Five Tips on How to Sell Your Home in a Competitive Market

Five Tips on How to Sell Your Home in a Competitive Market

What does it take to sell a home in a competitive market – a fresh coat of paint or a kitchen overhaul? Lowering the asking price or offering incentives?

What does it take to sell a home in a competitive market – a fresh coat of paint or a kitchen overhaul? Lowering the asking price or offering incentives? From cosmetic to strategic, smart sellers can take advantage of a few simple tips to get the most out of their properties. Here are five suggestions on how to help secure a “sold” sign:

Price Point is Paramount When getting ready to put a home on the market, determining the right listing price is the number one most important element in the home selling process. After you have carefully chosen an agent, the trust you have established will come into play immediately. Have those tough discussions with your agent about where to price your home. Make certain you understand how the agent has arrived at the price, including how previous sales and current homes on the market make an impact. If necessary, jump in the car with your agent and see some of the homes on the market in the area. This will provide first hand knowledge on homes that are available in your neighborhood.

Appeal to Your Audience Work with your agent to determine how to get your home to stand out. Providing incentives is a great way to draw in potential home buyers, and monetary bonuses don’t just have to come from negotiation of the listing price. Sellers can also choose to contribute to closing costs, or conduct pre-home inspections, which can comfort potential home buyers in knowing that the property is in top shape.

Leave a Great First Impression Everyone talks about curb appeal, but a first impression is truly lasting. Remember, your agent is your trusted advisor. They will know the necessary updates and upkeep you should make to get the home ready for showings. But some of this is fairly easy and the front door is particularly important. This is the area where a buyer will first step up to a home – and likely wait for a moment providing time to look around. Do this ahead of time, stand directly in the front door and look up and around at the home from all angles – cobwebs that have not been noticed in years could be the first thing greeting a potential home buyer, so it’s important for this area to give a great first impression.

Everything is in the Visual Don’t underestimate the power of visuals in marketing your home. The National Association of Realtors found that, more than 90 percent of home buyers begin their search online. Your agent may push hard for you to have the home prepared for vivid pictures and video of the property that can be posted on websites such as Coldwell Banker On Location

Hit the Right Note with all Five Senses When a buyer comes to look at a home they want the full experience. To help a home stand out, your agent may ask you to focus on appealing to all five senses. Small and inexpensive upgrades to the home such as getting the walls painted, de-cluttering and making minor improvements to the outdoor landscape. In terms of “touch,” remember that buyers aren’t just going to look – they’ll be turning on your faucets and opening closets, so make sure closets are clean and organized. When it comes to making a home smell good, many agents prefer the smell of baked goods rather than fresh flowers or air fresheners which can be overwhelming. All of this is being done to allow the buyer to properly visualize living in the home.

3 Important Tips for Welcoming Home Your Newly Adopted Dog

3 Important Tips for Welcoming Home Your Newly Adopted Dog

Bringing home your newly adopted dog is always an adjustment for everyone involved. Here are 3 important tips to welcome your new family member.

Bringing home your newly adopted dog is always an adjustment for everyone involved. It’s exciting and it’s only normal for you to have concerns about your new pet’s transition into life at home. Here are 3 important tips to help you welcome your new family member into your home.

 1. Do Your Research

Prior to your new dog arriving at your home, plan out how you will train your pet and make sure all of your family members are on the same page. Providing positive reinforcement techniques is a great way to help your dog learn.

Do your research on the various food options for your new dog and how many times a day he or she should eat. Having these decisions made in advance will help make the transition easier on everyone involved.

2. Show Compassion

Your newly adopted dog may display signs of anxiety in the first few days or weeks of being at your home. It may be hard for you to experience, because you’ll be so excited about your new furry family member and wonder if the feeling isn’t mutual. Don’t worry–this adjustment period is totally normal and only temporary! Speak in a gentle, soothing voice to your dog and make sure to show lots of love. Once your pet understands you are there to love and protect, he’ll feel much more comfortable and start to see how great his new home (and family) really is!

3. Health First

Soon after adopting your dog, take a trip to the vet’s office and have your new buddy examined. Bringing along any past medical records for the doctor to look at is always helpful. Your doctor will perform a full examination and give your dog the necessary shots he needs.

 

Ready to adopt right now? Visit Adopt-a-Pet.com to find a lovable critter in your area who is looking for a home like yours!

What Buying a House Can Do for You:

What Buying a House Can Do for You: Investment Opportunity and Financial Security

Buying a home can be a great way to build wealth and protect your assets. Learn how home ownership can be a great investment decision for your financial security.

