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Only ethnic demographic to increase homeownership rate

house key background

The homeownership rate for Hispanics increased in 2016, contrary to other ethnic groups, who all saw a decrease in homeownership.

from http://www.housingwire.com/articles/39132?sf55059658=1

The homeownership rate among Hispanics increased to 46% in 2016, up from 45.6% the year before, according to a report from the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals. Data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows the overall homeownership rate dropped from 63.7% in 2015 to 63.4% in 2016. At the same time, the African-American rate also dipped from 43% to 42.2% and the Asian-American rate dropped from 56.5% to 55.5%.

Hispanics were the only ethnic demographic with an increase in their homeownership rate. Hispanics also led the nation in household formations with a net increase of 330,000 households in 2016.

The overall homeownership rate in the U.S. is currently hovering at the lowest level in 50 years. Hispanics broke the trend due to their high workforce participation rate, according to NAHREP’s report.

Also helping advance the growth is the increase of Hispanic entrepreneurs in mortgage banking and the real estate brokerage business.

“With credit remaining tight and limited housing inventory in several markets, these numbers are extremely encouraging and a testament to the economic resilience of the Hispanic community,” 2016 NAHREP President Joseph Nery said. “As the mortgage industry continues to recognize the exceptional opportunities in serving the Hispanic market and adjusts accordingly, we expect these numbers to only improve.”

http://www.housingwire.com/articles/39132?sf55059658=1  Kelsey Ramírez

This post below has some great information on how to choose an inspector when purchasing your next home. I would also add to schedule your home inspections as soon as possible after your offer is accepted. You want to allow enough time for repairs to be completed before closing. If there is too much wrong with the house, you will want to move on quickly to find the right house for you.

So you made an offer, it was accepted, and now your next task is to have the home inspected prior to closing. More often than not, your agent may have made your offer contingent on a clean home inspection.

This contingency allows you to renegotiate the price paid for the home, ask the sellers to cover repairs, or even, in some cases, walk away. Your agent can advise you on the best course of action once the report is filed.

How to Choose an Inspector

Your agent will most likely have a short list of inspectors that they have worked with in the past that they can recommend to you. Realtor.com suggests that you consider the following 5 areas when choosing the right home inspector for you:

  1. Qualifications – find out what’s included in your inspection & if the age or location of your home may warrant specific certifications or specialties.
  2. Sample Reports – ask for a sample inspection report so you can review how thoroughly they will be inspecting your dream home. The more detailed the report, the better in most cases.
  3. References – do your homework – ask for phone numbers and names of past clients that you can call to ask about their experience.
  4. Memberships – Not all inspectors belong to a national or state association of home inspectors, and membership in one of these groups should not be the only way to evaluate your choice. Membership in one of these organizations often means that there is continued training and education provided.
  5. Errors & Omission Insurance – Find out what the liability of the inspector or inspection company is once the inspection is over. The inspector is only human after all, and it is possible that they might miss something they should have seen.

Ask your inspector if it’s ok for you to tag along during the inspection, that way they can point out anything that should be addressed or fixed.

Don’t be surprised to see your inspector climbing on the roof, crawling around in the attic, and on the floors. The job of the inspector is to protect your investment and find any issues with the home, including but not limited to: the roof, plumbing, electrical components, appliances, heating & air conditioning systems, ventilation, windows, the fireplace & chimney, the foundation and so much more!

Bottom Line

They say ‘ignorance is bliss,’ but not when investing your hard-earned money in a home of your own. Work with a professional you can trust to give you the most information possible about your new home so that you can make the most educated decision about your purchase.

http://www.keepingcurrentmatters.com/2017/01/29/what-to-expect-from-your-home-inspection/

WASHINGTON – Feb. 15, 2017 – Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen told Congress on Tuesday that an interest rate hike in March remains on the table, pushing back against market expectations that the Fed will stand pat.

http://www.floridarealtors.org/NewsAndEvents/

“Precisely when we take an action – March, May or June – I can’t tell you,” Yellen told the Senate Banking Committee. “I would say every meeting is live.”

Fed fund futures say there’s just an 18 percent chance of a rate increase in March vs. about 50 percent in June. The Fed raised its benchmark rate by a quarter percentage point in December to a range of 0.5 percent to 0.75 percent. That was its first hike in a year.

In December, Fed policymakers forecast three rate increases in 2017, up from its estimate of two bumps in September, citing an improving economy and labor market.

