Articles Tagged "selling your home"

Montague Miller Blog Home

Subscribe and receive email notifications of new blog posts.




rss logo RSS Feed
buying a home | 99 Posts
mortgage | 4 Posts
real estate news | 45 Posts
selling a home | 41 Posts
Uncategorized | 8 Posts
January
20

Developing a plan and setting attainable goals are two of the biggest ingredients in the process of selling a home successfully. By understanding what steps you need to take, when you need to take them, and where you can look for help along the way, you'll put yourself in a great position to sell a home quickly while maximizing your return on investment.

This step-by-step guide to selling a house is designed to prepare you for the process and help you achieve your goals.

From "For Sale" to Sold: A Step-by-Step Guide to Selling Your Next Home

Step One – Find the Right Real Estate Agent

The first step on our list just might be the most important because finding the right real estate agent will make all the steps that follow so much easier to handle. Remember that you definitely don't have to settle for the first agent you meet unless that agent truly shows that they're the right person to sell your home. Ask around for referrals, interview agents, and find the right agent for your unique needs. 

Step Two – Research the Market and Pick a Price

One of the first things that your agent can help you with is understanding your local real estate market, and picking a price that will help get your home sold. Your agent should offer a comparative market analysis (CMA), which will help you understand what other similar homes in your market are selling for, and set a price that attracts competitive offers.

Step Three – Clean, Clear Out Clutter, and Prepare Your Home for Sale

With a great agent on your side and a fair market price chosen for your home, you'll be ready to prepare your home for potential buyers. This is a great opportunity to start the process of moving out: clear clutter, store personal items, and make your home as attractive as possible for buyers. You'll want to clean every inch of your home, from the basement to the master bedroom. Curb appeal is a big deal, too, so make sure that your yard is looking its best.

Step Four – Market Your Home to the Masses

With your home ready for buyers to visit, it's time to start attracting attention and introducing buyers to what you have to offer. Your real estate agent can help you market your home through social media, online listings, and traditional marketing tools. You can also do your part by spreading the word and letting others know that your home is on the market.

Step Five – Prepare for Multiple Offers

By working with an experienced agent, picking the right price, and marketing your home effectively, you'll set yourself up to receive multiple offers on your home. Make sure that you understand exactly what you're looking for from an offer, so you can negotiate the deal that best matches your needs.

Step Six – Negotiate and Close the Deal

All of the work that you do up to this point leads up to the process of negotiating with the buyer and closing the deal. Work closely with your real estate agent to ensure that all of the key legal details are covered and that you're maximizing the value you receive in return for all of the hard work you've done to sell a home.

No matter where you are in the sales process, remember that there's plenty of help available, both from your real estate agent and from other homeowners you trust. Start by following our step-by-step guide, and you'll already be ahead of the game when you decide to sell a home.

January
16

According to data from the National Association of REALTORS®, most home sellers hire the first real estate agent they meet.

Now, that might not necessarily be a bad idea if you happen to meet a great agent right out of the gate, but selling your home is a big move, and it's important to choose your listing agent carefully.

To find the best agent for the job, you need to ask questions — and not just "how much will you get for the property?" and "what will the commission be?" Include these questions during the interview process:

  • What are your credentials?
    A real estate agent should have a state license and belong to the local real estate trade association. You may also find someone who is a licensed REALTOR® (a member of the National Association of REALTORS®), which requires additional training and a strict code of ethics.

  • Do you specialize in my neighborhood?
    Local expertise is crucial. Your agent needs to have in-depth experience in your local real estate market, including inside knowledge about any upcoming developments that might affect the value of your home.

  • How many homes have you sold in the last year?
    Past performance doesn't always ensure a quick sale, but you'll be able to put your mind at ease knowing that your agent has a track record of success. Ask about how much these homes sold for, so you know that your agent has experience selling homes in your price range.

  • How do you determine the listing price?
    The "money talk" is the make-or-break conversation for many home sellers. It's important that your agent can help you land on a listing price that you feel good about but is also appropriate for the market. An underpriced home doesn't give you the profit you deserve, but an overpriced home could end up languishing on the market. Be sure you understand how the agent arrives at a price for your home.

  • What's your sales plan?
    Your agent should have a plan laid out for marketing your home. Mailers, listing services, open houses, and social media are all important.

  • What will it cost me to sell my home?
    From broker's commission to closing fees, there are a number of costs that can really add up when you're selling your home. Find out what it will cost, and compare from one agent to the next.

  • Will I be working with you directly?
    There's a balancing act between working with a specific agent and a team of agents. Either way, you'll want to know for sure whether you'll be working with one specific agent or a member of the agent's team. It's also important to know how you will be communicating with your agent.

  • How long will it take to sell?
    No agent can say exactly how fast any home will sell. The national average is 65 days, but this depends on a variety of factors.

Your goal should be to finds an agent with whom you are confident and comfortable with and who can sell your home quickly and at the right price. 

Reach out to a local Montague Miller & Company real estate professional. Our agents are licensed REALTORS® with expertise and dedication to help guide you through the home selling process.

January
16

Before you engage in any real estate transaction, you need to know as much as you can about the home's value. There are two related but distinct processes that help people pin down the valuation of a property before they move forward: comparative market analysis and home appraisal.

Both of these will be performed at different steps in the sale process. Knowing the difference between the two can save you some valuable time.

  • Comparative Market Analysis (CMA)
    comparative market analysis is typically performed by a real estate agent. Thanks to MLS, real estate pros have the opportunity to compare your home to others that have sold in your general area. Selling prices, time on market, home improvements, and square footage can be used to determine an approximate value of your home.

    When a CMA is completed, it will provide you with a low, medium, and high selling price for your home. It will also give an estimate of the average number of days your home may be on the market.

  • Home Appraisal
    The home appraisal is paid for by potential home buyers — either out of pocket or as part of the fees they will ultimately finance in their mortgage.

    An appraisal of the home is performed after the buyer applies for a loan with a bank or other lender. Once the buyer submits an offer and requests financing, a licensed appraiser is dispatched.

    All practicing home appraisers must be licensed or certified by the state. Although they visit a property at the request of the bank, appraisers are intended to report neutral observations about each home. The comprehensive report they compile helps to determine the home's fair market value.

    This protects the bank from lending too much money for any given home.

    Though an appraisal will include some basic information on the home's condition, more time is spent on recent information about similar listings and housing market conditions in the neighborhood.

    Minor repairs and renovations performed before an appraisal can help raise the home's assessed value.

CMA Versus Home Appraisal: Final Considerations

Both a comparative market analysis and home appraisal provide valuable insights that help you and your real estate agent move toward a successful sale. Assuming a property spends only a moderate amount of time on the market, each usually needs to be completed only once.

Sometimes, however, a lender might request a new appraisal even if the previous appraisal was only a short time ago. You might even get a CMA before you make a final decision about selling your home. Each situation is different.

An experienced real estate agent can help you by ensuring you're equipped with an accurate CMA. Plus, when the time comes to prepare for an appraisal, they can guide you on the most important steps to raise your home's value in your budget and timeline.

As with anything in real estate, the sooner you get started with selling your home, the smoother the process.

Reach out to a trusted Montague Miller & Co real estate professional to help you make your next move.

January
1

 

Last year, one factor drove the real estate market more than any other: rising mortgage rates.

In March 2022, the Federal Reserve began a series of interest rate hikes in an effort to pump the brakes on inflation.1 And while some market sectors have been slow to respond, the housing market has reacted accordingly.

Both demand and price appreciation have tapered, as the primary challenge for homebuyers has shifted from availability to affordability. And although this higher-mortgage rate environment has been a painful adjustment for many buyers and sellers, it should ultimately lead to a more stable and balanced real estate market.

So what can we expect in 2023? Will mortgage rates continue to climb? Could home prices come crashing down? While this is one of the more challenging real estate periods to forecast, here's what several industry experts predict will happen to the U.S. housing market in the coming year.

MORTGAGE RATES WILL FLUCTUATE LESS

In 2022, 30-year fixed mortgage rates surged from roughly 3% in January to around 7%. According to Rick Sharga of real estate data company ATTOM, "We've never seen rates double in so short a period."2

This year, economists forecast a less dramatic shift.

In an interview with Bankrate, Nadia Evangelou, senior economist for the National Association of Realtors, shares her vision of three possible mortgage rate scenarios:3

  1. Inflation continues to surge, forcing the Fed to repeatedly raise interest rates. In that scenario, she predicts that rates could reach as high as 8.5%.
  2. Inflation decelerates and mortgage rates follow suit, averaging 7 to 7.5% for the year.
  3. Rising interest rates trigger a recession, which could ultimately lead mortgage rates to drop closer to 5% by the end of the year.

Realtor.com forecasts something similar to scenario #2 above: "Mortgage rates will average 7.4% in 2023, trickling down to 7.1% by year's end."4 The Mortgage Bankers Association, however, projects something closer to Evangelou's scenario #3, with the 30-year fixed rate declining steadily throughout the year, averaging 6.2% in Q1 and 5.2% by Q4.5

Economists at Fannie Mae fall somewhere in the middle. In a recent press release, they predicted that the U.S. economy will experience a "modest recession" this year.6 But in their December Housing Forecast, they project that 30-year fixed mortgage rates will only fall by half a point from an average of 6.5% in Q1 to 6.0% in Q4.7

"From our perspective, the good news is that demographics remain favorable for housing, so the sector appears well-positioned to help lead the economy out of what we expect will be a brief recession," said Fannie Mae Chief Economist Doug Duncan.6

What does it mean for you?  Even the experts can't say for certain where mortgage rates are headed. Instead of trying to "time the market," focus instead on buying or selling a home when the time is right for you. There are a variety of mortgage options available that can make a home purchase more affordable, including adjustable rates, points, and buydowns—and keep in mind you can always refinance down the road. We'd be happy to refer you to a trusted mortgage professional who can outline your best options.

SALES VOLUME WILL FALL AND INVENTORY WILL RISE

It looks like the home-buying frenzy we experienced in recent years is behind us. While the desire to own a home remains strong, higher mortgage rates have made it unaffordable for a large segment of would-be buyers.

Many economists expect the number of home sales to continue to decline this year, leading to an increase in listing inventory and days-on-market, or the time it takes to sell a home. But, there is a wide range when it comes to specifics.

Economists at Fannie Mae forecast that total home sales will fall by around 20% this year before rising again by nearly 15% in 2024.7 National Association of Realtors Chief Economist Lawrence Yun projects a less extreme dip of 7% in 2023 with a rebound of 10% next year.8

Realtor.com Chief Economist Danielle Hale foresees something in between. "The deceleration in home sales is likely to continue as high home prices and mortgage rates limit the pool of eligible home buyers. We anticipate that existing home sales will decline another 14.1% in 2023." She expects this drop in sales to lead to a nearly 23% increase in inventory levels this year, offering more choices for buyers who have struggled to find a home in the past.9

However, given the severe lack of housing supply, even with a double-digit increase, the market is expected to remain relatively tight and below pre-pandemic levels. Hale points out: "It's important to keep historical context in mind. The level of inventory in 2023 is expected to fall roughly 15% short of the 2019 average."9

What does it mean for you?  If you've been frustrated by a lack of inventory in the past, 2023 may bring new opportunities for you to find the perfect home. And today's buyers have more negotiating power than they've had in years. Contact us to find out about current and future listings that meet your criteria.

If you're hoping to sell, you may want to act fast; rising inventory levels will mean increased competition. We can help you chart the best course to maximize your profits, starting with a professional assessment of your home's current market value. Reach out to schedule a free consultation.

HOME PRICES WILL REMAIN RELATIVELY STABLE

While some economists expect home prices to fall this year, many expect them to remain fairly stable. "For most parts of the country, home prices are holding steady since available inventory is extremely low," said Yun at a November conference.8

Nationally, Yun expects the average median home price to tick up by 1% in 2023, with some markets experiencing greater appreciation and others experiencing declines.8 Economists at Fannie Mae offer a similar projection, forecasting a slight decrease in their Home Price Index of about 1.5%, year-over-year.7

Other experts foresee a larger fluctuation. Hale expects U.S. home prices to rise by 5.4% this year, while Morgan Stanley is forecasting a 7% drop from the peak in June 2022.9,10

Still, many economists agree that a housing market crash like the one we experienced in 2008 is highly unlikely. The factors that caused home prices to plunge during the Great Recession—specifically lax lending standards and a surplus of inventory—aren't prevalent in our current market.10 Therefore, home values are expected to remain comparatively stable.

What does it mean for you?  It can feel scary to buy a home when there's uncertainty in the market. However, real estate is a long-term investment that has been shown to appreciate over time. And keep in mind that the best bargains are often found in a slower market, like the one we're experiencing right now. Contact us to discuss your goals and budget. We can help you make an informed decision about the right time to buy.

And if you're planning to sell this year, you'll want to chart your path carefully to maximize your profits. Contact us for recommendations and to find out what your home could sell for in today's market.

RENT PRICES WILL CONTINUE TO CLIMB

 Affordability challenges for would-be buyers, inflationary pressures, and an overall lack of housing could continue to drive "above-average" rent price increases in much of the country.11 The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas expects year-over-year rental price growth to tick up to 8.4% in May before moderating later in the year.12

According to Hale, "U.S. renters will continue to face challenges from limited supply and excess demand in the coming year that will keep upward pressure on rent growth. At a national level, we forecast rent growth of 6.3% in the next 12 months, somewhat ahead of home price growth and historical rent trends."9

However, there are signs that the surge in rent prices could be tapering. According to Jay Parsons, head of economics for rental housing software company RealPage, there's some evidence of a slowdown in demand. He predicts that market-rate rents will rise just 3.3% this year. Still, analysts agree that a return to lower pre-pandemic rental prices is unlikely.10

What does it mean for you?  Rent prices are expected to keep climbing. But you can lock in a set mortgage payment and build long-term wealth by putting that money toward a home purchase instead. Reach out for a free consultation to discuss your options.

And if you've ever thought about purchasing a rental property, now may be a perfect time. Call today to get your investment property search started.

WE'RE HERE TO GUIDE YOU

While national real estate forecasts can provide a "big picture" outlook, real estate is local. And as local market experts, we can guide you through the ins and outs of our market and the issues most likely to impact sales and drive home values in your particular neighborhood.

If you're considering buying or selling a home in 2023, contact us now to schedule a free consultation. We'll work with you to develop an action plan to meet your real estate goals this year.

The above references an opinion and is for informational purposes only.  It is not intended to be financial, legal, or tax advice. Consult the appropriate professionals for advice regarding your individual needs.

Sources:

  1. Forbes -
    https://www.forbes.com/advisor/investing/fed-funds-rate-history/
  2. Bankrate -
    https://www.bankrate.com/mortgages/will-mortgage-rates-go-up-in-december-2022/
  3. Bankrate -
    https://www.bankrate.com/real-estate/housing-market-predictions-2023/
  4. com -
    https://www.realtor.com/news/trends/2023-the-year-of-the-homebuyer-our-bold-predictions-on-home-prices-mortgage-rates-and-more/
  5. Mortgage Bankers Association -
    https://www.mba.org/docs/default-source/research-and-forecasts/forecasts/mortgage-finance-forecast-dec-2022.pdf?sfvrsn=b584bf7_1
  6. Fannie Mae -
    https://www.fanniemae.com/newsroom/fannie-mae-news/economy-still-expected-enter-and-exit-modest-recession-2023
  7. Fannie Mae -
    https://www.fanniemae.com/media/45801/display
  8. National Association of Realtors -
    https://www.nar.realtor/newsroom/nars-lawrence-yun-predicts-us-home-prices-wont-experience-major-decline-could-possibly-rise-slightly
  9. com -
    https://www.realtor.com/research/2023-national-housing-forecast/
  10. The New York Times -
    https://www.nytimes.com/2022/11/04/realestate/housing-market-interest-rates.html
  11. CNBC -
    https://www.cnbc.com/2022/09/28/how-much-higher-rent-will-go-in-2023-according-to-experts.html
  12. Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas -
    https://www.dallasfed.org/research/economics/2022/0816

 

December
27


 

From summer vacations to winter holidays, it seems each season offers the perfect excuse to put off our to-do list. But be careful, homeowners: neglecting your home's maintenance could put your personal safety—and one of your largest financial investments—at serious risk.

In no time at all, small problems can lead to extensive and expensive repairs. And even if you avoid a catastrophe, those minor issues can still have a big impact. Properties that are not well maintained can lose 10 percent (or more) of their appraised value.1The good news is, by dedicating a few hours each season to properly maintaining your home, you can ensure a safe living environment for you and your family ... and actually increase the value of your home by one percent annually!1 You just need to know where and how to spend your time.

Use the following checklist as a guide to maintaining your home and lawn throughout the year. It's applicable for all climates, so please share it with friends and family members who you think could benefit, no matter where their home is located.

Winter

While it can be tempting to ignore home maintenance issues in the winter, snow and freezing temperatures can do major damage if left untreated. Follow these steps to ensure your house survives the winter months. 

