Tags Archives: highlands ranch realtor

As school starts up and our “to do” lists grow, we find ourselves with less pool time and more after school activities.  I find this time of year encouraging and overwhelming.  I googled “most stressful life events” and found that back to school did not make the list.  But, the list proved once again to me that relationships are what is important in life.  Almost all items on the list deal with loved ones and events including hardship as a family.  According to paindoctor.com the list is:

  1.   Death of a spouse or child
  2.   Divorce
  3.   Marital Separation
  4.   Imprisonment
  5.   Death of a close family member
  6.   Personal Injury or illness
  7.    Marriage
  8.    Dismissal from work
  9.    Marital Reconciliation
  10.    Retirement

Buying or selling a home DOES NOT make the list!  I have a friend who tried to sell her house using an online realtor company that puts a sign in your yard and does the paperwork.  I have never seen her more stressed and the house didn’t sell.  It doesn’t have to be like this!!  Get yourself a real estate agent, have them do the work and watch your home sell faster, for more money, and with WAY less stress.   I stumbled across this informative fact filled article on Keeping Current Matters…

 

Is Buying a Home Really More Stressful than Planning a Wedding?

Some Highlights:

  • According to a new survey from Open Listings, 62% of Americans ages 25-54 believe that buying a home is more stressful than planning a wedding.
  • Many young couples are saving for a wedding and a home at the same time.
  • The average US wedding now costs 66% of a median home down payment, according to The Knot.

5 years ago, when my husband and I decided to move in our area, we began driving the neighborhoods.  We wanted trees, well-kept yards, bikes on the front yard, signs of children, and neighbors talking to each other.  We wanted open space trails and well-maintained fences and signage.  We began praying for not the perfect home, but the perfect street and neighbors for our family.  We knew we could fix up any house (with the right square footage and floor plan) and make it our dream home.  But, we have little control over our neighbors and community.  I stumbled across this post from The Paperless Agent and it made me realize that we do have a little, limited control over building strong neighborhoods.  The following shows 10 ways we can influence our areas for the better and build better communities.

 

Welcome Home: 10 Tips to Turn Your Neighborhood
Into a Hometown Haven

“Communities work better (students perform better, crime rates are lower, kids are safer, people live longer) when neighbors know one another better. Knowing your neighbor on a first-name basis…is a surprisingly effective first step.” 
Robert Putnam, Harvard Public Policy Professor and author of Bowling Alone

While advancements in technology have made it possible for us to connect with people from around the world, numerous studies show that it has led to a decline in face-to-face interactions.1

Places where we used to strike up casual conversations—such as a doctor’s office waiting room, bus stop or grocery line—are now filled with people looking at their smart phones, barely acknowledging those around them.

Even many families dining together or relaxing in the evenings can be caught spending more time focused on screens than each other. Is it any surprise that we’ve experienced a steady decline in community involvement?

In his book Bowling Alone, Harvard Public Policy Professor Robert Putnam “draws on evidence including nearly 500,000 interviews over the last quarter century to show that we sign fewer petitions, belong to fewer organizations that meet, know our neighbors less, meet with friends less frequently, and even socialize with our families less often.”2

How is this shift impacting our overall well being? A study by Oregon Health & Science University researchers found that having limited face-to-face social contact nearly doubles an individual’s risk of depression.3

CONNECTING WITH YOUR COMMUNITY
If you’re considering a move to a new city or neighborhood, you may be worried about replacing the comfort and support of family and friends you’ll leave behind. Or perhaps you have completed a move but would like to meet more people, build friendships and strengthen your support system.

In this blog post, we’ll explore 10 ways you can utilize technology to foster in-person connections with your neighbors, make friends and get engaged in your local community.

 

 

  1. JOIN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD’S SOCIAL NETWORK

A growing number of neighborhoods are utilizing private social networks like U.S.-based Nextdoor and Canadian-based GoNeighbour. These platforms are designed specifically to connect neighbors and include an address verification process.

Residents post about a variety of topics, including neighborhood news, recommendations for local businesses, lost pets, etc. These platforms are a great way to stay up-to-date on what’s happening in your neighborhood, but don’t just use them to connect virtually. Extend an invitation to your neighbors to attend an in-person event, such as a park playdate for families, an informal soccer game or a potluck block party.

 

  1. ATTEND A PLACE OF WORSHIP

If you have a religious affiliation, joining a local place of worship is great way to meet people and get involved in your community. Aside from attending services, most religious institutions also host extracurricular activities to foster fellowship amongst the congregation.

