Area Real Estate News & Market Trends

You’ll find our blog to be a wealth of information, covering everything from local market statistics and home values to community happenings. That’s because we care about the community and want to help you find your place in it. Please reach out if you have any questions at all. We’d love to talk with you!

Oct. 4, 2017

Why Autumn Is a Prime Home-Selling Season

 

Fall officially began Sept. 23, but that doesn't mean you should scrap plans for selling your home this year. In fact, October, November and December can actually be good months to sell. Now is the time to plan for it if you've even considered putting your home on the market.

For decades, the conventional thinking was that if you missed the spring selling season, you missed the boat. Once summer rolls around and school starts shortly after that, families are more settled, the thinking went, and therefore less inclined to pick up and move (unless a job change or other%VIRTUAL-pullquote-Spring is still the busiest time overall. But there's plenty of action happening after Labor Day through Christmas....% circumstance forced them).

Also, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's and the January cold snaps follow the start of school. In the past, no one wanted to take time to drive around looking at homes when all of this was happening.

Things have changed. Today's buyers aren't necessarily timing a home purchase or sale around school schedules because people tend to settle down later in life and live longer. The result is urban expansion; more single, first-time and millennial buyers as well as baby boomers looking to buy (and sell). Also, a lot of home-shopping, at least initially, happens online and via apps. Buyers don't have to take time out of their busy schedules to drive around -- they can just sit down with a tablet on the couch.

As a result of the Internet, our hectic schedules and mobile lifestyles, the fall months are no longer a real estate dead zone. True, spring is still the busiest time overall. But there's plenty of action happening after Labor Day through Christmas, enough to make it worth your while to put up the 'For Sale' sign.

Here's why....

Buyers are still out there: As mentioned, buyers never stop looking. A serious buyer is looking at new homes online 24/7, even through the holidays. If the right home appears, they're ready to move. In fact, it could be that buyers in the early winter months are even more motivated than buyers in warmer months because there is less going on. They have fewer distractions and are laser focused on finding a home.

There's less competition: A lot of people still buy into the old thinking that real estate slows to a crawl by October and virtually stops from Thanksgiving until, say, Valentine's Day. As a consequence, many potential sellers figure there's no reason to go on the market during these months. So they wait for spring. And that's good news for you, because less inventory on the market = less competition for you.

Even January can be a good time to sell: By now you're probably thinking about all the disruptions to your life that selling a home during the holidays might cause. For instance, you're in the middle of wrapping Christmas gifts when your agent calls. She wants you to leave the house right away so she can bring a motivated buyer by for another look.

If the potential for disruptions concerns you, put your home on the market in January. Inventory will still be very tight, and there will still be buyers out there looking. In fact, with the holidays over, there may even be more buyers out in January than in December. Also, January buyers may be more motivated. They've started doing their taxes and realize they need to buy. Or they've set a New Year's resolution to buy a home within the next 12 months.

Ultimately, as we enter the final quarter of 2014, there will no doubt be plenty of motivated buyers in the market, searching for just the right home at a time when there's less inventory. Doesn't that sound like a good time to sell?

Posted in FALL SEASON 2017
Oct. 4, 2017

How to Sell Homes in Fall Season

 

The fall real estate market is almost always a hot season. Home selling in autumn or fall is the second best time of the year to sell a home. Families have returned from summer vacations. Kids have gone back to school. The holidays aren't yet upon us, at least not yet in an annoying way. We are set to enjoy 75 to 80 days of normalcy, and that's a great time to sell a home.

In parts of the country with four seasons, we watch leaves explode in vibrant colors as for sale signs pop up in yards.

People are happy and relaxed as the temperature begins to drop. It's not just sweater weather that creates static electricity in autumn; it's the scurrying of agents diligently working to pop a few more sales into the hopper before third quarter sales results are posted.

Here are 10 tips for attracting the autumn home buyer in the fall:

Clean Up the Yard

Rake dead leaves and debris in your lawn. Don't let overgrown vegetation block the windows or path to the entrance. Cutting bushes and tree limbs will let the sun inside and showcase the exterior of your home. Cut away summer vines and cut down dead flowers. Make the most of the autumn weather in the fall real estate market.

