Area Real Estate News & Market Trends

You’ll find our blog to be a wealth of information, covering everything from local market statistics and home values to community happenings. That’s because we care about the community and want to help you find your place in it. Please reach out if you have any questions at all. We’d love to talk with you!

May 22, 2019

To Renovate or Not?

Over time, almost any home could use an upgrade. Not only is wear and tear an issue, but our needs change as we do. Birth, death, marriage, the kids going off to college… all can have a profound impact on the utility of our home and the pleasure we take in it. Home renovation can be an excellent way to improve your quality of life, but is it always the best choice? By asking yourself these five essential renovation questions, you can gain real insight into the right decision.

 

1. What are your renovation priorities?

Yes, if you could do it all, it would be great. But odds are you won’t be able to do it all. So brainstorm all of your renovation desires and write them down. Next, rank them by order of importance. Some will be large and some will be small. Consider your budget. Would you be happier with one large revision, or would several small ones be better? Prioritize to clarify!

 

2. How disruptive will the renovation be to living in your home?

Understanding your appetite for disruption is important. Some renovation projects are minor and may take a day or two. Others could drag on for months and months. What are you willing to tolerate?

 

3. How will the renovation impact the home’s balance?

Major renovation projects can throw a home’s feel, flow, or look out of line. If you put a commercial-grade, ultramodern kitchen, will the nearby living room look shabby or antiquated? What if you add a bedroom but you only have one bathroom?

 

4. How long will you enjoy the renovation?

People typically renovate when they’re planning on staying in their home. Which direction is your neighborhood heading? Are you planning to downsize in a couple of years? A renovation may be overkill if you don’t think you’ll stick around long.

 

5. Will you recoup your investment?

Happiness with your home should be your top priority, but before you renovate you should understand that a major renovation isn’t a guarantee that you’ll get your money out when it’s time to sell. This may or may not be a factor for you.

 

We are perfectly happy to walk through these questions with you. Renovating may be the right choice, but sometimes only a move will do. Either way, D-N-A Property Management is here to help: 570-424-8131 ext:405. 

Posted in Home Improvements
May 20, 2019

Tips to improve your home without breaking the bank

Want to boost your home’s value, but don’t have the budget for a big renovation? Good news: You don’t need a big budget to make material improvements.

 

When evaluating home improvements, it’s always a good idea to ask yourself if the money invested will be recouped in the sale of the home. The best renovations not only cover their costs, but they can actually provide a nice return. The key, of course, is identifying those improvements which deliver the biggest return for the smallest investment.

 

Here are five renovation projects which are both easy and inexpensive ways to dial up your home’s appeal and value:

 

1. Paint the front door: You might not have the budget for full exterior paint job, but have you looked at your front door lately? It’s a focal point from the street and if it’s looking weathered, improving its appearance can have a disproportionate impact on your curb appeal.

 

2. Paint the foyer/entry way: Interior paint is an obvious improvement, but you don’t have to make it an all-or-none proposition. Where do people enter your home? Refresh that point of entry and make it look brand new.

 

3. Change light fixtures and switch plates: You probably don’t even notice your light fixtures anymore, but buyers will. Swapping out the fixtures seldom requires an electrician’s skill, and modernizing the look goes a long way. Same goes for switch plates, which may have grimy fingerprints or bent dimmer switches.

 

4. Upgrade kitchen and bath fixtures: Do you need a new sink, or do you just need a fresh faucet? It’s amazing how much a deluxe kitchen faucet upgrade can change perceptions of a kitchen. Same goes for the bathrooms: Faucets and even a new toilet can do wonders.

 

5. Garden upgrades: Fresh borders on your flower gardens, new flowers, and fresh mulch are all small touches which refresh a home’s exterior.

 

Want a second pair of eyes to advise you on your modest remodeling? We are happy to help you make a checklist to prepare your home for sale. Call us today at 570-424-8131 ext:405.

Posted in Home Improvements
May 17, 2019

How to Win Homes in a Seller’s Market

If you’ve ever experienced the disappointment of losing out on a home in a seller’s market, you want to do everything possible to keep it from happening again. One tactic many buyers overlook is the “love letter” written to sellers about their home.

 

Rationally, you might expect the highest offer will always win the home, but there are a host of other factors involved. Some are emotional. Some sellers want to see their home go to a buyer they not only trust to close the deal, but they also like personally.

