Most Essential Home Features for Buyers

Last week we talked about older homes and renovation loans. In conjunction with that topic, we thought it would be interesting to take a look at what home features new home buyers and future home buyers would consider the most essential in their house hunts.

When you’re looking to renovate your home, or perhaps are getting a renovation loan to remodel the new home you’re buying, it is always important to not only think of what you like and want, but what other buyers might like and want when you go to re-sell your home someday. You may not believe this is applicable to you if you plan to stay in your home for the rest of your life, but you never know what life will throw at you and it is always best to be prepared. Perhaps you will get a sudden job relocation and have to move, or decide to move to be closer to your family and grandchildren? Whatever the case, never say never.

With that in mind, here are some of the high-priority home features The National Association of Realtors (NAR) found that buyers today have on their checklists when looking for a new home:

  1. Laundry Room
  2. Energy Star Windows
  3. Patio
  4. Energy Star Appliances
  5. Ceiling Fans
  6. Garage Storage
  7. Exterior Lighting
  8. Walk-in Pantry
  9. Hardwood Flooring
  10. Double Kitchen Sink
  11. Energy-Star in the whole house

As you can see, most of the home features on this list might not be ones we would think of first. While having things such as an updated kitchen and bathrooms, new flooring, and fresh coats of paint are nice, they weren’t in the top ten high-priority features among buyers. What buyers really seem to care about are things that help them save money on utility costs, give them extra storage in the home, and help make the outdoor living of the home better.

Talking about utility costs, NAR states, “While consumers may rank certain energy-saving features highly, they may not be motivated to pay more for them. Sixty-eight percent of consumers said they are concerned about the environment and would like an environment friendly home, but they were not willing to pay extra for one. However, when asked if they would pay more for a home to save $1,000 a year in utilities, the responses changed. Forty-six percent of respondents said they’d pay an average of $1,000 to $9,999 more for a home to save $1,000 per year on their utility bills; 37 percent would pay $10,000 or more.”

This is definitely something to keep in mind if replacing your appliances is on your list of things to do or to budget for in your home renovation.

Other features that ranked high among buyers in this survey included:

  1. An open layout where kitchen and dining room are open
  2. Wash and dryer on first floor
  3. 9-foot ceilings on first floor
  4. Want 2 – 2 ½ bathrooms

In conclusion, if you are thinking about renovating your home or getting a renovation loan in your new home purchase, you might want to consider these features. These are what other buyers find desirable and would perhaps pay more money for, which would maximize on your investment when you sell one day. We aren’t saying spend all of your renovation money on these things – you have to make your home your own and do the things that you want as well – but keep them in mind when considering what’s really important and where perhaps a portion of your budget should go.

Why Buyers and Sellers Shouldn’t Trust Online Real Estate Price Estimates

Whether you’re looking to buy or sell a home, chances are you’ve looked at a few real estate websites to see what the market is like out there right now. A lot of these sites, while very helpful in other ways, can tend to be a bit misleading when it comes to prices.

If you’re a buyer, these sites take the price the home is listed for and then break it down to give you an estimate of what your monthly mortgage might be. While sites like Zillow and Trulia state that these numbers are just estimates, a lot of times people see them and believe that is truly what they will have to pay monthly, and have hope they would be able to afford the home they’re looking at. These mortgage estimate numbers can be wrong because it doesn’t take into account how much of a down payment you will be paying, which can vary depending on your loan and loan program you’re using, or how much you can afford. Some loan programs are as low as 0% down payment, while others require the 20% customary down payment. Another reason these numbers might not be accurate is that money such as taxes and Escrow payments that get tacked onto your monthly mortgage may vary greatly depending on when you buy.

So then, what should you do if you are a buyer trying to figure out what you can afford? We recommend first speaking to a lender and getting prequalified to buy. This will not cost you anything and it will give you an accurate dollar amount of what you can afford in a home and in a monthly mortgage payment.

If you’re a soon to be seller, you go on these sites to look at what they’re predicting your home might be worth. Sites like Trulia, Zillow, and Realtor will have an estimate of what a home is worth when you look up the address, and this may be a number you look at to help you determine what your home is worth. The problem with these numbers is often times they are derived from automated valuation models and can be very inaccurate. What your home is worth depends entirely on what kind of real estate market you are in (because it varies from town to town), what your home looks like compared to other homes, the amount of land you have, upgrades done, and so much more!

What we suggest for people looking to sell their home is calling a real estate agency. Most agencies will do a CMA for free. A CMA is a Comparative Market Analysis, which compares your home to others like it that have sold in the area with similar criteria (area, year built, number of bedrooms, upgrades, etc). This will hopefully give you a very accurate idea of what your home is worth and what you can list it for rather than just having a guesstimate.

