3 Ways to Make Your Home Worth More

3 Ways to Make Your Home Worth More

 

I truly enjoy sharing articles I find interesting – this one is in time for the Spring Real Estate Market. Enjoy – Sabrina

 

In its 10 years of existence, online real estate database Zillow (Z) has collected an unfathomable amount of information on housing prices. In the new book “Zillow Talk: The New Rules of Real Estate,” CEO Spencer Rascoff and chief economist Stan Humphries put that data to use by sharing ways to get the most value out of a home. “We’re interested in converting real estate from an area of folklore into fact,” Humphries told Yahoo Finance. He joined Jeff Macke to share some of his favorite tips for navigating today’s real estate market.

Redo the bathroom, not the kitchen

“It’s always been conventional wisdom that the best remodel you could do was the kitchen,” says Humphries. “We actually crunched an enormous amount of data…what we found is actually it’s the bathroom remodel that adds the most value to a house.”

According to Humphries it makes the most logical sense because with a bathroom remodel functionality is being added to the house whereas kitchen upgrades are often more about fashion.

According to Zillow’s data a mid-range $3,000 bathroom remodel results in a $1.71 increase in home value for every $1.00 spend on renovation.

Plus “when people come to stay with you, you’re going to be a lot happier that you have a nicer bathroom than kitchen.” Kitchen renovations offer among the lowest returns on investment. Both mid range and upscale work on the kitchen recover only about half of their investment.

Just don’t invest too much money in the bathroom, upscale $12,000 bathroom upgrades result only in an $0.87 increase in home value for every $1.00 spent.

Selling season

Home sales reach their peak in June, during the last week of that month residential real estate transactions are 40% higher than average. But when is the right time to list your home?

The home season starts to crank up in January and February, says Humphries. But to get the most bang for your buck you might want to list your house during the last two weeks of March. There’s a sharp spike in visitors making contact with real estate agents on Zillow beginning in mid-April and continuing into July.

Selling in the last weeks of March, before the peak in agent contacts and after the peak of newly listed homes in February puts your home in the sweet-spot where it’s likely to be seen quickly and not get lost within a flood of new listings.

Humphries writes to “put your home on the market after you fill out your NCAA March Madness basketball brackets, but before someone slips on an ivy-green jacket at the Masters Golf Tournament.”

Psychologically price your home

Ending your home price in a ‘9’ is incredibly beneficial, says Humphries. “If you were going to sell your house for $150,000, just pricing it down by $1000 and selling it for $149,000 ends up in you making $2175 more than you would if you priced it at $150,000.” The ‘9’ dynamic works for houses at all price-points.

In the majority of cases, home prices that end in a ‘9’ sell for more for a home of the same relative value that ends in a ‘0.’ The risk that the seller takes on by cutting their home price by $1,000 usually results in gaining more than $1,000 over asking.

psychological pricing also sold home faster– Zillow found that homes using ‘9’ in the thousands digit sold four days to one-week faster than those that didn’t.

 

I read this article at:

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/3-tips-for-saving-money-on-your-home-125820548.html

 

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Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.  

Email Sabrina & Susan at: Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Call us at: 650-568-5522

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Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

The Caton Team – Susan & Sabrina – A Family of Realtors

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices – Drysdale Properties

Sabrina BRE# 01413526 / Susan BRE #01238225 / Team BRE# 70000218/ Office BRE #01499008

 

Spring Design Trends for the Home

Spring Design Trends for the Home

 

Vibrant colors are in this spring. Home owners jazzing up their properties should consider switching out beige neutrals on the walls for cool grey hues and pale pastels. For a more fresh, modern look, complement rooms with bold-colored furnishings and warm metals.

Blush tones paired with masculine hues also are in style. Lighter wood is gaining popularity for furniture, countertops, and flooring, as it hides dents and scratches and complements soft natured paint colors.

Meanwhile, silver or steel hardware, fixtures, furniture, and decor are increasingly being replaced by gold. Personalization is also happening in the kitchen, with custom painted cabinetry; and more home owners are avoiding granite in favor of more resilient synthetic materials.

Source: “Spring Fever: Hot Home Trends This Season,” Realty Times (03/26/14)

I read this article at: http://realtormag.realtor.org/daily-news/2014/03/28/spring-design-trends-for-home?om_rid=AACmlZ&om_mid=_BTNeR7B85If-n9&om_ntype=RMODaily

Remember to follow our Blog at: https://therealestatebeat.wordpress.com/

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.  

Email Sabrina & Susan at: Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Call us at: 650-568-5522 Office: 650-365-9200

Want Real Estate Info on the Go? Download our FREE Real Estate App:  http://thecatonteam.com/mobileapp

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Connect with us professionally at LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=6588013&trk=tab_pro

Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

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Thanks for reading – Sabrina

The Caton Team – Susan & Sabrina – A Family of Realtors

Sabrina BRE# 01413526 / Susan BRE #01238225 / Team BRE#70000218/ Office BRE# 0149900

7 Smart Strategies for Kitchen Remodeling

7 Smart Strategies for Kitchen Remodeling

By: John Riha

Follow these 7 strategies to get the most financial gain on your kitchen remodel.

And if done right, a kitchen remodel can recoup much of its cost. Kitchen remodels in the $50,000 to $60,000 range recoup about 69% of the initial project cost when the home is sold.

A minor kitchen remodel of about $18,500 does even better, returning more than 75% of your investment, according to the most recent Cost vs. Value data from Remodeling magazine.

To maximize your return on investment, follow these 7 strategies to keep you on budget and help you make smart choices.

1. Plan, Plan, Plan

Planning your kitchen remodel should take more time than the actual construction. If you plan well, the amount of time you’re inconvenienced by construction mayhem will be minimized. Plus, you’re more likely to stay on budget.

