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From Summer Blues to Harvest Hues: Simple Ways to Transition a Backyard Into a Haven Buyers Will “Fall” in Love With

Daylight is dwindling, temperatures are dropping; it’s time to cover up the grill, toss the flowers and retire the patio furniture to the garage, right? Not so fast! Remember that backyard appeal can be just as important as curb appeal to potential buyers – all year long. With proper appointing, the backyard can remain a central hub all the way through the fall. Here are five easy ways to spice up any backyard to impress buyers, while simultaneously transitioning it from summer to fall.

  1. Say goodbye to vibrant petals – and hello to burgundy blooms!

Beautiful summer flowers have long since wilted, but that doesn’t mean plants are off-limits until spring. It’s time to transition into seasonally appropriate plants – you know, the ones that can handle cooler nights but still frame a back door with a pop of color. Pansies and garden mums are notorious for surviving signs of winter weather so they’re both stylish and practical. Feeling creative? Consider stacking this inexpensive wooden plant ladder with fresh herbs or fall flowers.

  1. Find the best seat in the house

Comfortable nooks are more desirable than sterile sitting parlors – that’s a given – so provide your backyard with that cozy versatility. Draping machine-washable throw blankets over outdoor seating acts as an invitation to curl up. And exchanging bold-colored summer pillows for durable outdoor pillows in shades like burgundy and burnt-orange, or even classic plaids, fosters a cabin-like feeling.

  1. Gather ’round the fire

Large bonfires may be a hit in the summertime, but compact fire pits are the perfect accompaniment to fall. There are wood-burning options for the fire-savvy, and gas-burning options for those who enjoy instant gratification. To ensure the safety of you and your neighbors, read up on fire safety protocols before purchasing a fire pit. If the thought of flames ablaze in your yard isn’t terribly appealing, consider a fuss-free heat lamp instead.

  1. Get your head in the game!

A home shouldn’t be too personalized during a showing – but it should show some signs of life. To make a backyard look like a place to lounge and play, include games and entertainment that double as decor. Cornhole is the perfect addition to the yard during the fall and it shows opportunity for people to engage with the outdoor space. Additionally, having a pair of binoculars sitting decoratively on a table or hanging on a hook encourages star-gazing on a crisp autumn night. These playful touches give the backyard character and show it can be a gathering place.

  1. Hang vintage bulbs for a modern feel

Who would have guessed that those oversized, old-fashioned light bulbs would come back in style – for patio fashion! Weather-proof string lights are now a staple for cultivating an appealing backyard during the day or night. Accent lights set the mood, creating a starry-ambiance and providing ample extra lighting on especially dark nights. These lights can wrap around porch railings, weave through a pergola or simply hang in the air.

Whether you’re a buyer or a seller, find an experienced, top-producing agent on remaxallpro.com.

Demand for Housing Increases in August 2019

According to the August 2019 RE/MAX National Housing Report, buyer demand continues to exceed available housing supply, extending the favorable seller’s market that has been in place for years. While sellers have had the upper hand in negotiations in recent years with constricted inventory remaining nationally, more buyers entering the housing market could increase momentum.

“The modest inventory growth that started last fall has been swallowed up by demand as buyers have returned to the market, likely spurred on by attractive interest rates,” said RE/MAX CEO Adam Contos. “Home sales dipping at the same time inventory falls suggests there may have been some reluctance on the part of sellers to list their homes,” added Contos.

The last of 2019’s peak months for home sales also prompted encouraging signs for buyers with a steep decline in Median Sales Price from July 2019 to August 2019. Despite concerns over low inventory, the seasonal decline in inventory from July 2019 to August 2019 is on par with the national average since RE/MAX began releasing the RE/MAX National Housing Report over 10 years ago.

Here are some highlights of the latest data found in the RE/MAX National Housing Report:

  1. Home sales took a dip.

The overall average number of home sales is down 4.2% compared to July 2019, and down 1.6% compared to August 2018. Leading the month-over-month sales percentage decrease were Miami, FL at -13.5%, Dover, NH at -13.1%, and Washington, D.C. at -10.3%.

  1. Home prices became increasingly more affordable.

In August 2019, the median of all 53 metro Median Sales Prices was $263,000, down 3.6% from July 2019 and marking the steepest drop-off in report history from July to August.