San Francisco Fed President John Williams recently suggested a March increase is a possibility. And Chicago Fed Chief Charles Evans, typically a “dove” who prefers to keep rates low to spur growth, said he officially predicted two rate hikes but could be comfortable with three moves.

Yellen also reiterated that Fed policymakers continue to expect gradual rate increases amid a moderately expanding economy and inflation that should slowly rise to the Fed’s annual 2 percent target.

Fed policymakers generally have not factored President Trump’s fiscal stimulus proposals into their economic growth and rate forecasts. Trump has proposed up to $1 trillion to upgrade the nation’s crumbling roads, bridges and waterways, higher defense spending and big tax cuts.

“It looks like (the Fed’s policymaking committee) believes they’re unlikely to happen or thinks they’re not particularly pro-growth,” Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., told Yellen. “The rest of the world has a different view.”

“Most of my colleagues decided they would not speculate on what economic policy changes would be put into effect and what their effect would be,” Yellen responded. She added: “While it is not my intention to opine on specific tax or spending proposals, I would point to the importance of improving the pace of longer-run economic growth and raising American living standards with policies aimed at improving productivity,” Yellen added.

Yellen said investments in research and development and job training would be effective in bolstering weak labor productivity to juice long-term economic growth, though she said infrastructure investment also could help.

She also said she hopes that Trump’s proposed stimulus will not run up the federal debt. “I would also hope that fiscal policy changes will be consistent with putting U.S. fiscal accounts on a sustainable trajectory,” Yellen told the Senate banking committee. Higher debt is likely to push up long-term rates, increasing borrowing costs for consumers and businesses.

Separately, lawmakers pressed Yellen on when the Fed plans to reduce its roughly $4 trillion balance sheet. During and after the Great Recession and financial crisis, the Fed purchased more than $3 trillion in mortgage-backed securities and Treasury bonds to push down mortgage rates and long-term interest rates broadly.

Some Fed policymakers recently have said the central bank should begin to unwind those purchases now that it has started raising its benchmark short-term rate. Although Fed officials don’t plan to sell the assets because that might abruptly drive up long-term rates, they’ve said they eventually will stop reinvesting the funds from the securities as they mature, allowing the balance sheet to gradually shrink.

http://www.floridarealtors.org/NewsAndEvents  Copyright © 2017, USATODAY.com, USA TODAY, Paul Davidson

NEW YORK – Feb. 8, 2017 – Women, on average, earn less than their male counterparts, but single females buy homes at more than twice the rate of men.

http://www.floridarealtors.org/NewsAndEvents/article.cfm?p=1&id=348220

In 2016, single women accounted for 17 percent of homebuyers in the last year compared to just 7 percent of single men, according to the National Association of Realtors® (NAR). The housing gender gap has existed for a while, but it continues to widen for a variety of reasons, according to Jessica Lautz, NAR’s managing director of survey research and communications.

For one, single women are more likely to be parenting on their own than single men; as such, they may be more likely to seek stable housing for their children. In 2011, there were 8.6 million single-mother households and only 2.6 million single-father households, according to the Pew Research Center.

“If you have children, it’s definitely going to play a role in where you’re thinking of living and how,” Lautz says. “And a mortgage can provide financial security. I think women, even with lower incomes, want a place where they can have roots and really own a place. The psychological desire to do that is great.”

And, despite cultural assumptions about women’s desire for marriage, single women without kids are more likely to be drawn to “singledom” lifestyles than men are, says Bella DePaulo, author of “Singled Out” and a professor at the University of California at Santa Barbara.

“Some research suggests that single women are especially unlikely to be lonely – again, contrary to our stereotypes,” DePaulo told Bloomberg. “Buying a home is a way of living your single life fully, rather than seeing your single years as just marking time until you find ‘the one.'”

The wage gap may still play a part in the house hunt, however. Single women tend to buy their first homes at an older age than men – 34 years old compared with 31, according to NAR research. They also tend to buy in a lower average price at a median $173,000 compared to $190,600.

http://www.floridarealtors.org/NewsAndEvents/article.cfm?p=1&id=348220

Source: “Why Single Women Are Buying Homes at Twice the Rate of Single Men,” Bloomberg (Jan. 31, 2017)

© Copyright 2017 INFORMATION, INC. Bethesda, MD (301) 215-4688

Is This the Year to Move Up to Your Dream Home? If So, Do it Early | Keeping Current Matters

It appears that Americans are regaining faith in the U.S. economy. The following indexes have each shown a dramatic jump in consumer confidence in their latest surveys:

  1. The University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index
  2. National Federation of Independent Businesses’ Small Business Optimism Index
  3. CNBC All-America Economic Survey
  4. The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Survey

It usually means good news for the housing market when the country sees an optimistic future. People begin to dream again about the home their family has always wanted, and some make plans to finally make that dream come true.