Some people may think of buying a home as a stressful experience that comes with an enormous commitment that can burden you for years. However, buying a home can be a great way to build wealth and protect your assets. Learn how homeownership can be a great investment decision that bolsters your financial security.

A Net Worth Boost

Research shows that on average, homeowners’ net worth is far higher than that of a renters’ net worth by up to 36%. And this wealth gap keeps widening every year. One explanation for this gap is the concept of forced savings. This is a situation where a person is essentially forced to save a certain amount of money every month for a significant expense, such as a house or a car.

Paying for a mortgage is a great example of forced savings. Paying for your mortgage month after month forces you to save a portion of your income to help pay off your property, which works towards increasing your home equity and net worth. Renters, on the other hand, increase the net worth of their landlords without building equity or assets.

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Tax Benefits of Homeownership

Buying a house shouldn’t be considered fully as an expense. Homeowners enjoy a variety of tax breaks that you might not know about. Here are some of the tax breaks homeowners may qualify for:

Mortgage Interest Deductions

The monthly mortgage you must pay when you buy a house is split into two parts: one portion goes towards the actual principal amount, and the other portion pays off your interest on the mortgage. In some cases, the mortgage interest on your main and second residence is tax deductible.

To claim the mortgage interest, you must itemize your deductions on a Form 1040 Schedule A, unless you just want to just claim the standard deductions. You should get a 1098 Form from your mortgage lender at the beginning of every year showing the total amount you paid as interest for the previous year that you can claim for tax returns.

Property Taxes

City or state real estate taxes that you pay on your house may be filed as a deductible while itemizing the deductions on a Form 1040 Schedule A.

Mortgage Points

There are two types of mortgage points, and each point represents 1% of your total mortgage. Origination points, which is a fee that you pay to the borrower to compensate for their work that goes into processing a loan, are non-deductible. Discount points, which allow you to get discounted interest rates on your mortgage, are tax deductible.

Some of the interest that you pay on home equity loans are also deductible, along with interest on home improvement loan, and qualified moving expenses.

Using the Power of Leverage for Investing

One advantage of buying property for the purpose of investing is that you can borrow funds to make the purchase, as opposed to other investment opportunities such as stocks and bonds. Another advantage is that when inflation hits and prices increase, sometimes your house value will increase as well. If you borrow with a fixed rate mortgage, you will still be paying the future monthly payments with a currency that’s depreciated in value. As years go by, the equity on your property will increase, and once the principal amount is all paid off, you will have a debt-free asset that will continue to appreciate, depending on market conditions.

Compared to stacking up cash savings in your bank account and watching it lose value to inflation, investing in a property can secure your money in the long-term and act as a hedge against dollar debasement. Whether for diversification of your investment portfolio, or to secure a property where you and your family can grow and build memories, buying a home can be a timeless investment vehicle.

Home Renovations & Features for the 2017 Smart Home

Home Renovations & Features for the 2017 Smart Home

Discover the hottest new trends in smart home technology, from voice control to security, to temperature control to lighting and even safety measures like door locks!

Is your home a smart home? If you’re like most U.S. homeowners, the answer is probably yes, or it will be soon. What were once seen only as gimmicks reserved for the tech-savvy homeowners have quickly become the norm. We conducted a survey and  found that almost half (45%) of Americans own some sort of smart home technology. More surprisingly, 36% of that group don’t consider themselves to be early adopters of technology.

Whether you’re shopping for a first home, looking to sell your home, or planning home renovations to add value to your house, smart home technology should be at the top of your must-haves list. 54% of homeowners said they would install smart home products if they were selling their home and knew that doing so would make it sell faster. In fact, about 33% of agents said homes with smart features sell faster.

What Makes a Smart Home Smart?

So, which smart features and home renovations should homeowners and home buyers be most interested in next year? Our survey found the top “smart” features were:

  • Voice Control
  • Security
  • Temperature
  • Lighting
  • Safety

Most Americans (60%) agree that a home needs to have at least three of these features to be considered “smart.”

Voice Control

One of the fastest-growing smart home features in the last year is voice control. The list of products that operate with voice control features is growing by the day, from music players to TVs to even security products, lighting, and shopping.

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Security

Most Americans think a home can be considered “smart” when it has smart security locks and alarm systems. Security features lead the way for smart features in terms of adoption and appeal. Even though 58% of home buyers say smart security is the most appealing type of pre-installed smart home technology, only 31% have smart security installed.