 How much time should you spend planning? The National Kitchen and Bath Association recommends at least six months. That way, you won’t be tempted to change your mind during construction and create change orders, which will inflate construction costs and hurt your return on investment. 

Some tips on planning:

Study your existing kitchen: How wide is the doorway into your kitchen? It’s a common mistake many homeowners make: Buying the extra-large fridge only to find they can’t get it in the doorway. To avoid mistakes like this, create a drawing of your kitchen with measurements for doorways, walkways, counters, etc. And don’t forget height, too.

Think about traffic patterns: Work aisles should be a minimum of 42 inches wide and at least 48 inches wide for households with multiple cooks.

Design with ergonomics in mind: Drawers or pull-out shelves in base cabinets; counter heights that can adjust up or down; a wall oven instead of a range: These are all features that make a kitchen accessible to everyone — and a pleasure to work in.

Related: Test Your Ergonomic Design Knowledge

Plan for the unforeseeable: Even if you’ve planned down to the number of nails you’ll need in your remodel, expect the unexpected. Build in a little leeway for completing the remodel. Want it done by Thanksgiving? Then plan to be done before Halloween.

Choose all your fixtures and materials before starting: Contractors will be able to make more accurate bids, and you’ll lessen the risk of delays because of back orders.

Don’t be afraid to seek help: A professional designer can simplify your kitchen remodel. Pros help make style decisions, foresee potential problems, and schedule contractors. Expect fees around $50 to $150 per hour, or 5% to 15% of the total cost of the project.

More tips on planning a kitchen remodel:

Keep the same footprint
Get real about appliances
Don’t underestimate the power of lighting
Be quality-conscious
Add storage, not space
Communicate clearly with your remodelers

2. Keep the Same Footprint

Nothing will drive up the cost of a remodel faster than changing the location of plumbing pipes and electrical outlets, and knocking down walls. This is usually where unforeseen problems occur.

So if possible, keep appliances, water fixtures, and walls in the same location. 

Not only will you save on demolition and reconstruction costs, you’ll cut the amount of dust and debris your project generates.

More tips on planning a kitchen remodel:

Plan, plan, plan
Get real about appliances
Don’t underestimate the power of lighting
Be quality-conscious
Add storage, not space
Communicate clearly with your remodelers

3. Get Real About Appliances

It’s easy to get carried away when planning your new kitchen. A six-burner commercial-grade range and luxury-brand refrigerator may make eye-catching centerpieces, but they may not fit your cooking needs or lifestyle.

Appliances are essentially tools used to cook and store food. Your kitchen remodel shouldn’t be about the tools, but the design and functionality of the entire kitchen.

So unless you’re an exceptional cook who cooks a lot, concentrate your dollars on long-term features that add value, such as cabinets and flooring. 

Then choose appliances made by trusted brands that have high marks in online reviews and Consumer Reports.

More tips on planning a kitchen remodel:

Plan, plan, plan
Keep the same footprint
Don’t underestimate the power of lighting
Be quality-conscious
Add storage, not space
Communicate clearly with your remodelers

4. Don’t Underestimate the Power of Lighting

Lighting can make a world of difference in a kitchen. It can make it look larger and brighter. And it will help you work safely and efficiently. You should have two different types of lighting in your kitchen:
 
Task Lighting: Under-cabinet lighting should be on your must-do list, since cabinets create such dark work areas. And since you’re remodeling, there won’t be a better time to hard-wire your lights. (Here’s more about under-cabinet lights.) Plan for at least two fixtures per task area to eliminate shadows. Pendant lights are good for islands and other counters without low cabinets. Recessed lights and track lights work well over sinks and general prep areas with no cabinets overhead.

Ambient lighting: Flush-mounted ceiling fixtures, wall sconces, and track lights create overall lighting in your kitchen. Include dimmer switches to control intensity and mood.

Related: How to Choose the Best Bulb for the Job

More tips on planning a kitchen remodel:

Plan, plan, plan
Keep the same footprint
Get real about appliances
Be quality-conscious
Add storage, not space
Communicate clearly with your remodelers

5. Be Quality-Conscious

Functionality and durability should be top priorities during kitchen remodeling. Resist low-quality bargains, and choose products that combine low maintenance with long warranty periods. Solid-surface countertops, for instance, may cost a little more, but with the proper care, they’ll look great for a long time.

And if you’re planning on moving soon, products with substantial warranties are a selling advantage.

Related:

Kitchen Remodeling Decisions You’ll Never Regret

White: The Savvy and Chic Kitchen Color Choice

More tips on planning a kitchen remodel:

Plan, plan, plan
Keep the same footprint
Get real about appliances
Don’t underestimate the power of lighting
Add storage, not space
Communicate clearly with your remodelers

6. Add Storage, Not Space

Storage will never go out of style, but if you’re sticking with the same footprint, here are a couple of ideas to add more: 

Install cabinets that reach the ceiling: They may cost more — and you might need a stepladder — but you’ll gain valuable storage space for Christmas platters and other once-a-year items. In addition, you won’t have to dust cabinet tops.

Hang it up: Mount small shelving units on unused wall areas and inside cabinet doors; hang stock pots and large skillets on a ceiling-mounted rack; and add hooks to the backs of closet doors for aprons, brooms, and mops.

Related: Storage Options that Pack More Space in Your Kitchen

More tips on planning a kitchen remodel:

Plan, plan, plan
Keep the same footprint
Get real about appliances
Don’t underestimate the power of lighting
Be quality-conscious
Communicate clearly with your remodelers

7. Communicate Clearly With Your Remodelers

Establishing a good rapport with your project manager or construction team is essential for staying on budget. To keep the sweetness in your project:

Drop by the project during work hours: Your presence broadcasts your commitment to quality.

