Curb appeal and home staging are two critical elements for sellers to consider when listing their properties for sale. Buyers make judgments based on the first impression, so when they walk through the front door, they want to see organized and functional spaces. Check out this CNN Money video for more information on why home staging matters.
Selling your home may seem easier this summer, but ascertaining the highest bid will still require a few proactive steps. In some areas of the nation, home prices have gone up substantially. Bryan Sweeley, a Silicon Valley-based realtor with Zip Realty, notes that home prices in his region have increased by 20 to 30 percent, some properties selling for 5 to 15 percent over the asking price, reports Fox Business.
Fannie Mae’s research indicates that 40 percent of survey respondents felt that it was a good time to sell in May, up 16 percent from the same month a year ago. While the market conditions currently favor sellers, homeowners should still woo their buyers. Putting your property’s best foot forward requires the usual measures like increasing curb appeal, posting stellar online photographs, and staging the home.
Many homeowners tackle home repairs, improvements, and aesthetics on their own. Online resources like HGTV.com offer an array of resources on staging. But when it comes to online property photos, consider hiring an expert. Professional photographers can capture the best features to showcase the home. For more information on professional photography for selling real estate, check out Better Homes and Garden.com.
Younger buyers may be searching for homes in ways that are different from their parents’ generation. First, Gen X and Y almost always start looking online. Move-in ready or updated houses are more appealing to them than properties requiring TLC. For more information, tune into the conversation between Malcolm Maddox of Detroit’s WXYZ TV and Jeanette Schneider, vice president of RE/Max of Southeastern Michigan.
Work/career mobility is becoming a mainstay of the U.S. labor landscape, and it may have a significant effect on housing. During the recent recession, mobility was down. The U.S. Census Bureau reported that fewer Americans were moving from March 2007 to March 2008, the lowest number since 1962, reports The New York Times. But as experts suggest, a growing economy can spur increasing rates of migration.
If these rates begin to rise, affordable housing will become increasingly important to households where individuals need flexibility to follow their jobs. Cash Nickerson, president and CEO of PDS Tech, believes that employment and real estate are closely intertwined. According to Realtor.com, Nickerson predicts the following trends:
- The automobile is a mobile housing unit, so the actual house footprint will get smaller.
- Companies need to engage in housing services by offering their workers counsel or temporary housing opportunities.
- A need for house leasing or short-term purchase options will become more acute.
- Transactional costs associated with real estate purchases need to be restructured to minimize the financial burden on moving households.
Moving rates can differ in various regions throughout the U.S. In Chicago, local residential moves were down in 2009, said Patrick Bonnema, sales manager for Anderson Brothers Moving and Storage in Chicago. “Look at the economy, look at the banking industry, look at the credit industry. People can’t move, what are they going to do? Their homes are now worth less than what they originally paid, and they don’t want to take a loss.”
As housing prices rise and more underwater homeowners recoup their lost equity, time will tell how migration trends develop.
Kitchen cabinets have gone through a makeover in recent years, especially as homes have gotten bigger. Some homeowners have found that the traditional upper cabinets at 12 inches deep cannot accommodate for oversize dishes. The alternative depth of 14 to 16 inches is becoming a new standard, or at least a common option, according to a Wall Street Journal report.
In addition to getting deeper, upper cabinets have also risen several inches from 18 to 21 inches above the counter. The increased space between the counter top and the base of the upper cabinets not only provides extra room for bigger and taller appliances, but also adds a sense of airiness to the room.
If you’re renovating an existing kitchen or replacing old cabinets, consider these simple do’s, courtesy of House Beautiful:
- Bring cabinets all the way up to the ceiling.
- Use cabinetry to conceal some appliances.
- Leave some space to breath; don’t cover every wall with cabinetry.
- Invest in cabinets that showcase quality and good looks.
For more inspiring ideas, check out House Beautiful’s spotlight on kitchens from the simple to exotic.
The real estate market has posted a significant year-over-year gain of 10.9 percent from March 2012 to March 2013, reports Time. All 20 cities measured by Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller Home Price Index indicate year-over-year gains.
Here’s a summary of the markets with the biggest increases:
- Detroit — 18.5 percent
- Atlanta — 19.1 percent
- Las Vegas — 17.6 percent
- Phoenix — 22.5 percent
In the first quarter of 2013, Charlotte, Los Angeles, Portland, Seattle, and Tampa experienced their largest month-over-month gains in over seven years. Around the U.S., home prices have returned to levels seen in late 2003.
While the number of Americans in foreclosure has dipped below the 5 million mark in April, inventories still remain tight in many regions of the U.S. Zillow reports that its February site listings decreased by 17 percent from the prior year. The firm predicts that approximately 1.4 million homeowners with negative equity will turn the corner in the beginning of 2014. Some of these households can then list and sell their properties, potentially alleviating some of the inventory shortage.
North America birthed its first “active” house in St. Louis, Mo., in March of this year. What is an “active” home? Essentially, it incorporates a comprehensive green design on the interior and exterior of the dwelling and uses a variety of energy-efficient, environmentally friendly practices and guidelines, according to Time. The “active” house both produces and conserves energy, whereas the “passive” house focuses on conservation.
But is the active home practical for the average homebuyer? Matt Blecher, principal of Verdatek Solutions LLC, a specialist in green building who managed the St. Louis project, noted that it must be affordable if the marketplace is going to support it. The home cost about $500,000 to build, more than double the average listing price of properties for sale in the same area. However, the prospect of long-term energy savings might appeal to environmentally and fiscally conservative buyers.
David and Thuy Smith, owners of the Webster Groves house, say that their new residence fits right into the older, well-established neighborhood, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Their active property has clapboard siding, a stone-trimmed foundation, and a wraparound porch with tapered Craftsman-style columns, proving that green housing can take both traditional and modern forms.
For pictures and details of America’s first active home, check out the website, activehouseusa.com.
When architect John Nystrom set out to build his retirement home, he knew the sky was the limit. But “as many architects would testify, [I] could never afford what I was capable of designing,” said Nystrom. So he decided to go with his heart and construct a dwelling inspired by a simple barn. Watch the video about this Boerne, TX, house that was made from the simple stuff of dreams.
Housing incentives are key for a thriving middle class, according to the National Association of Home Builders. Simplifying the tax code should not do away with the incentives that have helped homeowners and renters.
Robert Dietz, an economist and assistant vice president for the NAHB, defended three key incentives in his testimony during a House Ways and Means Committee hearing on tax reform and residential real estate in April 2013. Dietz called on Congress to maintain its support for three critical housing tax incentives.
- The Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC), which has provided more than 2 million affordable rental units since the program’s inception in 1986, should continue. According to U.S. Census data, more than 40 percent of renters pay over 30 percent of their household income on rent. The LIHTC can help alleviate some of this burden on our nation’s renters.
- The mortgage interest tax deduction is a real benefit tapped by the majority of homeowners; close to 70 percent of homeowners claimed the deduction in 2009. Dietz refutes the argument that the deduction drives families to buy bigger homes; larger families needing more space is the real cause.
- Repealing the real estate tax deduction can penalize homeowners who pay more than $300 billion in property taxes each year, money that goes to state and local governments.
President Obama’s State of the Union address to Congress this past February acknowledged that “a growing economy that creates good, middle-class jobs… must be the North Star that guides our efforts,” reports CBS News. So how do we help the middle class? Preserving housing tax incentives is one way to achieve that goal, in Dietz’s opinion.