Category Archives: Home Seller

Going green can add value to your home

What is going “green” worth in Washington home real estate? If you rehab a house to exacting energy and environmental standards, or install a solar-panel array on your roof, does your house command more when you sell?

If you seal up all the energy-leaking areas in your house, install a highly efficient heating and ventilating system, new windows and a long list of other green improvements, will a future buyer pay you a premium price for your efforts?

A new study conducted by national appraisal experts says the answer most probably is yes — often tens of thousands of dollars more.

Funded by the D.C. Department of Energy and Environment and assisted by the nonprofit Institute for Market Transformation, the study employed a sophisticated “paired sale” analysis of homes sold in the District between February 2013 and June 2015.

Appraisers matched individual “high-performance” energy and resource-conserving houses against multiple homes similar in type and location but without green improvements. They then calculated the extra dollar increments buyers were willing to pay for the green features and found they ranged from $10,343 to $53,000, or an average premium of 3.46 percent. Some premiums on individual houses ranged as high as 6 percent to 7.7 percent, and were enhanced when properties had photovoltaic solar arrays to slash electricity costs.

According to the study, green features in renovations and new construction represent “a growing trend” in the District. As of September, there were 457 LEED-certified homes and 329 Energy Star homes as of August. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. LEED certification involves independent evaluation and verification that a building or an entire neighborhood meets high energy efficiency and resource conservation rating standards set by the U.S. Green Building Council. Energy Star certified homes must meet rigorous energy-savings standards prescribed by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Research published in 2015 documented strong demand for high-performance homes in the District: 18 percent of total residential sales and 29 percent of sales in the Friendship/Chevy Chase area (Zip code 20015) had one or more green features associated with the house. The high-performance homes used for paired sale analysis in the new study were scattered among neighborhoods in Northeast and Northwest and consisted of renovated older row houses, detached single-family homes and one high-rise condo unit. The median sale price was just over $693,000, though two homes sold below $500,000 and one went for $817,000.

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Perry, who teaches Latin at the National Cathedral School, says he and his wife weren’t even shopping for a house with green features. “We were mainly just looking for something that we could afford and that was old and had a good location,” Perry told me. Though they visited and considered a number of competing, non-green but comparable houses in roughly the same price category, they ultimately found the case for the Petworth property compelling.

“We were really intrigued by the solar panels and with the possibility of savings on utilities,” Perry said. The closer they looked at the green features, the more they saw: energy-efficient new windows, a commercial-grade air exchanger to keep the interior air fresh and recirculated at all times, super-heavy insulation, a heat recapture system that employs waste hot water to save on the energy costs of heating water, to name just a few. The solar array was bigger than the average system used for houses of this size and promised to cut electricity bills drastically, which it has in the months since they moved in. “We really like it,” Perry said, but he conceded that he has not quite figured out the “net metering” system that adjusts their bills based on how much energy they have been contributing to Pepco.

Even better, according to the study, Perry’s five-kilowatt photovoltaic equipment on the roof could be eligible for between five and eight Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs) per year over a three-year contract. “Over this time period, the study reported, “the SRECs are valued at $7,500. Besides the energy produced by this [solar] system, the owner may receive income for three years.”

Tanya Topolewski, a D.C.-based green real estate developer who rehabilitated and sold two of the other houses appraisers selected for the study, says it is not surprising that Perry and his wife were not shopping specifically for a high-performance house. “The vast majority of people who come to see our houses are just interested in real estate,” she said in an interview. But once they see the advantages of buying a home with extraordinary energy efficiency, fresh air 24/7 and a positive environmental impact, “it’s kind of a no-brainer.” Topolewski says creating a truly high-performance home can be daunting, especially converting old, leaky rowhouses in the District. Both of her houses in the study are certified LEED Platinum, the highest rating possible.

But, she says, “there’s quite a bit of building science involved when you do a renovation from a low-performance home to a high-performance one. This has a name, actually — a deep energy retrofit” — and it is usually not a do-it-yourself type of project.

To read the whole article at Washingtonpost.com- https://www.washingtonpost.com/realestate/going-green-can-add-value-to-your-home/2016/01/25/e24c1486-8c86-11e5-acff-673ae92ddd2b_story.html

 

 

The message to buyers: Even though you may pay a modest premium for a high-performance house, it will probably save you substantial money over a period of years in energy costs and almost certainly will be a healthier place to live.

 – Washington Post

Tracy Tkac
301-437-8722
Evers & Co.

