Real Estate Information Archive

Blog

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 10

Homeowners Insurance: Things to Consider

by Bill Nelson - Broker

Anyone who owns a home knows that homeowners insurance is essential. It’s coverage you need to have in the event your home suffers significant damage. But understanding just what your insurance covers is not as simple as it sounds, and reviewing your coverage regularly is a prudent idea.

Are you covered for floods? Fires? Earthquakes? All three? Does your policy provide guaranteed replacement cost—which, for obvious reasons, since houses appreciate in value, may be almost prohibitively expensive? And what about exclusions? Many homeowners aren’t sure exactly what their coverage will pay for.

Financial advisors at consumer resource The Motley Fool suggest asking yourself three pointed questions when purchasing or renewing homeowners insurance:

  1. What does it cost to build in your area? There’s no way to price disaster insurance effectively without knowing what it would cost to rebuild your home. You need to know the per-square-foot average construction cost for your zip code—a number you should be able to get from a reputable insurance agent—then multiply that by the total area of your home to get the replacement cost. Insure for that amount, and then recheck the pricing regularly.
  2. What risks does your home face? Exclusions and riders are common for homeowners insurance. In Colorado, for example, policies frequently exclude damage from mold, since mold doesn’t thrive in the state’s dry climate. Other common exclusions apply to older homes, where outdated plumbing or fixtures may lead to greater risks. Be sure you understand exactly what risks your insurer will be covering.
  3. What’s my back-up fund like? The best way to save money on a homeowners policy is by taking on a higher deductible. But the higher your deductible, the less likely you will be to put in a claim for any lesser damages that may occur. You will need to have an emergency fund large enough to cover the gap in the event you ever need to.

Interested in housing and real estate tips? Feel free to contact me directly.

How Not to Sell Your Home

by Bill Nelson - Broker



While the fundamentals of home staging, like de cluttering, and removing family photos, are critical when it comes to getting your home sold, it’s just as important to focus on what not to do as certain factors can act as immediate deal breakers to would-be buyers. Make sure your for-sale home doesn’t include any of the following turn-offs:

Odors. Whether it’s pet odors, last night’s stir fry or that musty basement, any type of strong odor can be an immediate deterrent to a buyer, no matter how beautifully your home is decorated or staged. We usually get accustomed to our home’s unique scent, so have a professional cleaner do the necessary work to make the environment odor-free.

Artwork. While all art is certainly subjective, keep in mind that not everyone will appreciate artwork with severe subject matter or nudity. Stick to subtle landscapes and still life subject matter, or remove artwork altogether. Sparsely decorated walls will make your home appear more spacious.

Collections. Your shelves of antique dolls or Norman Rockwell plates might be your most prized possession, but for prospective homebuyers who don’t share the same affinity, collections can skew their opinion of your home - not to mention, make it appear very cluttered. Pack away your beloved collectibles in preparation for their new home.

People. Sometimes, being present during showings can be a plus - you can provide buyers with certain details about your home and what you love most about the neighborhood. But most people don’t want the owners present when they tour a home. So clear out and give them the freedom to pour over every detail of your home and make honest comments to the REALTORS.

Weeds. Curb appeal really is everything, so if your yard isn’t up to snuff, buyers may turn around before they ever step foot inside. There’s no need to break the bank - just make sure the basics are covered: mow the lawn, weed borders and beds, trim bushes and trees, and remove all sticks, leaves and debris.

For more tips and advice on getting your home in perfect condition to list, contact me. 
                         


 

First American’s proprietary Real House Price Index (RHPI) looks at January 2017 data and includes analysis from First American Chief Economist Mark Fleming on the decline in affordability as consumer house-buying power dipped due to rising rates.


“While affordability is lower compared to a year ago, the level of affordability in most markets is still high by historical standards, which is why demand is expected to remain strong this spring.”


“Real purchasing-power adjusted house prices declined 0.1 percent in January, as mortgage rates did not meaningfully change and income growth continued. Despite the monthly increase in affordability and continued strong wage growth, homes are less affordable across the country compared to a year ago,” said Mark Fleming, chief economist at First American.

 

For Mark’s full analysis on affordability, the top five states and markets with the greatest increases and decreases in real house prices, and more, please visit the Real House Price Index.

 

The RHPI offers an alternative view of the change over time of house prices at the national, state and metropolitan area level. The traditional perspective on house prices is fixated on the actual prices and the changes in those prices, which overlooks what really matters to potential buyers - their purchasing power, or how much they can afford to buy. The RHPI adjusts prices for purchasing power by considering how income levels and interest rates influence the amount one can borrow.

 

The RHPI is updated monthly with new data. Look for the next edition of the RHPI the week of April 24, 2017.