  1. The number of homes for sale declined.

The number of homes for sale in August 2019 was down 3.9% from July 2019 and down 5.5% from August 2018. Based on the rate of home sales in August 2019, the Months Supply of Inventory was 2.8, a decrease compared to 2.9 in July 2019 and 3.5 in August 2018. A six months supply indicates a market balanced equally between buyers and sellers.

Whether you’re a buyer or a seller, find an experienced, top-producing agent on remaxallpro.com.

From ‘Smart House’ to Smart Homes: How Today’s Tech Compares to the Iconic Disney Movie

Voice-activated music. Touch-screen powered appliances. An omnipotent, but friendly, virtual assistant providing homework help.

When “Smart House” debuted on the Disney Channel in 1999, its portrayal of a family living in a home powered by artificial intelligence seemed far-fetched. Watching it 20 years later, it’s a surprisingly prophetic portrayal of the way technology has become fully integrated into our daily lives.

In case you missed this made-for-TV masterpiece, the plot is simple: A family wins a home featuring an artificial intelligence (AI) system named P.A.T. (Personal Applied Technology). P.A.T. is programmed to take care of everything from house cleaning to meal prep, and can help coordinate outfits, give basketball advice and throw an epic party complete with mood lighting and cleanup. Chaos ensues, though, when P.A.T. is frighteningly overprotective after being reprogrammed to serve as the family’s maternal figure.

In honor of the 20th anniversary of “Smart House,” here’s a look at the technology covered in the film and how it compares to today.

Yep, homes can be controlled by AI

Similar to P.A.T., smart speakers like Amazon Echo and Google Home can control everything from music to lights with a few voice commands (and strategically placed smart plugs, if needed). But whereas P.A.T. was portrayed as the home’s central operating system, today’s smart homes are usually more of a combination of apps, gadgets and high-tech appliances.

The advantage is that homeowners can customize the technology to fit their lifestyle. It also means the tech can typically move with homeowners if they relocate.

Safety technology gives smart-home owners peace of mind

When a misguided P.A.T. attempts to lock the Coopers inside indefinitely, she blocks the windows with steel and adds an electrical force field to the home’s doors.

True, smart-home technology can greatly enhance home security, but it’s much more subtle.

For example, the If This Then That app is able to trigger an empty home’s interior lights as soon as the owner approaches. The Ring video doorbell helps residents monitor (and chat with visitors to) the front door. And many new home security systems, smoke alarms (check out Home Advisor’s breakdown of options), garage doors and surveillance cameras feature a virtual assistant integration, which means they can be controlled and monitored by a phone app or smart speaker.

Even our pets are avid technology enthusiasts

Considering the fact that keeping pooches happy is one of the primary reasons millennials buy homes, the movie’s inclusion of pet technology (the family dog is entertained by P.A.T. while the family’s away) is spot on.

One piece of especially buzzworthy pet technology is Furbo, an interactive pet camera that tosses treats to pets stuck at home. Then there are the pet doors that open only when triggered by an ultrasonic signal emitted from a special collar, blocking access to intruders. The doors can also be programmed to remain locked at certain times of day, keeping Fido and Fluffy inside for the night.

Technology can create the perfect mood

One of P.A.T.’s coolest features in the movie is her use of virtual reality to transport the Coopers to Cape Cod or a serene farm complete with a rooster’s wake-up call. While VR technology gets more sophisticated every year, full-screen virtual experiences don’t come standard in homes just yet. However, several pieces of smart appliances can help change the mood in your home.

Philips Hue is a line of smart lamps and light bulbs that can be timed to adjust from bright to softer lighting as the day goes on, mimicking natural daylight patterns. The Nest thermostat automatically sets the temperature in your home to your desired preferences, turns the temperature down when it senses you leave the home, and can be controlled from an app for on-the-go changes.

One downside of smart home technology? Energy drainage. But there’s even a “smart” solution for that. The Emporia Vue system helps homeowners monitor their energy usage through an app on their phone to reduce monthly costs and identify potential issues before they require major repairs.

Even as our lives become increasingly inseparable from technology, a home is much more than its futuristic appliances. If you’re looking for a home, working with an experienced professional is a smart move.

Start your first home buying experience off the right way by finding a real estate agent who works for you at remaxallpro.com.

