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Category Archives: lancaster real estate

9 Ways to Cool Down Your Home This Summer

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Cranking up the AC can also crank up your electric bill. Here are a few alternative ways to keep your home cool this summer.

1. Swap bulbs
If you still haven’t switched to CFLs for environmental or economic reasons, do it to be cool. Incandescent bulbs waste about 90 percent of their energy through the heat they emit.

2. Keep a cool head
Try out a buckwheat pillow for bedtime. They don’t absorb and retain heat like cotton and down pillows.

3. DIY AC
Place a big bowl of ice water in front of a fan for a cheap alternative to central air.

4. Mind the blinds
Close your window blinds or curtains when you leave to prevent your home from heating up like a greenhouse while you’re gone.

5. Grill and chill
Cooking outside on the barbecue keeps you from heating up your home with a stove or oven. It also minimizes the time you have to sweat over the dishes.

6. Don’t block your breeze
Open internal doors at night to maximize any fresh, cool air that makes its way inside.

7. Change direction
For the summer, set your ceiling fan to rotate in a counterclockwise direction to create a cooling, downward airflow. In winter, turn the setting back to clockwise to recirculate warm air.

8. Suck it up
Use your bathroom fan when you shower and your exhaust fan when you use your stovetop. They’ll help draw the hot air up and out of the room.

9. Unplug
Electronics emit heat when they’re plugged in, even if they’re turned off. Unplug them, or use a smart power strip, when you’re not using them.

Want a cool new place to call home? Learn what your cold cash (or approved mortgage amount) can buy in today’s market. Start by finding an experienced agent here.

4 Steps to Launch the Home Buying Process

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You’ve decided you’re ready to buy your own home­ – now what? Start with these initial steps:

1. Get your financial ducks in a row.
Calculate how much money you have in savings and assets, your total annual income and your expenses. Know how much of it you can allocate toward a downpayment and other expenses. Check your credit report and fix any errors. This will help you determine what type of loan you qualify for, and the price range of homes you want to look at.

2. Determine how much house you can afford.
A common rule is that your monthly mortgage payment should not exceed 28 percent of your pre-tax income. You can plug your information into an online mortgage calculator to get a starting idea of exactly how much you’ll pay each month with different interest rates and terms.

3. Find a real estate agent.
Interview several agents to find one that specializes in the communities you’re interested in and has experience representing buyers with the type of home you’re looking for. Search for a local agent now.

4. Shop!
It’s important that you keep an open mind and look at a wide range of properties. Go to open houses. Cruise the Internet. Peruse different neighborhoods. Your agent will also help by finding properties that match as many of your “wants” and “needs” as possible. When you fall in love with a house and are ready to make it official, your agent can help you navigate the process from putting in an offer to the closing table.

Whether you’re buying, selling or looking to make your house a home, you can find more advice on the RE/MAX blog.

4 Things That Only A Realtor Knows

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According to the National Association of Realtors, 42 percent of homebuyers start their home search online, and 92 percent use the Web during the home search process. While the Internet can be a good place to start looking, there are things real estate agents know about the process of buying and selling a home that can’t be found in any Web browser.

Here are a few.

1. How to price a home

When setting a listing price, agents consider scores of factors, from local and national market trends and neighborhood development activity to the latest buyer preferences for kitchen appliances and landscaping. Every home is unique, and an agent with a track record of success knows how to price it attractively in the market.

The Internet isn’t always much help when it comes to comparison shopping, either. Many of the same factors that help an agent set an appropriate listing price aren’t available in an algorithm, so online estimators aren’t always accurate – and could be costly if you purchase without consulting a real, live professional.

2. Marketing offline

While online marketing can certainly be valuable, agents have networks of contacts and years of experience to round out their marketing plans.

And, for buyers, agents often can tap into their network to learn about great properties before they hit the real estate websites or even the MLS.

3. Key points in the process

If you find a home you love online, the website won’t be there to guide you through a mortgage application, find a home inspector or advise you what to do if an inspection reveals issues.

4. How to negotiate

Having an experienced, professional negotiator drive your transaction can be vital to reaching a fair price for the property you’re buying or selling. A website can give you an estimate of how much a property should cost, but it can’t evaluate whether that’s a great price or not.

