Housing Outlook for 2019

I recently attended the National Association of Realtors (NAR) conference in Boston.  Lawrence Yun, chief economist for NAR, presented his 2019 housing forecast at this convention.  Below are some of the key points.

  • 2017 had the highest home sales activity in 10 years.  While many realtors feel they are currently experiencing a “slow down”, the reality is total sales in 2018 are only down 1.5% YTD compared to 2017. 
  • Typically, rising interest rates would impact home sales, however, as we are in a period of job growth and low unemployment, this cancels out the impact of higher rates.  2019 is predicted to be similar to 2018, with sales forecasted for a 1% increase.
  • The national median home price is expected to rise 3.1% to $266,800 in 2019.
  • Low supply could continue to suppress sales, especially for first time buyers.
  • The US is experiencing historically normal levels of affordability but buyers may be staying out of the market because of perceived problems with affordability. 

 Bottom line, Dr. Yun forecasts 2019 home sales to be stable and similar to 2018, with continued growth in sales prices.  Contact me if you want to work with a realtor who stays on top of trends and issues facing buyer and sellers today!  603-526-4116, Donna@DonnaForest.com, www.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.

How to Prepare Your Home for Photos

Having great online photos is the key to selling your house quickly.  Below are some must do’s before the photographer arrives.

  • Clean & clear kitchen and bathroom counters
  • Replace burned out light bulbs
  • Remove unnecessary furniture & décor
  • Clear refrigerator of magnets, etc.
  • Remove floor mats, runners
  • Make all beds, fluff pillows, clear off nightstands & dressers
  • Remove heavy drapes and unnecessary curtains
  • Hide pet bowls, beds, toys
  • Tidy the yard, sweep the decks, hide trash cans
  • Remove all cars from the driveway

Remember, your goal is to go for the HGTV look.  Light, clean, decluttered.  Making your house look as appealing as possible will translate to more money in your pocket.  Contact me for more valuable tips on prepping your home for sale.  Donna@DonnaForest.com, www.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

Five Tips to Avoid Last Minute Stress

Selling and in the throes of packing and moving?  Below are some tips to help get through those final days to avoid creating work for yourself at the last minute. 

  • Don’t leave personal items unless buyers agreed to it.  While you may think you are doing them a favor by leaving the bar stools, the buyers could view it differently.  You don’t want to be coming back to remove things right before the closing.  Always check first.
  • Leftover paint, tile, & cleaning supplies.  All useful for the new owners, right?  Confirm that buyers want it left.  It’s not easy to get rid of this stuff at the last minute. 
  • You may be closing in a week, but you still need to maintain the yard.  Having buyers pull up to a house with foot high grass to do their walk-through inspection could be contentious.
  • Be sure to understand what stays with the house.  Check with your agent before removing anything attached.  For example, hooks, shelves, blinds, light fixtures, & TV brackets should be left unless specified otherwise.
  • Don’t leave multiple holes in the walls where pictures hung.  Take a few minutes to spackle and paint.

Thinking of selling? Contact me and put my 24 years of real estate knowledge to work for you!  603-526-4116, www.DonnaForest.com, Donna@DonnaForest.com

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Who Gets the Money?

In a contract, deposits are required to show the sincerity and strength of the buyer's intent to purchase as well as to potentially provide liquidated damages to sellers in case of default.  Sellers sometimes eye these funds as money in their pocket and assume that the deposit will just be handed over to them if the buyer defaults or cancels the contract.  In reality, there are many legal ways for a buyer to cancel a contract, so odds are slim to see an actual default.  Also, a release form has to be signed by both seller AND buyer.  This release allows the money to be withdrawn from the escrow account and distributed appropriately.  The chances of the buyer just signing over thousands of dollars without an argument are slight.  If both parties won't agree to sign, the process could end up in mediation or court.  To avoid this situation, it's always best to find compromises that help resolve disputes as amicably as possible.  

