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What's My Home Worth? 9 Factors That Affect Resale Value 2016-02-09 15:12:00
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Renovations that suit your tastes only

Maybe you put in your dream kitchen a few years ago, indulging your penchant for frosted glass cabinets and an avocado-green refrigerator. The problem in executing your singular vision? You risk finding out no one else shares your taste. "Most buyers want to put their own stamp on their new home rather than pay a premium for your renovation," says Palance. If buyers can't see past your personal sense of style, your home could sit on the market for months - or worse.

Negative history

Was your home once flooded during a storm and suffered mold as a result? Was your street or neighborhood once associated with high crime rates, even if that information is now outdated? Did a fire ever occur on or near the property? Did a crime ever occur? It is near impossible to scrub the public record of your home's history; if your house has a storied history, then savvy potential buyers will know about it - and they may not be eager to inherit that mojo.

Too small ... or too big

One of the first stats potential buyers look for on a real estate site is the square footage. Most buyers are looking to upgrade, so your 500-square-footer might have limited appeal. Conversely, the bloom has fallen off the McMansion rose. The recession of 2008 taught us that oversized properties are not always an asset, and that a large house can become a burden if the market isn't strong enough to support it. Many buyers now are more pragmatic about how much space they really need to be comfortable.

Bedroom or bathroom shortages

The second set of stats scrutinized by buyers? Bed and bath counts. There's no buyer out there who doesn't dream of having a separate guest bedroom or getting a whole bathroom to themselves. Even the most coveted address won't be helped by having only one bathroom or a low bedroom tally.

Out of step with neighboring houses

Is yours a single-family in a sea of townhomes? Is your condo in a modern building surrounded by historic structures? If your place lacks area comps, a bank is going to have a hard time properly assessing its resale possibilities and is likely going to underestimate your home's worth come appraisal time. And that unfair assessment could give your buyer a reason to try to negotiate down the sale price.

No "wow" factor

"Some buildings have an intangible 'it' factor," says Palance. It could be rare architectural finishes, proximity to a renowned landmark, or the fact that celebrities are known to live nearby. But if there's nothing that really distinguishes your home - if there's no "hook" to help make it stand out - it's sometimes difficult to attract attention, especially during the busy spring market. Even if you take your property off the market for a reset, its listing history remains on the record and might drag down future pricing. Permalink | Email this | Comments">Filed under: Home Equity
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By Meaghan Agnew


Here's why your neighbor's house could be worth a lot more than yours.

We've all done it: You want to score tickets to a concert, but you don't want to pay face value, or worse, overpay. So you monitor the tickets' price online, watch prices ebb and flow, and then pounce once they've hit rock bottom.

Now apply this thinking to your home. Just like ticket prices, home values can vary wildly over time - peaking during a seller's market and hitting rock bottom during years like 2008. A smart home seller will monitor their home's value over the years so they know the general price range for their home (Trulia's home value tool is a great way to keep tabs).

But if you want to do some renovations to increase the value of your home for sale in Houston, TX, or are just wondering why the value isn't increasing much over time, you need to understand what other factors influence a home's value. Here are nine variables that might be stalling your resale value.

Location, location ... you know the rest

Proximity to a busy highway, proximity to a large vacant lot, proximity to not very much at all ... poor home placement almost always guarantees a stagnation of value. This is why two identical homes in the same neighborhood can have wildly different listing numbers if one is on a cul-de-sac and the other backs up to a four-way road. Conversely, if you've sat on a property that has seen infrastructure spring up all around it in recent years, you're likely to witness a pleasant jump in perceived market value, especially if the specs of your home appeal to younger professionals looking for walkability.

Stuck in that difficult in-between age

Character-filled old properties are always in demand (ah, historic charm), as are new-construction homes (zero renovations needed). But a house that is 30 or 40 years old holds a lot less sway over discerning shoppers, especially if its layout is odd or dated.

Outdated renovations

Does your kitchen celebrate the early 2000s trends, with dark wood cabinets and wall-to-wall carpet? Is your master bath a paean to the wonders of glass-brick walls and sponge paint? Renovations that were in vogue when you bought your home might now cause a buyer to come in and turn up their nose.
This is not to say, however, that a major renovation is the best way to increase your net return. "In this market, I almost always advise sellers to improve their property rather than fully renovate and then price accordingly," says real estate agent Nicholas Palance. "Fresh paint and flowers spruce up the place for pennies on the dollar."

