Housing Market Hot or Not?

The housing market still appears to be going strong both in the US and in NH.  Nationally, the median sales price through Aug. was up 4.7% to $278,200 and in NH it was up 5.6% to $299,900.  A strong labor  market, low interest rates, and low inventory continue to impact housing sales by pushing up home prices.  Locally, in the towns of Newbury, New London, & Sunapee combined, sales up are up - 164 homes sold YTD through Aug. compared to 135 sold in 2018.  Avg. days on market this year is 78 days compared to 116 days last year for the 3 towns and the avg. selling price was 96% of the asking price.   Interestingly enough, in our area the median sales price through Aug. stayed about the same at $351,000 (last year it was $350,000).

While the U.S. economy at large looks positive, experts are split on whether another recession is on the horizon. However, most signs point to continued good news for the housing market. The CoreLogic HPI Forecast predicts a moderate but healthy 5.6% acceleration in annual home price growth to June 2020.  Bottom line, the housing market is really good for buyers and sellers.  Mortgage rates are low and home prices are still rising.  Contact me to work with a realtor who understands how the market impacts you!  603-526-4116; www.DonnaForest.com; Donna@DonnaForest.com.

“Word of Mouth” is the best advertisement, and we love it when you refer your friends and family to Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate - The Milestone Team.

Seven Reasons Getting Rid of Clutter Helps a House Sell Faster

Whether you bought a starter home or what you hoped would be a forever home,circumstances change. One thing that doesn’t change though, is the inevitable expansion that occurs when you become a homeowner. As time goes on, you acquire tools that need to be used just once or twice a year, like step ladders and extension ladders, lawn mowers, edgers and leaf blowers. When it’s time to sell, you may find you’ve expanded just a bit too much. Getting rid of clutter is the first thing you need to do when you’re thinking of putting your home on the market, and sadly, unless you move frequently, there are very few peoplewho don’t accumulate more than they should.

Here are seven reasons you need to get rid of that clutter to ensure a quick home sale.

1. It’s all about imagined lives

Clutter makes it hard to think.You may not think of your collection of exotic masks from your foreign travels as clutter. But let’s face it, we don’t all like the same things, and if your home is bursting with small objects, buyers can’t imagine themselves in your space. You have to make room for them and their imagined lives in what might soon be their home rather than yours. Store the highly personal collections during the selling process so buyers can see the space as theirs, and they’ll be more likely to make an immediate offer.

2. Help the potential buyer maintain focus

Extra seating, family photos and bone china tea cup collections are all distractions.You don’t want potential buyers to become so intrigued (or puzzled) by the things you’ve collected—none of which they’ll be purchasing—that they don’t actually register the house itself. You want them to look at the space,appreciate its best features and become convinced of its potential for their family. 

3. Create the illusion of space to entice buyers

By getting rid of extra seating, paring down the clothes in your closets and weeding out everything in the pantry that’s past its best-before date, you create the illusion of more space, which is always a good thing when trying to sell a home. After all, empty rooms always look bigger than rooms filled with furniture. 

Be strategic, though, and don’t leave yourself with nowhere to sit. Think of your home as wearing its Sunday best rather than sweats and a t-shirt, and if there’s a chair the cat’s clawed, the sun has faded or that needs cleaning or reupholstering, get it out of the house while potential buyers are viewing. There will be plenty of time to kick back and relax in that past-its-prime lounger when you’re moved into your new home.

4. Well-staged homes photograph better

While you might get a viewing from a drive-by or after an open house, most potential buyers these days are going to look at your house and its listing online. Good photos make all the difference here, but you’re not going to get them if you haven’t decluttered. Put the family photos away, get all the toys into the toy box, remove the gym equipment that’s migrated from the basement to other living areas and make your real estate agent’s job easier by presenting a home that shows to advantage in both photos and real life.

5. Maximize kitchen counter space

Yes, it’s a pain. But even though your family uses the toaster and blender everyday, putting them away in cupboards before viewings provides a clean slate and makes potential home buyers think about all the meals they’re going to prepare in their new home. 

If your home’s being shown to first-time home buyers, chances are good they’re looking for more space, particularly an opportunity to expand from a galley kitchen to one that has room for a table and chairs. Help them believe they’regoing to be transformed into hosts with the most when they buy your home by giving them the visual space they need.

6. Don’t borrow trouble

Cluttered homes make potential buyers uneasy. Viewing someone else’s occupied home is slightly uncomfortable for most people. Clutter is not only a distraction; it makes your home look uncared for. This can make potential buyers start to ask themselves, “if they haven’t taken care of their possessions, what other problems are brewing here?” You could lose an offer if this kind of nebulous doubt sets in.

