Friday, March 28, 2014

It's Spring--How to Get Your Home Ready for Market

Well, Spring officially arrived last week, although with the weather we've had here this winter, you'd be hard pressed to deny that it's been here for awhile now. Spring is officially the busiest season for selling homes in Marin.  It's also a great time to get out and handles any repairs or upgrade needs that may have cropped up since last fall.
Although the Bay Area enjoyed an unseasonably warm winter with fewer than average storms, that doesn’t necessarily mean your home emerged unscathed. Remember that many buyers initially judge a home based on its curb appeal, so those who plan to sell in the near future would do well to make sure their houses appear attractive and well-cared-for.
To help you spruce up your home and get it in tip-top selling condition, we asked our real estate professionals for spring home-maintenance tips that should be at the top of your list.
  • Check your home’s exterior walkways, sidewalks, stairways, and foot paths for possible trip hazards and cracks.
  • Look out for tree roots that can undermine foundations, driveways, and walkways, as well as vines that can damage siding and trim.
  • Clean gutters to remove debris caused by winds and rain. While you’re at it, check to ensure that gutters aren’t loose or leaky.
  • Trim overgrown tree branches and shrubs. Pay careful attention to areas around the chimney and roof, which will help reduce the chance of fire, roof damage, and buildup of debris in gutters and on roof surfaces.
  • Give decks, driveways, fences, and windows a good scrubbing – particularly if you’re planning to put your home on the market. You may want to use a pressure washer for these jobs.
  • Touch up any peeling or cracking paint – both indoors and outdoors.
  • Caulk bathroom tubs and shower stalls to prevent moisture from seeping behind the wall covering and under the flooring.
  • While you have the caulk out, look for any gaps around windows and doors. Fill up crevices that are wider than a nickel.
  • Check to make sure no water has leaked into the attic or seeped into the basement via cracks in the foundation – especially important after a rainy winter.
  • Winter rains also can cause your lawn to quickly become overgrown. Ensure that your lawn-care equipment is in good working order by sharpening your lawnmower’s blades and changing
If you need assistance is finding a top of the line, reliable contractor for any of these tasks, give us a call.  We maintain a list of professionals that we've recommended or used for our own properties or those of our clients that we'd be happy to refer you to.
Also, if you have any other questions, let us know. We are always glad to offer our assistance. Our #'s: Peter : (415) 279-6466; Jane: (415) 531-4091.

Friday, March 21, 2014

The Pace Picks UP!

Well, this probably is not news to you, unless you've been off in the wilderness somewhere without any form of contact to civilization. The market for homes has picked up dramatically, and it continues to do so at a rapidly increasing pace.  The figures for the Marin market below show the specifics, but, as they only go through the end of February, they do not show the continuing rapid pickup in the market since then. However, I can assure you that this speedup is definitely continuing, just from what I see in the market on a daily basis.  In our own case, since the end of February, we have had three listings that all received multiple offers. One has closed, after at least ten offers, well above asking price.

For more info on this situation, read on.
The median sales price approached the $1 million milestone in Marin County, finishing February at $995,000. Marin prices surpassed the $1 million mark only once in 2013.MonthlyMarketUpdate_Feb14_Marin
Homes stayed on the market an average of 74 days, 10 days fewer than in January but still longer than last spring and summer. The MSI shrunk slightly from the previous month to 2.2.
Sellers in Marin County took home an average of 98 percent of original price, the most since October.
Defining Marin County: Our real estate markets in Marin County include the cities of Belvedere, Corte Madera, Fairfax, Greenbrae, Kentfield, Larkspur, Mill Valley, Novato, Ross, San Anselmo, San Rafael, Sausalito, and Tiburon. Sales data in the adjoining chart includes single-family homes in these communities.

So, if you're thinking of selling, what do you do? Simple! Call us, and let us guide you as to what the market is doing, and how to price your home accordingly and receive the best solid offer. If you're out there trying to buy and are getting more and more frustrated or disappointed over the rapid move in the market, call us as well. We know what is going on right up to the latest listings and closings, and can advise you as to the factors that likely will affect the success or failure of an offer for a particular property. Take advantage of our knowledge of the market, and related factors, such as interest rates and recent changes in local demographics. Our numbers: Peter; (415) 279-6466; Jane; (415) 531-4091.  We'd like to hear from you, and help you work your way through whatever issues you may face in the current market.
Additionally, as the quarter end approaches, look for our latest issue of our regular quarterly newsletter of Mill Valley. If you're not on our mailing list, let us know, and we can add you to our readers!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Saving Energy Can Save Mortgage Money Too!

Like most homeowners, I'm certain that you periodically check out mortgage info to find new ways, be they lower interest rates or different loan maturities, to reduce your monthly savings when you pay your mortgage.  Now, there are some newer ideas that can help you not only save money, but also help protect the environment. These involve obtaining a new mortgage that also provides for the financing of the purchase and installation of power saving items.

