Sell Your Home

5 Steps for Boomers Preparing to Downsize

Although it can be difficult to move from the family home, the decision to downsize to a simpler and more affordable life can be a good one for aging baby boomers. Here are 5 steps on how to go about it:

  1. Dream, research & strategize – Make your wish list. Begin by dreaming and considering different scenarios. What matters most? Where do you want to be – city? suburbs? 55 & over community? What about location? Do you want to be close to medical? close to airport? close to family?
  2. Begin to Downsize in Place – That means begin to get rid of your stuff. Storage is a big issue when downsizing. One perspective is to imagine how many rooms you’ll have in your new home, then purge belongings to fit your new space.
  3. Use available resources to help market your home – Curb appeal and online marketing are important now. Use a real estate agent who can help you spruce up your home for sale. Impressions count – both in person and online.
  4. Make a detailed plan based on monthly payments – Downsizing savings typically come from lowering monthly mortgage payments by using cash from selling your existing home. Additional savings come from reduced property taxes, maintenance and utilities. Prepare for the long-term. A National Association of Realtors survey says downsizers on average plan to stay 15 years in their new home.beach House2
  5. Scout locations – This is the fun part. With the “business” side of downsizing taken care of and your wish list in hand, you can turn your dreams into reality. Hop on the internet to research – can you afford a London flat? How about the beaches in Mexico? Statistically, the trend for downsizing boomers is toward smaller, walkable U.S. cities with well furnished homes, high speed internet, and accessible services.

Information provided by Keller Williams Dallas Metro North. Call us today – we have over 400 qualified agents ready to assist you with your real estate needs!

Advertisements

Most Important Features Millennials Want in Their Homes

shutterstock_626492420There have been a lot of studies, think pieces and discussions trying to figure out millennials. Business owners were skeptical about hiring millennials a few years ago and now, as this younger generation continues to grow and succeed in life, the housing market seems to be the next millennial-facing industry.

There’s no doubt that millennials have finally entered the housing market. In fact, they currently make up 35 percent of buyers throughout the United States. Approximately 68 percent of all first-time home buyers fall into this age bracket, as well. But what do they want inside their homes?

Let’s take a look and see what millennials are looking for when it comes to buying a home.

Interior Laundry RoomSeparate Laundry Rooms – Say what you will about millennials and their laundry habits, the majority of millennial homebuyers are searching for homes with an additional room just for laundry. Roughly 92 percent of homebuyers want a separate laundry room, coming in as the No. 1 thing millennials are looking for.

Outdoor Lighting – The second most desired feature for millennial homebuyers is exterior lighting. Roughly 90 percent of all people searching for a home in the current market want exterior lighting to illuminate their landscape.

Energy-Efficient Appliances – Another aspect of home-buying that cracks the top 10 for millennials is having energy-efficient appliances inside the home. (In fact, across every generation of homebuyers, 90 percent of people are looking for this feature.)

Hardwood FlooringHardwood Floors – Millennial homebuyers also prefer hardwood floors for their homes. Rather than choosing carpeting, approximately 82 percent of homebuyers are searching for properties with open hardwood floor plans.

There are still plenty of millennials who aren’t ready to buy a home just yet – but it looks like these are the kinds of features they will be looking for when they are ready to enter the housing market.

Information about Millennial homebuyers provided by Keller Williams Dallas Metro North. Call us today – we have over 400 outstanding agents ready to assist you with your real estate needs!

 

Scare up a buyer with these Halloween marketing tips

Halloween outdoor decorHalloween isn’t just an opportunity to gorge on all things frightful or filled with sugar. It’s also a chance for home sellers to scare up a buyer!

Because these days, home sellers need as much marketing creativity as they can muster up. Now that the summer home-selling fever has died down, people are beginning to hunker down for the holidays. In fact, statistics show that home sales don’t pick back up again until spring. But if you have a home on the market, you don’t want to wait months and months to make the sale, right?

That’s where Halloween comes in: Every year, more than 41 million kids in the U.S. head out trick-or-treating on this holiday, trekking from door to door—many with parents in tow. In other words, Halloween is the one day of the year when you could have dozens of people visiting your house, no effort required!

So if you’re eager to use this opportunity to spread the word that your home’s for sale, check out these tactics to make that happen.

1. Turn your treats into marketing materials

Halloween treatsIt goes without saying that kids will happily take any treats you hand out at your door, and that parents will likely survey their haul (because, let’s be frank, parents like candy too and are not above pilfering). So this scenario creates prime opportunities for some stealth marketing: Use these candies to carry the message that your home’s up for grabs.

