9 Things Real Estate Agents Wish You Knew About Selling Your Home

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When it comes time to sell your house, having a great listing agent is one of the keys to making it happen. And yet, the agent can’t do it all—your help is needed. Help your agent help you!

Ideally, you will have an open, honest relationship with your listing agent. But even then, there are some things your agent might be reluctant to tell you. Whether to spare your feelings or because he assumes you already know, here are some things your listing agent wishes you knew. Listen up and learn!

1. Your stuff is lovely, but…

“While your home may be beautifully decorated, it still looks like your home, not the buyer’s,” says Teresa Stephenson, vice president of residential brokerage at Platinum Properties in New York.

In particular, clutter can make a home feel cramped and leave a bad first impression.

2. Stop hiding things from me

Leaky faucets? Termite infestation? An air conditioner that barely blows cool air?

“Don’t keep any of your home’s flaws from your agent because you are scared it might hurt your sale,” says Karen Elmir, founder and CEO of the Elmir Group in Miami.

Remember, your listing agent is on your side and knows what must be fixed or what can slide—so go ahead and share the good, the bad, and the ugly. Whatever you hide from an agent could rear its head as a nasty surprise later.

3. You need to fix a few things

Katie Messenger, a Realtor® with Bello Dimora Real Estate Network in Kentucky and Cincinnati, wants clients to know they might have to spend a few bucks to make their house look its best.

“Replace the trim the dogs scratched up. Clean the scuff marks off the walls. Power-wash the algae off the vinyl siding,” she says. “To you, it’s totally normal because you’ve lived with these issues for years. To buyers, these will look like expensive repairs, which means they’ll have to lowball you, or not make an offer at all, because your house ‘needs a lot of work.’” Even if it actually doesn’t.

4. Your remodeling might not pay off much

Blood, sweat, tears, and a heck of a lot of cash might have gone into your remodeling projects, but that doesn’t mean there’s a guaranteed payback for any of it, as illogical as that might seem.

“An ROI, or return, on a home’s upgrades does not necessarily increase value,” says Michael Kelczewski, a Realtor with Brandywine Fine Properties Sotheby’s International Realty in Delaware and Maryland.

It largely depends on what kind of home improvement you do; here’s a list of some common renovations with their return on investment.

5. Be nice: Don’t overprice!

While listing at a high price and then coming down as necessary seems like the best way to avoid leaving any money on the table, you could actually be shooting yourself in the foot.

“If you overprice your home, buyers may not catch that, but buyer’s agents will,” points out Doc Reiss, managing broker at Town & Country Real Estate in Port Angeles, WA. “When a home is overpriced, buyer’s agents will either avoid bringing their buyers or, worse yet, they use it as an example to sell another property: ‘See how much nicer this one is for the price than the last one we saw?’”

6. Cleanliness really does count

Do people really not clean their house before it’s shown to potential buyers? Yep.

Andrew Mak, an agent with Corcoran in New York, says things like a greasy stove, dust on the floors or furniture, and unkempt bathroom fixtures like the shower, sinks, and toilets are noticed most during a showing.

“The kitchen and the bathroom are the two main areas where cleanliness—or lack thereof—is most obvious,” says Mak. Gross. (You did want to sell this house, right?)

7. Have some patience

Yes, we know you thought your beautiful house would fly off the market the moment it hit, but that’s not always the case. In fact, realtor.com data show that homes sit on the market for an average 66 days.

“The real estate process is a long process from showings to inspections to negotiations,“ says Kelczewski. “Be patient! Persevering leads to success.”

8. Don’t hurt the messenger

“When I present a lowball offer, a long list of repair items, or a low appraisal, I am just relaying information from another party,” Messenger says. “I know it’s an emotional and sometimes frustrating process; however, I am not the one writing ‘insulting’ offers, performing home inspections, or appraising the home.

“I am a representative of your best interests, so know that I am always in your corner to fight for what makes the most sense for you—not all of the other parties involved in a real estate transaction,” she says.