If you are considering moving up to your dream home, it may be better to do it earlier in the year than later. The two components of your monthly mortgage payment (home prices and interest rates) are both projected to increase as the year moves forward, and interest rates may increase rather dramatically. Here are some predictions on where rates will be by the end of the year:

HSH.com:

“We think that conforming 30-year fixed rates probably make it into the4.625 percent to 4.75 percent range at some point during 2017 as a peak.”

Svenja Gudell, Zillow’s Chief Economist:

“I wouldn’t be surprised if the 30-year fixed mortgage rate hits 4.75 percent.”

Mark Fleming, the Chief Economist at First American:

“[I see] mortgage rates getting much closer to 5 percent at the end of next year.”

Lawrence Yun, NAR Chief Economist:

“By this time next year, expect the 30-year fixed rate to likely be in the 4.5 percent to 5 percent range.”

Bottom Line

If you are feeling good about your family’s economic future and are considering making a move to your dream home, doing it sooner rather than later makes the most sense.

Agents, did you know you can share a personalized version of this post? Learn more!

house outline on tablet

Every real estate agent wants a well-informed home buyer who’s prepared to take on the responsibility of home ownership. Of course, not everyone is enlightened about the homebuying process when they seek your services. One way to get your clients ready for the transaction is to refer them to homebuyer education courses before they launch their search.

A Sample of Homebuyer Education Programs

HUD provides a comprehensive list of its approved resources, including homebuyer education courses and one-on-one counseling. Here are a few of those programs, which are available online and can be completed at the buyer’s leisure.

Framework
Cost: $75
Time to completion: About four hours
Includes nine education modules with a quiz at the end. Coupons are available, which agents can provide as a gift to clients. After completing the course, users download and save a Certificate of Completion. For buyers who purchase a home through Fannie Mae’s HomePath REO program, the cost of the course will be reimbursed. Fannie Mae also offers closing cost incentives to first-time buyers in the HomePath program who complete the Framework course.

MGIC Homebuyer Education
Cost: Free
Time to completion: About an hour
This program is suitable for buyers who are just beginning to learn about the homebuying process and who do not yet have a lender. It’s approachable and user-friendly, and the course can be taken by a “stealth” user without registering. Users can also register and take a quiz at the end, which will satisfy requirements for Freddie Mac Home Possible programs.

eHome America
Cost: $99
Time to completion: Eight hours, taken online at your own pace
This is one of several financial courses offered through the HUD-approved “Home Purchase” program. It covers topics such as determining if now is the right time to buy, shopping for a home, and getting approved for a home loan.

CreditSmart Steps to Homeownership
Cost: Free
Time to completion: About two hours
This program focuses on good credit: how you can improve your credit score, why it’s necessary to do so, and how it leads to home ownership. Users receive a certificate, which can be used for Freddie Mac Home Possible programs.

United Guaranty’s Home Ownership Course
Cost: Free
Time to completion: Two to three-and-a-half hours
Satisfies the homeownership education requirement for Freddie Mac’s Home Possible affordable home program. After you complete the course and assessment, your lender (if applicable) will be notified by email.

These courses, many of which are now being offered online by lenders and nonprofit community organizations, are useful for all clients — those entering the market for the first time or even making a second or third home purchase. Many real estate professionals try to act as full-service providers able to solve any problem or answer any question, notes Joe Weisbord, director of credit and housing access at Fannie Mae, whose HomeReady program requires prospective buyers to take a HUD-approved homeowner course in order to qualify for a loan. But “people don’t like to admit what they don’t know,” he says, and your clients may not always come to you if they’re embarrassed about their lack of knowledge.

By linking them to a course providing “independent, unbiased information that helps them understand choices they’re going to make,” you’re helping meet your clients’ needs while building trust.

