Elegantly Imperfect: The Wabi-Sabi Home

Elegantly Imperfect: The Wabi-Sabi Home

Elegantly Imperfect: The Wabi-Sabi Home

INVESTMENT PROPERTIES
Real Estate Investing: Secrets and Fraud

Real Estate Investing: Secrets and Fraud

Thanks to reality TV and celebrities who promise get-rich-quick solutions for a price, house flipping has become popular with would-be investors. But if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

 

Using Your IRA to Purchase a Home

Using Your IRA to Purchase a Home

The IRS allows limited, penalty-free IRA withdrawals for home purchases. But just because the option is available to you today doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right choice for you long-term.

LUXURY MARKET
The Perfect Blue for You: 20 Pro Shades

The Perfect Blue for You: 20 Pro Shades

Designers love blue for its versatility. While one shade calms the senses, the next evokes the romance of Paris on a rainy day. Which is right for you? Here are 20 shades worth considering.

Adding a Home Bar? Advice From the Experts

Adding a Home Bar? Advice From the Experts

With the right design, a home bar can add a touch of personal style to your existing decor while creating a night-on-the-town vibe in the privacy of your own home. Here are a few inspirational ideas.

VACATION HOMES
14 Ways to Add Gold Finishes to Your Decor

14 Ways to Add Gold Finishes to Your Decor

With metallics currently trending, there’s never been a better time to incorporate gold accents throughout your home. Here are 14 ways you can add the Midas touch to every room.

Bathroom Tile: What's Trending in 2018?

Bathroom Tile: What’s Trending in 2018?

Your choice of tile can make or break your bathroom aesthetic, and the results are something you’ll have to live with for years to come. Before you decide, check out this year’s top six tiling trends.

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Six Surprising Retirement Trends You Need To Know

Six Surprising Retirement Trends You Need To Know

Six Surprising Retirement Trends You Need To Know

Tiny homes. Rockin’ communities where Jimmy Buffet is your spirit animal. Rockin’ a strenuous hike minutes from home. Yeah, this is not your Grandfather’s retirement.

Long gone are the days when people packed it in and moved to a nice, calm little home for the aging in Florida the day they turn 65. Not only are people working longer today, but they are looking for more out of their retirement – more fun and excitement, more job opportunities, and more opportunity to hang out with family. If you’re getting ready to retire, these are the trends you’ll want to know about.

Lifestyle-oriented communities

And we’re not just talking about weekly bingo. There is a wave of new retirement communities, most notably Jimmy Buffet’s foray into a new career path, that cater to a much more active lifestyle. “It’s easy to chuckle at news that a Margaritaville retirement community is coming to Florida (what better age for Parrotheads to pursue their day-drinking dreams?),” said Curbed. “But the billion-dollar community offers more of what today’s and tomorrow’s seniors really want: active, engaging, and walkable neighborhoods. Latitude Margaritaville Daytona Beach has nine models open, with new homes priced from the $200,000s; the Hilton Head, SC location is in its first phase with prices from the mid $200,000s.”

Other developments, like the new $100 million-plus Rancho Mission Viejo in Orange County, CA is being developed “as an upscale mixed-generation development, with housing catering to older adults integrated into clusters of neighborhoods,” they said. “Developments like New York’s new community center for the Morningside Retirement & Health Services (MRHS) showcase a renewed focus on active, communal space. A cohousing development for seniors on Oakland’s waterfront called Phoenix Commons has been compared to a ‘dorm for grownups.'”

Retiring…but not all the way

Mid-size and larger cities are becoming havens for retirees because, among other positive attributes, they offer thriving job markets. So why would that be important to someone who is getting ready to stop working? Because, increasingly, retirees aren’t retiring all the way. Or, they’re embarking on secondary careers, often part-time, post retirement. “74% of working Americans plan to work past retirement age, with 11% expecting to work full time and 63% expecting to work part-time,” said The Street.

 

Multi-generational living

Multi-generational living is on one of real estate’s fastest-growing trend. “In 1940, about one-quarter of the U.S. population lived with three or more generations in one home. After WWII, American families largely became two-generational, with parents and minor-age children under one roof,” said Forbes. “The percentage of households with multiple generations started declining to 21%, reaching a low of 12% by 1980.” According to Pew Research Center data, 60.6 million people, or 19 percent of the U.S. population, lived in multigenerational homes, including 26.9 million three-generation households.”

