Celebrate your home by spending some QT (quality time) on it and maximize the return of your sale by completing these top cosmetic updates. The good news is that summer is just around the corner and that means plenty of sunshine to get these projects done.

Here are upgrades ranging from small bathroom remodels to large-scale expansions that often yield high returns.

  • Minor Bathroom Remodel:  Use a softener like CAULK-BE-GONE to get rid of the old caulk. Fill the tub with water after you’re done to stretch caulk while it dries. For damaged walls, you can do a quick coverage by using spray-on texture provides quick coverage. Add illusion of space by replacing old shower doors or remove them all together.
  • Attic Bedroom Conversion: Do you have an attic just sitting there? Consider converting this space into a bedroom. That is if your existing HVAC system can handle the load of another room. If not, factor in the cost of a second unit. A solar-powered attic fan is an efficient way to save on cooling costs. The attic fan exhausts heat from above your home and is powered by a solar cell on the roof.
  • Minor Kitchen Remodel: If your home is worth more than $500,000, go with stone or trendy glass countertops. Cover old vinyl with floor leveler so the pattern doesn’t bleed through. You can’t put a second layer of vinyl on if the subfloor is below-grade concrete. “Brighten up the kitchen by sanding and painting existing cabinets. It’s much less expensive than buying new ones. Add decorator detail without the cost by changing drapes and window molding.” – HGTV
  • Curb Appeal: You know what they say, first impressions count and curb appeal is all types of first impressions. A charming focal point like a walkway and fountain adds major value to your property. Roll a sealant on flagstones for a permanent wet look that enhances the color.

Replacing roofs and windows are also high on the list and home offices tend to be lower in return. Remodeling may be a labor of love, but consider this investment that can seriously boost the value of your home. Questions? Please get in touch with Greentree Properties at (949) 492-0090 or here.

 

While it’s easy to look up information online and try to sell your house on your own. Real Estate Agents can provide you with the expertise to get the most value for your home.

Here are just 4 ways that a Real Estate Agent can add value to your home sale:

  1. Education and experience: Most real estate agents have extensive knowledge in the market. They know all the tricks in the book and can really help you get the most value out of your home.
  2. Provide price guidance: Agents can look at recent data from sales in the area and determine the best price. Agents tend to look at market supply, demand and the conditions to pick the best price. In addition, they can come up with a game plan to help you negotiate the price with potential buyers.
  3. Negotiation skills and confidence: Real estate agents have the unique ability to remove themselves from emotional aspects of the housing process. Agents can easily showcase their clients house in the best light and negotiate the best price.
  4. Handling paperwork and answering questions: There’s no shortage of paperwork to be done when you are selling a home. An agent can walk you through all the steps of filing the paperwork and they are available to answer questions even after the sale has gone through. A good agent will always be on stand by and ready to assist you so that you do not run into any legal trouble while finalizing the sale of your home.

Are you ready to enter the housing market? According to a recent study by Zillow, the BEST time to list your home is on a Saturday between May 1st and 15th. While timing isn’t everything, it can definitely be an important factor in selling as fast as possible.

Sell your home faster with these tips:

  1. Use great photos: Today, 95% of homeowners use the internet for their home search and photos play an important factor. Visually stimulating images can show off the lifestyle of the home, including beautiful features and encourage prospective buyers to schedule a tour. Poor photos can discourage buyers and many may reject your home without even considering it.
  2. Clean everything and depersonalize your home: A dirty home can be a deal breaker for most buyers. Make sure you take the steps to clean your house inside and out. In addition, remove personal photos as you want homebuyers to envision the house for their family as opposed to yours.
  3. Let the Light in: Before showing your home, brighten up the space by opening up the curtains and blinds, turn on the lights and let your house shine!
  4. Curb appeal matters: Simple things like repainting your front door, or replacing a mailbox can really spruce up your house. Redoing the landscape can also help improve your home’s first impression. Make sure all bushes and trees are trimmed and looking their best.

When your home is on the market, the little things can make all the difference. These simple steps can help enhance your home and get it off the market so much faster! If you are considering selling, talk to your GreenTree Properties agent about a custom strategy to get your home sold in the timeframe you desire at (949) 492-0090.

 

Summer is around the corner, can you feel it? Before the season heats up, have you considered upgrading your home to a more energy efficient flow? You are in luck as it might just have become less expensive to do so.

For years, California has seen an increase in energy efficient upgrades as homeowners have tied them to property tax bills. Fannie Mae has recently started a HomeStyle Energy Program which is a mortgage option that will “allows borrowers to finance clean energy upgrades equal to up to 15% of the as-completed appraised value of the home” –Green Tech Media. Essentially, in turn for making energy upgrades to your home you will be able to lower your mortgage and save money on energy bills. What’s not to love?

There are a few important details to remember though. The upgrade to your home must be completed within 180 days after you have been issued a mortgage note. In addition, you must provide an energy report which indicates how much the borrower is saving monthly. If you’re willing to file all the paperwork and make your house energy efficient then you can expect to see your monthly costs drop dramatically!