For nervous first-time buyers, those with poor credit, or others who need extra attention while learning the homebuying process, pointing them to a course can also be a great way to solidify the client-agent relationship. Homebuyer courses aim to demystify credit-score requirements, budgeting, shopping for a mortgage, home inspections, insurance, and maintenance, among other items. This takes the pressure off you, and you can spend your time honing in on the type of properties your clients are interested in. You’ll be ready to go once they are, and “it’s less likely that unknown circumstances will arise that will lead to the sale falling apart,” Weisbord says.

But homebuyer courses — many of which are free, but costs can fall along a range of up to $100 — can also convince a prospective buyer that they’re not ready to purchase. That’s still good for the agent in the long run, Lane says. “I’m not afraid of losing [a client]. If someone wants to rush and make a bad decision, I don’t want to be a part of that. It’s important in our business to take our clients through a rigorous fact-finding mission.”

The in-depth programs position buyers who may struggle with the lending process to successfully purchase once they’ve built up their savings or repaired their credit. That could help them secure a more competitive mortgage rate and lead to a bigger home sale later on. “Today’s sale might be critical, but the way to build a real estate career is through a chain of referrals,” says Anne McCulloch, senior vice president for credit and housing access at Fannie Mae. “People who don’t succeed are not the best referrals.”

For certain lending programs, including Freddie Mac’s Home Possible Mortgages, completing a HUD-approved homebuyer education course is mandatory. A newly revised course called Framework, a joint enterprise of the Housing Partnership Networkand the Minnesota Homeownership Center that is available to consumers nationwide, draws on research of best practices in online learning, says Framework president Danielle Samalin. “We’ve learned that content tied to emotional information is more readily retained,” she says, adding that Framework employs motion-graphic videos and homebuyer stories, among other content. “Most people complete it within a day of signing up.”

Other lenders are offering education resources with incentives. In May, Wells Fargo debuted a new program called yourFirstMorgage, which includes a 1/8 percent reduction on mortgage rates for buyers with down payments of less than 10 percent if they complete a homebuyer education course.

For Lane, referring clients to these courses is a way to make her value proposition as a real estate professional stronger. “Every time you provide something for a client, you build that bond,” she says. “It’s a way to separate yourself from the herd, a long-term relationship-building opportunity.”

BY BETH FRANKEN   http://realtormag.realtor.org/sales-and-marketing/feature/article/2016/10/help-clients-get-smarter-about-ownership

Many first-time home buyers receive down payment assistance from a family member or close friend, but they may not realize there are specific guidelines they must follow when they take money from others for a home purchase.

Read more: Help Clients Get Smarter About Ownership

First off, the down payment must be considered a gift. If it’s considered a loan, the lender must then factor that into the mortgage approval amount, and your buyers may then qualify for less than they may have needed to.

Your buyers will need a gift letter from the person or persons who gave them the money. The person who gifted your buyer the money will need to state on paper that he or she does not plan on asking for the money back in return and that it is, indeed, a gift.

“The gift letter is very serious,” says Casey Fleming, mortgage adviser and author of “The Loan Guide: How to Get the Best Possible Mortgage.” “While it is doubtful that a lender would ever audit a file after the fact to see if the recipient is paying the donor back, if the transaction goes bad, you might very well find yourself with a subpoena in your hand.” Remember, you cannot lie on a mortgage application. It’s a felony.

The gifter may also be required to provide bank statements, possibly even up to two months of statements from their account.

Your buyers also likely will want to get the down payment in advance during the early planning stages of their house hunt. That could also help save them from possible delays later on.

“If the funds are ‘seasoned’ — meaning that they’ve been in the account long enough so that the last two bank statements don’t show the deposit — the gift does not have to be addressed,” Fleming says.

Also, there is a limit to how much your buyer can be gifted tax-free. Any gift of $14,000 and up will face a tax bill, under current rules.

That said, “it is $14,000 per year per donor, so a couple could give $28,000 ($14,000 from each) to their child,” Fleming says.

Source: “Getting a Down Payment as a Gift? Avoid the Mistakes That Could Mess You Up,” realtor.com® (Nov. 28, 2016)

DCIM100MEDIA

539 Baywood Dr S, Dunedin

HARRISBURG, Penn. – Nov. 1, 2016 – For the third year in a row, the Pennsylvania Association of Realtors®(PAR) created a Ratings System Report Card on websites that allows users to review real estate agents.

from http://www.floridarealtors.org/NewsAndEvents/article.

“Among both consumers and Realtors, there is a belief that real estate practitioners do not operate with uniformly high levels of ‘professionalism’ – though there is not a single accepted definition of that term,” the authors noted. PAR says it created “a rating system that rates the evaluation systems themselves.”