In fact, the trend is so pervasive today that builders are increasingly creating highly livable granny flats and tiny homes that can live on family land or in backyards. They’re also building new construction homes like Lennar’s Next Gen, which is billed as a “home within a home” and includes “all the features you’d expect in a separate unit (a kitchenette, single car garage and full bathroom) while giving you the freedom to pop in whenever you’d like,” they said.

Increasing the activity level

“The choice of recreational activities is gradually shifting as the baby boomer generation heads into retirement,” said U.S. News & World Report. “A recent study by the Physical Activity Council revealed some interesting findings. Activities that are increasing in popularity include camping, bicycling, hiking and canoeing. Activities that are decreasing in popularity include golf, swimming for fitness and working out using machines or weights.”

The AARP found that boomers are increasingly migrating to states “with mild climates and recreational options. “A newly released survey indicates that those who do move increasingly choose mountain and western states where they find a desirable combination of affordable housing, mild weather and outdoor recreational opportunities, such as skiing and hiking,” they said. United Van Lines’ National Movers Study found that the Mountain West region – which stretches from Arizona to Wyoming – attracted the “biggest influx of older people, with 24.5 percent of those moving citing retirement as a reason for relocating.” That represents a strong shift from several decades ago “when older people mostly left northern states and headed southward. ‘We’re seeing retirees being attracted to more outdoor adventure destinations than in the past.”

Following family

Another of today’s top trends has retirees moving closer to family. For many grandparents, moving toward their children and grandchildren is “the last chance to focus on family and to leave a legacy of special memories,” says Christine Crosby, editorial director of Grandmagazine,” to Kiplinger.

 

 

 

 

WRITTEN BY JAYMI NACIRI

How To Sell Your House Fast.

How To Sell Your House Fast

  I want to show you how to sell your house fast. This article will explain pricing strategies, how to prepare your home for showings, should you have your home pre-appraised, how to find the right real estate agent, and even how to sell by owner.

Wondering what the value of your home is? Get your 

There are 4 components that must work together to get any home sold in any market.  Those factors are PRICE, CONDITION, LOCATION, AND MARKETING. All four are not “created equal” as we will see.

The Price is Right

seller in love with house

 

The primary factor in selling your home is price.  Who determines if the price is right? Would it surprise you to learn that it is the buyer? In order to sell a house, it must be priced to meet the buyer’s criteria. How do buyers come up with the price range that they might be willing to pay?  They shop and compare.  So, we have to think like those buyers.

The first thing you will need to determine the right asking price is a comparative market analysis.  We have to look at houses with similar amenities, size and location that have recently SOLD, those currently on the market, and those that were marketed for sale that did NOT sell.  If a house sold, we know a Buyer and Seller agreed to that price for that home.  Those currently on the market will be your competition, and those that did not sell were priced too high for what they were offering.

BLINDED BY LOVE Sellers often overestimate

the value of their homes for emotional reasons.
Sol Linero
 

The “Goldilocks Effect”

We all know the story of The Three Bears and the very discriminating Goldilocks. Too big, too small, “just right.” Too hot, too cold, “just right.” Your home needs to be priced “just right” in order to get the most potential buyers interested. Thanks to the internet and HGTV, today’s buyers are pretty savvy when it comes to pricing. Take a look at the chart below. We can see that overpricing will drive away potential buyers before they even view the home.

asking price to property appeal

Another important strategy for pricing your home is to always price it in terms of round numbers. Never list for $xxx,900 or $xxx,999. People don’t search for homes that way! If you are looking for a $200.000 home and the home is listed for $199,900 or $199,999, guess what. They aren’t going to find your home even though you are basically asking $200,000.

The National Association of Realtors® compiled a short list of tips for correctly pricing your home.

Tips for pricing your home

If you would like more information about this topic, please contact me.

Setting the Stage

In today’s market, we are in a pricing war and a beauty contest.  When a buyer walks through your home, they are looking for any reason they can to offer you less than what you are asking. Staging will help you overcome those objections before they ever see them.

You need to maximize that beauty of your home so that you stand apart from your competition. “Paint in a can is worth $100.  Paint on the walls can be worth $1,000’s of dollars.” The colors you choose can have an effect on how people feel when they enter the home.