Give me a call if you are looking for an experienced REALTOR that will help your sale move forward and avoid costly litigation.  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 ROI on Home Projects?

Every year Remodeling Magazine publishes research on the average return on investment (ROI) on 20 popular home projects in 149 markets across the US.  The 2018 report found overall you make back only about 56% of the money spent on renovations.  This is down from the last two years where the expectation was at 64%.  Of course the ROI varies with the project.  In the New England markets, new garage doors have the highest ROI at 99%, followed by siding replacement at 80% and vinyl windows replacements at 75%.  Enhancing curb appeal provides higher payback than interior projects.

Spending money on a house does not mean it automatically goes up in equal value.  Putting on a $10k roof won't increase the worth of a home by $10k.  Buyers expect to purchase a home with a roof that has a reasonable life expectancy.  There is a difference between maintenance and enhancement.  Bottom line, if you are thinking of selling, replace or repair is better than adding rooms or doing major remodels.  Contact me for sound advice on where to spend your money when getting ready to sell!  603-526-4116, Donna@DonnaForest.com, www.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 Deadly Sins of Selling

  • Overpricing – Even in a good market, a house priced too high will just sit.
  • Not Prepping Home – Decluttering, depersonalizing, cleaning.  All a must do before selling.
  • Neglecting Curb Appeal – First impressions count.  And you don’t get a second chance at enticing buyers.
  • Ignoring Repairs – Poor maintenance will leave buyers wondering what else is wrong with the house.  And can be deal killers when the home inspection is done.
  • Being Emotional – When a house goes on the market it becomes a commodity and not your home.  Making decisions based on emotions will cost you.
  • Taking Offense at Low Offers – Buyers are trying to buy at the lowest price they can.  An offer is most always a starting point for negotiations.
  • Not Hiring a Professional – It’s a fact For Sale by Owners end up selling for less than if they hired a realtor.

If you are thinking of selling and looking for expert guidance throughout the process, then contact me – a certified Seller Representative Specialist!  603-526-4116, Donna@DonnaForest.com, www.DonnaForest.com

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

Home Exterior Design Ideas for Transforming an Outdoor Space

Curb appeal is important for many homeowners who want to feel good about where they live or attract a new buyer. Whether you want to freshen up a home you’ve owned for years or plan on selling, here are some exterior makeovers you can give without spending a fortune. Focus on designs that make a big impact.

A fresh coat of paint

Outdated brick and worn concrete rejuvenate with lighter paint selections. For shutters, window casings, eaves and the front door, consider khaki in a shade just a bit darker than the house.

A makeover for focal points

Thoughtful improvements like an updated roof, glass front door or new windows can make a vast difference. Consider also revamping your pathways and planters. Create a focal point with landscaping for one of the easiest and most effective ways to transform a house from blah to beautiful.

Accentuate the positives

If you have a charmer hidden under overgrown shrubs, bushes and trees, clear away the clutter to allow the home’s frame to speak volumes. Reveal a stunner simply by getting rid of anything in the way of the authentic style of your home. Doing a bit of research into your home’s beginnings may offer some ideas for enhancing its character.

Showcase your entryway

Create visual appeal and a welcoming environment by showcasing the entryway. Go with a new color for your door, add an inexpensive portico or tear down one that hides your home. New garden beds around the entrance warm up a bland exterior. Clustering plants along your home’s foundation near the entryway ties in the natural surroundings and makes it more welcoming. Make the most of the grand entrance to your house.

Green up the walls

Choose decorative vines or crawling foliage with fruits and vegetables. This is a great way to develop a formal look for your exterior or maximize space for a garden. The key to growing on your home’s walls is using an anchoring system that works with your siding and keeps plants from rubbing against the walls or adhering to them. This can damage your house and your vertical garden. Blend landscaping into your home by growing plants up the sides of walls.

Soften hardscapes

Large slabs of stone on a patio or steps can look handsome or cold. Take the edge off by surrounding them with small-leaved ground covering like deadnettle or creeping thyme. Plant crawling ground cover around rock edges and in between pavers. It’ll add warmth and color contrast, and offer an aesthetic that says “natural” instead of “ignored.”