We don’t want to shoot down the real estate sites we love, we are just saying to read what even they say on their websites… that those numbers are estimates and can be inaccurate and not precise depending on your home, your situation, and so many things. For more accurate numbers, follow our tips above about seeing a lender or contacting an agency.

If you need help with either of those things, we would love to assist! You can call our office today at 928-771-111 to speak to an agent about helping you get pre-qualified or creating a CMA for your home to find out how much it could be worth.

Frequently Asked Questions by Sellers

When it comes time to put your home on the market, there are many things sellers begin to ask themselves. We’re going to take a look at some of the most frequently asked questions by sellers and give you some advice from what we’ve found to be true in our collective years of real estate experience.

What do I need to do to my house before I list it?

The answer to this question is really on a case by case basis, but for the most part, sellers do not need to do a ton of work to their homes before they list. While many sellers can get very anxious and worried about all the things they imagine they’ll need to do to their home, most only require a good cleaning and perhaps a little staging, but that’s it. There is no need to drop a lot of money into your home in order to get it ready because that is money you may not get back when you sell. Unless otherwise advised by your real estate agent, the preparation to list is minimal.

How much is my home worth?

This is a question no good real estate agent should answer without first seeing your home and running what we call a comparative market analysis. A comparative market analysis, or “CMA” as we call it, looks at houses that have sold in your area that are similar to your own in order to generate a good price point for your home. This price will depend on many factors including the home’s size, neighborhood, location, amenities, upgrades, and so much more. Many sellers believe there home is the best home on the block, which it may very well be, but prepare yourself to be realistic about how nice your home is compared to others because you don’t want to overprice it. If you price your home too high, then it will likely sit on the market for far longer than you expected. However, if you price your home too low, then you aren’t maximizing on your investment the way you could be. Therefore, make sure you speak with an agent and listen to their advice so you can collectively land on a good price for your home.

How long will it take to sell my home?

According to Realtor.com, homes in the United States are spending an average of eighty-three days on the market. However, again, the answer to this question will vary greatly depending on the home. Some areas that are nicer sell far quicker than others, likewise, certain price points, no matter the home, will sell quicker than others. There are far too many factors here to have a cut and dry answer, so we would urge you again to speak to your real estate agent to make sure you are at the best price possible to make good on your investment, but to also sell relatively quickly.

Should I be present for showings of my home?

Most real estate agents would agree on this one when we say, “No.” When buyers go looking at homes, it can be either a very fun experience, or a very stressful one, either way, having the owner of the home at the house will only make the buyers feel uncomfortable. With the seller there, the buyers don’t feel free to be themselves, ask questions about the property to their agent, or voice any concerns they have as they view the property. The last thing you want is to scare off any potential buyers and their offers on your home with them, so it’s best to stay away.

How much do I pay my real estate agent?

This is something that can vary depending on the agency and town, but that will be something you and your agent discuss and agree upon before listing your home. A common commission is typically 6% of the home’s sales price, which is then shared with the buyer’s agent, giving each side of the transaction a 3% commission of the sale’s price. That may seem like a lot, but you have to keep in mind that agents don’t get paid by the hour, they get paid from sales. So, they don’t make money unless they sell your home. They are spending a lot of time and money networking, and advertising your home so it is seen by as many potential buyers as possible. However, not all agents are created equal, so make sure you find the right agent for you who will truly seek your best interest and do whatever they can to help you sell your home.

 

In all of your real estate adventures, remember to breath and take it easy. Find yourself a good agent who will make your transaction smooth and stress free, and not one full of fear and anxiety.

If you’re looking to list your home, you could call our office today for a free Comparative Market Analysis! Our number is 928-771-1111. We would love to help you sell your home!

Purchasing a Fixer Upper: Things to Consider Before Buying

On television today, there are so many different fixer upper shows that it is hard to keep track. With these shows growing in popularity – show hosts taking that beaten up old home on the corner and turning it into their clients dream home – the purchase of fixer upper properties around the country have become increasingly common. Who doesn’t want to buy a home for pennies on the dollar and turn it into the home they’ve always dreamed of while still remaining under their budget?

However, when it comes to purchasing a fixer upper home, not all of them are created equal. While some offer the opportunity to create your dream home while also having a ton of appreciation, other fixer uppers become monster projects that do nothing but steal your money (ever seen the movie “The Money Pit”?). So, how do you know the difference?

Here are some issues to think about first when considering buying a fixer upper home.