032717 RHPI.jpg

Hidden Backyard Deal Breakers That Are Lurking on Your Property

by Bill Nelson - Broker

Every time a prospective home buyer walks onto your Central Coast property, there are a few things that they will absolutely not put up with. These deal breakers can be anywhere in the home, but there is one area that we often forget about: the backyard.

The backyard is very important to family life, especially here on the beautiful Central Coast. After all, this is the place where children will enjoy their childhood and play in a safe and secured environment. Most home buyers prefer single-family dwellings solely because of the usable outdoor space! Take some time to focus on your backyard. After all, there are ways that you can update your backyard without spending money.

Pool in the Backyard

To many buyers, a pool can be seen as an expensive maintenance fee that they will have to pay for on top of the mortgage. Once they see a pool, they’re going to start doing some calculations in their head thinking, “Now how much is this going to cost me?” Whether it’s above or below ground, a pool can raise a flood of concerns over child safety. But then there are those like me who love pools and are prepared to maintain them. 

Size of the Plot

The appraisal of your home is typically made in two elements, the plot size and the actual value of the physical home. That said, the size of your yard comes into play so you want to make sure that you spend a generous amount of time prepping your backyard for visitors. Getting rid of clutter and opening up the yard to make your lot feel larger will help you when it comes time to sell.

Pet Products

Hide dishes, play toys, and photos of your pets as this may make the buyer feel like the home is dirty, especially for a homeowner that doesn’t like the idea of having pets inside the house. This will be a deal breaker if the buyer is allergic to cats and/or dogs.

Landscaping

With the price of water rising rapidly and droughts in California, grass isn’t as appealing as it once was. When frugal buyers see grass, they see a sky-high water bill that will eventually lead to a dead yard and a new project to be undertaken. Think about landscaping trends like xeric landscaping, native plants, and artificial turf to make your home more appealing to all home buyers.

Leaving Backyard Photos Out of your Listing

This is a rookie mistake. If you leave out photos of your backyard, homebuyers will think that you have something to hide. If you have a gorgeous yard, why wouldn’t you want to showcase it in your listing? Are you hiding any skeletons in the closet?

Noisy Neighbors

Now this may be seen as something outside of your realm, but it may be worth a knock on the door to let your neighbors know that you will be showing your house at a given time. Rowdy neighbors can be an instant turn off to potential buyers. Make sure your neighbors’ parties are held on a different day than your open house to give buyers a better peace of mind. After all, they will share a fence with these neighbors for an indefinite period of time.

So What Are Home Buyers Looking For?

A survey conducted by the National Association of Home Builders found that new home buyers are looking for exterior lighting, lots of trees, a deck or patio, and a fenced in yard. Beyond the basics, an outdoor amenity that is rapidly gaining in popularity is the outdoor fireplace/fire pit, outdoor kitchens, and the outdoor living room.

Investing in the backyard can net you some of the highest returns. Knowing what real estate appraisers (and home buyers) are looking for will help you sell your property faster. That said, the exterior of your home is just as important as the interior of your home. Many people assume that the front and backyard aren’t crucial to the buying process so they overlook these pitfalls. Make sure that your backyard does not have any hidden deal breakers that could steer away new bids!

Expert Insights: How Do You Clear up Bad Credit?

by Bill Nelson - Broker

It is not easy but certainly doable with both commitment and time.

By law, any unfavorable information in your credit file can stay there from 7 to 10 years. Today, however, a creditor must remove credit blemishes in a timely fashion if you challenge them and they turn out to be false.

The first step in any recovery plan is to get copies of your credit records. You are entitled to free copies if you have recently been turned down for credit. Otherwise, request copies for a fee from the three major credit-reporting agencies: Experian, Equifax, and Trans Union.

If you see any incorrect information, let the credit reporting agencies know. Also contact the companies that reported the negative claims against you.

If the credit report is correct, move immediately to take care of any outstanding delinquencies, tackling a little at a time until you get back on the right track. In fact, make an effort, if at all possible, to repay your debt in full and on time for six months to a year to prove you are working hard to repair any damage.

 

Give me a call if you would like to be connected with a local SLO County Lender who helps facilitate credit repair.

Double-Dipping: Saving Water & Water Heating Costs

by Bill Nelson

A  U.S. Dept of Energy (energy.gov) report can help homeowners lower water heating costs while wasting less hot water.

According to the report, water heating is the second-largest energy expense in a typical home, accounting for about 18 percent of annual utility expenses after heating and cooling. To conserve hot water, homeowners can fix leaks, install low-flow fixtures, and purchase energy-efficient water dependent appliances like dishwashers and clothes washers.

Since faucets and appliances can use a lot of hot water, homeowners are encouraged to look for ways to heat your water more efficiently and use less. One way to significantly reduce hot water use is by simply repairing leaks in fixtures - faucets and shower heads - or pipes.