Whether you are looking to join a church, synagogue, mosque or temple, there are a variety of online resources available to help you find a match in your area, including:

To make the most of your affiliation, look for opportunities to meet in smaller group settings. It’s a great way to form interpersonal relationships with people who share your beliefs and values.

  1. FIND AN INTEREST GROUP

Whatever your favorite hobby or pastime, you’re guaranteed to meet people who share your interests when you join an interest group!

The website Meetup.com has over 32 million members in 288,000 groups in 182 countries. You can search for a group in your area that appeals to you … from book clubs to running groups to professional networking, they have it all.

If you don’t find what you’re looking for, you can start your own group for a monthly fee. The site makes it easy to ask (or require) members to pitch in to cover the cost. It also enables you to promote a corporate sponsor on your page, so you may be able to find a local business to cover the cost.

Most people who join Meetup are there for the same reason you are … to meet people who share their interests. So it’s a great place to make like-minded friends in your community.

  1. LEND A HAND

Volunteering your time and talents is another good way to get engaged in your community and meet those who share a similar mission.

Most nonprofit organizations rely heavily on volunteers. Find one with a cause you’re passionate about by visiting VolunteerMatch.

You can search by cause, location and keywords, and filter your results to include opportunities that are suitable for kids, seniors or groups. Another option is to search for volunteer positions that require specialized skills. Perhaps you’re musical or maybe you’re good with computers. There could be an organization in your area that needs your talents or skills.

Lotsa Helping Hands is another site focused on connecting volunteers with those in need. Members can request help or search for opportunities to assist others in their area. Most of the volunteer opportunities involve aiding neighbors who are ill or elderly by delivering meals, offering rides to appointments or just stopping by for a visit. This can be a great way to make a direct impact on your neighbors who need a helping hand!

  1. TAKE A CLASS

Taking a class is a wonderful way to develop a skill while meeting people who share your interests and passion for learning.

Whether you want to brush up on your Spanish, finish your novel, or learn how to tango, most community colleges offer inexpensive, non-credit classes on a variety of topics.

And if you are pursuing a degree, forego taking your courses online. Opt for the traditional route instead. There’s no substitute for being part of a live community of your peers.

To search for a community college in your area, visit the American Association of Community Colleges or SchoolsInCanada.com.

  1. ATTEND AN EVENT

Attending a live event is another way to engage with members of your community. From festivals to fundraisers to retreats, Eventbrite is a great place to search for events in your area. You can filter your search by category, event type, date and price to find something that fits your interests, schedule and budget.

Be strategic about the type of event you choose. For example, while attending a large festival might be a fun way to feel engaged with your community, it might also be harder to meet people. A retreat or a networking event may offer more opportunities for one-on-one interaction.

  1. SHARE YOUR STUFF

Everyone’s talking about the rise of the “sharing economy” with the popularity of Uber and Airbnb. But there’s also been a rise in “sharing communities,” which facilitate the free exchange of goods among neighbors to reduce consumption and keep usable items out of landfills.

Nonprofit groups like The Freecycle Network are made up of people who are giving (and getting) stuff for free in their own towns and neighborhoods. Members can post “offers” of free items or “wanted” items they need.

The company Peerby has a similar goal of reducing consumption by encouraging neighbors to lend and borrow items they don’t often use. For example, you can offer to share your blender, rake or ladder. Maybe you need to borrow a drill, cake pan or moving trolley. Peerby enables you to request items to borrow from your neighbors and encourages you to register items you are willing to lend.

The Little Free Library is another innovative way neighbors are participating in a sharing community. Stewards build or purchase a box to house the library and fill it with books they are willing to give away. The library is usually placed in their front yard or in a public outdoor space. Visitors are encouraged to take a book they’d like to read, and in exchange leave a book for someone else to enjoy. With over 60,000 libraries in 80 countries, the organization estimates millions of books are exchanged annually among neighbors.

  1. SUPPORT A COMMUNITY GARDEN

 Community gardens have become increasingly popular in both urban and rural areas across North America. Not only do they beautify a neighborhood, they also foster community, encourage self-reliance, reduce family food budgets, conserve resources, and provide opportunities for recreation and exercise.

The mission of the American Community Gardening Association is to build community by increasing and enhancing community gardening and greening across the United States and Canada. The organization’s website enables you to search for existing community gardens in your area. If there isn’t one nearby, you might considering starting one. The site provides helpful tips and resources for organizing a garden in your neighborhood.

