Why Everyone Should Stage Their Home When Selling

Buyers like seeing staged homes, not messy ones. Here are ways to get your ready for a showing.

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81% of buyers say they can better visualize themselves living in a home if it’s staged. These homes also sell four times faster than unstaged or vacant homes, so needless to say, staging is important. Today, I’ll be sharing six simple ways you can prepare and stage your home for showing.

1. Declutter. Get rid of non-essential items, such as things on tables and counters. Store, pack up, or throw out these items so potential buyers will see a home free of clutter.

2. Depersonalize. Take down family photos, mementos, and knick-knacks. Buyers want a blank slate they can see themselves in and these personal effects can be distracting.

3. Deep clean. Though you may have a weekly cleaning routine, selling a home means you want to pay some extra attention to the places you normally don’t. These neglected areas include lighting fixtures, ceiling fans, shower tiles, and similar things. Carpets and flooring should also not be overlooked.

4. Rearrange furniture. You’ve probably lived in your home with a preferred furniture setup, but removing some unessential pieces of your collection may help rooms open up. You want your home to seem spacious to buyers, and more furniture means less room.

5. Tips for kitchens and bedrooms. For the kitchen, clean each countertop and cabinet as well as remove unneeded appliances—you don’t want more than three on your counter (even fewer if you have a small kitchen). For bedrooms, follow the previous tips with a focus on decluttering. Keep a nice comforter on your bed, adorn it with fluffy pillows, and make it look inviting overall. Because we spend a lot of time in our rooms, buyers will be impressed by one that looks great.

You want your home to seem spacious to buyers.

6. Curb appeal. Make sure your yard is clean and that driveways and sidewalks are swept. Clear anything that has piled up and remove snow when it falls. People even drive by homes before scheduling showings, so you want to make a good impression.

If you have any questions or would like more information, please feel free to contact us. We look forward to hearing from you.

Don’t Fall Victim to Any of These 8 Common Homeownership Mistakes

Within your first year as a new homeowner, there are eight crucial mistakes you should avoid.

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Becoming a homeowner can be incredibly exciting. But, as difficult as it may be, it’s important not to become overzealous. 

Once you’ve got the keys to your first home in hand, the first thing you should do is to take a step back and examine whether all the little changes you want to make are actually a good idea. Making uninformed decisions in the heat of the moment can be a very expensive habit in the long run. 

If you aren’t careful, you could find yourself faced up against one of the many costly missteps new homeowners tend to make within their first year. Today, we’ll list just a few of these mistakes. 

1. Going with the lowest repair bid. After getting multiple contract bids, many homeowners assume that whichever option is the least expensive will be their best choice. However, there is something to be said for the old adage, “You get what you pay for.” Make sure that all bids you receive include the same project scope. Sometimes, one bid may be cheaper because it doesn’t actually include all the details and steps involved in the process. 

2. Submitting small insurance claims. The maddening reality is that filing a claim (or two), especially in a relatively short period of time, can trigger an increase in your premium. It’s kind of like a driving record, where the more tickets you have, the higher your insurance will be. It’s the same thing with insurance. Your best bet is to take good care of your home from the beginning so that small claims don’t even materialize.

3. Making improvements without checking the return on investment (ROI). Spending $30,000 upgrading all of your home’s windows may not necessarily bring you back that same value if you decide to turn around and sell your home after just a couple of years. New windows can be a great investment, however, if you plan to stick around for a while. The important thing to remember is that just because you personally value an upgrade, it doesn’t mean the market (or the new buyer) will. So, always check with an agent or appraiser before making expensive home upgrades.

Making uninformed decisions in the heat of the moment can be a very expensive habit in the long run.

4. Going on a furnishing spree. Try to exercise retailing willpower. Investing in high-quality furniture over time is much smarter than filling your house full of discount items and particle board all in one go. Live in your home for a while and get to know your space before you fully furnish it. 

5. Throwing away receipts and paperwork. When it comes time to sell, having proof of the small repairs you’ve made over time can serve as a “resume” of sorts to support your list price. These documents can also be useful in the event that something breaks down and you need to fall back on a warranty. 

6. Ignoring small items on your inspection report. Use your inspection report as your very first homeownership to-do list. You should address these items before you even begin to think about comparing paint swatches. Appraisal issues that drop the value of your home can cause major problems if left ignored.

7. Remodeling without doing research. No one wants to be a Negative Nancy, but there are benefits to understanding the potential worst-case scenarios for a given project. Before undertaking any major remodels, ask detailed questions of professional contractors so that you can get your timing, budget, and expectations all in line with one another.

