Top 10 features in new homes March 25th, 2013
New construction is hot in Lincoln. People looking for new construction typically have some features in mind that they want in a new house. Here are the top 10:
- An open floor plan. Most people just seem to love going into a new house and seeing the living room and the kitchen as one big area. Most seem to want the ability to be in the kitchen and visit with someone in the great room at the same time.
- A large kitchen with a walk-in pantry and granite countertops. The kitchen is often the focal point of the entire house and new home buyers want their kitchen to stand out. Granite countertops are wildly popular as they make kitchens look richer. A walk-in pantry provides sufficient space for items that won’t fit in the kitchen cabinets.
- A mud room. Most new construction homes are built with a mud room. Typically this is the first room you enter when walking into the home through the garage. Also called a “drop zone,” it is a great place to leave coats, shoes and other items carried into the house. Most have cubby holes or lockers for coats or at least coat hooks. That makes it easy to grab your coat and run when you leave the house. Many times this room also doubles as the laundry room.
- A master suite. This consists of a large master bedroom with a master bath that includes a walk-in tiled shower, a jetted or soaker tub and a double sink vanity. The walk-in master closet can either be off the bedroom itself or the bathroom.
- A large rec-room in the finished basement. A finished rec-room gives a family double the living space and serves as a place to kick back and relax. It’s a great place for a large flat screen television and casual and comfy furniture.
- Plenty of storage. Let’s face it – people have “stuff” and they need places to put it. Much new construction today leaves large unfinished spaces – usually where the furnace and water heater are – for storage.
- Great floors – wood, tile – anything but vinyl. Wood flooring in the kitchen and dining area is fairly standard today in most new construction. Many people are even eschewing carpet in the great room in favor of wood floors. Wood colors range from light to dark and all provide a look of richness. Tile is demanded in bathrooms, laundry rooms and entry ways where wood is not present.
- Well-placed laundry rooms. Laundry rooms no longer are relegated to the basement. In newer homes, they are expected to be on the main level or even on the upper level by the bedrooms in two-story houses. It’s a convenience thing – people just don’t want to carry laundry to and from the basement anymore.
- Three-car (and even bigger) garages. You will notice that the majority of newly-built homes today have three car garages. Builders understand that families have multiple cars today and single and double garages just aren’t big enough.
- Covered deck. Who doesn’t like a deck in their back yard – even more so when it has a roof over it. A covered deck gives people a great outdoor living space.
Posted by Lori Black
Everything Counts! February 11th, 2013
When it’s time to put your house on the market, you’ll want to prepare. After all, the way you live every day in your house is much different than marketing a home for sale. (There’s nothing wrong with that, either! Day to day, we don’t need to be focused on maintaining a spotless house – there’s just not enough time for that!)
But how far do you go? You can’t do everything, right? While you may need to pick and choose your projects, I can tell you that everything counts! Clean the top of the refrigerator? Yes. The paint spills on the trim boards? Buyers will notice. Sweep the front steps and clean the leaves out of the window wells? Definitely.
Here’s the truth – buyers will notice everything. In fact, they’re looking for stuff like that. Perception is reality to them, and they’re looking for clues. If they see enough ‘little things’ that aren’t done, they assume there are bigger things that also haven’t been done. Fair or unfair, that’s how they think – and if they see enough little things, you won’t get a second chance to make a good first impression.
Here are some easy and basic things you can do when you’re preparing your home:
- Let the light in. If you’ve got heavy curtains or shades, you might consider taking them down, or putting up something lighter.
- Turn the lights on. Even with plenty of sunlight streaming in, let the buyers see the house. Consider using timers for evening showings when it might be darker.
- Clean off the fridge. Yes, dust the top, but also take down grocery lists, wedding invitations, homework, pictures, and everything else. Wipe down the inside, too.
- Sweep the floors and vacuum the carpets.
- Clean the kitchen. The kitchen is usually going to make or break the sale, so make sure it’s clean! The counters should be wiped off, and the sink and faucet should really shine. No dishes in the sink, and only necessary items on the counters (2 or 3 at most!)
- Close the toilet seats.
- Clean the bathrooms. Don’t forget to wipe the mirrors. Toothbrushes/toothpaste and shaving items should all be stowed out of sight, too.