  1. Is the home in a bad neighborhood?:

There’s a saying in the real estate industry that states, “Location, location, location,” which is why this is the number one thing you need to consider when purchasing a fixer upper. On the television network HGTV’s website they state, “When it comes to renovating, almost anything can be done if you’ve got the budget, but there’s one thing you’ll never be able to change – location. If the house is located next to a sewage treatment plant or in a high-crime area, it doesn’t matter what you do to the property, it’s automatically unappealing to most buyers.” While you might see the potential in the home, you always have to think of resale, or what living would be like in the home if you are purchasing it as an investment property. Would another person want to buy or rent in that area/neighborhood, or say for example, in a flood area? If the answer is no, then it’s probably not a good idea for you to either.

  1. Is the home structurally sound?:

This one seems like a no brainer, but you would be surprised. When it comes to fixer uppers, a general rule you want to follow is making sure the home’s structure is more or less intact. There is a very large difference – in money – between some new cabinets and fresh coats of paint, and a home in such disarray that you move from a home makeover to a major home renovation. Forbes magazine said it well when they said, “If the home has structural or foundational issues, but the ‘lipstick on the pig’ looks good, then it’s too good to be true.” One idea is to bring along a home inspector with you to look at properties if you’re looking at fixer uppers. Though this might cost some money upfront, it could also save you a lot of money in the long run if they unearth any large structural issues.

With a fixer upper, there may also be larger ticket items that need attention like replacing the HVAC unit, putting on a new roof, or updating the plumbing. None of those are terribly horrible like a faulty foundation or structure, but are still more costly. So, make sure you ask yourself how far you are willing to go in renovating whatever fixer upper property you end up purchasing. Are you looking for that home in need of minor upgrades such as flooring and cabinets, or are you okay with a larger renovation project?

  1. Will the cost of renovating the home be too great to make a profit?:

If you’re looking to buy and flip a fixer upper in order to resell and make a profit, this is definitely something you need to be thinking about! For example, if you buy a home for $150,000, put $50,000 worth of renovations into it, but can only sell the home for $190,000, then you are out 10k on that project, not to mention closing costs! On top of that, you have to look at other homes in the area. What are they selling for? Will the amount of renovations you want to do to the home, and therefore the price at which you need to list in order to remake that money, be too expensive for that neighborhood? If so, then you might end up having to sell for way less than what you were originally asking for and what you need to profit in order to get your money back.

 

If you’re looking to purchase a fixer upper home either for yourself, or to flip and resell, these are just a few of things you should think about first. Fixer Upper home projects can be great! You get to create the home you’ve always wanted, or flip a home to make it a dream for someone else while making a profit for yourself, but don’t forget to use caution!

In this next fixer upper adventure we wish you happy hunting and good luck!

Home Remodeling: Which Projects Are Worth It?

With home prices on the rise not only in Arizona, but also in almost every state, a lot of sellers have begun to opt for home remodels rather than selling their home. Or, they’ve decided to invest some money into upgrading their homes in hopes it will bring a good return when they do go to sell. Either way, any homeowner looking to do some remodeling must ask themselves this question: which projects are the most essential in increasing the value of my home?

While some may have the funds to do not only the maintenance to their homes, but also the expensive upgrades, in most cases we are left choosing between the new kitchen we’ve been dreaming of or replacing the old roof that is only going to last a few more years. So, the question is, which do you go for? The cosmetic upgrades to make your home more appealing to the eye, or the general maintenance that isn’t as easily noticed, but is often vital to the longevity of your home?

In most circumstances, realtors and contractors would agree that when it comes to choosing your projects for updating your home, the most important ones to tackle first are the ones that upgrade your home in its structural maintenance.

In Remodeling Magazine, the upgrades on homes that received the most money back for the value were projects such as replacing the siding (a 92.8% recoup) and replacing roofs and windows (an 80% recoup).

That isn’t what most of us want to hear, especially if we plan on staying in our homes and all we can think about is tossing those dirty kitchen cabinets or worn down carpets, and putting in nice wood. However, when you think about it realistically, it makes sense.

If you are staying in your home, you will spend all that hard saved money on a new kitchen, only to be hit with a larger bill a few years down the road when the roof or siding needs to be replaced.

For those selling sooner rather than later, it does not matter if the kitchen is sparkling new with granite counters and a farm tub sink, if there are too many big general repairs to be done, buyers will stay away. For example, the buyers may love the new kitchen you’ve installed, but if the roof is old and leaking, or the HVAC unit is at the end of its life, they will be scared away, or they’ll end up asking for those high end repairs at the end of the inspection period, at which point they could choose to walk away.