Renovations that suit your tastes only

Maybe you put in your dream kitchen a few years ago, indulging your penchant for frosted glass cabinets and an avocado-green refrigerator. The problem in executing your singular vision? You risk finding out no one else shares your taste. "Most buyers want to put their own stamp on their new home rather than pay a premium for your renovation," says Palance. If buyers can't see past your personal sense of style, your home could sit on the market for months - or worse.

Negative history

Was your home once flooded during a storm and suffered mold as a result? Was your street or neighborhood once associated with high crime rates, even if that information is now outdated? Did a fire ever occur on or near the property? Did a crime ever occur? It is near impossible to scrub the public record of your home's history; if your house has a storied history, then savvy potential buyers will know about it - and they may not be eager to inherit that mojo.

Too small ... or too big

One of the first stats potential buyers look for on a real estate site is the square footage. Most buyers are looking to upgrade, so your 500-square-footer might have limited appeal. Conversely, the bloom has fallen off the McMansion rose. The recession of 2008 taught us that oversized properties are not always an asset, and that a large house can become a burden if the market isn't strong enough to support it. Many buyers now are more pragmatic about how much space they really need to be comfortable.

Bedroom or bathroom shortages

The second set of stats scrutinized by buyers? Bed and bath counts. There's no buyer out there who doesn't dream of having a separate guest bedroom or getting a whole bathroom to themselves. Even the most coveted address won't be helped by having only one bathroom or a low bedroom tally.

Out of step with neighboring houses

Is yours a single-family in a sea of townhomes? Is your condo in a modern building surrounded by historic structures? If your place lacks area comps, a bank is going to have a hard time properly assessing its resale possibilities and is likely going to underestimate your home's worth come appraisal time. And that unfair assessment could give your buyer a reason to try to negotiate down the sale price.

No "wow" factor

"Some buildings have an intangible 'it' factor," says Palance. It could be rare architectural finishes, proximity to a renowned landmark, or the fact that celebrities are known to live nearby. But if there's nothing that really distinguishes your home - if there's no "hook" to help make it stand out - it's sometimes difficult to attract attention, especially during the busy spring market. Even if you take your property off the market for a reset, its listing history remains on the record and might drag down future pricing. Permalink | Email this | Comments

7 Things Buyers Love That Sellers Fail to Mention 2016-02-09 14:59:00
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Similarly, the movement toward aging in place has seen many more families moving older relatives in with them versus moving them out to retirement homes. These extended families often are looking for homes with a well-appointed "mother-in-law" or "outlaw" unit, or a second master suite located on the home's ground floor. Don't overlook marketing your home's multiple bedrooms with bathrooms en suite or completely independent living quarters.

5. Energy efficiency

Chances are, you won't forget to mention if your home runs entirely off the grid or implements gray-water reuse and rainwater harvesting. But even buyers who aren't hunting for a "green" home can be attracted to the budget-friendliness of energy-efficient features. So if your home is a pretty no-frills property but has a tankless water heater, dual-paned windows, and new insulation, mention it! If you've managed to get your energy bills down way below what's normal in your area, this could be a selling point you don't want to overlook.

6. Eco-friendly features

If you've configured your home to encourage greener living - beyond lower energy bills - that could warrant a mention in your marketing. You might think things like your little organic kitchen garden, backyard compost bin, or that $50 recycling center you installed are so low in cash value that they don't warrant a line in your house listing materials. But loads of buyers are attracted to these sorts of features, so why not call them out?

7. Natural, chemical-free, and hypoallergenic home maintenance

In a similar vein, if you have a hypoallergenic HVAC system or have used only nonchemical cleaning products for the last few years, you might want to mention these things as well. Marketers say today's consumers are careful about not just what they put into their bodies, but also what they put on and around their bodies. If you've taken care to create a home that works well for people with physical or philosophical sensitivities to common household chemicals, make sure prospective buyers know that your house won't make them sick! Permalink | Email this | Comments">Filed under: Buying
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By Tara-Nicholle Nelson


Here are easy-to-overlook selling points that entice buyers, and that sellers should highlight.

Sure, it's easy to market homes for sale in Charleston, SC, that sit on several lush acres, feature gorgeous European appliances, and are located in the most prestigious neighborhood in town (ZIP code envy, anyone?). But it's slightly more intimidating trying to make an average house in a middle-range neighborhood stand out from other real estate listings.