Create Autumn Curb Appeal

The most popular autumn flowers are chrysanthemums (or mums), and they bloom for a long time. I am also partial to marigolds for fall. Both mums and marigolds are available in yellow, which is my number one home selling color.

Plant them in pots. Place pots on the steps and along the sidewalk. Accent with pumpkins or other types of squash.

Dress the Windows

Rain and wind from over the summer months can make your windows dusty and streaked by autumn. You might not notice smudges, but buyers will, if only on a subconscious level.

To sell a home, your windows need to sparkle. Even though I am not selling my home, my cats routinely rub their little noses on the inside glass while walking along window ledges, so I need to wash my windows inside and out every autumn. Remove screens and spray them down.

Check the HVAC

You want the air inside your home to smell fresh. When was the last time you changed your furnace filter? You can buy 90-day furnace filters. Have the HVAC system checked before you need to turn on the heat. Besides, the buyer will ask a home inspector to look at your HVAC. If you discover problems with your furnace, it's better to fix them before your home goes on the market.

Clean Out the Fireplace for the Fall Real Estate Market

Ah, nothing smells like autumn than smoke from a wood-burning fireplace. However, in some parts of the country, burning wood indoors or outdoors is outlawed. In Sacramento, we have certain days when we are not allowed to burn wood in the fireplace. If you have a gas fireplace, light it when buyers come through. If the fireplace is filled with cobwebs because it hasn't been used for months, vacuum it out and wash it down. Some home stagers arrange knickknacks in the fireplace in place of wood logs.

Prepare Autumn Edibles

Speaking of autumn scents, you might set out freshly baked pumpkin cupcakes or simmer hot apple cider on the stove. Put a tray of cinnamon sticks on the counter, dotted with whole cloves. One of my favorite autumn treats as a kid was snickerdoodle cookies. Prop open a cookbook to an autumn stew. Fill a bowl with crisp red apples.

Set the Mood for Fall Real Estate Musically

When I think of autumn music, beyond "See You in September" and "California Dreamin'," polka music and accordions come to mind. German beer fests are always held in October. But that doesn't seem appropriate for autumn home selling unless you're entertaining a frat house. I suspect a home seller is better off with Enya's "The First of Autumn" or George Winston's new age piano album "Autumn."

Utilize Autumn Accent Colors

You don't need to dump a lifeless sofa when you can accessorize its dullness with bright red, orange and/or golden yellow pillows.

Toss a quilt or autumn-colored throw over a chair. After you've cleared away the clutter and depersonalized each room, bring a little bit of autumn hues to each room by placing bold-colored accent pieces in odd groupings such as 3's and 5's. Create an autumn centerpiece for the dining room table by arranging pine cones and nuts around orange candles, stick in a few leaves from the yard.

Turn on the Lights Everywhere

Above all, bring in the light. When days get shorter, the sun sets lower in the horizon and casts wider shadows. Pull up the blinds, open the shutters, push back the drapes on every window. Turn on every light in the house, including appliance lights and closet lights. Brighten darker rooms with few windows by placing spotlights on the floor behind furniture, and for goodness sakes, turn off the TV.

Offer Parting Treats to Potential Buyers

I like to leave a guest book by the door for people to leave comments about the home. Gathering buyer feedback can be crucial. And buyers will feel more compelled to leave you a note if you give them something in return. Like tiny packets of candy corn or those snack-sized candy bars -- oh, I love Snickers bars like no tomorrow. Or you can go all-out and leave a tray of individually wrapped caramelized apples, tied with a curling ribbon.

 

-Benjamin Simanton

Owner/Agent RE/Max Optima

Posted in FALL SEASON 2017
Sept. 22, 2017

The HOME I LOVE in 5 Easy Steps!

 

You finally find that perfect home! So what's next?

Buying real estate can be overwhelming at times, especially if you haven't done this before. Somehow, some of us might not know that owning a home can be as simple as 5 steps.