Temperature control

Smart temperature control is more widely adopted with homeowners over the age of 65 – about 40% have smart temperature products, while only 25% of 18-34 year olds have the technology installed. The favorite features of smart temperature controls are:

  • Improving the comfort of the household (71%)
  • Reducing energy consumption (68%)
  • Monitoring or controlling their device while away from home (41%)

Safety

The safety of the household should be a top priority for any homeowner. Smart technology offers new features for fire and carbon monoxide detectors, nightlights, and other renovations to make your house safer. Homeowners look for safety features that allow them to monitor and control the safety of their home either when they are away (52%), or from anywhere inside the home (30%).

The leader in smart thermostats, Nest, has also released a smart Smoke and CO Alarm, Nest Protect. One feature of this device that is quickly becoming the norm for smart technology is interconnectivity. If your Nest Protect detects smoke or carbon monoxide, it will tell your Nest Thermostat to turn off the furnace automatically.

Lighting

For homeowners looking to improve comfort with the ability to make easy changes in the mood of their home – while reducing energy consumption – smart lighting is just the thing. Many new smart technologies emerged this year for a smarter lighting experience:

  • C by GE uses Bluetooth connectivity so you can personalize your light temperature settings throughout the day. This allows your lighting to sync with your body’s circadian rhythm and improve your sleep cycle.
  • FlipFlic is a device installed on window blinds that automatically adjusts the blinds based on light, temperature and time of day. Natural lighting can play a major part in your home’s mood and vibe and this device gives you more control over it.

Our study also found that 70% of homeowners say they plan to invest more money in smart home renovations and features in the future. This new home trend is rapidly increasing and offering homeowners new ways to improve their own standard of living while raising the value of their homes.

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Who is the Most Visited Real Estate Brand Online?

Who is the Most Visited Real Estate Brand Online?

Hint: It starts out “Cold” but heats up with “well Banker”

According to the 2016 National Association of Realtors Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, the average home buyers visits at least 7 different websites to look for a home. That’s a lot of browsing and if you’re selling your home it’s not enough to just have your home featured on 100+ different real estate sites. You want to make sure your real estate agent has them posted on the sites that get seen.

Coldwell Banker® is the most visited national real estate brand online according to 2016 comScore analytics. So what does that mean for you as a seller? It means more home buyers are interacting with the Coldwell Banker brand online than any other company, which in turn can lead to more qualified buyers for your property and greater exposure.

From Tuscaloosa to Trenton, Boise to Bentonville, and all the Greenvilles in between, today’s home buyers are visiting Coldwell Banker sites more than any other national real estate brand.

If your real estate agent is still promoting how they can feature your home in the local paper, why not consider the real estate company with real advantages who can reach today’s buyers online in greater numbers than anyone else?

10 Things to Look for in a House if You Have Children

10 Things to Look for in a House if You Have Children

Your life at home with children will be easier if your house has some version of these features.

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Houzz Contributor, Laura Gaskill

If you have kids (or are planning to) and you’re shopping for a house, your what-to-look-for checklist is probably already a mile long. To avoid getting swamped by the home buying process, focus on what you really want from your home. Beyond the basics of location, price, condition and school district, what would really make a home a great fit for your family? Consider adding these 10 items to your home buying wish list — and then share your own ideas in the Comments.

1. Entry storage. From the strollers and car seats of the baby stage to the sports gear and backpacks of the older years, a never-ending parade of stuff comes with having children in the house — and the more places you have to put this stuff when you walk in the door, the better! Look for a house with built-in entry storage, from closets and cabinets to cubbies and shelves. Having an entry out of view of the rest of the house is ideal, so you can enjoy your home without staring at the gear in the entryway all the time.

2. Convenient laundry. A laundry in the basement may not be the first thing you notice at an open house, but if you have young children, you might want to give the laundry zone a little more thought. Having the washer and dryer on the main level — in a mudroom or off the kitchen, for instance — comes in incredibly handy when you’re wrangling small children who go through more wardrobe changes in one day than Lady Gaga. A laundry near upstairs bedrooms is another good option, since this will likely mean a lot less schlepping of heavy baskets up and down the stairs.

3. Stairs that can be safely gated. Speaking of stairs, if you are looking at homes with more than one level, pay attention to the stairs and railings. Look for stairs that can be gated easily at the top and bottom, and sturdy railings without any wide gaps. Airy, open staircases may look beautiful, but if you can’t easily block them, life with a little one will be very stressful.