Inside

  • Maintain Heating System
    Check and change filters on your heating system, per the manufacturer's instructions. If you have a boiler, monitor the water level.
  • Tune Up Generator
    If you own a portable generator, follow the manufacturer's instructions for proper maintenance. Make sure it's working before you need it, and stock up on supplies like fuel, oil and filters.
  • Prevent Frozen Pipes
    Make sure pipes are well insulated, and keep your heat set to a minimum of 55 degrees when you're away. If pipes are prone to freezing, leave faucets dripping slightly overnight or when away from home. You may also want to open cabinet doors beneath sinks to let in heat.

Outside

  • Drain and Shut Off Outdoor Faucets
    Before the first freeze, drain and shut off outdoor faucets. Place an insulated cover over exposed faucets, and store hoses for the winter.
  • Remove Window Screens
    Removing screens from your windows allows more light in to brighten and warm your home during the dark, cold winter months. Snow can also get trapped between screens and windows, causing damage to window frames and sills.
  • Service Snowblower
    Don't wait until the first snowstorm of the season to make sure your snowblower is in good working order. Check the manufacturer's instructions for maintenance or have it serviced by a professional.
  • Stock Up on Ice Melt
    Keep plenty of ice melt, or rock salt, on hand in preparation for winter weather. Look for brands that will keep kids and pets safe without doing damage to your walkway or yard.
  • Watch Out for Ice Dams
    Ice dams are thick ridges of solid ice that can build up along the eaves of your house. They can do major damage to gutters, shingles and siding. Heated cables installed prior to the first winter storm can help.14
  • Check for Snow Buildup on Trees
    Snow can cause tree limbs to break, which can be especially dangerous if they are near your home. Use a broom to periodically remove excess snow.15

 Spring

After a long, cold winter, many of us look forward to a fresh start in the spring. Wash away the winter grime, open the windows, and prepare your home for warmer weather and backyard barbecues.

Inside

  • Conduct Annual Spring Cleaning
    Be sure to tackle those areas that may have gone neglected—such as your blinds, baseboards and fan blades—as well as appliances, including your refrigerator, dishwasher, oven and range hood. Clear out clutter and clothes you no longer wear, and toss old and expired food and medications.
  • Shut Down Heating System
    Depending on the type of heating system you have, you may need to shut your system down when not in use. Check the manufacturer's instructions for proper procedures.
  • Tune Up A/C
    If your home has central air conditioning, schedule an annual tune-up with your HVAC technician. If you have a portable or window unit, be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions for proper maintenance.2
  • Check Plumbing
    It's a good idea to periodically check your plumbing to spot any leaks or maintenance issues. Look for evidence of leaks—such as water stains on the ceiling—and check for dripping faucets or running toilets that need to be addressed. Inspect your hot water heater for sediment build up. Check your sump pump (if you have one) to ensure it's working properly.3
  • Inspect Smoke Alarm and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
    Check that your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are functioning properly. Batteries should be replaced every six months, so change them now and again in the fall. Follow the manufacturer's instructions to test your individual devices. And even properly functioning devices should be replaced at least every 10 years, or per the manufacturer's recommendation.4

Outside

  • Inspect Perimeter of Home
    Walk around your house and look for any signs of damage or wear and tear that should be addressed. Are there cracks in the foundation? Peeling paint? Loose or missing roof shingles? Make a plan to make needed repairs yourself or hire a contractor.
  • Clean Home's Exterior
    Wash windows and clean and replace screens if they were removed during the winter months. For the home's facade, it's generally advisable to use the gentlest method that is effective. A simple garden hose will work in most cases.5
  • Clean Gutters and Downspouts
    Gutters and downspouts should be cleaned at least twice a year. Neglected gutters can cause water damage to a home, so make sure yours are clean and free of debris. If your gutters have screens, you may be able to decrease the frequency of cleanings, but they should still be checked periodically.6
  • Rake Leaves
    Gently rake your lawn to remove leaves and debris. Too many leaves can cause an excessive layer of thatch, which can damage the roots of your lawn. They can also harbor disease-causing organisms and insects.7 However, take care because overly vigorous raking can damage new grass shoots.

  • Seed or Sod Lawn
    If you have bare spots, spring is a good time to seed or lay new sod so you can enjoy a beautiful lawn throughout the remainder of the year. The peak summer heat can be too harsh for a new lawn. If you miss this window, early fall is another good time to plant.8
     
  • Apply a Pre-Emergent Herbicide
    While a healthy lawn is the best deterrent for weeds, some homeowners choose to use a pre-emergent herbicide in the spring to minimize weeds. When applied at the right time, it can be effective in preventing weeds from germinating. However, a pre-emergent herbicide will also prevent grass seeds from germinating, so only use it if you don't plan to seed or sod in the spring.
  • Plant Flowers
    After a long winter, planting annuals and spring perennials is a great way to brighten up your garden. It's also a good time to prune existing flowers and shrubs and remove and compost any dead plants.

  • Mulch Beds
    A layer of fresh mulch helps to suppress weeds, retain moisture and moderate soil temperature. However, be sure to strip away old mulch at least every three years to prevent excessive buildup.9

  • Fertilize Lawn
    Depending on your grass type, an application of fertilizer in the spring may help promote new leaf and root growth, keep your lawn healthy, and reduce weeds.10
  • Tune Up Lawn Mower
    Send your lawn mower out for a professional tune-up and to have the blades sharpened before the mowing season starts.11

  • Inspect Sprinkler System
    If you have a sprinkler system, check that it's working properly and make repairs as needed.
  • Check the Deck
    If you have a deck or patio, inspect it for signs of damage or deterioration that may have occurred over the winter. Then clean it thoroughly and apply a fresh coat of stain if needed.
  • Prepare Pool
    If you own a pool, warmer weather signals the start of pool season. Be sure to follow best practices for your particular pool to ensure proper maintenance and safety.

Summer

Summer is generally the time to relax and enjoy your home, but a little time devoted to maintenance will help ensure it looks great and runs efficiently throughout the season.

Inside

  • Adjust Ceiling Fans
    Make sure they are set to run counter-clockwise in the summer to push air down and create a cooling breeze. Utilizing fans instead of your air conditioner, when possible, will help minimize your utility bills.  
  • Clean A/C Filters
    Be sure to clean or replace your filters monthly, particularly if you're running your air conditioner often. 
  • Clear Dryer Vent
    Help cut down on summer utility bills by cleaning your laundry dryer vent at least once a year. Not only will it help cut down on drying times, a neglected dryer poses a serious fire hazard.
  • Check Weather Stripping
    If you're running your air conditioner in the summer, you'll want to keep the cold air inside and hot air outside. Check weather stripping around doors and windows to ensure a good seal.

Outside

  • Mow Lawn Regularly
    Your lawn will probably need regular mowing in the summer. Adjust your mower height to the highest setting, as taller grass helps shade the soil to prevent drought and weeds.
  • Water Early in the Morning
    Ensure your lawn and garden get plenty of water during the hot summer months. Experts generally recommend watering in the early morning to minimize evaporation, but be mindful of any watering restrictions in your area, which may limit the time and/or days you are allowed to water.
  • Weed Weekly
    To prevent weeds from taking over your garden and ruining your home's valuable curb appeal, make a habit of pulling weeds at least once per week.
  • Exterminate Pests
    Remove any standing water and piles of leaves and debris. Inspect your lawn and perimeter of your home for signs of an invasion. If necessary, call a professional exterminator for assistance.

Fall

Fall ushers in another busy season of home maintenance as you prepare your home for the winter weather ahead.

Inside

  • Have Heater Serviced
    To ensure safety and efficiency, it's a good idea to have your heating system serviced and inspected before you run it for the first time.
  • Shut Down A/C for the Winter
    If you have central air conditioning, you can have it serviced at the same time as your furnace. If you have a portable or window unit, ensure it's properly sealed or remove it and store it for the winter.
     
  • Inspect Chimney
    Fire safety experts recommend that you have your chimney inspected annually and cleaned periodically. Complete this task before you start using your fireplace or furnace.
  • Seal Windows and Doors
    Check windows and doors for drafts and caulk or add weatherstripping where necessary.
  • Check Smoke Alarm and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
    If you checked your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in the spring, they are due for another inspection. Batteries should be replaced every six months, so it's time to replace them again. Follow the manufacturer's instructions to test your individual devices. And even properly functioning devices should be replaced at least every 10 years, or per the manufacturer's recommendation.3

Outside

  • Plant Fall Flowers, Grass and Shrubs
    Fall is a great time to plant perennials, trees, shrubs, cool-season vegetables and bulbs that will bloom in the spring.12 It's also a good time to reseed or sod your lawn.
  • Rake or Mow Leaves
    Once the leaves start falling, it's time to pull out your rake. A thick layer of leaves left on your grass can lead to an unhealthy lawn. Or, rather than raking, use a mulching mower to create a natural fertilizer for your lawn.
  • Apply Fall Fertilizer
    If you choose not to use a mulching mower, a fall fertilizer is usually recommended. For best results, aerate your lawn before applying the fertilizer.13
  • Inspect Gutters and Roof
    Inspect your gutters and downspouts and make needed repairs. Check the roof for any broken or loose tiles. Remove fallen leaves and debris.
  • Shut Down Sprinkler System
    If you have a sprinkler system, drain any remaining water and shut it down to prevent damage from freezing temperatures over the winter.
  • Close Pool
    If you have a pool, it's time to clean and close it up before the winter.

    While this checklist should not be considered a complete list of your home's maintenance needs, it can serve as a general seasonal guide. Systems, structures and fixtures will need to be repaired and replaced from time-to-time, as well. The good news is, the investment you make in maintaining your home now will pay off dividends over time.

    Keep a record of all your maintenance, repairs and upgrades for future reference, along with receipts. Not only will it help jog your memory, it can make a big impact on buyers when it comes time to sell your home … and potentially result in a higher selling price.

    Are you looking for help with home maintenance or repairs? We have an extensive network of trusted contractors and service providers and are happy to provide referrals! Call or email us, and we can connect you with one of our preferred vendors.

    Sources:

    1. HouseLogic.com –
      https://www.houselogic.com/organize-maintain/home-maintenance-tips/value-home-maintenance/
    2. Home Advisor –
      https://www.homeadvisor.com/r/servicing-your-air-conditioner/
    3. Keyes & Sons Plumbing and Heating –
      http://keyes-plumbing.com/things-to-check-in-spring/
    4. Allstate Insurance Blog –
      https://blog.allstate.com/test-smoke-detectors/
    5. Houzz –
      https://www.houzz.com/ideabooks/17268616/list/how-to-wash-your-house
    6. Angie's List –
      https://www.angieslist.com/articles/why-gutter-cleaning-so-important.htm
    7. Angie's List –
      https://www.angieslist.com/articles/what-thatch-and-how-does-it-impact-my-lawn.htm
    8. HGTV –
      http://www.hgtv.com/design/outdoor-design/landscaping-and-hardscaping/lawns/top-spring-lawn-care-tips-pictures
    9. This Old House –
      https://www.thisoldhouse.com/more/may-mulching
    10. Lowes –
      https://www.lowes.com/projects/lawn-and-garden/fertilize-your-lawn/project
    11. The New York Times –
      https://www.nytimes.com/guides/realestate/home-maintenance-checklist
    12. Better Homes and Gardens Magazine –
      https://www.bhg.com/gardening/yard/garden-care/what-to-plant-in-the-fall/
    13. The Spruce –
      https://www.thespruce.com/late-fall-fertilizing-2152976
    14. This Old House –
      https://www.thisoldhouse.com/how-to/how-to-get-rid-ice-dams
    15. Houzz –
      https://www.houzz.com/ideabooks/55572864/list/your-winter-home-maintenance-checklist

     

    November
    6

    Over the past few years, a real estate buying frenzy bid up home prices to eye-popping amounts. However, as mortgage rates have risen, buyer demand has cooled. 1 Consequently, home sellers who enter the market today may need to reset their expectations.

    The reality is, it's no longer enough to stick a "for sale" sign in the yard and wait for buyers to bang down the door. If you want to net the most money possible for your property in today's market, you'll need an effective game plan and a skilled team of professionals to implement it.

    Fortunately, we've developed a listing strategy that combines our proven approach to preparation, pricing, and promotion—all designed to help you get top dollar for your home. But you will play an important role in the selling process, as well.

    Here are some crucial steps you can take to set yourself up for success as a home seller in this market: 

    1. Make Strategic Repairs and Improvements

    When you sell something, it's important to consider what your customer wants to buy. And according to the National Association of Realtors, only 6% of today's buyers report that they are looking for a DIY fixer-upper.2 The vast majority want a move-in-ready home, which means that any outstanding repairs or dated features can be a major turn-off.

    Before your home goes on the market, we'll conduct a thorough walk-through to identify any problems that could prevent it from selling. In some cases, we may recommend a professional pre-listing inspection. Finding and addressing issues like leaks, rot, and foundation problems up front can pay off in the final sale price. Plus, it prevents sales from falling through because of a red flag on the home inspection, a scenario no seller wants to face.

    Beyond repairs, we'll also help you identify the simple upgrades that offer the highest return on your investment. For example, new paint can give your home a fresh look at a reasonable cost. However, it's important to choose the right colors. One study found that painting your bathroom light blue could lead to a 1.6% increase in the offer price!3 Similarly, minor landscaping improvements can pay off in a major way. A healthy lawn offers an estimated 256% return on investment.4\

    2. Declutter and Depersonalize

    When buyers look at a home for sale, they're trying to envision themselves living there. That's hard to do if it's chock-full of the current owner's family photos, children's artwork, and souvenir collections. Plus, cluttered homes look smaller, and older items can make them feel dated.

    Decluttering before you put your home up for sale will help you in the long run—after all, you'll need to move all your things to your new home eventually. Now is the time to shred, digitize, or organize old documents, donate old clothes, or move bulky furniture into storage. At a minimum, you'll want to pack away excess items neatly before potential buyers view the home. Remove personal photos and other trinkets to create a blank slate that viewers can imagine decorating with their own prized possessions.

    If you feel overwhelmed by this process, we'd be happy to make recommendations or refer you to a local service provider who can help. 

    3. Stage Your Home for Success

     Just as you take care to dress professionally for a job interview, you should always ensure your home looks its best for potential buyers. Home shoppers today are used to scrolling through Instagram and Pinterest, and they want to see the same wow factor when touring a home.

    The process of making your home look its best and appeal to potential buyers is called staging, and it can be a game changer. According to the International Association of Home Staging Professionals, an average priced staged home sells 5 to 11 times faster than its unstaged counterpart. Even better, the majority of staged homes sell for 4% to 20% over list price!5

    Some sellers hire a professional stager, who may bring in furniture and decor to increase the home's appeal. Others choose to stage their homes themselves. We can help advise you on which route to choose and how much to invest in the process.

    It's also important to consider what buyers in your neighborhood are likely to be looking for in a home. We can help guide your staging choices with our local market insights. For example, in neighborhoods where a large share of residents work from home, it may be effective to stage one room as an office space so potential buyers can envision their day-to-day routine.

    4. Prep for Each Showing

    Most of us don't live picture-perfect lives, and our homes reflect that (sometimes messy) reality. But when your home is on the market, it's important to ensure that it is always ready for viewers, even on short notice. A missed showing is a missed opportunity to sell your home!

    Before your home hits the market, it may be worth hiring professional cleaners to get in all the nooks and crannies. After, try your best to keep things spic and span. Just a few minutes a day wiping down counters, sweeping the floors, and vacuuming can make a big difference.

    It's also worth noting that most buyers will open cabinets, drawers, and closets—so try to make sure everything is as neat and organized as possible. Keep toiletries and small appliances off countertops, and secure valuables and sensitive documents in a safe or off-site.

    Want help finding a cleaning service to make your home shine for buyers? Reach out for a referral!

    5. Price Your Home Correctly From the Start

    In the past few years, you may have seen homes in your neighborhood sell for shocking amounts and wondered if you could get a similar price for your property. The temptation to list your home on the high side can be strong, but it's best to be realistic from the start. Even in a hot market, some homes will sit for months. And the longer a property is listed, the more buyers worry that something is wrong with it.6

    Of course, you also don't want to set your price too low and lose out on potential profit. That's why it's essential to work with real estate agents (like us!) who know the ins and outs of our local market and what buyers are willing to pay today. In a quickly-evolving market, comparable sales from a few months ago can lag the current market reality.

    Fortunately, if you've owned your home for several years, chances are good that it's worth much more today than you paid for it. That means you stand to walk away with a handsome profit. In fact, recent reports show that homeowner equity is at an all-time high.7

    6. Avoid Acting on Emotion

    The past few years of over-asking-price offers with few contingencies have set certain expectations for many sellers. It's only natural to feel hurt or even offended if an offer comes in lower than what you think your home is worth.

    However, it's important to keep in mind that those market conditions were unprecedented, and we are now returning to a more typical market. Home sellers who act rationally, rather than emotionally, are going to get the best results.

    Remember: You can always counter a low offer. The same goes for repair requests and contingencies—everything is negotiable. However, it's important to accept that the market is adjusting and flexibility is key. Keep your expectations reasonable, and remain open-minded. And you can rest assured knowing that we'll be by your side every step of the way to help you navigate the process and negotiate a great deal.

