Friday, August 30, 2013

7 Alternatives to Your Formal Dining Room

A lot of homes have a designated formal dining room and it's a space that buyers today still look for; but many families only use their dining room three or four times a year.  People transform spare bedrooms into craft rooms, home offices, why do we feel obligated to keep a formal dining room that we never use? Break the mold and start using the space your home has to offer in whatever way you like.

Need some inspiration? Here are seven alternative uses of a dining room:

Elkridge Interior Designers & Decorators AFP Interiors LLC
1. Home Office-  Be free to work from home without commandeering the kitchen table. You could even class it up a bit and meet clients there if you like!

2. Lounge/Bar- Take your entertaining to the next level and add a wet bar, lounge seating, and nice stereo system.
Charleston Architects & Designers Frederick 

3. Morning cafe/Command center-  Need more space for backpacks, printers, files, Add a cafe table to sort mail, read       the paper, write out the family calendar, and       enjoy your morning cup of coffee.

    4. Guest room- If there is room for a dining       table, there is probably space a bed.  You             could even use a Murphy Bed and make your     new guest room multi-functional!

     5. Play/game/media room- Toys and game        systems no longer need to clutter the family        room. They can have a room of their own!          Add a table for crafts and puzzles...or maybe      a pool table.

     6. Library/Reading room- Add open shelving      and create a tranquil sanctuary filled with          your favorite reading chair. And don't forget      a side table for your tea.

     7. Hobby room- need a place for that "thing"      you do?  A music room, meditation room,          craft room, studio space, or even a rec room.      It's your space, use it however you want!

But wait...before you drag the dining room table to the curb, there are a few things you should consider. Make sure you have a strongly defined purpose for the room, first and foremost, or the space will likely become the spot for all those things that don't have a spot. You can have a junk drawer, but you don't need a whole room. Second, think about any structural changes you may need to make. Do you need to have storage or shelving made, electrical run, or doors added to the room for privacy? Finally, consider the room's location within your house.  How will it look to visitors as they walk by?  If the room is open to the kitchen, it may not be the best place for a guest room... Think about it and make a plan before you move forward. Then, start really living in your home!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Find the "Right" Agent Before the "Right" Home

What Buyers Want.pngIt’s a common practice for buyers to make a list of what they want in a home during the search process and to explain it to their agent. However, maybe the first list they should make would have the skills they want their agent to have.

The Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers identifies what buyers want most from their agents and as you’d expect, help with finding the right home was ranked highest most often. While it is important, it may not be the most unique of the desired area of expertise.

Equally essential to the success of the transaction are the combination of help with price and terms negotiations and assistance with the paperwork, comparable sales, qualifying and financing.

To summarize the responses in the survey, Buyers want help from their agents with two things: to find the right home and to get it at the right price and terms. Some agents are actually better equipped with tools and acquired knowledge to assist buyers with financial advice and negotiations.

Since an owner’s cost of housing is dependent on the price paid for the home and financing, a real estate professional skilled in these specialized areas can be invaluable in finding the “right” home. An agent’s experience and connections to allied professionals and service providers is irreplaceable.

Ask the agent representing you to specifically list the tools and talent they have to address these areas.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Spotlight Listing: 7711 Winding Creek Ct.

Mayberry Homes is known for its quality construction and elegant styling; and this gorgeous house is a perfect example of their high standards.  Built in 2012, the home has only had one owner and is in perfect condition.  It offers four bedrooms, two and a half baths, and 2,400 square feet of living space.  You wont find another new-construction home that offers such a lengthy list of amenities at this price.

Just inside the beautiful entryway, the open foyer leads into the main level living space. More than simply a 19x17ft. living room, this area exemplifies Mayberry's beautiful craftsmanship. It features textured ceiling beams, expansive windows, and a cozy gas fireplace with mantle.

The gorgeous kitchen has room for everyone and is conveniently located off the mud room and garage entrance to the home.  Maple cabinets, stainless steel appliances, granite counter tops, and a fabulous island will make the perfect backdrop for years of family gatherings.

