Friday, February 27, 2015

The Value of Landscaping

You always hear the term--curb appeal.  That's how your home's appearance looks to prospective buyers when they first pull up at the curb in front of your house.  Good curb appeal can add thousands of Dollars to the amount you finally receive when you sell, while a lack of curb appeal can cost you similar amounts.  Though it's still February, it's NEVER too soon to consider how to improve your curb appeal.

Sometimes all it takes is something simple like a warm spell in winter to change our outlook on the world and get us thinking about the future. Such is life in the Bay Area.
DaffodilsBut spring really is just around the corner. Besides, it’s never too early to start thinking about spring plantings and home landscaping plans for the coming year, especially if you plan to put your property on the market.
The Professional Landcare Network, the national trade association for landscape professionals, offers smart advice for homeowners looking to get a jump on spring. Here’s a quick summary of the organization’s recommendations:
  • First, inspect the trees and shrubs in your yard, looking for limbs or branches that might be broken or damaged. Prune them or have them removed by a professional.
  • Rake away leaves and other debris from plant beds, prune any dead branches, and create tidy borders around the beds using an edging tool.
  • Test the soil every few years to make sure it has the proper pH balance and nutrient mix. Most garden centers sell soil-testing kits if you’re in do-it-yourself mode, or you can consult a lawn-care or landscape professional.
  • Depending on the plants in your yard and the soil conditions, you may want to fertilize it, along with trees and shrubs. Check with an expert for the timing and type of fertilizer. When possible, choose slow-release or controlled-release nutrients to prevent runoff and increase absorption.
  • Add an inch-thick layer of mulch in plant beds and around trees, but don’t let the mulch touch the tree trunk and never let it accumulate to more than a three-inch depth. Mulch makes planting areas look neat and also helps to retain moisture in the soil. It keeps the roots cool in the summer and insulates them in the winter.
  • Check your outdoor lights for broken fixtures. Reset timers when daylight saving time begins on March 8.
If you have questions about pest management at home or in your yard or garden, contact  a master gardener with the University of California Cooperative Extension for free “plant doctor” diagnosis and management resources.
If you have any questions about landscaping or experts in the field, call us.  We would be happy to recommend folks we've worked with for years!
Speaking of calling, whatever the question--buying or selling, or anything else (such as the above subject of landscaping), we'd love to hear from you, and will be only too happy to assist. Call: Peter: (415) 279-6466; Jane: (415) 531-4091--an don't forget to use the area code now that the new Marin County phone overlay is in place.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Staging Can REALLY Help You Sell!

By now, nearly everyone is familiar with the concept of staging homes to help them sell.  But exactly HOW MUCH does it help? The following may help explain in detail its value. 
According to the National Association of Realtors’ 2015 Profile of Home Staging, 96 percent of surveyed real estate professionals who primarily work with buyers believe that staging a property makes an impact on most or some their clientele, while only 4 percent think it has no effect whatsoever.
On the flip side of the coin, 51 percent of real estate professionals who mostly represent sellers would recommend that all or some of their clients – including those with high-priced or difficult-to-sell homes – stage the property before holding an open house. Rather than a full-blown stage, 44 percent of sell-side respondents would advise clients to simply declutter the home and make necessary repairs, while 5 percent would recommend no staging activities at all.
Interestingly, 71 percent of sell-side real estate professionals believe that staging adds value to a home, compared with 52 percent of those representing buyers. Roughly one-third of respondents on both sides of the transaction estimated that staging can increase a home’s value by 1 to 5 percent.
Despite the gap concerning the necessity of staging, both sides were in exact agreement when ranking rooms by order of importance in a staged home: living room, kitchen, master bedroom, dining room, bathroom, children’s bedroom, and guest bedroom.
If you decide to hire a professional to stage your home before potential buyers walk through the door, you may wonder how much it costs – and who’s going to foot the bill. According to NAR’s survey of sell-side real estate professionals, the median cost of a typical staging job is $675, and 62 percent of respondents said that they include it as part of their client-services package.
Keep in mind that every home and selling situation is unique, so plan to discuss staging with your trusted real estate professional before you make a final decision.
Still skeptical?  GIve us a call and allow us to introduce you to the best stagers on the market for all types of homes!  You'll be glad you did! Peter: (415) 279-6466; Jane: (415) 531-4091.  We can also help in many other ways--just call us and see!

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Bay Area Job GRowth Outpaces US--This Means More Qualified Buyers

In 2014, the rate nearly doubled the US job rate. This means more folks employed, which means more people able to afford a home.  Good news for those of you selling.
The Bay Area demonstrated impressive job gains over the past year that far outpaced the national growth rate, another sign that intense demand for local real estate is almost certain to continue in 2015.green_up_arrow
According to a new report from the Palo Alto-based Center For Continuing Study of the California Economy, employment increased by 4.0 percent in San Jose and 3.8 percent in San Francisco between December 2013 and December 2014. Nationally, job growth registered 2.1 percent during that same time period.
The report says that the nine-county Bay Area added 11,000 jobs from November to December, accounting for nearly half of the state’s monthly totals. CCSCE notes that the Bay Area remains California’s leader in terms of job growth, driven by hiring surges in the booming high-tech sector.
Our regional economy ended 2014 on a particularly strong note, with jobless claims dropping from the preceding month in all nine Bay Area counties, according to recent data from the California Employment Development Department. Six local counties now boast unemployment rates of 5 percent or less, the level that many economists believes represents full employment.
Marin County unemployment claims dropped to 3.4 percent on a nonseasonally adjusted basis in December – the lowest in California. San Mateo County had the state’s second lowest unemployment rate at 3.5 percent, followed by San Francisco County at 3.8 percent.
Jobless claims declined to 4.5 percent in Santa Clara County, dropping below 5 percent for the first time since April 2008, according to historical data from the EDD. Unemployment fell to 4.7 percent in Sonoma County and 5.0 percent in Alameda County. Contra Costa and Napa counties are also hovering right around full-employment status, both with jobless rates of 5.1 percent.
California’s unemployment rate also dropped from November to December, to close out the year at 7.0 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis, the lowest since June 2008 and down from a peak of 12.4 percent in several months of 2010. Here in Marin, the jobless rate was the lowest of any county in the state--3.4%! Want to discuss taking advantage of this?  Give us a call: Peter: (415) 279-6466; Jane: (415) 531-4091. We'd be pleased to help you.