Establish a communication routine: Hang a message board on site where you and the project manager can leave daily communiqués. Give your email address and cell phone number to subs and team leaders.

Set house rules: Be clear about smoking, boom box noise levels, available bathrooms, and appropriate parking.

Be kind: Offer refreshments (a little hospitality can go a long way), give praise when warranted, and resist pestering them with conversation, jokes, and questions when they are working. They’ll work better when refreshed and allowed to concentrate on work.

Hope this helped you – please share your experiences!

Remember to follow our Blog at: https://therealestatebeat.wordpress.com/

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.  

Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Call us at: 650-568-5522  Office:  650-365-9200

Want Real Estate Info on the Go?  Download our FREE Real Estate App:  http://thecatonteam.com/mobileapp

Visit our Website at:   http://thecatonteam.com/

Visit us on Facebook:   http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sabrina-Susan-The-Caton-Team-Realtors/294970377834

Yelp us at: http://www.yelp.com/biz/the-caton-team-realtors-sabrina-caton-and-susan-caton-redwood-city

Or Yelp me:  http://www.yelp.com/user_details_thanx?userid=gpbsls-_RLpPiE9bv3Zygw

Connect with us professionally at LinkedIn:  http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=6588013&trk=tab_pro

Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

The Caton Team – Susan & Sabrina – A Family of Realtors

Sabrina BRE# 01413526 / Susan BRE #01238225 / Team BRE#70000218/ 01499008

Cost Vs. Value – What should I do to my home to improve its value?

Cost Vs. Value – What should I do to my home to improve its value?

One of my favorite questions as a Realtor revolves around fixing up the house.  There are two ways to build equity in your home (equity is what your home is worth, minus the mortgage).  One – sit back and wait for the real estate market to rise.  (Which it is steadily going these days in the San Francisco Bay Area)  And two – fix up your house.

The second method can either make or break your investment.  Let’s go with ‘break’ first.  A homeowner can spend hundreds of thousands of dollars fixing up the wrong part of the house.  Or worse, remolding a place till it’s just ugly!  Unless you are living in your forever house, you want to be smart with your money by doing a smart remodel or addition.  That means picking finishes and fixtures that are contemporary and neutral.  I’ve seen one too many amazing kitchens and baths that fit the homeowner to a tee – only leaving potential buyers counting their pennies for the demolition.

The first remodel that comes to mind is the kitchen, then the bath; two fantastic ways to improve the value of your home if done right.  The pink grout to match the flamingo theme in the bathroom is not going to beg for the highest bidder.  So before you head to the hardware store – think three times, measure twice and cut once…

For more information and statistics surrounding home improvement and where you should invest your money – please visit the link below.  It’s a very interesting read.

I read this article at: For the San Francisco Bay Area visit http://www.remodeling.hw.net/cost-vs-value/2014/pacific/san-francisco-ca/

For national information please visit: http://www.remodeling.hw.net/cost-vs-value/2014/

Remember to follow our Blog at: https://therealestatebeat.wordpress.com/

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.  

Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Call us at: 650-568-5522  Office:  650-365-9200

Want Real Estate Info on the Go?  Download our FREE Real Estate App:  http://thecatonteam.com/mobileapp

Visit our Website at:   http://thecatonteam.com/

Visit us on Facebook:   http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sabrina-Susan-The-Caton-Team-Realtors/294970377834

Yelp us at: http://www.yelp.com/biz/the-caton-team-realtors-sabrina-caton-and-susan-caton-redwood-city

Or Yelp me:  http://www.yelp.com/user_details_thanx?userid=gpbsls-_RLpPiE9bv3Zygw

Connect with us professionally at LinkedIn:  http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=6588013&trk=tab_pro

Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:   And yes – you can walk through my own Kitchen & Bath remodel as well.

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

The Caton Team – Susan & Sabrina – A Family of Realtors

Sabrina BRE# 01413526 / Susan BRE #01238225 / Team BRE#70000218/ 01499008

 

How to Assess the Real Cost of a Fixer-Upper House

How to Assess the Real Cost of a Fixer-Upper House

When you buy a fixer-upper house, you can save a ton of money, or get yourself in a financial fix.

1. Decide what you can do yourself

TV remodeling shows make home improvement work look like a snap. In the real world, attempting a difficult remodeling job that you don’t know how to do will take longer than you think and can lead to less-than-professional results that won’t increase the value of your fixer-upper house.

*  Do you really have the skills to do it? Some tasks, like stripping wallpaper and painting, are relatively easy. Others, like electrical work, can be dangerous when done by amateurs.

*  Do you really have the time and desire to do it? Can you take time off work to renovate your fixer-upper house? If not, will you be stressed out by living in a work zone for months while you complete projects on the weekends?

2. Price the cost of repairs and remodeling before you make an offer

*  Get your contractor into the house to do a walk-through, so he can give you a written cost estimate on the tasks he’s going to do.

If you’re doing the work yourself, price the supplies.

Either way, tack on 10% to 20% to cover unforeseen problems that often arise with a fixer-upper house.

3. Check permit costs

Ask local officials if the work you’re going to do requires a permit and how much that permit costs. Doing work without a permit may save money, but it’ll cause problems when you resell your home.

Decide if you want to get the permits yourself or have the contractor arrange for them. Getting permits can be time-consuming and frustrating. Inspectors may force you to do additional work, or change the way you want to do a project, before they give you the permit.

Factor the time and aggravation of permits into your plans.

4. Doublecheck pricing on structural work

If your fixer-upper home needs major structural work, hire a structural engineer for $500 to $700 to inspect the home before you put in an offer so you can be confident you’ve uncovered and conservatively budgeted for the full extent of the problems. 

