Monday, March 25, 2019

Exterior Home Improvements for Resale

Selling your house can be an expensive endeavor. While most of those costs come later in the selling process, there are some expenses that come much earlier — before you even list your home. Between cleaning, staging, landscaping, painting and other tasks, expect to spend upwards of $10,000 to prepare your home for sale in our area.
On the high end, sellers in San Jose spend $6,580, and on the low end, sellers in Dallas-Fort Worth spend only $3,720. Sellers spend the money to complete these tasks in hopes of impressing buyers and receiving a strong offer as soon as possible.
While often forgotten or left at the end of your to-do list, your home’s exterior is the first thing buyers see, so it’s crucial to making a great first impression.

How important is curb appeal when selling a house?

Curb appeal is important because it can have a positive impact on your home’s resale value, and it’s something that most sellers address before listing.
Seventy-nine percent of sellers make at least one improvement before listing their home, according to the Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trends Report 2018. And landscaping ranks as the second most popular pre-listing upgrade. What does that mean for you as a seller? It means your competition is paying attention to curb appeal, so you should too.
Although the majority of buyers (79 percent) use online resources to shop for homes, your curb appeal really does make the first impression. Most agents use the exterior photo of your home as the first image on your online listing, and some local MLS systems actually require an exterior shot to come first.
What’s more, 89 percent of buyers take private tours in person, so if your home’s exterior looks neglected, you may never get them through the door to see the rest of the house.

Does curb appeal add value to your home?

Depending on the location, curb appeal can add value to your home. Your return on investment depends on the market itself, how much buyers value the improvements made and the total spend on the upgrade.
There are all kinds of things you can do to the exterior of your home, from simple landscaping to a whole new roof and new windows.

Exterior home upgrade ROI

According to Remodeling magazine’s 2018 Cost vs. Value Report, 7 of the 10 home improvements with the highest ROI are on the exterior. These projects recoup anywhere between 69.5 percent (for a wood window replacement) to 98.3 percent (for a garage door replacement) of your initial investment back at resale. Some of the other high-ROI external improvements include adding manufactured stone veneer, replacing siding and adding a wood deck.
Note that it’s extremely rare for your ROI to be 100 percent, but there are other benefits to completing exterior home upgrades before selling, outside of just financial return.
If you’re selling in a competitive market, making your home look its best can help you compete against other homes on the market. Upgrades such as a new roof or energy-efficient windows can attract buyers when you include them in your listing description. Alternatively, if you avoid maintenance-related upgrades, they’ll likely be found during a buyer’s inspection and cost you during negotiations.

Necessary exterior home upgrades

Curb appeal isn’t just about making your home look pretty. It’s also about ensuring that the major elements of the home’s structure visible from the street are in good working order.
Before tackling cosmetic upgrades, address any functional exterior shortcomings. For example, buyers can live with imperfect landscaping, but not a damaged roof with missing shingles. A damaged roof looks bad from the curb, plus it’s a red flag for buyers and their inspectors, signaling that the home hasn’t been taken care of by its owners.
The ROI numbers in this section come from Remodeling magazine’s 2018 Cost vs. Value Report.

Roof repair

If your roof needs repair, your options are to repair before listing, leave as-is and lower your listing price, or be prepared to offer a buyer credit as part of the negotiation process. According to the Zillow Group Report, 18 percent of sellers repair or replace their roof before listing for sale.
If you need a full roof replacement, it can be expensive. A midrange roofing replacement with asphalt shingles costs an average of $20,939 nationally, and it garners a 68.4 percent ROI at time of sale — or $14,322. That makes the unreturned cost for the seller $6,617.

Siding repair or replacement

Another obvious defect buyers may notice is damaged or neglected siding. A bit cheaper to replace than a roof, a midrange siding replacement has an average national cost of $15,072, with a 76.7 percent ROI ($11,560). The unreturned cost for the seller is $3,512.

New windows

Expect buyers to pay close attention to the windows and doors, especially in older homes. They may do it on the first tour, on a subsequent visit or during their inspection. If your home needs new windows and you decide to replace them before listing, it can be a huge selling point — especially if you opt for energy-efficient windows that will reduce heating and cooling costs for the future homeowner.
Both wood and vinyl windows provide better thermal resistance (meaning better energy efficiency) than aluminum, but the glass and glazing matter too. Insulated, low-emissivity coatings, spectrally selective coatings, and gas fillers all help improve energy efficiency. Note that awning or hopper windows (hinged at the top or bottom) and casement windows (hinged at the side) are less prone to leakage than sliding windows.
As far as cost, an upscale vinyl window replacement costs $15,955 on average, with a 74.3 percent ROI ($11,855). An upscale wood window replacement costs $19,391 on average, with a 69.5 percent ROI ($13,477). The unreturned costs for the seller are $4,100 (vinyl windows) or $5,914 (wood windows).