To create the report card, PAR says it spent time debating the criteria to use to keep it objective and useful. Overall, it focused on how a rating system handled an agent’s education, knowledge and communication skills with clients. It also considered the format of the reviews and the questions it asked. Finally, PAR judged “honesty” by looking at the way a review was created, including “who could create reviews, if they could be challenged and what sort of advertising was displayed on the site.”

PAR says it judged nine websites that review agents on a 0-10 scale, with 0 being the worst and 10 being the best. Overall, one website – RealSatisfied – led the list with a maximum score of 10. The lowest score of 5 went to two websites: HomeLight and Yelp.

Agent review websites ranked by score

  1. RealSatisfied (score: 10)
  2. realtor.com (score: 9.5)
  3. RatedAgent (score: 9)
  4. QSC (score: 8.5)
  5. Zillow (score: 7, tied with Trulia)
  6. Trulia (score: 7, tied with Zillow)
  7. Stik (score: 6.5)
  8. Yelp (score: 5, tied with HomeLight)
  9. HomeLight (score: 5, tied with Yelp)

PAR created a side-by-side comparison chart of each website and its ratings, along with a one-page description of each website’s pros and cons.

© 2016 Florida Realtors®  http://www.floridarealtors.org/NewsAndEvents/article

This is an impressive post that brings out excellent points for both sellers and buyers. These are the kinds of things that we Realtors explain weekly, if not daily. Thank you Cara!
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Don’t go into the buying and selling process blind

As a layperson, you don’t know what you don’t know when it comes to handling the single largest transaction you’ll likely make in your life.

As with most important things in life, you wouldn’t try to handle a legal situation without an attorney, build your own house or take on the IRS solo to challenge a tax matter. Well, buying or selling a home is no different.

Here are 10 reasons you should never buy or sell a home without a agent.

1. Knowledge is not power

A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing when it comes to real estate. At the click of a mouse or a tap on your phone, you can get an instant valuation of your property.

Is that value realistic? On which properties is it based? What did those properties have that yours does or does not? What were the dates and details of those sales?

That valuation could be significantly more or less than what your property is actually worth. Just like using the internet to self-diagnose a medical issue is not the best idea, the same applies to real estate.

2. What do you know about the market?

To the above point, as a seller, do you know what other options buyers are likely to consider when they are looking at your home? Do you know who the typical buyer audience is, where they are coming from and how to find them?

Do you know what agents likely work with this group? What is the average number of days on market for homes in your area, and what percentage of the asking price are they getting? Are there any particular terms of sale that are a trend in your area, such as sellers paying closing costs for buyers or other concessions?

As a buyer, what types of properties are most realistic for your price range and the kind of financing you will be doing?

A good agent educates you about “real estate reality” as far as what you can get for your money in your desired areas and criteria that are important to you.

Lastly, whether a buyer or seller, do you know why properties in one particular location sell faster than another? Are there challenges, perceived or real that could affect values?

A stellar agent can prevent you from making an expensive mistake when it comes to buying (such as a home near a soon-to-be-constructed highway or busy railroad tracks — no wonder it was priced so cheap). And alternatively, that same agent can help sellers position their property in the best way when taking into account external factors around it that can affect value.

3. Agents are expert problem-solvers

So what happens when the inspection reveals termites, a roof leak, a house that needs to be replumbed — or worse yet when an inspector paints a picture of a fairly minor repair issue in a far worse light than it is? What happens when an appraisal comes in at less than contract sales price?

These are run-of-the-mill issues that agents face every day. They don’t make our palms sweat and cause us to faint, but instead we stand tall in the face of the myriad challenges this business presents.

My first broker told me, “If you aren’t solving problems, you aren’t selling real estate.” How true this is.

If you are selling your home on your own and encounter these situations, can you prevent the buyer from running for the hills? Do you have a plethora of experts you can call upon, often at a moment’s notice, who can help?

As a buyer, do you really want to be addressing repair items with a seller directly? Sellers are so often in “repair denial,” particularly when they are trying to sell their home on their own — there are never any issues as far as they are concerned.

As a buyer, do you really want to be addressing repair items with a seller directly?

 

4. Overcoming objections is what agents excel at

You are selling your home on your own. Do you have a record of who has come through and when? If they had an agent, who it was and what the buyer thought of it? If they didn’t buy your home, what did they buy instead and why?

