January 2019

For Buyers:
The monthly average interest rate rose to 4.64% in December 2018, up 0.69% from the previous December’s 3.95%. For buyers who will purchase at the current median sales price of $260,000, that equates to approximately $100 added to their monthly payment compared to last year.  Buyers averaged 1,845 square feet at this price; nearly 100 square feet smaller than if they had purchased last year.  And, renting may not be a suitable alternative. As single-family homes appreciated 8.1% per square foot, single family lease payments also rose 8.6% during the same time frame. With that, buying is still a good option over renting if only to stabilize one’s monthly housing expense. Sale prices will continue rising in the first half of 2019, but at a slower rate and they’re not expected to decline at this juncture. Instead, buyers may see a little more flexibility from sellers in the form of repairs, closing costs, and possibly interest rate buy-downs in the higher price ranges.

For Sellers:
Entering into 2019, the market continues to favor sellers but not nearly as much as it did at the beginning of 2018. Supply is still 34% below normal compared to 36% below normal this time last year.  It’s buyer demand that has shifted as buyers grapple with affordability and concerns about an overvalued market.  Demand at this time last year was measured 1% above normal; today it’s 13% below normal.  While it may feel like a buyer’s market compared to the last four years, it is far from one. Greater Phoenix is still in a seller’s market, however it’s weaker out of the gate.  This means there is still more demand than supply, but multiple offers will not be as common, there will be fewer sales overall and scenarios will vary widely depending on price range.  Demand could change in either direction depending on interest rates, however for the time being buyers and sellers must play the hand they’ve been dealt.  For those wondering if it’s still a good time to sell, the answer is “yes” for now.

Commentary written by Tina Tamboer, Senior Housing Analyst with The Cromford Report
©2019 Cromford Associates LLC and Tamboer Consulting LLC

8 Affordable Ways To Boost A Home’s Curb Appeal

Your home’s curb appeal could be make or break for the amount of showings you have. In the same way curb appeal can attract potential buyers through your door, a less than spectacular home front can also be a detractor. From upgrading landscaping to refreshing paint, consider these eight affordable ways to boost your home’s curb appeal and entice buyers to add your home to their “must see” list:

  1. Update Outdoor Lighting

An easy way to instantly add interest and depth to an outdoor space is to replace dated lighting fixtures with new ones. There are many lighting options on the market in a wide range of colors and styles. Most choices are quite affordable and you will be amazed at what a few dollars can do in upgrading the overall look of your outdoor space.

  1. Keep It Mowed

A freshly mowed lawn is essential to boosting your curb appeal when trying to sell your home. Mowing your lawn on a weekly or 10 day basis will allow it to grow enough between mows so that you don’t damage the grass. Make sure to also allow time for edging and clear away any clippings before your house is shown to potential buyers. Keeping your lawn in top condition is always a good idea to boost curb appeal.

  1. Fix The Small Things

Do a thorough look through your front porch to find any small issues that have gone unnoticed for years. Fix small things like a slit in the window screen, tightening the mailbox, or replacing a burned out lightbulb. Attending to these small things can add up when it comes to receiving an offer for your home.

  1. Add Some Flowers

Pick up a few beautiful sets of flowers from the garden center and plant them in a pot next to the front door. Colorful flowers will add instant beauty to the space and welcome guests into your home. Consider adding a few different colors to help create an interesting and inviting atmosphere.

  1. Trim Up Shrubs

Get out your shears and trim up bushes and plants that have overgrown their spaces. All you need is a little bit of elbow grease to freshen up your landscaping. Trim bushes into eye pleasing shapes with rounded edges and give every plant in your garden enough room to shine while still being a part of the overall landscaping picture.

  1. Touch Up Paint

You most likely have a can of leftover paint in the garage or basement. Use this to touch up areas of your house that could use a fresh coat of paint. Consider items like the mailbox, house numbers, or plant pots that have seen a few years since their last painting. If your front door needs some help consider painting it to add a fresh look to your home.

  1. Power Wash It

You will be amazed by the amount of dirt a good power washing can lift from your home. Renting a power washer for a day is also a good and affordable way to add curb appeal to your home. Another affordable option is to consider borrowing one from a friend to save on expenses. Pay close attention to the outside of your home as well as gutters, patios, walkways, and patio furniture.

  1. Add Some Mulch

Picking up a few bags of mulch at a garden center is a great way to add instant curb appeal to your landscaping. Mulch not only looks great but it also provides essential help to plants by helping to retain water as well as keeping weeds at bay. Simply add a few inches of mulch around trees and garden beds to instantly raise the overall look of your home.

There are many ways that you can instantly increase your home’s curb appeal without breaking the bank. Consider ways that you can help your home for little to no cost. Doing any of the above tips things can help boost your home’s resale value.

