Hot Home Trend: Geometric Patterns in Décor

Posted by on June 26, 2018 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Hot Home Trend: Geometric Patterns in Décor Posted in Home Trends, by Melissa Tracey on June 4, 2018 44 By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine Color forecaster Pantone cited geometric patterns as one of the top home design trends to watch in 2018. Shapes and, in particular, circular ones are being showcased in more home decor. Greater use of bold, circular patterns are being infused into everything from accent pillows and rugs to wall art and even tile backsplashes. Wallpaper trends are showcasing more geometric shapes too. For example, check out these two photos below from designers featured at Houzz. One, showcases a geometric wallpaper that is more subtle in a silver color and used an accent wall. The other photo showcases geometric shapes in a more dramatic way where the wallpaper serves as a focal point and then the rest of the decor is in solid...

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4 Ways Selling a House Compares to a Valentine’s Day Break Up

Posted by on February 9, 2018 in Market, Selling | 0 comments

The Dos and Don’ts of Moving On Originally posted on Have you ever sold a home that felt like a bad break up from a romantic relationship? Or, are you selling a home now but unsure why your emotions are in flux? Then you are not alone! Selling a home can be an emotionally charged major life event. However, like breaking up with someone that you genuinely cared for but simply have outgrown, the “blow” can be softened with the right technique, even on the most heinous of days to dump someone (like Valentine’s Day — ugh). Let’s discuss the dos and don’ts of selling a home in light of what you hope is an amicable break up. DO GET DRESSED UP Breaking up can be hard to do, especially if you are planning it anywhere near Valentine’s day. The respectable thing to do is to meet your former significant other face-to-face. But please don’t come in your favorite pair of sweats with holes in unsightly places and stains that reflect a desperate need for washing. Instead, dress up and end things with class so that the other person feels that they mattered. If you are selling a home, this is equivalent to having finely manicured lawns, stylish listing photos and advertisements. Just because you are ready to move on, do not short-change your efforts (or the money you can command) by having drab photos that communicate you are “so done” with this home. Three-dimensional tech tools like FloorPlan Revolution can help send your home off in style. DON’T THINK REMEMBERING THE GOOD TIMES IS OFF LIMITS When you are separating from someone that was a significant part of your life, it is sweet to share what was good. It is okay to remember the good times before “dropping the hammer.” Breaking up does not mean you have to burn photos and wish you could erase the day you ever met that person. Don’t forget, there was something that attracted you to the person in the first place. For those selling a home, you are a great help to your listing agent when you share what you loved about your home, particularly when you first purchased it, instead of rehearsing your “laundry list” of drawbacks. Your fond memories may be the inspiration needed for your listing agent to craft the perfectly worded ad or display the features and rooms that other families too will gravitate to and enjoy. Your appreciation for the home may very well translate into a point of attraction for prospective home buyers and help your home get sold faster. BUT DON’T FORGET THE REASON WHY IT IS OVER!  Don’t get sucked back in because you remember the good times. If need be, write a list of reasons why it is over — your deal breakers. Have this list nearby so that you can stay focused or even set an alert on your phone to remind you to get to the point. As a home seller, it can be bittersweet to complete cosmetic and other repairs on a home to never actually enjoy them. For some, this can even lead you to second-guessing yourself and deciding not to move, although the reasons for moving truly outweigh any superficial changes you have made to sell the home. To...

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Making Your House Stand Out from the Neighborhood Competition