A real estate agent with two buyers

That’s what agents working with sellers manage. Are there any themes emerging? If there are concerns that are presenting as a challenge for buyers, do you know how to address them?

Are there ways to combat these objections by providing additional information or consulting with needed designers, contractors, landscapers, the homeowners’ association and so on?

Superstar agents can effectively address objections such as “didn’t like layout” or “needs too much work” and know how to position a property effectively, so buyers go from “just looking” to locking an offer up.

5. Effective negotiation skills are key

As a seller, you received a low offer on the property. Do you make a counteroffer, outright reject it or not respond?

As a buyer, you want to make an offer that asks the seller for everything and the kitchen sink (well, because it’s attached, it conveys as part of the house anyway).

How do you formulate a strategy? Do you know your opponent and have you gathered much intelligence about them? How much should you offer or counteroffer?

Does your response risk alienating the other side? What about more than one offer? How do you facilitate, manage and negotiate effectively to keep all interested buyers in play?

The negotiation landscape can get complex, which is why a third party is always beneficial in acting as a buffer zone to separate emotion from facts and work to reach an objective outcome.

6. Preventive medicine equals more money in your pockets

The saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” certainly applies when it comes to real estate because surprise is never a good thing when it comes to buying or selling.

Surprise is never a good thing when it comes to buying or selling.

A good agent walks you through the necessary steps before you start your property search or put your property on the market.

As a buyer, there are certain things you must do before starting your property search, such as getting prequalified — preferably preapproved — so you don’t waste time looking at properties that aren’t a match, and so that you don’t waste a seller’s time coming through a home that you cannot afford.

As a seller, are there items that should be addressed before putting your property on the market? Should you get a pre-listing inspection, and are there any repair items that need to be taken care of?

What about staging or editing your furnishings and decor? What items make the most sense for you to address to position your home for maximum exposure?

Do you need a floor plan created for your home? Is there any pertinent information you need to pull together that is critical for the sale?

In short, a top-notch agent guides you on critical steps you need to take before stepping into the market that will save you time, headaches and hassle when an offer comes through.

7. Marketing expertise is needed to sell your home

Image is everything when it comes to real estate, and a poorly presented property is like showing up at the Oscars without using a stylist.

Do you have access to the right photographers, video producers, stagers and interior designers to make your property shine?

Although you might think marketing your property on your own is easy, there is a difference between playing photographer and hiring someone with an objective, critical eye for what kind of marketing will attract the right buyers.

Are you able to find the money shot? What photos are going to best present the property? Should a drone be used, and for which shots?

Are you able to create a video to effectively tell your property’s story and how to best find that story and articulate it? What kind of marketing collateral can you prepare that’s going to communicate the features, benefits and advantages of your property over another effectively, and how is that collateral going to be distributed?

Do you have access to vendors that might be able to offer incentives or discounts for buyers who could benefit from their services with the new home?

A poorly presented property is like showing up at the Oscars without using a stylist.

8. Social network exposure is unmatched

Can you broadcast your property across numerous websites and various social media networks to pique buyer and agent interest — locally, nationally and possibly internationally?

Are you able to reach hundreds, thousands or even more with the click of a mouse? Are you able to use predictive analytics and targeted digital marketing to put your property in front of the right prospects? A top agent is skilled in making your property go viral in just seconds.

A top agent is skilled in making your property go viral in just seconds.

 

9. Agents have mad connections

Real estate agents are connected to just about everyone and everything. The three degrees of separation rule applies here.

Agents are constantly in the know — it’s their job to be. They leverage their relationships with real estate related service providers, lenders — and, most importantly, other agents — to help bring the sale together.

Agents exchange and share advice and ideas that can help one another, and by networking and information-sharing, they help bridge the gap between for sale and sold.

They also have access to properties that are not officially on the market and often know deals not advertised that builders might be offering in terms of discounts or specials that can help save you money.

Need a handyman or a really good painter? Ask your agent about the contacts he or she has, and get hooked up with great providers.

10. Trusted advice and an available point person are a seller’s best friend

Who else can you go to with a question or concern almost any time of the day or night? Yes, as much as we don’t like to admit it, there is no such thing as office hours for real estate.

A good real estate agent is your trusted adviser every step of the way, and unlike your attorney or accountant, you won’t get charged for every phone call or email.

Who else can you unload your qualms, fears and worries upon regarding the buying and selling process? When your peanut gallery of friends, family and co-workers are giving you confusing advice, who can you trust for objective information to make the best possible decision?