    7. Work With a Local Market Expert

    The economics impacting mortgage rates may be national, but real estate markets are hyperlocal. That's why working with a professional agent who understands your neighborhood's dynamics is essential. Through our experience, we've gathered insights that can help us position your home for success in this market. Plus, we have the resources to connect with qualified buyers searching for a home like yours.

    Working with a knowledgeable agent is also the secret to getting as much money as possible for your home. We have access to extensive data on recent sales in your neighborhood, which we will use to price and promote your property. That's one reason why homes sold by agents draw much higher prices than those sold by their owners alone. While for-sale-by-owner homes went for a median price of $260,000 in 2020, the median for homes sold by agents was $318,000.8 That's a difference of $58,000—and money you don't want to leave on the table.

    YOUR AGENT AND ADVOCATE

    Selling a home in a fast-changing market can be stressful. You're likely to hear conflicting advice and opinions from people in your life, and decisions like what color to paint your front door or how much to list your home for can be overwhelming.

     That's where we come in. The market may be adjusting, but it's still highly advantageous for sellers—and we're here to help you make the most of it. We're listing experts in our area, and we know what steps you need to take for a smooth, profitable transaction.

     If you're considering buying or selling a home, we invite you to reach out to schedule a free consultation. We're happy to talk through your specific situation and goals and help you identify your next steps.

    The above references an opinion and is for informational purposes only.  It is not intended to be financial, legal, or tax advice. Consult the appropriate professionals for advice regarding your individual needs.

    Sources:

    1. Yahoo! Finance - https://finance.yahoo.com/news/bidding-war-rate-drops-lowest-120000537.html
    1. National Association of Realtors - https://cdn.nar.realtor/sites/default/files/documents/2022-home-buyers-and-sellers-generational-trends-03-23-2022.pdf
    1. Zillow - https://www.zillowgroup.com/news/paint-colors-that-could-lead-to-higher-offers/
    1. Angi - https://www.angi.com/articles/smart-landscaping-tips-can-increase-home-value.htm
    1. International Association of Home Staging Professionals - https://pages.iahsp.com/home-staging-statistics/
    1. Washington Post -https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2019/07/22/just-because-its-sellers-market-doesnt-mean-you-should-overprice-your-home/
    1. com - https://www.realtor.com/research/changes-in-value-of-household-real-estate-q2-2022/
    2. National Association of Realtors - https://www.nar.realtor/research-and-statistics/research-reports/highlights-from-the-profile-of-home-buyers-and-sellers#purchased

     

     

    October
    17

    It took a lot of dedicated effort to get your home on the market. It would be nice if you could just sit back and wait for the offers to roll in. Unfortunately, it's not that easy.

    Once your home is on the market, your real estate agent will work hard to complete the sale, but you'll have to do your part to keep things moving forward. Here are five things you can do to help keep your marketing efforts on track.

    1. Never say no to a showing
      When you're too tired to handle a last-minute showing, do it anyway. Home showings are a crucial part of the home-selling process. While they don't guarantee a sale, they do bring potential buyers to your door. When a home buyer decides to view your home it means that your listing made it through their initial process of elimination.

      Of course, no one can predict the outcome of a showing. The right buyer might walk in the door as soon as you list your property, or your sale could require multiple showings. Opening your house on demand is the best way to find out.

    2. Keep your home white-glove clean
      When you open up your home for a showing, potential buyers inspect and evaluate areas of your home you might not even think about. They will notice dirty tile grout and remember dusty dining room corners, and these things could cost you a sale.

      It's a good idea to pay a service to do your initial cleaning as well as regularly scheduled cleanings while your home is on the market. If you enjoy doing your own cleaning, you'll still have plenty to do. You'll need to give your home a once-over before each showing or open house, and you'll want to clean up afterward.

    3. Stay pet-odor vigilant
      If you have a cat, dog, or other indoor pet your realtor probably discussed odor issues early in your marketing process. You likely worked hard to rid your home of telltale odors before you had your first showing. That's great, but if your pets are still in your home, odors will be a recurring problem.

      If you've lived with pet odors for years, your nose might be insensitive to smells that are obvious to everyone else. It's important to stay vigilant.

      • Clean pet living areas regularly.
      • Use a quality pet deodorizer spray.
      • Clean up pet hair daily.
      • Remove pets, litter boxes, bowls, etc. from the premises during a showing.
      • Burn a scented candle before a showing to disguise odors.

    4. Keep working on your curb appeal
      If you worked hard to give your home a look that brings buyers to your door, don't forget to keep it fresh. Getting the right curb appeal is worth the time and effort. If your home is on the market for more than a few months, you'll need to refresh the look.

      • Hire a landscaper to maintain your yard.
      • Keep your gutters clean.
      • Wash dirt and mud from walkway, driveways, and porches.
      • Check for new problems or issues you might not have noticed before.

    5. Create a pleasant atmosphere
      When potential buyers visit your home, give them an atmosphere that says, "welcome home." Remove throw rugs and other trip hazards. Open bedroom and bathroom doors. Brighten rooms with natural and artificial light by turning on lamps and opening up curtains, drapes, and blinds.

      Adjust your climate control system to a pleasant temperature. Burn a lightly scented candle just before a scheduled showing, but don't forget to blow it out before you leave.

    Your work isn't done until the sale is finalized. With these tips, you can ensure everything goes right with your home sale.

    October
    16

    When you're selling your home, first impressions are everything. Typically, each home buyer is looking for something different in the house they buy. However, there are common problems that will make them walk — and, maybe, even run — out of your home if they see them. The good news is there are several things you can do to make buyers fall in love with your home.

    1. Boost Your Curb Appeal
      Start with your yard. You won't believe the difference mowing your lawn, trimming hedges, picking up toys, adding fresh mulch, and raking leaves make. Best of all, improving the visual appearance of your yard doesn't cost you much. Just remember, once you're committed to selling your home, you'll need to stay on top of lawn work until the property has sold and is no longer your responsibility.

      If you have a plain yard, you should consider adding one or two flower beds or planting an ornamental tree to spruce things up.

    2. Tweak the Interior
      Take a look at the interior of your home. Is the paint chipped, streaked, or just tired looking? Do the fixtures and door handles match? Are the outlet covers and light switches working properly?

      The odds are good that when you look at the interior of your home through the eyes of a prospective buyer, you'll realize that things are a bit dated. Now that you're selling your home, it's time to change that. A quick run to the hardware store for updated door fixtures, outlet covers, and paint won't cost too much. With a weekend's worth of work, you'll have given the inside of your home a facelift and made it more appealing to buyers.

      When choosing fixtures and, more importantly, paint, stick to neutral options.

    3. Upgrade the Kitchen
      Buyers have said that the kitchen was what made them decide to place an offer on a home.

      If you're on a shoestring budget, you'll want to devote your funds to:

      - Ensuring the plumbing works perfectly,
      - Repairing and/or replacing damaged cabinet doors,
      - Making sure the kitchen is well lit,
      - Repainting,
      - Relining the shelves/drawers,
      - Refinishing hardwood floors,
      - Cleaning grout and re-grouting any damaged/crumbling grout.

      If you have more money to devote to upgrading the kitchen, consider:

      - Replacing older countertops with new granite countertops,
      - Upgrading to energy-efficient appliances.

    4. Ceilings
      If your home was built prior to the 1980s and has a popcorn-finished ceiling will want to have it tested for asbestos. If the test is positive, you'll want to replace the ceiling before speaking to a real estate agent. Now that buyers understand the potential health risks connected to asbestos, they won't consider a home with the material.

      Even if the test comes back negative, you should still consider having the ceilings replaced. Not only does the popcorn finish give the house a dated feel, but it's also extremely difficult to keep clean or paint, which serves as a turn-off for any prospective buyers.

    5. Remove the Clutter
      It's difficult for prospective buyers to fully appreciate the full potential of your home if it's full of clutter, so after deciding to sell your home, put any items you can temporarily live without into storage.

    With these tactics and fixes, there's no doubt buyers will fall in love with your home. Ask your trusted Montague Miller real estate agent for more tips on how to get the most out of your sale.

    October
    16

    If you're planning to sell your home, consider staging it. From decluttering and cleaning to rearranging and styling, successful home staging can make you money. In fact, according to the National Association of REALTORS®, most sellers' agents agree a well-staged home increases the dollar amount home buyers offer.

    If you are an HGTV fan, you know home staging is when the "pros" go through a home clearing out the clutter, highlighting its strengths, and presenting each room in the best light that will attract the largest group of potential home buyers.  

    But, do you need to hire a professional stager? Maybe not. Use these six tips to manage the styling and upgrading of your home to fetch a higher sales price.

    1. Ban the Clutter
      Nothing turns away prospective buyers quite as quickly as clutter. For some buyers, clutter makes it impossible for them to see the home because all they can see is the mess. For others, clutter makes them feel as if the home does not have enough space for their own needs because it does not have enough room for yours. Clear away the clutter, so the home's spacious design shows through.

    2. Spruce up the Front Door
      When selling your home, the front door of your home is the first thing most people notice, so make sure it really shines. Give it a fresh coat of paint, add some outside, potted plants, and a new rug. If the front door is inviting and welcoming, the home will sell faster and for a better price.

    3. Place Furniture Strategically
      The placement of your furniture can add to or detract from your home. In the main living areas, put the furniture into conversation groupings rather than pushing it up against the wall. Then, in other rooms, make sure the furniture accentuates the home's positive features while drawing the eye away from negative ones. Remove some furniture, if needed, to help the room look as large as possible.

    4. Spruce up a Neglected Bedroom
      Do you have a guestroom or a master bedroom that you've neglected over the years? Take some time to spruce it up. Transform the guest room into a kid's bedroom (even if you don't have kids) to make the home appealing to families who do. Make sure the bed is the focal point of your master bedroom space. Aim for symmetry where clutter rules. With these tips, your home will be much more appealing.

    5. Add Lighting
      Most homes do not have the right amount of lighting for proper home staging techniques. Even if your home has plenty of natural light, you want to ensure that you have 100 watts of lighting for every 50 square feet of living space. Adding lighting on multiple levels of the room, including overhead lights and table lamps, will make the space feel warmer and inviting.

    6. Clean and Organize the Kitchen, Inside and Out
      The kitchen will make or break your home's ability to shine, so spend a significant amount of time here as you stage the property. Make sure you clean it well and pack away all clutter so the countertops can be clear. Then, clean out each cupboard and pantry to make it look like it has plenty of storage space. Remember, potential buyers will be looking inside these spaces. Finally, update any outdated appliances and cover any ugly cabinets with a fresh coat of paint. Don't forget to invest in a new sink faucet if an upgrade is needed.

    In a competitive market or in a situation where you need to sell your home quickly, staging is the key. Keep these tips in mind, and don't be afraid to talk to a professional stager. Often, the cost of professional staging is made back with a higher sales price and less time on the market!

    September
    30

    Selling your home upon retirement is a question millions of people grapple with. While it might seem logical to scale down when you retire, is it really the best option? 

    There's no "one size fits all" solution for selling your home. Most people will find there are pros and cons to the choice they have to weigh before making a decision.

    • Pro: Selling Can Give You Retirement Income
      If you've worked hard to build equity in your house, selling it could be exactly the step you need to take to ensure a comfortable retirement. Plus, if you've been living in the home consistently in recent years, you may be eligible to shield much of the sale's proceeds from taxation. This can be the solution for retirees who find themselves without enough savings.

    • Pros: Selling Means Fewer Recurring Costs
      No matter how well-maintained your home is, there'll always be costs involved in keeping it running. Your HVAC system, plumbing, electrical wiring, and much more can all fail without much warning. By selling, you avoid all these inevitable challenges of home ownership. Plus, you may find that you can reduce the overall costs of your utilities.

    • Pros: Selling May Mean More Accessible Accommodations
      With age, many people face security and safety concerns they did not have in their youth. One of the most serious ones is the risk of a serious slip and fall, particularly when your home has many stairs. The cost of remodeling a home to make it more comfortable in retirement may be greater than what you are willing to invest in your retirement income.

    • Pros: Selling May Mean More Flexibility in Retirement
      Your desires in retirement might be very different from what you wanted from your home years or decades ago. You might want to move closer to relatives, for example, get into a community more in keeping with your needs, or even move to another country. In all these situations and more, maintaining your home can make it harder for you to focus on the present.

    • Cons: Renting May Not Be Worth It
      One of the biggest questions about selling is whether it makes financial sense. While your home might be appreciating in value, the cost of rent in your community is probably rising as well. If you know where you want to live after selling, take a close look at the nearby housing and the financial resources it will take for you to live comfortably there.

    • Cons: Sentimental Value Matters
      By the time they reach retirement, many people have spent decades in one home. There's simply no way to put a price on the sentimental value such a property can offer. It may make more sense to keep the home in the family if you consider it an important part of your legacy. This may be a matter to bring up with adult children or others with a close connection to the place.

    • Cons: It May Not Be the Right Time for Selling Your Home
      If your home is appreciating in value — or a minor improvement could substantially raise its sale price — it may be worth it to wait a little longer before making your move. In a "seller's market," a delay of just three months can make a big difference in what you can expect from your sale. If conditions are ideal, it may make sense to wait six months or even another year.

    Ultimately, selling your home is a deeply personal decision. It's best made with input from a real estate agent you can rely on. Reach out to a Montague Miller & Company real estate professional to help you make your next move.

    September
    30

    Selling your home soon? As you look at your finances and list your home, it's probably tempting to focus on your potential earnings. However, every real estate transaction comes with closing costs for the buyer and the seller.

    You probably already know you're responsible for the agents' commissions, but what about the rest of your closing costs?

    Before selling your home, make sure you understand all the closing costs you'll be expected to cover. Here are some common costs that may surprise you:  

    1. Pro-Rated Property Taxes
      You're responsible for all property taxes up to the date of the sale. That means if you're selling in July, you need to pay your property tax for the first seven months of the year — not wait until next year to file. Make sure you're aware of the final number because you must provide this to the buyers. This is required because buyers will get a bill next year for the whole year, including the months you still owned the home.

    2. Transfer Taxes and Fees
      Real estate transactions are essentially title transfers from one owner to another. Before your sale is complete, you must pay state and county or city fees in order to process this transfer. You may also need to pay transfer taxes. While most sellers are aware that it costs money to transfer a title, many are surprised by the final percentage, which can fluctuate wildly depending on your location. Make sure you're aware of the local requirement beforehand.

    3. Title Insurance
      If you think buyers are always responsible for buying a title insurance policy, think again. Many states now require sellers to cover the new homeowner's title insurance policy. This coverage is designed to protect the mortgage lender from any future claims, and they won't approve the transaction without it. Find out now if you will be responsible for the buyer's title insurance coverage.

    4. Home Preparations
      Staging a home for market success is about more than just cleaning thoroughly and rearranging the furniture. Your real estate agent will know which services are the most valuable, especially to sellers who want to ask for more money or sell more quickly. For example, renting a storage unit will make it much easier to clear out a third of your clutter and personal possessions, leaving a more neutral and walkable space for potential buyers. Carpet cleaning, painting, lawn care, and professional photography services are also important investments for serious sellers.

    Of course, your final closing costs before selling your home will depend on a lot of different factors. From zip code and loan terms to the buyers' willingness to negotiate, these factors will help you figure out just how much to set aside for closing. Understand your responsibilities and prepare yourself for every possible expense.

    September
    7

    If you have a dark, unfinished basement that is primarily used for storage or laundry, you might be wondering if it's worth the time and investment to enhance the space prior to selling. After all, basements are versatile and can serve many different functions, all of which make them an attractive feature for buyers.

    While finishing your basement prior to selling can serve as a significant value-add, recovering your entire investment can be challenging. Therefore, it's often not recommended to invest heavily in a new basement, unless you plan on using it yourself for a few years before selling. However, there are many affordable upgrades and enhancements you can do to make the space more appealing:

    • Enhance Your Lighting
      You'd be surprised how much of a difference good lighting can make in a basement. Basements are often thought of as dark and gloomy, but good lighting can really help reshape a buyer's perception. Switch to brighter LED lights. If you don't have enough lighting fixtures, invest in some standing lamps or table lamps. If your basement does receive any natural light, make sure nothing is blocking the window.

    • Add A Home Office
      If your basement is already finished, staging a home office can make a significant difference. With so many people working from home, a home office is a necessity these days. You can easily find an inexpensive desk and chair and add in a bookshelf or some filing cabinets. A home office is a great way to demonstrate the versatility of the space.

    • Partition The Room
      It can be hard to make the basement appealing when it's home to a water heater, washer, dryer, furnace, and other household appliances. If this is the case, you can attempt to divide the appliances from the remaining space with standing partitions or screens. Room dividers are very affordable and can make a big difference.

    • Add Vinyl Flooring
      If you're looking for an easy and affordable way to cover up the concrete, consider adding some vinyl flooring. Vinyl is becoming a popular option for basement flooring — it not only looks great, but it's also easy to install.

