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

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Thanks for reading – Sabrina

Bay Area Real Estate Market is Sizzling!

Found this great article by Carolyn Said of the San Francisco Chronicle.  Had to share and add my 2 cents are in italics.

Tight inventory – a dearth of homes for sale – is driving bidding wars throughout the Bay Area, sending prices up and leaving scores of disappointed would-be buyers. Homes that do hit the market sell within days.

So few homes are listed for sale that agents are resurrecting old ways of drumming up business – going door to door, leaving cards and flyers and writing personal letters, asking owners if they’re interested in selling. Social networking and e-mail blasts are being used to increase inventory as well.

This is all too true.  The Caton Team has started targeting areas, condo complexes, neighborhoods and individual homes to find the right home for our buying clients.  It’s that tough!  And with some first time buyers, the window is closing as prices creep up.  Not to mention we are on the edge of our seats worried if interest rates rise.

“People are going old-school, farming their territory,” said Lynda D, an agent in the East Bay, using real estate agent slang for canvassing neighborhoods.

While tight inventory is a national trend, it’s especially pronounced in the Bay Area.

Alameda County, for instance, had 949 homes for sale in February, down 64 percent from the 2,617 on the market at the same time last year, according to data from Realtor.com, the listings website of the National Association of Realtors. Contra Costa County had 899, down 58 percent from 2,152 in February 2012.

“Those are striking reductions in inventory,” said Errol Samuelson, president of Realtor.com.

While inventory numbers did tick up slightly from January to February, that was a normal seasonal change, not an indication of the logjam loosening.

“After seasonal adjustments, inventory is still falling; the underlying trend is still downward,” said Jed Kolko, chief economist with real estate site Trulia.com.

However, he thinks the rate of decline is slowing.

“Inventory tends to fall the most sharply after prices bottom, as no one wants to sell at the bottom, they just want to buy,” he said. Trulia shows that Bay Area prices bottomed more than a year ago.

Price a factor

Sellers remain reluctant and elusive for several reasons. Those who are still underwater – owing more than their house is worth – have the obvious impediment of not wanting to do a short sale.

But many others “feel underwater based on the price they paid,” Samuelson said. That is, someone who paid $700,000 for a home in 2007 won’t feel good about selling it for $625,000 right now, even though the sale would cover their remaining mortgage.

Some potential sellers, seeing prices surge, are hoping to hold out for more. Others who might want to move up to a bigger house fear that the market frenzy means they won’t be able to find or afford anything else.

This is such a dilemma.  If a seller has enough equity, finally, to sell – the next question is – Where do we go?  If a seller wants to stay in the Bay Area, selling now means jumping into the buying pool – and that pool is man eat man!  So this truly creates a problem.

Now that it’s spring, the busiest real estate season, more homes should start hitting the market. But many agents have been taking matters into their own hands, making pitches directly to potential sellers about why it’s time to get off the fence.

Although there are numerous online sites to track homes for sale, “the way the market is set up now is forcing us to go back to the beginning where (agents) walk up to a door and knock and say, ‘Hi, how are you, my name is … ‘ ” said Adelaida M, a Realtor in San Francisco.

Personal touch

She recently worked with a client seeking a home in San Francisco’s Clarendon Heights neighborhood, above Cole Valley. After losing out with bids, she walked the neighborhood with him and identified houses he particularly liked. Mejia looked up the homeowners and wrote personal letters to each, explaining that her client loved the area and was seeking a house there.

“Three weeks later, one person called me back and said ‘We loved your letter, we’d love to talk even though we’re not on the market, come on over,’ ” she said.

Rich and Renee G, the homeowners, said they received two or three agent solicitations a week after unsuccessfully trying to sell the house last year, but ignored them because they were form letters.