A leak of one drip per second wastes 1,661 gallons of water and can cost up to $35 per year. And if your water heater's tank leaks, you need a new water heater.

Installing low-flow fixtures can also make a huge difference. The DOE report says homeowners can purchase some quality, low-flow fixtures for around $10 to $20 a piece and achieve water savings of 25 to 60 percent.
For maximum water efficiency, the report advises to select a shower head with a flow rate of less than 2.5 gpm (gallons per minute). There are two basic types of low-flow shower heads: aerating and laminar-flow.
Aerating shower heads mix air with water, forming a misty spray. Laminar-flow shower heads form individual streams of water.

When it comes to faucets, the aerator - the screw-on tip of the faucet - ultimately determines the maximum flow rate of a faucet. Aerators are inexpensive to replace and they can be one of the most cost-effective water conservation measures the DOE report relates.

For maximum water efficiency, purchase aerators that have flow rates of no more than 1.0 gpm. Some aerators even come with shut-off valves that allow you to stop the flow of water without affecting the temperature. When replacing an aerator, bring the one you're replacing to the store with you to ensure a proper fit.

What's in your Autoresponder?

by Bill Nelson

The automatic email response – aka, the autoresponder - has become a ubiquitous part of our tech-driven society. When we’re away or tied up in meetings, having the ability to instantly let people know we’re not available allows us to feel that we’re being attentive and responsible. However, not all autoresponders are created equal. If yours doesn’t have the following components, it may be doing more harm than good:

A pleasant greeting. Your autoresponder should be pleasant and reflect your personality. Thank people for writing and assure them they will be taken care of in your absence.

An indication of why you’re unavailable. If you’re on vacation, let people know – they’ll be more likely to respect your away time. If you’re at an important conference or industry event, consider mentioning that as well. Business associates may be at the same event and can seek you out while there.

A clear explanation of your availability. There’s a big difference between checking email a few times a day and not checking email at all – so let people know exactly if and when they can expect to hear from you.

An alternative. Give clear direction as to who people can contact in your absence. Be sure to provide a colleague’s email and phone number – don’t forget the extension.

A solution for urgent matters. Consider leaving your mobile number for those who need to reach you in an emergency.

A date when you’ll be back in action. Let people know the date or time when you’ll be back and able to manage your email again.  

When executed properly, autoresponders can be a great way to reflect your professionalism and commitment to those you deal with. Spend a little time and put some polish on your next one—and don’t forget to turn it off as soon as you’ve returned.

Financial Priorities for Newlyweds

by Bill Nelson

Deciding where to live in SLO County, if you’re going to have children, and who takes out the garbage are some of the big and small decisions newlyweds have to make together after the wedding gifts are put away and they’re ready to start their lives together.

There are also financial decisions to make as a married couple, though they may not be as easy to discuss as who’s making dinner on Sunday nights.

Here are some financial priorities newlyweds should set — together:

Set a budget: A good way to start is by living within your means and setting a family budget. Start by making a list of your monthly income and expenses, and decide which are must-haves (rent and groceries) and which can be eliminated or at least cut back (cable TV and dining out).

The goal is for your budget to leave you with enough extra money each month to save for other goals, and to not spend more than you have. If you have debt, including credit card debt, come up with a plan to pay it off.

Financial goals: Discuss your individual and joint goals, and start saving for them. These can include having children, saving for a down payment on a house, buying a new car, and funding retirement accounts for each of you.

Insurance: There are a few insurance needs to consider when you get married. A family health insurance plan may save you money, as will having all family cars on one auto insurance policy. You may also need extra homeowners or renters insurance to cover all the possessions you now have together, including jewelry and all of those expensive wedding gifts you just received.

Life insurance is important when you’re married, especially if one spouse doesn’t work and relies on the other person for an income, or if you’re going to have children soon.

Tax withholdings: Getting married can lower your taxes. If one spouse isn’t working, then the other can add them as an allowance on their taxes, allowing them to change their withholding from their paycheck and bring more money home. An IRS worksheet can help make this calculation.

Bank accounts: Joint checking, savings and emergency accounts, along with keeping individual checking accounts for pocket money, are bank accounts worth discussing as a couple. Splitting electric bills in half, as you may have done in college, is over.

Once you get started on these accounts, give yourself six months or so to get used to them before deciding to make changes. A budget and joint bank accounts, like a new marriage, can take a little work.

Aaron Crowe is a freelance journalist who specializes in personal finance topics.