7. Let your home show itself

Let’s face it—you’re selling your home, not the couch and coffee table. By getting rid of clutter and replacing it with neutral but stylish accessories, you lead the buyer’s eye to the features of your home that are its true selling points. That means you’re going to get a quicker sale and a higher price than if you make a potential buyer struggle to see your home’s merits.

You’ll be moving in the right direction with Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate - The Milestone Team.

What to Expect at Closing

In order to take the mystery out of the closing process for buyers, here are some basics on the process:

  • You do a walk-through the day before or morning of the closing to ensure the house is in the same general condition as when the offer was made and things are left that were supposed to be there (e.g. appliances).
  • Your lender hires a closing agent who creates a statement outlining the loan amount, loan costs, recording fees, title insurance premiums, escrows for insurance & taxes, state transfer tax, tax prorations, and the deposit.  This will show how much money you will need to bring to close. 
  • You are charged for any oil/propane/firewood/pellets left.  This may be put on the closing statement or paid by check to sellers. 
  • Be prepared to sign lots of paperwork at the actual closing!  The funds you bring should be on a bank check or previously wired to the closing agent.

Your agent will help you through this process, but knowing what to expect can alleviate many concerns.  Give me a call if you want an experienced Realtor helping you!  603-526-4116, www.DonnaForest.com, Donna@DonnaForest.com

You’ll be moving in the right direction with Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate - The Milestone Team.

5 Tips for Buying a Homes

Buying a home is one of the largest investments you will make.  Here are some tips to help you prepare:

  1. Don’t do it alone.  Use an experienced agent who can provide you with invaluable advice through the process.
  2. Get pre-qualified with a lender before going out to look.
  3. Don’t overbuy.  Look at all the expenses including heating costs, utilities, insurance, needed home repairs, etc.
  4. Check out the neighborhood at different times of the day and week before committing to buying.  Get information on the town and the schools.
  5. Think re-sale.  A house in a bad school district or on a busy street will impact the future value and limit your target audience.

 While buying a home is an emotional experience, it is a business transaction as well.  Preparing yourself in advance will help avoid costly mistakes.  Call me if you are looking for an Accredited Buyers’ Representative to help find your new home. 603-526-4116; www.DonnaForest.com; Donna@DonnaForest.com

Real estate markets are local, and we have the real scoop on ours.  Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate - The Milestone Team

Discover the Perfect Time for Buying a Vacation Home

If you’re lucky enough to have reached the time in your life when you can seriously contemplate buying a vacation home, there’s much to be excited about.  According to the National Association of Realtors, one in eight homeowners are thinking of buying a second home. While summer may be the time of year you start to think longingly about sun, sea and sand, it may not be the best time to buy a cottage.

Here are some things to consider when you’re buying a vacationhome.

Peak of season is seldom a good idea

Avoiding peak seasons makes sense in supply and demand terms. Peak season, whether you have your eye on a Vail ski chalet or a Cape Cod sea shanty, is when the area in which you’re looking is at its finest. Since vacation homes can be sentimental investments, many who’ve inherited them rent them out as additional sources of income so they can hang onto a property. They may be sharing it with siblings or have had to buy them out. They also may be part-time vacation home investment owners who got in early on a new resort but need to ensure 100 percent occupancy during peak season to make their investment pay off.

Aim for the final weeks of the high season to make your offer or hold off until just after peak season ends. If you’re looking for a summer vacation home, the time between Labor Day and Thanksgiving is the perfect window of opportunity.You’ll still take possession early enough in the year to be able to get a glimpse of what future summers can hold, and you’ll also have a chance to do any needed repairs before winter sets in. Then you can spend the winter planning what you need to do to make the place your own the following summer.

If you’re looking at a winter vacation home, spring is the best time to make an offer. While diehards may still be renting or occupying their vacation homes, hoping to get one or two more days of spring skiing or boarding in, most will have placed their properties on the market. Just be careful not to leave your offer for too late in the year if the area you’re interested in is remote. Some owners board up their properties for the off season, making it harder to get viewings. Also, don’t forget the power of spring mud. Properties accessible through three seasons may become harder to access during spring thawing and flooding.

Be sure the time is right

Before buying a vacation home, you need to think long and hard about a whole host of considerations. First and foremost is whether you will be able to use it enough to make it worthwhile for you financially. Even if you buy a vacation home and plan to rent it out to defray expenses, that means your time there will be limited. While you may love a cottage on a lake in fall, not everyone else does. If you can’t afford to spend the 4th of July at your own cottage, this may not be the time to buy.