    • Keep It Dry
      The single most important thing a seller can do is keep the basement dry. Signs of water or dampness can be a major red flag for buyers, as it can signal more serious issues with the foundation. It might be worth investing in a professional to ensure the space is waterproof.

    Sellers shouldn't feel like a full basement makeover is necessary, but keep in mind a little work can go a long way. At the end of the day, you don't want people to dread going down into the basement. Instead, make it a place that is inviting and accessible. Your Montague Miller & Co real estate professional can guide you on how to proceed.

    September
    7

    Home improvement is the key to enhancing your home's value and increasing its ever-elusive curb appeal.

    Of course, you probably already know that, but what you might not know is that upgrading your property doesn't have to be exp ensive or time-consuming. The right DIY home improvement projects improve your home, add value, and bring buyers to your door.

    1. Improve Your Landscaping
      Why hire a professional landscaper? You can save money by trimming, mulching, planting, and decorating your own home into a garden showplace. With one trip to your local garden shop or hardware store, you can get everything you need to give your landscape the wow factor home buyers love.

      • Design your dream landscape, and then bring it to life.
      • Seed your lawn. Cut back overgrown bushes so buyers can see your home.
      • Add seasonal color with potted and hanging flowers.
      • Enhance your landscape with solar lights and pavers that save energy.

    2. Beautify Your Bathroom
      You spend an awful lot of time in the bathroom. It should be a beautiful sanctuary that increases your home's value, not a shabby refuge. Change your perceptions and add value with these DIY home improvement projects.

      • Install trendy light fixtures.
      • Replace your sink with a designer vanity and a marble bowl.
      • Install a copper or chrome faucet and metal-coordinated accessories.
      • Eliminate unfortunate color choices with white wall paint.

    3. Welcome Light into Your Home
      If you have large windows that allow natural light into your home, lucky you. If you don't have large windows, try these light-enhancing projects.

      • Install brighter light fixtures.
      • Paint your walls white and replace your drapes with neutral-colored blinds.
      • Remove some furniture to open up your space.

    4. Up Your Energy Efficiency
      Green technologies save money, increase home values, and reduce your carbon footprint. When a potential buyer queries your utility company about your average energy bill, they'll like what they hear. You can perform several green upgrades yourself.

      • Replace light bulbs with energy-efficient versions.
      • Replace your stove, refrigerator, and small kitchen appliances with models rated high for energy savings.
      • Install solar-powered exterior lights.
      • Repair window seals to minimize hot/cold air exchange.

    5. Modernize Your Kitchen
      Home buyers love grand spacious kitchens. Even if your kitchen isn't as big as a buyer desires, you can complete these DIY projects to make it irresistibly grand.

      • Redo your kitchen floor with trendy wood-look, gray, wide-plank, or natural wood tiles.
      • Upgrade your stove, refrigerator, and dishwasher with popular stainless steel or black steel models.
      • Install a farmhouse sink and faucet for a country modern workspace.
      • Replace your countertops with granite. You'll need someone to measure and cut the openings and a buddy to help you lift them into place.|

    6. Make Your Home Intelligent
      Guys like gadgets. Okay, ladies like gadgets too. With a little time and effort, you can make your home gadget central. Internet-connected and digitally enhanced appliances and devices give your home an intriguing, high-tech feel.

      • Install a Wi-Fi-connected refrigerator.
      • Replace your stove with an intelligent version that lets you control cooking remotely.
      • Upgrade your home security system with cameras that let you watch your home and interact with visitors wherever you are.
      • Connect your coffeemaker to your alarm clock to brew your coffee when you wake up.

    With these fixes, buyers will be more inclined to be flocking to your property and making top offers. And remember, it's not always the costly changes that give the best ROI, so consult your Montague Miller & Company real estate agent about which home improvement changes will be better suited for your home.

    August
    30

    Selling your home can be an exciting adventure full of surprises and pitfalls. Taking the time to properly stage it can make selling your home less of a chore and allow you to get the best price possible. Follow these five tips from the pros to help you prepare your home and set the stage for a successful sale.

    1. Start Outside
      The first impression a buyer has of your home can make or break a sale. To make the buyer eager to step inside your home and see more, make sure the outside of your home looks fabulous. It doesn't cost a lot to cut the grass, pull weeds, prune the hedges and plant some flowers. Put away all bikes, toys, and trash cans. If you can, pull your cars out of the driveway, so there's a clear view of your home and property. A freshly painted door and prominent house number can also make your home more appealing.

    2. Clean and Get Rid of Clutter
      The most important thing you can do when getting ready to sell your home is to get rid of clutter. Removing your stuff and making your home less personal makes it easier for buyers to imagine themselves living in your space.

      Take a good look at each room and ask yourself what you really need to keep. Remove personal items like family photos, knickknacks, awards, and collectibles from tables, windowsills, shelves, and other surfaces. In the kitchen, put away towels, refrigerator magnets, sponges, paper towels, and dish soap, and remove small appliances from counters. It's also a good idea to remove pet beds, toys, and bowls.

      In the bathroom, remove all toiletries, hairdryers, and trash cans, open the shower curtain, and close the toilet lid. Keep closets and cabinets tidy throughout the house. Messy, packed-full closets are unappealing and will make the buyer think they are smaller than they are.

      Too much furniture can also contribute to a cluttered look. Professional stagers often remove half the owner's furnishings and put them in storage. Consider boxing up things like books and pictures and putting them in storage as well.

      Once you have removed the clutter, give your home a deep cleaning. Hiring a cleaning crew to come once every two weeks while selling your home will keep it looking fresh and cut down on stress. If you're doing the cleaning, don't forget windows, behind the toilet, grout, and under sinks. Move furniture and vacuum behind and under it.

    3. Make Repairs
      Repair squeaky doors, hinges, broken fixtures, and fittings. Replacing light fixtures, light switches, outlets, and door & cabinet hardware is an affordable way to give your home a more modern look. If you don't have time to refinish, inexpensive area rugs can also disguise the look of old hardwood floors.

    4. Keep it Neutral
      Use a fresh, neutral paint color like beige or taupe for living spaces and neutral green or blue hues for bathrooms. Stay away from bold wall colors, which are often a turnoff to buyers. If you want to make a room pop, add colorful accents with pillows and simple vases of flowers. Keep wall art and paintings neutral and simple.

    5. Accentuate Architecture
      Arrange furnishings to highlight ceilings, windows, views, fireplaces, and other architectural features. Put tall objects such as large bookshelves against walls, and hang art a bit lower to make ceilings look higher. Experiment with different ways to arrange your furniture; create cozy seating areas instead of lining couches and chairs along the walls. Open up blinds and draperies to make sure there's sufficient natural light throughout your home.

    Staging doesn't have to be scary. After these fixes, you'll be excited to show people how great your property really is.

    Reach out to your local Montague Miller & Company real estate professional to help guide you with your home's specific needs.

    August
    15

    Remember the first time you laid eyes on your home? Your jaw dropped at the beautiful front yard. You were amazed at how all those windows sparkled as you walked up to the door. After you moved in, you thanked your lucky stars for sending you your dream home. You loved your house when you first bought it and knew you would live there forever. Wait a minute... Forever? That's an awfully long time to live at the same address. Here's what to do when you think you've fallen out of love with your home. 

    There are different reasons people fall out of love with their dream homes. The good news is more often than not, it's possible to identify the issue and fall back in love with your home all over again.

    Before selling your home, you need to answer a few questions:

    • Have you really given your house a chance?
    • Would you fall back in love with your house if you invested a little into some home improvement projects?
    • Is the house the problem, or are you secretly dissatisfied with your life and laying the blame on your home?

    If you've only been in your house for a few months, it's likely that you haven't actually fallen out of love with the place but are simply suffering from either a case of buyer's remorse or feelings of being unsettled. In this situation, the best thing to do is give things some more time. The chances are good that you'll relax and fall in love with your home all over again. If you discover that your emotional detachment from your house stems from it needing work or remodeling, you need to come to a few decisions. You can choose to invest the time and money into making the improvements your happiness relies on, or speak to a real estate agent about selling your home. It's important to note that sometimes finding your dream home means making improvements.

    If you decide that it's not your house but rather something else triggering your sense of dissatisfaction, look around the community. You may find that it holds the secret to helping you feel fulfilled. The odds are that there are volunteering opportunities and clubs near your home to help you fill up your life and feel happier.

    If you absolutely can't stand the idea of spending any more time in your house, then it's time to talk to a real estate agent about selling your house. When shopping for a new house, remember the issues that caused you to fall out of love with your house and avoid those pitfalls with your next purchase.

    When you decide that selling your home is the best solution, always make sure you deal with a real estate agent you trust to get you the best price for the home. Call on one of our Montague Miller & Co real estate professionals to help you with your next move.

    August
    1

    The process of buying a new home can be both exhilarating and exhausting. But the journey doesn't stop when you close on your property. On the contrary, you still have quite a bit to do before you can begin the process of settling into your new place.

    Fortunately, you don't have to do everything in a day. You don't have to do it all alone, either. When you work with us to sell or purchase a home, you'll have an ally by your side long after your transaction has closed. We'll continue to be a resource, offering advice and referrals whenever you need them on packing, hiring movers and contractors, and acclimating to your new home and neighborhood.

    When it comes to a life event as stressful as moving, it pays to have a professional by your side. Here are some of our favorite pro tips to share with clients as they prepare for an upcoming move.

    1. Watch out for moving scams.

    Maybe you receive a flyer for a moving company in the mail. Perhaps you find a mover online. Either way, never assume that you're getting accurate information. According to the Better Business Bureau, moving-related fraud is on the rise. In 2021 alone, individuals and families reported more than $730,000 lost to moving scams, an increase of 216% over the previous year.1

    How can you tell if a moving deal is too good to be true? Trust your instincts. If the price appears too low or you can't pin down the mover's physical business address, try someone else. The same goes for any moving company representative who dodges questions. Reputable movers should offer transparent pricing, conduct in-home estimates, and provide referrals and copies of their insurance documents upon request.2 For help finding trustworthy movers, reach out. We'd be happy to share our recommendations. 

    1. Insure your belongings.

    Your moving company promises to take care of your custom piano or your antique furniture. But don't just take their word for it. Ask to see how much insurance they carry and talk about how the claims process works. That way, you'll know what is (and isn't) covered in case of loss or damage.

    Of course, some items are priceless because they're irreplaceable. You might want to move your more sensitive valuables (jewelry, documents, family heirlooms, etc.) in your own vehicle just to be safe. For added peace of mind, call your rental or home insurance provider if you're moving anything yourself. You might already be protected or be able to purchase extra insurance to cover your move. If those options are unavailable, you could opt for moving insurance from a third-party carrier.3

    1. Start packing when you start looking for a new home.

     As soon as your house hunting begins in earnest, think about packing away things you won't need for the next few months. These could include seasonal or holiday decor, clothing, and books. Tackling just one or two boxes a day will give you a head start.

    If you're going to put your current home on the market, you'll want to declutter anyway. Decluttering will make your home seem larger, and depersonalizing helps buyers envision their own items in the space. Consider selling, donating, or throwing out possessions you no longer need. The things you want to keep can be placed in storage until you officially start moving to a new place.

    1. Pack to make unpacking easier.

    Have you ever opened a packed box only to find that it's filled with an assortment of items that don't belong together? This isn't efficient and will only make unpacking harder. A better way to pack is to bundle items from a single room in a labeled box. Labels can let movers know (and remind you) where to place each box, whether it's fragile, and which side needs to be up. Some people like to assign colors to each room in their new home to make distributing color-coded boxes a breeze.

    Feel free to unleash your inner organizer with this project. For example, you could create a spreadsheet and assign each box a number. As boxes are packed, simply fill in the spreadsheet with a list of contents. Anyone with access to the spreadsheet can log in and quickly find the desired item.

    1. Think outside the box when transporting clothes.

    Who wants to worry about boxing up clothes? If you plan on hiring professional movers, ask if you can leave clothing in your dressers. In many cases, they will use plastic to wrap the dresser so the drawers don't fall out during transport. If keeping your clothes in your furniture makes it too heavy, the movers might be able to wrap and move drawers by themselves.

    Another easy transport trick involves turning clean garbage bags into garment bags. Poke a hole in the bottom of a garbage bag, turn the bag upside down, slide it over five to seven garments on hangers, and lay the items flat in the back seat or trunk of your vehicle. The bags will help prevent wrinkling, and your clothes will be ready to hang up when you get to your new home.

    1. Document prior to disassembling appliances and furnishings.

    Few things are as confusing as looking at a plastic baggie filled with nuts, bolts, and screws from your disassembled dining room table or sorting through a box of electrical wires and cords to see which ones fit your TV.

    The best workaround to easier reassembly is to document the disassembly process. Take photos and videos or thorough notes as you go. Whether it's your headboard or treadmill, be very precise. And just a tip: Construct your beds first when you get to your new home. After a long moving day, the very last thing you want is to be assembling beds into the wee hours of the morning.

    1. Prioritize unpacking kids' rooms.

    Children can become very stressed by a big move. To ease their transition, consider prioritizing unpacking their rooms as their "safe zones."4 You aren't obligated to unpack everything, certainly. However, set up your children's rooms to be functional. That way, your kids can hang out in a private oasis away from the chaos while you're running around and moving everything else.

    Depending upon how old your youngsters are, you might want to give them decorating leeway, too. Even if it's just letting them choose where furniture goes, it gives them a sense of buy-in. This can help ease the blues of leaving a former home they loved.

    1. Be a thoughtful pet parent.

    Many types of pets can't handle the commotion of moving day. Knowing this, be considerate and seek ways to give your pets breaks from the action. You might ask a friend to pet sit your pooch or keep your kitty in a quieter room, like a guest bathroom.

    Be sure to check in on your pet frequently. Pets like to know that you're around. Give them treats, food, and water throughout the day. When it's time to transport your pet, do it calmly. At your new property, give your pet access to just a room or two at first. Pets typically prefer to acclimate themselves slowly to unfamiliar environments.5

    1. Plan for your move like you're planning for an exciting vacation.

    When you plan vacations, you probably look up local restaurants, shops, and recreational areas. Who says you can't do the same thing when moving? Create a list of all the places you want to go and things you want to do around your newly purchased home. Having a to-explore list keeps everyone's spirits high and gives you starting points to settle into the neighborhood.

    And don't feel that you have to cook that first night. Once the moving trucks are gone, you can always pop over to a local eatery or order DoorDash for major convenience. The first meal in your new home should be a happy, welcoming treat. And if you're relocating to our neck of the woods, we would love to introduce you to all the hot spots in town and recommend our local favorites. 

    1. Pack an "Open Me First!" box.

    You won't be able to unpack all your boxes in one day, but you shouldn't go without your sheets, pillows, or toothbrush. Designate some boxes with "Open Me First!" labels. (Pro tip: Keep a tool kit front and center for all that reassembling.)

    Along these lines, use luggage and duffel bags to transport everyone's personal must-have items and enough clothing for a couple of days. That way, you won't have to rummage through everything in the middle of your move looking for sneakers or snacks.

    When packing your "Open Me First!" boxes, think about which items you'll need in those first 24 hours. For example, toilet paper and hand soap are musts. A box cutter will make unpacking a lot easier, and paper towels and trash bags are sure to come in handy. Reach out for a complete, printable list of "Open Me First!" box essentials to keep on hand for your next move!

    LET'S GET MOVING

    Getting the phone call from your real estate agent that your bid was accepted is a thrilling moment. Make sure you keep the positivity flowing during the following weeks by mapping out a streamlined, efficient move. Feel free to get in touch with us today to help make your big move your best move.

    Sources:

    1. Better Business Bureau - https://www.bbb.org/article/scams/24198-bbb-scam-alert-avoid-moving-scams-this-national-moving-mont
    2. org -
      https://www.move.org/how-to-tell-moving-company-scam/
    3. Forbes -
      https://www.forbes.com/advisor/homeowners-insurance/moving-insurance/
    4. New York Times -
      https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/13/parenting/moving-tips-kids.html
    5. ASPCA -
      https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/general-pet-care/moving-your-pet
    July
    6

    Getting ready for a home inspection is one of the more nerve-wracking things about selling your home. The good news is that you don't have to wait until after the inspection to fix some of the most common trouble spots.

    There are certain spots in a home that every inspector will check. Focusing on these issues now is the best way to maximize your budget and your chance of a favorable inspection result.

    1. Address Electrical Issues
      Electrical systems are always an area of focus during home inspections as old or damaged wiring can present a significant safety hazard. You can take care of some of the simple stuff like replacing broken switch plates and making sure that all light bulbs are working. It's also a good idea to contact a trusted electrician for a full review of your electrical systems. Better to find and fix it now rather than learn about a problem on inspection day.


    2. Freshen Your Fireplace
      A fireplace can be a major attraction to homebuyers as long as it's clean, safe, and well-maintained. Staying on top of fireplace maintenance is always a good idea because an inspector will check it thoroughly. In addition to cleaning up, make sure your fireplace meets all relevant safety codes.