Between the living room and kitchen is a spacious dining area, making entertaining a breeze. The sliding glass doors allow in natural light and offer easy access to the deck and backyard.  If you prefer a more formal dining room or are looking for an in-home office, library or tv room, the main floor has a flex room which is perfectly suited for any of these options.

The second level holds all four of the bedrooms as well as a laundry room (no more hauling clothes up and down the stairs) and loft family room.  The master bedroom has walk in a closet and attached private bath.  His and her sinks, tile bathtub surround, and a separate water closet make this a relaxing escape from busy life.  The other three bedrooms are at least 12x13ft. each and share a full bath off the upstairs hallway.

This gorgeous home has a Five Star Energy 3.0 efficiency rating and, because it is so new, most of its warranties still apply.  It is priced competitively to the new construction homes in the neighborhood and looks as if it has never been lived in at all.  It certainly will not last long on the market, so call Logan Richetti today for your private showing! You can also see more pictures of the house in this Virtual Tour.

A Home is More Than an Address

iStock_000006174018XSmall.jpgA home is a place to call your own, raise your family, share with your friends and feel safe and secure. It is also one of the largest investments most people have.

Leverage is the ability to control a larger asset with a smaller amount of cash through the use of borrowed funds. It has been described as using other people’s money to increase your yield and it applies to homeowners and investors alike. Positive leverage causes the yield to increase as the loan-to-value increases. 

Even a modest amount of appreciation combined with the amortization of a loan can cause a substantial rate of return on the down payment and closing costs.

Homes build equity as the price goes up due to appreciation and the unpaid balance goes down due to amortization. 

Leveraged Investment.png







The example above indicates the yield on a home considering 3% acquisition costs on the home with a 4.5% mortgage rate and the resulting equity at the end of five years. The different down payments will affect the yield based on the leverage effect. 

Whether you rent or buy the home you live in, you pay for what you occupy. The question a person is faced with is whether they are going to buy it for themselves or their landlord. Take a look at the cost of Renting vs. Owning.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Midland Market Update

Earlier this month, Chris Isidore wrote in an article for CNN Money that "..a year ago, the index posted a 12-month decline in prices". He was referencing the national housing index which measures prices in the 20 largest markets in the US. Isidore went on to say, "But prices have increased every month since June 2012, and each month the increase has been greater than the month before".  Reports similar to this have been circulating in national news quite a bit lately, so we thought we'd crunch the local numbers for you.

In 2005, the Midland Board of REALTORS© reported an average price of $144,025 for single family homes. In 2008, the average sale price was $141,491; and in 2012 is was $140,425. This year to date, there has been an average sale price of $144,418. There are certainly a lot of factors that play into this data, but we are cautiously optimistic. Locally, we are experiencing some of the price recovery that is being talked about nationally.  Shelley Park Cluff, Broker Owner of Park Place Homes, said "I wouldn't go so far as to say that the market is back, but I would say that we're starting to see good signs of recovery in many areas".  The graph pictured here shows the trend in the average sale price of single family homes in Midland county from 2005 through August of 2013.

Recovery, of course, is not universal.  Certain price ranges, and even certain neighborhoods, are experiencing recovery at different rates.  The only way to know what your home may currently be worth is to speak with a qualified professional.  Call Park Place Homes anytime for your free, no obligation home valuation.  Our REALTORS© are always available to assist you.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Get Regular Check-ups

Following his heart surgery last week, after an issue was discovered during his annual physical, President George W. Bush encouraged everyone to get regular check-ups. annual advisory.png

Another important checkup that should be done on a regular basis and can be just as beneficial for your finances is an annual homeowner advisory. Why would you treat your investment in your home with less care than you treat your car or even your HVAC system?

Consider investigating the following:

• Know the value of your home by obtaining a list of comparable sales in your immediate area as well as what is currently on the market for sale.

• Have you compared your assessed value for tax purposes to the fair market value in order to possibly reduce your property taxes?

• Even if you’ve refinanced in the last two years, can you save money and recapture the cost of refinancing in the time you plan to remain in your home?

• Have you considered reducing your mortgage debt with low-earning cash reserves that will not be needed in the near future?

• Have you considered investing in rental homes in good neighborhoods to increase your yields and avoid the volatility of the stock market?