However, there could very well be things you take for granted that a first-time buyer might be drawn to - as long as you mention them in the house listing. Here are seven things buyers love and sellers fail to mention in house listings.

1. Storage

After living in a home for a number of years and likely outgrowing it (that's why you're moving, right?), it can be hard to market storage space if it's something you see as a flaw. Just remember: Showcasing your home in the best light is not just about what you love about it.

First-time buyers are not simply comparing your home with other homes, they also are comparing it with the renter lifestyle and every bad rental property that inspired them to make the leap to being a homeowner. A common complaint from renters is that apartments lack storage, which can lead to a frustrating, cluttered life. The vision of having a place for storing everything is a big motivator for many first-time homebuyers. So if your home is tricked out with walk-in closets, pantries, or other built-in storage amenities that you plan to leave for the new owner, make sure your agent boasts about that in your home's marketing materials.

2. Organization

In the same vein, if you've invested in upgrading your home with built-in closets, kitchen or garage renovations, or customized desks or bookshelves, make sure buyers know. All upgrades should be on your home's online listing. From the first-timer craving a clutter-free existence to buyers who are moving up into a family home and want each family member's space to have at least the possibility of order, built-in organizers can represent value and appeal to a wide range of prospective buyers.

3. Proximity

You might be thinking the right buyers for your home will find it online because of where it's located. Why bother calling out the property's proximity to amenities and attractions?

Some buyers simply might not know to search for your ZIP code if it's just outside the one they're actively searching in. Or they might not be aware that your hidden gem of a neighborhood also happens to be tucked within a half-mile of a train station, entrances to three freeways, and two regional parks. Or buyers' proximity wishes might be different from the location requirements of their search. They might be looking at all homes in your town that meet their price range, but the fact that yours is within walking distance to a major employer or university could push you to the top of the list. And relocating buyers might not have the core knowledge of the area to even begin to know what is around your neighborhood.

Never assume! If your home is well-located in a desirable neighborhood, vis-à-vis major employers, universities, recreational facilities, or walkable shopping and dining districts, talk with your agent to make sure you're highlighting those amenities.

4. Senior-friendly

Boomers are not necessarily looking for homes with built-in disability features, but homes that allow "aging in place" and somewhere they could live comfortably for retirement and beyond. This means homes with level-in entrances (no steps to the front door), single-story layouts, and low-maintenance landscaping have a massive new audience. These features might otherwise not warrant a mention in a home's marketing, but they should - especially if homes near yours tend to have loads of stairs or other features that are difficult for people to navigate as they age.

Similarly, the movement toward aging in place has seen many more families moving older relatives in with them versus moving them out to retirement homes. These extended families often are looking for homes with a well-appointed "mother-in-law" or "outlaw" unit, or a second master suite located on the home's ground floor. Don't overlook marketing your home's multiple bedrooms with bathrooms en suite or completely independent living quarters.

5. Energy efficiency

Chances are, you won't forget to mention if your home runs entirely off the grid or implements gray-water reuse and rainwater harvesting. But even buyers who aren't hunting for a "green" home can be attracted to the budget-friendliness of energy-efficient features. So if your home is a pretty no-frills property but has a tankless water heater, dual-paned windows, and new insulation, mention it! If you've managed to get your energy bills down way below what's normal in your area, this could be a selling point you don't want to overlook.

6. Eco-friendly features

If you've configured your home to encourage greener living - beyond lower energy bills - that could warrant a mention in your marketing. You might think things like your little organic kitchen garden, backyard compost bin, or that $50 recycling center you installed are so low in cash value that they don't warrant a line in your house listing materials. But loads of buyers are attracted to these sorts of features, so why not call them out?

7. Natural, chemical-free, and hypoallergenic home maintenance

In a similar vein, if you have a hypoallergenic HVAC system or have used only nonchemical cleaning products for the last few years, you might want to mention these things as well. Marketers say today's consumers are careful about not just what they put into their bodies, but also what they put on and around their bodies. If you've taken care to create a home that works well for people with physical or philosophical sensitivities to common household chemicals, make sure prospective buyers know that your house won't make them sick! Permalink | Email this | Comments

What to Unpack First in Your New Home 2016-02-08 13:46:00
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Set major furniture and appliances. Position your large furniture pieces and bulky household appliances first. Then you can put any smaller items you unpack later directly in their rightful places. Plan your interior design well in advance so you don't end up moving heavy pieces around several times.