    3. Eliminate Mold and Mildew
      Mold and mildew in a home are enough to scare off most buyers before things even reach the stage of inspection. Scour bathrooms, basements, kitchens, and anywhere else mold might develop. You can find specially formulated cleaning products to deal with mold at most hardware stores. If you have a serious mold problem, it's worth calling in the pros to get the job done thoroughly.


    4. Fix Roof and Basement Leaks
      If you do have mold or mildew issues in your home, there's a good chance that leaks play a part. Roof and basement leaks are among the most common ways for water to enter the home and often cause significant damage before being detected. Have a professional contractor repair any leaks. It's an absolute must if you're preparing for inspection.


    5. Check Your Plumbing
      Leaks don't just come from the outside of the home and faulty plumbing is sure to draw the attention of any home inspector. Taking care of any leaks is the first priority, but it's also a good idea to make sure that your water systems are functioning at their best. Check that the water pressure is high and your water heater works properly.

    Investing the time and resources to repair these problems now will save a lot of stress in the long run and will likely save you some money at closing time. Better yet, a positive inspection result puts you one step closer to turning your dreams of a home sale into a reality.

     

    July
    6

    Moving doesn't have to be a stressful experience.

    You're moving! Let's face it; whether you're moving across the street or across the country, it can be one of life's more stressful events. Before you surround yourself with cardboard boxes and packing tape, use these tips to find and hire a reliable moving company in your area.

    1. Stay Local
      Use someone in your local community. Ask your real estate agent, family, or friends who they trust for moving projects. They will point you in the right direction.

      The majority of moving scams are found online so stay local by searching businesses in your hometown. You can search online but remember, by staying local, it is easier to verify that they are a legitimate business.


    2. Read Reviews
      In the moving industry, reputation is everything. You're going to tell everyone how great the movers were and that word of mouth is what keeps their business going.

      Further, check out the reviews posted for several moving companies that you are researching. In doing so, you will help ensure that you get a great company for a good value.


    3. Visit the BBB
      Visit the Better Business Bureau and check for any complaints or reports against the moving company. Look for customer complaints and business reports, and even check their Department of Transportation license. Simply ask your moving company for their DOT Number.

      You can then search the database to investigate their record. Make sure the company is insured. Check their insurance number. Visit the moving companies beforehand to see what their operations are like.


    4. Get Estimates
      Get at least three estimates from three different companies that have passed your initial screening tests. Try to ask for a not-to-exceed binding estimate. This means a cap will be placed on the maximum amount they can charge you for the move.

      When the moving company comes to your home, show them your belongings. Further, let them see your home's layout and what challenges they may face with stairs or other obstacles in moving items out of your home. Estimates should be free and always conducted in person. Phone estimates are bad.


    5. Check the Paperwork
      Just like selling your home comes with paperwork, so should a good moving company provide you with several documents. They should give you a bill of lading, which is a legal document that serves as a receipt of the shipment of goods.

      Further, an inventory list should include all of the items they are moving for you. The most important document is the estimate itself which should be a written binding estimate which is dated and signed by the moving company.

    You Are Ready to Move

    You have checked potential companies thoroughly and should feel good about your choice. You have done your homework. Now choose the best one. A smooth transition awaits.

    July
    5

    No matter what's going on in the housing market, the process of selling a home can be challenging. Some sellers have a hard time saying goodbye to a treasured family residence. Others want to skip ahead to the fun of decorating and settling into a new place. Almost all sellers want to make the most money possible.

    Whatever your circumstances, the road to the closing table can be riddled with obstacles — from issues with showings and negotiations to inspection surprises. But many of these complications are avoidable when you have a skilled and knowledgeable real estate agent by your side.

    For example, here are seven common mistakes that many home sellers make. These can cause anxiety, cost you time, and shrink your financial proceeds. Fortunately, we can help you avert these missteps and set you up for a successful and low-stress selling experience.

    MISTAKE #1: Setting an Unrealistic Price

    Many sellers believe that pricing their homes high and waiting for the "right buyers" to come along will net them the most money. However, overpriced homes often sit on the market with little activity, which can be the kiss of death in real estate — and result in an inevitable price drop.1

    Alternatively, if you price your home at (or sometimes slightly below) market value, it can be among the nicest that buyers see within their budgets. This can increase your likelihood of receiving multiple offers.2

    To help you set a realistic price from the start, we will do a comparative market analysis, or CMA. This integral piece of research will help us determine an ideal listing price based on the amount that similar properties have recently sold for in your area.

    Without this data, you risk pricing your home too high (and getting no offers) or too low (and leaving money on the table). We can help you find that sweet spot that will draw in buyers without undercutting your profits. 

    MISTAKE #2: Trying to Time the Market

    You've probably heard the old saying, "Buy low and sell high." But when it comes to real estate, that's easier said than done.

    Delaying your home sale until prices have hit their peak may sound like a great idea. But sellers should keep these factors in mind:

    1. Predicting the market with certainty is nearly impossible.
    2. If you wait to buy your next home, its price could increase as well. This may erode any additional proceeds from your sale.
    3. If mortgage rates are rising, your pool of potential buyers could shrink — and you would have to pay more to finance your next purchase.

    Instead of trying to time the market, choose your ideal sales timeline. This may be based on factors like your personal financial situation, shifting family dynamics, or the seasonal patterns in your neighborhood. We can help you figure out the best time to sell given your individual circumstances.

    MISTAKE #3: Failing to Address Needed Repairs

    Many sellers hope that buyers won't notice their leaky faucet or broken shutters during home showings. But minor issues like these can leave buyers worrying about more serious — and costly — problems lurking out of sight.

    Even if you do receive an offer, there's a high likelihood that the buyer will hire a professional home inspector, who will flag any defects in their report. Neglecting to address a major issue could lead buyers to ask for costly repairs, money back, or worse yet, walk away from the purchase altogether.

    To avoid these types of disruptions, it's important to make necessary renovations before your home hits the market. We can help you decide which repairs and updates are worth your time and investment. In some cases, we may recommend a professional pre-listing inspection.

    This extra time and attention can help you avoid potential surprises down the road and identify any major structural, system, or cosmetic faults that could impact a future sale.3  

    MISTAKE #4:  Neglecting to Stage Your Home

    Staging is the act of preparing your home for potential buyers. The goal is to "set the stage" to help buyers envision themselves living in your home. Some sellers opt to skip this step, but that mistake can cost them time and money in the long run. A 2021 survey by the Real Estate Staging Association found that, on average, staged homes sold nine days faster and for $40,000 over list price.4

    Indoors, staging could include everything from redecorating, painting, or rearranging your furniture pieces to removing personal items, decluttering, and deep cleaning. Outdoors, you might focus on power washing, planting flowers, or hanging a wreath on the front door.

    You may not need to do all these tasks, but almost every home can benefit from some form of staging. Before your home hits the market, we can refer you to a professional stager or offer our insights and suggestions if you prefer the do-it-yourself route.

    MISTAKE #5: Evaluating Offers on Price Alone

    When reviewing offers, most sellers focus on one thing: the offer price. While dollar value is certainly important, a high-priced offer is worthless if the deal never reaches the closing table. That's why it's important to consider other factors in addition to the offer price, such as:

    • Financing and buyer qualifications
    • Deposit size
    • Contract contingencies
    • Closing date
    • Leaseback options

    Depending on your circumstances, some of these factors may or may not be important to you. For example, if you're still shopping for your next home, you might place a high premium on an offer that allows for a flexible closing date or leaseback option.

    Buyers and their agents are focused on crafting deals that work well for them. We can help you assess your needs and goals to select an offer that works best for you.

    MISTAKE #6: Acting on Emotion Instead of Reason

    It's only natural to grow emotionally attached to your home. That's why so many sellers end up feeling hurt or offended at some point during the selling process. Low offers can feel like insults. Repair requests can feel like judgments. And whatever you do — don't listen in on showings through your security monitoring system. Chances are, some buyers won't like your decor choices, either!

    However, it's a huge mistake to ruin a great selling opportunity because you refuse to counter a low offer or negotiate minor repairs. Instead, try to keep a cool head and be willing to adjust reasonably to make the sale. We can help you weigh your decisions and provide rational advice with your best interests in mind.

    MISTAKE #7: Not Hiring an Agent

    There's a good reason 90% of homeowners choose to sell with the help of a real estate agent. Homes listed by agents sold for 22% more than the average for-sale-by-owner home, according to a recent study by the National Association of Realtors.5

     Selling a home on your own may seem like an easy way to save money. But in reality, there is a steep learning curve. And a listing agent can:

    • Skip past time-consuming problems
    • Use market knowledge to get the best price
    • Access contacts and networks to speed up the selling process

     If you choose to work with a listing agent, you'll save significant time and effort while minimizing your personal risk and liability. And the increased profits realized through a more effective marketing and negotiation strategy could more than make up for the cost of your agent's commission.

    We can navigate the ins and outs of the housing market for you and make your selling process as stress-free as possible. You may even end up with an offer for your home that's better than you expected.

    BYPASS THE PITFALLS WITH A KNOWLEDGEABLE GUIDE

    Your home selling journey doesn't have to be hard. When you hire us as your listing agent, we'll develop a customized sales plan to help you get top dollar for your home without any undue risk, stress, or aggravation. If you're thinking of buying or selling a home, reach out to a Montague Miller real estate professional today to schedule a free consultation and home value assessment.

    Sources:

    1. The Washington Post -
      https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2019/07/22/just-because-its-sellers-market-doesnt-mean-you-should-overprice-your-home/
    2. com -
      https://www.realtor.com/advice/sell/spark-a-bidding-war-for-your-home/
    3. American Society of Home Inspectors - https://www.homeinspector.org/Newsroom/Articles/Before-You-Sell-6-Reasons-to-Get-a-Pre-Listing-Inspection/15766/Article
    4. Real Estate Staging Association -
      https://www.realestatestagingassociation.com/content.aspx?page_id=22&club_id=304550&module_id=164548
    5. National Association of Realtors -
      https://www.nar.realtor/research-and-statistics/quick-real-estate-statistics

     

    June
    24

    Once you've decided to sell your home, there is one question that looms large, hanging over your head like a heavy weight. What am I going to do with all this stuff? The question is especially relevant if you will be downsizing into a smaller house.

    If you have lived in your current home for an extended period of time, the problem may be just that much worse. The accumulation of life's stuff is easy to put out of sight and out of mind during the day-to-day bustle. But when it is time to start packing and getting a home ready to sell, it can be like an avalanche bursting forth from every corner.

    What's the best way to start downsizing your life and do it efficiently? It may sound easy — keep the stuff you need and purge the stuff you don't — but if you aren't careful how you do it, you can create more problems for yourself than just having too much junk.

    Have a Plan to Ease the Pain

    • Start with the big stuff. If you are selling your three-bedroom home to move into a two-bedroom home, there's no need to move that extra bedroom furniture. It's just not needed. Take that approach with the rest of your home as well. Consider the space you are moving into and what you will need to fill it.

    • Be cautious. It can be easy to get on a "get rid of it" kick when it comes to smaller items, but be careful. Some things you know you will never need again, sell or donate. For other things that you are on the fence about, separate boxes into "must keep" and "maybe keep" boxes. That way, you can adjust as needed if your new home has the space to accommodate more of your things.

      It also helps to think about your belongings like this: If they were all wiped away by a fire, what would I replace and in what order would I replace them. It can be counter-productive to aggressively downsize, only to find that you need to re-buy things when you get in to your new home.

    • Go through those boxes again. Do you have boxes of keepsakes or mementos that you just couldn't live without but have never been unpacked from your previous home? Go through those boxes again, separating what's truly needed from what will never be missed.

    • Some space hogs can be effectively downsized without disappearing from your life. Take this opportunity to digitize old photos, CDs, DVDs or even VHS tapes. Uploading them to the cloud keeps them accessible while reducing the amount of stuff you have to move.

    • One year rule. When selling your home and downsizing, it helps to follow one simple rule: If you haven't used it in the last year, get rid of it.

    Take your new uncluttered attitude with you into your new home. Recognize clutter culprits in your old home and take pains to reduce what can build up in your new one. The easiest stuff to get rid of is the stuff you never accumulate.

    June
    1

     

    The last two years caught many of us off guard—and not just because of the pandemic. They also ushered in the hottest housing market on record, with home prices rising nationally by nearly 19% in 2021, driven primarily by low mortgage rates and a major supply shortage.1

     But while some had hoped 2022 would bring a return to normalcy, the U.S. real estate market continues to boom, despite rising interest rates and decreasing affordability.

     So what's driving this persistent demand? And is there an end in sight?

    Here are three factors impacting the real estate market right now. Find out how they could affect you if you're a current homeowner or plan to buy or sell a home this year.

     MORTGAGE RATES ARE RISING FASTER THAN EXPECTED

     Over the past couple of years, homebuyers have faced intense competition for new homes—in part due to historically low mortgage rates that were a result of the Federal Reserve's efforts to keep the economy afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic.

     However, in response to a concerning level of inflation, the Fed is now reversing those efforts by raising the federal funds rate. And as a result, mortgage rates are rising, as well. Few experts predicted, though, that mortgage rates would go up as quickly as they have.

     In January 2022, the Mortgage Bankers Association projected that rates would reach 4% by the end of this year.2 By mid-April, however, the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate had already hit 5%, up from around 3% just one year prior.3 On a $400,000 mortgage, that 2% difference could translate into an additional $461 per monthly payment.

     Since then, mortgage rates have continued on an upward trend. So what impact are these rising rates having on demand? While many buyers had hoped for a cooling effect, experts warn that may not be the case.

     Ali Wolf, chief economist at housing market research firm Zanda, told Fortune magazine, "Rising mortgage rates are having a counterintuitive effect on the housing market. Home shoppers are actually sprung into action in an attempt to buy a home before mortgage rates rise any higher."4

     Since inventory remains low, the resulting "race" has kept the homebuying market highly competitive–at least for now.

     What does it mean for you?

     While current 30-year fixed mortgage rates represent an increase over previous months, they remain well below the historical average of 8%.5 As inflation across the economy continues, the Fed is likely to raise rates further this year. Buyers should act fast to secure a good mortgage rate. We'd be happy to refer you to a lender who can help.

     For sellers, speed is also of the essence. The pool of potential buyers may shrink as mortgages become more expensive. And if you plan to finance your next home, you'll want to act quickly to secure a favorable rate for yourself. Contact us today to discuss your options.

     HOME PRICES KEEP CLIMBING

     History shows that higher interest rates don't necessarily translate to lower home prices. In fact, home prices rose 5% between 1980 and 1982, a period of significantly higher mortgage rates and inflation.5

     Forecasters expect that home prices will continue to go up throughout 2022, though likely at a slower pace than the 18.8% increase of the last 12 months.4 Bank of America predicts that prices will be up approximately 10% by the end of this year, while Fannie Mae estimates 11.2%.6,7

     In addition to limited supply and a race to beat rising mortgage rates, home values are also climbing because of positive economic indicators, like low unemployment.8 Plus, rents are soaring–up 17% from a year ago–which is prompting more first-time homebuyers to enter the market.9 Add to that the continued popularity of remote work, and it's easy to see why property prices continue to surge.

     However, it's not all bad news for prospective homebuyers. Economists expect that as mortgage rates rise, the rate of appreciation will continue to taper, though the effect may be gradual.

     "Eventually mortgage rates will slow down home prices," according to Ken Johnson, an economist at Florida Atlantic University interviewed by Marketwatch.10 "We should not see rapid upticks in prices as mortgage rates rise." Forecasters agree—Fannie Mae expects price increases to slow to 4.2% in 2023.7

     What does it mean for you?

     While the pace of appreciation is likely to decrease next year, home prices show no signs of going down. However, current labor shortages are leading to higher salaries and better job opportunities for many workers. You may find that your income growth outpaces home prices, making homeownership more affordable for you in the future.

     For homeowners, the outlook's even brighter. You could find yourself sitting on a nice pile of equity. Contact us for a free home value assessment to find out.

     INVENTORY REMAINS EXTREMELY LOW

     As noted, one of the largest hurdles to homeownership is a lack of inventory. According to a February 2022 report by Realtor.com, there's an expanding gap between household formation and home construction, which has resulted in a nationwide shortage of 5.8 million housing units.11

     The origins of this shortage date back to the 2008 housing crisis, during which crashing home values led contractors to stop building new properties—a trend that has not been fully reversed.12

     That decline in home construction also resulted in a decrease in the number of home building professionals, a trend that was exacerbated by job losses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, many builders are limited by their ability to find qualified labor.

     Another major challenge is a staggering increase in the cost of materials. Pandemic-related supply chain shortages have been a significant driver, with home building material costs rising on average 20% on a year-over-year basis. The price of framing lumber alone has tripled since August 2021.13

     These trends add tens of thousands of dollars to the cost of a typical home. Factors like a lack of buildable land in many areas, restrictive zoning, and a shortage of developers are also contributing to the issue.14

     Most homebuying experts agree that the lack of inventory is the primary factor driving rising housing prices and unprecedented competition for homes. With available housing units near four-decade lows, the end of the current housing boom is not yet in sight.15

     What does it mean for you?