 

Want to give yourself an edge? Craft a short “love letter” to go with your offer. Here are the basics you’ll want to cover in your letter:

 

1. Explain how much you like their home. Don’t go overboard, but prove to them you know the home and you truly appreciate their taste and the unique characteristics of the house. This might touch on improvements they’ve made or other aesthetic details.

 

2. Spare them all the things you might want to change. What you say is as important as what you don’t say. Don’t tell them you’re going to gut the place as soon as you close, add a second story, or rip out their garden for a pool.

 

3. Demonstrate you’re qualified to close. Make them feel confident in your qualifications as a buyer. Show them you’re pre-qualified for a loan, are buying cash, or have other reasons why you’ll be a hassle-free buyer.

 

4. Be humble and positive. Don’t give them a sob story about the four other homes you’ve lost out on. Praise the neighborhood and make them feel as though you would be positively honored to be chosen as the next owner of their home.

 

5. Check the letter for typos. Read it out loud. Listen for clunky sentences or awkward repetition. Have someone proof it for mistakes. Their confidence in your attention to detail is important.

 

A good agent should be able to tell you if the letter sounds like an honest appeal. Have it included with your offer as a cover letter.

 

Need help finding a home worth a love letter? Get in touch today: 570-424-8131 ext:405. 

Posted in Buyer Information
May 15, 2019

Protecting Your Valuables During a Move

Moving isn’t cheap. And really, it shouldn’t be. If it is, you might find out how expensive it can get when all of your valuable possessions have been destroyed in the move! Whether you’re hiring a company to help you relocate, or you’re planning a DIY (Do It Yourself) adventure, keep these handy tips in your pocket to protect your goods.

 

Use the right-sized boxes. Small boxes are ideal for heavy, dense objects (see: books), while larger ones are preferable for lighter items such as pillows and comforters. A large, heavy box is more likely to split or crush other items, so keep an eye on each boxes’ size-to-weight ratio.

 

Fill until it’s still. If a box is rattling around, you’re risking damage. Fill in the empty space with towels, padding, or other cushioning items to isolate the valuable contents from stop/start or shaking motions.

 

Pad and side-load dishes. Place bubble wrap or packing paper between dishes and wrap bundles of four or more with extra padding. Be sure to pack dishes on their sides, not flat. This will mitigate the hazard of shattering from an accidental side impact! Padding in the bottom and top of the box will provide an additional layer of insurance, too.

 

Don’t flatten out your flat-screen. Spend the money on a special packing box for your flat-screen LCD and/or plasma TV. Having the original shipping box is best, but an aftermarket die-cut, the foam-supported kit will save you the hundreds (if not $1000+) in replacement costs. (Also: Don’t lay the TV flat or stack any boxes on top.)

 

Tape in the reinforcements. Taping all the way around the top and bottom edges will provide additional support to the areas where most of the load is distributed.

 

Keep tiny things with big value to yourself. Anything that’s small and irreplaceable should be set aside and kept with you during the move. This might be your grandmother’s heirloom necklace, vital financial/legal documents, or special family photo collections.

 

I want all of the items that make a house a home to get there in one piece. Hopefully, these tips will help that happen.  Need an agent to help you find that perfect home for your valuables? Get in touch with D-N-A Property Management Co at 570-424-8131 ext:405 

Posted in Moving
May 13, 2019

Creating an Easy, Breezy California Room

the long evening hours when the heat bleeds off the day, there are times when being outdoors is a tremendous pleasure.

 

But this doesn’t mean you always want to spread out a blanket or a lawn chair. In fact, creating a “transitional space” which blends outdoor living with indoor amenities is a great way to maximize the season. The California room is just one of those spaces.

 

California rooms are typically situated in the rear of a home, sometimes connected to the home by sliding glass doors. The California room is usually a covered space with flowing outdoor fabrics and durable, luxurious “indoor” style furniture such as chaise lounges, couches, ottomans, and even coffee and accent tables. Walls give way to curtains. It often includes a dining space or even a protected (or moveable) entertainment center. Bluetooth music systems with outdoor speakers are also a nice touch.

 

If you see yourself spending a lot of time outdoors, you might consider supplementing your California room with an outdoor kitchen. A good grill, an outdoor sink in a stone or other durable counter surface, and some built-in refrigeration for drinks is a great way to upgrade your California room.

 

The California room is one of the hottest trends in home design right now. If you search Google images for “California room,” you’ll find hundreds of design examples from down-home country living to lavish, Mediterranean-inspired decor. Pinterest and Houzz are also great places to research California room styles.