One way the Web is helpful in real estate? Finding a great agent to work with. Start your search here.

May Housing Report

With the 2016 home-buying season just starting, April sales saw a 7.5% increase over March and a 3.2% rise over April last year, which nearly matches the average year-over-year sales increase of 4.3% so far in 2016. The Median Sales Price in April was $215,000, which was 5.4% higher than one year ago and 7.5% above the median price in March. The inventory of homes for sale remains very tight in many markets across the country, with the April inventory 15.2% lower than April 2015. At the rate of home sales in April, the national Months Supply of Inventory was 3.2, down from 3.7 in March.

The May 2016 Housing Report infograph can be found here.

RE/MAX All-Pro Open House Showcase

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Don’t forget to come out to our Open House Showcase this Sunday! 17 homes will be shown, with more than a dozen of our agents hosting!

View Listings >

 

4 Things Agents Consider When Setting Listing Prices

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There’s no online calculator for setting the perfect listing price for your home. It takes experience, market savvy, and even a bit of psychology. A strong listing agent can help you set the right, most competitive price for your home. Here are a few things they might look at:

1. The competition
Your agent will look at the prices of similar homes in your area that either are currently listed or sold during the past few months. They’ll take into account how many days the properties were on the market, and how the listing prices for those homes differed from the final sale prices.

2. Market trends
What’s affecting the market in your neighborhood, and your region? Your agent will consider national factors that shape the real estate market, such as possible rising interest rates, as well as local factors, like whether the average home price in your neighborhood has been rising or falling. They’ll also think about things such as new companies moving to the area in the near future, or plans for improving local amenities, like parks and shopping districts. All can increase the value of your home to a buyer.

3. Your neighbors
Although a home the same size and age recently sold for a high price, your own place might not fetch the exact same fortune if, say, junky cars continue to proliferate in your neighbor’s driveway. On the flipside, if the grass is in fact greener on the other side of the fence, your home’s value may be higher due to your neighbors’ curb appeal.

4. The Goldilocks price
Listing your home at a price that’s “just right” from the start is critical to selling it quickly, for the best price. Overpricing your home, and then dropping the price a few times while it sits on the market, could lead to a lower final sales price than if the home was priced appropriately from the beginning. And, of course, setting a price that’s too low leaves money on the table.

Wondering how much your home might be worth in today’s market? Find a local RE/MAX agent who can explain how these and other considerations could factor into a pricing strategy for your home.

8 Tips for First-Time Sellers

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If you’re selling a home for the first time, it’s quite a different ballgame from what you experienced as a first-time buyer.

Ultimately, you’re in control of the process. You call the shots on prepping your home for sale, deciding on a listing price, accepting (or rejecting) offers, and a host of other factors.

But you might want to heed the following tips:

1. Hire an experienced real estate agent
A real estate transaction is filled with complexities and nuances that a professional, skilled agent can help you navigate. Ask friends and family to recommend an agent they’ve used and were pleased with, or search for a local RE/MAX agent.

2. Detach yourself from the process
You’ve made memories to last a lifetime in your first home, and saying goodbye is hard. But be careful not to let your emotional attachment get in the way of making sound decisions, particularly when it comes to staging and pricing your home. Try to see your home as a potential buyer would. Pretend you’re a potential buyer and walk through your home. Make a list of what you like about each room – and the things you’d change.

3. Don’t overprice
Some sellers might think that in today’s low-inventory market they can overprice their home and get top dollar. In reality, if you price it competitively, you’ll create a flurry of activity and (possibly) get in a situation where multiple offers are rolling in. Overpricing at the start hurts your chances of getting a quick sale, especially if numerous price reductions are needed.

4. Declutter and stage for a quick sale
Buyers who tour your home will have a hard time picturing themselves living in it if they only see paint colors or décor that fits your own unique style. Repaint the walls with neutral, earth-tone colors, and remove excess decorations from walls. Consider renting a storage unit to store large furniture that overpowers your main living areas; rooms should appear as spacious as possible.