Second, have you considered all the duplicate expenses involved? Whether you want your vacation home to mirror your principal residence in all ways, you can’t escape the fact that you’re going to need two of everything now. Unless, that is, you want to treat every weekend you spend at your vacation home like a camping trip (which may well be the case). You’re not going to want to haul lawn mowers and leaf blowers to the cottage every summer weekend. That goes double for appliances, linens and furniture. You’ll also have a second set of bills for property taxes, insurance, yard maintenance, internet and cleaning costs. In addition, there may be HOA fees, too.

Third, what are your vacation goals? If you want to visit every continent and are running out of time to tackle Asia and Africa, does a vacation property make sense? If you find you’re drawn to experiential vacations like hiking the Appalachian Trail, swimming with the dolphins or building someone else a home with Habitat for Humanity, a vacation home may be an anchor you don’t need.

On the other hand, if you know you can afford to invest in a second property and have a long-term plan to use it as a home base while you globe trot in retirement, or if you want your family to have the freedom of the great outdoors while they’re growing up, it might just be time to seize the day.

You’ll be moving in the right direction with Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate - The Milestone Team.

Source:  www.bhgre.com/bhgrelife

Six Tips for Winning a Bidding War

Given the lack of homes for sale, we often see multiple offer situations.  It pays for buyers to be prepared should they find themselves in a bidding war.  Here are some tips to help put your offer in the best position.

  • Keep contingencies to a minimum.  Decide what inspections you can live without and don’t add in extra clauses.
  • Find out the seller’s ideal closing date and use it for your closing date.
  • Keep all  contractual due dates in as short of time frame as possible. 
  • Be prepared to offer over the asking price.  Money talks and usually the higher price wins.
  • Cash offers beat offers with loan conditions.   (Unless the offered price is significantly higher than the cash offer).  Present a pre-approval letter with your offer if it is based on a loan.
  • Even though you may be getting financing, you can write the offer as a cash sale with no loan contingencies.  You must be confident you will get the loan with no issues.
  • Include a letter to the sellers explaining why you love their house. 

Bidding wars are emotionally tough as someone always loses out.  Give your best and final offer so you  have no regrets if you don’t get the home.  Contact me if you want to work with an accredited buyer’s agent to help you navigate the challenges of buying a home.  www.DonnaForest.com; Donna@DonnaForest.com; 603-526-4116

Real estate markets are local, and we have the real scoop on ours.  Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate - The Milestone Team

The Housing Market is Blooming!

It is spring in the Granite State and the housing market is in full bloom.  While we are still experiencing low inventory, buyers are out buying and multiple offers are not uncommon.  Like last year, the lack of homes to sell is impacting prices.  Statewide in the 1st quarter, the median sales price grew from $260,000 in 2018 to $280,000 in 2019, up 7.7%.   The average days on market was 80 days.  Sales statewide are down by 2.8%; again due to low inventory. 

In the combined towns of Newbury, New London, and Sunapee, 1st quarter sales are about the same.  26 homes sold in 2019; 25 sold in 2018.  The average days on market dropped to 145 days vs. 201 days in 2018.  The median sales price was $350,250 in 2019 compared to $392,000 in 2018.  The higher median sales price in 2018 can be attributed to having 3 sales over $1 million close in the 1st quarter vs. the highest sales price this year was $750,000.

The good news for home buyers is no further rate hikes are expected and the 30 yr. fixed rate mortgage is under 4.5%.  Additionally it is still a tight job market which is pushing up income.  Bottom line, it’s still a good time to be a buyer or seller so contact me to get your jump on the spring market!  603-526-4116, www.DonnaForest.com, donna@donnaforest.com

Figures are based on information from the Northern New England Real Estate Network, Inc. for the period 1/1/18 – 3/31/18 and 1/1/19 – 3/31/19.

“Word of Mouth” is the best advertisement, and we love it when you refer your friends and family to Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate - The Milestone Team.

Read the Property Disclosure Before Making an Offer!

If you are considering the purchase of a specific house, it’s best to review the seller’s property disclosure before making an offer.  While some disclosures may not be a wealth of information, usually disclosures provide pertinent facts that could impact what you are willing to spend on buying a home.  For example, if the water heater is 18 years old, you need to be aware that it will need to be replaced in the near future.  Looking at the age of the systems and the roof will help determine if you will be facing costly replacements sooner rather than later.   Check when the septic tank was last pumped.  If it hasn’t been pumped within the last 3-5 years, it could be a red flag.  Is the property located in a flood zone?  Flood insurance will be an additional expense to factor in your payments.  Reading carefully through the disclosure could provide valuable insight into future costs.  Ask questions and get clarification if something doesn’t look quite right.  Obviously a home inspection will be the best tool for gauging the condition of a home.  However, thoroughly reading the disclosure ahead of time could prevent unwelcome surprises.  Contact me to work with a buyer’s agent who will help you make the right buying decisions.  603-526-4116, www.DonnaForest.com, Donna@DonnaForest.com

Real estate markets are local, and we have the real scoop on ours.  Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate - The Milestone Team


Best Ways to Store More in Your Kitchen

No one wants their kitchen prep surfaces overtaken by clutter—but no one wants to live without their favorite kitchen appliances, either. Here’s how to have both.