Get written estimates for repairs before you commit to buying a home with structural issues.  Don’t purchase a home that needs major structural work unless:

You’re getting it at a steep discount

You’re sure you’ve uncovered the extent of the problem

You know the problem can be fixed

You have a binding written estimate for the repairs

5. Check the cost of financing

Be sure you have enough money for a down payment, closing costs, and repairs without draining your savings. 

If you’re planning to fund the repairs with a home equity or home improvement loan:

*  Get yourself pre-approved for both loans before you make an offer.

*  Make the deal contingent on getting both the purchase money loan and the renovation money loan, so you’re not forced to close the sale when you have no loan to fix the house.

*  Consider the Federal Housing Administration’s Section 203(k) program, which is designed to help homeowners who are purchasing or refinancing a home that needs rehabilitation. The program wraps the purchase/refinance and rehabilitation costs into a single mortgage. To qualify for the loan, the total value of the property must fall within the FHA mortgage limit for your area, as with other FHA loans. A streamlined 203(k) program provides an additional amount for rehabilitation, up to $35,000, on top of an existing mortgage. It’s a simpler process than obtaining the standard 203(k).

6. Calculate your fair purchase offer

Take the fair market value of the property (what it would be worth if it were in good condition and remodeled to current tastes) and subtract the upgrade and repair costs.

For example: Your target fixer-upper house has a 1960s kitchen, metallic wallpaper, shag carpet, and high levels of radon in the basement. 

Your comparison house, in the same subdivision, sold last month for $200,000. That house had a newer kitchen, no wallpaper, was recently re-carpeted, and has a radon mitigation system in its basement.

The cost to remodel the kitchen, remove the wallpaper, carpet the house, and put in a radon mitigation system is $40,000. Your bid for the house should be $160,000.

Ask your real estate agent if it’s a good idea to share your cost estimates with the sellers, to prove your offer is fair.

7. Include inspection contingencies in your offer

Don’t rely on your friends or your contractor to eyeball your fixer-upper house. Hire pros to do common inspections like:

*  Home inspection. This is key in a fixer-upper assessment. The home inspector will uncover hidden issues in need of replacement or repair. You may know you want to replace those 1970s kitchen cabinets, but the home inspector has a meter that will detect the water leak behind them.

*  Radon, mold, lead-based paint

*  Septic and well

*  Pest

Most home inspection contingencies let you go back to the sellers and ask them to do the repairs, or give you cash at closing to pay for the repairs. The seller can also opt to simply back out of the deal, as can you, if the inspection turns up something you don’t want to deal with. 

If that happens, this isn’t the right fixer-upper house for you. Go back to the top of this list and start again.

My words to the wise – if you get outbid – don’t fret – start again.  Each home you take the time to break down and understand the cost of repair – the better prepared you will be when the next opportunity arises.

We bought a condo as our first purchase – and though you mainly own just the paint in – we budgeted $10,000 in repairs only to spend $17,000 in the end.  Hind sight is always 20/20 – but now when we buy our next home, we’ll have the experience under out belt and a better picture of a budget and our limitations. 

By: G. M. Filisko

I read this article at:  http://members.houselogic.com/articles/how-assess-real-cost-fixer-upper-house/preview/

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.

Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Call us at: 650-568-5522

Visit our Website at:   http://thecatonteam.com/

Visit us on Facebook:   http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sabrina-Susan-The-Caton-Team-Realtors/294970377834

Yelp us at: http://www.yelp.com/biz/the-caton-team-realtors-sabrina-caton-and-susan-caton-redwood-city

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Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

Real Estate Photography 101 – Tips for the Fall Market

With the Fall Real Estate Market upon us – I thought  I would share this great article to help sellers prepare their homes for sale.  Enjoy!

4 Listing Photo Turn-Offs for Buyers

by: Jovan Hackley

Pictures move the masses and if you’re not careful, they can move prospective buyers away from your listings online.

Check out these 4 buyer photo turn-offs to avoid and tips for making sure your listings are getting the right attention on the Web:

Turn-off #1: The Lonely Listing Photo.

 The number one way to turn off web-surfing and mobile buyers is featuring only one or no listing photo.

Serious buyers need photos to develop a bond with a property and evaluate whether or not they could see themselves living there. The more photos you have online the more time a prospect will spend viewing and connecting with your listing.

Tip: Remember, you can add more than 100 photos to any of your listings on Trulia by visiting My Listings.

Turn-off #2: Amateur lighting mistakes.

Your online listing photos are your shot at making your seller’s property look like a dream home. When photos are gray, grainy, or make your home look like a dreary prison cell, you’re ruining your only chance at a first impression.

Here are a few quick tips for using light to make buyers click “Contact an Agent”:

  • When shooting outside, make sure the sun is behind you. The light will act as your own natural “studio light” brightening up the property.
  • Make your photos look cheerful; show off natural light inside by shooting on a sunny day.
  • If your listing doesn’t have windows or natural light, bring your own “sunlight.” Investing in household lamps (or toting a few in from your office) can go a long way toward producing better photos by brightening things up.

Turn off #3:  Missing photos.

If your listing is being overlooked online, it might be because you’re not showing the right areas.
Be sure to show these areas consumers we surveyed said make a home most attractive:

  • Bathrooms
  • Closets
  • Kitchens
  • Outdoor living spaces

Unique add-ons like hot tubs, special appliances, or wiring for an entertainment system

While you want to show off as much of the home as possible, focusing on these top priority living spaces are what really matters when it comes to generating inquiries and offers.

Turn off #4: The clutter monster.

When it comes to listing photos, clutter can be a seller’s worst enemy. When consumers view listings online, they want to see the property not years of your seller’s decorating and collectibles.