  • You can do this by attaching a small card or flier to your candy saying that your home is for sale, along with your address and contact info for your agent.
  • If you’re afraid this card will get chucked in the trash and you want your marketing material to stick around for longer, you can even print the deets on small toys like fidget spinners.
  • Or do you want something bigger, where you can post some nice real estate pics? Fraser suggests investing in quality fliers to post near the front door, so parents can grab them on their way off the porch.

2. Throw a Halloween-themed open house

Halloween house-for-sale-signRather than just getting trick-or-treaters on your porch, why not lure them into your house? The way to do that is to host a Halloween-themed open house, where you invite home buyers to check out your place with the bonus of giving them an excuse to celebrate all things scary.

You’ll want to ideally host your open house on the weekend of or before Halloween, and set up some kid-friendly activities to keep the tykes busy. Think apple bobbing, pumpkin painting, or even turning your place into a haunted house! What better way is there to get people poking through every closet and corner of your home?

A Halloween-themed open house is also a great way to lure in home buyers who might not normally trick-or-treat in your neighborhood—so be sure to get the word out far and wide.

Your agent might also host a broker’s open house, for real estate agents. After having a ghoulish good time at your Halloween open house, agents are sure to chat up your home to their buyers!

3. Don’t go overboard with your Halloween decor

pumpkin-on-haybaleFirst impressions of a home matter—by some estimates, you can increase a selling price by as much as 20% with some curb appeal improvements. You don’t want to undo all of that with over-the-top Halloween decorating. Remember, you want to draw attention to your gorgeous house, not to the scary ghouls hanging from your trees.

With that in mind, stick to inoffensive (read, appealing) mums or other fall-themed plants on the porch, and maybe a pumpkin or two—provided it’s not carved to look like scary.

If you have your heart set on something spooky, you might want to move the decor away from the home and into the yard, turning it into an attraction that will draw more families your way. One realtor suggests you set up a photo spot in your yard for trick-or-treaters. If your home’s “For Sale” sign happens to be in the background, all the better.

marketing ideas from realtor.com/Jeanne Sager

Happy Halloween from Keller Williams Dallas Metro North! Call us today. We have over 400 qualified realtors ready to assist you with your real estate needs!

Preparing your home for a Fall sale!

AutumnFall is a great time to sell a home! While springtime may be the most popular season to put your home on the market, there’s no reason to wait to sell your home – especially with housing inventories on the decline.

With fewer homes on the market, you will want to make sure your home really stands out to buyers by following these tips to prepare your home for a speedy sale:

Create Autumn Curb Appeal
Keep the outside of your home clean and neat; rake leaves, make sure lawn is mowed regularly. Plant fall flowers – chrysanthemums and pansies are very popular in this area. Make sure the front door is clean and hang a simple fall wreath. If the welcome mat is worn, replace it.

Make sure your windows are sparkling!

Check the Heating system
You don’t want any surprises when your home is on the market – be proactive and have the HVAC system checked so your furnace is ready for the first cold days of fall. By the way, you want the air inside your home to smell fresh – change your furnace filter.

Highlight the Fireplace!
First, make sure it works and is clean! Then emphasize it. Arrange your furniture to make the fireplace the focal point of the room; decorate your mantle with tasteful fall accessories or neutral artwork.

apples1Prepare Autumn Edibles
While it’s not necessary to bake cookies for your potential buyers, consider creating the same homey feel you get from baking with a few well-chosen foodie accessories. Fill a bowl with shiny red apples, open a cookbook to a chili or stew recipe (with pictures!), use autumn hued placemats on the table. Create a homey, welcoming atmosphere!

Emphasize comfort and luxury
Emphasize comfort by tossing a cozy throw over a chair, using plush pillows on the sofa, and adding a few fall accents (pinecones, pumpkins, gourds, candles). Use table linens. Don’t forget about the bedrooms – layer the beds with luxurious throws and pillows, display plush towels in the bathroom.

Brighten up your home!
Autumn signals shorter days and chances are good your home will be viewed in the evening. Make sure your outdoor lights have working light bulbs, and clean the glass. Indoors, turn on the lights! Include closets, stairways – you want your home to be bright and welcoming.

During the day, bring in the light. Pull up the blinds, open the shutters, pull back the curtains.

mintsApply a Little Southern Hospitality
While not required, it’s a nice touch to leave a treat by the front door that potential buyers and their realtor can grab as they leave your home … wrapped mints, individually wrapped candy corn, snack size candy bars. It’s also nice to provide a small tray or bowl for realtors to leave their business cards.

pumpkin-on-haybaleAbout Halloween Décor
According to Realtor.com, you don’t have to forgo all festive decorations, but you do have to choose them wisely. In general, decorations should be neutral. Think scarecrows, pumpkins, and hay bales. As for what not to do, well, avoid blood, gore, political decor, clowns, and don’t over decorate. And a word to the wise … keep an eye on the pumpkins. Nobody wants to encounter rotting produce!