- Clean the windows. This is especially true if you’ve got older windows – you may not replace them, but they must be clean.
- Make the beds. Put laundry away. Toys should be organized and put away.
- Pets should be gone, but if that absolutely can’t happen, they need to be kenneled.
Pretty basic, I know, but you’d be surprised how often some of these items are neglected. And they do matter – remember, buyers are looking at this stuff, and all of it forms their overall impression of the house. Too many marks on their mental checklist, and they’re on to the next house.
The good news is that you can take care of that entire list for no cost! Sometimes, though, the house may require you to spend some money to get it ready. That’s another article for another day!
Posted by Jon Rademacher
Special offer on Williamsburg home June 14th, 2012
For a limited time only, the Seller of this spectacular Williamsburg home at 3801 Old Dominion Ct in Lincoln, NE, will seriously consider all formal offers with a purchase price of $470,000 or higher. This stunning property is currently priced at $499,000 and is well worth the price – the home was recently assessed at $517,900!
Located in one of Lincoln’s most prestigious developments, this stunning home is better than new and features a fabulous open floor plan, gourmet kitchen with granite counters, double ovens, custom cherry cabinetry and a large walk-in pantry. In addition, you’ll find a spacious master suite, 3 additional large bedrooms, an office or study space and a beautifully finished basement and amazing landscaping.
Public Open Houses will be held on:
Saturday, June 16, 2012 1:00 to 3:00pm
Sunday, June 17, 2012 3:00 to 5:00pm
Posted by Bruce Hahn
One thing many real estate agents have learned is the importance of having a team of professionals to facilitate a smooth transaction. Having a lending expert on the team, can make available the following services to you…all for FREE:
- They stand ready to screen all potential buyers. Today’s lending landscape is a rapidly changing environment. Programs and requirements are changing regularly. A good loan officer should have a reputation for being on top of current guidelines and finding the best solutions for prospective clients. You need to know that when you accept an offer, the buyer can actually close.
- Financing is an important component to getting a home sold. Whether it’s marketing flyers, carrying costs, unique mortgage strategies (such as buy-downs and Sales Concessions) or even loan programs to differentiate your home (ex. loans that can incorporate monies for the purchase and renovation of a home), the best loan officers take pride in their ability to help increase the number of people for whom your home could be a fit. More prospects equals higher sales prices.
- In so far as a professional loan officer is seen as an educator, they would want to offer you the chance to tune into some of their online seminars (called webinars) and videos. As an example, some lenders have webinars with topics ranging from “How Lenders Look At A Mortgage Application” to “Renovation Lending” to “Getting Your Optimal Credit Score”, as well as videos that can fully explain your Good Faith Estimate. They are constantly striving to be a resource for everyone they come in contact with.
- Lastly, your loan officer knows that most home sellers become home buyers. Not only will they run your credit and analyze your income and assets, but they will also pre-approve you for your next mortgage, typically free of charge.
Both your agent and the loan officer on their team are committed to the highest level of advice and integrity. Reach out to them for any questions you may have.About The Author Dean Hartman is the Regional Vice President of Benchmark Lending and a 25 year veteran of the mortgage banking industry. He has achieved the designation of Certified Mortgage Planning Specialist, and also specializes in sales leadership, seminar presenting, and team building. Check out Dean’s Facebook Page, DreamTeamTV.
Posted by Woods Bros Realty
Home Staging Tips November 22nd, 2011
I don’t want to spoil your day, but if you are thinking of selling your home, you need to prepare yourself for what could be a very emotional, physical, frustrating experience. However, there are certain things you can do to lessen the pain. It’s summed up in the word: staging.
Staging is best described as the things you can do to make your home shine. Here are some tips:
• Start from the outside. Make the house warm and inviting from the minute someone pulls up. Tidy up the yard, make sure the outside lights are on, add a clean doormat, paint the door if needed, and display a seasonal wreath or other door hanging.
• Once someone opens the door, make sure your house smells fresh. Don’t overwhelm them with a strong fragrance, but be sure any smoke, cooking or pet odors are gone. A good trick is to bake cookies or simmer some vanilla extract in water on the stove.
• Look around the house and be sure all the floors are clean, carpets don’t have stains, walls are wiped free of smudges, and counter tops, bookshelves, fireplace mantles are free of excess clutter. Displaying a few items is okay but it’s probably best to box up your collections and keep them stored for your next house.
