Before & After: The Importance of Staging

 

There are a few things I recommend to all my clients who want to sell their home for top dollar. One of them is staging! Failing to “showcase” your home could keep your house on the market longer and may not sell for as much as its worth. First impressions are so important and really help potential buyers to imagine your house as their perfect house.

This charming house in Minnetonka took less than a week to stage and sold immediately over asking! With just a few contemporary pieces can make a night and day difference in the overall feel of a house.

For some more tips on low cost, high-value updates check out my other blog post.

5 Reasons It’ll Pay to Sell Your Home Early in 2018

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Take a look at this blog post from realtors.com. To read the original post, click here.


By Holly Amaya, January 10, 2018

It’s been nearly a decade since the Great Recession delivered the worst housing crash in modern memory. But these days, the fallout feels squarely in the rearview mirror. Markets have bounced back with fervor, and confidence is skyrocketing: From Charlotte, NC, to Stockton, CA—and everywhere in between—homes are flying off the market at record prices, and buyers are still clamoring to get in the game.

One thing is clear: It’s a great time to be a seller.

“We’ve seen two or three years of what could be considered unsustainable levels of price appreciation, as well as an inventory shortage that resulted in a record low number of homes for sale across the country,” says Javier Vivas, director of economic research for realtor.com®.

In other words: Today’s buyers are exhausted. And in many cases that means they’re willing to sacrifice to get a toehold in the market.

Sounds like the stuff of seller’s dreams, right? But know this: If you plan to sell in 2018—and you want to unload your home quickly and for maximum money—your window of opportunity may be rapidly narrowing. Here’s why you should get moving ASAP.

1. Rates are still historically low, drawing buyers into the market

We may not be enjoying the rock-bottom interest rates of yore, but by historical standards, today’s 30-year mortgage rates—hovering just above 4%—are still low. And experts agree mortgage credit will remain relatively cheap for most of the year.

That means the getting’s still good for buyers—and, subsequently, for sellers looking to unload their homes.

But rates are on the rise, and it’s been widely predicted that they’ll reach 5% before year’s end. Buyers know that the longer they wait to buy, the more expensive it will be.

Roughly translated, that means you’d be wise to list your home earlier in the year, before more rate hikes kick in. Not only will you capture the market of buyers scurrying to close a deal, but if you’re buying after you sell, you’ll also benefit from those lower rates.

2. Inventory remains tight—and demand high

Simply put, there are more buyers than available homes—particularly in red-hot markets where land is scarce and it isn’t cheap to build.

And the housing shortage will likely get worse before it gets better: Realtor.com data predict inventory will remain tight in the first part of this year, reaching a 4% year-over-year decline by March.

Sellers, that means this is your opportunity to be wooed. Buyers, their choices limited, are going to great lengths (and making some major concessions) to win the house, says Katie Griswold, a Realtor® with Pacific Sotheby’s in Southern California.

“We’re in a very favorable seller’s market,” she says. “We’re seeing bidding wars—which push up prices—and buyers are submitting offers with very pro-seller terms, like forgoing the repair request or waiving the appraisal contingency.”

And cash investors are in the mix, too, accounting for 22% of all home sales transactions in November 2017 (up from 20% in October), according to the National Association of Realtors®.

Those cash buyers are snapping up homes in an already tight market and keeping some first-time buyers at bay (sorry, buyers!). But if you’re selling, you stand a better shot at an all-cash offer—one you just might be crazy to refuse.

Of course, there’s a catch: Inventory levels are predicted to begin rising in the fourth quarter, marking the first inventory gain since 2015 and setting the stage for more dramatic housing gains to come. So if you’re thinking of selling, start preparing now in order to walk away with a sweet paycheck.

3. Home prices are still increasing

From coast to coast, home prices continue to rise—which translates to more money in your pocket when you sell.