Choosing neutral colors in lighter shades will make it easier for potential buyers to imagine themselves in the home. In the past, everyone painted their walls white. Then we moved to off-white and beige. For 2017, gray is the new beige. By the way, if you have wallpaper that is outdated, be sure to remove it. NEVER paint over wallpaper.

 

Top 3 Colors

 

Here’s a great article by Tori Toth, home staging expert, author of Feel at Home: Home Staging Secrets for a Quick and Easy Sell, Founder of The Stage 2 Sell Strategy, and Owner of Stylish Stagers, Inc. a NYC based home staging company.

She answers many questions sellers have about how to make their home stand out in their market.

Article “How to Stage a Home to Sell”

Another big piece of the staging puzzle is cleaning. Make sure to give your home a thorough, deep cleaning before you have photos taken and begin showings. Nothing makes a buyer want to run through the showing more than unpleasant odors. I’m sure you’ve seen the commercials about being “nose blind” to odors in your environment. It happens to all of us. So, even if you don’t notice any odors lurking, others might.

De-clutter and depersonalize. Closets should be half full, not overflowing. Too much furniture in a room can make it feel small. It may be necessary to rent a storage unit or a “POD” storage for those things you don’t need right away. Remove all photos of your family. Your goal is to make it easier for the next homeowner to see their family living in the home.

Once you have staged your home, it’s important to keep it looking sharp for showings.Here’s a quick video to help you get ready for those last minute showings.

The Real Estate Staging Association, recently released their 2016 Home Staging Statistics Report, based on home staging statistics self-reported by professional home stagers nationally. Homes staged before listing sell 90% faster than homes listed on the MLS unstaged. Unstaged homes spent an average of 184 Days On Market (DOM). That’s more than 6 months! Yikes! Once those same homes were staged, they sold, on average, in 41 days. However, homes that were staged prior to listing sold, on average in 23 days!

Choose the Right Agent

How do you choose the right agent to sell your home fast? For most of us, buying and selling our home is the biggest financial transaction of our lives. Finding a skilled, well trained, and honest agent to represent you is of the utmost importance.

In today’s world, consumers have many ways available to them to learn about agents. Probably the best way to find out what an agent has to offer you is by interviewing them. It may seem obvious, but many people don’t take the time to do it.

Here are some questions you may want to ask your agent before signing a Listing Agreement:

  • * Do you have a marketing plan for my house?
    • Most agents do the “3 P’s” of marketing. They Put it in the multiple listing database, the Place a sign in the yard, and they Pray that someone comes along to buy it. Ask them if they do the 4th “P”, Prospecting. If they don’t do all 4 P’s, they’re not the right agent.
  • *Do you work full-time?
    • A full-time agent is likely to give you more time and attention than a part-time agent. A part-time agent may not be the right agent for you.
      • * How will you communicate with me?
        • According to the National Association of Realtors, the biggest complaint that sellers have is that they don’t hear anything from their agent. Once the Listing Agreement is signed, they disappear and become “Secret Agents.” If they don’t have a plan to keep you informed, they’re not the right agent.
      • Is your Real Estate License in good standing?
      • * Do you have any client complaints against you?
        • There are websites to check an agent’s license. Ask the agent to provide it to you.
      • * Can you provide me with references who are not relatives?
        • Talking to past clients is a great way to find out if the agent will do what they are telling you they will do.
      • * Can you help me with staging my home?
        • You are in a pricing war and a beauty contest when it comes to marketing your home. The right agent will be able to help you with making your home look it’s very best.
      • * Who takes the photos of my home?
        • Does the agent come in with their cell phone and snap some pics? You only have one chance to make a first impression. This is especially true online. Home buyers look at pictures! If your pictures are blurry or poorly lit don’t expect to get many showings. You’ve worked hard to get the house ready to show. The right agent will hire a professional to take photos that will showcase your home in its best light.
      • * What documents do I need to sign?
        • These should include, of course, the listing agreement and sales contract. If the listing agreement does not have a cancellation clause, ask if you can cancel if you are unhappy with the services. If you have the free right to cancel, the length of the listing agreement does not matter much. Read all documents and ask questions if you don’t understand anything.
      • * Do you have a website and/or blog?
        • Virtually all agents have a website. Visit it to get a sense of the agent and the brand. Not many agents have blogs so don’t hold it against them. But if they do have a blog, visit and read their posts and comments. In my (biased) opinion, you will get enormous insights into the agent’s personality & local expertise, among other things.
      • What past clients have to say about Chris:

Chris was instrumental in helping me to decide to relocate to Mesquite. I retired in Virginia last Fall with a plan to relocate to Las Vegas where I have family. I was unable to find affordable housing on a fixed income in LV and decided to explore Mesquite. In just one day I found the perfect  home. Chris was helpful by allowing me to mail boxes of books to his office until I closed on the home. I was able to use his resources to check emails and/or fax needed documents. Since closing on the house, I have Chris on speed-dial and he has continued to be responsive to any requests. I highly recommend him.
He has been very helpful in finding a house for me. He goes out of his way to find just what I am looking for. I really don’t know of a real estate agent that will do as much. Dottie


Chris went above and beyond the call of duty when we changed our minds on a property on which we’d made an offer. We found the place we eventually purchased in the exact location we desired and Chris provided advice and expertise that helped us close quickly and painlessly. He was friendly,  courteous, and, most importantly, knew the real estate process inside and out. Great guy.
Tom & Julie 1-18-2018


Chris is very knowledgeable in real estate buying or selling. He gives you spot on advice and stayed cool, calm, and collected when I wasn’t! It all turned out to be very positive and we got the home that was perfect for us.
Jerry and Mary 1/22/18

      • To set up an interview with Chris, call or text 435-962-1923.

        Should You Have Your Home Inspected and/or Appraised?

        Selling a home is really a series of milestones that have to be completed. You and your agent will do a lot of hard work to get your home to market. Pricing it right, getting it looking its best, and marketing it to potential buyers are just the beginning. There are two milestones that can make or break the deal. One is the Home Inspection and the other is the Appraisal.

        What’s the difference between a home inspection and an appraisal?

        Simply put, the home inspection concerns the house’s systems while an appraisal concerns the house’s value. Of course, the condition of the home affects the home’s value so doing repairs will definitely help you get a good appraisal.

        Here in Delaware, buyers want a home inspection performed (usually at their expense) and then the seller is asked to perform necessary repairs. Getting a pre-inspection can save you, as the seller, a lot of heartache down the road. Finding a major defect can derail a sale if the seller is unprepared to complete the repair.

        Choosing an Appraiser

        When having your own appraisal done, you get to choose the person who will perform it. In Delaware, all appraisers are licensed.  The Council of Real Estate Appraisers website can provide information about licensed appraisers. When choosing an appraiser, it is important to choose a local appraiser. A local appraiser will be familiar with conditions in your market  Click here to find a local appraiser.

        Prep the House

        Make list of all the problems with the house and fix as many as you can afford. Some of those items may include:

    • woman fixing faucet
      •                       *Stained carpets
      •                       *Loose woodwork
      •                       *Torn window screens
      •                       *Chipped paint on the walls or loose wallpaper
      •                       *Faulty locks and broken hinges
      •                       *Faulty heating and/or cooling system
      •                       *Faulty appliances
      •                       *Leaky roof
      • Once all of the repairs are completed, give the home a thorough deep cleaning. A dirty and/or cluttered house suggests that there may be other problems with the home. Wipe down all surfaces inside the home, including windows and doors. Make sure to clean up the garage and yard as well. De-cluttering makes rooms look larger. Get rid of things you no longer need. Consider a storage unit for things you want to keep.

 

Talk to the Appraiser

Share any information you may have about other homes in the area that have recently sold. For example, if your neighbors were going through a divorce and lowered the price for a quick sale, the appraiser may not be aware of that information. Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Here are some benefits of having your home inspected and appraised:

  • Get higher offers – a pre-home inspectionand home appraisal will lead to higher offers. The buyer knows the home has been recently inspected for termites, repairs, and problems. This also makes you more honest as a seller (in the mind of the buyer) because you will have a report for them regarding the findings of the inspection and appraisal. This gives them a sense that they are getting exactly what you say you are selling, and they do not feel you can be dishonest in such circumstances. This often leads to higher offers due to the fact that buyers believe what you are saying more since there is an appraiser’s signature to back it up.
  • Get more offers – Just as doing a pre-inspection and appraisal leads to higher offers, it can also often lead to MORE offers. As word spreads that you have had the home inspected, repaired, and appraised, it will increase the number of people who are interested in your home. This is why you will want to place this in a prominent location in your ad once you have had this process completed, so that people will know that you have taken the extra steps to ensure that your home is up to par before listing it.  This will also lead people to trust you more and that leads to more offers too.
  • Smoother closing process – The ultimate goal is to get to closing. You can do all of the work to get the home under contract and have the deal fall apart at the last minute because of problems with the home inspection or appraisal. Having the home appraised and inspected eliminates the element of surprise.
  • Give potential buyers the whole picture – The appraisal gives them the market value according to a certified appraiser, and the home inspection ensures the buyer that the home has been checked out from the inside out and meets up to standards. Both of these pieces of the puzzle are important as you prepare to put your home on the market.  These two together, along with a record of whatever repairs or additions you have done, will add greatly to the value of your home and increase the likelihood of closing the sale with buyers in the final analysis.Nothing is guaranteed, but getting your home inspected and appraised puts you head and shoulders above the crowd in terms of presenting your home and yourself with the highest standards and allowing potential buyers to feel that they are getting a straightforward approach to your real estate offerings.

545 vs. 300,000,000 People

Politicians are the only people in the world who create problems and then campaign against them.

Have you ever wondered, if both the Democrats and the Republicans are against deficits, WHY do we have deficits?

Have you ever wondered, if all the politicians are against inflation and high taxes, WHY do we have inflation and high taxes?

You and I don’t propose a federal budget. The President does.

You and I don’t have the Constitutional authority to vote on appropriations. The House of Representatives does.

You and I don’t write the tax code, Congress does.

You and I don’t set fiscal policy, Congress does.

You and I don’t control monetary policy, the Federal Reserve Bank does.

One hundred senators, 435 congressmen, one President, and nine Supreme Court justices equates to 545 human beings out of the 300 million are directly, legally, morally, and individually responsible for the domestic problems that plague this country.

I excluded the members of the Federal Reserve Board because that problem was created by the Congress. In 1913, Congress delegated its Constitutional duty to provide a sound currency to a federally chartered, but private, central bank.

I excluded all the special interests and lobbyists for a sound reason. They have no legal authority. They have no ability to coerce a senator, a congressman, or a President to do one cotton-picking thing. I don’t care if they offer a politician $1 million dollars in cash. The politician has the power to accept or reject it. No matter what the lobbyist promises, it is the legislator’s responsibility to determine how he votes.

Those 545 human beings spend much of their energy convincing you that what they did is not their fault. They cooperate in this common con regardless of party.

What separates a politician from a normal human being is an excessive amount of gall. No normal human being would have the gall of a Speaker, who stood up and criticized the President for creating deficits. The President can only propose a budget. He cannot force the Congress to accept it.

The Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land, gives sole responsibility to the House of Representatives for originating and approving appropriations and taxes. Who is the speaker of the House? John Boehner. He is the leader of the majority party. He and fellow House members, not the President, can approve any budget they want. If the President vetoes it, they can pass it over his veto if they agree to.

It seems inconceivable to me that a nation of 300 million cannot replace 545 people who stand convicted — by present facts — of incompetence and irresponsibility.. I can’t think of a single domestic problem that is not traceable directly to those 545 people. When you fully grasp the plain truth that 545 people exercise the power of the federal government, then it must follow that what exists is what they want to exist.

If the tax code is unfair, it’s because they want it unfair.

If the budget is in the red, it’s because they want it in the red.

If the Army & Marines are in Iraq and Afghanistan it’s because they want them in Iraq and Afghanistan.

If they do not receive social security but are on an elite retirement plan not available to the people, it’s because they want it that way.

There are no insoluble government problems.

Do not let these 545 people shift the blame to bureaucrats, whom they hire and whose jobs they can abolish; to lobbyists, whose gifts and advice they can reject; to regulators, to whom they give the power to regulate and from whom they can take this power. Above all, do not let them con you into the belief that there exists disembodied mystical forces like “the economy”,”inflation,” or “politics” that prevent them from doing what they take an oath to do.

Those 545 people, and they alone, are responsible.

They, and they alone, have the power.

They, and they alone, should be held accountable by the people who are their bosses.

Provided the voters have the gumption to manage their own employees.

We should vote all of them out of office and clean up their mess.

Charlie Reese is a former columnist of the Orlando Sentinel Newspaper.

What you do with this article now that you have read it is up to you. This might be funny if it weren’t so true. Be sure to read all the way to the end:

Tax his land,
Tax his bed,
Tax the table,
At which he’s fed.