• Especially remember to remove all personal photos. You want the people looking at your home to think of their family living there.
• Re-arrange furniture so there is space to walk through each room. This might require removing a few extra pieces of furniture. You don’t need to move everything up against the walls. Try to create cozy areas, especially in the living room and family room.
• Open your closets. Yes, the buyers will be looking in all your closets. It may be time for to box up and store out-of-season clothes or to thin out your wardrobe. You want the buyer to see that there is a lot of space.
• Do the same in the basement or attic. Invest in some storage totes and get everything organized. If you must, store some items at a friend’s house or rent a storage space. Don’t overlook the garage either.
• For most buyers, the kitchen and bathrooms are especially important. Be sure everything (even inside the stove) is scrubbed clean. You might even plan to have a fresh set of towels that go out just for showings. And keep a bathroom tote handy so you can keep all your personal items (toothbrush, shampoo, etc.) in there. You can plan to put it in the trunk of your car whenever there is a showing.
Remember, none of these suggestions cost a lot of money, just time. Anything you buy can be moved to your next house. These steps could result in a quicker sale and perhaps a better price for your home. And the sooner you sell, the sooner you can be moving on to your next “home sweet home”.
Posted by Joanne McCoy
Cheap and Easy Home Staging Tips November 22nd, 2011
Home staging is a wonderful way to help your home sell more quickly! Buyers are more motivated to consider purchasing a home that suits their family size, budget, and location requirements, but also one that appeals to their senses. What will a buyer see, smell, hear, and touch when they tour your home for the first time?
Contrary to what you may have heard, staging your home to sell doesn’t have to be expensive. Sure, you can hire a decorator or invest in new furniture or renovations. However, if you’re like many sellers I work with, high-end staging may not be in your plan or budget.
That’s why I put together the best staging tips for the do-it-yourselfer. The list I’ve included has been useful to lots of other happy clients. I hope you’ll find it helpful, too!
Home Staging: The Ten Best Do-It-Yourself Tips For $100 Or Less
- Potted Plants, small or large, are one of the easiest and least expensive ways to create visual appeal.
- Home Fragrance such as scented candles, sprays, and plug-in type fragrance gadgets in delicate scents can work wonders.
- Steam Cleaning — Rather than investing in a professional service, rent the machine for one day, and rejuvenate carpets and drapes.
- Baskets and Decorative Containers can help organize scattered items and eliminate clutter.
- Light Bulbs and Dimmer Switches — Brighten dark areas and rooms or soften harsh light with dimmers and the newer soft light bulbs.
- Paint over unusual colors or update stark white walls with a contemporary neutral tone.
- Fresh Flowers — Inexpensive arrangements in vases you already own look beautiful and will smell naturally fresh.
- Throw Pillows will instantly update an old sofa or chair or make a plain bed look luxurious.
- Maid Service can be costly, but hiring one for a day or a few hours is affordable-and it’s worth it to make a kitchen or bathroom sparkle!
- Snacks! A bowl of polished apples, a bunch of grapes or a plate of fresh cookies makes your home look warm and inviting.
One of the tricks-of-the-trade used before showing a home is “staging.” Good staging looks at every feature of a home and finds ways to show it off to its finest advantage. Whether your home is already picture-perfect or needs a bit of sprucing up, these staging tips, taken directly from decorating professionals, are worth considering.
The Top Ten Professional Home Staging Tips Every Homeowner Should Know
- Create the illusion of space by rearranging the furniture. Try different combinations or remove and store pieces that make it feel crowded.
- Arrange the furniture in living areas into intimate groupings that suggest entertaining and ideal conversational settings.
- Consider rental furniture, especially when the pieces you have don’t match, are badly worn, or are in any state of disrepair.
- Add decorative pillows and slipcovers in warm neutral tones to hide flaws and make pieces blend.
- Eliminate clutter. Store or get rid of appliances, gadgets, newspapers, mail or anything that takes up space or distracts attention.
- De-personalize your home so buyers can imagine living in it. Store pictures, awards, trophies, collectibles, and other personal keepsakes.
- Paint walls in inviting neutral colors to cover flaws and freshen rooms.