9. Selling your home isn’t a spectator sport

“Some sellers don’t realize that hiring a real estate agent doesn’t mean they get to sit back with a bag of popcorn and watch the home sale unfold,” says Jonathan Self, a Realtor with Center Coast Realty in Chicago.

“Selling a home is a team effort, even when you hire a real estate agent. If you can keep your home clean and tidy and arrange for someone to dog sit during showings, I can be 100% focused on selling your home for top dollar. That cooperation and partnership makes it much easier for me to do a good job for you.”

“Copyright National Association of REALTORS®. Reprinted with permission.”

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Dos and Don’ts for a First-Time Home Buyer

Daily Real Estate News

Purchasing a home for the first time is one of the most exciting and important decisions someone can make. Making a mistake in the process can be devastating. However, most first-time home buyer mistakes are easily avoidable with a little bit of research and guidance from a real estate professional. Here are a few dos and don’ts to help prepare first-time buyers.

Don’t assume you are able to buy a home just because you have saved for the down payment. There will be other pre-buying expenses related to purchasing the home that you need to anticipate. Anticipating these costs and investing up front will make the loan process much easier. Make sure you check your credit score as well, because this will determine your interest rates and insurance costs.

Don’t make any huge purchases before you close. Lenders will re-check your debt load just before closing. If they see large additions to that load, they may back out on you, even at the last minute. Hold off on getting that new car, new furniture, new appliances, etc., until after you have closed.

Don’t underestimate the cost of home improvements. If you decide to purchase a fixer-upper, assume that any updates you plan to do will cost more and take more time than you budget. This may be true for smaller home projects, too, such as remodeling a bathroom or refinishing hardwood floors.

Don’t make an emotional purchase. You want to find a house that you love, but don’t let attachments to details fog your vision when it comes to making a smart financial investment.

Do take a long term outlook on your purchase. Things like the kind of neighborhood or quality of local schools may not matter to you if you don’t have a family. Extra bedrooms might also not seem too important. Your ability to resell your home, though, is. Think through how your home may work if your circumstances change or how easily you might be able to resell it if that is what is necessary.

Do choose the right lender. Look for one with a good reputation who delivers on their promises, especially in regard to the rate they offer and the timeliness of getting the loan in place.

Do work with a REALTOR®. There are a lot of complex avenues to navigate as you purchase a home, and a REALTOR® will be able to offer you guidance and resources to manage it well. Everything from finding the right house, to negotiating the deal, to walking you through closing costs, a REALTOR® is the most helpful asset to your investment. Taking your time to find the right person is important.  Ask around for recommendations and interview a few agents. Find an agent whose schedule works with yours. Look for someone who has a personality you mesh with so the process can be as fun and smooth as possible.

Source: Thrillist

“Copyright NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. Reprinted with permission”

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12 Simple Home Repair Jobs to Lift You Out of Winter’s Funk

Accomplishments — even little ones — go a long way toward a sunny outlook. Fortunately, there are plenty of easy, quick home repair chores you can do when you’re mired in the thick of winter.

For max efficiency, make a to-do list ahead of time and shop for all the tools and supplies in one trip. On your work days, put the basics in a caddy and carry it from room to room, checking off completed tasks as you speed through them.

#1 Sagging Towel Rack or Wobbly TP Holder

Unscrew the fixture and look for the culprit. It’s probably a wimpy, push-in type plastic drywall anchor. Pull that out (or just poke it through the wall) and replace it with something more substantial. Toggle bolts are strongest, and threaded types such as E-Z Ancor are easy to install.

Eliminate squeaks by squirting a puff of powdered graphite ($2.50 for a 3-gram tube) alongside the pin where the hinge turns. If the door sticks, plane off a bit of the wood, then touch up the paint so the surgery isn’t noticeable.