Tracy@eversco.com
www.WashingtonHG.com

Etiquette Rules Every Home Seller Should Know

8 Unwritten Etiquette Rules Every Home Seller Should Know

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David Sacks/Getty Images

If you’re trying to sell your home, you’ve probably scrutinized it, staged it, and scrubbed it down from floorboards to rooftop as if the folks from Architectural Digest were stopping by for a cover shoot. OK, so it’s in immaculate shape—but your home isn’t the only thing under scrutiny here. You are, too! That’s right: No matter how nice your home is, your behavior can also affect how buyers feel about making an offer.

Last week we told you the secret etiquette rules that every home buyer needs to know in order to nail the deal. Today we’re focusing on the selling side of the equation. Here are the (previously) unwritten etiquette rules sellers should follow to show their home—and themselves—in the best possible light.

Leave

Sure, you’re dying to know if prospective buyers will love what you’ve done with the kitchen, but Realtors® agree sellers should not be there lurking in the shadows during an open house or showing.

“Buyers don’t feel as comfortable when the owner is at the home watching their every move,” explains Nicholas Kensington of Scottsdale Real Estate. “Get out of their way so that they can start to picture themselves living there instead of being spied on.” So take a powder. Or at least hide.

Take your pets with you

You think Humbert is the cutest labradoodle ever, but not everyone is bound to share that opinion. In addition to having allergies, some home shoppers may not be in the market for a run-in with an animal they don’t know.

“Imagine, as a buyer, having the background music set to ‘barking dog’ while you are trying to take in the home’s nuances that you, as the seller, have worked so hard to hone,” says Brenda Hayward, a Realtor with Coldwell Banker. “To say nothing of the stress it puts on your beloved pet. Take your mutt for a car ride, to the dog park, or for a long walk. It will do you both good.”

Your pooch may not love the idea of strangers paying your home a visit.

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Your pooch may not love the idea of strangers paying your home a visit.

Betty Clark, who claims an “irrational fear of birds,” says she was shocked by how many open houses she ran from due to unexpected tweeting and chirping from caged and uncaged feathered friends. Don’t alienate would-be purchasers by forcing your pets on them.

Move your car

“Make it easy for visitors to park and view the home,” Kensington notes. “No one likes parking issues. Having them is a sure way to get a viewing off to a bad start.” In fact, if potential buyers have to park a block away and walk, they may just skip taking the tour of your home. Or if they’re willing to make the hike, they may be in a lousy mood by the time they enter your home. Why risk it?

Lay out important documents

If questions arise while buyers are on the premises, it may help them decide to put in an offer that much faster if they can find answers quickly and in writing.

“Leaving necessary documents in an easy-to-find spot isn’t just good for selling, it’s also good selling etiquette,” says Kensington. “Put out the home inspection report, appraisal, home warranty, monthly bill information—gas, oil, electric—and proof of any major repairs are all good things to let people look through when they are considering buying your home.”

Offer some refreshments

House hunters can get parched and peckish. You can help!

“Putting out a few small bottled waters in a small bowl of ice is always appreciated, along with some light, easy grab-and-go sort of refreshments like mints or cookies,” says Cara Ameer, a Realtor with Coldwell Banker.

Be patient waiting for feedback

Of course, you’re dying to know what buyers thought of your home, but that information may not flow back to you instantaneously. Buyers often want to process what they’ve seen and think it over before making an offer. If one comes through, don’t worry, you’ll hear about it!

“It is reasonable to ask for feedback from your Realtor after the showing, but understand it may take a day or two for the buyer’s agent to respond,” Hayward says.

Don’t be greedy

Who doesn’t want top dollar for their home? But an unwillingness to negotiate can kill a possible deal and keep your home on the market long after you were hoping to be unpacking at your new place.

“Focusing on your bottom line is always important, but greed can lead to disaster. Remember a little of something is better than a lot of nothing. Generosity will lead you to your promise land,” says Josh Myler, a Realtor with The Agency.

Listen to the professionals

If your Realtor has some suggestions for improvements that may help sell the home faster, take them to heart but don’t take them personally.

“Don’t shoot the messenger,” says Caroline Gosselin, a Realtor with Sotheby’s Prominent Properties. “Keep emotions out and listen to what a licensed, trained, professional has to say about the house, be it a Realtor or an inspector. It’s immature and unmannerly not to be able to take criticism and be able to move on.”

By
Liz Alterman

Tracy Tkac
301-437-8722
Evers & Co.

Tracy@eversco.com
www.WashingtonHG.com

Get Ready To Sell

 

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Get Ready To Sell- in The Spring Real Estate Market

With spring being the busiest time for real estate, homeowners planning to put their homes on the market shouldn’t wait for flowers to bloom before getting ready to sell. Having a few months to prepare and getting ready, can translate into more money in your pocket.