Information provided by Keller Williams Dallas Metro North. Thinking about selling your home? Call us today – we have over 400 highly qualified agents ready to assist you with your real estate needs.

Sellers saying “Now is a good time to sell!”

shutterstock_1638721Many homeowners have been reluctant to list their homes for sale – some by choice, some for fear of being unable to afford a new home, or of coming out in the red.

71% of survey respondents believe now is a good time to sell
Recently released findings from a survey by the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) show more homeowners are ready to move on and unload… or, at least, say they are. Seventy-one percent of survey respondents for the quarterly Housing Opportunities and Market Experience (HOME) report believe now is a good time to sell, an increase from 69 percent the previous quarter and 61 percent one year ago.

“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,” says Lawrence Yun, chief economist at NAR. “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. 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.”

Renters less sure about their home-buying prospects
Renters, however, are less sure about their home-buying prospects. Fifty-two percent of renters surveyed believe now is a good time to buy a home, a decrease from 56 percent the previous quarter and 62 percent one year ago. Eighty percent of homeowners surveyed, to compare, believe now is a good time to buy. Forty-two percent of respondents believe homes are affordable, with respondents living in the Midwest most likely to believe homes are affordable and respondents living in the West least likely to believe homes are affordable.

Business 01Survey respondents are reining in their optimism in the economy, as well, according to the report. Fifty-four percent of those surveyed believe the economy is improving, which is in contrast to a record 62 percent the previous quarter. (Homeowners, notably, tend to be more optimistic about the economy.) The survey’s Personal Financial Outlook Index, which gauges respondents’ sentiment on their financial situation over the next six months, dropped to 57.2 in June.

“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),” Yun says. “Paying more in rent each year and seeing home prices outpace their incomes is discouraging, and it’s unfortunately pushing homeownership further away – especially for those living in expensive metro areas on the East and West Coast.”

New Home - family - 01Twenty percent of respondents, especially those with annual incomes less than $50,000 and/or under age 34, would consider moving to a more affordable area.

“Areas with strong job markets but high home prices risk a migration of middle-class households to other parts of the country if rising housing costs in those areas are not contained through a significant ramp-up in new home construction,” Yun says.

Information provided by Keller Williams Dallas metro North. Call us today – we have over 400 qualified agents ready to assist you with your real estate needs.

Home Inspections – Items That Aren’t Deal-Breakers

Contract 01After making an offer on a home, you’ll enter into a contract. Part of that contract should always include getting a home inspection. It is recommended that any homebuyer make an offer to purchase contingent upon a home inspection. This allows you to withdraw your offer if there are any major issues discovered during an inspection.

More than likely, the home inspector will find problems that need to be fixed before closing. Major foundation issues and significant water damage are at the top of the list of signs to walk away from.

On the other hand, there are some home defects found during an inspection that don’t have to be deal-breakers. Many of them can be fixed, and they can be used to negotiate with the seller for a lower price point or additional help with the closing costs.

homeinspection2Lead-Based Paint
Lead-based paint was banned in 1978, but it’s still possible that you could purchase a home that contains it if it was built before the ban. The sellers should disclose this, but the home inspector may find it, as well.

Ultimately, it is up to you to decide how comfortable you are with purchasing a home that has lead-based paint, but it doesn’t have to be a deal-breaker. You can hire a contractor who is certified to remove lead-based paint, and the home will be completely safe.

Concrete Floor Cracks
Cracks in a concrete basement floor may seem like a structural problem, but this is natural and not indicative of significant damage. Small cracks occur in concrete because it’s a porous substance. These cracks can be fixed at a relatively low cost, and shouldn’t be a reason for you to back out of a contract.

What is something that’s cause for concern are cracks in concrete walls, as these may or may not be associated with the structure. If the wall has moved or if the cracks have a large opening, then these would be deal-breakers.

Mold
Mold is something that no one ever wants to see in a home you put an offer on, but a little bit of mold by the shower doesn’t mean you need to back out of your offer – at least not immediately.

If mold is found during the home inspection, have a qualified mold inspector take a look. Not all molds are toxic, but the safest way to determine if this is a deal-breaker is by hiring a mold professional.

pestcontrol1Bug Infestations
Bug infestations can cause significant damage to the home’s structure if they aren’t exterminated quickly and efficiently. A home inspector may find signs of an infestation during an inspection, but how do you tell if it’s truly a deal-breaker?

The best way to know if there is pest damage to the home’s structure or foundation is to ask a qualified pest expert to do an additional inspection of the home. Someone who is a specialist will be able to tell you if the home just has a few bugs, or if you need to rescind your offer.