Window repair

Inspect your windows to see if any need to be repaired or replaced. You can also try these tips for improving the efficiency of your existing windows:
  • Check for air leaks.
  • Replace caulking or add weather stripping.
  • Add storm windows.
  • Add solar film.

New front door

A more affordable improvement, a new front door can give your home’s facade a whole new look. A midrange steel entry-door replacement costs an average of $1,471 and can get you an impressive 91.3 percent ROI ($1,343). The unreturned cost for the seller is just $128. Before you replace your front door, though, see if a new coat of paint on it will do the trick — more on that later.

New garage door

If standard repairs (like a chain/track repair or repainting) don’t bring your automatic garage door up to par, you might need to replace it. Luckily, an upscale garage door replacement is the highest-ROI project tracked by Remodeling magazine, with a cost of $3,470 and an average ROI of 98.3 percent ($3,411). The unreturned cost for the seller is just $59.

Cosmetic exterior home upgrades

Cosmetic updates are items that don’t necessarily need to be fixed, but they’re worth doing. Remember — your home’s exterior is the first thing buyers will see, and you only have one chance to make a good first impression.

Pressure wash

Pressure wash all hard surfaces near your home’s exterior, including sidewalks, curbs, pathways and driveways to remove dirt, grime and moss.

Paint the exterior

Whether your home is desperately in need of a new coat of paint or you just want to freshen up the look before listing, repainting your home’s exterior is a fairly common task, with 21 percent of sellers completing the project before listing.  
Neutral paint colors appeal to the broadest group of buyers, and the 2017 Zillow Paint Color Analysisfound that homes with greige (gray/beige) exteriors sold for $3,496 more than similar homes painted in a medium brown or with tan stucco.
Ultimately, the best exterior paint color depends on your home’s style, the exposure to sunlight and the exterior materials. Just avoid yellow — the 2018 Zillow Paint Color Analysis found that homes with yellow exteriors sold for $3,408 less than similar homes.

Spruce up landscaping

Another popular task on the pre-listing to-do list is landscaping the yard — 29 percent of sellers do some landscaping work before they sell. Trim overgrown trees, branches, bushes and ground cover, then plant colorful seasonal flowers and add fresh mulch.

Paint the front door

As long as it’s in good working order, you can simply paint the front door instead of replacing it, and it will cost less than $50. According to the 2018 Zillow Paint Color Analysis, homes with black or charcoal front doors sell for $6,271 more than expected, which is the highest sales premium of all the rooms and color combinations the study analyzed. Another great option is to add a pop of color to your home’s facade by painting the door red, yellow or another bold color.

Accessorize the exterior

Accessories and design touches are important on the outside of the home too. They make a home look polished, well cared for and updated. Consider these budget-friendly accessorizing tips that make a big impact:
  • Add new house numbers in a classic bronze or black.
  • Update the sconces and add sidewalk lighting (especially if you’re listing in winter).
  • Replace the mailbox with a new one that matches the home’s style.
  • Update the door hardware — smart home locks are popular with buyers.
  • Replace your old welcome mat with something clean and simple (no funny phrases or cartoons).
  • Add some front porch furniture that matches the style of the home.

The importance of outdoor space

Although most pre-listing exterior home improvements focus on the front of the house, don’t forget to spruce up the backyard or any outdoor space you have, too, even if it’s not big. According to the Zillow Group Report, 75 percent of buyers with kids want a private outdoor space, which isn’t surprising. But even among buyers without kids, 65 percent said they want a private outdoor space.
One of the biggest bang-for-your-buck renovations, again according to Remodeling magazine, is a midrange wood deck addition. It offers the fourth-highest ROI of any of the home improvements analyzed — for an average cost of $10,950, homeowners see a return of 82.8 percent.

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Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Mixed Results in January/February 2019

January & February 2019
 Results are Mixed

The 2018 Spring market was an active one, spurred in part by the new Trump era tax Legislation which had not officially come into play.  Early 2019 real estate sales point to activity that may be linked to certain mortgage and real estate tax  limitations imposed by the new laws.  New home loans cap that can be used for deductions has been reduced to $750,000 where they had been one million dollars previously.  The allowable real estate deductions are now capped at $10,000/year. 