Here are some things you can do now to get ready for a spring sale:

Clear Away the Clutter

Once your home is on the market you’ll need to keep it as neat as possible. One way to make that easier is to reduce the amount of clutter you have on your shelves and surfaces. Put away items that are regularly on your kitchen sink  and completely clear off your kitchen counter-top . Clean off your refrigerator completely and remove all but a handful of family photos,  in this case- less is more.  Pack away your collections, they may detract attention from buyers looking at your house- you want them to focus on what may be their new home . Pack away most of your books. Go through your closet and pack away or throw away or donate clothes you don’t need, making your closet look bigger and more attractive to potential buyers. While everyone has clutter, buyers want to see a fantasy version of your house, in which they can envision living.

Start Packing

It may seem premature to start packing months in advance of your move, but since you’ll eventually need to do this anyway, you might as well get organized now. You can sort through your storage closets, attic, basement or garage to determine what you want to keep, what to give away and what to sell. Also, now is the time to throw away old furniture that you don’t want to move to your new home. Boxing up items will make your space look larger and neater when it’s time to show your home. You can also get an idea of whether you need to rent a storage facility while your home is on the market.

Freshen up

While you don’t necessarily want to do a major, expensive renovation project before you sell, you can make minor repairs and improvements that will make your home look fresher to buyers. Try things such as replacing the caulk and grout in your bathroom, updating old or rusted ceiling fans and light fixtures, and changing switch plates, doorknobs and other hardware for a clean and neat appearance. Consider painting your front door and trim even if your rooms don’t need new paint. Clean your carpet and hire a professional cleaner to start a baseline and make upkeep easier.

Research Your Market

If you plan to buy another home, an important decision to make is whether to sell your home first or make an offer on a new home before putting yours on the market. A knowledgeable REALTOR can help you evaluate how fast homes are selling in your market and help you estimate how long it will take you to find a home. This decision also depends on your financing, so you may want to consult with a lender to see how you can finance the transition from one home to another if you choose not to sell your home first. Go over the listing paperwork now so you will be able negotiate commission and listing time frames.

Check out your closing cost, from Federal Title- http://closeit.federaltitle.com/

If you spend the winter months preparing for spring, you’ll find yourself ready to move fast when buyers come out of hibernation.

Tracy Tkac
301-437-8722
Evers & Co.

Tracy@eversco.com
www.WashingtonHG.com

 

 

Warm Up to Cozy Spaces

Warm Up to Cozy Spaces

It’s funny how after the holidays, living in a Winter Wonderland becomes a whole lot less wonderful. Whether you’re enduring thunderstorms, snow, or gusts of wind, snuggling up at home near a crackling fire or in your personal reading nook is the ideal way to wait out the weather.

No matter your interior style, there’s always room to add a few cozy touches. Here are some favorite ways to warm up your home design and to warm up to cozy space to face the wintry days ahead.

Fireplaces: Light up the night (or day)

There might be nothing in the world as comforting as a beautifully decorated fireplace. While it’s typical to have these fixtures in the living room or even the dining room, consider the charm of having one in your own bedroom.

The soothing crackling of a fire is the perfect way to wind down at the end of the day, and with so many styles to choose from, you’re sure to find one that fits your interior style.

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Courtesy of Mitch Wise Design, Inc.

Reading nooks: Bookworms’ paradise

Creating a little getaway within your own four walls is a fantastic way to warm up on a particularly cold day. A reading nook can inspire calm and creativity with a few simple furnishings and accessories.

Pair a fun patterned chair with an ottoman, and a unique side table to set your reading material on. Make sure you have sufficient lighting and a cozy throw blanket nearby for those days when you just want to curl up with a good book.

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Courtesy of Zillow Digs.

Window seats: Room with a view

On your day off, there’s nothing quite like sipping a cup of coffee while enjoying a beautiful view. What better way to soak up your surroundings than with comfy window seating?

Traditionally found in older homes with Victorian style, window seating is versatile and complements most styles of design. If your home is modern, consider a bright white seating display with patterned pillows. If your look is more traditional, opt for textured seating in a timeless print.

Whatever your choice, you won’t regret spending time in this cozy spot.

traditional-living-room-with-window-seat-and-banquette-seating-i_g-IStwgb30fmvu1a1000000000-YvOKk

Courtesy of Zillow Digs.

Area rugs: Keeping toes toasty

Hardwood floors are a luxury, but they can be painfully cold in the winter months. Help insulate your home with plush area rugs throughout the space for visual warmth and added coziness.