Well, read on!
So you’re buying a home and are totally in love with the place, except that the doors and windows all but invite cold air inside, the exterior walls have no insulation, and the heating and air-conditioning systems were installed during the Harding administration.Rooftop solar panels
You need an energy-efficient mortgage.
Several federal agencies and many lenders now allow you to finance a wide range of energy-saving home improvements — from tankless water heaters and newer heating and air-conditioning systems to solar panels and geothermal heating – with your home loan.
Fannie Mae, the Federal Housing Administration, and the Veterans Administration, for example, offer loan programs with special benefits for energy-efficient improvements. The cost of the improvements is added to the mortgage, but typically lower energy bills more than offset the higher monthly loan payments.
A report by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development cites, as an example, a California couple that added $2,300 in energy improvements to their home loan. The monthly mortgage payment increased by $17, but the couple saves $45 each month through lower utility bills.
Getting an energy-efficient mortgage begins with an energy-rating survey. A trained examiner will assess the home’s energy efficiency and generate a score using a Home Energy Rating System index. On the HERS scale from 0 to 150, the lower the score, the more energy efficient the home. Factors such as insulation, appliance efficiencies, window types, local climate, and utility rates are used to rate the home and calculate energy costs.
The survey helps determine which improvements are included in the loan. Once the loan is approved and the home is sold, work starts immediately to make the dwelling more energy efficient.
With conventional loans, funding for energy improvements is usually capped at 10 percent of the final appraised value of the property. FHA and VA loans typically have more stringent limits.
By the way, energy-efficient mortgages are also available to current owners — remodelers, as well as those making improvements before they put their home on the market.
Energy-efficient homes are especially attractive to buyers, according to a recent article in U.S. News & World Report. And more than two-thirds of builders and home remodelers report that their customers will pay more money for “green” homes, according to a study by McGraw Hill Construction. In addition, 81 percent of consumers say energy efficiency somewhat-to-very-much affects their homebuying decision, according to the Shelton Group. 
So, what are you waiting for? Need advice or market info, call us! We'd be pleased to help. Peter: (415) 279-6466; Jane: (415) 531-4091.

Friday, March 07, 2014

Best Improvements for Return on Your Dollar

Well, as you know doubt have heard time and again, you can increase the value of your home, as well as its enjoyability, by making home improvements and/or remodels.  This, overall, can be the case, although certain projects definitely have a higher rate of return on your Dollar invested than do others. The following will help you decide what can be most advantageous for you--now and when you decide to sell.

Remodeling activity is at its highest pace in nearly nine years, according to the National Association of Home Builders, as homeowners regain confidence in the economy and “upgrade their homes and make repairs or replacements that were deferred during tough times.”Front door
If you’re thinking of making improvements before putting your home on the market, the National Association of Realtors suggests you focus on outdoor projects first.
“A home’s curb appeal is always critical since it’s the first impression for potential buyers,” NAR President Steve Brown recently said. “That’s why exterior replacement projects offer the greatest bang for the buck. Projects such as entry door, siding and window replacements can recoup homeowners more than 78 percent of costs upon resale.”
Brown’s comments accompanied the release of a remodeling guide, “Best Bets for Adding Value to Your Home in 2014,” posted on the NAR’s HouseLogic website.
The HouseLogic guide is based on a comprehensive survey published by Remodeling magazine that presents costs for  home improvement projects in 101 cities across the United States.
Survey results for the San Francisco area show that homeowners making any one of 19 improvements would add more to the resale value of their home than the cost of the remodeling project — up to 177.6 percent!
Here is a list of remodeling projects to San Francisco area homes, ranked by their return on investment, by Remodeling magazine:
1. Deck addition (wood): 177.6 percent ROI
2. Entry door replacement (steel): 174.2 percent
3. Minor kitchen remodel: 146.6 percent
4. Garage door replacement: 144 percent
5. Bathroom remodel: 136.5 percent
6. Entry door replacement (fiberglass): 136.1 percent
7. Attic bedroom: 135.2 percent
8. Window replacement (wood): 133.8 percent
9. Deck addition (composite): 126.2 percent
10. Family room addition: 122.4 percent
11. Tie: Garage addition and window replacement (vinyl): 120.1 percent
13. Basement remodel: 117.8 percent
14. Two-story addition: 113.1 percent
15. Major kitchen remodel: 111.7 percent
16. Bathroom addition: 111.1 percent
17. Siding replacement (vinyl): 109.8 percent
18. Master suite addition: 105 percent
19. Roofing replacement: 100.2 percent.

So, now that you know, time to call the contractor! And if you're thinking of selling, it's time to call us! Peter: (415) 279-6466; Jane: (415) 531-4091.