3 Things to Consider Before Registering Your Home on a Short-Term Rental Site

Once upon a time, the idea of renting out your home to a stranger while you left for vacation was considered quite odd.

Today, renting a room in your house (or the entire house) to unknown travelers isn’t an outlandish concept, thanks in part to online services such as Airbnb, FlipKey and VRBO. Short-term rentals provide an income opportunity for owners and a unique way for visitors to experience a city. What better way to get the local experience than staying with – or renting from – locals?

If you think you’re up to being a host of a short-term rental, here are three things to keep in mind.

1. Legality

The rise in popularity of Airbnb and other sites hasn’t been without its controversy. There are concerns that short-term rentals threaten the jobs of hotel workers, and that a short-term rental doesn’t have to pass the same certifications and inspections of regular hotels.

Some cities have enacted restrictions against short-term rentals. You may need to register and get a permit or a license – or you may not be able to host at all. Check with your local government to make sure you understand the laws.

2. Taxes

You may not need to report the money earned from the short-term rental of your home if you meet both of these requirements:

1. You rent it out for fewer than 14 days a year AND

2. You live in it for more than 14 days or more than 10 percent of the total days you rent it out during the year (this determines if the property is seen as a residence or a rental property by the IRS).

Still unclear about the taxes on your short-term rental? TurboTax provides some more information, or you may want to consult with a tax professional.

3. Additional Costs

Renting out your home could mean an extra insurance bill. Check with your insurance agent to learn what your current policy covers regarding short-term renters. They may recommend increasing coverage. Airbnb does provide free primary liability coverage for up to $1,000,000 per occurrence, and many of the other sites have partnerships that make it easy to take out additional coverage, if needed.

In addition to insurance, you’ll have to pay a percentage of the rental income to the website: Airbnb and FlipKey both charge a 3% host service fee, VRBO has an option to pay-per-booking or an annual subscription fee.

Start your first home buying experience off the right way by finding a real estate agent who works for you at remaxallpro.com.

 

A Plan for First-Time Homebuyers: Go from Prepared to Purchase

 

If you’re a first-time homebuyer who has succeeded in saving enough for a down payment (remember, you don’t necessarily need 20%) on your very first home – congratulations! You’ve tackled one of the hardest parts of the home buying journey with success, but you haven’t crossed the finish line to homeownership just yet. Now it’s time for the follow-up work that can take you from prepared to purchase.

Credit Check

Do you know your credit score? If not, it’s time to request a copy of your credit report from TransUnion, Equifax and Experian to find out your score and what it means to your future financial picture. Start working to resolve any errors or outstanding debts before it’s time to make an offer on a house. It’s important to determine your DTI, or debt-to-income ratio, by reviewing assets and debts. The higher your DTI percentage, the riskier the investment is for lenders – which can lead to higher interest rates.

Prepare the Paperwork

Begin gathering all necessary documents now to make the process run smoothly. Depending on your situation, this may include income documentation, proof of assets, personal documents, pay stubs, tax returns, bank statements, IDs, previous addresses and Social Security numbers. Study the documents as you collect them to familiarize yourself with your financial situation, motivate your home search and keep your debt-to-income ratio low.

Get Pre-Qualified or Pre-Approved

After you find the right agent, the next step is to make an appointment with a loan originator (find one near you). A loan originator can help you with pre-qualification or pre-approval. Keep in mind that many homeowners borrow less than the maximum to account for other expenses and opt into lower monthly payments. Revisit your financials with these new numbers in mind and, if necessary, make any final edits to your budget and payment plan.

Start your first home buying experience off the right way by finding a real estate agent who works for you at remaxallpro.com.

Millennial Monopoly: 4 Real Estate Trends In 2019

What’s behind the rise in homeownership? Growing interest from millennials. Here are the 2019 millennial real estate trends you need to know about this year.Empowered with Knowledge
First-time, homebuying millennials are much more informed when it comes to renovations, repairs and real estate process than other generations. Growing up during the development of the internet has made them very tech and research savvy and able to find ways to access important information such as listings, neighborhood reports, HGTV home renovation videos and other types of industry information on their own. In 2019, they will rely on real estate agents to share information that they can’t find online such as neighborhood developments, local market forecasts, local housing regulations and more.