8. Buying cheap tools. You don’t have to break the bank, but investing in high-quality tools within your budget will make a big difference down the line. 

If you have any other questions or would like more information, feel free to give us a call or send us an email. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

5 Things to Remember to Help You Save Money While Renovating

No matter what renovation you are choosing to undertake, you need to set a budget and stick to it. Here are five tips to help you do this.

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Are you ready for a kitchen renovation or a bathroom remodel? Or maybe you want to add office space? No matter what type of home renovation you’re planning, you need a budget for it. That is why today I want to talk about setting a budget and following that budget with five simple tips:

1. Your renovation costs for each room or area should be proportional to the home’s overall value. This means if you’re working on the kitchen that’s worth 10% to 15% of the home’s value, you should spend whatever that 10% to 15% represents on its renovation. We can help you set a budget for the specific room you are working on by doing a comparative market analysis.

2. A home remodeling loan is an option you could take if you are going to do a big remodel. To remodel a kitchen in a $200,000 home, you’re looking at spending about $30,000. If you don’t have the cash on hand for this, it may be smart to meet with a lender and see how they can help you. You may be able to do a refinance or a home equity loan.

3. Get a quote from a contractor. Never get just one quote. Instead, get two or three from different people. Then, throw out the lowest bid. Sometimes contractors may cut corners, which may end up costing you more time or money. Build trust with contractors and get as much detail as possible for the quote so that you see the value.

For a kitchen in a $200,000 home, you are looking at about $30,000 in renovation costs.

4. Stick to your home remodeling plan. Many people like to add little things as they go through their remodeling plan. If you are going to remodel just the kitchen, stick to the kitchen.

5. Remember that there will always be hidden home renovation costs. This is especially true for older homes. If you’re doing a kitchen remodel in an older home, for example, be aware that there will likely be plumbing issues and other things behind the walls that will cost you money. Plan for this by setting aside an extra 10% to 20% for these hidden costs.

If you have any additional questions or are interested in buying or selling a home, please feel free to contact me. I look forward to speaking with you soon.

Stay Informed on Our Market by Checking out This Important Update

What is going on in our local real estate market, and what can buyers and sellers expect in the near future? Today I covered these questions and more in our latest market update.

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The housing market has seen a slow start this year, so today I wanted to bring you some insight as to why this has been the case. It’s time for a market update. 

Cited below for your convenience are timestamps that will direct you to various points in the video. Feel free to watch the full message or use these timestamps to browse specific topics at your leisure:

0:42 - Is our market favoring buyers or sellers right now? 

2:13 - Which areas need the most inventory? 

5:03 - What can we expect from the local market in the future and how should buyers and sellers prepare?

7:01 - How can buyers and sellers learn more about working with our team?

8:43 - Why you should make your move this summer with us. 

If you have any other questions or would like more information, feel free to give me or my team a call or send us an email. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

Is the U.S. Air Force Going to Change Our Housing Market?

The U.S. Air Force is bringing the F-35 to the Fairbanks area and it may affect our housing market.

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Is waiting to buy a new home costing you money? In today’s market in the Fairbanks area, it could be. We have several reasons why it could cost you money which I am here to share with you.

1. Home appreciation. With the F-35 coming to Eielson in 2020, housing prices may increase or may stay stable. If you wait, you may end up buying in a higher price range. However, if you were to buy now, you can take advantage of the home appreciation during the next few years. If the market appreciation grows to 3% to 5% per year, that means equity in your pocket.

2. Interest rates. The Fed has said that they are thinking about incremental increases for interest rates. This will cost you money because it increases the price you'd pay to borrow money to purchase your home. A 1% increase would essentially cost you 10% on your home. 

3. Strong market. The current market is strong, and we have very low inventory. Buyers are competing, but that is because buyers across the board know that now is the time to go out and buy a home. Rates are still good, and because of Eielson Air Force Base expanding during the testing of the F-35 here, there could be fluctuations which we are unable to predict.

It is almost always better to buy than it is to rent. So, put that money back into your pocket and buy a home today.

Buyers are competing, but that is because buyers across the board know that now is the time to go out and buy a home.

If you have any questions about this current market or are interested in buying before the potential market changes, please feel free to contact me. I would be happy to help in any way that I can.

5 Ways to Save for a Down Payment on Your New Home

Are you trying to save money for a down payment on a house? I have five simple tips to help you do just that.