Tackle the necessities

What matters most when unpacking your items after a move is ensuring that your essentials are immediately accessible. So prioritize your belongings, and unpack only the necessities first.

Bedding

You may not be able to unpack the entire bedroom right away, but you will definitely have to set up the bed the day you move into your new home. Reassemble it (if necessary), lay down the sheets, unpack the pillows, and spread the blankets so you can get a good night's rest - you're going to need it!

Provided that you have a change of clothes and some comfortable indoor shoes (as well as curtains on the windows to ensure your privacy), the rest of your bedroom items can wait until you find the time and the energy to deal with them.

Bathroom items

Without a doubt, your personal care items, toiletries, and medicines should top the list of the most important items to unpack after your move. Put out toilet paper and soap, find your toothbrush and toothpaste, hang the towels and the shower curtains, and unpack any other bathroom essentials you're going to need in order to refresh yourself and wash away the weariness and stress of moving.

Also, fill in the medicine cabinet with the medications you have brought, and don't forget to take your prescription drugs on time.

Kitchen necessities

You may have brought some food with you, or you may rely on delivery for the first day or two after the relocation, but you're going to need a fully operational kitchen as soon as possible in order to prepare healthy, homemade meals for yourself and your family.

Kitchens tend to take a very long time to unpack and organize properly due to the large number of items that need to be sorted out and carefully arranged.

As soon as you've hooked up the large appliances, such as the fridge and the stove, move on to your smaller kitchenware. Plates, silverware and glasses should be the first to find their places in cupboards and kitchen cabinets, closely followed by cooking utensils, pots and pans, and pantry items.

Kids' and pets' items

If you have young children, you should unpack some of their favorite toys, books, games, blankets and such during the very first hours in your new home. Keeping your young ones happy and occupied will let you concentrate on your work and finish it faster.

Of course, you should also take care of your pets' needs immediately upon arrival. It's a good idea to pack adequate pet food, water and food dishes, and some of your animal friends' favorite toys in your open-first box.

Finishing up

When you've unpacked the three most essential rooms in your home (bedroom, bathroom and kitchen), everything else can wait a bit. There are no deadlines to meet, so you can set your own pace when unpacking and decorating your new place - just unpack in order of priority and without procrastination.

If you stay organized, set reasonable mini goals and complete them promptly, clean after every unpacking phase, and dispose of the packing materials in a safe and eco-friendly manner, your new surroundings will soon stop looking like a warehouse full of boxes and start feeling like home.

If you have some fun in the process - listen to your favorite music, play "unpacking games" with your kids, and invite friends over to give you a helping hand - the exhausting unpacking endeavor may turn out to be much easier and faster than you expected. Permalink | Email this | Comments">Filed under: Buying
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By MOVING.TIPS

Once all the moving preparations have been made, all the arduous moving tasks have been taken care of, and everything has gone more or less according to plan on moving day, you finally find yourself in your new home, surrounded by piles of boxes, tired and glad that your relocation is about to end.

To fully complete your moving adventure, however, you need to unpack your belongings and make your new place feel like home. But how to even begin unpacking?

First things first

No matter how much you want to get it over with as soon as possible, there are several important things to do before you can actually start unpacking.

Clean and prepare your new home. It's easier to wipe down shelves, clean windows, and mop floors before your belongings have been put in place. Make sure your home-to-be is spotless when your items arrive. If you can't get to your new place early enough to do a thorough cleaning, consider hiring professional cleaners to do the job for you.
Inspect and organize your belongings. Check all the delivered boxes and household items against your inventory sheet to make sure nothing is damaged or missing. Then have each of your possessions taken to the room where it belongs. If everything was properly marked and labeled, sorting out your items will be a piece of cake.
Open your box of essentials. There should be tools, toiletries, clothes, medicines, packed food, basic kitchenware, and other "lifesavers" in it that will allow you to refresh yourself, open the sealed boxes, reassemble your furniture, and so on.
Set major furniture and appliances. Position your large furniture pieces and bulky household appliances first. Then you can put any smaller items you unpack later directly in their rightful places. Plan your interior design well in advance so you don't end up moving heavy pieces around several times.