Rugs with texture like shag or a high pile offer extra comfort while walking around the house. Put one in each high-traffic area, as well as under your bed to ensure you wake up with warm feet.

Courtesy of Zillow Digs.

Courtesy of Zillow Digs.

Factors to Consider When Pricing Your Home to Sell

Unlike the cost of a gallon of milk or a flat-screen television, a home’s price can be hard to pin down. It’s complicated because each home is unique, and has its own story to tell.

When it comes to pricing your home to sell, the only thing to do is to look at the recent sales and active listings of similar homes in your area. Combine this research with the inside market knowledge of a local real estate agent, and you can confidently choose your list price.

Here are some guidelines to keep in mind when determining how much to ask for your house.

Make sure to look at recent comps

Markets change fast, so it’s best to find comparable sales within the past three months. If you go back too far, you will see homes where a deal might have been made many months before it closed.

Real estate markets can turn on a dime, so a deal put together more than six months ago isn’t applicable. Pending sales are your best indicator of the current market’s conditions.

Understand that fixtures and finishes matter

Let’s face it, buyers prefer a tastefully home renovated home with neutral finishes and fixtures over an unrenovated home, one stuck in the ’80s, or one with outlandish decorations.

When looking at comparable houses online, you must be objective. If your home isn’t updated, it’s not going to sell for as much.

Here’s the good news: The amount of money it would cost to upgrade your house is probably a lot less than the difference in value. Be open to making some small changes before listing.

No two homes are alike

The 2,000-square-foot, 3-bedroom, 2-bath home with two-car parking on a quarter acre down the street just closed for $500,000. That means your home — also a 2,000-square-foot, 3-bedroom, 2-bath house with two-car parking on a quarter acre — is also worth $500,000, right?

Not so fast. What you don’t realize is that the other home’s three bedrooms are not all on the top floor, and that the home lacks an en-suite master bathroom, its kitchen is closed off from the living areas, and the layout is choppy.

Buyers pay more for better floor plans and flow. Your home, with an open concept kitchen/living area and three bedrooms all near each other, is much more valuable.

Small nuances in the market will affect price

Understand that each comparable home requires some serious research before calling it a “comp.” A house down the block may seem like it’s the same location as yours, but it could be in a different school or tax district, which will affect its value.

A smaller home may have sold for 20 percent more than yours, but maybe it was on a double lot that could be split, which makes it more valuable to a builder or developer.

If you see a nearby home with a price that seems off the mark, there must be a reason. Dig deeper to uncover what it is, and realize that the home may not, in fact, be a comparable one.

Go see homes for sale

Rarely does anyone decide to sell overnight. Once you realize a sale is in your future, get out and see what’s in your market. Check out open houses nearby to see the interiors for yourself.

Homes you see in January will likely be pending or closed by the time you list in April. Or they may still be on the market, which is an indication of poor pricing.

Check out the different floor plans, finishes and fixtures of nearby homes for sale, and consider whether each is more or less valuable than yours.

The best seller is the informed one. So don’t rely solely on your agent’s word about a particular house, or the market in general.

Use your agent as a resource

The earlier you bring a local real estate agent into the fold, the better. Top agents tour properties regularly, and know their market inside and out. They can likely explain the seemingly inexplicable, and offer tips to help make your home more valuable.

A good agent has the inside knowledge on pending homes sales and their finger on the pulse of the market 24/7. But remember to research independently, and never rely solely on the advice of your agent.

BY BRENDON DESIMONE ON 11 JAN 2016

Tracy Tkac
301-437-8722
Evers & Co.

Tracy@eversco.com
www.WashingtonHG.com

 

Bethesda Circulator

Bethesda Circulator Route to Expand Starting Jan. 4

Popular free downtown Bethesda bus route will expand to Bradley Boulevard, Battery Lane

A Bethesda Circulator bus

A Bethesda Circulator bus

Bethesda Circulator

The free bus that runs on a loop through much of downtown Bethesda is set to expand its route to two areas known for having plenty of apartment dwellers.

The Bethesda Circulator, which is operated by the Bethesda Urban Partnership, announced Monday that its route will expand south to Bradley Boulevard and north to Battery Lane starting Jan. 4.

The expansion, which will cost Montgomery County $160,000 through the end of June, has long been planned as a way to provide access to Bethesda’s Metro station, Bethesda Row and Woodmont Triangle for those who live on the southern and northern ends of the central business district.

“The new route is a reflection of Bethesda’s growing community,” Bethesda Urban Partnership Executive Director Dave Dabney said.