If you and your sellers really want to pique the interest of buyers with staging, focus on simplifying the space.

Here are a few easy staging adjustments you can make right before you shoot pictures to make for better photos:

  • Remove cars from the driveway or garage
  • Completely clear off any table and counter spaces
  • Clear out the corners before you shoot a room

You’ve heard it plenty of times “pictures are worth a thousand words.” Here are a few of our photo tips to help you make a better impression on buyers. What tips would you add to the list?

Need help preparing your home for sale?  The Caton Team is here to help!  Email us at Info@TheCatonTeam.com

I read this article at:  http://pro.truliablog.com/grow-business/4-listing-photo-turn-offs-for-buyers/?ecampaign=tnews&eurl=pro.truliablog.com%2Fgrow-business%2F4-listing-photo-turn-offs-for-buyers

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.

Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Call us at: 650-568-5522

Visit our Website at:   http://thecatonteam.com/

Visit us on Facebook:   http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sabrina-Susan-The-Caton-Team-Realtors/294970377834

Yelp us at: http://www.yelp.com/biz/the-caton-team-realtors-sabrina-caton-and-susan-caton-redwood-city

Or Yelp me:  http://www.yelp.com/user_details_thanx?userid=gpbsls-_RLpPiE9bv3Zygw

Instagram: http://instagram.com/sunshinesabby

Pintrest: https://pinterest.com/SabrinaCaton/

LinkedIn:  http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=6588013&trk=tab_pro

Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

6 Wills, Won’ts and Worries of 2013 Home Buyers…. great article – had to share…

When I read this – I just had to share….

 

6 Wills, Won’ts and Worries of 2013 Home Buyers

 

Trulia Article By Tara-Nicholle Nelson

If you’ve ever taken up running, you might know what it’s like to strap on your new shoes, head over to the track and take those first few strides, then feel a pain in your chest, heaviness in your feet and possibly, actually see stars. Maybe your last steps off the track were accompanied by the thought process: “Either I’m crazy, or runners are.”

Until you have talked to a legitimate, dyed in the wool runner and told them your story, explaining why you detest running with every iota of your being you won’t know the runner’s secret: everyone feels that way at first. It’s the normal physiological adjustment to the increased load you’re putting on your cardiovascular and musculoskeletal systems, this pain you felt when you took those first few steps.  It goes away in just a moment, if and only if you keep on running.

Sometimes, knowing that others react to a tough situation by feeling the same emotions, thinking the same thoughts, or doing the same things you do flat out helps you feel less crazy, panicked and out of control of your situation. It’s the concept behind support groups but, last I checked, there really isn’t such a thing as group therapy for home buyers. (Well, some would say that’s what Trulia Voices is for, but I digress.)

Today’s rapidly rising prices and generally volatile market does make things tough for buyers, so we thought we’d systematically explore – and then share – what’s going on inside the minds of the buyers on today’s market.  Hopefully, sellers will find some insights for marketing their properties, too.

Fresh off the presses, here are some of the insights and takeaways from our latest American Dream Survey, pinpointing the things today’s buyers worry about, will and won’t do in their quest to get their own corner of the American Dream: a home.

Worry:  Mortgage rates and prices will rise before I buy.  Trulia’s Economist Jed Kolko reports that “the top worry among all survey respondents who might buy a home someday is that mortgage rates will rise further before they buy (41%), followed by rising prices (37%).”  The worry is valid, given the fact that the market was depressed for so long and has a long recovery road ahead of it.  It’s compounded by the fact that buying a home has gone from something that used to take a month or two and now routinely takes 6 months, 9 months, a year or even longer!

Here’s the deal: you can’t stop prices from rising. And fixating on this particular fear poses the potential pitfall of  rushing to buy or making compromises that will turn out badly in the end.  Don’t dilly dally, if you’re ready and in the market, and don’t mess around making lowball offers with no chance of success.  But otherwise, don’t let this fear drive your buying and timing decisions.

Will:  Be aggressive. B. E. Aggressive. Economist Kolko explained, “among survey respondents who plan to buy a home someday, 2 in 3 (66%)  would use aggressive tactics such as bidding above asking, writing personal letters to the seller, or removing contingencies, to name a few.”  What buyers do and don’t do in the name of aggressively pursuing their dream homes (and, consequently, what sellers expect) is slightly different in every town.

Knowing that other buyers are facing down the same challenges you are and coming up with similar, aggressive solutions can help you feel a little less crazy about your thought processes and emotions and the desperate measures that come to mind when you hear how many others think “your” home is their dream home. And that puts you back in control of what can sometimes feel like an out-of-control situation. Reality check: you are 100% in the driver’s seat when it comes to how aggressive you want to be in your pursuit of any given home, and which specific tactics you leverage in the course of that pursuit.

Worry:  I won’t find a home I like.  Forty-three percent of people who plan to buy a home in the next 12 months expressed the concern that they might not be able to even find a property they like. Perhaps these people were just seriously persnickety, but I suspect there’s a bigger issue at play here.  All of us can find a home we like, but whether there’s anything we like enough to buy in our price range is a completely separate issue.

This worry, then, seems to be closely related to the fear of rising prices – buyers are rightfully fearful that home value increases will put their personal dream homes out of their price range. This is why it’s super important to:

  • be aggressive about seeing suitable properties as soon as they come onto the market
  • work with an agent whose offer pricing advice you trust
  • adjust your house hunt downward in price range if the market dynamics include lots of over-asking sales prices, and
  • not to let months and months go by while you make lowball offers or otherwise be slow to  come to the reality of what homes are actually selling for in your area.

The sooner you put yourself seriously in the game and make reality-based offers, the more likely you’ll be able to score a home you like in your price range.

