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How Long Will It Take To Sell Your Home?

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.


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Tesla Announces New Solar Roof

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.


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Trends to Watch in 2017

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.


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Is Airbnb right for you?

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.


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The New Rancho Mission Viejo Could Be The Answer You've Been Looking For

When the market is strong, as it is now rolling into 2017, basic principles of supply and demand start to surface and weigh in the real estate market.  With current demands, inventory has been historically low during the previous year, which is why new developments offer homebuyers new opportunities to own property in desirable areas.

Over the years, we’ve worked with homebuyers in their search for newly constructed homes.  One of the drawbacks we often encounter is the proximity to basic amenities—Target, Costco, Sports Parks, etc.  The new Avenida La Pata Extension in San Clemente is changing the game, and the opening of the much anticipated Rancho Mission Viejo development is alleviating buyer demand.

Rancho Mission Viejo is a new master-planned community in South Orange County.  Located just 2.5 miles from downtown San Juan Capistrano and 5 miles from coastal attractions of San Clemente and Dana Point Harbor, RSV is a collection of 12 neighborhoods, including inter-generational housing, ranging from the $300s to the 1.0Ms.

We recently spent a few days at the developments at Rancho Mission Viejo and the best part is also what sets it apart from other developments—the amenities.  RMV’s Ranch has “plenty of places to exercise, retreats to relax, trails to explore and more.”  The Esecnia Farm features crops, planter beds, orchards and even a chicken coop.  Canyon Coffee at The Canyon House is the neighborhoods very own coffee shop, brewing Peet’s Coffee and catering kitchen with a large activity lawn.  There are even plans for a daycare center, with infant and toddler supervision planned down the street from the Esencia K-8 grade school.

Strong market conditions, new road extensions and price points to fit every new buyer, Rancho Mission Viejo is a favorable option for those of us in the market.  For more details, or to learn more about buying a newly constructed home, ask your GreenTree real estate agent.


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Should You Use A Realtor When Buying New Construction?

A lot of our clients ask about buying a newly constructed home.  They often weight the pros and cons of buying new vs. buying old, and we’re happy to be able to steer them along that road.

But many ask, if I buy new construction, am I still able to work with a realtor?

They answer is, yes.  In fact, you should be working with a realtor that does not have relationships or ties to the builder.  This will allow the realtor to have your best interest in mind, and protect that interest.

Model homes are typically staffed by a real estate agent, employed by the builder and tasked with a specific goal.  These reps represent the builder, as they are contractually obligated to do so. It’s important to have an agent to represent you that can advise you on how to structure your offer and in making choices that can affect your home’s resale value.

If you’re thinking of touring a new construction, don’t walk into the sales office without your agent.  Some developments have site registration policies that require your agent to accompany you on your first site visit.  If you walk in without them, you won’t be able to have the support of your agent during the transaction.

Your real estate agent is going be trained in negotiations, and can help with negotiations for possible upgrades or credits towards:

 – flooring, stone materials and finishes

– contract terms

– price

– warranty packages

– closing costs from the in-house lender

Buying new construction is a complex process with many moving parts.  An experienced agent will also have the know-how to keep the transaction and construction on track.  Depending on factors such as size, weather and the builder itself, your agent is going to be there along the way to let you know what to expect and how to navigate the process.

Talk with your real estate agent before visiting a new construction site and make sure you get the representation you need for the process.


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The Largest Group Entering the Market Right Now

They’re called boomerang borrowers, and they could be changing the housing market in the coming months and years.

The timeframe for borrowers who were significantly hit after the Great Recession between 2007 and 2010 to improve their credit score is about the happen, opening the door for a lot of consumers to re-enter the housing market.

Foreclosures, short sales, and bankruptcies remain on a credit report for seven years, which means these items are due to fall off the credit files of 2.5 million consumers by June 2017, the largest of the group over that time frame.

With millions of borrowers coming back into the housing market, should this be the time to sell?

Consider low inventory.  There is a shortage of homes for sale in many markets throughout the country in relation to buyer demand.  This is economics 101 and happens to create a highly desirable atmosphere for sellers to obtain the best possible sale price and terms.  According to Redfin, buyer demand rose by 13.3 percent over the month in September, it’s highest level in three-plus years.  We’ve seen buyer demand gain momentum since Labor Day, when a pop of fresh listings hit the market.