#3 Stop Creaky Floor Boards

They’ll shush if you fasten them down better. Anti-squeak repair kits, such as Squeeeeek No More ($23), feature specially designed screws that are easy to conceal. A low-cost alternative: Dust a little talcum powder into the seam where floorboards meet — the talcum acts as a lubricant to quiet boards that rub against each other.

#4 Remove Rust on Shutoff Valves

Check under sinks and behind toilets for the shutoff valves on your water supply lines. These little-used valves may slowly rust in place over time, and might not work when you need them most.

Keep them operating by putting a little machine oil or WD-40 on the handle shafts. Twist the handles back and forth to work the oil into the threads. If they won’t budge, give the oil a couple of hours to penetrate, and try again.

#5 Repair Blistered Paint on Shower Ceilings

This area gets a lot of heat and moisture that stresses paint finishes. Scrape off old paint and recoat, using a high-quality exterior-grade paint. Also, be sure everyone uses the bathroom vent when showering to help get rid of excess moisture.

#6 Fix Loose Handles and Hinges

You can probably fix these with a few quick turns of a screwdriver. But if a screw just spins in place, try making the hole fit the screw better by stuffing in a toothpick coated with glue, or switching to a larger screw.

#7 Replace Batteries on Carbon Monoxide and Smoke Detectors

If you don’t like waking up to the annoying chirp of smoke detector batteries as they wear down, do what many fire departments recommend and simply replace all of them at the same time once a year.

#8 Test GFCI Outlets

You’re supposed to test ground-fault circuit interrupters them once a month, but who does? Now’s a great time. You’ll find them around potentially wet areas — building codes specify GFCI outlets in bathrooms, kitchens, and for outdoor receptacles. Make sure the device trips and resets correctly. If you find a faulty outlet, replace it or get an electrician to do it for $75 to $100.

Another good project is to replace your GFCIs with the latest generation of protected outlets that test themselves, such as Levitron’s SmartlockPro Self-Test GFCI ($28). You won’t have to manually test ever again!

#9 Clean Exhaust Filter for the Stove

By washing it to remove grease, you’ll increase the efficiency of your exhaust vent; plus, if a kitchen stovetop fire breaks out, this will help keep the flames from spreading.

#10 Clean Out Clothes Dryer Vent

Pull the dryer out from the wall, disconnect the vent pipe, and vacuum lint out of the pipe and the place where it connects to the machine. Also, wipe lint off your exterior dryer vent so the flap opens and closes easily. (You’ll need to go outside for that, but it’s quick.) Remember that vents clogged with old dryer lint are a leading cause of house fires.

Related: How to Maintain Your Dryer

#11 Drain Hoses

Inspect your clothes washer, dishwasher, and icemaker. If you see any cracks or drips, replace the hose so you don’t come home to a flood one day.

#12 Check Electrical Cords

Replace any that are brittle, cracked, or have damaged plugs. If you’re using extension cords, see if you can eliminate them — for example, by replacing that too-short lamp cord with one that’s longer. If you don’t feel up to rewiring the lamp yourself, drop it off at a repair shop as you head out to shop for your repair materials. It might not be ready by the end of the day. But, hey, one half-done repair that you can’t check off is no big deal, right?

“Visit HouseLogic.com for more articles like this.  Reprinted from HouseLogic.com with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.”

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16 Useful Rules Every Organized House Follows

Homes don’t clean themselves. But these rules (wake and make!) will make you feel like they do.

A few simple daily habits could make it seem like you’ve got a self-cleaning house.

Rules like …

#1 Dedicate 20 Minutes a Day Every Day

You don’t need to set aside 20 hours one day to get things in order. You only need 20 minutes every day.

Focus on tackling clutter in just one room. You might only pare down a single drawer or shelf, but “it will make you feel accomplished at the end of the day, and at the end of a week, you will see how much you can declutter,” says professional organizer Helena Alkhas.