Tax his tractor,
Tax his mule,
Teach him taxes
Are the rule.

Tax his work,
Tax his pay,
He works for
peanuts anyway!

Tax his cow,
Tax his goat,
Tax his pants,
Tax his coat.

Tax his ties,
Tax his shirt,
Tax his work,
Tax his dirt.

Tax his tobacco,
Tax his drink,
Tax him if he
Tries to think.

Tax his cigars,
Tax his beers,
If he cries
Tax his tears.

Tax his car,
Tax his gas,
Find other ways
Taxes to pass

Tax all he has
Then let him know
That you won’t be done
Till he has no dough.

When he screams and hollers;
Then tax him some more,
Tax him till
He’s good and sore.

Then tax his coffin,
Tax his grave,
Tax the sod in
Which he’s laid…

Put these words
Upon his tomb,
‘Taxes drove me
to my doom…’

When he’s gone,
Do not relax,
Its time to apply
The inheritance tax.

Accounts Receivable Tax
Building Permit Tax
CDL license Tax
Cigarette Tax
Corporate Income Tax
Dog License Tax
Excise Taxes
Federal Income Tax
Federal Unemployment Tax (FUTA)
Fishing License Tax
Food License Tax
Fuel Permit Tax
Gasoline Tax (currently 44.75 cents per gallon)
Gross Receipts Tax
Hunting License Tax
Inheritance Tax
Inventory Tax
IRS Interest Charges IRS Penalties (tax on top of tax)
Liquor Tax
Luxury Taxes
Marriage License Tax
Medicare Tax
Personal Property Tax
Property Tax
Real Estate Tax
Service Charge Tax
Social Security Tax
Road Usage Tax
Recreational Vehicle Tax
Sales Tax
School Tax
State Income Tax
State Unemployment Tax (SUTA)
Telephone Federal Excise Tax
Telephone Federal Universal Service Fee Tax
Telephone Federal, State and Local Surcharge Taxes
Telephone Minimum Usage Surcharge Tax
Telephone Recurring and Nonrecurring Charges Tax
Telephone State and Local Tax
Telephone Usage Charge Tax
Utility Taxes
Vehicle License Registration Tax
Vehicle Sales Tax
Watercraft Registration Tax
Well Permit Tax
Workers Compensation Tax

STILL THINK THIS IS FUNNY?
Not one of these taxes existed 100 years ago, and our nation was the most prosperous in the world. We had absolutely no national debt, had the largest middle class in the world, and Mom stayed home to raise the kids.

What in the heck happened? Can you spell ‘politicians?’

I hope this goes around THE USA at least 545 times! YOU can help it get there!!!

GO AHEAD. . . BE AN AMERICAN.

How To Handle The Stress Of Selling Your Home

How To Handle The Stress Of Selling Your Home

How To Handle The Stress Of Selling Your Home

Three things are certain in life: death, taxes … and undue stress caused by moving. Whether or not you use the services of a REALTOR® to help you wade through the uncertain waters of the buy-and-sell process, moving is stressful, period. And there’s not much you can do to avoid it. And we’re not just talking about packing and paperwork. Moving is an emotional process. If your’e not calming down your nervous children, you’re trying to reassure yourself that you’ll meet people in your new neighborhood, that you bought the best house within your means, and that your kids’ new schools will measure up.

It’s easy to forget while we’re dealing with all of these jitters that moving actually can represent an exciting adventure, a growth opportunity and the prospect of new beginnings. Once the dust settles after your move, you’re entering one of the most memorable times of your life. With any luck, you’ve recruited a REALTOR® who’s familiar with the obvious stresses as well as the insidious (and subsequently more detrimental) ones. Depending upon your relationship with your Realtor, you should be able to rely on him or her for more than just closing the deal. Your Realtor also should be able to calm your trepidations by giving you the support you need — giving you the facts about that new school district, reassuring you that your jitters are perfectly normal, and giving you as much information about your new hometown as possible, increasing your familiarity with the previously unknown.