Home prices are on the rise after several years of dealing with distressed and foreclosed inventory.  As of August 2016, foreclosure inventory included only 0.9 percent of all homes with a mortgage.  As foreclosures drop, home values rise, which could mean higher appreciation for home owners.

Low interest rates hovering around the 3.5 to 3.7 percent range make the cost of borrowing money extremely attractive, especially for those boomerang borrowers who are re-entering the market with now above average credit.  Modern day loan programs offer a wide variety of options to buyers at various price points and stages to purchase property, so you know that when you accept an offer, the loan process isn’t going to diminish on your buyer, thus securing your sale.

Chances are, it’s been a while since you’ve sold your home—at least 7-10 years.  Predictive analytics help optimize buyer searches.  Social Media marketing brings visibility to a whole new level.  Drones and video tours help create powerful story telling campaigns.  All done to attract buyers across the market and secure sales.  Welcome to modern day real estate!

Make yourself ready for boomerang borrowers by preparing your home to show in the best light possible.  Talk with one of our real estate professionals if you’re thinking of selling your home and find out what they can do for you.


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Consider These Quick Tips Before Installing Your New Floor

Whether you’ve just moved in or you’ve been settled for a while, consider these GT Tips before you’re next hard surface flooring installation.

  1. Decide whether you’re keeping the baseboards or getting new baseboards.  Most flooring types require a small gap between the wall’s edge and the flooring’s edge, as with hardwood, to allow for movement.  If you’re keeping your existing baseboard, you may need a quarter round to cover this gap.

2. Is it level? The foundation, that is.  What you can’t see may hurt you.  Any major divots in the flooring may compromise the floor’s integrity, especially tile.  Uneven flooring could lead to cracks and breaks that cost money to repair.  If you’re demo’ing old floors, allow for time in between the demolition of the old floor and installation of the new in case repairs need to be made to make the floor even.

3. Are you installing on a second story? Many bathrooms using tile are going to be located upstairs, which means you’re going to need a waterproof subfloor when it’s installed on say, plywood.  When wood gets wet, it swells and could likely break or crack your tile.  A cement board will help ensure that this doesn’t happen, just be sure to think about this material when budgeting your project.

4. Consider the pattern.  If you’re installing hardwood floors, or plank style tile, you’ll typically want the pattern to run the length of the house, to make hallways and other longer rooms look larger.  More complex patterns, such as herringbone, may require more material to allot for more complex cutting.

5. Know your grout.  There are two types of grout, non-sanded and sanded.  Typically, sanded grout is using for flooring, while non-sanded grout (grout without sand) is used for walls.

6. Seal it.  Natural stones such as slate and granite are going to require a sealant every six months.  Without it, a white film could develop over the tile and diminish the sheen.


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Is Your Home Smart Enough To Attract a Buyer?

It’s no secret that more buyers are on the prowl for turnkey homes in today’s market.  Ongoing research shows that 71 percent of buyers, in fact, are looking for move in ready conditions, and are more willing to put in offers on homes that require less work or updating.  The term “updated”, however, is starting to become subjective, but while any two buyers may have different “update lists”—a list of items that they believe will need to be done once they move in, and thus subtracted from their offer price, at cost and convenience—there are ways to hit those marketing buzzwords and appeal to more buyers if your putting your home on the market.

One of these ways? Making your home smarter.  Of those buyers looking for turn-key homes, 57 percent of those buyers said they would consider a home “updated”—and thus more appealing—if they have smart-home technologies and features already in place.  Fifty-four percent said that if given two otherwise identical homes to place offers on, one with smart-home technology, the other without, they’d buy the smart home, and they’re willing to pay more for it.

Previously, interest in smart-home technology was primarily found in the more expensive segments in the market.  Now, it’s seemingly at every price point, in both new construction and renovations, old homes and new homes.