Posted by on January 26, 2018 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Originally posted on You’ve just listed your home in [Albuquerque, NM] for sale – it’s official. And then a week later, much to your aghast, the house two doors down the street goes on the market. And then a few days after that, your neighbor’s house across the street goes on the market too. Believe it or not, this happens more than you think…. So when you find yourself – and your home – in this situation, what do you do? How do you explain the neighborhood competition and make your house stand out from the others? Here are a few thoughts to help you navigate this potentially complex selling scenario: Explain the neighborhood competition. You will get a million questions from buyers about why there are multiple homes on the market on the same street or in the same neighborhood, and so you need to be able to answer the questions when asked. Some buyers will get suspicious and wonder whether the multiple homes on the market mean anything negative about the neighborhood. And so it’s important to find out why your neighbors are leaving. Most likely their reasons for moving will be separate and distinct from one another, and these reasons will relate to changes in circumstances, i.e. downsizing because the kids are off to college, trading up, relocating to another part of the world, etc. Furthermore, more times than not, this phenomenon of multiple homes for sale in the same neighborhood will be completely coincidental. Having this information will help dispel any potential rumors or misinformation about the neighborhood and its multiple homes on the market, thus increasing the likelihood of your home selling.   Make your house shine and sparkle – both inside and out. As evidenced by my numerous blogs about selling a shiny and sparkling home, this is important no matter what – even if there aren’t any other homes on the market on your street for sale. But it becomes even more essential when there are multiple properties for sale on the street and in the neighborhood. Your home has to stand out from the competition or the buyers will pass it by for the more attractive homes down the street. And be sure to pay attention to the outside just as much as the inside.   Price your home as competitively as possible. Again this is another crucial element to selling your home, but it becomes even more paramount when there are several homes on the street for sale. You need to make your house stand out from the others, and what better way to do this than with a more competitive price. It stands to reason that this is even more important if the homes on the street are similar in style, age, condition and size, and it becomes less important if the homes are quite different on a variety of levels.   The bottom line is to give buyers accurate information about the neighborhood and the nearby homes on the market and then make your house the most aesthetically-pleasing and competitively-priced option among the others. This way, your property will stand out from the local competition, and buyers won’t be able to resist it.  ...

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What to Expect in Mortgage Lending in the New Year and Beyond

Posted by on January 12, 2018 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Originally posted on under the title, “MBA economists: Here’s what mortgage rates are going to do in 2018 and beyond” On a whole, mortgage interest rates moved lower throughout 2017 after rising above 4% in January. But what’s going to happen in the next few years? According to the top economists at the Mortgage Bankers Association, mortgage rates will rise in the next few years, past 4% and even past 5%. During a session at MBA Annual in Denver, the MBA’s Michael Fratantoni, chief economist and senior vice president of research and technology; Marina Walsh, vice president of industry analysis; and Lynn Fisher, vice president of research and economics; discussed the MBA’s view of how the economy and the housing market will change over the next few years. Speaking first, Fratantoni said that the MBA expects purchase mortgage volume to continue to grow through 2020, while refinances are expected to continue dropping as interest rates rise. As for interest rates, Fratantoni said that the MBA believes that mortgage rates will rise to 4.6% next year, then above 5% in 2019 and 2020. Later in the session, Fisher discussed the MBA’s view of the future of the housing market. Fisher said that the MBA’s forecast shows that house prices can’t continue to rise at this rate forever. Fisher said that the MBA expects a stabilization in house prices, not a decrease, but a calming of the recent increases in the coming years. Another facet of the housing ecosystem that is affected by rising housing prices is affordability. As Mohamed El-Erian, the chief economic advisor for Allianz and the former chief executive and co-chief investment officer at PIMCO, said on Monday at MBA Annual, another factor on housing affordability is wage growth, or the lack thereof. “Income is not keeping up with rising home prices and the gap is growing,” El-Erian said. “The industry needs desperately income growth. We’ve gone as far as we can go on artificially low interest rates. Income growth is so important to so many parts of the economy.” But according to Fratantoni, wage growth is coming. “It is getting much more difficult for companies to fill their open positions,” Fratantoni said, but said a growing number of companies plan to begin raising wages to attract qualified candidates moving forward. So, while interest rates may increase in 2018 and beyond, perhaps borrowers will be able to handle those higher rates thanks to higher...

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When Is the Best Time to Buy a Home?