Worry:  I will have to compete with other buyers for the home I like. Twenty-seven percent of those who plan to buy at some point in the future and 32% of those who plan to buy in the next year said they feared the prospect of facing a bidding war. This worry is well-grounded. In California, the average property receives four offers – but stories of dozens of offers abound. And it’s not just a West Coast phenomenon: buyers from coast to coast trade tales of getting outbid and having to throw in their firstborn child, lastborn puppy and most precious earthly possessions just to get into contract.

Truth is, market dynamics vary from town to town, and even neighborhood to neighborhood, but if you’re buying on today’s market or planning to buy anytime soon, bidding wars, multiple offers and over-asking sales prices are a reality you will probably have to factor into your house hunt.

Won’t:  Bid way more than asking.  Only 9 percent of wanna-be buyers said they would bid between 6 and 10 percent over the asking price for a property. This finding surfaces the uber-importance of checking in with an experienced local agent to get a briefing on precisely how much over asking homes are selling for in your area.  This empowers you to tweak your online house hunting price range low enough that you can make an over-asking offer and be successful without breaking the bank.  And once you’ve gotten a reality-based estimate of the over-asking norm, it will loom less ominously in your mind’s eye as a potential American Dream-killer.

Worry:  I won’t qualify for a mortgage.  Thirty percent of all people who identified themselves as planning to buy a home in the future said they were worried they might not be able to qualify for a home loan. (Interestingly, only 25 percent of buyers in hot markets like Oakland and Las Vegas expressed this concern – rapidly rising prices and knowing lots of other buyers are closing transactions in your town seems to ease this fear.)

Of all the worries on the list, this is the one over which a smart buyer has the most power. So exercise it! Work with a mortgage broker who was referred by friends, family members or an agent you trust.  And ideally, work with them months – even a year or more – before you plan to buy.  They can help you put an action plan in place around boosting your savings and credit score, and minimize your debt and credit dings, that you can work to minimize mortgage qualifying dramas when the time is right. They can also help give you a stronger sense of what you can afford vis-a-vis your income, to help you anticipate any challenges related to what sort of home your dollar will buy in your market.

ALL: What worries do you have about today’s market? Which steps are you willing to take in your quest to achieve the American Dream?

I read this article at:  http://www.trulia.com/blog/taranelson/2013/07/6_wills_won_ts_and_worries_of_2013_home_buyers?ecampaign=cnews20+and1308A&eurl=www.trulia.com%2Fblog%2Ftaranelson%2F2013%2F07%2F6_wills_won_ts_and_worries_of_2013_home_buyers

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.

Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Call The Caton Team at 650-568-5522

Visit our Website at:   http://thecatonteam.com/

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Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

How Much Would You Pay For…

How Much Would You Pay For…

Being a full time Realtor – I get some great questions.  One of my favorites pertains to upgrades and how they affect resale value.  Please enjoy these two articles I found very interesting.  My comments are in italics.  

Buyers Will Pay Extra for These Features

By DAILY REAL ESTATE NEWS

Some home shoppers say they are willing to spend thousands of dollars above the price of the home in order to have certain interior features.

The most coveted home features tend to center around the kitchen, such as stainless steel appliances and a kitchen island, says Errol Samuelson, president of realtor.com.

24/7 Wall St. used data from the National Association of REALTORS® to determine some of the most desired home features. Here are eight features that made the list and how much extra, on average, buyers say they’re willing to pay for having that feature in a home:

  • Central air conditioning: $2,520
  • New kitchen appliances: $1,840
  • Walk-in closet in master bedroom: $1,350
  • Granite countertops: $1,620
  • Hardwood floors: $2,080
  • Ensuite master bath: $2,030
  • Kitchen island: $1,370
  • Stainless steel appliances: $1,850

Sometimes paying the premium for a fixed up home works out for a buyer.  This past weekend my client felt it made more sense to pay more for a turn key home since the interest rate is a right off and you’d have a higher write off with a more expenseive home – compared to spending their weekends fixing up a home.  Each client is different with a unique budget and point of view. 

What would you pay for?

Before making the decision to buy, people shopping for homes consider hundreds of factors. They include location of the house, the school district, size of the lot and also interior features. Most buyers insist on a house that grants most of their wishes, but shoppers often settle for a house without getting everything they want.

When it comes to certain interior features, many are willing to spend thousands of dollars above the price of the home to have them included. At least 60% of buyers said they would be willing to pay more for central air conditioning, new kitchen appliances and a walk-in closet in the master bedroom if they did not already have these features.

Many of the features homeowners desire involve the kitchen. They include stainless steel appliances and a kitchen island. The kitchen is a major focal point for home buyers, said Errol Samuelson, president of Realtor.com.

“People, in general, have shown more interest in having big and beautiful kitchens, and the kitchen is acting as an informal gathering place,” Samuelson said in an interview with 24/7 Wall St. “We have gone from the ’70s where it was about Hamburger Helper … and now we’ve got the Food Network where people are more interested in exploring cooking.”

The desirability of some characteristics vary depending on the home buyers’ age. In the survey, more people age 35 to 54 found the internal features of a house to be very important in making a decision than any other age group. When people are younger and buying their first home, they are primarily interested in jumping into the real estate market to build equity, and the features are less important, Samuelson said. “For the younger demographic, home is a place to sleep and a place to store your clothes, but you are out all the time,” he said.

When people get older, settle down with a spouse and start raising a family, they still consider the home and its features as investments. However, they often start to build more of a connection with the house, and the details of the home become important to improving quality of life in the home, and less so for long-term investment. The house becomes a “personalized area that separates [the occupants] from the outside world,” Samuelson said.