4. Ditto for the kitchen. While being able to see what’s going on in the living room while you chop veggies for dinner is a definite plus, it still pays to consider how you can gate off the cooking area to keep curious little hands out. Door openings that are larger than standard size may require custom (read: costlier) solutions. Of course, you may decide you don’t need to separate this area … but it never hurts to think about it before you buy.

5. Built-in storage. Built-in storage means more places to neatly stash your family’s stuff, without worrying about anchoring tall, topple-prone pieces of furniture to the wall. Ideally, look for built-in shelving in the living room or family room with open shelves above and closed cabinets below.

6. Kid-friendly bathroom. We’re not talking about a themed bathroom here, but a functional space that will work well for your family. Look for a bathroom with a tub and plenty of room to maneuver — you may be spending a remarkable number of hours perched on a stool beside that tub, so comfort and spaciousness count! Other details to look for include a bathroom mirror that comes down close to the sink (so little ones can actually see themselves), and storage space for bath toys and extra towels, and if you have a large family, multiple faucets are a big plus.

7. Bonus space. When you have kids, extra space is always a good thing. Look for an area of the home that has the potential to be used in a number of different ways, from playroom to home office to nursery for a future sibling. If the space (attic, basement) is not finished, find out what it would take to make this area usable in the future.

8. Fenced yard. Even a small yard can offer big possibilities to a child, from building play forts to digging in the dirt. For your own peace of mind, look for a backyard that is fully, securely fenced, so you can let creative play happen without worrying your little explorer will go toddling off toward the street.

9. A view of the outdoors. Being able to take care of a little chore inside and still have a view of your child playing can be a huge help. A bonus benefit of having a good view of your outdoor space — whether through generous windows, sliding glass doors or French doors — is that it will encourage you and your family to actually use it!

10. Master suite. As a parent, having a space to call your own is so important. Sure, you may end up sharing the space with a toddler who had bad dreams or a random pile of Lego bricks more often than you would like, but knowing that this space is officially yours is worth it. Look for a master bedroom with its own private bathroom and a spacious closet. French doors leading to your own private balcony or patio? Major bonus.

Installing a Pool? The Ultimate Homeowner’s Checklist

Installing a Pool? The Ultimate Homeowner’s Checklist

The decision to install an in-ground pool should never be taken lightly. Take the time to review this checklist before calling up the nearest pool installer.

The decision to install an in-ground pool should never be taken lightly. While this iconic amenity adds a level of beauty and recreation to the property, it also imparts significant real estate considerations. Without careful forethought and planning, unexpected roadblocks may put the pool to a grinding halt. Take the time to review this checklist before calling up the nearest pool installer.

 

Local Laws, Permits, and Municipal Codes

Check with the local jurisdiction to find out what is required. The pool contractor should be well-versed in the codes, permits, and fees necessary to begin. However, the responsibility lies with the homeowner. Some areas have restrictions on size and type of pool, setback, and safety features.

 

Homeowner’s Association Restrictions

Some homeowner’s associations may forbid the installation of pools altogether, while others have specific restrictions. They may prohibit excessively large pools or require additional safety measures not required by the city. Consult with them prior to investing in a pool or they may put a stop to it.

 

Utility Easements

Known easement issues should be dealt with prior to installing a pool. Utility service easements and other access issues can make the prime location of the pool far less inviting. Natural obstructions such as sinkholes, rocky terrain, and trees can increase the difficulty further.

 

Space Requirements

A pool will also take up more area than most people are expecting. Account for plenty of excess space for ease of movement, garden area, and play areas for children. Have a contractor assist in plotting out the available space, and making note of any questionable areas.

 

Property Taxes Versus Property Value

Typically, expect a new pool installation to qualify as new construction on the property. This will subject it to higher property taxes, which will vary based on locale. However, the amount of the investment is not often reflected by an equivalent increase in property values. Consider a new pool an indulgence rather than an investment.

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Climate and Neighborhood

Warmer climates are perfect locations for pools; so much so that they are essential property features, not luxuries. Even homes close to coastal regions still require pools, to maintain the health of the real estate market and to sell quickly. Homes in colder climates are more likely to add a pool as a novelty, only available for use in the warmer spring and summer months. Likewise, take a look at the other homes in the neighborhood, for indications on how desirable a pool is, and what styles are preferred in this market.

 

Patio, Landscaping, and Amenities

Consider how the in-ground pool fits in with current and future outdoor amenities. A patio is a natural pairing, but proper landscaping will prevent the pool from looking staggeringly out of place. Lighting, fire pits, and cooking areas can all be incorporated into a comprehensive outdoor entertainment area, increasing property values and market desirability.