Posted by on December 29, 2017 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Originally posted on Home sales tend to rise along with the temperature. According to, 50% of homes are sold in summer. But if you want to get the best deal—and avoid a bidding war—your odds are best when the weather turns colder and the days grow short, says Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors. Year after year, closings in January tend to show a dip in prices, suggesting that buyers who made offers in November and December got the best deals, he says. In the summer of 2014, for example, median home prices climbed past $220,000, only to drop below $200,000 in January of 2015. Median home prices nearly hit $240,000 the following summer, only to move down again in the late fall. “Some of this is driven by the types of houses that sell in the winter months,” says Yun. Families with school-age kids often account for larger, pricier homes, and they prefer to buy in the summer when kids are out of school. Knowing this, many sellers don’t list their homes later in the year, and many pull their listings in the late fall in hopes of starting fresh in the spring. Sellers who stick with it, theory goes, are the most motivated. (Note: A RealtyTrac analysis of home sales over the past 15 years pegged October as the best month to buy at a discount, 2.6% less than the fair market value at that time.) To be sure, buyers who shop later in the year may be able to negotiate a better price, but there is a possible tradeoff—less selection. That’s because inventory of homes for sale typically starts to decline in September, Yun says, with the biggest dip around the holidays. Historically, it drops 10% in December, with little improvement in January. “Inventory begins to measurably increase in the spring,” he says. “Over the last four years it looks like a 10% jump in inventory from March to April.” Certainly, there are markets that defy these trends. Winter destinations, for example, often see a surge of activity in the late fall and winter, as snowbirds and tourists hit the open house circuit. Similarly, demand for smaller homes and condos tends to be relatively steady throughout the year, says Yun, because buyers and sellers typically aren’t beholden to school calendars. It’s important to know your market’s quirks. In the end, however, the best time to buy a house really depends on what makes the most sense for your situation. No seasonal discount is worth rushing into a decision, paying a higher interest rate, or buying the wrong house. By Sarah Max June 2,...

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Your 3-Month Plan to Sell a Home in the Spring

Posted by on December 15, 2017 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Originally posted on Are you planning to sell your home next year? If so, here’s a little secret: You don’t have to wait until spring is in the air to get your home ready for prime time. We asked Dawn Kirkland, a real estate Endorsed Local Provider (ELP) in Birmingham, Alabama, how homeowners can make the most of the months leading up to a spring home sale. Gain an edge on the competition with these steps. As Soon as Possible Interview Real Estate Agents: Finding the right real estate agent  isn’t a one-and-done process. That’s why the sooner you start, the better. Don’t waste your time on someone who only sells a handful of homes a year. You need a pro who inspires you with confidence and has a proven track record for getting top dollar for homes. Look for a high-octane agent who closes a minimum of 35 home transactions per year and has at least four years of real estate experience. Make a Plan: Once you have a partner, you need a plan. Before you roll up your sleeves and get to work, Dawn suggests making a list of all your to-dos. This enables you to break the process down into bite-sized chunks so you don’t feel overwhelmed. Work with your agent to set priorities, then focus on knocking out one task at a time. Start Packing: This is where the going gets tough. It’s time to part with your stuff—but only for a little while. Take a look around and decide what you can live without until your home sells. Rent a storage unit if you have to. Just pack it up and get it out so you can make room for buyers. Here’s an added bonus: The rest of the work will be much easier with less stuff clogging your corners! 2–3 Months Before Listing Uncover Issues: Want to beat buyers to the punch list? Get a pre-sale home inspection. Of course, your buyer’s home inspector will still find things that need to be done. But being proactive enables you to identify potential deal breakers so you can adjust your timeline and budget accordingly. “If you need to deal with something really profound, it may change some of the other things you’ve got to do,” Dawn says. Tackle Repairs: With your home inspection report in hand, work with your real estate agent to prioritize the findings. Just keep these wise words in mind: “It’s always less expensive to repair or replace something up front than to wait for the buyer to ask for that in inspection requests,” Dawn advises. This is especially true for major fixes like a new roof or HVAC unit. “That’s the kind of stuff that scares people to death. They’ll ask $12,000 for a roof that would cost $4,500. It’s a vast difference!” 1 Month Before Listing Spruce It Up: First impressions count—a lot! Breathe new life into your home with a fresh coat of paint, and pay close attention to curb appeal. Ask your real estate agent to refer a reputable home stager to help you incorporate today’s trends. “Remember, you’re not going to live here anymore,” Dawn says. “It really doesn’t matter what colors you like. What matters is what buyers are looking for right now.” 1–2 Weeks Before Listing Deep Clean: Save this step until it’s almost time to plant...