Tori Fuller is a DIY enthusiast, taking any trash she can get her hands on and turning it into a luxury item to envy. When she doesn’t have her hands in a tin of paint you can find her perfecting her nature photography techniques.

What makes Markets Rise and Fall

In today’s real estate market, where inventory is sparse, homebuyers and sellers alike do well to understand the concept of home value appreciation.

Unlike the purchase of a car, that loses value (or depreciates) when you drive it off the lot, the value of your home may increase (or appreciate) over time. Appreciation is based on several factors – some within the homebuyer’s control, other factors…not so much.

Where is as important as what

You’ve heard it before, and we’ll say it again: Location, Location, Location. Where you purchase your home may be the most important (controllable) factor to appreciation.

If value appreciation is important to you, be sure to give thought to where – in the country, state, city, community, and neighborhood – you buy. According to Forbes, the southern half of the U.S. is the best place to invest in housing in 2017, whether you’re looking for your family home or a rental property.

Other things to consider when purchasing as it relates to location: Is the home close to major highways? Are good schools nearby? Is it conveniently located to entertainment and shopping? Is there a nice view?

Investing in a desirable area may contribute to equity in your home down the line and could mean more money in your pocket if you decide to sell.

Acreage accumulates

Another factor to consider is how much you buy. We’re talking land, though, not the physical structure of your home.  Why? It’s pretty simple: supply vs. demand. Land is a limited commodity; we’re not getting any more of it. As the world’s population increases, so does its need for land.

If your budget doesn’t allow for both a large, fabulous home and a considerable piece of land, you may wish to consider opting for a more conservative home and keep the land.

The upside of upkeep

Finally, take care of your home. If it breaks, fix it. If it’s outdated, upgrade it. While it may not be as large a factor as the location and land itself, having a well-maintained home with attractive details and modern-day features may increase the equity of your home (and help it sell faster when you’re ready!)

External affects

Giving thought to how your home will appreciate is the smart thing to do; however, the reality is that appreciation rates vary based on factors beyond the homebuyer’s control.

The economy (global, national and local) affects the real estate market, which affects what your home is worth at any given time. Again, it’s a matter of supply vs. demand.

In a nutshell: the more people can afford to buy houses, the greater the demand becomes for houses, making home values rise

Timing is almost everything

If you’re shopping for a home right now, you know it’s a seller’s market. In some areas, a home could be under contract within days, sometimes hours. This trend has had a positive impact on home values across the U.S.

As of May 2017, Zillow reports a national home value index of $199,200 – up .5% from April 2017 and 7.4% from 2016. Translation: Sellers have a good chance of getting the most ‘bang’ for their real estate ‘buck’ in the current environment.

If you’re in the market to sell, please give me a call to see what your home is currently worth. And if you’re the conscientious consumer, pay attention to national forecast to maximize your investment.  

Courtesy of Danielle Flynn, Movement blog contributor


Choosing paint finishes to highlight your home 

A new coat of paint can be just the trick to refresh your surroundings and give your home a whole new feel.

While there are probably a million different paint colors available, when you’re decorating the inside of your home, there are really only five “finishes” or sheens to choose from. Each has its own features, centered around two main traits: durability and ease of cleaning

High gloss: This paint is super easy to clean and shiny, reflecting light and opening up small spaces. It’s good for highlighting trim, railings, and architectural features or for “special” rooms like a formal dining room. The colors look deep and rich (great for dark and jewel tones!), but gloss shows every flaw on the painted surface. Often expensive to buy, high gloss may need primer, lots of sanding and many coats to look good.

Semi-gloss: Like high gloss, semi-gloss is long-lasting and washable. It stands up well to moisture, making this finish ideal for bathrooms, kitchens, and areas that frequently need to be cleaned. Satin: Satin is the most popular finish by far, good for light colors and large areas. This finish is pretty easy to clean with a damp cloth (although not actually scrubbable), so choose it for kids’ rooms, laundry rooms, and high-traffic areas. Caution: Brush or roller strokes will be visible if not put on smoothly and evenly.

Eggshell: This finish only has a bit of shine to it, meaning it covers up flaws pretty well. While somewhat stain resistant, eggshell is not very easy to clean and it can mark easily, so it’s not a good choice for areas where lots of kid activities take place; use it for bedrooms, hallways, and lower-traffic areas.

Flat or matte: This sheen has no shine at all, which means it absorbs light and hides flaws, making walls look smooth (even when they may not be), so it’s good for textured surfaces. Flat paint shows every scuff and fingerprint; cleaning the wall can actually remove or damage paint, so touch-ups are really the only way to cover marks and scuffs. Flat finishes are good for dining rooms, adult bedrooms, ceilings, and other areas that won’t get lots of fingerprints.

Exterior paint comes in mostly the same finishes as interior paint. As with the inside, lower-sheen flat and satin paints are better for walls, while semi- and high-gloss finishes are great for trim, shutters, and doors. The shinier paints should be applied in multiple thin layers for the best effect.