What do you think of this program? Do you think it will encourage more people to make their homes energy efficient? Comment below. If you’re thinking of making your home more energy efficient, let us know, we’d be happy to share our experiences with you.

 

A recent study by realtor.com found that in 2017 nearly 52% of buyers will be looking to buy a home for the first time. A large portion of that percentage, in fact 42%*, will be made up by Millennials (ages 18 – 35) and growing. Millennials are starting to reach that critical home buying age and are actively searching for new homes. Many millennials are striving to fulfill the American dream. Similar to past generations, many feel that owning a home is a key part of fulfilling that dream.

Where are millennials home searching?  One would think that living in the city would be the top choice location, however, it turns out that many are pursuing homes in the suburbs. A staggering 47%* of millennials live in the suburbs compared to just 33% who live in the city.  Millennials are looking for larger homes with big yards plus the suburbs offer a safe neighborhood that they desire.

Despite the fact that millennials have grown up in a world surrounded by technology they still value human interaction. Most millennials prefer meeting with real estate agents in person compared to contacting them via email or phone. In addition, if they have a good experience with an agent, over 55%* of millennials are likely to recommend them to a friend and 26%* are likely to write an online review.

Over all, it is important to meet the needs of millennials as they start to enter the housing market.If you are a first-time buyer talk to a GreenTree Properties agent about finding that perfect home. We can help alleviate the stress and make your first home purchase a smooth process. *source: Zillow.com

While the year unfolds and we watch as a number of potential economic policies from a new administration are signed into order, more insight into 2017’s housing market begins to unfold.  Last month we talked about housing appreciation and interest rates.  Now, experts are weighing on new trends for the new year.

Redfin is expecting 2017 to break the 2016 record as the fastest market on record, measured by the average number of days homes spend on the market before going under contract.  In 2016 the typical house stayed on the market for just 52 days, about a week faster than in 2015 and the fastest year since Redfin began tracking in 2009.  Redfin is also predicting 2017 to be even faster— data taken from demand for short-notice tours of homes for sale, including same day tours, and the number of home tours completed, which has grown 19 percent.  Redfin also recognizes a new approach for many buyers, one that seeks an efficient transaction.

In 2016, Millennials showed no signs of their ability to influence the housing market.  Now in the new year, experts are predicting that millennials and boomers will greatly move markets, the two largest American generations in history.  Chief Economist Jonathan Smoke cited on realtor.com predicts that millennials alone will make up 33% of buyers in 2017 as they approach life stages that typically motivate people to buy homes: marriage, children, job security.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have begun to back bigger mortgages for the first time since 2006, a major sign of recovery from the past housing crisis.  This will make it easier for more homebuyers to qualify for a mortgage in higher-priced markets.  While the new administration has alluded to many changes in the structure of Fannie and Freddie, we don’t imagine that happening until 2018, as Redfin reminds us of a lengthy and political process to repeal that charter.  We also expect increases in the availability of low downpayment mortgages from big lenders.  These larger institutions introduced mortgages requiring as little as 1-3% down, drawing more millennial buyers into the housing market.

All signs point a great 2017 for the housing market, with much buyer demand and new inventory.

One of the biggest questions on everyone’s mind when they’re selling their home is “How long will it take?”  Putting your home on the market leaves a lot of uncertainty and can add some extra stress, especially when you’re trying to plan your next move.  GreenTree agents gather market data and analyze the life of a listing in own your area, but you’ll want to consider these factors when asking how long it will take to sell your home (the last one may surprise you).

In real estate, everything comes down to location, location, location.  Factoring in how long your home may sit on the market is no different than this basic principle.  If your home is located in a sought after area—next to a great school, proximity to entertainment and convenience, or in an up and coming area—you may be in a fast moving sellers market.  You’re GreenTree agent can give you data on the average age of similar listings in your area, as well as the longest listings, and why those listings might not be selling.

Consider price not just in terms of fair market value, but also in visibility.  Homes that are priced properly typically see shorter market time but price can also be used as a marketing tool to attract buyers.  Homes that are priced 10% over market value will typically appeal to 30% of the market, while homes priced at fair market value can attract 60%. However, homes priced 10% under market value have the opportunity to move quicker and field more offers from 70% of the market.

It’s often overlooked, but the quality of photographs used to portray your home could greatly affect it’s time on the market.  Listings with substandard photos don’t drive internet traffic and could be off putting to buyers.  Over 90% of home buyers use the internet to search for homes, so listing photos are crucial for making a good first impression.  DSLR photos that are properly lit and showcase the features of the home without manipulating the house tend to attract more buyers, more offers and sell quicker.

If you’re thinking of selling, talk to your GreenTree agent about a custom strategy to get your home sold in the timeframe you want.  The right combination of location factors, price point and marketing can help ease your stress and put more confidence into selling your home.