Expanded-Circulator-Route-Map

In July, County Executive Ike Leggett proposed delaying the expansion until a later date as part of $51 million in budget cuts. County Council members decided against the Bethesda Circulator cut and many others, instead opting to reschedule county construction projects to make up a budget shortfall.

The free shuttle averages more than 1,200 riders per day, according to the Bethesda Urban Partnership (BUP), which took over operation of what was then the county-operated Bethesda Trolley in 2006.

 

In 2011, BUP switched out the old-school trolleys for sleek, modern buses and rebranded the operation as the Circulator. Monthly ridership on the route surpassed 30,000 trips for the first time in the history of the service in April 2014.

In October 2014, BUP launched a phone app that provides the exact locations of all buses on the route.

The 2.1-mile, 20-stop route will expand to 3.3 miles and 20 stops. There will be three buses on the route instead of two starting Jan. 4 and BUP said a bus should still arrive at each of the stops every 10 to 15 minutes.

New Battery Lane stops include near the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Rescue Squad and next to Battery Lane Park. New Bradley Boulevard stops include Strathmore Street and between Strathmore Street and Wellington Drive.

A new stop will also be set up on Wisconsin Avenue near the Bethesda post office.

A full list of the 20 stops on the new route is below:

· Bethesda Metro Station

· Old Georgetown Road near Commerce Lane (Safeway)

· Old Georgetown Road between Fairmont and St. Elmo avenues

· Old Georgetown Road between Cordell and Del Ray avenues

· Old Georgetown Road near Glenbrook Road

· Battery Lane, near Bethesda Chevy Chase Rescue Squad

· Battery Lane, adjacent to Battery Lane Park

· Rugby Avenue at Rugby Garage

· Woodmont Avenue between Cordell and St. Elmo avenues

· Woodmont and Norfolk avenues (Veterans Park)

· Woodmont Avenue across from Metropolitan Garage

· Woodmont Avenue between Edgemoor and Montgomery lanes

· Woodmont and Bethesda avenues

· Woodmont Avenue at Leland Street

· Wisconsin Avenue across from Stanford Street

· Bradley Boulevard near Strathmore Street

· Bradley Boulevard between Strathmore Street and Wellington Drive

· Arlington Road between Bradley Boulevard and Bethesda Avenue

· Arlington Road between Bethesda Avenue and Elm Street (Giant)

· Arlington Road and Montgomery Lane

by AARON KRAUT

http://www.bethesdamagazine.com/Bethesda-Beat/2015/Bethesda-Circulator-Route-to-Expand-Starting-Jan-4/

Tracy Tkac
301-437-8722
Evers & Co.

Tracy@eversco.com
www.WashingtonHG.com

Classic Christmas tree bill has goodies for ordinary homeowners – The Washington Post

Bill has goodies for ordinary homeowners – The Washington Post

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Homeowners and mortgage borrowers got early Christmas gifts from Congress in the form of tax benefits. (Alex Brandon/Associated Press)

Classic Christmas tree bill has goodies for ordinary homeowners

Homeowners and mortgage borrowers got early Christmas gifts from Congress in the form of tax benefits. (Alex Brandon/Associated Press)
By Kenneth R. Harney December 23
It’s a classic Christmas tree bill, loaded with year-end giveaways for dozens of special-interest groups and easy to mock. The $620 billion “extenders” legislative package passed by the House and Senate before the holiday recess hands out generous tax presents to all sorts of niche pleaders, from racehorse owners, motor-sports track operators, rum makers in Puerto Rico, TV and film producers and a wide assortment of others.

But don’t forget: Homeowners and mortgage borrowers also count as special interests on Capitol Hill, and this year’s Christmas tree is sprinkled with tax benefits for them as well. Some could even lower your next tax bill.

Take home improvements you made during the past year that conserve energy, such as putting in new insulation, more efficient windows or an exterior door. You may be eligible for a 10 percent tax credit on their cost, up to a maximum credit of $500. Tax credits come directly off your bottom-line federal tax bill, so a $500 credit is more valuable than a $500 deduction, which is tied to your marginal tax bracket.

The energy-efficiency credits expired at the end of 2014, but the new bill retroactively authorizes them for all of 2015 and through 2016. Industry estimates predict that homeowners will save nearly $700 million in taxes this year and next, thanks to the extension.

The federal budget bill that Congress passed along with the extenders legislation also reauthorized the biggest home energy-efficiency tax subsidy of all: the 30 percent credit for installing “renewable energy” improvements such as solar panels and wind and geothermal equipment. There is no dollar limit on what you can claim as a credit on these improvements, but the equipment must be purchased by you outright and installed on your principal residence. If you don’t own the solar panels on your roof, you don’t qualify for the credit.