When problems arise during home inspections, it doesn’t always mean you have to back out of your contract. Home inspectors will often find problems outside of their scope of expertise, so always get a second opinion from a specialist before making a final decision. In many instances, these problems are opportunities to negotiate with the seller. You can request that the seller do the repairs, or ask for money to put towards repairs.

homeinspection3You can also ask the seller to include a home warranty on the home in the contract of sale, but it won’t repair the problems found in a home inspection contract. A home warranty is there to protect you from aging systems and appliances after you buy. Think of getting car insurance on a car that was just wrecked and then opening a claim – it wouldn’t work, because the insurance was put on after the damage happened. The same goes for a home warranty.

Information provided by Keller Williams Dallas Metro North. Call us today – we have over 400 qualified agents ready to assist you with your real estate needs!

5 Tips to find the right Realtor

Realtor 02Once you’ve decided to sell your home, you need a trusted guide by your side: Realtor, of course! Your realtor will be a trusted partner in this most important of all transaction. Here are 5 ways to find a Realtor who’s right for you.

Gather referrals, but take them with a grain of salt

There are a lot of agents out there. So how do you choose? Go ahead and ask your pals for referrals, but don’t fall into the trap of picking an agent purely because of rave reviews. The old mantra of location, location, location applies to real estate agents as much as homes.

“You want a Realtor who is very familiar with your area—and not just what he can pull up online,” says Wendy Flynn, a Realtor in College Station, TX. The reason is simple: If they’ve spent time in the area, they’ll know how to market your house there.

So a better question to ask your friends than “Know any real estate agents?” is, “Know a real estate agent who’s sold any properties in my area in the past few years?”

Test their communication skills

Once you have your list of potential agents, email them or call their office, then sit back and wait. This is your first test of a key component: how responsive will your agent be? Ideally, she should get back to you that same day.

“If it takes longer than four business hours without a decent explanation, I would be cautious,” says Chandler Crouch, broker for Chandler Crouch Realtors in Fort Worth, TX. Imagine if you’ve got competing offers on the table, or if some problem comes up with the home inspection. You don’t want to wonder where your agent is and whether you’ll hear back from her!

Probe their experience

Your initial conversation with a prospective listing agent should be like any job interview: Don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions right off the bat. A good agent should know his stats, and any dancing around these numbers could mean he’s hiding something. According to Crouch, you should ask the following:

  • How long have you been in business? Aim for Realtors with at least two years of experience, enough time to learn the ropes and finesse their marketing and selling plans. Time (on the job) is money (in your pocket).
  • How many houses did you sell last year? Look for agents with double-digit sales. “I wouldn’t consider an agent unless they had 20 or more sells a year,” Crouch says.
  • What percentage of your listings do you sell? Ideally you want an agent who has sold an average of 60% to 80%.
  • What is the average list price to actual sell price ratio for your listings? This can fluctuate by market, but you should still look for high numbers. “I would set a low bar of 95% to be acceptable for even the worst market conditions,” Crouch says.

Assess their marketing skills

Everyone knows that to sell a house quickly (and get the big bucks) you need to reach as many eyeballs as you can. And the way to suss out an agent’s ability to do that is to ask these questions:

  • How will you market my home? A Realtor should use at least a good brokerage website to showcase your listing, national listing portals such as realtor.com®, and an email subscription list.
  • How will you use social media? They should use at least Facebook and Twitter to market listings; they get bonus points if they post photos on Instagram.
  • What offline materials do you use? While most marketing is done online now, your Realtor should still make use of tried-and-true methods such as fliers, yard signs, and brochures, especially at an open house.
  • How much do you spend on advertising? “Don’t stop asking until you get a solid dollar figure,” Crouch says. Advertising costs vary widely by area, but Realtors should consistently spend a portion of their business expenses on advertising. By asking for a set amount, you’ll know if they’re doing that or not.

Don’t shoot for cheap

Finally, don’t assume the most inexpensive agent is the one for you. While agents work at different price points and some may take a lower commission, they should be confident enough in their abilities to stand by their prices, according to Crouch. So when you’re talking terms, he recommends asking agents if they’ll work on a discount. If they jump at the chance early on in the conversation, that might be a red flag.

“Think about this: If the agent can’t even negotiate to protect their own money, how likely do you think it will be for them to go to bat to protect your money?” Crouch says. “It’ll be a test of confidence in their own services at least.”

by Angela Colley, real estate writer for Realtor.com 

 

Information provided by Keller Williams Dallas Metro North. Call us today – we have over 400 qualified agents ready to assist you with your real estate needs!