It’s important to remember throughout the entire selling and buying process, however, to reserve time for yourself and your family. It’s not a waste of time, but rather an insurance policy for your sanity and continued happiness. Stress is sneaky, as we’ve all discovered. It can eat away at us during what are supposed to be the happiest of times, because after all, any major change in life is stressful. If it’s supressed, it can wreak havoc both emotionally and physically and spread throughout the family. And there’s nothing worse than moving a grumpy family across the country. For the sake of your continued family unity, keep in mind the following stress-relieving measures:

First, remember that it’s perfect normal to feel unsure of your decision right now. You’ve just made a major commitment, and all of us experience those last-second “What on earth did I just do” worries after signing contracts and making life-changing decisions. Instead of becoming overwhelmed with “what ifs” and dread, reframe this decision as a prime opportunity to begin your lives in a new environment. The old saying “When one door closes, another one opens” definitely applies here. Trust that your Realtor is looking out for your best interests, ask as many questions as you need to throughout the entire process (that’s part of what your Realtor is paid for), and look forward to the adventure that lies ahead of you.

If you can, keep an emergency fund in case you run into any unexpected costs. One example: If your buyer comes forward after a home inspection is completed and requests a series of repairs prior to move-in, you’ll be prepared. Chances are good that you won’t necessarily agree with the buyer’s requests, but at least you won’t face the additional stress of being short the money for repairs if you plan ahead and save some extra cash (no set amount — just as much as you can handle. A goal you might try to shoot for would be in the range of $2,500). It’s probably in your best interests not to try to guess what the buyer will want to repair, and then fix it ahead of time. That’s because buyers have a habit of isolating areas of your home that you never considered having repaired, and not even noticing the ones you expected them to pinpoint. So save yourself any expenses until you’ve determined their requests.

And while we’re on the subject of finances, try to anticipate and prepare for the initial expenses you’ll face upon move-in. Resign yourself to the fact that during the moving process, you’re going to feel as if you’re holding your wallet upside down, and everyone — movers, contractors, buyer, etc. — is sitting underneath, catching the windfall and demanding a larger share. Keep in mind that this is an investment for the good of your family, and that these costs are a one-time inevitability.

Remind yourself of why you’re moving in the first place. A job transfer, or is it a voluntary choice? Obviously, whether or not you had some degree of control over the decision will affect your outlook. Regardless of your answer to that question, round up as much information as you can about your new hometown. What kinds of cultural offerings does the town/city offer? What are its landmarks and natural attractions? Research some possible day trips you might take with the family once you’re settled. Is your new hometown near state borders, giving you the opportunity to explore different regions of the country without much effort?

Envision your new home. Where will you place the furniture? Remind yourself of the home’s primary selling points. Will you have more space? More closets? A large backyard and/or swimming pool? What does your new streetlook like? Do a lot of young families reside there? If so, your children are likely to be reassured by that knowledge. As often as possible, try to picture yourself and your family fully adapted to your new environment.

Remember to have a little fun occasionally. You’re still allowed, even if you feel as if you don’t have a penny left to your name. Take the family out to dinner, to a movie or a picnic — anything that gets all of you out of the house and away from boxes, paperwork, emotions and all of those pre-move concerns. Keep a regular “date” to get out together — for example, every Friday night leading up to the move. Take your mind off your stress for a few hours, and remind yourself that your family members are experiencing many of the same emotions. Like misery, stress often loves company, so enjoy your time together and remember that this stress won’t last forever. Regardless of what you’re feeling now, the move will happen and everything will eventually fall into place. Journeying into the unknown is what makes life rewarding, so trust in your Realtor’s expertise and in your family’s resilience, and look forward to the journey ahead.

Existing-Home Sales Suffer Sharp Decline

Real Estate market

Existing-home sales declined for the second consecutive month in January and last month’s decrease was the sharpest in three years.

Total existing-home sales slumped by 3.2% in January to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.38 million, according to the National Association of Realtors.  The annual rate during December 2017 was 5.56 million.

Sales are down by 4.8% compared to this time a year ago, which is the lowest annual drop since August 2014.

Once again, low inventory is at the forefront of the market’s problems. Housing inventory actually increased by 4.1% last month to 1.52 million existing homes available for sale. Good news, right? Sort of. Inventory is still 9.5% lower than a year ago and has fallen year-over-year for 32 consecutive months, according to the NAR. Unsold inventory is at a 3.4-month supply at the current sales pace.

NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun believes the market desperately needs a correction from a supply standpoint to satisfy rampant buyer demand.

“While the good news is that Realtors® in most areas are saying buyer traffic is even stronger than the beginning of last year, sales failed to follow course and far lagged last January’s pace,” Yun said. “It’s very clear that too many markets right now are becoming less affordable and desperately need more new listings to calm the speedy price growth.”

