10 Things Today’s Buyers Look for in a Home

buying-a-home-200x200While David Letterman’s Top 10 lists generally culminate in a No. 1 ranking, the following list includes in no particular order 10 things that are important to buyers today, especially Millennials who represent a significant buyer niche in today’s market.

  1. Quality of the neighborhood – The National Association of Realtor’s 2012 Profile of Buyers and Sellers revealed that neighborhoods are really important to buyers, but that neighborhood choice varies by household composition.
  2. Convenience to job – Commuting is a necessary evil, but homes that are close to work enhance work-life balance, a growing priority for many Americans, especially Millennials.
  3. Overall affordability of homes – With job markets tight and retirement funds depleted or eroded thanks to the great Recession, it has never been more important to keep housing related costs as low as possible, ideally no more than one third of your pre-tax income.
  4. Quality of schools – A recent survey by realtor.com revealed that nearly 45 percent of today’s buyers are willing to pay a premium for quality schools
  5. Homes suited for the next 15 years – Just five years ago, buyers were looking to stay in their home about 10 years.  Today, buyers expect to stay closer to 15, so it’s important to find a home that can support lifestyles as they evolve through that time period.
  6. A mortgage – In today’s tight credit environment, getting a mortgage can be a challenge. Buyers should be willing to consider homes below what they may quality for in order to bump up the loan to value ratio.
  7. Energy efficiency – The National Association of Homebuilders surveyed buyers to see what was most important to them in new home construction and energy efficiency topped the list.  Four of the top most wanted features involve saving energy: 94 percent of home buyers want energy-star rated appliances, 91 percent want an energy-star rating for the whole home, 89 percent want energy-star rated windows, and 88 percent want ceiling fans.
  8. Open floor plans – Spaces that are great for entertaining mean quality time with friends and family, something especially important to Gen Y.
  9. High ceilings – Taller ceilings are not only aesthetically pleasing in that they impart a grandness to the home, they also promote greater air circulation and more natural light than lower ceilings.
  10. Technology – Can you run your home from a cell phone? Then market to a Millennial, who prizes a homes’ technological amenities prized over curb appeal.

What are YOU looking for in a home?  Did we leave something off the list?  Let us know by leaving us a comment!

 

This post was originally publishe don the ERA Real Estate Blog, Owning the Fence.

 

How to Choose the Right Neighborhood

iStock_000008565124XSmall-300x198Here are some great tips from Realtor.com for finding the perfect neighborhood when you are searching for a new home.

Any good Realtor will share the mantra, “location, location, location” when talking about the attributes that help a home hold its value and potentially appreciate. However, no one neighborhood is right for every buyer. Determining which community meets your needs and your budget requires research and some soul searching about your priorities.

Establish Your Priorities
Before a Realtor can begin to help you look for a home, you (and your spouse or partner) should develop a list of needs and wants. For some buyers, the home itself is of paramount importance: they want a particular style or size or a big yard. For others, the neighborhood is more important. If you have an unlimited budget you may be able to find the perfect home in a desirable neighborhood, but since most buyers need to meet a budget, you may have to compromise on either the house or the community.

Next, think about what amenities you’d like to have nearby or whether you’d like to live in a rural area without neighbors. If you like to swim or golf or play soccer or your kids do, facilities for those sports should be on the list of things you look for in a neighborhood. On the other hand, you could be more focused on easy access to cultural amenities or nightlife. Think about whether you’d like to live in place where residents interact often or whether you prefer to have cordial but distant relationships with your neighbors.

Schools Matter – Even If You Don’t Have Kids
If you have children or are planning to have a family in the future, buying a home in a community with good schools is already likely to be a priority. Even if you don’t have children to educate, though, you should be aware that homes located in a good school district typically hold onto their value better than those in less highly regarded districts. In fact, Redfin real estate company completed a nationwide study in 2013 that shows that Americans pay $50 per square foot more for homes served by a top-ranked school than for homes served by an average-ranked school.

The Fair Housing Act prevents Realtors from providing information directly to buyers about specific schools, but they can share links to websites that rate schools and to local school systems.

