Buying a House Solo? Here are some tips…

3 Next-Gen House Hunting Tips for Singles

The American household has changed – big time. More and more, people get married later in life, if at all. Many even go from married to single and back multiple times throughout their lives. This all means that more and more people are buying homes while single. Many unmarried folks are buying homes to live in on their own, while others are looking for homes to live in with their children, parents or other partners – past, present and future.

If you’re embarking upon the process of buying a home on your own, here are a few things to factor into your thought process and your action plan:

1. Solo doesn’t necessarily mean condo. A decade or two ago, many single house hunters were automatically directed toward low-maintenance condos and townhomes. And truthfully, some singles still enjoy the tax and financial advantages of ownership without the responsibilities of caring for lawns, roofs and other so-called “single family home” features they have no use for.

That said, the descriptor of a detached, standalone property as a “single family home” is woefully out of date. Many single people are electing to purchase detached homes for a number of reasons. Chief among them include:

  • Needing the square footage to allow their household to expand to include future partners, future children, adult children, or even elderly parents
  • Needing extra rooms (or even extra apartments!) to rent out, do hobbies in or run a home business from, and
  • Having the outdoor space for dogs, cats, horses and vegetable gardens, oh my!

If you are dreaming of a life in more of a home than your friends and family members think you can handle and you can well afford the home of your dreams, don’t be daunted. Reach out to other people in your circle of friends who are single and own either single family homes or condos and townhomes to get a sense for their experience. If you decide to go with a condo, make sure you read the HOA disclosures thoroughly and that you understand what you’re getting for your HOA dollars. (Hint: HOA dues often cover expenses you would pay out of pocket otherwise, like waste management fees, landscaping, building insurance and even roof and window maintenance.)

But if you do decide to go the single family home route, make sure you ask your circle (and your agent) for referrals to the contractors, gardeners and handyfolk who can make home maintenance on your own much more doable. It takes a village to maintain a home over the long run. So get a village!

2. Pay extra close attention to home inspections and home warranty provisions. Much of what’s scary about solo home ownership are the seeming risks around things that could go wrong. The most common such fear is a valid one: What happens if something goes wrong with the house? With just one income, it can be frightening to think of how rapidly a lemon of a house could rock your entire financial world.

There are a couple of tools you can build into your transaction that can massively mitigate just this risk. First, your home inspections. Most people think of home inspections as almost pass-fail: if they reveal devastatingly expensive issues, they back out of the deal. But if they don’t surface any fatal flaws, the deal is on.

Single home buyers should view their home inspections as the opportunity to spend a few more hours in the home, discovering its warts and all, before they move forward with the deal. Take special care to attend your inspections in person, ask the inspector to show you the issues they find while they’re on site. Read the reports and get any follow-up inspections or repair bids before your contingency period runs out. That way, you’ll have a concrete idea of the financial exposure to repairs that are needed right now while you can still either (a) negotiate to get the seller to chip in or (b) back out of the deal without penalty, if you need to.

The second tool is a largely underrated one: your home warranty plan. Most buyers get one, and often sellers pay for it. But what many buyers don’t realize is that (a) they can pay to upgrade the plan so that the warranty company will cover a wide assortment of future home repairs, and (b) they can and should renew their home warranty plan annually, in the future. Having the ability to ring up the home warranty company and spend $50 for a service call when your water heater, furnace, or plumbing goes on the fritz can dramatically reduce the fear factor of solo home ownership.

3. Consult with legal and financial pros before you buy with a relative, friend or partner. Buying a home with a friend, a parent, a sibling or even a life partner can seem like the cure for what ails a single person’s home buying situation. Namely, it injects additional financial resources, allows you to buy a pricier (read: larger, nicer, better located) property than you could on your own, and even positions you to have help making hard house hunt decisions and maintaining the place going forward.

Co-buying has big benefits, but it also poses some serious questions – questions that a lawyer, tax advisor or financial planner can help you anticipate and resolve, in advance, to avoid conflicts later. If you decide to go the co-buying route, make the investment of time and money up front to get some professional advice about how to structure the transaction and the financial relationship. Doing so, and reducing the agreement to a clear, professionally-drafted written contract that is recognized by and filed on record with the relevant state and local governments can go a very long way toward helping you avoid later damage to the interpersonal relationship with your co-buyer.