Buying homes – despite rising rates
Millennials continue to make up the largest segment of buyers, accounting for 45 percent of mortgages, compared to 17 percent of baby boomers and 37 percent of Generation Xers. While first-time buyers will struggle, older millennial move-up buyers will have more options in the mid-to upper-tier price point and will make up most of the millennials who close in 2019. As their housing needs adjust over time, millennials are on track to make up the largest share of homebuyers for the next decade.

Sweat Equity
Many millennials grew up watching renovations and makeovers on HGTV, which means many of them are ready to invest sweat equity in their new home. Millennial homebuyers, overall, are more aware of the costs, work and implications of renovations than the previous generations. This is good news as interest rates rise and buyers should be prepared to settle for homes in need of TLC.

New Buying Strategies
Social media continues to impact millennial homebuying habits. They rely on online reviews to make purchasing decisions, and a strong online reputation for real estate professionals is a must in catering to this market. In fact, a recent study showed that millennials would prefer to buy a house from a real estate agent influencer over a traditional real estate agent. Showcasing a home on social media, especially on visual-heavy platforms like Instagram, is essential for appealing to millennial buyers.

Research your way to the right real estate agent who can make all the difference. RE/MAX agents are more recommended because they recommend what’s right for you and your future. Find an agent today at remaxallpro.com.

Tidying Up Tips Hit the Housing Market

 
 

Admit it — over the holiday break you found yourself binge-watching the hit show with superstar organizing consultant Marie Kondo and quickly realized your place is not sparking much joy. Never fear! The KonMari Method is here and the tidying-up trend can give sellers and buyers the gentle nudge needed to organize their personal spaces or clean up their financial houses before showings or placing a bid.

WE HAVE LIFT OFF!
The theme behind the hip, tidying trend is that by making changes in our living space we create a catalyst for change and give ourselves the momentum we need to take charge in other areas of life. A nicely organized and de-cluttered home shows well and knowing your financial story before hunting for a new home sets you up for success.

SPARK TIME SAVINGS
Just like the KonMari method can help organize your home, buyers are encouraged to tidy up their credit to save time too. Buyers who know their credit score, debt to income ratio and come with pre-approved home loans are saving time and headaches in the house hunting process which can mean the difference between deal or no deal. By building a strong financial foundation before you shop, your bid on the house of your dreams will have time on its side.

SHOW STOPPERS
For sellers, once your belongings are scaled back, you can reclaim some of that time you wasted on running around, cleaning up before a scheduled showing. Many sellers say the ultra-approach to simplifying has changed their lives and it helps them with the quick-clean when they are showing their homes to prospective buyers. By staying on top of the little things, like that big stack of papers, mail and books piling up on the dining room table – it’s easier to give your space a quick-clean before a last-minute showing.

SENSE OF SATISFACTION
The tidying-up method can make our brains happy and leave us with a sense of accomplishment. Order matters in avoiding debt and financial stress too. Earn, save and enjoy is key in tackling those finances. Concentrate on being proactive with your finances and stay financially responsible as you try to qualify for a home loan. Having your financial house in order feels as good as organizing that messy hallway closet.

SHOW YOUR BEST SIDE
If you have your home on the market, simplifying a space can help you sell. Agents often tell sellers with big kitchens to clean out the useless items and create that extra space – this allows buyers to get a feel for space and imagine where their own kitchen appliances would be placed or stored.

DECREASE FRUSTRATION
Buying or selling a home is hard, but the simple task of organizing can cut through the daily hassles of life. A well-organized home and a firm understanding of your finances can have wide-reaching effects on our mood, happiness and even relationships during the home buying or selling period.

Looking to simply the hunt for a house or to sell your home? Find an experienced agent at remaxallpro.com

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Is Your Home Smarter Than You?


How smart is your home? In 2019, it’s possible your house is smarter than you. Designed to provide energy efficiency, security and comfort conveniences, the smart home can do it all on command. Control lighting, heating, cooling, appliances, televisions, computers and other security features with smart technology that communicates with each other and can be remotely controlled via a smart phone or online. Internet connectivity and cloud storage makes all this smart home technology possible by bringing convenience and electronic intelligence right to your fingertips. If you’re technically-challenged, don’t worry – we suggest starting small to go big with technology with three easy technologies to make your home smarter this year.