Small tasks add up quickly when you’re saving them to do all at once. So if it takes less than a minute to complete, do it immediately.  Put that cup in the dishwasher rather than the sink.  Break down that Amazon box for recycling right after you unbox your goodie.  (Hot tip: Want a reminder of how much you can get done in a minute? Next time your coffee goes cold, pop it in the microwave for a minute, and just stand there. For the whole minute. It’s kind of a long time.)

#3 Start a Load of Laundry Before Work

If you have a full load in the hamper, toss it in while you’re getting ready for work. By the time you leave, it will be ready for the dryer.

When you get home, you’ll already feel ahead of schedule with just a little fluffing and folding to do. Just make sure you’ve properly maintained your dryer to reduce the risk of a fire.

#4 Always Leave a Room With Something in Hand

Oh hey, conveniently, you’re always walking into other rooms. Why not pickup a hitchhiker or two?

Every time you leave a room, take a quick scan for anything that belongs where you’re going, and you’ll start habitually keeping clutter under control.

#5 Deal With Your Mail Every Time You Bring It In

With so much of your important mail going straight to your inbox, sometimes you’ve got days of fliers and junk mail to wade through every time you make it to the USPS mailbox.

To banish paper clutter from your home — and make sure you catch anything actually worth reading — immediately sort through your mail, recycling the nonsense and putting the keepers in an assigned spot.

#6 Scan and Trash Weekly

Thanks to this fancy technology stuff, you can clear out all receipts, invitations, insurance documents, and other important paperwork.

Take a few minutes every weekend to scan and save everything, then toss it all it the recycling. With smartphone apps like Genius Scan, you always have the tools in the palm of your hand.

#7 Tidy Up During Downtime

In the five minutes it takes to nuke your lunch, you can unload and possibly reload the dishwasher, or wipe off the countertops and appliances. You’ll be surprised how much order you can restore to your home during these normally wasted waiting-on-something moments.

#8 Make Your Bed as Soon as You Get Up

According to retired Admiral William H. McRaven, author of “Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life … and Maybe the World,” “It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another. By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed.”

#9 Do Chores in the Same Order

Whether you’re cleaning on a Saturday or Wednesday, your mind (and body) will move more quickly from vacuuming to mopping to dusting if you check chores off in the same order — making it easier to keep your home tidy and clean.

Headphones and a throwback playlist are a recommended, but not required, part of the routine.

#10 Spot-Clean Bathrooms Nightly

Just as clutter attracts clutter, bathroom funk quickly multiplies.

Stock every bathroom with Lysol wipes and you can quickly and easily clean the countertop and toilet when you brush your teeth or help the kids get ready for bed, Alkhas says.

While wiping, you’ll naturally put away the floss, hair ties, and other clutter in your path.

#11 Stop Dirt and Clutter at the Door

Image: Liz Foreman for HouseLogic

Establish a house rule that shoes, bags, jackets, and “pocket items” — your keys, sunglasses, wallet, and phone — are stowed in a drop zone at the door.

Make this easy to enforce by assigning one hook and open shelf for every member of the family — double that for those with lots of extracurriculars, Alkhas says.

#12 Clean Out the Fridge Weekly

The night before your garbage day, “wipe off the shelves and clean out anything that has no chance of being eaten,” Alkhas says. You’ll get a clearer view of your food options and open up space for ingredients needed in the coming week.

#13 Empty the Dishwasher Every Morning

The conquest of a homemade dinner (OK, a “home-prepared” dinner, most days) feels short-lived when you’re left with a mountain of dishes and no place to put them.

Take a couple minutes every morning to empty the dishwasher and you’ll stay ahead of the game.

#14 Conduct a Nightly Tidy-Up

Every night, take a laundry basket on a tour of your house and pick up anything that’s out of place. “You don’t have to put it away now. If you want, plan to do it on Saturday and it won’t take much time at all,” Alkhas says.

If there are more than two people in your household, separate the day’s clutter into assigned baskets for each family member to put away daily or weekly.