BUYERS: Did your status as single or married factor into your house hunting decisions? If so, how? If not, why?

I read this article at:  http://www.trulia.com/tips/2014/03/3-next-gen-house-hunting-tips-for-singles/?ecampaign=cnews&eurl=www.trulia.com%2Ftips%2F2014%2F03%2F3-next-gen-house-hunting-tips-for-singles%2F

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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  Office:  650-365-9200

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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/ 01499008

Good News for Landlords: Rents Still Rising – Bad News for Tenants

Good News for Landlords: Rents Still Rising  –  Bad News for Tenants

The article below is both good and bad news.  For investors, whom have scooped up deals on the San Francisco Peninsula through the bust, they are raking in the gold with high rents.  For the rentals properties I service, it’s been amazing to see the increase in rent year over year.  But demand is there – and with few homes to buy – the rental market is booming.

For those who are renting, they cringe when they see a letter from their landlord in the mailbox.  Several clients of mine have emailed me this year concerned that their rent went up.  Some as little as $50 – other a more substantial jump.  These renters are the first time buyers of the future.  Skipping dinners out to stash away cash for down payments and closing costs.  And around here – where the median home price starts at $800,000 – we’re not talking pennies and dimes that need to be saved.

Right now the cheapest rental listed on the Multiple Listing Service is a 3 bedroom 1 bath home of about 1050 square feet in the Buri-Buri area of South San Francisco – asking rent is $3,000.  The most expensive rental is a dated but spacious 3 bedroom 4 bath home of close to 4000 square feet in Portal Valley asking for $9,500 a month.  The median rental listed today is a 3 bedroom 2 bath condo in Menlo Park listed at $4,250 a month.

Suddenly that $50 rent increase doesn’t sting as much.

But the word is out – the Bay Area is a wonderful place to live and we’re all paying for it now.  Enjoy this article below…

 

Good News for Landlords: Rents Still Rising

 

Average rental prices have ticked up nearly 4 percent nationwide, according to the latest TransUnion Rental Screen Solutions industry report of data collected from property managers in September 2012 and September 2013.

Rents were on the rise for all four of the classifications of rental properties that TransUnion analyzes: newer institutional properties; older institutional properties; older properties in less desirable areas; and older properties in less desirable areas that are in need of renovations/updating. The average rent of all four types of properties was $1,072 in 2013.

The largest rental increases were seen in properties that were in less desirable areas that need renovations, up 4.2 percent to an average of $693.

“The rental market continues to be strong as demand for rental units remains high while consumer credit risk slowly improves,” says Michael Doherty, senior vice president of TransUnion’s rental screening solutions group. “The combination of improving rental risk scores and continued demand for rental properties is particularly good news for property managers. … When the credit risk of the population improves, property managers may be more inclined to tighten their criteria to ensure they are getting the best possible resident. This is integral because a resident who ‘skips’ out on a lease can cost a property manager thousands of dollars in lost revenues.”

By: DAILY REAL ESTATE NEWS

 

I read this article at:  http://realtormag.realtor.org/daily-news/2014/01/28/good-news-for-landlords-rents-still-rising?om_rid=AACmlZ&om_mid=_BS6BpXB838Asq2&om_ntype=RMODaily

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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  Office:  650-365-9200

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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/ 01499008

 

For Sale by The Caton Team – 1 Bedroom Condo in Santa Clara – Open Sat & Sun 1-4pm

Check out more photos at – http://instagram.com/sunshinesabby

Or – http://thecatonteam.com/MyListings?operation=MorePictures&listing_id=1713024610

 

Your home is your sanctuary, your retreat from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.  151 Buckingham Drive Unit #226 is located on the south end of Santa Clara bordering Campbell and Cupertino – just down the street for Santana Row and Valley Fair Mall.  The property is within the Cupertino School District.

But you wouldn’t know you were living in the heart of Silicon Valley when you look out your 2nd story, wrap-around balcony.  This corner end unit is nestled in prime real estate country.  Close to the front of the complex so your friends and family can easily find you – though tucked away to enjoy lovely views of the treetops and lagoons of the Vista Del Lago condominium complex.

Upon entering this home from the exterior hallway, you are welcomed into a great-room style living area.  Ready for your taste and palate with warm toned carpet and neutral paint.  This allows a buyer to move-in and take their time to decorate their new home.