1. MAKE AN OFFER

You keep on looking for different homes and finally found the place you love and think it could be your future. Take it seriously, call your Buyer's Agent, make an offer and write-up a contract before anyone else does!
What's holding you back? Is that the down payment? No need to worry! Even if you are not a Veteran you can get yourself qualified in a USDA Loan, these loans allow borrowers to put NO MONEY DOWN on their home mortgage. This may seem too good to be true, but because USDA Loans are backed and guaranteed to lenders by the USDA, putting NO MONEY DOWN is not just a possibility but the best option for anyone looking to buy a home, but you still have to prepare some money for the Earnest Money Deposit to show how serious you are about buying the home. So go ahead and ask your agent to send the offer to the seller's agent.

2. Appraisal

Even if property comps have been presented and you are satisfied with the price, your bank of the loan will still do the due diligence to make sure that the contract price is the right price.

3. Inspections

Having the biggest investment of your lifetime, you have the right to a property inspection to make sure that all components of the home especially the roof, H VAC, pipes and electrical wiring are in good shape and will satisfy your expectation.

4. Final Walk-through

You wanted to make sure that the property you fell in love with the first day is still in the same condition as when you first saw it. You want to be certain that the seller didn't remove any fixtures and inclusions or made any modifications as agreed on the signed contract.

5. CLOSING

Finally, the day has come that you'll get to own the home you love! Closing dates vary, but it commonly happens either on the site or with an escrow officer in the title company. You will now be able to get the keys and have the paperwork proving that finally, the home you love is yours!

So if you are renting, re-think and get yourself up. Ask a financial adviser if you can qualify to get your own home. Stop renting, and start owning!

 

Sept. 22, 2017

Why do I need a Real Estate Agent?

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Some of us would think that hiring a realtor will prevent you from getting the most money out of the property you are selling or an extra cost to pay off their fees, but on a second thought, realtors play the most important thing in the transaction that surely is in your favor. Here are the TOP 5 REASONS WHY YOU NEED A REALTOR.

1. Source of Information

promo1-detailTrends in the real estate market change on almost a daily basis. They can provide the latest information on the latest changes in market pricing, regulations and more!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Know the Processimages

After you’ve accepted an offer, the process isn’t quite over. There likely will be inspections and appraisals among other processes and paperwork that must be done. An agent knows these processes and can help guide you through them, making the transition quicker and easier than it would be on your own.

3. Better Pricing

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Anyone can spend a few minutes online and pull information on sales of comparable houses, real estate agents have the experience to know whether a specific house is overpriced or underpriced. In the best-case scenario, an agent will have such a good idea of what you're looking for that she won't even waste your time touring houses that won't work.

4. Generate Exposure

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Agents know where to list a house and will promote it to potential buyers who contact them in search of their next home. This means your property will receive more showings and potentially higher offers thanks to your real estate agent’s connections and professional expertise.

5. Avoid Closing Problems

 

20161128-Share-KCM-200x105Once you receive an offer, there is still work to be done. Luckily, if you’ve hired a realtor, they know this process like the back of their hand. From negotiations to contracts, inspections to closing, they can guide you every step of the way and make the process extremely simple. Enabling your real estate agent to speak on your behalf also reduces the stress of negotiating because they can handle the critical comments about your home that can offend sellers and often derail an otherwise good deal. And if something unexpected arises, your realtor has it handled.

Sept. 14, 2017

Are you qualified for Federal Disaster Assistance?

Are you in an official disaster zone?

When local and state resources are overwhelmed by a severe disaster, your state’s governor will request that the president issue a Major Disaster Declaration. This is the only declaration that can activate a range of federal assistance programs for individuals and families. Assistance may include temporary housing, low-interest loans and grants, counseling for post-disaster trauma and other services.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, doesn’t activate all of its assistance programs in every natural disaster. It largely depends on the nature of damages reported by your state.

To qualify for federal disaster assistance, your losses must have occurred in an area covered by a Major Disaster Declaration. If you have online access, you can quickly determine this at FEMA’s Federal Disaster Declarations Web page.

A number of criteria are used in the determination of a major disaster area, including the amount and type of damage, the imminent threats to public health and safety, and level of insurance coverage in place for homeowners and public facilities, according to fema.gov.

Make an insurance claim

After determining whether you are in a major disaster area, you should file an insurance claim with your home and/or auto insurance company for any damages incurred. Failure to file an insurance claim may affect your eligibility for federal assistance, because by law, FEMA cannot provide money for losses that are covered by insurance.

Once you file your claim, FEMA may be able to provide some assistance in the following circumstances.