The good news for agents and sellers is that prices increased for the 71st consecutive month. The median existing-home price in January was $240,500, up 5.8% from January 2017.

Agents can seriously control the market by accumulating a sufficient inventory of listings. Not only can you grow your network by connecting with sellers and buyers, you’ll put yourself in a prime position to cash in on the current market conditions. Until supply meets demand, housing prices should continue to rise.

Keep generating leads and kicking the tires on prospective, hesitant sellers. Remember: those who list, last.

by Matt Barbato

Home Seller Tips To Having A Successful Open House

Home Seller Tips To Having A Successful Open House

Home Seller Tips To Having A Successful Open House

Holding an open house for your soon-to-be-listed or newly on the market home is a lot like being on a game show where edging out the other contestants in a short period of time is key. In TV game shows, such as “Jeopardy,” the contestants don’t automatically know answers to so many trivia questions; they study and they plan and they make it appear to viewers like they walk around with that body of knowledge every day. Open houses need to be thought of similarly. Once your home is on the market, an open house is your opportunity to plan and strategize how you are going to win over buyers in very short time.

Even in a strong real estate market where houses sell quickly, it’s still important to ask your agent to hold as many open houses as possible until the home sells. One reason is that even buyers with agents still like to look at homes on their own without feeling the pressure of a home tour. Sometimes their agent is out of town when your house goes on the market. Many buyers are not represented by an agent and the only way for them to tour a home is through an open house. Your agent will plan the open house to include everything from signage to freshly baked cookies. As a seller, you should take the following steps:

Depersonalize

Back to the game show analogy, think of depersonalizing as studying the answers and questions before trying out for “Jeopardy.” Your house is lovely for how you live in it, but buyers don’t want to see you in your house. In fact, the more your house makes it difficult to guess who lives there (age, religion, gender etc), the better. Take down personal photos, religious emblems, the cute collection of mini ceramic frogs, etc. Analyze your stuff for whether it’s morally, politically, or otherwise socially objectionable and remove all of it. You don’t want to eliminate buyers because they are turned off by your personal tastes.

Declutter

While you are depersonalizing it’s also a good time to declutter as the two go hand in hand. The more simple and understated your home is, the more likely buyers can see the home for what it is and imagine themselves in it. When you have too much stuff cluttering walls and counters and shelves, buyers turn their focus toward those things and sometimes even make the assumption in logic that if you are cluttery, then you are disorganized, which means maybe you don’t take care of the house as well or as on time as you should. A good rule of thumb is to box up or store at least half of the smaller items displayed in your home.

For example, how much is on your kitchen counter right now? Now imagine reducing that number to just three things. What would you choose to keep versus store? Some sellers are benefited by going to other open houses in their area and looking at how other people have decluttered and arranged what is left. Online pictures, such as what is found on Pinterest, can help too. Often you can get some good ideas on what works visually just by seeing how others do it. When you are all done decluttering, clean your home like never before because buyers notice dirt and grime. Hire a maid service if you have to.

Lure Them In

The outside of your home is as important as the inside, especially the front entry area. Before an open house, take care of simple yard maintenance such as mowing, edging and weeding flower beds. A fresh layer of mulch adds color especially in winter months when not much is blooming. At your front door, clean off spider webs, blown leaves, and place a large, colorful pot of annuals or anything you can buy in season.

Complete Your Honey-Do List

While you have the yard power tools out, dust of your workbench and take a walk around your house inside and out. Make a list of all maintenance issues such as wiggly door handles, missing fascia, paint that has chipped, etc. and repair them before the open house. Buyers see even the smallest of maintenance issues as an extension of the condition of larger items such as roofs, plumbing and major appliances and assume you haven’t taken care of the home. You might talk to your realtor about a pre-inspection to deal with all home maintenance and problems upfront, before you get into contract with a buyer.

Be Cautious

Once you have taken the above steps and you are ready for the actual open house, there’s one last thing to plan. Protecting your valuables and identity. It might be rare, but criminals do use open houses as a way to case a house or to find collateral to steal identities. Make sure indoor safes are locked and hidden. Store heirlooms, checkbooks, prescriptions, and valuable jewelry away from prying eyes. Utilize a reliable, trustworthy, identity theft protection service to see you through the entire listing and sales process.