The updated kitchen with granite wrap-around breakfast bar opens to the great-room so the chef is never left out of the party.  A full size dishwasher, oven-range with microwave hood and refrigerator complete this kitchen. Imagine hors d’ oeuvres sprinkled over the counter while guest lounge on the sofa or enjoy the sun and trees off the balcony.

The living area is spacious and with two sliding glass doors that open out to the balcony – there is ample natural sunlight throughout the day.  When the gorgeous California weather heats up, the convenient air condition unit makes this home quite comfortable as you relax to the sound of the water features and birds.

The master suite adjoins the living area and features ample storage with two large closets and a separate linen closet.  The carpeted bedroom has a floor to ceiling window, ceiling fan and mirrored closet doors.

The bathroom features a large vanity with single sink, enclosed tub with overhead shower, ceiling fan and ample lighting.

This unit comes with a tandem two-vehicle carport and adjoining large storage unit.

Ownership at Vista Del Lago includes a refreshing pool, spa, gym, clubhouse and coin operated laundry in each building.  Home Owner Association dues are approximately $367 a month.

A complete disclosure package is available.  The disclosure package includes a complete set of Home Owner Association documents, Home & Pest Inspection, Natural Hazards Disclosure and all California mandated disclosures.  Click below for disclosure access.

http://thecatonteam.com/PDisclosures?id=1713024610

This unit is a fantastic investment, currently listed at $300,000 for a 1 bedroom at 599 sqft.

For more information – please contact The Caton Team – Susan or Sabrina.  MLS # 81319710

http://thecatonteam.com/PropertyDetails?fl_hook=1713024610&show_description=yes&show_address=yes&presented_by=&show_virtual_tour=yes

FOR PHOTOS CLICK:

http://thecatonteam.com/MyListings?operation=MorePictures&listing_id=1713024610

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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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

The Importance of Working with a Good Lender

The Importance of Working with a Good Lender – by Sabrina

Buying a home is serious business; especially on the San Francisco Peninsula where even a one bedroom condo can run about half a million bucks.

And in an industry where time is money and money talks, from time to time I will encounter a lender – that offers great rates and low fees – upfront.  And no customer service when you really need it.

Much too often a buyer is tempted to get the best rate – without really considering the whole picture.

Unless you are paying cash – the home loan is the most important aspect of buying a home – aside from the home itself.

So when taking into account that a home is generally the largest purchase of a person’s life – shouldn’t we work with a bank that treats it with the same respect?  YES!

There are hundreds of steps from finding the home to getting the keys.  The loan is probably the largest hurdle aside from home inspections.

Once a buyer’s contract is accepted by the seller – it’s rush time.  Most offers have a time frame – called a contingency period – to have the bank do their appraisal and have the loan/purchase terms reviewed and approved by underwriting.  It can be as long as 17 days in a buyers market – or as short as 5 days in a sellers market.  And this is where we separate the men from the boys.  Some of these out of state or on-line lenders are not located here – where one is buying – and it can be extremely difficult to get information and approvals done when they close shop at 5pm and it’s only 2pm here!

That friendly voice that quoted a buyer a fantastic rate isn’t calling us back anymore…..and when they do it’s often not what we were hoping to hear.  For example, they need more time to review the file – therefore we need to push back the close of escrow date – which seems easy – but again – time is money.   The seller is expecting the buyer to perform to the terms of the contract and it’s not worth losing a home due to a lackluster lender…..and changing lenders mid way is generally not an option.

So – what can a buyer do to be competitive?  Work with a local lender.  Once your credit is pulled the first time – a consumer has 30 days to loan shop without hurting their credit score.  So do it!  Loan shop the whole month and find the best rate, the best fees and make sure the lender is attentive, local and can move at the pace the current market is dictating.

The Caton Team has a list of Client Approved Lenders – so please reach out to us and we’ll introduce you to the team.

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.  What can we do for you?

Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

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

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Please enjoy my personal journey through home ownership at:

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com/

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

Where Are Interest Rates Headed?

One of my lenders, Melanie Flynn of First Priority Financial, sent us this newsletter that I just had to share.

Where Are Interest Rates Headed?

This isn’t easy to say, but it must be said – rates are NOT going back down (at least not significantly). Rates being quoted right now range from the 4.75% area to above 5%, based on lender, consumer profile (credit score, program, money down, etc), and the day. When I say “the day”, I’m not being flippant – there really is such nauseating volatility that we are seeing rates jump by as much as .25% in interest rate in a single day.