Expand or add a deck or porch

By expanding or adding a deck or porch, you can make your exterior a haven for relaxing and gathering. Think about how you can craft an outdoor living space that works year-round. For instance, include built-in benches with storage, plenty of space for flowers and seasonal greenery, pull-down clear porch curtains to keep the elements out, and maybe even a firepit to warm things up.

Working with local home exterior design professionals or contractors can make the job of revamping your exterior much easier. But, if you have the time and motivation to attack the project yourself, it can be truly rewarding.

Teamwork from the Team that works –Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate - The Milestone Team

5 Basics of Home Maintenance to Make an Old Home Feel Like New

New homes are fresh and sparkling, but over time, they begin to show their age. If you want to keep your home feeling like new as each year passes, it’s important to keep up with proper maintenance tasks. Here are a few budget-friendly and DIY ideas to keep your home in fresh condition year after year.

1. Regular Cleaning

Normal cleaning tasks like sweeping, mopping, and dusting are important, but to really keep your home looking shiny and new, it’s important to remember deep cleaning tasks, as well.

Steam clean your carpets at least once a quarter, and don’t forget to vacuum and steam your furniture at the same time. When you dust, reach for areas like ceiling fans, wall corners, and the inside of cabinets. Thorough deep cleaning on a regular basis makes all the difference when you’re trying to keep your home looking fresh.

2. Seal Your Floors

When your floors are first installed, they have a layer of sealant. What most people don’t know, though, is that this sealant wears down over time from regular use and routine cleaning. Instead of replacing your floor, you should strip the finish and apply a new sealant roughly every five to ten years.

Sealants are made for the majority of hard floor surfaces, from tile and hardwood to vinyl and linoleum. Removing the old finish and adding the new one is a labor-intensive process, but the results are well worth the effort.

3. Paint Everything

There are many surfaces in your home that need regular paint touch-ups. Your walls may look outdated after just a few years, while cabinets and trim need updating every decade.

You can paint each room or item on a certain schedule or pay professionals to tackle the whole job at once. To make the colors stay current longer, stick to a neutral palette. It’s easy for bold colors to become outdated quickly. Grays, tans, and beiges fit a variety of design schemes and almost never go out of style.

4. Corral the Clutter

The longer you stay in a home, the more clutter and home decor you’ll unknowingly acquire. Most new homes feel more open and inviting because there aren’t as many items lying around. To keep your home feeling new, keep your belongings culled down and organized. Use space saving methods for an easy storage solution.

There are two ways to keep up with this decluttering task: scheduled or ongoing. You can set a regular schedule and keep to it. Many people choose to clean out twice a year, once after the New Year and once during the fall. Others like to declutter on an ongoing basis. You can organize each Friday, for example, or make a rule that nothing new comes into your home without something old leaving. It doesn’t matter which method you use, just as long as you keep the clutter to a minimum.

5. Maintain the HVAC System

Dust makes a home look old faster than anything else. It accumulates everywhere, and it makes your space smell musty and outdated. Your home’s HVAC system is the biggest culprit when it comes to pushing dust around. To rid this problem, regularly clean your air vents, and replace your filters every month to keep them energy efficient and fully functioning. You should also hire a professional to clean your HVAC system and duct work at least once or twice a year.

The best way to keep your home feeling new is to keep up with ongoing maintenance tasks. If you stick to a regular maintenance schedule with tasks like these, your home will feel fresh and new for many years to come.

Source:  www.bhgrelife.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.

Spiff it Up! Hoe It Out!