Most affected by these changes are the blue states on both coasts where real estate values and real estate taxes tend to be higher than in the Midwest, South, and Southwestern regions of the country.  This is especially true in the large cities of the Northeast and their suburbs, as well as the large cities and suburbs of the West coast.

So it should not come as a big surprise that in the uncertainty leading into the 2018 tax season due to be filed by April 15th of this year, that there is still some confusion in the minds of those currently looking to purchase.  In the towns which I cover, where the median price of homes is below the Million dollar mark (suggesting that most home loans will fall within the $750,000 parameters previously discussed), there has actually been increased overall activity.

In Weston and Wilton, which last year had median home sale prices of $702,000 and $780,000,respectively, closed sales in January and February of 2019 have surpassed the totals seen in the same months last year.  Weston had 15 closed sales in Janaury/February with the highest priced home sold being at 6 Calvin road for $1,350,000.  In 2018 there had been 14 in the same period of time and the highest priced home sold at 43 Norwalk Woods Road, which sold for $1,300,000.

In Wilton, there were 26 homes sold in 2019 compared to 22 in 2018 for the first two months.In 2018 there were 6 homes that sold for over $1million compared to 4 during the first two months of 2019.  The median price for Jan/Feb. in 2018 was $812,500 compared to $625,000 in 2019.  The highest priced home that sold in the first two months in 2019 was at 235 Cheesespring road for $1,760,000 compared to $2,850,000 for the home that sold at 21 School road in 2018.

Fairfield, which in 2018 had a median sales price of $630,000, also saw increases in the number of homes sold in Jan/Feb. of 2019.  93 homes sold during this period of time compared to 85 in the same period of time.  As far as the highest sales price is concerned, that number was considerably higher in the first two months of 2018, with the sale of 945 Sasco Hill road which sold for $4,650,000 compared to the highest sale of this two month period of 2019 when 3236 Congress street recently selling for $3,250,000.

In Westport, with a significantly higher median sales price of $1,220,000 in 2018, the number of sales in the first two months in 2019 dropped dramatically: from 51 in Jan/Feb, 2018 to 28 in the same period of 2019.  The highest sales number also dropped significantly, from $5,362,500 for the sale of 3 Charmer’s landing in 2018 vs. $2,847,768 for 16 Linda lane in 2019.

It may be that we will see these numbers change once people complete their taxes, and once yearly bonuses have been distributed, but it is difficult to predict. There have been an increasing number of multiple offers in the lower priced offerings which may be something that will continue for well-priced move-in condition homes below $800,000, more or less.

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Friday, March 08, 2019

Worried About a Recession in NYC? Relax


Worried about a recession in NYC? Relax

New job numbers show big gains in the last year


Three bad economic signals in the past month—weak
 retail sales,
 a disappointing report on gross domestic product and
 a huge
 trade deficit—
has the word recession in the headlines. But if you're
one is about to hit New York City, don't be.
Revised numbers for 2018 released Thursday by the state
 Labor Department
increased the gain in  jobs for last year by 52,000.
The agency now estimates
 there were 4.6 million jobs in the city
last month.
 The exact figure, 4,598,700, is also a surprisingly
 95,000 higher than it was in December  2017.
 figures reinforce the headline on the city comptroller’s
 economic report issued a month ago: "NYC Economy
Surges in Q4 2018."
State Labor Department

Here are the key
 changes and
what they mean.

Manufacturing lost more 
jobs than originally estimated. 
This is a perennial because each
  year there seems to be a small
 rebound in 
factory jobs that disappears when
 better data
 is available. The sector now accounts for only                                                              69,000 jobs in the city or 1.5% of the total.
Information jobs are growing. The revision boosted the
number of jobs 
    by 6% to about 200,000.
Companies continue to build out their operations staffs.       
 jobs were revised upward by 12,000 to about a quarter
 of a million

Home  care just keeps growing. This is another sector 
with about 
200,000 workers . The revision added 7,000.
What is Mayor Bill de Blasio thinking? The number of
government jobs in
 the city was bumped up by 38,000 with the city accounting
for all but 1,500
of the additions. An updated chart from the Citizens Budget
certainly shows what the mayor has done to head count,
 and it is quite a financial burden.

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