With the drastic and dramatic jump we’ve seen since May 3rd, consumers may have thrown the brakes on for looking at houses – waiting for rates to come back down. It is important that you remember I’m here to help you convince the consumer of two things:

1) Rates are NOT going back down into the 3’s, or probably much (if any) below 4.5%.
2) They must continue their search now before home prices continue to go up along with the higher rates, further eroding their buying power.

Interest Rates – when they rise – decreases a clients buying power.  I can see the graph from economic class now.  As Interest Rates Rise, the cost of buying rises – therefore the purchase price or the home will decrease for the buyer.

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

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

1st-Time Buyers Losing to Investors – tell me something I don’t know….

If you are a home buyer in todays real estate market on the SF Peninsula – then you already know!  Cash buyers have come out in force and it feels like they are scooping up every house on the market.

Below is an article I read in the SF Chronicle.  It hit home hard.  The Caton Team has been writing offers, sometimes multiple offers for one client on several properties praying one will be accepted.  This market is nuts.  And before I hear anyone say – you must love it!  NO!  Realtors do not like this type of market.  We are human.  We may perform some superhuman stunts from time to time –  but we are human.  Realtors like stable markets with consistent growth.  Not manic markets – with ” one open house and offers are due on Monday” – markets.  If I am feeling the rush – I know my clients are – and for them – this is a new experience.  For the Caton Team – with over 25 years combined experience, this is just another day on the job.

So as you venture and read this article – I must add my two cents.  DO NOT GIVE UP!  Giving up and not getting an offer accepted has the same results – not keys to your new home.  But dusting yourself off and getting back on the horse to meet your Realtor at lunch to see the next new listing – now that’s tackling this market like a pro!  In our experience, buyers who are dedicated to becoming owners will get a house.  It may not be the house they dreamt about.  It may not have all the bedrooms they wanted or the yard they liked – but you can make all those things happen – once you get your house.  Curious what the Caton Team does differently for our clients – come on and and let’s talk!  Questions – email me at Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Enjoy!

1st-time buyers losing to investors

Many outbid by absentee owners in a rapidly rising market

By  Carolyn Said 

Hunter Mack and Nyree Bekarian are eager to buy a home for their growing family. They started looking when their son Emmett was a year old. Now he’s 2 1/2, and they have a second child due any day. And they’re still looking.

After seven years of marriage, Carlos and Robin Mariona felt the time was right to buy their own place and looked forward to leveraging his past Navy service with a Veterans Affairs loan. But their search stretched on for months, despite the loan guarantee. While their price ranges and target areas varied, these Bay Area families confronted the same reality once they started house hunting. They were consistently outbid, often by investors who paid all cash. Sometimes, even if they had the highest bid – especially in the case of the Mariona family and their VA loan – they were still rejected in favor of an all-cash offer.

“We’re people who want to commit to a place where we can live and grow together, but it hasn’t been possible,” said Mack, who teaches mechanical engineering at UC Berkeley. “We’re two mid-30s professionals who want to spend over half a million dollars on a home, but we can’t find anything, which is ridiculous. We’ve probably made 10 offers. At this point, with many homes, we’re not making offers anymore because we know we’ll be slaughtered.”

Eager to get their piece of the American dream while interest rates are low, many first-time home buyers instead are finding that they’re priced out of a rapidly rising market where they must compete with deep-pocketed investors.

Absentee home buyers now account for about 27 percent of Bay Area home sales, according to real estate research firm DataQuick. All-cash buyers (who overlap with absentee buyers) represent almost a third of sales. Historically, cash buyers were about 13 percent of sales.

First-time home buyers bought 36 percent of California homes sold in 2012, according to the California Association of Realtors. In 2009 and 2010 they represented 47 percent and 44 percent of the market, respectively. Over the past eight years, first-time buyers averaged 39 percent of the market.

Government-backed Federal Housing Administration loans, which are popular with first-time buyers because they allow for smaller down payments, accounted for 12.3 percent of Bay Area home purchases in March, according to research firm DataQuick. That was down from 20.9 percent in March 2012.

“In recent months the FHA level (in the Bay Area) has been the lowest since summer 2008, reflecting both tougher qualifying standards and the difficulties first-time buyers have competing with investors and other cash buyers,” DataQuick said in a statement.

