Wheatfield Home for Sale or Not, Spring is Time for Simple Renovation

With spring in the air, you don’t have to have your Wheatfield home for sale to catch the spring cleaning bug. Whether or not you’ve been cooped up inside for a longer-than-usual siege of the wintertime blues, as soon as the weather turns the corner, there seems to be a natural urge to open the windows and start freshening your place up.

Spring also brings the traditional hot selling season, and if you’re among those getting ready to list your own home for sale to take advantage of it, you’ll want to add extra attention to the traditional cleanup. Home for sale or not, you can channel some of your annual sprucing-up energy with one of these light renovation ideas. Each can add new zest to your living areas without breaking the bank:

  • If you want to liven up your kitchen or bathroom but don’t want to shell out for the full cost of replacing the cabinets or doors, consider what simply changing the hardware would do. Take a trip to the hardware department, pick out a sample knob or pull, then test what the change would look like. Sometimes this simple transformation adds a surprising degree of sparkle!
  • If your lighting fixtures are looking a bit dated and dingy, one simple fix is to buy new lampshades. Replacing a whole lamp is expensive and often unnecessary—and new shades can make a much more resounding impact, anyway. If you are planning to put your home for sale on the Wheatfield market anytime soon, best opt for white or cream. Keeping the look bright yet neutral gives you a proven selling advantage.
  • In any room where years of wear and tear have created smudges that no amount of elbow grease can remove, think about painting with a change of color. It may be a bit more ambitious and costly, but whether you hire pros or do it yourself, the result can make you feel like you’re in a whole new home. As with the lampshade selection, resist the temptation to get overly exuberant and creative: choose neutral color combinations.
  • If new furniture is not yet called for (or beyond this year’s budget), consider calling in the pros for some upholstery cleaning; then adding new accent pillows. If your existing pillows are in good shape, sometimes just a few new pillow covers can freshen up a room’s whole look. Designers sometimes recommend picking just one bright color and keeping with it throughout the house.

You don’t have to be planning to list your home for sale in Wheatfield to make 2014’s spring cleaning efforts a self-satisfying success. And if you’re planning to list, we have a host of other preparation tips…and a marketing plan designed to bring top results!

 

Foreclosures in Wheatfield Still Available for Careful Buyers

Despite the winter’s chilling effect on all sorts of sales, February saw single family homes, condominiums and townhomes selling nationwide at a full 7% increase over a year earlier. The opposite is true of foreclosures—no surprise, since the health of the market means fewer serious borrower delinquencies, hence fewer foreclosures.

Even so, Wheatfield foreclosures are still available, possibly because some of the fiercest competition may be tailing off. Real estate watcher RealtyTrac finds that the institutional investor buying spree appears to be losing steam—which could be very good news for individuals interested in purchasing foreclosures.

Typically, Wheatfield foreclosures are listed on an as-is basis — and that means exactly what it says. Whatever is wrong with the property will remain unfixed. Unlike a traditional home sale where you can negotiate with the seller to fix problems or provide credits to counterbalance the expense to have them fixed, when you buy a foreclosed home as-is, that option isn’t available.

When you are up against time pressure to submit an offer, you do have other strategies. One is to hire a qualified home inspector to go over the property, then make your offer contingent on the results of the report. That allows you to know what you are getting into before you commit. If it turns out that the repairs needed are minor, you can choose to go forward with your purchase. If there are too many costly problems, or if there are an overabundance of unknowns, it might be in your best interest to pass. A contingency like this gives you the freedom to weigh your options carefully before you make your decision.

One other issue to keep in mind is the insurability factor. If you believe your offer represents good value even though the property has significant maintenance issues, remember that in most cases you will need to have a home insurance policy in place before you can close. Ask your insurance agent to check the property to determine whether it can be insured. If the first answer is no, you can still check with other companies—but keep in mind that in the world of foreclosures, this can become an insurmountable obstacle.

Buying foreclosures in Wheatfield needn’t be overly risky when your approach includes careful evaluation of the target property. Wheatfield foreclosures are still out there, and with care and patience, you should be able to find one that is right for you. Interested in discussing further? Contact us today!

 

Google’s Move into ‘Unloved’ Wheatfield Homeowner Devices

Right at the start of the year, Google announced a surprising move. It said it was purchasing a home appliance maker most of us had never even heard of…for $3.2 billion in cash! It was a gambit that every Wheatfield homeowner should note, because it signals where some very smart money is headed: right where we live!