Another key extension in the tax bill: Deductions for mortgage-insurance premium payments. Millions of home buyers who make down payments of less than 20 percent are charged mortgage insurance premiums or guaranty fees, whether for conventional loans (those eligible for sale to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac) or government-backed Federal Housing Administration (FHA), Veterans Affairs (VA) or Rural Housing loans backed by the Agriculture Department.
Until a few years ago, the premiums were not deductible, but the new tax bill will allow you to write off the premium payments made this past year and through 2016. This is of special importance for moderate-income buyers. If your adjusted gross income is $100,000 or less ($50,000 or less if married and filing singly), you can write off all your mortgage-insurance premium payments. Above $100,000 (or $50,000), the amounts you can deduct step down, and they ultimately zero out when your income exceeds $109,000 ($54,900).

For some homeowners, the most important provisions in the extenders bill have nothing to do with credits or deductions. For them, the reauthorization of the mortgage-debt forgiveness exception could save thousands of dollars of potential tax liability, this year and next.

Under the federal tax code, when a lender forgives or cancels a debt obligation you owe, the IRS treats the amount forgiven as ordinary income to you, taxable at the regular marginal rate. In 2007, Congress created a special exception to this rule for homeowners who had mortgage debt canceled as part of a short-sale arrangement with a lender, a foreclosure or a loan modification.

Since then the exception has been reauthorized several times and has been used by an estimated 800,000 financially distressed owners. But it expired last Dec. 31. That lapse left potentially thousands of owners who received debt cancellations during 2015 twisting in the wind, uncertain about whether that transaction might result in tax bills they could not afford. For example, an owner who participated in a short sale and had $100,000 of mortgage debt forgiven, might owe the IRS $28,000 or more.

The new extenders bill removed that uncertainty. On qualified mortgage debt cancellations completed during 2015 and 2016, short sellers and others can be assured that they won’t be hit with big tax bills. How big a deal is this? If you were or are underwater on your home mortgage and a short sale — with some amount of debt forgiveness by the lender — is the only way out, it’s a very big deal.

by Ken Harney- email address is kenharney@earthlink.net.

Washington Post

Tracy Tkac
301-437-8722
Evers & Co.

Tracy@eversco.com
www.WashingtonHG.com

The Hot (and Not) List of Home Features

The Hot (and Not) List of Home Features

fireplace2

DianaLundin/iStock

The Hot (and Not) List of Home Features

The things we consider to be must-have home features are constantly changing—less than a half-century ago, plush, “can’t see my feet” shag carpeting (in bold colors such as gold, orange, and purple) was all the rage, and kitchen appliances came in coordinating hues. A quarter-century ago there was no HGTV to tell us to knock down a wall to open up the kitchen or swap out bathroom vanities. And just a few years back, tiny homes were just, well, really small homes.

We wondered what home qualities are must-haves right now, what the up-and-comers are, and what’s heading straight for the dustbin of home features history. To find out, our data team dug deep into our millions of listings and sifted out the most commonly used phrases for home features, going back five years.

Voila!  Here are the 20 features that are most often touted in our listings. These are the stuff that home dreams are made of—a mixture of classic favorites and rising stars.

At first glance, the results aren’t too surprising. After all, who doesn’t love fireplaces and wood floors? (Well, other than those who prefer carpet, which is No. 3.)

“Rather than a barometer of trends, those are really adoption cycles,” says Javier Vivas, data analyst at realtor.com®. “It’s more about how long it takes a particular new feature to become prevalent. It’s like car technology: First you see the cutting-edge stuff in luxury cars, then it spreads into the mainstream.”

Listings have gotten ever-more detailed and adorned in recent years, and certain features appear more and more often as selling points. So popularity among listing descriptions is kind of like being listed on the S&P 500—it shows that a feature is no passing trend. For example, granite countertops, once a splurge, are now a go-to feature—they’ve shot up from being mentioned in 8% of listings in 2011 to 13% today.

Got it? Good. Let’s go home shopping! Don’t forget to bring your checkbook.

Fireplace (No. 1)

On a chilly night, nothing competes with snuggling up near a crackling fire—or maybe it’s the hissing, considering that the leading type of fireplace mentioned in 3.2% of our listings is gas. After all, it’s easy to clean and maintain and comes in some cool modern designs. Still, there’s nothing like the charm of a wood-burning fireplace, and its popularity is picking up fast.

And in total, fireplaces—wood-burning, gas, brick, stone, or kiva—are the stars of 23.8% of our listings.