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I recently ran across an infographic from the National Association of Realtors about simple ways to save money for a down payment on your next home. 

Roughly 60% of homebuyers financed their home with less than 6% down in 2017. Since the current median sales price is $258,300, a 6% down payment is about $15,498. Here are five simple ways to save up that money: 

1. Give up your morning latte. The average cost of a latte is $3.78, or more depending on where you go. That’s $1,300 a year you could save. 

Skip your morning latte and you could save at least $1,300 a year.

2. Cut out cable. The average cable package costs $100 a month. That’s $1,200 a year right there. 

3. Bring your own lunch. Brown-bagging it will save you some money. The average American spends $11 a meal when they go out to eat. Here in Fairbanks, that’s probably a little more. You can save $1,000 a year right there.

4. Stop going out to eat. The average American spends about $232 per month eating out. Staying in and making your meals will save you nearly $2,800 per year. 

5. Go car-free. The average American spends around $713 a month on their car. Taking the bus, riding your bike, or carpooling will save you more than $8,500 a year. 

That’s how you save for your down payment (or to cover those closing costs) and get into a home. 

If you have any other questions about buying a home or about real estate in general, just give me a call or send me an email. I would be happy to help you.

The 10 Most Expensive Mistakes Alaskan Homeowners Make

Are you making any of these top 10 homeowner mistakes? I’ll go over the full list and how to avoid them today.

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Today, I want to go over the 10 most expensive mistakes you are making in your home. I’ll also share how to avoid them and save your money.  

1. Using traditional light bulbs. If you haven’t made this switch yet, you are missing out. We cut our electric bill in half just by replacing all those incandescent lights with LED lights. It may cost a bit up front to make the switch, but in the end, you will save a lot of money on your electric bills. 

2. Ignoring a leaky faucet. If you’re on a well, you might not think that’s a big deal. However, I recommend that you check your bill if you are in the city on city water. If you have a running toilet or leaky faucet, that is probably why your water bill is twice as much as it was. 

3. Not getting your boiler tuned and cleaned by a professional. This is something you should do annually so that your boiler runs at peak efficiency. 

4. Not customizing your temperatures. If you don’t have some sort of boiler control, outdoor reset, or programmable thermostat, you are costing yourself extra money. Make sure that you are fluctuating the heat for when you’re not in the home in order to save on your heating bill. 

Updating your light bulbs could cut your electric bill in half.

5. Not adjusting your HRV correctly. It’s not uncommon that I go to a house and the HRV is pumping out air all the time, which means you are heating the outside air and bringing in cold air. 

6. Not cleaning your gutters. 

7. Your water temperature is set too high. If you have an electric water heater, check that. The same goes for an oil-fired furnace—it might be set too high.  

8. Leaky windows and doors. Check the seals on the bottom of the doors. If seals get torn up, replace them. Small drafts add up and cost you money. 

9. Paying a handyman. Sometimes if you do some of these things yourself, you’ll come out ahead. Having a handyman can be expensive, but if you don’t know what you’re doing, hire a handyman. 

10. Not using a timer for your car head bolt heaters. If you plug your car into a straight outlet and don’t put that on a timer, then you are adding a lot of money to your electric bill.

I hope you found this list helpful. What other things should homeowners know about? Give us a call or send us an email with any questions or suggestions you might have. I look forward to hearing from you!

On Your Mark? Get Set….List!

The market is getting ready to spring forward soon. Are you ready?

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Just like our clocks recently, the majority of the housing market is soon going to spring forward.

Right now, the lack of inventory available for sale is holding the market back, and the Fairbanks-North Pole market is no different.

Currently, we’re at three months of inventory or less, yet the demand is still extremely strong. A lot of potential sellers believe that waiting until spring is in their best interest, and traditionally, they’ve been right. Buyer demand is somewhat seasonal, but not to the extent that most Fairbanks and North Pole homeowners believe. It does usually fall off in the winter months, especially in areas of the country that are impacted by Arctic conditions, like we are. However, it doesn’t stop completely.

The NAR recently reported that the top 10 dates that sellers typically listed their homes in 2017 included April, May, and June.

The demand has remained strong because housing rates are increasing, which motivates a lot of buyers, causing them to get off the fence and enter the market. The National Association of Realtors recently reported that the top 10 dates that sellers typically listed their homes in 2017 included April, May, and June.

Those who act quickly in listing their home could greatly benefit from the exposure to this large pool of buyers who don't have a lot of inventory to look at. 