 

Financing with Home Equity, Second Mortgage, or Unsecured Loan

Choosing the right financing should be done prior to putting a deposit down with a pool contractor. A qualified lender can explain the available options and assist in deciding what is best at the time. Many people turn to home equity loans immediately, but they are not always available on a newer home purchase or during a slow market. A second mortgage is another popular choice, but may not be a sound investment if a quick sale is expected. Unsecured loans are less popular, but are good when a large deposit is already available.

 

Resale Value and Attractiveness to the Market

A new pool is no guarantee of increased property values. In unfavorable markets, some buyers may not desire an in-ground pool at all, and it may end up buried in the future. Proper research will indicate what kind of market the property is located in. Often, a pool remains a luxury investment that is not easily recouped in the future.

 

The decision to install a pool is complex, but need not be overwhelming. By covering these areas prior to beginning, it will be easy to determine if a pool will be a reality or a pipe dream.

Who is the Only Real Estate Brand with Smart Home Specialists?

Who is the Only Real Estate Brand with Smart Home Specialists?

Hint: It’s also the real estate brand that helped define a smart home.

Smart homes aren’t the future of real estate. They’re the present. So why aren’t more real estate brands, companies, offices and agents doing more about understanding how smart homes are shaping today’s buyers, homes for sale and even home prices?

Simple answer? They aren’t Coldwell Banker.

We’re not new to the smart home game. We’ve actually helped determine the rules. Coldwell Banker has worked with technology site, CNET, to define what a smart home is so that everyone with a programmable thermostat doesn’t promote their house as a smart home. We’ve helped shape the smart home marketplace at the Consumer Electronics Show to make sure our agents and their customers know about smart home trends and how they can potentially impact the price of their homes for sale. We’ve done research. We’ve created a smart home staging kit. We’re also the only real estate brand to have smart home certified agents and listings.

When it comes to smart home, you could say that Coldwell Banker is pretty smart. To find a smart home near you or contact one of our smart home certified agents, visit coldwellbanker.com/smarthome.

Do you know which real estate brand helped find homes for over 20,000 dogs?

Do you know which real estate brand helped find homes for over 20,000 dogs?

How about now?

What does the international real estate brand Coldwell Banker and the pet adoption website Adopt-a-Pet.com have in common? One word: home. The calling of Coldwell Banker agents is to help people find a place to call home, which with one small word change–“people” to “pets”–is the same mission of Adopt-a-Pet.com.

The two companies first partnered together in 2015 on the Coldwell Banker Homes for Dogs Project to help 20,000 adoptable dogs find loving homes. The goal of 20,000 adoptions was achieved in 9 months and the Project has since grown even wider thanks to the help of Coldwell Banker offices across North America working with local shelters to host adoption events and bring awareness to this cause.  To that effect, a National Pet Adoption Weekend will be held September 9-10 to unite even more animals with a forever (fur-ever?) home.

The initiative was originally inspired by the welcome home dance any pet parent gets when they walk in the door after a long day. Coldwell Banker captured this magical micro-moment in our ad campaign titled “Home’s Best Friend.” That story then evolved to feature lovable pups doing funny things in our 2016 campaign, “This is Home. This is Awesomeness.” And this year, in 2017, the current Coldwell Banker ad campaign “Somebody to Love,” shines a light on the Homes for Dogs Project and the landmark number of homes and dogs connected through the program.

At Coldwell Banker, we know that a home is made up of all of the things we love, including our furry friends. To learn more about the Homes for Dogs project, visit coldwellbanker.com/homesfordogs. And if your home is missing a little “Somebody to Love,” visit adopt-a-pet.com to find an adoptable pet in your area.

What to Consider Before Buying a Beach Home

What to Consider Before Buying a Beach Home

Sea, surf and sand. Consider more than just those elements before buying a beach home.

Dreaming of a home on the beach? The rhythmic sound of crashing waves, a sweet, salty breeze, and bright sunny days make living by the shore an appealing spot to call home. In fact, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), 16% of all homes bought nationwide last year were vacation homes. Of those, 40% bought in beach communities.

But, before you consider making your home along the coast, there are a few things to keep in mind. From location to amenities and of course, budget, there’s a lot to think about when buying a vacation home at the beach. Jessica Edwards with Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage in Wilmington, NC shares her tips for what to consider before buying a beach home in this segment which first appeared on NBC Open House.

If you’re ready to pack up and head to the beach, visit coldwellbanker.com to find your escape.