- Add small luxurious touches to bathrooms and bedrooms. Think plush towels, fresh flowers, high-end bed linens, and pretty bath soaps.
- Eliminate unpleasant odors and smells that can kill a sale. Fragrant candles, plug-ins, and home sprays can help, but nothing smells better than clean.
- Plants add an aura of softness and warmth to any room. Large or small, real or silk-they’re a favorite of professional stagers.
Posted by Jennifer Gatlin
Top 5 Questions to Ask When Interviewing a Real Estate Agent November 8th, 2011
1. How long have you been in the business?
Clients want to know they’re working with someone who knows how to do their job. Experience counts whether buying your first home or selling an investment portfolio of multiple properties. Buyers and sellers of real estate want to work with experienced agents who know how to manage their transaction from start to finish effectively.
2. What’s the worst case scenario of buying/selling?
Clients want to know the risk factors. Real estate is not perfect and sometimes clients assume risk. Knowing the worst possible outcome of any situation helps a client prepare themselves for battle if necessary.
3. What’s the best case scenario of buying/selling?
Clients want to know the benefits. Just as clients need to anticipate risk, they also need to perceive the benefit of taking action, whether in terms of accomplishing part of The American Dream of owning their first home, or realizing profits from smart investing.
4. Can you get the job done, whether buying or selling?
Clients want results. Rather, clients expect results.
5. How soon can we go to work?
Clients want service now. Today’s real estate client has mulitple tools at their disposal to get information quickly and without contacting an agent directly. Websites, text messaging, email, are tools that agents need to manage efficiently to satisfy the clients’ needs for instant service.
Posted by John Janovy
Picking the right agent is crucial October 5th, 2011
The National Association of Realtors (NAR) released their Existing Sales Report two weeks ago and in the report they discussed a troubling trend: cancelled contracts are increasing dramatically. NAR defined the issue:
“Contract failures – cancellations caused largely by declined mortgage applications or failures in loan underwriting from appraised values coming in below the negotiated price.”
NAR explained that 18% of all contracts were cancelled in August. This compares to 16% last month and 9% in August of 2011.
The percentage of cancelled contracts has doubled in the past year!!
It is extremely important that both buyers and sellers pick the right real estate professional to assist them with their real estate needs.
Make sure your agent can not only help you find the home of your dreams but also find you professional assistance with all aspects of the transaction (mortgaging, title, etc.)
Realize that your agent must sell the home twice:
- to a qualified buyer
- to the bank (through the appraiser).
The second sale may be more difficult in this market than the first.
It is imperative in this housing market that both buyers and sellers use a true real estate professional to guarantee that the deal will actually reach the closing table.See original article from KCM (Keeping Current Matters) Blog. Find a Woods Bros Realty professional, who can help you with all aspects of a real estate transaction.
Posted by Woods Bros Realty
Discounted Competition About to Enter the Market? September 22nd, 2011
For the past several years, I’ve been hearing about a backlog of homes that were waiting to be released to the market. Most of these homes are banked-owned, and are currently sitting in the banks’ pipelines. The graphic above from The KCM Blog shows you what that situation might look like.
I’ve never been a fan of government interference in the marketplace. Whether it was the $8,000 tax credit or the currently-artificially-low interest rates, the housing market can’t truly recover until Uncle Sam stops trying to ‘fix’ it. In this instance, however, government interference is helping prevent a total market collapse.
Imagine what would happen if the banks were allowed to suddenly flood the market with all those foreclosed homes. Those properties are typically sold at a discount, which works to drive down property values in the surrounding neighborhood. If you were trying to sell your home, and there were two or three similar houses in the area selling for 10-30% less, you would likely have to discount your home’s price in order to get it sold.
I’ve always maintained that we’re extremely blessed here in Lincoln. Our market has slowed, and we haven’t been immune to the recent changes in the housing market, although we haven’t experienced the dramatic drops like some other cities. However, the number of default notices filed in Lancaster County in the past year has risen substantially. I don’t know if there’s a 47-month backlog of homes in our area, but the pipeline is definitely full.
Will the floodgates open anytime soon? I wish I knew! It would surprise me if those properties were all suddenly released to market, simply because current real estate values would plummet. The economy is still fragile, and a sudden influx of foreclosures into the market would be a big push in the wrong direction. Those properties are still there, though, and they’ll need to be sold at some point. The banks won’t hang on to them indefinitely.