  1. CARPOOL WITH A COWORKER

In the spirit of joining a “sharing community,” carpooling offers many similar benefits. It presents an opportunity to form a bond with coworkers and/or neighbors during your daily commute. Additionally, you can save money on gas, reduce wear-and-tear on your vehicle, lower carbon emissions, and in many cities reduce your commute time by taking advantage of high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) travel lanes.

The success of ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft has spurred a new wave of carpooling websites and apps that aim to revolutionize the way we commute by making it easier and more convenient to carpool. While many of these are still in their infancy stages, they are expanding into new markets and improving functionality at a rapid pace.

Kangaride Local, Scoop and Waze Carpool are just a few examples, and more are popping up every day. They are currently available in limited markets throughout the United States and Canada, but are becoming prevalent in more cities as residents opt-in. Check to see if any of these are available in your local area.

Alternatively, you can try posting on your neighborhood’s social network to see if one or more of your neighbors are commuting to a nearby location. Take turns driving and start benefiting from all that carpooling has to offer!

  1. PARTICIPATE IN WORLD NEIGHBORS DAY

The organizers behind World Neighbors Day promote it as “an invitation to share a moment with your neighbors, to get to know each other better and develop a real sense of community.”

In Canada it’s held on the second Saturday in June, and in the United States it’s held on the third Sunday in September. Participants are encouraged to organize gatherings with their neighbors to build relationships that “form the fabric of our communities.”

You can participate by attending or organizing a gathering in your neighborhood. Examples include: a block party, outdoor movie screening, book exchange, charity bake sale, volleyball game, etc. Anything that brings neighbors together in a fun and relaxed setting is a good choice!

Gatherings can be promoted through your neighborhood’s social media network, blog or listserv, or you can go the old-fashioned route and hand out flyers door-to-door. Whatever you do, be sure to make your gathering inclusive and welcoming to all.

BE A GOOD NEIGHBOR

 As with anything in life, you will get out what you put in. It can take time to build lasting and meaningful friendships with your neighbors, but the effort you make is likely to pay off tenfold.

The tried-and-true way to make friends, expand your circle, grow your support system and get engaged in your community? Be a good neighbor yourself.

 

 

What are the best ways you’ve found to meet and engage with your neighbors? Share your success stories or challenges in the comments below!

 

Sources:

  1. Lengacher, L. (2015) Mobile Technology: Its Effect on Face-to-Face Communication and Interpersonal Interaction. Undergraduate Research Journal for the Human Sciences –
    http://www.kon.org/urc/v14/lengacher.html
  2. Putnam, R. (2000) Bowling Alone. New York: Simon & Schuster –
    http://bowlingalone.com/
  3. Bergland, C. (2015 October 5) Face-to-Face Social Contact Reduces Risk of Depression. Psychology Today
    https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201510/face-face-social-contact-reduces-risk-depression

A week ago we had the chance to give back to the community with another Andersen Realty event- our summer Movie in the Park.  The Princess Bride is  a movie I grew up watching as a child.  My siblings and I love to quote it and laugh hysterically every time we do.  I think everyone has a childhood family movie like this that brings back the feel of your old plaid sofa stuffed with siblings.  It is one of those nostalgic, classic movies that all ages should see- and there is no better way than to watch it than lounging on a blanket under the summer stars eating free buttery popcorn.  Thanks so much to all of you who came, despite not-so-perfect weather, and supported our event.  We loved getting to meet you, serve you, and share in making a fun summertime memory.

Here are some snapshots from the event! (and some more of my favorite Princess Bride quotes)

Inigo Montoya: “Fezzik, are there rocks ahead?”

Fezzik:  “If there are, we all be dead.”

Vizzini:”No more rhymes now, I mean it.”

Fezzik: “Anybody want a peanut?”

 

“My name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father, prepare to die!”

 

 

Buttercup:  “You mock my pain.”

Man in Black:”Life is pain, Highness.  Anyone who says differently is selling something.”