We’ve been looking at solar energy a lot these days, particularly roofs, and have even written about them before here on our blog.  We look at solar panels as an investment on your home that will give you plenty of savings in the future and add value to your property.  The biggest barrier to getting a solar roof is the cost of the equipment, in comparison to the benefits, so when Tesla announced a new solar roof that would cost less than a normal roof, we were floored.

The roof looks good, there’s no doubt about that.  There are multiple finish options, including “Tuscan” and “slate”, which allows for a solar panel roof that actually looks like a normal roof.  But aside from aesthetics, most of us are wondering if a Tesla Solar Roof is worth it.  Namely, we’re more concerned about the return.

The cost of the roofs is estimated around $50,000, so when Tesla says it’s price point is around that of a “normal roof”, they mean a roof with high end materials.  At this rate, it’s more a competitive alternative to other luxury solar installations, but with more of an unknown return.

Performance and efficiency are everything when it comes to solar equipment.  The company itself has admitted that the aesthetic reduces efficiency by 2%, which is a lot.  Tesla’s panels are actually roofs, or “roof integrated”, unlike other panels that are mounted to the roof.  This design doesn’t allow for airflow between the panels and the roof and thus reduces energy and efficiency.  Also, because of the design, you wont be able to install around shaded areas, which will lower your production output.  There’s even a lot of talk about fire hazards because of the roof integrated design.

We certainly admire the look of Tesla’s new solar system, and are excited to see these concerns addressed over the years, as we know they will be.  If you’re thinking of adding solar energy to your home, let us know, we’d be happy to share our experiences with you.

The past year has shown us a multitude of trends in the housing market—higher home prices, housing shortages, developer confidence and rising rent prices.  For 2017, we’re thinking three things: locations, appreciation and interest rates.

Urban areas are appreciating much faster than suburban areas, accounting for growth, and small homes have seen much sharper price growth than larger ones.  Nationally, home prices are expected to keep rising by 3.5% according to Moody’s Analytics projections.  If you have a smaller home in, say, a downtown area, your equity is going to take you further.  As home prices rise, more buyers will inevitably move to the suburbs to find affordable housing.

If you’re looking to trade for a larger home, you’re in the market’s sweet spot, and the first part of 2017 is going to be the best time to strike for that.  The equity from your small house will get you more—the average price on a two-bedroom house climbed 59% nationwide, while four-bedroom houses rose by about 41%, according to more of Moody’s Analytics.  Developers have also continued to add new inventory to the market by building new supply in demanded areas with price points between $500,000 and $750,000. So, if you’re selling a smaller home in the first part of 2017 for an upgrade, you’ll want to choose higher priced offers over offers with quicker closing times. The more cash you have to put towards that down payment, the better off you’ll be.

Following the housing market crash, mortgage rates remained at record lows for years.  Rates are expected to rise to more normal levels, levels seen before the market crash.  The Federal Reserve has already indicated that three more increases to its benchmark rate are coming in 2017.  It’s only advantageous to act sooner rather than later if you’re thinking of buying or selling, especially since future housing policies remain unclear.

Earlier this week, Airbnb, an online homestay network that allows people to list or rent short-term lodging in residential propreties, announced it’s recent expansion to experiences, not just accommodation.  The website now gives hosts the chance to offer tours, so people can buy packages such as a guided tour or cultural experience.  While the debate over short-term rentals is raging in all of America’s, we wonder about the opportunities for landlords and property owners, as well as the drawbacks to neighbors.

The cost of an Airbnb varies—by location, demand, time of year, size—but is always set by the property owner.  A property owner can rent out a room, a sofa, a bed or an entire home.  There are more than 2,00,0000 listings in 34,000 cities and 191 countries, and growing.

Property owners see the appeal in short-term rentals.  The owner of an apartment can rent out that unit for $2,000 per month, or rent it on Airbnb for $150 per night.  Some owners own and rent multiple properties through Airbnb and make upwards of six figures per year.  At 90% occupancy, a homeowner can make about $4,000 per apartment on Airbnb.  If such owner pays about $2,000 of that in rent and utilities, that comes out to $2,000 profit per month, per apartment, or $24,000 per year, multiplied by ‘x’ number of apartments.

The legalities of short-term rentals through Airbnb are still being processed and sorted, namely when it comes to rights.  Entrepreneurial landlords have the right to make a buck, while neighbors have the right to maintain the atmosphere of their locale.  Some apartment buildings prohibit brief sublets by tenants who might want to earn extra money while they’re away—a landlords right to prohibit that.  There are also controversial issues arising over taxes—full time rentals acting as hotels but not paying hotel-like taxes.

In vacation spots like San Clemente, Dana Point and South Orange County as a whole, Airbnb listings are rampant.  The opportunities for property owners, or would-be property owners, are huge.  If you’re thinking of purchasing an investment property with short-term rentals in mind, check with your GreenTree real estate agent to see which areas allow, or don’t allow them.