Flooring: Wood (No. 2), carpet (No. 3), and tile (No. 11)

Always popular, the classic elegance of a wood floor continues to gain ground, particularly since last year. Not surprisingly, carpeting’s popularity seems to rise and fall in opposition to wood. It’s made a comeback before, but wood seems to be pulling ahead. In 2015, wood floors appeared in 15% of listing descriptions, 2 percentage points ahead of carpet.

Meanwhile, the tile floor—though never a major contender for the top spot—has slipped from No. 4 in 2011 (when it beat out walk-in closet and open floor plan) to today’s No.10. Still, it will probably hold onto its niche in humid, warm climates such as that of Florida.

Granite counter

realtor.com

Granite countertop

Granite counter (No. 4)

Once a rare luxury, granite has become more affordable and is now practically standard for anyone who gives a hoot about kitchen design. It shot to fame quickly over the past five years, making its slick presence felt in 13% of all listings. For those who think all this trendy granite craziness is on the wane, reports of its death, as Mark Twain might (or might not!) have said, are greatly exaggerated—at least according to our listings data.

Stainless-steel appliances (No. 5)

With their elegant and modern appearance fitting into almost any kitchen design, stainless-steel appliances have made their way into more and more households since the 1990s. “Stainless” is now mentioned in 9% of all listings, almost double its share of five years ago.

Open floor plan (No. 6) vs. formal dining room (No. 8)

A house divided? Not these days. Separate living rooms, dining areas, and kitchens have been edged out by the open floor plan, which knocks down or eliminates walls to create a sense of spaciousness and light.

The open floor plan has seen a rapid increase in popularity, and in 2014 it surpassed the formal dining room for the first time. In 2015, an open floor plan is the fifth most popular feature, representing 8% of listings. The much-debated open kitchen, which encompasses the dining as well as the cooking area, also made it onto the list at No. 9.

Walk-in closet

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Walk-in closet

Walk-in closet (No. 7)

In a time of over-the-top “glam rooms” dedicated to, um, getting ready, the walk-in closet is another feature that has seemingly gone from luxe to a near necessity. Stashing all your clothes in a shallow closet with hangers crammed together and no shelves? How primitive! It’s no wonder 7% of home listings mention walk-in closets as a big selling point.

Chef’s kitchen

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Gourmet kitchen

Chef’s kitchen (No. 16) vs. open kitchen (No. 10)

The kitchen used to be all business—a place to churn out meals, nothing more. Again, we’ll point the finger at TV—not just HGTV, but also the Food Network—for fueling homeowners’ desire for a kitchen worthy of a chef, featuring a center island, a large stove/oven with hood, and granite or marble counters (see No. 3).

And it’s not just for cooking, but also for hanging out while you prepare the meal—especially if you have an open kitchen, touted in 5.7% of listings. We’ll also point out that five of the top 20 home features are kitchen-related.

Garden tub

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Mesa, AZ

Garden tub (No. 20)

No, a garden tub is not set amid the lovely and fragrant rose beds so you can bathe in the open air (and get bitten by insects). The term generally refers to a wider and deeper bathtub that usually has steps but no jets. Nice! Providing a relaxing soaking experience with less cost and cleaning difficulty, the garden tub has gained popularity over the years, but it’s still a niche feature.

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We’ve talked about features that have made their way into the mainstream, but we also saw a couple that are clearly on their way out:

House with vinyl siding

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House with vinyl siding

Vinyl siding

Vinyl siding was once one of the most popular cladding choices, because it’s affordable, long-lasting, and virtually maintenance-free. But over the years it’s become something of a gauche punch line in some quarters. It’s no wonder its lead has slipped substantially in recent years, while fiber cement is gaining ground, according to PlasticsNews.com.

Oak and cherry cabinets

The last time honey oak cabinets were trending, Monica-gate was a thing, Will Smith was the prince of Bel-Air, and Y2K loomed as the biggest threat the world faced. Yes, the ’90s were particularly friendly to oak cabinetry and cherry wasn’t far behind, popularitywise, but those days are long past. Today you’ll be hard-pressed to find either in listings or in new home construction. But maple cabinets? Welcome to the future!

By
Yuqing Pan, Realtor.com

Tracy Tkac
301-437-8722
Evers & Co.

Tracy@eversco.com
www.WashingtonHG.com

Tips for First-Time Home Sellers

Selling a home is nothing like buying one. Whether you’ve been in the home for four years or 40, first-time sellers need to consider some important points before getting started. Here are some great tips for first-time home sellers.