 

We hope you all enjoyed yourselves as much as we did!  And if you didn’t make it this year, we hope to see you next year or at our December 1st event at The Wildlife Experience-Our Polar Express Movie Night!  Registration information in the coming months…

 

Why I Like To Buy Older Homes

by: Lindsey Mendenhall

I have always loved older homes.  There is something that everyone seems to love about downtown communities with old brick tudor homes.  Why is this?  I think it reminds us of a simpler time and brings back craftmanship that we do not see much anymore in the average new build.  Instead of noticing stainless steel appliances and square footage, we find charm in arched doorways, intricate wood moldings, tiny closets, and original wood floors that have seen love and wear.  I have now owned three homes, each more than 30 years old.  With these homes come old smells, outdated flooring and in my latest home purchase-30 year old toilets.  However, we enjoy home products and my husband is very handy-always willing to face a new challenge.  I love turning the characteristics of an old home into something a bit more updated.  I love that my home has original wood doors that are a little scratched.  I love that my neighborhood came equipped with huge trees lining the streets and in every yard.  And I love the neighbors I won in my older home purchase.  They are passionate about the area and schools after raising their own families here.  But, to each their own, and these are just the musings of a real estate assistant.  The following article found on realtor.com has the view of professionals…maybe a bit more informative!

 

Old House vs. New House: Which Is Better to Buy?

 | May 3, 2018

Old house vs. new house: If you’re shopping for a place to live, this may be one of your primary decisions. Is it better to buy brand-new? Or do homes, like wine, get better with time? It turns out there’s no one-size-fits-all answer, but there are distinct pros and cons to each purchase.

“Both new construction and fixer-uppers offer unique benefits,” agrees Cedric Stewart, a residential and commercial sales consultant at Keller Williams Realty in Washington, DC.

All of which means your Final Answer may boil down to a personal preference—so here’s what to keep in mind when you’re trying to decide whether an old house or a new house is right for you.

Upfront costs: How much house can you afford?

New may be nice, but you pay for all that shiny newness: According to recent home price figures, the median cost of a new home is $335,400. Meanwhile, the median cost of an old home—often called an “existing home” in real estate parlance—is only $240,500.

In other words: You’ll cough up nearly $100,000, or 30% more, for a new home. That’s a sizable price hike! However, that money you save buying an old home may not remain in your pockets that long, since old homes are often less energy-efficient—and thus will cost more to heat and cool. And sooner or later, something is bound to break down, too (more on that next).

Maintenance: Love it or loathe it?

Just like we mere mortals when we get up there in years, old homes come with an inevitable need for repairs, replacements, and upgrades. On the other hand, “New homes should be worry-free for several years,” says Stewart. “A brand-new hot water heater, HVAC system, and roof all but ensure no major out-of-pocket expenses for at least eight to 10 years in most cases.”

If you’re seeking a life with fewer hassles, or don’t have money in reserve for emergency repairs and unexpected expenses, a new home may be the way to go. With a recently built home, “You’ll have peace of mind that all systems are new, up-to-date, and you’ve got no problems that could come down the line,” notes Carib Daniel Martin, a residential architect in the Washington, DC, area. “Some of those issues can be pretty drastic.”

For instance, if you’ve never heard about knob-and-tube wiring—commonly found in older homes—look it up. Then look at the cost to have it fixed or replaced.

If you do go ahead and pursue the purchase of an aging home, it’s especially important to have a thorough home inspection. Doing so won’t just help you negotiate down the price, but give you an idea of all the problems that need to be fixed. And then you actually need to fix them.

“A small repair now may save you an extensive overhaul down the road, especially in the case of drainage, roof, windows, doors, and trim,” says Christy Murdock Edgar, a real estate agent in Northern Virginia and Washington, DC.

Plus, if you decide to sell your house again, those same old issues will no doubt pop up again during the next home inspection.

Investment: Want a proven track record, or are you willing to take a risk?

A home isn’t just a family gathering space, but a financial investment. And with an older home, you can see on paper just how much the property has appreciated over the years. While that doesn’t ensure future market appeal, at least you’ve got something to go on, says Robert Dietz, chief economist for the National Association of Home Builders.

As for a new home? With no history to look back on, this purchase can be considered more of a gamble. The price could shoot up, or it could plummet. But in case things go south, there is this one silver lining. “You’ll have less work to do in terms of making sure the home offers what the market demands in terms of energy-efficiency, design, and other amenities,” says Dietz.

Home design: Dig vintage or modern?

Looks matter a lot when it comes to choosing a home. And both old and new homes have their fans: In an older home, you’ll likely get some sense of historic tradition and thoughtful attention to detail. Think crown molding. Real hardwood floors. And (if you’re lucky) a secret back staircase or dumbwaiter.