5. Make the necessary repairs/upgrades
Ensure that all systems and appliances are functioning properly, as these items will come up in a home inspection that might cost you more money and, possibly, the whole sale down the road. The rule of thumb is to make improvements to your home that will help the property show well, but don’t put a ton of money into capital investments such as a basement refinish or high-end flooring, particularly if such upgrades aren’t consistent for your neighborhood. You likely won’t get that money back in the sale.

6. Give your home curb appeal
Your home’s front exterior is the first thing potential buyers will see when they drive by, and it’s likely the first photo that will appear in an online search. Give your front door a fresh coat of paint, add some bright flowers to your entryway, and make sure that any cracks or major cement damage is fixed. Consider renting a pressure washer to get rid of the grime and buildup on the outside of your house, and definitely keep the yard mowed and tidy. A little elbow grease goes a long way to making a positive first impression on buyers.

7. Keep an open mind for negotiations
What’s more important to you: Walking away with your asking price (or more)? A quick closing time? Putting out as little up front cash in closing costs as possible? All of these are considerations you’ll need to make as you evaluate offers. Also, keep in mind that you have the ability to negotiate with counter-offers. Sometimes, you can sweeten the deal by offering to pay a buyer’s closing costs (if feasible), or leaving some appliances behind. A few concessions can go a long way in the negotiation process, and your Realtor can work with you to carefully evaluate and respond to each offer.

8. Get ready for closing
Once you’ve accepted an offer and signed a sales agreement, you’ll start prepping for a closing. Also called “escrow” or “settlement,” closing is the final meeting between the buyer, seller, their agents and a loan officer (or an attorney, in some states) where the buyer pays their portion of the costs to the seller and the buyer’s new title and any mortgage liens are properly recorded. The closing agent will calculate what monies are due to the owner and what credits need to be applied to the transaction, such as taxes, title fees and other closing costs.

Ready to sell? Find a RE/MAX agent today who can help you navigate all these steps.

April Housing Report

The 2016 home buying season began in March with a 33.4% jump in sales from February among the 53 metro areas surveyed for the RE/MAX National Housing Report, which is a little better than the 31.0% seven-year average of February to March increases. March sales were also 3.6% greater than sales one year ago. So far in 2016, the average year-over-year increase in home sales has been 4.9%. The median price among the Median Sales Prices of the markets in the survey in March was $204,000, which was the same median price reported in March 2015. The inventory of homes for sale remains very tight in many markets across the country, with March seeing a level that is 13.3% lower than a year ago, the exact same difference seen in February. At the rate of home sales in March, the national Months Supply of inventory was 3.2, down from 3.7 in March 2015.

The April 2016 Housing Report infograph can be found here.

9 Tips for Taking Photos That Help Your Home Sell

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1. Turn off the flash.
Open the curtains and try to use as much natural light as possible. Flashes can create unattractive shadows and distracting bright spots.

2. Think big.
Shoot from the doorway or from the corner to include as much of a room as possible. Rooms shot from an angle seem bigger.

3. Avoid photobombs.
Yes, your kids and pets are darling, but you’re not trying to sell them (hopefully). Keep them out of your listing shots.

4. No selfies.
To avoid starring in your photos, shoot mirrors from an angle.

5. Shoot from the hip.
Or chest. Shooting from a kneeling position helps make a room seem more spacious.

6. Go for a close-up.
Highlight architectural detailing, such as molding or tile work, with a close-up image.

7. Overcast is underrated.
Exterior photos have more depth when they’re taken on a cloudy day.

8. Take tons.
Take several pictures from each angle and in different lighting schemes to give yourself some options.

9. Use photo-editing software.
There are lots of free, easy-to-use photo editing tools available online that allow you to brighten your images and crop away distractions.

Your Realtor can help you pick the best images of your home, or find a talented pro to take some. Find a RE/MAX All Pro agent here.

September 2015 RE/MAX National Housing Report

RE/MAX researches 53 major metropolitan markets and analyzes the data to get a pulse on the US housing market. Here are some highlights from this months report. For more information about your local real estate market and what these trends mean for you, contact a local RE/MAX All-Pro agent.

August home sales were 5.0% higher than August 2014 and were 27.6% greater than the sales in August 2008, the first month of the RE/MAX National Housing Report. Completed transactions in August were 11.4% lower than in July, which was the second best month for home sales since 2008. Click here to download the August 2015 Housing Report.