  • Delayed insurance settlement: If your settlement is delayed longer than 30 days, FEMA may loan you some money. It will expect you to repay the loan when your settlement arrives. How to file: Write FEMA with a full explanation and insurance claim number, the date of the claim and documentation.
  • Your insurance settlement falls short: If the maximum payment from your settlement doesn’t cover your disaster-related needs, FEMA may help make up the difference. How to file: Write FEMA with a full explanation and complete insurance documentation.
  • Additional Living Expenses exhausted: If you’ve exhausted your insurance company’s maximum loss-of-use settlement, FEMA may be able to help with your disaster-related temporary housing needs. Write them with explanation and documentation.

 

Types of federal disaster assistance: housing and nonhousing

There are two types of direct federal disaster assistance available: housing needs and nonhousing needs:

Housing assistance. This includes temporary housing and money to help repair or replace your primary residence. To qualify for housing needs assistance, you or someone living with you must be a U.S. citizen, noncitizen national or qualified alien; your home must be your permanent residence; and you must have been living in the home when the disaster hit but not currently able to due to damage from the disaster.

Nonhousing needs. These include medical, dental and funeral costs; clothing and household items; tools; home fuel; disaster-related moving and storage; and replacement of a disaster-damaged vehicle. In order to qualify for these, you or someone living with you must be a U.S. citizen, noncitizen national or qualified alien; you must have serious disaster-related needs and expenses; and you must have accepted all assistance for which you are eligible from insurance proceeds and Small Business Administration, or SBA, disaster loans.

The SBA provides federally subsidized disaster loans to repair or replace homes or personal property of qualified homeowners and businesses. SBA loans comprise the lion’s share of federal disaster assistance.

Additional forms of direct federal assistance include crisis counseling; disaster unemployment assistance; legal services, including assistance with insurance claims; and special tax consideration that enables you to deduct a casualty loss that exceeds 10 percent of your adjusted gross income on your federal tax return for the current or previous tax year.

What’s next

Once you’ve applied for federal disaster assistance, you can check the status of your application within 24 hours via the same method you applied. FEMA will also mail you a copy of your application along with a detailed guide that walks you through the assistance process.

An inspector working with FEMA will contact you 10 to 14 days after your application to schedule a time to visit your home and inspect the disaster-related damage. There is no charge for this inspection, but you must be present during the inspection and prepared to offer the inspector proof of ownership and occupancy.

  • Proof of ownership includes any of the following: deed, tax records, mortgage payment book or a homeowners insurance policy showing you as the owner. Lacking these, the inspector may be able to obtain proof from a county property tax website.
  • Proof of occupancy includes any of the following: driver’s license with address, a recent utility bill in your name or any first-class government mail sent to you at your address during the past three months.

Do you qualify?

Inspectors submit their report to FEMA but play no role in determining your eligibility for assistance.

It will take FEMA about 10 days to review your inspection. If you qualify for a grant, FEMA will send you a check by mail with a letter explaining how you are to use the money (you’ll receive this via direct deposit if you supplied your bank routing number on your application).

The grant is tax-free and does not require repayment. However, you cannot give it to someone else and you must use it as specified by FEMA. If you don’t, you won’t be granted any additional assistance and you may be asked to pay it back.

If you do not qualify for a grant, you’ll receive a letter explaining why. You have the right to appeal. Appeals must be written and mailed within 60 days of receiving FEMA’s decision.

In a third scenario, FEMA may send you an application to apply for a loan through the Small Business Administration. You must complete and submit the SBA loan application to be considered for a loan as well as certain types of grant assistance. If the SBA then determines that you do not qualify for a loan, it will automatically refer you back to FEMA for grant assistance.

FEMA service information to keep handy:

To register for federal disaster assistance:

Online: DisasterAssistance.gov
Phone: 
(800) 621-3362
Teletypewriter, or TTY: 
(800) 462-7585
Smartphone: m.fema.gov

To locate a mobile: Disaster Recovery Center

For housing assistance: FEMA Housing Portal

To appeal a FEMA grant denial, write to:

FEMA - Individuals & Households Program
National Processing Service Center
P.O. Box 10055
Hyattsville, MD 20782-7055

Or send fax to: (800) 827-8112

Attention: FEMA -- Individuals & Households Program

Sept. 12, 2017

Let's talk about insurance...To File or Not To File..