On the other side of this debate, brand-new houses often sport the latest and greatest—i.e., open living spaces with wide, accessible hallways; and bathrooms and kitchens with energy-efficient, on-trend amenities.

Can you get the best of both worlds?

Stewart hears it all the time: how people want modern amenities—but maybe not in a brand-new home. (“They don’t make things like they used to,” is the common refrain.)

If you feel the same way, you do have an option: “Buy an older home with ‘good bones’ and take the opportunity to renovate it or hire someone to do it,” Stewart notes.

In other words, you may not have to choose between an old house versus a new house after all.

The home-buying process is a high-stakes thrill ride full of exhilarating ups and scary downs, but unquestionably one of the most deflating moments is when the appraisal comes in significantly lower than the accepted offer. This is, to use technical real estate lingo, “a bummer.”

Either you feel as though you got the raw end of a deal by paying more than the property’s worth or, if you don’t have extra cash to hand over, the deal can crumble into dust. (Your lender’s not going to fork over money for a higher loan amount if the appraisal came in lower than expected, so you’ll have to make up that difference yourself.)

“In a rising market, low valuations are pretty common because appraisals are based upon sales that closed when prices were lower,” says Diane Saatchi, a senior broker with Saunders & Associates in Bridgehampton, NY. “The reverse is so in a declining market.”

In other words: Appraisals can’t keep up with how quickly homes are selling in a hot market, so you’re bound to see lower-than-expected values placed on homes.So, what do you do if this happens to you? You have four options:

1. Appeal the appraisal

Sometimes called a “rebuttal of value,” the appraisal appeal takes some work. In fact, it’s a total team effort.

“The homeowner, loan officer, and often the real estate agent work together to find better comparable market data to justify a higher valuation,” says Casey Fleming, a mortgage adviser and author of “The Loan Guide: How to Get the Best Possible Mortgage.” 

That means everyone puts on their best Sherlock Holmes garb and gets to work looking for anything that helps the claim for higher valuation. Perhaps the appraiser overlooked some comps (homes similar in style, location, and square footage sold within the past few years).

“It’s not uncommon to discover, for instance, that the appraiser used a comparable sale that looks like it’s in great condition, when in fact the home was trashed when purchased and has already been rehabilitated,” Fleming says.

The loan officer writes an appeal using the new comparables and then sends it to the appraiser. There might be some negotiating back and forth until all parties come to a compromise with a new valuation.

Spoiler: It’s a hard battle to fight.

“My record on this one is 0 for 9 so far,” Fleming says. “But I know many appraisers personally who have adjusted their values.” So keep the hope alive!

2. Order a second appraisal

“Most often, if the appraised value is not as high as the agreed (contract) price, the seller’s agent will ask to see the comps and get a second or third appraisal,” Saatchi says.

But it will likely cost you–you’re not only paying for the first appraisal (in your closing costs), but you’ll pony up for any additional appraisals as well. They can range between a few hundred dollars and $1,000 depending on the area. Occasionally, real estate agents or sellers will foot the bill if they really want to keep the sale.

3. Negotiate with the seller

If you’re lucky, you and the seller will both budge a little.

“You might go back to the sellers and ask them to reduce the price or split the difference,” says Peter Grabel, managing director of Luxury Mortgage in Stamford, CT. “The seller is under no obligation to do so, but they may prefer to do this rather than take a chance of losing you as a buyer, and starting over again. It is likely that another buyer will have the same issue, so the seller might be better off renegotiating with you unless they have other offers.”

Sellers might be more willing to cooperate, especially if the Federal Housing Administration is involved. Lenders often require the use of their own FHA-approved appraiser, and these appraisals are “locked in” for six months.

“The seller could be forced to take a poor appraisal or wait it out for a buyer with a different loan,” explains Joshua Jarvis of Jarvis Team Real Estate in Duluth, GA.

Jeff Knox, broker and owner of Dallas-area real estate firm Knox & Associates, says this is the most common outcome in his area.

“Of all possible outcomes, this is what happens most frequently,” he says. “While the seller will usually be upset about the low appraisal value, most reasonable sellers eventually come to terms with the fact that any other appraisal values by potential future buyers will most likely come in at about the same value.”

4. Walk away

No one wants to let a property slip through their fingers, especially if it feels like their dream home. But beware of ignoring a low appraisal—you could end up losing thousands whenever you decide to sell.

If you have an appraisal contingency in your contract, you can walk away, get your deposit back, and hope for better luck the next time around.