 

The beauty of the California room is that it can be scaled to meet your budget. Even a modest transitional space with some cover and cozy furniture can make a small home feel larger and improve your quality of life.  

 

What does your dream California room look like? What are your must-haves and your nice-to-haves? How would you like to use your California room?

 

If you’re looking for a new home with the ideal space for a California room, we are happy to help you with your search. Let’s talk soon: 570-424-8131 ext:405.

Posted in Home Living
May 10, 2019

Don’t Fear a Hot Homebuyer’s Market

If you’ve found yourself paralyzed by this active market, you’re not alone. According to a recent survey of 3,500 buyers, a whopping 58% of potential homebuyers are sitting on the sidelines because they’re afraid the market is too hot. Here’s a breakdown of their top concerns:

 

1. Affordability: Prices are rising or too high (27%)

2. There's too much competition from other buyers (17%)

3. There aren't enough homes to choose from (14%)

 

While it’s true we’ve seen a dramatic increase in market activity over the past few years, it’s important to remember that what you want isn’t necessarily what everyone else wants. Where you want to live and the type of home you want to live in isn’t necessarily subject to the “macro trends” in any given market situation.

 

Your dream home is as unique as you are, and the only way to understand what’s out there is to take the time to share the details of what you’re looking for with a professional who is tuned into the market. What’s more, an agent can help debunk market myths and keep an eye out for properties which fit your specific criteria.

 

Now is a good time to make a list of criteria for your next home. Begin with your “must haves” and move on to your “nice to haves.” Consider square footage, neighborhood, amenities, and your budget as you put together this list. Reflecting on this information will help you have a productive discussion with a buyer’s agent and also contribute to your understanding of “what’s out there” in your immediate market.

 

Often our fears turn out to be unfounded. If you’ve been letting your perception of the market stymie you from pursuing your dream, now is a good time to start a discussion with someone who can help you see the whole picture.

 

Questions? We are happy to answer them. Call us today at 570-424-8131 ext:405.

Posted in Buyer Information
May 7, 2019

How to Evaluate School Districts When You’re Buying

Given the way most communities work, the location of a home dictates the local school district. The quality of the school district can have a direct impact on the value of your home. Even if you don’t have kids or don’t have to plan kids, the quality of the local schools can positively or negatively effect your home’s value. Buyers tend to prefer homes in good school districts, either because they have school-aged children, or they are thinking of resale value down the line.

 

So how do you know if your local schools make the grade? What signs point towards an improving or declining school district? Here are a five things you’ll want to consider:

 

1. Test scores. It’s a basic measurement of student performance and educator effectiveness. Look at the performance historically for an idea of which direction things have been heading.

 

2. Graduation rates. High graduation rates mean a large percentage of students complete a particular school’s program, and generally reflects well on the district.

 

3. Student-to-teacher ratios. A low student-to-teacher ratio is generally positive, as it indicates a higher percentage chance of students receiving individualized attention. It also suggests that teachers at the school will be more attentive to the quality of the education as they are not overwhelmed by their student load. (If you already have a relatively high student-to-teacher ratio in a community that’s growing fast, beware.)

 

4. School amenities. No, we’re not talking about hot tubs! But we are talking about athletic programs, music programs, and special education programs. If a district is impoverished and has cut all but the essentials from a public education, you may want to hold off.

 

5. Local parental opinion. Ask parents what they think of the schools. How well does the staff communicate? Do the teachers seem engaged? How are the libraries? Are parents engaged, or is there little sense of community?

 

Though school districts are but one factor in the myriad of environmental and neighborhood conditions influencing home value, they remain an important one. Do your homework!

 

Curious about the local schools? I am happy to help you understand the local school district and homes near great schools. Get in touch with us today 570-424-8131 ext:405.

Posted in School Districts
May 3, 2019

Up Your Home’s Curb Appeal with a New Fence

Summer is an ideal time to tackle outdoor renovation projects. From driveway paving to sidewalk repair, the fair weather can be an ideal time to not only enjoy the outdoors, but take some time to improve the curb appeal and value of your home.

 

One common outdoor project? A new fence. Whether you’re looking to install a decorative wooden garden fence, a chain link border for your pets, or a substantial privacy fence, there are some things you’ll want to keep in mind before you begin:

 

1. A permit may be required for fence construction. These may be issued by your county or your city, depending on where you live.

 

2. The size of fence may dictate need for permit. Some communities do not require permits for smaller fences.

 

3. If your fence shares a border with your neighbor, certain permits may require proof of your neighbor’s consent, plus plans and/or drawings that detail how you’ll go about building your fence.