If you’re a buyer looking for a good buy in the year ahead, know that there will be opportunities for you. If you’re considering selling, be ready to prepare and price your house to compete, not only with the traditional listings in your area, but also perhaps with some of these bank-owned properties.
Posted by Jon Rademacher
Nationwide Open House Kicks Off This Weekend June 2nd, 2011
Real estate professionals across the country–and worldwide–will hold open houses this weekend in their local communities to spotlight home ownership as part of the 2011 REALTOR® Nationwide Open House event.
About 250 local associations from 30 states will be participating in an event designed to build buyer momentum around home ownership during tens of thousands of open houses.
The nationwide open house event began several years ago in a few markets, but has since expanded to hundreds of communities, in which real estate professionals not only use it to spotlight homes for sale but also use it as an opportunity to educate the public about the benefits of home ownership, according to the National Association of REALTORS®. Several countries internationally are also taking part, including real estate professionals in Canada, Denmark, France, Sweden, United Kingdom, Peru, and others.
The event, June 4-5, falls in the midst of what is typically prime buying season. And recent housing news gives real estate professionals plenty of encouraging news for home buyers: The National Association of Home Builders reported last week that home affordability reached its highest level in 20 years, making the purchasing power for buyers better than it has been in decades. Plus, Freddie Mac reported last week that for the sixth straight week fixed-rate mortgages inched down, reaching new lows for 2011.
“Home ownership benefits individuals and families, as well as strengthens our communities,” Karen Parkin, 2011 president of the Wilmington Regional Association of REALTORS® in North Carolina, told the Cape Fear Business News. The association is among many nationwide participating in the event this weekend. “Through this nationwide event, we will not only educate the public on the value of owning a home, but also help those who are striving to become home owners take steps toward achieving their goals.”
In Washington state, real estate agents were estimating that up to 7,000 homes would be participating in the event.
Real estate professionals are invited to hold open houses in their area to join in the nationwide open house event. For more information, contact your local REALTOR® association for details about how to participate.Source: “Summer Event Will Spotlight on Home Ownership,” REALTOR.org and “Nationwide Open House Weekend Set for June 4th & 5th,” Cape Fear Business News (June 1, 2011), REALTOR® Magazine Online
To search over 600 Nebraska open houses in Lincoln, Beatrice, Grand Island, Seward, York and Omaha, NE visit www.WoodsBros.com.
Posted by Woods Bros Realty
What in the world is a QRM … May 19th, 2011
What in the world is a QRM and why does it matter to the typical home buyer?
With the 2010 Dodd – Frank bill the U.S. Congress attempted to establish a vehicle to require mortgage generating banks to retain a portion of the securitized loans (loans that are bundled together and sold to investors) that they generate. Simplistically speaking the theory is that if you require the banks to retain say 5% of the loans that they securitize they will be more diligent in assuring that they originate quality loans to quality borrowers thus reducing the likelihood of default. By Congress’s definition exempt from this 5% “skin in the game” rule are FHA loans and Qualified Residential Mortgages or QRMs the definition of which was left up to the country’s six banking regulators.
Discussion to date suggests that a QRM would be defined as a loan based on 80% loan to value, or 20% down-payment, made to a borrower with a minimum FICO score of 690 whose ratio of income to mortgage payment and overall debt is no more than 28% and 36% respectively. While on the surface one might accept that that does in fact describe a qualified borrower and loan the concern is what such a definition does to the mortgage market as a whole.
Banks that are forced to assume additional risk and maintain additional reserves will do what banks always do and that is they will pass the cost of the risk on to the borrower in the form of higher rates and expenses or will raise the bar for qualifying to the point where the only real options are as a QRM or a FHA borrower. Playing out this scenario one can easily project that FHA down payment and qualification requirements would necessarily be raised to manage an already larger than ever intended market share.
With available statistics suggesting that 80+% of first time home buyers put down less than 20% this scenario does not bode well for maintaining the affordability factor so important in that market segment and as we well know, as goes the first time buyers so goes the market. The National Association of Realtors has and is following these developments very carefully and is advising both the regulatory agencies and Congress itself as to what it is sees as the impact of such actions. We will keep you posted…
Posted by Susan and Paul Vaccaro
Emotional detachment from house is important when selling December 10th, 2010
Was watching HGTV for a few minutes with my wife last night, and the homeseller was really offended by the changes suggested by the show’s host. It made me wonder: “why do you care?” (The kitchen was painted purple, green and brown, and at least two other colors, and she couldn’t figure out why that needed to be changed?!)