With this routine, Alkas adds, “you’ll wake up to a living room that’s decluttered and a kitchen that is tidy, and you can start your day fresh.”

#15 Follow a Clean-Out Schedule for Your Storage Areas

Just because it’s hidden behind a cupboard door doesn’t mean it’s exempt from clutter status.

Establish a schedule, perhaps every month, to rid a specific storage space of its dead weight — like expired food in the pantry, excess gadgets in a kitchen drawer, or the cupboard holding the gazillion ragged dishtowels you’ve had since your tiny college studio apartment. (It’s time to let those go.)

#16 Keep Everyone Involved

When one person leaves a dish in the sink, it paves a slippery slope for others to follow suit.

So have a “The Brady Bunch”-style family meeting to make sure everyone understands their responsibilities and chores for maintaining order in the home. Serve brownies. They’ll show up.

“Visit HouseLogic.com for more articles like this.  Reprinted from HouseLogic.com with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.”

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Homeowners Say Tax Reform Would Hurt Them

Daily Real Estate News | Wednesday, December 13, 2017

A majority of recently surveyed homeowners say that changing homeownership tax incentives would restrict their mobility and cause them financial strain, according to new data from the National Association of REALTORS®’ fourth-quarter Housing Opportunities and Market Experience survey.

Proposed tax bills currently in the House and Senate could “undercut the incentive of owning a home and would have a detrimental effect on many homeowners’ financial situation and future desire to move,” NAR states on a release about the survey’s findings.

The current House and Senate bill weaving its way through Congress differs in content, but includes a call to limit the mortgage interest deduction on new mortgages and eliminate it outright for second mortgages and new home equity lines of credit. The bill also contains potential implications for the capital gains exclusions on the sale of a principal residence and caps on property taxes.

Eighty-five percent of the homeowners surveyed by NAR say they would deduct both mortgage interest and property taxes if they bought a new home. Forty-eight percent of homeowners surveyed say that if changes to the tax code are made they would experience financial strain due to the changes. Also, 30 percent say they would then be reluctant to move.

“Homeownership is an aspirational goal for millions of Americans, but getting there isn’t always easy,” says NAR President Elizabeth Mendenhall. “Middle-class families count on tax incentives like the mortgage interest deduction and the state and local tax deduction to make homeownership a more affordable prospect. REALTORS® will continue to advocate for these and other important provisions as the tax reform debate continues.”

NAR’s full findings from its fourth quarter HOME survey will be released Dec. 18.

“Copyright National Association of REALTORS®. Reprinted with permission.”

 

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11 Easy-Up, Easy-Down Décor Hacks for Stress-Free Holidays

Give or take a Scrooge or two, everybody loves the holidays: Decorating the tree, hanging lights, hanging holly … all those things! But you know what nobody loves? Taking all those things down.

Because, wow, what an unorganized mess.

Before you go all Scrooge, get your jolly back with these simple holiday decorating hacks.

#1 Protect Ornaments With Holiday Recyclables

Small colorful ornaments in a yellow egg cartonImage: Anne Arntson for HouseLogic

Trimming the tree should feel like the happy ending of a Lifetime holiday movie, not a game show guessing which box will contain broken memories.

Keep ornaments safe for next year by stowing them in leftover party cups, hot-glued onto a piece of foam board cut to fit inside a storage bin, recommends Lisa Woodruff, a Cincinnati-based professional organizer.

Or pack ornaments away using bubble wrap from holiday packages, or egg cartons from those countless cookies you made.

All of these options make for shock-absorbent padding that’s more durable than paper towels or tissue paper.

You dream of decking every hall, every year, but when the holidays roll around, you’ve got a brisket to bake and cocktails to clink.

So focus your festive energy on just one iconic focal point — a wreath on the front door or greenery on the mantel — something that easily changes with the seasons.

Or, create a display that makes you feel merry year-round. (Try repurposing storefront letters to spell out “LOVE” or “JOY” — sentiments that never go out of season.)