While a high percentage of people said they would pay more for some features, how much they were willing to pay was not necessarily that high. Although six in 10 home buyers without a walk-in closet said they would be willing to pay more for a house with one, those people said they would only spend an additional $1,350, much less than what a walk-in closet typically costs.

The features described are not necessarily the most important deciding factor for potential home buyers, Brendon DeSimone, a Realtor and real estate expert with Zillow, told 24/7 Wall St. When looking at house, he said, the first things people consider are factors such as the neighborhood, the school district and the difficulty of the commute to work.

“Everything starts with location,” DeSimone said in an interview. “You can have the best house in the world, but if it’s not in the neighborhood and school district where everyone wants to live, you are just not going to look at it.”

Using data from the National Association of Realtors, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the 11 features that most homeowners were willing to pay more for. We also looked at the median amount that these people would be willing to pay to obtain that feature. In addition, we looked at data from the National Association of Realtors about whether prospective home buyers found certain features to be very important. That information was further broken down by factors such as home buyers’ age, whether they were looking to move into a new or previously owned home, and whether someone was a first-time or repeat buyer.

Based on those factors, here are the 11 most desirable home features:

11. One or more fireplaces
> Percentage of home buyers willing to pay more: 40%
> Amount willing to pay extra: $1,400

Some 40% of home buyers without a fireplace said they would spend additional money for at least one and cough up an extra $1,400. The fireplace, while always popular, was less necessary when several TVs were going in the house all at once, Samuelson said. But he speculated that having a home with fireplaces may become more popular in the future as people spend less time watching TV and more time on tablets and e-readers. These people may find the fireplace a good place to cozy up and use their devices, he said.

10. Eat-in kitchen
> Percentage of home buyers willing to pay more: 40%
> Amount willing to pay extra: $1,770

The people most interested in an eat-in kitchen tend to be in the 35-to-54 age range, with 30% of those prospective home buyers indicating this is “very important” in a house. Meanwhile, just 21% of those under 35 years of age and 20% over 55 feel the same way. More people, especially those who are raising families, want kitchens that look into family entertainment rooms. Some have even made it a family hangout by placing big-screen TVs and other electronics in the kitchen. “Buyers who are in families want to be in one space and do it all,” DeSimone said.

9. Home less than 5 years old
> Percentage of home buyers willing to pay more: 40%
> Amount willing to pay extra: $5,020

Some people simply want a newer home. For those willing to pay more for a newer home, the median that people would dole out was more than $5,000. Although this is a lot of money compared to most features, that money could be a wise investment in the long run. Maintenance costs are considerably less in newer homes compared to older homes, Samuelson pointed out. He also noted that newer homes tend to be much more efficient, attracting people who are environmentally conscious.

8. Stainless steel appliances
> Percentage of home buyers willing to pay more: 41%
> Amount willing to pay extra: $1,850

Like most features, stainless steel appliances are most important to people between the ages of 35 to 54, with 23% considering them to be a “very important” investment, compared with just 16% of those under the age of 35 and a mere 11% of those over the age of 55. From a cost perspective, stainless steel appliances are not necessarily the best investment. Samuelson noted that stainless steel wears out far easier than most other common materials. Also, the children in the house can also get their fingerprints on the appliances, requiring more cleaning. However, Samuelson said people are primarily driven to buy stainless steel appliances because they look more attractive.

7. Kitchen island
> Percentage of home buyers willing to pay more: 48%
> Amount willing to pay extra: $1,370

Kitchen islands are most important to people ages 35 to 54, with 24% indicating that it is a “very important” characteristic. Just 19% of people under 35 and 13% over 55 considered this feature important. DeSimone noted that kitchen islands often come in handy for those who are raising a family. It provides additional room to put out food for the family and allows the kitchen to become more organized. Although the desire for a kitchen island is high, those who do not have one but want one are only willing to shell out $1,370, less than most other features.

6. Ensuite master bath
> Percentage of home buyers willing to pay more: 49%
> Amount willing to pay extra: $2,030

Once again, the ensuite master bathroom tends to be more important to people ages 35 and older. “It kind of goes to the ‘home is my sanctuary’ mentality,” Samuelson said. This, along with a walk-in closet in the master bedroom, has become more important in the past 10 years or so. Many people are eager to make their bathroom more “homey” by doing things such as installing televisions on the wall. The fact that many master bathrooms have two sinks is also an appealing option for married couples, Samuelson added.

5. Hardwood floors
> Percentage of home buyers willing to pay more: 54%
> Amount willing to pay extra: $2,080

Some 25% of buyers under the age of 35, and 28% of those between 35 and 54, considered hardwood floors “very important” when looking for a home. Only 17% of people ages 55 and up felt the same way. In previous generations, homes with carpets were considered better in order to conserve energy, DeSimone said. Even today, older people are more likely to feel more comfortable with carpeting because the insulation makes the home a little bit warmer. But for younger people looking to have many guests at the house and for people with children, hardwood floors are desirable because they are easier to clean than carpets.

4. Granite countertops
> Percentage of home buyers willing to pay more: 55%
> Amount willing to pay extra: $1,620

Among homeowners between the ages of 35 and 54, 24% viewed granite countertops as “very important,” compared to 18% of people under 35 and 18% of people over 55. Although just one in every five prospective home buyers said granite countertops were very important, 55% of those who bought a home without such a countertop said they would pay extra for it. Both DeSimone and Samuelson agreed that the granite countertop is more of a style issue than anything else. “There has been more emphasis on the beautiful kitchen these days, and granite countertops are a part of that,” Samuelson said.