     Prospective buyers should be prepared to compete for a home, since low inventory can lead to multiple offers. You may also need to expand your search parameters. If you're ready to look, we're ready to help.

     For sellers, the picture is rosier. In this strong market, your home may be worth more than you realize. Contact us to find out how much your home could sell for in today's market.

     WE'RE HERE TO GUIDE YOU

     While national real estate trends can provide a "big picture" outlook, real estate is local. And as local market experts, we can guide you through the ins and outs of our market and the local issues that are likely to drive home values in your particular neighborhood.

     If you're considering buying or selling a home, contact one of our Montague Miller & Co real estate professionals to schedule a free consultation. We can help you assess your options and make the most of this unique real estate landscape.

    Sources:

    1. Marketwatch - https://www.marketwatch.com/picks/home-price-appreciation-will-normalize-what-5-economists-and-real-estate-pros-predict-will-happen-to-home-prices-in-2022-01646940841
    2. Bankrate -
      https://www.bankrate.com/mortgages/mortgage-rate-forecast
    3. CNBC -
      https://www.cnbc.com/2022/04/16/heres-how-much-the-same-mortgage-costs-now-compared-to-last-year.html
    4. Fortune -
      https://fortune.com/2022/03/23/housing-market-interest-rate-economic-shock/
    5. National Association of Realtors -
      https://www.nar.realtor/blogs/economists-outlook/instant-reaction-mortgage-rates-april-07-2022
    6. Fortune -
      https://fortune.com/2022/03/16/home-prices-2022-2023-bank-of-america-forecast-mortgage-rates/
    7. Fortune -
      https://fortune.com/2022/03/07/what-home-prices-will-look-like-2023-fannie-mae/
    8. Fortune -
      https://fortune.com/2022/03/17/home-prices-drop-housing-markets-california-michigan-massachusetts-corelogic/
    9. CNN -
      https://www.cnn.com/2022/03/23/success/us-national-rent-february/index.html
    10. MarketWatch -
      https://www.marketwatch.com/story/home-prices-increase-at-one-of-the-fastest-rates-on-record-but-higher-mortgage-rates-should-slow-future-growth-11648559497
    11. com -
      https://www.realtor.com/research/us-housing-supply-gap-expands/
    12. NPR -
      https://www.npr.org/2022/03/29/1089174630/housing-shortage-new-home-construction-supply-chain
    13. Investopedia -
      https://www.investopedia.com/housing-market-dips-in-early-march-2022-5222449
    14. NPR -
      https://www.npr.org/2022/03/29/1089174630/housing-shortage-new-home-construction-supply-chain
    15. Fortune -
      https://fortune.com/2022/03/14/housing-market-key-metric-inventory-zillow-bad-for-buyers/

    May
    23

    Some Highlights

    What does the rest of the year hold for the Houseing Market? Here's what experts have to say about what lies ahead.

    Home Prices are projected to rise and so are mortgage rates.  Experts are also forecasting another strong year for home sales as people move to meet their changing needs. 

    Connect with a Montague Miller & Co local real estate professional so you can make your best move this year.

    Resources: Keeping Current Matters, CoreLogic, Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, NAR, Calculated Risk, MBA

    April
    2

    We're still in a seller's market, but that doesn't mean your home is guaranteed to easily sell.1 If you want to maximize your sale price, it's still important to prepare your home before putting it on the market.

    Start by connecting with a real estate agent as soon as possible. Having the eyes and ears of an insightful real estate professional on your side can help you boost your home's appeal to buyers. What's more, beginning the preparation process early allows you to tackle repairs and upgrades that can increase your property's value.

    Use the checklist below to figure out what other tasks you should complete in the months leading up to listing your home. While everyone's situation is unique, these guidelines will help you make sure you're ready to sell when the time is right. Of course, you can always call us if you're not sure where to start or what to tackle first. We can help customize a plan that works for you.

    AS SOON AS YOU THINK OF SELLING

    Some home sellers want to plan their future move far in advance, while others will be required to pack up on very short notice. Whatever your circumstances, these first steps will help assure you'll be ahead of the listing game.

    • Contact Your Real Estate Agent

    We go the extra mile when it comes to servicing our clients, and that includes a series of complimentary, pre-listing consultations to help you prepare your home for the market.

    Some sellers make the mistake of waiting until they are ready to list their home to contact a real estate agent. But we've found that the earlier we're brought into the process, the better the result. That often means a faster sale—and more money in your pocket after closing.

    We know what buyers want in today's market, and we can help devise a plan to maximize your property's appeal. We can also connect you with our trusted network of contractors, vendors, and service professionals, so you'll be sure to get the VIP treatment. This network of support can alleviate stress and help ensure you get everything done in the weeks or months leading up to listing.

    • Address Major Issues and Upgrades

    In most cases, you won't need to make any major renovations before you list. But if you're selling an older home, or if you have any doubt about its condition, it's best to get us involved as soon as possible so we can help you assess any necessary repairs.

    In some instances, we may recommend a pre-listing inspection. Although it's less common in a seller's market, a pre-listing inspection can help you avoid potential surprises down the road. We can discuss the pros and cons during our initial meeting.

    This is the time to address major structural, systems, or cosmetic issues that could hurt the sale of your home down the line. For example, problems with the frame, foundation, or roof are likely to be flagged on an inspection report. Issues with the HVAC system, electrical wiring, or plumbing may cause the home to be unsafe. And sometimes outdated or unpopular design features can limit a home's sales potential.

    Remember, when you're dealing with major repairs or renovations, it's best to give yourself as much time as possible. Given rampant labor and material shortages, starting right away can help you avoid costly delays.2 Contact us so we can guide you on the updates that are worth your time and investment.

    1 MONTH (OR MORE) BEFORE YOU LIST

    Once any large-scale renovations have been addressed, you can turn your attention to the more minor updates that still play a major role in how buyers perceive your home.

    • Make Minor Repairs

    Look for any unaddressed maintenance or repair issues, such as water spots, pest activity, and rotten siding. This is the time to take care of those small annoyances like squeaky hinges, sticking doors, and leaky faucets, too.

    Many of these issues can be handled by going the DIY route and using a few simple tools. Tackle the ones you can and be sure to call a professional for the ones you're not comfortable doing yourself. We can refer you to local service providers who can help.

    Remember that it's easy to overlook these small issues because you live with them. When you work with us, you get a fresh set of eyes on your home—so you don't miss any important repairs that could make a big difference to buyers.

    • Refresh Your Design

    This is a great time to think about some simple design updates that can make a significant impression on buyers. For example, a fresh coat of paint is an easy and affordable way to spruce up your home. One survey found that interior paint offered a 107% return on investment.3 For broad appeal, opt for warm, neutral colors.

     And never underestimate the importance of good curb appeal. Homes with good curb appeal sell for 7% more, on average, than similar homes with an "uninviting exterior."4 If weather permits, lay fresh sod where needed, plant colorful flowers, and add some new mulch to your beds.

    Even just repositioning your furniture can make a huge difference to buyers. A survey by the Real Estate Staging Association found that staged homes sold faster, and 73% sold over list price.5 We can refer you to a local stager or offer our insights and suggestions if you prefer the DIY route.

    • Declutter and Depersonalize

    Doing a little bit of decluttering every day is a lot easier than trying to take care of it all at once right before your home hits the market. A simple strategy is to do this one room at a time, working your way through each space whenever you have a bit of free time. 

    Start by donating or discarding items that you no longer want or need. Then pack up any seasonal items, family photos, and personal collections you can live without for the next few weeks. Bonus: This will give you a head start on packing for your move!

    1 WEEK BEFORE YOU GO TO MARKET

    With just one week before your home is available for sale, all major items should be crossed off your to-do list. Now it's time to focus on the small details that will really make your home shine. Here are a few key areas to focus on during this last week.

    • Check-In With Your Agent

     We'll connect again to make sure we're aligned on the listing price, marketing plan, and any remaining prep. We will be there every step of the way, ensuring you're fully prepared to maximize the sale of your home.

    • Tidy Your Exterior

    You've already done the major landscaping—now it's time to tackle the last few details. Make sure your lawn is freshly mowed, hedges are trimmed, and flower beds are weeded.

     In addition, now is the time to clean your home's exterior if you haven't already. Power wash your siding, empty the gutters, and wash all your windows and screens.

    • Deep Clean Your Interior

     Your house should be deep cleaned before listing, including a thorough deodorizing of the home's interior and steam cleaning for all carpets. Consider hiring a professional cleaning company to ensure the space smells and looks as fresh as possible.

     In addition to cleaning, take some time to tidy up. Buyers will look inside your closets, pantries, and cabinets, so make sure they are neat and organized. Small appliances and toiletries should be cleared off the countertops.

    DAY OF SHOWING

     Now you're all set to go and there are just a few small things you need to handle on the day of showings or open houses. Do a final walk-through and take care of these finishing touches to give potential buyers the best possible impression.

    • Pre-Showing Prep

    Happy and comfortable buyers are more likely to submit offers! Make them feel at home by adjusting the thermostat to a comfortable temperature. Open any blinds and curtains throughout the house, and turn on all lights so buyers can see all the potential in your home.

     Then tidy up by vacuuming and sweeping floors, emptying (or hiding) trash cans, and wiping down countertops. In the bathrooms, close toilet lids and hang clean hand towels.

     Don't forget to secure firearms, jewelry, sensitive documents, prescription medications, and any other items of value in a safe or store them off-site.

     Finally, it's best to have pets out of the house during showings. If possible, you should also remove evidence of pets (litter box, dog beds, etc.), which can be a turn-off for some buyers.

    DON'T WAIT TO PREP YOUR HOME FOR SELLING

     If you want to get top dollar for your home, don't put it on the market before it's ready. The right preparation can make all the difference when it comes to maximizing the offers you get. The upgrades and changes you need to make will depend upon your home's condition, so don't wait to speak with an agent.

     Call our team if you're thinking about selling your home, even if you're not sure when. It's never too early to seek the guidance of your real estate agent and start preparing your home to sell.

     Sources:

    1. Fortune -
      https://fortune.com/2022/02/08/should-i-buy-house-sellers-market-housing-real-estate-fannie-mae/
    2. Forbes -
      https://www.forbes.com/advisor/home-improvement/labor-materials-shortage-impacts-renovations/
    3. PR Web -
      https://www.prweb.com/releases/2012-homegain/home-improvement-survey/prweb9433460.htm
    4. Realtor Magazine -
      https://magazine.realtor/daily-news/2020/01/27/how-much-does-curb-appeal-affect-home-value
    5. Real Estate Staging Association -
      https://www.realestatestagingassociation.com/content.aspx?page_id=22&club_id=304550&module_id=164548
    March
    9

    Highlights

    • Today's housing market is the direct result of low supply and high buyer demand. Here's what that means for you and your plans to buy or sell.
    • For buyers, expect competition, be ready to move fast, and be prepared to submit your strongest offer. For sellers,  know your house will be the center of attention  and that it'll likely sell quickly and get multiple offers.
    • If you're ready to move, let's connect to talk about our local area and how you can take advantage of today's unprecedented housing market.

    Resources by Keeping Current Matters, NAR

    February
    27

    If you're planning to sell this year, you're probably thinking about what you'll need to do to get your house ready to appeal to the most buyers. It's crucial to work with a trusted real estate professional who knows your local market to get your home ready to sell. But there are a few things you should consider when deciding what to renovate and update before listing this season. Here are three things to keep top of mind as you're making your list of projects to tackle this year.

    1. The Number of Homes for Sale Is Very Low

    Housing Inventory sits far below what is normally considered a balanced market. In fact, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the latest data indicates inventory is hitting an all-time low. Because there's such a limited supply of homes available for sale, you're in a unique position when you sell your house to benefit from multiple offers and a quick process.

    But you want to do so while buyers are still scooping homes up as fast as they're being listed. Spending time and money on renovations before you sell could mean you'll miss your key window of opportunity. Of course, certain repairs may be important or even necessary. The best way to determine where to spend your time – and your money – is to work with a real estate advisor to confirm which improvements are truly needed and which ones aren't likely to be deal-breakers for buyers.

    2. Buyers May Be Willing To Take on Projects When They Purchase Your House

    Today, many buyers are more willing to take on home improvement projects themselves to get the house they're after, even if it means putting in a little extra work. A recent survey from Freddie Mac finds that:

    ". . . nearly two-in-five potential homebuyers would consider purchasing a home requiring renovations."

    If more buyers are willing to tackle repairs on their own, it may be wise to let the future homeowners remodel the bathroom or the kitchen to make design decisions that are best for their specific taste and lifestyle. Depending on the structural condition of your house, your efforts may be better spent working on small cosmetic updates, like refreshing some paint and power washing the exterior to make sure the home stands out. Instead of over-investing in upgrades, the buyer may change anyway, work with a real estate professional to determine the key projects to tackle that will give you the greatest return on your investment.

    3. Your Agent Will Help You Spotlight the Upgrades You've Made

    Over the past year, many people made a significant number of updates to their homes. The most recent State of Home Spending report finds:

    "Home improvement spending rose 25% year-over-year to $10,341. Homeowners who invested in home improvement did an average of 3.7 projects, up from 2.7 in 2020, . . ."

    With more homeowners taking on more projects in the past 12 months, there's a good chance you've already made updates to your home that could appeal to buyers. If that's the case, your real estate advisor will find ways to highlight those upgrades in your listing.

    The same is true for any projects you invest in moving forward. No matter what, before you renovate, contact a local real estate professional for expert advice on what work needs to be done and how to make it as appealing as possible to future buyers. Every home is different, so a conversation with your agent is mission-critical to make sure you make the right moves when selling this season.

    Bottom Line

    In today's sellers' market, it's important to spend your time and money wisely when you're getting ready to move. Work with a real estate advisor to find out where to target your efforts before you list. 

    February
    4

     

    There's a lot to consider when selling your home, from the market and appraisals to where you'll go next. Don't forget, however, that design is also a key factor. It's often one of the first things buyers notice when they walk into a home, and it's also a detail that you, as a seller, can easily control.

    According to Realtor.com's 2022 housing market forecast, home for-sale inventory will increase from last year, as will the projected number of overall sales.1 This means, if you're looking to sell in the near future, now is the time to consider how you can stand out.

    Updating your home design is one way to do that. Changes like new security features or upgraded siding can add value to your home now and be highlighted when you market it for sale later. To get the most out of your updates, focus on these popular home design features that will wow buyers in 2022.

    Keep in mind, not all of these will work well in every house. If you plan to buy, list, or renovate a property, give us a call. We can help you realize your vision and maximize the impact of your investment.

    Eco-Friendly Fixtures

    Millennials account for the largest share of current homebuyers, according to the National Association of Realtors.2 Sustainable living tops the list of priorities for this generation. A recent Deloitte survey found that nearly one-third of millennials initiate or deepen their consumer investment in products or services that help the environment—this also includes the houses they choose to live in.3

    Here are a few eco-friendly design features that will be attractive to these millennial buyers in 2022. Bonus, they can net a significant return on investment (ROI) for you, as a seller, too.

    • Energy-Efficient Windows: Heat gain or loss from low-performance windows drives 25–30 percent of home heating and cooling costs, according to gov.4 Therefore, energy-efficient windows can help homeowners save money.
    • Low-Flow Water Fixtures: According to the EPA, replacing your shower head with one that's labeled with WaterSense can save four gallons of water with each shower.5 Doing the same with your faucet can save 700 gallons per year. This leads to cost savings and environmental support.
    • Native Landscaping: According to the American Society of Landscape Architects, 58 percent of members report increased client demand for native trees and plants as a means to combat biodiversity loss from climate change..6 Enhance the eco-friendly appeal of your home with some native plants in the front yard.

    Wellness Retreat Nooks

    The pandemic has had a significant impact on mental health. For example, in an effort to prioritize mental health, many people are relocating to quieter, more peaceful homes, with 22 percent of city dwellers planning a move to less congested residential areas, according to the Home Improvement Research Institute's (HIRI) 2021 Insights Summit.7

    However, no matter where you live, you can still intrigue buyers by jumping on this trend. At-home wellness amenities, which were once viewed as luxuries, are now on many homeowners' must-have lists. Indoor spaces that function as a retreat for wellness and self-care have become extremely popular, according to HIRI.

    Improve your quality of life in your home with reading nooks, spa-inspired bathrooms, and exercise or meditation spaces. Even if your house doesn't have the square footage to section off an entire room for relaxation, making simple tweaks to natural light, air purifiers, and indoor plants can help you feel better in your home now while enabling future buyers to see the opportunity for their own space.

    Calming Paint Colors

    Paint colors that produce a calming atmosphere will also be a key selling point in 2022. Soft earth tones and natural hues will prevail this year, including various shades of blue, green,  brown, and beige. Recent research suggests steering clear of trendy paint colors in favor of a more classic palette to bring the feel of nature indoors in a subtle and soothing way.8 

    In fact, the same research found that buyers are often willing to pay an extra $4,698 for a house with a light blue bathroom or an extra $1,491 for a house with a dark blue bedroom. Another crowd-pleasing hue to refresh the walls with is BEHR's 2022 paint color of the year, known as Breezeway.9

    This shade of green with silver undertones was created to mimic sea glass. As the BEHR website describes it, Breezeway "evokes feelings of coolness and peace, while representing a desire to move forward and discover newfound passions." 