Here’s the thing: if you, as a homeseller, have decided to move, you need to detach yourself emotionally from the house. That can be hard to do if you’ve lived there for many years, and especially if you’ve made a lot of updates and changes yourself. Your focus, however, needs to be on your move, and on your next home. Please understand that the way you live in your house and the way to market the house for sale are two completely different things. When your Realtor makes suggestions for changes or upgrades, it’s not meant as an attack on your tastes, your decorating skills, or the way you live. You’ve hired him/her to help you sell the house, and the suggestions are meant to accomplish that. Remember that you won’t be in the house for much longer, and that if changes are needed to get you to the next phase in your life, it’s best to make those changes quickly and without hesitation.
I heard this statement recently from a real estate instructor as he commented on the current market conditions: “It’s a beauty contest and a price war.” In eight simple words, that’s a great summation of where real estate is today. If you want to paint your next kitchen purple/green/brown, you have the freedom to do that! To get your current house sold, though, that’s probably not the winning combination. Do what it takes to make your house look its best and price it correctly. If you do that, you’re much closer to getting your house sold, and you can start making plans for personalizing your new one!
Posted by Jon Rademacher
Molacek praised for most home renovation loans closed December 6th, 2010
With 10 renovation loans closed in October, Joe Molacek– a certified renovation specialist with HomeServices Lending — closed the highest number within the Wells Fargo Home Mortgage renovation businessline. Home Services Lending is an affiliate of Wells Fargo Home Mortgage.
Molacek specializes in 203k renovation loans, which allow a buyer to finance the purchase and renovation of a home in one loan. He offices out of the HOME Real Estate North office and can be reached at (402) 441-3210, or Joseph.L.Molacek@HomeSvcLending.com.
About HomeServices Lending, LLC
HomeServices Lending, LLC is the full-service mortgage bank under HomeServices of America, Inc., a Berkshire Hathaway affiliate, and an affiliate of Wells Fargo Home Mortgage. HomeServices Lending is dedicated to serving the lending needs of home buyers, real estate professionals, builders and developers throughout the U.S. The company provides hundreds of mortgage programs, and its mortgage consultants are dedicated to serving each client’s unique financing needs.
All first mortgage products are provided by HomeServices Lending, LLC Series A. HomeServices Lending, LLC Series A may not be available in your area. Wells Fargo Home Mortgage is a division of Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. ©2010 HomeServices Lending, LLC Series A. All Rights Reserved. An Equal Housing Lender.
Posted by Woods Bros Realty
December offers good opportunity for investors November 29th, 2010
The last month of the year represents an especially good opportunity for investors.
Banks and financial companies want to get as many of their properties off the books as they can, and they may be more inclined to make deals to make that happen. Cash offers that can close in a week or two are especially attractive to banks right now, because they know the closing isn’t likely to be delayed. The trade-off for them is that they may be willing to take a lower price in exchange for clearing the property out of their inventory and not having to deal with it in 2011.
If you’re an investor considering a rental property or a project house to fix and flip, or if you’re a well-qualified buyer with the means to close on a house before the year ends, let’s talk — there are opportunities out there for you!
Posted by Jon Rademacher
Put Facebook to work for you in your home search November 23rd, 2010
Do you enjoy spending time on Facebook? If so, you can put this great social media tool to work for you in your home search.
The first step is to choose an agent who shares your enthusiasm for Facebook and invite them to be your friend. Although most agents do not use Facebook to publicize listings and open houses, once you have updated your agent on what you are looking for, it’s the perfect media for them to let you know about new listings that might interest you, and about the open houses they are personally hosting.
You can use Facebook to send your agent questions, or showing requests. You can use it to follow neighborhoods you are interested in as many of them now have Facebook groups or pages. And you can use it to keep friends and family members updated about homes you are considering. Our great www.WoodsBros.com website makes it easy to link listings to Facebook and other social media sites as well.
Posted by Marcia Murray