While Remodeling Magazine also showed that remodels such as minor kitchen updates (about $15,000 worth) also brought in about a 92.8% return on cost, in most cases, it’s the maintenance repairs that bring the most return on cost and that buyers would prefer to be done. These updates make sure the home is structurally sound and will last without a sudden tens of thousands of dollars repair.

No fancy kitchen is worth a faulty foundation or dilapidated roof, and most buyers will agree.

Moving Into A New Home Checklist

If you’re looking to buy or sell a home in 2019, then you’ve got some moving to do in your near future. With moving can come a lot of unwanted stress and anxiety as all the things in your home seem to expand and multiply. However, this process doesn’t need to be a dreaded one. With the proper preparation and help, packing and moving will become far easier than you ever thought it could be. To help you out, here is a checklist from our friends over at A&C Brothers Moving and Storage by Amanda Schultz. Hopefully their knowledge and experience on the subject will allow you to breathe a little easier as you apply their tips in your next home move.

Moving Into A New Home Checklist:

Mentally keeping track of all the things you have to do when relocating can be tough. When transferring to a new place, forgetting anything can spell the difference between a smooth move and a stressful one. That’s why drawing up a checklist is one of the smartest things you can do when you’re about to move to a new home.

A good moving into a new home checklist should contain the following:

A list of moving companies

Write down the names of at least three moving companies, because it’s not wise to hire one on the spot, without any research or comparison with other movers.

A detailed budget

It’s easy to go overboard on packing materials, various fees, and other expenses when you have no budget to follow. So always have a budget prepared so you won’t spend more than is appropriate.

Your new home’s measurements

If you’ve already been to the house you’re moving into, make sure you take measurements of its interior. That way, you’d know which things of yours would fit right in, and which ones won’t.

A list of moving supplies to buy

The moving supplies you need may vary, so it’s best to take stock of your things and list down the moving supplies that you have to buy. Bubble wrap, for example, is a must if you have lots of fragile stuff. And while it’s alright to recycle old boxes, newer boxes are typically sturdier and therefore will protect your things better while in transit.

A list of essentials

You need toothbrushes, a clean change of clothes, things for a baby if you have one, and medications for your bag of essentials, which you must prepare if you don’t want to end up digging into various packed boxes once you need any of them.

These are just some of the various things that your checklist must contain before getting the services of a moving company. While moving can be stressful, having a checklist to follow should at least reduce the stress that comes with it.

Using a Real Estate Agent VS. For Sale By Owner

When looking to sell real estate, one of the first questions one asks is, “Should I use a real estate agent?”

While it might be tempting to forgo an agent in order to save money, and people often think “How much do they really do anyway?”- using a real estate agent could be one of the best choices you make in your future home sales, and we aren’t just being biased.

Statistics show that selling your home with the help of a real estate professional will get you a higher profit in the end – enough to cover the commission as well as put more money in your pocket. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), in 2017, “for sale by owner” (also known as FSBO) homes accounted for only 7% of home sales. On top of that, the average FSBO home sold for $200,000, compared to $265,500 for agent assisted home sales (www.nar.realtor). That’s a $65,500 difference!

Though marketing and selling your home may seem like a breeze, there is actually a lot of work and thought that go into what real estate professionals do. Here are three main points to consider when debating on whether you should sell your home FSBO or use a real estate agent:

  • First off there is setting a price for your home. When you do this yourself, you run the danger of either 1) setting the price to low, therefore cutting the earnings you could have potentially made, or 2) setting the price too high and having your home sit on the market for FAR too long, which makes the home look bad and will make buyers hesitant about it when you drop the price later on.

These two things often happen because those who put their homes on the market as FSBO try to use an online assessment tool to gage their home price, which are not reliable, or go off what neighbors claim they were offered. The real estate market varies and changes constantly, and when you use an agent to sell your home, you are getting someone who works in the fluctuating market on a daily basis. They will have the best knowledge and experience to price your home at just the right spot to ensure you get the most for your home.

  • Another issue with doing a FSBO is that marketing your home is not as easy as it looks. You may have it on a few social media sites and listing websites, however, your home is unlikely to get the amount of exposure it needs – the amount it gets with a real estate agency – without using an agent.

For example, as opposed to a few websites when listing a home FSBO, when a seller lists their home with the Kathleen Yamauchi Group, we market their home in all of the following ways: professional photography, distinctive signage, short message service (SMS) sign riders, our website kathleeny.com, matterport 3D video tours, print in Homes and Land Magazine, print in Prescott Woman Magazine, realtor.com, zillow.com, trulia.com, tourfactory.com, homesandland.com, listhub.com, point2.com, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, and the multiple listing services (MLS) in both Prescott and Phoenix.

