginning of the year. The Mortgage Bankers AssociationFannie MaeFreddie Mac and the National Association of Realtors are in unison projecting that rates will continue to climb.

Whether you are moving up or moving down, your housing expense will be more a year from now if a mortgage is necessary to purchase your next home.

5.) It’s Time to Move On with Your Life

Look at the reason you are thinking about selling and decide whether it is worth waiting. Is the possibility of a few extra dollars more important than being with family; more important than your health; more important than having the freedom to go on with your life the way you think you should?

You already know the answers to the questions we just asked. You have the power to take back control of your situation by putting the house on the market today. The time may have come for you and your family to move on and start living the life you desire. That is what is truly important.

Source: KCM Blog





Home Prices are Going Up

8 04 2013

Two Additional Experts Upgrade their Pricing Forecast

 

House price tagLast Monday, we reported that several analysts had upgraded their projections for home price appreciation in 2013. A few days later, the Wall Street Journal revealed that two additional analysts had also upgraded their forecasts.

Zelman & Associates

“Ivy Zelman, chief executive of research firm Zelman & Associates, said Wednesday she was now expecting prices to rise by 7% this year, up from earlier estimates of 6%, 5%, and 3%…She’s also calling for a 5% gain next year because she says the supply shortages and growing demand that fueled last year’s turnaround show no signs of easing.“

Her reasons:

“The shortage of housing capacity continues to resonate. Just as deflation was a national headwind that stretched deeper into the economy than anyone would have imagined, we believe that appreciation can carry broad, positive implications for the consumer and economy beyond many expectations.”

John Burns Real Estate Consultants

“John Burns, who runs a real-estate consulting firm in Irvine, Calif., is calling for a 9% gain in home prices this year, up from a 5% forecast late last year.”

 His reasons:

“Strong investor demand and low interest rates that have boosted the purchasing power of buyers.”

These two experts join a long list of housing analysts who have now called for a major rebound in housing prices in 2013.

Source:  KCM Blog





Top 10 Home Improvement Myths

11 03 2013

Not just any project adds value…and, some will actually turn buyers away.

1. Any remodeling project will add value to your home.

While many remodeling projects will add value to a home, some can be seen as a negative by future buyers. For instance, combining two smaller bedrooms to create one larger bedroom may better fit one homeowner’s lifestyle today, but it may cause the home to lose value in the eyes of a future buyer who needs the two separate rooms.

2. Buying the highest-quality materials attracts more buyers.
Installing high-end materials may seem like a wise decision, but it can backfire. For instance, using the most expensive tile in a bathroom may create an impressive appearance, but value-conscious buyers may opt for a more affordable home if the seller has over-improved compared to others in the neighborhood.

3. Adding square footage always adds value.

A better way to think about this statement is to insert the worduseable into the sentence. Finished attics and basements – even if considered liveable by local standards – may not be attractive to a buyer if they are not finished to the same standards as the rest of the home.

4. Colors and textures – safe and simple is better.

Keeping a home “vanilla” so buyers can choose their own style and décor might be a safe bet, but it ignores the fact that most buyers just don’t have the ability to visualize the home differently. Without splashes of color and mixtures of texture, sellers can lose value to others that have taken the time to consult with an interior designer.

5. Inside improvements are better than outside improvements.

Not necessarily. If a home’s exterior has been neglected or doesn’t offer a good curb appeal, a buyer might stop there – and then the seller’s efforts on on the inside may not net them any more dollars. To get the biggest bang for their remodeling buck, sellers should start from the outside and work their way in.

6. Adding a bedroom is better than adding a bathroom.

It depends on the starting point. If a seller only has one or two bedrooms to start with, adding a bedroom before adding a second bath is probably a wise choice since most buyers are more attracted to three-bedroom homes. On the other hand, if the home already has three bedrooms and only one bath, the sellers’s next investment should probably be in a new bathroom.

Not all paint is created equal.

Not all paint is created equal.

7. Paint hides a multitude of sins.

Dry rot? Fungus damage? Mold problems? Carpenter ants? Termite issues? Nothing a can of paint can’t fix, right? Wrong! Not only does this practice violate disclosure laws in most states, it can set sellers up for liability after the sale, as most buyers will want the sellers to foot the bill for these hidden issues.

 

 

 

8. Converting a garage to living space is a great trade-off.

Nope. A garage conversion is almost always viewed negatively by future home buyers unless the sellers replace the lost garage with another parking and storage space of equal size.

9. Sellers can save money by doing improvements themselves.

For some homeowners, wiring a new lighting fixture or plumbing a new dishwasher is a no-brainer, but for others it may end up costing more later if they have to have the work redone by a professional. Another consideration is local and state laws regarding remodeling work: In many states if a buyer has purchased a home to remodel and resell, they must either hold a contractor’s license or hire a contractor to do the work for them.

10. Pools add value to your home.

This is only true in areas where pools are must-have amenities. In most areas of the country, pools have more limited appeal – and the idea of maintaining a pool for ten months out of the year when it can’t be enjoyed won’t appeal to most buyers.

Source:  Trulia