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Sept. 9, 2017

Hurricane Shelters 101

HURRICANE SHELTERS

·         Usually schools or other solidly constructed buildings that provide a large, safe area

·         Should always be considered a last resort if relatives or friends aren’t available

·         Tend to lack many comforts such as bedding, pillows and food - so bring your own

·         Space can be limited: Leave ASAP if your home is vulnerable and under evacuation order

·         Locations can change from year to year - keep informed through television, radio and the Internet

·         Be prepared to live with strangers in close quarters for the duration of the storm

·         Daycare is not provided - supervise your children

 

WHAT TO BRING?

·         Water

·         Food

·         Clothing and bedding

·         Personal items

·         Medications

·         First-aid supplies

·         Important papers

·         Miscellaneous items like games, toys, battery powered radios, flashlights, batteries

 

HAVE A PET?

·         Do not leave your pet behind

·         Find a pet-friendly relative or friend’s house out of evacuation area

·         Stay at a pet-friendly motel or hotel

·         Last resort: Find a pet-friendly emergency shelter

·         Local kennels and vet’s offices may not be the best places to house pet because their buildings might not be built to withstand hurricane force winds either.

 

OTHER TIPS

·         Be ready to set up a home away from home

·         Take a shower and eat before leaving home

·         Register immediately upon entering the shelter

·         Obey shelter rules

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Sept. 8, 2017

A Quick Reminder from Ben Simanton....

What to do when a hurricane is 36 hours from arriving:

·         Turn on your TV or radio in order to get the latest weather updates and emergency instructions.

·         Build or restock your emergency preparedness kit. Include food and water sufficient for at least three days, medications, a flashlight, batteries, cash, and first aid supplies.

·         Plan how to communicate with family members if you lose power. For example, you can call, text, email or use social media. Remember that during disasters, sending text messages is usually reliable and faster than making phone calls because phone lines are often overloaded.

·         Review your evacuation plan with your family. You may have to leave quickly so plan ahead.

·         Keep your car in good working condition, and keep the gas tank full; stock your vehicle with emergency supplies and a change of clothes.

 

What to do when a hurricane is 6-18 hours from arriving:

·         Turn on your TV/radio, or check your city/county website every 30 minutes in order to get the latest weather updates and emergency instructions.

·         Charge your cell phone now so you will have a full battery in case you lose power.

·         What to do when a hurricane is 18-36 hours from arriving

·         Bookmark your city or county website for quick access to storm updates and emergency instructions.

·         Bring loose, lightweight objects inside that could become projectiles in high winds (e.g., patio furniture, garbage cans); anchor objects that would be unsafe to bring inside (e.g., propane tanks); and trim or remove trees close enough to fall on the building.

·         Cover all of your home’s windows. Permanent storm shutters offer the best protection for windows. A second option is to board up windows with 5/8” exterior grade or marine plywood, cut to fit and ready to install.

 

What to do when a hurricane is 6 hours from arriving:

·         If you’re not in an area that is recommended for evacuation, plan to stay at home or where you are and let friends and family know where you are.

·         Close storm shutters, and stay away from windows. Flying glass from broken windows could injure you.

·         Turn your refrigerator or freezer to the coldest setting and open only when necessary. If you lose power, food will last longer. Keep a thermometer in the refrigerator to be able to check the food temperature when the power is restored.

Turn on your TV/radio, or check your city/county website every 30 minutes in order to get the latest weather updates and emergency instructions.

 

July 31, 2017

Curious About Local Real Estate?

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Curious about local real estate? So are we! Every month we review trends in our real estate market and consider the number of homes on the market in each price tier, the amount of time particular homes have been listed for sale, specific neighborhood trends, the median price and square footage of each home sold and so much more. We’d love to invite you to do the same!

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We can definitely fill you in on details that are not listed on the report and help you determine the best home for you. If you are wondering if now is the time to sell, please try out our INSTANT home value tool. You’ll get an estimate on the value of your property in today’s market. Either way, we hope to hear from you soon as you get to know our neighborhoods and local real estate market better.

Posted in Market Updates