Heart of the Home Moves Outside

Blog, Design Tips, Selling   |   Dunham Stewart
Many of us take pride in our homes, investing countless hours rearranging and remodeling the interior. But it can also be refreshing to step out of the confines of the inside and spend some time outside. As millions of Americans ready their outdoor space for summer season, a new study reveals just how enamored U.S. homeowners are with their backyards. Eighty-three percent of homeowners across the country say their outdoor living space is the favorite place in their home. And it is the most used space in American households just behind the kitchen, and way ahead of the game room, living room and dining room. According to Saber’s “Outdoor Living 2014″ survey, approximately 81 percent of respondents called their outdoor space “the heart of the home.”

As your clients are prepping their homes for the summer selling season, they may want to keep outdoor space in mind. The outdoor space s a major factor in today’s home buyers decision and they are very engaged in making it comfortable. Turning a yard, patio, porch or other outdoor area into a functional living space can be a rewarding task, and will expand your living space to the outdoors. Americans view their backyard as both a Zen spot and an entertainment zone and the space is outfitted accordingly with a grill, shade, chairs & dining sets and access to wi-fi. Universally, on the top of our wish list for our outdoor space is a pool or hot tub. Home seller should consider how this group and lead the way in defining how an outdoor space can be used and decorated. With the right setup, you can spend more time in the sunshine and fresh air, and host events al fresco for friends, family

What Luxury Consumers Want

Blog, Real Estate Tips, Selling   |   Dunham Stewart
The luxury home buyer is an important contingent of today’s real estate market, as luxury homes tend to drive trends throughout the entire balance of the marketplace. The luxury consumer is considered a trendsetter in most industries, and to see the strong connection this consumer has with ‘home’ is very significant as we look at the real estate market as a whole

Luxury home owners and buyers place a high value on real estate, according to a new survey of 500 luxury home buyers.

In fact, the survey finds that 75 percent of luxury home buyers believe home ownership is a sounder investment than the stock market. What’s more, 57 percent of luxury home owners say home ownership is a bigger indicator of success than their job or title. The luxury home buyer has high standards and invests the money and time, to making their home fit their needs and reflect who they are. It’s remarkable that they do this so well that nearly all — 93 percent — believe their house is the best one on their block.

The survey revealed some of the following insights into the luxury home buyer and owner:

  • They desire multiple homes: Fifty-three percent say they prefer owning multiple “lifestyle” homes to support their lifestyle activities, such as skiing or attending the theatre. Fifty-eight percent of the luxury home buyers surveyed say they already owned multiple homes to support their lifestyle activities.
  • They’re willing to sacrifice square footage for luxurious amenities: Sixty-percent of luxury home buyers surveyed said they would rather have as many upgrades as they can afford in their home rather than greater square footage. Ninety-four percent of those surveyed would be willing to give up 1,000 square feet of living space in their next home in order to get the amenities they most desire, such as living in a better neighborhood, living in a house with “character,” more land, access to dining and entertainment, and a shorter commute.
  • They want a high-tech home. Sixty-six percent expressed a stronger desire for having a “smart” home than a “green” home. Eighty-seven percent said they would not even consider purchasing a home that wasn’t tech-friendly.
  • They also value their outdoor spaces. Luxury homebuyers also placed a high value on outdoor amenities as must-have essentials in a home. For example, they expressed a big interest in having a garden oasis, outdoor fireplace or firepit, and a separate guest house outside of the main home.

Forty percent of luxury buyers say the biggest challenge in searching for a high-end luxury home is to find a property that meets their family’s needs; 20 percent say it’s limited number of properties offered. What’s prompted their search for a luxury home? The survey found that 19 percent of luxury home shoppers say a recent success in their career has prompted their home search, while 17 percent say they entered the market because they’re newly retired

Luxury Real Estate is on the Rise

Blog, Market Updates, Real Estate Tips, Selling   |   Dunham Stewart
With more millionaires and billionaires in the world than ever before, pent-up demand and increasing consumer confidence, luxury real estate sales have been surging around the world. Luxury properties are once again one of the hottest real estate market trends, as London, New York and Los Angeles report a burgeoning luxury housing market. According to Spectrem’s Millionaire Corner Affluent Market Insights report for 2014, the number of Millionaire households in the U.S. has reached a record of over 9 million. There are 132,000 households with a net worth over $25 million.

Christies International Real Estate released its second annual Luxury Residential Property Market report, looking at the market in 10 of the world’s major markets – Cote d’Azur, Hong Kong, London, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Paris, San Francisco, Sydney and Toronto. Those markets were compared against each other in terms of sales price, prices per square foot, percentage of non-local and international buyers, and the number of luxury listings per population.

London was rated No. 1 based on its top sale of a property for $101.5 million, and it also had the top per square foot sales average of $4,683. New York and Los Angeles were second and third, respectively, with a significant growth in luxury sales volume. Here in Los Angeles, the mega mansion Fleur de Lys just sold for more than any other house in Los Angeles County ever: $102 million. In an all-cash sale

Top 5 Tips For First Time Home Sellers

Blog, Real Estate Tips, Selling   |   Dunham Stewart
What are my Top 5 Tips for First Time Home Sellers?