Don’t go into the buying and selling process blind. Let a real estate professional be your guide so that you can celebrate this incredible milestone without worry, knowing that the heavy lifting and problem-solving was done for you.

Cara Ameer is a broker associate and Realtor with Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. 

 

Architects, developers, and designers are moving past green homes and open floor plans. Here’s what trend-conscious buyers need to know.


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Much of the hype around healthy living these days centers on whether you’ve eliminated gluten from your diet or walked 10,000 steps today. But lasting health benefits may be better derived from fundamental changes in how we live. That’s the tack savvy building and design professionals are taking as they draw on technological advances and changing demographics to create a new vision for the home. It’s not enough to just be green anymore; tomorrow’s homes—both single-family and multifamily buildings—will be more sustainable and resilient to natural disasters. And we’re moving beyond open floor plans. Flexible spaces are giving way to homes that can accommodate multiple generations, communal gatherings, and universal design. These preferences will influence the size of homes and how they look—and function—outside and inside. In addition, they reflect where homes are built, as an increasing number of buyers—from millennials to boomers—want to shorten their commutes and walk more. You can become an expert resource for buyers and sellers by tuning into the forward-thinking trends that design and architectural pros are buzzing about.

While suburbia isn’t dead or dying, it’s clear that a groundswell of home buyers is heading downtown. For some, that means a dense urban metropolis like New York or Chicago where work, home, and retail are at their doorstep. But for others, what’s appealing is a suburb with a downtown core that offers walkability such as Highland Park, Ill., or Clayton, Mo. Even a more rural outpost like bucolic Red Hook, N.Y., with its robust town center, fits the bill.

The common denominator: People of all ages are tired of their car-centric lives and care less about square footage than finding a home in a location that’s compatible with their interests and values, says Bruce D. Snider, a building designer and architectural writer based in Belfast, Maine.

Healthier, Smarter Materials

The construction of houses and multifamily buildings is evolving. Designers and architects are seeking to make buildings that are weather-resilient, sustainable, safer, and primed for the latest technology.

  • Well buildings: Green buildings that steer clear of harmful paints and adhesives and highlight water conservation are well-regarded, but the newer focus is on design that enhances the quality of life for occupants. “Biophilic” planning involves placing windows to showcase outdoor greenery and doors that strive for seamlessness between the great outdoors and a home’s interior. An emphasis on natural light, along with LEDs controlled by dimmers and in colors that can be changed for nighttime and gray days, simulates circadian rhythms in the body to improve sleep patterns, another boon for healthfulness. Upcoming software will harvest daylight to provide more natural light since some multifamily building codes dictate smaller glass expanses and restrict certain lightbulb types, says sustainability consultant Brian Lomel, cochair of the Urban Land Institute’s South Florida Building Healthy Places Committee. In areas with small yards, pocket gardens are popular, and more rooftops will be planted on multifamily buildings and townhouses. And look for more landscapes with trees featuring interesting branch structures, even without blooms or berries, says Betsy Williamson with Williamson Chong Architects in Toronto.
  • Less maintenance: Whether it’s due to the financial burden or the lengthy time commitment of tending to yards and repairs, consumers are eager for materials and systems that are more durable and require less maintenance than in the past. “Many boomers and their offspring are less inclined to mow lawns and perform other tasks,” says architect Duo Dickinson, author of Staying Put (The Taunton Press, 2011). At Aventura ParkSquare, realistic-looking artificial turf will be installed, which will help conserve water. Other systems and materials there will need to be replaced less often. Individuals like mason and builder Clay Chapman of Atlanta’s Hope for Architecture also focus on materials with greater longevity, which is influencing the thinking of both design professionals and home owners. “Hand-built brick walls are labor-intensive but will last for centuries rather than for just one home owner,” he says. Architect Jon Handley of Pulltab in New York concurs. “The best way to be green is to build with quality that lasts,” he says.
  • Weather and energy: Communities on the forefront of energy and weather efficiency are setting guidelines for better waterproofing and strategically placed insulation. “The goal is to go beyond what’s required, not use energy at all and get off the grid,” says Philadelphia developer Nino Cutrufello. Going the energy-efficient route can be less costly than adding features such as solar panels and geothermal heating, he says. Structures are also being better designed to withstand severe weather. Aventura ParkSquare, outside Miami, is being designed to include well-insulated windows that block harmful ultraviolet rays, says principal Victor Ballestas. In parts of California where fires have raged, noncombustible concrete tiles, brick, and composites that imitate wood are favored, says New York architect Chris Garvin.
  • Healthfulness: Encouraging healthy living goes beyond including bicycle racks and gyms in multifamily buildings, Lomel says. To build Aventura ParkSquare, a community within a community, its developer Integra Investments heeded ideas from “Fit City Miami,” a collaborative effort with ULI to incorporate The American Institute of Architects’ “Active Design” guidelines. Results at the condominium development are retail options such as a boot camp and yoga studio, restaurants with rooftop gardens for growing produce, medical offices, an assisted-living facility, wider sidewalks, and a 131-unit condo building with glass-enclosed stairways to encourage walking rather than riding in enclosed elevators, says Ballestas. ULI’s South Florida group will showcase the project as a case study for healthy-living initiatives, Lomel says.
  • Smarter technology: Managing power needs will continue to be huge as more home owners seek to stay connected 24/7. Forward-thinking techies will develop more robust wireless hubs to provide power from a central source and make it easier and less costly to control everything from one app on a smart phone, says Garvin. Already, developers like Washington, D.C.’s EYA are bringing on board an automation consultant.