#3 Create a Decorating Toolbox

Before you can hang a single strand of lights or sprig of mistletoe, you have to find the gosh-darn zip ties, track down the floral wire, and repurpose a few extension cords.

Just thinking about the prep work makes you ready for a long winter’s nap. But this year’s gonna be your prep for next year, and the years to follow.

As you put everything up, keep a running checklist of what you need. Then stock a toolbox that gets replenished every year.

#4 Leave Your Light Hooks and Nails in Place for Next Year

If you like to trim your home’s roof and siding with holiday lights, you know what a hassle it is to find last year’s nail holes while balancing on a ladder with your extremities slowly freezing.

So, this year, use hooks that match your siding (not nails because they fall out easier) or paint them so they are indistinguishable from your siding or trim before you put them up.

Then leave them up when you take down your lights.

Come next year, just rehang your lights and bask in your twinkling success.

#5 Wrap Lights Around Gift Boxes

Holiday lights wrapped around a piece of cardboardImage: Christina Hoffmann for HouseLogic

There’s nothing like a multicolored knot of lights to put a damper on your bright holiday spirit.

So as you take down this year’s lights, wrap them around empty gift boxes or cardboard. Make a small notch on each side to keep the ends snugly in place.

Next year you’ll spend less time untangling your lights and more time basking in them.

#6 Hang Wreaths in the Rafters

Colorful DIY wreaths hanging on a bar in a closetImage: Russell Gregory

All year you look forward to hanging that wreath you got for a steal at an after-Christmas sale.

Rather than tossing it in a trash bag, where it can too easily get seriously mushed or even forgotten, hang it from 4-inch nails hammered into the attic rafters or garage walls, Woodruff recommends.

It will be easy to find, and will be in pristine shape for next year.

#7 Store Your Tree With the Decorations on It

A fake Xmas tree with decorations wrapped in shrink wraImage: Chris Baldwin

No, seriously.

If strategizing the placement of skiing Garfield and his 107 dangly friends is your least favorite part of holiday decorating, skip it after this year.

Ask someone to help you tightly wrap this year’s decorated (artificial) tree — yep, ornaments and all — with heavy-duty stretch plastic wrap (the type that professional movers use, which you can find at home improvement stores).

Next year, just cut the wrap and reshape the branches.

Happy holidays indeed.

#8 Or Give in and Buy a Tree Bag

Every December 26, you begin to dread awkwardly wrestling your artificial tree back into its original packaging.

This year, go ahead and spend the 50 bucks on a tree bag or box, Woodruff says. It will seal out dirt, dust, and bugs, won’t smash the branches, and some styles even allow you to store your tree fully or partially assembled.

Plus, just knowing you can skip the reassembly next time makes for an extra happy New Year.

#9 Trim Those Trimmings

Getting out decorations should be a welcome walk down memory lane — not a guilt trip through items you “should” display but … ugh.

So when you take down this year’s decor, follow the old rule for paring down your wardrobe and get rid of anything you didn’t use — you know, that carol-singing mounted fish from your dad or Nana’s crocheted coaster set — and donate them.

“If it’s a sentimental item, take a picture of it,” Woodruff says.

You won’t waste storage space and, come next year, you’ll be greeted only by items you love and use.

#10 Organize By Room

If you’ve got snowmen in every bathroom and a jingle bell on every drawer, you may end up with mountains of half-empty boxes piled everywhere for longer than you spend enjoying the decor.

Get your halls decked more efficiently by sorting your boxes of trimmings by room, Woodruff suggests.

Then, label each light strand by location — mantel, doorway, tree, etc. Decorating is merrier when you can grab a bin and make an evening of it, one room at a time.

#11 Create a “Must-Have” Bin

A gray Tupperware with a note of holiday supplies enclosedImage: Anne Arntson for HouseLogic

Put all your favorite decorations in one “first-up, last-down” bin.