1. Remember that the outside is just as important and in some ways more important than the inside. The outside is the first impression and sets the tone for the property tour inside.

2. Be prepared to spend some money on repairs.  You will be expected to address some items needing repairs. In some cases,  a little money can go a long way.

3. Know the number and know your bottom line.  Make sure you know what your mortgage payoff really is and what your closing costs will be.  You also want to make sure you know your numbers if you are going to be buying as well.  If you are selling and buying something else you need to meet with a lender on the purchase before you sell your home because it will effect your negotiating ability.

5. Be prepared for showings.  Make some preparations and plan ahead of time for last minute showings and certain days of the week.  Maybe let you spouse be in charge of some days and you the others if you both work or be sure to enlist the help of a stay at home mom or friend if you need pets removed during showings and you can’t always get home.  A little preparation and planning on the front end will make a world of difference in getting those buyers in your home.  And after all we have to get them in to get it sold!

Should You Sell Your House Now

Blog, Real Estate Tips, Selling   |   Dunham Stewart
Fueling this seller’s market are several factors that have unexpectedly converged: For-sale listings are limited, which is pushing prices up at the same time that mortgage rates are rising. That’s created a sense of urgency among buyers, many of whom fear that the door to affordable real estate in their market may be closing.Many sellers are still hesitant about putting their house up for sale. Where are prices headed? Where are interest rates headed? Can buyers qualify for a mortgage? These are all valid questions. However, there are several reasons to sell your home sooner rather than later. Here are five of those reasons.

1. The Most Serious Buyers Are Out Now

Most people realize that the housing market is hottest from April through June. The most serious buyers are well aware of this and, for that reason, come out in early spring in order to beat the heavy competition. These buyers are readywilling and able to buy…and are in the market right now!

2. There Is Less Competition Now

Housing supply always grows from the spring through the early summer. The choices buyers have will continue to increase over the next few months. Don’t wait until all the other potential sellers in your market put their homes up for sale.

3. The Process Will Be Quicker

One of the biggest challenges of the 2014 housing market has been the length of time it takes from contract to closing. Banks are requiring more and more paperwork before approving a mortgage. As the market heats up, banks will be inundated with loan inquiries causing closing timelines to lengthen. Selling now will make the process quicker and simpler.

4. There Will Never Be a Better Time to Move-UpIf you are moving up to a larger, more expensive home, consider doing it now. Prices are projected to appreciate by over 19% from now to 2018. If you are moving to a higher priced home, it will wind-up costing you more in raw dollars (both in down payment and mortgage payment) if you wait. You can also lock-in your 30 year housing expense with an interest rate at about 4.5% right now. Rates are projected to be well over 5% by this time next year.

5. It’s Time to Move On with Your Life

Look at the reason you decided to sell in the first place and decide whether it is worth waiting. Is money more important than being with family? Is money more important than your health? Is money more important than having the freedom to go on with your life the way you think you should?

You already know the answers to the questions we just asked. You have the power to take back control of the situation by pricing your home to guarantee it sells. The time has come for you and your family to move on and start living the life you desire.

That is what is truly important.

Home Sales Not So Distressed

Blog, Real Estate Tips, Selling   |   Dunham Stewart
Vastly improved home prices over the past five years have changed the landscape of California’s distressed housing market, which is now just a fraction of what it was during the Great Recession, the California Association of Realtors said today. The number of short sales and bank-sold homes is down. Way down. The numbers have dropped from 69.5 percent of all homes sold in 2009 to 15.6 percent today. During the same time period, California’s median home price has soared more than 64 percent. Significant home price appreciation over the past five years has lifted the market value of many underwater homes, and as a result, many homeowners have gained significant equity in their homes, resulting in fewer short sales and foreclosures. The statewide share of equity sales hit a high of 86.4 percent in November 2013 and has been above 80 percent for the past seven months.

Home Sellers Saying no to FSBO in Recovery

Blog, Real Estate Tips, Selling   |   Dunham Stewart
Even though prices have risen as much as 12 percent this year, more than any year since the end of the boom in 2007, sellers are not trying to sell their homes without the help of a real estate professional. Historically, for-sale-by-owner transactions accounted for between 15 to 20 percent of the market.

In 2008, as the last boom ended, “for sale by owner” transactions reached 13 percent of all sales as sellers sought to avoid the expense of paying a commission to a brokerage. As prices and sales plummeted, so did FSBOs, falling to 9 percent in 2010. The figure tends to go up when the market is hot because it’s easier for sellers to go it alone, and that number declines during a down market because there’s a glut of unsold properties. However, FSBOs haven’t budged from that level in 2013 despite the strongest prices, tightest inventories and healthiest demand if five years. One-third of those FSBO sellers probably would not have needed a professional to market their homes since they knew the buyer prior to the home purchase, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Also, many of today’s FSBOS didn’t do much to market their homes. One-third of FSBO sellers took no action to market their home, and 60 percent did not offer any incentives to attract buyers. But homeowners who sell their property on their own may not always be able to tap the pool of buyers that an agent can in the open market, which could reduce the range of offers. And the process of selling a home can be painstaking and confusing, potentially more trouble than it’s worth. FSBO homes in 2013 sold for over 16% less than agent-assisted home sales.