Transportation Issues
A major consideration for most home buyers when it comes to choosing where to live is how they’ll get to the places they go regularly. In communities near or in a city, prime locations are typically close to public transit options. Many suburban communities are being designed around a “town center” concept so that residents can walk to restaurants, shops and entertainment and sometimes even to work.

When you’re looking for a home, you should consider how convenient it is for you and for future potential buyers when you’re ready to sell.

Homes that are located close to a subway station or to popular commuter routes are often more costly than those that require a longer commute to a city center, so ask your Realtor to show you areas that may have similar attributes but are less expensive. Alternatively, if living in a particular neighborhood is your number one priority, you may need to compromise in terms of the size home you buy or its condition.

How to Compare Communities
It’s important to visit a prospective neighborhood at various times of day and on both weekdays and weekends to get a feel for what it would be like to live there. Look at how the homes are maintained to see if they meet your standards. Try to talk to residents about what the community is like and test out your commute at the time of day you typically go to work.

Finding the right neighborhood takes some legwork, but it’s important to choose a place to live where you want to come home every night.

Still have questions on which neighborhood best meets your needs? That’s where the expertise of a team of agents who live, work, and play in the area comes in! Check out www.PetersenPartners.com for more information on neighborhoods around Cobb County.

7 Quick and Easy Ways to Add Curb Appeal

Front Yard Steps to HomeIf you’ve decided to sell your house but don’t have much of a budget for improvements to help lure buyers, there are still a host of things you can do so your home will make a great first impression. A favorable first impression begins with curb appeal.

In today’s fast-paced world of web sites, texts, tweets, and “likes,” grabbing someone’s attention is key to selling your house. While it takes some effort, it can be done … and is essential. There are many things sellers can do to improve that first impression and enhance curb appeal. Many are simple and don’t take much time — or  money. The list includes:

1.   Keeping up on your landscaping. Make sure the lawn is mowed and bushes and hedges are tidy. If you’re selling in the fall, you need to stay on top of cleaning up the leaves. Trim trees. Make sure you can view your house from the street and it isn’t covered by trees in photographs.

2.   Clearing the clutter. Let buyers have an unobstructed view of the house. Try to avoid parking your vehicles in the driveway or on the street in front of the house. Have the kids keep their bikes and scooters in the garage and not on the walkway up to the house.

3.   Sprucing up your door. At the least, clean it.  Painting it is a low-cost way to add a special pop. If the door is in bad shape, you might want to consider replacing it.

4.   Cleaning the windows. Powerwash the glass to keep it sparkling. Nothing can drag down the look of a house like dirty windows.

5.   Adding some easy color. Go to the local nursery and grab some colorful annuals – think bright hues of red, yellow, and purple. Plant a few bursts of color in strategic spots — such as along the walk way or spots that are visible from the main street. Plant clusters in containers to flank the front door.

6.   Lighting it up outdoors. There’s a chance potential buyers will cruise by for a look at the house at night. Make sure you have your outdoor lights on. Also, some strategic landscape lighting is always a nice touch.

7.   If you can afford it, paint the house. It’s amazing how much a fresh coat will improve the appearance.

– See more at: http://realtybiznews.com/7-quick-and-easy-ways-to-add-curb-appeal/98722655/#sthash.T6CZmXvh.dpuf

Refresh Your Home on a Dime

101952528.jpg.rendition.largestMaybe you’re ready to put your home on the market? Or maybe you’re just looking forward to spring and getting cabin fever. Whether you want a weekend update or an on-the-cheap makeover, you’ll love this collection of quick, wallet-friendly ideas to elevate your home’s style and function. Learn the secrets to improving every room, and you’ll see that even the simplest of add-ons can make a major difference. Better Homes and Gardens Magazine offers great tips for refreshing your home on a dime.

These 20 improvements may not cost a lot, but they’ll make a bug difference in how your home functions. From adding trim work or swapping out switch plates and door hardware to changing out a window treatment or spray-painting a piece of old furniture, you can easily complete one or more of these projects this weekend.