This article was written by Maureen Dempsey for Realtor.com. She is a writer who covers fashion, beauty, lifestyle, and home decor. She’s recently learned that decorating her new home is just as satisfying as filling her closet.

 

Congratulations! You have just closed on your new home and are pulling the moving truck into the driveway, and the last thing on your mind is the yearly maintenance needed to keep your home in great shape. We have found a list complied on Zillow.com by See Jane Drill of DIY maintenance that should be done the first 3 months and then organized seasonally. Enjoy!

First three months

You’ll be busy enough moving in and getting settled, so we don’t recommend taking on a lot of work during the first few months. There are, however, a few things you might consider doing right away:

  • Change all the locks, and make spare keys.
  • Implement energy-saving measures right away to save you money on heating and cooling costs:
    • Hang a clothesline in the laundry room and/or outside to cut down on dryer costs.
    • Lower the hot water heater temperature to 120 degrees F. This is generally the hottest water temperature that anyone would need, and lowering the temperature prevents scalding accidents.
    • Install a programmable thermostat, and learn how to use it.
  • If you make your home comfortable for kids and pets first, you’ll be comfortable, too! Babyproof and petproof as needed.

Seasonal maintenance

We organized the tasks by season, but some items are interchangeable. This is simply a recommendation, so make it work for you!

Summer

  • Install ceiling fans to cut cooling costs, or reverse the direction of existing fans. Run your fans counterclockwise in the warm months, and clockwise in the cool months.
  • Inspect the roof for missing, loose, or damaged shingles. You don’t always have to climb up there to do this. In some cases, you can do this from the ground with binoculars.
  • Clean the roof and gutters of leaves and moss.
  • Fix large cracks in the concrete or asphalt driveways. Do this during warm weather, when you can expect a few dry days for proper curing time.
  • Inspect air conditioners, and replace the filter if necessary.
  • Have the fireplace inspected and the chimney swept. You’ll likely pay less for these services by doing it in the offseason.
  • Clean and repair or replace window and patio door screens.

Fall

  • Seal cracks in windows and doors with caulk or weather stripping.
  • Drain exterior plumbing, and cover outdoor faucets.
  • Clean carpets. You can do this anytime, but it’s nice to get it done right before the holidays!
  • Install a new furnace filter.
  • Replace batteries in smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. A good way to remember this task is to do it when you set the clocks back for daylight saving time.
  • Clean the dust from heating vents, and make sure vents are obstruction-free.
  • Inspect and replace — or add — outdoor lighting around the front of your home and walkways. This helps keep people safe when it gets darker earlier.

Winter

  • Clear drains of hair clogs using a Zip-It drain cleaning tool or a drum auger.
  • Clean the oven. While you’re at it, make sure all your kitchen appliances are in good working order prior to the holiday season.
  • Check the insulation in your attic or crawl space, and add more if needed. A good general guideline: have at least 12 inches of insulation in the attic, and up to 16 inches if you live in a region with very cold winters.
  • Create a family fire escape plan, and do a few fire drills to make sure everyone knows what to do in an emergency.
  • Keep snow and ice removal supplies on hand, such as a shovel, snowblower, and salt or sand.
  • Compile an emergency kit for your household with extra water, food, medicines, flashlights, and other necessities.

Spring

  • Clean and refinish (where applicable) decks, porches, and patios to prepare for outdoor living.
  • Bring out the outdoor furniture, and clean grills so they’re ready for backyard barbecues.
  • Spring-clean all windows — inside and out.
  • Plant a tree. This is a fun family activity to do in your new home. Plant the tree strategically for shade in a particularly warm and sunny area of your home.
  • Once you’ve had the last fire of the season, close the fireplace damper to keep dirt and pests out.
  • Assess and inspect garden tools and lawnmowers to make sure they’re ready for a new season of working hard in your yard.
  • Because this is your first season in a new home, take some time to observe your yard before making any major changes. See where the sun shines at different times of the day. Watch which perennials come up at which times. Take notes about what you like about the current landscaping, and what you want to change or add to the landscape.

Most importantly, enjoy your new home! Taking care of these few maintenance jobs will help you love your home for many years to come.

I was looking at Realtor.com the other day and came across this post about how comps are tricking people into thinking their home is worth more or less than what the home is really worth. I thought I would share this article written by Cathie Ericsson. She is a journalist who writes about real estate, finance, and health. She lives in Portland.