 

4. Permit fees for fences can range anywhere from $20 to above $100. If you use a company to build your fence, often they will secure the permits for you (but you’ll still be on the hook for the permitting fee).

 

5. You’ll need to know how much concrete to buy for your fencepost footings. One easy way to figure this out is use this handy online concrete calculator:

 

http://www.calculator.net/concrete-calculator.html

 

6. Check YouTube for helpful fence tutorials, such as this handy and professional video produced by Lowe’s:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aQ24ykIBVOM

 

Best of luck with your summer project!

Posted in Home Living
April 30, 2019

Q&A: All Cash Home Purchase vs. Mortgage

Many of my clients (especially Baby Boomers who are downsizing or relocating) ask me if they should pay cash for their next house or finance it with a new loan. While the idea of owning a home free-and-clear is certainly appealing, I always present them with a series of questions to help them clarify the big picture. Perhaps you or someone you know may benefit from these as well:

 

How much will you be left with after an all-cash purchase? Maintaining a safety net of three to six months’ worth of living expenses can be a real comfort after you’ve done well on the sale of your home. How comfortable will you be if an all-cash purchase brings you near zero?

 

Are you retiring soon? This goes to two issues: First, whether or not the absence of a mortgage will significantly improve your monthly position, keeping in mind you’ll still need to make insurance, tax payments, and maintenance. Second, if you’re thinking about applying for a loan. It can be a challenge to qualify for a loan after you’ve retired, so if you think you’ll need a loan, it may be better to get it in advance.

 

What’s your tax and income situation look like? For some people, the mortgage interest deduction on income taxes has a significant impact on their annual tax bill and overall cash flow picture. It’s always a good idea to consult with a financial professional before you “write off” the write-off.

 

Might you need to help someone out in the near future? Sometimes having the liquidity to help family members or close friends in need is important. Are you planning to help someone else with a down payment on a home? Is it likely you’ll have to help a close friend or relative through a tough time? Having cash on hand can be a comfort.

 

How important is “free and clear” to your mind? For some, there’s nothing that compares to the idea of owning a home free and clear. Sometimes the feeling of “no debt” simply can’t be overpowered by tax or liquidity benefits. It’s important, to be honest with yourself, and if you’ve always dreamed of dodging a house payment, it could be the right emotional move.

 

For all of these reasons and more, you’ll want to choose wisely before you go in for an all-cash purchase of your next home. Naturally, if you need any help selling your current home or looking for the next one, D-N-A Property Management Co., would be happy to help! 

Contact us today at 570-424-8131 ext:405. 

Posted in Home Living
Feb. 21, 2019

For Buyers Seeking Closing Credits

If you’re buying a home, you probably know that it’s not uncommon to negotiate for credits at closing depending on a wide range of issues. But as a buyer, there are some things you should know before you begin this negotiation process. Here are some tips for buyers seeking closing credits:

1. Closing credits are commonly negotiated as a result of home inspection issues. Sellers don’t always know about problems in their home until an inspection turns up something amiss. If you’re buying a home and want to make sure you’re covered, do not waive your right to inspect the home! Additionally, consider specialized inspections for pools, septic systems, or specialized add-ons which regular inspections don’t necessarily cover.

2. Beware the seller who offers a pre-inspection report. Sometimes sellers will have an inspection before they list the home. This means they’re generally well-armed when it comes to closing credits, and they may be telling you they’re particularly firm about their pricing.

3. Don’t assume sellers will always offer you cash consideration at closing. Sellers may not offer you a discount— they might prefer to have the work done. If this is the case, you’re not going to get a reduced price. Instead, you’re going to be buying the house pending satisfactory completion of the repair. Asking for credits for work you weren’t planning to have done can be a risky gambit.

4. Know the market before you press on credits. In a highly competitive market where sellers are in the driver’s seat, don’t be surprised if a seller decides to ditch your agreement and seek another buyer. You have much more leverage in a buyer’s market, so keep this in mind.

5. Sellers often build in cushioning for credits, so don’t hesitate to ask if there’s a reasonable request to be made. Again, this goes back to the type of market you’re in, but almost every seller is prepared to hear about concessions which may need to be made in order to seal the deal.

Negotiations prior to closing are common, so don’t fear them. Simply be smart about how you proceed and you will get through the big day just fine. Need solid buyer representation? I’m here to help. Let’s talk! 570-424-8131 ext:405

Posted in Buyer Information