Feels like your kids’ toys exploded all over your home? Like dust bunnies, toys seem to multiply when you’re not looking. This is particularly true during and after the holidays, when children have lots of time on their hands to place with new toys and rediscover old ones. Tired looking rooms adding to the dreary feeling winter often invites? Or maybe it’s just that your furniture has seen better days? Kitchen chaos, a disorganized hall closet, and even a boring entry can seem overwhelming and embarrassing. Check out these household spruce-ups that will get your home looking company-ready in no time.

 

Add Color to Your Kitchen

101694150.jpg.rendition.largestGive your kitchen a beauty boost with a fresh dose of color. Paint is an easy way to transform cabinets, an island, and so much more. Try a new hue on the walls, a colorful tile back splash or just add some colorful accents. Check out these pretty and colorful kitchens from Better Homes and Gardens magazine.

Try the free Color Finder tool to help you find the perfect kitchen color before you pick up a brush.

Still can’t decide? Here’s some color combinations to consider…

Orange and Green: Bring your kitchen to life with this energetic duo. Juicy citrus hues are the latest trend in kitchen design, perhaps due in part to Pantone naming zippy “Tangerine Tango” its color of the year for 2012. These bold tones are perfectly suited to the aesthetics of Craftsman-style homes because they pair well with rich brown woodwork. They can also provide lively punctuations against the austere backdrop of minimal modern design.

Red and Yellow: This regal combination has been popular in Europe for generations. Pair a deep red with muted golden yellow to evoke the sense of a stately English manor, a relaxed French country cottage, or a beautiful Tuscan villa. To make your kitchen feel larger, use yellow as the room’s anchor color (lighter colors visually expand space), and then use red accents to punctuate the design. Checked, striped, and floral patterns are popular in this style, as are fringe and other embellishments.
Blue and Brown: This color combo has universal appeal. For modern or transitional homes, pair chocolate brown with crisp sky blue, and throw in a few bright accent colors for pop. In a country kitchen, pick robin’s egg blue and wheat brown, and then layer on cream-color accents for a warm and cozy look. To give the duo a traditional feeling, choose deep shades of both colors and break up the dark tones with crisp white and rich gold accents.
Gray and Anything: Gray is gaining ground on white as the new go-to neutral for a contemporary kitchen. Create a sense of calm by using gray for a background color for black, white, or brown cabinets (yes, even brown and gray make great partners). To keep with the relaxed feeling, pepper the space with accents in a cool blue or soft green. To make the room more vibrant, introduce a bright accent color — the sky is the limit, as gray pairs well with almost every bold color, from pink to yellow.

5 Tips for Preventing Moving ID Theft

Moving can be an overwhelming experience even when it goes smoothly. Unfortunately, it can also create opportunities for enterprising criminals. Make sure to protect your identity amidst the shuffle by following these smart steps:

1)   Change your address with all the companies, financial institutions, magazines, and other organizations that regularly send you mail. Identity theft is often carried out by stealing mail. The people who move into your old residence wont’ necessarily steal your identity, but they will most likely throw mail that isn’t theirs away, and they won’t necessarily take the care to shred it as you would. Prior to your move, change your mailing address through the United States Postal Service. You can even choose the date you want the change to take effect, so feel free to do this task early and cross it off your list.

2)   Shed and shred. Moving creates a good opportunity to get rid of things you no longer need, including old documents. But don’t just throw them away, shred sensitive personal documents you don’t need to keep.

3)   Keep physical tabs on your identity. Regardless of whether you move yourself or use a moving company, keep your important documents with you in a secure place. When it comes to your identity, a filing cabinet in a trailer just isn’t secure enough.

4)   Always keep the security of your identity in mind. Hire only a reputable moving company. After all, you are inviting them into your home. And, if your movers are going to pack your belongings for you, secure your important documents prior to their arrival.

5)   Manage your technology inventory closely. Many households now include multiple computers, mobile phones, tables, and other devices storing sensitive information. It would be easy for one to be inadvertently misplaces, or purposely stolen. Make sure your devices are securely packed in unmarked packaging, and that they are locked with strong passwords.

Taking these small steps before and after a big move will not only give you piece of mind, it will help go a long way to ensuring the safety of you and your family in the long run.

 

Original post on http://rismedia.com/2013-08-25/5-tips-for-preventing-moving-id-theft/