“Unlike most things we buy in life, homes don’t come with a sticker price. Sure, the real estate listing may say the price of the home is $320,000, but that’s just a starting point. Buyers can—and should—offer more or less money for the house based on something called real estate comps, short for “comparables.”

Real estate comps are properties that have similar characteristics to the house you’re trying to determine the value of. They’re critical tools used by real estate agents when you’re ready to buy or sell.

Because it’s easier to compare apples to apples, the best comps are houses that are as similar as possible to the one being valued.

But sometimes the comps are incorrect, which makes it hard for you to arrive at an appropriate value for your home. Using comps to determine a home’s valuation is not entirely a science, but there are some signs your real estate comps are not accurate.

Sign No. 1: The comps are far away

When we say location is key in real estate, that doesn’t just pertain to the location of your home. Your comps’ location is important because they take into account the desirability of the school system and neighborhood, among other factors, explains Jon Boyd, broker and manager of The Home Buyer’s Agent in Ann Arbor, MI.

If there aren’t sufficient nearby comps (as can happen if you’re in a rural area), your agent might need to widen the search area. Ideally you’ll look at homes within roughly a half-mile so you are truly comparing houses that are being valued equally.

Sign No. 2: The comps are stale

Markets move fast, and using a comp from a year ago will give you an incorrect idea of home values in your area. Boyd recommends sticking with homes that have sold within the past six months; the more recent, the better.

Sign No. 3: The comps are really appraisals

Does your comp use a strict formula of square footage, bedrooms, etc. to arrive at a market value? If so, that sounds more like an appraisal, which is an entirely different way of determining the value of the home. Be careful not to confuse the data provided by these two documents, warns Molly Stehman, real estate broker with Premiere Property Group in Lake Oswego, OR.

“Comps are totally subjective and a lot of opinion goes into the numbers,” she says. Appraisers must follow rules that standardize the process of determining a home’s value. So when coming up with comps, in addition to objective measures like square footage and number of rooms, Stehman will add factors like whether the home has been updated or remodeled, whether the floors are hardwood or laminate, the walkability score, the age of the roof and furnace, and even what she calls the “charm factor.”

That’s why the picturesque remodel you’re looking at might be priced higher than the plain-Jane house down the street, even if the facts on the appraisal sheet are basically identical.

Sign No. 4: The comps include homes that are still on the market

To be useful, a comp has to tell you what the home sold for, not what the asking price is. The best indicator of a house’s value is what people have paid for it, not what they might be willing to pay (the seller hopes). Be sure your comps contain only homes that are off the market.

Ultimately, the seller or buyer decides how much they want to ask or what they’re willing to offer for a house, Stehman points out. But by making sure your comps aren’t off-base to start with, you can step up to the negotiating table feeling as informed as possible.

Have you ever thought, oh I could have done this when I sold, I should have done this, I wished we would have done this?  The good thing sellers that have had regrets have shared with hopes that future home sellers don’t do the same thing. Jennifer O’Neill with Realtor.com has helped us compile a list of 5 regrets.

Regret No. 1: Not fully preparing the place

Serious about selling your home? Spiff it up, stat! Recent seller Kim Maggio admits that she didn’t focus on making cosmetic changes before putting her Haverhill, MA, house on the market and wishes that she had. “I didn’t spend enough time prepping our house for sale—purging, staging, or doing small repair projects,” she says. “And I regret not planning ahead or getting real about what had to be done, because it ended up dragging out the home-selling process—in terms of finding a buyer and negotiating repairs—costing me precious time and money.”

At Andersen Realty, we take the time to help you prepare your home. We have a stager come over before the photographer to help you make the pictures look amazing. She helps with everything, not just moving furniture around to make the room look larger. She helps with what you need to pack away, change, move, and declutter.

Regret No. 2: Making the property too perfect

On the other hand don’t go overboard, either. When Jen Mason and her husband sold their Denver condo in order to buy their neighbor’s bigger apartment across the courtyard, she put extra energy into leaving the property in pristine condition. “But why did we care about patching every nail hole, making the place look flawless, and leaving behind our beloved custom window coverings?” she gripes. “Our buyer was an older single woman who really just wanted to live in our neighborhood. All of our efforts had all been a waste.”