Neighborhood impact

The strong investor presence brings up questions about the long-term impact on neighborhoods.

“I think it’s a shame that all these properties are going to investors and not to people who actually want to live there and be part of the community,” said Rachel Beth Egenhoefer, who along with Kyle Jennings set out to find a new home before their baby was born. She’s now 5 months old, and they’re still looking. “It’s easy for sellers to take the cash and run, but what about having people who actually care about the neighborhood and want to be there and invest in it?”

Maria Benjamin, executive director of the Community Housing Development Corp. of North Richmond, had similar thoughts. The preponderance of investor buyers, most of whom rent out homes, “creates a lot of absentee landlords and a high turnover in neighborhoods,” she said. “All that causes neighborhood instability.”

Then there’s the impact on the families that spend months looking for a home to buy while staying put – in sometimes less than ideal conditions.

Many prospective buyers “are being forced to just stay where they are renting and make do,” said Jennifer Ames, an agent with Red Oak Realty. “Most of my buyers are young families who have outgrown their spaces. They’re all just hanging in, trying to do the best they can with their circumstances.”

People seeking starter homes do have some things working in their favor. Besides the historically low interest rates, home prices in many areas are still far from their peaks. The Bay Area March median of $436,000, for instance, is about a third lower than the region’s $665,000 peak in summer 2007, DataQuick said.

Still, that window of affordability seems to be closing. The California Association of Realtors on Friday said the state’s “affordability index” (the percentage of home buyers who could afford to purchase a median-priced existing single family home in the state) dropped to 44 percent in the first quarter, down from 56 percent a year earlier.

“Higher home prices put a dent in California’s housing affordability,” the Realtors association said in a statement.

Location counts

The three couples seeking homes all have solid employment and can afford to spend from about $350,000 to $550,000 – typical prices for starter homes in this region. All are looking in the East Bay, which is more affordable than San Francisco and the Peninsula. Alameda County’s current median is $416,000; Contra Costa County’s is $346,000.

Still, prices continue to rise rapidly in most of the region, making the search more difficult. “The bottom line in the decent neighborhoods keeps getting raised,” said Patrick Leaper, an agent with Red Oak Realty. “Entry-level buyers are looking at prices going up 2 or 3 percent a month sometimes. That’s critical for somebody whose finances are (tight). They end up being priced out of the market or forced to go to areas or neighborhoods that they weren’t interested in before.”

Looking around

Sometimes expanding the geographic search is what it takes to land a house. That was the case for the Marionas, who started off looking around Albany, where Robin Mariona works for the Department of Parks and Recreation.

“For the amount of money we could spend, in Albany or North Berkeley we would have gotten a smaller place than our rental,” said Carlos Mariona, an IT director for a catering company. “We were at the cusp where everyone was moving a little more north as they got priced out – El Cerrito, then San Pablo, Richmond, El Sobrante. It seemed you had more bang for the buck there.”

After more than six months of house hunting and countless rejected offers, they found a house in the Richmond View area near Wildcat Canyon Park listed at $324,000. They offered $350,000, and Leaper, their agent, negotiated with the seller to accommodate their VA loan’s tight requirements of completing all termite work before the sale closed.

“We’re very happy,” Carlos Mariona said.

More-affordable areas

Despite rapidly rising prices, more-affordable pockets remain scattered around the Bay Area. For each county, here’s the town with the lowest median price in the first quarter of this year – and how much it’s changed since the same time last year.

County City Median price Q1 2013 YOY change
Alameda Oakland $310,000 48%
Contra Costa Bay Point $153,000 4%
Marin Novato $565,000 39%
Napa American Canyon $360,000 19%
San Francisco Ingleside Heights (S.F.) $410,250 58%
San Mateo East Palo Alto $356,000 27%
Santa Clara East Valley (San Jose) $377,500 28%
Solano Vallejo $175,500 28%
Sonoma Forestville $261,450 -3%

Source: ZipRealty

Read more: http://www.sfchronicle.com/realestate/article/1st-time-buyers-losing-to-investors-4512891.php#ixzz2TJ56qE00

I read this article at:  http://www.sfchronicle.com/realestate/article/1st-time-buyers-losing-to-investors-4512891.php

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

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

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/

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Thanks for reading – Sabrina