• Recommendations of repairmen and other service providers from a trusted source who deals with them more frequently than you do.

Our goal is to create a lifelong relationship to help you be better homeowners. We want to be your “go to” person whenever you have a real estate question. We want to help you not only when you buy and sell but all of the years in between.

We want to provide good, consumer-based information about homeownership on a regular basis through email and social networking. If it benefits you by helping you be a better homeowner, hopefully, you’ll consider us your real estate professional for life.

Anytime you or your friends need help, please call. Knowing where to get the answer is just as important as knowing the answer. If you’d like information on any of the items we suggested, please let us know.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Where Is It Invested?

iStock_000007485701XSmall.jpgYou’ve saved for a rainy day or retirement. Congratulations but don’t get too comfortable yet; where is it invested? It’s estimated that over 25% of Americans have their long-term savings in cash instead of investments like stocks, bonds or real estate.

The memories of the financial crisis of 2008 are recent enough to understand why some people may want to avoid the stock market and real estate. Even though Wall Street and housing have rebounded considerably, uncertain investors are sitting on their cash. However, trying to avoid a bad decision can have serious costs too.

If your money is not earning at least at the current inflation rate, you’re losing the purchasing power of your dollars. estimates the average money-market deposit yields 0.11% and the average five-year certificate of deposit currently yields 0.78%.

Rents are continuing to rise and there is a shortage of good, affordable housing. Single family homes have a significant advantage over many other types of investments. They have high loan-to-value mortgages available at fixed interest rates for long-terms on appreciating assets with distinct tax advantages.

The cash flows are considered to be one of the most attractive features of rental properties. Some investors think of it as a growth stock that pays substantial dividends. In the example shown below, a $125,000 rental with an 80% loan-to-value mortgage at 5% that rents for $1,250 per month, has a positive cash flow before taxes of $3,000 a year.

The rate of return on rental property can be substantially higher than other investments while allowing the investor control that isn’t available in alternatives.

Rental Property.png

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Mr. Whiskers Isn't Helping.

Potential buyers will just love charming Mr. Whiskers.  
He's so fluffy, adorable, and friendly. He could never make a potential buyer uncomfortable!

  We hate to burst your bubble...but you may be living in Real Estate La La Land if you think that your pet isn't having an effect on how well your house is showing. You want buyers to be able to envision themselves in the space; which is why your REALTOR© likely suggested that you take down family pictures and stage your home to feel neutral and inviting. You do not want anything to distract a potential buyer- including a pet.

Why Mr. Whiskers isn't helping your home sell:

  • Not all people are animal lovers, and even those that are may not be interested in having your pet stalk them around the house or enjoy listening to it bark through the entire showing. Some people have a fear of certain animals and, rational or irrational, it will effect how they feel while looking at your house.
  • Pets are unpredictable- especially when strangers are roaming around their territory and you're not around. A nervous pet can lead to unpleasant surprises and unfortunate experiences. If potential buyers may be uncomfortable because of your pet, and your pet may be uncomfortable because of potential buyers, well then maybe you should remove the pet from the equation.
  • Pets in the home can raise questions about home maintenance and cleanliness. Are there unseen carpet stains or lingering odors? Did Fido leave chew marks on the door frames or cupboards? We completely understand that many pets are well trained, well behaved, and that their owners maintain their homes properly- but your buyers do not know if you fit into that group. 
The Solution:
  Talk to your REALTOR© and be realistic about your options. If at all possible, take your pets for a walk or somehow remove them from the home during all showings. If that is not an option, put Fluffy in her crate and inform the showing agent that there is a pet in the home. It is better give a REALTOR© warning than to have them be surprised.

  Take steps to remove both physical and aromatic evidence of your four-legged friend.  Use a dry cleaning powder to remove odors from carpet, regularly air-out your home, and wash your pet's bed. Also consider having your pet professionally groomed. Just one good scrubbing can eliminate excess hair and smell. Remember that you may not notice the pet odor, but a non-pet owner will pick up on it instantly!
Finally, remove toys, beds, food dishes, and other pet possessions to help the buyer see your home and not your pet. Keep your buyers focused on the right thing- your house!