Be sure to check with your local paint store for more information on paints such as tinted primer, no-fade paint, stains, oils and acrylics, and other specialty paint features that can also enhance your painting project. No matter where in (or on) your home you’re ready for a new look, choosing the right paint is the best way to get started.


Home Staging Basics for Clients

1.  “US Housing and Urban Development states that on Average, a staged home will sell 17% higher than a comparable home that is not staged.
2.  HomeGain “National Home Improvement” survey results found that home staging has an average return on investment of 196%.
3.  A Real Estate Staging Association report found that if you invest in home staging before listing, you will sell 87% faster.
4. The National Association of Realtors states that if you invest 1-3% of the value of your home in staging, updates, and repairs, you could make/save 8-10%.
5. The Real Estate Staging Association conducted a study of 359 homes which were staged prior to listing.On average, the staged homes received their first offer in 26 days.  Almost 20% of these homes received Multiple offers.
From first impressions to possible layouts, home staging can provide potential buyers with a visual representation of the home and can help sell it faster and for a higher price. Staging showcases a home, making it easier for buyers to envision how they could ultimately embrace the space. These tips can help your clients understand what to expect during the staging process.
Staging is an investment
A thorough and professional staging effort can be the leading reason a property sells quickly, and in many cases, for over the asking price. If a property is styled and furnished in good taste it translates into competitive offers, increased demand and a higher sale price. A staged home also will show better than its competitive properties; more often than not, the cost of staging comes back to a seller many times over in the final sale price. Ultimately, the benefits of marketing a home that has been thoroughly styled and prepared for the broader buying audience outweighs the initial expenses and yields a far greater return.
Best represent the property
One major goal is to enhance the appeal of a home while maintaining its design integrity; that is, by editing and styling each room and dressing it up so that it appeals to the broadest market audience. While some homes are staged when they’re vacant, others are staged by de-cluttering and incorporating a carefully edited selection of the seller’s furnishings with the stager’s in a coordinated way to create a look that best represents the property.
Staging also makes each room feel less personal by removing older furniture and minimizing
clutter. For example, adding new bedding and accessories as well as accent pillows and flowers can perk up rooms with color and excitement. Shelves can be styled with books and interesting objects; and artwork can be displayed throughout the house.
Make a few easy improvements
Many homes may need a few quick upgrades before staging. These improvements could consist of painting walls in lighter colors, installing new carpeting, and upgrading lighting by adding uniform-colored bulbs. The seller might also consider resurfacing kitchen counters and replacing old appliances with new, stainless ones.
Use the space wisely
Thoughtful furniture installation and placement can give a buyer an understanding of how to use a space or how to best arrange their own furnishings. Staging and styling can also help “animate” a home by adding a fresh, light feeling.
It’s always good to remember that not all staging is created equal. While some sellers prefer to show an interior as if its lifted from the pages of a style magazine, while some might approach it from a more realistic  “lived in” perspective.
Staging offers sellers the opportunity to view their home from a different perspective.
Overall, staging goes beyond furniture placement and filling a house with inventory. For many sellers, staging is about creating style that inspires a buyer’s excitement as they visualize themselves emotionally and physically “at home” in the house. By looking at a home from the viewpoint of a buyer, the strengths of the home can be highlighted, and sellers can show buyers a home’s true potential without forcing them to use their imaginations.
Source: “Design Ideas from a Home Stager: For Selling a Home or Just Freshening It Up,” (April, 8, 2015)

6 Ways to Spruce Up a Home With Staging

Studies have suggested that staged homes sell faster, and as such, more sellers may be willing to give it a try.

So what are some staging ideas for sprucing up a property? Thomas Rouse, a design producer at “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” offered the following tips in a recent article in The Wall Street Journal.

1. Paint: A fresh coat of paint in a neutral palette can be an inexpensive upgrade with big impact.

2. Have furniture but don’t clutter: Don’t leave rooms empty because potential buyers may struggle to visualize what all you can do with the space. Also, Rouse suggests avoiding furniture with patterns, which can be distracting.

3. TV artwork: Mount a flat-screen TV to a wall and have a slideshow playing on it with images of nature, Rouse suggests.

4. Fill the walls: Don’t leave walls bare, which can make a home feel cold, according to Rouse. Hang photography, framed artwork, and mirrors to spice up the walls.

5. Flower displays: Have fresh-cut flowers in simple glass vases displayed on the dining room table and in other places in the home to bring more life to a space, Rouse says.

6. Gender-neutral bedrooms: Keep bedroom colors neutral and have simple bedding — preferably in white — to make a room feel fresh, Rouse says.

Source: “Set the Stage for a Faster Home Sale,” The Wall Street Journal (May 26, 2012)