But the gains are predicted to be more moderate than in years past. Realtor.com data suggest a 3.2% increase year over year, after finishing 2017 with a 5.5% year-over-year increase.

Bottom line: You still stand to make a pretty profit if you sell this year, but the earlier you can list, the better off you’ll be.

4. People have more money in their pocket

Record levels of consumer confidence, low unemployment, and stock market surges are setting the stage for high home buyer turnout in 2018. For the first time since the 1960s, the Fed has projected that the unemployment rate will drop below 4%, and the domestic stock market is enjoying a nearly unprecedented rally.

The housing market is already reflecting this boom: Existing-home sales soared 5.6% in November 2017 (the most recent month for which data are available) and reached their strongest pace in almost 11 years, according to the NAR.

“Incomes are growing and people are finding better and more stable jobs,” Vivas says. Buyers “are feeling pretty good about (their) finances.”

And thanks to the GOP tax legislation, which nearly doubles the standard deduction, we’ll see fewer people itemizing, says National Association of Home Builders Chief Economist Robert Dietz.

“The income effect of that is that most people are getting a tax cut—which should help (buyer) demand,” Dietz says.

All of these factors combined mean more buyers could be on the hunt, with more money in their pockets to shell out on a home for sale—possibly yours!

5. Millennials are ready to commit

Millennials, often crippled by student debt, have been especially hampered by rising interest rates and high home prices.

But the aforementioned conditions are ripe in 2018 for these first-time buyers to take the plunge, and experts predict that millennials will make up a vital part of the buyer pool over the coming year: Millennials could account for 43% of home buyers taking out a mortgage in 2018 (a 3% year-over-year increase), according to realtor.com data.

“As people move into their 30s, they’re looking to move from renting to homeownership,” Dietz says. “And we predict that trend will continue even more this year.”

More home buyers flooding the market can only mean good things for sellers—at all price points.

Inventory Crunch Weighing On Sales Activity

Take a look at this blog post from the Minneapolis Association of Realtors from September 18th, 2017. To read the original post, click here.


 By Erin Milburn on Monday, September 18th, 2017

Minneapolis, Minnesota (September 18, 2017) – The Twin Cities housing market continues to show signs of high demand and short supply. While June 2017 marked an all-time home sales record for the Twin Cities, closed sales showed a year-over-year decline for the second consecutive month. The number of sellers listing their homes increased slightly, but that wasn’t enough to counteract the inventory drop. New listings increased 0.7 percent from last year to 7,264, and closed sales dipped 1.4 percent. The number of homes for sale decreased 16.7 percent to 12,602. Factoring out foreclosures and short sales, traditional new listings rose 2.4 percent while traditional closed sales increased 0.9 percent.

With many consumers competing for limited homes, prices remained firm, a trend that should continue into the fall and winter months. The median sales price rose 6.8 percent from last year to $252,000—a new monthly record for August. Home prices have now risen for the last 66 consecutive months or 5.5 years. At 48 days on average, homes went under contract 14.3 percent faster than last August. Sellers who do list are averaging 98.5 percent of their original list price, 0.6 percent higher than August 2016. The metro area has just 2.5 months of housing supply. Generally, five to six months of supply is considered a balanced market where neither buyers nor sellers have a clear advantage.

“The shortage of homes for sale is still driving this market,” said Cotty Lowry, Minneapolis Area Association of REALTORS® (MAAR) President. “It’s been the story for years, and it continues to influence prices, sales, market times and other indicators. The graphic illustrates how listings and sales have converged, leaving very little product lingering on the market.”

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The shortage is most acute for entry-level homes. Well-priced, turnkey, well-presented listings are most competitive. Market times and absorption rates are tightest for homes priced under $200,000. For example, homes between $150,000 and $190,000 had 1.4 months of supply. As you move up the price ladder, the market is less competitive and better supplied. Homes priced between $500,000 and $1,000,000 boast 6.0 months of supply, while homes over $1,000,000 have a plentiful 12.3 months of supply.