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Top 5 Reasons to Buy a Home During the Holidays

Posted by on December 1, 2017 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Originally posted on Why it Makes Sense to Buy a Home at Year’s End   Few people like to uproot their family and go through the stresses of home buying and moving during the holidays, but for those who do not mind, the holiday season may provide home buying bargains. Here are a few of the reasons why. Less Market Activity – Lots of family, school, and work activities, combined with the weather in many locations, lead to fewer real estate transactions over the holidays. Since fewer people overall are looking to buy houses, you will have less competition for your preferred house – and this gives you leverage.  Holiday home sellers often have to adjust their price downward or make other concessions if they want to sell. Keep this in mind as you search for homes. Bargains may be available, and listed prices may be more open to negotiation. Motivated Sellers – People who are selling their homes over the holidays often have great incentive to sell, such as an upcoming job relocation. If a house has already been on the market for some time, that incentive is multiplied. You may be able to use this urgency to your advantage (assuming you are not in a similarly urgent need to buy). Negotiate fairly but firmly with sellers and you should be able to extract a lower price and/or other concessions like paying part of the closing costs. Potential Tax Advantages – If you itemize your taxes, you can deduct any points you paid upon closing, as well as property taxes and mortgage interest. Whether it is to your advantage to buy before or after year’s end depends on factors such as how many other deductions you have this year and expect to have next year. It is best to consult with a tax professional before purchase. Even though you do not want to make a decision on a home purchase strictly for tax reasons, it could be to your benefit to close before the end of the year. Better Interest Rates – Within the general trend of interest rates, there is often a cyclical trend of lower interest rates during the holidays – not from the generosity of lenders but due to limited demand forcing greater competition among lenders. There are plenty of factors that can obscure or swamp this cycle, but in general, you should see preferable interest rates around the holidays compared to the times immediately before or after. Faster Closings – Generally, all parties involved have incentive to complete transactions toward the end of the year. Lenders want to close their books, real estate agents want to receive their commissions before the year closes, sellers want to move on to their new home and settle in for the holidays – and just like the sellers, you want to settle in as well. Since all parties are motivated and there are fewer transactions taking place during this time, it should be easier to put everything in place for a smooth and rapid closing. These factors do not always apply. For example, if you are trying to buy a home in a winter ski resort area or similar high-demand winter destination, these dynamics may be reversed – except for the tax implications. However, for the majority of Americans, the holidays represent an opportunity to buy a home under mostly...

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Tips for Selling Your Home During the Holidays

Posted by on November 17, 2017 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Originally posted on By Elizabeth Weintraub Updated October 07, 2017 Selling your home during the holidays is loaded with pros and cons, don’t make any mistake about it. If you ask a real estate agent, “Should I keep my home on the market over the holidays?” an agent will tell you, “Yes, absolutely, because then you know buyers are serious.” You know what I think about that? I’ll cut to the chase. It’s hogwash. If you don’t really have to sell between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, take your home off of the market, and enjoy some peace and quiet with your family. Now, we can expect that hundreds of thousands of real estate agents want to argue. That’s because real estate agents always want your home on the market, regardless of whether it’s the right time to sell or not. Don’t blame them for being blindsided. It’s the way of the profession. If your home isn’t on the market during the holidays, agents won’t get a sale, and it’s as simple as that. Not to mention, you might decide to list with another agent if the listing is canceled. That’s a real possibility for many agents, and it’s a real fear. On the other hand, some people really do need to sell over the holidays. And some buyers do need to buy a home during the Christmas season, for example, and they don’t have any other alternative. But the fact remains there are not as many buyers in the market in December. Whether holiday season buyers  are more “serious” than springtime buyers remains to be seen. Reasons You Might Not Want to Sell Your Home Over the Holidays First time home buyers, not knowing any better, could think you are desperate. Buyers might try to negotiate. It’s inconvenient during the holidays to always be ready for home showing at a moment’s notice. Not everybody wants to keep the house spic and span when cooking, wrapping gifts, throwing parties. The offers you receive might be for less than list price, and you could receive a lowball offer. You’re appealing to a much smaller inventory of buyers who have very specific needs that your home might not match. It’s almost impossible to close a financed transaction in December if the offer is received mid-month. Buyers who want to close after the New Year will probably make offers in January. If you remove your home from the market, it can return as a brand new listing in January, thereby drawing more traffic because it’s fresh and exciting. Your agent might be on vacation in December and unavailable as the market moves into a seasonal slowdown. Other real estate professionals might be unavailable when you need them as well. Some sellers insist on leaving their homes on the market, regardless, and that’s OK, too. The deciding factors depend on local custom, on what neighbors are doing and how real estate activity is viewed by others during the holiday season in your area. Every town is different. There are neighborhoods in California where, if you didn’t spot plastic Santa Clauses tied to palm trees, you might never know it was Christmas. Still, reduced inventory over the holidays generally means less competition. However, when the pool of buyers drops, the remaining balance of inventory might not make much difference. In parts of the country where it snows, buyers think twice about...