The Delicate Balance Between Home Buyers and Home Sellers

Blog, Buying, Real Estate Tips, Selling   |   Dunham Stewart
Here is some advice I have been consulting clients with since the end of 2nd quarter: Year end is the best time sell, and 2013 year end maybe the best window of opportunity for some time to come. With serious buyers in the market, home sellers need to seize the opportunities. Here are 5 reasons:

1. THERE IS FAR LESS COMPETITION:  Supplies are seasonally low. Sellers who wait for the spring are guaranteed to have far greater competition. Consider if you have the best house in the neighborhood, it may not matter when you put your house on the market. For the 99.9% rest of us, sellers must consider buyers have many more choices in the Spring.

2. SERIOUS BUYERS ARE IN THE MARKET.  Fall and Winter are not typically inviting times to visit homes as a Sunday past time. As good as Spring and Summer are with shear numbers of buyers, winter (year-end) offers a greater percentage of ready to purchase buyers. Sellers now is the time get your home ready to meet action takers.

3. THERE WILL NEVER BE A BETTER TIME. In most markets, home values have spiked. Through the first half of 2013, prices have recovered, the declines suffered since 2007. Additionally, interest rates have remained at historical lows and all indications are there is only one way to go from here… up.

4. FINANCING WILL BE QUICKER. There is money to lend and the industry is “healthy” and competitive. Lenders have embraced technology and have streamlined the process. Most qualified lending institutions can get a loan approved within 21 days. Spring and Summer and especially the first half of 2013, lenders were inundated with both purchase and refinancing loan requests. Both of these have now slowed in the winter facilitating the shorter timelines.

5. IT’S TIME TO MOVE ON WITH YOUR LIFE. Examine the reasons you are considering selling and decide whether it is worth waiting. You have the power to take back control of the selling process. Competitive financing and year-end closings are potent buyer triggers.

Why You Should Sell Your House Now

Blog, Real Estate Tips, Selling   |   Dunham Stewart
Many now realize that it is a great time to buy a home. It might also be an opportune time to sell your house. Here are the five reasons we believe now may be a perfect time to put your house on the market.

1. Demand Is High The most recent Existing Home Sales Reports by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) show a double digit percent increase in sales year-over year; sales have remained above last year’s levels for over 25 months. There are buyers out there right now and they are serious about purchasing.

2. Supply Is Beginning to Increase Total housing inventory is again approaching historic norms of a 5 month supply compared with 4.3 months in January. Many expect inventory to continue to rise as 3.2 million homeowners escaped the shackles of negative equity in the last 12 months and an additional 1.9 million are expected to enter positive equity in the next 12 months. Selling now while demand is high and before supply increases may garner you your best price.

3. New Construction Is Coming Back Over the last several years, most homeowners selling their home did not have to compete with a new construction project around the block.  As the market is recovering, more and more builders are jumping back in.  These ‘shiny’ new homes will again become competition as they are an attractive alternative for many purchasers.

4. Interest Rates Will Again Rise Although Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey shows that interest rates for a 30-year mortgage have softened recently, most experts predict that they will begin to rise later this year.  The Mortgage Bankers Association, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the National Association of Realtors are in unison projecting that rates will be up almost a full percentage point by this time next year. Whether you are moving up or moving down, your housing expense will be more a year from now if a mortgage is necessary to purchase your next home.

5. It’s Time to Move On with Your Life Look at the reason you are thinking about selling and decide whether it is worth waiting.  Is the possibility of a few extra dollars more important than being with family; more important than your health; more important than having the freedom to go on with your life the way you think you should?

Forclosures Discounts Going, Going Gone

Blog, Real Estate Tips, Selling   |   Dunham Stewart
Two years ago, foreclosures regularly sold for 30 percent or more below the price of “normal” homes. How times have change! Now the foreclosure discount is less than half that amount and still headed south. The discounts investors receive for buying homes that have languished in default, are what attracted most investors to real estate in the first place. Foreclosure discounts, however, were also widely blamed-fairly or unfairly–for lowering home values when appraisers mixed them in with other comparable properties when valuing a home. This practice was so controversial that it contributed to a two-year long, highly charged re-do of appraisal guidelines and today appraisers are discouraged from using foreclosures as comps. As the discount has declined, the problem with appraisals is disappearing but investors are facing some tough decisions. The latest data, from the National Association of Realtors Realtor Confidence Index survey of 3400 plus Realtors suggests that for REOs the discount has fallen to 16 percent average discount to market, while short sales are selling at a 13 percent average discount. For properties in average or better condition, the discount is now only 11 percent. The demise of the foreclosure discount may become a major factor in changing the nature of residential real estate investing. Despite the entry of big investors into real estate, small “mom and pops” still account for the vast majority of foreclosure sales. They are the ones who were attracted to residential real estate investing in the first place by discounts and without them, they will have a more difficult time achieving a return on investment better than they can get elsewhere.
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