Picture this – you’re getting ready to sell or trade-in your old car.  What do you do?  Common sense says you get rid of the years of accumulated stuff, clean it up and make necessary repairs.  Why?  First of all, no buyer wants to look at a car full of your things.  And secondly, you want to maximize how much you can make on the sale by getting it in good condition.  In fact, you may even take it to a car detailer.  Well, the same holds true when you are ready to sell your house.   In order to attract buyers and get the most money for what is probably your largest investment, you need to de-clutter and de-personalize your home and neutralize your décor.  The house should be shiny clean from top to bottom including windows. And everything should be in good working order and up to snuff.  Hiring a home stager would up the rewards, just like a car detailer.  While it is hard to make the leap from living in your home to living in a house ready for the market, it will be time and money well spent with shorter days on market and more money in your pocket at the end!  If you are thinking of selling this spring, contact me for more selling advice.  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

4 Ways to Create the Effect of a Luxurious Bathroom Makeover

You always know a luxurious bathroom when you see one. It sparkles, shines and looks like something straight out of Better Homes and Gardens magazine. However, a luxurious bathroom makeover doesn’t have to be expensive. You can increase the value of your home and achieve the effects of a luxury makeover by implementing these unique, budget-savvy renovation tips.

1. Pay Attention to the Decorative Details
The details in your bathroom make a powerful statement. Ignoring them can make the space look mediocre and plain. To achieve the effect of a luxurious bathroom on a budget, place importance on the small things instead of large, costly items.

Ornamental items, such as artwork, statues, candles and other décor can change the appeal of the entire space. Think about the tones that are often associated with luxury, such as gold, silver, chrome and sparkling, shiny elements. Focusing your decorative details on fancy materials and colors will add a spark of luxury.

Additionally, the color of your bathroom holds great power, as it can create an astonishing visual effect that impacts the ambiance. Keep this in mind when choosing decorative elements.

2. Add Character with an Accent Wall
If you’re not looking to do a complete renovation, focus your luxury design aspirations on an accent wall. Pick one wall and add crucial details that will take your bathroom to the next level of luxury.

Finishes and textures can be expensive if you’re adding them to the entire room. They’ll also blend in rather than making the powerful statement you want to achieve. An accent wall is an affordable way to add impact.

Add textured wallpaper that has the appearance of luxury materials, such as stone or marble. It’ll instantly add dimension and elegance into the space.

Match luxury finishes to your accent wall to create the effect of a luxurious bathroom makeover. Add large decorative details such as mirrors with a gold frame, or large art pieces that will turn a plain wall into a masterpiece.

3. Natural Materials are Timeless and Luxurious
If you look at any luxury bathroom, you’ll see one common element – almost all of them incorporate natural materials into the space. Whether it’s on the walls, floors or in the small details, fancy spaces take advantage of natural aesthetics. They’re timeless, elegant and can instantly increase the value and style of your bathroom.

Marble and onyx are certainly among the top natural materials used in luxury bathrooms. However, they’re also among the most expensive options. The good news is that any natural material will work wonders when trying to achieve a fancy ambiance.

New wood flooring, wooden vines and green plants can add a spark of nature, ambiance and luxury into the space for a fraction of the cost. You receive all the benefits of luxury without the big price tag.

4. Lighting is Everything
If there’s one thing you’ll continuously hear associated with flawless interior design, it’s lighting. Lighting holds the power within any space. It can make a small room appear larger, a dark room appear livelier and a boring room appear more luxurious. Lighting affects the ambiance and design of your home, which is why it’s so important when creating the effect of a luxurious bathroom makeover.

There are two options available. You can go grand and extravagant with large, statement light fixtures, or you can go with a subtler approach and use strategically placed accent lights. Both will have a similar affect when used properly.

Large light fixtures such as a gold-toned chandelier will achieve a powerful statement of luxury, while spotlights throughout the space offer a sweet, softer glow.

Since the bathroom is one of the most important rooms in your home, it’s time to give yours a little TLC. Bathrooms are a huge selling point when you decide to list your home. Create the effect of a luxurious bathroom with these home decorating tips, and increase the value, aesthetics and enjoyment of your home.

Source:  www.bhgrelife.com

Teamwork from the Team that works –Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate - The Milestone Team