 

SloCountyListingAlert.com is a FREE service to help area home buyers find their dream home. Your first email will list all homes currently for sale that meet your search criteria. Then each morning you will be emailed a list of all of the new homes for sale and price changes since your previous search. No more having to rely on manual searches. Click on the link below and start your auto-email home search today! It's just that easy!

http://SloCountyListingAlert.com

SLOCountyHomeValue.com is a Free Service to obtain instant property values on your SLO County Property. Click on the link below for a instant property valuation. It's easy!

http://SLOCountyHomeValue.com

Finance Tips for Young Parents

by Bill Nelson - Broker

As a young parent, you may just be learning about all the responsibilities parenthood requires. When it comes to financial planning, setting your sight on the future can help immensely.

Demolish debt. Slaying your own debt will positively impact your family's financial future. While it may take years to pay off those student loans or credit card debt, creating a plan can help. Tackle your lowest balance first to gain momentum then take on the next smallest. Additionally, pay attention to higher interest rates that are costing you a lot of money.

Build a budget. Creating a budget doesn't have to be hard. There are many budgeting apps available on the market to help you track your expenses, or you can try the trusty envelope system with monthly allowances for groceries, entertainment, utilities, etc.

Build an emergency fund. Setting a fund for potential emergencies will never backfire. Aim for a small, achievable goal as low as $500 then set the bar higher. Participate in your employer-sponsored savings program to boost retirement savings, especially if there is a match. Make it an automatic payroll deduction and increase it when your paycheck goes up. As far as your child's college savings, save what you can, when you can. Every little bit will help when education bills come due.

Child care. Consider establishing a flexible spending account if one is offered by your employer. Parents can use pretax dollars to pay up to $5,000 in child care expenses in most states.

Review insurance and important paperwork. Create a will either by using an online program or hiring a professional to name your child's guardian, and designate at what age any payouts, savings or investments will be distributed. With health insurance, notify your employer within 30 days of the birth to ensure that the child is eligible for any dependent benefits. Purchase appropriate health care coverage to protect your family. Review your employer's life insurance plan and determine if it is adequate for your needs. If not, consider purchasing additional life insurance.

Source: SmartAboutMoney.org.

 

SloCountyListingAlert.com is a FREE service to help area home buyers find their dream home. Your first email will list all homes currently for sale that meet your search criteria. Then each morning you will be emailed a list of all of the new homes for sale and price changes since your previous search. No more having to rely on manual searches. Click on the link below and start your auto-email home search today! It's just that easy!

http://SloCountyListingAlert.com

SLOCountyHomeValue.com is a Free Service to obtain instant property values on your SLO County Property. Click on the link below for a instant property valuation. It's easy!

http://SLOCountyHomeValue.com

When selling a home, staging is an important piece of the puzzle that can’t be overlooked. From the kitchen to the bedrooms and bathrooms, staging is a great way to make sure your home appeals to the masses. While staging spaces within your home is crucial, many sellers often neglect one important area: the garage. 
 
While the garage is used for many different things, storage is one of its biggest benefits. As buyers consistently point to storage, space and usefulness as the main criteria used to rate any garage, it’s still the most overlooked area when homeowners begin getting their property ready for sale.
 
In fact, many sellers use the garage as a dumping ground for items no longer needed within the home as it’s being prepared for the market, which could be a big mistake when it comes to getting your home sold. A cluttered or unorganized garage can ultimately send the wrong message to a potential buyer, making it impossible to visualize all that the space can offer.
 
If you absolutely have to use some of the space for storage purposes, be sure to keep everything neat and organized, as this can subconsciously imply that you take better than average care of your home. It may also lend a feeling of newness to the property. 
 
Getting your garage in tip-top shape begins with removing all the junk that has collected over the years and organizing everything on clean shelves. Vacuum up any dirt and do away with any spider webs and bugs. It’s also important to make sure there is plenty of light. If there are windows in the garage, be sure to clean them.
 
Bigger fixes include adding industrial flooring, painting the walls and ceiling and replacing any coils or parts of the garage door that are rusty and not working properly. If you have an automatic garage opener, make sure the batteries are fresh and everything is working properly.
 
Keeping your garage presentable can be the difference between getting a terrific offer or seeing yet another buyer move on to another home. Taking the time to clean, paint and organize will do wonders for making the space more appealing to potential buyers.
 
For more staging tips, contact me today.

SloCountyListingAlert.com is a FREE service to help area home buyers find their dream home. Your first email will list all homes currently for sale that meet your search criteria. Then each morning you will be emailed a list of all of the new homes for sale and price changes since your previous search. No more having to rely on manual searches. Click on the link below and start your auto-email home search today! It's just that easy!

http://slocountylistingalert.com

SLOCountyHomeValue.com is a Free Service to obtain instant property values on your SLO County Property. Click on the link below for a instant property valuation. It's easy!

http://www.slocountyhomevalue.com

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 10