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Hot Home Trend to Watch: The Two-Toned Kitchen

Posted by on September 29, 2017 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Re-posted from July 17, 2017 by Melissa Dittman Tracey Two-toned colored kitchens are gaining popularity this year. White and gray painted cabinets are dominating kitchen color schemes, according to the 2017 Kitchen & Bath Design Trends survey conducted by the National Kitchen and Bath Association. Particularly gray-toned kitchen cabinets are seeing a surge in popularity lately.     Other colors are getting mixed in too, adding a little more pizzazz to kitchen design. For example, the surrounding kitchen cabinets may be white and then the center island may feature gray cabinets. Or, white cabinets may be on the top and then gray cabinets on the bottom. Other materials are getting mixed in the kitchen too.  The combinations, however, are mostly muted and simple. “Clean lines with no fussy moldings or trims,” one NKBA survey respondent said. “White kitchens are never going away, but I’ve recommended mixed countertop materials, mixed cabinet colors and frequently use lots of light/dark materials for contrast.” That said, for the more daring, blue or black-toned cabinets as well as high-gloss finishes are gaining popularity in kitchen designs too, according to NKBA’s survey.            ...

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How to Make a Big Statement with a Small Yard

Posted by on September 15, 2017 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Re-Posted from Here’s how to make a splash in even the most compact outdoor spaces. May 2017 by Melissa Dittman Tracey Not everyone dreams of a lush and sprawling backyard. So playing down diminutive outdoor space in your listing could be a missed opportunity to connect with a buyer who sees a postage-stamp lawn or a compact front stoop as a plus, says Meridith Baer, owner of Meridith Baer Home, a staging firm based in the Los Angeles area. “Actually, it’s sometimes easier to make a small space charming. It might be as simple as adding shutters in a pretty hue and painting the front door, or putting that perfect set of chairs on the front porch,” she says. Whether you’re dealing with a small backyard in a single–family home or simply a balcony or patio for a townhouse or condo, these tips can help homeowners or stagers make a bigger statement. Watch the Scale Decluttering is just as crucial for outdoor spaces as it is the rest of the house. “It’s important not to do too much and overcrowd a small space,” says Dennis Hammett, sales associate with Ebby Halliday, REALTORS®, in Dallas. Too many chairs around a table or even too large a tree can make a smaller yard feel confined. “Placement and size of plants becomes very important with a small front yard. You want to make sure that none are so big that they will block any of the home’s architectural features,” says Jason Evans, marketing manager for The Davey Tree Expert Co. in East Bay, Calif. Keep garden statues and ornaments to a minimum, Evans adds. Set a Focal Point Smaller spaces often benefit from an attention-grabbing feature, such as a water fountain, outdoor fireplace, or a restful nook in a compact garden. “If you have a small space, pick a focus to start with,” says Justin Hancock, garden expert with Costa Farms in Miami. “You might want to rent or borrow a small patio set or fire pit to get buyers thinking about how great the backyard will be for entertaining or outdoor living.” You can also draw attention verbally to a focal point. For example, call out the benefits to the home’s outdoor plantings—if they, for example, attract butterflies or hummingbirds, Hancock says. “A quick handout that highlights the upsides to areas of the yard can be helpful to consumers who may not realize those benefits on their own.”  Outdoor Reflections “Try a trick borrowed from interior designers: Hang an outdoor-friendly mirror on an exterior wall to reflect light and to make these yards feel more open,” says Missy Henriksen, spokeswoman for the National Association of Landscape Professionals. While there’s no wrong or right style of outdoor mirror, Henriksen offers some suggestions: Hang the mirror no lower than eye level, ensure it’s rustproof, and try a mirror that mimics shapes and styles of real windows. Pay attention to what you’re reflecting, too. “You want to show off the gorgeous greenery of your landscape, not a bare wall or barbecue,” Henriksen says.   Go for the Vertical Taller plants can add height to a doorway that feels closed off, Henriksen says. A spiral topiary in a container beside a front door can nicely accentuate a space. Another tip: Prune plants so they’re more...

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