A Greater Sense of Belonging

The size and layout of single-family homes, condos, and rentals are being reconfigured with an eye toward fostering community and adapting to space challenges and changing demographics.

  • Seed to feed: Don’t call it a garden: Edible landscaping is appearing in single-family yards and multifamily building rooftops. Lomel predicts consumer and developer interest will lead to demand for organic gardening consultants. “They’ll satisfy people’s food-growing needs rather than [feature] nonedible plant materials,” he says. Communal space for cooking and dining are expected to be part of more development projects. “People want that sense of connection,” Garvin says. An even bigger trend is the “agrihood,” which makes a farm a key amenity in a residential development. Developer and architect Matthew “Quint” Redmond of AgriNetx in Golden, Colo., conceived the idea back in 2003, but the recession stalled construction. Ground will be broken this fall for his newest—Adams Crossing in Brighton, Colo., which will include 438 residential units on 101 acres with about half the land devoted to farms. Redmond says his two prime buyer targets are “boomers who would rather work in orchards than play golf and millennials who don’t want to live in a cubicle as their parents did.” Many sites are former golf courses, and he expects more little-used courses to be transformed.
  • Multigenerational togetherness: Multiple generations living together isn’t new; cultural traditions, economic pressures, and elderly and child care needs have long made such arrangements desirable for some. In the past, families had little choice but to offer up a spare bedroom when they needed to share their space. But architects are dreaming up new options for the 21st century family. Designer Marianne Cusato became an early proponent for planning ahead with her “New Economy” house; its first-floor suite with a private entry offers independence for older adults and boomerang children. EYA is designing townhouses with private quarters on one floor that can be converted to other uses as needs change.
  • Open plans on a smaller scale: Open floor plans still dominate, but to differentiate smaller spaces, designer Seth Grizzle of Graypants in Seattle likes to add whimsy, reflecting the desire for customized spaces. “People want a fun edge that makes them smile, and they’ll give up space to get some uniqueness,” he says. Examples can include a door that becomes a bookshelf, a phone charging station in a desk, or a softly glowing wall lit from behind. In multifamily buildings, developers are including larger shared and mixed-use spaces to make up for smaller-sized dwelling units. David Baker Architects’ 1178 Folsom Street building in San Francisco will include units that average just 290 square feet but have access to large common areas such as a rooftop deck and ground-level retail. Sarah Barnard, a designer in Santa Monica, Calif., sees the trend mushrooming as millennials shift from renting to buying. “They’re a generation that is less materialistic and more concerned about the environment and that has a debt burden, so they have less to spend,” she says.
  • Universal design: A recent AIA Home Design Trends Survey found respondents were interested in having greater accessibility inside their homes including wider hallways and more visible handrails. Yet, many still resist features, such as grab bars in showers and bathtubs, that signal that residents are aging. Future designs are expected to incorporate such adaptations in more subtle, creative ways. As the built environment evolves, how it looks will reflect a more contemporary sensibility.”We won’t look to the past. Modern design is the future,” Williamson says. “All this amazing technology and other changes go part and parcel with much more forward-looking designs.”

Annalisa Weller, Realtor®, Certified International Property Specialist

(727) 804-6566
AnnalisaWeller1@gmail.com

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