3. Walk-in closet in master bedroom
> Percentage of home buyers willing to pay more: 60%
> Amount willing to pay extra: $1,350

A whopping 60% of homeowners were willing to pay extra for a walk-in closet in the master bedroom, with 44% of people between the ages of 35 and 54 viewing this feature as “very important,” compared to just 35% under the age of 35 and 36% of people 55 and older. DeSimone said the walk-in closet is desired for two main reasons: space and status. The space is very desirable for people as they get older and acquire more clothes, allowing people to be more organized. Having a walk-in closet in the master bedroom is also a status symbol. When giving a house tour, DeSimone said, people want to say, “Hey, check out my closet,” in the same way they say, “Hey, have you seen my new kitchen?”

2. New kitchen appliances
> Percentage of home buyers willing to pay more: 69%
> Amount willing to pay extra: $1,840

About 69% of homeowners said they were willing to spend more money for new kitchen appliances. Unsurprisingly, people who are looking to buy a new home find this far more important than people who are eyeing previously owned homes. People who are the first to live in a specific house tend to want everything to be new in the house because they consider the house truly “their own,” DeSimone said. People also do not want to have to deal with the stress of broken appliances. “They don’t want to come home after a horrible stressful day at work and find the dishwasher isn’t working or the fridge is making noises.”

1. Central air conditioning
> Percentage of home buyers willing to pay more: 69%
> Amount willing to pay extra: $2,520

Nearly seven in 10 homeowners said they would be willing to pay more on central air conditioning — the same as new kitchen appliances and more than any other feature. Central air conditioning was considered “very important” by more than 60% of people in all age groups. Samuelson noted that although people were willing to shell out approximately $2,500 for the feature, that is far less than what it would actually cost to install central air conditioning. “There is a difference in people’s preference and what they are willing to pay for,” Samuelson said. “They may want the steak but are on a macaroni budget.”

I would love to hear your two cents!  Comment here or email me anytime at Info@TheCatonTeam.com

I read this article at:  http://realtormag.realtor.org/daily-news/2013/04/29/home-buyers-say-they-ll-pay-extra-for-these-features?om_rid=AACmlZ&om_mid=_BRfpyKB8yORuS4&om_ntype=RMODaily

And

http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/2013/04/28/24-7-home-features/2106203/

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.

Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Visit our Website at:   http://thecatonteam.com/

Visit us on Facebook:   http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sabrina-Susan-The-Caton-Team-Realtors/294970377834

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Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

New App for Home Maintenance… BrightNest

Hello Readers!

I just got wind of a new computer site and mobile app for home maintenance.  I just signed up this morning to give it a spin.  Easy to use, free and so far reminds me a Pintrest.

You input which systems you have in your home and it gives you tips on maintenance and you can select to get tips on safety, being green or DIY protects and updating.  Give it a try and let me know what you think!

https://brightnest.com

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.

Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Visit our Website at:   http://thecatonteam.com/

Visit us on Facebook:   http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sabrina-Susan-The-Caton-Team-Realtors/294970377834

Yelp us at: http://www.yelp.com/biz/the-caton-team-realtors-sabrina-caton-and-susan-caton-redwood-city

Or Yelp me:  http://www.yelp.com/user_details_thanx?userid=gpbsls-_RLpPiE9bv3Zygw

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LinkedIn:  http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=6588013&trk=tab_pro

Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

Top 10 Home Remodeling Projects – Get More Bang for Your Buck!

I love helping my clients buy and sell their home.  But what really gets my blood pumping is home renovation.  I truly enjoy seeing a home before and after a client puts their touches into their space.  However, home renovation is costly and sometimes it doesn’t add up.  Please enjoy this article about which home projects get the most bang for your buck!   Let me know what you think!

Top 10 Remodeling Projects That Offer the Biggest Returns

Home owners are investing in their homes once again, according to recent industry surveys that point to a strong rebound taking hold in home remodeling. Home owners also may be seeing higher gains from some of these remodeling projects at resale, according to the most recent Cost vs. Value Report, which reviews the top remodeling projects that offer the highest returns at resale. The Cost vs. Value Report is conducted each year by Remodeling Magazine, in conjunction with REALTOR(R) Magazine.

So, which remodeling projects offer the potential for some of the biggest pay-backs at resale? The following mid-range remodeling jobs offer the highest returns, according to the 2013 Cost vs. Value Report.

1. Entry door replacement (steel)

Estimated job cost: $1,137

Return on investment at resale: 85.6%

2. Deck addition (wood)

Job cost: $9,327

ROI: 77.3%

3. Garage door replacement

Job cost: $1,496

ROI: 75.7%

4. Minor kitchen remodel

Job cost: $18,527

ROI: 75.4%

5. Window replacement (wood)

Job cost: $10,708

ROI: 73.3%

6. Attic bedroom

Job cost: $47,919

ROI: 72.9%

7. Siding replacement (vinyl)

Job cost: $11,192

ROI: 72.9%

8. Window replacement (vinyl)

Job cost: $9,770

ROI: 71.2%

9. Basement remodel

Job cost: $61,303

ROI: 70.3%

10. Major kitchen remodel

Job cost: $53,931

ROI: 68.9%

Home Trends, Remodeling Adviser, by Melissa Tracey

By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR(R) Magazine 

I read this article at: http://styledstagedsold.blogs.realtor.org/2013/02/18/top-10-remodeling-projects-that-offer-the-biggest-returns/?om_rid=AACmlZ&om_mid=_BRImwmB8w5t6jo&om_ntype=RMODaily

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.

Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Visit our Website at:   http://thecatonteam.com/

Visit us on Facebook:   http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sabrina-Susan-The-Caton-Team-Realtors/294970377834

Yelp us at: http://www.yelp.com/biz/the-caton-team-realtors-sabrina-caton-and-susan-caton-redwood-city

Or Yelp me:  http://www.yelp.com/user_details_thanx?userid=gpbsls-_RLpPiE9bv3Zygw

Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading – Sabrina