Remember, Google isn’t just famous for its search engine; it’s also frequently in the news for its forays into any number of futuristic enterprises (those mysterious barges, for instance). The appliance maker that now has Google’s billions in its pocket is called Nest Labs, Inc. Nest makes smart devices that reinvent the traditional ones every Wheatfield homeowner has to deal with, like thermostats and smoke detectors. “Unloved but important devices” was how the press announcement put it.

The unique feature of Nest’s products is that they collect “user behavior” data (i.e., homeowner actions) in order to provide a more tailored response. Google CEO Larry Page explained, “They’re already delivering amazing products you can buy right now–thermostats that save energy and smoke/CO alarms that can help keep your family safe.”

The move of Google into the realm of smarter homes is part of a broader trend. In the most recent American Institute of Architects Home Design Trends Survey, there was a dramatic increase in the use of technology solutions in the home. The survey noted an increase in requests for entertainment, security and energy management systems. Energy management systems are becoming increasingly sophisticated as households are given the ability to manage their lighting and temperature over a wireless network. As electronic cars become more prevalent, electronic docking systems in the garage may also become commonplace.

How does this affect the average Wheatfield homeowner? As the minimum price of these systems decline, automated homes will eventually become the norm. If today it costs around $2500 to automate your home, it’s all but inevitable that similar features will fall in price (and grow in sophistication). Then, when it comes to buying a Wheatfield home or listing your own for sale, the amount of smart automation is bound to become a key selling point—trust Google!

The ability to operate and manage your house from a wireless devices such as your smartphone or laptop is already here…and Nest’s learning technology signals a future where our home and appliances are able to learn from our behavior and predict our needs. Keeping an eye on the future is a good idea for any Wheatfield homeowner, especially when you’re thinking of replacing one of those “unloved but important” devices— and most especially when you’re contemplating listing your home anytime soon. If that’s in your future, why not give us a call? As Google is in the habit of demonstrating, it’s never too soon to prepare for the future!

 

Responses Quicken with Quality Listing Photos In Wheatfield

In advertising, they call the photo that glamorizes a product its ‘hero shot.’ In the case of a real estate listing in Wheatfield, the pictures that accompany the written description can all be hero shots, if enough care is taken.

In one Auburn University study (The Relationship between Property Price, Time-on-Market, and Photo Depictions in a Multiple Listing Service), it was found that adding a single photograph to a listing could lift the final sale price by as much as 3.9%. That’s not surprising, but what is noteworthy is that each additional listing photograph added several hundred dollars to the final selling price. In other words, it’s not just the curbside photo at the top of a Niagara or Erie County listing that should be given great care—it’s all of ‘em!

Aside from the usual advice to de-clutter, use light appealingly, etc., there are some less well known tips that can help maximize the eye-appeal of a listing in places like Wheatfield:

The Exterior

The exterior photograph is considered by most professional real estate photographers to be by far the most important shot. I’m not sure I agree. Of course, it sets the stage for everything else, and has to be attractive enough to rate a second look, but those second looks of the interior and garden can differentiate the listing from the crowd. A superior exterior can often be achieved by elevating point of view (IOW, shoot from a stepladder)…or sometimes by scheduling the shot in early morning or late afternoon light (to catch the most dramatic light).

Back Against the Wall!

For the majority of your listing interiors, you’ll want wide angle shots which emphasize spaciousness. Most work better when the photograph is taken from a doorway or corner with the widest lens (that’s the one with the lowest focal length number)—as long as it doesn’t overly distort the image.

Funhouse Effect

Always ensure that your camera is completely horizontal. Correct the ‘barrel effect’ on vertical lines to ensure that all of the walls appear straight. When you’re looking through a viewfinder or small digital screen, it’s all too easy to overlook the sides by concentrating on the center of the picture. That’s an amateur mistake (and slanted walls make a room look like a carnival funhouse!)

Flash Extra

Take at least one extra shot using the on-camera flash or strobe. True, often that will result in an unevenly lit alternative that you will discard…but now and then, the on-camera light will boost clarity and color that’s more pleasing than what natural light provides.

Great-looking listing shots in Wheatfield make a significant difference in the degree of response a property draws. We always help our clients with the listing photographs—it’s one of many tools to ensure their listing gets the exposure and results it deserves!

Lewiston Apartment Building Appeal Grows with Demo Shift

Wheatfield real estate investors come from every kind of background, but all share a common trait: they like to think ahead. For that reason, investors eyeing Wheatfield apartment building prospects may want to take a close look at what’s going on with the Millennial generation.