  1. Set Smart Temperatures
    Most thermostats only read the temperature in one area (usually the hallway) which can make other rooms too hot or too cold. Technology like ecobee4 or Nest comes with room sensors to help manage hot or cold spots. When sensors are placed in the most popular rooms, the smart gadget can read the temperature, detect occupancy and adjust the temperature so it’s just right.
  2. Sensing Leaks
    Smart leak detection sensors monitor your home’s plumbing with the purpose of discovering leaks and malfunctions. They can assist you in preventing water damage and the growth of mold and mildew inside a wall due to a slow leak.
  3. Open and Shut
    If you have ever left home for the day or, even worse, been on vacation and suddenly you’re unsure if you left the garage door open – a smart garage door opener offers convenience, improved home security and peace of mind. Check the open or closed status of your garage door via an app on your smartphone as well as open it or close it remotely – in other words, it’s possible to be on the other side of the Earth and still control your garage door.

Working with the right real estate agent who has the knowledge of the latest gadgets and amenities available in your area can make all the difference. RE/MAX agents are more recommended because they recommend what’s right for you.

Find an agent today at remaxallpro.com.

Holiday Traditions room by room.

There’s no place like home for the holidays. Whether you are a new homeowner, or are celebrating another holiday season in your well-loved home, your living spaces can be integral in making memories with family and friends. Time to put some holiday music on, gather up the kids and start creating these holiday traditions now, one room at a time.

Kitchen
With so much delicious food to make and bake during the holiday season, your kitchen is an easy place to begin creating holiday traditions. Baking cookies, frying latkes or building gingerbread houses (complete with a RE/MAX sign!) are activities in which the whole family can participate. You can go one step further and take your cooking skills to a local soup kitchen to support your community during this season of giving.

Living Room
Often the center of the home, your living room-is where the hustle and bustle of the holidays melts away. Kick back with a holiday movie, start a fire and decorate the Christmas tree as a family in matching holiday sweaters, no less! Light the menorah or host a New Year’s Eve party. The holidays can be stressful-use your home as a sanctuary to focus and reflect on what this time of year means to you.

Outdoors
When you think of holiday traditions outside, colorful lights and an inflatable Santa come to mind. But don’t dismiss other low-stress outdoor activities like sparklers in the snow, sky lanterns or caroling. If you can handle the cold, or live in a temperate climate, plan a get-together around an outdoor fire (complete with a yule log) on the Winter Solstice.

At RE/MAX, our agents find homes that match your life and style. Are you ready to start making traditions in a home of your own? Find an agent here.

9 Ways to Make Guests Feel at Home for the Holidays

The holiday seasons means a flurry of activities and family time. Here are some easy ways to make sure you and your guests are comfortable through it all.

1. Sticky-roll the furniture. Have your pets been sneaking a nap on the couch when you’re not looking? Make sure to de-fur the furniture before anyone has to sleep on it.

2. Test your air mattresses for holes. There’s nothing worse than falling asleep on an air mattress and waking up on a deflated tarp on the floor.

3. Pile kids into one room. They’ll love feeling like they’re at a sleepover.

4. Gather all of your old phone chargers. It’s one of the easiest things for travelers to forget to pack. Have your old chargers on hand, and you may save a guest a trip to the store.

5. Make the Wi-Fi password readily accessible. An easy way to do this is to print out the internet information on a notecard for each guest room.

6. Designate a snack and beverage hub. To avoid people tripping over each other at the fridge and during crucial food-prep times, set up a station away from the kitchen – maybe in the study – where guests can grab coffee and a bagel (or the like!) at their leisure.

7. Stock all the bathrooms. Everyone will feel better having all the bathroom essentials on-hand, including towels and washcloths, common toiletries, toilet paper, and, of course, a toilet brush and plunger. No one wants to announce they need a plunger!

8. Let them pitch in. Most guests want to help out somehow. Have everyone pick a regular task they’re willing to be responsible for, like walking the dogs, taking out the trash, making breakfast or doing the dinner dishes.

9. Relax and enjoy yourself! Set the tone for your guests. Do your best to look past the chaos and make the most of the time with family and friends.

An extra bedroom, closet or bathroom can go a long way around the holidays. Is it time you had more space? Find a local RE/MAX agent here who can help you find the right place for you.