You need the right agent

Unless you’re offering the home For Sale by Owner, you will need to sign an agreement with a real estate agent and their brokerage. You’ll also have to pay a commission. Because the agreement contractually ties you to your agent for three to six months, choosing the right one is more important this time around. Unlike when you were a buyer, you can’t simply come in and out of the market.

You’ve got to be ready to sell

In the Internet age, you only get one chance to make a first impression. Information flows more quickly than ever. If you list your home at an unrealistic price or not in the best condition, the number of days on market (or DOM) will add up — and could come back to bite you later.

Sellers who resist their agents’ pricing suggestions may not be emotionally ready to separate from their home. By overpricing it, they will self-sabotage the sale. It’s better not to list your home than to “try” at a high price or in bad condition.

DOM factors into buyers’ offers

A typical buyer looking at a listing will first notice the price and size. They will then scroll through the photos and look at the listing history. If a home has been on the market more than three months, they may think there is something wrong with it.

Or, what’s worse, when you do get serious and adjust your price or condition to what it’s really worth, buyers will penalize you for it by offering even less.

You’ll never interface with the brokerage — only your agent

The agent you choose matters more than the brokerage, although you should consider both. If you list your home with Tracy at Evers & Co.  Brokerage, Tracy  will be your only contact with the company.

Agents are independent contractors who choose to hang their license with a company whose brand and culture match their business. While a well-known or large brokerage is an important consideration for listing, if your agent is successful and someone you trust, they will do a good job no matter the brokerage.

If you get an offer, you have to move soon

Once you get an acceptable offer from a buyer and you sign the contract, the clock starts ticking toward your closing. Many sellers underestimate the amount of time it can take to list, sell and close on a home. Know your market before you list, and put a plan in place for where you’ll move when your home sells. If your market moves quickly and your agent expects the home to sell within a few weeks, it might be better to wait.

The best tips for first-time sellers is not to sell until you are ready, have a plan, know where you are going, and work with a great local agent early on. You should do what it takes to present your home in its best light and price it right.

Selling a home can be very stressful and emotional. Add on top of that packing and moving, and it’s a lot to deal with for anyone. Be sure you’re prepared before you start the process and follow the Tips for First-Time Home Sellers, ou will be happy you did.

BY BRENDON DESIMONE- Zillow http://www.zillow.com/blog/5-tips-for-first-time-home-sellers-186500/

 

301-437-8722
Evers & Co.
Tracy Tkac
Tracy@eversco.com
www.WashingtonHG.com

The Right Kitchen Island

The Right Kitchen Island

There are few better workhorses than the right kitchen island. It’s beautiful, simple, and full of storage possibilities. Offering features from scratchproof counters for chopping to hooks, rods, and bins for stowing, the kitchen island is an invaluable addition to any home.

Best of all, there’s an island option for every style and budget. Here are a few of the best.

Sink space

If you’re looking for a creative sink solution, consider installing it in the kitchen island. This setup provides a central spot to wash your hands, drain pasta, scrub dishes or rinse produce.

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Courtesy of Zillow Digs.

Tucked away

Kitchen islands usually evoke visions of huge, solid, and largely immobile countertops reserved for spacious kitchens. However, tiny islands are slowly gaining momentum and becoming popular for their mobility, slim size, and ease of access.

Take a look at islands on casters, which can be positioned where they’re most needed, then tucked in a corner or underneath a counter when not in use.

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Courtesy of Zillow Digs.

Sit and stay

Kitchen islands are great for creating an extra sitting area, especially if your kitchen or dining room lacks the space for an actual table.

Choose an extra-long kitchen island with overhang to allow for a few bar stools or tall chairs. Add some festive placemats and a few dining accessories to create a unique tablescape, and clear it all away when you need some extra workspace.

Courtesy of Zillow Digs.

Courtesy of Zillow Digs.

Careful cubbies

One of the best ways kitchen islands add to a space is by providing unique storage options. In a room so full of doors and hardware, adding small baskets, hooks, and rods can be a fun way to stow your utensils, linens, or knickknacks. Even better, you can switch out the textures and finishes to match your favorite seasonal decor.

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Courtesy of Zillow Digs.

While kitchen islands are most often used as giant cutting boards, they’ve come full circle in design and function, and have proven to be a great way to add substance and style to any kitchen design. Take a look at your space, define your personal style, and determine your needs to find your perfect island oasis.

Courtesy of Zillow Digs.Courtesy of Zillow Digs.

BY KERRIE KELLY

http://www.zillow.com/blog/how-to-pick-the-right-kitchen-island-187598/

Tracy Tkac
301-437-8722
Evers & Co.

Tracy@eversco.com
www.WashingtonHG.com