    Home Safety Features

    Buyers want peace of mind more now than ever before. According to a 2021 survey from the American Institute of Architects, members report seeing an increase in the popularity of these home safety features10

    • Emergency backup power generation
    • Accommodations for multiple generations
    • Wider accessible doorways and hallways
    • Home security monitoring equipment
    • Interior ramps and home elevator features

    Consider how you can build home safety features like these into the design of your home to enhance your quality of life now and attract more buyers later. For example, you could install a backup generator in the garage and sell it with the house or update your major doorways to be wider.

    Before making an investment in expensive home safety upgrades, contact us. We can help you determine what will deliver the greatest ROI for your location and goals.

    Designated Work Spaces 

    It may come as no surprise that after the pandemic, 63 percent of homebuyers want their next house to feature room for a designated office, according to the National Association of Home Builders.11 In addition, 70 percent of these buyers want the office to be at least 100 square feet (or a 10x10 room).    

    If you can, consider turning a bedroom or a den into a work-from-home office. When designing the space, make it both functional and aesthetically pleasing. Position a desk near the window for natural light, install a bookshelf unit, arrange a few succulents on the work surface, and hang a few framed posters or a cork bulletin board on the wall. You want the space to foster productivity as well as be a place in your home you enjoy spending time.

    When you get ready to sell, we can help you highlight your designated work space. Given the high demand for this design feature, it can help you interest more buyers and attract more competitive offers—if marketed creatively.

    Luxury Kitchen Retouches

    The kitchen has always been a main focal point of interior design, and that's no different in 2022. Families will always need this space to come together in their own homes.

    This year's buyers want a kitchen with new upgrades and retouches, but you don't have to renovate the entire kitchen to make an impact. If you're not sure where to start, here are a few tips on how to create a kitchen that buyers will love without spending too much money on renovations:

    • Repaint the kitchen, keeping the calm and nature-inspired colors in mind that are most popular right now. Taking a kitchen from dark to light by painting cabinets and walls can make all the difference.
    • Update the hardware. These kitchen "accessories" stand out and add personality to an otherwise standard kitchen.
    • Update light fixtures to bring in more light while also adding a fresh look and feel to the space.

    Unique Accent Walls

    In a recent interview with the National Association of Realtors, Brian Santos, the director of education for Fresh Coat Painters, explains that bold, unique accent walls are trendy right now.12 An accent wall gives a home character while maintaining the calming feel of natural- and neutral-colored walls.

    Santos also explains that this is part of a design aesthetic that draws inspiration from the Roaring Twenties, and it's likely to remain a sought-after home feature in 2022. Here are some bold colors to consider for your home's accent walls:

    • Solid black
    • Jewel or metallic tones
    • Textured wallpaper
    • Painted ceilings
    • Built-in shelves

    If you're planning to sell in the next year, talk to us before adding an accent wall. Depending on your target buyer, it may be a design feature that actually hurts your home's value. We can run a free Comparative Market Analysis on your home to help you understand what would resell best in your neighborhood.

    Exterior Siding Updates

    A new exterior siding refresh is one of the most affordable renovation projects you can do to help increase a home's resale value. The average cost is just $12 per square foot, but higher-end material options can push costs closer to  $50 per square foot.13 What's more, there are many siding materials available, from fiber-cement, brick, and wood to vinyl, metal, and stone. 

    While all these options can infuse the exterior with character and add curb appeal, fiber-cement and vinyl deliver the highest ROI. In fact, according to a 2021 Cost vs. Value Report, a vinyl siding replacement can boost resale value by $11,315 (68.3 percent cost recoup), and a fiber-cement siding replacement can boost resale value by $13,618 (69.4 percent cost recoup).14

    Give your home this simple, affordable, and attractive facelift before putting it on the market. If you're not sure how to get started yourself, our team can connect you with a trusted vendor to guide you through the process.

    Keep These Home Design Features on Your Radar in 2022

    These design features can infuse personality into your home while helping to close the deal if you plan to sell in 2022. The average buyer knows just what they're looking for in a space they plan to call home, so with some investment and foresight, you can give your house an edge over the competition—and boost resale value in the process.

    However, you don't need to make all these changes to attract more buyers. We can help you determine which design features you should add to your home by sharing insights and tips on how to maximize the return on your investment. We can also run a Comparative Market Analysis on your home to find out how it compares to others in the area, which will help us decide what changes need to be made. Contact us to schedule a free consultation!

    Sources:

    1. Realtor -
      https://www.realtor.com/research/2022-national-housing-forecast/
    2. National Association of Realtors -
      https://www.nar.realtor/research-and-statistics/research-reports/home-buyer-and-seller-generational-trends
    3. Deloitte -
      https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/global/Documents/2021-deloitte-global-millennial-survey-report.pdf
    4. gov -
      https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/update-or-replace-windows
    5. gov -
      https://www.epa.gov/watersense/about-watersense
    6. American Society of Landscape Architects -
      https://www.asla.org/NewsReleaseDetails.aspx?id=60427
    7. Home Improvement Research Institute -
      https://www.hiri.org/blog/4-major-home-wellness-trends-from-hiri-summit-speaker-dr-jie-zhao
    8. Zillow -
      http://zillow.mediaroom.com/2021-07-15-Homes-With-Light-Blue-Bathrooms,-Dark-Blue-Bedrooms-Could-Sell-for-Up-to-4,698-More-Than-Expected
    9. Behr -
      https://www.behr.com/colorfullybehr/behr-announces-2022-color-of-the-year-and-trends-palette/
    10. American Institute of Architects -
      http://info.aia.org/AIArchitect/2021/0910/aia-interactive/index.html#
    11. National Association of Home Builders -
      ​​https://www.nahb.org/-/media/NAHB/news-and-economics/docs/housing-economics-plus/special-studies/2021/special-study-what-home-buyers-really-want-march-2021.pdf?_ga=2.188050984.1824982414.1639512139-1247360189.1639512139
    12. National Association of Realtors -
      https://www.nar.realtor/blogs/styled-staged-sold/hot-home-trend-the-accent-wall-is-back
    13. Forbes -
      https://www.forbes.com/advisor/home-improvement/how-much-does-siding-cost-to-install/

    Remodeling Magazine -
    https://www.remodeling.hw.net/cost-vs-value/2021/

    January
    18

    If you're trying to decide when to list your house, the time is now. There are plenty of buyers eagerly waiting for your home to hit the market.

    The latest data indicates home showings are rising. There are more buyers than homes for sale right now. That means you'll likely receive multiple offers, and your home won't be on the market long.

    Today's market favors sellers. If you're ready to move, reach out to one of our real estate professionals to discuss the benefits you can expect when you sell this season.

    Resources: ShowingTime, realtor, NSR, Keeping Current Matters

    November
    2

    In today's hyper-competitive market, buyers are often willing to overlook cosmetic or minor repair needs if it means snagging a home in their price range.

    With so few houses available for sale today, you may be able to skip the bigger renovations before you sell and cash in on the current demand for your house.

    If you're ready to move, reach out to one of our Montague Miller & Co real estate professionals to determine your best next steps in this sellers' market.

    September
    15

    How long have you lived in your current home? If it's been a while, you may be thinking about moving. According to the latest Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), in 2019, homeowners were living in their homes for an average of 10 years. That's a long time to time to be in one place, considering the average length of time homeowners used to stay put hovered closer to 6 years. 

    With today's changing homebuyer needs, especially given how the current health crisis has altered our daily lifestyles, many homeowners are reconsidering where they're at and thinking about moving to a home with more space for their families. Here's why it might be a great time to make that happen.

    The real estate market has changed in many ways over the past 10 years, and current homeowners are earning much more equity today than they used to have. According to CoreLogic, in the first quarter of 2020 alone, the average homeowner gained approximately$9,600 in equity. If you're considering selling your house right now, you may have accumulated more equity to put toward a move than you realize.

    Dialing back 10 years, many homeowners also locked in a fairly low mortgage rate. In 2010, the average rate was only 4.09%. This motivated homeowners to stay in their houses longer than usual to keep their rate low, rather than moving. Just last Thursday, however, average mortgage rates hit a new historic low at 2.86%. Sam Khater, Chief Economist at Freddie Mac explains:

    "Mortgage rates have hit another record low due to a late summer slowdown in the economic recovery…These low rates have ignited robust purchase demand activity, which is up twenty-five percent from a year ago and has been growing at double digit rates for four consecutive months."

    Ten years ago, we couldn't have imagined a mortgage rate under 3%. Looking at the math today, making a move into a new home and locking in a significantly lower rate than you have now could save you greatly on a monthly basis, and over the life of your loan. See Chart below:

    Is Now a Good Time to Move? | Keeping Current Matters

     

    As the example shows, you can save a substantial amount every month if you qualify for today's low mortgage rate, and the savings can really add up over the life of a 30-year fixed-rate loan.

    In summary,

    As a homeowner, you have a huge opportunity to move up right now. Whether you want to save more each month or get more home for your money based on your family's changing needs, it's a great time to reach out to a local Montague Miller real estate professionals in your area. Buyers are actively looking for more homes to buy, and you can win big by making a move if the time is right for you.

    Research shared by Keeping Current Matters

    August
    23

    The Answer is YES! Here's a breakdown of why it's a great time to capitalize on equity gain in today's market.

    We're sitting in an optimal moment in time for homeowners who are ready to sell their houses and make a move this year. Today's homeowners are, on average, staying in their homes longer than they used to, and this is one factor driving increased homeowner equity. When equity grows, selling a house becomes increasingly desirable. 

    As average homeowner tenure lengthens and home prices rise, equity, a form of forced savings, can be applied forward to the purchase of a new home. CoreLogic explains: 

    "Over the past 10 years, the equity position of homeowners has positively changed as a result of more than eight years of rising home prices. As the economy climbed out of the recession in the first quarter of 2010, 25.9% or 12.1 million homes were still underwater, compared to the first quarter of 2020 when the negative equity share was at 3.4%, or 1.8 million properties. Borrowers have seen an aggregate increase of $6.2 trillion in home equity since the first quarter of 2010 and the average homeowner has gained about $106,100 in equity."

    Increasing equity is enabling many homeowners who are ready to sell their current houses today to sell for an increased profit, and then reinvest their earnings in a new home. According to the Q2 2020 U.S. Home Sales Report from ATTOM Data Solutions, in the second quarter of 2020:

    "Home sellers nationwide realized a gain of $75,971 on the typical sale, up from the $66,500 in the first quarter of 2020 and from $65,250 in the second quarter of last year. The latest figure, based on median purchase and resale prices, marked yet another peak level of raw profits in the United States since the housing market began recovering from the Great Recession in 2012."

    If you've been taking a closer look at your house recently and are thinking it might be time for you to make a move, determining your equity position is a great place to start. Understanding how much equity you've earned over time can be a key factor in helping you realize the potential profits in your real estate investment and move toward your next homeownership goal.

    Summing up...

    With average home sale profits growing, it's a great time to leverage your equity and make a move, especially while the inventory of houses for sale and mortgage rates are historically low. If you're considering selling your house, contact a Montague Miller & Co real estate professional today so you can better understand your home equity position and take one step closer to the home of your dreams.

    Research shared by Keeping Current Matters

     

    June
    29

    May
    21

    One of the biggest questions we all seem to be asking these days is: When are we going to start to see an economic recovery? As the country begins to slowly reopen, moving forward in strategic phases, business activity will help bring our nation back to life. Many economists indicate a recovery should begin to happen in the second half of this year. Here's a look at what some of the experts have to say.

    Jerome Powell, Federal Reserve Chairman

    "I think there's a good chance that there'll be positive growth in the third quarter. And I think it's a reasonable expectation that there'll be growth in the second half of the year… So, in the long run, I would say the U.S. economy will recover. We'll get back to the place we were in February; we'll get to an even better place than that. I'm highly confident of that. And it won't take that long to get there."

    Nonpartisan Analysis for the U.S Congress

    "The economy is expected to begin recovering during the second half of 2020 as concerns about the pandemic diminish and as state and local governments ease stay-at-home orders, bans on public gatherings, and other measures. The labor market is projected to materially improve after the third quarter; hiring will rebound and job losses will drop significantly as the degree of social distancing diminishes."

    Neel Kashkari, President, Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank

    "I think we need to prepare for a more gradual recovery while we hope for that quicker rebound."

    We're certainly not out of the woods yet, but clearly many experts anticipate we'll see a recovery starting this year. It may be a bumpy ride for the next few months, but most agree that a turnaround will begin sooner rather than later.

    During the planned shutdown, as the economic slowdown pressed pause on the nation, many potential buyers and sellers put their real estate plans on hold. That time coincided with the traditionally busy spring real estate season. As we look ahead at this economic recovery and we begin to emerge back into our communities over the coming weeks and months, perhaps it's time to think about putting your real estate plans back into play.

    The experts note a turnaround is on the horizon, starting as early as later this year. If you paused your 2020 real estate plans, reach out to a local real estate professional at Montague Miller & Co today to determine how you can re-engage in the process as the country reopens and the economy begins a much-anticipated rebound.

    Previously Published by Keeping Current Matters

    May
    11

     

    Will Home Values Appreciate or Depreciate in 2020? | MyKCM

    With the housing market staggered to some degree by the health crisis the country is currently facing, some potential purchasers are questioning whether home values will be impacted. The price of any item is determined by supply as well as the market's demand for that item.

    Each month the National Association of Realtors (NAR) surveys "over 50,000 real estate practitioners about their expectations for home sales, prices and market conditions" for the REALTORS Confidence Index.

    Their latest edition sheds some light on the relationship between seller traffic (supply) and buyer traffic (demand) during this pandemic.

    Buyer Demand

    The map below was created after asking the question: "How would you rate buyer traffic in your area?"

    Will Home Values Appreciate or Depreciate in 2020? | MyKCM

    The darker the blue, the stronger the demand for homes is in that area. The survey shows that in 34 of the 50 U.S. states, buyer demand is now 'strong' and 16 of the 50 states have a 'stable' demand.

    Seller Supply

    The index also asks: "How would you rate seller traffic in your area?"

    Will Home Values Appreciate or Depreciate in 2020? | MyKCM

    As the map above indicates, 46 states and Washington, D.C. reported 'weak' seller traffic, 3 states reported 'stable' seller traffic, and 1 state reported 'strong' seller traffic. This means there are far fewer homes on the market than what is needed to satisfy the needs of buyers looking for homes right now.

    With demand still stronger than supply, home values should not depreciate.

    What are the experts saying?

    Here are the thoughts of three industry experts on the subject:

            Ivy Zelman:

    "We note that inventory as a percent of households sits at the lowest level ever, something we believe will limit the overall degree of home price pressure through the year."

    Mark Fleming, Chief Economist, First American:

    "Housing supply remains at historically low levels, so house price growth is likely to slow, but it's not likely to go negative."

           Freddie Mac:

    "Two forces prevent a collapse in house prices. First, as we indicated in our earlier research report, U.S. housing markets face a large supply deficit. Second, population growth and pent up household formations provide a tailwind to housing demand."

    Looking at these maps and listening to the experts, it seems that prices will remain stable throughout 2020. If you're thinking about listing your home, let's connect to discuss how you can capitalize on the somewhat surprising demand in the market now. Get in touch with a Montague Miller & Co REALTOR® today!

    May
    11

     

    Why Home Equity is a Bright Spark in the Housing Market | MyKCM

    Given how we have seen more unemployment claims than ever before over the past several weeks, fear is spreading widely. Some good news, however, shows that more than 4 million initial unemployment filers have likely already found a new job, especially as industries such as health care, food and grocery stores, retail, delivery, and more increase their employment opportunities. Breaking down what unemployment means for homeownership, and understanding the significant equity Americans hold today, are important parts of seeing the picture clearly when sorting through this uncertainty.

    One of the biggest questions right now is whether this historic unemployment rate will initiate a new surge of foreclosures in the market. It's a very real fear. Despite the staggering number of claims, there are actually many reasons why we won't see a significant number of foreclosures like we did during the housing crash twelve years ago. The amount of equity homeowners have today is a leading differentiator in the current market.

    Today, according to John Burns Consulting, 58.7% of homes in the U.S. have at least 60% equity. That number is drastically different  than it was in 2008 when the housing bubble burst. The last recession was painful, and when prices dipped, many found themselves owing more on their mortgage than what their homes were worth. Homeowners simply walked away at that point. Now, 42.1% of all homes in this country are mortgage-free, meaning they're owned free and clear. Those homes are not at risk for foreclosure (see graph below):

    Why Home Equity is a Bright Spark in the Housing Market | MyKCM

    In addition, CoreLogic notes the average equity mortgaged homes have today is $177,000. That's a significant amount that homeowners won't be stepping away from, even in today's economy (see chart below):

    Why Home Equity is a Bright Spark in the Housing Market | MyKCM

     

    In essence, the amount of equity homeowners have today positions them to be in a much better place than they were in 2008.