When it comes to people marketing their home on their own, or with us, there is no comparison. We want your home to be exposed and viewable in as many places as possible to ensure we find a buyer, and we do everything we can to do that because we want to help you!

  • Lastly, one of the main reasons to use a real estate agent over listing your home as FSBO is the paperwork. Unless you have a background in contracts or law, this part of the transaction tends to get tricky. While every transaction has a contract, there can also be counter offers, the HOA Addendum, Lead Based Paint Disclosure, Seller Disclosures, any Addendums to change contract terms, Solar Lease Addendum, Buyer Contingency Addendum, Additional Clause Addendum, and more. Every transaction is different and you never know what you might need, but you will want to make sure that you are covered legally on every aspect of selling your home. If you use an agent, they will take care of everything for you, explain everything to you, and all you have to do is sign when you’re ready. This will help you avoid any liability and makes sure you will not open yourself up to any future lawsuits.

At the Kathleen Yamauchi Group, we seek to do all of the above for you and more! We want to make your real estate transaction as easy, stress-free, and painless as possible. We put your needs first, seek your best interest, and strive to remain a level of professionalism above reproach. With over fifty years of collective real estate experience, hearts that seek to help our client’s dreams come true and to continually improve ourselves, and a kindness and character that far outweigh the rest, you will not be disappointed with us.

If you’re interested in selling your home or looking to buy, check out our website at kathleeny.com, or give us a call at 928-771-1111. You could even stop by our office at 600 E. Gurley St, Suite A. We are open Mon-Sat from 9AM-5PM and Sunday from 11AM-3PM. We would love to talk to you, get to know you, and see how we can help you with your next real estate adventure!

 

 

 

Tips to Winterize Your Home in Prescott

As the temperatures drop and we patiently await our first snow – not just the flurries, but the kind that sticks – now is a good time to look at precautions to take in order to winterize your home in Prescott.

While don’t get as much snow as other places such as Flagstaff just north of us, or Colorado’s white winters, we still get some chilling temperatures and blizzards that can wreak havoc on unprepared homes. Burst pipes, inadequate insulation to keep in heat and save energy, a furnace that cannot keep up with the freeze, and many other things.

Below is a blog from Talking Rock Ranch Realty featuring our agencies very own Sheila Mengarelli on how to winterize your home this season. Take a look at her tips and tricks, and make sure your home is properly equipped for the cold months – and hopefully snows – still to come!

 

Realtor Series: Winterize your Home

December 13, 2018

Tips to Winterize your Prescott Home

By Sheila Mengarelli, realtor at Kathleen Yamauchi group

As part of our ongoing Realtor Tips series, we asked one of our expert realtors, Sheila Mengarelli, to share some tips about living in Prescott. She lives right around the corner from Talking Rock.

Keep your family snug and warm while saving on energy bills during the winter months by following the winterizing tips below. Prescott experiences freezing temperatures from November through March, so be prepared. With a forecast of a wetter-than-normal winter predicted, these tips will help protect your home from damage that can lead to costly repairs.

  • Service your Furnace– Have your furnace serviced fall and spring by a local HVAC company to keep you high and dry.

 

  • Change the filters— Don’t forget to change the filter in your furnace. When you put the first furnace filter of the season in, don’t forget to set your digital calendar to remind you to replace it at monthly intervals throughout the cold season.

 

  • Inspect your Gutters– Clogged gutters can cause water that is blocked to freeze and seep into your home. Take the time to clean them out and make sure that your downspouts are carrying the water away and not toward your house.

 

  • Repair drafts– Electrical outlets, door frames, windows, and recessed lighting areas typically tend to be drafty. Sealing up these areas can save on your energy bill. Simply use a wet hand, or incense, to move over the areas to spot potential leaks.

 

  • Check your insulation– Attics require 12 inches of insulation. Moisture problems can occur if your insulation has backing paper, so take the time to do an inspection.

 

  • Check for any exposed pipes outside– Pipes must be insulated from the cold too. Not only does it keep the pipes from freezing, it will prevent condensation from freezing on them, helping to save on energy bills. Make sure any drip systems are drained and water spickets are off.

 

  • Vacation — Will you be away for an extended period of time? Never turn your furnace off. Set it at 50 degrees. This will keep your home at a steady temperature no matter what the weather brings. It’s also a good idea to set your water heater to vacation or away mode

 

  • Check your smokealarm – While you are inspecting so many other aspects of your home, don’t forget to make sure that your smoke alarms are all functioning, and replace the batteries as needed. Also, make sure that you have a functioning fire extinguisher as well.

 

To view the full article, you can visit Talking Rock Ranch’s blog by clicking here.