Maximize under-sink storage.

Conquer your under-sink space with an simple, on-a-dime solution. Keep your most frequently used items (dish soap, dishwasher detergent, sponges and scrubbers) on a turntable for quick access.

Streamline the coffee station.

Make mornings easier with an all-in-one coffee station. Dedicate a pullout drawer next to your coffeemaker to holding filters, coffee beans and travel mugs, so brewing a fresh pot is a one-step task.

Have freezer smarts.

Stock your freezer with storage-smart ideas to make use of every inch of shelf space. Use plastic baskets (an affordable organization tool) to store foods by type, and put a labeled tag on each. Keep small adhesive labels and a permanent marker on hand to label individual containers.

Add a command center.

Built-in bins, a bulletin board and a clock turn one side of a fridge cabinet into a household command center. This simple DIY project creates instant organization and utilizes small spaces that are otherwise wasted.

Store stuff on the doors.

Attach racks to the inside of cabinet doors to boost storage options. Be sure to allow enough clearance within your cabinets to allow the door to close completely. A narrow rack is ideal for keeping small jars in order.

Fake a pantry.

Using substantial-size drawers is a smart alternative to a full-size pantry when kitchen space is limited. These drawers keep boxes and bags upright, organized and accessible.

Keep towels close.

Keep dish towels in a cabinet close to the cleanup zone. Use a pullout towel rack with more than one bar to air-dry and store towels.

Add open shelves.

Add open shelving for cookbooks, displays of attractive serving bowls and dishes, stemware, vases or baskets. Here, grouping and stacking pieces on the open shelves keeps items neat and easy to find.

Put walls to work.

Install a wire wall grid to keep kitchen tools handy. Turn a bare section of wall into a hook-and-hang center. For more storage, add accessories such as spice racks and cookbook holders.

Properly store spices.

Store spice bottles on their sides with labels visible; lay them in shallow drawers instead of stacking them. The best location for spice storage is below a cooktop or to the side of a range. The flavor of spices stored above a cooking surface might be adversely affected by the heat.

Neatly stow linens.

Run out of drawer space for towels and cloth napkins? Reach for a basket to neatly stack linens, and tuck the basket onto a shelf or inside a cabinet. A basket will help keep linen sets together and make them easy to find when you want to use them.

Divide your drawer space.

Adjustable inserts help organize flatware and other items inside your drawers. When designing custom drawer space, specify shallow drawers to store utensils one deep for easy viewing.

Try upright storage.

Store shallow items, such as cutting boards and platters, upright. Even narrow spaces next to your range or your sink can be used in this manner. Use dividers to separate items for easier retrieval.

Stow pots and pans.

Fill in the space under a cooktop with a tilt-out tray for spices and rollout trays for pots and pans. Or, slide in a movable cart with shelves to accommodate cooking equipment.

Combine storage.

Combine open and closed storage for visual interest and accessibility. An arrangement of cabinets and cubbies makes use of typically wasted space around a refrigerator.

Bring the pantry closer to you.

A pullout pantry system has wire shelf sides that prevent items from falling out and allow easy viewing of the contents. Pullout pantry systems, especially those that extend into toe-kick space near the floor, must be installed perfectly level and plumb to operate smoothly.

Customize your shelves.

If you’re installing open shelving, strategize your plan to accommodate what you’ll be storing. Professional organizers recommend measuring your stacked dishes to determine the shelf height your dishware requires.

You’ll be moving in the right direction with Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate - The Milestone Team.

Source:  www.bhgrelife.com


Did You Know?

  • The NATIONAL ASSOCIATION of REALTORS® (NAR) was formed in 1908 in response to the misuse and disorder of the real estate industry at that time.
  • The NAR adopted a Code of Ethics in 1913 to establish professional standards of conduct.
  • The Code ensures that consumers are served by requiring REALTORS® to cooperate with each other in furthering clients’ best interests.
  • REALTORS® are subject to disciplinary action and sanctions if they violate the Code of Ethics.
  • REALTORS® are required to complete ethics training every 2 years.

What does this mean to you?  When you work with a REALTOR®, you are working with someone who abides by a written Code of Ethics, based on professionalism and protection of the public.  Contact me to see why it pays to work with a REALTOR®!  603-526-4116, www.DonnaForest.com, Donna@DonnaForest.com

You’ll be moving in the right direction with Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate - The Milestone Team.