For those of us who are a bit uncertain about which group is considered “Generation Y” and which are “Millennials,” there’s a reason for that. Both terms refer to the same group—everyone born between 1977 and 2000. And whatever you call them, they are a very important demographic. According to some statistics, they are 80,000,000 strong! That makes them a larger demo than Baby Boomers, and 20% larger than those who come next: the Gen X’ers.

PWC (PriceWaterhouseCoopers LLC), the widely-respected financial and business advisers, have come up with some interesting generalizations about Gen Y that could affect the prospects for apartment owners and investors. According to their 2014 Trends Report, members of Generation Y are more likely to live in either a medium-sized or big city than previous generations. Generation Y’ers also plan to stay there for the foreseeable future—40% of Gen Y’ers say they want to be living there in five years. This compared with only 23% of generation X’ers and 14% of Baby Boomers.

Some other profile characteristics fall in line. Generation Y’ers are the least car-friendly of any demographic. Two years ago, CNN reported that there had been a 30% drop in the share of new car purchases by 18 – 34-year-olds. When asked about the community features they thought most important, 82% thought living within walking distance of work and school was highly important; and Gen Y’ers are also more likely than other generations to walk or use public transit.

Generation Y’ers are also significantly more likely to be on the move over the next five years. Approximately 63% fell into that category, compared with to 42% of the overall adult population. A full 38% plan to move into an apartment, duplex, row house or townhouse.

For suburban Niagara County apartment building investors seeking rental income, there is more reason to be interested. According to a study produced by the non-profit Urban Land Institute, the majority of Gen Y’ers do not intend to purchase over the coming decade. That sounds like a reassuring note on the demand side.

Real estate website Trulia had a final piece of the puzzle, this one due to the slowly-building economic recovery. Their 2014 housing predictions report forecasts that apartments will be the first stop for young adults who are finally able to move out of their parents’ home.

All in all, investment housing in Wheatfield is already hot this spring and only going to get hotter! This includes purchasing and renting out a home, we are experiencing very low supply and very high demand. Interested in learning more? Call us today!

 

Piggyback Loans in Wheatfield Stage a Comeback

It’s another after-effect of the rise in housing prices: piggyback loans in Wheatfield, NY and the rest of the Niagara region are making a comeback. According to a recent American Bankers Associations Report, the number of piggyback loans originated across the nation more than doubled within the past year.

 

A piggyback loan involves taking out two mortgages simultaneously, with a home equity loan (aka “second mortgage”) ‘piggybacking’ on a first mortgage. In Wheatfield, NY home purchases, piggyback loans typically come into play when the buyer is unable to provide a full 20% deposit. Normally this would necessitate the buyer having to take out private mortgage insurance (PMI), which can be pricey. By going with the piggyback loan alternative, the Loan to Value (LTV) ratio can be reduced to less than 80%, the threshold below which PMI requirements vanish.

 

A standard piggy back loan is structured as a “80-10-10”—meaning that 80% of the purchase price comes from the first mortgage, the next 10% from the second loan, and the final 10%, the deposit.

 

One major downside to piggybacking is cost. The interest rates charged on piggyback loans are significantly higher than those for first mortgages, so it may prove less expensive to pay for PMI for a short period of time. This is more likely in a rising market, since the Loan to Value can shrink below 80% before long. Another problem can crop up when it comes time to refinance. In order to refinance, the second mortgage lender has to agree to remain in a subordinate position. This agreement (known as re-subordination) may, in some cases, be hard to reach. Lastly, homeowners with a piggyback loan are unlikely to be able to take out a third loan should they want to access their home equity. Nowadays, thirds are rarely granted.

 

Between 2000 and 2006, it made a lot of sense to take out a piggyback loan. The interest on piggyback loans was tax-deductible, while mortgage insurance premiums were not. When property prices were rising as sharply as they were between 2000 and 2006, lenders also considered piggyback loans a good bet because the growth provided ample equity ‘cushion.’ But when real estate prices dropped in 2007, piggyback loans fell out of favor. By 2010, the percentage of piggyback loans fell to just 1.7%.

 

Today, with house prices on the rise, lenders are again growing more comfortable granting piggyback loans in this area—but with a bit more caution. Lenders usually ask for a FICO score of at least 700 and a debt-to-income ratio that’s below 43%. Increasingly, they want to see that a borrower has cash reserves in case of unforeseen circumstances.

 

If you are considering a piggyback loan in the Wheatfield area this spring, you will want to run the numbers to see if it’s the solution that makes the most sense. In some circumstances, it can be the best way to get into a home you can afford even though you can’t furnish a full 20% deposit. Call us today to discuss how today’s market meshes with your needs!