I couldn’t agree more.  The Caton Team has taken this stance and only solicits a seller when we have an actual buyer for their home.  We’re not trying to just get listings.  We are trying to unit buyers and sellers.  I personally experienced what it feels like to be a seller for the past three years.  Back and forth with my loan modification paperwork, we placed our home on the market and with no offers, pulled it off the market for a spell.  During that time I got stacks and stacks of form letters.  Truthfully, it was starting to frost my cookies.  It was evident all us Realtors are trying to drum up business, but the form letters were bothering me.  They were heartless and actually hurt me – because we didn’t really want to sell – but had to.  In the end we listed our home in October of 2012 and sold it within weeks!  Now, on the other side of the fence, I consider how a homeowner would feel when they get a form letter.  Therefore The Caton Team takes the time to write a real letter, talk about the buyers we are representing and take it from there.

“Adelaida’s note was different; more personalized,” Rich said. “We were planning to put the house on the market again, but the note just pre-empted that.”

Her client ended up visiting the house, making an all-cash offer and buying it. “It was a really stress-free experience for both” the buyer and seller, she said.

If you do ask The Caton Team of your Realtor to solicit homes for you – be prepared to pay fair market value or more because if you aren’t willing too – the seller will simply put the home on the market, get multiple offers and sell for top dollar.  So in other words, you need to ‘make them an offer they cannot refuse.’

Beating the bushes for sellers is an about-face from just 18 months ago, when the challenge was to find people who wanted to buy.

A corresponding trend is that homes are selling very quickly.

‘Unbelievable’

“The median days on market in Contra Costa is 13 days – that’s unbelievable,” Samuelson said. A year ago it was 33 days.

Redfin has identified another trend it calls “flash sales” – homes that sell within 24 hours of being listed, usually because a buyer swoops in with an offer too good to refuse. Often, those are buyers who have lost other bidding wars and are determined to land a property.

In the past six months, almost 1,000 Bay Area properties went under contract within one day, Redfin said.

That’s the truth.  The Caton Team has started showing homes the day they come on the market and are prepared, right then and there, to write an offer if our client likes the home.  Gone are the days, for now at least, that you could see a home, think about it, maybe sleep on it, then write the offer.  Lately it’s felt like – ‘you like it – let’s write’!   And with each offer we write for each buyer, we’re doing everything we can to make the offer more likable to the seller.  We are using every tool in our toolbox and the toolbox of our clients. 

“I just had that experience at a house in the Oakland hills,” DiVito said. “I held the brokers’ tour just before putting it on the market. A buyer and agent walked in and offered us our list price in cash on the spot.”

Underscoring how much the market has changed, she said her sellers had tried to sell the house a year ago “and could not move this property, even though they lowered the price three times.”

Been there done that.  It is amazing how much our real estate market has changed in one year alone.  In 2010 and 2011 I had my own condo to sell, and nobody was interested.  October 2012 – put it on the market and within days I had several offers.  In the end, 20 offers on the same condo.  Amazing what a year can do.

Same-day offer

The sellers, who were buying a new home and needed to sell quickly, were happy to take the same-day offer since a cash deal meant it couldn’t be derailed by problems with financing or appraisals.

“Flash-sale terms tend to be really good because (buyers) really want to lock down that property quickly,” DiVito said. “They’re more willing to meet the sellers’ needs to scoop it up before anyone else gets it.”

What happens next with inventory is a big question hanging over the real estate recovery.

“My best guess is that you’ll see an orderly return of inventory to the market,” Samuelson said. “I don’t expect that you’ll see the floodgates open and torrents of properties hit the market. But for each percentage point increase in price, there will be some people who for life reasons have wanted to sell for the past five years – their kids moved out, they got divorced – and now feel that the time is right and they have enough equity.”

Don’t be discouraged if you are a buyer out there.  Don’t sit back either.  The best education a buyer can have is living the market.  So if you are thinking of buying a home, get pre-approved, call The Caton Team or your Realtor and come up with a plan.  The more active you are today – the better prepared you will be tomorrow.

I read this article at: http://www.sfgate.com/default/article/Homes-sell-faster-than-ever-in-Bay-Area-4375058.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

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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