But what makes a home “smart”? According to CNET, a smart home is a home that is equipped with network-connect products (WiFi, Bluetooth or similar protocols) for controlling, automating and optimizing functions such as temperature, lighting, security, safety or entertainment, either remotely by a phone, tablet, computer or other operating system.

In order to be categorized as a smart home, the property must have a smart security feature that either controls access or monitors the property, or a smart temperature feature, controlled over a reliable internet connection.  It must also include at least two additional features below:

lighting (smart light bulbs and lighting systems)

safety (smart fire/carbon monoxide detectors and nightlights)

entertainment (smart TVs)

appliances (smart refrigerators, washers/dryers)

heating/cooling (smart HVAC, fans or vents)

outdoor (smart plant sensors, watering systems)

security (smart locks, smart alarm systems or cameras)

temperature (smart thermostats)

We’ve rounded up a few useful and appealing smart systems to help bring up your home’s IQ, whether you’re getting ready to put your home on the market or not.

Nest Home Thermostat- Nest learns what temperature you like and builds a schedule around yours.  It can turn itself down when nobody is home to help you save energy.  New features monitor your heating and cooling systems, sending notifications to your phone if it looks like your furnace is acting up or if it’s so cold you’re pipes might burst.

August Smart Lock – The August Smart Lock turns your phone into a key, locking and unlocking your door through the systems connectivity.  While you’ll need to make sure it configures with your current deadbolt system, and shell out $199, a smart lock could be an attractive feature to any home.

SkyBell HD Wi-Fi Video Doorbell System – This smart video doorbell lets you see, hear and talk to the visitor at your door, whether you’re home or not.  SkyBell sends your alerts, snaps photos and records video.

Samsung Family Hub Refrigerator – This connected fridge lets you view notes, schedules, order groceries, play music and even watch video.  The cameras inside will take photos of the refrigerators contents and e-mail them to you when you’re at the grocery store – in case you were wondering if you were out of ice cream.


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6 Ways to Stress Free Showings

If you’re selling your home with us, we’ve probably asked you to be as accommodating for showings as possible, and for good reason.  Accommodating for showings lets potential buyers know your motivated and serious, and gives a glimpse into what the escrow process might be like with you as a seller.  It’s a first impression in many ways—of you as a seller, and of your home.

We know how tough frequent showings can be, especially when you’re trying to live your life!  We’re sharing a few of the tips we often share with our clients to help them live as normally (and sanely) as possible.

  1. Make yourself a pre-showing checklist.  It’s easy to forget things when you’re in a rush.  A checklist can help ensure that your home is putting it’s best foot forward for potential buyers.

Some items to include:

Make the beds

Puts dishes away or in the dishwasher

Clear countertops

Bathroom sink and mirrors wiped clean and toilet seats down

Toys put in baskets and bins

Messes from pets cleaned and deodorized

Entry clear of shoes and backpacks

Lights on and window shades open

Take out the trash

2. Show some self love.  Think of this selling period as your opportunity to have your home as you’ve always wanted.  Show yourself some love with fresh flowers, a bowl of fruit or that “fancy” soap.  They make your home look extra lovely for potential buyers, but you’ll enjoy the daily benefits after the showing is over.  GT Tip: If you’re working on a tighter budget, use succulents and bowls of fruit that don’t require much maintenance and refreshing.

3. Get non-transparent bins and baskets (with lids!) In a pinch, these can serve as a catch-all of items without making the house look cluttered.  Laundry baskets with lids and non-transparent containers will make it look like you’re as organized as your Pinterest makes you out to be.

4. Make your bed as soon as you wake up.  This simple task can make you feel accomplished, set the tone for the day, and make that last-second showing a total breeze.  If you have kids, make their beds too or get them in the habit of doing so.

5. Keep a spare rack of fresh towels on hand.  It seems fussy, but having nicely folded white towels can make a bathroom feel cleaner and more spa-like.  Keep clean towels that you’ve already folded in the cupboard, or somewhere you can easily pull them out.  This will help eliminate the stress of worrying about whether the towels are clean all the time.

6. Know this—it only takes 30 days to make a habit.  If you can get through the first month, then going through that pre-show checklist will be a breeze, and the stress of last minute accommodations will have dwindled.


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