Next year, you’ll spend more time enjoying your cherished menorah or manger and less time rummaging to find it.

“Visit HouseLogic.com for more articles like this.  Reprinted from HouseLogic.com with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.”

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Pending Home Sales Strengthen 3.5% in October

WASHINGTON (November 29, 2017) — Pending home sales rebounded strongly in October following three straight months of diminishing activity, but still continued their recent slide of falling behind year ago levels, according to the National Association of Realtors®. All major regions except for the West saw an increase in contract signings last month.

The Pending Home Sales Index,* www.nar.realtor/pending-home-sales, a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, rose 3.5 percent to 109.3 in October from a downwardly revised 105.6 in September. The index is now at its highest reading since June (110.0), but is still 0.6 percent below a year ago.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says pending sales in October were primarily driven higher by a big jump in the South, which saw a nice bounce back after hurricane-related disruptions in September. “Last month’s solid increase in contract signings were still not enough to keep activity from declining on an annual basis for the sixth time in seven months,” he said. “Home shoppers had better luck finding a home to buy in October, but slim pickings and consistently fast price gains continue to frustrate and prevent too many would-be buyers from reaching the market.”

According to Yun, the supply and affordability headwinds seen most of the year have not abated this fall. Although homebuilders are doing their best to ramp up production of single-family homes amidst ongoing labor and cost challenges, overall activity still drastically lags demand. Further exacerbating the inventory scarcity is the fact that homeowners are staying in their homes longer. NAR’s 2017 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellersreleased last month – revealed that homeowners typically stayed in their home for 10 years before selling (an all-time survey high). Prior to 2009, sellers consistently lived in their home for a median of six years before selling.

“Existing inventory has decreased every month on an annual basis for 29 consecutive months, and the number of homes for sale at the end of October was the lowest for the month since 19991,” said Yun. “Until new home construction climbs even higher and more investors and homeowners put their home on the market, sales will continue to severely trail underlying demand.”

With two months of data remaining for the year, Yun forecasts for existing-home sales to finish at around 5.52 million, which is an increase of 1.3 percent from 2016 (5.45 million). The national median existing-home price this year is expected to increase around 6 percent. In 2016, existing sales increased 3.8 percent and prices rose 5.1 percent.

The PHSI in the Northeast inched forward 0.5 percent to 95.0 in October, but is still 1.9 percent below a year ago. In the Midwest the index increased 2.8 percent to 105.8 in October, but remains 0.9 percent lower than October 2016.

Pending home sales in the South jumped 7.4 percent to an index of 123.6 in October and are now 2.0 percent higher than last October. The index in the West decreased 0.7 percent in October to 101.6, and is now 4.4 percent below a year ago.

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1.3 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

# # #

1Inventory at the end of October was at 1.80 million existing homes for sale, which was the lowest October reading since NAR began tracking in 1999.

*The Pending Home Sales Index is a leading indicator for the housing sector, based on pending sales of existing homes. A sale is listed as pending when the contract has been signed but the transaction has not closed, though the sale usually is finalized within one or two months of signing.

The index is based on a large national sample, typically representing about 20 percent of transactions for existing-home sales. In developing the model for the index, it was demonstrated that the level of monthly sales-contract activity parallels the level of closed existing-home sales in the following two months.

An index of 100 is equal to the average level of contract activity during 2001, which was the first year to be examined. By coincidence, the volume of existing-home sales in 2001 fell within the range of 5.0 to 5.5 million, which is considered normal for the current U.S. population.

NOTE: NAR’s November Housing Minute video will be released November 30 at 2:00 p.m., Existing-Home Sales for November will be reported December 20, and the next Pending Home Sales Index will be December 27; all release times are 10:00 a.m. ET.

“Copyright National Association of REALTORS®. Reprinted with permission.”

 

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What Home Insurance Doesn’t Cover

Daily Real Estate News |

A home insurance policy won’t cover every thing that could possibly go wrong with a home. The details are all in the fine print within the policy.