Tackle the necessities

What matters most when unpacking your items after a move is ensuring that your essentials are immediately accessible. So prioritize your belongings, and unpack only the necessities first.

Bedding

You may not be able to unpack the entire bedroom right away, but you will definitely have to set up the bed the day you move into your new home. Reassemble it (if necessary), lay down the sheets, unpack the pillows, and spread the blankets so you can get a good night's rest - you're going to need it!

Provided that you have a change of clothes and some comfortable indoor shoes (as well as curtains on the windows to ensure your privacy), the rest of your bedroom items can wait until you find the time and the energy to deal with them.

Bathroom items

Without a doubt, your personal care items, toiletries, and medicines should top the list of the most important items to unpack after your move. Put out toilet paper and soap, find your toothbrush and toothpaste, hang the towels and the shower curtains, and unpack any other bathroom essentials you're going to need in order to refresh yourself and wash away the weariness and stress of moving.

Also, fill in the medicine cabinet with the medications you have brought, and don't forget to take your prescription drugs on time.

Kitchen necessities

You may have brought some food with you, or you may rely on delivery for the first day or two after the relocation, but you're going to need a fully operational kitchen as soon as possible in order to prepare healthy, homemade meals for yourself and your family.

Kitchens tend to take a very long time to unpack and organize properly due to the large number of items that need to be sorted out and carefully arranged.

As soon as you've hooked up the large appliances, such as the fridge and the stove, move on to your smaller kitchenware. Plates, silverware and glasses should be the first to find their places in cupboards and kitchen cabinets, closely followed by cooking utensils, pots and pans, and pantry items.

Kids' and pets' items

If you have young children, you should unpack some of their favorite toys, books, games, blankets and such during the very first hours in your new home. Keeping your young ones happy and occupied will let you concentrate on your work and finish it faster.

Of course, you should also take care of your pets' needs immediately upon arrival. It's a good idea to pack adequate pet food, water and food dishes, and some of your animal friends' favorite toys in your open-first box.

Finishing up

When you've unpacked the three most essential rooms in your home (bedroom, bathroom and kitchen), everything else can wait a bit. There are no deadlines to meet, so you can set your own pace when unpacking and decorating your new place - just unpack in order of priority and without procrastination.

If you stay organized, set reasonable mini goals and complete them promptly, clean after every unpacking phase, and dispose of the packing materials in a safe and eco-friendly manner, your new surroundings will soon stop looking like a warehouse full of boxes and start feeling like home.

If you have some fun in the process - listen to your favorite music, play "unpacking games" with your kids, and invite friends over to give you a helping hand - the exhausting unpacking endeavor may turn out to be much easier and faster than you expected. Permalink | Email this | Comments

After 'The Intern,' New York Still Suits Anne Hathaway 2016-02-05 06:00:00
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Filed under: Buying, Celebrity Homes
John Salangsang/Invision/APActress Anne Hathaway, soon to be performing in a one-woman off-Broadway show, has a new place to stay in the city.



By Natalie Wise

A classic New York co-op penthouse now belongs to pregnant Hollywood star Anne Hathaway and her actor-producer husband, Adam Shulman. The 1,200-square-foot space cost the couple $2.55 million, but its storied New York legacy is a big part of that price.



The five-unit mansion was built in 1904 by the Clark family, the real estate magnates who built The Dakota a few decades earlier. As one of the last private mansions built on the Upper West Side, this unit is a piece of history.

But there is great potential for the future, too: It seems the co-op board will entertain selling air rights for expansion. Perhaps Hathaway has expansion on her mind, but she may simply want a place to call home while she stars in the premiere of her own one-woman off-Broadway play, opening this spring.

Despite being small, the space manages to live large with two bedrooms and two bathrooms -- perfect for the new baby coming soon.

There are, of course, a few perks to being the penthouse: skylights in the bedrooms and kitchen, and 18-foot ceilings. Spring should be lovely here for Hathaway, who can enjoy two planting balconies and a private full terrace for sunbathing or entertaining.

A sweeping iron staircase can lead to the penthouse, but when you're the last stop on the elevator, the staircase is mainly for show. The most unique feature in the space might well be the bathroom -- a vibrant, contemporary space in shades of gray, blue and orange.

While it seems Hathaway will be staying in this apartment during her time in New York, in the past she has kept apartments merely to store her massive wardrobe. But that proved a tough sell when she was ready to move on.





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