If you’re looking to sell your home in 2018, you need to meet with one of my real estate agents so we can assess your situation. Feel free to reach out to us. We’d be happy to be your real estate resource.

Is Buying a Home Like Buying a New Car?

How does buying a new home compare to buying a car? Today, I’ll break down the key differences.

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I’d like to thank Brendon DeSimone from Zillow for the question of the day: “Is buying a home like buying a new car?”

When you drive a new car off the lot, it immediately loses some of its value. Does the same apply to real estate and, if so, should you care?

The main thing to know is that real estate appreciates. It doesn’t depreciate unless you’ve really bought the wrong property. However, in real estate, time is on your side. 

If you close on a home, the day after you close, you’ll be in what’s called a negative equity position. That doesn’t mean that you lost value; it just means that you’ve spent money and it hasn’t yet appreciated to make it worth your while to sell it at that time.

If you could stay in the home for three or more years, generally speaking (and especially in the interior of Alaska), you’ll be in a positive equity position.

This is opposed to buying a new car, which only continues to depreciate over time. You can look at economic trend graphs and see that, over the years, the real estate market is one of the best markets that we have in the country.

New cars only depreciate in value over time.

Another question is: “Does the new car theory apply?”

There are definitely pros to buying a new house versus an existing house, but you want to realize that, though your home may not be worth as much as a brand-new comparable home, it has appreciated from the time when you bought it. We don’t compare an old home to a new home when we’re doing price valuations.

The maintenance of a new home versus an existing home is also worth considering. You may believe that buying a new home will entail fewer maintenance tasks. In Alaska, there are preventative maintenance items that are necessary for any home. But a new home comes with warranties. The builder matters as well. If you’re buying from a reputable builder, you have product warranties on the appliances, a one-year builder warranty, and a 10-year structural warranty.

If you’re buying an existing home, one of the things to think about is buying a third-party warranty. That way, you can compete with the peace of mind that new homes bring.

Lastly, I want to make sure that you understand that it is a home first and an investment second. Even though buying a car that depreciates as soon as you drive it off the lot doesn’t seem to make sense, people see cars as a necessity. They want something comfortable to drive to work every day or something safe for their family. It’s the same thing with homes, so don’t get too wrapped up in the investment aspect of it. Just enjoy the home the same way you would with a car.

If you have any questions regarding real estate, feel free to reach out and contact me. I may use your question to make another video for the blog.

3 Areas of Impact That Will Make or Break Your Listing

If you’re struggling to move your listing off the market, there are three major impact areas you need to examine.

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Today, we’ll be looking at the answer to an age-old question: “What should I do when my home isn’t selling?”

If you find yourself in this predicament, there are usually three major impact areas you should look at: 
  1. Price. The first thing your Realtor should do when your listing isn’t moving is to conduct a price analysis. This will show you how your property compares to the rest of the market. You and your Realtor will look at listings that are active, pending, and closed to see how your own listing stacks up. Now, there is a difference between getting no showings and no offers, getting showings but no offers, and getting both showings and offers. Where your listing falls within those three options will indicate its potential for success. 
  2. Condition. Certain issues pertaining to your home’s condition may be a matter of functional obsolescence. Some things, like floor plan and location, cannot be changed. These fixed attributes will typically be compensated for by a change in price. However, other aspects of a home’s condition can be altered. To get an idea of how your home’s condition comes across to buyers, think first about the feedback you’ve been getting from showings. Using this feedback, you can make informed decisions about how to upgrade your home’s condition. First impressions are important, so your listing needs to be in good shape. Also, never offer a credit to compensate for a conditional shortcoming. If the carpet needs to be replaced, just replace it. Don’t offer a credit for the buyer to do it themselves. 
  3. Marketing. The right agent will have a proven marketing plan with consistent results. They will be able to tell you how much online traffic your listing has received, for example. If this isn’t the experience your current agent is providing for you, it’s time to make a switch. Over 90% of all buyers start their search online, so your listing’s online presence must be second to none. 

Over 90% of all buyers start their search online, so your listing’s online presence must be second to none.

So, what happens if your listing misses the mark on all three of these areas? If that is the case, you need to utilize a rebranding strategy. If you’re curious about what a rebranding strategy is, give us a call or visit www.maddenrealestate.com. We would be happy to explain more about this strategy to you. 

As always, if you have any other questions or would like more information, feel free to give me a call or send me an email. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Disclaimer: If your property is currently listed by another brokerage, this video is not intended to solicit your listing.