    The fear and uncertainty we feel right now are very real, and this is not going to be easy. We can, however, see strength in our current market through homeowner equity that has not been there in the past. That may be a bright spark to help us make it through.

    April
    30

     

    How Buyers Can Win By Downsizing in 2020 | MyKCM

    Home values have been increasing for 93 consecutive months, according to the National Association of Realtors. If you're a homeowner, particularly one looking to downsize your living space, that's great news, as you've likely built significant equity in your home.

    Here's some more good news: mortgage rates are expected to remain low throughout 2020 at an average of 3.8% for a 30-year fixed-rate loan.

    The combination of leveraging your growing equity and capitalizing on low rates could make a big difference in your housing plans this year.

    How to Use Your Home Equity

    For move-up buyers, the typical pattern for building financial stability and wealth through homeownership works this way: you buy a house and gain equity over several years of mortgage payments and price appreciation. You then take that equity from the sale of your house to make a down payment on your next home and repeat the process.

    For homeowners ready to downsize, home equity can work in a slightly different way. What you choose to do depends in part upon your goals.

    According to Housing Wire.com, for some, the desire to downsize may be related to retirement plans or children aging out of the home. Others may be choosing to live in a smaller home to save money or simplify their lifestyle in a space that's easier to clean and declutter. The reasons can vary greatly and by generation. 

    Those who choose to put their equity toward a new home have the opportunity to make a substantial down payment or maybe even to buy their next home in cash. This is incredibly valuable if your goal is to have a minimal mortgage payment or none at all.

    A local real estate professional can help you evaluate your equity and how to use it wisely. If you're planning to downsize, keep in mind that home prices are anticipated to continue rising in 2020, which could influence your choices.

    The Impact of Low Mortgage Rates

    Low mortgage rates can offset price hikes, so locking in while rates are low will be key. For many downsizing homeowners, a loan with a shorter term is ideal, so the balance can be reduced more quickly.

    Interest reates on 10, 15, and 20-year loans are lower than the rates on a 30-year fixed-rate loan. If you're downsizing your housing costs, you may prefer a shorter-term loan to pay off your home faster. This way, you can save thousands in interest payments over time.

    _______

    If you're planning a transition into a smaller home, the twin trends of low mortgage rates and rising home equity can kickstart or boost your plans, especially if you're anticipating retirement soon or just want to live in a smaller home that's easier to maintain. Get together today with one of our professional real estate agents at Montague Miller & Co REALTORS® to explore your options.

    Previously published in Keeping Current Matters

    April
    14

    Every day that passes, people have a need to buy and sell homes. That doesn't stop during the current pandemic. If you've had a major life change recently, whether with your job or your family situation, you may be in a position where you need to sell your home – and fast. While you probably feel like timing with the current pandemic isn't on your side, making a move is still possible. Rest assured, with technology at your side and fewer sellers on the market in most areas, you can list your house and make it happen safely and effectively, especially when following the current COVID-19 guidelines set forth by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

    You may have a new baby, a new employment situation, a parent who moved in with you, you just built a home that's finally ready to move into, or some other major part of your life that has changed in recent weeks. Buyers have those needs too, so rest assured that someone is likely looking for a home just like yours.

    According to the NAR Flash Survey: Economic Pulse taken April 5 – 6, real estate agents indicate, not surprisingly, that there's a noticeable decline in current homebuyer interest. That said, 10% of agents said in the same survey that they saw no change or even an increase in buyer activity. So, while buyer interest is low compared to normal spring markets, there are still buyers in the market. Don't forget, you only need one buyer – the right one for your home.

    Here's the other thing – people are spending a lot of time on the Internet right now, given the stay-at-home orders implemented across the country. Buyers are actively looking at homes for sale online. Some of them are reaching out to real estate professionals for virtual tours and getting ready to make offers too. Homes are being sold in many markets.

    There Is Less Competition Right Now

    The same survey indicates that 56% of NAR members said sellers are removing their homes from the market right now. This can definitely work in your favor. If other sellers are removing their listings, your home has a better chance of rising to the top of a buyer's search list and being seen. Keep in mind, listings will pick up again soon, as 57% of the respondents note that sellers are only planning to delay the process by a couple of months. If you need to sell right now, don't wait for the competition to get back into the market again.

    This year, delayed listings from the typically busy spring season will push into the summer months, so more competition will be coming to the market as the pandemic passes. Getting ahead of that wave now might be your biggest opportunity.

    Your Trusted Real Estate Advisor Can Help

    Real estate agents are working hard every single day under untraditional circumstances, utilizing technology to help both buyers and sellers who need to continue with their plans. We're using virtual tours to show homes currently on the market, staying connected with the buyers and sellers through video chats, and leveraging resources to complete transactions electronically. We're making sure the families we support remain safe and can keep their real estate needs on track, especially as life is changing so rapidly.

    Bottom Line

    Homes are still being bought and sold in the midst of this pandemic. If you need to sell your house and would like to know the current status in your local market, contact one of Montague Miller & Co's estate professionals to create a safe and effective plan that works for you and your family.

    December
    3

     
    Around this time each year, many homeowners decide to wait until after the holidays to list their houses. Others who already have their homes on the market remove their listings until the spring. Let's consider reasons why listing your house now or keeping it on the market this winter may be a good choice.
     
    Here are seven great reasons not to wait:
     
    1) Relocation buyers are out there now. Many companies are still hiring throughout the holidays, and they need their new employees to start as soon as possible.
     
    2) Purchasers who are looking for homes during the holidays are serious buyers and are ready to buy now.
     
    3) You can restrict the showings on your home to days and times that are most convenient for you. You will remain in control.
     
    4) Homes show better when decorated for the holidays.
     
    5) There is minimal competition for you as a seller right now. Over the last few months of the year the supply of homes for sale decrease.
     
    6) The desire to own a home doesn't stop during the holidays.
    Buyers who were unable to find their dream homes during the busy spring and summer months are still searching, and your home may be the answer.
     
    7) Late fall and early winter make up the "sweet spot" for sellers. The supply of listings typically increases substantially after the holidays including new construction in early spring.
     
    If you are considering putting your home on the market during the holiday season, reach out to one of our Montague Miller & Co real estate professionals to determine if selling now is your best move.
    August
    13

     

    If you're thinking about selling your house, now is a great time to make your move and here's why.

    There's no doubt that today's housing market is changing, and everything we see right now indicates it is time to sell. Here's a look at why selling now is likely to drive the greatest return on your largest investment.

    Home values have been appreciating for several years now, growing at a strong, steady, and impressive pace. In fact, the average annual appreciation rate since 2012 has nearly doubled the average rate from the more normal market of the 1990s (think: pre-bubble).

    Appreciation, however, is projected to shift back toward normal, meaning home prices will likely keep climbing over the next few years, but they are not projected to continue to increase at such a high rate.

    Here's What That Means for Homeowners:

    As noted in the latest Home Price Expectation Survey (HPES) powered by Pulsenomics, experts forecast an average annual appreciation rate closer to 3.2% over the next five years, which is more in line with a historically normal market (3.6%). The good news is, there's still time to take advantage of the current strength of home prices by selling your house now.

    If you're thinking about selling your house, now is a great time to make your move. Don't get stuck waiting until projected home price appreciation rates potentially re-accelerate again in 2023. You'll likely earn the greatest return on your investment by selling now before the prices start to normalize next year.

     

    First Published by Keeping Current Matters August 11, 2019

    April
    4

    Highlights:

    • When listing your house for sale your top goal will be to get the home sold for the best price possible!
    • There are many small projects you can do yourself to ensure this happens!
    • Your Montague Miller & Co real estate agent will have a list of specific suggestions for getting your house ready for market and is a great resource for finding local contractors who can help!
    November
    28

     

    In today's housing market, where supply is very low and demand is very high, home values are increasing rapidly. Many experts are projecting that home values could appreciate by another 5%+ over the next twelve months. One major challenge in such a market is the bank appraisal.

    If prices are surging, it is difficult for appraisers to find adequate, comparable sales (similar houses in the neighborhood that recently closed) to defend the selling price when performing the appraisal for the bank.

    Every month in their Home Price Perception Index (HPPI), Quicken Loans measures the disparity between what a homeowner who is seeking to refinance their home believes their house is worth, and an appraiser's evaluation of that same home.

    Bill Banfield, Executive VP of Capital Markets at Quicken Loans urges anyone looking to buy or sell in today's market to remember the impact of this challenge:

    "Based on the HPPI, it appears homeowners in the markets where prices are rising faster than the national average – like Denver, Seattle and San Francisco – are continuing to underestimate just how quickly home values are rising, so the average appraisal is higher than homeowner estimate.  On the inverse of that, homeowners in areas where the values aren't rising as fast may think they are rising faster than they are, leading to the appraisal lagging the estimate."

    The chart below illustrates the changes in home price estimates over the last 12 months.

    Every house on the market must be sold twice; once to a prospective buyer and then to the bank (through the bank's appraisal). With escalating prices, the second sale might be even more difficult than the first. If you are planning on entering the housing market this year, your experienced Montague Miller & Co REALTOR® will be able to guide you through this and any other obstacles that may arise.

    September
    26

    Good News!

    Freddie MacFannie Mae, and The Mortgage Bankers Association are all projecting that home sales will increase in 2018. The chart below is showing what each entity is projecting in sales for the remainder of this year and the next. 

    As we can see, each entity is projecting sizable increases in home sales next year. It looks like an optimistic market for 2018!


    August
    9

    When listing your house for sale, your top goal will be to get the home sold for the best price possible! There are many small projects that you can do to ensure this happens from improving your curb appeal to giving it that "homey" feeling.

    Montague Miller's REALTORS® will help guide you through the process with a list of specific suggestions for getting your house ready for market.  Many are small projects you can do yourself and for those you need help with, they know the area and are prepared to be a great resource for finding local contractors who can help you make it happen!

    Here are some tips to get you started.Tips for Preparing Your House for Sale

    June
    1

    why now is a great time to list your house to sellIf you are debating listing your house for sale this year, here is the #1 reason not to wait!

    Buyer Demand Continues to Outpace the Supply of Homes For Sale

    The National Association of REALTORS' (NAR) Chief Economist, Lawrence Yun recently commented on the inventory shortage:

    "While feedback from REALTORS® continues to suggest healthy levels of buyer interest, available listings that are move-in ready and in affordable price ranges remain hard to come by for many would-be buyers."

    The latest Existing Home Sales Report shows that there is currently a 5.1-month supply of homes for sale. This remains lower than the 6-month supply necessary for a normal market and well below November 2014 numbers.

    The chart below details the year-over-year inventory shortages experienced in 2015:

    Housing Supply Year-Over-Year | Keeping Current Matters

    Anything less than a six-month supply is considered a "Seller's Market".

    Bottom Line

    Meet with a local real estate professional who can show you the supply conditions in your neighborhood and assist you in gaining access to the buyers who are ready, willing and able to buy now!

     
    March
    16

    hidden home equity

     

    CoreLogic released their 2015 2nd Quarter Equity Report which revealed that 759,000 properties had regained equity in the last quarter. That means that 91% of allmortgaged properties (approximately 45.9 million) are now in a positive equity position. Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic, reported:

    "For much of the country, the negative equity epidemic is lifting. The biggest reason for this improvement has been the relentless rise in home prices over the past three years which reflects increasing money flows into housing and a lack of housing stock in many markets."

    Obviously, this is great news for the financial situation of many homeowners.

    But, do they realize their equity position has changed?

    recent study by Fannie Mae suggests that many homeowners are unaware that their equity position has changed…in some cases dramatically. For example, their study showed that 23% of Americans still believe their home is in a negative equity position when, in actuality, only 9% of homes are in that position.

    The study also revealed that, though 69% of homes had "significant equity" (greater than 20%), only 37% of Americans realize it.

    Significant Equity | Keeping Current Matters

    This means that 32% of Americans with a mortgage fail to realize the opportune situation they are in. With a sizeable equity position, many homeowners could easily move into a housing situation that better meets their current needs (moving to a larger home or downsizing).

    Fannie Mae spoke out on this issue in their report:

    "Homeowners who underestimate their homes' values not only underestimate their home equity, they also likely underestimate 1) how large a down payment they could make with their home equity, 2) their chances of qualifying for mortgages, and, therefore, 3) their opportunities for selling their current homes and for buying different homes."

    Bottom Line

    Every homeowner should be aware of the true equity in their house and also realize the opportunities that go along with it. If you are unsure of the savings you currently have built up in your home, contact a real estate professional to help ascertain that number. You may be surprised.

    March
    11

    Montague Miller Real Estate Feb 2016 Graphic

     
    March
    21

     
    March
    30

    home prices in the next five years

     

    Today, many real estate conversations center on housing prices and where they may be headed. That is why we like the Home Price Expectation Survey.

    Every quarter, Pulsenomics surveys a nationwide panel of over one hundred economists, real estate experts and investment & market strategists about where they believe prices are headed over the next five years. They then average the projections of all 100+ experts into a single number.

    The results of their latest survey:

    Home values will appreciate by 3.9% by the end of 2015, 3.4% in 2016 and 3.1% in each of the following four years (as shown below). That means the average annual appreciation will be 3.2% over the next 5 years.

    Projected Mean Appreciation | Keeping Current Matters

    The prediction for cumulative appreciation rose from 18.1% to 21.6% by 2020. Even the experts making up the most bearish quartile of the survey still are projecting a cumulative appreciation of 13.8%.

    Cumulative House Appreciation | Keeping Current Matters

    Bottom Line

    Individual opinions make headlines. We believe the survey is a fairer depiction of future values.

    March
    2

    how to get the most money from sale of your house title graphicEvery homeowner wants to make sure they maximize the financial reward when selling their home. But, how do you guarantee that you receive maximum value for your house? Here are two keys to insuring you get the highest price possible.

    1. Price it a LITTLE LOW

    This may seem counterintuitive. However, let's look at this concept for a moment. Many homeowners think that pricing their home a little OVER market value will leave them room for negotiation. In actuality, this just dramatically lessens the demand for your house. (see chart)

    Impact of Price on Visibility | Keeping Current Matters

    Instead of the seller trying to 'win' the negotiation with one buyer, they should price it so demand for the home is maximized. In that way, the seller will not be fighting with a buyer over the price but instead will have multiple buyers fighting with each other over the house.

    In a recent article on realtor.com, they gave this advice:

    "Aim to price your property at or just slightly below the going rate. Today's buyers are highly informed, so if they sense they're getting a deal, they're likely to bid up a property that's slightly underpriced, especially in areas with low inventory."

    2. Use a Real Estate Professional

    This too may seem counterintuitive. The seller may think they would net more money if they didn't have to pay a real estate commission. Yet, studies have shown that typically homes sell for more money when handled by a real estate professional.

    Recent research posted by the Economists' Outlook Blog revealed:

    "The median selling price for all FSBO homes was $210,000 last year. When the buyer knew the seller in FSBO sales, the number sinks to the median selling price of $151,900. However, homes that were sold with the assistance of an agent had a median selling price of $249,000 – nearly $40,000 more for the typical home sale."

    Median Selling Price FSBO vs Agent | Keeping Current Matters

    Bottom Line

    Price it at or slightly below the current market value and hire a professional. That will guarantee you maximize the price you get for your house.

    May
    25

    house still hasn't sold? take a look at priceThe residential housing market has been hot. Home sales have bounced back solidly and are now at their second highest pace since February 2007. Demand remains strong going into the winter. Many real estate professionals are reporting that multiple offers are occurring regularly and listings are actually selling above listing price. What about your house?

    If your house hasn't sold, it is probably the price.

    If your home is on the market and you are not receiving any offers, look at your price. Pricing your home just 10% above market value dramatically cuts the number of prospective buyers that will even see your house. (See Chart)

    Proper Pricing Pyramid | Keeping Current Matters

    Bottom Line

    The housing market is hot. If you are not seeing results you want, sit down with your agent and revisit the pricing conversation.

     
    May
    11

    selling home negotiate

    Now that the market has showed signs of recovery, some sellers may be tempted to try and sell their home on their own (FSBO) without using the services of a real estate professional.

    Real estate agents are trained and experienced in negotiation. In most cases, the seller is not. The seller must realize their ability to negotiate will determine whether they can get the best deal for themselves and their family.

    Here is a list of some of the people with whom the seller must be prepared to negotiate if they decide to FSBO:

    • The buyer who wants the best deal possible
    • The buyer's agent who solely represents the best interest of the buyer
    • The buyer's attorney (in some parts of the country)
    • The home inspection companies, which work for the buyer and will almost always find some problems with the house.
    • The termite company if there are challenges
    • The buyer's lender if the structure of the mortgage requires the sellers' participation
    • The appraiser if there is a question of value
    • The title company if there are challenges with certificates of occupancy (CO) or other permits
    • The town or municipality if you need to get the COs permits mentioned above
    • The buyer's buyer in case there are challenges on the house your buyer is selling
    • Your bank in the case of a short sale

    Bottom Line

    The percentage of sellers who have hired a real estate agent to sell their home has increased steadily over the last 20 years. Meet with a professional in your local market to see the difference they can make in easing the process.