“Insurance policies are like snowflakes; no two are exactly the same,” Ashleigh Cloud Trent, an insurance adviser with Swingle Collins and Associates in Dallas, told realtor.com®.

Many standard policies do not include a few things that homeowners may assume they cover. Homeowners may need to investigate supplemental coverage. Here are a few common things that aren’t covered by homeowners insurance:

Home renovations

Homeowners will need to take out a specific renovation policy if they’re doing major work to their home. A renovation policy will cover potential liability issues, such as if someone gets hurt on your property during the remodel. “It’s OK if you’re just doing cosmetic updates; but if you’re taking the roof off, that’s more than a standard homeowners policy is designed to protect,” says Trent.

Earthquakes and floods

Homeowners will need to get earthquake insurance if they want to be protected. Standard homeowner coverage isn’t usually protective from damage in earthquakes, leaving you paying for repairs. Floods aren’t often covered in standard insurance policies either and require supplemental insurance.

Slow water leaks

Damage from “seepage and leakage” can also be denied for coverage. Water damage usually has to be “sudden and accidental” to be covered, Trent says. Trent offers up one example: “A client whose contractor nicked a pipe behind a wall. The pipe was connected to a seldom-used guest bathroom, so nobody noticed the leak. When they rented out the home years later, the tenants called a few months later to report that the floorboards were warping.” The damage was $25,000, and the homeowners insurance wouldn’t pay any of it.

Smell damage

Most policies won’t cover smells that linger around your home and possessions. “We had a client in the process of renovating a home who put all of their belongings in a storage unit that happened to be right next to a restaurant,” says Trent. “When he went to get his things back, all his possessions, including his mattress, permanently smelled like curry.”

Sewer and drain backups

Homeowners may also be stuck with the bill if their sewer backs up into their home. “In a lot of places, when there’s serious rain, the sewers and drains can back up into people’s homes,” says Trent. “Not all policies will cover that.”

View more problems that standard homeowner insurance policies don’t typically cover at realtor.com®.

“Copyright National Association of REALTORS®. Reprinted with permission.”

 

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Study: Your Listing’s Words Carry Weight

Daily Real Estate News |

A new study finds that properties that contain certain words in their listing comments tend to sell for higher prices.

CoreLogic researchers analyzed more than 1 million single-family transactions that closed in the first half of 2017. Every property analyzed had public remarks and comments from which researchers extracted word pairs. Prices can vary geographically on how much weight certain words may have.

But one house feature that stood out was “pane windows,” which could represent dual-pane windows or energy-efficient windows, CoreLogic researchers found. The use of “pane windows” in listing comments tended to equate to higher home prices, researchers found. Other words that tended to carry the most weight are “new construction,” “remodeled kitchen,” and several paint references, whether for the interior or exterior.

The following words were found to have a positive impact on the closing price, according to CoreLogic researchers:

  • Pane windows
  • New construction
  • Remodeled kitchen
  • Single-level
  • Outdoor living
  • Exterior paint
  • Fully fenced
  • RV parking
  • In the kitchen: granite, range, oven
  • Updated kitchen
  • Quiet street
  • Interior paint
  • Light, bright
  • Hardwood floors
  • Award-winning
  • Gas fireplace
  • Natural light
  • Fruit trees
  • New paint
  • Stainless appliances
  • Gas range
  • Front yard
  • Walking distance (note: the appropriateness of this term is up for debate)
  • Fireplace
  • Fully fenced
  • Large backyard
  • Easy access
  • Vaulted ceilings
  • Perfect for entertaining

“Anyone selling a home that has any of the features listed … should make sure to ask their listing agent to include these words and phrases in the public comments,” CoreLogic notes at its Insights blog. “

Source: “Public Listing Comments Can Have an Impact on Closing Price,” CoreLogic Insights Blog (Oct. 13, 2017)

“Copyright National Association of REALTORS®. Reprinted with permission.”

 

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