Regret No. 3: Staying in contact after the sale

Always do your best to keep things “just business,” Mason advises sellers. She didn’t, and is still kicking herself for it. “Since we only moved across the street, we availed ourselves to the buyer for questions,” the Denver homeowner explains. “And she called us for at least a year on a regular basis whenever she couldn’t figure out how something worked: the house alarm, air filter, fire alarm, window screens, and on and on. It was as though my husband became her personal handyman!” Despite their best efforts to remain friendly in the tight-knit community, she admits, “we eventually tired of her calls and stalled on our response time until she finally stopped reaching out.”

Regret No. 4: Trying to sell without an agent

“We tried to sell our home without using an agent and soon realized that in our market, and it didn’t quite work out,” says Boston-area homeowner Rebecca Addison. The approach “wasn’t really accepted by the buyer’s Realtors®, who often questioned our price point, which made things difficult.”So she ditched the for-sale-by-owner approach and wound up enlisting a Realtor after all. “I wish we had just done it right away, because instead it set us back at least a month if not more,” she says. “And in that time people moved on and the market changed. I think we might have missed out on a better sale.”

Regret No. 5: Caving to a buyer’s whims

Addison also learned the hard way that it doesn’t pay to bend over backward, sideways, and into intriguing pretzel shapes for a demanding buyer.“Our buyer was really difficult and wanted us to give on so many items,” she says. “We also agreed to give the buyer money toward updating the roof so we were very frustrated on the day of closing when he wanted even more.”Addison stood firm, and after a few hitches the sale continued thanks to an agreement between the Realtors to appease the buyer by reducing their commission.“I found myself resentful that the buyer got away with that and got the house,” she says. “Especially when I can see for myself that he hasn’t completed any roof work in the past five years.”

Regret No. 6: Skipping the staging

“I really regret not paying the money to stage my apartment right off the bat,” confesses Chicago homeowner Rachel Bertsche. Hoping to save on expenses since she’d already bought and moved into a different home with her family, Bertsche skipped that step until it was too late.

If you are ready to sell and are looking to not make any regrets, give us a call today.

Can you get a better deal in the winter months? Maybe? Maybe Not? When should you list and when should you buy? Is there more competition in the summer or winter?

According to the NY Times writer, Ann Carnns, and Attom Data Solutions, of about 50 million home sales from 2000 through 2016 found that February was the most affordable month to buy. The median selling price during the second month of the year was about $104 per square foot, a discount of 6 percent over the rest of the year, on average.

The next most affordable months were January, March and April, with discounts of just under 6 percent, 4 percent and 2 percent over the annualized median price of $110 per square foot. Data shows that buyers pay a premium when shopping during the summer months of June, July and August.

“Weather definitely plays a role,” Mr. Blomquist, Senior Vice President of Attom Data Solutions said. “Buyers don’t want to brave the cold, rain and snow, so there’s low demand.”

The pattern also holds true, however, even in areas which don’t typically see snow and ice, like Florida. That is likely because the early months of the calendar coincide with the middle of the school year, and families aren’t gearing up to shop yet. “February is an in-between time,” he said.

Also, people may have spent down their savings over the holidays, and that can crimp their ability to scrape together a down payment.

For those willing and able to shop, however, there are benefits. Sellers who list their homes during the slower months are typically eager to sell, said William E. Brown, president of the National Association of Realtors.

“It’s a buyer’s market during the colder winter months,” Mr. Brown said. “When sellers list in the winter, they know it’s slower, so they’re more motivated and more willing to negotiate.”

That is a plus, since the supply of homes for sale over all remains fairly tight, especially for entry-level buyers, according to the association’s most recent statistics.

While 2016 was the best year in a decade for home sales, sales slowed in December because of rising interest rates and a lack of affordable properties in many markets, according to the association.

Given the low inventory of homes in many markets, shoppers must take advantage of every opportunity they can — so it may be worth shopping in February. “There’s fewer listings, but there’s also less competition,” Mr. Brown said.

And getting a jump on things by starting early may give shoppers a leg up, especially in competitive markets. Mr. Brown, a real estate agent in Alamo, Calif., said it was not unusual to see 50 to 60 people come through an open house in the spring and summer months in many parts of California.

Because there is less inventory in the winter, there also may be fewer homes available that meet your criteria, Mr. Blomquist said — and you may regret settling for a house that doesn’t meet your needs, even if it’s a bargain.

There are benefits for both buyers and sellers in the winter months. We personally love winter listings and would love to talk to you about listing your home this month. Are you ready to list? Are you ready to buy?  Are you thinking about it? Give us a call today to set up a time to talk about your home or go look at some homes.