The most recent national unemployment rate is 4.4 percent, though it’s 3.3 percent locally—the fourth lowest unemployment rate of any major metro area. A thriving and diverse economy has been conducive to housing recovery, as job and wage growth are key to new household formations and therefore housing demand. The Minneapolis–St. Paul region has a resilient economy with a global reach, a talented workforce, top-notch schools, exposure to the growing technology and healthcare fields, and a quality of life that’s enabled one of the highest homeownership rates in the country.

The average 30-year fixed mortgage rate has declined from 4.3 percent to 3.8 percent recently, still well below its long-term average of around 8.0 percent. Although at least one more rate hike was expected this year, the Fed is now focused on unwinding its large portfolio. Additional inventory is still needed in order to offset declining affordability brought on by higher prices and interest rates.

“We’re always impressed by how determined buyers are, despite the supply hurdle,” said Kath Hammerseng, MAAR President-Elect. “That said, prices are rising faster than incomes and builders are focusing on higher-end product further out while the demand is strongest for affordable product closer in.”

Nail Down the Cost of Your Roofing Project

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When installing a new roof, the biggest decision you’re going to face (aside from choosing a roofing pro) is which materials to use. If you’re replacing an existing roof, your decision is easy — just match the current materials. But, if you’re building a new home, the debate over roofing materials can get a bit more complicated. Before jumping into the pros and cons of each material, consider the size and layout of your roof.

Not surprisingly, the size of your roof will play a large role in determining your overall budget. If you’re using a roofer, it’s helpful to understand how your pro will measure your roof. While many contractors base their estimates on square footage, roofing pros go by squares (each square is 100 square feet). The more squares, the more your project will cost.

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7 Pricing Myths to Stop Believing If You Ever Hope to Sell Your House

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Pricing your own home is hard, what with all the history and hopes this magic number entails. Of course, you want to make a profit. Of course, all that money you spent installing a swimming pool or a half-bath will be recouped, because you’re leaving your digs in better shape than when you bought it, right? Right?

Well, not necessarily. Too many home sellers fall prey to myths about home pricing that seem to make sense at first, but don’t jibe with the reality of real estate markets today. To make sure you haven’t bought into any of this malarkey—since the buyers you’re trying to woo sure haven’t—here are some common pricing myths you’ll want to rinse from your brain so you kick off your home-selling venture with realistic expectations. It’s time to get real, folks!

1. You always make money when you sell a home

Sure, real estate tends to appreciate over time: The National Association of Realtors® estimates that home prices will jump 5% by the end of 2017 and continue rising 3.5% in 2018. But selling your home for more than you paid is by no means a given, and your return on investment can vary greatly based on where you live. Continue reading

End of Summer To-Do List

Your End-of-Summer To-Do List

Labor Day unofficially marks the end of summer, but there’s still plenty of time to cross the remaining home projects off your summer to-do list. In fact, many homeowners wait until Labor Day even to start some of their biggest projects. So, you’re certainly not alone.

According to new HomeAdvisor data, these are the top six most popular end-of-summer projects homeowners are kicking off around Labor Day weekend!

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5 Reasons Why Selling Your Home Without a Realtor is a Terrible Idea (An Article Written by a Non-Realtor)

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Source: 5 Reasons Why Selling Your Home Without a Realtor is a Terrible Idea (Written by a Non-Realtor)

Written by Patrick O’Brien

Given my background as a career mortgage banker, I often find myself in conversations with people seeking advice when they’re shopping for a home. Occasionally people casually mention that they’re going to “save a ton” by selling their home For Sale By Owner rather than listing with a Realtor. While I admire their confidence, I often (strongly) advise against it. I’ve financed (literally) thousands of transactions so I know the process well, yet I’ve paid tens of thousands of dollars in Realtor commissions over the years and I feel it’s money well spent. Here’s five reasons why:

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